Overseer's Message

January 30, 2019


Dear fellow credential holders:


Greetings to you all in the victorious name of Jesus our Lord. I hope this communique finds you all well and rejoicing in the goodness of God. I am blessed to report that all is well with us in the Player family and we are so grateful to the Lord for this. I can hardly believe that January 2019 is almost at an end. It seemed like just the other day that we were celebrating the beginning of the New Year and here January is drawing to a close. I trust that you all had enjoyable times with your respective families over the Christmas and New Year celebrations. It is our prayer that God will prosper each one of you as you fulfill His will for your lives in 2019.


It gives me great joy to relate to you all that we were able to balance the budget for 2018 and to end the year in the black for the first time in many years. Not only that, but we actually ended the year with a small surplus to aid us in 2019. I want to thank each one of you for your faithfulness in stewardship and for your continued prayer and support on our behalf. Soon, each one of you should receive a copy of the 2019 budget in compliance with the request from the floor during convention 2017 at Sandusky. Furthermore, it gives me great pleasure to report that all the plans for convention 2019 are complete and we should be in a position to make the brochures soon. Please remember to mark your calendars for convention in Syracuse, New York, from the 7th to the 9th of August 2019. We are so excited to see what God will accomplish on our behalf during the upcoming convention. By the way, if you desire to make convention part of your annual vacation, the hotel we have made arrangements with has agreed to give to all IFCA registrants the right to arrive early and leave later at the same cost. What a blessing!


The last time I wrote to you all we looked at Eph 2:7 together, this time I would like us to examine Eph 2:8-10. In v5 of Chap 2, Paul added a parenthetical statement that we dealt with previously-“by grace ye are saved”. Now here in v8, Paul returns to this vital declaration for the purpose of expanding and clarifying it. He seems bent on making it very clear that the marvelous work of salvation from the tyranny of sin is only and completely by the glorious grace of God. In vv1-3 here in Chap 2, Paul has taken us through a valley of death to the mountain tops of abundant life in the Lord Jesus Christ-from bondage to freedom, from fear to faith, from despair to hope, from death to life. Now, at the height of salvific experience, he reminds us of what brought us to this place-the grace of God. Here in verses 8 and 9, we have the whole Gospel encapsulated. Of these verses John Wesley said, “Grace, without any respect to human worthiness, confers the glorious gift. Faith with an empty hand and without any pretense to personal desert, receives the heavenly blessing”. Salvation has only one source and that is the free and wonderful grace of God. A study of Church history reveals to us how important this emphasis of Paul’s was and is. For while unbelievers are frequently blinded by the delusion that salvation is by works, that in some way we must merit or earn or work for salvation, professing believers have frequently imagined that we are saved by a mixture of grace and works, that salvation, though of grace, is received not by faith, but by some kind of merit or worthiness. This statement Paul makes in verses 8 and 9 totally destroys both these notions. There are four sections to his declaration:


                (1). “For by grace are ye saved”-In the Greek there is a definite article before “grace”-in other words, “by the grace”. This implies that Paul is reflecting back on “the grace” that he had already mentioned in v5. Here, as in v5, he uses the perfect tense, which should be translated, “you have been saved”. The perfect tense has reference to a completed action in the past with abiding consequences in the present. The completed action is the atoning death of Jesus Christ at Calvary which has present consequences (results) in the lives of everyone who believes. Divine grace procured the salvation of the lost sinners through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Man can do nothing to earn salvation. Man can neither originate his salvation nor merit it. Even the faith to believe is the gift of God (Rom 12:3).    No believer can take pride in his/her position as a Christian. We can only humbly rejoice at what has been accomplished on our behalf. Our God acted in sheer kindness, mercy, and love, at the horrific cost of His son’s life, towards objects in whom there was nothing worthy of His favour and graciousness.


                (2). “Through faith”-here we are presented with the instrumental cause of our salvation. As the Holy Spirit in chapter one is the conduit between the believer and the riches of Jesus Christ so faith is the conduit for salvation between the sinner and God the Father. My professor, Noel Brooks says, “The originating cause (of salvation) is divine grace; the meritorious cause is the death of Christ; the instrumental cause is faith (gifted by God) exercised by man. However, there are three suppositions that we need to avoid in relation to saving faith: (a) It isn’t mere intellectual assent to Biblical truth. Make no error the intellect is involved, but saving faith goes far beyond understanding and consenting to Biblical truth. Rather, it is faith in the sense of full and complete reliance or trust; (b) It isn’t a meritorious work for which God bestows salvation. One cannot acquire merit for a gift (faith) received and appropriated; (c) Saving faith must not be considered apart from its object. “Faith” is not like some magic wand that procures the miraculous salvation for us; it is faith in Jesus Christ that saves. Jesus Christ is the object we place our faith in. Saving grace is not in man or in faith but in God alone, who saves everyone who believes, through the atoning work of His Son. Francis Foulkes, in the Tyndale commentary says, “This faith is defined best as a turning to God with a sense of need and weakness and emptiness and a willingness to receive what He offers, to receive the Lord Himself. (Jn 1:12).


                Well, that’s all we have room for this time folks! I do still have two more sections to Paul’s declaration in vv8,9 to look at and v 10 as well, but it will have to wait until my next letter. I assure you we will complete that thought! Let me take this opportunity in closing, to express my deep appreciation and love for each one of you in the IFCA fraternity. Thank you for your faithfulness to our Lord Jesus Christ and to His calling of each of you to the ministry through the IFCA. May our God continue to anoint and bless each of you in your respective fields of labour. Connie and I are proud to associate with and give leadership to each and every one of you. We take joy in praying for you all and kindly solicit your prayers for headquarters and on our behalf. Until our next communication, God bless you all!

Yours in His service,

 

Michael Player

General Overseer

IFCA