The 2008 (4th annual) Grace Conference concluded on Friday, July 25th. Last year I brought to workshops on Lordship Salvation. I was asked to do those again this year, but family commitments made this impossible. I was, however, able to attend the Friday morning session, which was a blessing.
Upon my arrival I noticed that there were significantly more cars in the lots than in 2007. Conference organizers confirmed that there was a spike in attendance numbers, which was a surprise to them because of the escalating costs of travel in recent months.
It was able to meet and greet Dr. James Scudder, Conference host and pastor of the Quentin Road Bible Baptist Church, the site of the annual Grace Conference.
It was a pleasure to meet and greet a number of men whom I respect and appreciate. Dr. Charlie Bing was there and we had a chance to share some time together. I learned that he is an avid fly fisherman.
Dennis Rokser, Pastor of the Duluth Bible Church, and editor of the Grace Family Journal was also in attendance. It was special blessing to spend a few moments with him. Pastor Rokser is author of the continuing series, The Issue of Incongruity: Actual or Artificial?
Some of the notable speakers were Dr. Charles Ryrie and Dr. Robert Lightner, Dr. Larry Moyer and Dr. Robert Congdon.
Mr. Liam Moran, a regular visitor to this blog was at the Grace Conference. It was a special, although brief time of fellowship with him. Last night I asked if he would write a brief report of the Grace Conference from his perspective. That report follows and I appreciate his quick response.
“Grace: The Foundation of Our Faith” was the biblical axiom written on the handbag I received when I checked in this year at the Grace Conference held at Quentin Road Baptist Church (QRBC) near Chicago, IL. This year was my second year attending and I was tremendously blessed again by the powerful ministry of this church and conference. I wanted to share a few of the highlights.
Dr. Robert Lightner opened the conference during the first main session. He is Professor Emeritus at Dallas Theological Seminary and is also an adjunct professor at Dayspring Bible College and Seminary which are the schools that QRBC has. After Dr. Lightner spoke, we had lunch and then went immediately into a workshop. The first workshop I went to was by Dr. Larry Moyer. I believe that Dr. Moyer is one of the most gifted evangelists in the nation. There was an IFCA pastor there who shared during the Q & A time, how he as a student at Calvary Bible College had his life touched when Dr. Moyer came to speak there. In Dr. Moyer’s workshop he focused on “how to encourage your people to take the leadership in evangelism,” which is a much-needed workshop.
The Q & A session followed the workshop with some of the main speakers. The Q & A session included Dr. Ron Seecharan who is the Founder and President of Solid Rock International Ministries. Solid Rock Theological Seminary is in India. Also included on the panel were Dr. Lightner, Dr. Ryrie and Dr. Moyer. Many good questions were asked. The one that caught my attention the most was when someone asked the panel, “What do you think of the Crossless Gospel Debate?” The panel kind of looked around at each other and really the only who answered was Dr. Seecharan. I do not recall all he said other than the cross and resurrection is what identifies Jesus Christ as Jesus Christ. While I would agree with this, I was disappointed that there was not further discussion on this important issue by the panel members, especially from Dr. Ryrie. There was obviously much more that could have been said.
After the Q & A session, we had dinner and then Pastor James Scudder, the Senior Pastor of QRBC preached at the main session. Pastor Scudder is, in my opinion, one of the premier grace-oriented expositors alive today. His radio and T.V. ministry Victory in Grace is reaching millions around the globe. He always preaches a clear gospel message. God continues to use him mightily. Pastor Scudder powerfully addressed the false teachings of Calvinism and Lordship Salvation.
Specifically, Pastor Scudder addressed Calvinism’s teaching of *“double predestination.” He then did something I have never seen anyone do before. He had two grandmothers bring their two little grandchildren up on stage with him. They may have been three or four years old. He pointed out that Calvinists teach that these kids may have already been predestined to go to hell without any choice. His point was very clear. It is a horrible thought because it is not biblical. Pastor Scudder also spent time in his message refuting and exposing Lordship Salvation and John MacArthur’s teachings on the issue which he quoted him from his book Hard to Believe. He tied the two doctrines of Calvinism and Lordship Salvation together pointing out how both are simply not consistent with the Biblical teaching of grace.
On Friday, after breakfast, Dr. Moyer preached during the main session. He also gave a very powerful message on the importance of preaching the gospel boldly from Eph. 6:19-20.
Friday afternoon I went to a workshop by Dr. Ryrie. It was a privilege to hear him speak both at the workshop and then at the main session. His afternoon workshop was on “Current Issues Facing the Church.” He spoke briefly on preterism, the emerging church, worship, open theism, etc. Dr. Ryrie is in his 80’s and still is as theologically sharp as ever. Dr. Ryrie always speaks with deep humility and grace. Dr. Ryrie also gave the last teaching message of the conference from Matthew 17:24-27.
Following Dr. Ryrie’s message was the long-awaited banquet. Last year Pastor Scudder said of the banquet, “This may be the best meal you will ever have until the Marriage Supper of the Lamb!” I don’t think he was too far off from making that statement. The church recently hired full-time, the famous award winning Chef Dean Jaramillo from the University of Chicago. He headed up the food for the banquet, which was simply amazing. The banquet was the best food and the most professional banquet I have ever seen. They really work very hard and do an excellent job with the banquet and providing excellent food. The banquet alone is worth coming for.
Dr. Ryrie said in his last message that after speaking at conferences all over world, “This is one of the best conferences in the world.” He further commented on how well they are organized and how well they execute the conference. Personally, the Grace Conference is the best I have ever been to. QRBC truly puts “a face to grace.” They are very professional, generous, and demonstrate true biblical servanthood. I have never seen a conference like this. Pastor Scudder made it clear that they offer scholarships to those who can’t afford to come and they will even help people pay for gas in order to get people there. No other conference or church I know of would do this. QRBC epitomizes graces in every way I know of. They know how to do ministry. This is one of the most impressive and biblical ministries I have ever seen.
In addition to this, they offer a kids camp during the day for the families who bring their kids. They have a swimming pool, horses, a petting zoo, jungle gym and the list goes on of all the activities for the kids.
I want to encourage anyone who has not been there to attend. It was very spiritually refreshing and revitalizing. It was a fresh reminder from going to the conference this year why I am Free Grace. I am Free Grace because the emphasis throughout the New Testament is God’s grace. And the greatest part of grace is that it is free. QRBC clearly recognizes this as well. I have never experienced a conference like this one nor have I ever seen a church like QRBC. The conference is packed with excellent Bible preaching and teaching sessions and workshops that are helpful for all areas of ministry. In addition to this, the networking and fellowship with other like-minded believers is a blessing.
I pray the Lord will continue to bless this conference and church as they continue to proclaim the clear message of God’s grace to the world and seek to train and equip others to do the same.
It is a blessing to see the growth of this particular conference and the balanced, biblical exposition of the Free Grace movement’s theology it represents. My thanks again to Liam for this encouraging report.
*I want to offer a comment on the matter of “double-predestination.” This view is as extreme a doctrine as there is in any Bible-believing circles. “Double-Predestination” teaches that God, in eternity past predestined some, the elect, for Heaven and all the rest He predestined to Hell. While this egregious error is rooted in Calvinism, my experience and interacting with Calvinists showed me there are very few Calvinists that hold to “double-predestination.” Nevertheless, my interaction shows that the Calvinist believes God predestined the elect to Heaven, but the rest He is “passive” toward. That is the un-elect start out on the road to Hell, and God takes no active role in drawing them to salvation in Jesus Christ.
For additonal notes on this subject see George Zeller's God's Sovereignty & Man's Responsibility