‘Christ Our Hope in Life & Death’

There is a statement that I often heard from my mentor, Dr. John C. Whitcomb. It was humorous, but also profound—usually offered as a title for a photo he had just taken.

“The name of the picture,” he would famously say, “is, ‘There’s still hope!’”

Of course, our hope in life and death is ultimately found in Christ alone (Rom. 8:38-39). Many have come to appreciate the need for such hope in a more profound way over the past two years. “Christ Our Hope in Life & Death” was our theme this week as we gathered in Albuquerque, NM, for the annual convention of IFCA International.

That theme was expounded upon and experienced in a variety of ways—through preaching in plenary sessions, music, workshops (covering a number of theological and practical topics), business and planning sessions, chaplains’ trainings, women’s and children’s programs, and—of course—meals and other downtimes.

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A Report on the IFCA Annual Convention (Part 3)

Read Part 1, and Part 2.

Another topic that received almost as much attention as the main theme at this year’s IFCA International Annual Convention, which was held in Lincoln, Neb., from June 28 to July 2, was social justice as well as the related subjects of critical race theory, intersectionality and wokeness.

In this final installment of a series about the convention, I will attempt to sum up a great deal of discussion that occurred on this topic.

First of all, on Tuesday morning, it was the subject of the first theological panel called, “Race and the Social Justice Issue.” Panel participants were as follows:

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A Report on the IFCA Annual Convention (Part 2)

In the previous installment, I began to share a report on this year’s IFCA International Annual Convention, which was held from June 28 to July 2, in Lincoln, Neb.

The convention theme was “The Soon & Coming King—Biblical Eschatology.” Convention attendees ratified a resolution that complemented that theme, titled, “Resolution on Dispensational Premillennialism.”1

The convention afforded plentiful opportunities for teaching and discussion. In addition to the four general sessions, there were two theological panels, and 23 workshops in six different timeslots.

There were also five business sessions and three women’s conference sessions, along with children’s programs.

Additionally, there were specialized meetings for chaplains.

Dr. Richard Bargas, executive director of IFCA International, set the tone for the week with his general session message on Monday evening.

“Dispensational premillennialism was the majority view,” Bargas said. “But with the rise of the ‘Young, Restless, Reformed’ crowd … there was a backlash against dispensationalism. Now the popularity of the Left Behind series is used to mock dispensationalists.”

However, Bargas emphasized: “Those who reject our view cannot do it on exegetical grounds.”

He said that the theological opponents of dispensationalism do simply end up mocking it.

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A Report on the IFCA Annual Convention (Part 1)

During the week of June 28 to July 2, I attended the annual convention of the IFCA International, where I oversaw the exhibit for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.

The theme of this year’s convention was “The Soon & Coming King—Biblical Eschatology.” General session speakers were Dr. Richard Bargas, executive director of IFCA International; Dr. Thomas Ice, executive director of the Pre-Trib Research Center and professor at Calvary University; Dr. Michael Vlach, who was in the process of moving from The Master’s Seminary (where he taught for 15 years) to Shepherds Theological Seminary (where he is now professor of theology); and Dr. Larry Pettegrew, research professor of theology at Shepherds.

“We need to plant flags as IFCA members,” Bargas told the crowd of more than 300 that assembled for the first general session on June 28. “We have some convictions.”

“The name ‘IFCA’ means a lot to us,” Bargas added during the first business session on June 29, referring back to the adoption of a 2020 “Resolution on Dispensational Theology and Hermeneutics.”* “We didn’t do anything new,” he stated regarding that resolution. “We just put a flag up to say, ‘This is who we are.’”

Bargas said that the IFCA’s bold stand has made it more attractive to some who are looking at the options along the ecclesiological landscape—especially those who are “tired of the sliding, tired of the compromise.”

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IFCA International Statement on Biblical vs. Same-Sex Marriage

From Voice magazine, July/August 2016. Used by permission.

We Rejoice in the Proclamation of the Truth

The members and churches of the IFCA International maintain their historical commitment to God’s Word, the Bible as the final and supreme authority in all matters of faith and practice. Morality is a matter of bibli­cal definition, not subject to any cultural, social or political redefinition. Morality, when left to popular opinion, will drift from generation to generation, but biblical truth remains constant and absolute.

The Biblical teaching on issues of human sexuality and marriage is the final word regardless of what any human individual or human institutions, organizations or groups might con­tend. There is no authority that can supersede, countermand or preclude the teaching of the Word of God.

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Beyond Lines in the Sand - Thoughts on Joining the IFCA

I’ve just submitted my testimony, doctrinal statement, and personal philosophy of ministry overview to the leadership of the IFCA International, formerly the independent Fundamental Churches of America (IFCA).The IFCA allows you to join as either a ministry or as an individual. While the congregation I pastor will remain independent of official group membership for now, I am joining as an individual minister of the gospel.

I’m excited about my new membership in an association of leaders and ministries that is hardly new. The IFCA has a fantastic heritage. Several friends, family members and ministries I have great respect for are, or have been, associated with the IFCA. Not too long ago our friends at Clearwater Christian College near Tampa joined the IFCA. This is a decision I’ve been working through for several years and I wanted to share a few thoughts on the move in hopes that it can help others who are working through similar types of decisions.

I want to say that first of all, in a sense, I view joining a group like the IFCA as not being a direct response to any Scriptural imperatives for leaders or ministries. Rather, it is similar to the reasons for having Sunday School. Sunday School is nowhere commanded in the New Testament, yet teaching and leading God’s children in grace and truth is certainly an imperative found within the Scriptures. In a similar way, leaders and congregations certainly coordinated ministry and worked together throughout the early NT church. So the question is not really “should we cooperate?” but rather “with whom should we cooperate?”

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