Because Grace Christian Assembly identifies itself as “A Sovereign Grace Fellowship,” we are often asked whether we are part of a recent movement called “Sovereign Grace Ministries.” The short answer is: No, we are not.
While we are certainly proponents of any group of churches advancing Reformed Theology and while we do have a good deal in common with SGM soteriologically, we also have significant differences that have caused us to be cautious as we wait to see what they will eventually become.
Sovereign Grace Ministries is an organization devoted to planting and building churches that promote their brand of theology and ecclesiology. While they demonstrate a commitment to Reformed doctrine, their history is charismatic and they continue to promote the charismatic gifts as part and parcel of their overall faith and practice.
Here is a piece of the Statement of Faith, under the heading “Empowered by the Spirit,” from Covenant of Life church, where Sovereign Grace Ministries got its start:
In addition to effecting regeneration and sanctification, the Holy Spirit also empowers believers for Christian witness and service. While all genuine believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit at conversion, the New Testament indicates the importance of an ongoing, empowering work of the Spirit subsequent to conversion as well. Being indwelt by the Spirit and being filled with the Spirit are theologically distinct experiences. The Holy Spirit desires to fill each believer continually with increased power for Christian life and witness, and imparts his supernatural gifts for the edification of the Body and for various works of ministry in the world. All the gifts of the Holy Spirit at work in the church of the first-century are available today, are vital for the mission of the church, and are to be earnestly desired and practiced.
In the early days of SGM, their website included a defense of the Charismatic perspective and a question in their Q&A was “Why do you talk in tongues?” They have recently taken most of those references off their site, but it is clear that they still promote and adhere to those practices.
C.J. Mahaney, one of the founders and current president of SGM, was the pastor of Covenant Life Church for 27 years, which still bills itself as a “Reformed Charismatic” church.
On the plus side, they do offer a nice library of Sovereign Grace music on their website and, as I said, I am certainly an advocate for anyone who is advancing the cause of Sovereign Grace theology. SGM organizes significant, well-attended conferences each year and the preaching I have heard from them thus far is firmly Reformed.
You can read more about SGM at www.sovereigngrace.com
Now, let me be clear. I am not criticizing SGM for holding to their convictions and practicing what they preach and believe. I am simply stating that we at GCA do not promote those same practices and so we have not affiliated with Sovereign Grace Ministries. We pray for God’s good favor and blessing on their endeavors and efforts to spread the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace.