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Seminary’s new Gospel tract explains God’s “G.R.A.C.E.”
October 13, 2003
By Jeff Robinson
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has published a new witnessing tract that gives full and robust treatment to the Gospel of God’s grace.
Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. unveiled the tract during Southern’s chapel service on Sept. 25. The tract, which was developed by evangelism and church growth professor Timothy Beougher and two students in the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth, uses the acrostic “G.R.A.C.E.” to outline the Gospel. It is titled “Experiencing God’s Grace.”
“It is so rich in Scripture,” Mohler said. “It is so clear in its Gospel presentation. It uses the right vocabulary. It defines and explains the right vocabulary, and it leads persons to the cross. It is a very effective Gospel presentation, is theologically correct, and I believe it is evangelistically potent.”
At 28 pages, the work is meaty. It begins by asserting God as the Creator and Lord of the universe. It fleshes out God’s moral character and His claim upon human beings whom He has created in His image.
The next points in the acrostic sequence include “R” which stands for “rebellion” and addresses the fall and man’s sinfulness, followed by “A” which speaks of Christ’s atonement, “C” which speaks of the necessity of repentance and faith in conversion and “E” which deals with the reality and meaning of eternal life. Each section contains numerous Scripture verses and sections of text that explain each Gospel precept.
The idea for a new tract arose in the fall of 2001 while master of divinity student Bryant Glisson was taking Beougher’s personal evangelism class. Glisson proposed using the acrostic G.R.A.C.E. as a means of summarizing and presenting the Gospel.
Beougher and Glisson worked together and developed the first draft of the booklet and doctoral student David Bell assisted in writing and editing. The tract was then circulated among 25 members of the Southern Seminary faculty for comments and suggestions.
The tract intentionally begins with the character and attributes of God. A weakness of some tracts is that they risk confusing the reader by beginning their Gospel presentation at a place that leaves the reader confused as to why he needs forgiveness, Beougher said.
A person does not understand his sinfulness and need of redemption until he has first grasped the holy and righteous character of God.
“Richard Baxter, the great [Puritan] pastor of the 17th century made an inter-esting analogy of this truth,” Beougher said. “If a messenger from a king were to come with a pardon to a convicted criminal, about to be hung on the gallows, that man would receive that pardon gratefully and humbly. He knows he deserves to die but the king has pardoned him.
“But if that same messenger from the king were to deliver a message of pardon to an innocent bystander in the crowd, that person would be confused, perhaps even angry. That person would not see himself as in need of a pardon. [He would say,] ‘It is the man on the gallows who is guilty, not me.’
“I believe God must be the starting point for people to see the full picture of sin and salvation. There is a strong emphasis on God’s character of holiness and love, and on our necessary response of repentance and faith.”
Students attending chapel each received two copies of the tract and Mohler challenged them to give away the booklets within seven days and to disseminate 52 additional copies within the next year.
“I think of this tract as a pocket-sized Power Point presentation of the Gospel,” Mohler said. “It will help you share the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe the Lord will bless this. And what better representation can there be of our determination to be evangelists for the Gospel than ... to put it into a form where we will put it into hands and put it into voice and put the Gospel to feet.”
Anyone wishing to obtain a free copy of “Experiencing God’s Grace” may send a self-addressed stamped envelope along with 60 cents postage to: The Billy Graham School, SBTS, 2825 Lexington Road, Louisville, KY, 40280.