Why the Fellowship Exists

The Gospel is the greatest thing. Especially when we realise what it is. Few people understand completely what it is when they first get converted. Often, we're just moved, and then we assume it, and eventually we grow immune. After a while we even begin to treat it as something else. Of course, the Bible is very clear about it all. But it takes literacy at the very least, to actually know it.

The Gospel is the greatest thing. - But knowing God's worth, appreciating him, loving his son's rule, that actually happens only when you appreciate the actual realities of the Gospel, things we should have known from the start.

The amazing in amazing grace is only as amazing as our grasp of the Gospel.

At the institutional level, things are not working so well either.
There aren't a lot of pastors being produced for one thing.
Church is another worrying feature of the evangelical landscape for many of us.
It's not often that we become biblically literate through church. It's also quite often that our churches either stick slavishly to traditions that may actually be opposed to the Gospel. It's also quite often that our churches become places where we learn the wrong practices. Let's face it, even governments make mistakes, what more the church which is undermanned, underfunded, undertrained.

Some churches even teach the opposite of the Protestant Reformation.

GGF doesn't pretend it can solve all this.

We're simply a fellowship. But we can't do nothing. At the very least we can start to care. We've all been 'woke' in our own experiences of God's wonderful work by His Spirit. The word shone powerfully into our hearts and minds making us realise we'd been wrong about some deeply cherished beliefs.

We also began to work at reading the bible.

And we trained at doing ministry according to God's way. There was just too much of our own habits and unbiblical presuppositions in how we did things.

Many of us have also reached a point in our commitment to the work of the gospel where we're working out how to teach more, do ministry better, to raise support for doing it full-time.

All of the above has ruffled some feathers. Being intentional brings sometimes unwanted attention and a lot of misunderstanding. People are quick to judge, slow to listen, full of the very errors we have also made in the past, which we have repented of.
But we experienced a change of mind and heart brought about by the Bible. We experienced the Reformation for ourselves.

We have the Reformers as older saints, even if they're not perfect models for our time. But they had one thing right (and many more). They deeply, deeply respected and feared God. It was through this that they appreciated his grace, became God-glorifying ex-Roman Catholics, ex-heretics.
We hardly see these models around us anymore.
We pray for a new generation of church leaders, from all walks of life, all denominations, united by this God-glorifying understanding and vision of Gospel truth and ministry.

"The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God."
– Martin Luther, 95 Theses

How We Run – Our Approach

We are people gripped by God's great truth. In other words, we're about Real. We are practical people. More importantly we know that God deserves all glory in his servants' carrying out his mission by preaching his word without fear or favour.

The how is important to us.

We see how the Reformers were so gripped by the Gospel that they spoke in a manner that reflected the urgency of mission, the high stakes of loving the saints, and the critical cause of God's holy glory.

Take Luther here in his criticism of indulgences:
"To consider papal indulgences so great that they could absolve a man even if he had done the impossible and had violated the mother of God is madness." – Martin Luther, 95 theses

He is of course simply quoting what has been said. But he does not refrain from repeating such a crude and violent image.

We know why he speaks thus. It is because he is driven like all of us by the reality of life and death under God, the horrors of human sin, and of hell, and equally, the glory of God's worthiness.

Like God Himself who speaks thus through his human spokespersons, for example:
"But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart. Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as hard as their foreheads. Like emery harder than flint have I made your forehead. Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house." - Ezekiel 3:7-9 ESV

And his Son:
"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you." - John 5:39-42 ESV

And his biblical authors:
"For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things-- things that belong to salvation." - Hebrews 6:7-9 ESV

Luther wasn't alone.

Reading John Calvin or Zwingli, we will find the same tone and manner.

We know Christians are not ready for this – many are reacting negatively to the intensity of our language and discussion when we meet under God's word. Many look then for softer sweeter pastures. But that is to be regretted deeply. For God's speech is not sweet when it is devoid of truthful judgment. Instead, we read of Ezekiel tasting a bitter spirit as sweet.

Intense and Intentional

We have seen that the problem is not just a lack of Gospel-centricity. That's just the symptom. The problem is deeper, and simpler. Just read the Bible - it is full of the same problem we face. The problem is…
Us. We are the ones prone to abandoning the truth.
Even the ones teaching orthodoxy are often unwittingly perpetuating the same.

Paul in all his struggles understood what was lacking in his own pithy way.
"Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
Let all that you do be done in love."
- 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 ESV

But they are wise words indeed. Here's more from another wise saint closer to our time:

"This is not an age in which to be a soft Christian. We as Bible-believing evangelical Christians are locked in a battle. This is not a friendly gentleman's discussion. It is a life and death conflict between the spiritual hosts of wickedness and those who claim the name of Christ." - Francis Schaeffer

"Truth carries with it confrontation. Truth demands confrontation; loving confrontation, but confrontation nevertheless." - Francis Schaeffer

In understanding, we must be men.

Thinking God's thoughts after Him

No matter what we are offering then, our real concern is for Christians to think theologically in a way that is faithful to the biblical Gospel. We even have a conference dedicated to this called TTC.
Our concern is to help people realise not just what is right, but what is wrong, and to take people from understanding, to faithful ministry.

(We are first in the category of ER growth that is not just content-oriented, and that takes people from awakening to training to leadership of churches.)

Just as Luther argued for rebuttal of the Reformation by theological reasoning:
"To repress these very sharp arguments of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies and to make Christians unhappy." – Martin Luther

Although we're always running out of time, we are all trying to learn the truth for ourselves.
Bloom's taxonomy is a framework for the design of all our offerings.


Our desire is that Christians in Malaysia might be as gripped by Scripture as those who have believed in the past.
"The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men." - Acts 17:10-12 ESV

Learn More about How We Run and Our Approach

The Scriptures make it clear that what everyone needs is the robust theological understanding that leads to godly and faithful service to God (Ephesians 4). Our focus has not been on one particular demographic but both young and old who are to contribute to the church's health (1 Corinthians 12).

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."
- 2 Timothy 3:14-17 ESV

All of the Scriptures are God-breathed, every book, every word, for us his people to be able to serve Him.

Being God-centred so that we live in service of his glory is achieved by God through the learning, believing, and understanding of the Gospel of Jesus being Lord, in the truth that reproves, corrects, and trains. As a Fellowship we are therefore dedicated to preaching and teaching what must be practiced in preaching and teaching in the church, in season and out of season.

Following from the above,

  • Our Learning to Learn God's Word (Biblical Literacy) ministry is conducted at the level just below the technical understanding that church overseers would be required to have (1 Timothy 3).
    The spectrum of what we run is designed for evangelical growth. We have been the first and are still the only ministry providing a full set of offerings including in Biblical Theology and on Theology as well as a dedicated conference on the Gospel and many others. Our goal is not the running of conferences to simply teach content or skills, but in the whole series of offerings and events including the practical Building Healthy Churches event, we aim for evangelical growth and practice.
  • In our teaching, discussion, and application, we try to practice radical candour.
    As Christians thankful for the Reformation, we deeply appreciate the Reformers' arguing for the Gospel-centred church to be 'always reforming'. Correction of this sort is rooted in a humble appreciation of God's truth and obedience to his gracious rule.
  • Learning approach:
    We try therefore not to simply 'learn the facts' but reflect on God's great truth and act worthily of it by applying it without limiting His word to 'safe' areas within our comfort zones. We don't want to limit God by limiting His word's rule over us.
  • Most of our offerings are residential, not drop-in activities.
    To achieve all of the above we eschew consumer-centric preferences common in many conferences today. Instead, our offerings are often multi-day residential affairs, our small group culture is to work hard at the text, and we run the daily schedules flexibly so that deep learning takes place. (During the Covid pandemic, we held firm and decided to postpone most of our activities rather than run diluted versions online)
  • We are building local and indigenous quality, using more local vs foreign talent for teachers and leaders.
    We train and use scores of local Christians to run workshops, electives, seminars, small groups as well as teach. Having qualified local pastors to teach means that their familiarity with the context in terms of challenges and the dynamics of understanding ensures greater effectiveness in achieving evangelical growth.

This is what we mean by 'growing evangelicals'
We are a fellowship dedicated to evangelical growth.

Evangelical → Gospel-centered, gospel-founded, gospel-mannered, gospel-controlled
The gospel is everything, more than just the benefit of justification.
We are a fellowship dedicated to doing that growth in an evangelical way.

Learn More about Gospel Growth and Evangelicalism

What is an evangelical?

Martin Luther and other leaders of the Reformation used the term 'Evangelical' which is from the Greek word for 'good news'. Luther even disliked the term Lutheran and preferred the identification of 'Evangelical' because it was the rediscovery of the Gospel that led to the Reformation of Medieval Christianity. Since the word 'euangelion' in the Greek is 'the Gospel', to be evangelical is simply to appreciate the fundamentally Gospel-founded and Gospel-centred character of Christianity. Over the centuries however, Evangelicalism has become simply Christianity in the broadest sense across liturgical boundaries, when in fact to be Evangelical is really to be especially concerned as the Reformers were with Biblical authority and for faithfulness to the Gospel.

What is gospel growth and what's the difference between gospel growth vs other growth?

Gospel growth is a term coined by our founder which comes from the New Testament, observable in the book of acts where 'the Word Grew', see also other texts like Ephesians, Colossians, Romans (the framing of it according to the opening and ending of the book – Rom 1.1f and Rom 15, 16). We see in Acts a major motif of how the church grew according to the Word, the Gospel that was being preached (Acts 2:41, 4:4, 4:29, 31, 6:(2-4)7, 8:4,14, 25, 10:44 & 11:1, 11:19, 12:24, 13:7f, 44f, 13.48-49 & 14:3, 14:25f, 15:7 & 35-36, 16:32 & 17:11f, 18:5, 11-12, 19:10, 20, 20:32, 28:30-31) – a message proclaiming the fulfilment of God's plans according to Old Testament promises fulfilled in the death and resurrection of the Messiah. Evangelicalism, which has always been identified by a 'crucicentrism' (see Bebbington's definition), should rightly be growing in this way. This is why GGF's tagline is 'Growing Evangelicals'. Importantly, this growth was marked by faithful witness in the face of opposition, which the Fellowship is all too familiar with.

What's so good about the kind of growth that comes from the gospel?

A lot of Christians may agree the Gospel is important. But they also think that growth is important without defining that that growth is to be from the gospel. Or some Christians are even against growth preferring a Christianity that cares for them according to their needs. Even worse, many Christians see the Gospel as only initially significant, but not central and foundational.
The New Testament and the motif of Gospel growth in Acts, however, show that the church has its beginnings in the Gospel, and is maintained by the Gospel by a growth that the world is hostile to naturally, and through which God grows his church even more. Gospel growth is truly the growth God has given to His people according to his Son's glorious teaching and rule.

Today, none of this can be presumed knowledge. Even for church leaders it can be difficult to remember that growth has to be more than just of a single church or the unique 'magic' of a church that has hit upon a formula for numerical increase. Gospel growth is really the qualitative and quantitative progress in knowing God and His glorious truth according to the biblical theological plans of God that was revealed in Genesis (see Dr. G.K.Beale's The Temple and the Church's Mission ).

So, that's why GGF can be summed up in 'Growing evangelicals'.

That's what we're really about. Evangelicalism is really just Christianity. A Christianity that is the result of trusting in God's full authority as declared in His Son's Gospel. A Christianity that grows because it is faithful to that gospel of the Son. So growing evangelicals is all about staying faithful to Christ's work that he began in His life, teaching, death, resurrection and ascension which He has commissioned all of us saints to do. It is the work that we must continue to do because we love Him, honour His name, and wish like the apostles to see His church presented pure and faithful to Him.

Growing evangelicals is what we are because this is how God's evangelicals grow – by His teaching.

Without obedience to this teaching, the Church will not be faithful. Faithful Christianity is the foremost concern today for the church swims in a sea of false alternatives, many which are attractive to the ill-equipped Christian.

In this world and environment, what we need is not just knowledge. We need to be committed to the cause of Christ. Growing evangelicalism cannot therefore be just about 'learning the Bible' or 'raising leaders' in a 'business as usual' fashion. GGF has to be fixing real problems of unfaithfulness to the Gospel. We don't want Jesus to find us barking up the wrong tree.

Who We Are

This kind of gospel growth means some Christians will have experienced a sea-change of views. They will be woke from a lifetime of unbiblical presuppositions.
But the result will also be a greater commitment to life under God. It's the blessed life for all Christians to have. Just like what our partners have experienced.

We are Christians from all backgrounds, all walks of life, a diversity of language and church traditions, brought together by God in the common experience of knowing his Gospel and realising the need in our churches.

We are committed church members with many responsibilities in the church and in our busy working lives, but we see the importance of trying to put in more hours to help improve the state of Christianity. We are fathers and mothers, single, older, younger, learning to stay hopeful in Christ Jesus.

What We Do

As a Fellowship, we maintain a focus on being a help to the local church for growth in the gospel. Our work therefore covers these four pillars:

  1. Committing to Christ's Ministry, where we provide workshops, talks, and personal consultation to help people see that Jesus doesn't just want Sunday Christians, but Monday to Sunday, 24/7 Christians who are committed to Jesus' ministry in all areas of life including their jobs.
  2. Learning to Learn God's Word is the pillar where we emphasize biblical literacy. We want people to know how to read the bible for themselves so that they can truly know God and do ministry faithfully.
  3. Training to Do Ministry - where we train up disciples to make disciples by handling his word with all care
  4. Leading Ministries - where church leaders are encouraged to grow and build healthy churches in pastoral ministry.

Why We Do What We Do

The church is at risk of losing what makes it stable and beautiful as has happened before, when it is at the same time perfectly capable of growing healthily from the Gospel – Ephesians 4:11f; Colossians 2:6f.

"This is a somber matter; we are repeating on the evangelical side the very attitudes which led to the birth of liberalism. The irony is that the very things which led to the liberalism which has been the great enemy of evangelicalism early on in this century have been taken into the evangelical churches. We are fools if we think that what happened in liberalism will not happen in evangelicalism too unless we repent and recover the gospel." - David F. Wells

Ours is a task of patient hope and consistent effort, because we don't believe we can replace the church. We are hopefully catalysts, and a safe place for discussion and biblical thought.

We don't believe we can replace the seminary or even the parachurch that runs specialised ministry.

Our vision and concern is to call for faithful Christianity – united in a concern for the state of evangelicalism, and Evangelical and Reformed in conviction and practice.

For Christians our goal is not simply Christians who have learnt skills, or information, but the saint/believer who is committing to a life of God-glorifying love for His Son's teaching.

What We Believe – Our Doctrinal Position

Our doctrinal concerns are similar to the concerns of other Evangelicals in the Western world like that of The Gospel Coalition, Reform UK, the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, the 9 Marks ministry and more.

God's glory is why we work so hard

We are firstly motivated by the fifth 'sola' of the Reformation: 'soli deo gloria'.

Here's an excerpt from Barrett's God's Glory Alone that explains this important theological truth:

Soli Deo Gloria: The Glue that Holds the Solas Together

Even so, there may seem to be something about soli Deo gloria that works less well than the other four as a motto summarizing Reformation theology. Teachers of Reformation theology, trying to be fair and accurate, often have to remind their students that medieval Christianity and sixteenth century Roman Catholicism did not deny the importance of Scripture, faith, grace, and Christ. Theologians spoke of them often and would have eagerly affirmed that there is no salvation without them. But if we could press the matter further and ask these theologians about the little word alone, we would soon find genuine disagreement. While the Reformers claimed that Scripture alone is the authority for Christian faith and life, Roman Catholics professed reverence for Scripture but insisted that the church's tradition and the Pope in Rome stood alongside Scripture to interpret it infallibly and to augment its teaching. When the Reformers asserted that justification comes by faith alone, Roman Catholics responded that justification does indeed come by faith, but also by works alongside faith. They had similar exchanges about grace and Christ.

Claims about Scripture alone, faith alone, grace alone, and Christ alone concerned the two chief points of debate between Rome and the Reformation: religious authority and the doctrine of salvation. Soli Deo gloria thus appears to be a bit of an outlier. When the Reformers proclaimed that glory belongs to God alone, did Roman Catholics really respond that glory in fact belongs equally to God and something or someone else? Does the principle of soli Deo gloria, magnificent as it is, really have much to do with the Reformation itself?
Indeed it does, even if Rome never directly denounced the idea of glory to God alone as it denounced the ideas of Scripture alone and faith alone. Soli Deo gloria can be understood as the glue that holds the other solas in place, or the center that draws the other solas into a grand, unified whole. Recent writers suggest the same idea when they speak of soli Deo gloria as "the logical implication of the other four points" or as the motto that "subsumes all the others."

What justifies such strong claims? Simply put, the fact that salvation is by faith alone, grace alone, and Christ alone, without any meritorious contribution on our part, ensures that all glory is God's and not our own. Likewise, the fact that Scripture alone is our final authority, without any ecclesiastical tradition, magisterium, or Pope supplementing or overruling it, protects the glory of God against every human conceit. Rome, of course, would never admit to usurping God's glory. Even meritorious human works, it says, are accomplished by divine grace infused through the sacraments. The church's traditions grow organically from the practice of the apostles, Rome adds, and the Pope is the servant of servants. But the Reformerss came to understand how such claims, though perennially attractive, ultimately reveal the deceit of the human heart. How we like to think that there's something for us to add to the satisfaction and obedience of Christ or to the inspired word of the prophets and apostles, and even that God is wonderfully honored by our contribution. But the Reformers perceived that the perfect word and work of Christ—precisely because they are perfect—need nothing to supplement them. Anything that tries to supplement them, in fact, challenges their perfection and thus dishonors God's word and work in Christ. If the Roman Catholic doctrine of authority and doctrine of salvation are true, all glory thus does not belong to God alone. And God, Scripture tells us, will share his glory with no other (Isa 42:8).
We might think of it in another way. By holding forth soli Deo gloria as the lifeblood of the solas, we remind ourselves that the biblical religion recaptured by the Reformation is not ultimately about ourselves, but about God. Our focus so easily becomes self-centered, even when we ask the same important questions that occupied the Reformers: Where can I find God's authoritative revelation? How can I escape the wrath of God? What must I do to be saved? The other four solas provide necessary and life-changing answers to such questions, but soli Deo gloria puts them in proper perspective: the highest purpose of God's plan of salvation in Christ, made known in Scripture, is not our own beatitude, wonderful as that is. The highest purpose is God's own glory. God glorifies himself through the abundant blessings he bestows upon us.

A Theology of Glory Versus a Theology of the Cross: Martin Luther

As we embark on this study, some puzzling questions may arise for readers familiar with Reformation theology. Didn't Martin Luther speak against a "theology of glory"? Can an emphasis upon the glory of God actually detract from a biblical "theology of the cross" rather than illumine it? These are good questions. Luther did, in fact, call for a theology of the cross to replace the theology of glory he thought so prevalent in his own day, but his purpose was not to divert our attention from the glory of God. Rather, it was to explain how God manifests his glory to us and calls us to glorious fellowship with him. This is a great example of Luther's delight in paradox. Anyone who wishes to know the great God of glory must see him through the humility of the cross. Luther's reasoning is worth contemplating, because it exposes an important theme in subsequent chapters of this book: according to Scripture, glory comes through suffering. God is most highly glorified through the suffering of his Son; Christians know God and are glorified with Christ only by taking up their cross and following him.

Luther objected to the so-called theology of glory because he was concerned that Christians were seeking to know God in the wrong way. Many theologians thought they could understand the one true God by the speculative power of their own reason. They figured they could get to God directly and perceive him as he is in himself. Luther countered that we have no hope of knowing God unless he takes the initiative and reveals himself to us, and this strips us of our illusions of control. The theology of glory, therefore, is an exercise of human pretension. Sinful human beings, cloaking their hubris in a seemingly pious religiosity, try to climb to heaven to get a peek at God in his majesty. If we want to know God, Luther came to recognize, we must know him through revelation, and his clearest revelation is in Scripture. And when we open Scripture and learn that we are lost sinners, and that a God of wrath and judgment stands against us, the theology of glory becomes but a dream extinguished by Scripture's dawn.

In Scripture, however, Luther also discovered the theology of the cross. As long as sinful people strive to come to God by their own resources, the Almighty will keep himself veiled. But when they seek him through the humanly unimaginable way of the cross, God redeems them from sin and provides genuine knowledge of himself. To behold the God of glory, we must behold God beaten, mocked, and crucified. To gain everlasting beatitude, we must utterly humble ourselves and find refuge only in a cursed cross.

It may be helpful to hear this in a few of Luther's own words. Some of his most famous statements about the theology of glory and theology of the cross come from the Heidelberg Disputation, composed in 1518, during his early efforts at reformation. Luther identifies two kinds of theologians. One is the "theologian of the cross": he "who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross" is the one who deserves to be called a theologian. "It is not sufficient for anyone," writes Luther, "and it does him no good to recognize God in his glory and majesty, unless he recognizes him in the humility and shame of the cross." On the other hand, Luther describes the "theologian of glory" in this way: he "who does not know Christ does not know God hidden in suffering. Therefore he prefers works to suffering, glory to the cross, strength to weakness, wisdom to folly, and, in general, good to evil." The "theologian of the cross," in contrast, has been "deflated and destroyed by suffering and evil until he knows that he is worthless and that his works are not his but God's."

As it turns out, Luther's critique of the theology of glory was hardly opposed to the perspective summarized at the opening of this chapter. I noted that the two overriding concerns of the Reformation had to do with religious authority and the doctrine of salvation. Luther championed the theology of the cross as a result of the same concerns. The theology of the cross was built upon biblical revelation that rejected all speculative human attempts to know God in our own way. The theology of the cross was also a theology of salvation, rejecting all vain endeavors to reconcile ourselves to the creator. It therefore points only to the grace of God in Christ, and summons us to confess our own poverty, to look outside of ourselves, and to cling only to Christ by faith. It hardly turns us away from God's glory altogether. God glorifies himself, and we can live for his glory, but only along a path that unaided human reason could never have discovered and would never have dared imagine. The way to God's glory winds through the lowliness and desolation of Calvary."

- VanDrunen, D. & Barrett, M., 2015. God's glory alone—the majestic heart of christian faith and life: what the reformers taught…and why it still matters, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.