"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « Soon to be out in Paperback | Main | But I thought Calvinists Never Evangelize... »

    What Do you Think of the Free Grace Movement?

    Visitor? Have you done much research into the Free Grace Movement (FGA, GES)? I have having much conflict with my senior pastor who is a member of the Free Grace Alliance and hold firmly to Free Grace Theology. It would be a great encouragement if you could give me your take on the whole movement.

    Response: The free grace movement, if I have my movements correct, are the no-lordship people. We obviously do not share their beliefs. I find it most striking that the "free grace" movement likes to speak of grace when they don't even believe that a work of the Holy Spirit is necessary to believe the gospel. If my memory servers me correctly they are free-willers and erroneously think that faith is what man contributes, as if this were easier than obeying the law. However, it is clear from the Scripture that the nature of proud fallen man is such that he can no more submit to the humbling terms of the gospel any more than he can obey the law, without renewal of heart ... or without the Lord removing the old heart of stone and granting him a new heart of flesh (Ezek 36:26)

    Visitor: Yes, you do have your movement correct. From my experience the whole Free Grace Movement exists more for what they are against then what they are for. They are anti-lordship and anti-calvinism. They seem to be strongly dispensational to the point that if you are not dispensational, then you don't know how to interpret the Scriptures. With your understanding do you think this is a theology that will continue to grow, or do you think it is on its last legs? I am a Youth Pastor, and like I said before, my Senior Pastor is really having a hard time with me not being on board with his theology. Thank you, John, for your reply!

    Response: I think Dispensationalism itself is on its last legs but it will not die easily. It has influenced American evangelicalism significantly for the last 100 years, but Dallas Seminary, the mother ship of Dispensationalism, has recently changed their tune from Classic Dispensationalism to Progressive Dispensationalism, which is really, in many ways, closer to Covenant Theology than Dispensationalism.

    The so-called free-grace movement is indeed anti-calvinism, and what this means practically is that they reject salvation by Christ alone. Why do I say this? Well, of course they believe in the necessity of Jesus Christ, but the reject the sufficiency of Jesus Christ ... Sufficiency meaning that Christ provides EVERYTHING we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe. Their free-will theology essentially makes them sneak in a frightening level of semi-pelagianism (even though they like to talk of grace). They are, in fact, not free grace. They believe grace is CONDITIONAL. That is, God only loves a person if they meet his condition, faith. Otherwise they are cast into hell. While we agree with them that God gives us a condition of faith, but since man is impotent to exercise faith apart from regenerating grace (John 6:63-65) Jesus Christ mercifully provides everything we need for salvation INCLUDING a new heart to believe. Their strange belief system asserts that Jesus died for all sins EXCEPT the sin of unbelief. Our belief somehow makes up for our sin. But I believe the Scripture declares that if faith does not spring from a new heart, which God works in us, then we can boast in our faith because we cannot thank God for it. We could easily pray "thank you Lord for providing all I need for salvation except for faith. That is the one thing I came up with on my own." Thus we would end up attributing our repenting and believing to our own wisdom, humility, prudence, sound judgment and good sense. What makes Christians to differ from non-Christians from would then not be Christ but something else in me. Such a teaching radically misrepresents the Scripture.imho. I have long known of this movement (form the 1980s) and think it is a sub-Christian understanding of the gospel. That is not to say that many are not saved, but rather that their system of belief is largely inconsistent with the Bible.

    Posted by John on February 6, 2012 06:19 PM


    Dispensationalism and free-grace, conditional election, free-will heresies are mutually exclusive. One does not entail the other. Please represent positions correctly. Thanks.


    Read the post more carefully. I did not equate Dispensationalism with the free grace movement or free will. I simply acknowledged the those in the "free grace movement" were dispensationalists, since the visitor asked me about it.

    On the other hand, I believe Dispensationalism is on its last legs, not at all because it is equated with the free-grace movement, but because it cannot stand up to the most basic biblical scrutiny, especially in its erroneous view of the radical segregationist view of the church and Israel, as if Jesus had two brides, not one. Ephesians chapter 2 itself refutes this heterodox view in dispensationalism.


    I had been attending a "free-grace" church for about 6 years. And though I have learned so much in the study of God's Word, by His Holy Spirit... I am so confused.

    My husband and children are not able to follow the preacher at the previous church, plus their are no children. We opted to seek out a church that we could worship at, one that would provide growth and understanding of God's Word, and fellowship with other Christians. We are now at a reformed church, and my previous pastor says he could never go to this church. What am I not seeing? My only understanding of the reformed church is that it teaches that God has done the change in us, and not we ourselves. Our salvation is a gift of grace, but it is my nothing that we have done. It's all about what God has done for us. Please help with some understanding.

    As John indicated, one thing that unites all in the "free grace" movement is their opposition to reformed theology. I have some familiarity with he movement, being in a church with a Dallas seminary graduate for about seven years and having listened to a few of its advocates in interactions with James White. While all are agreed in their opposition to Calvinism, there is definitely a range in how it plays out, from an understated disagreement (my former pastor, being a gentle man, used to say he was a three-and-half point Calvinist) to outright hatred and incoherent mocking (some sermons presented in James White's podcast by an individual White calls "brother Jack", really "jacksmack77” on YouTube). This "free grace" theology seems to engender a cultic mindset in its more unstable advocates. It sounds to me like you are definitely in the right place!

    There are two streams of Free Grace theology. The Free Grace Alliance and the Grace Evangelical Society. The FGA is not that radical and can almost fit into a Reformed mold. It proposes that salvation comes by grace alone and not by anything done, so someone cannot do anything or promise to do anything to be saved, but must believe that Christ died for them. Sanctification is also by faith and regeneration doesn't mean that someone can't fall into habitual sin for a time or even for a long while. Actually only perfectionists believe otherwise. The GES, however, believes that believing the cross is not necessary to salvation. This, I believe, is outside the pale of Christian orthodoxy. The first group is represented by so-called four point Calvinists like Ryrie, while the second group by people like Zane Hodges. The first group objects to so-called Lordship salvation because they believe at the point of salvation, no one has to make a vow of absolute submission to Jesus. They say he is Lord but we don't have to make Him absolute Lord over our lives at that point. I think the issue is mainly use of terms. We know that sanctification is progressive and a newborn Christian, even if he vows to make Jesus Lord of everything, rarely does. I don't think anyone really does in practice. The disagreement is about intent. Does this newborn Christian, who maybe never went to church, have to intend to become absolutely submissive or can he just believe. The less radical group does believe that saved eople will bear fruit, but some may have fruit that is hard to detect, anyway that is the view of Ryrie in his book, So Great a Salvation. I see no problem with this group, but do see a problem with the GES.

    Dear Friends,

    I just wanted to share my understanding of free-grace theology. Hope that's OK to do here. I would fall into that "camp." Those within the "free-grace camp" have some areas where they disagree with each other, but they all believe that eternal salvation is a free gift received by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone and is distinguished from sanctification which is a process and which includes obedience to God's Word. I have a blog where I share some of these issues (if anyone is interested in checking it out).

    I also have one post referring directly to GES.

    Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you on your blog about free-grace theology.

    All because of HIS wonderful grace,

    Free grace theology is simple believing Jesus’ words, NWT John 3:15-16 “15 so that everyone believing in him may have everlasting life.+ 16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son,+ so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”
    Have you believed in His words? NWT John 5:23-24 “so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.+ 24 Most truly I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes the One who sent me has everlasting life,+ and he does not come into judgment but has passed over from death to life.”
    Has Jesus given to you everlasting life?

    I would consider myself free grace and also would consider myself a 0 point Calvinist. Oh I believe in eternal security. But my biggest problem with Reformed theology is the fact that God would allow someone to be born into the world with the sole reason that the person is going to spend eternity in the torment of everlasting punishment is because God chose not to grant that person grace unto Salvation. So when it is all said and done, people are eternally alienated from God, not on the basis of choices that they have made, but rather on a choice that God has made. I find that doctrine most disturbing and incompatible with God and Scripture.

    THe real underlying issue is how lordship defines faith and works. % point calvinism is a close system with the God complex. they will not budge on their stances and definitions and people get burnt out because the so called leaders ( some not all) want to control people and their money. THey want their liturgy( their practical walk or sanctification) to be the ultimate standard in how church should be done. this is called a monopoly. its just roman Catholicism under a different name.Lordship might have the right intentions but due to the name calling and John Macarthur confusing millions of people with his book; Charles Ryrie and Zane Hodges and others had to call him out because he is not reading his bible correctly. Free Grace makes the simple observation and distinction that salvation is not discipleship. end of story. This is basic comprehension of the fundamentals of the faith. Everything else is in house semantics on the best way to evangelize. God does not work within the boxes of TULIP.

    I just found out tonight that the Free Grace Movement is not monolithic. I didn't know that the Free Grace Alliance (FGA) existed. Though I am Reformed in my soteriology, I can affirm the FGA Covenant. One of the articles in their Covenant states, "Faith is a personal response, apart from our works, whereby we are persuaded that the finished work of Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection, has delivered us from condemnation and guaranteed our eternal life." [I would take "persuaded" as including the work of God regenerating us and opening our spiritual eyes to the Gospel and not just mental assent.]

    As for the GES Gospel, I believe it is heresy to teach that you do not have to believe that Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead. "Faith comes by hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ" (Rom 10:17). What is the word of Christ? That Jesus is Lord... He is God (Rom 10:9)... and that He died for our sins and rose again from the dead (Rom 10:9, 1 Cor 15:3-4). If one does not know that Jesus died and rose for them, they will go to hell. It is for that reason that I would label the GES teaching on this as heresy... it may result in the damnation of souls if believed.

    GES's fatal flaw is their self-designed, artificial hermeneutic that restricts any salvific passages to the book of John, as if no other NT writer wrote anything concerning the salvation of unbelievers. The GES absolutely murders the text of Romans to the point of just being flat ridiculous. I'm not sure how anyone takes them seriously... seriously. :-|

    Just finished the first day of TGC17 Conference where they unveiled the New City Catechism. I'm glad to see this and will use it with my kids. I think that the disappearance of Catechisms has been harmful to the Church. However, I think that the disappearance of Catechisms like the Westminster Catechism promotes dispensationalism. How? Historic Catechisms, such as the Westminster, promote a certain theological viewpoint concerning the covenants. Without the aid of catechisms, Bible readers will not be affected by historical theology. And when one just reads the Bible at face value, he sees that there is a distinction between Israel and the Church. Ephesians 2 doesn't negate the existence of both groups; it argues that both believing Jews and believing Gentiles are now one in the body of Christ. Jews are still Jews and Gentiles are still Gentiles. Romans 11:25-26 indicate that God still has a program for the Jewish people in the future. Taken with Zech 13:8-9, two-thirds of the Jews will be cut off at the 2nd Coming of Christ, and a third will believe in Christ and will be saved.

    I think Jean makes a salient point. Reformed theology is catechal more so than Biblical and that without the predigested and directioning, one who reads the Bible normally concludes far more like a dispensationalist. In my life time I have seen dispensationalism move steadily in a free grace direction more or less. The old hardline Calvinists have disappeared or are disappearing. The only ones I know of taking a Calvinistic bent are those who have fallen into Universalism. I don't know if Progressive Dispensationalism will ever really get traction in the rank and file as it seems to be only an academic position which many will see as an backwards step towards Covenant theology. In any case, it is a mistake to think of dispensationalism as being on its last legs. People are rather Bible studiers and independent thinkers rather than ones who get spoon fed a catechism. The truth may be closer to an evolution of dispensationalism moving up the theological food chain in which Calvinism and Arminianism find themselves more alike than not and both on the menu!

    Sorry, I meant to say "Josh" not "Jean"!

    Book of John mentions ''believe'' 99 times and never says repent or submit---never. Book of John is only book in bible that speaks to unbelievers and tells them about Christ and what he can do for you in salvation. It mentions confess twice but not for salvation. It is clear that believe in Him is sufficient for salvation. Trust him. Believe and repent are synonyms

    Book of John mentions ''believe'' 99 times and never says repent or submit---never. Book of John is only book in bible that speaks to unbelievers and tells them about Christ and what he can do for you in salvation. It mentions confess twice but not for salvation. It is clear that believe in Him is sufficient for salvation. Trust him. Believe and repent are synonyms

    Book of John mentions ''believe'' 99 times and never says repent or submit---never. Book of John is only book in bible that speaks to unbelievers and tells them about Christ and what he can do for you in salvation. It mentions confess twice but not for salvation. It is clear that believe in Him is sufficient for salvation. Trust him. Believe and repent are synonyms

    So i was searching for unity between free grace dispensationalist and Calvanism and came across this page. Much of what is said here is simply not true. I am free grace, dispensational and provisionist. Typical of most reformed calvinsim, it is both narcissistic as well as antisemitism. Not all Calvinist are this bad but you guys take the cake.

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