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"...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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    We are a community of confessing believers who love the gospel of Jesus Christ, affirm the Biblical and Christ-exalting truths of the Reformation such as the five solas, the doctrines of grace, monergistic regeneration, and the redemptive historical approach to interpreting the Scriptures.

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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

    Comments

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

    Austin,

    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.

    John

    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.

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