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If this were not so, exegesis is pointless - just read old commentaries. Fallible interpreters both now including you and I and in times past haven't grasped the truth fully. The real meat of the issue is the biblical text itself. With that I'd recommend reading books that give the full breath of the matter, more so than blogging.
God bless! Paul, Thanks for taking the time to read my post and to interact with me. I think you make a couple of good points and overall your thoughts are well taken. Let me say a few things in response, though: 1. I do not consider this post the greatest evidence against free grace theology. The greatest objections to the free grace position come from biblical and theological considerations. I mentioned my theological problems with the system yesterday and in a few days will marshal the biblical case against it.
The historical evidence, however, while not conclusive, is substantial. The point of my post is to show that the doctrine of perseverance—that good works necessarily follow faith—occupies a prominent place in church history. Hodges may be able to amass a few quotations here and there, but placed next to the abundance of quotations in favor of perseverance, I think there is no question which side has a greater historical pedigree. I certainly do plan to continue to read and study. I will check out the sources you cited when I am able to. Thanks again for your interaction.
I appreciate your thoughts. If appeal to novelty is a good argument for the credibility of the Lordship Salvation view of salvation, then a good case could be made for the universalist view of salvation as something to be considered. Pages Home. Sunday, March 6, The a historical roots of free grace theology. This is not accepted by the "free grace" teacher, but should be obvious from the verses below:. Acts --"And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
All Christians will evidence some spiritual fruit if they have truly been converted. It should be noted that this manner of living "fruit" or "works" is in no way the basis for our acceptance before God see Ephesians ,9, Titus , Romans ,28, and Galatians ; they are, however, the birth mark of any who are truly born again, as the verses below demonstrate:. Matthew --"You will know them by their fruits. A description of those without Christ is given in terms of their conduct; this conduct is referred to as previous behavior which no longer characterizes the children of God:.
Matthew --"And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Some charge that, by stating all Christians will inevitably show fruit in their lives, we are requiring works as a condition for salvation. If any works are performed by the believer, they are only there because God Himself has done them through us:.
Ephesians --For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. The meaning of the John's first epistle has been fairly uniformly understood throughout the centuries. Note the similarities in structure:.
It should seem obvious that such terms as "the truth is not in him", being "in darkness", "of the devil", "children of the devil", "not of God", not having "eternal life abiding in him", "not from God", and "does not know God" all refer to the state of unbelievers. Further, consider and compare how John used some of these same terms in his gospel to refer to unbelievers:.
A problem passage for "free grace" scholars is 1 John "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. It is a basic hermeneutical principle that, when defining New Testament terms, one may see how an author uses the same term in his other writings to gain the clearest definition. This passage shows just how far "free grace" teachers are willing to look past such rules to preserve their position.
This phrase, "have passed out of death into life", may be compared with John , where it refers to passing out of spiritual death into eternal life: "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. So how can "free grace" teachers get around the clear meaning of this passage namely, that there are behavioral tests which can confirm our status as saved individuals? By stating that the context determines the meaning.
The context, of course, for the "free grace" teacher, is fellowship with God, not assurance of salvation. To resolve the dilemma as to what this passage actually teaches, he has to radically rephrase it as follows: "We know that we have moved in our experience from the realm of death to the realm of life". But John does not speak of moving in our experience from the realm of death to the realm of life, but of actually passing from death to life!
This is why John states he wrote the book, and it is the way the book plainly reads. Besides, the ones he accused of behaving carnally did evidence some spiritual fruit--they were meeting regularly 1 Corinthians 11 and 14 , and were using their spiritual gifts though there were abuses of this present. They were not those who made a decision for Christ, and then never continued on with Christ or in fellowship with His people:.
For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? Romans --in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. All believers will continue in the faith. This does not mean they will not sin, or even end their lives in sin see Acts 5. It does mean they will not utterly reject the faith.
It does mean that God preserves the work He began in them. If they do not continue in the faith, it is evidence that they were never Christians to begin with 1 John ; Col But he who endures to the end will be saved. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
Jude 24 --"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy". Not everyone who would like to claim assurance of salvation has the right to it, because there are many who are self-deceived just as the man at the wedding feast in Matthew thought he belonged in the banquet hall, but was wearing his own garment rather than the one provided for him by the host.
For this reason, we are urged to "make our calling and election sure" 2 Peter His plan of salvation is perfect and complete, and cannot fail. So the hope of our salvation rests on His promise to save those who believe John But there is such a thing as dead or spurious faith James So how may you know whether or not you really have believed?
You are to "examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith" 2 Corinthians But what exactly is to be examined? One legitimate test is the presence of some measure of spiritual fruit or "works". Jesus said, in Matthew , "a tree is known by its fruit".
It logically follows that someone who lacks any evidence of the new birth therefore forfeits his right to assurance of salvation. To encourage such a person to trust in a past decision or experience and be assured that they are indeed saved, though lacking any evidence of new life, may actually lead one who stands condemned to rest in their condition, never being forced to come to grips with their true standing before God. Though our assurance is grounded in God's promise to save us because we have believed in His Son, works have a secondary, confirming value that is, they confirm that we are new creatures in Christ--that we have indeed believed.
Another consideration is the Holy Spirit's role in confirming our standing with God. Romans --The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God 2 Corinthians --Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? Hebrews --And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, 12that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
However, Scripture teaches that all true believers will evidence some measure of love for God. I can certainly understand where the "free grace" teachers are coming from on this point. My own life evidences that I sometimes choose to love sin more than the Savior; and if John teaches that love for the Lord Jesus Christ will be manifest in obedience, then it is obvious that when I am disobedient to Him, I am not loving Him at that time. We all know that none of us obeys constantly, perfectly, or with the purest motives.
However, I believe there is scriptural warrant to say that all believers have at least some fundamental, basic measure of love for God. The only way I can see the dilemma resolved is if the basic love for God which characterizes all believers is not the same degree of love referred to by Jesus in John rather than to assume that some believers never love Jesus at all, as the "free grace" teachers say. This is not hard to understand, because we see this in human relationships. I have a fundamental, ever-present measure of love for my family; however, I do not always manifest this love to the degree that I ought, nor are my emotions toward them always constant.
To ask, "Do you always love your wife? Sometimes I show grand romantic gestures or loving acts of service to demonstrate my love for her; sometimes I argue with her, especially when I want my own way. Sometimes my emotions for her overflow, and sometimes they only trickle; however, I never cease loving her. I believe that all believers do love the Lord Jesus Christ.
We do not always love Him with the same degree of consistency or fervency. Sometimes we manifest our love with heartfelt obedience, and sometimes we choose to delight in sin for a season more than in the Savior. But some measure of love is never absent; even in sin, the Spirit produces sorrow for having displeased Him. It must be stressed, however, that loving the Lord does not make us fit for heaven; our love is not meritorious, but is resultant from and evidential of the new birth.
Consider the following verses:.
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Luke --"Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little. Therefore, another term for a justified person is one who loves God. Hebrews --"so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. It is argued by "free grace" teachers that the "overcomers" mentioned in Revelation 2 and 3 are "victorious Christians" who will get to reign with Christ during the millennium.
But John, the same man who authored Revelation, makes it clear who he means by an "overcomer":. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? All believers are heirs, and will inherit the kingdom of god--not just "overcoming" believers, as "free grace" proponents teach. Study each of these verses in context, and it will be discovered that inheritance is often linked with sonship, and salvation is the context of our inheritance:. Matthew --"Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
Note the implication: Faith, not the law, makes one an heir. Notice Romans : "and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. Many "free grace" teachers say that Paul is describing two separate categories of Christians in this verse: "heirs of God", which includes all believers, and "joint heirs with Christ", who are victorious, faithful Christains who alone inherit the kingdom of God.
However, to say he introduces the inheritance of only victorious believers in this verse would be for him to insert an unnecessary idea out of context, for he could have simply stopped after saying, "heirs of God". Further, it is obvious that both categories are describing believers in general: "heirs of God" are the same as the "children", and "joint heirs with Christ" are those who, at the end of the verse, are said to be "glorified together" with Him.
Also, v. Finally, the context is clear who "the unrightous" are. These "unrighteous" people are called "the world" in verse 2, and "unbelievers" in v. This is the whole reason Paul mentions that "the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God": to instruct the Corinthians that this makes them unfit to judge matters between believers. Surprisingly, "free grace" teachers ignore the plain teaching of this verse to preserve their doctrine.
Matthew - Works Salvation? Galatians --Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Again, compare this list with similar lists in Revelation and , which refer definitively to unbelievers.
Ephesians --In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will. Ephesians --that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel Colossians --giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
Titus --that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. James --"Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? Revelation --"He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.
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But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. Note also that inheriting is contrasted with those who have their part in the lake of fire and the second death. Another teaching advocated by the "free grace" movement is the belief that only the victorious, overcoming, faithful believers will actually get to reign with Christ during the millennial kingdom and, according to some, reigning with Christ in eternity as well.
As Earl Radmacher puts it, "reigning with Christ is conditioned on faithful service" Salvation , Word Publishing, , p. And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? If we deny Him, He also will deny us. Revelation ,10 --And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.
Revelation -- And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.
This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. Again, it is those who have part in the first resurrection, over whom the second death has no power, who will reign with Christ. Rewards are often emphasized in this doctrine, because these men care about sanctification, and feel that the mention of rewards in the Bible is a primary, if not the primary, motivation for holy living.
However, rewards are simply, as Augustine has stated, "God crowning His own achievements". If all our righteous acts are as filthy rags Isaiah , even our best deeds are tainted with impure motives and sinful desires. Rewards should motivate us only to the extent that we recognize that God will be glorified in the thing that earned the reward, because He ordained and enabled it.
We will, like the elders in Revelation , cast our crowns at His feet as we acknowledge Him to Whom alone credit is due Psalm It is true that the Bible does mention rewards, and the prospect of rewards should impact our behavior as is exhorted in the New Testament.
But I believe the primary motivation for holiness comes when we ponder the glory of God as reflected in the face of Christ 2 Corinthians - After 11 chapters of presenting and describing the gospel of the cross of Christ, Paul, in the 12th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, begins verse 1 by saying, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. And in his other epistles, the pattern is quite the same: theology first, followed by the practical application which springs from the theology. Earl Radmacher, a "free grace" advocate, states in his book "The Disciplemaker" that Reformation-minded believers often are too focused on the cross. He states that they are reminiscent of Roman Catholics because of their emphasis on the cross of Christ rather than future rewards.
What a contrast from the apostle Paul, who stated, "for I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" 1 Corinthians ! We are not saved by making a mere human decision; rather, God in His mercy opens our eyes and hearts Acts ; Acts ,18 and grants faith to us as His free gift.
At stake in this issue are the following:. However, if it is a faith which has its origin in my good decision-making ability, or my wisdom, or my moral judgment, then I have reason to boast. God may get 99 percent of the glory, but my pride will feed on that 1 percent. Consider the following passages: John --John answered, "A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.
Acts --And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. Acts --And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace" Ephesians ,9 -- "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, lest anyone should boast. Both the "free grace" teachers and those holding to the teaching of the Protestant Reformation hold to the view that salvation comes by faith alone "sola fide".
However, the definition of saving faith differs significantly between the two camps. According to Bob Wilkin, one important step in avoiding confusion over the meaning of faith is to "realize that faith really is intellectual assent" Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Spring , Vol. But is faith really "intellectual assent"? But Scripture indicates that, while information must be mentally received and understood by the mind, the heart must be involved as well.
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Note the following passages: Romans ,10 --because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Acts --One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. Note: it is said that the Lord opened her heart, not her mind. This is an important distinction.
If faith is mere assent to facts, then only her mind would have needed changed. Faith is not simply, as Wilkin states, "being convinced or persuaded As Benjamin B. Warfield has said, "We cannot be said to believe that which we distrust too much to commit ourselves to it" Benjamin B. Warfield, Biblical and Theological Studies, Baker, , pp. Though Bob Wilkin makes the point in the Grace Conference that "trusting in Christ is not quite the same as believing in Him" the title of his presentation , Scripture makes faith and trust synonymous.
Even though it is used on three occasions of the experience of the unregenerate in hell Matthew , 50; Luke , it is also used on four occasions of the regenerate in the kingdom Matthew ; ; ; This interpretation violates a basic hermeneutical principle, i. The real meat of the issue is the biblical text itself. With that I'd recommend reading books that give the full breath of the matter, more so than blogging. God bless! Paul, Thanks for taking the time to read my post and to interact with me.
I think you make a couple of good points and overall your thoughts are well taken. Let me say a few things in response, though: 1. I do not consider this post the greatest evidence against free grace theology. The greatest objections to the free grace position come from biblical and theological considerations. I mentioned my theological problems with the system yesterday and in a few days will marshal the biblical case against it. The historical evidence, however, while not conclusive, is substantial.
The point of my post is to show that the doctrine of perseverance—that good works necessarily follow faith—occupies a prominent place in church history. Hodges may be able to amass a few quotations here and there, but placed next to the abundance of quotations in favor of perseverance, I think there is no question which side has a greater historical pedigree. I certainly do plan to continue to read and study. I will check out the sources you cited when I am able to. Thanks again for your interaction. I appreciate your thoughts. If appeal to novelty is a good argument for the credibility of the Lordship Salvation view of salvation, then a good case could be made for the universalist view of salvation as something to be considered.
Pages Home. Sunday, March 6, The a historical roots of free grace theology. Consider the following research that supports my arguments above: As to the lack of historical foundation for the free grace opinion, D. Consider just a few pieces of information: John MacArthur, in an appendix to his book Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles , furnishes an abundance of historical material that clearly shows that Lordship salvation has been the consistent witness of the church throughout history.