Puritan Gems

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Free Grace or Cheap Grace?

A Refutation of the No-Lordship Heresy

"Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, 'We are delivered!'-- only to go on doing all these abominations?” (Jeremiah 7:8-10)

"If the professed convert distinctly and deliberately declares that he knows the Lord's will but does not mean to attend to it, you are not to pamper his presumption, but it is your duty to assure him that he is not saved. Do not suppose that the Gospel is magnified or God glorified by going to the worldlings and telling them that they may be saved at this moment by simply accepting Christ as their Savior, while they are wedded to their idols, and their hearts are still in love with sin. If I do so I tell them a lie, pervert the Gospel, insult Christ, and turn the grace of God into lasciviousness." - C.H. SPURGEON

The grace of God is an effectual grace, though while not given to us by means of any meritorious acts, it creates a new creature from the old and produces visible fruit. The process of sanctification may differ from saint to saint, but this process is inevitable for the true believer. However, by adopting the terminology of “free grace” to cover their heresy, the corrupt schoolmen of No-Lordship salvation have sunken to playing word-games. The “free” grace they promote is not only free in the sense that it is unearned, but also in the sense of its worthlessness. It is not the biblical, effectual grace, that being “the grace of God” which “has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12). Rather, their grace is of a cheap and unfruitful sort, proceeding from some vain “belief” that they have contrived of their own virtuous resources. This particular brand of belief is less profitable than that of devils, for at least the belief of devils causes them to tremble (James 2:19). In their warped theology, this self-constructed “belief”, even if just for a fleeting moment, is all that is necessary to allow one into the Holy Jerusalem. Repentance, Holiness, and even the new birth are optional items to be filed under the important but non-critical category of “discipleship”. In No-Lordship theology, the new creature may live in harmony with the old (2 Corinthians 5:17), and the fruits of the Spirit may be blended with the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-24).

“…they are working with an unbiblical notion of “grace.” Grace is not a liberal clemency or a passive indulgence that simply tolerates and coexists with sin. Divine grace doesn’t guarantee heaven in the afterlife while merely overlooking the evils of this life. Authentic grace is the undeserved favor of God toward sinners, delivering them from the power as well as the penalty of sin (Romans 6:14).” – John MacArthur

In contrast, the true religion, as given to us in the Holy Writ, gives serious warnings against such vain babblings. Christ was very clear that “…unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3). This is effectual, powerful, and life changing grace, bringing sinners out of the darkness and into the light (Ephesians 5:8). This grace requires more than just a mere profession or a taste of religion, for “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1 John 1:6). The ability to believe the truth is itself a gift from God (Acts 13:48; Phillipians 1:29), for “…no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” (1 Corinthians 12:3). The new birth is most necessary, for His mercy saves us “…by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Titus 3:5).

The Apostle Paul clearly emphasized the importance of his own sanctification, the lack of which would lead to his damnation. “…I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Corinthians 9:27). The grace Paul taught was neither a license for lasciviousness, nor was it meant to be “fire insurance for the wicked”. He warns believers in Corinth that “the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Do not be deceived” (1 Corinthians 6:9). Simon Magus “believed” (Acts 8:13), yet was unregenerate (Acts 8:20-23).

"Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46)

The new birth produces fruit, as God Himself promises “…I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36:27). We must be careful not to impugn true converts who may not be as far along in their sanctification as others, but those of the true faith will strive for obedience and “the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14). This is discipleship, enabling true converts by the Spirit to persevere in the faith, as those who do not “were not of us” (1 John 2:19), for Jesus never knew them (Matthew 7:21-23). If God’s Spirit is in us, we will obey His statutes. In contrast, those who claim to know Christ but do not obey His commandments are emphatically called liars (1 John 2:3-4). The true gospel not only proclaims the goodness and mercy of God, but the severity of his wrath toward apostates. The meat of the gospel is to “repent” (Matthew 3:2), to “bear the fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8), thereby fleeing “from the wrath to come”. (Matthew 3:7). Sanctification is not an option. Without repentance, there has been no conversion. Therefore, "…Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity." (2 Timothy 2:19). Jesus Christ is both your savior and your Lord, or He is neither.

There has been some question as to whether or not Sola Fide was taught or even properly understood by the early church fathers. For example, regarding Clement of Rome, it is true that he taught that we are “justified by our works, and not our words”, but this is not speaking of the means of justification, but rather the fruits (For no one actually taught justification by words). In this, he agrees with the inspired apostle James:

“So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe--and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"--and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (James 2:17-24).

Clement was clearly a proponent of Sola Fide, but he did not promote the dead faith and “easy-believism” of our modern antinomians. He writes, “We are not justified through ourselves, neither through our own wisdom or understanding or piety or works we have done in holiness of heart, but through FAITH."

In the end, the promoters of "No Lordship" salvation may have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. From such, turn away (2 Timothy 3:5).

For More Information, see:

Apostasy from the Gospel by John Owen
Pursuing Holiness in the Lord by Jonathan Edwards
The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur


August said...

Excellent exposition.

Puritan Lad said...

Thanks, and much needed. I can't think of a hoax more cruel than to promise a baptized pagan entrance into heaven on the basis that he once said a prayer and "accepted Jesus" without any repentance.

Antonio said...

Would you be interested in a dialogue/debate with one me, one who espouses Free Grace theology?

I am willing to discuss any Scripture that you propose.

Have a good day.

Antonio da Rosa

Puritan Lad said...

Sure. Would you like to do it here or on yours?


BD said...

"Would you be interested in a dialogue/debate with one me, one who espouses Free Grace theology"

Have fun, PL.

Puritan Lad said...

Please do. Coming to the Lord's Table with the wrong attire is bad enough? Why do you think that you may come to the Lord's Table naked?

Lou Martuneac said...

I want to dispel the misnomer being spread by some Grace Evangelical Society (GES) members, especially Antonio da Rosa. The misnomer, and it is a major misnomer, is that GES is the voice of the Free Grace movement in general.

The GES has in fact become a shrinking cell of extremists that have fallen into the trap of Zane Hodges’ “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel. This “contrary doctrine” of Hodges and Bob Wilkins’s “Crossless/Deityless” interpretation of the Gospel has been the cause of “division and offences” in the FG camp and churches. (Rom. 16:17-18).

The teachings of Hodges is what has come to be known and accurately defined as the Crossless Gospel,” “ReDefined Free Grace Theology” and the “Promise Only Gospel.” It is largely because of GES’s heretical views of the Gospel; many men in the Free Grace community have separated from GES and do not want their name or ministry to be identified with the GES.

The Free Grace Alliance (FGA) was formed in part to become and is the new home of many men who have departed GES over the egregious errors coming from Hodges and Wilkin.

Exposure of the egregious errors of Hodges, Wilkin, Neimela, Myers, and lesser knowns like Antonio da Rosa has put GES in cardiac arrest. It is my hope and prayer the GES is soon to become totally isolated and outside any relevant discussion of the Gospel. May I share this article with your guests, Is “ReDefined” Free Grace Theology- Free Grace Theology?

The article will help them understand that Hodges & Wilkin do not speak for and do NOT represent the general population of men who identify themselves as members of the so-called Free Grace community.

The Free Grace community has been fractured, and it is a good fracture in that large numbers of FG men have withdrawn from GES over the Hodges/Wilkin “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel.

Lord willing not one more unsuspecting believer will fall into the trap of the Crossless gospel.


Puritan Lad said...

Thanks Lou,

We Calvinist also believe in Free Grace, a Grace powerful enough to change a sinner's heart to where he loves to obey the Law of God (Ezekiel 36:26-27).