Free Grace Theology

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by agedman, Dec 22, 2015.

  1. agedman

    agedman
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    "Free Grace Theology" (FGT) stands (in some people's thinking) as the complete opposite of "Lordship Salvation." (LS)

    That may not be accurate, especially as those who are reformed would perhaps express there view(s) on salvation.

    Comparison (in simple terms) of the two views:

    The reformed consider that God not only initiates, but in every aspect brings about the salvation of a person. That the person has no claim of initiating nor in any manner making a self willed decision of salvation. That God / Christ is not just the "author" but also the "finisher" of salvation.

    In the simplest terms, "FGT" has similar thinking. There is a lack of agreement among theological groupings, but basically all hold that God is the initiator and the one that accomplishes all that is necessary for salvation. That not one item of work is accomplished by anyone to gain salvation. Salvation is a gift and not of works. (Certainly, there are those Arminian types who use the word "accept" and "reject" but at the basic level salvation is still presented as a gift)

    So, there is at the very basic level agreement.

    For this thread, let's start with two "sticking points."

    One "sticking point" seems to be is the matter of "Lordship." That some "making Him Lord" must be part of the salvation or there is no salvation.

    Here is the problem as I see it. Anytime one has to "make Him" anything that is initiating on some level works.

    That one will by the new nature grow and mature as a believer is a distinguishable characteristic that even the world can bear witness - that the believer is changed. Such growth and evidence of growth is Scriptural. But that evidence does not bring salvation, nor is it a token of salvation. It is a token of the work of the Holy Spirit bringing the believer to separation away from the fleshly. Salvation is already given - it is a gift.

    Another "sticking point" is the matter of repentance as it relates to salvation. Again, some view the repentance or lack of repentance as some key to unlock (my terms) salvation.

    Here is the problem as I see it. Anytime one has to repent to be saved, one must do a work. Such thinking is NOT consistent with reformed views, but more in line with the Arminian.

    When the Holy Spirit works and a believer is born, repentance pours forth from the new nature as natural as the cry, "Lord I believe!" Such "Godly sorrow" cannot be separated from the believer anymore than the salvation. It is part of the new nature and the impulse of the Holy Spirit bringing that believer aware of their need is hand in glove. It is not a work of flesh, but a work of the Holy Spirit. Salvation is already given - it is a gift.

    Now there are other "sticking points" that this thread may travel, but what I have attempted by this OP is to show that FGT may fit the Reformed thinking far better than some may have understood it could fit.

    Then again, it may not.

    I look forward to how this thread develops.
     
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  2. Martin Marprelate

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    Thank you, Agedman, for your succinct summary of the debate.
    No one can 'make' Jesus Lord. He is Lord. The question is, can one be saved if one does not acknowledge His Lordship or if, whilst acknowledging it, one denies it in one's life.
    Exactly so. But what if repentance does not 'pour forth from the new nature'? 'Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.' But what if the new 'Christian' carries on his life just as before. Does that not suggest that the Holy Spirit has not been at work and that there has been no new birth?
     
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  3. Deacon

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    I look back on my experience of salvation as a young teen as well as other lives that I have touched. Salvation is simple, believe - walking with the Lord in that belief afterwards is a tougher road.

    I had recognized my sinful nature even before hearing the gospel - God was drawing me.
    I heard of the work of Jesus through the ministry of 'Young Life'.
    Deliverance was offered through belief. God opened my ears to hear.

    While walking alone to school one cold winter day I stopped along side a small stream and turned from my own ways and accepted Jesus' way.

    To me, it meant leaving friends and lifestyle behind and walking a new way, with different people.

    The idea of Lordship still had to be learned; I believe it is part of the process of sanctification.

    A believer need not prove their salvation to God by works of righteousness, they will flow naturally from his position in God's family.

    God looks on the heart, not on outward appearances.

    Rob
     
    #3 Deacon, Dec 23, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2015
  4. Martin Marprelate

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    My friend, that is salvation. But if you had not left your friends; if you had not started walking a new way, if you had merely declared that Jesus was your Lord while denying Him in your life, would that have been salvation?
     
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  5. Deacon

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    I didn't know anything about Lordship; I didn't know simple theology,
    I didn't know, care about or acknowledge Trinitarian ideas.
    I only knew that Jesus paid the price for my sins and I was going to trust him.
    Very basic stuff - the heart of Free Grace Theology.

    Rob
     
  6. evangelist6589

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    I had a similar experience grown up which I cannot explain. All I know is that God eventually led me to believe in Lordship Salvation.
     
  7. Martin Marprelate

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    Fair enough, but my question above still applies.
     
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  8. Deacon

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    Complicated question with euphemism.

    Are you saying that one could declare Jesus Lord without believing he could save ones life?
    The answer is 'no '.​

    Are you saying that one could declare Jesus is their Savior and still live a life of sin?
    It would be a hard, worthless and unsatisifying life. I would question their salvation.

    But 'The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.' 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV​

    Are you saying that one could declare Jesus is their Savior and not have good works?
    Yes, deathbed conversions don't allow the evidence of sanctification to display itself.
    The thief on the cross is an example.
    The follow up question would be, If good works are the primary assurance of ones salvation, how long does a person have to wait in order to know they are saved?

    Rob
     
  9. agedman

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    Most excellent point which draws upon a very basic question, "What must I do to be saved?"

    There are those who want to hear and place emphasis upon the acknowledgement of the Lord as Lord for salvation to occur. Is that not then moving the salvation from grace to work even as some who would claim that salvation occurs when one "accepts" or "takes" or "proclaims" the salvation?

    However, such a proclamation can be made by the enemies of believers without salvation being given. For example the demons while in their residence acknowledged Jesus was the "Son of God" (Matthew 8). And the previous chapter (Matthew 7) has folks rejected even though they called the Lord, "Lord" and actually did works to indicate changed living. The "purchase of salvation" by Christ was not found in them. The saying and doing, though from the eyes of this world would seem to demonstrate salvation, was done from human effort stemming from a wrong motive, an agenda other than Godly.

    The key difference must then be salvation. To the believer, God knows all about them and nothing is hidden from Him. It follows that the believer must come to know God. To learn from the Scriptures and to experience life that builds reliance and faithfulness upon Scripture principle.

    How can one "keep themselves in the love of God" (Jude) unless they first have been placed in the love of God by salvation - that free gift of God?

    Perhaps John (1 John 4) may be applicable to what occurs in this matter of Lordship.
    By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
    We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us
    . God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.

    Of course it does. This is exactly some of the teaching of both James and the three letters written by John.

    One of the problems with discernment is the lack of being able to look with clarity at another person as God does. We can ascertain from the "fruits," and / or "confession" but God looks and searches the heart.

    Can a new "Christian" carry on in the fleshly life as before? Perhaps an example is given in Matthew 21. We all know the parable of the two sons, but what I would emphasize, by way of example, is that underlined.
    “Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. “For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.

    There is that repentance that is flesh driven and has no eternal value, and that "Godly sorrow" which is of God's salvation.

    God will not ignore His child that lives in the worldly flesh driven pride and lust. Perhaps this from Hebrews 10 can be applied to such as those who are His yet live a life filled with fleshly pride and lust.
    How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
     
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  10. Revmitchell

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    Bam! Lordship in a nutshell Wink
     
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  11. Revmitchell

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    I think the debate around the Lordship conversation is different people see "lordship" in different ways and define it based on that view. There is not one static view of lordship everyone is working off of. So people end up talking past each other.
     
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  12. Deacon

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    I've posted this a number of times because it so clearly communicates the great agreements between what we are discussing while still noting the differences.

    [G]reat essential agreement exists between proponents and opponents of lordship salvation. Both sides agree that regeneration, or the impartation of eternal life by the Holy Spirit to a sinner, is required for salvation. Both sides agree that regeneration produces a positional change: a Father-child relationship is established between God and the believing sinner. Both sides also agree that regeneration produces a constitutional change: a person receives the Holy Spirit and eternal life, which is God’s quality of life placed within his soul. This constitutional change provides the possibility and the power for a superb transformation of character and conduct. Both sides agree that such transformation is expected, desired, demanded, and possible for the believer. Both sides also agree that Christians can sin, and sin severely.
    Both sides agree that sin in a believer is serious and brings on him or her the convicting work of the Holy Spirit and should result in confrontation and discipline by the church. And both sides agree that such disobedience can last for some period of time in a believer.… The truth is, lordship salvation does not teach that every professing Christian who sins is not a true believer. Likewise, free grace teachers do not affirm the salvation of everyone who claims to be a Christian.
    Undoubtedly, much of Christian history has taught that regeneration will produce some outward and visible change and that no change whatsoever may be evidence of a lack of true regeneration. But free grace teachers teach the same thing. The points of disagreement go back to the nature of faith and assurance. What the free grace position simply will not allow is that the change produced by regeneration is the grounds of or the evidence for assurance of genuine salvation.
    T. G. Lewellen, “Has Lordship Salvation Been Taught throughout Church History?” Bibliotheca Sacra 147 (January–March 1990), 65.

    Rob​
     
  13. Martin Marprelate

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    I'm sure you're right. I think the two sides may not be as far away as we may suppose. I was especially pleased with DWK's last post on the other thread.

    However, I think it's important to try and tease out the truth. We have to steer our lives and our churches between the Scylla of Legalism and the Charybdis of Antinomianism and to veer too far towards either side will lead to disaster.

    I'll try to get back to Deacon and Agedman a bit later.
     
  14. Internet Theologian

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    The issue between the 'two camps' is not how salvation is obtained, but what true conversion looks like.

    Now, that said there is a serious issue with one noted proponent of FGT, one Zane Hodges, in his man on the beach illustration concerning how salvation is 'obtained'.

    There may be more as well, but the main issue is not really how it is obtained, for we all believe it is by Grace through Faith. The dividing ground is on what true conversion looks like.

    That
    is the issue.
     
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  15. Internet Theologian

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    Then there is the issue of Robert Sandeman, 'Sandemanianism' or the theology of the 'Glasites'. This same theology is seen in the views of Zane Hodges. Robert Sandeman is also seen as one who is a proponent of FGT. You can check Theopedia for a brief detail on how he (Sandeman) thought salvation was obtained (basically mental assent to facts = salvation). Zane Hodges agrees with his theory, as do others who embrace FGT views (these are many and varied). This is where we apply the label of 'easy-believeism'.

    So, after all, perhaps there is more to the issue of how it is obtained.

    Let's keep in mind that statements of faith or of belief can be undone when the person actually begins to hash out their theology.

    One example of this is the views between synergists and monergists, synergists believing they are actually monergistic.
     
  16. Internet Theologian

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    Here is a link with an official video on FGT's position. Dr. Bob Wilkin lays the foundation of this system in a brief discussion.

    Basically it does not matter how one behaves (after 'obtaining' salvation). One need not much of an imagination to conclude where that can lead and actually does lead concerning what 'true conversion' looks like.

    Scripture begs to differ. There are descriptions used throughout concerning what true salvation looks like, and what false conversion looks like. Both are expressed in ones behaviors, or 'fruit'.
     
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  17. Revmitchell

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    I think those who do not like the term "Lordship" often see it going far beyond what is ever intended. And those who hold to Lordship often see the other side as seeing salvation as nothing more than a mental ascent. Both sides are often wrong about the other.

    Although some folks like those in the ME camp do take non-lordship to an extreme.
     
  18. Deacon

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    The "Crossless Gospel" is bothersome to me as well.
    So too, the derisive slang "easy believe-ism".

    But each side of this particular Christian debate has its extremes.

    Rob
     
  19. Internet Theologian

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    Here is more evidence that Sandemanianism is adopted into FGT, including Hodges error as well:

    Although Free Grace theology goes back to the Lord Jesus and to His Apostles*—and it was certainly evident in the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries as well (e.g., Glas, Sandeman, Darby, Mackintosh, Lange, Govett)—it has really taken shape in the last 35 years. The Gospel Under Siege by Zane Hodges came out in 1981 and it helped to define some of the major issues. But even today, there is still more work to be done to nail down all of the particulars of Free Grace theology.

    http://faithalone.org/magazine/y2014/What-Is-Free-Grace.pdf

    *
    There is a noticeably huge gap of time between their theory (FGT) that this system existed with Jesus and the Apostles then 'reappeared' a couple hundred years or so ago. :)
     
  20. Internet Theologian

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    Here is an article from the same site that gives official teachings of FGT (faithalone.org). It is lending credit to one of their own, Zane Hodges which shows the 'easy-believism' heresy. Wouldn't want anyone to say Hodges does nbot represent FGT or teach their actual position.

    http://faithalone.org/journal/2000ii/Hodges.htm

    My apologies, it is the 'deserted island scenario', not 'man on the beach'.
     

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