How ‘Free Grace’ Theology Diminishes the Gospel

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Revmitchell, Jul 26, 2016.

  1. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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    First, FGT doesn’t accurately reflect the Reformation teaching of justification by faith alone, which was often summarized in the formula “We are justified by faith alone, but the faith that justifies is never alone” (26).

    Second, FGT teaching weakens the gospel by “avoiding any call to unbelievers to repent of their sins” (39).

    Third, FGT weakens the gospel by giving many professing Christians a false assurance of salvation.

    Fourth, FGT “overemphasizes agreement with facts and underemphasizes heartfelt trust in the person of Christ” (97).

    Fifth, FGT is forced to rely on “numerous, highly unlikely interpretations of the NT” in order to defend their understanding of faith alone (118).

    “Diminishing” the gospel is a serious charge—serious enough to warrant a book. But it’s not the same as “destroying” the gospel. And Grudem makes clear from the outset that he views this as an in-house debate among Christians, and for him a “difference . . . among friends” (16). He cites several FGT proponents whose correspondence helped him better understand their position, and whose presence I suspect also helped give the book its civil and charitable tone.

    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/book-reviews-free-grace-theology
     
  2. HankD

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    Hi Rev,

    for those who read the info on the website and are still a little confused, is FGT another way of saying "easy believism" (or my way of saying it - "phony believism"?

    Then perhaps a discussion of the two points will be a little easier to address (at least for me - maybe my senility setting in overtime).

    Thanks
    HankD
     
  3. Deacon

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    I purchased the book and will review it later in the Books Forum when I"ve finished.

    I"m about half way through the book and am disappointed that Geisler argues againts a characterization of Free Grace Theology without dealing with the issues involved.

    Early in the book he states that he refuses to use the term Lordship Salvation.

    His Reformed background shows strongly throughout the book.

    Rob
     
  4. Van

    Van
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    Another excellent topic to discuss from the perspective of what does scripture say.

    I love the phrase "internal resolve to forsake" sin. And I certainly agree it was a component of my faith and devotion to Christ. I understood the requirement to trust in Christ included a commitment to try to "observe" all of Christ's commands.

    But before we wander too far down the trail of content, we must remember that God alone decides, based on His knowledge of our hearts, whose faith to credit as righteousness. I have known folks whose "doctrine" was "unstudied" but whose heart was fully committed to Christ.
     
  5. Van

    Van
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    Hi Rob, you might want to edit post #3 to change Geisler to Grudem?
     
  6. Van

    Van
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    Thanks HankD, your caution is spot on.
     
  7. HankD

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    OK, In my conviction I see Jesus as LORD from the moment we are born from above.

    However, the realization and surrender to His LORDship can be a difficult road for some of us.

    Hebrews 12:6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.

    As for "repentance" - metanoia (a change of mind) the common word we use for repentance is too narrow for 21st century usage IMO of course.

    In Koine and especially Attic Greek metanoia can be as narrow as saying to the waitress "I've changed my mind and I want corn rather than peas with my steak".

    Apparently by the time it got to Hellenistic Koine Greek it had also adopted a sense of permanence "I've changed my mind and I am now a Republican".

    In vulgar (common) usage it still had uses in a smaller scope than a change of mind from idols to Jehovah but for the most part it was a turn (or return) to Jehovah in Jewish Hellenistic thought.

    This study can be found in Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament; Volume 4, pages 975ff.

    However, in my opinion it is indicated in the scripture that "repentance" it is a more colossal change of mind than metanoia: better the usage of phroneo.

    Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.
    A change from the standard adamic way of thinking to Christ's manner of thinking

    Grk. phroneo Friberg: Ponder on, be intent on, keep thinking about; UBS have one's mind controlled by...

    Achieved in cooperation with the Spirit via the word of God:

    1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.

    2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed (metamorphoo) into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

    As we behold His glory we slowly take on His image via the Spirit and the word.

    New born babies should not to spanked.

    They must be taught not beaten with the rod of LS (well not right away and that God's job anyway) until they can walk and have understanding.

    Many and sometimes even most (in a given "mission" field) will delight in being led into a life of holiness and quickly.

    But this kind of growth and thinking leading to mature biblical holiness takes time.

    Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
    2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
    3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
    4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind (ruach-Spirit) driveth away.
    5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
    6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

    A rocky road for many and personally I would agree that the desire for holiness should be there in the heart of a "believer":

    Psalm 119
    5 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
    6 Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
    7 I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.

    Pastors - think about your earthly children.
    My wife and I have had 11.
    Some needed little discipline, some a lot!
    Not right away while they were still nursing or even after learning to walk - but soon thereafter.

    I know this seems a blather.

    HankD
     
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  8. Revmitchell

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    I think our disagreement on this issues sometimes stems from a difference in view on Lordship or how it is applied.
     
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  9. HankD

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    Agreed.

    HankD
     
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  10. Van

    Van
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    I was told that if koine Greek speaking soldiers were commanded to "about-face" the word used was metanoia. :) Thus the meaning is when you are going in one direction, you turn and go in the opposite direction.
     
  11. The Biblicist

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    My problem with the "Free Grace" movement is that it guts the gospel of the essentials of salvation. It denies "repentance" is part of the gospel but something only for Israel. Where there is no gospel repentance there is no salvation - period!

    To repent is to change direction but it refers to the soul of man. The lost man loves darkeness and unless there is a change of direction from love of darkness to love of light there is no regeneration present. The mind of the lost man is in unbelief. Unless there is a change from unbelief to belief there is no salvation present. The will of the lost man is at "enmity" or in a state of resistance toward God and unless there is a change of direction from resistance to submission there is no salvation present.

    Finally, repentance is part of the gospel to gentiles. It is found in the Great Commission to "all nations":


    Lk. 24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

    Ac 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.


    Ac 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

    There is no excuse to deny repentance is part and parcel with the Gospel and Great Commission to all nations.

    My brother is a dedicated participant of this movement and it is plain that he confuses gospel repentance with has to do with the INWARD CHANGE in connection with the empowered gospel with the consequences of "good works." He wants to made gospel repentance works, and his battle cry is we are saved by grace and not by works but the inward change is the work of God within, rather than the works produced externally in the believers life.

    On the other hand, MacArthur and his group go to the opposite extreme and demand where there is no external "good works" there is no salvation. I say extreme because they fail to recognize that external works vary in degree from the life of Lot to the life of Abraham. I believe in the preservation of gospel faith by the power of God. I do not believe in the Reformed doctrine of perservance (Works)of the saints. Some true people of God do not have a great deal of good works manifested to the visible eye (Lot). However, the profession of the true gospel is always present with true people of God, even though they may not win the daily battles with sin. However, all who are true children of God and who are not winning the daily battle with sin HAVE MANIFEST CHASTENING in their lives which is the manifest evidence in the place of manifest obedience that proves they are God's children.
     
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  12. TCassidy

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    μετανοέω

    μετα - To change.

    νοέω - the mind or the way of thinking.

    μετανοέω - to change your mind.
     
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  13. Van

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    While it may be obvious that our actions follow our thoughts, so if we are marching in one direction, say into darkness, and we decide (for whatever reason, including trusting in Christ) to change direction, we have first changed our minds, but this is not limited to intellectual assent, but instead the change of mind results in a change in direction, possibly toward Christ. Thus metanoia refers to a human action, in response to God's revelation.

    Another possible meaning, in addition to active commitment, i.e. us changing our minds in a manner that results in changed living, some claim the word is used for God's action of conversion, where we are born anew, as a new creation. Luke 24:47 and Acts 11:18 might fit that meaning. But Acts 17:30 sure seems to refer to our human action.

    Consider these verses, changing the translation from repentance to "conversion."
    Matthew 3:8
    Luke 3:8, 24:47
    Acts 5:31, 11:18
    2 Timothy 2:25
    2 Peter 3:9
     
    #13 Van, Jul 26, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2016
  14. HankD

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    Conversion would seem to me to begin with the new birth, then as we grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we show forth His image to the glory of God.

    Because the fruit of the Spirit can not be reproduced by the world, mimicked maybe, but poorly as a shallow veneer of niceness.

    We become the living evidence that God exists as we show the world biblical love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and faith. Supernatural qualities which cannot be denied.

    HankD
     
  15. Van

    Van
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    Agreed, conversion is the new birth.

    And the lexicons allow translation of metanoia as conversion. But is that a better translation than "active commitment" in some verses? Both Matthew 3:8 and Luke 3:8 refer to John's water baptism where those baptized confessed their sins. Thus "active commitment" is probably in view. But as you noted, these "fruits" would be an Old Covenant Spirit influenced behavior without the indwelling that comes with conversion.

    Now Luke 24:47 might actually be referring to conversion which includes the washing of regeneration and the forgiveness of sins.

    Acts 5:31 would also seem to be a candidate for "conversion." Ditto for Acts 11:18 which seems to be referring to the conversion into life.

    2 Timothy 2:25 also seems a candidate, with conversion leading to knowledge of the truth through the mentoring of the indwelling Spirit.

    Finally, 2 Peter 3:9 may also be referring to all coming to "conversion."
     
  16. HankD

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    Right, as was indicated - the NT word metanoia itself might have taken on the higher meaning of phroneo.

    Romans 8:5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

    My point is that we need to be patient, it may take time for folks to get there as 2 Peter 3:9 indicates.


    HankD
     
    #16 HankD, Jul 26, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2016
  17. The Biblicist

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    The essence of this truth comes when a person properly understands what the first aspect of death is = spiritual separation from God. God is life, God is light and God is holy. Thus spiritual separation from God who is life means a state of spiritual death. Spiritual separation from God who is light means a state of spiritual darkness. Spiritual separation from God who is holy means a state of spiritual depravity. The unregenerate condition is described under these three characteristics in Ephesians 4:18-19:

    18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
    19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.


    1. God is Light - "darkened...blindness"
    2. God is Life - "alienated from the life of God"
    3. God is holy - "given...unto lasciviousness....all uncleanness"

    The reversal of this threefold state of spiritual separation from God is spiritual union with God. Each of these three aspects of spiritual separation when reversed have a divine cause and a human consequence. The human consequence we call conversion while the divine cause, depending on which aspect is being considered has a name suited for that particular issue.

    For example, let's take the spiritual separation from God as "light." The positive aspect for the reversal of spiritual darkness is described as an internal revelation of knowledge or metaphorical light. We see this in the case of Peter in Matthew 16:17 "flesh and blood hath not REVEALED this...but my Father in heaven" or in the case of Paul on the road to Damascus in Galatians 1:15-16 "revealed His son in me" or Paul's description of the gospel as empowered by God as a divine command in 2 Cor. 4:6 "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." That is the positive aspect - light of knowlege" a divine revelation within the heart. The negative is that "darkness" is metaphorical of "ignorance" or a state of spiritual "blindness" Thus where God commands "light of knowledge" (positive) it is the removal of ignorance and blindness (negative). The revelation is by command of God and is a creative act as in Genesis 1:3. The experience of this creative act is one aspect of what we call conversion from darkness to light or from ignorance/blindness to understanding or knowing God through Jesus Christ. This creative act of God is the empowerment of the gospel within the heart that produces the light of knowledge or revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Thes. 1:3-4) in the heart which is the "substance" and "hope" of justifying faith. Hence, our experience of this creative act of God is saving faith. The gospel is used by God as His creative command to produce the "substance" and "hope" of Faith as well as used by God as the object of faith - thus saving faith is our experience of this internal creative act of God.

    For example, lets take the spiritual separation from God as "holy." The positive aspect of the reversal of spiritual depravity is described as a metaphorical internal "washing" by the Holy Spirit, or internal cleansing from the defilement of sin (Tit. 3:5 "washing") while the positive side is a "renewing" in true holiness and righteousnes (Tit. 3:5 joined with Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10) which again is a creative act of God as clearly stated in Ephesians 4:24 and Col. 3:10). Our experience of this creative act of God is called "repentance." Repentance is an inward change from love of sin to love of holiness but it is the creative act of God that is making this change while we are experiencing that change as repentance or turning from sin to righteousness with regard to our hearts (desire) and mind (understanding) and will (resistance to submission).

    For example, lets take the spiritual separation from God as "life." The positive aspect of for the reversal of spiritual death is described as "life." Therefore, the Bible calls this creative act as being "quickened" (made alive) as contrasted with "dead" or "born again" as contrasted with the first birth and its nature or "regenerated" all of which have to do with a new life. Yet, this is interrelated to the previous aspect of spiritual darkness as Jesus says "This is eternal life that they might KNOW the only true God and Jesus Christ His son" (Jn. 17:3). Paul says that being "alienated from the life of God through ignorance that is in them because of the blindness of their heart" (Eph. 4:18). The negative aspect of regeneration is removal of the root cause of ignorance which is "blindness" thus giving them eyes to see and ears to hear. However, eyes must see something and ears must hear something or there is no sight or hearing. Seeing and hearing is another metaphor for believing and it is the gospel revelation of Christ that is being seen and heard.

    So the initial saving work of God that reverses spiritual separation from God as light, life and holiness is a creative act by God, and thus the cause of salvation but is inseparable from conversion as the immediate consequence of spiritual union.

    So bottom line, this threefold but inseparable creative work of God produces a repentant and believing heart. It transforms the heart from blindness and darkness (unbelief) to belief and from uncleaness and love for sin (unrepentance) to repentance, and thus from death unto life. This is the change from spiritual separation to spiritual union with God.
     
    #17 The Biblicist, Jul 27, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2016
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  18. Van

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    Ephesians 4:18-19 does describe the way of life of the believers before they laid "aside the old self" in response to the revelation of Christ. Christ, through His gospel, enlightens spiritually dead (separated from God) people.

    They had been taught and had learned. Ephesians 4:21 is translated in a variety of ways, some suggesting the teaching was post conversion mentoring. But other views suggest "since surely you heard Him and by Him you were taught as the truth is in Jesus.

    The issue is not that salvation by grace is free, we do not need to earn it or sustain it by good works, but rather if our life was not changed, God may not have credited our "shallow commitment" as righteousness and placed us in Christ. Thus on that day, Christ may say "depart from Me, I never knew you." Those that teach you do not have to go "all in" for Christ may be hindering people from being saved. Thus the issue is much more than a "difference" among siblings.
     
  19. The Biblicist

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    That is simply not true. Verse 17 identifies the former way of life to be the unregenerate state "as other Gentiles walk" who are not believers. There is no before and after within the believers way of life. The only aspect that believers can identify with this clearly unregenerate condition is in their still present fallen nature where "the law of sin" still dwells and reigns or the unregenerate aspect of the believer (Rom. 7:14-25; Gal. 5:16-17).

    Verse 17 tells you explicitly who it is describing - lost gentiles, which was their former way of life before salvation:

    17 ¶ This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
    18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
    19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

    Verse 17 does NOT read "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as you formerly did as believer" but that is precisely what it must read to support your nonsense.

    Verse 18-19 is contextually explaining the nature of that condition of "other gentiles" not the condition of the believers walk before or after a secondary commitment. The only reason that this relates to the Christian is because the "old man" still exists within the Christian or the unregenerate aspect where "the law of sin" still operates. Hence, the Christian can ALWAYS and AT ANY TIME revert back to walking "after the flesh" even though they are no longer "in the flesh" but "in the Spirit" and should be walking "after the Spirit." The child of God has both options available at all times and that is precisely where the battle is fought.
     
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  20. Iconoclast

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    There is nothing correct here as it is works based thought disguised to seem to be.on topic...
    Extolling the best way for the sinner to reform his dead flesh misses the mark.
     

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