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Featured How many of you adhere to free grace theology?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Guido, Jul 23, 2022.

  1. Guido

    Guido Active Member

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    In my discussions with many on the forum, I have encountered contradictions against my beliefs from Calvinists and those who teach Lordship Salvation, because I believe in Free Grace Theology. So, I want to know exactly which members of the forum believe the same thing as me, so that we can discuss theology without conflict.

    Although I believe in Free Grace Theology, my denomination is Baptist. There are many Baptists who believe in Free Grace Theology, though I could be wrong. And if I'm wrong, I ask someone to correct me.

    I have no interest in a debate in this thread. I simply would like to know which members subscribe to Free Grace here. Thank you.
     
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  2. KenH

    KenH Well-Known Member

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    Can you define "free grace theology"? What is its teaching on the sovereignty of God, the inability of man due to being dead in sins and trespasses, on election, the efficacy of Christ's propitiation, on predestination, on the preservation of God's elect?

    Providing that information would help in deciding whether one agrees with "free grace theology".
     
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  3. Deacon

    Deacon Well-Known Member
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    Free Grace Theology is not Reformed Theology, neither is it “Arminian” or “Calvinist”. I’ve heard it derisively called Cal-minianism.
    It’s not “easy believism” or “cheap grace” but rather a theology which places an emphasis on a clear distinction between salvation and sanctification.

    The Free Grace position holds that salvation and discipleship are separate issues. Salvation concerns the sinner’s acceptance of the free gift of eternal life and the forgiveness of sins through faith alone. Discipleship concerns the believer’s response to the grace received by offering himself to God in submission, obedience, and sacrifice.
    Charles C. Bing, “The Cost of Discipleship,” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society Volume 6 6, no. 10 (1993): 35.​

    Then you ask some questions that deal specifically with complicated issues that IMO, are unsuited for short posts.
    ...and I don’t want to step into the mud by arguing about topics that are debated even among those of similar theological beliefs.

    There are some notable distinctions though.

    What is its teaching on: ...the inability of man due to being dead in sins and trespasses,
    There is no question that the Scriptures teach the total depravity of man. This depravity extends to all aspects of his being. He is thoroughly depraved. But it does not mean that he is as bad as he can possibly be. The process of coming to God which involves a thoroughly depraved being appears to be one of cooperation between God and man. It is not true to say man has no capacity to respond to the revelation of God. God has revealed himself to all thinking people. He has revealed himself in the order of nature. But if a man takes this light he has received and locks it behind the bars of his hardened heart, he begins a slide down the banister of depravity, which allows his sinful passions to control more and more of his life.
    David R. Anderson, Free Grace Soteriology, ed. James S. Reitman, Revised Edition. (Grace Theology Press, 2012), 45–46.​

    There is a difference between saying, “None seeks after God,” and “None can seek after God.” But in saying this it does not mean he can find God or make a saving decision for God on his own. He needs God’s persuasive power (Jn 6:44). This is why we call it cooperative determinism. Instead of dragging man kicking and screaming into the kingdom, the Holy Spirit draws into the kingdom those who respond to His persuasion.
    ibid. p. 307.​

    What is its teaching on: ...on election,
    In Reformed Theology, the belief in unconditional election is a derivative drawn from the doctrine of total depravity.
    Here, Free Grace Theology differs from Reformed Theology.
    His election and His foreknowledge are one and coextensive. This may well be the meaning and implication of 1 Pet 1:2, which says “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” He has not chosen us based on His foreknowledge or in spite of His foreknowledge, but in accordance with His foreknowledge.
    ibid. 309.​
    I’d presume that many followers of FGT would be lean toward a synergistic, pre-temporal election.

    What is its teaching on: ...the efficacy of Christ's propitiation,
    Jesus’ death removed the barrier of sin for all humanity. To believe/have faith in Jesus guarantees eternal life.

    What is its teaching on: ...on the preservation of God's elect?
    Arminians know they are saved but are afraid that they will loose it.
    Calvinists know they can’t loose their salvation but are afraid they don’t have it.
    FGT teaches a full assurance of salvation by faith in Christ.

    Rob
     
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  4. KenH

    KenH Well-Known Member

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    Thank you. As a believer in the Biblical gospel of Christ that salvation is by the sovereign grace of God, who is absolutely totally sovereign, I would not agree with "free grace theology".
     
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  5. Deacon

    Deacon Well-Known Member
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    You don’t need to provide a reason since you really didn’t have any choice in the matter?

    Rob
     
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  6. KenH

    KenH Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  7. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer Well-Known Member
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    Rob's excellent summary cuts to the heart of the matter. Persons who hold the "free grace" position reject that idea that one needs to become a disciple of Jesus (intend to expend effort to follow the teachings of Jesus) in order to be a person in a saving relationship with Jesus. They usually do not profess universalism, but claim there must be a moment of belief and profession that Jesus is objectively Lord, but that it is okay if the one doing the profession has no intention of doing anything about it other than profession (usually, saying a prayer). Free grace confuses effort to follow Jesus with earning salvation. Disciples of Jesus do not earn salvation, but they expend effort to conform their lives to the teachings of Christ, where God's grace can transform them into full obedience to His teachings.

    That is a massive contrast from the specific and explicit teachings of Jesus to follow Him and do His commandments that fill the gospels. John MacArthur entitled his book, "The Gospel According to Jesus," to point out that Jesus taught something very different from the Free Grace theologians.

    However, both the Free Grace theologians and John MacArthur make the common error of presenting a view of the atonement as "the Gospel," instead of the Gospel being the availability of the Kingdom of God for humanity (as Jesus taught). The atonement is part of the Gospel, but it is not the gospel itself. The Gospel revolved around what God has done, is doing, and will do in the Person of Jesus Christ.
     
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  8. JesusFan

    JesusFan Well-Known Member

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    Its a reaction towards and against "Lordship salvation", as those holding to it would say one can be saved by grace alone received thru faith alone, bujt one can also "backslide" to the point of not really looking saved at all anymore and yet still be such!
     
  9. Deacon

    Deacon Well-Known Member
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    No confusion. As a disciple then, how much effort must one provide to insure salvation?

    God knows the heart of those that commit themselves to him in faith.
    I don’t have to concern myself whether I (or someone else) is doing enough.
    As to others who profess, God knows their heart.

    Interesting observation!
    I’ll have to think about this a bit.
    Could you elaborate?

    Rob
     
    #9 Deacon, Jul 26, 2022
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2022
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  10. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer Well-Known Member
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    "Salvation" is a work of God, not a human work. It is not the focus of discipleship, but a side effect (for lack of a better term) of entering the Kingdom of God. Simple profession of intent is not enough, since many call Jesus "Lord, Lord," yet not follow (Matthew 7:21-23). One must take action to enter in the Kingdom of God (Matthew 7:13-14), but action/effort is not the same as earning. Jesus consistently called people to take action based on His teaching (for instance, "Follow Me"). But tied up with the attitude of earning is the idea that one is making "a deal," a transaction or a contract with someone else, where the other person is obligated to do something.

    Discipleship is not a contract, but it is setting aside one's way of life to enter into an apprenticeship with another to learn how to do what the skilled person knows how to do. It is about becoming a capable person, not simply gaining a status but remaining incompetent. In terms of "salvation" (if we are to think of it as something distinct from discipleship), there is no salvation apart from the sincere intention to enter into a new kind of life.

    All disciples will persevere, not because of their effort, but because of the nature of a changed life that comes from the effects of the teaching of Jesus (Matthew 7:24-27). In the same way, one may know the presence of God's life in oneself and others by the eventual presence of good fruit (Matthew 7:15-20; Matthew 13:1-23; John 15:8,16; Galatians 5:22). There can certainly be times of backsliding and when fruit is not obvious, but the Father will discipline us as necessary (Hebrews 12:7-11) until we produce the fruit of righteousness.

    Yes, exactly. No one who truly turns to Him will be cast out. At the same time, human corruption is such that we are often self-deceived, but God works through that with us if we are a person who wants to know the truth. If we are content to remain in deception, or worse, cultivate deception, we can avoid the Kingdom of God.

    True. If we have entered into discipleship, we don't have to worry about that at all, since we know we are not earning anything. We are simply exerting effort to follow the commands of Jesus, empowered by the grace and Spirit of God. We cannot truly fulfill the commands of Jesus by our own efforts, but when we attempt to do so anyway, we will find God's grace working with us to do them. If we live our lives seeking to fulfill the commands of Jesus in the power of the Spirit, we will not have lives characterized by sin (Galatians 5:16).

    That's true, but we can also discern their fruit (Matthew 7:15-16). And if we see others who regularly and consistently exhibit "the works of the flesh," we can know that they are in very poor shape spiritually and are not currently living as disciples. For instance, in "conservative" religious communities, persons who are characterized by anger, personal attacks, and factions ("us against them") are clearly not representing Christ, nor should be trusted nor followed as leaders or influencers (Galatians 5:19-21; Matthew 7:15-16).

    If you read the Gospels whole, from beginning to end, you will recognize that Jesus teaches primarily about the Kingdom of God and not about "getting saved" as many in Baptist circles think of it. If you continue and read the Acts of the Apostles, you will see that the emphasis is still on the Kingdom of God, with personal stories of conversion illustrating the spread of the Kingdom. For instance, Philip preached the Kingdom of God to the Samaritans (Acts 8:12), and Paul preached and taught the Kingdom of God (Acts 19:8, 20:25, 28:23, and 28:31).

    After reading the Gospels and Acts, one can go back to Paul's letters and the other writings of the New Testament and read them in their proper context. Contrary to popular belief, the Bible is not about "getting saved" in preparation for eventually 'leaving earth' for an eternal Heaven, but instead being part of what God is doing from Genesis to Revelation. We are part of God's plan to create a people for Himself who have free will, yet have freely chosen to choose God and chose doing good. We are God's people (are/will be) characterized by genuine love for God, for our neighbor, and for doing what is good and right. We are part of the caretaking, taming, and restoration of the earth begun in Genesis that will be completed in the final restoration of all things in Revelation where the Kingdom of God will eliminate all rival governments and powers, as well as destroy those who have committed themselves to evil.

    That's a much bigger and important story than the individualized 'get saved and escape to Heaven' story that is so prominent today.
     
  11. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire Well-Known Member
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    Who gives sinful creatures anything free?
     
  12. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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  13. Guido

    Guido Active Member

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  14. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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    Well, it is like the virgin birth, it's ignorance will not necessarily make one not saved. But one who is saved cannot deny those essential truths. 2 John 1:9. Without the news Christ paid for one's sins, on what basis would one choose to believe? What does it mean Jesus is the Christ? 1 John 5:1.
     
  15. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer Well-Known Member
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    Just for an example, Matthew 11:27-30 requires that the one who trusts in Jesus take upon oneself the yoke of Jesus (that is, the yoke of discipleship) to learn from Him. That's NOT the Free Grace position, according to your link:

    The Free Grace position has as its first characteristic that simply by believing in Jesus a person has eternal life. It advocates for faith alone, in Christ alone, nothing added, and no strings attached.

    Faith in Christ is intellectual assent. Stripped of its pejorative connotation, “intellectual assent” is a good definition of what faith is.

    For example, do you believe that George Washington was the first President of the United States? If you do, then you know what faith is from a Biblical perspective.

    There is no commitment, no decision of the will, no turning from sins, and no works that are part of faith in Christ. If you are convinced or persuaded that what He promised is true, then you believe in Him. Faith is passive. It is simply taking Jesus at His word.[/QUOTE]

    The demons give intellectual assent (and more) to Jesus (James 2:19). In fact, the demons obey Him (Mark 1:27).

    The idea that intellectual assent equals saving faith is completely foreign to the teachings of Jesus, as well as the writers of the New Testament. It is a heresy.

    Simply put, assurance is of the essence of saving faith. This means that whenever a person believes in Jesus, he knows for sure he has everlasting life.

    Assurance DOES NOT mean saving faith -- especially in the context of this terrible theology. Here's what Jesus said:

    “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; leave Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ (Matthew 11:21-23)

    THIS is the call of Jesus:

    If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what good will it do a person if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26)

    Free Grace teaching rejects the clear teaching of Jesus on this matter.

    "When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
     
  16. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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    On the contrary the salvation is an unmerited gift. Ephesians 2:8-9. Discipleship is not in order to be saved. But begins as a result of being saved.
     
  17. JesusFan

    JesusFan Well-Known Member

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    The demons give intellectual assent (and more) to Jesus (James 2:19). In fact, the demons obey Him (Mark 1:27).

    The idea that intellectual assent equals saving faith is completely foreign to the teachings of Jesus, as well as the writers of the New Testament. It is a heresy.

    Simply put, assurance is of the essence of saving faith. This means that whenever a person believes in Jesus, he knows for sure he has everlasting life.

    Assurance DOES NOT mean saving faith -- especially in the context of this terrible theology. Here's what Jesus said:

    “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; leave Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ (Matthew 11:21-23)

    THIS is the call of Jesus:

    If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what good will it do a person if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26)

    Free Grace teaching rejects the clear teaching of Jesus on this matter.

    "When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
    [/QUOTE]
    Some who hold to it have stated that even if the saved person lost their faith in Jesus, totally turned away from Him and never came back, were still saved?
     
  18. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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    So to you, there is no difference between following the man Jesus phyically when He was on earth before the cross and now with Him as the man phyisically at God's side in Heaven. And how does this work with John 3:16 or Ephesians 2:8-9 or Romans 4:5 etc?
     
  19. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer Well-Known Member
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    I never claimed that salvation was a 'merited gift.' I agree with you that salvation is unmerited. However, that does not mean it just washes over us and we take no action. Jesus calls us into discipleship. Salvation is a side-effect of discipleship, not the focus of it.

    Much of the issue understanding this is that we have twisted the message of Jesus (and the whole Bible) into how to "get saved," when that is simply not the primary message. Until we actually read and understand the Bible on its own terms -- and take seriously everything it teaches -- we blind ourselves to the big picture.

    That's not what the passage teaches. You have added that as a presupposition. Paul is teaching his readers about God's love toward us and how He made us right with Him. His readers have already heard the message of Jesus.

    The passage also doesn't teach this either. It teaches why we were created (to do good) as ordained by God (read v.10, it completes the thought).

    There is a difference in the way it appears outwardly, as well as the way Jesus communicates with us. He communicates with us primarily through the Spirit and scripture, rather than spoken word from a pre-resurrection body. But otherwise, there is no difference. We are taught by Him and led by Him in the Spirit.

    The message and teachings Jesus presented in the Gospels is still valid. In fact, Paul and the other Gospel writers presuppose that we are familiar with it and are already disciples. The Gospels, and possibly Acts, are the only books of the New Testament written to both unbelievers and believers. It is from that Gospels that we get our bearings to interpret the rest of the New Testament.

    Regarding John 3:16
    I'm not sure why there is a perceived difficulty with John 3:16. John's purpose is a bit different that the Synoptic Gospels in that he is confronting Gnosticism and showing the reader that Jesus is the Christ through a series of signs (shown in vignettes) that includes a lot of teaching that the Synoptic Gospels did not record. Jesus is specifically taking to Nicodemus about the Kingdom of God (see v.3) because Nicodemus, the most prominent teacher in Israel at the time, had claimed to recognize the Kingdom of God in the signs that Jesus was performing (v.2).

    Regarding the word "believe," it is an active trust, not just an intellectual assent. Those who believe that things are a certain way will act on them. Jesus had already collected a number of disciples who had set aside their normal lives and were walking with Him (see John 1:37-49; 2:2, 11-12, 22). Please note that Jesus had already invited Philip to follow Him (see John 1:43).

    Regarding Ephesians 2:8-9 and Romans 4:5
    I covered the Ephesians passage above, but let's look at Romans 4:5 in context:

    Romans 4:1-5
    What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about; but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, the wages are not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness...

    Since Paul references Abraham, he expected his readers to know a little about him. We first read of Abraham in Genesis 12, where he (as Abram) hears from God and leaves his home country and follows God to a new land. Just as Jesus would call disciples to leave their old way of life and follow, God called Abram to leave his old life and follow Him to a new land. For a number of years Abram follows God (and sometimes does wrong), and eventually meets Melchizedek, the king of Salem, who offers him bread and wine and blesses him. Abram tithes everything he owns to Melchizedek. Then after those things, God speaks to Abram (Genesis 15:1) and makes promises to him, including that he would have a natural-born son in his advanced age. At that time, Abram believes God and it is reckoned to him as righteousness.

    Paul quotes that passage twice (as a reference to the whole story) in Romans 4. What should we notice? (1) Abram was already a disciple of God since Genesis 12; (2) Abram was taking active steps to engage with God from Genesis 12:1-15:5; (3) Abram already believed God (in terms of intellectual assent) from Genesis 12:1 -- that was never the standard. What happened at Genesis 15:6 was at a new level.

    Going back to Romans 4, all the things that Abraham/Abram did were not works (in terms of the attitude of earning as referenced in Romans 4:4), but merely steps toward the saving encounter with God in Genesis 15:6. Nothing was earned -- earning is an attitude -- but actions were taken to engage with God.
     
  20. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer Well-Known Member
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    One can turn away from Jesus for a time, but not for a lifetime.

    I think it should be noted that a lot of people turning away from the church today are doing it because they have an issue with the church communities they have experienced, not because they have an issue with Jesus. I know many people like this.

    Most of them will eventually find their way back to a fellowship of believers, whether it be a formal church or simply a gathering of Christ's body in a much more informal way.

    The way one can know whether or not someone is a disciple of Christ is by the fruit of their lives. If they do not exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, one cannot have confidence that they belong to Christ Jesus, even if they claim to be pastors or religious leaders:

    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Ephesians 5:22-24)
     
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