Tuesday, November 6

Beware of powerless grace theology

Beware of theologies that extrapolate meaning from single verses by reading more information into them than they contain. For example, the following question was posed at a blog that promotes a powerless gospel of what is sometimes called easy believe-ism or cheap grace:

“I wish to ask point blank, do you unreservedly, without qualification or supplementation agree with this quote of the Lord Jesus Christ:”

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has
everlasting life” – John 6:47

The advocates of cheap grace claim that this verse and other such verses in the book of John teach that upon belief in Jesus Christ a person has everlasting life. So far so good….. This is what Jesus says and this is absolutely true. Eternal life is a free gift of God’s grace that is obtained by faith alone. I agree. There is no dispute whatsoever on this point.

However, from this verse they claim that a person who believes may remain unaffected and not be changed in any way. This is where they inject meaning into the verse that is not there. Quite simply this verse is silent on the affects that faith in Christ has on a person’s life and behavior. It does not affirm that a person will be changed and it does not assert that it is possible for some not be changed. It is silent on the point. To determine if a person can remain unchanged or is changed after believing, you must go elsewhere in Scripture.

Is a person who comes to faith in Jesus Christ changed by this grace? That is the question that John 6:47 and John 3:16 do not answer. Let us look elsewhere for this answer and let me ask the purveyors of this powerless gospel the same question they asked about John 6:47. Do you believe the following passages unreservedly, without qualification or supplementation?

John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
(This passage seems to indicate a change is necessary and is also from the book of John and spoken by Jesus.)

John 8:42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.
John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
(These passages are also from the book of John and are spoken by Jesus and teach that children of God love Jesus and those that love Jesus keep his commandments. This indicates a change in behavior.)

1 John 2:3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.
(This passages indicates a change and the results.)

Romans 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.
(This passage indicates God does the work of changing a person and the results are sanctification and its end, eternal life.)

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
(From Romans 8 we learn that being in Christ means being saved and this passage affirms with gusto that grace indeed changes a person with POWER!)

Romans 8:9 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.
(The Spirit of God dwells in believers and changes them.)

Romans 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
(This passage indicates the sons of God are redeemed believers and are led by God, the Holy Spirit. Brethren this is describing a God powered believer.)

These are but some of the many verses that speak where John 6:47 is silent. When you put the teaching of John 6:47 with these verses, we see that faith in Christ (John 6:47) comes with the power of God that changes a person and brings about sanctification. This grace of sanctification enables and empowers a born again Christian to willingly seek and desire obedience, holiness, and faithfulness. This is not a quest for justification, but rather it is the fruit of sanctification that Romans 6:22 describes. This grace does not make a believer perfect, but it so changes him that his attitude and bearing is pointed in a heavenward direction. A believer will experience a conviction of sin and will grieve and repent of his sin. All of these results are due to the awesome power of God in the redemption of sinners.

Praise God that John 6:47 is an expression of God’s grace that gives the free gift of eternal life to all that believe in Jesus Christ. Beware of the false teaching that this is a powerless grace that allows you to wallow in sin with no desire to walk as a new creation in Christ.


jazzycat said...

Doctrine must be formulated from all of Scripture and not just from cherry picked verses.

As always, I will refer seekers to examine Scripture before adopting any theology found on Christian blogs. This includes here at Sweet Jazzycat and Bluecollar Blog where I am a contributor.


mark pierson said...

Wayne, B.B. Warfield described L.S. Chafer's extreme separation of Justification and Sanctification as "crass".

Personally, I detest classic dispensationalism with every fiber of my being, seeing it ever liveth to dichotomize. So much for man's wisdom in drawing deep and unwarranted divides into God's Word.

Craver Vii said...

Welcome back, Jazz!

jazzycat said...

Good points. sanctification flows from justification just as surely as Colorado snow melt from the Arkansas Rive flows to the Mississippi River.

Craver vii,
Thanks, I will get by for visit soon. Gotta go now for one of my two work days. Well, I call em days.

Kristine said...

It still boggles my mind that this is so highly debated. As difficult as it is for us sinful, fallen, hard-hearted and rebellious men and women to embrace the biblical doctrine that "to believe" is "to be transformed, to be changed"; it's what's taught throughout all of scripture.

It's not works salvation; it's what saving faith does in a person's life....how is that so difficult to understand?

It isn't difficult to understand at all; but men will stop at no end to justify the sin that they love, won't we.

mark pierson said...

Kristine, some great thoughts.

mark pierson said...

MacArthur notes that only dispensationalists hold to FGT. I ask, who else could?

jazzycat said...

Very well said. Thanks for the visit.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

RT Kendall is moderately FG without being Dispensational.

Michael Eaton is not Dispensational.

jazzycat said...

Please define moderately FG.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I believe RT Kendall takes a conventional view of James chapter 2.

I also believe he holds the 'change of mind' view of repentance.

jazzycat said...

I take it the conventional view would be my view?

Since I and my denomination affirm free grace, what would that make us? As you know I believe Scripture teaches free grace by the sovereign intervention of God through regeneration that leads to sanctification also inspired by God.

That is why I think Lordship salvation should be properly called Lordship sanctification.

mark pierson said...

BTW, Spurgeon's works, including his autobiography, are drenched with the term "free grace". He used it so very many times; he would very much denounce that system today.

mark pierson said...

I cannot see how anybody can arrive at the FGT position w/o employing the classic dispensational hermeneutic.

mark pierson said...

The separation of:

salvation/discipleship - (unscriptural)

eternal life/forgiveness of sin - (unscriptural)


mark pierson said...

regeneration not necessarily resulting in conversion...

The separation of faith and repentance...

MacArthur points out that Chafer was the father of it all. Before him there seems very few in church history would embrace mental assentism.

jazzycat said...

Well said. It requires much spinning and reading information into texts such as John 6:47 to arrive at some of these FG conclusions.

Definition of believe: to have confidence or faith in the truth of (a positive assertion, story, etc.); give credence to.

Would a person who has this kind of belief, that John 6:47 refers to, act on it? The Bible is clear in many passages that this kind of faith produces action. It leaves no wiggle room for the so-called carnal Christian. To assert that this is adding works to justification is absurd. Yet some keep making this false charge and it must be confronted head on.

My challenge of over a year ago still stands to the FGracers. Show me on my blog where I assert works justification! Back up your false charges. I am waiting.

mark pierson said...

In the past some individual named Agricola forwarded a repentance-less gospel. Then there were the Glasites and their champion Robert Sandeman. These movements died out over time. May this movement do the same. Even many dispensationalists distance themselves from it. (The Pyro-gang, TMS, Moorhead, Bock).

mark pierson said...

Wayne, H.A.Ironside, a dispensationalist, came against Chafer's separation of faith and repentance.

This battle has been raging since before 1920, nearly 90 years. It is not new on the scene.

mark pierson said...

It is a dispensationalist battle. The rest of us can sit on the sidelines and watch.

I do admire Blaising and Bock, and their book "Progressive Dispensationalism" though.

jazzycat said...

I will have to get a copy of Progressive Dispensationalims and check it out...

Anonymous said...

Jazzy, this is a great post.

I echo Kristine's thoughts - I too am stunned that this could cause such heated debate. The transformed life is taught throughout Scripture.

Jazzy, I continue to love the way you write. Simple. Truth. To the point.

jazzycat said...

Thanks so much for the encouragement. Kristine did make a very good point. I am glad she is visiting here and at Bluecollar.....

donsands said...

Nice teaching Wayne.
And good follow up comments.

" whom HE did predestinate, them HE also called: and whom HE called, them HE also justfied: and whom HE justified, them HE also glorified. ....
For of HIM, and through HIM, and to HIM, all things: to HIM glory for ever. A-men!" Rom. 8:30,11:36

He works all things for our good, those who love HIM, and are loved by HIM.

Can one have a season of numbness, and even tremendous emptiness, so much so that their love for God seems gone? Surely, I would think.

Will God bring this child back to HIS love? Absolutely, for even when we are unfaithful, HE is faithful. Our Father will do what it takes, because HE loves us, and HIS love is not like our love. HIS love saves, delivers, disciplines, grants repentance, restores and comforts.

jazzycat said...

Well said.........

Marcian said...

Agreed. This post is so well put. Wayne, you have a gift for brevity and clarity.

Furthermore, as we are going through Ephesians 1 in church, I am being taught, verse by verse, that I DO have the power to overcome sin and temptation and I really do NEED to exercise that power. Oh, some days I am a total failure at it, but there are those small battles I win that serve to encourage me, and remind me that THIS is the course I am to be on, THIS is the process of sanctification.

jazzycat said...

Thank you. Yes, even though sanctification is powered by grace, we do have a responsibility to cooperate in sanctification.