Free Grace Theology and “Easy Believism”: Free Grace Does Not Equal Easy Believism

Free Grace Theology and “Easy Believism”:

Is There Really Any Connection?

by Bruce Bauer

  A Harmless Non-derogatory Term?  You be the judge. 

“Easy Believism”  At first glance and in one’s initial thoughts, the term might seem innocuous enough to the average Christian.  After all, he might say, it should be easy to believe; it shouldn’t be difficult to become saved.  Christ died on the cross for our sins, he was buried and on the third day he rose from the grave—believe this gospel, believe in this Jesus of the Bible and you’ll be saved!  Take caution, however, for some in the evangelical world employ the term “easy believism” to mean something completely different than you might think.

For the advocate of Lordship Salvation teaching, the appellation “easy believism” takes on an entirely different connotation with strikingly defamatory undertones.  Listen to the way that John MacArthur utilizes the designation “easy believism” to slander Free Grace theology in his book, “The Gospel According to Jesus,” 1988, 2008 (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan), p. 20:  “Thus the good news of Christ has given way to the bad news of an insidious easy-believism that makes no moral demands on the lives of sinners.”  Other similar slurs have been employed regularly by Lordship Faith advocates such as, “sloppy agape” and “greasy grace.”

The whole thrust of MacArthur’s accusation, of course, is that belief in Christ alone (by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone—the gospel message of Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 4:5) for salvation, if not accompanied by a whole array of outwardly visible works, is not good enough (it’s not meritorious enough to save [or keep saved] the sinner); to MacArthur, simply trusting the gospel of 1 Cor. 15:1-8, John 3:16, Acts 16:30-31, et. al., is not sufficient, i.e., it is not genuine saving faith.

As Dr. Tom Cucuzza declared in his book “Secure Forever: God’s Promise or Our Perseverance” (St. Cloud, MN:  Xulon, 2008) about MacArthur’s unbiblical teaching (p. 89:  see Jack’s link above, right column, to purchase the book), “Is he [MacArthur] not saying that there must be perseverance to be eternally secure?  Perseverance has to do with ‘our faithfulness and works.’  This man is saying that you and I must persevere, or work, to be saved.  This is why, in the same article, MacArthur calls lordship salvation, ‘working-faith salvation.’  This is clearly mixing works with faith.”

“Believism”

Words have meaning.  Words have impact; they can edify or they can bring harm.  I personally abhor this non-word “believism!”  The suffix “ism” in itself is a very thinly-veiled slam against Free Grace theology.  It implies strongly that Free Grace is no better than any prevailing cult or “ism” on the scene today.  False movements or belief systems such as Hinduism, Darwinism, Mormonism, or fanaticism come quickly to mind.  In my opinion, this implication is no coincidence.  Furthermore, setting aside the cultic connection, when one tacks on the often “tacky” suffix “ism,” the insertion can sometimes negate, weaken or alter the thrust of the original word.  Take the word “true,” for instance.  Attach the suffix “ism” and what do you end up with?  The word “truism,” meaning, having the general appearance of truth, or being accepted by the masses as being true, as in a politician’s rhetorical platitudes, yet in actuality or in common practice, it may or may not prove to be reliable or verifiably true at all!  Similarly, “believism” could be inferred to mean, “that which has a general appearance or a facade of true belief but in reality is not real or genuine belief at all!”

Is True Belief Really Easy?

“Easy”

 In exploring and parsing the meaning of the term “easy,” I feel somewhat like a grand juror at the Clinton/ Lewinsky hearings attempting to wade through the morass of Bill Clinton’s infamous convoluted testimony:  “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.  If the—if he—if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not—that is one thing.  If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement.”  Say what??  Let’s look at some options below:

Easy, meaning uncomplicated, simple, straightforward, clear, not hard, not harsh, painless, not having to work for something:  When applied to the basic biblical gospel of salvation through faith alone in Christ alone, the synonyms above definitely apply.  Coming to Jesus to become saved is not a complicated arduous task.  Even a child can comprehend and accept the simple message of salvation.  Acts 16:30-31 says, “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”  Jesus beckons and welcomes all who will come to him by faith placing their trust in him alone for salvation:   “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:  and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).  The open invitation is for everyone—2 Peter 3:9.

Easy, meaning carefree, comfortable, gentle, tolerant, soft, mild, lenient, permissive, serene, lax, benign:  This is a false picture of the Christian gospel which Lordship Faith proponents wrongfully thrust upon Free Grace theology.  It implies a false theology of universalism (popularized recently by the vast publication of the heretical book “Love Wins”).  Free Grace rejects universalism outright!  The typical accusation is that Free Grace teaches that salvation comes simply by raising a hand, reciting a formulaic prayer, accepting a few innocuous facts about the historical Jesus, walking an aisle or coming forward at a Crusade.  The Bible says nothing about any of these actions as being salvific; it says instead, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.”

Are There Any Reasons for Ever Saying that Belief Unto Salvation is Not Easy?

  1.    Uncomplicated?  Straightforward?  Simple?  Clear?  Absolutely!  . . .  Easy?  Listen to Charles Ryrie from his book “Balancing the Christian Life,” (Chicago:  Moody, 1969, 1994), pp. 188-189 about the problematic quality of the word “easy” when speaking of Christian belief:  “The content of our faith involves unbelievable demands.  We are asking people to trust this unseen Person about forgiveness of sins and eternal life on the basis of the death of that Person which is said to be substitutionary.  Is that easy?”
  2.    Stubborn unbelief.  For those who, for a lifetime have obstinately and repeatedly spurned the gracious invitation of the gospel and the wooing of the Holy Spirit, for them, saving belief is not easy.  Pharaoh was a prime example of this.  God’s repeated calls through Moses for Pharaoh to repent were spurned over and over, not because the concepts of belief in the true God and repentance were too complicated for him to understand, but because of his unyielding, unrepentant, pigheaded will.  Eventually, God firmed him up in his (Pharaoh’s) own willful long-term rejection of God’s grace (Romans 9).

 A Few Pertinent Questions for Lordship Faith Advocates

The simple clear-cut gospel message of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is unmistakably biblical, as cited above (many additional texts could be shown—the Gospel of John in particular throughout declares this gospel).  So for the Lordship Faith advocate who loves to slander Free Grace theology with the false nomenclature “easy believism,” I pose the following salient questions:

  1. The Bible clearly presents an uncomplicated plan of salvation; why do you want to make it so difficult for a person to become saved?  Why do you invent so many practical and theological hoops through which the seeking unbeliever must leap?   Are you desirous of limiting salvation only to a handful of elite superchristians, the chosen few?
  2. Since you declare that true saving faith must be accompanied by a lifetime of strong commitment to God evidenced by a collection of clearly visible “good works,” how many good works must one do?  For how many years?  Are any periods of backsliding allowed?  For how long are they permitted?
  3. If visible good works must accompany true saving faith, how can one know whether she has truly made it (to heaven)?  Can there ever be any real assurance of salvation?
  4. How do you explain clear Bible examples of long-term or lifetime backslidden believers, such as Lot (called by Peter a righteous man, 2 Peter 2:7), or the Corinthian church whom Paul called brothers in the Lord, or what about the Laodicean Church of Revelation 3, clearly believers whom Jesus loved, rebuked and disciplined (cf. Hebrews 12:5-6).

(For a more detailed development of some of these thoughts, see, for one example, the article “Grace Baiting,” at Expreacherman: http://www.expreacherman.wordpress.com/2010/09/02/macarthur-grace-baiting-an-article-bt-bruce-bauer/   OR  http://www.freegracealliance.com/pdf/baiting.pdf

103 responses to “Free Grace Theology and “Easy Believism”: Free Grace Does Not Equal Easy Believism

  1. Jan on June 23, 2011.

    Exactly! That thought circled my mind for two years. Amazing to think that I wasn’t even saved when you wrote this!

    Not sure if you still frequent the site, but thank you for the insight.

  2. This was an excellent article from Bruce, some good insight on their “thinly-veiled slams”… I am tired of their misrepresentations, however, it really is His Word they mock, His gospel they change. I still remember MacArthur saying how hard it was to believe, how hard to be saved, etc., and I’m sure we can relate to the idea of those who are brought up believing one way and haven’t heard the truth, or being set in their ways, etc.

    So what? These men do not believe that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, for if they did, they’d simply preach it, unhindered by their own words and warnings of it being ‘hard to believe’, ‘hard to get saved’, ‘hard to enter’…

    They will answer for corrupting minds from the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor 11)….

  3. Jen, you said you just blogged about this…There is no argument against listening to Jesus, nor do we find it objectionable. We certainly want to commend people to the Word of His Grace (Acts 20:32) knowing how Jesus prayed for us to be sanctified by the truth of His Word (John 17:17).

    We should take heed to His Word, we were begotten by it, and it is incorruptible. Our salvation was accomplished the moment we believed that there is not one thing we can do to acquire our salvation. No promises, declarations, or trades of good behavior. This is what He accomplishes in us when He comes to dwell in our hearts by faith (Eph 3:17, Rom 8:9) Hopefully we do not grieve the Holy Spirit, but instead grow up into the head which is Christ as we spiritually mature, getting into the strong meat of His Word so we can discern between good and evil (Heb 5:12-14)

    Like mentioned above, are you not afraid you will fail? Are you keeping yourself, or is He keeping you? Aren’t you afraid the percentage may not be a passing one? I would be, because perfection is God’s standard. Do you really believe you can finish in the flesh what the Spirit has begun? And if you believe it is the Spirit who finishes us, then who are you contending with? Aren’t you also afraid that maybe you are blogging your own words vs. rightly dividing His? I ask you these questions because there is no assurance of your salvation in what you are saying.

    Do you really KNOW that you are His? And why do you know? What if you fail tomorrow?… God is not a man that He should lie. He gave me eternal life when I believed. It is the Father’s will that He will lose none that has believed on Him, we all were given everlasting life (Jn. 6:37-40 pp).

    Either you believe the gospel, or you don’t quite believe it’s free and you set about to earn it. I do pray you will look into the gospel again.

  4. Jen, what is more simple and straightforward than trusting Christ alone for salvation? It is indeed not that hard to understand. Salvation is a free gift. It is not something that we have to earn or a down payment to be followed by future payments. Christ paid it all. All we must do is receive it by grace through faith.

    Jim F

  5. Jen, we do not argue against “listening to Jesus.” Nowhere in this site have we ever said or implied that. Rather, you have put words into our mouths, as you appear to object to salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. But, the Bible says that this is the only way we can be saved.

    Romans 11:6: And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

    You said: “You ‘can’ be saved because blood was shed, but just because you believe that, it doesn’t mean you ‘will’ be saved. You still have to do what the Lord says to do.”

    My comment: You had better hope what you said is not true. If you have to do what the Lord says to do, can you do it perfectly? Do you do that Jen? Do you still sin? If so, then by your plan of salvation, you are not, nor could you ever be, saved.

    Fortunately, for all of us, what you said is NOT true. The Bible says this:

    Acts 16:31: And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

    It doesn’t say you “can” be saved by believing in Christ. It says you “shall” be.

    Jen, if you want to KNOW how to be sure you are going to heaven, please read the booklet linked below:

    https://expreacherman.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/how-to-be-sure-you-are-going-to-heaven-with-cover.pdf

  6. I’ve just blogged about this. It is really not that difficult of a concept. It’s not about what you think, what I think, what some random man with a following thinks- it is about what the Lord said. It is about what Jesus said.

    (Administrator’s note: we do not publish links to sites with which we are unfamiliar, or which disagree with salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.)

    You “can” be saved because blood was shed, but just because you believe that, it doesn’t mean you “will” be saved. You still have to do what the Lord says to do.

    Why is that so objectionable? How can you love a Lord who you think you don’t have to listen to?

    Most of your arguments against listening to Jesus are addressed in the aforementioned link.

  7. Reblogged this on Redeemingmoments and commented:
    I watched this video too by John MacArthur. A Q&A session found on his site. I highly recommend you listen first to the video and challenge your “testing of the spirits” and “proving all things”, see if you pick up where his answers do not line up with God’s Word. Then read this blog…

  8. Chris how true… No, they are not very straightforward about the truth of the gospel. It is a gospel that I don’t believe will save. If someone had believed on Him alone, I believe this faulty teaching renders them ineffective and has them unknowing sowing tares for the enemy.

    Sowing tares unaware…

  9. A challenge to lordship salvationists.

    Lordships salvationist love to create strawmen to accuse the free grace movement. Examples,

    “There are many who think they’re saved just because they prayed a prayer”

    “There are many who think they’re saved just because they responded to an altar call”
    Of course i agree with them. You can say all the prayers in the world and not mean them. You can walk to an altar call and not really want to be there, and thus on neither case would one be saved.

    Lordship salvationists, say what you mean. If you are truly against free grace then say this: “There are many who think they’re saved just because they believe on Jesus and place their faith in Him alone”

    Of course i think they would cringe at the very thought of saying that and I don’t expect any of them to say such a thing.

  10. Welcome Mark! Thanks for visiting here today. Come back often!

    You are so correct when you say that serving God should flow out of our love for him and from our gratitude for all that he has done for us. It is simply wrong when people are led to serve God because of guilt. That is where LS leads people.

    Blessings brother!

  11. Excellent! What it actually comes down to is a relationship w God. Via the Holy Spirit, God reveals His love and grace. The legalists will always struggle with this. Connecting to God through His unconditional love and total acceptance catches us up into a life that takes us far beyond the law. These days I am knocking myself out for God, but not because I have to, but because I Love Him. His love for me has dawned on me! That is how it works.

  12. Gentlemen: I am grateful to know my comments on the label “Lordship Salvation” has been helpful.

    On MacArthur’s TGATJ I agree that JMac doesn’t speak for or teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. JMac went horribly wrong, he twisted the Scriptures on what the life of a believer, a disciple
    of Christ should be into requirements to become a born again disciple of Christ.

    LS is a perversion of the gospel.

    LM

  13. Lou,

    Thank you, brother, for that outstanding thorough look at the modern background of Lordship Salvation theology in answer to Chris’ question.

    Once, at a Free Grace conference, I heard Dr. Fred Chay say that in the early 1980s he wrote his Master’s Thesis on John MacArthur’s views which have since become known as “Lordship Salvation,” in spite of the fact, as Lou said, that MacArthur doesn’t care for the nomenclature. After Chay interviewed MacArthur, MacArthur then collated his views and produced the best-selling book entitled, “The Gospel According to Jesus” (Zondervan, 1988) [I have at times called it, “The Gospel According to MacArthur]. With the publication of this book, as Dr. Chay has said, “The game was on!”
    Dr. Chay is currently president of Free Grace Alliance and Graceline Ministries (see the links in the upper right column). He is a professor of theology at Phoenix Seminary and he is a well-known spokesman for Free Grace theology. Here is a link to an article which he wrote on Free Grace Theology: http://www.graceline.net/Articles/What%20is%20Free%20Grace%20Theology.pdf

    Chris and all,

    Lou Martuneac has an excellent Free Grace Discussion Site (see the link in the upper right column). It is called, “In Defense of the Gospel,” which, by the way, is also the title of his fine comprehensive book which details the difference between Free Grace Theology and Lordship Faith teachings. You may purchase the book at Amazon
    http://www.amazon.com/In-Defense-Gospel-Lou-Martuneac/dp/1597818674/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333848761&sr=1-1

  14. Lou,

    Thanks for that great analysis and definition of the LS lie.

    For those preachers to deny it and then preach it reveals: A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. James 1:8

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  15. Recently I have spoken with several pastors who, by clear evidence in their own sermons, are men who irrefutably hold to the Lordship position exactly as John MacArthur defines it. In two cases when I asked if they preach Lordship Salvation, they said, they do not. These men rejected the use of the term “Lordship Salvation” to describe their position on the gospel. When asked, therefore, if they believe Lordship Salvation is their interpretation of the gospel, they believe they are being honest when they say, “no.” These men know they hold to the position commonly known as Lordship Salvation, but do not want their position to be identified by that title. Because they do not like the term that has come to identify their position some will steadfastly deny they are advocates of Lordship Salvation.

  16. The position these men espouse places the emphasis on a resolve to surrender and live in obedience to the lordship of Christ. For them the indispensable condition that must be satisfied to be born again is upfront surrender and submission to Christ’s lordship. Submission and surrender are given prominence over faith, believing and repentance, although all of these are given consideration in the Lordship interpretation of the gospel.

    It becomes clear why many of those who hold to the Lordship position do not like the term, “Lordship Salvation.” They are uncomfortable because the term appropriately identifies and labels the position, which they themselves espouse. Upfront “surrender, commitment and obedience to the lordship to Christ” is the heart of their message. It seems only natural then that the term “Lordship Salvation” has come to define their stated position. Opponents of Lordship Salvation, however, feel that the term is in one sense unfortunate because the debate is not over the lordship of Christ, but over the response of a person to the gospel and the conditions that must be met for salvation.
    More…

  17. Jack, following is how I address the LS label.

    The theology known today as “Lordship Salvation” was previously known by other titles such as Mastery, Commitment, or Discipleship Salvation. It has been my experience to find that some men who hold to the Lordship position on the gospel do not want to be unequivocally, publicly identified with the position by the “Lordship Salvation” label. Once the current title took hold most Lordship advocates did not appreciate its having been attached to their position. For instance, John MacArthur wrote, “Thus there is no salvation except ‘lordship salvation.’” 3 In a footnote to that sentence MacArthur continues,

    “I don’t like the term “lordship salvation.” It was coined by those who want to eliminate the idea of submission to Christ from the call of saving faith, and it implies that Jesus’ lordship is a false addition to the gospel.”

    Here MacArthur plainly states that the condition to be met for the faith that saves is “submission to Christ.” Later we are going to see that a promise of “submission to Christ” as a definition of saving faith is indeed, “a false addition to the gospel.” Marc T. Mueller of Dr. MacArthur’s Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California wrote, “The Saviorhood of Christ is actually contingent on obedience to His Lordship.” It is important to note that Mueller identifies obedience to the lordship of Christ as the key element upon which man must act to receive Christ as Savior. This theme is consistent with all pro-lordship advocates. More..?

  18. Hi Chris,

    Welcome. Good to have you with us. Your question is a good one.. and we have pondered and explored it here on our web site.

    I believe the term “Lordship salvation” (LS) may have originated with MacArthur (JMac) but knowing the works message of the LS teaching errors.. we could say that any message that requires good works before, during or after salvation (to insure salvation) could be called preaching a Lordship salvation message. Example, the misinterpretation of the word “repent” as “Turn from sin to be saved or stay saved,” which, among many, many others, is Billy Graham’s message. That is a works-for-salvation Lordship faith message. Paul addressed the same error in his letter to the Galatians, warning them about the accursed preachers who mixed works with Grace. (Lordship “salvation.”)

    Thanks for asking — and I pray others here may elaborate on this — but the error has been around since the beginning — man’s pride that he can add his merit or efforts to the finished work of our Savior Jesus Christ.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  19. I have a question.

    I’m a free grace believer and I read that John MacArthur was the one who popularized the lordship salvation view. My question is, was lordship salvation a major doctrine before John MacArthur or was it only held by a minority?

  20. Hi Lou,

    Great to hear from you. I hope things are going well for you.

    You said, “The difference between “do” and “done.” ”

    I can’t think of a better more succinct way to describe assurance of salvation—thanks!

    Michael,

    Thank you for sharing your testimony with us—very inspiring. I hope that you stop by again soon!

  21. Michael:

    I appreciate the comment you posted here. You have touched on the difference, which as I believe it was D. L. Moody who said that, “the difference boils down to just two letters.” The difference between “do” and “done.”

    Lordship Salvation corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3), by placing demands on the sinner for the reception of eternal life (justification) that the Bible never makes for him.

    LM

  22. Michael,

    Welcome to the realization of God’s world of FREE Grace.. We sure appreciate your visit and comment.

    Peruse our web site and you will find much Biblical Grace basis for the wonderful Gift of Eternal Life in Jesus Christ — and understand the freeing love of Christ in His Grace.

    We pray you will visit and comment often.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  23. Michael from N Ireland

    This is all new to me – Free Grace vs Lordship. Must say it’s been enlightening to read those who are 100 % sure of salvation because it doesn’t depend on what we do but rathar on what’s been done-just as well really!! I’m getting there myself after over 20 years of being haunted as to wether I’m repenting enough, believing enough, changing enough, looking inwards to self instead of outwards to our great High Priest who ever lives to make intercession for us.

  24. Marcella:

    You’re right, there are a lot of heresies out there. We can’t keep up with or on top of all of them. So, the better we get to know the Bible the more likely we will recognize error by any name when we encounter it

    Yours in Him,

    LM

  25. Marcella,

    You are welcome — we have been here for over six years trying to preach the Truth.. and warn against error.

    As you know, we are glad to have you with us.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  26. Thanks for that clarification, Jack. Boy, there are alot of heresies out there. So much confusion leaves many with a false hope and a false sense of where they will spend eternity. I often pray for people, who are deceived, and I ask the Lord to expose the lies, deceit and deception that is running rampant these days. I’m thankful for your ministry here, Jack, and for the things that are being brought into the light. The truth will set people free!

  27. Hi Marcella,

    GES = Grace Evangelical Society Wilkin and Hodges)

    “Strawman” means – a weak or sham argument set up to be easily refuted.

    Zane Hodges is associated with GES and has, in the past, written some pretty good essays on Grace. But in recent years he has started preaching what some call, the “crossless Gospel.” See Lou’s comments above for an explanation:
    http://www.expreacherman.wordpress.com/2011/06/18/free-grace-theology-and-%e2%80%9ceasy-believism%e2%80%9d/#comment-8683

    Or search for and download expose’ in the PDF file from Duluth Bible Church. The error is subtle but grave.
    http://www.duluthbible.org/331965.ihtml
    You will find many articles here and at least one (second one in the list) on the crossless gospel.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  28. I am seeing some terms that I’ve never heard of before, and maybe I missed the explaination of these as I was reading through these many postings, but can someone tell me what GES stands for? Also, what does “strawman” mean? I’ve never heard of Zane Hodges? Who is/was he? Thank you!

  29. Hi Jesse.

    Where are you going with this question?

  30. What does the Bible say about judging?

  31. Hello all,

    My new/next post is sort of a non-detail summary of some errors in the church today (not all). Of course Dr. Tom Cucuzza’s book (right upper side bar) is much more comprehensive on the subject..

    My New post is about the convergence of the Big Three errors in the church, False Repentance, Perseverance and Lordship “salvation”

    http://www.expreacherman.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/false-repentance-perseverance-and-lordship-salvation/

    Y’all hop on over and let’s talk.
    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  32. And I add to the above — that because we are Free in Christ, His love for us should constrain us to do great and small things for Him, not as a slave but as Free.
    Kinda makes one want to grab someone off the street and share our Savior with them, doesn’t it?

    Happily in Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  33. Thanks Bruce for that detailed analysis of the LS error. It is a shame to see LS teachers try to force good works upon believers in Christ rather than flooding them with God’s wonderful Grace.

    God’s Grace = Free Indeed.
    Jesus said:
    “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:36

    The word “Free” in the Greek in this passage means (as a citizen) not a slave (whether freeborn or released from slavery or servitude), exempt (from obligation or liability).

    What a spectacular statement by our eternal Savior, Jesus Christ!!!

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  34. Hi y’all:

    Great discussion today, thanks everyone!

    Jon, thanks for joining us today, you are most welcome here. Yes, we Free Gracers do get pretty passionate about protecting the pure, straightforward gospel message of the Bible from the inroads of LS teaching.

    Jan, excellent thorough loving responses to Jon. I can’t really improve upon anything you said, thanks!

    Pearl, don’t sell yourself short. I have learned much from you. Often, even just asking the right questions gets us all on the right target. Thanks!

    Jack and Lou, your assessment of the propriety of using the term “should,” (the word with which Jon had some issues) was on the money. And, as you rightly pointed out, it IS biblical (Eph. 2:10): “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we SHOULD walk in them.” What, then, is the perspicuous implication of the verse? It must mean that not everyone who gets saved (by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, from verses 8 and 9) will perform outwardly visible good works, even though it is certainly God’s will that all true believers will serve him, as Jan pointed out well earlier. Not only is it God’s will, but, for the Christian, it is the only way to live a life of joy and of spiritual abundance and a lifetime of expectation of future rewards. But, sadly, some truly born-again (unmistakably saved and destined for heaven, based upon their trusting Christ for salvation through the gospel message of 1 Cor. 15:1-8, Acts 16:30-31, John 3:16, et. al.) Christians choose to fritter their lives away watching TV, playing video games or being entertained in other ways. Does this apparent lack of noticeably visible works (don’t forget, some “works” of the heart are not outwardly visible—prayer, a forgiving spirit, grieving over sins—these things quickly come to mind), as the staunch LSer would say, demonstrate that they were never saved to begin with? Not on your life! John 10:27-30 declares that God will never let go of one of his children: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.”

    Regarding the assessment by Jack and Lou that one of the greatest errors of LS teaching is in its utter confusing of the two distinct yet related concepts of justification and sanctification, I agree completely. If you ever noticed, when attempting to detail how a person becomes saved, LS writers almost always quote the Synoptic Gospels and James 2, both of which were addressed to believers, yet they rarely quote the Gospel of John. In so doing, they wrongly apply DISCIPLESHIP texts (those which unmistakeably speak to believers—the people who are ALREADY saved) as if they are calls to salvation. This creates a muddied mess of a theological stand. This misapplication of Scripture creates a huge barrier for the seeking unbeliver to pierce through. For the LS advocate, Francis Chan being the greatest culprit who sends all whom he calls “the lukewarm” to hell (Jack has a number of discussions on Chan), it is not good enough (meritorious enough) to simply trust Christ through believing in him and the gospel message of his death, burial and resurrection for salvation. For the LS teacher, a person must make a promise of strong commitment to God, followed by a lifetime of faithful carrying out of that promise; otherwise, in the LS mindset, that person was never really saved in the first place. This skewed presentation of “the gospel” absolutely decimates assurance of salvation for the believer.

    To read about the sad, sad fallout of LS teaching, see the article “Grace Under Fire: The Fallout of Lordship Faith Teaching”:
    https://expreacherman.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/grace-under-fire-the-fallout-of-lordship-faith-teaching/

  35. Really!?!

    You mean Phil Johnson of that all together lovely, encouraging, and exhorting blog called “Pyromaniacs” where readers are regularly cut down to size if they dare question anything written by any one of those humble servants of our Most High God? Boy, I’m in the wrong company, huh? 😉

  36. Sad thing is, they believe it’s you who are the troublemakers! 😦

    Stanford wasn’t popular in these circles either. Phil Johnson has him listed on his “bad theology” page.

    JanH

  37. Thanks, Jack and Jan.

    Miles Stanford’s article is excellent. Not only does he skillfully identify the false teaching, he directs the reader to the right path toward true holiness, “not I, but Christ”.

    I can’t help but believe that countless sincere Christians who having heard these teachings over and over again are truly saved, just like the Galatians, only they are being troubled by those outside of grace. Sad thing is, they believe it’s you who are the troublemakers! 😦

  38. Yes Jan, and that is a great article on Pearl’s Blog.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  39. Speaking of Francis Chan and his overbearing tactics (learned from MacArthur), Pearl has an excellent article posted at her blog on consecration in which is this pertinent comment:

    This subject of consecration seems to be badly misunderstood by so many believers. Many, especially those young in the Lord, have been victimized time and time again in this matter of surrender, or commitment. The bludgeon most commonly used is: “The Lord Jesus gave His all for you, now the least you can do is give your all for Him!” The believer is exhorted and pressured to consecrate, surrender, commit his life to Christ on the basis of his love and gratitude for what has been done on his behalf at Calvary.

    http://bethusminded.wordpress.com/2011/06/17/consecration/

    JanH

  40. Pearl,

    Don’t cut yourself short.. I think you recognize most of them fairly easily and explain yourself well also.

    I think, by association and conversation, we continue to learn the LS and Calvinist tricks.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  41. I hear ya, Lou. And so, it’ll remain a very slippery subject resulting in needless confusion, frustration and division.

    I thought, Jack, that your follow-up to Jan’s was extremely useful clarification. All of you are very able opponents to LS, recognizing the slightest deviation. Some of us are listening intently, as well as and learning.

  42. Lou,

    You make a great point — that LS folks don’t want their teaching questioned.. and if questioned they resort to the catch words invented by Calvinists, MacArthur and Chan along with misuse of God’s Word by not applying time-frame (dispensational) teaching from God’s Word.

    Thanks Lou, I am not sure we will ever get correct, unvarnished answers from LS folks.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  43. Jack:

    You’ve identified one of the most grave errors from which LS flows- they treat salvation and discipleship as one and the same.

    Lou

    Ps to Pearl from my previous to her: The exact same goes for the GES/Crossless gospel advocates. Just try to get a clear unvarnished answer to a precise question and like we saw earlier in the week, its dodge, dodge, dodge.

  44. Thanks Jon for expressing your view.

    Thanks Jan, I was just about to answer Jon but find your response to be quite good, especially explaining in the two natures of every believer, which LS folks deny.

    Jon, One quick thought, which brings up the Relationship vs Discipleship/Fellowship (or State vs Standing) conundrum for many.

    Relationship/Standing: Believers in Christ are eternally related to God as His child through faith in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation, without works. We are positionally in Christ forever by believing the Gospel.

    Fellowship/Discipleship/State: As believers, eternally sealed in Jesus Christ, we are then begged, beseeched, asked, implored and pleaded with to be obedient followers of Christ. We are created in Christ Jesus for the purpose of good works, in which we SHOULD walk. (paraphrase of Ephesians 2:10)

    As Jan says, discipleship is not instantaneous, but depends upon the desire of the believer to be obedient. Some believers never become disciples, yet their salvation is secure in Christ.

    Free Grace teachers implore all believers to to be obedient by God’s Grace because they are saved, and SHOULD be constrained by the Love of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:14)

    LS folks don’t distinguish between the Standing (eternal) of a believer and his/her State (temporal). They teach that because you are regenerated before you are saved (not true), you WILL be obedient — or you were never saved. This is Galatianism at its worst.

    Thanks again for your visit.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  45. Pearl:

    The problem is that many LS people do not like having their exact teaching and its implication pinned down and to them. Often they use orthodox terms, but apart from defining the terms as LS has come to redefine Scripture to force it into confirmity with their Calvinistic/LS presuppositions. The danger of LS is in the subtilty of its introduction as you are beginning to recognize. Half the battle is recognizing LS, which you are beginning to do, asking the right questions and insisting on clear, unvarnished answers from them. Do that and you may get answers. Often, however you’ll get less than cordial, “how dare you question my theology” responses.

    Lou

  46. I really hope, Jack, Bruce, Jan, Lou and others who recognize the nearly indistinguishable differences, that you will continue to hammer away at making the LS position crystal clear to those of us who still manage to get confused on some points.

    Reading Jon’s comment, I found myself agreeing with much of it. However, he makes it sound as if there’s really not an issue at all, but rather needless bickering. Even suggesting that the word “should” is being abused. The fear seems to be that if we go “too far” on free grace talk, then the natural result will be a pitifully lukewarm church (we’re already there).

    All of us here understand that concern, but that’s no reason to do what LSers do in response to this potential problem (which I recently learned in Bruce’s review of Francis Chan’s book “Crazy Love”):

    “…the Lordship Salvation camp says that we should front-load the gospel and raise the ante. Let’s raise the standard so that we make sure that only those who are committed to going on can really become Christians to begin with, they would say. Is that the answer? Doesn’t that breed legalism and insecurity which never produces spiritual maturity and Christlikeness?”

    Works done in the flesh, no matter how impressive, are still filthy rags to God no matter which side of the cross one resides, and even more condemning, the scriptures tell us that whatsoever is not done in faith (you had faith enough to believe Jesus’ death reconciled you to God the Father, but not faith enough to let HIM be the source of the new Life) is sin (Romans 14:23).

  47. I see this might be unclear:

    …without the sinner being established as a new creature through the preaching of the gospel,…

    This could be read as the LSers don’t preach Christ crucified to the lost first, which is generally not true. They do do that most of the time. What they don’t do is get the sinner established as a believer before they place the demands of discipleship on them. The response to the demands of discipleship, to the LSers, IS the call to salvation. Thus, the sinner does not embark on the discipleship path FROM salvation, but FOR it. And even this does not quite express their position right because the LSers generally believe that the sinner is in fact actually regenerated and so does already qualify to walk as a disciple and can therefore be called to discipleship as the call to salvation.

    JanH

  48. Hi Jon-

    You bring up some really good points and some others I would like to clarify a bit.

    You are absolutely correct that the standard put before those who have believed is to walk in holiness and the Holy Spirit will convict the child of God as a child of God, not as an unsaved sinner, to do so.

    There are 3 passages that I can think of right away that confirm the Lord’s will for the believer is complete consecration to God:

    Romans 6:12-14, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it is its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

    Romans12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

    And II Corinthians 5:15, “and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”

    Each one of these presumes the hearer to be already saved and makes their being alive in Christ the prerequisite to this obedient offering of self to serve Him. Each is also based on doctrine already given to prepare the hearer for this instruction and are located quite far into the letters that contain them. Two of them are “therefores” and the third is in the second letter to a church Paul founded, made up of those who have already received the gospel message and been born again. None of these are given to unbelievers to get saved. You correctly allude this here:

    Grace by its very definition is free … so the call to holiness is not about “getting saved”.

    One thing about God changing our hearts and giving us new nature–we do not have our original sin nature changed when we get saved. We still have it and it is just as evil as ever and can never be subject to the law of God (Romans 8:7-8). However, believers are also given a new nature, so we have two natures, and this new nature answers to the Holy Spirit and that gladly and willingly (provided He is allowed to get a word in edgewise that will appeal to this new nature, and this appeal is always made on the basis of Christ crucified and risen again, not on the law whose purpose is to condemn). The old nature cannot be subject to God and the new nature has no need of the law and in fact cannot be grounded in law if fruit unto God is going to be produced.

    Now the things with the LS crowd are 1) they deny that there is still the sin nature in our members. They believe that our original nature is changed and that it is this redeemed nature that grows in Christ likeness. The nature that sins is actually gone and the reason we still sin is because our natural members hold indwelling sin and must be brought into subjection by learning new habits of holiness. (That may be an inadequate explanation of their position but it is the best I can do. Perhaps someone else can tweak that to describe it better.) 2) They demand that the sinner begin as a new creature by committing to the discipleship program the Lord has for the believer, without the sinner being established as a new creature through the preaching of the gospel, which they then accept unto salvation, thus qualifying them to walk in newness of life. The general reason for this is the view that a sinner must be regenerated prior to believing. So basically, they are thought to be given a new nature before they are saved, and this new nature is the only one there is, thus ever increasing levels of obedience and faithfulness are inevitable from the get go.

    To make matters worse, they tend to preach sanctification via law keeping, such that the law that condemns us now becomes our instructor in righteousness, which we allegedly are going to be willing and able to keep. However, Romans 7:1-6 makes it abundantly clear that we are freed from the law by our identity in the death of Christ such that we are now married to another–“to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.” To the degree that we identify with Christ in His death, we will be made to bear fruit to God by the life of Christ being manifest through us. Paul affirms this separation from the law in Galatians 5:7-26, esp. 18, and seems to imply here that if we are walking in the Spirit we will not only not carry out the deeds of the flesh but will also manifest the fruit of the Spirit as He works in us to Christ’s glory.

    In short, to the degree that we walk in the Spirit, which is directly proportional to the degree that we identify with Christ in His death, we will bear fruit to God, not because we strive to produce it, but because He produces it in us.

    So the issue is not so much a tension to be resolved, or tolerated, but another way of seeing the matter all together. Both justification and (practical) sanctification happen via the same mechanism: faith in Christ’s death and resurrection, not our striving, nor works that we produce at all. Justification: Christ died for us. Sanctification: I died with Him and He now lives in me. Not I, but Christ, fruit resulting.

    Galatians 2:19-20, “For I through the law died to the law, that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

    JanH

  49. I wouldn’t consider myself in either the FG or LS camp but l like Jack’s description: a Biblicist is what I think you called yourself?

    I think the arguments back and forth between hardcore FG and hardcore LS become a bit ridiculous after awhile as it feels as if both sides continue to build strawman arguments against each other. It seems that whenever someone from an FG slant proclaims the amazing truth of God’s grace and the simplicity of salvation they are labelled “cross-less” or “easy-believism”.

    Similarly though, those on the FG side cry foul when an LS makes a strong call for followers of Jesus to be holy.

    Each side continues to respond to the other with the same argument: “I never said that! That’s not what I mean!”

    Grace by its very definition is free … so the call to holiness is not about “getting saved”. Paul, in dealing with the Corinthians was clear in that they were saints (FG) but that didn’t stop him from calling out sin and challenging them to live according to the upward call – to live as who they are in Christ (LS). I wonder if Paul, depending on what Scripture you decide to pull out and use, might get labelled an LS preacher by those who are fired up about FG and a FG preacher by those fired up about LS 🙂 In fact it seems as though that was the case for Jesus, too … the Pharisees called Him out for being too much about grace and others gave up following Him because his preaching was too hard!

    Saved by grace alone, in Christ alone, by faith alone .. and this grace completely transforms me – not that I am perfect but I press on, strive, reach for the goal of the upward call in Christ Jesus. Not saved by my works but also not just “should” press on … that makes grace sound so weak … grace means my heart and nature are completely changed by God so not just “should” but “able to” and “quite crazy not to” (Paul, while understanding that we fail, seems shocked that those who profess Christ would not strive to live for Christ completely).

    There is a great risk in FG of being labelled to easy and a great risk in LS of being labelled to hard … I like the tension and am ok with preaching both grace and holiness (as Scripture does). When we try to go so far to one side of the argument out of fear of what it might mean to embrace the tension it becomes a bit ridiculous … but I might be missing something here.

    Thankful for your passion for the truth!

  50. Hi Drew, Lou, Jack, Jan, Pearl and all:

    Sorry for joining the discussion so late, but Lou was explaining his position strongly and clearly (to my understanding) so I felt no need to interject myself earlier.

    Drew, I think that you have had some interesting things to share on earlier discussions. I haven’t always agreed, but you do make me examine issues from all sides. I think that things got a bit sidetracked on this discussion.

    I understood exactly what Lou was driving at, and it had absolutely nothing to do with promoting a hard or harder gospel against or above an easy or easier gospel. I believe that you missed his focus entirely. Let’s examine your following statement for a moment:
    “Even though this article had absolutely nothing to do with the GES, you specifically brought them up and criticized them, and said that their gospel was too easy. That presumably indicates that you think your gospel is harder.”

    First, Lou NEVER said anything about one group’s “gospel” being easier or harder than the other group’s. That was absolutely never his point. What was the point? The salient questions are, 1. Which teaching is biblical, sound, right, and true? and 2. Which teaching is false, unbiblical, skewing the true gospel? and 3. How do LS proponents exploit reductionist “gospel” teachings to their full advantage in maligning the whole Free Grace Movement?

    Second, as the writer of the article, I immediately picked up on Lou’s citation of GES in the context of the discussion of the article; it was not a red herring. Lou’s point, as I understood it (I stated this earlier in the blog), was that when the Lordship Faith camp is making disparaging remarks about Free Grace theology, using derogatory slurs like, “lawlessness,” “a distorted gospel,” “no-lordship,” “easy believism” or “greasy grace,” they almost invariably utilize GES “theology” as their “straw man” to knock down all of Free Grace. This is unfortunate and dishonest. It gives the Christian world a skewed viewpoint of what Free Grace is really all about. MacArthur and others speak as if reductionist theology is the normative description of, or the overriding standard for ALL Free Grace theology. It is not! These men even go a step farther by lumping the whole Free Grace movement (broad-brushing tactics) with other equally fringe movements such as universalism, the self-esteem movement, or the 70s rapid church growth at any cost philosphy. So Lou’s point about the LS straw-man argument as it relates to GES was a timely and appropriate addendum to the article.

  51. Drew,

    If you wish to correspond with me personally, you have my email address — since I commented on your Blog quite some time back.

    I am disappointed that you never specifically answered how you would witness for our Savior, what would you tell a lost person they needed to believe. I am not interrogating but simply trying to understand where you are coming from.. Your stated sympathies for Hodges and GES lead me to understand somewhat and concern me because I have discussed and fought this GES error battle with others.. and to me it is not a battle but a useless skirmish. Hodges had no ground for his later statements.

    Incidentally I searched all of over 100 comments on the two threads in which you and Lou have participated and I find NO occasion that Lou made the statement you attributed to him.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  52. Drew:

    Say no more here and you’ll hear no more from me. I never tolerate or back down from the kind of rhetoric, gamesmanship and shenanigans you brought to this thread. If you think I’m merely posturing, just ask Antonio.

    LM

  53. Lou, I tell you what — why don’t you just “hit the ignore button” on me like you threatened to do earlier. I regret ever saying a single word to you.

  54. So Drew you’ve gone from merely inferring for me things I never stated to bold face lying about it. And still dodging direct questions. This is so typical of da Rosa’s tactics I have to wonder if… Nahh, couldn’t be again, could it?

    LM

  55. Jack, I don’t think I’ve failed to answer any of your questions, or even any of Lou’s questions for that matter. I just don’t appreciate being interrogated. And for that matter, I would also appreciate it if you would speak to me personally before decrying my alleged failure to answer.

    Also, I have zero desire to actively advocate a theory you disagree with, which is why I have limited any comments you would disagree with to simply answering (genuine) questions people (such as you) have asked me. And I have absolutely zero desire to get into an argument with someone as aggressive as Lou, especially about something that is relatively off-topic. The only reason this GES stuff even came up is because Lou attacked them, saying that their gospel was an extreme easy-believism error (i.e., their gospel is too easy). I considered that a foolish and counterproductive comment, because whether you believe in a crossless gospel or a non-crossless gospel or whatever other gospel, free grace is SUPPOSED to be easy. There is no error in easiness. But anyway, Lou seems now to deny that he even made the statement, so I guess that means he backs off from it, or that he didn’t mean it the way it sounded, or something.

    Lou, I already quoted the statedment I was referring to, and I have already answered all your questions.

  56. What we observed from Drew typifies the kind of interaction and reaction one gets from most GES people and their sympathizers. Their passions run very higj especially over Zane Hodges who seemingly is nearly worshipped by his followers. I don’t dislike Drew, but his tactics are wearisome because I’ve seen them so often.

    Take care

    Lou

  57. Lou,

    thanks for your analysis — and I am sorry Drew has seen fit to insult and refuse to answer your and my very specific questions.

    I thus assume Drew no longer desires to participate since we prefer specifics in a civil discussion of issues and errors.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  58. Drew:

    What you did here is create a position that is not my own, ascribe that position to me and attack that position. A textbook example of a Strawman argument.

    LM

  59. Drew:

    And still- you need to go back through my comments in this thread and show me and our hosts where, as you claim, I stated, “the gospel should be hard — or at least not too easy.”

    If I didn’t write those things (and I did NOT) then you can’t assign those statements to me and furthermore you need to admit you erred, that you inferred those things that I did not write.

    LM

  60. Drew:

    I didn’t ask if you sympathize with GES, the question is:

    Do you accept and agree with the interpretation of the gospel originated by Hodges, propagated by GES, commonly known as the “Crossless” gospel?

    LM

  61. It isn’t exactly rocket science to glean from my comments that I sympathize with them.

  62. Drew:

    You wrote, “I found your statement that the gospel should be hard — or at least not too easy

    Why don’t you go back through my comments in this thread and show me and our hosts where I wrote, “the gospel should be hard — or at least not too easy.”

    You have more than once attributed those statements to me, in error. In the future do not ascribe to anyone things they did not say. You attempted to force your own thinking, what you wanted to infer, into what I’ve written. Why I don’t know, but I do know that it is inappropriate. Now, do the right thing: retract and apologize.

    You aren’t dodging a question? OK, let me reiterate this question to you for the third time for your answer.

    Drew- Do you accept and agree with the interpretation of the gospel originated by Hodges, propagated by GES, commonly known as the “Crossless” gospel?

    LM

  63. Yes, I found your statement that the gospel should be hard — or at least not too easy — to be contrary to free grace doctrine, so I asked you about it (multiple times). Also, I’m not dodging anything. And I have heard plenty of people argue that you must understand the Trinity to be saved, so that’s why I mentioned that.

  64. Jack/Bruce:

    I may have one more question for Drew, but I will go back on message with this article tomorrow.

    Lou

  65. Drew:

    See your 1:29pm comment. “obsessed, insult them, treacherous, legalistic derogatory terms, ridiculous...”

    And a few new ones since that. Do you get why I am going to have to ignore you? Unless you want to reel that rhetoric back in with an apology. Believe me, I understand how one can get over-heated in blogging.

    LM

  66. Hi Jack:

    Stegall’s book is outstandig on several levels. While it thoroughly dismantles the Crossless gospel, it also defines the Gospel from the Scriptures.

    It appears Drew is going to dodge your asking him how he’d witness to a lost man. Who’s asking about the Trinity? And my question whether or not he accepts the GES CG is just as likely to be dodged.

    On the Grace conference I plan to attend one of the two days. Looking forward to the fellowship.

    Fwiw, I am real close to hitting the ignore button for Drew. Too much like the CG people before him (Antonio, Alvin, Gary, Jeremy, et.al).

    Lou

  67. @Jack — “Drew, if you are reading this would you please indicate to me/us exactly how you would witness your faith to an unbeliever — the knowledge he would need to know in order to trust Jesus Christ as his Savior.”

    I guess probably about the same as you would, although I don’t think I would get into complicated stuff about the Trinity. Most of this talk about a “crossless” gospel is purely theoretical, because I don’t know of anyone who knows about Jesus (other than Muslims) who fails to recognize that he died on a cross. And as far as I know, even crossless gospel followers do not actually advocate ignoring the cross. It’s basically a hypothetical argument about a guy on a deserted island.

    @Lou — “Anyway, please Drew tell all of us how my gospel is harder than the GES Crossless gospel?”

    Even though this article had absolutely nothing to do with the GES, you specifically brought them up and criticized them, and said that their gospel was too easy. That presumably indicates that you think your gospel is harder. So I asked you (twice) how your gospel was harder. If you think it’s “bullying” to quote you and ask you to explain what you meant, then I would advise you that you need to thicken your skin.

    @Jan, I haven’t even said anything in the comments to this article to advocate the crossless gospel. All I did was criticize Lou’s rather silly comment that the gospel should not be too easy.

  68. Isn’t Drew begining to read like Antonio da Rosa?

    I’m not sure I would quite put him in the da Rosa category yet, but there is a (seemingly ever) increasing stream of comments that must be disagreed with.

    In any case, here are my rebuttals against Drew.

    On the personal, as I see it, Lou has not made it his life goal to bring down the GES, nor is he obsessed with same. The reason he has entered this conversation recently is because I informed him of da Rosa’s presence here. We can be assured that both Jack and Bruce are in agreement with Lou on both issues: Antonio da Rosa and the GES/crossless gospel in general. Lou represents “the room.” Drew is the detractor.

    On the doctrinal, the GES “gospel” is simply indefensible. You cannot get from “I determined to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified” to “believe Jesus gives eternal life and you will have it” by any normative use of Scriptures. Hodges’ teaching cannot be defended, nor should it be, because of the myriad of doctrinal problems that go with it, as discussed in the previous thread and upstream here. But the main reason can be boiled down to simply this. “Jesus gives eternal life,” though true, is not the gospel. “Jesus died on the cross as your substitute and God’s wrath against your sin is satisfied in His death” is the gospel. Eternal life is the consequence of this gospel for those who believe it (the gospel) but it is not the gospel.

    However, for those who are not satisfied on the matter, see Tom Stegall’s 828 page book The Gospel of the Christ which he wrote for the purpose of settling the issue about the GES and where he makes an observation or two on what is amiss with the GES crossless gospel.

    JanH

  69. Lou,

    I understand exactly what the “Crossless Gospel” preaches. I was thrilled to read Tom Stegall’s “The Crossless Gospel” when it came out and I corresponded with Dennis Rokser about it and other matters. I was amazed because I saw that doctrine being proclaimed by Antonio. (I haven’t read anything by him since Stegall’s treatise came out). It clarified so many questions about the false teaching.

    Drew, if you are reading this would you please indicate to me/us exactly how you would witness your faith to an unbeliever — the knowledge he would need to know in order to trust Jesus Christ as his Savior.

    BTW, Lou I see Rokser will be speaking at Scudder’s Grace Conference this year June 28-29. A bunch of great speakers.

    Stay in the Battle for the True Gospel.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  70. I’ve been trying to follow Drew’s comments as well. Seems to be defending a different gospel.

  71. Jan, Bruce, Jack:

    For those who may read this thread, are unaware or unsure of what the GES (Crossless) gospel is, I’ll boil it down.

    The GES CG teaches that the lost man does not have to know, understand or believe in whom Jesus is (deity), what He did on the cross and His resurrection to provide salvation, but can still be born again. Just believe in a promise of eternal life from a man named Jesus, even if he is believed to be Mormonism’s half brother of the Devil, and that man is born again.

    So, the GES gospel is crossless, resurrectionless, deityless and a no repentance message. The “Crossless” gospel of Hodges, Wilkin and GES is corrupt and as void of Bible truth as any reductionist assault on the gospel that has ever been introduced to the NT church.

    Lou

  72. Jan, Bruce, Jack:

    Isn’t Drew begining to read like Antonio da Rosa? Bullying tactics, vitriol and all rest? It didn’t work for da Rosa and it won’t for Drew.

    Anyway, please Drew tell all of us how my gospel is harder than the GES Crossless gospel? And while you ponder that please help me understand who I am communicating with. Do you accept and agree with the interpretatiom of the gospel originated by Hodges, propagated by GES, commonly known as the “Crossless” gospel?

    LM

  73. Yes, warn the unsuspecting all you want. But your comment above essentially stated the following:

    “When LS men criticize an easy-believism such as the Hodges, Wilkin GES message they are justified in their criticism. ”

    What you are saying is that the GES gospel really SHOULD be criticized as “easy-believism,” but that your own gospel is NOT easy-believism. So are you saying that your gospel is harder than the GES gospel? What is it that makes your gospel hard?

  74. Drew:

    Let me be extra clear, the GES “Crossless” gospel is as radical a departure from the one true gospel of Christ as LS is, only from polar opposite heretical markers.

    As long as GES/CG advocates stick to themselves I have no reason to act. If they attempt to introduce their reductionist heresy beyond GES borders I will warn the unsuspecting. Acts 20:30-31.

    LM

  75. Lou, I realize that you have become somewhat obsessed with the GES and have apparently made it your life’s goal to bring them down, but in attempting to insult them, your comment above was basically treacherous to the whole free grace movement. You think legalistic derrogatory terms are ACCURATE CRITICISMS when applied to the crossless gospel? Seriously?

    The whole point of the “easy-believism” label is that we say it is easy to get and stay saved. The whole point of the “cheap grace” label is that works must be required for salvation because otherwise grace would be cheap. You think those labels only apply to the GES, and not to yourself? Do you believe in hard-believism? Do you think converts must pay some great expense to get saved?

    How ridiculous.

  76. Bruce:

    Like I noted- GES reductionist theology is a ripe and legitimate target. On the other hand, we don’t see any LS men going after Charlie Bing’s dissertation; do we?

    Lou

  77. Hi Lou:

    Thanks for your kind comments. I, too, have noticed that LSers almost always quote GES thelogy in their criticisms. They see no distinctions (or ignore them) between various Free Gracers.

    Bruce

  78. Many have been alarmed at the increasingly meaningless presentation of a gospel that seems to ignore the person of Christ, the sinfulness of man, the finished work of Christ and the pending judgment of God. This gospel calls men to salvation when they have been given only a vague idea of just what they need to be saved from, who Christ is and what He did to provide salvation. This is a reductionist interpretation of the gospel, i.e. the content of saving faith with which I strongly disagree. This is the so-called “Easy-Believism” gospel, which in one of its most extreme forms is propagated by the Grace Evangelical Society (GES) Dr. Bob Wilkin, Executive Director. The GES gospel is commonly known as the “Crossless” or “Promise-ONLY” gospel, which was originated by Prof. Zane Hodges (1932-2008). Later we will take a closer look at the teaching of Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin. While I do not hold to any reductionist approach to evangelism and would admonish those who seek quick uninformed decisions for Christ to repent of their error, this document has been produced to address the opposite extreme, Lordship Salvation. (IDOTG, p. xiv.)

  79. Bruce:

    Insightful article, I appreciate it. Often terms, “easy-believism” in this case, need defining especially in the case of the Free Grace movement because there are factions with clearly defined differences. The GES has become the most extreme of any so-called “easy-believism” error.

    When LS men criticize an easy-believism such as the Hodges, Wilkin GES message they are justified in their criticism. The problem is that with very few exceptions the LS advocates never identify and/or define for their readers that there are different interpretations of the gospel within the FG camp. There are many in the FG camp that do NOT believe or preach the extreme-reductionist Crossless gospel, but instead the one true gospel of Jesus Christ. The Hodges/Wilkin Crossless gospel is a ripe and easy target for legitimate criticism, and of course the LS men use it to full advantage to demonize virtually any non-LS interpretation of the gospel.

    If I may, in the next comment, I am going to cite a portion of my book from the introduction. I found it necessary to draw some distinction where and because the LS men do not.

    Lou

  80. Brent,

    Thanks for your note — we appreciate the encouragement but we also know, with you, that the application of God’s Word is what changes minds. The credit is to the Lord. Glad that our articles helped shine some light for you.

    Your experience in your church is all too common these days and the quotes you give are messages from a Pastor who obviously does not understand Free Grace or is possibly influenced by some of the “important” new authors who promote Lordship “salvation” and confusion.

    We will certainly pray for you that you will enjoy the Grace, simplicity and freedom that is in Christ Jesus — who sets us free to do what we SHOULD do for Him. We also thank you for your testimony of believing God’s Word rather than the words of men.

    We welcome you back any time on this post or as we post new articles.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  81. Welcome Brent!

    Wonderful to hear from you. We will pray for your ongoing assurance and growth in your walk with the Lord. A favorite passage of Jack’s (and mine) is 1 John 5:12-13: “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the name of the Son of God.” (Great text for assurance of salvation.)

  82. Hi,

    I have been reading this blog for a few months now and I am really enjoying it.

    For years I thought I had to stop my “bad” sins so I would have “fruit” of true saving faith. I would go long periods of time without commiting this particular sin and I would use that as my assurance because I was not sinning. Well, that is how I use to measure my salvation, by doing works, not sinning, doing what’s right, going to church, not listen to worldy music..etc. (I realize now, that I, SHOULD not do certain things and the Lord is helping me overcome.)

    When I started reading your blog, I realized I was basically doing what Lordship Salvation teachers preach. I was looking at my “fruit” after I trusted Jesus as Savior for my indicator of salvation. It is no wonder I would have great assurance one day, then two weeks later, I would talk myself out of ever being saved because I wasn’t doing what I thought a saved person should be doing.

    I am having a hard time with the church I am attending now, because I hear preaching that sounds borderline Lordship Salvation. For example, I hear, “make Jesus your Lord and Savior”, “committ to Jesus”, etc… You know its by grace, but you need to go do something for Jesus and that will prove your worth type message. (even as subtle as it is in the messages, but it is there).

    I was saved at age 20, 32 now, and for about 10 or so years, I have been (unknowning) trying to work for my salvation (or the assurance of it) and it has been grief, because I could never know for sure if I was doing “enough” to know that I am saved.

    I want to thank you for this blog and website. I ask that you pray as I journey forwarded.

    -Brent

  83. Bruce,

    Yep, I’ve had some run-ins with Independent Baptists — and I know some who are clear (those who dropped the repentance = turn-from-sin salvation message).

    But my church was independently unaffiliated with any group — except loosely with Florida Bible Church and College of which Lou and I spoke..

    We used nothing but KJV.. and I usually explained the “why” of that about a couple of times a year. One good reason is that my Bible was an Old Scofield and we had Old Scofield Bibles as loaners in the service. I recommended that when they buy a Bible, get the Old Scofield Bible because I used the Bible extensively in the service and was able to give them page numbers as well as chapter and verse. That made for a lively service.

    Otherwise, the problem was that folks unassisted would pick out the NIV, which I explained had too many inaccuracies and seemingly on purpose misrepresentations of words.

    But I don’t necessarily think an NIVer is unsaved — but….. 😎

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  84. Jan and Pearl,

    Interesting — because we who understand God’s Grace know that appearances or outward actions do not determine or even indicate salvation. I don’t know about Washer as I have listened to him only once for one purpose — and I heard “turn from sin or you can’t be or aren’t saved.” That is The Lie and is kissin’ cousins to LSers.

    I was raised unsaved in the Bible belt in ‘Bama and was bombarded with Turn-from-sin folks and bland-as-dishwater family Calvinists.

    Before I trusted Christ as my Savior, I admired most Catholics.. as being the sweetest, kindest, usually the wealthiest, most well dressed of most folks I knew.

    Shortly after I trusted Christ I would see these same folks and assumed they were likewise true believers in Christ…. that is, until I started talking to them about my Savior, Grace and being saved without works.. It became clearer then — false doctrine.

    So proper appearances and actions are vitally important but do not a Christian make. Important for a believers testimony? — Yes!! A determining factor for salvation? No!!

    Good thoughts ladies..

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  85. Thanks Pearl and Jack for your kind comments. As always, Pearl, keep the witty stuff coming . . . we love it!

    Jan, regarding church dress codes and such, I’ve not heard any of that specifically from LS teachers or churches, but I have from one “Independent” Baptist in my area. They are King James only (you will be asked to close and place any other version on the floor). Women must wear floor-length dresses; men must wear a tie at least and preferably a coat. All childrens’ programs are completely segregated by sex up until at least high school. No co-ed sports are ever allowed, even for adults, not even at church retreats and not even for married couples. All members are expected to pass out church-promoting tracts in the community several times a year. Members are instructed to call each other “brother” or “sister.” Church membership is required to serve in any ministry. Membership entails “walking an aisle,” and re-baptism for anyone not previously baptized in an approved Baptist church. Baptisms are frequently and formulaic, like an assembly line; this provides impressive “statistics” for church promotional purposes. I visited there three times and that was more than enough for me!

    Bruce

  86. All these issues (bible versions, clothing, music, etc) are very important ones (of which I hold very strong opinions), but I arrived at my current convictions over years’ time, and not by a guilt trip. If some Lsers had known me 20 years ago as a babe in Christ, I would have probably been labled unsaved. But I am thankful for the loving patience of Jesus through one of His mature Christian servants.

  87. Pearl,

    I remember the standard of dress coming up somewhere along the line from some LSer or another. I keep thinking Washer was somehow involved, either he said it himself or someone else was quoting him, I think. But it seemed like they were saying Christians dress a certain way, as if to imply that if you are not dressed a certain way you are not saved. I thought that was a real reach. It certainly could be that a person who is indiscreet in his or her (usually her) dress is so because of not being saved, but I hardly think that just because a person is dressed discretely (s)he can automatically be deemed a Christian, which was how it came across.

    JanH

  88. Pearl,

    Those verses you mention makes one wonder if the LS folks are aware that these are even in the Bible. So clear and concise.

    “Be not,” “use not,” “I will not” — all personal choices for the believer under God’s Amazing Free Grace!!!

    Thanks,

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  89. I knew you’d understand the spirit in which I asked these “silly” questions, Jack.

    Living the Christ-filled life requires the wisdom of the Spirit (can’t have one without the other). Paul answers the matter of works in too many places to count, but I’ll list two here upon which we may gauge ourselves:

    Gal 5:1 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

    Gal 5:13 “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

    and one more…

    1Co 6:12 “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”

  90. Hey Pearl,

    Well, with those questions, maybe we should question your salvation according to our standards… 😎
    JMac and Chan would.

    .-) 😎 😉 .-) 😎 😉 .-) 😎 😉
    Good, use the KJV.
    Use your computer…
    Blog.
    The Blogosphere is not the church.
    Never shut up or be quiet. (except in the church)
    Yes, VOTE Conservative.. and pray our President will realize he is not the Savior but will make the decision to trust Jesus Christ alone as his Savior.
    .-) 😎 😉 .-) 😎 😉 .-) 😎 😉

    We certainly appreciate Bruce and — that is a great article, we agree!!! (we appreciate all our commenters also.. not that we always agree with them).

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  91. Very good article, Bruce.

    I’d be interested to hear some responses to those perfectly reasonable questions you ask of LSers.

    I would also like to know what kinds of works are required of me. I prefer the KJV. Am I reading the right bible version? Should I be wearing long skirts and head coverings? How much technology is okay, if at all? Even though I don’t believe a woman ought to hold leadership positions in the church, I still have some biblical knowledge and opinions in the bloggosphere. Should I just shut up and be quiet? May I vote?…

  92. It’s hard to see how anyone can mock the term “belief” when it comes to us, and then also apply it to themselves. Most of these people don’t even really like the word “belief.” They think “belief” is just a code word for “obedience,” or “commitment,” or “faithfulness.” That’s why I say hard-worksism makes sense. These people very much believe that salvation is hard, and that it requires works.

    But “Hard to Believe” is a hilarious title. And I guess calling them “hard-believists” is funny enough anyway, because any idiot should know that BELIEVING, when confronted with evidence, is supposed to be easy and not hard.

  93. to make that analogy fit, I guess you would have to say that Mac’s position would be “hard believism.”

    Bruce, that is MacArthur’s position. His book is called Hard to Believe.

    JanH

  94. Drew, to make that analogy fit, I guess you would have to say that Mac’s position would be “hard believism.”

  95. Good point Jan! I forgot about that!

  96. @Jack

    //How do Free Gracers “treat the Grace of God Cheaply”? And who are those folks of whom you speak?//

    I think free gracers usually say that the following verses are referring to believers who drifted back into sin and/or legalism:

    Hebrews 13
    29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”

    They’re treating grace cheaply.

    @Bruce, heh, I guess we could say that MacArthur believes in hard-worksism.

  97. Drew,

    I don’t understand your correlation between “promise only” and the “crossless gospel.”

    You said, Free gracers do believe that someone can treat the grace of God cheaply and still be saved, but the grace itself is not actually cheap. It’s either free or expensive, depending on whose perspective you’re looking from.

    How do Free Gracers “treat the Grace of God Cheaply”? And who are those folks of whom you speak?

    Grace is never cheap.. Jesus took your place in death and it cost Him His life when He shed His Blood for you. Far from cheap, His Salvation by Grace through Faith is the most expensive Gift Jesus could offer you. God’s Grace IS Free!!! Never cheap!!

    A True Gift is always Free — no cost, no debt no expectation of return. But we must make the decision to accept His Gift or it is never imputed to us.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  98. I don’t think “ism” is necessarily a derrogatory suffix. Think of patriotism, conservatism, pre-/a-/post-millennalism, dispensationalism, etc. And as far as I know, even the word “truism” actually just means “widely known truth.” But you are obviously correct that the tackiness of it in this case is intended to be an insult.

    But regardless of the intended insult, I personally like to just embrace derrogatory terms unless they are flatly false. Sticks and stones. Hence, I often use terms like anti-abortion intsead of pro-life, easy-believist instead of free grace, crossless gospel instead of promise-only, etc. The one term I cannot really bring myself to accept, though, is “cheap grace,” because it is essentially false. Free gracers do believe that someone can treat the grace of God cheaply and still be saved, but the grace itself is not actually cheap. It’s either free or expensive, depending on whose perspective you’re looking from.

  99. Hi Drew:

    Thanks for you insightful comments. You are correct that not all “isms” are derogatory as you point out well with your examples. I think that in this one case regarding “believism,” however, the slur was by design.

    Drew, in a debate or online discussion, have you ever turned the other camp’s slams around so they return upon them like a boomerang? I did that once in an article where I said something to the effect that if one uses the term “anti-choice” then it’s probably justified to label the other side “anti-life.”

    I have to agree with your distaste for the term “cheap grace.” I can’t stand that one either!

  100. I agree. We learn a lot from each other, as we ought. 🙂

    JanH

  101. Jan and Bruce,

    Bruce, your dissection of commonly used words in Christian circles was artful and accurate — explaining why so many folks reject simple Bible Truths — they have been misled.

    Jan I agree — the “ism” paragraph convicts many of us, doesn’t it?

    I think we learn a lot from each other.. even when we see those who promote LS and Calvinism. However there is a limit to how much we could learn or tolerate from either. I learned long ago, despite all the urging to the contrary, I am not one to be very tolerant of obvious error.

    Maybe we oughta change the name of the Blog to “The Really Free, Free Grace Bunch” but in so doing we would lose our high position on the Googoo search engine. Its hard to get a good rating for Conservative Christians on that liberal outfit. Oops, maybe I just ruined it.

    Thanks Bruce and Jan.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  102. Bruce-

    Your paragraph on isms is excellent. I never thought of that before. I am insulted anew! Hmph. 😡

    JanH

  103. Thanks a lot Jan for your kind words! Your comments on the last post were very helpful—I always learn much from you.

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