Friday, July 6, 2007

The Demonic Doctrine of Cheap Grace

Recently in the Mafia speak-easy, we've heard some things that are very disturbing. We've been told that a person can possess genuine faith yet never produce any good works as an evidence of having genuine faith! In spite of the clear language see in James 2:14-24, we have been told, "the idea that James is dealing with a distinction between false and genuine faith is an eisegetical import into the text."

This whole line of reasoning is foreign to me, because if anything, I normally see this passage being used by Catholics and Pelagians as a proof text against the Reformed doctrine of Sola Fide. After much debate in the speak-easy, I have not seen our detractor bring any compelling evidence that the Reformed Mafia has eisegeted anything into James 2:14-24. The only reason I can imagine that someone would want to propagate the idea that saving faith can be wholly lacking in any good works is either to protect their Antinomian theological framework, or to allow for the willful and habitual indulgence in sin by those who want to call themselves Christians.

Concerning this so-called "faith" that produces no outward manifestation of good works, the great Baptist John Gill said:

"for as works, without faith, are dead works, so faith, without works, is a dead faith, and not like the lively hope and faith of regenerated persons: and indeed, such who have no other faith than this are dead in trespasses and sins; not that works are the life of faith, or that the life of faith lies in, and flows from works; but, as Dr. Ames observes {b}, good works are second acts, necessarily flowing from the life of faith; to which may be added, and by these faith appears to be living, lively and active, or such who perform them appear to be true and living believers."

Saving faith is not a dead faith. It is not a faith that allow a person to go, perhaps, for decades totally devoid of any good works whatsoever. Genuine saving faith is a faith that changes a man on the inside and therefore cannot help but show in some way on the outside. In Hebrews 11, we see examples of Old Testament saints who's lives were not always the best examples of godly living, but in spite of their failures, we see that all of them did some good works!

In 2 Cor. 5:17, Paul tells us "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." According to the "Free Grace" scheme, Paul would have to reword that verse to say "if any man be in Christ, he may not necessarily be a new creature: old things may stay the same; behold, nothing really needs to change at all."

Not only does Scripture teach that God has ordained that Christians will manifest good works (Eph 2:10), but experience teaches us the same thing. I'm certainly not the most perfect Christian on the planet, but when God saved me, there was a change! It wasn't much at first, but over time God has brought me to the point to where I'm not the same guy I was 9 years ago!

When I was an Arminian, preaching in a Pentecostal denomination, this Antinomian perversion is exactly the kind of nonsense I used to attack at every opportunity. Ironically, now that I'm a Calvinist in the Southern Baptist movement, I'm still in opposition such nonsense! The idea that a person can experience a genuine conversion and continue living in a completely reprobate manner is untenable. This sort of "easy-believeism" is what has plagued Baptist churches for decades and has resulted in a multitude of people who profess to know Christ, who profess to be Baptists, but in their works deny him.

We who are Reformed (and yes, Arminians as well) believe that real saving faith -the kind faith causes a person to be justified in Christ- is not a dead faith that may never bear fruit. Though works do not save a person or keep a person saved, we understand both from Scripture and experience that when a person is saved, the works they do are an evidence of that faith.

What I am about to say may be shocking to the modern "to each his own" mentality so prevalent in our day, but I truly believe the theology we have been defending against recently is a dangerous heresy. It may masquerade as "Free Grace" but it's not...

It's Cheap Grace and a doctrine of demons!


What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:14-17 ESV)


Please see also my article entitled Aspects of Faith and Evangelism where I discuss the differing aspects of faith.

4 comments:

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

Andrew Murray says this:

"To the sinner out of Christ, works may be his greatest hindrance, keeping him from the union with the Savior. To the believer in Christ, works are strength and blessing, for by them faith is made perfect (James 2:22), the union with Christ is cemented, and the soul established more deeply rooted in the love of God."

Scribe said...

When I was an Arminian, preaching in a Pentecostal denomination, this Antinomian perversion is exactly the kind of nonsense I used to attack at every opportunity. Ironically, now that I'm a Calvinist in the Southern Baptist movement, I'm still in opposition such nonsense! The idea that a person can experience a genuine conversion and continue living in a completely reprobate manner is untenable. This sort of "easy-believeism" is what has plagued Baptist churches for decades and has resulted in a multitude of people who profess to know Christ, who profess to be Baptists, but in their works deny him.

You have an interesting background, Rhett...quite similar to mine. I too, as a pentecostal, had a great aversion to antinomianism, and like you, as a Calvinist, continue to have one. Free-Grace proponents create a red-herring when ascribing so-called Lordship positions to just us Calvinists. Good post

Kat said...

I guess the whole James 2 problem is that some people do not take into consideration the purpose of this book. James is not talking about how you get saved, like Paul does in Ephesians, but he's talking to people who are already saved. While Ephesians and Romans focus on faith and grace as means of salvation, James focus on the fruits of that faith.
There is no contradiction in the Bible. Thank God for coherency!

Lou Martuneac said...

Greetings:

Sorry I am late to the discussion, but...

I want to dispel the misnomer being spread by some Grace Evangelical Society (GES) members, especially Antonio da Rosa. The misnomer, and it is a major misnomer, is that GES is the voice of the Free Grace movement in general.

The GES has in fact become a shrinking cell of extremists that have fallen into the trap of Zane Hodges’ “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel. This “contrary doctrine” of Hodges and Bob Wilkins’s “Crossless/Deityless” interpretation of the Gospel has been the cause of “division and offences” in the FG camp and churches. (Rom. 16:17-18).

The teachings of Hodges is what has come to be known and accurately defined as the Crossless Gospel,” “ReDefined Free Grace Theology” and the “Promise Only Gospel.” It is largely because of GES’s heretical views of the Gospel; many men in the Free Grace community have separated from GES and do not want their name or ministry to be identified with the GES.

Once the Free Grace Alliance (FGA) was formed it became the new home of many men who departed GES over the egregious errors coming from Hodges and Wilkin.

Exposure of the egregious errors of Hodges, Wilkin, Neimela, Myers, and lesser knowns like Antonio da Rosa has put GES in cardiac arrest. It is my hope and prayer the GES is soon to become totally isolated and outside any relevant discussion of the Gospel. May I share this article with your guests, Is “ReDefined” Free Grace Theology- Free Grace Theology?

The article will help them understand that Hodges, Wilkin and especially Antonio da Rosa do not speak for and do NOT represent the general population of men who identify themselves as members of the so-called Free Grace community.

The Free Grace community has been fractured, and it is a good fracture in that large numbers of FG men have withdrawn from GES over the Hodges/Wilkin “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel.

Lord willing not one more unsuspecting believer will fall into the trap of the Crossless gospel.


LM