How to Completely Destroy the Doctrine of Grace
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. – Ephesians 1:7-10
We have been studying Ephesians at church on Sunday evenings. Verse by verse, slowly and deliberately. This past week, after months and months of meeting, we arrived at verse 9 of chapter 1. In this verse we read the phrase, He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him. The ESV reads this way:
making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ
The phrase, according to His purpose should bring you much comfort. That word for purpose in the Greek is eudokia, which refers to God’s satisfaction, delight or pleasure, His kind intention. And what was that? It was making known to us the mystery of His will, and what was that? The mystery of His will is our redemption by way of the Gospel preached, in which He delights, purposed and contracted in eternity past and to be realized in time.
Our redemption, as stated repeatedly in Ephesians chapter 1, is founded on God’s grace, that is, His unmerited favor. There is no way any Christian can read this passage without seeing that it is God’s grace, His bestowing upon us His lovingkindness towards us in redemption by way of His unmerited favor.
Think about that unmerited favor. As sinners, as rebels to His Law, as haters of Him, there is no reason for God to have acted favorably towards us except for His own good pleasure and to the glory of the riches of His unmerited favor towards us. In addition, dwell for a moment upon the phrase according to His purpose. There’s only one purpose regarding our redemption. Just one, and it is based upon unmerited favor and set forth in Christ.
Yet this doctrine of redemption by faith and the unmerited favor of God is under attack beloved. It is being assaulted in the wide open spaces of modern evangelicalism.
You know, I pray, what God’s grace is. But do you realize that the majority of evangelicalism is preaching and teaching against the unmerited favor of God? Do you know how?
By teaching that God will redeem based on merit.
It’s true. Many are teaching that God will save based on merit, and this teaching is an all out assault on the doctrine of the redemptive grace of God. In fact, such teaching destroys the concept of God’s redemptive grace.
Verse 9 of Ephesians 1 tells us that this whole redemptive plan by the Triune Godhead is according to His purpose. Purpose is singular. There’s just one, and it’s based on God’s grace, unmerited favor. If anyone adds another reason, then the doctrine of the grace of God alone in salvation just went out the window.
So how does one completely destroy the doctrine of grace as unmerited favor to sinners? By far, the most popular way is by believing and teaching premillennial dispensationalism. To say that God will redeem anyone for any other reason than unmerited favor is to completely assault and destroy the concept and biblical teaching of grace.
How many Christians to you know that believe and perpetuate the belief that God FAVORS unbelieving Jews and will redeem them at the second coming of Christ because they are Jews? Because they are Israel after the flesh? How many prominent preachers teach the same thing?
That is not the grace of God, that is not unmerited favor.
That’s merited favor, and the Bible never teaches that anyone will be saved based on merit.
What that belief and teaching is, is that God will redeem some – not by grace, or unmerited favor – but based on who they are, their heritage, their genealogy, being Israel after the flesh.
It is redemption by merit. They will be saved because of whom they are, not by God’s unmerited favor towards them. Do you see it? God will save them because they have the merit of being Israel “after the flesh.”
Such a teaching is a lie from Hell.
Brethren, the opposite of Law is not grace, it is lawlessness. The opposite of grace is not Law, it is dispensationalism.
Joel, surely you must be over stating the situation; surely there must be some wiggle room in the doctrine of free grace for the consideration of my merits.
Surely there must be some merit in my parents having water sprinkled on my head (well, at least that’s what they told me happened, I honestly can’t remember) by a priest when I was an infant. They said that made me a Church member – a member of the body of Christ.
Surely there must be some merit in my own decision by my own free will to let go and let God; to let Jesus come into my heart. I mean, I decided to permit Jesus to save me. Doesn’t that count for something?
Surely there must be some merit in the practice of my day to day life, as I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and I don’t chew – and I don’t keep company with girls what do.
Brother, you know I love you, but you may want to think these things through a little before you depart so radically from what the vast majority of evangelicals believe and practice. When we define grace as God’s unmerited favor, you must understand that what we mean is determined by a certain combinations of situations, circumstances, personal preferences, social context, and the all important issue of making the Gospel marketable by making it appealing to the world of unsaved people.
Joel can speak for himself of course – but, I think Joel IS saying that there is no “wiggle” room. None. Grace is Grace. All you mentioned (with all respect) is just works, This is exactly what Joel is saying. I was looking/waiting for the punch line as I was reading through your comment, but none came. I am sure you are sincere. But so was Paul in all his works before he was converted.
If this is in poor taste or uncharitable – just delete it Joel. I could hardly just say nothing to this good brethren.
I’m sure that the good revmills56 can speak for himself , as can Joel , but surely you can see that the first comment was tongue -in -cheek.
Also there must be some merit in being a true american who still believes in the right of a person not in the militia to own a gun and use it, except when somebody is shooting you because you are a Christian or a preacher, but to blast them if it’s not because you are Christian. And we know the bad karma in Boston was not for what we or George Bush did, must be for the bad karma done by obama and all who accept social security payments from the federal government, and we thank god that we are not like them…
But all sarcasm aside, I agree with the point. Those like Tullian who teach grace but not the atonement as a satisfaction of law are failing to teach the gospel, just as much as those who say they have no tolerance for sinners.
Romans 3:31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.”
The law is not the gospel. The gospel is not the law. The gospel, however, IS ABOUT THE SATISFACTION OF GOD’S LAW.. Though law and gospel are not the same thing, they are not opposed because they never claim to have the same function.
Law says what God demands. Gospel says how Christ satisfied that demand for the elect. The law never offered life off probation:. only one sin would put Adam and his seed under its curse, and no matter how many acts of obedience to the law, the law could never promise everlasting life.
The antithesis does NOT understand Romans 10:4 in terms of abrogation. The “end of the law” is Christ completing all that the law demanded, so that there is no remainder left for the Spirit enabled Christian to do. The gospel says DONE. The gospel does not say “to be done by the life of Christ in the elect”. But neither does the gospel say– “no need for Christ to have ever satisfied the law or done anything.”
Christians sin, and therefore their “fulfillment of the law” (see for example, Romans 13) cannot ever satisfy the law. But the law will not go unsatisfied. There is no antinomian bypass around the law.
The law, once satisfied by Christ, now demands the salvation of all the elect, for whom the law was satisfied. God the Father would not be just, and God the Son would not be glorified, if the distribution of the justly earned benefits were now conditioned on the imperfect faith of sinners. Yes, faith is necessary for the elect, but even this faith is a gift earned by the righteousness of God in Christ’s work.
This is how the law/gospel antithesis explains Romans 3:31 (no, we uphold the law). The law is not nullified but honored by Christ. The only way that its requirements will ever be fully satisfied in the elect (Romans 8:4) is by the imputation of what Christ earned. “
If the law were the gospel, even saying that there’s law (in the garden and now) would be “legalism”. But God has told us that the law is not the gospel and that it never was the gospel. Romans 11:5—“So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is not on the basis of works; otherwise grace would not be grace.”
The legalist identifies law and gospel, and then reduces the demand to including what the Spirit does in the elect. But what God does in us (by grace) must be excluded from the righteousness, which is Christ’s satisfaction of the law.
“What that belief and teaching is, is that God will redeem some – not by grace, or unmerited favor – but based on who they are, their heritage, their genealogy, being Israel after the flesh.”
But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and orelent from this disaster against your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you pswore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’” And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.
Now here is how I would look at it, if I were a dispensationalist (and I’m not). Everyone knows that Abraham was no different than the rest of the pagan world when God decided to intervene in his life in order to use him and his line to bring about salvation for the world. It is not because they are Jews but because God claimed them as his people and made a promise to them. If he decides that because the world interprets Judaism traditionally as being attached to His name, that he will call out a large number of ethnic Jews, converting their hearts to worship Him in his Son, at the end of time, in order to bring glory to that name (though they collectively have *despised* his Son for centuries). I mean, that’d be a pretty amazing game plan. I wouldn’t have any problem with that at all. It wouldn’t be because they are less sinners. But because God wants to use them for his glory, same as he always has.
In either case, salvation is still by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone to the glory of God alone.
I guess that’s why I don’t hate dispensationalism, any more than I hate the refusal to baptize babies. 🙂 (For example, paedobaptists do this not out of sentimentality but out of their understanding of and rejection of synergism – so when we see people refusing baptism to children of believers, we see that as an implicit endorsement of synergism, even though I am sure you Baptists would actually *reject* synergism officially).
It’s only the dispensational stuff that says there is another way of salvation for the Jews, keeping the law, or that we have to become more and more Jewish to be a REAL Christian. That is what I hate.