Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Free Flesh ("Grace") Movement

Salvation is free -- no doubt.  It's not by works -- no doubt.  However, the free grace movement doesn't represent biblical grace.  From the perspective of a lost person, what a deal.  Not only is there no works involved, which is a deal, but he gets to keep his old life too!  He doesn't give up anything, not even his own will.  He keeps that too.  It's not a hard sell for the "evangelist," that's for sure.  The biggest problem is that this is not how the Bible presents it.  It reminds of a lot of other false gospels in that it takes a part of salvation and really focuses on it to its own distortion.

"Free" is the part of grace that it obsesses with.  And for grace to be "free," it must be less than a biblical faith, which results in less than biblical grace.  When someone does finally live for Christ, it's not because of grace, which is what the person says is the reason he's saved.  If he is "sanctified," which he isn't, because he isn't justified, then he is sanctified by himself, even though the grace is free.  We know it's himself, because he doesn't do it for awhile or ever.  If it were grace, he would start living the Christian life right away, because that's what grace does.  That is the power of grace.

"Free" also means "free" from sin.  The free grace people so much can't have someone be free from sin, that they actually say, and are proud of it, that someone doesn't ever live the Christian life and is still saved.  That's their idea of free.  And then if you don't agree with that, you're an apostate.  Fine.  I gladly renounce what I'm calling the free flesh movement.  It isn't grace.  It is an occasion to the flesh.  Paul told the Galatians not to use their liberty as an occasion to the flesh (Gal 5:13).  The word "occasion" is a Greek word that is a military term, meaning a base of operations.  Liberty is not a base of operations for the flesh, which is a perfect description of the grace movement's understanding of grace.  Grace isn't one of those base of operations, but that movement makes grace to be that.  That isn't God's grace, but man's perversion of grace.

And if this free flesh isn't grace, which it isn't, then it also isn't faith.  Faith comes by the grace of God and it is exercised for the grace of God, which changes someone.  Grace isn't a garbage can, but a cleansing agent.  The free flesh people make grace a garbage can.  You just keep living like you were except with grace now swallowing up the sin.  Romans 6 says you are dead indeed unto sin when grace abounds.  Grace cleans up your life, not just takes the same old life and trash compacts the sin as the "believer" keeps practicing it.

The proponents of free flesh distort so much of scripture to justify their position that it is difficult to undo it.  As I've written before, you would have to write a whole book to answer their material. For any one of them who cares, Thomas Ross has given them a place at least to start at his (here, here, here, here, and here).  They change the gospel.

In short, the free flesh leave out the true identity of Jesus Christ with His Lordship.  You must believe Jesus is Lord to be saved, and if you believe He is Lord, because you know what that means, then you want to follow Him.  This includes repentance.  It is why they can't have repentance be necessary for salvation, and if they do, they have to redefine it to something that is just intellectual.  They say that faith is all that is required, but in fact that don't place their faith in the biblical object of faith, a scriptural Christ, but fall short of that.  They allow a person to remain a rebel and an idolater, not to be repentant of either of those and still be saved.

As I've talked about, there are many of these people in both evangelicalism and fundamentalism. Fundamentalism often talks about separation from evangelicals because of their perversion of the gospel, but they do not separate from these fundamentalists who believe the same false gospel. Galatians 1:6-9 especially should induce these fundamentalists to clean up their own camp.  To do so would mean going fully unaffiliated.  They should.

I don't think the free flesh movement is the most dangerous religious movement today, but it might be the worst.  Some might think that a church allowing same sex members, something like that, is the worst.  The worst is giving a false gospel that inoculates someone against the real thing.  The adherents are not only not saved, but don't know that they are not saved.  Maybe nothing could be worse.


KJB1611 said...


By the way, the exegetical gymnastics involved in a Zane Hodges sort of doctrinal position (which is still exceedingly corrupt in a Ryrie, although he is less extreme) explain why the movement has few scholarly adherents. When one has to a statement about righteous actions distinguishing the children of God and who the children of the devil are, 1 John 3:10, and make it into something that does not actually distinguish between the children of God and the children of the devil so that one can keep his non-exegetical presuppositions, things become difficult.

Here are some questions that Lou Martuneac never answered from your post (here: am still waiting on free "grace" answers to these questions. Instead of an answer, I got lots of quotations from people influenced by Dallas Seminary, as if that was supposed to be a substitute for exegesis of the Bible. The questions:

Along those lines, I would also like to know if you think only some saved people are Christians. Since the Greek of Acts 11:26 equates as identical categories "disciple" and "Christian," should someone with your view exhort saved people to become Christians by a post-conversion act of surrender?

Also, since the most commonly used Baptist confessions teach Lordship salvation, do you believe that the vast majority of Baptists before 1900 were lost and believed in works salvation, just like, so it seems, Pastor Brandenburg allegedly believes in works salvation and so is lost? Was the true Gospel restored to Baptists in the 1880s-1890s?

Could you also explain why Christ being the answer and a desire to stop sinning are a disjunction, so that one must choose one or the other? Why is coming to Christ for freedom from bondage to sin's power as well as sin's penalty works salvation, but dividing Christ so that He saves in sin but not from sin until a post-conversion Lordship salvation decision is made really exalting Christ more?

Finally, I have not seen an actual exegetical answer to the exegetical evidence I gave above for why saving faith involves surrender. None of the people who have tried to answer Pastor Brandenburg have, as far as I can see, touched my actual exegesis. If you, or someone else, can actually show how standard Greek grammar is wrong, and the KJV is wrong in its translation of pisteuo as both "believe" and as "commit," I would be interested. I reproduce the exegetical argument again below. Thanks again for the response.

What I said before:

It is certainly true that when one comes to Christ one receives Him as both Lord and Savior. Furthermore, it is clear that saving faith involves commitment or surrender. For example, the idea of committal or entrustment in the common New Testament verb to believe, the verb found in texts such as John 3:16, is evident. The verb is translated in a form including the word “commit” in Luke 16:11; John 2:24; Rom 3:2; 1 Corinthians 9:17; Galatians 2:7; 1 Timothy 1:11; Titus 1:3. “He that believeth in me hath everlasting life” (John 6:47) includes an act of committal or surrender to Jesus as Lord.

Furthermore, the common Biblical phrase for saving faith in Christ, pisteuein eis auton ("believe in/on Him"), involves submission and surrender. In the words of a standard Greek grammar:

Deissmann in Light From the Ancient East gives several convincing quotations from the papyri to prove that pisteuiein eis auton meant surrender or submission to. A slave was sold into the name of the god of a temple; i. e., to be a temple servant. G. Milligan agrees with Deissmann that this papyri usage of eis auton is also found regularly in the New Testament. Thus to believe on or . . . into the name of Jesus means to renounce self and to consider oneself the life-time servant of Jesus. (pg. 105, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, H. E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey. New York, NY: MacMillan, 1955. Greek characters have been transliterated.)

Anonymous said...

Recently, I went to the door of a young man who was strongly considering becoming a Wiccan. We were invited in and proceeded to talk with this man about the Lord for over two hours. During this time, it became obvious that this man was into many different activities that were not pleasing to the Lord.

I tried to keep from getting "sidetracked" onto talking about these things, but he kept coming back to them. During the last half-hour of our discussion, he kept coming back to the same type of question:

"If I were to become a Christian, would I have to give up _________?"

So, I have a question for any "free grace" type folks that might be reading: How would/do you answer a lost person who asks such a question? Do you say something like, "Don't worry about that, salvation is a free gift, just receive Jesus as your Savior and you'll have eternal life." To be consistent, wouldn't you have to?

Then we must ask ourselves, what did Jesus do in similar situations, like the rich young ruler? There was one thing that he lacked. Of course, salvation is not obtained by selling all that we have and give to the poor. So, why did Jesus tell him that?


KJB1611 said...

Dear Mat,

While the concern about getting "sidetracked" is common in Sword of the Lord type evangelistic material, when we look at the evangelistic examples of Christ and the apostles in the New Testament, we see them actually answering people's questions when they bring them up. That is not to say, of course, that they don't eventually get back to the gospel, but the idea that we should not answer people's questions is not biblical. Based on passages such as Luke 14:26-33, the answer to the question, "if I were to become a Christian, would have to give up…" If the matter in question is indeed a sin, should be a forthright "yes, you will have to give it up – and God will give you a new heart so that you will have the ability to do it."

Salvation also is not by giving up everything that we possess and giving it to the poor, but it does involve giving up ourselves to Christ, so that if he tells us to give everything to the poor, we are willing to do it. Covetousness was the sin that the rich young ruler was not willing to repent of, and the Lord Jesus laid his finger on that sin so that the rich young ruler could be brought to the point of repentance if he was willing.

Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your answer, Thomas. I agree with everything you said. Your answers make biblical sense. Perhaps I wasn't clear. The reason I was asking these questions was, I would to see how a "free grace" person would answer. I think it exposes that their gospel is not THE gospel. In your experience, Thomas, (since they don't seem to want to answer these types of questions for themselves), how do the FGers handle the questions I asked above?


Jim Camp said...

Hi Thomas,

You have used the Deissmann quote before, & it has always seemed off. I understand the slave being considered a servant of that pagan deity, but the slave is not the one doing the ENTRUSTING, it is his master. The slave is not entrusting anything in this situation, he has no commitment, does not necessarily even believe in this deity, so I don't see that particular illustration applying. Is there something I am missing?


KJB1611 said...

Dear Jim,

Congratulations on being the first anti-Lordship advocate who did something other than ignore the quote. I hope you will also answer the rest of the questions above.

The point of the Greek grammarian there is that the eis auton makes it clear that a surrender aspect is found in the piseteuo. That is, the use of this phrase for believing into/on the Lord evidences that surrender is found in the phrase. That fact is also confirmed by many, many other lines of evidence. Please read the comprehensive study of every instance of the just/righteous, belief/faith, and live word groups here:

for a great deal more evidence.


Jim Camp said...

Hello Thomas,

Thanks for the answer. I'm very excited that I came in first! I did not realize it was a race. (only joking, of course)

I don't have good answers for all of the other arguments. I am not Anti-Lordship. Neither do I accept a position because I could not disprove it. As I said once before in this discussion with Kent, I want to obey & agree with the Bible, not just parrot someone (The latest best argument).

I recognize an aspect of surrender in salvation. We do not come to the Savior making demands that He put up with our ways. I still do not like the terminology of "exchange" found in some men's presentations (not necessarily your's). And I still think we are saved devoid of any works (I had nothing to exchange, before or after salvation).

I very much liked the way you answered Mat - "yes, you will have to give it up – and God will give you a new heart so that you will have the ability to do it." Often I feel that those who support the LS position are actually supporting "Deeply Charactered Individual" salvation. The only people who can be saved are people with the internal character to overcome their sin enough for Christ to save them. The base & sinful need not apply. I'm not suggesting that this is your position.

Again, Thanks

KJB1611 said...

Dear Jim,

I'm glad you think there is an aspect of surrender in salvation. According to many FF/FG'ers, by so affirming you would be teaching salvation by works--which, of course, you aren't.

I can't think of any Lordship salvation Baptist confession (and all the classic ones are), or any significant LS proponent, who says that one needs good character as a lost person and that the sinful need not apply. There is a lot of mischaracterization of LS by the FF/FG people. Then again, since their position misrepresents Scripture, it is not especially surprising if it misrepresents men also. That is not to say that no LS proponent has ever made an overboard statement, of course.

I agree that we shouldn't just see who makes an argument that sounds good, but if the points I made above are solid exegesis of Scripture, then we are bound to believe them on the authority of the Author of the Book.