Charles Stanley’s Handbook for Christian Living is more or less a systematic theology for laypeople. I would not call it Free Grace. And I do not know if it reflects Stanley’s current views. But it is certainly Free Grace friendly.
For example, Stanley is remarkably clear that Biblical faith has an object, namely, the promises of God. Reflecting on Hebrews 11, he writes:
“The two key words here are sure and certain. Faith is about being sure and certain of something. This raises the question at the heart of the confusion often surrounding the topic of faith: Sure and certain about what?
“…a promise. The men and women [of Heb 11] were so certain and sure because each had received a promise from God. They were confident that God would do exactly what He promised. And that is the essence of faith.
“The term promise, or some derivative, appears eighteen times in Hebrews. It appears seven times in this one chapter alone. What is the significance of that? Faith and the promises of God go hand in hand.
“Where there is no promise, there can be no faith—only hope…
“…Faith, then, is confidence in the promises of God or, as stated earlier, confidence that God will do what He has promised” (Handbook, p. 176-77).
Stanley was also clear that salvation requires a single act of faith, not an enduring faith:
“Salvation stands independently of faith. Consequently, God does not require a constant attitude of faith in order to be saved—only an act of faith in Christ.
“You and I are not saved because we have an enduring faith. We are saved because at a moment in time we expressed faith in our Lord…
“…Again, saving faith is not necessarily a sustained attitude of gratefulness for God’s gift. It is a singular moment in time when we take what God has offered. Eternal life is received by grace through faith. It is a once-and-for-all transaction that can never be undone” (Handbook, p. 174).
Stanley was also very clear on eternal security. He wrote a whole book on the subject.
“God assures believers of eternal life. This assurance is based on belief in Christ” (Handbook, p. 171).
Stanley even links rejecting eternal security with rejecting salvation is by faith alone.
“If we reject eternal security, several things are at stake. First of all, our assurance. If our salvation hinges on anything but the finished work of Christ on the cross, it will be difficult to live with much assurance. Hope, yes; assurance, no…
“A third area of doctrine that is affected by the notion of losing one’s salvation is that of salvation by faith alone. Once good works are introduced into the salvation process, salvation is no longer by faith alone; it is by faith and works. To imply that salvation is maintained by good works (or not sinning) is to take the daily burden of our salvation upon ourselves. In that case, there will be room for boasting in heaven. Our salvation is based on faith alone and not a combination of faith and works. Because of the permanency of our salvation, we are assured of eternity security” (Handbook, pp. 172-73).
In other words, we find all the essentials of the Free Grace position on salvation:
- The essence of saving faith is to be sure and certain of Jesus’ promise to give you everlasting life that cannot be lost.
Stanley does not summarize his view that way, but it isn’t difficult to put the pieces together.