by Shawn Lazar
Free or Not?
One day, a young mother was looking to join a gym. She heard about a wealthy benefactor who founded several gyms and endowed them with enough money so they could be free and open to all. However, when she visited the gyms and asked about joining she found they had changed their policies.
The first gym now charged $50/month, but if you didn’t have enough money you could do other things to pay the debt off.
The second gym was free to join, but $75/month to keep your membership.
The third gym claimed to be free, but said that paying $100/month was an inseparable aspect of being member.
The fourth gym also claimed to be free, but said if you were really a member, you’d pay anywhere between $50-150/month to prove it.
The fifth gym was still completely free and open to all.
So the young mother joined the fifth gym and used the money she saved to help her neighbors.
Adding Works to Salvation
In the parable, the founder of the gyms intended them to be free. He gave enough money to fully support them in perpetuity. However, over time, the gyms began charging for membership, violating the founder’s express wishes.
Likewise, Jesus offers us everlasting life for free, through faith in Him (e.g., Eph 2:8-9), apart from works. His death on the cross fully paid for our salvation. No works from us are necessary to be saved. Nevertheless, over time, churches have added works as a condition of salvation.
Some churches openly teach salvation by works, but are very accommodating about how many you need to do.
Some churches say we are initially saved by grace apart from works, but we need works to stay saved.
Some churches claim to believe in salvation by faith apart from works, but say doing works is part of what it means to believe.
Still others churches claim to believe in salvation by faith apart from works, say you can’t know if you’re really saved unless you work.
Finally, there are Free Grace churches. When I use the term “Free Grace,” I am not referring to a denomination. I am referring to a school of theology in contrast with other schools of theology, such as Calvinism, Arminianism, Thomism, Wesleyanism, Augustinianism, and so on. People from many different denominations and churches are Free Grace in their beliefs. So far as I know, Free Grace folk are the only ones who teach that salvation really is free, and really is by faith apart from works. You don’t need works to earn, keep, prove, or be assured of salvation. It’s all by faith in Jesus. It’s all thanks to His work, not ours.
Our good works are wonderful for helping our neighbors, but they are not a condition of having everlasting life.
Keep the Gospel free.