I recently got a text from a friend of mine. He reminded me of a conversation we had recently where we both pointed out that those outside of the Free Grace movement often lay the charge that the Free Grace view of eternal life cannot be true. We hold that eternal life is a free gift that we know we have at the moment of faith. In addition we hold that this life cannot be lost.
The reason this cannot be true in the minds of many within Christendom is that it is too new. Something that new cannot be true since, it is maintained, the early church did not hold to it. In addition, none of the great Bible teachers in church history held these views.
When I read the text, I was reminded immediately of a verse in Ecclesiastes. Solomon is reflecting on his life and he makes the comment that :
That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.
Of course, Solomon is not saying that the Lord never does anything new. Nor should we conclude from this that the New Testament does not have new teaching from the Lord and His Apostles. Solomon is limiting his comments in the book of Ecclesiastes to life in the world in which he lived. He is talking about his earthly experiences.
He makes the statement that there is nothing new under the sun. When it comes to Free Grace theology and we look at the history of the church we could come to the same conclusion as Solomon. Free Grace theology is not something new under the sun.
When we read the account of the woman at the well, the account of Nicodemus in John 3, or the account of Martha at the tomb of Lazarus, we see that a Free Grace understanding of the offer of eternal life in Christ was certainly present in the earthly ministry of the Lord.
Who can deny that millions of people in church history have read those accounts, as well as verses like Ephesians 2:8-9 and Acts 16:31 and came away with the same understanding? We have all met people who have never been exposed to Free Grace teachers or books who believe the same thing. The belief that God’s grace gives eternal life as a free gift, apart from works of any kind, and that a person can know they have eternal life based on His promise has been around since the teaching of the Lord.
In addition, there have been Free Grace teachers since the beginning as well. We can point to the teaching of the Lord, Paul, and John (in fact all the writers of the New Testament!). Even though the grace of God’s offer of eternal life was often obscured in church history, and many teachers of God’s word distorted it, there were those who believed it. From the beginning of the Reformation, we have the written record of those who did.
Of course, the same thing is true for Lordship salvation. It’s teachings have been around since the beginning as well. The “Judaizers” of the early church opposed the free offer of life apart from the Law. The Catholic Church denied the same truth. Millions of people in Christendom have believed that they needed works to “go to heaven.” Millions of people in Christendom have believed and continue to believe that we cannot know we have eternal life or that we can lose it. Millions of people have rejected God’s marvelous grace.
Whether a person is a Free Grace proponent or opponent, one thing is true. There is nothing new under the sun.