By Bob Wilkin*
In the great tradition of dramatic disclaimers, such as the Apostle Paul’s in Romans 6:1-14, Shakespeare’s in King Lear, and Sir Winston Churchill’s in his famous Harrow School address, GES says “Never!” A Biblical view of God’s grace never promotes sin.
People who hold to Lordship Salvation or works salvation are rarely charged with promoting sin because they don’t teach that salvation is a free gift that costs the recipient nothing. Rather, they say that one must buy salvation by paying a heavy price—“all that I am or ever hope to be.”
We who hold to a Free Grace view of salvation are often charged with promoting sin since we teach that salvation is a free gift which costs the recipient nothing, and that one can be absolutely sure of his eternal salvation at the moment he puts his trust in Christ.
The Oxford American Dictionary defines the word promote as to publicize a product in order to sell it or to help the progress of (p. 535).
We certainly do not publicize so as to sell sin. Nor do we help its progress. Rather, we preach against it.
We warn believers that sin pays terrible wages in this life and in the life to come.
We teach that God disciplines His children, and that the severity of the discipline increases with the degree of sinful behavior. The more a believer sins, the more he invites and receives painful chastising from the heavenly Father (1 Cor 11:30; Heb 12:3-11; Jas 5:19-20).
We point out that believers who indulge in a life of sin forfeit the contentment, joy, and peace that marks the lives of obedient believers (Gal 5:22-23).
We preach and teach the Judgment Seat of Christ. Faithful believers will have much treasure and a special abundance of joy eternally (Matt 6:19-21; Gal 6:7-9). They will rule with Christ (Luke 19:11-19; 2 Tim 2:12). However, by contrast, unfaithful believers will not have much treasure or abundance of joy, and they will not rule with Christ (Matt 6:1-21; Luke 19:20-26; Gal 6:7-9; 2 Tim 2:12; 1 John 2:28). To squander the potential abundance of one’s eternal life by living an unfaithful life now means that one will forever be limited to enjoying the minimum amount of joy possible.
The Apostle Paul wrote a number of letters to a church he founded that contained many carnal believers. These believers were living like the unsaved people around them (1 Cor 3:3). But when Paul wrote them, he did not question their salvation (1 Cor 1:2; 3:1-3). Rather, he affirmed their salvation but told them that those who indulge in sin will forfeit joy, peace, and contentment now and will forfeit rewards in the kingdom (1 Cor 3:10-15; 6:9-11; 9:24-27; 11:30). If even the Apostle Paul couldn’t ensure that all of his converts would live holy lives, neither can anyone today.
We, like Paul and the other authors of Scripture, preach and teach against sin. We promote holiness. We simply do not do so in the way Lordship Salvation or works salvation teachers do—by altering the gospel and eliminating assurance.
Bob Wilkin is Executive Director of Grace Evangelical Society. He and Sharon live in Highland Village, TX. He has racewalked ten marathons.
* This article ran in January of 1989 in what was then called The Grace Evangelical Society News, a four-page newsletter. It has been slightly edited.