Responding to Those Who Misunderstand the Message
of God’s Free Grace
by Brian Stone1
Have you ever been approached by someone who accused you of believing something you didn’t and not been able to explain why their accusation was wrong? In explaining the free grace of God, I have been in this situation many times. Below are five of the most common objections I have faced along with the combination of Free Grace understanding and short answer responses that have worked for me:
1. Good Works are the result of “saving faith.” Free Grace does not believe that you can tell who’s born again by inspecting their works. Works are not measurable in a way that can determine (or qualify) someone’s faith as saving. No quantity of or consistency in good works is ever guaranteed in the Bible; and eternal life is never conditioned upon perseverance in good works. The NT warnings to believers, that they could fall into sin along with the commands to avoid letting sin control and dominate them, show that failure on the part of the Christian is possible (Rom 6:12-13; Eph 4:17-31; Col 3:9). This is not an excuse or a license; it is simply a real warning.
2. Your way of salvation is simply “easy believism.” The free grace we are saved by is not easy to believe. It is hard to believe that we are justified freely by God’s grace apart from any works or effort of our own (Rom 4:4-5; Eph 2:8-9). In fact, it is so hard to believe, most people don’t. Justification salvation is free to the believer; there is no cost to him—Christ has paid the price in full. The problem is that, due to the economic system ingrained in our minds, it is not easy to believe that we receive something as great and valuable as eternal life totally free.
3. Your way of salvation does not count the costs of what it means to be a Christian and is misleading because it leaves out the necessity of discipleship, obedience, and sanctification. Counting the cost of what it means to be a Christian is not in view when we are referring to justification; this is a question of discipleship. Justification is free (Rom 4:4-5) discipleship is costly (Matt 16:24). Dr. Bing notes, “The condition for our justification is faith alone in Christ alone, but there are many conditions for [discipleship and] sanctification. It we confuse the two, then we might wrongly conclude that the conditions for sanctification (such as: obedience, commitment, submission, good works) are conditions for justification. But since we know that justification is by grace through faith, the Bible’s commands for obedience, commitment, submission, and good works are conditions only for our sanctification.”2
4. Your way of salvation is “cheap grace.” Free Grace emphatically disagrees with this and teaches just the opposite. Receiving justification freely is what makes grace so beautiful. In fact, it is when we bring our works and add our filthy rags to what Christ has done that we cheapen the grace God offers to us in Christ. Grace is freely offered to all, but it cost the One who paid sin’s debt His life. Dr. Ryrie laments, “…to use the word cheap in the same breath with the grace of God in salvation seems almost blasphemous. It cost our Lord Jesus His life. Some may insult grace, reject it, trample on it, or disgrace it, but that does not lower its infinite value.”3
5. “Saving faith” includes a radical love commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ. This is simply a misunderstanding of what saving faith is. Faith means to be persuaded or convinced something is true. When the Bible uses the word believe to explain how a person can receive eternal life, it means to be persuaded or convinced that Jesus’ promise of eternal life is true (John 11:25-27).
We must remember to explain to people that faith is not commitment. What makes faith saving is the object in which it is placed. The object must be the person of Jesus Christ. Placing your faith in Jesus Christ for eternal life is what qualifies faith as saving, resulting in justification, the declaration of righteousness, and the deliverance from the penalty of sin. Conversely, adding radical love commitment to faith in Christ results in faith not being saving (Rom 4:4-5).
Hopefully these short responses can help you in your evangelistic efforts to nonbelievers; however, as you probably have already experienced, these will also prove helpful when evangelizing Christians as you bring clarity to those who misunderstand the message of God’s free grace.
1Brian Stone serves as College Pastor at Countryside Church in Stillwater, OK.
2Charlie Bing, Living in the Family of Grace (Burleson, TX: GraceLife Ministries, 2003), 40.
3Charles Ryrie, So Great Salvation (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1989), 17, italics added.