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Grace Alone?

 

The grace alone doctrine is an attempt to explain God’s working in the hearts of the elect.  It influences many people and hence needs to be critically examined, as do all belief systems, to test it’s consistency with the Scriptures

I do not presume to know everything about this doctrine and I can only address those aspects I have encountered.  Theologians call the doctrine “monergism”.  Basically meaning that God alone works unto the salvation of man.  This is the doctrine espoused by John Calvin who was greatly influenced by Augustine of Hippo.  Augustine, although a great man, has a dark side.  A nine-year association with Manichean Gnosticism is bound to produce some influence.

Is salvation by grace alone?

Salvation is by the grace of God but salvation is not by grace alone.  Salvation is by grace through faith.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God.   Ephesians 2: 8

This verse alone should settle the issue, but there is more, much more.  God has emphasized this point over and over again.

But the righteous will live by his faith.   Habakkuk 2: 4

But the righteous man shall live by faith.  Romans 1: 17

 

The righteous man shall live by faith.  Galatians 3: 11

But My righteous one shall live by faith,  Hebrews 10: 38

God, in all His sovereignty and grace has decided to save those that believe.

1 Corinthians 1: 21 

 

What is the source of the doctrine of “grace only”?

The source is a completely deterministic view of the sovereignty of God combined with the doctrine of original sin.   These suppositions color their over all interpretation of the Scriptures.  Please read the articles on the Sovereignty of God and Original Sin.

 

Has God in His sovereignty predetermined all the events in life?

Adherents of this view reason that since God is sovereign, He is all-powerful; therefore those that are lost are lost because God wills it to be so.  This is a terribly wrong conclusion, which maligns the character and nature of God.  God

Has plainly revealed to us in His word that He has no pleasure in the death of anyone and wills all men to be saved.  Ezekiel 18: 32; 33: 11; 2 Peter 3: 9

Certainly God is sovereign!  In His sovereignty and according to His 

Righteousness, God has chosen a different path.  He has set a choice before man.  But if man does not actively choose, he chooses by default. This is revealed in His word.  It is not a matter of deduction.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.  So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.   Deuteronomy 30: 19

Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it, for the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.  Mathew 7: 13, 14

 

Is His Sovereignty threatened by so doing?

Certainly not, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He appointed, having furnished proof to all by raising Him from the dead.  Regardless of man choices, God is still in control.  God never relinquishes ultimate sovereignty.  Acts 17: 31 

 

Is man totally incapacitated by original sin? 

We certainly acknowledge that Adam sinned and that as a result death and sin entered the world.  But that which was lost in Adam will be restored in Christ.  All will be made alive, and much more.  God does not hold us spiritually accountable for the sins of another.  We die spiritually as a result of out own sins. 

James 2: 13-15

This is a fiction perpetrated by those who wish to promote an idea. the material things are inherently evil.  This is Gnosticism pure and simple.  The primary meaning of being spiritually “dead” in sin is not inability to act but separation from God.

Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be open to you.  For everyone who asks receives; and he who seek finds; and to him who knock it shall be opened.  Matthew 7: 7, 8

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  Philippians 2: 12, 13

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with me. 

Revelation 3: 20

 

What are the foundations of this doctrine?

The acronym TULIP has been widely applied.

 

What is total depravity or inability to act for the good?

This doctrine states that as a result of Adam’s original sin man is total sinful and unable to do the good until regenerated by the Holy Spirit of God.  I reject this doctrine because:

 

Is the election unconditional?

            Ephesians 1: 4

 

Is the atonement limited to the elect?

           John 3: 16

           John 16: 8-11

 

Does God act irresistibly in the lives of man?

This views supposes that God gives the Holy Spirit to the elect before they have been reconciled to God.

 

What is perseverance?

Perseverance is continuing in a state of grace until it is succeeded by the state of glory.  It is often claimed that no one who is a Christian can sin so as to be lost.  This claim completely misses the point.  Man enters the state of grace through faith and he falls from that state when he stops believing and substitutes another path, keeping law.  Man does not fall from grace because of sin but because of unbelief.

 

Conclusion:

Please, please examine the  “grace only” doctrine.  The presuppositions on which it rest are either consistent with the revelation of God or they are completely untenable.   The five pillars are either pillars of the truth or sinkholes of deception.  There is no middle ground.   But the most offensive aspect to me is that God is portrayed as some uncaring being who delights (His good pleasure) in and wills the damnation of the lost.

If you are caught up in this doctrine please take the time to critically examine the entire scheme.  Read the following verses for starters.

That by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.  Hebrew 2: 9

For the Lord is not slow about His promises, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.  2 Peter 3: 9

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.  Titus 2: 11

Who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.  1 Timothy 4: 10

Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 

1 Timothy 2: 4

Who gave Himself as a ransom for all.  1 Timothy 2: 6

 

Salvation is by the grace of God.

Salvation is not by grace alone.

Salvation is by the grace of God through faith.

 

Arland Pafford

 

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Last Update   09/26/12