Free Grace Theology vs. The Bible

Translations: Chinese GB Big5

 "We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raise up against the knowledge of God and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." 2Corinthians 10:5

Many times the Bible warns Christians to not be deceived, indicating that it is possible for you as a Christian to be deceived. Let me give you examples of the kinds of things Christians may be deceived about:

1Cor 6:9,10 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 6:7  Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

Ephesians 5:5,6 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person— such a man is an idolater— has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.

1John 3:7,8 Little children, let no one lead you astray. He who does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.  He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.

Gal 5:19-21 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

These are all warnings against what has classically been labeled "Antinomian Theology", which today has evolved into what is called "Free Grace Theology".

Free Grace Theology is the idea:

If these are the things you have been led to believed, then you have been deceived.

Anti-Christ Salvation

There are those who go even further than the basic tenets of Free Grace Theology in it's idea of viewing the acceptance of Christ as Lord as being optional. They would deny the Lordship of Christ altogether. Such people would claim that "believing in Jesus as Lord" with the intention of doing what He says, is a salvation by works idea, and that such people are not saved. They would claim that to be saved you cannot intend to do what Jesus said.

A false gospel I contend against is that which denies Jesus Christ as Lord.

"Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ." Jude 1:3,4
The lexicon indicates the Greek word for lewdness (aselgeia) to be "the acknowledging of no restraints, the insolent doing of whatever one’s caprice may suggest." Thus there are many "Christians" who acknowledge no restraint, who do whatever their caprice may suggest. They call Jesus Lord, but don't treat him as Lord. Luke 6:46  "Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?" The Bible characterizes such as a faith that doesn't save.  Mt 7:21  "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Those who say "Jesus is Lord", but don't intend to do what he says, the Bible indicates that such people are not saved. They are not in the faith. They are in some other faith.


Accepting Christ as Lord

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 7:21
There are those who interpret the verse "that if you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" Rom 10:9 to simply mean that one can mouth the words "Jesus is Lord", or agree with the idea, but have no intention of treating Him as Lord by doing what He says. Such people will not be prepared for judgment day because that interpretation is not the gospel of Christ. That kind of "faith" is not a faith acceptable to God for salvation.

Jesus said, "Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things which I say?" Luke 6:46 And as he indicates above, such people will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. But notice also that he follows this verse in Luke 6 with the parable of the wise man's foundation. It is not that he who hears but doesn't do only loses some rewards, as Free Grace Theology may advocate. But rather such a person will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven at all.

The gift of eternal life is free, but not unconditional. It's free like entering the US Marine corps is free.

Inviting Christ into Your Life

There is a common misconception concerning Revelation 3:20 "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me."

Inviting Christ over for dinner is not the same as believing in Christ as Lord and Savior. You may have invited Christ into your life based on this verse. That doesn't mean that you are saved. To invite Christ over to be a guest in your house is not the same as accepting Him as the Lord of your house. Inviting Him into your life allows you to get to know Him better so that at some point in the future you might be able to believe in Him. For how can you believe in someone you don't know? As a guest in your house you will allow Christ into certain rooms, but not into others. But if you accept Him as the LORD, then not only will He be allowed in all the rooms, but He will tell you what rooms you are allowed to enter and when you are allowed to enter them. You have turned the house over to Him and He will command you how to behave in His house.

Many have been misled. They may have felt uncertain of their salvation (and perhaps justifiably so), but have been instructed to put their faith not in Christ but rather in their act of inviting Christ into their life. Their assurance of salvation is based upon their prayer of asking Christ into their life. That is not what the Bible teaches concerning the assurance of salvation, nor is it what Revelation 3:20 is talking about. That is not the gospel.


Application Oriented Faith

Just before Jesus says in Matt 7:20, "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.", which I quoted above, Jesus also said, "by their fruits you will know them." What are the outworkings of your faith whereby you identify yourself as a true believer?


Repentance

Free Grace Theology advocates that "repentance" is simply a change of one's mind, not necessarily having any correlation to one's behavior or actions. But what the does the Bible teach about repentance? Consider for example how Paul spoke of repentance with regards to his preaching of the gospel.
Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to them of Damascus, at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance.Acts 26:19,20
There are works associated with repentance. John the Baptist for example enumerated some of these.
Luke 3:8-14
Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and don’t begin to say among yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father;’ for I tell you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones!  Even now the axe also lies at the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that doesn’t bring forth good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire."
The multitudes asked him, "What then must we do?"
He answered them, "He who has two coats, let him give to him who has none. He who has food, let him do likewise."
Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, "Teacher, what must we do?"
He said to them, "Collect no more than that which is appointed to you."
Soldiers also asked him, saying, "What about us? What must we do?"
He said to them, "Extort from no one by violence, neither accuse anyone wrongfully. Be content with your wages."
But some nominal Christians of a Free Grace Theology may respond like the Pharisees claiming that they are children of God and so don't need to do any such things. But in fact those who are truly children of God will naturally do such things. Free Grace Theology discourages actions of repentance. This in contrast with Jesus' encounter with Zacchaeus of Luke 19
Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor. If I have wrongfully exacted anything of anyone, I restore four times as much. Jesus said to him, "Today, salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham."
Jesus encourages such actions, while those of a Free Grace Theology would view this as legalism - salvation by works. And while Jesus forgave the adulterous woman of John 8, he then told her to go and sin no more.

If you are sinning, then repent! Stop sinning. Change your behavior. Believe in Christ with a repentant application oriented faith, and you will be saved from the wrath of God.

Forgiveness

Related to this is the issue for forgiveness. It goes against God's judicial nature to forgive apart from repentance, which is a common theme in the Bible. Thus it says, "Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon." Is 55:6,7

And as Christians are to behave as children of God, we are instructed to apply this same principle in our relationships. Thus Jesus said, "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him." Luke 17:3 But in Free Grace theology just as they see repentance as optional or trite, likewise they would say that one should forgive others UNCONDITIONALLY, contrary to what the Bible teaches. For more see http://www.bcbsr.com/topics/forgive.html


The Correlation between 
Behavior and Salvation Status

The Bible teaches that, "Whoever is born of God doesn’t commit sin, because his seed remains in him; and he can’t sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are revealed, and the children of the devil. Whoever doesn’t do righteousness is not of God, neither is he who doesn’t love his brother." 1John 3:9,10 Thus there is an inevitable correlation between one's behavior and one's salvation status. Once saved, a person will inevitably reveal the characteristics of having been born of God. Besides practicing righteousness and loving other Christians, another characteristic of those who have come to share in Christ is that they will confidently endure to the end. "We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first." Heb 3:14 And thus it is not possible for such a person to fall away, which is also part of the covenant promise, "I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me." Jer 32:40

But if we interpret these to mean that those born of God have lost any ability to commit any acts of sin, then there would be no need for the warnings and exhortations written even to those who are confidently spoken of as the redeemed, which we find throughout the New Testament, and thus it is assumed that such behavior is not going to be perfect. But nonetheless those born of God will naturally acknowledge their sins and repent (1John 1:9).

All this is in contrast to Free Grace Theology which advocates the idea that there is not necessarily any correlation between one's behavior and one's salvation status. But the Bible teaches, "Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 1Cor 6:9,10 "Christians" who can be characterized as such will not be delivered from God's wrath.

The following is a brief analysis on this point responding also to alternate interpretations of Free Grace Theology concerning such verses

In Ephesians 5:5,6; 1Corinthians 6:9,10; 1John 3:6-10 Christians are commanded not to be led astay by the propositions of what is today referred to as "Free Grace Theology". Yet today not only are Christians led astray, but they are leading others astray on these matters.
Ephesians 5:6,7 "For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person— such a man is an idolater— has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient."

Galatians 5:19-21  The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

1Cor 6:9,10 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

1John 3:6 -10 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

Free Grace Theology deals with some of these verses by attempting to define "inherit the kingdom" as not referring to receiving eternal life or entering the kingdom but rather they apply it only to an elite group among those born of God while others born of God do not inherit the kingdom and yet do not go to hell. (Actually some versions of Free Grace Theology such as that of Witness Lee incorporates a purgatorial scenario much like the catholics for these hypothetical non-overcoming "saved" believers. Though by interpreting passages more inconsistently other protestant purgatory scenarios are a bit more tame ) Here's a verse that disproves their proposition:

Rev 21:7,8 "He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars— their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."

Contrasts:
1. Having their portion in the kingdom versus having their portion in hell
2. Overcoming versus living a lifestyle of sin

"Inherit" means to obtain one's allotted portion. It is not associated with the concept of "reward" any more than a son's inheritance which he receives upon the death of his father is to be view as a reward. This is contrary to the propositions of Free Grace Theology. Proof:

"Inheriting" is synonymous to "Entering" or "Receiving"

Greek Lexicon on "inherit"

2816kleronomeo
AV-inherit 15, be heir 2, obtain by inheritance 1; 18
1) to receive a lot, receive by lot
1a) esp. to receive a part of an inheritance, receive as an inheritance, obtain by right of inheritance
1b) to be an heir, to inherit
2) to receive the portion assigned to one, receive an allotted portion, receive as one’s own or as a possession
3) to become partaker of, to obtain
Evidence from it's usage and from what is used in its place:
Rev 21:7,8 contrasts inheriting the kingdom versus going to hell and correlates it to one's behavior
Matthew 7:20-23 contrasts entering the kingdom versus going to hell and correlates it to one's behavior

Luke 18:18,24,25 Man asks concerning inheriting eternal life. Jesus answers concerning entering the kingdom.
In the parallel passage in Matthew 19 uses the word "may have or get" eternal life in place of Luke's "inherit". (Matt 19:16) Further in the passage the disciples become concerned for their own salvation Jesus speaks of inheriting the kingdom in verse 29. On this last point, the parallel passage in Mark 10:30 it uses "receive eternal life" in place of Matthew's "inherit eternal life"

Notice also again, as in Rev 21:7,8 that the alternative to inheriting the kingdom is going to hell. Notice also here that it's not a matter of degree, but rather there is a distinct separation between "sheep" and "goats" - not various shades of gray.

Matt 25:31-34,46
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  "Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. ... "Then they (the ones on his left - the goats) will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

This is consistent with other such passages as Ephesians 5:6,7; Galatians 5:19-21; 1Cor 6:9,10; Rev 21:7,8 which make a black/white distinction between those who inherit and those who don't, rather than speaking in terms of various shades of gray.

"Overcome" is Universal and Exclusive of those Born of God 
and is Correlated with Behavior

Greek Lexicon on "overcome"
3528 nikao
AV-overcome 24, conquer 2, prevail 1, get the victory 1; 28
1) to conquer
1a) to carry off the victory, come off victorious
1a1) of Christ, victorious  over all His foes
1a2) of Christians, that hold fast their faith even unto death against the power of their foes, and temptations and persecutions
1a3) when one is arraigned or goes to law, to win the case, maintain one’s cause
Indications from the Bible: "overcoming" universal and correlated with behavior
1John 5:3-5 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Rev 21:7,8 (quoted above) Contrasts overcoming with living a lifestyle of sin and correlates them with going to heaven versus going to hell.

The first 3 chapters of Revelation  which record Jesus message to the churches frequently uses the phrase "he who overcomes" and correlates with behavior.

So also the passages mentioned previously, namely Ephesians 5:6,7; 1Corinthians 6:9,10; Galatians 5:19-21 all correlate a person's behavior to their salvation status (having proven that their references to inheriting the kingdom are the same as entering the kingdom as opposed to getting thrown in the lake of fire) and so also 1John 3:6-10 indicates that there is not only a correlation between being born of God and one's behavior but also that correlation is inevitable and can be used as an outward indicator of one's salvation status.

Concerning the Book of 1John

The book of 1John is all about how to identify children of God. But Free Grace Theology rejects this idea because if accepted, then the book of 1John teaches ideas explicitly contrary to Free Grace Theology. Instead they propose that 1John is not about saved/unsaved issues, but rather about the relative degree of fellowship the "saved" experience. Such people also don't believe that 1John is teaching anything about assurance of salvation, since John often references behavior. For my Bible study on 1John see http://www.bcbsr.com/books/1jn.html Here are some evidences that 1John is written not concerning the relative degree of fellowship one has with God, but rather about identifying those born of God:
1. If it's about a relative experience of fellowship among those born of God or between God and his children, then why does it use absolute either/or contrasts rather than using relative terms? Its about light versus darkness and not about shades of gray. There are tons of examples throughout 1John. In fact seldom does he ever speak in relative terms. (1John 1:6,7; 2:19,23,29; 3:7-10,14,15; 4:6-8; 5:4,10,12,18)
2. If it's about a relative experience of fellowship, then why does it link right behavior with everyone born of God rather than link it with only a certain elite group among those born of God. (1John 2:29; 3:9,10; 4:7; 5:1,4,18)

3. If it's about a relative experience of fellowship and not about identifying those born of God and distinguishing them from children of the devil, correlating these also with a person's behavior, then why does he use such terms as "this is how we know" with reference to such verses?

"This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." 1John 3:10

"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him."1John 3:14,15

4. Futhermore if 1John is not about salvation, then why does John say that it is?
"He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." 1John 5:12,13

Notice that he doesn't say that he writes in order that they may have eternal life, but rather so that they may know that they have it (or not). This again indicates that John is writing about issues of assurance of salvation and in particular concerning indications of salvation, explicit statements of which can be found throughout 1John.

Concerning "Eternal Life"

While Free Grace Theology may attempt to interpret "eternal life" in 1John as limited to an elite group of believers rather than to all believers and interpret it as not referring to salvation, but rather to a relative experience of fellowship with God, the Bible teaches that everyone who believes in the Son has eternal life (John 3:16,36; 1John 5;12,13). This is contrary to the idea that the Bible teaches some kind of elitist division among the believers as if some have more eternal life than others. The Bible teaches either you have it or you don't, just as it teaches that either you have the Son or don't. So also it teaches, "if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ."Romans 8:9 Furthermore having this eternal life is not a matter of effort just as it is not a matter of degree. "the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom 6:23 The Bible also teaches that the alternative to having eternal life is not simply have less rewards in heaven, but rather the alternative is perishing. (John 10:28; 5;24)
5. Why is it even when he refers to "fellowship" (which is only mentioned in chapter1), that he speaks not in relative terms but absolute, relating it also to eternal life?
1 John 1:1-3  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched— this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

What he "saw and heard" was the gospel of Jesus Christ concerning eternal life. But eternal life is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ as John also quoted Jesus, "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." John 17:3 And as noted above those who don't have this eternal life are not simply cast out into some kind of Protestant Purgatory. No, rather they perish altogether under God's condemnation.

1 John 1:6  If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.

Fellowship with God is eternal life. You either have it or you don't. Those who claim to have this eternal life but live a lifestyle contrary to that fact are lying. Lying about what? Lying about having eternal life. In other words they don't have eternal life.

1 John 1:7  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

This verse correlates perfectly with the above ideas. For if one does not walk in the light, then what is implied is that such a person's sins are not purified by the blood of Jesus, else the last part of the verse would be moot. Furthermore the universal fellowship between true believers is taught in 1John 5:1-4, and 1John 3:14,15 indicates that hatred of Christians is indicative that such a person does not have eternal life in him, again speaking in absolute terms and again correlating it with eternal life.

Free Grace Theology may propose that a verse like 1John 1:7 is not dealing with eternal salvation, but rather to sanctification. Thus they propose many of those born of God die with sin which has not been purified by the blood of Jesus. This has led many such theologians to various Protestant Purgatory scenarios to deal with such unpurified sin. One such Free Grace Theologian is Watchman Nee who writes:

"If a person has become a Christian but his hands or feet sin all the time, he will suffer the punishment of the eternal fire in the kingdom of the heavens. He will not suffer this punishment eternally, but will suffer it only in the age of the kingdom" Watchman Nee
All these facts go to show that 1John is relevant to these issues and indeed teaches contrary to Free Grace Theology. Nor is there any substantive basis upon which Free Grace Theologians discard 1John.
"We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood." 1John 4:6
See also A comparision of interpretations of 1John 3:9

Concerning 2Timothy 2:11-13

Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him.
If we disown him, he will also disown us;
if we are faithless, he will remain faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.

Lin San noticed this one. Free Grace Theologians will often quote 2Tim 2:13 "if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself." to support their theology. The idea they propose is that a "Christian" can even go so far as to reject and disown Christ altogether and become an unbeliever and yet not have to worry about losing any kind of salvation status because God is faithful to continue to keep such a person saved.

But in fact God never said that he would save the faithless. As he promises in Ephesians 5:5  "For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person- such a man is an idolater- has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." That's something you can be sure of. That is what God will faithfully carry out. Those who disown Him, He will faithfully disown. Free Grace presumes that God has made promises concerning the faithless which He never actually made. And if you want more analysis, the word "faithless" is apisteo in greek, often translated to "not believe" as in Mark 16:16 "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." There again is a promise God will remain faithful to.


Assurance of Salvation

The gospel of Free Grace Theology is to put your faith in your own salvation status. That is that you have to believe that you are saved and are not allowed to question that fact. And nor should you question the salvation status of other "Christians". But what does the Bible teach?
"Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you— unless, of course, you fail the test?" 2Cor 13:5
First of all the Bible does not teach absolute assurance of salvation. It teaches that one's assurance of salvation is relative to the degree to which one behaves as a child of God. (See Measuring Your Salvation Status) Nor is the feeling of assurance of salvation equated with the concept of eternal security. Even though once saved always saved, how can you be sure that you are one of those people?

Secondly faith in Christ is not the same as faith in one's salvation status. One leads to the other only if they can be certain that they have the quality of faith acceptable to God for salvation. But since Free Grace Theology reckons such faith to be a trivial thing, therefore under that theology the two are equated. But the Bible does not trivialize saving faith.

How does the Bible answer the question as to how you know whether you are saved?

1 John 2:3  We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.

1 John 2:5,6 This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

1 John 3:10  This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

1 John 5:18  We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.

1 John 3:14  We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.


Entering vs. Inheriting the Kingdom

My impresssion is that Free Grace theologians found it necessay to introduce this point in order get around some verses which seriously contradict their theology, though they fail in the attempt. And in addition they fail to deal in a convincing manner with many other verses such as I had pointed out above. Furthermore concerning this particular fudge Free Grace theology has led to a curious eschatology which apparently eliminates much of the Christian community from reigning with Christ, and in some cases it has even led to a Purgatorial concept. (See The Protestant Purgatory)

The proposition they make is that "Enter the kingdom" is salvation, whereas "Inheriting the kingdom" refers to reigning with Christ. Let's see what the Bible says. First of all we notice that the Bible uses many terms synonymously. For example, from the context of the synoptic accounts of the incident with the rich young ruler we notice that all of the following terms are used synonymously:
 

  • "get eternal life"
  • "enter life"
  • "inherit eternal life"
  • "enter the kingdom of God"
  • "be saved"
  • The Synoptic Accounts of the Rich Young Ruler

    Mt 19:16,17 Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."

    Mark 10:17  As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

    Mt 19:23,24  Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?"

    Mark 10:23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!"

    Luke 18:25,26 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Those who heard this asked, "Who then can be saved?"

    Notice that among these synonymous terms is the term "inherit eternal life".
    "inherit eternal life" = "enter the kingdom of God" But Free Gracers propose these are not synonymous with the term "inherit the kingdom of God"! They hold that a person can enter the kingdom with out inheriting the kingdom, they inherit eternal life but not the kingdom.

    The following are places where the term "inherit the kingdom of God" is used:

    Inheriting the Kingdom

    1Co 6:9,10  Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

    Ga 5:19-21 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    Eph 5:5  For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person— such a man is an idolater— has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

    Jas 2:5  Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?

    As Free Grace theology proposes that there is not necessarily any correlation between a person's behavior and his salvation status, some of these verses are highly objectionable to them if they are taken as speaking of salvation. The Free Gracers I've read on the subject limit the kingdom of God to the 1000 year millenial reign and then say that Christians whose lives are characterized as noted above are not allowed in the kingdom for that 1000 year period. Some relegate them to a purgatorial scenario during that time. Others say they enter put don't reign.

    Their proposition that "inherit the kingdom" is limited to meaning "reigns with Christ" and excludes the concepts of "entering the kingdom" or "inheriting eternal life". Where do they get that idea from? Certainly not based upon the verses in which the term "inherit the kingdom" is used. They are simply reading their theological presumptions into these verses. There is nothing inherent in terms themselves which make them any less synonymous. Given that the Bible authors use many such terms synonymously, why is it that Paul, for example concerning these verses above, did not clarify that he was speaking not about salvation but merely about reigned with Christ during the 1000 year millienial kingdom or such? For such significant statements to not contain any further explanation one is led to believe that it was obvious to the Christians at the time what Paul was referring to. From my extensive study of the Bible, the same Bible the early Christians based their eternal destiny on, the same Bible that contains the same essential truths as they had, the obvious interpretation to me is that these verses are referring to salvation - "entering the kindom", "inheriting eternal life".  But what is obvious to me may not be obvious to those who read the Bible from a complete different theological perspective. So let's continue looking for evidence.

    I will now show that the teaching which correlates behavior with one's destiny, is significantly similar between the verses above where "inherit the kingdom" is used and where those other terms are used. At issue is whether the destiny is significantly different in the two cases.

    Correlation of Behavior and Destiny

    Luke 13:23-28
    Someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" He said to them,  "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ "But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’  "Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’  "But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’  "There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.
    Here the question is about salvation. It furthermore uses the term "enter", implying "entering the kingdom." So far this is consistent with what we've seen above concerning the equivalence of these terms. Therefore you would think that Free Gracers would interpret this to be referring to salvation and not to "inheriting the kingdom," "reigning with Christ", or their millenial eschatology. But you would be wrong. But if their interpretation is that this is speaking of "inheriting the kingdom" and "reigning with Christ", their interpretation should lead to to equate these terms with "entering the kingdom" and "being saved". But if these are equal then the discussion is over, they have lost the argument. Their theological presumption that such terms are not synonymous is disproven. But just to continue beating the dead horse let's consider more verses.
    Matt 7:21-23
    "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
    Remember that Free Gacers propose "enter the kingdom" is referring to salvation. And certainly I agree with that. But what does it imply in this context? It implies that there is a correlation between a person's behavior and their salvation status contrary to Free Grace theology. And shall we go on beating the dead horse?
    Mt 21:31  "Which of the two did what his father wanted?" "The first," they answered. Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you."
    Here again we notice the correlation between behavior and salvation ("entering the kingdom")

    These examples of the correlation between behavior and salvation status are consistent with the interpretation that the verses above speak of "inheriting the kingdom". Thus the "obvious" interpretation of those verses must be that they are referring to salvation as well. So in conclusion the Bible does not support the Free Gracer's proposition on this point either.


    The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jul 29,2015