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The Last Judgment by Hans Memling

Free Grace theology is a soteriological view within Protestantism teaching that everyone receives eternal life the moment they believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. "Lord" refers to the belief that Jesus is the Son of God and therefore able to be their "Savior".[1] The view distinguishes between the "call to believe" in Christ as a Savior and receiving the gift of eternal life, and the "call to follow" Christ and become obedient disciples,[1] meaning that the subsequent behavior of the justified believer is relevant in terms of the Lord's approval and rewards,[2] but sanctification is optional.

In particular, the Gospel of John[3] and most of the writings of Paul of Tarsus[1][4] are seen by proponents as the overt Scriptural basis of Free Grace theology. A distinctive (and much debated) argument is that the Gospel of John is the only book in the New Testament with the stated purpose of providing the needed information for one to be born again. Another assertion is that Jesus Christ stated both explicitly (John 14:1, 14:27, Matthew 11:28) and implicitly (John 6:35, 6:37, Luke 10:41-2) that He "will give rest" to the believer, in contrast to a "troubled heart" and a demand of "labour" before salvation.

Free Grace theology remains one of the most debated subjects within Protestantism. It had ignited three major disputes: the "Majoristic controversy" (16th c.), the "Antinomian controversy" (17th c.)[5] and the "Lordship controversy" (20th c.).


Some of the historical advocates of the Free Grace position are Johannes Agricola, Nicolaus von Amsdorf, Andreas Osiander, John Cotton,[6] Anne Hutchinson,[7] Henry Vane, William Dell, Thomas Boston, Robert Sandeman[8] and Jesse Mercer. Its more recent adherents include L. S. Chafer, Harry Ironside, Lance Latham, J. Dwight Pentecost, John Walvoord, Charles Ryrie, Miles J. Stanford, Warren W. Wiersbe, Zane C. Hodges, Charles Stanley, Tony Evans, Ernest Pickering, Curtis Hutson, Bruce Wilkinson, Erwin Lutzer and William Newell [1].[9] Its prominent present-day expressions are the Grace Evangelical Society, the Free Grace Alliance [2], the Plymouth Brethren, Calvary Chapel, and the Chinese-American local churches movement. Free Grace theology, under this name, originated in the late 20th century as a critical response to a perceived legalist abuse of the New Testament by Calvinism's Lordship salvation, Catholicism, and Arminianism. These teach that perseverance in good works is obligatory as believers can never be completely sure that they are going to Heaven. [1][10]

Free Grace soteriology

Free Grace Theology is distinguished by its soteriology or doctrine of salvation. Its advocates believe that God justifies the sinner on the sole condition of faith in Christ, not subsequent righteous living. Their definition of faith involves belief, trust, a conviction[11] of the truth of the New Testament that may include a deep-rooted mystical conversion resulting in an acceptance of Jesus and the Holy Spirit as one's soulmates.

Faith is a passive persuasion that Jesus is the Messiah, and activization is not mandatory in terms of salvation. In other words, Jesus graciously provides eternal salvation as a free gift to those who believe in Him. [12]

Free Grace teaches that one need not proffer a promise of disciplined behavior and/or good works in exchange for God's eternal salvation, thus one cannot lose their salvation through sinning and potential failure, and that assurance is based on the Bible, not introspection into one's works. This view strongly distinguishes the gift of eternal life (the declaration of justification by faith) from discipleship (sanctification). There is also an emphasis within Free Grace on the judgment seat of Christ, where Christians are rewarded based on good works done in faith.[13]

A faithful reading of the entire book of Acts fails to reveal a single passage where people are pressed to acknowledge Jesus Christ as their personal Lord in order to be saved.
Everett Harrison[14]
This Lordship teaching fails to distinguish salvation from discipleship and makes requirements for discipleship prerequisites for salvation. Our Lord distinguished the two (Luke 14:16-33). This teaching elevates one of the many aspects of the person of Christ (Master over life) in making it a part of the Gospel. Why not require faith in His kingship? Or in the fact that He is Judge of all, or that He was the Creator? Though my view has been dubbed "easy believism," it is not easy to believe, because what we ask the unsaved person to believe in not easy. We ask that he trust a person who lived two thousand years ago, whom he can only know through the Bible, to forgive his sins. We are asking that he stake his eternal destiny on this. Remember the example of Evangelist Jesus. He did not require the Samaritan woman to set her sinful life in order, or even be willing to, so that she could be saved. He did not set out before her what would be expected by way of changes in her life if she believed. He simply said she needed to know who He is and to ask for the gift of eternal life (John 4:10)
Charles RyrieBasic Theology[15]
The water of life is not acquired by the process of fighting a life-long battle and conquering at last. It is a free gift, imparting spiritual life to the spiritually dead.
George H. LangRevelation[16]
Jesus is Lord of all regardless of one's submission to Him. Because He is Lord He has the power and position to save sinners. Sinners who come to Him through faith implicitly or explicitly submit to His authority to save, and may likewise submit to His authority in other areas of life. But since the issue in salvation is salvation, only the recognition of His authority to save is demanded for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
Charles Bing , Lordship Salvation[17]
Jesus doesn’t guarantee everlasting life to those who are 60% “sure” that He guarantees their eternal destiny. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47). He guarantees everlasting life to those who are convinced that He fulfills that promise to everyone who believes in Him. When He asked Martha, “Do you believe this?” He was asking her if she was convinced that the person who lives and believes in Him will never die spiritually. Being convinced is certainty, not some percentage of certainty.
Bob Wilkin51% Faith[18]
Being a Christian means following an invitation. Being a disciple means forsaking all. To confuse these two aspects of the Christian life is to confound the grace of God and the works of man, to ignore the difference between salvation and sanctification. The gospel of grace is Scriptural. The Gospel that adds the works of man to salvation is a counterfeit Gospel.
Manfred E. Kober , Lordship Salvation: Forgotten Truth or a False Doctrine?[19]

Scripture claimed to support Free Grace

Gospel of John

  • John 1:12. "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name;"[20]
  • John 1:17. "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
  • John 3:6. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
  • John 3:16. "...That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."
  • John 3:18. "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."[21][22]
  • John 3:27. "John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven."
  • John 3:33. "He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true."
  • John 3:36. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."[23]
  • John 4:10. "Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water."[24]
  • John 4:14. "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."[25]
  • John 4:36. "And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together."
  • John 5:24. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."[26]
  • John 5:39-40. "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life."[27]
  • John 6:27. "Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed."
  • John 6:29. "Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent."[28]
  • John 6:35. "And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."[27]
  • John 6:37. "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."[29]
  • John 6:40. "And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
  • John 6:47-51. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."[24]
  • John 6:54-58. "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever."[25]
  • John 6:63. "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
  • John 7:38-39. "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)"[30]
  • John 8:24. "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins."[31]
  • John 11:25-26. "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?"[24]
  • John 11:40. "Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?"
  • John 12:46. "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness."[24]
  • John 14:1. "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me."
  • John 14:27. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
  • John 17:3. "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."
  • John 17:20. "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;"
  • John 20:29. "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."[32]
  • John 20:31. "But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."[33]

Gospel of Matthew

  • Matthew 5:19-20. "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."
  • Matthew 9:2. "And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee."
  • Matthew 9:22. "But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour."
  • Matthew 11:6. "And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."
  • Matthew 11:28. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."[34]
  • Matthew 12:7-8. "But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day."
  • Matthew 17:25-26. "He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free."
  • Matthew 20:14-15. "Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?"[35]
  • Matthew 20:28. "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
  • Matthew 21:22. "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."

Gospel of Mark

  • Mark 2:5. "When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee."[36]
  • Mark 2:27-28. "And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath."
  • Mark 5:34. "And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague."
  • Mark 5:36. "As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe."
  • Mark 9:23-24. "Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."
  • Mark 10:45. "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
  • Mark 10:52. "And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way."
  • Mark 11:24. "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."
  • Mark 16:16. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."

Gospel of Luke

  • Luk 7:50. "And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."[37]
  • Luk 8:48. "And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace."
  • Luk 8:50. "But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole."
  • Luk 10:40-42. "But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."
  • Luk 11:13. "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"
  • Luk 17:19: "And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole."
  • Luk 23:42-43. "And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise."[38]


  • Rom 3:20-26. "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."
  • Rom 3:27-28. "Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law."
  • Rom 3:30. "Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith."
  • Rom 4:5-6. "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,"[39]
  • Rom 4:11-16. "And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,"
  • Rom 4:23-25. "Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification."[40]
  • Rom 5:1-2. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."
  • Rom 5:9. "Much more than, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him."[41]
  • Rom 5:19-21. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord."[42]
  • Rom 9:30-32. "What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;"
  • Rom 10:4. "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."
  • Rom 10:9-11. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed."[43]
  • Rom 10:17. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."[44]
  • Rom 11:5-6. "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work."[45]


  • Gal 2:4. "And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:"
  • Gal 2:16. "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."
  • Gal 2:21. "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain."
  • Gal 3:2-3. "This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?"
  • Gal 3:11-14. "But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
  • Gal 3:22-26. "But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus."
  • Gal 4:30-31. "Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free."
  • Gal 5:1. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
  • Gal 5:4-6. "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love."[46]
  • Gal 5:13. "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another."
  • Gal 5:18. "But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law."


  • Eph 1:7. "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;"
  • Eph 2:8-9. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."[47]
  • Eph 2:15. "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;"
  • Eph 3:12. "In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him."


  • Col 2:20-23. "Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh."

Free Grace & Dispensationalism

Free Grace theology is dispensational in its assumptions regarding the philosophy of history and in terms of its networks and affiliations.[48]

Free Grace & Assurance

One of the unique aspects of Free Grace theology is its position on assurance. All Free Grace advocates agree that assurance of salvation is intrinsic to the very nature of the Gospel promise. Dallas Theological Seminary, in Article XI of its doctrinal statement, sums up the general consensus of Free Grace theology in reference to assurance:[49]

We believe it is the privilege, not only of some, but of all who are born again by the Spirit through faith in Christ as revealed in the Scriptures, to be assured of their salvation from the very day they take Him to be their Savior and that this assurance is not founded upon any fancied discovery of their own worthiness or fitness, but wholly upon the testimony of God in His written Word, exciting within His children filial love, gratitude, and obedience (Luke 10:20; 22:32; 2 Cor. 5:1, 6–8; 2 Tim. 1:12; Heb. 10:22; 1 John 5:13).

Yet within the Free Grace world, there are two views on assurance. The first is that, although assurance of salvation should be the experience of every Christian from the moment of faith in Christ, Christian individuals may or may not immediately or ever in this life experience this. The realization of one's possession of eternal life may come at a later time, as a result of further study of the Gospel.

A second view is that assurance is of the essence of saving faith.[50] This view holds that faith is a "conviction that what Jesus promises is true." If a person has never been sure that he had eternal life which could never be lost (or the equivalent, e.g., sure that he was once-for-all justified, sure he was going to heaven no matter what), then it is posited that he has not yet believed in Christ in the Biblical sense (cf. John 11:25-26 and Jesus' question, "Do you believe this?").


Free Grace theology approaches the doctrine of repentance in a different way compared to the most other Christian traditions.[51] God's "irresistible grace," necessary to impart "faith" to man's fallen will (the bondage of the will), shall, by its very nature, advance the new convert to a state of holiness and Christ likeness. Without the infusion of this mystical "grace," the lost sinner cannot efficaciously believe, nor can he hope to attain to a state of holiness and Christ likeness.

As the reformation began, Erasmus' cry "ad fontes" ('to the sources') was applied to terms like "justification," wherein the biblical and extra-biblical Greek literature were examined to establish the meaning of the term "dikaio" (justify). However, other theological beliefs, such as the need to "repent of one's sins" for eternal salvation, remained unexamined within the mainstream denominations. A return to the sources (Scripture and extant Greek literature) for a serious examination of words such as "metanoia" would not be widely observed within the church for several hundred more years.

Some of the earliest developments relating to the doctrine of repentance appeared in Harry A. Ironside ("Except Ye Repent", American Tract Society, 1937) and the Systematic Theology of Lewis Sperry Chafer (completed 1947), returned to consider the fundamental meaning of the Greek word "metanoia" (repentance), which simply means "to change one's mind." In biblical passages commonly understood to be directed to eternal salvation, the object of repentance was often seen simply as Jesus Christ, making repentance equivalent to faith in Christ. Passages identifying a more specific object of repentance were understood to focus on man's need to change his mind from a system of self-justification by works to a trusting in Christ alone for salvation, or a change in mind from polytheism to a belief in Jesus Christ as the true living God. Further exposition came from various Free Grace authors,[52] and Robert N. Wilkin undertook a detailed examination in his doctoral thesis at Dallas Theological Seminary (1985), which he simplified for a more popular audience in the Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society from Autumn 1988 to Autumn 1990.

The gospel of John, the only book of the Bible written to non-Christians , does not use the term "repentance" even once in the book, although the author was familiar with the term. (See the John 20:30-31 and Revelation Chapter 2 and 3) Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin hold that repentance is defined as a turning from one's sins, but repentance is not a requirement for eternal life, only faith in Christ. Initially in Hodges' book "Absolutely Free!" and later in more detail in his book, Harmony With God Hodges took the position that the process of repentance may be a preparatory step in coming to salvation, and should be evident in the life of a believer, but a lost man can be born again apart from repentance by any definition. Hodges also said he no longer held to the “change of mind” view of repentance. In Harmony with God Hodges said there is only one answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” Hodges emphatically stated, “Repentance is not part of that answer. It never has been and never will be.” A primary justification for this view is the fact that the Gospel of John written to bring people to faith in Christ never once uses the word "repentance."

Saving faith

Within the Free Grace movement there has been a discussion to what is the essential content of saving faith. One view holds that faith in Jesus of the Bible for the gift of eternal life is sufficient. Another view holds that in addition to faith in Jesus for eternal life, one must also know and believe in at least some of the following theological truths: death, burial, resurrection, and/or deity of Christ. The former view is based on the gospel of John, which states it was written to bring people to believe in Jesus Christ for eternal life and the only book of the New Testament addressed to non-Christians. (John 20:30-31). The latter view seeks justification from various passages from the New Testament, but the primary passage cited is 1 Corinthians 15:1-18. For more information on the difference, see the review article by Wilkin.[53]


One opposing view is Lordship salvation, commonly held by those in the Reformed tradition. Most traditional Protestant theologians agree that faith alone in Christ alone is the sole means for receiving the free gift of salvation. The Reformed tradition holds that people cannot generate saving faith because they are by nature fallen and opposed to God. They believe that God's grace enables a sinner to overcome his fallen will and gives him saving faith in Jesus. Such grace is believed to be irresistible so that all those to whom God chooses to give grace will, in fact, have saving faith and be born again. It is believed that because these individuals are born again, their natures have undergone a change that will lead them to respond to God not just as Savior but also as Lord. If an individual claims to be saved, or born again, and yet gives little or no evidence of a changed life that follows God's commands, this would indicate the individual has not been born again.

Thomas Hooker also rejected Free Grace theology, stating that God's favor needed to be constantly re-earned by man, and that sin was capable of defeating grace on occasion. This is called the Contrition doctrine.[54]

Finally, according to Lordship advocates, Jesus's teaching oppose Free Grace to some extent, through the numerous actions taught to the disciples.[55] In addition, some believe there is evidence that there is another teaching besides salvation through faith/grace[56] or works, that the true measure of Christianity is grace by one's own proof of love[57][58]

See also

Dispensationalist theology
Marrow Controversy
Moderate Calvinism
Pauline Christianity
Perseverance of the saints


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3
  2. Bing, Charles Lordship Salvation, A Biblical Evaluation and Response, Ph.D. Dissertation, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1991
  6. R.T. Kendall Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649 2nd ed., Paternoster Press, UK, 1997
  7. David D. Hall, The Antinomian Controversy 1636-1638 : A Documentary History, 1990]
  8. Robert Sandeman Encyclopædia Britannica, 2007
  10. Dean, Abiding in Christ: A Dispensational Theology of the Spiritual Life, CTS Journal, 2006
  11. See:
  12. See:
  13. Earl Radmacher, "Believers and the Bema" Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Spring 1995 -- Volume 8:14
  20. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, pp.44-45.
  21. "Indeed, John's condition for salvation is overwhelmingly framed in the language of belief and unbelief." Charlie Bing: Lordship Salvation, p. 25.
  22. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, p.89.
  23. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, p.24.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, p.55.
  25. 25.0 25.1 C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, p.130.
  26. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, pp.19,48,55.
  27. 27.0 27.1 C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, pp.130,135,143.
  28. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, pp.42,58,165.
  29. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, pp.37,130,135,143.
  30. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, pp.55.
  31. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, pp.19,55.
  32. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, p.47.
  33. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, pp.19,46,55-56,88.
  34. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, pp.141-4.
  35. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, p.149.
  36. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, p.119.
  37. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, pp.84,166.
  38. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, p.117.
  39. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, p.160.
  40. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, p.118.
  41. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, p.112.
  42. "[Paul's] argument is that Christ obeyed (He worked), and sinners get the saving benefit of His obedience by the exercise of faith, not by their own obedience or works. To insist that sinners obey or even be willing to obey is to make human merit a requisite of the free gift, which negates the essence of a gift. This asks of the unregenerate a very Christian decision and confuses the issue of salvation with issues of the Christian life, as Godet correctly argues in his comment on Rom 1:5: 'It is impossible to understand by this obedience the holiness produced by faith. For, before speaking of the effects of faith, faith must exist.'" Charlie Bing: Lordship Salvation, p. 23.
  43. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, p.20,108-113.
  44. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, p.23.
  45. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, pp.159-60.
  46. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, pp.42,165.
  47. C. Bing: Lordship Salvation, pp.52,54,160,165.
  48. Gerry Breshears, “New Directions in Dispensationalism”, paper presented to the Evangelical Theological Society, November 1991
  49. Dallas Theological Seminary Website
  50. See "Gospel Under Siege by Zane Hodges, REDENCION VIVA 1981, page 10. "A careful consideration of the offer of salvation as Jesus Himself presented it, will show that assurance is inherent in that offer.
  51. The Reformed tradition, for instance, sees repentance as "a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ" (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 713). Defined as such, it is a component, not just of conversion but also of sanctification, and it is a regularly recurring element throughout the Christian's life. This repentance cannot be present in unbelievers at all (unless perhaps God is in the process of converting them) because only those truly regenerated by God can exercise it.
  52. E.g., Dick Seymour, "All About Repentance" (1974); G. Michael Cocoris, "Lordship Salvation, Is it Biblical?" (circa 1983) and "Repentance, The Most Misunderstood Word in the Bible" (1993); Curtis Hutson, "Repentance, What does the Bible Teach"; Richard Hill, "Why a Turn or Burn Theology is Wrong"; and Ronald R. Shea, "The Gospel" booklet (1988); and numerous articles by John R. Rice and Curtis Hutson in the Sword of the Lord magazine.
  54. See Thomas Hooker
  55. Teaching his disciples to give up everything and follow him, to heal the sick, clothe the naked, and comfort the sick, none of which would be necessary, if they were already saved by his grace
  56. "He who hears the word and does not do it, is like a man looking at a mirror, who thereafter forgets what he saw."
  57. "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."
  58. "He That Abideth in Me, and I in Him, the Same Bringeth Forth Much Fruit"

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