It’s all grace!!! This is the essential Christian confession. Of course, the various denominations and movements accuse one another of not being grace centered enough. The Protestants say to the Roman Catholics that though they confess grace they obfuscate it by introducing works into ultimate justification. The Reformed accuse the Arminians of short-selling grace because Arminians believe, generally, that one can fall from grace. The Arminians accuse the Reformed of limiting grace because saving grace is only for the few and not for the many. The Lutherans accuse the Reformed of not making a careful enough distinction between the Law and the Gospel, and the Reformed accuse the Lutherans of not seeing the grace of God in the three uses of the Law.
We are all trying to “Out-Grace” one another. It takes us to some very absurd expressions and overstatements so that our view of grace is seen as the biblical one. It is in these overstatements that one can lose touch with the biblical mindset, for it is not only what we say but how we say it, how often we say it and what we don’t say.
I am increasingly hearing phrases like this: “we can’t out-sin the grace of God.” As it stands, it is true, everything else being equal and those words meaning exactly what the Bible means by them. However, we can sin in such a way that the grace of God is without effect if it is not mixed with faith and repentance. We must speak of faith and repentance when we speak of grace. If we do not, we lose grip on what the Bible means by grace. Un-responded to grace ceases to be saving grace. The absence of cooperation with grace means being lost.
I hear loads of hopeful words about the grace of God that are not measured. And churches fill up with people absolutely enthralled about how much God is for them and how certain they can be of his favor. But there is hardly a word about faith and repentance. It is almost as if in some minds this dampens grace, qualifies grace, limits grace. This is not wise. It is not the biblical message. Grace always invites us to repentance and faith and obedience. These do not earn grace, by definition, or otherwise it would not be grace. But let there be no mistake, the Bible qualifies in what sense grace is to be understood.
We must speak about grace the way the Bible speaks of it in order to do good to sinners. I am finding in NeoCalvinism a flirting with antinomianism in some of their more extreme statements. Us Pastors are finding many a parishioner living in the most garish of sinful lifestyles absolutely assured that because grace is grace heaven is their certain home. Where did they come up with this model of grace? Did they dream it up on their own? Hardly. This they have been taught. And anyone, they have been told, who does not believe the same is a legalist.
I appeal to those task it is to teach God’s Word, say what God’s Word says in the way that it says it. Keep one truth in balance with other truths. If we don’t, sin will increase and the church will fill up those who under the banner of grace have not appetite for holiness and no lifestyle of deepening faith and repentance.