OK, I’ve been hedging. I have purposely left the impression that I disagree with both the ideas of “Lordship Salvation” and “Free Grace”. I’m sorry, it simply isn’t true. In fact, I do have a position – and it isn’t “in the middle”. As much as I like compromise, it just can't be done here.
John 1:14 NASB And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.Christ is full of grace and truth. He isn't 50% of one and 50% of the other, but 100% of each. The two aren’t at odds, and they aren’t mutually exclusive. If it is Christ who saves us, why is it that we aren’t saved by both grace and truth, since He is both? Why is it that we feel compelled to move to one of those extremes while ignoring the plain Biblical truths of the other? Is there really a contradiction, or have people like John MacArthur and Zane Hodges built their own apparent contradictions by their inability or unwillingness to give ground where it obviously needs to be given?
With regard to Lordship, consider this passage:
Luke 23:43 NASB And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."I look at this passage thinking about MacArthur’s “Lordship”, and I wonder what he would say about the thief. Was there time to comprehend the Gospel adequately? Where did he serve? What actions of discipleship did he take part in? I’m guessing there wasn’t much time. I’m guessing he was saved by grace through faith, and without having done much more than to have said, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" That sounds like “bare mental assent” to me, but it was credited to him as much, much more.
With regard to Free Grace, consider this passage:
John 5:14 NASB Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, "Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you."When looking at this passage in view of Hodges “Free Grace”, I wonder where the “free” part comes in to play. Surely Jesus said exactly what He meant to say to this man (and to us). I note that the man was “made well”, and is then instructed to “sin no more”. While it isn’t stated conditionally, there is a definite relation of the command of truth to the act of grace. I’m guessing the man did his best to “sin no more”. If only Christians could recognize that they too have been “made well”, perhaps we would work out our salvation with more fervor if we would recognize what has happened to us inwardly what this man recognized was done to him outwardly.
Randy Alcorn, in his book The Grace and Truth Parodox writes:
If we minimize grace, the world sees no hope for salvation. If we minimize truth, the world sees no need for salvation. To show the world Jesus, we must offer unabridged grace and truth, emphasizing both, apologizing for neither. The Colossian church “understood God’s grace in all it’s truth” (Col 1:6).For me, this goes along with what Sawyer writes when he says that “both are right in what they accept and wrong in what they deny.” In other words, not only are they not mutually exclusive as both extremes would have you believe, the are in fact interdependent upon one another. One without the other is meaningless.
More from Alcorn:
Truth is quick to post warning signs and guardrails at the top of the cliff. Yet it fails to empower people to drive safely – and neglects to help them when they crash. Grace is quick to post ambulances and paramedics at the bottom of the cliff. But without truth, it fails to post warning signs and guardrails. In doing so it encounters the very self destruction it attempts to heal.
Truth without grace crushes people and ceases to be truth. Grace without truth deceives people and ceases to be grace.Like I said, I just don't see the confusion. Again, for me each side is 100% correct in what they accept, and are wrong only in their fierce denials of the other view. Accepting both is comforting to me, not confusing. I thank God for both.
Truth without grace degenerates into judgmental legalism. Grace without truth degenerates into deceitful tolerance.
Grace and truth are both necessary. Neither is sufficient.
Truth hates sin. Grace loves sinners.
Those full of grace and truth do both.