Grace can be defined as God’s mighty power and ability freely given.
In every doctrinal area some people tend to give erroneous teachings. Many times these teachings can be very well-meaning and well-intentioned. Still these teachings need scriptural examination and discernment. I want to ask some honest questions that might inspire some deeper thinking and consideration about the subject of grace. Dr. Michael Brown recently posed a series on Questions that are worth considering. Below is a rendering of some of these questions with my own interpretation on some of them.
1) If the Lord always sees you as perfect in his sight, as is commonly taught in the grace gospel message, is there any way for you to disappoint him? I’ve heard it said that we can only grieve or disappoint him by not trusting his grace, but according to the Grace message, hasn’t that sin been forgiven and forgotten as well?
Does God require anything from you as his child after the Salvation experience?
2) The New Testament writers often exhort us to live in ways that please the Lord. Does that mean that it is possible for us as born-again, blood-bought believers and God’s dear children, to displease him? We agree that he relates to us as his beloved children, but is he always pleased with us?
And since Paul urges us not to grieve the Spirit, does that mean that we can, in fact, grieve Him?
3) Does God require anything from you as his child after the Salvation experience? Is there anything he says that you must do as his child other than receive his grace? If so, are their spiritual benefits that come through obeying these requirements and spiritual losses that come from ignoring them? Can a Christian loose-out spiritually?
Is there anything you can do to disappoint the Lord?
4) If God has pronounced your future sins forgiven in the same way he has pronounced your past sins forgiven, why do Paul and other New Testament writers address these very sins in their letters, and why does Jesus address them in Revelation 2-3? We know that God doesn’t bring our past sins up to us, since he has forgiven and “forgotten” them. Why then does he bring our present sins up to us in the New Testament, even warning us about the dangers of walking in those sins, if they have also been forgiven and forgotten in advance?
5) Is it possible for you to displease the Lord? Is God as pleased with you if you leave your spouse and commit adultery as he is if you spend time in personal communion with him? While his love for you is constant, is his fellowship with you exactly the same when you are obedient as when you are disobedient?
6) A leading grace teacher claims that the doctrine of progressive sanctification is a “spiritually murderous lie.” Does that mean that grace preachers like Charles Spurgeon, who believed in progressive sanctification, taught this alleged lie? And if “progressive sanctification” simply means to walk out our holiness with the help of the Spirit, what is so dangerous about this teaching?
Put another way, why do you reject the concept that the one who made us holy now calls us to live holy lives in thought, word, and deed, thereby “completing our sanctification in the fear of God” (2 Cor 7:1)?
7) We agree that the Holy Spirit never condemns us for our sins as believers, but does he ever make us uncomfortable when we sin? To me (Michael Brown) , this is a very loving act of the Father, not wanting us to get comfortable doing things that could destroy our lives and the lives of others and influence out eternal reward. Isn’t that something to be embraced? And doesn’t that drive us to the cross rather than away from it?
8) We agree that we do not need to confess every sin we commit each day in order to “stay saved,” but is any type of confession and request for forgiveness appropriate? For example, is it appropriate for believers to say, “Father, I’m sorry for sinning and I ask you to wash me clean”?
Are we denying God’s grace or showing an ignorance of God’s grace when we confess our sins to him, asking him to forgive us?
9) Since you believe we are not to judge our salvation by our conduct, how we can avoid self-deception? I know that you are against certain types of self-examination lest you become “sin conscious” and take your eyes off the finished work of the cross, but what do you make of verses that state that we know we have passed from death to life only if we live a certain way (like 1 John 3:14)? If I understand you correctly, you would question the salvation of someone who demonstrated no change of life and continued to walk in unrepentant sin. But doesn’t this mean that, on some level, you are looking at your “performance” to verify your salvation?