Free Grace 15

Nothing in man doth precede or prevent the grace of God. The light and beams of grace do dispel the clouds of our sins. Not for our sakes, but for his Name’s sake he covereth our sins. It is God’s prerogative to free us from sin by grace, and to remove them far from us. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” {Ps.103:12} He only can remove sin against whom it is committed. He only can cast sin into the depths of the sea, who hath an ocean of grace in himself, in which he swalloweth them up. John Simpson {Perfection of Justification, 1648} Obtained from

Lamentations 2:14 Your prophets have seen for you False and foolish visions; And they have not exposed your iniquity So as to restore you from captivity, But they have seen for you false and misleading oracles.

In reflecting upon the state of preaching in our modern world it would appear that God has sent His judgment upon us. It is with an aching heart that I have heard sermon after sermon in the past years and I wonder why the living God has not been preached and why Christ and His cross was not exalted. I have heard a series of sermons on external morality or things that I must believe, but even in ostensibly Reformed churches I leave hungry for Christ and for the glory of God in Christ. I leave hungry for spiritual food as the message or talk has been on what I should do. I leave hungry because I have heard of all the conditions that I must meet rather than the free-grace of God which alone can work in me to meet any condition at all. My soul is longs to feed upon Christ and the glory of God in Christ which comes to sinners by free-grace alone, but alas I leave with hunger pains.

It is also true that I long to have my sin exposed by a faithful preacher who will not only tell me the external sins, but will preach to the inner sins of the heart and of the soul. When preachers do not expose iniquity (as in Lamentations above), then there is no restoration into the presence of God. When preachers to not take pains with their own hearts as they deal with Scripture, they will not expose sin as it should be exposed and so sanctification is stifled. When preachers do not take pains to deal with the sinful hearts of people, they will not take pains to expose the sins of pride and self-righteousness in the hearts of men and women and as such there is simply no way for them to preach free-grace.

It is a sad thing in our nation (and world) today that sin is essentially thought of as outward morality. Linked with that, then, what we see is men teaching an outward repentance and virtually and outward grace. Conditional grace is the cry of the pulpit today and conditional grace is what is taught for both unbelievers and professing believer. Over and over I hear that unbelievers are to place their faith in Christ in order to be saved. What faith does an unbeliever have? An unbeliever only has faith in self and so is the unbeliever to place his faith in self to have faith in Christ? Oh what a terrible state we are in! Christ saves sinners quite apart from any faith they have in themselves or any faith they can place in Him, though indeed that will sound heretical to some people. In the glorious Gospel of Christ alone and His free-grace part of the full salvation that Christ gives is to give His people faith. This is an important and even vital distinction.

The reason that the point made in the previous paragraph is important is because Christ does not save sinners based on a condition that they meet or can meet. Sinners should be told that they must look to Christ to give them faith rather than to place their faith in Christ. If I have a faith that I already have before Christ and I am to place that faith in Christ, then that is no longer salvation by faith alone as Luther taught. Luther taught that salvation is by faith alone because it defended the doctrine of grace alone or sovereign grace alone. Salvation is by a free-grace alone and that means there is no condition on my part or condition that I can work up in my own strength. I have nothing to commend myself to Christ and I have nothing with which to come to Christ with. It is a free-grace alone that can work conviction of sin in my heart, break my heart from pride and self, and then regenerate that heart and make it a believing heart. The Bible does not tell us to place our faith in Christ, but it tells us to be believing (literally, faithing) in Christ. This is to say that faith is not a once and done thing, it is a continuing action because Christ is united to and lives in the hearts of those who have faith and He gives them that “faithing.”

The modern day knows something of the word “grace” and perhaps something of the theology of that “grace”, but the modern day seems to be virtually clueless about a real grace or a free-grace. In sermon after sermon I hear of the conditions of grace, though some do not use that language. However, the concept is clearly there. As long as ministers refuse to give up or simply remain in the darkness of a conditional grace, they will be delivering false and misleading oracles. When we understand that the group designated as “wicked sinners” includes religious sinners and very moral people (at least outwardly), we will begin to see the utter futility of most preaching today. The hearts of men are not stripped to sheer nakedness and people do not see the horror of their inability and so they keep striving in their own strength. Some who strive in their own strength are the modern Reformed people who are really Arminians in a different dress (using differing words). The modern Reformed and the Arminian can get along because they are basically preaching the same thing. The glorious doctrines of free-grace, however, will bring the wrath of the Arminian and the modern Reformed. The same thing (in a sense) happened in both the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Reformation. Oh to hear the glorious Savior spoken of in the Divine language of free-grace alone!

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