Free Grace or Lordship Salvation—which is correct? There’s a test to see whether you’re preaching a Biblical gospel—it involves boasting. Here’s what Paul told the Corinthians:
Brothers and sisters, consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one may boast in his presence. It is from him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from God for us—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption—in order that, as it is written: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord (1 Cor 1:26-31, emphasis added).
As far as boasting is concerned, Paul lays out two options: you can either boast in yourself to the Lord or you can boast in the Lord. And God definitely wanted to exclude the first possibility. Michael Eaton explained it like this:
“God’s way of salvation is deliberately chosen to humble men and women. People like to save themselves. They like to find some way of relating to God or getting success in life so that they can show other people how clever they are or what great achievements they have accomplished. Paul says the way of salvation is the exact opposite. God has chosen a way of salvation that is deliberately designed to exclude boating. It is deliberately shaped so that no one is able to boast before God” (Eaton, Branch Commentary, p. 527).
Does Lordship Salvation pass the boasting test? Not at all. It exemplifies how, as Eaton says, “People like to save themselves.” Suppose salvation depends on faith that works, or on faith accompanied by works, or by faith plus works, as Lordship Salvationists often say. In that case, your salvation depends on your efforts, and you would have grounds for boasting in for boasting about how wise and strong you were, compared to everyone else. It fails the test.
Does the Free Grace gospel pass the boasting test? I think so. We’re clear that salvation cannot be earned or kept by any works that we do. Salvation is not by works at all but given as a gift through faith in Christ, which is not a work. Since meritorious behavior has nothing to do with our salvation, we pass the boasting test.
And if that conclusion sounds like a boast, it’s because I’m boasting in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Send your questions or comments to Shawn.