We’ve all heard stories of people doing foolish things in the name of grace.
This has led to a debate in the church which has been labeled Hyper-Grace. A student asked me some time ago if I believed in this teaching. My response was, “I have no idea but I should learn what it is.”
To educate myself, I picked up two books. The first was [amazon_link id=”B00E78FTKW” target=”_blank” ]Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message[/amazon_link] by Dr. Michael Brown. Dr. Brown shares stories of people hearing more swear words and “F-bombs” in this grace movement than anywhere else. When they were confronted, the foul-mouthed Christians declared it legalism, ignoring any input.
In his book he shares a number of concerns with the modern grace message, including several topics we’ve discussed here at NoSuperHeroes.
Does the Old Testament Have Relevance to our Lives? Does it portray a Different God then the New Testament?
It seems the main argument centers around whether or not a believer must pursue holiness.
Dr. Brown says that hyper-grace preaches a message where believers are already holy and do not need to pursue growth. He says grace preachers deny that God requires holy living from His people. The discussion of whether it is even possible for humans to meet God’s holy standard is what ensues.
His conclusion is that we should be able to preach grace and at the same time preach against sin.
The second book I read is by Paul Ellis. He wrote [amazon_link id=”B00JEX7O8A” target=”_blank” ]The Hyper-Grace Gospel: A Response to Michael Brown and Those Opposed to the Modern Grace Message[/amazon_link]. I figured this would be a good companion to Dr. Brown’s book.
Ellis summed up his perspective on grace and holy living by saying the following:
“Actually what we discourage is the futile quest to make yourself holy by acting holy”
“If the grace you’re drinking teaches you to say yes to sin, it’s not the grace of God but a manmade substitute. To say grace promotes sin is like saying Jesus promotes sin. It’s slanderous at best and blasphemous at worse. Grace isn’t permission to sin, it’s the power God to sin no more.”
So which is it?
As with most debates, the two sides seemed to center on extreme statements. I found myself agreeing as well as disagreeing with multiple points from each side.
At times, it seems we attempt to find simple answers to the mysteries of our faith. We attempt to make God like us and fit Him into a concise statement of belief.
Could it not be “and” rather than “or”?
Can we not say grace at salvation has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and holiness is something we have as Paul says in Ephesians 1:3, “you are holy and blameless”?
And at the same time recognize the definitions of holiness is “the process of becoming Christ-like”.
We simultaneously ARE holy and are BECOMING Holy. God has given it to us as a gift and we should pursue holy lifestyle as a way of becoming more like our Savior
Pursuing holiness is a response to the gift of God rather than a requirement to obtain or even maintain it.
So yes, a believer should pursue holiness as a means of expressing love and gratitude for God doing the impossible for us.
We should acknowledge that every good gift, including our meeting God’s holy standard, was made possible by Jesus and given freely to us.
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