What is Easy Believism, Free Grace?
There is a popular teaching in modern Christianity called Free Grace and Easy Believism. Free Grace teaches that a person is saved because "they believe" yet the ongoing practice of their life is unrepentant, habitually gross sin against God. They believe that repentance is a "work". This teaching is very dangerously close to the heresy called antinomianism which teaches that because grace covers all sin for the Christian, believers can live anyway they want with no need to follow God's commandments. Paul said in Romans 6:1-2-"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" Romans 6:15-"What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!"
The term "easy believism" has been used by many to describe those who believe in an easy Christianity. But this kind of "Christianity" is not in accordance with the full Gospel according to the Scriptures. Easy believism believes that salvation is having an intellectual awareness and acknowledgement of God's work on the Cross of Jesus Christ accompanied by a sincere, verbal profession of that belief – oftentimes by praying "The Sinner's Prayer". Easy believism declares a person saved if they were sincere. Henceforth, their life does not necessarily have to produce any godliness or righteousness as long as they at one time professed their belief. Easy believism is focused more on the sinner's benefits rather than the glory of God and a life lived in obedience to Him, His will, and His Word. Titus 1:16-"They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed. They believe they are saved because they have walked an aisle, said a prayer, were baptized -- but they had no real conviction of sin and repentance and no real saving faith in Christ. Praying a prayer is easy -- thus the term easy believism -- but there is more to salvation than mouthing words.
While the security of salvation is a Biblical fact based upon the finished work of salvation by Christ, it is certainly true that some of those who seemed to have "made a decision" or "accepted Christ" may not be genuinely saved. True salvation is not so much our accepting Christ as it is His accepting us. We are saved by the power of God for the purpose of God, and that purpose includes the fruit and works of righteousness that give evidence of our conversion. Those who continuously and habitually walk according to the flesh are not true believers! Romans 8:5–8-"For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God... James 2:19 says, "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe -- and tremble!" This type of "belief" -- the belief of demons -- can be compared to the intellectual assent made by those who "believe" in Jesus in the fact that He exists or that He was a good person. Many unbelievers say, "I believe in God" or "I believe in Jesus"! Others say, "I prayed a prayer, and the preacher said I was saved." But such prayers and such belief do not necessarily signal a change of heart.
The problem is a misunderstanding of the word believe. In true salvation there comes a genuine repentance and the evidence of a personal life change. 2 Corinthians 5:17Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." This verse says that those who are in Christ are a "new creation". Is it possible that the new person that Christ creates is one who continues to habitually walk in the carnality of the flesh? According to the Scriptures the answer is "No" -- as we will see!
Salvation is certainly free (grace), but at the same time, it costs us everything. By faith, we place our lives at the feet of Jesus Christ and trust Him to do with it as He wills for His glory, honor, and eternal purpose. God calls Believers to die to ourselves as He changes us into the likeness of Christ. Luke 9:23-"And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 14:27-30-"Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down, and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, "This man began to build and was not able to finish." Gal 2:20-"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." The cost is dying to self -- which is not easy. It is painful; but it is the road to holiness and sanctification. Dying to self is not a way to be saved and it is not how we stay saved. Dying to self is EVIDENCE THAT WE HAVE BEEN TRULY SAVED.
Where easy believism fails, is its lack of recognition that a person with true saving faith in Jesus will lead a progressively changed sanctified life and not live habitually in continuous sin. 1 Thess 5:21-24-"But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass." Eph 2:10-"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them". Jesus makes it very clear in Mathew 7:21-23-"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness." God's will for us is to not sin! Jesus is saying those who practice "lawlessness" in the church -- which is habitual, unrepentant sin -- are damned!
Salvation is a free gift from God to those who believe, but discipleship and obedience are the response that will no doubt occur when one has truly come to Christ in saving faith. John 14:21-"He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him."
As I stated in the beginning of this blog "Free Grace" adherents do not believe in repentance and walking in holiness as a sign of salvation nor do they believe that repentance is required to be saved. They believe that if you are an adulterer before salvation and you remain an unrepentant adulterer after salvation that you are still good with God because you believed. They believe repentance is not required because they consider it a work and we are saved by faith alone. Part of that is true! We are truly saved by grace and faith alone; but the Scriptures say something different concerning repentance and holiness.
Let us first look at what the Scriptures say about repentance: Luke 5:31-32-"And Jesus answered and said to them, "It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." Luke 15:7-"I [Jesus] tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." Luke 24:45-47-"Then He [Jesus] opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem." Acts2:38-"Peter said to them, 'Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'." Acts 17:30-31-"Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man [Jesus] whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead."
The Scriptures are perfectly clear that we are called to repent! Do the Scriptures say we are to repent in the church? Paul sent a letter to the Corinthian church pointing out there was active sin within the church members. In his second letter he commends them for repenting of their sin: 2 Cor 7: 8-11-"For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it -- for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while -- I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter." Note that they were led to repentance which leads to salvation. Where? In the church!
Again in 2 Corinthians Paul talks about members of the church who need to repent of their wickedness and sin: 2 Cor 12:21-"I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced." The last Scripture I'll use on repentance is from the book of Revelation where Christ is talking to the churches and He states this to the members of the church of Ephesus: Rev 2:4-5-"But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place -- unless you repent."
We covered the repentance issue by showing from Scripture the Free Grace teaching is false concerning repentance. What about Godly living, holiness, and sanctification? Does the Scripture say we can keep on sinning continuously? The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12:1-2-"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Paul again tells the church members in Corinth not to sin: 1 Cor 6:17-20- "But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body." Eph 1:3-4-"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him." Eph 5:27-"…that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless." 1 Peter 1:14-16-"As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." ;1 John 2:4-6- " 4 Whoever says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. The Scriptures are clear that the church members (the saved souls) are to be holy as God is holy.
We were not saved to be slaves to sin and the flesh still but to be slaves to Jesus and the Holy Spirit. If we are truly born again regenerated souls, we have been made a "new creation"! EZK 36:26-27 tells us that we have been given a new heart, a new human spirit and the Holy Spirit and that God writes His law upon on our hearts so we can live it! Romans 6:16-18, 22-"Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life." These Scriptures show we are to be holy, sanctified souls living Godly lives for Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit!
As you study the Scriptures you can clearly see that "Free Grace" and "Easy Believism" is a false teaching which negates the Godly sorrow of repentance and the spiritual fruit of holiness that gives evidence of our having been born again. It is producing doubly dead souls who shall hear these frightening words from Christ: "I NEVER KNEW YOU"!
An exceptionally good book to read on this subject is John MacArthur's book titled "The Gospel According to Jesus". (To see more on Holiness and Sanctification, please read my Blog dated June 10th "Be Thou Holy".)