Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Unconditional Gift of God

A commenter on Unashamed of Grace had this to say concerning the position of Zane Hodges:

Zane has taken his thinking to its logical conclusion (ie. no conditions for salvation), and it is being shown for what it is, bankrupt!

In it this critic betrays his lack of understanding in both what Zane Hodges believes and what God’s gratuitous offer of eternal life entails. Let us take this opportunity to correct him.

There are two ways to look at conditionality in reference to eternal life: A) From the perspective of God, and B) from the perspective of the lost.

Imagine a Rescue Mission having a sign stating:

Tomorrow evening, supper will be served at 5PM. It is offered freely and will be available without condition.

This would be quite outstanding. Why? I have done some work at the Rescue Mission in San Diego. Their meals are indeed free, but they do come with a significant condition. For those who are not in their program, in order to receive the food, the Mission requires that you sit through a 45-minute sermon before you can be fed. If you fail to remain in the meeting hall for the whole time, you will not be admitted into the dining facility.

The sign in the imagined illustration above states that no such condition exists; so essentially the dinner is given unconditionally. In this scenario, the Mission does not require any conditions. They are presenting meals to anyone free from condition. Yet we must understand that this dinner offered unconditionally by the Rescue Mission is only unconditional from the perspective of the Mission itself. The Mission is not requiring anything of the recipients. If they (the recipients) want the dinner they may have the dinner without condition.

But from the perspective of the recipient of the dinner, he has to get himself to the Rescue Mission and receive the dinner. Therefore from the perspective of the beneficiary of the food, there are two enumerable conditions that must be met in order for him to possess the dinner that the Rescue Mission nonetheless offers him unconditionally. The one who desires the dinner must put himself in a position that will allow him to avail himself of the meal. Next, the recipient must actually receive the dinner into his hands.

There are lessons to be learned in the above illustration. Let us learn them by now comparing the story above to the doctrine of soteriology (salvation).

From God’s point of view, He offers the gift of eternal life Absolutely Free!, without condition.

1. There are no pre-salvation works to be done.
2. It is not required to make commitments to serve Him.
3. There is no prescribed condition to turn from one’s sins.
4. It is not stipulated that one must surrender his life to God.
5. There are no required tests to be passed; no mandated doctrines to be assented to.
6. Indeed, God does not require anything at the hands of the lost

The gift of everlasting life is just that: a gift, a gift given by grace. As such its offer is unconditional from God’s perspective.

Rev 22:17
Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely [Gk dorean = “as a gift,” “for nothing,” “not subject to a given condition”].

From man’s point of view, there is a general condition and a specific condition that both need to be met in order to avail himself of God’s unconditional offer of eternal life. The specific condition is that the man must receive eternal life in the way that God has revealed it to be done: by believing in Jesus Christ for eternal life. The general condition is that the man must place himself in the position to be able to fulfill the specific one:

1. He may have to strive to find out about God and Christ.
2. He will have to be open to the evidence of the gospel.
3. He will have to consider and deliberate upon the data he is exposed to

Let us put the pieces together. God is like the Rescue Mission that put out the above sign, offering a meal free of condition and cost, in that God offers eternal life on the same basis. The willing beneficiary of the meal is like the desirous recipient of eternal life in that they both need to position themselves into a place enabling them to receive the graciousness of their benefactor and then actually receive the benefit.

Regarding the San Diego Rescue Mission (the actual one I have associated with), they offer meals free of monetary charge, but require a commitment nonetheless, and is therefore conditional; they are demanding an action that if left undone would disqualify one from their offer. In this instance, there is nothing wrong with the San Diego Rescue Mission’s policy. I applaud it. If a hungry homeless man wishes to be fed it shouldn’t be too much to sit in on a gospel presentation as a requirement for food. It is also shrewd for the S.D.R.M. to require such, for many if not most of these people would never willingly subject themselves to the Word of God.

In the current controversy, the ‘Theological Legalism’ of the Checklist Evangelists operates in the same way as the San Diego Rescue Mission, in that, although they may offer a gift free of monetary payment and/or meritorious endeavor, they do require conditions which preclude it from being an unconditional offer received only through Free Grace.

When I used to be associated with the San Diego Rescue Mission, I often talked to some of the homeless people, who weren’t part of the program, outside of the shelter. Many of them, although hungry, did not want to expend the necessary resources in order to fulfill the conditions laid out by the S.D.R.M. in order to get the food. The conditions laid out by the Mission therefore had the potential to keep the Mission’s food out of the homeless person’s hand. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t charge the Mission with any wrongdoing here. I am only making a point. Furthermore, when I used to sit in on the sermons that preceded the meal I often used to see people get up and go out the door (and were not let back in). The conditions laid down by the Mission were too much for those individuals to bear at that moment. Again, in this instance, the conditions kept these individuals from receiving the benefit of the Mission’s conditional offer.

God’s offer to the lost is, in its very essence and core, an unconditional offer. Anytime men and women add conditions and requirements to God’s gratuitous offer of eternal life through the Lord Jesus Christ they frustrate grace to one degree or another. We have been charged to clearly and accurately give to men the hope that is in the gospel, eternal life free of charge and condition. When we corrupt the gospel in any way we fail the One who entrusted it to us. And woe to us who presume to add to the words of God! Anytime this happens it is sin.

Those who impose conditions on the reception of eternal life are adding to the words of God on the matter. The Gift of God, eternal life, is essentially unconditional. This cannot be overemphasized! Christ, Himself, fulfilled all the conditions for making this everlasting benefit available apart from any imposed and God-mandated requirements on the lost.

The methods and Theological Legalism of the Checklist Evangelists, whereby they impose conditions upon God’s unconditional offer, could preclude the lost from everlasting life, keep assurance from the saved, and bring down the discipline of God upon those who advocate this position.

Rom 11:33-36
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

"For who has known the mind of the LORD?
Or who has become His counselor?"
"Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?"

For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

The following is something that was written by my friend, WJC. It is a portion of an article that he wrote that will be showing up here soon.

We must carefully guard against creating a doctrine in which we apply and impose our human understanding and man made requirements upon God and on that basis presume to know how God is obliged to operate…. it would be far safer in light of the evidence to conclude that God closely and consistently guards the simplicity of the offer of eternal life – even in the post-cross era…. It may sound silly to have to say this but, in studying the scriptures, we must always be careful to recognize that God is free to act according to His gracious and merciful will - unconstrained by any human attempts to impose our own parameters.

God has been pleased to offer the gift of eternal life apart from any imposed conditions or requirements. This decision of His, based upon His unfathomable counsel, leaves us in awe. This resolution from God does not sit well with some and they doubt whether or not He has indeed determined to operate in this way. Questioning this dumbfounding consideration has led individuals to frustrate grace in varying degrees by introducing conditions into what is and shall always be unconditional.

2 Cor 9:15
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Various Thoughts Stemming from Zane Hodges' Poignant New Article

God has spoken in His word what He requires of men and women to do in order to receive the free gift of everlasting life. In His wisdom, He has determined to require men and women to trust in Jesus Christ for that gift. At anytime men and women add requirements to the one and only God-ordained condition of simple faith/trust in Jesus for the gift, they are imposing a form of:


When men and women add requirements of various doctrinal assents to the one requirement that God has given to men (faith alone in Christ alone) they are engaged in legalism.

The Bible never, ever asks the sinner to assent to doctrines in order to be saved. God simply asks men and women to trust His Son.

I stipulate and have always stipulated that men and women will have to assent to various things in order to be persuaded that Jesus guarantees their eternal well-being by faith. But there could potentially be infinitely different scenarios and variations of information that could get people to that point of faith in Christ. These considerations are the responsibility of the lost. Jesus says, "Strive to enter the narrow gate" (Lk 13:24). Obviously, in our evangelism, we have certain facts which are of 'first importance', that are the strongest testimonies unto the saving ability of Christ. But we must not confuse these things with the Biblically stated condition of faith alone in Christ alone.

If the Bible states that God has only required simple faith in Jesus for eternal life THEN anything added to that requirement will be LEGALISM.

Not all legalism is fatal (in the sense of preventing one from eternal life), but it should always be:


I have stipulated, and so does and has Zane that through the ministry of the Checklist Evangelists associated with the Free Grace movement people can and do get saved. Nevertheless, this does not negate the fact that they are legalists in the sense that:




This is just one of the problems that Theological Legalism can produce (not to mention problems with assurance and other things).

Every reader here would have to AGREE that anything added to what God requires man to do to receive everlasting life is LEGALISM.

They would also HAVE to agree that if it can be shown that God does not require (AS A GOD-MANDATED REQUIREMENT) the assent to sundry doctrines for the reception of eternal life that ANY INSISTING OF SUCH





If God has only mandated that men and women ONLY believe in Jesus for eternal life (and ultimately leaves the individual responsible on how he can get to that point)


Man adds any FURTHER REQUIREMENTS as if they were from the MOUTH OF GOD




Some say that eternal salvation is only for the orthodox.

Go have some discussions with your children as to the nature of Christ being fully God and fully man. Go ask them as to substitutionary atonement. (Indeed go ask them on any number of doctrines)

Let us see how orthodox they are on these points. Maybe you will find that salvation can be for the UNORTHODOX too!


It has been granted time and time again that a variety of things about Jesus will HAVE to be understood and assented to in order to bring one to the point of resting his eternal destiny upon Jesus by faith.

But this is different than saying that such things are REQUIRED as if from the MOUTH OF GOD.


The following is a syllogism that shows that it is not rhetoric, but simple truth, to label the position of the Checklist Evangelists as “theological legalism”

1) According to the Bible there is only one God-mandated requirement for the reception of everlasting life: simple faith in Jesus Christ for it
2) Anything added to the God-mandated requirement(s) for the reception of everlasting life is legalism
3) Checklist Evangelists add doctrinal requirements in ADDITION to faith alone in Christ alone


4) Tthe checklist evangelists are guilty of LEGALISM

Checklist Evangelists are masquerading as Free Gracers. Listen, Free Grace theology revolves around the fact that eternal life is ONLY RECEIVED as a free gift. Trusting in Christ receives the gift. It is a beggar having his hand out and a benefactor graciously imparting sustenance.

The activities of the checklist evangelists have the POTENTIAL to frustrate grace. It can be easily imagined that in scenarios of checklist evangelism the lost are asked to pass a pop-quiz before they are allowed to take the gift freely.

Can you see the difference between these two things:

1) Someone giving out a gift, period. Just ask and you have it.

2) Someone giving out a gift but requiring that you pass a test before you can ask and then have.

Free Grace theology is built around #1. Checklist evangelism can be guilty of #2.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


There is some discussion going on concerning issues pertaining to public interest in the current Free Grace theology discussion. I have taken down the latest article for the time being until I can get some finality. There will probably be a follow up article very soon.

Your prayers for the leaders in the Free Grace Theology community at this time are very needed.

Your Free Grace Theology Blog host,

Antonio da Rosa

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I am Alive and Kicking (and Praising the Lord!)

Dear readers of Free Grace Theology Blog,

Thank you for your continued patronage. Things have been very busy in my life recently. My wife is opening up a restaurant for her company and has been working 13-hour days for the last month. I wake up at 3am, go to work, pick up my youngest children, drop off the carpool, get my kids on their homework, get them a snack, pick up my eldest son from cross-country practice, make dinner, clean up, get the kids bathed, do our devotions and bed-time reading, and get them to bed. By this time it is 8:30, I get a little time with the Lord and get to sleep, sleeping only about 6 hours, and wake up and start it all over again. You think that I would have some time on Saturdays… well, I work 12 hours also on that day which includes my second job. Add to this that my eldest son now attends a charter high school where he is only on campus two days a week and the rest of the time is independent study. It is my job to keep him on track and task, and help him with his home studies. Thankfully there is light at the end of the tunnel, in that the restaurant will finally open sometime next week, and my wife will not have to spend any more time training the front-end staff. She has been training over 80 individuals (servers, bussers, hosts) on all the points of fine dining service.

There are so many things to talk about.

Recently, Zane Hodges wrote an article in the Grace Evangelical Society newsletter addressing many people’s tendency in Christianity to test one’s profession in the Lord Jesus Christ by their adherence to various and arbitrary orthodox doctrines. This he calls ‘doctrinal legalism’. He did a great job of arguing (quite simply, by the way) that their touchstone passage (1 Cor 15:1ff) does not serve the purpose they have projected upon it. I highly recommend this article! You must read it!

I simply cannot do the article justice in a review, for the article is only two pages long, short enough for you to read under 8 minutes, and I would ask you to be the judge. If you want to be mailed this current newsletter, please call (972) 257-1160 and ask for one to be speedily sent out to you, and you can be signed up to be on their free mailing list.

I have been very busy, tired – and a bit burnt out from blogging. Yet I feel as though Zane’s article, the few recent phone conversations that I have had with Zane and Bob Wilkin, and some encouragement from the Lord has blown some more wind into my sails. I plan on writing and publishing something this week which will address current issues in Free Grace Theology.

Ok, ok! I can’t help myself. I will just give a couple of sentences from Zane’s article:

… recently another form of legalism… has achieved a heightened profile. This [theology] maintains that eternal salvation is by “correct doctrinal conviction.” It is not enough to simply believe that Jesus Christ gives us eternal life when we believe in Him for that. We must also believe certain orthodox doctrines which go along with such belief. But these doctrines are not in themselves identical with believing in Jesus Christ for eternal life. Instead these beliefs form a kind of checklist that measures the validity of one’s faith. [emphasis mine] I call this form of legalism theological legalism [emphasis his]. Basically it is salvation for the orthodox![emphasis mine]

Theological legalism [emphasis his] seeks to co-opt Free Grace theology. Indeed, it masquerades as this kind of theology. But this claim is false. [In this form of legalism] [g]race is not given freely to the sinner who believes in Jesus for eternal life. Instead, grace is denied to that sinner unless he subscribes to the relevant theological propositions [emphasis mine]. A recent book entitled Getting the Gospel Wrong prescribes five core essentials that one must believe to get eternal life. If a person fails to believe even one of the five, he has believed a gospel that cannot save him.

But at this point obvious problems emerge. Who determines which theological doctrines are necessary for eternal salvation? The Bible, we are told. But where in the Bible? No single place, we are told. Who then determines what the definitive list contains? The answer, of course, boils down to this: the theological legalist himself! Because if the legalist himself doesn’t tell us, no one will ever figure it out!

[Zane C. Hodges, The Hydra’s Other Head: Theological Legalism, The Grace Evangelical Society’s Grace in Focus September/October 2008

I read today someone from New Tribes Missions who wrote a brief response to Zane’s article. What I found did not contain any thoughtful response to Zane’s arguments, but an appeal to emotion. What I have found in this conversation from the other side is much too much emotion. This type of dialogue does not have any substantive profit... it only poisons the well (which often times it seems constructed for that specific goal!).

The Lord is using Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, and the Grace Evangelical Society to expose the errors of our Free Grace brothers and sisters who demand doctrinal conformity as a condition for eternal life rather than only simple faith in the glorious Savior for the gift He so desires to give men and women.

Let us not garble our message by ad hoc inclusion of sundry and arbitrary doctrines in our invitations for the lost to receive eternal life. Let us simply call upon them to entrust their eternal destinies into the able hands of Christ by simple faith.

Praise the Lord for such simplicity and graciousness!