[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Time-Share Industry and 'Free' Grace

by Antonio da Rosa

The following is a small sample of my new article at Free Grace Theology Blog. It comes from the article, How to Lead People to Christ, Installment #2: The 'Deserted Island' Scenario.

If you would like to comment on this, please direct them to Free Grace Theology Blog under that thread heading.

As a proponent of Free Grace Theology, I believe that eternal life is the Gift of God. It is not a barter between man and God, nor is it a two way transaction, nor are there required preconditions attached. A gift, legitimately spoken of, does not require anything of the recipient but its reception.

The Time-Share Industry and ‘Free’ Gifts
My sister used to work in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico, selling time-share. She still has friends in this industry. When she was up a few months ago, she gave me a brochure that offered me a 'free' gift: an all included 4-night stay in a hotel in Cabo San Lucas. But there were catches. I had to be of a certain annual income, and I had to submit to a multi-hour meeting pitching the sales of time-share in Cabo San Lucas.

Was the vacation offered a genuine free gift? I do not believe so. There is a type of barter and two-way transaction going on here, as well as a required pre-condition. In exchange for a person’s time and attention at a multi-hour sales pitch meeting, he is given a 4-night vacation. Furthermore, in order to even be eligible for this exchange, one has to meet the condition of being at a certain level of affluence; his annual income must be at the predetermined amount.

It is my contention that well meaning traditional Free Grace theology people would be inconsistent if they did not consider this vacation a genuine free gift. Why? This scenario illustrates their doctrine of soteriology, in which they claim to be adherents of a free grace. But is their doctrine truly free grace?

One is not able to simply receive the free gift of eternal life in traditional Free Grace theology. There are preconditions to be met, which sets up a two-way transaction and barter for eternal life. In the following table we see the barter between God and man

Man’s ExchangeGod’s Exchange
1. Strict Adherence to a Number of Orthodox Doctrines
  a) The Deity of Christ (along with subpoints)
  b) The Substitutionary Death of Christ for Sins (along with subpoints)
  c) The Bodily Resurrection of Christ (along with subpoints)
  d) The Humanity of Christ (along with subpoints)
  e) [Apparent Contradiction] Salvation is by Grace Alone in Jesus Christ Alone

2. Must Not Hold to Any Fatal Unorthodox Doctrines
  a) A Subjective Range
  b) Will result in one believing in a “different Jesus”

3. Must Not Deny the Essential Orthodox Doctrines
  a) A Subjective Range
  b) Will result in one believing in a “different Jesus”
If man’s conditions and items necessary for exchange are submitted and in order God will perform His end of the transaction:
Give Eternal Life

Just like the time-share companies, traditional Free Grace people require more to appropriating eternal life than simply receiving a free gift. This is not Free Grace Theology! Like the precondition of the time-share industry (being at a certain income level) which qualifies one for a vacation, the traditional Free Grace people have their preconditions, requiring one to be a type of orthodox fundamentalist before they are qualified for eternal life. Unless one be at some subjective level of orthodoxy (to be determined by the traditional evangelist, as you ask 10 of them what are the specific requirements and you get 11 different answers), he is no candidate for salvation.

It is as if the Scriptures do not say anymore, "And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely" (Rev 22:17), but, "And let him who is orthodox come. Whoever meets these preconditions of orthodoxy, let him trade this allegiance for the water of life."

Let us make this point clearly:

The legitimate offer of a free gift comes with no other requirement but to simply receive it. This is essentially what free grace is! The conditions placed upon the lost by well-meaning, but erroneous, traditional Free Grace people are unnecessary caveats, provisos, and codicils in the saving transaction. The requirement of these things may indeed frustrate God's grace, and preclude people from eternal salvation (not to mention assurance!).

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