By Roger Fankhauser, DMin
I just recently read from a non-free-grace person that the Free Grace position only requires someone to believe in certain propositions about Jesus to receive eternal life. The writer is almost – but not quite – right. However, “not quite right” changes the argument from a valid criticism to a straw man argument. If the writer were correct, then the object of our faith would be limited to statements about Jesus or historical events about Jesus.
The object of our faith is Jesus. Jesus said it (“whosoever believes in me”, John 3:16); Paul said it (“that we might be justified by faith in Christ”, Gal. 2:16).
Almost all evangelicals say this. (I would say “all”, but as soon as I do, someone would point out an exception!) Free-Grace evangelicals; Reformed evangelicals consistently define the object of saving faith as Jesus. We might disagree about what one must know about this Jesus or about the impact that faith in Jesus “must” have on life, but, at the core, the object of our faith is Jesus.
So where does believing the veracity of certain propositions come in? Those propositions tell us about Jesus. They define who He is and what He has done. They point us to the person who is unknowable apart from “propositional truth”. I live two thousand years and half-a-world away from the historical Jesus. I cannot know with certainty who He is and what He has done apart from propositional truth. So it is true that I must believe certain proposition about Jesus, but ultimately justification comes by faith in the person of the one of whom the propositional truths speak.
Part of the FGA covenant says this:
· The sole means of receiving the free gift of eternal life is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whose substitutionary death on the cross fully satisfied the requirement for our justification.
· Faith is a personal response, apart from our works, whereby we are persuaded that the finished work of Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection, has delivered us from condemnation and guaranteed our eternal life.
We receive eternal life by faith IN the Lord Jesus Christ. The rest of the statements are propositional truths about Jesus.
Don’t confuse the object of our faith – Jesus – with the truths about Jesus – propositional truth. Keep it clear in our teaching, preaching, and writing. It’s faith alone IN Christ alone!
P.S. – I did not, and will not, identify the non-Free Grace person. I will say that he is a well known theologian and he wrote the words in February of this year! Identifying him would distract from my main point.