It would be an endless task to list various doctrines in Scripture that are controversial—perseverance of the saints, original sin, judgment, hell, suffering. I could go on, but I propose that GRACE is the most offensive doctrine in Scripture. How could I make such a ridiculous statement? Everyone loves GRACE. Every Christian Church and quasi-Christian religion has some kind of doctrine of GRACE. We love when people show us GRACE. We say GRACE before we eat. We even name our daughters GRACE.
Biblical grace is a scandal. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9 NASB95). People love the general idea of grace as an aid to their shortcomings, but salvation, start to finish, is all of grace. This is an essential doctrine misunderstood by most and hated by many. Since Adam’s fall, the religion of man has been that of a chorus of backup singers (DO, DO, DO, DO, DO, DO, DO, DO, DO); however, Biblical Christianity is the religion of DONE. Think of every religion that comes to mind. Islam—do this list of things and hope Allah is in a good mood. Hinduism—do these good things so you’ll be reincarnated as something good. Mormonism—God gives grace after all you can do. Modern Judaism—do your best to follow the Law of Moses. Roman Catholicism—you get an infusion of grace by doing this list of sacraments (official doctrine from the Council of Trent says anyone believing they are saved through faith alone is damned). Secularism—do as your told to believe so you don’t believe something else (this might be the most militant religion of our day).
Biblical Christianity says we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone according to Scripture alone to the glory of God alone. Some define grace as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. That is true. Some define grace as unmerited favor. This is true, but only half of the story. I’m not sure who coined the phrase demerited favor, but this is grace. Not just getting what we haven’t merited, but getting everything that Christ earned by His active and passive obedience despite the fact that we have spent our entire lives as enemies of God—demerited favor.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:1-7 NASB95)
Dead according to Ephesians, ungodly and enemies according to Romans. This is scandalous to the fallen human mind. We want credit. We want what we’ve earned. We want the glory that belongs to God alone. Even many genuine believers have animosity against such free grace as described by the Old and New Testaments. “All of grace will lead to licentiousness.” “All of grace, but what about obedience?” “All of grace eliminates human responsibility.” Ask your average Christian for his or her testimony. It will normally start with I. “I asked Jesus into my heart.” “I walked down front.” “I prayed a prayer.” “I made a decision.” “I signed a card.” Most testimonies have more I’s than a dragonfly (28,000 eyes according to google). If salvation is all of grace, then I am never the active one, God is. Christ died for me (Rom 5). The Father chose me (John 6). The Spirit regenerated me (Eph 1). He opened my eyes (Mat 9). He made me a new creature (2 Cor 5). He is the active one, and salvation is all to His glory.
Even those who give lip service to God’s freedom to choose make it seem as if He’s “lucky” to get them on His team. “God looked down the corridors of time and saw that I would have faith in Him.” A certain theologian compared God choosing sinners to you choosing meat at the grocery store. He only picks the best after all. If God looked down the corridors of time and saw that I would choose Him, then He learned something. The all-knowing One cannot learn or else He isn’t God. If He chose you because you are “choice meat,” then it is not by grace, it is by merit. For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” (Gal 3:10 NASB95). There are no “choice meats.” All of the descendants of Adam are rotting, putrid, disobedient roadkill who can only be made alive by a gracious God causing them to be born-again. This is why grace, at best is misunderstood by many, and is despised by others. Man thinks he needs no grace, or maybe just a little.
Your sweet little old grandmother needs the same redeeming grace as the mass murderer. That is scandalous. That is why the biblical doctrine of grace is hated by many. Do you know your greatest need? You need grace, the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the electing grace of the Father, the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit. Do you see yourself as prime rib or roadkill? Do you think God is “lucky” to have you or can you truly sing with John Newton.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.
Jesus Christ, the second member of the Godhead, became a man, born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, died the death that you deserve on the Cross, was buried, rose on the Third Day, and ascended to the right hand of the Father. He will come again.
The most offensive doctrine in the Bible is grace because it attacks the pride of man. James 4:6 tells us, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
This grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.
Soli Deo Gloria