Hyper-grace?

There have been several articles lately referring to the idea some call “hyper-grace.”  It appears to me that the discussion started with an article in Charisma magazine and has branched out to other venues and teachers.  I may take a stab at answering some of their criticisms in future posts, but I would like to discuss this word, “hyper-grace.”

It is a negative word, meant to put people down.  The prefix “hyper” comes from a Greek word that means “over.”  Someone who is hyper-critical is overly critical.  A thyroid gland that is hyper, is over- producing.  The idea is that it is too much, more than necessary, more than what is good.

When connected to the idea of grace, the word apparently means “over the top grace” or simply “too much grace.”  But can you have too much grace?  How does that make sense?

There have been those who have said that we must maintain a certain level of law or performance in our message.  Maybe 90% grace is okay.  Maybe 80%.  After all, grace is nice; but there are still rules and expectations and sins to deal with in life.  Even in the Christian life.  We are still responsible for teaching believers how to behave.

I believe and teach that everything God does for us is grace.  Grace is the activity of His love.  Law, I suppose, is what God asks of us.  That certainly fits with the idea of Scripture and with the teaching of most of those who think that we still need to teach law.  God does His part and we do ours.  Right?

But the whole message of the gospel begins with the understanding that we have failed to do our part.  (God knew we would fail, of course.)  So the plan from the beginning was not that we would do our part and He would do His.  It was that He would do His and He would do ours!  God does His part and God does our part.

Jesus said that He had come to fulfill the law (Matt. 5:17)  Paul said that Jesus was the end of the law (Romans 10:4)   The law had become a curse for us and Christ delivered us from that curse (Gal. 3:13)  The story goes on, but the point is that God in Christ has done our part.  There is nothing left for us to do but accept what He has done.

So let’s think about this word again.  If it is all grace—salvation, justification, righteousness, glory, Heaven—and we have done nothing (law) to achieve any of it, then how can any teaching of grace be over the top?  If grace goes all the way to the top, how can it be wrong to go all the way with it?  There is no such thing as
“hyper-grace.”

Now, I know there is error taught among some of the grace teachers.  There is also error taught among the law teachers.  That’s the way things are and always have been.  Error does not negate truth.  Error simply exposes lack of understanding or compromised motives in expressing truth.

When someone comes against what you believe with words like “hyper-grace” or “cheap grace” or even “antinomianism” (yeah, you probably won’t have to worry about that one), remember that this was the basic charge leveled against Jesus by the Pharisees and Paul by the religious leaders of the Jews.  The idea that God would do it all, that we would be saved and kept saved entirely by His initiative and action, goes so strongly against what the legalist teaches that he has to attack with false charges and nasty words.

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones said it so well:

There is thus clearly a sense in which the message of "justification by faith only" can be dangerous, and likewise with the message that salvation is entirely of grace. . . . I say therefore that if our preaching does not expose us to that charge and to that misunderstanding, it is because we are not really preaching the gospel.

For the whole quote, which is worth reading, go to this page.

Just because some don’t understand or some misuse the teaching of grace doesn’t make it wrong.  In fact, understanding grace makes everything right.

10 Comments

Filed under Grace 101, Grace definition, Legalism, Theology and mystery

10 responses to “Hyper-grace?

  1. I’ve recently come up against this term of “hyper-grace”. Rather silly I think. But I so agree with your article and the quote from Lloyd-Jones. Folks get scared when they realize that God’s grace is infinite and free and oh so wonderful. That’s when the “but’s” come out.

  2. Since there are no limits on grace it seems clear that we are called to LOVE with boldness. Given your Friday topic it is mind owing that even for the most difficult souls that grace is available, should that soul repent and turn to God as the source of all life. Bearing that in mind I am aware how much the church (and I , for that matter) need to grow in our capacity for mercy towards other grace- seekers. A huge part of grace is being able to extend it as well as receive it.

  3. Prairiemom

    Hmm… I think the term hyper-grace is fitting of what our Lord has done for us in His love. Who else in all of history has done or could do what He has done for us? I was a hyper-sinner, hyper-lost, hyper-dead, hyper-separated from my Father. I don’t think anything short of hyper-grace would have rescued me. I am hyper-grateful!

    “Hyper-grace.” I like it. To me, it means a grace that is set apart, not man-made, infinitely bigger and better than any other kind of grace we can imagine, totally sufficient . It fits, don’t you think? Thanks for the new word. I’m definitely going to borrow it often :-).

  4. Still Processing

    Prariemom, I love your take on this!

  5. HYPERGRACE is an unbiblical word invented by Christians who seem fearful that other Christians are having too much fun!

  6. Repol

    I’ve never heard the term, but this description certainly sounds like what I was accused of, in loving (befriending, encouraging, showing hospitality, supporting with my time and finances) across ages and genders within the Body.
    And when I would counter with the story of the Good Samaritan (who was right? The ones who crossed over to keep themselves “clean”?) and Galatians 3:28, and all the arguments about genuine, brotherly love coming from a heart purified and a mind renewed, I got the “Yeah, BUT…” answers.
    Hearing and believing should produce obedience, not legalistic conformity to man-made rules. Obedience to, as Katherine said, love BOLDLY seems to me to be the appropriate response to a grace that establishes such certainty in our relationship to God that we can never be lost from him.
    I’m trying to rebuild my confidence in that truth, so I can be, again, who he made me to be.

  7. Fellow Survivor

    I like Hyper-Grace. I need Hyper-Grace. Without accepting it, I am doomed. But I’m not doomed because I am loved by my Father in ways I still can’t fathom. It is really beyond my understanding. I love my child and would do anything for her, carry any burden, suffer any insult, pay any price for her. If I am willing to do that for my child, how much more will God do for me? I am a bug, He is not.

    Guys, this struggle has just about worn me out. I married a woman that I truly loved but I am just about at the point where I just have to let go. I just hate that term “let it go”. When people say that to me it just drives me nuts. Just “let go” of 25 years of relationship in a week like they did? Just writing this paragraph makes me sick, knowing someone can throw away 25 years without a second thought. But, at some point we MUST let it go. I am getting closer but I still don’t like it. 25 years like it never happened. Its hard, its really hard.

    I went to church with my daughter this morning and then to lunch. I have my 35th high school reunion in a couple weeks and my daughter asked if I “might” see any of my old high school girlfriends. She knows her mom is up to no good and I think that was a hint that it is OK with her for me to “Move on and let it go”.

    I am not there yet, but it is inevitable. A new life awaits me without her. That is just the fact of life The cruelty I suffered for the benefit of the marriage was just meaningless. Well, maybe not meaningless. My baby is 17 now and drives so she is much more capable of handling this nonsense than she would have been at 11.

    Thank you all for listening to my rants. I just got to get it out somewhere . When I stop posting you will know that I am healed.

    • Repol

      I hope you don’t stop posting even when you are healed. I just hope your posting turns more and more to confident encouragement, like Katherine is now able to offer. Others need you. Nothing that happens to one in the Body of Christ is for that person along. The many other members will, I hope, benefit in some way from your situation, and I hope from mine as well. God doesn’t do futility.

      It is insane to throw away 25 years. You are right to feel like it is impossible to let it go so quickly. It isn’t supposed to be this way, and yet, it is this way. I hope you do find the life and companionship that is the way things are supposed to be.

      I had a brief meeting yesterday with an old friend, an unbeliever, but also a woman who lived for years in a verbally abusive relationship with a narcissistic husband. He had a long-term affair, but was able to always slip and slide away from being caught for almost a decade. She finally divorced and now she is remarried, and she speaks of finally seeing what marriage was supposed to be like. She is happy. I am happy for her. If it is God’s plan for you to find someone else, I pray it comes to fruition for you, in his good timing and in your healing process. It’s wonderful that your daughter is supportive too. I have a hard time imagining my children ever understanding. They are still young, but even so. I can’t imagine how their perspectives are shaped.

  8. our-man-T

    Excellent answer to the hypergrace critics. Stuck in the blend of legalism /grace for so long and it still dogs me at times. Bouncing around with a Loving God, then an angry God. Feelings of Unworthiness destroying peace. Leaving me feeling I would go insane. No joy or victory in that. Went through one marriage after 23yrs. Pushed out of family business by my brothers and sisters after 25Yrs. Redeemed by my Savior after 50 yrs. Yes we all need hyperlove and hypergrace. Some just “know it” more than others. For those of you who have, and are suffering, may the Lord Bless you and keep you, and give you back the years the moths have eaten as His face shines down upon you. May it be so. In Jesus Name. Amen

  9. our-man-T

    Excellent article. Thank – you.

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