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
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.