Tag Archives: hyper-grace

Straw Men

“My friend over there does not believe you.  He does not think you can do what you say.  I believe you, but he does not.  He says he has twenty dollars that he will bet against you.  Do you want his bet?”

With these words the speaker prodded the soldier into trying to stick his sword into the wall from ten paces.  He put twenty dollars on the table and threw his sword.  When it didn’t stick, he said loudly that he wanted another chance.  The little man ran over to his friend and came back with the word that another twenty dollar bet would be granted.  But again the sword did not stick.  The soldier wanted another chance and laid another twenty on the table.  Again he failed to stick the sword. 

The little man snatched up the twenty dollars again and said, “My friend thinks you are a liar.”

With that the soldier gave way to his anger and charged the friend who sat in the dark corner of the bar.  But the stranger did not stand or flinch.  And when the soldier saw him clearly the truth was revealed.  The “friend” was made of straw.  Just a form of a man in a dark corner.  The little man, however, was nowhere to be found.

Straw men cause a lot of problems, don’t they?  They seem to be everywhere, in almost any argument.  You hear from them in church complaints: “A lot of people I talk to think . . . .”  You hear from them in gossip: “Did you hear that there is someone in the church who . . .?”  You even hear from them in doctrinal disputes:  “Those people believe . . . .”  But when you look for them, they aren’t really there.

Sometimes the straw men are just lies.  But sometimes they are distractions that allow a person to make a point while you are upset about something else.  And sometimes they are unrepresentative samples used to discredit a whole group.  This last one is what I have been seeing lately.  Find someone who believes what you are against, someone with strange ideas and teachings, and use that person to discredit others who hold remotely similar teachings.

Here’s what I mean: I know of a very small group of people who embrace the grace message and engage in offensive behavior.  These folks like to get drunk, think cussing is cool, and flirt with the most aberrant ideas of doctrine.  Then they write about loving the Lord and being thankful for His grace.  So the people who write against “hyper-grace” use them as examples of why the grace message is wrong.

I just listened to one young man explain why he believes the Biblical message about Satan is outdated and no longer applicable for our day.  He happens to believe almost the same as I do about grace.  But are we the same?  Suggesting that the grace message is discredited because of this man’s errors is a straw man fallacy.  It is no different from bigotry against a certain group of people because of the behavior of a few who happen to be part of that group.

The grace message—the teaching that the work of Jesus Christ is sufficient and complete for our salvation—is firmly supported by the Scriptures.  Any addition to the work of Jesus, any requirement that you or I are supposed to do in order to get saved or stay saved, is error.  No matter how far someone who believes this strays from the truth in other ways, their heresy or nonsense does not negate the truth of God’s grace.

Now, to be fair, using straw men is wrong when we do it as well.  If I watch a group of legalistic church people sneak into the bar in another city and listen to them tell dirty jokes and get drunk, and then suggest that this is what all legalists are like, I would be wrong.  Every idea has proponents who do not represent the whole.

Let’s talk about real issues and stay away from straw men.

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Filed under Grace definition, Legalism, Theology and mystery



It is interesting that those who accuse us of a doctrine of “hyper-grace” don’t also accuse us of “hyper-love.”  After all, the whole understanding of the gospel is about the love of God.  Grace is simply the means God uses to act on His love.

But, of course, we are accused of going “over the top” about love, aren’t we?  I was recently in a discussion with someone who wanted me to admit that there are limits to God’s love.  When I wanted him to delineate those limits, he couldn’t.  He just wanted to be sure that I left room for God’s anger, wrath, and hatred.  Those things were important to him and I wasn’t talking about them enough.

Now, let me say at the outset that I see the anger of God in the Bible.  I see His wrath and even hatred.  But it isn’t pointed at individuals.  It is pointed at sin.

There’s a great story in 2 Chronicles 33 and 2 Kings 21about a man named Manasseh.  This man was king in Jerusalem after Hezekiah, his father, died.  He was very bad.  He led the people away from the Lord in ways others had not.  He even sacrificed his own children in the fire.  He shed innocent blood throughout Judah.  Eventually, the Lord sent the Assyrians to capture Manasseh and take him into captivity.

And God said He was angry.  In 2 Kings 21, God says that Manasseh had provoked Him to anger.  The Lord tried to reach out to Manasseh, but he wouldn’t listen.  So, with hooks in his nose, Manasseh went into bondage.

Now, how would it have helped for the prophets of God to come to Manasseh, while he was in bondage, to tell him how much God hated him?  Suppose they had told Manasseh of the wrath of God against him and the anger God felt as He looked at Manasseh.  Would that have helped?  Or would that have driven Manasseh farther away?

Instead, when Manasseh was suffering and broken, when his sins had brought him to the lowest place of his life, he cried out to the Lord.  For some reason, he thought God might hear him and forgive.  And that’s exactly what God did!  He not only forgave Manasseh, but He brought him back to Jerusalem and set him up again as king of Judah.  Amazing Love!

You see, that little story, hidden in the back rooms of Scripture, is not a story of the anger of God, but a story of the love of God.  It was love that moved the heart of God to send Manasseh into captivity.  It was love that moved the heart of God to forgive and restore Manasseh.  This was likely the most cruel and evil king who ever sat on Jerusalem’s throne, yet God loved him.  He abused and killed the people, even his own children, yet God loved him.  The love of God is greater than any sin and reaches out to any sinner.

Is that a love that’s too big?  Should we tone it down a little to make sure there’s room for hate and anger?  I don’t think so.  This is the love of God and it is as big as He is.

Maybe we should accept the term, “hyper-grace.”  If grace is the working out of the love of God for us, then it would have to be over the top, bigger than anything.  If grace proceeds from the love of God, then nothing can even pretend to balance it, counter it, or soften it.

Maybe hyper-grace is the natural result of hyper-love.

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Filed under Grace 101, heart, Relationship


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.


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