Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #1080 MP3 Audio File Video File

Berean Distinctives Pt. 1: Free Grace

Various Scriptures

Delivered 09/05/21

For the next several weeks I'm going to be teaching on the distinctive doctrines held by Berean Bible Church. The word "distinctive" means characteristic of one person or thing, and so serving to distinguish it from others. So, for the next several weeks we will be looking at the doctrines that Berean Bible Church holds that distinguish us from mainstream Christianity.

These teachings that we're going to be talking about are just our distinctives. The other doctrines that we hold are normative to evangelical Christianity (e.g., the inspiration of Scripture). We believe that all the scripture is verbally inspired as originally written and therefore is infallible and inerrant (II Timothy 3:16, 17; I Peter 1:21; Matthew 5:18; I Corinthians 2:13). The Bible is the very Word of God. We cannot accept the misleading statement: "The Bible contains the Word of God."

We believe that the living and true God, Yahweh, exists in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19, II Corinthians 13:14). The Father is God (I Corinthians 8:6); the Son is God Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1, 14; Hebrews 1:8-10); and the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3, 4).

We believe that the Lord Yeshua Christ was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38). We believe that Christ rose bodily from the dead and ascended unto God the Father (Matthew 28; Mark 16; I Corinthians 15; Romans 1:4).

We believe that all men are born with an inherited depraved nature and are lost sinners in need of salvation (Romans 3:9-19; Ephesians 2:1-3).

We believe that men are saved and justified when they recognize themselves as sinners and put their trust in Christ as the Son of God and His finished work on the cross of Calvary. Salvation is by grace through faith plus nothing (Romans 3:24 and 4:5; Ephesians 2:8, 9).

Those are pretty much the basic doctrines of the evangelical Church. Beyond those doctrines, there are five distinctive doctrines that Berean Bible Church holds to. I am going to cover these in what I believe are their order of importance.

This morning we are going to deal with the doctrine of Free Grace. Now, you might be thinking what is so distinctive about that? Grace is obviously free. Yes, it is. But when I say Free Grace, I am indicating opposition to the teaching of Lordship Salvation.

The issue here is one of soteriology. Soteriology comes from two Greek terms: soter, meaning "savior," and logos, meaning "word, reason, or principle." Soteriology is the study of the doctrine of salvation. Soteriology discusses how Christ's death secures the salvation of those who believe. It helps us to understand the doctrines of redemption, justification, sanctification, propitiation, and the substitutionary atonement.

Within the professing church, there are two main views of soteriology—Arminian and Calvinist. An Arminian is someone who thinks that man is responsible in the decision of salvation. He believes that the individual makes the choice as to whether to be saved or not. On the other hand, a Calvinist is someone who believes that salvation is of the Lord. He assets that it is God who chooses who will be saved. Within evangelical churches, there is ongoing debate on the issue of salvation. Is it by a choice of man's free will or of God's sovereign choice alone?

Within these two views are two other views that can be called Lordship salvation and the Free Grace position. I believe that most Calvinists and Arminians hold to the Lordship view, but among Calvinists and Arminians, are those who hold to a Free Grace position.

Which of these views (if any) does the Bible teach? Which of these theological positions is a biblical Soteriology? We, as believers, need to hold a theological position; we need a framework or grid to filter things through. And this grid or framework must be formed from a diligent study of the Bible. All theology must come from exegesis, in other words, out of the text of the Bible. When we take our theology and force it onto a text, we are performing eisegesis or reading something into the Scriptures. We must allow the Bible to speak and then shape our theology from the Scripture. If you find that the Scriptures go against your theology, change your theology.

Let's examine these views in light of Scripture.

We at Berean hold to a Calvinistic soteriology. We'll talk more about this next week, but within Calvinism there are two views that are very important and very different. We want to spend our time this morning looking at these two views.

The Lordship View. This is probably the most widely accepted of the views among reformed thinkers. Those who hold to Lordship theology believe that if a person is truly a Christian, he MUST live a righteous obedient life. Without this practical righteousness, there is no reason for a person to consider himself to be a Christian.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his commentary on the "Sermon on the Mount," says this: "Nothing is more dangerous than to rely only upon a correct belief and a fervent spirit, and to assume that, as long as you believe the right things and are zealous and keen and active concerning them, you are therefore of necessity a Christian."

Do you see what he is saying? Being a Christian is more than just believing the right things; you must have obedience. He is not alone in this view.

According to Lordship Salvation, saving faith includes submission and obedience. Richard Belcher says, "True saving faith includes in it a submission to the Lordship of Christ." Another Lordship proponent says, "Saving faith is trust in Christ Himself. It is a commitment of self in submission to all of Christ that is revealed." John MacArthur contends that "Saving faith, then, is the whole of my being embracing all of Christ. Faith cannot be divorced from commitment." He also says, "The true test of faith is this, does it produce obedience? If not, it is not saving faith." Bailey Smith asserts, "Saving faith is not mere intellectual assent, but it involves an act of submission on our part."

So those who hold to the Lordship view would say that true Christians live a life characterized by obedience to all that the Father has commanded.

Please get this: Yeshua is the only person who ever lived in complete obedience to the Father. All other men have sinned. The only reason that any person can get into heaven is because Yeshua's obedience is imputed to his account by faith.

For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.  Romans 5:19 ESV

The Greek word for "made" is kathistemi. It means "to set down in the rank of, or to place in the category of, to appoint to a particular class." The word "made" is not causative but declarative. Those in Adam were declared sinners. It is imperative that we understand this. "For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners." He doesn't say "made sinful" but "made sinners."

The whole human race has been constituted legally as sinners. That is our judicial standing before God. And it is based entirely and solely on Adam's one act of disobedience. God decreed that the whole of humanity should be represented by the first man and should suffer the consequences of that man's actions. We all sinned in Adam and with Adam because he was our federal head or representative, and, therefore, God pronounced all to be sinners.

That is one side, but thank God there is another side to the parallel: "so"—the great truth that we see here is that all we are and have comes out of the obedience of the last Adam—the Lord Yeshua the Christ. Our salvation is based entirely on Him, and from Him, and in Him. As my being a sinner came entirely from Adam, all my righteousness comes entirely from the Lord Yeshua, the Christ.

Your assurance of salvation comes not from your feelings but from understanding your identity. Look at yourself in Adam. Though you had done nothing, you were declared a sinner. Look at yourself in Christ, and you see that though you have done nothing, you are declared to be righteous. That is the parallel. We must get rid of all thoughts of our actions as far as gaining or keeping salvation. We are made righteous because of the obedience of Yeshua and Yeshua alone! Yeshua the Christ lived a sinless life in total obedience to the law of God and then died a substitutionary death on our behalf.

"The many will be made righteous"—the people whom the Father has given to Christ are "made" righteous. The word "made" is kathistemi. It means: "to set down in the rank of, or to place in the category of, to appoint to a particular class." The word has the same meaning and the same force on both sides of the parallel. We are made righteous on the grounds of Christ's obedience alone.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV

Positionally, in my standing before God, I am completely righteous and totally obedient because I am in Christ! Christ's obedience and righteousness have been imputed to my account. That is my position or standing. But when men talk about obedience being necessary to enter heaven, they are referring to practical obedience.

John MacArthur writes

"Hell is undoubtedly full of people who did not actively oppose Jesus Christ but simply drifted into damnation by neglecting to respond to the gospel. Such people are in view in Hebrews 2:1-4. They are aware of the good news of salvation provided by Jesus Christ but aren't willing to commit their lives to Him" [The Superiority Of Christ, p. 80].

Why does he say these people aren't believers? What do they lack? Commitment? John MacArthur gives this story to illustrate his point:

I will never forget a particular lady who came into my office and informed me that she was a prostitute. She said, "I need help; I'm desperate." So, I presented the claims of Christ to her. Then I said, "Would you like to invite Jesus Christ into your life?" She said, "Yes, and she prayed." I said, "Now, I want you to do something. Do you have your book with all your contacts?" She said she did. I said, "Let's light a match to it and burn it." She looked at me and said, "What do you mean?" I said, "If you want to live for Jesus Christ, and you've truly accepted His forgiveness and met Him as your Savior, then you need to prove it." She said to me, "That book is worth a lot of money. I don't want to burn it." She put it back in her purse and looked me right in the eye and said, "I guess I don't really want Jesus, do I?" Then she left.

When it came down to counting the cost, she wasn't ready. I don't know what the outcome of that poor woman has been. I do know that she knew the facts and believed them, but she was not willing to make the sacrifice [The Superiority Of Christ p. 84].

Does a person need to commit his life, count the cost and sacrifice to be saved?

The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.  Revelation 22:17 ESV

Does that sound like a call to commitment or sacrifice to you? If commitment or sacrifice is involved, how much is needed? How obedient do we have to be? How much do we have to sacrifice? Is 80% good enough? Is it 90%? Or maybe 95% obedience? We know that it's not 100% obedience because nobody does that. Nobody.

How much obedience is enough? Nobody can answer that question, therefore,  we can never know if we are doing enough; we never know if we are going to make it to heaven if getting to heaven is based upon our obedience.

If complete obedience to the will of God is necessary, then I think we are all in trouble. Notice what Paul said.

For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.  1 John 3:11 ESV

We are commanded in Scripture to love each other. And that looks like this:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV

Will a person perish who is not loving? He is not being obedient! Do you see how complicated it gets when you require obedience as a necessary element of salvation?

The Lordship view has become very widespread in the church today, but is it biblical? There are three things at issue here: (A) The Nature of faith; (B) The relationship between faith and assurance; and (C) The effect of salvation. In other words, the debate centers around three critical questions:  What must a person do to be saved?  What must a person do to know he is saved?  How will salvation show itself in one's life?

A. The Nature of Faith, or What must a person do to be saved? What exactly is saving faith? Saving faith is understanding and assenting to the propositions of the Gospel. It is not some special kind of faith in the sense that its quality or essence is different from other kinds of faith. There are not different kinds of faith; there are just different objects of faith.

We all know what faith is. For example, if I said, "He told me the check is in the mail, and I believed him," are you going to ask me if I believed with my head or with my heart? Of course not! You understand what I mean when I say that I believed him. But when it comes to Christianity, we look for some other understanding of faith. Faith is faith whether it be in Christianity or mathematics. Saving faith is taking God at His Word. It is believing what God has said.

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Romans 4:20-21 ESV

God made Abraham a promise, and Abraham believed Him. That is faith. He believed that God would do what He said He would.

If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:9-13 ESV

Verse 9 is saying that if we accept human testimony, how much more can we accept God's testimony? It's not that the faith that receives it is greater, but the testimony is greater, it's more reliable.

If I believe God's testimony about His Son, I receive God's righteousness and have everlasting life. I'm not saying that everyone who says he is a Christian is one. It seems like everybody in this country thinks he is a Christian. I was talking to a man who told me that he was a Christian. I asked him, "If you were to die right now and stand before God and He asked you 'Why should I let you into heaven', what would you tell Him? He said, 'I'm not sure, I haven't been to confession lately.'" This man, though he said he was a Christian, had no clue of what the Bible taught about salvation. I proceeded to share the Gospel with him. He was very interested in what I had to share.

The Lordship view has redefined saving faith, so it's more than just taking God at His word. To them, saving faith involves surrender, commitment, submission, repentance, and sacrifice. These additions are both linguistically invalid and biblically invalid. Faith is simply believing.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.  John 3:36 ESV

The word translated "does not obey" in the ESV and NASV and "does not believe" in the KJV and the NKJV is the verb apeitheo. The leading Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, by Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker, makes a very insightful comment about apeitheo which sheds light on John 3:36.

Since in the view of the early Christians, the supreme disobedience was a refusal to believe their gospel, apeitheo may be restricted in some passages to the meaning disbelieve, be an unbeliever (BAGD, p.82).

A person who trusts in Christ alone, obeys completely the will of the Father to believe in Yeshua the Christ alone for eternal salvation.

Augustine, who lived from A.D. 354-430 wrote, "Faith is nothing else than to think with assent." John Calvin wrote, "For as regards justification, faith is something merely passive, bringing nothing of ours to the recovering of God's favor but receiving from Christ what we lack."

Now Yeshua did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Yeshua is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30-31 ESV

"Yeshua is the Christ" —it is not the mere verbalization of this phrase that saves you. We must believe that Yeshua is the Christ, and before we can believe it, we must understand what it means.

Everyone who believes that Yeshua is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.  1 John 5:1 ESV

We must believe that Yeshua is the Christ in the Johannian sense of the term. We must understand Christ as John does. How does John understand Christ?

Yeshua said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world." John 11:25-27 ESV

In verse 27 Mary says that she believes the very thing that the Gospel of John was written to bring her to believe. In verse 26 Yeshua asks, "Do you believe this?" What is this? It is the statement about Yeshua Himself that He gives in verse 25. He tells her that He is the resurrection and life. But that's not all He asks her to believe. Yeshua is saying, "I guarantee resurrection and life to everyone who believes in Me." To believe that Yeshua is the Christ is in essence to believe that He is the guarantor of eternal life to everyone who believes. So, if I can make people understand what it means to believe that Yeshua is the Christ, they'll either believe it or they won't.

The Lordship view presents faith as if it were: "I have all the facts, and I believe them, but now I must do something with them, as though there's an extra step, an act of the will, surrender, commitment, or sacrifice." That is not biblical!

And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, Romans 4:5 ESV

Saving faith is accepting the testimony of God. Do you believe that Yeshua is the Christ? If you do, then on the testimony of scripture, you are saved; you possess everlasting life.

Benjamin Warfield, the Presbyterian who probably would not have put himself in my camp, said, "The saving power resides exclusively, not in the act of faith, or the attitude of faith, or the nature of faith, but in the object of faith."

The truth is, technically, we're not saved by faith but through faith. Faith is the instrumental means; grace is the efficient means of our salvation. We're saved by Yeshua. We're saved by His grace. We're saved through faith. You would understand what I meant if I said to you, "I put the fire out with the hose." Now hoses don't put out fires. But hoses are the channels for water that puts the fire out. The hose is the instrumental means; the water is the efficient means. Faith is the instrumental means by which we are able to access our salvation through Yeshua the Christ.

John Robbins, in the foreword of Gordon Clark's book, Faith and Saving Faith, writes, "Belief of the truth, nothing more and nothing less, is what separates the saved from the damned. Those who maintain that there is something more than belief, are, quite literally, beyond belief."

Let me give you a test to see if you understand this.

Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. John 12:42-43 ESV

Were these individuals saved? Were they Christians? The Lordship view would say, "No," because they did not confess Him. But the Scripture says they, "believed in Him."

Mark A. Copeland, the author of the Executable Outlines, says, "There are some who teach that as long as one believes in Jesus, they will be saved. That salvation is by 'faith only.' But there is such a thing as 'an unsaved believer.' There were some who believed in Jesus, but were not saved ­ John 12:42-43. Let no one think that just because they 'believe' in Jesus, they have a free ticket into heaven!"

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.  John 5:24 ESV

Lordship theology causes people to doubt the testimony of Scripture. Faith is believing, and believing alone makes you a Christian.

But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Yeshua the Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed. Acts 8:12-13 ESV

The words "believe and believed" are used 37 times in Acts, and they clearly refer to those who have trusted Christ and are saved.

To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."  Acts 10:43 ESV
and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.  Acts 13:39 ESV

The Word of God says that Simon believed. To say that he didn't is to question inspiration. Notice what the text in Acts goes on to say.

Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, "Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity." Acts 8:18-23 ESV

Because of Simon's actions, many say that he was not a Christian. But the Bible says that "He believed." Referring to this text, John MacArthur writes: "If that passage teaches anything…if it teaches anything at all…sakshiit surely teaches that there is such a thing as non-saving faith. Faith that does not save." If this is true, how do we know if our faith is real?

The Lordship view says: He can't be saved because there's no commitment, no sacrifice, no good works." But the Scripture says, "He believed." Now, who are you going to believe—The Bible or men?

B. The relationship between faith and assurance, or What must a person do to know he is saved?

The Lordship view teaches that assurance comes from obedience, from holy living, from your works. Martin Luther said, "For certainty does not come to me from any kind of reflection on myself and on my state. On the contrary it comes solely through hearing the word, solely because I cling to the word and its promises."

John Calvin wrote, "From one's work conscience feels more fear and consternation than assurance" [Institutes of the Christian Religion, book 3, 14,20]. John Calvin taught that assurance was of the essence of faith.

If good works are the basis of assurance, then the believer's eyes are distracted from the sufficiency of Christ and His work to meet his eternal need. His eyes are focused on himself. If I seek assurance through examining my good works, one of two things must necessarily result: (1) I will minimize the depth of my sinfulness; (2) I will see my deep sinfulness as hopelessly contrary to any conviction that I am saved.

Our assurance is to be based upon God's Word; His promise that He would give eternal life to all who believe on His Son. Assurance does not come from our works.

C. The effect of salvation, or how will salvation show itself in one's life? The Lordship view teaches that Christians can't apostatize (fall away from God); they must and will produce fruit. If heaven can't be obtained apart from obedience to God, then, logically, that obedience is a condition for getting there.

In a sermon on Romans 2:6-10, John MacArthur writes, "The life of God in the soul of man will always produce a righteous pattern. And if you have an unrighteous pattern in your life, you are fighting against the very nature God has created in you in salvation. It's like holding your breath, it's a lot harder than breathing." [John MacArthur Principles of God's Judgment Pt. 3 []

Is unrighteousness like holding your breath? Or is it more like breathing? Living a holy life is not easy; it takes constant diligence. We must live in constant dependence on God.

The Lordship view teaches that in order to be a Christian, you must do more than believe the Gospel. I see this as adding to the Gospel. It is totally unbiblical!

Free Grace View. This view teaches that a person becomes a Christian when he understands and believes the Gospel of Yeshua the Christ. At that moment, he is placed into the body of Christ, given Christ's righteousness, and indwelt by God. He is as sure of heaven as if he were already there. He is "in Christ."

Because God permanently indwells, His power is constantly available to the believer. That power will not operate in the Christian's life, however, unless he personally appropriates it by faith. Moment by moment, the believer must trust God rather than himself to give him power for victory in daily life.

God calls all believers to be disciples, but many are not willing to pay the price. Salvation is a free gift of God's grace, but discipleship is costly. Salvation is our birth in the Christian life, and discipleship is our education and maturity in the Christian life. Eternal life is a gift of grace to all who believe. But notice what Luke says about discipleship.

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.  Luke 14:33 ESV

Discipleship is a call to forsake all and follow Christ. Can this be talking about the same thing as John in John 3:16?

Just because we are saved does not mean we can live as we please and do as we wish. Grace does not give us a license to sin or constitute an excuse for carelessness. Remember, whom the Lord loves, He chastens. To live in sin will cost us temporally. Sin, any sin, all sin, will cost us in this life.

Then his master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart." Matthew 18:32-35 ESV

Jailers" here is a weak translation. The Greek is basanistes, which means "torturers." Here we see one who has been forgiven (a believer) being turned over to the torturers because of sin in his life. Verse 35 tells us that God will do the same to us if we live in sin.

What does he mean by "handed him over to the torturers?" I believe that he is referring to the physical and mental pain that God brings upon His disobedient sinning children. There are consequences for a believer who lives in sin.

What was the most messed up church in the New Testament? The Corinthian! Paul deals with many of their sins in the letters he writes to them. But notice how he addresses them.

Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Yeshua, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Yeshua, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Yeshua the Christ, both their Lord and ours: 1 Corinthians 1:1-2 ESV

"To those sanctified"—to those set apart in Christ. "Called to be saints"—is literally "saints by calling." The Corinthians are saints? They were being very divisive, were living in immorality, suing one another, getting drunk at the Lord's supper, just to name a few of their sins. Yet Paul calls them saints! Was he crazy? No! They were saints.

The word "saints" is the adjective form of the verb "sanctified." It means " to be set apart in the purpose and plan of God." The term "saint" is never associated with the quality of daily life, although this is how most people use it. We'll say, "He's a saint," referring to someone's conduct. But the Bible uses "saint" to speak of every believer. All believers are saints because positionally we are holy.

In practice, the Corinthians were gross sinners but in position, they were saints. They were saints not because of how they lived but because they were "called." This is a very significant statement. Don't miss it. The word "called" means "appointed to." We could translate this "called to belong to Christ Yeshua." And in this letter, Paul never questions their salvation. He simply tells them to quit sinning and live righteously.

What if I'm wrong? Which is always a very real possibility. And this is why you are to be Bereans and search the Scriptures to see if these things are so. What if the Free Grace view is not correct? Let's think about this. If I'm wrong, what damage could this view possibly cause? If the Free Grace view is wrong, it could cause people to think that they are saved when they're really not. It could be giving false hope to unbelievers. So what? Do you believe in election? We'll talk about this next week. Will the elect of God ever be lost? No! Will the reprobate ever be saved? No! So, in my opinion, the worst that the Free Grace view will do is give false hope to the reprobate.

If the Lordship teaching is wrong, what harm can it do? It can cause a believer to think that he is not redeemed because of sin in his life. This view can put the elect under guilt and condemnation. It can cause a believer to give up on Christianity by causing him to doubt that he is truly saved. Notice what Yeshua said about those who harm His flock.

but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.  Matthew 18:6 ESV

A millstone was used for the grinding of corn or grain. Every household had one. The household millstones were about 2 feet across and 6 inches thick. It took two women to use it. It probably weighed between 75 to 100 pounds. How would you like to go swimming with that around your neck? You get the point, right? Well, this is even stronger than you may think. The Greek word used for "great millstone" here is mulos onikos which means "a millstone belonging to a donkey." This was not the average household millstone. It was one so large that a donkey was used to turn it.

When Yeshua spoke of a millstone being hung around someone's neck and of that person being subsequently cast into the sea, He was using an illustration contemporary to His time. According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, in his Antiquities, Judas the Galilean, an early Zealot leader who had led an insurrection, was drowned in a lake in this fashion. The Roman historian, Suetonius, mentions in his De Via Caesarium, a similar punishment being inflicted in another graphic case. No doubt, the disciples had seen the drowned bodies of victims attached to millstones.

The Lordship view can hurt the church of God by causing Christians to live in guilt and doubt. But the worse that the Free Grace view does is give the reprobate false hope. As I see it, only the Lordship view is harmful to the church. We all must admit that neither of these views can change the destiny of the elect.

Continue the Series

Berean Bible Church provides this material free of charge for the edification of the Body of Christ. You can help further this work by your prayer and by contributing online or by mailing to:

Berean Bible Church
1000 Chattanooga Street
Chesapeake, VA 23322