Before and shortly after God saved me in March 2009, most of the websites I followed were primarily concerned with biblical prophecy. Naturally, most of these sites are dispensational and unfortunately have an unbiblical view on the doctrine of salvation (known as soteriology). Of course, these sites have a very unfavorable view (at best) of Calvinism, and they detest the doctrine of lordship salvation.
Now, to be clear, I am a dispensationalist and Calvinist (of the Steven Lawson and John MacArthur type), so being a dispensationalist does not equate to rejecting lordship salvation or Calvinism (for you reformed saints who may think otherwise). In any case, one such website popular among online dispensationalists is Grace Thru Faith run by Jack Kelley. His website is also very popular at the Rapture Ready message board, where I used to be a moderator in my infant days (full disclosure here, save the tomatoes please).
Having not thought much about Kelley’s website for some time since I grew out of these particular circles, I was quickly reminded of it when reading through chapter 10 of Pyromaniac Dan Phillips’ The World-Tilting Gospel. I remembered a few of the articles I had read years ago from Kelley and his destructive teaching of easy-believism. Ultimately, Kelley is of the type who believes saving faith does not result in a changed life. After reading Dan’s book last night, I think it’s pretty clear Jack Kelley might be called a “Gutless Gracer.”
The following are two short articles from Kelley and a follow-up response taken from chapter 10 of The World-Tilting Gospel. I post this article not as an attack on Jack Kelley (or Rapture Ready for that matter), but as a warning to those who follow him that he is not teaching a biblical view of saving faith. Dan’s book jarred my memory of Kelley’s aberrant teachings, and I thought it appropriate to warn those who may follow or come across my blog who also frequent and trust Kelley’s website. If this is you and you have any questions about this topic, please post your comments below or feel free to contact me.
Jack Kelley posts:
Q. Can you please explain lordship salvation and whether you feel it is a valid doctrine? If I understand it correctly and it is valid, it pretty much eliminates any “deathbed conversions.”
A. In effect, Lordship Salvation holds that just believing that Jesus died for your sins isn’t enough. In addition to making Him your Savior, you also have to make Him Lord of your life. This is demonstrated by the degree to which your actions in this world demonstrate an obedience to Biblical instructions on Christian living.
This view contradicts the clear teachings of Jesus on the sole requirement for salvation, belief, and in essence turns Paul’s encouragement to live a victorious Christian life into another list of commandments to be obeyed. And you’re right, under this view deathbed conversions would be impossible.
Q. I recently read your article on Hebrews, Part 4, and a question came to my mind. As in the case of the prodigal son, the son came back to the Father, but what if the son had died before he came back to his father? What if a Christian who left his faith died before he returned to his faith? Would he go to heaven or to hell?
A. The whole point of eternal security is that once you’re saved you’re always saved. You don’t give it up and then take it back. The prodigal left his father’s house but he never stopped being his father’s son. Jesus said that he would never lose even one of those that are given to Him. (John 6:39) We’re saved because of what we believe not because of how we behave, so regardless of our behavior, once we’re His we’re always His.
From pages 196-198, 204 of The World Tilting Gospel
Gutless Gracers affirm this truth [sola gratia], but they soon go wrong. Their position then isolates “grace alone” and builds on it as if it were the only truth, while redefining key words harmfully. For instance, advocates insist that it is out-of-place to call sinners to repent of their sins. Non-Christians can’t repent, it is said, and they needn’t repent. Calling sinners to repent is like asking them to earn salvation by a good work. In fact, some proponents say that repentance was a Jewish work, appropriate for Israel alone. Gentiles should not even be called to repentance, ever.
What is needed instead (they say) is the preaching of Jesus as God, telling people to believe that Jesus died for their sins, telling them to pray a prayer to ask God for the gift of eternal life. In fact, when a Gentile is called on to believe in Jesus as Lord (Rom. 10:9), it is not a summons to submit to His lordship and authority. Rather, since “Lord” was used in place of God’s name “Yahweh” in the Greek translation of the OT, this is a call to believe that Jesus is God. When a person comes round to the opinion that Jesus is God, and just asks for eternal life in a prayer, he is saved. Belief in Jesus as God is mandatory. Belief in Him as Lord is optional. Thus, Christ’s person and work are fragmented.
Now that he is saved, Gutless Gracers teach, his life is all grace (as they define “grace”). He is neither impelled nor compelled to obey, to turn from evil works, or to do righteous works. He may do those things, it is preferable – but it isn’t any kind of necessity. Some of them say that, after he asks Jesus to give him eternal life, he could then become a Christian atheist, a Christian Buddhist, a Christian anything. It doesn’t matter (to them). They would assure an atheistic ex-Christian that he is still saved and still going to heaven.
To introduce works and obedience as necessary outgrowths of conversion is to deny grace, Gutless Gracers tell us. To call a convert to confess his sins and ask forgiveness is to deny grace. Holiness is good, but it will just happen. Or not! It’s all good. Grace covers everything. Don’t worry. Be happy…
…Gutless Gracers deny that growth in holiness, obedience to the commands of the Lord Jesus, turning away from sin are necessary fruits of salvation. A man can keep living like hell and still be going to heaven. How can they take what seems like such a mad position? They do it in the name of keeping “works” out of “salvation by grace.” Yet as we’ve already seen, this is a chaotic category-confusion, as nobody is arguing that one must work to be saved. Rather, one will work because he has been saved.
The result of Gutless Gracers’ violent distortion of Scripture is disastrous. I am absolutely convinced it has sent many precious souls to hell, clinging to a false and delusive hope. It has patted them on their unconverted, unbelieving, unrepentant, unregenerate heads, and assured them that a quick prayer or a passing thought purchased their eternal fire insurance.
And it’s a lie. While the Bible most emphatically does teach that we are saved through faith, it never says that we are saved through claiming to have faith. And, here’s the kicker: Biblical faith always produces submission to the lordship of Christ…
…Grace is God’s dynamic, free, flowing gift of Himself that delivers us from the guilt and domain of sin (justification), and enables us to live lives that please Him (progressive sanctification). After we become recipients of justifying grace, we become participants in sanctifying grace. If the latter is not happening, then the former never happened.
“Gutless” is the last thing God’s real grace is.