Last night I was listening to an episode of the Fire On Your Head podcast I recorded nearly two years ago with Gregg Montella. I had just created a stand-alone app for the podcast and downloaded it from the Amazon Android App store in order to test it and see how it works, which, other than having to download the Amazon App store app to my phone and waste space in order to use the app, I’m quite happy with how it’s turning out. This episode was one I just randomly decided to revisit.
It was good!
And I don’t say that because it’s my podcast either, but I love recording stuff and prayerfully trusting the Lord to help make the discussions ever-green and always relevant. I find this episode to be more timely than it was at the time we recorded it.
In the beginning banter I asked him what he wanted to talk about and he said “extreme or hyper grace”. I was all for it, and enjoyed the chat. It was interesting to listen to in hindsight because back then I had never really heard the phrase “hyper grace”. In fact, at that time I had been experiencing a little bit of backlash from some of my revival-era friends for whom the grace message is basically blasphemy. But only the last year or two have I really heard “hyper grace” as though it’s heresy.
And I still don’t understand why.
I had heard a repentance and holiness version of the Gospel preached for years and always felt a sense of striving to live up to it. Then I got a hold of SJ Hill’s message on “love-empowered holiness” and that we can enjoy God’s presence. One time in 2009 Gregg was in Peru and we got together and spent an afternoon at my apartment praying and recording a podcast on that occasion. I remember he recommended Joseph Prince to me for the first time and told me to at least check him out, and expressed how much this man had influenced him.
I started downloading his messages on iTunes and I had my world rocked. In particular his message “boast not of your love for the Lord but boast in his love for you.” I realize that title alone sounds blasphemous to some, but it was like these were the missing puzzle pieces in my ability to approach God in prayer and enjoy His presence.
I honestly can’t say prayer was like that for me before then.
We Owe a Debt That Can’t Be Repaid
Something Gregg mentions in the podcast (the 2012 one) is that when we feel like we owe someone a debt, we might actually avoid them as opposed to enjoying being around them. If I loan you money and you can’t afford to pay me back, you might have a sense of unease around me hoping I never remind you that you still owe me. But if I told you that someone else gave me a million dollars to cover your debt with me, and not to worry about the couple hundred dollars I loaned you, your level of comfort around me should certainly change!
I view our relationship to God almost identical with that. I believe that’s why so many are uncomfortable with the Gospel of God’s grace. There’s nothing we can do to pay Him back, as much as we might feel like it through the law codes we submit to and try imposing on others.
…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:8-11, English Standard Version, emphasis mine)
When I start plowing through the book of Romans, I see that Paul had an understanding of this. It’s like if our sin separated us from God, not only did Christ purchase us with his blood and set us free, he did much more than that.
15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:15-17, ESV, emphasis mine)
Christ didn’t just pay for us and make us righteous through His blood.
He over did it.
He overpaid for our sins.
It would be like if I went to the store and bought a small pack of gum that cost $1, but I gave the cashier a bill for $10,000 and told him to keep the change. Granted, that analogy still doesn’t do justice to just what Christ has done to set us free from sin and justify and sanctify us (which we will not get into in this post for time’s sake).
In a previous blog post of mine, Abundant Life: The God Who OVER Does It, I documented several examples in Scripture of how God as Father or Christ as Son does more than necessary in providing or answering prayers:
- When Jesus made wine at the Wedding of Cana, he made an extravagantly larger quantity than necessary (see John 2:1-11, and this post for more about how I reached that conclusion)
- When Jesus fed the multitudes with loaves of bread and fishes, there were baskets full of leftovers. People ate until they were full, and there was plenty, not just merely enough (see Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44).
- Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that not only would she have her thirst quenched with his living water, but she would never thirst again (see John 4:13-14).
- When Abraham finally had Isaac, God didn’t “turn the tap back off”, but he had 6 more children with his next wife (Romans 4:19, Gen 18:12, 25:1-2) Sounds to me like a hyper healing!
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 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. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:18-21, ESV, emphasis mine)
About this, my friend and recent podcast guest D.R. Silva says in his new mini-book Hyper-Grace: The Dangerous Doctrine of a Happy God,
Though I despise this “hyper-grace” label, and I think it only gives people another reason to throw stones at people they deem “heretics” (though by definition, anyone who isn’t Roman Catholic is one of those), “hyper-grace” is actually used in Scripture as a positive reinforcement of God’s grace over sin. No, “hyper-grace” preachers haven’t created their own weird Bible translation just for this point, you can actually look it up in your own Bible and it will say the same thing.
Hyperperisseuo is the word Paul used in Romans 5:20 to say “grace abounds over sin.”9 It comes from two root words:
- Huper10 (where we get our English word “hyper”), AND
- Perisseuo?11 (where we get our English word “abound”).
So while many are running around saying “hyper-grace” is a “deception” (or even the greatest deception of the 21st century *cue scary music*), “hyper-grace” is actually a concept in Scripture, and Paul was technically a “hyper-grace” preacher (in fact, he would have been the first one).
The transliteration of Romans 5:20 would read, “Where sin abounds, grace hyper-abounds.”
Does it mean you can run around sinning? No. Read the very next verse.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (Romans 6:1-3, ESV)
I personally don’t know any so-called or self-identified grace preacher or teacher who actually uses hyper-grace as a license to sin as though because God’s grace is so deep we can keep sinning and his grace will cover us all the more.
In fact, it just underscores all the more what I believe is the abundance of grace with which the believer is bought with; the overpayment. Where the level or depth of sin increased, there was even more than enough abundance of grace to cover it, so to speak. Not a “license to sin” as some are quick to assume, and others go so far as to insist we are truly saying if one “follows this teaching to its natural conclusion”.
But if they falsely accused Paul of teaching this in his day, then it shouldn’t really surprise me if people are reacting negatively to the message of grace today. It’s not some new grace teaching, therefore the reaction isn’t new either.
Since this is the Gospel Paul preached, I’m not sure why some are averse to it. I don’t judge motives, and for years I’ve heard “if you’re not getting accused of teaching greasy grace, then you’re not teaching true grace”.
So none of this surprises me.
When the true Gospel comes forth, religion is always ready to oppose it.