A RULING ON “COMMON GRACE”
BY GTC ELDERS

At GraceTruth Church, we reject common grace and the well-meant offer and believe they are heretical doctrines. As a disclaimer, please see the references below, as we gathered our understanding from a variety of sources and authors on every possible side of the argument.

Common Grace

Common Grace has been defined as God’s “…universal non-saving grace” (see Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms, 1995). According to the Bible, the noun heresies is defined as works of the flesh (Galatians 5:20), divisive doctrine, and damnable beliefs (2 Peter 2:1) which are at odds with the biblical or historical essentials of the true gospel. Because common grace is defined as a divisive doctrine, we disavow it as heresy for the following reasons:

God’s Grace

The doctrine of divine simplicity means God’s grace reflects His immutable character or essence in that grace is not an attribute of God, but God IS grace. While some may argue that God acts graciously with all men, biblically, God’s grace reflects the eternal essence of God in salvation and is not common to all humanity.

God’s grace is salvific in its character and application and is only applied to the elect. The Bible teaches that the elect are saved by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-10), and the apostle Paul says that God’s grace is sufficient for him (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Faith that is given by God to His people rests upon the divine knowledge of God’s grace (effectual unmerited redemption) being their salvation.

God’s grace in the Hebrew [noun חֵן (ḥēn); verb חָנַן (ḥānan)] and Greek New Testament [noun χάρις (charis); verb χαρίζομαι (charizomai)] is exclusively given to the elect, and never to the reprobate. Therefore, when the context of Scripture refers to God’s grace, it always applies to the elect, and never applies to the reprobate.

The Bible does say “Let your speech be always with grace…” (Colossians 4:6), and “…that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29). This sentiment and commandment can be supposed that grace can be non-salvific or common. However, this teaching is not referring to God’s grace, but to the type of speech Christians must possess when communicating and relating with others.

In summary, the Bible teaches that God’s grace is particular and effectual, not common or universal. Grace attributed to God in Scripture only refers to His revealed love and redemptive work toward His elect people in Jesus alone.

As a sovereign grace body of believers, we deny the historical doctrine of common grace and reserve the use of grace attributed to God as special, effectual, and loving toward His elect people resulting in their salvation in Jesus Christ. Scripture exposes common grace as a false gospel and heresy that leads to prominent theological and practical errors such as the well-meant offer, decisional regeneration, and other Arminian or “free-will” theology. God’s love and grace are reserved exclusively for the elect, and Christ died for the sheep alone effectuating their eternal life.

  • The following gives further thoughts related to this issue: According to Scripture, God does not desire or offer to save those whom He has not ordained to save.
  • God’s love, according to Scripture, is revealed authoritatively for His people alone in and through the death of Jesus Christ on their behalf.
  • The idea of God ‘loving’ everyone is contrary to the revealed knowledge of Scripture in that His love is revealed only in the effectual death of Christ.
  • Scripture does not express God having a desire to save anyone He never ordained for salvation. Likewise, Jesus did not offer grace to Judas and had no desire to deliver nor offered to save Judas.
  • God’s grace, according to Scripture, is not applied to all men without exception, but only toward the elect in Jesus Christ.
  • God actively reprobated the wicked, and thus hates them. Also, God does not provide a well-meant offer to all men.
  • God the Spirit seals the elect of God and infallibly secured their salvation.
  • Christians are mandated to proclaim the gospel of Christ to all men without exception.

In summary, as a sovereign grace fellowship, we believe Arminianism is a false gospel, common grace is heresy, and the well-meant offer is a wicked doctrine.

Further information and resources on this matter can be provided upon request. A more thorough examination of these doctrines is forthcoming.

For His Glory,

Dave Barnes
James Tippins
Jesse Bates

The Elder Brothers of GraceTruth

 

References & Resources:

Dennis E. Johnson, “Spiritual Antithesis: Common Grace, and Practical Theology, “Westminster Theological Journal 64, no. 1 (Spring 2002) 

“The Myth of Common Grace” by Scott Price (YouTube): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t16kBoz5y58

“The Well-Meant Offer Heresy” by Scott Price (YouTube):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GH6RtWd5aFM

Hernandez, Sonny, “A Rebuttal of Common Grace and The Well-Meant Offer” (Lexington, KY, 2021)

“Common Grace,” trans. Raymond C. Van Leewen, Calvin Theological Journal 24, no. 1 (April 1989)

“Abraham Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism” (Grand Rapids, Mich. Eerdmans, 1953)

“Mouw on Common Grace,” Christian Renewal 20, no. 9 (Jan 28, 2002)

David J. Engelsma, “The Reformed Worldview: 3. The Failure of Common Grace,” Standard Bearer 74, no. 20 (Sept 1, 1998)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not kidding by writing this article. It’s not a ploy or a play on words that will be tongue-in-cheek and cause you to want to join us for worship. It is a serious reflection over the last four years and why so many people just cannot get to the point where they want to be a part of our fellowship.

  1. We are NOT creative. Well, we have many creative people, but when it comes to what the church should be doing, how she should be doing things, and why; the bible is clear. God hates when man brings traditions and selfish desires to the table of His gathering. We are not going to be swayed by the next new idea and frankly, make no apologies for it. If you are interested in seeing what the church should be doing from a God-commanded point of view, then check us out.
  2. We are NOT seeker sensitive. Scripture teaches that the church (called out, gathered) are those who are alive in Christ Jesus. The world has no place in the church because it really hates the Lord and His word. (Evidenced by all the traditions and creative efforts to make worship services “better” than how they are prescribed in Scripture.) People are not really seeking God in the first place according to Romans 3. We are not going to revamp, retell, rework, or retool anything we do in hopes that droves of people come running through the doors. We want to be a people for the glory of God and as we reach out to the lost and the missing, God will bring us together for His glory by His grace.
  3. We are NOT assimilators. There is really NOTHING to do at GraceTruth Church except learn together, pray together, live together, worship together and give our lives for each other’s growth and joy in Christ. We don’t have anything else to do. No programs for the kids, no children’s church, no manifold praise bands and no ministry of the arts. We do simply what we are told to do in scripture and have unlimited space in our lives for anyone who wants to be a part of our family. As a family, we will do things together, but we aren’t going to find your area of “fit” and stick you there.
  4. We are NOT easy on Sunday. I mean, there are easy parts of life, but worship, prayer, the Lord’s table, fellowship, hearing the word and discipline is not easy all the time. Sometimes we have to get real and sometimes scripture puts us in a place of discomfort. The good thing is, every time God’s word gives us a good rebuke, it gives us the glorious grace of God to grow from it; so our Joy is full!
  5. We ARE full of kids. All ages!  Birth to college, there are kids galore. BUT, they are always with us at all times. This is the way the church is supposed to be; worshipping as a family and learning together. The traditions of man are damned by Jesus in the gospels, and the ripping apart of the family has devastated the glory of God in saving families. So, we don’t divide our families and it is tough some days when kids are crying  or going to the bathroom every 10 seconds or dropping crayons or staring at you while you try to listen. It can be tough, but it’s worth it, even though we know it costs us some very good people through the years; we will not budge on this grand conviction.
  6. We DO take the Bible seriously. No, we are not the silly millies that pluck out our eyes, the Spirit gives us sense to know how to read literature, but we do take seriously the word of God. So, everything we do and everything we believe is regulated by the bible. There are no philosophical invasions in our teaching. There is no room for cultural segways or external ‘supports’ to scripture. We preach through letters, talk about teaching that is needed, and really put ALL OF OUR HOPE in the scripture to bring about ALL life change, all salvation, all worship and all unity.
  7. We will love you too much. Back to my original statement, this isn’t a ploy. You’d be surprised at the people who come and go because they want to just hide in crowd. Now, there is always space and margin, but if you join us, people are going to introduce themselves and ask who you are, it’s just common courtesy. And if you come twice, you may get taken out to lunch or invited over for dinner! If this sounds horrid, better stay away.
  8. You will NOT be asked to work. After 15 plus years in the mega-church market, Pastor James knows what burn-out looks like. Well, I do. 🙂  And I know that life is tough enough without having mundane and constant requirements to be at “the church” all the time. Now, for folks who want to convene and fellowship, sweet! But we are not going to be so busy that when you need us we cannot come. We are all suffering saints, living in this life sometimes hanging on by a thread. We want you to feel the peace of knowing that you can be available to minister to others when the time is right.
  9. We do NOT mandate the KJV. (King James Version) There is great value to this version of Scripture (which is derived from Erasmus’ greek) but we have people who utilize this version as well as four others: The ESV, the NASB, and two versions of the Greek NT. When preaching we will read out of the ESV and commonly utilize both majority and non-majority Greek texts for clarification. The church is allowed to consider their own versions, but we do steer away from modern variations and paraphrases.
  10. We do NOT dress up. Well most of us don’t. We may not come in our flippy floppies… (some may), but we don’t wear suits, hats, canes, and high gloss shoes. But, if you must, then please do, just do not impose the idea that we are supposed to wear such lest we bring on men something God has not commanded. Many people throughout my life have never owned “dressy” clothes and God forbid it that one must have a new suit to attend the worship of Christ. Please don’t be offended, but I do not wear a suit, tie or slacks very often. When I do, people ask where the funeral is located.
  11. We believe people who are WITH US should JOIN US. This means that if you stick around, you need to publicly align with us for growth, accountability, discipline, prayer, ministry etc. It is a burden on a church who loves a family who has a hangup on being an official part of the family. Everyone always wants to be a part, then say they are not a part when things don’t go their way. Well, we love each other and being committed is a big part of that.
  12. We do NOT mandate tithing. If we did, we’d have nearly 30% of everyone’s gross weekly. But, since we don’t, we teach that everyone should give according to the prayerful consideration and be sensitive to the Lord’s leading. Now we do believe that giving is an OBVIOUS example of God’s spirit in a believer and that scripture teaches clearly that each member of the church is responsible to financially support the work of the church and its pastors. We are just not going to mandate an amount. Many members just follow a simple 10%, some more and some less. It’s up to you and Jesus.
  13. We ARE creedo. Uh oh. It just means that we have a statement of faith that we hold to and everyone who becomes a part of our fellowship is required to read it, ask questions about it and take the truth contained within as truth. This confession of faith is what we see the bible says about certain things that are vital to the local church. We believe doctrine matters greatly, because without it, we really are not the church.
  14. We don’t have drums. I know this seems silly, especially toward the end, but while we have a piano/keyboard, and some guitars, we feel that drums are out of place in the music we prefer in service, and drums are also very likely to offend some, so we don’t have drums. We are supposed to bear with others and while Jesus probably isn’t going to scourge us if we had drums, He would surely want us to give up our right to play drums for the unity of the church. That being said, our decision to not have drums is a direct result of our love for each other and our desire to never offend a brother.
  15. We sing THEOLOGICALLY rich songs. We do sing new songs, but not contemporary “adult christian” type songs that have no bearing in Scripture. If we sing a song, it must teach us something true about Jesus, reflect on those things, or reflect on the work of God, His attributes etc. For example, we love “It is well” and we also love, “In Christ Alone.”
  16. We do not ENDORSE false teachers but rather call them out. I have had numerous times through the years a visitor state, “I wish you hadn’t said _____ taught error, it’s unbecoming.”  I understand beloved that many people do not like the tension of hearing false teaching being called out. But, when I am teaching in John 3 and the same week on TV/Radio a preacher was teaching that Jesus was not God, we have a problem and it must be corrected because Jesus commands it in Titus, Timothy, Galatians, etc. We are not on the witchhunt, but from time to time we have to address error in a biblical way.
  17. We are NOT perfect. Sorry. We are not going to fulfill your fantasy of a perfect church with no sin, no problems, no pain, no suffering and no long sermons. All of these will be a part of who we are. The difference is that we will submit to the Lord Jesus through His word in dealing with them. (maybe not the long sermons).
  18. Speaking of sermons. We DO preach for an hour each week. I do confess that I am trying to truncate my messages to 45 – 50 minutes, but often they are 65. There is little time to introduce, exegete, apply and close an argument from scripture in 20-30 minutes and I would suggest that most sermons in that length are probably not contextual. We stand to make sure it is thorough. Maybe too much at times.
  19. We do NOT preach politics or life’s lessons or cultural events. While there ‘may’ (once in 10 years) be an issue that needs to be addressed, it can be done briefly in the beginning or at the end of a service. We will not rob the feeding of the flock for the fodder of pop culture. We aim to live life by faith and doing so, we will all have ample opportunity to engage on these matters.
  20. We DO have planned Q&A times. Often we have these times where the church can ask question to me, the other elders and each other relating to life and scripture. It’s a good time and we think it is very helpful, especially when someone is dealing with a serious issue, it can bring the church together. We also value constant learning and provide opportunities for the church to grow and learn weekly.
  21. We do NOT think we are professionals. Sometimes we have no music, sometimes we have no lights, sometimes we have no sound, etc. These things happen and we go on as usual. We are not going to change the mood to manipulate your feelings. We are not going to stand at the end of the service and work your emotions to make some decisions. We are not going to pass a plate to get your money. We are not going to miss out on ministry. We are not going to be afraid to weep, pray, laugh, hug, get firm, or whatever else the Lord would have us do in our intimate time of worshipping Him together.

It is surely best you stay home unless you think this list sounds a little inviting. Who knows, I may write an article on why you may want to join us… 

Who Are We?

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With the current political climate it is very difficult to sift through all the dogma, emotions and concerns related to the national political scene. Scripture gives us a clear answer to most of our concerns and there is no possible way to teach exhaustively on this matter in a timely manner.

What is a Christian’s duty in voting?  How does the church know how to vote?  What should we listen to and say about political leaders?  Should the church be invested in politics?  What about social issues and legislation?  These are hard questions to understand…

Therefore, next Tuesday we will be offering an open question and answer forum related to this issue. Please join us, be in prayer and bring your thoughts and wisdom as we look to Christ!

Resurrection

While the whole “Church” world seems to encourage everyone from all around to come to church on Resurrection Sunday, also known as Easter, I have a different view that many people should NOT come to church that day, especially they should not attend among the fellowship of GraceTruth. Before you hang me out to be eaten by birds, take my words as an encouragement and if necessary, a rebuke, and see God the Holy Spirit at work in His everlasting and sufficient grace. You may just find the joy that you are looking for.

  1. Do not come to GraceTruth Church this Sunday because it is “that time of year” to attend church. Chances are if you are not regularly in the fellowship of the church you are either in transition because God is calling you elsewhere such as missions, church planting, or travel. Or, you could be unable to be among believers due to health problems or you may be one of those individuals who rotates a hectic work schedule that keeps you from weekend services. You may also be the believer who is in deep disobedience to God because you are not committed to being a part of the local body of believers as is required of you by biblical mandate and by the powerful work of God. Or, you may just be an unbeliever who only looks at church services as culturally obligatory.
  2. Do not come to GraceTruth Church this Sunday because you feel guilty. Guilt isn’t the work of God, however, conviction is. God works to bring His children to the obedience of faith through conviction of the Spirit and regeneration whereby they “repent” and joyfully run to the opportunity to be received before the throne of Grace as a child most beloved by faith. Being together with the church in worship isn’t a sad, lonely, broken drudgery, but a lifting, encouraging and freeing JOY!
  3. Do not come to GraceTruth Church this Sunday to appease God. God cannot be appeased by any works of mankind. There are no people who have ever lived that have ever made Him satisfied in their works and that is the entire reason for the Christ having to live among man and die in place of the elect as a substitute. (We should also say that you shouldn’t show up to please mom either.)
  4. Do not come to GraceTruth Church this Sunday because it is Easter. In all reality, the Easter celebration isn’t even biblical, its cultural even with all the “Christ” surrounding it. Scripture teaches us to remember the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ daily, not seasonally and in many ways, making much of Christ on one day is vain. Christ is alive every day and the “act” of resurrection isn’t the end of the miracle, the act of “eternal life” in Christ is!  And it is the hope of all believers.
  5. Do not come to GraceTruth Church this Sunday because you want to be entertained. Worship service isn’t for us but to proclaim the praise of God’s glorious Grace to Him, not us. Our joy is full when we make much of God for who He is, not for what we “get” from Him. Worship time as the church is never about us but always about the glory of God’s majesty.
  6. Do not come to GraceTruth Church this Sunday to find a people-centered sermon. We value true preaching of God’s word, not a few points that will pave over the truth of God’s glory. In other words, scripture teaches that Jesus Christ alone is all-sufficient and that nothing else in all the universe can satisfy the heart, mind, or flesh of mankind. So, if you want to be fulfilled in something that is just going to fade away by Monday, then GTC isn’t the place.
  7. Do not come to GraceTruth Church this Sunday if you desire to be bored, unchallenged or unloved. The word of God and His people will always cut away at the dross and mire and God is faithful through these means to make us more like His Son, holy and glorious!
  8. Do not come to GraceTruth Church this Sunday if you do not want to be in AWE by the Power and Glory and Honor and Majesty of Jesus Christ! He will be exalted by His people and if you are in attendance, it will overwhelm you as His Truth and His Life command your attention.
  9. Do not come to GraceTruth Church this Sunday if you only want to come once. We love you too much to leave you stagnant and all that come our way, if they let us, will be reached with the gospel. How you hear it is in the hands of our God.

Jesus came to DIE, to preserve His people against the wrath of God’s holy justice by taking our place on the cross. This Sunday is one of many of the Lord’s Days in this year. Make it as if it will be your last, then enjoy the fruit of them all as we celebrate our most prized affection, Jesus Christ who died and is alive forevermore!

For His Glory by His Grace,

Pastor James Tippins

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This Summer, GraceTruth Baptist Church has turned one as a constituted church and in that time much has transpired.  Some experiences have been difficult, some incredible, but all things for our good and for the glory of God.  In our culture many people measure success in many different ways.  For example, the local church of America seem to only think things are good when attendance is up, baptisms are up and the funds are rolling in.  This ultimately produces an unbiblical pressure on the church to “perform” and always think of ways to do more, get more and be more when the scripture teaches that the church, that is the  people of God redeemed by faith alone in Christ Jesus, have every spiritual blessing in Christ already.  So the church is lacking nothing.  So for the sake of this “spotlight” I desire to focus on something very dear; community.  It’s the 100th birthday for Evans County and while GraceTruth Church’s membership comprises more than six different counties, she is at the heart, a church of her community.  Our prayer is to see God answer the needs of our community in all aspects of life and GraceTruth church is committed to prayer and action.

While the church is not in the business of creating “church based” opportunities, the drawing board looks something like this for the next two years.  We ask that you prayerfully consider your involvement, especially in prayer.
1 – We desire to see the church of Jesus Christ (this means all congregations and denominations) be the church in vision and mission taking the message of the gospel to people who continually need to hear it, including ourselves.  The gospel is not the “hook” for lost souls, it is the power of God for security, hope, peace, holiness and worship.  (Romans 1:16, 1 Peter 1:3)
2 – We are actively working with the community in support of a local investment initiative giving more focus on what Evans county has to offer and what it could be if everyone worked together for a common goal.  Evans county has the potential to become an active people who care and give and support each other as well as a holy community of worshippers for the glory of God.
3 – We have begun plans for the establishment of a foundation that would provide business development training and career evaluation for many who have had a very difficult time finding work and who need some professional guidance in starting their own way of making a living.
4 – Pride In Evans is an initiative that desires the people of Evans County to see their homeplace as necessary and vital to the security of the culture, and Christians certainly must be active in the community, so GTC is committed to partnering in this effort as a people, not a place.
5 – The plans and final stages of a local Seminary is coming near to completion and will provide tuition free theological studies and biblical studies for local students of scripture, who desire to either learn or seek general and advanced degrees in the fields.  There is a great need for the training of men and women for the mission field in partnership with national and international missions.
6 – We pray that the church would be more active in the role of supporting local ministries such as the FoodBank and other organizations that have the infrastructure to help families in need.  Scripture says that anyone who has the world’s goods but closes their heart toward their brother are not in the faith.  (1 John 3:17)  This isn’t a guilt check but a reminder of just how good the grace of God is that has been given to us freely at the cost of Jesus Christ the Son and in turn, we have a heart to help others at the cost of us.
7 – This area needs more congregations.  It is a fact that nearly 8 out of 10 people are unchurched and denominations across North America have been pushing for the planting of new congregations.  The church multiplies as it grows from newly planted seeds.  The age of the big fat church is over, it’s time for all the people of God to pray about their involvement in really giving to a people, not a place or program.  Every church can actively be a part of planting new congregations, at the minimum, in homes and businesses.  GTC wants to be a voice of proclamation and preparation for this venture as we now have a core group meeting in Statesboro on Wednesdays, we would like to see in-home studies grow in the Evans County area among all believers.
8 – Praying for local leaders and government.  Most of the time those who serve us are not served by us.  Speaking only to the church, we should be about honoring our leaders and humbling ourselves to the throne of heaven on their behalf while keeping our tongues in check.  Sadly, the entire world loves to defame others, let’s see the church stand in the manner Christ stood who “kept silent” and “intrusted Himself to the one who is faithful.”
9 – Praying for the lost.  We want to see a movement of God’s people and it starts with prayer for ourselves, that God would give us a heart for the perishing and then a prayer for the gospel to go out from us that many might be saved from sin and judgment.  The gospel is ALWAYS Good News and we, the church, have it to give.  Let’s begin to work together to pray for the lost.  GTC is committed to working side by side any local church in this effort so that other churches would grow bigger and bigger for the glory of God.
10 – Praying for our schools.  Just like the civic leaders, our educational leaders are hard at work for the sake of our future-the children.  Let’s pray, serve and give as we can whether it benefits “our kids” or not.  Are all kids not our kids if we are a community?
There is much more to share, much more to pray for and much more to behold when we see the greatness of what God can do through HIS people.  GraceTruth church is committed to being a voice and a beacon of hope for the suffering and lowly as we all run the race together for the sake of God’s name.
Join us online at GraceTruth.org or on FaceBook.com/GraceTruthChurch – and for anyone who has questions, please contact us directly at 912-289-5537.
For His Glory by His Grace,
Pastor James Tippins

Brooke and Jesse Bates pic

Praise God for His glorious grace in the lives of these two! We are thankful to be a part of your lives Jesse and Brooke and are blessed to have you among us for the sake of the gospel. For anyone who did not make the service today, here is the audio.

Soli Deo Gloria

Click here to hear!

GraceTruth Church Time Change

REMEMBER:  GraceTruth in Claxton moves to 10:30 AM Sunday May 25, 2014…. MARK your calendars and get ready for some afternoon cookouts!

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February 15th at 9AM until Noon, join us on a journey through the prophetic teaching of “End Times”.  During this FREE class you will learn what the bible actually teaches about this topic and how to answer your most difficult questions.  You will also be instructed on the many popular views and how they relate to the Word of God so that you can be informed.  Register on our Facebook page here.