I am never ceased to be amazed at the lengths hyper-grace teachers go to in order to twist Scripture to make it fit their doctrine. Here’s an example I read today: “The Lord’s Prayer was not given to the church, but to Jews under the Law of Moses. So Jesus’ solemn warning about unforgiveness that is derived from the Lord’s Prayer has no application to Christians.”
You no doubt know that the Lord’s Prayer includes these words: “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12). One verse later, Jesus elaborated on that clause, saying, “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matt. 6:14-15).
Jesus’ words in that passage are crystal-clear, but according to some hyper-grace teachers, all of them became completely irrelevant after Jesus died and rose again—at the inauguration of the new covenant. And hyper-grace teachers must find a way to make them irrelevant, because taken at face value, they indicate that our being forgiven by God is predicated upon our forgiving others. And obviously, being forgiven by God is a basic requirement to enter heaven. But that, they say, is not consistent with grace, at least as defined by hyper-grace teachers. Grace, they wrongly claim, can include no requirement of holiness, otherwise it is salvation by works.
Worse, Jesus’ words, taken at face value, make it clear that God might REVOKE forgiveness He has already granted, a concept also taught in Jesus’ parable of the unforgiving servant (see Matt. 18:23-35). Jesus concluded that parable by warning, “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart” (Matt. 18:34-35).
Of necessity, hyper-grace teachers MUST make those words also irrelevant to new covenant Christians, plus many other clear declarations Jesus made that contradict their perverse doctrine. And so you will hear them often claim that everything Jesus taught that doesn’t agree with their theology was only applicable to old covenant Jews under the Mosaic Law.
Of course, their strange view is problematic on many levels. One is that their view is not taught anywhere in the New Testament epistles. You won’t find Paul, Peter, James, John or Jude writing anything like, “Jesus ministered to Jews under the old covenant, and so many of His words have no application to new covenant Christians.”
On the contrary, they, like all the other apostles, taught their disciples to obey everything Jesus had taught them, because that is precisely what He commanded them to do in His Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20, emphasis added).
And that is why Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Christians, “For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus” (1Th. 4:2, emphasis added), and why he wrote to the Colossian believers, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you” (Col. 3:16, emphasis added).
That was why John wrote, “By this we know that we have come to know Him [Jesus], if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3, emphasis added), and why Peter wrote, “To those who reside as aliens…who are chosen…to obey Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:1-2, emphasis added).
That is why James so often alluded to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in his general epistle (see Jas. 2:13; 3:18; 4:11-12; 5:3, 12), and why Jesus is referred to as “our Lord” 68 times in the New Testament epistles.
Never, not once, does any author of any New Testament epistle ever intimate in the slightest that any of what Jesus taught is irrelevant to new covenant believers. That being so, anyone who claims that some or all of what Jesus taught IS irrelevant to new covenant believers is teaching pure heresy. They might also be guilty of blasphemy since they, by nullifying some of Jesus’ words, diminish His lordship.
And there are many other problems with the hyper-grace teaching that nullifies so much of what Jesus said. One is that it creates a different means of salvation under old and new covenants, whereas the New Testament teaches that grace and faith have always been the means of salvation, prior to, during, and after the new covenant. Both Abraham (before the Mosaic Law) and David (during the Mosaic Law) were saved by grace through faith (see Rom. 4:1-8, 16).
The grace that God has always offered has never been a license to sin, but rather a temporary opportunity to repent of sin and be forgiven. That is biblical grace as Paul defined it, writing, “For the GRACE OF GOD has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires, and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:11-14, , emphasis added).
So, is our forgiveness predicated upon our forgiving others? Yes, according to the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul similarly warned that those who practice “enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, [and] factions”… “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21). Does unforgiveness have any connection to that list of social sins? The answer is obvious.
Regarding the subject of forgiveness, there is much more that could be said from the many other scriptures that make some reference to it. Christian teachers sometimes just skim over the surface of the subject, while believers often wrestle with questions about what God requires of them, particularly in regard to offenders who never ask for forgiveness. I have done my best to address those deeper issues in some articles I’ve written on this website. For anyone who is interested, one is titled, “A Closer Look at Forgiving” and another is titled “DMM Chapter 24: Confrontation, Forgiveness and Reconciliation.” (You may be surprised to learn that, although God expects us to love everyone, He does not expect us to forgive everyone.)