The Ten Commandments of Grace

The Ten Commandments of Grace
by Jack Cottrell (Notes) on Friday, January 15, 2010 at 1:43pm

This note is a follow-up on my earlier note, “Grace, Law, and the New Covenant.” In my teaching about grace I make it quite clear that I believe traditional Restoration Movement thought comes up quite short on this subject in many ways. Certain concepts that are deeply rooted in Restoration tradition are in fact significant barriers to a right understanding of grace. I have tried to sum them up very briefly in a list that I call “The Ten Commandments of Grace.” All of these points are explained more fully in my book, “Set Free! What the Bible Says About Grace” (College Press, 2009). This list is on p. 115 of that book.


ONE. Thou shalt not limit “law” in the crucial phrase “works of law” (Rom. 3:20, 28; Gal. 2:16) to the Law of Moses, as if the point of grace is that we are justified by obedience to NEW Testament commandments rather than obedience to OLD Testament commandments.

TWO. Thou shalt not identify the “law” with which grace is contrasted (especially in Rom. 6:14) as a law CODE (a list of commandments to live by, especially the Law of Moses) rather than as the law SYSTEM (attempting to be saved by obedience to one’s law code).

THREE. Thou shalt present the “plan of salvation” as GRACE rather than as LAW (i.e., rather than as a law code by which we are saved). In the latter case it is a “plan of slavation,” not a plan of salvation.

FOUR. Thou shalt distinguish between works of law (Rom 3:28) and obedience to the gospel (Rom. 10:16; 2 Thess. 1:8) – both of which are “works” in the generic sense of “something you do.” And, thou shalt explain that baptism is not only a work of GOD, but also a work of MAN in the latter sense (obedience to the gospel) – as is faith itself (John 6:26-29).

FIVE. Thou shalt not substitute Galatianism for grace, i.e., thou shalt not represent the sinner as being initially saved by grace, but kept saved by works.

SIX. Thou shalt neither teach nor imply that salvation is based on one’s personal righteousness rather than on the righteousness of God in Christ.

SEVEN. Thou shalt not reject the validity of assurance of salvation.

EIGHT. Thou shalt distinguish between the two parts of the “double cure”: (1) justification or forgiveness, to take away sin’s GUILT; and (2) regeneration/sanctification, to take away sin itself.

NINE. Thou shalt not represent baptism as being for the remission of PAST sins only.

TEN. Thou shalt not assume (because of a faulty understanding of 1 John 1:9) that every personal sin
separates a Christian from the grace of God, and that the thus-fallen Christian remains in an unsaved, unforgiven state until he confesses the sin and prays for forgiveness.

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