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preaching article 5 Reasons Why Some Pastors Don't Preach Grace

5 Reasons Why Some Pastors Don't Preach Grace

based on 13 ratings
Jan 24, 2012
Scripture: none
(Suggest Scripture)

We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14b

God's grace freely provides what we have the inability to produce ourselves.  Grace elicits the confidence that he will accomplish that which he requires of us—as we cooperate with and obey him. When we preach grace, we motivate our listeners to trust God in confidence rather than shrink from him in fear.  "Ungrace," on the other hand, leaves people looking to themselves to produce the very thing they lack—and therefore, leaves them burdened and discouraged.

Grace empowers righteous living.  Ungrace disables it.

Grace motivates obedience because God has generously given us what we need.  Ungrace demands obedience under threat of condemnation if we come up short.

Grace begins with the provision of God and ends with the completeness of the believer.  Ungrace begins with the incompleteness of the hearer and ends with the same.  Grace leads to freedom and victory.  Ungrace leads to bondage and defeat.

Grace looks to God as the source of that which is required—and much is required!  Ungrace looks to people to produce what they lack.

Grace is the mark of New Testament preaching and the key to empowering right living.

And yet, some pastors fear that preaching grace can lead to pitfalls. Here are five frequently raised objections to preaching grace:

1. Grace can be mistaken as a license to sin—and the last thing we want to do in our preaching is encourage sin.  

But for the believing heart, it provides the very motivation to say "No" to sin.  It is grace and grace alone that will empower people to overcome sin!  The road to victory over sin is paved with grace.

2.  Preaching grace will undo sacrificial giving.  

Actually, for those giving from a confused motive to start with, it may well affect their giving.  But if preaching grace decreases your church's giving (which is unlikely over the long run), then better to make due on less money than to elicit more money in a graceless or manipulative manner that leaves people in legalistic bondage.  (See Paul’s commentary on the value of legalism in Galatians 5.)

There is nothing like grace, properly understood, to unleash greater giving, because the heart of grace is God’s own incredible sacrificial giving. Sure, manipulation can achieve a short-term and short-lived result.  But grace is the path to long-term, sustained results in the hearts of people.

3.  It could lead to a drop in attendance.  

Similar to giving, grace motivates the believer to engage and not pull back. If your church members are coming because you’ve withheld grace or exercised law over them, it’s only a matter of time before they stop coming anyway.

Grace will not rob a preacher of the right to say the hard words or make challenges or ask for commitment.  It enables us as preachers to make challenges with the best hope of a lasting result.  Preaching grace with power will yield a greater long-term result than will legalistic manipulation.

4.  We will be perceived as morally spineless or, worse yet, actually encouraging sin.  

Grace never has, and properly understood, never will encourage sin.  Grace was bought by God at the highest of prices.  And grace dispensed from that account will never take sin lightly.  But it will address it from a different posture—and actually empower victory over it.

5.  Grace may lead to a de-emphasis on truth.  

Actually, grace emboldens a proclamation of truth because it provides the only appealing path back to truth.  The path to truth and holy living is paved not with manipulation but with grace.

To overcome these fears, we remind ourselves that:

  1. Preaching grace does not mean avoiding a confrontation with sin.
  2. Preaching grace does not mean avoiding a call to commitment.
  3. Preaching grace does not mean serving up spiritual mush with no caloric value for the soul.

But here's what it does mean:

  1. Preaching grace always keeps an eye on the incredible forgiving nature of God.
  2. Preaching grace does mean refusing to manipulate your hearers to accomplish an objective in a fleshly, legalistic manner.
  3. Preaching grace does mean loving your hearers in spite of how they respond to your message.
  4. Preaching grace does mean trusting God to accomplish his objectives in his way and in his time. 

May God give you, first of all, an unshakeable confidence in his grace for you as his child.  And then, may he give you the wisdom and the heart to generously dispense that grace through your preaching.

Ron Forseth is Editor-at-Large for SermonCentral.com, ChurchLeaders.com, and FaithIt.com. He studied for two years with Wycliffe Bible Translators and has a passion to share Christ and see all people groups of the world reached with the Gospel. He served for several years as a college pastor in Colorado and in Christian service for most of the 1990s in China and Mongolia. He is General Manager of Outreach Media Group and Vice President of Outreach, Inc., an organization dedicated to inviting and connecting every person in America to a Bible-believing church so that they might have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Ron lives with his wife, Carol, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Talk about it...

Jerry Shirley avatar
Jerry Shirley
0 days ago
Amen brother!
Myron  Heckman avatar
Myron Heckman
0 days ago
One more reason is not so much theological or practial as it is personality. Preaching the law without Gospel is one way to express anger and guilt. It provides a vent for pent up emotions and seeks the solace of guilt well-shared. The antidote is the Gospel. Never preach the law without Gospel, but remember the law sets up the Gospel as a sparkling jewel.
Charlie Roberts avatar
Charlie Roberts
0 days ago
None of us deserve it, it can't be bought, nor can it be earned and whether you preach it or not, does not diminish the purpose God, intended for it to do. Grace, abolished the law and the self reliance that went with it! Jesus Grace, Life Changing Message, was and is, exactly the way God planed it!! Grace is all about relationship and reconciliation, Grace will set you free, from yourself and freedom is a wonderful thing. Praise God, thank You for Jesus, for the gift of Grace!
Keith  B avatar
Keith B
0 days ago
Good article.
David Buffaloe avatar
David Buffaloe
0 days ago
Preaching grace demands "repent". As Jesus said, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand". Preaching grace demands counting the cost. It demands a surrender of the life to the Lordship of Christ. Grace means receiving Jesus as Who He is, and grace cannot be divorced from commitment. Faith without works is dead, and too often only part of the Gospel is preached by well meaning pastors. As Jesus said, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear and DO the Word of God".
Howard Kenneth Yocom avatar
Howard Kenneth Yocom
0 days ago
Grace allows redemption. Whether personal, or in the case of a church, the congregation. This is important, especially for a sick church. Grace allows resurrection of soul or spirit. This is again very important for a sick church, before the church can grow. Grace allows restoration. This is the stage where the believer becomes stronger and the church truly begins its mission. God bless and may the peace of Jesus be with you.
Jim Stow avatar
Jim Stow
0 days ago
Ron, a great article. I have so many thoughts regarding your article swirling in my head and some of them might sound like criticism when I intend them to be a modification or clarification from my perspective that I wont post them at this time. I am also short on time at the moment and plan to post another comment when I have time to think it through. In the sum total, I think you are right on target. Blessings, Jim
Mike Q Daniel avatar
Mike Q Daniel
0 days ago
So true. Additionally, if we embrace the message of grace, we can no longer justify our identity in the flesh. Grace empowers our roles in each others' lives as we equip each otherand edify according to our gifts. But grace levels the hierarchy - no longer allowing us superiority according to the flesh and the world. Grace levels us all. Because we all need it equally.
Trevor Payton avatar
Trevor Payton
0 days ago
Good article. Another angle as to why pastors sometimes don't preach grace: Maybe they're feeling burnt-out/depressed/attacked/...very un-graced themselves. And the other thing that I think needs to be said (following on David's post) is that there's a difference between true grace (which is costly and justifies the sinner) and cheap grace (which doesn't cost a thing, and justifies the sin. The former is bestowed by God, and the latter is bestowed by ourselves. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's book, The Cost of Discipleship is an essential read in this regard...if nothing else, read chapter 1. When true grace is preached, it is POWERFUL! Thank you for the helpful article.
Zachary Bartels avatar
Zachary Bartels
0 days ago
A thousand times AMEN! Thank you for this article, brother.
Jimmy Jackson avatar
Jimmy Jackson
0 days ago
If we are not preaching GRACE, can we really call it preaching?
Innocent Ononaji avatar
Innocent Ononaji
0 days ago
Thanks a lot for this article. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ abounds forever! Amen
Derrick Tuper avatar
Derrick Tuper
0 days ago
I believe we can preach the "obedience" sermons with grace attached. There doesn't have to be an "either or" mentality when it comes to preaching. For if we have a correct understanding of grace works will be inevitable (Titus 2:11-14). We don't need to forfeit grace when we preach about the disciplines of the Christian faith. We can still preach accountability and consequences and include grace as well.
Dan Cartwright avatar
Dan Cartwright
0 days ago
If Phil 2:13 is true, that God works IN us to WILL and DO of His good pleasure, a well balanced diet of law and grace can only be beneficial to the soul. Whether or not we understand and can articulate what has been termed 'the third use of the law' (the law as a guide for the behavior of the believer), a believer will have a desire to obey it, not from a legalistic perspective, but from a heart of gratitude.
Pastor Bob Hunnicutt avatar
Pastor Bob Hunnicutt
0 days ago
i believe that pastors struggle with GOD's grace for there on live and are fearful that GOD is disappointed in them and they don't know how to release that guilt, therefore they sometime just keep quite and pray for there own forgiveness and grace.
Charlie Roberts avatar
Charlie Roberts
0 days ago
None of us deserve it, it can't be bought, nor can it be earned and whether you preach it or not, does not diminish the purpose God, intended for it to do. Grace, abolished the law and the self reliance that went with it! Jesus Grace, Life Changing Message, was and is, exactly the way God planed it!! Grace is all about relationship and reconciliation, Grace will set you free, from yourself and freedom is a wonderful thing. Praise God, thank You for Jesus, for the gift of Grace!
John E Miller avatar
John E Miller
0 days ago
John 1:17. Grace and truth must go together. Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!" John Newton would not recognise the preaching of the gospel where God's amazing grace was not proclaimed.
Suzy Walker avatar
Suzy Walker
0 days ago
HOW to discern if the grace teaching that you are hearing is doctrinally sound. When you hear the new covenant of grace preached, it is always Christ-exalting. It always reveals more and more of Jesus? There is no grace without Jesus?. Grace is not a doctrine. Grace is a person and His name is Jesus. Therefore, there is no grace teaching without Jesus Christ. You cannot separate Jesus and grace!?...... ?The law is about you looking at yourself. The new covenant is all about you seeing Jesus.
Charlie Roberts avatar
Charlie Roberts
0 days ago
none of us deserve it, it can't be bought, nor can it be earned and whether you preach it or not, does not diminish the purpose god, intended for it to do. grace, abolished the law and the self reliance that went with it! jesus grace, life changing message, was and is, exactly the way god planed it!! grace is all about relationship and reconciliation, grace will set you free, from yourself and freedom is a wonderful thing. praise god, thank you for jesus, for the gift of grace!
Robert Bravo avatar
Robert Bravo
0 days ago
I?m not sure if I?m following the train of thought here. Since when are we to preach only Grace? Aren?t we are to preach all of the scripture and what it says? If it?s talking about giving we preach giving. It?s it talking about serving we preach serving. If it?s talking about repentance we preach repentance. If it?s talking about Grace we preach Grace. Why should I feel compelled to preach a particular truth of the Bible such as saving Grace and skip everything else it says? Am I missing something or are you? There are all kinds of grace. There is saving grace, sanctifying grace, healing grace, etc. So if a scripture is calling a believer to let?s say turn from sexual immorality. Shouldn?t we point that out and then call our people to ask for the sanctifying Grace that our gracious God offers us to help rid ourselves from it? Or should we just call our people to ask for saving grace? Should we ignore all the things God demands from us and make everyone feel good about saving grace? What about the clear call to live holy lives? What am I missing?
Robert Bravo avatar
Robert Bravo
0 days ago
I?m not sure if I?m following the train of thought here. Since when are we to preach only Grace? Aren?t we are to preach all of the scripture and what it says? If it?s talking about giving we preach giving. It?s it talking about serving we preach serving. If it?s talking about repentance we preach repentance. If it?s talking about Grace we preach Grace. Why should I feel compelled to preach a particular truth of the Bible such as saving Grace and skip everything else it says? Am I missing something or are you? There are all kinds of grace. There is saving grace, sanctifying grace, healing grace, etc. So if a scripture is calling a believer to let?s say turn from sexual immorality. Shouldn?t we point that out and then call our people to ask for the sanctifying Grace that our gracious God offers us to help rid ourselves from it? Or should we just call our people to ask for saving grace? Should we ignore all the things God demands from us and make everyone feel good about saving grace? What about the clear call to live holy lives? What am I missing?
Mark Street avatar
Mark Street
0 days ago
Outstanding article on preaching grace. Preaching grace empowers believers to rely more on Christ and less on themselves. It also exalts God and creates an atmosphere of praise/worship in our services that is uplifting. I agree with Myron Heckman that an understanding of the law should lead to the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The law brings the knowledge of sin, but only by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ saves from sin.
Charlie Roberts avatar
Charlie Roberts
0 days ago
None of us deserve it, it can't be bought, nor can it be earned and whether you preach it or not, does not diminish the purpose God, intended for it to do. Grace, abolished the law and the self reliance that went with it! Jesus Grace, Life Changing Message, was and is, exactly the way God planed it!! Grace is all about relationship and reconciliation, Grace will set you free, from yourself and freedom is a wonderful thing. Praise God, thank You for Jesus, for the gift of Grace!
Dan Cartwright avatar
Dan Cartwright
0 days ago
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." Matt 5:17
Charlie Roberts avatar
Charlie Roberts
0 days ago
None of us deserve it, it can't be bought, nor can it be earned and whether you preach it or not, does not diminish the purpose God, intended for it to do. Grace, abolished the law and the self reliance that went with it! Jesus Grace, Life Changing Message, was and is, exactly the way God planed it!! Grace is all about relationship and reconciliation, Grace will set you free, from yourself and freedom is a wonderful thing. Praise God, thank You for Jesus, for the gift of Grace!
Charlie Roberts avatar
Charlie Roberts
0 days ago
None of us deserve it, it can't be bought, nor can it be earned and whether you preach it or not, does not diminish the purpose God, intended for it to do. Grace, abolished the law and the self reliance that went with it! Jesus Grace, Life Changing Message, was and is, exactly the way God planed it!! Grace is all about relationship and reconciliation, Grace will set you free, from yourself and freedom is a wonderful thing. Praise God, thank You for Jesus, for the gift of Grace!
Jack Nelson avatar
Jack Nelson
0 days ago
One sure way to consider the subject at hand is "how did Jesus Preach"? Many today would consider him one of the most negative preachers of all time. Jesus knew and understood the nature of human flesh and its tendency toward sin. it was approached without apology and called by its name. Only then can the remedy be applied....the grace of God. What would you think of a doctor that would put a band aid on your cancer? No...it has to be called what it is and then the appropriate procedure applied. God bless you all!

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