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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 do 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:

Preaching grace does not mean avoiding a confrontation with sin.

Preaching grace does not mean avoiding a call to commitment.

Preaching grace does not mean serving up spiritual mush with no caloric value for the soul.

But here's what it does mean:

Preaching grace always keeps an eye on the incredible forgiving nature of God.

Preaching grace does mean refusing to manipulate your hearers to accomplish an objective in a fleshly, legalistic manner.

Preaching grace does mean loving your hearers in spite of how they respond to your message.

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.

Freely you have received, freely give. - Matthew 10:8

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.

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Irene Allen

commented on Jul 18, 2013

Oh, are you ever bible correct. It is true- The grace of God, when biblically understood and applied, resists manipulating to manifest (temporary) outward results. The grace of God is instilled in the heart and then, worked from the inside out. Wonderful wonderful article!

Jonathan Hughes

commented on Jul 18, 2013

To look to your self is to judge yourself. That prevents a person from finding fault in another. By grace we are able to do that. The forgiving nature of God needs to be in us. Preachers make people think that God is outside of us forgiving. God is in us forgiving whoever outside of us. Then be able to have righteous judgment that harms no one allowing God to be the ultimate judge not warring amongst ourselves.

Mike Spencer

commented on Jul 18, 2013

We can avoid confusion about grace by properly using the law. Rom 3:20 NASB - because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. Grace does not make sense unless viewed in light of the Law's condemnation. Our definition of sin is that it is a violation of God's law. It is because of grace that the apostle John can tell us in his 1st epistle that confession will result in forgiveness and cleansing from a faithful and just God. I'm not sure what "ungrace" means, but coining new words to describe old doctrines seems to lend to confusion.

Mike Spencer

commented on Jul 18, 2013

We can avoid confusion about grace by properly using the law. Rom 3:20 NASB - because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. Grace does not make sense unless viewed in light of the Law's condemnation. Our definition of sin is that it is a violation of God's law. It is because of grace that the apostle John can tell us in his 1st epistle that confession will result in forgiveness and cleansing from a faithful and just God. I'm not sure what "ungrace" means, but coining new words to describe old doctrines seems to lend to confusion.

Mike Spencer

commented on Jul 18, 2013

We can avoid confusion about grace by properly using the law. Rom 3:20 NASB - because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. Grace does not make sense unless viewed in light of the Law's condemnation. Our definition of sin is that it is a violation of God's law. It is because of grace that the apostle John can tell us in his 1st epistle that confession will result in forgiveness and cleansing from a faithful and just God. I'm not sure what "ungrace" means, but coining new words to describe old doctrines seems to lend to confusion.

Derrick Tuper

commented on Jul 18, 2013

One of my favorite passages is Titus 2:11-14. If a Minister is concerned that preaching on grace would diminish someone's discipline he can look to this passage for help. A correct understanding and response to grace will cause me to say no to sin and live an upright and godly life.

Michael Fabunmi

commented on Jul 18, 2013

I love to speak about GRACE and also emphasize on the subject. If we consider Paul's past and works he was due for eternal condemnation. It was by the grace of God that people like Paul became an Apostle of Jesus and he followed through with all humility; knowing his ugly past. Killing and persecuting of the followers of Jesus. All that Paul did were purely because he had the grace of God upon his life. On the other hand, James's write up about grace is a balance for the seemingly one side of Grace that Paul treated. God in His mercy and grace empowered us to have some roles to play under the grace of God. When a preacher makes an alter call, it is by grace; and the responder also responds by grace, leaving his/seat to answer the call by grace. The work of leaving the saet is activated by the holy spirit leading the person to the call. Finally, I use Galatians 2:20-21 and specially 21st verse that says"I do not fraustrate the grace of God:for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain" to complement messages of Grace. Paul the Apostes realized that our liberty and freedom in Jesus Christ have been over stretched in 'grace' Christians abuse grace even under grace of God. We should not allow disgrace or ungrace to sweep away the origin of grace in the Church. Grace is simple under the simplicity of the gospel. Michael Oluwabunmi (formerly Fabunmi)

Michael Fabunmi

commented on Jul 18, 2013

I love to speak about GRACE and also emphasize on the subject. If we consider Paul's past and works he was due for eternal condemnation. It was by the grace of God that people like Paul became an Apostle of Jesus and he followed through with all humility; knowing his ugly past. Killing and persecuting of the followers of Jesus. All that Paul did were purely because he had the grace of God upon his life. On the other hand, James's write up about grace is a balance for the seemingly one side of Grace that Paul treated. God in His mercy and grace empowered us to have some roles to play under the grace of God. When a preacher makes an alter call, it is by grace; and the responder also responds by grace, leaving his/seat to answer the call by grace. The work of leaving the saet is activated by the holy spirit leading the person to the call. Finally, I use Galatians 2:20-21 and specially 21st verse that says"I do not fraustrate the grace of God:for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain" to complement messages of Grace. Paul the Apostes realized that our liberty and freedom in Jesus Christ have been over stretched in 'grace' Christians abuse grace even under grace of God. We should not allow disgrace or ungrace to sweep away the origin of grace in the Church. Grace is simple under the simplicity of the gospel. Michael Oluwabunmi (formerly Fabunmi)

Hershel Strickland

commented on Jul 18, 2013

Excellent. May we ever be focused in our preaching that God's grace is sufficient. As we understand His grace, we begin to see the freedom that Jesus talked about.

Michael Fabunmi

commented on Jul 19, 2013

I love to speak about GRACE and also emphasize on the subject. If we consider Paul's past and works he was due for eternal condemnation. It was by the grace of God that people like Paul became an Apostle of Jesus and he followed through with all humility; knowing his ugly past. Killing and persecuting of the followers of Jesus. All that Paul did were purely because he had the grace of God upon his life. On the other hand, James's write up about grace is a balance for the seemingly one side of Grace that Paul treated. God in His mercy and grace empowered us to have some roles to play under the grace of God. When a preacher makes an alter call, it is by grace; and the responder also responds by grace, leaving his/seat to answer the call by grace. The work of leaving the saet is activated by the holy spirit leading the person to the call. Finally, I use Galatians 2:20-21 and specially 21st verse that says"I do not fraustrate the grace of God:for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain" to complement messages of Grace. Paul the Apostes realized that our liberty and freedom in Jesus Christ have been over stretched in 'grace' Christians abuse grace even under grace of God. We should not allow disgrace or ungrace to sweep away the origin of grace in the Church. Grace is simple under the simplicity of the gospel. Michael Oluwabunmi (formerly Fabunmi)

Keith Cross

commented on Jul 19, 2013

Thank you. So often people think that grace is a license to sin. The scripture is so beautifully complete and gives us just what the Lord knows we need.

Vincent Aja

commented on Jul 19, 2013

An article like this that gives DEEPER meaning to this word "GRACE" that has been generally misunderstood to be the license for some people to live their lives with one leg in the Church and one leg in world is highly welcomed. Most people do believe that God had accepted them they way they are and so they have nothing else to do for their salvation. While forgetting that God had accepted everyone of us in the ways we are only to prepare us in the way that He wanted us to be (Romans 8:28-29).

Clarence Bolton

commented on Jul 19, 2013

This was a great article. It is so timely for me because I had a member of my congregation tell me that a teacher told her that we were still under the law and she was upset that nobody in the class agreed with her that we were under grace. A lot of what your article covered was shared with her. Man I have some teaching to do.

Ron Hoffmann

commented on Jul 19, 2013

Thank you Ron, for a clear upholding of GRACE. Too often, I hear preachers enforce obedience that is lacking in the Church, with other motivations than grace. Ungrace is a good way of saying it. But, my word, if we abandon the only hope of the Gospel, provided by the finished work of our Savior, we will not have a Gospel of "Good News," we will have a half-truth "Christianized" message that cannot save or sanctify! I love the Lordship of Christ BECAUSE I understand His unflinching and relentless forgiveness and acceptance as Savior, in the unconditional grace of God.

David Eidsvaag

commented on Jul 23, 2013

I respond to your article, with a note about one glaring omission that is prominent in the faith, "...once for all delivered...?. It is the fact that we have entered into a family relationship with God, the Father. There is so much import to that truth (which is sorely neglected). What has happened is that too many of those who consider themselves "in the faith" are practicing a mere moralism, and not burgeoning, not coming forth in new life, as "Children of God". We are made alive, we who were once "...dead in trespass and sin..." due to the transformative, developmental nature of positive relationships, not to mention the promise of the same through all of the promises made by God unto His own. If there ever was a positive relationship to enjoy, it would be the one that each believer may have with, their "longing to be engaged" Heavenly Father. With this association, much of the abuse you cite might disappear altogether.

Edward Matthews Ogundo

commented on Jul 24, 2013

Thank God for illuminating His light of grace upon your heart and mind, that you are able to graciously bring out this doctrine in a very precise and easy to follow approach. This is surely by His grace, our ability to commit ourselves to study His word and comprehensively bring it out in the best way possible. Am humbled by this article. His grace is always sufficient.

Anthony C Reese

commented on Aug 28, 2014

The perils of preaching grace is exaft same story word for word as 5 reasons pastors don't preach oon grace. I understand the need to get the subject out but I would be hesitant to then publish a piece on plagiarism even if the author plagiarized is oneself. Loved the pieces or piece lol. Keep it coming. A little laughter amid our important roles as leaders.

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