“Hyper-Grace” by D. R. Silva
Reviewed by Steve Hackman
What is “Hyper-Grace” and why would anyone think it could be a bad thing? In any debate, whether it be cultural, philosophical, or theological, transforming a pejorative label into a positive identity or a “badge of honor” has to figure somewhere in the argument’s final verdict. D. R. Silva manages to pull this off in his new book Hyper-Grace: The Dangerous Doctrine of a Happy God.
Like his debut book, It’s All About Jesus, Silva offers a passionate defense of the grace of God in the life of the believer. Needless to say Hyper-Grace is no dry theological tome; this is “grace” with raw street cred.
Although it’s not mentioned in the title, Silva’s Hyper-Grace is partly a response to, Dr. Michael Brown’s recent release Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message. Yes, “Hyper-Grace” is the theme de jour.
Silva addresses a number of accusations often leveled at preachers and writers in the “grace-camp”. That they: encourage an environment to sin, shun any form of confession, and believe God is never angry. Essentially though the root of the argument against the modern grace movement is that grace preachers fail to take sin seriously enough.
The message is not that God doesn’t find a problem with sin, it’s that he found such a HUGE problem with sin that he sent his Son to destroy it, and remove it from our lives forever. (Loc. 510)
This theme underpins Silva’s book. It is actually those opposed to “grace” who fail to take sin seriously. They believe sin is a small enough debt that after Jesus makes the initial deposit, we are quite capable of assuming the payments.
Ask yourself how well that has ever worked out for you?
Silva continues by saying that opposition to grace is used by leaders to keep people in line,
Though many love to throw the word “grace” around, the idea of God’s kindness is still a huge problem for those who need him to be angry in order to coerce their congregations into better moral performance, and scare those on the outside of the church into becoming members as quickly as possible. Sure, it’s nice when you live up to his standards, but as soon as you don’t, He’s an entirely different person who goes on a rampage; somehow this is called “unconditional love” when it isn’t anything close.” (Loc. 519)
Performance is a powerful tool used by leaders and Silva’s Hyper-Grace is not afraid to take them on for manipulating their congregations. He suggests there is an ulterior motive to their resistance to the modern message of grace;
If your business consists of putting a carrot on a stick and having people pay you for the opportunity of chasing it, then it’s no good for your business when a group of people comes along and starts giving away carrots for free. (Loc. 514)
Because a response to Dr. Michael Brown’s book challenging “hyper-grace” is not conveyed in the title, someone seeking to learn about this “Dangerous Doctrine of a Happy God” may be confused not realizing they had just walked into a full-on debate. This is certainly an “in-house grace-camp” discussion and the author assumes a certain level of familiarity with the arguments that the reader may or may not have.
Fortunately Silva is deft at bringing the readers up to speed and as the book progresses it becomes less a critique of Brown’s book and more a wonderful unveiling of the Grace of God that we have been freely given.
Dr. Brown’s brand of “Hyper-Grace” is to be feared; Silva’s is to be celebrated. Let the reader decide which “Hyper-Grace” is the more attractive.
I think there were some good things in the book. I am currently working my way through Dr. Brown’s book and I think Mr. Brown does a good job (thus far) at presenting the theological errors that are within the “hyper-grace camp.”
I highly recommend “The Real Grace.” from Chas Stevenson.
Sounds like a great read, thank you.
Bog standard ordinary grace is quite radical enough for me. Anybody who is so insecure in the power of the truth that they need to hype it up should not be trusted.
Hyper grace is either false grace or hyped up true grace. Either way I want nothing to do with it.
What if I told you that D.S.’s book gave you the freedom to question? A freedom never sighted before out in the world.
Hyper-Grace: The Dangerous Doctrine of a Happy God is an awesome book. You’ll enjoy the read.
Well, let’s see, I use to be in that camp That Grace is a poison Doctrine. After Looking at the apostle Paul talk about it and seeing that God really loves the world. I’m convinced that without Grace, Jesus didn’t do enough to save the world or take away their sin. When I found out that God loves me regardless of my behavior, I felt like the women that was ready to be Stoned and Jesus stepped in and changed her life. My heart grieves to hear people say they don’t need more grace they need more law. When a bird is caged, that bird forgets how to fly after awhile. Without the law of liberty, spoken of in Galatians. People really don’t know what Jesus actually did on the Cross. Thank you Jesus for setting me Free. Whom the son sets free is free indeed.
You know, I believe the problem here is in semantics. Dr. Brown never once implied we are to submit to the law in order to be justified, yet many misunderstand this. You made a highly questionable statement: “God loves me regardless of my behavior”. I know what you mean there, but many may interpret this that you are a Christian just by name, not by your way of living, just like many misinterpret Brown’s words. Beside the freedom mentioned in Galatians, remember Peter as he calls for holy conduct. Galatians commands us to walk by the Spirit and Colossians completes this by listing the things we should get rid of and put to death. It’s by God’s grace and by His Spirit that we can obey Him and be holy. So, I acknowledge that every time I’m obedient, it’s because God granted me the grace to. I won’t brag about it and I’m certainly not trying to please God with my works, being that I obeyed by His grace and by the strength provided by His Spirit. God bless.
You said that ” God loves me regardless of my behavior is a highly questionable statement. Well let’s look at it. A women caught in adultery. Her behavior is adulteress. Now what is your behavior. Sometimes you lie, Cheat, and maybe steal a pencil out of the office. The point is that Jesus will meet you where ever you might have trouble with your sin. That’s why he came for the unrighteous. I was a sinner, now I’m redeemed. You want to change, Look to Jesus.
The point you make in your conclusion is the same point I would make concerning the Paul Ellis Blog. I quote, “This is certainly an in house grace camp discussion and the author assumes a certain level of familiarity with the arguments that the reader may or may not have.” This is what happens on the Paul Ellis blog all the time. Very frustrating.
Unsupported statements are made. Important points are alluded to in a casual way. Other important points are poorly researched and therefore either untrue or unclear.
I am trying to follow you but you’re not making it easy.
Senia, I appreciate that is sometimes difficult to walk into a room full of people and join a conversation that seems strange to you. If you are new to the gospel of grace, this page may help. If you are not new but have questions, I recommend posting them on E2R’s Facebook page. There you will find a community of believers at different stages in their grace journey and eager to help.
Dr. Brown is a bomb thrower form the pew. Let’s not pretend he is anything other than that. In fact, his understanding of Grace and how its God’s undeserved and unearned favor PURCAHSED by Jesus, shows how he simply doesn’t have a revelation of just how immense God’s Grace is.
The Law will never set anyone free. Its like a mirror, for anyone trying to live by it.
I heard Dr. Brown on Sid Roth’s show, that John 1:9 is for the believer. I wonder if he practices John 1:9 in his own life, since he claims its for the believer. I love how Joseph Prince preached in one sermon, that he almost went completely out of his mind when he was misled to believe that John 1:9 was for the believer. In fact, how could you ever be anything but sin conscious or condemnation conscious if John 1:9 was for the believer? And this is an important point to bring up about the hoky nature of Brown’s beliefs.
Yet Brown is an expert of the Grace of God? Hardly. In fact, every time I read the healing miracles and the miracles of provision in the 4 Gospels, NOT ONE TIME, NOT ONE TIME did I ever read that Jesus told anyone coming to Him for their deliverance, that they needed to confess their sins. And if anyone had an obligation to confess sins, it was people living under the Old Covenant…
Rob, I appreciate your comments. I would appreciate them even more if they adhered to E2R’s comment policy and were <250 words. Thanks!
The comment that I John 1:9 doesn’t apply to the believer, poses a problem because the grace movement also teaches that unbelievers don’t need to repent and confess their sins either, as they come to Jesus. So what do we do with I John 1:9? The grace movement has ruled out both the believer and the unbeliever for applying this scripture. Should we just cut it out of our Bibles? I don’t think so.
It is a common misperception that grace folk are against repentance and confession or that we think 1 John 1:9 should be cut from our Bibles.
The first thing that comes to my mind just in the title alone is how people tend to be so fearful. I can’t imagine my life without Gods grace. If there was such a thing as Hyper- healing folks would find something wrong with that too. In fact people will go to great lengths to get healed…seek doctors, medicine, herbs, and pursue all kinds of remedies, but to believe Jesus to heal them is just to extreme. In fact people often reject what God has already so willingly provided simply because it does not gel w/ their doctrinal teachings, their traditional upbringing or things they have chosen to swallow as truth that don’t even line up with Gods Word. Bottom line no matter what it’s called. If it is grace given by God I would be a fool not to want it.
I recently read a paper that traces to Charles Finneys Pelagien heresies- the doctrine that the Holy Spirit is in the ministry of pointing out sins in Gods children. This doctrine comes from a truncation of Jn 16 where Jesus says the Spirit will convict of sin- A truncated view because the text actually says the Spirit convicts of sin in regard to unbelief. In other words the one and only sin the Spirit convicts of is the refusal to believe the gospel and the new covenant ratified by Jesus death. A covenant that promises that God “will remember their sins no more.” Why would the very One who inspired and wrote the divine promises of the new covenant promise that God will remember their sins no more not honor that covenant by continually reminding God’s people of their sins? See Hebrew 8:8-12) On the contrary the Spirit’s ministry is to continually remind Gods people that their sins are forgiven and forgotten by God!
Barry, thanks for sharing that. I too have recently learned about Finney and Pelagian doctrine as it pertains to the grace message. I would mention that Dr. Brown as well as some of the other people speaking against the modern grace preachers have themselves been heavily influenced by Charles Finney and alike. It basically makes Jesus only our model to follow rather than our substitute. who exchanged His life for ours so He could then live His life through us.
Amen John! They all seem to be bewitched into believing the Christian life and following Jesus is something like mimicking Jesus or copying him rather than what it really is- Jesus Himself personally and presently living His own unique life out from within us. This false belief also leads to dividing and reducing the man Christ Jesus up into a series of doctrines, principles and guidelines that can and must be replicated and followed. It’s like believing they can replace the man Christ Jesus living His own life within with a shadow, copy or graphic or replicated image of Him. In doing this they unintentionally fall back into living by elementary principles, self effort and the resulting defeat and bondage to the elemental spirits of the world.
“Hyper-Grace” by D. R. Silva is so much better than the first book 🙂
“Abounding Grace: Dispelling Myths and Clarifying the Biblical Message of God’s Overflowing Grace” by Eddie Snipes is also very good response to Dr. Brown’s book.
I have always thought to myself, correction and direction are built into grace,anytime I have tried solving or functioning under anything else, a frustration problem begins,…..Grace is to me is like …..[the centipede who was ok till someone told him he had 100 legs]…..does that make sense? grace should become a natural way of life for us,God is well capable of finishing the work he started
Something prevalent I noticed in “grace camps” that may be revealing hidden self effort and spiritual pride. Namely; often when folk in the grace camp are questioned or challenged honestly or even sometimes when not even challenged it questioned there is a vitriolic response which includes sarcasm, ridicule or resentment even towards those asking honest questions or making challenges from honest biblical observations.
This can only reveal one of two maladies both of which are not from God: 1.hidden spiritual pride and arrogance over possessing a revelation of grace. “For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7 NASB) or 2. Self imposed and self taught belief in grace.
Whenever we become impatient, arrogant, sarcastic or resentful when challenged or whenever we become impatient with those who don’t yet get the sufficiency of divine grave it always reveals we have forgotten that faith is a divine gift that comes by grace alone.
Lets not become grace nazis!!!
Barry the passage you refers to asks that we not judge ourselves but let grace judge us, in this we live in true victory , when we judge ourselves and claim victory we fall, we should trust the judgment of the cross, here we find that we are invincible in his victory.I do not have to put myself above everyone else I am in Christ and there is no higher place, yes I am arrogant or bold in what he has achieved in me and in him I will boast and I will boldly challenge those that claim victory in themselves. True Grace has no boasting only boasting in him, if not it is not grace and requires challanging.And if I be stoned for this and I have and continuously am being stoned, so be it , I will not back down or be intimidated.If stoning were legal and not frowned on, I would have had a few funerals .And this from my brothers. In some instances it is not possible to not offend, we are dealing with deep seated deception and lies.We are full of grace to the world. but our brothers all ready have received the gift if they now try to sell it, not give it away, they need to be challenged.A revelation of grace is just that, it is what you say it is.It can not be distorted. It is or it is not it has no depth, it is like God it is.
We are not made right with God nor are we kept right with God by our faith in the grace of God. We are saved entirely by grace and by Jesus blood alone (not by our faith in grace).
But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.” (Acts 15:11 NASB)Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Romans 5:9, 10 NASB)
Gods favor and blessing do not depend upon our faith in his grace.
This is what makes grace nazis! A grace nazi is a person who demands that Gods people are blessed or saved or favored by their faith in grace.
Whenever anyone one of us is motivated by either fear or ambition in our efforts to extend or defend the doctrines of grace we manifest the symptoms of impatience, defensiveness , resentment, frustration, argument, debate, sarcasm , ridicule or the like.
All this hidden fear and/or ambition always reveals the false inner belief that people are blessed, favored, saved, etc by their knowledge or faith or by something they themselves know or think or do or believe.
The false belief formulas that leads to fear of ambition is this: Jesus + our faith =favor and blessings or Jesus + grace = favor and blessing .
The only formula that is true and leads to peace and love is this one: Jesus + nothing= everything
Our hearts are like idol factories. We exchange the idol of performance orientation for the idol of grace and we build shrines and churches and websites to house our idol of grace. And we fight and defend our idols.
Jesus alone is the gospel. Jesus alone is our salvation.
Everything else is just more idolatry friends!
Barry, I agree with the symptoms, I can see that.
Recently I had to face a old Christian friend that got NewAgy and had to make a lot of efforts to extend my recent Grace revelation… where of course I’m so right… and he wrong.
“Our hearts are like idol factories”, I like that!
What is Jesus saying to my friend, how does He see him, what does He think, how much love does He have for him and how does He express it? It should be through me here for instance.
Eternal life is to KNOW HIM & THE FATHER, which eliminates the need to be right, the effort to defend doctrine or personnal experience… and where the Father’s love is free to express in whatever manner He leads.
Jesus is not the gospel. He was only the messenger of the gospel. This is the gospel.
There is NO other gospel.
Mark 1:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
Mark 1:15 and saying, the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
First the gospel, second repentance to God and third the things concerning Jesus Christ.
28:30 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,
28:31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
Semantics! – the point I make is that gospel is about nothing but Jesus Christ: nothing must take the complete focus of attention off of Jesus Christ or it’s an idol – plain and simple .
Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, (Romans 1:1, 3 NASB)
the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:7 NIV)
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (Mark 1:1 NASB)
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, (2 Timothy 2:8 NASB)
For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, , (Romans 1:9 NASB)
but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, (1 Corinthians 1:23 NASB)
And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:1, 2 NASB)
Our tendency is to dismiss it as sarcasm, but it is probably a window into what they are really hearing. It’s likely their most honest response and may reveal to us how people are interpreting what we say.
On an unrelated topic, do you follow the works of Dr. Michael Brown? I’m not too familiar with his teachings, but a couple of your views seemed similar to his. That’s not intended to be contentious, I was just curious. Thanks
Never heard of him. I just know from my own life that as I shared – our hearts are like an idol factory- I find this persistent propensity to shift my confidence, trust , faith and hope from Jesus to some good thing He is showing me or giving me as a gift. I begin to idolize the truth or the gift rather than The TRUTH and the GIVER. Then I build a little shrine or temple to house my idol truth or gift and I recruit other worshipers to worship at my idol truth shrine and I resent and fight against those who I perceive as threatening to my idol truth . Church history is littered with previously occupied idol truth shrines ‘
Sola SCRIPTERA shrines , baptism with the Spirit and speaking in tongues shrines, sola fide shrines, seller friendly shrines , charismatic shrines, MISSIONAL shrines- and now we are building a shrine to grace !
Jesus is the only legitimate obsession and object of worship, trust and confidence .
Everything else is just more idolatry .
Thanks, Barry, I agree with what you are saying. We are easily distracted from looking to Jesus and our walk should be learning to look to Him more and more. One thing I would add is the importance of knowing who we are looking to. Many of us in the church grew up looking to a law giving Jesus rather than a graceful, loving Jesus. I find the grace teaching is necessary to help those of us who need to see Him as He is.
If you haven’t already read Himself by A. B. Simpson, I think you would really enjoy it, as I did. It’s a short and great read on looking to Jesus, Himself. It is available to read for free on the Internet.
thanks for the reminder LPJ -I received my early seminary training at an Alliance seminary and used to devour Simpsons writings. but I definitely need to read “Himself” again as at that time I hadn’t yet received the revelation of grace and was reading Simpson with veiled eyes. Last time I read it I was still infantile in my grasp of Jesus grace and so reading Simpson was like looking longingly into a store window wanting what He spoke of but still being in self effort mode knowing I couldn’t climb up to what Simpson spoke of. Your reminder is a blessing to read it again and “get it” this time around with vile removed.
I’ve been to that window, my prints are on the glass. 🙂
Amen Barry I know where your coming from. I have had some negative exspiriences with reclious grace preaching. When a grace preacher is speaking he needs to be clear that he is against a licentious life style.
If I recall Jesus first forgave the woman caught in adultery and then commanded her to no longer sin, but you ask that I do the opposite.When preaching we can offer forgiveness but cannot command change, only Jesus can do this.We can convey how this change happens.
Once the revelation of grace is received like a good kind of yeast it begins to absolutely influence every facet of our lives. There is no motive, no action, no speech that does not need to be infiltrated with the gospel . Fear was once the primary motivating power for most everything in life prior to receiving a divine revelation of grace but after that fear is dissolved. For a season motivation seems to be lacking as the old fear based compulsive living is replaced by the divine rest of faith in Jesus. Then are new levels of trust required- “Do I believe that Jesus will move and motivate me to do everything I once did out of fear? ” This question never arose under fear because it was , ” Just do it or else!” But in the new found profound freedom under the gospel of grace nothing is a have to anymore. Jesus must become the inner motivation in everything from that point on.
I hear what you say Barry but for me Gods grace is the completion of all blessing there is nothing else to want or need, in it I am complete where ever I am in whatever situation.
I got carrots for everyone!
In my years of experience ie. the pre Joseph Prince days – the bottom line comes down to this: The “grace camp” doesn’t believe there’s anything the christian can do to loose their salvation.. so the many warning scriptures in the epistle ie. 2Peter 2:20 and Jude 4 etc are usually completed ignored or explained away
…while those in the “works-camp” ignore or explain away God’s many promises regarding your eternal security. So it seems you must choose: Trust His grace or trust your works.
You may have extensive experience with those that believe they are saved and preserved by the law, and not bythe fulfillment of it.Only the fullness of the law can save you and keep you.
Chris – you mentioned this phrase “what a Christian can DO to lose their salvation”
I was under the distinct impression that Gods people are not saved by what they DO but by what they trust /believe???
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Romans 5:9, 10 NASB)
If the entire New Testament is not lying in saying over and over again that Gods people are not saved by they DO then how can they be unsaved by what they DO????
I believe what Chris is saying Barry is Jesus is the fulfillment and fullness of the law,its all in him.
Yes I got the wrong reply – sorry Chris -I meant to reply to silent seeker on his comments on losing salvation .
thats ok I get this stuff mixed up to.
Silent seeker- if you are interpreting those passages you speak of accurately then Jesus was a liar when he solemnly declared these words: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30 NASB)
Either Jesus is truthful here or He is lying. You can’t have it both ways. Who should we believe? What you say or what Jesus says ? I’ll let you decide.
What do I think? “God is love” always and forever. Most religious followers I’ve met believe that ‘saved’ as used in the NT means ‘rescued’. It doesn’t. Rescue is a different Greek word. Saved in this context means healed or restored, implying the beginning of a very personal relationship. Grace? Zacheus’ desire to restore to others what he wrongfully took, shows us that the impromptu response to God’s Grace is to respond with grace to others, not as an occasion to sin even more. Law and the prophets? I thought God settled that controversy at the transfiguration when God basically said/showed that Christ’s teachings take precedence over the law and prophets – even though Peter thought the three held equal weight. Grace is beautiful, but not easy. Grace means forgiving those who deeply hurt us. It is using patience when we would rather lash out. It is refraining from ruling over others and allowing the Holy Spirit to teach them what they need – when they need it. It is not enough to receive Grace from God. We must go and do likewise by giving Grace to others. This is the hard part. How can anyone in their right mind think that Grace and our response to it is shallow?
S.R. – you said, “it is not enough to receive grace from God. We must go and do likewise by giving grace to others.” “Must” or “should” or “will spontaneously and effortlessly by the same operation of grace towards us extend it to others”
There is an enormous difference in your former statement than the latter two. If you actually believe what you say you have negated the true significance of grace. Grace that we give is entirely BY GRACE ALONE- whether it is “hard” to give grace or not is completely irrelevant because it is Gods work in us and not our own work. Not only that but biblical grace has NO conditions attached to it except to believe. Gods grace never says, “Here is some grace but it will be revoked UNLESS you give it to others.” Demanding giving grace to others is no different that demanding giving love to others and since the demand to love is the essence of the Law demanding giving grace is just more Law. Demanding the extension of grace to others is just more self effort works religion my friend that is packaged in a more palatable so called “grace” package.
We are saved, sanctified, secured and kept by the grace of Jesus plus nothing. Any conditions or demands you add to Jesus regardless of how good or reasonable they sound are a deviation from the gospel. Jesus plus nothing equals the gospel.
I hi Barry I have just read your comments on this thread and am completely confused by your arguments.
Sorry for the confusion Grace- I’m confused most of the time lol
” Must” give grace to others is wrong, “should” give grace to others is better but “WILL give grace to others ” is best!
I don’t see grace as an “it” or a “thing” or even a “principle” or an “influence” but I see grace as a Person. To me JESUS is grace – He never separates Himself from His grace nor can he . That would be like me trying to separate myself from my masculinity . Masculinity is not merely something I do or say or give etc – it is what I am. So is JESUS grace what He is! Most arguments both for or against grace miss this critical reality concerning biblical grace. If you recieve grace you have recieved JESUS the gracious God-man and therefore having received the Gracious One you WILL give grace away to others because HE HIMSELF when dwelling in us by faith WILL give of HIMSELF to others, JESUS can no more withhold His grace from others while dwelling in us than I can withhold my masculinity while dwelling with my family . For this reason the one who claims to have or to know grace -yet who doesn’t give grace is lying.
Grace is JESUS! That may sound confusing but it’s that simple .
Thanks for being very gracious. God bless