Hypergrace, according to some, is a dangerous and unbiblical teaching that is leading people down a licentious path to hell. Apparently the “rock-star preachers” promoting this hypergrace heresy will be “held accountable for the spiritual death of millions.”
By proclaiming God’s unconditional love and forgiveness, hypergrace preachers have taken grace too far, say the critics. They have made grace radical, over-the-top, and unbalanced.
As someone who has been labelled a hypergrace preacher, how do I respond to this claim?
Guilty as charged, amigo!
Grace is the one thing that separates Christianity from all religions and God’s grace is truly extreme. It’s unfathomable, inexplicable, and hyper.
But who are these hypergrace preachers? Who are the rock-stars preaching this message of radical grace?
Any list of hypergrace preachers must begin with the man who first described God’s grace as hyper. The apostle Paul wrote of the incomparable riches and abundance of God’s grace. He painted word pictures of a divine love that could not be measured and a grace that cannot be contained.
In describing grace Paul used three Greek words: huper-ballō, huper-perisseuō, and huper-pleonazō. You do not need to speak Greek to recognize the common element in these words. It’s the prefix huper or hyper which means exactly what you think it means.
God’s grace is over, above, and beyond your wildest expectations. It surpasses all knowing.
To put it in context, Paul also uses hyper-words for describing God’s power and love. So God’s grace is as great as his power. It’s as limitless as his love.
This is wonderful news, for grace that is hyper means no one is beyond the reach of his love. It means your worst sins have been wiped from the books for love keeps no record of wrongs.
The apostle Paul introduced the concept of grace that is hyper, but he was hardly the only hypergrace preacher in the Bible. Here are some others:
John the Beloved spoke of the grace that comes from God through his Son. “Of his fullness we have all received grace upon grace” (John 1:16). Grace is not one aspect of God’s character but his fullness. God’s grace is God-sized. “Grace upon grace” means God hits you with wave after wave of grace. Think of the waves at the ocean. There is no end to them and no end to his grace.
Peter wrote about the grace that comes from “the God of all grace” (1 Pet 5:10). All grace and all love originates with God. Peter prayed that his grace would be yours to the “fullest measure” or in increasing abundance (1 Pet 1:2). Just as you can’t travel to the edge of the universe, you will never find the limit of God’s grace. But try anyway. Explore it, walk it, swim it, ride it, and grow in the grace of Jesus (2 Pet 3:18). Be generous with the manifold, or many-sided grace of God (1 Pet 4:10).
James, one of the most misunderstood writers in the New Testament, had a wonderful grasp of grace. He could’ve been called an apostle of grace. James spoke of a God who gives and gives, which is a picture of unending grace (Jas 1:17). “God gives us more grace” said James (4:6). You’ve probably read that a hundred times without thinking about it, but the word for more derives from the Greek word megas. In other words, God gives us mega-grace! Throw in Strongs’ definition and James is literally saying that God gives us “exceedingly, great, high, large, loud, and mighty grace!”
Many Old Testament prophets also spoke of God’s extreme grace, from Zechariah shouting “Grace, grace” to the house of God (Zec 4:7) to Isaiah who waxed lyrical on the subject of God’s everlasting lovingkindness (Is 54:8).
By the way, whenever you read that word lovingkindness in the Old Testament, you can substitute hypergrace, because that’s what the original word, hesed, means. The hesed of God is the goodness and love of God, which Moses, David, Jeremiah and Jonah described as abundant or great (Num 14:18, Ps 103:8, Lam 3:32, Jon 4:2). God’s lovingkindness to us is Great Grace and nothing less.
So when Joel says God is “gracious, compassionate, and abounding in lovingkindness” (Joel 2:13), he’s saying much the same thing as Paul with all his huper-adjectives for grace.
But how did these old prophets know about God’s abounding grace? From whom did they learn it? They heard it from the Lord himself.
Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth” (Exodus 34:6)
Which brings us to…
The greatest hypergrace preacher of all
Jesus was a walking, talking testimony of the radical grace of God. He loved the unlovable. He forgave his killers. He bore your sin.
Jesus told stories of a grace that was over, above, and beyond all reason. The prodigal son, hugged despite his sins. The publican, justified in spite of his unrighteousness. These stories make no sense except as signposts to a grace greater than our worst wretchedness. And telling stories was only one of five ways Jesus revealed radical grace.
I have listed a dozen hypergrace preachers but the Bible has more. (Let me know if you can think of others.)
If you have been branded a hypergrace preacher, hold your head high. To be included in this esteemed company of grace preachers is an honor and a privilege. The label should not diminish us but inspire us to be as bold in preaching the gospel as those who’ve gone before us.
May we be testimonies of the transforming power of God’s great-, mega-, and hyper-grace.