Hyper Grace by Dr. Brown on “Ask Sid” (Sid Roth) Watch as they answer questions from viewers and give biblical answers.

Hyper-grace (03)

Dr. Brown and Sid Roth discuss the pitfalls of Hyper-Grace (once saved always saved and i can sin whenever i want because my sins are forgiven past, present and future. I don’t need to live a holy lifestyle).

God does save us by His grace but wants to have a relationship with us which leads us wanting not to sin no more. It’s being in His presence that changes us and makes us want to not sin no more! Because when we have more of Jesus in us we don’t want to sin.
Watch as they answer questions from viewers and give biblical answers.

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8 Signs of ‘Hypergrace’ Churches

Hyper-grace (03)

by Joseph Mattera
The past several decades, we have seen a dramatic decline in doctrinal and biblical preaching. We have gone from theology to therapy in the pulpits. In the past decade, we went from therapy to motivational speaking instead of preaching.

In addition to this, whole churches and movements have oriented themselves to a distorted understanding of the gospel by espousing a “hypergrace” approach that trickles down to not only what they preach but who they allow to minister and teach. (I was told there is even a new television station devoted to this view of “grace.”)

Furthermore, many churches and preachers refuse to take a stand against sin and rarely if ever mention the need for repentance or topics like hell and judgment. Many of these same churches allow people to minister in music, as small group leaders and even as ministers with no personal accountability while looking the other way when they are living sexually immoral lives and regularly engaged in drunkenness!

This is nothing new.

For centuries the body of Christ has wrestled with something called antinomianism (anti means “against”; nomos means “law”). This is the belief that the moral law of the Old Testament has been done away with and that, once we are in Christ, there is free grace in which we can almost live any way we want since we are not under the Law but under grace. Thus, according to this view, the Old Testament is not that important to read except for metaphors, types and symbols regarding the coming of Christ. The New Testament is all about grace and does away with the Old Testament Law!

Of course, Paul the apostle warned against this sort of thing in Romans 6:1-2 when he rhetorically asked, Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? His response: God forbid! How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer in it?

The first thing Jude the apostle says in his epistle (in the context of contending for the faith in verse 3) is that ungodly men amongst them were turning the grace of our God into a license to sin. Evidently these free-grace preachers were twisting the Scriptures by teaching that “we are no longer under the Law” means “we are no longer under any obligation to obey the moral law of God once we are saved.”

This in spite of each of the Ten Commandments being directly cited or taught indirectly in the New Testament. Examples of exact citations are Ephesians 6:1-3, which quotes the fifth commandment; James 2:11, which quotes the sixth and seventh commandments (regarding murder and adultery) and says in verse 12 that believers will be judged according to the “law” of liberty; and Romans 7:7, where Paul quotes the 10th commandment regarding not to covet. Paul also says that we dishonor God when we disobey the (moral) law (Rom. 2:23).

Obedience to the Ten Commandments (the moral law) is also taught indirectly, as in 1 John 5:21, which instructs believers to stay away from idols (from the second commandment, regarding not making a carved image to worship); and when Jesus said that the greatest commandment in the Law is to love God with all the heart, mind and soul (Matt. 22:37-38), which corresponds to the first commandment regarding having no other gods before Him.

Paul makes it clear in Romans 7:12 that the law is holy, righteous and good and that the purpose of being filled with the Spirit of Christ is so the righteousness of the law would be fulfilled in us (Rom. 8:4)—not so we can just float around as spiritual beings without any standards for obedience and disobedience!

Although we cannot be saved by following the Law (because everyone is guilty of breaking the Law, according to Romans 3:19), God uses the moral law as the standard of righteousness in which to judge us of sin. Thus, the Law doesn’t save us, but it sanctifies us when we yield to the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, because through it we have the knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20).

So, then, what does Paul refer to when he says that we are justified apart from the Law (Rom. 3:21) through grace as a gift (v. 24)?

The context of these statements and the other teachings of the New Testament regarding the Law is clear:

While the moral law doesn’t save us, it is still in effect as a guide and standard for righteous living, but the ceremonial law is no longer in effect and has been totally done away with. This we know because circumcision (Rom. 3:30; Gal. 5:1-2) and animal sacrifices (Heb. 9:12-14) are always brought up in context of Paul teaching that the Law has been nullified in Christ.

Thus, Paul is affirming that the ceremonial law has been done away with in Christ because He was the perfect Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world (John 1:29) and in whom, by a single offering of Himself (Heb. 10:14), abolished the law of commandments and record of debt that were against us (Col. 2:13-14) because we violated them.

In Him we are no longer obligated to follow the Levitical system, for although the old covenant terms are no longer in effect and faded away (Heb. 8:13), the new covenant clearly is a more perfect continuation of the old covenant because of its prophetic fulfillment in the Messiah (Heb. 10:1).

The following are signs of a hypergrace church:

1. The preachers never speak against sin.

If you are in a church like this, you will notice that the word sin is usually only mentioned in the context of forgiveness of sins in Christ but hardly ever in the context of taking a stand against sin, except of course when they condemn the sin of “legalists” and “Pharisees” who are the ministers they denigrate for preaching against sin.

2. The lead pastor never takes a cultural stand for righteousness.

When issues like abortion come up, these pastors will shy away from mentioning it because they are afraid of offending new people. I can understand this to a point. But I counter that we as ministers of Christ are obligated to at least mention our positions publicly so that we use it as a teaching moment for the sheep following us. Not saying anything about an issue like abortion is another way of condoning it!

3. The Old Testament is almost totally ignored.

In these churches, the Old Testament is treated as only types and shadows for sermon illustrations but has no real value regarding our standard of living today. As I show in this article, my position is that the New Testament and Old Testament are organically connected, with the New building upon the Old, not eradicating it altogether!

4. People who live immoral lives are allowed to teach and lead ministries.

One pastor was telling me that sexual immorality and drunkenness is rampant in many evangelical churches—even amongst small group leaders and other leaders in local churches! This is because there is very little accountability.

5. The lead pastor speaks often against the institutional church.

Many hypergrace pastors constantly denounce churches that are conservative in their values because they believe those churches represent the “old school” that is no longer relevant to today’s culture.

6. The lead pastor preaches against tithing.

Although I believe tithing carried over into the New Testament, I believe it is more of a biblical principle that preceded the Law of Moses (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all tithed before Moses gave the Law), was taught by Jesus (Matt. 23) and was mentioned in other passages, like Hebrews 7.

These pastors denounce tithing as a law that was done away with in Christ. (For more on this, read my position paper entitled “Is Tithing in the New Testament?”)

7. The lead pastor only preaches positive motivational messages.

Those attending hypergrace churches only hear positive messages on health, wealth, prosperity, God’s love, God’s forgiveness and how to succeed in life. Although I also agree with and teach on these topics, we have to be careful to include in our preaching the whole counsel of God so that we feed the flock a balanced diet instead of just the sweetness of feel-good messages. We must do this so we are free from the blood of all men (Acts 20:26-27).

8. Key members of the church are regularly living sinful lives with impunity.

Those attending a hypergrace church will most likely find that, because of the strong emphasis on grace—with no teaching against sin or on repentance, judgment or hell—there is an atmosphere of loose living, with many involved in sexual immorality and drunkenness as well as other physical vices.

The reason for this is “the law is our schoolmaster that leads us to Christ” (Gal. 3:24) because through the (moral) law comes the knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20). If the moral law of the Ten Commandments is not preached or alluded to, then in ignorance the people will live foolish lives and will be like the blind leading to blind because “where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law” (Prov. 28:18).

In conclusion, there are many other things I could mention regarding hypergrace churches and their preaching, like how it is one step away from universalism (the belief that all people will eventually be saved, whether they believe the gospel or not, e.g. Love Wins by Rob Bell) and liberalism, because an increasing amount of Scripture is eviscerated because it is culturally offensive (like husbands being the head of the house, views on homosexuality, etc.).

I believe antinomianism is a dangerous trend in evangelicalism and is something we need to lovingly take a stand against with our brothers and sisters who espouse it.

6/28/2013 by Joseph Mattera | Original Source: charismamag.com "8 Signs of 'Hypergrace' Churches"
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Sin, Sleaze and Hyper Grace

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One of the biggest problems in the Christian church in the West today is that of antinomianism. The Greek word for law is nomos, and most folks know what the prefix anti means, so this term basically means “against the law” or just plain “lawlessness”.

The term can have various meanings, but theologically speaking it has to do with the belief that the Christian has no real obligation to, or involvement with, God’s law and righteousness. Because we are saved by grace alone, we are no longer under the law in any form, and we need not worry about the law and its demands.

grace 5Of course Paul had to deal with this error long ago. In Romans 6:1-2 he wrote: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

But in an age of so much shallow preaching, so many selfish and self-centred gospels being proclaimed, and so much dangerous hyper grace teaching being heard, it seems we now have an epidemic of antinomianism in our churches today.

Obligation-free Christian living is all the rage, where believers think that they can do whatever they like, even live like the devil, because everything is covered by God’s love and grace. The very concepts of sin, holiness, the wrath of God, and judgment to come, are almost never heard from so many pulpits today.

It is all about how God loves us unconditionally, his grace is all we need, and we should just enjoy life and have our best self now. That is the mush that is being preached more often than not, and as a result, standards of Christian behaviour seem to be at an all time low.

Christians are so blasé about their walk with the Lord, thinking God just looks down upon them and smiles a lot, that the very basic biblical notions of obedience, sanctification, holiness, and the crucified life are rapidly disappearing. Once again we see here a perfect example of lousy teaching leading to lousy living.

Orthodoxy is vital, as is orthopraxis. But when a false gospel is proclaimed, we will always see it worked out in sinful and disobedient lifestyles. Thus the constant need to guard the gospel, and make sure what we are proclaiming in fact is an expression of biblical truth.

Of course concern about this is not new. In addition to Paul dealing with it 2000 years ago, this has been the constant concern of men of God throughout church history. Let me offer just two voices who had to deal with this. They both warned repeatedly about these issues last century.

First, listen to A. W. Pink:

Healthy Christianity can only be maintained where the balance is properly preserved between a faithful exposition of the holy Law of God and a pressing of its claims upon the conscience, and by tenderly preaching the Gospel and applying its balm to stricken hearts. Where the former predominates to the virtual exclusion of the latter, self-righteous pharisaism is fostered; and where the proclamation of the Gospel ousts the requirements of the Law, Antinomian licentiousness is engendered. During the past hundred years Christendom has probably heard fifty Gospel sermons or addresses to one on the Law, and the consequence has indeed been disastrous and deplorable: a light and backboneless religion, with loose and careless walking.

Now the words of A. W. Tozer:

Antinomianism is the doctrine of grace carried by uncorrected logic to the point of absurdity.
It takes the teaching of justification by faith and twists it into deformity. The creed of the Antinomian is easily stated: “We are saved by faith alone; works have no place in salvation; conduct is works, and is therefore of no importance. What we do cannot matter as long as we believe rightly.

The divorce between creed and conduct is absolute and final. The question of sin is settled by the Cross; conduct is outside the circle of faith and cannot come between the believer and God.” Such in brief, is the teaching of the Antinomian. And so fully has it permeated the Fundamental element in modern Christianity that it is accepted by the religious masses as the very truth of God.

I write all this because on a daily basis I find evidence of this very thing. All around me I see people who profess to be believers who are living just like pagans. They seem to not have the slightest heart for holiness, a passion for purity, or a desire to be fully devoted to God.

Many would have put up their hand at an emotional gospel meeting some time ago, said a brief ‘sinners’ prayer, and now think they are home and hosed with nothing to worry about. They have their life insurance all ready, so now they can go back to living just like they always have.

They sing ten choruses of “Just As I Am” and leave just as they were. No real conversion seems to have taken place, and they are just as lawless now as they were when they were non-Christians. An example of all this which I just came upon today still has me shaking in my boots.

On the one hand it is absolutely unbelievable, but on the other hand it is easily believable. Given all the hyper grace antinomianism swirling all around us, this should not be surprising at all. I refer to Christians and the new book and film series, Fifty Shades of Grey.

I just wrote on this here:  billmuehlenberg.com “2015-02-10 | “fifty shades of sleaze”

And as I just wrote elsewhere, “If a ‘Christian’ tells you he/she has no problem reading/watching Fifty Shades of Grey, then I am quite willing to say that they are clearly not disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

But what made me absolutely shudder is this:

50-shades-grey-thumbOne of our nation’s leading Christian publishers conducted a survey asking respondents to name the most influential book they had read in the past year.

A startling number of women – Christian women – said “Fifty Shades of Grey” was their favorite book of the year.

Why is that so noteworthy?

Because the “Fifty Shades of Grey” books are a written form of pornography, plain and simple. It’s a book series that’s become nothing short of a cultural phenomenon, having sold more than 100 million copies in just a few short years.

Jim Daly of Focus on the Family continues:

The demand has been so intense a feature film is set to be released on Valentine’s Day weekend and talk of it has flooded mainstream entertainment news shows. There are reports that sex scenes comprise one-fifth of the film. Of course, it would be easy to simply slap a label on the material and dismiss it out-of-hand. But there’s a deeper issue we’d be missing. How and why has pornography ensnared so many women, including Christian women?

Can you imagine that?

Women who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ saying this was their favourite book of the year? Not only should they not be reading such filth, but to actually label it as their favourite? What in the world is wrong with these women?

I will tell you what is wrong: they are just deceiving themselves. They think they are Christians but they are not. Anyone who can happily swim in a cesspool of filth and sleaze and claim to be a disciple of Christ is fooling themselves big time.

Now I just happened to have somebody elsewhere throw this line at me: “Actually, many will and have and ARE real Christian women. It’s called temptation and sin and no Christian anywhere is exempt from this. Saying a Christian is not a real Christian because they’ve engaged in something sinful is not what I would think a real Christian would say about another Christian.”

I replied to him as follows:

You miss the point big time. Yes we are all tempted and we all can fall. Our attitude is crucial here: when we sin, do we agree with God and say it is wrong and repent, or do we keep happily sinning, thinking it is no big deal? The attitude here makes all the difference in the world. The real Christian always hates sin and avoids it as much as possible. The fake Christian has no problems at all with indulging in porn like this and even justifying it.

And spare us this unbiblical foolishness that we can never exhort and encourage one another in holiness. If a brother or sister is living in sin, it is our obligation under God to warn them, speak to them, and pray for them. We are to love them enough to confront them.

But this mindset is all around us.

Sin is no big deal, because God accepts us just as we are, and makes no demands on any of us. This is antinomianism pure and simple. It is the deadly error of the hyper grace movement. It is cheap grace, and no genuine disciple of Christ should have anything to do with these damnable errors.

Biblical grace never makes excuses for sin. Real grace always leads us to holy living. Anything else is a sham.

Let me finish with a few words about real grace vs false grace from some great Christians:

The grace that does not make a man better than others is a worthless counterfeit. Christ saves His people, not IN their sins, but FROM their sins. Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.
-Charles Spurgeon

Grace is the mother and nurse of holiness, not the apologist of sin.
-Charles Spurgeon

Any concept of grace that makes us feel more comfortable sinning is not biblical grace. God’s grace never encourages us to live in sin, on the contrary, it empowers us to say no to sin and yes to truth.
-Randy Alcorn

Grace is not simply leniency when we have sinned. Grace is the enabling gift of God not to sin. Grace is power, not just pardon.
-John Piper

Published: 15.2.15 | Bill Muehlenberg’s CultureWatch | Source: billmuehlenberg.com "Sin, Sleaze and Hyper Grace"
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Four Hyper-Grace Fallacies

Hyper-grace (03)

As I dialogue with believers across a large spectrum of theological perspectives, it is clear that we often talk right past each other, disagreeing with each other before we even understand each other. Just as often, we uphold our own beliefs by misrepresenting the positions we reject. This does nothing to advance true understanding or dialogue.

While writing Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message, I read the books of the key teachers very carefully, praying that God would show me blind spots in my own life, that he would expose any legalistic thinking within me, and that he would open my eyes to any grace insights these teachers had that I might be lacking.
I did not see myself as God’s policeman, and even when a position seemed extreme, I tried to consider the point the author was making rather than reject it out of hand. (To be candid, some positions were so extreme and unbiblical they had to be rejected out of hand.)

I also interacted with some of the key hyper-grace leaders, sharing my differences, making sure I understood them correctly, and even offering to send them parts of Hyper-Grace in advance to be sure I was representing them fairly.

And I listened carefully to the testimonies of those who had been transformed by the hyper-grace message, wanting to be careful to affirm the life-giving truths they had received while correcting the errors that often accompanied those truths.

It is against this backdrop of careful, prayer study and interaction that I present four of the most common hyper-grace fallacies.

1. The reason people reject the hyper-grace message is because they don’t understand it. I’ve heard this objection repeatedly, only for hyper-grace adherents to explain to me exactly what I already knew.

Why can’t the disagreement be based on real substance? And with all the claims of a new grace reformation, is it any surprise that committed believers who love the Lord and love the Word are questioning this allegedly new insight into the Scriptures, one which has supposedly been hidden for centuries?

I have stated repeatedly that every hyper-grace teacher I have listened to or read has stated clearly that the message of grace does not give us a license to sin. And I have affirmed with them that the more we love Jesus, the less we will want to sin. Absolutely!

Yet hyper-grace teachers and adherents will constantly say to me, “How dare you say we are giving people a license to sin. It’s obvious you don’t understand our message.”

To the contrary, it is because I understand the hyper-grace message that I reject those parts of it that are unbiblical.

2. Those who reject the hyper-grace message are grace haters. This is as foolish as claiming that those who reject counterfeit money are money haters. (To be clear, I’m not calling the hyper-grace message a counterfeit message, since it contains much wonderful truth; I’m simply making a point by using an analogy.)

Of course, it’s convenient to castigate those of us who reject the hyper-grace message, calling us grace-haters and worse. But that’s no better than me saying, “Those who embrace the hyper-grace message are holiness haters.”

Do accusations like this do anyone any good?

In reality, it is because we love the message of grace that we are concerned about the hyper-grace message, since it represents an exaggerated, distorted form of grace.

3. Rejecting the hyper-grace message means going back into bondage and legalism. It is certainly possible that some people who reject the hyper-grace message swing to the other extreme and fall into legalism. (I describe legalism as rules without relationship, standards without a Savior, and laws without love. In short, legalism is externally imposed religion.)

The fact is that there are plenty of us who reject the hyper-grace message and live without a trace of condemnation, enjoying the goodness of God and responding to that goodness with a life of joyful obedience, walking in glorious, non-performance-based freedom, reveling day and night in the Father’s love.

But we reject the hyper-grace message because it teaches biblical falsehoods which pollute the message of grace and, over time, can lead to backsliding and spiritual shipwreck

4. The reason pastors and leaders oppose the hyper-grace message is because they want to control people and make money off of them. This is one of the most ugly, judgmental, fear-inducing comments imaginable, but I actually hear it a lot.

Ironically, some of the leading hyper-grace teachers have become bestselling authors and grown large ministries by preaching hyper-grace, yet their followers don’t accuse them of doing it for money. How interesting! For the record, though, I don’t accuse them of teaching hyper-grace for financial gain. Instead, I believe they teach it because they believe it to be biblical, just as I reject the teaching of hyper-grace because I don’t believe it to be biblical.

Mocking social media comments like this one, attacking those of us who reject the modern grace message, are all too common: “We must restore the TRUTH of the trinity to the Church: Money, Bible and Minister. We will lose our hold over people and our private jets if we don’t.”

Those who believe such nonsense evidence a lack of grace in their own lives.

The bottom line is that Jesus said that the truth sets us free (John 8:32), and if the message of hyper-grace is not true, as I and many others contend, then it is by rejecting that error and embracing the full testimony of God’s Word – thereby embracing God’s true grace – that freedom and liberty will come.
That also means rejecting these common hyper-grace fallacies.

January 7, 2014 | by Michael Brown, CP OP-ED Contributor | Source: christianpost.com "Four Hyper-Grace Fallacies"
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Question: “What is hyper-grace?”

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Answer:

The term hyper-grace has been used to describe a new wave of teaching that emphasizes the grace of God to the exclusion of other vital teachings such as repentance and confession of sin.

cross_icon Hyper-grace teachers maintain that all sin, past, present, and future, has already been forgiven, so there is no need for a believer to ever confess it.

cross_icon Hyper-grace teaching says that, when God looks at us, He sees only a holy and righteous people.

cross_icon The conclusion of hyper-grace teaching is that we are not bound by Jesus’ teaching, even as we are not under the Law; that believers are not responsible for their sin; and that anyone who disagrees is a pharisaical legalist.

cross_icon In short, hyper-grace teachers “pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality” (Jude 1:4) and flirt with antinomianism.1)http://www.gotquestions.org/antinomianism.html

Jesus’ words to the seven churches in the book of Revelation strongly contradict the idea that Christians never need to repent.

To the church at Ephesus, Jesus said, “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place” (Revelation 2:4).

Jesus rebukes five of the seven churches and demands repentance from them (Revelation 2:4,6,20; Revelation 3:3,15-19). Far from believers being unaccountable for their sin, they must answer to Jesus for their disobedience (see also 2 Corinthians 5:10).

cross_icon Preachers of hyper-grace doctrine discount the Old Testament and the Ten Commandments as irrelevant to New Testament believers.

cross_icon They even teach that Jesus’ words spoken before His resurrection are part of the Old Covenant and no longer applicable to born-again believers.

But is this true?

In Mark 13:31, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He promised that the Father would send the Holy Spirit who “will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).

If Jesus’ words are no longer applicable to believers, why would we need to be reminded of them?

Hyper-grace teaching is a good example of mixing truth with error.
An emphasis on the beauty and power of God’s grace is good, but some teachers are neglecting what Paul called the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

For example, it is true that Christians have been forgiven by God.

But that doesn’t mean we never have to confess our sin. James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” If we are to confess our sins to each other, why would we not need to confess them to God, since every sin is ultimately a sin against God (Psalm 51:4)?

Also, 1 John 1:9 gives clear instruction to believers about confessing sin.2)http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-sin.html

It begins with the word if:

If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This is a cause/effect statement implying that we cannot have the second without the first.

As blood-bought children of God, we do not continue to confess our sin in order to be saved from hell. We confess and repent in order to reestablish an intimate relationship with our Father. We are “positionally righteous” but “practically sinful.”

cross_icon To counter this argument, hyper-grace preachers deny that John’s letters were written to believers.

However, 1 John 2:1 begins with this:

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” John is clearly writing to believers whom he personally knew. He indicates that his believing friends may indeed sin, and that, when they do, they need to confess it.

cross_icon Hyper-grace preachers also claim the Holy Spirit will never convict Christians of their sin.

Mature Christians should recognize this fallacy right away. Every disciple of Christ has felt the overwhelming conviction of the Holy Spirit when he or she has sinned. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of Truth” (John 15:26).

Truth, by its very definition, will not tolerate anything false.

When the Spirit of Truth abides in a believing heart (1 Corinthians 6:19), He brings conviction about anything that is not truth.

In summary, much of what the hyper-grace preachers teach is valid.

We are indeed saved by grace, not our works (Ephesians 2:8–9). And God’s grace is marvelous, great, and free (1 Timothy 1:14).

However, hyper-grace teaching is out of proportion to the rest of Scripture.
Any time one doctrine is emphasized to the exclusion of the rest, we fall into error because we fail to “correctly handle” the Word (2 Timothy 2:15).
Jesus was full of both “grace and truth” (John 1:14).

The two are in delicate balance, and a tip to either side can result in a false gospel.

We must always compare any new teaching with the “whole counsel of God” and learn to disregard anything that veers even slightly from the truth (1 John 4:1).

Source: gotquestions.org "What is hyper-grace?"
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References   [ + ]

1. http://www.gotquestions.org/antinomianism.html
2. http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-sin.html

Analyzing Joseph Prince And His Radical Grace Teaching

Hyper-grace (03)

Since there has been a wave of articles against hyper-grace preaching and churches in the past year, I decided to read a key book authored by Joseph Prince, who is considered by many the main progenitor of this genre of teaching.

Recently I read his book Destined to Reign: The Secret to Effortless Success, Wholeness and Victorious Living1)http://www.amazon.com/Destined-Reign-Effortless-Wholeness-Victorious/dp/1606830090 to find out for myself what he really teaches.  Half of the Christians I know who read this book loved it and the other half thought it was heresy. Because of this I was quite interested in the content because I have never seen mature Christians, who know the Word of God, be so divided on any author since the beginning of the Word of Faith teachings by Hagin and Copeland in the 1970’s and 80’s.

I must admit that I started off the book with a suspicious view because for the last 35 years I have seen some of the catastrophic results of various types of hyper-grace Christianity.

To my surprise I actually really enjoyed the book and as a result I will make some adjustments in how I present the gospel! This is not to say there were not some theological issues I am concerned about. Prince makes the same mistake thousands before him have made: He comes up with a theological system (Prince is a “once saved always saved” classical dispensationalist) that he is comfortable with and then deductively reads every particular biblical passage through this biased lens, resulting in forcing the Scriptures to fit into his system.  Many people make the mistake of wanting to easily fit God into a concise theological box resulting in blanket statements that are not always easily proven or true.

The greatest thing about the book and Prince’s theology is that it is Christ-exalting and Christ-centered! His main passion is not grace but Jesus, which is a place the whole church needs to be, but often is not. (Prince believes grace and the person of Christ are synonymous.)

In spite of its flaws, I will actually recommend this book to certain Christians suffering from a performance trap in which they try to earn God’s favor and love by things they do instead of through the merit of Christ’s finished work.  There is enough good stuff in this book for new believers and those struggling with guilt to get them on a good foundation, as long as this book is coupled with other books and teachings to bring it balance.

Like many popular preachers who start trends, many other preachers read their stuff and take it to an extreme, teaching things the initial preacher never intended. This is probably happening with Prince. I do not get the impression Prince believes in cheap grace or that a person who really understands his heart and teachings will lead to people diving into sin. But there are certain places where it is easy for the theologically untrained to take it too far and preach a cheap or hyper-grace message. Prince makes it clear that he hates sin and also preaches from the Old Testament to exalt Christ. Also, having recently been to Malaysia and speaking to leaders there, they explained to me that Prince’s teaching is in the context of a culture burdened with a performance mentality- something that his teaching confronts directly.

The following are some of my concerns with Prince’s book:

(Since this is not an academic treatise, I am not citing the exact page for each of Prince’s statements; you will have to read the whole book to find specific page references.)

1. He makes blanket statements and tries to fit all of Scripture within his system

For example, in this book Prince says it is not necessary to confess our sins and that Paul’s epistles never give an example of a believer confessing sin. He says this because he believes that all of our sins, both past and future, have already been forgiven (something I agree with in principle), and that we should just be honest with God and speak to Him about our failures. But, he says, this is not the same as confession of sin for forgiveness. This is a merely a cute play on words because speaking to God about our sins is going to lead to confession anyway!

Here is my issue with this: In 1 John 1:9 John teaches us to confess our sins. Although Prince acknowledges this passage refutes his teaching on radical grace, he tries to get around it by saying this passage was written to the Gnostics in the church—something he states without citing any commentaries, sources, or historical evidence. I counter that the context of 1 John shows he was writing to believers (he calls them his “dear children” in 2:1; also remember, originally this letter had no chapters or verses, thus “children” in 2:1 is connected to the first chapter). Although the Apostle John was dealing with Gnosticism in this epistle (when he spoke about the humanity of Christ in 1 John 1:1 and 4:2-3 and the fact Jesus came in the flesh, a fact Gnostics refute because they believe Jesus only came as a spirit because they believe the realm of the flesh is evil), the recipients of this letter were not Gnostics but true believers who were being warned against Gnosticism.

Furthermore, if 1 John 1:9 was written to unbelievers then why would John tell them to confess their sins? It’s impossible for an unbeliever to recount and confess all the sins they ever committed! When I came to Christ I did not confess each and every individual sin of my past 19 years; I just surrendered my heart to Christ and asked him to forgive me for being a sinner. When a person comes to Christ they are not commanded to confess their sins but to receive Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10; Acts 16:31). Only a Christian can remember and confess individual sins, as they are committed.

Furthermore, James 5:16 also teaches believers to confess their sins. Lastly, Paul actually implies confession of sin in 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 when he encourages the Corinthian church to repent and have “godly sorrow”.

2. Prince bases his theology only on the writings of Paul

I find it interesting that Prince says he only preaches the gospel Paul preaches. Although I admire Paul, Prince has to be careful with statements like these because he can give the impression the other writings of the New Testament are not inspired or even canonical! (Even the Gnostics only cited Paul and disregarded the other epistles as well as the Old Testament!)

He seems to only quote the gospels occasionally, which gives me the impression he probably believes many of the teachings in the gospels are not relevant to the church age because the gospels mostly deal with Christ before His resurrection. This will enable Prince (and typical hyper-dispensationalists) to avoid dealing with the command for believers to take up their cross (Mark 8:34-36) and other such passages that demand high commitment.

I believe that any teacher who is called to preach like Paul the Apostle must preach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), which means they need to include equally the Gospels and the epistles of John, Jude, Peter and James, as well as the book of Hebrews and the entire Old Testament.

3. Prince doesn’t clearly define the role of the moral law of God

Prince teaches that Old Testament law is not necessary anymore for the church; he makes a simple dichotomy between both covenants. He doesn’t even make an allowance for the need for the moral law of God (the Ten Commandments) except to show us how sinful and lost we are.

The challenge with this simplified view of the Old Testament is that Paul the Apostle told us to know the Old Testament so we would not set our hearts on evil things and sin as the Jewish nation did (1 Corinthians 10:6). Thus, the moral law is still necessary to keep the church in line, according to Paul!

Prince says there is no room for preaching the law of God in the church and that God only blesses the message of grace. However, church history does not back up this statement. Charles Finney was perhaps the greatest evangelist in American history and he would regularly preach the moral law of God to convict people of their sin and then present the gospel to get them saved and consecrated. He preached the law of God to both saint and sinner. You can also throw into the mix Jonathan Edwards as a powerful preacher who used the law of God in his messages.

Prince would probably say these men preached a mixture of law and grace. However, the fruit of their ministries shows their works and messages were greatly blessed of God and had historic results!

I personally teach regularly on the law of God in the church with great effect and fruit! Prince would probably say that I preach a mixture of law and grace. But if I stand in the company of Finney and Edwards, who used the moral law as a standard to convict sin, I will take his criticism with a smile!

I believe the moral law is still needed or else there would be no conviction of sin and our standard of righteousness would collapse down to the ethos of the surrounding culture.

Furthermore, the moral law was repeated in the New Testament, even by Paul, in Ephesians chapters 4, 5, and 6 when he told the church not to steal, not to be angry, not to covet, not to commit sexual immorality, not to be idolaters and to honor their fathers and mothers. (All the New Testament writers repeatedly used the Ten Commandments as the standard of holiness for the church because it reflects the nature and character of God.)

Even when Jesus gave His followers a new commandment to love one another (John 13:34) He was still using love as a law to obligate the church to a standard of living—something Paul repeats in Romans 13:8-10.

Thus Prince lumps the moral law (the Ten Commandments) with the ceremonial law of God and says that both have been done away with and are not relevant to the church.  But he fails to realize that, every time Paul deals with the law, the context (Galatians, Romans, Colossians) is always circumcision, animal sacrifices and the observance of the Sabbath and holy days. Hence Paul is primarily referring to the ceremonial aspects of the law, not the Ten Commandments.

Prince brings out that Paul calls the Ten Commandments the “ministration of death” in 2 Corinthians 3:7. However, I would counter that, in spite of this, Paul and the other New Testament writers continually used the Ten Commandments as the standard of ethics for the church. “Ministration of death” means this: Without Christ we are all guilty before God, a point we all agree with.

Galatians 3:24 call the law our schoolmaster that leads us to Christ; thus it is a standard of holiness that brings conviction and leads us to depend upon the grace of Christ to fulfill.  Romans 8:4 clearly teaches us that the Holy Spirit empowers us to fulfill the righteous requirements of the law; thus its standards are still a requirement for functional holiness. Furthermore, the strength of sin is the law (1 Cor. 15:56) but a main point of the New Testament is that Jesus gives us the power to live righteously through His Spirit; it is not just imputed righteousness from Christ with no obligation on our part. When we break the Ten Commandments it is still a sin that believers have to repent of and confess to the Lord for forgiveness.

I do agree with Prince that we need to be Christ-focused and Christ-conscious to have victory over sin and we can only have faith and grace to walk in victory through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, not our own merit. We part ways because I still contend that the Ten Commandments are still necessary as our standard for how Jesus wants us to live by His power and grace. The law doesn’t save us; it reminds us of our sinfulness and as a schoolmaster leads us to depend on Christ alone.

To summarize this point: I don’t agree with Prince when he says we don’t need the law to govern our behavior (he says we just need grace) because, from my perspective, grace uses the standard of the moral law as it is repeated over and over in the New Testament.

4. Prince believes in “once saved always saved”

As a typical dispensationalist, Prince believes that once a person receives Jesus Christ as Savior they can never lose their salvation. (Some know this as the doctrine of “eternal security”.)

The challenge I have with this teaching is its failure to interpret individual passages honestly that disagree with this particular system. For example, Hebrews 6:1-8 and 10:24-29 clearly teach that people, after receiving the saving knowledge of Christ, can fall away and lose their salvation. Second Peter 2:20-22 and James 5:19-20 are as clear as tar on snow that a believer can fall away and once again be called sinners who have to be restored. There are numerous other passages I could cite but will not for time’s sake.

I am more comfortable with the Reformed understanding of salvation that teaches people can experience the fruits of salvation while never being “chosen from the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4) in which case they will not remain in the Body of Christ because they were never a part of the Body to begin with. (First John 2:19 seems to teach the doctrine of the “perseverance of the saints”.) This is the only position that I have found sufficient to effectively deal with the conundrum of Scripture that seems to teach both eternal security and that a believer can fall away. I take the position of the Apostle Peter: I may think I am saved but I have to endeavor to make my calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10)!

5. Prince teaches that God can’t get angry or punish Christians

Prince says God does not get angry with Christians.

But what about the admonition in Ephesians 4 to not grieve the Holy Spirit? (In Ephesians 4:30 “grieves” means to cause great sorrow and distress, which is akin to causing anger.) Even stronger is Paul’s warning in Ephesians 5:6 against living an immoral life that brings God’s wrath on the disobedient. (The clear context for those who are “disobedient” is that this letter was written to the church of Ephesus. Thus God can have wrath towards Christians!)

What about the sin of death in 1 John 5:16? Whether this refers to physical or spiritual death has been debated for centuries. However, the main point is that a believer can commit a sin so severe it can result in death. (I believe it is referring to physical death which correlates also to 1 Corinthians 11:30. Also in 1 Corinthians 5:1-6 where Paul wanted to hand over a man to Satan for the destruction of his flesh because he slept with his father’s wife.)

Finally, what does Prince do about Jesus’ words to the seven churches in Asia Minor in Revelation chapters 2 and 3? In these letters Jesus not only punishes but also threatens to remove whole churches from their cities unless they repent (Revelation 2:6)! In 2:16 Jesus tells the church of Pergamum to repent or He will come and fight against some in their church. In 2:22-23 Jesus tells those who are under the influence of Jezebel that He will kill them unless they repent. Finally, Jesus tells the church of Laodicea that He is about to vomit them out of His mouth (Rev. 3:15-16)! Strong words indeed that do not nicely fit into the theology of Joseph Prince!

6. Prince says God is not judging any nation because of the cross

Prince teaches that God did not judge Sodom until Lot was removed, thus making a case that God will not judge any nation that has a presence of believers in it. What Prince fails to realize is that the Old Testament is replete with illustrations in which God judged the nations of Israel and Judah by disinheriting them even though there was a remnant left who believed (Isaiah 6:13).

Furthermore, in Matthew 11:20-24 Jesus speaks about corporate judgment coming upon cities and towns because they rejected Him. Obviously, it is difficult to subjectively prove post-biblically if God has judged nations and empires after the cross, since God often uses the militaries of other nations, natural disasters, and their own foolishness to lay low peoples and nations. Furthermore, in AD 70 God judged the nation of the Jews and Jerusalem for rejecting Christ (when the Roman armies sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish temple) as Jesus predicted would happen within one generation (Matthew 24:34; Luke 21:20) even though it was almost 40 years after His resurrection.

7. Prince preaches an individualistic gospel that is disconnected from the Cultural Commission of Genesis 1:28

(Read my recent article “Ten Negative Consequences of Separating the Gospel from the Kingdom”)

Perhaps one of the biggest flaws of Prince’s radical grace doctrine is his dispensational belief system that doesn’t allow him to connect the gospel to the Cultural Commission in Genesis 1:28.

Believers who embrace the original Cultural Commission God gave humanity through Adam and Eve (and reconfirmed to Noah after the Fall in Genesis 9:1-2) realize that we need the moral and civic law to understand how to disciple nations (Matthew 28:19). The Ten Commandments are not just individual commands for piety and holiness but were primarily given as a corporate structure to disciple the burgeoning nation of Israel (read Exodus 20:1-2). First Timothy 1:8-11 alludes to the corporate reality of the law when it says that the law wasn’t given to righteous men but for the unrighteous. (There has been only one righteous man on the earth who didn’t need the law to know how to be holy: Jesus!) The fact that Paul deals with slave trading and/or kidnapping shows that he was also dealing with systemic sin and not just individual sin in this passage.

In summary

Although I thought Prince’s book has a lot of great insights, and was worth the read, I am concerned that many will take his writings to an extreme. His radical grace perspective can lead to seeking Jesus without obedience to simple and obvious things like being committed to a local church, tithing and walking in love. (Even though Prince pushes church attendance and giving, in principle his theology can make it easy to dismiss these practices.)

Prince also seems to be against the spiritual discipline of fasting. (Although I understand his point in this matter, I still believe it is very important to practice albeit not for salvation.)

Not connecting his teaching to the Cultural Commission in Genesis 1:28 also puts it on a faulty foundation and leads people to disconnect the gospel from the Kingdom of God, thus leading to self-focus and narcissism. (The kingdom message connects redeemed individuals to their corporate responsibility to serve their communities.)

In spite of all this, it may be a great book for some new believers (although I believe young children and new Christians need to be taught the Ten Commandments as a standard for ethics in the church and world) and especially for those who constantly walk around with guilt and condemnation.

If radical grace is taught in the context of the message of the Kingdom of God to give it balance, it could be a great teaching that lifts up Jesus and transforms individual lives who could transform nations.

by Joseph Mattera | MARCH 9, 2015 | Original Source: josephmattera.org "Analyzing Joseph Prince And His Radical Grace Teaching"
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References   [ + ]

1. http://www.amazon.com/Destined-Reign-Effortless-Wholeness-Victorious/dp/1606830090

Dr. Paul Ellis Underscores the Errors of Hyper-Grace

Hyper-grace (03)

Before I even sent in my article, “Some Honest Questions for Joseph Prince,” to the CharismaNews.com website, I expected Dr. Paul Ellis to post a response – and to do it very quickly.

I was not disappointed. My article was posted on January 23rd, and his article, “Some Honest Answer for Michael Brown,” was posted on January 24th. Thank you, Dr. Ellis, for the quick turnaround!

Dr. Ellis and I have interacted privately via email a number of times, and at some point, I hope to write a rebuttal to his book-length response to my book on hyper-grace, since I found his book greatly lacking at many points, not to mention poorly representing my own position and, at times, misinterpreting the Word.

But we are brothers in the Lord, we celebrate the same death and resurrection of the same Lord Jesus in whom we have forgiveness and redemption, and we are both lovers of grace. In fact, I resonate with so much of what Dr. Ellis has written (he has lots of terrific insights, and he loves righteousness and hates sin) but I believe his teaching is mixed with some serious error as well. (I imagine he feels the same about me.)

For the purpose of growing in understanding before the Lord and holding faithfully to His Word, I’ve written this response to his article, “Some Honest Answers for Michael Brown.”

What follows below is Dr. Ellis’s posting of each of my questions to Pastor Prince (some of which he broke up into two parts or shortened) – these will be in bold – followed by his response, which will be italics, followed by mine, in regular type. And note that he wrote his article “on behalf of all who embrace the gospel of grace.”

  1. Does God require anything from you as his child, other than receive his grace? If so, are there spiritual benefits that come through obeying these requirements and spiritual losses that come from ignoring them?

Ephesians 1:3 tells us that every spiritual blessing comes to us through Christ. There are no extra blessings that come to us separately from Christ and in response to our obedience. All is grace.

First, this avoids the simple question of, “Does God require anything from you as his child, other than receive his grace?” Of course He does. Jesus says that not everyone who says to Him, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven but only those who do the will of His Father (Matthew 7:21). He also said that if anyone would come after Him, he must deny Himself and take up the cross and follow Him (Mark 8:34).

Paul in his letters lists many things that God requires of us – after all, we have received Jesus as our Lord and it is now our sacred calling to do His will – not to be saved but because we are saved. Just take out your Bibles and read Ephesians 5:1-6 (or, if you like, start in the fourth chapter and read through to the end of the fifth) and very clearly, Paul tells us how we are to live and warns us about the dangers of deviation from God’s ways. Or read 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 (again, among many other passages), where Paul lays out what God requires of us as His children.

Second, Dr. Ellis rephrases his answer to make it fit with his theology, stating, “There are no extra blessings that come to us separately from Christ and in response to our obedience.”

Who ever said anything about doing anything “separately from Christ”? Everything we do for God is in and through Jesus.

At the same time, the New Testament tells us over and over again that certain lifestyles will bring greater blessing than others. For example, Jesus taught that if we walked in unity with Him and stored His words in our hearts, we would bear much, lasting fruit, which is why some believers bear much more fruit than others (John 15:1-9). That’s also why Paul urged Timothy to live a certain way before God, separating himself from what was unclean, to have the maximum effectiveness in the Lord (see 2 Timothy 2:19-21).

Without a doubt, every spiritual blessing we could ever need is found in Jesus. But those blessings are accessed through obedience and faith, and the believer who is lax and careless in his walk with God cannot say, “It’s all grace!” and then expect the same effectiveness and blessing as the one who serves faithfully – by grace, of course.

  1. Is it possible for us to displease the Lord? Is he always pleased with us? Can we grieve the Holy Spirit?

As I say elsewhere, the notion that “Hyper-grace preachers say God is not grieved by your sin” is a myth. Your choices and behavior can grieve the Holy Spirit, but only because he cares for you and wants you to prosper in every area of your life. Your behavior matters because you matter. But don’t confuse behavior with identity. You are not defined by what you do. Your identity is Christ and in him you are and always will be 100 percent pleasing and acceptable to God.

This is seriously wrong on several fronts.

First, Dr. Ellis has just contradicted his previous answer, since he says here that God doesn’t want us to sin because we won’t fully prosper if we do, yet in the previous answer he said that, “There are no extra blessings that come to us separately from Christ and in response to our obedience.” Both can’t be true.

Second, our sin grieves God not “only” because He cares for us – although He certainly cares for us far more than we could ever imagine and He absolutely grieves for the harm we do to ourselves – but our sin also grieves God because it is an affront to His holiness and because often, our sin brings reproach to the name of Jesus. Dr. Ellis’s answer is part of the “it’s all about me” mentality of this generation, sad to say.

Third, Dr. Ellis makes a wrong distinction between behavior and identity. True, my identity is not defined by my behavior, and so, when I was a rebellious 15-year-old, I was still my father’s son, deeply loved by him. But my behavior grieved and displeased him. In the same way, as attested from Genesis to Revelation, our disobedience displeases our Father, who still loves us as His children but who is not pleased with our sinful conduct, especially because we are His children.

In Hyper-Grace, I cite numerous verses from the New Testament where the Lord calls us to please Him or where He expresses His displeasure with us. A simple reading of Revelation 2-3, the words of Jesus to seven congregations in Asia Minor, indicates that it is scriptural nonsense to claim that “we are and always will be 100 percent pleasing and acceptable to God.” Not so. Paul’s corrections to the Corinthian church are another reminder that we are not always “100 percent pleasing” to God.

  1. If the Lord always sees you as perfect, is there any way for you to disappoint him? I’ve heard it said that we can only grieve or disappoint him by not trusting his grace, but according to your message, hasn’t that sin been forgiven as well?

Yes, every sin was carried on the cross and in Christ we are completely and eternally forgiven. Still, there are things we can do that make the Lord sad, such as being slow of heart to believe the good news of his grace.

As demonstrated in Hyper-Grace, and as Dr. Ellis acknowledged in his rebuttal, there is not a single verse in the Bible that states that when we get saved, God pronounces our future sins forgiven. As Dr. Ellis wrote, “Dr. Brown notes that there is not one verse in the Bible that pronounces us already forgiven for our future sins (page 43). Nor is there any verse that says Jesus will come and die a second time for your sins” (pp. 54-55).

But that’s whole point. There is no verse that says “Jesus will come and die a second time for your sins” because He won’t, just as there is no verse that says that God “pronounces us already forgiven for our future sins” because He doesn’t. Jesus paid for our sins once and for all on the cross, but the blood is applied to our lives the moment we are saved and then in an ongoing way once we are saved (notice the present continuous tense of the Greek in 1 John 1:7).

Without a doubt, we are placed in the “forgiven” column the moment we are born again, and without a doubt, all our sins were paid in full at the cross. But throughout Scripture, God forgives sins we have committed, not sins we have not yet committed.

  1. If God has pronounced your future sins forgiven in the same way he has pronounced your past sins forgiven, why do Paul and other New Testament writers address these very sins in their letters? Why does God bring our present sins up to us in the New Testament, even warning us about the dangers of walking in those sins, if they have also been forgiven and forgotten in advance?

God will never judge or punish you for the sins that Christ bore on the cross. The audacious claim that he chooses not to remember or record your sins comes straight from scripture (Rom 4:7-8, 2 Cor 5:19). In Christ, you have received redemption and the forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7, Col 1:14). So why do Paul and the other NT writers talk about sin? Because sin is destructive. Sin can hurt you. Your Father loves you too much to say nothing while you ruin your life. Your sin won’t undo the work of the cross, but it could undo you, your marriage, and your family.

We agree that sin can be deadly and costly. Where we disagree is whether sin can “undo the work of the cross.” In short, in the same way an unbeliever can reject the finished work of Jesus, thereby not receiving the forgiveness that was paid for, numerous exhortations in the New Testament indicate that as believers, we can walk away from God’s mercy and reject His grace, thereby forfeiting our salvation. There is absolute security in Jesus, but if we absolutely reject Him, we lose that security.

5a. A leading hyper-grace teacher claims that the doctrine of progressive sanctification is a “spiritually murderous lie”…

Clark Whitten makes this claim (on page 28 of his excellent book Pure Grace) and I agree with him. The “saved by grace but perfected by human effort” teaching has produced a church that is, in Whitten’s words, “judgmental, angry, hopeless, helpless, dependent, fearful, uninspired, ineffective, and perpetually spiritually immature.” He’s right. The idea that sanctification is something we produce is a stone cold grace-killer.

I take issue with Clark Whitten a number of times in Hyper-Grace, pointing in particular to his harsh rhetoric against other believers who do not embrace his message. (Note here his exaggerated assessment of churches that do not embrace hyper-grace.) The reality is that some of the finest, most vibrant, Jesus-exalting, fruit-bearing, Spirit-empowered churches in the world are those which preach a message of scriptural sanctification and reject hyper-grace.

But again, Dr. Ellis has misrepresented the question and painted a misleading picture when he claims that I’m saying that “sanctification is something we produce.” This is a common trait (intentional or not) in hyper-grace circles, namely the caricaturing of an argument to sidestep the real issue. According to the Scriptures, sanctification is both instantaneous and a process, yet all of it is done with the Spirit’s help and we are active participants in all of it, as I’ll explain in the next answer.

5b. If “progressive sanctification” simply means to walk out our holiness with the help of the Spirit, what is so dangerous about this teaching?

There is nothing dangerous about it, since that is what scripture and hyper-grace teachers teach. In Christ we are 100 percent holy. The message we preach is “be who you truly are.” But this is not progressive sanctification as most understand the phrase, or as Michael himself describes in his Hyper-grace book when he says our sanctification is positional (ie: not real) and something to pursue. Michael insists “sanctification is a process!” (p.100) and he interprets New Testament exhortations as demands and requirements that must be obeyed, but I smell carrots and sticks.

Notice again the rhetoric (“I smell carrots and sticks”) along with the misrepresentation of progressive sanctification. Let me clarify.

First, I actually teach what he claims I don’t teach, namely that the moment we are saved, we are set apart by God as holy and called “holy ones” (saints). That is our identity in Jesus – saints, not sinners – and now we are called to live that out. That’s why Peter writes, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:14-16)

Unfortunately, many in the hyper-grace camp react against calls to holiness, branding it legalism and calling you a grace hater. (If I had spoken these words rather than Peter, I would certainly be accused of hating grace or misunderstanding grace.) And notice that Peter does not first say to his readers, “You are already 100% holy; just be who you are.” He simply calls them, as beloved children of the Father, to live lives of obedience and holiness.

Second, Dr. Ellis is entirely wrong to say that “positional” holiness is “not real.” Of course it’s real. It’s simply not the entire story. In other words, just as, in a real sense, we are seated with Jesus in heavenly places (this is positional and it is real), in another sense, we still live in this world, in earthly bodies. Both are true. In the same way, we have already been made holy and we are being made holy, meaning, walking that holiness out. Both are true.

Third, hyper-grace theology breaks down at the foot of the Word of God, having to reinterpret verses like 2 Corinthians 7:1, where Paul writes, “Since we have these promises [see 2 Corinthians 6:16-18], beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” Our holiness has not yet been completed; it is progressive, according to the Word.

Similarly, Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality,” after which Paul gives specific instructions for how we are to live, closing this with, “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.”

Unfortunately, Dr. Ellis must conform the Word to fit his theology, as illustrated by his paraphrase of 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (also p. 73). The verse states, “May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through” (1 Thessalonians 5: 23a). He rewrites it to say, “Sanctification is God’s work, not yours. Just as His gift of salvation is something to work out in your life, so is His sanctification. You already have it, so enjoy it!”

That is not what Paul was praying for. He recognized the “already-not-yet” aspect of our experience: We are holy but we are not perfectly holy in every area of our lives, as we will be when Jesus returns and we become like Him in a way beyond what we have experienced so far (1 John 3:2). And in this world, as God’s holy people, we are to grow in holiness.

  1. We agree that the Holy Spirit never condemns us for our sins as believers, but does he ever make us uncomfortable when we sin?

Jesus called him the Comforter, not the Discomforter, so I guess not (John 14:16). I have written elsewhere on how God deals with us when we sin.

This too is wrong on several fronts. First, although the King James Version translates paraklētos as “Comforter” in John 14:16, the word is best rendered “Helper” or “Advocate.”

Second, because God loves us so much, He makes us uncomfortable in our sins, which is why Jesus, speaking by the Spirit to Laodicea, says, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:19; note that the Greek word for “reprove” is the same as the word used for “convict” in John 16:8). These words – and the ones that preceded them in chapters 2-3 of Revelation – were hardly designed to “comfort.” Rather, Jesus brought strong correction because of His love, with the goal being repentance and restoration. How dangerous it is to say that the Spirit will never make us uncomfortable when we sin. That discomfort might just save our marriage or ministry.

It is a tragic consequence of this anti-conviction preaching that many believers have become compromised in their lifestyles, giving place to enslaving sins. That’s one reason so many leaders worldwide are sounding the alarm against hyper-grace.

  1. We agree that we do not need to confess every sin we commit each day in order to “stay saved,” but is any type of confession and request for forgiveness appropriate? For example, is it appropriate for believers to say, “Father, I’m sorry for sinning and I ask you to wash me clean”?

It’s not wrong to ask God for forgiveness and grace in your hour of need. If asking helps you to receive what God has already provided, have the freedom to ask. What’s not okay is telling people that God only forgives them because they ask, confess, repent, or do anything. The Bible teaches that we are forgiven in accordance with the riches of his grace (Eph 1:7), not our asking.

I’m glad to hear Dr. Ellis affirm that it’s acceptable for a believer to ask for forgiveness, since some hyper-grace teachers say that it’s sinful to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness. And he is right in saying that our sins have been fully paid for. But as 1 John 1:9 indicates (it is written explicitly to believers and it is in the present, continuous tense in Greek, thus speaking of our ongoing life in the Lord), there is relational forgiveness (not salvific forgiveness) that we receive when we sin and ask God for cleansing. That is healthy and beautiful, not negative and destructive.

  1. I know that you are against certain types of self-examination lest you become “sin conscious”… (But) if I understand you correctly, you would question the salvation of someone who demonstrated no change of life and continued to walk in unrepentant sin. But doesn’t this mean that, on some level, you are looking at your “performance” to verify your salvation?

Not performance, but fruit. Performance suggests a show put on to impress others; spiritual fruit can only be produced by the Lord. If you want to know if someone has been apprehended by the love of God, look for the fruit. Fruit are not sin. Fruit always point to Jesus.

Actually, I only used the word “performance” because hyper-grace teachers often speak against a performance mentality, and I agree with Dr. Ellis that we should look for fruit. But according to Jesus, fruit can be good or bad, and so, we are to recognize false prophets by the bad fruit they bring forth (Matthew 7:15-20).

But I’m glad to see that, once again, Dr. Ellis says that a truly saved person will live differently. Amen! Sadly, in interaction with other hyper-grace adherents, they react negatively to any call for self-examination or any exhortations to live differently than the world, as if grace covers it all. Better to say that grace changes us as well as blots out our sins.

  1. Do you think there’s any danger in claiming that the teachings of Jesus before the cross don’t apply to us as believers today?

In his book Michael suggests that hyper-grace preachers claim “The teachings of Jesus are not for us today” (p.203). This comes in a chapter entitled “Why are we running from the words of Jesus?” But who’s running? Who is dismissing the pre-cross words of Jesus? Certainly not Joseph Prince or any other prominent grace preacher. These are scurrilous claims which may be why Michael doesn’t repeat them here. Instead, we get the watered-down hypothetical: Is it dangerous to dismiss the pre-cross teachings of Jesus? Of course it is, Michael, which is why we don’t do it. Please stop suggesting that we do.

What is scurrilous is that Dr. Ellis denies the facts. For example, I intentionally started my first answer with quotations from Jesus, knowing that some hyper-grace adherents would say, “But that’s not for us today. That was for His Jewish disciples before the cross.” Precisely my point.

Dr. Ellis himself has written that the Lord’s prayer does not apply to us today, writing, “Jesus said, ‘If you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins’ (Matthew 6:15). This is not good news. This is bad news that should make us shake in our boots for it links God’s forgiveness to our own. It is not grace, it is law. It is quid pro quo and tit for tat. It is something you must give to get” (The Gospel in Ten Words, p. 28). He also wrote that, “before the cross Jesus preached conditional forgiveness; forgive to be forgiven.”

Joseph Prince is even more clear: “Whether interpreting the Old Testament, or the words which Jesus spoke in the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), let Jesus and His finished work at the cross be the key to unlocking all the precious gems hidden in God’s Word. This means that we have to read everything in the context of what He came to do and what He accomplished at the cross for us. For example, some things that Jesus said in the four gospels were spoken before the cross—before He had died for our sins—and some were said after the cross—when He had already won our complete forgiveness and rightfully given us His righteousness. It is the latter that applies to us (believers under the new covenant) today” (from his website).

How then can Dr. Ellis deny that he and Joseph Prince say that many (or all) of the pre-cross words of Jesus do not apply to us directly today? (These are just two examples among many others, which I document in Hyper-Grace.) How then can he call this scurrilous when it is the very position he holds?

If he has changed his position, I rejoice, but as of now, I have not seen him correct these previous statements. In fact, one of the weakest part of his rebuttal book was his attempt to reject the glorious biblical evidence presented in Hyper-Grace, demonstrating how the words of Jesus before the cross apply to believers today (as always, using right principles of biblical interpretation). Unfortunately, for many in the hyper-grace camp, rather than actually reading what I had compiled – it is life-giving, biblical truth – they simply read Dr. Ellis’s response and said, “Good. I don’t have to deal with the Sermon on the Mount.”

In an email dated January 28th, Dr. Ellis stated that I can put him on record as saying that “the life and teachings of Jesus are divine, beautiful, life-giving and relevant today.” I responded by saying that being consistent with that statement would necessitate him repudiating some of his former teaching, which I strongly encourage him to do.

  1. What does it mean to walk in the fear of the Lord? What do you make of verses like this: “And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear… (1 Pet. 1:17).

What does it mean for the wives of unbelieving husbands to live in “purity and reverence” (1 Peter 3:2)? I only mention this because the word for reverence is the same word for fear Peter uses in chapter 1. If Michael is suggesting that we fear the Lord, is he also suggesting wives fear their husbands? Surely not. Jesus says that to fear the Lord is to worship him.

Actually, context is everything, and it is clear that the fear of the Lord is not simply a matter of “worship” (although worship is certainly a part of it), while a wife’s reverential respect for her husband is going to be quite different than our reverential awe of the Lord. The fact that Dr. Ellis answers as he does once again reveals some of the problems in hyper-grace theology.

Consider some of these verses: Jesus, speaking to His disciples said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

After the sudden deaths of Annanias and Sapphira after they lied to the Spirit, Acts tells us, “And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things” (Act 5:11).

And notice the larger context and warnings of Hebrews 12:25-29, then read these last two verses: “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29, quoting from Deuteronomy 4:24; and note the warning to believers in 10:31: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”)

Day and night, we serve God out of love, overwhelmed by His mercy and goodness, basking in the ocean of His grace. And we recognize He is the all powerful and holy God, and therefore we don’t play foolish games with Him.

  1. Do you see any possible danger in emphasizing that it is impossible for a believer to lose his or her salvation? On a practical level, do you feel it’s important to add any scriptural caveats to your teaching of eternal security and, if so, how can you do this without putting an emphasis on “performance”?

There is no danger in reassuring believers that Jesus keeps his promises. Instead of preaching “scriptural caveats” I recommend we preach the gospel. Instead of judging the performance of others, I recommend we preach the performance of Jesus. This is what Joseph Prince and every other grace preacher does.

It looks like Dr. Ellis understood the gospel better than Paul, since Paul freely used “scriptural caveats” like this while also exalting “the performance of Jesus.” Paul wrote, “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard” (Colossians 1:21-23a).

The author of Hebrews had no problem with “scriptural caveats” either, like this: “For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end” (Hebrews 3:14).

The same goes for Peter: “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”  (2 Peter 1:10-11)

Why can’t hyper-grace believers simply say “Amen,” to these exhortations, believing that the one who started the work will bring it to completion, that the Lord is the author and finisher of our faith, and that Jesus is our good and great Shepherd who will never leave us or forsake us? Why will we be accused of preaching a “works righteousness” or adhering to a “saved by human effort” mentality when we are simply sharing God’s Word, with each of the verses holding to the exact same meaning when studied in context.

All this being said, may I encourage continued dialogue, since I’m convinced the hyper-grace camp is continually misunderstanding and misrepresenting my position (along with those, like me, who reject hyper-grace), while they feel the same about us.  Only continued, patient, candid interaction will bridge these misunderstandings, and if we all humble ourselves before the Lord, we will embrace the full counsel of God, in particular, God’s true grace. Let’s pursue that together!

Perhaps one day the Lord will enable us to sit in the same room for a solid day or more, talking and praying together and opening up the Scriptures. I for one would welcome that with joy.

January 28, 2015 | by Michael Brown | Original Source: askdrbrown.org "Dr. Paul Ellis Underscores the Errors of Hyper-Grace"
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The False Gospel of False Grace

Hyper-grace (03)

Here is a biblical truth you can bank on: any gospel which makes it easier for you to sin, and to feel OK about sinning, is not a gospel of Jesus Christ, but comes straight out of the pits of hell. Any message proclaimed from the pulpit, printed in books, or heard in conferences, which gives the believer the idea that sin is no big deal and that we can just relax about it all is a gospel of demons.

The really amazing thing about this is we have been there and done that. This is already 2000 years old for heaven’s sake! Paul dealt with the error of cheap grace, or false grace, or hyper grace, some two millennia ago – so why are we still having this discussion?

He too had to deal with false teachers who peddled a false gospel of cheap grace. His words are so perfectly clear on this that it staggers me that we are still repeating these same diabolical errors in the church today. In the book of Romans – Paul’s great treatise on justification by grace through faith – he deals directly with this pernicious error. As he says in Rom. 6:1-2, 15-16:

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? … What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

We cannot save ourselves – that is why it is all of grace. But we are also called to work out our salvation. We have a role to play. We must obey, resist sin, appropriate what Christ offers us, and so on. Spirituality is not automatic. We have much to do to see sanctification progressively worked out in our lives.

Yes, in Christ we are complete and perfect – all due to his grace – but we must work out what we already are in Him by our daily choices. We must resist and fight sin, and we must desire and pursue holiness. Obedience is a crucial part of the Christian walk, and we dare not allow a doctrine of cheap grace to trap us in sin.

Several recent articles deal with this in more detail, and are well worth citing here. New Testament professor Robert A. J. Gagnon wrote an article, “Cheap Grace Masquerading as Pure Grace” as he dealt with a pastor who pushes a damaging cheap grace message, especially in regards to homosexuality. Gagnon raises a number of important questions about all this, including:

-Is it true that transformation of our behavior was not one of the chief purposes in Jesus’ death?
-Are self-professed believers free to lead a life of sin without repentance and still be assured of “no condemnation”?
-Is it the “anti-gospel” to say that God is pleased when his people do what is right and displeased when they do what is wrong?
-Is an injunction to “fear God and keep his commandments” the message of an “anti-gospel”?
-Is it true that confessing our sins for forgiveness is a waste of time?

Let me look closer at one of his questions:

Is it true that immoral behavior on the part of self-professed believers does not move God to judgment?
Contrary to what Rev. Whitten says, immoral behavior on the part of self-professed believers does move God … to judgment. Whitten claims: “My bad works don’t move God any more than my good works move Him. He simply isn’t moved by ‘works’ of any kind. If you are motivated to do a great work for God, good luck!” Yet bad works and immoral behavior among believers do indeed move God. They move God to judgment. Initially they move God to the judgment of discipline, as in the case of the Corinthian abuse of the have-nots at the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:27-34).

When the discipline of the Lord is rejected, then divine condemnation with the world becomes a real possibility. So Paul demands that the Corinthians remove from their midst the self-professed believer who is sleeping with his stepmother, as a last-ditch measure to save the man from eternal destruction, for otherwise as a “sexually immoral person” he would not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 5:5; 6:9-10). The New Testament is full of warnings to believers that if they continue to live under sin’s primary control their fate will be destruction rather than eternal life.

princeMore recently Michael Brown has also asked some very important questions of Singaporean mega-pastor and hyper grace preacher, Joseph Prince. He offers nine probing questions, the first five of which are these:

1) Does God require anything from you as His child? Is there anything He says that you must do as His child other than receive His grace? If so, are there spiritual benefits that come through obeying these requirements and spiritual losses that come from ignoring them?

2) The New Testament writers often exhort us to live in ways that please the Lord. Does that mean that it is possible for us to displease Him? We agree that He relates to us as His beloved children, but is He always pleased with us? And since Paul urges us not to grieve the Spirit, does that mean that we can, in fact, grieve Him?


3) Is there anything you can do to disappoint the Lord? If the Lord always sees you as perfect in His sight, is there any way for you to disappoint Him? I’ve heard it said that we can only grieve or disappoint Him by not trusting His grace, but according to your message, hasn’t that sin been forgiven as well?


4) If God has pronounced your future sins forgiven in the same way He has pronounced your past sins forgiven, why do Paul and other New Testament writers address these very sins in their letters, and why does Jesus address them in Revelation 2-3? We know that God doesn’t bring our past sins up to us, since He has forgiven and “forgotten” them. Why then does He bring our present sins up to us in the New Testament, even warning us about the dangers of walking in those sins, if they have also been forgiven and forgotten in advance?


5) A leading hyper-grace teacher claims that the doctrine of progressive sanctification is a “spiritually murderous lie.” Does that mean that grace preachers like Charles Spurgeon, who believed in progressive sanctification, taught this alleged lie? And if “progressive sanctification” simply means to walk out our holiness with the help of the Spirit, what is so dangerous about this teaching? Put another way, do you reject the concept that the one who made us holy now calls us to live holy lives in thought, word and deed, thereby “completing our sanctification in the fear of God” (2 Cor 7:1)? Doesn’t Paul say we are called saints (that is who we are) and called to be saints (that is how we live)? (See 1 Cor. 1:2.)

I urge you all to read both of these important articles in their entirety. This error of hyper grace is sadly causing huge damage all over the Christian world, and is leading to far too much cultic behaviour and heretical teaching. And much of it could be cleaned up with remembering some basic Christianity 101 doctrine.

I mentioned above that in Christ we are already complete and perfect, yet we are commanded hundreds of times to work this out in our daily walk with Christ. In my article on “Standing and State” I deal with this in more detail: Standing and State

Another basic theological explanation of this is what is known as the “indicative and imperative”. We are to become what we already are in Christ. I deal with that more fully here: The Indicative/Imperative and the Christian Life

But I return to my original statement. Jesus said we can and must judge people by their fruit. If a gospel message you embrace results in a life of more sin or more acceptance and excuse-making for sin, then you can be sure that this is not a biblical gospel message, but a false gospel.

As always, we must proclaim the whole counsel of God. Yes, grace is a wonderful and liberating truth of the gospel. But it is not all of the gospel. We must always keep the biblical balance, and never emphasise one biblical truth at the expense of other biblical truths.

As Michael Brown writes in his important 2014 book Hyper-Grace, it is “crucial that we never forget that ‘grace and truth’ came through Jesus the Messiah (John 1:14, 17). It is essential, then, that we preach grace with truth rather than grace alone. Otherwise we will have a spiritual crisis on our hands. In fact, we already do have one on our hands.”

Published: 1.2.15 | Bill Muehlenberg’s CultureWatch | Original Source: billmuehlenberg.com "The False Gospel of False Grace"
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Sin, Forgiveness, and Hyper Grace

Hyper-grace (03)

Toward the end of his life the author of “Amazing Grace” and friend of William Wilberforce said this: “My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things: I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great savior.” That was of course John Newton.

I present his quote here because sadly there are always faulty and harmful theologies being pushed. In this case, there are actually some folks teaching that a Christian is not a sinner – and even more incredible, they do not need to repent and confess their sins as believers. This is often heard by hyper grace teachers such as Joseph Prince.

But Scripture teaches otherwise. All throughout the Bible the saints of God have known that they are sinners, in need of regular, ongoing confession of sin and repentance. Think of David for example. In his great prayer of repentance in Psalm 51 he says in verse 2-3:

sin-2Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.

The disciples were also fully aware of their sinfulness. Consider Peter as another example. Early on he was fully aware of his sinfulness. As we read in Luke 5:8: When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”

And even after he had been with Jesus for quite some time, we see his ongoing awareness of his own sinfulness. Toward the end of Jesus’ ministry we find this exchange with Peter as found in John 13:6-9:

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

But we can already hear the critics – especially Prince – complain that we must look to Paul for the full revelation on this. We cannot dwell on the Old Testament or the gospels. Indeed, Prince primarily focuses on Paul and his teachings, while downplaying or minimising the rest of Scripture.

There are of course two major problems with this. One, as any student of church history and theology knows, this is basically what the heretic Marcion believed. As I wrote about this second century bishop elsewhere:

He not only posited a radical disjunction between God as found in the two Testaments, but between the OT and the NT itself, and between Israel and the church. His utter rejection of Judaism and the OT was just part of his heresy. He was a major proponent of Paul – or as one historian put it, he had an “exaggerated Paulinism” – so much so that he chopped the NT canon down to just 11 books: ten epistles of Paul and part of Luke.

See more on him here: Modern-Day Marcionism

A second major problem with this is of course that Paul himself did not buy it for a moment. Indeed, Paul, like every man of God, was always painfully aware of his own sinfulness, and his ongoing need of Christ. Indeed, simply notice Paul’s awareness of sin – throughout his life as a believer.

If we put the conversion of Paul at 33, 34 or 36 AD, as most scholars now agree, then we find some very interesting things Paul says about himself as he grows in grace. Notice this progression (or regression if you will) about Paul. The older he gets, the more of a sinner he considers himself to be!

“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (1 Corinthians 15:9 – written in mid-50s.)
“Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:8 – written in early 60s.)
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.” (1 Timothy 1:15 – written in mid-60s.)

Do you get that? The longer Paul is a Christian, the more he becomes aware of his own wretched, sinful condition, and his utter need for the Lord Jesus. Even three full decades after his conversion, the apostle of grace tells us he is the chief of sinners.

He did not say, ‘I was the worst’ but ‘I am the worst’. I once had a gal challenge me on this, claiming these were all in the past tense. Baloney – simply get out your Greek New Testament and see for yourself: all are in the present tense. Paul never claimed a sinless perfectionism, or believed that by being in Christ he had fully arrived.

As he wrote in Philippians 3:10-12: ” I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

Related to all this is of course the incredible notion that believers should never repent or confess their sins. Prince claims that if we do this we are slapping God in the face and maligning his grace. A full article is needed to rebut this silliness, but the truth is, it is people like Prince who are slapping God in the face and maligning his grace

An obvious rebuttal to all this is 1 John 1:8-10: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

Yet Prince simply dismisses this vital passage – in particular verse 9 – by saying, “Let’s not build an entire doctrine on a single verse.” He even makes the absurd claim that this was written to Gnostics, not believers! You know you are dealing with some real dodgy teaching when they have to come up with something that far-fetched.

This whole chapter is of course referring directly to believers; uses the present tense; and is inclusive (“we,” “our” etc). And there are of course plenty of other passages which speak to the need of confessing our sins, such as Luke 11:3-4; Acts 8:13, 20-23; 19:18; James 5:15-16 and so on.

But as I say, another article will have to be penned to deal with this more fully. But the issue is, we have some very worrying teaching and teachers in our midst today who are sadly taking aspects of biblical truth, elevating them, while ignoring or downplaying other clear biblical truths.

That is always a recipe for disaster, and that is always how the cults operate, and that is always how heresies begin. We must proclaim the full biblical gospel, and not just pick those parts which tickle our fancy. The Pauline teachings on grace of course are always wonderful truths which we need to hear.

But they must be seen in the context, not just in the context of all Pauline teaching, but the rest of Scripture as well. And a big part of the problem here is the confusion about the various aspects of salvation. The hyper grace teachers put all their eggs in the justification basket, while failing to give equal attention to sanctification.

But I discuss this carefully elsewhere: Antinomianism and the Hyper Grace Error

Yes we are justified by grace through faith alone. But that is simply the first step in the salvation process. To highlight only the very first step, while ignoring the lifelong walk of growth, obedience, holiness and conformity to Christ is not to elevate grace but to drag it in the mud.

Let me close with the words of J.C. Ryle ‎”When I speak of a person growing in grace, I mean simply this – that their sense of sin is becoming deeper, their faith stronger, their hope brighter, their love more extensive, and their spiritual mindedness more marked.”

by Bill Muehlenberg | Bill Muehlenberg’s CultureWatch Published: 17.3.15 | Original Source: billmuehlenberg.com "Sin, Forgiveness, and Hyper Grace"
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Is Joseph Prince’s Radical Grace Teaching Biblical?

Hyper-grace (03)

Joseph Prince

Since there has been a wave of articles against “hypergrace” preaching and churches in the past year, I decided to read a key book authored by Joseph Prince, who is considered by many to be the main progenitor of this genre of teaching.

I read Prince’s book Destined to Reign last week with the idea that I would find out for myself what he really teaches. Half of the Christians I know who read this book loved it, and the other half thought it was heresy, so I was quite interested in the content because I’ve never seen mature Christians who know the Word of God be so divided on any author since the beginning of the Word of Faith teachings by Hagin and Copeland in the 1970s and ’80s.

I must admit I started the book with a suspicious view because for the last 35 years, I have seen some of the catastrophic results of various types of “hypergrace” Christianity. To my surprise, I really enjoyed the book, and as a result I will make some adjustments in how I present the gospel.

This is not to say there were not some theological issues I was concerned with. Prince makes the same mistake thousands before him have made: They come up with some kind of theological system they are comfortable with (he is a “once saved always saved” classical dispensationalist) and then deductively read every passage of Scripture with their biased lens, resulting in forcing the Scriptures to fit their interpretation. Many people make the mistake of wanting to fit God into a concise theological box, resulting in blanket statements that are not always easily proven or true.

The greatest thing about Destined to Reign and Prince’s theology is that it is Christ-exalting and Christ-centered. Prince’s main passion is not grace but Jesus, which is the place the whole church needs to be but often is not. (Prince believes grace and the person of Christ are synonymous.)

In spite of its flaws, I will actually recommend the book to certain Christians suffering from a performance trap in which they try to earn God’s favor and love by the things they do instead of through the merit of Christ’s finished work. There is enough good stuff in the book for new believers and those struggling with guilt to get them on a good foundation—if it is coupled with other books and teachings to bring it balance.

What is probably happening with Prince is what happens with many popular preachers who start trends. Other preachers read their stuff and take it to an extreme, teaching things the founder never intended. I do not get the impression Prince believes in cheap grace or that a person who really understands Prince’s heart and teaching will dive into sin—but there are certain places where it is easy for the theologically untrained to take his teaching too far and preach a cheap grace or hypergrace message. Prince makes it clear he hates sin and also preaches from the Old Testament to exalt Christ.

The following are some of my concerns with the book. (Since this is not an academic treatise, I am not citing the exact page numbers of Prince’s statements—you just have to read the whole book.)

1. Prince Makes Blanket Statements and Tries to Fit All Scripture Within His System

For example, he says it is not necessary to confess our sins and that Paul’s epistles never give an example of a believer confessing sin. He says this because he believes all of our sins, both past and future, have already been forgiven (something I agree with in principle) and that we should just be honest with God and speak to Him about our failures. ButPrince says this is not the same as confession of sin for forgiveness. I say this is a merely a cute play on words because speaking to God about our sins is going to lead to confession anyway.

The challenge I have with this teaching is that in 1 John 1:9, John teaches us to confess our sins. Although Prince acknowledges that this passage refutes his teaching on radical grace, he tries to get around it by saying this passage was written to the gnostics in the church—something he states without citing any commentaries, sources or historical evidence. I counter that the context of 1 John shows that John was writing to believers. He calls them his “dear children” in 1 John 2:1 (NIV). Also, remember that originally the book had no chapters or verses; thus, the “children” in 1 John 2:1 are connected to the first chapter of the book.

Although the apostle John was dealing with gnosticism in this epistle when he spoke about the humanity of Christ in 1 John 1:1 and 4:2-3 and the fact Jesus came in the flesh—a fact gnostics refute because they believe Jesus only came as a spirit because they believed the realm of the flesh was evil—the recipients of this letter were not gnostics but true believers who were being warned against gnosticism.

Furthermore, if 1 John 1:9 was written to unbelievers, why would John tell them to confess their sins? Its impossible for an unbeliever to recount and confess all the sins they ever committed. When I came to Christ, I did not confess each and every individual sin of my past 19 years. I just surrendered my heart to Christ and asked Him to forgive me for being a sinner. When a person comes to Christ, they are not commanded to confess their sins but to receive Jesus as Lord (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 16:31). Only a Christian can remember and confess individual sins as they are committed.

Furthermore, James 5:16 also teaches believers to confess their sins. Lastly, Paul actually implies confession of sin in 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 when he encourages the Corinthian church to repent and have “godly sorrow.”

2. Prince Bases His Theology Only on the Writings of Paul  

I find it interesting that Prince says he only preaches the gospel Paul preaches. Although I admire Paul, Prince has to be careful with statements like this because he can give the impression that the other writings of the New Testament are not inspired or even canonical. (Even the gnostics only cited Paul and disregarded the other epistles as well as the Old Testament.)

Prince seems to quote the Gospels only occasionally, which gives me the impression he probably believes much of the teaching is not relevant to the church age because the Gospels were written before the Resurrection. This enables Prince(and typical hyper dispensationalists) to avoid dealing with the command for believers to take up their cross (Mark 8:34-36) and other such passages that demand high commitment.

I believe any teacher who is called to preach like Paul the apostle must preach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), which means they need to include equally the Gospels and the epistles of John, Jude, Peter and James as well as the book of Hebrews and the Old Testament.

3. Prince Doesn’t Clearly Define the Role of the Moral Law of God 

Prince teaches that the Old Testament Law is not necessary anymore for the church, and he makes a simple dichotomy between both covenants. He doesn’t even make an allowance for the need for the moral law of God (the Ten Commandments), except to show us how sinful and lost we are.

The challenge with this simplified view of the Old Testament is that Paul the apostle told us to know the Old Testament so we will not set our heart on evil things and sin as the Jewish nation did (1 Cor. 10:6). Thus, the moral law was still necessary to keep the church in line, according to Paul.

Prince says there is no room for preaching the law of God in the church and that God only blesses the message of grace. However, church history does not back this up. Charles Finney was perhaps the greatest evangelist in American history, and he would regularly preach the moral law of God to get people convicted and then use the gospel to get them saved and consecrated. He preached the law of God to both saint and sinner. You can also throw Jonathan Edwards into the mix as a powerful preacher who used the law of God in his messages.

Prince would probably say these men preached a mixture of law and grace. However, the fruit of their ministries shows that their work and message was greatly blessed of God and had historic results. I personally teach regularly on the law of God in the church with great effect and fruit. Prince would probably say I preach a mixture of law and grace—but if I stand in the company of Finney and Edwards, who used the moral law as a standard to convict sin, I will take Prince’s criticism with a smile!

I believe the moral law is still needed, or else there would be no conviction of sin and our standard of righteousness would collapse down to the ethos of the surrounding culture. Furthermore, the moral law was repeated in the New Testament, even by Paul in Ephesians 4-6, when he told the church not to steal, not to be angry, not to covet, not to commit sexual immorality, not to be idolaters and to honor their fathers and mothers. Furthermore, all the New Testament writers repeatedly used the Ten Commandments as the standard of holiness for the church because it reflects the nature and character of God.

Even when Jesus gave His followers a new commandment to love one another (John 13:34), He was still using love as a law to obligate the church to a standard of living—something Paul repeated in Romans 13:8-10.

Prince thus lumps the moral law (the Ten Commandments) with the ceremonial law of God and says both have been done away with and are not relevant to the church. What he fails to realize is every time the law is dealt with by Paul (in Galatians, Romans, Hebrews and Colossians), the context is always circumcision, animal sacrifices and the observance of the Sabbath and holy days. Hence, Paul is primarily referring to the ceremonial aspects of the law, not the Ten Commandments.

Prince brings out the fact that Paul calls the Ten Commandments the “ministration of death” in 2 Corinthians 3:7 (KJV). However, I would counter that in spite of this, Paul and the other New Testament writers continually used the Ten Commandments as the standard of ethics for the church. The ministration of death has to do with the fact that without Christ, we are all guilty before God—a point we all agree with. Galatians 3:24 calls the law our schoolmaster that leads us to Christ; thus, it is a standard of holiness that brings conviction and leads us to depend on the grace of Christ to fulfill it. Romans 8:4 clearly teaches us the Holy Spirit empowers us to fulfill the righteous requirements of the law; thus, it’s standards are still a requirement for functional holiness. Furthermore, the strength of sin is the law (1 Cor. 15:56).

But the point of the New Testament is that Jesus gives us the power to live righteously through His Spirit. It is not just imputed righteousness from Christ with no obligation on our part. When we break the Ten Commandments, that is still a sin that we believers have to repent of and confess to the Lord for forgiveness.

I do agree with Prince that we need to be Christ-focused and Christ-conscious to have victory over sin and that we can only have faith and grace to walk in victory through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness—not our own merit. Where we depart ways is that I contend the Ten Commandments are still necessary as our standard for how Jesus wants us to live by His power and grace. The law doesn’t save us. It reminds us of our sinfulness and, as a schoolmaster, leads us to depend on Christ alone.

To summarize this point, I don’t agree with Prince when he says we don’t need the law to govern our behavior—we just need grace, he says—because, in my perspective, grace uses the standard of the moral law, as is repeated over and over in the New Testament.

4. Prince Believes in “Once Saved, Always Saved”

As a typical dispensationalist, Prince believes that once a person receives Jesus Christ as Savior, they can never lose their salvation. (Some know this as the doctrine of eternal security.) The challenge I have with this is that it fails to interpret individual passages honestly that disagree with this particular system.

For example, Hebrews 6:1-8 and 10:24-29 clearly teach that people, after receiving the saving knowledge of Christ, can fall away and lose their salvation. Second Peter 2:20-22 and James 5:19-20 are as clear as tar on snow that a believer can fall away and once again be called a sinner who has to be restored. There are numerous other passages I can cite but will not because of the time.

I am more comfortable with the Reformed understanding of salvation, which teaches people can experience the fruits of salvation while never being chosen from “the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4), in which case they will not remain in the body of Christ because they were never a part of it to begin with. (First John 2:19 seems to teach the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints.) This is the only position I have found sufficient to effectively deal with the conundrum of Scripture that seems to teach both eternal security and that a believer can fall away. I take the position of the apostle Peter: I may think I am saved, but I have to endeavor to make my calling and election sure (2 Pet. 1:10).

5. Prince Teaches That God Can’t Get Angry With or Punish Christians 

Prince says God does not get angry with Christians. But what about the admonition in Ephesians 4 to not grieve the Holy Spirit? (In Ephesians 4:30, grieve means “to cause great sorrow and distress,” which is akin to causing anger). Even stronger is Paul’s warning in Ephesians 5:6 against living an immoral life that brings God’s wrath on the disobedient. The clear context here, for those who are disobedient, is that this is written to the church of Ephesus; thus, God can have wrath toward Christians.

What about the sin that leads to death referenced in 1 John 5:16? Whether this refers to physical or spiritual death has been debated for centuries; however, the main point is that a believer can commit a sin so severe it can result in death. (I believe it is referring to physical death, which correlates to 1 Corinthians 11:30 and 1 Corinthians 5:1-6, where Paul wanted to hand a man over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh because he slept with his father’s wife.)

Finally, what does Prince do about Jesus’ words to the seven churches in Asia Minor in Revelation 2-3? In these letters, Jesus not only punishes but also threatens to remove whole churches from their cities unless they repent (Rev. 2:5). In Revelation 2:16, Jesus tells the church of Pergamum to repent or else He will come and fight against some in their church. In Revelation 2:22-23, Jesus tells those who are under the influence of Jezebel that He will kill them unless they repent. Finally, Jesus tells the church of Laodicea that He is about to vomit them out of His mouth (Rev. 3:15-16), Strong words, indeed, that do not nicely fit into the theology of Joseph Prince.

6. Prince Says God Is Not Judging Any Nation Because of the Cross 

Prince teaches that God did not judge Sodom until Lot was removed, thus making a case that God will not judge any nation that has a presence of believers in it. What Prince fails to realize is that the Old Testament is replete with illustrations in which God judged the nations of Israel and Judah by disinheriting them even though there was a remnant left who believed. (See, for example, Isaiah 6:13.)

Furthermore, in Matthew 11:20-24, Jesus speaks about corporate judgment coming upon cities and towns because they rejected Him. Obviously it is difficult to subjectively prove post-biblically if God has judged nations and empires after the cross, since God often uses the militaries of other nations, natural disasters and their own foolishness to lay low people and nations. Furthermore, God judged the nation of the Jews and Jerusalem for rejecting Christ in A.D. 70, when the Roman armies sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish temple, as Jesus predicted would happen within one generation (Matt. 24:34; Luke 21:20) even though this was almost 40 years after His resurrection.

7. Prince Preaches an Individual Gospel That’s Disconnected From the Cultural Commission of Genesis 1:28

Perhaps one of the biggest flaws in Prince’s radical grace doctrine is that his dispensational belief doesn’t allow him to connect the gospel to the cultural commission of Genesis 1:28. Believers who embrace the original cultural commission God gave humanity through Adam and Eve (and reconfirmed to Noah after the fall in Genesis 9:1-2) realize we need the moral and civic law to understand how to disciple a nation (Matt. 28:19). The Ten Commandments were not just individual commands for piety and holiness but were primarily given as a corporate structure to disciple the burgeoning nation of Israel (Ex. 20:1-2). First Timothy 1:8-11 alludes to the corporate reality of the law when it says the law wasn’t given to righteous men but for the unrighteous. (There has been only one righteous man on the earth who didn’t need the law to know how to be holy—Jesus!) The fact that Paul deals with slave-trading and kidnapping shows that he was also dealing with systemic sin and not just individual sin in this passage.

In Summary

Although I think Prince’s book has a lot of great insights and was worth the read, I am concerned many will take his writings to an extreme and that his radical grace perspective could lead people to just seek Jesus without obedience to simple and obvious things like being committed to a local church, tithing and walking in love. (Even though Prince pushes church attendance and giving, in principle his theology can make it easy to dismiss these practices.) Prince also seems to be against the spiritual discipline of fasting. Although I understand his point in this matter, I still believe fasting very important to practice, albeit not for salvation. Not connecting his teaching to the cultural commission in Genesis 1:28 also puts Princeon a faulty foundation and can lead a person to disconnect the gospel from the kingdom of God, thus leading to self-focus and narcissism. (The kingdom message connects redeemed individuals to their corporate responsibility to serve their communities.)

In spite of all this, it may be a great book for some new believers—although I believe young children and new Christians need to be taught the Ten Commandments as a standard for ethics in the church and world—and especially for those who constantly walk around with guilt and condemnation. If radical grace is taught in the context of the message of the kingdom of God to give it balance, it can be a great teaching that lifts up Jesus and transforms individual lives who can transform nations.

9/11/2013 Joseph Mattera | Source: charismanews.com "Is Joseph Prince's Radical Grace Teaching Biblical?"
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