jeudi 3 avril 2014

Beware of Counterfeit Grace

A change of mindset has repetitively been occurring in the mind of those who were disabused by what they were taught at Churches. Unfortunately not all shift in mind-set has been for the better.

Throughout my Christian walk, I have repetitively met folks who pride themselves with innovative alteration of century long standing biblical doctrines. One that is more recent is the way different folks have abused the precious concept and truth about God's grace.

In 2005, I first got acquainted with what I easily identified as early abuse of the concept of grace when I read a book which I shall leave unnamed. The book presented grace as a mean to discount any moral responsibility to a sinner. Actually, it seemed to ask the sinner to rejoice of his sin because no moral accountability seemed necessary because of the Grace of God. If my memory serves me well, this was the first time i got a snippets about this erroneous views. Although the book argued quite interestingly about the immensity of God's favor also know as God's grace toward the sinners, the author unfortunately messed up what he tried to argue for along the way.

Two years ago in March 2012, I started writing a series of posts about Grace and the Law at the request of a friend. I was told that there was a kind of war waged against the doctrine of grace by those of a legalistic (from the Law) persuasion. So I wrote my first post and a second one which were supposed to launch my series of posts about the contrast between Grace and the Law from a biblical point of view.

However, I was never able to continue that series of posts. Shortly after my second post, i realized that the outcry against those who spoke about "Grace" were not made by legalistic folks as i was led to believe initially. The outcry came from those who believed themselves in the biblical doctrine of Grace but were just sickened by the way a group of teenagers and young-adults abused the biblical teaching of grace.

For more than 15 years I had been discussing and debating against legalism and preaching the message of grace. I knew that legalism could be used and was often used to control people ungracefully in some churches and even in some sermons hence breaking the spirit of the New Testament. But I never really thought or expected that a day will come when people will also start using the message of grace ungracefully and irresponsibly. As my Dad remarked to me once with this french saying: "Qui vivra vera"*. And indeed, as time still goes on, I am still astonished by all the novelty and craziness that keeps creeping out of some emerging churches and some para-churches ministries.

After that 2012 March post, i found myself debating on the internet (Facebook) the very people I first tried to defend. The weirdness kept flooding the social network, as my friends and I tried to keep it under control. Within few weeks, we realized that we were unwillingly in "full-time ministry" of debunking the false doctrines strongly advertised by those preachers of the counterfeit grace message. The situation was so bewildering that offline discussion had to follow.

Not being known as shying away from debate, I was happy to receive an invitation from the Living Word Association (LWA) to join their task-force in debating some of those main and outspoken prominent figures of the counterfeit grace message of that time. With no hesitation I gave my consent. We held two formal debates so to speak. The first one was held at a place of their choosing and the second debate was held at a place of our choosing (LWA). The debate was spirited but done in good faith. Although we severely disagreed on main issues all the way through. We remained nevertheless courteous.

However the aggressiveness in our exchanges kept increasing as the months went on. By the end of the month December 2012, some had dropped out of the public discussion and went into seclusion and hiding. They kept the indoctrination for themselves. Nevertheless some among them throughout the year had shown sufficient intellectual honesty and a honest conscience to reform their former views and stopped talking foolish things as they used too at the early stage of the debates. That was really God's grace in action to save them from false doctrines. But not all were this gracious to the truth. They became unfortunately and willingly insubordinate to the biblical truth to the point to deny the plain meaning of many biblical passages without blinking or bad conscious. We sadly witnessed it during the subsequent year of 2013.

This leads me now to the content of the numerous debates held (online or offline). What did we debate on anyway? I have discussed those issues indirectly and directly on this blog as this can been seen on my posts titles such as, The New bible Deniers ; Should a Christian ask for Forgiveness ; Did Jesus freed us from all Burdens? and more on this blog.

 Here are a few points our debates revolved around:

1. This is what started it all. They initially disputed the existence of sins. We on the other side affirmed the biblical reality of the sadness of sins (Roman 3:23; 1 John 2:1-2; etc.).

2. They firmly rejected the fact that Christian should repent from their sins and deeds. We on the other hand affirmed along with the teaching of the new testament that when someone sins - being it a Christian or a non-christian - the path of restoration is through repentance of deed (Revelation 2:21-22; Revelation 3:19; etc.).

3. They discouraged any practice of fasting and praying (this last one I encountered for the first time in a private debate with someone holding an anomalous twist of this counterfeit grace message. However not all of the false teaching of grace movement embrace this virulent view). We affirmed contrary to them that the New Testament encourage us to pray and fast (Mathew 6: 6,16; Acts 13:2-3; etc.).

4. They denied the reality of free-will (the capacity to choose). We affirmed that people have the capacity to make choices (Luke 10:42; etc.).

5. They think that any action done for spiritual or other reasons is by definition a Work which is contrary to their concept of grace. Since for them grace excludes all action a priori. We expressed on the other hand that the New Testament distinguishes among different actions. The New Testament shows that there is a difference between action made by faith and action made legalistically (motivated by the Mosaic law). - Ephesians 2: 8-10; etc.

6. They rejected the usefulness of the Law in all its forms (unconsciously encouraging anarchy). We on the other hands reinforce the distinction between the Mosaic Law (in the Old testament) and Law of Christ (in the New Testament). 1 Corinthians 9:21 and Galatians 6:2; etc..

7. They considered Christians who asked for forgiveness as immature and untaught Christians. We on the contrary affirmed that it is an act of honesty, true repentance and a normal thing to do when a Christian ask for forgiveness when/if s/he had sinned (1 John 1:9 ; 1 John 2:1-2; etc.).

8. They substituted the clear writings of the scripture (Bible) with what they called "the revelation". We on the contrary believe that the Bible itself contains the revelation of the Lord to the Church, and that all so called "revelations" had to meet biblical standard and not substitute itself to the clear and plain wording of the scriptures (2 timothy 3:16).
"All Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," - 2 Timothy 3:16  
 "And all these things happened to them as examples; and it is written for our warning on whom the ends of the world have come." - 1 Corinthians 10:11 
I have just quoted 8 points where we differ on, but I can assure the readers that there are many more miscellaneous topics of disagreement such as "Is there any difference between a human spirit and the Holy Spirit?" Just imagine which of the two groups confuse the human spirit to the Holy Spirit? Now you know why I call it a counterfeit grace message. These false messenger of Grace claims that because God has shown us His Grace, hence these eight issues they claim among others are and should therefore be normal modus operandi in any churches. I guess the scornful way they used to present their point of views provoked me to take very drastic measure on my rebuttal styles during the debates. It is always choking to see young people who pretentiously show up and declare everybody is wrong except their little untamed group. This stroke a nerve in me that made me go all Nija on them. Thank God for His Amazing Grace, some of them recanted their former views as per personal conversation I had with some youth over the past two years.

The war for truth is not yet over, but we stand strong and ready to defend the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:14-15).

I would like to encourage new Christians who might not know much about the scriptures that they are wolf teachers out there, teaching what should not be taught. Hence be careful!

There are false teachings (doctrines),
"But the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and teachings of demons" - 1 Timothy 4:1   

but there are also true teachings (doctrines),
"Hold on to yourself and to the doctrine; continue in them, for doing this you shall both save yourself and those who hear you." - 1 Timothy 4:16 
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* "The One who shall live shall witness things."

8 commentaires:

  1. Thanks Eric for sharing this post. Keep the good work !

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    1. Thank you Emma ... glad you find it interesting! ;)

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  3. What i believe really matters most is the genuine faith in Christ as the savior of your Life, Putting all your trust in him for the salvation of your eternal Life and admit total dependance of your Life Salvation through him (JOHN 3:16). This is the ultimate vital truth, that could be severely fatal if not embraced(2Thess 1:8-9). The rest doesn't really matter as much for their effects aren't really fatal to the genuine believer in Christ Jesus. Whether i believe that there is a difference between the holy spirit and the human spirit or not, or even never take time to consider the subject at all, as long as Christ is enthroned in my Life Eternal Life is mine and none can take it out of me :P , I personally really find other doctrinal issues not so vital as the Message of the Grace of God through Christ...Whether i hold to the point that sin exists or not after Christ's death, i think whechever position i hold i wouldn't be denied entrance to eternal abode with God because i didn't believe in the existance of sin after christ or because i believed in the existance of Sin after christ :/ , The Point is "Genuine Faith in christ for savaltion is enough, other doctrinal issues are secondary & you could live without them in Christ, therefore shouldn't raise wars between True Christians because they simply have a mere disagreement on certain issues"

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    1. Dear Fred, thanks for your feedback and concerns. I do believe that some doctrinal issue are primary and other doctrines are secondary. Let's assume that we both agree on what the primary doctrines are and the secondary doctrines are, and you will see that even then my point in the post is still valid.

      I understand what you are saying but allow me to remind you something important that i think you might have missed in my post:

      1. There is a real possibility that someone who might have had the right doctrine initially (primary or secondary, you choose) that they could walk away from those precious truths. Remember this verse i quoted?

      "But the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times SOME SHALL DEPART FROM FAITH, giving heed to seducing spirits and teachings of demons" - 1 Timothy 4:1

      Someone could legitimately start by understanding the proper doctrine of the grace of God, but then get seduced in believing falsehood. And this is the point i was most interested in writing about.

      2. On a second note, there is a biblical admonition that we should hold and continue to the (true) doctrine because those valid doctrines have a salutary effect on those who hold on to them. Do you remember that quoted this also:

      "HOLD ON yourself and TO THE DOCTRINE; CONTINUE IN THEM, for doing this you shall both SAVE YOURSELF and those who hear you." - 1 Timothy 4:16

      This verse is unambiguous, it makes the claim that having the right doctrines are correlated to someone salvation. The question is therefore, do those who abuse the message of grace realize this?

      Finally, if you understand what God's grace mean as i have come to understand it over the years, and its relation to the existence of sin (to just take the example you have used) you would see why I look at the rejection of the existence of sins as well as other aberration that i have mentioned in the post above as very dangerous and a form of seduction from demons to lure the once faithful toward a path of destruction (personal and/or the community).

      Paul worried about doctrinal issues with the Galatians Christians, and so should we with the modern Christians,

      Gal 3:1 "O foolish Galatians, who bewitched you not to obey the truth, to whom before your eyes Jesus Christ was written among you crucified?"
      Gal 3:2 "This only I would learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing of faith?"
      Gal 3:3 "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, do you now perfect yourself in the flesh?"

      I have the equal perception that some people seem to have been bewitched in embracing those weird and false views.

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  4. I Agree with you that we should indeed rebuke false doctrines wherever possible,but do it with Gentleness and respect as Peter suggests in 1Peter 3:15 (But in your hearts revere christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with Gentleness and RESPECT), and primarily hold on the main doctrine of Ultimate Salvation for Humanity.

    Thanks

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    1. Thank you Fred. I indeed hold to the preaching of the message of Salvation through our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. And to my conscience, the texts I posted above were done with gentleness and respect as per Peter admonishing. If my perception on this issue is incorrect I am open to correction. Finally, the salvation message can unfortunately be threatened by doctrinal lies and falsehoods as already mentioned on my last response. Hence, it remains imperative that in order to maintain the integrity of the message on the "ultimate salvation of human", we have to mitigate potential harmful beliefs and destructive lies. After all, lies can only be destructive and harmful, either in the short term or in the long term.

      "as also in all his letters [Paul], speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable pervert, as also they do the rest of the Scriptures, to their OWN DESTRUCTION." - 2 Peter 3:16 MVK

      "That's what he [Paul] says in all his letters when he writes about these things. There are parts of his letters that are hard to understand, and some people give a wrong meaning to them. These people are ignorant and weak in faith. They also give wrong meanings to the other Scriptures. But they are DESTROYING THEMSELVES by doing that." - 2 Peter 3:16 - ERV

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