What has come to be known as the Grace Movement/Message holds a very special place in my heart. For years I felt like a lone voice heralding the life changing power of Grace, through faith, apart from works.
Long before most had ever heard of Andrew Wommack, Joseph Prince, and others, I was having Bible studies in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s teaching what I had found by myself with nothing but the Holy Ghost, and a Bible. As far as I knew I was the only one on the planet preaching this message.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot of things I don’t know. There’s plenty that I have learned and continue to learn from other grace preachers. But I mention this so that folks understand that what I’m about to say does not come from a critic of this message. Nor does it come from a person who has just caught wind of the doctrine. On the contrary, I’ve been beating this drum longer than most.
A Disturbing Trend
Having said this, I’m beginning to see that as the Movement progresses, it is encountering what seems to be the inevitable fate of every sound doctrine—a mutation, or perversion of the authentic. Many, with little knowledge of what God’s Word has to say on the subject, are jumping on board and attempting to teach it. But even more alarming than these folks who lack biblical knowledge is the fact that they don’t appear to even care that they lack it. As a result, we are now seeing large amounts of, “grace” people who don’t want to talk about other important aspects of God’s Word. Sin, judgement, hell, wrath, and the devil have all but been completely removed from the vocabulary.
God is Not a Two Thousand Year Old Book
Upon inquiring about the seemingly lack of respect for the Bible, I have heard variations of the tired cliche’, “God is much bigger than a collection of two thousand year old manuscripts. My allegiance is to Jesus, not a book “
So, let’s explore this idea a bit . . .
There are some things that we, as Christians, have been practicing for so long that many don’t know why there was a necessity for them in the first place. So it’s pretty much inevitable that there’s going to come a point in time for people who were not around when the foundation was laid, to challenge these practices. Which is fine. I’m all for the challenge of long held traditions. And it sounds great to say, “Jesus is a real Person, not an old Book. If you want to know about Him, just ask Him.” Seriously, such a statement sounds revolutionary, right? Man, lets get rid of the way these old farts in stuffy suits have been doing it for centuries and lets get back to Jesus!
So why is it so important for people who have Jesus living on the inside of them to follow the Bible?
Well, anyone who has even a basic understanding of the history of Christianity knows that almost the exact moment Jesus ascended to heaven, false doctrine began to infiltrate the Church. The Bible speaks about different gospels, and even a different jesus that slowly crept into the fellowship of believers and began leading people astray. When we look at the New Testament, we see nearly every book is jammed packed with warning after warning against false doctrine and exhortations to hold firmly to the original teachings of Jesus and His Apostles.
So you see, as nice and fluffy as it sounds to claim you don’t follow a book because all you need is Jesus, it really makes no sense. If first century Christians who personally knew the apostles needed their supervision and constant course correction, why would we think we don’t?
“Well, we have the Holy Ghost and so He leads us into all truth.”
All of the first century Christians had the Holy Ghost too. But even more than that, many of them received the Spirit directly through the laying on of the hands of the apostles, themselves. Are we supposed to believe that these Spirit-filled, tongue-talking, believers, who rubbed shoulders with Jesus and the apostles, somehow required more oversight than us?
. . . I mean——really?
“The Bible isn’t the Answer”
All of this usually segues into the objection: “Well, obviously following the Bible is not the answer. There are thousands of denominations and no one can agree on the right interpretation.”
But we can all agree you don’t need to be circumcised to be saved, right?
We all agree you shouldn’t get drunk at communion, right?
We all agree you shouldn’t curse Jesus, right?
All of these things and many, many more, first century Christians were confused about.
See, it’s easy to point to the diversity in the Body of Christ now and say, “They’re all reading the same book but they can’t agree on anything” but you’re not comparing it to the time before the apostle’s doctrine was widespread.
Christians literally needed to be told that a person isn’t inspired by God if they say, “Jesus is accursed.”
They literally needed to be told not to get drunk at communion.
They literally needed to be told that a man having sex with his father’s wife is not something you should be proud of.
Think about it . . .
Direct disciples of Peter, Paul, James and John!
Yet they needed clarification on things that you and I wouldn’t think twice about today.
No, if you think the diversity is bad now, you have no idea what the Body of Christ would look like if we didn’t have the Bible. You think you do, but all the evidence points to absolute and total chaos.
Another unfortunate and bizarre element to this whole thing is the treatment these, “Grace Christians” show towards those who disagree with them. You’d think that for a people who promote grace there would be a lot of patience, understanding, and love toward those on the outside. But half the time they treat you like an enemy if you’re not willing to go along with everything they say. They’ll scorn, ridicule, and mock you. And rather than attempt to combat your ideas with reason and logic, they take the ol’ faithful route of simply shunning you from their groups.
It’s a shame. What they heralded as a revolution is slowly turning into just another divisive group in the Body of Christ.
The Beginning of the End
So here is my prediction: There are many riding the bandwagon of this message that will be destroyed for a lack of knowledge. Because the Bible isn’t central to their understanding of the Gospel, they’ll leave themselves wide open for false and erroneous doctrines with no means of detection. There will be no way to prove or disprove what is being said in their fellowships. And the certainty of truth will slowly decay into New Age Thought, where anything goes, and every person simply does what is right in their own eyes.
Yet, in spite of all of this, the True Gospel of Grace must, and will continue to prevail and become more and more widespread as it leaps forward on the backs of men and women who know God’s Word.