The article below was originally published January 26, 2015 and was recently brought to our attention by a longtime supporter of Mike Williams Ministries and the Gospel Revolution. The author’s name is Jim Richards and he published it on his website impactministries.com.
Years ago, Jim Richards traveled with Mike Williams through Canada speaking at several churches and convention halls. Mike has also given many seminars at Jim’s church in Huntsville, Alabama. Jim also awarded Mike with a “Doctorate in the Gospel of Peace” from his Bible school. As Mike continued studying and teaching the gospel and grace, Jim was having a hard time going along with the direction Mike was going in and eventually parted ways.
Jim wrote the article below in an attempt to discredit Mike and specifically the gospel he preaches. This is not Jim’s first attempt to discredit Mike. Several years ago, he recorded a video with a Florida pastor in which they both attempted to discredit Mike and, as in this article, distort the gospel. In the video, they mentioned Mike by name, but in the article below Jim is very clear in describing who this “Imposter” is by referencing their former relationship, which can only be Mike Williams. Yet, in the article below, Jim doesn’t mention Mike by name and even uses a blank underline “_____” when referring to Mike.
We will address the arguments Jim attempts to make in this article as we see fit in the coming weeks, but we also decided to let our audience read what this man is saying about Mike, us and the gospel. We are actually encouraged by his anxious urgency to rally his allies to stop the gospel in its tracks because, as he himself warns the reader, it is a dire emergency that they do.
The Grace Imposter
I am writing this to leaders because I believe the Church in America and around the world is at a serious crossroads. What began as slight deviations from sound doctrine has now become a deluge of devastating heresy, splitting and destroying churches and leading people away from a healthy relationship with Jesus as Lord! This letter is quite lengthy, but as a leader and theologian I feel you need as much information as possible to draw your own conclusions. The life of your church or ministry may be at stake, so please read this prayerfully!
It is not just the preachers of this error that are creating such massive destruction; it is the unwitting acceptance and promotion of this deceptive message by good pastors that will do the greatest damage. In an attempt to be open and allow their people freedom pastors are unintentionally allowing the leaven into their church that has already destroyed hundreds of churches and thousands of lives in America alone!
Very unintentionally the Church is departing from God’s Word as its Source for understanding and interpreting truth. The biblical definitions of love, sound doctrine, and righteousness are being replaced with subjective, philosophical, cult-based definitions and concepts. Ministers are unintentionally failing their congregations by allowing these subtle yet devastating heresies to ‘trickle’ into their congregations, which will become a destructive flood if left unchecked. I am convinced that most pastors are completely unaware of the ultimate consequence for their church as an organization and in the individual lives of their congregation. But I am writing this because I do believe you care about the flock wherein God has placed you!
As many of you know I was one of three men who pretty much pioneered the grace message in America in the 1980’s. My bestselling book Grace: The Power to Change was published by Impact Ministries in the late 1980’s and was republished by Whitaker House in 1993. It is a book designed to teach people that by God’s grace we overcome sin and are empowered to live in righteousness by God’s power. Of the three of us preaching grace in America I was the only one at the time who was presenting this message internationally. I am not saying we three were the only ones preaching grace, I am saying we were the only ones at the time presenting it on a national and international platform. Andrew Womack, another man, and I were the national pioneers of this message in the 80’s & 90’s. Andrew Womack has continued to present a biblically-sound message of grace that truly empowers the believer to live a faith-filled life of godliness while avoiding the trappings of legalism. He is touching and blessing millions. But sadly, one of the early pioneers had a major role in the destruction that is happening today. Because I saw this devastation more than 20 years ago I know how this is going to end!
The third brother who was powerfully preaching a doctrinally-sound message of grace in the beginning slowly began to adjust his message to match his compromised lifestyle. It began with ‘shock statements.’ These ‘shock statements’ (as I call them) are open-ended statements that were not completely theologically wrong, but if not explained left the listener to draw very destructive conclusions about church, godliness, and the effects of sin. They tended to lead to the questioning of other fundamental New Covenant truths.
These statements tended to emphasize what we don’t have to do as Christians. Instead of being an encouragement to follow God this attitude left struggling, codependent believers with an excuse for a compromised life and a victim’s mentality. But even more shocking was the way it fueled defiance and anger toward the Church. Instead of showing people how to have a healthy Church relationship it magnified all that was wrong with the Church. I have no problem with someone pointing out problems as long as they point people to healthy, biblical solutions. In the end the overwhelming feeling among those who heard the Grace Imposter message was this: “Anything I do for God is dead works; I don’t need church, sin is not a problem and has no consequences. “
Please understand, shock statements are not bad if they are used to get the attention of the listener and then qualified by presenting the truth. But when shock statements are made and just left with no truth to bring them into perspective they will always lead the weak, vulnerable, and struggling to reach the wrong conclusions. You never see this type of teaching with Jesus or any of the apostles. The emphasis was always how to live a godly life empowered by God’s grace. The Bible presents grace as the power to overcome sin, not the power to get by with sin.
Over time many people came to me after our meetings and said something like, “When I hear you preach grace I am inspired to live a godly life and believe I can. But when I hear _____ preach grace I want to throw up my hands and go out and get into sin again. What’s the difference in your messages? It sounds like you are almost saying the same things, but I am affected very differently when I hear him preach!” And that’s the problem with the Grace Imposter; it has just enough truth to make it believable to those who are not grounded in the Word of God.
When I asked my fellow minister about his statements he always blamed it on the people. He claimed he had no control over what they did with his message. I could never get him to accept that he may not have control over them, but he does have control to preach a responsible message, and if the majority understands it a certain way then the one presenting the message is the common denominator. I have had this same conversation with dozens of ministers who are following this same pattern today! We must be responsible ministers of the gospel but he, like many preaching an imposter of grace today, tend to lay blame on the hearts of the people. This, like their entire message, is a half-truth, and when misapplied makes it possible for the teacher to never assume responsibility for what is taught! When asked out right about their theological positions one never seems to get an answer that is consistent with their shock statements.
Eventually, though I deeply loved this man I had to follow the biblical admonition to have nothing to do with him! I was never against him personally and I’m not against him to this day, but I am very much against his message and the effects it has had on the listeners. Please understand; this is where it gets hard for all of us. These people are usually our friends or someone who may have ministered to us in the past. Personally, in my attempts to help him I stayed connected with him too long. My association with him caused others to be destroyed by his doctrine because they thought my involvement was an endorsement of his message.
When I finally pulled away he poured out his fury on me, trying to make me look like a legalist. But this is what these extremists do with anyone who questions or challenges their doctrine. They create what is known as a ‘straw man.’ When we no longer conducted meetings together and as he maligned my name pastors called me and wanted to know why we no longer worked together. Without attacking him I explained our theological differences. However, because of his popularity and his ability to draw a crowd they continued to have him speak in their churches. They found ways to justify his shock statements even though they grew more and more extreme. Then it seemed to reach a tipping point! Seemingly overnight there was an avalanche of destruction that began and is reemerging this very day!
For a period of a year or longer I received at least one desperate phone call a week from a pastor whose church split and who often had to shut down his/her church as a result of this man’s influence on their people. It seemed everyone who had any codependent tendency stopped attending and supporting their church and lavishly supported the man with the ‘new message.’ Suddenly, he was coming to their city and conducting private meetings with members of the churches that had previously hosted him. Those people began to see their pastor as a controlling legalist and terminated their involvement with church. I watched healthy churches fall into total disruption. Many of these were the very pastors that, when they previously asked, I warned about the unforeseeable devastation this doctrine would cause. When I warned them, instead of searching the Scriptures they tended to find fault with me. In time the number of calls decreased but, the truth is, we received calls like this for years.
No one would believe what started as a few shock statements from the pulpit would end up with churches collapsing, believers rejecting the authority of God’s Word, Christians rejecting the teaching of Jesus, and lives collapsing in sin. But this is exactly what Jesus and Paul warned would happen when we allowed the corruption of leaven to grow in our midst! Remember leaven isn’t restricted to legalism; it is any influence that undermines and disempowers.
It was so heartbreaking to watch helplessly as good churches collapsed and men and women who had been in the ministry for years left the ministry disillusioned, heartbroken, and financially ruined. However, the greatest sorrow was not the churches that failed, it was the lives that failed. Church members began getting divorces, using drugs, diving into homosexuality, and even denying Christ. You name it – it was happening! And sadly, all of this could have been avoided if pastors had been responsible under-shepherds and guarded the flock (1 Pet. 5:2).
Those who preach this Grace Imposter message claim that a pastor’s biblical responsibility to guard the flock is a legalistic action of control. Be assured, I am not talking about controlling your people; I am talking about no longer facilitating the exposure of your people to a message that is biblically-unsound and historically ALWAYS leads to destruction. I am not saying tell them what to do or who to listen to, but I am saying teach them the difference and, by all means, do not allow these wolves in sheep’s clothing access to your people through your pulpit, you social media, or your mailing list.
The sad truth is these pastors were good men and women but the allure of drawing crowds, the inability to withstand some disfavor, the humanistic attempt to be fair and open-minded, or the need to be accepted by someone they idolized seduced them into an unintended conspiracy of compromise that destroyed their flock and their ministry. And then there is ego. Pastors who have preached some of these very extremes or hinted at them in their messages will have to swallow their pride and lovingly lead their people in a healthier direction. If you make it to the end of this letter I’ll offer some positive suggestions to ending this erosion of truth in your congregation.
All of that happened nearly 25 years ago and now I’m seeing it all happen again, but this time on a much larger, more devastating scale! Today’s technology has allowed these teachers of error all kinds of new ways to influence your people. With the proliferation of Facebook, YouTube, and other social media platforms it is so easy for anyone to reach your people, but you do not have to be ignorantly complicit in their attempts! Guard your social media outlets and use wisdom about who you allow to post on your pages. It takes diligence and persistence to be responsible for what gets to your people through you, but it is a responsibility we must accept if we invite our people to follow us on social media. Who we allow to post on our social media outlets is no different than allowing them to preach in our pulpits. Remember, this is not about controlling people; this is about determining who you will allow to use your influence to speak to your people.
The message of Inclusion, Universalism, Trinitarianism, Ultimate Reconciliation, and other similar doctrines of destruction are being proclaimed under the banner of grace! But it bears repeating, the most shocking thing is pastors and leaders are once again complicit in this conspiracy of heresy by their refusal to take a godly stand! I am not suggesting we attack people, but when we see the warning signs in those who claim they have a revelation of grace, we should never expose them to our people through any means that would allow them to use our influence to speak to them! This is not meanness or judgment; it is obedience to the teaching of our Lord Jesus and the apostles.
The problem comes in the fact that when you ask these teachers if they believe in Inclusion, Universalism, Trinitarianism, or these other heresies they will nearly always deny it. But when they preach or make posts on Facebook they will continue to make questionable statements that sound distinctively like these doctrinal errors. They will make Facebook posts that seem to promote irresponsible living or a lackadaisical life with God! Then you’ll notice they are quoting and pointing people directly to the writings of those who are clearly teaching heresy. What’s worse is they promote the books and meetings or even participate in meetings with those who embrace these doctrines of destruction… all of which equates an endorsement by them and by you if it is on your social media page.
Keep in mind if they come out and publicly reveal their beliefs they will no longer have a ministry or a following among biblical-believing churches and pastors. These teachers tend to be notorious for not having their own following but instead creep in as wolves in sheep’s clothing and get the ear of your following, your congregation, the ministry you have spent your life building! Then they may even show up in your city having private meetings with members of your congregation. If you question or challenge them at all there will be a war waged against you as a controlling legalist!
You’ll notice they don’t emphasize the truth that grace makes you able to live a more godly life (Rom. 6:14), be more effective in ministry (1 Cor. 15:10), or display all the other healthy fruits of the spirit and good works that should come from hearing and believing the true message of grace (Col. 1:6). Instead, they emphasize what you don’t have to do. You don’t have to pray, you don’t have to read your Bible, you don’t have to repent, you don’t have to go to church, and of course, you don’t have to give. The listener becomes paralyzed; they think anything they do is dead works and makes them a legalist.
It always amazes me how they slaughter a local pastor for receiving tithes or an offering, yet they gladly take what was formerly given to your church and use it for their purposes. They have no respect for the children, teens, elderly, and other areas of ministry that cost money. They make you look like a money-hungry thief; but they gladly receive gifts that provide nothing for the giver other than a sermon.
Doctrinally they often have enough tidbits of information to make people question your ministry. However, while some of these things may be true, they are not truth. Truth is when the Word is applied the way God intended. When we walk in love and are empowered by grace we will do what we do because it is our desire. Grace and faith righteousness don’t stop us from doing godly things; they merely empower us to do them for godly, healthy reasons.
If your people are being exposed to these elements before long you will begin to have dissention in your congregation. Some people just leave but others stay and cause trouble! They feel it is their obligation to set your congregations free with their new revelation of grace. You start seeing negative changes in many areas. This is the fruit of their ministry. Your people discover a false sense of freedom which translates into: stop serving, stop giving, and stop doing anything that supports the local church… the church that is providing ministry to their entire family. They feel no need to live productive lives and eventually they have no need for church. And sadly, many will eventually reject their need for a personal faith in Jesus! I have seen it more times than you can imagine! Today it is happening in massive numbers around the globe!
Do not be dismayed. You can stop this tide of destruction. I will share a few ways you can identify those who are heading in a destructive direction. This will help you identify what I have seen to be some of the top doctrinal indicators of where a person is going in his or her doctrine. It is, however, important to remember the problem is not the grace message. The grace of God presented in the New Covenant makes one able to conquer sin, serve abundantly, be more generous, live in true righteousness, fulfill their call to the ministry, and every other aspect of godly living! Should you blame these problems on grace you will make the most fatal of mistakes. You will find yourself preaching against an essential New Covenant truth when, in fact, it is the only thing that makes us able to live this life. Secondly, you will then make it easy for your enemies to attack you. You will drive people out of your church straight into the arms of destruction! New Covenant grace is not the problem; The Grace Imposter is the problem. Heresy disguised under the doctrine of grace is your enemy. The grace message is not your enemy and the people preaching the Grace Imposter are not your enemies!
Following are what I believe to be doctrinal tendencies that form the early warning for detecting those who are headed toward error. If you see these doctrines please be kind and walk in love, but stop exposing these teachers to your congregation. If you have begun to buy into and preach these doctrines yourself I will provide some free ministry tools to help you understand the root of these doctrines and how they will play a role in disempowering the Church while ushering in the antichrist! I have seen how this ends! I know that isn’t what you want! Please prayerfully consider where you stand on these doctrinal issues and on your need to protect your congregation!
- Any teaching that twists or distorts the true meaning, definition, and intention of grace will always tend toward these mystical, compromising extremes. Here are important factors we should know about grace:
- Grace is the power to overcome sin (Rom. 6:14) and live our true identity in Jesus (1 Cor. 15:10).
- Grace is not mercy. The moment we make grace and mercy synonymous every Scripture that offers us the ability to overcome sin is reduced to the ability to get by with sin.
- Grace is not a state of being. It is a power, capacity, strength, or ability that works through our heart by faith, i.e. when we believe the truth.
- Grace is not a person. Jesus was filled with grace. He modeled what our lives could be if we too believed the truth and yielded to the grace of God working in us.
- Grace is not the gospel; it is an important component of the gospel. Without grace we might as well be under law and dependent upon our flesh. Grace makes us able to do what we could never do in the flesh, live a godly life (Romans 8)!
- According to Jesus, grace is not the message that will be preached before the end comes. The message that will be preached to prepare the world for the end times is the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matt. 24:14).
- Our covenant with God is not the Covenant of Grace. That term is not used anywhere in the entire Bible. Grace is an essential component of our covenant.
- Failure to relate to grace as God’s ability working in us to overcome sin and live in our righteousness always defaults to false assumption that grace is God’s ability to overlook sin and that righteousness is just a state of being, not a quality of life.
- One of the prevalent errors presented as grace is the message of ‘inclusion.’ Inclusion departs from everything the Bible teaches concerning personal faith. It is the philosophical idea that says, “If God is love He would not send/allow anyone to go to Hell. And Jesus died on the cross for all men therefore all men are in Christ.” In other words, everyone is saved whether they do or do not believe on Jesus.
- This message ignores man’s right and responsibility to choose.
- It ignores the fundamental reality that grace works through faith (Eph. 2:8-10).
- It denies every Scripture (hundreds of them) about man’s participation by faith in the finished work of Jesus.
- It always leads to irresponsible living.
- It is just another terminology that ends in Universalism.
- Then there is the issue of sin. There is a corrupt logic that says, “Because we are free from sin, sin has no power or consequences.”
- This is in direct contradiction to Paul’s New Testament teachings, specifically in Romans 6 where he warns BELIEVERS thatthe wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). While it is true that sin has no dominion or lordship over the believer, Paul teaches that it still results in death for those who choose to partake in it.
- In Romans 6 Paul repeatedly warnsShould we sin because we are under grace? The answer is always a definitive: NO(Rom. 6:15ff)! Paul warns that to yield to sin again makes us slaves to sin again, and warns that the end of that slavery is death (Romans 6).
- Hebrews warns that the deceitfulness of sin is hardness of heart (Heb. 3:13). A hard heart is incapable of hearing the voice of God because it has become calloused and insensitive to Him. A hard heart ultimately leads us into unbelief which prevents us from entering into His rest. Rest is the place where we have ceased from our own labors/strength and experience grace. We don’t stop laboring; we just stop laboring in our own strength.
- Anytime anyone makes it seem that sin has no effect or consequences they will destroy many (2 Pet. 2:18-20).
- They say, “Warning about the destruction of sin creates a sin consciousness;” but this is contrary to what Jesus and the apostles demonstrated in their messages and their lives. The apostles warned against the destruction of sin in every Epistle, and then encouraged godliness! Preaching legalism (righteousness by law) will create a sin consciousness but warning against the destruction of sin opens the eyes of the believer who has been deceived and hardened by sin.
- When the word ‘grace’ is improperly defined to be more synonymous with ‘mercy’ it leads to a convoluted concept of freedom.
- Freedom in the New Covenant is not freedom to do what you want with no consequences. In fact, the writers of the Epistles warn us not to use freedom as a cloak for sin (1 Pet. 2:15-16, 2 Pet. 2:18-19).
- In the Greek the word ‘freedom’ refers to a slave who is freed from slavery and now has the freedom to be a citizen, which brings with it the choice to live by the law of the kingdom or to be a criminal. But nowhere does freedom present the false idea of actions without consequences.
- In the New Testament freedom is always linked to using that freedom to serve others (Gal. 5:13).
- Paul tells us we have been freed from slavery to sin that we might be slaves to righteousness. He then warnsto whom you yield yourself, that is you master (Rom. 6:16-23). Yielding to sin leads to death and yielding to righteousness leads to life.
- In the Grace Imposter there is always a condemnation of ‘works,’ but there is no distinction between good works and dead works.
- In the New Covenant we are delivered from dead works (i.e., anything we would do to earn righteousness).
- However,We are now His workmanship created unto good works (Eph. 2:10). Good works are mentioned in a positive light no less than 15 times in the New Testament. Our testimony and influence in the world is based on our good works (Mk. 5:13-16, 1 Ti. 6:18). In fact, Hebrews 10:24 tells us to provoke one another to love and good works. Good works are the fruit that should effortlessly grow in the believer experiencing biblical grace!
- The believer is made to feel that obedience is an evil, Old Testament concept of dead works.
- Obeying the teaching of Jesus and the apostles as well as following the Holy Spirit are lost in the generalization of works.
- Then there is the absurd heresy that we cannot follow the teaching of Jesus; we should only follow the teaching of the Epistles.
- The assumption is that Jesus was a Teacher of the law. But the truth is Jesus was a Teacher of ‘The Gospel of the Kingdom’ (Matt. 4:23). Most of His parables were about the Kingdom of God, not about the law!
- When Jesus departed Planet Earth the Church was told to make the entire world disciples of Jesus by teaching them toobserve everything He commanded (Matt. 28:19-20). If we can’t follow His teachings He is not our Lord and we are not His disciples! Every aspect of salvation hinges upon our relationship to Jesus as Lord.
- Paul warns very explicitly about people who depart from the teachings of Jesus:If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wrangling of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself (1 Tim. 6:3-5).
- He also makes it very clear that we should have nothing to do with them. No matter how good of a preacher they are or how logical their argument seems we are to leave them alone.
- The doctrine of Sovereignty as it is currently presented is a diabolical lie that is one of the primary reasons the world hates God. Based on the doctrine of Sovereignty God causes the good and the bad! Sometime He heals, sometimes He kills. His Word is not sure and there is no reason to attempt to relate to God by faith!
- The Sovereignty doctrine says, “God is in control of everything; therefore, everything happens for a reason.” This means He chooses who will die in a house fire and who will get out, who will get cancer and who will not. This concept is based on ancient mythology, not biblical theology. It is a Luciferian lie that began with the idea that God is the evil one who cannot be trusted. It eventually emerged into a mythological doctrine: the gods are in control!
- God is sovereign in the sense that He makes all the rules. But here’s the catch: He can’t break the rules after He makes them. He is not a liar. His Word is sure; otherwise there would be no need for faith, obedience, or even any effort to live a godly life.
- This concept leads to Predestination. Some versions of Predestination say that God will save whom He chooses, independently of the individual’s desire or faith. Other versions of this say God will cause you to die when He is ready or make you sick when He chooses. In the name of grace these teachers will say, “You don’t have to pray to make anything happen in your life. You don’t need to develop your heart. You don’t have to do anything; you just passively receive.” Any and all effort on our parts to participate in the promises of God is labeled as ‘works.’
- All of the versions of Predestination have one thing in common: they lead the believer to a lackadaisical, irresponsible lifestyle. Jesus and all the apostles said to pray, live by faith, and seek a godly lifestyle. But when ego-driven, dogmatic people can’t make Scripture fit their paradigm they ignore or deny it! It leaves people feeling helpless and defenseless in the hands of an unpredictable God! Does that sound like Greek mythology or what?
- One primary, fundamental doctrine that, if ignored, leads to all manner of error is the authority of man in Planet Earth (Gen. 1:26-27). We can choose to follow God’s Word or we can choose to follow our own philosophical concepts. The first leads us to a relationship with God and Jesus as our Lord. The second makes us a god unto ourselves. As humans with authority we must believe what Jesus has accomplished through the cross. Based on that belief (faith) we must bind or loose and declare legal or illegal the things that come into our life (Matt. 16:19). When we believe anything God has accomplished through the finished work of Jesus (use our faith) we are empowered with the grace (power) to experience it in our life!
- The word ‘receive’ in the New Testament is very seldom the passive word for ‘receive;’ it nearly always comes from the Greek ‘lambano’ which means “to take hold of and bring unto yourself.” We do this by grace through faith. There is nothing passive about it.
- This cult-based doctrine of Sovereignty has no basis in the Old Testament, was not taught by Jesus, and was never a part of the apostles’ doctrine (Phil. 2:12). It was introduced to the Church through Constantine, a church leader who was not even a Christian. Constantine converted (not born again) to Christianity because he believed if he marched under the banner of the cross his enemies could not defeat him. He brought this and many damnable heresies from his cult background into the Church that still abide until this day. This convoluted version of Sovereignty comes from Greek Fatalism which says “The gods are in control, their will is being done. What will happen, will happen!”
- This is a doctrine that conveniently alleviates man from responsibility and makes it possible to blame God for every evil on Earth. This doctrine may have sent more people to Hell than any other heresy.
- Then there is probably the most misunderstood and confusing paradox of all New Testament heresy: ‘The law is done away!’
- Jesus Himself said He did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17-20). By misinterpreting the word ‘fulfill’ people get the idea Jesus did all the law and it is now gone. The word ‘fulfill’ doesn’t mean “to do away;” it means “to accomplish or bring something to the goal.”
- Jesus fulfilled the righteous requirement of the law (Rom. 10:4) and delivered us from all the curses of the law (Gal. 3:13). He brought all the promises of the law to us (2 Cor. 1:20). (Since the promises are under the law, if the law is done away so are the promises.) Jesus was the true fulfillment of all the ceremonies, sacrifices, and rituals. They were all a shadow of the reality that took place on the cross and in the heavenly Holy of Holies. All that is left of the law after this is how we should treat one another. We fulfill the remaining aspects of the law when we walk in love.
- John 1:17-18 tells us, For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. Jesus did not bring us a different law or different truth that conflicted with the law. He brought us what the law would have looked like if it had been applied ‘in truth.’ The word ‘truth’ implies that Jesus showed us not only what God intended, but all that the law really implied. He didn’t lower the standard, He raised it. He and the apostles taught that it was only truth when applied from the motive of love.
- Jesus is also the light of the world. As light He revealed the true nature and intention of God. Because no one had seen God, He was misrepresented by carnal man. Only Jesus could show us the true intentions of the law as consistent with God’s loving nature. John said He declared the Father to us. The word ‘declared’ means “to unfold by example.” He never contradicted the law but He was never a hard-hearted legalist. He used the truth of the law to set men free, not bring them into bondage!
- Jesus often saidYou have heard it said, but I say… In fact, from Matthew 5 all the way through Matthew 7 Jesus compares the way the law had been interpreted and compared it to how it should be applied. He showed us how this righteousness that works from love totally exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. All of the laws concerning how to love God, one another, and ourselves are left to us as our understanding of who God is, how He defines love, and how we should treat one another. These are the Scriptures we use to renew our mind and put on the new man. Jesus’ version of God’s Word shows us not only what God would look like on Planet Earth, it shows us what we look like if we yield to Him.
Then, through our lives we present the same image of God to the world that was presented by Jesus’ life and teaching. But it doesn’t stop there. Jesus brought grace with this truth (He isn’t grace, He brought grace). He gave us the capacity, the power, the ability to live in this truth. It was the grace in His life that made Him able to live in this truth (Jn. 1:14, 16) and walk in love.
- We are not under the law, but the law is what love will always lead us to fulfill (Rom. 13:8, 10) because the law concerning how we treat one another is God’s definition of love. I understand how people are confused by this paradox. But like most error, the confusion comes when you read the Bible for doctrine instead of how to live and treat people. We forget that the apostles preached from the Old Testament. They did not throw these Scriptures away; they used them to present who Jesus really is and how we should live. When the Epistles talk about the Scriptures they are talking about the Old Testament!
- Sadly, those who embrace the Grace Imposter do not grasp the difference between law and legalism. Legalism is when one uses the law to earn righteousness or control others. The commandments were not given to control, they were given to help and guide. The word ‘command’ or ‘commandment’ can be translated as “divine prescription.” They give us the prescription (wisdom) to live life on the best terms possible. All of the moral and ethical standards presented in all the Epistles were based on the law. They were not designed to take people back UNDER the law. They were designed to point people to the truth and then encourage them to experience this truth through the power of the Holy Spirit (grace). They taught believers how we should relate to one another. When we walk in love or yield to the Holy Spirit we always fulfill (bring to the goal) the law (Rom. 13:8, 13:10, Gal. 5:14, Ja. 2:8).
- God did not change between the Old and New Testaments. Truth did not change! God’s Word did not change. What changed between the Old and New Testaments was the covenant: the terms whereby we would relate to God! Truth is still truth, wisdom is still wisdom, God’s Word is still light, but under this New Covenant we relate to God through the finished work of Jesus. But God’s Word did not change or go away! It is still the wisdom for life!
- In Romans 7:12 Paul clearly stated …the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. The problem was not the law or the commandment; the problem was the flesh. Romans 8:3-4 says, For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. But he doesn’t just throw away the righteous requirements of the law; moreover, he says we will fulfill them when we walk in the Spirit. They don’t make us righteous; however, if we have been made righteous and yield to righteousness we will fulfill them. It is the outworking of our new nature! Thus, we have a paradox that says, “I am notunder the law, but if I walk in love and walk in the Spirit I will fulfill the law” (i.e., bring the law to its goal to love one another).
- In 1Timothy 1:8-9 Paul further statesBut we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully. So what is the lawful way to use the law? Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith (1 Tim. 1:5). It is always unlawful to use the law for righteousness or any legalistic purpose. Nowhere does it say to use it to become righteous. But it shows us that when we allow the law to be our standard we have a clear conscience and we walk in sincere love and sincere faith. But this will only happen when we yield to our true righteous identity in Jesus. These paradoxes are never understood by the person who tries to grasp them with their mind/intellect instead of their heart! This is only understood by the person who seeks to live a godly life!
- Then in verse 9 comes the paradox:knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless…The ‘lawless’ are those who reject the law as God’s standard of morality, ethics, and love. When believers will not follow the Spirit or walk in love then we, as leaders, just as Paul did in all of his Epistles, use the commandments (divine prescriptions) to remind them of God’s definition of love, righteousness, ethics, etc. But we do not use it to bring them under law. We remind them as Paul did to yield to the righteousness of God that is in them. Yield to the Holy Spirit. But God’s law should be the standard whereby we determine morality, love, ethics, and all aspects of how to relate to our fellow man. If the spirit that leads us is not leading us in this direction it is not the Spirit of God!
- Every time the message of grace has come to Planet Earth it has been hijacked by lawlessness. It happened when Jesus taught this, when Paul taught this, when Martin Luther taught this, and once again it is happening in our generation! On the very heals of one of the most empowering doctrines for the Church comes a movement to disregard or throw away the law as God’s standards, values, and truth. The Greek word for this lawlessness is ‘antinomia.’ Of the nine Greek words for ‘sin,’ ‘lawlessness’ seems to be the most destructive and most difficult from which to recover.
When God’s laws are no longer the standard of morality, ethics, and godliness all we have left is our own humanistic philosophies and concepts of ‘fairness and social justice.’ The rejection of God’s standards is the equivalent to saying, “I am more just, merciful, and righteous than God.” This has been the lie of Lucifer, the fallen angels, the Nephilim, all the pagan religions of the world, Humanists, Communists, Progressives, and all ungodly, oppressive governments.
- According to Paul and Jesus lawlessness (anti-law) is one of the most significant end time heresies. The rise of lawlessness, which rejects God’s definition of love based on His Word, is the reason love grows cold (Matt.24:12). Lawlessness will usher in the rise of the antichrist (2 Th. 2:7-8) and will be the motivation for the changing of the laws and times as warned in Daniel 7:25.
Social justice is nothing more than a humanistic cover to reject God’s standards for criminal justice, marriage, love, economy, and every other truth that provides wisdom for a great life. That is the cry of the elite who today are stripping us of our religious freedoms. They say, “We need to rid the world of the tyranny of an angry God who has given us all these rules.” They consider themselves to be more righteous and more merciful than God! Sadly, I hear Grace Imposter preachers talk about how the Old Covenant was a covenant of fear, it was all about wrath; the law is bad and hard. I know they do not realize they are echoing the ancient accusation of the devil and the fallen angels and aligning themselves with the New World Order and the antichrist who will reject all of God’s laws as a means to establish a new social justice: The New World Order.
- Recklessly handling the Word of God is always an earmark for coming trouble. It seems when these teachers cannot make the Word say what they need for it to say they simply reject that portion of the Word. It is rare that any preacher will come out and say “God’s Word is not true;” but they will reject certain books of the Bible, especially if it contains passages that conflict with their doctrine.
- This rejection of the Word starts with the Old Testament. It was the rejection of the Old Testament that paved the way for the early ‘Church fathers’ to reinterpret what the New Testament meant. Ignorance about the sacrifices, ceremonies, and rituals has given rise to ignorance and heresy about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Keep in mind, there is a difference between the Old Testament and the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant is the terms by which man related to God before Christ! The Old Testament is the account of God’s Word and the history of God’s dealings with mankind! Paul told us everything that happened in the Old Testament was useful as an example and instruction for us (1 Cor. 10:6, 11; Heb. 4:11; 2 Pet. 2:6; Jude 7). Failure to make the distinction between the Old Covenant and the Old Testament leads to a failure to grasp the distinction between the law as a means of relating to God and the law as the wisdom of God. This leads to a rejection of the Old Testament testimony of God! In the absence of that testimony our concepts of God are based on subjective human philosophy leading to heresy!
- Then they reject the teachings of Jesus stating that He was a teacher of the law or that He came only to the lost sheep of Israel. Failure to grasp the Gospel of the Kingdom as taught by Jesus makes it impossible to fully understand the teaching of the Epistles. The Gospel of the Kingdom provides the theological guidelines for interpreting the Epistles.
- They only reject the Epistles with which they disagree. Some totally reject the Book of James. James points out that real faith produces real fruit andfaith without works is dead (Ja. 2:20). Some reject the writings of Peter. And finally, there is rejection of the Book of Revelation. Since it doesn’t support their predetermined doctrine they can’t understand it! They would understand it if they had not thrown away the Old Testament and the teaching of Jesus, or they might understand many of the Scriptures they reject if, instead of being a judge of God’s Word, they were disciples.
- Then there is the final edit to God’s Word. This starts with the complete ignoring of any individual Scriptures that contradict their teaching. There is the constant use of incomplete or inaccurate definitions for words like, ‘grace,’ ‘fulfill,’ ‘righteousness,’ ‘repentance,’ ‘conviction,’ and ‘confession;’ and now we have the exact scenario as Peter warned, you can twist Paul’s teaching to your own destruction (2 Pet. 3:15-16).
- There are even those today who say Paul did not have a complete revelation of grace and their personal revelations are just as much the Word of God as that which Paul wrote. This, of course, flies in the face of Peter’s warning about private interpretations (2 Pet. 1:20).
- Scriptures like John 16:12-14 are twisted to imply that the Holy Spirit would teach us things the Bible has not yet taught us.I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth… But we know that neither Jesus nor the Holy Spirit came to contradict any aspect of God’s Word. They both shined light on all that God had said up to that point that we might take that which is truth and see it as such. Jesus only spoke what He received. The Holy Spirit only speaks what He received. They both speak from all that God had previously said.
- In John 7:18-19 Jesus gives us incredible insight into His revelations about God. Remember, He is the only One who has ever seen God. He is the only One who can accurately represent and portray God. Yet, He bases everything He says on the Old Testament, God’s Word, as His Source of authority. Then He exposes the driving factor behind those who speak from their own revelation/authority.He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory… Contrary to God’s definitions of love it seems these Grace Imposters have an insatiable need to impress others with their deep revelations.
The Word of God is the only accurate record we have of all that God has revealed about Himself to man. He gave us His Word and His Spirit as a means to recognize truth and error. The ultimate expression of His Word was revealed in the life, the teachings, and the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The egotistical drive of the person who rejects God’s Word, especially the teachings of Jesus, is diabolical. It is the epitome of man being a god unto himself.
- The ultimate perversion and diabolical deception (regardless of what name it goes by) comes when God’s account and motive for the death, burial, and resurrection is twisted. The Apostle John warns of this antichrist spirit. Here are some common departures from what the Bible teaches very clearly. Many of these alone would not be damaging, but when there is a pattern of compromise concerning the cross and these other tendencies there is a problem.
- The first reality that John warns about is the fact that Jesus literally became a real man with a human body.
- A very common struggle for many is the fact that Jesus literally became our sin. The religious or analytical mind has no way to reconcile these paradoxes.
- Jesus was alienated from God by our sin.
- He died the death we deserve and went into theabode of the wicked.
- He was raised by His faith conquering sin, death, and Hades.
- He became our propitiation and satisfied the wrath of God.
- The struggle for those who take a more mystical approach to interpretation, root their doctrine in philosophy instead of truth. Man brought sin into the world and sin had to be paid for. There is a denial that God had any legal need to cause Jesus to become our sin and suffer our punishment. This comes from a humanistic concept of love rather than God’s definition of love.
The covenant that God established with Jesus was the Covenant of Peace (Is 54:10). As He points out in Isaiah 53-54, His anger and wrath was poured out on the Messiah. But the result of that is a Covenant of Peace. We have peace with God through the Lord Jesus. If peace was only lost in our mind then God’s Word is deception.
The philosophical concepts lift Colossians 1:21 out of context. Out of context the idea has been presented that man was never alienated from God; the problem only existed in man’s mind. But in that same passage Paul explains that God made peace through the cross. If there had already been peace there would have been no need for the cross. Then he makes reference to reconciliation through the cross. If separation only exists in the mind of man there would have been no need for reconciliation. ‘Reconcile’ means many things. But the most important may be “to exchange.” An exchange is something that happens by the actions of both parties, not just one. It is also where one pays for an item (a person) with something of equal value.
Everything Jesus faced through the cross, His death, His resurrection, and His receiving of the inheritance is something we would have had to do for ourselves. Therefore, if any part of it is left out it leaves man with an aspect of debt that has not been reconciled.
- Then there is the false idea that since Jesus used His faith to obtain this we do not need to have our own personal faith. Apart from our faith in His finished work the cross is simply an historical event that has no real meaning in the life of the potential believer or the believer.
Church History reveals that most of these doctrinal twists have cycled through the body of Christ for the last two thousand years. Many of them actually began with the fall of Lucifer and have been perpetuated throughout history. They always bring sin, confusion, doubt, and destruction. Today, because of social media, these and similar heresies are daily being poured out on the body of Christ! According to the Bible those who teach these things are ignorant of the Bible, unstable, ego-driven, and thrive in argumentative situations. And we know they are ignorant of Church History.
Sadly, in my personal involvement with these teachers I have usually observed an agenda that is not rooted in the cause of Christ! Regardless of the reason, the fruit is nearly always the same. People stop praying and worshipping. They stop winning the lost. They usually stop moving in the gifts of the Holy Spirit and they stop supernatural ministry. They often stop living a godly life. Many eventually abandon Christ altogether. Amidst all the ensuing instability you can never establish a stable disciple or build a healthy Church. These doctrines abandon the lordship of Jesus, the authority of God’s Word, and the importance of godly living!
Why am I saying this to you today? The days we live in are evil. If we embrace these types of compromising doctrines we will not experience the true grace of God, we will neglect a world that desperately needs Jesus. We will be powerless in the face of the coming onslaught. We will encourage believers into a life of compromise and we will have no hope of a new life to offer the world!
Truly millions of people have been worn out by religion. But replacing one extreme with another is not the solution. Those who were held captive to religion are now being taken captive by these destructive errors. Like those who teach these errors, their codependent tendencies took them to the extreme of legalism and now those same codependent tendencies are taking them to extremes in compromise. While they talk of grace they are not experiencing grace. If they were they would not continue in their insecure, codependent tendency to take God’s Word to extreme!
They think that having this new information is freedom, but they have actually become Gnostic in their approach to God. Belief in the heart is substituted with intellectualism and the abundance of ‘deep revelations.’ They love to astound the listener by their great revelations. However, like all intellectual concepts, they will soon lose that feeling and need their itching ears tickled by even more extreme philosophies; thus, they will seek new, deeper revelations abandoning the obvious reality of the gospel for that which impresses the ignorant listener and stimulates the ego! Eventually the Bible will no longer hold enough potential sensationalism and they will depart from the Word of God searching for that deeper revelation!
Everything Jesus and the apostles taught says the Word, the Spirit, the truth, and yes, ‘grace’ should bring forth fruit in our life. The person relating to God through their ego-driven mind measures spirituality by an abstract depth of knowledge and revelation. But Paul warned, knowledge puffs up, love builds up. In John 7:17 Jesus said, If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. In other words, the only way to know if our doctrine is truth is when we ‘will’ or intend to put it into application in our life!
What we believe cannot be seen in our swelling words (Jude 16, 2 Pet. 2:18) or our mystical, abstract spirituality, and certainly not through our declaration of revelations so deep they depart from the Word of God! In fact, Jesus Himself said we could only know a person by their fruits (Jn. 7: 15-20). He then explained that the people who proposed to have done so much for Him were, in fact, people who didn’t personally know Him. Why didn’t they know Him? They were ‘lawless.’ They rejected God’s law as the absolute truth (Matt. 7:21-23). They refused to know Him through God’s Word. They rejected the truth of the Word He came to reveal.
As leaders we must take heed lest we make the same mistake and allow our sympathies, friendships, or fear of man lead us to create our own doctrines about how to handle these destructive philosophies. In our Humanistic concepts of love we think we are in no danger when we continue to listen to those who teach such things. After all, we know the truth! We are mature! We are open-minded! But remember, deception doesn’t start by believing a lie; it starts by listening to a lie. If you could ask Adam and Eve I’m sure they would agree! And even if we are safe, what about the people we influence?
The Bible is clear: stop listening to them, have nothing to do with them. I know this has a strong sound and seems contrary to love, but if we love the people to whom we minister we must trust the admonitions of our loving God! You should not be mean, ugly, judgmental, or argumentative. But if Jesus is Lord and His Word is what you use to build your life, you are warned of the deadly danger of just a little leaven. Leaven was not the law; it was legalism, the perversion of the law; it was the way the Pharisees twisted the law (Mark 8:15). Today it is the way Grace Imposters twist the law! Honestly, ‘leaven’ is anything that perverts God’s law, His love, His Word, or His character.
I want you to be strong in the Lord, strong in faith and grace, strong in love, and immovable in truth. I want your churches and ministries to be healthy, producing good fruit, healing a hurting world! Together we will help those who stumble through the errors of our day. We will love them, not condemn or judge them, but we will show them what this life looks like when it is a walk of love!
I will be modifying the main points of this letter into a mini-booklet that you can use to help recover your people who still want help. In a few weeks it will be available on my website and Kindle as The Grace Imposter. Also, if you are on my mailing list and would like to watch a short video where I share some practical tips on how to protect and recover your congregation from these extremes you will soon receive notification of its release. If you are not on my mailing list go to www.impactministries.com and register or download our free mobile app.
I hope you have received this letter in its true intention: my love for the body of Christ. I hope it has helped you identity what I and thousands of leaders around the world are seeing. In order to stay ahead of the flood of error that we will face in the next several years I encourage you to get my series, The Mystery of Iniquity: The Enemy of Grace. It will help you understand how ‘lawlessness’ began in Planet Earth. You see how it is the most subtle, yet deadly deception we face. And it is so important for you to see how it is playing a major role in the end time seduction. Iniquity/lawlessness has been the primary basis of accusation by the devil against our God since the beginning. It is the root of political correctness, social justice, legalism, and the Grace Imposter.
I know this has been a long, challenging letter and a lot to consider. But I also know what these doctrines do to believers and churches. I have seen it all over the world. I have never seen these doctrines build a strong church that was reaching their community and the world. In fact, all I’ve ever seen it produce is a church that is an inbred, closed, judgmental group of victims that accomplish nothing for God!
In my series, The Mystery of Iniquity: The Enemy of Grace I will confirm that what you have known in your heart all along: the truth the Holy Spirit was showing you, even when your friends and your mind were attempting to lead you in another direction. God wants us to live godly lives. He wants righteousness without legalism. He has called us to walk in love and He wants to empower us to do this and more by His grace working in our hearts!
PS – I encourage you to forward this email to any minister you feel would benefit from it!