Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Unstable Foundations of Hyper-Grace and "Finished Work" Doctrines

Over the past 3 years, I became aware (and deceived) by the “hyper-grace” teachings while seeking God for healing. I truly believe the only thing that kept me from fully embracing hyper-grace is the fact that I am sick and have a real need. I've had chronic illness for over 14 years and doctors cannot help me. I need to see the reality of what Jesus did on the cross in my life, so catch phrases, slogans and simply believing things differently will not cut it for me. I need the real supernatural power of God to hit my body.

The hyper-grace message became very popular because many people live with a lot of condemnation and do not have a basic understanding of the true message of God's grace.

Since I've been sick most of my adolescent and adult life, I used to struggle with a lot of condemnation. I've never been able to meet up to anyone's expectations in life.

In the church, most of the condemnation that people feel, stems from the fact that ministries are driven by teaching people a method instead of getting people to know Jesus Christ in a personal way. When we try to sell Jesus as a 10 step method, it only makes a person feel condemned and feel as if they are never doing enough. You will always find someone who prays more, reads the bible more, prays in tongues more (or maybe you don't pray in tongues at all!?), sees more people healed or does more street ministry. It's an easy place for people to self-condemn themselves. These checklists and methods also turn into weapons used against people too.

I think it's important to recognize that the main theme of the hyper-grace movement is their disgust and rejection of all methods that have been created in the church. Many of them have been hurt in an abusive church situation. I am not faulting them for wanting to move away from controlling types and it's one of the reasons why I gravitated towards their message too. The problem though is instead of simply rejecting the bad they have indeed over-corrected into error.

They believe that once Jesus died on the cross, that doing anything at all for God is considered works. They believe if you try to obey the teachings of Jesus, then you are pushing “works salvation”. Sadly if you teach on things like service and obedience of any kind that you are “legalistic” and “religious”. Some of them say praying is a work. Some of them say reading the bible is a work. Some of them say turning from sin is a work. Some of them say fasting is a work.

There are variations of exaggerations in these groups. Not all of them believe in the same exaggerations and it makes it difficult to succinctly point out all of the errors. A person is basically forced to use minister names because otherwise you might be using a broad brush on another group who doesn't believe in what the other group within hyper-grace believes.

They have gone from one extreme which is a long list of things “to do” to the other extreme where they say, “there's nothing left to do. Jesus did everything. Just rest”. They have confused the free gift of salvation with the costs of serving the God who gave us that free gift. 

First, it's important to understand that from what I've seen, no one on either side is preaching the idea of doing works in order to be justified (saved). Of course salvation is only found in believing in what Jesus did on the cross, but we should also obey God's will for our life.

But this is where the conflicts and disagreements begin.

Many will say that grace cannot be exaggerated. They say that God's grace is too good and I agree that God's grace is too good. The fact that God sent us His Son Jesus, to die for us, to redeem us even while we were still enemies of God, is amazing! But once we come to believe in Jesus, our life and actions do in fact need to change and this is where hyper-grace disagrees. They say, “It's already done in Christ”. “you are already holy and sanctified”. And yet there is a renewing that God must take us through in our lives to begin to react as Jesus would not as our flesh would. Unfortunately many in the hyper-grace groups do not believe that God can do a work in each of our lives. They do not believe in wilderness seasons. They do not believe that trials can be used to conform a person into the image of His son.

I suspect many people who come across the hyper-grace teachings are in fact temporarily set free! This happens because they realize that the man-made methods that they put themselves under were not of God. I myself had this realization in 2013. I stopped trying to fulfill some man made healing method and started to look directly towards Jesus. But this is where I differ from the hyper-grace camp... Looking directly towards Jesus and pursuing Him involves having to pay a price of some sort. We will have to pray and read the bible. It involves spending time with God. It involves having to turn your back to the things you once did and learn to live the life that he wants for you. It involves sacrifice at times. It's not an effortless journey. It actually is quite painful to die to oneself.

When a person does not have this real connection to God and trials come, many who believe in the hyper-grace, finished-work teachings walk away from the faith. I've seen at least 3 "leaders" in this movement shut down their blogs and FB pages. When the trials and struggles of life come, many of them are not built on the rock that is Jesus. While they reject the "methods of men", they have also done away with any personal relationship and intimacy with God too. When a group of people considers turning from sin and obeying the Lord as works, then how as a church can we restore such people back to the true gospel message? When a group of people think God is no longer doing works in His children, then how will they ever be prepared when storms come?

In my few years, I have seen more walk away from God in these groups than in any other group. I have a few Cessationist friends who are sick and do not believe in healing, but trust God no matter what. They are on stable grounds. I have hyper-grace friends who are sick and were believing God for healing, but when it did not come; They left the faith. The general attitude and mindset of those in hyper-grace is this. "Either God is good and He heals me now or God is not real” There is no room for long term struggles in their walks with God. There was no trust built in God, but simply they trusted in their doctrines and catchphrases. Underneath the catchphrases and slogans, when their life spoke louder than them, they had nothing at all to lean back on.

If those who have accepted hyper-grace were honest with themselves I believe they would see there's a lot of healing that needs to take place within their hearts. They are insecure of God's love and therefore have had to then say that God is always loving and there is no wrath. They are insecure about their salvation and therefore have had to say that you cannot fall away from the faith. They need black and white answers to legalistic questions about God and it has forced them to have to rewrite scriptures like Ananias and Sapphira. For example, some are now saying that Peter in his great power received from God, murdered them. They cannot accept that God may have judged them, but they will gladly turn Peter into a murderer. Wow!

Unfortunately sometimes we need to examine ourselves to see why we are believing the things we are believing. God put me in a situation that forced me to do it. It came down to humbling myself and realizing that what I had believed about God was not true.

The bottom line is that those believing hyper-grace have been deceived into thinking that service, obedience, prayer and reading the bible is works. They have been deceived that trials and struggles in life are strange things we should never experience. If you type in trial, struggles or wilderness into the hyper-grace blogs and you get almost no keyword hits. They have absolutely nothing at all for those in hard times. It is a teaching that attracts people with generally good lives, but gives them zero tools to endure when the wind begins to blow. It's not supposed to be that way! The gospel is supposed to get us through the good times and the bad times.

If we have lost our hunger for God, then more than ever we need to be alone with God and seek him! Unfortunately though, it is nearly impossible to talk to many in the hyper-grace/exaggerated Finished work groups. For having such an amazing revelation of God's grace, I do not see this same love and grace extended towards those who want to have simple discussions with them. They see the inconsistencies with everyone else, but are totally blind when they do it themselves. We can all get our feathers ruffled at times, so I understand and can relate. However I don't see the great revelation of righteousness, grace and forgiveness they all claim to have. If I don't see it in their life, then what and why are they even talking about this as if it's having any transformative effect? Do as I say, not as I do? Isn't this exactly what they were against in the first place? The hypocrisy that's in the Church and the pastor or church that hurt them? Have they simply become what they preached against? In many ways, yes I do believe so and they don't even see it.

We rest in knowing what Jesus did for us, but that doesn't mean we don't pray, read the word or turn from sin. It does not mean we do not commit our lives to God and serve Him in whatever capacity He wants for us. In fact because of what Jesus did, we have a hunger to do all of those things even more so because we see what He took for us. We should not arrogantly look at the cross and then think we are owed something from God.... Jesus gave us more than enough and we should have a joy in our hearts while following Him. No matter what life brings and sometimes it will bring tough situations.

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