Michael Brown and his grace controversy
The hyper-grace gospel that Jesus revealed declares that God loves you with an unconditional love. His grace for you is, to quote the apostle Paul, hyper- or super-abounding (Rom 5:20).
The gospel of God’s grace is the good news that this world needs to hear, but according to some this message is controversial, divisive, and faddish. Dr. Michael Brown is one of the critics opposed to this “dangerous” message and he has just written a book. It’s called The Grace Controversy and an abbreviated version of it can be found on CharismaNews.
In the CharismaNews article Dr. Brown says that the hyper-grace gospel is a deception that attracts two kinds of believers: those who are closet sinners and those who have a problem with discipline.
There are two primary classes of believers drawn to the hyper-grace message. The first group consists of serious Christians who really want to please the Lord but they struggle with a particular sin or they have very sensitive consciences… On the other hand, there are believers who are attracted to the hyper-grace message because they have a problem with discipline and holiness.
Dr. Brown’s language is provocative but controversy sells. In an earlier book, Dr. Brown suggested grace preachers were Marcionites (a heretic) and Gnostics (ditto). Now we are secret sinners and carnal Christians. So beware of us!
I don’t really mind the slander – it comes with the territory – but what I do find odd is how Dr. Brown applauds the “incredibly liberating” and “positive truths of the hyper-grace message,” but then dismisses that message as extreme and unbalanced. He acknowledges that this message is bearing much fruit, but he wants to chop down the tree.
Grace is good, but it’s controversial. Grace is helping people, but it’s dangerous.
That doesn’t make any sense to me, but maybe I’ve got a sensitive conscience.
In his book Michael Brown asks twelve questions. I like questions and, as always, I appreciate the opportunity to provide hyper-grace answers to his:
1. Is Grace a Person?
Yes, in the sense that the gospel of grace is the gospel of Jesus (Acts 20:24, 2 Th 1:8). All the blessings of God come to us by grace alone and all of them are found in Jesus.
But a better question is, why does it matter? It matters because if we define grace as something other than Jesus – a concept, a doctrine, a teaching – we diminish it. We put it in a little box and tell ourselves, “That’s grace, I have it all figured out.”
The problem is your grace-in-a-box won’t change you. It won’t lift you up, give you aid, or help you overcome sin. But Jesus will! This is why I say grace is a Person and his name is Jesus.
2. Are All Our Sins—Past, Present and Future—Already Forgiven in Jesus?
You bet! The preacher of mixture cheapens grace by saying Jesus only died for some of your sins or God’s forgiveness is merely a debit card, but in Christ you are eternally forgiven. Jesus will never die for your sins again (Heb 9:26). Forgiveness is not something God does; it’s something he’s done.
Does this mean everyone is saved? Does this mean hyper-grace is really universalism in disguise? Not at all. What it means is that because of Jesus, God is no longer counting your sins against you (2 Cor 5:19). You don’t need to waste a second of your life begging God to forgive you – he already did!
3. If a Believer Fails to Confess Even One Sin Before He Dies, Will He Go to Hell?
Nope. Just as we are not qualified by our righteous deeds, we are not disqualified by our unrighteous deeds. We are saved and kept by Jesus. “He will keep you firm to the end” (1 Cor 1:8).
4. Does the Holy Spirit Convict Believers of Sin?
No. How could he, since he remembers our sins no more (Heb 10:17)? There is a long tradition of teaching that the Holy Spirit “lovingly” convicts us of sin, but there is not one scripture to support this. Love keeps no record of wrongs. The Spirit of Christ makes you Son-conscious, not sin-conscious.
5. Does God See Us as Righteous?
Yes. The gospel of grace announces a divine exchange – your sin for Christ’s righteousness. One with the Lord, you are as righteous and holy as he is. Jesus said, “I am the Vine and you are the branches.” If the Vine is righteous, then so are the branches.
“Ye were declared righteous, in the name of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor 6:11, YLT). “Having been declared righteous, then, by faith, we have peace toward God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1).
6. What Does It Mean to Be Under Grace and Not the Law?
It means trusting in grace from start to finish and having nothing to do with the law. As Paul explains in Romans 7, running after the law is committing spiritual adultery. It’s cheating on Jesus. The Galatians put themselves under a tiny bit of law and Paul called them deceived fools.
The law does not teach you how to please God, live right, or do anything. The law is not for you. “The law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful” (1 Tim 1:9).
7. If God Requires Anything of Us as Believers, How Is That Grace?
Everything God requires, God provides – that’s grace. God requires that you be righteous, so he gives you his righteousness. He requires that you be sanctified, so he gives you his sanctification.
“Impress God by being good,” says the works preacher, and God does a face palm. Your goodness is as filthy rags, smelly with the stench of the flesh. Your goodness is not good enough. “Be perfect,” said Jesus (Matt 5:48). The perfection that God demands he supplies, and in Christ you have it.
8. Are We Made Completely Holy the Moment We Are Saved?
Are we fully human the moment we are born?
The holiness preacher makes much of the exhortation to be holy, as though holiness was something to strive for. “Sign up for the holiness gym. Get running on the treadmill of spiritual discipline.”
But holiness, along with every other spiritual blessing, is a gift to be received. “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb 10:10). Why do the scriptures exhort us to be holy? Because that is our true identity.
Holiness is not something to do in order to become something we are not; it is something we do because of who we are.
9. If Hypergrace Is Not True, Why Are So Many Believers Transformed by the Message?
Here’s a better question: If so many people are transformed by the hyper-grace message, why do some attack it?
10. Do the Words of Jesus Apply to Us Today?
Yes. Dr. Brown likes to marginalize grace preachers by saying we are dismissive of Christ’s words (and don’t forget we’re also closet sinners!), but it’s a myth. In fact grace preachers are the only ones taking Jesus seriously.
A mixed-grace preacher reads the words of Jesus selectively (“those tough words are just hyperbole” or “Jesus is exaggerating – he didn’t really mean it”), but a hyper-grace preacher values everything Jesus says.
11. Is God Always Pleased With Us as His Children?
Definitely. God sees Jesus in the River Jordan, before he’s done any ministry or preached any sermons, and he says, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17). God did this to show us his love is unaffected by what we do.
Your behavior may not please the Lord, and your choices may not please the Lord, but you can rest assured that you are always 100 percent pleasing and acceptable to the Lord. God will never say, “You disappoint me.” You are and always shall be, the apple of your Daddy’s eye.
12. Is It Possible to Lose Your Salvation?
No. For you to lose your salvation God would have to forsake you or cast you out, when he said he wouldn’t (Heb 13:5, John 6:37). He would have to forget we are his children (Is 49:15), remember what he has chosen to forget (Heb 10:17), and do what he promised never to do (Rev 3:5).
Fear and doubt are the fruit of mixed-up preaching, but your heavenly Father wants you to be certain and secure. So what does he do? He fills his book with unshakeable promises so that we might have confidence and live free from worry.
Grace (without controversy) and peace (without qualification) to you all!
in meditating on this.
I think people miss that Jesus took away the “POWER” of sin.
Now that sounds like SIN was say like…. an entity or spiritual principality.
SO defeating a foe called SIN for the whole world makes since.
Imagine it being like an oppressive force that was influencing us and Jesus removed it.
Still being born with a dead spirit though and en-grained in our dead spirit the habits designs etc of a sin nature.
We can have our flesh or personal sins.
Not to be forgiven or re-forgiven as some suppose.
But upon accepting the born again Spirit, we get total release from the remnants of the SIN power that Jesus defeated.
Until that same power is removed in us by accepting Christ and the NEW man.
We will experience the old man personal sins only
I can tell you from my own personal Religious experience that even after my glorious salvation experience, I chose to attach myself to an organization that was severely law based in terms of doctrine. One of their teachings was sanctification. But it was taught as something that could only be accomplished after the born again experience and that the OLD MAN if you will, had to be totally eradicated in order for sanctification to be experienced. Now I know I have some of you scratching your heads, and understandably so. Because if my old man was suppose to be eradicated, why do i occasionally fall on my sinful face? And God forbid if that happens, then its back to the altar for another dose of Old Man surgery! and on and on. It can be an religious endless cycle. Oh! BTW the reason for this eradication is to be eligible for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which the belief was that HE cannot dwell in an UNCLEAN temple. i won’t even elaborate on that, i’m sure many here understand otherwise. Nevertheless, these teachings can have tormenting consequences, to which i experienced for 30 plus years, I hold no grudges to the org. nor its m,embers, They are truly born again love the Lord but just biblically misguided. But it’s not my place to judge, The Lord will do his work in due time. Mine is to rest and receive!
Thanks so much for a no compromise Grace message to renew my mind. To find a believer as passionate about all grace-no law message is always such a godsend for me, as it reminds me of what I glimpsed on the day that He saved me and gave me a new heart!
But, right now I am in a confusing situation. I took grace so far that I forgot about any Christian doctrine and I investigated the cream of the crop of Buddhism, Hinduism and other nondual philosophies. I told myself that I was an agnostic (because surely if Grace is true, then God wouldn’t even require us to believe in Him, or to a greater extreme believe that He is even there to begin with?). This made sense to me. Paul describes the immeasurable riches in Christ.
Right now I am having a bit of a scare. I got ill and I started to believe in Christ again for healing of my mind and body. Now I’m caught between two worlds, going back to a strict “gospel based” mindset of following Jesus and the gospel of Grace, or would “God” (who I then wouldn’t have to believe in due to unending Grace) be alright with me pursuing truth beyond any form of religion or dogma, as an agnostic, as I have been? Is agnosticism Ok? Does Grace restrict me from it?
If you believe in the gospel of God’s grace, why are you wasting time running after manmade religions? Why are you following mere men when grace and truth comes through Jesus Christ? You are mistaken in thinking that faith is unimportant, for grace comes to us through faith alone. God’s grace is true whether you believe it or not, but it won’t do you any good unless you believe it.
It seems to me you forgotten your first love. I encourage you to be renewed in the Spirit of your mind, put on the new, and get rid of religious falsehoods. Ask the Lord to reveal his LOVE afresh to you and abide in it. Never leave it. Jesus is a Person, not a doctrine.
Thank you so much for this.
I will agree with you that Grace is life and anything else is not life. What other religions and philosophical approaches try to do is reason beyond what is reasonable. I personally believe that the mind is not eternal, but is limited, and it will perish with the rest of our carnal bodies. I thought about this quote the other day when I realised that I had riddled myself with various Buddhist philosophies, outside of what is reasonable. I thought about this phrase in my mind, “If we have ceased to think and begun to reflect on our thoughts (which is thinking – but we try to somehow delusionally imagine that it is not) then we have already become lost.” The gospel presents us with a choice. Stand on justification or stand on the law.
However, I disagree with your plea for me to “choose” to believe in my first love again, the unconditional Grace of Christ. It’s grace from the beginning and grace, grace, grace till the end. And grace is our victory at the end too. I can’t choose. I can only run the race by grace alone. It is finished 2000 years ago, and so even if I went to Buddhism, grace prevails.
There one of two things going on here. Either you are desperately seeking permission to continue in your idolatry despites the whispers and wooing in the in dwelling Holy Spirit or you are trying to craft a trap for the teachings of grace where you think they either have to sanction your pretended chasing of other religions or admit that the blood of Christ does not cover all. For the first, and I really hope it’s the first, you will not win. I tried to run away from God into other religions and He just will not rest until you are home safe again. 🙂
For the second: Subterfuge and dishonesty are not the hallmark of a good God fearing man. Just ask and debate away but clearly and in the open not using the tactics of the devil to try and prove the points of God. How can one take the higher spiritual ground by sinking low?
The blood does indeed cover all but a true child of God will not be able to seek false gods for long for their true spiritual nature will come out and overwhelm the tricks of the world.
I too wondered if this was a trap. It measures about 700 milliAckbars on the trap probability scale (where 1000 mAck is an obvious trap; 0 mAck is definitely not a trap 😉
The bottom line with opponents of so called: “hyper Grace” IS the sin factor. They are motivated by “Judging after the flesh” Which the Pauline gospels speak against. So when a person speaks against Grace teachings based on sin, That person places themselves in the position of being the “SIN COP”. They know every sin a person commits by thought word and deed. I realize that’s a stretch. But the reasoning is simple. If you cannot read the thoughts of a person, then you cannot judge that person by their actions, because sin is not only a action but a thought. And since we cannot read thoughts, then that disqualifies us to judge ones actions in terms of his or here relationship with the Son.
That’s brilliantly argued and deduced; cheers bro 🙂
Thank you Brother! I just wish I knew that 30 years ago, but thats ok, Gods timing is perfect! Lets just keep this message flowing!
MB should spend his time attacking the real “hyper-grace” teachings, that is, Universal Reconciliation. This is the belief that everyone, including Satan and his fallen angels, will one day (even if it takes billions of years) be saved or reconciled to God. Why? Because His love is irresistible. And His will (God is not willing that any should perish) will surely be accomplished. He’s God after all. As Rob Bell puts it in a nutshell in the title of his book, “Love Wins” [in the end]. These real “hyper-grace” people take God’s grace to the extreme, ignoring His justice and righteousness. Because they believe all will eventually be saved, they also teach that hell is not a real place of eternal torment—God is just too loving to keep anyone there forever. This is the false grace gospel that JP often comes against. He calls it “sick sentimentalism” about God’s love.
I stumbled across another post by Michael Brown today. He is a little more mild in his thoughts on Joseph Prince but he still seems to miss it.
Ahhh, he’s twisted what Joseph said. You know what, all this backbiting between these different pastors reminds me *so much* of these wacky American Presidential election campaigns….. 😉
I actually read MB’s post that Felix (above) referenced out of curiosity, but, sadly, I have to say I don’t find MB to be “milder. ” He’s just espousing the same-o legalism. Naturally, “the serpent is subtle, more than any other creature,” and “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” It is just like the devil to throw in a little compliment here & there, acknowledge agreement over there, but that’s just to hook u. Who would get suckered by a belligerent rant? So u got 2 sweet talk’ em. I know because I was a victim of his book “How Saved Are We?” (Which I have not heard him publicly repudiate–just the title tells u everything) wherein he really spills the beans, even implying that smokers r not saved. Read it to your detriment. U have been warned. It took me YEARS to get over all the bondage & fear. It almost makes me tremble thinking about it & shudder when I see MB’S picture. Don’t walk. RUN, RUN, RUN when u see an MB write-up about “grace,” but I do pray God changes him and let’s him know the damage he’s caused.
Also, MB writes, “… it’s important that we turn from sin to be in right relationship with God (something taught throughout the entire New Testament)” and then goes on to say that Joseph’s definition of repentance is wrong.
I know the NT pretty well, and I don’t think it actually says to repent from sin. It says to ‘repent’ for various different reasons, but the repentance *from sin* is absent as far as I know.
Naturally I am open to correction on this!
This is an old chestnut. Under the old covenant, repentance is defined as turning from sin, but in the new is turning from dead works to Jesus. It’s a subtle but significant difference. More here.
Brilliant, that’s what i thought. Thanks, Paul.
Thank you for that truth in walking out what is done for us to work through us, not us, rather Father in Spirit and truth through us
And he seems to use the old style definition of “Repentance” vs the much simpler “change direction” “change your mind” etc. He includes that tidbit in his article. This can make a huge difference in ones thinking on the matter.
How can there be anything but grace? The common grace of the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the blue ball called earth that floats in mid air, the suns warmth and on and on! Then there is our Holy God declaring us self centered, prideful sinners righteous, forgiving all our sins forever and then telling us there is no condemnation for us! Wow, what a gracious God we serve to Him be the glory! That is why the reformers gave us the 5 sola’s, only grace, only scripture, only Christ, only faith, only God’s glory!
Glory to our Daddy God…the true Father to all..He done all things to secure us in His superabounding Love…
Hey! I’ve been following your posts from time to time and I believe in the allsufficient grace of God. At least I think I used to. The problem is that when I’m not in school during the academic year I’m barely in contact with like minded people. At home, at every corner is a legalistic teaching which really gets to me. Even when I try to read books by good teachers I encounter teachers that make me doubt my beliefs. I really need your assistance with coming up with study/Bible reading plans and materials so I won’t get stuck
There are hundreds of articles and 50+ book reviews here on E2R and a community of like-minded people on our various social media pages. That ought to keep you busy for a while.
Thanks. I’ll look into them
Appreciate your newsletters and insights, as well as your scripture index. A great help.
Just asking, have you ever studied and published on Ezek 18? I’ve hears some one quote verses on theses that you can loose your eternal salvation.
Would love to hear from you.
Be abundantly blessed
Who is Ezekiel 18 talking to? In which covenant did God speak this? The answer to both of those questions erases the application of losing salvation. Plus in the new covenant of Jesus blood we are not righteous because we act righteous. We are righteous through our faith. (Romans 4)