8 Signs that a Church Doesn’t Get Grace
A while ago I listed eight signs of a hypergrace church. A hypergrace church preaches the unconditional love of God and the undiluted gospel of grace. A hypergrace church is so focused on Jesus that it begins to look like Jesus, talk like Jesus, and smell like Jesus.
To highlight a positive it helps to accentuate the negative. So how do we get it wrong? What are the signs that a church is missing the grace of God?
Here are eight of them:
1. They are self-conscious
The message you hear is, “You must nail yourself to the cross every day.” So Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t good enough? “You have to cleanse yourself and make yourself holy.” You cannot succeed.
A focus on self and the things you must do to stay saved, get holy, and be blessed, is the number one sign you have missed the grace of God. Self says I will, but the gospel says He will.
Self cannot supply what God freely provides. We don’t need seven keys to success or fourteen steps to sanctification. We need a revelation of Jesus Christ and what he has done for us. Christ is our righteousness and holiness from God.
2. They’re not sure if God likes them
“Sure, he’s a God of love, but he’s also a God of justice. He sends earthquakes and pandemics to punish cities. He takes away your children. He trains you with sickness and scourging, so don’t make him angry.”
What awful lies! What fear and insecurity this graceless teaching has brought to those whom God loves.
See the cross! If God did not spare his own Son, what won’t he do to reveal his love to us? God is not mad at you, he’s mad about you!
3. They speak the faithless language of lack and longing
A sure sign that some have missed grace is they ask Jesus to do what he’s already done. “Oh Lord, come down.” He already did. “Have mercy on us.” Ditto. “Make us holy.” “Come and cleanse us.” “Bind the strong man.” Tick, tick, tick.
Or they beg God to do what he never would do. “Lord, don’t leave us.” He said he wouldn’t. “You give and take away.” No, he doesn’t.
The language of longing is the language of the old covenant. Good news: The wait is over. Christ has come! In him you are home. Everything you need for life and godliness has been provided.
So change your tune and learn the new song of the new creation. It’s a song of praise and thanksgiving (Ps 34:1, Heb 13:15).
4. They are sin conscious
“I’m just a sinner saved by grace.” “Let’s examine ourselves for sin before worshipping.” “Confess your sins to remain in fellowship with the Lord.”
What an insult to the Spirit of grace. If the Holy Spirit chooses to remember your sins no more (Heb 10:17), what business is it of yours to remind him?
An obsession with sin is a hallmark of the old covenant, but it has no place in the new. Behold the Lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world.
When you sin, a graceless church will shovel the shame. “Look at what you did.” They will reach for the stones instead of reaching for the only thing that can empower you to go and sin no more. Hint: it’s grace (Tit 2:11-12).
5. They are law-minded
“The law shows us how to please God.” No it doesn’t.
“The law helps you overcome sin.” Actually, the law helps sin overcome you (Rom 7:9).
“God gives us grace so that we might keep his commands.” No, God gives us grace because he loves us.
As Paul explains in Romans 7, running after the law is committing spiritual adultery. It’s cheating on Jesus. A church that mixes law with grace is lukewarm and nauseating to the Lord.
6. They think grace just is for sinners
“We are saved by grace, but kept by discipline.” Nope. It’s grace from start to finish (Heb 12:2).
Grace is not one aspect of God that must be balanced against his other, less gracious aspects. Grace is everything. You are saved by grace and kept by grace. Grace is for everyone. Period. The end. Amen.
7. They treat people as resources
In a graceless church your value is determined by your behavior. Are you a hard worker? You’ll go far. Are you divorced? Forget about it.
In a graceless church visitors are valued as potential members, while members are valued as potential leaders. And because there are never enough people to fulfill the vision, everyone is busy, busy, busy. When activity replaces fellowship and friendships become task-based, when children are kept out of the way because they get in the way, real life has left the building.
8. They are insecure and anxious
A graceless church is an uncertain church. “Are you saved? Are you sure? Are you doing enough?” Instead of preaching the promises of Jesus, a graceless church promotes the promises of man. And since we can’t keep the promises we make, the result is failure and despair.
A graceless church is attractive to the self-righteous but unappealing to sinners. It is a place the zealots call home but the prodigals avoid. It is a place where the sheep are fleeced and the poor are exploited. It stinks of self-righteousness and it is a terrible advertisement for Jesus.
But here’s the good news: God loves graceless churches.
He loves the mixed-up people inside them and the misguided leaders who run them.
I know this because I was a misguided pastor and this list was my testimony. But God has given me a new and better testimony, a testimony of his grace.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, my friends. (Galatians 6:18)
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Great post, this is my testimony too. This would have been helpful to me as I was beginning to find my way In grace. Even though I experienced all of these, it took me a while to decide I had to leave my church. Why do we insist on beholding our sin instead of beholding the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world?
I definitely feel you on this. Im still technically a member of a huge org. Church that is heavily Law based. I was with them for 25 plus years. Don’t get me wrong, I had alot of good memories, but at the end of the day, I still was relying on my doctrinal obedience to remain in good favor not only with God, but the Church as well. I made alot of friends, but I only been in touch with my immediate Pastor and only a couple of the members since my enlightenment of grace. I’ll be honest in that its not easy seeing them continue to go through their continuing works behavior and i have not discussed this with my pastor since he’s in his 80’s and I just do not feel it’s a good idea to spring all this on him as well as the other older saints in that local church. NOT because of fear, but when you are entrenched with a belief system for so long, I would think it’s spiritually dangerous to throw hot water on a frozen windshield. I just assume to see them in heaven and enjoy our eternal time together.
May we see the day when our old friends are set free from their bondage. Grace and peace, brother.
I LLLLOOOOVVVVVVEEEEEE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AMEN AND AGAIN I SAY AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Loved this. Grateful for your insight and teaching!
I love this and it is actually the truth!
Thank you for your insight. I appreciate your your explanations.
Thank you so much, Paul! This is going to be printed out and read often, bookmarked and sent to others!! Amen and Amen!
Point 6, If we are saved by grace and kept by grace, then what is faith for? we are saved by grace, true, but its ,actually through faith Ephesians 2:8.. Thats why Colossians 1:22,23 say’s; “… he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him, ‘provided’ that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel which you heard,…”
So, according to Paul of the Bible, it is the use of a bit of “discipline” !
The NLT say’s it this way; “But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.”
Faith is belief and belief is trust as Ephesians 1:13 tells clearly. What good is coming to faith if one does not continue in it.
The only way any and all promise of God are received, is by Faith.
It’s not a choice between grace or faith.
We are saved by grace, through faith that we receive by hearing the truth (gospel). It doesn’t say we receive grace at that time, as grace is (was) there “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men…”. But faith, now there is something that only comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (truth), as in, “In him you also trusted ‘after’ you heard the word of truth…” Ephesians 1:13. We can not chose grace, as it was given to all the world John 3:16, but faith is the substance that hopes for that grace. Other wise, the whole world would be saved, and we know that’s not, nor ever will be, the case. The grace to save every one is certainly here.
No, as you well said in point 3, “some have missed grace”. How? By lack of faith. Grace never went anywhere nor will it, its only we have not done Colossians 1:23. Continuing in the assurance (grace) we received by faith.
Tom Howard – It is interesting, folks of all stripes are often reticent to answer questions when clearly by the symbol used, the person asking is not using punctuation simply for it’s own sake.
You provided an equally interesting point when showing the implicit scriptural language which uses a caveat (stipulation/condition) to the issue of personal responsibility of “what does faith really look like” to God?
There are so many verses that state “caveat” (i.e. Matt 7: 21-23 or James 2:14-26) yet, we as a people will not see it as something to be attended to. All the verses that point to the words “if you…” are so often not understood [Prov 1, 2, 3, 4]. Discipleship & one-anothering; our time is not easily offered today – as was once with the first true Followers of our Master who were esteemed by outsiders in Jerusalem, but none of those same would go closer than their words of esteem. Yes, God sustains our faith (trust) in Him through Grace, but that Grace is not our responsibility – it’s His__ Without faith, Grace is alone only Grace, never appropriated.
Thanks for your post
Yes, one must appropriate it, procure it, by faith. We chose grace (consisting in and of salvation) through faith. Hebrews 4:2, ” For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with ‘faith’ in them that heard it.”
Yes Faith – but not Faith in ourselves, faith in Him – the work is finished
I was not saying have “Faith in ourselves, …” but faith in Him. True, “ the work is finished”. I was just responding to Paul saying; “It’s not a choice between grace or faith.”. Don’t know what he means, but faith is not grace and grace is not faith, but one must use faith to have access into this grace in which we stand”, that God has provided. (Romans 5:2). If one does not ‘both’ use faith and continue in faith and “not be moved away”, there will be no holy , and blameless and above reproach presentation in His sight. (Colossians 1:22,23).
I believe if we look at His grace faith comes, but if we look at our faith, it flies away. Even our faith is from Him. Peace & grace to you brother! 🙂
Faith’s only function is to receive what grace offers. —JOHN STOTT
What a simple and beautiful definition of faith. Thanks for sharing it.
Good thought, my only question would “or what?” I God saved me am I now responsible to “keep” the faith? What if Paul was actually saying “remember what Christ has done!” Or you might try to take up the mantle of works (flesh) again. Gal 5:1
Tom Howard, I tend to agree with you on this faith essence and staying in the faith. Lot of scriptures do warn about falling away from the faith.
Yes, there is that, as we see all around us those leaving the faith. I just spoke to one man yesterday who was raised in the church yet has doubts and is now a committed Buddhist. He has a great spirit about him, every attentive to what I shared, even said he was not sure about some things. I think he fits the bill of being just opposite of being, “grounded and settled” Colossians 1:23. But still don’t understand the verse just before, where He said Christ reconciled us in his body “to present us holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.” The only thing I can figure is, Paul here is not speaking of salvation, but how we finish the race set before us, rewards! As, sad to say, there are Christians that are unholy, blameable and reprovable. Yet Paul (or whoever the mystery writer) said; “But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation,” Hebrews 6:9
well said paul
This is very helpful information. Thank you!
I really appreciate the hope and assurance you gave us in the last paragraph. It surprised me, but it shouldn’t have after all that is His glorious victorious grace!
You have succinctly given 8 of the 9 reasons I don’t go to church. I haven’t been able to do that. Thank you.
Hey Bart, I understand where you’re coming from. But…. every church has issues and not being a part of any Christian church community is a bigger issue than any of the 8 issues listed in this post. God would not have his people floating out in the world without a church family, pray for HIm to guide you to the church you should be a part of and go there. God bless man.
I understand that you are coming at this with good intentions. There is no command or directive in the NT to go to church, especially since the concept of church in the 1st century is nothing like the church today. Using one verse from Hebrews does not a doctrine make. The OT commands to Israel concerning community, worship, sacrifice, etc. were fulfilled in Christ. And when the curtain was torn asunder, I love that word ‘asunder’, in the temple we now have individual, personal access the Father and the Throne. I do not need a church to keep me closer to God.
In my post I said that this article gave 8 of the 9 reasons I don’t go to church. Number 9 is actually the biggest reason. Pastoral abuse. From three different pastors in two different churches. One of them was an assistant pastor, and when confronted by others for his abusive actions agreed to meet and apologize. The lead pastor said he would attend but did not. I know he was in the building, he just chickened out.
The other two were from the Calvary Chapel system and what they did to me and my family is the biggest wound in our lives. And my wife and I have lost two children at birth. Those pastors have never contacted us, even though they were required to repent and seek forgiveness from all the others they abused at that church. Today both are still pastors and one is even in a big leadership position at one of the biggest Calvary Chapels in the nation.
I cannot walk into any church now without constantly looking over my shoulder, wondering who’s watching and listening to me. Church became a great source of anxiety and panic.
I am content with where I am at. I am not anti-church, and I have told God that when its time for me to go to church, He will show me where.
Hello i misunderstood the law of moses and have anxiety disorder so i though had to keep some not just ten commandments and is not that wanted to convert to judaism or go back to law but was trying to understand law of moses and i worry i may have nullified grace but i believe that Jesus saves us not works or law 😦 it was never my intention to do opposite to gift of grace i haven’t that long come to Jesus and asked him to be my Lord and saviour just trying to understand it all
Hey, Bart! I was saved at Calvary Chapel the first night I attended there. So as a newbie , I thought they were right about everything. But , I went through a hell-like experience on earth because they preach a mixed message of grace and works. Of course, they will dispute that–but you and I aren’t the only ones that have negative experiences with them. They are right on many issues , but it wasn’t until God directed me to Paul’s site that I truly understood why I was always in such spiritual turmoil. Chuck Smith said that if you live by the Spirit, you will not sin. Believing him, and because I still sinned after coming to Christ, I began to doubt my salvation –thinking I never had it or had lost it. Around 2009, God started showing me through Scripture aha! moments about grace. But it was on October 24th 2015 that I felt like I had been born again again after landing on the Escape to Reality site.
Like you, I don’t attend a local church now. To my knowledge there aren’t any grace preaching churches where I now live. I do watch Andy Stanley services. I think he has a grasp on grace , but I continue to feast on Paul’s site. Can’t get enough : )
Don, I understand completely where you are coming from. My path to a fuller understanding of grace was a bit longer. I guess because I had put so much of my identity in what I had learned through the CC system it was hard to let go. We tried a CC again about two years ago and it just never felt right. I couldn’t put my finger on it until I realized what my frustration (and my wife’s too, when we discussed this) with church was. Every time I left church I felt like I had not done enough that week. I didn’t give enough, pray enough, study the Word enough, serve enough, evangelize enough, you name it. You work hard all week, do your best to be a good husband and father, pay the bills, mow the yard, all the things it takes to be married and have a family; and then you get to church on Sunday looking for a hour or so of community with God’s people and hopefully some words of encouragement from the pastor only to be told I hadn’t done enough.
And this isn’t just with CC. Most evangelical churches preach the same thing.
I have a good friend in Bellingham, WA that planted a church call Bread and Wine Fellowship. Jim McNeely opened my eyes to grace. He has published a couple of books on grace and has a blog you may enjoy: thereforenow.com
Peach to you
Donbeeson, have you checked out the cyber church at Impact Ministries (Jim Richards)? I haven’t yet but I am impressed with Jim Richards and Andrew Wommack. Very good handles on grace as our beloved Saint Paul.
Warren (South Carolina, USA)
I just ran a quick diagnostic of the church I attend and I realise that it falls short on so many of these things. The leadership seems fixated on doing and serving and the worship team has a mixed message. I am often very frustrated mostly because they are lovely wonderful people.
Wow, #7 was our modus operandi for years and that last sentence was the exact progression! Jesus open our eyes to the bewitching,
Great post, Paul. You really covered all the bases. Point 4 about examining oneself for sin was something regularly encouraged in one of my previous churches. Just before communion, we had to solemnly bow our heads and “examine” ourselves to determine if we were “worthy” to partake of the sacraments. I knew I wasn’t and most of the time thought it was probably best for me to sit it out rather than provoke God to wrath by taking my unholy presence to the communion line. I felt like my sin was oozing out of my pores and was probably evident to everyone, anyway. Who did I think I was kidding? Also, when growing up Catholic, the priest would actually bypass one of my Mom’s girlfriends, Yolanda, while her hands were outstretched to receive the wafer. So humiliating for her! Mom explained that it was because of Yolanda’s male roommate, with whom the priest believed she was living in sin. Very distressing because Yolanda was like an aunt to me, and here the church was just heaping all this shame.
Awesome. I will definately spread the Good News and it will start in our fellowship.
Concise, but thorough. Cuts to the heart of the matter. One of your best.
Thanks am learning
Wow! Extremely well articulated! What a great synopsis on Graceless ministry. I have seen many ministries online and their focus is always on “preaching the truth”, which is nicely coded euphemism for preach hard on sin, and how people better get right, and quit that sinning. So many focus on the commitment level of the people and how much they miss it and forfeit reminding God’s people of their true identity in Christ.
It’s Jesus plus nothing, His Grace that sees us through from beginning to end!
I didn’t like this posting, it was too negative. I know that you said to show the positive you sometimes need accentuate the negative, but this was too negative.
I think this response is more negative than the article. Just sayin.
Fabulous!!!! Powerful!!! Thank you for staying TRUE to the Real Gospel!!!
When I started reading your posts about 2 years ago, I was in a church like this. I was tired and worn out (more in my mind and soul) from the graceless behavior and treatment of the church. I finally got courageous and LEFT! I’m now at a church that shows a lot more grace. It’s not an abounding grace church, but it’s 100% better than where I was going!!
Thanks Paul many of my Christian friends need to hear the truth of God’s amazing grace!
I agree with corwinschol. This sounds like “We’ve got it right over here, look at “them” they have it so wrong and let me list all the ways so you can spot those folks.” In each numbered item when you say “they” those are your brothers and sisters, you realize that right? There’s a way to do what you’re trying to do that is not so offensive to your own.
One way to perceive if you personally are operating under law instead of grace is to become offended by what you read…grace acknowledges what a person says understanding that person may be wrong (but you don’t have to agree with it). BTW, Paul is not wrong in this case and sometimes people must see how angry they get at receiving strong words in order to perceive how incorrect their thinking is. Jesus did that when talking to the “brood of vipers”.
My thoughts exactly. I’ve been following E2R for a while now, have read through most of the archives and have not once had the impression that the motive is about us and them. Rather about proclaiming truth about the Gospel and Grace.
If you find this post so offensive I’m sure you feel the same way about Matthew 23?
Being PC and “loving”, not offending anyone thereby negating Truth does not do anybody any favour.
Agreed. That feeling of offense or anger is a hard pill to swallow but serves as a powerful opportunity to get free, firmer in your foundation of truth.
I feel an explosion here. This is awesome. As usual. Thanks Paul.
Paul, this is one of those posts that had me laugh-crying with giddy joy. You totally nailed the whole “highlighting a positive by accentuating the negative” thing because all I saw in reading was Jesus, our faithful true King. Thank you so much for the dose of encouragement!
Thank you so much for these words of wisdom and for including the statement that we love graceless churches and the people in them. It took us over 23 years to find a church that preaches the Gospel of Grace, but we still love those folks we’ve met and befriended at many churches along our journey.
That’s awesome Michael, I truly mean that!!
Congratulations on finding one!!
Cherish it and support it, It’s a rare find!!
It seems to be difficult for us humans to receive grace – we are happier doing, earning, scoring a goal, being marked with an A or a B – Grace doesnt do that – we are all equal – you cant earn it
I do have to wonder which is the better choice as I raise my children: that they be in a mixed covenant church or no church at all. We haven’t been able to find a new covenant church up to this point and are so protective of the message our kids are hearing that we have just not been attending. I recognize the value of the church and what God intended it to be for us and us for it, but is it worth the cost of our children growing up hearing graceless doctrine?
That is a tough question, Hannah. In our city the grace churches are small and not resourced to provide children’s programs, while the churches that have great programs tend to put price tags on the love of God. We tend to swing between two activities; (1) take the kids to church and have them do their own thing during a service that is way over their heads, and (2) do church at home with a child-focused songs and Bible teaching. Neither is ideal, but at least we have a choice. Many towns don’t have grace churches. I’ve been searching for some good kid-focused grace-based programs online or on TV but so far have come up with zilch.
Thanks for your response. My husband has been so good at holding my feet to the grace fire when I would just go back to church so I feel like I’m doing the “right thing” by my children. Religion is sneaky! We have been doing the at home church as much as anything.
I was genuinely surprised to read this, Paul! I think I missed some pieces throughout the various articles I’ve read on E2R and thought you still pastored a brick-and-mortar fellowship. My husband and I have a small daughter and are in the exact same boat. We have entertained the idea of starting our own homegroup, but haven’t had that “tug” to get cracking yet.
Hannah, as a 60+ aged mother/grandmother, can I tell you about my experience re mixed covenant churches? I religiously took our three children to church every Sunday, in their younger years it was to a mainline church, and in their teens it was a pentecostal one. But now, I so regret taking my children to church at all! Sin consciousness and behaviour modification were hot topics each week, and serving God with ALL your heart, prove it!.. was strongly encouraged. Over zealous Pastors and youth group leaders took advantage of sensitive young hearts, and I know they meant well, but they damaged some of the young folk. I did not know about radical grace then, and do not blame the leaders, they did what they thought was right and good. Unfortunately it caused some serious harm to both myself, ..why did I take them there?!… and our children. I believe Father will heal us and trust Him, but think it would have been better to spend the time having fun as a family, and …children grow so quickly, enjoy them, tell them they have a great God….and about His amazing grace, and how He big loves them no matter what. For what it’s worth…blessings.
Thank you for that, Leanne.
Thank you for sharing. As a husband and father of three little ones I struggle with how to raise my children and lead my family. First I don’t see a clear paradigm for husband led families. I’ve heard for years husbands are responsible for the spiritual health of their families and i don’t know where this comes from in scripture. what does it mean to be the head? What if my wife isn’t much into church or worship lately? do I practically drag her to church with our kids? do I go without her? do I prod and prod and prod until I figure out why so I can ‘fix’ her? Do I just enjoy family time and give her what she’s asking for? The thought of her going to a church reluctantly only to hear a mixed-covenant message makes me wonder if not going at all is the better choice. But then she’d feel disconnected and have fellowship with other believers even less.
Thank you so much for this thoughtful response, Leanne. It brings tears to my eyes because I get it. I grew up in that kind of church and am still, after years of grace, allowing Holy Spirit to dig up roots of religion. It’s simply difficult to walk forward in raising my children out of church, never having seen the end result of a Godly family who has done that. But that’s what faith is, right? Trusting what I cannot see. 🙂
I’m surprised how many churches really don’t get grace or only kinda get it in part. I just moved to a new city with tons of churches but have only noticed one that seems to be preaching radical grace.
Has it always been like this or are churches becoming more religious?
Thank you for sharing Paul. These comments are thought provoking as well. About 3.5 years ago my family and I started attending a church that was only 2 years old. I related to the pastor and as a new church they were explaining everything about why the did what they did as a church and why they believed what they believed. At the time I was asking myself about everything in life including church world “is that the Biblical model? why do we do it that way” so this was very appealing to me. Over time I heard a few messages I actually disagreed on doctrinally about topics that were very important to me and eventually heard some messages I thought were dangerous to preach. But I know the pastor loves Jesus as well as the staff so I decided to trust Jesus’ faithfulness instead of leave.
I heard a statement from Todd White and Dan Mohler the past few years that has stuck with me. “If you think your church is too dark and not loving enough, then you should realize it shouldn’t be…because you’re there!” I realized I needed to stop going to church to get fed by others and instead go to church to worship with others and to love others and shine brightly. I don’t need a good message anymore to feel good and feel right with God. If the pastor hits the nail on the head, awesome. If he or someone else misses the mark it won’t change who I am. I’m there to love others well. Now I look forward to the people more than the preaching. It has freed me from the stress of trying to find the right church.
I wish we were more about grace than how dead we are (I mean were) in our sins. I recognize parts of your list in our church. But I will strive until called otherwise, to help insert grace as I go about my walk with them and hope that the light inside me will shine brightly letting other lights turn on too. Then combined we will light up a whole city and region.
Your decision to, “help insert grace as I go about my walk with them”, is a good one. As this is what Church is. It is a place were we, as the body of Christ, become sanctified and grow in grace. You are there by divine appointment, placed in that part of the body for this reason, “Till we all come in the unity of the “faith”, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” Ephesians 4:13.
Contrary to some oppion, this faith, the key element of grace, as shown in this verse; “By whom also we have ‘access by faith’ into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” Romans 5:2. As we are saved by grace, through faith.
Thus knowing it part and parcel of the “whole council of God” in which to consider, when speaking of the church which ‘’exist’’ by said , faith.
Guess what I am saying is, that if a church has faith, look for the “accessed” grace!
As a new Christian I was so hungry for knowledge about the kingdom of God. I went to church to meet with God and He met me every time. I was involved in so many things and was so accepted by the congregation. But this all changed when I started getting revelation of healing and other things that weren’t in church doctrine. I got a real taste of false control. My baby granddaughter was molested by an elder of that church and when we reported it we were told not to discuss it with anyone or even ask for prayer. When I told my best friend she said, Oh well, we are all a circle of sinners.” We were called to a board where they tried to blame everyone but the culprit and their major concern was what would happen to the church’s tithing and it’s reputation. Our best friends turned against us and wouldn’t comfort my daughter in any way. She left the body of Christ and has never dawned the doors of a church again. When the Lord moved me on to a new church, that pastor wrote a letter telling the new pastor that I was a church wrecker. What I am getting at is people get so brainwashed by loyalty to a church that they downplay the horrendous pain that some suffer in churches. I totally get why people don’t want to go to church.
Oh man. That’s horrible.
Thank you for saying that Paul. A lot of people just say, “You have to forgive.” We did forgive, but the damage that was done has taken years to heal. Romans 12:15 has become my rule of thumb: Laugh with those who are laughing and CRY with those who are crying.
I am trying not to make this too long! I can relate to a few of them. NYC has had the Gospel of grace for close to 40 years so some of it I only hear second hand from others who have been though it. But the ones I can relate to are-
“They treat people as resources” and
“They are insecure and anxious” thee are people I love still caught up in that and even think I backslid because I love Joseph Prince.
So I am grateful to have a revelation of grace and not proud to have it but grateful because I know it comes by revelation!
I don’t know what they believe at my church, but I’ve only been going there for 29 years.
Are you the pastor? 🙂
No. I’ve never even joined. I just attend. Habit.
Thanks for making me smile 🙂
Hahahaha. Good on ya, mate😁
I’m pretty sure James said to confess your sins to one another so you can be healed 🤔 Also we are being renewed … It’s not just Gods Grace and that’s it – he is transforming us daily, the renewing of our minds etc. You say we have grace yes we have Grace coz we all deserve to go to hell !!! grace comes through faith and the working of faith brings about good works. Faith without works is dead. You might have Gods Grace but you can still be dead in your faith coz we are not meant to sit around do nothing with the grace we have been given !! What I’m trying to say is I have no confidence in my flesh because I know by the Grace of God he had ordained me as it says in Ephesians and did not leave me dead in my sin. Now I am alive to Christ through faith the evidence of my conversion is works. your either being renewed by the Holy Spirit or you ain’t. When you sin it’s the law that reminds you of Christ it brings you back to him because it tells me I’ve broken it and there is nothing I can do to redeem myself. Christ is my only hope of salvation. Christ is my only hope of love. Christ is my only hope of mercy. Christ is my only hope of anything …
Then what you’re saying is that we are still required to do stuff to keep our salvation alive. Like good ‘Christian’ stuff. Which means God’s grace is nullified COZ as you put it we still have to work for our salvation.
Awesome heart pounding message of reality
How does this comment relate to the article?
Paul, as I continue to think and pray about the difference between the hyper-grace movement and the legalistic side of Christianity, I find myself returning to your blog. This one raises a ton of questions, but I will spare you listing out all of them. However, one that I did want to ask is this: Are you aware that this list comes across as condemning law? For example, your first point: “They are self-conscious” can be interpreted as a command: “Don’t be self-conscious.” So if I am breaking this law and falling into a state of being self-conscious, then I am not pleasing God because I am not appropriating his grace properly into my thinking (I am being graceless)…
As someone who believes in the “third use of the law,” I feel targeted and condemned by your article and by the laws you have set forth. But isn’t this exactly the position that the HG movement is trying to fight against?… I apologize for commenting again. I do not want to be a troll or whatever. And I won’t say any more unless invited. I truly appreciate all of your thoughtful work and passion for grace in Christ.
Haha – there is no condemnation in Christ or here on E2R. These are not laws you must keep to please the Lord. “All things are lawful,” so you are free to be self-conscious or sin-conscious or anxious if you wish. However, I don’t recommend it. I exhort you to fix your eyes on Christ instead of yourself. I encourage you to be more conscious of his righteousness than your sin.
As for the third use of the law (“it teaches us what is pleasing to God”), I strongly reject this as a subtle form of bondage. The scriptures declare that faith pleases the Lord and the law is not of faith (Gal 3:12). Studying the law is no replacement for a living relationship with Jesus. Walk by faith rather than sight.
Have the freedom to comment as much as you like – I encourage you to do so! But please note that I generally don’t get to reply to most comments and long comments usually don’t get published. Be blessed.
I love how we are not treated like experiments under grace. No one is playing doctrinal policeman. But in case it does happen out here, I’m glad we’re not asked to receive anything but grace. Unconditional love from our heavenly Papa is one great and big idea.
Paul, I was not aware that some grace teachings might be promoting this. I started reading stuff about passive-aggressive behavior and honorable relationships. It’s a topic you promote a bit here, but I felt after reading that book like I was on ice and I couldn’t control myself. I thought it was God “convicting” me. It’s hard to move past language like that unless you are taught to be fearless. I understand that God is not soft but I feel like I’m being shamed and blamed. Grace + law = law. I will not be enslaved again.
Roshan I am so glad you are coming into the understanding of true Grace! There is no condemnation in Jesus, no guilt and no shame. When these thoughts come to you, they are from Satan, the enemy of your soul. You can put these thoughts away by rebuking the devil in the Name of Jesus and then quoting scripture that applies to your situation. Walking in the grace of God is so liberating and gives you the chance to experience a loving Father, not one who is out to get you. We are loved and He will never desert us in our time of need. He is with us always, cheering us on to victory. Jesus said He is ever interceding for us, praying that our faith will not fail us. Faith is simply believing that what God says is true!
Persecution sucks. thankfully the cross was one man dying for all.
Sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking. I was trying to see everything I’ve learned here to come into agreement. Of course there will be persecution. I will preach the promises of Jesus however.
I think I meant to say there may be persecution, but God will build his church.
Grace, and the people associated with spreading it i.e. You, have given me the reason for my positive change in my loving outlook. A short history to a complicated one: raised Mormon, kind of; my adult life was as a secular Christian, my maternal grandmother was Jewish, in my 60’s I converted to United Methodist, then I converted as a Reform Jew, my DNA says I am half Irish and half Jewish, but I did not find “Grace” until now. One of the things that brought me to your books, was the question I had concerning Jews who became followers of Jesus. The testimonies I read, most of them, came to one thing that they were lacking, acceptance of Sin through Grace. I find that it is the answer for me. I am just a newbie, at 70 years, but, in my heart Grace is the answer, which was given to us through Jesus. I accept, and thank you.
So great to hear you have found the “grace of God that brings salvation” (Titus 2:11) I know that just being delivered from Mormonism was a miracle! You mentioned that the Jewish believers testimonies were lacking in “acceptance of Sin through Grace”? I am sure you meant, lacking in “acceptance of grace through faith”!
You know Mormons and Jews are very similar in their beliefs! My brother is still in Mormonism. I Pray for him, that he will see the grace of God that brings salvation! Thanks
I’ll be praying for him.
Oh I totally feel churches like these. I don’t necessarily mean mine just the general Christian evangelic community. Every time I bring up that I am egalitarian and believe in equality between the genders at home and at church people start hurling insults my way, saying I’m not saved and that I am in rebellion to God’s word and ‘omg look at her heresy she can’t be a Christian’. It’s really demeaning and sad and really had in the past started to drive me away from the Gospel…
When I was getting revelation of many if these things, I experienced a lot of criticism. The Holy Spirit led me to the following Scripture; I hope it will give you comfort too: (Colossians 2:8)TLB “Don’t let others spoil your faith and joy with their philosophies, their wrong and shallow answers built on man’s ideas, instead of what Christ has said.”
Thank you! I will write down that verse. 🙂 Hope you are doing well.
Paul. Thanks for this great post. Am really blessed. Am trying to understand this scripture 1 Tim 3:5-6 – (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?). Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. And No. 7 – They see people as resources i.e visitors or converts as potential members and members as potential leaders. Can you kindly help me throw more light in that area (The difference between No. 7 mentioned above and 1 Tim. 3:5-6. Thank you so much…
For the first question, Paul talks about important traits of church leaders in 1 Timothy 3. In particular, a good leader must have good experience (1 Timothy 3:5-6) since church leaders have a big role. With that said, we can’t be perfect at everything, but we need to remember that leading a church is a big responsibility that requires a lot of skill.
For the second question, consider the church of Acts 2:42-47. They focused on compassion and fellowship more than manipulation, and more people got saved. The members “gave to anyone as he had need”, implying that non-members were also impacted by the church. The BIG picture is Jesus and his love — membership is not everything. If a church event led to no new members yet hundreds accepted Jesus and hundreds more realize that they are loved, it fulfilled Jesus’s call.
One final note — Paul uses a family analogy in 1 Timothy. Notice that most immediate families do not have a ton of people. Good leadership is based on quality and not necessarily quantity.
Grace is not just some wishy washy form of acceptance of us by God! Grace is God’s love and acceptance of His children in all their imperfection. Grace is the perfect picture of God’s UNCONDITIONAL LOVE! Grace is not based on our performance. Grace is not conditional. God has bestowed upon us all of His attributes and His abilities. He has given us His power and authority in the Name of Jesus to take dominion over this world. He BELIEVES IN US. Our part is to BELIEVE IN HIM! Faith is simply believing that what God says is true and then acting on it. He did everything He could do for mankind on the cross. Now we need to apply the promises in His word to our situations and declare them over our lives. Let God be true and every man a liar. God’s supernatural ways are foolishness to man and that is why we must renew our minds to His way of thinking !
How does this fit with those who don’t get enough to eat?
Well I know Jesus. But what about this fasting or starvation.
It’s then bride of Christ you’re smashing here… I’d be careful with that. I’d say sorry and start trying to heal, build up or encourage “the church” whatever that means in your vocabulary instead of accusing, questioning, poking holes and bringing contention/ division to the people of God.
Graceless churches have been hurting people for centuries. Whether intentionally or not, they have traded in anxiety and fear and the result is bondage and self-righteousness. By putting price tags on the grace of God, they have prostituted the love of God. They keep people out of the kingdom and enslave those who are in it.
And you think a healthy response is to stay silent?!
Right on , Paul. It’s Don in Tucson. It will soon be 2 1/2 years since your writings and thoughts rescued me from graceless living and churches. I’m finally seeing that it’s only when we can begin grasping how deep , how wide , how unfathomable His love is for us that we can really trust Him with our lives. When Adam and Eve stopped trusting Him that’s when sin entered the world and we began listening to a different alien , voice. As Andrew Farley says, Christianity is not a behavior modification program. Only love can truly conquer and woo our hearts. He has done everything He ( the Father ) can to bring us to that realization but we keep thinking we need to earn that love.
Good to hear from you, Don. Great comment!
I don’t know who you are talking about here- I find it easier to challenge the people in the room that I know and pray for those outside of it who I don’t know. If I have friends on other churches who are struggling with leadership decisions or perceived church culture I’ll pray it through with them.
It may be helpful to post about the many times we are called to unity, forgiving one another, forbearance, loving kindness, treating each as a brother or sister. The outrageous and crazy love of God can’t mean I’m separating from others and pointing the finger on blog posts, surely if I’m filled with grace I will be more infectious!! We need to teach people how to infect with holiness like Jesus and the leper. The man had leprosy but Jesus had a holiness which was more infectious! I am 100% aware of the pain of poor leadership- but you aren’t writing about leaders- you are talking about the “church” – maybe I’m just missing what you mean by “church”…
There are nearly 500 articles on this website on grace, forgiveness and the radical love of God. Sometimes to highlight a positive, it helps to accentuate a negative. I encourage you to reread the last paragraph of the article above.
Paul Ellis is not bringing division to the church. He is revealing truths and knowledge that should have been taught years ago. He is revealing God’s love and Grace in its true light. Whenever truth comes out, religion rears it’s ugly head. Such a shame, but those of us who depend on Holy Spirit to teach us all truth, know that Paul is right on.
Cowley, he is not smashing it, he is merely showing whether one has received the righteousness of God by grace through faith or just have a perceived idea of their own righteousness, void of grace!
As there are those that do not live according to grace.
The deal is, John spoke of it; “Do not be deceived (as these) he that does righteousness (which is the opposite of unrighteousness) is righteous (imagine that), just as he is righteous.” 1 John 3:7. Translated; The one who keeps “doing” what is right proves that he is righteous. So, “If your saved and you know your life will surly show it”, chorus in a children’s song, Matthew 19:14. No, our lives should reflect his, as we are lead (taught, Titus 2) in path’s of righteousness for his name sake, Psalm 23:3, thus the name Christian.
Believing in God is one thing, yet showing that belief is another. How does faith and works mingle? For he that loves not his brother whom he has seen (‘substance’ of things hoped for), how can he love God whom he has not seen (‘evidence’ to prove what is unseen)? 1 John 4:20.
It must have the “substance” enough to love that which we see, thus showing the “evidence” that we love that which we see not! Otherwise, “phony”. For after Paul spoke of “not of works lest anyone boost”, he went on to speak of the works we will walk in, verse 10, all things being copacetic.
Hey, LJP! I don’t post on E2R that much anymore , but I do read Paul’s posts and hie books : ) I really do believe I was born again again that day I first clicked on Paul’s site. Then about a year ago , Paul told me about Andrew Farley. I had never heard of him, but I check out his site and also began listening to his church service from Lubbock , Tx. Not long after that I awakened early one morning and the name Cal Farley came to my mind. I then remembered for the first time in decades that My grandfather financially supported Cal’s Boys Ranch in Amarillo , Tx in the 40s and
50s : ) Talk about how God works , right ?
I chuckled and was so happy at this part of the last paragraph. “He loves the mixed-up people inside them and the misguided leaders who run them. I know this because I was a misguided pastor and this list was my testimony.” Thanks for the openness, honesty and transparency. It really gives hope. Here’s to staying in church and bringing this message to so many believers who need it. With gentleness and respect of coarse.
Truly powerful, thank and amen for this! Worthy is the lamb, not that worthy is the lamb– and me a little, too. Jesus!
How will you know that your not treating one person as a resource at the expense of another. I don’t know if this question is a good one that will lead to a deeper revelation of jesus…
When Paul gave the official definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13, he stated that love “is kind” and “is not self-seeking”. When we love others like Jesus loves us, we are guaranteed to not “use” people at the expense of others.
With that said, listen to the Holy Spirit to ensure that you are “doing it right”. Most importantly, rely on the HS’s power and fix your eyes on Jesus — the HS is the main power that gets us to love.
I want to attend a Grace based Church can anyone tell me which denomination is Grace based.
There is no particular denomination. Rather, grace-based churches are springing up across all denominations. You may want to ask about churches in your area, but don’t ask here. Ask on E2R’s Facebook page.
In the meantime I really encourage you to listen to Creflo Dollar’s teachings on the Covenants. Great grace teaching–like Paul Ellis!
I would suggest you check out Andrew Farley if you live in the U.S. They can direct you tograce based churches depending where you live. Paul is the one who told me about Andrew Farley
: ) I’m a Paul and Andrew junkie 😎