Posted Nov 29, 2018 by Michael L. Brown

Although the hyper-grace movement is not quite the rapidly spreading fad it was a few years back, it continues to entrench itself into the hearts and minds of millions. That’s why, to this day, I get requests from leaders in America and abroad to come and address this aberrant teaching. And that’s why my book on the subject continues to be translated into different languages. The need remains acute.

To be clear, there are many wonderful truths presented by hyper-grace teachers, who are our brothers and sisters in the Lord. They are life-giving truths. Jesus-centered truths. Transformative truths. To each of these truths, I give my hearty “Amen.”

But these truths are mixed with dangerous, even deadly. errors.

Recently, a colleague forwarded me an email with hyper-grace teaching, asking how he should respond. He, in turn, had received the email from a friend who was quite enthusiastic about the content. Yet the content was clearly in error, making two main points.

First, the email claimed that God didn’t judge the nation of Israel for its own conduct but rather for the conduct of the High Priest. If the High Priest was righteous, the nation would be blessed. If the High Priest was sinful, the nation would be cursed.

The implication, then, is that God deals with us based on the righteousness of Jesus (our great High Priest) alone, not based on our conduct. As stated in the email, “What the high priest was before God, so was the entire nation before God.”

Second, the email stated that, if we are truly believers in Jesus, God doesn’t see us (and our sin) when He looks at us. Instead, He sees Jesus. Consequently, we are told, “If God sees Jesus perfect, then He sees you perfect.” As a result, “you cannot lose your right standing because Jesus Christ is your High Priest.”

Are these claims true? Certainly not. In fact, whatever truths they contain (pertaining to the finished work of the cross and the Savior’s ongoing work on our behalf) are obscured because of their errors.

To respond, then:

1)  There is not one verse in the entire Old Testament that says that God blessed the people of Israel because the High Priest was righteous (even though the nation was in sin) but then judged them when they were righteous (but the High Priest was in sin). Not one verse.

In contrast, we are told over and again how God judged the people of Israel because of their sin. Just read Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 (the blessings and curses). Where do these chapters say a word about the High Priest? (I agree that we are not under the Sinai Covenant, but remember, the first claim in the email pertained to this covenant.)

 

2) The High Priest made atonement for the people on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement; see Leviticus 16), but if anyone in Israel did not afflict himself that day as prescribed by the law, that person would be cut off from the people. So, the atonement did the person no good unless he did his part.

3) Throughout the New Testament epistles, believers are rebuked for their sin. (Paul wrote like this, as did James and Peter and John and Jude.) Of course God sees us in all our imperfections and doesn’t just see Jesus.

And what does Jesus say in Revelation 2-3? He rebukes those He loves, calling out sin in the church (Rev 3:19). If God only saw Jesus, He would never rebuke and correct us.

Does God see us as accepted because of the cross? As forgiven because of the cross? As His children because of the cross? Absolutely. Does He see Jesus, rather than us, when He looks at us? Of course not.

4) There are many verses in the New Testament that call us to persevere in Jesus, saying that if we do not, we will not be in right standing with God. Just read verses like this: John 15:1-7 (remember, this is addressing branches in the Vine, meaning in Jesus); Col 1:21-23 (note that word “if”); Heb 2:1-4; 3:12-14; 4:1-11.

Again, without a doubt, our righteousness come from Jesus. But if we abandon Him or renounce Him or refuse to obey Him, we forfeit that gift of grace, hence this warning: “Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness-- without it no one will see the Lord. Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many. And make sure that there isn't any immoral or irreverent person like Esau, who sold his birthright in exchange for one meal. For you know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected because he didn't find any opportunity for repentance, though he sought it with tears” (Heb. 12:14-17).

In short, if the teaching in that email was right, these verses would not be in the Bible.

So, let’s continue to exalt God’s grace and swim in the ocean of His grace and glory in the finished work of the cross. But let us not be lulled into a false sense of security based on hyper-grace extremes which mix life-giving truths with deadly error.

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godistruthislove posted a comment · Nov 30, 2018
Dr. Brown, you are overlooking eternal rewards for believers and their obedience and sins. Instead of cutting down the death of Christ and falsely saying His death was not enough to forgive us of our sins forever, you should start teaching the gain and loss of super valuable and precious eternal rewards forever for saved believers. Rewards and being granted the right to rule and reign with Christ is all over almost every page of the Bible. Christ urged us to live for rewards and to rejoice and jump up and down in joy that we can have rewards for obeying and suffering for Christ. (Matthew 5:11-12; 6:19-21; Luke 6:22-23; also see Rev. ch. 2 & 3). Rewards and the eternal loss of rewards is a far better way to motivate people to obey Christ than scaring them with hell fire which means God is a hateful God and only loves us if we obey (similar to the Muslim god, Allah.). Knowing we are saved forever and cannot lose our salvation (once we believe it really is eternal life, and not condition life as you teach) is a great comfort for us to love God also when we mess up and sin. It is called unconditional love, which is what we all want and need since God created us that way. Of course, believers can sin and mess up as you pointed out and God hates and sees our sin when believers mess up. But the consequences are discipline and punishment on earth and loss of rewards in heaven forever and being ashamed at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:19-21). God does plainly and clearly state and teach that once one believes in Jesus they are saved forever with ETERNAL life which never ends and God does look at us as if we are Perfect like Jesus. For you to deny the clear teachings in God's Word on this is very dishonest. You are picking out verses and ignoring others. For example: Hebrews 10:10-14 says we are made HOLY and PERFECT FOREVER so Christ does not have to die for our sins again because one sacrifice death of Jesus forgives all our sins forever. No one can enter heaven with even only one sin ever in their entire lives. So doing good after we sinned does NOT erase that sin. Only our eternal death, or Christ's death for us will pay and cancel our sins. So we cannot be perfect and sinless our entire lives once we have sinned one time. Doing good will not make up for our sins just like if someone did good for 20 years after they murdered someone does not make up for the murder they did before. When caught they will/should get death penalty no matter how much good they did. Same if someone runs a red light or passes a stopped school bus. The judge will not cancel the ticket because the violator tells the judge he did not stop at a school bus stopped but he did stop 25 times after he broke the law or ran the red light. A good judge will not care because the good is what he is supposed to do anyway. He will pay the fine or penalty no matter how much good he did. However, someone could decide to pay the fine for him if it is too much to pay. That is Jesus. Our only way to pay for sins is go to hell forever. Jesus said we are saved forever and will never die or lose salvation: John 11:25,26 - Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 5:24 - I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss [of eternal rewards]; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Deancooper posted a comment · Nov 29, 2018
The hyper-grace view is that God doesn't see your sin, instead He see Jesus. Thus God is always well-pleased with you and your sin doesn't effect anything. The once-saved-always-saved view is that God may see your sin, but your sin doesn't have any effect on your salvation (assuming you were really saved). Dr. Brown's view seems to be that God sees your sin, but your sin won't cause you to lose your salvation, unless you "abandon Him or renounce Him or refuse to obey Him". But why would there need to be any fear of the Lord if losing your salvation requires such blatant rejection of God? I think a better view of this is that we are meant to stay on the path of righteousness, but there are many paths that lead away from that into darkness and sin. If you wander away down the wrong path and fail to listen to the Lord calling you back, then you're in real trouble. The thing is that the paths of darkness we wander down start out gradual, but over time lead us farther and farther away from the light. In my view, God wants us to have the hearts of obedient children, who want to walk in the Light, who have a ear to hear Him calling us back when we go astray, and who truly fear what it would mean to our eternal souls if we wander away from the path He has put us on. Dr. Brown's view basically tells people not to worry too much about going down a wrong path, because you'd have to take a 90 degree turn and blatantly abandon God to lose your salvation. To me, that's as much error as the hyper-grace view. The key here is to consider what it means if you sin just a little. We don't want to say a little sin causes you to lose salvation, so then the alternative seems to be that only a blatant rejection of God is what matters. I disagree. A little sin causes you to start wandering away from the path of righteousness. If you hear His voice, repent and return to Him, you're in obedience and are in His Kingdom. But if you persist, and continue down a path of sin it will lead out of His Kingdom. Fear comes into play because it is God who sets the standards, God who sees exactly what is going on in our hearts, and God who judges if we have left or not. Assurance comes only when we have obedient hearts, seeking to stay in His Kingdom, and listening for His corrections.