I don’t know if you have seen the messages of the self-proclaimed prophet, John Mulinde. His preaching and testimony have been all over the internet and he travels world spreading the word about what he calls his prophetic message. Giving him his due, he is an engaging and powerful speaker. His delivery is smooth, comforting and riveting. “This man is being heartfelt and deep, I must hear more” you immediately think as he slowly lays out his message. He claims it is one of repentance and a call to prayer. It is presented in the style of a personal testimony complete with a dramatic appearance of Jesus in a vision. Jesus in a vision is what we all wish for, right? I would just love to see Jesus. I am not sure I would want to see John Mulinde’s Jesus though. You see when Jesus appears in his story, it is not to praises and with awe and joy from one of His followers. Rather the story seems to focus on Mulinde, what he did and did not do and how Jesus is mad at him for not working harder. Subtly, the man actually claims that Jesus shows Himself in a vision and yet the story is all about Mulinde. The created speaker is somehow the center of a story about the Creator, Jesus. Huge red flag right there!
According to the multiple tellings of this vision, Jesus appears in order to rebuke the Mulinde for his sin. Mulinde is a Christian at the time of the vision. Jesus is claimed to tell Mulinde that despite believing in Him, if Jesus returned for his church today Mulinde would not be taken to heaven. Why? Because his work was not enough according to Jesus.
When Mulinde tearfully repents in response, Jesus then refuses his repentance. If your skin is crawling right now that is a good sign. The supposed prophet is not done though. He goes even further and says Jesus told him he (Mulinde) can fix it. He just needs to do more works before his repentance will be accepted. That is right, the Savior evidently is reliant upon the sinful creation to make His work of redemption work.
Hushed voice and tears in abundance accompany the tale. It is a vivid and compelling story offered by a talented showman. Mulinde is been drawing people in all over the world in person and through online videos. He may be appearing in a church near you.
There is one major problem with the message though. There are actually a ton of problems, shame and manipulation are the messages of the Enemy but let’s just focus on the biggest, the message is just plain wrong. It is heresy. It defames the name and nature of Jesus the Savior. It steals Jesus glory in the name of focusing on a man. In doing so, it also appears to be a rehashing of the message of the ancient opponents of the Gospel, the Judaizers, in a new and shiny package. It is a message that comes in a shiny package but is filled with poison designed to rob us of the grace that God has for us and the love and gratitude we should be showing Him.
John Mulinde is not alone in his false perversion of the Gospel message. There are many people preaching this version of the gospel out there today and its been a consistent threat to Christians since Jesus walked the Earth. It is compelling to our flesh, yes, emotional, sure, effective in getting people to try harder, sure, but it’s counter to the message of Jesus.
The message of the Bible is pretty simple. In regards to keeping the Law, God says that it is impossible for man on his own to do. The Law is perfect and holy, but man is sinful and will sin no matter how hard we try not to sin. We are fallen and therefore imperfect and can never be good enough for God as a result.
Paul was the picture of this futility as every moment of his life before Christ was about trying to work for God and keep the law. He tried really hard to be perfect and thought he was doing a great job of it. Yet, when Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, his life was exposed as being all about sin. What he thought was good enough to reach God on his own was actually rebellion, coveting and evil doing. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”, Jesus said. Paul tried really hard to be good but failed spectacularly. It turned out he was just trying to get what he, Paul wanted. A few of us can relate to that level of failure, I suspect. It is only Jesus and the Cross that sets us free from this futility through His atoning sacrifice. Not by making us better, we still fall on our faces on a regular basis and need His continual work in our lives through sanctification, but through His blood washing us clean in the eyes of God. That is, though we still sin and will always
It is only Jesus and the Cross that sets us free from this futility through His atoning sacrifice. Not by making us better, we still fall on our faces on a regular basis, but through His blood washing us clean in the eyes of God. That is, though we still sin and will always, when God looks at us He sees the righteousness of Jesus on us. We are seen as righteous not because we actually are righteous, but because of how our great Jesus. He completely paid the price for our sins so God takes His payment on our behalf. It is finished meant our debt was completely paid for us.
Payment for our sins was done forever by the One whose life was given as payment for those sins. Our sins no longer have power over us because Jesus defeated them and the accuser.
Those that would steal from us the grace of God from the beginning have not been happy with this simple answer to the question of sin. Having been offered a way out of the prison of their own sin caused by their own effort by the grace of God, they bind themselves with the chains of legalism. Originally, the Judaizers argued that those who became Christian through the work of God were not truly saved unless they also kept the Law, ignoring the fact that it is impossible to keep the whole Law, Paul addresses this in multiple writings, but Galatians 5 comes to mind.
Originally, this looked like the Judaizers who argued that those who became Christian through the work of God were not truly saved unless they also kept the Law. They ignored the fact that it was impossible for them to keep the Law and tried to put weights on those for whom the Law was never intended, the Gentiles. Paul and Peter put a stop to this in the Book of Acts.
The modern grace-robbers are more subtle but no less dangerous. They usually argue that true salvation is Jesus plus something that depends on our efforts. They take the free, full grace of God and make it contingent and frankly arbitrary. They base it upon some guy’s made up standard set out to define what is good enough for God.
It is like a person being rescued from a shipwreck on the high seas and placed in the middle of an Indiana corn field. That person then began to make swimming motions and decided that whether they were going to drown or not was based on how well they were pretending to swim. The actions of the rescued pretending to save themselves adds nothing to the rescue and detracts from what the actual savior accomplished. It also makes little sense when one understands the context.
Similarly, God’s grace also goes from a free unconditional gift given by a loving Father to His children because He is good, to a prize given to one’s self. The creation dictates to the Creator whether we have met His standard. Honestly, even on our best days when we feel like we are doing a good job for God, how many sins do we overlook? Yet, those who seek to be good enough by works want us to make our righteousness dependent on our actions. Yikes, no thanks. Grace is freely given without anything on our part contributing ….or else it’s not grace.
Honestly, even on our best days when we feel like we are doing a good job for God, how many sins do we overlook? Yet, those who seek to be good enough by works want us to make our righteousness dependent on our actions. Yikes, no thanks. Grace is freely given without anything on our part contributing ….or else it’s not grace.
The worst part about the message of the grace-robbers is that it appeals to all of us to some degree and it relies upon elements of truth to ensnare us. Our flesh wants to make the worship about us and what we do. Man has been doing this since the beginning. We love building our religious towers of Babel to try to work our way to God.
God’s conviction shows us that despite the great work of Jesus saving us, we through our flesh still sin every day in ways that disgust us. Our human desire is to want to try harder to do things to be better. Jesus’ answer though is to simply trust Him. He will continue the good work He started in us until its completion. He invites us to cast our cares, including cares about our failures and sins on Him so He can care for us through the struggle. If we make it about relying on Jesus, then every struggle is about trusting in Jesus. If we make it about us, then who is the struggle about?
Which brings us back to John Mulinde and his ilk. His message is that Jesus appeared to him in a vision. Jesus then told him that he would not be coming to heaven if Jesus returned that day, that his repentance was not enough and that John Mulinde had to work harder. This is just false doctrine. Jesus plus works is not consistent with the Bible.
It is also worth noting that it takes the attention off of Jesus and what He did to the created being and his works. Taking attention away from Jesus is never good. He gave everything to save us completely. A gospel that is inconsistent with that laid out in the Bible is not good news at all. As Paul said in Galatians 1:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
I’ll stick with the Gospel, thanks!