False Teachers Distort Jesus
A preacher who seeks to profit off of God’s sheep needs to twist the Gospel. He must change the message of Jesus to get what he wants. There is nothing about the Gospel of grace that is useful to those who want to make merchandise of God’s people. God becoming a man in the form of a servant and dying a terrible death on the Cross to pay the debt of mankind is not an attractive message in general. It takes a work of God for it to make sense. But the rest of the story is absolutely fatal to manipulation and servitude. After death on the Cross, Jesus is raised to new life and offers us the same freely without anything offered on our part. Jesus replaces the old sinful man we were with a new man and simply tells us to follow Him from that moment forward. Abundant life follows. For more reading new life, read here What Does it Mean to be Born Again? Salvation freely given and never earned is not useful to false teachers. They can’t use it to get their hooks in people so they distort it…in big ways and more subtle. We have the more drastic examples where men have created totally different faiths in order to control people. Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses are two examples of obvious attacks on grace. When they show up at your door preaching their grace-less doctrine, it is obvious that they are not like us. It is when the grace robbers are more subtle that the danger increases. They come into our churches and present a Jesus who seems like the same Jesus we worship but sets forth a Gospel message that is all about our works. If they can shift our focus from what Jesus did to what we need to do, this is when we are open to exploitation. John Mulinde is one of these subtle grace robbing teachers. His message sounds good initially. It appeals to our fleshly desire to justify ourselves. But it is not Jesus’ Gospel.
John Mulinde’s preaching and testimony have been all over the internet. A self proclaimed he also travels world spreading the word about what he calls his prophetic message. He is an engaging and powerful speaker. His delivery is smooth and seemingly heartfelt as he lays out his message. He claims it is one of repentance and a call to prayer. When we listen to it closely, though, it is something very different. It is the work of someone trying to steal our liberty, our freedom that Jesus bought for us on the Cross. Mulinde’s sermon is presented in the style of a personal testimony. He claims that Jesus came and spoke with him in a vision. This sounds wonderful, but I am not sure I want to see John Mulinde’s Jesus. He is very different than the Jesus of the Bible. You see when Jesus appears in his story, it is not to praises with awe and joy from one of His followers. Rather though it is a story of Jesus on the surface, when we drill down it actually focuses on Mulinde, what he did and did not do. This is always a sign of something amiss. The story of Christianity is all about Jesus and His glory. If we are focusing on ourselves, something has gone wrong. Mulinde doesn’t stop with simply being self-centered in his message. He goes way further and describes a very different Jesus. Mulinde’s Jesus is mad at him for not working hard enough. Mulinde’s Jesus is demanding. His Jesus is also focused on the works of His creation rather than on His own work on Calvary. The Savior who preached the Gospel of Grace is not actually full of grace – unmerited favor – in Mulinde’s story. The created sinful one is somehow the center of a story about the Creator, Jesus. Our salvation is by grace through faith according to Ephesians. According to Mulinde, it is contingent on how good we are. This is outrageous. For more on Grace, read What Grace Really Means: Freedom and Jesus Doesn’t Need our Penance.
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. Despite believing in Him, Jesus is reported as telling Mulinde that if He returned for his church today Mulinde would not be taken to heaven. Why? Because his work was not enough according to Jesus. His repentance was not pure enough. His heart was not good enough. His work was not up to Jesus’ standards. This is the core of the issue why Mulinde is preaching a false gospel. Jesus says come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. He guaranteed our acceptance into the family of God by offering it for free to those who come to Him. He never says come if we perfectly understand how bad we are. He never says come if our works are pure. Jesus just says come and HE will save us. He gives us new life in Him thanks to His completed work on the Cross. It is for Him and by Him, we are Born again, not for us and by us. For more read What does it Mean to be Born Again and 11 Life-Changing Verses about being Born Again. Mulinde’s Jesus says salvation is contingent on us. This is very different than the Bible’s Jesus.
Repentance is Not Enough is a Lie
Mulinde’s Jesus goes even further than simply demanding works. When Mulinde tearfully repents of his alleged sins, Mulinde’s Jesus refuses his repentance. Mulinde’s Jesus decides that he was not sorry enough. If your skin is crawling right now that is a good sign. This Jesus is not filled with love for His sheep. This Jesus is not filled with compassion for his very flawed creations. He is demanding and arbitrary. This gospel is one of achievement and striving. More, more, more, Mulinde 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 redemption work. This is required to allow the grace robbers to get their hooks in us. They need to shift the focus from God’s completed work to His imperfect creation. Once that is done, they can work us into the ground. They can turn Godly conviction into human condemnation and work us into the ground. The Gospel that saves even the worst sinners, from the Thief on the Cross to you and I, into a whip to beat us with until we do what they want. For more on the Thief on the Cross, see Am I too Far Gone for Jesus? For more on the idea of worthiness, see Feeling Unworthy?
Hushed voice and tears in abundance accompany the tale. It is a vivid and compelling story offered by a talented showman. Mulinde has been drawing people in all over the world in person and through online videos. There is one major problem with the message though. 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. No One is Too Far Gone for Jesus!
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. It has been a consistent threat to Christians since Jesus walked the Earth. It is compelling to our flesh, yes, emotional, sure. It is a great message to get 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. We can never be good enough for God as a result. Jesus says come anyway and I will bless you. Jesus sets us free from this nonsense. Grace Means Freedom!
The Apostle Paul Tried to be Perfect too
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.
We Can Never Save Ourselves
It is like a person being rescued from a shipwreck on the high seas and placed in the middle of an Indiana cornfield. 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 false doctrine. John Mulinde contradicts the Bible so he is a false teacher. Jesus plus works for salvation is not the real Jesus.
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!