By David E Lister
Simple and plain meanings of Grace: Hebrew the word is Chesed meaning covenant mercy, in Greek Charism – gift and in English, underserved favor.
In his article from his website Mr. Timothy Williams perverts God’s Word and His grace. Mr. Williams also attacks the church and every Christian indiscriminately with a broad sword and lots of smoke and mirrors. He tells his readers that one can tell who has the “grace of God” by their obedience to the commandments.
“It is easy to tell who has the grace of God and who doesn’t. All you have to do is look at the obedience to scripture. A man is no more saved than he has allowed the gift of grace to lead him to obedience. Yet how many believe the Baptist butcher gospel -the wide road of acceptance of the gift of grace. We speak of the preaching that says, “ I am saved by the free gift of grace,” even though you can’t see it in their lives. Or when a command of God is given to these demoniac believers, (James 2:19), they say they can disregard it because it is by grace we are saved and they don’t want to fall under legalism. What foolish people. You only have the grace of God in your life to the degree it has lead you to obedience of God’s word. Listen carefully to what God says His grace is. In short the gift of grace is the gift of obedience.”
A perverted grace! Besides the bad exegesis of God’s Word taking a verse, James 2:19, and stating that this equates believers that believe God is one and are complemented as doing well to demonic believers is outrageous. But this is his style and pattern, using a verse or word from the Bible and substituting what he wants to talk about into the text. He is clearly pouring new meanings into words and verses from scripture. Earlier in this same article Mr. Williams suggests to his readers that in 2 Corinthians 13:5 that Paul asks them to test themselves to see if they are really in the grace of God, when the context Paul is using and the text clearly states that we are to see if we are “in the faith” and of the same household of faith. The verse does not mention the grace of God. Since when is the grace of God considered the equlivant of faith?
Mr. Williams tells his readers to listen carefully to what God says His grace is: “the gift of grace is the gift of obedience.” Where does Mr. Williams get this interpretation? He does not offer one from scripture. Has there been a switch here? The old shell and pea game? Look here is the definition of grace he explains; the gift of grace is the gift of obedience. Mr. Williams is teaching that the grace of God is obedience to the commandments of God! His use of the NIV Bible might be only part of his problem as it uses it to transform a verse from Titus 2:11-15 that refers back to Jesus and His appearance, as the original language verb tense indicates, as an “It” and this “It” is not the person of Jesus Christ but obedience to Jesus and the commandments. The theme of grace is especially prominent in the letters of the apostle Paul. He sets grace radically over against the law and the works of the law. (Rom. 3:24,28). While Paul makes it abundantly clear that salvation is not something that can be earned or merited; it can only be received as a gift of grace (Rom. 4:4). However grace must be accompanied by faith; a person must trust in the mercy and favor of God, even while it is undeserved (Rom. 4:16). Any intermixture of human merit violates grace.
Constantly in his article Mr. Williams rails against everyone in Christianity without every giving examples of who these Christians or people are or which church they are in. He uses generic terms such as preachers, Christians, churches, they, all you hear, all the marriage seminars, they, the impure, no one suffers in his own body anymore, they will be condemned, the multitudes, on and on without ever telling us who these people are other than it is everyone. Mr. Williams states in his article that the multitudes who rely on Romans to save them, they will wind up being shoved into the bottomless pit by the very words of the book of Romans, because Paul describes the gift of grace as: then he quotes Romans 6:1-4, which is no more than Paul answering his own question whether we should continue in sin once we have accepted Jesus by faith that grace might increase. He answers a resounding no!
Mr. Williams goes on to suggest that the grace of God so changes the heart of man that he “runs in the commands of God” and to prove and highlight his point Mr. Williams quotes John 3:5-10 again using the NIV translation which misses the point that those who are in Christ will not continually practice as a lifestyle or remain in sin (verse 6). Again this is made very clear in the NASB and the original languages. He then quickly indicts all the churches saying the greedy are not judged and kicked out, the impure are not driven from the pews. I wonder how he could know this empirically? Did he visit all the churches or just a few and then just claim it is all of them or maybe it was just the ones he was a part of?
In the section on “Without Effect” Mr. Williams again claims that the grace of God is the same word as obedience (page 6). This “it,” obedience, he says is proven by Paul explaining that he worked harder than anyone else in 1 Corinthians 15:10. But doesn’t Paul say “yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” Those who have the grace of God (not the obedience but the true meaning) bestowed on them should take care that it be not in vain. They should cherish, and exercise, and exert, this heavenly principle. Paul tells us here that he labored with so much zeal and with much success. And yet the more he labored, the more good he did, the more humble he became in his opinion of himself. This produced in him the ability to magnify the favor of God towards him, God’s free and unmerited favor, and God’s true grace.
Throughout this article Mr. Williams points out that the grace of God means obedience. If one was to substitute “obedience” wherever he uses “grace of God” one would see that Mr. Williams is trapped in a works righteousness and his grace is no grace at all, and he has a flawed definition of these simple words.
Page 8: This grace of God (obedience) is so precious in God’s site that once you have received it, if you fall away from it you can never, ever be saved again, God will not allow it.
To understand how important the grace of God (obedience) is and how fragile a thing our devotion to God’s love is will lead us to encourage one another dailyâ¦
After much talk on obedience Mr. Williams states:
Page 9: Those of you who accuse others of legalism ought to how you obey the Word of God more than they do and, that by the grace of God (obedience)! It doesn’t make sense following his logic.
And again after much more railing against all the churches and on page 10 his definition falls apart quoting James 4:7-10, “It is time to cry out until the grace of God (obedience) works obedience and a soft heart in your lifeâ¦.
On down the same page he states: But if you treat the grace of God (obedience) as a light thing if you remain stubborn and refuse to repent as that grace (would that be obedience) seeks to do its work, God will cast you aside and mock your calls for mercy. He then quotes Romans 2:5-8; Proverbs 1:24-26 as backup.
As you can see Mr. Williams has clearly has a works orientated gospel message, one that will lead to death, as Paul states: And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:6). Again, Mr. Williams switching of simple words meanings perverts the true message of God’s grace. Mark this man, he is dangerous!
Jacob Prasch & Moriel thank David Lister for his piece on Timothy Williams and the “Sound Doctrine” group which has a base in Manchester, UK and Enumclaw, Washington, US.
Certain members of this group have apparently cited Jacob Prasch & Moriel as endorsing it. This is categorically untrue. Upon examination we find this group does not live up to its name of having ‘sound doctrine’ but is biblically unbalanced and aberrational, and in no way carries any sanction from Jacob Prasch or Moriel. Some who have contacted us concerning this group find it cultic, and in reviewing their material it is not difficult to see why someone would arrive at that conclusion. It is not an organization we could recommend and much of their unscriptural emphasis in our estimation is theologically and spiritually off key and potentially dangerous. If anything, this group would carry our caveat and not our stamp of approval, and we would respectfully urge those involved with it to prayerfully reconsider their position.
Biblically, we cannot build fellowship on the basis of what we oppose but on the basis of what we are for. Simply being against what we are against – such as the faith-prosperity heresy, the ecumenical deception, or the Toronto/Pensacola – while noble and correct, does not necessarily dictate that they are for what we are for. The position we wish to represent is one of a biblically balanced Christianity. Fortunately, there are still a number of churches and ministries we do actively recognize as being in this category of being biblically balanced. Unfortunately however, the Timothy Williams group is not an entity we would safely place in this category. While we do not seek conflict with this group, we can give it no approval.
The complication with groups such as this one is that a fair amount of what they say is true. Indeed, the truth of God’s Word divides, but so does the error of man. When relationships are severed because of biblical truth it is one thing, but when relationships are severed and people are hurt due to a mixture of truth and error it is something else again. In our view, denouncing such a group as a “sect” is not constructive, as all bible believing Christians can be called sects by the religious and social mainstream. None-the-less, from our past experiences with various groups, whatever true aspects there may indeed be in the teaching of groups such as this one, in the end such valid aspects tend only to masquerade things that are desperately wrong.
In the earlier phases of their existence, such groups can usually best be described as “theologically churches, but sociologically cults”. Given enough time however, false doctrine creeps in and sooner or later it predominates and permeates the fabric of the group. This almost never begins with blatantly false teaching, but rather with unbalanced teaching combined with unbiblical practices that finally leads to false teaching.
As always, it is a little leaven that leavens the entire lump of dough, and certain things, which may be right in no way excuse, what is plainly wrong. Those in such groups inevitably amplify what is right or true about their teaching to divert focus away from addressing what is wrong and false.
Invariably, such groups eventually tend towards exclusivism and the sin of party spirit, implying the group or its leaders have a monopoly on biblical truth not understood or appreciated by others (which can sometimes be a form of gnosticism), and an expression of spiritual pride convinces the group that they are the only ones who are truly faithful. An angry spirit
from the leadership disguised as holy anger intimidates people as a means of control. These are symptoms of the heavy shepherding of Ezekial 34 and the Nicolaitianism (Nico = suppression, laity = of the people) of Revelation 2. Ultimately, in the usual pattern of things, the impression is created that salvation, (at least for the members who have now been enlightened) can only now be found within that group and those leaving are effectively backslidden.
People can be so spiritually abused and emotionally damaged, that after leaving such groups, they find it difficult to trust any church or leadership again and Satan has a field day.
In these scenarios the character of Christ is usurped by the character of the leader, who indeed may have began right with pure motives, but who could not handle spiritual authority and instead begins to lord it over his followers. Often, there is a certain personality type akin to that of a dictator. It is frequently someone who surrounds himself with people weaker in demeanor than himself (or younger in age) who he can easily manipulate to do his bidding for him. Insecure people instead of looking to Christ for their security look to the leader, not realizing the fact that he himself is an insecure person who not only hides it, but also copes with it by exercising power over others, moreover distorting scripture to do so.
The longer range consequences of such aberrational theology become serious. In some settings (particularly where communal living is the norm, which is not the case in Mr. William’s group) women will look to the leader as their spiritual covering instead of to their husband, and children will look to the leader instead of to their father. Strained marriages and dysfunctional families tend to become a longer-term result. It is also not uncommon for a financial exploitation to begin to surface at some point, and neither is it uncommon for someone holding this kind of sway to engage in immorality further down the line. We wish to emphasize however, that we have no evidence that Mr. Williams has ever perpetrated such treachery, we simply refer to a pattern we have witnessed time and time again among groups that followed a similar path. We issue a warning not an accusation. Aberrational groups that deviate from the bible moreover, wind up indicting themselves.
We cannot say how many of these trends are already underway within this group. But while we do not know with any certainty how far this particular group has gone down this particular road, we are quite confident to say that this is the road that they certainly appear to be traveling on.