The Way International (TWI) teaches that believers are in the "Grace Administration (Dispensation)" today. In the New Testament, "grace" (Greek = charis) means "free, undeserved favor," that is, a gift that is not earned, attained or deserved.
When believers not only speak of, but live by grace, it is a refreshing spiritual experience, because they no longer have to earn favor with God, obtain good things by their own efforts, or focus on prevailing by their own efforts. Under grace, burdens are lifted because Jesus Christ carries the load and provides the blessings freely, by His effort.
TWI sometimes refers to grace, but in practice, grace is almost nonexistent in TWI. Instead, TWI constantly emphasizes law-- what people must believe, do, control, or accomplish. TWI's leaders expend so much effort into pushing believers to work, and largely ignore what God does for people.
TWI constantly uses the word "available." To TWI, God makes certain things available to people, but does not actually give them to people. Instead, it is up to believers to achieve and attain them on their own.
In the final analysis, believers are the key players, not God.
According to TWI, it is up to the believer to "change your own mind" and "change your life." The believer must get the knowledge, then have commitment, do "hard work," and "be faithful," "obey," then "obey" some more. It is up to the believer to "take inventory," "decide," "make the right choice," and "burn the chaff."
Is God at work in this? That's not the message Wayers get. They are told that they must "fulfill conditions," "accomplish," "be strong," "bring it to pass," "compete," "do what is correct," and "prevail." A believer should "control your mind," and "renew your mind," even though Romans 12:2 mentions "the renewing of your mind," (which God does), and never phrases it as a command for people to do (ie- "renew your mind!). In contrast, Titus clearly says that renewal is something that God does to believers, not something that believers do to themselves ("not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but.... by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit"- Titus 3:5).
TWI is even confused about the central topic of justification. On the one hand, leaders will say that righteousness is God-given. But in the same teaching, they will claim that righteousness is only achieved by our own efforts, "Believing brings to pass righteousness, right believing, a true and vital walk with the Father, doing what is correct" (quoted from a Wayer's notes on a teaching). In this way, TWI makes righteousness a "right" you claim rather than a gift you receive.
TWI continually says, "you-you-you-you" and "me-me-me-me" rather than "God-God-God" and "Jesus Christ-Jesus Christ-Jesus Christ." In so doing, TWI misses the central good news of Christianity-- the grace, mercy and transforming gifts of God in Jesus Christ.
The result of this heavy dose of law teaching, is that TWI leaders place an oppressive burden on the backs of its followers. Like the Pharisees, TWI "try to test God by putting on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear" (Acts 15:10). Like the Pharisees, Way leaders "tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for men to see...they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats... they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them "rabbi." (Matthew 23:4-8).
Wayers carry heavy loads, since leaders say that everything is up to their "believing" to attain and prevail. Meanwhile, TWI leaders like being called "Rev." and enjoy an endless procession of gifts and honors wherever they travel and whenever any occasion arises at home. TWI's word is all law and almost no Gospel.
In contrast, Jesus Christ said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). All who have had to submit their lives to the scrutiny of Way leaders and obey them explicitly, who have rushed to sell their homes to get out of debt, who have been forced to give up large parts of their lives to attend every Way meeting, who drove ten hours every Sunday to New Knoxville, who gave money until it hurt, who have been threatened with "mark and avoid" for every little thing, who have been told to "control" and have been condemned for lack of believing and obeying when any negative circumstances arose, and so forth, knows that life in TWI is a wearisome burden without any rest. TWI's yoke is not the easy yoke of Jesus Christ, but the hard, heavy, wearisome yoke of sinful mankind. TWI is definitely not "gentle," as Jesus Christ himself is.
Ephesians 1 describes the Christian life as receiving God's gracious gifts, not of attaining them (Ephesians 1 repeatedly says that "Jesus Christ" did these things, not that believers are to attain them).
Jesus Christ said, "If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing" (John 15:5). Yet, TWI hardly speaks of any relationship with Jesus Christ or of His transforming power in believers. Instead, it says (in effect), "if a man believes, he will attain it."
My heart goes out to Wayers who are so oppressed and burdened by the false teachings of Way leaders, not even knowing what spiritual freedom really is. But this can be easily changed! Put off the burden that TWI's false teaching has laid on you! Instead, turn your life over to Jesus Christ, and invite Him to transform and renew your life in ways you cannot even imagine, much less attain on your own. Ask Him for grace and renewal.
Jesus Christ says to you, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
John Juedes, C. 1998 www.empirenet.com/~messiah7
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