Potential Church: Finding the Gospel Here is Complicated

“It’s Complicated” is the latest sermon series by Potential church. Yes, the name was taken from Facebook. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be relevant and people may not come. Ironically, this sermon was complicated. In this particular sermon, you will hear 40 minutes of psychology. If you took the amount of time the Bible makes an appearance, you will find yourself counting the minutes on one hand. Pastor Troy is teaching his audience how to forgive other people, because unforgiveness “robs you of your future.” And you don’t want your future stolen.  It’s really just another lecture about how you are a victim, and you need to forgive others. Could it be that you are the wicked sinner who needs forgiveness? He mentioned that Jesus prayed for God the Father to forgive those who were crucifying Him, and we should do the same. He also mentions that because Jesus had forgiven them,

“Even in the midst of His hurt an His pain, He was doing what He came to earth to do. He was living out His mission.”

And what would that be?

“He was reaching into other people’s lives, even in the midst of pain. Why? Because He wasn’t carrying around unforgiveness.”

Jesus came proclaiming repentance and the forgiveness of sin. He was proclaiming that the kingdom was at hand. His mission wasn’t to heal puppies and stroke kittens. And the reason He didn’t carry unforgiveness is because HE IS GOD. But Troy is telling us that Jesus came to become sin on the behalf of His people. He then gives an illustration of Christ showing what He might say if He wasn’t so forgiving:

“You want me to forgive you? Do you see what everybody’s done to me? I’ve never done anything but love people and heal people and be there for people.”

Again, Mr. Gramling implies that Christ was like some big hippie that was just putting flowers in gun barrels. Christ told His disciples exactly why the world hates Him:

“The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.” [John 7:7]

Notice Christ didn’t say, “The world hates me even though I’ve only tried to love.” No. Christ knew He would die because He was telling people they were wicked, and sons of the devil, and blind guides leading blind people, and serpents. Stuff like that.

 He ties it all up at the end, saying that the ultimate result of our forgiving others is experiencing God’s blessings. Hmmmmmm. Obedience for blessings? Why do I smell wolf? So if you have unforgiveness as a Christian, you won’t get God’s blessing in that area of your life.

“You and I receive what God wants so desperately to pour into our lives. There’s so much that God wants to give you. There’s so much that God wants to pour into your life… Joy, success, peace, a future, purpose, destiny… But He can’t.”

Poor God. He really, really wants to. But you won’t let Him. Be forgiving and then He can do what He wants. Until then, His hands are tied. He has painted God to be weaker than a man. Nothing but a slave. He gives an altar call for those who want to “stop, drop, and roll” toward God. No mention of the gospel.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” [Ephesians 1:4]

Obedience doesn’t get God’s blessings. We aren’t rewarded for our obedience. We are rewarded for the obedience of Christ. The only reason God would even regard my voice is because of Christ. Every spiritual blessing is already a reality for the believer EVERY DAY because of the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ, and His propitiating for our sins on the cross.

“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” [Galatians 3:1-3]

Troy, thanks for the psychology lesson, but I’m afraid I don’t need to go to a church for this. I could hear this message at a Unitarian Universalist church. Do the job of a pastor, and preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

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9 thoughts on “Potential Church: Finding the Gospel Here is Complicated”

  1. Bro! Great way to bring about the Gospel from the lack of it. I think Gramling’s view of obtaining blessings by obedience completely refutes the fact that Jesus has forgiven those who he has called. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” -Rom 8:1. And his view refutes that Jesus is God! Lame Gremlin, this is the only reason he could forgive. Being merely man, which is something you pointed out, he couldn’t bear ‘unforgiveness.’ Amen! We don’t deserve his grace.

    “We can do nothing but sin aside from Christ. His empowerment by the Spirit regenerates to glorify.” -Anonymous

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  2. The blessings you refer to, are a direct result of the obedience to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, or the “nudge” as Pastor Troy would say. Not a condition for salvation. In three years of attendance I have never heard the Pastor say that salvation comes by obedience. Unfortunately, I believe that you may have had a preconceived notion that made you believe that you heard this incorrect doctrine. I have watched many Pastors and found that Pastor Troy uses as much or more scripture in his teachings as many others. His teachings are on point and relevant in todays world. I would hope that your church would have the same life changing qualities as a result of God’s grace as Potential Church has had. I have no doubt that if you had attended more than one teaching in a series you may have a different opinion. Your knowledge of scripture is commendable, and your opinion is valued, but the spirit in which you share it leaves a bad taste in this Christians sensibilities. I hope that you, in the body of Christ realize we are all one body and the big toe calling the knee corrupt or inadequate somehow does nothing for God’s cause. In fact, I believe it will underscore the skepticism the non believers have in the way of Jesus. There are thousands of new believers coming to Christ every year through Potential Church. I hope that we can agree that it is ultimately not about us, but about Christ… who is the center. WWJD?

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    1. Eric,

      Where does the Scripture say to obey the “promptings” or “nudges” of the Holy Spirit? I can’t think of a more subjective guessing game that will have people following every burp and hiccup that wells up within them. We are told to follow the teachings of the Scriptures, not the inner burnings of our hearts.

      I’ve listened to many of Troy’s sermons. I’ve written a lot about Potential here too. I went to that church with my folks when it was Flamingo Road when Dan Sutherland was there, and have grown up in the Ranches, only 10 minutes from the church. Now I live 15 minutes from there. I’ve been to Potential too. I know people that attended there. Troy may not EXPLICITLY teach certain things, but his teachings, taken to their logical conclusions are all the same. It boils down to: You’ve done this, so stop doing this. Sometimes he might even say Jesus can help.

      Pastor’s aren’t told to be relevant. They are told to preach the word in and out of season. His teachings are totally anthropocentric. The texts are interpreted as though man was at their center. That Christmas sermon he did a few years ago was horrific. I’ll never forget it. He told the story of Christ’s birth and then interpreted it to be “your manger” comparing the messiness of the manger with the messes in our lives. Dude. No way is that what the Spirit intended when He inspired the gospel writers to “pen” those words.

      I have a duty to call Christians to discernment because there are plenty of false teachers around. If we just embrace everyone that says, “Praise, Jesus!” we will constantly be putting ourselves in a position to be misled. The apostle Paul didn’t get a pass with the Bereans, and don’t forget what the Spirit said about them in the Word of God – that they were more noble for holding Paul to the Scriptures. Unfortunately, we live in such a politically correct society that is so concerned with its feelings that calling anyone out gets you automatically labeled a “hater.” But you know, that is just an ad hominem. That doesn’t deal with the arguments. Imagine if I just responded to you, “Yah, you would say that because you go to Potential.” It’s irrelevant. It doesn’t mean that you’re argument is not true or is not valid. So, no matter what my “spirit” is that you somehow can divine through the internet, it shouldn’t matter. Saying I am doing something in a bad spirit doesn’t mean the argument is wrong.

      Using tons of Scriptures doesn’t amount to a hill of beans unless it is interpreted correctly. And I don’t think Troy could handle the Scriptures correctly if his life depended on it.

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  3. Do you not believe that the Holy Spirit lives in us? Then if you do, you know what I mean when I say promptings or he says nudge.The Bible says that nothing bad comes form God. So your example of following a burp or hiccup is not relevant. While they may still be good in a biological aspect, they do not cause you to sin. Your discernment is given as a gift to weed out the good and bad in your world. Pastor Troy may not teach from the King James version of the bible (which may offend you) but doesn’t make what he says is bad. Is james wrong when he says in James 1:21-25, to paraphrase; to simply hear and not do is like forgetting what you look like in a mirror, but he who obeys will be blessed?
    I realize that some “old school” Christians may not like the music or his methods of teaching but for you to take mean spirited shots at him is playing into the enemies hands. See Ephesians 4:31-32. There are many types of ice cream, is vanilla the only righteous one? There is a reason God has brought up so many good pastors with different gifts, He wants us all to know the Gospel.
    I fear any further debate with you will cause more strife than is worth. I hope you are happy in your new church. I am, and will forever be your brother in Christ. God bless.

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    1. Eric,

      Of course the Spirit lives within believers. But it doesn’t logically follow that we now need to listen to an inner voice for direction. And you didn’t answer my question. Where does the Scripture say to listen to the inner voice for direction? It doesn’t.

      What Troy does is not equivalent to “teaching from the KJV.” That’s just a strawman. I didn’t fault him for his personal character or the fact that he doesn’t teach from the KJV. I pointed to his teaching. I don’t even read the KJV. I’m not a fan of the show that gets put on there, but I’m not pointing to that. You are just hurling straw men, and not dealing with texts that I put forth.

      I have absolutely no problem telling Christians that they should conduct themselves in a particular way, but it always has to be buttressed with the gospel. James 1:25 specifically talks about those who look to the perfect law of liberty – ie the gospel. That’s what’s missing at Potential and at many of the purpose driven seeker churches. They might say the word gospel, or talk about your need of Jesus, but the gospel is never proclaimed correctly.

      In fact, the seeker driven churches are more like the Pharisees than anyone else. Take someone like Joel Osteen who has once put it, “Do you stop and smell the roses? If not, start doing that.” Since there is no Scripture teaching this, we can only conclude it is a manmade law that is now meant to bind the conscious. And when we are told, “If you don’t obey your inner promptings, you aren’t fully obeying,” it’s the same thing.

      Galatians 3 tells us that we are blessed because of our faith, not our works. Elsewhere Paul tells the Ephesians in chapter 1 that we have EVERY blessing already in Christ. Either God will see your righteousness or Christ’s. No mixing. Pastors should be teaching, “Have you disobeyed God’s word. Of course you have. Christ bled and died to satisfy the Father’s wrath on behalf of all those who will believe. Therefore, repent and believe the gospel.”

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  4. If you believe that Potential Church teaches false doctrine, be specific. I am tired of dancing with you. Your witness is made invalid by the obvious calcification of your heart. You want scripture? How about John 16:13, ” But when he, the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. John 14:26 “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you”.That is the job of the Holy Spirit. Need more? Matthew 10:20 “for it will not be you speaking but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.Acts 1:8, ” but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
    So before you go getting all self righteous on me, I urge you to look at the beam in your own eye before you point out the splinter in your brothers.
    The scripture above is the gospel truth, and since you object to the words nudge and promptings take it for what it actually says, and that is what Pastor Troy is preaching. Jesus said that the most important thing is love. Did Jesus admonish the adulteress or forgive her? Do you propose we give people a good tongue lashing before we forgive? God says vengeance will be mine. We are first and foremost called on to love our neighbor as ourselves, if our enemy thirsts, give him water, if he hungers feed him. You sound like one who wishes to stand in judgment of everyone. Well check yourself, that would be Jesus’s job.
    If the needle on your car was on empty, do you go to the Gas station or do you go somewhere else? Of course you should go to the gas station for a fillup. That is simple act of obedience to your car. I use this to demonstrate what Pastor Troy has taught on many times. If you are obedient to what God says, you will be in position to receive the gifts God has for you. If you drive the other way, you may have to walk around a mountain for 40 years.
    I’m sure no church has everything, and some teachings are better than others. Because lets face it, we are all but dirty rags to the Father. But through His love, and the perfect sacrifice of His Son for our transgressions we can be saved. Whether you believe it or not, the social media which you share your criticisms can be a very powerful tool of the devil, to further divide the body of Christ. Lets just pray for unity.

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    1. Eric,

      I was specific in the articles I wrote. I don’t know where the confusion is coming from. Jesus is speaking to the disciples in John 16. He isn’t speaking to you. Same in John 14. Are you trying to say that Jesus promised YOU in John 14 that He will send you a Spirit that will remind YOU of all that Jesus told YOU beforehand? You are taking Scriptures where Jesus is speaking directly to the disciples and saying that they are exactly the same for us. No. That is why it is important that we continue in the tradition of the apostles. (2 Thess 3:6). What exactly have I said that is self righteous? What have I said that makes you believe I establish and stand upon my own righteousness. Didn’t I say that we are either judged by our righteousness or Christ’s?

      What I do on my site is point out bad doctrine so that people aren’t misled, because bad doctrine shipwrecks people’s faith. Nowhere in Scripture are we told not to point out false doctrine. In fact, we are encouraged to point it out, as the apostle Paul did. He didn’t put up with false teaching “for even a moment.” (Gal 2:5) That’s what real love is. It is spending each and every day exercising proper discernment to protect the sheep from false doctrine because it’s everywhere.

      You seem to be assuming a lot about me. I “love to give tongue lashings before forgiveness?” Read any of my articles. I make an effort to articulate the gospel all the time – always reminding people that Christ bled and died and was raised to satisfy the Father’s wrath for those who believe. This doesn’t bring me joy. This makes me a lot of enemies and oftentimes brings me a lot of sorrow.

      What you are saying is I need to obey and position myself to get blessings from God? The Bible tells me that the Father HAS blessed believers with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3) Miracles are worked among the people of God because of faith, not obedience to the law. (Galatians 3:5).

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  5. Maybe you should actually read what you write. To say that you have never said a self righteous thing in even this string of discussions is a little naive. How about Pastor Troy couldn’t handle scriptures correctly if His life depended on it. Your wry responses to the alleged words of the pastor’s teaching.
    Where exactly did you get your education that you are the foremost expert in the teaching of the Bible?
    I don’t understand why you would say that the writings in John really weren’t somehow meant for the masses, as if we were eavesdroppers on a private conversation. Yes, I believe all the promises Jesus made to the original 12 apostles was a promise that we who would follow can live by. As a disciple of Jesus, I tell people about the good news daily. Should I shut up because as you pointed out in 2 Thes 3:6 I am not worthy because clearly I don’t know as much as you? (which I probably don’t). That said, I know sarcasm and bitterness when I see/hear it. I really believe that that passage of scripture was meant for those who openly reject Christ. I may be well meaning and misspeak but that does not change the spirit for which I say it. If you are beyond the occasional foible, surely you must have a tremendous following.
    I am not a leader or an elder at my church. I am not on staff in any way. But God spoke to me through my Pastors teaching and saved me from myself. If he was not anointed in some way, the life change that happens there would not happen. No man will remove the anointing God has placed on one of His servants.
    You have a gift for teaching, I just wish that you would use it in a way that glorifies Him, instead of using it to gratify your position as a blogger to persecute others. Only God knows a mans heart, and I am sorry if i had made assumptions about you that were not correct. But as Romans 12:16 says, “Live in harmony with one another: do not be haughty, but readily adjust yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits.

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    1. Eric,

      Well, I’ve read all my articles at least once 😉 Have you read anything I’ve written here? You are only accusing me of making self righteous statements. You aren’t substantiating it. I asked for proof, and you just made the assertion again. I don’t mean to offend you, but do you know what self righteous means? It means that someone is trusting in their own merits and efforts to count them righteous. Where have I said, “I’m righteous because of what I do”(?) Simply pointing out error does not mean that my point is that I am better.

      Where did I say that I am the foremost expert? If you study something a lot and someone makes an incorrect statement about that field and you correct him, should I say, “Oh, look at Eric being Mr. know it all again”(?) That isn’t fair. Yes, I’ve been to both Bible college and seminary. And they were both Southern Baptist. I know what they are teaching pastors in the SBA. I know it isn’t biblical. They taught us that we need to pray about a vision, get one from God, and cast it before the congregation and lead them in that direction. No where is that biblical. Not one shred.

      Believe it or not, a lot of the Bible isn’t about you or me. yes, Jesus was talking to His disciples about them getting the Spirit. He told them He would remind them of His words. That can’t be true of us. Some of the Bible is what is called “historical narrative.” It is a report of what happened. That’s not to say that some of it doesn’t apply to us – ie making disciples, baptizing. Where did I say you weren’t worthy because you don’t know as much as me? Seriously, copy and paste it. I’m not bitter. Have I called you mean spirited? Have I called you self-righteous? Have I told you that you would rather tongue lash someone than offer forgiveness? Have I told you that you are bitter? Have I accused you of thinking you are beyond the occasional foible? No. Sure, I can be sarcastic at times, but it’s not mean spirited. Bottom line, you’ve continuously accused me of being a number of things, and you have no idea if I’m even a guy or girl. You have no idea who I am.

      This isn’t an issue of a slip of the tongue. It is a consistent record of preaching a man centered self help gospel. Plenty of people have life change. The majority of people I know that have greatly changed their lives are atheists. Mormons have great life change. They put Christians to shame with their obedience to their religion. Life change isn’t solid evidence of regeneration. In fact, in Matthew 7, men were telling Jesus that they knew they were righteous because of their “life” change, but Christ told them He never knew them. It’s those who do “the will of the Father” Christ said. The gospels tell us that the will of the Father is to believe the gospel. Now, plenty of people will say, “Of course I believe the gospel!” Many like Westboro, Mormons, Catholics, etc will say it, but they still trust in their works. They still subject themselves to teachings that say, “Yes, yes. You believe the gospel. That is commendable. Now for assurance look to your works and life change.” Or “You’re probably not a Christian if your life doesn’t look a certain way.” That is a yoke of bondage. That is the Galatian heresy. That isn’t Christianity.

      If you’re in the area, and ever want to meet up or anything, let me know. My email address is deathbythespirit@aol.com

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