the Spirit Watch

What Larry Miller Teaches Concerning Salvation:

Discerning Immanuel Ministries

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." 

Jesus to his disciples (NIV) Matt 11:28-30

Galatians is a letter written by Paul to the church in Galatia to correct false doctrine circulating amongst the believers.  This false doctrine taught salvation by Christ’s atonement for forgiveness of sins plus adherence to the Old Testament law.  He was also addressing the false teaching that sanctification is a result of our obedience to Old Testament observances.  Paul writes in chapter 4,  8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God--or rather are known by God--how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” (NIV) Paul was referring to the Jewish observance of special days, months and seasons.  Several ex-members of Larry Miller's Immanuel Ministries in Illinois have said they now understand the book of Galatians more clearly in light of their experience at IM due to the slavish atmosphere resulting from Miller’s twisted teaching.  They were free and rested when they joined but were entangled by the works salvation and sanctification taught at IM.  They found themselves living in a modern day Galatia which eventually inspired several members to leave IM for good.

The following is an analysis of Miller’s teaching concerning salvation taken from a recorded Bible study at IM and from his book, In Defense of the Poor.  At times, he comes across as genuinely orthodox.  He refers to man’s sinfulness as well as Jesus’ death and victorious resurrection on the third day.  IM’s website states,  “We desire that all men hear and experience the love of the Father that sent His only Son to die and rise from the dead that this world might be reconciled to Himself through the shedding of the blood of Jesus.”[21]  On the surface this seems biblical.  However, like an orange, when the skin is peeled away from the surface, the true fruit is exposed.  The same is true with the teachings of Larry Miller. 

During a Bible study at IM, Miller appeals to several scriptures to explain his soteriology (doctrine of salvation).  His philosophy is to look for a consistent doctrine in Genesis, the Prophets and the Gospels and he approaches salvation in a similar manner.   Larry begins with Ezekiel 33:1-11,

The word of the LORD came to me: 2 "Son of man, speak to your countrymen and say to them: `When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, 3 and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, 4 then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head. 5 Since he heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning, his blood will be on his own head. If he had taken warning, he would have saved himself. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood.'

7 "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 8 When I say to the wicked, `O wicked man, you will surely die,' and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 9 But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself.

10 "Son of man, say to the house of Israel, `This is what you are saying: "Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?" ' 11 Say to them, `As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?'

Miller says he “loves Ezekiel 33” and that “this is a powerful passage for his life from what God has taught him”.  Miller correctly identifies that God has put Ezekiel in charge of looking over the house of Israel from foreign invaders as well as calling them to repentance for their sins.  But Miller does not stop there.   He believes this passage carries over to the spreading of the gospel with additional implications.  From the phrase, “accountable for his blood”, Miller constructs his gospel of feeding the poor.  He teaches that if the poor are not fed and they die without an understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we, the body of Christ, are held accountable for their blood.   

Miller elaborates about Ezekiel and its application to Christians,

 “God has already declared that the man is wicked, amen.  He already declared that the people are wicked.  Now He wants the watchman to declare that they are wicked, amen.  God has declared all men to be sinners but it’s important for us who stand in this place to actually declare to the world that they are sinners that they need a Savior, isn’t it?  And if we don’t speak out to dissuade them they’re still sinners and they’re going to die, amen.  And they’re still going to hell but the blood has to fall on somebody’s shoulders, amen.  This is powerful.”  (emphasis mine) (Click here to listen to an audio clip of this)

While Miller is correct that we need to tell sinful man of his spiritual condition before a Holy God the proof text he uses from Ezekiel does not support this teaching. The error begins when Miller applies God’s specific consequences to Ezekiel (v.6) and administers it to the church.  Miller’s assertion that “the blood has to fall on somebody’s shoulders” is an unprecedented teaching that is not found in the Bible or in church history. There have been no debates, schisms, or creeds dealing with this doctrine because it is clearly unbiblical.  The context of the passage is for Ezekiel to warn Israel and if he does not, God will hold him accountable for their blood.  There is not one mention of the church being held accountable for the blood of those who have not heard the gospel at the time of their death.  In this view salvation is no longer by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone but is completely dependant on one’s proclamation of the gospel to others.  This is a misapplication of Scripture that Miller consistently follows while attempting to build his case.

Miller continues,

“It is my job to tell them.  My job is to let the world know of the gospel, amen.  And what it is for them to be saved from their sin.  Whether they listen or fail to listen is not my responsibility because only God can draw the heart of a sinful man, amen.  But it’s my job to speak out.  And if I fail to speak out, according to this passage, the blood of those unsaved people who never heard the gospel falls upon His children who were suppose to tell them.  That’s great isn’t it?”  (emphasis mine)  

(Click here to listen to an audio clip of this)

Miller reiterates his belief that the church (His children) is responsible for the blood of the unsaved which have never heard of the gospel.  If this is true, what an enormous burden for Christians to carry.  How many people must Christians tell before they are clean of the blood?  How many of “those unsaved people” can one miss and still be saved?  The cashier at the check out counter?   The cashier at the gas station?  What about those on the train on the way to work? If you happen to overlook someone in one of the many train cars will you be granted salvation or be judged for your lack of performance and therefore eternally condemned? 

At this point one must determine whether Miller simply misspoke regarding this passage and made an error that is not repeated during the remainder of the Bible study.  Is it possible that the ex-members and this author have misunderstood him?  To answer this question, we look to Miller who continues his lesson with Genesis 9:1-5

  1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. 2 The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

4 "But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. 5 And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.

Miller elaborates on these verses by stating,

“What it implies is that every single person in this generation God will demand an accounting for and no one is left out of that, amen… When the whole universe stands before Him everyone’s blood is going to be held accountable, amen.  Now either the accounting falls upon your own head or it falls upon somebody else’s, right?  But no way does it fall upon Jesus, does it?  It’s not God’s responsibility is it?  He took to Ezekiel and he said if you don’t tell them they’re going to die in their sin. If you don’t tell them they’re going to die.  If you don’t tell them, I’m going to hold you responsible for their blood.  That’s great isn’t it?”  (emphasis mine). (Click here to listen to an audio clip of this)

According to Miller, this passage parallels Ezekiel.  God will demand an accounting for the blood of any unsaved person who has not heard the gospel.  According to Miller, those responsible for their blood are the Christians.  This is a classic case of eisegesis.  Instead of understanding the passage for what the writer is intending to say, exegesis, Miller reads a meaning into the passage that is foreign to the text and in the process completely misses the original intent of this passage.  The original intent is found in verse 6, Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man” (NIV).  Genesis 9:4-6 is about capital punishment.  If a man or an animal is responsible for the death of a human being, that animal or man will be held accountable to God who alone has the right to take life.  Miller ignores this concept, choosing instead to use this passage to create the idea of everyone’s blood needing to be accounted for. Miller elaborates:

“Each man, that’s got to be us.  He’s talking to Noah, but when he says each man he’s obviously not just talking to Noah anymore, amen.  He’s talking about everybody isn’t he?  Each man, each man to I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.  Isn’t that wild?  So now God puts us all in front of him and He says every man you are now responsible for every fellow man.  Isn’t that great?  We are responsible for our fellow men.  That’s intense isn’t it?" (Click here to listen to a an audio clip of this)

Miller transitions to Genesis 4, which recounts the tragic death of Abel by the hands of Cain.  God rebukes Cain for this despicable act and He holds him responsible.  

On this Miller comments:

“So now we understand that Cain was held to the same exact standard that Ezekiel was, wasn’t he?  That God’s commission to Ezekiel was not exclusive to Ezekiel so we can’t just throw out Ezekiel 33 and say well I’m not a prophet therefore I’m not a watchman therefore I’m not responsible, amen.  If that was the only time it happened in scripture we may be able to justify that only the prophets of God who are the watchman over the nation that they would be the ones who would have to give an accounting of blood.  But God demanded it from Cain and from Noah. (Click here to listen to an audio clip of this)

This type of interpretation done by Miller is called scripture twisting.  He takes elements of truth and tweaks them to fit his own understanding.  Ezekiel was commissioned by God to call Israel back to repentance and inform them of the coming invasion.  If he failed to do this, God would hold him accountable.  Cain was held accountable for Abel’s blood because he murdered him.  The answer to Miller’s question, So now we understand that Cain was held to the same exact standard that Ezekiel was, wasn’t he?” is a resounding no, they weren’t.  They are two totally different situations.  The only similarity is that each is responsible for their actions as commanded by God. 

Continuing his study Miller reads Genesis 42:1-22, which is the story of Joseph and his brothers.  Joseph’s brothers have gone to Egypt in search of grain and upon arriving, Joseph recognizes them but his brothers do not recognize him.  The story unfolds and in Genesis 42:22 Reuben replies to his brothers, "Didn't I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn't listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood."  Miller goes on,  

“So now again we’ve got to be able to say that what God was telling Ezekiel was no different than what God had substantiated in the Law long ago.  I will surely demand an accounting of the blood of every man and you will be held accountable for the blood of your fellow man, amen.  And whether the blood of your fellow man is upon your hands or your garments have been stained with his clothes, amen.  And in all of these situations, in Cain and Abel, in Noah and his sons, in the sons of Jacob standing before Joseph.  Everyone one of them are completely convinced that they must give an accounting for blood, now we’ve really lost that mindset haven’t we, amen?” (Click here to listen to an audio clip of this)

Miller again misapplies the text to say something that it does not.  Both of these men were held accountable to God for specific and distinct behavior.  Ezekiel was held accountable for his ministry to Israel and Reuben for the mistreatment of his brother.  Again, the only similarity is  that God would hold them accountable for someone else’s blood because they were disobedient to Him. 

Miller turns to the New Testament in an attempt to prove that his “accountable for his blood” doctrine is also part of the New Covenant.  Miller says,

“Let’s go to Acts.  Now we can understand it is not just a Law thing and that the Law is dead and we don’t have to obey it anymore, praise God for the blood of Jesus now I don’t have to give an accounting. (said with sarcasm) That would be a convenient theology but it’s not a Biblical theology, amen.  It would be a very easy doctrine to live under which would say that I am not responsible for the blood of this generation, amen.”  (Click here to listen to an audio clip of this)

Miller seems to mock the notion that Christ’s atonement covered the debt of all sin.  Instead he teaches his followers that we must atone for our sins by adhering to the Law.  This Law, according to Miller, is our accountability before God for the blood of this generation.  Conversely the Scriptures say in Galatians 2:20-21, I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (NIV) 

In Acts 20: 22-26, Miller reads that Paul says he is “innocent”

22  "And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.

25 "Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. 26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men.

Miller believes this passage supports his blood doctrine and he states about Paul,

“That’s an amazing statement.  I surely hope that God will give us sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in our bodies whether by life or by death and when we’re standing there at the end of our lives we’ll be able to make that same boast, don’t you?” (Click here to listen to an audio clip of this)

He also writes in his book the following about this passage, “It is my earnest prayer that I will be able to say to the Lord concerning this generation – I am innocent of the blood of all men - blameless before the people of the earth, no widow’s cry, and no dying children’s curse.”[22]

Continuing the study, Miller explains why serving the poor and preaching the gospel to them are close to his heart. 

“Why I believe so much that I am responsible for the blood of this generation and that in no way do I want it to be a stain upon my clothes or upon my hands.  Why I believe that it is so important.  The truth and the reality is that millions of people are suffering and dying, amen, and their blood is already being held accountable, amen.  I certainly can’t erase what happened yesterday and obviously I can do all I can do today, amen.  People are still dying out there a lot, amen.  There’s a lot of suffering going around in the impoverished nations of this world, amen.” (emphasis mine) (Click here to listen to an audio clip of this)

Miller passionately shares the heart of his gospel;

"Eternity is so important to God.  It’s why he came and died and gave everything, amen? And so we cannot just let our eyes be upon the gospel.  Because if our eyes are just upon the gospel and preaching to people then we still are not cleansing ourselves from the blood stains of the innocent poor, amen.  The people today who are dying the most are the poor, amen.  And while the church lives self-indulgent, all of those people are dying, amen.  And we basically said listen you are not very important for the gospel, amen.  So everybody declares, well I’m telling the rich, amen.  Well I’m not going to tell the poor.  But what happens to all of their blood, amen?  Does it just collectively go into some massive grave to some unknown grave like you would look into it and see the hordes of people lying there like some Auschwitz kind of thing and nobody knows who they are and nobody cares or do you think that God is calling to reconcile all of that blood that just went into the ground, amen.  All of those people are important to him, every one of them.  Every one of their soul’s blood will be demanded of somebody, amen.  And that blood is going to fall on somebody’s head today.  Are we going to say that the gospel is our chief goal, let the 20,000 children die today because they’re not important to the gospel?  See that’s why the fight for the poor is so great, because if we don’t fight for them they’ll never hear, amen.  And if they never hear they’re going to die.  They’re going to die in their sin and they’re not going to know the gospel and their blood is going to fall upon our heads.  That’s why we must fight for the poor.  It’s not that God cares more about the poor than the rich.  He just knows that if you don’t fight for them they’re going to die.  The rich man is not going to die because he doesn’t have food in his stomach, but that third world child sure will.  And if we don’t fight for them, they go into eternity separated, amen.  That’s why we got to fight for them so much, you see?  That’s why their blood is just as important as anybody else’s blood.  (emphasis mine) (Click here to listen to an audio clip of this)

This is the gospel according to Larry Miller, “to be innocent of the blood stains of the innocent poor” as opposed to the Biblical doctrine which says in Ephesians 2, 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.  According to Miller, our salvation is no longer dependent on the righteousness of Christ whose shed blood paid the penalty of sin.  Instead, our salvation comes from diligently working to feed and teach the poor in the name of Christ so that their blood will not be upon our hands.  Miller’s theology is supported through the twisting and manipulation of the life accounts of Ezekiel, Noah, Cain, Joseph’s brothers and Paul and he unscripturally applies the twisted theology to today’s church.  His call to all who want to be Christians is that we need to feed the poor to exonerate ourselves from the bloodstains that would otherwise drench our hands and clothes. 

Miller’s conviction is not just found in his Bible study, he also explains it in his book.  He asks a rhetorical question, “What must we do to stand innocent of the blood of this generation?  The answer is surprisingly found in the poor.”[23]  Miller quotes Matthew 25:31-46, which is the parable of the ‘Sheep and the Goats’.[24]  He explains that when Judgment Day occurs God will separate the sheep and the goats.  They are God’s children who will go to heaven since they fed the poor.  The goats are God’s children who did absolutely nothing for the poor and are therefore clothed in the bloodstains of the innocent poor.  These goats will spend eternity in hell.  Since the members of IM feed the poor, on Judgment Day they will not be stained with the blood of the innocent poor and therefore, will be considered sheep bound for Heaven.




[22] Miller, “In Defense of the Poor”, p73


[23] Miller, “In Defense of the Poor”, p73


[24] Ibid, p34

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