Today, I asked permission from my good friend and one of the best apologetics guy Pastor Jun Divierte of the Bereans Apologetics Group to have his research on Joseph Prince’s Radical Grace be posted in this site.
Before I post his research article, let me just say that I have seen so many good churches divide because of the issue of radical grace. What was supposed to be a God given gift – when misused and abused leads to a lot of division within the body of Christ.
Secondly, in the past two years, I have seen more stories of drunkeness, teenage pregnancy, pre-marital sex and sin abound in the church in the name of God’s grace. It is amazing how people can twist what God gave so that we can say no to ungodliness. Instead of tapping into the grace of God to change us and transform us, some has used this radical grace teaching as a license to sin.
So let me post now the article of Pastor Jun Divierte which was originally found here
Answer: The first time I saw this preacher was when me and my wife were out of the country several years ago in a hotel room. The manner of his clothing caught my attention because it was non-traditional, as if he is preparing for a catwalk. He was mentioning something about grace during that time, which I did not really paid attention. Later did I found out that his teaching about grace is starting to divide the body of Christ. I had conversations with a number of believers who had their personal experiences with Prince’s teaching. There was this young believer who transferred to Victory because I later found out that his local pastor was espousing Prince’s “radical grace” teaching even to the point of tolerating sins. According to him, their local church drummer got drunk the night before a Sunday church service. Their local pastor was not even bothered by the action, but commented, “It’s okay, God has already forgiven him, past, present, and future.” In fairness to Prince, he is against sin. However, his teaching will surely lead to tolerance since he does not teach the proper biblical definition of confession. Allow me to refute some of the major teachings of Joseph Prince below, then let’s check how faithful he is with the teachings of the Scripture.
1. Joseph Prince claims to have received a “corner of the truth” while flying above the Swiss Alps. Is this possible?
In the foreword of his book titled “Destined to Reign,” he narrated how he heard the voice of God telling him, “Son, you are not preaching grace.” He found himself conversing with God saying, “What do you mean, Lord? That’s a low blow. That’s a real low blow!” He also added, “I’m a preacher of grace. I have been a grace preacher for years, and like most preachers, I preach that we are saved by grace!” Surprsingly, God retorted, “No. Everytimeyou preach grace, you preach it with a mixture of law. You attempt to balance grace with the law like many other preachers, and the moment you balance grace, you neutralize it. You cannot put new wine into old wineskins. You cannot put grace and law together.” The divine voice continued, “Son, a lot of preachers are not preaching grace the way Apostle Paul preached grace.” Which is more authoritative, his subjective “revelation” or the Word of God?
I believed this is the straw that broke the camel’s back. He thinks he is on the cutting edge when he receive such revelation. Although, I am not placing Prince’s group under the category of a cult, his “revelation” is somewhat similar to how a number of cult founders receive their so-called divine message. According to the book Angels of Deceit, cult founders will claim they have a “special message” from God while making a sweeping judgment of several preachers. Is Prince saying that A.W. Tozer, Arthur Pink, Charles Swindoll, Charles Stanley, John MacArthur, among others are wrong in teaching about grace? The burden of proof now lies on Prince to produce the names of the so-called preachers who balances grace with law. The moment this “divine voice” started judging several preachers, it just wage an all out attack against many evangelical preachers as if to show that Prince will be alone in preaching the biblical grace. The fact is Joseph Prince was the one who misunderstood what grace is all about. A more balanced view on the topic of grace can be read in Rev. Charles Swindoll’s excellent book titled “Grace Awakening” and Dr. John MacArthur’s book titled “The Truth About Grace.”
2. Joseph Prince claims believers will never be punished because they have already received Jesus. Is this true?
When Joseph Prince uses the word “punish” he is not referring to spiritual punishment. If he did then I would surely agree with him that believers will not suffer eternal punishment or eternal torment. However, his understanding of punishment refers to the manner of disciplining that God does to His children during their spiritual walk on earth. He states in Chapter Four of the same book Destined To Reign, “But for you and me, believers in the new covenant, we are not part of the Old Testament and we will never be punished because we have already received Jesus. As believers, God is no longer angry with us because all His anger for our sins fell upon Jesus at the cross.” To a believer who is not familiar with the Scripture Prince’s teachings may seem to have a point. But a closer look at his interpretation will reveal that he is dividing the God of the Bible into an angry Old Testament God and a gracious New Testament God. When a believer inquired from Prince about God’s fiery judgment sent on a number of captain and their fifty men, he said in Chapter Five, “There’s one crucial fact that you need to recognize about the incidents of God’s fiery judgment — they both took place in the Old Testament and before Jesus’ crucifixion.” This is also his perception when David was struck with disease because of his sins before God. He said, “Don’t forget that David, like Elijah, lived before the cross of Jesus.” Notice how Prince so easily tucked everything under the Old Testament to show the difference between the character of the Old Testament God and the New Testament God.
Now, this can be easily refuted by quoting several passages showing how gracious God is in the Old Testament. One can read how Joseph receives grace or favor from the Lord while in prison. (See Gen. 39:21) Moses also received grace or favor from the Lord to go with him as a distinction between the Israelites and the pagans. (See Exo. 33:17) While Gideon was talking to the Lord, he asks for grace or favor in His very eyes. (See Judg. 6:17). On the other hand, we can also read how the Lord Jesus Christ made a whip out of cords and overturned the tables of the money changers and the merchants. (See Matt. 21:12; Mk. 11:15; Jn. 2:14, 15) Surely, he can’t be smiling while doing this, but had to show a strong emotion of indignation. The teaching of Prince that put’s a distinction between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament was already taught by Marcion during the second century declared by the early church fathers as heresy. Although Prince’s teaching is not an exact prototype of Marcionism it is still a form of Marcionism because of his emphasis on the distinction.
Prince understanding about God’s discipline is coming from a wrong perspective. He sees sickness or disease, and accidents, (even death) could not happen in the lives of a continually sinning hard-headed Christian. He tries to escape the real meaning of the Greek word paideuo? which, according to him is just a “child training” that has no connection with punishment. A careful study of Hebrews 12:6 will reveal that the author did not only use the Greek word “paideuo?” which could be translated as “training, educate, chasten, or discipline with punishment” but even “mastigoo?” which means “to flog” or “scourge.” A more literal rendering of the passage goes this way,
“For whom the Lord loves, He disciplines, and whips [scourges] every son whom He receives.” Heb. 12:6, Literal Version
The apostle Paul also explained that some believers in Corinth, died because they have not taken the time to examine themselves before partaking of the Lord’s communion. Another instance can also be found in Jame’s writings when he advises the believers to confess their sins to one another so they can experience healing. (See 1 Cor. 11:28-30; Jam. 5:16) There are times when physical sickness is a direct result of harbored sins in our lives like bitterness and anger. According to Daily Mail writer Ian Fletcher, a faculty namely Dr. Carsten Wrosch of Concordia University studied,
“Anger and recrimination are its typical attendants. Unlike regret, which is about self-blame and a case of ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda,’ acrimony points the finger elsewhere – laying the blame for failure on external causes. ‘When harboured for a long time,’ says Professor Wrosch, ‘bitterness may forecast patterns of biological dysregulation (a physiological impairment that can affect metabolism, immune response or organ function) and physical disease.’” Ian Fletcher, “Harbouring Feelings of Bitterness ‘Increases the Likelihood of Physical Disease’”
When David sinned against God he harbored everything in his heart that resulted to his physical ailments. But when he confesses his sins, he experience freedom and healing. Truly a believer must be sensitive to God’s Holy Spirit so sin does not harbor in his heart. Once the Holy Spirit reminds you about the liberating truth of God’s Word you must immediately be honest with God through an honest confession.
2 Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. 3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah 5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD “- and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah Psa. 32:2-5, NIV 1984
3. Joseph Prince teaches that 1 John 1:9 is meant for Gnostic unbelievers not for Christian believers. Is this accurate?
This teaching of Joseph Prince is one of the most controversial one because no Christian scholar and theologian who have faithfully studied the Scripture for many years will agree with his opinion over this particular passage. This is how he said it in Chapter Nine of his book Destined To Reign stating, “People have taken this verse [1 Jn 1:9] and built a whole doctrine around it when actually, chapter 1 of 1 John was written to the Gnostics who were unbelievers.” He believes that a Christian believer need not confess his sins to God since he has already been forgiven past, present, and future. According to him, a believer should not live from “confession to confession, but from faith to faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work.” Prince could not see the importance of a believer confessing his sins before God. He also had a wrong connection between confession and God’s forgiveness of a believer from past, present, and future. In his mind, a believer thinks divine punishment awaits him once he does not confess his sins to Him. If this is the case, then the believer should not confess in the sense of asking His forgiveness, but rather “being open with God.” It is like “being honest about your failure and your humanity.” But is this what confession really means in the Scripture’s context?
I fully agree that a believer has been forgiven by God through Jesus Christ blood past, present and future. However, this truth does not mean we are no longer to confess our sins before Him. In fact, once we confess our sins to God, we are made fully aware of 1 John 1:9′s liberating power because His forgiveness is always non-stop and overflowing. The Greek word katharizo for “will forgive” is in the dynamic sense which is “continuous cleansing.” The word “confession” came from a compound Greek word, that is,homologeo which literally means “same word.” When a believer sins, he is never convicted by the Holy Spirit but rather reminded of the Word of God and guided into all truth. He was only convicted once by the Holy Spirit when he was still an unbeliever. When he became a child of God the role of the Holy Spirit immediately change. (See Jn. 16:8; 14:26; 16:13) The one who convicts to condemn, accuse, and make us feel guilty is the enemy of our souls. (See Zech. 3:1; Rom. 8:1; Rev. 12:10; Heb. 10:22) In order for us to outwit Satan and his demons, we have to approach God’s throne of grace boldly telling Him exactly (“same word”) how we sinned without rationalizing nor defending ourselves. (See 2 Cor. 2:10,11; Heb. 4:16) This practice of confessing our sins does not only make a believer humble but even releases him from callous hearts, condemnation, accusation, feeling of guilt, and even possible body ailments leading to physical death. This kind of physical death happened to some Corinthian believers when they did not examine themselves during the partaking of the Lord’s Supper. (See Psa. 73:7; 1 Cor. 11:28-30)
Millions of people today pay hundreds of thousands of dollars just to visit a psychologist to listen to their internal problems. Amazingly, the Lord is always prepared to listen to your problems and mistakes if you will openly acknowledge your sins before Him. (See Isa. 1:18) The author of Hebrews says a believer should not give the devil a foothold (a place, a spot, or an occupancy). Once he does, then the Lord will surely step-in to discipline those He loves. (See Eph. 4:26-27; Heb. 12:6) Every believer must ask God to test and examine him daily, so he can confess his sins. (See Psa. 139:23, 24) Unfortunately, Joseph Prince built a doctrine around his very own interpretation of 1 John 1:9 as if he has discovered a “corner of the truth.”
Having studied carefully some of the theological problems of Joseph Prince’s so-called “radical grace” teachings it is my firm conviction (or belief) that I could not endorse his ministry as a safe haven for every Christian believer. Some sincere believers see the teachings of Joseph Prince as applicable only in his own cultural context since Singaporeans are loaded with legalism and work. I beg to disagree. His error lies more on a theological malpractice. A believer who continuously listens to his teachings will eventually pass on his false interpretation to many young believers. Again, I am not here to judge his heart and motive, but rather his theological doctrines. Is it possible to judge righteously? Yes! Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” (Jn. 7:24) We need to study the Word of God dividing (interpreting) it correctly so we can pass on and deposit the truth into the hearts of every person through discipleship. Let’s avoid raising up more Joseph Prince’s who had unfortunate experiences in the past because of leaders who does not know how to handle the Scripture correctly. This is no longer about Joseph Prince but about God’s Word that must be handled accurately. In fact, there is nothing “radical” about God’s grace because God’s grace in the first place has been already amazing and wonderful because of Jesus Christ who is full of grace and truth. (See Jn. 1:14)
Do your best to present yourself to God as a tried-and-true worker who isn’t ashamed to teach the word of truth correctly. 2 Tim. 2:15, God’s Word Translation
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now I see. - John Newton (1725-1807)