CharismaNews has just published an article entitled “Some honest questions for Joseph Prince.”
In it Michael Brown puts 11 questions to “Pastor Prince and those who embrace the modern grace message.” My good friend Paul Ellis did an article to answer his questions. Some of you have suggested that I do the same.
Some of you would note Dr. Brown referred to one of my articles in his book “the Dangers of Hyper-Grace” and labelled Joseph Prince a heretic.
So heck, what better opportunity to set things right. Right? Lol
Besides Paul in his goodness of heart saw the “injustice” and set things right in his book: The Hyper-grace gospel and was so kind to mention me.
Below are shortened versions of Michael’s eleven questions along with my brief responses to each.
1. Does God require anything from you as his child, other than receive his grace? If so, are there spiritual benefits that come through obeying these requirements and spiritual losses that come from ignoring them?
Other than Paul’s mention of spiritual blessings in Ephesians 1:3 that tells us that every spiritual blessing comes to us through Christ, there is only one more mention of spiritual blessings in the Sciptures. It is here.
They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.
In both situations it is given to us because of what Jesus did. Not us.
2. Is it possible for us to displease the Lord? Is he always pleased with us? Can we grieve the Holy Spirit?
Yes, you can grieve and insult the Spirit. However where we don’t agree with you is how. You argue the Spirit is grieved by us sinning.
Scripture does not say that. The way to grieve the Spirit is actually, by not ministering grace and telling a believer he has yet to be fully forgiven and has to do something to be forgiven.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Notice that God forgave you because of Christ’s sake.
Note God does not forgive you base on your request or your confession.
Also you insult the Spirit by treating the blood of Jesus as common blood. The context here is blood of the bulls and goats.
How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?
What this simply means is that you deem Jesus blood as insufficient to secure your salvation and that you have to ask for forgiveness on a yearly basis. “Unholy” in the context means “Common”. Common blood is the blood of bulls and goats. They secure your forgiveness for only a year.
3. If the Lord always sees you as perfect, is there any way for you to disappoint him? I’ve heard it said that we can only grieve or disappoint him by not trusting his grace, but according to your message, hasn’t that sin been forgiven as well?
I think I have answered your question in the answer above. Grieving the Spirit is not a sin under the Law. Rather it is a relational issue. You cannot grieve someone who is in it for the long haul. In the case of the Spirit, he does not leave you. It is his job to convince you how complete the work of Jesus is.
4. If God has pronounced your future sins forgiven in the same way he has pronounced your past sins forgiven, why do Paul and other New Testament writers address these very sins in their letters? Why does God bring our present sins up to us in the New Testament, even warning us about the dangers of walking in those sins, if they have also been forgiven and forgotten in advance?
As Paul Ellis rightly pointed out to you. God has chosen not to remember your sins. However, he does not want us to forget who we already are.
And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
We are already holy people. To live in sin is to live outside of who we are. To lose our identity. To live below the worthiness of our calling.
5a. A leading hyper-grace teacher claims that the doctrine of progressive sanctification is a “spiritually murderous lie”…
I will just produce and adopt Paul Ellis’s answer here.
“Clark Whitten makes this claim (on page 28 of his excellent book Pure Grace) and I agree with him. The “saved by grace but perfected by human effort” teaching has produced a church that is, in Whitten’s words, “judgmental, angry, hopeless, helpless, dependent, fearful, uninspired, ineffective, and perpetually spiritually immature.” He’s right. The idea that sanctification is something we produce is a stone cold grace-killer.”
5b. If “progressive sanctification” simply means to walk out our holiness with the help of the Spirit, what is so dangerous about this teaching?
There is nothing dangerous about it, except your idea of “progressive sanctification” is different from we understand it. You deemed it an incomplete process and we have participate in that work.
You are right but you are also wrong. The Scriptures always speaks about us as already being sanctified.
For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
Yet it speaks about the Spirit keeping us sanctified. So there is no human element here.
6. We agree that the Holy Spirit never condemns us for our sins as believers, but does he ever make us uncomfortable when we sin?
I think Paul’s answer is simply brilliant and funny. This is what he said “Jesus called him the Comforter, not the Discomforter, so I guess not (John 14:16). I have written elsewhere on how God deals with us when we sin.”
The Bible rather says he convicts of what Jesus did for us. Hence he convicts of his imputed righteousness.
7. We agree that we do not need to confess every sin we commit each day in order to “stay saved,” but is any type of confession and request for forgiveness appropriate? For example, is it appropriate for believers to say, “Father, I’m sorry for sinning and I ask you to wash me clean”?
We have never said that confession is wrong. Rather we tell people, if you keep asking for something that is already done for you, is actually not living in the Liberty that Jesus purchase you for.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
However when we begin to teach people that, if you do not confess your sins God will forfeit your salvation or cut you off from fellowship from him, it is simply untrue. The “sinning willfully” quoted in Hebrews 10 is simply speaking about treating the blood of Jesus like that of bulls and goats. It is not saying, that if you were to ask for confession it becomes sin, rather it becomes ‘sin” to say that the blood of Jesus is only but a yearly relief.
Further, why do we keep asking us to make us clean when the Word has already said:
Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.”?
Sin is already done away with.
8. I know that you are against certain types of self-examination lest you become “sin conscious”… (But) if I understand you correctly, you would question the salvation of someone who demonstrated no change of life and continued to walk in unrepentant sin. But doesn’t this mean that, on some level, you are looking at your “performance” to verify your salvation?
Jesus told us that unless you abide with me, you cannot bear fruit.
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
What this passage actually teach is that it is the vine that would cause the branch to bear fruit.
So here Jesus is the Vine. We are the branches. Our performances cannot bear fruit. It is Jesus who causes fruit and change of life in us.
Hence it is not performance but union.
9. Do you think there’s any danger in claiming that the teachings of Jesus before the cross don’t apply to us as believers today?
This is due to a failure to understand that Jesus came at a time where there was going to be a change of covenants. As he began to teach, he would speak to crowds who would used the law to promote themselves by using that standard (the law) to judge them.
Yet when he was with sinners he would be gracious to them. Context is everything.
Jesus himself shows this itself in his teaching.
When teaching on vows, Jesus tells the Jews to do the following instead of doing what was being taught in Numbers and Leviticus.
“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.
And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.
All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Notice he says “it is from the evil one?”
What Jesus is saying here is: as times passes, people change, societies change. Hence even laws must change. Surely, we cannot accuse Jesus of saying what was mentioned in Numbers and Leviticus about oath keeping, is from the evil one.
10. What does it mean to walk in the fear of the Lord? What do you make of verses like this: “And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear… (1 Pet. 1:17).
So what is Peter trying to say? Is he saying you are not holy or that you are still in a state of sin? Is he saying that you have to labor to be holy?
Let’s look at some of the things he says.
1 Peter 1:1
1 To God’s ELECT, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,
1 Peter 1:2
2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying WORK of the SPIRIT, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood:
1 Peter 1:3
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has GIVEN us NEW BIRTH into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1 Peter 1:9
9 for you ARE receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
(Note you ARE receiving not you MAY be receiving)
Now note what he says after the injunction to “be holy”.
1 Peter 1:22
22 Now that you have PURIFIED yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.
1 Peter 1:23
23 For you HAVE been born again, not of perishable seed, but of IMPERISHABLE, through the living and enduring word of God.
1 Peter 2:2-3
2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
(Note he says that you may grow up in your ALREADY INHERITED salvation and that they HAVE tasted the Lord is good.)
So what is the “fear” we should have? Not fear of being destroyed but fear of already knowing how safe you are!!!
This fear as such is reverence and awe.
11. Do you see any possible danger in emphasizing that it is impossible for a believer to lose his or her salvation? On a practical level, do you feel it’s important to add any scriptural caveats to your teaching of eternal security and, if so, how can you do this without putting an emphasis on “performance”?
In reply to you, I wish to quote the greatest preacher of all time. Charles Spurgeon.
“No doctrine is so calculated to preserve a man from sin as the doctrine of the grace of God.
Those who have called it ‘a licentious doctrine’ did not know anything about it.
Poor ignorant things, they little knew that their own vile stuff was the most licentious doctrine under heaven.
If they knew the grace of God in truth, they would soon see that there is no preservative from lying like a knowledge that we are elect of God from the foundation of the world.
There is nothing like a belief in my eternal perseverance, and the immutability of my Father’s affection, which can keep me near to Him from a motive of simple gratitude.”
That’s his secret to a successful ministry in the conversion of souls.
That is also Pastor Prince’s ministry. That is why I believe he is on the right track.
Grace and peace to you all.
Post Script: Dr Brown actually published a rebuttal to Paul Ellis’s article. Here’s my joinder to that article: https://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/comments-on-dr-browns-rebuttal-to-paul-elliss-defense-of-joseph-princes-message/