2016-02-29

Understanding the "Radical" Grace Message of Joseph Prince

The radial grace message of Joseph Prince invited many criticisms from some of his Singapore churches in the earlier days and now from the US churches since he is very famous there. It took me some time of listening to his weekly and mid-week sermons to fully appreciate his 'radical' grace message. Not that his message is correct in all aspects, but rather, we are encouraged to filter out the bad and only take in the good part of any message. A sinner needs not more condemnation to repent but rather an unconditional love for and acceptance of him and the grace empowerment to overcome the sinful acts. It is grace that breaks the bondage of sin and give the freedom to glorify God.
A Child Upbringing - To Punish or Love ? It is both in the right order.

A pastor shared his touching story of a childhood experience.

As a child, he stole from the family shared piggy bank to buy food and things for friends to gain acceptance and popularity. He stealing was discovered one day by his parents. His father gave him a hard caning. However, he was surprised that the next day, his parents brought him to a restuarant to have the food he liked.

His father told him that despite the canning they still love him much. The canning was for correcting his bad act. They want to assure him that he was loved and valuable to them.

What do you think of the Father's behavior?
Is that the way you would follow to discipline your child?

Please analyse the situation carefully. If you discover a wrongful, what will you be doing?
If you ignore the stealing, the child grow up thinking that it is ok to steal so long as you have a good reason.

If you just do the beating without the subsequent assurance of love and acceptance, the child may grow-up to be insecure and even rebellous.

Often times, the consequences of a wrong act will be good enough as the disciplining action. Additional beating or scolding will over-disciplining. e.g. a child over-ate and suffered stomach upset or get sick. The consequence of pains as long as he understood the cause of his pains, is a good enough discipline. Over doing discipline will cause rebellion or self-condemnation.
  • Eph 6:4 AMP Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with lovingkindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
  • Colossians 3:21 (AMP) Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or exasperate your children [with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by favoritism or indifference; treat them tenderly with lovingkindness], so they will not lose heart andbecome discouraged or unmotivated [with their spirits broken].
What has that got to do with the Bible teaching of Law of Grace?
We are like child that commit sinful acts. By knowing the Law, we know what is right and wrong. After we know right and wrong and then did something wrong, what should we do? What should be
the best way to put us back on the right path?

If we know we sin, then more condemnation does not help. (Of course, if we are like David, who thought he did not commit adultery and murder with Besheba, then he needed a Nathan to tell him).

Will condemnation help? Will more punishment help? 

Devil is very good at this accusations and condemnation. If devil could accused and condemn you to get you accept that it was you that was bad and not the act, then you will give up the fight and behave like what the devil accused you of.

The Law can only show you that you sin. The devil and your guilt will accuse you and condemn you for that sin. What can you do? Nothing. It is only Who can help you! You need the assurance of love from someone that is close to you, like the Father to the child of the above story. You need to remember of your identity as Child of God, and be assured of His love still for you. With the secured of love and identity, you can then bold face up to the sins that you committed and call it rightly as a sin. But know that you are not the sinful but righteous in standing because of Christ and can boldly standup to face the consequence and take steps to make good.

Of course, the best way is not to sin at first. That's why Paul tell us to gaurd our mind with pure, truth and praise worhty thoughts. Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

That is the key of the grace message of Joseph Prince though he seemed to preach in such as way as to confuse people to criticize him as ultra-grace preacher (ultra-grace is grace as licence to sin).

Grace is not ignoring the sins but rather admitting it as sins and drawing upon Christ's forgiveness, restoration and grace empowerment to live the life that one should.

The best way to get people to admit and to realise their sinfulness is not more condemnation but rather showing of love and acceptance of the persons and not the sinful acts. For example, Zacchaeus in the bible(Luke 19:1-10), was convicted of his sins, simply from Jesus' show of acceptance that he would like to come to his house to have dinner with him!

If you want someone to change, accept him first and earns the right to show him his weaknesses. Grace and Truth comes together but it is grace first and then the truth. Without grace, we will only give accuses to deny our sins .... what else could we do if we are to show our face in front of others?

Hope we can practise this "grace then truth" way of dealing with people.

Law and Grace - Rightly Dividing the Words - The Motivation for Obeying the Law
Joseph Prince's grace had been accused by many as the ultra-grace or antinomianism, lawless grace, grace as license to sins. We need to go deeper to find the finer points of a statement when it looks contradictory.  Since Jesus has taken the curse of the Law and paid the debt of our sins, then we no longer need to follow the Law. On the surface, it looks like are indeed given a license to sin whenever and whatever without condemnation. However, if you do deeper, it actually means we don't have to follow the Law to gain our justification because we have been justified by Christ through faith. When we receive Christ's salvation, we actually acknowledge that the Law is good, we are sinful, we cannot help ourselves, and we want Christ's to forgive and transform us. Christ said he came to fulfill and not to do away with Law. The Law always remain the standard of right and wrong no matter what we do or do not. We want Christ's grace so that we can do what the Law want. Grace is the empowerment given to us to do what we should. As a transformed person, with the Love of Christ in us, we actually surpass the requirement of the Law. So now, we obey the Law automatically because of our new nature. By following our new nature in Christ, the Law of Love and of the Spirit, we surpass the Law requirement.

The motivation of our obedience to the Law is very important.  Consider a rich man giving money to charity. If his motivation is to gain respect and reputation as a kind person, then is his giving really an act of love? It is more like a business transaction - giving money in exchange for fame. As new creation, the child of God, we will automatically follow the Law, because our new nature is love. We do not obey the Law to gain justification because we are already justified. We obey the Law unknowingly and automatically because we are only acting out of our new nature.  As Jesus said, we follow not the letter but the spirit of the Law, which is a much higher standard.  
  • See Matthew 5:27-28 (AMP) 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who [so much as] looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
  • Matthew 5:21-22  (NKJV) Murder Begins in the Heart21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause[b] shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.
Grace Gospel is not about making a man good or better, but rather is about making a dead man alive. We are dead in our sinful self. It is not that we cannot do anything good. We sure can, But there is this sin within us that we need to die to and be given a new life. This new nature of life is very important. A monkey can behave like a man. A parrot can speak like a man. But they remain monkey and parrot in their nature. Unless we be given a new life, a rebirth, we cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. 

This does not mean that we will not sin anymore, but rather we will not purposely sin and sin. Those taking grace as license to sin does not understand grace and is not rebirth and will remain in their sins. When the new man sins. The devil will be quick to condemn him and his own conscience will accuse him too. Unless he is deceived, he will know that he sins and will repent. He needs to come boldly to the throne of grace, to obtain mercy and find grace to help in his time of need (Heb 4:16).

What is the differene between Peter and John? Peter said he would die for Jesus and yet denied him three times. John who said he was beloved of Jesus was found to be with Jesus even under the cross of Jesus. That's is the key radical grace of Joseph Prince's message - Focus of being loved unconditioally by Jesus that you may live a victorious and God glorifying life. The power is in experiencing the love of Jesus for you.

See also Grace, Law and Joseph Prince's Preaching
To have a more in-depth and balanced view of this issue, please read the following articles from Tim Keller ....The Gospel - Key to Change and the 15 applications in The Centrality of the Gospel.

Have a fruitful and fully rested and charged up weekend.

Lim Liat (c) 29 Feb 2016

2016-02-25

Grace, Law and Joseph Prince's Preaching

Listening with the discerning mindset and get the maximum from Joseph Prince's pod cast on Grace & Law and the Power to live a victorious life without sinning.
The New Commandment:
Here is a recent pod cast from Joseph Prince on Laws and Grace, #431 - Are There Commandments Under Grace? As typical of his message, it was a very encouraging one. It emphasised that the new commandment under grace is in 1Jn 3:23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. The Love-God of the OT becomes "Believing in His Son Jesus Christ" with Prince adding especially of Jesus' love for us. This shift of emphasis from "We love" to "Believe in His love for us" is very important. As can be seen from the story of Peter and John. Peter, the one who claimed his love for Jesus ended up denying Him three times. John, the one who claimed Jesus' love for him, ended up at the foot of the cross of Jesus receiving instruction to care for Jesus' mother. It is with this Love of Christ that we are to love one-another. (see Platinum Rule - Loves as Jesus - NT Extends OT).

The Potential Misunderstanding:
The new commandment was preached that it was opposite the old commandments, with of Moses especially mentioned, in comparison to Jesus Christ. But, did Moses come out with the commandments himself or were they from God, the Father of Jesus Christ? Saying that it is opposite to the ten commandments could create the misunderstanding that under grace, laws can be throw away and violated without any consequences (those are typical criticisms and accusations laid against Joseph Prince's preaching).

The Clarification:
The commandments were given to reveal sins (Romans 7:7) and were not for men to achieve righteousness by himself (Rom 3:20, Gal 2:16). As man was unable, God gave His Son, as redemption and new birth, under grace to enable man to surpass the Laws requirement. Grace is not just a redemption for sins but actually it is the power to enable man to live the life that is pleasing to God. (See Christianity Rediscovered: "Grace is Unmerited Favor" - This Common Definition is Wrong). Jesus came to fulfill the Law (Mat 5:17) "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. Of course, by fulfilling them, in a way do away with the Law, but only in the specify area of "justification by the works of the Law".

Grace comes Before the Law:
When was the Law given? It was given after the Jews were delivered from slavery. They were first freed (grace given) and then given the Law in the desert. What was the purpose of the Law? It was for the Jews to show the world that they are different. Circumcision was given to show they were different. The Law is their branding of God's people. God's people must exhibit Godly behavior. So, as in the New Testament of Grace, the Old Testament also starts with grace. God is the God of the Old and New testaments and He changes not. Abraham was accepted and counted righteous by faith before the Law. So, new testament does not do away with the Law, but rather, men were given grace, at their wish, to enable and empower them to exceeds the requirement of the Law. From man's effort to God's Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit within, to exceed the Law. And the behavior is seen in loving one another with the Love of Jesus Christ within and experienced.

The sinful man who want to find excuse in grace as a licence to sin shows that he does not understand grace and will be condemned for his sins. There are no escape and excuse. For grace is for us to overcome sin and not to ignore sins. If he follows his sinful flesh, he will die in his sins.

Law is Our Branding and a Bottom Line Check List
The Law is actually an attribute of God and a branding for God's people. It is a minimum check list. For the Law requirement is surpassed by Love. If we wilfully violate law, we have to ask ourselves, are we children of God? Children of God must behave like their Father.  If we say we could not, then the 'new' commandment, with emphasis, is to believe and experience the Love of Jesus. With His love, with his empowerment, we can do all things through Him who loves us.

  • Philippians 4:13 - I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
  • Gal 3:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Believe in the Love of Christ and live the victorious life freed from sins. This is the key message of Joseph Prince's pod cast.

Lim Liat (c) 25 Feb 2016

2016-02-06

The Benefits and The Content of Wisdom - Proverbs 24

Wisdom accomplishes and gives you a good future. But what is its content? How can one be wise to live the good life? Proverbs 24 gives us the details.

The Mind-Map of Proverbs 24


I The Benefits Brought by Wisdom & Knowledge

Wisdom Builds
  • Houses - Know and Plan 1st then Build
    • a house is built, and by understanding it is established; Pro 24:3
    • by knowledge, the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. Pro 24:4

  • Victory - Get guidance from many people
    • for by wise guidance you can wage your war
    • and in abundance of counselors there is victory. Pro 24:6
  • Strength - A wise man is full of strength,
    • a man of knowledge enhances his might, Pro 24:5 
    • Adversity builds strength
    • If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Pro 24:10
    • for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity. Pro 24:16 -Down but Not Out - Try again but do it differently
  • Like Honey - Joy in Learning
  • My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Pro 24:13
  • Future & Hope - Better future begins with  learning a new skill now
  • Pro 24:14 Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.
II What is Wisdom?

Wisdom Is
  • Fear The Lord & The King
    Obey God & The Authority and do not join with those who do otherwise, Pro 24:21
  • Keep the right friends - Wrong friends bring sudden disastersfor disaster will arise suddenly from them, and who knows the ruin that will come from them both? Pro 24:22
  • On Evil Men  & How to handle them
  • 1 Be not envious of Their temporary wealth Prov 24:1, 19
  • 2 Fret not Pro 24:19 Their ending will come
    • for the evil man has no future;
    • the lamp of the wicked will be put out. Pro 24:20
  • 3 Nor desire to be with them, Pro 24:1Don't mix with them because they are:
    • devise violence Pro 24:2, 8 talk of trouble. Pro 24:2
    • against the dwelling of the righteous; violence to his home; Pro 24:15
  • 4 Rebuke Wicked in the right way.
    Rebuke the wicked & there is hope.
    Fool however, cannot even be corrected.Prov 23:9, 26:4
    Don't correct a mocker either Prov 9:8
    • Do not side with wicked Pro 24:24
    • Rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them. Pro 24:25
  • On Fool
  • wisdom speak not to fool Pro 24:7
    (ESV) The devising of folly is sin, and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind. (GW) Foolish scheming is sinful, and a mocker is disgusting to everyone.Pro 24:9
     See To Answer or Not to Answer ? It all depends, on What?
  • Rescue - Share the Gospels
  • Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. Pro 24:11
    God knows & will repay man according to his work? Pro 24:12
  • On Enemy
  • Don't take revenge; Two evils don't make it right
    • Do not say, "I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done." Pro 24:29
  • Do not rejoice when your enemy falls Pro 24:17
    • lest the LORD see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him. Pro 24:18
  • Be Just
  • Partiality in judging is not good. Pro 24:23
  • Honesty
  • Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips. Pro 24:26
  • Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips. Pro 24:28
  • Plan & Prepare
  • Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house. Pro 24:27
  • Diligence
  • A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, Pro 24:33
Lim Liat (c) 6 Feb 2016