A Thorough Refutation of the False-Grace Heresy of Joseph Prince Part 2
by Pastor Chace Gordon
“Let’s not build a whole doctrine on one verse. If confession of sins is vital for your forgiveness, then Apostle Paul, who wrote two-thirds of the New Testament, has done us a great injustice because he did not mention it even once—not once—in any of his letters to the church.”
Chapter 9, page 107
NOTE: First, we dismissed the Old Testament as relevant for doctrine; then we dismissed Jesus and the gospels as relevant for doctrine; now we dismiss the relevancy of John on the simple grounds that John is NOT Paul, the apostle of grace. At this rate, we can eventually dismiss the whole Bible because we spend so much time disqualifying its relevancy of application from one portion to another, we might as well join the Mormon church!
Do we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God or don’t we? Do we believe the books of the Bible are flawless and in perfect harmony together or don’t we? Then let us STOP suggesting that the vast majority of the Bible, including the gospels and other New Testament writers, are out of step with the Pauline revelation!
But for the sake of clarity, Paul taught the same doctrine as Jesus and John. When we talk about confession of sins, we are talking about repentance. This is not a separate and unusual doctrine that Paul omitted because it wasn’t relevant. Paul taught and demonstrated the doctrine of repentance throughout his letters and the Book of Acts. He referred to the doctrine of repentance as foundational doctrine for believers. He categorized it as “milk”, as “elementary”, as “first principle” (see Hebrews 5:11-6:1). There are plenty of both Old and New Testament verses that confirm the clear link between confession of sin and repentance.
On the same token, if confession of sins is NOT vital for forgiveness, then Apostle Paul, who wrote two-thirds of the New Testament, has done us a great injustice because he did not mention it even once—not once—in any of his letters to the church! Of course, for him to do so, would have been contrary to all other scripture, and therefore, uninspired by God.
“When there were people in the Corinthian church living in sin, he [Paul] did not say, ‘Go and confess your sins.’ Instead, he reminded them of their righteousness, saying, ‘Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?’ Notice that in spite of their sins, Paul still considered them temples of the Holy Spirit and he reminded them of this truth.”
Chapter 9, page 107
NOTE: Paul was not reminding them of their righteousness—they weren’t (Is this hard?). He was reminding them of their purpose. He was reminding them they were made to actually be righteous.
“When we understand this verse [I John 1:7], we realize that even when we sin, we sin in the realm of light! So, if we sin in the light, we are cleansed in the light, and we are kept in the light. This idea of us going into darkness when we sin is not from the Bible.”
Chapter 9, page 108
NOTE: The idea of us going into darkness when we sin CAME FROM THE BIBLE!
Let’s read the aforementioned passages together (including the skipped over verse 8):
“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”—I John 1:7-9
It says, “if we walk in the light as He is in the light…” This means walking in the light AS CHRIST WALKS in the light. Does Christ walk in sin in the light? I don’t think so! What are these verses saying? When you walk in the light, you are cleansed by the blood of Jesus! If you have not dealt with sin because you deny its presence (or a false grace teacher tells you to ignore it), you are self-deceived. However, if and when you do sin, you are cleansed through confessing it (a.k.a.—repentance).
“Did you know that even the word “cleanses” in I John 1:7 is really beautiful? In the Greek, the tense for the word “cleanse” denotes a present and continuous action, which means that from the moment you receive Christ, the blood of Jesus keeps on cleansing you. It is as if you are under a waterfall of His forgiveness. Even when you fail, this waterfall never stops. It keeps on keeping on, cleansing you from ALL your sins and unrighteousness.”
Chapter 9, pages 108-109
NOTE: Admittedly, I am no expert on Greek—especially Greek verb tenses. However, I have no problem with the idea of the blood of Jesus providing perpetual cleansing. I would even tend to agree with Joseph Prince that the cleansing in verse 7 is different from the cleansing in verse 9. The problem lies in the notion that being perpetually cleansed means perpetually sinning. I’m not sure “waterfall of perpetual forgiveness” is how I would describe this verse’s meaning either.
The best way I could describe the different types of cleansing here is: one type of cleansing is for falling into sin; the other type of cleansing is for staying free from sin. Even though I believe through the power of grace I can stop sinning, I still live in a world corrupted through sin—and I need the blood of Jesus to keep me from falling. I need to keep my mind renewed by the washing of the Word; I need to fellowship with God through prayer; I need to fellowship with people of like-faith; etc. etc. We are cleansed people who for the time being, live in a very dirty environment that permeates all of the five senses. We need the blood of Jesus to keep the filth out of our hearts and minds. This doesn’t make us sinners; it just means we need spiritual maintenance.
“In I John 2:1, John addressed the believers as ‘My little children’…and went on to say, ‘These things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ.’ Notice that John did not tell the believers, ‘If anyone sins, make sure that he confesses his sins.’ No, his solution for a believer who sins is to point him to the finished work of Jesus.”
NOTE: This is misleading. Notice our Advocate is a Person, not an event. Also note that Jesus did not die on a cross to save us from the act of repentance.
“Did the cross make a difference or not? Jesus Christ has already delivered all believers from the covenant of law which condemns.”
Chapter 10, page 117
NOTE: Jesus Christ did not die on the cross to save us from the Old Testament that God Himself authored.
“For generations, the church has believed that by preaching the Ten Commandments, we will produce holiness. When we see sin on the increase, we start to preach more of the law. But the Word of God actually says that “the strength of sin is the law.” It also says that “sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace”. So the power for the church to overcome sin is actually found in being under grace and not in reinforcing the law. Preaching more of the law to counteract sin is like adding wood to the fire!”
Chapter 10, page 121
NOTE: Chapter ten is actually the best chapter so far at describing the differences between “law” and “grace”; however, many of the inferences concerning the law are not accurate.
Sample false inference: “Since the law of Moses was referred to in II Corinthians 3:7-9 as the ministry of death and condemnation, THEN teaching the law will bring people into bondage, make them sin more, etc.”
A few additional points about the law (see my comments under quote #1 & quote #9):
(1) While the law of Moses is no longer in force, the laws of the kingdom ARE IN FORCE! In addition, virtually ALL of the moral law of the Old Testament is included in the new covenant (with the exception of keeping the Sabbath which was ceremonial law—but even in the case of the Sabbath, the spiritual and moral principles behind keeping the Sabbath are still passed on in the new covenant). Actually, in the New Testament we are given 1050 commands for New Testament Christians to obey! (See Dake study Bible, under heading “New Testament Commands for complete list). Therefore, it is a misunderstanding of the covenant of grace to believe the teaching of “law” brings bondage and causes us to sin more.
(2) There is a vast difference between not being “under the law” and being “without the law”. Being under grace does not mean we are exempt from obeying laws. It means we are not under penalty of the law because grace enables us to KEEP the law!
It is not presumption to believe we can keep the laws God gave us. It is presumption to believe God gave us laws we could not fulfill since He gave us His grace to fulfill them!
(3) Even though the law of Moses is obsolete because a new contract has been written, the law is still used to convert the sinner before grace is extended!
- Consider the words of Jesus to the Pharisees in John 9:39: “…I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.” Why did Jesus add that last part about making those who see blind first?—Because if a man will not recognize his own blindness; he cannot be made to see. The law is that which God uses to kill before new life can come! (Also see Galatians 2:19)
- Consider I Peter 5:5b: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” So if God Himself REFUSES to give the gospel/good news of grace to everyone; but ONLY gives grace to the humble, what does that mean? It means that if pride is in your heart, God will not reveal His grace to you until you are made humble first! What tool then does God use to humble the proud to find grace and repentance? THE LAW!
- Consider these quotes:
- “The true function of the law is to accuse and kill; but the function of the gospel is to make alive.”—Martin Luther
- “Although the law serves as a guide to genuine believers, its primary function is to kill and destroy self-righteousness. All hope in our good works must be put to death if we are ever to depend on Jesus, who alone can bring life. The law brings that necessary death.”—Kirk Cameron (even the guy from “Growing Pains” gets this!) J
- “The unsaved are in no condition today for the Gospel till the Law be applied to their hearts, for ‘by the Law is the knowledge of sin.’ It is a waste of time to sow seed on ground that has never been ploughed or spaded! To present the vicarious sacrifice of Christ to those whose dominant passion is to take fill of sin is to give that which is holy to the dogs.”—A.W. Pink
- “He that sows without a plow will reap without a sickle. He who preaches the gospel without preaching the Law may hold all the results of it in his hand, and there will be little for him to hold.”—Charles Spurgeon
- “You must preach the Law, for the gospel is a silken thread, and you cannot get it into the hearts of men unless you have made a way for it with a sharp needle; the sharp needle of the Law will pull the silken thread of the gospel after it.”—Robbie Flockhart
(4) Knowing the law of the Lord (a.k.a. the Bible) helps us grow in our relationship with God and have better discernment for the spiritual battles we face. As Paul told us in II Timothy 4:3 concerning the last days, “the time would come when men would not endure sound doctrine.” Since one of the greatest tools of Satan in the last days will be deceiving people away from sound doctrine, can we not see the dangers of ignoring HUGE portions of the scripture because they talk about laws? This is NOT studying to show ourselves approved (II Timothy 2:15)! Must we continue to insist that people who stick with the scriptures for doctrine are “legalists”? To quote a frequently used phrase from Pastor Prince, “Come on!” Can we really better keep the spirit of the law by ignoring the letter altogether?
If David could wax eloquent in the Psalms about loving the law of the Lord, keeping His commandments, meditating on them day and night, etc. Why can’t we love God’s laws too—ESPECIALLY in the age of grace!
(5) II Timothy 3:15-17
- The source of equipment for all end-time believers is the entire Bible
- All scripture is given
- Either the whole Bible is the Word of God, or the whole Bible is wrong! We cannot pick and choose and say that the writers of certain passages missed God, while the writers of other passages were right on! That’s arrogance, deception, and frustrates the spirit of Grace!
- The whole Bible is flawless in context and in perfect harmony, there are no contradictions, only misconceptions; it takes a man who doesn’t know the Holy Spirit to confuse something so simple and so direct!
- By inspiration of God—every book in the Bible was planned and directed of God
- Profitable for doctrine—all Scripture interprets and supports all other scripture; there are no scriptures that are contradictory, only misinterpreted; all scripture forms the basis of our belief system; all scripture may be used to convince men of truth
- Profitable for reproof—all scripture provides evidence of truth
- Profitable for correction—all scripture exposes deception and wickedness, as well as lays out consequences and guides to righteousness
- Profitable for instruction in righteousness—all scripture provides a guide for daily Christian living
- Completion of the man of God—all scripture in proper application brings us to perfection
- Full equipment for every good work—all scripture and its understanding will produce demonstrations of the spirit and of power
“When dealing with any problem in life, we want to get to its root…The world has found that many sicknesses and diseases are linked to a root called stress…The world has also identified fear as the root cause of stress…The Lord showed me a root that was deeper than stress and fear…The Lord showed me that the deepest root is condemnation.”
Chapter 11, pages 129-131
The Bible teaches that there is an even DEEPER root than that! For after all, what causes condemnation? SIN!!!
To quote something I heard my dad once say, “Condemnation is the ‘stink’ of sin.”
Ignoring the sin-problem to focus on the condemnation-problem is like spraying Febreeze instead of taking out the trash!
I don’t mean to belittle the problem of condemnation; but let’s examine the source of it as well.
Is condemnation a real problem in the church? You bet it is! I’ll tell you why in a nutshell: cheap grace & ineffective altar calls.
Consider this quote taken from a theology textbook I researched at a local university:
“One of the most important changes in Evangelical life in the 20th century has been the consistent loss of the centrality of the experience of repentance. Perhaps this is a point at which evangelicals have been influenced by the liberal tendency to downplay sinfulness and to emphasize the positive aspects of human ability, but 20th century evangelicals have tended to press unconverted persons to an immediate experience of conversion, in which there is little or no room for the extended period of repentance that characterized earlier evangelicalism. Some evangelicals, concerned with the contemporary renewal of interest in Christian spirituality, have lamented the loss of the place of repentance in the way of salvation and have worked to restore a balanced understanding of repentance as significant to evangelical life.”
Christian Confessions by Ted Campbell, p. 230
In short, we’ve minimized the importance of repentance in our evangelistic efforts and are reaping the consequences from that negligence. Our churches are full of people who struggle with condemnation primarily because our churches are full of people who struggle with sin. Faith without repentance is nothing more than mental ascent—and mental ascent will leave you in a condemned state.
So how does one deal with the problem of condemnation? It’s found in II Corinthians 7:9-11:
“Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”
These verses are powerful! They tell us two very important things:
(1) Godly sorrow leading to repentance is the antidote to condemnation!
(2) Conversely, rejection of godly sorrow is a major factor in why people lose their passion for God! Which incidentally, rejection of godly sorrow is also a major factor in why people turn away from sound doctrine and run to “itching ear” preachers!
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A Thorough Refutation of the False-Grace Heresy of Joseph Prince Part 3