A Thorough Refutation of the False-Grace Heresy of Joseph Prince Part 4

Pastor Chace Gordon

by Pastor Chace Gordon

posted on August 23rd, 2013 at 10:01 AM

Quote #58:

“…many of us have the impression that repentance is something that involves mourning and sorrow.  However, that is not what the Word of God says.  Repentance just means changing your mind.”

Chapter 18, page 233

NOTE:  There is nothing wrong with defining “repentance” in simple terms; however, this is just SIMPLISTIC and a very poor characterization meant to belittle one of the most foundational Christian doctrines.  Repentance is an inward conversion that produces an outward change.  Speaking in terms of its application to the believer, it is inseparably linked to conversion.  It consists of four parts displayed over and over again in scripture:  humility, genuine sorrow, confession of sin, and turning from sin.  It means a reversal:  a total change in direction inwardly (different attitude, feelings, & way of thinking, a new heart condition and a change of will) with outward “fruits of repentance” (speaking and acting differently).

Perhaps one could refer to repentance as “a change of mind”; but that is really an inadequate definition considering how loosely we use that terminology today!  When I think of “a change of mind” I think of my wife picking out clothes.  That does nothing to help me understand repentance!

When the Old Testament prophets, or Jesus, or Paul, or the apostles, etc. were preaching “repentance”—they weren’t saying, “Hey!  God wants you to change your mind about stuff!”  NO!  They were saying, “HEY!  God wants you to CHANGE EVERYTHING by being joined to Him in total consecration!

Consider the following scriptural examples of repentance:

  • In connection to sorrow and mourning:  Isaiah 22:12; Ezekiel 18:31; Joel 2:12; Jeremiah 31:9; Matthew 5:4; Psalm 34:18; Joel 2:13; Luke 6:21;  II Kings 22:19; Ezra 10:1; Job 42:6; Jonah 3:6-8; Mark 14:72; II Corinthians 7:10; James 4:8-10
  • In connection with humility:  II Chronicles 7:14; I Samuel 7:3; Luke 15:18; I Kings 8:46-50; Psalm 34:18; I Kings 21:27; II Kings 22:19; Ezra 10:1; Job 42:6; Luke 15:21; Luke 18:13; Isaiah 66:2
  • In connection with confession of sin:  Hosea 14:12; Acts 8:22; Ezra 10:11; Proverbs 28:13; Jeremiah 3:13; I John 1:9; Leviticus 26:40; Numbers 5:7; Mark 1:15; Luke 5:8; Luke 15:18; I Kings 8:33-35; Ezra 10:1; Job 42:1, 6; Luke 15:21
  • In connection to both an inward and outward turn: Ezekiel 14:6; 33:11; Acts 3:19; Acts 26:20; James 4:8; II Chronicles 30:9; Nehemiah 1:9; Isaiah 55:7; Ezekiel 18:21; Zechariah 1:3

 

Quote #59:

“Believers are often exhorted to repent from sin.  However in the New Testament, we are actually exhorted to repent from dead works…It says in the book of Hebrews [Hebrews 6:1] that the first foundation stone of our faith is ‘repentance from dead works and of faith toward God’.  Now, ‘dead works’ are not sins.  They are the religious things that people do, thinking that by doing these things, they are gaining righteousness with God.”

Chapter 18, page 234

NOTE:  This is fascinating to me on two fronts: 

Front one:  Hebrews 5:11-6:2 is a fascinating topical study because within these verses are the core doctrines of both the Old and the New Testaments and the core problem of “dullness of hearing” regarding these subjects.

Front two:  The doctrine of repentance is listed of primary importance to conversion and its theme is echoed in hundreds of scriptures in both the old and new testaments.  In the hundreds of scriptures both old and new testament that this theme is echoed, it is dealing directly with the subject of sin. Yet Pastor Prince makes a fascinating and erroneous claim that dismisses the relevancy of repentance from sin as connected to this topic WHATSOEVER!

Herein lies the major question:  Is Pastor Prince’s interpretation of the doctrine of repentance from dead works having no correlation with repentance from sin correct?

I believe Pastor Prince’s interpretation to be spurious, reckless, misleading and completely FALSE based on the following points:

 (1)  The broader context

The book of Hebrews was written specifically to instruct Jewish Christians concerning the conversion of covenants from Old Testament Judaism to New Testament Christianity, so even though the verses may be clearly understood by Gentiles without doctrinal contradiction, many of the references carry extra significance to Jewish people.  Understanding this paradigm will aide in rightly interpreting Hebrews 6:1, as I will now illustrate:

Look at Hebrews 6:1-2 for the full list of what is referred to as “the elementary principles of Christ”:

“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrines of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection from the dead, and of eternal judgment.”

These six items (repentance from dead works, faith towards God, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection from the dead and eternal judgment) are all referred to as “elementary principles of Christ.”  Why is this significant?  Because these SAME six items were ALSO considered elementary principles for making proselytes of Judaism in the Old Covenant!

For example:  “baptisms” (though it may have different connotations for us as Christians), was foreshadowed in Jewish practices—such as a one-time cleansing for Jewish proselytes converting to Judaism) and Old Testament teachings (Levitical washings, ceremonial cleansings, etc).

Consider this quote taken from the Bible Background Commentary:

“The writer [Paul] probably chooses these items as the ‘basics’ because they were the basic sort of instructions about Jewish belief given to converts to Judaism, which all the author’s readers would have understood before becoming followers of Jesus.  These items represented Jewish teachings still useful for followers of Christ [my emphasis added].  Judaism stressed repentance as a regular antidote for sin, and a once-for-all kind of repentance for the turning of pagans to Judaism.”

So, what was once considered “the basics” for converting pagans to Judaism, Paul is writing to tell us that these same subjects are still necessary for Christians and are now referred to as elementary principles of CHRIST!  Thus, what was elementary in the Old Testament remains elementary in the New Testament—repentance, faith, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection, and judgment!

In fact, look at the Greek word used in Hebrews 6:1 translated “laying again.”  It is the Greek word “katabollo”, and it means “casting down or overthrow.”

Let’s look again at Hebrews 6:1 with this new understanding of “laying again”:

“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again [casting down or overthrowing] the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God”

What is Paul stressing here?  Don’t cast down or overthrow the foundational doctrines of verses 1-2!  They were foundational in the Old Testament but they are STILL foundational in the NEW Testament!

So, in the Old Testament, would the expression “repentance from dead works” include the idea of repentance from sin?  YES!!!  This hasn’t changed as foundational doctrine!

The broader context of this passage illustrates the error of dismissing sin as included in the subject of repentance from dead works.

            (2)  The term “repentance” itself

Since repentance deals with the conversion of the inward man and is a foundational doctrine dealing with sin in both Testaments, it is fair to say sin would be implied already.  Repentance of dead works would still include “sin” even if not expressly stated.

            (3)  The usage of the term “dead works”

This term is only used here and again in Hebrews 9:14.  It is true, the term has a special connection to religious formalism done apart from God as Pastor Prince suggests; however, these are works committed in self-righteousness and are therefore sin!

In fact, look at Hebrews 9:14:

“How much more shall the blood of Christ cleanse your conscience…from dead works to serve the living God?”

If dead works do not infer sin, why do we need the blood of Christ to cleanse our conscience of them?

            (4)  The term “dead works” itself

The term “dead works” is understood as works/actions resulting in/deserving of DEATH!  Is sin a work/action resulting in/deserving of death?  Of course!  Therefore the idea of sin is echoed in the usage of both phrases:  “repentance” AND “dead works”.

            (5)  Hebrews 6:1 as it is translated in the Amplified Bible

“Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance AND [my emphasis added] abandonment of dead works (dead formalism) and of the faith [by which you turned] to God”

Notice this translation gives special distinction to the doctrine of repentance itself and lists “abandonment of dead works” as complementary to the first, then reiterates again a third time the act of repentance implied in faith itself!

            (6)  The combined terms “repentance of dead works” are used together

Rather than the added phrase “from dead works” undermining the doctrine of repentance as it relates to sin, it only gives heightened understanding to the ongoing theme concerning repentance as it is used hundreds of times elsewhere: repentance is a change that is both inward and outward.

 

Quote #60:

“When the rich young ruler came boasting in his law-keeping, Jesus answered with the law. And the young man could hardly give a dollar to Jesus and walked away sorrowful.  But in the very next chapter, when Jesus gave no law but showed His grace, it not only opened Zacchaeus’ heart, it also opened up his wallet!”

Chapter 18, page 238

NOTE:  This is actually an excellent contrast between the law and grace.  However, rather than legitimizing abstinence from use of the law in evangelistic efforts—it actually shows that it is appropriate to use the law!

Why did Jesus use the law (not grace) when evangelizing the rich, young ruler? 

“Law to the proud, grace to the humble” as previously illustrated.  It is not that Jesus’ efforts at evangelizing the rich young ruler were unsuccessful—Jesus exposed his guilt with the same law he claimed to uphold!  This man was now closer to salvation than He had been previously, (before Jesus used the law to expose his guilt).  The man came as far as Jesus could take him, but would not humble himself in repentance to receive grace.

So why did Jesus NOT use the law when converting Zacchaeus?

Does this mean the only effective method of evangelism is through grace?  No!  It means the law had already done its work in Zacchaeus heart—he was now ready to receive grace for salvation!

ANY evangelist would ALWAYS prefer giving grace in evangelistic efforts!  That’s the EASY part!  Unfortunately, the LAW is the hard part that MUST come first—extending grace  to the unrepentant is casting pearls before swine.

 

Quote #61:

“You don’t have to worry about how your behavior will be governed without a consciousness of the law.  The Word of God says that grace will teach you—‘For the grace of God…has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts...’ [Titus 2:11-12].  Grace is a teacher…”

Chapter 18, page 239

NOTE:  If you have no consciousness of the law and are worried about what will govern your behavior—it is because your own conscience is telling you, “Hey you!  You need to know the law to rightly govern your behavior!”  If you REALLY want to test out this theory of grace teaching you without knowledge of the law, just put down your Bible (ignoring II Timothy 2:15), never read it again, never obey your conscience and ONLY listen to Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live:  “You are good enough; you are smart enough, and DOG-GONE it, PEOPLE LIKE YOU!”   Then send a testimony to Pastor Prince to tell him how things turned out for you!

You know how to RIGHTLY interpret Titus 2:11-12?  The grace of God appearing to all men (in the person of Jesus) CONFIRMS WHAT THE LAW ALREADY TEACHES!

 

Quote #62:

“In saying that ‘where sin abounded, grace abounded much more’, I am preaching the same message that Paul…preached.  What Paul meant…is this: Sin does not stop God’s grace from flowing, but God’s grace will stop sin...So where there is sin, God’s grace is in superabundance!”

Chapter 19, page 249

NOTE:  What Paul is teaching is NOT:  sin and grace share the same space and no matter how much I sin grace has got me covered!  He is saying that there is MORE THAN ENOUGH GRACE AVAILABLE to completely COME OUT of the dominion of sin in your life and NOT CONTINUE IN SIN!

 

Quote #63:

“When it came to wrong behavior in Corinth, Paul was cool and collected toward the believers.  He was able to handle their wrong behavior because he knew that the grace of God was able to take care of their spree of wrong behavior.  That is why he was able to speak positively to them…But when it came to wrong doctrine in Galatia, he rebuked the believers there because they nullified God’s grace by mixing it with the law.”

Chapter 20, page 258-259

NOTE:  First of all, the letter to the Corinthians was not exactly all “happy-happy” since it was primarily a book of correction; however, I would agree there IS in fact a greater degree of agitation in Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia because they had become backslidden heretics.

Secondly, what KIND of law were the people in Galatia practicing?

These people were not backslidden because they were preaching Christ and the Ten Commandments from the same pulpit; they were backslidden PRIMARILY because they substituted the ceremonial aspects of the law (man-made traditions, rituals, ceremony & pomp) for faith in God.

            Examples:

(1)  They had rejected the truth, turned from faith, and started justifying themselves by works (Galatians 3:1-5).

{This in itself is no more an indictment against the law than it was when Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees.  This was an indictment against those who attempt to practice the law apart from faith in God (Christ).}

           (2)  They had begun to reinforce the ceremonial law (Galatians 4:9-10; 5:1-2)

The ceremonial law was completely done away with through Christ because it was a type and shadow of everything that Christ already fulfilled.  The laws of Moses are not applicable to us because we have a new contract through Christ.  Nevertheless, God’s divine laws are eternal and immutable.  There is no part of the new covenant that implies we are exempt from keeping God’s eternal laws of morality and faith.

 (3)  They were imposing the circumcision to avoid persecution for Christ (Galatians 6:12-15).

Galatians 6:15-16 effectively sums up the gospel of grace:

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.  And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them…”

Are you or aren’t you a new creation?

This is true grace.  It does not mix with superficiality.  Whether that superficiality be cheap grace, ceremonial laws, or religious pomp.  If you are a new creation, the law is no threat to grace and you don’t have to ignore if for fear it will make sin stronger in your life.

 

Quote #64:

“Now would you like to know what Revelation 3:15-16 really means?  The two verses would only make sense when they are interpreted in the light of the mixture of covenants of law and grace in the church of Laodicea.  The Lord was saying that He would the church be cold—entirely under law, or hot—entirely under grace.”

Chapter 20, page 264

NOTE:  This is more allegorical preaching that pulls doctrine out of thin air.   But since Pastor Prince brought it up, mixing up covenants is a bad idea; teaching the law and grace together in their proper context is actually a GOOD idea.  That’s why it they are taught side-by-side throughout the New Testament (see response to Quote #1).

 

Quote #65:

“Paul told the Galatians, ‘Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace(Galatians 5:4).  This is the true definition of ‘falling from grace.’  Today, when someone sins, ministers say that the person has ‘fallen from grace.’  But Paul never told the Corinthians they were fallen from grace despite all their sins.  To fall from grace then is to fall into the law.”

Chapter 20, page 267

NOTE:  Falling from grace in this context simply means they reverted back to self-righteousness—thus, they fell into sin.

One can also do “despite the Spirit of Grace” by committing willful sin according to Hebrews 10:26-29.  One can twist the scriptures (or the teachings of Paul specifically) to their own destruction instead of “growing in grace” according to II Peter 3:15-18.   Or one can “fail of the grace of God” like Esau did in Hebrews 12:15.  Or one can invent their own doctrine of grace as a means to fulfill lust, like the ungodly men of Jude 4 did.  Either way, there is more than one way to fall from grace, whether we use this phrase or another.

 

Quote #66:

“The law makes everything of man’s efforts, while grace gives all the glory to God.  That is why Paul told the Galatians that the gospel is not a man-pleasing gospel.  He was essentially saying, ‘If I want to please man, I would be preaching the law.’”

Chapter 20, page 268

NOTE:  Paul was essentially saying he wasn’t a man-pleaser because he just finished saying let the other guy who is preaching a DIFFERENT gospel (the one this church just embraced), LET HIM BE DAMNED!  Paul had some grit!  I like him!  (See Galatians 1:6-10).

 

Quote #67:

“The question we should be asking is, ‘Did Jesus tell us to fast?’  Now, I know that when Jesus’ disciples were unable to cast out a certain spirit from a boy, the NKJV (as well as the KJV) Bible does record that Jesus, in reference to the spirit, said, ‘This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.’…But do you know that in the original Greek text, the word ‘fasting’ does not appear in that verse?  It was added by the translators!  And if you look at the NASB and NIV translations, you won’t find the word ‘fasting’ in that verse.”

Chapter 21, page 274-275

NOTE:  I don’t even like fasting J, but I feel compelled to respond anyway:

We have no way of saying that “FASTING” is not in the original Greek text BECAUSE WE DO NOT HAVE THE ORIGINAL GREEK TEXT!  What we have, are numerous copies of the original Greek text, most of which include the word “fasting.”  Which is more likely, most of the copies are wrong or a couple copies accidently left a word out?  Even the earliest copies which are considered among the highest in manuscript authorities have accidental omissions.  Nevertheless, we literally have THOUSANDS of early manuscripts to compare to determine with a great deal of accuracy what passages and words were in the original text.  Which is why it was overwhelmingly decided with very little debate from most theologians, old or new, that “fasting” should be included.  Besides that, if you believe “fasting” was a copy error, (later addition by fasting enthusiasts) in Mark 9:29, then you must make the case that “fasting” as it is recorded in Matthew 17:21 is a copy error/(later addition by fasting enthusiasts) as well.  Where does it stop?

The fact is, “fasting” was practiced by Jesus as well as in the book of Acts.  There is some dispute over its usage in I Corinthians 7:5 as well, but there is nothing unscriptural about taking a break from indulging the flesh for awhile to focus on prayer.

 

Quote #68:

“Now, do I fast?  Yes, I do, in the sense that many a time, I am so preoccupied with the Lord in prayer or with studying His Word that I forget to eat…I unconsciously miss my regular meals, and I even find myself forgoing sleep to be in His presence.  But I don’t consciously go on a fast, believing that fasting would get me my miracle.”

Chapter 21, page 276-277

NOTE:  So the short answer is, “Only if it’s accidental”?

Even though fasting is not something we do to try to earn God’s attention or answered prayer, it still can be beneficial to the New Testament believer.

For examples of the purpose an benefits of fasting, see the following scriptures:

Matthew 17:14-21; Psalm 35:13; II Samuel 12:16-23; Matthew 4:1-11; Psalm 69:10; I Corinthians 7:5; I Kings 21:27; Daniel 6:18; I Kings 21:27; Ezra 8:21; Esther 4; Acts 27:9; Acts 9; Matthew 6:16-18; Matthew 9:15 & Matthew 17:14-21.

 

Quote #69:

“When Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased…When the devil said, ‘Command these STONES to become bread,’ he was, in fact, telling Jesus to get His nourishment from the law that was written on STONES.  Now look at Jesus’ reply:  ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’…What did God just say to Jesus before He entered the wilderness?  He had said, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’  This is the word that we are to live by today as well!”

Chapter 22, pages 295-297

NOTE:  To the casual observer, one would assume that when Satan told Jesus to turn stones into bread it was because He was hungry after not eating for forty days! Evidently, it was because Satan wanted Him to study the law of Moses and come under death and condemnation.  Fortunately, Jesus outwitted Satan by responding with the rhema word from God:  God loves me!  (The coded exchange used by both Jesus and Satan here is so deep; it is AMAZING that either one was able to decipher the other’s witty word-plays!

 

Quote #70:

“The Lord told me many years ago, ‘Son, your ministry is to roll away the stone.’  Let me explain to you what this means.  In the story of Lazarus, Jesus commanded the people to roll away the stone from Lazarus’ tomb…My friend, the stone is a picture of the law.”

Chapter 22, page 298

NOTE:  Book burning anyone?

 

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