Monday, October 20, 2014

My Review Of Joseph Mattera's Review Of "Destined To Reign" - Part 7

For the past year, Charisma Magazine has been running many articles against the grace gospel, labeling it "Hyper Grace". One of those articles was written by a regular contributor, Joseph Mattera  (JM). It is a short review of Pastor Joseph Prince's first book, "Destined To Reign" (D2R). Perhaps tellingly, the title of the article was not something along the lines of "Book review: book title" but a rather provocative "Is Joseph Prince's Radical Grace Teaching Biblical?"

Typical of a few reviews of  D2R which I have read, this review also follows the same pattern: "Well, D2R is generally OK, got some useful tips for new Christians BUT...", and these "buts" actually contradict the very essence of what Pastor Prince is trying to teach in his book. JM listed down 7 "buts" and I will deal with them one by one.

I have dealt with the first six "buts" in  Part 12, 3 (a,b,c,d) and 4 and 5.and 6. Today, I will tackle JM's seventth "but". To facilitate my review of JM's book review, I will reproduce excerpts (in blue) here but you can read JM's full article by clicking his article title (highlighted in bold) above. 

7. Prince Preaches an Individual Gospel That’s Disconnected From the Cultural Commission of Genesis 1:28 
Perhaps one of the biggest flaws in Prince's radical grace doctrine is that his dispensational belief doesn’t allow him to connect the gospel to the cultural commission of Genesis 1:28. Believers who embrace the original cultural commission God gave humanity through Adam and Eve (and reconfirmed to Noah after the fall in Genesis 9:1-2) realize we need the moral and civic law to understand how to disciple a nation (Matt. 28:19). 
The Ten Commandments were not just individual commands for piety and holiness but were primarily given as a corporate structure to disciple the burgeoning nation of Israel (Ex. 20:1-2). First Timothy 1:8-11 alludes to the corporate reality of the law when it says the law wasn’t given to righteous men but for the unrighteous. (There has been only one righteous man on the earth who didn’t need the law to know how to be holy—Jesus!) The fact that Paul deals with slave-trading and kidnapping shows that he was also dealing with systemic sin and not just individual sin in this passage. 


JM says that Pastor Prince does not embrace "the cultural commission of Genesis 1:28 God gave to humanity through Adam and Eve and reconfirmed to Noah  after the fall in Genesis 9:1-2". What is this cultural commission? What do the verses actually say?

Genesis 1:28 (AMP)
28 And God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it [using all its vast resources in the service of God and man]; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and over every living creature that moves upon the earth.


Genesis 9:1-2 (AMP)
And God pronounced a blessing upon Noah and his sons and said to them, Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.

2 And the fear of you and the dread and terror of you shall be upon every beast of the land, every bird of the air, all that creeps upon the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are delivered into your hand.

Do you see anything about the "cultural commission" in those verses? No? Well, neither do I. How did this "cultural commission" thingy come about?

Perhaps Singaporean Christians are more familiar with the term "Cultural Mandate" rather than "cultural commission" (but they are the same thing) because this is the "mission" fully embraced by City Harvest Church led by its Senior Pastor Kong Hee.

I would like to quote excerpts from Kong Hee's article, "Our Cultural Mandate" to show you how they made the leap from Gen 1:28 to the "cultural commission":

THE CONCEPT OF CULTURE
When God created man and put him in the Garden of Eden, He gave him the responsibility “to tend and keep it” (Gen. 2:15). To tend the land means to plow or to cultivate the ground. But in the Latin, it is the word cultura, where you get the English word “culture.” Herein lies a very important truth: culture is God’s original purpose for man! It is not a concept from the devil. It is an idea from God.
God wanted Adam to “do culture,” taking the seed He has put into Adam’s hands and releasing its potential into a mighty harvest. Therefore, in its earliest and simplest definition, culture means taking the raw material God has given to man, and creatively nurturing it to its fullest potential. Because doing it requires creativity, each time we do culture we are actually reflecting the image of Elohim—the God who is creative.
In Genesis 1:28, God gave mankind its primary job description. The first phrase “be fruitful and multiply” has to do with people. It means develop the social world! Build families, churches, schools and cities. Establish governments and laws.
The second phrase “subdue the earth” has to do with nature. It means harness the natural world! Plant crops, build bridges, design computers, and compose music. 
As we develop the social world and harness the natural world, we are creating culture and building civilization upon the world that God has ordered. In theology, this is called the “cultural mandate.” As we do that, we are given the awesome privilege to be God’s co-creators! No wonder King David stood in amazement as he pondered on the whole purpose of man: “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels [more accurately, ‘Elohim God’], and You have crowned him with glory and honor” (Ps. 8:4-6).
Can you see it? This so-called "cultural commission" or "cultural mandate" bloomed from just ONE word, "cultura" in Gen 1:28... in LATIN! The Latin word is then linked to the English word "culture" and from there a full blown "cultural commission" is born.

However, this great leap is totally inappropriate because the whole Old Testament which includes Genesis is written originally in Hebrew! We should look at the Hebrew plainly and see its original meaning. I checked the Hebrew Lexicon and not one word in Gen 1:28 means "culture".

Let us now deal with 1 Timothy 1:8-11
1 Timothy 1:8-11 (KJV)
8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;

9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,

10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;

11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.


Timothy said it very clearly in v9 that the law is not made for a righteous man! JM then says that means the law is meant for the church because "There has been only one righteous man on the earth who didn’t need the law to know how to be holy—Jesus"! This statement is so wrong!

Firstly, Jesus does NOT know how to be holy... Why? Because He IS holy!

Secondly, if Jesus had been the only man righteous on earth, then why did the Bible call Abel and Noah and Abraham and Lot righteous? 

Hebrews 11:4 - By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

Gen 7:1 - And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

Gen 15:6 - And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

2 Peter 2:7 - and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked


Thirdly, we are righteous by faith, not by our conduct. Therefore, the law is not made for the church but for the "ungodly and for sinners".



(to be continued... Part 8 Conclusion)






Saturday, October 18, 2014

My Review Of Joseph Mattera's Review Of "Destined To Reign" - Part 6

For the past year, Charisma Magazine has been running many articles against the grace gospel, labeling it "Hyper Grace". One of those articles was written by a regular contributor, Joseph Mattera  (JM). It is a short review of Pastor Joseph Prince's first book, "Destined To Reign" (D2R). Perhaps tellingly, the title of the article was not something along the lines of "Book review: book title" but a rather provocative "Is Joseph Prince's Radical Grace Teaching Biblical?"

Typical of a few reviews of  D2R which I have read, this review also follows the same pattern: "Well, D2R is generally OK, got some useful tips for new Christians BUT...", and these "buts" actually contradict the very essence of what Pastor Prince is trying to teach in his book. JM listed down 7 "buts" and I will deal with them one by one.

I have dealt with the first five "buts" in  Part 12, 3 (a,b,c,d) and 4 and 5. Today, I will tackle JM's sixth "but". To facilitate my review of JM's book review, I will reproduce excerpts (in blue) here but you can read JM's full article by clicking his article title (highlighted in bold) above. 

6. Prince Says God Is Not Judging Any Nation Because of the Cross  
Prince teaches that God did not judge Sodom until Lot was removed, thus making a case that God will not judge any nation that has a presence of believers in it. What Prince fails to realize is that the Old Testament is replete with illustrations in which God judged the nations of Israel and Judah by disinheriting them even though there was a remnant left who believed. (See, for example, Isaiah 6:13.) 
Furthermore, in Matthew 11:20-24, Jesus speaks about corporate judgment coming upon cities and towns because they rejected Him. Obviously it is difficult to subjectively prove post-biblically if God has judged nations and empires after the cross, since God often uses the militaries of other nations, natural disasters and their own foolishness to lay low people and nations. Furthermore, God judged the nation of the Jews and Jerusalem for rejecting Christ in A.D. 70, when the Roman armies sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish temple, as Jesus predicted would happen within one generation (Matt. 24:34; Luke 21:20) even though this was almost 40 years after His resurrection. 

JM says "What Prince fails to realize is that the Old Testament is replete with illustrations in which God judged the nations of Israel and Judah by disinheriting them even though there was a remnant left who believed.

Allow me to let Pastor Prince himself answer JM:
You need to  understand how to rightly divide the Word of God. God wants us to be able to rightly divide the Word. 
He wants us to be astute in rightly dividing and clearly separating what belongs to the old covenant of law and what belongs to the new covenant of grace. He wants us to be able to distinguish what occurred before the cross from what occurred after the cross, and to understand the difference the cross made. Many believers today are living as if the cross did not make any difference! 
God is not judging America (or any country in the world today). America and its sins have already been judged! Where? At the cross of Jesus! Sin has been judged at the cross!
Do you remember the time when Jesus wanted to enter a certain village in Samaria, but the people there refused to receive him? When Jesus' disciples saw that the people rejected Jesus, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?" Now how did Jesus respond to them?
Did He say, "That's a great idea! You are truly disciples who carry My heart"? No, of course not! He turned to His disciples and rebuked them firmly, saying, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them."
Bear in mind also that God almost spared Sodom because of Abraham's plea. He promised Abraham that if there were only 10 righteous men in Sodom, he would not destroy the city for their sake. If God would have spared Sodom for the sake of 10 righteous men, don't you think that the terms He would give today, after Jesus' finished work on the cross, would be even better? Even if God demands the presence of at least 10 righteous people, you would easily find millions of righteous men and women of God in America today because righteousness is a gift of grace from the Lord, and believers all over America are clothed with Jesus' perfect righteousness!  
(excerpts from Destined to Reign, Chapter 5, page 49-53)

JM quoted Matthew 11:20-24 as examples of "corporate judgment coming upon cities and towns because they rejected Him" but if you read the verses carefully, Jesus was speaking about the fates of those cities and towns "in the day of judgment"; Jesus was not calling down immediate judgment on those cities.

v22 But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.

v24 But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.

Jesus again talked about "the day of judgment" in Matthew 12:36 - "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment."

Similarly, Peter and John also mentioned about "the day of judgment" in their epistles:  

2 Peter 2:9 (NKJV)
9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment,

2 Peter 3:7 (NKJV)
7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

1 John 4:17 (NKJV)
17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.


JM said the destruction of the temple by the Romans was God judging the nation of the Jews and Jerusalem for rejecting Christ BUT this is not logical; the temple would still be destroyed even if the Jews accepted Christ as the Messiah because the temple was no longer needed. 

Christ is the ultimate sacrifice for our sins and as Paul says in Hebrews 10:26, there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for [our] sins; the animal sacrifices in the temple are no longer acceptable to God and hence the temple is also no longer acceptable to God. 

God had the temple destroyed to send the message that there is no turning back to the old covenant of the law; the only way to God now is through Jesus Christ.

John 14:6 (AMP)
6 Jesus said to him, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me.


(to be continued... Part 7)



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My Review Of Joseph Mattera's Review Of "Destined To Reign" - Part 5

For the past year, Charisma Magazine has been running many articles against the grace gospel, labeling it "Hyper Grace". One of those articles was written by a regular contributor, Joseph Mattera  (JM). It is a short review of Pastor Joseph Prince's first book, "Destined To Reign" (D2R). Perhaps tellingly, the title of the article was not something along the lines of "Book review: book title" but a rather provocative "Is Joseph Prince's Radical Grace Teaching Biblical?"

Typical of a few reviews of  D2R which I have read, this review also follows the same pattern: "Well, D2R is generally OK, got some useful tips for new Christians BUT...", and these "buts" actually contradict the very essence of what Pastor Prince is trying to teach in his book. JM listed down 7 "buts" and I will deal with them one by one.

I have dealt with the first four "buts" in  Part 1, 2, 3 (a,b,c,d) and 4. Today, I will tackle JM's fifth "but". To facilitate my review of JM's book review, I will reproduce excerpts (in blue) here but you can read JM's full article by clicking his article title (highlighted in bold) above. 

5. Prince Teaches That God Can’t Get Angry With or Punish Christians 
 Prince says God does not get angry with Christians. But what about the admonition in Ephesians 4 to not grieve the Holy Spirit? (In Ephesians 4:30, grieve means "to cause great sorrow and distress," which is akin to causing anger). Even stronger is Paul’s warning in Ephesians 5:6 against living an immoral life that brings God’s wrath on the disobedient. The clear context here, for those who are disobedient, is that this is written to the church of Ephesus; thus, God can have wrath toward Christians. 
What about the sin that leads to death referenced in 1 John 5:16? Whether this refers to physical or spiritual death has been debated for centuries; however, the main point is that a believer can commit a sin so severe it can result in death. (I believe it is referring to physical death, which correlates to 1 Corinthians 11:30 and 1 Corinthians 5:1-6, where Paul wanted to hand a man over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh because he slept with his father’s wife.)
Finally, what does Prince do about Jesus' words to the seven churches in Asia Minor in Revelation 2-3? In these letters, Jesus not only punishes but also threatens to remove whole churches from their cities unless they repent (Rev. 2:5). In Revelation 2:16, Jesus tells the church of Pergamum to repent or else He will come and fight against some in their church. In Revelation 2:22-23, Jesus tells those who are under the influence of Jezebel that He will kill them unless they repent. Finally, Jesus tells the church of Laodicea that He is about to vomit them out of His mouth (Rev. 3:15-16), Strong words, indeed, that do not nicely fit into the theology of Joseph Prince.


I will show you the verses which clearly say that God is no longer angry with us but first, let me deal with the verses quoted by JM to support his view that God can still get angry with us.

1. Ephesians 4:30 - "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."

JM says that "grieve means "to cause great sorrow and distress," which is akin to causing anger", which is quite a desperate effort to justify his view. Obviously, causing sorrow is NOT the same as causing anger. They are two different emotions which do not necessarily occur together.


2. Ephesians 5:6 - "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience."

The verse says that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Who are these sons of disobedience? Are we these sons of disobedience? For the proper context, let us read the verses following verse 6:
7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit[b] is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.
Verse 7 begins with "Therefore" which means it is linked to verse 6. Therefore, we can clearly see that Paul makes a distinction between the Christian and non-Christian, between us and them, between light and darkness. Hence, the "sons of obedience" does not refer to us but to them, the children of darkness because we are now children of light; hence, the wrath of God comes upon them, not us.


3. 1 John 5:16 - "If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that."

I don't know why JM quoted this verse; is the anger of God even mentioned at all? A sign of desperation on JM's part?


4. Revelations 2-3

I shall not be dealing with Revelations 2-3 because the book of Revelations involves a lot of types and symbols which, honestly, I do not fully comprehend but Pastor Prince has preached quite a few sermons on the book of Revelations and I encourage you to listen to them for yourself and determine whether they are talking about God being angry with us.

However, I do comprehend the following clear scripture passage which clearly assures us that God is no longer and will never ever be angry with us again.

Isaiah 54:8-10 (AMP) 
8 In a little burst of wrath I hid My face from you for a moment, but with age-enduring love and kindness I will have compassion and mercy on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer.9 For this is like the days of Noah to Me; as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I will not be angry with you or rebuke you.10 For though the mountains should depart and the hills be shaken or removed, yet My love and kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace and completeness be removed, says the Lord, Who has compassion on you.


God was angry with us for a little while but He himself has sworn that He will not be angry with us any more; not only that, His love and kindness shall not leave us and His covenant of peace and completeness shall not be removed from us.

This is a very clear scripture passage; God has sworn! What can be more assuring than God's oath? Why do you still want to dig up obscure verses to prove that God will break his oath? Can God break his own oath?

Hebrews 6:17-18 (NLT)

16 Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding. 17 God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. 18 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.

(To be continued... Part 6)




Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Review Of Joseph Mattera's Review Of "Destined To Reign" - Part 4

For the past year, Charisma Magazine has been running many articles against the grace gospel, labeling it "Hyper Grace". One of those articles was written by a regular contributor, Joseph Mattera  (JM). It is a short review of Pastor Joseph Prince's first book, "Destined To Reign" (D2R). Perhaps tellingly, the title of the article was not something along the lines of "Book review: book title" but a rather provocative "Is Joseph Prince's Radical Grace Teaching Biblical?"

Typical of a few reviews of  D2R which I have read, this review also follows the same pattern: "Well, D2R is generally OK, got some useful tips for new Christians BUT...", and these "buts" actually contradict the very essence of what Pastor Prince is trying to teach in his book. JM listed down 7 "buts" and I will deal with them one by one.

Today, I will tackle JM's 4th "but". To facilitate my review of JM's book review, I will reproduce excerpts (in blue) here but you can read JM's full article by clicking his article title (highlighted in bold) above. You can read Part 1 here , Part 2 here, and Part  3a here, 3b here and 3c here and Part 3d here


4. Prince Believes in “Once Saved, Always Saved”  
As a typical dispensationalist, Prince believes that once a person receives Jesus Christ as Savior, they can never lose their salvation. (Some know this as the doctrine of eternal security.) The challenge I have with this is that it fails to interpret individual passages honestly that disagree with this particular system.  For example, Hebrews 6:1-8 and 10:24-29 clearly teach that people, after receiving the saving knowledge of Christ, can fall away and lose their salvation. Second Peter 2:20-22 and James 5:19-20 are as clear as tar on snow that a believer can fall away and once again be called a sinner who has to be restored. There are numerous other passages I can cite but will not because of the time.  I am more comfortable with the Reformed understanding of salvation, which teaches people can experience the fruits of salvation while never being chosen from "the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4), in which case they will not remain in the body of Christ because they were never a part of it to begin with. (First John 2:19 seems to teach the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints.) This is the only position I have found sufficient to effectively deal with the conundrum of Scripture that seems to teach both eternal security and that a believer can fall away. I take the position of the apostle Peter: I may think I am saved, but I have to endeavor to make my calling and election sure (2 Pet. 1:10).


JM says that Scripture "seems to teach both eternal security and that a believer can fall away". He is right on one word - "seems" because he does not understand the true meaning of those passages of scripture. For example, JM says that Hebrews 6:1-8 and 10:24-29 "clearly teach that people, after receiving the saving knowledge of Christ, can fall away and lose their salvation". I disagree with his understanding of those two passages.

It is vitally important to understand who the target audience of the book of Hebrews is, in order to understand Hebrews 6 and 10 in the proper context. Regrettably, JM fails to understand that the book of Hebrews was written to ...wait for it... the Hebrews! 

The author of Hebrews was clearly talking to his fellow Jewish brothers when he says "our ancestors" in the very first verse  - "Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets.(Hebrews 1:1, NLT) Hence, he was preaching to his Jewish brothers, and not the Gentile church, about Jesus Christ in the book of Hebrews.

In that light, let us look at the passages quoted by JM:
Hebrews 6:1-8 
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, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this we will[a] do if God permits.
4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away,[b] to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.
7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; 8 but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.
Hebrews 10:24-29 
24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 

A few weeks ago, Dr Marilyn Hickey preached in NCC and I bought her "Seeing Jesus" study guide. I would like to quote from her study guide regarding the book of Hebrews:

It seems clear from the content of this letter that those who read it were suffering persecution and considering returning to the Jewish faith with its rituals and sacrifices for sin. The book of Hebrews explains the superiority of the Lord Jesus Christ over Judaism.

In this Jewish context, we can see that the book of Hebrews is not talking about Christians losing their salvation due to their persistent sinning. The author of Hebrews is actually telling his Jewish brethren that there is no other way to reconcile to God except through Jesus Christ because He has become the new High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek; the old Levitical priesthood is no longer acceptable to God (Hebrews 7:12), and the author explains in Hebrews 1-9 how Christ is far superior to the old system of the law.

In Hebrews 1-3, we read about how Christ is superior over angels and Moses.
Hebrews 1:1-6 
1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself[a] purged our[b] sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
5 For to which of the angels did He ever say:
“You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You”?[c]
And again:
“I will be to Him a Father,
And He shall be to Me a Son”?[d]
6 But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says:
Let all the angels of God worship Him.”[e]
Hebrews 3:1-6 
Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, 2 who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. 3 For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. 5 And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, 6 but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.

And in Hebrews 4-9, we read about how the priesthood of Christ is superior over the Levitical priesthood.
Hebrews 6:19 
19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 7:11, 14-17, 28 
11 Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? 12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. 13 For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar.
14 For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.[a] 15 And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest 16 who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. 17 For He testifies:[b]
“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.
28 For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.

After reading through Hebrews 1-9, we can now understand Hebrews 10 within the context laid out in Hebrews 1-9. Therefore, let us examine Hebrews 10:26-27 which was quoted by JM to prove that Christians can lose their salvation by sinning willfully.

26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.

What is this "sin willfully" and "knowledge of the truth" that the author of Hebrews is referring to? He is not talking about committing sinful acts but flowing from his writings in Hebrews 1-9, we can see that he is talking about the sin of unbelief in Christ, and the truth which the author was referring to is the truth about Christ being the Messiah and the only way to reconciliation with God.

The author has pointed out to the Jews that Jesus Christ was the ultimate sin sacrifice sent by God, once for all time:

Hebrews 9:27, 10: 11-17 
27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. 
11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
15 But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,”[c] 17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”[d] 18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

What about "there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries"? Doesn't that mean you can lose your salvation? No, it doesn't.

This verse has to be read in context to the earlier verses where Hebrews 10:11-17 explains that Christ's once for all time sacrifice for sins has already bought us remission of our sins and therefore there is no longer any need for any other sacrifice.

Hence, if the Jews willfully reject Christ as the ultimate sacrifice, and return to the law and offer their animal sacrifices, they can only expect judgment because there is now no other sacrifice acceptable to God except Christ.

For a deeper understanding of "Once saved, always saved", I recommend that you listen to Pastor Prince first hand and decide for yourself whether it is truly biblical:


Can You Lose Your Salvation? Part 1—The Truth About Hebrews 6
Is it possible for a Christian to lose his or her salvation? Those who say that it’s certainly possible point readily to the warning in Hebrews 6 as Bible proof. But what is Hebrews 6 really all about? Who are the people being warned here? Joseph Prince tackles these questions head-on in this exciting message and sheds light on this controversial topic.

Can You Lose Your Salvation? Part 2—The Truth About Hebrews 10
Can a Christian “sin willfully” in the context of Hebrews 10:26 and lose his or her salvation? Join Joseph Prince as he tackles this difficult question many Christians grapple with, and outlines the context for the warning that has frightened many sincere believers. Discover also what the judgment for this particular sin is, whom it is really meant for and whether a Christian can ever be subject to it. Listen to this important message and gain for yourself a clear biblical understanding of this oft-misconstrued portion of Scripture, as well as a deeper revelation and appreciation of the efficacy of Jesus’ sacrifice and blood.
 

(to be continued... Part 5)
 



Friday, October 10, 2014

My Review Of Joseph Mattera's Review Of "Destined To Reign" - Part 3d

For the past year, Charisma Magazine has been running many articles against the grace gospel, labeling it "Hyper Grace". One of those articles was written by a regular contributor, Joseph Mattera  (JM). It is a short review of Pastor Joseph Prince's first book, "Destined To Reign" (D2R). Perhaps tellingly, the title of the article was not something along the lines of "Book review: book title" but a rather provocative "Is Joseph Prince's Radical Grace Teaching Biblical?"

Typical of a few reviews of  D2R which I have read, this review also follows the same pattern: "Well, D2R is generally OK, got some useful tips for new Christians BUT...", and these "buts" actually contradict the very essence of what Pastor Prince is trying to teach in his book. JM listed down 7 "buts" and I will deal with them one by one.

I have dealt with JM's first and second "buts" (which you can read here1 and here2) and will now tackle the third "but".  To facilitate my review of JM's book review, I will reproduce excerpts (in blue) here but you can read JM's full article by clicking his article title (highlighted in bold) above.

However, as JM's third "but" is rather long, I shall break it up into several sub points and rebut them one by one (you can read part 3a here, 3b here and 3c here).



3. Prince Doesn’t Clearly Define the Role of the Moral Law of God  
Prince brings out the fact that Paul calls the Ten Commandments the "ministration of death" in 2 Corinthians 3:7 (KJV). However, I would counter that in spite of this, Paul and the other New Testament writers continually used the Ten Commandments as the standard of ethics for the church. The ministration of death has to do with the fact that without Christ, we are all guilty before God—a point we all agree with. Galatians 3:24 calls the law our schoolmaster that leads us to Christ; thus, it is a standard of holiness that brings conviction and leads us to depend on the grace of Christ to fulfill it. Romans 8:4 clearly teaches us the Holy Spirit empowers us to fulfill the righteous requirements of the law; thus, it’s standards are still a requirement for functional holiness. Furthermore, the strength of sin is the law (1 Cor. 15:56).   
But the point of the New Testament is that Jesus gives us the power to live righteously through His Spirit. It is not just imputed righteousness from Christ with no obligation on our part. When we break the Ten Commandments, that is still a sin that we believers have to repent of and confess to the Lord for forgiveness.   
I do agree with Prince that we need to be Christ-focused and Christ-conscious to have victory over sin and that we can only have faith and grace to walk in victory through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness—not our own merit. Where we depart ways is that I contend the Ten Commandments are still necessary as our standard for how Jesus wants us to live by His power and grace. The law doesn’t save us. It reminds us of our sinfulness and, as a schoolmaster, leads us to depend on Christ alone.   
To summarize this point, I don’t agree with Prince when he says we don’t need the law to govern our behavior—we just need grace, he says—because, in my perspective, grace uses the standard of the moral law, as is repeated over and over in the New Testament.

JM quotes Galatians 3:24 to say that the law "is a standard of holiness that brings conviction and leads us to depend on the grace of Christ to fulfill it". Perhaps JM should take to heart what Paul said before verse 24 for the proper context:


Galatians 3:1-5 (J.B. Phillips, emphasis in bold mine)
O you dear idiots of Galatia, who saw Jesus Christ the crucified so plainly, who has been casting a spell over you? I will ask you one simple question: did you receive the Spirit of God by trying to keep the Law or by believing the message of the Gospel? Surely you can’t be so idiotic as to think that a man begins his spiritual life in the Spirit and then completes it by reverting to outward observances? Has all your painful experience brought you nowhere? I simply cannot believe it of you! Does God, who gives you his Spirit and works miracles among you, do these things because you have obeyed the Law or because you have believed the Gospel? Ask yourselves that.
Paul has said it so clearly that we do not complete our spiritual life by reverting to obeying the law. Certainly the grace of Christ does not help you to fulfill it. Why do we still need to fulfill the law when Christ himself has fulfilled it! Jesus said it himself that it is His mission, not yours: "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill." (Matt 5:17, NKJV) 

JM quotes Romans 8:4 to say that "the Holy Spirit empowers us to fulfill the righteous requirements of the law". However, JM has again quoted out of context because verse 4 is part of a sentence that begins in verse 3, which provides the proper context for verse 4. Let's take a look:


Romans 8:3-4 (NKJV, emphasis in bold mine) 
3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Clearly, we can see that God sent His own Son, Jesus Christ to condemn sin in the flesh that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us. Read carefully. Verse 4 says the law might be fulfilled IN us, not BY us. The law was fulfilled BY Christ, and it is fulfilled IN us because of Christ IN us, the hope of glory (Col 1:27)

JM seems to be confused by his own contradicting arguments. Let's take a look at his flow of logic:
Furthermore, the strength of sin is the law (1 Cor. 15:56)

I do agree with Prince that we need to be Christ-focused and Christ-conscious to have victory over sin and that we can only have faith and grace to walk in victory through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness—not our own merit.

The law doesn’t save us. It reminds us of our sinfulness and, as a schoolmaster, leads us to depend on Christ alone. 

I contend the Ten Commandments are still necessary as our standard for how Jesus wants us to live by His power and grace.


JM agrees that the law does not save us but leads us to depend on Christ alone, who then leads us back again to the law??? How can that be? The law is finished! By Christ himself! 


John 19:30 (NKJV)
So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

Mark 15:37-38
And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last. Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

Paul confirms this in Romans 10:4 - "
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
"


IT IS FINISHED!