Monday, April 20, 2009

Questionable "Questionable Teachings" (1)

I read in christianpost Rev Kong Hee's article "Balance is the key of life (Part 3)" in which he says:
"The truth is, in the last four to five years, there has been a rather erroneous seductive doctrine released into the body of Christ, an unbalanced teaching promoting an extreme, irresponsible brand of "grace." You and I need to see it for what it is and be careful not to be seduced into a distorted belief system.

At this point, I want to emphatically say that I have no intention whatsoever to discredit the ministry of any pastor or church. My wife and I love every pastor in Asia and appreciate them tremendously for the work they are doing for the kingdom of God. Besides, many who preach the following questionable teachings may have done so with the highest and noblest intentions. I believe they have been very sincere in sharing their beliefs, only that they are sincerely wrong in the substance of their beliefs. "

At this point, I want to emphatically say that I have no intention whatsoever to discredit the ministry of Rev Kong Hee or City Harvest Church. I believe they are working for the kingdom of God but here I want to question whether those teachings that Rev Kong Hee deem questionable are really questionable.

Questionable Teaching #1: You Don't Have To Confess Your Sins To Be Forgiven!

This basically contradicts 2,000 years of mainstream evangelical Christian belief. If this doctrine is true, then everyone from Billy Graham, to Luis Palau, to Reinhard Bonkke, to Josh McDowell are
all wrong! All the billions of evangelism tracts printed by Navigators, Campus Crusade for Christ and many others in the last century were all erroneous! What does the Bible say?

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 Jn. 1:9)

Those advocating this brand of unbalanced grace say that we must never build a doctrine just from John's writings. Then, what about the words of Jesus Christ? Isn't this how He taught us to pray to heavenly Father,

And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us ... (Lk 1:4)



Just because something has been taught for a very long time does not automatically mean that it is right. For a very long time, people including very famous scholars and philosophers had believed in the geocentric model of the universe ie. that the earth was the centre of the universe and all other planets and stars revolve around it - "Belief in this system was common in ancient Greece. It was embraced by both Aristotle and Ptolemy, and most Ancient Greek philosophers assumed that the Sun, Moon, stars, and naked eye planets circle the Earth. Similar ideas were held in ancient China."(source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geocentrism) - but now, it is universally accepted that the earth and the other planets in the solar system go around the sun ie. the heliocentric model. This is the result of people who dare to challenge the norm and attempt to find the truth.

Rev Kong Hee quoted 1 John 1:9 to back up his assertion that we have to confess our sins to be forgiven, and said "Those advocating this brand of unbalanced grace say that we must never build a doctrine just from John's writings" but that is misleading because we actually say that we must never build a doctrine just from ONE VERSE in John's writings.

In 1 John chapter 1, John was not directing his words at fellow Christians but rather at agnostics, therefore 1 John 1:9 is not meant for us.

To put the verse in context, let's look at 1 John 1: 8-9 (Amplified Bible)
8If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us [does not dwell in our hearts].

9If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].

Looking at verses 8 and 9 in tandem, I submit that John is actually painting a scenario of 2 choices available to a non-believer:

1) Say that you have no sin i.e. refusing to admit that you are a sinner and therefore not accepting the truth of the Gospel i.e. you don't need the Saviour because there is nothing to be saved from.

or

2) Confess your sins i.e. admitting you are a sinner and therefore needing and receiving God's forgiveness of all your sins and made righteous before God i.e. cleansed from all unrighteousness.

I submit that 1John 1:9 is describing what happens at the point of salvation for an unbeliever. When the unbeliever confesses before God that he is a sinner and in need of the Saviour, his sins are all forgiven and he is cleansed from ALL unrighteousness, thereby making himfully righteous. I use the word fully to emphasize the absence of any unrighteousness because strictly speaking, righteousness is a state of being so you are either righteous or unrighteous.

When you become a believer, you are made righteous before God; you have been cleansed from ALL unrighteousness, so how can there be any unrighteousness left in you for God to cleanse again and again?

Rev Kong Hee also quoted Luke 1:4 - "And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us ..." but the context of that verse is that Jesus had not yet died on the cross and risen from the dead, and he was talking to the Jews on the basis of the Law. However, after his death and resurrection, what does Jesus say?

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Eph 4:32)

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Col 3:13)

Through the apostle Paul, Jesus says that we forgive others because in Christ GOD FORGAVE US. In Hebrews 8:12, God says "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more", so why do we need to keep confessing our sins and reminding God about our sins when He says He will remember our sins no more?

Casting aside the theological argument, consider is it really possible to confess all our sins? What happens if you did something that is a sin in God's eyes but you didn't know that and therefore you didn't confess it? What happens if during your whole life, you managed to confess all your sins except for one which you forgot about? Will that one unforgiven sin (since it was not confessed, therefore it was not forgiven according to Rev Kong's interpretation) prevent you from entering heaven since there can be no sin in heaven?

If you are serious in believing the doctrine that you have to confess sins in order to be forgiven, then you'd better be serious in watching over your every thought and every action, in case you have sinned and therefore need to confess it otherwise it could cause you your place in heaven. Is this the way you want to live your life here? Is this the way God wants you to live your life?

Jesus says in John 10:10 - "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." - and I sure He doesn't mean a life full of consciousness of sin. Even at the point of our salvation, God does not want us to concentrate on confessing our sins but rather He wants us to confess ""Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Rom 10:9)

Live your life conscious of Jesus, not your sins!

22 comments:

Sarah said...

Thanks for this post!
When I first read the article by Rev Kong Hee, I really expected him to have more substantial arguments to back up his rebuttal against the grace doctrines, I certainly did not expect him to use the tradition of "mainstream evangelical Christian belief" to back himself up.
Thanks for once again showing us the truth of the word through the word and word ALONE and not through building our truth upon what the christian world has been practising.

There are other issues the same article has addressed, it seems like a lot of issues but at the same day it goes back to one thing - positional vs practical santification/righteousness/perfection etc. The list could go on but my main concern is whether how such a school of thought arose in the first place.

I've tried to study the bible on my own (still a very young christian and not very experienced at all!) and have not found any "concepts" in the bible that talks about positional vs practical standing with God. I'm really not sure, and I hope that people on this blog can share with me more about this issue, since I'm still growing and learning!

Praise God for this entry:)
Sarah

Malcolm Loh said...

Yo, bro. Aren't you afraid of God's wrath as a result of touching the Lord's anointed? ;-)

I remember being told off by one of my ex-pastors. He said that even when pastors are in the wrong, we laymen are in no position to point this out to them.

In other words, he considered himself to be untouchable, and woe betide anyone who dared to touch him.

The strange thing is that he had three fingers pointing back at himself because he was (and still is) critical of Ps Prince's teachings.

I suppose he did not consider Ps Prince to be "the Lord's anointed", but the same argument can be used against him.

Daughter Of Sarah said...

ROFL Mal

Great post Stan.

I think it is sad when people believe in subscribing to double standards. =pp

There is only one standard- the grace of our LORD Jesus Christ. We can meet no other standards but what He has already met for us on the Cross. = D

Jerry said...

We are the righteousness of God in Christ;that might be termed as positional righteousness. Outwardly,we are only capable living a righteous life because the Spirit live in us; that's pratical righteousness (that's how I see it).

What happened if we stumble? We confess to God knowing that we are already forgiven fully, look at Jesus, rely on his strength, rest in his finished work, and carry on living a life of righteousness knowing that He is there to give us strength.

License to sin? Don't think anyone who properly understood God's grace and what it means to believe in Jesus will ever ask that question. The Lord gave us a 'new heart' when we enter his new covenant, a heart that ENJOYS living a life that pleases God; and God HATES SIN.

Living a perfectly righteouness life is IMPOSSIBLE; only Jesus can do that. If anyone thinks that only by confessing all sins, then there are forgiveness. I think that is delusional. Humans are like "breathing and walking sin", best part, sometimes we sin without knowing that we are sinning. So if forgiveness comes from confession, what about all the "unknown to us" sins that we commit every minute?

What about those people who go around sinning like committing adultery, and have no intention to come out of it. My personal thoughts are that one who is under grace will not wish to do that. If he is in such a situation, enjoys it, didn't realise that this breaks the heart of our Lord Jesus, don't intend to stop it, I question whether he is a believer.

Just hope that people would stop equating grace to license to sin. A person who understands what Jesus paid for our righteousness and salvation don't go out and sin all he wants!

Grace, extreme grace (if there is such a thing) is not the problem. It is THE SOLUTION!

Daughter Of Sarah said...

Amen Jerry! = )

cybeRanger said...

Great post! :)

Heb 10:19-22
"Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with PURE WATER.

The Logical Mouse said...

Malcolm say:

"yep. like what ps prince said last week, persecution is a sign that you are on the right track. it is better to be blessed and persecuted"

"You're being "persecuted" on this blog because you are on the right track and the devil wants to discourage you. Stand firm because blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake"

---------------------------------

Pastor Prince says being “persecuted” means being on the right track. So I see people on this Blog persecuting Rev Kong Hee now. If what Pastor Prince says is true, then Rev Kong MUST be on the right track ! And since Rev Kong’s article implies you know which Church, then these people should all follow Rev Kong’s preaching instead!

If Pastor Prince is wrong, then being “persecuted” is NOT being on the right track. Since NCC is being “persecuted” currently as claimed by Malcolm dan Stanley, then NCC is NOT on the right track.

Can you see how the statement “persecution is a sign that you are on the right track” can lead to a contradiction?

People try to convince others to believe in something using such statements. If the listener is not on his guard, he takes in the statements as truth and tries to justify the “persecution” as “they wrong, me right” all the time, regardless of the situation. And he truly believes that he is on the right track even though he may not be at all.

Only when the person thinks logically and uses his analytical power to dig further into the situation, he finds that such statements has no merit and cannot be used to substantiate any situation. And only to lead the listener to believe what the speaker wants him to believe.

While faith is important in religions, intellect and logic cannot be disregarded until that day comes.

In fact, blind faith is really no faith… cause if the faith is blind, the faith never really did started.

PS: Of course, there is no real persecution here. Just some bothersome Mouse running around. Cheers !

Ron Vong said...

lol @ mouse.

Anyway, great entry. Ephesians 1:7 says In Him WE HAVE redemption through His blood, the FORGIVENESS OF SINS (we're not trying to have, but WE HAVE the forgiveness of sins.), according to the RICHES OF HIS GRACE (not according to the faithfulness of our confession).

Another verse in Colossians says the same thing, so I'm beginning to think the BIBLE definition of Redemption is Forgiveness of sins, just like the BIBLE definition of righteousness is righteousness apart from works and non-imputation of sin. I'll have to study this more.

Malcolm Loh said...

Let's go back to the story of Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights.

Jesus was just minding His own business when the devil came along and provoked Him.

He responded with the Word of God each time.

Dear Logical Mouse, who was initiating the persecuting and who was responding to that persecution?

Fast forward to today. This pastor of an ever-growing congregation is just minding his own business. People (including other pastors) write articles saying that he is preaching cheap grace and that his salary is too high.

Dear Logical Mouse, who is initiating that persecuting and who is responding to that persecution?

I don't know about you, but this post of Stan is to refute those false allegations using the Word of God, just like what Jesus did :-)

The Logical Mouse said...

Dear Malcolm

Here’s another demonstration of Malcolm’s ability to shift the lines of argument. The argument is built on “persecution is a sign that you are on the right track”. When was the argument about “who started it first”. Can people see this? If you accept this new scenario presented by Malcolm and you think Malcolm makes sense, you will fall into a trap. He has already shifted the line of argument.

But the odd thing is that this new line of argument presented by Malcolm does not contradict the first one presented by Mouse! It does not present new insights or overturn that presented by Mouse. Because whoever started it first, the Mouse’s line of argument still holds. Who initiates it and who responds to it does not matter. Don’t believe? Read Mouse comment again.

Malcolm said “This pastor of an ever-growing congregation is just minding his own business.” This statement is a contraction in itself. Please read it carefully. A mind your own business organization does not grow! When the members of the organization go out to ask their friends to join the organisation, put video clips on internet, do Blogging on the internet, they have already gone out to try to reach out to others outside the organization. This would mean others would have to change faith or denominations. Not that I’m saying you should not do this but I won’t call this MYOB.

So I’m not trying to ask people to overload themselves by analyzing every statement they hear but try to sharpen your thoughts so that you can detect logic errors such as this. By doing this, you are not weakening what you believe. On the contrary, once you have validated the inputs, you will hold it even closer to you and make your believe even stronger.

Malcolm Loh said...

Dear Logical Mouse

If you don't see Ps Prince as "minding his own business" then that is where we will have to agree to disagree.

But your statement has revealed your agenda and has proved a point: that people like you find Ps Prince a threat and hence persecute him.

Reminds me of how Jesus was persecuted because the devil feel threatened.

Or how the apostles were persecuted because the upholders of Judaism felt threatened.

Or even how Saul persecuted the followers of Christ because he felt threatened.

I pray for a Damascus experience for you and others like you who are so against the grace gospel.

Say, since you like coming here so often, how about meeting F2F at Stan's stall for dessert? My treat.

Marked to be a blessing said...

Eh... when you guys finalize a date for dessert lemme know too..

haha.. will be good to have all sorts of perspectives..

The Logical Mouse said...

Dear Malcolm

Malcolm said “But your statement has revealed your agenda and has proved a point: that people like you find Ps Prince a threat and hence persecute him.”

Malcolm, huh? How you come to the conclusion that “people like you find Ps Prince a threat and hence persecute him” is bewildering. I’m not letting you off this one. Please justify your statement.

Malcolm said “I pray for a Damascus experience for you and others like you who are so against the grace gospel.”

First of all, please do not say I’m against the Grace Gospel. Please quote to me which statement in my comment indicates that I’m against the Grace Gospel and substantiate your point.

As for your Damascus experience, I would say … Please do pray hard for me. It will be your fault if I won’t experience it. On the other hand, my prayer for Malcolm and Stanley to be less sarcastic has been answered. I can already see an obvious change in their responses. Thank you, Lord.

Finally, Malcolm, please try to separate what you read from your own prejudiced imagination of the world. You seem to try to fit the world into your own preconceived imagination rather than reading the facts as they stand. Ok. We can agree to disagree on this point!

Malcolm Loh said...

Dear Logical Mouse

My apologies for lumping you together with the other mice. It was hard to tell one from the other, and the best approach was not to throw pearls before them.

Truth be told, there was some initial scepticism towards you as well.

But after giving it some more thought, it dawned upon me that nothing happens by chance: you stumbling upon this blog is like how Ruth happened to glean at the field belonging to Boaz by divine appointment.

I still feel a bit strange engaging in a conversation with someone who refuses to identify himself,m but I'm sure you probably have your reasons for remaining incognito, just like how Nicodemus came looking for Jesus at night so as not to be seen by his fellow Pharisees.

After encountering the grace gospel, he was transformed and my prayer is that you will be too :-)

The Logical Mouse said...

Dear Malcolm

You are really a master in wriggling out of an situation. I think responding to the comment is a waste of time.

Malcolm Loh said...

Okay, Logical Mouse. See you at Stan's stall soon then :-)

Derrick said...

Hi Stanley

May I ask, firstly, how do you arrive at the conclusion that 1 Jn 1:9 is only for the unbelievers? Is the entire 1 Jn not applicable for Christians? If not, which part is and how do you decide that?

John has already stated his audience clearly in 1 Jn 5:13 "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God..." i.e. believers.


Secondly, I agree that we cannot possibly confess all our sins and that Christ has already forgiven us of all sins. Nevertheless, saying that confession of sins is therefore useless is an illogical step. Do you think there still a practical need for Christians to confess sins?

Stanley Wong said...

Hi Derrick,

Firstly, I am not saying that the entire book of 1 John is addressing unbelievers. Only the first chapter of 1 John is addressing the gnostics. Starting from chapter 2, John is addressing fellow Christians, where he begins in verse 1 with "My dear children".

You may wish to read the following article which gives an indepth explanation of 1 John chapter 1:
http://www.realanswers.net/realaudio/forgiveness.htm

Secondly, if confession of sins is required for forgiveness, then all of us are doomed for we cannot possibly confess all our sins.

Perhaps you can enlighten me ... why would a Christian still want to confess his sins to God since God is all-knowing and He has already forgiven them in Christ?

Derrick said...

Hi Stanley

There is no reason to think that 1 Jn 1 is written only to the gnostic unbelievers. The fact is, many believers in John's church are influenced by gnosticism, such as denying Christ his humanity, and that "matter is evil but spirit is good", that John had to correct them not to treat sin in the body as though it is of no consequence, but to confess them. In the first few centuries Christians still had seriously errorneous views of who Christ is, so what makes you think the 1st chapter is only applicable to the unbelievers?

Secondly, why do you pray when God knows everything about what you want even before you speak? Because it is commanded for us to communicate with God, and it reflects our dependence on Him etc.
Similarly, repentance is commanded by the bible.

Stanley Wong said...

Hi Derrick,

Kindly enlighten me ... could you please show me the bible passages which commands us to communicate with God, and to repent? By the way, could you also explain what you understand of the word "repent" or "repentance"? Thanks :-)

Derrick said...

Hi Stanley

The Lord's Prayer, 1 Thes 5:17-18 to name a few.

I understand repentance to be a continual act in a Christian life even after being saved. It involves the continual confession of our sins and a continual turning back to God. I have written an article here and you may take a read:

http://charisreflections.blogspot.com/

If need be, I will explain the necessity of repentance when I have the time.

Thanks for this gracious conversation. God bless.

fuzzytransmit said...

Dear Derrick,

I was wondering if your bible is missing Galatians. Just wondering.