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)

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