Tuesday, October 7, 2014

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

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.

3. Prince Doesn’t Clearly Define the Role of the Moral Law of God

Prince teaches that the Old Testament Law is not necessary anymore for the church, and he makes a simple dichotomy between both covenants. He doesn’t even make an allowance for the need for the moral law of God (the Ten Commandments), except to show us how sinful and lost we are.

The challenge with this simplified view of the Old Testament is that Paul the apostle told us to know the Old Testament so we will not set our heart on evil things and sin as the Jewish nation did (1 Cor. 10:6). Thus, the moral law was still necessary to keep the church in line, according to Paul.
JM quoted 1 Cor 10:6 - "Now these things are examples (warnings and admonitions) for us not to desire or crave or covet or lust after evil and carnal things as they did"- to make the point that "the moral law was still necessary to keep the church in line, according to Paul." However, that is not proper context of what Paul was trying to say in that verse.

If we read through the whole chapter of 1 Cor 9 and 1 Cor 10, not just 10:6, we will find that Paul was NOT telling the church that the moral law was still necessary to keep them in line. In fact, quite the opposite, Paul was saying that the Law did not keep the Israelites wandering in the wilderness in line. Let us look at the following verses in 1 Cor 10 (emphasis in bold mine):

1 For I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, that our forefathers were all under and protected by the cloud [in which God’s Presence went before them], and every one of them passed safely through the [Red] Sea,
2 And each one of them [allowed himself also] to be baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea [they were thus brought under obligation to the Law, to Moses, and to the covenant, consecrated and set apart to the service of God];
3 And all [of them] ate the same spiritual (supernaturally given) food,
4 And they all drank the same spiritual (supernaturally given) drink. For they drank from a spiritual Rock which followed them [produced by the sole power of God Himself without natural instrumentality], and the Rock was Christ.
5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with the great majority of them, for they were overthrown and strewn down along [the ground] in the wilderness.

6 Now these things are examples (warnings and admonitions) for us not to desire or crave or covet or lust after evil and carnal things as they did.
7 Do not be worshipers of false gods as some of them were, as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink [the sacrifices offered to the golden calf at Horeb] and rose to sport (to dance and give way to jesting and hilarity).
8 We must not gratify evil desire and indulge in immorality as some of them did—and twenty-three thousand [suddenly] fell dead in a single day!
9 We should not tempt the Lord [try His patience, become a trial to Him, critically appraise Him, and exploit His goodness] as some of them did—and were killed by poisonous serpents;
10 Nor discontentedly complain as some of them did—and were [a]put out of the way entirely by the destroyer (death).
11 Now these things befell them by way of a figure [as an example and warning to us]; they were written to admonish and fit us for right action by good instruction, we in whose days the ages have reached their climax (their consummation and concluding period).

In 1 Cor 10:1-11, Paul was actually making the point that their forefathers in the desert, even though they received the Law, God was not pleased with the majority of them as they did not behave properly - worshiped idols, indulge in immorality, criticized God and complained incessantly- and suffered grave punishments for their transgressions.

The Law did not help the Israelites to be good moral people but rather served to stir up their lusts for sin and lead them into condemnation and death; that is why Paul says in 1 Cor 15:56 that "It is sin which gives death its power, and it is the Law which gives sin its strength."(J.B. Phillips)

In fact, Paul made it very clear in 1 Cor 9:20-21 that "(he is) not subject to the law" but "(he does) not ignore the law of God; (he) obey the law of Christ." Paul did not depend on the Law to keep himself in line; he just followed this simple rule: "So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (1 Cor 10:31)

(to be continued...Part 3b)

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