Joseph Prince’s Unscriptural Ideas About Dealing With Temptation

In the videoclip below, Singaporean megachurch pastor Joseph Prince advised his church to “rest” when tempted.

Even if you are tempted, you don’t try to overcome it. Let Jesus handle it,” said Prince.

Although the advice sounds “spiritual”, it is actually unscriptural and adverse to one’s spiritual well-being if put into practice.

According to our Lord Jesus Christ, this is how we are to handle temptation – PRAYER!

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41; NIV)

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Mark 14:38)

On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” (Luke 22:40)

“Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” (Luke 22:40)

Also, the bible teaches us that true believers do overcome:

I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because YOU HAVE overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:13; emphasis added)

I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and YOU HAVE overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:14; emphasis added)

YOU, dear children, are from God and HAVE OVERCOME THEM, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4; emphasis added)

Indeed, the ability to overcome is the hallmark of a true believer:

For everyone born of God overcomes the world. (1 John 5:4a)

Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:5)

A believer who does not overcome, but who is instead overcome, is in a spiritually perilous place:

If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. (2 Peter 2:20)

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Watchman Nee: It is Wrong to Consider the Righteousness of Christ as Our Righteousness

In a blog post by Singaporean megachurch pastor Joseph Prince, he wrote: “When God gave us Jesus, He became our righteousness. So we have His righteousness. This means that we are 100 per cent righteous in God’s eyes! We cannot but have first-class righteousness!

However, writing more than half a century ago, the late church leader and Christian teacher Watchman Nee pointed out that view is erroneous.

Below are excerpts from Nee’s book “The Finest of the Wheat, Volume 2”:

What, then, is our righteousness? This is a basic lesson which we Christians must learn thoroughly. We ought to know that in providing for our salvation God solved the problem of righteousness as well as that of sin. Through righteousness God has forgiven our sins, and He has also prepared for us a righteousness by which we can always come to Him. Forgiveness is like taking a bath; righteousness is like wearing a robe. Among men we are clothed that we may appear before them. So too, God clothes us with righteousness that we may live before Him; that is, that we may see Him. He has already cleansed our sins and given us a righteousness by which we may live in His presence.

What is our righteousness? The word of God tells us that our righteousness is Christ—the Lord Jesus himself. “But of [God] are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1.30). From this rich verse we will lift out but one item and concentrate our attention upon it alone—namely, that God has made Christ our righteousness.

Not the Righteousness of Christ

Before we discuss how Christ is our righteousness, we wish to explain briefly that the righteousness of Christ and Christ our righteousness are two totally distinct subjects. It is wrong to consider the righteousness of Christ as our righteousness. The righteousness of Christ cannot be our righteousness; it is Christ himself who is our righteousness.

The word found in 2 Peter 1.1—“the righteousness of our God and the Saviour Jesus Christ”—points to the righteousness which Christ himself possesses. If the Lord Jesus himself is not righteous, He is not qualified to be the Saviour, and we have no way to be saved. This righteousness is purely for Christ himself, not for Him to give to us. The Bible never says the righteousness of the Lord Jesus saves us, because this righteousness is for the purpose of qualifying Him to be our Saviour. His righteousness cannot be reckoned as our righteousness. His righteousness is that which He lives out while on earth. It is His personal standing before God. It is the righteousness of Christ’s personal conduct. It has no way to be imparted to us. Christ’s righteousness is what He himself has worked out. It is exclusively His and is absolutely unrelated to us. It is for this reason that the word of God never says we are “in Jesus.” In being Jesus He is still the only begotten Son of God—He has not yet become the firstborn Son and hence we are not yet the many sons. We therefore have no part in Him.

Let us understand that our union with Christ begins at His cross, not at His incarnation. Until the time of the cross, all that Christ has is exclusively His own; He has not yet shared anything with us. If a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it bears much fruit (many grains). Only since the Lord Jesus has died are we now those fruits, those many grains. Our union with Christ begins at His death, not at His birth. Calvary is where we are united with Him; at Bethlehem there is no such union. Before Calvary, we can only view His righteousness; we cannot share in it. The Bible from its beginning to its end tells us that we are not saved by the righteousness of Christ nor do we become righteous by His righteousness. Our becoming righteous before God is only because of Christ himself.

Some may ask, Does not the Bible tell us that God has given us the righteous robe of the Lord Jesus? But we would counter, Does God’s word say that God will clothe us with the righteous robe of the Lord Jesus or that He will clothe us with the Lord Jesus as a righteous robe? In other words, are we clothed with the righteousness of the Lord Jesus or clothed with the Lord Jesus himself? In point of fact, we have never read in God’s word that we are clothed with the righteousness of the Lord Jesus; we read instead that we are clothed with the Lord Jesus: “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 13.14).

We see here a most wonderful and distinctive thing: our righteousness before God is not the earthly conduct of the Lord Jesus, our righteousness before Him is the Lord Jesus, a living person. Today we come to God because we are clothed with the Lord Jesus himself. The Lord Jesus is our righteousness; and this is not the righteousness which He has, but He himself as righteousness. Accordingly, since the Lord Jesus lives forever, we have righteousness before God at all times. We may come to Him with boldness at any time, for we have the Lord Jesus as our righteousness.

Christ Is Righteousness

If our righteousness before God were our conduct we would be very unstable, because our conduct is sometimes good and sometimes bad; furthermore, our good conduct is always limited and can never meet the standard of God. Thank God, the righteousness we have before Him is not our conduct, but Christ; we are therefore immovable before Him. Today you may not be very strong and good Satan will come and tempt you, saying, “What are you, after all? God will not have such a person as you” But you can reply: “You have forgotten, Satan, that my righteousness before God is not my good conduct of yesterday nor is it my less good conduct of today; but my righteousness before Him is Christ. Christ has not changed today, so my righteousness remains unchanged.” Should the garment we wear be of our own making, it would be dirty rags and we would be quite unable to meet God. But we are today clothed with Christ; hence we have boldness to see God. Oh! This is deliverance, this is emancipation, this is the foundation of Christian doctrine.

Suppose we imagine ourselves asking a brother who knows the word of God: “Will your righteousness ever fail?” He will answer, “No, never.” “But will your conduct ever fail?” we may ask. He will say, “Certainly.” Do you see that his righteousness will never fail, though his conduct may? His righteousness is not his conduct. If this were true, then when his conduct failed, his righteousness would fail too. Yet his righteousness is not his conduct, it is not that which is subject to failure; his righteousness is the Christ who never fails. And so our righteousness too never fails; it is as unfailing as Christ is. Now this may sound too bold, but it is the word of God. Our righteousness is Christ. Because He never fails, our righteousness never fails either.

Some may perhaps inquire, Does it then mean that our bad conduct does not matter? It definitely does matter. For the Bible shows us that a Christian has two garments: one is the Lord Jesus, for He is our robe, He is our righteousness; the other is the bright and pure fine linen of Revelation 19.8: “For the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” (“Righteous acts” is “righteousnesses” in the original, meaning the many acts of righteousness.) All the good conduct of a Christian—all his outward righteousnesses—come from grace as a result of the working of the Holy Spirit in him; they are not something which he has naturally. As we approach God we are not naked, because we are clothed with Christ who is our righteousness. However, as we appear before the judgment seat of Christ we must bring our own righteousness, that which is called the righteousnesses of the saints (see 2 Cor. 5.10, 1 Cor. 4.5)…

There is one name in the Old Testament which is very precious. It is “Jehovah our righteousness” (Jer. 23.6, 33.16). Jehovah is our righteousness, therefore our righteousness is not our conduct. May God open our eyes that we may see the gospel, even the foundation of the gospel. As we come to God, Christ—not our conduct—is our righteousness. The Lord is our righteousness. We come to Him through Christ. What else is as firm and immovable as this? . . .

We will now consider the third matter, which is found in 2 Corinthians 5.21: “Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God.” We who sinned are saved because Christ was made sin for us. We who are saved through the work of Christ have now become the righteousness of God in Him. This is a direct complement to 1 Corinthians 1.30. There we see that “Christ became our righteousness”; here in 2 Corinthians we find that “we become the righteousness of God.” Whoever acknowledges the One that was without sin and yet was made sin for us becomes himself the righteousness of God.

God’s Redemption Reveals God’s Righteousness

We do not know how to say it, for it is truly most wonderful: we become the righteousness of God! The Bible tells us that our righteousness is Christ and God’s righteousness is we ourselves. God has made Christ our righteousness, He has also made us His righteousness in Christ. What does it mean by our becoming the righteousness of God? It means that if anyone wants to learn and to see the righteousness of God, he need only find a Christian, for it is expressed in the life of a Christian. For this reason, a Christian is the righteousness of God.

Before we believe in the Lord we are blind to God’s standards for righteousness and unrighteousness. But even after we become Christians, we may still be confused in identifying what is righteous and what is unrighteous. God will therefore not only save us but also teach us the lesson on righteousness. In His redemption He not only saves the unrighteous but He also instructs us as to what righteousness is . . . .

Learn to Be Righteous

Having come in by this way of righteousness, we are encouraged to learn a lesson; which is, that we Christians must learn to be righteous. We must not be loose in our daily walk. Since God has been so righteous in saving us, we must be righteous lest we stand as a contradiction to Him. Because of redemption, we as the saved manifest the righteousness of God; because of the teaching that is brought to us through redemption our lives must also manifest the righteousness of God.

We ought to live righteously. We should always remember that even in saving us God cannot be unrighteous. He cannot be unrighteous towards himself, for His nature is righteous and hence He cannot deny himself. Being the specimen of God’s righteousness, how can we do anything unrighteous? Since the only one and true God needs to be righteous, ought we not to live justly on earth? . . .

Hence we must learn the principle of righteousness. What is righteousness? Righteousness means owing nothing to anybody: take not what is undeserved and give not what is improper. Let us reinforce this by stating that as God cannot be unrighteous towards himself so we who belong to Him ought not to be unrighteous. We should not owe any man anything. Whether we are good Christians who are making good progress depends a great deal on our understanding of, and feeling towards, righteousness when we first entered upon the Way. Many so-called Christians cause plenty of heartache to others because they never seem to have any sense of righteousness, are not even aware of what unrighteousness is. Some, upon having become Christians, have never once apologized or made any restitution. Is it because everything they had done or now do is right? If we do not acknowledge our faults, there can be only two possible explanations: either we are always right and never wrong, or else we will not confess our fault. May God be merciful to us that we may not deceive ourselves into thinking we have never done wrong; that we may not refuse—due to hardness of heart or a desire to save face—to acknowledge our fault.

Joseph Prince’s Claim That “Righteousness Is Not Right Doing But Right Being” is Misleading

According to Singaporean megachurch pastor Joseph Prince, “righteousness is not right doing but right being”.

In support of his conclusions, he cites Romans 4:5:

But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness (Romans 4:5; NKJV)

The verse above suggests that God justifies “the ungodly” based on his/her faith.

In addition, according to Philippians 3:9 (NIV),  before each of us were “found in him”, we did not possess any righteousness of our own, but that we obtained “righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith”.

However, Joseph Prince’s claim that “righteousness is not right doing but right being” gives churchgoers the false impression that true believers in Jesus Christ are either incapable of or are prohibited from living righteously, from the moment of their conversion.

It also gives the nominal churchgoers a false sense of security that they are saved even though they choose to persist living in sin.

These misunderstandings by many followers of Joseph Prince arise because of a lack of awareness, or a disregard among them, that when a person truly believes in Jesus Christ, he/she becomes a “new creature” not just positionally or status wise, but FOR REAL:

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17; NASB)

You see, before a believer knew Jesus Christ, he/she was ungodly (Romans 4:5), a “slave of sin” (Romans 6:17), and “powerless” (Romans 5:6) to behave righteously.

However, from the moment that a person has faith in Jesus Christ, he/she was to offer himself/herself as a slave of obedience, and which would as a consequence lead to righteous living:

Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? (Romans 6:16, NASB, emphasis added)

Please note that there is no middle ground here! One is either a “slave of sin” or a “slave of righteousness”. One cannot be both or neither of them — a person who claims to be a true believer in Jesus Christ must count himself/herself to be a slave of righteousness from the moment of conversion:

But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (Romans 6:17-18; NIV; emphasis added)

Just as you USED TO offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, SO NOW offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. (Romans 6:19b; NIV; emphasis added).

It is precisely because there is no middle ground that we find it written in 1 John 3:7 (NIV): “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.

In conclusion, if you consider yourself to be a Christian, you must also by default be living to do what is right. If instead, you are living for the pleasures of sin and of this world, you are not a true follower of Jesus Christ, and I urge you then to quickly change the course of your life!

 

Cheap Grace versus Costly Grace (An Essay Written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

We live in a world where many pulpits are teaching “cheap grace” — an imitation form of grace. In the essay below, WW2 martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, compares “cheap grace” with true and costly grace, that is able to save the soul

Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our church. We are fighting today for costly grace.

Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the church’s inexhaustible treasury from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?

Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian “conception” of God. An intellectual assent to that idea is held to be of itself sufficient to secure remission of sins. The church which holds the correct doctrine of grace has, it is supposed, ipso facto a part in that grace. In such a church the world finds a cheap covering for its sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin. Cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God, in fact, a denial of the incarnation of the Word of God.

Grace alone does everything, they say, and so everything can remain as it was before. Instead of following Christ, let the Christian enjoy the consolations of grace! That is what we mean by cheap grace, the grace which amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs from sin and from whom sin departs. Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves.

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

A Costly Calling

Costly grace, on the other hand, is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows Him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock (Matthew 7:7-8).

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of His Son: “Ye were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20), and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Costly grace is the incarnation of God.

Costly grace is the sanctuary of God; it has to be protected from the world. It is therefore the living word, the Word of

God, which He speaks as it pleases Him. Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus; it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).

The Terrible Price of Cheap Grace

Cheap grace has been disastrous to our own spiritual lives. Instead of opening up the way to Christ it has closed it. Instead of calling us to follow Christ, it has hardened us in our disobedience. Perhaps we had once heard the gracious call to follow Him, and had at this command even taken the first few steps along the path of discipleship in the discipline of obedience, only to find ourselves confronted by the word of cheap grace.

The only effect that such a word could have on us was to bar our way to progress, and seduce us to the mediocre level of the world, quenching the joy of discipleship by telling us that we were following a way of our own choosing, that we were spending our strength and discipling ourselves in vain—all of which was not merely useless, but extremely dangerous. After all, we were told, our salvation had already been accomplished by the grace of God.

The smoking flax was mercilessly extinguished. It was unkind to speak to men like this, for such a cheap offer could only leave them bewildered and tempt them from the way to which they had been called by Christ. Having laid hold on cheap grace, they were barred forever from the knowledge of costly grace. Deceived and weakened, men felt that they were strong now that they were in possession of this cheap grace—whereas they had in fact lost the power to live the life of discipleship and obedience. The word of cheap grace has been the ruin of more Christians than any commandment of works.

Happy are they who know that discipleship simply means the life which springs from grace, and that grace simply means discipleship.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian who was hanged in April of 1945 for allegedly taking part in the attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler. Bonhoeffer publicly spoke-out against Adolf Hitler soon after his rise to power, and today, Bonhoeffer is still remembered for his courage in speaking out against the tyranny of the Nazis and their leader. His writings on Christianity’s role in the secular world have become widely influential.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

YOKED TOGETHER? New Creation Church Co-organises Interfaith Concert With Taoist Federation

New Creation Church (NCC) has co-organised an interfaith concert with the Taoist Federation of Singapore.

According to The Straits Times, the concert was held last night (6 July 2015) at NCC’s premises The Star Performing Arts Centre located in Buona Vista.

About four thousand people attended the “Harmony in Diversity” concert and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was its guest of honour.

The organisers of the concert told Channel NewsAsia that they wanted to celebrate racial and religious harmony during the nation’s SG50 milestone.