Joseph Prince and his message of radical grace -PLUS his word faith teachings.
New Creation Church is located in Singapore. Founded in 1983 by a small group of young believers in Singapore. They grew to about 150 members by 1990. Prince founding member, Formerly an IT consultant, made a career change and founded the New Creation Church in Singapore. Joseph Prince served as an elder and associate pastor and was appointed the senior pastor in 1990 where its congregation was then about 3,000. Prince’s appointment as senior pastor of New Creation Church turned the church around where they started experiencing a steady growth 10,000 members in 2004; 15,000 members in 2007; over 18,000 members in 2009. Today (2011), they are now a mega church in Singapore with a congregation of around 22,000 members. This they attribute to the “radical preaching” of a grace message by Joseph Prince.
It is noted that Singapore's big five megachurches boast spectacular growth( spectacular year-on-year growth.)
It has been reported that his birth name was changed to Joseph Prince from Xenonamandar Jegahusiee Singh. It’s always interesting to see someone change their name. Certainly Xenonamanda is not going to be easily remembered nor pronounced. But changing the name to Joseph Prince (reminiscent of Joseph the Hebrew Prince of Egypt) he seems to have a strategy more than just changing his name to be more easily pronounced or recognized.
His ministry goes beyond Singapore to Europe, Canada, Australia,
the Middle East and South Africa and millions of households across America.
Joseph Prince Ministries also organizes trips to Israel through their own tour
Today His involvement in both New Creation Church and Joseph Prince Ministries, Inc. is on a voluntary basis (bio on newcreation.org). The church periodically releases "praise and worship" albums produced by its music ministry. They are frequented by guest musicians such as Hillsong United that had a youth concert at the church in November 2006.
New Creation Church is a member of the National Council of Churches of Singapore. The church holds services in English, Mandarin, Hokkien and Korean. They are involved in missions throughout the Asian region. They broadcast in more than 150 countries seen on TBN and the Daystar Television Network and on the Australian Christian Channel. Prince does speak at numerous other venues. October 30, 2011 Prince is scheduled to speak at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church. And why not, it’s America’s largest church -- it is also a liberal, word faith church that he would feel right at home.
Prince has become a very popular sought out speaker. He is messages are about grace. He is charismatic, articulate and immediately attracts the listener. He has just enough right knowledge mixed with wrong theology to be dangerous and hurt people as much as he intends to help them.
He is strongly into the word faith teaching which means by faith one has the guarantee to be healthy and prosperous. This is clearly the vein that runs through many of his teachings. But if one does not know what to look for how will they notice it is there? Prince has changed the basic premise that the word faith teaching uses, instead of using faith, it is all “by grace,” so it has more of an appeal.
His book Destined to Reign, was released in July 2007, it contains teachings from the last ten years of preaching his gospel of grace. And one should take notice as to whom he credits in it. “I give thanks tor God for my roots in the Word of Faith teachings. It is truly on the shoulders of great men of God like Brother Kenneth E. Hagin that we are able to see further into the Word of God today. Growing up, I learned a lot about faith from Brother Hagin who truly had a special revelation of faith from the Lord. I deeply honor and respect him for all that he has taught me.” (Joseph Prince, Destined to Reign: The Secret to effortless success, wholeness and victorious living p.271)
Apart from the kudos, little is known about his theological training. Hagin’s teaching consists of many errors and heresies, and formed by his visions. But the main heresy taught is that Jesus did not pay for our sins on the cross but in hell, known as “Jesus Died Spiritually” teaching.
It’s not difficult to know how much Prince believes of Hagin’s teachings (teachings); his background has certainly influenced his teaching on grace. In his sermon "Walking in the undeserved favor of God" (3/28/04), he said: “Now I've been in the Word of Faith circle and I find that Word of Faith preachers know about favor. Churches of faith know about favor. The thing that I wish many of them would say though would be this - to use that phase - undeserved favor. Favor is good and the teaching of favor has produced tremendous testimonies but I would rather the Word of Faith preachers like myself use undeserved favor because that's the true definition of grace. Now I didn't learn amazing grace from Word of Faith though I'm a Word of Faith preacher. I had to learn that truly struggling on my own.” (Source: Jonathan Koh Thoughts on New Creation Church-and grace, faith, health and wealth).
These are his own words, admitting he is a word faith teacher. He then shares his theology with other Word Faith teachers like: Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Paula White, Fred Price and many others (in fact you can hear the echo of their teachers teachings in Princes).
This becomes a grave concern as people are attracted to his inclusive message of grace. His only complaint of Word of Faith preachers like myself is that they qualify favor to “undeserved favor.” Word faith teachers do not teach healing and prosperity as favor but as something dependent on one exercising faith. Many that have lived in these teachings have been overwhelmed with guilt for not having the results promised. Where’s the grace?
He also mentions about fellowshipping with his dear friend Brian Houston, of Hill Song (Destined To Reign, p. 5). Houston is another word faith prosperity teacher. http://www.christian-witness.org/archives/van2000/houston1.html
Many see Prince as an excellent communicator. But what is exactly is he communicating? At first it seems he is focused on God’s grace, but there is a mixture. Many in Asia may not be aware of these issues on doctrine so we might have to begin at ground level to make sense on why what he stating is BIBLICALLY WRONG and can be hazardous to ones spiritual health. There are those who say: anyone who criticizes Prince has not listened to what he preaches. So we should go over what he preaches and what he has written to see what is of grace, what is exaggerated to be error and what is of word faith. We will have a copious amount of quotes through this article series.
Let me begin by giving definitions. Grace is God given because of Jesus Christ. The gospel of the grace of God is based on the finished work of Jesus Christ, the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. The Gospel of grace is enacted through faith in the Son of God and his work. This we know as the Gospel that forgives ones sins. It is about sins effect and a restoration of a severed relationship to God. Phil. 3:9: Paul tell us of the righteousness we have received “through faith in Christ the righteousness which is of God by faith.”
Paul who gave this gospel of grace says in1 Cor. 15:3-4: “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
Prince is considered a leading voice in proclaiming the gospel of grace “The Lord said to me, ‘Bring My Son back to the church’. Is this for him alone? What church did Jesus leave? Because without Jesus it is not his church.
Prince’s teachings may be about grace, but it is not without errors and people need to pay close attention.Prince’s message of grace is mixed with estranged word faith concepts that end up being consumed by the listener who has been choked by law. If one has been oppressed from being under the law, hearing a message of grace is like getting cool glass of water coming out of the desert. When one is starving they don’t separate the different food (right and wrong) to get what they need out of it. They consume it all because they are malnourished. Eventually they will consume the bad food. Many are completely unaware of the differences in these teachings. Some may only hear on grace that they are hungry for but it does not eliminate the word faith theology embedded in his teaching.
Statements made like these are all true, “It is all about Jesus and His finished work! “The law justified no one and condemned the best of us, but grace saves even the worst of us.” (Destined To Reign p.124)
“The law is about you looking at yourself. The new covenant is all about you seeing Jesus.” (ibid. p.196)
“Even though the law is holy, just and good, it has no power to make you holy, just and good.” (ibid. p.16)
"Have you noticed that the law entered so that sin might abound? It clearly means that the more you preach the law, the more sin will abound. After all, the strength of sin is the law. Therefore, when you see sin and you preach more of the law, you are literally adding wood to fire." (ibid. p. 249)
“Stop trying to deserve and earn your own acceptance before God with your own works and efforts. It will only frustrate the grace of God and nullify the effects of the cross in your life. (ibid. p.305)
“The way some people portray God today creates the false impression that His mercy lasts for a moment, but his anger lasts forever!” (ibid. p.211)
“My friend, the spirit of Jesus in the new covenant of grace is not the spirit of the old covenant of law during Elijah’s time.” (ibid. pp. 51-52.)
“It is all about Jesus and His finished work”
“Today, God is all about blessing you with His grace – His undeserved, unearned, and unmerited favor – in every area of your life. Stop trying to deserve and earn your own acceptance before God with your own works and efforts. It will only frustrate the grace of God and nullify the effects of the cross in your life. (ibid. p.305)
“People sometimes ask me, ‘Pastor Prince, if you don’t teach the Ten Commandments to your church, what is going to govern them?’ My friend, the Lord Himself will govern them!” (Unmerited Favor, p.37)
While there are some good points made that accentuate grace; one needs to read many of these quotes in there complete context. Many times his points may be true; it is his application and solution that is not. The main idea Prince is advancing is that because of grace believers only get blessings, they do not need to be concerned about sin, or God’s chastening, grace has done away with the law where judgment and punishment are found. ALL our sins, past and future were forgiven at the cross for the believer, therefore repentance or confession of sin is not necessary. Prince’s whole presentation is that “This (grace) is the secret to effortless success, wholeness, and victorious living!” (Destined to Reign, p. 307). “victorious living is effortless” (ibid. p.243)
To understand his position we need to learn how he was led into this teaching.Prince says in 1997 while on vacation with his wife … “I distinctly heard the voice of the Lord on the inside. It wasn’t a witness of the Spirit. It was a voice, and I heard God say clearly to me: “Son, you are not preaching grace.”
I said, “What do You mean, Lord? That’s a low blow. That’s a real low blow!” I added, “I’m a preacher of grace. I have been a grace preacher for years, and like most preachers, I preach that we are saved by grace!”
He said, “No. Everytime you preach grace, you preach it with a mixture of law. You attempt to balance grace with the law, like many other preachers, and the moment you balance grace, you neutralize it. You cannot put new wine into old wineskins. You cannot put grace and law together.” He went on to say, “Son, a lot of preachers are not preaching grace the way Apostle Paul preached grace.” He then ended emphatically with this statement that revolutionized my ministry: “If you don’t preach grace radically, people’s lives will never be radically blessed and radically transformed.”
That powerful word from the Lord jolted me, and I realized for the first time that I had indeed been preaching a grace message that was tempered with the law. I returned to my church with a strong mandate from the Lord and I began to preach grace radically.” (Joseph Prince, Destined To Reign, pp. vii-viii).
While Prince says that God addressed his preaching a mixture of law with grace; What of his preaching a grace message that has word faith teaching mixed in it? Prince has not abandoned his word faith background which prevents him from teaching the message of grace correctly.
DESTINED TO REIGN
“Lets begin to acknowledge that in and of ourselves, we cannot and do not have the ability and resources to save ourselves…. It is entirely his effort and His doing. Our part is to believe on Him and received all that He has accomplished on our behalf.” It sounds Biblical, reasonable but what does he mean by “receive all”?
From the beginning of his Destined To Reign book, “You are destined to reign in life. You are called by the Lord to be a success, to enjoy wealth, to enjoy health, and to enjoy a life of victory. It is not the Lord’s desire that you live a life of defeat, poverty, and failure” (p. 1).
As we examine his statements it is summed up in the sub-title of this book "The Secret to Effortless Success, Wholeness and Victorious Living.”
Continuing on page 1 and we find “You are destined to reign in life You are called by the Lord to be a success, to enjoy wealth, to enjoy health, and enjoy a life of victory. Prince explains that if we understand grace and its principals, we will see how easy and effortless the Christian walk really is.What we will find is that Prince takes us beyond the grace teaching of the New Testament and attributes as do other word faith teachers millennial promises now.
He continues “He has called you to be the head not the tail.”
“So If you are a businessman, God wants you to have a prosperous business. If you are a homemaker, you are anointed to bring up wonderful children in the Lord. If you are a student, God wants you to excel in all your examinations. And if you are trusting the lord for a new career, He doesn’t just want you to have a job; He wants you to have a position of influence so that you can be a blessing and an asset to your organization!”
Whatever your vocation is, you are destined to reign in life because Jesus is Lord of your life. When you reign in life, you reign over sin, you reign over the powers of darkness, and you reign over depression, over poverty, over every curse, and over every sickness and disease. You REIGN over the devil and all his devices!” (Joseph Prince, Destined To Reign, 2007, p. 1.)
From the beginning this book presents a flawed concept of what takes place under grace, these are exaggerated promises. This is not how the Lord works, carte blanche. As one is faithful in the small things he is promoted further. The Lord does not put one in positions of influence without first testing them. The Lord does not grade everyone an A+, exalt them over everything in life. Where in the Bible does it say that all these are the packaged under grace?
According to Prince if one fails, one struggles with a physical or emotional weakness or in their finances they are obviously not reigning, then they are not in God’s grace. We only have to go to the Bible to see this is incorrect. What of Paul spending much of his time in prison. Paul speaks of the sufferings for the gospel (2 Timothy 1:8-9). “To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands; Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure” (1 Corinthians 4:11-12).
This is the very opposite of what Prince is presenting. Paul further describes in 2 Cor. 11:23-28: that he received “stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.”
Paul is the author of grace teachings in the New Testament and yet he says the very opposite of what Prince is teaching happened to him. Why is that?
The Bible records, “the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20). Word faith teachers never say that you have to give up anything; instead, all things are added to your life.
We find Paul asking to be healed three times. Whether someone believes this to be a physical ailment or an oppression of some sort from Satan, it does not matter. God gave Paul grace but he was NOT healed.There was chastening so God could deal with pride. 2 Cor. 12:7-10 “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Jesus was a suffering servant first before he would reign as king, why do we think it would be any different for us? Are we not to follow him? And here is what he says to follow him
Paul writes in Acts 14:22: "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God." The word means pressures and anguish.
2 Cor 1:6: “Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer.” Peter tells us to rejoice “that you partake of Christ's sufferings”(1 Peter 4:13).
Rom 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” It’s not about now but later that these promises are applied. But this does not fit into Princes grace and word faith mixture he is presenting.
Jesus declared to us, “unless you pick up the cross you cannot follow me, nor are you worthy of Me.” We are to live a lifestyle of selflessness and self-denial so that God’s will and purpose can be accomplished in our lives. To pick up your cross equals a lifestyle of suffering in the flesh to follow Jesus. God uses trials, sufferings to develop faith and to slowly transform us into the new persons in His Son’s image.
Prince is preaching of a Jesus that will give you everything beneficial because you are in covenant with him, God says it is our faith that is precious.
Everyone does not have the same blessings because of grace, what about God’s will for the individual. Not all the apostles had the same blessings; in fact the only thing they shared in was suffering and persecution. Can one actually say this is true for all Christians in active communists countries or Muslims converting in Islamic lands where Christianity is illegal?
Effortless Christianity – not according to Jesus,Luke 13:24: "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able." Striving has effort, the word is agonize, and if one thinks it is a yellow brick road after that then they need to understand what Jesus said about becoming a learner of him.
This is what it means to pick up the cross. We are to take the whole counsel of God, not the bless me parts that everyone covets after.There are hundreds of passages which don't fit an effortless success or life accompanying grace. Prince says the Bible promises wealth, health and material success to all believers in grace. Is it no wonder people are so attracted to messages like Joseph Prince; it is a feel good message especially for those damaged by legalism which is rampant in the church. The love of the truth is going to cost us something. Its NOT going to be effortless. Yes, Christ's grace DOES empower us but we should not entertain being a receiver of his amplifications of what grace will do. Whatever help Prince may be giving to people who are caught in legalism, it will be temporary; eventually they will have to deal with his exaggerated grace view and his embedded word faith teaching.
Prince uses Romans 5:17 …“For by one man‘s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through one Jesus Christ.” stating that: “ The word reign used here comes from the Greek word basileuo where you get the English word “ basilica”. In ancient Rome, basilicas were used law courts. So it refers to a kingly rule, judicial rule. In other words, to reign in life as a king, to have kingly rule and to possess kingly dominion.”
He goes on to say about living a live of defeat which he interprets sicknesses, broken relationships, financial lack, you are to have kingly dominion over all your challenges and circumstances. (underline mine)
Here is the grand flaw of Prince’s interpretation; some things are promised to believers now and others things are promised to believers when Christ comes again, but this is not the way Prince presents it, he makes no distinctions because his word faith teachings are the basis for his interpretation.
Basileia, denotes “sovereignty, royal power, and dominion. It further denotes the territory or people over whom a King rules” (From Vine’s Expository Dictionary, p. 344). Moody’s states, “kingdom” is a designation both of power and the form of government as well as, especially in the later writers, the territory and the rule - the Kingship and the Kingdom. Hence, the basic meaning of kingdom involves three things - a ruler, a people who are ruled, and a territory over which they are ruled. (Moody Handbook of Theology p. 352).
Paul spoke of this Kingdom and our ruling in a future tense (1 Cor. 6:9; 15:50; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:5). 2 Peter 1:10-11 also speaks of the Kingdom in a future tense. Concerning the future, the Lord taught His disciples to pray, “Thy Kingdom come” (Matt 6:10), where the verb is in the point tense, precluding the notion of a gradual progress and development and implying a sudden catastrophe as declared in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, p. 345).
Lets compare the beginning thought and the summation in Romans 5:17 “those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” V:21 “so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The focal point is on Jesus Christ, who is the head of the church whom we are to submit to in our lives.
Here is what Paul is saying in relation to this topic. As death reigned over those who were under condemnation, those who are delivered from sin by Christ shall reign with him in life. In other words we now reign over sin because we have received the gift of righteousness That we no longer are slaves but have a choice. This will one day bring us into a completed righteousness where we will be permanently without sin and fit to reign. How do we know this is future? Because the same author says so. 2 Timothy 2:12, "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him;"
“Revelation 5:10 They reign basileuousin (NT:928). Present active indicative, futuristic use, though 'Aleph and P have the future basileusousin (NT:928) (shall reign) as in Revelation 20:6. (Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)
Rev.22:5. We will be exalted to a glorious state having the ultimate victory over death and sin Revelation 3:21; Luke 22:30. This means we must have a change to transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body” (Phil. 3:21)
we will reign over death as a result of Jesus’ resurrectionthat we may “live and reign with him forever”
Princes statement: “REIGN over the devil and all his devices.” NO, 2 Corinthians 2:11 Tells us not to be “ignorant of his devices,’ not rule over him. Because Romans 16:20 says “the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.” It is Jesus’ return that bringsthis about, not before. Prince is giving millennial blessings for today, which is the main flaw of his interpretation. For now, we are a kingdom of priests.
Do we need to receive what Christ has for us, yes, and we don’t need to strive for it, as Prince states its about grace. However, we are still in the sanctification stage and must arrive at the glorification stage for us to be qualified to rule and reign under the king.
As we further examine his teachings we will see this exaggeration of grace accompanied with word faith teachings affects nearly everything he teaches.