I’m not going to write much in this post but really open it up to comments from you readers. I’d like to hear from you all. The topic is about “discipleship”. A few readers have emailed me regarding the question of discipleship and New Creation. I have to be careful in the way I phrase the question, but questions being asked are things like whether there’s a lack of emphasis (or even totally nothing at all) on discipleship in New Creation – i.e. in the church’s message, vision, structure, etc. That’s one of the major criticisms of New Creation.
What do you guys think? I hope to hear from some readers who are from Covenant Evangelical Free Church because the church is big on discipleship and considers itself an intentional discipleship making church. Maybe we can learn something from them? I also hope to hear from New Creation members themselves. I’ll share some of my own thoughts in a future post!
Part 2 here.
I’m from New Creation, and am a noob when it comes to theology stuff, but I’ll try to put it as i understand the whole thing to be.
For me, each church has its own purpose/mission/emphasis, and I think Ps Prince’s mission is to get the gospel of grace out there to as many people as possible. Perhaps the time will come in the future where NCC will go into discipleship, but it isn’t now.
Regarding the criticism, from what I’ve seen and heard, I like to think it’s a waste of time. There is no perfect church after all.
Have you got any comments about the recent publicity NCC and Ps Prince are getting? Suddenly I’m getting asked about it at my workplace, and people are in AWE that olivia lum is a member of the congregation. I sometimes find it difficult to put it across since 1) I’m a young Christian (3 years in church) and 2) I’m not of the habit of expounding theology to people who have very different beliefs. Have you experienced that before? =)
I’m not from Covenant Evangelical Free Church but from Paya Lebar Methodist, the 2nd largest Methodist Church in Singapore (Wesley is the largest).
We have invited Ps Edmund Chan to speak at our Church Camp next year, so discipleship is something that resonates deeply in the heart of the church leadership.
Having been a Methodist all my life, and now having also caught the grace message, I have come to realise that placing emphasis on discipleship, serving the Lord in a ministry, prayer, fasting, etc is well and good, and it gets people excited at the start.
However, these programs and campaigns are not sustainable because they deteriorate into a set of dos and don’ts.
From a grace gospel perspective, the above are all fruit. The root is to focus on Jesus and His finished work.
When we behold Jesus and what He has done for us, we become transformed from glory to glory, and the above fruit like discipleship, serving, prayer, etc would be produced.
New Creation Church is doing the right thing by focusing on the root. And we see the fruit — long queues, no lack of volunteers to serve in the various ministries, generous givers, boldness to embark on a 500m project, etc etc
Just like to add… there is discipleship in ncc… i think there’s little preaching about it because the sermons are mainly for feeding. But if you are involved in the different ministries and cgs, you will find discipleship, correcton and building up going on because there are leaders and fellow believers guiding and loving you.
I see discipleship as a means by which the church tries to “consolidate” itself – getting members to know the theology of the church and getting them rooted in the church. In NCC, it is not done in a structured way like in other churches. It is an interesting approach however, the result is yet to be seen in the long term.
Discipleship has to start from inner transformation than a set of principles and methodology.
Once we are grounded in the “indicatives” and experience transformation, discipleship will take place.
Many churches treat discipleship as a set of methodology to help young Christians to grow as babes to become a mature Christian. It focuses much on teaching and a set of disciplines.
But for discipleship to succeed, it is has start with the person’s relationship with God and how much he understands the full meaning of Salvation and His Love. Once this foundation is set, he should see a set of disciplines ( imperatives ) needed for him to live a Christian life as taught by the Scripture.
He will understand how he needs to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to continue to walk in Christ.
To do otherwise runs the risk of carnal effects to try to live the imperatives with self discipline, self effort and determination. He will eventually be disillusioned with his difficulties to follow these principles and give up.
I agree with Stephanie,Malcolm,Zpring statements
Having read your article about “indicatives” and “imperatives”, here is the applicaton:
The indicatives are the foundation, ie knowing who we are in Christ and what He has already accomplished for us.
The imperatives result from knowing our identity in Christ, and thus the fruit of the Spirit is produced — love, joy, peace, patience, etc — and with that discipleship, missions, etc.
To put it another way, the former is the horse, and the latter is the cart.
The challenge is to not to put the cart before the horse. Otherwise, the carriage will not go very far, if it all :-)
I attended an AOG church for about 30 years since i was a kid, and now have been attending NCC for the past 5 years but I have to ask:
What is discipleship?
It is a familiar term that I have heard in church over the years but I really don’t know what it means.
I do not serve in any ministry in NCC, just attend service to listen to the sermons every week. My personal experience so far in NCC is this: every week I learn more and more about who Jesus is and what I am in Christ.
Last month, Pastor Prince preached on prayer – what it means to pray earnestly. 3 weeks ago, I learnt about the 4 faces of Jesus and how I am protected from the attacks of the evil one when I am in Christ. Last Sunday, Pastor Prince preached on following God’s unshakeable system (as opposed to the world’s system which has been thoroughly shaken in the last few months) and standing on the unshakeable rock that is Jesus.
Aren’t these sermons (and more) making a disciple out of me?
‘Outsiders’ cannot understand how just listening to preaching can change lives. They want to see church-programs whose headings specify certain aspects of Christian growth/training that should take place. Then they’ll be satisfied the church has ‘done something about it’. As far as I’m concerned, all the training that takes place in those programs are already taking place from the NCC pulpit.
Every kind of growth or change starts in the mind. It’s internal vs. merely external change.
There are many who criticize about how people in NCC just ‘sit & listen & do nothing’. I would like to qualify that this ‘do nothing’ actually means ‘do nothing in the flesh’–i.e. out of an immature understanding of what it is that God really wants us to do.
Transiting from human & fleshly impulses to a completely spirit-led approach to everything we do is a much longer & deeper process than many of those ‘highly efficient’ church programs take into account. NCC’s policy is that people are not supposed to serve in ministries until they’ve attended the church for minimum 6 months.
Billy Graham was once asked: if he knew that Jesus would come again in 3 years’ time, what would he spend that 3 years doing? He replied that he would spend the first 2.5yrs just being holed-up & listening to God, and spend the last 6 months preaching.
Then again not every church can or should follow NCC’s ‘model’. If the pulpit is not feeding people enough I guess they need to be fed through specific church-based courses or programs. I think NCC’s model is specific to NCC and is as closely Holy Spirit-directed as Ps Prince is capable of letting it be.
Some have also asserted that many modern discipleship methodologies are actually non-biblical. For example, check out this article & several others from the same blog (search ‘discipleship’ on this blog):-
I want to suggest that anyone who has not attended NCC for at least a few months–or listened to an equivalent amount of sermons, even if they have read Ps Prince’s book, has not really gotten a hold of what’s actually taking place or what’s actually being taught. A lot of criticism is prejudice from hearsay.
I’ve not read Ps Prince’s book ‘Destined to Reign’, but I have come across quite a few pastors who have read that book and come away highly critical. Somehow I get the feeling that book isn’t doing Ps Prince justice.
Haha.. Stanley! *hi-5* I was reading the comments yesterday and wondering how can i contribute to the article. And then I came back here, decided to post the question you’ve just asked: What is discipleship? :p
I dunno why i didn’t think of doing this before but I just did a google search & here’s what came up (among many): http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-discipleship.html
But after reading what Gamine wrote, I felt I got what I needed to understand on Discipleship & how NewCre ppl does it. The link to pastor/Dr Alex Tang’s post was helpful too.
And now even as it may seems ‘strange’ to other christians but I think that we at NCC are discipled by the Person, Jesus and not a methodology.
Everything that contributes to discipleship is inspired through/led by Jesus Christ in us. Although certain aspects may seems longer to manifest but we know all things work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose.
To quote Stanley’s comment on my blog some time back, he said:
“There is a Chinese proverb – ‘feed an army for a thousand days only to use them on one.’
We may seem to be idle Christians, just feeding on His Word and not “doing” anything but take heart from the Chinese proverb – we are just getting ready for that one moment the Lord wants to use us, at the right place, at the right time.”
As we feed on Jesus & His finished work on the cross for us, obedience, fruitfulness & love for others becomes a by-product.
In evangelism :
“PP mentioned that some people go but some are sent. If you go, you will be relying on your own skills and effort to accomplish. But if you are sent, then God will fill you with His spirit and the necessary ability and intelligence, knowledge and skills.”
I’d like to re-quote what gamine says on “I think NCC’s model is specific to NCC and is as closely Holy Spirit-directed as Ps Prince is capable of letting it be.” Amen! :)
We love because He first loved us. We serve because He first served us.
I’m from Covenant Evangelical Free Church but I’ve caught the Gospel of Grace.
Yes discipleship is important but we need to be careful not to approach it from an old covenant perspective under law.Heb 8:10-13
Programmes are meant to suit the needs of the people but when we try to make people conform to the programmes,there is a danger of going into legalism.
In the new covenant,we as believers are under the ministry of righteouness.His righteousness based on His finished work.
There is alot of sermons on doing but hardly on REST.Heb 4
A Christian that truly rest can truly do.Eg Mary & Matha.Mary knows when to anoint Jesus feet at the right time at the right place after having rested at Jesus feet,listening to His Word.
People even unbelievers get the impression from what is often preach is that we need to earn God’s favour by obeying the law.
Grace is unearned,unmerited and undeserved favour.Those who are led by the Spirit are not under law.Gal 5:18
And yet many Christians are taught in a law base discipleship environment instead from a grace base discipleship viewpoint.This will result in disciples who just follow a system or church programme instaed of the Spirit.
2 Cor 3:6 says that we are sufficient as ministers(servants) of the new covenant.
We are married to Christ and have no more ties with the law.Rom 7:4,Gal 2:19
This doesn’t make us lawless but law free.
It was for freedom that Christ has set us free ! Gal 5:1
I have been a Christian since 1985 and I have had enough of law base proagrammes that wear me out with no satisfaction at all.
It is the love of Christ that compels me from within.That is the new covenant way.2 Cor 5:14
Thanks to everyone here who have responded. It’s good hearing what you all think. I do have some questions for you Jeffrey since you’re from CEFC. I’d love for you to share more. Feel free to respond to some questions I have below:
1) When and how did you catch “the gospel of grace”? Did this happen in CEFC through CEFC’s messages?
2) What made you continue to stay on in CEFC?
3) How do you find CEFC’s preaching/teaching (especially its focus on discipleship and it being an IDMC) in relation to the “gospel of grace”? Is there any conflict? Do you find a “mixture” (in NCC’s terms) being preached there?
4) What is discipleship to CEFC? And what’s an Intentional Discipleship Making Church exactly – i.e. what are its unique features?
5) What do you think are the good/bad points of CEFC’s focus on discipleship and it being an IDMC?
6) What do you think NCC can learn from CEFC?
Thanks for your response.I gave my name so I risk being persecuted for what I may say.Ha ha.
1) I caught the Gospel of Grace about 3 years ago.A friend of mine from NCC invited me to his church and passed me a book by James Richards-Grace the power to transform.That book helped me besides Pastor Prince sermons.
2) I’m still in CEFC because my children likes the Kid’s church there.
3) This is a sensitive question for me to answer.CEFC preaches a mixed message as they believe in “balance teaching.”This is in terms of what the Bible says.Rom 11:6,Gal 3:12
4)I believe in what CEFC is doing though about discipleship.That’s the vision of CEFC.It’s about making disciples(followers) of a “certain kind”.I think there is only one kind.The New Creation.
As for it’s unique features,I’ll leave that to the pastors to communicate that message.
I believe as what Paul Anderson Walsh says,”In order to change the world’s mindset about Christianity,we have to change the church mindset about God.That He’s a God of love and grace!”
The Gospel of grace is for the saved and unsaved,the church and the unchurched.
We have a grace fellowship for people to raise questions like you.Contact email@example.com
Contemplated for very long whether I shd comment. Let me say first i have never attended any NCC service, only listened to sermons. I came from another mega church, was there for 8 years. I grew a lot there, but the church also focused a lot on programmes and attendance. When I came to CEFC, I was pleasantly surprised. First thing, there’s a lot of focus on the inner life with God rather than the externalities. I quote something I learnt from the IDMC conference, abt being the certain kind of disciple:
“We often see the Great Commission as an assignment from God when it is first and foremost an alignment with God. Not merely a call to apprenticeship but first and foremost a call to allegiance. Not merely a call to advance the Kingdom, but first and foremost a call to abide in the King”.
I think we agree on one thing, we must know the grace of God, before we can do things “for” Him. Actually we should be doing things “with” Him and “in” Him.
But the other aspect I see as impt is to count the cost of discipleship- there is an allegiance to Christ, and obedience to His calling. In the new testament Paul was imprisoned for his faith and so was the Thessalonians church persecuted. Today we see the church in China growing, in the midst of it being persecuted. We do need to realise that there’s a cost to following Christ. Does being a Christian always promise that we are always healthy and prosperous? And if we are not healed, does it mean that God is unfaithful? But God is sovereign. And in the face of persecution, in following the call of God, there is also what Paul calls as filling up the sufferings of Christ. And I think having been saved, our whole paradigm and priority changes radically. For example, the size of our houses, or how big our cars are, shdn’t matter much to us. Consider that Jesus come as a helpless infant and as a servant. He didn’t come as a celebrity. And that is radical, when our values no longer follow the world’s measures of success.
Second thing I enjoy abt CEFC is its emphasis on “authentic discipleship”. Pastors on the pulpit admit their weaknesses, and how they rely on God. I think it also reflects the sense of being secured in God, and not needing to present ourselves as better than we are. I think it really helps in identifying with the congregation. In other words it is the “nothing to prove, nothing to lose, nothing to hide life”, which I really yearn for. Its ironic cos I hope I’m not trying to prove anything by commenting here…but hopefully there’s some food for thought fr another perspective.
Thanks for your comments Lois.I think God is not against us having prosperity but against prosperity having us.Gen 26:12-14
Many man of God in the Bible were prosperous.Abraham,Issac,David etc.Jesus wasn’t exactly poor.How could He have fed 5000 men excluding women and children if He was poor?
Jesus always had more than enough to bless others.Be it food,healing and whatever is needed.
A person not being healed doesn’t prove God is unfaithful anymore than a person not being saved.
Jesus is perfect theology.We can’t find in the Bible anywhere when Jesus said to those who come to be healed saying,”I’m sorry I can’t heal you because it’s God’s will for you to die of this disease.”
1 Peter 2:24 says by His stripes we WERE HEALED.(It’s a finished work)
Salvation means sozo.Not just saved from sin but also healing,health,prosperity,wholeness,peace.3 Jn 2 ,2 Cor 8:9
Is 53:4 SURELY He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows…by His wounds we are healed.
X-refer Mtt 8:17
This was to FULLFILL what was spoken thru Isaiah:
He took our infirmities and carried our DISEASES
Yes I agree that we must know the grace of God.But what is the grace of God?
It is the unearned,unmerited and undeserved favour of God.
By obeying the 10 commandments? No.The law has been nailed to the cross and we have died to the law.By the righteouness of faith or obedience of faith.2 Cor 5:21,Rom 4:4-8,Col 2:13-14,Gal 2:19,Rom 7:4
What is the core curriculum of discipleship?
The sermon on the Mount?
Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the techers of the LAW,you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven
No.That’s under the old covenanat to the Jews before Christ death on the cross.
It is the Gospel of Grace.
It is the Gospel,the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.
What is the core of the Gospel?Which is the core curriculum for authentic discipleship
The righteousness of God as a gift.From faith to faith.Not faith to works.
What is the main clause of the new covenant?
The forgiveness of sins.Not reminder of sins.
I may not like the way a pastor dresses,the car he drives but what is more important is the message he delivers.
What’s more important than where a cook stays is what food he’s serving me with.
I agree that the godly will suffer persecution.But ALL His promises are for us and they are yes and amen,NO MATTER HOW MANY.And that includes healing.Because Jesus paid for it!!!2 Cor 1:20,Ep 1:3
No offense bro.Just sharing from the bible,not from the pulpit.
Jesus came that we might have life (His life) and life more abundantly.Jn 10:10.Rom 5 :17
Surely that couldn’t mean being broke,sick and helpless.
God wants us to reign in life.Brother,you are DESTINED TO REIGN ! That’s really what the Bible means by GOOD NEWS!!!
“Jesus wasn’t exactly poor.How could He have fed 5000 men excluding women and children if He was poor?”
Jesus performed a miracle to feed the 5000. He used his divine power, not material wealth. What has this to do with Jesus being “not exactly poor”? Do you not believe that Jesus performed the miracle?
“Salvation means sozo.Not just saved from sin but also healing,health,prosperity,wholeness,peace.3 Jn 2 ,2 Cor 8:9”
I cannot comprehend how someone can use 3 Jn 2 to substantiate that sozo applies to health/prosperity in this verse.
In all first century letters, there is a certain form in which letters are written. There is always a recipient, a greeting and a summary of the letter within the first few lines. For example, the whole first chapter of Ephesians is a greeting in itself.
In 3 John, the writer is sending a letter to his friend Gaius. As a greeting, he prays that his friend may enjoy good health… as we would do to al our friends. As to how this is tied in with the theological basis of health and prosperity from the atonement… I cannot see. Please enlighten me.
If this was a cut and paste from another article, it only highlights how we as a people in these times, take the words of Preachers (eg Joseph prince, Kong Hee) as gospel without searching the scriptures for ourselves and determining the validity of their statements. Our attitudes should be like the Bereans who search the scriptures. True Christian growth only starts when we take the discipline to search the scriptures for ourselves instead of swallowing whole whatever theology is preached from the pulpit.
The journey continues when the scriptures come alive in our lives, we die to self and become others-centred.
Thanks for your response.Of course I believe Jeus performed miracles and is still doing miracles in my life as in many other believers.
Jesus is the same yesterday,today and forever.What I mean by Jesus not being poor is that he trusted God for His daily supply.For Himself as well as ministering to others.Heb 13:8
A poor man would have problem feeding himself, not talking about feeding others.
To be prosperous is to have more than enough.Jn 10:10 That’s the abundant life.
That doesn’t mean I have to drive a Ferari or stay in a bungalow.We preach Christ.The Gospel of grace and peace.1 Cor 1:23,2 Cor 2:12,4:5, Acts 20:24,Ep6:15
The same Jesus that was so willing to heal and bless others in the Gospels is the same Jesus today.No,it’s not Jesus that has changed.It’s man’s opinion and theology.
Amazing how much outsiders know about NCC… is really nothing, zilch,zero and they dare to make comments about the church.
Sometimes we get too much into legalism, we will want specific programmes for this and that in the church. I was once a member of the prayer committee in a brethren church many years back, my church elder asked, “What special events shall we put up for next year calendar.” I felt we were doing things for the sake of doing things. I was expecting him to share some spiritual visions before saying what programmes to fill the calendar.
Having been in NCC for more than 4 years, every Sunday sermon is a form of discipleship to me. Before NCC, every Sunday was a routine and I couldn’t wait to get over with it.
Thanks for your feedback.I agree that 3 Jn 2 may not be the best verse for save or salvation. But check it out for yourself in the Vine’s dictionary or Greek meaning of it.
It’s not a definition from Pastor Prince himself.Read Is 53 .Salvation is more than saved from sin.
You wrote:”True Christian growth only starts when we take the discipline to search the scriptures for ourselves instead of swallowing whole whatever theology is preached from the pulpit.
The journey continues when the scriptures come alive in our lives, we die to self and become others-centred. ”
I agree that we have to read the scriptures for ourselves, and not just depend on the pastor to read it for us. However, I also believe that the pastor is anointed by God to help us understand the bible.
Pastor Prince has said before that we should not just accept blindly what he (or any other preachers) preach. We are to search the scriptures to see if what the preachers preach are grounded in the Word.
I have a friend who disliked NCC and Pastor Prince’s preaching (even though she had not listened to his sermons before!) based on hearsay from other friends. Her relative kept passing Pastor Prince’s cds to her.
Finally, to stop her relative from “pestering” her, she together with her husband decided to listen to Pastor Prince’s sermons and search the scriptures to prove to her relative that his preaching was biblically wrong and unsound.
In the end, she and her husband found out for themselves that Pastor Prince’s sermons are scripturally sound and they eventually decided to move from their Anglican church and join NCC instead!
In NCC, there is great emphasis on preaching that teaches us to be Christ-centred, not self-centred or even others-centred.
In fact, Pastor Prince preached one sermon titled “Being Christ-Occupied And Not Self-Occupied” (23/5/2004)
Do you agree that it is not necessary to be materially rich to bless others? We know from the scripture Jesus is definitely not materially rich. He however depended on God’s divine abundance to provide enough food for 5000 excluding women and children.
I also agree with meeple1. I can’t see how 3 Jn 2 substantiate sozo also applies to health and prosperity.
“thanks for your feedback.I agree that 3 Jn 2 may not be the best verse for save or salvation. But check it out for yourself in the Vine’s dictionary or Greek meaning of it. It’s not a definition from Pastor Prince himself.”
I have checked the Vine’s dictionary of Greek meaning and still do not see how it can be related to prosperity through atonement. It remains clearly a greeting to John’s friend Gaius. This is an example of taking a verse out of its original context and using it to substantiate ones purpose/theology with total disregard to the plain meaning of the text.
Secondly, let me correct you and state for a fact that this IS a definition from Pastor Prince himself. Check the NCC website. it is located here. http://www.newcreation.org.sg/resources/confesstheword/prosperity_n_provision.html
As you correctly say, sozo encompasses more than salvation from sin. It also counts for healing and prosperity through atonement but it is CLEARLY NOT shown in this verse.
In addition, 2 Cor 8-9 which is frequently used to substantiate prosperity is not entirely accurate. That discussion for another time.
Was reading the comments of the various people here and I see many familiar names.
I used to come from a Roman Catholic Church where I frowned upon talk of prosperity teachings and tithing. I used to think the protestant church was cheating its members of money – thanks to wrong thoughts planted in my head.
It took time to learn what tithing truly is and how to have a heart of worship, even tho’ I truly felt like I had a relationship going with Christ from young.
I then went on to attend an AOG church which focused a lot on the Purpose-Driven life, but left me feeling empty and feeling like I needed to do something for Christ or I’d be spiritually in debt to Him. My hubby and I were dating then and we both agree that those days we felt fed and then not fed. There was spiritual hunger but the Church’s teaching was works-driven in many ways, tho’ there was some teachings on grace… so we became spiritually starved. Going to church became more of a thing we had to do, and there lacked a passion that we now have in NCC.
Grace is a wonderful gift that is not to be earned but should be treasured & bear fruit for the Kingdom of God – Paul is clear on this, but how many churches tell their members this? I know of many Christians and Catholics yoked by wrong teachings and this does not, imho, give glory to God.
Are we saying our God – the same God who made sure the Egyptians left their Hebrew slaves gold and treasures before they left for freedom.. the same God who made the Pharaoh and Abimelech give Abraham riches and herds and even land… the same God who made Solomon the richest man in all history (even today) – would like contemporary Christians to be poor as a church mouse?
I feel that a person when he/she accepts Christ is saved, but unless he/she comes to understand what the grace of our LORD Jesus Christ is, or what He has achieved for us on the cross, he/she will not be able to live a victorious “more than a conqueror in Christ” sort of life.
I think it is sad to think that a life of lack equates holiness. When we are blessed, we are blessed not to bless ourselves but also to pass the blessing on. Even sadder is this feeling of needing to do out of a “brownie point” mentality, when the true work has been finished on the cross. The work we do now is, as some brothers and sisters have shared, the fruit of having come to understand what the finished work of Christ is.
Jesus said that He has come to give us a peace that the world cannot give. The word peace He was most likely to use would have been Shalom. Jesus spoke in Aramaic and not Greek.
The word SHALOM means…Completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, and the absence of agitation or discord.
SHALOM comes from the root verb SHALOM meaning to be complete, perfect and full.
Hang on. Did we see the word prosperity?? Scroll up and read the definition of Shalom from the bible concordance again.
Yes. God wants us to prosper so that the world can see what He can give that slaving 9-to-5 and playing office politics cannot give. He wants His glory to shine through His prospering us and keeping our health whole and complete in Him so that the world can see what buying Lehman bonds and playing the stock exchange cannot bring.
I think the problem is most people equate prosperity with greed for money… but when the LORD prospers us, He is bringing us blessings that cannot grief us or cause us harm
Money is not the problem… the bible states the LOVE of money is the root of all evil.
Having attended NCC for 3 years now, I can safely say that the NCC-ers I know are there for the message of CHRIST not money. Their heart has Jesus as number one position, so when we are good stewards of the blessings God has given us – be it in wisdom, spiritual gifts or the workplace or finances – He knows He can bless us further as we have no hang ups about loving money more than Him. He knows who the source of our provision is – our Abba Father!
The provision we have in Christ and our faith in His faithfulness demonstrated by our setting apart our First Fruits to our Jehovah Jireh is provision that cannot be shaken – even in the midst of a worldwide recession.
It is through this and many other divine interventions that God shows the world how he has set us apart in Christ to be protected from all the turmoil out there now.
As for discipleship, I must say that since I partook in care group last year, and also in ministry this year, I have witnessed much discipleship. The leadership of the various ministries are very strong and there is this bond in Christ. The leaders never fail to draw the members back to lifting Christ above circumstances, to see Him bigger than our trials, to worship Him in the midst of the storm.
Is discipleship about passing tests before one can be a member of the church? Or about taking bible courses and partaking in exams for different modules?
Christ wants our heart to transform, not just to grow in the head knowledge.
You many know the Kings of the bible and which BC they appeared, but do you know the heart of the King of Kings and what His will for you is?
The God who is the same yesterday, today and forever has this to say about His plans, His will for us –
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jer 29:11
That financial problem did not come from God.
Neither did that illness.
Nor did your love one die from a terminal illness because God wanted it to be that way.
We must know who our enemy is and how he operates, just as much as we must know WHOSE we are and how HIS Kingdom operates and WHAT His WILL is for us… we must know what it means to have a heart of worship…
It is not about this endless bickering about who is right, who is wrong, who is greater, who is lesser…
“I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about YOU, all about You JESUS. I’m sorry LORD for the thing I’ve made it, when it’s all about You, all about You JESUS.”
True discipleship is learning to be like John the Apostle who leaned on the heart of Christ, who knew who he was to Jesus – His ‘beloved disciple’ (and John said this 5 times in his gospel… the number of grace, which happens to be the definition of John’s name).
True leadership is a church that doesn’t profess to be a church of good leaders or formed of leaders who lift everything else above the Messiah… but churches who take their lead from The God of All Ages, Yahweh – our covenant friend… and waves His banner high above all things.
Let us see not as the world sees, to love not as the world loves, to understand not as the world understands… =)
Shalom to you all =D
(( Sorry for the long winded comment ^.^” ))
Just to add –
My poly classmate gave me Pastor Prince tapes in 2001 but I rolled my eyeballs at them thinking that “This pastor look so dapper and handsome – must be some cult leader. The church so big and rich some more. Must be a bunch of cheats.”
I never listened to the tapes for years and then agreed with hearsays. (Haha the friend who gave me the tapes just walked over to offer me biscuits and read what I typed and started laughing. She didn’t know I was so skeptical lol.)
It was only when I finally wandered in to NCC one day during their midweek services and when I finally heard not one sermon, but several months of sermons, that I finally came to realise that this is one pastor whose focus is on glorifying Christ and that is a humble guy who always talks about Jesus, Jesus and more about Jesus with such passion, joy and love. It is through this sheer abandonment of love for Christ that the rest of the Church comes to know, to trust and to ultimately love Christ more too.
Outside I hear Christians going “Aiya old already that’s why like this,”; “Genetics. Family hereditary illness. Cannot escape lor.”
New Creation church goers will tell you this – that as HE is so are we… by HIS stripes we are healed… we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus… we’ve come to learn to trust the Word of God wholeheartedly and not half heartedly; to lean and lean on Jesus even in the face of the impossible.
Also, after attending NCC-er I no longer think twice before blessing others. I honestly used to think about dollars and cents and how-much-i-have-left-if-i-donate-or-give-away stuff to people. Now I can’t wait to bless the people around me because I know my God provides… and He provides more when I share His blessings more.
At least the New Creation-ers I know are like that. =) I’d say they are truly disciples of our Messiah, no?
you said… “I agree that we have to read the scriptures for ourselves, and not just depend on the pastor to read it for us. However, I also believe that the pastor is anointed by God to help us understand the bible.”
I agree with you entirely that the pastor’s responsibility is to shepherd his flock. This includes teaching, counselling and intercession. HOWEVER, in this generation of word-faith-prosperity, the lines between what is biblical and what is not becomes increasingly blurred. By the time we reach the next generation, we may not be able to recognise distinct lines anymore; this would make it impossible to separate the meat from the bones ( or the baby from the bathwater).
If the pastor is for example, an extreme word-faith-prosperity preacher like Jessie Duplantis, his “helping” you understand the bible will only lead you further from the truth.
have a friend who disliked NCC and Pastor Prince’s preaching (even though she had not listened to his sermons before!) based on hearsay from other friends. Her relative kept passing Pastor Prince’s cds to her.
Finally, to stop her relative from “pestering” her, she together with her husband decided to listen to Pastor Prince’s sermons and search the scriptures to prove to her relative that his preaching was biblically wrong and unsound.
In the end, she and her husband found out for themselves that Pastor Prince’s sermons are scripturally sound and they eventually decided to move from their Anglican church and join NCC instead!”
I appreciate the power of personal testimony, because in Revelation, we fight the devil with the Word, our prayer and our personal testimony. However I find it difficult that anecdotal experiences can justify the soundness of Joseph prince’s theology.
Firstly, how do we know that your Anglican friend has the discernment to differentiate between scripturally sound and not? What criteria was used to determine this? Was it because Pastor Prince was more entertaining in telling jokes compared to the Anglican minister or was it through soundness or evaluating theology. Why would her decision in switching churches be a representative of the soundness of Joseph Prince theology?
Finally, Stanley said ”
“In NCC, there is great emphasis on preaching that teaches us to be Christ-centred, not self-centred or even others-centered.”
That is a frequent phrase or statement I hear used by NCC members. NOT others centered or self centered but Christ centered. I have often wondered what this means.
I presume is that because all the teachings point to Christ finished work and that the basis of our grace and salvation is on Christ.
However, despite the appearance of “Christ-centered” in proclamations, I must state that in life practicalities, it is a theology of self centeredness in a subset of NCC members (may it be majority if I daresay suggest). In realising and proclaiming the legal position and INHERITANCE reserved for them in Christ through the preaching of only INDICATIVES…. it becomes ALL about ME. The Christ-centeredness is only “what Christ can do for ME. What blessings I can get from that. Because he is my DADDY father, I am so loved.” All this is good because it corrects any of the wrong self-guilt and poor self esteem but nevertheless remains SELF-CENTERED (being all about me) despite proclamations of Christ centeredness.
NCC has great teachings on grace but it promotes a very self-centered theology. There is no theology whatsoever on suffering, discipleship or santification. There is questionable theology on healing through holy communion and material prosperity.
I think it’s a bit too harsh to call NCC’s theology self-centered. I’ve written about God-centeredness and man/self-centeredness here and here. I understand why you said that. I hope for the day when I see the majority of New Creation members become transformed to the extent that they start to focus on others and not themselves. The first result of experiencing God’s love and grace is to be transformed from the inside. And we’ve heard dozens of wonderful testimonies of Christians in NCC having been transformed in the inside by the grace message. But it doesn’t end there. We are called to give our all to God, to love the poor and the lost. These are things that are on God’s heart. And pursuing such things and living such a life totally sold out to God (perhaps this is what discipleship is all about?) is not at all inconsistent with the grace message. Such a life ought to be and will be produced by the grace message.
But of course the initial stage is enjoying God’s love. As I’ve argued in those two posts above, I think we can call God’s love in Christ an act of centering His love upon man. So I have no problem with people enjoying God’s love for themselves and believing that God in Christ loves them and He wants to bless them. Is this self-centered? Yes, in a way. But not in a wrong way, because God is man-centered to a certain extent.
Of course, we both agree that there’s more to the Christian life than merely dwelling on God’s love alone. Rather, we’ll agree that there ought to be and will be fruits. The fruits come both naturally (as a result of us experiencing God’s love) and when we obey and make tough decisions to put God and others before ourselves. There definitely will be times we’ll have to be “others-centered”. God’s love is centered upon the individual man, but one of his intents in demonstrating his love for us is so that we will glorify Him and do His will and that includes loving other man.
I believe being “others-centered” is inevitable for a person who has experienced God’s love in Christ. That’s what love is about and how love was described and defined by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:5 – “Love is not self-seeking”. Love is one (if not the most important) of the fruits of experiencing God’s grace and love. So it’s important to be others-centered because God wants us to be others-centered. Being God- and Christ-centered will lead us to do His will and one of his desires is for us to be others-centered. In fact, I would argue that the more a person experiences God’s love, the more he should be “others-centered”. Indeed, being “Christ-centered” and “others-centered” is not contrary at all, but complementary.
I’m a big believer in the grace message preached in NCC against what I see is a lot of “mixture” in other churches. Theology is important and I would defend NCC’s teachings on grace from a theological perspective. But I hope that the day will come when NCC members won’t have to share their experience of being transformed by the love of God or argue about theology to convince critics outside the church. If the Church as a whole become known for their good works (as a fruit of salvation), their missions involvement, their sacrificial giving and their love for all – all of which ought to result from experiencing more of Christ’s love, as we all say many times – then churches throughout Singapore and the world would start to take note and re-evaluate their criticisms of NCC. And when I say missions, it’s not just about the church giving one tenth of their income to charitable organisations or missionaries that we don’t know. Giving money is easy. Actually being involved in missions (the way CHC members are involved – and I’m super-amazed by how ordinary members are involved in missions there) takes sacrifice, it takes love, it takes others-centeredness.
Many NCC members have criticized CHC for being very legalistic and focused on imperatives. This is my big criticism too as I’ve heard a lot of CHC preaching. (I recently brought a close friend from CHC to NCC. I invited him for many months but he never wanted to visit NCC. But he’s been at NCC twice in the past month and he was totally blown away by the message last Sunday. He instantly knew the difference.) While I disagree with CHC’s preaching, I don’t know any church in Singapore that even comes close to being into missions and building God’s kingdom and reaching out to the poor and lost like them. Some may say that it’s different for CHC members because they may be doing all this motivated not by God’s love for them, but compelled by a legalistic message. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say it like that. But here’s my point. If it’s true (and I don’t think so) that CHC is so into missions only because they are compelled by a mixed/legalistic message, then HOW MUCH MORE (to take a phrase from the Bible and one often used in NCC) ought NCC be known for their missions outreach and known for the fruits of salvation? Shouldn’t NCC members – who totally understand about God’s love and grace for them in Christ, who understand the beautiful and free gospel that Paul preached more clearly than CHC members and members of other churches – shouldn’t NCC be able to reach that level of missions involvement and discipleship even more easily simply because they have experienced the gospel of God’s love and grace like no other Christian?
When we start living the way we always argue that the grace message causes people to live, when we start living for God and for man, when we start living for the poor and the lost, then people around us will start taking note and will learn from NCC what grace is all about and what radical grace can do to a person. Until then, we will continue to have our critics and we can’t say that their criticisms are not partly justified if we always proclaim that it’s radical grace which will lead to transformed and obedient lives, and yet for us it hasn’t led to the others-centeredness and missions-centeredness that ought to characterize such transformed and obedient lives.
You wrote: “Firstly, how do we know that your Anglican friend has the discernment to differentiate between scripturally sound and not? What criteria was used to determine this? Was it because Pastor Prince was more entertaining in telling jokes compared to the Anglican minister or was it through soundness or evaluating theology. Why would her decision in switching churches be a representative of the soundness of Joseph Prince theology?”
Your logic in this argument can actually be thrown right back at you. How do we know whether you have the discernment to determine whether Pastor Prince’s preaching is scripturally sound?
I raised the anecdote in response to your point of “True Christian growth only starts when we take the discipline to search the scriptures for ourselves instead of swallowing whole whatever theology is preached from the pulpit.”
My anecdote illustrates the point that my friend came to her own conclusion after listening to many sermon cds and searching the scriptures together with her husband. This is in contrast to her jumping to conclusion earlier based on hearsay.
If you still have your doubts after listening to Pastor Prince’s many sermons and searching the scriptures, that is fine as every individual is different and will receive the messages differently.
However, if you have not listened to the sermons yourself but based your opinion of the soundness of Pastor Prince’s theology on what you heard others say was preached by Pastor Prince, then I would not consider your opinion as fair comment.
To love others, we need to love ourselves first.
To understand that God loves us is not a selfish thing. It is this understanding that transform us to “good works” and care for the needy and poor
1) meeple1 said:
“”However, despite the appearance of “Christ-centered” in proclamations, I must state that in life practicalities, it is a theology of self centeredness in a subset of NCC members (may it be majority if I daresay suggest). “”
OK, first this assertion needs to be substantiated. You mean you know for SURE that there is a greater % of self-centered Christians in NCC than in other churches? If this is true, I myself will take urgent initiative to report the matter to the NCC leaders.
Or is this an inference based on what you think is being preached in NCC?
2) meeple1 said: “”.. In realizing and proclaiming the legal position and INHERITANCE reserved for them in Christ through the preaching of only INDICATIVES…. it becomes ALL about ME. The Christ-centeredness is only “what Christ can do for ME. What blessings I can get from that. Because he is my DADDY father, I am so loved.” All this is good because it corrects any of the wrong self-guilt and poor self esteem but nevertheless remains SELF-CENTERED (being all about me) despite proclamations of Christ centeredness. ..””
Primarily, the bible is a love-letter from God to human-kind. (there may be other love-letters to martians or other galaxies, I dunno, but the bible is for humans.. :-).
It is a revelation to humankind that the relationship between God & mankind is founded on LOVE.
The greatest revelation is that God Is Love.
Love as expressed through the Person of Jesus Christ and all that what He has done means. We are the Bride & He is the Groom.
That is why the first thing we must learn is the NATURE of this relationship i.e. who Jesus is to me, what He has done on earth, what happens when I live out the reality that He is in me & I have died to myself.
How many times have we told everybody else that Christianity is not a Religion, it is a RELATIONSHIP.
To have a personal, intimate relationship between God & myself, I must take ‘what Jesus has done on earth for humankind’ & personalize it to ‘what Jesus has done for ME’.
The love-letter is not all about ME, it’s all about Christ, then about Christ-in-me and me-in-Christ.
Even between husbands & wives, how much would you desire a relationship that is built on what-I-must-do-for-my-spouse or what-my-spouse-must-do-for-me?
No. First I appreciate & focus on the beauty of the person, & on what-he/she-has-done-for-me (rather than what he/she has NOT done for me), which will deepen my love for this person and it will become what I WANT to do for this person without being asked.
Magnifying what Jesus has done for us is an act of adoration & worship. Worship is not about what I can do for Jesus because this would be really really inconsequential. There is none worthy except The Lamb.
The more we understand the significance & weight of His Personhood & what He has done, the closer we are to worshiping Him in Spirit & in Truth.
3) meeple1, if you are deeply disturbed by NCC’s teachings and what you think is going wrong with the congregants, I STRONGLY encourage you to attend the church regularly for at least 3-4 months. Or listen to an equivalent number of sermons. No less.
Perhaps this will then give you rest.
As for what is being taught in NCC about the Holy Communion, first of all I agree that there can well be degeneration of this act into a ‘ritualistic charm’. This would be one form of “not discerning the Lord’s body” (cf 1 Cor 11:29), amongst others.
But let me ask you: Do you believe in the supernatural significance of anointing with olive oil? If you don’t, no need to read further. If you do, read on.
I submit that olive oil in itself has no supernatural properties. Neither did the bible specify it must be olive oil and not peanut oil or corn oil. Yet because of our FAITH in what the act MEANS, anointing with olive oil has been known to heal the sick, exorcist demons or achieve some other supernatural effects.
I don’t think the scriptural support for the supernatural significance of anointing with olive oil is stronger than that for the partaking of the holy-communion.
“”If the Church as a whole become known for their good works (as a fruit of salvation), their missions involvement, their sacrificial giving and their love for all – all of which ought to result from experiencing more of Christ’s love, as we all say many times – then churches throughout Singapore and the world would start to take note and re-evaluate their criticisms of NCC.””
Actually my take is that perhaps God in His grace is SPARING NCC from this, lest we begin to love the praise of men more than the love of God.
God has never needed the acclaim of men to spread His gospel.
I would rather NCC-ers abound in good works without being aware they’re doing it or being noticed by other churches for it.
I would rather that when a non-Christian experiences the love of God thru an NCC-er, that he would identify that love as coming not from an ‘NCC-er’, but as from the Beloved Of God.
I would rather NCC-ers remain in this state where they think they ‘lag’ in good works, than to be in a state where they believe they’re quite ‘stellar’ in their good works already.
It really does not matter whether the rest of the churches in Sgp or the world take note of NCC’s good works or reevaluate their criticism of NCC. The importance is to be salt & light of God’s love to the unsaved & the unloved.
In fact, the more we’re berated by men for being self-centered & inept, the more likely we’d find ourselves creeping to Jesus’ feet and wiping them with our tears.
So I say, let the criticisms come.
Thank you for your insights Paul and Stillhaventfound.
I agree with the statement
“To love others, we need to love ourselves first.
To understand that God loves us is not a selfish thing. It is this understanding that transform us to “good works” and care for the needy and poor.”
Let me clarify my position. My gripe is not with the new converts who have just heard the message or grace or those struggling with self-condemnation, rejection at guilt. They are the ones that need the power of God to transform them and free them from bondage.
My gripe is with those who have understood the power and magnitude of grace but choose not.. delusionally or unwillingly to transform themselves for GOOD WORKS and Christian maturity.
I know quite a few people who having been dissatisfied with their church through personal grieviences or offence, have left the church in a bad way, created disunity and started their own church out of a spirit of rebellion. They embraced and modelled their church after NCC and preached a message word for word from Joseph Prince’s sermons. They go as far as modelling their new church website after NCC, and posting their pastoral photo in the same pose as Joseph Prince… and preach a message of GRACE.
1. In the 1st AD, to be ex communicated or leave a church would result in the greatest tragedy in one’s life and would be almost unthinkable. (eg the man who had an adulterous affair with his step mother in 1 Corinthians). This day an age, any dissatisfaction would result in leaving the church and setting one up next door preaching the gospel of “grace”
2. These new “pastors” who claim apostolic calling are unauthentic. They preach words of grace but their lives are filled with bitterness, resentment and self centeredness. I cannot judge their motives because these are locked within their hearts and i cannot see them, but I can discern from their actions.
3.These people embrace NCC theology and call themselves proponents of NCC. Sermons consist of Joseph Prince messages.
4. Conflict between pastors and leadership of the split churches remain.( do not let a bitter root spring up)
I have had to counsel many a people who have been angered by these “pastors”. They have now blamed God (wrongly) for it and since then become disillusioned and wandered from the faith.
In addition, to highlight the NCC lack of theology on suffering, the pastoral team (wife of “pastor”) told a church member that her husband died from cancer due to the lack of faith that he had in Christ’s finished work and that they had not gone through the divine steps of taking holy communion properly. To me, that is simply cruel… lacking in compassion and all that Christianity stands for.
This why I feel so dispassionate about extreme word-faith-health-prosperity teachings… especially those advocated by NCC.
Gamine, I’m quite surprised that you chose to respond in this way to what I’ve written. Rather than agree that good works would and should follow from a transformed life, I get the feeling that defending NCC’s lack of fruit and good works is more important than anything else.
I didn’t say that NCC ought to seek the praises of men and acceptance among other churches by focusing on good works. My point is that the grace of God would produce a transformed life that leads to good works and when that eventually happens in NCC, people will start to see things in a different light. There is no need to focus on doing good works to gain approval from other churches. That would be the wrong motive.
However, do take note of what James said in good works “justifying” us before men.
I agree with you. But again, there’s no need for an “either-or”. Paul and James obviously saw nothing wrong in preaching that Christians lacked good works and ought to pursue them. The good works is not to earn our salvation, but it’s an outflow of a transformed life.
As I said above, the motive of good works is not so that other churches approve NCC. That’s seeking the praises of men like you said. Doing good works has to do with our response to God. However, a by product of it would be that churches will recognize that God is at work. We don’t seek this recognition from other churches but it will come.
Another point I’ve realized is a lot of NCCers seem to think that good works occur without any conscious effort, that it occurs somehow “without being aware” that we’re doing it. I think this is only partly true. There will be times that we do good works and only realize it later that we’ve done them. In such instances, it has come so naturally. And I think this will increase as we mature and focus more and more on God. The fruits just come naturally. On the other hand, Paul clearly exhorted Christians to do good works and be obedient based on what God has done (imperatives based on indicatives). There are times we need to put that effort to do good. That’s in no way being legalistic as long as we’re totally conscious of the fact that none of these earn our salvation and that God is not mad with us if we lack good works.
I do not think that you can compare anointing the sick with olive oil with the Joseph Prince theology of health through holy communion. They are theologically poles apart. Annointing with oil has significance as an encouragement to faith, and such a practice is enjoined by Scripture (James 5:14-16).
However the holy communion theology is basically faulty from chapter 1 of his little booklet and taking scripture out of context; completely ignoring the plain meaning of the text in Corinthians.
I was very moved the other day at care group when our care group member showed us photos taken at a missions trip he had just gone with our church. There are NCC members who go on mission trips and then there are those of us who serve differently.
I serve on 3 different ministries in church – pastoral care funeral services (a beautiful ministry which has seen the hearts of many a deceased’s family transformed to accept Christ during the funeral service), music ministry (choir) as well as performance arts ministry (which is preparing for a skit for Christmas to bring the message of Christ’s love to congregation and guests).
We all have different duties and callings in the body of Christ, some of us may serve within the church but we help encourage others and edify them with the Word of God, so they can take the message of God’s love outside.
Just as each tribe of Israel had a specific duty, some of us are called to be teachers, others are called to be counsellors, some are gifted with the gift of prophecy, some with the gift of healing… God has a different purpose for each one of us but at the core of it all is this – we sow seeds, we water them but God makes the heart plant grow in each soul.
Some are harvesters, some are sowers, some fertilize souls and some water them… each is important to be able to help the body of Christ bear fruit.
It is unfair to say that if a person doesn’t do more missions, the person doesn’t have a heart for others.
I used to feel that burden of guilt in my very missions-based mixed gospel church (AOG one)… the way they said it makes one feel as if you don’t do missions means you never serve God.
That’s not true!
Sending encouragement sms-es to your friends every day to encourage them in the Spirit esp when things are tough…
Sharing your joy in the LORD with your neighbours and testifying about His goodness…
Tho’ they aren’t school-building, community-outreaching mission trips, they are also mission work in their own way – A mission to touch a soul PERSONALLY for Christ.
Let’s remember that God sends us to different people who need help,,, He positions us perfectly in His own time and own way.
Last year, I received a message from an ex-classmate who had wandered on to my blog and left a comment that she was touched by an entry I had put up and felt encouraged by it. 2 weeks later,
I was once trying to get a cab on a rainy day but couldn’t get one so I boarded the train. In the same cubicle was the same ex-classmate (we hardly spoke when we were in school coz I was the Ugly Betty of the class and she was one of the popular girls). We were shocked to see each other and it turned out she couldn’t get a cab too so resorted to taking train. Both of us were headed to Hougang where we both lived! On the way there we started talking and she asked me why I believe so much in Jesus and trust in Him. So I shared and we talked about Him, then she revealed she was also in my church. It turned out that her fiance had dumped her close to their wedding because of some differences and she was so hurt by it. She was contemplating on giving up on God that night and asked Him to send her some answers or encouragement if He was serious about loving her. Then we bumped into each other. Today, we are still in touch. She has met with further challenges but she is growing so much in the Word of God. I send her SMS-es every other day to remind her that Jesus loves her and she intercedes along with me family and friends who are in need of prayer.
This is not the only occasion where a meeting is clearly God planned and positioned.
I have bumped into complete strangers online and in coffees hops and here there and everywhere who would later feel that the meeting was God-sent.
So let’s not feel that a church’s community must be doing publicised or well-documented mission’s work before they are considered to be others-centered.
Silently and lovingly, we can each do our part and our Father who sees it in Heaven will be well-pleased. =)
I agree with yr last 2 comments, and appreciated that u pointed these out. I think that grace and good works need not be contradictory to one another. In fact, having been touched by the true grace of God, radical love flows out of it. It is not that we do good works to earn our salvation, but good works follow after our salvation.
We often say we are blessed to be a blessing, but what does that really imply? I wrote this in my blog some time ago a pastor said:
‘A business man who was a multi-millionnaire liked to share his testimony with the church. It all began when he was a little boy, during the Great Depression, he only had 4 or 5 dollars. He went to a church where the missionary challenged the people to give. He put in 25 cents, but the missionary challenged the people to give more, telling them of the tremendous needs of the mission field. He dug into his pocket and took out another 25 cents, but the missionary kept pleading and didn’t let up. Finally, the boy put in everything he had.
In conclusion, the business man said, this was why God had blessed his business today. God took that seed, and today I am a multi millionaire.
After he shared his testimony, the church errupted into applause. After the cheers had died down, an old woman in the front row whispered softly, but loud enough for everyone to hear.
“I dare you to do it again”.’
This sounds a bit cynical, but it is a very thought provoking story about what blessed to be a blessing means.
I don’t think that the mentality of being as poor as a church mouse means that one is holy. But rather, could it be that having encountered the love of God, we choose to sacrifice and give up our comfort? I believe a person radically touched by the love and Fatherhood of God, would catch a glimpse of what is the Father’s heart to give to others. In fact, suffering for the gospel is something that Paul often pointed out
1 Tim 3:10. “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance,
11.persecutions, sufferings–what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12.In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”
I read this yesterday with shock, that together with the fruits of the Spirit, Paul receives persecution and suffering, and exalts Timothy to follow after his footsteps. Note again, not bcos we have to earn God’s love through suffering, but bcos the way of the cross always involves sacrifice.
Does God bless? Yes. Paul always spoke of Joys and Victories in the midst of the suffering. That is bcos he had the grace of God- strength in his weakness and he knew the love of God. Is suffering biblical? Again I say yes to it. But there is joy in our suffering, and an intimacy and relationship with God.
If God is a loving Father, what is the greatest gift that He wants to give to us? The answer is, Himself. He did not withhold His best- His son for us, bcos He loves us. By focusing on health and wealth, we sometimes miss out on the greatest gift that He really wants to give to us.
Hence, I suggest that we separate the prosperity gospel from grace. And that grace and good works are definitely complimentary.
No lah, I wasn’t disagreeing with you or taking issue with something you wrote. I just ‘hijacked’ something you wrote to make my own point. Sorry if I wasn’t clear :-)
I was referring to the general state that anyone can get into (not referring to you) of being conscious of how much good works is being done & justification before men surreptitiously taking the place of looking only to God for approval.
I think what I meant is to do good without ‘taking stock’. To take stock of, to measure or compare, how much good is being done leads to either pride or condemnation.
I was trying to say that I think God has a very different yardstick of measuring how much good is being done by a church or individual. Often what He sees is invisible to the eye.
One has to study what is the difference between ‘gold, silver & precious stones’ and ‘wood, hay, & stubble’.
I think when NCC-ers say doing good ‘without effort’, the word ‘effort’ has a special connotation. It doesn’t mean one does not give of one’s time or resources, one doesn’t do with less comforts, or one doesn’t change one’s previous lifestyle or priorities in the doing of it.
But it means that we understand that our good works is not a form of ‘penance’ or paying ‘installment’ for our sins. Nor is it something that HAS to be done before God is pleased with us. Nor is it something we have to do out of appreciation for God’s love (it will never suffice if this is the purpose). Nor is God’s degree of pleasure with us proportionate to ‘how much’ good works we’ve done or how much of our comforts we’ve sacrificed.
I think ‘effortless’ also means not being conscious that we’re doing anything particularly ‘good’. To be conscious of doing-good may imply that we think we’re doing something ‘out of character’, that we have to make a special effort to do it. On the other hand, when we have been unconsciously transformed by the knowledge of His love, the good works we do is very matter-of-fact, just living out our transformed nature, which is more & more being conformed to the image of Christ.
Also I mean it that it really doesn’t matter if the other churches in Sgp never reevaluate their criticism of NCC. (again, I’m not saying that you’re being too bothered by criticisms; I know you’re looking at these criticisms to see whether there’s any areas of real error that NCC should address. I’m addressing NCC readers in general).
I was also trying to put in the perspective–for NCC-ers who may be reading–that there is no need to feel upset if we keep on getting criticisms. We know in our hearts that it’s not that we eschew good works–we just don’t want to be ‘do-gooders’. We used to be ‘do-gooders’, & we know what hypocrites we’d been, but we now want to be proclaimers of God’s goodness.
I’m not saying that I don’t have thoughts of “oh, if I’m running NCC I would preach more on this or that, do more of this or that”. I’m simply trusting–for NCC’s sake–that that’s God’s prerogative & that the leadership is listening only to God for approval and take none of the present ‘success’ (numbers, wealth) as signs that they’re on the right track.
meeple1: “”I know quite a few people who having been dissatisfied with their church through personal grieviences or offence, have left the church in a bad way, created disunity and started their own church out of a spirit of rebellion. They embraced and modelled their church after NCC and preached a message word for word from Joseph Prince’s sermons. They go as far as modelling their new church website after NCC, and posting their pastoral photo in the same pose as Joseph Prince… and preach a message of GRACE.””
Oh dear, this sounds bad doesn’t it? Must confess I didn’t know this before. I don’t know about these other churches, but Ps Prince did tell us about how NCC started.
He confessed when in the early 90’s his ambition was to have a big church, a ‘successful’ church. He wanted to make an impact for God. He studied & applied diligently the ‘church-growth’ principles propounded by some of these big churches, but nothing worked AT ALL. He cried out to God. It was in the mid/late 90’s when God called him to preach grace ‘radically’. After that, paradoxically, the people began to come.
I do not suspect anything else but that Ps Prince was entirely honest when he said that preaching grace ‘radically’ would be the last thing to do if what he wanted was a big & ‘successful’ church. As far as his human understanding went, that was ‘suicide’. And indeed it was after he started preaching that message that he received unrelenting criticisms from Christian brothers. He did it our of pure faith & obedience.
As far as I’m concerned, NCC did not use ANY ‘church-growth’ methodology. They do not apply ANY pressure on people to bring their non-Christian friends or to set targets for how many souls to win per year.
As far as I’m concerned, NCC’s growth was not because it modeled after another ‘successful’ 20th century church. The growth is entirely God-given. No ‘human effort’ or human understanding involved.
I’ve just read stillhaventfound’s posts on God-or-man-centeredness and I recommend them as ‘must-reads’, particularly when addressing meeple1’s concern that NCC’s teachings promote self-centeredness.
I can especially identify with what was said by one commentator by the name of ‘ken’ from London, in Part 1:-
“”Pastor Prince’s messages work on a very personal level and despite the simplicity of his language and anecdotes, his sermons are very deep and even though it’s easy to internalise what he’s saying, it’s very difficult to put it on paper and argue it out to someone else.””
Yes!! That is why we keep hearing anecdotes of people who disagree with so many aspects of NCC’s teachings when they hear about it from NCC-ers or when they’ve only read Ps Prince’s book. But after they’ve personally gone to the church or listened to sermons for a few months, the messages speak into them & they then began to understand.
That’s why I’ve found myself sometimes telling NCC-ers: aiya, explain too much to other people lagi worse. Better just challenge/encourage them to attend NCC for a few months or give them sermons to hear for themselves.
I think most of us NCC-ers just do not have the linguistic giftedness or complexity of thought to present the teachings in a fair or accurate way (ok, no ‘anointing’ lah :). Often we end-up spewing superficial statements that sound just too ‘way-out’ to be taken seriously by Christians schooled in mainstream teachings. But stillhaventfound, you’ve done a very good job of putting down in writing a fair argument for what’s being taught & done in NCC. :-)
Living a sacrificial life may seem very noble.Paul said that even if he gave all his goods to feed the poor and gave his body to be burned but have not love,it profits him nothing.1 Cor 13:3(Think about that for awhile)
Paul prayed in Ephesians that the church would have a revelation of the love of Christ.2 Cor 5:14 It was the love of Christ that compelled Paul not his love for Christ or trying to please God.
The Christian walk is a personal walk and relationship with the Lord.Every Christian’s journey is different.We are to be led by His Spirit as sons of God because we are not under law.Rom 5:18
There may be those whom the Lord has prospered much for such a time as this when things around us looks gloomy to be a blessing to others.
We cannot put God in a box.Not everyone is called to suffer like Paul or called to be a martyr like Peter.Apostle John didn’t die of martyrdom.Yet he was the “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
It is emerging that there is a group of NCC people who are willing to defend their church at all cost. This includes everything that it stands for, discounting and ignoring any weaknesses that it might have. This includes denying that NCC is imbalanced and consequently may result in retardation of any attempts to correct that.
Background: I listen to NCC sermons on a weekly basis through pay TV channels and have amassed close to 60 sermons on my dvd hard drive. I participate in discussions in person and over blogs (like this) with NCC attendees.
Emerging trends which have i have noticed in remarkable unity is that all/most have a fanatical belief in NCC doctrine and all profess the same responses.
Imperative to understand the NCCers understanding of gospel balance and irrationality of unswerving loyalty, I wish to put forward a few questions which is VITAL to my understanding. Hence, I would greatly appreciate responses. Thank you.
1. many have professed that they agree with a lot of Joseph Prince’s teaching BUT not all. To this date, no one of great NCC loyalty (stillhaven’tfound excluded) has revealed what their disagreements are. Perhaps gamine, Stanley or Jeffery could enlighten me.
2. Suffering. NCCers have stated that suffering is not from God. However, it is an effect of the devil working through the world to suppress victory in God’s people.
Question: Is the activity by the devil independant of the degree of belief/faith in the finished work of Christ of each individual? or are we attributing this to simply fate.
2b. NCCer believed that we are now 100% righteous in the eyes of God … God seeing us through Christ and hence we have the same righteous standing as Christ. Is it possible that God is allowing this suffering to chastise his people into re-evaluating their lives and restoring broken relationships with God so that we could turn back to him. ( this is from a sanctification perspective rather than a salvation perspective).
3. There is much emphasis by NCCers that when the word GOOD WORKS are mentioned, there is an auto pilot to immediately response to it in the context of salvation rather than sanctification.
The process of sanctification or doing good works is understood as “resting in the finished work of Christ” It appears that if one is conscious of the good works he is doing, he is accused of having a sinister self motive and hence doing good works should be an unconcious effort.
Does this amount to legalism in the sense that we do good works but suppress the conscience that we are doing so?
IS IT NOT POSSIBLE that we do Good works but realise that self-pride can indeed come in, recognise it’s pitfalls and allow God to maintain us in a state of humility?
4. Is righteousness something that can be quantified?
IS it TRUE that Nccers believe that the degree of righteousness an individual has depends on the degree that one believes in the finished work of christ. For example, Person A believes that the finished work of Christ will release ALL healing, prosperity is more righteous than Person B who only believes it partially
OR are both Person A and B equally righteous, only Person A is walking in victory and person B is languishing in a sub standard Christian life because he/she has neglected certain truths. Are there then 2 standards of Christians… one walking in victory in the righteounsee of Christ and one walking in defeat in the righteousness of Christ.
4. Positive Confession. Does positive confession hold a major part in the way NCCers conduct their lives? Will a certain hope/desire/want come to pass if it is confessed more frequently and repeatedly.Is it more likely that a want will come to pass if we petition it through positive confession 10000 times compared to only 5 rimes? On the flip side are NCCers affected by negative confession. Would Christians of other theological understanding being avoided and prayed against for fear that negative confession may be invoked upon NCCers?
5. There are claims that Joseph Prince may be living a life of excess. Driving a 7 series BMW in Singapore etc. Is the grace theology and the willingness to demonstrate that material blessings come as a result of believing this, JUST AN EXCUSE to justify ones worldly desires in the NAME of God? Does this theology blurr the lines between the Christian and the world such that the looking to prosperity in the worldly materialistic sense is advocated by God?
5b God rains wealth, health, good relationships on both the good and evil. Does that mean that a non Christian who is driving the same BMW as Joseph Prince is also experiencing the blessings of God? If so… does that mean that the grace theology could work even by disregarding Christ? This seems to be suggested in Rhonda Byrne’s book “the Secret”
All these are important questions to me. I state them to challenge our beliefs… to not simply accept what we hear but to work them out in our minds so that we can clearly discern what is scriptural and what is not.
Thank you for your responses.
This is from the new creation church website.
Accepting Jesus as your Lord and Saviour will not only save you from sin and hell, but also give to you health, joy, peace, love, hope, unconditional acceptance, favour, the power to get wealth, all good things you can think of and more.
If you would like to accept Jesus and all that He has done for you, say this prayer, and mean it from your heart:
Question: After having read that and looking at my own situation which is lacking in material prosperity I HAVE FOUND A WAY!!
ACCEPT JESUS like the website states and He will make me wealthy! Because I so want this power that can make me wealthy, I will truly believe and mean it from my heart BECAUSE it is driven by my motivation to get Wealth. You cannot doubt the genuine belief because I truly and really want to get wealthy.
I think you have given some provocative thoughts and I shall try to give my comments:
“1. many have professed that they agree with a lot of Joseph Prince’s teaching BUT not all. To this date, no one of great NCC loyalty (stillhaven’tfound excluded) has revealed what their disagreements are. Perhaps gamine, Stanley or Jeffery could enlighten me.”
Well, you forgot about me. I have stated I believe to be objective what are some of the issues I cannot agree. Please read post 44 on the ” balancing the Indicatives verses imperatives”.
“2. Suffering. NCCers have stated that suffering is not from God. However, it is an effect of the devil working through the world to suppress victory in God’s people.
Question: Is the activity by the devil independant of the degree of belief/faith in the finished work of Christ of each individual? or are we attributing this to simply fate.”
Suffering is not from God. He wants us well. If God wants us to suffer, why should He go all the way to send Christ to die for us.It is consistent with my view of a good and faithful God.
“2b. NCCer believed that we are now 100% righteous in the eyes of God … God seeing us through Christ and hence we have the same righteous standing as Christ. Is it possible that God is allowing this suffering to chastise his people into re-evaluating their lives and restoring broken relationships with God so that we could turn back to him. ( this is from a sanctification perspective rather than a salvation perspective).”
Chastisement is sometimes used to help us with our lives but not with suffering and sicknesses and some believe. You cannot imagine a loving father intentionally cause his son to get sick or suffer in order to teach him a lesson. Chastisement comes in the form of discipline sometimes in terms of not getting what we want.
When a person is born again, I believe he receives everything. He is a new Creation. But you still have your flesh and needed to be transformed in the Spirit.
3. “There is much emphasis by NCCers that when the word GOOD WORKS ….. doing good works is understood as “resting in the finished work of Christ” It appears that if one is conscious of the good works he is doing, he is accused of having a sinister self motive and hence doing good works should be an unconcious effort.
Does this amount to legalism in the sense that we do good works but suppress the conscience that we are doing so?”
The best “good works” are from a transformed heart and actions constrained by the Love of God. It should not be something you do to try to please God.
My view is that there is still a conscious effort needed as your flesh is weak although the Spirit is willing.
I understand that some NCCers go to the extremes that they do not like to talk about good works at all. To some, “good works” are swear words. It amount to mixture of grace and law and it will be cursed.
“4. Is righteousness something that can be quantified?
IS it TRUE that Nccers believe that the degree of righteousness an individual has depends on the degree that one believes in the finished work of christ. For example, Person A believes that the finished work of Christ will release ALL healing, prosperity is more righteous than Person B who only believes it partially”
No, once you accept Christ you are fully righteous. But righteousness does not manifest itself in wealth and health. It comes with a joy, peace in the Holy Spirit and a close communion with God.
Many fellow Christians who are standing for Christ are fully righteous and certainly more courageously and have more love for Christ.
This is one point I find repulsive as some NCCers dismissed that those who suffered persecution or poor, or sick lacks revelation, confession and did not believe in the power of Holy Communion.
“4. Positive Confession. Does positive confession hold a major part in the way NCCers conduct their lives?”
While positive confession is something taught in the Bible, there are some who take it to extremes. Once you start to “name it and claim it”, it starts to cater to one’s greed. Also, does a child needs to claim and beg so that a loving father will provide him what he needs?
I believe positive confession is praising God for all His Goodness, Faithfulness and Love. I do not need to claim things for myself as He knows what is best for me.
“5. There are claims that Joseph Prince may be living a life of excess. Driving a 7 series BMW in Singapore etc. Is the grace theology and the willingness to demonstrate that material blessings come as a result of believing this, JUST AN EXCUSE to justify ones worldly desires in the NAME of God? Does this theology blurr the lines between the Christian and the world such that the looking to prosperity in the worldly materialistic sense is advocated by God?”
There is a materialistic streak that I do not like about Joseph Prince. He often talks about flying first class,luxurious holidays, becoming a millionaire, striking lottery, driving Lamborgini, multi million house etc. If there is anything that can bring a person down, it is money and lust. I do not agree with him on this point as stated in my previous postings.
“5b God rains wealth, health, good relationships on both the good and evil. Does that mean that a non Christian who is driving the same BMW as Joseph Prince is also experiencing the blessings of God? If so… does that mean that the grace theology could work even by disregarding Christ? This seems to be suggested in Rhonda Byrne’s book “the Secret””
I said that if Christians are supposed to be rich and healthy ( in the Benjamin generation ), then the richest men in the world should be Christians. The reverse is true. Some of the richest people in the world are actually criminals and crooks! Also, many of the richest people do not have happy lives.
Bottomline, health and wealth is not a measure of your spirituality nor the measure of blessings God is bestowing on you. It is the enjoyment of the fellowship with Christ.
(Stillhaventfound: Gamine, I apologize for not approving this post earlier! I get hundreds of SPAM messages everyday so I must have somehow missed this one! I’ve edited the date to today so people can read it! Cheers!)
# meeple1 Says:
“”…This includes denying that NCC is imbalanced and consequently may result in retardation of any attempts to correct that…””
I think Ps Prince himself is the first person to admit that his message is widely considered to be ‘imbalanced’. That was why when he was first called by God to preach the way he does, his human side thought it was ‘career-suicide’.
But he is convinced he’s preaching the exact emphasis the Holy Spirit is telling him to. He doesn’t know why he’s being told to preach like that, but just listens & obeys.
He’s not telling everyone else they’ve got to preach the same kind of balance-or-imbalance he is preaching, he’s just doing what he perceives the H.S. is telling him to. If anything is amiss, blame his ‘antennae’ being out of tune, but I don’t think he ingenuously engineered this kind of emphasis because he cleverly knew this was going to work the crowds…
I think he reached a point where ‘balance’ or ‘imbalance’ has been thrown out of his list of criteria to decide what to preach on.
He claims he doesn’t even decide on what to preach on, although he regularly spends hours preparing each week’s message, and has said that anyone who routinely goes up to the pulpit unprepared & hoping for a last-minute word from God is just ‘lazy’. He claims that–as far as possible–he preaches exactly what he’s told by God to preach each week. Sometimes he has 2 or 3 sermons prepared but at the last minute God tells him to preach something entirely different.
Anyway the central message about Christ is solidly anchored. Christ is upheld, glorified & magnified. So at least it is not another ‘Lakeland-esque’ revival where one has to question even whether the whole thing had been of God or not.
meeple1: “”…Background: I listen to NCC sermons on a weekly basis through pay TV channels and have amassed close to 60 sermons on my dvd hard drive. I participate in discussions in person and over blogs (like this) with NCC attendees. …””
Amen brother! I respect your sincerity & honesty. I respect your individual journey and the possibility of you reaching a different conclusion about NCC than I did. Anyway God spoke to me through NCC. I’m sure He is capable of speaking the same message to you if necessarily through other sources.
meeple1: “”….Emerging trends which have i have noticed in remarkable unity is that all/most have a fanatical belief in NCC doctrine and all profess the same responses….:””
Hmmm… intriguing, isn’t it? Is it bcos we’re all being systematically brainwashed? Or is it because it’s the same HS working in all of us?
“”…Imperative to understand the NCCers understanding of gospel balance and irrationality of unswerving loyalty, ….””
I want to say that my loyalty is NOT to the person of Ps Prince. The very first time I heard him preach in 1999, I dismissed him as a ‘lawrence-khong-wannabee’–with the same kind of fake (I thought) semi-american accent & egocentric personality :-). [at that time FCBC was THE happening church..]
But it is no longer him that I hear preaching. I hear Jesus speaking to me through the gospel. Once in a while during a sermon I would hear moments of Joseph Prince the person speaking, and I would know that it is him in the flesh. But the parts that renew & transform my mind–which form the most parts–it is Jesus Himself speaking to my spirit through the bible.
And btw, the first time the message really began to make sense to me, I wasn’t listening to Ps Prince. I wasn’t even in the main sanctuary, I was up on the 6th floor watching proceedings through a video-screen, listening to Ps Joshua preaching & copying down notes.
meeple1:..””… many have professed that they agree with a lot of Joseph Prince’s teaching BUT not all. To this date, no one of great NCC loyalty (stillhaven’tfound excluded) has revealed what their disagreements are. Perhaps gamine, Stanley or Jeffery could enlighten me….””
OK. Areas where I’m not entirely aligned with NCC:–
(1) I could wish for a stronger emphasis on cell-group/care-group structure that can give stronger individual ACCOUNTABILITY. (I mentioned this in a comment in the last few days, possibly under another post).
This can reduce cases of people ignorantly misapplying doctrines and doing foolish things–like not studying for exams or giving away their last penny to the church leading to insolvency & near suicide.
The cell-structure can be a effective framework to make Christian community & discipleship REAL–i.e. Christian brothers helping one another in need; doing community outreach as a body.
I’m sure this has not escaped the leadership’s consideration. Why they decided on this present level of participation of the CG-structure I don’t know. But I know they had been expanding & strengthening the CG-structure in recent years, but not at the rate & intensiveness of FCBC or CHC.
(2) I wish the accounts are laid bare like CHC’s. I wish Ps Prince & other pastors will reveal how much they’re paid.
But I agree with stlhvtfd when he wrote in another post that NCC is NOT another run-of-the-mill average Word-of-Faith church in their extreme prosperity teachings.
In this regard I truly appreciate Andrew Wommack Ministries, which preaches a very similar message to NCC but whose financial accountability leaves nothing for the public to guess about. The leadership’s lifestyles give nothing for people to complain about.
(3) ok will write more as more come to mind….
meeple1: “”…2. Suffering. NCCers have stated that suffering is not from God. However, it is an effect of the devil working through the world to suppress victory in God’s people.
Question: Is the activity by the devil independant of the degree of belief/faith in the finished work of Christ of each individual? or are we attributing this to simply fate…””
I think sufferings in Christians are from at least the following reasons, which chiefly revolve around the devil, the flesh & the world:–
Satan in the NT (yes, even in view of Christ’s victory at the cross) is called the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4), the prince of this world (Jn. 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), the prince of the demons (Mt. 12:24), the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2), that old serpent (Rev. 20:2)…
His activities include blinding the minds of unbelievers (2 Cor. 4:4), deception and craftiness (Gen. 3:1; 2 Cor. 11:3), disguising himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14), tempting mankind (Mt. 4:3; 6:13), condemnation (1 Tim. 3:6), bringing men into reproach and a snare (1 Tim. 3:7; 2 Tim. 2:26), lying and all untruth (Jn. 8:44; Acts 5:3), and snatching away God’s Word from men’s hearts (Mt. 13:19; Mk. 4:15; Lk. 8:12).
He binds humans with physical infirmities (Lk. 13:11,16), hinders the work of God (1 Th. 2:18), buffets God’s messengers (2 Cor. 12:7), displays wrath (Rev. 12:12), accuses the brethren (Rev. 12:10), possesses those who yield to him (Lk. 22:3; Jn. 13:27), controls the world’s system in wickedness (1 Jn. 5:19), controls the false religious system (Rev. 2:9; 3:9), promotes the false worship of demons (Dt. 32:17; Mt. 4:8-9), and wrestles against the people of God (Eph. 6:12).
The believers’ commission wrt Satan is to: resist him and see him flee (Jas. 4:7), yield not their members as servants to unrighteousness (Rom. 6:13), take authority over all power of the enemy (Mt. 10:1; Lk. 10:19), bring demons under their subjection (Lk. 10:17), cast demons out (Mt. 10:8; Mk. 16:17), overcome the evil one (1 Jn. 2:13-14), overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21), not give the devil a foothold (Eph. 4:27), stand against the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:11), and the God of peace shall bruise Satan under their feet (Rom. 16:20).
I’m sure a large part (not all) of suffering still experienced by Christians is a result of not fully knowing & applying our authority & commission in the above regard.
“”…2b. NCCer believed that we are now 100% righteous in the eyes of God … God seeing us through Christ and hence we have the same righteous standing as Christ. Is it possible that God is allowing this suffering to chastise his people into re-evaluating their lives and restoring broken relationships with God so that we could turn back to him. ( this is from a sanctification perspective rather than a salvation perspective)….””
Frankly, it doesn’t make sense that God has to resort to some of the more gruesome sufferings for the purpose of chastisement. It is really an overkill and God is fully capable of restoring broken relationships with far gentler & loving measures.
But as alluded to above, Christians can willfully follow the ways of the flesh, of the world & of the devil and suffer the natural consequences. In these cases God played no part in allowing or disallowing these consequences. The only thing He allowed was the freedom to make choices. And in the bible He has already amply warned Christians of the consequences of these choices.
For non-Christians–of course–they’re under the kingdom of darkness. The chastisements of their sufferings can make them see how they need to run from an evil overlord & the chains of their sinful natures to kneel before a loving, holy & savior God. But God would rather they turn from their wicked ways through a call to repentance than through calamity (e.g. Jonah).
“”…Does this amount to legalism in the sense that we do good works but suppress the conscience that we are doing so?…””
Yes it can. As alluded to by some NCC-ers in some other post, it can become an anti-legalist legalism.. haha! But the mature Christian will come to the point of seeing it as what it is.
So what I’m doing is: when I see a need, I just GO & help the person. The other person’s need is more important than what my motive is in helping him. God is capable of using an ‘impure’ me to touch that other person.
But the difference is, I’m no longer plagued by the notion that there’s such a thing as a ‘good’ Christian or a ‘bad’ Christian, or constantly wondering whether I’m a ‘better’ or ‘worse’ Christian now than a year ago. There is just no such thing.
:”””….IS IT NOT POSSIBLE that we do Good works but realise that self-pride can indeed come in, recognise it’s pitfalls and allow God to maintain us in a state of humility?…”””
Certainly! In any case, my humility or lack of it is inconsequential in so far as God is fully capable of protecting other people from the consequences of my ‘flesh’. It is I who will suffer if I do works in the flesh, because these will be burnt up as ‘wood, hay & stubble’.
meeple1: “”…4. Is righteousness something that can be quantified?
IS it TRUE that Nccers believe that the degree of righteousness an individual has depends on the degree that one believes in the finished work of christ. For example, Person A believes that the finished work of Christ will release ALL healing, prosperity is more righteous than Person B who only believes it partially
OR are both Person A and B equally righteous, only Person A is walking in victory and person B is languishing in a sub standard Christian life because he/she has neglected certain truths. Are there then 2 standards of Christians… one walking in victory in the righteounsee of Christ and one walking in defeat in the righteousness of Christ….””
I think righteousness is absolute. It’s 100% or 0%. (if I broke the littlest of the laws I’ve broken them all).
Under the ‘tabernacle’ post, I’ve tried to explain how I understand things in my mind:–
GRACE is everything God has already FULLY given to us in Christ. (Righteousness, justification, sanctification, gifts of the spirit, ministry, harvest, works, anointing, Abrahamic blessings, shalom wholeness, health, authority, etc, etc.. pardon if I forgot to mention some). These are all fully given in the spiritual realm, but not fully experienced in the physical realm.
FAITH is our part in appropriating & applying the above in the ways they’re intended. FAITH brings these spiritual realities into the physical realm.
Salvation itself is obtained BY grace THROUGH faith. Everything has been first given, then it has to be appropriated. Jesus’ blood offers forgiveness for the sins of the whole world, but unless it’s appropriated by a person, it doesn’t count for that person.
But I believe God’s grace & mercy is such that nothing of REAL consequence truly depends on our human measure of faith, which is fallible. Even our saving faith is of God. So even if a Christian dies prematurely and leaves heartbreak in his wake, God’s grace is sufficient for those left behind and they must hold on to the truth that God is Love, God is Good, and God is All Powerful.
meeple1: “”…4. Positive Confession. Does positive confession hold a major part in the way NCCers conduct their lives? Will a certain hope/desire/want come to pass if it is confessed more frequently and repeatedly.Is it more likely that a want will come to pass if we petition it through positive confession 10000 times compared to only 5 rimes? On the flip side are NCCers affected by negative confession. Would Christians of other theological understanding being avoided and prayed against for fear that negative confession may be invoked upon NCCers? …””
Positive confession can also become a form of legalism, a form of ‘fleshly works’, hoping to twist God’s arm. So one has to understand where it comes from and not do it uncomprehendingly.
People can become so ‘reactive’ in this doctrine that they become fearful of ‘accidentally’ saying anything negative. The truth is, our righteousness & favor in God stands on much firmer foundations!
But negative confessions works against faith in so far as it is a part of a ‘carnal-mind’ that’s still conformed to the system of the world, which is not renewed by the Word of God. And a carnal mind cannot please God.
meeple1: “”…5. There are claims that Joseph Prince may be living a life of excess. Driving a 7 series BMW in Singapore etc. Is the grace theology and the willingness to demonstrate that material blessings come as a result of believing this, JUST AN EXCUSE to justify ones worldly desires in the NAME of God? Does this theology blurr the lines between the Christian and the world such that the looking to prosperity in the worldly materialistic sense is advocated by God?
5b God rains wealth, health, good relationships on both the good and evil. Does that mean that a non Christian who is driving the same BMW as Joseph Prince is also experiencing the blessings of God? If so… does that mean that the grace theology could work even by disregarding Christ? This seems to be suggested in Rhonda Byrne’s book “the Secret” …””
Don’t know about Rhonda Byrne. I just know that a person can gain wealth by the worldly system (like pharoah of Egypt) or as a child of God (like Abraham). But these different kinds of wealth has different ‘endings’ to the tales:–
Pro 10:2 Treasures of wickedness profit nothing, But righteousness delivers from death.
Pro 10:3 The LORD will not allow the righteous soul to famish, But He casts away the desire of the wicked.
Pro 10:22 The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, And He adds no sorrow with it.
Regarding the ‘salvation message’ on the website, my take is that it is staying true to one of the fundamental teachings of the church, which is that ‘salvation’ in Jesus Christ is not just forgiveness of sins, but also healing of the body, deliverance, & financial prosperity.
sōzō = ‘save’ as used in the gospel.
1) to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction
1a) one (from injury or peril)
1a1) to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health
1b1) to preserve one who is in danger of destruction, to save or rescue
1b) to save in the technical biblical sense
1b1a) to deliver from the penalties of the Messianic judgment
1b1b) to save from the evils which obstruct the reception of the Messianic deliverance
sōtēria = salvation
1) deliverance, preservation, safety, salvation
1a) deliverance from the molestation of enemies
1b) in an ethical sense, that which concludes to the souls safety or salvation
1b1) of Messianic salvation
2) salvation as the present possession of all true Christians
3) future salvation, the sum of benefits and blessings which the Christians, redeemed from all earthly ills, will enjoy after the visible return of Christ from heaven in the consummated and eternal kingdom of God.
Hi meeple1, to your latest comment. I will reply to your second latest comment later.
“There is no good in me apart from you Lord”
“We love Him because He first loved us.”
In my encounters with Christians, I have never met a Christian who says “I have come to Christ of my own effort. I have not a single need in my life. My life is perfect. I come to Christ because I am a good man.”
All of us come before God because we have a need to be fulfilled. It can be a disease. It can be a broken heart. It can be a large debt which is crippling our life. It can be a God shaped void in our hearts.
All of us come before God because we have a need to be fulfilled within ourselves. Our motivations may not always be right. But there has been so many times in the Bible God is able to transform a man’s heart from inside out.
This is a quote by Watchman Nee, in the book – Christ is the sum of all spiritual things.
“What we need to comprehend before God is that in our experience there is neither thing nor affair but only Christ: not that He gives us light, but that He is our light; not that He leads the way, but He is the way; not that He gives us life, but He is our life. not that He teaches a truth, but He is the truth. Brethren, do you grasp the difference here? Whatever Christ gives is His very own self.”
What I interpret from Pastor Prince’s messages (and the above quote) is exactly what I interpret from Watchman Nee’s message, and is exactly Paul’s message. That is nothing but Christ. When we are lacking in health, Christ is our health. When we are lacking in goodness, Christ is our goodness. When we have a huge debt, Christ is our deliverer. Christ is the great “I am”, our present help in times of need.
I do not enjoy simply calling NCC a “grace” church, but I’d like to call it “Christ is my everything” church.
I can be honest about an experience I have when I was young, about 12. I remember saying this prayer “God, please let that girl fall in love with me, I will serve you with all my heart.” Have we all not said such foolish prayers before? My motivation is clearly wrong. But still through all these years, the love of Christ continues to transform me. And I am glad God did not bless me with that girl, because my wife to be now is exceedingly and abundantly above what I thought!
Anyway, I just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading all these comments and discussion. I’ve always believed in my heart that Church unity is the desire of our Father. Thanks stillhaventfound for this blog. I think as we continue to talk, we can still disagree on many issues, but we will clarify many other issues as well. May our hearts be open to hearing each other out.
I should also say that this is one of the more constructive discussions I have encountered and it is more worthwhile than the traditional mud slinging.
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” – John 17:20-23 Jesus final words before His crucifixion
HI donkey of Christ. Thanks for your response.
you said…. In my encounters with Christians, I have never met a Christian who says “I have come to Christ of my own effort. I have not a single need in my life. My life is perfect. I come to Christ because I am a good man.”
All of us come before God because we have a need to be fulfilled. It can be a disease. It can be a broken heart. It can be a large debt which is crippling our life. It can be a God shaped void in our hearts.
If you read one of my previous posts, I know 8000 Russians who came up at the altar call, accepted Jesus as their personal saviour and truly believed in Him because the American evangelist told them that Jesus would make them rich if they were Christians.
I have realised that the world is bigger than just Singapore, and our minds need to be stretched beyond our narrow focus.
Singapore has grown to be an extremely materialistic society and sadly the theology has followed…
meeple1: “”… If you read one of my previous posts, I know 8000 Russians who came up at the altar call, accepted Jesus as their personal saviour and truly believed in Him because the American evangelist told them that Jesus would make them rich if they were Christians….””
ahhh…. I know even Billy Graham has estimated that in his own rallies, only perhaps 15% of ‘converts’ are truly converts after all! Others have said that if all the ‘converts’ in all the rallies in India were totaled up, it would exceed the number of the total population!
I think this phenomenon is not confined to whether the ‘salvation message’ preached is only about forgiveness of sins, or also includes health, provision & peace.
There is a school of thought where it is believed that if these people who professed to receive Christ but 20, 30 yrs later do not ‘live like a Christian’ (no growth) they were not Christians in the first place.
Andrew Wommack Ministries tends to be of this school of thought. They preach an otherwise very similar message to NCC. But they do not ‘evangelize’ a person without also ‘discipling’ him. i.e. making sure he understands what a life-transforming process it’s got to be, but also making sure he knows it’s the Spirit & the Word which transforms, not his own human efforts.
But I’m of another school of thought which believes that God also works via ‘Divine Benevolent Entrapment’ (a term I coined myself).
Let me explain:– God uses diverse ways & means to benignly ‘entrap’ souls into His kingdom. The moment a person confesses Christ is His Lord & Savior–boom! something irrevocable happens in the spirit realm. His SPIRIT is forever Christ’s, no matter if his soul (mind) & body may continue to be led astray by the devil & an unregenerate mind.
That is also why I believe in child-evangelism. 80% of born-again Christians became one before they turned 15. In the simplicity & sincerity of the child’s mind, his spirit receives Christ because he perceives God’s love or in some cases they fear the wrath of hell.
No matter. None can confess Jesus except by the Holy Spirit. I believe that every time a person opens his mouth to accept Christ as his Lord & Savior (short of being coerced under gun-point!) he is not capable of doing it unless by the Holy Spirit.
The moment the children ‘receive’ Christ, something irrevocable happens in the spirit-realm and they are Christ’s. Even if they go on to live for decades ‘not knowing’ that they are Christians, nevertheless some time in their lives God will reveal this spiritual truth to them & they will come back to the fold.
I absolutely agree with you that our world views should expand beyond the narrow focus of Singapore. That is why I chose the path of spending a year overseas in a country, and a year overseas in another country. I listened to many stories of lives, both the saved and unsaved, both the rich and the poor. I do not think I have a largely expanded worldview as a result of this. But I do know that after those experiences, there is a natural curiosity to learn and “deep dive” into another country’s culture to understand the present state of things. And I strongly advocate every generation to spend time overseas to stretch their minds, and worldviews.
“Singapore has grown to be an extremely materialistic society and sadly the theology has followed…”
Strange, that I once made this statement before as well. At a point in my life, perhaps 5 years ago, I recall making the statement “The penetration level of Christianity in Singapore is not that high, because Singaporeans are affluent (based on the 20k/annum GDP, one of the highest in the world), and hence Singaporeans will not see the need for Christ.”
This is a result of my interactions with people in the past. Most will think they do not need Christ because they have everything they desire.
Today, I concede that I am wrong. I am thankful that the most affluent people will still see the need for Christ because they still face battles everyday. Battles with relationships at work, in the family, with their own health, with their own material needs. We are not here to judge whether these battles are of greater or lesser importance than world issues like poverty, global warming. But if they have come to a stage where they humble themselves, know that all good comes from God, and surrender every battle (material or spiritual/ big or small) to God, is that not a good outcome? I am thankful that even in an age of affluence, people can see the need for God.
Yes I do agree that not everyone has reached the stage of an enlarged worldview, where they think of how to use their affluence to help solve the world’s problems. But I do see the church (not just in Singapore, but across the world) rapidly maturing. I believe God is moving in people’s hearts to have compassion and to transit the mentality from “what can God do for me?” to “God, because your love overflows in my life, use me as a vessel of love to bless the people around me”
“If you read one of my previous posts, I know 8000 Russians who came up at the altar call, accepted Jesus as their personal saviour and truly believed in Him because the American evangelist told them that Jesus would make them rich if they were Christians.”
I believe you that there were 8000 Russians who responded to an altercall and an American evangelist told them that Jesus would make them rich. However, I would not be so sure as to judge that it is the only reason why they responded to the altercall. Men judge by external behavior, and God knows the inner condition of the heart.
I do believe that the theology of “God prospering you” has been abused, as what stillhaventfound has mentioned in an earlier blog. And I do not agree with many things some Amercian evangelists do. But I do believe that among the 8000 Russians, there will be people who have genuinely accepted Christ because the Holy Spirit has unveiled the truth of Christ to them through the sermon.
It is also easy to assume that in a church where the “prosperity theology” is preached, people focus on money. I am here to testify that many people in the church lead very simple lives, i.e not focused on the material things. Pastor Mark is one such example. A man who used to be excessively rich (before he knew Christ), fell into a large debt, but lives in a small apartment now in Woodlands. He often talks about how the Lord has taught him to take delight in simple things like loving the family.
I will like to share my own life as well. My family used to be excessively rich. We used to stay in a large house, and a car for each person in the family. (Please do not think I am justifying/ boasting how rich I was, there is nothing to boast of as there is almost nothing left now.)And because of a financial crisis, we moved to a pretty small apartment, almost everything was seized.
After listening to NCC sermons, do I believe God will bless me with wealth? Yes. But do I constantly pray for these things? No. Am I okay staying in this small apartment. Yes! Because my family is so much more in a blessed state right now, I am so full of joy, I can say to God: “God, I had a lot in the past, but I was poor. Now I do not have a lot, but there is nothing I lack. You have made good every area of my life (friendships, relationships, family, salvation) and this is more precious than gold or silver.” Will I be okay to live in a small apartment for the rest of my life? Absolutely.
There are many more such individuals in this church. If one will just talk and understand their lives, they will know that God works in their hearts in such mighty ways. A church might not be preaching the perfect theology, but I truly believe that God can make good the conditions of the hearts of man.
We may assume, from the outside, that “These people received Christ because they are hungry for power and wealth. Hence they are on wrong foundations, hence there will be this and this and this bad outcomes.”
I think, God is greater than our assumptions. I am speaking this statement to myself, more than anyone else.
God uses diverse ways & means to benignly ‘entrap’ souls into His kingdom. The moment a person confesses Christ is His Lord & Savior–boom! something irrevocable happens in the spirit realm. His SPIRIT is forever Christ’s, no matter if his soul (mind) & body may continue to be led astray by the devil & an unregenerate mind.”
I TOTALLY DISAGREE with the above theology. It makes a mockery of the doctrine of regeneration. When we become a Christian, the Holy Spirit enters into our lives. Eyes are opened, lives transformed and we are a new creation. Before we had a propensity to sin. Now we are turned around, our lives become sensitive to the HS. Metanoia comes as a result of repentance and there is a change in mind and action away from sin and towards God. I irrevocally believe that there is NO such thing as a “carnal Christian”. In addition, it is impossible to have an unregenerated mind with the HS dwelling in you. Is this the theology that NCC is teaching?
you said……”None can confess Jesus except by the Holy Spirit. I believe that every time a person opens his mouth to accept Christ as his Lord & Savior (short of being coerced under gun-point!) he is not capable of doing it unless by the Holy Spirit.”
Again I disagree with your statement.
Simon the magician in Acts 8, “believed and was baptized” (Acts 8:13). Yet later on, when he tries to buy the power of the HS, Peter rebukes him by saying “Your money perish with you … your heart is not right in the sight of God.” (v. 20).” Then Peter says, “Repent … and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.”
option 1: if you believe in “benign entrapment”, then Peter’s rebuke to Simon of divine damnation does not make sense.
option 2: If you believe that confession Simon’s confession of salvation was not real, then your above statement makes no sense.
Donkey of Christ,
You have a wonderful view of prosperity. Praise God. I know the story of Pastor Mark and greatly respected him for what he had done.
I know also of people like Andrew Wommack who preaches prosperity but intentionally lives a simple live and a modest salary despite his huge ministry.
Yes, God wants us well. He wants us prosperous. Also, He wants us to use our wealth and prosperity to bless others not for our selfish needs.
Poverty is not a blessing. Often it is said that “the love of money is the root of all evil” We forget that the lack of money is also the root of many evils.
So if a person is poor, We need to believe God will provide. He will give a breakthrough.
What I feel uncomfortable is the way prosperity has been preached in NCC. There is an emphasis on self gratification, excessive luxuries like big houses, very expensive cars,becoming a millionare etc. Nothing wrong with all these luxuries but if it encourages one to claim for all these it can degenerate into greed and looses one’s focus on Christ. It can become a curse if a person does not know how the handle excessive wealth.
“””…I TOTALLY DISAGREE with the above theology. It makes a mockery of the doctrine of regeneration. When we become a Christian, the Holy Spirit enters into our lives. Eyes are opened, lives transformed and we are a new creation. Before we had a propensity to sin. Now we are turned around, our lives become sensitive to the HS. Metanoia comes as a result of repentance and there is a change in mind and action away from sin and towards God. I irrevocally believe that there is NO such thing as a “carnal Christian”. In addition, it is impossible to have an unregenerated mind with the HS dwelling in you. Is this the theology that NCC is teaching?…”””
No no no. This ‘Divine Entrapment’ thing is a term I coined MYSELF (I’ve said so in my comment)–nothing to do with NCC. As far as I’m aware, NCC has not preached on this topic. But Andrew Wommack has, and they believe in ‘discipleship-evangelism’. (kindly read my post again. Those are MY OWN sentiments, nothing to do with NCC!). Not everything I say is from NCC lah..
Ok I know my current perceptions about this issue of ‘how a person becomes a Christian’ warrants much further thinking. It’s not ‘theologically accepted’ and I’ve not heard anyone preach it. But I tend to believe that when in heaven, there’ll be people there we thought would never ‘make it’, rather than people we thought should be here but are not there.
Ok about Peter’s rebuke to Simon the magician. I’ll need to read & study more into that incident. But some honest questions to you: does that mean Simon was damned to hell? Does that mean Simon lost his salvation? Ok I know divination is an abomination and there’s some theology about blaspheming the holy spirit that I didn’t understand. Did what Simon the Magician do constitute blaspheming the holy spirit?
If Simon the magician was damned to hell then I fear for many many Christians whose hearts may also be ‘not right with God’ in many things.
To add, regarding ‘salvation message’:–
I believe when doing ‘altar calls’ the message of Christ’s death, resurrection, atonement for our sins and what salvation means must be clear.
That is why I was a bit uncomfortable with Ps Lawrence Khong’s (of FCBC) magic shows. I’ve attended 2 of them in the earlier years & I felt that it could be too confusing for non-CHristians watching them:–people have to grapple with 3 things: the magic tricks, the father-daughter story around the magic tricks, and the underlying gospel story around the story around the magic trick!!
ANyway I haven’t watched any more of his magic tricks in the last several years so I don’t know how things are now.
In all the altar calls that take place at the end of every NCC service including mid-week ones, even in the hokkien ones, the focus is always relating Jesus’ death to our sins. I’ve never felt it to be leaning so much onto the wealth & health aspects that it makes me feel it’s wrong.
On the other hand, I’ve often taken issue with the website. I feel I could have made the ‘salvation message’ clearer, and I don’t feel comfortable with ‘outsiders’ reading Prince’s booklet or book either. I feel they can be easily perceived to be ‘shallow’ and outlandish theologically.
It’s just as ken from the ‘man-centered vs God-centered’ post has said: “”Pastor Prince’s messages work on a very personal level and despite the simplicity of his language and anecdotes, his sermons are very deep and even though it’s easy to internalise what he’s saying, it’s very difficult to put it on paper and argue it out to someone else.””
In fact when I first attended NCC, I was very UNimpressed with the website–in fact I was turned off by the website. If I had only logged onto the website without other compelling reasons I would never have wanted to attend NCC.
I specifically felt it can lead outsiders to think that NCC preaches nothing but worshipping wealth & health. I used to write to Ps Lian complaining to her that certain aspects of the website was misrepresenting NCC to outsiders!
Since I first attended the church, the website has undergone a revamp & I can say that the ‘testimonies’ have improved in balance & representation, and now I do enjoy reading the testimonies. But I had never spent much time in the website except to study the scheduling.
Dear donkey of Christ,
Amen bro! Yours is a heartening testimony… You should contribute your testimony to the NCC website to show that pple who attend NCC do not end up only hankering for wealth.. :-)
meeple1: “”… I irrevocally believe that there is NO such thing as a “carnal Christian”. In addition, it is impossible to have an unregenerated mind with the HS dwelling in you….””
But I thought Rom 7, Rom 8, Gal 5, and a host of other passages, are supposed to teach CHRISTIANS how to no longer live carnally but spiritually?
Furthermore, if it is “impossible to have an unregenerated mind with the HS dwelling in you”, then why do we have to exert any ‘effort’ to live out the Christian life, to ‘work out’ our salvation?
My take is that there is a constant tension in a CHRISTIAN, between the flesh vs the Spirit, the old man vs the new man, the unregenerate mind vs the mind of the Spirit…
The NT is replete with exhortations for Christians..:–
— to set their minds on things of the Spirit (& not of the flesh) and thereby live according to the Spirit (& not according to the flesh)(Rom 8:5-8; Col 3:2);
— to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:4-5);
— to ‘put off’, concerning their former conduct, their ‘old man’, and to be renewed in the spirit of their mind, and to ‘put on’ the new man which was created according to God in true righteousness & holiness (Eph 4:22-24);
— to be transformed by the renewing of their minds, that they may prove… the will of God.. (Rom 12:2);
— to ‘put to death’ their members which are on the earth.. (Col 3:5);
— to ‘put off’ all these: anger, malice, wrath, blasphemy, filthy language.. etc (Col 3:8);
— to ‘put on the new man’ who is renewed in knowledge according to Him who created him.. (Col 3:10);
— to ‘put on’ tender mercies, kindness, humility, etc… (Col 3:12);
— to above all things, ‘put on’ love…. (Col 3:12);
— to give all diligence to ‘add to’ your faith virtue, etc etc (2 Pet 1:5);
— to not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh but through love serve one another.. (Gal 5:13);
— to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Gal 5:16);
— to cast off the work of darkness and put on the armor of light (Rom 113:12);
— to ‘put on’ the Lord Jesus Christ, to ‘make no provision for the flesh’, to fulfill its lust (Rom 13:14);
— to ‘put to death’ the deeds of the body, by the Spirit (Rom 8:13).
The whole litany of exhortations above go to show that the Christian has the CHOICE & the RESPONSIBILITY whether to live according to the Spirit or the flesh (carnally), according to the old man or the new man in him. Doesn’t it?
I’m curious why someone attending NCC would welcome a CG structure and admit a greater need for individual accountability.
I say this because a lot of my friends left my church to join NCC simply to escape the ‘binding’, ‘legalistic’ CG system!
Doesn’t NCC believe (at least what what I gather from NCC-ers here) that following a set of man-made rules towards spiritual matters, and being advised (aka forced, obliged, coerced) to do certain things as legalism and a curse?
CG leadership is built on the premise that some Christians are “better Christians” than you and hence should be put over you, and you under them and their authority.
If one day the man you’re accountable to gives you advice conflicting with what you heard God speak to you, what would you do? Follow God’s voice? Then why bother with such a system of accountability in the first place? Follow your leader’s voice? That’s pleasing man, that’s bondage, that’s legalism, that’s a curse!
Most of us would probably play it both ways – follow the leader’s advice when it’s in line with what we want to do, erm I mean, what we think God spoke to us to do, and when both are in conflict, claim that I heard from God and just go ahead and do things my way.
Furthermore, who is this guy that he should have authority over me? Aren’t we all fully and EQUALLY redeemed and saved by His grace? Haven’t we, by His grace, become FULLY sanctified, justified and made holy and righteous? (Unless your ‘FULLY’ is more than mine?) So why should someone else just like me have rule over my life?
And yes, we start raising (in our hearts at least) during these conflicts the doubts Aaron and Mariam had about Moses in Numbers, saying “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?”
In the light of these, surely such greater accountability through the CG is not suitable, even detrimental, in NCC’s context?
Or perhaps there is a grace-gospel-friendly, non-legalistic form of CG structure I’m not aware of?
Please allow me time to respond to the responses to my “provocative” comments.
In the mean time, a passing thought. Care Groups would not work well in NCC. The reason for that is the grace message is tightly and uniformly controlled from the pulpit by Joseph Prince. If he decides to take the risk to allow care group discussion, variability in his teaching will emerge as a result of discussions. This will potentially cause conflict and divisional theology.
The current structure allows the information to flow from leadership and hence doctrine remains unchallenged.
How do I know this?
The following structure was propagated in my former church to “convince” certain groups that a certain doctrinal idea was to be followed. The same message was preached from the pulpit day in- day out until only that topic was heard and drummed into the congregations head.
In every group that should be a facilitator if you don’t want to call him a leader.
In every church there have to be a structure,not a free for all.But the question is whether the cell group or care group,whatever you want to call it is grace based or is it performance (law) based.
Do we make people fit into a system or programme or do we allow the Holy Sprit to lead people to the programme that will help them?
The problem I’m afraid is that some churches make membership into a system where people must follow that is not in the Bible.
To be a member they have to go for breakthrough encounter,break generation curses,make a covenant or a vow before God and the people that they are likely to break.Promise to tithe,attend church every Sunday and cell group regularly ,evangelise once a week etc.These are man made rules to make the people committed and accountable but such rules forces people to commit even if they are reluntant.Paul says God loves a cheerful giver and it is the love of Christ that compels him.Rigid programmes make hypocrites.And law based programmes makes people compare with one another their spiritual level but it’s only an external comparison.God sees the heart though.
I myself have been there and done that.When I had a revelation of the Gospel of Grace,I realised it was my self effort trying to please God instead of knowing that I am complete in Christ already.Col 2:10 We now serve not to be favoured but because we are favoured.We forgive not to be forgiven but because we are forgiven.We love not to be loved but because God already first loved us.It is the grace of God that motivates people.Paul said he laboured more than the other apostles yet it wasn’t him but the grace of God that enabled him.It was not his self effort through some rigid church programme.
What a wonderful God ! What a beautiful Saviour ! Wouldn’t that want you to love Him more ?
Jeffrey said: “We now serve not to be favoured but because we are favoured.We forgive not to be forgiven but because we are forgiven.We love not to be loved but because God already first loved us.It is the grace of God that motivates people.”
Well said, and I agree with you on these points. But I’m slightly perturbed about the whole generalization that whoever did not receive NCC’s revelation on the grace message are still serving and loving God for all the wrong reasons. Perhaps I’ve been paranoid or over-sensitive in this aspect, but if there are some truth in my statement, then it is a very misleading – even dangerous – assumption.
Having said that, I tend to agree more with meeple’s view that the CG system cannot flourish in such a grace gospel context, as in NCC. As gamine pointed out, the key element in a CG structure is, as the name suggests, STRUCTURE and implicitly, SUBMISSION TO (a central/unified) AUTHORITY(ie, your so-called accountability).
Any CG system that is not founded on these two key elements cannot technically be considered a CG, but more of a fellowship or religious gathering.
What I’m most curious to know however, is what you define as a “grace based” church that has a structure and is not a “free for all.” More specifically, I’d like to know how we can accept differing views and interpretations of the message from the pulpit (from a grace perspective) without it becoming a situation where everyone is entitled to their own points of view and everyone is neither right nor wrong.
Also, how do you propose to set up any realistic and effective form of discipleship in such a grace-based context?
Looking forward to your response. =)
Want to say that I am not a member of NCC and am not speaking for NCC.But have understood and caught the Gospel of Grace.
I attend a grace fellowship that meets at a home twice a month with people coming from different churches to hear the Gospel of Grace.Yes,we call it a grace fellowship not a cell group meeting.
We need to understand that the Gospel that Paul preaches in the new covenant is the Gospel of Grace apart from the law.Act 20:24,Gal 1:6-9,Gal 2:21
There are two main ways that we serve God.One way is we serve God out of gratitude and love for Him because He first loved us and what He has done for us.
The other way is that we serve God to EARN His favour and blessings.Instead of trusting and resting in Christ finished work.Rom 11:6,Rom 4:5-6
It is God Who judges and knows the real motive of our hearts,but we are to preach the Gospel of Grace (Christ)Gal 1:7
If you are talking about a CG sytem,then I guess you are implying that it is a system where the members MUST follow.Then yes,it would be a problem in a grace based church like NCC.
Some years ago,I attended a church in New Zealand where there are a variety of groups that people can choose from.Bible study groups,interest groups where people have a common interest like cooking or tennis.Through these interest groups friendships are built and the lost are won to Christ.There are also groups where people have an interest for music,like learning to play the guitar.From these groups musicians and worship leaders are developed.
I much prefer an environment like that where people can decide where God is leading them rather than a fixed system where everyone is made into a mould.We are born original,why die a copy ?
Did this church have a structure? Sure,and every group has a facilitator.But it’s not a legalistic system where you must fit in or considered “non-member.”
It’s takes maturity to disagree agreeably with one another.We see dimly but then we shall know as we are fully known.Like Paul who doesn’t compromises his stand on the pure GOSPEL (read Galatians) I wouldn’t want to either.But I must accept my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.Paul did.He even called the carnal Christians in Corinthians saints and temples of the Holy Spirit.
We cannot underestimate the Holy Spirit ability to teach and lead.Our job is to teach the Grace of God.The Grace of God(JESUS) will teach them.Titus 2:11-12,Heb 8:10-11,Jn 1:16-18
The Holy Sprit leads us from within(inside).But man likes to enforce rules,methods and formulas from without(outside)and call it “accountability.”
This is just my view bro, not a church consultant’s view.Hope it answered your questions.
The current care-groups in NCC do not have those ills that you’ve pointed out that can exist in a CG-structure. OK maybe the word ‘structure’ has bad connotations–just let that word pass. Let’s use the word ‘platform’ then.
There has to be a platform where congregants can experience the transformative power of a Christian community. By this will the world know that we’re Christ’s disciples–that we love one another.
OK call it fellowship-groups if you prefer. But I think the term ‘fellowship’ group has grown to have a ‘social club’ kind of meaning where people gather to have a mini-party but there can often be little meaningful interaction. The essential part of these small-groups has to be that believers can experience a real christian COMMUNITY through participation in these groups. There has to be participation not only of group activities, but participation of LIVES.
The CGs of New Creation Church, are not Cell Groups but Care Groups that are meant to care for its flock, hence the name.
It serves as the bodily extension of Christ to provide the body ministry to the flock of NCC so that as we growth, we have closer and closer intimacy with Jesus, to see Him in all His loveliness.
CG sessions of NCC is very open where members share not just testimonies of God’s goodness but also life challenges so that they can be ministered by fellow members. members of CG share their about relationship and walk with God, uphold and care for one another.
CG attendance in NCC is not compulsory, though encouraged, and when one encountered the love of Christ in the CG, they want to continue drinking for the Fountain of life.
Hey Jeffrey, the NZ church groupings sound interesting. =) I feel that something similar to this would implement very well in our church.
I attend a care group and the people there are a genuine community who open their hearts to share, but sometimes Ian and I do feel out of place as we are younger and come from a different background – by this i mean that they are mostly white collar job holders whilst we are from the media/ creative arts – we thus differ in our understanding of work politics and payment situations. It makes it hard to share, to be understood and to be prayed over.
A couple of us who are of about the same age and same background in media and the creative arts are thinking of getting together to worship Jesus, share with each other and pray for one another as a care group. Most of us did not feel like we belonged in our original care groups – not because the people are not nice or not loving, but that we found it hard to fellowship sometimes. It gets a bit awkward. =) But we have a genuine bond between us and friendships founded in Christ so we hope to meet together and “sharpen” each other in Christ.
I feel that an enforced cell group structure doesn’t always work out the way man intends it to do so.
I know a friend who was emotionally and physically abused by her previous church’s cell group leader in her cell group. It is sad to know of such situations. It almost drove her away from Christ.
Another friend’s cell group barged their way to her house to confront her family when she stopped attending church. It sealed her family’s conviction against Christianity.
Cell groups if handled wrongly can become legalistic or worse still, a cell group leader can have too much “power” and abuse it.
It’s good to catch up once in awhile with like minded friends.It’s also good to have a regular group we can go to for prayer support and encouragement and sharing the Word of Christ.
When we do something that we enjoy it will last.If we are forced from leaders to do something that we don’t like or not called to do,it won’t last.We will soon get weary and give up.
I believe a leader whether in a care group or cell group will need to have the ability to motivate and influence others.If not,he can be a facilitator where others can develop in their gifts.Depending on the group type.
Actually,it also don’t have to be restricted to a home.It can be a dicipling group at Macdonalds or an interest group meeting at a street soccer court.It all depends.What is an interest group anyway if people are not interested.
Aha.This might interest you.This NZ church have a Creative ministry.They are into dramas,arts and so on.During one Sunday service I saw a group of them singing out the announcements and to my surprise they rapped to the song of Amazing Grace.That’s amazing.
Our God is a very creative God indeed !
And JESUS is Awesome and Amazing !
Who can compare to Him !
Thank you all for stating your views.
I agree that we should not feel forced to serve God, much less feel obliged to serve Him in order to gain favour or even salvation from Him.
Though we come from different churches and doctrinal backgrounds (I presume), I find much credit in the gospel of grace, as long as it is preached for the UNITY of the church body, instead of causing division, bias or prejudice against each other.
Regrettably, many of the current CG structures tend to be what it is, a structure, and hence may come across as legalistic and overbearing for some. Yet we must also recognize that despite its shortcomings, it has helped many believers in their faith and fellowship with God.
Perhaps there is indeed a time and season for the CG system, but I also believe that as long as we continue to keep the (old) CG system current, and update its working so that members are still constantly reminded that they do so not for pleasing man but out of their love for God, it should still work out fine.
Of course, while it sounds good that people get to choose which group they want to belong to, and are absolutely free to make switches, we run into issues like members switching groups as and when they encounter genuine friends who would mould and sharpen their lives and character.
For such members, their lives would never be changed because the moment a well-meaning member tells them that “hey, you really shouldn’t be cheating on your wife” for example, they switch to another group, then another group, until they find a group that would not criticize his sin, or until he decides he will stop sharing altogether.
Being placed in a group with diverse personalities may be a moulding ground for us to become more tolerant, more accepting, more loving and more lovable. That becomes more so when you believe that our God is not a God of chance or coincidence, and that you were placed in that group of people by His divine will.
Having said that, I’m not saying that this free-to-choose system is bad. I’m just stating one of the pitfalls we need to consider.
For many churches now, the CG has evolved into a platform (thanks gamine, for the word) for ministry, encouragement, alignment to a larger church vision and spiritual and practical help for those who require it.
Of course, like little children, we all want to do things we like once in a while, whether we should or not. And our ‘platform leaders’, like parents, has the responsibility to shepherd errant members with rebuke and sometimes, legalistic instructions on how to live their lives right.
I’m actually not against the cell group structure or platform if you want to call it.In fact the 4 W that was used in FCBC was a great concept.Welcome,Worship,Word and Works.
But I disagree with you that leaders use legalistic instructions on how to make people live their lives right.The Law doesn’t help us to live right.
Rom 6:14 Sin shall have no dominion over you bcoz you are not under Law but under Grace.
Churches today teaches the opposite.Sin shall not have dominion over you bcoz you are under law.They say the law will teach you to deny ungodliness.Check Titus 2:12-13
Christians misunderstood what it means to fear God Ps 130:4.Check Jesus definition of the fear of God in the Bible.Deu 13,Matt 4
We go into legalism and enforced laws and rules because we don’t understand what the Grace of God can do !
The law can produce some results.If you point a gun at a Christian and tell him to be an usher,he will do it.But God doen’t work on that system anymore.Heb 8:13
Sooner or later we will see the result of a grace based church and a law or performance based church.And I dare say that if God is for the new system of grace,the result or fruit will be evident.
Yes, the ‘HARDWARE’ of the CG-structure/platform, the shape that it takes, isn’t what leads to the legalism.
It’s the ‘SOFTWARE’ that runs it that determines whether the CG-participation ends up being ‘works of faith’ or ‘works of the law’ (cf. 1 Thess 1:3; 2 Thess 1:11)
In other words, the diff’ce depends on whether the pple are well-grounded in the ‘new wine’ of Grace or still use the system of the world to run it i.e. a performance-based meritocratic relationship with God.
For the benefit of some:-
a “work of the law” = doing something with the mindset that this is going to ‘earn’ you relationship with God. That God ‘owes’ it to you because ‘look what I did!’
A “work of faith” = it may be the exact same action but the mindset behind it is that I’m not doing this to ‘earn’ relationship with God. I’m doing this because God has GIVEN me relationship in Christ… I love Him and I want to serve Him.
Works of faith are motivated by faith & by love, not a sense of debt & obligation.
Well said Gamine.
Sometimes pastors ask their congregation to lift their hands up for those who have attended prayer meetings or attended some seminars.
I was an “on the ball Christian” before so I used to lift my hand up.But I realised these only lead to comparison and spiritual pride.
What’s more important is that people are willing and compelled by the love of God to serve him.2 Cor 5:14 NCC has more than 900 ushers and none of them were told that it was compulsory to serve God.
In my previous church,a pastor was asking how come the attendance of the prayer meetings was so poor and why it was so difficult to get people to come for prayer meetings.Today that church attendance is an all time low.
Steve Mcvey himself a pastor for more than 20 years said that when he preached Christ and the Grace of God the church began to revolutionized.People were so motivated to serve when they hear the Good News of God’s amazing grace.
It’s time to be a voice that will bring change.And let all the glory go to JESUS and that in all things He may have the preeminence !!! Col 1:16-18
The Word of righteousness is what is needed that Christians may grow beyond drinking milk.
It’s also the core of the Gospel.The gift of righteosness.Rom 1:16-17 The righteosness of God as a gift and not the righteosness of man.
So the answer is the Gospel of Grace which is the power of God unto salvation.Grace is unearned and unmerited favour.It is also the power of God for us.God’s ability especially when we are weak.
When we learn what is the Gospel of Grace and the Word of Righteousness based on Christ finished work at the cross,we will be able to discern good and evil,law and grace as the Hebrew writer says.
We will grow in maturity.The grace of God will teach us.We don’t have to resort to legalism or enforced rules on people.
A grace based church and a performance church can have the same structure.Difference is thata grace based church poeple are compelled or motivated by the love of Christ.They served because they are loved by God and their leaders.
In a performance based church people are tired and they are driven to serve to be loved by God and accepted into membership by thier leaders.
Both can have the same purpose.To win the lost for example.Bur one is led the other driven.
You mentioned “The grace of God will teach us.We don’t have to resort to legalism or enforced rules on people.”
What place then, does discipleship have in such a context?
We have been talking about how wanting the traditional form of discipleship. Maybe I missed it, but no one has yet offered a convincing grace-based form of discipleship that achieves God-led results without the disciples feeling ‘driven’.
Glad to hear your thoughts on this. =)
CG leaders must see themselves as been called by Jesus, the Great Shepherd, to be shepherds of their flocks and have a shepherd heart when ministering to their flocks. We draw our wisdom and strength from the Great Shepherd.
When talk about shepherding, we must not picture it base on the modern way where shepherd dogs are used with cowboys on horseback to drive the flocks, but rather like the ancient time where shepherds led the flock to green pastures and still waters (Ps 23) to be feed and nourish.
When any of the sheep gone astray, the shepherd would locate, lead and even carry it back to the flock, but never to use the staff to beat the sheep. The staff is for the wolves and bears that want to steal and destroy.
Many a times, the ‘undesirable’ behaviors that we observed in our flock are more of the products of immaturity (still drinking milk) rather than rebellion. If a child is only 4 years-old, no amount of beating (discipline) can cause him to grow beard (mature). He just need to grow.
There would of course be occasions when wolves and bears disguising as sheep among the flock. The shepherd must be sharp eyes (discerning) to pick these up, rise up to the task courageously and use his/her staff to protect the flock.
Sorry I miss out your point on discipleship.
As mentioned,structure is not a bad word.
We can even have a structure for discipleship.You want to call it Intentional Discipleship Training like CEFC or one to one or group discipleship like what my church before did with the Navigators.
But what is more important is the content or teaching.Disciples means learners or followers.We make disciples so that they in turn can become diciplers or mentors to teach others.
We want to help people understand the Bible from a grace or new covenant perspective.Not a mixture of law and grace.
I am not from NCC so I don’t exactly know how the structure is.What I know is that they have care groups and they used to have biblestudy classes to teach and equip the people.The care groups could also be a type of dicipleship group.
Not having a rigid structure does’t mean no discipling is going on.Not having a prayer meeting doen’t mean prayer is not going on.I would say dicipleship is more of teaching the right stuff .Heb 5:13-14.It can happen naturally.
My take on dicipleship is want to see more of a relational kind of discipleship.Just today I was having prata and teh tarik with a brother and sharing with him from the Bible and encouraging him with the Word of righteousness.Talking about Jesus and how wonferful He is.Isn’t that discipling?
Thanks for the response. I agree that any form of discipleship must be built on a basis of relationship and mutual trust. Otherwise, any form of teaching will seem like instruction and legalistic ordering around.
Admitting how complex and multi-faceted human relationships can be, we also have to admit that claiming to disciple based on relationship is an uphill, almost impossible task.
I myself have experienced cases where discipleship was given out of a strong and solid relationship with the disciple, only to realise later that the relationship wasn’t as strong as we both thought.
My point is that often, even with the best of intentions on BOTH sides, effective, relationship-based discipleship can still go wrong.
As for 777’s comments, I note that shepherds of old would carefully break the leg of a persistently wayward lamb to stop it from running astray and leading the flock with it. (This is why the shepherd has to “carry it back” on his shoulders, because the lamb by then, can’t walk on its own!) The bible also clearly says that the Lord chastens whom He loves.
The same David who wrote the beautiful verses in Psalms 23 also wrote many other Psalms that speaks about how God has smitten him and allowed problems and disasters in his life.
In fact, David recognises that God allowed him to walk through the valley, which also meant that God did not guide him away from entering the valley. Does this then contradicts with your notion that the good Shepherd only leads us to still waters and green pastures and nothing else?
Remember that the shepherd carries two things: the staff and the rod. The rod is the one that is used against wolves and bears. The staff is the one that is used to prod and guide the flock.
Sometimes, if a lamb runs off course, the shepherd will use the staff to hook it back by the neck. I’m sure that must hurt somewhat, if not at least uncomfortable.
I can’t find anywhere in the Bible that says that the shepherd breaks the leg of the sheep to prevent it from going astray or carrying the lamb back after breaking its leg.
Instead, I only read of shepherds watering the sheep, bring the sheep to pasture and rescuing the sheep.
Gen 29:10 (NIV)
When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of Laban, his mother’s brother, and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep.
Gen 29:3 (NIV)
When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well.
1 Sam 17:34-35 (NIV)
But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.
John 10:11 (NIV)
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Matt 18:12-14 (NIV)
12″What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.
Psalm 23 says the shepherd leads the sheep to quiet waters which is definitely away from the valley of the shadow of death. If the sheep chooses not to follow, it then risks wandering into the valley of the shadow of death on its own.
However, the shepherd does not abandon the sheep even though it is the sheep’s own fault but he goes after the sheep and protects it with his rod and staff.
Haven’t we all at one time (or many times) gotten into trouble because we did not listen to God’s soft prompting? Yet, after getting into the trouble through our own fault, haven’t we all also experienced God’s help in our time of need?
The staff is not meant to hook the lamb’s neck and thus hurting it.
I found this article by Phillip Keller explaining the use of the shepherd’s rod and staff (http://www.antipas.org/magazine/articles/shepherd_psa23/shepherd_7.html)
I have taken the liberty to append the portion about the staff below for your easy reference:
The staff is essentially a symbol of the concern, the compassion that a shepherd has for his charges. No other single word can better describe its function on behalf of the flock than that it is for their “comfort.”
There are three areas of sheep managment in which the staff plays a most significant role. The first of these lies in drawing sheep together into an intimate relationship. The shepherd will use his staff to gently lift a newborn lamb and bring it to its mother if they become parted. He does this because he does not wish to have the ewe reject her offspring if it bears the odor of his hands upon it.
…the staff is used by the shepherd to reach out and catch individual sheep, young or old, and draw them close to himself for intimate examination. The staff is very useful this way for the shy and timid sheep normally tend to keep at a distance from the shepherd.
The staff is also used for guiding sheep. Again and again I have seen a shepherd use his staff to guide his sheep gently into a new path or through some gate or along dangerous, difficult routes. He does not use it actually to beat the beast. Rather, the tip of the long slender stick is laid gently against the animal’s side and the pressure applied guides the sheep in the way the owner wants it to go. Thus the sheep is reassured of its proper path.
Being stubborn creatures sheep often get into the most ridiculous and preposterous dilemmas. I have seen my own sheep, greedy for one more mouthful of green grass, climb down steep cliffs where they slipped and fell into the sea. Only my long shepherd’s staff could lift them out of the water back onto solid ground.
Another common occurrence was to find sheep stuck fast in labyrinths of wild roses or brambles where they had pushed in to find a few stray mouthfuls of green grass. Soon the thorns were so hooked in their wool they could not possibly pull free, tug as they might. Only the use of the staff could free them from their entanglement.
I think the discipleship and friendship has to be centred on Christ,whether it is not a long term discipleship or a life time mentoring relationship.
The problem is that religious institution just restrict it to within the four walls of the church.That is to say that if I leave a church,I cannot be discipled or mentor by the pastor or leader of that church anymore becoz I don’t come under their “covering.”
If the discipleship is grace based it doesn’t really matter if the mentor and disciple are from the same church or not.Becoz there is a friendship and relationship between the two that is centred on Christ rather than centred on a particular church.
Discipleship don’t have to be long term or a life time.Sometimes the disciple can outgrow the mentor or teacher.Eg Barnabus and Saul became Paul and Barnabus.Paul outgrew the one who discipled him.Acts 9:27,11:30,12:25,13:43,13:50,15:2
Of course no one is above his Master.We can’t outgrow Christ.Also what makes a friendship last is mutual respect and understanding of one another.Having chemistry or the same interest.
I myself am being mentored by someone not from the same church as me and I disciple brothers from my church as well as in other churches.But we are like minded and want to know more of Jesus in the Scriptures and share a passion for the Gospel revolution or Gospel of Grace.
It all boils down to how do you view God’s heart. For me, His would be infinitely more tender, more merciful and kinder than mine.
For me, I would under no circumstances break my child’s legs even when he go astray. My heart would be pierced (thus long suffering) but I would not break any bones of my child. How can you said that of our Heavenly Father?
The type of shepherds that you’ve described would fall into the category that was described in Jer 23:2, those that scattered and drove way the flock.
Want to have an example of a good shepherd? Look at Jesus, our Great Shepherd, who is God in flesh when walking on the green Earth. Throughout the whole gospel, you would not able to find a single instance when He whacks the sinners. Instead, He has hush words against the bad shepherds, those the scattered and drove away the flock!
We need to always interpret bible with bible.
Much of the teaching we hear today is a mixture of the bible and human reasoning.
Therefore you find some of the teachings and policies don’t line up with the Scripture or it’s a confusion or mixture of law and grace.
I agree with you that life has a mixture of trials and blessings. Jesus said it in His own words: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. – John 16:33”
I have in the past, misunderstood NCC’s teachings as well, that life is meant to be blessing after blessing. But over time, I realized that the pastors are trying to tell us “Troubles will come, but let us have the attitude of Caleb and Joshua, that these troubles are food for us.” And also to rest in the truth that Christ has overcome the world.
I encourage you to go back to God’s word regarding the doctrine of the Shepherd breaking the lamb’s leg.
Please verify it from the Bible that such things do happen. I am concerned mainly because such teachings can lead to leaders using unbiblical methods to correct the “wayward” people.
This is a blog post that I found to show that this particular doctrine/ story is not of the Bible
Enjoy and have a great weekend!
There is a story going around the Christian community. It gives me the shivers. I even heard it repeated on the local Christian radio station. It is a story about a shepherd that broke the legs of his lamb in order to keep the sheep from straying away.
I found this version on the Internet:
“I guess you’ve heard the story of the shepherd that broke his sheep’s leg one time. Many little stories has been told about it. And was asked this shepherd, “Did the sheep fall off of a mountain and do this?”He said, “No.”Said, “What happened?”He said, “I broke its leg.”Said, “Why did you break its leg? Are you a cruel shepherd?”He said, “No, I love the sheep. But the sheep got to running away from me. And he kept straying out to itself. And I know the nature of sheep. And I know if they stray too far away, the wolf will get them. So I had to break the sheep’s leg to keep it with me, to draw it to my bosom, to give it a little special food. And I’ll be so kind to it, that when its leg gets well, it’ll never leave me any more.”
This does NOT come from the Bible. As far as I can tell, it comes from a sermon delivered by Brother William Marrion Branham called ‘The Good Shepherd Of The Sheep’, delivered on March 8, 1957.
Why does this awful story perpetuate? It is not biblically based. I can’t find anything in scripture that would even hint that this is in God’s nature.
Here ARE some scriptures from the Bible:
…and the sheep hear his voice, and he calleth his sheep by name, and leadeth them out. John 10:3
So God leads us out, he doesn’t break our leg.
Here is admonition from the Lord to the leaders of Israel:
The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them (Ezekiel 34:4)
It shows God’s nature. He doesn’t want people to be ruled with force or cruelty.
And probably the best example of God’s nature straight from Jesus himself:
And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance (Luke 15:3-7).
Uh… no where in this story does it say that God broke the legs of the sheep that strayed.
God doesn’t put bad things on us to teach us as lesson. Bad things happen because we live in a fallen world.
I think we are all agreed that bad things happen to good people. And we should also be all agreed that God allows us to go through trials to test us and mould our characters.
I do NOT believe that God puts bad things on us to teach us a lesson, or to tell us we have displeased Him in some way.
We read from the Psalm that David wrote after the prophet Nathan exposed his sin with Bathsheba: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice.” (Psa 51:7-8)
Remembering that David was a shepherd boy himself, he was alluding in this passage to his Shepherd, God and how He has broken his bones.
Having said that, we must not confuse God breaking our bones to frighten us into submission and obedience, with the shepherd’s intentions to keep us close to Him.
If one of my children is lost, would I leave everything behind to look for him? Of course I would! But would I admonish and chasten the child so that he will not PERSISTENTLY run astray? Of course I would too!
If I may (long-windedly) quote from Hebrews 12:5-11: “5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
God’s chastening brings us greater love and respect for Him because it shows He cares for us so much that He is even willing to break His heart and “break our bones” (metaphorically).
Enduring such ‘painful’ chastening also ‘yields the fruit of righteousness’ to those who have been ‘trained by it’.
This is going to be a fairly lengthy reply, so please bear with me.
The word “bones” in Hebrew is transliterated as “etzem”. I did some research on it and found that besides bones, there are also other meanings attached to it:
The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon says that it also means essence, substance, self.
I did a search on Jewish Community Online and found this article (excerpt attached below):
From The Jewish Chronicle
Rabbi Julian Sinclair
November 5, 2008
Etzem means what is inner and essential. In modern Hebrew, politicians will frequently say “etzem ha’inyan”, which means roughly, “the essential fact of the matter”, and is equally vacuous and clichéd. The word itself means bone, and we see the similarity to the now archaic English phrase, “the marrow of the matter”.
In the context of Psalm 51, David was expressing remorse over his sin of adultery and murder in the Bathsheba episode.
IN 2 Sam 12:13, David said,”I have sinned against the LORD.” and he confessed that Psalm 51:4 –
4 Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.
In 2 Sam 12:10-12, God pronounced his punishment on David through the prophet Nathan:
10 Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.’”
BUT was David worried about those punishments that God meted out?
No. David was only concerned about his fellowship with God:
Psalm 51:11-12 (NKJV)
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
David is only concerned with whether his own spirit is in communion with the Holy Spirit. I submit that David used the word “bones” here to refer to himself, his innermost core, his essence, his spirit.
We see David use the word “bones” a number of times in the book of Psalms and they reflect a similar pattern of David crying out to God with his “bones” i.e. his spirit, heart and soul.
Psalm 6:1-3 (NKJV)
1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your anger,
Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure.
2 Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak;
O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled.
3 My soul also is greatly troubled;
But You, O LORD—how long?
Psalm 31:9-10 (NKJV)
9 Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am in trouble;
My eye wastes away with grief,
Yes, my soul and my body!
10 For my life is spent with grief,
And my years with sighing;
My strength fails because of my iniquity,
And my bones waste away.
Psalm 35:9-10 (NKJV)
9 And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD;
It shall rejoice in His salvation.
10 All my bones shall say,
“LORD, who is like You,
Delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him,
Yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?”
Psalm 38:1-5 (NKJV)
1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your wrath,
Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!
2 For Your arrows pierce me deeply,
And Your hand presses me down.
3 There is no soundness in my flesh
Because of Your anger,
Nor any health in my bones
Because of my sin.
4 For my iniquities have gone over my head;
Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.
5 My wounds are foul and festering
Because of my foolishness.
Psalm 102:1-3 (NKJV)
1 Hear my prayer, O LORD,
And let my cry come to You.
2 Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble;
Incline Your ear to me;
In the day that I call, answer me speedily.
3 For my days are consumed like smoke,
And my bones are burned like a hearth.
God’s chastening of David was painful to David not because of the punishments set out in 2 Sam 12:10-12 but rather it is because of the fear that he will be separated from God.
God did not chasten David with punishment or “bad things” or as you alluded: by “breaking the bones of a sheep”.
God chastened David by talking to him, by telling him a story through Prophet Nathan to show the error of his ways.
2 Sam 12:1-9 (NKJV)
1 Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. 3 But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. 4 And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”
5 So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! 6 And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.”
7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! 9 Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon.
God chastened David with His Word! His Word pierced straight through David’s heart, David’s essence, David’s innermost core.
God’s Word broke his “bones”.
Taken from NCC daily devotional
11‘No grain offering which you bring to the Lord shall be made with leaven, for you shall burn no leaven nor any honey in any offering to the Lord made by fire.
When I was a young Christian, I heard of an illustration for Psalm 23 about shepherds who sometimes break the legs of sheep which habitually stray, so as to teach them not to stray. That erroneous teaching — “The Lord is my Shepherd, He breaketh my legs” — stuck with me for years, causing me needless fear of God’s punishment when I felt that I had strayed from Him.
Such erroneous teachings are what God’s Word refers to as “leaven”. That is why Jesus cautioned His disciples, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” (Matthew 16:6) The leaven of the Pharisees was their doctrine of legalism, which judges and condemns people who fail to keep God’s laws. The leaven of the Sadducees was their doctrine of humanism, which discounts the supernatural and teaches that everything can be explained away using reasoning or science.
When God told His people in Leviticus 2:11, “No grain offering which you bring to the Lord shall be made with leaven,” we are reminded that how we appreciate Jesus, our grain offering, must not be mixed with wrong teachings. For example, when we talk about “suffering with Christ” (Romans 8:17), we must know that it is not about suffering sicknesses or lack, things which Jesus has redeemed us from, but suffering persecution, scorn and rejection for His name’s sake, which we are likely to face as good Christians.
My friend, what you believe about Jesus is important because the Holy Spirit bears witness only to the truth. (John 16:13) So ask Him to unveil the beauty of Christ and the perfection of His finished work to you when you read God’s Word. Find out from the Word how Christ has redeemed you from every curse and paid for you to enjoy all of God’s blessings with His sacrifice at the cross.
Beloved, get rid of any leaven in your believing. Believe and declare that you are healed, not sick; prosperous, not poor; and forever righteous in Christ. And when you start believing and confessing God’s truths, the anointing of the Holy Spirit will be released for the breakthrough you need!
I attend CEFC and I find its discipleship program ineffective. Firstly, I must clarify nothing is ever enforced there in the CG. I’m not even sure why the writers here make it sound like that. It’s really just about advice and encouragement. There is however, another key discipleship program where there’s a regimen you must follow. Again, joining the program is voluntary and there’s no compulsion.
Perhaps, I’ll focus a bit more on this program. In short, it is about following practices like reading verses and having a mentor lead and guide you. Bear in mind the mentor does not control you. Even though he’s the authority, he’s ultimately a guiding force. Anyway, when the program was being promoted, I knew this was not for me. I did not even dare to take the next step. You see, discipleship is not about dos and don’ts. It’s not about following a set of methods and thus believing ah, you’ve arrived as a disciple.
Thus, the methods are there, but the heart and the passion isn’t. Ppl think that all they need to do is exercise willpower and make adjustments to their character and it’s done. All these justify man’s efforts and takes away glory from God. Go to their services and you’ll find the preaching stale. They preach and hope or expect you to listen without drawing you in. The worship lacks passion. To them, you shouldn’t get too emotional about God. After all, you must have the correct theory first and not being foolishly passionate in worship.
But having said that, I guess in the end, it works for some ppl. So my criticism is just based on how it affects certain individuals like me. If this methodical approach works for you, then good for you.
Chanced upon this site while doing some searching. Some of my thoughts (in questions) from the replies I read:
1.Seems as though there are quite a few presuppositions on Discipleship and in vary degrees as well.Back to basics..
Q1 – What is a disciple?
Q2 – Are you a disciple?
Q3 – Are you commanded to be a disciple?
Q4 – Are you intentionally training to be a “better” disciple.
Q5 – Is discipleship a process of event?
2. Is discipleship passive or active
3. How is discipleship conducted, informal, formal settings, Books, Pulpit, Mentoring, CGs etc etc Choosing one over the other or holistically under different settings, various stages in life?
4. Do you become a disciple or train to be one? (Think Spiritual Formation)
5. Are structures necessary? (think about schools or even home schooling if you inclined towards flexibility)
6. Can we make disciples if we are not disciples first (Read Matt 28:19)
7. However, I have problem with the statement “There is a Chinese proverb – ‘feed an army for a thousand days only to use them on one.’ – The closest example I can find is that of a martyr and that is assuming he/she did nothing worthwhile prior to martyrdom. As long as the WORD is heard, received and applied in obedience, a christian will experience growth. This is but a very important subset of discipleship.
Hope this is not an excuse to go down the path of least resistance as some will agree that some of the GOD’s call can be quite uncomfortable to move us away from our comfort zone… Sorry, if I offend anyone or the writer with this comment.
8. To conclude, listening, learning and “sitting under the feet of Jesus” etc are of paramount importance which should rightly lead to transformation and value change but is it the END itself….Is discipleship that passive?
An athlete can train all day, but the race is where the rubber meets the road and they’ll know how good they really are.
Moral – You train for excellence, as an act of worship. i.e. You try your best and GOD will do the rest.
Finally, the process of discipleship should lead one to know GOD better and HIS heart for the world (i.e Not just head knowledge).
This is what I heard during a recent conference:”What this generation neglects, the next generation rejects”
Its great to know that you understand so much about grace, properity and healing.
Is this mostly through your own readings and studies or from CEFC?
Jesus is perfect theology? I think that was through the words of Bill Johnson?
You don’t sound like anybody I know from CEFC.
Your theology, your insights into dicipleship and church structures and alignment is of “a certain kind”.(No pun intended):)
You are a man who probably have read alot and process through a number of current day church issues and subjects. Probably you had grappled and seek the Lord before,in some of these issues and subjects.
How does one become a member of a church if his or her understanding of grace, church structure and alignment is so different from the church that he/she is attending?
I find your walk admirable because with your broad understanding on such subjects, you seemed to be part of the church but not apart from the church. How do you do that? I say this without sarcasm.
Like to catch up with you face to face.
Sorry for the late reply.Didn’t see your comments until a friend hightlight it to me.
Connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Discipleship is what Jesus commanded us to do in Matthew 28 and in 2 Tim 2:2 what Pual told Timothy.
It’s definitely for new covenant believers!
In fact from John 13 to 17 Jesus was refering mostly to the dispensation of grace and about the Holy Spirit.