The greatest tension in the New Testament is between the indicative (what God has already done and what is already true about us) and the imperative (what remains to be done as we respond to God by faith and obedience in the power of the Holy Spirit). That tension can be seen in verses like Romans 6:6: “Knowing this that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.” You have to know and believe positional truth in order to successfully progress in your sanctification. Positional sanctification is the basis for our progressive sanctification.
The balance between the indicative and the imperative is about equal in Scripture, but I have not observed that balance being taught in our churches. We seem to focus more on the imperatives, i.e. instructing believers what they must do instead of balancing that with what God has already done. Many people attend evangelical churches for years and never hear enough positional truth to understand that they are children of God who are alive and free in Christ.
Vos says that the heart of legalism is when we separate the law of God from the person of God. And what we have got then are bare imperatives that don’t have an indicative that will sustain them.
God himself in his grace, love, kindness, and generosity was the indicative that would have sustained the imperative of “Don’t eat the fruit of this tree.”
The gospel of grace is all about the indicative. That is, the gospel is all about what is already done, what is already true. Contrast this with the imperative, or what one ought to do. Scripture contains both the indicative and imperative. A preacher ought to preach both. Paul clearly preached both. But it’s not just about anyhow preaching both so that we get a balance of both kinds of messages. Rather, I think it’s extremely important to be able to bring out the clear relationship between the two.
It’s my understanding of how both of these kinds of passages interact with each other and play out in the Bible that gives rise to 1) my appreciation of New Creation’s constant focus on the indicatives – I appreciate this so much simply because I feel every other church I’ve been to over-emphasizes the imperatives 2) my concern for what I feel is New Creation’s under-emphasis on the imperatives (the imperatives are very seldom preached at all), which I think is an over-reaction towards the other churches’ over-emphasis on the imperatives.
I hope to do a little series on this issue. Like I said above, I think this gets to the heart of why I appreciate New Creation so much – and why New Creation’s preaching has transformed so many lives -, yet this issue also relates to my biggest criticism of New Creation.
As I’ve always believed and I’ve constantly mentioned, history is full of over-reactions. This is clear in the history of the world, the history of Christianity and the history of ideas in any discipline. It’s no different with what we’re talking about here. The way I see it, in reaction to most church’s constant focus on the imperatives, New Creation has over-reacted and gone the other way. It’s beautiful to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ (the message of the indicatives of Scripture) being preached so clearly every time. It’s especially beautiful in the light of the fact that so many churches preach what New Creation would call “mixture”. It’s beautiful to hear the preaching in New Creation when we take into account the way the imperatives are constantly (over)-emphasized (wrongly) in most churches today. But the Bible and Paul clearly preached both the indicatives and also the imperatives. The message to the church was both “It is done” (indicative) and “Do” (imperatives). But this was no “mixture”. The “Do” had nothing to do with earning one’s salvation or earning God’s favour. The “Do” had everything to do with because it’s already done, because we’ve already been saved in Christ, because we’re already favoured in Christ – i.e. we do because it is already done. There is thus a proper way – the biblical way that Paul used – to preach both the indicatives and imperatives that avoids “mixture” and legalism. It is simply in grounding the imperatives in the indicatives, or what Sinclair Ferguson alluded to: making sure your imperatives are sustained (and empowered) by the indicatives.
Despite mostly agreeing with his other sentences above, I’d probably like to take a bit of issue with this sentence by Neil Anderson: “The balance between the indicative and the imperative is about equal in Scripture”. As I said, I don’t think it’s about balancing the quantity of the indicatives and imperatives in one’s preaching (if indeed he’s suggesting something like that), so much as it is about understanding the proper relationship between the two. But if we want to talk about quantity, I would argue the Bible leans more towards emphasizing the indicative than the imperative. I would argue this not from counting how many passages deal with the indicatives and how many deal with the imperatives. Rather, I think it’s important to see things from a bigger perspective. Viewed from a big picture perspective and from the history of the God’s redemptive plan for mankind, it’s all about the indicative. That is, the whole Bible is about getting us to see what God has done for us in Christ. God’s mission in this world is all about Jesus’ death and resurrection. The most essential message in the whole of the Bible is the gospel (His death and resurrection) of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:3). That is the dominant message, the most important message. In a sense, the Bible is one grand indicative. That is so clear. And those who still think that Christianity is all about what we do for God or even our response to what God has done for us in Christ have totally missed what Christianity is all about.
Therefore, while I don’t think New Creation is as balanced as Paul in its preaching, if I had to err on either side, I’d rather err on the side of over-emphasizing the indicatives and the message of the gospel, than over-emphasizing the imperatives or what we have to do for God.
Thanks for the insightful analysis.
It’s certainly helpful as I have been struggling with the “imperative” passages in contrast with JP’s “indicative” preaching.
After reading your blog, I am now able to see how the “imperatives” are to be grounded in the “indicatives” without falling into legalism and works as is so common among most evangelicals.
Keep on writing!
You’re welcome! Thank you for your kind comments and I’m glad you’ve benefitted from the entry.
I have been following your writing and postings recently and feel that I am greatly blessed! I personally have been attending NCC for recent few months (I have been a christian for 5 years), and found that I have been blessed by the preaching in NCC.
In the past, I kept on receiving “imperative” teaching without the “indicative” which makes me self-righteous when I succeed (or horrible/unaccepted when I fail). However, NCC has wonderfully taught me about who I am in Christ, and the imputed righteousness of Christ despite my “imperative”.
However, I completely agree with you that NCC is neglecting the “imperative” to certain extent. And I think Pastor Prince also acknowledge NCC or himself is not balanced (he is saying that no-one is as balanced as Jesus Himself). He also concluded that if he had to err on one side, he’d rather to lean towards grace.
Even though Pastor Prince is not perfect or balanced, God has used him to bless many lives including myself. It is sad to see some of my friends accused NCC as a bad church like “cheap grace teaching”, “bad stewardship of money” (one-north project), etc.
I also cannot agree (or not convicted) why NCC has to use $500 mil just for a building when many people are starving and dying out there which I think is an emmergency need. But again, just because NCC is not perfect in one area, that does not mean that NCC is “bad church” like in their minds.
But Let’s pray that God will use NCC to serve the poor and marginalised more greatly in the future, and perhaps they can be even more aggressive in raising the fund for the poor and needy compared to their one-north project!
Hope you keep on postings, I believe this blog has also greatly blessed others and will continue to do so. Thanks!
Good to read your entry. Indeed, Pastor Prince and NCC have been a great blessing to many people and I think that’s because they have understood this message of the gospel clearly than most churches have.
While I don’t think that Pastor Prince is balanced, I guess maybe there’s a place for his erring on the side of constantly emphasizing the gospel of grace and the indicatives, since almost every church does the opposite (i.e. focuses on the imperatives) and also preaches “mixture”.
I myself strongly disagree with the building project. But as you said, these are two different areas.
And yes, I like what you say in that I hope one day NCC will one day place a greater focus on loving the poor and needy.
Dear Oz with regards to the statement you made
(“I also cannot agree (or not convicted) why NCC has to use $500 mil just for a building when many people are starving and dying out there which I think is an emergency need”)
I could not agree more! However, keep in mind that NCC/Pastor Prince they are helping people to experience freedom from bondages. I don’t even attend his Church ( I live in Canada)by just by listing to his CDs & reading his books I have been experiencing wonderful freedom in my life.
I too believe & hope that one day they will put their focus on the needy and the poor.
Peace be with you all:)
I love the insights about “indicatives” and “imperatives”. I first read about them in a book on preaching by Ian Pitt Watson. Put JP’ preaching on this grid, and the kind of performance oriented culture we grow up in, and it becomes clear why such indicative preaching is encouraging and liberating and badly needed. More churches should work on a 3:1 ratio for a start; 3 indicative messages for every 1 imperative.
Hi Kenny (blogpastor),
Thanks. I googled Ian Pitt Watson and the indicative and imperative and got to your post. For the readers, it’s here.
Interesting analysis about indicative and imperative. To me, it’s not about what I must do (imperative) after encountering Christ (indicative), but it’s about what I want to do due to the conviction by the Holy Spirit of my righteousness in Christ (Jn 16:8).
Church is a bride of Christ and the focus of a bride should be on the Groom…While caring for the poor demonstrates God’s charity for the needy, this cannot be the focus of the bride of Christ.
Recently Pastor Prince is being interviewed by Hillsong church in Australia. What Lord revealed to Pastor Prince is his ministry is the revealing of the beauty of Jesus.
And this is what Pastor Prince has been preaching, as leads by the Lord! Praise the Lord!
When man sees that NCC is “wasting” money building such a costly church and should use the money for the poor, this is what the bible said about the poor:
Isaiah 61:1 ‘the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.’
Matthew 6:32-34 ‘For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Malachi 3:10 ‘”Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in you field will not cast their fruit,” says the Lord Almighty.’
By preaching the good news,
1)we are the Righteousness of God in Christ.
2)And know Jesus, who is the Grace and the Truth,
3)Bring our tithes cheerfully to Lord.
Once we know how righteous we are in Christ, by learning more and more about Jesus, Lord promised to give us what the world chase after. He also promised to open the floodgate of heaven and pour blessings over us.
This is the way for the poor to get out of their poverty, rather than teach them to always wait for handout(give them money).
This is what Pastor Prince has been preaching all these while.
As for One North, it’s a leading from the Lord. So, not up for man to say if ok to invest in that or not. For Lord has led me to tithe to this One North too.
It’s not that NCC did not give to the poor, monthly, NCC gives out 10% of their tithe to help mission works, churches and to the needy too. They also give to natural disaster too. So it’s not that they did not help the poor.
Just by reading these comments, and even from conversations I have had with other NCC members (I’m not from NCC by the way), I gather that there are NCC churchgoers who are not comfortable with spending 500m on the project.
No condemnation here, but Ps Prince did mention that there must be a revelation to sow into that project. If one is not convicted to do so, then don’t. After all, God loves a cheerful giver.
Even though I’m not from NCC, I feel very much at peace sowing into the project, and will continue to do so over the next few months.
As for the poor and needy, giving to them is like giving them a fish — they get fed for a day.
Letting them know about Jesus and what His finished work means to them is like teaching them how to fish — they get fed for a lifetime :-)
I’ve been tremendously blessed by your blog! I believe that a balanced doctrine is more important than anything else, lest we get too much on one side and neglect the other. I’ve quite a few friends attending NCC and are so adamant about grace of God, while condemning the law of God. Sad to see this. What is shocking to me, is when they told me, Ten Commandment is no longer relevant in the world today — this is so UNTRUE! When we believe in the Gospel, we believe in the FULL Gospel, it should not be selectively. I cannot imagine having 15,000 people hearing and believing in such doctrine! This is so sad. The Gospel is true, God’s love is of cos true. But we should always remember the Laws of God to guide us to walk in His ways, to live the way God wants us to. While it is true that we are saved yesterday, today and forever, we need to remember that living in the Grace of God does not mean that we can blatantly sin knowing that God will still love us and forgive us. My friend from NCC told me, we no longer need to seek forgiveness of God, bcos we are already saved, and God will forgive us even if we sin today or tomorrow, cos we are weak and only human. I was shocked when i hear this, is God’s love & grace so cheap? We are indeed imperfect, but we need to decide to walk in the ways of God. When we fall in sin, and when God convicts us, we should confess our sins to Him and ask God to forgive us and repent.
By the way, Stephanie — you sounded like a spokesman of NCC :P haha… Perhaps you are a fulltime worker of NCC :P Talking about tithe — shouldn’t tithe be 10% of your income (monthly) to God? Tithe = to building fund?
I was quite blessed by this post and the subsequent comments, despite being from one of the “rival churches”, if there’s even such a thing…
What I gathered so far from the responses here, is that most (if not all) of you know what you’re talking about when it comes to basic Christian theology. You guys at least know enough to have a view about what you think God should be like.
What I think most other churches are concerned about is the influence such imperative preaching has on first-time converts and young believers. After all, many here conceded (indeed JP himself too) that NCC’s preaching is imbalanced in some aspects.
While the more mature believer, or Christians who have had past knowledge and experience with indicative Christianity, are able to appreciate and intrinsically balance the finer points of NCC’s doctrines, the same cannot be said for those new to the faith.
Hence, whether the church preaches imperative or indicative theology, these new believers will tend to swing to either extremes of the spectrum – legalism on one end, and antinomianism on the other. (Do check out on that word, if you don’t already know it!)
Like Oz rightly pointed out, no church can be as balanced as Christ Himself. Yet, since we are called to become more Christ-like, it is critical that churches on either ends recognize this and make the effort to taper towards Christ’s equilibrium.
I do however disagree with the author’s default leaning towards erring on the side of indicatives. Over-emphasis on the indicatives lulls people into a false sense of security about their spiritual lives (since God has already done all these things, there’s really not much need to do more except receive more of His grace).
It would indeed be very sad if people lose their salvation through living unchallenged (and unchanged) lifestyles, yet still hold on to the belief that God has no choice but to fulfill His promise of salvation.
That’s like making no effort to improve my marriage because a marriage covenant is supposed to be a lifetime commitment – I hope we’ll all still together on this one – and my wife has no choice but to put up with my nonsense.
I’m sure we’d all agree that our awesome God deserves MUCH better.
I am not a spokeman of NCC. I have yet to serve the Lord full time. I am just a 2 year old Christian that is lavishly loved by Daddy God.
I am a housewife and I don’t have income. My allowance was even taken away from me by my beloved hubby.
This tithing more than once per month and more than 10% of income, need lead by the Grace of Lord. Lord lead me to be free from the control of money before leading me to sow the 2 seeds to One North. He is setting me up for His blessings.
I used to tithe 10% of my allowance. As I trust more in Lord Jesus, He leads me to tithe weekly. And late last year and early this year, He led me to sow 2 seeds for my harvest. I am receiving the harvest soon and is so excited by it.
As for your friend telling you that 10 commandments is no longer relevant in the world, what Pastor Prince preached is that Lord Jesus fulfilled the Law for us and has forgiven all our sins and redeemed us from the stink of death that comes from the sins too.
We are to walk by the command of Love that Lord Jesus defined in the new covenant. The inner man within each child of God will lead us to walk in it. Lord is leading me in this area too.
It’s not no need to seek forgiveness of God. Each time I walk out of this Grace, I do apologise to Lord and thank Him for all that He had covered for me. It’s not totally bochap attitude. I was like them initially when I 1st heard the Grace of Jesus. It was with each revelation that I learnt that Lord Jesus had fulfilled for me, so I need not fulfill them. Now I let Lord leads me in the commandment of Love.
It’s not continue sinning and Lord would forgive. When sin abound, Grace supper abound. So the person will not remain in sin. If one do so, Pastor Prince said that s/he might not even have received the Grace at all.
I’ve responded to your comments on the City Harvest post already and I’ll do so to your comments here. Thanks for posting. I’m quite glad for your posting because I think it reveals why people are critical of NCC and in turn what most Churches/Christians believe in.
Your 2 comments here are especially revealing:
I’ll try not to write too long a response. But I’m glad that it’s pointed out that for those who are critical of NCC’s theology of grace, they are critical because for them:
1) There’s such a thing as a false sense of security and we Christians need to beware that we’re not deceived into such a false security of being saved when we’re not.
2) There’s a possibility of losing one’s salvation through living unchallenged lifestyles.
I guess it is the fact that many churches believe in the above two points (implicitly, if not explicitly) that I am quite supportive of NCC’s over-emphasizing the side of the indicatives. I believe that anybody who believes the two points does not even know what the indicatives fully mean, and that’s why there’s a need for an over-emphasis, if you will, in this day and age.
As I said in my comments to you in the other post, we can’t have it both ways. Either we believe we’ve saved completely and totally by grace and not our works (as NCC so clearly teaches without shame) or we believe we’re saved by our fruits/works. We can’t be saved by both Christ and our fruits/works. The whole of the Evangelical and Protestant faith is built upon the fact that we’re saved by grace alone through faith alone and not of our works – lest any man should boast! (Ephesians 2:8-9). To say that we can add our fruits/works to Christ’s work on the cross is the biggest insult to Christ. It’s to say we contribute our little bit to Christ’s work. That’s saying what He did was not enough. We still have to make sure we live correctly or we’ll negate His death on the cross!
Anybody who believes that it’s possible to have a false sense of security can never truly have faith in God. He’ll never know he’s truly saved – and that’s what the Roman Catholics would tell you exactly. They are never sure simply because the Church has never believed that Christ alone through grace alone through faith alone saves us. We, somehow, have a part to play. And that’s the reason why they’re never sure – because it’s believed that each of us individually have a part to play and contribute to our salvation!
A person who truly believes (and I mean believe/receive/trust and not try to “earn” our faith) will be transformed because God changes those He justifies. But we must never confuse the fruit for the root. To say that we have to be careful to produce good fruit or we won’t be saved is to fail to understand what the gospel is all about.
Since the Reformation, the motive to live the Christian life has always been “gratitude”. We live for God because of what He has done for us in Christ. That is, He has completely saved us in Christ. Not partially. Completely! We thus desire to live for Him because of that, because we understand more and more of God’s love for us in Christ.
Before the Reformation, and when the gospel of Christ was not yet recovered as beautifully as it was then, the motivation to live for God was “fear of punishment and hope of reward”. No more. We don’t seek to please God because we may lose our salvation (because we fear punishment). No, we seek to please God because God loves us so much and fear of punishment doesn’t have a hold over us. We don’t fear God may throw us into hell if we’re not careful with our lives. That was pre-Reformation thinking (and perhaps post-Reformation Catholic thinking still).
Regarding antinomianism, I’ve written a post here. I believe if one understands the book of Romans and in regarding to antinomianism, Romans 6:1, one would not be critical of NCC’s teachings on grace. In fact, as I said in that post, in a way I’m glad that everyone accuses NCC of antinomianism. I’m actually quite afraid of any Church which preaches in such a way that no one will accuse them of antinomianism. I’m not trying to be funny here. I quoted the Prince of Preachers Martyn Lloyd-Jones in the other post. He says:
For why I believe what Lloyd-Jones said is true, you can read my post on antinomianism – again, here. In fact, I think that of all the posts I have written on NCC and grace, what I try to convey there (though it’s probably written neither clearly nor well) is the most important for understanding why I think NCC and Pastor Prince are spot on and utterly biblical in their preaching of the gospel. Once a person understands the whole context of Romans and especially that part in Romans 6:1, wow, that’s just revelation that blows your mind. I’m still amazed!
Thanks for your comments. I’m sorry to disappoint you in disagreeing with some of the stuff you’ve said ;) Haha. I am critical of some things in NCC, but not everything.
I believe in being as balanced as possible in one’s doctrine too. As in, I think doctrinal reflection is important, but it’s not everything. But I appreciate good doctrine and that’s why I share my thoughts on this blog.
It’s my doctrinal reflection through the years that has brought me to agree with a lot of what NCC teaches. I believed in many of the most essential teachings of NCC years before I ever heard of them.
I’m in agreement with Pastor Prince that the 10 Commandments are not for Christians today. But I’m not dogmatic about it. New Creation is not the only Church in Singapore or the world that believes that. There are many. The 10 Commandments had its special place in the history of the Bible and Redemption. I don’t think we should preach it now as a rule for Christians to follow. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t preach any “dos”. We do. There are imperatives that Paul preached. But that’s different from the 10 Commandments.
You wrote that, “…we need to remember that living in the Grace of God does not mean that we can blatantly sin knowing that God will still love us and forgive us.”
I think that we “should” not blatantly sin knowing that God will still love us and forgive us, if that’s what you mean. And I’m definitely sure Pastor Prince agrees that we should not blatantly sin. The point isn’t whether we should or shouldn’t. We all believe we shouldn’t sin. The point is WHEN we do, what happens? 1) Do we then believe that we’ll go to hell or that we’re not good enough for God? 2) Or do we feel sorry for sinning, yet glad that it’s already forgiven in Christ? We believe in number 2, yet many Christians seem to believe in number 1, or at least something closer to that.
While I don’t believe in “seeking” forgiveness (as if one is not already forgiven of all sins – past, present, future – when one trusts in Christ), I believe in confessing one’s sins and acknowledging, with thanks, forgiveness in Christ. To me, it’s not a big deal what term you use if we believe in roughly the same things. But many Christians actually believe that if we sin, we need to confess our sins or we won’t be forgiven. I think that’s awful theology. That means that a person who sins and doesn’t confess it straight away (and thus according to such theology doesn’t receive forgiveness for that sin) dies in a car crash soon after before confessing his sin, that person will go to hell. That’s the true implication of such horrible theology. I don’t think many people actually agree with such implication, yet they seem to believe in a doctrine that leads to such an implication.
That doesn’t mean we happily sin because all our sins are forgiven. God will change us and put in us desires to glorify Him. He does that in all His children.
Thanks for your post. I disagree strongly with how NCC is using the money but I do acknowledge that Pastor Prince is in no way out to manipulate people to give, as some churches tend to do. And full credit to him for that.
As I said before, I don’t like to talk too much about the building and so I won’t say more. Cheers!
Could not been explained clearer.
I will extract parts of your post to explain to others who have similar objections.
Thanks for your detailed (and lengthy!) response! You’re obviously one who loves and appreciate objective discourse.
I’ll try to be brief here (like you) and just state my fundamental beliefs without getting too deep into proving or disproving anything or anyone, since if doctrinal differences can be resolved via blog comments, we would have found world peace by now! =)
At the end of the day, like you so rightly pointed out, God does not admit people into His eternal presence based on church membership or doctrinal alliance. So it doesn’t matter (to God at least) if we come from different (even opposing) churches or believe in differing theologies.
More specifically, I have many friends who are currently attending NCC and I firmly believe I would see them (most at least) in heaven because I know they love God and have faith in His grace and salvation.
Whether we’re from the imperative or indicative camp, we all believe that God loves us and wants to commune with us. We all believe Jesus came and died for our sins. We believe that through His death and work on the cross, we can have perfect righteousness and hence also eternal life, since we can’t have the latter without first being the former.
Matt 5:20 writes “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus was commenting on the scribes and Pharisees’ form of righteousness, which is basically just earning salvation through works and fulfillment of the Law alone.
Indeed, I would admit that many churches today fall into such a ‘bondage’ where they try to gain salvation through their own human efforts and thus cheapening and/or trampling on Christ’s work on the cross. It was precisely for such people (and churches) that Jesus spoke this verse!
Earlier in the same chapter, He declared that He did not come to “destroy but to fulfill” the Law and the prophets. Then in v20 he exhorts us to “exceed the righteousness” of fulfilling only the Law, because He has already done so for good on our behalf!
So what should our stance today be? I believe we should do as Jesus says. We should EXCEED the Mosaic righteousness and start fulfilling righteousness in the Spirit by faith through grace. Note that He did not say it’s a different form of righteousness, but simply a higher form.
Having said that, we should not discard the Law as obsolete, but should instead take advantage of Christ’s fulfillment of the Law and use it as a foundation, a stepping stone if you may, to exceed and move on to the higher righteousness Jesus spoke about. We can’t just take it away because it’s been fulfilled.
On the contrary, we need to leave it there (though no longer bonded by it or feeling a need to fulfill it) so that it can serve as a yardstick to gauge if we have indeed ‘exceeded’ in righteousness. Otherwise, how do we exceed something that no longer exists?
I believe in the power of God’s grace, but only to the point where it has granted us access to His presence and forgiveness of sins. We still need to take an active step to receive and benefit from what Christ has done.
That’s my idea of a ‘balanced’ view, and hopefully we can all agree to disagree on this. Afterall, we’re worshipping the same God who loves us all the same!
(Sorry I know I said it’ll be short… but you know as well as I do that hardly happens when you start talking about God!)
Trust you dont mind if I butt in.
You said:”So what should our stance today be? I believe we should do as Jesus says. We should EXCEED the Mosaic righteousness and start fulfilling righteousness in the Spirit by faith through grace. Note that He did not say it’s a different form of righteousness, but simply a higher form.”
I think the scriptures tells us about a righteousness that is not from/of us but of God. I will just qoute some verses from Romans for you.
1) Paul speaks of a “righteousness from God” in the gospel:
Rom 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
2)He explains that this righteousness is apart from the Law, foretold by the prophets and comes thru faith in Jesus:
Roms 3:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by
3)He goes on to argue that this righteousness is a gift thru faith in Him:
Rom 4: 4Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.
Well, how do we know our righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees? Because it is the rigtheousness of Christ credited to us through faith in His finished work on the cross.
But more than that:
2Cor 5:21 21God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
Thanks for butting in… we’re all here to learn more about God and how to live a life more pleasing to Him!
With regards to the few verses from Romans, I do not deny that there is a righteousness from God, and it refers to the righteousness by faith in the works of Jesus Christ. This is the same righteousness that God has given us through His grace in Christ’s fulfillment of the Law. Like you, I believe that to be true.
For the second verse you mentioned, was there a misquote or is it the same verse as the first? Because Rom 3:16 says “Destruction and misery are in their ways” and I don’t think this was the verse you’re referring to.
If it is indeed the same verse, then I do not see how it explains that this righteousness is “apart from the Law” as you mentioned. In fact, what was foretold by the prophets and has come through faith in Jesus is the fulfillment of the Laws by faith through grace (to which I fully agree) and the remission of sins by His blood (which previously could only be atoned through keeping the Laws and the making of sacrifices at the Temple).
So yes, by faith in His grace, we no longer need to offer sacrifices at some church for our sins because that has already been done for us. We are no longer under the bondage of the Law (and its consequences) because we have been set free from the Law by the Righteousness of God, made available to us through His grace and our faith in Jesus Christ.
Now what Christ did for us (for good) was to fulfill what only the High Priests could accomplish only once a year, ie prepare and sanctify themselves thoroughly before entering the Holy of Holies into the presence of God.
What this means for us today (among other things): 1) we can enter into God’s presence anytime we want, 2) we no longer need to go through the long process of sanctification and atonement of sins (through animal sacrifice) in order to stand righteous before God.
This however, does not mean that after the veil was torn, the Holy Place, the Outer Courts and indeed the rest of the whole world suddenly became a great big Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies is still where it is and we still need to make a conscious effort to seek Him before we can enter in.
Having said that, the conscious effort we make(what some would call ‘works’) is not to justify our righteousness before God because we believe by faith that has already been taken care of by His grace (as you rightly mentioned through 2 Cor 5:21).
That conscious effort we make is to enter into His presence. It is to know more of who He is and learn and grow as a Christian.
You are right. There was a mistake in the cutting and pasting.
2) Should read as:
Rom 3:21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Will respond to you later on the other points or wait for others to respond to you.
The Law is not meant to be a code of conduct, a guide to how to lead our lives after we received Christ.
The Law is a system by which one attains righteousness before God if it is followed. Failure to comply results in death.
Of course God knows man is not able to attain righteousness through this system. This is why He made a way out for man through the institution of animal sacrifices. Blood has to be shed for forgiveness of sins.
However, the blood of bulls and goats cannot compare to the blood of the Son of God.
For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
Hence, God replaced the system of Law with the system of Christ for man to attain righteousness.
11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
How then shall we live out our Christian walk?
There is no need to worry about sin or sinning:
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Under grace, the Holy Spirit will be our guide:
15 But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,”[c] 17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
v16 says the Lord himself will write His laws (not THE LAW)into our hearts and minds.
That means the Holy Spirit will plant the Lord’s desires into our hearts, we will WANT to (not HAVE to) do those things that are pleasing to the Lord.
Isn’t better to flow with the Holy Spirit?
Thanks for your response. I totally agree with you, especially on the part on how Christians today should seek (even more now than ever) the Holy Spirit and do His will, the same way Jesus did the will of the Father when He walked among men!
However, let us not forget that receiving His grace also comes with its “conditions”. Let’s continue from the verses you quoted above (Heb 10:19-29) for a fuller picture:
“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
“For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.
“Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?”
A few things to note from these verses:
1. The blood of Christ gives us the assurance of our forgiveness of sins and of our new righteousness in God (ie, the “full assurance of faith…”).
2. This in turn gives us the “boldness” to enter the presence of God. Note that it did not say that Christ’s work brought us into God’s presence without us doing anything. In fact, it very strongly implies that we still need to play a part in entering God’s presence, as evidenced in the several exhortations further in the passage. Why would Paul say “Let us (do this and that)” if we had already entered His presence by grace and do not need to do anything more to “help God”?
3. We are asked (among other things) to “draw near” to God. This refers to an active seeking of God and His holiness in our daily lives, and that I believe, includes challenging areas in our lives that are sinful to God.
4. We are called to “stir up love and good works”. Of course, these works are not done to gain salvation, but to SHOW how salvation by grace has changed our lives to become better people. This is in line with becoming the salt of the earth and light of the world. And yes, you are right: the best (in fact, the only) way to do that is to learn to flow with the Holy Spirit.
5. Paul warns those who have accepted His salvation through grace and yet continues to “willfully” live a life of sin that there shall be no more sacrifice for their sins. In other words, such people, though previously saved by His grace, can still lose his salvation through their willful, sinful lifestyles because there is nothing more that can redeem their sins. These people are clearly told to expect “judgment and fiery indignation”!
God’s grace brought us salvation, yes, but He did not say we will never lose it even if we abuse this gift of grace to live our lives any way we want.
I refer to point no.5 – “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.”
I differ in the interpretation of the above verse. The context of Hebrews 10 is the revealing of the truth of Christ’s sacrifice for sins once for all to the Jews (i.e. Hebrews).
What “sin willfully” means here is that after the Jews have received the knowledge of the truth of Christ’s sacrifice, they still reject this truth and stick to the animal sacrifices under the Law. By doing so, they are then sinning willfully.
Since Christ is the once for all sacrifice, the animal sacrifices cannot save them (” there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins”), what they can look forward to will then only be “a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.”
Hebrews 10:12-14 (Amplified Bible)
12Whereas this One [Christ], after He had offered a single sacrifice for our sins [that shall avail] for all time, sat down at the right hand of God,
13Then to wait until His enemies should be made a stool beneath His feet.(C)
14For by a single offering He has forever completely cleansed and perfected those who are consecrated and made holy.
The above passage states very clearly that Christ’s sacrifice for our sins shall avail FOR ALL TIME, and that He has FOREVER COMPLETELY CLEANSED and perfected those who are consecrated and made holy.
This very clearly shows that we will never lose our salvation.
If we are truly under grace, then there is no fear of this grace being abused because:
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
I don’t think we should try to balance the indicative and the imperative.That we should try to balance the root and the fruit.
When we abide in Christ (Vine or root) the fruit will bear.
The Christian life is not about balancing the indicative and imperative.It’s about living the Christ life.
Gal 2:20 ,Col 3:4,Phil 1:21, 1 Jn 5:12
To live is Christ not to live like Christ.
We just let Christ live in and through us by His Spirit.Heb 8:11
We are to walk in His love and let His Spirit lead us.
Paul emphasizes our identity in Christ first in his epistles.
Then he gives us guidelines,instructions (fruit) of our abiding and knowing our identity.
These are not principles we live by.We live by His life.But these are manifestation or evidence of the Christ living in us.
This post’s title may be “Balancing the Indicative and the Imperative” but as I wrote:
The Bible contains both the indicatives and the imperatives. Preachers ought to preach both – not just one or the other. But I believe the important thing is not just to preach both in any way, but to clearly bring out the proper relationship between the two.
Some churches preach only imperatives and seldom mention the indicatives. New Creation tends to go the opposite direction and preach only the indicatives without also preaching the “guidelines, instructions”. It’s not an either-or thing. Paul preached both. But he also preached it in the right way, and that is extremely important. His imperatives were indicative-driven, so to speak. They were gospel-driven imperatives. Our call to “do” is driven/empowered by God’s great love for us in Christ. We live for God and love Him and others because He first loved us. We are inspired and motivated to give our all for Him, because He has already given His all for us in Christ.
While we let Christ live in and through us, we also heed the call and exhortation throughout the New Testament to live and be LIKE Christ – 1 Corinthians 11:1 (“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ”), Philippians 2:5 (“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus”). But of course in our imitation of Christ and His life and love, we draw strength from Him. That strength is in knowing He lives in us and that He loves us. We strive to follow Christ’s example and imitate His attitude of humility in response to God’s gracious and everlasting love to us in Christ Jesus. The former (seeking to imitate Christ) is empowered by the latter (understanding and receiving God’s grace in Christ). That is to say, the imperatives are empowered by the indicatives.
Paul expresses this indicative-imperative relationship beautifully in Ephesians when in the first 3 chapters he talks about who we are in Christ. Chapters 4-6 contains a lot of imperatives – that is, what we Christians should do. But it’s not simply a “you should do this or that” thing. Surely what he says about what we should do is totally based on his first 3 chapters of who we are in Christ. That is to say, the imperatives ought to be sustained and empowered by the indicatives. That is, Paul’s message is, “As Christians, do this and that in view of the fact that God has loved you and accepted you and blessed you in Christ”.
So I do believe there are principles we ought to live by. The are principles by the dozens or hundreds in the New Testament. We may not like to use the term “principles”. We can call it whatever we want, but there are lots of imperatives and “do” passages in the New Testament that serve as guidelines for us to follow as Christians. We aren’t saved by them. But we are called to live by them. And, as I think I’ve made abundantly clear above, this call is to live by them in response to what Christ has already done for us.
I totally agree with the way you laid out the relationship between the indicatives and the imperatives.
I also agree with your assessment that “New Creation tends to go the opposite direction and preach only the indicatives without also preaching the “guidelines, instructions” BUT allow me to put this in perspective.
Pastor Prince really started preaching the grace gospel (it should be THE GOSPEL but i label it grace gospel to differentiate from the mixed gospel that many churches are preaching today) only in 1998 and that was when NCC started to grow in numbers.
I first attended NCC in Oct 2003 when the average weekly attendance then (if I remember correctly) was about 10,000 but now in Oct 2008, it is about 18,000.
This is a near doubling of the church within 5 years and this means that there are still many people in NCC who are not very grounded in the grace gospel.
NCC’s strong emphasis on preaching the indicatives is very important at this stage of its (NCC’s) growth. As Malcolm Loh said in his comment on your “discipleship” post:
“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.”
It is very important to have a firm foundation in the indicatives to prepare for the imperatives.
Ephesians 4:11-14 (NLT)
1 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.
When we listen to preaching on the imperatives without a firm foundation on the indicatives, there is a danger that we get carried away following the imperatives – just concentrating on the doing and losing track of why we are doing.
I also believe NCC has been given the mission of indicatives preaching to benefit the body of Christ.
15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
On a worldwide (or even Singapore-wide) basis, there is comparatively a lot more of imperatives preaching than indicatives preaching.
There are many Christians in Singapore who do not attend NCC but have been blessed by Pastor Prince’s sermons through cds given or lent to them. Malcolm Loh and Jeffery are good examples.
Pastor Prince’s sermons are now also broadcast on Christian channels reaching millions of families in US, Canada, Australia, Uganda where many have never heard the grace gospel. Testimonies have flowed in from all over the world from Christians whose Christian walk have been rejuvenated.
You said: “It’s not an either-or thing”. I agree with you. However, at this stage of NCC’s growth and the growth of the gospel revolution worldwide, there is a greater need for indicatives preaching. In time to come, I’m sure imperatives preaching will follow for the church to grow even more in Christ.
Even without the emphasis on imperatives preaching now, I firmly believe that when we focus on the root i.e. Jesus and His finished work, fruit will naturally follow.
Yes. I tend to agree with Stanley
As Pastor Prince mentioned that when we behold Christ we are transformed.2 Cor 3:18
The doing flows naturally and sometimes we are not even conscious of it.
Christ is our rule of life not principles.If we say that principles are our rule of life ,then it’s as good as any positive thinking motivational speaker.
As Pastor Prince and others like Peter Youngren preach the Word.Miracles happen even withou people trying.
Ti’s not like you have 3 steps or 5 steps to follow.
Hi Stanley, thanks for your comments. We can look at things from different perspectives and I’ve considered the perspective you’re putting for before and I’m quite sympathetic to it.
New Creation is a unique church with its constant (if not sole) focus on the indicatives (at least at the moment). This is an over-reaction towards most churches’ constant focus on the imperatives (which in turn has been an over-reaction in itself). But I do think that this over-reaction resulting in a narrow focus of solely the indicatives can be justified to large extent considering what’s being preached in the other churches. And, yes, many people have benefited from NCC’s grace preaching and have had their lives transformed in a way it wouldn’t have been if they were to attend most other churches in Singapore.
So in a sense, one can argue, as you have, that NCC’s constant/sole focus on the indicatives is to build the foundation of the Christian in grace that is lacking in most other churches. This should be followed “in time to come” by more focus on the imperatives than there is now (currently almost none), but “at this stage” their focus on the indicatives alone is probably justified. As I said, I’m very sympathetic to this view.
I think there is a place for NCC’s over-reaction resulting in the constant focus on the indicatives simply because we’re in this imperfect world. Ideally, everyone ought to preach like Paul. But in reality, that’s not so and most churches preach an unbalanced message full of imperatives that perhaps it’s justified that NCC goes in the opposite direction to so called “balance” things out.
Having said all that, I’d like to focus on this you said:
I agree with you that even without preaching the imperatives, fruit ought to follow as people understand more and more about the love and grace and beauty of Jesus and what He did. Two passages come to mind here: Romans 2:4 and Titus 2:12. In the former we learn that the goodness of God leads us to repentance and in the latter we learn that the grace of God teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness. Pastor Prince has emphasize a few times that it is the “grace of God” that teaches us to deny ungodliness. That’s indeed true. Even without preaching the imperatives, holiness and godliness ought to result as the grace of God and the goodness of God inspires and motivates us and compels us to live for God. As Jeffrey said, “The doing flows naturally and sometimes we are not even conscious of it”.
But that’s not everything that the Bible has to say on this subject. There are times when just emphasizing the indicatives without touching on the imperatives is good enough. That can result in godliness and holiness as people get transformed and taught by the grace of God. But in no way is that the whole story. Paul, the author of both passages above, clearly preached the imperatives. Therefore, in spite of what he said in those two passages, he could not mean that merely preaching the indicatives is good enough. Just taking the passage in Titus alone, there are tons of imperatives that Paul preached before and after Titus 2:12. In the beginning of chapter 3, Paul exhorts Titus to remind the people to be obedient and do good and show humility toward all men, among other things. Again, we can can call it whatever we want (we don’t have to call them “principles” or “steps”), but these are clearly “do” passages. They are clearly things that we’re told to “do”. Paul had no problem whatsoever telling Titus to tell the people to be good and obedient!
There is nothing wrong with a sermon that tells us to do this or that, as long as it also grounds our doing in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Does that mean that such imperatives are meant to be our rule of life? Of course not! Paul is definitely not saying that. And I think I’ve been quite clear in that throughout this post that I’m definitely not advocating that either.
Jeffrey, I understand what you mean by motivational preaching and preaching that advocates 3 or 5 steps. I’m no fan of that myself. And I don’t think Paul would be either. The problem with this kind of preaching is that there is no sight of the indicatives and the imperatives are not grounded in the indicatives. And in many extreme instances of such preaching, it’s even worse than that – sometimes they ground the indicatives on the imperatives, preaching that our salvation is based on how well we “do”.
Paul did not preach like that. But I don’t want to over-react against such preaching and go the opposite way and say that there’s no place whatsoever for preaching the imperatives. There is. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that one’s preaching is not as biblical as Paul’s if we expect that we can just preach the indicatives alone (and no imperatives) and everything (the fruits) will take care of itself. This totally contradicts the New Testament and Paul. As I mentioned, Paul, who was the author of both the above beautiful passages that tells us that the grace of God will lead us to producing fruits, never thought that only preaching the grace of God was good enough to see a fully fruitful Christian life. If he did, we would never see him telling us what to “do”. But he does. Obviously, he recognizes that both go together. We need both the indicatives and the imperatives grounded in the indicatives as the Christian’s diet.
The above, of course, does not mean that I think NCC’s lack of imperatives preaching at the moment is totally wrong. As I said in the beginning, I am sympathetic to the view (in fact, I would say I tend to hold such a view) that NCC is focusing on the indicatives alone right now to build a good foundation in its members. I think one can argue that that’s legitimate in view of the fact that many Christians are not well-grounded in grace as a whole and such present imbalance is perhaps justified. However, I would expect and do hope that NCC would “in time to come” include the imperatives (properly grounded in the indicatives) in their preaching.
I agree with stanly and Jeff.
I think NCC/Pasotr Prince they have a mandate of (“inductives”) to preach the gospel of grace to the body of Christ. with out compromising.
So, Let us help this man and
instead of being too critical.
God bless you.
Besides reading Pastor Prince books, I do read other books that may talk more about the imperatives.
I’m fine with that.But I disagree with a pastor who said that we have to be principle centred.
I think we should be Christ-centred.
Paul also said that he preach Christ and Him crucified.
The Gospel is the Gospel of Christ and the Gospel of grace.That’s the main message.
We human beings by our very nature we are legalistic. If we shift our focus from the pure gospel of grace, we are going to end up in to perforamnce oriented religion. befor you new condemination creeps in and all kinds of the works of flesh takes place in our lives. Hence, you go to be VERY CAREFULL when you discuss this subject. So called “balancing imperatives & inductives”
as it is there are so many people in gace-Based Churches like ( NCC) they are not fully grounded in the message of grace yet.
Right beleving produces right living.
Have come across two groups of grace believing Christians. The first group are those who are so afraid of law and performance that they constantly walk around aware of everything that might even remotely elude to law or performance. Even encouragement is misunderstood for “telling them to perform”. The other group are those who truly understand grace, they live in such revelation of it that there is no way that they are going to go back under law or be placed under performance based living. This is the place in which we need to bring Gods people, that they would “grow in their knowledge of grace” and not live “afraid ” of law.
What happens is that the word “works” is often misunderstood for “performance to please” or “human effort”. “works” is not a swearword if we understand grace. The bible speaks of us doing the “works of Christ” and “the Good works that have been set out in advance for us to do”. This is not at all motivation under pressure to perform but it is rather a natural reaction of a life lived in grace and most importantly with The Holy Spirit. He is in us and He is manifesting the life of Jesus through us, hence “the works of Christ”. There is a natural activation that takes place when we surrender to the Holy Spirit, we can only surrender to the Holy Spirit when we live in a revelation of grace.
Let me just say that there is at times a “sofa-sitting” stage that some believers go through when they first begin to be liberated from performance, human effort and law( not all believers go through this stage but only a small few- that I have seen anyway). This is the stage where they sit around and say “we don’t have to do anything because we are under grace”, this statement is true because we don’t ‘have to’ do anything, the reality is that they have not yet grown in grace into a place where the ‘have to’ changes to a ‘want to’. The ‘want to’ stage comes as we mature in grace ( most people I have met, including myself, went straight to this stage). The problem comes when they never get to this stage and they stay critical of everything that is encouragement. Some people even make grace a law and beat each other up with it, you have to always watch what you say around them and as a leader you can never encourage them because you are quickly accused of placing them under law. The only way to get them to mature is to continue to preach true grace to them. I had a guy here under my leadership who was like this, he came out of a very legalistic backround and started to hear us preach on grace and he got set free to some measure ( because he was afraid of law now he wasn’t truly free). he would question anything and every encouragement was placing performance on him. I just kept teaching him grace and eventually before long he got it and now he is flying.
When we live in maturity of grace we can not go back under law and so we do not live afraid. Even if I visit a church and the preacher starts to preach a strong mixture of law and grace, he starts to place heavy guilt driven motivation to give to the poor ( if you love Jesus you should be giving to the poor etc ) and then he takes up an offering for a poor community somewhere, I will happily give because I will myself be giving under grace and would want to give to the poor because I live in a revelation of Gods love, I don’t agree with the way it was done by the preacher but it does not have effect on me,I don’t have to give but I want to give, I know who I am and I will give out of that place ( I hope everyone understands what I’m trying to get across, I just used giving to the poor as and example). This goes with every area of our lives, while the ultimate need might be correct, the way in which it is presented is based on human effort and striving to perform and earn, but we will not be brought under that kind of living because we are truly free and no person can take that away. We meet the need (eg: pray for the sick, giving to the poor etc ) out of a place of our revelation of who we are in God and not out of motivation from the preacher. We don’t throw our hands in the air and say ” no, I’m not giving, this guy is trying to place law on me” thats immature thinking, why should we let ourselves be effected by legalistic people.
If people are walking afraid of law then they are not truly understanding their freedom. We need to keep preaching grace to them so that they can come to a mature understanding of it and not live in fear of going back under law or performance and human effort.
I attended NCC for about 12 months and listened to many Pastor’s Prince tapes. As long as messages that exalt Christ, I praise God for it.
It is great to see a church that put the centrality of Christ and His Works as the core foundation for its teachings. For this, they are certainly moving in the right direction.
On the other hand, let me list down some of the things which I feel not comfortable and hope to hear comments on the following:
o Is it true that Christians who has faith does not suffer sickness and will always be prosperous? It is preached that we are the the “Benjamin Generation” and God will transfer the wealth of the heathen to us. Such a message cater to those who are successful. What about those who are poor? Will they fit into the church? Will they feel that there is something wrong in our lives if we are not prosperous and totally healthy. If all Christians are of the “Benjamin” generation, then the richest men in the world should be Christians. Unfortunately I do not think people like Bill Gates nor Warren Buffet are Christians. Worst, some of the riches men are those who are criminals dealing with drugs, sins and gangs.
o Paul went through sicknesses, persecution, and sufferings. Do it mean that Paul did not understand the meaning of salvation or “soteria ” in GK which means provision, health and forgiveness of sins? When asked about the early Christians martyrs and sufferings, I was told blatantly that they lacked revelation of the Grace of God!
o On some testimonies, I heard of one who won a lottery and praise God for it. Another got an instant few hundred thousands dollars added to her bank account and she praised God for it. My worry is that people are indirectly encouraged to gamble. On the latter case, I wonder what will happen to the bank employee who made the mistake of transferring the money to her? It is bordering on the line of dishonesty not to straightened up with the bank if we get such a sudden windfall? Someone is probably getting fired for the mistake. It is bordering on selfishness and greed.
o Such prosperity teachings are very common in USA. It is also common in NCC, people talked about being a millionaire, havingbig houses, Porche and Lambogini. Many “confess” and “claim” it for themselves. Pastor Prince himself bought a BMW 7 series because he wanted to show to the congregation that God is blessing him. It is a lot of focus on self than Christ. There are many abuses in the “prosperity” churches in America where pastors get $18m house, multiple super luxurious cars, jet plane that runs $15000 expenses a day and making less than 10 trips a year – many a times for private vacation. Personally, I know a big time healer who refused to ride on a Toyota because my friend’s Mercedes was sent to repair on that day when they went to fetch him from the airport in Singapore! And much of the money are from middle class earners, some from some poor single parents and blue collar workers. I sincerely hope that NCC will not fall into this trap. On many counts, the signs are that they are moving in this direction. It will be nice if NCC can be fully transparent in its account that just depends on auditors. If not, it is a matter of time money will corrupt. Auditors are not fool proof. Do we know that Enron and Worldcom also had top class auditors for their accounts?
o Seldom people talk about their negatives and sicknesses. It is once claimed by Ps Prince that he had not seen anyone died prematurely in a big church like NCC. If it is true, I praise God for it. If it is not, it is just pure bias or even dishonesty to recognize that sicknesses and death are part of us living in this world?
o What about our fellow Christians India, Iran, China and Iraq suffering persecutions, discrimination and poverty because they stand for Christ? Are we to say that they do not have God’s full “soteria” or blessings? Also, are they lacking certain revelations?
o I believe the imperatives are taught by Paul extensively even though his teachings are strongly based on a foundation of indicatives. What I see in NCC is the teachings on all the positives without recognizing many parts of the Bible which mentioned the imperatives. I believe the imperatives are taught because we still need to deal with the flesh and the indicatives are taught to feed on the Spirit. To align with the way Paul teaches, a one sided focus on the indicatives is not balance and not enough.
In summary, I think it is great that NCC is bringing Centrality of Christ back to the church. I fully agree that many churches focuses too much on the imperatives. It is refreshing to see a church that focuses so much on the centrality of Christ and His Works. At the same time, I am concerned that there is too much focus on wealth and also a lack of teachings for some to cope with sufferings and sicknesses. Many times, persecutions, sufferings and sickness are dismissed because if you are experiencing the Grace of God, it should not be there. Many people in NCC find it hard to to cope when they truly face with sicknesses, poverty and sufferings resulting in some leaving the church. It is also a church that caters to the middle class and the rich. For example, a sweeper or taxi driver will find it very hard to fit into the church.
Hope to hear some comments on the above.
I read with great interest on Alana and Paul’s thoughts above. I cannot agree more with what they have voiced.
My feelings are that the indicatives and imperatives should be taught by all churches; as this is the balanced gospel. In addition the relationship between the indicatives and the imperatives should not be discounted because they form the basis of our Christian walk and life.
In an earlier discussion with stillhaventfound (under the Tabernacle heading), it was highlighted that we both agreed that the teachings of NCC is unbalanced. Like him, I recognised that perhaps the concentration solely on indicatives was an over-reaction to the churches that over emphasised a distorted law and discipleship obedience teaching. However, having recognised this, I cannot use it as an excuse to justify the fact that the leadership of the church would submit to a one sided UNBALANCED teaching. To me, this is basically a sub-standard gospel. Let me clarify.
A friend of mine was a missionary in Russia for 2 years. On arrival at this small town, he took over from the local minister with a congregation of 20 people. He subsequently found out that 9 months previously, an American missionary had arrived and held an evangelistic crusade where 10000 people were present and 80% of them gave their lives to Christ.
He was very puzzled as to why the church remained at 20 people when there should be 8000 new converts floating around. So he did a little investigative work and asked a few of the town residence about the rally.
What he found out was that the preacher had preached a powerful message of health, wealth and prosperity and that Jesus was the answer. He asked if anyone would like to be prosperous and healthy and wealthy to step forward, accept Jesus and be a Christian. Naturally, 80% stepped forward because they wanted to be healthy. Subsequently, the American missionary left, and the people carried on their normal lives not knowing what they just did.
I write this story to highlight the dangers of promoting an unbalanced one sided gospel. When preached, indicatives and imperatives should go hand in hand and the relationship realised.
But we have to establish ourselves in the indicatives first before we can progress to the imperatives.(we can ask diatribically)
I say that NCC is fast growing and people and new converts keep coming. There will never be a time where the equilllibrium is reached such that all the congregation would be rooted in the indicatives. In addition, with a formula of a one sided gospel resulting in exponential growth… why change?
NCC I believe has a lot of word faith teachings. I would classify them as a 2nd generation word faith church with a concise and accurate understanding of grace theology but in an extreme package.
2nd generation… because they have unpacked and reconstructed the teachings of Hagin and Copeland. NO more are the blatant Oral Roberts statements of GIVE US MONEY AND YOU WILL PROSPER. Instead it is recognised that such direct means have a negative effect on our current generation. The fact that they don’t have a small “word of encouragement minin sermon” before the offering does not discount its word faith heritage. NCC still believe in the tenets of positive confession, King’s kids rule, material prosperity and health. What i am saying is that, it is word faith in principles to the core but not blatant outwardly.
I leave you with a quote from Joseph Prince’s sermon ” See the Father’s love for you” (this is NOT taken out of context)
“Afraid of Flying? The Plane cannot go down because you are there. It is not biblical for people to say that there is a time for everything including dying.No!
YOU decide how long you want to live. It is in the Bible.When you raise your hands to worship God, you add years (maybe 5 months) to your life. When you go to church, years are added to your life….”
Correct me, but this sounds like word-faith in an extreme package.
Having said all this, let me re-iterate, that I am not one to throw out the baby with the bath water. There are many good things we can learn from NCC but we should all be aware of some of the shallow theology which NCC promotes. This does not discount any of the the good theology NCC promotes.
Be eager to hear responses.
Excellent post. Some insightful thoughts which I hope to comment on in future. Hope to read more of your comments in future. Cheers!
Interesting comments.I would say that NCC teachings have greatly tranformed me because of preaching Christ and His finished work.
I don’t agree 100% of Pastor Prince’s teaching and I don’t have all the answers.
But I do know what God’s promises are in the Bible and I believe it’s for us to have.
I know Paul had an infirmity.But I also know that he didn’t die of an illness.He was martyred.
The Gospel of grace is spreading around the world and people like Joseph Prince,Peter Youngren,Steve Mcvey etc are impacting many churches.Even Hillsong UK and Australia are radically revolutionized.
God uses imperfect people but we need to recognize them.We can take the meat and throw the bones.Study the Bible for ourselves like the Bereans.
Paul wrote: “Many people in NCC find it hard to to cope when they truly face with sicknesses, poverty and sufferings resulting in some leaving the church. It is also a church that caters to the middle class and the rich. For example, a sweeper or taxi driver will find it very hard to fit into the church.”
I am a graduate, used to work for a local bank but I am now a hawker. I have incurred debts and still paying them off even now due to my “playing the stock market” in 1997.
Going by Paul’s classification, I should find it hard to fit into NCC as I am neither middle-class nor rich and I am a hawker.
However, I have been attending NCC since 2003 and loving every minute of it. I used to suffer from gastric attacks twice a month and had been to the A&E Dept several times due to the severe pain. After learning the proper teaching on healing and divine health from NCC, I am happy to say that I have not suffered any gastric attacks for the last 5 years.
I still do fall sick now and then. I do take medication for those illnesses but my faith is not in the medication; my faith is in Jesus, the Healer because by His stripes, I am healed.
I am still paying off my debts but I still believe “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”(2 Cor 8:9)
The Word is true even if my life at present is not reflecting it but I believe my life will line up with the truth sooner rather than later.
Just being a Christian doesn’t mean that blessings will automatically rain down on you. You need to know the truth that sets you free (John 8:32).
On a personal basis, the most radical thing that NCC has taught me is to have a good opinion of God. Once I have that, I am able to see and interpret the verses in a different light.
I know that God is for me, and that helps me to cope when “faced with sicknesses, poverty and sufferings”.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Just on this note of NCC catering mostly to the middle class and the rich, I don’t think this is just a problem for NCC but that’s true of almost every church in Singapore – especially the Methodist churches (at least the English-speaking congregations) – and most churches in the developed world (maybe also the developing world) and that’s sad.
A lot of this is a result of plain neglect of the poor and the cause of this neglect has a lot to do with a cultural divide (most of us cannot understand the poor, can’t relate to them and also don’t bother to relate to them as it just takes too much effort and time), besides plain disobedience.
So this is a problem not only of NCC, but I think the problem of most churches around the world. We do not really know what it means to love the poor and share our material possessions with them, as the early church sought to do. We’re still about building our own Kingdom, not God’s. Many churches talk about “blessed to be a blessing” but in reality we’re all still far away from what we should be doing for the poor and the lost.
On a more positive note, while I’m sure there are other churches doing their bit in reaching out to the lower-class and Chinese-educated in Singapore, I’ve been particularly impressed by City Harvest Church. I see people there one will never expect to see in New Creation and other churches. And I think CHC is doing a marvellous job in this area.
What about NCC Chinese Church… are they middle classy or the poorer lot in Singapore. I suppose in Singapore, you dont have slums and hence no “below poverty line” people.
I’ve never attended NCC’s Chinese congregation but I would think it’s no different from other Chinese churches/congregations – maybe a bit more well-off, but I wouldn’t be sure.
Haha… Yes, a recent report of Singapore having no slums is probably true to a certain extent. That’s because we are a small country and can easily channel most of the poorer Singaporeans to cheap accommodation. However, I would think that a lot of our foreign workers live in slum-like conditions within buildings. While poverty here is not as noticeable as it is in other countries, there are many poor people in Singapore no doubt, as in all countries.
There are many legalistic churches around which are very introspective. One is encouraged to be contrite. To be poor and simple is good. To some extreme, some are made to doubt whether their sins are really forgiven. You need to confess your sins in real time.
All these teachings certainly dilute and undermine the Work on the Cross. Instead of living a life of celebration and victory, they continue to live a life of defeat and fear of an angry God. Worst still, it casts doubts on some basic attributes of God namely love, goodness and faithfulness.
I guess some of the members in NCC over reacted to the other extremes. “Good Works” are deemed mixture of law and grace and it is a curse. These are swear words to some. There is a refusal to recognize that we still need to deal with the flesh in us although we are completely transformed in the Spirit. There is denial of faithful Christians today who will still suffer sickness, poverty and persecutions.
I am struggling with issues of people whom God has not answered their desires despite their “faith”. I am sure there are many cases whether Christians prayed, believed, confessed, claimed, took holy communion multiple times a day and yet their loved ones did prematurely or they did not see a breakthrough in their lives. These are issues that are not discussed with ease in NCC. A negative effect is that some may begin to blame themselves for lack of faith or asking God why they are singled out with all these mishaps where others are enjoying the blessings. They asked whether it is something wrong with the lives where in actuality nothing is really wrong.
I know another case where a woman business was facing cash flow problems. But she was encouraged to give generously out of faith so that God can bless her business multiple folds. She took her remaining cash and gave it to the church believing that God will supernaturally turn her business around. It did not happened. She went bankrupt and almost committed suicide. This was a true case in NCC.
Also, the case of Christians suffering persecution, sickness, poverty and even death because of their faith, are they not living correctly because they have not learned to claim on the favor of God? Are these people who are more willing than any of us to stand for their faith not receiving the blessings from God?
As for Stanley, thank God it is working out for him. It is important to have a good opinion of God. Despite all the weaknesses I have pointed out, if you ask me to attend a church that preaches positively on the Goodness of God and another church that teaches suffering, sicknesses and poverty, I will choose the former. We need to preach the gospel as “too good to be true” good news than some mixtures of good and bad news. It is important to remember that God wants you well. It is important to have a good opinion of God. It is important that we fully trust what Christ had done for us in our lives. As to why things may not turn out well at times, I just put my full trust in Him that He will in His providence works all things for good. I like what Stanley said ” I know God is for me!”.
I am just pointing out that a more balance approach will be useful and it is in line with the way Paul taught in his epistles. By going radical, we run the risk of distorting the Bible to fit into our needs.
Listening to Pastor Prince’s messages, I realize that one needs a certain level of intellect (as well as the Holy Spirit) to understand the deep truths that he is sharing.
However, Pastor Mark (who is leading NCC’s Chinese congregation) has God’s anointing to share the truths that Pastor Prince is preaching with the lower educated in a simple and clear way.
There are a lot of people from the older generation who are either Chinese educated or not well educated attending and greatly blessed by the NCC Chinese/Hokkien services. I myself have also watched a number of Pastor Mark’s sermon dvds.
My mum brought a friend to NCC to listen to Pastor Prince and she struggled to understand the messages. Later, she switched to the Chinese services and was greatly blessed by the sermons. After some time, she grasped the grace message and hungered for deeper learning; so she now attends the 11.30am English service after attending the 9.00am Chinese one!
NCC also has a community services ministry. The Solid Rock magazine has regular reports of the charitable works done by this ministry.
NCC had also donated a lot of money (amounting to millions) to help the victims of the asian tsunami disaster. I remember that one particular Sunday, Pastor Prince decided to set aside ALL the offerings collected on that day solely for the tsunami charity effort.
Besides just donating money, NCC also built an orphanage in Thailand to give children orphaned as a result of the tsunami disaster a home.
More recently, NCC also donated (I think it is $100,000 if I remember correctly) to the Sichuan earthquake relief effort. NCC has even donated to a Malay organisation to help their community. NCC was also the top donor to the Singapore School Pocket Money Fund.
NCC does not publicize its charity works, so maybe it gives the impression that it is not doing much but if the amounts it has donated are tallied up, it will show that NCC has given away more than many other churches combined.
Those are some good points regarding grace and also about healing/prosperity. Regarding the latter, there is a need to deal with such true cases and not ignore them. There are positive and wonderful testimonies, and yet there are many negative ones too which may not be so well-known (as in the case you described) and yet still ought to be discussed. This is the problem with Faith churches and even those that focus on healing: the positive testimonies are spread, but the negative ones are glossed over or ignored. I understand the need to keep the faith, focus on the positive aspects and believe in whatever His Word says rather than look to our experience. However, critics latch onto the negatives and become critical about anything to do with healing and prosperity. That’s not the answer either.
I’ve generally avoided dealing with these issues (healing and some aspects of prosperity) on this blog because I’m still searching and I don’t have a clear conviction on these matters either.
I am certainly one who believes in the blessings, favor and grace of God. I believe in miracles and have experienced it personally in my life. My problem is why it is not a consistent event. I am sure there are spiritual laws and mystery I cannot understand now.
I am a supporter of NCC teachings on the centrality of Christ and the importance of His Works. I believe that our Christian life begins now not when we get to Heaven. It is a life of blessings, peace, joy, favor and experiencing the goodness of God.
But I have personally met NCC members who truly believes that Christian must be prosperous and healthy to show God’s blessings. It is an insult to those who are suffering for our faith.
If NCC can take a more balance approach to the issues of healing, prosperity and focus fully on Christ, it will definitely shut up many critics.
Paul… I appreciate all of your comments and totally and thoroughly agree with you.
With regards to miracles and unanswered prayer, an excellent book which I have read is:
Jerry Sitser, When God Doesn’t Answer Your Prayer (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004)
A powerful book based on the personal tragedies and experiences of Sitser. A christian theologian.
Throughout the Bible we see God uses imperfect people like Abraham,Jacob,David,Peter etc.
We see God’s favour and approval on Pastor Prince.The Lord has anointed him for such a time as this.Besides the other great great men and women of God around the world.
Are we smarter than God? Rather than being critical, I’ve decided to take whatever food is good for my soul.
I will not compromise my belief that God wants me to prosper and be in health even as my soul prospers.But I will not say that those who are not experiencing good health have no faith.In fact,Jesus is our FAITH.
As Steve Mcvey said,the Gospel revolution is a love revolution.Inspite of our different opinions,we are after all brothers nd sisters in Christ !
Thank you for your thoughts. I am WITH you in not compromising my belief that God wants me to prosper and be in health even as my soul prospers. By saying “soul prospers”, I take it you mean having a continuing working relationship with God, loving him and showing that you love him by OBEYING his commands and doing GOOD WORKS.
My definition of faith is to persevere in God, knowing that he is love and that all his character traits are good. Knowing that he will come through for me whether things are going well for me or going badly; and to trust that whatever situation, God will be by my side.
you said …” I don’t agree 100% of Pastor Prince’s teaching and I don’t have all the answers.
But I do know what God’s promises are in the Bible and I believe it’s for us to have.”
My QUESTION is… if you don’t agree 100% with Pastor Prince, what are aspects that you don’t believe in?
I believe that healing was released for us and is freely available for us through God’s grace and sovereignty.
I am a little puzzled by Stanley’s statement
“However, I have been attending NCC since 2003 and loving every minute of it. I used to suffer from gastric attacks twice a month and had been to the A&E Dept several times due to the severe pain. After learning the proper teaching on healing and divine health from NCC, I am happy to say that I have not suffered any gastric attacks for the last 5 years.”
If God’s healing is available to all us children of God, why then do we have to resort to GNOSTIC measures like health through holy communion, and perform certain mantras to get access to healing? Don’t we have direct access to God himself for healing through prayer?
Interested to hear your thoughts.
I was reading with interest many good articles that were posted and would like to share some of my thoughts.
Righteousness of God is Christ Jesus Himself, came personally from Heaven and is now in all the believer of Christ, so that we can reign in life (Rom 5:17-18).
So when we are in Christ, we are the Righteousness of God in Christ, as the living epistle to all men (2Cr 3:2-3).
While it the the will of God that, as the Righteousness of God in Christ, we reign in life (Rom 5:17), we are also free to choose, on the degree and extent of that reign, depending on how our heart perceive His power and willingness. One thing for sure, my God promised that He will supply all my need according to His riches (Phl 4:19).
It is the will of God that we live on the earth the Kingdom life, as Christ is in heaven as we are in Christ (Mat 6:10). For me, the heaven that I been told so far is one that has no sickness and lack.
Even when the Spirit of God was at work in a evangelical crusade, and it was God’s will that none shall perish (Mat 18:14), not all were saved.
As the natural decent of Adam, whom has partaken the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, we are naturally “law abiding”, i.e. without the constant washing by the Holy Spirit (Jhn 13:8) through the hearing of the word of Christ (Rom 10:17), we will natural fall back to our natural (carnal) self-effort to do good, and fall under the curse (Gal 3:10) with our works of the law.
As for the Holy Communion, we must not just do it as a ritual but do it to proclaim Christ’s death on the cross, we are commanded by Christ to do it as often until His return (1 Cr 11:24-30), so that you will not be weak, sick or dead before your time. As for me, I want to live a strong, healthy long life for the glory of Christ, how about you?
Greatly blessed, highly favored and deeply loved
Hi Meeple 1,
I don’t like to major on the minor,so I wouldn’t want to comment on the minor issues that I may disagree with Pastor Prince.There’s a whole lot that are agree with him about.
My personal opinion, and I’m sure alot will agree is that he’s a great Bible teacher.The interesting thing is that NCC keep cropping up in this blog.
Jesus and Paul was also very controversial.What’s more important is talking about issues that will benefit others,rather than argue for the sake of arguement.
You wrote: “If God’s healing is available to all us children of God, why then do we have to resort to GNOSTIC measures like health through holy communion, and perform certain mantras to get access to healing? Don’t we have direct access to God himself for healing through prayer?”
I did not perform any mantras and I disagree that the Holy Communion is a GNOSTIC measure.
When I take the Holy Communion, it reminds me of what Jesus has done for me.
1Cor 11:23-25 (NLT)
23 For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread 24 and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you.[a] Do this to remember me.” 25 In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.”
Jesus’ body was broken so that mine is whole. Jesus bore our sicknesses so that we can be healthy.
16 That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil spirits with a simple command, and he healed all the sick. 17 This fulfilled the word of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, who said,
“He took our sicknesses
and removed our diseases.”
When I take the Holy Communion, I do not do it as a ritual. I honour the body of Christ, I remember that by His stripes I am healed.
1 Cor 11:29-30 (NLT)
29 For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ,[c] you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died.
Isaiah 53:4-5 (Amplified Bible)
4Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy].(B)
5But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.
The Holy Communion is all about remembering Jesus and what He has accomplished for us on the cross. IT IS NOT A GNOSTIC MEASURE.
When you know the truth of the Holy Communion, the truth shall set you free.
(1) Agree with stlhvtfd in the observation that most Christians throughout Sgp are middle-upper class English-educated.
NCC English-service is not alone in this demography.
Also want to reiterate what’s been pointed out by some that NCC Hokkien service is doing a great job of reaching out to ‘heartlanders’. Mandarin-speaking Chinese-educated ones tend to be at least middle-class & up, but the Hokkien-speaking ones are in lower socioeconomic group.
I praise God for raising up such a one as Ps Mark who is so gifted in reaching out to those at the ‘fringe’ of Christianity in Sgp.
I also want to say that when Ps Lawerence Khong started preaching in Mandarin some years back, FCBC was probably the first of the megachurches to break into the ‘heartlands’. I don’t know much about CHC so I can’t comment, but praise God they’re doing a good work amongst the poor.
I also want to say that perhaps Sgp has a dearth of preachers anointed in preaching about Christian sufferings probably BCOS there really isn’t much Christian suffering in Sgp. Same case in America.
My reasoning goes that it would be more likely that God would raise up preachers anointed in preaching about Christian suffering in places like China, Iran, Iraq etc–where Christian suffering is a daily reality.
Even if a Sgp preacher WANTS to preach about Christian suffering in Sgp, what would he KNOW about Christian suffering? And most of the Sgp congregation can’t even relate to the kind of sufferings the apostle Paul went through. Better we invite preachers from the truly suffering nations to come & preach in our churches to open our eyes.
It is perhaps TRUE that Christians in Sgp & USA (as examples) are living in the Benjamin Generation, that hasn’t broken through for every other nation yet… But as ‘Benjaminers’, we HAVE a role to play wrt our Christian brother’s sufferings in other nations and we DO have to incline our ears to hear what God is telling us to do about that.
With regards to the ‘horror story’ in NCC that reader ‘Paul’ wrote about, the woman who lost all her money & contemplated suicide, I would say that she was misled by herself and not by the teachings of NCC.
If she had talked about her problems with any of the NCC leadership or care-group I’m certain that none would have advised her to do what she did. They would have given her mature & sound advice, how to correctly apply the NCC teachings in her specific circumstance.
This is where a strong care-group structure (like in FCBC & CHC) is important. I think if NCC were to encourage members to ‘do’ anything, the first thing must be to ask them to join a care-group or some other structure of personal ACCOUNTABILITY.
I know once when Ps Prince devoted an entire sermon to encouraging members in the area of fellowship & to join a care-group, but I feel it can be done much more often. Having said that, after almost nearly EVERY service there would be ‘adverts’ encouraging congregants to join a care-group. But I think more should be said on the importance of fellowship not so much as an area of ‘obedience’, but more importantly to help ensure that members have correctly understood the messages & are correctly applying them to their lives.
Care-groups are also a place where members can serve Christian brothers & sisters in need. Care-group communities form a very good structure for members to reach out to the community as well. With active participation in care-groups perhaps what reader ‘Paul’ pointed out about those in distress feeling out-of-place in NCC can be redressed.
Regarding what reader ‘paul’ said about abuses in prosperity (aka Word-of-Faith) churches in America, I want to quote from stlhvtfd’s comment from his post on the ‘tabernacle’:–
“”… However, I would disagree with you that his (Prince’s) teachings come “packaged in an extreme package of word-faith-prosperity”. I’ve written about Word of Faith and prosperity teachings a few times in this website like here and here. While NCC does consider itself a Word of Faith church, I wouldn’t even come near the Church if it’s like your typical Word of Faith Church in America. NCC definitely does not touch on money and prosperity like extreme Word of Faith churches. And I would argue this till my death because it’s so clear if one has attended NCC over an extended period of time.
Many people who have not been to NCC and only hear a bit of NCC unfairly criticize NCC as a typical Word of Faith church that focuses on prosperity. … I’m amused when I hear some of the criticisms of NCC as a typical prosperity church because it’s so different from a typical prosperity church. I’m not just saying this because the emphasis of NCC is clearly on grace and Jesus, but even when it comes to messages and bits and pieces that touch on prosperity, NCC is poles apart from the typical Word of Faith churches.
I’ve given many examples in my blog like the fact that you don’t have a mini-sermon before offering time. Compare this with what you hear at … (another Sgp megachurch) and you’ll notice a huge and unmistakable difference. NCC doesn’t believe in “manipulating” its members to give by preaching an extended mini-sermon before offering time or by always focusing on the fact that we have to give to God before He blesses us and that if we give to God He will bless us. I haven’t watched Pastor Prince’s messages on his cable TV program, but many people say it’s so refreshing because unlike many tele-evangelists, he isn’t constantly asking for their money.
This is all in keeping with NCC’s main focus on Jesus and grace and the fact that if you’re going to give, you’ll give in response to what God has given you in Christ and there’s no need to always focus on money and either make Christians guilty for not giving or entice them to give more through promising that God would bless them.
As I mentioned here, NCC’s bookstore sells Kenneth Hagin’s “The Midas Touch” where the father of the WoF movement actually chastises and criticizes the younger generation of WoF preachers for their extreme “prosperity” teachings. I believe NCC avoids such extremities. …””
NCC is a good church. It is not a perfect church. But judging from the number of lives changed and number of souls saved every month, something good is happening. Where else can you find people queuing 45 minutes to attend a service with a sermon that lasts more than 1 hour. This is refreshing. Yes, the sermons are lively and filled with humor but it contains precious truths about the Christian life and above all it exalts Christ all the time. People do not line up this way for comedy shows. Certainly, it has impacted their lives.
I came from a church where no clapping of hands are allowed even after a testimony or special item. It was said that all glory must be given to God and clapping of hands glorify man! They believes in the cessation of miracles and charismatics is a cult! Also, everyone is supposed to be contrite and be very carefully of falling into sins all the time. You are constantly reminded to be discipline and to please God while they believe that salvation is by grace and freely given. Much of the efforts are invoking the flesh to live a Christian life which will eventually failed and even cause one to behave like the Pharisees. Holy Communion is a time of examining your sins. It can only be conducted by a ordained pastors. It is conducted in an atmosphere of fear instead of celebration. Suffering and sickness are blessings from God to make you better. This undermines the nature of God. It is interesting that if you are made so conscious of the law, you are more prone to break the law. There are lot of rules, religiosity, and traditions to follow. Given a choice, I will not go back to such a church anymore.
Also, while fellowshipping with some NCCers who are leaders in the industry in Singapore, I find many of them spiritual and willing to share the faith openly without reservation. Most of them are genuinely transformed spiritually. They exhibit a true love for Christ and is generous in their effort to spread the good news. There are little signs of selfish or self centered behaviour. I am impressed. So the idea of grounding of “indicatives” have certainly worked for NCC.
Having heard so many of Ps Prince’s CDs, I believe I can offer some constructive criticism. There is no need to be defensive. We recognize we are not perfect and hopeful those who love NCC will take these as opportunities for improvements in spreading the Good News.
o I think there is still an over emphasis on wealth. You see it in the testimonies which are questionable. In the sermons, illustrations are about striking lottery, becoming a millionaire, owning a Lamborgini etc. At one time, Ps Prince told the congregation that he needed to drive a BMW 7 series to show that God’s blessings is on him. Are these really the blessings we are seeking or we are seeking as relationship with Christ? It becomes lopsided when you think of fellow faithful Christians who are not experiencing such luxuries of expensive holidays, big cars and big houses and worst still ,suffering persecutions, sickness and forced to live in fear and property. But they also have the true blesings – a peace, joy and strength to stand for their faith and a relationship with Christ. Money is important. I believe God will bless Christians with wealth to further the gospel. But at the same time, money can corrupts if we do not know how to handle it properly. Not all Christians will be made filthy rich. If Christians are in the Benjamin generation, the riches people in this world should be all Christians.
o Regarding healing, be real. Recognize that there are some who will be sick and not healed in this earth. I do not understand the reasons why. There is no consistency in healing although real miracles do happen. If God wants everyone to be healed, it should happen more consistenctly and broadly. The reverse is true. Many healings are not even permanent. It relapsed. Some are frauds. It is God’s will to heal but why there are still people who are not healed, we cannot understand. We have not come to the stage we have understood the spiritual and physical laws operating in the arena of healing completely. So do not make exaggerated claims and make allowance for those who may not be healed. While praying for healing, we need to believe it will be done by faith. If failed, we still praise God. We need to recognize our lack of understanding on this issue. Make sure that no one is blamed especially some surfacing of guilt of one may have done something wrong ( lack of faith etc ) if he is not healed. God is able to use every circumstances to His glory even it is against His Will. There are cases of Christians who are sick and it brought tremendous encouragement and blessings to others. I am not saying God caused the sickness but He is able to turn any circumstances to His advantage.
– The taking of Holy communion can become a superstitious ritual if we are not careful. It is an act to remember what Christ had done and claimed the blessings of His Finished Work. It is a period of celebration. But many has taken it in NCC to become a magic ritual – the more times you take the more effective and higher probably of getting healed and wealthy.
– NCC has done well on giving. There is no much plea for donations or focus and yet money continues to flow into the church generously. It shows they have a congregation that give hilariously. Wish more churches are like this. Things can be improved if there are more transparency and information given especially the details on how the money are spent – staff bonuses, pastors’ salaries, gifts etc. The congregation deserves to know. It will stop any potential abuse where the probability is very high. I have seen abuses in my career in secular organization when money is not handled transparently. It is a matter of time with this kind of money they are handling. Just look at some of the leading faith-word churches in America, you will get all kinds of investigations into the tax evasion and abuses of money for the leadership lifestyle. The teachings at these churches are actually not wrong and we can learn a lot from it. Prosperity is not a dirty word for Christians.It is the application of these teaches that went wrong. Some have made the congregation their personal ATMs. Money from lower and middle class contributors are used to feed super luxurious lifestyle of the leaders. Many have turned out to be very bad testimonies to the law makers, news network and non Christians in USA. Lots of investigations ongoing on these churches. I have to say I do know some Word of Faith organization that are doing well for the Glory of God.
o There is a need to recognize those who suffered because of the need to stand for their faith especially in countries like India, Iran, China, Iraq. Something is missing when we say we are in the Benjamin Generation and they are not. Blessings is not about wealth, riches and health. I cannot understand why God allows all these things to happen and I cannot in good conscience dismiss them to say that they lacks revelations to live in health and wealth as some members of NCC believes. It is repulsive. These people are faithful, their faith are tested and their love for God is supernatural to go through all these persecutions.
o There is a need to teach imperatives to align with the style Paul taught the churches through the epistles. It is certainly not all indicatives although it is the central theme and foundation. There is a need to encourage good works among Christians. We need to subdue the flesh and feed the Spirit. Anything that tries to be radical against the general flow of the Bible will be wrong eventually. I have met members of NCC who just superficially and blatantly dismissed certain parts of the Bible when they cannot align it with the teachings of radical grace. It not controlled, it is the beginning of degeneration into heresies.
o There is a need to understand that some actions are needed also on our side and God will do the rest with His Favor, blessings and Grace.. I know of a student who did not prepare well for his exam and when he did not do well, he starts to question why the favor of God is not with him. Imagine another who does not work and expect God to supply all our needs. These are exceptions but true incidents of abuse of the Grace teachings.
o Avoid politicizing the sermons. During the election, the pulpit was used to clearly support one party. George Bush was also praised as a man of God with God’s favor but he turns out to be one of the worst presidents in USA.
I could think of a couple more but above are food for thoughts. The devil does not like what is happening. So they will be more attacks. The only way to defend is to align and stay rigorously close to the Word of God.
Healing and prosperity are promises of God, not by any man, period. I will not venture to guess why so-and-so in the church is poor and so-and-so in the church is sick, because I will not know why until perhaps one day when we in heaven we can ask God that question. Do you want to stop believing God just because another person does not seems to manifest God’s promises?
Did Apostle Paul suffer sicknesses?
I would suggest that you speak to any of the NCC leaders or even pastors, perhaps on the coming Sunday to address your questions pertaining to NCC or Ps Prince.
Greatly blessed, highly favored, deeply loved.
Hi Stillhaventfound, I guess your blog is already like a forum now haha
Talking about suffering, America and Sgp may have a different form of suffering. The apostles, early church, and those christians from china, etc may face an extreme form of suffering for the advance of the gospel.
Yes, I believe the scripture teaches about suffering, in fact it is a PROMISE that christians will suffer for Christ.
NCC is silent about this issue. In fact NCC talks about other good promises like health, wealth, protection (Though I am still learning about these promises), but just not this suffering issue.
If NCC never preach about it, does it mean that suffering is not for Christians? No, my bible says that Jesus promised persecution because you bear the name of Christ, and the world hate it. This promise is generally not popular among word of faith circles.
For those who think that I am against NCC, nope I have attended NCC regularly for a few months, and I love NCC overall for its unmixed grace message and focus on Jesus. But I am not afraid to admit that NCC does not teach “everything” about the bible. No church is perfect in its teaching, or at least I haven’t found one.
We like to emphasize on the dos (imperatives)but many times it comes from a restlessness to do something.
Like Mary we need to learn to sit at the feet of Jesus.Our works must come from rest.Could it be that we have not fully understood the message of grace and rest.Heb 4
I would like to comment on the part that you said, “Yes, I believe the scripture teaches about suffering, in fact it is a PROMISE that christians will suffer for Christ.”
I know that in many places in the bible, believers are told that they would be persecuted and suffer for the gospel, but cannot find any occasion that God promise suffering from Him for the believers.
However, Christ did warn of believers’ suffering and persecution, which is from the devil who hates Christ, and because the love of Christ in you start to transform you to manifest Christ externally.
Greatly blessed, highly favored, deeply loved
You mentioned that you are struggling with issues of people whom God has not answered their desires despite their “faith”.
This happened when believers focus on their desires and faith.
God answers all prayers from His children because we are as valuable as Christ, the only problem is that we may not like the answer and when that happened, it was perceived as ‘not answered’.
I am always astonished when someone commended that he/she does not have sufficient faith for certain prayer and would like to have someone more ‘spiritually matured’, such as a church leader, to pray with him/her.
What this meant is that some of us think that God answers prayers based on the ‘size’ of our faith, is this true?
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus said to His disciples that even if their faith is as small as a mustard seed, they can speak to a mountain asking it to move and it will move! (Mat 17:20).
In the same gospel, Jesus was marveled by and commended on the ‘great faith’ of the centurion (Mat 8:10).
In fact, only two persons in the whole Bible were commended by Jesus to have great faith, the centurion and the Canaanite woman (Mat 15:28) and they are both non-Jew.
What this meant is that when we are looking at our own faith at ourselves, as in the case of the disciples, our ‘great’ faith is as if as none! We can’t even move an atom, let alone a mountain! However, it was different for the centurion and Canannite woman, who’s faith was on Jesus’ ability.
Therefore, what matters is not the size of our faith because:
1. If our faith is on our own ability and merit, then even we have ‘great’ faith, there won’t be any result.
2. If our faith is on Jesus’ ability and merit, then even if the faith is ‘small’, the result will be perfect.
However, the size of our faith, does have influence how deep are we rooted in His Rest! (Jer 17:8). And the good news is that faith comes to us when we hear, and hear the word of Christ (Rom 10:17).
The more we hear Christ-centered sermons on the pulpits, the more faith will come to us and more deep rooted we will be in His Rest, that when the heat of challenges is on us, we can continue to stay healthy and prosper, regardless of how long is this period of challenges, and most important, we continue to bear fruits that benefit others, thus glorify God, without ceasing (Jer 17:8).
Greatly blessed, highly favored, deeply loved
I notice that in criticizing (well-meaning or otherwise) NCC, there is a tendency for critics (well-meaning or otherwise) to generalize to the whole church what they observed in their own encounters with a few or several (3,5,10,20,50?) NCC-ers. I don’t think that is fair.
For example, Paul wrote regarding the Holy Communion: “But many has taken it in NCC to become a magic ritual – the more times you take the more effective and higher probably of getting healed and wealthy.”
How do you quantify many? 10, 30, 100, 300?
How do you know the figure? Did you do a survey?
If it is let’s say 300, then out of 18,000 that will be 1.67% of the congregation. Is that considered many?
Yes you are right that God never cause the suffering / persecution / sickness/ poverty from Him. And it is definitely from the devil, and God has to allow this to happen just like God allowed devil to make Job suffer for a greater good.
It is important to know this truth so that we can have good opinion about our God.
So while there are many good promises in scripture, we also need to embrace that suffering / persecution can happen to us because the world hate us and dislike Jesus so that we won’t fall into extreme side by saying that those living in suffering nation do not have enough faith / revelation. In fact, they go through the persecution from the devil to advance the gospel for the sake of Christ. (If God doesn’t allow it, then of course it won’t happen!).
While I agree that we should not generalise and say that those who are suffering do not have enough faith / revelation, there exists a group of ‘sufferers’ who suffer needlessly by choice through their ignorance of the Gospel, i.e. hoodwinked by the devil to think that it is God’s will that they should suffer thinking this would glorify God.
God is gloried and pleased when Jesus is lifted up, when we rest and secured in Christ.
I was intriged when you said, “It would indeed be very sad if people lose their salvation through living unchallenged (and unchanged) lifestyles, yet still hold on to the belief that God has no choice but to fulfill His promise of salvation.”
I would like to know how challenged (and/or changed) your lifestyles should be in order to retain your salvation? I used ‘retain’ here because in order to lose some thing (i.e. salvation in the present context), you would have to first have it.
Or may I put it in another way, upto which degree of ‘unchallengedness’ or ‘unchangedness’ would our salvation be taken away? And by whom?
Dear Matthew, have your lifestyles being challenged and/or changed sufficiently to ‘retain’ your salvation?
My friend, if you really attempt to answer the above, you can only come to the conclusion that you cannot lose your salvation once you accept the gift of Salvation (Yeshua – Jesus), because He can’t be removed by anyone from you except God and the God that I know won’t do it!
Greatly blessed, highly favored, deeply loved
I was away for only a few days and look at how this whole discussion has flourished! =)
Let me bring the discussion back on track to focus on the indicative and imperative teachings in NCC and the church body as a whole in Singapore.
(Let’s leave the suffering and martyrdom in Iraq and India aside for a while, shall we?)
Having read stillhaventfound’s last lengthy response, I find myself agreeing with him totally and realising that we can still have the exact same beliefs in God, Christ and the church despite attending different churches.
I recently befriended someone who told me last week that TILL TODAY, her church still conducts church services every Sunday – with the men sitting on one side of the aisle, and the women on the other. Perhaps the pastor was just trying to see at a glance whether it was the males or the females who were the more faithful in attending church, but all of us here in this forum (so far I presume) would balk at the idea of attending such a congregation.
(Now who said the church is the best place to get hitched?)
We would also all agree that such legalism in the church body is something we should move away from and gravitate towards instead, the grace of God that has set us free from human bondage and man-made rules and laws.
There were some comments earlier justifying how NCC’s fully-indicative gospel is a much-needed balance to the body of Christ as a whole, which has been largely imperative in nature. I find such an argument seriously flawed.
Yes, taking the Singapore church context in its ENTIRETY, NCC’s grace-gospel does balance the scales somewhat. However, to use such a logic to justify NCC’s unbalanced preaching is dangerous.
Indulge me for a moment:
Many few years ago, a group of zealous believers felt that the world has become decadent. Even the religious leaders have betrayed the faith with their hypocrisy, complacency and over-emphasis on “dead works”.
In response, they organised themselves and made themselves to be the “true voice” of the religion, to balance the scales, to make up for all the things that should have been preached but was not.
So as a group, they eventually became very convicted (to the point of death) about their faith and beliefs, and prided themselves for being unbalanced in their views because the rest of the world needed that counterweight. They made no apology for championing a cause that was on the other end of the conventional, moderate spectrum of the faith.
Today, this group of people are referred to as religious fanatics. By some definitions they are known as religious bigots. The secular world today calls them extremists. In many cases, they are simply branded as terrorists.
The point I am trying to make here is that while there is a need for greater balance between the imperative and indicative in the body of Christ AS A WHOLE, this does not give any particular church the license to be fully on the opposite end to ‘make up’ for the imbalance.
Instead, each church should strive to be balanced, by itself and in itself, without having to call on external imbalances to compensate for the difference, because if that is true, then the opposite would also be true: other churches would swing towards extreme legalism in their own congregations because some other church down the street has proudly swung to the other extreme.
The eventual result would in fact – ironically – be ideal. 50% legalistic churches, 50% ‘liberated’ grace-gospel churches. Nett effect? Perfect balance in the body of Christ. Or is it? Is this the kind of church that Christ wants to build? Is this a true reflection of His body to the rest of the unbelieving world?
Yes, by all means, profess the grace message, but show the other less ‘liberated’ how this message can be preached moderately and responsibly in a clear, convicted but balanced manner. Thereafter, show the proof of your faith and teachings by the fruits you produce through the lives of your congregation. Surely the tree is judged by its fruits, right?
I believe it is only then that the legalistic churches would be slowly encouraged to take small steps towards embracing greater grace in their lives and allow more of the Holy Spirit to work through them. It is only when they are presented with a more achievable state of balance in the church that they can be led towards greater liberty and freedom in Christ.
On the contrary, if the only alternative is a church model that preaches only indicatives and not imperatives, which imperative-preaching church would attempt to make the switch overnight? You might as well ask them to disband their congregation and ask its members to start attending the Rock from next week?
There is a need as stillhaventfound has mooted, for BOTH the imperatives and indicatives to be preached in a balanced manner in each INDIVIDUAL church.
A few answers to those who have responded to my posts:
GBHFDL777 said: ” Healing and prosperity are promises of God, not by any man, period. I will not venture to guess why so-and-so in the church is poor and so-and-so in the church is sick, because I will not know why until perhaps one day when we in heaven we can ask God that question. Do you want to stop believing God just because another person does not seems to manifest God’s promises?”
Yes, prosperity and healing are promises of God. We inherit it when we become a born again Christian. You become a New Creation – a perfect, sinless, healthy being. But I think we have it in the Spirit but in our flesh, all other weaknesses will persist until you go to Heaven. Living in this world, I believe they will still be setbacks ( including infirmities ) in life. We need to accept it with pleasure as Paul said “2Co 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. ” Even though Paul asked three times for the infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, and distresses to be removed, God’s reply was that His strength, that is, God’s grace, would strengthen Paul to continue in victory regardless of the circumstances of life. A parallel passage could be found in Philippians 4:11-13 as he concluded that his Christian life was lived through the strengthening power of Jesus Christ. If you search the word “infirmities “, Paul must have said it a number of times that he “glory in his infirmities”
There is a big difference,however, between suffering for Christ’s sake and just suffering. Some teach that all suffering is therapeutic, and that is not so. Some said that it is from God, it is heresy and undermine the Good nature of God.Peter said, in 1 Pet. 4:15-16, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.”
I do not try to understand everything. Also, I do not try to explain what are the realities in this world by assuming that everything will be perfect once you are a Christian. I do not try to answer why some are not healed, some are sick, some are poor and some suffered. I just believe in a Good God who wants the best for me. There are still struggles between the Spirit and the Flesh. Most important is our love for God, trust Him in everything and you will find that you will be delivered somehow. Better still, God will work out the best out of every circumstances.
While it is God’s will that all some be saved, some will not be saved. While it is God’s will that all be healed, some will still be sick and falter. If you ask me why, my answer is simply I do not understand everything.
By the way, you suggested to talk to the pastors or leaders. NCC is not a church where these issues can be discussed openly, in depth, and objectively :). I have tried to discuss with some leaders but the answers can turn out to be so one sided that I decided not to pursue further. Typical of any church who takes some teachings in an extreme direction, they will find hard to entertain any discussions contrary to their beliefs. I am open to anyone who can provide me the answers objectively. Those pointed out in my previous post are not critical issues but it will be good if we can have some in-depth discussions. It is good also if NCC can honestly face the issues and have their explanations.
Stanley Wong said regarding the Holy Communion: “How do you quantify many? 10, 30, 100, 300? How do you know the figure? Did you do a survey?”
No, I did not do any survey nor quantify. I gathered my views from all the testimonies given. There are testimonies that said that they were healed because they took communion multiple times a day. Another testimony said that when the bread and wine touched the lips of a person in coma, he became well. There were many others. What about those who took Holy Communion and they did not recovered or even died? I know of many too but these are not reported or explained.
I think we have taken the Holy Communion out of context. It is an act to remember Christ not an act that you do so that you can receive healing. The act of doing it makes some people misunderstood that it was a “gnostic measure”. Holy Communion was probably an ritual common during the early church when people come together for a meal – they partook the Holy Communion to remember Christ. They did not do it in the hope to receive healing or prosperity!
Unconsciously superstitions can be part of the Christian Faith. The charismatic have superstition of generation curse and catholics have developed all kinds of ritual and superstitions. I can see that people in NCC will tell someone who is sick, “Take Holy Communion”. God will heal whether you take Holy Communion or not. Most important is your trust in His Faithfulness. With so much emphasis on no works and rest, the act of taking Holy Communion is evolving into an act of work to get healed.
Finally in reply to Matthew on the issue of “indicatives vs imperatives in the post 67, I fully support that there should be a balance because this is the way Paul teaches it. Paul strongly grounded his teachings with the “indicatives”in his epistles especially in Romans and Galatians. Yet in these two books and all the epistles he wrote, they are no lack of admonishment, warnings, rebuke and rules of living given to Christians. He recognized that we still need the imperatives to deal with the Flesh. To stretch truth in one direction without a balanced approach is not following the Bible general approach to teaching these truths. History tells us that all extremists and heresies started this way. Having said that I will rather that a church slanted towards the indicatives as it can be easily side tracked and replaced with legalistic self efforts to please God. But I will ever be cautious that when we start to fall into extremes. It can be dangerous too.
There are other good grace teachers besides Pastor prince.You can check their websites.Steve Mcvey,Peter Youngren,Paul Anderson Walsh,Andrew Wommack to name a few.
I would also add Rob Rufus!
I would also add Bertie Brits.
“Dynamic Love Ministres” In SA
God bless you all:)
I read with interest this post about indicative and imperative and the various comments by various people. I would just like to give my 2 cent worth here.
I have been a Christian for many years and have attended a traditional church for many years and have my fair share of being in the imperative camp. I was at the lowest moment of my life when I started reading pastor Prince’s book “Destined to Reign”. It helped to open my eyes to the meaning of Grace and the love of God. I also started to watch DVDs of pastor Prince’s sermons. In my years as a believer, I have not heard anyone preach like him even among the charasmatic circles or mega-churches. It is the first time I ever see someone who preaches with such power and vigor. One can certainly sense the anointing of God on pastor Prince.
Back to the topic, after watching several of pastor Prince’s messages, I have come to conclude that what he is trying to say in his grace gospel is that indicative will lead to imperative (imperative is the result of indicative) and not that we need 50% indicative and 50% imperative. It is as good as saying that God’s grace is not enough, that we need good works to complete His grace. Let me illustrate with my personal testimony.
As I mentioned earlier I have been a believer for many years, but I have a habitual sin which I find myself unable to overcome. I have tried many ways to break the habit disciplining myself in various ways to no avail. However, after having understand the grace message, I have not sin once in relation to my habitual sin. It is supernatural and doesn’t require effort on my part whatsoever. I must admit that the temptation is still real and thoughts of doing the sin is still there, but it has become just a passing thought and no more a lingering thought. This can only be the works of God and nothing else. It (Grace) helps me to understand that we need not strive to do good works because good works comes as a result of resting in God so that all glory will be given to God and this is the secret of effortless living as preach by pastor Prince. So in essence then pastor Prince does preach about right living in NCC with the help of God instead of our own strength. In my opinion, many people only seem to hear him preach the indicative but not the imperative, but essentially his message is “right believing produces right living” and not “right believing + right living”. This is my understanding of the grace message and if anyone who doesn’t see it, in my humble opinion has missed the point which pastor Prince is making.
You got it bro!!!
That’s why if you heard Peter Youngren’s sermon the Gospel of pure radical grace,it is SCANDALOUS !!!
Steve Mcvey said that if as Christians we sit on our butt till the millenium reign, God will still accept us no less.
The point is not that grace makes us passive because we can take advantage of it.The point is because it is grace we can take advantage of it. But do we want to?
Gal 5:13 Don’t waste your freedom in Christ.
We labour to rest.And we labour from rest.heb 4:10-11
We don’t make light of sin.We make much of grace.We don’t make light of the imperative.We make much of the indicative.
That’s what makes the pure Gospel stands out and stand alone apart from other religions including the Christian religion.
In Paul’s letters he deals with the indicative first and then the imperative.
In his letters Paul often deals with issues in the church in the imperative.He was not saying that pastors have to preach the first half indicative and the second half imperative.
For more on sermons,read the book of Acts.
Joseph Prince’s ministry finds its roots in what many people have referred to as the Word Faith Movement. Proponents of this movement include E W Kenyon(whose writings gave rise to most the radical ideas that inform the movement), Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copleland, Joyce Meyer et al. They teach a collective theology which propounds that God has promised to bless His people based on His finished work on the cross, as well as the believer’s positive confession of faith (in other words, if you speak forth your need, and lay hold of it by faith, and the spoken need will in due time come to pass. Put simply, if I desire a car, I claim it in Jesus’ name, and the car will come my way).
Critics have written quite extensively on Word Faith teachings, so i will not talk further about it here. What I do want to highlight is that JP’s teaching over the last ten years does not move beyond the whole theme of justification by faith. In fact, there has been no mention of the sanctification process or the need for it. In his teachings, believers become righteous from appropriating the finished work on the cross. There is no need to work out one’s salvation, one simply needs to “rest”.
JP’s teaching on Grace suggests a lack of basic understanding of God’s redemptive work. The Martin Luthers and Calvinists will tell you the only time a believer ever takes a rest in his walk with God is when he is getting saved through the finished work of Christ. One can’t earn salvation through his own good work, but he can by His grace and mercy as demonstrated by His outstretched arms on the cross. This is the turning point in a sinner’s life, when the sinner decides to take up the cross and follow Jesus, so that more and more he can be called to be in His image.
Positionally, the believer is forever saved, but the old man in him still needs to be transformed. Now, this walk of sanctification, JP Ministry completely ignores. It is interesting that JP perceives any effort on the believer’s part to act out God’s imperatives as the believer’s attempt to keep the law. He teaches that under the New Convenant, one does not keep the Law, but live only by God’s grace. So, according to him, God has not only rescinded the need to keep the ceremonial laws, He has categorically abolished all laws, including the Decalogue!
My questions for all to consider:
1. If God has truly abolished the Decalogue, which reveals His moral character and absolute standards for human decency, then what should a believer hold fast to in order to live out his faith in a corrupt and decadent world? “We are in the world, but not of the world.” God also calls us “the salt of the earth”. What keeps us salty if God removes His standards/values for us? What is Grace? Is it a form of moral standard by which we can define and govern our thought life and behaviour?
2. If,according to JP’s theology, those of us who are trying to work out our salvation with fear and trembling are guilty of earning our salvation through our own “stinking efforts”, then what is the Holy Spirit for in our lives?
I’m quite upset when I heard about New Creation Church teaching cheap grace but decided to check out the truth and I’m glad it is just over-emphasizing grace rather than going against obedience to God.
Such problem is not new. It exist with the Church even in early days such as the doctrine of ‘Original Sin’ which was used as a response during 2nd Century A.D. by Bishop Irenaeus against gnosticism thinking salvation is by ‘secret knowledge’ rather than through Jesus.
What are the danger of ‘original sin’ doctrine?
1) Lack of responsibility for own sin thinking it is the result of Adam, not our fault.
2) May end up with ‘cheap grace’ doctrine that Jesus’ death removed the ‘sin virus’ and hence whatever we do is not a sin.
Did we ever question is it a sin to know what is good and evil?. How is it a sin that Adam and Eve know God’s definition of good and evil by eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? Sin is the act of going against God, not knowing what is good and evil. We are not born in sin and we do not have to die for the sins of our ancestor (Deu 24:16). This does not mean we are not sinners. Does sin need to be inherited that we have sin? Adam & Eve made sinless at the beginning, how did they sin? If you said “Satan”, then how did Satan sinned at the beginning? The error of such ‘inherited sin’ doctrine is that it will say “God created or caused sin”. God only grant us free-will meaning we can choose to obey God or disobey Him. To disobey is sin. However, if we have no knowledge of God’s definition of what is right and wrong, we are then not guilty of sinning as Romans 5:13 suggests that we are not held in accountable. It says Mosiac law here but it is still the same principle cause God is a just God being consistent. If we have knowledge but still go against it, then it is a sin be it intentional or unintentional. Even unintentional sin needs atonement (Numbers 15:25) so we don’t take things lightly.
As Galatians 5:13 says that all laws can be summed up as love. Jesus died for us is not to solve an accident God made in Garden of Eden (there’s no accident in God’s dictionary) but rather as an act of love to us. We are called to love God. Love =/= lawlessness as 1 Cor 13:6 says “Love does not delight in evil but in truth”.
1 John 4:18 also said that in love, there is no fear. To love God means that if I know He dislikes something, I do not do it because I did not want to upset him. However, legalism is based on fear that “I obey because I do not want punishment” rather than because I love Him. Love focus on others, fear focus on self. When Jesus preached to the Rich Man on how to gain salvation (Matthew 19:16-30), did He not say the same thing? Deny self, focus on God?
I do not mean we need to be perfect by works then we can be saved but rather we need to have a love relationship with God before we can be saved. It is not about grace nor about works but about love in my opinion. In love, there is both grace and obedience.