The number one reason that New Creation Church is the most attacked Church in Singapore is because of what people call “antinomianism”. Basically, that word means “against law”. There are at least two kinds of antinomianism – one doctrinal/theoretical and one practical. The first is the belief that the Moral Law (10 Commandments) are not for Christians today. The second is the belief that Christians can sin all they want because there’s always grace available for them. Christians have accused New Creation of being antinomian in both these ways.
In this post, I’ll only focus on the second kind of antinomianism – i.e. practical antinomianism. The charge goes something like this: “Pastor Prince and New Creation teach that a Christian can sin all they want because grace is always available.” I’ve heard that charge from many Christians who come from many different Churches in Singapore.
Whenever I hear New Creation being accused of antinomianism, I’m both happy and sad. Sad because I know that such an accusation is meant to be a criticism or judgement against the message of New Creation. But I also feel happy, because I know one thing (and I think this is really powerful and profound):
Paul was also accused of preaching an antinomian gospel!
A whole lot of my posts in this series will be dedicated to this area – that is, New Creation’s teachings on grace. So I won’t get too much into this now but I’ll just leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Martyn Lloyd-Jones and some comments below. I won’t say much about him except to say that he was one of the most respected preachers (known as “the last of the preachers”) in the world when he was alive and his works are still very much read today. He’s Reformed in theology yet at the same time open to Charismatic things. Here’s his brilliant quote. I’m not exactly sure where it came from (I came across it about 10 years ago) but I believe it’s probably from his commentary on Romans 6:
It is true that where sin abounded grace has much more abounded; well then, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound yet further?” The true preaching of the gospel of salvation by grace alone always leads to the possibility of this charge being brought against it. There is no better test as to whether a man is really preaching the New Testament gospel than this, that some people might misunderstand it and mis-interpret it that it really amounts to this: that because you are saved by grace alone, it does not really matter at all what you do, you can go on sinning all you like because it will redound all the more to the glory of grace. That is a very good test of gospel preaching. If my preaching of the gospel does not expose it to that misunderstanding, then it is not the gospel. Let me show you what I mean. If a man preaches justification by works, no one would ever raise the question. If he says, “If you want to go to heaven, you must stop committing sins, live a life filled with good works, and keep this up regularly and constantly until the end, then you will be a Christian and go to heaven when you die.” Obviously, no one will accuse a man who preached like this of saying, “Let us continue in sin that grace may abound.” But every preacher who preached the gospel has been accused of this! They have all been accused of “antinomianism.” I would say to all preachers: If your preaching of salvation has not been misunderstood in that way, then you had better examine your sermons again, and you had better make sure that you really are preaching the salvation that is proclaimed in the New Testament to the ungodly, the sinner, to those who are dead in trespasses and sins, to those who are the enemies of God. There is a kind of dangerous element about the true presentation of the doctrine of salvation.
Understanding the above quote alone would prevent a lot of criticisms of New Creation’s gospel of grace. It’s not about the quote alone, but about understanding the quote and how it’s based on a proper understanding of the gospel as presented by Paul in Romans 1 to 8.
For those who still don’t get how being accused of antinomianism actually means you’re preaching the biblical gospel, please understand one thing. Neither Paul nor Pastor Prince believe that we can sin all we want since grace is always available! Neither of them would encourage Christians to go and sin! Both are against sinning! (Pastor Prince has mentioned many times that he’s thoroughly against sinning). However, the important thing to note here is this: The gospel they preach is such that they will be misunderstood as saying such a thing! It’s about people misunderstanding your gospel. If you preach a works-centered gospel, no one would mistake you for promoting antinomianism. No one would accuse you of that. But then, that’s because you haven’t been preaching the true biblical gospel of justification by faith alone. However, if you preach the true biblical gospel of justification by faith alone, then you’ll face that charge as Paul did – and as Pastor Prince is facing also.
Romans 6:1 says, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” Why did Paul write that immediately after writing about justification by faith alone in the earlier chapters? It has to be one of two reasons. Either people were asking him that question and he’s just responding to it in his letter. Or he anticipates that the glorious gospel of justification by faith alone he had just written in the previous chapters would be open to such a charge (after all, he had just written in Romans 5:20 the “heretical” and seemingly “antinomian” teaching that “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more”!) and so he quotes the charge and then immediately provides a response to it (which I’ll write about in another post). Whatever the case, if you’re truly preaching the same gospel that Paul preached, people will accuse you of saying we can carry on sinning as grace will increase.
If Pastor Prince and New Creation Church are accused of antinomianism in this way, I actually take it to be a wonderful compliment, not a criticism.