Thoughts on New Creation Church – City Harvest Church and the Tabernacle

I love both New Creation Church and City Harvest Church. Both are actually very different churches. They both have very different ministries. New Creation’s focus is on the gospel of grace. City Harvest’s focus is on evangelism and missions. I think New Creation has some of the best preaching/teaching you can find anywhere in Singapore. City Harvest’s passion for reaching out is second to none in Singapore. I prefer New Creation’s focus on grace and God’s love for us – as opposed to City Harvest’s focus on loving God and man and living out the Christian life (though I think that neither portray a biblical balance). I love City Harvest’s strong cell community and think it’s closer to how a Christian community should be like.

In the past month, I’ve been spending some time with a City Harvest cell for various reasons. So I’ve been attending some cell and church meetings, as well as interacting with various cell members and a pastor. What I’ve experienced and seen have made me both uncomfortable, yet also very glad. Maybe one day I’ll share my experiences in greater detail here. A lot of things have been happening in the past few weeks and I’ve not written much about them at all (that’s why I’ve been quite silent on the blog!) because these are things that are quite sensitive and I’d have to write carefully (which takes time and a lot of thinking) if I were to share them.

As I see more people reading this blog, I’ve had to be extra careful in what I write. Especially because I touch on a lot of sensitive and controversial issues here. I don’t want my blog to be like others that just attack this or that church or teaching. On the other hand, a lot of these controversial issues are close to my heart and I know a lot of people think about them and struggle with them (just like I do) and thus I don’t want to just sweep them under the carpet and ignore issues that I think are worth discussing. That just wouldn’t be me. However, it’s also not me to come out strongly on one side and attack another. I think for any controversial issue, there are always good and bad on each side. There are good and biblical reasons for holding the view that each side holds to. Not that both sides are correct. But at least there are good reasons why people from each side believe in what they do. In regards to the above two churches, I respect both New Creation and City Harvest a lot but am not enamored by either Pastor Prince or Kong Hee to the extent that I think they can believe and do no wrong.

Anyway, recently I got to know a City Harvest member who is also a School of Theology (SOT) student. Her sister happens to be a cell leader at New Creation. I reckon any theological conversations between the two would be pretty darn interesting! Both churches of course disagree quite fundamentally with the other’s theology and focus. Generally, City Harvest would consider New Creation’s grace teachings as antinomian and New Creation would view City Harvest’s teachings as tending towards legalism.

This person shared about City Harvest’s teaching on the Tabernacle. I’ve heard such teachings before in other charismatic churches I’ve been to. The teaching goes like this: There were three parts to the Old Testament Tabernacle – the Outer Court, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies – with each coinciding with a greater experience of God. In the Old Testament, not everyone but only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies and commune with God in this intimate way. However, for Christians today, because of what Jesus did, we have the opportunity or potential to enter the Holy of Holies during our time with God. However, not all Christians will experience such intimate fellowship with God in the Holy of Holies. Only those who press in and really seek after God would have such an intimate experience. Those who don’t really press in are still at the Holy Place or the Outer Court and thus experience God in a less intimate way.

The above teaching is often used to compel Christians to seek a greater and more intimate experience of God:

Where are you now? Are you in the Holy Place or the Outer Court? Do you want to enter into the Holy of Holies and experience God in a more intimate way? If you want to enter into the Holy of Holies, you have to surrender to God. You have to seek Him and press in…

I have a lot of problems with this sort of teaching because the way I see it, it’s just not biblical. It denies a very fundamental aspect of the gospel – that “in Christ” we have access to God and are already in the Holy of Holies. The book of Hebrews makes it very clear that we have access to God by faith in Christ and what He did: “…we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place (i.e. Holy of Holies) by the blood of Jesus…” (Hebrews 10:19). In the Old Testament, the presence of God was in the Holy of Holies. Not anyone could enter. Only the high priest who consecrated himself could enter the place and then only once a year. Jesus’ death did away with such a system. By his blood, we can enter the very presence of God. Therefore, for anyone to say that some Christians are only at the Outer Court or Most Holy Place and not in the Holy of Holies and that they need to press on and surrender more or whatever to enter the Holy of Holies is to say that it’s by our works and efforts that we enter God’s holy presence! The Bible says it’s by faith and the blood of Jesus that we enter God’s holy presence! In the Old Testament, the high priest had to consecrate and prepare himself to enter the Holy of Holies. All this was a shadow of what was to come. In Jesus, we don’t need to do anything (prepare ourselves by surrendering more or striving more, etc.) to enter the Holy of Holies. We just need to believe in Christ and His finished work.

Therefore, I believe that every Christian has already entered into the Holy of Holies. We have access to God because of what Christ did for us. We don’t need to seek more or strive more to enter the Holy of Holies.

Anyway, this sister shared about how she sought a deeper “Holy of Holies” experience with God and was touched deeply by God. What do I think of that? While I disagree with the theology behind the teaching, I have no reason to deny that God did touch her in a special way, that she did experience God in a deeper way. Just because I think the teaching that inspired her and many Christians to seek God in a greater way is unbiblical doesn’t mean that I think her experience was not of God. I do believe God touched her. I just wouldn’t refer to that experience as a “Holy of Holies” experience.

I’ve always believed that many times God moves in our lives in spite of our theology. If God were to bless only correct theology, then not many people would be blessed. This is not to deny the importance of good theology. It’s just to acknowledge that God is more gracious and much bigger than we think.

What this sister experienced was a deeper experience of God. While all Christians are already in the Holy of Holies, this doesn’t mean that people don’t experience God in different ways and in different qualities. We all grow in our experience with God. We all should be seeking God more and more. Entering the Holy of Holies doesn’t mean we’ve crossed the finish line and there’s nothing more to do or strive for. Certainly, we’ve crossed the finish line in terms of being perfect and righteous because of Christ’s work on the cross. Nothing can take that away from us. But our Christian life is a journey. We learn and we grow. We don’t stay stagnant. And we definitely experience God in greater ways.

So while I may have problems with the teachings that was used to justify this sister’s experience, I have no doubt that her experience was of God and that it was good for her. She may have believed in the wrong things, but her heart was right and God blessed her sincerity and those of many others who may have believed wrongly.

There is no doubt that if the above teaching is taught in an extreme manner and received wrongly, there may be many Christians in bondage and condemnation for not having “reached” the level of entering into the Holy of Holies. This may be the case. But I prefer to give the benefit of the doubt and while disagreeing with the above teaching, I recognize that many lives have been transformed for the better as Christians are challenged to seek God more and more. To me, this can only be a good thing. And maybe at times better than if one has the right theology regarding the Tabernacle of God and yet become passive and don’t continuously seek God or the filling of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).

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29 Comments

  1. Hi. Thanks for sharing the view on the Tabernacle’s Holy of Holies. Based on what Paul said, we are in Christ and we have direct access to God because of the blood of Christ that made us righteous. I think as Christian, we need the revelation of who we are in Christ and see the Bible in the context of the finished work of Christ!

    We share the same righteousness as Jesus and therefore we have direct access! The closer to God view is the old covenant way of approaching to God. The new and living way is we are in Christ and when we are in Christ, there are no more distance between we and Christ! Intimacy can still be measured but in Christ is a revelation of our identity in Christ!

  2. Hi SHF,

    great to see you back. :)

    Like to comment on some points you made.

    “I don’t want my blog to be like others that just attack this or that church or teaching. On the other hand, a lot of these controversial issues are close to my heart and I know a lot of people think about them and struggle with them (just like I do) and thus I don’t want to just sweep them under the carpet and ignore issues that I think are worth discussing. That just wouldn’t be me. However, it’s also not me to come out strongly on one side and attack another. I think for any controversial issue, there are always good and bad on each side.”

    I understand this tension you face. And as more and more people read this blog, there is a responsibility for you to be objective, and present the sides of the coin as you see it. I really admire your courage to bring out these issues. And personally, I can see how this can bridge better understanding in the body of Christ. I really plead the readers to also show mutual respect to each other’s beliefs and not start a war of verbal abuse. After all, the final prayer of Jesus in John 17:21 is “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

    The unity of the Body of Christ is Christ Jesus’ wish, and the devil will do all things to stop this from happening, including sowing discord between different churches.

    So first and foremost, thank you, for being real, and objective.

    Like you, I have tremendous respect for both Pastor Prince and Reverend Kong Hee. Both are tremendous men of God who are doing great work in advancing God’s kingdom. I am from New Creation but previously from City Harvest. This does not diminish the respect I have for City Harvest, especially with their missions in Asia.

    “I’ve always believed that many times God moves in our lives in spite of our theology. If God were to bless only correct theology, then not many people would be blessed.”

    I believe you are spot on in this point. God will bless Christians because of His ever abounding grace, and not because we have the perfect theology. And I certainly believe that no one pastor can claim to have the perfect theology. But God’s grace is always flowing! People can have wrong theology, wrong motives in seeking God, etc, but God is much bigger than we think. He is able to correct the theology and the motives.

    “Therefore, for anyone to say that some Christians are only at the Outer Court or Most Holy Place and not in the Holy of Holies and that they need to press on and surrender more or whatever to enter the Holy of Holies is to say that it’s by our works and efforts that we enter God’s holy presence!”

    One of the truths that New Creation brought to me that really set me free is this: Christ in me the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). And that is essentially, all the good in me comes from Christ. All the power to overcome sin comes from Christ. There is no good in me apart from Christ. (Psalms 16:2)

    That is consistent with what C S Lewis said “What I mean is this. An ordinary Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get into touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God – that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying – the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on – the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal.”

    That really set me free in terms of trying to overcome my sin, or even loving God. In the past, I have a tendency to try to do it myself. But now, I know that everything is Christ, none is of my own effort. This is the truth – and rather than making me complacent and sin wilfully, I find myself more intimate with God than ever. Because I have the courage to come to Him by the blood of Christ as the propitiation of my sins. It is counterintuitive, and it has to be experienced.

    Hence, I may not agree with teachings that prompt the Christian to do more and perform more. But I think essentially, we have to remind ourselves that it is only Christ in us who has the power to overcome sin, be more dedicated, transform our hearts, love other people. ALL IS OF HIM, none is of us. I don’t think it is 90% His effort, 10% our effort.

    I love this quote by Watchman Nee:

    “”Because the Lord Jesus died on the Cross,
    I have received forgiveness of sins;

    because the Lord Jesus rose from the dead,
    I have received new life;

    because the Lord Jesus has been exalted to the right hand of the Father,
    I have received the outpoured Spirit.

    All is because of Him; nothing is because of me.”

    What a blessed truth that we have! Amen!

    And from the above, I also agree with your statement:

    “Certainly, we’ve crossed the finish line in terms of being perfect and righteous because of Christ’s work on the cross. Nothing can take that away from us. But our Christian life is a journey. We learn and we grow. We don’t stay stagnant. And we definitely experience God in greater ways.”

    I agree with Martin Lloyd Jones about growing our faith:

    “Though what I have been saying is the truth with regard to justification by faith, and though it is true of everybody who is justified by faith, I still say that faith at times may have to fight. But I hasten to add that faith not only may have to fight, faith does fight, faith can fight; and faith always fights victoriously in this matter of justification. There is always the element of rest and of peace, and as we have seen, of certainty in connection with faith. Abraham we are told was ‘fully persuaded that’ – there is an element of knowledge and of certainty always in justifying faith. There must be, otherwise we cannot have peace with God. But at the same time faith may have to fight at times when the devil, as it were, brings up all his batteries. The greatest saints have testified that even to the end of their lives the devil would come and raise this question of justification with them and try to shake them. But faith can always deal with him, faith can always silence him. It may be a desperate fight at times, but faith can fight and faith does fight.”

    I do believe that God places us in certain situations for our faith to increase. And that is part of the Christian life. And I agree with NCC that we are 1) fighting from victory. and 2) that Christ is our faith.

  3. Previously, when I read

    Psalm 91:4 “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge;”

    I always wondered where are the wings of Jesus. If He is 100% Man and 100% God, He shouldn’t have any wings.

    Then in one of the sermon in NCC, Lord revealed to me through Pastor Prince teaching of the Arch of the Covenant. Pastor Prince was explaining the whole mercy seat plus the 2 cherubims was made from the same slab of Gold. The 2 cherubims are not God, but they are somewhat representative of God.

    With this, I realised the wings come from the cherubims. And thus, I have a complete picture of the protection. The mercy seat is picture of Lord Jesus. We are in Christ, as such we are with Him in the mercy seat, Psalm 91:1 “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” The shadow is from the cherubims and their wings.

    This is the place where I will be covered by Him “with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge”!

    That’s how close we can be with Daddy God, Lord Jesus. Praise the Lord for this revelation to me.

    Shalom.

  4. I love Pastor J. Prince and his sermons. ALL of them – the grace of god.

    I agree totally with what you’ve said.

    In His dwelling place,
    Carol

  5. Putting it simply, CHC is ‘You do’. NCC is ‘God will do’.

    Being a Christian for so many years, I’ve always understood Jesus is the only way for my salvation. I also understood I have to work out my salvation. But I guess I kind of misunderstood what it meant to work out my salvation.

    You see, it’s one thing to preach about working out your salvation and another on how to work out your salvation. It’s one thing to preach about living a holy life and another on how to live a holy life. I may not like everything about NCC but Pastor Prince has opened my eyes with his gospel of grace. For years, I struggled, thinking there must be better ways to please God. I know God has saved me. But is God always pleased with me?

    So I resorted to serving more, giving more, witnessing more. And I truly thought God is satisfied with those efforts. The Pharisees did way more than I did and Jesus didn’t like them one bit. When I chanced about Pastor Prince’s message, I finally realised our efforts can never please God. They are like filthy rags in fact! It’s when God looks at Jesus, His finished work on the cross, that He is pleased with us. As a result of that, we start bearing the fruit of the Spirit as we believe in Him.

    There was one thing PP said that made sense. We replace our maids, servants when they make mistakes. But we never replace our children no matter what. We never love them less. Ok I know some do but that’s not how parental love should be. Our Father is amazing. He gave His only Son to us.

    I began to recognise God can only be pleased with me for what Jesus had done for me. Anything else I do for Him later doesn’t change that fact. And because of this amazing grace, I am able to work out my salvation and live a holy life. It’s not really me at work, but Christ working in me. It’s not I that live, but Christ lives in me.

    Having a real understanding of grace is never about sinning freely. It’s about being free from sin despite sinning. I can never please God more. It’s done for me. That’s grace.

  6. At the end of the day, I believe that we, like the bible says, are judged by our fruits. If basking in the faith and revelation of God’s abundant grace leads to a holier and more Christ-like life, then by all means do it.

    Indeed, our Christian life is a journey. We learn and we grow. We learn how our lives can please God more, and we grow by making those changes in our lives, don’t we?

    So therefore I do not see how CHC’s teaching on pressing in into God is legalistic and bonding, unless we see these teachings with prejudice. (Each time we hear them asking people to DO something, we immediately cry foul and go “See? They are trying to seek God through human works and deeds!”)

    The truth is that Christ’s work on the cross gave us access to God’s presence. More than symbolically, Christ has torn the veil over the Holy of Holies. Yet, this does not necessarily mean that we are in it ALL the time by default.

    For example, I have the keys to my house. I have free access to it. This does not mean I’m in it all the time. I need to WALK IN. The problem with people sometimes is that we have FAITH we have access to it so much that we don’t realize that we won’t be in it until we make a conscious effort to step in. Remember that faith without works, is dead!

    And so I believe the more we press in to God, using the direct access made available to us through Christ, the more we are able to see areas in our lives that needs shaping and molding, so that we can learn and grow to become better people. What is so wrong with that?

  7. Dear Matthew,

    Thanks for your thoughts. Your comments here and at the other post are quite representative of most criticisms of NCC. And If I’m not wrong, you’re from CHC. And that’s fine. I’ve mentioned in my blog many times that I am amazed at the missions focus of CHC and they are second to none in this area. If you know me, I’m passionate about missions and so I stand from afar saying, “Wow” to what CHC has done in this area.

    But I’ll also have to disagree with what you said about we being “judged by our fruits.” I guess you can’t have it both ways. Either we’re saved by what Christ did on the cross, or we’re saved by our fruits as you said. We can’t be saved (and here I’m referring to the more technical term justification) by Christ and our fruits. That, I believe, is the Galatian heresy.

    You commented on a prejudiced view of CHC’s teachings: “Each time we hear them asking people to DO something, we immediately cry foul and go “See? They are trying to seek God through human works and deeds!””

    I agree that anyone who thinks like that and sees every instance of the preacher exhorting believers to DO something is being a bit extreme and prejudiced. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the bible is full of imperatives and “dos”. There may be some NCC members who have over-reacted and see every instance of any pastor exhorting us to “do something” as some kind of works-centered teaching. I (and many others) don’t fall into that category.

    However, I would say, “See? They are trying to seek God through human works and deeds!” when you state that we’re “judged by our fruits”. To say we’re judged by our fruits is very different from saying that we ought to strive to live a holier life. The former, I believe, is legalism. The latter is obviously not because Paul said that many times. (But a note here is that the latter can TEND TO legalism if we don’t keep the indicatives in perspective. Paul preached “let’s live a holier life” many times and yet also preached his indicatives a lot, something that most modern church have not been able to balance as Paul has)

    Matthew, you wrote: “The truth is that Christ’s work on the cross gave us access to God’s presence. More than symbolically, Christ has torn the veil over the Holy of Holies. Yet, this does not necessarily mean that we are in it ALL the time by default.”

    I disagree with the above statement, but I agree with what you said here: “And so I believe the more we press in to God, using the direct access made available to us through Christ, the more we are able to see areas in our lives that needs shaping and molding, so that we can learn and grow to become better people. What is so wrong with that?”

    There is nothing wrong with seeking God more and seeking to change our lives. It’s totally biblical and Paul exhorts us to do that in many places in his letters. I disagree with the first part above because I totally disagree with using the Tabernacle teaching to teach this. I don’t believe there’s any biblical warrant to do this. Again, I REPEAT, I have no problem with saying that we ought to strive harder and more and be more Christlike. But to take this teaching from the Tabernacle teaching is wrong. But I’m totally OK with preaching all this from Paul’s letters.

    Cheers and thanks for your sharing!

  8. Jonathan, I have been reading your blog for sometime with great interest. I appreciate and admire the honesty and clarity of your thoughts and have gain many insightful thoughts from them. Thank you.

    I neither attend NCC or CHC but have heard preachings from both churches.

    The preachings from NCC are not revolutionary because the grace message has been around for about 2000 years but tend to be highlighted more and packaged in different forms over the centuries. The grace teachings of Pastor Prince explains grace extremely well; by far the best presentation of it. However, I believe these truths come packaged in an extreme package of word-faith-prosperity.

    I agree with you that the teachings of NCC is unbalanced. The emphasis on grace has become over-emphasised to counter the “legalistic” attitudes of some other churches. What I cannot understand is that if such teachings are acknowledged as unbalanced, why then are we accepting a sub standard version of the complete gospel? Why cannot we petition for a gospel that teaches grace and also exhorts the fulfillment of the law of Christ via bearing good fruits (as suggested by Matthew Loh)?

    Why do we confuse the line between saved/unsaved (salvation) and santification? How I see it is that when we realise the price that Christ has paid for the forgiveness of our sins, assimilated that through genuine belief, the outworkings of our lives in OBEYING Christ does not represent our strivings for salvation (because we are already saved) but progressive santification or maturing in Christ.

    With regards to judgement by fruits, I cannot see why Matthew is being criticised. At the judgement seat of Christ, Christians are judged by their WORKS, NOT for salvation but rewards.

    With regards to the Tabernacle teaching, I think that the temple analogy is not accurate, however as we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. I do not say this in the sense of attaining SALVATION but in the sense of having a relationship with Him. If I choose not to commune with God, God cannot force himself upon me. He may prompt me gently but no way force me to do. What I am saying is that our relationship with him is active participation on our part in fulfilling his commands HAVING KNOWN and appreciated his grace has freed us from condemnation.

    Finally, Hebrews 6:1-3 states the fundamentals in we should believe in Christ. However, we are told to move on from these into things of greater maturity. Grace is one of the fundamentals. If we continue to harbour on it, we deprive ourselves from solid food; remaining on a diet of baby food.

    Grace is the belief of what God has done for ME. Without the aspect of what I can do for others (may it be workers in Geylang or suffering people in Africa), it will remain a self centred theology. Maturity in Christ is the outworkings of grace towards a life of others centredness.

  9. Dear Meeple,

    Thanks for your input. Yes, as I’ve mentioned many times elsewhere, I first learned about grace not through NCC but through a particular branch of the Reformed (and Lutheran) tradition. The main essence of what Pastor Prince teaches (regarding the topic of grace) is nothing new indeed although, although he has added his own insights and preaches such a message in a very compelling way.

    However, I would disagree with you that his 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 not saying you do that. But 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 CHC 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.

    Having said that, I don’t agree with everything preached in regards to prosperity in NCC. But I recognize that there’s a huge gulf between the way NCC approaches the message of prosperity and that way a typical WoF church approaches it. I will even go as far as to argue that CHC’s focus on prosperity and the way they approach prosperity is more in line with extreme prosperity teachings that I dislike and avoid. I don’t want to get too much into this because I appreciate CHC in many ways and think they are miles ahead of NCC in some very important areas like missions.

    [I probably shouldn’t bring CHC in as people may think that I’m against CHC, which I’m not. If you know me and have read my writings you’ll know that I am not pro-NCC or anti-CHC. I don’t take sides in a biased manner. I try to evaluate the teachings and practices from as objective a viewpoint as I can (hopefully as much as one can be, recognizing that no one is really objective!). Both have their strong points and to be honest I wish there’s a church that can be as grace-centered in its foundational teachings as NCC, yet as passionate for missions as CHC.]

    You wrote:

    why then are we accepting a sub standard version of the complete gospel? Why cannot we petition for a gospel that teaches grace and also exhorts the fulfillment of the law of Christ via bearing good fruits (as suggested by Matthew Loh)?

    I’m not sure what you mean by “sub standard” version. Is it sub standard because of what you mentioned before about its prosperity teachings? If so, then I disagree as I’ve already written. But I think you’re talking here about the lack of what I’ve mentioned here regarding the lack of preaching on the imperatives in NCC. If so, then as I’ve said there and in other posts, I do think NCC is unbalanced in this area.

    You wrote:

    How I see it is that when we realise the price that Christ has paid for the forgiveness of our sins, assimilated that through genuine belief, the outworkings of our lives in OBEYING Christ does not represent our strivings for salvation (because we are already saved) but progressive santification or maturing in Christ.

    I totally agree that we ought to exhort Christians to obey Christ and “do” based on what God has already done for them – and nothing to do with earning salvation. And yes, I’ve said in my post on indicatives and imperatives that I disagree with NCC on this area, though I also said I totally understand where they’re coming from and why there’s an overemphasis in their church on the indicatives to the neglect of imperatives – the reason being that other churches go the opposite direction. And as I said there, I do hope that eventually NCC would be more balanced in preaching the imperatives too.

    You wrote:

    At the judgement seat of Christ, Christians are judged by their WORKS, NOT for salvation but rewards.

    If Matthew’s mention about judgement of the Christian’s works is for rewards and NOT for salvation, then I am quite OK with that interpretation. But from my impression, that’s not what he means. I think he can clarify this for us! But as he commented here, 1) he believes 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 and 2) There’s a possibility of losing one’s salvation through living unchallenged lifestyles.

    Meeple, if other Matthew and other churches and Christians agree that we’re judged by our works for rewards, then I have no problem with that. But I’m quite sure that this is not what they mean.

    By the way, I appreciate discussing this with you Meeple and also Matthew. While I may disagree with you Matthew, at least I think we can have a discussion. Some NCC members (as with members of CHC and any other church) will not hear any criticism whatsoever and feel there’s a need to defend everything that NCC (or CHC) does as though it’s perfect. I don’t share the need to defend any Church! I love NCC and I will stand up for what I think is right and biblical but by no means is it a perfect church. We can learn much from it in both what we should do and also what we should avoid. I think we all have bits of truths and good and bad points and healthy discussion (not unfair criticism) can only be fruitful.

    With regards to the Tabernacle teaching, I think that the temple analogy is not accurate, however as we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. I do not say this in the sense of attaining SALVATION but in the sense of having a relationship with Him.

    Meeple, I totally agree with what you said here. If you read my post clearly, while I said I disagree with CHC’s analogy, I ended my post with a more positive take on the “motivation” behind their analogy. That is, I disagree with their analogy and their tabernacle teaching, but I ended:

    But I prefer to give the benefit of the doubt and while disagreeing with the above teaching, I recognize that many lives have been transformed for the better as Christians are challenged to seek God more and more. To me, this can only be a good thing. And maybe at times better than if one has the right theology regarding the Tabernacle of God and yet become passive and don’t continuously seek God or the filling of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).

    Seeking a greater intimacy of God or a greater filling of the Spirit is a good thing, eventhough their use of the tabernacle analogy to justify such things is not biblical. But I pointed out that such pursuit of more of God can only be a good thing.

    In response to your last two paragraphs, I don’t think “grace” is merely “fundamental” and not “solid”. I think it’s important to always focus on Christ and Him crucified and always remind ourselves of grace because we always have, as one author called, a resident moralist in us that will forever seek to want to justify ourselves by our works. Other than this point, I think we’re on the same line on this matter. I agree with most of what you said and I’ve argued in other posts that NCC shouldn’t avoid the imperatives and focus only on the indicatives, but should preach both and let the imperatives be empowered by the indicatives. Cheers!

  10. I am sorry, I did not make myself clear. Substandard is the one sided preaching of indicatives at the exclusion of imperatives.

    In addition, grace is the fundamental of our beliefs.You are correct in stating that it is always important to focus on Christ and remind ourselves of his grace. This core belief is what I call fundamental.

    With regards to baby food and solid food, I draw on the analogy of the Corinthians who were carnal and could not digest solid food because they were stuck at the fundamental stage.

    The christian life is

    1. to be authentic. To live out your beliefs in your life in relationships and all that you do.

    2. to have the right motives and attitudes as to why we do things. eg motives of self-interest vs motives out of true realisation of what Jesus has done for us and to in turn be Christ like.

    If we concentrate only on the indicative, trying to establish our legal standing and inheritance in Christ, we will never have the opportunity to live out our faith through the imperatives. This would only result in living a life like a selfish self-centred Christian who uses theology to satisfy one owns selfish needs.

  11. Dear Meeple,

    As I’ve said, our views are very similar in that both of us agree that NCC’s sole focus on the indicatives is unbalanced and unbiblical. Both of us also appreciate NCC’s clear gospel-centered messages but would like to see greater preaching of the imperatives grounded in the indicatives. Where we differ is that you’re probably (slightly) more concerned than I am about NCC not preaching the indicatives – even as I’m more concerned about this area (but maybe not as much as you) than the typical pro-NCC (“There’s nothing wrong with NCC so stop being critical!”) crowd who have been commenting on my other post.

    I’d like to point out two things here, which you may agree or not:

    1) As I’ve said here, I understand why NCC emphasizes the indicatives so much. While it’s an over-reaction against most churches that go the opposite direction and over-emphasize the imperatives, it can be argued that perhaps such over-reaction and unbalance is needed in the light of the overwhelming imperatives preaching we get in most other churches – including CHC. Again, as I’ve said there, the ideal is Paul’s preaching who preached both indicatives and imperatives and grounded the latter in the former. But we don’t live in an ideal world and I wonder what Paul would have to say if he knew about the climate of overwhelming imperative preaching we presently see in our churches today.

    2) I’ll touch on this in greater detail in another post but I don’t want anyone for a minute to think that because I constantly stress on the indicatives and imperatives that I think this is the main issue. I think there’s a greater issue than merely preaching both the indicatives and imperatives. The fact is, most churches are not just preaching so much imperatives, but they also tend to legalism. That is, while you and I think it may be OK to preach that we’ll be judged by our works for REWARDS (the implication being we’re already saved and it’s only the rewards that are in view), that’s not the reason why a lot of churches preach the imperatives. Their imperatives are often NOT grounded on the indicatives but many times because of “mixture”, their indicatives are grounded on imperatives – that is, they come close to grounding a person’s salvation on how well he has “done” or how much “fruits” there are. That is why I’ve argued so strongly against Matthew’s view (we’re still waiting to hear from him but I’m almost certain CHC and he don’t just think judgement by our fruits is for REWARDS, but there is an element in which our fruits relate to our very salvation, which I’ll term as legalistic). Again, this is about “mixture” and not outright legalism and thus it’s a subtly legalistic message which is perhaps more dangerous as it’s greater to detect.

    This, to me, is the main issue of why NCC is so special and needed. This is why I have a great appreciation for NCC’s focus on grace such that eventhough I disagree with the lack of imperatives there and think they can be more balanced, I also realize that they are one unique church in standing against a lot of confusing and mixed up gospel preaching that occurs in most other churches.

  12. meeple1,

    I agree with >90% of your comments in this post & like the way you wrote about the holy of holies relating to our intimacy with God.

    However this did not sit well with me:–
    “”…Grace is one of the fundamentals. If we continue to harbour on it, we deprive ourselves from solid food; remaining on a diet of baby food….””

    This is like equating Grace with baby-food, and Obedience (probably?) with solid-food.

    I think the Corinthians were carnal because they did not internalize what Paul taught in Romans 5 to 8. (maybe they didn’t have a chance to read Paul’s letter to the Romans? :-)

    To me the entire book of Romans is about Grace and Ps Prince’s teachings are the MOST aligned with it that I can find in Sgp.

    Ps Prince taught lots on what Rom 5–8 is about: putting off, putting on; old-man vs new-man; flesh vs spirit; to be carnally-minded vs spiritually-minded; not to be instruments of unrighteousness but instrument of righteousness; not to give occasion to the flesh; to be ‘in the flesh but after the Spirit’, being a ‘holy sacrifice’, being transformed by the renewal of our minds, etc.

    The grace-message is ALSO about all this.

    I see ‘grace’ as not just baby-food and that we have to move on to other kinds of food.

    “”2Pe 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. “”

    I see grace as something we have to continue to ‘grow in’ for the rest of our earthly life and is in every other ‘stages’ in our Christian growth–whether when we begin to let ourselves be systematically schooled in theology or begin to serve in the ‘fields’–these are ALSO growing in grace.

    Grace is everything God has given to us in Christ (salvation, justification, regeneration, sanctification, spiritual gifts, anointings, deliverance, favor with God & men, providence, Abrahamic blessings, etc).

    Faith is our part in appropriating & applying all that in the way that’s intended. So in this sense I see ‘faith’ as what is meant by ‘obedience’.

    In my mind, a simplistic analogy would be that grace is milk, and is also meat & potatoes & vegetables. Faith is physical exercise that strengthens the body & actually does God’s work.

    Would appreciate your comments.

  13. When Jesus cried on the cross, “It is finished” and the veil the separate the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place, not only that we, in Christ, can step into the Holy of Holies, but God can also step out of Holy of Holies, to embrace us! Father ran to the prodigal son!

    There is not more separation of Holy of Holies from Holy Place, it’s just one big Tabernacle of David!

    Greatly Blessed, Highly Favored, Deeply Loved

  14. “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.” (Heb 5:13, NIV)

    The Bible says that baby (infant) is someone NOT good in the teaching of righteousness.

    When we confess Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we also have His righteousness because Christ is the embodiment of God’s righteousness, just like salvation, by GRACE.

    Shalom.

  15. I’m not a singaporean. But i just came from a recent trip to chc’s asia conference and I also attended NCC’s GEN REV and their sunday service.

    All I can say is each church has a particular calling, a particular part and role to fullfill in what God has planned for His’s church. ANd I just love CHC’s heart for the marketplace, to peetrate the marketplace be relevant and contemporary to bring people to God. There services are cool and would easily attract people to attend church.

    As for NCC. I love the way that they unveil Jesus to people. Cause knowing who you are in Chirst makes all the difference in each persons walk. Cause as He is, so are we in this world.

    CHC and NCC both have a supply to give to this world. It would be cool to someday see them united to unveil Jesus to people and reach the marketplace in singapore.

  16. Dear favored,

    Indeed I know many people who appreciate both NCC and CHC and we all hope and pray that maybe one day Pastor Prince and Kong Hee would put aside their biases and prejudices and really get to know each other and learn from one another. That would be totally awesome and would benefit the body of Christ in Singapore (as well as the world) tremendously!

  17. I was reading a previous post on indicative and imperative and came to this post. Here is my understanding of what pst Prince teaches about grace. I am not from NCC but I deeply believe in pst Prince’s grace message. Works is the result of Grace & we cannot add nor substract from this. To do so, I believe will cheapen the the finish work of Christ. A lot people only see pst Pastor Prince preaches grace and then that’s it, but if one is to listen carefully, you will realise what pst Prince is saying is that the works we do after understanding what God has done for us at the cross does not stem from our own efforts but the result of a transformed life so that we can no longer boast that it is by our own efforts in doing the works we do but rather we give glory to God because only He can do it. I have learn that once we understand this, we can really truly live an effortless life. My understanding is pst Prince is preaching works can only be accomplished when we rest in Christ and that it is not our own striving. Therefore I believe in 100% Christ efforts & 0% our own efforts.

    For those who are from CHC, I truly admire Rev Kong Hee too. Besides pst Prince, Rev Kong Hee is my favourite preacher. In fact, Rev Kong was the first local preacher I respect. His sermons has helped me in various area of my life.

  18. Ha. I spent 3 years at City Harvest and currently in New Creation. Have been here for the last 6 years.

    I really enjoyed your blog posts, even though I may have different thoughts.

    All i an say is, I am totally, completely blessed under pastor prince’s ministry.

  19. I was fr a traditional church, was there for more than a decade but was spiritually super malnourished (instead of feeding the sheeps, a lot of focus were spent tent making and missionaries until one fine day the founding pastor committed a big sin and the congregation was devastated), many left, I backslided for 2 years, until I came to NCC, and I began a journey of “unlearning” & I grew & is still growing in Christ.

    Never been so close and so dependent on Him until how NCC has unveiled Jesus, His finished work on the cross, and the love of our Heavenly Father to me.

    I do not think NCC is guilty of focusing on indicative and lacking in imperative. It is one’s understanding of indicative that WILL bring about the imperatives. Many whom have been delivered from illnesses or debts or problems through NCC’s ministry understands that it is the heart knowledge of what Jesus has done that leads them to know what they ought to do (not the typically work based on Laws of Moses I am talking about here).

    Reading the bible is no longer a drag. Praying has never being so easy. Meditating on the words of God has never been so fulfilling. Sharing about Christ has never been so natural. Faith has never been stronger. And so I truly thank God (Hallelujah) for using Pastor Prince and NCC to reveal His Son Jesus Christ to me & my house, and taught me & my house how to journey closely with Him.

    Shalom Shalom
    William

  20. Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

    God loves us so much that He will give each one of us free choice to lead the lives we want. However, only through Jesus can one truly live life abundantly. Without Jesus, life will merely be acceptable. I truly believe that this personal walk with God we all take is precious and inevitable. Churches consist of a community of brothers and sisters who all belong to Christ. Each church has a unique gift to benefit mankind and to serve its specific purpose, just like each one of us who is uniquely made. God will surely lead us to the right church, right pastor, right cell group, right job, right partner, so that our lives will shine and His name will be glorified.
    Amen.

  21. Hi, thanks for the insightful post. It’s quite long but anyway very intriguing. I am both astonished on what God had done within the two churches in Singapore. City Harvest Church has been God’s arm to reach to the lost, where as New Creation Church preaches love and grace that all of the dear brothers and sisters need to remind themselves of.

    About your struggles between the two point of view from both churches, I put it into this perspective. In the letters Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he stressed that we, the church, as Christ’s body, has different functions according to our own calling and gifting. However, this does not mean that we are totally different from each other. In fact, Paul called us a unified body of Christ.

    Different churches are like the body parts of a body. These body parts can function at its own capacity and functionality, however they are all complimenting each other, ensuring that the body can stay alive and running all the time. For instance, the lungs get oxygen for the body, but it’s the heart’s job to distribute the attained oxygen.

    Seriously, after becoming Christian for 3 years, I found that there are no church that is wholesome. In fact, all churches are having different giftings and callings, but all serve one common goal, that is to extend God’s kingdom, and to preach the gospel to all the nations.

    Instead of make wars over differences, churches and Christians should come together, and collaborating with each other to build God’s kingdom. Individual Christians are called to build God’s house in churches, but individual churches are called to build God’s overall kingdom in this world.

    For me, I always get balanced sermons by listening to Rev. Kong Hee and Pr. Joseph Prince at the same time. Both of their doctrines are correct and biblical, and both of their preachings are indeed anointed.

    That’s all from me for today. Hope to hear from you more in the future.

  22. I have attended both City Harvest as well as New Creation. In my opinion, NCC is just trying very hard to ape CHC in the way CHC is run. Afterall, Kong Hee is a much sought after, reputable and credible speaker and leader in the Christian society, so I still think CHC is more credible.

    Let me repeat myself, its just my opinion.

  23. I too attended CHC and also heard many tapes of Ps. Prince. Teaching on grace is excellent but it doens’t mean passive christian life. Yes. No need to work for salvation but we need to work for the gospel to reach out to nations. Also we need to work to mature in christian life. many NCC people don’t feel even guilty when dont read bible or even pray and say God loves, understands…Yes it is true. But we should not be lazy…need to work as faithful stewards….these are the differences. We dont like lazy sons…though sons…still sons….that is right…but those who say no work are many times lazy..
    so instead of fighting…those in NCC pls work…..dont be lazy.

  24. Interesting stuff going on here. In short, both churches preaches correct stuff. First and most important, we ARE SAVED BY GRACE. No debate. It is only through Christ that we attain eternal life. Secondly, yes we must do good work, as Jesus wanted us to be good stewards and is also mentioned in 1 Corinthians 3

    10By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

    Shows us that through Christ we are saved, but God will also judge us separately again, according to how much we shined for him. Is like you are your dad’s child forever, but he will reward you according to how obedient you are to his instructions. Yes, God will reward the more so called “hardworking” ones. If you know there are like 4 “crowns”.

    So far Meeple and Matthew has very biblical point of view. 1)faith without works, is dead! This is found in the bible, and is very self explanatory. 2)We have direct access to God because of Christ. “It is finished!” Sin no longer stands in the way between us and the Father. 3)Grace is one of the fundamentals. If we continue to harbour on it, we deprive ourselves from solid food; remaining on a diet of baby food. Maybe meeple wanna correct it a little? I guess what he/she is trying to say that actually graces and good work comes hand in hand, if you open your heart and readily accept the goodness Christ gives you, it is gonna to ooze out from you! However, I personally dont not believe in prosperity gospel – in the sense that God wants everyone to be rich, healthy and well off in all aspect, because doing that would just make christians complacent, or the fact that we have sinned, and eventually we will all die and hence sickness cant be avoided, and we just need to submit to the best will of God. For eg, when someone is terminally ill, we can pray for God’s grace and mercy, but at the same time know that God knows what best and sometimes, the best for the person (not to the ill person family though) is to bring the ill back home to be with Him.

    Alright! I babbled too much! Hear from you guys soon!

  25. To Matt,

    Yes, there’s nothing wrong with pressing in to God. But it’s probably a waste of energy as Christ has already done it for us. It’s like Martha who tried to ‘press in’ to please Jesus by doing more. Instead, Jesus had to remind her He is already pleased and all she needed to do was to commune with Him. Rather than pressing in to God, it’s better to sit at the feet of Jesus and allow Him to change and mould you.

    I like your ‘house’ analogy. It shows all the more we don’t need to press in. It’s not that hard to open the door and walk into your own house right? Yes, a conscious effort is needed, but hardly anything so tedious that it requires a pressing in. Whether we like it or not, it’s only through the blood of Christ we have access to God’s presence and that blood was spilled 2000 years ago.

  26. To Caleb,

    Good works are the evidence of a life saved by grace. But it’s very important to understand good works do not save us. That’s why the fundamental part is still a belief in the work of the cross. Thus, anything we do must be a result of that belief, rather than producing good works to justify that belief. Take the early generation Christians as an example. They believed in the gospel till they gave their lives for it. I’m sure they were not thinking since I am a Christian, I better show some good works. You can see that it’s all about the attitude and motivation.

    But didn’t James say faith without works is dead? If you read carefully, I actually believe James was questioning their faith, rather than their works. Remember Jesus always told his disciples,”Ye of little faith.”

    As for the prosperity gospel, would you want to follow a god who steals, kill and destroy? It’s good to teach about prosperity provided we teach about the One we trust our prosperity with. Yes, God wants us to be rich and healthy. That was his original intention for Adam. But since we live in a fallen world, bad things can befall Christians. But this doesn’t stop us from believing in an all powerful God who heals and makes us wealthy. We should not hold the gospel to ransom with prosperity. But we can always believe in a good God who will bless us.

  27. Hi All,
    Thanks for your sharing here.

    Just want to share a short personal testimony, which i am still struggling with.

    In one of the cell meetings, I was doing an edification on Grace. You may not believe this but it happened. The moment the word “Grace” was mentioned, the atmosphere tensioned, the defenses were up. Every statement I made was scrutinized and heavily challenged by a pro-CHC couple. They didnt make it any simpler by telling the group my teaching was wrong and dangerous. I was put down openly, undermined, and discouraged. I was basically told off for my own conviction.

    Cut the story short, I was affected; I stepped down from major ministries leadership in our overseas church (we are not CHC nor NCC).

    My point is: the influence and the power of the teachings of these 2 mega churches are evident both locally and overseas. Many listeners do sit on either extreme ends of the teachings. Not that it’s wrong or right. It’s just the way it is deposited in theirs hearts and how it may be used to encourage others. In my case, it’s unfortunate the biblical knowledge of this couple was used rather unmercifully.

    Prov 12:8 – “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing”.

    I believe we can tame our tongue better, if only we know how much our words can hurt.

    To date, I’ve stopped serving actively. I do believe our God is not a confused God. And His Word does bring peace and joy to those who hear.

    I ask that you pray for me, that God will deliver me and help me release forgiveness.

    Your distant brother in Christ,
    Troubled

  28. Hi Troubled,

    Thanks for your comments and I’m sorry about what you went through. Indeed, I’m greatly saddened by the great disagreements between pro-NCC and pro-CHC people. A lot of times, there’s a lot emotions involved in the critical comments aimed against each other, and very little substance. I’ve been interested in and been discussing theology for about 15 years of my life. And I know how horrible it can be to see Christians argue with one another over theological issues. I am not at all surprised by the great disagreement between pro-NCC and pro-CHC Christians.

    As NCC member, I love NCC even though I don’t agree with everything. I think CHC is an awesome church. In this post, while I’ve sided with NCC on a particular theological issue, I ended it by noting the positive points about CHC’s teachings. We always ought to look positively at others, I believe. That doesn’t mean not taking a stand, but whatever one feels, one should always say it in love and also openness to the fact that he/she may be wrong.

    We must continue to pray that God will bring both CHC and NCC closer together. They may not ultimately agree with each other theologically, but at least I think if they can get past their prejudices, they will see that a lot of times they are talking past one another and that they can still disagree with each other, yet be a blessing to one another.

    Already, NCC has played CHC worship music in their services, which I think is a great step of grace and humility. And Bob Fitts, a great supporter of NCC, is one of the worship leaders at Festival Of Praise (supported heavily by CHC, and featuring other worship leaders that are pro-CHC) and conducting a worship seminar at Heart of God Church, a church very closely related to CHC. So I’m glad somehow the paths of the two different churches are crossing. I firmly believe God will bring about greater reconciliation.

    Meanwhile, don’t be too discouraged that human beings fail. We’ll be praying for you.

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