Saturday, February 11, 2017

Brown, Prince, and the Grace of God

Jewish Christian and Apologist Michael Brown finally me with radical grace preacher Joseph Prince of Singapore.

Brown has been a vocal concerted voice of concern regarding "hyper-grace", or the idea that preaching grace means that the hearers believe they can commit sins and not care.

Brown has further advocated for adherence to the Ten Commandments as a guide for living and that none of us should dispense with the Law.

Finally, they had a meeting together, long after Brown had engaged in criticizing a number of the words and comments found in Joseph Prince's teachings, preachings, and writings.

Here is the interview/meeting between Michael Brown and Joseph Prince:

On Friday, Jan. 20, while ministering in Singapore, I had the pleasure of spending two and a half hours with Pastor Joseph Prince, delving into the Scriptures in Hebrew and Greek, discussing the points on which we differed and highlighting the points on which we agreed. Without a doubt, the points on which we agreed far outnumbered and outweighed those on which we differed.

One verse comes to mind:

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1)

I notice that Pastor Prince and Pastor Brown met together on January 20th, the same day as President Donald Trump's official nomination.

When I wrote the book Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Movement, I reached out to the main authors I quoted in the book, asking them for permission to quote their writings if I went beyond the normal publishing guidelines, also asking them if they would like to reconsider any of their positions.

But I did not reach out to Pastor Prince, wrongly assuming he would not be interested in dialoguing with me based on my experience with some previous leaders who refused to interact. I apologized to him for my failure to do so, and he graciously received that apology.


A lot of the confusion about the Gospel of Grace comes from false assumptions and a resistance to meet and discuss issues. Isn't it interesting, then, that the full revelation of the Gospel comes to us because we simply allow God to invite us to Himself and allow Him to save us?

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1:18)

He also wanted to make clear that he strongly differed with the positions of some of the others I quoted in my book, and what grieved him was not that I misrepresented his position when citing him but rather that he was cited side-by-side with some others whose views he strongly rejected.

It's an issue of association.

Additionally, Pastor Prince felt that I have not accurately represented those who follow his Bible teachings regularly and how this has helped many around the world lead disciplined, holy, victorious and Christ-centered lives. He explained that his ministry office regularly receives testimonies from people who have been set free from the destructive bondage of sin, from those who have been liberated from the shackles of pornography and from those set free from severe drug addictions through his preaching of the gospel of grace.

"Christ-centered lives", and I can only indicate further: Christ Jesus is our life!

"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." (Colossians 3:4)

Although I gladly acknowledged those testimonies and said I also heard similar stories from those who follow his teachings (because of the wonderful truths he delivered) I reiterated that I had also heard opposite stories from those who had become complacent and fleshly (because of what I believed were errors in his teaching).

Here we find the issue.

The errors are not in what Pastor Prince has shared, but what the hearers had chosen to believe or act on.

Pastor Prince maintains clearly that those who have become complacent and fleshly do not understand the gospel of grace, and he would be the first to warn them that they are not living under God's grace and to share with them Romans 6:14: "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law but under grace." He believes beyond a shadow of a doubt that people who have an accurate revelation of God's grace have the power to lead holy and victorious Christian lives. For Pastor Prince (and of course, for me as well), grace is not the license to sin; it is the power to break free from the bondage of sin.

Grace produces empowerment. God's favor actually does many things for us:

"11For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." (Titu 2: 11-14)

If people say that they are under grace, but embrace inaction and sloth, they are lying!

It's just that simple.

Our principal area of disagreement remains his teaching that the moment we are saved, our future sins are already pronounced forgiven (in contrast with the idea that our future sins are paid for but sin is not pronounced forgiven until it is committed and brought to the Lord). But to repeat, our areas of strong and vibrant agreement are much greater than our areas of disagreement, and I want to shout out those areas of agreement to the world.

I would like to understand further why Brown believes this.

And how does he understand sin? Does he recognize the status as well as the actions?

First, we both agree that it's all about Jesus. He must be central. He must be the focus of our lives. We must draw all people to Him and His atoning work on the cross. Pastor Prince also said that, rather than just say, "Jesus, Jesus" all the time, we should get back to the biblical emphasis: Lord Jesus. And I say Amen to exalting Jesus as Lord.

Jesus is central. Period. Either you believe it, or you do not.

"And he is before all things, and by him all things consist." (Colossians 1:17)

Second, we both agree that many (if not most) believers often struggle with guilty consciences, failing to realize the depth of God's love for them and failing to understand what Jesus did on their behalf, and so it is essential to ground them in grace. I also shared with Pastor Prince that whenever I teach on the errors of hyper-grace, I begin by extolling God's true grace, seeking first to open us that glorious revelation. And I told him that, at FIRE School of Ministry, in the first semester, we do our best to ground our students in the love of God and in their identity in Jesus.

Third, we both agree that God calls us to holiness, sin is terribly destructive, and true grace will be manifest in a holy life. Prior to our time together, he sent me a compilation of video clips in which he stated plainly that if a man in his congregation claims to be a believer and is living in adultery, he will tell that person plainly he is not living under grace (otherwise sin would not have dominion over him) and needs to repent, drop that other woman and go back to his wife. He said he would also question whether that man was a real believer, since a true believer may fall into sin but will not practice sin.

"Sin is destructive" -- no arguments here. Yet condemnation does not break people free!

In his own words (from a forthcoming chapter he wrote for a joint compilation on grace), "If you hear of any 'grace' teaching that tells you it is all right to sin, to live without any regard for the Lord, and that there are no consequences to sin, my advice to you is to flee from that teaching. You have just been exposed to counterfeit grace. Genuine grace teaches that believers in Christ are called to live holy, blameless and above reproach. It teaches that sin always produces destructive consequences and it is only through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ that one can be set free from the dominion of sin."

If you are under grace, your life will produce holy results!

He then asks, "So how do we know if someone is truly living under the grace of God?"

His answer: "We look at their lives."

"Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" (Matthew 7:16)


"Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works." (James 2:18)

And so, "If someone is leaving his wife for his secretary and tells you he is under 'grace,' tell this person that he is not under grace but under deception! ... Genuine grace doesn't compromise God's holy standards and condone sin; it is the answer that gives people power to live glorious lives zealous for good works."

Pastors Joseph Prince and Michael Brown

BAM! Could not say it better!

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32)

Fourth, we both agree that sanctification is progressive, meaning the moment we are saved, we are forgiven, declared righteous, and set apart as holy, but now we must grow in holiness. To quote his own words again, "true grace does teach progressive sanctification," and, "As believers, we cannot become more righteous, but we can become more sanctified or holy in terms of how we live our lives. ... The more one grows in grace—the more one is washed again and again by the water of the word of God's grace—the more one grows in sanctification and holiness."

Yes, indeed!

"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12:2)


"But ye have not so learned Christ; 21If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Ephesians 4: 20-24)

He rejected strongly the idea, put forth by another "grace teacher," that progressive sanctification is a "spiritually murderous lie."

Fifth, we both agree that the Lord corrects us, and even disciplines us, and we both agree that included in the preaching of grace is the calling to "exhort, and rebuke with all authority" (see Titus 2:15). We agree that true born-again believers will feel uncomfortable in their sins (because of their born-again spirits and because of the Holy Spirit) and will have a genuine desire to find a way out of sin. We agree that the only way out of sin is to point people to Jesus.


Pastor Prince believes the primary role of the Holy Spirit is to remind us we are the righteousness of God in Christ (see 2 Cor. 5:21, John 16: 10) and that this understanding is critically important in helping people to turn from sin. While I also believe that this is an important role of the Spirit, I believe His primary role when we sin is to lovingly reprove and correct us, thereby pointing us back to the Father (see Rev. 3:19, 22). Obviously, these two emphases go hand in hand.

Pastor Brown believes that his view is in conflict with Pastor Prince's revelation.

They are not in conflict, but in concert.

To be convicted of our righteousness in Christ leads to conflict with sinful behavior or wrong beliefs, which in turn we reject as we grow in grace!

I'm sure Pastor Prince will come under attack for meeting with me and welcoming me warmly as a brother, and I'm sure I will come under attack for doing the same with him. And so, to each of you who find fault with us for having this dialogue in the Lord, I encourage you to pray for us and, more importantly, to ask yourself if you too agree with our points of agreement here. If so, join us in shouting them out to the rest of the church.

May God's true grace be exalted; may counterfeit grace be exposed.


Where was the point of conflict, then, in Pastor Brown and Pastor Prince's understand of grace?

Our principal area of disagreement remains his teaching that the moment we are saved, our future sins are already pronounced forgiven (in contrast with the idea that our future sins are paid for but sin is not pronounced forgiven until it is committed and brought to the Lord). But to repeat, our areas of strong and vibrant agreement are much greater than our areas of disagreement, and I want to shout out those areas of agreement to the world.

First question:

Where were all our sins when Jesus died on the Cross?

They were ALL in the future!

Second question: Is Jesus' blood worth less than that of a bull or a goat?

Consider that under the Old Covenant, the blood of bulls and goats covered the conscience, atoned for sin for one year -- or even an entire day.

It's about the blood, not about us!

What does the Bible say?

"And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;" (Colossians 2:13)

Second question:

How does one define sin? Does Dr. Brown recognize sin as both a noun and a verb?

Sin as a noun speaks to the deep scar of being separated, dead and separated from our loving Father.

It's deeper than what we do, but who we are.

And that leads to a third question for Dr. Brown:

How does Dr. Brown respond to this verse:

"1My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:1-2)

Notice that Jesus is our advocate when we sin - and He is forever the mercy seat just for our sins but the sins of the entire world!

Every person in the world has a High Priest Forever serving as their Mercy Seat.

But do they believe it?

"Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." (John 6:29)

What a key dynamic missing in this discussion?

That Jesus is our life!

Jesus did not just take care of our "sin" problem.

He took care of the "Dead' problem.

Man is dead in his trespasses. He needs life!

And Jesus is The Life!

By allowing Jesus to live in us and through us, His favor flows through us!

One more question:

Are we called to live by the 10 Commandments? Or do we allow His life to live and guide us?

Pastor Brown has suggested that God's law placed within us is ... the 10 Commandments.

Not true.

The 10 Commandments already exist within every person:

"Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another; " (Romans 2:15)

He places within our hearts the law of life, love, and faith!

But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people." (Jeremiah 31:33)

Now this law is not the 10 Commandments necessarily, since God shared similar hope with Isaac and used his father Abraham as an example:

"Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." (Genesis 26:5)

How did Abraham obey God?

He believed on Him!

"And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." (Genesis 15:6)

Which bring us right back to what Jesus said to the Israelites of His day:

"This is the work of God -- believe on Him whom He has sent!"

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