Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written aboutlong ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. - Jude 1: 3-4 (NIV) I love the key verses for today from the short Book of Jude. Right at the start of the letter, Jude admits that he really had wanted to write about the salvation we all share. So many times I wish to simply write about and share about some great unifying principles as well. To speak to that which brings us together in Christ. But as Jude laments here, I feel I must urge us all to contend for the faith. Why? Two reasons. First of all this faith was entrusted to us as God's holy people. It is not some casual thing to have something entrusted to you by God. Secondly however, Jude teaches us that we must contend for the faith because of the proliferation of false teaching infiltrating the church itself. These wolves have secretly slipped in amongst us. While they may certainly appear religious, they are ungodly people. They pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and by doing so they deny the true Christ. Remember the words of the Apostle Paul: But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! - Galatians 1: 8-9 (NIV) So we come back again to Joseph Prince; a man who readily admits that he preaches a different gospel. It is a gospel of grace according to him but we have come to know it as hyper-grace. The false teachings of hyper-grace are expanding in this country as more and more television charlatans are jumping on the bandwagon. It sometimes can be more difficult to spot the problems because so much of what Joesph Prince says is correct. I think sometimes we get this notion that false teachers are easy to spot or that everything they say must somehow be false. The truth is very difficult to spot sometimes and impossible without developing discernment and approaching the Bible as the Bereans did. There is a reason the Bible teaches us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. It doesn't say to work it out in the security ministry after completing your SHAPE application. It doesn't say to work it out by acting in the Christmas Cantata or doing a faux missions trip once per year. Fear and trembling beloved because the days are short and while my flesh might prefer the "amens" generated from talking about the great salvation we share I feel compelled by the Holy Spirit of God to instead talk again about contending for the faith. So it was that this morning I came upon Joseph Prince preaching on television. It was part of his new series on "right thinking", which appears designed to enhance sales of his new book. For most of the half hour I was nodding in agreement as he went through some correct thinking about Jesus and the blood and had someone come onstage dressed as the High Priest of Israel to explain the items the priest wore. But then as Prince so often does, he jumped off the theological cliff in pursuit of anything to support his gospel of hyper-grace. He tried to teach about the parable of the 99 and 1 from Luke's Gospel: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shouldersand goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. - Luke 15: 4-7 (NIV) At this point Prince reflect upon how he was always confused by how this parable ended and he exasperatingly asks - "where did the sheep repent?" He went on to "teach" that the shepherd went to find the sheep. The shepherd found the sheep and placed the sheep on his shoulders. The shepherd then brought the sheep back but where exactly did the sheep repent? His next quote cuts to the heart of the dangers of hyper-grace and the importance of discernment: "We have all these crazy ideas about repentance but all it really means is to consent to be loved." No. No. A hundred times - no. First of all, let us correct the interpretive errors. The sheep is an allegory Mr. Prince. A sheep in and of itself cannot "sin" nor "repent." Yet as the unrepentant sinner is lost in the spiritual sense, a sheep can easily get lost in the physical sense. Mr. Prince strikes me as an educated man so I am baffled that he would truly be expecting an animal to repent. If there is any more confusion, I would direct him to the full context of the story: Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus told them this parable: - Luke 15: 1-3 (NIV) This is a recurring habit within the preaching of Pastor Prince. But scripture shopping while ignoring context recreates what God intended into what man desires. It leads people away from the truth of God. The dangerous inference made by Prince should be obvious - you don't need to repent because the sheep didn't! You just need to consent to be lovingly picked up and placed upon the shoulders of Jesus. It reminded me of the show that preceded this episode where TD Jakes had his wife lead viewers in the "sinners prayer" without ONE mention of sin or repentance. Not One! Just a mishmash of human wisdom, exploiting emotions and asking Jesus to "step into your heart"; followed by a presumptuous - how do you feel now! All of this is completely unscriptural nonsense. The opening of the parable shows that Jesus was responding to the accusation that He hangs out with sinners! That is what this parable is about. That is what the Bible is all about! God is holy and we are sinners. Christ came to save us and reunite us with God but we must turn from our sins beloved! We must truly repent! Here are the words of Jesus Himself defining the Gospel: After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” - Mark 1: 15 (NIV) Repent and believe! So what is the practical application? What is the big deal? Why was Jude so adamant in his compulsion to sound the alarm? Why do I remain likewise convinced? The end is coming soon beloved. Christ stands at the door. He is coming back for HIS church. Not any church. Not all churches. HIS church. The fastest growing mission field in the world can be found in the pews of American churches. It is real simple. If people are led to believe that repent means to hang out on the shoulders of Jesus and consent to be loved then they will never actually repent. They will remain in darkness while some smooth talking huckster in a thousand dollar suit and a new book to sell will assure them they are saved when they most certainly are not. In this same sermon Prince said that the pulpit is not the place to tell people how bad they are because, "they already know. " With all due respect, they do not. If they did there would not be hundreds of thousands of people following such heretical teachings without batting an eyelash. They would recognize when someone changes the definition of the word repentance. They would be able to discern the false from the truth. Rev. Anthony.