Devotional - The Deceptive Hermeneutics Of Joseph Prince

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Sep 12, 2013.

  1. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery,as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. - 1Thessalonians 2: 3-5 (ESV)

    Hermeneutics is a nice fancy word for interpreting the Bible. As we continue to proceed deeper into the end times we see more and more abuses of God's Word. Many now use the Word for their own purposes instead of God's. John Piper once said:

    "The Truth of God begs to be handled with exultation. And our hearts yearn for this and need it. Something in us starts to die when precious and infinitely valuable realities are handled without feelings and words of wonder and exultation. That is, a church starts to die without preaching."

    As we see a shift away from expository preaching however we see the Bible being mishandled without this sense of exultation. Man centered theology does not seek to exult God but rather to exult man. Enter hyper-grace preaching and it's king - Joseph Prince. Mr. Prince "specializes" in preaching about the grace of God. It is a valuable, crucial portion of our faith and doctrine. It is sorely misunderstood and should be preached about so that people who are saved do not walk under the condemnation the enemy seeks to foist upon us. It is however only a portion of our doctrine. It is only a part of the Bible. To over hype any one facet of God is to neglect others at its expense. An unbalanced gospel is no gospel at all. The danger the preacher faces when he has a pre-determined objective is that he mutes what God might want to say that day. The manna is not always fresh then. When a preacher decides that his messages must support this narrow doctrinal view then he is more inclined to not pay closer attention to what those verses might actually mean. It is our job as preachers to relate what sayeth the Lord - not what sayeth man. We will now see this unfold as we examine the devotional from Joseph Prince yesterday.

    The title of the devotional from Mr. Prince was, "You Have It, So Say It!" - and it can be found here:

    The general premise as surmised by Prince is that if we would just believe that we have something, we will receive it. This is a typical sales-point in the prosperity and hyper grace movements. The extreme version of this was of course the word faith heresy which claimed that we can speak things into existence. In this very short devotional, Prince relies upon three Bible verses. Each of them he jerks out of context to prove his point and ignores what God is actually saying just to prop up his theology. We will look at each of these errors in detail. Mr. Prince's words will be underlined to differentiate. Here is how he begins:

    "Have you come across people who have little, yet even that little is taken away from them? On the other hand, there are those who already have much, yet they receive even more.Jesus said, “To everyone who has, more will be given. From him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” Notice that Jesus doesn’t go on to say what it is we have. He simply says, “But to everyone who has.”Jesus is talking about a firm belief in God’s Word that gives one the courage to say, “I have it!” If you say that you have it, you have it, and more will be given to you."

    The key verse for Mr. Prince is Matthew 25: 29, which states: ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. Taken by itself as Prince does, it seems to support his premise but the first rule of interpreting the Bible is context, context, context. Matthew 25: 29 is from the end of the Parable of the Talents and this parable has nothing to do with money. In fact, if we go to the start of the parable we can see this:

    “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servantsand entrusted to them his property. - Matthew 25: 14 (ESV)

    The key word here is "it." The usage of the word "it" clearly indicates that this parable is about something that was already being discussed. Following the context we go back another story in the chapter and see the Parable of the Ten Virgins which starts as such:

    “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. - Matthew 25: 1 (ESV)

    Jesus is speaking about the Kingdom of God. He is not speaking about prosperity. He is not speaking about grace. So what is the big deal? Prince ignores the context for his pre-conceived point he wishes to make within his hyper grace preaching angle. He says two statements, one of which is true and the other which is false:

    Jesus said, “To everyone who has, more will be given. From him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.”

    Jesus is talking about a firm belief in God’s Word that gives one the courage to say, “I have it!” If you say that you have it, you have it, and more will be given to you."

    The first statement is true. Jesus did say this. The second statement is false. It is an interpretation made ignoring the context of the verse. I have heard some poor Bible teachers actually say that there are no incorrect interpretations. That is absurd. God has a reason for His Word. He has a purpose for His Word. It is not our job to interject our own desires but rather to discern His. Jesus is talking about the Kingdom of God. He is not talking about a firm belief in God's Word that give us courage to say "I have it!." This is the text book reason why you cannot take a Bible verse out of context. Prince however would continue to misuse the Bible to support his pre-conceived objective:

    When you need something, God says that you are to ask of Him. And when you ask, believe that you receive it. (Mark 11:24) Say you already have it even if you don’t see it in the physical realm yet, and one day, you will see it!

    Prince now shifts to the Gospel of Mark where we find this verse:

    Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. - Mark 11: 24 (NIV)

    Prince puts forth three principles here that he claims are supported by this verse from Mark. The three principles are:

    - When you need something, ask God.
    - When you ask, believe that you will receive it.
    - Say you already have it and one day you will see it.

    What is missing from this quasi-word-faith equation? How about the sovereignty of God? John Gill's Exposition of the Bible has the following note for this section:

    "whatsoever things ye desire when ye pray; - that is, according to the revealed will of God, is for the confirmation of his Gospel, and for the glory of his name:"

    Prince presents this as almost a magical power that all believers possess. Just say that you have it and voila! One day you will! No beloved. It does not work like that. Once saved we are supposed to have the mind of Christ. We are supposed to be transformed into His image day by day. The concerns of God should become our concerns. As Gill points out here the things we are to pray for are supposed to be in line with the revealed will of God! They should confirm His Gospel! They should bring glory to His name! Prince makes no mention of God here. A man-centered gospel rarely does. When YOU need something, ask. When YOU ask, believe. When YOU say it, one day you will have it. Hallelujah, pass the offering plate! Mr. Prince however, was not done yet...

    God is not saying, “Oh come on, pretend that you see it. And if you pretend long enough, you will have it.” This is not a game! God is telling us to call forth those things which don’t exist as though they do. (Romans 4:17)

    This is not a game Mr. Prince. That is the only accurate thing said here. These verses are clearly NOT telling us to call forth those things which don't exist as though they do!

    As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. - Romans 4: 17 (NIV)

    Who is it that calls things that were not as though they were? God! Nowhere does this say that God is asking us to do this at all. In fact, this is how Barnes Notes on the Bible summarize this verse:

    And calleth … - That is, those things which he foretels and promises are so certain, that he may speak of them as already in existence. Thus, in relation to Abraham, God, instead of simply promising that he would make him the father of many nations, speaks of it as already done, “I have made thee,” etc. In his own mind, or purpose, he had so constituted him, and it was so certain that it would take place, that he might speak of it as already done.

    Do you understand the context here beloved? God is so reliable and certain that when He speaks in foretelling - that is things that have not come to pass yet - He can do so as if they are already in existence. The example given within the context is Abraham because here was God foretelling to Abraham:

    No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. - Genesis 17: 5 (NIV)

    At this point in time Abraham was NOT a father of many nations yet God refers to this eventuality as a current fact. THAT is how reliable the Word of God is! To then take this glorious attribute of God and apply it to depraved man is patently ridiculous and a severe abuse of His Word. This is what happens however when you abandon solid hermeneutics for the sake of a pre-conceived theology that cares not for proper context and what God is actually saying. Please keep in mind that this is just one devotional from Prince. It is less than 400 words yet contains so many things that are wrong within the hyper-grace and prosperity movements, as well as the purpose driven and seeker-friendly models of church growth. Anything that takes to focus off God and place it onto man leads to this. Here is the conclusion from Prince:

    Today, we are talking about the haves and have-nots in the church. If you believe that it is yours, you will have it. You will see yourself possessing it and enjoying it, and more will be given to you. But if you say, “Well, I don’t feel it and I’m not sure if it will come,” in essence, you are saying that you don’t have it when you actually do. Then, even what you have will be taken away. So say you have it today!

    The haves and have nots in church??? What exactly is that supposed to mean? Has Prince reduced everything down to money and earthly prosperity? I will tell you the true nature of the haves and have nots in church today. There are those that truly have Jesus, whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life, and who are living the eternal life now as pilgrims and sojourners through this world. Then there are those who are churched but have not Jesus. As such they do not have eternal life, are not written in the Lamb's Book of Life, and when they stand before Christ will be told to depart for He knew them not. As such, they chase after doctrines which tickle their itching ears. They chase doctrines of devils which sell worldly prosperity instead of the riches found in Christ Jesus. They chase the words of charlatans such as Joseph Prince because it is pleasing to the ear to hear that we just have to speak into existence everything we want in our lives. It is pleasing to our flesh to hear that we can magically speak into existence that which is not. Of course God never said these things - only Joseph Prince has. Choose to whom you will believe and place your faith in today very carefully.

    I chose the key verses today because it fit so well. It should serve as a reminder to those that will bring the Word of God. That we do so not from a place of error, impurity or any attempt to deceive. We have been entrusted with the Gospel. Do we understand that? The God of the entire universe has entrusted us with His Gospel! As such, we must always strive to please God - not man. We must seek out what God is saying, not what might support our predilections. God tests our hearts! So if you see a gospel being preached that flatters you by saying that you can do things the Bible says only God can do - run! If you see a gospel being preached that divides the body of Christ into financial haves and have nots as a pretext for a doctrine of greed - run! God is witness beloved. God is always witness.

    Reverend Anthony Wade - September 12, 2013

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