This post contains some of my thoughts on Pastor Joseph Prince’s sermon titled “Will the Real Gospel Please Stand Up?”
In Jude 1: 3-4
3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (ESV)
Some people argued that the gospel of grace preached by Pastor Prince is perverting the grace of God and encouraging licentiousness and points to verse 4 above as proof. But I think this is an inappropriate reference.
Firstly, the perversion referred to here leads not only to sensuality or licentiousness but a denial of Christ. The connecting word is “and” which means both must happen. So, this perversion leads to both licentiousness AND the denial of Christ as Master and Lord.
Pastor Prince has always upheld the lordship of Jesus Christ and Him as the only way to eternal life. He places Christ squarely in the centre of our lives. His weekly sermons exhorts us to read, study and meditate on the Word of God and uncover God’s love for us.
His focus on the gift of righteousness and on the goodness of God makes people uncomfortable because it seems to be condoning sin. But he isn’t.
He is telling people THAT to stop sinning and lead holy lives is not to keep thinking about how to stop sinning and replace that with occupation with Christ and meditating on how good he is.
Stop focusing on oneself and look to Jesus. Remember this hymn?
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full into his wonderful face
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace
I think I can say with some confidence that the goal of all believers is to live right, that is, to have a meaningful and abundant life, filled with God’s presence. But the way to live right is to believe right. So, what’s right believing?
Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.
There is no condition in this proclamation. Everyone who believes is freed from the bondage that come with the law of Moses.
In Deuteronomy, it is clear that the law of Moses is basically conditional love. God blesses only if we obey. But Christ’s love isn’t. For whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
I think this is so true. Recently, I realised that I have over-reacted to someone’s comment. I immediately felt really bad. That out-of-sort feeling is quite uncomfortable. And this isn’t even a big thing. Yet, when I could stop thinking about how I could have responded better and focused on the truth that I am still accepted by God, peace came to my heart and I can move on knowing that God will help me be gentler next time.
1. What about the wrath of God? Is God still angry with us?
The answer is no.
Because his wrath had been appeased once and for all at the cross. Or do we not believe that Christ’s redemptive work is complete and perfect? If perfect and complete, it would cover all our future failings would it not?
2. What is the whole counsel of God?
This phrase appears only in Acts 20:24-32 sandwiched between Paul saying that he had been faithful testifying to the gospel of the grace of God AND commending his audience to the word of His grace.
24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
25 And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again.
26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all,
27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.
28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.
32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
Think about the historical context of Paul’s message here. Who was he contending with?
What is the most prevalent religion and beliefs of the land?
Isn’t it Judaism? And what was missing from Judaism?
Isn’t it the saving grace of Christ?
In Romans and Hebrews, Paul spoke strongly against those who want to re-introduce rituals and practices that will once again be used to “measure” one’s faith and state of salvation.