What grace teacher Joseph Prince keeps missing

I believe in the Grace Revolution, but we have to deal with it completely, covering topics that are difficult. If we don’t, then  biblically literate Christians who have been steeped in legalism or semi-legalism will reject it.

Pastor Prince is a fine Bible teacher in Galatians and Romans and Genesis and 2 Corinthians 3. (His typology and numerology, though intriguing, are a little out my bailiwick and depth.)

His insight that 3,000 were killed at the foot of Mt. Sinai when the law was given, while 3,000 were saved at Pentecost is enlightening. His insight that Israel’s sins before the law was given in Exodus 19 were not punished, while the same sins after that chapter were punished is equally inspiring. Also, there are no recorded deaths from after the Red Sea to Exod. 19, but as soon as the law of Moses was given in that chapter, deaths happened often enough.

It is insights like those that make me realize he has a “flow” and a special grace, called the anointing, to unfold the more straightforward gospel of grace in Paul’s epistles.

For example, imagine how Paul relates the law at Sinai to 2 Cor. 3. In that chapter and in Romans 3:21-31; 4:15; 7:1-6, for example, the Ten Commandments and the old law generally can bring wrath and death.

Yet it is here, in Paul’s epistles, that Pastor Prince misses it. For example, he calls the last three chapter of Ephesians “application” of the first three chapters. Fair enough, up to a point, for he doesn’t give a prolonged teaching from those last chapters. Yes, it is an application, but what he misses goes deeper than the “application” label.

Anyone who has studied the last three chapters of Ephesians knows that the verbs are in the imperative, e.g. “Husbands, love your wives.” The verb love is a command or imperative. And any command like that one is classified as moral law; it may not be written down in a nation’s code book, but if citizens of the nation were to live by moral law written in Ephesians 4-6, then society would be better off.

Ironically, Pastor Prince will often “apply” this moral law while he’s in the middle of his grace message. He will exhort his church, for example, not to fall into the trap of loving money or not loving their wives–or he will tell them how to raise their kids. He gives them commands directly from the ethical teachings–the New Covenant moral law–without realizing, seemingly, that he is “imposing” law on them. Granted, it is not the Old Law of Moses, but it is still a law.

Yet Prince makes much of his not mixing law and grace. But that’s what he keeps missing. He does in fact mix the two, but he apparently doesn’t see it. If the word mixing is too strong, then let’s call it teaching both law and grace in the same sermon without his announcing (and perhaps even realizing) that he’s doing this.

But that’s okay. Paul would not disagree with Pastor Prince, were Paul to overhear Prince’s message on any given Sunday that mentions moral law and grace. Paul, after all, ends his epistles with ethical commands: “Do this! And don’t do that!”

To repeat a very important point, those verbs are in the imperative. They are commands. They are a moral law for the Christian living in the New Covenant.

Yes, I believe in the Grace Revolution, but we shortchange and misunderstand the whole gospel–Paul’s message in the epistles–if we ignore the “application” portion of it. Pastor Prince doesn’t completely ignore it; he just doesn’t realize, seemingly, that he is imposing, in passing, new commands–a new law–on his congregation, even though he announces that he is a “pure grace” teacher.

The Reformers, especially Luther, were right. They understood the law and grace message better than most do today. They extensively taught both, but without mixing it. Tough to do.

Pastor Prince, I really like your grace teaching (which you call more than a message; it’s the person of Christ). But I look forward to your giving an extended series on the role of law in Paul’s epistles–even if merely moral law apart from the Law of Moses.

Paul, the apostle of grace, would discuss law and grace with New Covenant believers, were he alive today (he did it in the first century).

So should you in the twenty-first century, as you lead the Grace Revolution.

Related:

The Grace Revolution

Two kinds of righteousness;

What John Bevere missed in his interview with Leon Fontaine;

Glowing and growing or sloppy faith v. legalistic faith;

Ten Commandments: God’s Great Compromise with humanity’s big failure: explains the grace message in a nutshell, as it relates to the Law of Moses.

The law in Paul’s theology, which looks at every passage that mentions the Greek word nomos or law (or other words like “written code”).

The Wrath of God in the Old Testament: “the Law Brings Wrath

The Wrath of God in the New Testament: Never against his New Covenant Community;

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