Friday, October 10, 2014

My Review Of Joseph Mattera's Review Of "Destined To Reign" - Part 3d

For the past year, Charisma Magazine has been running many articles against the grace gospel, labeling it "Hyper Grace". One of those articles was written by a regular contributor, Joseph Mattera  (JM). It is a short review of Pastor Joseph Prince's first book, "Destined To Reign" (D2R). Perhaps tellingly, the title of the article was not something along the lines of "Book review: book title" but a rather provocative "Is Joseph Prince's Radical Grace Teaching Biblical?"

Typical of a few reviews of  D2R which I have read, this review also follows the same pattern: "Well, D2R is generally OK, got some useful tips for new Christians BUT...", and these "buts" actually contradict the very essence of what Pastor Prince is trying to teach in his book. JM listed down 7 "buts" and I will deal with them one by one.

I have dealt with JM's first and second "buts" (which you can read here1 and here2) and will now tackle the third "but".  To facilitate my review of JM's book review, I will reproduce excerpts (in blue) here but you can read JM's full article by clicking his article title (highlighted in bold) above.

However, as JM's third "but" is rather long, I shall break it up into several sub points and rebut them one by one (you can read part 3a here, 3b here and 3c here).



3. Prince Doesn’t Clearly Define the Role of the Moral Law of God  
Prince brings out the fact that Paul calls the Ten Commandments the "ministration of death" in 2 Corinthians 3:7 (KJV). However, I would counter that in spite of this, Paul and the other New Testament writers continually used the Ten Commandments as the standard of ethics for the church. The ministration of death has to do with the fact that without Christ, we are all guilty before God—a point we all agree with. Galatians 3:24 calls the law our schoolmaster that leads us to Christ; thus, it is a standard of holiness that brings conviction and leads us to depend on the grace of Christ to fulfill it. Romans 8:4 clearly teaches us the Holy Spirit empowers us to fulfill the righteous requirements of the law; thus, it’s standards are still a requirement for functional holiness. Furthermore, the strength of sin is the law (1 Cor. 15:56).   
But the point of the New Testament is that Jesus gives us the power to live righteously through His Spirit. It is not just imputed righteousness from Christ with no obligation on our part. When we break the Ten Commandments, that is still a sin that we believers have to repent of and confess to the Lord for forgiveness.   
I do agree with Prince that we need to be Christ-focused and Christ-conscious to have victory over sin and that we can only have faith and grace to walk in victory through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness—not our own merit. Where we depart ways is that I contend the Ten Commandments are still necessary as our standard for how Jesus wants us to live by His power and grace. The law doesn’t save us. It reminds us of our sinfulness and, as a schoolmaster, leads us to depend on Christ alone.   
To summarize this point, I don’t agree with Prince when he says we don’t need the law to govern our behavior—we just need grace, he says—because, in my perspective, grace uses the standard of the moral law, as is repeated over and over in the New Testament.

JM quotes Galatians 3:24 to say that the law "is a standard of holiness that brings conviction and leads us to depend on the grace of Christ to fulfill it". Perhaps JM should take to heart what Paul said before verse 24 for the proper context:


Galatians 3:1-5 (J.B. Phillips, emphasis in bold mine)
O you dear idiots of Galatia, who saw Jesus Christ the crucified so plainly, who has been casting a spell over you? I will ask you one simple question: did you receive the Spirit of God by trying to keep the Law or by believing the message of the Gospel? Surely you can’t be so idiotic as to think that a man begins his spiritual life in the Spirit and then completes it by reverting to outward observances? Has all your painful experience brought you nowhere? I simply cannot believe it of you! Does God, who gives you his Spirit and works miracles among you, do these things because you have obeyed the Law or because you have believed the Gospel? Ask yourselves that.
Paul has said it so clearly that we do not complete our spiritual life by reverting to obeying the law. Certainly the grace of Christ does not help you to fulfill it. Why do we still need to fulfill the law when Christ himself has fulfilled it! Jesus said it himself that it is His mission, not yours: "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill." (Matt 5:17, NKJV) 

JM quotes Romans 8:4 to say that "the Holy Spirit empowers us to fulfill the righteous requirements of the law". However, JM has again quoted out of context because verse 4 is part of a sentence that begins in verse 3, which provides the proper context for verse 4. Let's take a look:


Romans 8:3-4 (NKJV, emphasis in bold mine) 
3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Clearly, we can see that God sent His own Son, Jesus Christ to condemn sin in the flesh that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us. Read carefully. Verse 4 says the law might be fulfilled IN us, not BY us. The law was fulfilled BY Christ, and it is fulfilled IN us because of Christ IN us, the hope of glory (Col 1:27)

JM seems to be confused by his own contradicting arguments. Let's take a look at his flow of logic:
Furthermore, the strength of sin is the law (1 Cor. 15:56)

I do agree with Prince that we need to be Christ-focused and Christ-conscious to have victory over sin and that we can only have faith and grace to walk in victory through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness—not our own merit.

The law doesn’t save us. It reminds us of our sinfulness and, as a schoolmaster, leads us to depend on Christ alone. 

I contend the Ten Commandments are still necessary as our standard for how Jesus wants us to live by His power and grace.


JM agrees that the law does not save us but leads us to depend on Christ alone, who then leads us back again to the law??? How can that be? The law is finished! By Christ himself! 


John 19:30 (NKJV)
So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

Mark 15:37-38
And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last. Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

Paul confirms this in Romans 10:4 - "
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
"


IT IS FINISHED!

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