Thursday, March 8, 2018

“The anointing” as found in the Church today: scriptural or not?

The Elijah Challenge

Vine’s Dictionary offers us the following explanation about “anointing”:

The Old Testament most commonly uses the Hebrew word mashach to indicate “anointing” in the sense of a special setting apart for an office or function. Thus, Elisha was “anointed” to be a prophet. More typically, kings were “anointed” for their office.

In the Old Testament before King Saul, there were only anointed priests and priestly objects. No one had ever been anointed as a king until Saul. Let’s see how this came about.

The Israelites reject the Lord as their king

The prophet Samuel was faithful in Israel as a prophet, but because his sons were corrupt they were rejected by the people.

1 Samuel 8:5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” 6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.

By requesting a king like the gentile nations around them, the Israelites essentially rejected the Lord as their king. What would their king require of them? Among other obligations, he would require a tithe from them.

15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. …17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. …19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”

The Israelites wanted to be “like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” Instead of trusting the Lord to lead them and go out before them and fight their battles, they preferred a human king. The insistence on having a king offended God; it was certainly not His will for His people. Nevertheless, God allowed them to have their way. But there would be consequences.

Let’s now turn our attention to Saul.

Saul, “the Lord’s anointed”

1 Samuel 9:2 Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else.

Saul was physically impressive in the sight of the people. Before the Lord chose Saul to be their king, he reminded them a second time that they had rejected God who saved them out of all their disasters and calamities.

1 Samuel 10:19 But you have now rejected your God, who saves you out of all your disasters and calamities. And you have said, ‘No, appoint a king over us.’ So now present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and clans.”

Time and time again the Lord had shown himself faithful to deliver them from danger. But the stiff-necked Israelites would have none of it. They stubbornly rejected God and demanded a human king. But the man best suited for the job as deliverer of the Israelites was all too human.

1 Samuel 10:22 So they inquired further of the LORD, “Has the man come here yet?” And the LORD said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.”

Saul led the Israelites in some victories

Saul of course was in time able to overcome his initial timidity. He even had some successes leading the Israelites against their enemies.

1 Samuel 11:11 The next day Saul separated his men into three divisions; during the last watch of the night they broke into the camp of the Ammonites and slaughtered them until the heat of the day. Those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.

After this great victory Saul was confirmed as king with great celebration

1 Samuel 11:12 The people then said to Samuel, “Who was it that asked, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Turn these men over to us so that we may put them to death.” 13 But Saul said, “No one will be put to death today, for this day the LORD has rescued Israel.” 14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingship.” 15 So all the people went to Gilgal and made Saul king in the presence of the LORD. There they sacrificed fellowship offerings before the LORD, and Saul and all the Israelites held a great celebration.

After that, for the first time in Scripture Saul was referred to as the Lord’s “anointed.”

1 Samuel 12:3 Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the LORD and his anointed. …5 Samuel said to them, “The LORD is witness against you, and also his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.”

Emphatically again for a third time: the evil of asking for a “king”

Perhaps for a good reason, Scripture reminds us of how evil it is in the sight of God to ask for a king. Yet God allows it and sets a “king” over us. Look how God reprimanded the Israelites through Samuel.

1 Samuel 12:7 Now then, stand here, because I am going to confront you with evidence before the LORD as to all the righteous acts performed by the LORD for you and your ancestors. …12 “But when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites was moving against you, you said to me, ‘No, we want a king to rule over us’—even though the LORD your God was your king. 13 Now here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for; see, the LORD has set a king over you.

…16 “Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes! 17 Is it not wheat harvest now? I will call on the LORD to send thunder and rain. And you will realize what an evil thing you did in the eyes of the LORD when you asked for a king.” …19 The people all said to Samuel, “Pray to the LORD your God for your servants so that we will not die, for we have added to all our other sins the evil of asking for a king.”

Note that even though Saul was referred to as the Lord’s anointed, the Lord made it abundantly clear through the thunder and rain that the request of the Israelites for a king was evil and sinful in his sight.

Cracks appear in Saul’s armor

It did not take long for the human nature of the anointed king to get the best of him, and he disobeyed the command of the Lord to wait for Samuel to come to Gilgal to offering the burnt offering. Instead he presumptuously did it himself.

1 Samuel 13:13 “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.”

Saul continued to lead the Israelites in their conflict against their various enemies and did manage to accomplish victories, although not without struggles. Then he disobeyed the Lord’s clear command once again by sparing the captured enemy king Agag.

1 Samuel 15:8 He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. 9  But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs–everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.

God regrets giving in to the demand of the Israelites

Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the LORD all that night. Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.” (1Sa 15:11-12)

We see the Lord’s anointed setting up a monument in his own honor. Can this be considered simply an isolated case, or does this type of self-promotion ever take place among the Lord’s “anointed” servants today as well?

When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The LORD bless you! I have carried out the LORD’s instructions.” But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?” (1Sa 15:13-14)

Saul’s hypocrisy in greeting Samuel with the Lord’s blessing and self-congratulations is almost laughable were it not so tragic. What was Saul’s reason for his disobeying Samuel’s instructions and sparing some of the plunder?

Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.” (1Sa 15:15)

The reason Saul spared the best of the sheep and cattle was “to sacrifice to the LORD your God.” Servants of God may cite the motivation “for the glory of God” as the factor behind some action or practice. But Samuel saw through Saul and rebuked him harshly for his outright disobedience.

But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.” (1Sa 15:22-23)

Saul admits his sin in violating the Lord’s command.

Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the LORD’s command and your instructions. (1Sa 15:24)

But this time there would be no forgiveness for “the Lord’s anointed.” It is possible to cross the line with God.

But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you as king over Israel!” As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors–to one better than you. He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.” (1Sa 15:26-29)

The Lord’s anointed was a man-pleaser

Saul, as popular leaders can be tempted to do, feared man. It was because he was a man-pleaser that he disobeyed the Lord’s command.

1Sa 15:24  Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the LORD’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them.

Saul replied, “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD your God.” (1Sa 15:30)

When we try to please men, we will end up disobeying the Lord.

1 Samuel 15:35  Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And the LORD regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.

Scripture repeats God’s regret at giving in to the Israelites’ demand and making Saul king over Israel. And three times it reminds us that the demand itself was evil. Can we New Testament believers learn something from this?

Saul’s final days

In Chapter 16 of 1 Samuel, God chooses David to take Saul’s place as king. The Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him. We see God blessing David greatly, and Saul so possessed by jealousy that he persecuted David, attempting to kill him on various occasions.

Saul’s free fall from grace was complete after Samuel’s death. He was overcome by the spirit of fear and terror at the sight of an assembled Philistine army. He inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. In sheer desperation he committed the abomination of hiring a medium to bring his former mentor Samuel up from the dead for Saul to consult with him—the forbidden practice of necromancy.

The very next day Saul and his three sons were killed in a losing battle with his army against the Philistines. Saul was beheaded, and his body and the bodies of his sons were desecrated by being hung from the wall in Beth Shan. This is what eventually happened to Israel’s first anointed king—the king they demanded from God to lead them and fight their battles. There is something very important we need to learn from this tragic story.

“Do not lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed”

 Let’s examine the likely origin of this expression or others similar to it which are heard in some circles today. It was David’s refusal to lay a hand on his master Saul.

But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed and be guiltless? As surely as the LORD lives,” he said, “the LORD himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. But the LORD forbid that I should lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.” (1Sa 26:9-11)

Dave refused to defend himself against Saul by killing him when he had the opportunity to do so. He knew Saul would certainly go down in time. But it would not be by David’s hand. But by no means did this mean that David was accepting or submitting to Saul’s authority. He was in fact “in rebellion” against his master by fleeing from him and leading his own army of men. He simply refused to kill Saul with his own hand.

Yet David’s example is used by “anointed” ministers today in the Church to respond to possible questions about their teaching, practices, or personal lives. Their followers are to continue to submit to their leadership because no one is to question or criticize “the Lord’s anointed.” Like Saul we are all sinners with frailties; this includes our leaders. We must continue to submit to them. “The anointing” on them covers everything.

But what does the New Testament teach?

Read what Paul commanded Timothy, who was a young leader in the Church.

Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1Ti 4:16)

Leaders should be beyond reproach.

Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, (1Ti 3:2)

Should we continue to follow leaders whose lives and doctrines are questionable? The use of the term “the Lord’s anointed” has become what amounts to a license in some circles of the Church today for immorality and perversion of the Scriptures by ministers.

The “anointed” pastor of a very large church in Indonesia claimed that God had given him a “spiritual wife” (the daughter of a wealthy family, no less) while his real wife was still living. He is reportedly reluctant to shake hands with people because he fears that his “anointing” will leak out.

How do we apply this study to New Testament believers?

It is evil in God’s sight when believers want and depend on an “anointed” minister to fight their battles for them. There will be painful consequences for trusting in fallible men. No, the Lord wants believers to attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13) so that they can fight their own battles by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in them. This is trusting directly in the Lord and in His word.

For some reason, however, many believers do not want to be personally responsible for seeking the Lord themselves and for diligently studying the Scriptures. (Perhaps this is our legacy from Roman Catholicism which once allowed only priests to possess and read the Bible and that in Latin only.) They would rather trust and follow an “anointed” minister to do this for them. But when adoring believers raise up ministers to become superstars, they are on their way like Saul to becoming falling stars. There is only one “anointed one” to be exalted, and that is Jesus Christ. Those who follow and support an “anointed” minister will in time suffer disappointment.

Moreover, the phrase “do not touch my anointed ones” was never used in the context of David’s conflict with Saul. Rather it was used in a completely different context with a different meaning.

Who are “my anointed ones”?

Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced, you his servants, the descendants of Abraham, his chosen ones, the children of Jacob. …When they were but few in number, few indeed, and strangers in it, they wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another. He allowed no one to oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings: “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.” (Psa 105:5-6, 12-15)

1Ch 16:22  “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.”

“My anointed ones” did not refer to Saul or to any Old Testament king or priest, but to God’s people the Israelites in general. In the New Testament as well, all of God’s people are set apart as kings and priests to Him.

Revelation 1:6 and made us kings and priests to God and His Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (MKJV)

But what about David, the good anointed king?

Unlike Saul, David was pure in heart toward God. But in time even the anointed king David fell victim to his own accomplishments. He began to take the abundant blessings and victories of God in his life for granted and neglected to fear God. As every student of the Scriptures knows, David ended up committing adultery and murder. Even though God forgave him, David and his family suffered through terrible consequences as a result of his sin.

David’s son and successor King Solomon fared even worse than his father in the eyes of the Lord. With all of his vast wisdom and personal knowledge of his father’s wrongdoing, this anointed king still managed to sin against God by following his foreign wives in the worship of other gods  (I Kings 11).

Therefore the Israelite experiment whereby they put their trust in an “anointed human king” instead of the LORD to fight their battles for them did not turn out well. God knew it well in advance and called it “evil.” Yet He allowed it.

Could this be one reason why in the New Testament there is no mention of “anointed” servants of God who can minister and deliver people from the hand of the enemy with supernatural power?

Even if there is such a thing as a “special” anointing for New Testaments servants of God as there was for Old Testament kings—which is highly debatable—we can see how such a “special” anointing before the adoring crowds can lead to the sin of pride and eventual downfall. (“After all, if God forgave David, he will certainly forgive me. So it will not be fatal if I give in to this temptation…”) Simply put, human beings are not meant to be worshiped. That is the prerogative reserved for Christ alone. Unfortunately the spectacular anointing on his servants will not fail to elicit worship and adoration from crowds. And like Lucifer the anointed cherub their hearts will become proud (Ezekiel 28:14-17), and some will fall.

Only Jesus Christ is anointed to save, heal and deliver

In New Testament Scripture, only once is the verb “anointed” used to refer to believers.

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2Co 1:21-22)

God anoints all believers with the Holy Spirit as a seal of His ownership. The Holy Spirit in our hearts guarantees the glory which is to come. Therefore the New Testament does not teach that some ministers are specially anointed to minister to others with power as is claimed by some in the Church today. No, It is God who guarantees salvation for all of us as He anoints us with the Holy Spirit.

As a noun, the word “anointing” with reference to believers is used in the New Testament only in 1 John 2.

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. (1Jn 2:20)

As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him. (1Jn 2:27)

The anointing here is for all believers to know the truth. That anointing teaches us about all things. We should not simply trust and depend on an “anointed” teacher to teach us. Rather we should eventually be able to study the Scriptures on our own with the Holy Spirit as our true teacher guiding us into all truth (John 16:13). The anointing mentioned here in 1 John 2 is clearly not an anointing on a special servant of God to lead us or minister to us with supernatural power.

Vine’s Dictionary, commenting on this use of “anointing” in 1 John 2, says:

That believers have “an anointing from the Holy One” indicates that this anointing renders them holy, separating them to God. The passage teaches that the gift of the Holy Spirit is the all efficient means of enabling believers to possess a knowledge of the truth.

Therefore in the New Testament, all believers are anointed by the Holy Spirit to be holy, consecrated, and set apart for God through the knowledge of the truth—which sets them free from sin and enables them to become partakers of the divine nature. The anointing is not something special given only to some to minister in some supernatural way. The anointing is not a license for immorality on the part of some ministers who cover their various shortcomings and unscriptural teachings and manifestations by quoting, “Touch not the Lord’s anointed.” Yet, as we clearly see in the Church today, God allows us to have “anointed” leaders to lead us and fight out battles for us if we demand them.

But the New Testament does not teach that there is a special anointing available for us to minister to others. Rather it clearly teaches that believers are given power, authority (Luke 9:1-2), and gifts (1 Corinthians 12) to minister to others. These are very different from “anointing.” Power, authority, and gifts for ministry can be for believers. But the “anointing” to minister is reserved only for deity—the Son of God. When we claim to have such an anointing, we could be crossing the line to tread on dangerous ground.

For further study: The “Anointing” Revisited

The Vital Difference between Gift and Anointing

“The yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing”?

That’s it

Aside from the references in 2 Corinthians 1:21 and 1 John 2, there are no other New Testament scriptures which teach that believers or pastors or servants of God are anointed.

When New Testament Scriptures speak of an anointing to minister to others with power, that anointing is upon the Messiah Jesus Christ alone, not on believers. He alone is anointed to heal, to deliver, to make well, and to save. “Christ” in fact means “anointed one.” He alone is anointed to save us.

The demand for an “anointed king” today: What I saw on Christian Television

Portions taken from Vine’s Dictionary

As a verb, mashach (Strong’s H4886) means “to anoint, smear, consecrate.” The word is found for the first time in the Old Testament in Genesis 31:13 : “…where thou anointed the pillar, and…vowed a vow unto me…” This use illustrates the idea of anointing something or someone as an act of consecration. The basic meaning of the word, however, is simply to “smear” something on an object.

The Old Testament most commonly uses mashach to indicate “anointing” in the sense of a special setting apart for an office or function. Thus, Elisha was “anointed” to be a prophet. More typically, kings were “anointed” for their office. Vessels used in the worship at the sacred shrine (both tabernacle and temple) were consecrated for use by “anointing” them.

As a noun, mashiach (H4899) means “anointed one.” A word that is important both to Old Testament and New Testament understandings is the noun mashiach, which gives us the term messiah. As is true of the verb, mashiach implies an anointing for a special office or function. Thus, David refused to harm Saul because Saul was “the Lord’s anointed” (1Sa 24:6). Interestingly enough, the only person named “messiah” in the Old Testament was Cyrus, the pagan king of Persia, who was commissioned by God to restore Judah to her homeland after the Exile (Isa 45:1). The anointing in this instance was more figurative than literal, since Cyrus was not aware that he was being set apart for such a divine purpose.

The New Testament

The New Testament title of Christ is derived from the Greek Christos which is exactly equivalent to the Hebrew mashiach, for it is also rooted in the idea of “to smear with oil.” So the term Christ emphasizes the special anointing of Jesus of Nazareth for His role as God’s chosen one.

The verb aleipho (G218) meaning to anoint is a general term used for “an anointing” of any kind, whether of physical refreshment after washing, e.g., of the sick or a dead body.

The verb chrio (G5548) meaning to anoint is more limited in its use than aleipho; it is confined to “sacred and symbolical anointings”; of Christ as the “Anointed” of God, Luk 4:18; Act 4:27; Act 10:38, and Heb 1:9, where it is used metaphorically in connection with “the oil of gladness.” The title Christ signifies “The Anointed One,” The word (Christos) is rendered “(His) Anointed” in Act 4:26, RV.

Once it is said of believers, 2Co 1:21.

The noun “anointing” in the New Testament

The noun chrisma (G5545), the corresponding noun to chrio above, signifies “an unguent, or an anointing.” It was prepared from oil and aromatic herbs. It is used only metaphorically in the NT; by metonymy, of the Holy Spirit, 1Jo 2:20, 1Jo 2:27, twice.

That believers have “an anointing from the Holy One” indicates that this anointing renders them holy, separating them to God. The passage teaches that the gift of the Holy Spirit is the all efficient means of enabling believers to possess a knowledge of the truth.

Coveting “the Anointing”: Becoming (like) God?

The Elijah Challenge

Today in some circles, servants of God and believers are coveting what they call “the anointing” through which they can minister to others in supernatural ways. The motivation behind this is taken completely from the Old Testament. In the New Testament there is no such “anointing” available to us to minister to others.

The only instances of “the anointing” upon believers in the New Testament are found in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 and in 1 John 2:20 & 27. In the first, “the anointing” refers to the Lord’s seal of ownership on every believer in Jesus Christ. In the second, the anointing teaches us—meaning all believers—about all things and enables us to know the truth. There is absolutely no mention of “the anointing” on New Testament believers to minister to others in some supernatural fashion.

There are, however, instances of an “anointing” in the Old Testament which enabled Israelites kings to lead their people to victory over their enemies, and by which priests and prophets ministered to God’s people. This anointing, however, is limited strictly to the Old Testament. Anointed kings, priests, and prophets in the Old Testament were all shadows and types all of which have now been fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only One in the New Testament who is anointed to save, to heal, and to make whole.

What happens when New Testament believers seek after an anointing to minister to others—found only in the Old Testament?

Do so at your own risk…

Let us look at some prominent anointed figures in the Old Testament: King Saul, King David, and King Solomon. All three started out well leading the Israelites, witnessing great victories and blessings from the Lord. David and Solomon were also personally intimate with the Lord. But eventually all three fell into sin near the end of their lives, displeasing the Lord. How could this be?

Now let’s look at the cherub Lucifer who—unlike us human beings—was created absolutely perfect. He was anointed by God. What happened to him?

Ezekiel 28:15 You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, 14 You were the anointed cherub that covers, and I had put you in the holy height of God where you were; you have walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. …17 Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; (MKJV)

Lucifer became proud. He wanted to be God. And he fell. Now we know him as Satan.

“How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:12-15)

Amazingly, even the perfect creature Lucifer could not resist the pride that comes from being anointed. Similarly, Saul, David, and Solomon were unable to resist the pride that comes from being anointed by God such that everything they set their hand to do was fruitful and successful. They began to take God for granted. They ended up no longer fearing God and so eventually sinned against Him.

Could it be that the Old Testament “anointing” to minister to others as coveted by some servants of God today is not meant for imperfect, fallible human beings?  Could it be that it is reserved for Deity alone—the Lord Jesus Christ?

That is exactly what we see taught in the New Testament: Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only one in New Testament scripture who is anointed to save, to heal, to make whole, to restore, and to preserve. Let us therefore think twice about coveting this anointing—perhaps it is not meant for us.

Scripture teaches that we have already been given supernatural power and authority over disease and demons to be used in proclaiming the kingdom of God very fruitfully to the lost (Luke 9:1-2; Luke 10:9), as well as the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12) to edify and minister very effectively to God’s people. We do not need to covet “the anointing.” But if you choose to, do so at your own risk.

According to Jesus, will many be saved?

The Elijah Challenge  February 7, 2018

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

According to Jesus, only a few will find life. Compared to the total number of people who have lived on earth since Adam, the number will be small. Immediately following this thought-provoking pronouncement, Jesus issues a stern warning to us.

15 “Watch out for false prophets.

What might be the significance of this warning in light of the fact that few will be saved? Let’s look at the entire passage.

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Jesus commands us to “watch out for false prophets” and provides for us a detailed explanation of how to recognize them. Why? It must be because they can lead us away from the small gate and narrow road that leads to life. And we can recognize them by their fruit. Does “fruit” here signify the fruit of their public ministries? Let’s see what the Lord teaches next.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

The “fruit” of the false prophets does not refer to their public ministries—for example, how effectively they can prophesy in meetings, how many demons they have driven out in their deliverance ministries, or how powerfully they have healed the sick in their evangelistic meetings bringing many lost souls to Jesus Christ. False prophets can do these things, but—shockingly—in the Lord’s sight these ministers are actually evildoers. Who are these false prophets in the Church?

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Who can be saved therefore—if not servants of God with fruitful public ministries? According to verse 24, only those who hear the words of Jesus and then put them into practice will be saved. Which specific words of Jesus are being referred to here?

For the specific words, let’s turn our attention back to verse 15 in the King James Version.

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 

Could false prophets cause us to stumble and veer from the small gate and narrow road?

They come to us in sheep’s clothing, meaning outwardly they appear to be of the Christian faith. But in their hearts they are “ravening” wolves intent on preying on the sheep—believers. The Greek word translated “ravening” means literally rapacious, which in the English language means “aggressively greedy or grasping.”

Are there any servants of God in the Church who have outwardly powerful and effective ministries—and who fit that description? In verse 22, Jesus assures us that there will in fact be many such false prophets on that day. Could “that day” in fact have arrived?

22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and…  23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

There will be many “servants of God” on that day who are actually false prophets and who are evildoers in God’s sight. They are ravenous, greedy wolves who are aggressively grasping from the sheep—and possibly leading them astray from the small gate and narrow road.

Luke 13:22-27 repeats and reinforces what Jesus taught in Matthew 7.

Luke 13:22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter [through the narrow door] and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’

We are to make every effort to enter through the narrow door. Making every effort means far more than just having a well-known and fruitful public ministry. It means far more than just saying a sinner’s prayer and then following such a minister and his teachings. It would behoove the Church to recognize the rapacious, aggressively greedy and grasping false prophets in her midst.

Who are they? Do you know servants of God who fit this description?

Thursday, May 4, 2017

5 Reasons The “Prosperity Gospel” Is Actually A Non-Christian Religion

April 28, 2017 by Dr. Benjamin L. Corey


Does being a good and faithful Christian result in good health, a long life, having an abundance of possessions, and material wealth?

That’s the subtle/not so subtle belief of a brand of Christianity that’s often called the “prosperity gospel.”

There is a growing number of Christians who believe that– a shocking amount, actually. And not just in the United States, either– this is a growing belief around the world. I think this is happening in large part because charismatic Christianity is the fastest growing brand of Christianity in many places, and the prosperity gospel is something that seems to have infected charismatic circles more than others.

While I believe we as Christians ought be careful about declaring who is in and who is out (I feel the wrath of the heretic hunters, so I know what that’s like), when it comes to this belief system that associates being a good Christian with materialism, health, and wealth, we cannot be silent or tip-toe over words: the prosperity gospel is completely outside the Christian religion. It’s not Christianity, period.

Here’s 5 reasons why:

 5. The prosperity gospel encourages us to be money focused instead of people focused.
Within the prosperity movement, the ultimate goal is how to get from here (lack of material wealth) to there (an abundance of material wealth).

This places the ultimate focus of this religion on materialism– but that’s not what Christianity is focused on.

Christianity is a religion that is focused on other people– how to love other people, how to disciple other people in the ways of Jesus, and how to be the tangible agent of God in the lives of others. Nothing about true Christianity is about self– in fact, Jesus said to become a Christian you actually had to die to self.

4. The prosperity gospel promotes a performance based religion.
Christianity is not a religion about performance, but the prosperity gospel is all about performance.
The prosperity gospel teaches that if you do X, Y, and Z (one of them usually involves sending money into a guy on TV) that you will get more in return (a concept they call “sowing”). This paradigm sees God’s favor as something you earn by doing, instead of something you receive freely by God’s grace alone.

In fact, Jesus blew this concept out of the water when he described God’s love and favor as being like the rain which falls upon those who do good and those who do evil. He even went on to say that God is actually kind to the wicked.

But instead of seeing God’s love and blessing as something freely given through his grace, the prosperity gospel associates God’s favor with right behavior, and interprets hard times as God holding back his favor. But according to the Bible, none of that is true.

3. The prosperity gospel promotes one of the most frequently condemned sins in Scripture: greed.

The prosperity gospel is a gospel of more, and that completely stands against what Christianity is about.

One of the most frequently condemned sins in scripture is that of greed, even going so far as to say that greed is idolatry. In fact, the apostle Paul found greed to be such a repulsive form of idolatry that he commanded Christians to refuse to even share meals with someone who claimed to be Christian, but was greedy.

Instead, the Christian message is one of learning to be content with what you have. In the 10 Commandments we’re taught to not “covet” which is the same as saying, “thou shalt be content with what you have.” Again, Paul talks about this and recognizes that life will have cycles where you have plenty, and cycles where you don’t have enough, but that what God wants for us in all those places is to be content with what we have.

Bottom line: if you have what you need, but still want more– especially while others go without– you are greedy, and this sin is biblically considered wickedness, even if modern society (and Americanized Christianity) excuses it.

2. The prosperity gospel promotes elitism among the body of Christ.
One of the central beliefs of Christianity is that we are all on an equal playing field in God’s eyes. We are all created in the image of God and have unsurpassable worth, so much so that Jesus died for us. For those of us who are Christians, the Bible says we are all part of “one body” and that we are equal. However, the prosperity gospel has a way of creating an elite status of Christians– because if you’re really rich, it must be because you’re doing it better than everyone else.

Case in point: a few years ago prosperity preachers Kenneth Copeland and Jesse Duplantis argued that they needed to fly in private jets because flying commercial on an airline was like getting in a “long tube with a bunch of demons.” They also lamented how annoying it would be for people to come up to them and ask for prayer… thus, they “need” to fly in private jets.

This kind of disgusting elitism is not just outside of Christianity, it’s opposed to Christianity. It in no way reflects the homeless Jesus who hung out with the worst of sinners.

1. The prosperity gospel perverts God’s purpose in material blessing.
Can or does God bless with material excess? Certainly! The Bible says that every good and perfect gift we receive comes from God. But the prosperity gospel forgets that, in occasions where God blesses someone with financial or material excess, that blessing comes with a specific purpose: to bless others.

When God gives us more than what we need, he does so in the hopes that we will honor him by sharing it with others who don’t have enough. The early church in the book of Acts actually founded the earliest Christian community on this premise– when they had more than needed, they shared their wealth so that there were “no poor among them.”

The idea that God gives some people more than what they need so that they can enjoy the high-life of luxury while people around them die of hunger and illness, is a disgusting perversion of the actual Gospel.

There’s plenty of things that are killing the church today, but one of the biggest things killing the church is the rise of a false, anti-Christ religion that so many people mistakenly believe is part of Christianity.

Let me be blunt: the prosperity gospel and those who preach it are not part of the Christian religion. They just made up their own religion of materialism and are falsely calling it “Christian.”

Link: patheous

Saturday, April 15, 2017

City Harvest appeal: Ruling may have serious implications on corruption cases, says Shanmugam

Court's decision to cut jail terms could have impact on other corruption cases

From the Government's point of view, this legal reasoning has serious implications in other cases, including corruption cases, (and) our zero-tolerance approach for the future and we will have to consider as a matter of policy what other steps to take because we cannot relax our stand on that... We will have to make sure that the position is as strict as we have always maintained it. So I've asked AGC to advise whether we need to do anything.
LAW MINISTER K. SHANMUGAM, on the appeal verdict's serious implications. City Harvest Appeal

The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) is considering if it can take further steps in the City Harvest Church case, given that the decision to cut the jail terms of the six convicted could have serious implications for corruption cases, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam yesterday.

"We will have to consider as a matter of policy what other steps to take because we cannot relax our stand on that," he said, referring to Singapore's zero-tolerance towards corruption.

A day earlier, all six church leaders in the largest case of misuse of charitable funds in Singapore's history had their sentences slashed by a three-judge panel in the High Court, despite the prosecution's appeal for longer jail terms.

Their original jail terms, ranging from 21 months to eight years, were cut, in some cases by over half. The 52-year-old church founder Kong Hee, for instance, had his eight-year term cut to 31/2 years, while former fund manager Chew Eng Han, 56, had his six years reduced to three years and four months.

A critical reason for the High Court's decision was the ruling that directors are not agents under the more serious Section 409 of the Penal Code dealing with criminal breach of trust. The bench majority replaced the offence with basic criminal breach of trust, resulting in lighter sentences.

Referring to this legal point, Mr Shanmugam said it has serious implications for other cases, including corruption cases in which company directors are taking bribes.

But he sounded a note of caution, saying people can disagree with the court but they should be careful about "casting improper ulterior motives" on the judgments.

"The reasoning is there, they set it out, we agree, disagree, and from a Government point of view, if we disagree, then we always consider what we do. If necessary, we legislate through Parliament," he added.

In November 2015, the church leaders were found guilty of channelling $24 million in church funds into sham bonds in music production company Xtron and glass- maker Firna, then using another $26 million to cover up the misdeed.

The church had said the money was used to fund the singing career of Kong's wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, as part of what it described as a church mission to evangelise through her music.

All six appealed against their convictions and sentences, while the AGC appealed against the sentences for being too low. Mr Shanmugam said the Government agreed with the AGC's push for longer jail terms.

Referring to the four judges - three High Court judges and one State Court judge - who heard the case in total, Mr Shanmugam said two judges had thought "either the sentences should be as they are or higher". Justice Chan Seng Onn, in differing from Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Justice Woo Bih Li, had said in his dissenting judgment that there were elements of benefit to Kong and his wife, and also permanent financial loss to the church.

The appeal judgment had commented on how the prosecution had not focused on whether any third parties had reaped gains from the church leaders' actions, even though this may have been suggested in the charges.

This point was not raised in the prosecution's written submissions for the appeal or at the trial.

As a result, the court had approached the sentencing in this case "as one without any element of wrongful gain or personal financial benefit, either direct or indirect", said the oral judgment.

Mr Shanmugam said he has "noted the court's comments on the way the matter was handled by the prosecution", and has asked Attorney-General Lucien Wong and his deputies to look into the matter.

Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore president Sunil Sudheesan told The Sunday Times the AGC could go to the Court of Appeal "to clarify section 409 once and for all". This must be done within a month of the High Court's decision.

Lawyer Lau Kah Hee said if the apex court takes a different view on the legal question, it could then decide on suitable sentences or send the case back for resentencing.

City Harvest verdict: AGC to take case to Court of Appeal

SINGAPORE - The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) said on Monday (April 10) that it will be taking the case involving the misappropriation of millions in City Harvest Church (CHC) funds to the Court of Appeal on questions of law.

Church founder Kong Hee, 52, and five other leaders had their sentences slashed last Friday after a three-judge High Court panel reduced their convictions for criminal breach of trust (CBT).

The six were originally convicted for CBT as agents, under Section 409 of the Penal Code. But in a two-one split decision, the High Court ruled that the six church leaders are not considered agents under the provision and replaced the offence with basic criminal breach of trust, under Section 406.

In a statement on Monday, the AGC said: "Having carefully considered the written grounds, the prosecution is of the view that there are questions of law of public interest that have arisen out of the High Court's decision, including and in particular, whether a director or a member of the governing body of a company or organisation who is entrusted with property, or with any dominion over property, is so entrusted in the way of his business as an agent for the purposes of section 409 of the Penal Code.

"The prosecution has accordingly filed a criminal reference today, to refer these questions of law to the Court of Appeal."

Under the Criminal Procedure Code, the Court of Appeal, in hearing and determining any questions referred to it, may make such orders as the High Court might have made as the Court of Appeal considers just for the disposal of the case.

The AGC statement said that if the Court of Appeal agrees with its submissions, the prosecution intends to ask the apex court to "reinstate the appellants' original convictions under section 409 of the Penal Code and make necessary and consequential orders in relation to the sentences given".

Kong, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, former fund manager Chew Eng Han, former finance manager Serina Wee, former finance committee member John Lam, and former finance manager Sharon Tan, were originally sentenced to between 21 months and eight years' jail.

They were found guilty, after a marathon trial that started in 2013, of misappropriating millions in church funds to fuel the pop music career of Kong's wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, in a church mission known as the Crossover Project.

They had channelled $24 million from CHC's building fund into sham bonds in music production company Xtron and glass-maker Firna. This money was in fact used to fund the Crossover Project. Later, another $26 million was used to cover up the initial misdeed.

The prosecution appealed for higher sentences. The six appealed against their conviction and sentences.

On Friday, the jail terms were drastically reduced.

Kong's original sentence of eight years was cut to 3½ years.

Tan Ye Peng, 44, had his 5½ years in jail cut to three years and two months.

Former fund manager Chew Eng Han, 56, who originally got six years in jail, had it reduced to three years and four months. Former finance manager Serina Wee, 40, had her five-year jail term halved to 2½ years.

The three-year sentence of former finance committee member John Lam, 49, was also halved. Former finance manager Sharon Tan, 41, will be jailed for seven months instead of 21 months.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

City Harvest appeal: Leaders lied for sake of Church, not personal gain

SINGAPORE - They were not motivated by personal gain and they thought they were acting in the best interests of City Harvest Church (CHC).

Ultimately, the church leaders believed that their actions would advance the Crossover Project, a church mission to spread the gospel through pop music, which was found to be generally supported by the congregation.

These were the "exceptional" mitigating factors considered by a three-judge panel, in reducing the jail terms for the six convicted CHC leaders on Friday (April 7).

The six, who had appealed against their conviction and sentences, were given reduced jail terms raging from seven months to three years and six months.

In a 304-page written judgment, the judges noted that the case should not be seen as a "sinister and malicious attempt" by the six to use the church's funds for their own purposes, despite the huge sum of about $50 million involved.

Rather, they had "resorted to deceit and lies", such as hiding the truth of their transactions from auditors and lawyers, because they wanted to keep the use of the church's monies for the Crossover Project confidential. They had also feared that questions would be asked.

"Their fault lies in adopting the wrong means," the judges said.

The prosecution, in calling for stiffer sentences, had earlier stressed on the misappropriation of charity funds as among the key aggravating factors.

But the court, in the written judgment, clarified that while CHC is a charity organisation, it is not a charity that is also an Institution of Public Character (IPC).

This means that donations to the church are not tax-deductible.

Thus, unlike funds that are held by IPCs, such as the National Kidney Foundation, donations to church funds "are invariably made by its members for the benefit of the church" and do not serve the community as a whole.

In addition, while the six had been "reckless" with the funds, the court accepted that had no intention to cause permanent financial loss to the church.

"The appellants had, at all times, intended for the funds ... to be eventually returned to CHC with the stated interest even if they might not have been entirely sure as to how or when they could do so at the time when they entered into the transactions," the judges said.

In meting out the harshest sentence among the six to Kong, the judges agreed that he was the "ultimate leader" of the Crossover Project and gave the overall direction and moral assurance to the five others.

He was also one of the main players - if not the main one - who had directed and influenced the others to using the church's Building Fund to purchase sham bonds, even if he did not directly participate in redeeming them.

Touching on the issue of personal gain, the judges said: "While the Prosecution did, in its oral submissions before us, attempt to make the point that a benefit had accrued to Kong Hee's wife, Sun Ho, this point was not raised in its written submissions for the appeal." The issue of personal benefit was, therefore, not factored into the sentencing.

The judges also disagreed with the prosecution that former CHC finance committee manager John Lam, 49, was an "inside man" integral to the success of the conspiracy.

Instead, the judges found Lam's involvement to be "relatively limited" and "only at some junctures", thus sentencing him one year and six months, down from three years.

Former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han, 56, had "employed his wits and financial expertise to mask the reality of the transactions", even though he was not a spiritual leader of the church.

As he had been the person trusted in all financial matters, the court handed him a jail term of three years and four months, down from six years.

CHC deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, 49, was jailed three years and two months. This was a reduction from his orignal sentence of five years and six months.

While he was a spiritual leader in church, the judges accepted that he did not have the trust and authority that Kong had.

Finally, the judges found that former CHC finance managers Serina Wee, 40, and Sharon Tan, 41, were less culpable as they were not leaders in church.

Wee was an "administrator" helping out with accounts and documentation. She received two years and six months' jail, down from the five years that was previously given.

As for Tan, who took over the role from Wee, the judges agreed that she was "only an employee" and was merely carrying out instructions by the decision-makers in the church. She was given the lowest sentence of seven months, instead of 21 months previously.

Kong Hee asks church to fulfil building fund

City Harvest / Kong Hee Appeal - Five key highlights of the judgment


The court found that City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee, 52, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, 44, and former finance committee member John Lam, 49, were not "agents" entrusted with dominion over CHC's funds.

While they held important positions in the church, it does not mean they were offering their "services as an agent to the community at large" or making their living as an agent. This is unlike a banker, a broker or a lawyer.

With this, the aggravated charge of CBT under Section 409 of the Penal Code, which involves CBT by a public servant, banker, merchant or agent, was reduced to a simpler charge under Section 406.


The lesser charge of CBT had a "significant impact" in the reduction of the sentences, as the maximum punishments of the two are "markedly different", the court said. The maximum jail terms under Section 406 are less than half that for those under Section 409.

Despite the huge sum of about $50 million involved, the court recognised that there had been no personal gain, among other mitigating factors, and "their fault lies in adopting the wrong means".


These were related to entries recorded in the church's accounts in October and early November 2009 showing that the sham bonds purchased by the church's building funds were redeemed. The court held that the accused were aware the entries were false and they intended to defraud.


Kong's role was that of "spiritual leader" of the five others, providing the "overall direction and moral assurance for their actions". Thus, his overall culpability was the greatest.

He was also one of the main players - if not the main one - who had influenced the others into using the church's funds to purchase sham bonds, even if he did not directly participate in redeeming them.


Justice Chan Seng Onn, in differing from Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Justice Woo Bih Li, noted there were elements of benefit to Kong and his wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun. There was also permanent financial loss to the church.

Justice Chan called for a dismissal of the appeals for the six accused and prosecution.

Rise and fall of a superstar pastor

On Friday, Kong Hee sat stony- faced in the High Court, as a three- judge panel delivered its verdict.

Clad in his usual sharp black suit, the 52-year-old looked steelily ahead when he later exited the court, ignoring the barrage of questions from the media scrum.

It was a marked contrast to the charismatic eloquence that had helped propel his City Harvest Church (CHC) to its superstar status over the past three decades.

In 1989, the computer science graduate, then 25, started CHC in a single-storey terraced house at 41A Amber Road. It was called Ekklesia Ministry. His congregation comprised 20 teenagers.

The Raffles Institution old boy would cycle to see church-goers. Sometimes he would turn up for work dressed in a T-shirt and slippers, according to a church member interviewed for a 2002 article.

He married Ms Ho Yeow Sun in 1992, and the couple set up home in a Tampines flat although they would later live in a $9.3 million Sentosa Cove penthouse.

Registered as a society in 1992, CHC had few assets - it had no place of its own and services were held at rented conference rooms.

Mr Kirk Png's journey with CHC began at one such venue in 1993 - at the World Trade Centre. Then a Buddhist, Mr Png had been invited by friends. He said: "The congregation was about 800-strong. It was the friendship and presence of God that led me to stay when I faced parental objections."

The compliance consultant, 42, described the church's early years as "young and dynamic". "Many of us were young Christians. We learnt how to build up our character to be good Christians so we would make an impact when we stepped out."

In 1995, CHC moved to the Hollywood Theatre in Tanjong Katong. During its six years there, its congregation swelled from 1,300 to 10,000. Then came the millennium, with 2001 as a pivotal year. It erected a $47.6 million compound in Jurong West with a $583,000 fountain. At its peak, its coffers and congregation expanded - to $100 million and 33,000, respectively.

But controversy followed.

In 2002, Ms Ho recorded her first Mandopop album, Sun With Love, for what CHC called the Crossover Project - a mission to spread the Gospel through pop music. It was meant to launch her career in the US. That same year, Kong was asked whether it was appropriate for a pastor to be a pop star. He replied: "Why don't we wait and see... if Sun compromises on her integrity and values. I have a feeling she won't."

But some church-goers were concerned. In 2003, a member, Mr Roland Poon, alleged that the church's building fund had been misused to finance Ms Ho's music career. He later retracted the allegations and took out advertisements in five newspapers to apologise.

Later, Ms Ho outraged some when she was photographed in a revealing red Armani dress at the Hollywood Film Festival. Some also expressed discomfort over her music videos being played before services.

During the trial, the court learnt that more than US$8 million (S$11 million) had been spent on Sun With Love. This included US$1.6 million in production fees for American rapper Wyclef Jean.

But the album was never released although singles were produced. Of these, the 2007 music video China Wine - in which Ms Ho adopted a persona called Geisha - was the most controversial.

Now 44, Ms Ho was reported to have received over half a million in bonuses and advances, including a $30,000 birthday cash gift and an $80,000 "special performance bonus for hits in the US or the United Kingdom" in 2006.

In court last year, deputy public prosecutor Christopher Ong noted that Kong and the other five accused church leaders had not shown remorse - which ordinarily would be a mitigating factor.

During the case, CHC's attendance fell. In 2015, it drew a congregation of 16,482 - a 30 per cent drop from 2009, a year before investigations began. But Mr Png said of the dip: "What is important is not who has left but who has stayed. When things happen you don't just leave the family and move on."

On the status of the Crossover Project, a CHC spokesman told The Sunday Times: "As a church, we believe that the cultural mandate and marketplace evangelism are every believer's calling.

"As for the means in which we express these, we need to take time to pray and seek God for the future."

Over the past four years, it had also become more transparent about the management of its assets and funds, she added.

Kong Hee seeks church's forgiveness

There was a rousing cheer as City Harvest Church (CHC) founder Kong Hee walked onstage yesterday at the packed Suntec convention centre auditorium.

But as he addressed the congregation that had gathered for the 5pm service, the crowd numbering in the thousands grew quiet.

"I'm so sorry for all the hurt, all the disappointment and all the painful ordeals you've been through," he said in a shaky voice.

"I really, really, really wish that I was and am a better, wiser leader. Pastor is deeply sorry and sincerely asks for your forgiveness. Please forgive me," he added.

He also thanked them for being members of the church at the first service held a day after the High Court reduced the sentences of all six church leaders, including Kong, in the biggest case of misuse of charity funds in Singapore history.

Executive pastor and president of the CHC management board Aries Zulkarnain later took to the stage to lead the church in prayer, together with Kong and his wife Ho Yeow Sun.

Nearing the end of the two-hour service, Kong returned onstage, saying he had learnt "many lessons through this entire ordeal".

In the midst of the church's quick growth, he admitted, he had not "slowed down, paused and prayed more" and made "unwise decisions" in the process.

In November 2015, Kong and five CHC leaders were handed jail terms ranging from 21 months to eight years. The prosecution and all six later launched appeals.

Following the High Court's decision, a spokesman for the Office of the Commissioner of Charities (COC) told The Sunday Times it will resume removal proceedings to protect the assets of the charity.

COC had previously said seven individuals involved will be banned from being a governing board member, key officer, trustee, agent or employee of CHC. Kong can continue with his religious duty as a pastor.

Many in the congregation declined to speak to The Sunday Times.

Yesterday, Kong promised the congregation that "whatever happened in the past will never repeat itself in the future".

"We must never let it happen again," he said. "It was a steep learning curve for all of us."

British court orders Malaysian tycoon Khoo Kay Peng to pay $112 million in divorce settlement

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian tycoon Khoo Kay Peng, who owns the Laura Ashley brand, has been ordered by a British court to pay £64 million (S$112 million) to his former wife as settlement for their divorce in a long-running row.

Judge David Bodey said in his ruling on Friday (April 7) that Chai should receive the divorce settlement in the form of both cash and property, the Guardian reported. The judge's detailed judgment on how the matrimonial assets would be split is expected to be released soon, said the report.

"I just want to thank my superb legal team ," Chai said in an e-mailed statement to Malay Mail Online after the court ruling.

Her lawyer Ayesha Vardag said in the same statement: "This litigation has been long and arduous. It is a journey which has now ended in the affirmation of the principle of fair sharing. It emphasises that there is no place in England for discrimination between home maker and bread winner."

Chai, who was crowned Miss Malaysia in 1969, had sought £100m from the 78-year-old tycoon following their split after 42 years of marriage. She claimed their assets were worth at least £205m. The 68-year-old said she had contributed to her ex-husband's success by being a "traditional" wife, and that they had made a sharing agreement entitling her to half of the family wealth.

"I looked at marriage in the traditional way," Chai had told Justice Bodey at hearings in the family division of the high court in London. "He is the breadwinner and I stayed at home and looked after the children. It was a daunting task."

Khoo, who owns 44 per cent of Laura Ashley Holdings, argued that his former wife should only receive £9m, the Guardian reported.

The two married in 1970 and had five children before splitting in 2012 and have spent more than £6m between them on lawyers to fight their financial dispute, according to the Guardian.

The tycoon had wanted the divorce proceedings heard in Kuala Lumpur where Chai would likely be awarded a less generous settlement. But Chai wanted a British court to decide on the divorce proceedings, claiming she had not been living in Malaysia since 1980 and is a resident of Britain.

In 2014, Chai gained the upper hand in the divorce battle after London's High Court ruled it could hear the case.

In January 2016, a London court granted a preliminary divorce decree to Chai, which entailed she would be entitled to half of Khoo's fortune once the marriage was officially dissolved.

City Harvest appeal verdict: Six church leaders get reduced jail terms, Kong Hee gets 3.5 years

SINGAPORE - A three-judge panel on Friday morning (April 7) reduced the jail sentences for all six City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders who were convicted of criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts in a high-profile case involving the misuse of millions of dollars of church money.

Church founder Kong Hee. 52, who was  handed an eight-year jail term in November 2015, will spend 3½ years behind bars.

The other five - deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, 44; former CHC finance managers Serina Wee, 40, and Sharon Tan, 41; former CHC finance committee member John Lam, 49; and former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han, 56 - also  had their jail terms reduced after the court, in a split decision, allowed their appeals against conviction and found them guilty of a less serious charge of criminal breach of trust.

The six were found guilty in 2015 after a marathon 142-day trial that started in 2013.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Dark Secrets of the Rockefeller Family

Rockefeller's Death and The Impact on All of Humanity

Monday, February 6, 2017

Prophecy: 'Even This Week, I Will Shake Your Courts!'

President Donald Trump and Judge Neil Gorsuch

President Donald Trump and Judge Neil Gorsuch (Reuters photo)


Wednesday, Hank Kunneman, senior pastor of Lord of Hosts Church in Omaha, Nebraska, and founder of One Voice Ministries, offered a summary of past words he's shared from the Lord, as well as a new one that demonstrates how God has been at work in America.

He wrote in an article that was shared with readers of The Elijah List:

Prophetic Word Spoken by Hank Kunneman on Sept. 15, 2016:

"I will be a positive irritant to you, America," says the Lord!

"I have chosen," says the Spirit of God, "to arise upon America at this time, and I have come to be an irritant to those who oppose. I have come to be an irritant to those who have mocked and shook their fists thinking that they can push Me out of this nation."

But the Spirit of God says, "I was an irritant to Pharaoh, and so I shall be an irritant in this season too," says the Lord. "And there was a time when I irritated Pharaoh, I needed bold leadership, I needed those who would speak for Me and not for themselves; I needed those who would not have an agenda of their own, and so I sent signs and wonders and raised up those who would carry out My will and so I have found the same.

"Watch what I do to irritate this nation as they suddenly realize that they cannot stop Me. For you are coming into a season where laws that have been penned by the arrogance of men shall swiftly change and there are those who have stood and have said they will continue to push God out of the schools."

The Lord says,"Watch what I do to irritate them to where they have no chance, no choice, for there will be a sound of the young that shall arise across this land, and they will say, 'We want God! We want Jesus back in our schools!' And I will listen to them," says the Lord.

"So now they discuss the health of the candidates, but what about your nation? It has been sick," but God says, "I have heard the prayers of a righteous rebellion and there is coming another revolution, but this one is My doing.

"Watch how I irritate even the media to where I will shake one, I will shake them so violently," says the Lord, "that they will be sold; and then it will be raised up with a different sound that shall come from the network.

"Watch how I, the Supreme God, shall irritate the Supreme Court. Do not think that it is political success that has caused things to be where it is now? It is My restraint. I will have the last say. America, you have entered into a season of Me being your positive irritant. Watch how suddenly things shall change and nothing will stop My hand.

Prophetic Word Spoken by Hank Kunneman on Jan. 4, 2015:

"I will establish righteousness on your courts," says the Spirit of God!

"Watch Me unfold, watch Me pull back the covers! And even in this nation there are things that have been penned with arrogance: legislation and laws that have been signed into being what they thought was permanent. Did they not know that I am the Lord God of all, that I am the Judge of all things? So I will pull the cord and I will expose the legislation and the laws that were meant to afflict this nation. But a great reform has been planned for this time and this season of America.

"Watch what I am about to do, for they say, 'Your court is supreme.' I will pull back and I will shake the courts and I will deal with two that are upon your courts. They will say this is now our opportunity to once again push our agenda." The Spirit of God says, "I will block it and I will establish righteousness upon your courts."

Prophetic Word Spoken by Hank Kunneman on Oct. 26, 2016:

"I will bring compassion on the Supreme Court as it changes" says the Lord!

"Your Supreme Court will change for I am the Supreme Judge." God says, "Watch, for I will raise up, when there is a vacancy of two and then three," the Spirit of Grace says, "there shall be a woman I shall place there at the high court, and this shall be a compassionate woman," says the Lord, "and it shall be her compassion for the right for the unborn to live that shall overturn and topple the laws that have aborted the innocent. What does a nation look like filled with glory? Can you see it? Can you see it?" says the Lord.

Prophetic Word Spoken by Hank Kunneman on Jan. 29, 2017:

"You are experiencing, right now," says the Spirit of grace, "freedom; for this is My promise to you that I am setting My people free this year." And God says, "This promise is not just to My people, but this promise is to America, and this promise is to Israel.

"So let it be known, as I have declared to you before that I would rise up upon this land as a positive irritant to irritate those who refuse to see My plan, to irritate those upon your Supreme Court, to irritate those in the political seats that they hold, to irritate those upon the media—for this is the work of My finger.

"Do you remember the days when Yeshua stooped down and wrote within the dirt and those who were ready to cast their stones upon a woman caught in adultery? But when the Son of God stooped and wrote in the dirt, the writing caused them to be convicted within their hearts as irritation came to them."

And so once again, God is writing upon the dirt of this land! "I am writing upon those who have set themselves to oppose the plan that is before Me and before this nation. Know that I am breathing, I am breathing, for I am the same God that breathed into the dust of this earth and made man, and I am breathing into the dust, the dirt of this land, when men have stood and demanded that I judge.

"Watch as a gentle wind blows throughout the land. Watch how a violent wind continues to blow into specific places and it will be, 'Why is it gentle here and there is even rain there, and why are there violent winds that seem to be shaking this part of a particular region and city?' Because God says, "My breath is blowing gentle where it's received, violently where it needs to be shaken and put in order.

"Watch even this week, I will shake your courts and I'm going to establish as I said before. I am stepping in upon your courts for I am the Supreme Judge. And what I have planned shall now balance your courts, but very soon there will be vacancies again, and I've said to you and say to you again I am breathing upon your courts.

"Do not get caught up in the political rhetoric, for they will fool you with their speaking, but look at the work of My hands and how I will cause the courts now to bring freedom that you are declaring and saying from your lips.

"For there will be rulings in your land, 7-2, 6-3, when I'm done shaking your courts. And there will be laws that have been upon the books for 45-plus years that will suddenly change, they will change for the good and they will change for life, they will change for prayer in the schools, they will change and no longer will they say, 'God' only, but they will say, 'Jesus' and they will say, 'Yeshua' and this that will change will even go forth and bring an adjustment to those upon the media who refuse to utter it.

"And there will be swift changes that take place upon the media, and My wind will blow, as I've said to you before, upon one network I will violently shake it as they've resisted Me, they've lied and they have mocked My name. They will be sold as My wind blows upon them, and when they are raised up they will speak different and they will speak according to My plan."

Lift up your hands and ask God to breathe in you as we declare the wind, the breath, the life of God to breath in you now. Take a deep breath because I can sense it in the air across this nation that it is almost like, as in the day of Noah—when he came out of the Ark and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord and the Lord smelled the aroma. There is a cleansing that has been taking place over the last few years, whether you understand it or not, and there is something that is in the air that is starting to become very pleasing and attractive to God and it's coming from His people!

It started when we prayed and cried out for God to heal our land and God is doing it. What you're experiencing is the work of the Lord's hand! Don't get caught up in the rhetoric of men!

World Vision Director Denies Funneling Millions to Terror Group

A World Vision worker hugs a friend.


The World Vision director accused of funneling ministry money to Hamas pleaded not guilty at his trial this week.

"World Vision has not seen any credible evidence supporting the charges (against Mohammad El Halabi). Access to any such evidence would help us address any potential gaps in our systems. We remain committed to understand the truth behind the allegations made against Mohammad El Halabi and determine what, if any, changes we need to make," World Vision CEO Kevin Jenkins said in a statement.

Israeli authorities arrested Halabi where he was stationed in Gaza in summer 2016.

After his arrest, the Shin Bet alleged Halabi admitted to being a Hamas activist and using his position "to divert the humanitarian organization's funds and resources from the needy to benefit of Hamas' terrorist and military activities," Charisma News previously reported.

Jenkins says World Vision suspended its humanitarian work in Gaza and hired a global accounting firm to conduct a forensic audit. Thus far, the audit has not yielded any concerns against the organization or Halabi himself.

"World Vision condemns any diversion of aid funding and strongly condemns any act of terrorism or support for those activities. None of the allegations against Mohammad El Halabi have been tested in an open court, and we support the ongoing presumption of his innocence," Jenkins said. 

Bridge-Building or Compromising with Heresy? - Michael Brown

In response to my article on my meeting with Pastor Joseph Prince, I was flooded with words of support and encouragement, commending us for getting together. Others were quite critical, posting comments like this: "I am so disappointed! Why are you cozying up to that cheap grace teacher Prince? Why?" (I imagine Pastor Prince heard from critics who were upset that he met with me, perhaps branding me a legalist or worse.)

An old friend wrote to me after reading the article and said, "it's so clear that God has put an anointing and even a mantle on your life to be a bridge-builder." Conversely, another old friend of mine was challenged by a supposed spiritual watchdog website (which I will not publicize here), urging him to confront me on my embrace of allegedly heretical preachers.

The comments on my Facebook page reflected polar perspectives as well, including posts like this, on the positive side: "As a Pentecostal/Charismatic Pastor I have to say that I was blessed by your article on your meeting with Pastor Prince. It was an amazing story of what can happen when we get together and share our hearts with each other." And, conversely, on the negative, posts like this: "The church cannot function properly in the context of the social issues we face today with people like Joseph Prince in its midst. He's a false teacher, and, as Paul did with false teachers in the New Testament, we need to place him outside godly fellowship if or until God grants him true repentance."

So, which is it? Was my meeting with Joseph Prince an act of godly bridge-building, for the glory of Jesus and the edification of His people, or was it an act of compromise?

When I wrote Hyper-Grace, I emphasized "that those I'm differing with in this book are brothers and sisters in the Lord—at least, to the best of my knowledge—and with rare exception, I find much in their writings and messages that thrills my soul and blesses me deeply. Often, as I would be reading their books, I would be shouting amen on one page, only to groan on the next page as a verse was misused or a key truth overlooked or a falsehood stated as if it were true."

When I mentioned Pastor Prince's book Unmerited Favor, I said that, "I found much in his book that was excellent." I also stated that, "He writes like a man who knows the Lord and has experienced God's goodness, like a man who takes delight in God's Word and who knows what it is to worship and love Jesus." And I affirmed that "My heart resonated with much of what he wrote."

So, even while expressing my strong differences with a number of Pastor Prince's positions, I did so recognizing him as a brother who loved the Lord and who had many good things to say. On the flip side, Pastor Prince always recognized me as a brother in the Lord.

This, then, begs the question: How can it possibly be wrong for two well-known leaders to sit face to face, in humility and respect, and discuss their theological differences? How can this be compromise (on either side), especially if we agree on the essentials of the faith?

To be perfectly clear, the last thing I'm looking for is human approval. (If you know me at all, that's self-evident.) Rather, I write this to help other believers (and especially leaders) who have differences to follow our lead and sit face to face for dialogue and discussion.

Perhaps, when you meet with that brother or sister, your views will be closer than you realize, or perhaps you'll discover there are some serious misunderstandings between you. Or maybe one of you can help the other see the light, or maybe one of you needs to be warned about major error.

This much is sure: It is better to come together with humble and open hearts before the Lord, talking face-to-face, than to ignore each other or attack each other from a distance.

If Pastor Prince does have some serious errors in his teaching, I'm now in a position to help him directly. Conversely, if I have some serious errors in my teaching, he's now in a position to help me directly. Again I ask, how can this be wrong before the Lord?

Ironically, some of those who criticized me for meeting with Pastor Prince and posting my article (which, again, was edited by him until we came to agreement on the final text) belong to camps whose leadership refuses to meet with me to have theological dialogue.

Not only so, but some of those attacking me for interacting with Pastor Prince hide behind anonymous websites and identities, so we have no idea who we're dealing with, no idea of whom they're submitted to (or with whom they're connected in the Body), no idea of their own spiritual and moral history.

As one who loves truth and has sought to confront error for decades, I find this anonymous, self-appointed spiritual policing to do more harm than good.

Some readers will say to me, "We have no issue with you getting together with Joseph Prince. We take issue with you embracing him as a brother and proclaiming your areas of agreement. That's where you're deceived."

The fact is that he is a brother, he does love the Lord, he is a serious student of the Word, he does have a burden for the lost, and he truly wants to confront counterfeit grace. (Note carefully that I chose the term "hyper-grace" in writing my book rather than "counterfeit grace," since I never believed that Joseph Prince or most of the leaders I critiqued in my book taught "counterfeit grace." I also chose the term because some of those I identified as hyper-grace preachers embraced the term, saying, "Yes, God's grace is hyper!")

In Hyper-Grace, I wrote, "Without a doubt, many believers have been transformed listening to Joseph Prince and others teach about grace, and it is because much of what they are saying is biblical. I affirm that part of the message wholeheartedly, and I wish I could recommend their material without reserve. The problem, I believe, is that he and other hyper-grace leaders sometimes teach about grace in exaggerated form or, worse still, mixed with serious errors, and that's why there are all too many casualties and divisions among the listeners and readers."

Pastor Prince stressed in our meeting (and in my article) that those who listened to his message and then lived in compromise and complacency had really not heard or understood the message of grace. I stressed my conviction that there were errors in his message that produced the bad fruit, while the biblically-accurate content of the rest of his message produced the good fruit. Which of us is right?

In my view, by emphasizing our very important areas of agreement, it will be more difficult for people to misunderstand either of us, and the door is now open for honest dialogue about key verses and truth, with both us expressing a desire to follow the Lord and His Word wherever that leads. And we both want to expose what we do agree on: the very real dangers of counterfeit grace, some of which is growing in the midst of the hyper-grace camp.

Again I ask: In our heavenly Father's sight, how can that be wrong?

I have no desire to placate my critics, nor do I have any interest in a broad-based, theologically-loose, skin-deep unity. I am running after God's heart and mind with all my might, and I know that truth-based unity is of great importance to Him. That requires honest dialogue and interaction with others in the body with whom we have differences.

Dr. Michael Brown ( is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Breaking the Stronghold of Food. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

My Meeting With Pastor Joseph Prince - Michael Brown

Joseph Prince with Dr. Michael Brown

On Friday, Jan. 20, while ministering in Singapore, I had the pleasure of spending two and a half hours with Pastor Joseph Prince, delving into the Scriptures in Hebrew and Greek, discussing the points on which we differed and highlighting the points on which we agreed. Without a doubt, the points on which we agreed far outnumbered and outweighed those on which we differed.

When I wrote the book Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Movement, I reached out to the main authors I quoted in the book, asking them for permission to quote their writings if I went beyond the normal publishing guidelines, also asking them if they would like to reconsider any of their positions.

But I did not reach out to Pastor Prince, wrongly assuming he would not be interested in dialoguing with me based on my experience with some previous leaders who refused to interact. I apologized to him for my failure to do so, and he graciously received that apology.

He also wanted to make clear that he strongly differed with the positions of some of the others I quoted in my book, and what grieved him was not that I misrepresented his position when citing him but rather that he was cited side-by-side with some others whose views he strongly rejected.

Additionally, Pastor Prince felt that I have not accurately represented those who follow his Bible teachings regularly and how this has helped many around the world lead disciplined, holy, victorious and Christ-centered lives. He explained that his ministry office regularly receives testimonies from people who have been set free from the destructive bondage of sin, from those who have been liberated from the shackles of pornography and from those set free from severe drug addictions through his preaching of the gospel of grace.

Although I gladly acknowledged those testimonies and said I also heard similar stories from those who follow his teachings (because of the wonderful truths he delivered) I reiterated that I had also heard opposite stories from those who had become complacent and fleshly (because of what I believed were errors in his teaching).

Pastor Prince maintains clearly that those who have become complacent and fleshly do not understand the gospel of grace, and he would be the first to warn them that they are not living under God's grace and to share with them Romans 6:14: "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law but under grace." He believes beyond a shadow of a doubt that people who have an accurate revelation of God's grace have the power to lead holy and victorious Christian lives. For Pastor Prince (and of course, for me as well), grace is not the license to sin; it is the power to break free from the bondage of sin.

Our principal area of disagreement remains his teaching that the moment we are saved, our future sins are already pronounced forgiven (in contrast with the idea that our future sins are paid for but sin is not pronounced forgiven until it is committed and brought to the Lord). But to repeat, our areas of strong and vibrant agreement are much greater than our areas of disagreement, and I want to shout out those areas of agreement to the world.

First, we both agree that it's all about Jesus. He must be central. He must be the focus of our lives. We must draw all people to Him and His atoning work on the cross. Pastor Prince also said that, rather than just say, "Jesus, Jesus" all the time, we should get back to the biblical emphasis: Lord Jesus. And I say Amen to exalting Jesus as Lord.

Second, we both agree that many (if not most) believers often struggle with guilty consciences, failing to realize the depth of God's love for them and failing to understand what Jesus did on their behalf, and so it is essential to ground them in grace. I also shared with Pastor Prince that whenever I teach on the errors of hyper-grace, I begin by extolling God's true grace, seeking first to open us that glorious revelation. And I told him that, at FIRE School of Ministry, in the first semester, we do our best to ground our students in the love of God and in their identity in Jesus.

Third, we both agree that God calls us to holiness, sin is terribly destructive, and true grace will be manifest in a holy life. Prior to our time together, he sent me a compilation of video clips in which he stated plainly that if a man in his congregation claims to be a believer and is living in adultery, he will tell that person plainly he is not living under grace (otherwise sin would not have dominion over him) and needs to repent, drop that other woman and go back to his wife. He said he would also question whether that man was a real believer, since a true believer may fall into sin but will not practice sin.

In his own words (from a forthcoming chapter he wrote for a joint compilation on grace), "If you hear of any 'grace' teaching that tells you it is all right to sin, to live without any regard for the Lord, and that there are no consequences to sin, my advice to you is to flee from that teaching. You have just been exposed to counterfeit grace. Genuine grace teaches that believers in Christ are called to live holy, blameless and above reproach. It teaches that sin always produces destructive consequences and it is only through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ that one can be set free from the dominion of sin."

He then asks, "So how do we know if someone is truly living under the grace of God?"

His answer: "We look at their lives."

And so, "If someone is leaving his wife for his secretary and tells you he is under 'grace,' tell this person that he is not under grace but under deception! ... Genuine grace doesn't compromise God's holy standards and condone sin; it is the answer that gives people power to live glorious lives zealous for good works."

Fourth, we both agree that sanctification is progressive, meaning the moment we are saved, we are forgiven, declared righteous, and set apart as holy, but now we must grow in holiness. To quote his own words again, "true grace does teach progressive sanctification," and, "As believers, we cannot become more righteous, but we can become more sanctified or holy in terms of how we live our lives. ... The more one grows in grace—the more one is washed again and again by the water of the word of God's grace—the more one grows in sanctification and holiness."

He rejected strongly the idea, put forth by another "grace teacher," that progressive sanctification is a "spiritually murderous lie."

Fifth, we both agree that the Lord corrects us, and even disciplines us, and we both agree that included in the preaching of grace is the calling to "exhort, and rebuke with all authority" (see Titus 2:15). We agree that true born-again believers will feel uncomfortable in their sins (because of their born-again spirits and because of the Holy Spirit) and will have a genuine desire to find a way out of sin. We agree that the only way out of sin is to point people to Jesus.

Pastor Prince believes the primary role of the Holy Spirit is to remind us we are the righteousness of God in Christ (see 2 Cor. 5:21, John 16: 10) and that this understanding is critically important in helping people to turn from sin. While I also believe that this is an important role of the Spirit, I believe His primary role when we sin is to lovingly reprove and correct us, thereby pointing us back to the Father (see Rev. 3:19, 22). Obviously, these two emphases go hand in hand.

Sixth, we both agree that God's Law is glorious and holy and beautiful and that, in Pastor Prince's words, "True grace teaching upholds the moral excellencies, values and virtues espoused by the Ten Commandments." But we understand that, "The Ten Commandments are so perfect in [their] standard and so unbending in [their] holy requirements that Galatians 3:11 states that no man can be justified by the law in the sight of God. Justification before God can only come by faith in Christ."

The Law, as designed by God, exposes our sin and brings us to the end of ourselves, thereby bringing us to the foot of the cross where grace and mercy flow. Not only so, but "when God's people are under grace, not only do they fulfill the letter of the law, but they also exceed it or go the extra mile."

Seventh, we both agree that any form of universalism or any denial of future punishment for the lost must be categorically rejected, and we agree that as recipients of grace, we share a burden for the lost, wanting to reach everyone with this glorious message, also believing in Romans 1:16, to the Jew first.

Eighth, we both agree on the importance of commitment to the local church and the authority of the local church, recognizing how many so-called grace preachers have broken away from both, to the harm of their own souls.

In our meeting, we shared our mutual love for the people of Israel and our desire for them to be saved, we shared our abhorrence of counterfeit grace, and we each lovingly challenged the other to consider certain points before the Lord. And, in the midst of our current differences, we agreed to do our best to expose what we both believed were counterfeit grace errors.

It is my prayer that these errors will continue to be exposed and that God will use us to point His people to His glorious grace that has appeared in Jesus, which "teaches us to say 'no' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age" (Titus 2:12, NIV). And where I have a blind spot or a misunderstanding of God's Word, may the Lord give me grace to see it, and where my brother has a blind spot or a misunderstanding of God's Word, may the Lord give him grace to see it.

I'm sure Pastor Prince will come under attack for meeting with me and welcoming me warmly as a brother, and I'm sure I will come under attack for doing the same with him. And so, to each of you who find fault with us for having this dialogue in the Lord, I encourage you to pray for us and, more importantly, to ask yourself if you too agree with our points of agreement here. If so, join us in shouting them out to the rest of the church.

May God's true grace be exalted; may counterfeit grace be exposed.

Dr. Michael Brown ( is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Breaking the Stronghold of Food. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.