A Review Of A Book Review (Destined To Reign)

I read this book a while back in March, titled Destined to Reign: The Secret to Effortless Success, Wholeness and Victorious Living by Joseph Prince. It is a very good and easy-to-read book concerning the grace of God, the love of Jesus and the blessings of inheritance in Christ. It comes highly recommended and you will be blessed by the message of grace. While surfing on the internet, I also came across a review on this same book by a lecturer with a theological college, who is also a pastor, see here.

While reading through his review, I thought some of the points brought up were of ‘critical contentions’ and it would be good to bring it up for pondering, discussion or whatever. I really hope that this will be edifying and more importantly, to build up the body of Christ instead of tearing it down. Do note that it will be all from my personal perspective and interpretation, and I am open for sharpening. Opinions can differ, but I believe we all have the same Spirit in us, who will enlighten us beyond our own understanding. So let’s start with an open mind.

1. God’s Grace and Anger: Is God still angry with true believers?

Personally, I felt the question cuts through the very foundation of our Christian faith. Are we serving a perpetually angry God? I say this because if God is angry with us every time we sin or did something wrong, multiply that by the number of times it happens every day, by the number of believers and our different time zones, and we will have a perpetually 24-hours very very angry God! Okay, that may be tongue-in-cheek, but we must understand how easy it is for us to sin, and on top of that, how difficult it is for us to do what is perfectly acceptable to God’s pristine standards (Matthew 5:21-47, 6:1-4, 7:1-6). By breaking any one of the law, is considered breaking the entire laws of God (James 2:8-11). Read all the linked passages carefully and think, “Can we really do all that perfectly?” If not, then we have to stop kidding ourselves that we can achieve by our own, all of God’s requirement. We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Isaiah 64:6

We often hear that God is often portrayed as angry in the Old Testament, but could it be because the Israelites then had foolishly believed that they were able to easily obey the law perfectly but failed miserably-disappointing God, time and time again? Browse through the OT and you can literally feel God’s frustrations at how the Israelites were. It has been proven over the thousands of years that human beings can never independently be able to fully obey the law and follow the commandments as required by God’s holiness. However, when Jesus came, He took our place and as He is able to fully fulfill the law (Gal. 4:5-6), that Father God is no longer frustrated with the inadequacy of our sinful nature.

Jesus said that anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father (John 14:9). I still cannot find an instance in the four gospels where Jesus was angry with His disciples or other true believers. Okay, there are 2 conditions here: First, I meant true believers; not Pharisees, not high priest, not teachers of the law, not temple stall-holders. Second, real angry with the disciples-believers; not annoyed when they fell asleep, doubted or argued among themselves. When the teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery, what was Jesus’ response? “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. (John 8:3-11) I am really glad to say that there was not a hint of anger from Jesus! I am really delighted to know that our God is not a disciple master who only accepts us when we are good but are furious the moment we unwittingly fall.A Review of A Book Review (Destined to Reign), Woodoo Master

In Revelation 2-3, there were 7 letters to the 7 churches. It was commented that there are “a lot of stinging rebuke and condemnation from Jesus himself, including the use of threats of punishment and judgement. (I find attempts to say that the “churches” in Revelation do not really refer to believers as far-fetched.)” While I generally do agree with the statement, but these letters however, still do not condemn ‘believers’. What do these letters rebuke these believers about?  Church in Ephesus-You have forsaken your first love. (to Jesus Christ) / Church in Smyrna-none / Church in Pergamum-You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin (point refer to the false prophet & teachings, not the sin) / Church in Thyatira-You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. (again refers to false prophetess & teachings) / Church in Sardis-you are dead. Wake up! (spiritually asleep; dead) / Church in Philadelphia-none / Church in Laodicea-because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold (doctrinally & spiritually impure); we will discuss this in detail later.

As you can see, these warnings are to the churches who have forsaken their first love for Jesus, who hold on to false teachings, who tolerated false prophets, who are spiritually dead, and who are waivering in faith because they mixed the doctrines and deviated from the truth. In other words, these “believers” who had first believed and formed the churches, have fallen; and Jesus is calling them to come back to Him again. It would be really strange if they are called true believers when Jesus is still standing outside at the door of their hearts knocking, right? Therefore, I maintained that there is no condemnation or rebuke for true believers who hold-on to the true teachings and passion of Jesus Christ in Person. Why? Because the Bible says so; So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

It is commonly known that the 7 churches represented the different types and characteristics of the churches, their mentality and their faith. In addition, an alternative view is that the churches represented the 7 successive periods of church history from Pentecost to the Rapture, see here. From the link, we can see how the descriptions fit nicely. The only problem with the view is the last part concerning the Church in Laodicea, with regards to the lukewarm Christianity. Now, isn’t lukewarm better than cold? Why did Jesus said “I wish that you were one or the other!” Why is cold better than lukewarm? The secret is this: the law is cold; there is no warm, no mercy, just plain faceless law. Grace on the other hand is hot; it is personal, passionate and adoring. There is nothing wrong with the law; it is God’s immaculate level of holiness and standard that defines Him, but the only problem is that sinful human beings can never be able to match that level required by God’s law. So once people understand their own inadequacy, they will feel the need for something better. And that is where the grace of God, the passion of Christ that took the wrath of God upon Himself comes in. So the whole point is that our faith and hope of salvation is on Jesus and His finished work on the cross only.

Lukewarm Christianity is mixing the cold and the hot; that is, mixing law and grace together. The result is that people are made to believe they can keep the law, make it on their own, choosing laws they can keep, and looking upon Jesus with only the stuff they can’t keep, limping along with a part Christ’s righteousness and part their own stinking ones, failing to recognize the full redemption of Jesus. Our Redeemer is then reduced to like an on-call helpdesk, normally not bothered-only to be activated as and when required, that is lukewarm!

In Acts 5:1-11, Ananias and Sapphira fell dead after lying to Peter about the amount of money they wanted to give to the apostles. Peter rebuked them for lying to the Holy Spirit and God Himself. There are claims that Ananias and Sapphira were true believers but sadly, they were punished by death-on-the-spot for their lying. Stop here, read that again! Does it bother you? Even earthly parents don’t discipline their children by killing them, right?

Malcolm has written a good post comparing Ananias of Acts 5 and Ananias of Acts 9, see here.  From the Bible, the Ananias of Acts 9 was descibed as “there was a disciple named Ananias” but the Ananias of Acts 5 was descibed as “But there was a certain man named Ananias who,”  Comparing it side-by-side, the subtle difference is as night & day; a disciple verse a certain man. In addition, notice also the But in Acts 5; that will mean that it is contrasting to a previous subject. So let’s go back to Acts 4, and we see this: For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles. Acts 4:36-37   The apostles had apparently endorsed this Joseph, thus, I am very certain that Ananias and Sapphira were not true believers.

Although a common ideology, I cannot find it anywhere in the Bible that says the Holy Spirit convicts believers of their sin. What I found is this: because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. 1 Thessalonians 1:4 (NIV)  but when I checked the other translation, I like it better: For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true.  1 Thessalonians 1:4 (NLT)  The conviction here is actually of comforting assurance, how lovely.

A Review Of A Book Review (Destined To Reign), The WindWhat was the role of the Holy Spirit? In John 14:15-31, Jesus promised to give us the Advocate, or Comforter, or Encourager, or Counselor, or Helper; not a Prosecutor. Think about it, we don’t need the Holy Spirit to convict sins on believers, the devil is already doing a great job, working overtime accusing us (Revelation 12:10). The Holy Spirit will however convict or expose the world (not believers) of sin because they do not believe in Christ. Don’t mix believers and the world as one subject. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me;  John 16:8-9   I love how Romans 8:16 expresses the role of the Holy Spirit: So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”  The Holy Spirit is a stamp of endorsement of God’s relationship with us that we can call Him Father! What a wonderful revelation!  Whoever is preaching the so-called “spirit-inspired” conviction of sin within the church walls are not building up the church, but sadly, tearing them down.

In summary, God’s anger is directed at the world, but never directed at true believers. There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ, period. But we don’t use that as an excuse to sin because the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed us from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do by sending his own Son Jesus Christ in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. Those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. The sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. But we are not controlled by your sinful nature. We are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in us. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to Him at all.) The Holy Spirit gives us life because you have been made right with God. And through the power of the Holy Spirit we can put to death the deeds of our sinful nature, for all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. The Holy Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.  (Romans 8:1-16)

Hello, you still here? Great!

2. God’s Law: Are there any positive value and use for the Old Testament’s law for present-age Christians?

A Review Of A Book Review (Destined To Reign), As explained earlier, the law was to show and define God’s pristine standards and level. By itself it is good because it draws the characteristics and nature of God. Sadly however, the law is way over human’s standard and ability but the law cannot lower itself to accept the people. In that sense, the law is cold and hard. By preaching law, no matter how gracefully done, it cannot help the people from their “sinful indifference and presumption” because human beings just cannot help themselves. Just like you cannot teach a pre-schooler quantum physics because it will simply overwhelms the kid, regardless of how graceful/patient the teacher is or how sincere the kid wants to learn. Both the ends just don’t meet, no matter how you try. If it is humanly possible, if we can do it by ourselves, then Jesus didn’t have to come down to earth and sacrifice Himself on the cross for us.

Before Christ came, we were like children; we were slaves to the basic spiritual principles of this world. But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children (Galantian 4:3-5). You see, Jesus came under the law, to fulfill the law, that we are freed from the law. So after when we are free, why do we still want to reminisce the law? There are no fond memories there.

Tell me, you who want to live under the law, do you know what the law actually says? The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave wife and one from his freeborn wife. The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise. These two women serve as an illustration of God’s two covenants. The first woman, Hagar, represents Mount Sinai where people received the law that enslaved them. And now Jerusalem is just like Mount Sinai in Arabia, because she and her children live in slavery to the law. But the other woman, Sarah, represents the heavenly Jerusalem. She is the free woman, and she is our mother. Gal 4:21-26

A Review Of A Book Review (Destined To Reign), Rusty Crusty ChainEven the Bible says that there is nothing positive about the law! I didn’t say that, the Bible did. Why are we still holding on to the chains of our slavery even after we are freed. Why are we still hiding behind the bars even after the prison gates were blasted open? Walk out of your prison cells, Christ have already set you free! But what do the Scriptures say about that? “Get rid of the slave and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” So, dear brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman; we are children of the free woman. Gal 4:30-31  We are not the children under law but we are the children under grace. We are told to get rid of the slave and the son; get rid of the law and its mentality!

Some passages were brought up to with regards to “balance” God’s law. In Matthew 5:19-20, the full passage is here, Jesus declared that He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it; to accomplish its purpose. The purpose of the law is for Jesus to come fulfill, not us. One possible interpretation is that if anyone ignores the least of any commandments, they are actually ignoring Jesus and His ministry; will be the least. And anyone who obeys Jesus who is the fulfillment of God’s law will be great in the kingdom of heaven. In James 1:25, what do you suppose the perfect law is? Read carefully, “the perfect law that sets you free“.  Law never set anyone free, instead a law binds everyone to a condition; you are never free if you are limited and constrainted by the law. Therefore, I believe “the perfect law that set us free” is referring to Jesus, the perfect fulfillment of the law and in His fulfillment, we are set us free because we then don’t not need to labour towards that fufillment. In Hebrews 7:28 it says: For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

The point here is that there is nothing very positive with the law, at least from where we were (in sin). The functionality of the law is to show the standard which human beings can never meet. However, Jesus came and becomes the perfect fulfillment of the law, setting us free from the bondage of sin and the slavery of the law. The only law now is to love, and we love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). We are able meet that law because Jesus first fulfilled that law by loving us. The only thing positive about this is Jesus Christ, our dear Lord. Our gratitude and thanksgiving should be to Him, not to the law.

3. God’s Healing – Are we to expect it or not?

A Review Of A Book Review (Destined To Reign), mindful of every strideThere are 252 accounts in the NLT Bible translation that contains the root word, heal, see here. With that, I say “Healing” warrants being a major subject in the Bible. However, why many are still skeptical about one of the main pillar in biblical teachings puzzles me. God intended for all His children to be healthy, spiritually and physically. Adam and Eve were created perfect, without any illness or disease. Even though with the fall of man, the original perfect health has been degrading (Genesis 5), God in His mercy continues to counter this curse by His divine healing. This can be seen through the Old Testament, during Jesus’ and the apostles’ ministries. So why are there so many questions about healing and why some even say healing is not definite?

In the Bible, there are some mentions of people falling ill, including apostle Paul (Galatians 4:13-14 / Philippians 2:26-27 / 1 Timothy 5:23 / 2 Timothy 4:20). However, what does that tell us? It simply tells us that believers can still fall sick and in fact, still do in present times. This is all because of sin; all the sufferings are resulted from sin. It comes through not only from Adam since the beginning but also of more immediate transgressions, like when people neglect or abuse their own health. But sin is always the root cause of it all.

In Philippians 4:12-13, the Bible ON NO ACCOUNT  teaches us to be prepared to endure illness. “I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.”  The passage speaks about earthly materials; full stomach or empty, with plenty or little; sickness or ill-health is never a contention. It is never the will of God for His children to be sick and it is always His will that His children receive healing. Don’t earthly parents feel likewise too? Then why do we accuse God of any lesser?

The main point here is that it is one thing to be sick because of sin, it is another to expect healing because of grace. The Bible did not promise that people will not fall sick, but the Bible did promise that true believers will receive health and healing.   Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  James 5:14-16  There are people who says, “Oh well, just pray and wait to see if God wants to heal you. You may not always be healed, it all depends…” Depends on what? mood swings? That is not our god, our loving God in Bible is very clear: The Lord will make you well!

The first priority of God is the healing of the inside which is the spiritual, by seeding and building faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. God is foremost concern of the inside where it will determine our place in eternity (Matthew 10:28-32); it is His desire that none should perish. First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.  Matthew 23:26  There may be cases where God demonstrates Himself by manifesting the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control instead of immediate miraculous healing. His focus is first healing us of our inner beings, that is the spiritual healing then follows by other forms of healing like emotional, mental and physical. The over arching will of God is healing of all His beloved children demonstrating His love so that we can glorify Him in our healing.

Healing comes in many forms too. It may be immediate and miraculous, but it may also be progressive and natural, in some case it may be delayed for whatever reason. But whatever it is, we cannot allow the devil, the unbelievers, the skeptics and the wrong teachings to rob us of the very faith and hope that our God will heal because the Bible is certain of God’s promises to us in healing. Let the Holy Spirit show you what kind of God He really is! We must have the good expectation in faith and hope that our healing will come to us and our loved ones because our focus is on Jesus Christ who is raised up like the bronze snake where anyone who looks upon Jesus will receive healing (John 3:14). Hallelujah!

Okay, that all I have for you. I really hope it is helpful and enriching to you as it has been for me. Would love to hear from you too if you have anything more to add or share with the body of Christ. Hmm… Hope I am not neglecting my darling wife… Oh dear Lord, I need a vacation… 

Comments
  1. Craig says:

    I could do with a working holiday.
    And maybe a wife! 🙂

  2. King David says:

    Hahaha… Thanks Craig…
    🙂

  3. Stanley Wong says:

    hi king david,

    thanks for your thoughtful and enlightening article – it has rebutted some of the points raised by the reviewer which in essence tried to “balance” the gospel of grace preached by Pastor Prince in his book.

    i especially like your analysis of Anaias where you saw the importance of the word “but”. Pastor Prince has always said that there is no insignificant detail in the bible and your analysis truly reflected that.

    however, if i may, i would like to draw your attention to your take on the letter to the “Church in Ephesus-You have forsaken your first love.”

    Pastor Prince has preached on this before. He said that “forsaken your first love” does not refer to “churches who have forsaken their love for Jesus” but rather it refers to churches who have forgotten that God loves them – 1 John 4:19 (NASB) We love, because He first loved us.

    Many Christians struggle in their daily walk because they are focused on their self effort i.e. how much they love God/Jesus. On the contrary, we should be like John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, focusing on how much God/Jesus loves us.

    i hope my comment has been helpful. Shalom.

  4. King David says:

    hi stanley,

    thanks for highlighting an important point. i think the NLT translation expresses better: “You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!” Rev 2:4

  5. Brenda says:

    God job King David. I was rather sad to hear and see so much critism on Prince’s book Destined To Reign. I myself a young christian and been blessed by Prince’s teaching. I rather sad to see many christians do not see us as one body of Christ. We christians fight and attack each other in internet. Does it glorify Jesus? NO! One of viewer who is none believer was laughing at us!! My heart was aching after reading that. Since then I been praying to God to gather all denominations together, stand as a single solid body of Christ, and only one name which is Grace, His Loving Kindness.

  6. King David says:

    Hi Brenda,

    You have a lovely spirit in you. You may be a young believer but you are indeed sensitive to the Holy Spirit. It is not how long you have been a believer, it is how close you walk in the Spirit.

    Yes, it is saddening to see christians going at each other on the internet while the world laugh its head off at us. I guess in some ways, its worse than ancient christians bringing each other to court. The Bible teaches us to settle our differences within ourselves based on the Word.

    But we must also understand that our struggles are not with flesh and blood but are spiritual battles (Ephesians 6:12). To God there is only one unified Church, denominations are man-made and thus subjected disparity.

    Keep praying that the Word of God and the working of the Holy Spirit can open eyes and break the harden-hearts to see the true grace and gospel of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.

    And it will happen.

  7. jedidiah says:

    dear king david,

    thank God for your blog! i’ve been looking for explanations on the annanias and sapphira incident, a question i’ve had since i read pastor prince’s book.

    the part on healing was also helpful.

    God bless you always and may He reveal more of Himself to us each day!

    jedidiah

  8. Duion says:

    What does fallen from grace mean? If you say believers who try to mix grace with law has fallen from grace does it mean they have lost their salvation? If so it still doesn’t fit in with JP doctrine of once saved always saved.

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