Posted Jan 26, 2017 by Michael L. Brown

On Friday, January 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 the points 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 that he would not be interested in dialoging 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 it 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, to those set free from severe drug addictions through his preaching of the gospel of grace.

While I gladly acknowledged those testimonies and said that 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 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 principle 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. 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 up 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, that sin is terribly destructive, and that 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 that he is not living under grace (otherwise sin would not have dominion over him) and that he 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 that 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 that the primary role of the Holy Spirit is to remind us that we are the righteousness of God in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 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 Revelation 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 his 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 that Pastor Prince will come under attack for meeting with me and welcoming me warmly as a brother, and I’m sure that 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.

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Dean Agnor posted a comment · Apr 26, 2017
Its sad to see that MBs efforts to correct and unify the body of Christ are endlessly interpreted by some as collaboration with the enemy. The fact is, those teachers who feel called to emphasize the grace of God will be labeled as false by a certain contingent no matter what the particulars are. It is the EMPHASIS that is seen as out of balance and therefore heretical. Christians need to remind themselves that it is not the over-emphasis of grace that marks the weight of Paul's teaching on the subject. It is the ABSENCE of real grace that Paul must address in light of Jewish culture mixed with Christianity. The real question is, how similar is the evangelical culture to the Jewish culture Paul seeks to address?
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P N Chong posted a comment · Mar 05, 2017
The following are some comments I sent to Pastor Yang after I saw your article on Charisma News. It was initially brought to my attention by a person in Pastor Yang's Cornerstone Church. Apart from deleting the name of this person, I have also made some grammatical corrections, and clarified some statements. "Thank you for replying, Pastor Yang. I have read and studied MB's two books on hyper-grace. I know his position. And with some exceptions, I am in line with his convictions. I have also benefitted from his books on Jewish evangelism. I speak to Jews whenever I can. The problem with his article, which " . . . " sent me, and which somehow came to me on google, was that by stating so many points of agreement with JP, he (Michael Brown) appears to stand in solidarity with JP. I read that article carefully. Not less than 8 times, and also with other words, MB declares that he agrees with JP. To those who know less, and I think that may include many members in Cornerstone, that article may have encouraged them to follow JP. And you will agree that that is dangerous. The apostles Paul and John warned us of associating with such types. There is an article on the web, dated 26 Jan 2017, on Polemics Report, with a picture of MB's right hand on JP's shoulder, both smiling widely. The title was "Michael Brown Issues Thumbs-Up to Joseph Prince." How do you think the average church member will react to a title like that? I think serious damage-control might be in order. While MB is now engaging with JP privately, people may be tempted to explore JB's "hyper-grace"! It seems to me that in trying to reach out to JP, and while he is reaching out to JP, the sheep are being led to the wolves! I think that article is a potential disaster! The writer of that report wrote, "It seems that Brown's charismania lacks the Holy Spirit almost together, if the absence of discernment in their camp is any indication." But I am not so concern of MB's lack of discernment, if any. I am concern about the effects of that article on those who need our leaders' guidance and protection. It seems to me that the leaders are in danger of leading the sheep into deceptive paths! There is no shortage of people who have engaged JP. Tons of articles have appeared on the net. For example Justin Peters had a video on JP's heresy. As far as I know, the Biblical guide is a straightforward repudiation of that which is wrong. The Bible shows us how Paul, Peter, John and Jude deal with those who would try to mess up the temple of the Living God. Perhaps post-modern attitude has entered the church? Perhaps we are trying to say we know better than the apostles! We want to be nice and not belligerent? You had spent 6 hours debating Joseph Prince, and people continue to be deceived. What has changed? I am a mere lay person, and possess no authority. But I would spend time warning others of JP's deceit. Thankfully, by God's grace, I had managed to turn some away from JP's dangerous heresy. I hope Cornerstone will have a session with you, or your appointees explaining and warning your congregation about the misleading article by MB, and about JP's heresy. It is OK that I am not involved. But I hope you will address that and correct things to your church members. May God enrich you with wisdom that you may shepherd your flock to glorify our Lord. P N Chong" Dear Dr Brown, you know that not everything in heretical doctrines are necessary wrong. The danger is distortion of what which is true. All that flies have to do is to lay some excrements on the food, and they will create trouble. By emphasizing so many points of agreement with JP in such a manner, you had undermined the dangerous elements of JP's teachings. In trying to be "gracious" and "brotherly" to JP, you may have just made yourself "cruel" to the average sheep, and undermined what Scripture teaches.
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Sharon Unger posted a comment · Feb 03, 2017
I'm glad to hear of your dialog with each other about your views on the grace movement, it reminds me of the book of Acts when many of the the desciples disagreed with Paul but they would all meet together and pray and discuss their concerns and they were able to come to agreement as they worked it out among themselves with the Lord's help I'm sure ! Praising God for this uncountered between the two of you! Glad to know that Joseph Prince is on the right path as far as the word of truth goes .
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Christina889 posted a comment · Jan 30, 2017
No comment!
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Christina889 posted a comment · Jan 30, 2017
No comment!
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Rev. Randy K. posted a comment · Jan 29, 2017
That is an interesting perspective Letoka; however, I thought just the opposite. It looks to me like Dr. Brown is enjoying the peace of God and the grace of God while Mr. Prince--who claims to have a greater revelation of God's grace than all the rest of us--does not look like he is at peace, nor does it look like he is enjoying the grace of God. Maybe his conscience was bothering him for not being totally honest in his meeting with Dr. Brown. Mr. Prince has either changed his beliefs quite a bit from what he wrote in his book, "Destined To Reign," or else he was not being truthful with Dr. Brown. Having read his book enough times, I would certainly enjoy having an interview with him. To being with, I would like to know if he still believes that most of Jesus' teachings don't apply to those of us under the New Covenant because when Jesus came He was still ministering under the Old Covenant.
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T. Letoka posted a comment · Jan 29, 2017
That picture of yours with that guy is disappointing, you're too soft. God does not have cheap grace
Deancooper posted a comment · Jan 27, 2017
We can all "agree that God calls us to holiness, that sin is terribly destructive", or that grace "teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions", but in the end, if grace means all of our sins (both present and future) are forgiven, then what does it matter? Take a more minor sin like that of over eating. It may well have consequences, but if I'm forgiven and going to heaven, then the price that I'll pay for that over-indulgence seems insignificant. It seems to me that something is missing in this discussion on grace. Where does the fear of the Lord fit into all this, or dying to self? To me, it isn't that grace empowers us, or teaches us, or calls us to die to self. It's simply that when you accept God's grace, you agree to His terms, which are that you die to self and enthrone God as Lord of your life. For me, grace is God's loving kindness that paid the price so the door to His kingdom is now open. But by going through that door, you enter His kingdom -- where He rules and reigns. If He doesn't reign in your life, then you haven't gone through that door and you haven't received His grace. And if you try to go through that door but fail to make Him Lord of your life, then there should be real fear of what will happen to you. No?
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Rev. Randy K. posted a comment · Jan 27, 2017
While I respect you as much as any Christian leader in the Body of Christ Dr. Brown, I have to respectfully disagree with you. I believe this is the first time I have disagreed with something you have written that is of any significance. One question I would have liked for you to ask Joseph Prince is whether he still agrees with everything he has written or whether he has changed some of his viewpoints. I have read both of your books on grace and Joseph Prince's book on grace, "Destined to Reign." In fact, I have read over Joseph Prince's book several times. The first big problem I have with Prince's teaching on grace is his insistence that most of Jesus' teachings don't apply to those of us under the New Covenant because when Jesus came He was still ministering out of the Old Covenant. What a convenient way to get around so many of Jesus' teachings on asking for forgiveness and the need for believers to repent. That teaching is flat out heresy. There are close to a dozen other teachings of Prince on grace, such as "Once Saved, Always Saved," that are contrary to the Holy Scriptures. I don't have time to go into all of them right now, but I would encourage you to read his book, "Destined to Reign" if you haven't. It is a real eye-opener. Prince either changed his belief about holiness or he wasn't being honest with you Dr. Brown because he is quite insistent in his book that once we are born again we are as holy as we will ever be. And yet in your article here you say that he agrees that sanctification (holiness) is a process. So, which way is it? Did he change his belief on this issue or was he being dishonest with you? In his book, Prince is also adamant that God does not discipline us. Yet in your article here he claims he does believe that God does discipline us. In his book he is also adamant that the Holy Spirit NEVER convicts Christians of sin. He argues that the Holy Spirit only ever convicts Christians that they are righteous. But in your article here he says something different. What I will pray Dr. Brown is that you are led to read Prince's book, "Destined to Reign" if you haven't, and read it again if you have, and then meet with him again and ask him about all these things he has written in his book that completely contradict the Holy Scriptures and find out whether he has changed his belief about all these things. If so, he should write another book to let us all know which things he has changed his belief on and why. Gotta run right now, but I have more to say on this subject.