John, too Like Jesus & Paul, Teaches a Sanctification for Salvation Doctrine that Joseph Prince Fights Against (Part 2) – By Rev George Ong (Dated 11 Feb 2022)


(This article was also sent to Rev Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian, General Secretary, NCCS office, and for the attention of the Executive Committee Members.)


I covered Part 1 of the same topic last year on 20 November 2021. If you have missed Part 1, it may be in your interest to read it before you attempt Part 2; please click here to read.


In Part 1, I have covered passages in the epistles of John. In this article in Part 2, I am covering passages in the gospel of John.


Even though John was the one who writes the gospel of John, in the following passages that we will be examining, it is actually Jesus who speaks those words that John writes.


So from hereon, for most of this article, I will now highlight what Jesus teaches, instead of what John writes.


A. John 5:29 (& Romans 2:6-8)


On the issue of sanctification for salvation, both Jesus and Paul are on the same page:


John 5:29 NIV (Jesus)

And come out those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.


Romans 2:6-8 NIV (Paul)

6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.


Jesus and Paul are on the same page on sanctification because Paul had learnt it from Jesus. Both of them teach that if we do good works of sanctification, we will rise to live or God will give us eternal life. But if we do works of evil, we will be condemned by God’s wrath and anger.


Does that mean that both Jesus and Paul don’t believe in the essentiality of justification for salvation? Of course not!


Jesus Himself mentions many times in the gospels that one needs to believe in Him in order to have saving faith. Paul, too, teaches on the critical issue of justification – about the righteousness of God in Christ that needs to be received because no one can save himself, especially in the Book of Romans. 


But what both Jesus and Paul are stressing in John 5:29 and Romans 2:6-8 is that besides justification, our works of sanctification are just as important to prove whether we are saved.


Jesus says in John 5:29,


“those who have done what is good will rise to live.”


Paul also says in Roman 2:7,


“To those who by persistence in doing good he will give eternal life.”


Both Jesus and Paul unambiguously state that what we have done and our doing (sanctification) is necessary whether we will rise to live or whether God will grant us eternal life.


This contradicts Joseph Prince’s teaching that our salvation only depends on our believing (justification) and that it has nothing to do with our doing (sanctification). Prince teaches the half and false gospel that our salvation is all about our justification and our sanctification has no part in it.


But what Jesus and Paul have shown is that it is in our doing that proves our believing – whether we do works of good (sanctification) or evil can affect our salvation.


The point really is that the only way to tell a person’s faith is by his works and the most concrete way of telling whether someone is justified is by his sanctification.


B. John 11:25-26 & John 8:51


Jesus says:


John 11:25-26 NIV

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”


The word translated ‘believing’ in V26 is in the present continuous tense in Greek. In other words, Jesus declared that one would never die spiritually as long as he believes, not just once (at the point of saying the sinner’s prayer), but continuously, throughout a person’s life.


So what happens if one declares he believes in Jesus when he says the sinner’s prayer, and then one year later, he leaves God, will he die spiritually? The answer is obvious. This is because while he believed when he received Christ into his life, he didn’t continue to believe one year later. 


Jesus also says:


John 8:51 NIV

51 “Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”


The word ‘obey’ is also in the present continuous tense, meaning, we must not only obey once when we said the sinner’s prayer 10 years ago (justification), but we must keep on obeying Christ (sanctification).


Did Jesus in John 8:51 say,


“If you have right-believing or if you keep on declaring you have the righteousness of God in Christ (justification), as Joseph Prince always champions, you will never see death?”


No, but Jesus says that if you continue to obey, (sanctification) you will never see death.


There is no such thing as a believer who believes but doesn’t obey. A believer (justification) of Christ is one who obeys (sanctification) Christ, and the one who obeys Christ is a believer of Christ.


Taking what Jesus says in both John 8:51 and John 11:26 together,


John 11:26 NIV

26 “and whoever lives by believing in me will never die….”


John 8:51 NIV

51 “Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death,”


the Lord Jesus is clearly saying that we will have to continue to believe (justification) in John 11:26 and continue to obey (sanctification) in John 8:51 so we will never die and we will never see death.


Jesus is not only our Saviour and Redeemer to save us from our sins when we believe in Him, John 11:26 – justification, but He is also our Lord and Master, who requires us to obey Him, John 8:51 –sanctification.


What Joseph Prince does is he will show you just one half of the truth in John 11:26 and hide from you the other half of the truth in John 8:51 to promote his ‘justification-only salvation without sanctification’ salvation doctrine. His half-truth deception at play again.


“While the initiation of salvation is by the grace of God and the faith of man, no consummation is possible without our obedience to Him.” (George Ong)


C. John 15:1-6


How many sermons have we heard that John 15:1-6 is about exhorting Christians to “draw closer to Jesus” by abiding and remaining in Him so that they can bear much fruit? Such sermons give the idea that abiding or remaining in Christ is just an option for believers to consider. This is far from the truth.


Abiding or remaining in Christ is equivalent to being saved, as Jesus made it so clear:


“If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned” (Jn 15:6).


Those who don’t abide or remain in Christ are damned. But for those who remain in Christ and bear fruit, the Father prunes, removing what is undesirable to Him in order that the branch might bear more fruit (Jn 15:2). That is the work of God in the process of sanctification.


John in John 15:2, Paul in Romans 11:22 and Jesus in Luke 13:9 all stated clearly that believers could be cut off if they don’t remain, bear fruit or continue in God’s kindness:


John 15:2 (John)

2 “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”


Romans 11:22 NIV (Paul)

22 “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.”


Luke 13:9 NIV (Jesus)

9 “If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.”


If Jesus the Son of God, Paul the leading apostle and John the apostle whom Jesus loved, all three said the same thing that believers can be cut off if we don’t remain in Christ and bear fruit and continue in God’s kindness (sanctification), what more do you need to be convinced?


Scripture is consistent. John, Paul and Jesus are all on the same team. They all speak with the same voice that sanctification is required for salvation and the lack of it can affect one’s salvation.


Let’s look at the key text of John 15:1-6:


John 15:1-6 NIV

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”


From the passage in John 15:1-6, we note the following:


First, Christ expects believers to remain or abide in Him. The word ‘remain’ was repeated six times in the passage.


Second, Christ expects believers to bear fruit, more fruit and much fruit. The word ‘fruit’ was repeated six times. That tells us how important remaining in Christ and bearing fruit are to Christ. This is because the presence or absence of remaining in Christ and bearing fruit have eternal implications as my third point will show.


Third, both types of branches (Christians) had the same opportunity to be fruitful. While the fruitful Christian remained in the vine and bore fruit, the fruitless Christian didn’t remain in the vine and didn’t bear fruit, and was cut off (Jn 15:2) and thrown into the fire of judgement and burned (Jn 15:6).


John chapters 14-17, and in particular, John chapter 15 took place at the end of Jesus’ three-year ministry with His disciples. It happened the night before Jesus was crucified. So it contained some of the very moving words of Jesus as these were His last words that were addressed not to the crowds but to His beloved disciples before He was crucified.


The disciples, at this point, were already believers as Jesus addressed those who are “already clean” (Jn 15:3). Because they are already clean, the branches are His disciples or Christians. Though they are Christians and are already cleaned, they can still be cut off if they don’t remain in Christ and bear fruit.


The fact that the withered branch is cut off indicates that the branch is first connected to the vine. It is impossible that Jesus was talking about a person who was never saved to begin with because the branch was once on the vine. A person who was never saved was never on the vine in the first place. A branch on the vine is a believer in Christ.


Yet, again and again, Jesus makes it crystal clear that those who are already clean (already saved) must remain (conditional, sanctification) in Him.


Jesus is crystal clear in his mind that the initiative and responsibility to remain in Him lies mainly in men, not with God:


John 15:4, “…unless you remain in me.”

John 15:5, “…If you remain in me…”

John 15:6, “If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”


Joseph Prince may say:


“George, you and your egoistic and self-centred streak strike again. Why must you keep mentioning YOU, YOU, YOU and you highlight and underline it too? Where is Christ in your theology? In my teaching, I always mention Christ, Christ, Christ. Because I always mention Christ all the time, everyone knows I am Christ-centred in my teaching.”


George would say:


“Hey Joseph, please don’t bark at me. Go, take your grouses with Jesus. I am only teaching what Jesus taught. Did Jesus say: Christ, Christ, Christ or You, You, You? Jesus said, ‘You, You, You mah!’ Have you gone blind? Can’t you read the scriptures? So why are you complaining like an old grandmother and yak, yak, yak! And by the way, in your comments about Christ, Christ, Christ, it plainly shows you are a recalcitrant at interpreting scripture out of context, reading into and twisting texts. Tell me, where are the words Christ, Christ, Christ in the above two phrases in John 15:4-5 and one full verse in John 15:6 that I have mentioned? You even dare to abuse the name of Christ to hide the fact that you are twisting texts and forcibly reading the name of Christ into the texts and using his name in vain. Let me repeat to you again in case you still don’t get it. What did Jesus say? It is not Christ, Christ, Christ BUT You, You, You.”


So Joseph Prince, let me show you again just in case you missed it:


John 15:4, “…unless you remain in me.”

John 15:5, “…If you remain in me…”

John 15:6, “If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”


God may say this to us:


“Hey, child, I’ve done everything possible to save you and to keep you from falling. Over to you now. Don’t pass the buck back to me like what Joseph Prince always does. Prince often mentions My name and the name of Christ not to give Us glory but to make Christianity the easiest thing in the world – that everything is about what Christ and I have done and will do for you and nothing is about what you must do and is responsible for. Who doesn’t want such an easy and effortless Christianity, which is so different from what my Son, Jesus always teaches and epitomises – Costly Christianity?


I’ve already done my part in justifying (justification) you by allowing my Son to suffer and die for you on the cruel cross, and I will continue to help you. But you, too, must do your part (sanctification). I will not do for you what you can and must do. You would have to exercise your responsibility to remain (sanctification). It is not the selfish You, and not the self-centred You that Joseph Prince has been deceiving the people with, but the responsible You. You must remain. You hold the key to your eternal destiny by remaining in Christ. You can appropriate the wonderful inheritance that I’ve given you (justification) by remaining in my Son and bearing fruit (sanctification), or you can forfeit your eternal inheritance by not remaining in Him.


Salvation is not just about My grace and your faith (justification). It is also about the fact that you must remain (sanctification). If you don’t remain and bear fruit, you will be cut off and thrown in the fire and be eternally destroyed.”


The important role of sanctification for salvation that the Lord Jesus teaches in John 15:1-6, contradicts Joseph Prince’s doctrine that salvation is all about God (justification) and nothing about man (sanctification).


So I hope you do remember this principle – what men do or don’t do (remaining or not remaining; sanctification or the lack of it), can either prevent the loss of their salvation or contribute to the loss. That’s not what I said but what Jesus teaches in John 15:1-6.


If you do something by remaining in Christ and bearing fruit, not only will you be saved, but you will bring glory to Father God (Jn 15:8). If you don’t do something by not remaining in Christ and bearing fruit, you will be cut off and thrown into the fire and burned.


While getting saved has nothing to do with man (justification), staying saved has everything to do with man (sanctification).


How do we remain in Christ?


In the context of John 15, the way to remain in Christ is by keeping His commandments (Jn 15:9-10), or they will be taken away, cast out as a withered branch, and burned in the fire:


John 15:9-10 NIV

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.


Here again, lies the crucial importance of obedience – the keeping of Christ’s commandments. If we keep Christ’s commandments and obey Him (sanctification), then we will remain in Him and His love (Jn 15:10).


If there is no obedience in the keeping of Christ’s commandments, one cannot be said to remain in the love of Christ. If a branch does not remain in Christ, he does not bear fruit and would be cut off the vine and thrown into the fire to be burnt.    


Yet, Joseph Prince is unremorsefully teaching against what Christ teaches about the crucial importance of obedience (sanctification) for salvation as Joseph Prince sees obedience (sanctification) in the context of salvation as legalism. 


How can people believe that Prince is Christ-centred when he teaches against Christ’s teachings?


Joseph Prince tells the world that there are no more commandments for New Covenant believers to obey. But Jesus tells us that we must obey His commandments (sanctification) if we are to remain in Him; if not, we will be cut off and thrown into the fires of judgement.


Can’t you see Joseph Prince’s teachings – that you don’t have to obey any commandments for salvation can lead you to hell? This is because if you don’t obey Christ’s commandments, you don’t remain in Christ’s love, and if you don’t remain in His love, you will be cut off to a Christless eternity.


Next, what Jesus said in John 15:1-6 also places Joseph Prince’s ‘once saved, always saved’ doctrine into serious doubt. Now, if salvation were unconditionally assured and a done deal, why would Jesus feel the need to tell anyone to remain in his love and to obey His commandments (Jn 15:9-10)?


The truth is – our salvation is not unconditional (that we are once saved, always saved) but conditional upon our remaining in Him and His love and obeying His commandments and bearing fruit (Jn 15:1-6, 9-10) (sanctification).


Others tried to defend the ‘unconditional eternal security’ doctrine and the ‘justification-only without sanctification’ salvation doctrine of Joseph Prince with the view that while they agree the passage was written to believers, what is at stake is not their salvation but rewards.


But from the plain reading of John 15:6, this is hardly a picture of a Christian losing reward in heaven, but losing his salvation:


John 15:6 NIV

“If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”


Losing rewards is a position that would be very difficult and even impossible to defend. If it is really about rewards, how can Christians be cut off and thrown into the fire and burned? So even though you are a Christian, you must remain and produce fruits (sanctification). If not, you will be cut off.


In other words, remaining in Christ and fruit-bearing (sanctification) is not a reward issue but a salvation issue.


To get around this problem, some say that this passage is not about salvation but ‘discipleship’ and discipline. The branches that are burned are true Christians who are saved, but they will be ‘cast into the ‘fire’ of trial and divine chastisement.’ This is ‘an experience of spiritual education,’ not a picture of divine judgement and the loss of salvation. The burning is not to destroy them and their salvation but to purify their faith and their character.


But this overlooks the fact that all the Biblical examples of burning of vegetation (whether branches, thorns, chaff, or weeds) show that the vegetation is totally burned up. While metal may be purified by fire, there are no examples in scripture of plant, material, or wood being purified by fire.


On the other hand, there are several clear examples of vegetation or plant material being destroyed or consumed by fire, as in Matthew 13:40 ESV: “Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age.” (See also Matt 3:12; Isa 9:18; 2 Sam 23:6-7; Ezek 15:4-6; 19:12):


Matthew 3:12 NIV

12 “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”


Isaiah 9:18 NIV

18 “Surely wickedness burns like a fire; it consumes briers and thorns, it sets the forest thickets ablaze, so that it rolls upward in a column of smoke.”


2 Samuel 23:6-7 NIV

6 “But evil men are all to be cast aside like thorns, which are not gathered with the hand.7 Whoever touches thorns uses a tool of iron or the shaft of a spear; they are burned up where they lie.”


Perhaps, you may say:


“George, you said that in John 15:6, the burning has nothing to do with rewards but salvation. You said that John 15:1-6 is not about losing rewards but salvation. But there is a text that says that burning has to do with rewards, not salvation, and it is found in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.”


1 Corinthians 3:10-15 NIV

10 “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved – even though only as one escaping through the flames.”


It is true that the burning that is referred to in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, has to do with the fact that for various reasons, our rewards may be burned up.


Yet, I want you to note the critical difference here. While the burning in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 has to do with the burning of our rewards, the burning in John 15:6 has to do with the burning of the branches that have been cut off. And what do those cut-off branches represent? – Believers:


John 15:6 NIV

“If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”


So while things (rewards) are burned in 1 Corinthians 3:15, souls are burned in John 15:6. That is the critical difference.


Burning in the fire is the consequence for those ‘once clean’ or ‘once saved’ Christians who fail to remain in Christ by keeping His commandments (Jn 15:9-10).


Burning is an obvious reference to judgement. Being thrown into the fire and burned is rather conclusive to be a picture of final judgement.


The branch that is burned is that disciple who was once in Christ, but he neglected to keep His commandments and ceased to remain in Him (lack of sanctification).


Never count on the salvation decision you made 20 years ago when you said the sinner’s prayer (justification). The key question is, are you remaining in Christ (sanctification)?


If you do not remain, not only will you be cut off, but you will also be thrown into the fire and burned – clearly referring to spiritual destruction and spiritual death. If you do not remain, not only will you lose your reward, you will also lose your salvation.


In summary, I have proven from 2 articles: Part 1 in the previous article (in John’s epistles) and in this article in Part 2 (in John’s gospel) that John, like Jesus and Paul, teaches that sanctification (besides justification) is essential for salvation.


This is in contradistinction with that of Joseph Prince who teaches a ‘justification-only without sanctification’ salvation doctrine.


A gospel that excludes sanctification is a half and false gospel that doesn’t save. If Joseph Prince teaches a false gospel that doesn’t save, how can he not be a heretic?   


Rev George Ong