Joseph Prince has proven himself to be a Hypocrite as he has gone Out of Context again in Matthew 7:20 – by Rev George Ong (Dated 4 August 2022)
Health Minister’s Ong Ye Kung statement & Joseph Prince’s Marred Character
Before I dwell on the topic proper, let me dwell briefly on the statement of Health Minister Ong Ye Kung in Parliament on 1 August 2022 and Joseph Prince’s marred character.
In a Straits Times report, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung was quoted to have said in Parliament on Monday (1 August 2022) that “six in 10 local residents have likely been infected with Covid-19.”
He also said that “about 1.7 million Covid-19 cases have been reported, and the number translates to about 30 per cent of Singapore’s population.”
Frankly, you and I know that the figure is definitely higher as there are many cases that go unreported.
Because of the high number of Singaporeans who got infected, I have personally come across many of my Christian relatives and friends who have been stricken with the disease. I’m sure this is no different from the experiences of most of you.
My 3 children have also caught the disease except for me and my wife. Two of my personal friends have even, sadly, died from it.
I am pretty sure that many of Joseph Prince’s New Creation Church members have also been infected too. What about Prince’s family, Christian relatives and even himself? Perhaps he could share with us.
With such stark and indisputable Covid-19 statistics staring at our face, what is needed is for Joseph Prince to declare and apologise publicly to the world that his teaching that “No virus can come near you,” is a grave doctrinal error.
If Prince is too proud to admit his error, then we would have to conclude that his “No virus can come near you,” teaching is a scam and a lie that is calculated to deceive the Church.
This shows up the real character of Joseph Prince – his sin of pride of not willing to confess and apologise for what he has done wrong.
This testifies again that Joseph Prince is a liar who told the lie publicly that “No virus can come near you,” when so many Christians, not just in Singapore, but also around the world, have been infected with the disease.
This character issue of Joseph Prince becomes important and relevant when we examine the fruit test in Matthew 7:15-20 (V 16 & 20) in my article (see below) about how to identify a false prophet.
(For the last 2 weeks, you have not heard from me because Joseph Prince did not preach at the worship services for 2 Sundays – 17 & 24 July 2022, but two of his pastors did. This does not mean that I have to feature my articles every week.)
Joseph Prince has proven himself to be a Hypocrite as he has gone Out of Context again in Matthew 7:20
(This article was also sent to Rev Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian, General Secretary, National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) office, and for the attention of the Executive Committee Members.)
In a weekly Sunday sermon aired on YouTube on 31 July 2022, last Sunday, 4 days ago, Joseph Prince said the following;
“… like the testimonies that you read, you hear being shared. We have all these testimonies on our website; you can read all about it… Remember Jesus says, ‘By their fruits you shall know them (Matt 7:16,20)’. If ever you hear bad things about your pastor… If ever you hear, ask yourself this: the one who is sharing, who is that person?”
“You see one thing Jesus says. Jesus didn’t say, ‘By their great social media or by their good relationship or by their appearance and all that – by their fruits – the fruit of that ministry – you shall know them (Matt 7:16,20).’”
“So when you hear things, sometimes, ask yourself – where did it come from? Has the person transformed your life? If that person has a ministry – by their fruits – check their fruits – how much fruits they have? If God is working in his life, there will be track records of God’s miracles and works…”
“By their fruits you shall know them (Matt 7:16,20).”
1. Note the Overall Context.
The issue of fruits (“You will know them by their fruits”) that Joseph Prince surfaced in his sermon on 31 July 2022 in Matthew 7:15-20 (V 16 & 20) ought to be viewed in its larger context of Matthew 7:13-23 – including even Matthew 7:24-27.
If one sees them in context, one would realise that there is a close connection between Matthew 7:13-14 and Matthew 7:15-20, and between Matthew 7:15-20 and Matthew 7:21-23 (and even Matthew 7:24-27) – meaning the entire passage of Matthew 7:13-23 (including Matthew 7:24-27) is to be seen as one integral whole.
Matthew 7:13-14 deals with two ways to reach God; only the narrow way leads to life and the broad road to destruction.
Matthew 7:21-23 (and Matthew 7:24-27) teach that only believers who are characterised by obedience (as proof of true faith) will enter the kingdom of God.
Matthew 7:15-20, which is sandwiched between Matthew 7:13-14 and Matthew 7:21-23, highlights the false prophets believers are to beware of and their fruits (“You will know them by their fruits”).
Why should we beware of these false prophets in Matthew 7:15 that Jesus came to warn us of in the context of Matthew 7:13-23?
It is because these false prophets (such as Joseph Prince) do not teach the narrow way, nor do they practise it (Matt 7:14). At the same time, they (such as Joseph Prince) teach the broad way that supposedly leads to life, when, in reality, it leads to destruction (Matt 7:13).
These false prophets (such as Joseph Prince) also do not teach that a lifestyle of obedience as evidence of true faith by doing the Father’s will is the way to enter the kingdom of God (Matt 7:21-23).
They teach that ‘faith’ is all that is required for salvation, and their definition of faith is unbiblically reduced to just a one-minute sinner’s prayer.
The truth is, just as justification without sanctification does not result in true salvation, faith without obedience does not constitute saving faith. (Note that Joseph Prince’s gospel of justification without sanctification and faith without obedience, is a half-gospel and a half-gospel is a false gospel that does not save.)
Or, to put it in another way, true faith must be evidenced by obedience.
James puts it as – faith without the works (of the obedience of Abraham and Rahab) doesn’t save; is useless and dead (Jas 2:14,17,20,26).
“To say that obedience is the cause of our salvation is heretical; to say that our salvation requires no proof of our obedience is equally heretical.” (George Ong)
Matthew 7:24-27, which is the overall summary of the entire Sermon on the Mount, is also related to the immediate context of Matthew 7:13-23, particularly Matthew 7:21-23.
Matthew 7:24-27 reinforces the importance of our obedience to the Father in Matthew 7:21-23.
As an overall summary to the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:24-27 points to the fact that if the people obey the Sermon on the Mount and not just hear, they will not be destroyed by the flood of God’s judgement (Matt 7:25).
But those who merely hear the Sermon on the Mount and don’t obey will be destroyed by the flood of God’s judgement (Matt 7:27).
So, one cannot miss the vital importance of obedience, which is a key idea not only in Matthew 7:13-27 but the entire Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5-7 – and also the entire scriptures – both in the Old and the New Testament.
2. What Fruit is Jesus referring to in Matthew 7:16 & 20?
With this as an overall framework, let’s ask ourselves this key question – what is the fruit Jesus is referring to in Matthew 7:16 & 20?
Matthew 7:15-20 NASB
15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits.”
How do we judge whether someone is a true teacher or a false teacher?
Jesus instructs us to look out for his fruit.
What is the fruit by which people are to be judged by?
Many people have been deceived by Joseph Prince as they have used the wrong criteria to judge fruit.
Joseph Prince said,
“… like the testimonies that you read, you hear being shared. We have all these testimonies on our website; you can read all about it… Remember Jesus says, ‘By their fruits you shall know them (Matt 7:16,20)’.”
This is because Prince has once again gone out of context in Matthew 7:15-20. He has committed this aberration countless times.
What is worse is that Prince keeps championing the idea passionately in his sermons and books that any passage must be interpreted in its context. Yet, he has broken this rule time and again.
On many occasions, Joseph Prince would write in his books and preach in his sermons about the hypocrisy of taking a verse out of its context – when the disturbing truth is, he is the one who regularly does it and the chief culprit who is guilty of it:
Here are 5 instances:
In ‘Destined to Reign’, Page 66, Joseph Prince wrote,
“Let me give you a Bible study tip: When you read the Bible, be sure to read everything within its context because when you take the “text” out of its “context”, what you are left with is a “con”! Many believers are hoodwinked into believing “cons” and erroneous teachings when something is lifted and taught out of its context.”
In ‘Destined to Reign’, Page 95, Joseph Prince wrote,
“I hope that by now, you can see the dangers of lifting the Word of God out of its context. We have to be careful not to take a verse out of its context and build a teaching or doctrine around it. Bible teachings have to be confirmed by several supporting verses and these have to be studied within their proper contexts.”
In ‘Destined to Reign’, Page 136, Joseph Prince wrote,
“It is important to always read Bible verses in their context. Many people end up misinterpreting Bible verses because they fail to do this. One way to read Bible verses in their context (and this is a key Bible interpretation principle) is to identify who the verses are talking about.”
In ‘Unmerited Favour’, Pages 29-30, Joseph Prince wrote,
“One of the things that I always remind my Church is this: Always read a verse in its context because when you take the “text” out of its “context,” it becomes a con! Don’t let anyone con you out of God’s blessings in your life.”
In ‘Unmerited Favor’, Page 188, Joseph Prince wrote,
“When reading the Bible, always look at the context of the verses. When you take the “text” and interpret it out of its “context,” all you are left with is a “con”! So don’t be conned. Read everything in its context.”
Besides these 5 times, I’ve heard him say the same thing many times in his teaching videos/audios.
But what insincerity and pretense when Joseph Prince blatantly breaks the same rules without batting an eyelid that he is asking others to observe.
What do you call a man who keeps breaking the same rules that he strongly advocates?
What do you call a person who commits the same error repeatedly and unrepentantly that he is constantly warning others of?
What do you call a preacher who accuses others of being a con man when he is the guiltiest of them all?
– A hypocrite pure and simple. And hypocrisy is a serious character issue.
Hypocrisy is what Jesus cursed and condemned the Pharisees for 6 times in Matthew 23.
No hypocrite can ever be a true teacher of God’s word and a Christ-centred preacher.
But the more crucial issue is this – how could a true teacher of God’s word not be pricked in his conscience about his hypocrisy when he does the same things over and over again – breaking the same rules about interpreting a text in its context that he strongly advocates?
Let me quote portions of what Peter Tok, an Ex New Creation Church member for 7 years had written:
“… Joseph Prince’s teachings contain many errors as he takes many verses out of their contexts. Taking verses out of their contexts is what he consistently and frequently does. He takes verses out of their contexts as a pretext to preach what he wants.
What is deplorable is that he frequently says on the pulpit that a preacher must always preach a Bible text in its context. Isn’t this hypocrisy – teaching a maxim when he himself is guilty of breaking so many times? In fact, hypocrisy is a serious sin that Jesus severely reprimanded the Pharisees of in Matthew 23.”
For the full testimony of how and why Peter Tok left New Creation Church, kindly click below:
Coming back to the issue – Joseph Prince’s teaching that fruits in Matthew 7:16 and 20 have to do with popularity in the number of testimonies and church size is out of context.
The context of Matthew 7:13-14 to Matthew 7:15-20, indicates the complete opposite:
Matthew 7:13-16 NIV
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. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits…”
Why did Jesus warn us to “Beware of the false prophets,” in Matthew 7:15?
This reason is according to Matthew 7:13-14, the false teachers are the ones who lead the many to travel on the broad way to destruction, while only the few, including Jesus Himself, are travelling on the narrow way that leads to life.
That’s why we are told by Jesus to beware of them in Matthew 7:15, lest they (referring to the many) are deceived by these false prophets to walk the broad road of destruction in Matthew 7:13.
So, this clearly shows the majority are with the false prophets, while the minority belongs to Jesus.
If we go by popularity through the number of testimonies and church size, the false prophets would be a resounding success, and Jesus would be an utter failure – which would be absurd!
If popularity in the number of testimonies and church size are a measure of good fruit, Jesus would have been a miserable failure as He is the one who is leading the few travelling on the narrow road (Matt 7:13-14) – which would be ridiculous!
Would Jesus have used popularity in the number of testimonies and church size as the measure for good fruit in Matthew 7:15-20 after warning us not to be among the many who are headed for spiritual destruction but to be among the few who would find life eternal in Matthew 7:13-14?
This is a crucial point as Joseph Prince has constantly been boasting about the explosive growth of his church as proof that he is teaching true doctrine in his other sermons and writings. This has been used time and again by him and his supporters.
Be warned as Jesus Himself has said that there is no salvation for the many who choose the broad road. There will be plenty of people travelling on the broad road, and the big numbers will give you a false sense of security that you are on the right road.
Isn’t it the same scenario when you happen to worship at New Creation Church, the biggest ‘church’ in Singapore?
And you get the wow and the fantastic feeling of worshipping together with thousands and thousands of people. The enrapturing music, the theatrics, the party atmosphere – Oh! – They are all so exciting and exhilarating, and you begin to feel that this must be it – this must be Jesus’ church.
Don’t be fooled!
You have to remember that according to Jesus, the massive crowds are travelling on the broad road. If you are travelling on a road that is jam-packed with people, you had better think hard again whether this is the right road.
Joseph Prince not only did not denounce this broad road of destruction, on the contrary, he promoted it.
Joseph Prince’s gospel of a no-discipleship, no-suffering, no-martyrdom, you can look young by partaking the Holy Communion, you will be very wealthy as Abraham was with lots of silver and gold as this is your covenantal right, and God will supply you with whatever you want and desire and not just what you need, etc, is nothing but the broad road gospel.
Such a broad-road gospel appeals to the flesh and is bound to attract the masses of carnal audiences and goats instead of sheep to the Sunday services. Even the sheep would be corrupted by the easy and feel-good Christianity of Joseph Prince to become goats.
Joseph Prince’s broad-road doctrine of a salvation without the need to carry our crosses, a gospel without the cost of discipleship, a Christianity without self-denial and martyrdom, is drawing the massive carnal crowds into his church.
You need to think seriously about what Jesus said that only a few are travelling on the narrow road that leads to eternal life.
Ironically, it is when there aren’t too many who are walking with you along this narrow road – that is the road to heaven because it is the road that Jesus is asking you to walk on.
The broad road where the massive crowds are travelling seems to be the right road that leads to life, but it is the road that will lead to your eternal death.
Joseph Prince has often used his gigantic church size to arrogantly prove the fruits of his ministry and the truth of his grace doctrine.
Let me quote portions of what Andrew Tan, an Ex New Creation Church member for 20 years had written:
For the full testimony of how and why Andrew Tan left New Creation Church, kindly click below:
But if we judge only by quantitative results, every cult and heresy that the church has ever known will be able to justify itself.
Phenomenal growth could also be an indicator of false doctrines as throughout history – that’s how many cults have grown that way too.
Just as the fast and furious growth of cancerous cells is an indication of something ominous, fast-growing churches may not necessarily be an indication of healthy growth that honours God.
Most importantly, if we go by what Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14, Joseph Prince and the massive crowds of people who are following him, belong to the many who are travelling on the broad road which leads to destruction.
So, in the context of Matthew 7:13-14, popularity in the number of testimonies and church size can never be what Jesus meant by good fruit in Matthew 7:15-20, particularly, verse 16 and 20, that Joseph Prince wants to deceive us of.
Joseph Prince, who constantly uses popularity in the number of testimonies and church size as the measure to judge good fruit and to vindicate the truth of his doctrine, especially in Matthew 7:16 and 20, has not only gone out of context, but also goes directly against the teachings of Jesus.
To Jesus, numbers are never the telltale signs by which fruits are judged, or the truth of the gospel is vindicated.
Jesus, in Matthew 7:13-14, actually says it is the opposite – that it is the few who will find life but the many are headed towards destruction.
3. Miracles are not the Fruit to Judge by.
Joseph Prince said:
“… check their fruits – how much fruits they have? If God is working in his life, there will be track records of God’s miracles and works…”
By what Joseph Prince said, he is clearly alluding to the many fruits/testimonies in the many ‘miracles’ and healings that have supposedly taken place through his ministry, which he and his pastors have regularly shared in their worship services.
Although miracles, signs and wonders are spectacularly arresting and enticing, they are not necessarily the fruit we are to judge by.
When Moses did the signs and wonders, the magicians of Pharaoh did them too, though on a smaller scale.
And we must never forget that the last false prophet in the Book of Revelation will deceive many by his powerful signs and wonders.
But most importantly, according to the context of Matthew 7:13-23, no matter how spectacular miracles, signs and wonders are, Jesus didn’t accept them as the test of good fruit or true faith in Matthew 7:22-23 NASB:
22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
Jesus said that we could recognise those who are wolves in sheep’s clothing by their fruits in Matthew 7:16 and 20.
But Jesus was not speaking about the fruit of miracles as Joseph Prince would have us believe because Jesus warned in the same context in Matthew 7:22-23 against ‘spiritual leaders’ who work miracles or supernatural manifestations but did not do the will of God in Matthew 7:21.
According to Jesus, you could perform the greatest miracle (Matt 7:22), but if your life is not characterised by obedience to the Father, you will still be cast in hell (Matt 7:23).
“The prophesying of the greatest event which comes true, the casting out of the biggest demon which awes many, and the performing of the most spectacular miracle that amazes the world, can never substitute for simple obedience.” (Matt 7:21-23) (George Ong)
Again, Joseph Prince, in alluding to miracles as one of the fruits in Matthew 7:15-20, has gone out of context, as Jesus didn’t view such miracle workers positively but negatively – even as to cast them out of His eternal presence (Matt 7:23).
4. The End does not Justify the Means.
Next, Joseph Prince is very aggressive about highlighting the many positive and ‘life-changing’ testimonies arising from the preaching of his grace message – just to prove his critiques wrong that he is teaching false doctrine.
Do the testimonies that Joseph Prince produces, notwithstanding that a portion of them may be true, vindicate his teachings?
It’s purely because of the true grace of God – not the false grace teachings of Joseph Prince.
God can use anything to convert a person. He can even make the donkey talk to fulfil His purposes (Num 22:28). By the true grace of God, one can even be converted by a cult group.
I have heard from two of my friends in two separate incidents who were converted through a cult group.
Are their conversions genuine?
They say they are.
It is not impossible that this can be so as the Holy Spirit can use just a few words, say, ‘love and the forgiveness of Jesus’ that is said by the cult to convict a person, and at the same time, blind him to the rest of the words that this cult had said that are false.
But thank God that when both of my friends realised the groups they belong to were cults, they immediately came out of it.
One excellent example (not the two friends that I mentioned) is the case of Dr Chris Kang. Although his salvation was triggered by the ministry of Joseph Prince, when he later realised that Joseph Prince is a heretic, he left New Creation Church and even wrote against his heresies.
If you haven’t had the chance to read Dr Chris Kang’s testimony of how and why he came out of New Creation Church, please click below:
I do not deny there are genuine converts in New Creation Church, yet at the same time, there are many false converts too.
Trouble is these genuine converts in New Creation Church continue to stay in the church. And soon, these sheep would be corrupted by the Pseudo-grace doctrine of Joseph Prince to become goats to their damnation.
Let’s come back to the issue – do the testimonies that Joseph Prince produces, notwithstanding that a portion of them may be true, vindicate his teachings?
No, it doesn’t as the end cannot justify the means.
No amount of true testimonies can ever justify Joseph Prince’s false grace doctrines.
If the end can justify the means, we must also accept that the cults that converted my two friends were preaching true doctrine too. But we know they are not preaching true doctrine as they are cults.
If the end justifies the means, can we also argue that since the poor were helped out of their poverty (end), Robin Hood must have done the right thing to rob the rich for the sake of the poor (means)?
The end (testimonies) does not justify the means (doctrine).
No amount of true testimonies can ever justify Joseph Prince’s false grace doctrines.
False doctrine will always be false doctrine – pure and simple, and nothing can change this fact.
Let me be so daring to say, Joseph Prince could produce one thousand true testimonies a day, but when his doctrines are false, nothing, not even a million testimonies, can alter that fact.
Since the end does not justify the means – no amount of changed-lives and souls-saved, however genuine, can ever justify the serious doctrinal errors of Joseph Prince’s teachings.
If we measure the truth or falsity of a doctrine by the size of the congregation and popularity in the vast number of testimonies that Joseph Prince has always alluded to, he indeed qualifies himself to be a false prophet, as the false prophets in Jeremiah’s days had convinced the bulk of the nation to follow them which Jeremiah was trying to warn them of.
If we measure the truth or falsity of a doctrine by the large number of people who have been convinced by a particular theology by way of testimonies, Jeremiah, who had to prophesy alone and contend against the whole nation, would be a false prophet – which would be ludicrous!
Although true testimonies can result from false doctrine, they do not necessarily prove the truth of that given doctrine.
Don’t ever be deceived by Joseph Prince, who is so eager to produce the number of testimonies week after week in the Sunday worship services about people who were set free from their bondage because they heard his grace teachings.
However, if there are tragic testimonies that people’s lives have been wrecked (and there are many) because they practise his teachings, he is never going to tell you.
Let me quote portions of what Lindsay Lim, an Ex New Creation Church member for 18 years had written:
If you have not read the full testimony of how and why Lindsay Lim left New Creation Church, please click below:
Let me quote portions of what Glenn Fong, an Ex New Creation Church member for 15 years had written:
If you would like to read the full testimony of how and why Glenn Fong left New Creation Church, please click below:
Let me quote portions of what Yvonne Tan, an Ex New Creation Church member for 20 years had written:
If you wish to read the full testimony of how and why Yvonne Tan left New Creation Church, please click below:
If you have not also read the story of one who died of drug overdose and the Hyflux Fiasco because of Joseph Prince’s false teachings, kindly click below:
What Joseph Prince has hidden from you are the plenty of other tragic stories of the many who are destroyed by his doctrine.
There are many who have related to me (first-hand stories) about their husbands and sons-in-law, etc, who have committed adultery (and did not repent) and are still worshipping at New Creation Church.
Many have also told me they have witnessed many people from New Creation Church gamble by buying Toto (lottery) on a regular basis.
To make matters worse, such gambling or drug addicts who are supposedly delivered by Joseph Prince’s grace preaching – if they were to go back to their gambling or drug addiction out of human weakness – will then rationalise that their addiction is not as bad:
“God still loves me and will never judge or get angry with me or leave me no matter what
– well, that’s what Joseph Prince teaches.
I am once righteous, always righteous, and my salvation can never be taken away from me
– well, that’s what Joseph Prince teaches.
I must focus on my righteousness and not my sins, even though I am sinning
All my past, present, including my future sins for the next 40 years have all been completely forgiven, even though I have not yet committed them because of the finished work of Christ
– well, that’s what Joseph Prince teaches.
When someone comes to confront me of my sins, it is not the Holy Spirit who comes to convict me, but Satan who comes to accuse me
Hence, whether or not I have kicked the habit and sin of gambling or drugs doesn’t really matter after all as all my future sins in the next 10-30 years about my gambling or drugs have been forgiven, and I have a ticket to heaven which can never be taken away from me no matter how I live.”
And now armed with the doctrinal justification provided by Joseph Prince’s teachings, that person can now continue to enjoy their destructive sins of drugs or gambling without being bothered by a troubled conscience – all because of Joseph Prince’s heretical teachings.
What a horrifying and hellish scenario!
Joseph Prince is such an irresponsible preacher who only knows how to claim the credit of his success but he would have nothing to do with any fallout of his doctrines – and instead ‘blame’ those who have faithfully followed his grace doctrine for bringing the pain of misery on themselves because of the lack of faith or the lack of revelation of His grace message.
5. The Fruits of Character, Sound Doctrine & Obedience.
Most commentators and Bible scholars are of the opinion that fruits in Matthew 7:16 and 20 refer to the character (good or bad) and the doctrinal teachings (sound or unsound) of the false prophets, which I agree with.
Concerning both the tests of character and doctrinal teachings, Joseph Prince has failed miserably.
If you have followed most of my articles, you would have noticed that I have proven time and again that Joseph Prince is a serial liar, a serial double-talker and a serial hypocrite and his teachings are clearly heretical.
So, according to Matthew 7:15-20, by the test of character and doctrinal teachings, Joseph Prince, indeed, qualifies to be a false prophet.
However, it is my opinion that according to the specific context of Matthew 7:15-23, it would also probably include obedience (or the lack of it – disobedience), which is a specific manifestation of character.
Regarding the issue of obedience, one would have to read Matthew 7:20 and Matthew 7:21 in one flow (which many seldom do) to see the connection between them:
Matthew 7:20-21 NASB
20 So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
So according to context, what fruit does Jesus have in mind when He said:
“You will know them by their fruits” (Matt 7:20)?
In the immediate context of Matthew 7:21-23 to Matthew 7:20, Jesus was likely to be referring to the fruit of obedience.
After Jesus had talked about knowing the type of fruit that could tell whether one is a false prophet in Matthew 7:15-20, He then immediately talked about who are the true and false disciples in Matthew 7:21-23.
The true disciples (which would include true prophets) are those who obey and do the will of the Father (Matt 7:21), while the false disciples (which would include false prophets) don’t obey because they are lawless (Matt 7:22-23).
Have you noticed something?
Such high-profile ministries of prophesying, casting out demons and performing miracles in Matthew 7:22, would indicate that many were prophets, pastors, preachers, evangelists, missionaries, and leaders.
When these high-profile people such as prophets, pastors, preachers, evangelists, etc, are barred from entering God’s kingdom, that must have come as a great shock that they had never expected.
And why were they excluded from God’s kingdom in Matthew 7:23?
Because they didn’t perform miracles?
Because they didn’t obey Father God by doing His will in Matthew 7:21.
So according to the context of Matthew 7:15-23, the fruit that we are to test in Matthew 7:16 and 20, is probably the fruit of obedience (or the lack of it – disobedience).
Jesus also plainly said in Matthew 7:19 that false teachers and any person who doesn’t bear good fruit would be cast in hell:
Matthew 7:19 NASB
“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Probably, the fruit of obedience.
This is because, in just two verses later in Matthew 7:21, Jesus said,
Matthew 7:21 NASB
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.”
Those who possess the fruit of obeying Father God will enter the kingdom of heaven and those who aren’t obeying the Father are headed for hell both in Matthew 7:21-23 as in Matthew 7:19.
Joseph Prince would fail the test of the fruit of obedience as he teaches against it.
He has time and again been teaching the twisted doctrine that we shouldn’t focus on obeying God/Christ as that is being self-centred; and that we should just focus on Christ’s obedience as that is being Christ-centred.
But true prophets are those who teach obedience and doing God’s will. False prophets, such as Joseph Prince, on the other hand, are those who teach against obedience to God’s commandments because they are practicing lawlessness.
Joseph Prince himself is lawless because he teaches there are no laws that New Covenant believers are to obey as every law has been made obsolete.
Refusing to obey the laws of God is simply committing the sin of lawlessness, and the lawless will be barred from God’s kingdom (Matt 7:23):
“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” (Matt 7:23 NASB)
But the gravest sin that Joseph Prince has committed is not just the sin of lawlessness but also the sin of hypocrisy which I had pointed out earlier in this article.
These twin sins of lawlessness and hypocrisy were what Jesus condemned the Pharisees for:
Matthew 23:28 NASB
28 So you too, outwardly appear righteous to people, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Not only did Jesus condemn the Pharisees for these twin sins, He condemned them to hell:
Matthew 23:33 NASB
33 You snakes, you offspring of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?
Just as the Pharisees were considered by Jesus to be the false prophets of his day, Joseph Prince, with the same twins of the Pharisees of lawlessness and hypocrisy, is indeed, the modern-day Pharisee and the false prophet of today.
In summary, the fruit by which false teachers are to be judged is not the size of their ‘churches’, or popularity in the number of the testimonies or their miracles as Joseph Prince has falsely postured.
Fruits in Matthew 7:16 and 20 refer to character and doctrine which I agree with many commentators.
But according to the immediate context of Matthew 7:13-23 (and also Matthew 7:24-27), which Matthew 7:15-20 is located, it probably also has to do with the fruit of obedience.
The fruit and importance of obedience is also confirmed in the last section of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:24-27 which gives the overall summary of the Sermon:
Matthew 7:24-27 NCV
24 “Everyone who hears my words and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock. 26 Everyone who hears my words and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house, and it fell with a big crash.”
Those who obey what they hear about the Sermon on the Mount will not be destroyed, while those who hear the same sermon but do not obey will suffer great spiritual destruction.
Indeed, the fruit of obedience is the unmistakable evidence and key to saving faith.
Hence, Joseph Prince has once again gone out of context when he referred to fruits in Matthew 7:16 and 20 as referring to church size (in his other sermons), and the number of testimonies that he constantly belts out, and miracles and healings that supposedly take place in his ministry.
Rev George Ong
Hebrews 5:9 NIV
9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him
Hebrews 5:9 has said it so clearly that even a little child could understand – that to accept His salvation, we must obey.
Jesus made the promise of eternal life only to those who obey Him.
However, God does not expect perfect obedience, but He does expect sincere and honest obedience.
Knowing how Joseph Prince operates, he would be quick to resort to his straw man argument and falsely accuse us of teaching perfect obedience. And since no one is perfect, such a teaching is untenable.
Let me pose this scenario to Joseph Prince to see whether is he able to discern the difference between these two persons:
The first ‘believer’ is not motivated to obey Christ:
Obeying Christ is not the more important list of his priorities. He may try to obey but only once in a long while. And when he failed in obeying Christ, it didn’t really bother him.
This is due to the teaching he receives from his Pastor Joseph Prince, that he is not to focus on obeying Christ but to focus on the obedience of Christ.
He also receives this teaching from Joseph Prince who tells him he must not feel ‘condemned’, and not to be condemned is not to be bothered about his failure to obey Christ because Christ is always pleased with him, and will never get angry or judge him even though he disobeys Christ.
The second believer tries his honest best to obey Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit sincerely:
And when he fails, which he definitely will, he picks himself up again, learns from his failures and moves on.
Over time, he grows in his obedience to Christ. There will be many more times he is obedient than he is disobedient.
Would God know the difference between the two believers and judge accordingly?
I believe God can certainly accept the obedience of the second believer. But I do not believe God can accept the obedience or rather disobedience of the first ‘believer’.
Joseph Prince is implying that just because God does not expect perfect churches or perfect Christians, this means there is no standard that God does expect.
Or just because I give the lame excuse that I am not perfect, God will overlook every single unrepentant sin in my life.
By saying that God does not expect perfect churches and perfect Christians, it does not mean that no standard is required of churches and Christians that God does expect.
But since there is no church or Christian that has reached perfection, God certainly does not expect perfect obedience, but He does expect sincere and honest obedience.
Eternal salvation is for those who are honestly and sincerely obeying Christ.
Jesus made the promise of eternal life in Hebrews 5:9 only to those who obey Him as the evidence of true faith.