Joseph Prince Teaches Against Jesus On The Requirement Of Sanctification For Salvation – By Rev George Ong (Dated 1 Nov 2021)
In a previous update dated 22 Oct 2021, Yvonne Tan shared a powerful testimony about her 20-year journey with New Creation Church.
From what Yvonne Tan had related as part of her testimony, it is rather clear that Joseph Prince is against the important doctrine of sanctification. In her testimony, she wrote,
“Even important doctrines like the doctrine of sanctification… have been twisted and changed by Joseph Prince.
In New Creation Church, there was never any teachings by Joseph Prince on Sanctification…
Joseph Prince will always protect himself by saying, “Who says I’m against Sanctification?” But if he isn’t against Sanctification, why is he not preaching this doctrine to us?
In my 20 years in NCC, I’ve never heard even one sermon on sanctification.”
Yvonne Tan had been with New Creation Church for 20 long years, so she knows what she is talking about when she said,
“Even important doctrines like the doctrine of sanctification… have been twisted and changed by Joseph Prince… In my 20 years in NCC, I’ve never heard even one sermon on sanctification.”
Along with what Yvonne had stated in her testimony, I’m going to give you more concrete proof that Joseph Prince is indeed against the crucial doctrine of sanctification that is taught by Jesus. And it is this theme of the requirement of sanctification for salvation which Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount that Joseph Prince is resolutely against.
In ‘Grace Revolution’, Page 13, Joseph Prince wrote,
“The good news is that Jesus didn’t stop there. He preached the Sermon on the Mount and then He came down. Spiritually speaking, if the King had stayed on the mountain, there would have been no redemption for us.”
“Now if Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount and He stayed up there on the Mount, there’ll be no hope for us.”
Joseph Prince categorically states that there is no redemption/salvation or hope for us in the message of Jesus up on the Mount. This is a very serious and false allegation against Jesus. I’ll prove to you throughout this article that Joseph Prince is literally lying against Jesus.
He says there is no salvation up on the Mount because he was looking for Jesus to say: “Can I lead you to say the sinners’ prayer with me.” He was looking for Jesus to preach about the righteousness of God in Christ. These are not wrong in and of themselves. Jesus wasn’t at all against justification as He had spoken many times in the gospels that we need to believe in Him by faith.
But what Jesus was stressing in the Sermon on the Mount was salvation through sanctification, expressed in our obedience and holiness. Jesus’ teachings have always been that both justification and sanctification are needed for salvation.
Herein lies my concrete proof that Joseph Prince is teaching a half-gospel and a false gospel – of a justification-only gospel as he is dead against sanctification for salvation that Jesus was unfolding in the Sermon on the Mount.
The salvation message, indeed, permeates throughout the sermon of Jesus up on the Mount. But many people miss the salvation message of Jesus because they are looking for justification markers. But Jesus disappoints them because he uses manly sanctification markers for salvation, such as obedience and holiness.
Let me give you a summary of it in Matthew chapters 5-7.
First, in Matthew 5:3-12, we learn that those who acknowledge their spiritual poverty, mourn over their sins in repentance, are meek and have a hunger and thirst for righteousness, are merciful and pure in heart, make peace for others with God, and who rejoice in being persecuted – and to all these people, theirs is the kingdom of heaven (V3, 10).
Matthew 5:3-12 NIV
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
In other words, Jesus teaches that only those who possess these character traits of holiness in Matthew 5:3-10, which come under the category of sanctification, will inherit the kingdom of heaven.
Second, in Matthew 5:19, Jesus stresses that it is your obedience or disobedience to the law or commandments, which is part of sanctification that will determine your status in God’s kingdom.
Matthew 5:19 NCV
19 “Whoever refuses to obey any command and teaches other people not to obey that command will be the least important in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys the commands and teaches other people to obey them will be great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Third, in Matthew 5:20, Jesus soberly reminds us that those whose righteousness or holiness or obedience does not surpass that of the Pharisees, will not enter the kingdom of God.
Matthew 5:20 NIV
20 “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:20 NCV
20 “I tell you that if you are no more obedient than the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
What Jesus is underlining is that sanctification, expressed in our righteous and obedient living, are required as evidence for true salvation.
Fourth, in Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus warns that those who don’t commit murder, would still be guilty of murder, if they are angry and call another brother a fool, and they would be in danger of the fire of hell.
Matthew 5:21-22 NIV
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
What Jesus is driving at is, your lack of sanctification and unrepentance in such behaviours as unrestrained and unrepentant anger which Jesus equated as murder can land you in hell. Again, Jesus tells us how to enter heaven and to avoid hell which is the message of redemption or salvation. And yet, Joseph Prince has the dare to contradict Jesus and say there is no redemption up on the Mount.
Fifth, in Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus gravely informs us that if we do not forgive others, Father God will not forgive us.
Matthew 6:14-15 NIV
14 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
And it is difficult to imagine that people with unforgiven sins by the Father can enter into God’s kingdom. Again, Jesus underscores the importance of sanctification or the lack of it in our unforgiveness of others that could affect our salvation.
Sixth, in Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus solemnly admonishes that those who live a fruitless life of a faith that is without works will be burned in the eternal fire (Matt 7:19).
Matthew 7:15-20 NIV
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”
What Jesus is saying is no different from what James teaches in James 2:14-26 that faith without works, is dead, useless and cannot save. To put it in another way, justification without sanctification will never save.
Seventh, in Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus sounded a warning that while your sanctification in your obedience to do the Father’s will assure you of a place in God’s kingdom (Matt 7:21), the lack of sanctification in your lawlessness against obeying God’s laws would lead to your eternal doom (Matt 7:23).
Matthew 7:21-23 NASB
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. 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.’
Lawlessness can be understood as one who refuses to do the will of God and obey God’s laws. This typifies the lawless Joseph Prince and the masses of people who choose to go with his teachings.
Jesus isn’t uttering any strange teaching in Mathew 7:21 as the Apostle John also teaches that in 1 John 2:17 NIV,
17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
Eighth, in Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus concluded the Sermon on the Mount by exhorting that those who hear His words in the Sermon and obey them will not suffer a spiritual fall, but those who merely hear the same sermon and do not obey, will be destroyed by the flood of God’s judgement.
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.”
It is pertinent to note that Jesus concluded the sermon with the importance of obedience, which is part of sanctification that will determine our eternal destiny.
I hope by now, it becomes clear to you that the central theme of the Sermon on the Mount, is about our sanctification for salvation. It is about what we must do to obey and be holy. And if we don’t obey and be holy, hell – not heaven – will be ours to claim.
Here, Joseph Prince would immediately spring into action at deceiving you again. He would accuse me of teaching legalism and works-righteousness because I say that we must be holy and obedient to enter the kingdom of God.
But Joseph Prince is accusing the wrong person because it is not me who originated it, but Jesus. In all the eight points which I have gone through with you, I’ve proven that it is Jesus who teaches on the theme of sanctification for salvation in the Sermon on the Mount.
So, Joseph Prince, is actually accusing Jesus, who is God Himself, for teaching legalism and works-salvation. Friends, you mustn’t be deceived by Joseph Prince as Jesus isn’t teaching on legalism or works-salvation, but he is teaching on the importance and the requirement of sanctification for our salvation.
He is soberly reminding us never to take our sanctification lightly as it could determine whether we would inherit God’s kingdom or we would spend our eternity in the lake of fire. This is why Jesus had to spend a whole three chapters in the Sermon on the Mount teaching on the theme of sanctification for salvation, without which there would be no kingdom to inherit.
Jesus knows much more about His Righteousness or justification that is needed for salvation more than the Apostle Paul, Joseph Prince and all of us. That’s why He came to die on the cross for our sins as He knows that no one could save himself but only His righteousness could. That’s why He says it so many times in the gospels that it is your faith in Him that will save you.
Yet, Jesus also knows that without the accompanying sanctification, comprising our obedience and holiness, no one can enter the kingdom of God.
One surprising fact is that Jesus spends more time teaching on the requirement of sanctification for salvation in the scriptures than most believers and even pastors are aware of.
In his teachings on discipleship, Jesus firmly demands that we must give up everything before we can qualify to be His disciples (Lk 14:33).
(If you aren’t a disciple, you aren’t a Christian. Jesus in His Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 says that we are to make disciples. So, a disciple and a Christian is the same person. They are not 2 different persons.)
Luke 14:26,27,33 NIV
26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even their own life – such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” 33 “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”
Giving up everything has nothing to do with the works of earning salvation as Joseph Prince would try to deceive you, but it has everything to do with the necessity of sanctification that are required for salvation.
In His conversation with the rich man, Jesus told him that he must sell everything he has and give it to the poor before he can inherit eternal life.
Mark 10:17,21 NIV
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Selling everything to give to the poor has nothing to do with the works of earning salvation as Joseph Prince would try to deceive you, but it has everything to do with the necessity of sanctification that are required for salvation.
In His interaction with Zacchaeus, Jesus pronounced salvation on Zacchaeus when he decided to pay back four times those he owed and give half his possessions to the poor.
Luke 19:8-9 NIV
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.
Paying back to others and giving away possessions to the poor, have nothing to do with the works of earning salvation as Joseph Prince would try to deceive you, but they have everything to do with the necessity of sanctification that are required for salvation.
When Jesus related to His disciples about the sheep and the goats, and what separates the sheep who inherit the kingdom of God and the goats who are cast into eternal darkness, is the act of feeding the poor and clothing the naked.
Matthew 25:34-40 NIV
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Feeding the poor and clothing the naked have nothing to do with the works of earning salvation as Joseph Prince would try to deceive you, but they have everything to do with the necessity of sanctification that are required for salvation.
In his rallying-call to His disciples to press on against the onslaught of persecution, Jesus did not say, “The one who is saved, he will endure to the end,” but “The one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”
Matthew 24:13 NASB
13 “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”
Our enduring to the end has nothing to do with the works of earning salvation as Joseph Prince would try to deceive you, but it has everything to do with the necessity of sanctification that are required for salvation.
In his dialogue with His disciples, Jesus warned them that he who does not bear fruit and remain in Him, will be cut off and thrown into the fire.
John 15:2,6 NIV
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.”
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.”
Bearing fruit and remaining in Christ have nothing to do with the works of earning salvation as Joseph Prince would try to deceive you, but they have everything to do with the necessity of sanctification that are required for salvation.
In His teachings to the people, Jesus told them to make every effort to enter the kingdom of God.
Luke 13:24 NIV
24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.”
Making every effort to enter God’s kingdom, has nothing to do with the works of earning salvation as Joseph Prince would try to deceive you, but it has everything to do with the necessity of sanctification that are required for salvation.
Yes, in justification, no effort is required; it’s all about God. But as far as sanctification is concerned, you had better make every effort to enter the narrow door as Jesus teaches. That is why the author of Hebrews also says that we are to “Make every effort… to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Heb 12:14 NIV)
Now you know why Joseph Prince is teaching effortless Christianity, as to him salvation is only about justification with no effort required as it is all God’s part. But in the same vein, he has rejected sanctification as also necessary for salvation because he has spurned Jesus’ teaching that we need to make every effort to enter through the narrow door.
Can you now see that the theme of sanctification for salvation permeates not only the Sermon on the Mount, but also throughout the teachings of Jesus in the scriptures? This goes to show that sanctification is just as necessary to salvation and to get us to heaven as justification.
Jesus knows what He is talking about. He is not talking about works of earning salvation, such as circumcision. He is talking about the necessity of sanctification, such as obedience, holiness and love which are the evidence of true salvation that Joseph Prince denigrates as legalism.
You can never add or subtract from the Gospel. If you do, you would fall into heresy. While the Galatians added circumcision to the Gospel, Joseph Prince subtracted sanctification from the Gospel. What this means is that Joseph Prince in teaching a justification-only gospel without sanctification is teaching a half-gospel. A half-gospel is a false gospel that cannot save. How can anyone who teaches a false gospel not be a heretic?
The Reformation and Church Fathers also teach about the necessity of sanctification for salvation which is in line with what Jesus teaches.
Martin Luther championed justification by faith as passionately as any Reformer. But did he believe that sanctification is unnecessarily for salvation as Joseph Prince does? Absolutely not!
Martin Luther wrote, “There is no justification without sanctification…”
In other words, Luther believed that sanctification is just as indispensable as justification for salvation. What Luther teaches goes against the teachings of Joseph Prince, who embraces justification but denigrates sanctification in his salvation doctrine.
John Calvin wrote, “Christ justifies no one whom he does not at the same time sanctify.”
Like Luther, John Calvin too believes that both justification and sanctification are required for salvation – contradicting the grace doctrine of Joseph Prince that only justification by faith or the imputed righteousness of Christ is all that is needed.
F F Bruce, wrote, “If a man is not being sanctified, there is no reason to believe that he has been justified.”
J C Ryle said, “Tell me not of your justification, unless you have also some marks of sanctification.
A A Hodge said, “You cannot take Christ for justification unless you take Him for sanctification.”
As F F Bruce, J C Ryle and A A Hodge had stated, the Biblical Gospel is a salvation that is equated to justification and sanctification. But in the Joseph Prince Gospel, salvation is equated to just justification. Justification is necessary for salvation, but it is not equal to salvation. Though justification is a function of salvation, it is not the equivalent of salvation.
This error is similar to assuming that an engine is the same thing as a car. Just because an engine is essential to the car does not mean the engine represents the whole car. In the same way, justification must be present to make salvation possible, but it is not the equivalent of salvation. Salvation needs another component – sanctification – which Joseph Prince totally divorces from justification, just as he divorces works from faith and behaviour from belief.
For a clearer understanding of the interplay between justification and sanctification in the doctrine of salvation, let me illustrate with three Bible passages.
Acts 3:23 says that we must obey everything that the Prophet, Christ, tells us.
Acts 3:22-23 NET
22 Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers. You must obey him in everything he tells you. 23 Every person who does not obey that prophet will be destroyed and thus removed from the people.’
We may have said the sinner’s prayer and accepted Christ as Lord and Saviour – justification. But if we refuse to obey Christ – sanctification, we “will be destroyed” (Acts 3:23).
So, it is not just about faith – justification; it is also about obedience – sanctification, that would finally decide our eternal destiny. To put it in another way, our faith must be proven by our obedience. Or, without sanctification, there is no true justification to speak about.
The second example is shown in Romans 10:9-10 and Matthew 7:21.
Romans 10:9-10 NIV
9 “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”
Paul says in Romans 10:9: “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord…” you will be saved. So, a man who refuses to say “Lord, Lord” will never enter the kingdom of heaven because all true Christians say, “Lord, Lord.”
But, Matthew 7:21 also says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 7:21 NIV
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
Saying “Lord, Lord” is a necessary but not the sufficient condition for saving faith. And, “What Matthew 7:21 clearly underscores is that justification-only doctrine of calling Christ “Lord, Lord” will never save, unless it is undergirded by sanctification of doing the Father’s will.”
Finally, Charles Spurgeon, said, “Justification without sanctification would not be salvation at all.”
What Charles Spurgeon said, “Justification without sanctification would not be salvation at all,” which is totally scriptural, is a very solemn truth in the light of the teachings of Joseph Prince. This simply means that Joseph Prince’s ‘justification only’ salvation doctrine does not equal to saving faith, and does not save, as the other vital half, which is sanctification is not taken into account.
Hence, Joseph Prince has been deceiving the millions into thinking that just because they are justified, they are saved – when the truth is, they aren’t. Joseph Prince has been deceiving the multitudes by giving them the impression that they are on their way to heaven, when the truth is, they may be headed for hell.
“Joseph Prince’s grace theology, which may not lead you to heaven, is more of a grave theology that could lead you to hell.” (George Ong)
Rev George Ong