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Joseph Prince false teacher

We continue with our closer look at Joseph Prince’s arguments for his position that every Christians should speak in tongues.  For those who may not know, Joseph Prince is a Pentecostal preacher from Singapore, who’s popularity is felt not only in Asia but even here in the United States.

The video we have been examining is this particular clip from Joseph Prince’s channel:

Eight seconds into the video he tries to argue that it is biblical for Christians to ask other Christians whether they speak in tongues, implying that believers should speak in tongues:

One time the Apostle Paul passed by a group of people and he asked them, ‘Have you received the Holy Ghost?’  And the Bible says they were disciples, they were believers in Christ.  ‘Have you received the Holy Spirit?’ he asked them.  Now, today that is not the question we ask people after we see that they are saved.  We don’t asked them, ‘Have you received the Holy Spirit?’ because it is insulting to many “denominations” to suggest that, to ask the question ‘Have you received the Holy Spirit?’ is insulting.  Yet I think it is in Acts 16, or 19…and in Acts 19 when you look at it the Bible says that Paul passed by a certain region and then he found disciples.  The word there is disciples.  These are believers in Christ.  Christians.  And he asked them the question, ‘Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?’  So they said, “We never heard of anything called the Holy Spirit.’  ‘So unto what baptism were you baptized?’ “John’s baptism.’  Well Jesus said what?  You will be baptized by the Holy Spirit.  And the Bible says that he prayed for them, laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit and the Bible says what was the evidence for those of you on the page?  They spoke with tongues and prophesied, right?  So we don’t want to compromise just because some denominations are of the persuasion that tongues has ceased alright, we don’t want to compromise because our standard is the Bible.  Can I get a good Amen?”

(0:08-1:35)

Joseph Prince is appealing to Acts 19.  Let’s take a closer look:

1.) Prince makes much out of the point that its to “disciples” (verse 1) that Paul asked his question “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”  (verse 2).  Specifically though, these disciples were those of John the Baptist since they didn’t know about the Holy Spirit (verse 2) and only knew about John’s baptism (verse 3).  This observation should make us cautious in assuming these are regular New Testament Church era Christians.

2.) In light of the fact that they were John’s disciples who only knew up to the baptism of repentance and never even heard about the Holy Spirit, one must be sensitive to progressive revelation and how redemptive history unfolds.  This particular episode is unique in that as the church began and started from Acts 2 onward, there were a number of believers who were disciples before hearing about the Holy Spirit such as John’s Disciples.  Yet by God’s providence the Lord brought those like the Apostle Paul to fill them in about the Spirit.  We expect that as the book of Acts progress, with the church growing more and more, that the number of such disciples of John who didn’t know about the Spirit would decrease.  When we fast forward to today, there are not John’s disciples who haven’t heard of the Holy Spirit.

Thus, if one is sensitive to the context, Acts 19 is not a text to justify asking other Christians whether they have the Holy Spirit and implying that they should speak in tongues.

Don’t forget also how earlier in part two we established the biblical truth that baptism of the Holy Spirit is not the same thing as speaking in tongues, since one can be baptized by the Holy Spirit without speaking in tongues.

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We continue with yesterday’s evaluation of a sermon by Joseph Prince that argues “Speaking in tongues make you supernatural.  So that is the prayer language that every believer should have.” (8:05-8:13).Joseph Prince preacher

We are responding to this video:

And for today, we will concentrate on the following excerpt:

They [Note: “non-Charismatics”–Slimjim] will say that we are also baptized in the Holy Spirit.  It’s one thing to have drunk some water, it’s another thing that when you jump into the swimming pool.  One is the water is in you the other is that you are in the water.  How many understand?  Once you received Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit is resident in you.  But once you are baptized in the Holy Spirit the Holy Spirit is president over you.  And you want Him to control your life…For all those who are wondering what’s the benefit of this language?  Well, let me just reason, come let’s reason together, would God on the most important day, on the day of Pentecost, of all the gifts, alright, of all the things God could have done, God gave them the baptism of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, would you for one moment that God would give them something that would not benefit them, glorify Christ, magnify God?  So whatever the reasoning that people have for not speaking in tongues alright, it is not coming to the level of God’s Word and God’s personal opinion about it.   

(1:35-4:36)

Note in the quote above that baptism of the Holy Spirit is seen as the same thing as speaking in tongues.  Or at least that speaking in tongues is a necessary sign of being baptized in the Holy Spirit.  Joseph Prince even says that those who disagree with his articulated view is contrary to God’s Word.

But the Word of God teaches that the Baptism of the Spirit is distinct from speaking in tongues.  1 Corinthians 12:13 teaches that all believers are baptized by the Spirit into one body:

For [j]by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Then a few verses later 1 Corinthians 12:29-30 states:

All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of [t]miracles, are they? 30 All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts.

Note verse 30, which ask rhetorically whether all speak in tongues, with the answer being assumed as no ( unless one disagree, in which case then he or she must believe all are prophets and teachers, etc, stated in verse 29, but that would conflict with 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, and 12:14-26 that teaches that the members of the body of Christ have different gifts).

So we see here all are Spirit-baptized in the Body of Christ but that does not mean all will speak in tongues.  One see Paul making that distinction.  Moreover, Paul teaches that all true believers are baptized by the Spirit, while not all speak in tongues.

However, Joseph Prince in our video tries to take the force out of the argument from 1 Corinthians 12:29-30 by making a distinction between the gift of tongues and  speaking in tongues which all believer should have.   But we have already shown in part one that this false distinction does not hold up.  1 Corinthians 12 does have bearing against Prince’s position.  Verse 30 itself says “speak with tongues.

Concerning his argument from Acts 2, no Christians would deny that on Pentecosts it was beneficial to the believers and that it glorified God.  The question however is whether speaking in tongues is something all believers must have today, so his argument from Acts 2 does not reaches it’s goal posts, since one can logically affirm the benefit and glory to God of the speaking in tongues in Pentecosts without embracing the view that all believers today should speak in tongues.

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I have not heard of Joseph Prince before our mini-series focusing on popular leaders of the Charismatic movement in the Asian scene.  Our other blogger, EvangelZ, was the one who told me about him and how I should look him up.  It seems like he is a Charismatic prosperity gospel preacher with a big church in Singapore call New Creation Church.  His popularity is beyond Asia, and even here in the US.

Joseph Prince false teacher

His ministry uploaded a clip on Youtube from his sermon titled “Tongues–The Key To A Spirit-Led Life.”

The purpose of his message is clear:

Speaking in tongues make you supernatural.  So that is the prayer language that every believer should have.” (8:05-8:13).

He believes Christians SHOULD speak in tongues.  But in order to make his argument, he has to make two assumptions necessary for his case:

  • Speaking in tongues is not the same thing as the gift of tongues.
  • Those baptized in the Holy Spirit will speak in tongues.

In this post we will focus only on the first premise, that speaking in tongues is not the same thing as the gift of tongues.  Joseph Prince articulates and argue for this distinction between speaking in tongues and the gift in tongues seven minutes into the clip, saying:

So the biggest problem, the body of Christ today is that Charismatics who is baptized in the Spirit see it as a sign, alright, that they are baptized and that’s it but they don’t exercise the gift.  Now, many a times they exercise the gift when they come to church.  And that was the problem in the church of Corinth where Paul wrote trying to control of the gift of tongues.  Now gift of tongues, not everybody has the gift of tongues mentioned in 1 Corinthians 14, 12 and all that, where it talks about where you don’t have an interpreter, keep quiet.  Now that’s the gift of tongues.  All of us have the sign that Jesus said in Mark and this sign will follow those that believed, alright?  One of the signs is that they shall speak with new tongues.  Our Lord Jesus said that.  This sign will follow the believers.  Didn’t say pastors.  Believers.  Didn’t say Apostles and prophets.  Believers.  One of the biggest sign is what?  They shall speak with new tongues.” (7:01-7:58)

So while “not everybody has the gift of tongues,” Joseph Prince believes that the Bible teaches all believers “shall speak with new tongues.’

Joseph Prince might say this distinction parallel evangelism and giving:

  1. While some have the spiritual gift of giving (Romans 12:8), yet all believers are commanded to give (Romans 12:13, 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, etc).
  2. While some have the spiritual gift of evangelism(Ephesians 4:11), yet all believers are commanded to evangelize/witness (Matthew 28:19-20, 1 Peter 3:15, etc).

Spiritual gifts will differ from individual to individual (Romans 12:6) but that doesn’t mean if we don’t have the spiritual gift of evangelism or giving that we cease giving and witnessing.

But does this distinction applies to the issue of speaking in tongues?  It doesn’t seem likely.  Note that in order for the gift/general function distinction to apply, it is necessary that God’s Word gives a command to believers in general to practice it.  While God does tells believers in general to witness and give, there are no imperative verbs in the New Testament ordering believers to speak in tongues.  Thus, Joseph Prince is not biblically warranted to make such the distinction between spiritual gift and practice of tongues.

However, Joseph Prince does attempt to show from the Bible that all believers should speak in tongues.  Recall how in the quote above he said, “All of us have the sign that Jesus said in Mark and this sign will follow those that believed, alright?  One of the signs is that they shall speak with new tongues.”  That passage in Mark in Mark 16:17, which says

These [d]signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues

As Prince stated, here in verse 17 it says “those who have believed,” and not just a subset of believers such as Pastors, apostles, etc.

But there are two good reasons why Mark 16:17 doesn’t support Prince’s cause.

First off, there is an issue of textual criticism with the end of Mark 16, in which verse 9 and following is disputed to be part of the original since many of the older and reliable manuscripts does not attests to anything beyond verse 8.  I myself believe the Gospel of Mark ends in Mark 16:8.

Secondly, even if we assume Mark 16:17 is part of the Greek autograph and therefore is legitimately part of God’s Word, this still doesn’t help with Joseph Prince’s cause.  I believe that the context of the immediate verse in Mark 16:18 strongly imply that we see a limitation of Mark 16:17 applying universally to all believers at all time.  Note verse 18 states:

 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

I would not want to see Joseph Prince pick up dangerous serpents and drink poison today.  If he believes that there are some exclusion to verse 18 being the case today, then I would say that to be consistent the context strongly demands an exclusion for the application of verse 17 for today also.  Thus Mark 16:17 does not provide (1) the warrant for Joseph Prince to assert that all believers are obligated to speak in tongues, (2) nor that which is necessary to establish the distinction of the gift of tongues and the act of tongues.

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