A Review of Destined to Reign by Joseph Prince
by Grant Norman
Joseph Prince claims in this book to have a radical new understanding of grace.
Throughout the book he puts forth the tired old lies of the word faith movement. “You can live without suffering and sickness, everything you do will be successful” etc.
The only real difference being, while the Word Faith crowd claim it all by a redefined and unbiblical “˜faith’, Prince teaches that all these things are assured under his version of “˜grace’. The new “˜grace’ of Joseph Prince removes the need of repentance, and confession of sins from the Christian life. He also denies that God will ever bring conviction to a believer about their sin. To live under Prince’s grace, we simply need to confess that we are righteous. That is the secret to the Christian life.
The secret to effortless success, wholeness and victorious living”
Page one reads,
“You are destined to reign in life. You are called by the Lord to be a success, to enjoy wealth, to enjoy health and to enjoy a life of victory. It is not the Lord’s desire that you live a life of defeat, poverty and failure. He has called you to be the head and not the tail. If you are a businessman, God wants you to have a prosperous business. If you are are a homemaker, you are anointed to bring up wonderful children in the Lord. If you are a student, God wants you to excel in all your examinations. And if you are trusting the Lord for a new career, He doesn’t just want you to have a job, He wants you to have a position of influence, so that you can be a blessing and an asset to your organization!
When you reign in life, you reign over sin, you reign over the powers of darkness, and you reign over depression, over poverty, over every curse, and over every sickness and disease. You REIGN over the devil and all his devices!”(Destined to Reign p.1)
It sounds wonderful, but Prince has redefined the Biblical understanding of grace, to make it more palatable for the modern, consumerist, “˜no cross’, “˜no struggling’, “˜no death to self’, “˜instant results’ seeking world. He offers a grace without conviction of sin, without biblical repentance and without confession of our sins. To prove this new and radical kind of grace, he of course must redefine the rest of the Bible. This is essentially the crux of “˜Destined to Reign’.
The theology of destined to reign is like a house of cards. Once a key card from the base is removed, the whole towers collapses. Let’s look at some of the fallacies his book is based on.
Fallacy Number One
A false definition of repentance
Prince defines repentance as simply a change of mind. It is not to feel conviction, confess our sins and turn from them. If a believer has no sin, he reasons, how can he repent?
By the way, for all of you who feel that there should be more preaching on repentance, do you know what the word “repent” means in the first place? The word “repent” is the Greek word metanoeo, which according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, simply means “to change one’s mind”. But because we have been influenced by our denominational background as well as our own religious upbringing, many of us have the impression that repentance is something that involves mourning and sorrow. However, that is not what the Word of God says. Repentance just means changing your mind. (Destined to Reign p.234)
Prince’s idea of repentance is simply a “˜change of mind’, without any sorrow for sin. Compare that with Paul’s words to the Corinthians:
I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us.
For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
2 Cor 7:9,10
Repentance comes as a result of sorrow for our sins. Godly sorrow, only possible after we have identified and acknowledged our sins, leads to a changed life.
For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter. 2 Cor 7:11
F.F. Bruce defined repentance as;
“Repentance (metanoia, ‘change of mind’) involves a turning with contrition from sin to God; the repentant sinner is in the proper condition to accept the divine forgiveness.” (F. F. Bruce. The Acts of the Apostles [Greek Text Commentary], London: Tyndale, 1952, p. 97.)
The New Testament idea of repentance follows the Hebrew idea of repentance “˜shuv’, and includes a turning away from sin towards God.
Jesus pointed out what repentance looks like when He categorized repentance as what the men of Nineveh did in response to the preaching of Jonah.
“The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. Mat 12:41
The book of Jonah tell us:
When God saw their deeds, that they turned (Hebrew- “˜shuv’) from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it. Jonah 3:10
What exactly did God see?
Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish. Jon 3:5-9
What did God see? Fasting, Sackcloth and ashes ““that is, humility. Calling on God earnestly that their sin might be forgiven -that is, confession and repentance.
This is the backdrop of how the New Testament handles the Old concerning repentance. The threat of judgment led to sorrow, humility and repentance- leading to salvation.
Joseph Prince completely disregards this by saying:
“Nevertheless, there are still people who insist that we have to preach on repentance. Well, I disagree! I think that we should do it God’s way ““ preach the goodness of God and allow the goodness of God to lead people to repentance.” (Destined to Reign p. 232)
We shouldn’t preach repentance? Not according to the book of Acts:
“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; Acts 3:19
Moreover Jesus explained what type of Gospel must go forth into all the earth:
Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
That’s God’s way. And that’s the way He said to do it. Mr. Prince is free to disagree with that, but by doing so he disagrees with how Jesus Himself said the Gospel was meant to be preached to the nations.
Joseph Prince misunderstands repentance, not a turning from sins towards God, but simply changing your mind about who Jesus is. Put simply, if you simply believe in Jesus, you’re in. Such “˜belief’ does not save. Again Paul wrote :
For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation”¦ 2 Cor 7:10
Fallacy Number Two
A Denial of the conviction of sin in a believer
So what about conviction? What about the feeling of guilt you have when you sin? According to Joseph Prince, a believer need never feel convicted about their sin.
“Now, pay attention to this because it will liberate you. The bottom line is that the Holy Spirit never convicts you of your sins. ‚ He NEVER comes to point out your faults. I challenge you to find a scripture in the Bible that tells you that the Holy Spirit has come to convict you of your sins. You won’t find any! (Destined to Reign p. 134)
The Holy Spirit doesn’t convict a believer of sins? I’d sure like to take him up on his challenge.
‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches“¦
We have the context of the Holy Spirit speaking to the churches in this chapter. This exhortation is continued throughout chapters two and three to reaffirm who is speaking. What does the Holy Spirit say to them?
Rev 2:5 ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place””unless you repent.
Rev 2:16 Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.
Rev 2:21-22 ‘I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. ‘Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds.
Rev 3:2 So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.
Rev 3:19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.
Is this not conviction? Is the Spirit not calling for repentance? The word for reprove (elegch … ), is the same word usually translated as “˜convict’. It is the same word used in;
And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. John 16:8
The Holy Spirit convicts the world according to John, and the Holy Spirit convicts the churches in Revelation. What is the problem with Joseph Prince? Why does he desperately try to deny the obvious? Because his idea of grace is that we never need to think about or confess our sins. The house of cards collapses.
There is a popular verse from the book of Revelation, which Christians use for unbelievers. It says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” When you look at the context of this verse, it is actually not written to unbelievers, but to the church of the Laodiceans! (Destined to Reign p.213)
Prince implies that despite their sins, the Laodiceans simply had to dine with Christ. Yet The passage tells us that Jesus would spit them out of his mouth.
‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Rev 3:15-19
Specifically, they needed gold refined in the fire, white garments and eye salve to see.
Gold refined in the fire is a faith purified by suffering. (Which Prince does not allow).
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 1 Pet 1:6,7.
White garments are righteousness, as in the robe of righteousness and garments of salvation. (This goes against Prince’s argument that they are already righteous and need not feel conviction, confess or repent.)
Eye salve opens their eyes to see clearly. He points out their poverty, blindness and nakedness, and advises them to have their eyes anointed with eye salve that they can see. In other words, “Hey you are sinful, I will have to reject you but you don’t even know it!” You had better get some understanding (the anointing of the eyes of course is the illumination of the Holy Spirit) so you can repent!
Jesus gave the Laodiceans good advice. Repent now lest your shame be revealed, lest I spit you from my mouth. Joseph would give them his easy believe grace, and in doing so seal their damnation and the damnation of his readers. He gives an example:
So he began to confess this daily: “I am the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ.” Every day, he would wake up, stare at himself in the mirror and say, “I see a righteous man standing in front of me.” Even when he succumbed to the temptation and lit up, he would still confess, “I am the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ. Even right now, the Lord sees me righteous.” (Destined to Reign p. 141,142)
If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 1 John 1:6.
Fallacy Number Three
A false idea of confession
“Listen carefully: We don’t have to confess our sins in order to be forgiven. We confess our sins because we are already forgiven.
So confession in the new covenant is just being honest about your failures and your humanity.” (Destined to Reign p. 104)
Next, in order to promote this “˜grace’ without repentance or conviction, Joseph Prince must erase the necessity of confessing our sins. Yes, sins. Not failures or “˜humanities’.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
How does Joseph Explain this away? By claiming that chapter one was written to the Gnostics!
People have taken this verse a built a whole doctrine around it when actually, chapter 1 of 1 John was written to the Gnostics, who were unbelievers. John was saying to these unbelievers that if they confessed their sins, God would be faithful and just to cleanse them from all unrighteousness. (Destined to Reign p.106)
Chapter one is written to Gnostics? What about Chapter two?
In 1 John 2:1, addressed the believers as “My little children” (he never addressed the unbelievers whom he was writing to in chapter 1 as “My little children”) and went on to say, “These things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ.” Notice that John did not tell the believers, “If anyone sins, make sure that he confesses his sins.”(Destined to Reign p.109)
This is such nonsense it hardly requires an answer. But here is one anyway.
In the original letter, there were no chapters or chapter divisions. There were no subtitles explaining which part of the letter was to whom in the church. There was no disclaimer on the original saying, “From John, to the church, in care of the Gnostics”. All of this is based solely on the assumed change in audience by John’s inclusion of the term “My little children”, as if somehow his audience had changed from the Gnostics in the congregation to the believers (assuming there were unbelieving Gnostics in the congregation.)
Let’s compare when this phrase is used elsewhere in the New Testament.
The word being translated as “little children” is the Greek word “Teknion.” We see Jesus using this same term/word in John 13:33 when talking with his disciples saying, “”Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.'”
Let’s use the same exegesis as Prince and assume that when He said in verses 30-31 ‚ “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately”, that He was perhaps talking to someone else in the room besides His disciples, since He didn’t refer to them as His children until verse 33. Perhaps a Gnostic happened to stumble into the room to help pick up the dishes after the passover meal? Maybe a Samaritan or a Pharisee happened to be peeking in the window before verse 33, and Jesus was directing that part of his message specifically at them. If Mr. Prince’s exegetical tactics are consistent, we must consider all these scenarios equally possible. Or we have the option of just reading the Bible in its context, and accepting that the entirety of 1 John, was written to believers. Just like most of us have always believed.
So now, what are we left with? Repentance has been skewered, conviction has been blamed on the devil. Sin has been made light of, as it’s already been forgiven without repentance. What does one do then when sin occurs?
You simply declare yourself as righteous! No repentance is needed!
The Holy Spirit never convicts you of you the believer of your sins, then what does He convict you of? Jesus says that the Holy Spirit convicts you “of righteousness” (Destined to Reign 137)
Again, is this what the apostles taught? Let’s take a look at an account in Acts chapter 8 about Simon the magician. Starting in Acts 8:13 we see this about Simon:
“Even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed.”
Simon believed and was baptized. According to Prince on page 87 of his book, Simon is saved;
(Do you believe in Jesus? If your answer is “yes”, then don’t let anyone add more conditions to your forgiveness ““ you are already forgiven of all your sins simply because you believe in Jesus! Nothing more, nothing less.)(Destined to Reign 87)
And all of Simon’s sins, past, present and future were forgiven him (p.28-29, though this is constantly restated throughout). From that point, if sin occurred he would simply have to declare himself the righteousness of Christ.
But then what happens? Look down at Acts 8:18:
Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!”
So it looks like we have some sin here. If Prince’s “˜grace’ is true, Peter will probably suggest to Simon that in the end it really doesn’t matter, because that sin was already forgiven anyway, and that it’s now time for him to declare himself as the righteousness of Christ, so he won’t goof up again.
But Peter has another idea about sin, repentance, and forgiveness than Mr. Prince.
“Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. Acts 8:22
Try praying that without actually confessing the sinful intention of your heart!
Was Peter mistaken? Didn’t he have a proper understanding of “˜grace’? Was he perhaps unaware that all of Simon’s sins were already forgiven, and that repentance wasn’t necessary? Or has Joseph Prince’s house of cards fallen flat?
Redefinition and More Reinterpretation
Basically, this is the type of exegesis one can expect throughout the whole book. Double standards, only translating the words needed to prove his point, and ignoring the Greek on the words that would blatantly disagree with his assertions even in the same passage. The reader is constantly challenged to find one instance of something that disagrees with what he’s saying, even though such instances abound!
He gets ridiculous trying to keep his “˜grace’ ship afloat, saying;
“You will never find an example of God punishing a believer for his sins in the new covenant.” (Destined to Reign p.57)
For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.
1 Cor 11:29-32.
Now, for those of you who have read Destined to Reign, you’re already aware that Mr. Prince has gone into detail about this passage, and has also tried to reinterpret it to say something entirely different then what it’s stating. He has a dire misunderstanding of the atonement, and he views communion as more or less of a “fountain of youth” ritual. He terms it differently of course, but in short, this is what he believes.
We would have to go into great lengths to get into everything that’s wrong with his understanding of the atonement, the last supper and communion but he basically is just promoting the false teaching sometimes termed as “point of contact”. His views are unscriptural and ‚ will only ‚ lead the believer into more disillusionment and deception.
Destined to Reign is more or less a repackaging of the WOF and prosperity preachers, under the wrapping paper of grace. Once the biblical understanding of grace is removed, it is then the task of Joseph Prince to redefine or explain away all the passages that disprove his case. The law, conviction, repentance etc. are effectively erased from the Christian faith. The bible warns us that lawlessness will abound in the last days and the love of many will grow cold, leading up to the Man of Lawlessness (AntiChrist) who also is “˜Destined to Reign’ before the resurrection. This book is nothing other than a tool of the devil to deceive the church by this spirit of lawlessness in preparation for the great apostasy.