It is my intention that through a thorough study of the sermons and messages of Pastor Prince that some light may be shed on the doctrines and teachings of NCC(New Creation Church), one of the biggest churches in Singapore. For the reader who is not familiar with NCC, please go to the website or download the messages that are readily available for a small fee
Therefore, with the aim of shedding some light on the particular teachings and sermons of the church, we can sift out the wheat from the chaff.
For our first study, I will be focusing on particular sermon preached on the 27th Jan 2013 that will highlight some of the main doctrines and beliefs of the Church. At this point, I encourage you to get a copy of the sermon so that you can follow along more easily.
First off, Pastor Prince(PP) begins by reminding the audience of the key of David, which is the main focus of the year for the church. For those not familiar with this practice. PP will, at the beginning of the year, set the vision or theme for the entire church to follow. So last year for example, it was the year of unceasing fruitfulness, whereby God blesses you and makes you fruitful(so to speak). For 2013, the theme is the Key of David. Now what is the Key of David you may ask. It is found particularly in Rev 3:7. I will not at this stage comment on this yet but I can point you to a similar passage found in Isa 22:22.
Of particular note is the emphasis on this key passage that speaks of Jesus possessing the key of David and having the power to open and close doors. One will need to remember this now for it will surface again later in the sermon.
PP starts off with the following:
“…We are in a fallen world. God never meant for this world, to have disease, accidents, dangers, harm, grow old, ageing, and then Death. It’s never God’s plan…when the first man sinned…man opened the flood gates, man actually in essence bowed his knee to an outlaw spirit, Satan and committed high treason… God deputized man to be in charge of this earth. Now once God gives man the authority of this earth, and that man gives the key of the authority to the Devil, God cannot just legally come in and just take it like that. God has Given Man…So Satan knew that when Adam gave him the key, he has the right. So God has to get it back legally…”
So God has to send His Son Jesus Christ to get the key back from the Devil. Let us pause for a while now. For the listener, one would naturally assume PP is talking about the Key of David, which he was talking about earlier. However, the problem arises when one tries to find scriptural support for this. Might PP be talking about Rev 1:18? If so, then Jesus does have the keys of death and hades, which was taken from the Devil(read Heb 2:14). Even then, at this point, it is quite inconclusive as to whether the Devil does have all the authority with regards to this earth and that God, if you follow the logic, does not have authority over His own creation. (One would just need to look at the following verses to know that this is untrue: Daniel 4:35, Psa 103:19, Psa 135:6) Also, Heb 2:14 is speaking of the Devil having the power of death with regards to man’s sin and condemnation under God’s law, thereby giving the Devil, so to speak, the right to condemn one to death. However, as it is unclear at this point which key is being referred to and one can just speculate that it is the Key of David since it is mentioned in that context.
PP then continues to say that the gospel is the greatest treasure of the church and about how God sent His son to save the world, not condemn it.
Later on in the sermon, PP teaches:
“…one of the things that the Lord said to me earlier this year about the key of David is this, He gave me this passage in Deut 28…the Lord will open up His good treasure and the word treasure there is Osar…and here it says that the Lord will open to you His treasury. Now how are treasuries opened? With a key. So the Lord Jesus is going to use his key…He’s going to open His treasury to His people this year…The Lord will open to you His good treasure…the heavens to give the rain to your land in its season. Now notice the result is that a rain will fall…this is not just speaking of a physical rain…but there is a sign…God says that when I open the treasuries in Heaven, the rain is gonna fall, He is talking about Israel, to your land, in its season. So watch it when Israel receives rain!”
Ok, at this point, let’s consider the passage in Deut 28 PP was referring to. In Deut 28:12, Moses says… “The Lord will open to you His good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands…”(ESV)
In order for us to examine this verse further, let’s look at the context that this verse is taken from. Just before crossing the Jordan river and as Moses was nearing the end of his life on earth, he and the elders of Israel calls the congregation of Israel to Mount Ebal and proclaims the curses and blessing of God. The key to the blessings is to faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments…” (Deut 28:1) Now this was part of the covenant that God had instituted with His people Israel after they came up out of Egypt. Now how does PP apply these blessings to the church and to Christians?
You might say that these promises apply only to Israel, who did not really keep the commandments most of the time and not to us. The key passage that ties these promises to us is found in 2Cor 1:20 which states that “For all the promises of God find their yes in Him…”(ESV) In the KJV, it says “For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.”
In this passage, Paul rightly states that in Christ, all the promises of God are fulfilled in Him and through Him. The anointed one of God is the only one who could keep all the laws and commandments so that we, in Him, can enjoy God’s promises and blessings. However, at this point, one must be reminded that God’s promises does not only consist of material blessings but spiritual blessings as well. If you read further into 2 Cor, you will notice Paul talking about all the spiritual blessings that the believer has and can enjoy. One will need to remember this in order to keeps things in perspective.
PP then continues to talk about Israel receiving an abundant of rain recently. He then goes on to say something amazing:
“…everytime something happens to natural Israel, we are the spiritual Israel…God Himself spoke to Abraham and use the twofold analogy. God says about His people, God says I will bless your descendants like the stars of the heavens. That is spiritual, heavenly people who are all of us, believers in Christ, the descendants of Abraham. I’ll bless your seed like the stars of heaven and the sand on the sea shore. Sand is that which is material, that which is palpable, alright, this is natural Israel…”
Now let us pause here again. The passage I believe PP is referring to is found in Gen 22:17-18. This passage in Gen has God saying to Abraham He will bless him and multiply his offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore(ESV). (See also Jer 33:22, Gen 13:16, Gen 26:4) As one can see, these passages are promises that God has given to Abraham that specifically says he will multiply his descendants. And that “In your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed…” (ESV) It does not, however, say that Christians are like the stars of heaven nor does it say that natural Israel is like the sand on the seashore! And speaking of promises in this particular passage, one may refer to Gal 3:15-29. In Gal 3, Paul correctly refers to Abraham’s offpring as Jesus Christ our Lord! Who is the seed of Abraham and in whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed!
Now I do believe that the nation of Israel is specially chosen by God as His representative people to the world. But to attempt to link natural Israel with the church is really stretching it a bit as natural Israel does not have Jesus Christ nor do thy know Christ as we do.
PP then continues to quote from 1Cor 15: 46-“ First the natural then the spiritual..” he then rightly says that the passage is about the first man, Adam, and the last man, Jesus Christ. PP then tries to links this passage to spiritual Israel and natural Israel(which is the Church and the people of Israel). Now at this point, if you are not already confused by the whole thing, you may start to find yourself disorientated as you try to grapple with how a passage about the resurrection of the body can be used to indicate spiritual and natural Israel??
Anyway, PP continues to show examples of how what happens to natural Israel will shortly happen to spiritual Israel (that is the church). Examples include the birth of the nation of Israel followed by the voice of healing movement. At this point, one can only speculate if this is true, could something bad that happens to natural Israel happen to spiritual Israel as well?
PP then continues to remind the people that first the natural then the spiritual and draws parallels between what happens to Israel as a precursor to what will happen to the church.
He then goes back to Deut 28 and says that God will open up His treasury this year to bless the church and the physical sign of that happening is the rainfall in Israel. Now one may wonder why is God only opening His treasury, if at all, only this year and does that mean only the good that happens to natural Israel will happen to us and not the bad?
Is there any scriptural support for this? Again, there is no answer.
But of course, it all sounds very good to those who are hearing this for the first time and who may not have gone deeper to study the bible.
PP later says something about this treasury:
“…this is what God said to me and I am giving you the word of the season…God promised He’s gonna open the treasury, many of you have deposited into that treasury, I will tell you why in a while’s time. Many of you have…invested in that treasury and God’s gonna open it right now, this season, this year and gonna pour you out such a blessing that He will bless all the work of your hand…”
Wow! What a statement! God’s treasury is our bank in heaven?! Amazing as it sounds, it only gets better later on as PP states that the treasury or Osar in Hebrew, means repository or bank. Firstly, PP states that God has given him this message that God has PROMISED He will open this treasury, which the church has ‘invested’ in. Does this sound like an investment scheme to you?
PP then draws a parallel in the NT with regards to this “Bank” by stating in Matt 6:19, Jesus says “Do not lay up treasures on earth…but lay up yourself treasuries in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” PP then states sometime to clarify what verse 21 means. “ Where your money is, your heart will follow.” Another amazing statement there! If you put your money in the kingdom of God, your heart will be drawn to there also! I guess the rich people in Mk 12: 41-44 would have agreed with this statement as well. For those of you not familiar with this story, Mk 12:41 talks about the poor widow who gave all she had, two copper coins, into the treasury, maybe hoping for some blessing from God. Jesus then proclaims that the widow has given more than all the rich people had given. But of course, if you follow the teaching that where your money is, your heart will follow, one would conclude that those who contributed the most do love the Lord most?
Again, looking at the context of Matt 6:19, this passage was part of what is known as the sermon on the mount. Jesus goes on to say no one can serve two masters…You cannot serve God and money. (Matt 6:24)
In Jamieson, Fausset and Brown’s commentary on this verse, it quotes Luther saying “ What a man loves, that is His God. For he carries it in his heart, he goes about with it night and day, he sleeps and wakes with it, be it what it may-wealth or pelf, pleasure or renown.”
Adam Clarke’s commentary states: “If God be the treasure of our souls, our hearts, i.e. our affections and desires will be placed on things above. An earthly minded man proves that his treasure is below; a heavenly minded man shows that his treasure is above.”
So in this passage, Jesus is saying that we should not horde and covet riches on earth but we should be rich towards God. Jesus also warns the Christian against covetousness in other passages( Matt 19:21-22, Lk 12:21, Lk 12: 32-33, LK 18: 22, also, 1Tim 6: 9-10, )
So we can conclude that Jesus is warning against being rich in this world and not towards God and money or mammon is always portrayed in a bad light. Jesus calls it unrighteous wealth( Lk 16:11) and in Lk 16 :1-12, He encourages us to be faithful in unrighteous wealth so we can be entrusted with true riches.
So how does one reconcile this treasure in heaven as being a bank that stores money? Clearly, Jesus is not talking about material wealth in heaven but spiritual wealth. However, you need to remember that PP is trying to liken investing in this heavenly treasure to putting your money in a bank. And most of the time, that means putting money into the church.
Does our heart really follow our money? Or does it follow after money?
Do we need to put our money in the church so that our hearts will be drawn to it? Or was it God who first drew us to him when we were still in our sins and rebellion? At this point, the distinction between what is material and immaterial is casually blurred and the listener is left wondering about whether it is all just a cloud of smoke or whether there is really something going on here.
PP then goes on to say that the treasury in heaven is for the here and now and not when we die and go to heaven. He goes on to explain that this treasury or bank is only useful if we draw upon it in this life. This would make sense if we imagine the bank of heaven as a bank where we put our money in. So rather that investing in or putting our trust what is material(banks, stocks etc…) we should be putting our money in heaven’s bank( aka the church). This also would be applicable if we are mainly concerned with the here and now and not the life after when we really do not need money anymore. Also, do note that it is only money that one deposits into this treasury and not other intangible things like good works, service and devotion.
PP then goes on to say something mind blowing:
“…even this treasuries that you put in the bank of heaven, do you know you can make withdrawals on it? And by the way, God charges, for your benefit, alright, your money will make a 100% percent INTEREST! No bank on earth will give you that!”
Did you hear that right? God WILL give you back your principle plus 100% in interest??!! That is really the best deal I have ever heard! Now not only is this bank in heaven guaranteed by God Himself, but he will pay you back everything plus interest!
So where does PP get this from? Mark 10 29-31 which states:
“And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life”(KJV)
Now let us stop for a while and examine this passage closely. The context that this passage was taken from is the story of the Rich young man or ruler who went to Jesus one day and asked him what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus then told him that in addition to keeping the commandments, he had to sell all that he had, give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and then to follow Jesus. The rich young man, upon hearing this, went away sorrowful, why? Simply because he had a lot to lose! So therefore, the context of this passage does not encourage one to be rich in this life and poor towards God. Will God be actually blessing us by giving us great wealth like the rich young man? What is this treasure then in the context of this story? It is clear from the story that God has given great wealth to the young man as he has (so to speak) kept the commandments, so why is Jesus now divesting him of all he has? (And when Jesus said to sell ALL, he means ALL!) Clearly, riches is a stumbling block to those who seek to enter the kingdom of God. If you had to sell everything you have, how would you live and where would you sleep? These things must have crossed the disciples’ minds at some point in time because just after Jesus said these things, Peter replied to Him saying. “ See, we have left everything and followed You.” (Mk 10: 28).
What I believe and some commentators would also say is that the promise in v29-30 refers particularly to the early Church and to the first century Christians who often times had to leave or lose their family, worldly possessions and such for the sake of the Gospel. In such circumstances, Jesus assures them that they will receive in return, the hospitality of other Christians, their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. As we are not in that particular time period and facing such hardships, we would hardly qualify for that promise as many if not most, do not need to give up everything for Christ!
On a further note, if you were to take lands and houses literally, you would also have to take brothers, sisters and mothers literally as well!
So the difficulty of portraying the bank of heaven as something you can make withdrawals upon is something that can’t be found in scripture. And the problem is compounded by the fact PP does not clearly state how one may make such withdrawals.
PP continues to admonish the people to ask God for big things this year as it is promised by God. And that “ According to your faith, be it unto you.” (Matt 9:29)
Now if we look at the context of where this verse came from, it is said by Jesus on occasions when he was healing and in accordance with God’s will to heal. In Matt 9:27-31, the blind men approached Jesus to have mercy on them to heal them. In no way did they have the audacity to ask Jesus to heal them simply because they had faith. Also, in 1John 5: 14-15, we are told to ask God according to HIS will and not ours. However, PP fails to mention this fact and it is no wonder people are under the impression they can ask God for anything(cars, houses, money etc..) and God is compelled to answer simply because he owes us and we ask by faith.
PP then goes on to say why the church needs money, in order for service and not for our own self-aggrandizement. On this, I will have to agree as according to 2Cor 9:1-15, God is able to make all grace abound to us so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, we may abound in every good work. (v 8). God’s blessing is for us in order that we may be a blessing to those in need and for every good work. However, if we give in order to get more from God, we may be in for a big surprise as God is not in the business of making us rich and to gratify our every desire.
Thereafter, PP reminds the church that money is needed to sustain and support the church as well as every service and work it is involved in and by giving or sowing into the church, one will be blessed by God.
Now I am for giving to the church and supporting her in doing good works but I don’t give in expectation of getting more back. Even if God does not give back to us in material wealth, will we still follow Him? Or is there something else here that God is saying to us when we give to the poor and needy?
In conclusion, the main points of the sermon can thus be summarized as follows;
1- There is a treasury or bank in heaven that operates like a real bank.
2- Christians deposit ‘money’ into this bank whenever they give to the church
3- God promises a 100% interest on money deposited into this bank.
4- God will open up this bank to Christians this year. Christians can also make withdrawals on this bank.
5- God will open this bank to us because of what is happening to natural Israel. This bank was closed previously but no reason is given as to why it is closed.
Does this investment sound too good to be true? If it is, it is almost always right. Nothing is ever mentioned about spiritual blessings nor the fact that riches can be a snare and a barrier to the Kingdom. Also, we are reminded, if the Christian can ever be said to ‘lend’ to God, we should expect nothing in return( Lk 6: 35). Of course, this would not sit well with those who have probably given a lot of money to the church. Telling them that they should not expect anything like 100% in return(money, possessions etc…) would probably drive them away. For why should they invest in something that gives them 0% or even negative profit? Then again, if you were to study the bible deeply, you would have known otherwise and all of this would not be a surprise to you.
In ending, I leave you with these poignant words from Jesus…
Matthew 13:11-16 (King James Version)
11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.