Review of Destined to Reign by Joseph Prince


Joseph Prince, Destined to Reign: The Secret to Effortless Success, Wholeness and Victorious Living (Tulsa, OK: Harrison House, 2007).

If you combine a Word of Faith understanding of biblical promises with a Dispensationalist understanding of grace, the result is Destined to Reign by Joseph Prince, a book about “being radically transformed by His grace and His grace alone” (p. ix).

The Word of Faith understanding of biblical promises is evident on page 1: “You are destined to reign in life,” Prince writes, by which it becomes clear he means this 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.”

How do we experience this “life of victory”? Through grace. “Many believers are defeated today because they are struggling to qualify themselves for God’s blessing by their own works. Self-effort will rob you of reigning in life by His grace. You cannot earn your salvation, your healing, or your financial breakthrough by your own efforts. If the greatest miracle—being saved from hell—comes by grace through faith, and not by your works, how much more the lesser miracles, such as healing, prosperity, and restored marriages” (p. 10).

Why do I think Prince’s understanding of grace is Dispensationalist? Because his approach is hyper-Pauline and because he emphasizes “rightly dividing” the Bible into a rigid before-and-after scenario of “law” vs. “grace.”

Regarding hyper-Paulinism, Prince writes: “The best way to understand the gospel, therefore, is not to base it on what you have heard from various sources, but to go back to what the apostles preached in the early church. Let’s examine what Apostle Paul, the apostle of the new covenant, preached. After all, Paul was the apostle whom God appointed to preach the gospel of grace. He received more revelation on the new covenant of grace than all the other apostles put together, and he was responsible for writing more than two-thirds of the New Testament” (pp. 73, 74).

Regarding “rightly dividing,” Prince writes: “There is a lot of confusion and wrong believing in the church today because many Christians read their Bibles without rightly dividing the old and new covenants. They don’t realize that even some of the words which Jesus spoke in the four gospels [sic] (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are part of the old covenant. They were spoken before the cross as He had not yet died. The new covenant begins only after the cross, when the Holy Spirit was given on the Day of Pentecost” (p. 92, emphasis in original).

This emphasis on grace vs. law leads Prince to contrast faith and works, which are understood as self-effort: “My friend, I have good news for you today: Faith is not a struggle. The hearing of faith and the works of the law are total opposites. And since the law is about our self-efforts, there is no self-effort in faith” (p. 271, emphasis added). That is why the subtitle of the book is “The Secret to Effortless Success, Wholeness and Victorious Living” (emphasis added).

In other words, we might say that not only does Prince believe in justification by grace through faith, but also in sanctification by grace through faith. “It is clear that if a person lacks good Christian qualities like self-control, godliness, and brotherly kindness, it is not because he lacks discipline, but because he has forgotten the main clause of the new covenant. He has forgotten that the blood of Jesus has purchased for him the forgiveness of all his sins. Beloved, if you remind yourself daily that you have been cleansed from all your sins, you will exhibit more and more of these Christian qualities. Your heart will overflow with self-control, godliness, perseverance, brotherly kindness, and love” (p. 103).

Critiquing Destined to Reign is a tricky proposition because a few diamonds of genuine biblical insight about grace are mixed in with lots of cubic zirconia of nonsense, but let me try.

First, Prince’s Word of Faith understanding of biblical promises is unbiblical. Yes, the new covenant promises believers forgiveness, resurrection, prosperity, and a kingly role. But how those promises are realized in this present life is complicated. Sins are forgiven, but believers still experience death, financial frustration, and powerlessness. The biblical explanation for these experiences is that we will not experience the promises in fullness until the age to come. The Word of Faith understanding of biblical promises is thus an example of over-realized eschatology.

Second, Prince’s explanation for these negative experiences is that we are laboring under self-condemnation. He writes, “the deepest root is condemnation” (p. 131). And, “There are many believers who are suffering from sicknesses and diseases because of guilt. Whether or not there is any real basis for their guilt and condemnation, the guilt and condemnation are still destructive. That is why the gospel is so powerful. It is the good news of God’s grace and forgiveness that frees the believer from every sense of feeling dirty or condemned and gives him the power to break free from the vicious circle of condemnation and sin” (p. 290).

I find this explanation for (at least some) people’s sickness odd. Elsewhere, Prince rights: “By the way, a believer should never feel guilty for being sick. We have to be careful not to create a culture in the church where people think that you will never be attacked by symptoms of sickness if you are walking with God. Having a sickness or disease does not mean that you have sinned or that God is teaching you a lesson. It just means that your healing is on its way!” (p. 162). I agree. But if we’re going to decouple sickness from sin or chastisement, why not decouple it from self-condemnation too? Perhaps sickness has less to do with spirituality and more to do with physical conditions like bad diet, no exercise, and stress or with germs, viruses, infections, and congenital defects.

Third, Prince’s hyper-Paulinism doesn’t get Paul right. Paul is not against works or self-effort per se, he is against their being used as the ground of justification. Paul’s vision of sanctification is not “effortless,” in other words. Thus, for example, in Ephesians 4:17–32, Paul exhorts the Ephesians to “put off your old self,” “be made new in the attitude of your minds,” and “put on the new self.” This requires effort. It may even require hard work.

But the motivation for this effort is not the hope of gaining God’s favor. God’s favor has already been bestowed. That is, as it were, the diamond of insight in Prince’s book. Whatever work the Christian performs is motivated precisely by the knowledge that one already has God’s favor. Work, then, is not the ground of justification. Rather, work—the work of holiness—is the expression of having been justified.

Fourth, the same logic applies to confession. Prince can only see the practice of ongoing confession of sins as an attempt to gain God’s favor. So, in regard to 1 John 1:9, he writes:

For us believers, the moment we received Jesus, all our sins were forgiven. We are not to live from confession to confession, but from faith to faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work. You see, there are no two ways about it. If you believe that you have confess your sins to be forgiven, then make sure that you confess everything! Make sure that you don’t just confess the “big sins” (“big” in your own estimation). Make sure that you also confess your sins every time you are worried, fearful, or in doubt. The Bible says that ‘whatsoever is not of faith is sin.’ So don’t just confess what is convenient for you. Make sure that you confess everything.

If you really believe that you need to confess all your sins to be forgiven, do you know what you would be doing? You would be confessing your sins ALL THE TIME! How then can you have courage before God? How can you enjoy liberty as a child of God? I tried it and it is impossible! (pp. 106, 107).

Well, yes, if you think your confession of sins is the reason God forgives you, you’ll be anxious and enslaved. On the other hand, if you think God’s faithfulness and righteousness is the ground of your forgiveness, you’ll confess your sins freely and joyfully. The question, then, is not whether we confess our sins, but for what reason and with what motivation. Because Prince misunderstands the reason and motivation for confession, he comes close to doing away with the entire practice.

Two subsidiary points need to be made here: (1) Prince is simply wrong that 1 John 1:9 was written to Gnostics, not Christians (p. 106). The only letter is addressed to Christians. (2) Jesus himself taught us to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12). Though Prince does not set this verse aside explicitly, others who make the type of argument he makes about ongoing confession—I’m thinking of Bob George, for example—say that Jesus’ instruction came “before the Cross” and is thus not binding on the Christian. And thus does hyper-Paulinism exalt the apostle over the Sender, the servant above the Master! It takes some hair to set aside Jesus’ teaching on the basis of Paul, especially when you’ve misinterpreted Paul.

Fifth, another way Prince goes wrong is in his entirely negative view of the Law. For him, it has only a negative purpose. “God gave the law for one purpose, and that is by the law, the world would the knowledge of sin, and recognize their need for a Savior. Without the law, there would be no sin” (p. 16). And, “Let me give you a practical tip on how you can grow in this revelation of ‘no condemnation’: Learn to see the Ten Commandments (the law of God) and condemnation as the same thing. Whenever you read or think about the law, think ‘condemnation’” (p. 151).

Is the Law really entirely negative? In reality, the Law has at least three purposes. First, it reveals God’s righteousness. If, as Paul rights, “the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12), it is only so because God is holy, righteous, and good. Second, because the law reflects God’s character, it reveals our sin. It is in this sense that the law condemns. But third, the law, reflecting God’s character and revealing our sin, guides our actions. The Israelites to whom God gave the Law viewed it as a blessing (cf. Pss. 1, 119).  Paul himself cited the Ten Commandments in Romans 13:8–10, concluding, “Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” If whenever we read or think about the law, we only think about condemnation, how can we view it as holy, righteous, and good? How can we view it—as Paul viewed it—as a meaningful guide to truly loving behavior?

There are some excellent passages in Destined to Reign, ones with genuine biblical insights about grace. However, those diamonds are mixed in with so much cubic zirconia that I cannot in good conscience recommend this book.

P.S. If you found this review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my Amazon.com review page.

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16 thoughts on “Review of Destined to Reign by Joseph Prince

  1. A very clear and concise review! Good job, Brother George.

    The message of this ‘distorted grace’ may seem profitable for a season but in the long run, it will have its dire consequence.

    Doing away with most of the teachings of Christ in the four Gospels because they were taught before the Cross and then misinterpreting the teachings of Paul by changing the original meanings are dangerous. Soon there will be a large group of undiscerning believers, who sincerely desire the grace of God, reducing the importance of the teachings of Christ and ultimately rejecting them completely. It does not take a whole load of poison to destroy.

    I must point our that on page 134, Joseph Prince writes, “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 the Holy Spirit comes to convict you of your sins.”

    This contradicts what the Bible teaches about the conviction of sin which is done by the Holy Spirit and that will lead to repentance. Joseph Prince says that the only repentance believers need to do is to repent from repenting.

    According to 2 Corinthians 7:8-11, the Apostle Paul mentions that the Corinthian believers, after reading his stern reprimand, they repented. After realizing their sin, they were sorrowful. As a result of this conviction of sin (and not as Joseph Prince says, ‘conviction of righteousness’), the Holy Spirit led them to repentance.

    To Joseph Prince, all repentance is for the purpose of salvation. He does not see the dynamic relational aspect of repentance. What he does not realize too is that when believers are convicted of sin and have a need to repent – they do not repent unto the judgement of God but unto the grace and mercy of God.

    i agree with you that there are some excellent passages which Joseph Prince has expounded and revealed excellent insights into the grace of God. However, these are dangerously mixed up with his own theological misinterpretations so much so that this book becomes almost dangerous for undiscerning readers.

  2. Well said George. Thanks for your work here. I’ve not read the book but in Tulsa I have encountered quite a few who have errantly embraced this view of grace. It’s a tightrope for sure. Appreciate your thorough work here.

  3. Abraham Mathew says:

    Just like every TRUTH was stretched,so is the Grace doctrine..I hope that Andrew Wommack,Bob Yandian know what they are teaching.

    • kam oon tian says:

      focus on grace is a must, but is not anywhere behind this important element of grace.

      however where is carrying the cross? living a godly life and paul said let us wak circumspectly. in another place – be holy for he who calls us is holy. 1 john 1:9 says we have to confess since we are not perfect and this is where grace comes in. prince had not balanced his writing in this book i must say.

      where is seeking the giver instead of the gift? seeking the healer instead of the healing? the financial provision instead of the financial provider? we seek solution instead of the solution provider. i am of the view that we have to focus on jesus instead of the various provision, meaning carry the cross. in this paul writes about grace but his life was not so gracious-scourging, persecuting, imprisonment, shipwrecked etc. ensure that he was carrying the cross, branding the marks of a true disciple. i strongly believe that if without faith, paul cannot carry on with the type of situation he was under. he was not writing about grace from the best of given scenario. on the contrary, he was writing from the worse of times, yet he persevered. this is faith.

      undoubtedly price had expounded grace to the hilt, but let us balance things out – without carrying the cross; grace is just for abuse and license.

      • MikeF says:

        Well said. Prince has actually taught me a Couple things, but in the end he is just another word of faith teacher, albeit very subtle. This kind false teaching is dangerous. Like you mentioned, what a about the cross and being a disciple of Jesus Christ. These people are teaching that YOU have control over your rather than GOD. That’s a lie Satan has used since the beginning. Prince, Osteen, Meyer, Jakes, Copeland, Bentley, this is what a lot of souls are falling for.

  4. Hi, Good analysis.
    Mr Prince does not believe in conviction of the Holy Spirit against sins. It means that he does not believe that he can ever sin; yet he confessed that he was humble and that he could sin or fall into sin. He has made it difficult for people to say if he has preached the word soundly or radically.

  5. jt band says:

    i have found your review helpful. Also look up http://www.letusreason.org/Popteach57.htm and on hyper-grace: http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/prophetic-insight/17255-rooting-out-fuzzy-theology-behind-the-hyper-grace-message.

    Actually these teachings resonate with some from the Dispensationalists such as Scofield and Chafer. Read/downld http://ebookbrowse.com/the-law-of-moses-and-of-jesus-pdf-d458059086.

    There are also elements of Antinomianism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antinomianism , which can easily lead to Gnosticism. I find J. I. Packer’s definition of five strains of antinomianism very insightful as we can be practising anyone of these without even knowing. The Church is in a crisis today as one wrong teaching can lead to another. Time for soul searching.

  6. Joseph Prince’s argument on pages 92-94 of Destined to Reign, where he apparently pretends that the Sermon on the Mount was addressed to the Pharisees, and is therefore not relevant to Christian believers, could presumably be used to remove any part of Jesus’s teaching. Prince quite unashamedly confesses to steering new believers in the Jesus away from His teaching (p.94). This makes him an opponent of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in effect an antichrist teacher, so far as I can see.

    Andrew

  7. I don’t want to cast a stone…but I can firmly stress out that “a fruitful life” is the kind of life that the Lord showed us while walking here on earth. I’m “yes for active christian walking” and “no for passive christian lighter relaxing”. It’s so full of comfort zone, omission, unbalanced and absence of the fruit bearing ministry of the Holy Spirit living. Positive human effort cant not get us saved but it can prove that we are indeed saved through the blood of Jesus our LORD and Savior!

    Dennis

  8. Cory says:

    Thank you for your candid review of this book. Do you know of another book that more accurately explains the topic of grace? This is something I have been struggling with my entire christian walk and I don’t want to get it wrong. I am constantly fearful that I am not forgiven of sin, living confession to confession and as soon as I screw up it’s all ruined. This book was a breath of fresh air to me but now I am not so sure.

    • Samarii says:

      I had lived most of my 40 years of a ‘believer’s life in fear, guilt and sense of condemnation until God the Father’s ocean grace n love shone through JP’s sermons. and HALLELUJAH! my family and I have never been more in love, my husband and I have never had better relation in 31 years of marriage. I have never felt such Love of God in my life. I’m FREE from the above mentioned chains from which Jesus came to FREE us! whats the point of Jesus’ death/resurrection, otherwise? He is in the ‘next’ level with God n many many christians are still chained by the ‘shadow’ of the shackles tho jesus has freed them but they are not flying out of the ‘cage’ – tho’ Jesus has opened the door. I have never had such ‘love ‘ and power to ‘forgive’ others before and sin has less and less attraction for me. I have SERIOUSLY started enjoying ‘heaven’ here! Dear Cory, the Lord will guard your heart. JP ALWAYS gives God all credit. Don’t let anyone else take away the FREEDOM that Jesus has already given you. Living story of Grace: The prodigal son. When the son confessed his misdeeds it was like the Father didn’t even hear ! and then he (Father) goes on to throw the biggest party n see how he treats the wayward, wasteful son. That story is not from PJ ~ JESUS told that story. Bless U bro

  9. kirk mcshan says:

    i totally agree on the fact that some of Prince’s teaching are wrong, real wrong,,, but him saying God wants us to live in victory in our lives is true,,, i do believe that some ministers over-hype things to sell there books and so on,,,, but God promises victory,,, that doesnt mean there arent things that happen such as death and financial trouble but the bible is filled with His promises for totally victory,,, but alot of bible teachers are preaching bogus things these days and that is sad,, because the bible says these people will spend eternity in hell

  10. The review is excellent and I agree with every point, however it fails to address the most glaring problem with Prince’s theology, which is that his message is simply a hyper-extension of the dispensational message of Scofield and the other Replacement Theology teachers who dominate the landscape in modern Evangelical thought. This mindset has set the stage, over the last 150 years, for an anti-Christ message like that of Prince to emerge with such popularity.

    Prince fundamentally misunderstands the Covenants of God and the orthodox view of progressive revelation. The New Covenant, announced at the first in Jeremiah 31 and also Ezekiel 36, tells us clearly that in the New Covenant God’s Law will be written on our hearts. Therefore the Law is certainly not “condemnation”, as Prince asserts. Paul, whom he quotes with complete abandonment of sound scholarship, would respond to Prince’s statements on the Law; “Heaven forbid!”. In fact, in Romans Paul states: “Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.” (Rom.3:31)

    This New Covenant, initiated by Christ upon his death, burial and resurrection, is only partially fulfilled, as the review rightly states, meaning Word of Faith is fundamentally off-track according to the Bible. We cannot claim all the promises of the New Covenant as being fully in place until they actually are instituted in the Messianic Age to come. In fact, part of that Age will be the fact that God’s Law will be kept perfectly by all who serve Him. This is a far cry from viewing God’s commandments as nothing but “condemnation”.

    Jesus taught obedience to the Law, He lived it and His disciples lived it. The Law was never meant for salvation, so pitting the Law against Grace is the wrong view and the wrong theological foundation. Our salvation is the fulfillment of the promises God made to Abraham, a covenant initiated in faith, as Paul careful exposits in his epistles.

    Finally, to state that Paul “received more revelation than all the other apostles combined” is irresponsible preaching and downright wrong. James was the head of the church in Paul’s day and had more authority than anyone, even Peter. Paul’s teachings were not “spoken to him by the Lord” as is surmised by many, but rather the result of the Holy Spirit illuminating the traditional Jewish Rabbinical theology of his day. One must remember that Paul was the most polished and advanced Rabbi of his day. He knew the Tanak inside and out. God used this as the backdrop to illuminate Paul in many beautiful and deep truths, but these truths, in many instances were not unique insights but often were repackaged teachings of the Rabbis that came before him. Proof of this is the fact that on his first missionary journey, the learned Jews of the diaspora received his gospel message readily and with eagerness.

    Also, Paul did not teach a different gospel than is presented in the four gospel narratives, as Prince wrongly suggests. The gospel message of John the Baptist and Jesus and the other apostles was consistent: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Paul preached the same message, not a different one. Consider the following passage:
    “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because he has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man he has appointed…” (Acts 17:30-31)
    Also, this:
    “..I was with you the whole time…..testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:18-21)

    Sure doesn’t sound like the same Paul that Prince is talking about, does it.

    Prince is an anti-christ teacher and if he is in fact a true believer in Jesus, which I doubt, he will enter the Kingdom Age as through fire and without reward unless he repents of his false teaching.

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