What should we do when life throws us lemons? After all, we are living in a flawed world and are prone to anxieties, guilt, torment, depression, and all kinds of problems.
The answer, according to Pastor Joseph Prince, is to believe right. In his latest book, The Power of Right Believing, Prince teaches that "right believing always produces right living" and allows us to "let go of a life of defeat and step into a life full of victory, security, and success". Focusing our thoughts on God's love and mercy yields far better outcomes than believing in unhealthy emotions which lead to "toxic feelings of guilt, shame, condemnation, and fear" and ultimately negative behaviors, actions and addictions.
Founder of the New Creation Church in Singapore, Prince is well known for preaching the Gospel of Grace, which is a school of thought best exemplified by the following Bible verses:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
So what are the keys to right believing? Prince outlines seven lessons for us to experience freedom from all kinds of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual malaise.
Pastor Joseph Prince (courtesy of Premier Productions)
1) Believe in God's Love for You
The first step is to believe in a God of infinite grace - one who gives hope to the hopeless, forgives unceasingly and abounds in never ending mercy. God is also full of love, and this is exemplified by the following verses from the apostle Paul:
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39)
Quoting the book, "God is a God of grace and forgiveness. He loves you very much, and He doesn't hold your mistakes against you".
2) Learn to See What God Sees
Urging us to play the right mental movies in our mind, Prince illustrates this principle with a story of a lady named Heather who was able to experience recovery from stroke by filling her mind with mental images of herself being healthy, strong and "basking in the love of her family at home".
To quell our fears, we need to think Godly thoughts, prioritise the Word over material pursuits, and see ourselves as God sees us. By believing that our righteousness is a gift from God, we can draw from His unmerited favour, and see ourselves as precious gems in his sight. Thus, our salvation is not due to our human efforts but His divine providence.
In other words, "...When God looks at you today, He sees you as a righteous, forgiven, healed, favoured, blessed, accepted, and beloved son and daughter because of the cross of Jesus."
3) Receive God's Complete Forgiveness
Preaching that our sins are eternally forgiven on the cross through Jesus' death and resurrection, Prince teaches that "forgiveness is received, not achieved" and that we can receive "fresh Grace for every failing". By focusing our hearts and lives on Jesus and His forgiveness and grace, we are able to exceed the law.
Through dramatising the story of the adulterous woman (John 1:1-11), Prince further illustrates that we can receive victory over our bondages as Jesus has "taken all your beatings at the cross" and that we are no longer condemned as He has been condemned on the cross. Once again, the message here is that we cannot earn God's favour, which is unmerited and freely given.
4) Win the Battle for Your Mind
The next three chapters talks about the enemy (aka the devil). To defeat the battle for our minds, we need to stand firm in the Word of God, "bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5), flee from temptation, resist the devil (James 4:7), and to put on the armour of God (Ephesians 6:10-12).
Describing the enemy like a "roaring lion" seeking to devour us, we are told that the secret to being "undevourable" is to "cast all our cares upon Him, for He cares you." (1 Peter 5:7). Instead of being afraid of an almightly and fearsome God who is angry with us, we should instead believe that "God is not mad at you, He is mad about you."
5) Be Free from Self-Occupation
By shining our personal spotlight on Jesus and not our problems, we can enjoy peace of mind and rest. This is summarised by Matthew 11:28 - "Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest". Through occupying our minds with God and placing Jesus in the centre of all we do, we can dispel our apprehensions, fears, and excessive self-introspection.
Once again, we are told to feed on the Scriptures. In Prince's words, the "true gospel of Jesus Christ always produces godliness, holiness, morality, character, provision, health, wisdom, love, peace, joy, and much more". We should also "worship with the words of David", and here Prince highlights certain Psalms like the famous Psalm 23 and Psalm 34.
6) Have a Confident Expectation of Good
An ancient king of Judah, Jehoshaphat's military victory over the massive armies of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir form the basis of this section (see 2 Chronicles 20:1-29). Like the good king, we are told to find hope in God. This is encapsulated by the Greek word elpis which is defined as a "favourable and confident expectation". In Prince's words, such hope is a "confident expectation in your heart that, bleak as the circumstances appear to be, it's not over yet".
In quite an unexpected manner, the book shared the personal story of Hyflux boss Olivia Lum and how she managed to build a billion-dollar public-listed company through favour in God. Through her experience, Prince encourages us to ask God for big things so that He can do "exceedingly and abundantly above all that we can ask, think, or even imagine" (Ephesians 3:20).
7) Find Rest in the Father's Love
Finally, the last three chapters expounds on the parable of the prodigal son, and uses it to highlight how God our "Abba Father" is like a loving daddy. Our identities as children of God is described by Romans 8:15 - "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father'".
By regarding receiving God's love, we can be transformed by it and find rest. Equating our status as sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father also mean accepting that we are God's "beloved" in whom He is well pleased (Matthew 3:16-17). Through believing in the Father's love for us, we can receive help in our time of need, be showered by His grace, and be free from all manner of darkness.
A Spiritual Manual For Life's Difficulties
Personally, I found the book an inspiring and enlightening read during a time of soul searching and reflection. Well-written in Prince's own personal voice, the book does not deviate from its central theme and core message. I enjoyed its Biblical references and found comfort from the numerous testimonies shared in the volume.
Having said that, I am aware that pastor Joseph Prince has his critics, particularly those who feel that his message of "hyper grace" or "radical grace" may be a form of "prosperity gospel". Others have asserted that his equivalent message of a "get out of jail free forever" redemptive approach may not ring true with other Biblical passages where we are told to ask for forgiveness and seek redemption regularly.
While I may not agree totally with his religious philosophies, I do find The Power of Right Believing beneficial for Christians facing challenges and difficulties in life. That probably applies to all of us! It is easy for us Christians to forget that salvation is not just our eternal destiny but something which we can experience here and now while we are on planet Earth. Instead of attempting to do everything with our own limited strength, we can choose to let God do the heavy lifting and to relish in His divine providence as our Abba Father.
For more information on Joseph Prince, check out his website here.