I dreamt I was taken up to heaven for the second time and I was waiting for an audience before Joseph Prince’s god (JP’s god). The angels told me that JP’s god was busy and he'd see me later. I asked for how long must I wait and was told that they weren't sure. But they assured me that it wouldn’t take long. So, I decided to kill some time by taking a tour around heaven.
It was a walk to savor. I saw many wondrous things and they were simply splendid. Words alone cannot express or do justice to the view. I stood in awe of the beauty of heaven.
Then, something caught my attention. I saw many angels protesting with raised placards and banners outside the compound of a huge white mansion. I decided to check it out. When I approached the mansion, I noticed that it was really big with 3 Olympic-size pools, an 18-hole resort golf course, a multi-storey private car garage, and an in-door sport complex. However, the main gate to the mansion was closed, bolted shut. Nobody was home.
I then approached one of the protesting angels and asked him what was the gathering about. He told me that they have been retrenched. I was puzzled, worried even. I inquired further and he replied that they used to work under the direction of the Holy Spirit (“HS”). They assisted the HS. But recently, they have been put out of the job because the HS does not convict people of sins anymore. As such, they are now setting up an Occupy-Wall-Street-like protest at the mansion belonging to the one who'd started it all...pastor Prince.
I scratched my head and asked the angel why. He said that it is a directive from JP’s god to be implemented with immediate effect. The dejected angel told me that his department received the memo that fateful day with a severance notice to boot. Most of them then packed up their things and the departure was immediate. In one day, the whole department was vacated. That was that. They were out of a job and mind you, it was a large department.
The angel lamented that it was supposed to come with lifetime employment assurances, that is, each of the angel was assigned to a life below to assist in convicting, guiding and disciplining for the duration of a lifetime. Of course, it was the HS who rightfully did the conviction of sins and they were just assisting Him. Credit duly accorded. But since that dreaded memo, their jobs were taken from them.
Now the department has been drastically downsized. JP’s god had significantly cut down the scope of work and the labor required for it. It is now down to one conviction and that was it. It is the conviction of unbelief - period - and that conviction starts and ends at the altar call.
The angel told me that radical grace was supposed to do the rest, that is, fill in the gap thereafter - until death. I asked the angel how does it work in detail and he told me that they were quite clueless about it. They haven’t the faintest idea on the day-to-day application. With a tinge of sarcasm, the angel reminded me that JP’s god even had a refreshing coinage for it in heaven. It is called NCC 2.0 for “New Covenantal Conviction 2.0”.
I asked him whatever happened to the time of the early Church Fathers, the Catholic theologians, the Protestant leaders, and all the denominational founders before this NCC 2.0 movement? Had they been doing (or receiving) it wrong for the last 2000 years before radical grace in fine leather stormed on stage? I told the angel that the last time I checked, the consensus was that the HS convicted us of all sins throughout our lifetime – be it altar or falter calls. It was not just a one-time-make-or-break deal.
All this time, as I was talking, I noticed that the disillusioned angel was nodding. Occasionally, a faint, forlorn nod, but I could see that he was agreeing with me - if not a little saddened for being reminded of the good old days. The angel then told me that things changed after that Swiss Alps' vacation when pastor Prince received the radical grace edict and the rest is, well, retrenchment history for him and others.
I could tell that the angel was quite reluctant to credit pastor Prince for being the leader who'd caught the message while almost everyone else before him missed or misinterpreted it. I guess he was still licking his sore wound from being retrenched. He then repeated half-heartedly this radical grace mantra as if on certain pre-set clockwork cue: "It's hard to keep sinning against a loving savior."
The angel also reminded me that asking for forgiveness after the altar call is a thing of the past. It is now a cathartic session with JP's god where we confess our sins but stop short of asking for forgiveness. He said that we confess our sins because we know we are already forgiven and not to ask for forgiveness. Mm...it sounded to me like some kind of gratitude overdose or overkill. I then squinted at that because I see a confession without asking for forgiveness as an in-your-face non-sequitur. Imagine telling your wife that you have betrayed her with your secretary (it’s a one-time lapse of judgment) but you're deeply remorseful and repentant about it and then changing the subject to last night dinner without seeking her forgiveness. Mm…I guess with JP’s heaven and god, rules are just different, and strangely so. JP's god must be an all-patient, all-understanding, all-forgiven and unconditionally loving god.
The angel further said that it is now a one-to-one intimate bonding with JP's god quite similar to a TGIF buddy-buddy night-out and not a Lord-I-am-sorry-for-this-and-that session anymore. He was also quick to add that we ought to be convicted of our righteousness in Jesus' completed work at Calvary and that we are free from sins forever.
I then ask him who does the conviction of our righteousness since the conviction of sins is put out of commission for good. I think my persistent probing must have started to piss the angel off as he raised his arms in frustration and hollered: "Well, definitely not us. We’re retrenched remember?"
After a long sigh, the angel continued, this time in more somber tone, "I guess this works out for the best because this way, we won't be so sin-conscious or sin-obsessed." At this point, I was bursting at the seams with these questions: "Wouldn't we swing to the other extreme and become self-righteous or self-absorbed or self-consumed? Wouldn’t we take a loving Savior for a ride, for granted, for self-serving gains?" But I anticipated that the angel would just repeat to me that radical grace mantra: "It's hard to keep sinning against a loving savior."
Furthermore, I think I have annoyed the angel enough. I then paused and thought to myself: So it is now about a conviction by, of and for oneself? A sort of self-therapy session with JP's god as our personal confidante or coach? I guess the angel read my body language and replied with a cautious yes and no. Yes, he said, because the HS does not convict us of sins anymore and it's partly up to us now. And no because we are deemed righteous by virtue of...waitforit..."Radical Grace" - we repeated those two words in sync like clueless cheerleaders. Then, a confounding (uncomfortable) silence ensued. We stared blankly at each other. We had nothing to say.
Wow, this NCC 2.0 is definitely new to me, I thought aloud. It would really take some time for me to get use to it for sure.
I ended my conversation by telling the angel that I will miss the time when the HS convicted me to genuine/sorrowful repentance. I will also miss the time when the HS stirred within my soul to reveal my failings, to unravel my pride, to uncover my lust, to disarm my anger, to check me on my greed, to strip me of my hypocrisy, and to move me to ask for forgiveness.
I told him that there is nothing quite so empowering as being convicted of my sins and then coming humbly before God to repent as I grow in love, gratitude and maturity in my loving Savior. Growth to me as an imperfect earthly vessel is to stumble and fall at times and then to repent from it in progressive spiritual maturity with skinned knees to show and not a one-time-you-are-free-from-all altar-call experience. In other words, repentance at the altar is not an on-and-off switch but a halogen dimmer that works in reverse as we gradually grow in love and in His light. The angel then whispered these words to me, "I am not supposed to say this but I miss those times terribly...at least I still have a job then."
On that note, I bade farewell to the angel and decided to turn back to wait for JP’s god. However, I was curious about a notice hanging at the front gate of JP’s mansion. I walked towards it and it reads: “Gone with god on an overseas book tour. Be back tomorrow.” Sigh…it’s going to be a long wait – I thought to myself. Cheerz.