“Unmerited Favor” by Joseph Prince

Have you ever noticed how the wisdom of the world and the old covenant sound much alike? If you do good, you get good. You reap what you sow. What goes around, comes around. Both perspectives advocate self-effort. Both preach self-dependence and reward based on merit. In contrast, the gospel of grace says it’s all about Jesus. Grace says it’s his effort, his merit and his righteousness that matters. There’s no mixing these two perspectives – it’s his effort or mine, his merit or mine.

In his 2007 best-seller Destined to Reign, Joseph Prince drew a clear line between the gospel of grace and the unholy concoction of grace and law that has been preached since the time of the Galatians. In his recent book entitled Unmerited Favor, Joseph Prince builds on that grace foundation by unpackaging the consequences of living self-dependent or Jesus-dependent lives. Prince’s basic idea is that if trust Jesus for salvation, we ought to trust him for everything else too. What stops the unmerited favor of God in our lives? According to Prince, the greatest obstacle is our own self-reliance:

“There are some believers who may not articulate it, but in their hearts they believe that without Jesus they can still succeed. By believing and acting on this, they fall from the high place of God’s grace (his unmerited favor) back into the law, back into trying to merit and deserve success by their own efforts.” (p.24)

This is both astonishing and obviously true.

Why is it that we trust Jesus for our salvation, we may even trust him for our healing, but we don’t trust him for our success? We work like part-time believers. We tell ourselves we’re doing it in his name and for his glory, but our work ethic is 100% old covenant thinking. Deep down we believe that success will only come if we make sacrifices or sow thousands of hours. Sure, we thank Jesus for the cross, but his work actually has no bearing on our work. We strive and struggle just like everyone else, ignoring the supernatural advantages that are ours in Christ.

Jesus didn’t just die to set us free from the curse of the law. He also died that we might inherit the blessings of Abraham. As Prince says,

“In Christ, you are an heir of the world – its goods, its endowments, its riches, its advantages and its pleasures. This is the promise that God made to Abraham and his seed. Don’t apologize for it. It is your inheritance in Christ!” (p.230)

Now right there some of you might switch off thinking that Prince is preaching a “health and wealth” gospel. He isn’t. Sure, he does have a fair bit to say about prosperity, but that is not his main message. (Lest you be distracted, I have posted elsewhere my summary of Joseph Prince’s teachings on prosperity and success.) What he is preaching in Unmerited Favor is complete and total dependence on Jesus for everything.

We Christians – and especially pastors – tend to get so caught up doing the Lord’s work that we lose focus and burn out. We know we shouldn’t, yet we do it anyway. According to Prince, we do this out of ignorance:

“Many good, well-meaning and sincere believers today are defeated by their lack of knowledge of the new covenant and all the benefits that Jesus has purchased for them at the cross… It is the lack of knowledge of what Jesus has accomplished at the cross that has robbed many believers of enjoying these good gifts and benefits.” (p.95)

I know from personal experience what it is to preach Mary while acting like Martha. Probably every pastor does. Just look at our schedules! If this is you, if you are busy to the point of distraction, then you definitely need to read Unmerited Favor. In it Prince gives the most compelling reason I have read for being more like Mary than Martha.

Jesus said, “one thing is needful” and that is to sit at his feet and behold him. For many of us – and particularly pastors – sometimes the hardest thing to do is to sit down. That looks too much like resting and how can we rest when there’s work to be done? So we sit for just a minute, then jump right back up into old covenant mentality and human performance.

A couple of years ago God spoke very clearly to me. He told me that he wanted me to “do nothing.” It was the hardest word I have ever received. Tell me to part the Red Sea and I’ll give it a go. Tell me to walk on the water and I’ll do it or drown trying. But tell me to do nothing at all except rest, and I mean long-term rest, living in that rest, remaining in that rest – well that’s ve-ry hard indeed! It does not come naturally.

But I am learning that when we make him our priority, when we have no agenda other than Jesus alone, the whole world changes around you. Problems bow down. Inspiration comes. You find yourself doing the right thing at the right time and, yes, you have restful increase instead of stressful increase (because it’s based on his merit, not yours).

If I were to sum up Unmerited Favor in two words, they would be stop trying, as in, stop trying to succeed in your own strength, stop trying to earn God’s favor, stop trying to make it happen, stop striving, stop struggling, and trust him for everything. No seriously, you really, actually need to stop because for as long as you continue to trust in your self-effort, you’re operating outside of grace and cursing your work. The sooner you stop, the better everything will be.

Or if I were to sum up Unmerited Favor in just one word, it would be receive. You can’t receive while you’re trying to make it happen. Grace doesn’t share the stage with human effort. If you want to enjoy the unmerited favor of God in your life, stop trying and just receive.

Prince is certainly not calling us to live idle, passive lives. Our performance stills matters. But effective performance is grounded on the revelation that we have been made righteous by faith. Right living follows right believing. I had hoped that he would say more about how we work under grace, but perhaps that’s for the next book.

You can read Unmerited Favor without first having read Destined to Reign, but I recommend you read both in the order they were written. If Destined to Reign is all about what Jesus had set you free from, then Unmerited Favor is what he has set you free into. In Destined to Reign Prince comes across as an authoritative preacher of the gospel. In Unmerited Favor he is more the tender pastor. Both books are outstanding.
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Related posts:
– “Destined to Reign” by Joseph Prince
– Top 12 blessings in the New Covenant
– Two religions: works and blood

34 Comments on “Unmerited Favor” by Joseph Prince

  1. I agree 100 percent! I’ve read both books and was greatly encouraged by them. I also refer back to the again and again as I fight the good fight of faith. What an upside down Kingdom we are now apart of. Die to live, rest to produce, receive free forgiveness/then be empowered to forgive freely….

    Grace to you all!
    Kyle Kramer

  2. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for posting this. I read Destined to Reign about 2 years ago, thought it was so good that my copy must have been lent out for the next 12 months and my wife and I ordered abour 4 more copies to give to people (including our pastor at that point in time).
    I am about half-way through Unmerited Favour and I am finding that it brilliantly and powerfully builds on the foundations built in his first book. I just cannot get enough of this type of teaching, every day I need to be consumed with it as it is so easy to slip back into an old covenant mindset and get back on the performance tredmill.

    I haven’t read your post on the prosperity and success teaching from JP (I will shortly) but I have met and continue to meet believers who knock his teaching and try and turn the good news into bad news (why?!). I think his message is just one that magnify’s the extent of the finished work of the cross and promotes a reckless trust and faith in what Jesus has already done for us.

    I wonder what would happpen if the church stopped trying to acheive and started to receive…?

    Massive blessings.
    Philip Smith

    • Hi Philip,
      Thanks for writing and good to hear from you. I just checked out your cool website. You have a testimony very similar to my friend Cornel Marais. God got his attention by healing his leg too. Perhaps you guys should form a club!
      God bless,
      Paul

  3. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for checking out the site, I love it that so many around the world are having their eyes opened to the scandalous reality and goodness of the Gospel! Cornel and I have just got in touch recently so we will def be staying connected!

    Go well!

    Blessings.
    Philip.

  4. Only recently have I begun awakening to this truth Paul: the truth of Christ in me; of letting Him live through me. I rest and He works. This post you’ve written is profoundly true, well stated and a powerful articulation of God’s desire to show Himself strong through believers.

    Thank you for your obedience in getting these messages out, they are life changing!

    In Grace, Andre van der Merwe
    http://www.NewCovenantGrace.com

  5. Hi Pastor! Is there any “contact form” on this website if we have questions to ask that are not related to the current post? Like, for example, if we needed some illumination on seeing Jesus in the Book of Leviticus…

    • Hi Joshen,
      (1) Contact details can be found on the About page.
      (2) I have a long list of readers’ questions that I’m working through. Regarding Jesus being revealed in Leviticus, I recommend reading chapter 14 of Joseph Prince’s book Destined to Reign.

  6. Are you out of your mind. He says, “Believers … that without Jesus they can succeed.” How is this possible? You cannot be a believer without Jesus. His words are like a silver tongue devil. You are blind and follow a blind guide. You are all destine for fire if you follow this man and his demon teaching. You sound like the person who visited the Galatian church. I encourage you to turn away from such teaching.

    • Chris, your words remind me of what others have said to Jesus (Mk 3:21) and Paul (Acts 26:24). It seems the claim of insanity is often made of grace preachers. I have no defense. The good news of God’s grace is beyond comprehension. If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. However, if you read the quote that offended you again, you will see that Joseph Prince is not saying what you think he is saying.

  7. When I started reading and listening to Andrew Wommack I realised that there a lot of things he teaches that Joseph Prince also emphasise. Andrew Wommack is more of old school and very articulate in the scriptures. Does Andrew has any influece on Joseph Prince when it comes to the message of grace. I’m not trying to compare them in anyway because I know God has packaged them in a different way to reach different audience for His glory. Thank God for these two guys

    • I was (am) wondering also concerning the same thing, the more I listen to Pastor Prince the more I see Andrew in his teachings, I am led to believe that Andrew has influenced Joseph…

  8. thank you, that’s all i wanted to say. I don’t know how I found your website, but i believe God spoke to me today through what you wrote and summed. God bless you.

  9. This book is the first book I read from Joseph Prince and I still remember sitting in a coffee shop sobbing realizing the goodness of God in my life and the awesome love of Jesus for me. Truly His grace is awesome and true change is effortless.

  10. I remember sitting in a hotel lobby in Yangon (Myanmar) listening to a message by Joseph and then I bust into tears realising I had so perverted the Gospel of God. It suddenly hit me that so much of my teaching and preaching was law driven.

    I rejoiced daily in the Leonard Ravenhills and David Wilkersons and ‘sinners in the hands of an angry God’ theology of revivalism. Now I see so different. I packed away those books and rejoice in a new found glory and grace I have never seen before. I start to love people in ways I never thought possible.

    For those who have had scores of people weeping over sin at the altar night after night it may seem such a hard thing to move away from. It was not easy, but religious flesh is just that – religious flesh – and it is easy to preach guilt and condemnation. NO MORE thank God. I have found that ‘sinners are in the hands of a loving and merciful Saviour’!

  11. THIS REALITY HAS TURNED ME FROM SHADOW TO THE REAL THING.IM NT IN THE LESSER LIGHT ANYMORE BUT GLOWING IN THE GREATER LIGHT(GEN 1:16.I WAS BLIND BUT NOW I SEE.I WAS DEAF TO THE GOSPEL OF GRACE BUT NOW I CAN HEAR.I WAS LOST IN THE LAW BUT NOW IM FOUND IN THE GRACE.OH MY GOD I LOVE JESUS.THANK GOD FOR YOUR LIFE PASTOR J.PRINCE I WISH I COULD JUST GET ONE OF YOUR COPIES,MY PASTORS REALY NEED THAT.IM FROM A VILAGE AT POLOKWANE IN SOUTH AFRICA IT IS VERY DIFICULT TO GE THE COPIES.I REALY NEED THEM BUT I KNOW BY HIS GRACE I RECEIVE.I LOVE PASTOR THANKS A LOT.

    • m from south africa in kzn,was given the book by my pastor, unmarited favor, first few chapters i found extreamly interesting however as i came to the chapters 9 and 10 i have to say i got a little confused, especialy about confesssion of sins. i am grateful for my pastor and father because we are in the process of unveiling alot of concepts i dd not understand, stil a bit lost but i am gettn der

  12. Kelvin dennis,malaysia // February 10, 2012 at 2:02 am // Reply

    Dear friend,i want to thanks you so much for this teaching.grace teaching really has set me from the bondage of law keeping i had for a long tme.Ow.. How peace n rest i feel.. Jesus want us to rest n put trust in Him alone..

  13. Dear Paul,
    I understand that we have received salvation as a free gift of God, not by works. Is the gospel asking me to ditch the concept of sowing and reaping? We see Christians regularly making poor choices, cheating on their spouses and wrecking their homes, backstabbing, betraying, splitting churches. Surely they lose and inheritance when they do that? You have to really believe that the emperor WAS wearing clothes(assuming you know that fairytale) if you can’t see that sowing and reaping (besides all the new testament references to it) is a principle of life.
    I sincerely desire to know the truth, and to lead people into freedom, but stumble over this concept which makes me think I haven’t ‘gotten’ the full idea of grace yet. Any perspective?
    Regards,
    Jennifer

    • Jennifer,
      Sowing and reaping are very much a fact of life. Paul warned the Galatians, if you sow to the flesh you will reap destruction (Gal 6:8). This is how the world operates. But it’s not how grace operates. Under grace, we reap what Jesus has sown. We benefit from His work. We don’t work for salvation; we receive it through grace by faith.

      But does that mean we are excluded from the principle of sowing and reaping in every day life? Does that mean I can cheat on my wife, avoid paying taxes, and drive through red traffic lights with no consequences? Of course not. Do these things and you will end up lonely, in jail, or in the morgue. You will literally destroy yourself through sin. But that doesn’t undo the work of the cross. Just as you are not qualified by your righteous acts, you are not disqualified by your unrighteous acts. You stand on Jesus alone.

      As I have said in this post, those who are in the spirit, need to walk in the spirit and not after the flesh. The Galatians were classic examples. They were born again believers who acted carnally. They were sowing (circumcision in their case) in the expectation of reaping. They were muddled.

      • Paul, what you are saying is that the bible is wrong, that grace supersedes scriptural truth. I hope Jennifer sees through bad explanation. This concept that now we are saved we don’t have to grow is rubbish. Doesn’t the word say, :we are to grow up into him in all things” and “desire the sincere milk of the word where by you may grow” and “to be led of the spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh”. This bad teaching you are promoting is only going to lead to gross ungodliness.

  14. “Now right there some of you might switch off thinking that Prince is preaching a “health and wealth” gospel. He isn’t. Sure, he does have a fair bit to say about prosperity, but that is not his main message. (Lest you be distracted, I have posted elsewhere my summary of Joseph Prince’s teachings on prosperity and success.) What he is preaching in Unmerited Favor is complete and total dependence on Jesus for everything.”
    This confused me a bit. Paul, I thought from the many times that I’ve been on your blog, that you believed in healing and prosperity. Am I wrong? I mean, Jesus and Paul clearly believed n supernatural healing and provision. Not trying to be a jerk, just confused.

    • Health, yes! Prosperity, yes! These are blessings Jesus paid for. It is not God’s will for you to be sick or poor – these all stem from the curse. (There was no sickness or poverty in the world God gave us.) But “the health and wealth gospel” is something else altogether. It is the trivial and distorted message that Jesus suffered and died so that you could name and claim your BMW. Such a message promotes idolatry. It distracts from Jesus, demeans the cross, and reduces the inexhaustible treasures of grace to trinkets.

  15. Raymond Chike // March 28, 2013 at 4:41 am // Reply

    It’s really a good news.

  16. Samuel Asante Antwi // April 11, 2013 at 8:06 am // Reply

    I first read a book ‘the naked gospel’ by Andrew Farley and he made mention about seperating the old covenant from the new covenant. At the same time i came across Andrew Wommacks messages on grace and faith and they were so liberating. i downloaded several of Andrews messages and listened to him continuosly for about 3months and i began talking to understand how truly God loves me.
    Then around November 2012, a friend i was sharing Andrews messages with asked me if i have heard about pastor Joseph Prince. I said no. He said lets watch him now on TBN. It was like listening to Andrew Wommack. The only difference is that Pastor Joseph Prince makes the Hebrew or the Greek understanding comes alive. I love to listen to these 2 pastor and i see myself growing everyday in the Lord.
    God bless You pastors Andrew Wommack and Pastor Joseph Prince.

  17. Deborah Ardinger // September 30, 2013 at 1:16 pm // Reply

    To say our christian walk is effortless? The Bible says strive to enter and fight the good fight of faith. Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers us out of them all but suffering is very much still in our vocabulary. Repentence is still needed. We will always fight against the flesh. This walk is made of hills and valleys, no one is on the mountain top all the time. If so where does the victory come in? We are to deny ourselves and pick up our cross and crosses are emotionally hard to bear. I think Joseph Prince has a good insight on God’s grace but he has a mixture of truth and error. Everyone would like the easy road but the way of least resistance is most always the way of the flesh. Get into the word of God and let it dwell richly in you then you will not be deceived. Also keep on living and you will see theres more to this thing.

  18. Hi Paul🙂 Hope you read The Power of Right Believing soon! You are a blessing! The Lord blesses you and keeps you at all time!!😀

  19. Thanks Paul, here from SA.

    The word is true, and the Gospel of Grace makes you run back every time for more.
    Jesus is truly the well spring of life, and the grace of God leads one to that very well spring
    that satisfy my thirst.

    If I could give a word of encouragement, it is God Himself that is restoring the true gospel of Grace, and as Pual has received it and preached it, just so we all can teach and preach the good news. Any one reading this might be thinking, well that’s just obvious. What I am trying to impart is that God makes us sufficient teachers of the new covenant. I have almost every bit of teaching of Joseph Prince, and God reveals to him amazing truths, but anyone receiving grace are learning to lean on Jesus breast and rest and be intimate with Jesus, and so He reveals His hart to them. Again, this might sound blatend obvious, but lets not be afraid to teach from true and good teaching we are receiving through other pastors of grace such as Joseph Prince and others. In my surrounding churches I find that pastors do not teach the unadulterated full glory of the gospel of grace as Pual did, and not because they have not received it, but because
    they have heard other pastors such as pastor Joseph preaching it. They have then this idea they have to put there own signature on there teaching, not wanting to copy other preachers. But the teaching of the gospel of grace never changes and pastor Prince is ‘copying’ Pual, and truthfully so, because there is no other gospel or illustration we can use other than Gods word.

    I hope that pastors and teachers will no longer teach according to there own understanding
    and own ‘signature’ preaching, but that they will fall right into the arms of grace and teach nothing else but Jesus. EVEN IF IT MEANS COPYING PAUL OR JOSEPH PRINCE EVERY WORD.

    Lian

  20. One of Joseph Prince’s followers was at my work place. People at work talk negatively about his inability to admit when he is wrong about something. He does not believe in confessing his wrongdoings (especially to others) because he is already righteous, a son of God and blessed. I’ve NEVER seen him apologise sincerely to anyone for harm done.
    Surely there should be a balance here somewhere? I find it hard to be around the guy myself.

    He does not seem to be the only one since I’ve been introduced to more people from New Creation Church and many of them seem to have the same problem. I’ve noticed these folk have a good confidence in the teaching of God’s love for them but I can’t helping feeling that they believe good deeds done for others and christian suffering is part of legalism and something to be avoided.

    In conclusion I am not impressed.

    Show me the evidence – James 3:13

    • I’m a Jp follower and I apologize to each and every one anytime I do something wrong. Saying sorry is OK. The matter is believing God forgave you once for all. All u do is believe in his work and receive his forgiveness

    • Hi John,

      Sorry to hear about your bad experiences with some NCC members.

      I’m from NCC and I don’t have a problem with apologizing to others for my mistakes. NCC is quite a big church with a size able congregation. There are new and old believers. Everyone is learning something more about Jesus everyday and at different stages of our walk. So I tend to think your case maybe isolated.

      Shalom my friend.

    • Hi John,
      Thanks for sharing your concern.

      I, for one, don’t follow JP. But have read and heard enough to know that those qualities would be an inaccurate view of the ministry; while they could be an accurate view of this individual.

      The problem is; this will always be a problem. Are you affiliated with: a sport team? A church? A political party? Etc. If you are; surely there are some among that group who don’t represent the leadership nor most of the affiliates.

      That said, if you are looking at individuals to see if the Gospel is true. You are looking in the wrong place. If you look to man or Yourself to prove the Gospel to be true; you will be let down. Look to Christ; there the Word is true!
      I do appreciate your discernment that the Gospel is one of Kindness and love and I am encouraged that, if you are a believer you must be a kind and loving person as well.

  21. Joseph Prince has some true principles but also yeast and poison. Joseph’s teaching about grace as far as a gift is good. False teaching has kept people in a performance /acceptance state and denied many of close personal relationship with God through Jesus. I won’t read his books because he doesn’t have a high regard for God’s word. His ‘once saved always saved” doctrine is repeatedly proved wrong by scripture as in Hebrews and II Timothy as well as many other places in scripture. The statement that I’ve been told he makes, that “out sins are forgiven past, present and future” is only true if we acknowledge them before God in repentance. I’ve heard people say that God can’t even see us sin after we are saved! If so, then why would he discipline if he can’t see our wrong. “FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND
    HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”

    • Jack Swager,

      Many of us can tell you that before we understood grace, we were like you.

      Your questions betrays your understanding of grace. You really need to read extensively for yourself what this site or the grace people are talking about. This is a good site to help you along. Picking on quotes and having a critical attitude will not get you anywhere.

      Shalom my friend.

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