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Official Joseph Prince Sermon Notes

Powerful Keys to Unlocking God's Word

Sunday, 4 September 2022
 
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These are notes on the sermon, Powerful Keys to Unlocking God's Word , preached by Pastor Joseph Prince on Sunday, 4 September 2022, at The Star Performing Arts Centre, Singapore. We hope these sermon notes will be an encouragement to you!

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Overview

  1. Introduction: God loves you for who you are
  2. God’s Word brings you the timely answers you need
  3. Key #1: See God’s Word as your food and nourishment
  4. Key #2: Enjoy God’s Word, even if there are parts you do not fully understand
  5. Key #3: Prioritize seeing Jesus in the Word
  6. Key #4: Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in applying the Word in your life
  7. Key #5: See God's love and mercy in every portion of Scripture
  8. Key #6: Read the Old Testament through the lens of grace
  9. Key #7: Turn to Jesus and He will reveal Himself to you in the Word
  10. Salvation Prayer
  11. Closing Prayer
  12. OWN THE WORD (Life Application)

Introduction: God loves you for who you are

God’s heart is for the whole world to know and receive the finished work of Jesus Christ.

This can be seen when Jesus traveled to the northernmost part of Israel, Tyre, where He met a Gentile woman whose daughter was demon-possessed. At first, she pretended to be Jewish and the Lord did not respond to her. This is because the first coming of Jesus was to preach about His salvation to the Israelites (Matt. 15:24).

So why was Jesus in Tyre in the first place? It was for this woman.

When she beckoned Jesus again, she called Him by the name that the Gentiles call Him—“Lord.” This time, she revealed her true identity and Jesus answered her. This shows that all of us, regardless of our race, belong in God’s house.

Jesus does not want us to come to him impersonating someone else. He was the most critical of the Pharisees because they were self-righteous and hypocritical, attempting to hide their true selves under the guise of “holiness.”

Jesus wants us to know that He loves us as we are, not who we try to be in front of Him.

For you to be truly loved, you must allow yourself to be seen for who you really are. Jesus came to save us for who we already are. If you are a sinner, just come to Jesus as a sinner. He is greater than your sins, your bondage, your failures. When the Gentile woman came to Jesus as she was, He commended her for her great faith.

God’s Word brings you the timely answers you need

“For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.”
—Deuteronomy 8:7–9 KJV

The Israelites’ promised land described here is a picture of the Word of God and its fruits that we get to possess. This is our inheritance, and our portion is to dig deep to reap the harvests of the land. Yet we must know while we can sow and reap in the land, God is the one who provides the rain. The Egyptians looked towards the River Nile for provision, not knowing where the river came from. But the Israelites looked to God for the rain. We have to look up to God and trust Him in all things—for His supply and blessing to be upon us.

With all the upheaval and instability happening in the world, we are in a place where we have to trust the Lord to provide for us and protect us. We can no longer put our trust in ourselves or man to control the outcome of the situation. As children of God, we do not have to worry. There were many famines recorded in the Bible and the people of God always prospered during the famines. For example, Isaac sowed in the time of famine and the Lord blessed him with a hundredfold harvest in the year of famine (Gen. 26:12). Isaac is Abraham’s seed—a picture of us who believe in Christ. The Bible records that we who believe in Christ are also Abraham’s seed, and so we are heirs of God (Gal. 3:29).

God is outside of time; He knows what is going to happen in the future. The Bible is always relevant. It is through the Bible that God brings us His “now word”—a timely word in season for our lives that speaks into the situations we are currently facing. Do not think that you’ve exhausted the Bible. Meditate on it and you will experience springs of living water gushing out.

Key #1: See God’s Word as your food and nourishment

“Your words were found, and I ate them,
And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart . . .”
— Jeremiah 15:16 NKJV

The first thing you do with God’s Word is eat it—find nourishment and joy from it. Do not ask, “What must I do?” That is a law mindset.

The reason many people are depressed and upset in the world today is that they are hungry on the inside. Entertainment media and social media do not satisfy. These forms of entertainment can stimulate your mind but they cannot satisfy your hunger. They do not truly feed you with what you are searching for.

When your spirit is hungry, this hunger may manifest itself in your life in many different ways like anger and depression. Perhaps you know that you are not a rebellious person but you keep finding yourself fighting something. You’re hungry. The rebellion is not the problem. It is the hunger from the lack of feeding on God’s Word.

We are to harvest God’s Word. The enemy always attacks the harvest first. There were many times when the Israelites had their harvests reaped by their enemies.

When God first approached Gideon, he was threshing wheat in a wine press to hide it from his enemies (Judg. 6:11). This is a picture of studying the Word of God and guarding your harvest from the enemy. Eventually, God called Gideon out of the wine press to help his people. Those who study the Word are called to help and feed others.

We must recognize that we are hungry for the true bread that is the Word of God. Stop feeding on things that do not satisfy (Isa. 55:2). David’s mighty men declared themselves mighty men when they refused to let the enemy take their harvest. They stood in front of their harvest and defended their lot despite being outnumbered. Stand for your food. Do not allow yourself to be robbed of the time that you spend with the Lord.

There isn’t necessarily a “right time” to spend in the Word. You can do it any time. Whether you’re getting ready in the morning, commuting, or traveling, you can always spend time in the Word. Even if it is a short time, it is still quality time with God.

“Your words were found, and I ate them,
And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart;
For I am called by Your name,
O Lord God of hosts.”
—Jeremiah 15:16 NKJV

Here, we see that there is joy when we feed on God’s Word. This joy gives us health and strength (Neh. 8:10). When Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life,” He meant for us to eat and be fulfilled by Him.

Every day, we leak life through the things we do, watch, or hear. And as each day passes, our flesh inches closer to physical death. But there is good news for us—Jesus came so that we can have life and life more abundantly (John 10:10). In fact, this abundance can be seen in Deuteronomy 8:7–9 KJV, which describes a variety of food in the land (a picture of God’s Word) that is good for taste and also for health.

Key #2: Enjoy God’s Word, even if there are parts you do not fully understand

“Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is across from Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the South, and the plain of the Valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar.”
—Deuteronomy 34:1–3 NKJV

When Moses was standing on the top of Pisgah, he had a bird's-eye view of all of Israel. He could see what was close to him and what was far. This is a picture of how we study the Bible. There are times when we feel like studying it with a microscopic lens, to meditate on a verse, and there are other times we study it with a telescopic lens, to understand the overview.

Sometimes, you may encounter parts of the Bible you do not understand. This is normal even when you read novels. Don’t worry, just enjoy the parts that you do understand. The Word cleanses you when you simply read it. You do not have to understand all of it. While a rattan basket cannot hold all the water poured into it, it becomes clean when the water runs through it.

Just enjoy the Bible and allow God to speak to you through it!

Key #3: Prioritize seeing Jesus in the Word

The first thing you want to see is Jesus in the Scriptures. On the day Jesus rose from the dead, He met with two disciples who were feeling discouraged on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24). As He talked with them, He kept their eyes from seeing who He really was.

“Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!”
—Luke 24:25 NKJV

These are two indictments against believers today. Some are “foolish” referring to those who are ignorant. On the other hand, there are those who know about Jesus but are “slow of heart to believe.”

How do we prevent ourselves from being ignorant and slow to believe? The answer is in what Jesus did for these two disciples.

“And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
— Luke 24:27 NKJV

All Scripture is God-breathed; every word is inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16). Moses is not the author. He is just a man who wrote down the word given by God.

The Word of God is so pristine, accurate, and specific that even a single word or letter in it can be the basis of sound argument. This is how Jesus and the apostle Paul had discussions about the Word (e.g. Matt. 22:23–33, Gal. 3:16).

In a world where it is hard to discern fact from opinion, the Word of God remains as the solid truth. As children of God, we are not called to imitate or isolate ourselves from the world, but we are called to insulate ourselves as we are in the world. We are insulated with the Word—the Lord sanctifies us by His Word, which is truth (John 17:17).

and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
— 2 Timothy 3:15 NKJV

Timothy was taught to learn the Scriptures from a young age by his mother and grandmother. The best thing that parents can do is to share the Word with their children.

salvation” — “Salvation” here is a rich and all-inclusive word. It does not just mean salvation from death, but also salvation from sickness and infirmities, salvation that protects, salvation that gives you wisdom and makes you whole.

“And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
— Luke 24:27 NKJV

the things concerning himself” — The cure for ignorance and slowness to believe is to see Jesus in the Bible.

Jesus revealed Himself in the first five books of Moses—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. We can see Jesus in the sacrificial lamb for each household on the night of the Passover. We can see Jesus in the story of Abraham being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac—a picture of how God the Father was willing to sacrifice Jesus for us. You must know that God loves you so much that He gave up the only Son He had and dearly loved for you.

Sometimes we misplace our priorities when it comes to reading Scripture, and we lose sight of seeing Jesus in the Bible.

Now, you might ask, “Why did the Lord restrain the disciples’ eyes from seeing who He was in person?” This is because it was more important for them to see Jesus in the Scriptures than in person. We all have the same opportunity to see Him today. This is the cure for ignorance and slowness to believe. Your faith will grow when you see Jesus in the Scriptures.

WHEN YOU BEHOLD JESUS IN THE WORD, YOU BECOME LIKE HIM.

When we read the Old Testament, we must prioritize seeing Jesus. This is the most important thing to keep in mind.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
—2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV

When we behold Jesus, we are effortlessly transformed by His Spirit to become like Him. And where do we behold Him? In the Scriptures!

Emmaus” means “hot baths,” which were used to heal skin conditions. This tells us that the two disciples who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus were going through a healing process. When you begin to see Jesus in the Word, you are being healed.

Key #4: Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in applying the Word in your life

All Scripture was written as types and shadows of the love of God for your benefit.

For example,

“You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.”
—Deuteronomy 25:4 NKJV

Back then, the oxen were muzzled because the farmers were afraid that the oxen would eat the grain (thus lessening the profit). But the ox has the right to eat as he works. In fact, a well-fed ox works more. Friend, this verse was not just written for the benefit of oxen. It was written for you!

“Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink the milk of the flock? Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?”
—1 Corinthians 9:7–11 NKJV

The Bible was given for us to dig deep. It was written for our sakes.

Firstly, it was written for us to see Jesus, for when we behold Him in Scripture we are transformed to become like Him.

Secondly, it is for us to understand that all that Jesus has, we have.

The Bible was written for us to find out who Jesus is and what Jesus has. It is like a photo album of God’s beloved Son.

If you find the Bible is like a closed book, it could be because you are not focusing on Jesus. When you see Jesus, you will be satisfied in every area. You are a joint-heir with Christ (Rom. 8:17). When you take Jesus as your new identity, you will see that everything God has given to Jesus, He has given to you as well. Jesus is our righteousness, wisdom, holiness, and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30).

In the Old Testament, God’s wrath and judgment may seem very obvious. But remember, was God concerned about the ox when He wrote Deuteronomy 25:4? No, He wrote that verse because He was concerned about you. This is how we should read the Old Testament. We must see God’s love and God’s care for us.

In 1 Corinthians 9:7–11, Paul is talking about taking care of people who harvest the Word of God. Do not “muzzle” people who are serving the Lord. In fact, in verse 11, he says that we should take care of people who serve the Lord with material provisions as well.

Sometimes, we may feel like the Word of God is too general and does not provide us with practical and specific guidance on what we should do in our situation (e.g. Ephesians 5:22 tells husbands to love their wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her—but how to love one’s wife specifically?). This is because God wants to give us room to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Each one of us is made uniquely, and God wants to have His own personal relationship with us.

In Paul’s letters, he always begins with positional truths that expound on the wealth of the believer (our identity in Christ), and only then the walk of the believer, then the warfare of the believer. You cannot fight the good fight of faith without understanding who you are as a believer.

Wealth, walk, and warfare are indicatives. On the other hand, imperatives (instructions on what to do) are often very general in the Bible because God leaves room for the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us in daily life—in our relationships, in our financial situation, in our marriage, in our parenting, in our work.

“But concerning brotherly love, you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;”
—1 Thessalonians 4:9 NKJV

Key #5: See God's love and mercy in every portion of Scripture

When you read the Old Testament, be conscious of the love of God in the verses. When you interpret the law, do so in the light of God’s love.

“To Him who alone does great wonders,
For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who by wisdom made the heavens,
For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who laid out the earth above the waters,
For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who made great lights,
For His mercy endures forever—”
—Psalm 136:4–7 NKJV

In Psalm 136, every verse ends with “for His mercy endures forever.” In verses one through seven, it is easy for us to understand why “His mercy endures forever” when we think of all of God’s great works.

Yet in the following verses, it may be less obvious how His mercy can be seen:

“To Him who divided the Red Sea in two,
For His mercy endures forever;
And made Israel pass through the midst of it,
For His mercy endures forever;
But overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea,
For His mercy endures forever;”
—Psalm 136:13–15 NKJV

Even in judgment, His mercy endures forever. There was mercy even in the judgment of Pharaoh and his army. God gave Pharaoh many chances, but Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened toward God. He could have released God’s people but he refused to let them go.

In every judgment, there is mercy. There is good news for God’s people. We are on the side of the people God divided the Red Sea for, the people whom He protected from Pharaoh.

When Peter told Jesus to not go to the cross, we always assumed that what followed was Jesus simply rebuking him. But if we look carefully at the gospel of Mark, we will see that before Jesus responded to Peter, He looked at all His disciples and then rebuked Peter, as if to say, “If I do not go to the cross, then what about everyone else?” (Mark 8:31–33). There was love in the eyes of Jesus.

Even when Peter denied Jesus later on, Jesus turned around to look at Peter and Peter wept (Luke 22:54–62). It was a look of love and forgiveness. The beautiful thing is that Jesus had prophesied Peter’s victory and restoration before his fall. And that glance from Jesus after Peter denied Him was as if to say, “Peter, I forgive you and I still love you.”

Key #6: Read the Old Testament through the lens of grace

When we interpret the Word of God, it is crucial that we differentiate law from grace.

David was punished by God because of his sin because he was under the law. We cannot scare people into not committing sin. The more fearful people are, the more they will sin.

When we read the Old Testament, we must not forget about the gospel—the unveiling of the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).

The law was given to show that we cannot attain salvation through our own efforts. In the Old Testament, God gave His people a way out through sin offerings, which were a picture of Jesus on the cross. And God blessed them for as long as they continued to burn sin offerings. When they stopped their sin offerings, God took away His hand of blessing because their sins were not paid for anymore.

Today, we are no longer under the law. We are under grace and we would be hypocrites if we do not own our new identity in Christ. Jesus took our place on the cross so that we can take His place in heaven. When we read the Old Testament, we must be mindful that Jesus has fulfilled all the requirements of the law for us.

“who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.”
—2 Corinthians 3:6–9 NKJV

the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” — Some people interpret this portion to mean that we should not just read the Bible like letters on a page, but we must read it with the Spirit for it to come alive. However, the context of this verse makes it clear that “the letter” refers to the Ten Commandments that produce death, and “the Spirit” refers to the finished work of Jesus that gives life.

The law focuses on us doing, while grace focuses on us receiving. We are to receive the finished work and be transformed from the inside out.

the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones” — Some may argue that the law that Paul was referring to was just the ceremonial law. But from this portion, it is clear that Paul was referring to the Ten Commandments because only the Ten Commandments were written and engraved on stones.

the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away” — The law, the ministry of death, had glory to it but it was fading away so much so that Moses had to put a veil on his face when he came down from Mount Sinai because he did not want the people to see the glory fading.

If there was glory when God demanded righteousness from spiritually-bankrupt people, how much more glory is there under grace, where God supplies the gift of righteousness to His people? Those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness will reign in life (Rom. 5:17). The devil attacks the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness because he knows that we will start to reign in life when we understand that these are the biggest takeaways from the Bible.

the ministry of condemnation” — This refers to when you feel condemned or when people use the law to condemn you. Today, you are no longer under the ministry of condemnation. God does not demand righteousness from you. Jesus’ finished work has made you the righteousness of God. Under the law, David had to plead with God to never leave him (Ps. 51:11). Under grace, God will never leave you (Heb. 13:5).

Key #7: Turn to Jesus and He will reveal Himself to you in the Word

“unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
— 2 Corinthians 3:13–18 NKJV

even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart” — When the veil of the law remains, when we do not believe in the finished work of Jesus, we will only see judgment and loss in the Old Testament.

when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” — But when we look to Jesus, the veil is removed and we get to see God’s grace and love.

Back then, the Israelites beheld the law by reading the Old Testament. Today, we behold Jesus by reading the Old and New Testaments through the lens of God’s grace.

we all” — This is all-inclusive. Every one of us, regardless of our age, race, abilities, and knowledge, can behold Jesus.

beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord” — When we look into God’s Word to see the glory of Jesus, it is like looking into a mirror. We are not looking for imperatives or instructions on what to do, but we are looking for Jesus. In Him, we find ourselves. This identity we have in Him is the wealth of the believer that transforms us from glory to glory.

transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” — We are renewed and restored not by our own determination or efforts, but by the Spirit. Our part is to open the Bible to feed on His Word. God’s part is to unveil and transform.

when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” — When we read the Word, we only need to turn to Jesus and He will unveil Himself to us in the Word. Just like Solomon did, we can ask God to give us seeing eyes and a hearing heart to behold Him in the Word.

Salvation Prayer

“Heavenly Father, I thank You for your love for me. Thank You for sending Jesus Christ to die in my place for me. He became my sin on the cross that I might become the righteousness of God in Him. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. Thank You for making me the righteousness of God when you raised Jesus from the dead. Thank You. Father, that He is alive and that I'll get to see Him face to face one day. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Closing Prayer

“Now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, His favor that endures forever, the love of God, and the sweet communion of the Holy Spirit be with you now and throughout this week in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.”

OWN THE WORD (Life Application)

Is there a challenge you’ve been facing recently? Perhaps there’s been some conflict with a loved one, a bad health report, or a difficult financial situation. Your answer can be found in simply opening your Bible and beholding Jesus in the Word.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
—2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV

The more you behold Jesus in the Word, the more you become like Him. That means that whatever you see Jesus having, you also receive! Just as you see Jesus having favor with God and man, so do you in your relationships. Just as you see Jesus always healthy and strong, so are you. Just as you see Jesus always being supplied and provided for by the Father, so are you!

This transformation you will see in yourself and your life is practical and tangible, and it is not by your own effort but by the power of the Holy Spirit. Your part is to simply focus on seeing Jesus more and more.

So take time this week to read the Bible and begin to see Jesus. Before you start, ask Him to open your eyes and give you a hearing heart to see Him in the Word. Begin to experience the abundant life our Lord Jesus paid for you to enjoy as you behold Him!

We hope these sermon notes blessed you! If they did, we encourage you to get the sermon and allow the Lord to speak to you personally as you watch or listen to it.

© Copyright JosephPrince.com 2022
These sermon notes were taken by volunteers during the service. They are not a verbatim representation of the sermon.


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