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Official Joseph Prince Sermon Notes

Strong Encouragement In Times Of Famine

Sunday, 5 July 2020
 

These are notes on the sermon, Strong Encouragement In Times Of Famine, preached by Pastor Joseph Prince on Sunday, 5 July 2020, 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: You are not alone!
  2. Enjoy peace, protection, and family blessings when you know all your sins are forgiven
  3. When you believe right, you will live right
  4. In times of crisis, establish your heart in this truth: you have eternal salvation and forgiveness of sins in Christ
  5. You qualify for God’s promise that you will walk in abundant provision—even in times of famine
  6. Closing Prayer

Introduction: You are not alone!

Even though the church is currently unable to gather together physically, we can still gather together in Spirit. Even if you are alone at home on Sunday watching a sermon being screened, see yourself in the Spirit, partaking of the holy Communion with the body of Christ. This way, church life continues even during times like this.

Sunday is the Lord’s day. It was on a Sunday that Jesus rose from the dead and it was on a Sunday that He walked with His two disciples on the road to Emmaus (see Luke 24:13).

God has stamped His approval on Sunday—the Lord’s Day.

Jesus was resurrected on a Sunday and this is a sign of a new beginning. We are no longer under the old covenant, but we are under the new covenant.

Enjoy peace, protection, and family blessings when you know all your sins are forgiven

Forgiveness of sins is the greatest blessing of all. We need to fully understand and appreciate what it means to be forgiven of all our sins. This is what Christ has accomplished for us at the cross.

Jesus’ payment for the forgiveness of our sins did not just include our sins until we were saved, or until our next sin. Jesus came to accomplish everlasting righteousness. This righteousness is like Jesus Himself—eternal and everlasting. So our righteousness is everlasting.

When we fail, we fail in His righteousness that has been given to us. Being conscious of His righteousness restores us. We see this in the example of Noah in the ark. There might have been times when the waves got violent and knocked Noah off his feet, but every time he fell, he fell in the ark—never outside of it.

Similarly, when we fall, we fall in the righteousness of God in Christ.

Unlike the blood of bulls and goats which could only cover Israel’s sins for a year and could not remove them completely, the blood of Jesus (the true Lamb of God) completely and eternally removed our sins (Heb. 10:1–10). Today, we are fully forgiven.

Don’t treat the blood of Christ like that of bulls and goats.

When we fail to fully understand that Jesus’s blood has eternally and completely paid for our forgiveness, the result is the lack of godly character, the lack of healing and health. When we don’t understand our forgiveness in Christ, we are not able to enjoy the peace of God in our hearts and our bodies.

“who was delivered up because of our offences, and was raised up because of our being declared righteous. Having been declared righteous, then, by faith, we have peace toward God through our Lord Jesus Christ,”
— Romans 4:25–5:1 YLT

was raised up because of our being declared righteous” — Jesus was raised from the dead because God declared us to be righteous. Jesus went to the cross for our sins, and He was raised when we were declared righteous.

Jesus fully identified Himself with us at the cross when He became sin on our behalf, so much so that He could not be raised from the dead unless we were declared righteous.

Because He was raised from the dead, we can have the assurance that all our sins—past, present, and future—were completely put away.

“when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,”
— Hebrews 1:3 NKJV

Jesus as our High Priest is seated at the Father’s right hand (a picture of rest) because He has accomplished redemption for us. The fact that He is seated there, unlike the priests of the Old Testament who could never sit down, shows that His work has been finished—all our sins have been put away.

If we do fall into sin tomorrow, Jesus is not going to stand up and accomplish forgiveness of sins for us again. His one sacrifice for sins was forever, once and for all (see Heb. 10:12).

When we fail to understand this truth, it will affect our shalom (peace and wholeness in every area of our lives).

“who was delivered up because of our offences, and was raised up because of our being declared righteous. Having been declared righteous, then, by faith, we have peace toward God through our Lord Jesus Christ,”
— Romans 4:25–5:1 YLT

we have peace toward God” — “we have” in Greek is “echo” which means “to hold.” This word is in the present tense and in the active voice. When we put all this together, this verse is telling us to actively hold onto the peace which we have with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Every day, declare: “I am the righteousness of God in Christ!”

Hold onto the peace that you have. You are not trying to get it. You have it!

Don’t allow erroneous teachings that say you are not forgiven for some sin in your life to steer you away from being established in righteousness.

What happens when you are established in righteousness?

1. You will not fear and you will be far from oppression.

“In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.”
— Isaiah 54:14 KJV

2. The Lord Himself will teach your children.

“And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.”
— Isaiah 54:13 KJV

When parents are established in righteousness, there is a positive effect on their children. Children are affected by their parents’ disposition and temperament. When parents are established in righteousness and hold onto the peace with God, they are calm. They won’t raise their children in an environment of fear and threats but in an environment of love.

3. You are protected from every weapon that is formed against you.

No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the LORD.”
— Isaiah 54:17 NKJV

No weapon formed against you shall prosper” — No weapon, including the COVID-19 virus, financial famine, or anything else the devil forms against you, shall prosper. The weapon might take shape but it will not prosper against you.

The reason you are protected is that “their righteousness is from Me,” your righteousness is from the Lord. When you are established in righteousness, you will not suffer the same things the world goes through.

When God’s people are established in righteousness, they can grow and produce true holiness and be radiant with moral excellence. Once established in righteousness, believers will also live an abundant life. They will walk in wholeness, health, protection, provision, and shalom in every part of their being.

When you believe right, you will live right

There is a passage in the Bible that causes some people to doubt the peace they have with God. It is Hebrews 6:4–6, which seemingly talks about how we can lose our salvation.

Pastor Prince shares that this passage caused him to doubt his salvation and peace with God when he was a young believer. Once he doubted his salvation, he began to have blasphemous thoughts toward God and lost his sense of closeness, right-standing, and peace with God.

This is why it is so important for us to be established in our right-standing (righteousness) with God, for only then can we come to God freely and enjoy His favor.

Wrong believing will lead to wrong results and wrong living.

Right believing will lead to right living.

Under the new covenant, the righteous shall live by faith (Rom. 1:17). Living by faith, believing you are righteous by faith, will produce godly living—the fruits of the Spirit, godly character, holiness, shalom-peace, which is wholeness in every area of your life.

It is wrong to believe that when you give believers the assurance of salvation, they will go crazy and live a licentious lifestyle. We do not have to worry about people “living wrong.” Once people believe right, they will live right.

If a father shows unconditional love and acceptance toward his children, will that cause his children to become rebellious? Or will it cause them to feel close to their father because they know that even when they fail, they can turn to him?

It is not the assurance of God’s salvation and love that makes people live unholy lifestyles. It is the lack of assurance that produces unholy living.

When the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco was being constructed, there was initially no safety net and the workers were falling to their deaths. This led to poor morale amongst them and delayed the project. After a safety net was installed, fewer workers fell, morale was boosted, and the workers ended up working more efficiently and even superseding their deadlines.

Why? Because the workers had assurance and security because of the net.

A non-threatening environment will cause us to have shalom-peace on the inside which leads us to thrive on the outside. You will live life and accomplish your work with a spirit of love, joy, and peace. This is true holiness.

Similarly, when we want to see holiness and godly character in believers, we need to show them there is a “safety net.” And this “safety net” is given by the Lord Himself—it is the complete and full assurance of their salvation.

In times of crisis, establish your heart in this truth: you have eternal salvation and forgiveness of sins in Christ

The passage Pastor Prince referred to earlier which caused him to doubt his salvation is:

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”
— Hebrews 6:4–6 NKJV

This passage is often taught by people who do not believe in eternal salvation.

Pastor Prince goes on to explain that this passage does not mean that believers can lose their salvation.

Clarifying misconceptions about Hebrews 6:

Before we study this passage from Hebrews 6, it is important to know that the Bible is written for our benefit. Every scripture is God-breathed. However, we also need to understand the context and background of the portion of scripture we are reading or studying.

What is the context and background of Hebrews 6?

The book of Hebrews was written to the Hebrews—the Jews, taking into consideration all their history.

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”
— Heb 1:1–2 ESV

God spoke to our fathers” — This refers to the Jewish fathers in the Old Testament. The nation of Israel is the only group of people that God made a covenant with through Abraham. The Jewish people are the first to receive the fundamental principles of God’s Word, like water baptism, the offering of sacrifices, and other practices that God gave them under the law.

All these principles were given before Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and practices like the offering of sacrifices were meant to point to the final cleansing and forgiveness of sins that Jesus would come to do.

Today, we are living after Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

Context of Hebrews 6:4–6 passage:

  • The book of Hebrews was written and addressed to the Hebrews (Jewish people with their long history and practices). This book was not written to the Gentiles (non-Jews).
  • The book of Hebrews was written for Hebrew believers who lived after Christ came.
  • It was also written to all the Hebrews who professed faith in Christ. Some were born again while some were not.

What does it mean to profess faith in Christ and yet not be a believer?

A person can profess to be a Christian and yet not possess eternal life because deep down inside, they do not truly believe in Jesus and His finished work at the cross.

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”
— Hebrews 6:4–6 NKJV

For it is impossible” — There are those who use this passage to invite believers to receive salvation again if they have lost it, but this does not make sense since this verse clearly says that it is “impossible,” not “improbable,” to be renewed to repentance.

Once a believer is saved and established in righteousness, they will experience this blessings of assurance:

“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.”
— Isaiah 32:17 KJV

Be a believer who is established in righteousness and confident about your relationship with God. When you have this assurance, you will not be self-centered, and you will be able to pray for others. You will serve God with a good spirit and you will be a blessing to others.

In Hebrews 6, the word “impossible” is used twice. Yet most people are more conscious of the negative use of “impossible” in Hebrews 6:4, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened . . . to renew them again to repentance” instead of the positive use in Hebrews 6:18:

“that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.”
— Hebrews 6:18 NKJV

it is impossible for God to lie” — From the context of this verse, we can see that the author is referring to God making a promise and being incapable of breaking it. This is the promise:

“For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.”
— Hebrews 6:13–14 KJV

The promise God made, which He is incapable of breaking, is this: “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.”

When God says He is going to bless you, surely He will bless you!

God not only promised that He would bless you, but He also “swore by Himself” that He would bless you. God swore by Himself because there is no higher name than His own. He did not need to swear it since He cannot lie, but for our sakes, He came down to our level and gave us assurance by swearing it. This is how much He wants us to know that He will keep His Word, He will keep His promise.

Explaining the meanings of keywords in Hebrews 6:4–6:

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”
— Hebrews 6:4–6 NKJV

enlightened” — Just because someone is enlightened does not mean they are saved. For example, if you invite a friend to a gospel meeting, the person will be enlightened to the truth that the only way to God is through Jesus Christ. But this friend can still choose to not receive Christ. If they do not receive Christ, they are enlightened yet not saved.

Judas Iscariot is an example of such a person who was enlightened but was not saved.

tasted the heavenly gift” — the word “taste” is the Greek word “geuomai.” It is the same Greek word used when the soldiers gave Jesus sour wine at the cross, and Jesus tasted it but refused to drink it (see Matt. 27:34). Therefore, we can see that to “taste” does not mean to “drink” or “imbibe.” So if a person comes to church and tastes the heavenly gift of Jesus Christ (e.g. they feel or sense the presence of God), they can still walk away without inviting Jesus into their lives.

partakers of the Holy Spirit” — “partakers” is the Greek word “metachos,” which means “joint partner.” It does not mean you have the Holy Spirit living in you, it just means you are a joint partner in what the Holy Spirit is doing.

We see this in Judas Iscariot who went about casting out demons and healing the sick with the other disciples. But he wasn’t saved. Jesus called him “son of perdition” (see John 17:12 KJV).

It’s not true that only those who were saved could do miracles.

In fact, nobody in the Old Testament and none of the 12 disciples were born again because Jesus had not yet died at the cross for the sins of mankind. Before Jesus died, no one was saved, yet many of them did supernatural things.

They were disciples, followers of Jesus, but they needed to be born again like the Old Testament saints.

The Old Testament saints were only born again after Jesus went to the cross. The Lord appeared to them and preached to them in a place called “Paradise” or “Abraham’s Bosom,” which is where their spirits went after they passed on. There, they believed on Him and they were born again, and they also resurrected bodily with Him (Matt. 27:51–53).

As for Jesus’ 12 disciples, they were only born again after Jesus’ resurrection, when they received the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room.

Today, those of us who are born again have received the Holy Spirit. The prophets and kings in the Old Testament had the Holy Spirit ON them, but today, we have the Holy Spirit IN us.

Today we have the Holy Spirit in us forever (see John 14:16 KJV).

Pastor Prince shares an excerpt by the Greek scholar, Kenneth Wurst, about the word “partakers” and he explains that “partakers” does not mean “possessors” (of the Holy Spirit).

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”
— Hebrews 6:4–6 NKJV

tasted the good word of God” — the word “tasted” here is the same word “geuomai.” These people had a “taste of the good word of God” and “the powers of the age to come” but they never drank of it. This verse describes how after they tasted the things of God, they “fell away”—meaning they turned their backs on Jesus and went back to the temple sacrifices which were still happening.

Therefore, this verse is specific to the Jews of that day. It is describing their situation and context.

Please know that Hebrews 6:4–6 is not referring to the situation wherein you invited your non-believer friend to church and they did not receive Christ. This verse does not mean that there is no repentance for them. In fact, usually, these friends get saved later on.

The context for Hebrews 6 is specific to that time when the temple was still standing and the Jewish people tasted the goodness of God, yet with their eyes open, they turned their backs on Jesus and went back to the temple sacrifices. Today, there are no temple sacrifices for us to partake in.

So this passage, Hebrews 6:4–6, is not for believers and it is not for today.

Jesus Himself said, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (see John 10:28).

We need to be established in the truths of our eternal salvation.

Later on in the chapter, the writer of the book of Hebrews changes his tone.

“But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.”
— Hebrews 6:9 NKJV

beloved” — This is a term used only for God’s people, i.e. believers. This portion of scripture addresses the people who are truly born again.

things concerning you” — When it comes to addressing us believers, God's beloved children, the personal pronoun used is “you.” On the other hand, in Hebrews 6:4–6 which talks about the people who hear God's word, reject it, and fall away, the personal pronoun used is “they.” This goes to show that the earlier verses are not talking about believers, but about that specific group of Jewish people who rejected Jesus for the temple sacrifices during that day and age.

Do not hear things out of context and allow them to rob you of the peace you have with God.

You qualify for God’s promise that you will walk in abundant provision—even in times of famine

“that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.”
— Hebrews 6:18 NKJV

two immutable things” — What are the two “immutable” things? God’s Word and God’s oath.

God did not have to swear because His word is enough. Yet God swore because He chose to come down to our level, almost as if to humble Himself for the sake of our human infirmities, to fully assure us of His promise.

What did God assure us He would do?

“For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.”
— Hebrews 6:13–14 NKJV

If you have been retrenched and are wondering where your supply will come from, know that the job wasn’t your supply. The job wasn't your source. The Lord is your source. Don’t worry about the channels. If the current channel shuts down (like your job), God can open or create other channels.

When the Lord promises that He will surely bless you, you can expect His blessings.

The promise in Hebrews 6:13–14 is actually from the account in Genesis 22 when Abraham offered his son, Isaac, on the altar and God stopped him and offered him a ram instead:

“and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son—“blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.”
— Genesis 22:16–17 NKJV

You do not have to worry about how the supply will come. God is your source and when God says to you, “Surely blessing I will bless you,” it is impossible for God to lie. You will be blessed.

And God will not just bless you, but He will also multiply you—in terms of your children and every area of your life. If you are believing God for a child, this word is for you. Receive it!

You cannot have dominion if you are always sick or lacking. When God blesses you, you are empowered to succeed, to be healthy, to be fruitful, to be a blessing to others, and to live life more abundantly.

Abraham is an example of what happens when God blesses someone who is in covenant with Him (we are in the same covenant with God today). Abraham was never poor, he never lacked, and he lived a long and healthy life.

Because we are in Christ, the Bible calls us the “seed of Abraham.” Receive the blessings, child of God, and remind yourself, “It is impossible for God to lie”!

God swore by Himself. He used all His integrity and character to assure us, “Surely blessing I will bless you. Multiplying I will multiply you.” This applies to us even in the midst of the pandemic we are in.

child of god, Expect preferential treatment from heaven.

Even in your troubles, God will prosper you and bless you.

“There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar. Then the LORD appeared to him and said: “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. “Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father.
— Genesis 26:1–3 NKJV

The oath God promises to perform is the one we saw in Genesis 22:16–17, “Blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.”

It is important for us to know how God kept his oath to Abraham through his son Isaac’s life because we are the seed of Abraham.

“Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him.”
— Genesis 26:12–14 KJV

hundredfold” — This refers to physical blessings.

waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great” — Isaac increased 30-fold (great), 60-fold (grew), and 100-fold (very great).

Issac was blessed to the point where the Philistines, unbelievers who go by what is visible, “envied” him. The blessings were tangible and apparent.

God wants to bless us, His children, to the point where it provokes the world to jealousy in a positive way. When the world sees how much God has blessed us, they will want to know our God. When they see us filled with so much love, joy, and peace, they will want to have what we have. They will wonder why our businesses succeed and why things always work out for our good.

It is impossible for God to lie, even in the midst of the pandemic and financial famine. Like Isaac (Abraham’s seed), we will be blessed. Don’t worry about the future, just know that you are a blessed man and God has promised to over-provide for you!

“Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.”
— Hebrews 6:17–18 NKJV

strong consolation” — God wants so much for us to have strong encouragement and consolation for the days ahead that He swore, made an oath, so that we would have this strong assurance that He will bless and multiply us.

Closing Prayer

"The Lord bless you and your families. The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord protect you and your loved ones throughout this week from the COVID-19 virus, from every infection, from every disease, from every harm, from all the power of the evil one through His Son's blood. The Lord make His face shine on you and be favorable to you.

You have the favor of God everywhere you go. You have peace with God. The Lord lift up His countenance on you and grant to you and your family His shalom-peace, wholeness, and well-being in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen."

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 2020
These sermon notes were taken by volunteers during the service. They are not a verbatim representation of the sermon.


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