#gospelpartner #josephprince #2022sermon Powerful Keys To Unlocking God's Word (Full Sermon) | Joseph Prince | Gospel Partner Episode
Introduction: God loves you for who you are
To be truly loved, you must allow yourself to be seen for who you really are. Jesus knows you inside out and He came to save you just as 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. 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, and commended her for her great faith.
- 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.
- If you are a sinner, just come to Jesus as a sinner. He is greater than your sins, your bondage, your failures.
The Bible brings you the timely answers you need
God, who is outside of time, is able to use His Word to speak to you in every season and situation
Deut. 8:7–9, Gen. 26:12, Gal. 3:29
- “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.
- 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. As children of God, we do not have to worry.
- In the Bible, the people of God always prospered during 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 a timely word 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.
Your first priority is to be nourished by God's Word
God’s Word is meant for you to find nourishment and joy in. It is the only thing that can satisfy the hunger in your spirit.
Jer. 15:16, Judg. 6:11, Isa. 55:2, Neh. 8:10, Deut. 8:7–9
- “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.
- Entertainment media and social media 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. The anger and depression 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.
- 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. 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 at any time of the day. 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
- 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.
- 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.
God's Word has a cleansing effect
Just enjoy the parts of the Bible that you do understand and allow God to speak to you through them!
- “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.
- The Word cleanses you when you simply read it. You do not have to understand all of it.
Key #1: Prioritize seeing Jesus
Experience effortless transformation from the inside out when you behold Jesus in every portion of Scripture.
Luke 24:25, 27, John 17:17, 2 Tim. 3:15, Luke 14:27, 2 Cor. 3:18
- The Road to Emmaus: On the day Jesus rose from the dead, He met with two disciples who were feeling discouraged on the road to Emmaus. 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.”
- “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 from 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
- The best thing that parents can do is to share the Word with their children.
- “salvation” — “Salvation” 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.
- “the things concerning himself” (Luke 14:27) — 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.
- Sometimes we misplace our priorities when it comes to reading Scripture, and we lose sight of seeing Jesus in the Bible.
- The Lord restrained the disciples’ eyes from seeing who He was in person 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.
- “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 in the Scriptures, we are effortlessly transformed by His Spirit to become like Him.
“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 #2: Read the Old Testament through the lens of His grace
All Scripture was written as types and shadows that depict Jesus. When we see who Jesus is and what He has, we will see the benefits we have in Him.
Deut. 25:4, 1 Cor. 9:7–11; 1:30, Rom. 8:17
- “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. This verse was not just written for the benefit of oxen but for you!
- “. . . 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.
- 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.
Key #3: Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you
God has given you the Holy Spirit who teaches and guides you in your daily life.
1 Thess. 4:9
- 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.
- 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 first 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. Each one of us is made uniquely, and God wants to have His own personal relationship with us.
- “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 #4: In every judgment, see His mercy
When you read about the law or events that happened in the Old Testament, do so in the light of God’s love. Be mindful that Jesus has fulfilled all the requirements of the law for you.
Ps. 136:4–7, Ps. 136:13–15, Mark 8:31–33, Luke 22:54–62, 2 Cor. 3:6–9, Rom. 5:17, Ps. 51:11, Heb. 13:5
- In Psalm 136:4–7, it is easy for us to understand why “His mercy endures forever” when we think of all of God’s great works. But 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
- In every judgment, there is mercy. 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. But as 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.”
- When we interpret the Word of God, it is crucial that we differentiate law from grace. For example, David was punished by God for his sin because he was under the law.
- The law was given to show that we cannot attain salvation through our own efforts.
- 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.
- “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” — The context of this verse makes it clear that “the letter” refers to the Ten Commandments that produces 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 Paul was referring to 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).
Focus on beholding and let Him transform you
Your part is simply to open the Bible and feed on God’s Word. God will unveil Jesus and transform you from glory to glory.
2 Cor. 3:13–18
- “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 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. 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.
- “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.