These are notes on the sermon, How To Be Strong In Grace, preached by Pastor Joseph Prince on Sunday, 22 May 2022, at The Star Performing Arts Centre, Singapore. We hope these sermon notes will be an encouragement to you!
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Pastor Prince begins the service by sharing the benefits of studying God’s Word.
We need to spend quiet time with the Lord during the week instead of only listening to God’s Word from Sunday to Sunday. God’s Word has answers to questions we might have about the situations we are going through right now.
We are to be students of God’s grace. We are beginning to see many signs of the end times (e.g. plagues, wars, and rumors of war) which indicate that the Lord is returning soon. As we approach the end times, it is even more important for us to continue to learn about God’s ways and feed our spirit with teachings on the new covenant.
The best way to study the Bible is through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. God can speak to us and invigorate us through His Word. Our minds come to life and our bodies become healthy and energetic because His Word is life to those who find it and health to all our flesh (Prov. 4:20–22)! Whichever stage of life we are at, we can ask the Lord to speak to us and learn from His Word.
God wants His people to be knowledgeable because He knows how destructive it can be to have a lack of knowledge (Hos. 4:6). God’s Word reveals to us the true nature of things, and His solutions and wisdom to what we are going through.
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:”
— Matthew 28:19 KJV
“teach all nations” — In many translations of this verse, the phrase “make disciples of all nations” is used. The Greek and Hebrew translations of the word “disciple” are “mathētēs” and “talmid” respectively, which refer to teach. This means that a disciple is simply someone who is learning. To make disciples is to make students of God’s grace!
In this sermon, Pastor Prince addresses the misconceptions that some people have about being a disciple. Unfortunately, some have portrayed being a disciple as superior to being a Christian, as if being a Christian is just an entry point or baseline. They believe that being a Christian alone is not enough and that to be a “holier” Christian or to progress further, we have to be disciples.
However, being a disciple simply means being a student. As Christians, we are all students of God’s grace. As believers, we cannot help but be hungry to learn. Just like newborn babes, we desire the sincere milk of the Word (1 Pet. 2:2)!
You are a new creation and the righteousness of God in Christ! You are not defined by your failures. A butterfly may sometimes fall but it does not metamorphose back into a caterpillar; it is still a butterfly. In the same way, we remain righteous even when we fail at times. Even in those moments, remember who you are—a new creation in Christ.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
—2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
Every failure, sinful habit, addiction, or negative thing that we still experience today stems from us not realizing that our old sinful nature has already been put to death by our Lord Jesus Christ at the cross. While we might still feel the inclination to sin, it is important to reckon (esteem) who we are in Christ! You are not what you feel. Don’t accept the label the enemy throws at you!
Pastor Prince shares how it is not right to say, “Being a Christian is great and all, but there is no cost to it because Jesus paid it all. But to be a disciple has a great cost.” The flesh loves to hear teachings like this because the flesh always wants to use the arm of strength. Actually, teaching like this is a form of regression. There were disciples before there were Christians. Jesus’ disciples were disciples before they became Christians and were called new creations.
When we look at all the Epistles and all the letters to the Church after the book of Acts, the word “disciple” is not mentioned. Instead, the Holy Spirit has replaced the word “disciple” with sonship—we are sons and daughters of God! This does not mean that we stop learning. It is in the heart of every son and daughter of God to learn!
You can be a disciple and not be part of God’s family. During Jesus’ time, to be a disciple of any Rabbi, people had to renounce their family and occupation to follow the teacher, but there was no sense of familial relationship. However, as sons and daughters of God, we are both a part of God’s family and students of His grace!
“To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”
—1 Timothy 1:2 NIV
“To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”
—2 Timothy 1:2 KJV
While Paul discipled Timothy (in the sense that he taught Timothy), he regarded Timothy as a son. Sonship is greater than discipleship alone! As children of God, it is only natural that we learn from our heavenly Father.
Practical Handles on Rightly Dividing the Word
All the Bible is for us; every Scripture is God-breathed. But it is also important we understand that some portions of Scripture are written for the Jews while other portions are written for the Gentiles. While we can still learn and benefit from every scripture, we need to know when they are not written directly to us so that we do not take things out of context and inaccurately apply them to our lives.
The only letters written to us believers directly are the Epistles—love letters from the Holy Spirit to the Church—written by the apostles Paul, James, John, and Jude. This does not mean that we neglect the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There are still principles for us to learn, but we need to discern the different groups of people these letters were written to.
“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
—2 Timothy 2:1–2 NKJV
While Timothy was discipled (taught) by Paul, the Holy Spirit never used the word “disciple” because Paul’s mentoring of Timothy was done in the Spirit of sonship that went beyond the relationship of a master and a student.
“commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” — God looks for faithfulness, not ability. The Lord can give us the gift of teaching when we choose to be faithful.
“be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” — Being strong in grace starts by first receiving our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul received the revelation of mentoring in Sonship from our Lord Jesus . Paul  then discipled Timothy  who went on to teach faithful men , who went on to teach others .
Notice how there are five people involved in this! Five in the Bible represents the number of grace! We can be strong in grace when we receive the Lord’s grace for us.
“And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called (‘chrématizó’ – divinely called) Christians in Antioch.”
—Acts 11:26 NKJV
“the disciples were first called (‘chrématizó’ – divinely called) Christians” — The Holy Spirit deliberately and purposefully renamed the disciples “Christians.” Christ is the Anointed One, so as Christians, we carry the same anointing that He has. When the Lord’s anointing is on us, whatever we do prospers effortlessly!
This is why it is not accurate to say, “Being a Christian is not enough. You need to be a disciple.” Under the new covenant, being a Christian is greater than being a disciple.
“Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons (‘huios’) of God, through faith.”
—Galatians 3:23–26 ESV
“we are no longer under a guardian” — The guardian here refers to the Ten Commandments. When Israel was under the law, they were held captive under the law (the Ten Commandments). But under the new covenant, we are no longer under the law.
Just like a child needs a guardian to guide him in his ways only until he reaches maturity, we also no longer need the law (our guardian) when we are justified by faith and mature as fully-grown sons of God. This does not mean that we have the license to sin; it simply means that we do not need to be instructed by the Ten Commandments because as believers, the law is written in our hearts and we are guided by the leading of the Holy Spirit on the inside.
“for in Christ Jesus you are all sons (‘huios’) of God, through faith.” — There are different Greek words for sons depending on their level of maturity. A child at infancy is called a “népios,” while a full-grown, mature son is referred to as “huios.” This word “huios” carries dignity—it is dignified to be a son of God. Being a son of God is more dignified than being a disciple.
“I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child (‘népios’ – infant), is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children (‘népios’ – infant), were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
— Galatians 4:1–7 ESV
“as long as he is a child (‘népios’ – infant), is no different from a slave” — A child cannot enjoy his full inheritance. It takes maturity to enjoy certain blessings.
“elementary principles” — This refers to the Ten Commandments. Again, this does not mean that we can be lawless or immoral. Instead, when God writes on our hearts, not only are we able to lead moral and upright lives, but we end up exceeding the standard of the law because of His grace, e.g. we not only refrain from committing adultery, but we fall more in love with our spouse.
Now that we are under the new covenant, we are one with Jesus. He lives in us and leads us from within. Don’t fall from the high place that God has given you. The Lord has given you the Spirit of sonship!
Pastor Prince shares a personal experience when he received a revelation from the Lord on the Spirit of sonship. Pastor Prince was praying to God desperately when the Lord corrected him about the posture of his heart and encouraged him to pray to Him as a son. It was then that Pastor Prince realized that he saw God in a distant way and not as his heavenly Father. In the same way, it is important for us to establish ourselves in the Spirit of sonship and be conscious of our positions as sons!
Example of how we can pray with the Spirit of sonship
Pastor Prince gives an example of how we can pray with the Spirit of sonship when it comes to praying for healing:
“Father, I am Your Son, You are my Father. And I know You want me to have this more than I want it. Father, You want me healed because You love me. Father, thank You that this is the children’s bread and I receive it.”
The results of such prayers are powerful!
The Parable of the Prodigal Son
In this parable (Luke 15:11–37), there was a son who demanded his inheritance from his father and left home. After he squandered everything, the prodigal son reached a low point in his life where the only job he had was to feed pigs—a humiliating job for a Jew—and even longed to fill his stomach with what the pigs were eating. It was then that the prodigal decided to return home, hoping that he could be a hired servant for his father, seeing that they were in a better state than he was.
When the prodigal son “was still a great way off,” his father saw him, ran toward him, and kissed him all over! Not only that, the father ordered his servants to put the best robe on his son, gave him his ring (in those days, the ring carrying the family emblem was used as a form of payment), and put shoes on him. The father celebrated because his son, who had been lost, finally returned home.
When Jesus preached this parable, He was revealing the Father’s heart to us and those who heard Him!
The picture of the father putting shoes on the prodigal son is significant. Under the law, God told Moses to take off his shoes for where he stood was holy ground. This picture of the father putting on shoes for the prodigal son is a picture of God’s grace to us under the new covenant: we have a right to stand in His holy presence as His children!
While this reconciliation and restoration were taking place, the prodigal son’s older brother was upset that his father was throwing a celebration for his younger brother:
“So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ “And he said to him, ‘Son (‘tecknon’), you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ”
— Luke 15:29–32 NKJV
“Lo, these many years I have been serving you” — The older brother’s focus was on what he did to deserve his father’s blessings.
“‘Son (‘tecknon’), you are always with me,” — The Greek translation of the word “son” in this verse is “tecknon,” which refers to a child. Even though the older brother was initially referred to in this story as a full-grown son (‘huios’) in Luke 15:11, he forgot his identity, which led to his self-righteousness, bitterness, and anger. He was performance-oriented instead of conscious of his father and his father’s love toward him.
The prodigal son came home and found grace. Even though he had sinned against his father and his only intention for returning home was to have something to eat, he still received his father’s love and compassion, he accepted the robe of righteousness. Come back to Sonship!
“And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
—Galatians 4:6–7 ESV
You are no longer a slave. Because you are a son, you are an heir through God! As heirs, you can receive and access the full inheritance that the Lord has for you today—not in the future, but right now.
Comparing Luke 14 and Luke 15
In Luke 14, the crowd that came to see Jesus saw Him as a teacher, not a Savior. They came to Him thinking they were smart in wanting to learn more from this man. Jesus responded to them by telling them they had to bear their cross in order to be His disciple (Luke 14:25–27). It was not enough for them to merely learn from Him, but they would have to die and be born again in order to follow Him.
After this group of people heard Jesus give such a tall order, they dispersed, and another group of people came to Jesus: the tax collectors and sinners who saw Jesus as a Savior.
“Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.”
—Luke 15:1–2 NKJV
Because this group of people drew near to Jesus seeing Him as a Savior, Jesus responded very differently to them. He shared three parables of grace (the third one being the Prodigal Son) to minister to them.
God’s reason for saving people is clear in these parables—it is simply because it brings Him joy to save. He loves being a Savior.
“And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
—John 6:65–69 NKJV
One can be a disciple (a student) and not be saved. The seventy people who followed Jesus were disciples yet many of them walked away from Him. They could not accept that it was the grace of God the Father that drew them to Jesus and not their own intellect and desire to learn.
Being a disciple does not give you a special status above being a son and daughter of God.
Observing Jesus’ disciples at the Last Supper: all the disciples called Jesus “Lord,” except for Judas, who called Jesus “Rabbi.”
Jesus wants us to see Him as our Lord and Savior, not just a teacher. Through our Lord Jesus, we are born again as sons and daughters of God, and we are called “Christians.”
The disciples in Antioch did not name themselves “Christians,” but it was the Holy Spirit who divinely revealed them as such (Acts 11:26 YLT). And after that, God never used the word “disciple” again in the New Testament.
Pastor Prince ends the service by praying over someone with a liver condition.
“Heavenly Father, I thank You for the gift of salvation, the forgiveness of sins. It is a free gift but it was paid for by Your Son, my Lord Jesus Christ. He died on that cross for all my sins and You raised Him from the dead, conquering death for me. I stand before you right now, born again, filled with Your Spirit, a new creation. And let me continue Father, to be a student of Your grace. In Jesus’ name, Jesus Christ is my Lord. Amen.”
“This coming week, the Lord bless you, and the Lord keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be favorable to you. The Lord lift up His countenance on you and grant to you and your families His shalom wholeness, well-being, and peace. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.”
If you want to grow in your walk with the Lord or desire to learn more about how to live a victorious life under the new covenant of grace, it is so important to first know your starting point as a son or daughter of God! This means that:
So if there is any breakthrough you need or anything you need guidance on, pray with the assurance that God is your heavenly Father. He loves you and wants to provide the best for you.
With the same Spirit of sonship, you can also embark on Grace Academy, where you can learn how to thrive in various areas of life such as marriage, parenting, career, activating spiritual gifts, or learning how to study the Bible.
Beloved, the more you see yourself as a son and daughter of God, the more you will be able to boldly come to your heavenly Father and access the fullness of your inheritance in Christ!
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.
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These sermon notes were taken by volunteers during the service. They are not a verbatim representation of the sermon.