how the story of the children of Israel crossing the Jordan River is a picture of Romans 7—how as believers, we are dead to the law

Today, we’re going to be talking about how the story of the children of Israel crossing the Jordan River is a picture of Romans 7—how as believers, we are dead to the law.

The crossing of the Red Sea happened at the beginning of the Israelites’ journey out of Egypt. While God had intended for them to swiftly enter the promised land, Canaan, their unbelief caused them to wander in the wilderness for forty years (Heb. 3:19).

At the end of those forty years, they finally came to the edge of the promised land. The last thing standing between them and the promised land was the Jordan River.

A significant difference between the crossing of the Red Sea and the crossing of the Jordan River is the presence of the ark of the covenant (a picture of our Lord Jesus). During the crossing of the Red Sea, there was no ark because it would only be built later on in the wilderness. When the Israelites were about to cross the Jordan River, God commanded the priests to carry the ark into the Jordan River ahead of the people.

The top part of the ark is called the mercy seat, and it is made of solid gold. The bottom part of the ark is made of acacia wood overlaid with gold. The strong acacia wood symbolizes incorruptible humanity, while the gold symbolizes deity. This is a picture of our Lord Jesus, who is 100 percent man and 100 percent God.

The ark of the covenant was kept in the holy of holies. Once a year, the high priest would go in to sprinkle the blood of the animal sacrifice—once on the mercy seat and seven times in front of the mercy seat. Seven is the number of perfection, and the sprinkling of blood seven times represents our perfect standing before God because of the blood of Jesus. On the other hand, the sprinkling of blood once on the mercy seat is a picture of how Jesus shed His blood and removed our sins once and for all.

Inside the ark, there are three items that represent man’s rebellion against God:

  1. A pot of manna: a picture of God’s provision that the people complained against.
  2. Aaron’s rod: a picture of God’s appointed leadership that the people challenged.
  3. The Ten Commandments: a picture of God’s holy standards that the people could not keep.

All these things were placed inside the ark, under the mercy seat, because God did not want to see them. Instead, He wanted them covered by mercy. When we look at the hierarchy of the elements, we can see that mercy is placed higher than the law. Grace is on higher ground, and you fall from grace not when you sin but when you’re trying to be justified by the law (Gal. 5:4).

The ark is a picture of our Lord Jesus in His humanity, His deity, and His finished work. Because of His finished work—the blood sprinkled on the mercy seat—you can be sure you can always come boldly to the throne of grace and receive what you need.

In the story of Joshua leading the Israelites across the Jordan River, God commanded the priests to carry the ark on their shoulders—a picture of exalting the Lord Jesus—and step into the Jordan River ahead of the people.

The ark of the covenant is overlaid with three coverings/curtains:

  1. First curtain (bottom): This is the veil separating the holy of holies (where the ark is placed) and the holy place.
  2. Second curtain (middle): This is a covering made of badger skin, which is very tough, and represents Christ’s immunity to sin.
  3. Third curtain (top): This is a blue curtain that symbolizes heaven, just like how God covers the entire sky in blue.

As the ark was carried on the shoulders of the priests, all that the people saw was the blue curtain. If you want to see the true ark today, you will have to look beyond the blue sky. That is where Jesus is, where His promises of righteousness, wisdom, holiness, health, and healing are unshakable.

After the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and entered the promised land, the way they conquered the first city, Jericho, was by marching around its walls for seven days while the priests carried the ark upon their shoulders and trumpeted the rams’ horns. The people of Jericho who saw the ark saw it covered in blue.

This is a picture of us as believers today, in our priestly ministry, lifting the name of Jesus high and declaring His finished work and goodness.

These are notes on the sermon, He Goes Ahead Of You, preached by Pastor Joseph Prince on Sunday, 13 June 2021, 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: Jesus has already defeated your worst enemy at the cross
  2. Jesus came personally to deliver you and supply you with His grace
  3. Because of the cross, you can come boldly to the throne of grace
  4. The Lord has pushed back all judgment and distresses in your life
  5. When challenges arise, remember that the Lord always goes ahead to make a way for you
  6. When you have Jesus, you will not get lost or left behind
  7. Follow after Jesus, your good Shepherd, and live fearlessly in dark times
  8. Choose Jesus and see His shalom peace manifest in your life
  9. Salvation prayer
  10. Closing prayer
  11. OWN THE WORD (life application)

Introduction: Jesus has already defeated your worst enemy at the cross

Today’s sermon is a continuation of last week’s sermon, Set Apart for Lasting Success.

In Romans 6, we read about how “our old man was crucified” through Christ’s finished work (Rom. 6:6). When Christ was at the cross, He not only bore our sins away, He also bore away the part of us that has sinful nature, the part of us in which dwells no good thing, the part of us that causes us to be depressed and dejected. This part of us, our old “self,” has been crucified at the cross. It is a done deal. That is the “old man” that is described in Romans 6.

Today, the old man is no longer in us. But we still have the residual effects of having our old “self,” we still have the temptations and inclinations of the old self, and it is called the flesh. Though we have the flesh in us, we are not in the flesh. God does not identify us in our flesh, but He identifies us in the Spirit, which is in Christ. Our true identity is in Christ!

God tells us to reckon ourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ (Rom. 6:11). Though we experience the residual feelings of our old self or the “old man” (in the form of sinful tendencies), God tells us to count them as dead. Why? Because Jesus has conquered the old self at the cross and given us a new self. We are a new creation in Him! In our experience, the old self seems alive, but to faith, it is dead. We are to walk by faith and not by our experience.

Two analogies to help you understand the experience of the flesh in your daily life:

  1. When you get off a boat after a choppy ride, you can still feel the up-and-down motions after you step back on land. In the same way, even after our old self has been crucified, we can still experience its old sinful tendencies (that is the flesh).
  2. After listening to a loud bell ringing for ten minutes, you can still hear the sound ringing in your ears even after the actual bell has stopped ringing. Likewise, even after our old self is dead, we can still experience its residual inclinations (that is the flesh).

The reality is that the old self is truly dead because of Jesus’ finished work—regardless of our experience. The more we reckon our old self dead, the more we will see victory over the flesh in our daily lives.

Jesus came personally to deliver you and supply you with His grace

“For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
— Galatians 2:19 KJV

dead to the law . . . live unto God” — With Christ, we didn’t just die to sin, but we also died to the law of God. Only when we are dead to the law, will we live unto God.

Being dead to the law doesn’t mean we break the law. The law dictates God’s holiness, demands, and requirements. While there is nothing wrong with the law, God did not give the law as a means to justify man by. He gave the law to expose man’s sin and show us what we are—for by the law is the knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20). In this way, we can see our need for Christ.

The more we try to keep the law, the more we see our flesh bringing up sin in our lives. In and of ourselves—through the flesh—we cannot do right or wrong. Jesus didn’t come as a means to an end, where we are saved in order to keep the law—that is the furthest from the gospel. Jesus came so that we may be dead to the law and live under God’s grace.

“Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.”
— Romans 7:4 NKJV

dead to the law” — We are not “dying” to the law, but we are already dead to the law through the body of Christ. When you try to keep the law, you are saying that you are still alive to the law. It is only when we behold Jesus in His glory that we shall see ourselves transformed into His image by the Spirit at work in us (2 Cor. 3:18).

In Romans 7:1–3, Paul uses the analogy of marriage to demonstrate how we have been freed from the law (our first husband) and are now in a union with Christ.

married to another” — The only way for our “marriage” to the law to end was through death, and Jesus provided that death for us at the cross (our old self was crucified in Him). That’s why today, we are dead to the law (our first husband) and are now married to Christ (grace). In this union with Him, there is no demand on us. Rather, He is the one who meets every demand in us and through us—He is the one supplying and performing. Our part is to rest and let Him supply us grace in every area of our lives.

to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God” — Our union is beyond death, and this union brings forth fruit to God. With Jesus, there is fruit unto God.

“For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.”
— Romans 7:5 NKJV

aroused by the law . . . bear fruit to death” — Under law, you bear fruit to death. Under grace, you bear fruit to God.

But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’”
— Romans 7:6–7 NKJV

But now we have been delivered from the law” — Just as Israel was once under the law, so were we. Through Jesus’ death at the cross for us, we have been delivered from the law and are dead to it.

letter” — “Letter” here refers to the Ten Commandments.

You shall not covet” — We know that being delivered from the law refers to the Ten Commandments because it refers to the tenth commandment, “You shall not covet.”

The law is one composite whole (James 2:10) that cannot be divided in this context (e.g. divided into ceremonial law, feasts of Israel, animal sacrifices). Being dead to the law isn’t just referring to being dead to ceremonial law and offering sacrifices unto God, but also refers to being dead to the Ten Commandments.

“But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead.”
— Romans 7:8 NKJV

sin, taking opportunity by the commandment . . . For apart from the law sin was dead” — Sin does not manifest without the law. The law was given for the knowledge of sin, and not for us to live by. This is why Paul shares the more he tried to keep the law, the more evil desires rose up.

“I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.
— Romans 7:9–12 NKJV

when the commandment came, sin revived and I died” — The devil knows that he cannot directly tempt a mature believer to commit sin, so he tries to use the law to bring evil desires into the life of that believer. While there is no more sin on us today because Jesus has removed it at the cross, there is still sin in us. When the law is introduced, sin is stirred up and revived.

by it killed me” — When you try to keep the Ten Commandments, it will bring about death. The Ten Commandments is the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones (2 Cor. 3:7).

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
— John 1:17 KJV

the law was given . . . grace and truth came” — While the law was given from afar, grace came to us personally through the person of Jesus. We receive grace with a sense of intimacy and closeness.

Pastor Prince shares a testimony of a man who was delivered from alcoholism and depressive thoughts after hearing the gospel of grace. Today, he is experiencing over-and-above restoration in all areas of his life, including enjoying close relationships with his children again.

It is only when the gospel of grace is preached that we shall see true and lasting transformation of lives.

Because of the cross, you can come boldly to the throne of grace

Over the last two Sundays, we saw how the story of the children of Israel crossing the Red Sea and seeing their enemies dead behind them (Exod. 14:30) is a picture of us as believers. We are on the other side of the cross of Jesus Christ, and all our sin is dead behind us (Rom. 6).

This story is what the Bible calls “a type,” which is a visual aid for us to learn about the wisdom and doctrines of God (1 Cor. 10:11 DARBY).

Over the last two weeks, we saw how the story of the children of Israel crossing the Red Sea is a picture of Romans 6—how as believers, we are dead to sin.

Today, we’re going to be talking about how the story of the children of Israel crossing the Jordan River is a picture of Romans 7—how as believers, we are dead to the law.

The crossing of the Red Sea happened at the beginning of the Israelites’ journey out of Egypt. While God had intended for them to swiftly enter the promised land, Canaan, their unbelief caused them to wander in the wilderness for forty years (Heb. 3:19).

At the end of those forty years, they finally came to the edge of the promised land. The last thing standing between them and the promised land was the Jordan River.

A significant difference between the crossing of the Red Sea and the crossing of the Jordan River is the presence of the ark of the covenant (a picture of our Lord Jesus). During the crossing of the Red Sea, there was no ark because it would only be built later on in the wilderness. When the Israelites were about to cross the Jordan River, God commanded the priests to carry the ark into the Jordan River ahead of the people.

The top part of the ark is called the mercy seat, and it is made of solid gold. The bottom part of the ark is made of acacia wood overlaid with gold. The strong acacia wood symbolizes incorruptible humanity, while the gold symbolizes deity. This is a picture of our Lord Jesus, who is 100 percent man and 100 percent God.

The ark of the covenant was kept in the holy of holies. Once a year, the high priest would go in to sprinkle the blood of the animal sacrifice—once on the mercy seat and seven times in front of the mercy seat. Seven is the number of perfection, and the sprinkling of blood seven times represents our perfect standing before God because of the blood of Jesus. On the other hand, the sprinkling of blood once on the mercy seat is a picture of how Jesus shed His blood and removed our sins once and for all.

Inside the ark, there are three items that represent man’s rebellion against God:

  1. A pot of manna: a picture of God’s provision that the people complained against.
  2. Aaron’s rod: a picture of God’s appointed leadership that the people challenged.
  3. The Ten Commandments: a picture of God’s holy standards that the people could not keep.

All these things were placed inside the ark, under the mercy seat, because God did not want to see them. Instead, He wanted them covered by mercy. When we look at the hierarchy of the elements, we can see that mercy is placed higher than the law. Grace is on higher ground, and you fall from grace not when you sin but when you’re trying to be justified by the law (Gal. 5:4).

The ark is a picture of our Lord Jesus in His humanity, His deity, and His finished work. Because of His finished work—the blood sprinkled on the mercy seat—you can be sure you can always come boldly to the throne of grace and receive what you need.

In the story of Joshua leading the Israelites across the Jordan River, God commanded the priests to carry the ark on their shoulders—a picture of exalting the Lord Jesus—and step into the Jordan River ahead of the people.

The ark of the covenant is overlaid with three coverings/curtains:

  1. First curtain (bottom): This is the veil separating the holy of holies (where the ark is placed) and the holy place.
  2. Second curtain (middle): This is a covering made of badger skin, which is very tough, and represents Christ’s immunity to sin.
  3. Third curtain (top): This is a blue curtain that symbolizes heaven, just like how God covers the entire sky in blue.

As the ark was carried on the shoulders of the priests, all that the people saw was the blue curtain. If you want to see the true ark today, you will have to look beyond the blue sky. That is where Jesus is, where His promises of righteousness, wisdom, holiness, health, and healing are unshakable.

After the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and entered the promised land, the way they conquered the first city, Jericho, was by marching around its walls for seven days while the priests carried the ark upon their shoulders and trumpeted the rams’ horns. The people of Jericho who saw the ark saw it covered in blue.

This is a picture of us as believers today, in our priestly ministry, lifting the name of Jesus high and declaring His finished work and goodness.

The Lord has pushed back all judgment and distresses in your life

Back to the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River:

“So it was, when the people set out from their camp to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest),”
— Joshua 3:14–15 NKJV

the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water” — When Joshua told the people that the Jordan River would open up the moment the priests stepped into the river, the people had to take God’s word through Joshua by faith. The name “Jordan” is the Hebrew word, “Yarden,” which means “descending into judgment.” The priests carrying the ark ahead of the people and making a way for them to cross over the Jordan River is a picture of Jesus leading us to the place where there is no more judgment.

At the time the Israelites were supposed to cross the Jordan River, the river was overflowing at its banks (Josh. 3:15). At this dangerous time, God told them to go ahead and cross the river, but make sure the priests went in with the ark first.

“that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan (‘distress’). So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho.”
— Joshua 3:16 NKJV

the waters . . . rose in a heap very far away at Adam” — The moment the priests stepped into the river, the waters were pushed back thirty miles, all the way to a place called Adam. This is a picture of how Jesus went to the cross for us, and His death pushed back all the judgment back to Adam’s sin.

Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan” — In Hebrew, the name “Zaretan” means “distress.” This signifies that through His death at the cross, Jesus has pushed back every distress and judgment that came through sin—including pain during childbirth, sickness, disease, poverty, depression, addiction, and bondage.

All the waters stood up like a pillar, and it was so tall that the people of Jericho saw that God opened the Jordan River for the Israelites to cross. When you go by faith and take God at His Word, you will possess His promises!

When challenges arise, remember that the Lord always goes ahead to make a way for you

God was very specific in His command for the priests to carry the ark into the Jordan River ahead of the children of Israel.

“and they commanded the people, saying, ‘When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.’”
— Joshua 3:3–4 NKJV

priests” — Notice that we are not to go after the priests that carry the ark (e.g. preachers of the gospel), but we are to go after the ark (Jesus Himself).

two thousand cubits . . . you have not passed this way before” — God told the people not to follow after the ark immediately, but let there be a space between themselves and the ark. Two thousand cubits is about three thousand feet in distance between the Israelites and the ark. Because of this distance, the Israelites saw that the waters of the Jordan River were pushed back because of the ark, not because of them.

The number 2,000 also bears much prophetic significance. From the time God gave Abraham the promise that He would send His Son, to the time that Jesus as a man stepped into the Jordan River to be baptized, was about 2,000 years. And since Jesus came to die to us, it’s also been about 2,000 years. We are the generation that shall see death and every enemy put under our feet (1 Cor. 15:26).

When a believer dies, they don't experience the sting of death. Our posture isn't to look toward death but look forward to the rapture. Jesus has already gone ahead and cleared the path of death and judgment, making a way for us to go through!

When you have Jesus, you will not get lost or left behind

“Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan.”
— Joshua 3:17 NKJV

all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan” — Because you are redeemed by Jesus’ blood, you won’t get lost or left behind in your wilderness journey. You will end up crossing over to the other side.

When the Israelites came out from Egypt and crossed the Red Sea, they didn’t enter the promised land immediately. They wandered in the wilderness for forty years before finally coming to the Jordan River. Once they crossed the Jordan River, they were in the promised land. The crossing of the Jordan River marked the end of their wilderness journey.

When the true gospel of Jesus Christ is preached, people will cross immediately from Egypt to the promised land without wandering too long in the wilderness. However, due to mixed teaching, people are wandering in the wilderness (in unbelief), trying to find their way out.

The Hebrew name for Egypt is “mitsrayim,” which means “double stress.” When you were born again, God delivered you from a place of bondage, stress, and darkness. But He doesn’t just want to deliver from these things. He wants you to deliver you into His rest! Today, for believers, the promised land that is flowing with milk and honey and filled with superabundant provision (Deut. 31:20) is the place of rest (Heb. 4:1–10). We can receive every blessing because of Jesus’ finished work, not by our works (Deut. 6:10–11).

After all the Israelites had crossed the Jordan River, Joshua told one man from each of the twelve tribes of Israel to take a stone from the Jordan River where the priests were standing with the ark, and carry it on their shoulder to the other side (Josh. 4:5). Then in the place of those twelve stones taken from the Jordan River where the priests were standing, Joshua took twelve stones from the wilderness and placed them there (Josh. 4:9).

The stones from the Jordan River were set up on the other side of the river, in Gilgal, as a memorial (Josh. 4:19–24).

These stones could be the stones that Joshua and his men took from the Jordan River. These twelve stones represent the twelve tribes of Israel, and they are also a picture of us believers today. This memorial signifies that we are now resurrected in Christ on the other side of the cross, while our old self is gone in the Jordan River, and judgment and all our distresses are behind us.

After the last person had crossed the river, the waters came back in its full strength and force and covered the whole area again. This points to the rapture where one day, the invitation of grace will end, and judgment will come to those who don’t believe. However, as believers, we don’t have to worry, for we are already enjoying our resurrected life in Christ.

“Then he spoke to the children of Israel, saying: ‘When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land.’”
— Joshua 4:21–22 NKJV

This is a word for parents: it is important to create memorials with your children. For example, when you partake of the Communion with them, explain the significance of it. Tell them why it’s important that we celebrate Christmas, and why Sundays are dedicated to attending church. When you tell them about it, you are building memorials with them. One day, when challenges come, they will remember these memorials you built.

Follow after Jesus, your good Shepherd, and live fearlessly in dark times

When the Israelites left Mount Sinai, the ark went ahead of them in order to find a resting place for them (Num. 10:33). Most of the time, the ark was in the center as they traveled.

The way the Lord led Israel in their wilderness journey is the way a shepherd leads his flock—sometimes in front, and sometimes in the center. During the day, the shepherd always goes ahead, for the sheep need to see their shepherd. The shepherd is the one who will lead the flock to still waters, while the sheep follow him with confidence. At night, the shepherd will position himself in the midst of the flock, and talk to them as they journey ahead.

Likewise, Jesus is our good shepherd who goes ahead of us (John 10:27). He faced death and judgment to make a way for us to pass through unharmed. When dark times come, we will always find Him with us (Ps. 23:4). That is why we don’t need to fear.

Choose Jesus and see His shalom peace manifest in your life

“Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho.”
— Joshua 4:19 NKJV

the tenth day of the first month” — This date is significant because it falls in the Passover month, in spring. The tenth day is when each household chooses their lamb and keeps it in the house for examination (to make sure it is without blemish). Then after five days, the lamb is killed as a sacrifice for Passover. The crossing of the Jordan River occurred on the day the lamb would be chosen.

This is so significant because many years later, on this same date (the tenth day of the first month), Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a donkey. He is the true Passover lamb, the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. On the way to the cross, Jesus was also examined, and those who examined him could not find fault with Him because there was no sin in Him.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, there were shouts of glory and praise from the people (Luke 19:37–38). There were some Pharisees who told Jesus to rebuke them, but Jesus responded: “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:39–40). Because this happened on the tenth day of the first month, it is clear that Jesus was actually referring to the memorial stones in Gilgal. And the stones are a picture of us, those who are resurrected in Christ. If Israel refuses to praise Him, then we will praise Him.

“Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it saying, ‘If you had known, even you especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace (‘shalom’)! But now they are hidden from your eyes.’”
— Luke 19:41–42 NKJV

especially in this your day” — On this day, the tenth day of the first month, the Jews were commemorating the crossing of the Jordan River that had happened all those years ago.

for your peace” — The Hebrew word for “peace” is “shalom,” which means “peace, health, and well-being.”

With Jesus comes complete wholeness and peace. When He entered Jerusalem on that day, He was in essence telling them, “I am the true ark of the covenant who went into the Jordan River on the tenth day of the first month. I am the One whom Daniel prophesied about. I am the One who can bring you freedom. I am the One who can bring you out of Egypt, out of bondage and suffering. I am the One who can make a way for you to go through death without you suffering death and bring you to the other side with resurrection life forever. I am the One who can make an end of all your sins, all your sickness and distresses that came in because of Adam. I am the One who can free you from all that. I am the Messiah!”

If Israel had accepted her Messiah, that very day, the millennium would have started from Israel. No one would be sick or in poverty. It would have started in Jerusalem. But the leadership of Israel rejected Jesus, and He wept for them because He loved them and He knew the destruction and sufferings that would come (Luke 19:43). It is vital that you know the “time of your visitation,” for it is important for your well-being (Luke 19:44).

Pastor Prince closes the service by reminding us not to miss our time of visitation (accepting Christ), for it is where we receive His shalom peace, health, prosperity, and wholeness for our lives. When you accept Jesus, you will have days of heaven on earth! One day, Jesus will come back, and everything will be made right again.

Salvation prayer

“Heavenly Father, I thank You for the gift of your Son, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Christ died on the cross for all my sins, He bore all my judgment, and He bore them completely away. Thank You, Father, that You raised Him from the dead. Jesus Christ is my Lord and my Savior. Now all my sins are forgiven by the blood of Jesus. I am now a new creation in Christ. Death and judgment are behind me. I look forward, Father, to a great life. Life more abundant, life with You—in your safekeeping, in Your love, and in Your care. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Closing prayer

“This coming week, the grace, the favor of our Lord Jesus Christ be with every one of you. Amen. And the love of God, may this wonderful love cast out every fear, every despondency, every misery out of your heart, out of your family, out of your life, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The wonderful love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit who leads you and guides you throughout this week will put you at the right place at the right time, delivering you from the COVID-19 virus, placing you where the profuse favors of God flow in your life. Amen. Like a mighty river, where you enjoy the good of the promised land this week. Not another time, but this week. The fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you and your families in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And all the people say, Amen.”

Own the Word (life application)

“that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan (‘distress’). So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho.”
— Joshua 3:16 NKJV

Is there an area of distress in your life? Is there something causing you anxiety, pain, or sorrow? Whether it is a health challenge, a financial struggle, a difficult situation with a loved one, our Lord Jesus wants you to know that when He went to the cross for you, He pushed back all judgment that came into the world because of sin—including all your distresses.

This week, when you are confronted by your struggles and your experience tells you that your distresses are very much still in your life, pause and remember what Jesus did for you at the cross. Take time to open the eyes of your heart and see Him as the true ark of the covenant who went into the Jordan River before the children of Israel, causing the raging waters to roll back so that His people could cross the river on dry land. See your distresses being rolled back. See the Lord going ahead of you and making a way for you.

He has done it all, and your posture is to rest!

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 2021
These sermon notes were taken by volunteers during the service. They are not a verbatim representation of the sermon.

These are notes on the sermon, Pillars For Our Church And Life, preached by Pastor Joseph Prince on Sunday, 13 March 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 expresses Himself to the world through the church
  2. Experience the power of the Holy Spirit in the church
  3. Discover God’s blessings through the four pillars of the church
  4. Pillar #1: Christ-centered teachings bring the blessings of the new covenant
  5. Pillar #2: Fellowship in the local church brings supply and abundance in areas of lack
  6. Pillar #3: Partaking of the holy Communion brings health and healing
  7. Pillar #4: Prayer brings peace in your family and relationships
  8. Salvation prayer
  9. Closing prayer
  10. OWN THE WORD (life application)

Introduction: God expresses Himself to the world through the church

The Lord is showing us more about the treasures and riches He has deposited in the church. The church refers to the many-membered body of Christ where the power and giftings of the Holy Spirit are manifested!

“. . . they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ
— 2 Corinthians 8:23 NKJV

the churches, the glory of Christ” — God esteems the church as the glory of Christ—this shows how dear the church is to God. He does not want us to forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Heb. 10:25). During this time of the pandemic, we might have gotten used to attending church online and receiving God’s Word from the comfort of our home, but let’s look forward to gathering together physically once again once we are allowed to do so. While we can receive directly from the Lord, He wants us to belong to His church where His provisions for our every need are found.

“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.””
— Matthew 18:20 NKJV

Gathered together” — This is not just a casual meeting but a gathering initiated by the Holy Spirit. This gathering of people is the church!

“Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.”
— 1 Corinthians 12:27 NKJV

“For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.”
— Ephesians 5:30 NKJV

When God looks at us, He sees us as the body of Christ. Christ has a glorified body with healthy flesh and bones in heaven today, and we are members of that body! We need to identify ourselves in Christ. The more we see Jesus, the more we become like Him (2 Cor. 3:18). As He is, so are we in this world (1 John 4:17). This is the eternal truth of God’s Word, and the truth will always outlast the facts. While it may be a fact that you are having pains in your body, the truth is that you are one with Jesus. As you keep identifying yourself with Him (e.g. saying, “As Jesus is healthy and strong, so am I in this world”), this eternal truth will outlast every temporal fact.

The church is an expression of Jesus to the world.

“And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”
— Luke 1:35 NKJV

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,”
— Galatians 4:4 NKJV

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.”
— Acts 2:1–2 NKJV

Both the birth of Jesus and the birth of the church happened in the fullness of time, at a specially appointed time.

The birth of the church is recorded for us in the book of Acts. The book of Acts was written by the disciple Luke, who also wrote the Gospel of Luke.

Luke was a physician who noted down details (e.g. details about healing miracles) that other Gospels did not include. As a detailed person, he also recorded details in the book of Acts regarding the church.

Don’t be discouraged when you see problems in the church today. Despite how imperfect the church is, being in the church is crucial to having the needs in your life met. Many times, the Lord delivers supply to your area of need via the church. To be saved is wonderful; now God wants you to belong and be planted in His church.

In the Gospel of Luke, Luke wrote about the 30+ years of Jesus’ life on earth. In the book of Acts, Luke wrote about the first 30 years of church history. There is a parallel.

Today, the church is the expression of Jesus. He speaks and works miracles through the church.

Experience the power of the Holy Spirit in the church

“. . . All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations . . . ”
— Matthew 28:18 NKJV, 19 KJV

The Lord has given us His authority. That’s why there is power when we pray in the name of Jesus! There is power when we pray for the sick and use the name of Jesus to call forth the healing of diseases. It’s not about who we are, the amount of knowledge we have, or the walk we have with the Lord. The power lies in the name of Jesus alone!

“And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them . . .”
— Mark 16:20 NKJV

The Lord working with them” — When the disciples went around to preach the gospel and heal the sick, the Lord continued to work with them. He did not work apart from them or directly without them. In the same way, the Lord continues to work with us today through His Spirit.

Today, one of the ways the Lord works with us is through prayer. When we pray, we enforce the victory that Christ has already accomplished through His finished work, and miracles follow.

We see the Holy Spirit very clearly in the book of Acts. While the book is called “The Acts of the Apostles,” we can also see it as “The Acts of the Holy Spirit” because it was the Holy Spirit who led the apostles in their ministry. The apostles simply followed the Spirit.

“. . . the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you.”
— Acts 10:19 NIV

“The Spirit said to Philip, “Go near, and join yourself to this chariot.”
— Acts 8:29 WEB

“. . . the Holy Spirit said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.”
— Acts 13:2 ASV

The Holy Spirit was continually working and guiding the apostles on what they should do. The Spirit showed them when to do the right thing at the right time (there was even once when the Spirit did not allow Paul to preach somewhere because it was not the right time (Acts 16:7)). In the same way, we should be led by the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.

What Jesus did during His ministry on earth—going around doing good, healing all who were oppressed—He is still doing today through the Holy Spirit and through His church where the Holy Spirit dwells.

“You are the salt of the earth . . . You are the light of the world . . .”
— Matthew 5:13–14 NKJV

salt of the earth” — Jesus calls us the salt of the earth. During His time, salt was used to preserve food from being corrupted. Worse darkness has been held back from the earth because we, the church, have not yet been raptured. Because of the Holy Spirit who is at work in and through us, we bring blessings and hold back destruction wherever we go. This is also true of our presence in our individual spheres of influence (e.g. at our workplace, in school).

The anointing of the Holy Spirit makes things effortlessly easy when we flow with Him.

Just like how oil lubricates creaky door hinges, there is a flow when the anointing of the Holy Spirit is upon us. He teaches us all things and leads us in the ways we should go.

“. . . but be filled with the Spirit;
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs . . .
Husbands, love your wives . . .”
— Ephesians 5:18–19, 25 KJV

Relationships need the anointing of the Holy Spirit. When we are filled with the Spirit, the Holy Spirit will cause us not to grumble or speak unedifying words to others. Instead, our relationships will prosper when the anointing of the Holy Spirit is upon us!

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
— Acts 2:4 NKJV

The Bible records that the people were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost when the church of Christ was born. They could only speak in other tongues because the Holy Spirit gave them the ability to. In like manner, we ought to depend on the Holy Spirit who gives us the ability and power to carry out God’s work!

Another parallel between Jesus and the church

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
— Luke 2:52 NKJV

“praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved..”
— Acts 2:47 NKJV

Jesus had favor with people and increased in wisdom and stature. Similarly, the church had favor with all people and the Lord brought increase and growth.

Today, God’s focus is on the body of Christ, through which He blesses the world.

Wisdom for building a strong church

The key to building a strong church filled with grace and truth is to build the church on these three foundations:

  • The Centrality of Jesus

Set your life (this includes your daily living, what you say and do) and teachings to revolve around Jesus and magnify His glory. When you occupy yourself with Christ, He puts you at the right place at the right time and guides you to do the right thing.

  • The Church

The church is dear to the Lord’s heart. We need to be occupied with what is on the Lord’s heart.

  • Israel

Pastor Prince addresses the misconception that Israel is no longer relevant today. It is faulty doctrine to deny the importance of Israel. The Bible talks a lot about Israel because it is a nation dear to God’s heart. The Lord has not forgotten or forsaken them. Also, as we read and teach the Word, it is important to discern what is addressed to Israel and what is addressed to the church.

Discover God’s blessings through the four pillars of the church

“Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in (1) the apostles’ doctrine and (2) fellowship, in (3) the breaking of bread, and in (4) prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.”
— Acts 2:41–43 NKJV

These are the four pillars of the church:

  1. The apostles’ doctrine
  2. Fellowship
  3. The breaking of bread
  4. Prayers

These pillars make the church strong and flow with the will and purposes of God. These activities, which are important for the benefit of our own individual lives, take place in the local church.

“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread . . .”
— Acts 20:7 KJV

To break bread” — The early church gathered every Sunday for the purpose of breaking bread. Even though they had the greatest preacher, the apostle Paul, their focus was not merely to listen to the preached word but to partake of the Lord’s Supper.

The holy Communion is one of the highest forms of worship unto the Lord.

“. . . do this in remembrance of Me.”
— Luke 22:19 NKJV

The holy Communion is dear to God’s heart because it reminds Him of His beloved Son, Jesus. Not only that, but the provision God wants us to receive is found in the holy Communion! We don’t need to chase after answers from the world when we can receive them by the Lord's ways.

“Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.”
— Acts 2:43 NKJV

Many wonders and signs were done” — The apostles witnessed and performed many signs and wonders as they leaned on the four pillars of the church. When we continue steadfastly in prioritizing these four pillars, we too can experience God’s abundant blessings!

“So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
— Acts 2:46–47 NKJV

And the Lord added to the church daily” — As the early church continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, breaking of bread, fellowship, and prayer, the Lord added to them daily. These are the keys to experiencing God’s wisdom and favor daily in our lives.

In last week’s sermon, The Keys to Counter the Four Horsemen, Pastor Prince shared about how the tabernacle of Moses and the tribes of Israel surrounding it was a picture of our Lord Jesus and the local churches. In that sermon, he also expounded on how the four horsemen (a picture of the enemy’s attacks in different areas of our lives) would attack the tabernacle in four directions. God’s answers to countering the enemy’s attacks in our lives are found in the four pillars of the church!

From an aerial view, we see the bronze altar and laver at the east side of the tabernacle, the table of showbread at the north, the menorah at the south, and the altar of incense and the ark of the covenant at the west.

Pillar #1: Christ-centered teachings bring the blessings of the new covenant

Pillar #1: The Apostles’ Doctrine

The east of the tabernacle is where the bronze altar and laver are found. The bronze altar is a picture of the cross of Jesus Christ while the laver is a picture of us being washed by the water of the Word (Eph. 5:26). The water of the Word refers to Christ-centered doctrine. The apostles’ doctrine, therefore, refers to Christ-centered teachings based on the finished work of Christ.

Since the evil spirit of false doctrine is what will attack the church from the east, the Lord placed the bronze altar and laver there to show us the importance of listening to Christ-centered teachings. Any other teaching that devalues or omits the finished work of Christ is false doctrine.

Pillar #2: Fellowship in the local church brings supply and abundance in areas of lack

Pillar #2: Fellowship

The south of the tabernacle is where the menorah is found. The menorah represents the church of Jesus Christ, which is the place of fellowship.

The evil spirit that will attack the church from the south is famine and lack. God’s answer to countering lack in our lives is through fellowship in the body of Christ.

Wisdom for finances: sow into the house of God

Honor the Lord with your possessions,
And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And your vats will overflow with new wine.

— Proverbs 3:9–10 NKJV

“You have sown much, and bring in little;
You eat, but do not have enough;
You drink, but you are not filled with drink;
You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;
And he who earns wages,
Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.”
. . . “You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the Lord of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house.”
— Haggai 1:6,9 NKJV

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it
.”
— Malachi 3:10 NKJV

One of the ways to be involved in the local church is by tithing and offering other forms of financial support. The verses above reveal how sowing into the Lord’s house will bring about abundant harvests in your own life. This is one of the ways to counter famine or lack.

Support and reach out to each other in the church

Another form of fellowship also includes meeting the needs of one another by gathering together around the person of Jesus.

The demoniac in Mark 5 lived among tombs and mountains; he was alone. Likewise, in these last days, a device of the enemy against the church is to isolate individuals. Some Christians avoid the church because they feel jaded or have been disappointed by failings in the church. While it is true that no church is perfect, God still calls it the glory of Christ (2 Cor. 8:23).

Let your light shine in the church—use your gifts, anointings, and revelations to serve the people in God’s house

“And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred. And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick? For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad.”
— Mark 4:20–22 KJV

Under a bushel” — In ancient Israel, a bushel was a basket/container for measuring things like wheat, which were bought and sold. The bushel in this verse represents the negative side of commerce, which is the love of money. The Lord does not want us to be consumed by the hunger for money. He that is hasty to be rich has an evil eye (Prov. 28:22), and this includes any means to get rich quick (e.g. gambling). The Lord’s way is for us to increase by labor, not by dishonest shortcuts (Prov. 13:11). There’s nothing wrong with commercialism, but having a love for money will put out your light just like the candle put under the bushel.

A candle is not meant to be put under a bushel.
A candle is not meant to be put under a bushel.

Under a bed” — The bed in this verse can represent laziness or sexual immorality. This represents how such sin destroys the light that God wants to shine forth in our lives.

“No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.”
— Luke 11:33 KJV

on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light” — Once God lights you up (e.g. He gives you a revelation that blesses your life), He wants to put you in a position of influence in the church where you can shine His light and glorify Him! You can also influence others to use their gifts to glorify Jesus.

An illustration of the menorah.
An illustration of the menorah.

“. . . and it giveth light unto all that are in the house
— Matthew 5:15 KJV

“. . . there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt . . .
. . . But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.
— Exodus 10:22–23 NKJV

Not only will the church be blessed when you use your light to serve in God’s house, but your entire household will have light as well!

“. . . that they which come in may see the light.
— Luke 11:33 KJV

Our light will also shine as a testimony of God’s grace to those who are observing the church.

Pillar #3: Partaking of the holy Communion brings health and healing

Pillar #3: The holy Communion

The north of the tabernacle is where the table of showbread is found. The enemy that attacks the tabernacle from the north side is death and disease. The table of showbread is a picture of the Lord’s Supper. The holy Communion counters sickness and disease in our lives.

We have received many testimonies from people who have received healing through the holy Communion.

“For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner . . . not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.”
— 1 Corinthians 11:29–30 NKJV

When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we are to partake of it worthily by discerning (1) that His blood has cleansed our sins and (2) that He took our diseases in His body (Isa. 53:5). If we discern this, we are partaking of the Lord’s body worthily and giving glory to Jesus, and we will not be weak, sick, or die before our time.

Pillar #4: Prayer brings peace in your family and relationships

Pillar #4: Prayer

The west of the tabernacle is where the altar of incense is found. The enemy attacks this side of the tabernacle with war and strife.

The altar of incense is a picture of prayer. We overcome strife and conflict in our lives through prayer! Instead of trying to convince people with our words in an argument, the wiser thing the Lord wants us to do is to pray. It’s hard to remain angry with someone when we pray.

“. . . in the teaching of the apostles, and in the fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers.”
— Acts 2:42 BLB

The prayers” — The definite article (“the”) shows that there is a specific prayer the early church focused on. This special prayer is tongues.

“And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.”
— Acts 19:6 NKJV

The prayer which the early church focused on was prayer in tongues! As we pray in tongues, strife will cease.

This pillar of prayer includes both praying in our known tongue and praying in the Spirit.

“Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.”
— Acts 6:7 NKJV

As the early church continued steadfastly in the four pillars of the church, the word of God spread greatly!

We need to continue prioritizing the word of Christ. Keep on listening to the apostles’ doctrine (new covenant teachings). The more we meditate on God’s Word, the more we will see His blessings manifest in our lives!

Pastor Prince ends the service by praying for people with these conditions:

  • Stomach ulcers
  • Fractured shoulders
  • Injured toes

Salvation prayer

“Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love for me. Thank You for the gift of Your Son, Jesus Christ, that You are giving to me right now. I confess the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior and my Lord. And I believe that Christ took all my sins and all my diseases on the cross. And I believe that You raised Him from the dead when I was acquitted when I was justified in Him. Jesus Christ is my Lord and my Savior now and forever. In Jesus’ name, thank You, Father, that I am saved. I am now Your child and I'm blessed with every blessing in heavenly places in Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Closing prayer

“This coming week, may the favor, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and your family. And may the love of God, the love that saw our need even when we didn't think about Him. That love that loves you still and will love you forever. As Jesus has described, He will love you to the end. May the love of God and the sweet friendship and communion of the Holy Spirit be with you and your loved ones now and forevermore. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.”

OWN THE WORD (life application)

“Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in (1) the apostles’ doctrine and (2) fellowship, in (3) the breaking of bread, and in (4) prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.”
— Acts 2:41–43 NKJV

Of the four “pillars” Pastor Prince shared in this sermon, is there a specific one you feel the Lord moving your heart to start doing?

  1. Listen to preaching and teaching that reveal more about what our Lord Jesus has done for you at the cross and the benefits of being under the new covenant of God’s grace (His unmerited favor). Be protected from false teaching and the lies of the enemy that cause you to feel like God is against you or like you have to depend on yourself to meet every need in life.
  2. Get involved in a local church. If the Holy Spirit is moving you to start sowing into your church with your time, giftings, or finances, follow His leading. It is God’s ordained way to deliver much of His supply and blessings to you through the local church. Be planted and watered there. Be a blessing to others with what the Lord has given you.
  3. Partake of the holy Communion often. Remember Jesus—His death on the cross and what it has accomplished for you. Discern the bread as His body that was broken for your health and step into a new measure of wholeness.
  4. Bring everything to the Lord in prayer. Talk to the Lord about the challenges and conflicts you are facing. And pray in tongues, which empowers you to pray according to His will. As you pray, you’ll see conflicts resolved and peace flow into difficult relationships and situations.

This week, take the first step to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in practicing the above. He is positioning you to receive His best blessings!

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.