Sermon Notes

This Week’s Sermon

Today we are screening—He Goes Ahead Of Youpreached by Pastor Joseph Prince on 13 June 2021, at The Star Performing Arts Centre, Singapore. We hope these sermon notes will be an encouragement to you!

Note: This page is updated weekly.

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:

A pot of manna: a picture of God’s provision that the people complained against.

Aaron’s rod: a picture of God’s appointed leadership that the people challenged.

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.

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 Joseph Prince 2021
These sermon notes were taken by volunteers during the service. They are not a verbatim representation of the sermon. You are God’s workmanship—made righteous in Christ to proclaim His glory