New Covenant Keys to Interpreting the Bible

These are notes on the sermon, New Covenant Keys to Interpreting the Bible, preached by Pastor Joseph Prince on Sunday, 25 September 2022, at The Star Performing Arts Centre, Singapore. We hope these sermon notes will be an encouragement to you!


1. Introduction: By the Holy Spirit we speak as the oracles of God
2. The four gospels reveal the different facets of our Lord Jesus
3. We are living in the end times, the last days before Jesus returns
4. The answer we need in these last days is in the Word of God
5. How to study the Bible and interpret the Scriptures in a personal and practical way
6. Key #1: Interpret everything you read in the Old Testament in the light of Jesus’ finished work
7. Key #2: Always understand the Scriptures in the context of the entire passage
8. Key #3: Don’t let obscure passages rob you of the assurance and confidence of clear and certain passages!
9. A powerful example from Hebrews about how to accurately interpret passages in context
10. Salvation Prayer
11. Closing Prayer
12. OWN THE WORD (Life Application)


Introduction: By the Holy Spirit we speak as the oracles of God

Pastor Prince shares how he always endeavors to speak as the oracles of God whenever he gets to preach (1 Pet. 4:11). It’s not about preaching about man’s opinions. The word preached must come from the Lord.

In ancient Greek practice, people would go to an oracle—someone who was possessed by an evil spirit—to get direction, like a fortune-teller. But God-ordained ministry involves prophets, preachers, and teachers who are there to proclaim God’s voice.

The Holy Spirit is able to guide us by inspiration to speak a word in season to someone in need. One word from God can change our lives forever.


The four gospels reveal the different facets of our Lord Jesus

Look at these beautiful alliterations hidden in the themes of the four gospels!

The Gospel of Matthew—the Sovereign and His Sermons
When it comes to royalty, it’s important to trace lineage. Hence, the Gospel of Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus, in which He was first introduced as the Son of David.

The genealogy written in Matthew is also important because it is the only documentation left that tells us who has the claim to the throne of David, which is a picture of the throne of God.

The gospel of Matthew is also filled with many sermons that Jesus preached during His time here. These sermons teach us about the foundations and principles of God’s Kingdom.

The Gospel of Mark—the Servant and His Service
Mark doesn’t start with a genealogy because Jesus is represented here as the divine Servant. You don’t ask a servant for his pedigree.

The book of Mark is all about Jesus as a servant and His service to the people. It is filled with recordings of Jesus performing miracles. You can even feel a sense of urgency and immediacy as Jesus goes from place to place to heal and redeem people.

The Gospel of Luke—the Savior and His Salvation
In the book of Luke, Jesus is portrayed as the Savior, the Son of Man who came to save mankind. We can see this even before His death and resurrection—when Jesus was saving and healing many as the Messiah.

God created the earth and creation, and He committed it to the stewardship of Man. He never meant for sickness, death, sin, lack, famine, or wars to come in. He created a perfect creation.

But Man gave up creation when he sinned, and death came into the world. Where the first Adam failed, God sent the Second Adam—Jesus—to recover all that was lost (Rom. 5:17).

The Gospel of John—The Son of God and His Supremacy
In John, Jesus is God come down in human flesh (John 1:14).

Pastor talks about how Jesus predicted in the gospels that the temple of Herod then would be destroyed and that not even one stone would be left on top of another (Matt. 24:2). However, in AD70, during the siege of Jerusalem, General Titus, son of the Roman Emperor, gave specific commands to his troops not to destroy the temple.

During the fog of war, chaos, and fire, the soldiers, seeing the gold of the temple melting in between the stones, began pulling down the stones to retrieve the gold. In the end, not one stone was left on top of another. You can see these same stones when you go to Israel today.

We see the supremacy of the word of Jesus, the Son of God, prevailing over the commands of the son of the Roman Emperor.


We are living in the end times, the last days before our Lord Jesus returns

“All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
—Matthew 24:8 NKJV

We are living in the end times. While we may experience all sorts of “sorrows” such as natural disasters, plagues, and wars. These are just part of the signs of the end times. We can take heart when we know God’s heart to care for those who believe in Christ.

Sorrows” in Hebrew refers to “birth pangs” or contractions. When giving birth, the contractions become increasingly frequent as the baby is about to be delivered. This tells us that when we experience more of these “birth pangs” more and more frequently, we know that the Lord’s coming is drawing closer. We do not have to be afraid but we can rejoice knowing that our bodily redemption is near (1 Cor. 15:51–53, Luke 21:28).

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,”
—2 Timothy 3:1–2 NKJV

“Perilous times” is a result of mankind being lovers of themselves. We will see mankind being increasingly full of themselves during these times, resulting in wars and conflicts. They will also be lovers of money and boastful/proud.


The answer we need in these last days is in the Word of God

God doesn’t just tell us the problem in 2 Timothy 3:1–2. It gives us the solution. In the same chapter a few verses down, it says:

“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
—2 Timothy 3:14–17 NKJV

continue in the things which you have learned” — In the end times, it is more crucial for us to continue in the things we have learned, to spend time in the Scriptures and study the Word of God.

Even when the world seems to be falling apart, we can find assurance and hope—a confident expectation of good in the future—in God’s Word.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” — In its original Greek translation, this means that the Bible is God-breathed. The thoughts and ideas in the Bible were not created by man, they came from God Himself. All that we need for life can be found in the Scriptures!

Spending time in God’s Word is also able to “make you wise for salvation.” This means that the Scripture is able to make you wise to receive not just salvation from hell but also wholeness, healing, restoration, and provision, such that you will have nothing lacking in your life.

that the man of God may be complete” — The word “complete” is the word “fitted.” God can fit you with a special aptitude: wisdom, intelligence, sharpness, ability to understand, and see things and solutions that even more knowledgeable people can’t.

All the knowledge in the world (especially on social media) can confuse, depress, and make you feel disconnected or isolated, but God’s Word will “thoroughly equip” you for all the challenges that you will encounter.

God wants you to prioritize and spend time in His Word. When you delve into His Word, God is able to drop gifts, talents, and impartations in you!

If the Word of God contradicts a belief that you hold to be true, know that the Word will last forever—every belief we have will eventually bow to the Word, and we will have to acknowledge that His Word is truth. The truths found in the Bible will never bow to any facts, “truths”, or beliefs that do not align with it.


Blood-letting was a common medical practice in the 18th century that was found to be harmful to most patients. If only someone had read the Bible which says, “. . . the life of the flesh is in the blood. . . ” (Lev. 17.11), many deaths could have been prevented!

The Bible is accurate in everything. Even in the oldest book of the Bible, Job, we see scientific truths and prophecies that have come to pass. For example, Job foretold that man will be identified by their fingerprints (Job 37:7) and that the moon doesn’t shine (Job 25:5).

Unfortunately, the devil has had much success in making the church look old-fashioned and traditional, like something that has not kept up with today’s times in terms of thinking and practices.


How to study the Bible and interpret the Scriptures in a personal and practical way

Pastor’s heart is not to train us to be academics when it comes to the Word, but for us to be able to open the Bible on our own, understand what is written, and receive from the Lord the encouragement and word we need.

God has given you the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth (John 16:13). Always ask the Holy Spirit to teach you when you open the Word of God. You can pray, “Father, let Your Holy Spirit teach me all things” before you begin to read the Word. More than just revealing God’s heart in the Bible, the Holy Spirit can also show you things to come through the Word.

Here are some keys that will help you as you study God’s Word:


Key #1: Interpret everything you read in the Old Testament in the light of Jesus’ finished work

Pastor preaches a lot from the Old Testament, but he takes time to help interpret the passages in the light of the new covenant of grace.

“You shall eat the old harvest, and bring out the old because of the new.”
—Leviticus 26:10 NKJV

How we are about to bring out food/nourishment from the Old Testament is through understanding it in the light of the new covenant!

An example:
“For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”
—1 Timothy 5:18 NKJV

For example, the verse above, read in its context, is actually referring to paying those who labor in the Word and doctrine. In fact, Timothy is saying that these servants of the Church deserve double honor, which means a double salary (1 Tim. 5:17)!


Key #2: Always understand the Scriptures in the context of the entire passage

When we read the Word, we must interpret it in its context.

“It shall greatly help ye to understand the Scriptures if thou mark not only what is spoken or written, but of whom and to whom, with what words, at what time, where, to what intent, with what circumstances, considering what goeth before and what followeth after. ”
—Miles Coverdale

Miles Coverdale, the man who translated the Bible and wrote the first English Bible, gave us this piece of advice above about reading the Bible in its context.

Even the words of Jesus during this earthly ministry (printed in red in some Bibles) need to be interpreted in relation to His death on the cross and resurrection.

An example:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
—Matthew 10:5–6 NKJV

Does this verse still apply to us today? No, because even though Matthew 10:5–6 is written in red, after Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, He now tells His disciples, 18 chapters later:

“‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.”
—Matthew 28:19–20 NKJV


Key #3: Don’t let obscure passages rob you of the assurance and confidence of clear and certain passages!

It’s important to not let obscure passages rob you of the assurance of clear and certain passages.

An example of a clear and certain passage from what Jesus says: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
—John 3:16 NKJV

When reading and studying obscure passages such as Hebrews 10:26–27 (explained below), it’s important to hold on to the assurance that John 3:16 (a clear passage regarding our salvation as a believer) brings.


A powerful example from Hebrews 10 about how to accurately interpret passages in context

“For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.”
—Hebrews 10:26–27 NKJV

This verse is often misinterpreted because people do not read it in its context. They do not see what comes before and after. They conclude erroneously that if one sins willfully repeatedly, there is a place that a believer can end up without a means of salvation.

What comes before this verse is important for us to be able to understand the meaning of what the writer is saying here.

In the earlier portions of Hebrews 10, we see these 3 “W”s:

1. The first “W”: The Will of the Father

“Then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
—Hebrews 10:9–10 NKJV

You cannot try to keep the law and produce moral excellence because the law highlights your imperfections. That was how sin had dominion over God’s people in the Old Testament (Rom 5.20).

The Father’s will was to remove the old covenant of the law (sin and death), which condemns us as sinners, so that He can establish the new covenant of Grace, where because of Jesus, we can be accepted by God and counted as righteous in Christ apart from our actions.

Yes, God’s desire for us is to be holy, and have high moral conduct and excellence so that we can bear good works unto God (Col. 1:10). But we can never attain this by our own strength! God gave the law to show man that we cannot achieve this excellence by ourselves. It was given to demand from us what we cannot produce and expose our weaknesses (Rom. 7:8–9).

Now, when we realize how wretched we are, we are ready to receive grace. God provided His Son Jesus to fulfill these demands that we are unable to keep completely once and for all, so that we might receive grace apart from our works (Rom 8:1–2). You see, God’s heart was never to judge us. His heart has always been to rescue and redeem us!

2. The Second “W”: The Work of the Son

“And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,”
—Hebrews 10:11–12 NKJV

In this passage, we see how the animal sacrifices and sin offerings made in the past were not able to completely redeem the one who offered, and make him perfect with regard to his conscience. If it was able to, then the priest would have offered it once and then stopped.

He then contrasts these offerings to Jesus who offered one sacrifice for sins forever, and who has sat down at the right hand of God! This means that Jesus’s perfect sacrifice has completely redeemed us such that we who have now been cleansed should no longer have any consciousness of sin!

He didn’t sit down because He was the Son of God, He sat down because He had completely finished the work of our salvation and redemption!

3. The Third “W”: The Witness of the Holy Spirit

But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,”
—Hebrews 10:15–20 NKJV

This is the witness of the Holy Spirit: “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

Because of Jesus’ finished work, God no longer remembers your sin. There is no sin in your past, present, or future that will take you out of fellowship with God. And the gift of the Holy Spirit within us is a witness of this truth.

This does not mean we can go out and do whatever we want and sin. Because we are no longer under the law, we are not under the dominion of sin (Rom. 6:14). We are alive to the Lord and His Spirit is able to lead us and transform us (2 Cor. 3:18). The Holy Spirit will never lead us to do things that are immoral.

Because of this witness and strong assurance from the Holy Spirit, we can have boldness to enter the holiest and have an intimate and personal relationship with God, because of Jesus’ finished work. This means that we can talk to God about anything at any time. God’s doors are always open to us.

“by a new and living way” — “New” means “freshly slain”. When you partake of the holy Communion, see Jesus freshly slain on the cross for your sins. “Living” here means that each time you come to the presence of God, you get healthier and experience more life.

Back to Hebrews 10:26–27:
“For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.”

Now, only after reading the entire context of what precedes Hebrews 10:26–27, we can understand that this “sinning willfully” doesn’t apply to us who have believed in the Lord Jesus. It does not refer to just any sin, but specifically the sin of unbelief on Jesus, even after receiving the knowledge of the truth (the 3 “W”s above). This refers to people who, having heard the good news of Christ repeatedly, choose to not put their faith in the truth that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior.


Salvation Prayer

Heavenly Father, I thank You for the truth that I receive right now. Jesus Christ is the Truth, the Way, and the Life. I believe Christ died on the cross for my sins and I believe He was raised from the dead. I have been acquitted of my sins and I am justified in Him. Baptize and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. All my sins are forgiven, and death and judgment are behind me. From this day forth, I live as a child of God forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Closing Prayer

I ask in the name of Jesus that all that has been shared will go deep, not just in your minds but deep into your Spirit man, where it begins to govern everything you do. I pray that you will go about your days this week established in the consciousness of God’s love—that He no longer takes into account your sins. You are the beloved of God. And even when you fail, I pray that the Lord will remind you once again, through the Holy Spirit as a witness, that God no longer remembers your sin, and all you have to do is repent and continue your journey with God. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


OWN THE WORD (Life Application)

Have you ever thought “Wow! I want to see what Pastor Prince sees when he reads the Bible?” The good news for all of us is that the same Holy Spirit that has revealed these things to Pastor Prince is the same Holy Spirit that is inside you! God desires for you to get to know Him in every way possible and the Holy Spirit that He has placed in you is more than able to guide you in all things.

This week, involve the Holy Spirit when you read the Bible. You can do so by praying, “Father, let your Holy Spirit teach me all things” as you begin to read the Word. As you continue to read the Bible, keep in mind the keys shared in this sermon:

Key #1: Interpret the Old Testament in the context of Jesus’ finished work
Key #2: Always understand the Scriptures in the context of the entire passage
Key #3: Don’t let obscure passages rob you of the assurance and confidence of clear and certain passages!

You can write it down and place it near you to remind yourselves of these important guides as you interpret the Bible and see what the Lord reveals to you! You can expect the Lord to refresh, reveal, equip, and redeem you as you spend time in His Word.

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 2022
These sermon notes were taken by volunteers during the service. They are not a verbatim representation of the sermon.