Understand The Times
These are notes on the sermon, Understand The Times, preached by Pastor Joseph Prince on Sunday, 10 October 2021, at The Star Performing Arts Centre, Singapore. We hope these sermon notes will be an encouragement to you!
- Introduction: One word from God can change your life forever
- The preaching of the gospel produces a life of true victory and holiness
- God will bring something beneficial and sweet out of every negative situation in your life
- As believers, we look forward to the rapture, not the grave
- When you understand the times, you can live life with hope and confidence even as the world darkens
- We are still living in the “acceptable year of the Lord” where His free favors abound
- Having the blessed hope of the rapture purifies you to live a life that honors God
- Know that God is not judging the world but is inviting all to be reconciled to Him
- Salvation Prayer
- Closing Prayer
- OWN THE WORD (life application)
Introduction: One word from God can change your life forever
Every Sunday, we dive into God’s Word to see what God has for us. Prophetic preaching expounds on what God is doing at this time. Pastor Prince encourages us to listen with a hearing heart because just one word from God can change our lives forever.
God has ordained that by the foolishness of preaching, many who believe will be saved. It is not merely the act of speaking that saves but it is the preaching of God’s Word that saves. The word “saves” is also the Greek word “sozo,” and it doesn’t just mean “to save from hell,” but it also means to save and to heal from whatever ailments or diseases you may have (1 Cor. 1:21 KJV).
By the foolishness of preaching, God delivers His salvation to the people who are hearing and believing. May you hear and receive what God has for you today!
The preaching of the gospel produces a life of true victory and holiness
The gospel is the gospel of grace, Paul says that anything other than grace is another gospel, and Paul pronounced a double curse on anyone preaching any other gospel than the gospel of grace (Gal 1:6 KJV).
Pastor Prince shares a testimony from a sister in Delaware, United States, who was delivered from years of addiction and indulging in sin after she received and embraced the gospel of grace.
If the gospel of grace is preached, it must produce a life of victory, a life of holiness, and a life to the glory of God. God is not into behavior modification, He is more concerned with heart transformation.
HOLINESS IS THE FRUIT, GRACE IS THE ROOT.
If we are preaching the gospel of grace, holiness, wholeness, health, and shalom will be the fruits.
God will bring something beneficial and sweet out of every negative situation in your life
It has been some time since we have been in this pandemic, and many of us may be wondering what’s next.
Firstly, know that God is not behind the pandemic even though He has allowed it to carry on. It is for a reason. God is able to bring good out of darkness. This can also be seen in the riddle that Samson shared in Judges 14:14 (LSV), “Out of the eater came forth something to eat, And out of the strong came forth [something] sweet . . . ”
God is able to bring sweetness and nourishment for you out of all that the devil is trying to do in your life. Even if the devil has managed to attack an area of your life during this time, God can still cause something good and sweet to come out of it for you.
When Adam and Eve fell, no one would have known that God could restore more than what was robbed. But today we know that through the finished work of Christ, man has been restored to a position that is greater than before. We are now the righteousness of God in Christ, seated at the Father’s right hand in Christ.
Today, you can boldly celebrate the fact that the old you—the part of you who self-sabotages, who experiences negative thoughts and emotions—has been crucified with Christ and you rose in Him as a new creation.
As believers, we look forward to the rapture, not the grave
We are now waiting eagerly for the rapture. While the word “rapture” is not found in the Bible, the Greek word “harpazō” is mentioned, and it means “caught up” or “seize away.”
Jesus Himself intimated it in John 14:
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
— John 14:1–3 NKJV
“I will come again and receive you to Myself” — This refers to the rapture where we will be with the Lord, face to face, in His presence.
It was the apostle Paul who elucidated and uncovered this mystery of the rapture. At that time, the Thessalonian believers were in despair and despondency over their loved ones who had passed on because they thought that they would not be part of what God would do. To encourage and exhort them, Paul wrote this letter:
“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
— 1 Thessalonians 4:15–18 NKJV
“by the word of the Lord” — This is not just based on Paul’s own interpretation or reading of the text, but it is by the word of the Lord Himself.
“caught up” — This is the Greek word “harpazō.”
During the rapture, we will also receive a new body:
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
— Philippians 3:20–21 NKJV
“eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” — Our Christian posture is not to wait for death but to eagerly wait for our Savior from heaven. Let us have this attitude of awaiting the rapture.
The rapture is not a new teaching or something that was only imagined recently.
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.””
— 1 Corinthians 15:51–54 NKJV
“mystery” — The word “mystery” in the New Testament refers to something that was once hidden but is now revealed. The rapture is one of the mysteries that was kept hidden in God but is now revealed. It was not taught in the Old Testament because it was hidden to them. However, the experience of it was already found in the Old Testament (e.g. Enoch (Gen. 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11)) but the teaching was not.
“all be changed” — The rapture is for all who have been truly born again in Christ. If you have confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believed in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, then you are saved (Rom. 10:9), and you will be raptured regardless of your spiritual growth.
When the rapture happens, our imperfect bodies will be transformed into incorruptible bodies, and we will never fall sick again nor ever die. Our bodies will not be subject to sickness, boredom, or fatigue but will become like the new body that Jesus had when He rose from the dead. His body was tangible yet could transcend matter, space, and time (Phil. 3:21a).
The rapture can happen anytime. It is not subject to the fulfillment of any Bible prophecy, while the second coming of Christ is. Later, we will talk more about the second coming of Christ to better understand the times we are living in according to Bible prophecy.
While no one can know the day or the hour that the rapture will happen, as believers, we can sense in our hearts that the time is drawing close, and we see this depicted in the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25 as well.
It was at midnight when a sudden cry sounded, “Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!” (Matt. 25:6) The bridegroom is a picture of Christ and we, the church, are His bride. Likewise, before the rapture happens, there will be a cry, and Pastor Prince shares that he wants to be one of the voices that cries out and encourages us to wait expectantly for Jesus, our Bridegroom, to receive us.
“then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”” — When Jesus rose from the dead, He conquered death once and for all but the reality of it will happen fully when the defeated enemies are experientially brought under His feet.
In the Old Testament, when a king conquers other nations, he calls for the defeated kings of those nations to come before him so that he can put his foot on their necks like a footstool, as a sign of victory. Likewise, Jesus has already defeated every enemy at the cross. But today He is putting them under His feet one by one to assert that victory.
If the Bible says the last enemy that will be put under Jesus’ feet is death (1 Cor. 15:25–26), then you can rest in the assurance that as that day draws near, one enemy after another will be put under Jesus’ feet—whether it is sickness, poverty, depression or any other attack against His people.
We are the body of Christ and we have risen with Christ and now sit together with Him in heavenly places. That is why we get to enjoy the blessings of being in the same position as Jesus today and these enemies will be brought under our feet too (Eph. 1:21 KJV).
When you understand the times, you can live with hope and confidence even as the world darkens
There is a difference between the rapture and the second coming of Christ. The prophet Isaiah prophesied more on the second coming of Christ than the first coming of Christ, and the rapture of the saints is not mentioned at all. As we have learnt earlier, the rapture is a mystery that was kept hidden in the Old Testament, even to the prophets.
Today, we are looking at what will happen before the second coming of Christ:
After the rapture happens, the seven years of tribulation will begin, and then the second coming of Christ, which will usher in the millennial rule of Jesus Christ.
As believers born again in Christ, we are not looking forward to the appearance of the Antichrist, but we are looking forward to seeing Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 1:10 KJV). Our position as Christians right now is to wait eagerly for the Son to return because He will deliver us from the wrath to come—the seven years of tribulation.
We are seeing more and more content on the Internet speculating who the Antichrist is, which causes fear and trepidation to grow in the hearts of believers. But that is not what we are looking forward to. We are to look forward to the rapture with joy and expectancy, awaiting the day when we can meet our Savior face to face, and to feel fully alive and never be sick again.
The rapture is not the second coming of Christ. God reserves no judgment for the born-again believer whose sins have been forgiven and put away in Christ.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
— John 5:24 NKJV
Those who believe in Christ will never be brought to judgment again because of what Jesus has done at the cross.
There are many false teachings about how we are already in the beginning stages of the seven years of tribulation, but it is essential that we know the times we are in so that our hearts are not troubled or sorrowful by what is untrue.
WE ARE NOT IN THE SEVEN YEARS OF TRIBULATION, BUT WE ARE AWAITING THE RAPTURE.
While the world may be in a dark place right now, God is bringing light out of this darkness. Light shines brightest in the darkness. The glory of the Son, Jesus Christ, shines brightest in a time of darkness (Isa. 60:2 KJV).
We can rest in His faithfulness. Even out of this pandemic, God can and wants to bring forth sweetness for you and your family.
We are still living in the “acceptable year of the Lord” where His free favors abound
In Luke 4, Jesus was in the synagogue reading the Scripture of the day, Isaiah 61, and He purposefully cut off His reading at a certain point in the scripture:
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.
— Luke 4:17–20 NKJV
When Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1–2, He deliberately left out the last part of the verse: “And the day of vengeance of our God . . . ”
“acceptable” — This is the Greek word, “dektos.” It refers to a time when God’s favor profusely abounds. Likewise, in Hebrew, the word “acceptable” is “ratsown,” which means “favored.” We are still in this “acceptable year of the Lord” where the free favors of God are profusely abounding. This era will come to an end when the rapture happens.
Where Jesus closed the book, we need to close the book. We are not in “the day of vengeance of our God.” We are not there, we are still in the year of His favor. And we will be in this year of favor until the rapture happens.
Jesus stopped His reading at the “acceptable year of the Lord” because His first coming was to save, heal, and restore—not to judge. Jesus’ second coming will be to judge but this judgment is not upon us.
God is not dealing with the world with vengeance today. We are living in the day of grace and as we have experienced grace, we are to extend grace to those around us. It is the grace of God that causes inside-out transformation.
The idea that grace causes one to sin more is not found in the Scriptures. The Bible makes it clear that “sin shall not have dominion over you, for you not under law but under grace” (Rom. 6:14).
Grace is not “natural” for us. We understand “do good, get good” and “do bad, get bad” but our minds cannot comprehend the notion that we can receive the good that we do not deserve. All the good that has come to us has come by the grace of God, His unearned and undeserved favor.
And that is why grace can never make one proud. When you understand grace and how you have been so undeservedly blessed, you cannot be proud because you know that everything good comes from the Lord only and all the glory goes to Him.
Pastor Prince shares a powerful testimony from a brother in Canada, who experienced a complete life transformation. This man was delivered from his years of addiction and had his marriage restored when he received and believed that he had been made the righteousness of God in Christ through the finished work.
How do we discern false teachings?
We have shared many testimonies over the years and one thing that is common in all of them is that while they are appreciative of Pastor Prince, who delivers the good news of the gospel through the preached word, they give all the glory to the Lord Jesus.
You can discern false teaching or heresy by who it glorifies. A false teacher or a heretic’s message always points back to the speaker or leader. They put the focus on themselves instead of the Lord. Someone who is teaching under the anointing of the Holy Spirit will always give all the glory to God’s beloved Son, Jesus, because the Holy Spirit comes to glorify only one: Jesus Christ.
Having the blessed hope of the rapture purifies you to live a life that honors God
In 2 Thessalonians, the believers of Thessalonica had a different problem. They were convinced by false teachings that the rapture had happened and now they were left behind in the beginning stages of the day of the Lord.
“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.”
— 2 Thessalonians 2:1–3 NIV
“asserting that the day of the Lord has already come” — Even today, we are seeing many false teachers who are saying the same thing (that the seven years of tribulation has come). Paul makes it clear that the day will come only when the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness, the Antichrist, is revealed.
The Antichrist has not been revealed and therefore, we are not living in the times of the beginning stages of the day of the Lord or the mark of the beast. Such teachings always instill fear and cause people to live in turmoil. Right teaching will always deliver you from fear.
When Jesus Himself spoke about the signs of the times, His exhortation to the people was, “Do not be terrified” (Luke 21:7–10). For the unbeliever looking into the future, there is undeniably a sense of fear, but for the born-again believer, someone whom the free favors of God abound toward, you can expect goodness and mercy to surely pursue you. You are safe in the Lord’s hiding place, and God does not deal with you based on your sin but based on what Christ has done in your place.
Why is this so important?
If you have a wrong perspective of prophecy, it causes fear. This has caused many to shun Bible prophecy in fear but it is important that we learn about them.
The benefit of Bible prophecy is that it gives you a hope which purifies you (the rapture—1 John 3:3) and a positive expectation of good in your future!
When you understand the times you are living in and what God is doing, your heart and mind will be at rest, and you will be able to look at the days ahead with hope and joy instead of fear and despair.
Prophetic teaching must always place the helmet of salvation on the believer because it will affect their thinking and cause them to expect good in their future.
Know that God is not judging the world but is inviting all to be reconciled to Him
When you hear wrong teaching about how you are no longer living in the acceptable year of the Lord, it causes you to take on a judgment perspective and you can begin to look at God as a stern judge over the world. However, Scripture shows us that that is not the case:
“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
— 2 Corinthians 5:18–21 NKJV
“not imputing their trespasses to them” — Some have said that God is judging certain countries because of the various circumstances that are happening in these countries, but here we see that God is not imputing their trespasses to them. In fact, God has committed to us a ministry of reconciliation because we are not in the day of His vengeance.
God is not counting your sins against you because He has counted them on His Son at the cross so now, you can be reconciled to Him.
THE WORLD NEEDS TO HEAR THIS MESSAGE: “GOD IS NOT MAD AT YOU! BE RECONCILED TO HIM!”
God’s heart is to reconcile all to Himself and that they would know that God is not mad at them but He loves them. Because of the pandemic, many churches have gone online, allowing anyone to access a church service and the message of grace even without entering a physical church building.
Now you have the opportunity to share this ministry of reconciliation with someone in your sphere, whether it’s a colleague or a family member. Evangelism means “good news being shared,” and the good news is that God is not mad at you but He loves you and wants to reconcile you to Him.
This pandemic is a great opportunity to “evangelink”—evangelize by simply texting or sending the link to our church services to someone who needs to hear the good news of God’s grace.
In the days ahead, God wants your life to be filled with love, joy, and peace. He doesn’t want your heart to be worried and fearful because of all the false teachings around that breed fear. You can rest and look forward to the future knowing that you are safe in the Father’s hand and no one can snatch you out of it.
“Heavenly Father, I thank You for the gift of Your Son, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank You, Father, that You raised Him from the dead and I was acquitted in Him. Thank You, Father, that I’m now the righteousness of God in Christ because Jesus Christ is my Lord and my Savior.
And from now on goodness and mercy follows me all the days of my life until I dwell in the house of the Lord forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
“This coming week, the Father in heaven Himself who loves you grants you a blessed week. A week where you and your families are protected from the COVID-19 virus and from the Delta variant, where throughout this week, you are protected from every sickness and disease, and that you are protected from every harm, danger, and accident for God has promised that no evil will befall you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling. Why? Because child of God, you and your family are in the secret place of the Most High. You are now in Christ under the shadow of the Shaddai. And God fills your heart with love, joy, and peace throughout this week.
And I pray in the name of Jesus that you and your loved ones, even your little ones, will have a special revelation through the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ Himself, that you’ll fall deeper in love with Him this week in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Throughout this week, may you sense the communion, the leading, and the friendship of the Holy Spirit in your life, leading you, guiding you into paths of fullness of joy, paths of abundance, and paths of peace. In the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ. And all the people said, Amen.”
OWN THE WORD (life application)
Despite the darkness and bad news you may see in the world, let your heart be fortified with the knowledge that you are under the favor of God. If you are facing a challenge or difficulty today, you can trust the Lord to bring something beneficial out of that negative situation.
You can be sure of this because the Bible tells us that we as believers are living in “the acceptable year of the LORD” where His favor profusely abounds. We are not living in the time of God’s judgment; we are not seeing the beginning of the seven years of tribulation; we are not in the time of the Antichrist or the mark of the beast
Instead of looking around for dangers or evil, look steadily toward the rapture, where we will be caught away to be with the Lord and receive an incorruptible body free from sickness and all the effects of death.
This week, instead of listening to teachings or speculations that breed fear and turmoil, listen to preaching on the wonderful grace of God. The gospel of grace brings peace, joy, and hope for the future. This is what your heavenly Father wants you to be assured of—that even as the world gets darker, you need not fear. You can trust and rest in the fact as a believer, that He is not dealing with you based on your sin but dealing with you based on the new covenant of grace, where your sins have been put away and you are now the righteousness of God in Christ, forever under His favor!
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.