Joseph Prince - Experience Unmerited Favor When You Look To Jesus
Praise the Lord. Let's dive right into the Word of God. The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. It's amazing, just recently I was listening to a message, and I was amazed that there are people coming out with voices really strong, wanting to keep the law going back to the law, not understanding the purpose for which God gave the law. I am for the law for the reason God gave the law, all right? God never gave the law to justify anyone by. God gave the law so that everyone can become guilty. And it's almost like we forget that the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Moses was a servant in God's house, but Christ is the Son of God. And the Bible says Jesus himself said, "The servant does not abide forever, but the Son abides forever". If the Son sets you free, you'll be free indeed. And still, we are almost like despising grace, the Son, all right, in favor of the servant Moses. Remember that when the baby Jesus was brought to the temple by his parents, there was an old man, an old prophet by the name of Simeon, and his name Simeon means hearing or Shammah in Israel. You ask any Jewish person what is Shammah, they will tell you, "Hear, O Israel. Shammah Israel," all right?
Our God is one Lord and you shall love him all your heart, all your soul, all your mind. So, the sum totality of the law is in the Shammah. So, this old man the law being old by then 1500 years since Moses gave it to the people of Israel on Mount Sinai. The law came into the temple when baby Jesus was there and Simeon representing the law, blessed the parents but he didn't bless the baby, why? Because the less is blessed of the better always. You cannot bless the better. So, he blessed the parents. And then the Bible says he said, "My eyes", he told the Lord, "Lord let now your servant depart in peace for my eyes have seen your Yeshua," in Hebrew, "your salvation".
So, even the law, the law is saying, "Let me now depart in peace. I have served my purpose. Now, Yeshua has come and mine eyes have seen your salvation," your Yeshua literally. And after the law went out, Hannah came in and Hannah, that woman Hannah - Hannah means grace. And she told everyone in the temple, "Look this is the boy, all right? This is the boy that will bring redemption". So, in other words when the law goes out, grace comes in to proclaim that he is the one, amen?
So, the reason and the purpose for which God gave the law is not that man will be justified by it, all right, be blessed by it. So that man, who was boasting about his own performance... and that's still our problem today even in our churches, all right? The problem is that there's this hankering after self. And the law is a form of self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is the mother of all sins. The worst sin that you can ever commit, in the eyes of the Lord, is self-righteousness. It produces all other sins.
In fact, if you think about it, the original sin was it that Eve was tempted to murder Adam? Was it something so morally, you know, obvious that it was a moral sin and yet it was the original sin that brought all other sins? It was an attempt of man trying to be like God by his performance. Man was already made in God's image. The very attempt negates what God says you already are. Are you listening? Man was trying by his own attempt to become what God said he already is. So, that act of self-righteousness means, "God, I don't trust you. I need to fend for myself, watch for myself. I need to produce... and you know what something, God? I have got goodness in myself. I've got some righteousness". And man is still standing before God as judge.
In other words, if you stand before God as judge, how many know you are finished? Come on. If you stand before God as judge, and this trying to produce some goodness of your own, some righteousness of your own is our biggest problem because the more you try that, you are actually saying, "I have to stand before God as judge". The very attempt to produce righteousness of goodness of your own is to say in essence, "I'm standing before God as judge". But God doesn't you to stand before him as your judge. He wants you to stand before him as your justifier. And that's a lesson that good old Job had to learn.
You know, Job had to learn this lesson the hard way. And God didn't send all his troubles, Satan did. We all know that. And Job says, "The thing which I greatly feared," in Job chapter 3, "has come upon me". What was it that he greatly feared? What was it that he greatly feared? If you look back at Job chapter 1, you will find that Job did something every single morning, all right, every day, and he did this continually. The Bible says that Job, in chapter 1, "When the days of his children's feasting were gone about that Job sent and sanctified them, rose up early in the morning, offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually".
In other words, Job wasn't resting in the finished work. Job was actually so concerned about sin, he was so sin conscious, it brought him to a place of fear about his children. And notice that this kind of self-righteousness is always "I" centered. Notice that his children were sin, but not him. He didn't offer for himself. So, actually all forms of fear, fear is not the deepest root. The deepest root is actually condemnation, self-righteousness. You see, the moment... how can you tell you have self-righteousness the mother of all sins? The moment you have condemnation. If you are condemned in your heart, you have walked in self-righteousness prior to this. Some form somehow, someway, you are walking in self-righteousness and now you are fearful, all right?
So, in other words yeah, no doubt the fear broke down the hedge. Not just fear, don't worry about it folks. "The thing which I greatly feared". He was highly developed in this fear. All right, he was fearful that his children will die because of their sins and all that. And in fact, he keep on fearing fearing. His religious act of offering burnt offerings continually wasn't out of faith. It was out of fear. And it's possible for us to confess our sins and then never see the provision that God has made, and we're actually in fear doing religious thing. Are you listening, people?
You can even turn the Christian things that you do into self-righteousness instead of resting in what Christ has done. Instead of rejoicing in God your justifier, you are trying to perform a righteousness before God as judge, amen? In other words, God doesn't just make us righteous. It is consistent with his holiness in making us righteous. How can a holy God make miserable, sinful man righteous in his eyes and not compromise his holiness and his perfection? The answer, "I have found a ransom". God himself found... if I find it, it's never that sure, huh? God himself says, "I have found". God has found a ransom. Something that satisfied his heart, his own Son.
God sent his Son for the purpose of dying for our sins and because his Son has died for our sins, paid the price for our redemption, today God's righteousness is on your side. God has put it in such a way that God is not pitiful in making you righteous. No, no, no, no that's not the language of Scripture. God is not merciful in making you righteous. God is rich in mercy, but he's not merciful in making you righteous. God is righteous in making you righteous, amen, in making sinful men righteous. So, in other words, stand before God. God is saying, "Stand before God as a sinner and I'll be your justifier. Stand before me as a righteous man, and you know what? You're lost".
So, it's either you know, we're still hankering after self. It's either we manifest in pride, pride of name, pride of effort, pride of position, whatever it is, or it manifests in self-condemnation and, you know, pity parties. "Oh, I'm so lousy". Both are focused on self. One is, "what I've done, what I have". Another one is, "what I have not done what I don't have". It is still "I". That miserable "I". "So what do I do, Pastor Prince, if I"... God is saying, "Would you like an object, a new self? Here, my Son Jesus, he's your new I. He's your new self. It's no longer you but from now on, I will judge, I will assess, I will look at you through Jesus".
It is not a question of how good you are, it's a question of how good he is. It behooves us then, all right, to find out all we can about this wonderful person of God's Son whom the Scripture says in the book of wisdom, "I was daily his delight," whom God sent into this world, the only baby born to die for our sins because God loved us. Hallelujah. "So, how can I tell, when pastor, how can I tell I'm still in self-righteousness"? Whenever you are feeling condemned, trust me, somewhere along the way before you came to this place you were hankering after self, after some goodness in yourself. Are you listening, church? It's not about you. It's all about him. If you want to go by the law, then go by the entire law. You cannot pick and choose. The law stands as a composite whole.
Numbers 5 tells us, Numbers 5 "And the Lord spoke to Moses", and this is the law, by the way saying, "Command the children of Israel that they put out of the camp every leper, everyone who has a discharge, and whoever becomes defiled by a corpse". Did you hear that? So, if you had a nocturnal emission at night, don't put up your hands. Back in those days you stay outside, lest you die. Not just one or two every, everyone, whoever. "You shall put out both, male and female, put them outside the camp".
Now, this is the law. Are you listening? If you're gonna stand before God as judge you're gonna stand before perfection himself, you are done for. So, why did God put Scriptures like this? So that we come to the end of ourselves. We say, "This is being human". In fact, all three represents different forms of uncleanness. Leper, he doesn't have to do anything, it's what he is. So it's passive uncleanness. Discharge is active uncleanness. Whoever becomes defiled by a corpse, a relative dies by association.
So, notice how sin can get us. If it's not by association, it's by something you do. It's not something you do, it's something you are. So, the best thing is that we say what? Forget self. Take Christ as your righteousness. And I'll show you stories after stories, all right, of healing and miracles where people that came to Jesus who were in sin. In fact, every one of them were in sin, all right? And everyone received. Everyone that came received. There's only one group of people who cannot receive, and they are the Pharisees and that tells us the only thing that can stop God's grace from flowing, God's favor is not sin.
In fact, if you expose sin to grace, sin is swallowed up. The only thing that can stop God's favor, God's grace, from flowing in your life is self-righteousness 'cause the moment you are into self-righteousness, you are saying, "Christ, step aside. I don't need you as my righteousness. I have goodness of my own". Are you listening? He cannot be of effect, all right? "Christ has become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law," not whoever sins Christ becomes of no effect. Whoever is justified by the law, you are fallen from grace. Wow. We use the terminology "fallen from grace" for people who sin, who fell into sin, fell into immorality, all right?
But actually God uses it only for people who may look all right outside. They have the look. They have the profession. They say the right words, the right lingo, amen. They know how to shout and jump. But the thing is that God says they are fallen from grace. When it really comes to receiving from God, they cannot receive. They can confess the Word. They can claim this. They can rebuke. They can bind but in their heart they are seized by that condemnation because of their self-righteousness. They don't know how to get out of it. Let me tell you, church, all right, self-righteousness produces condemnation and condemnation is an indication, just like when you have measles or you have outbreak and all that, it's a symptom of something inward, right? Fever means your body's fighting infection.
So, the same thing condemnation means, what? You're in self-righteousness. Are you listening? And condemnation kills. Job was in self-righteousness. He learned that right at the end of the story of Job. Job learned a lesson he says, "God, I've heard of you by the hearing of my ear. I've heard people preach about you. I've heard of you by the hearing of my ear, but now my eye sees you and I abhor myself in dust and ashes". The very next few verses, God restored everything Job had.
Now, God didn't send those things to Job, but Job was in self-righteousness and whenever in self-righteousness the devil comes to you and he says, "You haven't done this enough. You haven't done that enough". Even you do something good, you haven't done it enough. "You haven't prayed enough". And you say, "I prayed one hour today". "Well, there are those who pray three hours". "I read a chapter every day". "Well, there are those who read five chapters a day". It's never enough. When you do something wrong, of course, he points out to you. He reminds you. Yesterday, today, he's not forever. When you do something right, he tells you it's not enough. It's all about you. When you are focused on you and what you can do, he's got you. But if you tell him, "Look devil, it's not me. Look at that one at the Father's right hand. He is my righteousness. Go check him out". That's it. He knows "Not again another one from New Creation Church". Amen, church?
Come on, give Jesus the praise. He did it all. So, long before there was sickness, long before Adam and Eve started growing old, long before poverty came into their lives, they sinned but it's more than that. God came to them, but they were afraid of God so they had fear, the wrong kind of fear. But it's more than that. They were condemned. How do we know that? They clothed themselves with fig leaves, all right? And have you seen fig leaves in Israel? This is how big it is. I wish that there's a hand down there to show you the point of reference. It's huge, okay? Notice how it covers their nakedness. Literally, the Bible says in Hebrew, they had it as a loincloth and God looked down it was bloodless. God doesn't want salad dressing.
So, the Bible says God clothed them with skins. And this time the word in Hebrew is fully clothed with skins. That means what? God is the first one to offer animal sacrifices, the innocent dying for the guilty, the just for the unjust. If God provide, listen if man provides his covering it's never perfect. You're always wondering, wondering whether it will cover you. When God provides with his own hands, it's perfect. God sent his Son. His Son did the work. You are as good in your standing before God as your offering, and our offering's name is? So, are we okay? And how. Hallelujah! Amen.
So, the root cause of a lot of problems, you know, sometimes marriages break down because the husband and wife cannot see eye to eye. Then we go deeper what's the problem, all right? "Oh, she does not agree with me on this. You know I don't know why she's not submissive and all that. You know, it's her fault". Then she says, "It's his fault". And then you go deeper into the root and you find out that actually the husband is fearful about providing for the family, not having enough. He's reading too much bad news, watching too much, you know, depressive news and he's afraid. So, while he's driving back or whatever, he gets into this mode of fear, why? Because he thinks that he's gotta fend for his family. He's gotta provide. He's the man. He's the husband. He's the father, all right? He gets into this condemnation that he feels that "I cannot be good enough for my family. I cannot be, you know, I cannot provide enough for them. You know, I'm a lousy husband. I'm a bad father. I don't have enough time for my children. I ought to have more time for my children".
Once you get into the condemnation, the moment she says something, bang, it just takes one little word and the whole thing comes unglued, and the wife doesn't even know what happened. And wives if only you knew the truth, it could be fear, you'd be more compassionate. And it's not even fear, it's stress. Your husband is under stress and because he loves you, you're the nearest, he takes it out on you. But it's not even stress, it's condemnation. He is condemning himself.
So, years ago God gave me this illustration, okay, destructive habits, financial lack, sickness. There's a deeper root. The world says that there are many diseases caused by stress and that's as far as the world can go. But you go deeper there is the root cause of stress is fear. When you are in fear, all right, you start getting stressed, the flight or fight response. But that's as far the world can go. Some people in the world they say that, you know, they can go deeper to fear. They say their fear is that man needs to learn to overcome by his new thinking, by his own performance whatever. But God says no, the deepest root is condemnation, the deepest root.
And to reintroduce the law is to bring back condemnation, and the devil loves it. No wonder his ministers are transformed to ministers of light whose works are according to righteousness, human righteousness, manmade righteousness, amen? I mean his ministers are called angels of light in the Book of Corinthians. He has people in the pulpit. And the devil doesn't make as much in growth as he did the moment he put someone behind the pulpit. That's the worst place, all right, because everyone thinks that everything comes from the pulpit means it's from God. They don't check from the Scriptures.
And then they hear things like, "Bless God. Don't you think for one moment your sin will get by. Your sin will find you out. God wants us holy in our thoughts, holy in our eyes, holy in our actions, holy in our". It's us us, us, us and you hardly hear Jesus being mentioned. If we can become holy in thought, word, and deed without Christ, we'd have made it. David would have done it a long time ago. It's a difficult lesson, but a painful one that we have to go through and every time you are in self-righteousness, grace stops. Remember this, grace cannot flow where there is condemnation. When Jesus taught the disciples how to speak to the mountain, "Be thou removed".
Remember the whole episode was because Jesus came to this fig tree. It was on the way from Bethany to Jerusalem. Many a times those of you who are there you walk down that same path. The fig tree is no more there right? It is cursed, all right? But there are other fig trees there. And the fig is a very interesting tree. After winter, when it sheds its leaves and all that, all right, the moment summer comes near, springtime, it will put out leaves. And the Bible says that Jesus went to one of these fig trees looking for food, for fruit. But the Bible says the time of figs was not yet.
So, why did Jesus go to the fig tree having leaves, the Bible says, having leaves, but no fruit? And why did Jesus curse the fig tree if it's not the time for figs? He didn't curse it because he was angry. He didn't curse it because he lost his temper. He cursed it because there's an object lesson, all right? Fig tree, leaves, no fruit, sterile, he cursed it, why? Because he doesn't want people to be deceived. The first mention of fig leaves is Adam and Eve covering themself with fig leaves. So, fig leaf represents what? Self-righteousness. And when you're into self-righteousness, listen, faith cannot flow. Faith cannot flow. The law is self-righteousness and that's why in Galatians it tells us, "Yet the law is not of faith". The law is not of faith.
Listen, the law is not of faith, it's on performance. "The man who doeth them shall live in them". So, the moment you are in performance, your faith cannot work. If you are in speaking and believing, speaking and believing, speaking and believing, that's the spirit of faith that God wants you to have. Are you listening, people, amen? "We having the same spirit of faith. I believe and therefore I speak. I believe and therefore I speak". That's the kind of faith that God wants you to have, amen. Don't worry about corresponding actions, amen. When God saw darkness, God didn't say, "Wow, so dark". God said "Light be," amen. What was God's corresponding action? Nothing.
Many a times believing and speaking is enough, amen. The righteousness of faith speaks. The righteousness of the law doeth. Hmm? I said, the righteousness of faith speaks, righteousness of the law doeth. The law is not of faith. They are antithesis like water and oil, they cannot mix. If you are under self-righteousness under performance, your faith cannot flow, amen?
So Jesus taught us how to believe and speak. Believe, speak. So go back to Mark 11. "Then Peter, remembering, said to Jesus, 'Rabbi, look,' the next day. 'The fig tree which you cursed has withered away.' So Jesus answered and said to them, 'Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, "Be removed, be cast into the sea," and does not doubt in his heart, he believe that what he says happens will happen, it will happen.'"
The same spirit of faith we taught a few weeks ago, "I believe, and therefore I speak," amen? "I believe, I speak". In almost every language of the world, the devil has programmed death. It's the devil who has programmed this. You start saying, "I'm living for the piece of cake". We say, "I'm dying for the piece of cake". You know, the thing is that we don't realize, you know, this is not splitting hairs, okay, over expression. This is actually life and death. "I believe, therefore I speak". Jesus never spoke what he saw. He spoke what he wanted to see, all right?
You don't say, "Well, the goiter is getting bigger". You say, "I curse this goiter in Jesus's name. I see life flowing through my body. I see health and wholeness," amen? Amen? "I see my husband sitting beside me, not this guy. No, my husband". Don't raise your hands right now so no one will know, amen? Thank God I'm married. Just tell the Lord. Don't tell people, "I'm married," okay? Tell the Lord, "I am married, amen". "Lord, I'm married. Thank you, Lord, amen". Whatever you need, amen. Start believing, and start speaking. "Oh, I don't believe that one bit". Well, you just exercise that you believe, and you say you don't believe, it won't happen to you, amen? Are you with me, church?
In other words, you gotta curse the fig tree, the fig leaves that wither. You must self-righteousness before faith can operate. That's what Jesus was showing. It's a parable in action, amen, through this cursing of the fig tree. He cursed the fig tree having leaves, which we learned the first mention is self-righteousness. He cursed that, and then he says your faith can operate. Incidentally, I was studying this one day, and God brought me to revelation where it says, "The tree of life in heaven, the leaves are for healing". Have you read it before? So the difference is this: Self-righteousness produce sickness. The leaves of God's righteousness means what? Life and health. Mmm, hallelujah. Thank you, Jesus. Are you learning, church?
And notice that Jesus says the only criteria: don't doubt in your heart. Don't doubt, doubt. Say doubt. Now, this word doubt is not the usual word distazo in Greek. Like Jesus told Peter when he sank, Jesus says, "Why did you doubt"? It's not the usual Greek word. This word doubt is actually the word that means, it's diakrino in Greek. It's a very interesting word. It actually means making a difference. Jesus is saying, all right, when you, "You know when I speak to the fig tree? The same way I spoke to the fig tree, you're going to speak to the mountain, and it will obey you".
So even in the natural, people talk about talking to plants and all that, listen carefully. Jesus is saying, don't make a difference about talking to plants and speaking to your mountain. You say, "It's a difference. Plant, mountain". Jesus says, "Don't make a difference". Diakrino is all right, "Do not doubt. Doubt is make a difference. Do not make a difference". Some of you say, "I can pray for headaches, Pastor Prince". All right, see, "I pray for this brother". Then another one comes. "What do you have"? "I have aches". "Have you repented? Have you done this? Have you given up this? Have you given up that"?
You know, we make a difference. Jesus says in Matthew, "If you have faith, you will not only do that which is done to the fig tree, but also if you speak to the mountain. Don't make a difference". In fact, it's easier for God to heal cancer than headache. I'm not saying it's hard for him to heal a headache. In God's economy, it took five loaves and two fish to feed 5,000 men. When it came to 7,000 men, more men, it took only four loaves. In God's economy, the bigger the problem, the easier. So when someone comes to you and say, "Cancer," no problem. What's your problem? "Pimple". "Gotta use my faith".
If we start, not to make a difference, it will change. But more than that, let's go deeper into the root meaning of diakrino. The word dia, whenever you find the word dia, in Greek, it means through the channel of, by means of, dia. Krino is the word for judging, judge, condemn. So you put them together is the root word is there's condemnation in your heart. That's why you're making a difference. That's why you are doubting. That's why you're wavering. There's condemnation in your heart. Diakrino, through the means of condemnation. Now, I'm going to show you somewhere in Scripture where it brings all this together, okay?
In Romans 14, real quick, "Do you have faith"? And all the people said? Okay, one more time. "Do you have faith"? All those on the second floor? Third floor, near the heavens? Should have stronger faith, amen? You're the first to go in the Rapture. You know that, right? All right, "Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God". Now watch this: "Happy is he", referring to food, okay? Not drinking wine or drinking wine or eating meat and all that. So Paul finally says, "Do you have faith? Happy is he who does not condemn himself", watch this word, condemn. It's the word krino. So diakrino is actually condemning yourself. If you condemn yourself, you cannot have faith operating. Why? Because self-righteousness is in operation.
So there are people confessing the right things: "By his stripes, I'm healed," "God supplies my needs," but they are in condemnation. They are in fear. Many of them start doing that when they are desperate and a bit too late. You know, they are not establishing their spirit. They've not heard grace. They have heard about healing. They haven't heard about grace. You see, the Bible says, "Seek his righteousness, and all these things," provisions, supply, healing, will be added. You don't even have to release faith many a times for provision. It comes when you seek his righteousness.
You see, when you were a sinner, did you have to believe for sickness? When you were a sinner, did you have the belief for lack, for stress, depression? No, it came because you're a sinner, all right? Now that you're a believer, just seek his righteousness. Believe that he has made you righteous, and all the blessings happen to you automatically. They'll be added. I'll close with this very interesting, beautiful story that begins almost in a very depressive way, in a sad way, but ends up glorious, like the things that God does. It's a national disaster from the Old Testament that is unprecedented in Israel's history.
Year after year, God warned Israel not to worship other gods, not to worship idols. And they worshiped all kinds of idols under every green tree, on hills. They will even sacrifice their babies and their toddlers to their gods as a human sacrifice, and God sent Jeremiah. God sent Isaiah, and God warned them, "Stop doing this. Come back to God". And listen, you know, every other sin that Israel committed, God never disowned them from the land. Are you listening, people? Because they were still worshiping God. As long the burnt offering is going up, the blessing comes down. But the moment they exchanged gods, the moment, and in essence, today we are doing that when we exchange Christ's righteousness for self-righteousness. The moment they exchanged God, they stopped offering, and the blessing stopped.
And in 386 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar came in. The king of Babylon came in, and God allowed him to have victory over his people. He burned down the temple, took all, enslaved all the people of Judah, people of Israel, and brought the best of them into Babylon, leaving behind all the old, the invalid in the land. The very best, he took them with him into Babylon. It was the greatest disaster in the Old Testament. And God warned them already, but even though in the Old Testament, God in essence was putting men under probation before him as judge, God still provide the burnt offering, and God in his mercy, the same prophet Jeremiah that prophesied that this will happen, also said that this captivity is only for 70 years, all right?
Thirty-six after Nebu took the people of Israel captive, a King of Persia, by the name of Cyrus, conquered Babylon without even firing an arrow, all right? He took over the whole thing. It's amazing how it happened. God assisted him. God was the one that provided for him because Cyrus's name was mentioned by prophet Isaiah before the captivity. Even before Cyrus was born, God called him by name, and God said that "This Medo-Persian king is my anointed, Cyrus, my anointed". And guess what? When he took over, all right, Babylon, this Medo-Persian king, king of Persia, he told the Hebrews, when he found out that his name was in the Bible, when he found out he was called by name before he was even born, by one of the prophets of Israel, he told all the Hebrew people, "Go back and rebuild the temple, and I'll provide for you".
So that's the thing that happened at the end of 70 years, all right? Israel in captivity, started going back, all right, to ruins, just nothing but ruins, ashes. The temple has been razed to the ground, and the Bible tells us that in 535, B.C., after two years of returning to the land they did nothing about the temple, and then they started rebuilding the foundation of the temple. Now listen carefully because every one of you that wants to build a career, a ministry, a home, a family, all right, your marriage, whatever it is, understand this: The principle shared in God's Word is for today. It's all for us today.
He's telling us how to build, and more than anything else that we want to build, want to build the body of Christ. All around the world, when God looks down, God doesn't see the church A-B-C, X-Y-Z. God sees one church, actually, amen. And God wants us to be passionate. It's one thing that, if you look at what's happening in the world, in the news, in the media, and all that, they're all happening, all right, because of these three reasons: Number one, Christ. God is preparing for his Son to return, all right? Some things are happening from the devil, but God is turning it out for our good, okay? Around the world today, everything's happening because of Jesus. Number two, the church, the body of Christ, amen. The church is not peripheral to the world.
The world is peripheral to the church. Don't think of your business as central, and you go to church on Sundays on the side. No, the church, the body of Christ, is central. Everything, the depository of heaven is in the church, amen. The fullness of God's blessing is in the church. So everything that's happening around the world is, number two, is the church, and number three, God's chosen nation, Israel. Everything, that's why they are in the news all the time, okay? So if you're building a career, make sure it's linked to the church. Make sure it's to build the house of God, and that's why this ministry here, we are not insular. We are not looking inward. We are looking to bless the entire world.
For some reason, God saw fit to look at this red dot in Southeast Asia, and in this red dot, just a red dot, there is a small dot called New Creation Church, and in this small dot within the red dot, there is a small dot that is minuscule, a guy called Joseph Prince that people don't understand why in the world would God want to use him, and he agrees. And God says, "From here, my Gospel will go forth to the four corners of the earth". You say, "But Pastor Prince, why"? I don't know why. It's called grace. Grace, we're not pushing with arm of flesh. We're not doing anything, all right? I mean, it's like God to choose the weak and small things.
If you say, "Well, Pastor Prince, I see you are weak," you are right. You don't know how you are right, amen. It's got nothing to do with who we are, amen. This beautiful place, do we deserve it? No, it's called unearned, undeserved favor. You can live in the realm of deserved favor if you want, but I will live in the realm of undeserved favor. Amen, church, unmerited favor. So what happened, as they came back, and two years after they came back, they woke up and said, "Hey, don't forget the purpose for which the king sent us back, to rebuild the temple".
So this is what happened. In Ezra chapter 3, "Now in the second month of the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, Zerubbabel", Zerubbabel, by the way, he's the prince of the house of Judah. By the way, you'll find his name in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. He's the descendant of David, King David, and you'll find his name mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, all right, Zerubbabel. He went back as a prince of the house of Judah. He became the governor of the work. He's the governor of Judah, okay? Came back as the governor of Judah. Then "Jeshua, the son of Jozadak", now, Jeshua, the other leader, became the high priest of this remnant that returned.
Church, these two leaders represents our Lord Jesus. Number one, kingly reign, Zerubbabel from the house of Judah, kingly line, kingly leadership. Then we have Joshua, the high priest, a type of Christ, the priesthood, together, king-priest. Remember that a priest of the Old Testament, they were not king-priest. They can look at the leper to see if he is healed, and then offer the offerings. If he's not, he has to go back outside the camp. They have no power to cleanse the leprosy. They are just examiners. They just look to see if they are already healed. So no one was healed, amen? Naaman wasn't a Jew, by the way. I'm talking about Jews, until Jesus came.
But notice Jesus. Not only he looks at the leper and examines him as a priest, Jesus has the kingly authority to speak, "Be clean," and the leper was cleansed. Isn't it wonderful, you look at the genealogy of Jesus. Everything goes back to King David. Actually, his mother, her line goes all the way to King David from the son, Nathan, and then Joseph, his stepfather, all right, goes all the way back to Solomon. So Jesus has a double claim on the throne of David, and yet this king walked down the mountain, walked by the shores of Galilee, using his kingly authority, because where the word of a king is, there is power. And how does he use it? For his own personal gain? "Be clean". "Rise up and walk". "Lazarus, come forth". "I have compassion on them". This King used his power to bless all of us, hallelujah.
So Zerubbabel and Joshua together form the leadership of the land all right? Kingly rule, priestly rule, okay? Just remember "Zorro," and Joshua. So they started work, all right? They began work and appointed the Levites from 20 years old and above to oversee the work of the house of Lord. So they started work. And always remember, when you are building the house of God, the devil will not try to leave you alone. How many understand that? Okay, next chapter. "Then the people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah".
Mm-hmm, whenever you are building God's house, whatever it is you're building for his glory, the devil will make sure there's opposition. The opposition is a great indicator that you are doing something that is significant and powerful. Although you don't like the opposition, be grateful that you are not someone the devil ignores. Are you listening, people? So they're building God's temple. The devil is jealous, and "The people of the land tried to discourage the people. They troubled them in building, and they hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, until the reign of Darius king of Persia. In the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem".
Times have not changed, huh? We are still having the same problems isn't it, today? Except that writing is no more so slow. It's lightning fast. We have the social media. We have poison e-mails. The enemy's device are still the same. And guess what happened? The work effectively, the work stopped, the work of building stopped. You know how long it stopped? Twelve years. Now, God never told them to stop. During this time, what happened to Zerubbabel, the leader? What happened to Joshua, the high priest? They are leaders of the land. We don't hear of them. Whatever it is, God's people became discouraged. They allowed this accusation to come in. For 12 years, the work was in abeyance. Nothing was done. At the end of 12 years, God raised up two prophets by the names of Haggai and Zechariah.
By the way, your book of Ezra is before Job and Psalms, you know? It's after 2 Chronicles, in your Bible, and you find Haggai is towards the end of the Old Testament, and Zechariah, actually, Haggai and Zechariah should be in the book of Ezra. They are contemporaries of that time. So God raised these two young men, by the way, they are very young prophets. In fact, Zechariah was called naar in Hebrew, which means a teenager. A teenage prophet is indicative of the Benjamin generation in these end times. Nothing to do with age. All that is telling us a youthful generation will arise. There are people who were 30, and they're already old, complaining, complaining, complaining.
Now, those who are 80, 70, and they are young in spirit, it's refreshing to be around them. It's nothing to do with the age. It's a picture of the Benjamin generation. Haggai was young, and Zechariah was younger still, and God raised these two prophets because the work was not done. You know what Haggai did? In Haggai chapter 1, you'll find, we got time. I'mma share it with you real quick. Haggai went to the people and said, "Hey, guys! Is it time for you to live in ceiled houses", or paneled houses? In those days, when they are building God's temple, they would all live in tents. "Ceiled houses" means they now have a roof. They have a ceiling. They are no more having the pilgrim character of just, you know, building a tent for the house of God. Make sure the house of God is built first. God's house is not even built. Only the foundation is laid, and they stopped the work, and they now have ceiling houses.
So Haggai says, "What is this? You are living in ceiled houses, and you are saying, 'The time to build God's house has not yet come'? 'It's not time to build the Lord's house'"? And Haggai says, "Look at your life, what is happening. You drink, and you're not quenched. You eat, and you're not full. You earn wages, and you earn it to put in the bag full of holes". Guys, he says because God's house is neglected. "Seek ye first God's kingdom, and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you". So that was Haggai, all right?
What about the teenage prophet Zechariah? He has another book devoted to him, all right, the book of Zechariah. God showed him what really happened. Would you like to see it? What happened to these two leaders, Zerubbabel and Joshua, the high priest? The governor and the high priest? God showed Zechariah. Chapter 3 of Zechariah, "Then God showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him". For the first time, we see a character we don't see. We see by the writing, the poisoned writing. We hear about the opposition, the hired counselors, and all the persecution. We don't hear of Satan, but he was working behind the scenes, and how was he working?
Remember the name Satan, "Ha Satan" in Hebrew? "The one who accuses". And look at Joshua, the high priest. What happened to him? All right, he was, "Satan was standing at Joshua the high priest's hand to oppose him. And the Lord said to Satan, 'The Lord rebuke you, Satan. The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you. Is this not a brand'", referring to Joshua, "'plucked from the fire?' Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel".
Now we have an insight why the work stopped, why the people were discouraged, why the opposition succeeded. Because, as the leader goes, so goes the nation. As the leader goes, so goes the family. As the leader goes, so goes the company, the corporation, whatever it is. Everything rise and fall based on leadership, and the leadership was under condemnation. Joshua was under condemnation, evidenced by the filthy robes. Remember, when condemnation comes, what stops? Grace stops. The social outcasts could receive from Jesus. Even prostitutes, harlots, if they have a disease, they touch Jesus. They are healed. Even lepers, when they come in contact with Jesus, they are healed. There's only one group of people that cannot be healed, cannot receive from God's miracles - the Pharisees. Why? Self-righteousness.
There is no spiritual wickedness like self-righteousness. It is the mother of all sins. This attitude of "Don't come near me. I'm holier than thou", all right, is the height of self-righteousness. The Pharisees were the only ones that cannot receive from Jesus. Christ was of no effect to them. Why? Because they say, in effect, "I have my own righteousness. I fast twice a week. I do this. I do that". So Christ is of no effect. And they always self-condemn. You know how I know? Self-condemned people condemn other people a lot, all right? Those who love best are loved the best, okay? Understand? If you think God is condemning you, then you will condemn others.
See, always on this: either you feel elated because you felt you kept the law, or you are depressed because you broke it, but your life is always up, down, up, condemn other people, down, don't let people know, up, down, up, down. I here, I here, I, I, I, I, I. It's not about Christ. "I" is very painful to think about, huh? When you think about Christ, oh, that's why, during worship, people get healed. People are able to receive because they are looking at the one who is altogether lovely. If he is your righteousness, it behooves you to find out all you can about who he is, all his titles, all that he has. Look into every Scripture and find Jesus there because today Jesus is your new self. Jesus is your identity. Jesus is how God blesses you. It's in your vested interest to see Jesus in all the Scriptures. It's all about Jesus, and that's how Jesus taught the Bible in the Emmaus Road.
Let me bring this to a close. "You've been closing a few times, bro". Okay, finally, my brethren. "So Joshua was clothed with filthy garments". He was under condemnation. And we can blame the government. We can blame the media. We can blame all this, but God is saying, "No, the problem lies with us". If we allow ourself to come under condemnation, in effect, we are saying, "Christ, I don't need you because I have my own self-righteousness," which is evidenced by condemnation. Are you listening, people? And the moment you are condemned, favor stops. Grace stops. Huh? The opposition succeeds.
All right, so what's the solution? Next verse, "Then God answered and spoke to those who stood before him, saying, 'Take away the filthy garments from him.' And to him, to Joshua, God said, 'See, I have removed your iniquity". Past tense. "I have, look at it. See, see this, Joshua, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I'll clothe you with rich robes". It's called a robe of righteousness. And I'm telling you in a voice clear as crystal right now, in Jesus's name, God says, "See? I have removed your sins". The church is saying, "We are to walk in holiness. We are to walk in holiness".
What the people need to hear is that "See, I have removed your sins," because the guy that was lowered down, sick of the palsy, they broke the roof to lower him down to Jesus. He has no power to walk until Jesus said, "Son, your sins are forgiven you," and that empowered him to walk in holiness, walk in power. Unless you know your sins are forgiven and know it clearly, you have no power to walk. You know it like in haphazard way, your walk is haphazard, all right? You know in the clear way, have a strong walk. So we're not promoting something that people say, "Well, you know, grace and holiness don't mix". No, grace is the power to true holiness. That's Zechariah chapter 3.
God showed this young teenage prophet what really happened behind the scene. But there was another leader, right? Zorro, Zerubbabel, the governor, what happened to him? Next chapter is chapter 4. God showed this prophet, Zechariah, a menorah, the lamp stand. I won't go into the lamp stand. Another time, we'll go through it. "Then he asked the angel who talked with him, saying, 'What are these, my lord?' The angel who talked with me answered and said to me, 'Do you not know what these are?' And I said, 'No, my lord.'" Listen, the angel is about to show Zechariah behind the scenes about Zerubbabel now. Let's follow.
Next verse, "So he answered and said to me, 'This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit," says the Lord of hosts.'" Listen, the word "might" can refer to financial might. It is the same word, "power to get wealth". It's the same word, "wealth" here, "chayil," in Hebrew. It is not financial might. It's not by power. It's not the connections you have. It is not by power, your human performance, your human smartness, smarts. It's not my all this. "It's by my Spirit. When I breathe on you the unmerited favor, things fall into place". "So you know what, Zerubbabel"? God is saying, "You are discouraged. You think that 'I don't have the financial might.'"
This remnant, they are poor people that returned from captivity. They don't even have time to build their wealth. You know, "I have nothing, no resources to work with". And God is saying, "Zerubbabel, it's not by might. It's not by your power. It's by my Spirit". You have before you a great, daunting task like a mountain. "Who are you", say this, Zerubbabel, "Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain". And how will this happen? "And he shall bring forth the capstone", you know what's a capstone? It's the final piece of the building, which means the building is finished. "You will finish the work with shouts of", oh, come on, "shouts of", you know how my spirit works? Grace.
When you shout to your mountain "grace," before you, you'll become a plain. So supposing your name is Ling Pang Sun, you will say, "Who are you, O great mountain? Before Ling Pang Sun you shall become a plain". And how does it happen? You shout to your problem. You shout, "Grace, grace". Shout to that sickness, "Grace, grace," amen. I'm not expecting to be healed because I do this, I do that, and I do this. I'm expecting to be healed because Jesus took this disease from me, amen. "Grace, grace," to the sickness. "Grace, grace," to the financial lack. Sometimes you don't have time to pray, only time to shout, "Jesus of grace". You don't have time to say, "Oh, Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. I'm about to face an accident here, Lord". I'm telling you, church, when you say, "Grace," your eyes is on God's unmerited, undeserved favor. The mountain that is so big will become a plain, amen?
So God restored both Zerubbabel, and God restored Joshua, and they rose up. Do you know when the building was completed? The same year Zechariah prophesied to both the leaders. It was done so quick because the king at that time, all of the sudden, they had favor with the king. Remember this? They are back now in righteousness consciousness. They are back to the fact that Christ is their righteousness. Guess what happened? Amen, Joshua is now conscious of the rich robes of righteousness he's wearing that is not of his own making but of God's providing. The moment he's conscious of that, they had favor with the king, and the king commanded that all the resources (at this time, it's Artaxerxes and Darius) and all the resources will be provided for the building of the temple, and it's a command from the king, "Let it be done speedily".
The moment they got their hearts right, all right, to be established in what Christ has done, not what they have done, favor flowed, influence flowed, grace flowed, and they finished the entire building in the same year. Ezra 6, "So the elders of the Jews built, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo". "They prospered through the prophesying of Haggai and Zechariah". When you come to church every Sunday and your pastor is preaching and prophesying from the pulpit, you will prosper. Always remember, you prophesy through words spoken under the influence and anointing of the Holy Spirit. You prosper through the prophesying, through the preaching ministry.
When you are sick, what you do? Listen, and listen to the word of grace. When you are suffering, what do you do? Listen, and listen to the word of grace. You're feeling down, feeling depressed, all right? Listen, don't perform your way out of it. Listen your way out of the depression, amen? "And they prospered through prophesying of Haggai and Zechariah". And I'm just in my introduction. God bless all of you. Give him praise, church, hallelujah, hallelujah. Come on, let's hear the name. Let's hear that name. Amen. He's altogether lovely.
My friend, if a criminal is brought before a judge, and this criminal is guilty of the most abominable crimes, he's totally abhorrent. Society shuns this kind of criminal, and now he's caught. He's standing before the judge. Now, if the judge has some love in his heart for the criminal, we'll call that abnormal. This is not right, but more than that, if the judge says, "Yes, he's done heinous crimes, but I'm gonna take his place, and I'll give him my home, my inheritance, and everything I have," what would you think of such a judge?
You will say, "Pastor Prince, not in this world, no". And you are right. But do you know that's how God loved us? That God loved us when we were in our sins, in our heinous crimes, and nothing is more heinous than self-righteousness. We, who have nothing, make ourselves something when Jesus, with everything, made himself nothing. Friend, if you come to a place and say, "God, I know now I'm a sinner. No use trying. Everything I produce will end up finally in discharge of source and all kinds of uncleanness. I admit I'm a sinner". God will smile at you, and God says, "No problem. I am your justifier. My Son died for sinners. You qualify".
So all across this place, all those that are watching at this time, this Word comes from heaven to you. Jesus says, "Come unto me, all you that labor, labor in self-righteousness, heavy laden with guilt and condemnation. Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden. I will give you rest. I'll give you rest, rest of conscience". For the rest of your life, you'll have the rest of God if you'll just say, "Jesus, be my righteousness, for I have none of my own". So all across this place, everywhere that's watching this, you say, "Pastor Prince, pray for me". Say this prayer right now from your heart. Say it from your heart. Say:
Heavenly Father, I believe you love me, and you saw me in my sins, and you cared for me even though I didn't care about my own life, lost, blind, but you loved me, and you sent your Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for all my sins. His precious blood washes me whiter than snow. Thank you, Father, that you have made Jesus my righteousness, and I'm righteous forever because Jesus himself is my righteousness. Jesus is my Lord, and you raised him from the dead to the forevermore. He is my High Priest and my Shepherd. I am blessed, greatly blessed, highly favored, and deeply loved, in Jesus's name. And all the people said, "Amen and amen and amen. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord".
Lift your hands all across this place. As we praise, this coming week, remember, it's like a blank sheet. God is not saying, "'Whatever will be, will be,' don't have this attitude, but speak my grace into it. Speak my grace into your week". Let's look at this week and shout, "Grace, grace. Grace, grace". Monday, all the way to Sunday, this coming week, "Grace, grace". We're the only people in the world that will cry, "Grace, grace". The people of the world knows nothing about this grace. They trust in horses and chariots, in the legs of men, and human power and smugness. They trust in might, they trust in power, but you and your family, you trust the grace of God for a long life, health, prosperity, an intimate walk with God, you trust God's grace for it.
So the Lord bless you with the blessings of father Abraham, you and your families, and the blessings of Deuteronomy 28. The Lord make his face shine on you. Throughout this week, may you walk in the consciousness of his smile on you, and the Lord favors you. May you find yourself at the right place at the right time. The Lord preserve and protect you and your loved ones from all evil, from every infection, from every sickness, from every disease, from evil people, from all the powers of darkness, and from the power of the evil one, through the blood of his Son. The Lord smile on you and grant you and your families his peace, amen and amen. God bless all of you folks. Enjoy this week, and remember, his grace will see you through. God bless you.