< Matthew 13:1-9 >
�On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea.And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: �Behold, a sower went out to sow.And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them.Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth.But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.He who has ears to hear, let him hear!��
Today�s Word of God comes from Jesus?parable of a sower. I would like to explain this passage by focusing its message on the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
There comes a series of parables in Matthew 13. The parables that our Lord told explained the spiritual realm by illustrating it with practical physical matters, so that it may be easier for people to understand. With His parables, Our Lord, in other words, mainly explained the mysteries of His Kingdom in connection with the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
In today�s Scripture passage, four kinds of fields are mentioned: the wayside, the stony places, the thorny field, and the good ground. The parable says that a sower went out to sow, and that the seeds fell upon these four kinds of field.
The First Thing to Consider Is the Seed That Fell by the Wayside
What does it mean when it says here that some seed fell by the wayside? This means that the Word of God fell on the hearts of the religionists, and that God�s gospel Word of the water and the Spirit has become utterly insignificant for all the religionists of the world.
People worship the gods of their own making. They have made gods, but they have come to be subjected to such man-made gods later. Countless people living in this world are worshipping the objects of their idolatry that they themselves have made. We call this weird realm of human culture �religion.?
Especially in ancient Eastern culture, pantheism is the main institutionalized religious form. Those who hold this belief turn everything into the objects of their worship on their own, and so every creature can be a deity under this belief. In fact, such phenomena can be found in almost all primitive cultures.
Friedrich Nietzsche insisted that the origin of religion was �the fear of death.?As far as the realm of religion is concerned, his assertion seems right. Humans have made whatever they fear as their gods. Whatever is big, strong, mystical, or long lasting could be made a god by the mortal human beings. In other words, they just take whatever looks great or mysterious to them as the object of their worship. Sometimes, animals or plants are given various significances, and they are frequently considered to be worthy of worship. So even a large boulder can become one�s object of worship, not to mention big trees, the sun, the ocean, or anything else that God ever created.
This is because humans were created to worship God, their Creator. But after the fall of Adam, they were separated from God and lost the knowledge of how to worship Him properly. Because all human beings have been separated from God, they all have a desire to rely on something supernatural, and to return to God. This is why when they see the sun, they believe in it as the object of their worship, and they make their wishes on it. And some people also believe in the ocean as a divine object. When tidal waves and storms ravage in the seas, people think that the god of the ocean is angry, and so they take it as the object of their adulation and worship it.
All things in the entire universe are no more than the creation of God�s making. Yet despite this, people have not ceased to take every creature as the object of their worship and serve it, regardless of what age they are living in. We can all realize from this just how feeble and corrupt man�s thoughts are. It is written in Romans 1:21-23, �Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.?/i>
Because people�s minds are so confused by religion, they remain unable to draw any benefit for their souls from the God-sown Word of Truth. The Word of life that fell by the wayside brought no benefit to them. Before we met Jesus Christ, we, too, had taken everything as the object of our idolatry and practiced this idolatry. People are capable of taking anything as the object of their worship and place their faith in it, whatever it may be, as long as they think that it would benefit their flesh. It is because these superstitious people have been steeped deep in their own religious beliefs that they consider everything as the object of their worship.
Even today, there are nations full of such superstitious religions, and one of them is Mongolia. I actually had a mission trip to this country. In my travel there, I visited a professor�s home, and there I saw a portrait of the crucified Jesus on one wall, and on the other wall I saw another portrait of Buddha meditating. In other words, the same house had both a portrait of Jesus and a portrait of Buddha hung on its walls. This man was not an uneducated man; on the contrary, he was an intellectual who taught at a university as a professor. Yet despite this, he believed in both Christianity and Buddhism. This episode illustrates just how deeply so many of today�s people are steeped in the culture of idolatry.
The Seed That Fell on Stony Places
Continuing with His parable, our Lord said that the second batch of seeds fell on stony places. Our Lord said, �Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth.But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.?/i>
A field must have plentiful soil. Seeds fall on stony places cannot take roots deep in the ground because of the stones, and will ultimately wither away in no time for the buds cannot be nourished by their roots. Therefore, what our Lord found problematic with the second field is stones. The stones that were in this field were great obstacles for the seeds to grow.
Those of us who do not recognize that they were the seeds of evildoers will all end up like this. When the seed of life is sown in the field of our hearts, we must accept the Word of God, acknowledge the truthfulness of this Word, and thereby be saved from all our sins. However, that the seeds fell on stony places means that the gospel of the water and the Spirit fell on the hearts of those who are filled with their own carnal thoughts. This passage tells us that what leads our souls to death is our carnal thought that prevent the Word of God from planting its roots deep into our hearts. Therefore, as there is no depth of earth, they end up withering away.
It is difficult for you and I to reach an understanding of our fundamental nature. We are prone to be ignorant of who we really are. It is very hard for us to realize that we are �a brood of evildoers?(Isaiah 1:4). The Lord said that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5). Put differently, nothing from our thoughts has any worth at all. The seeds that fall on stony places show us that those who fail to admit their true selves cannot be delivered from their sins in the end, for they cannot accept these seeds deep into their hearts due to their ignorance of their true selves.
People are inclined to trust in and rely on their own thoughts (reason) than in the Word of God, rather than placing their fundamental faith and trust in God�s Word. They assign more weight to their own religious and personal experiences than to believing in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit. Before God, to rely on our own thoughts constitutes the sin of standing against Him. If people want the seeds of the gospel of the water and the Spirit to be sown in the field of their hearts, they must honestly admit their evil and hideous selves before the Word and accept the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit into their hearts.
Even among us, the born-again, there are many who don�t deny their own thoughts that stand against God�s Words. We must acknowledge the reality of our thoughts. We can then break and cast them aside from our hearts and come to place our faith more on the Word of God.
This passage also reminds us what our spiritual condition had been at that time when we first heard the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit. At that time, most of us had the hearts of stony places. We didn�t know enough what evil beings we were. And we had our own righteousness and standards instead. But, once we admitted our sinful nature and confessed our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we came to know gradually how evil we were. However, our hearts?condition can likewise be stony places even after the Lord gave us the gospel of the water and the Spirit, if we have not broken our hearts?righteousness.
Now, as the way for you and I to live, we must fully acknowledge our true sinful selves and accept the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit into our hearts by believing in it. However, if we don�t admit that we are fundamentally the brood of evildoers, it is useless even if the gospel of the water and the Spirit comes to us. In other words, we must realize that we are piles of sin, and that we are sinners bound to hell; and we must hold onto the gospel of the water and the Spirit by faith to be saved from all our sins.
We need to once again reflect upon how our hearts were when we first believed in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit. As I said before, many of us didn�t know enough what evil beings we were when we first met the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Among the believers in the gospel of the water and the Sprit, there are many who consider themselves to have innocent and good hearts, and yet they come to be astonished at their evil aspects and fall into despair whenever they discover this in time. Even so, they would have been safe had they kept on holding onto the gospel power of the water and the Spirit by faith.
But because they did not realize their own evilness and did not fully recognize the gospel power of the water and the Spirit from the very beginning, they couldn�t receive the remission of sin. Because they thought that their own righteousness was better than the power of the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by the Lord, they did not surrender themselves to the righteousness of this gospel. Those who do not know their own evilness hold themselves to be more righteous than the Lord, and so they cannot follow Him. That�s why they became the nominal Christians whose faith cannot be approved by God.
When a farmer plows his field deeply, the stones in the soil expose themselves on earth. Likewise, a gospel preacher must first plow the field of people�s hearts deeply with God�s Word in order to let them know how evil they are. Everyone can admit himself as a seed of evildoer only when he is taught what the Bible says about his fundamental nature. If preachers fail to let people know their evilness, it is then of no use to preach them the gospel of the water and the Spirit. If so, they are unable to admit that the salvation of our Lord is more powerful than their own wickedness. This is why they are unable to discover their own evilness and ultimately end up with their dead faith.
Therefore, a sower must first plow the field of the heart sufficiently, and then sow the seeds of the gospel of salvation in these plowed hearts. Paul said, �But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more?(Romans 5:20). What does this passage mean? This means that one comes to realize God�s grace to the extent that he knows about his evilness. Therefore, if people acknowledge this gospel without knowing their wickedness nor admitting it, the true gospel will be turned into nothing in their hearts.
Therefore, all of us must admit that we could not avoid but sin from the day of we were born to the day we die. Is this not the case? From the moment we were born in this world, we inherited sin and have been sinning ever since then.
Yet despite this, thanks to the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we can still say before God that we have no sin by faith. This is because we have clearly realized our own wickedness first, and along with this realization, we have recognized that the gospel power of our Lord is far greater than our own evilness. Even now, those who know their own wickedness can be clothed in the God-given remission of sin by placing their faith in the gospel power of the water and the Spirit. As such, everyone who believes in Jesus as his Savior must first admit that his true self is fundamentally wicked, insufficient, and unclean, and then he must always acknowledge the power of the gospel Truth.
We must never forget that the evilest of all is he who does not admit his wicked self before God, flaunts his own righteousness, and therefore, does not believe in the gospel Truth of salvation. Everyone must first admit all his wickedness and acknowledge himself as a pile of sin and a seed of evildoer from the moment he believes in Jesus.
Before we first heard the Truth of atonement that has enabled us to be remitted from all our wickedness and sins, we had to admit our hideous selves and all our sins. But, because most people failed do so, and did not place their faith in the love and salvation of God, they could not but fail to attain their salvation. In other words, anyone who does not admit to God that he is a pile of sin eventually come to reject his salvation, hold onto his own goodness, and ultimately fail to trust in the righteousness of our Lord and to follow it.
If we really want to have faith in the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit, we must first admit to God that we are piles of sin, and place our faith in this powerful gospel that declares all our sins have been blotted out through the baptism and the bloodshed of the Lord.
However, there are many people who, despite professing to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, are only too disappointed when they see their sinful selves being revealed after believing in Jesus. In fact, we should give our thanks whenever we see our insufficiencies for the gospel power that has blotted out even such sins.
Those who do not acknowledge that their wickedness has all been remitted away by the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by the Lord are unable to thank God for His righteousness and instead end up drifting away from Him. This means that they are unable to be freed from their sins, for they do not admit their evil selves, nor do they truly believe in the powerful gospel Word of the water and the Spirit. This is why some people begin to doubt their own salvation, thinking to themselves, �I can�t possibly be a saint. Sure, I believe in Jesus, but this does not mean that I have been saved from my sins.? Burdened by the weight of their sins, they end up suffocating themselves.
Such people are actually practicing wickedness before God by not believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The evilest deed of all before God is to fail to admit one�s own wickedness and to refuse to wholeheartedly believe in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit given by the Lord. This is what constitutes the greatest sin before God.
Such people place more faith in the uprightness of their own thoughts than in the gospel power of the water and the Spirit. We must all realize that all those in this world, who fail to acknowledge this true gospel until the end and therefore eventually abandon it, are actually standing against the goodness of God with the goodness of their own hearts. Consequently, there is no way for them to be freed from all their sins.
This is why we must always admit the wickedness of our flesh by placing our faith in the written Word of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Only then is the righteousness of God revealed in even greater exaltation, and only then can we reveal His glory.
If you did not properly understand your own evilness from the very beginning when you first heard the gospel of the water and the Spirit, you must reach this understanding even now and believe in the power of God�s gospel on this recognition. Put differently, you have to plow the field of your hearts even from now on, and accept the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit with your humble hearts that recognize your own evilness to the full extent.
To know the gospel of the water and the Spirit only superficially and to understand the real Truth of salvation only theoretically can only mean that you still have not admitted your hideous selves. But it is not too late even yet. Now, by truthfully recognizing your evilness and by believing in the true Word of the water and the Spirit, you must be delivered from all your sins. Having thus been reached your deliverance, whenever your evil selves are revealed, by placing your faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, you can give even more thanks and glory to God.
Whenever we recognize that we have committed sin, we have to confess our evilness before God and give thanks to Him by reaffirming the gospel Truth in our hearts. Just like the confession of David, we must all confess, �I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Against You, You only, have I sinned. But, You have blotted out even this sin with the gospel of the water and the Spirit.?Confessing our sins like this, we must come before God with our faith in the beautiful gospel. If we believe in the gospel power of the water and the Spirit, we can have the faith that can perfectly save us from all our sins.
We must always acknowledge the God�s gospel Word of the water and the Spirit in our lives. We must all realize that such a life is the kind of life that glorifies God. We must also know that it is when we admit our evil selves and accept God�s Word of salvation into our hearts that we can be saved from all our sins.
How is everyone saved from all his wickedness? By reaffirming our faith in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit that we can be saved from all our sins and wickedness. Everyone must plow the field of his heart first, know his own evilness by turning it over, and then believe in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit. It is because people have no faith that acknowledges the Word of God, even as they have such evilness, that they end up standing against God and drifting away from Him.
Those who are burdened by their own sins are of those whose hearts have no faith in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit. All of us must really examine what the Word of God has told us, and we must all acknowledge the Truth of this Word of God itself just as it is written.
What kind of seed did our Lord sow in our hearts? He sowed the seed of His Word, the gospel of the water and the Spirit, which has washed away our hearts?wickedness and sins. Through this gospel Truth, the Lord has taught us how sin came into our hearts, how grave sinners we are, and to what extent He has blotted out our sins with this gospel.
Whenever we realize our evilness in our lives, we must first ruminate on the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit in depth, and we must believe in it. When we truthfully believe that God has washed away all the sins that we have committed out of the wickedness of our hearts and with our acts, we will surely be saved.
Our Lord is telling us clearly here that when the sower sowed his seeds, some fell on stony places. �Stony places?here imply the hearts of those who do not recognize their evilness and sinfulness. All of us are a brood of evildoers, but not many of us recognize this truth. As the Lord said, �Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance? (Mark 2:17), it is only those who come to admit their sinfulness and evilness that can receive the remission of sin. Anyone who acknowledges his evilness to the full extent and accepts the gospel of the water and the Spirit as his salvation can receive the remission of all his sins.
However, most of you might not have been able to reach your real self-recognition when you first heard of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. This is why the power of this true gospel does not work strongly in your hearts, even though you believe in it somehow. This is why the powerful gospel ends up as a mere knowledge in your hearts. If your spiritual state is like this, even now, you must admit your evilness and believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit all over again. If you realized your own wickedness in your lives even after a long time went by since the first time you heard the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then all that you have to do is reaffirm your faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit on the basis of your real self-recognition.
The Third Field of Thorns
The third field is a field of thorns. What is the spiritual meaning of this field of thorns? It refers to the evil hearts that lust after this world. Jesus is telling us that while those who have such hearts acknowledge that the gospel of the water and the Spirit is right, their faith is so weak that they may forsake the true gospel if it seems to be an obstacle to their worldly success. The faith of those who have such lusts is such that they end up renouncing their effort to follow the Lord because of their lust to possess the things of this world. They are the ones who are serving two masters. Their faith is of the unclean animals that do not have cloven hooves (Leviticus 11:2-8). Such people�s hearts have more desire to live for their lust than faith in the Word of God, and as a result, they end up renouncing their faith in the righteousness of God.
The seeds that fall among thorns do sprout, at least at the beginning. But the thorns cover them up, blocking them from the sun and killing them off. This refers to those who, because of their lust for this world, end up renouncing their faith in the Word of God and leave Him.
Even though we have become righteous, how could our hearts not love this world? This is more than possible for all of us. But still, if we have this faith that enabled us to be baptized into Jesus Christ, die with Him and be resurrected with Him, and only if we have this faith, we can realize that such lusts of the flesh are ultimately futile, and by this faith, we can dwell and live in the real Truth. In other words, though we cannot avoid but continue to live in our flesh, we must still live by our spiritual faith.
However, those who do not have this true faith that enables them to die with Jesus Christ and live with Him will end up dying chocked under the weight of their lust of the flesh. Their hearts that love this world, in other words, will block their love for the Lord, and will ultimately let their souls die. This is why you must have the faith that enables you to die with Jesus Christ and live with Him. And you can sustain such faith only when you hold onto the gospel of the water and the Spirit wholeheartedly.
In the end, the three fields of the four fields that the Lord spoke of tell us that those whose hearts are like these fields are all bound to fail, for they all stick only to their own righteousness, thoughts, and lusts. But still, what we need to realize here is that there is another field that can yield a crop by a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
The Fourth Field of Good Ground
What kind of field do you think is the good field that today�s Scripture passage speaks of? Jesus said that when the seeds of life fell on a good field, they yielded a crop by a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
Does this then mean that whether one would be a good field or a bad field was already determined from his birth? No. It is not the case that someone is born as a good field, while someone else is born as a stony field or a thorny field.
The good field that the Bible speaks of refers to the hearts of those who have faith in His Word. They couldn�t have such faith from their birth. Rather, they came to have strong faith in the true gospel by recognizing that they had fundamentally been wayside fields, as well as stony fields and thorny fields. They came to have their hearts washed from all their wickedness by placing their faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
What we need to realize is that everyone is born into this world as a sinner and dies as a sinner. Of course, there might be marginal differences in each individual�s behavior patterns, but as far as their fundamental nature is concerned, humans are all the same, in that everyone could not avoid but be born as a wayside field, a stony field, and a thorny field. Therefore, everyone was born as a sinner, and as such, everyone must be born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
�It is absolutely indispensable for you to realize that only those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit can become good fields. Put differently, it is when we place our faith in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit that we can become good fields. A good field is a heart that desires to follow God by trusting in the His Word.
The Lord has blotted out all our sins once for all, and we have become God�s children by believing in the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit. However, some people among us sometimes doubt their salvation, thinking that they have not been saved from all their sins. They can profess their faith in the true gospel, God�s Church, and their being His children, but once the waves of doubt beat upon their weak faith, they come to think that they are not really God�s own people, nor the righteous.
Among those who have come into God�s Church, if anyone thinks like this and doubts his own salvation from sin, even as he heard the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit preached by God�s Church, then this can only mean that he still has many problems with his faith. It is no exaggeration to say that this person is yet to become a good field, and that he still belongs to either a stony field or a thorny field. This is because he did not first admitted his evilness before he placed his faith in the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit.
The salvation from one�s sins depends on whether one acknowledges his wickedness and then believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. His remission of sin is contingent upon this. But if someone thinks, �I can�t say to this anyone, but I think there is something wrong with my salvation,?then this person may very well have still remained as a stony field. This is why he must first admit his own wickedness to the full extent.
Do you know when we can be saved from all our sins? It is when we acknowledge our wickedness and wholeheartedly hold onto the God-given gospel Word of the water and the Spirit that we can be delivered from all our sins. When we believe in the Word of God with our hearts and confess them with our lips, we can then be righteous and receive our salvation. If anyone believes in the Word of God with all his heart, he will admit all his wickedness and stick to the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and he will therefore be saved from all his sins.
Before, we had lived only religious lives, and so we had not even realized our true selves, that we were wicked. We had not realized that we were all heading straight to hell in accordance to the Law of God. Therefore, we had to first acknowledge, without fail, this Law of God that declares the wages of sin to be death, and place our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit to be saved from all our sins.
We all need to confess our weaknesses before God:
�Lord, I had been truly wicked and indescribably corrupt. Before, I had led only a religious life, believing in anything as my god. I had so much lust for this world; my flesh itself was so wicked that I just could not follow You, and my heart was truly filled with piles of unrevealed sins. I was so wicked that I could not even tolerate my own evilness. But despite this, Lord, You came to this earth incarnated in the flesh to save me from all my sins, and to do so, you took upon all the sins of mankind by being baptized by John. And not only this, but you also carried the sins of the world to the Cross, died on it, and rose from the dead again. By doing all these things for me, You have forever saved me from all my sins.?/font>
�Lord, although I am this insufficient before You, I still believe that You have saved me from all my sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Dear God, I was no more than these three wayside, stony, and thorny fields, someone who could not avoid but be accursed. I had actually thought I wasn�t such a bad person, but now I came to know my wicked self to the full extent. Now, I admit to You that I am a filthy, completely worthless worm. But even so, Lord, You still came to this earth for me, blotted out all my sins, and made me a child of God. I place all my faith in this, and I give You all my thanks. You have surely saved me from all my sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Lord, I believe in this salvation that You have given me.?
Our faith must be like this. This is how we can become good fields. No one was born as a good field. We were all born as stony, thorny and wayside fields, and as the seeds of evildoers. No one among us, not even one, was born as a good field. It is only because God has turned us into good fields with the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit after plowing the field of our hearts with the Word of His Law, that we have become such good fields by the Lord.
Our Lord said that when He went out to sow His seeds, there were four different fields, but He did not say that there were some fields that were inherently good. For us to become good fields before God, we must acknowledge that in our hearts, there are all three elements of the bad fields, and we must accept the gospel of the water and the Spirit into our hearts. Whoever admits that he himself had been such bad fields will turn into a good field and bear the fruits of salvation before God.
Such a good field can simply accept the seed of God�s Word like a child, saying, �Lord, are You saying that You took away all my sins by being baptized? Thank You, Lord! Did You shoulder the sins of the world and die on the Cross for me? Thank You! Did You rise from the dead again for me? Thanks You, Lord!?When God Himself is telling us that He has saved us in this way, all that we have to do is thank Him time after time, and believe in what He is saying to us. This is how we can ultimately become good fields. Can you now understand this?
As we have carried on with our religious lives, there were times when we had been wayside fields, as well as stony and thorny fields. But by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we were able to turn into good fields. When we had still been wayside, stony, and thorny fields, God sowed the seed of the gospel of the water and the Spirit in our hearts. This is how the remission of sin came into our hearts. When we came across the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we came to experience the remission of sin in our hearts. It was from then on that we have been able to properly understand and make sense of the Word of God whenever we heard it. The voice of salvation that washes away our sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit came to dwell in our hearts.
The hearts of stony and thorny fields are like this: �I have too much lust for this world to keep up with my life of faith!? To have this kind of faith is to stand against God. Therefore, we should instead make the following confession of faith: �Lord, even though I am this wicked, You have still saved me from all my evilness. The gospel Word of the water and the Spirit that You have given me is all correct and true. Now, I am a new creation; old things have passed away; and all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Even though I am insufficient, all these blessings have flown from You, because You have become my Savior.?
Only when we have this kind of faith can we say that we have been wholly delivered from all our sins. It is those who have such faith that are the people of good fields who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Only those who truly believe in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit in this way can live their consecrated lives from this world, and only they can overcome their weaknesses by faith and follow the Lord also. Why? Because they acknowledge that they themselves are insufficient. By believing that Jesus has saved them from all their evilness with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, they have now been perfected by this faith.
Before, our faith had stood neither on the side of God, nor on the side of the world, but on the fence. However, when we then came to know our true selves and recognized just how sinful we were, we could not but thank the Lord for saving us from all the sins of the world through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and our hearts then turned to His side. Even as we had followed our lust for this world, when we realized that we were heading for destruction for our sins, we came to believe in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit, and we were thereby saved from all our sins. And we now acknowledge that it is right for us to unite with God�s Church and to serve the gospel for the rest of our lives.?
We Must Turn around from Our Religious Lives and Believe in the Gospel Word of the Water and the Spirit
When your hearts had been like wayside fields, you became aware of the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and because this gospel seemed to be right, you said that you believed in it. But what happened then? With passing time, haven�t the birds devoured the seeds of this gospel that were sowed in you? Even though it seems like you have the knowledge of the gospel of the water and the Spirit, you do not have this faith in it, nor the Holy Spirit. In other words, even those who do not have the Holy Spirit have turned into Christians who profess to believe in Jesus as their Savior, at least outwardly.
This is why our Lord told us this parable. In the beginning, we had been wayside fields, thorny and stony fields, and it was only when we turned into good fields that we were able to yield the crops for a thirty, sixty, and hundredfold. A good field is a heart that has accepted the Word of God by first admitting that it had been these three bad fields. It is when we admit that such was our hearts?condition, and believe that God has perfectly saved people like us with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, that the fields of our hearts can be turned into good fields. Only these good fields belong to God, and yield the spiritual crops for Him for a hundredfold,a sixty and a thirty fold, at least.
If you had believed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit as you kept your heart in the state of a wayside field, you would have turned into a religionist by now. This is because you would not have had God�s Word of the water and the Spirit in your heart. What, then, must you do? You must hear the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit once again, and must admit to God that you had been a grave sinner.
If any of us had accepted the true gospel while not renouncing his former religion, he must believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit all over again. He must first realize that the religious faith that he had so far had all been wrong. For example, Buddhism teaches its followers to do virtuous deeds, and this only seems so reasonable. Confucianism, on the other hand, seems particularly suitable for dealing with human relationships. So some of you may have believed in either one of them. But as God tells you that this is not your salvation, you come to realize that you must believe in Jesus to be saved from all your sins. If you abandon your former religion, and begin to believe in Jesus, you then become the one whose heart is turned from a wayside field to a stony field.
Once your heart becomes a stony field, you must overturn it with the Law of God to make it a good field. It is with the Law that God reveals all the sins of mankind in clarity. However, people do not recognize how sinful they are even before the Law. They may admit that they are sinners, but they do not recognize and believe that they are bound to hell for their sins. Put differently, they only reached a superficial understanding of their sins and accepted God with only such a cursory understanding.
But as they carry on with their lives, they come to know that they still commit hideous sins. And as they are unable to tolerate themselves, they thus are turning themselves into hypocritical religionists. Such religionists might say with their lips, �I am someone who believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with the heart. And I want to follow the Lord. And I do in fact follow Him.?
But how is the reality? It is because their hearts do not really acknowledge the Word of God that they just say that they believe and then stop there. But in the end, they all end up turning into hypocritical religionists. It is because their hearts actually reject the guidance of the Word of God and stand against it that they end up turning into religionists. The religionists pretend to believe in the Lord and to follow Him only in form, but because their hearts cannot really agree with His Word, they cannot follow Him by faith. It is because people fail to believe in the Word of the water and the Spirit with their hearts that they are not remitted from their sins and perish.
My fellow believers, as you carry on with your lives of faith, there are times when your hearts are hardened. Are your conditions not, by any chance, that of stony fields? Or are they that of thorny fields? You couldn�t possibly be wayside fields, are you? Wayside fields are even worse than stony fields. The stony fields at least accepted the Word of God, but seeds were not even planted in the wayside fields, but were instead devoured by the birds.
If your hearts are still like wayside fields, then you must repent and believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. At the least, the stony fields have some earth, and therefore seeds can be sown. In these stony fields, because there is some earth among the stones, when the seeds fall there, the rain comes and the sun shines, the seeds come to sprout. This means that the stony field at least does not fail to believe. It means that some Christians have believed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, although they did not realize their own wickedness.
Put differently, because their hearts just could not admit the fact that they were evil, the gospel of the water and the Spirit could not be planted deep in their hearts. The stony fields imply the state of hearts of those who cannot accept the fact that their hearts are piles of sin. As a result, they just cannot obey the Word of God and His guidance, and consequently they end up leaving God. But even so, they have evil thoughts, asking, �Who dare to condemn us for not being God�s people? We also believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.?
However, they still have not been saved. My fellow believers, you must admit your evilness to God as soon as possible. You must clearly admit to Him that you are filthy seeds, that you are the seeds of evildoer. Only then will this gospel of the water and the Spirit be planted deep in your hearts.
On the thorny field also, the gospel of the water and the Spirit was planted and the buds of life sprang forth. But the thorns covered up the buds of life, blocked the sun, and eventually made the buds wither away.
This tells us that if we have too much lust for this world, we cannot unite with God�s Church, nor with our brothers and sisters and the servants of God. Their lusts for this world, their own desires, covered up their souls and consequently killed off their young faith. When such people are spiritually dying, they ask themselves, �I don�t understand why my faith withered away when I believed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.��
If your hearts begin to doubt your salvation, you must overcome all such doubts by reaffirming and holding onto the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit. Those who are truly saved from their sins are the people of faith who believe that the Lord accepted all our sins by being baptized by John the Baptist. Such faith can be completed by our confession of faith that professes, �You are the Christ, the Son of the living God? (Matthew 16:16). When the Apostle Peter confessed this, he meant to say, �Lord, even though I am such a hideous pile of sin, I believe that You have saved me from all my sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. From now on, You are my Master. You are the God who made me, the Savior who has saved me from sin, and my God.?/font>
Those who have been saved from sin completely and wholeheartedly acknowledge both their wickedness and the goodness of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. As well as admitting their evil selves, they believe that God has saved all human beings like them from their sins and given them new life. When we acknowledge that the Lord has truly saved us from our sins by taking upon our sins with His baptism and by bearing condemnation for us on the Cross, we come to receive the remission of sin by faith. It is when we recognize that the Lord has become the true Savior for people like us and saved us from all our sins that we can accept this Lord as our own Lord and become one with Him. As our Lord has given us the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we have become one with the Lord. Although our flesh is still weak, the Lord has still delivered us from all our sins. This faith enables us to serve Him, to follow Him, to live with Him and to die with Him.
In Luke 15 appear three parables that are of the lost sheep, of the lost coin, and of the lost son. What these parables imply is that we had lost our Master. But you and I have now found our Master after losing Him. What is more, this Master is a truly good Master. He is the Lord who made us; who came to us when we had fallen into sin deceived by the Devil and become such worthless and useless beings; and who washed away all our sins on His own, gave us salvation, embraced us in His arms, and blessed us to live with Him forever. It is such a Master whom you and I have encountered.
My fellow believers, as we carry on with our lives of faith, there are times when we find it difficult to unite with the Lord and His Church even though our hearts yearn to do so. In times like this also, we must truthfully acknowledge the gospel of the water and the Spirit and all the Word of God: We must admit all our sins whenever the Law points them as sins; we must admit that we are piles of sin who were born with such sins; we must consent to the statement of the Law that says, �The wages of sin is death? we must recognize that Jesus Christ took upon our sins once for all by being baptized; we must accept that He carried the sins of the world to the Cross, died on it, and rose from the dead again; and we must acknowledge that Jesus Christ is our Savior. If we admit all these things, then we have been saved.
However, what is important is what was the state of your heart when you heard the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit, whether it was a wayside field, a stony field, or a thorny field. Your faith would not last long if you didn�t plow up such a bad field with God�s Word before you believed in the true gospel. Even if some of us heard the gospel of the water and the Spirit in such conditions, there still are, of course, innumerable cases where people are perfected later on while hearing the Word again and again. This is why most people are saved after a considerable period of time since they first heard the gospel. If this is your case, then you are still fortunate.
If someone accepted the gospel of the water and the Spirit while not plowing up the bad condition of his heart, his salvation could not be completed in reality, but it was realized only in the realm of his thoughts. Put differently, if one did not accept the gospel Truth properly into the center of his heart, but only understood it on an intellectual and theoretical level, he has not been saved yet in fact, no matter how strongly he professes his faith in the gospel with his lips. If, as a result, this person has kept this spiritual condition, then it is by examining his fruits that we can realize the fallacious condition of his faith.
Those who have not yet been saved completely cannot yield good fruit. Apart from the good field, all the other three fields cannot unite with the Lord, nor obey Him. Such people hate to obey the will of God and of His Church, and they also find it difficult to do so.
If this happens to you, you may be astonished at your disobedience, and say, �Oh, my God! Doesn�t this mean that I have not yet been saved??But, I admonish you that you need not make a fuss over yourself. Every time we are like this, you and I must reaffirm and admit God�s Word one by one: We must admit that it is our fundamental nature not to acknowledge the Word of God, but to disobey Him, to be wicked, and to be no more than piles of sin. We have to admit to the Lord that we have sinned, but at the same time, we have to remind ourselves that the Lord has still saved us from all our sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
We should not just understand this Truth, that our Lord has saved us from sin with the gospel power of the water and the Spirit, only on a theoretical level, but we must accept it and believe in it with all our hearts. It is useful for us to visit by faith the place where the Lord was baptized by John the Baptist. It might be more useful for you to open your Bible and to read the passage of Matthew 3:13-17 word for word. By doing so, you can definitely reaffirm the Truth that it is because Jesus was baptized that all our sins were passed onto Him.
You should also confirm the fact that Jesus indeed shouldered our sins, by reaffirming John�s testimony that says, �Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world?(John 1:29). And you also confirm the truth that Jesus carried the sins of the world to the Cross and was crucified to death there, just as He said at that time, �It is finished? (John 19:30). By reaffirming the Truth in detail again and again like this, you can have a stronger faith in the Truth that He has fulfilled all righteousness.
�If we reaffirm the Truth in detail as far as we can, we can become God�s children by faith. This is the heart that unites with Jesus Christ.
Like this, when we examine our hearts to see whether or not we really believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we can then realize what kind of fields our hearts are. If we find ourselves unable to bear spiritually good fruits even as we want to, then we must once again place our faith in the Word of God. We must hold onto God�s Word in our hearts, believe in it and acknowledge it: We must first admit our hearts?sins and our personal sins, and we must acknowledge as well that we are the seeds of sin bound to hell for our sins. In addition, we must also recognize that the Lord came to us and has saved us from all our sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. When we thus acknowledge all the Word of God, our faith will come to have healthy roots, and we will come to have the faith that actually saves us from our sins.
Is there anyone among you who has led his life of faith for a long time, and increasingly doubts his own faith with the passing time? If you are like this, then you must acknowledge all the Word of God as soon as possible, saying, �I accepted the gospel while I kept my heart as a wayside field, a stony field, and a thorny field, but even so, the Lord has still saved me.?If you admit wholeheartedly before God that you are a grave sinner who deserves to go to hell, and place your faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit again, then the Lord will receive you as God�s child.
It is written in the Bible, �But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name?(John 1:12). If you believe in the Word of God, your soul will be saved from all your sins. Even if you are insufficient in your acts, if you admit your wickedness and believe in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit, God will give you the ability to live by faith.
Fundamentally speaking, we had been worthless beings just like the three bad fields, but the Lord has given us the spiritual Word of Heaven, new power, and holy faith. By giving us such thoughts and hearts that enable us to do His holy work, the Lord has enabled us to live according to the will of God. Every time we hear the Word of God, He gives us faith to obey it, and as the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts and works in our lives, He leads us to the way of righteousness. This is how our God blesses us and works in us.
My fellow believers, who is our sower? It is the Lord. When our Lord came to this earth to save us from our sins with the water and the Spirit, didn�t He fulfill everything? He indeed achieved everything.
When our Lord has thus completed all our salvation, did you and I believe in this from when we first believed in Him? Our hearts were that of the religionists at that time. I myself had switched several times from one religion to another. Everyone has had more than one religion during his lifetime.
Every ethnic group has its own particular religions. Furthermore, in today�s cultural tendency of becoming a multi-ethnic society, many people are used to identifying themselves with two or three religions at the same time. For example, in my country Korea, not a few Christians still visit shamans or the Buddhist temples to have their fortune told whenever they come to face crises of their lives. People ordinarily saddle another religion on top of another. Some people might end up having more than 10 religions.
You and I have to admit that although we had all been like these people, the Lord has still saved us with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Unfortunately, however, there are people who claim to be believers, even as they have the vestiges of some other secular religions in their hearts. In other words, there are a certain type of people who think that they believe in God, even as there is no Word of God in them, for they did not hold onto this Word and believed in it with their hearts. This is such a tragedy. It is because they try to follow the Lord even as they remain like this that they find it so difficult to achieve.
However, actually everyone goes through this process, until he comes to be wholly saved by the gospel of the water and the Spirit. It is because the good fields also admitted themselves as wayside fields, stony fields, and thorny fields that when the sower came and planted seeds, they accepted the seeds, and it is because of this, and by the Word of God, that they became good fields and God�s children. Unless we admit our evilness and accept the seeds, it is completely useless. No matter how good a field may be, if there is no seed, there is no work of life.
We must all admit as often as we can, �I had been evil like this, but the Lord has saved me from all my sins.?At this hour, whoever admits his evil nature as it is and accepts the seed of life into his heart can become a good field and God�s child. No matter how good the fields of our hearts may be, if we do not accept the seed of life, all our faith is in vain. We must accept the Word of God as the Truth. We must also accept the Word on the Law, on the condemnation of sin, and on the righteousness of God as well. If we thus accept into our hearts the gospel of the water and the Spirit that the Lord has given us, we will become sinless before Him. It is by faith that we become God�s children, the people of His Kingdom, and the workers of His righteousness who bear the fruits of righteousness.
Before I came to know this gospel of the water and the Spirit, I had continued to live only a religious life. Even after I was born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, I was worried over my future and my religious identity, that is, whether I had to leave the worldly Christianity or not. Put differently, there were times when I, too, had foolish thoughts, thinking that I would have been quite successful in this world, had I remained in the denomination that I had been in. Wasn�t this heart of mine a thorny field?
But, the Lord has sustained me with the powerful gospel of the water and the Spirit, lest I should lose His righteous way and die on it. I have confirmed my faith again and again: �Lord, You are God Himself and my Master. To save me, my Lord came to this earth, took upon all my sins by being baptized, died for me, and rose from the dead again. You, my Lord who has saved me, is truthfully my Master. You are my Savior.?As I believed in this way, my heart grew in faith and became whole, and the Word of God held me so that I would neither be shaken nor stumble even if someone came to me and preached a similar but false gospel to me.
My fellow believers, as we have continued on with our lives of faith, there were times when we did not have good fields, but only fields that were unworthy of approval. That we are still called as the children of God despite this is because of the Word of God that was given to us. It is because we have accepted the gospel Word of God as well as His Word on our sins and on the Law. Because we have acknowledged all His Word like this, God could work in our lives, make us His children and use us as His instruments of righteousness, and build His everlasting Kingdom through us.
As I carry on with my life of faith, when I see our fellow ministers or brothers and sisters who think they stand firm, the following thoughts come across my mind: �Why do they think that they know all about the Word of God? Why do they think that the Word of God has all been fulfilled in them? I can�t understand why they think like that, when there is so much that they do not even know about themselves. When it comes to my own case, I have come to see many shortcomings that I myself still cannot admit from the depth of my heart. Of course, they were saved all at once by believing in the true gospel. That much is clear, but still, why don�t they know that it takes time for them to really yield abundant spiritual fruits by faith??
For our hearts to give birth to new life as fruits, we must grow, bear fruits, and these fruits must ripen. This is who we must be, and yet for some reason many of our fellow believers think to themselves that they have all matured and, therefore, are living their lives of faith only on a theoretical level. That is heartbreaking for me to see.
My fellow believers, your salvation is attained once for all when you hear and believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but nurturing your souls is not achieved all at once. This is why I have started to write books of nourishment, that is, the spiritual growth series, just after I finished publishing 10 titles of my gospel series. I just finished writing the second volume on the Tabernacle, and I said to myself, �I have finally laid down the basic foundation of the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit, even though it is not sufficient enough.?I admonish you, the newly born-again saints, that you must humble your hearts and be nourished incessantly by the Word of God, lest you should perish as time passes by.
However, there are people who dare to claim that the Word of God has been perfectly fulfilled in them. They even dare to say that they have no shortcoming whatsoever before others. Is this possibly the case? Absolutely not!
After receiving the remission of sin, we actually come to have more shame before others. We thought that we would not commit shameful acts, but since we are only too human, we ended up committing many shameful acts. Before we were born again, we didn�t know how wicked and insufficient we had been, but now, when our true selves are revealed, we realize just how wicked we are, and so there are more things for us to be ashamed of. We hope that our true selves would not be revealed, but all that we experience is the sorrow of disillusion. Is this not the case? Of course it is.
When we get together with our fellow ministers once in a while, we sometimes sing songs together or play soccer to relieve ourselves of all the stress that we have been undergoing. When we do these, we get so excited that we cannot control ourselves. Sometimes, we even quarreled with each other over little things while we are playing soccer. We, too, have carnal sides to us, as well as sinful selves, our failure to fully acknowledge the Word of God, our pursuit of the world, and everything else. Even so, through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, our Lord took upon our sins, was condemned for them, rose from the dead again, and has thereby saved us. By uniting our hearts with the gospel Truth, we have been saved by faith.
My fellow believers, whenever you hear the Word of God, acknowledge your own wickedness and sins, and that there surely will be the judgment of God for your sins. When the ministers preach the Word of God to you, what percentage of it do you acknowledge and accept by faith? You may understand it just fine, but my question is not about intellectual grasp, but how much you acknowledge with your hearts.
By and large, most people cannot even acknowledge 5 percent of what they hear. For those who have matured spiritually through their faithful lives of faith, the depth of their faith has deepened, and so they acknowledge 10 percent, or sometimes even 20 percent. But I think it is difficult for them to exceed 50 percent. If anyone can reach beyond 50 percent, he needs no teacher. It is a feat of achievement for ordinary people to acknowledge God�s Word even just 5 percent. They acknowledge this much when the sermon is very long. If it is short, then they admit less than 1 percent of themselves, or even as little as 0.00001 percent. When the sermon is long, they may find it hard to keep their concentration, but they still hear the Word, and they still come to admit themselves, even if it is only a small amount. When these small amounts accumulate, they turn into fruits, and there arises the work of life in the hearts of the saints.
This is why you shouldn�t miss church gatherings, and why we should get together and have fellowship with one another. Do not think, �I don�t want to have fellowship with these lowly people. I am different from them.?It is the ordinary people who hold rather good human qualities. If each of us is all alone, we cannot realize our true selves, but if we are together, it is easier for us to discover ourselves. And so it is such a joy for us to hear each other�s testimony in our fellowship.
Through the parable of the sower, our Lord is telling us that He has saved such wicked people like us from all our sins. Can you grasp this now? Instead of indulging ourselves in overconfidence, we should examine ourselves. Do not fall into complacency, but take this opportunity to examine yourselves.
If I say to you, �You need to hear the gospel in detail again,?then, some of you will probably be offended, thinking, �What does he think of me? I�ve led my life of faith for over 10 years, and yet he thinks so little of me.?If you are like this, your heart is still of the bad fields. When a gospel preacher preaches the gospel, he first teaches the listeners about the wickedness and sinfulness of their hearts through the Bible. So you can see yourselves better while you listen to the gospel Truth. For your souls to be benefited, you need to see your true selves as fully as you can, and you need to hear the gospel of the water and the Spirit as often as you can. Has your self-respect been wounded often in God�s Church? Do you think you are a man of self-respect and tormented by it often? If so, your heart is not yet of a good field, and you have to plow up your heart deeply to acknowledge your real existence.
When I preach, it is when I talk about the gospel of the water and the Spirit that I am both most excited and most tired. It is easier to preach about the other subjects in the Bible than to preach the gospel. I can do that pretending to be spiritual in a gentle voice. But when I preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit, I have to reveal all my insufficiencies. If I say that only you are wicked, you would not accept it, but if I say that I am also wicked, you would find it easier to accept my teachings. This is why ministers are exposing themselves in every detail when they preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Some people might say to me, �Reverend, I would really appreciate it if you wouldn�t be like this,?but there is a purpose for me to be exposed like this. Even if there were no purpose, this is who I really am. Our God who sows seeds is true, and so if He sows, then we must accept His seeds. If the Word of God says, �This is who you are,?then all we have to do is just acknowledge and accept it.
Our Lord told us, �Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall?(1 Corinthians 10:12). There are many people who have been perfectly saved from their sins, but at the same time, there are also many people who don�t recognize their insufficiencies in the Church. They are astonished at themselves whenever their insufficiencies are revealed, and try to defend themselves for the mistakes. If you are like this, do not try to hide your insufficiencies before God�s Church, nor try to regard them as just your mistakes that you should have not made. Whenever your insufficiencies are revealed, you should believe that God permitted them so that you would acknowledge the goodness of His Word. He could have perfected you as soon as you were born again, but He left you with your insufficiencies, so that you would come to recognize the Word of God through your concrete experiences, for otherwise you would not recognize it.
I may look pious and spiritual while I am preaching the Word of God. But when I step down from the pulpit, I am just like you. In some ways, I am worse than you. Lately I have not been strong enough, and what is worse, I have been struggling with various health problems. As I said before, this has made me rather oversensitive. But, strictly speaking, my short temper is of my own temperament, and is not entirely due to my conditions.
My fellow believers, please have faith in the Word of God. Admit yourselves, and when the seed of the Word of God falls on you, acknowledge it and accept it. Though we have been saved from all our sins, there is still much in the Word of God that we need to acknowledge. This applies to all of us, to myself, to you, to our mothers and to our young students as well. Isn�t there much that all of us need to admit about our insufficiencies. Of course there is. Though we are so insufficient, the Lord has still saved us with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Therefore, all we have to do is acknowledge our real selves, that is, our insufficiencies and reaffirm the gospel Truth everyday.
I give thanks to our Lord. He said that the seeds that fell on good ground yielded a crop by a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.He told us that he who has ears to hear should hear.