Where Should We Base Our Faith?
< Genesis 3:1-7 >
�Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, �Has God indeed said, �You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?? And the woman said to the serpent, �We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, �You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.�� Then the serpent said to the woman, �You will not surely die.?For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.?So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.?/b>
Is Our Salvation
Attained through Our Faith in the Righteousness of God, or through
Our Own Human Works?
When it comes to life of faith, anyone who emphasizes his own works has been fooled by Satan�s schemes. Anyone who now argues that one must reach sanctification by himself through his own prayers of repentance is someone who has already been fooled by the Devil�s plan. The Devil�s strategy is to encourage people to do good deeds and devote all their efforts into edifying their own works rather than believing in God�s Word. Yet despite this, many Christians still claim that one can attain eternal life and receive his salvation only if he believes in Jesus, lives virtuously, and serves God faithfully as well. But those who emphasize their own human works like this will not be saved from their sins, but, on the contrary, they will end up falling even deeper into sin.
That is why a legalistic faith that privileges mankind�s acts is a flawed faith. Legalistic believers can never become righteous. One can never be made whole through his own deeds. So the work-oriented Christians cannot help but lament their insufficiencies everyday. Deceived by the Devil, such people try to perfect only their acts until the day they die, but in the end, they will be cast into hell.
We need to realize here clearly and exactly how we should lead our lives of faith, and believe in it. �God has given me the tree of life. Knowing that I would become a sinner, Jesus came to this earth, took upon my sins once for all by being baptized by John the Baptist, and has blotted out my sins and saved me. He has given me faith, and when I believed in Jesus Christ, He took me in as God�s child, gave me Heaven, brought me peace, and bestowed me with all His blessings. Given this, has my salvation come by faith or works? Is salvation reached by my virtuous deeds even though I believe in Jesus??We need to be clear on this issue.
It is by faith that we reach salvation, and it is also by faith that we receive blessings from God. Serving the Lord, too, is done by faith. It is by faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that we are made God�s servants, and it is by faith that we practice the righteousness of God. God said, �Whatever is not from faith is sin?(Romans 14:23). It is from faith that works come out, not faith from works. When we read the Book of James, it may seem as if it emphasizes works, but when it says, �Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead,?it is still premised on faith. In other words, it�s precisely because one has no faith that he has no works.
You and I heard the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and by believing in it with our hearts, we have been saved. Having thus been saved through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we must also be clear on whether this salvation came by our works or faith. My fellow believers, you and I must set our hearts on the faith that God has given us the tree of life, that He has given us everything. Our purpose must be the attainment of faith in God, our focus must be on this faith, and we must live with our hearts set according to faith. Unless this faith established, sooner or later we will be deceived by Satan, lose our footing, and perish away.
God abhors those who stress only human works without having faith in His gospel, that is, in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. While our Lord is pleased by those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and walk according to this faith, He hates those who build only their own works, without believing in this gospel. It is indeed important to serve the Lord faithfully, but this work is proper before God�s eyes only when it stems from faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. It is when we come before God knowing and believing His righteousness that God is pleased to accept us.
Because God has given me the gospel of salvation, I believe in God; because God has blotted out all my sins, I preach the gospel; and because God has given me Heaven and blessed me, I, too, serve the Lord and follow Him. It is because God has given us everything that we, who live by faith, have a wholehearted desire to offer our everything to the Lord, do everything He wants, and follow Him anywhere. For us to walk without believing in God�s Word is an act of suicide, and to preach the Word without faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit is an act of deception. Preaching the Word of God without even believing in it is an evil ministry that misleads others.
God�s Salvation Was Fulfilled Irrespective of Our Deeds
We serve the Lord and follow Him as much as we believe in the Word of God�s righteousness. My fellow believers, do you believe that God has given us peace, salvation, the remission of our sins, everlasting life, and Heaven, all irrespective of our own deeds? I, too, believe so.
Since all the blessings that God has given us have nothing to do with our works, we must unite our hearts with the Word of God regardless of how others might judge us. It doesn�t matter what happens to us, as long as the Lord�s work is carried out. �Who cares if others denounce me? Who cares if I am scorned? Let them blame me all they want!?Disposed like this, we are prepared to do everything for the Lord, as long as it does not hinder us from believing and spreading the gospel of the water and the Spirit. But we refrain if it is expected to hinder the gospel.
What I would like to ask both you and myself at this hour is whether or not you and I, who have been saved, are now standing on our faith in the righteousness of God, or on our own works. Are you now abiding in this faith placed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? At this hour, I want to make it clear whether our salvation came by faith or from our own works. Let there be no doubt whatsoever that all those who have been saved from sin are indeed standing on faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. It is absolutely through our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that we have been saved from all our sins.
This faith requires no work of our own at all, not even 0.01%. Everything comes by faith, from being saved to making Heaven ours, enjoying peace, receiving blessings from God, getting our prayers answered, serving the Lord and following Him. It is by faith that we have received all these wonderful gifts from above. And it is because we have received all these things from God that we can serve Him and follow Him all the more.
This is my conviction: It�s because I believe in God that I give offerings to Him; it�s because I believe in God that I preach the gospel; it�s because I believe in God that I abide in His Church; and it�s because I believe in God that I admonish you all to serve the Lord. Because I believe that God has given us everything, I myself am serving Him and asking you to serve as well. Once faith has come, it is only proper and right to serve God, and that is why I am admonishing you like this.
Because we believe in the gospel that God has already completed and given to us, we, too, serve the Lord. Moreover, I believe that if we serve the Lord, God will provide for us even more to meet all our needs, so that we may bear more fruits. Since we have received every blessing, we have to bear even more fruits, and so God will meet all our needs without fail. That is why we live by faith. It�s because we believe that we carry on with our lives of faith, and it�s because we believe that we preach the gospel.
The Bible says, �How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: �How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!�� (Romans 10:14-15) In other words, �How else could there be faith without the Word of God? How else could one be saved? How else could one attain everlasting life??/p>
We all believe that God has remitted away all our sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and this is why we are willingly preaching this gospel. God has given us everlasting life, Heaven, and all blessings. And God has taken us in as His own children able to receive all these things. It�s because we believe in this that we pray by faith. And it�s because we believe in this that we gather together to worship God and share our whole lives. Sometimes, of course, we still find ourselves lacking faith. But, we should recognize that it is proper for the just to live by faith only. Living by faith is only possible when we are spiritually alert.
Believe that God has already given us every blessing. God has indeed bestowed us with all His blessings. He has already given us every spiritual blessing of Heaven. The only remaining issue here is faith. Whether we believe or not determines whether we are able to receive all the God-given blessings or not. It is by faith that we come to possess every blessing.
No one wants to be deceived by Satan. Yet despite this, too many people still try to follow God with their own works, serve Him well with their works, and preach the gospel based on their own virtuous deeds—such people have already been deceived by the Devil. Countless people in this world, beguiled by the Devil, have come up with their own religion and are spreading evil. They are zealous, and yet they do not realize that their works are evil. I can remember many such people as if I were watching a movie. Those who became pastors without being born again, those who became elders without being born again, those who became believers without being born again—all these people are diligently building only their own works, deceived by Satan.
My fellow believers, they have all been fooled by the Devil. You may wonder how so many could have been deceived so easily. But because they have mistaken what is false as the Truth, they do not realize that it is a craft of the Devil, and, in the end, they themselves are completely duped; and in turn, they end up deceiving others as well.
How could the Devil deceive so perfectly? God had clearly told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil specifically, but in contrast, the Devil said, �Did God tell you not to eat of every tree??Here the Devil invoked �every tree,?instead of just one specific tree. To this, Eve said, �God clearly did not tell us not to eat of every tree. He only told us not to eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden.? Though clumsy, Eve seemed to fend off Satan�s first attack for now. But the Devil narrowed in his focus on eating the forbidden fruit, and once again tempted Eve. So the Devil said to her, �God told you not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because you would become like God if you eat it. He knows that in the day you eat it, you will be like Him, knowing good and evil.?/p>
Only God is the Absolute Being; how can mankind or Satan be the Supreme One? The very attempt of a creature to become the Supreme Being is itself arrogance, and any creature that tries this will only end up as Satan�s servant.
There is a certain category of people whom I call as the Devil�s brood. They are those who, like the Devil himself, treacherously deceive others and make them fall into the curse. The deceiver reads his victim�s mind clearly, and he usually targets and fools someone who is greedy or self-righteous.
In today�s Christianity, countless nominal believers, who have not been born again, are leading their lives of faith thoroughly deceived. What about you? Have you not been also deceived, fooled by the false prophets who say, �You�ll be blessed if you give a lot of offering. You�ll be filled with the Spirit if you pray a lot? Trying to live a virtuous life before God is a worthy goal, but to blindly believe in Jesus as the Savior without even knowing the Word of God is nothing more than ignorance and sin. The right faith is to know and believe in the Word of the righteousness of God, that is, in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
You may then ask, �I may not believe in God�s righteousness, but is leading a virtuous life itself bad??No, not necessarily. Beyond right and wrong, trying to live an upright life is not bad in itself, but if you want to believe in Jesus as your Savior, then you should as well believe that God has given you all His blessings through the gospel of the water and the Spirit and walk accordingly—this is the real, right faith.
The reason why I have frequently preached about this Book of Genesis since I met the gospel of the water and the Spirit is because the people of this world have been so thoroughly deceived by Satan, almost beyond repair. Many people still do not realize that they have been deceived by the Devil, they remain convinced of their own fallacious beliefs, and as their eyes and ears are covered by the hand of lie, they can neither see the Truth nor hear it. It�s such a frustrating tragedy.
Countless people do not even ask themselves whether what they believe in now is the real Word of God. That�s because they follow what they themselves have defined to be good all under their own consideration, and think to themselves that they are actually good believers. Their own thoughts and the standard of the world have become the measuring rod of their faith, when in fact the Word of God should be their barometer.
My fellow believers, our faith begins from the belief that God has given us every blessing through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Emphasizing human works is characteristic of false faith. Stressing human works can make us fall into sin, it can make us fall into despair, and it can make us fall into the curse.
In contrast, faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit enables us to attain everlasting life, to enjoy peace and rest, and to even receive all the blessings of this earth given by God. That is precisely why you and I need this faith in the Word of the righteousness of God. And this faith is essential to everyone in this world. Sinners need to have faith in the Word of God, the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and so do we the born-again need to have faith in all the Word of God. Yet despite this, we are prone to be work-oriented in our lives of faith. But, God never approves such a work-oriented faith.
Faith in the Gospel of the Water and the Spirit is Our Strength
For us, who believe in the Word of God, we confess our faith like this: �For God has blessed me like this and I have received such blessings, I follow the Lord. And because I believe in the Lord, because I have received every blessing from Him, I do what pleases the Lord.?Great differences mark the gap between faith and unbelief. When one believes in God�s Word, works follow according to his faith, springing up voluntarily. However, one who tries to walk by his own works alone, without believing in His Word, is a spiritual opportunist. Such people say, �I do this because this is what my situation allows, and I can�t help but do that because that is what my circumstances are.?They are no more than opportunists trying to follow God with their own acts.
In contrast, faith works irrespective of opportunities or situations. Those with faith do God�s work because it is right for them to set their goals according to God�s will. These two, those with faith and those without it, are clearly different. For us to serve the Lord only because our circumstances allow us, and to stop serving Him whenever our circumstances are difficult, is not what faith is all about. Rather, true faith is to say: �I serve the Lord even though my circumstances are difficult, because that is the right thing to do.?
I want everyone to really serve the Lord out of his own will, motivated by his knowledge of and faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. That is why I do not call our brothers and sisters?conducts into question, for they are merely of their insufficiencies. My heart is most troubled when I see someone who, far from believing in the righteousness of God, actually despises those who are walking by faith. I rebuke such people. If a brother�s heart is not upright, and he walks without faith, then he must surely be rebuked.
When we believe in God�s Word, and when we believe that God has blessed us, then without even realizing, works of faith spring forth from us, and we come to follow the Lord, serve Him, and preach the gospel, all without realizing ourselves. And we come to live praying for the Kingdom of the Lord. The righteous are strengthened precisely when they live by faith. This true faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit has spiritual power.
Such power of faith is tremendous, for faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit leads us to serve the Lord without even being told. This faith, believing that God has saved you from all your sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, is simply amazing. It is only when you have this faith that you can preach the gospel of the remission of sin to others and save souls; without it, it is impossible to lead others to receive the remission of their sins. When you yourselves believe that you have received every blessing from God, you come to serve the Lord, but when you do not have this faith, you can neither serve the Lord nor follow Him. It is only from faith that the fruits of the Holy Spirit are born.
I believe in God�s Word. And I believe that God has given me all His blessings. What about you then? Do you also believe this? As we read the Book of Genesis, we should realize and believe that only our faith in the Truth can be counted for righteousness, and we should also make ourselves clear that for us to believe is the will of God, that faith is what pleases Him. We cannot be counted for righteousness with our own deeds, no matter how virtuous they might be. Believing in God�s Word is true faith.
Christianity as One of the Religions of the World
How did a religion called Christianity come to exist in this world? Has this religion Christianity sprung from works? Or is it a religion that has sprung from faith?
Christianity actually originated from faith in God, but deceived by Satan�s temptation, it ended up degenerating into a religion of works. As a result, people classify Christianity as one of the many religions of the world. They teach the science of religion at every theological seminary. In this class, they treat Christianity merely as a religion. Even among pastors, some classify Christianity only as one religion among many.
The word Christianity means �the gathering of those who believe in Jesus Christ and follow Him,?and so Christianity is not just a religion. It is a faith. Christianity is not a religion that sprang forth from our own works or will. It was established by God, and it is a gathering that shares the God-given faith.
�Is Christianity merely a religion or a faith??The English word �religion?originated from the Latin word ?i>religio,? which means �to tie fast?or �to rely.?It other words, religion is one in which human beings make up their own god all by themselves, and then rely on it and tie themselves to it. Put differently, believing in something made by mankind as God is what religion is all about.
Faith, however, is not like this. Faith is to believe in the blessings that God has given us, and to revere God and trust in Him. There is a clear difference here, isn�t there? One entails us making up our own god and believing in it, whereas the other entails us believing that it is God who made us and has blessed us; given this, the difference could not be any greater. To believe in what God has given us is completely different from believing in something of our own making.
On the question of whether the correct faith is of one�s own volition or God�s, the right answer is that our faith is from God. It is God who made us and has given us all blessings. All that we do is just acknowledge this and believe in it with our hearts. This is of God�s volition, not of our own.
For us to make our own god and believe in this god is of our own volition. It is because of this self-centered will that religion sprang forth in this world. The reason why religion came into being, which is akin to trying to cover oneself with a skirt made of fig leaves, is because it shares the same focus as the Devil.
Christians who have not been born again—that is, Christians who do not believe in the water and blood of Jesus—are all religionists. They are 100% religionists. If one believes in Jesus with his sins still remaining intact in his heart, then this can only mean that he believes in a religion, not Jesus. All those eloquent pastors who still have sin in their hearts, and who do not teach the Truth of the remission of sin, the Truth of being born again, are also no more than religionists.
There are so many man-made religions, and there are so many people who sacrifice their lives for such religions. That is why Karl Marx said, �Religion is the opium of the masses.?Once someone gets addicted to opium, he has to keep using it. Likewise, when one believes in religion, he has to believe more, act more virtuously, and strive harder and harder toward this aim, only to be bound in sin and completely perish away in the end.
Man-made Religion is Opium
When one keeps abusing opium, he will die in the end. Religion is opium to those who fall into it. It is perhaps even more addictive than drug. To believe in a religion called Christianity, one has to believe even more, strive more, serve more, live more virtuously, and sin no more. It entails an endless series of more and more requirements, suffocating its followers till they are dead. If one is virtuous, he has to be even more virtuous, and when he becomes more virtuous, he still has to be more virtuous than this; and so mankind strives ceaselessly to reach perfection, only to die without reaching it. The same phenomenon is found in the religion called Christianity. How horrific it is!
Some people even sacrifice their lives for the religion they believe in. It�s the Devil who taught them this. When people believe in a religion at first, the Devil makes them feel as if they have no more sin, but with this he makes them addicted to their religion. So they must remain in their religion, as the Devil makes it seem as if they would die if they left. Put simply, Satan has injected mankind with opium of religion. The substance in this syringe is a vile fluid called religion, and it is this shot that Satan has injected mankind.
Once injected with the opium of religion, everyone tries to become divine like God, only to die in vain. To some people, Satan injected a shot of particularly noxious religious opium called Buddhism. He said to them, �You must become divine. You must be emancipated. You must reach Nirvana.?Whoever was injected with this shot of religion had to climb onto a mountain, practice asceticism, and pretend to have transcended this world.
Each and every one of all those injected with the shot of religion has to fast and deceive himself. Whoever gets the shot of religion, even just once, is all bound to hell; such a person ends up standing against God, opposing His Word of Truth, and rejecting His blessings bestowed on him. This is how terrifying the shot of religion is. The injection of religion is the most fearsome drug on this planet.
I�ve heard that drugs nowadays are extremely powerful, more than ever. Apparently, just trying them once is enough make one completely addicted. So when someone tries them just once, from this very moment on, he gets absolutely hooked and has to keep using them time after time. Likewise, the injection of all religions, not just of Christianity, is powerful enough to make one addicted with just a single shot. It makes no difference which religion we are speaking of; from Islam to Hinduism, Buddhism, Adventism, Mormonism, Confucianism, Unification Church, shamanism, and animism, every religion alike is extremely addictive with just one shot, and at its end is the gaping mouth of hell. This shot of religion is such a deadly shot.
Who, then, made the substance of this injection called religion? It�s the Devil who made it. It�s the Devil who administered this shot of lies, saying, �You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,?Everyone who received this shot tempted by the promise of �becoming like God?all reached death. Falling into sin, he became a sinner; trying to escape from this sin on his own, he suffered; desperate to forget this suffering, he took a drug called religion; and the moment he got addicted, he mistook it to mean that he was somehow freed from sin.
You must realize that it is for not believing in Jesus Christ and rejecting Him that one is cast into hell. Yet Satan has injected such a toxic shot that many people remain unable to break free. However, even those who were injected with this shot can now be saved by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by Jesus Christ.
Chapter three of Genesis speaks about this shot. What kind of injection is this shot? It is an injection that deceives mankind and makes it drift away from God. Satan stirred up doubt by asking, �Has God indeed said, �You shall not eat of every tree of the garden??This was not the truth, but disbelief stemming from doubt. It�s because people received the shot of religion that they are constantly doubting their prospect for entering Heaven and trying to save themselves all on their own.
From Genesis 3:1 and on, the Bible explains how Satan injected mankind with religion. It�s the Devil who administered the shot of religion. What kind of injection did the Devil give, and what kind of antidote has God provided? The Devil injected the shot of religion, while God has injected its antidote that neutralizes the toxic effects of this religious shot. The specific medicine of God that cures you from the fatal toxin of Satan is the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
My fellow believers, I admonish you all to realize that it is the gospel of the water and the Spirit that God wants from you, to turn around and return to the Truth, and to be truly born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.