< Matthew 10:1-8 >
�And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;Simon the Cananite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him. These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: �Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans.But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.And as you go, preach, saying, �The kingdom of heaven is at hand.�Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.��
Jesus called His twelve disciples, and He decided to spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit throughout the whole world through these disciples. But one of these disciples, Judas, ended up betraying his own Teacher, for he did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God and the Messiah who came to this earth as the Savior of mankind. Judas sold out Jesus for money. But later, he came to regret when he recognized that he had actually betrayed the Son of God. We need to remember here that as we follow Jesus, if we betray the gospel of the water and the Spirit that the Lord has given us, we will also end up like this Judas. Unfortunately, there are way too many Judas-like Christians on this earth.
If none of us wants to face spiritual death, we must all believe in and spread the God-given gospel of the water and the Spirit wholeheartedly. For us to walk such a righteous way, we must place our faith in the divinity of Jesus and His ministries of the water and the blood, and of the Spirit.
This world is a spiritual battlefield for Christians. There are many evil spirits in the world. These spirits are looking for every opportunity to devour even those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. So even if one believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, if he falls into the lust of his flesh, he will end up facing his spiritual death.
We should not allow the deceivers to do everything to their hearts?content. Rather, we, the true Christians must stand against them by exposing the vanity of these liars?faith. They will then leave us alone. Otherwise, if we fail to make our stand, we will end up being devoured by them. This is why we must live our lives as God�s soldiers after believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Anyone who has received the remission of sin by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit must become a true Christian solider who preaches the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Am I then saying here that every believer should become a minister? No, that is not what I am saying. It would be even better if every believer can indeed become a minister, but what I am saying here is that all of us must do the work of the Kingdom of God according to the gifts that God has given to each of us.
You need to realize that if you do not become the army of God that serves His gospel, you will end up being devoured by the army of Satan. There are those among us who think, �Well, since I am not a minister, I think my faith in the Lord is fine just as it is.?But my dear fellow believers, you must not think like this. You must realize that Satan does not discriminate in his attacks, and that he is intent to slay all those who do not work for God�s Kingdom and are instead beholden to the lust of their flesh, regardless of whether they are laymen or ministers.
Therefore, every Christian must cast aside the three lusts of the flesh (1 John 2:16). The first lust that we must cast aside is the lust of pleasure; we must cast aside all our desires that go beyond the bounds of what God has permitted us. Second, we must cast aside the lust of the eyes. Third, we must cast aside the desire for the pride of life. You should engrave it into your hearts that only then can you love the Lord and follow Him.
If, by any chance, you follow the lust of your flesh, thinking, �It�s okay, since I�ve received the remission of all my sins,?then you will ultimately die. Because you have received the remission of your sins, it is only natural that Satan would not leave you alone, but would be even more intent to knock you down, looking for every opportunity to achieve this objective. Therefore, for us not to be slain by Satan, we must be on constant guard, and we must wage our spiritual battle against him by faith. Only those who win this battle can survive. And to do so, we must believe in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit even more. To grow our spiritual strength, we need to fight against the liars in these spiritual battles. It is when Christians engage in spiritual battles that they come to realize the extent of their faith, and it is when they fight against their enemies by the power of the Word of the Lord that they can win souls.
If we do not continue to believe in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit in our hearts, we, too, will lose not only our spiritual strength but also our material possessions and even our own life. How would we lose all of God�s blessings? By failing to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, for this world is a spiritual battlefield, and therefore Satan does not leave the faithless alone.
Our Lord Commanded Us to Look for the Lost Sheep of God and Preach Them
the Gospel of the Water and the Spirit
God�s workers must always do His work. God�s laborers must go out in search of His lost sheep. Our Lord took twelve men as His disciples while working on this earth. And through these disciples of Jesus, many people came to receive the remission of their sins, and they also were able to live as the blessed army of God and come before His presence.
It is written here in today�s Scripture passage, �Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans.But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.And as you go, preach, saying, �The kingdom of heaven is at hand.�� We must look for innocent souls, not the spiritual Samaritans.
The Samaritans were partly related to the Israelites, but they were not of pure blood. They were the descendents of mixed blood, originating from some Israelites?intermarriage with the Assyrians during their Babylonian captivity. Therefore, the Israelites did not accept them as their people from then on.
Spiritually speaking, it is to the lost sheep of Israel whom we must go. We should examine every soul, asking ourselves, �Is that person really a lost sheep to God??There are some on this earth who are desperately thirsting for the Word of God.
It is when we actually do God�s work that we are molded into Jesus?good disciples who are fit for God�s use. God is turning us into the well-trained soldiers of Jesus and using us as His instruments. As we do the work of God as His laborers, there are times when we have to break up our self-respect of the flesh. By doing so, our thoughts are transformed before God, and we are molded and made into good vessels that God can use as His instruments. If we want to live the life of the discipleship of Jesus, as God�s workers, then our Lord will turn us into His good vessels. Those who are too meek and timid are turned more rugged and stronger, and those who lack faith in the Word of God become the people of faith who have strong faith in God�s Word. Strong faith is absolutely essential to God�s workers, because we can only carry on His work by our faith in His power. It is not by our own strength that God�s work is done, but it is only by the power of God that it is done.
Sinners are prone to persecute the disciples of Jesus who are living on this earth doing God�s work. Jesus said, �A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master?(Matthew 10:24-25). He said that it is enough for a disciple to be like his teacher.
Jesus is the very teacher of all of us who believe in Him. When our Lord came to this earth, he was despised and scorned by many people. Since our Lord Himself was persecuted, we should accept it as only natural that we, who have become His disciples, would also be persecuted. For those who have become Jesus?disciples, it is enough that they are able to endure persecution, just as our Lord had done so. And since our Lord followed the will of God the Father while suffering severe persecution, we should, as His disciples, also follow the will of our Lord, and endure persecution as nothing. The disciples of Jesus must indeed know how to take it as their joy to be persecuted by the liars. And even in the midst of their persecution, they must know how to follow the Lord wholly. In addition, the soldiers of the Lord must also know how to wage spiritual war.
Everything will be revealed according to the Truth of God. So we need to realize here that every iniquity that people commit hidden from the others will ultimately be all revealed, for our Lord said, �There is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known?Matthew 10:26).
God Has Made Us Fearless
I believe that God is alive. Our Lord said to the workers of God, �Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell?(Matthew 10:28). What we need to realize here is that the One who has authority to throw sinners into hell is God, the One who has saved us from our sins is also the same God, and the One who has given us eternal life is this very same God. Death does not mean the complete end of our existence. Everyone is born once, and once dead, everyone will be brought to eternal life again. This is what we must know and believe. Those who, through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, believe that Jesus has become their Savior have indeed been saved from all their sins, but those who do not believe in this true gospel will be cast into hell by God.
There are huge differences between reincarnation and resurrection. Reincarnation is the notion that when a life ends, it is reincarnated into a different life form, and that this cycle continues on. Simply put, a soul that is born as a grasshopper will be born as a rabbit tomorrow, and then as a chicken the following day. But this is absolutely nonsense.
My fellow believers, we the true Christians must not fear the anti-Christians. If those who have not been born again do not want to share fellowship with us the born-again, then all that we have to do is not share fellowship with them. You may then wonder if we are not too lonely. But what is there to feel lonely, when there are so many righteous people of God? The righteous abhor to be with sinners. There are, after all, many people of God with whom we the righteous can work together. It is with the people of God with whom I want to live, and it is God�s Church with which I want to work.
What we need to realize is that no one will die unless God first permits him. Jesus said, �Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin??When a sparrow is sold for a dime, it may seem as if it is being sold and bought by people, but even this is possible only when God permits it. When this is the case, just how much care would God have for the righteous? Our own death, too, will never come unless God permits it. When God does not permit this, we will not die just because someone is trying to kill us. We will die only when God permits, and nothing can come about without God�s permission. Our life, in other words, is in the hands of God. We are far more precious than the sparrows in the air.
Our Lord said, �Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven?(Matthew 10:32-33).
My fellow believers, if we believe in the baptism that Jesus received and in His bloodshed on the Cross as our salvation, He will surely accept us. In contrast, if we fail to believe so, Jesus will also deny us. Because of our sins, He was baptized by John the Baptist and condemned, and has thereby saved us from all our sins. If we deny this Truth, then we are denying Jesus.
Our Lord said, �Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God?(John 3:5). �To be born again of water and the Spirit?is to receive the remission of sin by believing in the Truth, that Jesus has saved us from all the sins of the world by coming to this earth, taking upon our sins once for all with His baptism, and dying on the Cross. My fellow believers, among Christians, those who have truly been born again are the ones who have received the remission of all their sins by being born again of the water, the blood, and the Spirit. No one can be born again unless he has faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Do you still think that Jesus failed to take away all your sins? When the grandmother of a sister in my church was hospitalized, the pastor of this grandmother�s church came to see her and said, �Try to keep saying the prayers of repentance. Jesus took away your original sin, but He did not take away your personal sins.?Do you believe that He took away only our original sin, and that our personal sins were not taken away? If one believes that Jesus took away only his original sin but not his personal sins, then he is denying Jesus the Savior. What we must know is that Jesus has perfectly saved all of us from all our sins by receiving His baptism and shedding His blood.
But if one denies this Truth of the water and the Spirit, Jesus will also deny him. Jesus will say, �You said that you did not know Me. You said that I did not take away all your sins. I don�t know you, either then. Go away. I will send you to the hottest place!?If we do not believe in the baptism and bloodshed of Jesus, then so will Jesus deny us, and if we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then we will be permitted to enter Heaven according to our faith.
Our God is the God of justice and equity. Jesus is the God of Truth. God�s gospel of the water and the Spirit is His righteousness, not a lie. If our Lord were to just approve anyone who tries hard to believe in Him somehow, why would He have given us the gospel of the water and the Spirit by sacrificing Himself so much? It was precisely to save us from all our sins that He sacrificed Himself and gave us the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but only if we believe in this gospel. He does not say, �Well, since they profess to believe in Me and are trying so hard to live as Christians, how could I say that I don�t know them? They don�t have the right answer, but I should still approve them on a compassionate ground.?Therefore, if one does not know the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then he has not been saved from all his sins.
Our Lord said, �Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword?(Matthew 10:34). Our workers must never misunderstand this. It is not proper for the righteous to be amicable with sinners and to live in peace no matter what this entails, but they must preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit that reconciles these sinners with God. Our Lord is saying to us, �So will you believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit or not? I have blotted out all your sins. Will you believe this or not??If we believe, then He will save us, but if we do not believe, then He will destroy us.
The Lord said that He did not come to bring peace, but to sow conflict. He came to this earth to set daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law, fathers against their sons, and grandparents against their grandchildren. Jesus is at once both a spiritual Warrior and the King of peace.
Although Jesus has blotted out all the sins of the world, He cannot save those who still do not believe in the Truth despite this. My fellow believers, if you believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then you will be reconciled with God, but if you do not believe in this gospel, you will remain as God�s enemies. The born-again may very well find their enemies in their own household�that is, your own family members who have not been born again may become your enemies.
From time to time, we visit hospitals to preach the gospel, and some of the stories that we have heard from the patients there are rather hair-raising.
�Hello, how have you been? By the way, where is the other patient? Did he go somewhere??
�Actually, he died yesterday.?/font>
People speak of human death so easily. Of course, it�s not they who died but someone else, but still, sometimes they speak of it too lightly, as if it�s only a trivial affair. Feeling no sadness, they simply say, �He has passed away.?/font>
People who have not received the remission of sin are in fact heartlessly unloving and unmerciful (Romans 1:31). They remain indifferent even as one of their own sisters and brothers dies. They are saddened but only a little. They look grieved while they attend the funeral ceremony, but they forget all about it as soon as they head back to their homes in their cars.
My fellow believers, the born-again are not heartless. They really keep the weak in their hearts. It is heartbreaking for them to be unable to help because of their inability. We may have said some nasty things to one another in our quarrels, but in the hearts of us the righteous, compassion for the others always remains. We always have concern and care for our fellow believers, wanting them to prosper in both body and spirit.
It hurts our hearts to see those who still have not received the remission of their sins, because we all have compassionate hearts for them fundamentally. We actually have compassionate and merciful hearts for them, hoping that they would prosper. It is our wish that wherever they go, they would go to God�s Church that preaches the gospel of the water and the Spirit, receive the remission of their sins, faithfully attend God�s Church, and be blessed. Yet it saddens me deeply to see that there is no mercy of God in many people�s hearts.
If someone goes out to the world and dose not live any longer as God�s worker in His Church, it is very easy for him to lose his born-again heart, no matter how firmly he is determined to live with the gospel.
He Who Loves God the Most
True Christians love God and do His work. Our Lord said, �He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me?(Matthew 10:37).
My fellow believers, think about this once again. If you want to live your lives as God�s workers, you should have the heart that loves God the most. Only when you love God more than anyone or anything else in this world can you become His good workers.
We cannot actually love God more through our own efforts, just by trying to love Him more. On the contrary, it is by abandoning our trust in our flesh and by casting aside the lust of the flesh, by placing our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and thereby by letting the love of God reign our hearts, that we can live as the true disciples of Jesus Christ. Just as our hearts receive the remission of our sins, God simultaneously becomes the loveliest One to us all.
Our Lord said, �He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.?/i> This passage does not mean that we should not love our parents, but that we should realize that God is more worthy of our love and respect than our parents are. This is what our Lord is saying to us. In other words, because God is far more honorable than our parents of the flesh, and because He has given us far better things than our parents, we should love this God the most, and in this love of God should we also honor and love our parents of the flesh. Our Lord is far more lovable than our own wives, children, land, wealth, money, reputation, pleasure, ourselves, or anything else in this entire world. There is nothing in this world that is more lovable than our Lord.
My fellow believers, though we love ourselves, when we compare ourselves to the Lord, we cannot help but confess that the Lord is far more lovable and precious than us. Just as Peter confessed his faith by saying, �Yes, Lord; You know that I love You,?we, too, cannot avoid but make the same confession of faith. Our Lord is truly majestic and truly lovable to us. There is no one in this world, in the entire universe and for eternity, who is better than our Lord. No material can ever be better than our Lord. Nor can any pleasure ever be better than the Lord.
God�s workers love the Lord the most and serve Him. In fact, it is only such people who can become God�s laborers. And God also loves first the workers who always think of Him. Let me make it clear here that you and I must indeed live as such workers.
Sometimes, being parents, we may show more care for our children than the Lord, but we still believe in the center of our hearts that even our own children can never be more precious than the Lord Himself. Can you understand what I am trying to say here? If we were to compare our own children to the Lord and estimate their worth, our Lord is far more valuable than even our own children. It is not because we do not love our children that we love the Lord more, but we do so because our Lord is worthier than even our children. And to care for and cherish our children in the love of our Lord is true love. When I say that we love God more than our parents and children, some of you may mistakenly think that I am telling you not to love your children and parents and to abandon them, but this is not what I am saying here. I am not telling you to abandon your own children and parent, but to love God first.
Remember what the Lord said here, �He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me?(Matthew 10:38). A true worker of God is someone who can follow the Lord even amid hardship. You and I must be able to follow the Lord even as we face difficulties and hardship.
This is something that is actually very hard to practice. Having said, �He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me,?/i> our Lord then added, �And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.?/i> What He is telling us as a whole here is that we must love the Lord more than ourselves.
Every worker who follows God is bound to have his own cross. In other words, those who believe in Jesus and want to serve Him are bound to face hardship and suffering. And it is those who, even as they find themselves in the middle of this suffering, still trust in the Lord, persevere and endure, and still follow our Lord, that are the true workers of Jesus. In other words, those who follow the Lord not just when they are comfortable, but even as they face hardship, are the real workers of God.
It is through such workers of God that Jesus is fulfilling His will. My fellow believers, if this is indeed true, then you and I must all become God�s workers as well. We should not be satisfied at just being His saints. We must become His faithful workers. We must live our lives as His workers. Only then is God�s will fulfilled. Only when we live as His workers can we avoid our spiritual death and receive and enjoy all the blessings that God bestows on us.
My fellow believers, take a look at the brothers and sisters who have only recently received the remission of their sins. We see that because they have not been led to become God�s workers, too many of them are living without any purpose, even as they have become new creatures. When so many people are dying, and when so many souls are heading straight to hell, anyone who believes just by himself and does not spread the good news to others is a wicked one. Such people are like the servant who was given a talent, who will be selected out in the end (Matthew 25:28-30).
God is telling those of us who have received the remission of our sins to become His workers, regardless of whether we are insufficient or not. He is telling us to live as such workers who spread the gospel and whose lives are devoted to it. If we live our lives as these workers who serve the gospel, God will help us in countless ways. Why would He help us? Because it is only proper that the Father would give us more nourishments, so that we, as the branches of the vine of Jesus, would bear more fruits.
But what will happen if branches grow from the vine and yet they just sit there and do not bear any fruit? God will cut off from the main vine all such branches that remain fruitless no matter how much nourishment they receive. When the fruitless branches are cut off, new buds will sprout in their place. The old branches will then supply these new sprouts with nutrients and nourishment from the root, so that they may flower and bear grapes. When the predecessors of faith supply the new buds with the Word of God, the new branches will soon bear fruits.
Those who first have received the remission of their sins must travel around and spread the gospel, while the predecessor of faith continue to supply these newly born again people with nourishment. In this way, more people come to receive the remission of their sins. So it is through these old branches, and through the brothers and sisters who have just received the remission of their sins, that the gospel continues to be spread. As you spread the gospel, you need to teach people how they should live after receiving the remission of their sins.
If you and I do not serve the gospel after receiving the remission of our sins, we will fall apart from God�s Church. Anyone who has become a new branch must bear fruits and multiply; if he is lazy at this, the Lord will cut him loose. Therefore, if you have really received the remission of your sins, you must pray to God to give you stronger faith. And you need to listen to the Word of God diligently, and act according to the Word even though you are not good at practicing the Word. As we preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit according to the written Word of God, if we ever find ourselves at a loss for words, all that we have to do is pray and receive renewed strength.
My fellow believers, it is when you become God�s workers that you receive His blessings. If you have become righteous, then only when you live as God�s workers will He continue to supply you with endless nourishment. From this nourishment, you will then come to bear more fruits; and so that you would continue to bear even more fruits, God will continue to supply you with the sufficient nourishment that is needed for it. The branches that are thus nourished by faith are bound to grow into thick and large branches, and when these branches sprout even more buds and new branches grow out of them, they will become even larger and stronger. This is the desirable life of the righteous.
A vine tree is empty inside. None other than we ourselves are the vine branches. We who have decided to live as the workers of our God must empty out our hearts. And we must fill these emptied rooms of our hearts with the Word of God by believing in it. It would be nice if emptying our hearts were as easy as emptying a garbage can, but it surely is not the case: Emptying our hearts requires enormously difficult task of self-denial. Nonetheless, God�s workers know very well that the greater their suffering and hardship are, the more occasions there will be to use their faith, and the thicker and stronger the branches will get.
I would like to admonish all of you who have received the remission of your sins to become God�s workers, for God Himself, for the souls of the whole world, for your families and relatives, neighbors and friends, and for the sake of yourselves alike. Become the workers who serve the gospel, the workers who preach the gospel; become such workers of God. God will then bless you all.
It is my most ardent hope and prayer that you would all become God�s workers above all else, lest you should be preyed upon by the Devil. When you set your hearts upright before God and live as His workers, you will see yourselves that God indeed gives you more faith and helps you.
May God bless and guard you all!