The New Life Mission

Sermons

Subject 13 : The Gospel According to MATTHEW

[Chapter 14-1] (Matthew 14:1-12) The Lips of Spiritual Priests Must Keep The Knowledge of Truth

(Matthew 14:1-12)
“At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus and said to his servants, ‘This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.’ For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. Because John had said to him, ‘It is not lawful for you to have her.’ And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, ‘Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.’ And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her. So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus.”
 
 
The Scripture passage that we read today describes the death of John the Baptist. When the Roman Empire ruled Israel as its subjugated colony, it placed Herod as a tetrarch, and it was by Herod that John the Baptist was killed, for John had denounced Herod’s sin. King Herod had a brother named Philip, who had a wife called Herodias. When Herod took his brother’s wife and lived together, John the Baptist denounced him harshly for his unlawfulness. Herod was not pleased by this, and wanted to kill John right away, but he could not do so. At that time, people thought of John the Baptist and believed in him as one of the prophets of the Old Testament, because of this it was not easy for Herod to put John to death. So John was imprisoned instead. 
One day, at a celebration, Herodia’s daughter, who was Herod’s niece, danced so well that it carried the celebration. This dance was spectacular. Herod was so pleased by the dance that he swore an oath to the daughter of Herodias, promising her, “I will give you whatever you wish.” Then, as prompted by her mother she asked for the head of John the Baptist. Herod was at a loss, but because he could not renege on his promise, he ordered his soldiers to behead John the Baptist.
Because John the Baptist had rebuked Herod’s wrongdoings, he was killed by Herod and his wife. Likewise, many servants of God in the Bible were put to death for proclaiming what was right.
 
 
Who Was John the Baptist?
 
John the Baptist was the last prophet and priest of the Old Testament sent by God. And he was a legitimate descendant of Aaron. Our Lord said that the Kingdom of Heaven suffered violence since the days of John the Baptist (Matthew 11:12). John the Baptist was a servant of God who, fulfilling his priesthood as the High Priest of the Old Testament, baptized Jesus Christ and bore witness of Him as the sacrificial Lamb of God. 
John the Baptist also rebuked ordinary people for their sins, saying, “Repent, you brood of vipers.” Thanks to this, many people who heard his rebuke returned to God. Hearing John’s words of rebuke, the people of Israel came to recognize their sins and many of them returned to God.
The servants of God think of both the kings and the commoners of this world as the same and rebuke both their sins alike. John the Baptist did not just let Herod’s wrongdoing go by, but harshly denounced his sin. John dared to rebuke King Herod’s sin, indicating what a great servant of God he was. It was because John the Baptist was God’s servant that he was bold enough to bluntly rebuke even a king’s sin. In the Old Testament, all the servants of God were like this. 
But what about the present age? Are the so-called servants of God pointing out the congregations’ sins and preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit? In their servile attempt to please their own congregations and avert conflict at any cost, not only have they failed to point out the congregations’ sins, but they have also failed to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The believers of the gospel of the water and the Spirit must first point out people’s sins and testify the Truth of salvation that makes it possible for them to be born again. 
John the Baptist was someone who came before Jesus Christ to prepare the way of His salvation and his ministry was important. Since he rebuked boldly even the king for his sins, it was a foregone conclusion that he would also rebuke the ordinary people for their sins. By doing so, he turned many of them back to God. In other words, people came to realize their sins from his reproach and returned to God. 
Unless God’s servants point out people’s sins, people cannot realize their sins but fall into their corruption. They commit sin everyday as if they were having regular meals, not knowing the fact that the sources of their sins are latent in their hearts. They do not know what sin is, nor do they know the seriousness of their sins, for they only have a cursory knowledge on such issues. This is why so many Christians today believe in Jesus only as a religion of the world, without even realizing that they are bound to hell for their sins.
So unless the servants of God point out their sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, how could they realize the gravity of their sins? They are sinners who know neither God nor the condemnation of sin that awaits them. It is when the servants of God go to them and point out their sins that they can finally realize their hearts’ sins and return to God by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
We who believe in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit are the royal priests of the Kingdom of Heaven. As spiritual priests, we must carry on these two tasks well: to enable the sinners to realize their sins by pointing out their sins and iniquities, and to make them return to God to be saved by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. 
People living in this age are so uninterested in the Word of God that we cannot help but point out their sins. There are far too many people who do not realize the gravity of their sins even as they commit sin constantly. And even among the religious leaders, there are far too many swindlers who exploit their congregations through subtle deception. Therefore, the Apostle Paul also warned the true believers of his time that they had to beware of such false ministers, saying, “they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame--who set their mind on earthly things” (Philippians 3:18-19).
The religious leaders have turned countless people into mere religionists, and they are leading them to destruction. They tell their congregations to be faithful just to their own emotion as they carry on with their lives of faith, and they fill their hearts with fervent emotions with their selection of sad stories or emotionally charged praise songs. Given this, perhaps it is only natural that Christians with a flawed understanding of Jesus would overemphasize their own religious emotions. 
On the other hand, such religious leaders are constantly devising new programs that would please their congregations. They know, in other words, how to meet the carnal demands of their congregations. People are trying to enjoy all the pleasures of life now while they are still living, as if they already know that they are soon to die a miserable death and suffer forever. Knowing the suffering that will come to them, they try to enjoy themselves every chance they get and in anyway possible, so that they may enjoy all the pleasures of life beforehand. This is because their future is dark. In short, in today’s secularized Christianity, the law of supply and demand is strictly being applied, and this is why the religious life is no more than a condition of someone’s well-being.
People say that John the Baptist was a failure, since he was beheaded, but this is far from the truth. John the Baptist was a special servant of God who fulfilled all his duties while on this earth. John the Baptist lived on this earth for about 30 years, and he shouted in the wilderness, “Repent, you brood of vipers,” and he also rebuked even the king. So although John the Baptist was loved much, he was also hated much as well. We, too, cannot avoid but rebuke many Christian leaders who are misleading their followers. Actually, they do not acknowledge the Word of God or His law. They only try to prevent their followers from hearing the real Word of God, saying, “You should never go to that kind of church where people emphasize only God’s Word. Their faith is only fanatical.” We cannot avoid rebuking them. It is only right for us to rebuke the Christians who have gone astray and be hated by them, just like John the Baptist. 
Among Christian denominations, those affiliated with the Presbyterian Church emphasize only the Law of God and demand their followers to live apparently pious lives. Not knowing the gospel of the water and the Spirit, they do not preach it to their followers, but they only point out their sins and render them immobile and bound by these sins—this, too, is a grave mistake. 
 
 
What Must We Do?
 
We who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are definitely God’s servants. Therefore, we must fulfill these two duties—to point out people’s sins and to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to them. We must point out people’s sins and rebuke them, and as priests, we must offer sacrifices for their sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We have been entrusted with this precious task that leads people to the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but this is not easy.
When the servants of God point out people’s sins, they come to realize their iniquities and find refuge in the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by Jesus Christ. Only when the servants of God correctly point out people’s sin can they come before Jesus Christ and receive the remission of their sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit; if they don’t, it is all rendered impossible.
Thus far, in various ways, such as through my books, sermons, and articles on our web site, I have pointed out people’s sins. When I preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit, I also point out people’s sins clearly. No matter who might be standing before me, if this person needs to hear the gospel, then I say to him clearly how sinful he is and how he will go to hell for his sin.
A while ago I preached the gospel to a nurse, and this nurse claimed that she had never sinned before. We talked for a couple of hours and all this time she said that she had never sinned, not even once, and that she had never broken the Law, the Word of God. No matter how I explained the Ten Commandments to her and told her how breaking any one of them is sinning, she just kept insisting that she had never sinned. So I got very frustrated. 
“Are you sure that you never sinned?”
“Yes, I’ve never sinned.” 
So I asked her honestly, “Haven’t you had any adulterous imagination lusting after a man?”
Her face reddened then and she confessed that she had imagined such adulterous thoughts. In fact, everyone is like that; how could there be anyone who never sins when strictly applied with the Word of God?
However, what happens when people admit their sins before God? God allows such people to hear the gospel Truth without fail. Then, by hearing and believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, they receive the remission of their sins. The nurse had also claimed to have never sinned at first, but after admitting her sinful nature and hearing the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit, she was utterly grateful.
Before I preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit, I point out people’s sins first. It is not just I who do this, but all gospel preachers do so. This is because only when one receives the remission of his sins by fully knowing and admitting himself, and accepting and believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, can this gospel be rooted deeply in his heart. It is because when people’s sins are mentioned only in passing, the remission of sin is not actually fulfilled in their hearts.
My fellow believers, all of us are wicked before God. Do you not commit such sins as evil thoughts, murder, jealousy, adultery, thievery, pride, and foolishness? Do you not commit such sins? 
People generally think that they are not the ones who commit such sins. This is why we have to point out their sins in concrete ways. We should then preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit. 
It is only right for us, the born-again, to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to sinners. When we preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we need to first point out everyone’s sins and enable him to realize that he is a grave sinner. To preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit after this is easy. “Jesus shouldered all your sins by being baptized, and then He died on the Cross, rose from the dead again, and has thereby saved us from all our sins.” We should then confirm whether he now has sin in his heart or not: “Did Jesus take away not only your sins but all the sins of the world? And was He condemned for your sins or not? If so, do you have sin in your heart or not?” We need to confirm this with his confession of faith.
When we have fellowship with someone trying to enable him to receive his remission of sin, we should approach him with honest hearts. We, the born-again, are God’s prophets and priests and we must clearly state what is right and what is wrong. When you and I preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit throughout the whole world, we must clearly bear witness of people’s sins, and then testify the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
 
 
John the Baptist Was a Servant of God Sent by Him for All Mankind
 
John the Baptist truly was a servant of God sent by Him. It is not easy to criticize a king for his sins. But John the Baptist was imprisoned because of such faithfulness to his duty. Imprisoned and facing his possible death, he still continued to point out the king’s sins and to rebuke him. John the Baptist himself knew that he would die. He knew very well that he would be put to death if he kept criticizing the king. But he still went ahead and rebuked the king. He was faithful to his role, for truly he was God’s servant. John the Baptist lacked nothing as the representative of mankind, and he was more than qualified to be the greatest of all the prophets of the Old Testament. In other words, John the Baptist was greater than Abraham, Moses, David, the Prophet Isaiah, the Prophet Ezekiel, or even the Prophet Daniel. Truly he was God’s servant.
You and I need to be strict on ourselves when this is called for. Since we are insufficient, there are areas that need to be sheltered, but before God and in the Word, we need to at least admit ourselves and acknowledge what is wrong as wrong. Only when our hearts are honest and pure before God can we receive the remission of our sins by faith, by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And it is such people who can receive the Holy Spirit and become God’s servants, for it is they who have received the remission of sin. 
If we failed to clearly point out people’s sins and instead skirt over them, the remission of sin cannot be attained, for people would not know their sinfulness. Unless we admit our sins, none of us can attain the remission of sin or the Holy Spirit, no matter how fervently we may profess our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. In the Bible, Mark 7:21-23 lists various sins that we cannot commit before God. We must clearly reveal ourselves before God as sinners who commit such sins with both our acts and minds. The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death and that destruction awaits all who have sinned, we should just admit that we have such sins and that we are bound to hell unless we receive the remission of these sins. Then we must believe that to save us from our sins Jesus was baptized and shed His blood. If we preach the gospel in any other cursory manner, salvation cannot be reached. 
We acknowledge that John the Baptist was the greatest servant of God. This is because, first of all, John the Baptist baptized Jesus in obedience to the mission that God the Father had entrusted to him. He also exalted Jesus by testifying, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)! Due to his testimony, we can now come to know the Truth of how Jesus took upon our sins with His baptism, and we can also be saved from all our sins once and for all by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. As the light of the world, we must fulfill the same role of John the Baptist, and we must also faithfully fulfill our role as the royal priests who spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit. 
However, God’s servants must have both faith and wisdom as it is written in the Bible, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). God’s servants should speak of the true gospel clearly to those who acknowledge God and admit their sinful nature; if you ask someone who doesn’t acknowledge God nor His Word about his sins, “Do you have sins in your heart?” then you will only be hated and denounced by him. In other words, God’s servants must also be wise. 
In this world there are those whose spirits are poor, those who can find no satisfaction from the things of the world, those who are mourning over their sins, and those who are lost and looking for the Truth. To such people, we should point out their sins with the Word of God and preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
We are the royal priests of the age of the New Testament, who are proclaiming the gospel of the water and the Spirit on this earth. Because sin is so widespread in this present age, it is easy to uncover people’s sins as they are. It’s all right if we teach them just what the Word of God is speaking about sin. If we preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to anyone who admits his sinful nature as it is, then he can be remitted from his sins for sure. As we have preached the gospel of the water and the Spirit to people, many have received the remission of their sins, and are returning to God. 
The role of the priests in the age of the Old Testament was to offer sacrifices according to the sacrificial system. They made someone lay his hands on the head of a sacrificial animal to pass his sins, drawing its blood and putting it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and offering the sacrifice by burning its flesh. By doing so, the priests made it possible for the just love of God to be fulfilled. And this was how the people were able to receive the remission of their sins by faith. 
We are the royal priests before God. The priests stood between the people and God and passed the sins of the people to the offering of sacrifice. We must never forget that we are spiritual priests before God and we must carry out our duties wisely by thus believing so. 
Now, we must point out to people whether or not they have sinned before God, teach them that anyone who has sin has not been saved, and to those who acknowledge this, preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit. They will then believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and receive the remission of their sins. To plow the fields of their hearts and sow the seed of the Word of Life is the main job of spiritual priests. No matter what anyone says, the lips of the spiritual priests must keep the knowledge of the Truth and dedicate all their efforts to the spreading of the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
We do not know what will happen tomorrow. But we have to unite with the gospel of the water and the Spirit until the very end of the world. We need to realize that we will be cast into hell if we have sin, and we must have real faith in this. If there is sin in your hearts now, you must realize that all your sins will indeed be blotted out if you believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and you must believe in all the Word of God. We need to follow and recognize what God speaks to us; we all need such wisdom and understanding.
I believe that this world will not last much longer. In these last days, I am determined to spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit to all before I depart. This is why I want to spread this gospel forcefully with you. I see how people from unknown countries, whose names I’ve never heard of, continue to request our gospel books and my heart is convinced even more. So many people in such countries are receiving the remission of their sins. I am truly thankful to God for this.
I have a great respect for John the Baptist. As the representative of mankind, John the Baptist was faithful to his duties until the end. He is indeed the greatest of all those born of women and the last High Priest of the Old Testament. There were many priests before him, but he who passed the sins of mankind to Jesus as the representative priest of all mankind is none other than John the Baptist. 
This is why Jesus said in Matthew 11:12, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” This passage implies that Jesus, through John the Baptist, accepted all the sins of mankind with His baptism. The violent here refer to the believers who have concrete and proper faith enough to take the Kingdom of God. Therefore, everyone must receive the remission of sin and take Heaven by force by concretely believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. But the unbelievers will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and instead will be cast into the everlasting fire of hell.
For you and I, our purpose for life is to spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit together. And it is my earnest desire to live a faithful life as a servant of God, like John the Baptist. Apart from spreading the gospel, there is nothing that I want from this world. What is there to desire from the world? Not just I, but all the born-again righteous do not have any other desire but to spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And our greatest wish is to enter the Kingdom of the Lord and live in glory. We want to be forever rewarded in His Kingdom for the hardships that we suffered while on this earth. And we want to shed no more tears, nor see any suffering, but to enjoy glory and splendor forever. Since the Lord has promised us that He would fulfill all this for us, we believe in this promise. 
I consider it extremely important to keep promises, even if they are made with another man. There are many people in this world who have little regard for promises and take trust too lightly, but I am sure that to keep a promise, no matter to whom it was made, is truly noble. How about the promises of God then? Aren’t the promises of God more than enough to be revered, for God has never broken and will never break any of them? So I do not consider it a waste to offer my everything to Him to attain the fulfillment of His promises. To enter the Kingdom He has promised we have to be faithful to our priesthood that remits away people’s sins according to the Word of God.
I have a favor to ask from you, together, let us spread this gospel of the water and the Spirit until the end of the world. I ask you to pray for the gospel, to bear with one another even as we have many insufficiencies, to spread this gospel with me, and to enjoy glory together in the end. Let us all fulfill our priesthood faithfully by placing our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and then go forth to God.