“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!’ And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, ‘Arise, and do not be afraid.’ When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, ‘Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.’ And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.”
In these end times, God has given us members of His church, made us preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit all over the world, and enabled us to spread this gospel to souls in Korea as well. I thank God for blessing us like this with faith. Today in this last age, both laymen and every pastor in the mainstream Christianity, including Evangelicals, are devoting all their attention only to building bigger church buildings. It takes a tremendous amount of financial resources to construct a church building. So pastors are now mobilizing all kinds of schemes to wring money out of their congregation. I heard that a certain pastor was collecting money almost by force, by nagging his congregation to death, constantly telling them how his colleague was building a church that costs $3 million, and how he had to match this. Although they have built a huge church building with marble walls, there actually aren’t that many people inside this church. It’s said that by the time the construction was over, almost every church member had fled.
I even heard of a man who, even though he made only about $700 a month working as a street cleaner, took out a bank loan to offer it for the construction of his church, and now he has to pay $750 every month just for the interest payment alone. All his hard-earned money isn’t enough to make even the interest payment, much less the principal. He is so broke that his pastor has to assist him a little every month now. So it’s said that the members of this church have to offer all their salaries to the church and survive on whatever little allowances that they may get from their pastor.
Such things are very common nowadays. Would such people continue to attend church? No, of course not. When this man can’t even make interest payments, much less pay off the principal, what joy would he find to attend church? Since he took out a bank loan and offered it all to his church, when he thinks about how his money has gone into those red bricks, he probably can’t stand seeing the church.
My fellow believer, our church was never such a church. Yet in this world there are many churches like this. The Lord said that as lawlessness would abound in these end times, many people’s love would turn cold (Matthew 24:12). Just how completely have the religionists of the world departed from the Word of God in their ministry? Even as they say that the world is a dark place and that its end is near, are they not exploiting their congregation for money? If Jesus were to come in a few days, all such ministers’ need is just some money to lead the kind of life they want. But what’s the use of all this money when the end of the world is impending?
My fellow believers, let me make the following point clear here: The Word of the Bible says that no one knows the day and the hour when Jesus will return to this earth. There is no record in the Bible that specifies exactly what day and time the Lord will return, and it only writes about the signs that indicate the imminent return of the Lord. You should realize that Jesus will come when the Great Tribulation descends on this world, when the righteous are martyred, and when the world is completely destroyed by the plagues of seven trumpets. Jesus will pour the plagues of seven trumpets on this earth, and it is in the middle of the seven-year Tribulation, when the authority of the saints are all broken that Jesus will come. It’s not an exaggeration to say that He will come when the Great Tribulation is almost over.
You must therefore never allow yourself to be deceived by false prophets. There are many people who say, “Jesus will return before the Great Tribulation. He will lift us up before the Great Tribulation descends on this world. So why do we need all these material things of the world when Jesus will return before the Great Tribulation? What’s the use for them? Offer them all to God. Donate them all to your church to build it with marble and then let us together go to the Kingdom of Heaven when the Lord returns. Let’s throw away all our earthly possessions and go to the Kingdom of Heaven.” Such people are all thieves and frauds.
Almost all pastors who have not been born again, including Evangelicals, espouse the theory of pre-tribulation rapture to wiring money out of their congregation. They say to the congregation, “Why are you trying to store treasures on this earth, when our Lord will return before the Great Tribulation?” Such a claim is most likely to be a stepping stone to fraud. You probably remember how a while ago Pastor Jang-lim Lee from the Dami Mission misled people by claiming that Jesus would return and his followers would be lifted up on December 28, 1992, all the while hiding checks under his bed. Didn’t he also try to flee abroad and was caught red-handed in the airport with his checks hidden in his shoes? That man was a complete fraud. My fellow believers, do you know just how many swindlers there are among today’s pastors? There are way too many. Out of a thousand ministers, only about 50 are decent at most and the remaining 950 are all swindlers.
How can we then discern that these pastors are frauds? A tree is known by its fruit. Even though their own followers still have sin in their hearts, these false pastors are not interested in this issue. They are only interested in money, so when their church members donate money, they are happy to appoint them to church offices indiscriminately. But if these church members go bankrupt and can no longer make any donations to the church, then from then on they give them cold shoulder and ignore them completely. That is their fruit. It is written, “A tree is known by its fruit.” So no matter what any pastor says, you and I should all live diligently, knowing that we have to live in this world until we go through the Great Tribulation as much as we have to before our Lord returns. Whatever you do, whether you have a job or run a business, I ask you to work diligently and lead your life of faith united with the church. When you unite your heart with the church, let your troubles be known and ask the church to pray for you, and seek help from your minister to get you through your hardship. Your minister and your fellow saints will all pray for you. I admonish you to live your life faithfully until the day this world ends, until the day your life is over. Do not delude yourself into thinking that even if you have sin, Jesus would somehow lift you up if you just believe in Him. As a magnet lifts up only metals, sinners cannot be lifted up when the Lord Himself descends from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
Rapture means to be lifted up to the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Of course, Jesus will lift us up. However, the Bible does not say that rapture will come before the Great Tribulation. It says that this event will happen well into the Great Tribulation. The Bible says that Jesus will come with the sound of the last trumpet (1 Corinthians 15:52). When will the last trumpet sound? It will sound at the end of this world. Why will God bring the Great Tribulation to this world? He will bring the Great Tribulation during the last harvest to save the people of Israel. And He will bring it to stomp on those on this earth who stand against God and challenge Him impudently. Through the Great Tribulation, God will give people one more chance. By allowing the Great Tribulation, He will harvest the souls once more for the last time out of those who had hesitated and dithered to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Also, God wants to discern His wheat from the chaff through the Great Tribulation, as it is written, “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12). When His winnowing fan blows the wind of the Great Tribulation, the chaff will be blown out and only the wheat will remain to be gathered into the barn.
This world is now going through the end times. However, we do not know exactly on what day, month, and year the Lord would come. So no matter how anyone may claim that Jesus has appeared on some mountain in a village or a certain church, you shouldn’t go there. No matter what anyone may say that Jesus has appeared to some pastor and is speaking through him, you must not be stirred up by such liars. Once the Catholic Church of Korea bragged that there appeared a cross in the sky over their gathering while they held a big outdoor mass. But what use is it for Christian sinners to see the cross appearing in the sky with their naked eyes? Just as the Bible says, “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10), our salvation is reached by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with the heart. Until the day the Lord returns, we must lead our lives of faith diligently.
Look at the Swindlers Deceiving People under the Pretext of the Coming Tribulation of the Last Days
To wring money out of the congregation, false prophets argue for the theory of pre-tribulation rapture and make ridiculous claims, saying, “When I am lifted up, feel free to use my camera on my desk.” Are they then saying that they will be raptured but not their congregation? These people are nothing more than swindlers. Let me make it clear for you, you must never allow yourself to be deceived by such people. God’s true church keeps superficial adornments for its chapel minimal, and spends all its resources on spreading the gospel and saving all the people of the world. Do you think that it’s because we have no money that we put in a small pulpit like this one here and keep the flower arrangements small? No, we are also wealthy. However, we live frugally only for the gospel’s sake.
There are many charlatans in this present age. Whether it is a born-again church or not, or a church that preaches the true gospel, if any church asks you to take a loan out and offer it to build a church building, then you should realize that its pastor is a swindler, spit at him, and leave the church. Are we living in such an easy and prosperous age? No, everyone is having a tough time to make ends meet, and this includes believers as well. Why on earth does any church need to build a mammoth building when its members are struggling to make a living? A 3,000 square foot building can be rented for $1,000US a month with a $10,000 deposit, and a two or three-story building for about $1,500 a month with a $20,000 deposit. So why spend so much money to build a church building? Will the price of the building go up when it’s completed? No, it will go down. Why do some pastors then rake in tens of millions of dollars to construct church buildings? This kind of money is enough to spread the gospel all over the world for more than ten times.
Do you think that any pastor with a holy voice is a true pastor? Do you think that anyone who has graduated from seminary is a servant of God? No, God must approve this servant. False prophets make only their voices holy and preach to the congregation, “live virtuously,” but such sermons are given often enough in ethics classes in schools. It’s because of sin that people are tormented now and it’s because of sin that they are suffering. Yet these false prophets are incapable of preaching to such people about how their sins have disappeared. They cannot solve people’s spiritual problems, but only speak of superficial things. The people of the world know such things better. They know better than anyone else how to live in this world. When people come to church, they do so to listen to the Word of God and be saved from their sins. So how can anyone who can’t even meet this purpose call himself a pastor?
My fellow believers, it is when we ourselves are denied and humbled that Jesus is exalted. Is Jesus exalted when a pastor pretends to be holy, blusters out bravado, and speaks smoothly only in words? No, it’s when our insufficiencies are exposed that the holiness of Jesus and His righteousness are revealed. If one is too holy and perfect, then all that shines is just his own righteousness, while the perfection of Jesus is not manifested. In reality, everyone is insufficient before God. Isn’t this true? Of course it is. Yet despite this, there are many pastors who choose their words carefully only to pretend to be holy, just like the Pharisees. Did you see any swindler who is not a sweet talker? When a swindler is about to commit a fraud, he has every word figured out, ready to tempt his victim with his smooth talking. If a charlatan looks like a charlatan, then he is a failure.
How are today’s pastors any different from swindlers? They get paid tens of thousands of dollars just for giving a few sermons a week. Whenever they visit their church members’ homes, they also get a thick envelope filled with cash. But despite all these rewards, is there anything that these pastors really do for their congregation? When a pastor visits you, don’t give him a white enveloped stuffed with money. It is only a matter of fact for any pastor to visit the saints’ homes, pray for them, and share the Word in fellowship. If you keep offering such envelopes to your pastor, soon he will be hooked on them in no time and try to visit you time after time.
Let’s be honest here. When pastors at worldly churches visit church members’ homes, don’t they offer them envelopes stuffed with money? Of course they do. But to do so is to turn both the giver and the receiver into thieves. Both are wicked. Why should any church member offer such things when a fair salary is already paid to the pastor by the church? Why should anyone prepare such an elaborate feast for his pastor’s visit? Pastors already eat well enough; there is no need for you to go through all that trouble. If your pastor visits you, then ask him whether he had dinner, and if he says that he hasn’t had one, then treat him to the usual dinner that you have, not a fancy feast. Don’t fill the table with all kinds of dishes even when the pastor tells you that he already had dinner and don’t put an envelope stuffed with money on the table.
If you have any donations to offer, then just drop them in the collection box. I will then take them out and spend them all for the gospel. In the churches of this world, however, it’s a common practice for members to offer envelopes stuffed with money when their pastors visit them. Also, instead of putting offerings in a collection box, people put them in an envelope, write down their names and the amount on its front, and pile them up on the pulpit. This has become virtually official. That, however, is a very wrong practice.
No matter what others may do, as far as you and I are concerned, let us all serve the Lord until the end of the world and lead our lives to save other souls. Rather than looking at our own country, let us look toward the whole world, and spread the gospel everywhere. I also ask you not to try to front your own righteousness in the church. If it’s beneficial to God, to the saints, to the servants of God, and to other souls, then you should swallow your pride, give up your stubbornness, and stop being so conceited. Whenever any insufficiencies are exposed while following the Lord, you should admit them right away, saying, “I am a man of so many shortcomings. This is who I am.” Such people are able to lead their lives of faith comfortably in the church. It’s such people who can find grace from God.
In contrast, those who can’t bring themselves to do this and can’t admit when their insufficiencies are exposed, saying, “I am actually quite virtuous. This is not really who I am,” are bound to suffer. As we carry on with our lives, we may sometimes do good things and we may sometimes make mistakes. Whenever we make a mistake, all that we have to do is just admit our wrong-doings as soon as possible and say, “I was trying my best, but I failed,” and believe that Jesus took away all these sins. I admonish you all to never be deceived by the spiritual thieves. For you and me alike, it’s a blessing that we have found God’s church and are leading our lives of faith inside it.
What Is Jesus Trying to Say by the Account of His Transfiguration?
The passage that we read today describes an event that took place when Jesus took three disciples, Peter, James, and John, to a mountain. On the mountain, Jesus was transfigured before them and His face shone like the sun and His clothes turned as white as the light. And then Moses and Elijah came down from Heaven and talked with Jesus. His three disciples saw this. Suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” The disciples then became very afraid and fell on their faces trembling in fear.
Peter had at first said to Jesus boldly, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But Jesus was not about to permit this. When the disciples heard the voice from Heaven, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.
Jesus then touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” The three disciples were all trembling in fear, but when they looked up at the voice of Jesus calling them, they saw that He had returned to His previous image. That Jesus did not give any response to Peter’s request to build three tabernacles means that He had ignored it. Though Peter had requested earnestly, in His dignity, Jesus did not say anything in return. Then on His way down from the mountain, Jesus said to the disciples, “Tell the vision of My encounter with Elijah and Moses to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.” The disciples then asked Him, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” So Jesus said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things.”
The disciples asked this question because Jesus had met with Elijah on the mountain of transfiguration. We may then also wonder here, “Jesus said that Elijah has to come first to restore all things, but what exactly will be restored?” Elijah is actually very important to our salvation. Why did Moses and Elijah talk with the shining Jesus there? Why did Jesus show this to the disciples, and what is He trying to say to you and me today? Why did the scribes and biblical scholars say that Elijah would come first and restore everything? We may raise such questions here. Moses is also extremely important to the ministry of our salvation. That’s because it was through Moses that God gave the Law. The Lord says, “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” It is Jesus Christ who has saved us and it is through Moses that God gave the Law to mankind. That is what God is saying.
Moses received two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments from God. And he also received 613 commandments outlining the “dos and don’ts” of life. Moses then delivered this Law to his people. The sacrificial system of the Tabernacle was also included in this Law. It is according to the requirements of this sacrificial system that God has saved us.
God first commanded Moses to build the Tabernacle with specific instructions. And He bestowed His grace on the people of Israel, so that they would be able to receive the remission of their sins through the sacrifice of atonement offered in the Tabernacle. Leviticus chapter four describes the sacrificial system through which the Israelites were remitted from their sins by taking the following steps: they passed their sins to a sacrificial animal by laying their hands on its head, cut its throat and drew its blood, handed it over to the priests to put some of this blood on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and poured the rest on the ground, and then offered its flesh to God by burning it on the altar with fire. So in the Old Testament whenever the people of Israel committed sin, they brought a sacrificial animal like a bull or a goat, passed their sins onto the animal by making sure to lay their hands on its head as commanded by God, cut its throat and drew its blood, and sacrificed it to God. That is how they received the remission of their sins. God had given all of these requirements of the Law through Moses.
Moses also wrote in the Bible that the Savior would come. In fact, it was also through Moses that God wrote the book of Genesis. My fellow believers, would it be okay for us to have just the New Testament without the Old Testament? No, this Old Testament contains the promises that God gave to us through His servants long ago, before the Lord came to this earth. God had promised our salvation in the Old Testament and He fulfilled it all in the New Testament.
The Israelites in the Old Testament were remitted from their daily sins and yearly sins through the sacrificial system of the Tabernacle. And through Moses they came to know the Law of God. It was all through Moses that the people of Israel came to realize what God wanted from them, what the Law was, and what sin was. But here in today’s Scripture passage, Jesus didn’t just talk with Moses on the mountain, but with Elijah as well. Why then did Elijah have to come to this earth prior to Jesus? And who exactly is Elijah here? When we turn to Matthew 11:11-14, we see Jesus saying, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.”
Who Is Elijah to Come? He Is John the Baptist
In the Bible, Jesus mentioned John the Baptist frequently. So we need to ask some questions here and search the Bible for their answers: “Why did Elijah have to come to this earth prior to the Messiah? Why must he come for everything to be restored? Was John the Baptist indispensable for our salvation?” Jesus said in Matthew 21:32, “For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.” The Lord said here that John came to us in the way of righteousness. What is the way of righteousness then? Jesus explains here that the reason why John the Baptist came was to lead the entire human race to the right path, to the road to the Kingdom of Heaven. He said, “John came to us in the way of righteousness, and he is Elijah who is to come.” In other words, John the Baptist and Elijah were the ones who had ministered the same kind of work before God.
We’ve already examined Moses, so let’s now take a closer look at Elijah. Must Elijah come to this earth without fail? Before we answer this question, however, let’s turn to another question first: “Did God really say in the Old Testament that He would send Elijah?”
The Old Testament ends with the following passage in Malachi 4:5-6:
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.
And he will turn
The hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
The Book of Malachi here describes just how utterly corrupt the priests of the time were. So through the Prophet Malachi, God rebuked these priests extremely harshly. Saying, “All these so-called servants of God are garbage,” God said that He would send us Elijah before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord before the arrival of the end of this world.
Why, then, must God send Elijah prior to the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord? What’s the reason? Is it absolutely necessary for Elijah to come to this earth? When we turn to 1 Kings chapter 18, we see how Elijah confronted 850 prophets of Asherah and Baal, and showed the people of Israel that Jehovah was the real God. Elijah had thereby led all the people of Israel who were worshipping Idols back to Jehovah God. He was a powerful servant of God.
Then, must Elijah come to this world without fail? Yes, he must come without fail. I will now explain the reason why Elijah had to come without fail.
The Old Testament’s Sacrifice of the Day of Atonement
To understand the Old Testament’s sacrifice of the Day of Atonement, let us turn to Leviticus 16:29-34 here: “‘This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you. For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever. And the priest, who is anointed and consecrated to minister as priest in his father’s place, shall make atonement, and put on the linen clothes, the holy garments; then he shall make atonement for the Holy Sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tabernacle of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year.’ And he did as the LORD commanded Moses.”
This passage describes the sacrifice of the Day of Atonement that Aaron gave on the tenth day of the seventh month. According to the sacrificial system of the Tabernacle, daily sacrifices were offered when an Israelite brought a sacrificial animal himself, passed his sins onto it by laying his hands on its head, cut its throat and drew its blood, and gave this blood to the priest along with its flesh. The priest then put some of this blood on the horns at the four corners of the alter of burnt offering and poured the rest on the ground. All the flesh of the animal was cut into pieces, along with the fat that was removed from the entrails, and everything that was clean was put on and burnt on the altar, while everything that was unclean was thrown outside. God called this a burnt offering or a sin offering.
Just as we cannot blot out all our sins by offering our own prayers of repentance, God knew that the people of Israel could not eradicate all their sins through their daily sacrifices. So He established the Day of Atonement to be observed once a year. Its date was set for the tenth day of the seventh month. Having set this date for the Day of Atonement, God raised Aaron, Moses’ elder brother, as the High Priest for the people of Israel, and through him passed their sins onto their sacrificial animal. The High Priest first offered a sin offering with a bull for himself and his household. By laying his hands on the head of this bull, Aaron the High Priest passed his sins and his family’s sins. In other words, by first offering this sacrifice that passed the sins of everyone ministering in the Tabernacle, Aaron ensured that the priests would all receive the remission of their sins first.
Following this sacrifice, Aaron brought two goats, and took one of them into the Tabernacle. Laying his hands on the goat’s head, he passed the sins of the people of Israel to the goat, saying, “Lord, the people of Israel have committed such and such sins. They’ve committed adultery, they’ve committed murder, and they’ve broken each of Your Ten Commandments. I now pass all these sins to this goat.” He then cut the goat’s throat, drew its blood, and took this blood into the Most Holy. To step into the Most Holy, where the Ark of the Testimony was placed, Aaron had to pass through the Holy Place. So the High Priest took a censor and filled it with burning coals from the altar of incense, as well as filling his two hands with finely ground sweet incense, and then stepped into the veil, thus making sure that the Most Holy would be filled with the aroma of the incense. Inside the Most Holy was the Ark of the Testimony, measuring 3.75 ft (113 cm) in length, 2.25 ft (68 cm) in width, and 2.25 ft (68 cm) in height. The cover of this Ark is called the Mercy Seat. It’s on there that the High Priest sprinkled the blood of the goat seven times.
Golden bells were attached to the hem of the garments of the High Priest. So when the High Priest sprinkled the blood inside the Most Holy, the people outside could hear the sound of the golden bells. They heard the bells ringing seven times, as it was set in the sacrificial system of God. The people of Israel were then assured of their remission of sin, saying, “As required by God, all my yearly sins have now been passed onto the sacrificial animal. All the sins of the past year, which I could not atone with my daily offerings, have now been blotted out.” That is how the people of Israel received the remission of their sins.
They obtained the remission of their daily sins by bringing a sacrificial animal by themselves, passing their sins onto it by themselves, and killing it by themselves. Their years sins, on the other hand, were passed on by Aaron, the representative of all the priests of the people of Israel, on behalf of the entire people. When Aaron died, his first son succeeded him to minister as the High Priest. The office of the High Priest continued to be passed down onto the descendants of Aaron, but at any given time there was only one High Priest representing the people of Israel. The High Priest was ordained at the age of 30 and resigned when he turned 50. There lies the reason why Jesus was baptized at the age of 30.
Like this, the people of Israel believed that their yearly sins were all remitted away once and for all. They believed that the Messiah would come and that He would accept not only daily and yearly sins but also all the timeless sins by being baptized in a form of the laying on of hands. They believed that He would be condemned on the Cross and that He would thereby save the entire human race.
However, all the priests of the Old Testament were corrupted. Rather than sacrificing unblemished animals as God had specified, they brought unfit animals that could not even be sold anywhere, and said to God, “Lord, please accept our offerings.” When the ordinary Israelites brought unblemished animals, the priests set them aside all for themselves and sacrificed blemished animals to God instead. They were corrupt beyond description. That’s why God told the Israelites to turn to Him in the Book of Malachi.
Malachi 4:5-6 says, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.
And he will turn
The hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
God said that by sending Elijah, He would turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. Where else but here can we find the need for Elijah to come to this earth? He had to come so that he could turn God’s heart to His people and to turn everyone’s heart to God his Creator.
When we turn to Luke, we see that John the Baptist was born six months before Jesus. John’s lineage was from the house of Aaron the High Priest. When his father Zacharias went to the Temple to offer sacrifices on behalf of the people of Israel, God had appeared to him and said, “Zacharias, I will give you a son. You shall name him John.” Zacharias was an old man. His wife Elizabeth was also an old woman. As Elizabeth was long past her menopause, it was completely unthinkable for her to bear any child, yet God spoke like this in the Sanctuary.
Why then must Elijah come to this world? And why is it that Elijah who was to come is John the Baptist? Since Jesus Himself said, “Elijah who is to come is John the Baptist,” John the Baptist is Elijah to come. This does not mean Elijah would come in his old self, but it means that God would establish an earthly priest between mankind and Himself, just as Elijah had intermediated between God and the people of Israel. That priest is none other than John the Baptist.
Who was the prophet most prized by God? It was Elijah. That’s why God had promised that He would send Elijah. In other words, God had said that He would entrust someone like Elijah with the work of turning His heart to people and their hearts to God and make him fulfill the role of a mediator between God and mankind. But isn’t Jesus our Interceder actually? Why did God then say that He would send Elijah? The reason for this is because every priest back then was all corrupted. That’s why God needed to send a prophet like Elijah.
The Old Testament was to end with the birth of Jesus. It had been repeatedly prophesied in the Old Testament how the Messiah would come and how the Son of God would descend on this earth, and so with the appearance of this promised Messiah, all these prophecies were to be fulfilled and the age of prophecy was to end.
John the Baptist Was Born Six Months Prior to the Birth of Jesus
God sent John the Baptist prior to the Messiah. He brought him to this world through the wife of Zacharias, a priest from the division of Abijah.
Let’s turn to Luke 1:5-6: “There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”
It is also written in Luke 1:8-17: “So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’”
This is what God Himself said to Zacharias. Let’s turn further down to Luke 1:57-63: “Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her. So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias. His mother answered and said, ‘No; he shall be called John.’ But they said to her, ‘There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.’ So they made signs to his father—what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, ‘His name is John.’ So they all marveled.”
Finally, let’s read from verses 67-80: “Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: ‘Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham: To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. ‘And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.’ So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.”
Why did John the Baptist have to come six months before Jesus? That’s because the Lord had to accept all the sins of mankind from the High Priest of the earth. When the High Priest died, his son succeeded his priesthood to continue on with the office, but for several hundred years before the coming of Jesus, all the priests had turned corrupt. Lusting after material possessions, these priests had been completely corrupted. So the lineage of priesthood was cut off. However, God had preserved Zacharias the priest, a descendant of Aaron the High Priest, and through Zacharias God brought John to this world to baptize Jesus.
In the spirit of Elijah, John was to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. And just as God had made the people of Israel pass their sins onto their sacrificial animal through the High Priest, so did God make John the Baptist baptize Jesus in exactly the same way. That is why God had brought John the son of Zacharias to this world six months before Jesus. In other words, God sent John the Baptist, who had the spirit of Elijah, as the representative of all mankind who would pass all the sins of everyone in this world to Jesus the Lamb of God. John the Baptist was chosen and raised by God Himself. God had chosen him to carry out this work of passing all the sins of mankind to His Son, Jesus Christ.
God had said, “So I will send Elijah. I will strike you if you do not turn around and refuse to believe in the Word delivered by him,” and according to this promise, He sent John the Baptist to be born on this earth. John the Baptist is the very Elijah whom God had promised to send again. What exactly did John the Baptist do then when he came to this earth? He passed sin to Jesus in the Jordan River. That’s why Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, “For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him” (Matthew 21:32). John came in the way of righteousness. He came to this earth to lead us humans to the right path, so that we may receive the remission of our sins. John was sent to this earth by God the Father Himself, according to His will. He came in the spirit of Elijah.
However, when John the Baptist came to this earth, many religionists did not believe him. They did not believe that John the Baptist was sent by God, that he came in the spirit of Elijah, and that he was the very servant of God who was to baptize Jesus Christ and thus pass the sins of the world to Him. The Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the scribes especially, did not believe him. Who believed him then? They were none other than harlots and tax collectors. Only outright sinners believed him. Tax collectors were nothing more than licensed thieves sitting in the tax office. Although this is no longer the case, in the old days it used to be the case that any tax collector in Korea could buy a house in just two years. John had come to this earth to pass all the sins of mankind to Jesus and he did actually pass them all. At that time, many people of poor spirit believed in Jesus and the role of John the Baptist, and in particular, people like harlots and tax collectors who committed many sins believed in them. Even though John had come to this earth in the way of righteousness, boastful people did not believe, but harlots and tax collectors believed.
Let’s turn to today’s Scripture passage. Jesus brought Moses and Elijah to the mountain of transfiguration and talked with them. He then said to the disciples, “Until the Son of Man is crucified to death and resurrected, you should never tell anyone that I met and talked with Elijah and Moses.” Hearing this, the disciples asked, “What does it mean when it’s said that Elijah must come first for everything to be restored?” Jesus then said, “Elijah has already come, but you treated him in whatever way you wished. Who is he? He is none other than John the Baptist.” Our Lord Himself said this. The role of John the Baptist was the role of Elijah and he is absolutely indispensable for you and me to be saved from our sins, for the atonement of mankind. For us to be saved, we need Jesus, and we also need Elijah to come. We need Moses as well to receive our salvation. Do you understand what I mean?
On the mountain of transfiguration, Jesus was transfigured to shine like white snow and the sun. This account is told to us as a precursor of things to come, that when we are lifted by Jesus on the last day and our bodies are transformed, everything, from our faces to our garments and bodies, will all be transformed just as Jesus Christ was transformed. Do you believe this?
On His way down from the mountain, Jesus’ disciples asked Him, “why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ Jesus answered and said to them, “‘Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.”
What did He mean by this passage? Jesus said to the disciples, “Elijah has definitely come. He came before I did. He is John the Baptist,” testifying that when John the Baptist baptized Him, He accepted all the sins of mankind from John. In other words, Jesus was saying to the disciples, “I have come to this earth to save you, and I have taken upon your sins. The one who passed your sins and the sins of the world to Me is John the Baptist.” As such, John the Baptist was an exceedingly exalted prophet before God.
This exceedingly exalted prophet bore witness of Jesus the next day after he gave baptism to Jesus, saying, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” As John the Baptist passed your sins and mine to Jesus, and testified in John chapter one, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” we are now able to grasp clearly the salvation that Jesus has brought to us by taking upon our sins and dying on the Cross. In other words, thanks to the testimony of John the Baptist, we have now realized that the Lord has saved us from all our sins. If there were no testimony of John the Baptist, and if he had not passed our sins, then it would have been unnecessary for Jesus to come to this earth, and even if He came, He could not have fulfilled His will.
Since God had promised that He would pass all the sins of the people of Israel through the High Priest, He had to actually fulfill this promise in the New Testament as well. Jesus came to this earth to take upon the sins of the world, but who was to pass them to Him? It was John the Baptist. Jesus Himself described John the Baptist as the greatest of those born of women. Do men give birth? No. It’s women who give birth. What does it then mean by the greatest of those born of women? It means that John the Baptist is the representative of mankind, an exceedingly exalted prophet, and the last High Priest. To whom did the last High Priest pass sin? It was to the head of Jesus Christ that John the Baptist passed the sins of the world by baptizing Him. That is why the role of John the Baptist is so indispensably important to your salvation and mine.
The Necessity of the Testimony of John the Baptist
Let’s turn to John 1:6-7. “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.”
The Light here means that Jesus took upon all the sins of the world and blotted them out completely, that all the sins of mankind were passed onto Jesus. John the Baptist passed our sins onto Jesus by baptizing Him so that through him, everyone would believe in Christ. As it is written, “That all through him might believe.” How do we then know that all the sins of your entire lifetime and mine were indeed passed onto Jesus? Don’t we believe in this because of what’s written in Matthew chapter three, that all righteousness was fulfilled when John the Baptist baptized Jesus—that is, when he passed all sins?
It is written in Matthew 3:13-17: “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’ But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’”
The word “then” here is when both John the Baptist and Jesus were 30. Jesus began His public life at the age of 30. It is then that Jesus began His work of saving everyone. At that time, Jesus came to John the Baptist. He walked all the way from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to stop Jesus at first, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” At first sight, John the Baptist realized who Jesus was. He knew that Jesus was the Savior of this world, and that’s why he declined to baptize Him.
Hebrews says that Jesus is the High Priest of Heaven. Jesus is the Son of God, and He came to this earth to fulfill His duties as the High Priest. That Jesus came to this earth to fulfill the office of the High Priest is all contained in the name of Jesus Christ. The name Jesus means the Savior. Christ means the anointed One.
Only three types of offices were anointed by God. First, when God raised kings of Israel in the Old Testament, He anointed them through His prophets without fail. For instance, when David was chosen as the new king, the Prophet Samuel filled a horn with oil and poured it on David, saying, “Jehovah God has raised you as the king of the people of Israel.” He then quickly fled to Ramah. Why did Samuel flee? Because even though there already was an incumbent king, he had said to another man, “God has raised you as the king of Israel.” If the current king heard this, Samuel would have been beaten to death for sure, and that’s why he ran away for his life after anointing David.
Second, Aaron the High Priest and his descendents were anointed when they were consecrated into their priesthood. Nowadays, when a pastor is ordained, the presiding pastors lay their hands on his head to pray after dipping their hands into the oil plate. With this laying on of hands, the power of the preceding servants of God are transferred to the one on whom their hands are laid. To fulfill the office of the High Priest, one had to be anointed.
Thirdly, prophets were anointed. Anyone who obeys and spreads the will of God had to be anointed without fail. What then, is the spiritual meaning of anointment? Today’s anointed people are none other than those who have received the remission of sins and the Holy Spirit into their hearts. No one who has not received the remission of sins should minister as a pastor. A pastor who has not been remitted from his sins and whose heart remains sinful cannot be a real pastor. If there is anyone who is now ministering as a pastor even as he has not received the remission of his sins, then he is nothing more than a wage earner. He is a swindler and a thief. Such people minister only as a matter of profession, just to make a living.
The word Christ means the anointed One and only kings, priests, and prophets were anointed. When Jesus came to this earth, He fulfilled all these three offices as the King, the Priest, and the Prophet. He is the High Priest of Heaven. Just as the priests of the Old Testament had enabled the people of Israel to receive the remission of their sins by passing their sins to a sacrificial animal and sacrificing it with its blood, so did Jesus make a sacrifice on our behalf in the New Testament. But this time He fulfilled our everlasting atonement with His own blood, not the blood of an animal. Jesus gave up His body as the propitiation for the sins of everyone in this world, and by being baptized in a form of the laying on of hands; He accepted all the sins of the world. In other words, by offering His body to God, Jesus accepted all the sins of our conscience. Hebrews says that by accepting all the sins of this world, Jesus completely cleansed His believers’ conscience. It was to cleanse us from all our sins that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. The representative of the earth and the representative of Heaven had come together. Isn’t this the case? Of course it is.
God the Father sent His Son to this earth in the image of man, and made Him fulfill His duties as the High Priest. To save us humans, God the Father sent His Son to this earth, made Him accept all the sins of the world onto His body, and put Him to death on the Cross. God sent His Son to this earth to blot out our sins and Jesus came to save us by sacrificing His body in obedience to the will of God. It’s written, “‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him.” As Jesus explained that it was thus fitting for Him and John the Baptist to fulfill all righteousness, John permitted this and baptized Him.
The place where Jesus was baptized is the Jordan River. Formal baptism is received in a place where one’s body can be completely submerged in water. Baptism is received in the same way as the laying on of hands. A pastor would lay his hands on the head of the person being baptized, submerge him in the water, saying, “I baptize so-and-so in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” and then raise him out of the water again. This is called baptism.
What then, does it mean by the baptism of Jesus? Baptism has meanings such as “to be washed,” “to be buried,” and “to be transferred.” Through the baptism of John the Baptist, Jesus accepted all sins. This was God’s promise. Since it was God’s promise, it was fulfilled exactly as promised when Jesus obeyed the Father. Just like in the Old Testament, in the New Testament also, Jesus the sacrificial Lamb was baptized by John the Baptist, the representative of mankind. It was through this baptism that Jesus accepted all the sins of the world. It was fitting for Him to thus fulfill all righteousness. In other words, it was fitting for Jesus to blot out everyone’s sins with His baptism. Jesus said, “Give me baptism, and I will receive it. Pass all the sins of the world to Me, and I will accept them all through you. It is thus fitting for Me to make My believers sinless.” That’s why Jesus was baptized.
One should not stand against this gospel without even knowing the Bible properly. Jesus said in the Bible, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” The word “thus” here means that Jesus, having come to this world as the Savior, accepted all the sins of mankind in this way through John the Baptist. That is what the word “thus” means here. The phrase “for thus” is “hoo’-tos gar (οϋτως γάρ)” in Greek, which means, “the most fitting,” “by this method,” and “no other means besides this.” For Jesus to shoulder the sins of the world, He had to be baptized by John the Baptist, the representative of mankind. Jesus Himself had to accept the sins of mankind. That is why He said, “Thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”
The “righteousness” here, which justifies all people by making them sinless, means “justice,” or “rightfulness.” This work that Jesus did to make us sinless when He came to this earth is the right work. It was to do the right thing that Jesus was baptized by John. None other than this was the very first thing that Jesus did when He began His public life at the age of 30—that is, accepting all the sins of mankind by being baptized. That is the meaning of the original text.
It is written, “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” It’s said here that when Jesus came out of the water after His baptism, the gate of the heavens was opened, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove, and the Father said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” In other words, God the Father was saying, “My Son obeyed My will by being baptized by John the Baptist, and thus accepting mankind’s sins.” That is why the Father was rejoiced in His heart. It was because of His Son that God the Father found joy.
It is written, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The world here refers to all mankind. Like this, God sent His Son to this earth and made us sinless by passing all the sins of the world to this Son through His baptism. Jesus then carried all our sins to the Cross, and in our place He was put to shame, stripped of clothes, and whipped forty times minus one. He bore all sufferings and all curses, was crucified, and shed all the blood that was in His heart. That is how He has saved us. “God so loved the world” means that out of His love for us, God the Father sent His only begotten Son to this earth, made Him be baptized and crucified, resurrected Him from death, and has thereby saved us perfectly. God has perfectly saved you and me who believe in the baptism of Jesus Christ and His blood on the Cross, all those who believe in the meanings that are contained in His righteous acts. Do you also believe this?
In John 1:29, it is written, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” The next day refers to the day after John had baptized Jesus. When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him the next day, he testified, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” In other words, John the Baptist bore witness of Jesus, saying, “None other that He is the Son of God who is carrying the sins of the world as our propitiation. He is our Savior who is shouldering the sins of the world. As He was baptized by me, He is now carrying the sins of the world.”
Did Jesus really take upon all our sins by being baptized? Absolutely! By receiving His baptism, Jesus washed away all the sins that were in our hearts. Jesus said that He accepted all our sins through His baptism. If Jesus indeed accepted all our sins through His baptism, then did He not have to die? He had to die, of course. That is why baptism means “to be washed” and “to be buried.”
My fellow believers, is the role of John the Baptist absolutely necessary for us to receive our salvation? It’s absolutely indispensable. The Bible speaks about the work of John the Baptist countless times. Those who do not believe in this fact believe in God all on their own, interpreting the Bible by themselves and leaving out whatever they want to leave out. We have to grasp here that anyone who believes in God by cutting off all the Word of the Old Testament will be deleted from the Kingdom of Jesus, and that anyone who believes by adding to the Word of God will be heaped with curses. In the Old Testament, the people of Israel passed their daily sins to their sacrificial animal by laying their hands on its head without fail. The sins accumulated over a year were passed onto the sacrificial animal with the High Priest laying his hands on it on behalf of the people on the tenth day of the seventh month. As the High Priest sacrificed to God on the Day of Atonement, the people were freed from all the sins that had accumulated over a year. Likewise, when Jesus came to this earth, He took upon all our sins once and for all by being baptized by John, died on the Cross at once, and has thereby saved us once for all.
When the disciples asked Jesus why Elijah had to come first, Jesus told them that he had already come and that he was none other than John the Baptist. That’s because John the Baptist had fulfilled all righteousness by baptizing Jesus.
How did John the Baptist’s life end? At that time, King Herod was committing so many sins that John the Baptist had to point out his sins. For exposing Herod’s wrongdoings, John the Baptist was imprisoned and eventually beheaded. He was martyred on this earth after passing every sin to Jesus, and bearing His witness, saying, “Behold! He is the Lamb of God who carries the sins of the world. None other than He is our Savior.” Even though John was martyred on this earth, he was not a failure. He passed away after fulfilling all his duties. He had said, “He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). John the Baptist faded away after fulfilling all of his role. He didn’t need to be exalted anymore by the Israelites. John the Baptist bore witness of our salvation, saying that Jesus accepted all the sins of the world and took them away and having thus fulfilled his call, he was martyred. As such, we must realize what a great man John the Baptist was and believe in his ministry.
Why Do We Emphasize John the Baptist Like This?
Some people ask us, “Are you the followers of John the Baptist?” But Jesus said in the Bible, “Even though John came in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him, though tax collectors and harlots believed. These tax collectors and harlots will enter Heaven first, while you will be forsaken.” Jesus continued to emphasize John the Baptist and his ministry. He said that John the Baptist came in the way of righteousness. Just as God had promised, John the Baptist passed all our sins to Jesus for us. That is why God had said that He had to send Elijah. Do you understand this?
The Bible therefore says in 1 Peter 3:21, “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” The antitype that saves us is Jesus’ baptism. Isn’t Jesus’ baptism the antitype that saves us? Of course it is. Didn’t Jesus bear our sins when He was baptized? He indeed bore all our sins. All the sins of your entire life, all the sins of my entire lifetime, all the sins of your children’s lifetime, and all the sins of your parents’ lifetime—Jesus took upon all these sins through His baptism. As it is written, “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism.”
Jesus saved us, right? Indeed, by being baptized and crucified to death, Jesus bore all the condemnation of our sins. It is by believing in this baptism of Jesus and His blood on the Cross, by believing that Jesus has become our Savior, that we can receive the remission of our sins. Do you believe this?
However, now that we have received the remission of our sins, does this mean that we wouldn’t commit any sin with our bodies? No, we still commit sin even after attaining our salvation. So to prevent us from any misunderstanding, the Apostle Peter said in the Bible that the remission of sin means “not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God.” As Jesus was baptized in our place, we are now sinless. However, this means that we have been saved by faith, not that the filth of our flesh has been removed. Peter said that it is the answer of a good conscience toward God. Even after receiving the remission of our sins, we still commit sin with our flesh from time to time. But this sin is also a sin of the world. This sin, too, was passed onto Jesus. So, by faith we have obtained a good conscience before God.
Is there any sin in your heart? No, there is no sin. Is it easy to say that you have no sin in your heart? Try to say this in front of other people. Their jaws will drop in shock when you say, “Do you have sin? I have no sin in my heart!” They’ll be so aghast to hear you say this. Yet our own conscience says that we are now sinless before God. Because all our sins were passed onto Jesus when John the Baptist baptized Him, we have no sin in our conscience. Because we believe, we have no sin.
It’s written, “The answer of a good conscience toward God.” Why are we now able to come out to stand before the presence of God? That’s because all the sins that we commit in this world everyday, and all the sins that we will ever commit until the day we die, were all passed onto Jesus when He came to this earth and was baptized. Nailed on both His hands and feet, Jesus said while bleeding to death, “It is finished!” And rising from the dead again in three days, He ascended to the Kingdom of Heaven. By believing in this, we have now been made sinless and received the gift of the Kingdom of Heaven with a good conscience. Jesus is the Savior who came to this earth to save mankind and forever blotted out the sins of the world once and for all. The Lord has saved us. Then has He not made you a man of good conscience? He really has made you so.
Because Jesus was born on this earth to save us, was baptized by John the Baptist at the age of 30, endured countless suffering for three years, and was crucified, we are sinless. It is written, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). By being baptized, Jesus accepted the sins of the world, including the blemished sins that we commit everyday, and by dying in our place, He has saved us. So given all these things, how could we say to God that we have sin? Anyone who knows this and believes in it cannot say to God that he has sin. No believer can have an evil conscience, for he has a good conscience before God. When God has saved me so clearly, how could my sins still remain? I have no sin. The Lord has saved me. I am a righteous man. The Lord has made me a righteous man. He has made me God’s child.
The Bible says, “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), and it also says, “With the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). My fellow believers, do you believe in this? Faith is to believe with the heart. It’s the answer of a good conscience toward God. Those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit confess the following: “Father, as Jesus bore my sins by being baptized, and as He shed His blood to death, You have saved me like this. God, I have now come to stand before Your presence by placing my faith in Jesus. I believe in You.” Our faith is not based on our own emotions. The Bible said, “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism.” The Apostle Peter believed so. But what about you? Do you also believe so? I, too, believe in this. The Lord has indeed saved us in this way. I am so grateful to Him. Even though we are sometimes insufficient, because the Lord actually took upon all our sins, we are now God’s children. We believe in this gospel always with our hearts, and whenever we commit sin out of our insufficiencies, all that we have to do is just admit our wrongdoing.
Now, I would like to tell you a few things about prayers of confession. Some of you probably still have a desire to offer prayers of repentance, right? Someone who is used to offering prayers of repentance is bound to have this urge out of habit. When you commit sin after receiving the remission of your sins, you should offer prayers of confession, saying to God, “Lord, I’ve committed such and such sins.” Rather than asking God to forgive you, admit your sins honestly before God, saying, “Lord, I’ve sinned.” And affirm the gospel once more, realizing, “These sins were also all passed onto Jesus when He was baptized.” When we recognize that these sins were also all passed onto Jesus when He was baptized, we can feel even more gratitude for our salvation.
That’s why 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” When we confess our sins, the Holy Spirit speaks to us in our hearts, saying, “Do not worry, for those sins were also all passed onto Jesus Christ when He was baptized.” That is why we are now living with our faces lit like the sun. It’s because we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts that we are thankful to God and able to lead a joyful life always. We have been saved despite our insufficiencies and that is precisely why we are always thankful. After all, if God had saved us for our own merits, who among us would thank Him? It’s because He has saved us despite our flaws that we are grateful. So in this world, only those who are flawed are saved. But more flawed people do not believe in this gospel and that is why they are heading to hell. Since these people don’t realize just how flawed they are, they resist in stubbornness, only to be cast into hell.
If you believe in the Lord, you will go to Heaven. When this world turns even darker, our Lord will come. Because we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit before the Lord, we are God’s own children. We have become God’s people by faith. The Lord has clothed us in such amazing love that it’s impossible for me to describe it all in this hour.
So as you go to bed tonight, I ask you to ruminate on this love. I am sure that you will find yourself laughing out of joy helplessly, saying to yourself, “Whoa! How amazing it is that I am a righteous person and that I now have no sin!” Your spouse or children may then think that you’ve gone mad, but even so, you have received such a great joy that you simply cannot hide it.
So feel free to testify in the Church how the Lord has blotted out all your sins and tell everyone just how happy your heart is. And if you have any questions about the Word, then simply ask around to any saint in the church. All your questions will be answered. There are many big brothers and sisters in the church. Those who have received the remission of their sins only recently are the youngest.
I give all my thanks to God for remitting away all our sins. Halleluiah!