“Now behold, one came and said to Him, ‘Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?’ So He said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He said to Him, ‘Which ones?’ Jesus said, ‘‘You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’’ The young man said to Him, ‘All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ Then Peter answered and said to Him, ‘See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.’”
The season of fall is upon us and we just began our ministry for the second half of this year. I am thankful that we were able to successfully complete our ministry for the first half of this year, even though it was a struggle for us, and that the Lord has blessed us to serve Him in this second half also. It’s my hope and desire that the gospel would continue to be spread in the second half of this year’s ministry as well.
Nowadays, we have about 100 to 150 people visiting our website from all over the world. (Editor’s note: This sermon was given not long after our Mission first began its Internet ministry, and therefore the statistics mentioned in the sermon are considerably lower than the more recent figures. For example, our website now registers an average of almost 5,000 visitors a day.) Many of these people request our paper books and download our electronic books. Since most of them, after believing in the gospel thanks to our books, pass their finished books and preach the gospel to their families and relatives as well, we can estimate that the gospel is being preached to about 300 souls a day.
Lately the first three English volumes have been in high demand. A while ago, we calculated that every three saints at our Mission were preaching the gospel to one person a day. Given how visitors to our site have continued to increase, nowadays it’s equivalent to every three saints preaching the gospel to two people a day. The gospel is thus being proclaimed in this fashion. I believe that God will continue to work in our ministry, so that soon every saint would be able to preach the gospel to ten people a day. I am sure that before this year is over, we would have preached the gospel to about a thousand people. I am convinced that God will make this happen.
The gospel was spread to many people during the first half of the year, and our ministry for the second half is also going well right now. I was told that nowadays about a thousand books are shipped out overseas from the distribution center at Wonju City on a weekly basis. A thousand books shipped out a week means that around 150 books are shipped out everyday, but could we afford to meet the demand if 10,000 books were requested on a daily basis in this second half of the year? Even so, I do not worry. I am sure that God will provide for all our needs. All of us have labored hard in the first half of the year to serve the Lord. You and I alike have both toiled hard for this ministry. Our ministry workers throughout Korea have also worked hard. I am sure that our overseas coworkers have also labored very hard for the spreading of the gospel. I hope and pray that God would bestow even more blessings into the second half of this year, before we hold our winter retreat.
After today’s worship service, we will be making pledge offerings for world missions, with a timeframe set for the end of this coming December. I ask you each to write down and submit whatever amount your heart’s conviction tells you to offer to serve God. Some of you may think, “I have no money, so what can I do?” But if your heart desires, then you can find a way to contribute and if you want to count yourself in the work of the Church, God will make sure to fill all your needs in whatever way. But if you don’t have such a mindset, and say to yourself, “I am in no condition to make any contributions. I would like to, but I just can’t make any commitments,” then your faith itself will perish away. Moreover, even if the gospel were to spread in this second half, it would have nothing to do with you. This would then prevent you from receiving God’s blessings, so even though circumstances may be hard for you, you only have to offer your heart and faith to the Lord. If you can’t serve Him directly with your material possessions, then you can indirectly help the church in its work. We should all thus participate together in spreading the gospel. Those who cannot offer any contributions right now can help the gospel ministry with their prayers, and they can actually take part in the church’s work, even if in a small way.
Are you glad that fall is now upon us? I like how it’s so cool now that fall is here. It’s cool without even turning on fans or air conditioners. With its gentle breeze and the sound of crickets singing with lingering cicadas, the weather is perfect for taking a nap or reading the Bible. This summer was very tough for us. It was a very difficult and exhausting season for us. When you are too tired, you need to admit this and take some rest to recharge yourself having a good time together for a couple of days, as we are doing right now. But if you pretend not to be tired even as you are, then you will only continue to accumulate more fatigue. You would then die of exhaustion even before the Lord comes. If you at least express your weaknesses before God, saying, “Lord, I am so tired,” your heart and your faith will both be renewed.
Recently this church building that we were renting was sold to someone else. But the new owner won’t move in here, so there is nothing to worry. Even if we are asked to leave, we can just move to another place. While it’s good for one to live in one place for a long time, it’s also good to move to face new circumstances once in a while. We are determined to always work with renewed hearts under all circumstances. We’ve made the most out of this building until now, but as it was sold to a professional real estate investor, we now need to negotiate a new lease with him. I ask you all to pray for this matter, so that a new lease may be signed with reasonable terms.
Although we’ve made several achievements in the first half of this year, I am hoping to spread the gospel even more in the second half. I myself would like to travel with students at our Mission School and spread the gospel with them, and I would also like to visit every branch church in Korea and preach the gospel. If possible, from now on and for a while, I would like to concentrate my effort on spreading our books than making them. We’ve published many books until this year. We have worked hard to lay the foundation of the gospel until now. We’ve published a series of volumes on the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and we are now doing some last-minute work on a collection of sermons on the Apostles’ Creed soon to be published. I feel strongly that if we can continue to stride along as before, then we would be more than able to spread the gospel everywhere. So I am convinced that in this second half, we will be able to preach the gospel even more forcefully. Are you also sure of this?
We are now spreading the gospel to many places all over the world through the Internet. Our sisters have been sending countless emails to introduce our website, and some of them may now think, “We’ve worked so hard and sent out so many emails that there is not anymore places to send our invitation message,” but they need not worry. Yesterday I got a call from Rev. Shin telling me that according to the information sent by one of our coworkers in Portugal, there are countless Christian sites there. Were you thinking by any chance, “What should I do if there is not anymore places to send out emails? Won’t I now have any more work to do?” Don’t worry; I’ll prepare some amazing work for you all.
Recently some Japanese people read our books and received the remission of sins. When the news of the gospel spreads around through these people, even more people will come to receive the remission of sin. Although there are many souls throughout the whole world who have received the remission of sins, we don’t know the full extent of this because not everyone contacts us. Even as we are gathered together here right now, the work of the gospel continues to unfold and people continue to receive the remission of sins. A pastor in Africa has told us that he now believes in this gospel, and that he is teaching it to his congregation. We’ve also heard from a Canadian pastor who is now using our books as textbooks for his congregation’s Bible studies. Yet these are only the tip of the iceberg; the gospel work is unfolding all over the world in far greater number and strength, even though we do not hear about it all. God’s amazing work is unfolding everywhere. I am convinced that the gospel is now being spread by tens of millions more times than our labor.
Until the day the Lord returns, the gospel will continue to be spread vigorously. The gospel will be spread ceaselessly until it is preached all over the world in the next few years and those who want to believe will believe, while those who do not want to believe will not believe. I believe that God will bring this about. You also believe so, right? As more time goes by, the proclamation of the gospel will also accelerate. It was not too long when we were rejoiced to see the number of daily visitors to our New Life Mission increase to over 100, but now we have over 200 people a day requesting our books. At first, only a handful of books were sent out everyday, but we were soon pleased to ship out 30 books and then 50 books a day, and we all clapped in joy when the number went over 100 books a day. After a while though, we seemed to be somewhat less moved, as we got used to shipping out well over a hundred books a day. But I am sure that we will once again clap in joy when the daily shipment reaches 500 books. And we will clap again when the number reaches 1,000, and clap again once more when the gospel reaches 5,000 people a day. Perhaps it’s because our hearts have become too complacent, desensitized, or bolder, but the usual figures don’t trigger that much reaction.
There is nothing better than the fact that we are able to carry out the work of the Lord unbound by the affairs of the world, and that we are preaching the gospel with all our dedication. While we love to preach this gospel, so does God. The title of our revival meetings for the second half of this year is “Expositions on the Book of Revelation.” As the title indicates, the main theme addresses the question of how this world would change in the future. I am praying to God to send many souls to one of these revival meetings scheduled for the next week, and I am also sure that God will indeed send many souls. I ask our students at the Mission School and our workers to share fellowship with these new souls. It’s very important to share fellowship individually with each soul. I hope and pray that many souls would come to the revival meeting, so much so that we would run out of space. As the Bible says that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen, we should dream big. And we should pray and trust that God would make our dream come true. Wouldn’t God answer us only then? I pray to God to bestow many blessings on you and to bless the church abundantly as well.
Here today, we just read Matthew 19:16-30. In verses 16-17, it was said, “Now behold, one came and said to Him, ‘Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?’ So He said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.’” This man here thought that one could receive eternal life by doing some virtuous deeds. In other words, he thought that if he did good works, he could receive eternal life to never die but live forever and enter the Kingdom of Heaven. However, Jesus said here that no one is good but One. Actually, doing the good work here is for us to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit through which God has saved us and accept the remission of our sins. It is a virtue to accept the remission of sin that God has given us, and it is also a virtue to preach this salvation that He has given us to those who still do not know it.
What Should I Do to Receive Eternal Life?
The man shown in today’s Scripture passage was not speaking from a perspective of faith, but he was talking about his own good deeds of the flesh, about mankind’s own virtues. That’s why Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One.” This passage means that Heaven is not entered by doing good deeds. It also means that doing good deeds cannot blot out one’s sins. Yet even so, this man failed to realize it, and so when Jesus told him, “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He asked, “Which ones?” Jesus then said to him, “‘You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. Honor your father and your mother. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” The young man then responded by saying, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” So Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” It’s written, however, that “when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
When Jesus told this young man to keep the commandments, he asked Him confidently which commandments he should keep. So Jesus listed them for him: “You shall not murder; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The man then said to Jesus, “All these things I have kept since my youth. What do I still lack?” By this, he was asking what other things he had to do, since he had kept all these commandments. So what did Jesus say then? He said, “Sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” The Bible says that this young man then went away sad, because he had a great deal of wealth.
This passage actually makes one single point. It speaks of human righteousness, making it clear that no one can receive the remission of sins if he is filled with his own virtues and his own human righteousness. In other words, eternal life cannot be received if one has too much righteousness of mankind. This is what differentiates the mind of God from the mind of man.
Human beings keep trying to attain everlasting life by carrying out good works of their own and accumulating their own virtues. However, God told us to cast aside our own righteousness and accept and believe in His righteousness instead—that is, the righteous work that God has done for us—and thus receive everlasting life. When we approach God, it’s our instinctive tendency to try to make up our own virtues and take them to God, since we have no virtue whatsoever as human beings. Everyone has this tendency, as it is virtually instinctive. However, when we turn to today’s Scripture passage, we see Jesus explaining to us what would happen if one continues to cling to his own righteousness before God.
It Is Harder for a Rich Man to Enter the Kingdom of Heaven Than for a Camel to Go through the Eye of a Needle
From verse 23 on, Jesus taught His disciples using the rich young man as an example to explain that it’s harder for the rich to enter Heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. Can you imagine any camel ever going through the eye of a needle? Think about just how small the eye of a needle is. It is not just hard for a camel to go through such a small hole, but it is completely impossible. Yet even more difficult than that, is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. In other words, Jesus was saying that it was even more impossible for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God.
What kind of rich people did Jesus speak of here? The rich man here refers to someone who is rich in his heart. Jesus was not speaking about materially wealthy people. Take a look at this young man. It’s written, “One came and said to Him, ‘Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?’” This man’s heart was filled with his own human virtues. He had done many good deeds, earned many merits, kept all of the Law, and obeyed each of the Ten Commandments as well, and he was wondering what more he could do on his own, convinced that he was near perfect and he could do everything that needed to be done. Given this, it was natural for him to be rich in his heart. In other words, he was a rich man because his heart was rich with his own virtues. That one has many virtues means that his heart is very rich. Jesus, however, said that it was harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.
Let’s turn to verses 23 and 24 here: “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.’” Jesus drew a comparison to illustrate that it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. You all know what a camel is, right? What about a needle? These days, hardly anyone does any needlework anymore, but you all know what a needle is. The eye of a needle is so small that a grandmother with poor eyesight has to ask her grandchild to put the thread through the needle’s eye for her. When not even a finger can go through the eye of a needle, how can a camel, an animal that’s several times larger than a man, ever go through it? Even the largest door at your home can hardly accommodate a camel to pass through it.
You can never enter the Kingdom of Heaven with your own human virtues. It is harder for someone with many human virtues to enter Heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. Even if there was a way for a camel to somehow go through the eye of the needle, it’s absolutely impossible for anyone filled with his own human virtues to enter Heaven. Can anyone filled with human wickedness enter Heaven then? No, such people cannot enter either. What is it then that we must do? Jesus said here, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” This means that since God Himself became a man and came to us on this earth, and since He has saved us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, all that we have to do is just believe in this. Yet those who have too many human virtues of their own do not believe in Jesus.
There are many religions in this world. Christianity, however, actually is not just a religion, but it is all about spiritual faith. But let’s take a look at some aspects of the religions that boast many followers and are widespread around the globe. Every religion has its respective doctrines. Confucian creeds, for instance, teach that one should live an upright life on this earth and practice virtues, while Buddhism teaches that if one tries hard to do good deeds and accumulates enough virtues, he would be reincarnated into a better station in his next life. Drunk on religion, people believe in and follow doctrines, but I will address this issue in another book. If you read that book, you will be able to grasp clearly what it is that mankind is doing, and what it means to accumulate one’s own human virtues. This is actually what the Lord pointed out in today’s Scripture passage.
When a rich young man asked, “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” And He gave him the major commandments in turn. The young man then asked, “I’ve kept all these commandments, and so what I do still lack?” Jesus then said to him, “Did you? Well then, sell all your possessions and give them to the poor. You will then be able to enter into life.” Selling our possessions means that we must throw away all our human virtues.
Does mankind actually have any virtue at all? No, as a matter of fact, mankind is completely devoid of any virtue. Whereas God told us, “Help your neighbors and love them as you love your own body,” can any of us really do this? Of course God is more than able to do this. After all, Jesus Christ, God Himself and our Creator, forsook His glory and the magnificent throne of Heaven, and came to this earth incarnated in the flesh in order to save us. And He accepted all the sins of mankind onto His own body through His baptism, went to the Cross, bore the punishment that was reserved for mankind in its place, was crucified to shed His blood, died in mankind’s place, rose from the dead again, and has thereby saved us. This is something that only God can do. Does mankind then have any virtue? No, it has no virtue at all. Even though God said, “Love your neighbor as your body,” people still hate one another, stabbing each other’s back and hurting one another. Confucianism also teaches its followers to love one another, as does Buddhism and Islam, but no matter how consistently mankind is taught like this, human beings are simply incapable of keeping the commandment to love one another, so they keep breaking it time after time.
Although People Think That They Are Virtuous in Their Own Way, No One Is Truly Virtuous
Let me draw an example here. Let’s say that in a house full of people starving desperately without any food, a loaf of bread somehow appeared. Imagine all these people are friends and that they are sitting around the loaf of bread and staring at it. All that they have is this tiny loaf of bread that’s not enough to feed even one person. Would any of them then say, “This bread is not enough to be shared among us anyways, so I will die first and let you have it; go ahead, don’t worry about me?” Whether human beings are truly virtuous or not is quickly revealed when they encounter emergencies and face dire situations. Even though people sometimes think that they are capable of doing good deeds, is mankind really good? No, mankind is not really virtuous. That is why Jesus Himself said that no one is truly good but One, God Himself. Only God is truly good, and mankind is not virtuous at all.
Imagine yourself in such a starving situation that you have nothing to eat other than a loaf of bread. Would you share it equally with the others? Even if you were to share the bread, wouldn’t you fight over who would eat more? Or would you say, “You can have this bread and live a bit longer; I will go first?” Which of these three scenarios would fit you? Never mind what others might do; what would you do if you and the person sitting next to you were facing such a situation? If it were someone else, you could always be generous enough to say, “he will probably share the bread equally,” or, “he will give it all to his friend and give up his share.”
But if it were you, would you really share the bread with your friend equally? Or would you try to take it away from him so that you would have some more bread? If not, would you then say, “Here it is. Why don’t you eat it all? I will just sacrifice myself.” If none of this were plausible, would you then take your friend’s share by force and eat the whole loaf all by yourself? When you face such a problem for real, things won’t go as you think now.
When I was a kid, I used to do dishes all the time for my mother. I used to follow my mother everywhere clinging to her skirt, doing chores for her, drawing water, and building the fire for her when she was cooking rice. In those days, we had very little to eat. So when my mother cooked rice, she used to mix in wheat and other grains to swell the amount. One day, I happened to find myself putting the cooked rice into each bowl for my family. Every bowl was distinguishable, so I knew exactly which bowl belonged to whom, whether it was my father’s, mother’s, or mine. I was so young back then, but even so, can you guess how I divided up the rice into each bowl? I put the rice lightly into other family members’ bowls so that it would be all fluffy, but for myself, I pressed it tight so that the bowl would hold as much rice as possible. Even now I can remember this clearly as if it were yesterday. Even though I was young, I thought to myself, “I’m doing this all because it’s my bowl! It’s because the bowl is mine that I am trying to pack so much rice into it.” Selfishness is triggered like this even in one’s own family and that is just the way that mankind is by nature.
My fellow believers, it is only a matter of fact for every son and daughter to take good care of their parents, but as I recall here, the fundamental nature of mankind does not allow this. I realize clearly what I was doing back then and I’ve never forgotten it. And even though I have tried very hard to live virtuously, when I actually turn around and look at myself objectively, I see that I’ve failed to achieve this. Is mankind good? No, it’s not. When you judge someone else just by examining his outward appearance, you may think that this person is really virtuous, but forget about everyone else and think only about yourself.
Do you think that you are good enough? That is absolutely not true. Out of the human heart proceeds twelve sins including evil thoughts, murder, adultery, greed, sexual immorality, and theft, and this heart is filled with such sins. That’s why it’s not a wild beast that is most terrifying and fearsome to encounter on an isolated trail deep in the mountains, but it is another man. What is most fearsome is not anything else, but man himself. If you come across a wild animal, you can at least flee. But you can’t flee from your fellow men. Even if you try, someone will always find a way to sneak up on you from behind. The most fearsome creature of all is none other than mankind.
Given how mankind is by nature an evil brood, isn’t it inevitable that people would do only evil? Even though human beings desire to live virtuously, they cannot help but practice evil, for their basic nature is evil. It’s because mankind is evil that it tries to do good deeds. That is what gave rise to religion. And that is why various religions such as Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Catholicism have emerged. It’s precisely because human beings are too evil that through all these religions, they try to somehow compensate for their wickedness.
Jesus Said That It’s Impossible for Anyone to Enter Heaven by His Good Deeds
Jesus said, “It is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” Our Lord said that it’s harder for a rich man to enter Heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. If this is true, then this ultimately means that those who are too virtuous on their own can never enter Heaven. Those who are rich in their hearts are least able to enter Heaven, even less so than those who are rich in their material possessions of the flesh. Those who are rich in their faith, on the other hand, are safe. If you are such a rich person with a good heart, yearning to labor for the salvation of souls in obedience to the Word of God after receiving the remission of your sins, then you are fine. However, it’s not acceptable for those who have not received the remission of their sins to think on their own merits that they have many virtues, nor is it acceptable for them to try to do many good deeds. It’s hard for such people to receive their salvation, even though Jesus has given it to them. How hard is it? It’s harder than it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. Do you understand this, my fellow believers?
That’s why the Lord is saying to us, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” In other words, whereas it’s completely impossible for men to reach salvation on their own, with God it is more than possible. How did God then fulfill the salvation of mankind? 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). That is how God has saved mankind. God has blotted out all the sins of mankind by sending His Son to this earth, by baptizing this only begotten Son and thus passing all the sins of mankind to Him, by making Him carry the sins of the world to the Cross, and by crucifying Him to death. It is because God has done the right work for us, the good work of saving us that we have received our salvation by believing in this work. When Jesus said, “with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” He was saying that it was God Himself who saved us. My fellow believers, all of us should be grateful to God for the remission of our sins, ruminate on this everyday and carve it into our hearts again and again.
Are human beings good by nature? No, as we discover time after time from our own everyday experiences, we are not virtuous at all. Even when it comes to our lives that are lived after receiving the remission of our sins, apart from what is done to serve the gospel and God, everything else we do is all evil. Isn’t this so true? That is precisely why Jesus said that we must cast aside our own human virtues. Even after receiving the remission of sins, we must not show off our own human goodness.
What exactly is mankind’s own virtue then? It is to treat others with carnal virtue. We have to cast aside our effort to help others only in carnal terms and stop having only humanistic compassion. Instead, we must be spiritually virtuous. We must have a spiritual faith. To be spiritually virtuous is to believe that Jesus Christ shouldered the sins of the world through His baptism that blotted out our sins, and that He has saved us by being crucified, shedding His blood to death, and rising from the dead again. And it is also to preach this gospel. Receiving the remission of our sins by believing in this gospel, dedicating ourselves to the spreading of this gospel, praying for it and serving it with the belief that Jesus has blotted out everyone else’s sins as well—this is what is really virtuous. To breathe for the sake of serving this gospel, to make money in its service, and to live for such purposes—that is how we live virtuously. Everything else is evil. That’s why those who have too many human virtues of their own start to believe in God at first, but in many cases, they eventually end up renouncing their faith and departing from God.
My fellow believers, you must throw out your own human virtues. Mankind actually has no virtue to speak of. Human beings are devoid of any virtue by their very original nature. We must recognize that what is truly virtuous is to serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit once one is saved by believing in it. It’s written in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Taking this passage as the purpose for our lives, we must believe that everything we do for this gospel is right.
Even though I am still living in this world, just as you are also living in this world, I believe that it’s a true blessing for us to live entirely for the Lord and I often thank Him for allowing us to lead such a life. Just how many enticements are ready to lure our hearts away, if only we weren’t fully dedicated to this work? Moreover, we are incapable of carrying out multiple tasks at the same time, but we’ve now been enabled to devote ourselves entirely to the work of the Lord, so just how thankful should we be? Unless we serve the Lord with all our dedication, we will face many difficulties. I am so thankful and so glad that God has blessed me to serve the Lord with all my life. I am so happy that my heart’s devotion is not divided. It’s also good for you if it’s possible, to live entirely for the Lord. If you dedicate your whole life to the Lord without your mind wandering off somewhere else, then you will also avoid wasting your time uselessly. Of course, you may be unsure of this, since you haven’t lived like this before, but once you dedicate your entire life to God, you will discover that it is full of joy. After all, it is when you live for this purpose that God will bless you.
Let’s now turn to verses 27-30 here: “Then Peter answered and said to Him, ‘See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.’”
Those who lose much for the sake of the Lord actually have much to gain because of the Lord. When it comes to material possessions also, if you lose much for the sake of the Lord, you will also gain much because of the Lord. And eternal life is your assured reward. We have been saved by faith, not by our own human virtues, but by believing in the righteousness of God, in the salvation that God has brought to us. And if we have thereafter suffered many losses for the sake of the Lord, then we will also gain much because of the Lord. This is what is meant when Jesus said, “So the last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16).
Who actually are the first then? Who are the spiritually advanced? Those who have forsaken many things for the Lord are the spiritually advanced. Someone who has forsaken many things for the Lord is the first, and someone who has neither forsaken nor lost much even after meeting the Lord is the last. Those who have lost much for the sake of the Lord are the spiritually advanced. When we look at those trailing behind in faith, we see that they have lost absolutely nothing for the sake of the Lord. Their faith is like this everyday.
But how about those who have suffered many losses for the Lord, they run forward energetically for the gospel and they actually prosper on this earth as well. Have you seen anyone serving the Lord ever go hungry? No one who truthfully lives for the Lord and His gospel will ever go hungry. This is not just my own words, but Jesus also said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left their house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30). They will surely receive this reward. Do you agree with me? Moreover, it’s impossible for those who live for the Lord to lose their faith. That is why it’s so good to live for the Lord.
Before, I used to have many acquaintances, friends from my seminary years, family members and close relatives, but I lost them all once I received the remission of sins. My heart broke each time when I lost one of them. In fact, it wasn’t just that I lost them, but even worse, they persecuted me. But what happened next? When I turned to the Bible, I found the Lord’s promise that goes, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left their house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30). I believe in this Word. As I lost my family of the flesh, God has brought a huge spiritual family to me. In fact, it is you who have become my brothers, my sisters, and my family. I have so many family members spread all over Korea and throughout the whole wide world.
So when worldly people boast of their families, I answer them by saying, “You are so lame to boast of your family when there is only a handful. Do you have any idea just how big my family is? I’ve got thousands and millions of family members. Do you realize just how many family members I have?” If I take all my family members and they each give just one knock on these worldly people’s heads, their households would all be ruined. I don’t even have to fight them; just each of my family members stomping on them once will suffice.
My fellow believers, the first refers to those who follow the Lord; following the Lord is to forsake oneself and live for His sake; and salvation means receiving new life from the Lord. That is what the Bible is saying to us. It is not because we are somehow good that we have been saved, but it is God who has saved us; therefore, it is by accepting this salvation by faith, by accepting the goodness of God, that we can reach our salvation. Who is good? Is it we, or is it God? It is God who is good. And it is God who is righteous. Just before Jesus was baptized, He said, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” The phrase “all righteousness” here means that Jesus was to accept all sins through His baptism. The Bible also describes Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” and this means that Jesus shouldered all the sins of the world through His baptism. Therefore, it is not we who are good, but it is God who is good. Do you believe in this, that it is God who has saved us?
Even though we are insufficient, we will never lose our faith if we unite ourselves with the Church. Although you are insufficient, you will still enter Heaven if you believe that Jesus took upon all your sins by being baptized, carried the sins of the world to the Cross, was crucified to death, rose from the dead again, ascended to Heaven, and has thus become your God of salvation. And you will receive everlasting life. Eternal life means that you will enter Heaven to never die but enjoy splendor and glory forever. That is why God is good.
We must serve the gospel with our hearts united together within the spiritual order of the church. To ignore this spiritual order is the same as ignoring God. We used to ask jokingly to our followers of faith, “How should you think of your predecessors at our Mission School, even those who attended it just one semester ahead of you?” They then had to answer, “We should think of them as God’s classmates.” It was all to underscore the point that new believers should cherish their predecessors’ faith that much more and learn from their example. We don’t say such things that often anymore, but in the old days we used to ask such questions frequently for training purposes and to establish God’s order. Our Mission School is fundamentally different from the seminaries of the world.
We have the unavoidable duty to deliver everyone who has fallen into religion. Yet it’s nearly impossible for us to preach the gospel directly to everyone all over the world, and that is why we are publishing our books in various languages and sharing them with people across the globe.
By the time 600 years passed by since the coming of Jesus, Christianity had already collapsed totally. As Christianity had already lost its influence by then and this gospel was dead, Islam emerged for many people to believe in it and to argue that Allah and God were the same. How can Allah be the same as God? Was Allah there when the heavens and the earth were created? Others also believed in the sun as their god. However, the sun is one of God’s creations, so how can it be the Creator? Christianity in the Medieval Age launched its violent Crusades to recover Jerusalem from Muslims by force, but it failed miserably in the end. A flawed faith can be corrected with a stroke of a pen, not by violence. With one book, I can criticize the flaws of the religions of the world and present the absolute rightness of God.
All the religions of the world have gone astray. For example, Buddhists say, “You are a god, as I am a god; everyone is divine.” So I say to Buddhists, “Do you use the bathroom?” Then they say that they do use the bathroom. I then point out to them, “What divine being would use the bathroom? One must believe in the real God. Only then can he become a child of God and reach divine state.” That is right. What our Lord said here is true. My fellow believers, it is by believing in the Lord that we are saved. It is by faith that we receive everlasting life, and it is by faith that we have attained the righteousness of God. Even though we had no righteousness of our own, God has done the right work for us. That is God’s righteousness. To save you and me, in other words, God Himself came to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man, bore all our sins by being baptized, carried the sins of the world to the Cross and died on it, rose from the dead again, and has thereby indeed saved us all. He is our everlasting Savior, for He lives forever.
To save us, Jesus the true God gave us the deliverance of the water and the Spirit through His 33 years of life on this earth. None other than this is the very righteousness of God. It is by believing in this righteousness that we have received our salvation, and now that we have been saved it is by living for this righteousness that we can keep this faith, inherit eternal life, and receive many blessings both on this earth and the next world to live forever. And although mankind has a pronounced tendency to try to do good deeds based on some human standards instead of serving the gospel, this is absolutely not virtuous at all. Serving the gospel is what is truly virtuous. Do you grasp this? Do you believe this? Serving this true gospel is the absolute virtue.
My fellow believers, I admonish each and every one of you to trust in God in all things and pray to Him. It is God who blesses us, it is God who gives us eternal life, and it is God who remits away all our sins. God has given us the remission of sins once and for all. Let us therefore all believe in this gospel and live our lives according to the Word of God, in obedience to the Lord. Let us all thus receive God’s abundant blessings in our lives.