“See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand! As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.”
This evening, in the Word of God from Galatians 6:11-18, I would like share the Lord’s grace with you. As we have seen so far in the Word, as well as in this passage, we can once again see how the circumcisionists had thrown God’s Church into great spiritual confusion, and how the Apostle Paul suffered great travail at the hands of the circumcisionists that had come into these churches of Galatia. That’s why Paul was angry.
The Apostle Paul first pointed out the circumcisionist’s hidden motives. The reason they advocated physical circumcision was three-fold: First, to be approved by the Jews; second, to avoid being persecuted by their own people; and third, to boast of their faith. That’s why Paul said in Galatians 6:12-13, “As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.”
We know that nowadays there is hardly any Christian who wants to be physically circumcised after believing in Jesus. If anyone wants to receive physical circumcision, all that he has to do is just go to a hospital and pay a few bucks to get a simple surgery. However, during the Early Church period, Christians who came from a Jewish background emphasized physical circumcision. Whether one was physically circumcised or not was an extremely important question to the Jews. They believed that to be physically circumcised was to have the evidence as being Abraham’s descendent, and so they placed a great deal of importance on receiving physical circumcision. This means that ignoring physical circumcision was a sure way to open oneself to ferocious attacks from the Jews. That’s why the Apostle Paul said to the circumcisionists that they were trying to avoid persecution by receiving physical circumcision.
At the time of the Early Church, the gospel that the Apostle Paul believed in and preached was the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and anyone who received the remission of his sins by believing in this genuine gospel was someone who had already received spiritual circumcision. Since such a saint was already approved by God as a righteous man and His child, there was no need for him to receive physical circumcision trying to become God’s child again. Those who received the remission of their sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit had absolutely no reason to be physically circumcised.
In the Old Testament, God had promised Abraham, “I will give you as many descendants as the stars in the sky,” and the reason why God said this was to raise Abraham as the father of faith and also bless us to be saved from sin through our faith in the Truth and thus become God’s people. It’s because Abraham believed in what God said to him that he was able to get his faith approved. And God promised to Abraham and his descendants as well: “Abraham, your descendants shall be circumcised. I will recognize them as My people if they are circumcised.” This circumcision was actually a shadow of spiritual salvation, where our sins are cut off once and for all by believing in the Word of God and we are made God’s people.
That is why the Apostle Paul said, “Circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter” (Romans 2:29). The circumcision of the heart here refers to cutting off our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The faith that enables us to reach our salvation through spiritual circumcision is one that believes in the Truth that Jesus Christ has saved us from our sins by accepting mankind’s sins through the laying on of John the Baptist’s hands, and by carrying all our sins to the Cross to shed His blood to death. Spiritual circumcision is the grace of salvation that the Holy Spirit bestows on our hearts when we believe that Jesus Christ came to this world and has saved us through the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit. In other words, by being baptized, dying on the Cross, and rising from the dead again, Jesus has cut off our sins once and for all and blotted them all out, and He has thereby made His believers God’s people sinless before the Father, saving them spiritually. This is the very faith of spiritual circumcision.
When considering our lives of faith, we must consider them all in spiritual terms. Jesus Christ came to this earth and has saved us all at once through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. To rescue us mankind from all the curses of the Law, so that we may no longer be under the rule of the Law, Jesus Christ came to this earth, was baptized, died on the Cross, rose from the dead again, and thereby made whole those of us who believe in Him. Yet in spite of the fact that Jesus Christ has saved every sinner from all the sins of the world by coming to this earth, the circumcisionists were still trying to get their faith approved by receiving circumcision in their flesh. Under their influence, the belief that one had to be physically circumcised garnered so much attention that it was emphasized more than faith in Jesus Christ who came by the gospel of the water and the Spirit. This was a completely useless belief.
That is why the faith of the saints of the Early Church began to decline, and that is why the Apostle Paul, determined to never allow this, rebuked the circumcisionists so strictly. Given this, we must then also examine carefully the faith of today’s Christians, and consider the kind of faith of which we should beware.
The Apostle Paul Did Not Fear Persecution
The Apostle Paul said that the reason why the Galatian saints wanted to receive physical circumcision was to boast in their flesh, and to also avoid being persecuted for the Truth. When we look at such circumcisionist’s faith in today’s terms, it was the same as believing only the blood of the Cross, not really in Jesus Christ who came by the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Today’s Christians think that it’s okay for them to just attend church and only believe in the blood of the Cross without receiving the remission of their sins, but this is the same as the faith of the circumcisionists who did not question anyone’s faith at all as long as he were physically circumcised.
Today, when one proclaims that he has received the remission of his sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, he is persecuted by many, but if he professes to believe only in the blood of the Cross, he is not mocked by any Christians. If only he confesses, “I believe in the blood of the Cross. Jesus died for me on the Cross. Since I believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior, I am one of God’s people,” then he faces no persecution at all from his fellow Christian sinners who have not yet received the remission of sin.
However, if anyone confesses that he believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then right away he is hated by many Christians as a heretic. So even some of the saints who have been born again by hearing and believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit cast aside the true gospel after some persecution, and end up confessing their faith as the following: “I believe in Jesus. And I believe that Jesus has saved me by being crucified and shedding His blood for my sins.” Even now, many born-again believers are confessing in this way even as in their hearts they admit that the gospel of the water and the Spirit is right, so that they may not be persecuted spiritually and physically.
Just as a man in the Early Church era was approved as a descendant of Abraham if he was physically circumcised, today, those who believe in Jesus as their Savior and believe only in the blood of the crucified Jesus are approved to have become God’s people. So wouldn’t everyone then believe in this manner, since if one believes only in the blood of the Cross, he can make a good showing in the flesh, and his religious faith is approved by fellow Christians as well? When a Christian today says that he believes only in the blood of the Cross, he is commended by everyone: “That man believes in Jesus. He is a proper believer. He is not a heretic, but an orthodox Christian.”
This is how it is if we apply the main Scripture passage to today’s Christians. And when one walks around with a cross around his neck, it looks pretty good on him, not to mention the approval that comes as a Christian. Nowadays, no one is ever persecuted if he believes only in the blood of the Cross and leads a legalistic life of faith.
However, if a Christian believes that he has been made completely sinless by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, he then is sure to face persecution. That’s because his faith is different from the religious faith that now prevails in today’s Christianity. Yet it is no one else but we, who have received the remission of sin by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, that are God’s real people, the righteous who have truly been remitted from all sins.
We say to people that they must also believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. In the Bible, water refers to the baptism that Jesus received from John the Baptist at the Jordan River. Therefore, the gospel of the water and the Spirit proclaims the following Truth: Jesus the Son of God has saved us by coming to this earth incarnated in the flesh, being baptized by John the Baptist, dying on the Cross for our sins in our place, and rising from the dead again. Yet despite this, when we say that we believe in the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit, we are hated by many people.
When one says that he has been saved by believing only in the blood of the Cross, his faith is approved by plenty of people. Even to such misbelievers, people say, “Everyone is free to believe in whatever religion. I suppose he believes in something good.” Unlike them, however, I make it forcefully clear that the faith of those who profess to believe only in the blood of the Cross is corrupt. That’s because God only approves the faith of someone who says, “I believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.”
Just as the Early Church went through a great deal of trouble because of many circumcisionists, in this age also, people’s eyes of faith are blurred because of those who believe only in the blood of the Cross and claim to wash away their sins through their own prayers of repentance. Today’s notion that one must believe only in the blood of the Cross is exactly the same belief as that of the circumcisionists in the Early Church period. That is why those who believe only in the blood of the Cross are not persecuted by anyone, but, far from this, they are actually approved by all the religionists of this world.
Faith in the blood of the Cross alone is approved by many who say, “Oh, so he believes in Jesus. He is a good Christian belonging to an orthodox denomination.” So even among those who believe only in Jesus’ blood on the Cross, some people confess their faith as the following: “Jesus has saved me from sin by being crucified and shedding His blood. He has saved me by bearing all the condemnation of all my sins. So I have no sin, as I believe in this Savior Jesus.” This is the typical confession of the Evangelicals. Those who testify like this are hated neither by the people of the world nor by Christians, but they live approved by everyone. They hear Christians of the other denominations saying, “Oh, so they just believe in Jesus. They believe in Jesus normally, and so then they must be good Christians then.” In other words, they avoid persecution by seeking such approval.
Did the Apostle Paul say that one had to believe in Jesus and also be circumcised? Did Paul say that our salvation would be cancelled if we were not physically circumcised? No, he didn’t say this. In fact, when we look at the Pauline Epistles, we see how many times he had warned against legalistic faith, as there were many in his days who were emphasizing physical circumcision. Why did the Apostle Paul do this? It was because at that time, there were many claiming that men had to be physically circumcised and believe in Jesus as well to become God’s people, and because such a claim would have been a deathblow to the born-again saints of those days. In God’s eye, such faith was a mixture of false teachings, and therefore the Holy Spirit could not work with the circumcisionists’ teachings. That’s why the Apostle Paul stopped the rampant prevalence of the circumcisionists.
We have to grasp what was in the Apostle Paul’s mind. We need to listen closely to what the writer of this Book of Galatians is now saying to us. Paul made it clear beyond any doubt that we are never made God’s people through physical circumcision. He said in Galatians 6:11, “See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!” That the Apostle Paul wrote his epistle to the Galatian churches with large letters means that he was pointing out just how wrong it was to claim that one had to receive physical circumcision. Paul then went on to say, “As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ” (Galatians 6:12). This passage means that the circumcisionists were forcing the Galatian saints to be circumcised only to seek the approval of the flesh and at the same time avoid persecution.
Trying to be approved as God’s people by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and then adding something else of the flesh on top of it is corrupt. Through the Book of Galatians, we must point out the fallacious beliefs of today’s Christians and correct them. It is by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit before God that we become His people, not by being physically circumcised. Yet despite this, in the churches of Galatia as well as in the churches of the other regions, the circumcisionists had become rife and kept on claiming such a nonsensical notion during the entire Early Church period.
Among those professing to believe in Jesus, many like to wear a cross necklace. From ordinary people to movie stars, a lot of people walk around wearing a cross necklace. Even some prostitutes in red-light districts have a cross necklace around their necks. Perhaps one of the fashion accessories most favored by women is a cross necklace. A cross necklace seems to be a symbol that expresses, “I am a Christian.” So when people see others wearing a cross necklace, they approve one another, thinking, “Oh, so that person is a Christian.” They believe that the blood of the Cross is all Jesus Christ has done for them. However, we the born-again must beware of the faith of those who claim to have received the remission of their sins by believing only in the blood of the Cross.
As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ” (Galatians 6:12), some people misunderstand this to mean that Paul was speaking of only the blood of the Cross. What was the Apostle Paul’s faith? His faith was none other than this: “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14).
What Does It Mean When the Apostle Paul Said He Has been Crucified to the World?
Paul said, “The world has been crucified to me.” That the world was crucified to Paul means that Paul himself was also crucified, for Jesus Christ had taken upon all the sins of this world through His baptism. None other than this is the faith of the Apostle Paul. Like Paul, all of us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit have been crucified with Jesus Christ.
Had Jesus not taken upon our iniquities by receiving baptism from John the Baptist, then it would be okay for us to believe only in the blood of Cross today. However, Jesus did in fact take upon our sins by being baptized by John the Baptist, and then was crucified. Therefore those who believe in this Truth have also been crucified with Jesus. In other words, the world has been crucified to us, and we have also been crucified to this world and died with Christ. In Jesus Christ, this world has already died, and we have already borne the condemnation of sin. Like this, the Apostle Paul had passed his sins to Jesus by believing in His baptism, and that is how he was crucified with Jesus.
The Apostle Paul therefore said in Galatians 6:17, “From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” What are the marks of Jesus? They refer to the fact that the Apostle Paul had died with Jesus Christ and was resurrected with Him. That is why the Apostle Paul always testified God’s Word within the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
When the Apostle Paul said, “God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,” this was also premised on the gospel of the water and the Spirit, which proclaims that Jesus is the Son of God and our Savior, and that He took upon all our sins by being baptized and then was crucified. We must grasp here what Paul meant when he said that the world was crucified to him and he was also crucified to the world: This statement came out of his faith, which was premised on the baptism of Jesus. For us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the world is crucified to us, and we are crucified to the world. And that Jesus Christ rose from the dead means that He has raised you and me back to life.
The gospel of the water and the Spirit is the Truth. And those who believe in this gospel Truth are those who have the mark of this faith in Jesus Christ. To know and believe with our hearts that Jesus took upon our sins through the baptism He received from John the Baptist, carried them to the Cross, and was crucified, this is to have the very mark. And it’s because this is how we actually believe that despite persecution, we are still preaching this gospel, the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
But what about today’s Christians? How do most of them believe? They believe only in the blood of the crucified Jesus. That’s why when we tell the people of the world about the gospel of the water and the Spirit, right away we are snubbed for saying strange things. In contrast, when they hear others saying that they have been saved by believing only in the blood of the crucified Jesus, they listen without any reservation. Because these Christians believe only in the blood of the Cross, they can’t understand when the gospel of the water and the Spirit is preached to them, and they consider it completely new when they are informed that the baptism of Jesus is the “antitype of salvation” (1 Peter 3:21).
If someone says to you repeatedly, “You are saved only if you both believe in Jesus and receive physical circumcision,” what would you say? Would you say, “Well, that’s not so hard, and so I might as well receive physical circumcision”? Won’t you tell that person to see what is actually written in the Word of God? Indeed, we should answer and say to him, “The Lord said that we must be born again of water and the Spirit; He didn’t say that we also had to be physically circumcised also.” We should awaken this person to the Word, that if anyone adds anything to the gospel of the water and the Spirit or subtracts from it, then curses will be added to him and he will be excluded from the grace of redemption; and we must let him know that anyone who tries to be pretentious by posing a good showing in the flesh to avoid persecution will be cursed by God.
“Aren’t you saying this only because you are afraid you would be persecuted if you speak of the gospel of the water and the Spirit? The gospel of the water and the Spirit comprises both the baptism of Jesus and His blood on the Cross. Could Jesus have died without first being baptized?” We can say like this boldly by faith.
As the Devil unseen in our eyes stands against the Truth, when we speak of the gospel of the water and the Spirit, our hearts are sometimes threatened. If we are frightened by such threats and fear persecution, and as a result we end up believing that all that we have to do is just believe in the blood of the Cross alone and receive circumcision, then we will be accursed to be unable to receive the remission of our sins. If, however, we boldly declare that we truthfully believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then Satan will cower and withdraw. If we ourselves cringe to avoid persecution, Satan will prevail, but if we are bold by faith, then Satan will shrink before us.
In Galatians 6:15-16, the Apostle Paul said, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.”
We the born-again believers must not try to avoid persecution. Regardless of whether we are persecuted or not, we must confess our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit exactly. The Apostle Paul said, “If you want to be circumcised, then be circumcised. But remember that it is not by being circumcised that you are made God’s people. Rather, it is by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Upon this faith, it makes no difference whether you are circumcised or uncircumcised.” In other words, God’s peace and mercy are bestowed on all those who believe according to how God has set, whether they are circumcised or uncircumcised. Indeed, those who accept the salvation that Jesus Christ has given us are saved and receive the peace and mercy of God into their hearts. All of us had been bound to die for our sins, yet by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we have become sinless to be made into God’s children.
Paul continued on to say in Galatians 6:17, “From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Even as the Apostle Paul was persecuted, he kept on testifying to the Truth of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Even as he was hated and rejected, he continued to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
The Apostle Paul was a Jew. So according to the statutes of the Law, he was also circumcised on the eighth day of his birth (Philippians 3:5). However, the region of Galatia was a land of the Gentiles, and therefore there were many Gentiles in the churches of Galatia who did not know the statutes of circumcision. As the Gentiles were strangers to the Jewish custom of circumcising male babies, those who believed in Jesus and came into the church as grown-ups obviously were not circumcised in the flesh.
It was to such Gentile Christians that the circumcisionists among the Jewish Christians insisted that they had to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and also receive physical circumcision. In the end, the formula of salvation that the circumcisionists were advocating was this: “the gospel of the water and the Spirit + circumcision = salvation.” In other words, it led to the emergence of a man-made false gospel of salvation. That’s why the Apostle Paul severely rebuked the circumcisionists, saying to them, “You must never insist on the necessity of physical circumcision.”
In Jewish communities, where it was only a matter of course for every male baby to be circumcised on the eighth day of his birth, it may have been only too natural to insist on circumcision, but to demand this from Gentile communities was an extremely dangerous act that blasphemed the gospel Truth. Everyone must receive the remission of sin by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. However, if one insists on the additional requirement of circumcision from the Gentiles to be saved, then circumcision itself turns into another component of salvation for them. That’s why circumcision should never be demanded. Considering the socio-cultural background at that time, this insistence may not have been that significant to some people, but to others, it was spiritually fatal.
In Korea, the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church teach that it’s okay to perform ancestral rites. Strictly speaking, however, performing ancestral rites is a grave sin. When one bows while ancestral rites are performed, he is actually bowing before demons. While it is good to honor one’s ancestors, to place offerings and bow before them is to worship demons, and therefore this is strictly a sin. That’s because God made it clear that no one should have any gods before Him.
By no means am I saying here that we should hate the dead and curse them. Rather, what I am saying is that it is a sin for anyone to bow before the dead, place them on a pedestal as his ancestral gods, and pray to them to help him and bless him.
Anyone who believes in Jesus should never do this. It is something utterly evil. Some might say, “In my heart I don’t want to do it, but everyone in my family insists that I should participate in ancestral rituals, and so I’m only doing it in form.” Although this may seem wise at first, its effect on non-Christians is mortal. They would think, “Look at that self-professed Christian bowing. I guess believing in Jesus is no different from believing in some superstition. Christianity is only one of the many religions of this world.” Once people come to think in this confused manner, they don’t even want to believe in Jesus. They come to look at Christianity in the same light as any other religion in the world, think that it doesn’t matter whether they believe in this religion or that religion, and believe that they can enter the Kingdom of Heaven by believing in just any religion. As a result, they see no particular reason to believe in Jesus, and when this happens, they think Jesus cannot be the only Savior of all human beings. What a great sin is this? We have to realize that it’s a grave sin.
There is no need for us to bow before the dead, nor should we. If a Christian bows before other gods, then he is snatching away another man’s opportunity to believe in the real God. That is a tremendous sin. If we believe in Jesus, but at the same time we also perform ancestral rites and bow before our dead forefathers, call in a sorceress to practice witchcraft, or ask a fortuneteller to divine our future, why would any Christian ever be persecuted? No Christian would then be persecuted by the worldly people. But why do real Christians not do these things, even as they are persecuted? Because they do not acknowledge evil spirits, but believe only in God. For any Christian to bow before an ancestral altar is to show that his faith is completely fake.
The Bible says that sorceresses should be put to death (Exodus 22:18). In the age of the Old Testament, the people of Israel killed sorceresses without any hesitation. A sorceress is someone who is possessed by a demon. She is someone whom the Devil took as his underling. That’s why the Old Testament said that such people should be put to death. But don’t interpret this literally to mean that you should hunt down sorceresses and actually kill them. Rather, this means that we should eradicate the presence of sorceress-like aspects from our spiritual realm. Some Christian leaders are acting like sorcerers or fortunetellers; they pray laying their hands on someone’s head and then prophesy what would happen to him. What nonsense! We should drive away such people from God’s Church and stay away from such people.
If anyone asks you to bow down before an ancestral altar by any chance, then you should take a stand and say clearly, “I am a Christian. Why do you ask a Christian to bow down?” It would be better not to believe in Jesus outright than bowing down to any evil spirit. Your faith must be consistent—how could you believe in this and that, in everything that comes across your way? If you want to believe in Buddhism, then you should follow what the Buddhist scripture says, and if you want to believe in Christianity, then you should know what the Bible is saying, and believe in it thoroughly. You should never bow to any other gods no matter how much pressure is put on you. Even if your parents demand this from you, you must say boldly to them, “As someone who believes in Jesus, I can never bow down; my conscience does not allow this.”
What Kind of Faith Is Faith in the Gospel of the Water and the Spirit?
My fellow believers, it is wrong for the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit to advocate only the blood of the Cross and claim to have found salvation in this blood of the Cross alone. If any of them says that he has received the remission of sin by believing in the blood of the Cross alone, then he is saying this only to avoid being persecuted by people. What does it mean when we profess that Jesus has saved us only by being crucified and shedding His blood? There would be no need for the baptism of Jesus to our salvation. It would then be needless to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and preaching only the blood of the Cross would suffice. In this case, we won’t face any persecution either.
If you believe only in the blood of the Cross, claim to be sinless even as your sins remain in your hearts, and blindly insist that you have no sin despite the fact your sins were not passed onto Jesus Christ, then you are only turning yourselves into worldly religionists. To practice a religion is to believe in a god of one’s own making. It is to make and believe in one’s own religious founder, his own god, and his own doctrines. That is what religion is all about. Just as Buddhism is a religion, so is Catholicism a religion, as are all the superstitions in the world.
However, believing in Jesus Christ who came by the water and the Spirit is not a religion. This is not something of our own making, but it is the gospel of salvation that God had promised to mankind beforehand with His Word and fulfilled according to His promise. It is by realizing and believing in this gospel fulfilled by God that we are to reach our salvation. It is because God Himself has saved us that we have attained our salvation. Believing like this is the real faith.
However, in the religions of the world, it is mankind that has made its own god, it is mankind that develops its own doctrines, and it is mankind that determines for itself how one is blessed and how one is cursed. That is why religion is called as a product of abstraction, of mankind’s fear of death. Put differently, religion is an outcome of human thoughts. In contrast, the Bible is not something that came out of mankind’s own thoughts, but it is the Word of Truth God has given us.
The legalistic faith of the circumcisionists was nothing more than a religious faith. That’s why Paul said, “Why are you so upset over something as completely insignificant as circumcision?” What is important is to be born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit; receiving physical circumcision means nothing. However, the circumcisionists were steadfastly insisting that one had to receive circumcision to become one of God’s people. So, beginning with the Book of Romans, Paul spent so much ink while writing to address the issue of circumcision in his epistles.
Had the Apostle Paul allowed such a teaching besides the gospel of the water and the Spirit, he would not have been persecuted. God would then not have used the Apostle Paul as His instrument, and, in turn, this Word of Truth written by Paul would not have been passed down to you and me today. However, as the Apostle Paul said that he had the marks of Jesus in his body, Paul testified his pure faith even more through such persecution. Without persecution, there is no glory either. If a born-again saint tries to avoid persecution, his salvation itself may be jeopardized as a result.
Nowadays, there is hardly anyone who argues that Christians should be physically circumcised, but there still are many in Christian communities who claim that the remission of sin is received by believing in the blood of the Cross alone and by offering prayers of repentance as well. As a result, even at this very moment, sin continues to remain in the hearts of countless Christians. Are these Christians then facing any persecution? No, they are not persecuted by the people of the world.
Is there anyone who is persecuted just for believing in Jesus nowadays? Of course, those who live in Islamic or Hindu regions sometimes see their lives threatened by the dominant religions of their societies. In Korea, if any worldly Christians were persecuted by any chance, it would be limited to some bland criticism for not performing ancestral rituals. And if a Christian happens to be from a Buddhist family, then he might be pressed to convert back to Buddhism, with his family demanding to know why he believes in Christianity when everyone else in the family believes in Buddhism, and insisting that there could not be two religions in one household. The worst that can happen to him is that his family might threaten to cut him off from his family ties.
The persecution that the Apostle Paul spoke of is not at this level. When he said, “From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus” (Galatians 6:17), he was saying that he had no fear at all to defend the gospel Truth from the threats of the world and the false teachers. The difference of faith between Paul and the circumcisionists is huge. That’s why the Apostle Paul did not say that one should be physically circumcised. Paul also said, “For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh” (Galatians 6:13).
What is it that the circumcisionists boasted in their flesh? Based on the single witness of physical circumcision alone, they boasted, “I am one of God’s people. I am a descendant of Abraham,” and they tried to differentiate their faith by this one feature. But is physical circumcision something to be proud of? How is the true faith that’s in our hearts expressed? It is expressed by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but the people of Israel approved one’s faith based on the mark of his physical circumcision.
Today, we see that if anyone says that he believes only in Jesus’ blood on the Cross, he is approved by everyone else. Many people today express their faith with a single cross necklace. When people see someone with a cross necklace, they automatically assume that he is a Christian. However, without a cross necklace wrapped around his neck, no one can tell if he is a Christian or not. When we preach and emphasize the gospel of the water and the Spirit, Christians who don’t believe in this gospel say to us, “You believe in Jesus, but in a particular way,” and immediately put on guard. In other words, they think to themselves, “What this man is saying is right, but he is different from me and the other Christians. What this man believes could be a bit too dangerous. It could be somewhat problematic. So I should be cautious.” When this happens, the born-again saints are rejected and persecuted by the Christians who have not received the remission of sin, all because of their faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Have You Been Persecuted for Believing in the Gospel of the Water and the Spirit?
“I believe in Jesus. I believe in the crucified Jesus. He has saved me by shedding His blood.” Have you ever been persecuted for believing like this? When you believed like this, you were not persecuted. On the contrary, you were approved by many. However, now that we have received the remission of our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, when we preach this gospel of Truth, we are persecuted.
People say without hesitation, “As a Christian, how could I say that I have no sin, when I commit sin everyday? I am therefore a sinner. And I will forever be a sinner. I will go to the Lord as a sinner. Since the Lord said that He came to call sinners, I will go to the Lord as a sinner.” Those who believe like this approve each other’s faith, saying, “Wow, your faith is exactly the same as mine!”
However, if one does not believe like this, but places his faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and says, “When Jesus came to this earth and was baptized by John the Baptist, all the sins of this world and all my sins were passed onto Jesus; when Jesus was crucified to death shouldering this world’s sins, I, too, died there; and when Jesus rose from the dead again, I was also resurrected,” people give him the cold shoulder and persecute him. In other words, when we say that we have been delivered from all our sins by believing in Jesus as our Savior who has come by the water and the Spirit and saved us, people put on their guard, thinking to themselves, “While this man does believe in Jesus, he believes rather oddly. I can smell heresy from him.” Isn’t this the case, my fellow believers? This indeed is what happens. So it is we who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that are persecuted by those who do not believe like us. But this does not matter.
As you know very well, by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with our hearts, all our sins have disappeared. Because the Lord has already blotted out all our sins, we can be approved by God by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Put differently, since Jesus has blotted out all our sins, we have no choice but to believe. So it is through the gospel of the water and the Spirit that we receive the remission of our sins. The gospel of the water and the Spirit is the Truth of salvation that God has given us, but those who are now preaching only Jesus’ blood on the Cross are insufficient in their faith. Their hearts therefore still remain sinful.
How do we deal with the sins that we commit after believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Those who have been born again by believing in the true gospel confess these sins to God, and affirm that Jesus has already blotted them out as well with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And then, they once again come out to God with a good conscience.
In contrast, when those who are not born again commit sin, they try to wash this sin away through their own prayers of repentance in vain, and therefore sin continues to remain in their consciences. As one’s conscience cannot be deceived, unless he holds on to the evidence that his sins were passed onto Jesus Christ exactly when He was baptized by John the Baptist, he can never confess to be sinless with a good conscience. So, for anyone who does not believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, his own conscience points out that there is sin in his heart. No one can ever deceive his own conscience.
For everyone, it is because people do not believe in the God-given gospel of the water and the Spirit that they remain sinners. It is for standing against this love God has given us that they are cast into hell as terrible sinners. Those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are remitted from their sins and made righteous to enter Heaven, but those who believe in and preach only the blood of the Cross are cast into hell, for their sins remain intact in their hearts. Today, to believe in only the blood of the Cross and just preach prayers of repentance is akin to deceiving one’s own conscience. Those who preach only prayers of repentance along with the blood of the Cross lead others to accept this falsehood as well. The condemnation that is in their consciences is wholly passed onto those who hear them.
As such, when we speak of the gospel of God, we should preach as the following: “All of us could not avoid but die for our sins and be cast into hell. We all were sinners from the very moment we were born. And because of our sins, we drifted far away from God. It’s because of these sins that a huge gap came to exist between God and us. What brings us back to God and connects us with Him again is none other than the gospel of the water and the Spirit.”
However, today’s Christians believe that it is the blood of the Cross that restores our alienated relationship with God. They regard the symbol of the Cross as what Christianity is all about. So, they say that one is saved by accepting the atoning power of the blood of Jesus Christ into his heart according to the Four Spiritual Laws advocated by such mission organizations as the CCC (Campus Crusade for Christ). However, while the symbol of the Cross may connect one religionist with another, it can never remove the sin that is blocking us humans from God. Such a faith is only fallacious.
If one omits the fact that Jesus Christ was baptized, which is the same as the Old Testament’s laying on of hands on the sacrificial animals, and preaches only the blood of Jesus Christ, then he is preaching a religion of his own making. The Lord came to this earth and has saved us once for all through the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit. He did not save us from all sins only through water, nor did He save us only through the blood of the Cross, but He has saved us through both His water and blood (1 John 5:6). It is precisely because the Lord had been baptized by John the Baptist to take upon your sins and mine that He was crucified. And rising from this death, He has saved us perfectly. Like this, it is through the gospel of the water and the Spirit that the Lord has saved us once and for all.
When we profess to believe in Jesus, we must not believe only in the blood of the Cross. We must believe in Jesus who came both by water and blood (1 John 5:6). Likewise, when we preach God’s gospel, we must preach it clearly, correctly, and exactly. And when we testify the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we ourselves must first believe in it and then deliver it to others as it is. Regardless of whether people accept this gospel or not, our priority is to believe in it with our hearts when we preach it.
When we preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit, if people don’t accept it after hearing us once, we need to explain it to them again and again and in more detail. If we preach only the blood of the Cross rather than the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then no matter how hard a listener might try to believe properly, he cannot be saved from sin. How could anyone be saved from sin, when the one preaching God’s true gospel does not preach it correctly? Can anyone be saved just by his own gospel that is made all by himself on his own thoughts?
The Bible says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Unless those preaching the Word of God preach the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit, how could anyone else receive his true salvation? It’s impossible. This, my fellow believers, is why the preachers of the gospel of the water and the Spirit must keep their faith and spread it around the world. If we give up on our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then this world will perish away on its own.
Let me make it clear to you, for I believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit: It is absolutely not true that one can be saved irrespective of whether or not he believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. It is never the case that people are somehow bound to be saved regardless of whether or not we preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit. If we ourselves have been saved by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then we have to infallibly preach this true gospel according to how we believe, for only then can those who hear us receive the remission of sin by believing as we do. If, however, a witness does not preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then his listeners can never receive the remission of sin, no matter how often they might hear him.
Many readers of our books are sending us their testimonies from abroad, saying that they have received the remission of sin by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. What exactly do they testify? They testify that they have been saved through the baptism Jesus received from John the Baptist and the blood He shed on the Cross. Jesus’ baptism and His blood on the Cross are interrelated. The gospel of the water and the Spirit revealed in the Bible is not a gospel that calls us to believe only in the blood of the Cross. This gospel of the water and the Spirit is not something that we have woven on our own. Because the good conscience of faith is in your hearts and mine alike, none of us can lie or deceive. This gospel of Truth is the gospel “according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
When God created us humans, he made us according to His image. That is how He made us, not only in outside appearance, but our inner beings as well. To our inner selves, God gave us conscience, and an attribute of this conscience is of God’s justice. So we can never deceive our own consciences. Whether you believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit or not is a matter of your conscience. It is when our consciences know the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit that we are released from our sins. When the Lord was baptized, He took upon the sins of our consciences. Had the Lord not taken upon even 0.01 percent of our sins, then our own consciences would never be able to say that we are sinless. Those who deceive their consciences deceive themselves.
That is why the Bible says that when people stand before God’s throne of judgment after the second resurrection, all their lips will confess to God and account for everything (1 Peter 4:5). In other words, all those who have sin in their hearts will confess themselves frankly, saying, “I have sin in my heart. I must be cast into hell.” In contrast, the conscience of the born-again will say, “I believe that the Lord has blotted out all my sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. So I have no sin. I believe that the Lord took upon all my sins and paid off all their wages when He came to this earth by being baptized, dying on the Cross, and rising from the dead again.” That is why when one believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, his good conscience is rejoiced. The gospel of the water and the Spirit is the very Truth that Jesus mentioned when He said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
Our faith is a real faith. We don’t just believe in some man-made doctrines. That’s why the Apostle Paul repeatedly points out in Galatians chapter one that the gospel did not come from man, but from God Himself, saying, “But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12). By believing in the Truth, we have reached our salvation with a good conscience.
It is written, “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” (Matthew 3:15). Jesus came to this earth to save us. When Jesus turned 30, He was baptized by John the Baptist, and three years later, He died on the Cross and rose from the dead again, thus fulfilling all the righteousness that saves us. In other words, God did what’s right for us. He sent His Son to this earth, and by making His Son receive baptism, God passed all your sins and mine onto the Son. Weren’t the sins of mankind passed onto Jesus when He was baptized? Of course they were.
Now, you must believe in this gospel of Truth with a good conscience. By our own consciences, we were clearly sinful, and we were all bound to hell. However, to take upon all your sins and mine, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. When Jesus received His baptism, were our sins passed onto Him or not? They were passed on. It’s because our sins were passed onto Jesus that He carried the sins of the world to the Cross, was crucified, and shed His blood to death. And rising from the dead again in three days, He has become our everlasting Savior.
The gospel of the water and the Spirit does not offer the kind of salvation that cannot be recognized by even our own consciences. Your conscience and mine admit that God has saved us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. How is it then? Can you now acknowledge the gospel of the water and the Spirit in your conscience, and have you therefore actually received the remission of your sins to become sinless with a good conscience?
Each of us has his own conscience. When the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 6:18, “Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit,” this means that Paul wanted the grace of Jesus Christ to be with our hearts’ conscience. What, then, is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ? It is of the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the gospel that has saved us from sin. This is what Paul wanted us to have in our spirits. The gospel of the water and the Spirit must be in our hearts. To know this with the head, to believe in it with the heart, to confess it with the lips, and to follow it in our lives—this is the real faith.
My fellow believers, do you believe in this Truth with your hearts? Do you acknowledge the gospel of the water and the Spirit with your good conscience? The gospel of the water and the Spirit is the real Truth. This is the very Truth to which the Apostle Paul testified. The Book of Galatians speaks of this, from the first chapter to the last.
How hard must it have been for the Apostle Paul to preach the gospel to the Gentiles? Because of his faithful devotion, the Gentiles came to believe in this Jesus Christ who came by the water and the Spirit. Paul preached the gospel of the water and the Spirit as it is: “Jesus is God Himself. Even though He is completely sinless, and even though He has never sinned, He came to this earth and took upon all our sins by being baptized by John the Baptist. Shouldering the sins of the world through His baptism, Jesus was crucified to death, but He rose again from the dead. Therefore, whoever believes in this Jesus will be remitted from all his sins and become a child of God.”
As the Apostle Paul testified of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, there arose believers among these Gentiles. “I was indeed bound to hell, but the Son of God has saved me by coming to this earth for me, being baptized, dying on the Cross, and rising from the dead again.” Like this, the Gentiles also believed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with their hearts.
However, if some believers were to say to these new, Gentile believers, “You have to be circumcised. Let’s see if you were circumcised or not. Unless you are circumcised, you are not God’s people. So receive circumcision,” then how could the Gentiles not be confused? That is so damaging to the spreading of the gospel. Such false teachings corrupt the Truth that Jesus Christ came to this earth and has saved us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The insistence on circumcision was indeed a fatal blow to the Apostle Paul’s endeavor to spread the gospel to the Gentiles.
At that time, the Church was thrown into so much confusion that the Apostle Paul struggled tremendously to reestablish it uprightly. That is how you and I are also able to see this Word of Truth now.
And we have also come to realize that now in this age, advocating only the blood of the Cross in place of circumcision is what is throwing the Church into confusion. What, then, should you and I do in this present age, as those who were born again before others? We must believe in the Jesus Christ who came by the water and the Spirit, preach Him, and defend the true gospel. We must not proclaim only the crucified Jesus. Rather, we must teach about the Jesus Christ who has blotted out all the sins of mankind by coming by the water and the Spirit, testify as to this Jesus Christ, and believe in this Jesus Christ.
If there is no cause, then there is no consequence either. Is there any consequence without a cause? When God made this universe, when He made you born on this earth, did He just say unconditionally, “I made you by chance”? No, the Bible says that He planned to make us His people in Christ before the foundation of the world, and that He has saved us by sending Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:4). Given this, would God then have carelessly given us just the conclusion to our salvation, only pointing out the blood of the Cross as the answer? How could there be any truth that cannot even meet the law of causality?
Without the baptism of Jesus, there is no Cross either. In other words, the gospel of only the Cross devoid of the baptism of Jesus is not the Truth. We must know properly and believe properly. I know that you understand and believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit properly. Understanding Paul’s desire, let us then also preach as Paul preached.
Rather than being conceited, provoking one another, envying each other, or quarrelling with one another, I ask you to truthfully believe in what the Lord has given you with all your hearts, preach it in all its purity, and be wholeheartedly thankful for it.
May the God who has come by the water and the Spirit bless you all.