“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’’ Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die.’ For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ So he said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?’ Then the man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.’ And the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’ So the LORD God said to the serpent:
‘Because you have done this,
You are cursed more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you shall go,
And you shall eat dust
All the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.’
To the woman He said:
‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.’
Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:
‘Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.’
And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them. Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’—therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.”
As we all know very well, Genesis chapter 3 describes how Satan deceived Adam and Eve into eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in the event of which God had warned them that they would surely die. As the result of Adam and Eve eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, today’s Scripture passage writes, “The eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings” (Genesis 3:7).
It’s written here that after their fall, Adam and Eve realized that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together to make coverings for themselves. Along with these coverings of fig leaves that Adam and Eve made for themselves, today’s Scripture passage also mentions another type of clothing—that is, tunics of skin made by God, as it’s written in Genesis 3:21, “Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” Let us examine these two types of clothes.
The First Clothes of Man Were Made of Fig Leaves
After their fall, Adam and Eve realized that they were naked. They were ashamed of themselves as a result, and so they hid themselves among the trees of the garden, and they made and put on coverings of fig leaves. These garments were not made by anyone else but the fallen man himself.
God had made Adam out of dust and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and He had taken out one of Adam’s ribs and made it into Eve. Both Adam and Eve were naked from the beginning. However, once they disobeyed God and ate from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil, their eyes were opened and they realized that they were naked.
The Bible says, “Whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). Therefore, the most fundamental sin of mankind is not having faith in the Word of God. In Genesis chapter 2, God had given Adam and Eve the Garden of Eden and permitted them to enjoy everything, but He had also said to Adam, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). However, Adam and Eve did not believe in the God-spoken Word, and as a result, they were deceived by Satan and ended up eating from the forbidden tree. Because they did not believe in the Word of God sincerely, sin came into the heart of mankind. As sin entered our ancestors’ heart, they drifted away from God. It’s because Adam and Eve did not believe in the Word of God that all human beings became sinners: Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil precisely because they did not believe in God’s Word, and it’s because of this that sin entered the human heart and people became sinners.
The very first thing that happened when Adam and Eve became sinners is that their eyes were opened. Does this then mean that they were blind before they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Does it imply that they didn’t see that they were naked? No, that’s not what it means; rather, it means that Adam and Eve came to have their own standards of good and evil instead of the God-given standard. Before they came to have their own standards of good and evil, Adam and Eve were not ashamed at all even though they were naked, but once they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil out of their disbelief in God’s Word, they came to have their own standards of good and evil, and this made them ashamed of their nakedness and wonder, “Why are we naked? Is it normal to wear clothes?” Even though God had not taught them, they were ashamed of being naked. So they weaved fig leaves together on their own and made coverings for themselves. This was the first garment in human history.
Not long after Adam and Eve wore the garments of fig leaves and hid themselves among the trees, God called Adam, saying, “Adam, where are you?” Adam then answered, “Here I am, Lord. I was ashamed and afraid because I was naked, and so I hid myself.” God already knew everything that had happened. Knowing that Adam and Eve had eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because they did not believe in His Word, God said to Adam, “Who told you that you were naked? Who made it known to you?” Adam then said, “The woman whom You gave me, she gave me the fruit of that tree, and so I ate it. That’s how I realized that I was naked and I became ashamed of myself.” God then asked the woman, “Why did you do this?” Eve said, “The serpent kept on insisting that I should eat the fruit, and so I did.”
God then said to the serpent, “So this is your doing. It’s you who have corrupted my beloved Adam and Eve. You have brought shame to them.” So God judged the serpent, saying to him, “Because you have done this,
You are cursed more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you shall go,
And you shall eat dust
All the days of your life” (Genesis 3:14). God had cursed the serpent. This passage suggests that the serpent did not crawl from the beginning. Given how God cursed the serpent to crawl, we can see that the serpent had moved in a different way at first.
God then continued on to say to the serpent,
“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15).
This is the very first gospel. There had been no enmity between the serpent and man, but they were now enemies to each other. This enmity was to continue for generations to come, as God said to the serpent that He would put enmity “between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15). When Adam and Eve did not believe in the Word of God, and as a result fell into the Devil’s temptation and committed sin, God promised them that the woman’s Seed would bruise the serpent’s head. In other words, this means that God Himself would come to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man, be born from the body of a woman as a Man, and crush Satan’s head—that is, destroy the Devil. God was promising here that He would make it impossible for Satan to deceive people anymore, and He would remove the poison of sin that the Devil had injected into mankind. God also said here, “You shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15), and this passage means that Jesus Christ would bear all the sins of this world through His baptism and consequently be crucified to death. This is the primitive gospel. And it is the covenant of the gospel.
There are two types of garments mentioned in Genesis chapter 3. One is made of fig leaves, and the other one is made of skin. After their fall, Adam and Eve made garments out of fig leaves and put them on to cover their shame, but these garments were man-made. In contrast, the tunics of skin were made by God personally, killing an animal as the propitiation for Adam and Eve and using its skin to clothe them. Through these two types of clothes, we can see how God was promising to save us from sin through the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit, and how He has indeed saved us.
When it comes to our salvation from sin, God is saying here that this cannot be reached through our own garments made of fig leaves. Put differently, that Adam and Eve made and put on coverings of fig leaves means, in spiritual terms, man’s own attempt to keep the Law of God. It is an inherent characteristic of fig leaves to wither away in a few days. Likewise, for human beings to receive the remission of sins by observing the Law, they must depend on their own effort to keep the Law every day, but no one can save himself from the sins of the world by this means. What will happen if you weave fig leaves together and wear them? Since the garment is made of leaves, it will wither away and dry out in no time. Yet despite this, Adam and Eve weaved fig leaves together and put them on. These clothes were bound to dry up and break down in no time. They would then have turned naked again. If they were caught by some branches while walking in the woods, the leaves would be torn and they would once again be exposed.
It’s only after their fall that Adam and Eve came to realize the shame that stemmed from their sins. Their nakedness here implies their sinful nature, and they were ashamed when their sins were exposed. Accordingly, the Bible says in the Book of Romans that the purpose of the Law of God is to enable us to realize our sins. And the Book of Galatians says that those who are under the Law are under the curse. Those who are under the curse of God are those who try to keep the Law every day to be saved from sin; and when they fail to live by the Law and commit sin, they try to cleanse and justify themselves under the Law by offering their own prayers of repentance. The Bible says that such people are placed under God’s curse, and they are the ones standing against His righteousness.
Can any human being ever keep the God-given Law? Some people think they can. But did God give them the Law so that they would go to Heaven by observing the Law? No, that is not the case. We need to ask ourselves whether those who believe they can go to Heaven by keeping the Law really have the right faith. The Bible clearly states, “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). And the Book of James also says that even if one has kept the Law faithfully, if he breaks just one statute of the Law, this is the same as breaking the entire Law. In other words, the Law was given to us so that we would realize our sins and be saved by Jesus, and not to try to receive the remission of sins by observing the Law.
We need to realize here that when God first gave the Law to Moses, He also showed him the sacrificial system of the Tabernacle. At that time, the people of Israel had no idea how difficult it would be to observe the Law that they all promised to keep it faithfully when God revealed it to them through Moses, but God knew that they would sin, and He also knew that through the Law, it was impossible for the Israelites to be perfected, not to mention receiving the remission of sins. It’s precisely for this reason that God showed the sacrificial system of the Tabernacle to Moses. And that is why God commanded Moses to build the Tabernacle.
As a consequence, every time the people of Israel broke the Law, they had to make a sacrificial offering in accordance with the requirements of the Tabernacle’s sacrificial system. So they passed their sins to a sacrificial lamb or goat by laying their hands on its head, cut its throat and drew its blood, put the blood on the four horns of the altar of burnt offering, cut the animal’s flesh into pieces and offered it to God, and threw away its unclean parts outside the camp and burnt them. Through such sacrificial offerings they were saying to God, “Lord, though I deserve to die for my sins, I am offering You this sacrificial animal in my place. You gave me this sacrificial system to save me, and You promised that You would remit away my sins if I offer a sacrifice to You like this, and so I am making this sacrificial offering to You as instructed by You.” In this way, the people of Israel were able to obtain the remission of their sins.
However, the Israelites continued to commit sins even after offering sacrifices. So, God had set another sacrifice that could cleanse their yearly sins once and for all. When the yearly sacrifice was offered on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest appointed by God passed the Israelites’ sins by laying his hands on the sacrificial animal on their behalf, thus making it possible for them to receive the remission of sins before both God and man.
To repeat, the New Testament says in the Book of Galatians, “As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse” (Galatians 3:10). It says that anyone who seeks to be under the Law is asking to be cursed. It’s written in Galatians 3:10-12: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’ But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘the just shall live by faith.’ Yet the law is not of faith, but ‘the man who does them shall live by them.’” God is saying here that anyone who is of the works of the Law is under the curse. This means that anyone who tries to hide his shame, whether spiritual or fleshly, by making and wearing a covering of fig leaves is someone who is under the curse.
King David committed adultery by taking the wife of Uriah, one of his own military men under his command. After waking up from a nap, David had gone up to the roof of the palace for a stroll, and from there he had seen Uriah’s wife Bathsheba bathing. Struck by her beauty, he sent his men to bring her to him, and he slept with her. Not only did David commit adultery, but he also committed murder by deliberately sending Uriah to the front line where the battle was the fiercest and getting him killed by the enemy.
God then pointed out David’s sins through His servant, the Prophet Nathan. Nathan the prophet said to David, “There was a certain poor man whose only possession was just a lamb. For this man, his lamb was his friend and his own family. There was another man in his neighborhood, a rich man who had many lambs. When this wealthy man was visited by a guest, he took the only lamb that the poor man had and served it to the guest. Your majesty, such a man is among your people.” David was enraged to hear this and said to Nathan, “What an evil man! The rich man should have slaughtered one of his many lambs to serve the guest! I can’t believe there is such an evil man among my people. I will not stay still until he is punished!”
The Prophet Nathan then said to David, “That rich man is none other than you. Even though you have many concubines, you took the wife of one of your own men fighting for your kingdom, you defiled her, and you even killed the man to cover it up. Hearing this, David immediately admitted his sins to God, confessing, “Lord, I have sinned before You. I am that man.” And when David confessed his sins, Nathan said to him, “God has already forgiven you your sins.”
What we should realize here is that David not only committed adultery with another man’s wife before God, but he also committed murder. After sleeping with Bathsheba, David lied to her husband and went as far as arranging his death. David was so infatuated with Bathsheba that he loved her more than God. He adored Uriah’s wife so much that he was completely smitten, and he ended up breaking the commandment prohibiting him from idolatry. He broke the commandments against murder, against bearing false witness, against taking the name of God in vain, and against worshiping other gods before the Lord God. In short, David had broken all the Ten Commandments.
Of course, David lamented over his sins when he came to realize them. When we turn to Psalm 51, it’s written that David went to bed, covered himself with linen, and cried so much while praying that the linen got wet from his tears. So he confessed, “I have sinned against God,” and he also said:
“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:5-7).
In other words, David admitted to God honestly that he could not help but continue to sin because it was in his fundamental nature. And he left all his judgment up to God. God then declared that all of David’s sins had been cleansed already. What we have to realize here is that David knew that he could never be made righteous through the Law. This means that if you want to be saved, it’s not enough to just say to God, “Lord, please forgive me this sin of mine,” but you have to admit to Him, “I am a depraved sinner by nature.”
Two types of garments are mentioned in Genesis chapter 3, and Adam and Eve, having clothed themselves with the Law, hid from God out of shame. This implies that no one can be made perfect by keeping the Law.
That one cannot reach perfection by observing the Law is once again made clear in Genesis chapter 4, where the story of Cain and Abel is told. It’s written in Genesis 4:3-5, “And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.” As we can see here, Cain and Abel each offered a different offering to God.
Cain’s Offering Was of the Fruit of the Ground
Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord God. The other offering made by Abel was of the firstborn of the flock and of their fat. Their parents, Adam and Eve, had had two types of clothes, one made of fig leaves and the other made of skin. Similarly, Abel and Cain had offered two types of offerings, one made of the fruit of the ground and the other of the firstborn of the flock and of their fat. Cain had offered the fruit of the ground to God, while Abel had offered the firstborn of his flock and of their fat.
The Bible says that God did not accept Cain and his offering, but He accepted Abel and his offering. What, then, was Cain’s offering, which was not accepted by God? It was the fruit of the ground. Literally, Cain had offered the produce of the ground. In contrast, Abel offered the firstborn of his flock and their fat. What’s the difference here? Adam and Eve had coverings of fig leaves and tunics of skin; likewise, Abel and Cain had made offerings of the fruit of the ground and of the firstborn of the flock and of their fat. What was the difference between these two offerings? The coverings of fig leaves that Adam and Eve wore are connected with Cain’s offering made of the fruit of the ground, and the tunics of skin God made for Adam and Eve are connected to Abel’s offerings made of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. Cain’s offering of the fruit of the ground was made of his own effort, sweat, and devotion. In contrast, Abel’s offering of the firstborn of the flock was made exactly according to the God-given sacrificial system.
As mentioned, Abel’s offering is connected to the tunics of skin that God had made for Adam and Eve, and what differentiates Abel’s offering from Cain’s offering of the fruit of the ground is the presence and absence of blood. As Hebrews 9:22 says, “Without shedding of blood there is no remission,” an offering with blood is fundamentally different from a bloodless offering. These offerings symbolize two types of faith seen among today’s Christians: Those holding the first type attempt to placate God through their own devotion by offering prayers of repentance diligently, while those holding the second type, though they are incapable of placating God with their own merits, approach Him by believing that the Lord has saved them by coming to this earth, being baptized, and shedding His blood on the Cross. The question here is: “Whose faith would God accept?”
Salvation Has Come by Grace, Not by the Law
The proper offering that a sinner should offer to God is of the firstborn of the flock and its fat. Who is this firstborn of the flock then? Isn’t it Jesus Christ? What did Jesus Christ do when He came to this earth?
It’s written in Matthew 3:13-17: “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’ But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’”
Jesus was conceived in the body of the Virgin Mary and born on this earth in order to save His people from their sins. And when He turned 30, He went to John the Baptist and was baptized by him, saying to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”
At first, John the Baptist tried to stop Jesus. John the Baptist was the greatest of those born of women (Matthew 11:11). Put differently, he was the representative of all humankind. God had promised in the Book of Malachi that He would send Elijah before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5), and John the Baptist was the very servant of God promised to be sent with the spirit of this Elijah, who would play an interceding role between God and man. John the Baptist was this very servant sent to this earth by God.
God had sent John the Baptist to this earth six months prior to Jesus, and when Jesus turned 30, John the Baptist baptized Him. Jesus went to him as he was baptizing the people of Israel in the Jordan River. He then said to John the Baptist, “Baptize Me.” John the Baptist then said, “How can I baptize You, when I should be baptized by You?” John the Baptist and Jesus had recognized each other. But Jesus said to John the Baptist, “Permit it to be so, as I order you. We will thus fulfill all righteousness. Pass all sins to Me through baptism. On the Day of Atonement, when the High Priest of the Old Testament confessed the sins of the Israelites and passed them onto the sacrificial animal by laying his hands on its head, all the yearly sins of the entire people of Israel were transferred to the sacrificial animal. Likewise, it is fitting for you to pass everyone’s sins to Me in this way. So you shall baptize Me.” As Jesus ordered him, John the Baptist obeyed Him.
Where it says here, “Thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness,” the word “thus” means that Jesus would accept all the sins of mankind by receiving baptism from John the Baptist. It means that there is no other way for Jesus to accept all the sins of mankind but by receiving this baptism. The word “thus” is “οϋτως γάρ” (hoo’-tos gar) in Greek, and it means “the most fitting way,” “by this method,” and “no other way but this.”
Jesus had come to this earth to blot out all the sins of His people. Having come to blot out the sins of the world, Jesus had to make an eternal sacrifice according to the sacrificial system of the Tabernacle, in which the Israelites’ sins were passed onto the sacrificial animals when they laid their hands on their heads. Because this statute was established by God, Jesus had to come to this earth exactly as promised in the Old Testament, and according to this promise He had to accept all our sins by receiving baptism in the same manner as the laying on of hands. That is why Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. God the Father had set this method before the creation of this universe. In other words, Jesus took this method in obedience because it was impossible for Him to accept all the sins of mankind onto His body except through this way. And Jesus Himself desired to do so.
Jesus said to John the Baptist, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Hearing this, John the Baptist then allowed Him. Jesus was baptized and completely submerged in the water, and then He came up from the water. It’s written, “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’” (Matthew 3:16-17). When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, God the Father said, “This is My beloved Son. He is My beloved Son who has accepted all the sins of mankind by being baptized. Through His baptism, My Son has accepted all the sins of mankind in obedience to My will. He has thus fulfilled all righteousness.” Here, the words “all righteousness” in Greek are “πάσαν δικαιοσύνην” (pasan dik-ah-yos-oo’-nayn), which mean “the fairest state that has no defect at all.”
This means that our Lord came to this earth to save the entire human race from all its sins, and He has saved us justly. He accepted all the sins of mankind fairly and justly, by lowering His head to John the Baptist and received baptism from him. And He went into the water and came out of it, the former symbolizing His death and the latter His resurrection. In this way, Jesus fought for our salvation justly and triumphed to achieve it justly.
Jesus was born on this earth to blot out all the sins of mankind, but for the first 29 years He had led a private life serving His family. Once He turned 30, however, He manifested Himself publicly, and He accepted all the sins of this world by being baptized by John the Baptist. Three years later, He died on the Cross and rose from the dead again, and thereby saved us all. This was approved by God the Father.
What, then, is the significance of the fact that God made tunics of skin and clothed Adam and Eve with them? Because Adam and Eve had fallen into sin due to their disbelief in the Word of God, the firstborn of the flock was needed to save them. The firstborn of the flock refers to Jesus Christ the Son of God. As the Bible says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16), Jesus the only begotten Son of God came to this earth as the firstborn of the flock—that is, as our own sacrificial Lamb. When Jesus Christ came to this earth, He accepted all the sins of the world by being baptized to bear your sins and mine, He carried these sins of the world to the Cross, and He shed His blood and died on it. And He rose from the dead again, and this resurrected Jesus is the Son of God, the Creator of the entire human race, and God Himself.
The offering that Abel made to God was of the firstborn of the flock and their fat. This implies that Abel believed that Jesus Christ would come to this earth to save us, bear our sins through His baptism, die on the Cross in our place, rise from the dead again and ascend to Heaven, and thereby save all human races. It means that our Savior is not just an ordinary human being.
It’s written, “Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat” (Genesis 4:4). God the Sacred Spirit came to this earth and was born as Jesus Christ, and having come as the Savior, He bore our sins through His baptism, carried the sins of the world to the Cross, died on it, rose from the dead again, and thereby saved us. This Person is none other than the Son of God who has saved us. He is the Son of God the Almighty Father, and He is the very God who created you and me. It is this God who created us that has saved you and me from all the sins of the world and destruction. As you and I did not believe in the Word of God, we had fallen into sin deceived by the wiles of Satan, and we were destined to be judged by God to face death and hell as the everlasting punishment for our sins just as the Devil was condemned, but the Lord Jesus has saved such people like us.
God does not accept the faith of those who try to sanctify themselves and reach their own salvation by keeping the Law and offering prayers of repentance. Rather, He accepts the faith of those who, even though they have no righteousness of their own, believe that Jesus Christ has saved them perfectly through His water and blood. By accepting all our sins and dying on the Cross, Jesus Christ became the Lamb of God that took away the sins of the world. Therefore, faith in this Word of God alone is what sets us free from the punishment of death and hell.
By Being Baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus Bore All the Sins of the World Once and for All, and He Carried Them to the Cross
Jesus bore all the sins that we have ever committed and will ever commit in this world, and He died on the Cross in our place. Through His baptism, our Lord took upon all the sins that we commit until the day we die; He shed His blood and died on the Cross in our place; He rose from the dead again to bring us back to life; He ascended to the Kingdom of Heaven to prepare it for us; and He promised that when the time comes, He would return to take us to Heaven. All these things were done by none other than our Savior, Jesus Christ who has saved us out of His love. He is the Son of God, and He is the Savior who created us and delivered us from all our sins and iniquities. We had fallen into the wiles of the wicked Devil and were dying as a result, but Jesus delivered us from the hands of Satan, and He saved us from the death and curses that we had to suffer because of our sins. It’s Jesus Christ who has delivered us from the sins of the world.
So the Bible says in Colossians, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13). Our Lord has saved us in this way. When we believed in this Lord and Savior, we were saved by faith. God clothed us in salvation on account of this faith. He was not pleased when Adam and Eve clothed themselves with the coverings of fig leaves.
The Bible says: “By the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Romans 3:20); “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10); and, “They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb” (Romans 3:12-13). Even when it becomes unclear whether we live to eat or eat to live, do we not still eat? That’s why the Bible says, “Their throat is an open tomb.” “With their tongues they have practiced deceit” (Romans 3:13). There is no one who does good. Man is absolutely devoid of righteousness. God looked to see if there was anyone keeping the Law, but there was no one righteous. Of course, there have always been some people who have tried to keep the Law. But what saddens God is that these people do not realize their inherent limits—that is, they don’t recognize that they are simply incapable of observing the Law. Yet out of their ignorance, they still try hard to observe the Law.
Having compassion on such mankind, God sent Jesus Christ His only begotten Son to this earth about 2,000 years ago as our own propitiation, for it is written, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) And having come to this earth, Jesus was baptized to bear all the sins of the world, and He shed His blood on the Cross to pay off all their wages in our place.
All sins belong to the sins of the world, whether they are original or personal. Every sin is included in the sins of the world. Do we commit sin somewhere else other than in the world? No, of course not. So, given this, all our sins are included in the sins of the world. Jesus bore all the sins that we have ever committed from the very moment we were born and we will ever commit until our death, irrespective of when we commit them at what age. In this way, by coming to this earth and being baptized once and for all, our Lord fulfilled all righteousness. By accepting all the sins of this world through His baptism and blotting them all out, He has saved us from all our sins.
We can never be saved by keeping the Law because no one can keep it wholly. God has taught us this truth through His Word. Therefore, anyone who tries to keep the Law on his own is actually challenging God and asking to be under the curse. Such people gather together every day and pray, “Lord, please forgive our sins,” but can anyone receive the remission of sins by offering the fruit of the ground? Just because you beg God to forgive you, appeal to Him with your tears, and resolve yourself to never sin again, will God even be slightly moved? Will He accept the fruit of the ground just because you are offering it with all your devotion?
My fellow believers, the offering that God accepts in joy is the firstborn of the flock and their fat. When this offering is made, God accepts it in pleasure. This teaches us what kind of faith we must have before God. Our faith must be like Abel’s faith. It must be according to the Word of God.
Do you still think that if you are devout enough, you can somehow move God? Perhaps the Devil or another human being may be moved by your piety and devotion. But God is not moved by your own piety. Although God loves us all, He loves us through the just Law that He has established. He is saying to us, “I have established the Law, and I will put to death anyone who offends this Law. However, before I do so, I will send Jesus Christ for your sake, for I have pity on you. Will you believe in Him or not? If you believe, you will be saved.” If we believe in what Jesus has done for us, we will receive the God-given Holy Spirit to become His children. But if we do not believe, He will reject us. That’s because God is just as well as merciful.
What did Cain do when his offering was rejected? He got angry at God, as it’s written, “Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.” He was so enraged that his face changed. The Lord God then said to him, “Why are you so angry at Me? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door of your heart. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it. If you had brought a proper offering with proper faith, would you not have been accepted?” If Cain had come before God with the right faith, there is no reason why he would have been rejected.
Since God had saved Adam and Eve by making tunics of skin and clothing them with the tunics, they must have told their children about God’s merciful salvation. The fact that Abel, Cain’s brother, brought an offering of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat is the evidence showing that their parents had told them about it. Adam and Eve must have said to their children, “Whenever you commit sin before God, offer a sacrificial animal to Him by faith. In the past, because we did not believe in God’s Word, we did something we were told not to do and fell into sin as a result, but to save us from sin, God killed an animal, made tunics of skin, and clothed us in these tunics. That’s the offering that God wants from you, and so you should also make the same offering. Because God is just, He must judge us without fail if we commit sin. But because God loves us, He gave us sacrificial animals on this earth to deliver us from sin. We’ve slaughtered sacrificial animals and offered them to God, and so you should do the same also.”
However, Cain insisted on his own way until the end, thinking to himself, “That’s nonsense! All that matters is how sincere I am. If I make an offering devoutly, God will be moved so much that He will change His law of salvation and save me.” So Cain altered the rules and requirements of sacrifice and placed a heap of the produce of the earth on a large boulder, saying to God, “Lord, accept these as my offering.” In contrast, Abel slaughtered a first-born lamb, put in on a small boulder, and offered it to God. God then accepted Abel and his offering while rejecting Cain and his offering.
When Adam and Eve bore their second son, they named him Abel, which literally meant “breath,” “vanity,” or “temporality like a mist.” Abel offered what God desired from him just as he was instructed by his parents because he knew that he had neither any strength nor any power of his own. And God accepted his offering.
But Cain got angry at this, thinking to himself, “If God were just, He should know just how much harder I’ve worked than my brother. What kind of a god is He?” As Cain clenched his fist in anger, his brother trembled in fear. God then appeared and said to Cain, “If you had done well, why would you not be able to speak to Me straightforward? Isn’t it because you haven’t done well that your countenance has fallen and you have turned angry? If you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And you will commit sin again. Its desire is for you, but you should rule over it. You should not act based on your own desires and thoughts. You should believe in Me and My Word that your parents have taught you like your brother, rather than doing whatever you want to do.”
But the Bible says that after this, “Cain talked with Abel his brother.” It seems likely that Cain threatened Abel. Perhaps he told him, “From now on, do as I do when we go before God to offer our sacrifices.” But Abel didn’t listen to Cain, and so afterwards, when they were in the field, “Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.” Cain ended up murdering his own brother. So God had said to him, “Sin lies at the door of your heart. How can you see yourself righteous when you are a seed of evildoers that commits such sins as murder, theft, fornication, evil thoughts, foolishness, and pride?” God had told Cain that he was a sinner. But Cain did not admit this. That’s why he ended up killing Abel.
Everything did not end there. God appeared before Cain again, as it’s written: “Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’ And He said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth’” (Genesis 4:9-12).
Cain had underestimated God. God is invisible to the eye. Since God is not visible, Cain thought He would not know. Simply put, Cain did not believe in God and he was ignorant of the Truth. He didn’t know that there was an invisible God, and he didn’t realize just how great God’s invisible realm was. The God-made dominion is expansive, including both the visible realm and the realms unknown to man, but Cain was completely ignorant about the invisible world because he did not believe in God.
God Exposed Cain’s Sins
God pointed out Cain’s sins, saying to him, “The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. Didn’t you kill your brother and burry him in the ground? Isn’t the ground soaked with your brother’s blood? Doesn’t your heart have the sin of murdering your own brother? Haven’t you committed the sin of not believing in Me? Don’t you have the sin of murder, disbelief, adultery, and theft?” He also said to Cain, “Unless you believe, you will be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth. You will live a forever-accursed life, unable to settle down and live happily in any one place, but always being pursued for your sins.” This means that those who do not believe in God are destined to wander around, just as Satan roams around before being casting into hell. This means that they will be cursed.
Cain said to the Lord God, “My punishment is greater than I can bear! Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.” The Lord God then said to him, “That will not happen. Whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold,” and He set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.
God says to human beings, “From your very birth, you were born as a brood of evildoers.” But people do not believe in the Word of God. They don’t believe that they were born on this earth as a brood of evildoers. And they don’t believe that they’ve committed atrocious sins before God and man. They just think that they’ve committed only minor sins. And they think they can avoid committing any more sin if they try hard enough, and that they can be decent people if they put in enough effort. Those who do not believe in the Word of God commit countless sins in their lives, but they admit that they have too many sins only when they are in their old age. Such people admit to God that they are a brood of evildoers only when they break some secular laws, are sent to prison, their deeds are published in newspapers, and their countless sins are exposed to the world. And only then are they tormented by these sins and realize that they will be destroyed for them. But it’s not just because of your exposed sins that Jesus Christ came to this earth and saved you through His water and blood, but it is because of your fundamental sins.
Some people have offered the firstborn of the flock and their fat to God by faith, believing that the Son of God loved them so much that He came to this earth, bore all the sins of the world by being baptized, and saved them by dying on the Cross, and these people have been saved by this faith. But there are many people who refuse to believe in this Truth until the very end.
Cain said here, “I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.” Elsewhere in the Bible it is also written, “The wicked flee when no one pursues, But the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1). Anyone who has sin will be a fugitive even if there is no one pursuing him. In contrast to the sinless, who are bold as a lion, the sinful always feel as though they are being pursued. A fugitive criminal hides himself with fear whenever he sees a policeman. Sinners are fugitives in their hearts, wondering time after time, “What if someone comes after me? Did this man come to arrest me?” Unless you receive the remission of sins, you will always feel insecure surrounded by fear because of your sins. Even if your sins were not visible to people and they do not know them, because God has written them in your heart, you cannot escape from your guilt.
We must believe in this salvation, that Jesus Christ has saved us through His water and blood; we must believe in the Word of the firstborn of the flock and of their fat. If you believe in this Truth, you will receive the blessing of salvation, but if you fail to do so, you will have to hide yourself constantly. And you will be pursued. But God has given salvation to all such fearful people through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. It is written, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). God is saying to all sinners, “I want everyone to be saved.” It’s also 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). God has saved everyone in this world without any exception. The entire human race can now be saved from all sins by believing in the baptism of Jesus Christ and His blood on the Cross. God wants you to be saved by this faith and come to His presence.
It’s not because everyone commits sin that God judges human beings, but it’s because people do not believe in the righteousness of Jesus Christ that God condemns their disbelief. Of course, there are many Christians all over the world, but most of them still do not believe in Jesus according to the Truth of the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the gospel through which Christ has saved all human beings once and for all. Such Christians are actually the same as the unbelievers, even though they profess Jesus as their Savior. These nominal Christians will eventually leave God. And God will judge them for their sins, and they will be deservedly punished. No one else but God is the Judge. However, God is still bestowing His salvation on everyone.
When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, He bore all the sins of everyone in this world once and for all. He took upon Himself each and every sin, leaving no one’s sins behind. Although we do not know when this earth will end, Jesus bore all the sins of everyone who will ever live until the very end. Jesus Christ has blotted out all the sins committed by everyone made in the likeness of the image of God, from Adam to the last person standing at the end of this earth. It is by coming to this earth and being baptized that our Lord bore the sins of the world and washed them all away. And He bore all the condemnation of sin on the Cross. That is how Jesus has saved us. Therefore, now, it’s not because of one’s sins or shortcomings that everyone is destined to hell and to be condemned, but it is because people do not believe in Jesus Christ who came by the gospel of the water and the Spirit that they are to be judged.
Cain had committed murder. However, God set a mark on Cain so that he would not be killed by anyone, saying to him, “Whoever kills you will be punished by sevenfold.” What God had given Cain was the mark of salvation. To every human being, including you and me, God has also given the mark of salvation. This mark of salvation is the Word of Truth that when Jesus came to this earth, He accepted all the sins of mankind by being baptized at the age of 30. The baptism of Jesus is the mark of salvation that has washed mankind from all its sins (1 Peter 3:21). Nevertheless, Cain still departed from the Lord God and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of the Garden of Eden.
Cain refused to believe in God to the end, and just like Cain here, many people absolutely refuse to believe in the genuine gospel no matter how many times it is preached to them. Far from believing, even at this very moment they are busy weaving garments of fig leaves to cover their shame for a few days, a week, or a month. They continue to make these coverings of fig leaves to clothe themselves. And they offer these rag-like clothes to God, saying, “Lord, You have washed my sins like this covering. I believe in this. Isn’t my garment wonderful?”
Even now, there are many people who don’t believe in God just like Cain. Even though God has given them the mark of salvation, even though Jesus came to this earth by this mark of salvation, and even though the Bible clearly says, “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism” (1 Peter 3:21), some people still don’t believe so. Believing that Jesus has saved us through His water and blood does not entail the removal of the filth of the flesh, but it enables us to answer God with a good conscience and come to His presence boldly by the conviction of faith. A true believer can profess boldly, “I believe that God has saved me through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. I can approach God with a good and clean conscience on account of my faith, for I believe that God has indeed saved me.”
God has given us the mark of salvation. Jesus Christ was crucified to bear the condemnation of our sins, He shed His blood to die in our place, and He laid down His life to save us. And He was baptized in order to bear all your sins and mine and wash them away. It was to take away all our sins and remove them from our hearts that Jesus Christ was baptized.
There Are Two Types of Christians
Among today’s Christians, there are those who try to lead their lives of faith by offering their own prayers of repentance every day, and then there are those who have been really saved by believing in Jesus according to the Word of God. As the latter believe in the Word of God, they believe that when Jesus came to this earth, He bore all the sins of mankind on His body by being baptized in order to blot out their sins, died on the Cross, and thereby saved them from their death, curses, and judgment.
In contrast, those who don’t believe in the Word of God cover themselves with the garments of fig leaves even now. Trying to reach sanctification by offering prayers of repentance is the same as bringing an offering of the fruit of the ground.
These Christians think they are pleasing God whenever they offer a lot of money to their respective churches. So they feel compelled to offer thick envelopes full of money to their churches and even take out huge loans to contribute to the construction of a church building that costs ten, twenty million dollars.
Their pastors would say to them, “If each one of us were to offer $10,000, we will be able to build a million-dollar church building with only 100 church members. Can’t you contribute $10,000 for the sake of God? We spend $50,000 and $100,000 on our worldly businesses, and we often guarantee someone else’s loans. So why can’t we cosign each other’s loans for not only $10,000 but also $100,000, if it’s for God? Will we somehow not honor each other’s obligations? We can take out a loan from a bank as cosigners, offer this money to God, open a saving account, and pay off the debt little by little over the course of our lifetime. Say amen if you believe we can do this!”
The congregation would then say, “Amen!”
“Then those pledging $10,000, stand here please, and those pledging $100,000, gather around on the other side.”
The whole congregation is separated like this and they are pressured to pledge their contributions. What’s more, they are told by their pastors, “If you don’t honor your pledge, you will be cursed by God.” This is what really happens in many churches. For ordinary people, $10,000 is a lot of money, and so where will they find this kind of money? They all come up with this money by taking out a loan and cross-guaranteeing each other, all because of the money that’s needed to build a lavish church building. Many Christians have actually gone completely broke in this way.
What does this show? It shows the faith that’s made of fig leaves. None other than this is offering the fruit of the ground to God. If one leads his life of faith in ignorance, then his faith is in vain no matter how devout he is.
My fellow believers, the faith that God accepts in pleasure is one that believes in Jesus Christ, who loved us so much that He came to this earth to save us, was baptized for us, shouldered the sins of the world, was condemned on the Cross, and rose from the dead again by the power of God the Father to raise us back to life. Do you believe that this Jesus who has saved us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit is now sitting at the right hand of the throne of God the Father?
The faith that pleases God is the faith that believes in the salvation of Jesus Christ. The faith that is detested by God is one that attempts to reach sanctification through human effort, by offering prayers of repentance. Seeing how so many people were trying so hard to live virtuously, God said that He abhorred them, likened them to whitewashed tombs, and called them a brood of vipers. Pretending to be holy with the Bible tucked at your side like a Pharisee is not what the true faith is about.
How did Jesus save us from all our sins? When Jesus came to this earth, He was baptized by John the Baptist and crucified in order to save us from sin. Why was He baptized? He was baptized to accept all the sins that you and I commit in our entire lifetime, and to thus make us sinless. It was to save you from your sins that Jesus came to this earth and was baptized 2,000 years ago. To save you and me, who would be born 2,000 years later and commit sin in this world and be cast into hell upon our death, our Lord came to this earth 2,000 years ago and accepted all our sins beforehand by being baptized by John the Baptist at the age of 30. God brings salvation to those of us who believe that our Lord bore all our sins, that out of His love He shouldered all our sins and washed them away by being baptized, and that He has thereby made us sinless. In other words, we have received our salvation just by faith. Salvation is reached only by those who believe in the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit, and those who do not believe in this gospel Truth can never enter Heaven nor be saved.
It’s written in today’s Scripture passage, “Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever—therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:22-24).
Judging Adam and Eve for eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God said, “The man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.” This means that we came to know good and evil, like the Triune God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is not something good. Rather, it means that we came to have our own standard of good and evil. In other words, we came to judge God and challenge Him according to our own thoughts.
God also said, “And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” (Genesis 3:22). Recall that God had placed the tree of life in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were allowed to eat from this tree, but they were not supposed to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God had said to them that they could eat from every tree in the Garden except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and if they ate from this tree, they would die for sure. Adam and Eve should have obeyed God and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, we believe in You. We will indeed die if we eat from this tree.” They should have not even laid their eyes on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. All that they had to do was just not eat from the tree, and yet they did not believe in the Word of God saying that they would die for sure, and they went ahead and ate from the tree. So now that they fell into sin, God drove them out of the Garden of Eden, lest they obtained everlasting life in such a sinful state. However, even Adam and Eve were still able to receive the remission of sins, all by believing in Jesus Christ.
Do You Know What a Flaming Sword Is?
God drove out Adam to till the ground from which he was taken. And He placed cherubim—angels, that is—at the east of the Garden of Eden and put a flaming sword to guard the way to the tree of life.
Do you know what a flaming sword is? It’s a sword, but it has flames. A flaming sword and angels guarded the Garden of Eden and kept watch over it in every direction. This means that the flaming sword is turning every way to guard Heaven, lest anyone tries to enter it by observing the Law—that is, it guards Heaven from those who, despite believing in Jesus, try to be saved by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, reach sanctification through their own prayers of repentance, and enter Heaven as sinless people by living virtuously. But no one can get around the flaming sword.
Can anyone get around the Law of God? No, it’s not possible. God has given the Law to everyone, including non-Christians. One’s own conscience plays the role of the Law (Romans 2:15). In other words, your own conscience is your law, constantly accusing you of your sins. This means that no one can enter Heaven by keeping the Law with his acts. Only by believing in the God-spoken Word can one enter Heaven, become God’s child, be saved from sin, and receive everlasting life.
That is why, my fellow believers, we must all believe in the Word of God. Jesus Christ was baptized for our sake. When I speak of this baptism, many Christians say to me that one can be saved just by believing in the Cross. But that is not the case. Let’s turn to 1 Peter 3:21 here: “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” This is a profoundly important passage; after all, the Apostle Peter didn’t write it out of boredom.
The Bible says that one can see and enter the Kingdom of God only when the person is born again of water and the Spirit (John 3:3-5). And we just read, “There is an antitype which now saves us—baptism” (1 Peter 3:21). The Bible also says, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). Not only the Four Gospels, but also Romans, Galatians, Acts, Colossians, Titus, and Hebrews all speak of the baptism of Jesus. A sinner is remitted from his sins by believing in this Word of God proclaiming that Jesus accepted all our sins by being baptized.
What washes away the filth of this world? It’s washed by water. It’s not washed by fire. Fire will only leave black soot. But when it’s washed with water, it will become clean. When God brings down the rain, it washes away all the filth into the sea. Like this, because of the water the world is cleansed again.
Your soul and mine are also cleansed by believing in the Word that Jesus was baptized for us when He came to this earth. It’s written, “‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized” (Matthew 3:15-16). What does baptism mean? It means that Jesus Christ has washed away our sins. How? By being baptized by John the Baptist, the representative of mankind, and thus accepting all the sins of the world—this is how Jesus has washed away all our sins.
The word “baptism” means “to be washed,” “to be buried,” and “to be transferred.” How were our sins washed away when Jesus was baptized? Our hearts were washed from our sins because all the sins of the world were passed onto Jesus through His baptism according to the God-established law. As John the Baptist laid his hands on Jesus on behalf of all human races, everyone’s sins were passed onto Jesus through John the Baptist. And since all our sins were removed, we became clean. When we had sin, we were filthy, but since all our sins were passed onto Jesus through John the Baptist, we were washed clean. All the sins of the world that you commit until the day you die were transferred to Jesus through His baptism. Whether committed with your heart or acts, willingly or unwillingly, or openly or in hiding, all your sins were passed on. It’s precisely because they were all passed onto Jesus that you have been washed clean. And it’s because our sins were passed onto Jesus that He shouldered them all and shed His blood to death on the Cross.
Jesus never committed any sin at all while in this world. He is the Son of God, God Himself, the Creator, and the Savior who has delivered us. He had no shortcoming whatsoever. Yet even so, the Lord had to be crucified when He came to this earth, and the reason is because He had borne your sins and mine by being baptized. Because our sins were passed onto the body of Jesus, He was crucified to death in our place. That is why Jesus’ baptism is the antitype that saves us, as it’s written, “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism” (1 Peter 3:21). That’s because Jesus was baptized with water.
However, there are many people who don’t believe in the Word of God just like Cain. Like Cain, such people try to establish their own righteousness and refuse to believe in God’s Word, so long as their sins are not exposed. After Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him, God said to Cain, “The blood of your brother cries out to Me from the ground. Do you not know in your heart that you have sinned?” Cain then admitted his sins, and seeing how devastated he was, God gave him the mark of salvation. Yet despite this, Cain did not believe in God and left Him.
God has brought salvation to everyone through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Anyone who believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit will be saved by God, but anyone who does not believe in this gospel will be cast into hell for his unbelief. What about you then? Do you believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Legalistic faith will only lead you straight to hell. Faith in the Word of God alone is the faith that saves you.
My dear fellow believers, how are you leading your lives of faith nowadays? Are you not still offering your own prayers of repentance in tears, trying to impress God by piously offering the fruit of the ground to Him and to get your faith approved? Such faith is a false faith brought by Satan. The Devil says to us, “What have you done well? What virtues do you have? Look at your wretched self!” Satan tries to make us keep looking at our sins and shortcomings. In doing so, he induces us to despair over our insufficiencies and try to do good deeds to cover these shortcomings in desperation.
But we can’t get God’s approval in this way. God sent our Lord to this earth and made Him be baptized and shed His blood, saying to us, “You cannot save yourselves, and so I will save you.”
It’s written, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). Why was Jesus crucified? It’s because He had accepted all the sins of mankind, yours and mine alike, by being baptized when He came to this earth. That is why Jesus shed His blood on the Cross, rose from the dead again, and ascended to the right hand of the throne of God the Father. It is to save us that Jesus came to this earth, received baptism, and died on the Cross. It is to save us that Jesus came to this earth, and He has indeed saved you and me through the gospel of the water and the Spirit!
Do not be foolish to stare at your own shortcomings every day, deceived by the Devil. Instead, when you see your insufficiencies, admit them to God, and look at the Lord’s salvation, saying to Him, “Lord, I am so insufficient that I’ve committed sin again like this.” There is no question that we all commit countless sins in our lives. Whenever this happens, admit your sins to God, and look toward the gospel of the water and the Spirit the Lord has given you. Confirm your salvation once again with the Word, saying to yourself, “The Lord came to this earth and received His baptism to save me, and since all the sins of the world were passed onto Him at that moment, I am sure that all my sins were also passed on.”
My fellow believers, all the sins of this world were passed onto Jesus. Your sins and mine were all passed onto Jesus when He was baptized. Your children’s sins were also passed on. And their descendants’ sins were passed on as well. Though we do not know when this earth will end, all the sins of everyone who has ever lived on this earth and will ever live until its end were passed onto Jesus Christ without exception. It is by this God-given law of salvation, thanks to Jesus Christ, that we have attained our salvation. I ask you to ruminate on the righteous Word of God. God had sent our Savior, and it is by believing in what this Savior has done for us with our hearts that we have been saved from sin. This is the Truth of salvation.
We should never lead our lives of faith legalistically. The antitype of salvation is the baptism of Jesus, and His vicarious crucifixion constitutes the condemnation of our sins. Jesus said in the Bible, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Our Lord is the Truth. He is the way to Heaven.
When our Lord came to this earth, how did He save you and me from the sins of the world? Didn’t He save us by being born on this earth, bearing all the sins of mankind at the age of 30 through His baptism, carrying them to the Cross, being crucified to death, and thus blotting out all your sins and mine? Didn’t He rise from the dead again and ascend to Heaven to sit at the right hand of the throne of God the Father? That is exactly how Christ has saved us. It is unambiguously clear.
Can anyone be saved just by believing in the blood of the Cross alone? No, that is impossible! Whether it is salvation, being born again, or receiving the Holy Spirit, none of these is accomplished while praying. The Holy Spirit is given to the redeemed as a gift. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit also makes us God’s own children.
My fellow believers, you must draw the line of salvation clearly. The Bible says, “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism” (1 Peter 3:21). Do you believe in this? Jesus’ baptism is the antitype of salvation, for He accepted all our sins by being baptized. And because Jesus was condemned in our place by dying on the Cross, you and I no longer have to be condemned, but we have been saved by believing in this baptism of Jesus and His blood on the Cross. It’s because we believe in this that we are sinless, even though we are still insufficient and commit sin while living on this earth.
I believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. How about you then? Do you also believe in this genuine gospel? All of us believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and I thank God for this tremendous blessing. It is by faith that you and I have been saved from all sins. God has set that only those who believe in His Word would live in Heaven. He has determined that the Kingdom of Heaven would be entered only by those who believe in His Word. Having placed a flaming sword in Heaven, God will judge anyone who tries to enter it without believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Unless you believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that Jesus has fulfilled, it is impossible for you to have no sin. If you believe that you can somehow become a sinless person without believing in the baptism of Jesus, then your faith is completely mistaken. Only the saints who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit can enter Heaven. The remission of sins is received only by those who believe in the Word of the baptism of Jesus and His blood on the Cross. Is there anyone here who still does not believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? If you are such a person, I ask you to believe in this Truth. I beseech you to believe, for there isn’t much time left. Are you so meritorious on your own that you have no need to believe in this gospel? No, of course not! Then the only sensible thing to do is to believe in the gospel.
The Lord has saved us from sin, and He also saved Cain from sin. However, Cain did not accept this salvation, left God, and dwelt in the land of Nod. The land of Nod was an accursed land. It means ‘wandering’ literally, implying separation from God. Those who leave God turn into fugitives because of their sins, and if anyone comes to see them, they flee and hide themselves, thinking that the visitors are here to kill them. Like this, those who have left God in disbelief are destined to be vagabonds in their hearts and wander around endlessly.
In contrast, those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are bold like a lion. Even though their acts are insufficient before God, they have no shame, for they have no sin. Their hearts love God and have faith in Him. And they have the desire to follow the Lord. They yearn to do the Lord’s work and serve Him. Indeed, in our hearts we all love the Lord most profoundly.
However, there still are so many Christians in this world who are leading their lives of faith legalistically. Are you aware of this? But at the same time, the gospel of the water and the Spirit is being preached all across the entire world, and many of these misguided Christians will no doubt return to the true faith. Meanwhile, as the lost sheep is found, you should keep the faith that you now have and continue to believe in the Word exactly as it is. You will then have no reason to feel insecure no matter when the Lord returns. I give all thanks to the Lord for His grace, for saving us from all our sins through the water and the Spirit, and for making us God’s own people.