“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 well know, Genesis chapter 3 tells us that Satan the Devil ensnared Adam and Eve and deceived them into eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and as a result of that, all of us human beings got to arrive at death. Having eaten that fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, their eyes were opened and realizing that they were naked, they wore coverings sewn together with fig leaves. When Adam and Eve wore coverings made of fig leaves and hid themselves among the trees in the Garden out of shame, Jehovah God made tunics of skin and clothed them (Genesis 3:21).
In today’s passage, there appear two types of clothing that ask spiritual interpretation. The first clothing is the covering sewn together with fig leaves. Having eaten the fruit God had told them not to eat, the notion of shame fell on Adam and Eve, and they made the garments of fig leaves and hid themselves among the trees. Adam and Eve weren’t someone who had to make and wear clothing from the beginning. By the will of God, the woman was created with the man’s rib, and also by the will of God, the man was created into a living being when God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. And thus, it was said that Adam and Eve had realized they were naked after having eaten the fruit forbidden by God.
“For Whatever Is not from Faith Is Sin” (Romans 14:23)
Sin is not having faith in the written Word of God. Especially, not believing in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit is a great sin. God had granted Adam and Eve all the fruits that were in the Garden of Eden, but He said not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because they would surely die if they were to eat it. However, Adam and Eve did not believe in the Word of God and ate the fruit, deceived by Satan the Devil. They ate the fruit because they did not truly believe in the Word of God, and in the end, because they did not believe in the Word of God, sin entered the world, and death through sin (Romans 5:12). Sin entered them because they had their own criterion for good and evil.
People become sinners by not believing in the Word of God, and because Adam and Eve did not believe in God’s Word also, they ate the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil and thus became sinners. After they became sinners, their carnal eyes opened wide first, enabling them to see things of the flesh. Does this mean that their eyes of the flesh were closed before that? No, that was not the case. Instead, what that means is that they came to possess their own standards of the flesh, rather than the standards of God. It means that standards of highly humanistic thoughts abounded in them. As a result, shame came upon them for they did not believe in the Word of God.
Is it normal for humans to be wearing clothes? Even though God did not teach them that, after having sinned, they became ashamed. They started wearing coverings sewn with fig leaves because of that event. Covering made of fig leaves was the very first clothing fashion worn by humankind. Adam and Eve wore coverings made with fig leaves. But, they shriveled up soon afterwards. This means that people cannot be cleansed of their sins with their virtuous deeds, that is, the acts of keeping the Law of God.
So God looked for Adam and Eve, saying, “Adam, where are you, Adam?” Adam answered, “I was ashamed because I was naked; and I hid myself.” God had already known what had happened in all. “Adam and Eve, you ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that I had told you not to eat. You did not believe in My Word. So, who told you that you were naked?” “No one told me that. The only thing is that the woman whom You gave to be with me ate the fruit of that tree and then gave it to me. So, I ate it also. Just then, I came to realize that I was naked like this and felt ashamed.” God asked the woman. “What is this you have done?” The woman answered, “The serpent told me to eat it, so I ate.” God said to the serpent, “You have made Adam and Eve whom I love like this, do this. 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). From looking at this, I think serpents didn’t move about with its belly touching the ground from the beginning. We can see that God has placed His curse upon those who had committed sins.
God then spoke the Word of salvation to all humankind. The Scripture passage in Genesis 3:15 is the very first covenant of salvation spoken to humankind by God. God said 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” (Gen 3:15). God had put enmity between humankind and the serpent.
When Adam and Eve became sinners by having fallen into Satan the Devil’s deception due to disbelief in the Word of God, God had said to the serpent that the Seed of the woman would bruise its head. God said, “Jesus will come down to this earth in human flesh, and He shall bruise the head of Satan the Devil.” This is the promise that Jesus would come as a Sacrificial Lamb and by the gospel of the water and the Spirit, blot out all the sins instilled in people by the serpent.
And, God said that its offspring would bruise His heel. This means that Satan the Devil would carry out the work of killing Jesus Christ while He was on this earth. But, Jesus would blot out all the sins of people by the baptism He would be receiving on His body through John the Baptist and the blood shed on the Cross. This is the first Word of the gospel.
In the Book of Genesis chapter 3, two kinds of clothes are mentioned: Coverings sewn with fig leaves and the tunics of skin that God had personally made by killing an animal and taking off its hide. Here, we can see how God has saved us from sins, and also, we can find out about God’s promise on how He would be saving us from sins.
First of all, God says to us that we should not be wearing coverings made out of fig leaves. What this means is that people cannot receive salvation by struggling to abide by the Law of God. When a person wears garments made of fig leaves, don’t those garments get twisted under sunlight? They do get twisted and worn out. People try to cover up their bust and hips with those coverings, but as they become bone-dry, they will just crumble into pieces. Once they crumble apart, the hips become completely exposed. After Adam and Eve had committed the sin, they came to understand shame. As for the woman, she would have said, “Oh my goodness, my privates are showing.” Unable to look any longer, Adam made a new covering of fig leaves hastily and dressed her with it, and he also did the same for himself. But those coverings dry up and get ripped in less than two days. It means that sins haven’t been remitted.
This endeavor implies that sinners are trying to cover their sins with their Lawful deeds. However, that is impossible before God, as it is written, “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 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 3:19-20). It is also written, “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” (Galatians 3:10). Therefore, those who try to become clean by offering of prayers of repentance daily under the Law and abiding by the Law are those who are under God’s curse which they had brought unto themselves on their own.
Can a person become one without sin by keeping the Law? Can any human being keep the Law? Did God give us humans the Law so that we may abide by it? Instead, the Bible states the following. In the Book of James, it is said that for whoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet stumble in just one statute of the Law, he is guilty of all. The Bible says that the Law was given to people so that people may recognize their sins. In other words, God didn’t give us the Law so that we may abide by it.
When God gave the Law to Moses, He gave the sacrificial system of the Tabernacle right afterwards. God had shown the people of Israel the Law, but the people, not knowing anything, said that they would abide by it. However, God knew that they could not keep the Law and would be committing sins, so He showed them the true path to receive the remission of sins through the sacrificial system of the Tabernacle. And so, whenever the people of Israel committed a sin, they came to the Tabernacle with their sacrificial animals. Then, in accordance with the sacrificial system of the Tabernacle, they had to lay their hands on the head of a sheep or a goat and pass on their sins. And then, the priests of the Tabernacle took its blood and put it on the four horns of the altar of burnt offering. And, they had to cut all the flesh into pieces, throwing away things like head, legs, and intestines outside and burning them. Then, the priests took the chopped meat and its fat and put them on the hearth of the altar of burnt offering and burnt them with fire. This was an offering of faith, the faith of professing. “Even though I am to die like this animal before God, He has prepared a sacrificial offering in order to make me live.”
God also established the Day of Atonement for His people. It was the cleansing of a year’s worth of sins of the Israelites, and the High Priest offered it. On that day, the tenth day of the seventh month, the High Priest, the representative of all Israel, had to pass a year’s worth of sins of his people by the laying on of his hands on the head of the scapegoat, and let the scapegoat die in the wilderness so that the Israelites would receive the remission of sins. This was an offering that foreshadowed the sacrifice of Jesus Christ who would come as the Lamb of God.
King David had slept with the wife of Uriah, while Uriah was in the theater of war for his king. And so, as the woman’s belly started bulging, he sent Uriah to one of the fiercest battlefields and made him die there. Then, God pointed out David’s sin through His servant. This servant of God pointed out the king’s sin in a wise way, saying, “Long ago in the nation of Israel, there was a poor man who only had a single lamb. And that lamb was everything to him. But, there was also another man, and this man was rich. When a traveler came to the rich man, he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the traveler. My dear king, there is someone like that among your people.”
David became very angry at the story. King David became very angry saying, “What a shameless bastard. He is a rich man, so he should have taken one of his lambs. I cannot believe there is someone like that among my people. I must hang that person up high at once.” At that moment, the prophet said, “You are the man. You have many concubines and so on, but you took the only wife of your soldier, and in order to cover that up, you went so far as to kill him.”
After having committed that sin, David acknowledged his sin before God saying, “I am such a man.” Then, God said to him, “Your sin has already been put away.” If we look at the Book of Psalms, it is written that David had repented until he had completely drenched his bed. He had committed adultery. However, he didn’t just take the woman before God. As he took the woman, he killed her husband by lying to him. It didn’t just end there, but rather, he was so infatuated with the woman that he went on to worship another god before God. And so, he had offended the first Commandment. He had offended the sixth Commandment that instructs not to murder. The Bible says, “Do not bear false witness against your neighbor,” but he offended this commandment too. The fact of the matter is that he had offended all Ten Commandments. And so David said, “For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.
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” (Psalm 51:3-6). He confessed, “Because I am such a seed, I continue to do such things.” He gave himself up before God in all honesty. God saved David. David knew that one couldn’t become righteous by the Law. He couldn’t just say, “Please forgive me for these sins,” but rather, he acknowledged that he was such a sinful seed. God loved David, and He knew his inward parts. David had received the remission of sins by having faith.
And so, in the Book of Genesis chapter 3, two types of clothing are mentioned. But Adam and Eve, wearing coverings made of the Law, hid themselves out of shame. One cannot become perfect by the Law. A person cannot become sinless by abiding by the Law.
The same truth is once again mentioned in Genesis chapter 4. Adam had shared bed with Eve, and she came to conceive a child. Then, she gave birth to Cain and Abel. “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” (Genesis 4:3-5).
Cain and Abel brought before God their respective offerings: Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground; yet, Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. There were two types of offering. Just like there were two types of clothing, the coverings made with fig leaves and the tunics of skin God had made for them, here appeared two types of offerings: One is an offering from the fruit of the ground, and the other is an offering to God made with the firstborn of the flock and their fat. Then, God didn’t respect Cain and his offering but did respect Abel and his offering with joy.
What is the fruit of the ground? Literally, it comprises all the fruit that are harvested from the ground. It would include apple, potatoes, corns, wheat, rice, and all such similar things. But, Abel brought the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. What difference do you think is there? A short time ago, there were the two kinds of coverings. But here, there also were two kinds of offerings; the fruit of the ground and the firstborn of the flock and their fat. What difference is there? If I were to draw a matching line starting from the fruit of the ground, it would connect with the coverings made with fig leaves. And, the matching line drawn from the tunics of skin would connect with the sacrificial offering made with the firstborn of the flock and their fat.
What do these two things mean? The fruit of the ground did not have anything to do with blood. It was just an offering brought with human sweat, effort, and sincerity. The other one, Abel’s offering, was the firstborn of his flock. It was an offering that had blood. In the Book of Hebrews chapter 9, verse 22, it is said that without shedding of blood there is no remission. Therefore, the difference between the two sacrifices is that one had blood while the other had nothing to do with blood. There are two kinds of faith: The legalistic faith that believes one can move God with his own earnestness and prayers of repentance while abiding by the Law, and the pure faith that believes the fact that the Lord has saved all human beings by coming down to this earth, receiving the baptism, and shedding the blood. Then, which one does God accept? God accepts the latter faith. It is because God is the God of justice.
Then, Who Is the Firstborn of the Flock?
He is Jesus Christ. What did Jesus Christ do when He came down to this earth? Let us read starting from the Gospel of Matthew chapter 3, verse 13. “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’” (Matthew 3:13-17).
Jesus was born into this world by Mary’s body in order to save His people from their sins. Then, at the age of thirty, He received the baptism from John the Baptist. John the Baptist was the greatest among those born of women (Matthew 11:11). He was the representative of all humankind. In the Book of Malachi, God said that He would send Elijah. And this John the Baptist was precisely the God-sent servant of God, as spoken in the Old Testament about sending of Elijah. Even though he wasn’t actually Elijah, he had the same spirit as Elijah, and he was the servant of God carrying out the duties of a mediator on the side of God with the heart of a priest.
Sent six months before Jesus Christ, John the Baptist was approached by Jesus while he was baptizing people, and he was told to baptize Jesus. John the Baptist asked, “How can I baptize You?” Jesus replied, “Rather, permit it to be so now. You are to pass sins onto Me by baptizing Me. Just as all the sins of the Israelites of the Old Testament were passed onto the scapegoat when the High Priest performed the laying on of his hands on it on the tenth day of seventh month and passed on the sins, it is fitting for you to pass onto Me all the sins of all humankind. So perform the baptism.”
Jesus ordered John the Baptist authoritatively, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” The phrase, ‘for thus,’ stated here means that Jesus will be taking on all the sins of humankind by receiving the baptism from John the Baptist. It means that Jesus couldn’t take on all sins if not by the way of Jesus receiving the baptism. And so, ‘for thus’ means ‘most appropriate,’ ‘by a way like this,’ and ‘not possible unless by this way.’
Jesus came to this earth to blot out the sins of His people. Because the sacrificial system of the Old Testament states that sins are passed on to the sacrificial offering by the laying on of hands, Jesus had to take on sins by the baptism He received in the form of the laying on of hands. And so, Jesus had to receive the baptism from John the Baptist. Because there is no other way of taking on the sins of humankind unless by the way of receiving the baptism, Jesus obeyed the way set forth by God. Thus, it was permitted to be so now. Jesus Christ received the baptism.
When Jesus received the baptism, God the Father said, “He is My beloved Son. He is My Son who has completely taken on all the sins of humankind by receiving the baptism. He has completely taken on the sins of humankind by upholding My will. By doing so, He fulfills all righteousness.” The word ‘all righteousness’ in Greek is ‘πάσαν δικαιοσύνην’ (pasan dik-ah-yos-oo’-nayn) which means the fairest state in which there is no defect at all. It means that Jesus Christ, by coming down to this earth in order to save us, has blotted out all sins justly. He did eradicate every sin justly and with fairness, instead of just clasping His hands behind His back and saying, “As I have blotted out your sins, willingly crouch before Me. And then, believe.” Jesus received the baptism by thrusting His head toward John the Baptist and took on the sins of all humankind through John’s hands that were laid on His head. And by doing so, in a manner that is very quite fair and just, Jesus has claimed victory by fighting justly like the three musketeers of France.
Jesus was born onto this earth and until the age of twenty-nine, Jesus led a personal life. And at the age of thirty, He appeared publicly and by receiving the baptism, He took on all the sins of this world. Then, by dying vicariously on the Cross and resurrecting from the dead, He saved all of us. Hebrews 10:10 declares, “By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” God the Father gave us His Son and had Him offer the eternal sacrifice with His body. For what was the sacrifice offered by the Son? It was for the cleansing of sin of all human beings. God had clothed Adam and Eve with the tunics of skin in order to save them because they had committed sin due to disbelief in the Word of God.
Who was the Firstborn of the flock offered as a sacrifice by Abel? He was none other than Jesus Christ. In order to take on all our sins, Jesus Christ received the transference of sins by receiving the baptism. Then, He went forth carrying the sins of the world, shed His blood for us until He died on the Cross, and was resurrected. The fact is that He is the Son of God and the Creator of humankind, that is, the true God.
In the Old Testament, it is said that Abel had offered the firstborn of his flock and of their fat as sacrifice. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ came down to this earth and took on all the sins of the world through the baptism He received from John the Baptist. And He died on our behalf at the Cross in place of our death. And now, He sits at the right hand of the throne of God the Father by having resurrected from the dead and ascended to the Kingdom of Heaven. Was Jesus Christ merely a human being? No, He wasn’t. He is One of the Triune God ─ God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God the Son as the Spirit came down to this earth as the Savior, took on all our sins by receiving the baptism, and saved us by dying vicariously on the Cross and being resurrected on the third day after His death. He who has saved us is none other than the Son of God the Father. He is the Son of God the Father, Almighty. He is God who has created you and me. This God, our Lord, has saved you and me from all the sins and destruction when we who were destined to receive the judgment of God and the eternal punishment for our sins that had entered us because of Satan the Devil.
And thus, the offering that God accepts isn’t the faith of those who try to receive salvation before God by abiding by the Law well and by offering prayers of repentance, but rather, the faith that God accepts is that of those who, despite having no merit to offer, believe that Jesus Christ is the One who has saved all humankind by bearing all the sins of the world through His baptism, going to the Cross shouldering all those sins, shedding the blood on their behalf, receiving the judgment vicariously on their behalf, being resurrected from the dead to bring them back to life, and ascending up to Heaven. He will come again to bring us to Heaven in His time. He who has done all that work is the Son of the God the Father who has saved out of His love for us. And, Jesus Christ had created us, and then had us delivered from all sins, from Satan the Devil and all the enemies, from death which we had no choice but to face because of all the sins, and from His judgment. It means that He has saved us. And so, it is written, “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 like so, and thus, when we believe in that salvation in our heart, God sees that faith and approves our salvation.
God was not pleased with the coverings made of fig leaves. It is said that there isn’t anyone who can receive salvation through the Law, no, not one.
It is written, “‘There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
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;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit’
‘The poison of asps is under their lips’” (Romans 3:10-13).
People go on eating diligently in order to head toward death. They go on eating, asking themselves, “Am I eating to live? Am I living to eat? What is the reason for my existence? Am I living for a great cause? Am I living to do good?” Could there be perhaps a righteous person? No, there were none. The Bible says, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” God says, “Well, that’s what I mean. Then, is there anyone who is abiding by the Law?” There are none, not even one. There are only those who ask God to show mercy on them. There have been only those trying hard to receive His salvation, nevertheless.
Now, 2,000 years have passed. 2,000 years ago, God sent Jesus Christ. Do you believe this? By sending Jesus Christ, God the Father has saved us. “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Having received the baptism, Jesus carried away the sin of the world prior to getting crucified. Regardless of whether a sin is of original sin or of a personal sin, every sin is included in the sins of the world. Do we commit sins somewhere besides this world? Our Lord took away sins that we had committed by leading a fretful life from the moment of our birth until the age of ten. He also took all our sins we had committed from the age of eleven until we are twenty years old, thirty years old, forty years old, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, and 100. Our Lord has saved those of us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit from sins by having taken on all our sins from birth to death by having received the baptism. We cannot be saved from sins through our works of the Law. We cannot even abide by the God-given Law. Those who are busy to keep the Law are people who challenge the righteousness of God. And, they are people setting themselves into receiving the curse. Such people are those making commotions wishing to receive the curse that is just rendered by God.
Every day, they go on saying, “Oh Lord! Please forgive me.” Is forgiveness possible through the fruit of the ground? Does God accept you just because you are offering prayers of repentance, shedding tears because of sins, showing diligence, fasting, twisting, turning, and fretting? The sacrifice that God accepts with joy is the firstborn of the flock and of their fat. Put differently, this faith is the faith of believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. What sort of faith must our faith be before God? Our faith has to be the same faith as that of Abel. In other words, it must be the faith of believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We must believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit recorded in the Word of God.
There is a proverb that goes, “Sincerity moves heaven,” and people tend to emphasize their own endeavor. But, only the Devil is moved by it. People are also moved. However, God has established the Law and says, “I will surely kill those who go against My Law. But, because you are all so pitiful, I am sending you Jesus Christ, your Savior, before I kill you. Are you going to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Or, are you not going to believe in it? If you believe in it you will receive salvation from sins.” If we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, God bestows us the gift of becoming His children. If we don’t believe, then He cuts us off. God is merciful, but He is also just. But, God wants to render mercy along with His justice to those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
How Did Cain Live out His Faith before God?
It is said that he became very angry at what God had said and his countenance fell. With steam coming out from his nose, he pleaded his case. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Jehovah said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be able to hold up your face? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it. If you do have proper faith with proper offerings, why can’t you hold up your face?”
By clothing his father and mother with tunics of skin, God had them live. Then, it is true that Adam and Eve had told their children about how to receive God’s mercy of salvation. The fact that Cain’s brother Abel had offered the firstborn of his flock and of their fat means their parents had spoken to them about such faith. “Should you commit sins due to your lacking, offer such and such sacrifice before God. Long ago, we had committed a sin by doing what God had told us not to do, but God had clothed us with tunics of skin by killing a sacrificial animal in order to save us from sins. God is just. When we commit sins, we must surely suffer death. But, because He loves us, He had us offer sacrifice of this earth in order to save us.” And so, Abel offered a lawful sacrifice to God.
However, Cain held fast to his own thinking until the end. “That is absurd. If I were to make an offering to God with sincerity, God will be impressed, and He will then save me by changing the way of salvation with which He has saved us.” He piled up a huge pile of pineapples, apples, and yams that he had cultivated like a mountain, and asked God to accept. Near by, Abel placed a tiny lamb on a tiny rock, and offered before God by slitting its belly, taking out its fat, and peeling off its skin.
When Abel was born, he only made a small cry, and it was questioned whether or not he would live. “I think we should place his name in the family census after a year.” Abel, which literally means “breath,” was named as such because his parents had felt emptiness, somewhat like a mist. Because Abel didn’t have strengths of his own, he didn’t have any abilities, and thus, hearing what his parents had said, he had offered sacrifice before God by faith. Then, the mark of God having accepted that sacrifice appeared. Cain thought for a while and became angry, saying, “If God knows everything, He should know how much more I had labored compared to my younger brother, yet how can God be like that?” He clenched his fist, and his brother trembled in fear. God said to Cain, “Cain, if you did well, how is it that you cannot hold up your face and speak to Me? Isn’t it the case that you are showing anger with your head bent down because you have something shady inside your heart? If you do not do well, sin lies at the door of your heart. Isn’t wicked poison rising up from your heart? You can almost murder your brother.” Cain did not confess. God rebuked him saying, “Desire to commit murder is rising up from your heart, and thus, do you think you can do as you think? You should believe in God and believe in the Word of God like your brother. Yet, do you think you can do as you wish?”
It seems that Cain must have threatened his brother. “From now on, when you are making an offering, if I bring yams, then you bring yams, too. If I bring apples, then you also bring apples. Do it like that. Do you hear me?” But after that, when they two were alone, Cain rose up against Abel and killed him. He had perpetrated an accident. God said, “As I have said that sin lies at the door of your heart, you are a brood of evildoers. You are a crazy man who commits sins such as murders, adulteries, thefts, evil thoughts, pride, and foolishness. Yet, you claim you are righteous?” Cain did not concede.
When they two were alone, Cain said something to Abel, but Abel did not listen. So Cain said, “Because of you, I was scolded by God and did not get to receive love from Him. Also, our parents hate me. You, wicked jerk. Everything will be fine if you do not exist anymore.” He killed Abel with a single blow with a stone in his hand. However, did it end with just that? No, it didn’t.
God appeared again before Cain and asked, “Where is Abel your brother?” Cain said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” God 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 4:10-12). Cain replied bluntly, “Was I born on this earth for the keeping of my brother? Why don’t You search for him?” God said, “Your brother’s blood is giving account to Me directly, saying, ‘My brother has beat me to death.’”
Cain had underestimated God too much. He had thought that God wouldn’t find out. Simply put, he did not believe in God. Cain was an ignorant fool. He did not believe in the fact that there is God who is invisible to the naked eye and in the fact that there are so many worlds that are invisible to the naked eye. God pointed out Cain’s sins. “Blood cries out to Me from the ground. You struck your brother to death and then buried him, didn’t you? And so, he is now underground, isn’t he? And inside your heart, you have the sin of murder for having struck down your brother to death, don’t you? You have the sin of not believing in Me, don’t you? You have the sin of distrust, don’t you? You have the sin of adultery, don’t you? You have the sin of theft, don’t you?” God pointed out the sins of Cain. He also points out everyone’s sins. If a person does not believe, he or she will then become a vagabond. “You shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth. You will not be able to live in one place enjoying happiness, and you will lead a life that is forever cursed, getting chased to and from.”
Cain confessed to 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” (Genesis 4:13-14). And the LORD said to him, “Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him” (Genesis 4:15).
God speaks to all people; He says that we are a brood of evildoers from birth. But, people do not believe in the Word of God. They do not believe that they were born as a brood of evildoers, and also, they do not believe that they go on committing sins before people. They think that they are committing just a little amount of sins and that if they were to strive from now on, they will no longer be committing sins.
Of course, there are a few people whose sins are exposed before God and other people. Not knowing the Word of God, they continue to commit sins. As they get old, they get caught by the laws of this world for having committed too many sins and go to jail. When their numerous sins become exposed, they then realize for the first time that they are such brood of evildoers and acknowledge that before God. They get tormented because of sins and think that they are suffering destruction because of sins. And so, because of their sins having been exposed, there are some people who try to receive salvation before God by believing in Jesus Christ. But all of them do not get to reach their true salvation: A few people get to believe the Truth that the Son of God has saved them out of His love for them by coming to this earth, receiving the baptism, taking on all the sins of the world, and dying on the Cross through the offering of sacrifice before God. They are people who offer their sacrifice of faith with the firstborn of the flock and of their fat. But then again, there also are people who do not do so. There are those who do not believe until the very end.
Proverbs 28:1 says, “The wicked flee when no one pursues, But the righteous are bold as a lion.” The righteous who do not have sin are bold, but sinners are always on the run. They continue to go on living with their hearts overwhelmed with uneasiness, saying, “What shall I do with my sins?” If people do not receive the remission of sins, they are not able to run away from the sense of guilt because the invisible God records the sins on the tablets of their hearts whenever they commit sins. Therefore, if people believe that Jesus Christ has saved us by the water and the blood and offered the sacrifice of faith by the firstborn of the flock and of their fat, they will receive salvation, but if people do not, people will always be in hiding and on the run because of their sins will stay intact in their hearts. They will be fearful. To those people, that is, to all sinners, God has given salvation. He wanted everyone to receive salvation (1 Timothy 2:4).
“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 wanted everyone in this world, with no one left out, to come before God and live by having received salvation from all sins through having faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by Jesus Christ. God judges people not because they have sins but because they do not believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by Jesus Christ. Even though there are so many people who believe in Jesus Christ, there are a small number of people among Christians who believe in the baptism and the blood of the Cross, but most Christians do not believe so. Those who do not believe so depart from God eventually.
God judges those who judge and kill people claiming that they have committed sins. There is no one else but God who can judge sins. When Jesus Christ received the baptism, everyone’s sins were passed onto His body. He has completely taken them on once and for all without any single person’s sin left out. We don’t know when this earth will come to an end, but He has even taken on all the sins up until that last day. He has blotted out the sins of all the people created in the image of God, starting from Adam to the last baby who will be born at the very moment of the last trumpet. All the people of this world do not go to hell because of sins they have committed and their lacking. Rather, they get to receive the judgment for not having faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by Jesus Christ.
It is said, “And the LORD said to him, ‘Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.’ And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him. Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden” (Genesis 4:15-16).
In the end, Cain departed from God. Nevertheless, God gave a mark of salvation to Cain “lest anyone finding him should kill him” (Genesis 4:15). He gave the mark of salvation to a grave sinner such as Cain. God has given you and me as well as all the people of humankind the mark of salvation. The mark of salvation is the baptism by which Jesus has taken on all the sins of humankind. The Son of God has cleansed us humankind from all sins by receiving the baptism from John the Baptist at the age of thirty. So the Apostle Peter declared, “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” (1 Peter 3:21). Dear fellow believers, do you believe in this?
But, people these days do not believe in this. Rather, they take fig leaves and make coverings out of them every three days or every week. And, some people go on making coverings every morning. They continue to make coverings to wear. And so, they go on offering rag-like coverings before God. “Dear Lord, You have cleansed my sins with Your blood only. So I have made another covering with my prayers of repentance this morning. Dear Lord, my coverings are fine, aren’t they?” Even now, however, there are so many Cain-like people who do not believe.
God has given us the mark of salvation as it is written; “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” (1 Peter 3:21). Those who have the conviction of faith in the Truth that the Lord has saved us by the water and the blood can profess their faith boldly before God, saying, “God, You have saved me like this. I believe like so. I now go boldly before You, having become a person with a virtuous and upright conscience.”
He has given us the clear mark of salvation. Jesus Christ was nailed to the Cross and He has shed blood because of the judgment for sins. He has died vicariously on our behalf and that He has given up His life in order to give us new life. He had received the baptism so as to blot out all our sins by completely taking on your sins and mine and cleansing all the sins of humankind.
There Are People Who Have Genuine Faith
There are Christian sinners who live out their faith by offering prayers of repentance. On the contrary, there are the righteous who have received salvation by having faith in the Word of God and by believing in Jesus Christ who has saved us from death, the curse and the judgment by coming to this earth, taking on all the sins of the world by receiving the baptism, and dying vicariously on the Cross as their Savior.
In order to reach sanctification, those Christian sinners offer prayers of repentance through the coverings made of fig leaves or the offerings of the fruit of the ground. They are devout in offering early morning prayers, and offer before God millions of dollars that they had borrowed by standing surety for one another toward chapel construction. And so, they go on to build a chapel worth some tens of millions of dollars. These days, a four million dollar chapel is no big deal even in a small city like our own. 100 or 200 thousand dollars would only let you have a leased chapel. When there are about 100 church members, ten thousand dollars per person will give their pastor one million dollars. If they were to stand surety for one another and then have each one of them offer ten thousand dollars to God, they will get to build a million dollar chapel in no time. The swindling pastors would say, “Do you think each one of us can’t offer ten thousand dollars to God? God told us to bring God joy by building a temple. Dear fellow believers, let us stand surety for one another. A person has a fifty thousand dollar loan outstanding for his worldly business, yet do you think he can’t stand surety for 100 thousand dollars for God? Surely, would he cheat out? All you would have to do is to set up a savings account and pay back in installments little by little. This is how you pile up your treasure in God’s Kingdom. Dear fellow believers, do you believe? Those who will borrow ten thousand dollars gather over here, and those who will borrow 100 thousand dollars gather over there.”
Then, they are made to make promises of donation. Those swindlers compel their congregation to make pledge: “You are told that if you do not pay back the loan, you will be cursed by God.” Thus, they exploit money from their pitiful preys. There are many swindling pastors who think nothing of a million dollars. With just this number of people gathered here, collecting half a million dollars is easy. You are made to stand surety for one another without discretion. With 100 people donating 50 thousand dollars each, how much does that add up to? Can you donate 50 thousand dollars? I am sure you will do it if it is for the spreading of the true gospel.
I do not enjoy building a chapel on this earth. It’s almost time for the Lord to come, yet why would one want to build a chapel? Ten million dollars can make the entire world become filled with the gospel, yet how can those who do not even know what a good deal is go on spreading the gospel? Dear fellow believers, I am not saying we should do that. If God finds joy in half a million dollars spent, wouldn’t we do that? All Christian sinners do that. Those who had started ministry later than me in this city have built decent four-story church buildings on a land that is thousands of square feet. How do you think they did that? Of course, there were those who had donated a lot of money, but most of them stood surety for each other to take out a loan from their respective banks. Where would the money suddenly come from? And so, they become penniless. That is precisely what the faith of wearing coverings made of fig leaves is, and that is precisely what a vain faith is, living out one’s faith diligently by offering before God the fruit of the ground.
The faith in which God finds joy is us having faith in the following fact: Because God loves us, in order to save us by the gospel of the water and the Spirit, He came to this earth in the flesh of a man and received the baptism for us to take away the sins of the world. He carried all our sins and died vicariously on the Cross. He has thus saved us by the power of God in order to bring us back to life. And now, He sits at the right hand of the Throne of God the Father. Dear fellow believers, do you believe in this?
On the contrary, the faith that God despises is the religious faith with which people offer prayers of repentance and live virtuously to reach sanctification on their own. God says that it is abominable and that it is like whitewashed tombs. That is not the true faith. How did the Lord save us? Jesus came to this earth and received the baptism from John the Baptist. Why did He receive the baptism? He received the baptism so that He may make us sinless by completely taking on all the sins you and I have committed and will commit throughout our entire lifespan. To save you and me from all our sins, Jesus came to this earth 2,000 years ago, and for us who were born into this world and are destined for hell after death, He took on all the sins of yours and mine by receiving the baptism from John the Baptist at the age of thirty. And thus, God gives salvation to those who believe in the fact that the Lord has taken on all our sins and the fact that He has made us sinless. We have received salvation by having faith in His righteous act. And so, only those who have the faith in His gospel get to receive the salvation and that those who do not have faith will never be able to enter Heaven.
Let us all read together starting from verse 22 to 24 of the Book of Genesis chapter 3: “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.”
When God was passing judgment on Adam and Eve who had eaten the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, He said that the man has become like One of the Triune God, to know good and evil. It means that they came to know good and evil, just like the Triune of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This isn’t a complement. It means that they came to possess their own good and evil. In other words, it means that they became ones who judge and challenge God according to their own way of thinking.
God gave Adam and Eve the tree of life in the middle of the Garden of Eden, right? All they had to do was to eat that instead of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As it was said that they would surely die if they were to take of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and eat it, if they had faith in the Word of God, all they had to do was to kick it away and not eat it, saying, “Alas, we will die. I do believe. Amen, Hallelujah.” Even though they were repeatedly told not to eat it and not to get deceived, they ate it for they did not believe in the Word. Therefore, lest they should gain an everlasting life in such an evil state, God drove them away from the Garden of Eden. Of course, God made tunics of skin and put them on Adam and Eve. This means that by believing in Jesus Christ, Adam and Eve also received the remission of sins. And God had the man till the ground from which he was taken so that they might keep their salvation knowing their basic nature.
“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 3:24). Do you know what a flaming sword is? Although a sword, it is a sword surrounded by flames, and this sword guards every entrance to the Garden of Eden. That is precisely the Law. The fiery sword roams about lest those who will try to enter Heaven by keeping the Law, that is, those who will try to enter Heaven by eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil and becoming the sinless through sanctification and offering of prayers of repentance should enter. If such people were to try to enter, it would slash them in half. There is no one who can avoid the flaming sword. Is there someone who can avoid the judgment of the Law of God? There is no one. God gave the Law even to those who do not believe in Jesus. And that is precisely what conscience is (Romans 2:15). He says to us, “You have sinned, didn’t you? Conscience will be a law to you.”
Genesis 3:24 tells us that there is no one who can enter Heaven by keeping the Law of God, that is, by deeds. God has made it so that a person can become a child of God, enter Heaven, and gain everlasting life only by having received the remission of sins through having faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We must have faith in the Word of God. When I speak about the baptism of Jesus, people tend to say that they have received salvation at the Cross, saying, “What are you talking about?” But, let us take a look at the First Epistle of Peter chapter 3, verse 21. “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Do you think the Apostle Peter wrote that out of boredom? That does not make sense.
People can enter and see the Kingdom of Heaven only by being born again by the water and the Spirit. The water is the antitype which now saves us and that is the baptism of Jesus. The Apostle Paul also declared, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). Anyone who wants to lead a new life has to believe in the baptism of Jesus, together with the Cross. There are so many passages in both the Old and New Testament that lay emphasis on the baptism of Jesus as one of the pivotal truth of our salvation. Sins get washed away clean by having faith in the Word that says that Jesus has taken on all the sins by receiving the baptism.
By what does the filth of this world get cleansed? It gets cleansed by water. If burnt by fire, it leaves black residue. If it rains heavily, messy streets with all kinds of wastes get cleansed by water. Rain comes down, flows in a large river, and moves out to the sea along with all wastes. All filthy things inside the sewage drain get cleansed completely. And, just as they flow into the sea, they get disinfected, and the salt water destroys the germs. By water, the world becomes clean.
As for your soul and mine, they get cleansed because Jesus has received the baptism and our faith in that Word. The word ‘baptism’ means to cleanse. Baptism has the meaning, to cleanse, to bury, and to pass onto. Sins in our hearts get washed away perfectly clean because each and every sin was passed onto Jesus through His baptism. The sins of all people were passed onto Jesus through John the Baptist by his laying on of hands as the representative of humankind. Sins weren’t washed away clean suddenly at the Cross. Rather, sins got washed away clean because sins were passed onto Jesus at the Jordan River through John the Baptist. They were passed onto Jesus to be judged. They got washed away clean because they were all passed onto Jesus. Sins of the world include the sins committed by our hearts, the sins committed by our actions, and the sins committed by our will. Jesus died vicariously on the Cross because all the sins of the world were passed onto Him.
Jesus is the Son of God, and He is the Omnipotent God. Jesus is the Savior who has saved us from sin. He lacks in nothing. Nevertheless, the reason why the Lord had to come to this earth and die vicariously on the Cross was because He had taken on your sins and mine by His baptism and all our sins were passed onto the body of Jesus. Those who believe in this gospel Truth spoken by Jesus Christ who has come by the gospel of the water and the Spirit have received salvation from all sins.
I hope the Lord will be with you who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Halleluiah!