“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.”
In today’s Scripture passage, there appear two brothers who gave offerings to God. One was Cain, the first son born to Adam, and the other was Abel’s second son. Cain took the fruit of the ground and offered it to Jehovah, while his brother Abel offered the firstborn of his flock and their fat.
To cut to the chase, God did not respect Cain’s offering, but rather accepted Abel’s offering. As a result of this Cain became infused with anger. It is therefore quite clear to us which of the two offerings were acceptable to God. It is written here that Abel offered the firstborn of his flock and their fat. We need to pause here and consider exactly what is meant by “the firstborn of his flock and of their fat.” We know through scripture that when the people of Israel gave offerings to God, they removed the fat from the sacrificial animal and offered it to God.
This implies as revealed in the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, that Jesus came to this earth and offered Himself as a living offering to God the Father. The lamb and its fat that Abel offered to God signifies the Truth that Jesus Christ completed our salvation by being baptized by John the Baptist and shedding His blood at the beginning of the New Testament. In other words, Jesus the Savior came to this earth by being born through the body of Mary, accepted all the sins of mankind at the age of 30 when He was baptized by John the Baptist, was crucified to death, and has through this blotted out all our sins. Jesus Christ was the Son of God, the One who was without sin, took upon mankind’s sins through His baptism, and was later crucified to death. But He after three days He rose from the dead and thus saved sinners from all their sins. In other words, by sending Jesus as the spotless Lamb, God the Father has saved all of us once and for all from the sins of this world, likewise Abel approached God by placing his faith in this Truth.
Because Jesus was the Son of God, and because He had accepted mankind’s sins through His baptism, He had the obligation to pay off the wages of these sins with His own precious blood. That is the reason why He was rejected by His own people, was sentenced to death in Pilate court, received forty stripes minus one from Roman soldiers, and shed all His blood on the Cross. It’s because He had been baptized by John the Baptist that He had to suffer the excruciating pain of being crucified to death. Shedding all His blood on the Cross, and just before He passed away, He cried out with a loud voice, “It is finished!” (John 19:30), and after three days in the grave He rose from the dead.
When Jesus came to this earth, He was born in a small countryside town called Bethlehem. He grew up in Nazareth, a region of Galilee. Only when Jesus turned 30, did He officially begin His public ministry, going about His righteous work of salvation to deliver mankind from all their sins. In other words, by being baptized by John the Baptist, He took upon the sins of the world once for all, and shedding His blood on the Cross, He has saved sinners from their sin. I am repeating this truth again, Jesus actually came to this world, did in fact take upon the sins of this world by being baptized by John the Baptist, died on the Cross, rose from the dead after being three days in the grave, ascended to Heaven after 40 days after His resurrection, and He will most certainly come back just as He had ascended. This is the detailed substance of the faith that Abel held when he offered the firstborn of the flock and their fat up to God.
In chapter three of the Gospel of John, Jesus clearly spoke about of the gospel of the water and the Spirit to Nicodemus. As Jesus said, “Only when one is born again of water and the Spirit will he be able to see and enter the Kingdom of God,” this is indeed true, because Jesus does not lie. The water in John chapter three refers to the baptism that Jesus received from John the Baptist, and the Spirit means that Jesus Christ is God Himself.
Like this, Jesus was the very firstborn of the flock and the Son of God. What did Jesus accomplish when He came to this earth? He took all the sins of the world upon Himself once for all by receiving baptism and dying on the Cross for our sins—this is precisely the work of our salvation that Jesus had fulfilled for us. In other words when Jesus spoke of “being born of water and the Spirit” in John 3:5; the Spirit mentioned here refers to the sacrificial fat offering in today’s Scripture passage. That is why the Bible says that when Jesus was conceived by Mary, He was “conceived by the Spirit.” Jesus Christ was actually God Himself, and yet He the divine Spirit came to this earth in our likeness, being incarnated in the flesh through the body of the Virgin Mary. This Jesus Christ is our God and Savior. Jesus Christ came to this earth and completed the righteous work for us. In other words, He took upon all our sins by being baptized, shed His blood and died in our place, and then He rose from the dead. All this was to complete the work on the earth
This work that Jesus did whilst He was on this earth is the ministry that is symbolized by the offering of Abel, that is, the firstborn of the flock and their fat. Therefore we must believe with our hearts in the baptism Jesus received from John the Baptist, in the blood He shed on the Cross and in His death and His resurrection. All these things were accomplished by the Holy Spirit. This is how God saved us from the sins of the world. We must now believe that Jesus Christ, who is God Himself, was incarnated in the flesh through the body of the Virgin Mary, took upon all our sins by being baptized, shed His blood on the Cross, and has through this saved us from all our sins. In other words, we must believe that He is God Himself and our Savior. It is by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that we are saved and made into God’s own children.
The Implication of “Their Fat”
Jesus came to this earth to save us from sin. God Himself came to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man, and lived here for 33 years. After taking the sins of mankind upon Himself, Jesus was sentenced to death by Pilate’s court and eventually was put to death on the Cross at Calvary. We all need to pause and ponder on the suffering that He had to endure for us there. We need to think just how absolutely cruel Jesus’ death was and how terrible His suffering was. The punishment of the crucifixion that Jesus had to bear was really reserved for the most heinous criminals of all, executing them with the greatest of pain and suffering. The cruelest and most brutal execution was none other than this punishment of crucifixion. It was therefore for you and me that Jesus died in the most terrifying and painful death and rose from the dead again.
In the age of the Roman Empire, the most terrifying sentence rendered on capital criminals was the punishment of crucifixion. Once a criminal was sentenced to death, he was treated as a death row criminal. And because they were sentenced to death, Jesus first had to take off His clothes and change into capital punishment criminal’s clothing. And during the carrying out of this sentence, He was even stripped of these clothes rendering Him naked. Just before Jesus was crucified, the Roman soldiers tied His hands to a post and flogged Him with a leather whip embedded with sharp metal spikes. Criminals like this were allowed to receive forty stripes minus one. Every time the whip landed on Jesus’ body, His flesh was torn away in shreds. His body was in a bloody mess. So even before Jesus was nailed to that cruel Cross, He was already half-dead.
After beating our precious Lord Jesus with these 39 lashes, the executioner compelled Him to carry a heavy wooden cross on His torn up bleeding back onto which He would soon be crucified, as He struggled dragging this cross to the site of His execution.
Jesus carried the Cross where He was to be crucified, and He was also dragged when He stumbled and fell to the place of His execution flogged by the soldiers all along the way.
Once Jesus arrived at Golgotha, the soldiers laid Him down on the Cross and nailed His hands and feet to the Cross. When they were driving the long nails through His hands and feet, Jesus’ screams could be heard throughout Golgotha. When they had completed digging the holes for the crosses, the Roman soldiers raised the Crosses so that it could fall into the holes. These condemned men experienced excruciating pain as there body weight pulled down on there nailed hands and feet, with blood pouring out of there wounds. Like this, blood poured out of Jesus’ heart to the very last drop. Just before He took His last breath, the Lord shouted out, “It is finished!” and then He died. This is how Jesus was crucified.
We should know that this death of Jesus was no ordinary death. It was something that was achieved by the divine Spirit, by the holy God. This death of Jesus was none other than our very own death. His bloodshed was to pay off the wages of our sins. In order to save us the Son of God came to this earth and took upon the sins of the world by being baptized by John and died on the Cross.
Now it is by believing with all our hearts in the gospel of the water and the Spirit as proclaimed by the Bible, that we are saved from all the sins of the world. The water means that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. The ministry of “their fat” is the work of Jesus’ salvation that has delivered us from all our sins, which was achieved by the birth of Jesus, His baptism, His death on the Cross and His resurrection. It was none other than God Himself who did all these things. The Son of God, after being baptized, endured such terrible suffering on the Cross, all to save us from sin. Thanks to His righteous ministry, we have been truly saved by wholeheartedly believing in this Jesus who has delivered us from sin.
God saved you and me from the sins of the world, and everyone who now believes in this gospel of Truth can be born again and have new life in Him. To us who have been born again by believing in this Jesus who has truly saved us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit; true salvation has now eventually arrived. Jesus Christ, who is God, came to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man, was baptized by John the Baptist, died on the Cross in our place, and rose from the dead to bring us humans back to life. He has done all these things to become our personal Savior. All these things that the Son of God fulfilled when He came to this earth, comprises none other than the gospel of the water and the Spirit. All this took place because Jesus who was God had come to this earth and took upon our sins through His baptism and was crucified to pay off the wages of our sins. Because He was flogged like that also constitutes part of His ministry of atonement, where He bore the condemnation of sin for you and me.
Biblically speaking, Jesus Christ is really God, and to God His Father, He is the only begotten Son. Today’s Scripture passage tells us that Abel offered the firstborn of his flock and their fat to God. This offering denotes Abel’s faith, which implies that he believed in all these things that Jesus would do—that is, He would come to this earth incarnated in the flesh, take upon the sins of mankind through His baptism, be flogged and die on the Cross in our place and rise from the dead. Jesus, who is God, offered His own body to God the Father as our propitiation in order to save us from sin. That is why Jesus accepted our sins by being baptized, and later being crucified. He through these righteous acts has saved us from the condemnation of sin. Therefore it is important for us to believe in this gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit, and we must come before God our Father with only this faith. It is only then that God will accept our faith and accept us as His very own people.
Jesus is really God. Secular textbooks teach that Jesus is one of the four great sages of this world, but this is absolutely nonsense. Worldly schools teach their learners about the four great sages of this world. These are Socrates, Confucius, Buddha and Jesus. Apart from Jesus, we also respect these three outstanding earthly men of noble character.
We will now do some comparisons with these three earthly men and Jesus Christ.
Siddhartha Gautama came from a small kingdom of the Shakya clan, which was located close to the capital of Kapilavatsu in the hill country of the Himalayan Mountains, bordering what is today’s southern Nepal and India. He was born from King Suddhodana and his wife Maya. He was therefore a prince. There are several different views on his date of birth, but it is widely accepted that he was born around the mid-sixth century B.C.
Born into the royal family, Siddhartha got married at the age of 16 and spent a relatively comfortable and happy lifetime in the palace, far removed from the poor. A time came when he discovered the abject poverty and suffering of a large number of his people where he discovered to his horror their suffering, death, disease, age and pain, which he never was exposed to living in the palace. This situation left a mark on him and he decided to leave home at age 29 seeking emancipation from this terrible suffering. Following the practice of the monks at that time, he devoted himself to asceticism, but after six years of practicing it, he discarded this life, sat under a pipal tree, went into deep meditation and finally attained so-called Enlightenment. This Enlightenment is known as “the correct awakening.” One of Buddha sayings, “Take yourself as the light and refuge. Practice the path, taking the law as the light and refuge.” When he was facing his imminent death, he is recorded to have said to his disciples, “The words of your founder have now ended. But do not think that your founder is no longer with you. The laws and statutes that I have taught you will become your teacher after my death.” This earthly man that forsook the status of a prince in order to solve the problems of life for mankind is the very origins of Buddhism, one of today’s largest religions of this world.
The second man, Socrates was born in Athens around 469-399 B.C. People call him the father of philosophy. The word “philosophy” is a word derived from two Greek words “philos” (to love) and “sophia” (wisdom & knowledge). Actually this word originated from Socrates describing himself as a lover of knowledge, unlike the sophists of the ancient Greeks who claimed themselves to be wise. Socrates propounded on the need to cherish one’s “soul (psyche).” He asked himself, “What is most important to me?” and he made it his daily chore to have philosophical conversations with anyone and everyone.
As a result of this he was charged with the crime of blasphemy and corrupting the youth, was tried and was sentenced to death according to their law. Whilst he was imprisoned, his disciples made every effort to save him, but Socrates refused this aid or escaping and drank the poison, practicing what he taught about strict obedience to law, arguing that even an unjust law is law and must thus be obeyed. It is from this situation that the proverb came into being that is, “Even an unjust law is still law.” Socrates encouraged everyone to come to the realization of their own ignorance of the meaning of their very existence, and to ask questions about this as the most important thing above everything else. Of course, this did not imply that Socrates knew this reason. On the contrary, Socrates’ love for knowledge (philosophy) was about realizing one’s own ignorance (the knowledge of ignorance) on the reason of our being, and to reach this “dead end” by questioning it continuously. He thus left us with his famous saying, “Know yourself,” pointing out that one’s awareness of one’s own ignorance is the most important philosophical understanding.
The third person, Confucius (552-479 B.C.) was born from the royal lineage of the Shang dynasty towards the end of Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC-403 BC) in Chinese history. He taught many disciples to practice virtue, as he devoted himself to cultivate virtue. His character reached such a virtuous state that in his old age, he was able to say, “Now that I am 70 years old, I have no shame to do whatever my heart desires.” He was thus very influential even in his lifetime. As a mandarin, a philosopher and a teacher he showed himself to be a sage amongst his people, as someone to be emulated for practicing what he taught, spoke of the importance of building one’s character by practicing virtue and morals, and placed a great emphasis on scholarly disposition. This was the man who built the foundation of the ethics and morals in the East, and his ideas are still greatly revered throughout the world. By teaching that one must be loyal to his country, faithful to his friends and to honor his parents—in other words, by establishing the codes of conduct that everyone should follow as a decent human being—Confucius left a tremendous impact on the Eastern societies and its cultures.
Now then let us turn our attention to Jesus the Savior of mankind. Jesus was born on this earth through the Holy Spirit. And when He turned 30, He accepted all the sins of mankind all at once by being baptized. He then gave up His body on the Cross and was crucified, all to save the entire human race. Jesus took all the sins of mankind upon His own body, was crucified, shed His blood and died in excruciating pain. He died and then rose from the grave after three days.
There are unquestionable differences that distinguish Jesus from the three earthly sages mentioned above. Firstly Jesus’ birth is distinct. For the three sages, Socrates, Buddha and Confucius we can clearly see from which country they came from and from which parents they were born to. In other words, they were born as sons of mere human beings. In contrast, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born through the body of a virgin. And His birth was prophesied long before He was actually born on this earth. Over 4,000 years prior to His birth, God had promised that the Savior would come, as is clearly written:
“And I will put enmity
Between you [the Serpent] and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15).
While all the other sages have a grave or tomb, Jesus has none, for He was resurrected in three days after His death. Even when people make pilgrimages to Israel where Jesus had once lived, they cannot find His very tomb. When we as human beings view these three sages together with Jesus, and look at them from a spiritual point of view, it is unquestionable and without any doubt that Jesus made the greatest impact on mankind.
We should therefore not believe in this Jesus blindly. I am not saying this just to exalt Jesus whom we believe in. Unlike Socrates, who took his wisdom and ideas as his own life; and Confucius, who taught ethics and morals to people; and Buddha, who tried to solve the problems of suffering, disease, age and death for mankind, and yet died without succeeding, Jesus is really God who has not only solved mankind’s problem of sin, but also its problem of the condemnation and curses of sin. Therefore, Jesus should never be compared to these three sages or anybody else for that matter. Even if we were to set aside the fact that Jesus is in fact God, and look at them from a human prospective, these sages do not even come close to being comparable to Jesus.
Buddhism teaches that each person should reach Nirvana on his own through and by his own efforts. It teaches that one must practice asceticism to be freed from 108 sufferings. It demands that its followers carry a bushel of wheat on their heads for 4 km and burry each grain in the ground until the bushel of wheat is all buried. Why does Buddhism demand such a practice? Buddhists believe that they can be purified while they are practicing asceticism. The claim is that through such strict asceticism, one will become a living Buddha, that is, become a living god. In other words, Buddhism teaches that there is no god distinct from human beings, but anyone can become a god if he lives virtuously like this. But honestly does this make any sense at all? The teachings of Buddhism are utterly nonsensical. It sets out unattainable goals, and by demanding that its followers strive to reach such impossible goals, it sows more confusion than clarity. Buddhism, in short is powerless to help people to find salvation for their souls.
As for Confucianism, there is no other religion like this that emphasizes ethics and morals. Mencius, inheriting Confucius’ teachings, argued that all human beings innately have four basic virtues of generosity, righteousness, ethics and knowledge. Therefore anyone can become a man of virtue if he develops these natures and manifests them. However, virtuous character should come out of the heart. Emphasizing only the outward manifestation of ethical conduct and setting social norms have only resulted into turning people into absolute hypocrites. Put differently, Confucianism has set its path in such a way that it causes the illusion where, when seen by the eyes of mankind, anyone who acts by its codes and practices looks as if they are virtuous people.
The fundamental base of human existence is found in the heart. Only when the heart changes do the acts that emanate from the heart also change. Human beings therefore should realize their sinfulness with their hearts. And they must realize the truth that their corrupted hearts are far more serious than the misconduct of their acts.
It is worthwhile to consider who in fact among the influential philosophers of our time actually brought more benefits to mankind. When we consider this aspect between Buddha and Confucius, the former who tried to awaken people to the way of Enlightenment, was more beneficial. At least, Buddhism tried to defeat the evil inside. However, neither Buddha nor Confucius was able to provide the fundamental solution to the sinful.
Although Siddhartha emphasized mankind’s inner world and tried to realize the fundamental cause of its suffering, he ultimately failed to solve this problem and was swept away by his own death. How can someone who died without even solving his own fundamental problem of suffering ever bring any benefit to mankind, by drowning in the sins of the world? Jesus, however has completely solved mankind’s problems of suffering, disease, age, death and sin; He also gave us everlasting life to enter Heaven.
Who was this Jesus? He was none other than God Himself, holy and just, who loved us humans. Everything that Jesus did when He came to this earth was what God did for us. There is no one who is excluded from this incredible love of Jesus, His salvation and His blessings. Jesus has saved anyone and everyone. With the gospel of the water and the Spirit, Jesus has solved away life’s problems of suffering, disease, age, and death; of sin, of condemnation; and of everlasting life. This is God’s love and His salvation.
When we bring our offerings to God, when we come before His presence trusting in Him; what kind of faith should we come before Him with? It is with the faith that confesses: “God has saved me like this with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Everything that Jesus did on this earth was done by God Himself. Jesus is the true God who has saved me with His baptism and His death on the Cross.” Only when we come before God with this faith does God approve us. Because Jesus completed our salvation, He said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). When we place our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and stand before God’s presence, we will be approved by Him and receive all His blessings.
In the context of today’s Scripture passage, it was because Abel offered the firstborn of his flock and their fat that God accepted them. This offering is none other than Jesus Christ the Son of God, in whom we all believe in today. God Himself was baptized and put to death for us, because He loved us so much. In other words, our Lord is this very firstborn of the flock, and in order to save us, He was baptized and died in our place. God Himself came to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man, was baptized in our place, died on the Cross, and rose from the dead again, doing all this to save us. This is meaning of this passage of Scripture, where Abel offered “the firstborn of his flock and of their fat.”
The Book of Leviticus describes in detail the sacrificial system of atonement of sins, where it is clearly specified that a sinner was compelled to sacrifice a lamb, a goat or a bull as an unblemished offering, and had to make sure to pass his sins onto the sacrificial animal by laying his hands on its head, slit its throat to draw its blood, and offer this blood to God without fail. After this, the fat was cut out from the kidneys and the liver and was offered on the altar of burnt offering, with the flesh of the sacrificial animal. That the sacrificial animal died in this way foreshadowed the fact that Jesus would come to this earth, be baptized and die on the Cross. In the sacrifice of atonement written in the Book of Leviticus, the offering always without fail had to be given with its fat.
My fellow believers, if we were to kill a sacrificial animal and offer it to God in whatever way we desire, it would certainly be all in vain. Offerings like this are completely useless, even if we were to offer hundreds or thousands of them up to God. In other words, God accepts our offering as a sweet smelling fragrance only if we believe in the salvation that He bestowed upon us. That is why the Lord said, “‘And when you offer blind animals as a sacrifice, Is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick animals, is it not evil? Try offering it to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?’ Says the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 1:8). The Lord said that even if the blood of sacrifices were flowing like a river, He would detest any such sacrifice that is offered without believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Unless we take our faith in the righteousness of God to Him, no other offering will ever be approved by God.
The only begotten Son of God came to this earth to save us from sin, and through the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit, He has indeed saved us once for all. Jesus’ name means the “Savior” (Matthew 1:21). To save human beings from sin, condemnation, and destruction, God Himself shouldered all our sins on His own body and laid down His life to pay off the wages of all those sins. By believing with faith that Jesus was baptized and took all our sin on His body and faced His death, to save us perfectly from sin and condemnation, we will be saved.
The gospel of the water and the Spirit is all about God’s work of salvation that delivered us from sin. All the recorded writings’ in the Bible that tells us how Jesus Christ came to this earth and has saved us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, is the work of the Holy Spirit. Faith in what Jesus had done for us when He came to this earth is the very faith that believes in “their fat” (the Holy Spirit), and one that is placed in God’s love of salvation.
How were the sins of the world washed from us and how were we born again? How and by what kind of faith can we enter the Kingdom of God? And how can see God? How can we obtain new life? How can we solve mankind’s problems of suffering, disease, age and death, that is, the problems of sin and death?
It is because God has saved us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit that we are able to solve the problems of sin and death by faith. The Son of God came to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man, delivered us from death by dying in our place, was baptized to make us sinless, and rose from the dead again to give us new life. By believing that all these things were done by the Son of God, and by accepting the love of God and His salvation and eternal life, we can escape from all our sins and avoid its condemnation.
To believe in Jesus as the Savior is to believe in the righteousness of God. To believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit is to believe that God has thus saved us completely. Faith in this is the faith that enables us to be born again of water and the Spirit. My fellow believers, you all believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, right? The baptism that Jesus Christ received was the baptism through which He accepted all our sins once and for all. And by shedding His blood and dying on the Cross, He fulfilled all righteousness. That is why Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
The baptism Jesus Christ received from John the Baptist and the death He suffered were the righteousness of God that Christ fulfilled in order to make us sinless and give us new life. In other words, the birth of Jesus, His baptism and His death on the Cross were God’s righteousness which fulfilled for our salvation. It is when we believe that God has done all these things in order to save us that we are saved, become God’s children, and the problems of suffering, disease, age and death completely solved for us. Who has solved away the problem of our sins? Who has solved this problem for you and me? We who were all born in sin, and who will all get old and frail, fall, get ill, die and would be cast into hell. It is the Son of God who came and solved away all our problems.
When people become very old, it is common that some may suffer with Alzheimer’s disease. Early this morning, I met an old lady who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease at the front of my church. I had some work to do at the church so I left rather early. As I was about to climb up the stairs, I saw an old lady sitting on the stairs in front of the washroom just staring at me. So I asked her, “Excuse me, but why are you sitting here?” She replied, “Isn’t this a hospital?” I replied, “Did you come here thinking that it was a hospital? I’m really sorry, but this is not a hospital. It’s a church of God.” Then the old lady tried to pick herself up and leave, but she couldn’t move her body to climb down the stairs. So I held her arm and helped her down the stairs step by step, but it took us over five minutes. Who can solve the problems of all diseases, aging and death that this old lady was facing? Only the Son of God can solve them, for He has opened the way of everlasting life for us.
Jesus is such a God. Everything that Jesus did was what God Himself did for us. Isn’t this so true, my dear fellow believers? We should never consider Jesus only as one of the four great sages. I really believe that Jesus is God Himself and the Son of God. In chapter one of John it is clearly written, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” and “all things were made through Him.” He is God Himself. In order to completely save us, He came as a man like us. Because He is the loving God who created the universe and all things in it by His Word that He could come to this earth as a man like us to save us.
In other words, Jesus who is God Himself came down to this earth from His Heaven for a short time in order to save mankind from their sin. God the Father had His only begotten Son to be born in the image of man. When God came to this earth, did He arrive with a lot of noise saying, “I’m here! You wretched humans! Do you not know me? I won’t forgive you! I will show you that I am God”? Did He come in a way that struck fear in people’s hearts, killing them with lightening and ruling over them with fear and trepidation, so that they would tremble and bow before Him crying out, “God has arrived. The dreadful God has come as a man like us.” Of course not! Had God come in a way like this, people might have submitted to Him, but they certainly would not have loved Him.
Because God loved mankind so much, He decided to borrow the body of a virgin to be born incarnated in the same flesh as human beings, so that He could save them all from sin. To solve away all the problems of suffering, disease, age and death for mankind, the Almighty God borrowed the womb of the Virgin Mary for a while, and there just like an ordinary man, He spent nine months in the womb, was born like us, and grew up under His parents of the flesh and was nursed by His mother. Jesus experienced all the problems of suffering, disease, age and death that every human being on this earth goes through.
That is why the Bible says, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus went through all our sadness and suffering, and with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, He solved away all these problems of suffering, disease, age, and death and sin. After completing His Kingly duty by being baptized by John the Baptist, crucified and resurrected from the dead, Jesus returned to God the Father and reported back to Him saying, “Father, I have returned after doing everything You commanded me to do on the earth. I have completed my mission. I had my disciples to record everything down in the Bible.”
Now that the Bible is mentioned here, I should point out that this Bible has been preserved by the amazing providence of God, until it came to rest freely in our hands. The Bible is the Word of God written by about 40 writers spanning over approximately 1,500 years. For about 1,400 years before Jesus was born, the Mosaic Pentateuch like the Book of Genesis and the Book of Exodus was written, and through His servants, God ensured the preservation of the Word, so that it might not be corrupted even over such a long time. Amongst the Jews there was a certain scholarly school called the ‘Masorites.’ The scholars of this school devoted themselves recording the Word of God onto the best sheepskin and then preserving it.
The alphabets of the Hebrew language have many dots. Depending on where these dots are placed, words can have different pronunciations and have completely different meanings. While copying the Bible, if someone dozed off and misplaced even a single dot, then it would have completely altered the original meaning of the biblical passage. So those who did this work purified themselves, kept themselves wide awake, and never ventured near any woman. They did this because God had inspired them. When they used the bathroom, they made sure to wash their hands thoroughly, including cleaning the pens before resuming transcribing the Holy Scriptures. There also were proofreaders who carefully examined every copy. Any copy that had even the slightest error was discarded. Only completely perfect copies, free of any mistake whatsoever, were put inside a clay fired jar, it was then sealed, and they were usually stored in a cool dry cave. Due to the fact that this region of Palestine is a very arid and dry place, the sheepskin scrolls had the innate ability to remove moisture with good ventilation; therefore the copied Scriptures could be stored intact for a long time.
This work however had continued by those with a calling, and through such people, God preserved the Bible intact. In the mid-1940’s, an enormous discovery was made. During 1947 while looking for a lost sheep, some Bedouin shepherds discovered leather scrolls held inside jars in a cave at Qumran, located near the Dead Sea in eastern Israel. The shepherds did not think much about the scrolls, and they sold it off to an antique dealer for a cheap price. Even this antique dealer did not know what the scrolls were, and so they eventually were handed over to a bishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church. After this, all these scrolls crossed all the way over to the United States, but at the end of relentless efforts made by Israeli scholars of the Old Testament, they were returned back to Israel after paying a hefty price in a secret transaction. As the scrolls were studied intensively, it was eventually revealed that they were copies of the Old Testament written around 125 B.C., now known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
These Dead Sea Scrolls were written at a time when about 270 years had passed since the writing of the Book of Malachi. Until its discovery, the oldest copy of the Scriptures was the Masora manuscript, and since this script was written between 600 and 900 AD by Jewish scribes after no less than 1,000 years had passed since the original recording of the Book of Malachi, many considered it highly probable that the Bible had been altered extensively. However, with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the missing period was shortened by about 1,000 years, and the time gap between the writing of the Book of Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, and the available copy of the Scriptures was reduced to only 270 years.
After the first discovery was made, archeologist continued to find more scripts in 11 caves in Qumran near the Dead Sea, discovering not only copies of the Old Testament, but also partial copies of the New Testament. Scholars then compared the Dead Sea Scrolls with the Masora manuscript, which was written about 1,000 years later, and tried to determine how similar they were. Amazingly, it was revealed that the two copies were completely identical to every dot and stroke. The Masora manuscript, in other words, was revealed to be the same Scripture as the Dead Sea Scrolls, indicating that they were more than likely to be identical to the original manuscripts as well. The Bible that we now have is the same Bible that Moses and many other servants of God wrote.
The 66 books of the Old and New Testaments were canonized only after they were extensively studied and verified by many biblical scholars comparing and analyzing countless copies of the Scriptures over a long period of time. Through the Reformation, the Bible was then translated into vernacular languages, when the metal printing press was invented and publishing technology advanced, the Bible was printed out in a single collection of the Scriptures. That is a brief history of how the Word of God has been passed down completely intact even to you and me today.
Through this written Word, the Lord spoke about the gospel of the water and the Spirit, where He desired to save His believers from sin. For this Bible to make its way into our hands, many people of God had to endure terrible suffering. In other words, it took the sacrifice of countless people for this Bible to be preserved intact and handed to us. That is how the Word of God has been put in our hands, which we can now read simply by opening it.
Jesus Christ has saved you and me from the sins of the world through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The work of salvation that Jesus fulfilled when He came to this earth was all done by the Holy Spirit. It was all achieved by the Triune God. By believing in this Jesus as our Savior, we are saved.
It is written in Genesis 4:3-5, “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.”
It says here that God “respected Abel and his offering.” If we give the offering of faith to God with the same faith as Abel’s faith, then God will accept us also. My fellow believers, do you have the same faith of Abel’s? Does your heart have faith in God? Do you have faith in the Truth that God has saved you and me from all our sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit? I believe you do.
When we have faith like this in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, God accepts this faith and receives us as well. God embraces all those in His arms who have been born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit saying, “You are My children.” And He seals them as His own sons and daughters, putting rings in their fingers. In ancient Rome, a ring was given as a sign to indicate, “You are my child,” or, “You are my wife.” Perhaps it’s because of this that when a man and a woman get married today, they exchange rings with each other. The Lord has sealed our hearts with the Holy Spirit, as those who have been saved through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. So He has given the Holy Spirit into our hearts as a guarantee saying, “You are my children.”
Jesus, who is God Himself, came to this earth incarnated in the flesh over 2,000 years ago, and He has saved us from all our sins. And He recorded everything He did down in the Bible, so that generations following would also be able to be saved. Like this, through the written Word, our Lord is offering the same salvation to the hearts of all those who would believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Just as parents and children in the flesh love each other, call out to one another, and embrace each other, so do we call out to God, “Abba Father,” and our Father answers us, “Yes, My children.” By the love of God, we have now become His special people. It is with faith like this that we are now worshipping God.
God has saved us from all our sins. He has saved us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The only begotten Son of God, who decided before the foundation of the world, the divine Spirit and God Himself, to come to this earth in order to save us completely with His water and blood.