The New Life Mission

Sermons

Subject 21 : The Gospel According to MARK

[Chapter 1-2] (Mark 1:1-11) Those Who Lead A Different Life From Ordinary People

(Mark 1:1-11)
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets:
‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.’
‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the LORD; make His paths straight.’
John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, ‘There comes one after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’ It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’”
 
 
How are you today? Today is February the 28th and tomorrow is March 1st. I feel that the sensory temperature is above freezing point although it is actually 12deg C below outside right now, and maybe it is because March is just around the corner and spring has come. It might be due to the expectation that the warm weather of spring will clearly come.
What is the flower that blooms first when spring comes? It is the forsythia. We began the 1st semester of school in March when I used to go school a long time ago. After about 3 weeks had passed since the beginning of the school year, I could see azaleas colored pink on the hills when I was returning home from school. I could see these azaleas colored reddish pink which covered the entire mountain range. The times when I used to go to school comes to mind.
The weather becomes warm when spring comes. And birds sing, new buds sprout forth on the branches of the trees, forsythias blossom, and azaleas also blossom. Many wild flowers that we do not even know the names of, yellow flowers, red flowers, blossom. To my recollection, I think forsythias blossom first. There was a time when I was not healthy physically and suffered from a sickness, and that winter was really severe. I was sick in bed during that winter and I just so wished for spring to come. Even though it was still winter, forsythias sprout forth and blossomed in yellow colors at some sunny places in the southern region of Korea because it was warm there even in the winter. It blossomed like that in some places even though it was still winter. Yellow pumpkin flowers blossom in the summer and they are so wonderful. It is a beautiful sight when the pumpkin flowers are in full bloom. Some people tease and say that pumpkin flowers are not flowers, but pumpkin flowers are very pretty. We can reap many pumpkins when there are many pumpkin vines and pumpkin flowers are in full bloom.
We are talking about this great weather. However, we must continue doing the work of God because there is no end to it. More money has to be offered up to our missions so we could print books and do God’s work, but there are many print materials that we have put aside for now.
God’s Word that I am going to share with you today is from the Gospel of Mark chapter 1 verse 4. The ministry of John the Baptist appears from chapter 1 in the Gospel of Mark also. It records, “John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” John the Baptist tried hard to lead people to God. John the Baptist lived in the wilderness clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.
Until now, I have spoken to you about the ministry of John the Baptist. And so I would like to speak about his life instead of these things today. I want to speak about John the Baptist who led a life different from ordinary people.
 
 
The Life of John the Baptist
 
We can see that the life of John the Baptist was very different to that of ordinary people. The ministry and life of John the Baptist was to baptize Jesus Christ and to witness that He is the Savior of humanity. The life of John the Baptist seems rustic because he was a person who had to fulfill the responsibility of a High Priest that pointed out the sins of all the corrupted people at that time and make these sinners return back to God. John the Baptist lived a life that did not belong to this world in order to do this work. It was possible for John the Baptist to live such a life because he was intricately connected to God’s will. It was because the work of God entrusted to him was so important.
There was a time when I had wandered around despondently even after believing in the Word of the gospel of the water and the Spirit because I did not know how I should lead my life. I know that you also had such an experience like me. There was a time when I had wondered even though I had received the remission of sins in my heart by believing in the Word of the gospel of the water and the Spirit because I did not know how to do God’s work. You might have had such anxieties in your heart and did not know which way to go at one time like me because you did not know the will of God. It was probably because we had to change from the past way of life that without faith that we had lived in this world to the true life of faith. We must therefore change our way of life in order to lead a life of faith that believes in the righteousness of God after believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We must lead a life of faith following the righteousness of God because we can no longer live according to the old way of thinking. It is because a life without faith can no longer serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And it is because we cannot follow the Lord until the end of the world if not for the life of faith. You and I were able to receive salvation from sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit and we were able to live a different life from that of the people of this world.
We did not want to lead such a life of faith from the beginning. It was possible because we have received the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Therefore, we had to live a life of faith that is different from the people of the world as the righteous who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. It is because we can preach the salvation our Lord has given us, that is, this gospel of the water and the Spirit, to the other people and make them also receive salvation. Because we live a different life from the people of this world as the people who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we must now follow the Lord with even more devotion by faith of believing in the righteousness of God. We must do this even if we do not enjoy the prosperous life that average people pursue. Everyone living in this world wants to live a life what he desires. People like to enjoy fleshly things and also want to live an ordinary life like this. However, while we believe and serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we come to know the reason why we must not live this way like the people of this world. Therefore, we cannot lead a life as the people of the world. We come to this conclusion because we want to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit by faith and live out our faith before the presence of God.
Therefore we become distressed even more, and open our hearts wide towards the world at times and then make it narrow again, then open it wide after narrowing it, and we do this repeatedly in our lives. Therefore, you and I must think more deeply about the life of John the Baptist by asking questions, “How did John the Baptist live in the wilderness and point out the sins of the people and witness that Jesus Christ is the Savior?” We must do the same kind of work in order to lead a life of serving the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We can see that we are also doing such a work John the Baptist did already. We cannot fulfill all the missions God has entrusted to us if we do not live according to God’s will like the way John the Baptist lived his consecrated life from the world in the wilderness. We have to instead become the people with the fate of living by faith.
We who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are living a life like a “little John the Baptist” according to the righteousness of the Lord. We cannot but lead a consecrated life from ordinary people in order to serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We absolutely must live a life of following the righteousness of God and the guidance of the Lord. The way to lead a consecrated life from the world is to live the life of believing and following the righteousness of God.
 
 
A Life of a “Nazirite” as Written about in the Old Testament
 
Even during the Old Testament era, there were people who lived the life of a “Nazirite” which means “a person consecrated to God.” Samson was like that. A “Nazirite” was a person who had been consecrated and offered up to God and who lived a life separate from the world. Samson should not have cut his hair and also should not have shaved his eyebrows off. The people who serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit in this world now after receiving the remission of sins can be different in their outward appearance, but we must live this life of faith spiritually. I think the people who want to live this spiritual life fundamentally are the modern versions of the Nazirites although there probably is some difference in how devoted one is to live a life close to God’s will.
Wouldn’t you and I also want to live like the people of the world while believing and following the Lord like this? You and I also have such hearts. However, would the gospel of the water and the Spirit be preached to the entire world if we did not live a life like the Nazirites? We cannot live a life like the common people of the world because the gospel of the water and the Spirit has not been fully preached throughout the entire world yet. The evangelization of the genuine gospel cannot be fulfilled if we live like the ordinary people of this world. We want to live like the people of the world and we can do so, but we do not live like that because we have to.
 
 
We Believe in the Righteousness of the Lord and Want to Follow the Lord
 
We try to not have other gods before the presence of the Lord, and also live out our faith by believing in the righteousness of God and by shaking off all the filthy residues of the world accumulated in our hearts. In order to do this, we must first understand what the life of faith in the righteousness of God is. We ministers should also know that we live a life of faith that is different from the people of the world like the way John the Baptist preached the Word of God while living in the wilderness. We must also throw away our fleshly desires in order to follow the righteousness of the Lord by faith. I want to tell you that it is an upright life for us to live for the righteousness of God. It is upright to live a consecrated life from this world like John the Baptist did. Otherwise we absolutely cannot follow the righteousness of the Lord by faith. How can we follow the Lord by doing all the things the people of the world do, being fascinated with movie stars that the people of the world like, and follow the stars like the groupies, saying, “Oh, my love, my love.” One can never follow the righteousness of the Lord if his heart drifts away like this.
All these thoughts and desires of the world rise up in our hearts who are working in God’s Church. But our hearts should really be with the righteousness of God, different from the world, like the way John the Baptist lived in the wilderness, like the way the Israelites met John the Baptist in the wilderness. We must have the heart of righteousness and not like the heart of fleshly people. We must be like this in order to serve the Lord’s gospel of the water and the Spirit. We must set our hearts to follow the righteousness of God and cleanse our hearts, confirm it by faith, and really lead our hearts to God. How can we follow the righteousness of the Lord if we do not have the heart to follow the Lord only? We cannot follow the righteousness of the Lord even if we want to if our hearts are like the hearts of the carnal people of this world.
There are many amongst our junior high and high school students here who like the things the teens of the world like and follow them. You probably follow such things to some degree although you are not completely swept away by the evils of this world. Even so, you must have a heart that is different from the teens of the world in order to serve the Lord’s gospel of the water and the Spirit and also live a consecrated life of faith like John the Baptist in order to keep this faith. We live by faith of believing in the righteousness of God like this although our flesh gets so weary. We can live righteously if we set our hearts to live by faith before the presence of God. We cannot live such a life if we do not have a firm grip on our hearts like this. We can follow and serve the righteousness of the Lord faithfully by faith of believing in it only if we live a consecrated life separate from this world.
We are not serving the Lord faithfully now if we cannot live like John the Baptist. It is the same for young adults as well as our teens. The young adults also have a desire to live like the ordinary young people of this world. That is the same for the adult men and women and ministers as well. However, can we follow the righteousness of the Lord if we live like that? The question is whether we can serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit if we live by following the currents of this world. We must live a consecrated life separate from the world because we cannot serve the gospel if not for such a life. We must all desire to lead the life of John the Baptist who preached the will of God in the wilderness.
Dear fellow believers, if we were to lead the same life of the people of this world, the Lord would call the other workers and witness this gospel of the water and the Spirit to the ends of the Earth. To illustrate this, I have to speak using a certain person as an example. But it might offend that person if I used him as an example. So to avoid this I will use myself as an example.
 
 
I Am Happy Because I Believe in the Righteousness of the Lord
 
I have actually received such great blessings after meeting the Lord who came by the water and the Spirit. I have fellowship with all the righteous people of this world. I can also do God’s work. I can live the life of faith that believes and follows after the righteousness of God together with you. I can have spiritual fellowship like this after meeting you and also do righteous works. Who can be happier than I am? I am a happy person in the Lord.
However, let’s think about it in a fleshly way. Carnal people ask me, “How many people attend your Church?” I hear such things when I meet people who do not believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. But why do they ask me such a question? They are actually asking me how much I receive as a monthly remuneration when they ask me such a question. And they ask me, “what kind of car do you drive?’
My fleshly pride sneaks up on me also when they ask me these things. I have ministered for over ten years planting churches after meeting the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And there are many people who have planted a church later than I have. But some of these pastors build huge palatial church buildings and drive around in a nice new car. And some say, indirectly, not directly to me, “I was preaching at a revival meeting and a certain deaconess bought a new 3,000cc Hyundai Granger for a pastor at her church.”
In a human sense, I also want to drive around in a more luxurious car than the car I currently have. I want to say to them, “I can drive around in a better car than the car you are driving.” I am sorry. I am just saying this by myself. I think and say to myself such things to those non-born again pastors in my mind. I talk to myself, “Filthy fools. You should refuse when a member of your church wants to buy you a Granger, a full sized car, and instead drive around in a small car. You are driving a Granger presumptuously? How could you take that even if someone gave it to you, when it costs over a few thousand US dollars a month to drive a Granger? Do you at least know the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Do you preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit even to your congregation? You just rip off money from the members of your church.” From a humanistic way of thinking, it is true that I also want to drive around in a better car when someone says that he drives a Granger and I also want to elevate my pride more than that person. It is like that in a human sense.
I am saying that they have nothing for me to envy if I had not lived the life of preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit. However, would that glorify God if I drove such a luxurious car? I would do it if such a life would be profitable to the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but why would I drive around in such an expensive car when it is not profitable to the evangelization of the gospel. But the gospel of the water and the Spirit which God gave me is worth much more than the pleasures of life they enjoy. It is because the value and worth the people who have a lot of money receive by driving such a car is not as great as the value of the salvation God has given me. The gospel of the water and the Spirit we are preaching has much greater value than the things they enjoy.
However, it does not mean that I do not have a fleshly heart like the people of the world at all. I do also have such a heart. But when I reconsider all this, such a life is not appropriate before the presence of God. Furthermore, how would the other ministers feel if I drove such a car? Would they not also want to do this? If this happened would this not distract us from serving the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Therefore it is not appropriate. I absolutely cannot follow the desires of the flesh, although I also have such a fleshly heart. I have such a heart but I cannot live like that. And it is because there is nothing to gain spiritually even if I pursue after the desires of the flesh.
 
 
We Must at Least Lead a Consecrated Life with Faith That Is Different from That of the Non-Born Again Christians
 
We should do so. Only then can we serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and also fulfill faithfully the works God has entrusted to us. We cannot serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit if we live like the people of this world. How could we serve this gospel if we lived like the way they live?
Dear fellow believers, what merit would there be to lead a consecrated life if we just lived for the flesh? The Lord commanded you and me to be witnesses of the gospel of the water and the Spirit to the ends of the world. We must believe and serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit in order to fulfill the role of the witness of the righteousness of God, but we cannot fulfill this mission with a heart that is the same as the people of this world. The Lord cannot even use such a person and that person would not even fulfill this work and do this work properly even if the Lord did use such a person. Therefore, we must fold away the worldly heart from our mindset.
We should suffer spiritual difficulties in believing and following the righteousness of the Lord. We must carry our own cross and also deny our fleshly thoughts. It is natural that we suffer various hardships. But what great compensation follows that? How great is the profit that follows the people who have lived such a righteous life before the presence of God, the people who have lived out their faith? Although we work hard for the righteousness of the Lord, it cannot compare with the blessings the Lord gives us. Consequently, when we thus calculate it in faith, many more blessings are given to those who lead a spiritual life. And apart from the consequence, we lead a consecrated life because the life of following the righteousness of God is upright. You and I lead such a life by faith like John the Baptist lived in the wilderness. The righteous shall live by faith only.
This is what I am saying here. Even if we live only for one day before the presence of God, we must remove the filthy residues that come up from our fleshly minds every day and live by the faith of believing in the righteousness of God. It is difficult to follow the righteousness of the Lord if we do not remove the filthy residues from our hearts. When the Lord entrusts a new work to such people, they suffer headaches and become distressed in their flesh. The Lord said, “There is one who scatters, yet increases more;
And there is one who withholds more than is right,
But it leads to poverty” (Proverbs 11:24). This Word of God is referring directly to the people who serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The Lord blesses us spiritually and physically when you and I live for the righteousness of the Lord. Therefore, we prosper spiritually and physically.
Consequently, the righteous live for the preaching of the gospel of the water and the Spirit, apart from the trivial round of daily life. The righteous live to fulfill the Great Commission by faith. Therefore, we must live the life of faith like John the Baptist. God said that we who are like this must set our hearts upright. God has granted you and me such hearts. I always have the heart of thanksgiving to God when I see the brothers and sisters, and the workers, who are working in God’s Church. I give thanks to God for the fact that God has made us remove the filthy residues from our hearts, remove the fleshly thoughts, and made us do God’s work by giving us such hearts of following by faith in order to really serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit, just like the way John the Baptist preached the Word of God in the wilderness. Otherwise we would not be able to fulfill the preaching of this precious gospel.
You and I must have the heart of righteousness and faith that is intend to live for the righteousness of God just like the way John the Baptist cried out and followed the will of the Lord while living in the wilderness. We are carrying out this work because the Lord has given us this faith and the heart of bearing the responsibility to fulfill this work. Otherwise, who could fulfill this work with their fleshly strength? No one in this world can fulfill this work without the God-given heart that chases after the righteousness of God.
We can live such a life because the Lord has given us the heart of following Him with these spiritual thoughts, rather than fleshly thoughts while living in this world. And the Lord constantly removes the filthy residues from our hearts with the Word of God and the Holy Spirit so that we can live like this. The Lord has made us set the goal of evangelizing the gospel to the entire world and made us run towards this purpose. Otherwise we will all die spiritually. Dear fellow believers, do you think we live like this because we do not know how to live an ordinary life that everyone wants to live? Everyone can live according to their wishes. But the Lord said,
“Those who are wise shall shine
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness
Like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).
The non-born again believers cannot lead such a life of faith that we can lead for the other people like this. In order to live such a life of faith, one must have faith of believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit before the presence of God and also must make up his mind to follow the righteousness of God. We must live with such a heart that says, “It is righteous for us to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Even if there are many difficulties in preaching the gospel and even if I lose everything, I will preach this gospel if it is helpful to fulfill God’s will.” Then the Holy Spirit in our hearts will be satisfied and will help us. He leads our hearts to the way of righteousness. We must keep in mind that we can live for the righteousness of God only if God helps us. God has made us lead such a life by helping us, saving us from the sins of the world, and also giving us such hearts to live for the righteousness of the Lord.
 
 
John the Baptist Lived a Consecrated Life Separate from the People of the World
 
John the Baptist was different from the time of his birth and lived his entire life like this. You who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit now are also different from the people of the world. Although we lived a life like the other people before believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but the life we are now leading after we received the remission of our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit is way far different from them. We have become like this, as it is written, “Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Of course, some fleshly things will continually come up even after we have become new. Nevertheless we must really cut these many fleshly branches off in order to serve this gospel of the water and the Spirit. There are so many of these things. But in spite of this, you and I are devoting ourselves to God’s work. You and I are doing God’s work because the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and the Church of God is holding onto us.
Think about the life of John the Baptist. His life is our life. It is not just John the Baptist who had led such a life. We are living like him too. You must realize that you are leading a life that is somewhat distant from this world although our flesh lives in this world. You and I and all the righteous that are living for the righteousness of the Lord must lead such a life by faith.
A famous movie star in Korea committed suicide just a short time ago, and people said, “I do not understand why she had to pass away like that.” But we the righteous know exactly the reason why she committed suicide. This woman committed suicide because of her sins and her sense of emptiness. How can we know this? We know this clearly because the Holy Spirit of God is in our hearts. This actress had attended church regularly. Thus, she also knew the Law of God. A person who knows the Law of God cannot live due to distress if they have sin in their hearts. Such a person does not have an appetite, cannot sleep well, and thus is prone to commit suicide. The people of this world who do not know the righteousness of God cannot be freed from the agony of sin because they are oppressed by their sins. Many people have killed themselves because of their sins. They would not have committed suicide if they had encountered the gospel of the water and the Spirit even once. Although film directors and reporters feel very sad, and regretfully say, “I do not understand why she committed suicide. She could have become a superstar if she just overcame the difficulties she was facing,” but we know that she actually had a reason to kill herself because of her many sins!
When the Lord carried the Cross to the hills of Golgotha, many people pitied Him and wept. But Jesus said to them, “Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:28). This means that everyone must cry for himself first. The Bible says, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). This means that it is proper that everyone must receive judgment and be cast into the fire of hell due to sins in their hearts. After being born into this world, a person dies once after living whatever kind of life and then is cast into a crematory and thrown into the eternal fire that is never quenched. This is the inevitable fate of every human being.
You and I also would have suffered such a fate, but thankfully we have met the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Thus, we have received the remission of our sins by faith. We have therefore become the children of God. And we have even received eternal life. And the Lord has commanded us who have become the children of God to preach this gospel of the water and the Spirit to everyone while living in this world. We have become the people who must do the work the Lord has commanded. We have become a spiritual person like John the Baptist in order to do God’s work. We have become God’s workers although we do not want to. Dear fellow believers, is there anyone among you here in God’s Church who do everything according to their fleshly wishes 100% of the time? Actually, we cannot do such things even if we want to because we are so very busy. Is this true, or not? It is true. Not having the work of God for us to do is precisely the shortest way to our destruction. It is good to have many works for serving the righteousness of God because we are prone to go out towards fleshly desires if we do not.
If we had many works for serving the righteousness of God, we would not even have time to be concerned with fleshly desires even if they came up from the bottom of our hearts because we would be busy fulfilling all our responsibilities. And we have no energy to satisfy such fleshly desires. Therefore, we cannot do this. At times I have piled up the works of the righteousness of God. I have planned and prepared so much work that I would not even have enough strength to do them all in my entire life before I died. And I have prepared enough work of the righteousness so that you also would absolutely not become idle. I have prepared it like this so that you and I would not have any spare moment in our hearts, so that we cannot but lead a life like that of John the Baptist.
Dear fellow believers, you and I have received the remission of our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. How then can we live the same as the peoples of this world when we say that we have received the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Should we or should we not lead such a consecrated life separate from the world like John the Baptist who ate locusts and wild honey in the wilderness? Yes, we should. We must be like this in order to lead others to receive the remission of sins. Otherwise, how can they ever receive the remission of their sins? We cannot preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to the people of the world if we do not live like John the Baptist right now. A Korean proverb says, “One cannot surpass others if he does as the others do.” Our life of faith is just like that. Such a life of faith that we have has not come about because we wanted it. God has made us to live like John the Baptist did.
Will we lead a life like that of John the Baptist, or will we live like the ordinary people? You and I must decide to lead such a life. We will become the same as the ordinary people of this world if we do not set our hearts uprightly before the presence of God and live like this. Each one of us who serves the Lord with a consecrated heart is a “little John the Baptist.” We are living like “little John the Baptists.” We must share delicious food with one another and also help one another with the things another person lacks because we are insufficient in the flesh, but our mind of faith must be like that of John the Baptist. God has given you and me such heart of faith. God has made us able to live such a life of faith.
Please live without forgetting that God has made you and me able to live such a life. We must think deeply about how we should lead an upright life, and then we should lead a life like John the Baptist. There are some saints who say they will lead such a life when the circumstances become better, but it has actually nothing to do with circumstances. One thing is clear and that is the more difficult the world becomes the more consecrated life we must live. I will lead such a life to the very end of my life. I am sure you also will be doing the same with me. Only then can we serve the gospel even more effectively. We cannot perish along with the world just because it is destroyed. Regardless of how other people live, we must set our hearts uprightly until the day the gospel is preached throughout the entire world and the will of the Lord is fulfilled completely. I want you to set your heart for the Lord if you have not set the course of your heart yet.
You must live by faith that believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. You must live for the righteousness of God. Your heart and thoughts must be sharp and alert like a double-edged sword. Your life becomes like a mere drop of dew that disappears shortly if you just live without any direction. Such a life is not good. You must lead a life that makes many people return to the righteous path. I give thanks to God for making us lead such a life. I want God to continue to make us lead a faithful life by faith of believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.