“Now it happened that He went through the grain fields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. And the Pharisees said to Him, ‘Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?’ But He said to them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?’ And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.’ And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Step forward.’ Then He said to them, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.”
This morning, drawing from the parable of new wine in old wineskins, I explained that we ought to all live according to the Word of God by faith. In the Scripture passage above, we see God is teaching the very same thing. Through this passage, the Lord is saying that we should cast aside our carnal thoughts, believe in the Word of God exactly as it is, and think and follow it accordingly.
God told the people of Israel to rest one day out of a week, and He called this day—the Sabbath. The Sabbath Day for the ancient Jewish people was different from the Lord’s Day that we have in mind. For them, the Sabbath lasted from the sunset on Friday to the sunset on Saturday. The Jews kept this Sabbath Day very strictly, so they always took it as a great cause for criticism whenever Jesus carried out His work of salvation on the Sabbath. As shown in today’s Scripture passage, the Jews denounced the disciples of Jesus even for plucking the heads of grain on the Sabbath Day, and this triggered a great deal of controversy and arguments with the Jews.
Wheat can be eaten raw without cooking. It can also be peeled easily just by rubbing it with your hands and blowing away the chaff. When you peel of the chaff and chew on the grain, it turns gum-like, and along with a chewy texture, it actually tastes pretty good. Jesus’ disciples ate the wheat because they were hungry, but on the other hand it is also possible to conjecture that they might have plucked the wheat with their hands to make a path for Jesus, so that He would not be stung by the wheat while walking through this field.
In the Bible the work of the Pharisees is always shown as an obstacle to the work of Jesus. Therefore, Jesus was constantly surrounded by the Pharisees, so much so that there was hardly a time when they were not present while Jesus was working. The Pharisees believed in Judaism according to the Old Testament and other scriptures such as the Talmud. Since they did not believe that Jesus was the true God, they always kept watch over Him from the viewpoint of the Law and stood against Him. Even though there was absolutely no grounds to find any fault with Jesus’ ministries and acts, the Pharisees always saw Jesus and His disciples as an eyesore. So as shown in today’s Scripture, when the disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate them, the Pharisees seized on this opportunity to raise a quarrel to denounce the disciples for breaking the Law that required the Sabbath Day to be kept holy.
Jesus Said, “I Am the Lord of the Sabbath”
The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. That’s why Jesus said that it was right to do good on the Sabbath. You should also realize here that through this passage, the Lord is rebuking today’s flawed Christians who are like the Pharisees. The Pharisees were not leading a spiritual life of faith, but only a religious life according to their own religious beliefs. So they took the Law of the Old Testament as the barometer to judge one’s faith. In other words, they judged whether one was leading a life of faith or not purely on a legalistic basis, without giving any consideration to faith at all.
In the fourth commandment of the Ten Commandments, God said that everyone should rest on the Sabbath Day, including cattle and any household slaves. Based on this, the Jewish elders set up detailed statutes through consultation specifying how many steps a Jew could take on the Sabbath Day and how large an item he could carry. So in the Pharisees’ view point, Jesus and His disciples always seemed to be acting contrary to the rules set by them.
But Jesus actually rebuked the Pharisees for being hypocritical. As a result of such reproach, the Pharisees came to hate Jesus even more, and they seized on every opportunity to quarrel with Him and tarnish Him on their legalistic grounds. As the Pharisees began to argue about the Sabbath Day, Jesus told them about what David had done when he was fleeing from Saul. At that time, David was so hungry that he went into the House of God in the days of Abiathar the High Priest, and ate the showbread that was placed inside the Sanctuary. Was David ignorant of the Law that he ate the showbread and gave it to his fellow soldiers, even though only the priests could eat this showbread? No, of course not. He did this because he knew that the showbread was made for man, just as the Sabbath was made for man. Even though Jesus’ answer was Biblically sound and completely flawless, the Pharisees tainted Him with heresy arguing that He was ignoring the Law.
The Jewish synagogues at that time were where the Jews gathered together to worship God, teach the Word, and educate their children. In today’s terms, they were similar to schools, and so along with performing religious rituals, the Jews also taught their children in the synagogues. To once again teach the Jews, Jesus went into a synagogue and healed a man who had a withered hand.
Jesus Healed the Man with a Withered Hand
When Jesus went into the synagogue, there was a man with a withered hand. The Pharisees watched Him closely to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath Day or not, so that they could accuse Him. Knowing this, Jesus told the man with a withered hand to stand up, and then asked the Pharisees, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath Day: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” With this question Jesus drove His point across to show that it was wrong to refuse to save someone and abandon him just because it was the Sabbath Day.
When Jesus was questioned about the two greatest commandments in the Law, He answered, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31). When the whole Law is distilled to its essence, it comes down to loving God and loving our fellow man. So when Jesus asked the Pharisees if it was wrong to save a man on the Sabbath, none of them could answer His question.
Jesus then said to the man with a withered hand, “Stretch out your hand,” and when he did, Jesus healed his deformed hand. The withered hand was completely restored to move freely. Despite the fact that the Pharisees all saw this miracle with their own eyes, they began to plot with the Herodians to figure out a way to kill Jesus. They had decided to kill Jesus because they were no match to Him even when they tried to attack Him on legal grounds, and they were instead rebuked for being hypocritical.
What is the Lord saying to us through this account? He is saying that if anyone wants to believe in Him, he must cast aside his own carnal thoughts, follow the thoughts of the Spirit instead, and think and believe according to the Word of God. The Pharisees, the Herodians, and the scribes were particularly prone to conspire together to argue with Jesus because they were beholden to their own religious prejudices. We must cast aside such prejudices. Only then can we understand the Lord clearly and believe in Him as well, and only then can we be saved from our sin by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Among today’s Christians also, there are so many religious people who are just like these Pharisees. Even now, we can still easily come across such religionists acting like the Pharisees who denounced Jesus’ disciples for eating wheat grains on the Sabbath Day and criticized Jesus for healing the man with a withered hand. Even though these religious Christians profess to believe in Jesus, because their thoughts are the same as those of the Pharisees, they cannot be saved.
Jesus saved us from our sin by coming to this earth. Through this salvation, He has given us true rest, saved us from all our sins, and brought to us our everlasting and true salvation. So by giving us peace of mind, rest and salvation and by making us God’s people and bestowing His Kingdom on us, our Lord has made us live forever in peace. It is Jesus who has blessed us like this. He has saved us from sin perfectly through the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit. That is how Jesus has become the true Lord of the Sabbath. Jesus came to this earth to save everyone from sin, bore everyone’s sins all at once by being baptized by John the Baptist, carried all the sins of this world to the Cross, was crucified and shed His blood to death, rose up from the dead, and has thereby become the Savior of His true believers. The Lord has thus completely fulfilled our salvation from all sins.
Jesus Christ is now sitting at the right hand of the throne of God. And having sent the Holy Spirit to this earth, He is working inside us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. He wants to save everyone from sin. Just as He wants to save non-Christians from their sins, He also wants to save Christians who have fallen into the doctrines of their own denominations even as they profess to believe in Jesus Christ.
Despite this Christians today only want to understand Jesus and believe in Him according to the doctrines of their own respective denominations. The Pharisees had criticized Jesus, saying, “How can Jesus not rebuke His disciples even when He saw them plucking the heads of grain and eating them on the Sabbath? How can He not keep the Sabbath?” Likewise, Christians today also base their judgment on the doctrinal standards of their own denominations, and wonder how anyone can be saved through the gospel of the water and the Spirit rather than the blood of the Cross. Even though the Lord took upon all the sins of the world once for all by being baptized by John and was crucified for us, these Christians ask, “How can we say that we have no sin while living on this earth and in this world?” So they quarrel with us, challenging us with a hostile attitude. Just as Ishmael persecuted Isaac, such Christians who are ignorant of the gospel of the water and the Spirit are opposing those who know and believe in this true gospel. They stand against the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit like this because they only think of Jesus within the confines of the Christian doctrines they themselves believe in, and they see us based on this prejudice. Their faith is not one that is placed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but only in the dogmas of Christianity. But you should never forget that Christian doctrines are of man’s own making, while the gospel of the water and the Spirit is of the Word of God.
Who made all the Christian creeds prevailing around in this world? They were made by human beings. Christian doctrines are not of God’s making. Rather, they were made by Christians themselves. When we compare Christian doctrines with the Word of God, we can see that they are completely different from each other. Yet despite this, today’s Christians have taken the doctrines of their own making as the barometer of salvation, and they are therefore standing against Jesus and those who believe in Him through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. These Christian sinners ask the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit how anyone can be sinless. When we say that we have received the remission of our sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, they say to us, “You are heretics. Your faith is fallacious. The real Christian faith entails one to be saved from sin by believing in the blood of the Cross alone.” So when they are told that one is saved from sin by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit rather than the blood of the Cross, they say that this is wrong. But it is they who are wrong.
Why is this so? It’s because these misguided Christians believe in Jesus according to the standard of their own thoughts and of their own doctrines. That is why their faith is wrong. Although it may seem as though their arguments are logical, in reality they are actually wrong. It is through the gospel of the water and the Spirit that everyone is saved, and so for these Christian sinners to argue that this is wrong is akin to the Pharisees denouncing Jesus for working on the Sabbath.
It’s all because of differences of faith that the religionists of this age are in conflict with Jesus, and that is why in today’s Christian communities, those who believe only in the blood of the Cross and those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are clashing with each other. The religionists today do not believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit because they have not forsaken their own carnal thoughts. Jesus is truly the Son of God, God Himself, and our Savior who has perfectly blotted out all our sins once for all with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. He took upon all our sins through His baptism, and while shouldering these sins, He was crucified and shed His blood to death in our place. He then rose up from the dead in three days, and as He is still alive sitting at the right hand of God the Father, He has become the Savior of all mankind. In other words, God has blotted out all the sins of mankind once for all out of His own volition.
However, although most Christians recognize that Jesus is the Savior, because they are still slaves to their own fleshly thoughts, they do not admit that Jesus took away all the sins of everyone in this world once for all by being baptized and shedding His blood on the Cross. So they refute our belief, saying that it’s impossible for us to say that we are sinless since we still commit sin every day against both God and man. Even worse, they accuse anyone of heresy who says that he has become sinless by believing in the baptism of Jesus and His blood on the Cross. They then claim that their faith is the right faith. As this turns into a cause for quarrels and spiritual battles, they turn into our enemies in the end. But even amid such arguments, Jesus quietly carried out everything He was to do. Like the Lamb that John the Baptist spoke about, He shouldered the sins of the world and died on the Cross, and now, He will return again as the Lord of judgment.
The Problem Today Is the Pharisees-like Religionists
The problem with today’s Christianity is that too many ministers and followers alike do not know the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Because they are ignorant of the gospel of the water and the Spirit, they judge God and His true gospel based on the Christian doctrines of their own respective denominations that they believe in and rely on. Not only do they judge the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but they are also standing against them spiritually. Even though the Lord has already blotted out all the sins of this world with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, they claim that since they still commit sin in their lives, they are still sinful, and they try to persecute those who say that they have become sinless by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. They misinterpret the Bible by saying, “Although Christians are sinful they are not sinners. On the contrary they are righteous people. But this just means that they have been saved by believing in Jesus; it does not mean that they are sinless just because they believe in Jesus.” And they stand against the Truth just as the Pharisees stood against Jesus while He was still on this earth.
The most salient basis from which these Christians are standing against the righteousness of God is their own carnal thoughts which have absolutely nothing to do with the Word of God. When they think according to their own fleshly thoughts, those who say that they have become sinless by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit seem to be wrong in their eyes. They wonder how anyone living in this world can claim to be sinless when he still commits sin every day. They ask, “How can anyone have no sin even if he believes in Jesus as his Savior? Does this then mean that he does not have to repent from the sins he commits in his life?” Because they see the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit from such a viewpoint, they end up standing against the righteousness of God, His true love and His true salvation. That is why they are tarnishing the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit as the Gnostics of the Early Church age, who did not consider any wrongdoing committed with the body as a sin.
However, what we must realize clearly here is that the faith of the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit is fundamentally different from the faith of those who are not born again yet. Christian sinners today are always standing against the born-again believers. Most Christians today are also misjudging us based on their own carnal thoughts.
The Sabbath Should Be Kept Spiritually
Jesus said, “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” When the Lord came to this earth, He accepted our sins by being baptized, was crucified to death, and rose up from the dead, and He has through this saved us. He will come back again after He ascended to Heaven after His resurrection. He sent the Holy Spirit to this earth and left the Word of God. Through this Word of God, we know and believe that Jesus has blotted out all our sins with the Truth of the water and the Spirit. Therefore everyone is sinless. Because Jesus took upon all the sins of this world by being baptized by John the Baptist, there is no sin in this world.
Does this then means that those who don’t believe in Jesus are also sinless? No, that’s not the case. Because these people do not believe in Jesus, and they do not know the Truth, they still remain sinful. In contrast, we the believers in the gospel of the gospel of the water and the Spirit have no sin because we know and believe in this gospel Truth, and we understand and believe that Jesus actually bore all our sins, died on the Cross, and raised us back to life. And because Jesus has in fact blotted out all our sins, we are now sinless for we believe in this Truth.
To say that an apple tastes like an apple is obvious; after all, what else could an apple taste like but an apple? Likewise, our claim that we have no sin is also self-evident: We have no sin because the Word of God says that the Lord has blotted out the sins of mankind with the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
But because people have carnal thoughts, they cannot understand the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. They say, “Clearly, even some of you who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit still commit sin. So how can you say that you are sinless? Isn’t this wrong then? So it’s a false and heretical claim.” Just as the Pharisees in the times of Jesus denounced His disciples for plucking the heads of grain and eating them on the Sabbath Day, so do these religious people in this present age also denounce those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
You have to grasp clearly the reason why God instituted the Sabbath Day. He gave us the Sabbath so that we would remember and worship Jesus for His righteous work of salvation that blotted out all our sins, not to receive blessings just by keeping this day in a literal sense. In the Old Testament, God did say countless times that one would be blessed if he kept the Sabbath Day. But we have to realize its spiritual meaning. It means that we must keep the faith that the Lord has blotted out all our sins under all circumstances. Only those who keep this faith in their hearts are blessed by God, and it is on their hearts that the Holy Spirit descends and works.
For this reason then the carnal thoughts of today’s Christians are completely wrong. Unless they cast aside their fleshly thoughts, they will end up standing against Jesus and never be saved, even as they believe in Jesus as their Savior, preach accordingly, and claim to be living for the Lord.
That is why Jesus said that if anyone wants to follow Him, he must deny himself, pick up his cross, and then follow Jesus. Those who cannot deny their carnal thoughts cannot follow the Lord. One must deny his fleshly thoughts, set his mind on the Spirit, and believe in the Word of God based on the fact the Lord has blotted out all his sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Like this, everyone must hold on to the Word of God by faith and follow Him by faith as Abraham had done. Only these kinds of people can follow Jesus. Otherwise everyone else will just turn into Jesus’ enemy just like the Pharisees and the Herodians. Yet sadly, there are so many such people on this earth.
In Mark chapter one, Jesus took upon the sins of mankind by being baptized by John the Baptist, and in Mark chapter two, he spoke to a paralytic and said to him, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” Then using old garments and old wineskins as illustrations, the Lord said that we must cast aside our fleshly thoughts and conventional wisdom, and instead think and believe exactly according to His Word. In the last few verses of Mark chapter two, we see Jesus arguing with the Pharisees over the Sabbath, but this quarrel did not start by Jesus. Traveling through various towns, Jesus had only spoken of the good news and done good works, but the Pharisees were trying to pick a fight.
The Pharisees are today’s Christian sinners who do not know the gospel of the water and the Spirit. These Christians, even as they claim to believe in Jesus, are persecuting their fellow believers. Christians are prone to persecute other Christians as heretics. Even though our teachings are Biblically sound, it is different from their own denominational stance; and so they blindly condemn us as heretics. They arbitrarily accuse anyone of heresy if any different from them. While this tendency is found among Christians across the whole world, it is particularly more pronounced in Korean churches. If someone speaks and believes according to what the Bible actually says rather than according to his own denomination’s doctrines, he is accused of being a heretic. Many Christians engage in this practice just as the Pharisees had accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath Day and sought to kill Him. Since such Christians do not deny their carnal thoughts and do not believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit through which Jesus has saved mankind, they will all go to hell. This is what Jesus is saying to us through today’s Scripture passage.
In effect, what Jesus was actually saying, “You must cast away your carnal thoughts. You must know and believe according to what I told you. I came to this earth so that you may realize that I, the Son of God who came incarnated in the flesh of man, have the power to remit away everyone’s sins. Son, you have received the remission of your sins. Arise and walk.” This Word was given to none other than us. Jesus has thus remitted us from our sins. He has the power and authority to remit away all our sins. And He has blotted out all the sins of everyone in this world. He has remitted away all the sins of mankind, each and every sin of all who believe in what He has done for them.
Jesus Told the Sick to Arise and Walk
Jesus has enabled us to rise up from our spiritually crippled lives, carry out God’s work by faith, and receive God’s blessings in our lives by faith. Jesus actually has such power, and He has actually given us such blessings in our lives.
The problem is the faith of today’s Christians. Even though Jesus is the Son of God the Father, He came to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man according to the will of the Father, took upon all the sins of mankind by being baptized by John the Baptist, died on the Cross, rose up from the dead, and has thereby fulfilled our salvation completely, these Christians do not recognize the salvation that Jesus has fulfilled for us, nor do they acknowledge Him as the Son of God. Since they don’t even recognize that Jesus is actually God, the Creator, and the Savior…just how problematic is this? Likewise, the Pharisees also caused a great deal of worry and grief to Jesus. But rather than giving up on them, Jesus walked amidst them and personally showed and explained to them who He really was. So even amongst the Pharisees, there were some people who turned around. One of them was a man named Nicodemus.
If Jesus saw today’s Christians who believe only in the blood of the Cross, what would He say? Many of them believe that God had predestined some people to be His children even before they were born, while He predestined others to be sent to hell arbitrarily. When Jesus sees Christians believing in such mistaken doctrines, He bemoans in sadness. This is what today’s Scripture passage is addressing. Although it may seem as though the Lord is speaking just to the Pharisees and the Herodians, but in fact, He is speaking to today’s spiritual Pharisees. It is not as if these Christians do not believe in God at all. They do believe in God, but the problem is that they do not believe according to the Word of the Lord, for they have not cast aside their fleshly thoughts.
Consider this carefully. Is it not right to save a life even on the Sabbath, and to pluck the heads of grain and eat them if hungry? Or is it right to starve just to keep the Sabbath literally? You are supposed to rest on the Sabbath Day, but how can you rest when you are starving? Would you be able to get any sleep with an empty stomach? Would you find any strength? No, you can’t sleep when you are too hungry. If you were too stressed out during the day, or you are too worried or too hungry, you can’t fall asleep at night.
Today is the Lord’s Day. The Sabbath Day was changed into the Lord’s Day. We call it the Lord’s Day because this is the day when the Lord was resurrected. Let’s say that we have to skip all our meals and go hungry all day long just to keep the Lord’s Day. I’ll be the first one to balk at this. Wouldn’t you also be upset? There is no reason why anyone should starve on this day.
Why did Jesus give us the Law and come to this earth? He came to this earth to bring true salvation to us, to give us peace, to bless us, to save us perfectly from all our sins, and to make us God’s children. We must therefore understand this profound providence and believe in it. God has blotted out all our sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, made us His children and His people, allowed us to carry out the work of righteousness while living on this earth, and given us the right to enjoy His riches and glory in the future. We must believe in this. We must believe in what God has done for us.
But we should give some more in-depth consideration to the notion of keeping the Sabbath Day. We need to think about the basis of the Sabbath Day, and the fundamental purpose for which it is kept. Is it orthodox just to keep the Sabbath Day to the letter, and consider others who don’t heretics?
For the Jews, the Sabbath lasts from the sunset on Friday until the sunset on Saturday. They must not do anything on the Sabbath. The Law says that even the livestock should rest. Strictly speaking, they should not even use electricity. Even non-Christians should not use electricity. They should also refrain from cooking. So among the Adventists in Korea, pastors used to argue over whether they should turn on the light or not during their worship services. Some argued that to keep the Sabbath, they should not turn on the electric light, while others argued that if that were the case, they should not even light up any candles either. During the Japanese colonial rule, pastors from the Adventist Church formed the largest group killed for refusing to bow before Shinto shrines. Historical documents show that pastors at other denominations also embraced martyrdom refusing to bow at Shinto shrines even at the threat of death in order to keep the Word to the letter. From a carnal point of view, these people are worthy of respect.
There was a famous pastor in Korea praised as a living saint. During the Japanese colonial rule, he had at first been a teacher in what is now North Korea. But when he became a pastor, he was forced to bow before a Shinto shrine. As the Japanese threatened to imprison him and starve him to death, he gave into the pressure and bowed before the shrine. Everyone had thought that this pastor had never bowed before any imperial shrines, but he confessed with his own lips that he had done so. And he described himself as a man with many sins. But this pastor was at least an honest man. After all, few would be able to refuse to bow before Shinto shrines under such dire circumstances. Of course, the wise thing to do is to remain faithful and refuse it, but it is not an easy thing to do.
There was a female Christian who was also imprisoned and persecuted severely for campaigning against Shinto shrines. When Korea was liberated from the Japanese rule, she was released from prison and wrote two books, one called If I Perish, and the other called If I Perish, I Shall Live. In one of the books she wrote about how the guards at the prison starved her so much that all her teeth and fingernails fell out. They only brought rotten food to the prisoners, but she was only too thankful even for this. After her release, she worked as an evangelist for a while, and then she eventually got married to a Baptist pastor ministering in the United States. After this, she was invited back to Korea many times to give her testimony, and she testified that when she decided like Esther to embrace death if needed, God liberated her. And showing how she had no fingernails, she said that she had lived by faith even though so many Korean pastors had failed to keep their faith and given in to the Japanese. So she was widely respected by Korean Christians.
She once appeared in certain American Christian broadcasting stations, giving the same testimony about how she had defied the Japanese authorities to keep the Sabbath Day while in the prison and was nearly killed for her resistance. But unlike Koreans, the reaction from the American audience was rather chilly. They were actually quite puzzled by her testimony, thinking that Korean Christians were rather strange to try so hard to keep the Sabbath literally.
Apart from this evangelist, many others in Korea were also imprisoned for their stance of the Sabbath Day, and amongst them was Deacon Chudal Bae, whom you are probably well aware of. During the Korean War Bae was ordered by some North Korean troops to sweep the yard on the Sabbath Day. He refused, upon which the North Korean troops threatened to shoot him. Bae then said to them, “Shoot me if you want to! I will never break the Sabbath Day, so I will never sweep the yard with this broom.” So the North Korean troops got angry and tied him to a tree and threatening him, “Now answer us: Will you sweep the yard even though it’s the Sabbath Day, or will you be shot?” But Bae still said, “I’d rather be shot. I will keep the Sabbath no matter what.” So the North Korean troops killed him.
After the end of the Korean War, all the refugees returned home. They were so inspired to hear about this young man’s death that they made him a deacon posthumously. And when countless pastors traveled around the country to preach at revival meetings, they told the congregation to emulate Deacon Bae. Some even used his example to criticize the congregation, saying that while Deacon Bae was killed to keep the Sabbath; many Christians were now busy having too much fun on the Sabbath.
Of course, the right thing to do on the Lord’s Day is to worship God, but you may miss the Sunday service for a good reason—for instance, if someone in your family is hospitalized with a grave illness, you may not be able to attend church. But by no means does this mean that you are somehow breaking the Sabbath. Many Christians are slaves to completely mistaken beliefs. Is anyone’s sin really blotted out just by believing in the blood of the Cross? People may believe that the Lord shed His blood for them and died for them, and out of their gratitude they may forgive those who wronged them. But what should they do about the sins they commit after believing in Jesus? Ministers say that they just have to offer prayers of repentance, but does this really solve the problem of sin? Are their sins really washed away? They say, “Didn’t Jesus wash Peter’s feet? Didn’t He say, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with me’? So isn’t it right to get our sins washed away by offering prayers of repentance every day?”
But is this what the Lord meant when He said, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with me” (John 13:8)? The subject here is the Lord. The Lord had to wash Peter’s feet. It means that Jesus took away even Peter’s future sins by being baptized once, died on the Cross, rose up from the dead, and thereby became Peter’s Savior. Since Peter was insufficient, he would commit sin even after Jesus’ resurrection and ascendance, and so had Jesus not blotted out even these sins, Jesus and Peter would have had nothing to do with each other.
The problem here is today’s Christians interpret this passage according to their own fleshly thoughts. They interpret this Word based on their own Christian doctrines, and this is the biggest problem. They keep misinterpreting the Bible because they measure everything by Christian doctrines. So it’s absolutely indispensable for you to cast aside your own thoughts. You must also throw away the teachings of your denomination. What is so great about these denominational teachings that you would interpret the Bible based on them? Denominations mean nothing. Once you know and believe in the Word of God, the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit, you will surely understand other things as well. Before being born again, you may have interpreted today’s Scripture passage in the opposite way, thinking that it was right to keep the Sabbath literally, but if you read the Bible after believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and you are led by the Holy Spirit, you can realize that all your past knowledge is completely opposite.
Christian sinners can be saved only if they cast aside their carnal thoughts and believe in what Jesus had done for them, the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Otherwise they cannot confess to the Lord, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). We must therefore know and believe in Jesus Christ who came by the water and the blood. It is only when we believe in Jesus Christ who came by the water, the blood and the Spirit that we can truly attain our salvation, become God’s children, carry out the work of righteousness, and enjoy God’s glory.
That is why Christians must throw away their own carnal thoughts. Even for those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, it may be possible for them to adhere to their own thoughts, but they must cast aside their own fixed thoughts and be mindful of faith instead, for that is what the Word of God is saying and what their predecessors of faith are teaching. Although one may think of himself as an impeccably upright person, but that is only his illusion. When a spiritual person shares some conversation with such people, the reality of their sinful hearts is revealed in no time.
Some people then may say, “Are you the only knowledgeable man here? Is it just you who believe in God?” But what you need to grasp clearly is that those who are spiritually knowledgeable are very different from those who are carnally knowledgeable. Every time you cast aside your own thoughts, the grime of the flesh is washed off and you become a spiritual person, and become someone who is spiritually knowledgeable. In other words, what the Lord is saying to us is that we can be saved and follow Him instead of rebelling against Him only if we throw away our fleshly thoughts and believe in the Word of God exactly as God said it.
Christians around the world should also cast aside their own denominational doctrines and their own carnal thoughts and sincerely believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and thus reach their salvation. Those of us, who have already done so, should be very thankful that we have not turned into God’s enemies. The Word of God says that once you are saved, all the problems that you face subsequently can be easily solved if you listen to the sermons and teachings of your predecessors of faith and follow their guidance by faith. You will then also become a spiritually upright person without fail.