The New Life Mission

Sermons

Subject 21 : The Gospel According to MARK

[Chapter 11-3] (Mark 11:11-14, 20-24) Live by Faith to Please God

(Mark 11:11-14)
“And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve. Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, ‘Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.’ And His disciples heard it.”
 
(Mark 11:20-24)
“Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter, remembering, said to Him, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.’ So Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.’”
 
 
It’s written here in today’s Scripture passage: “Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter, remembering, said to Him, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.’ So Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them’” (Mark 11:20-24). As this passage says, God wants you to have faith in Him. What God demands from all of us, is for our hearts to have faith in God.
Depending on whether our hearts have faith in God or not, we can be either blessed by God or forsaken by Him. If our hearts have faith in God, then we can not only be saved from all our sins by God but also be released from the Devil, make our hearts’ dreams come true, and receive all His blessings as well. God demands that we and everyone else in this world have faith in Him. The most critical question therefore is, whether or not we have faith in God.
 
 
Why the Lord Cursed the Fruitless Fig Tree
 
When our Lord left Bethany to go to Jerusalem, He saw a fig tree in a distance, and as He was hungry, He walked towards this tree to eat its figs. But when the Lord arrived there, the fig tree had no fruit. It is written here in the Bible that the tree did not have any fruit because “it was not the season for figs” (Mark 11:13). Yet even so, our Lord said to this fig tree, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again” (Mark 11:14).
You probably don’t think that our Lord made a mistake here, not knowing that it was not the season for fig trees to bear fruit. Fig trees usually bear fruit and are harvested from mid-summer to late fall. Their fruit is highly nutritious and very tasty. Fig trees are prevalent in countries like Israel and Japan. We don’t see that many fig trees in Korea though, because some Koreans regard them as tabooed trees and therefore don’t like to have them in their back yards. The leaves of fig trees are broad and wide, shaped like a large hand.
Getting back to today’s passage, when our Lord went to the fig tree, He saw that it had no fruit. The Lord then cursed this fig tree, saying to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again” (Mark 11:14). Later on, perhaps the next morning, the disciples saw that the fig tree had withered to death from its roots.
What kind of heart does God wants us to have? He wants our hearts to have faith in His righteousness. Our hearts must have faith in the righteousness of God. God said to us that He would curse whoever does not have faith in His righteousness, just as He had cursed the fig tree in today’s Scripture passage. The Lord has saved us through the righteousness of God, and He is saying to us that He would curse all who refuse to believe in this salvation. This means that whether or not we are blessed or cursed by God depends on whether or not our hearts have faith in the righteousness of God.
We are indeed blessed by God when we truly believe in His righteousness. What all of us must realize here is that it’s absolutely indispensable for us to have faith of believing that Jesus has saved everyone from all their sins by coming to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man, shouldering the sins of the world by being baptized by John the Baptist, and shedding His blood to death on the Cross. Only when we have this faith are we saved and can receive everlasting life. Only by believing in this God-given gospel of the water and the Spirit can we become His own children.
 
 
Now That We Have Been Saved from All the Sins of This World, We Must Live by Faith
 
God earnestly wants us to believe in His righteousness and to preach it wholeheartedly. Our Lord said in Mark 11:22-24, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”
To pray to God is to seek His help. It is all about making our sincerest wishes known to our God. And since the most heart-felt desire of ours is to live for the Lord, we all should pray to God like this: “Lord, I want to live a righteous life. I want to live my life as your witness. I want to serve your righteousness and receive your blessings throughout my entire lifetime.” When we thus make our hearts’ desires known to God and ask Him for His help, He will listen to us and answer all our prayers. God is more than pleased to answer all our requests when we believe in and preach His righteousness.
Now that we have been saved from all our sins by faith, how should we now live our remaining lives? How should we live out our faith now that we have been delivered from all the sins of the world? The answer is simple and obvious: We should all live by faith. To do so, we must listen to God’s Word in His Church, for the Bible says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). It is therefore very important for us to come to God’s Church and listen to His Word. Only then does faith in God spring forth. Although we have been saved from all our sins, we would not know what to do if we did not hear or understand the righteous Word of God. The Lord told us, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Therefore, all of us should firstly seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. And such a life of faith is led when we pray for the gospel of the water and the Spirit to be proclaimed throughout the whole world.
Do you truly want to live amidst God’s blessings, carrying out the gospel work that is pleasing to God? Then pray first for the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. The Lord said to us clearly here, “I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). The Lord is telling you to believe that you will indeed receive everything you ask for when you pray to Him.
 
 
What Does God Want from Us?
 
God does not want us to just polish our outside appearances to look pious and godly to others. He does not want you to just attend church out of formality, nor does He care what church office you hold or which seminary you graduated from. These are superficial things that have no bearing on Him at all.
What does God look for then? Fundamentally speaking, God looks at whether or not our hearts have faith in His righteousness. The Lord Himself has fulfilled the work of salvation with His water and blood to deliver us from all our sins. Therefore the key question to ask ourselves is whether or not we really believe that the Lord has washed away all our sins once and for all. Put differently, the Lord is asking us if we have indeed received the remission of all our hearts’ sins and become righteous by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The problem, however, is that too many Christians still have their sins remaining intact even as they profess to believe in Jesus. Their hearts still remain sinful. And these nominal Christians are not the saints in God’s sight, for they have sin in their hearts despite professing to believe in Jesus.
It does not matter to God how long you might have been a Christian, what a big church you might have attended in this world, or how much work of God you might think you have done. The only questions that concern God is whether or not you have been born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that constitutes the righteousness of God, and whether or not you have lived your life to preach His righteousness. That’s because unless you believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, it is not only impossible for you to receive the remission of sins no matter how piously you have led your life, but it is also impossible for you to be freed from Satan’s rule. Such people will always remain sinners no matter how long they have attended church and how ardently they have professed to believe in Jesus. Such nominal Christians were sinners before they believed in Jesus as their Savior, and they still remain sinners even after believing in Jesus. All that awaits them in the future is nothing but God’s everlasting curses.
Therefore, if you are such a Christian, then you must believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the true gospel through which the Lord has saved you. If you believe in this Word of salvation that God has given into your heart, you will become His very own child. If on the other hand, you already believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with your heart, then you have truly become a righteous person. All who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are completely sinless in their hearts. It does not matter whether they are knowledgeable of the Bible or not; because their hearts have faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, they are all sinless. We are such true Christians who believe that Jesus came by the gospel of the water and the Spirit to save sinners like us from all our sins. The Lord did not come to save the self-righteous but sinners, and we believe in this salvation that constitutes the righteousness of our Lord.
The righteousness of the Lord is the very fact that He bore all our sins by being baptized by John the Baptist and was condemned on the Cross in our place. In this way, through this most proper way, the Lord has saved us from all our sins. He accepted all the sins of the human race by being baptized by John the Baptist, the representative of all humanity, and He shed His blood on the Cross in our place. And He rose up from the dead. The Lord is now sitting at the right hand of the throne of God the Father.
The question for us then is whether or not we believe with all our hearts that the Lord has saved us in this way. If you believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with your heart, then you will be saved, but if you otherwise don’t believe in this true gospel with your heart, then you will forever remain a sinner. No matter how knowledgeable you are of the Bible or how holy you pretend your life to be, so long as you don’t believe in Jesus Christ who came by the water and the blood, you are just like the fruitless fig tree mentioned here in today’s Scripture passage that had nothing but abundant leaves.
 
 
Jesus Bore All Our Sins through the Baptism He Received from John the Baptist
 
This afternoon I had a chance to watch a movie titled Ben-Hur as it was on TV. This movie depicts the birth of Jesus Christ the Son of God, showing how He was born on this earth through the body of the Virgin Mary to be incarnated in the flesh of man. When the Baby Jesus was born, wise men from the East came looking for Him led by His star, and they offered Him gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The shepherds out in the field also came to see Jesus and blew their trumpets to celebrate the birth of the King.
Anyways, the movie’s main protagonist is a Jewish nobleman named Ben-Hur living in Jesus’ time, when Israel was a colony of the Roman Empire. Ben-Hur had a childhood friend named Messala, a Roman citizen who returns to Israel as commanding officer of the Roman garrison. Ben-Hur is happy to see his friend and invites him over to his home for dinner. Ben-Hur’s sister is in love with Messala, but now that he is the commanding officer of the Roman garrison, he no longer sees his friend’s sister in the same light as he used to. Although Messala has lost his interest in Ben-Hur’s sister, she still holds him with affection.
Later on, while Ben-Hur’s family is watching the welcoming parade of the new Roman governor from the roof, a tile falls off from the house and startles the governor’s horse into throwing him off. Held responsible for this mishap, Ben-Hur is sent to a galley as a slave while his family is thrown into prison. It’s his own friend Messala that sends Ben-Hur into slavery. Ben-Hur believes in God, while his friend believes in Roman gods, and this makes all the difference in the movie.
While Ben-Hur is dying of thirst on his way to the galleys, a young man approaches him and gives him water. This young man was none other than Jesus Christ. At that time, Jesus was already walking on this earth. In other words, the writer of Ben-Hur had set his story at the time of Jesus. Anyways, after spending three years as a galley slave, Ben-Hur saves the commander-in-chief of the Roman navy during a battle, and he is subsequently adopted by this commander. As a result, Ben-Hur is freed from his slavery and eventually returns to Judea, and towards the end of the movie, he exacts his revenge by defeating Messala in a chariot race, as Messala is crushed to death in the race.
In the meantime, Ben-Hur’s mother and sisters had contracted leprosy while being imprisoned for too long in a damp and filthy cave. But they were healed from leprosy when they saw Jesus being crucified. This shows us how Jesus had blotted out all the sins of the human race by coming to this earth, being baptized by John the Baptist at the age of 30, and dying on the Cross at the age of 33. In the Bible, leprosy often denotes sin. That Ben-Hur’s mother and sisters were healed from leprosy at the very moment Jesus died implies that Jesus had remitted away all their sins through His baptism and His blood on the Cross.
This movie was made from a novel of the same title written by Lewis Wallace, and the author attached a subtitle to the novel as “A Tale of Christ.” There is an interesting background as to why the author of Ben-Hur wrote the book. Wallace had at first tried very hard to show that Jesus was a mere product of human imagination, setting out to argument that Jesus was not a real person and that those who believed in Him were mistaken. To prove his point, Wallace carried out extensive investigations, but after going through all these historical and archeological evidences, he was compelled to get down on his knees and confess, “Jesus, You really are my Savior and my Master.” So far from proving that Jesus Christ was a fictitious character, Wallace came to write his novel Ben-Hur plotted out over the days of Jesus to convey that Jesus Christ had blotted out all the sins of humanity, and that Jesus Christ was the real Savior of all humanity. Put differently, through this story of a nobleman in Israel set against the backdrop of the Roman Empire’s colonial rule, Wallace sought to tell the story of Jesus Christ and proclaim Him as the Savior of all sinners.
My fellow believers, Jesus Christ is indeed your Savior and mine. God Himself had come to this earth as our Savior. Jesus Christ is fundamentally God. The name Jesus means the Savior, and the name Christ means the King of kings. This means that God Himself, the King of kings and the Creator of the whole universe, had come to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man. The King of kings and God Himself had personally come to this earth as our own Savior. And He has saved us through His water and blood. How did the Lord achieve this? He achieved this by being baptized at the age of 30, shedding His blood on the Cross, laying down His life, and purchasing us with the price of His own blood.
Jesus has cleansed away all our sins by being baptized by John the Baptist. He bore all our sins once and for all through His baptism, and He perfectly washed them all away. That is why Jesus was crucified to death. At that time of His crucifixion, a Roman soldier pierced Jesus’ side with a long spear to verify His death. Water and blood then gushed out of Jesus’ side (John 19:34). Like this, the Bible teaches us in concrete detail that the Lord has saved us through His water and blood.
Jesus the Son of God had indeed come to this earth, and He has saved us not just in words but in reality, actually bearing all our sins through His baptism. The Lord has saved us not just in words, but He has actually made us sinless by bearing all our sins through His baptism. And having borne all the sins of the human race, He was condemned in our place to pay off the wages of all our sins with His own life. The Bible says that because Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified to death, we could be released from all our sins. Those who believe in this Truth are those who believe in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit in its entirety. Only such people who believe in the Word of God exactly as it is can be released from the sins of the world.
 
 
Does Your Heart Really Have Faith in the Gospel of the Water and the Spirit?
 
Do you really believe in this gospel of Truth with all your heart? God invariably wants fruit from every fig tree. Put differently, God wants your heart to have faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, which is His Word. The Lord is asking us whether or not you have sin. Do we, the real believers in His Word, have any sin within us? No, we have no sin.
How then has the Lord saved us from all our sins? He has saved us by coming to this earth, bearing all the sins of the world once and for all by being baptized by John the Baptist in a form of the Old Testament’s laying on of hands, and being condemned on the Cross for us. It is only by believing in this Truth that our heart can become completely sinless. Sinlessness is the result and the fruit of our genuine faith. And this is precisely the faith that the Lord desires from you. The Prophet Isaiah said, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). Even though Jesus Christ had never committed any sin at all, because He had borne all our sins in the Jordan River through His baptism, He had to suffer death on the Cross.
What is the real Truth of salvation? The gospel proclaiming that the Lord has saved us through His water, His blood, and the Spirit is the Truth. It is by believing in this gospel Truth that we can reach true salvation. Do you believe in this Truth with all your heart? The Bible says clearly that “with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). Whether you have this real faith or not depends on whether or not you wholeheartedly believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit; and this faith is what determines whether you reach your salvation or face eternal destruction. Your faith should not be like the fig tree that had nothing but thick leaves, but it must be sincere and wholehearted. The question, in other words, is whether or not you really believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with all your heart. And you can be saved only if you believe in this gospel of the water and the Spirit with your heart; otherwise you can never reach salvation.
Whenever my heart was struggling with hardships, I looked for the will of God. I then realized that the Lord was telling me to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit even amid my hardships. However, it’s not by my own effort that I am preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit, nor is it because of my own hard work that people are receiving the remission of sins. Nor should you think that I am doing God’s work thanks to someone else’s help. Of course, there are many coworkers working hard with me to preach the gospel, but it is God’s carefully planned work of salvation for everyone all over the world to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and be saved. We have therefore been preaching the gospel everywhere we can, both at home and overseas, and we believe that it’s all thanks to God’s plan and work that we have been able to preach His gospel to this very day.
Now that you have been saved from all your sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the very first thing that you must to do before God is unite yourself with His Church by faith. You should all be ready to follow the guidance of God’s Church, even if some teachings of the Church are different from your previous knowledge or expectations. This requires you to unite your heart with God’s Church. And all of you must yearn to become the workers of righteousness before God. Given the fact that you have received the remission of your sins by hearing the gospel of the water and the Spirit, you should all seek to become such workers that preach this true gospel to others.
 
 
How Should the Saved Saints Lead Their Lives?
 
Now that we have been saved from all our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, how should we lead our lives? Even though we have been saved from sin and have become completely sinless, we still worry about how we ought to live in this world. Before when we had sin, we used to confess our sins to God and ask Him to forgive us, but now that we have no more sin, there is no need for us to offer any more prayers of repentance. So the only concern we may have is how to make a living in this world. However, before worrying about this, we must first seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. By faith, all of us must do what pleases God.
What is pleasing to God then? God is pleased when we serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit. How should we serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit then? To serve this gospel, we must first unite our hearts with God’s Church and pool all our strengths together. Until now, you may have offered prayers of repentance every day trying to be saved from your sins in vain, but from now on, you must live by trusting in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and carry out God’s work in your life. This is the life that every righteous man and woman must live for. Our Lord has overcome the world. He has defeated the Devil. Therefore, we can also defeat the Devil if we believe in the Lord’s righteousness. Even the Devil is no match for us. As long as we believe in the righteousness of God, Satan cannot work in our lives. Even if Satan stirs up fear to threaten us, we can always stand up to him by our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and rebuke him, saying, “Satan, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to get away from me!”
The Lord said, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). When we the believers in the righteousness of God pray to Him earnestly, we can all see the work of God unfolding right before our very own eyes on account of our faith. How do you want to live your life? I am sure that you all want to live according to God’s pleasure. Do you want live your life for the preaching of the gospel of the water ad the Spirit? Do you want to devote all your life in spreading this gospel? If so, then you must keep your faith at all costs.
All of us must defend our faith that is pleasing to the Lord. And we must pray by faith, asking the Lord to allow us to live a worthy life even though we don’t deserve it. Whatever we ask from God, He will surely answer all our prayers as long as our requests are fitting to His sight. God will answer our every prayer if we believe that His will is right. The Word of God says that if we have faith that is as small as a mustard seed, then when we say to that mountain be removed and be cast into the sea, it will be done.
How about you then? Do you have in your heart such faith that is as small as a mustard seed as God wants you to have? Our Lord said that if we have such faith that’s as small as a mustard seed, we will be able to move even huge mountains. A mustard seed is so small that it’s hardly visible and easily blown away at the slightest wind. That is how small a mustard seed is. However, even if our faith is that small, God will answer all our hearts’ desires so long as we pray according to His will rather than our own will.
Even though my faith is lacking, I still believe in the righteousness of the Lord. And I am sure that you also believe in the Lord’s righteousness. Therefore, even if we are not emotionally stirred up, if we pray to God wholeheartedly for a good cause, God will surely answer all our prayers and fulfill all our dreams. This is the faith that’s absolutely indispensable to each and every saved saint. As we have been saved by faith, from now on we must all live by faith according to God’s pleasure. All of us must lead a life that’s pleasing to God, pray to God to bless us so that we can lead such a life, and believe that God will indeed make it possible for us to lead this life. We should trust in God and wait for His answer by faith. Do you believe in God? If you do, then have a worthy dream in your heart first. Carrying out the will of God is not something that is done depending on your circumstances, but it is achieved only by faith.
The Bible says that “faith is the substance of things hope for” (Hebrews 11:1). This means that if you have a sincere hope in your heart, you should ask God for it in your prayer and wait patiently for His answer by faith, and God will then surely fulfill this hope for you.
What kind of hope do you and I have? We should all have a righteous hope before God. Whoever has been saved should have a worthy dream before God. Joseph was a dreamer. One day, Joseph saw in a dream eleven sheaves standing up and bowing down to his sheaf. He then told this dream to his father and brothers. His brothers then got offended by this, wondering, “Is he saying that we would all bow down to him even though he is so much younger than us?” They then sold Joseph to traveling merchants without telling their father.
But what happened to Joseph’s dream? Did it actually come true? It indeed came to pass exactly as Joseph had dreamt. Later on, Joseph eventually became the governor over all the land of Egypt. When a severe famine broke out in Egypt and all over the surrounding regions, Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to buy grain and they all knelt down before him because he was the governor of Egypt. His dream had come true.
Like Joseph, all saved people should have a worthy dream. When I was first born again, I dreamed of preaching the gospel all over the world. Before I was born again, I had believed only in the blood of the Cross, and therefore I had always remained a sinner. However, I came to know the gospel of the water and the Spirit through the written Word of God, and I believed in it with all my heart. After thus being born again, the very first thing I asked God for in my prayer was to allow me to preach His gospel. So I said to God in my prayer, “Lord, people all over the world do not have this true gospel of the water and the Spirit. Give me the strength and open the way for me so that I may preach your gospel throughout the whole world.”
How could I have prayed like this when I had just barely been saved? What faith and what power could I have had back then? Yet I was so full of ambition for the Lord that as soon as I was saved, the first thing I asked God was to allow me to spread His gospel all over the world. And God has made my dream come true.
How about you then? What was the very first hope that sprang forth as soon as you were saved from your sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Did you hope to carry out God’s work, receive His blessings, and live your life for such a beautiful and worthy cause? Or did you just want to live a comfortable life for the gratification of your own flesh? What is your heart’s dream now?
You must have a truly worthy and beautiful dream, even if you think this is impossible under your current circumstances. You must believe in God in the right way. You must have hope before God. Whoever has no dream is a dead man. All the saved people should trust in God and look toward Him for His help, rather than looking at their own circumstances. They should ask God to make their dreams come true, praying to Him, “Lord, surely I am a righteous man, for I believe in you. Bless me, Lord, so that I may serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit to my heart’s content.” You will then be blessed both in body and spirit.
What kind of work do you want to do for the rest of your life? Do you want to live for the spreading of the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Don’t say that you will preach the gospel only if your circumstances allow you to do so. Tell God how you want to live your life. And pray to Him and ask Him for His help. Ask God to help you live the kind of life that you want to live. And believe that God will answer you without fail. This is what faith is all about.
The faith that our Lord spoke of in today’s Scripture passage is none other than this faith. Our Lord wants all of us to have this kind of faith inside our hearts. If we instead go through the motion of attending church as a tradition and pray to God just for our material prosperity, then we would be like this fruitless fig tree that had nothing but abundant leaves, and our faith would be a dead faith. Church goers who have sin in their hearts will perish; in fact, if you attend church without receiving the remission of sins, you will be ruined. You may even end up being possessed by a demon if you attend church without believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
 
 
Satan Our Enemy
 
I would like to share with you my personal testimony on how I had been demon-possessed before. In my past, when I did not know the gospel of the water and the Spirit, I had been possessed by a demon. This demon used to whisper into my ears and accuse me of my sins endlessly. I hated this, but I could not escape from this demon. He followed me to everywhere I went, tormenting me with the same accusation time after time. Even when I commanded the demon to leave me alone, it was all in vain. This demon was so cunning that whenever I made any mistakes out of my weaknesses, he condemned me for this. Eventually, my condition deteriorated so much that I got tired of everything, I became afraid of meeting anyone, and I was unable to pray to God even when I tried. My life was completely miserable. The demon then tried to make me commit suicide. He kept whispering into my ears that it would be better for me to just die than live such a wretched life.
No one knows my sins and my weaknesses, not even those closest to me. Who knew them then? I knew them very well, and the Devil knew them as well. So the Devil drove me crazy accusing me of my sins. When I just heard about the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the Devil still visited me and tormented me. Then one day, I decided to put up a fight. I resolved myself to fight the Devil at all costs no matter what happened to me. Before, I used to readily admit my sins whenever I was accused by Satan. Whatever accusations the Devil threw at me, I used to admit them all, but one day I refused to give into Satan’s accusations. Even though Satan was not visible to my eyes, he was driving me crazy in my head. So I climbed up a nearby mountain determined to settle the score with Satan once and for all. And there I said to the Devil, “Today, we are going to settle this battle once and for all. If I lose, I will jump off this cliff to my death, but if you lose, you will stay away from me forever and never bother me again. Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist to bear my sins, and He shed His blood on the Cross for me. He was condemned and was put to death for all my sins in my place. I am therefore sinless. So I command you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, depart from me, Satan!”
At that moment the Devil surrendered and left me. I believed in the Lord’s Word that He had blotted out all my sins with His water and blood. I had thereby received the remission of my sins. Once I believed in this Word, no demon could do anything to me. There was no longer any sin left in my heart. Who would then come into this sinless heart of mine?
The Holy Spirit had come into my heart and dwells there. And the Holy Spirit always bears witness of the gospel of the water and the Spirit to me, saying to me, “Yes, you are indeed sinless. Jesus was baptized for you, He was crucified to death for you, and He was condemned for you. All your sins were passed onto Jesus when He was baptized, and therefore you no longer have any sin.” Like this, the Holy Spirit inside my heart bears witness of the gospel testifying that my faith is right.
Once you are born again, it is nothing more than a headache to listen to or read any sermons preached by someone who has not been born again. You will once again fall into confusion. Although Satan can no longer come into our hearts, he can still torment us from the outside. That is why God’s Church is indispensable to you. It’s because of God’s Church that faith can spring forth when you listen to the true Word of God, and you can stand up against Satan and overcome him. The Devil can no longer come into us. Although we have been born again, Satan can still try to lead us to some false prophets, so that we would not be able to feed on the true Word of God. The Devil can do this to us. Although he cannot lead us to hell, he can still try to drag us out of the Church and cause a great deal of trouble and suffering to us.
That is precisely why we must abide in God’s Church, where the born-again people of God are gathered together to worship Him. In this Church of God every leader, every pastor, every evangelist, and every saint is a born-again believer. Whenever anyone who has not been born again comes to the Church, the gospel of the water and the Spirit is preached to this person so that he would also be born again. God’s Church is therefore absolutely indispensable to all of us who have been born again. You must also preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to your family members, and pray to God for them and ask Him to save them also. God Himself will then work for you. All that we have to do is preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to them.
My fellow believers, now that you have been truly born again by believing in the Word, if you abide in God’s Church and listen to His Word carefully, then your faith will grow and you will not only be freed from Satan’s oppression but you will also live amid God’s blessings. As your soul grows in the Word of God and in His holy Church and as your actual life is also led by its guidance to offer your entire life for the sake of God’s gospel, you will receive abundant blessings from God and also be released from the Devil’s yoke.
However, if you continue to sit in a church whose members have not been born again even after you are saved, read any book that’s written by someone who has not been born again, or listen to any sermon preached by such false prophets, then you will once again fall into confusion and face an immense struggle. Your mind will be all confused, just as the earth had been without form and void, and darkness had been on the face of the deep before God created the light in this universe (Genesis 1:2). You will not be able to discern the Truth from the lies.
Have you been born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Do you really believe in this gospel? As we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, all of us ought to have a beautiful dream in God’s sight and ask Him to help us live a righteous life. And we must believe without fail that God will answer all our prayers and requests. If we believe in God, everything will come to pass exactly as we believed. Not all our prayers may be answered right away, but if we wait patiently trusting in God, He will answer all our prayers in His time. If we have a worthy dream in our hearts, and we pray to God to fulfill this dream for us trusting that He would answer us, then God will indeed answer us in His time. Perhaps it will take a month, several months, or even a year, but God will answer us for sure. This is how God works in our lives.
Many false prophets who have not been born again say that if you offer a lot of money to God, you will be blessed and will become a rich man. But this is nothing but a lie. Unless you believe in God with all your heart, you actually have nothing to do with God. You should believe in God with your sincere heart.
How do you believe in God then? Do you really believe with all your heart that Jesus Christ is the Savior who has delivered you through His water and blood? When we believe in this Savior with our hearts, God comes to us and demands to see the fruit of salvation in us, just as Jesus had looked for something to eat from the fig tree. We can then show Him our faith, saying to Him, “Here it is, Lord. I know and believe in Your Word with all my heart. Here is my faith.” The Lord may then say to us, “I see that you have faith that has saved you, but do you also have the faith to believe that I will answer all your prayers?” We can then say to Him, “Yes, Lord. I have such faith in you, even though it’s as small as a mustard seed.” And we can offer this faith as our fruit to Him.
A fig tree does not bear just a single fruit. Each and every branch bears fruit. But unlike most other fruit trees, which bear fruit after blossoming, the fig tree bears fruit directly from the sprout without blossoming. In fact, although a fig is commonly thought of as fruit, it is in fact a sepal embracing small flowers inside it. We can see its small seeds when the fig ripens and splits open to reveal them. So when you eat a fig, you are actually eating its sepal along with its seeds.
There used to be a huge fig tree behind our church building. If you had just broken off a branch and planted it in your yard, it would have rooted and grown into a whole new tree. It’s also quite easy to plant a fig tree; all you have to do is just break off a branch and plant it in the ground, and it will grow into a fig tree. Figs are not only sweet and tasty, but new fruit keeps growing well into late fall, so you can go back to the same tree and enjoy its figs time after time. There is a lesson that I am trying to draw here, and it is that you need to renew your faith continuously. You should have a new hope in your heart, make this hope known to God, ask for His help, and believe that God will answer your prayers and fulfill this hope. And you must always sustain this faith.
We will see all our dreams being fulfilled by God. We will all be blessed by Him. This is what every life of faith entails. Although you have been born again, do not think that this is the end of your truth-seeking life. After all, you must still have a dream in your heart. I am sure that we all have one kind of wish or another, whether it’s material or spiritual, and I am also sure that we all hope to live a righteous life and receive many blessings from God. Make these dreams of yours known to God. Pray to Him and ask for His help. Believe that God will make every dream come true. And live out your faith united with the Church. God will then fill all your needs in abundance according to His time.
There are many walks of life gathered here at this hour of worship, and I ask you all to have a dream. God is pleased when our hearts have faith in Him. We should therefore trust in God, pray to Him, and believe that this prayer will be answered. When we thus have this unwavering faith that God will answer us without fail, He is rejoiced and He will indeed answer our prayers on account of this faith. Do you believe in this? I also believe so.
How do you want to live the rest of your life? Do you want to serve God in your life as His righteous worker? If so, then from now on, you should no longer live to serve the Devil or the people of this world, but you should desire to serve God, preach His gospel, and receive His blessings in both body and spirit as His servant. Do you want to live such a life? If your heart yearns to live this kind of life, then God will surely bless you to live such a life.
Pray to God and make your request known to Him, for all your hopes and dreams will then come true. Take all your wholehearted desires to God in prayer. You can then all live the kind of life that you want to live by faith.
Hallelujah! Praise God!