“Then some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him; and they asked Him, saying: ‘Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies, and leaves his wife behind, and leaves no children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife; and dying, he left no offspring. And the second took her, and he died; nor did he leave any offspring. And the third likewise. So the seven had her and left no offspring. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be? For all seven had her as wife.’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken.’”
Whose God Has the Lord Become?
Warm greetings to you all! Today is Easter Sunday. We observe Easter Sunday to remember the resurrection of Jesus.
As we believe in the righteousness of Jesus, we have no doubt in His resurrection at all. Our Lord has indeed arisen from the dead. However, some people do doubt Jesus’ resurrection, saying in their own human thinking that they just can’t believe how it’s possible for anyone dead to be brought back to life again. Others do believe in Jesus’ resurrection, but they cannot believe in the resurrection of the saints to come.
Today, as Easter is upon us, some people would be happy while others would be sorrowful. That’s because those who have received the remission of sins by accepting the Lord in faith will be resurrected and live with Him forever when He returns to this earth, whereas those who otherwise remain sinful will partake in the second resurrection to be cast into the terrifying fire of hell for eternity.
We are not alone in celebrating the resurrection of Jesus this morning, as I’m sure that worldly churches are also observing this holiday. But even as countless churches all across the world celebrate Easter Sunday, I know for a fact that many pastors would say just a few words about the resurrection of Jesus and spend more time preaching about some social issues. There are many social activists in the Korean Christian community. Many of them are active in one or the other social activity, calling on Christians to respond to various social needs, from reviving the sagging economy to sending food to North Korea where many people are starving to death.
In reality, this is little more than a social movement that has nothing to do with the resurrection of Jesus or faith itself. What we ought to do on this Easter Sunday is take a moment to reflect on ourselves to examine our faith. We should thoughtfully examine ourselves to see what kind of faith we have, whether or not God is truly our God, and whether or not our relationship with God is proper.
Our Lord said here in today’s Scripture passage, “He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living” (Mark 12:27). He also said, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Mark 12:26). What exactly did our Lord mean when He said here that He is not the God of the dead but the God of the living? The Lord said clearly here that He is the God of the living; who are the living then?
In God’s sight, “the living” are those who have received the remission of their sins by believing in the righteousness of the Lord and will therefore participate in the first resurrection of the Lord. The Lord has fulfilled the gospel of salvation with His water and the blood, and all who believe in this gospel have been freed from all their sins and brought back to life. And it’s these very people whom God had in mind when He spoke of “the living.” In other words, the Lord is the God of those who have received the remission of their sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Just as God was the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac, He now is the God of all who have received the remission of sins by believing in the righteousness of God. In short, the Lord is the God of those who have inherited this true faith.
God is indeed the God of each and every one who believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The Lord has become the God of all who have received the remission of sins through their faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. God is not the God of the dead. He is only the God of the living. We have received the remission of sins and become God’s own children by believing in His gospel of righteousness, and God is the God of all of us who believe in this true gospel.
Jesus Christ is actually God and our Savior, and we have been freed from all our sins and brought back to life by believing in this Lord. Jesus Christ is the forever living God. Because Jesus is the forever living God, whoever believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit can always be saved perfectly. And all who are thus saved by faith are forever made God’s own people.
As God has become the God of all of us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, He always reveals Himself to us and guides us through His Word. Remembering on this Easter Sunday that God is the God of the living, we should examine ourselves to see if this God is indeed alive in our hearts. Put differently, your heart must have faith to believe that Jesus Christ arose from the dead, ascended to Heaven, and is alive even now as the forever living God. I am sure that your spiritual life will be benefit greatly if you can ensure that you have complete faith in this Truth on this Easter Sunday.
My fellow believers, we have received the remission of sins once and for all by believing in the righteousness of the Lord. Your soul and mine have been brought back to life from death. And the God in whom we believe in is not a dead God, but He is the forever living God. Therefore, our God is always the God of those who have received the remission of sins, reached their salvation, and been brought back to life by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The Lord is the God of whoever believes in His baptism and His blood.
Our Lord began His public life on this earth at the age of 30. To save the entire human race destined to die for its sins, the Lord carried out His work of salvation that would deliver all the condemned from their certain deaths. How did the Lord achieve this? When our Lord turned 30, He went looking for John the Baptist, the representative of mankind. God had promised to send Elijah in the Book of Malachi in the Old Testament, and the Bible said that John the Baptist was the predicted one to come in the spirit and power of Elijah (Malachi 4:5, Luke 1:17). Jesus was then baptized by this John the Baptist in the Jordan River to accept all the sins of the human race. The baptism of Jesus was received according to the will of God the Father. In fact, it was in obedience to the will of God the Father that Jesus had come to this earth as the Savior of humanity, received His baptism from John the Baptist, and died on the Cross. It was according to God the Father’s plan for the human race that His Son Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and then was crucified to death, and Christ carried out this work of salvation in obedience to the will of the Father.
“Destroy This Temple, and in Three Days I Will Raise It Up” (John 2:19)
Many people in Jesus’ days did not understand His Word as they were spiritually ignorant. For instance, when Jesus said to the people of Israel to destroy the Temple of Jerusalem and told them that He would raise it up in three days, they were shocked to hear this as they took it literally, thinking that Jesus was mad. After all, it had taken them no less than 40 years to build the Temple. However, when Jesus was speaking of the Temple, He was actually speaking of His own body. He was saying to them, “When you put My body to death, I will rise up from the dead again.” It was in this context of His death and resurrection that Jesus spoke of the destruction and rebuilding of the Temple.
Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist to fulfill the righteousness of God. He thus bore all the sins of the world and was crucified to death while shouldering them. By being baptized in the Jordan River, Jesus accepted all the sins of the human race once and for all, and by dying on the Cross and rising from the dead, He has saved you and me and everyone else who believes in this Truth from all the sins of the world once and for all.
Everyone was born with a sinful flesh by nature. That is why sorrow afflicts everyone. It is indeed heartbreaking when one thinks about his sins and his certain death. But it’s not for any other reason that everyone is sad, it’s because everyone was born in this world with a sinful and weak flesh. We cannot free ourselves from this flesh, for we are only human. It’s because the flesh of man cannot be freed from sin and weakness that people constantly worry about ensuring their physical survival, and it’s because of the sins that they commit with their bodies and hearts that they are sorrowful throughout their entire lifetime.
Like this, it’s impossible for us to be completely insulated from sin as long as we live in this world. So long as human beings continue to have the flesh, they are all bound to be always weak and full of shortcomings, committing and living in sin all the time. This is the tragedy of the human race. And it’s because of this that our Lord had come to this earth to deliver such wretched beings like us from all the sins of the world. Through the baptism He received in the Jordan River, our Lord bore all the sins of the world that we have ever committed and will ever commit in this world from the moment we were born to the day we die, and He was condemned for our sins in our place by shedding His blood to death on the Cross. And He then arose from the dead. It was to take upon all our sins once for all that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. The very fact that the fundamental sinless Lord was baptized by John the Baptist to blot out all the sins of everyone in this world is the witness testifying that the Lord accepted each and every sin of the entire human race once and for all. By thus being baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus personally accepted all our sins onto His own body and washed them all away.
What washes away all the sins of everyone in this world? It is spiritual water that washes them away. Fire cannot cleanse away all the filth in the sewer no matter how fierce and strong it may be. It may burn some of the filth, but it cannot completely cleanse it away without destroying any part of the sewer itself. In contrast, water can wash away all the filthiness of this world completely, just as the rain sweeps away all the filth of the streets and carries it out into the sea.
Similarly, the spiritual water of our Lord is indispensable to wash away all the filthy sins of the human race. Jesus was baptized precisely for this reason, to bear everyone’s sins and wash them away for all who believe in the Lord. That is why He was crucified to death, and then arose from the dead in three days.
Why Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?
Why did Jesus have to rise from the dead? Why did He have to be baptized by John the Baptist? Why did He have to die on the Cross? And why did Jesus have to be born on this earth? Although the questions are many, there is only one answer. It was none other than to raise you and me back to life from our deaths. The Lord did all these things in order to save our souls, for we had been bound to die for our sins. He had come to this earth to save you and me who were destined to die for our sins. And that is why He was baptized by John the Baptist, died on the Cross, and arose from the dead.
Through His baptism, the Lord bore all our sins. As a result, His death became our death and His resurrection became our resurrection. Why is this so? It is because Jesus had come to this earth to save us from the sins of the world and our certain death. It was to deliver you and me from all our sins and death that Jesus had come to this earth, and it was for this very same reason that He was baptized by John the Baptist, died on the Cross, and arose from the dead in three days. The incarnation of the Lord, His 33 years of life on this earth, His baptism, and His crucifixion were all for our deliverance from the sins of the world. And He arose from the dead to assure us of our salvation. The Lord had risen from the dead to raise you and me back from death. It was to save us from death and give us new life that the Lord was resurrected. The purpose of the Lord’s ministry of salvation on this earth was to deliver our souls that had been doomed to perish for our sins, and if Jesus had ended His ministry just with His baptism and His death on the Cross, then your life and mine would also have ended with Jesus’ death. Had Jesus not risen from the dead, there would have been no hope for us. However, Jesus did arise from the dead, and through His resurrection He has brought true salvation to all of us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, given us new life, and forever saved all our souls.
Jesus promised His resurrection by saying, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). The death of Jesus and His resurrection were all to bring us back to life from death. And it’s precisely so because He had been baptized by John the Baptist that He was crucified to death. The Roman soldiers tied Jesus up to the Cross and crucified Him. The Jews and their chief priests had delivered Him to the Roman soldiers. So these soldiers nailed Jesus’ hands and feet with huge nails, piercing through His arteries and drawing out all the blood from Jesus’ heart so that He would bleed to death.
Nearing His death, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34). Jesus was suffering indescribable pain. From noon to 3 o’clock, the whole world was engulfed in darkness. This signifies that God the Father had turned His back on His Son, saying, “Your death is for the sake of everyone in this world, for You have borne all the sins of this world through the baptism You received from John the Baptist. It’s You who must die now. Even though You are My Son, You must die because You have taken all the sins of the world upon Your body through Your baptism. So I cannot help You.” As God the Father turned His face away from His Son, darkness suddenly descended on Calvary and lasted for three hours at this site of Jesus’ execution, which was also called the Place of Skull.
With His last breath, Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” (John 19:30, Mark 15:37) and then died on the Cross. He had passed away on Friday, around 3 in the afternoon. That evening was the beginning of the Sabbath Day in Israel. The Sabbath Day lasted from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, and because the Jews placed a great deal of emphasis on observing this Sabbath Day, they could not keep it holy while leaving the dead body of Jesus hanging on the Cross. According to Judaism, the people of Israel could not do anything on the Sabbath Day, nor defile themselves in anyway. So it was necessary to lower the body of Jesus from the Cross as soon as possible before the Sabbath Day began.
Jesus was taken down from the Cross and buried in a tomb. His body was interned around sunset on Friday, and He arose from the dead in the morning of the Sunday. Just as He had promised, Jesus had risen from the dead in three days.
Mary Magdalene was the first witness the Lord’s resurrection. When she arrived at Jesus’ tomb very early in the morning, it was still dark, and she saw that the stone blocking the tomb had been removed and the tomb was open. Shocked by this, Mary did not know what to do, but she eventually mustered enough courage to look into the tomb. Inside the tomb, Mary saw the linen that had been wrapped around the body of Jesus neatly folded and placed where Jesus had been laid to rest. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Mary then broke down in tears and cried, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”
Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but did not know that it was actually Jesus. Jesus then said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, Mary said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (This is to say, Teacher), then Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God’” (John 20:14-17).
Hearing this, Mary ran out of the tomb full of shock and fear. She went to the disciples and told them that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her. So she said to them, “Something amazing has happened! Jesus has risen from the dead! I have just returned from His tomb, and I saw with my own eyes that He is alive! And He said that He was ascending to the Father.” Hearing this, Peter began to run to the tomb, wanting to see it for himself. When Peter reached the tomb and went inside, he indeed saw the linen that had been wrapped around Jesus’ body neatly folded and laid down, just as Mary had told him.
All the disciples of Jesus except Thomas believed in Jesus’ resurrection. So Thomas said to them, “I just cannot believe that Jesus has risen from the dead. I have not seen the resurrected Lord myself, and so stop saying this nonsense. I won’t believe until I see Him with my own eyes.”
While the disciples were hiding in fear in a locked house, Jesus appeared among them and said to them, “Are you still faithless?”
Then the Lord stood before Thomas and said to him, “Thomas, did you say that you won’t believe until you actually see Me? Well, here I am; your Lord is here. Look at the wounds on My hands. If you are still doubtful, look at My side and put your hand in My wounds.” Only after putting his hand to the side of Jesus did Thomas finally believe that the Lord had risen from the dead.
Our Lord then said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
Jesus had risen from the dead. He was brought back to life. And by rising from the dead, Jesus became not only the Savior of His disciples but also your Savior and mine. Having risen from the dead again, our Lord bore witness of His resurrection to the disciples. Coming to this earth as the Savior of the human race, God Himself bore all your sins and mine through His baptism; He was crucified to death for us while shouldering all these sins; and He arose from the dead. And in doing so, God has become the God of the living—that is, all who believe in the living God and His Word. This is the gospel of the water and the Spirit that we believe in. Our souls had been doomed to perish for our sins, but Jesus Christ has raised them back to life. Jesus is the God of all who have this living faith in Christ as their Savior and His work of salvation. He is the Lord of those who believe in God and His Word.
Our Lord not only blotted out all our sins when He came to this earth but He also rose up from the dead. And as Jesus is alive even now, He has become the everlasting God of all who believe in His righteousness. The Lord has already saved us all by being baptized, suffered the pain of crucifixion, and arose from the dead. He had borne the hatred of mankind during His 33 years of life on this earth, and this suffering was borne for none other than you and me, and for the sake of every human being in this world. But the resurrected Lord was the absolute forever-living God. And because our Lord is the Lord of resurrection, He could not sleep forever. He had been baptized by John the Baptist and crucified to death to blot out our sins, and this death was only momentary. It was to blot out none other than your sins and mine that the Lord was baptized.
The Lord Has Risen from His Death
Having risen from the dead, Jesus is now sitting at the right hand of God the Father. As the Creator and the Judge of every human being, He will judge each and every non-believer on the last day. But to all His believers, He will give new life and everlasting glory. As the Lord is alive, He has made it possible for whoever hears and believes in the gospel Word of God wholeheartedly to be saved; and to all who thus receives the remission of their sins by faith, He has sent the Holy Spirit into their hearts along with redemption. By being baptized by John the Baptist and crucified to death, the Lord has sealed the salvation of all who have received the remission of sins by recognizing and believing in this work of salvation with their hearts by saying to them, “You are My children. No matter how full of shortcomings your flesh is, no matter how weak you are in your flesh, and no matter how many sins you commit with your flesh, you are still My children.” He has sealed their hearts with the Holy Spirit of God. That is how our Lord has become the God of the living. He has become the God of all who have been saved from sin through the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Our Lord has risen from the dead. He has thereby brought back to life all of us who have been saved from sin, and He has given everlasting life to us. By coming to this earth, being baptized, dying on the Cross, and rising up from the dead, our Lord has turned us who believe in this righteousness of God into His children. Jesus is the living God who has given new life to all His believers, made it possible for them to receive the remission of sins, and transformed them into righteous people. He has become the God of all who believe in His righteousness, that is, the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Who is Jesus to us? He is the Savior of all who believe in the righteousness of God. Is Jesus the God of sinners or the God of the righteous? The Lord said, “I am not the God of the dead, but of the living. I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”
Was Abraham a sinner? Was Isaac a sinner? Was Jacob a sinner? Was Peter a sinner? Was the Apostle Paul a sinner? Were the twelve disciples of Jesus sinners? Although their old selves had been sinners before, they had become righteous men by believing in Jesus Christ as their Savior. Jesus had made them righteous and become their Savior, and so they all preached Jesus and His salvation all over the world. Jesus has therefore become neither the God of the dead nor the God of anyone who still has not received the remission of their sins, but He has become the God of the living who have received the remission of their sins.
My fellow believers, Jesus is the God of those who have received the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Whether you decide to believe in the righteousness of Jesus or not is entirely up to you. So I ask you to take a moment here and think about it very carefully. Ask yourself whether or not your sins were also passed onto Jesus when He was baptized. Although all your sins were indeed passed onto Jesus, they can disappear for real only if you recognize the righteousness of God with your heart. It’s then that your heart can have this real faith that saves you.
Even though there are many people in this world professing to believe in Jesus, there are extremely few people who have actually received the remission of their sins and been born again by faith. But God is not the God of anyone who has not been born again. He is instead the God of the born-again who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Jesus is none other than our own Savior, for we believe in this true gospel. By being baptized, He took away all our sins and washed them all away; He was condemned for our sins in our place; and He arose from the dead, thereby remitting away each and every sin of ours through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And He has become the God of all of us who believe in this Truth wholeheartedly. Jesus is the God of each and every born-again saint who believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
If you want to be remitted from all your sins, then you must believe in both the baptism of Jesus and His blood on the Cross with all your heart. Only then are your sins blotted out, and only then can you receive new life from God. Freed from all your sins, your soul will then be brought back to life just as Jesus arose from the dead. And He will become your own God. This God will be your God forever, for He is forever living. And He will help you at each and every turn.
Jesus is always the God of the living. He is the God of those who believe in His work of salvation. Jesus has given the remission of sins to all of us. He has blotted out all the sins of the entire human race by coming to this earth, being baptized, dying on the Cross in our place, and rising up from the dead. And this Jesus has become the God of all who believe in Him with their hearts. Therefore, all of us must believe wholeheartedly in the gospel of the water and the Spirit which Jesus gave to us.
No one can help but commit sin until the moment of death. That is why the true gospel of the water and the Spirit is the real Truth of our salvation. And you can become righteous just by believing in this Truth. With the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to reach salvation. It is only by believing with your heart that you are made a righteous person, not by doing any good deeds. As I mentioned earlier in the sermon that your joy and sorrow depends on your faith, those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are indeed facing a different outcome from the fate awaiting non-believers, for the former will be rejoiced, while the latter will face nothing but sorrow.
Whoever Looks towards the Gospel of the Water and the Spirit Will Be Saved from All Their Sins
In the Old Testament, when Moses was leading the people of Israel in the wilderness, they complained to him about the lack of food and water and accused him of leading them into the wilderness only to have them starve to death. As Moses was deeply hurt by this, God was provoked to wrath and sent fiery serpents into the Israelites’ camp to punish them. Fiery serpents appeared from everywhere in the desert and crawled all over the camp, biting the Israelites indiscriminately. Everyone bitten by the serpents was dying from the venom.
But Moses prayed to God to forgive the people of Israel for speaking against him, and upon hearing this prayer, God said to Moses, “Put a bronze serpent high on a pole and make the people look at this bronze serpent. Tell them that whoever looks up at the bronze serpent will be healed and saved from the venom of the fiery serpents to gain new life.” So Moses made a bronze serpent as instructed by God and set it high on a pole and planted it in the desert. He then shouted out to the people of Israel, “Whoever has been bitten by these fiery serpents should look up at this bronze serpent! All who do so will be healed and be saved!”
Bitten by these fiery serpents, the people of Israel were moaning in pain everywhere. But now they heard their leader Moses telling them to look up at this bronze serpent. Moses kept saying that if they looked up at the bronze serpent, they would all be healed from the venom of these fiery serpents. All those bitten by the fiery serpents were completely helpless, yet each of them reacted differently when they heard Moses’ announcement.
Some people said, “My leg is all swollen from the bite and I am dying from this pain, and so how can I be saved just by looking up at that stupid bronze serpent? I must be hallucinating to hear such nonsense!” Those who were stubborn did not look up at the bronze serpent to the very end, saying, “It’s already hopeless for me! I will not be deceived by such empty words into looking at that bronze serpent. I would rather just die than be fooled by this kind of deception.”
Others, on the other hand, did lunge at the chance to save themselves. Even though their legs were all swollen from this toxic venom and it seemed as though they had no hope to save themselves, they still nevertheless looked up at the bronze serpent, clinging to Moses’ promise and thinking to themselves, “What is there to lose? Even if Moses is lying, I should look at that bronze serpent while I still can.” And the moment they looked up at the bronze serpent, they felt a strange sensation. Their legs had been so swollen that their clothing no longer fitted, but right away their swelling began to subside and they returned back to normal. So those who listened to Moses and looked up at this bronze serpent shouted out, “This is amazing! All that I did was just look at that bronze serpent as Moses annnounced, and now I am completely healed! It’s a miracle!”
They then insisted that everyone else around them look up at the bronze serpent, saying, “Don’t die in vain! Look up at that bronze serpent on the pole!”
Some people then said, “There is no way that I am looking at that bronze serpent! I don’t believe in this nonsense that Moses is saying!”
“But look at us! We have looked up at the bronze serpent and we are now completely healed! Just look at that bronze serpent for goodness sake!” The swelling in their legs were indeed all gone. Even so, some Israelites still kept refusing to look up at that bronze serpent, saying, “I would rather die than look at that bronze serpent. My neck is so swollen that I can hardly move. Besides, I don’t believe in what Moses said.”
Some Israelites’ necks had swollen up so much from the venom that it was indeed very painful for them to turn their necks. But those healed from the venom said to them, “Take just one look at that bronze serpent, even it breaks your neck!” Despite this pleading, some people were so stubborn that they closed their eyes deliberately, and so they had to be coerced into looking at the bronze serpent by prying open their eyes by force. And at the very moment they saw the bronze serpent, they were all healed from this toxic venom.
You surely know this that the bronze serpent signifies our Savior Jesus Christ who came by the water and the blood to save all of us from the venom of sin. This is the power of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Satan blows sin into human beings and makes them commit sin from the day they are born to the day they die, but our Lord bore all these sins by being baptized in the Jordan River, and He was condemned to death on the Cross in our place. It was to wash away our sins that He was baptized; it was to defeat Satan that He was crucified to death; and it was to become the living God of all His believers and save them that He was resurrected.
Therefore, if people look at Jesus’ incarnation on this earth, His bearing of all their sins through His baptism, and His death on the Cross, and believe in Him with their hearts, then they will be saved from all their sins, just as the Israelites were completely healed from the venom of these fiery serpents when they looked at the bronze serpent on the pole. And they will as a result become God’s own children. Salvation is reached only by believing in Jesus with your heart, not by your own work. It’s only by faith that you can receive new life from God and become the living and the righteous in His sight. After all, does the Bible not show us that the people of Israel in the wilderness were saved from this deadly venom of the fiery serpents when they just looked up at the bronze serpent?
All of us were already bitten by Satan, spreading his poison all over our bodies. As the epidemic of sin has been passed on from one generation to the next, everyone’s soul is thus perishing because of sin. However, our Lord came to this earth to remove all this toxic venom, accepted this venom by being baptized by John the Baptist, and let His own body be crucified to death, thus defeating the Devil completely.
And God the Father raised His Son back to life. The Bible says that Jesus was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). It’s because of our sins that Christ was wounded, and it’s because of His stripes that we have been healed. We had in both our hearts and body every sin that Satan blew into us. However, when our Lord Jesus came to this earth, He bore on His own body all the sins that Satan had blown into us, and to blot out all these sins, He gave up His body on the Cross and was crucified to death while shouldering them. He had died along with our sins to blot them all out.
It’s written in the Bible, “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56). We believe that Jesus took upon all our sins by being baptized and died on the Cross to pay off all the wages of our sins. And because we believe with all our hearts that Jesus was crucified to death for our sins, we have no more sin, now and forever.
We also believe that Jesus rose up from the dead to raise us His believers back to life. None other than this is the faith of resurrection. This is the faith of the living and the resurrected. Jesus has become the God of all who have reached their salvation by believing in this Lord with their hearts. That is why Jesus said, “He [God] is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living.” Jesus has indeed become the God of the living. In other words, He has become the God of all who believe in Him as the God of salvation, the living God who came to this earth and blotted out each and every sin with His water and blood. And because Christ is the living God and the God of all His believers, He always helps His people. Even now, Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the throne of God the Father
While we carry on with our lives in this world, sometimes we feel as though God is dead or asleep. Even though we have been saved by our faith to reach Heaven, there still are times when we feel all alone in this world, as though God has saved us only to abandon us. But this is absolutely not the case. God is not the God of the dead but of the living, and in His sight we are not the dead but the saved people of the living God. Moreover, God neither slumbers nor sleeps, but He keeps you as the apple of His eye (Psalm 17:8, 121:4). God therefore listens to every prayer of His people and helps them all. Just as we believe that God is alive, so are we also alive.
The Lord is the God of all who have received the remission of sins. He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. Anyone who has not been remitted from all their sins is a dead person. Even though countless Christians celebrate the coming of Jesus as their Savior and shout out hallelujahs, many of them are dead as they neither know the true gospel nor have received the remission of their sins, and therefore God is not their God. Consequently, their faith and their worship are all in vain.
In contrast, those who have received the remission of their sins have Jesus as their God, for they believe wholeheartedly in the gospel of the baptism of the Lord and His Cross. In God’s sight, whoever has received the remission of their sins, and therefore has Jesus in his heart as his Savior, is someone who believes in God’s righteousness. Such people are God’s very own people, the righteous and the living. And as this God who has saved us from all our sins is alive even now, He listens to our prayers and answers them all without fail.
On this Easter, what all of us must hold dear in our hearts is that God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. We must never forget this Truth. The Lord is not anyone else’s God but the God of all those who have received the remission of their sins. God is your God and my God, not the God of any sinner. He is the God of the saved. He is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, and the God of you and me.
My fellow believers, the living faith is invariably one that’s placed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And all of us must always live by this awakened faith. How about you then? Have you truly received the remission of sins into your heart? If you have indeed received the remission of sins into your heart by believing in the baptism of Jesus and His blood on the Cross with all your heart, then I ask you to confess this faith with your lips. You ought to recognize that you are no longer a sinner but a righteous person. What are you then? Are you a sinner or a righteous person? If you really believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then you are unquestionably a righteous person.
It is on account of your faith that God has become your God. This God is the living God. So on this Easter let us all reaffirm our faith once again and put all our trust in the living God, believing wholeheartedly that this God is our God, trusting in Him no matter what happens, asking Him for His help, and living by this unwavering faith until the Lord returns.
My fellow believers, no matter what kind of hardship comes your way, all you need to overcome it is your wholehearted faith. Believe with all your heart that God is not the God of the dead but of the living. God is indeed your God and mine. Sinners, in contrast have nothing to do with the resurrection of Jesus, even if He were to rise from the dead a hundred times. Actually, non-believers have nothing to do with any aspect of Jesus whatsoever. Just as it does not matter to you whether someone else has a million or a billion dollars in his bank account, so the righteousness of Jesus is irrelevant to these sinners. That’s because they do not believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with their hearts, even though they must all receive the remission of sins by believing in the baptism of Jesus and His blood on the Cross. Therefore neither the birth of Jesus, nor His baptism, nor His death on the Cross, nor His resurrection, nor His ascension to Heaven to sit at the right hand of the throne of God the Father, nor the fact that He is alive has anything to do with them.
Indeed, all these things are relevant only to the born-again saints. Jesus’ resurrection was for our own resurrection. He was pierced because of our sins. He was baptized to bear our sins. And He is now sitting at the right hand of the throne of God the Father in all His glory to show us that He has made His believers God’s own children, and that He will also glorify them one day. To believe in all these things is to possess living faith.
God has given us this true salvation through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. So I ask you all to possess this true faith. In this age and time, you will perish unless you have this true gospel and this true faith. You will also perish without God’s Church. Even though you have received the remission of sins, if you stop listening to the Word of God even for a month, you will begin to perish in both body and spirit.
There is more to your life of faith than just attending worship service and listening to the Word of God. That is not all there is to worship. In the Old Testament, when the people of Israel were in the wilderness, our God brought down manna from the heavens for their daily bread. Just as God had brought down manna, so does He also bring down the bread of life to us whenever we are gathered together, whether it’s on the Lord’s Day or any other day.
The hour of worship is the hour of spiritual nourishment. We need to change our conception of worship as well. Before we were born again, we used to think that it was we who were offering worship to God. But worship is not just about us offering something to God. It’s not all about asking God to accept our devotion, praise, worship, and thanksgiving. Now that we have received the remission of sins, we ought to change the way we think of worship and realize that instead of just us offering something to God, we are actually receiving our daily blessings from God.
It’s written in the Lord’s Prayer,
“Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us day by day our daily bread” (Luke 11:2-3).
Every day God provides for all the needs of His people. Whenever we are gathered together, He gives us our daily bread for both our bodies and spirits, and we receive from God everything we need to live on this earth on a daily basis. It’s God who provides for all our needs.
We should therefore change the way we worship God as well. Our everything has changed since receiving the remission of sins, just as the Bible says, “Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). From our faith to our Church, our souls, and our status, everything has now changed.
The Bible says that the righteous shall live by faith. We must therefore live by faith, listening to the Word of God diligently and overcoming this hellishly difficult world by faith. Because God is the God of us the saved, it’s possible for us all to live out our faith. So I ask you to cherish God’s Church. If you instead drift away from God’s Church in this difficult age and time, you will face disastrous consequences.
Do you think that your life is yours to live, and that you have much to offer to the Church? This is never the case. Far from just giving, there is much to be gained from the Church both for your body and spirit. It’s not just you serving the Lord, but it’s actually the Lord who is serving you. Now that we have received the remission of our sins, there is much that needs to be changed, including the way we think about our worship and service. Above all, I admonish you all to live by believing in the Word of God.
In the past, I used to think that I was helping God. But I eventually realized that it wasn’t I or any other saints that were serving the Lord, but it was the Lord who was serving the saints. That’s why God’s Church is so indispensable. Whoever has received the remission of sins must lead his life of faith inside the Church without fail. This is not an option for you. Nor is it something that I am saying just to draw more members to the Church. Rather, it is an absolutely indispensable requirement that you must meet for your own good: If you want to sustain your spiritual welfare, then you must abide in God’s Church.
No one who has received the remission of sins can share fellowship with any sinners. For the righteous to attend any church filled with only sinners is to poison themselves. The more you worship in such a false church, the more venom you will swallow only to perish in the end for your sins. In contrast, if you come to the Church of the redeemed and listen to the Word of God, your heart will be revived. With your heart restored, you will flourish in everything you do. And with your spiritual eyes open, you will see everything clearly. If you heart perishes, your everything will also decay.
Today is Easter, and eating boiled eggs has become a Christian tradition. I am sure that plenty of boiled eggs have been prepared for us today. We will enjoy them after this worship service is over. Some brothers may eat two or more eggs, and I myself can easily eat a couple of eggs. Of course, I will eat even more if I am given more. But if there are not enough eggs to go around, I will just have half an egg. I don’t know when and where this tradition began in Christianity. I just guess that the boiled and decorated eggs signify the resurrection of Jesus, because a new life begins when an egg hatches.
On this Easter, all of us should seek and receive the true bread of faith for our souls and our hearts. Let us therefore trust in the living God dwelling in our hearts, believe in the truth that He is our own God, renew our strength from Him, and live faithfully for the rest of our lives.