The New Life Mission

Sermons

Subject 22 : The Gospel According to LUKE

[Chapter 2-11] (Luke 2:25-35) Jesus Becomes the Signpost For Rising and Falling

(Luke 2:25-35)
“And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Baby Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:
‘Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation
Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.’
And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, ‘Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.’”
 
 
With the arrival of Christmas Season, we are celebrating Jesus who came down to this earth about 2,000 years ago. Just as Jesus was conceived inside Mary’s womb about 2,000 years ago, Jesus was born inside the hearts of you and me who are living today in this era. How wonderful is this Truth, and how special is this God’s love? Mary was able to take the Baby Jesus into her heart by accepting the Word of God delivered to her by an angel. Likewise, it was possible for us to prepare a place for the Lord inside our hearts because of our earnest desire to wait for the Lord’s love.
Right now, we are living in a world 2,000 years after the coming of the Lord. But because the Word of the Lord is miraculously efficacious as ever, it enters inside the hearts of those who believe and sits inside our hearts at all times by making them bear the Lord inside of them. Even right now at this moment, the Lord is being born inside the hearts of those who accept and believe in the Word of God just like Mary. If not by the omniscient and omnipotent power of God, how could something like this happen? I believe it is the power of God.
Approximately 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem, there was man named Simeon. This man was waiting for God’s salvation. This man was a person of devout faith in God and received a prophecy of the Holy Spirit, stating, “He would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:26). But after Jesus was born, that is, on the eighth day after Mary had given birth to the Baby Jesus, Mary brought the Child to the temple and offered Him to God and to offer sacrifice. Right at that moment, Simeon entered the Temple led by the Holy Spirit, and he got to see Jesus Christ’s mother of the flesh, Mary, bringing the Baby Jesus on that very moment.
Simeon took the Baby Jesus up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32). Blessing like so, he then said, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also)” (Luke 2:34-35). Because Simeon, who believed in God, had the Spirit of God inside him, he was able to recognize the Baby Jesus born on this earth in the image of a human. He then said, “The fall and rising of many in Israel as well as the entire humankind depend on this Child Jesus.” He was able to speak these words because this man named Simeon recognized the Baby Jesus properly and realized things regarding the Baby Jesus properly.
Actually, there are many people who suffer destruction because of Jesus. Even though Jesus truly does not want people to suffer destruction, He did say that He was the stumbling stone. So the Bible says to us, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel.” It is said that even today, many people will suffer destruction because of Jesus, but for what reason do you think this happens? It is because although God the Father had sent Jesus down to this earth and promised to give all the blessings to those who believe in and follow the works accomplished by Jesus, He had made up His mind to send to hell those who do not believe in Jesus. By creating the universe and everything in it, God became the Master of them all. Moreover, He had created people according to the image of God and sent Jesus down to this earth in order to save us human beings who are sinners from those sins. Then, Jesus eradicated all our sins and gave salvation to those who believe in the work accomplished by Jesus Christ.
However, people who do not accept and believe such grace of Jesus will in fact, be judged by Jesus Christ. This is why the believers of God came to be thankful for the Baby Jesus having come down to this earth in human flesh. We, the creations of God, are all so meager existences. Nevertheless, when I think about the Lord having had to come down to this earth for us who are so meager, I am unable to express all the emotions that surge within me because I am all so thankful for the Lord’s such great love.
People in this world try to go to Heaven only through their efforts without believing in Jesus. Hence, those who do not believe in Jesus suffer destruction. People tried to go to Heaven with their own power, but God the Father sent Jesus down to this earth so that He could save the people and have them enter Heaven. Therefore, Heaven is a place where you can enter only if you have some sort of a relationship with Jesus. But, how can someone who does not believe in the Lord have anything to do with Jesus? If people were to go on living continuing to believe in themselves, with the illusion that they will receive a good compensation just by their will and efforts to live kindly, and if it were indeed possible for them to go to the Kingdom of Heaven by doing so, then why do you think God the Father sent down Jesus into this world?
Dear fellow believers, if you don’t believe in Jesus, you will go to hell. God the Father had already decided to send to hell those who do not believe that Jesus was born on this earth in order to save all the people of the world, that He has blotted out all their sins, and that He has done so to turn them into the sons of God by saving them perfectly. For this reason, people who had trusted only in their power will, in the end, suffer destruction and fall through the sending of Jesus down to this earth by God the Father.
The Bible states, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). It is because God the Father had made it so that one can receive salvation just by believing in Jesus. For this reason, all the people who try to go to Heaven by rejecting Jesus or not believing in Him, or want to go to Heaven on their own resolution without even wholeheartedly trying to know the truth that Jesus has become their Savior, will fall due to Jesus’ coming into this world.
 
 
What Did a Man Named Simeon Say about Jesus?
 
Simeon said, “This Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against” (Luke 2:34). If Jesus hadn’t come to this earth and hence the good go to Heaven and the wicked go to hell, what would have happened to this world? If Jesus hadn’t come to this earth, people who had lived kindly would have all gone to Heaven. In thinking like this, someone who was foolish and weak like me would not have been able to go to Heaven. However, because Jesus did come down to this earth, those who couldn’t go to Heaven on their own are able to go to Heaven, and those who had tried to go to Heaven on their own are sent to hell. That was the gist of what Simeon was stating.
Thus, people who do not believe in Jesus will suffer destruction in the end because of Jesus. It is said that Simeon “was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25). This precisely means that Jesus is the Consolation of God and the salvation of God.” As for those who truly want to receive salvation before God, their fall and rising depends on whether or not they believe in and follow the Lord with their heart. It also means that God the Father has already placed in advance those who do not believe in Jesus outside the Kingdom of Heaven. Also, among people who believe in God, those who believe in the Lord with their own obstinacy, those who believe by mixing up Christianity with Confucianism, and those who struggle to go to Heaven by adding on their own virtuous deeds on to the faith of believing in Jesus will all suffer destruction and go to hell. In another words, people like that will suffer the curse beset by Jesus and go to hell, rather than being in the grace of great love bestowed by Jesus.
Simeon also said, “Among many Israelites, there are those waiting for the Consolation, but because of this Child, they will fall and rise.” Saying they will suffer destruction because of Jesus means the same thing as dying twice. It is because Jesus said, “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).
Also, when we read the Word in the Book of Revelation chapter 21, it is said, “The cowardly and the unbelieving shall perish.” Let us take a look at the Book of Revelation chapter 21, verse 8. As it is said, “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death,” the type of people who will suffer destruction is precisely the type of people who are afraid of the Lord. It is also written, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). It means that people fear because they haven’t been able to perfectly accept the salvation that the Lord has fulfilled.
If you accept God’s love perfectly, there is nothing of which to be afraid. If you believe in Jesus being your Savior and having blotted out all your sins, then you will no longer be afraid of God. However, the cowardly are afraid because they know they will perish because of Jesus. Even though people may believe in Jesus, those who do not believe that Jesus has completely cleansed their sins by bearing all those sins through the baptism on our behalf will perish. Once they perish, they will feel ashamed and there will be no rewards. They will only be humiliated by people.
Whatever one does, there is always a loser and a winner in this world. No matter how close a race may be, by the smallest margin, a winner will always be decided. A winner may feel high in spirit, but a loser has nothing to say. Those who continue to have fear in their heart despite believing in Jesus will perish without exception. People who do not believe in Jesus will go to hell, and they shall have a part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. This was called the second death. It means that anyone whose name is not written in the Book of Life will enter into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. In short, people whose name isn’t written in the Book of Life will have no choice but to become the fallen.
As I repeat, people who are afraid of Jesus will go to hell, and those who do not believe in Him will also go to hell. To believe in Jesus is never a difficult thing to do. All one has to do is to believe in Jesus with one’s heart. Jesus has cleansed all our sins by receiving the baptism from John the Baptist at the Jordan River. By getting nailed to the Cross, He has gladly received the judgment for our sins. Because Jesus has become our Savior like so, we no longer have sins. The sins inside your heart will disappear only if you believe in this fact.
To believe in the Lord is actually to believe in the work accomplished by Jesus. This is something very simple. For example, someone is bringing out to a guest some boiled water that has a brown tint. Because this person who had boiled this water and prepared the cup of tea himself, he would know that it is tea, and the guest who will be taking the cup and drinking it will know that it is tea just by the scent and color of that drink. Moreover, if the host informs the guest that it is tea, the guest will be convinced that it surely is tea.
Just the same, all we have to do is to believe in the Lord like that. Because Jesus has saved us, He is none other than our Savior. When Jesus turned thirty after having come to this earth, He received the baptism from John the Baptist and cleansed our sins completely. All we have to do is to believe in this with the heart. The Lord has cleansed the sins of all the sinners in this world completely. When Jesus received the baptism, He completely took on all the sins of the world. By completely taking on the sins like so and receiving the judgment not for His sins but for those sins that we have committed all the while nailed to the Cross, He has made us sinless. To believe in this fact is the true faith.
Dear fellow believers, do you believe in Jesus? Yes, I am sure that now you believe in Him through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Then, how do you know that if you believe in Jesus you will receive salvation? God the Father sent down His Son Jesus to this earth as the Savior, and Jesus washed away the sins of people by having taken on all the sins of the world by receiving the baptism from John the Baptist as He turned thirty. Because Jesus has taken on all sins through the baptism, there aren’t any sins in us. Without even asking us, He did that work by Himself. Right at this moment, Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God the Father as the Judge. At the end of all these sufferings, Jesus became our Savior. This is the Truth, and to believe in this Truth is the faith that you all must possess.
In Buddhism, they seek to “cultivate the way,” and this so-called ‘the way’ fundamentally means to enlighten oneself of the path toward Heaven. Cultivating the way doesn’t mean to attain the ability to levitate oneself. Rather, it means to gain answers to the questions: “Why was I born; between Heaven and hell, which path must I choose; and how can I enter Heaven for sure?”
In Buddhism, it is said that people do penance by sitting down facing a wall and meditating in order to rid themselves of the so-called 108 agonies that originated from their carnal desires existing in their heart as a method of being enlightened of ‘the way.’ However, one of the monks in Korea once wrote a book titled, “How Can I Gain the Way When There Is None?” There fundamentally has to be ‘the way’ in Buddhism in order for a person to realize it. But because one cannot discover the so-called ‘way’ through ascetic practices in Buddhism, in the end, one will not be able to achieve that enlightenment.
The Bible states, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). God the Father sent His Son down to this earth and had Him save us human beings; those who believe in this Son. He promised that He would give them Heaven and take them as His children if they were to believe in this Truth of salvation in which Jesus Christ, who is God, took on all the sins of humankind and received the judgment on their behalf.
To believe in Jesus is in turn to believe in God. Jesus is the Son of God, and He is the God who created us. The Creator created us on this earth, and He has remitted and saved us from all the sins that we commit as we live in this world until death because of the devil’s temptations. By blotting out all your sins and mine, He has turned us into the righteous. All we have to do is to believe this.
We don’t need to struggle to live only virtuously. Who in the world would commit a sin just because someone has told him to commit sins? Also, is there anyone who will not commit sins when he is told not to commit sins? We cannot fundamentally do things according to our own wishes. Will we not commit sins just because someone has told us not to commit sins? Because we are all so weak, we are beings that cannot do things according our own wishes. Only if God had given us from the beginning the power to not commit sins, we would not be committing sins. But if in fact God has given us the power to have no choice but to commit sins, then we cannot but be committing sins.
However, God said, “You cannot but commit sins. Therefore, I have saved you by sending My Son to you. So, My Son has become your Savior. Do you believe in My Son? If you believe, you will receive salvation. But if you do not believe, you will go to hell.” Dear fellow believers, having faith is something really simple. Believing in Jesus who is the Savior as the Savior is in turn faith. If you do have such faith, then you go to Heaven, but if you don’t have such faith, then you go to hell. So, I wish for you all to go to Heaven by becoming those who believe in Him by all means. If you rely on your own strength, and if you stay obstinate and practice your own virtuous deeds to enter Heaven, then you will become afraid of God, and in the end, you will go to hell.
Dear fellow believers, I want you to become those who will go to Heaven and be prosperous by believing in Jesus. By receiving the baptism, Jesus has completely cleansed our sins. He has taken on all our sins and eradicated them completely. Dear fellow believers, do you have sins right at this moment? No, you do not. Faith is to believe in Jesus having taken away all the sins of the world. I want you to become the faithful. Unbelievers cannot but fall into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. People whose names aren’t written in the Book of Life will fall into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, and this is said to be the second death. It is written, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). People who do not believe in the fact that Jesus is their Savior will fall into the fire that shall never be quenched. This precisely is what it means to fall.
Although every human being has the potential to both rise and fall at birth, if one does not believe in Jesus before one’s death, the person will have no choice but to perish, that is, to fall into hell. What if there is someone who falls despite having believed in Jesus? Then, that person is someone who does not believe in the salvation that Jesus has cleansed all the sins of the world with His baptism and blood, and the person will go to hell. For this reason, we must believe. Do you believe in Jesus having blotted out all your sins? Truly, you have no choice but to believe.
One day, I was delivering the gospel to a young sister who was suffering from mysophobia. She said, “Please wait a moment. I apologize,” and then went to the washroom. She came back having cleaned her hands. But then, within less than three minutes, she went back to clean her hands again. I came to think that the sister became mysophobic because she couldn’t cleanse the sins she had committed. Anyway, without any mishap, I finished delivering the gospel to her. Then, I asked, “Jesus has taken away all your sins. Do you still have sins?” And she answered, “No, I do not.” Then, after having thought for a considerable period of time, she asked me a question. What she asked was whether or not I can swear by the name of God, that there is no sin. So, I gave her my word right there in front of her.
I said, “By the name of God who has created the heavens and the earth and saved me, I give you my word that the Lord has taken away all my sins and your sins, and that they no longer exist.” Just then, the mysophobic woman, with her eyes wide open, asked me if it is indeed true three times. After I had firmly told her, “You no longer have sins for Jesus has truly taken on all your sins by receiving the baptism and vicariously received the judgment by getting hanged to the Cross,” her mysophobia disappeared as if it had been cleansed. She used to go to a psychiatric hospital because of her condition. But just as she had heard the Word inside the Church, her mysophobia disappeared. The sister had mysophobia because of sin. She had become so because she had been thinking that she has been committing sins repeatedly because of others even though she had tried not to commit sins.
Like so, even though the people of the world may not seem to have mysophobia like the sister who washes her hands and feet, it could be that their hearts might have mysophobia. After Pilate ordered the crucifixion of Jesus, he washed his hands and stated that he has no sin over the verdict. He said, “I want you to be the ones to bear that sin entirely. I wanted release Him, but did you not tell me to kill Him through crucifixion?”
It is said that Jesus came to this world and bore your burden and mine on His back. This also means that He will entirely bear on His back the sins of all those who will be born in the future, too. You must also know that people who believe in this fact will have their name be written in the Book of Life.
Dear fellow believers, when you realize the Truth, you become free. However, by any other religion, you will not be able to realize this Truth. It is because there is no fundamental ‘Truth’ that a person must realize as mentioned earlier. You must know the anecdote about the Buddhist monk Won Hyo long ago. While traveling toward India to attain the Way, He slept inside a cave one day. When he woke up at midnight, he became so thirsty that he drank some water in a bowl beside him. He then fell asleep shortly afterwards. As he woke up the next morning, he was surprised to find out that the thirst quenching water he had drunk the night before had been of a human skull. He vomited out all that was in his stomach first. But after that, he was enlightened with a thought, “Why did I not feel sick when I drank the water last night?” He became enlightened - that everything is determined by his mind. So, he stopped traveling toward India, and returned back to Korea as a man who had attained the highest state of enlightenment.
All things in this world aren’t fundamentally filthy, but rather, it is people’s hearts that are filthy as it is written,
“The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). As a person sees a certain object, if the person thinks that it is filthy then it becomes something filthy, but if the person thinks that it is clean, then it becomes something clean. Filthy things of this world will disappear only when we first clean our hearts through which we view objects.
But, is it easy to possess such clean eyes of the heart? It is not. Precisely because there is a limit to our putting in efforts to do so, we must believe in Jesus as our Savior. We must believe in Him to be recognized before God the Father and to enter Heaven where there is a limitless amount of joy. However, liars who do not believe in Jesus, the wicked, the abominable, murderers, the sexually immoral, drunkards, and also idolaters will in the end have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone for they will not be written in the Book of Life.
Dear fellow believers, do you lie often? To lie is a sin. You can go to hell just by telling a single lie. Only those who don’t even have the slightest amount of sin can go to the Kingdom of Heaven. Dear fellow believers, who among you thinks you can go to Heaven and enjoy eternal life? All of humankind cannot go to Heaven even though it is the Lord’s wish. Only those who believe in Jesus sent by God the Father get to go to Heaven.
Jesus, who was sent by God the Father, actually did come to this world. Since the coming of the Savior, over 2,000 years has passed. Then, by what standard was the method for counting years all throughout the world determined? It is said that the Western calendar originated from Dionysius Exiguus (c. 470 – c. 544), a monk born in Scythia (now Russia). In the past when Rome had conquered the entire world, the ruling class thought that they had to unite all the subject states by setting up a specific calendar. So the Emperor of Rome gathered up all the scholars from the subject states and asked them which point in time would be appropriate as the starting year of the calendar. It was because at the time when Rome was in control of the entire known world of the western hemisphere, Rome had killed off all the rebels in each country but had let the scholars and artists live, instead of killing them. As a result, the historians answered and made a request to set the year when Jesus the Creator—who had become the Savior of humankind by having taken on the sins of all people, died on behalf of us all human beings, and come back to life—came as the starting point of the calendar. Hence now, people of the entire world are using the birth of Jesus as the starting point of the Western calendar year.
Jesus having come to us is true and Jesus having blotted out all our sins is also true. To believe in fact is faith. The Lord Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). Do you believe in that Truth? Do you believe in Jesus having blotted out all your sins and mine?
 
 
If You Possess Such Faith, Your Names Will Be Written in the Book of Life
 
Dear fellow believers, what do you think hell will be like? Hell is a place that we can never think lightly of. If Heaven is place always overflowing with indescribable joy, then hell is a place that is the exact opposite of Heaven. People often imagine that hell exists underground. Like earth, hell is also a real place. It is because God made it. Hell is a place that is impossible for you to get out of once you fall into it. Dear fellow believers, if you do not want to go to hell where there is only agony and permanent chaos, you must believe in the work that God has done. You must look up to it and believe it to the end. If God has saved me, then I will be receiving salvation. If God has not saved me, then I will not be receiving salvation. Our will, efforts and also the virtuous deeds that we carry out will have no affect what so ever in the end on our salvation.
Because Jesus has saved us, we believe in Jesus, and because of this, our names got written in the Book of Life for sure. Sinners will fall into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone because they lie that there still remain sins. They cannot profess the Truth because they don’t believe in Jesus who has blotted out all their sins. Not because of ethical lies but because of lies before God, they are bound to hell. Clearly, we have no sin because Jesus has taken on the sins of all humankind by receiving the baptism. People who do not have such faith ask in return, “How can you say that all the sins of this world have disappeared through Jesus if in fact you are continuing to sin even right now?” Not being able to believe like that is precisely lying. People who cannot believe in Jesus being their Savior cannot but lie.
God has clearly blotted out all our sins. From God’s view, all the sins have disappeared for certain. We must believe in this fact. The lie is to say that God hadn’t blotted out all our sins, merely from a human perspective. Such a person shall have his or her part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. This is the second death.
Dear fellow believers, do not lie before God. There truly are numerous people who lie often in this world, but at least before God, never speak lies. People who do not believe in Jesus according to the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit cannot but lie before God. They say, “If you believe in Jesus, you should live virtuously. Even if you believe in Jesus, there still are sins. We always commit sins; sins always exist.”
There are two types of people among those who believe in Jesus: One type of people is those who lie to God, and the other is those who profess the Truth. People who lie to God must repent and turn back from their evil ways. They must repent and believe in the Lord, saying, “Dear God, I have done wrong. God has blotted out all my sins. I lack true faith, so please grant me a much greater faith.” With just a single strand of true faith, God will see that faith because His eyes are sharp, and He will send you to His Kingdom of Heaven. Do you believe?
Do you want to go to Heaven, or do you want to go to hell? I yearn to go to Heaven. Those yearning to go to Heaven must believe in Jesus. To believe in Jesus means to believe in Jesus being my Savior and in Him having blotted out all my sins. To believe in Jesus means to believe in Jesus being the Lord Savior who has eradicated all my sins. You all must have such faith.
Dear fellow believers, if you lie before God, you will go to hell. You can go to Heaven only by not lying. You can perhaps lie before people, but I want you to never lie spiritually before God. As you may already know, people who do not lie prosper. People who believe in the work that Jesus has done by coming to this earth will prosper and go to Heaven. But those who do not believe in Jesus will fall. Today’s Scripture passage says, “Because of this Child, many will fall and rise. This Child is destined for a sign which will be spoken against.” It means that Jesus is the sign that will be spoken against.
People who do not believe cynically say, “Must I believe in Jesus? Despite having lived virtuously, if I do not believe in Jesus, do I go to hell?” They think of Jesus as someone trivial. The phrase ‘to speak against’ means to speak ill of, but it is said that Jesus was destined for a sign that will be spoken against. It means that Jesus came to this earth not only to save us but also to be blamed by those who do not believe. If we were to tell those who are getting thrown into the burning fire of hell that they are going hell because of not believing in Jesus, how many of them do you think would not slander Jesus? Questioning how He could send them to hell like this just because they do not believe in Him, they get angry against Him saying they would rather go to hell. Hence, defining faith on their own and questioning, to say, “Must I also believe in the Lord like all the righteous?” is precisely what speaking against Him is.
All the religions in this world are speaking against Jesus. They say, “Why do you say that your religion is the best and despise us? We can understand people who believe in Mohammed or Buddha, but you who believe in Jesus are truly self-complacent. We will never again make acquaintance with you.” Like so, most religions hate and slander Christians who believe in and follow Jesus. However, the fact that people of other religions are slandering God is truly deplorable, although their slandering of Christians for their lacking is tolerable. However, what is worse is that there are people who speak against God because they are headed for hell for not believing in the Lord.
Nevertheless, let us remember the fact that Jesus was destined to be spoken against by people. Jesus is the signpost. For example, let us consider for a moment that there appears two forked paths in front of a traveler going about his way, and there stands a signpost directing the path on the left as the road leading to Jeonla Province and the path on the right as the road leading to Gyeongbuk Province so that the traveler may find his way. Like so, Jesus is the One who acts as the signpost in our lives, opening up the path to either Heaven or hell.
Faith means to believe in the Truth with one’s heart. If you were to regard those words as being excessively self-compliant, your hearts will gradually be unable to believe in such Truth. Instead of putting forth your faith in the Lord, if you were to claim having carried out numerous virtuous deeds and believe only in those efforts, then that in itself is precisely the short cut to hell. People who do not have faith by refusing the existence of Jesus itself and going against Jesus’ will slander Jesus. Instead of seeking just some flimsy tactic, thinking that so long as you get to go to Heaven, any sort of method is acceptable, believe in the Lord without a single ounce of doubt. Just admit your own lacking and believe in the Savior. If you do so, you can all go to Heaven.
Having gone to so-called Heaven in imagination, it was so good that it was simply a paradise. An angel plays the harp at one side, and another angel comes to me opening its wings and says, ‘Dear son of the Master, climb onto my wings.’ It was a place overflowing with so much beauty and joy with sweet fruits hanging on the trees all throughout the year; an ocean that is as clear and clean as the sea of glass, and coral. Quietly thinking about ‘How did I come here,’ I came to the conclusion that I came to Heaven because I had believed in the Lord. When I asked God where my friend so-and-so had gone, He told me that the friend had gone to hell. When I asked Him again why, He told me that he is suffering agony in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone because he did not believe in Jesus who is the signpost for Heaven and hell.
You will go to hell if you are too obstinate to believe in the Lord. The Lord said, “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5). If you believe in Him with your heart than you will go to heaven, but if you don’t you will go to hell. This is precisely the signpost that God has set upon us human beings. Let us quickly throw away idle obstinacies and believe in God. Even if by some chance the will of the Lord does not suit our hearts, we should nevertheless have faith. We are nothing more than just a creation, and He is the Creator. Therefore, don’t you think that we must believe in the work that the Creator has done in order to go to Heaven? We must put down our own thoughts and believe before all else. It is good, and we are able to believe the Truth because Jesus has blotted out all my sins. We believe in order to receive the remission of sins, and because we believe, the sins exist no more. In doing so, we will realize why Jesus is good, and we will start believing in Jesus.
At first, I was a Buddhist in my youth. Confucianism and Buddhism had already come into Korea almost two thousands years ago. However, it had only been 100 years since the introduction to Korea of Protestant Christianity, which believes in Jesus. Because Christianity was something so unfamiliar to me, I did not know Jesus very well, and hence, I didn’t have anything to do with the Lord. After that, as I began believing in Jesus, I just believed in Him in order to receive forgiveness for my sins. I did not know His true will completely. However, as I got to know more and more about Jesus, I felt myself becoming closer to paradise.
But if I hadn’t had the proper faith like this, I would have been destroyed and fallen. People slander Jesus because they could suffer destruction for not believing in Him like that. So, God has purposefully destined Jesus as the sign that will be spoken against, as it can be seen from the words, “Why don’t you receive some resentment and hate before those going to hell.” On the contrary, however, Jesus was established for those who believe in and follow Him as the signpost “to make them be thankful to Him, and to have them be thankful before God the Father as well.”
Jesus is also the signpost for the blessing and the curse. Simeon, whom God had acknowledged as righteous, spoke of this matter through the Bible. Among those who believe in Jesus today, there are those that will go to hell for believing in Jesus just on the outside but not wholeheartedly. On the other hand, there are those that will go to Heaven by sincerely believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. There are people who will go to hell for having been obstinate to the end, not believing in Jesus, while others who have done nothing well, been endlessly lacking, and have done many wrongful deeds get to go to Heaven.
Simeon tells us here that this is the way set by God. He also tells us that Jesus having come to this world, was to pierce the souls of people. It is said, “A sword will pierce through your own soul.” The Word of God pierces not our body but our soul. It is because He accurately points outs the sins we have committed. He said, “From the heart of a human being comes out things such as evil thoughts, thefts, murders, fornications, pride, foolishness, crazy feeling, lewdness, an evil eye, strife and so on, and that person is none other than you,” and like this, when you go forth before Jesus, your sins get exposed. Whenever you stand before Jesus, you feel ashamed. It is because no matter how kind a person may be in this world, by the piercing of the Word of God, the person will realize in the end that all people are sinners before God. Therefore, we receive salvation by believing in Jesus having taken on all the sins we have committed by receiving the baptism and in Jesus having received the judgment on our behalf by going to the Cross. However, if we do not believe the Truth, the sins will remain as it were, and thus, we would have no choice but to go to hell.
A man named Simeon saw the Baby Jesus and spoke about this faith. Mary, Jesus’ mother of the flesh, as well as all those ordinary people gathered inside the Temple and listened to those words. Through the Bible, you and I have also heard those words. God had spoken those words to you and me through the man named Simeon. Jesus sends people to Heaven as well as hell. At times, He becomes the sign that will be spoken against and also the sword that will pierce through our own souls. This Jesus is none other than God. God is He who accurately points out the sins of our hearts, and He is the Creator who has created us.
Dear fellow believers, we who believe in Jesus should think once more about the meaning behind the Lord having been born on this earth as we greet Christmas. We must engrave deep in our hearts and give thanks to the Lord for Jesus having come to this world in the image of man in order to save all humankind.
Dear fellow believers, let us believe in this Jesus, and let us all go to Heaven and meet again. No single person should go to hell. Amen.