The New Life Mission

Sermons

Subject 23 : The Epistle to the HEBREWS

[Chapter 1-2] (Hebrews 1:1-3) The Word of Salvation Testified at Various Times And in Various Ways

(Hebrews 1:1-3)
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
 
 
The Book of Hebrews shows us in diverse ways how the prophets were able to endure, and overcome, persecution. So, when we study the Book of Hebrews, we can learn about the overall contours of the Bible, both from the New and the Old Testaments. The Book of Hebrews is therefore very important, but unfortunately what most people remember from Hebrews is basically just chapter 11, which describes the people of faith. However, the reason why the Book of Hebrews is so indispensable to us is because it was written for the Jews who had converted to Christianity.
In other words, most of them were strong followers of Judaism who came to realize that Jesus Christ was in fact their Savior; accepted Him by faith, and were thus saved. Due to the fact that they were still confused with their old faith, the messages in Hebrews should be considered very important to us today also. With respect to what we have accepted, although we testify that we believe in Jesus, the question remains whether or not Jesus is really our personal Lord and God. Put differently, the Book of Hebrews is the precious Word of God that enables us to realize the Lord is indeed our Savior and that He has solved away the problem of all our sins, rather than believing in Jesus just because others believe in Him and it demonstrates the preeminence of Jesus Christ.
Just as there were converts from Judaism to Christianity, in this age also, there are many people who have converted to Christianity from another religion. Rather than attending church merely out of habit or duty and saying with empty words that Jesus is our Savior, we should realize that our souls need to make a sincere encounter with God in a concrete way through the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit, and that we need to make an earnest confession of faith to say that Jesus Christ is indeed our Savior.
As such, I believe the gospel of the water and the Spirit is something that must be found individually, heard with the ears, and accepted into the heart. This is why the Book of Hebrews is such an important Epistle for this age. It is the Epistle of confirmation that enables us to encounter the righteousness of the Lord in a personal way. But the Jews faced barriers when they sought to believe in Jesus. First of all, they had to recognize that Jesus was the very Messiah promised to them as prophesied about in the Old Testament.
I am sure this Epistle of Hebrews will be very beneficial to us, for it clearly sheds light on how Jesus is our Savior, how He has truly saved us, how He has delivered us from all our sins completely, how He has made us His children, how He has brought the Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts, how He will send us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit to Heaven, and how He made us His very own sons and daughters.
I did some comprehensive Bible studies on the Book of Hebrews while I was staying in Sokcho, and I am grateful that I now have another chance to study it again. This Epistle of Hebrews was really addressed to the Jewish Christians who believed in Jesus Christ as their Savior. Let’s now examine how the servant of God admonished the Jewish Christians who believed in Jesus as their Savior and who were dispersed abroad.
 
 
Let’s Get into the Scriptures Together
 
It’s estimated that today’s Scripture passage was written around 63AD. What is important here, however, is not just knowing when the Book of Hebrews was written, but more important than this is why the Book of Hebrews was actually written, and whether or not we believe in the written Word of God. To begin answering these questions, it is of paramount importance that Jesus Christ dwells in your heart as your Savior first and foremost, along with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Let’s now turn to Hebrews 1:1: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past, to the fathers by the prophets.” This is the opening phrase of the Book of Hebrews written as an introduction to the main detailed text that follows.
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:1-2). This passage means that the Word of God was spoken to our forefathers at various times and in various ways through the prophets. It’s said here that God spoke to us at various times and in various ways in the past through the prophets. It therefore says that in this New Testament age, God has saved us from the sins of this world by sending us His Son Jesus Christ. Therefore, to know our future, we must know our past properly.
Do we then realize and believe that the Lord has blotted out all our sins once and for all with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, including our sins of the past, the present, and the future? We must latch onto this truth that true salvation is reached only when we realize the love of the Lord who has blotted out everyone’s sins all at once, the power of the water and the Spirit, and the Truth of salvation that He has given us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
The Word of God as written in Hebrews speaks about the washing away of our sins at various times and in various ways. Put differently, it also writes about what the Old Testament says about the remission of our sins. The writer of the Book of Hebrews wants us to also examine the exaltedness of Jesus Christ, our heavenly High Priest. We tend to think that we know all about Jesus Christ, who has become our High Priest. But how are we assured of our salvation which was attained through Jesus Christ? Jesus has indeed blotted out our sins once and for all with the gospel of the water and the Spirit by coming to this earth, but do we really believe in the righteousness of our Savior? Is Jesus Christ indeed the Messiah to you as promised in the Old Testament era, or is He but a mere human being with particular talents? Is He really the Son of God to you? We need to examine these critical issues carefully. The writer of the Book of Hebrews makes it clear that Jesus Christ is indeed our Savior as prophesied by the prophets of the past, the Lamb of sacrifice foretold in the Old Testament, our High Priest, our Prophet, our King, and the King of kings.
In the Bible, the word “Christ” means “the anointed One.” Who in Israel was anointed? In Israel, prophets, kings, and priests were anointed when they were appointed to their offices. Here, we can see a true witness of Jesus the Son of God who has the office of Christ. We need to grasp the truth of the preeminence of Jesus Christ of which the writer of the Book of Hebrews is speaking about, and we must believe in it.
The words “in time past” in today’s Scripture passage refers to the entire Old Testament. Only when we know the Old Testament, will we know in detail whether or not the Savior had testified and prophesied in the Old Testament and that He was Jesus Christ, and therefore we need to believe in Him correctly. Hebrews chapter 1 says that Jesus Christ is above the angels, that He is the Creator who made them, and that He will make the next world when this present world disappears. It is written here that our salvation is accomplished by the righteousness of Jesus.
To ensure a clear understanding of these issues, let’s turn to Acts 3:24-26: “And all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.”
‘It’s written here that “all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.” The age of Judges began with the end of the age of the Law of Moses. Judges began to rule Israel as its leaders after the days of Joshua, and the Prophet Samuel was born during this time. The Bible says that God was with Samuel and “let none of his words fall to the ground.” Now recall what we have just read in Acts 3:24: “All the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.” This means that what all the prophets from Samuel onwards spoke about was pointed to no one else but Jesus Christ. That is why when we turn to Acts 3:25-26, we see God’s servants saying to the people of Israel, “You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.”
It’s written here, “In your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” To whom does this “seed” refer to then? This is shown in Genesis 12:3: “I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” God had said to Abraham time after time that He would bless all the families of the earth through Abraham’s seed.
When God said in Acts 3:25, “In your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed,” He was referring to no one else but Jesus Christ. God said to Abraham, “I will bless whoever blesses you, and I will curse whoever curses you.” Abraham then said to God, “Lord, what will you give me? My heir is Eliezer.” God then promised Abraham, “No, I will give you a son. And I will bless everyone through your seed.” He who fulfilled this promise is none other than Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, in other words, is the source of all our blessings. Without Him, we cannot receive any blessings from God at all.
But once we know Jesus Christ correctly, you and I can clothe ourselves with every blessing. Therefore, unless one has the correct understanding of Jesus Christ, his faith is really a false one. To truly believe in something, one must know the object of his faith clearly. ‘Knowledge precedes faith, and the latter is a consequence of the former. Those who believe in Jesus Christ without understanding Him correctly as the true Savior who has come by the gospel of the water and the Spirit do not really believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior.
 
 
If You Are Still Shrouded in Doubts and Believe in Jesus as Your Savior According to Your Own Notions, Your Faith Is a Mere Religious Faith
 
Religious faith is not the true faith. The Bible says that we must not believe in Jesus Christ according to our own interpretation or will. This means that our faith in and obedience to Jesus must be preceded by the knowledge of the righteousness of God. True salvation is given from God above, and only through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The Lord is saying to us, “If you believe in Me according to your own will, don’t call yourself a believer. How do you intend to believe in My righteousness when you don’t even know it? How can you say that you believe in Me when you don’t even know My righteousness? Do not say that you believe in Me.”
Today, many people testify that they believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior. But God is saying that those who have such faith cannot say that they really know and believe in His righteousness. This kind of faith cannot satisfy God’s desire. God the Father said that He would bless the entire human race through Jesus Christ. This Word was spoken after God had prepared everything for us to receive the blessing of salvation, and He actually fulfilled it all; God is not someone who is all talk and no action. Our Lord is the source of all blessings, He is our Savior, and He is the King of kings.
It is through the righteousness of this Jesus Christ that we are saved by faith and enjoy everything. For this to come about, we must first know the righteousness of Jesus Christ, from whom all blessings flow. And to know this righteousness, we must examine the prophecies made by the prophets of the past. My fellow believers, if the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit is written in the Word of God, then we must believe in it. We shouldn’t have more faith in what people say without realizing the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit as manifested in the Word of God. This applies to what many pastors say as well.
If you believe blindly in what people say, then down the road you won’t be able to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit even when it comes to you. At various times and in various ways, you have to examine for yourself the love of God and the Truth of salvation as manifested in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and then realize and believe clearly that Jesus Christ indeed loves you, and that out of this love He has given you the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Only then will it be ok for you to believe in Jesus after grasping the real Truth.
Salvation cannot be reached if we believe in Jesus one-sidedly on our own. We shouldn’t say that we love Him blindly. That is not what love is about. Love is not just one-sided. The same goes when we say that we love Jesus. Rather than being one-sided, true love requires a reciprocal situation knowing that both actually love each other. Faith also requires you to know the Truth as manifested in the gospel of the water and the Spirit before you can believe; just because you know the crucified Jesus, you shouldn’t say that you believe in Him, thinking to yourself vaguely, “Well, I guess this is how salvation is reached.”
Many Christians tend to believe in Jesus blindly, simply as a good God. This tendency is particularly found amongst Korean Christians, many of whom believe in Jesus just blindly. But when one believes in Jesus blindly, does this mean that this faith is the right faith? Far from it, this kind of faith will be eventually exposed to be false.
Since people believe in Jesus without even realizing that the gospel of the water and the Spirit is the true gospel, and when told that their faith is wrong, they will only come to regret it, wondering what it was they had believed in all this time. When such people are asked about what it is that they’ve believed in to this day, they will just say, “Well, I’m not so sure.” Let me explain with a simple illustration. Let’s say someone is sobbing here. Then won’t the person sitting next to him also start to cry?
After crying like this for a while, the one who began to cry first asks the other person why he is sobbing, but the latter will say that he doesn’t really know why. Wouldn’t this be so strange? Yet such strange things are common occurrences in this world. The first man says, “I cried because you were crying. What about you? Why did you cry?” “I cried because my mother passed away. Why did you cry? Although this may seem like nonsense, what’s important is that we shouldn’t believe like this when it comes to the washing away of our sins.
Because so many people say they believe in Jesus as their Savior, there is a tendency for many around them to also say they believe in Jesus. Such herding takes place in many churches. There are many Christians who believe in Jesus blindly. Because it’s claimed that the Holy Spirit is received if one just believes in Jesus and prays to Him, many people try to receive the Holy Spirit by praying like this. Since it’s also said that one can go to Heaven if one just believes in Jesus arbitrally, many people think like this.
For Koreans, such pastors as Rev. Gwonneung Choi, Sunju Gil, Yangho Sohn, and so forth are considered to the predecessors of faith. So, modern-day Korean Christians are prone to believe in their words blindly. Do you think that we should also believe as these pastors do? When asked what they have gained from believing like this, they cannot show anything for doing so. There is a marked tendency among today’s Christians to misbelieve when it comes to the righteousness of God.
My fellow believers, when we open the Bible, both the New and Old Testaments, we must speak of the Word of God. When we read the Scriptures from both the Testaments, we must speak the Word that’s found in this Bible. It’s absolutely important for us to have a clear understanding of this issue. Let’s then examine it one more time before moving on. God spoke at various times and in various ways through the prophets of the past. This can be divided into two groups. Firstly, Hebrews 1:1 says, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets.” We must know how Jesus Christ had promised to save us in the past, and secondly, we must know clearly what Jesus Christ did on this earth when He came to the earth in these last days. This is what the writer of the Book of Hebrews wants to explain clearly.
My fellow believers, who is this God that spoke through the prophets at various times and in various ways in times past? And how did He speak to us at various times and in various ways? To answer these questions we must return to the Old Testament. Put differently, we need to go back a little in the Bible and confirm and believe in what we’ve read, rather than just going forward.
 
 
Let’s Examine How God Spoke to Us in the Past
 
Firstly, let’s turn to Genesis chapter 3: “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” (Genesis 3:7-9).
At the beginning of mankind, Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan, and falling into his deception, they ended up committing sin. The Bible says here that after their fall, Adam and Eve covered their bodies with fig leaves. What does God say about these “coverings”? On this issue, God explains what is right through the offerings of Cain and Abel in Genesis chapter 4.
“And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering” (Genesis 4:3-5). How did human beings who sinned against God, approach Him? Both Adam and Eve approached God through their offerings; and Cain and Abel, the second generation in the genealogy of man also approached God through their offerings. The Bible explains in various ways which was right. Here in the account of Cain and Abel, the Bible says that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord.
As it’s said, Cain offered the fruit of the ground to the Lord, but God did not accept it. God, who spoke to the prophets at various times and in various ways, accepted certain offerings and rejected others. When Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord, God did not accept it, but when Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat, God accepted this offering.
Referring to this incident, some people today say that Cain lacked devotion, while some other preachers say that God was offended because Cain offered left overs. My fellow believers, why did God accept Abel’s offering but reject Cain’s offering of the fruit of the ground, and what is God trying to teach us through this incident? God is saying that He wants to expose the sins of the human heart and blot them out. However, if one believes in God as His Savior based on his own human emotions, God will not accept him regardless how ardently he believes in Him. In other words, God is saying here that He never accepts anything else other than the offering of atonement made through a sacrificial animal.
The so-called “good” Christians professing to believe in Jesus as their Savior say, “Lord, thank You for shedding Your lifeblood on the Cross. I believe in You. I surely can believe.” But God says to them, “What can you believe when you don’t even know My righteousness? So He says, “Don’t kid yourself, I don’t want your pity. I came to save you from the sins of the world, and to blot out your sins with My righteousness. So how dare you have pity on Me? “Don’t grieve over My crucifixion.”
There really are many Christians who believe in the crucified Jesus Christ out of pity according to their own thoughts and notions. There are many of these kinds of Christians living in this age. ‘Although these Christians say that Jesus was crucified to death for sinners, they all believe only in His shed blood just to placate their own conscience, as though they were doing Him a favor. If we, who are mere creatures, were to believe in the blood of the Cross alone without knowing all the righteous work of God as carried by Jesus, then we would just be soothing our own consciences.
What we really need to do is realize fully and believe fully in how God has saved us from our sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit; what promises God had made to our forefathers and kept them, how He fulfilled these promises, and what the sacrificial offerings are as desired by God. And with this faith, we should thank God for His righteousness. It’s because the righteousness of God has been preached to us that we believe in God with gratitude, knowing that our sins have disappeared; no one can say on his own that he believes in the righteousness of God without even knowing it. If we say that we believe in the righteousness of God without actually knowing it, then we would be lying. That is just man’s own one-sided, unrequited love; put differently, it’s no different from a stalker.
Genesis chapter 3 describes how Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves after they sinned against God. From the moment Adam sinned against God, the entire human race came to have sin in its heart, and as a result, it became a habit for human beings to try to cover themselves up to embellish their outside appearance. The religions of the world today are products of this habit. So people think that God would somehow have mercy on them if they do good deeds. But we need to realize here that God does not just approve us as sinless beings on account of the good deeds that we’ve done. Fundamentally, what God wants from us is to blot out our hearts’ sins. It’s to enable us sinners to be born again through His righteousness that God made His Son be baptized by John and lead Him to be crucified to shed His lifeblood. In other words, through His righteousness God wanted to turn the believers into His perfect and flawless children.
God doesn’t want to just recycle our shell for His use, but He wants to turn us into completely new creatures. To draw an analogy to a car, God wants to replace the whole thing, from the engine to the tires and the whole chassis. He doesn’t want a car that just has new tires and door handles while the engine remains the same; rather, He wants a completely new car. God wants to blot out our sins once and for all with His righteousness, and to thereby wholly make us His own children. In other words, He wants to change even our souls with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. With the gospel of the water and the Spirit that washes away all our sins completely and perfectly, God intends to change us His believers into righteous people. The problem, however, is that we are trying to believe in Jesus Christ based on our emotions.
My fellow believers, Cain’s mistake is that he brought the fruit of the ground as his offering to God. This implies that God is not pleased with the kind of faith in which people believe in Jesus as their Savior and follow Him only according to their own emotions or will. The offering made of the fruit of the ground is the same as not knowing the righteousness of God. Some people give up their lives for the Lord even as they neither know nor believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
There is a man called The Saint of Africa. When you look at this doctor’s theological publications, you will see him asserting, “Jesus is not God. He is just a creature.” This man went to Africa and served the poor with his medical care program. But in his publications, he denied the divinity of Jesus.
God will judge whether it is right or wrong to work for Jesus without even believing in His divinity. When such people believe in Jesus, they believe out of their fleshly gratitudes. So their faith is one that is grateful to the Lord only for being crucified to death for them. But this kind of faith just entails believing in Jesus in carnal terms. Even though these Christians diligently serve the needy with the fruit of the ground before God, do missionary works, and worship God piously, all their faith is just like the fruit of the ground. In other words, God does not accept the faith of those who claim to be doing God’s work without recognizing His righteousness.
My fellow believers, before I truly found the righteousness of the Lord, I was also very devoted to His work. Just as the Apostle Paul was a devoted man, so was I zealous. However, the Lord did not accept my faith. My fellow believers, when someone who doesn’t have the righteousness of Jesus Christ in his heart finds himself alone, his heart will be empty. He doesn’t feel so empty when he is surrounded by others. But when he is alone, he knows that his heart does not have faith in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. So he feels void when he finds himself all alone. There is not even a trace of the righteousness of God in his heart. In contrast, someone who has Jesus Christ in his heart will always be accompanied by His righteousness and he believes in it, whether he is alone or in the crowd, and regardless of where he is in this world. This is what sets his faith apart from those who do not have the righteousness of God.
 
 
God Spoke at Various Times and in Various Ways in the Past
 
Let’s turn to the Book of Leviticus. It’s written in Leviticus 1:1-4: “Now the LORD called to Moses, and spoke to him from the tabernacle of meeting, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: “When any one of you brings an offering to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of the livestock—of the herd and of the flock.” If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD. Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.”
My fellow believers, you must not overlook this passage. God said to Moses to speak to the children of Israel and explain the sacrificial system to them. When someone ignored the rules of this sacrificial system and arbitrarily brought a bull or a sheep as his offering, God did not accept it. God told Moses to speak to the children of Israel of the God who spoke to the prophets at various times and in various ways.
God said to the Israelites, “If you want to offer a sacrifice to Me, offer an unblemished bull or sheep. And when you do so, offer your sacrifice out of your own free will. I will then accept it in joy. If you want Me to accept your sacrificial offering in joy, first lay your hands on its head without fail. After passing your sins onto the sacrificial animal by faith in this way, cut its throat, draw its blood, and give this blood to the priests. The priests shall then put the blood on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, cut its flesh into pieces, put them on the altar of burnt offering, and burnt them by fire.”
Let’s assume here for a moment that we confessed to believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior without realizing this mystery of the laying on of hands. We need to grasp this fact that in such a case, we would have offered a sacrifice that would not please God, and therefore our labor would have been in vain. Rather than bringing a sacrificial animal to God just arbitrarily, we have to realize what kind of animals and by what method God told us to offer these sacrifices to Him. When the Bible says, “To obey is better than sacrifice,” it means that we should first know what God is saying to us and realize it’s full meaning.
If you are trying to withdraw some money from your bank account, you have to fill in a withdrawal slip with all the required information. The withdrawal slip must be filled in correctly down to every number; if you otherwise write down wrong information, the teller will refuse to give you any money. An incorrectly filled in slip will never be accepted. Likewise, we cannot approach God unless we have the right faith that is congruent with the way God has saved us. Just as certain protocols must be met when we seek an audience with kings; when we come before the presence of God, we must have the correct faith. Our faith, in other words, must be exact.
 
 
Let’s Examine Your Faith Today
 
My fellow believers, Jesus Christ promised salvation to us with His Word in the New Testament and in the Old Testament, and He has fulfilled it according to this Word. It is when we know and believe in Jesus correctly that our hearts’ sins are blotted out. That is how we are made into the righteous. Failing this it is absolutely impossible for anyone to become righteous. Sins would then still remain in the heart. It’s impossible for such people’s sins to disappear from their hearts even for a day or a moment. They still remain sinful. Cain went to hell. The reason why Cain went to hell is because even though both he and Abel made an offering to God, God only accepted Abel’s offering. Cain’s offering was not accepted.
If Cain were a wise man, he would have asked his brother, “Abel, why did God reject my offering? I am at a loss here. Can you explain why?” Abel would then have explained to him the following: “What did our father and mother teach us? Didn’t they tell us to offer a sacrifice? They taught us to make an offering of a living animal. God had also killed an animal and clothed our parents with its skin. That’s how our parents were made whole again and escaped death. God rejected your offering because you offered the fruit of the ground, which lacks blood. You need to change your offering right away. Once you replace your offering, God will accept it just as He accepted mine.”
The Bible says that when Cain and Abel were out in the field, “Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.” Since they were blood brothers, wouldn’t Abel have talked to Cain even if it meant risking his own life to save his brother? God doesn’t like potatoes. He doesn’t like sweet potatoes, either. God doesn’t like them no matter how you wash them clean before offering them. What God wants is a sheep. There are plenty of sheep that I’ve raised. Take one of them and offer it to God.” But Cain would have retorted in disgust, “I am not going to offer such a filthy animal to God! I am convinced that my offering is better than yours. I’m going to try making another offering.”
Cain died as a result of his stubbornness. No one should oppose God. He will reply, “Neither this method nor this offering is what I want. No matter how many sacrifices you may offer, and no matter how much you may believe in My Son, it’s all useless if you believe just blindly without even passing your sins to My Son. This is not what I want.” If God says this, then a wise and prudent man would change his ways right away.
The faith that’s approved by God is the faith that’s placed in His righteousness, and the faith that’s approved by the Holy Spirit is also the faith that’s placed in the righteousness of God. This is the faith that makes Satan tremble in fear. Even though we cannot speak in tongues nor perform miracles, if we know the Word of God and believe in it correctly, then this is the truly upright faith. There is a certain brother in Seoul who
was trained for missionary work at some Christian organization. He had also gone through several leadership training programs. So he was self-confident of his faith. When I told him about the gospel of the water and the Spirit, he replied indignantly, “Reverend, don’t speak to me about such crude and elementary stuff.” So I asked him, “Have you received the remission of sins?” “Gee, what kind of question is that? Of course I’ve received the remission of sins.” “Do you then have many virtues?” “Sure, I’ve got plenty of virtues,” he replied.
In those days I was visiting Seoul once a week, and on several occasions I met this brother and studied the Bible with him. When we got together, I tended to spend more time listening to him than talking to him, as he was rather proud of himself. But even so, I still wanted to preach the Word of God to him. “So, is this how you believe in Jesus?” “Yes.” “How exactly do you believe?” “I believe that Jesus is my Savior. And I believe that He shed His blood for me in my place.” “Oh, I see. So that’s how you believe. You believe that Jesus shed His blood on the Cross for you, and that you have been saved from your sins. Good, you’ve learned well. Let’s then turn to what the Bible says how we should learn about salvation and the gospel of the water and the Spirit. “Let’s find out which faith is really approved by Jesus.” So we opened the Bible to the Book of Leviticus chapter 1:3-4 and began studying it.
“If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD. Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.”
This sacrificial offering is the shadow of Jesus Christ, I said. Now, consider the following two cases. In the first case, a man brings this sacrificial animal and lays his hands on its head (the laying on of hands means passing or transferring sin). The priest then kills the animal, puts its blood on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, cuts its flesh into pieces, places them on the altar of burnt offering, and offers that to God. In the second case, another man brings a sacrificial animal but does not lay his hands on it. Without passing his sins to Jesus Christ, this man says, “Lord, I believe in You. I believe in Your crucifixion. This is the right faith no matter what.” Whose faith is the right faith?
The brother in our story had said just a short while ago that one could be saved just by believing in only blood of Jesus who died on the Cross without passing his sins to Him. This is what he said he believed in. So tell me, ‘which is biblically sound faith then?’ I asked him, “Which way do you believe then?” “The latter,” he said. “Then is your faith false or not?” “I see that it’s false.” The mission organization, that he belonged to, was quite a respected and famous organization. Many people there are very devout, even to the point of laying down their lives.
However, the Bible exposed this man’s faith to be a false faith. “That is false. This is real. Do you then believe in this way?” “I do.” “Tell me, is the faith that you’ve had until just a short while real?” “No, it’s false.” “You’ve admitted it with own mouth, and I’ve done everything you told me. What I’ve said now is what the Bible says. But because you’ve believed mistakenly, haven’t you had sin despite believing in Jesus to this day? “Yes, I’ve been sinful.” “Do you believe in this way?” “I do.” I then drew the altar of burnt offering and began to explain the gospel of the water and the Spirit to him.
“When Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist on this earth, He accepted all your sins, as shown in Matthew 3:13-17. It’s also written in John chapter 1:29, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’ This shows that Jesus carried the sins of the world. After John the Baptist passed the sins of the world to Jesus Christ by laying his hands on His head, Jesus then shed His blood on the Cross for the entire human race while shouldering all the sins of the world, and He then laid down His own life. That is why God has given the right to those who believe in this righteousness of Jesus Christ to become His children, just as John 1:12 says, ‘But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.’
God has spoken about which faith is the right faith at various times and in various ways. Isaiah chapter 53 says, “Surely He has borne our griefs . . . the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Here God said that Jesus Christ would bear our sins. How do we then believe now? Is salvation reached just by believing in the crucified Jesus? No, that is not the case. The Word of God is the unchanging Word of salvation which God gave to us. If you are a conscientious person, and this is what the Word of God says, then you would admit to this truth.
It will then dawn on you, “When I believed in Jesus, did I pass my sins to Him by believing in His baptism? Did I believe while knowing all this? I must have believed wrongly! Something has been missing all this time.” Once this realization is reached, all that you have to do is just turn around and believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. What you had held onto all this time thinking that it was the right faith was not really the right faith. If this is true for you, all you have to do is to let it go completely. The wise will turn around and believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but the foolish will say, “Once I decide on something, I never waiver. I will stick to my old faith until the end even if I am destroyed for it.”
What does the Bible say? The goat, the bull, and the sheep here all speak of the righteousness of God. Wasn’t the sheep sacrificed because it had accepted the sins of the people of Israel? When this happened, God blotted out the Israelites’ sins in this way, and therefore they could live without sin. The Tabernacle was located right in the middle of the congregation of the people of Israel, and the reason why God could dwell among the Israelites despite their sexual immorality, filthiness, and uncleanness is because the sacrificial animals accepted their sins and paid the price of these sins every day.
It’s because the sacrificial animals accepted the Israelites’ sins and died in their place that God could dwell with them in the wilderness. How, then, can you and I walk with God today even as we are living in this filthy and dreadful world? The secret to walking with God, is believing in Jesus Christ exactly according to His way of redemption, that is, according to His Word. The baptism that Jesus received from John the Baptist, as described in Matthew chapter 3, was a rite, in which Jesus bore all the sins of mankind. Just as the laying on of hands was a ritual, and just as the Israelites’ sins were passed onto the sacrificial animal through this ritual, it was also through a ritual that Jesus accepted our sins in the Jordan River.
Doesn’t the Bible say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence”? The reason why the Bible says, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers,” is because John the Baptist passed all sins to Jesus, and therefore whoever recognizes this fact and believes in the Word in obedience can now enter Heaven. There is then no need for us to be so stubborn.
My fellow believers, God has indeed spoken to us at various times and in various ways. The question is what exactly God has spoken to us. To answer this question, let us turn to what God said to our forefathers. It’s written in Hebrews 1:2-3: “[God] has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
In the age of the Old Testament, God had promised through the prophets in detail that Jesus Christ would come and blot out our sins, and in these last days, Jesus Christ actually came to this earth in the flesh and spoke to us. In other words, Jesus is speaking to us through the fulfillment of the prophesied Word. He is saying to us, “I am your Savior.” “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3).
It is this Jesus Christ who is the heir of all things, it is through Him that this world has continued, and it is also through Him that the present world is continued to the new heavens and the new earth. This universe will be destroyed once without fail. Having judged the world with water for the first time, God preserved it to judge it again but this time with fire, and God promised He will judge the world and eradicate it completely, build new heavens and a new earth, make His believers live there forever with Jesus Christ, and cast out those who rejected Him to the everlasting fires of hell. This is the eternal heir of all things. It means that this world will continue on again through Jesus. We will either go to Heaven or hell after death, but who will go to Heaven and live there forever, and who will go to hell? This is determined by Jesus. When Jesus came to this earth, He bore all our sins once and for all by being baptized by John the Baptist. Having accepted all your sins and mine once and for all through His baptism, Jesus died on the Cross, crying out, “It is finished!” He then declared His work of salvation to be completely fulfilled to perfection, saying, “Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.”
Now we can know Jesus Christ through the Word rather than through the flesh. Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus is “the brightness of His glory,” meaning that God did not just love us in words, but He has actually blotted out our sins and saved us. The Bible then goes on to say that Jesus is “the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Our Lord is now upholding all things by His Word and He has purged our sins with His Word. Isn’t this true, my fellow believers? There is hardly anyone in this age who knows exactly how Jesus died. Historians do not know where Golgotha is located. Even Bible dictionaries cannot pinpoint the exact location, and so they only provide probable locations.
However, our Lord has recorded the gospel of the water and the Spirit exactly with the Word of God. Through His disciples He wrote down in the New Testament exactly how He fulfilled what God had said in the Old Testament just as it was. He upholds this universe and all things by His Word, and with this Word He has blotted out our hearts’ sins. If we recognize the Word and accept it, then our hearts’ sins will disappear. If we ruminate on the Word, we can realize that we have become sinless. That is how we are able to believe in Jesus to reach our salvation. It is then that the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts and we are able to walk with Jesus Christ in our lives.
My fellow believers, how can anyone say that he believes in Jesus Christ as his Savior without even knowing the righteousness of God? Unless you know the Word of God, you can boldly speak of the righteousness of God. If not then you will only be able to speak of your own denomination and its teachings. A sinful church leader can never preach the righteousness of God, if he has not been truly born again of water and the Spirit. You can learn all about the Bible if you spend a year studying the Word step by step. But you can never learn the righteousness of God from such a leader. As I’ve already pointed out, no matter how ardently such a person may believe in the crucified Jesus Christ alone, this person will still have all his sins remaining intact.
Most of you believed like this before, is this not so? Were you then sinless or did you still remain sinful in those days? Of course, you still had sin. You turned sinful every time you committed sin. Your faith was little more than your own human emotion, for you believed according to a human perspective. It was your own will. That’s why you had sin. As long as one believes in Jesus according to his own emotion and will, his sins will not disappear from his heart no matter how ardent his faith may be. Even if one is willing to lay down his life for his faith, God does not approve this kind of faith. It is with the Word that God has purged our sins. It is when you know and recognize the Word that you receive Jesus with this recognition. It is then that your sins are purged from your heart by this Word.
The Word of God is God Himself. It’s when you acknowledge this Word of God that God approves of you, saying, “You are right; your faith is right.” My fellow believers, what does the writer of the Book of Hebrews say we must do for our faith to be really approved as the right faith? Why do people not address this issue when they open this passage? Why do they not say that sin is blotted out by the Word? For too many Christians’ sins are not blotted out by the Word but in a vision of some sorts.
There are many Christians who believe like this nowadays, saying, “In my dream I saw Jesus shedding His blood on the Cross, and He told me in this dream, ‘I died for you like this.’ So I believe that Jesus is my Savior Lord.” They can’t answer when asked, “How were you born again? By what Word were you born again? When were you born again? Based on which Word can you be sure that you have become sinless?” They just believe in Jesus blindly without any knowledge. That is why they cannot be sure of their own salvation even as they claim to believe in Jesus, and neither their listeners nor God can verify their salvation. This is why they end up drifting away. And this is also why their lives of faith are so lethargic.
Am I saying something wrong here, my fellow believers? We must speak exactly as the Bible says. Only then can we receive blessings from God, be honest, prevent our faith from going astray, turn around from our mistaken ways, and have the right faith. Once you achieve this through the Word, you will follow Abraham’s words, and therefore you will become a forefather of faith. Because you follow the Word, you will be blessed just like Abraham. It is from the seed of Abraham that Jesus Christ was born, and it is Jesus Christ who fulfilled all the Word as prophesied in the Old Testament. This Word became flesh and came to dwell among us.
My fellow believers, if we believe in Jesus according to the Word, then we will receive the same blessings that Abraham received. We will become the same righteous people. God called Abraham a righteous man. He also called Noah “a just man, perfect in his generations.” How can we then become righteous people like Abraham and Noah? We are made righteous by recognizing the Word and accepting the Truth by faith that God has saved us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
How is your faith and mine then? In the past, our faith was too human, too willful, and too superstitious. We believed in anything carelessly. When we look back, our faith was so ridiculous. Tragically, many Christians are still beholden to such mistaken faith. Frustrated by this, I have had all my sermons recorded and transcribed to be shared, but if people don’t believe, then it’s their fault. We have done everything we can. My fellow believers, the wise are those who love their own souls. They are the ones who love the next world after death and acknowledge God. They are those who never ignore what God has done for them. These are the wise. Someone who builds his house on the rock is someone who fears God. Whatever it may be, if it’s what God said, then we must say that we, too, agree with it. If the Word of God is different from our thoughts, then the right thing for us to do is admit that our thoughts are wrong. We must always say Yes to God’s Word regardless of what happens to us, whether our ego is bruised or we are put to shame.
Such people, my fellow believers, are those who are poor in spirit. It’s these people who fear God. And they are the blessed. Whatever the Word of God says, we must humble our hearts, follow His Word just as it says, think according to the Word, and ensure that our faith is congruent with the Word exactly as it is. It is only then that we are approved and blessed by God. It’s not by trying on your own accord that you are blessed. Today, I visited a college campus and saw many posters with the word “dedication.” There was a group of very devout Christians gathered there, claiming to have dedicated all their lives to the Lord and talking about devotion on and on.
However, my fellow believers, you must remember that it is not the devout who are dedicated to their own piety who are blessed like Abraham, but it is those who recognize the Word before God, even if they have not done anything for Him. Do you believe in this, my fellow believers? You must admit everything exactly as the Word says. Regardless of who is speaking or what Scriptures they are quoting, one must speak according to what the Word says. The Word must be spoken just as it is.
Isn’t this what anyone with integrity should do? Are we not such people? Even though we have done nothing and we are insufficient, there is one thing that we can do to please God, and that is, obeying the Word of God and submitting ourselves to it. My fellow believers, what brings the most joy to God, is not just any offering but a living one. Those who break down their egos, recognize God’s Word of righteousness, and follow this Word in obedience—these are the ones who please God the most, and I believe that these are also the ones who are blessed by God.