“Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’ So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, ‘He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.’ Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.’”
What Must You Acknowledge before God?
God visited this earth for He loved us human beings. The God of the Truth threw away the glorious throne of Heaven, visited you and me, saved us from all sins, made us as His children, gave us new and eternal life, and granted us all the spiritual blessings of Heaven as well as all the riches of earth. The Lord has taken on all the diseases of our flesh, the weaknesses, and all our sins. This was precisely because He loves us.
Dear fellow believers, today is the first day of the revival meeting. As I look around now, I see there are many new faces. Now is the time when we truly have to be awake. Now is the time when everyone has to be born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Thus, from all throughout Korea as well as from all over the world, many souls are coming to listen to the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit. For God so loves us human beings, He allows this revival meeting to be held and grants us to spread the gospel all over the world as well. And as I see this, I can feel that God still loves us humankind.
Right now, the entire world is in an era of chaos, truly a dismal era with prevailing diseases and ravaging famines. What is worse is that the world is undergoing economic slump and devastating energy crisis. Not only Korea but also almost all the countries of the world are faced by economic crisis as well as many other grave problems. And it seems as though the entire planet earth has entered into a period of winter, having past the period of fall. However, I am sure that God is granting us this revival meeting because He wants to have souls be born again by the gospel of the water and the Spirit up until the day of His coming.
Among those blessings that God gives us, the greatest blessing is none other than the cleansing of sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. When we hold another revival meeting next month, we will hold it under the same title as this one, and even when we print our newspapers we will use this as the heading. We will also print leaflets with this title and distribute them. For the citizens living in this city, for all the people of this nation, for all the people in the world, I will preach and preach the Word under the title, “The Blessing of Being Born Again of the Water and the Spirit.” And by doing so, many will be able to receive the remission of sins Jesus’ gospel of the water and the Spirit, become the righteous, and gain eternal life before God. In order that they may receive many blessings from God, I will exert myself in preaching the gospel. Until the day our Lord comes again, we will preach this gospel of the water and the Spirit ceaselessly.
I am truly thankful that God has granted this revival meeting to save numerous souls from sins. Tonight, I want to look into the Word of God together with you, see what He is telling us, and see how one can be born again. In other words, I want to take this time to think together about what kind of conditions are essential for us be born again and about, what is the Word that allows us to be born again. Tonight, tomorrow night, and the night after that, I will preach this Word. As you continue to listen to the sermons as much as you can, you will once again realize the Truth by professing, “This is what Jesus meant when He told Nicodemus to be born again of the water and the Spirit.” If your soul can be born again after having heard the gospel of the water and the Spirit, I believe, through this current revival meeting, you will have fulfilled the purpose for which you have believed in Jesus throughout your life of faith up until now. I thank you for coming amid your busy schedule, and I hope you will earnestly listen to the Word of God and receive much grace.
A Man Named Zacchaeus
A man named Zacchaeus appears in today’s Scripture passage. This man was really short in stature. He was shorter than normal people. So, even thought he had stepped up on a brick and held his heels up, he couldn’t see Jesus well. Zacchaeus heard news that Jesus was passing by his town, so he climbed up into a sycamore tree. Because the sycamore tree didn’t break, I guess he didn’t weigh all that much, either. He seems to have been a really small person. Anyhow, this man named Zacchaeus is the central figure in today’s sermon.
Jesus entered the region of Jericho where this person Zacchaeus was living. This Jericho was where the very wall that had greeted the people of Israel for the first time as they entered the land of Canaan was. This city was a citadel with a double wall, and therefore, the wall was very large and strong, on top of which an eight-ton truck could pass by. When attacking this wall of Jericho, Joshua, the people of God, and the priests marched around the city once each day until the sixth day. But on the seventh day, they marched around it seven times blasting trumpets, and the wall fell down flat, the inner wall as well as the outer wall. As you read the Bible, you will be able to see this account of God.
Also, this word, ‘Jericho,’ means ‘aroma.’ Aroma, in turn, refers to the world. The world is place where there are aromas. This world is a tremendously wonderful place. This world is a tremendously blessed place. And if the people of this world hadn’t soiled it or put out pollutants, this world would truly have been a place full of aromas. In today’s Scripture passage, it is said that our Lord entered this Jericho. It is telling us that the Lord came down this earth from the Kingdom of Heaven in order to save you and me who were lost.
In this city called Jericho, lived a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector, and he was of great wealth. He wanted to see what kind of a person Jesus was. By the way because of his short stature, he couldn’t do anything but climb up into a sycamore tree to see Jesus. Hearing the news that Jesus was coming to their town, a big crowd gathered on both sides of the wide street. Because of that, Zacchaeus, short in height, had no choice but to climb up into a sycamore tree to see Jesus. And so, in the end, he gets to meet Jesus. Why did Jesus come to this world? He came to save the lost people like Zacchaeus and to save lost souls. Jesus came to find the lost, and although being short could also have been a reason, Zacchaeus climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Jesus because he had so much affection for Jesus and because his longing to see Him was so very earnest.
This Man Named Zacchaeus Was a Lost Soul before God
Before God, you and I are all lost souls. Long ago, our ancestors used to live in the special Garden of Eden God had built. But Satan the Devil, that is, the serpent tempted Eve first and then had Adam eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They had been cast out from the Garden of Eden for having been tempted by the temptation of Satan. Thus, human beings had originally been the people of the Kingdom of God, but were cast out of the Kingdom. They were people whom the Lord had lost. Jesus came in search of people precisely like that.
And this Zacchaeus was one of such people; he was waiting for Jesus by having climbed up into a sycamore tree. We can see that Zacchaeus was a man of a special heart that yearned to know who Jesus was and meet Him. Like so, we can see that Zacchaeus had climbed up into a sycamore tree not just because his was shorter than others but because his desire to meet Jesus was greater than others. And I can see that you truly want to meet God, also. Average people say that they believe in Jesus, and they often offer worship in an ordinary way. But rather than being ceremonious like them, I am saying that you are among those souls who have the earnest desire to meet our Lord, that is, who have the heart, truly in want of meeting God all the while going to the Church, receiving the blessing of being born again by the water and the Spirit, becoming the righteous, receiving the remission of sins, receiving the Holy Spirit before God, and meeting our Lord regardless of when He will come again.
Zacchaeus was truly one of the lost souls in desperate search of God, truly wanting to meet Jesus in earnest. You must understand that you must also possess such heart to meet Jesus Christ. You have to harbor an earnest heart that is determined to meet Jesus Christ all the while attending the Church. Our Lord spoke to Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Therefore, you can genuinely meet the righteousness of God only when you have such heart and hope. We all are the lost before the Lord, but among the lost, only those who yearn to meet the righteousness of God can meet the Lord of righteousness.
Just as Zacchaeus was gazing at Jesus, Jesus said, looking up from right underneath the sycamore tree, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house” (Luke 19:5). Most elated, Zacchaeus came down. Then, overjoyed, he received Jesus. And like that, Jesus entered Zacchaeus’ house and stayed. Then, Zacchaeus said to Jesus, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold” (Luke 19:8).
Zacchaeus was someone who had been a sinner. But he invited Jesus into his house. He invited Jesus into his house because he was aware of the fact that Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior and the fact that He is essentially God Himself and not just an ordinary human being. Then he said, “I will give half of my goods to the poor.” These words in turn mean, “I am a sinner. I am a lump of sin. I have taken much from people by false accusation. I have offered little payment to those higher in rank, keeping much to myself. I’m not just a private thief but a public thief.” This is what he really meant. He said he was going to give half of his goods to the poor. And he said he was going to restore fourfold if he has taken anything from anyone by false accusation. In short, by receiving the Lord as his Savior, Zacchaeus now became a complete beggar. But our Lord said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:9-10).
Zacchaeus wanted to meet Jesus. Furthermore, he said he will give half of his goods to the poor and will restore four fold if there had been an instance in which he had taken anything from anyone by false accusation. The only people who can be born again of the water and the Spirit before the Lord are those who know that they themselves are sinners. People like that can correctly welcome Jesus as the Savior and invite Him into their heart. Our God gives the blessing of being born again by the water and the Spirit to such people. We must realize the fact that if we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, God will give us eternal things of Heaven, and also, He will bless us with the blessings of this earth in many more folds than we have had up until now.
As for those who believe in the righteousness of God, there isn’t a single person who is poor, even from a fleshly perspective. Abraham, Isaac, as well as Jacob, all lead a rich life. Hence, on what must we place our focus? We must place our focus on the spreading of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Becoming poor despite having faith in the righteousness of Jesus is never a will of God. Even when you see our Church, there isn’t a single person who has been ruined by having faith in Jesus. Even from a fleshly perspective, none of the saints would become poor; instead, they would all become wealthy. God gives spiritual blessings for sure, but He also gives physical blessings as well. Then, where must we place out focus? We must focus on spiritual matters like Zacchaeus, and we should possess a heart like that of Zacchaeus.
Let’s take a look at Luke 18:9-14, which comes before today’s Scripture passage: “Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’”
Between a Pharisee and a tax collector, whom did the Lord justify more? The Lord said He had shown mercy on the tax collector who had confessed he was a sinner rather than the Pharisee who was so full of self-righteousness. This is what the Lord wants us to realize. This is why Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32).
Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And at Jericho, He stayed at a certain man’s house. It is said that He gave words of blessing to that man by saying, “You are a son of Abraham.” This Word means that Zacchaeus was the only person, among all those people in the big crowd gathered there, who got to receive the blessing of being born again by the water and the Spirit. All the other people of Jericho were nothing but bystanders. They were bystanders, just like the bridesmaids whose function is to illuminate the bride, the central figure in a wedding. The Jews have a tradition of using a garment wrapped around their body as clothes. There must have been people who had come out well dressed, wearing nice garments, and there must also have been people who came out in their best clothes. But among them, Zacchaeus was the only person who got to meet Jesus.
Then, we must think about how Zacchaeus got to meet Jesus and receive such a blessing after having met Him. The focus of your faith and mine should be set on this point. And you should have a correct knowledge of how one can be born again of the water and the Spirit. To be born again of the water and the Spirit means to become a righteous person by believing in what Jesus has done for our salvation. That’s it. It doesn’t make any sense that one can be a born again sinner just by believing in Jesus blindly. Now that he believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, what is correct is that a born again saint is a righteous person who has no sin. I am saying that this is what we must focus on here.
How can we believe that we can be born again from the status of being a sinner? What kind of people will become born again? What kind of people does the Lord want to meet? What kind of people’s houses does He stay at? To what kind of people does He say, “You are a son of Abraham”? Is it to someone like Zacchaeus or to people like the bystanders? You must know whether you are like Zacchaeus or like the bystanders. You must think whether you want to be like Zacchaeus or like the bystanders. Rather than saying you don’t want to be like Zacchaeus, thinking he is short in stature even though he is rich, you must possess the heart of wishing to be like Zacchaeus spiritually. Only then, will our Lord meet you within the righteousness of God. You mustn’t just lead a life of faith with a heart like that of the bystanders.
Some Christians may say, “Worshipping hour usually lasts one hour at the most. As long as this hour passes by well, it is good. All you have to do is call out ‘O, fiery Holy Spirit,’ clap your hands well, and then go home. That’s it!” Dear fellow believers, such a heart is wrong. You must throw away such a heart. You must discard the heart of a bystander and possess the heart like that of Zacchaeus.
What kind of heart did Zacchaeus possess? First of all, Zacchaeus knew that he was a sinner. When Jesus came to his home, he said, “I’ll give half of my goods to the poor.” In other words, he had something thrusting into his heart. And so, just as the Lord who is holy came in, he confessed. Then, because of this, did Zacchaeus become complete beggar? That is not so.
There Are Several Kinds of People among Christians
First of all there are the pietists. Pietists are those who think that people who believe in Jesus must lead a poor but ascetic life. They believe that living well off is in turn a sin and thus to believe in Jesus is to lead a life of poverty. People like that are extremely fearful of becoming rich after having started to believe in Jesus, as if it were a great sin. Even if people like that were to spend their entire lifetime, they will never be rich. People like that have to fast once every three days, and although they say they must share food with others, they always disregard others. They say to themselves, “How can a man like that believe in Jesus? Like me, a true believer has to share what he has and refrain from eating so that he might look spiritual with a thin build and a husky voice maltreated by loud prayers. It’s not like that these days, but at one time in the past, if the pastors had fine presence and if his face seemed to be showing even a little bit of oiliness, such pastors did not have any popularity. About a generation ago, pastors who were very skinny and did not show any oiliness used to be popular.
But even in Korea, a new wind started blowing: ‘If you believe in Jesus, there will be food and fuel.’ Such a Pentecostal movement started to flow. After that tide, Christians liked those who were fat and had a fat stomach. There is the other type of Christians - the Conservatives who are full of self-righteousness. They are the modern version of Pharisees who disregard and demote others unconditionally.
From the passage of Luke 18:9-14 that we read just before, we can find two types of mindset: A broken heart of a tax collector and a conceited heart of a Pharisee. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess” (Luke 18:11-12). He claimed that he fasted twice a week before God. Can you fast? When we skip just one meal, we become weak. People who just rest at home and preach a few times a week without using up energy can do that. People like us would die of malnutrition if we were to fast twice a week. Anyhow, that Pharisee is really a great man. He said, “I fast twice a week. I do not commit adultery and I am not like this tax collector.” Pointing out the man next to him and with his head high up, said, “I am not like this wicked man who commits thievery, injustice, and adultery.”
But the tax collector wasn’t like that. He must have had committed numerous sins, right? He was a man whose sins have been exposed. Our Lord said, “But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Romans 5:20). Also, our Lord said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Luke 5:32). Thus, only those who acknowledge how great and how numerous their sins are can meet the Lord. I want you to also realize how numerous your sins are right now. The things you have done until now aren’t important. I am saying that if you truly want to receive the blessing of being born again by the water and the Spirit, you must first realize how numerous your sins are right at this moment.
The tax collector couldn’t even look up to the heavens. He prayed banging his forehead into the floor. The tax collector had prayed crouching down his face for he could not dare lift up his face because of shame. Beating his breast, he said, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:13) He didn’t confess his sins in detail. Rather, he identified himself as a sinner.
Our Lord told us what a proper mind-set is by showing us these two people. He said, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14). Truly, we must realize that our Lord looks into the center of the heart to see if a person has sins inside his or her heart. When a person looks at others, the person tends to look at their outside appearances, but the Lord look at the center of their heart. People think that a person must carry out the ‘act’ of adultery to be accused of adultery, but God says that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. God looks into the center of a man’s heart and then says what kind of a man he is.
Therefore, we must at least once think about whether or not we really are like Zacchaeus. The tax collector Zacchaeus said, “I give half of my goods to the poor,” and what this means is that he will sell half of his wealth and give to the poor with a repenting heart since the way he lives is obvious to the Lord. He has confessed before God, “I am a lump of sin. I am a man headed for hell. Thus, I need You. You have met with me and come to my house. For that, I am confessing myself. I am a man headed for hell.”
You and I believe in Jesus. When God looks into your hearts and mine, that is, when He looks at our lives, will we be like bystanders before God or will we be like a brilliant protagonist before God for being righteous? In God’s view, are we those who are complete lumps of sin, fully headed for hell, or are we His people who have received the remission of sins? When God looks at us but if we had not been born again of the water and the Spirit, we should realize that we are merely sinners before God. Presupposing that we haven’t been born again of the water and the Spirit, if God were to look at the center of your heart and mine, look at our soul, look at our thoughts, look at our acts, and also look at our lives, we would be sinners before Him. We would be beings who require no other words to describe us. People who can honestly acknowledge that they are sinners and confess it before God will be able to receive the blessing of being born again of the water and the Spirit and meet our Lord.
Do you happen to experience the following? “When I am with the saints, it seems as though I do have faith in Jesus. However, when there is no one, it seems as though my heart is empty, there is no Jesus, there is no Word of Jesus, and I realize that I don’t even have the faith of believing in the Word.” Are there times when you feel this? When you are clapping hands crying out, “♩Come, Thou burning Spirit, Come; ♬Lo! We stretch our hands to Thee♪,” you feel as though you truly do have faith in Jesus. But as you look outside the window during a downpour of rain and look into your heart, when you ask yourself questions such as, “Do I really have faith in my heart, though there seems to be no faith?; do I have the Word of God inside my heart?; what Word do I believe in?; what Word do I have a hold of?; and what Word comes to my mind?” you feel as though your heart is in chaos, hollow, and empty, and your mind cannot come up with any Word of God. Do you happen to find yourself like this?
When you look at yourself, if you find yourself as a lump of all sorts of sins, you have to ask God to cleanse all your sins first. You must first find yourself feeling ashamed before God and people. You have hidden yourself so deep lest someone should find out your sins. You have feared meeting someone that knows you as you move from one neighborhood to another. You have moved frequently to other neighborhoods, but you have committed sins there also. So, you have felt ashamed to look at people there. You must know your fundamental nature. We must first know what kind of a human being we are and what kind of nature we have, and then we should ask the Lord to give us the blessing of being born again of the water and the gospel.
Spiritually, What Kind of People Are We before God?
Now, we will see just what kind of people we are through the Gospel of Mark chapter 7. Let us read verses 20-23 from the Gospel of Mark chapter 7. “And He said, ‘What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.’” Our Lord said what comes out of a man defiles a man. And He also tells us in detail what the things that come out of the heart of men are.
Then, let us take a look at what kind of sins come out of the heart of each and every man. First of all, evil thoughts come out of the heart of people. When thoughts are evil, acts become evil as well. There is a debate on which came first, chicken or the egg, but according to God’s Word, because He had to create animals in every kind, the chicken surely was created first by God.
Then, does the heart of a man come first or does the act come first? The heart of a man works first. If the heart of a man is dirty, filthy, and evil, then that man’s acts are surely evil, filthy, and dirty. Still, even though people are evil, they try not to sin. And even though they do sin, they try to have good heart in whatever way possible and make effort. As for people who do so, the number of times that they commit sins is small and they tend to commit them in hiding, but as for the people who commit sins very openly they are those that commit sins professionally.
Yet, Jesus tells us that what comes first out of a man is none other than evil thoughts. We are human beings. Among humans, we call some cruel persons as “someone who is worse than an animal.” Even wild beasts love their offspring, but there indeed are people who are less than beasts. On the other hand, animals rush about whenever food is given, but people aren’t like that. Rather, a human being shares whatever he or she has been eating, if asked by mother or father. It might be different if one’s own life is at stake, but clearly, human beings are different from animals.
Evil thoughts inside the heart of men are also sins. That is, having fornications means that one’s heart is like that. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the person has committed such an act. Even if one imagines adultery only inside one’s heart, it means that he has committed adultery in the Lord’s view. It is because the Lord said, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Furthermore, people have the desire to commit thievery and to commit murder. They have the desire to be covetous. They have wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness. Human beings do possess things like these. Do you understand clearly now?
Are there or are there not such sins inside your heart? There are. Are they inside the heart of every human being living in this world, or not? They are. Jesus said that there are such sins inside the heart of men. People do possess such heart, and they are born with the twelve kinds of sins inside their heart. Being born with such a sinful heart, they commit sins in due time. Today they commit this sin, and tomorrow they commit that sin. They commit sins like these in turn. They go on committing sins day-by-day and month-by-month. That is just how they are.
The problem for people is that they commit sins without even knowing that they are committing such sins. That is precisely the problem. In other words, it is a problem that they don’t know they are grave sinners. The very thought that they are not sinners so long as they don’t carry out such evil acts is precisely the evidence of the fact that they are becoming spiritually blind and that they haven’t yet been born again. Therefore, even if you didn’t put them into action, you must know what kinds of sins are inside your heart and what kind of a person you are. Socrates said, “Know yourself.” And our Lord made the same remark to the Pharisees.
In Luke 10, our Lord told the parable of the good Samaritan to a certain lawyer. Before He told this parable, this Pharisee asked Jesus, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” So Jesus asked him in return, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” The lawyer replied, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
So Jesus said, “You have answered rightly. Do you do that?”
“Yes. I love my neighbor as my body, and I love God the most.”
“Do you live like that?”
“Yes. I do live like that.”
“Can you act like that?”
“Yes. I can do that. Just let me know who my neighbor is. I will love the person as my body.” At the end of this dialog, our Lord came across the thought that this Pharisee was so very absurd. So, He told the parable to him in order that he might know himself.
These Twelve Kinds of Sin Are Also inside the Pharisee’s Heart
Evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness━all these sins were installed inside the heart of the Pharisee. Such sinful desires were all lumped up together in his heart, but this Pharisees, not realizing his essential nature, thought that he had lived according to God’s will. So he proudly asked, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
Just then, Jesus told him the parable: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves” (Luke 10:30). I’ve told you that the word, ‘Jericho,’ means ‘aroma,’ that is, ‘the world.’ And since Jerusalem is a religious city, it is a place where all kinds of religious men abide. The parable goes like this: A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, he met thieves, and those thieves wounded him, stripped him of his clothes, and left him half dead. Then, a certain priest saw the dying man as he was coming down the same road, but the priest passed by on the other side, likewise with a Levite who also passed by on the other side upon seeing that dying man. But a certain Samaritan discovered this man as he was journeying down the road. He had compassion for the victim, so he poured oil and wine on the dying man, bandaged his wounds, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. Furthermore, he provided the innkeeper with all the costs, like inn expenses and charges, and left saying, “If more money is spent before I come back, I will repay you. So, take good care of him.”
Jesus then asks the Pharisee, “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” “The Samaritan.” Jesus says, “Do likewise. If you do so, you will inherit eternal life.” With whom did Jesus identify the Pharisee who had asked Him the question? He identified him with hypocrites like the priest and the Levite. “You only speak glossily, and as you sit high up above before others, you are telling people to do this and that without even stirring a finger of your own. You torment people and speak as if you are a very pious teacher only with words. But, when you meet someone who is truly dying, you are someone who will run away.” Even though Jesus didn’t say all this, but His heart probably wanted to say so.
Levites are people who are said to be faithful to God. But one of the Levites also turned away from the dying person. Jesus identified this lawyer with such a hypocritical character saying, “You are such a man.”
In the Lord’s view, can we act upright? Are we beings who can live according to the Word of God before Him? No, we are not. As you go around churches in this world, there are certain pastors and deacons, and you may think that those people seem really virtuous and really upright. However, in God’s view, there isn’t a person who is devoid of the twelve kinds of sin.
Then, what was happening here? Jesus rebuked the Pharisees as self-righteous hypocrites. So Jesus scolded them, “You hypocrites, like a whitewashed tomb!” The Jews used to bury a corps under ground, cover it with dirt, paste some lime powder kneaded with water on top of it, and spread it out smoothly with hands. Why is a tomb built like that? On top of such a grave, not a single strand of grass will grow. And even though the outside may seem very smooth, inside, the corps will rot away. In other words, Jesus was saying that even though the lawyer’s acts seemed upright, the inside of his heart was hypocritical, full of filthy and ugly things. He is saying to such a person, “You sin secretly in your hiding. You are someone who deceives God, your own self, other people, as well as church goers.”
About a decade ago, a famous Buddhist priest named Sungcheol Lee passed away. Korean Buddhists as well as Buddhists from other countries revered the monk as a living Buddha. The monk Sungcheol Lee was a man who had practiced the spiritual meditation of wall-facing for ten years. Staying inside a hut, he would receive food through a small window, eat, and give back the emptied meal plates. He would take care of business using a manure pail, giving it back through a small hole when finished. He meditated for ten years like that, practicing spiritual exercise by facing a wall, and sleeping while sitting down. And so, people called him a living Buddha.
A great number of people admired and respected this monk Sungcheol Lee. Some Buddhists said, “The Great Monk Sungcheol Lee was a living Buddha. Possibly, he might have been greater than Buddha himself.” However, he composed a poem just before he passed away. In this poem, he wrote, “Throughout my life, I have deceived so many men and women; My sins have piled up higher than Mount Sumi.” Mt. Sumi is a legendary mountain that is known as the highest. By this lyric, he meant, “People tell me that, except for my feces, I would be a living Buddha. But even though they revere me so much, you don’t know just how many times I had lewd lusts in my heart when I looked at women.”
From other people’s viewpoint, the image of this monk Sungcheol Lee might have looked sublime. But even inside the heart of this man, there also were uncontrollable urges of lusts, and his heart was such that it would wander all over the place, up into the mountains and out into the fields, and then it would settle down once again. That is why he died by saying he had deceived so many men and women. He also said in his last poem, “I would fall into the bottomless pit of hell; And my lamentation will be tens of thousands of threads.” It means that he was worried that he might fall into a bottomless and endless hell like that.
He got to know himself at least that much because he had meditated. The difference between this monk Sungcheol Lee and others is that he knew accurately that he had sins inside his heart and that he will go to hell when he dies. I said lewdness is inside your heart. This is true.
God is the Creator who has made you and me. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” Do you know who this God is? Jesus Christ who came down to this earth in human flesh to save us is none other than this God. Jesus is the One who created this universe and every thing in it, and He is the God who has made you and me. So the Bible says, “The Word became flesh and came down among us, and the world was made through Him. But as He came to His own earth, His own did not receive Him. 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 created us and placed us in the Garden of Eden, but we were cast out from the Garden of Eden in the end because Satan the Devil deceived us into committing sins. And this is why, in God’s view, we are those lost to Him. Originally, human beings were a creation made in the image of God and were the people of God. We had become lost beings like that from God’s perspective. And that is why God came down to this earth in human flesh to rescue us.
God did come down to bring us back to His Kingdom, but there were still many people who did not know whether or not they are those whom God had lost and whether or not they are sinners. And for this reason, Jesus came down to this earth and said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man” (Mark 7:20-23). Do you believe this Word? Do you believe that you and I are like these people? Truly, we are sinners like that, even though others may have told us that we are kind and that we live as upright as a bamboo tree. Inside our heart there are such evils and sins, and we are beings who cannot but commit such sins all throughout our lives in our acts and thoughts. People who admit and confess this are precisely those who are like Zacchaeus. Our Lord will meet with people like that. I am saying we must realize this and accept it.
“I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold” (Luke 19:8). These words show Zacchaeus’ mind set unreservedly. “I am a person headed for hell. I am a complete lump of sin. Yet, how is it that You are coming to my house? I am a lump of sin who just simply cannot invite You in.” Our Lord speaks to sinners who confess like that: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. I want to call upon the sinful and cleanse them to be born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. By doing so, I want to have them live as God’s people. I will bless them by making them the children of God and the righteous before God.” Therefore, we must believe in this Word.
And furthermore, we must acknowledge our fundamental nature before God. Regardless of whether you have been believing in Jesus for a year, five years, twenty, or even one hundred years, if you were to acknowledge the fact that you cannot but commit such sins until you die, and that you are someone who ought to pay for the wages of sin by going to hell, our Lord will meet with you without fail. He will meet people who are like that.
“The Wages of Sin Is Death, but the Gift of God Is Eternal Life in Christ Jesus Our Lord”
The Lord said that the wages of sin is death. It means that if a person has sin, then that person will go to hell. There are twelve kinds of sin inside the heart of a human, and if one were to bring them out, the fruits of sin will start to grow, just as fruits of a tree grow in due time. It is the same principle as the blooming of flowers in spring, or bearing of fruits in summer, and harvesting of crops in autumn. Our Lord spoke of this by likening a person to a tree, saying, “Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit” (Matthew 7:17).
If you and I are likened to trees, we must make clear whether we ourselves are a good tree or a bad tree. We have to be sure of it before we move on. Dear fellow believers, are we a good tree or a bad tree? Being a bad tree when young may be fine, but later on, there will surely be problems. Problems will arise because of the lump of sins coming out from hearts such as evil thoughts in the hearts of mankind, desire to murder, desire to commit thievery, hearts that are lewd, hearts that are lustful, hearts that are blasphemous, and hearts that are proud. Such evil desires bear fruits such as evil acts, wicked acts, swindling, deceiving, coveting and striking people, conflicts, pride, and foolishness.
I saw yesterday a woman was headed to a market, but when her child cries and refuses to follow her, she will curse at the child, saying, “Stupid kid, die or not, do as you wish!” I’ve seen her telling her little son not to cry but then hitting the child as he continued to cry, saying, “Die.” Because there is foolishness inside the human heart, that woman’s pretty face changed to something like that of a witch, and she started cursing. Then, do you think men aren’t like that? We see neighborhoods getting noise just as a man who overflows with chivalry and dignity in normal times. Once he gets hurt in his ego and feels things aren’t going his way or whenever he drinks or is faced with a troubling problem, he yells, “Come on, anyone! I am going to kill whoever comes first!” And he will beat his wife relentlessly, saying, “Who are you to interfere?” just as the police arrives. These acts are the fruits of foolishness and madness installed inside the human heart.
Dear fellow believers, like so, each and every human being is a lump of sin, we are all the same. Only those who have been born again by the water and the Spirit are those who have received the remission of sins. People who haven’t yet been born again of the water and the Spirit are those who haven’t received the remission of sins. According to the Bible, weren’t there many Pharisees and people who claimed to believe in God? They were nothing more than bystanders because they hadn’t been able to be born again of the water and the Spirit. Among them, only a handful had received the remission of sins. You must realize that people who haven’t been born again of the water and the Spirit can only act as bystanders. Whether or not you agree to this fact is important.
If you want to become a righteous person before God, your heart must first receive the remission of sins rather than trying hard to give heed to your actions. It is said that God looks into the center of your heart first. Therefore, we must have the center of our heart be remedied first. Our Lord said, “Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also” (Matthew 23:26). He is telling us to receive the remission of sins first. He is telling us to be born again of the water and the Spirit. He is telling us to receive the blessing of being born again of the water and the Spirit for He will be bestowing that upon us. In order to receive that blessing, you must first become a sinner by acknowledging that you are a grave sinner. And only when you realize who you are, you can climb up into a sycamore tree and await the coming of the Lord. I mean that you need to be led by predecessors of faith to meet Jesus properly. Only then, while the bystanders desire just to see Jesus, you will be able to meet Jesus face to face with the conviction that you will go to hell if you do not get to meet Him. To see Him is way much different from meeting Him. We have to meet Jesus to gain peace. If we don’t, our hearts will be in agony, and we won’t be able to go on living in peace.
“I must meet Jesus to solve of the problem of sin. I must receive the blessing of being born again by the water and the Spirit from Jesus. If I don’t get to receive that, I will have to go to hell. I believe in Jesus, but because there are sins inside my heart, I will be going to hell. Despite having faith in Jesus, I will clearly be going to hell. I am a person who cannot but only go to hell if Jesus were to come again right at this moment.” To those whose heart is ready like this, our Lord will grant them the blessing of being born again of the water and the Spirit.
Hence, if you want to receive the blessing of being born again of the water and the Spirit, you must first accept that you are as told in the following: “Dear Lord, I have such and such evil thoughts inside my heart. Also, I have lived committing such and such sinful acts. And I will be doing so in the future as well. I am a grave sinner who does all sorts of filthy things when I get temperamental, even though I don’t intend to do them.” Dear fellow believers, if you want to be born again of the water and the Spirit, you must commit yourself to God. You must admit that you yourself are a sinner and that you are destined for hell. And you must hope for being born again of the water and the Spirit. With such heart, you must listen to the Word.
I would like to summarize the sermon and bring it to an end. I am saying that to receive the remission of sins, the field of your heart must be tilled first of all. A farmer will not sow on a ground filled with weeds after winter. If he wants to farm his field, he will first plow down that ground. He will pick out rocks and stones that lie under it by tilling the land. He will completely upturn it, and only then, he will dig up furrows, sow, and cover the seeds up. Only when he does all that, seeds will receive rain and sunlight, sprout, and become lettuces, cabbages, radishes, or tomatoes. You must also upturn your fixed ideas, too. You shouldn’t be thinking only with your head whether or not you are such a sinful person. Rather, as you truly think before God, you must realize that you are indeed such a grave sinner and ask God for His salvation.
Perhaps, there may be people who think, “Lord God, up until today, I have lived well, but I don’t know who I really am. I think I must dwell on this.” If you are someone like that, think carefully about yourself. “Have I truly lived righteously before God? And am I confident enough to live righteously in the future? Can I enter the Kingdom of Heaven without being born again of the water and the Spirit? Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). He said that we have to be born again of the water and the Spirit to enter the Kingdom of God and see the Father. Therefore, we must be born again of the water and the Spirit. To be so, we must first upturn the field of our hearts first.
There cannot but be sins inside the heart of those who haven’t yet been born again of the water and the Spirit. So, try to upturn your heart first. Are there hidden sins engraved inside your heart? Is your heart swarming with sins? To admit that is the way to have the mindset like that of Zacchaeus.
Zacchaeus said, “I give half of my goods to the poor.” This means, “Now, all my goods aren’t mine.” You must bear in mind that those who honestly admit and confess that they are grave sinners get to receive the blessing of being born again of the water and the Spirit before God.
Just because a man looks slick on the outside make that man a gentleman? A man has to be sinless in his heart to be a gentleman. If there are sins in a man’s heart, then that man isn’t even a human being. Is a man whose heart is filled with evil desires of lewdness, committing murder and thievery a human being? Such a man isn’t even a beast. Rather, he is less than a beast. He is a sinner destined to hell.
Nonetheless, if we suddenly die tonight, will we go to hell or Heaven? If you aren’t born again by the water and the Spirit now, you will be heading for hell. Pray that you’ll be allowed to attend the next meeting to hear another sermon. Let us safely pass by tonight and meet tomorrow morning. Until we meet tomorrow, you must take care of yourself. It is because the sermon hours will be at night. Once you hear the gospel, your heart will shine bright, and it will be fully cleansed. The Holy Spirit will come inside your heart and it will be filled with the Word of God. Since you have had faith in Jesus, it will be the first time you will have experienced such state of fulfillment.
Now, I am asking this question to our saints. Are you the righteous, or are you sinners? Yes, you are the righteous. If someone has not been born again of the water and the Spirit, is that person a sinner or the righteous? Yes, the person is a sinner headed to hell. In other words, people like Zacchaeus get to receive blessings from God.