“So the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the same day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing. Therefore she said to Abraham, ‘Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac.’ And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham’s sight because of his son. But God said to Abraham, ‘Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called.’”
The Son of Hagar Scoffed at Isaac
It is very important for you to understand here that it was not the son of Sarah, Abraham’s legitimate wife, who scoffed first. It’s written, “Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing.” As the above passage shows, Ishmael the son of Abraham, who was born from Hagar the bondwoman, first scoffed at Isaac the son of Sarah. At that time, Ishmael was around 13 years old. And Isaac had just been weaned. It says here that Abraham held a great feast after Isaac was weaned.
When do we hold a feast for our children? In Korea, a feast is held on the hundredth day from the birth of a child, and then again on its first birthday. The feast held by Abraham was probably similar in nature. So while a great feast was being held for baby Isaac, Sarah saw Ishmael, the son of her bondwoman, hitting and kicking her own son Isaac. This was completely unacceptable to Sarah. Sarah therefore said to Abraham, “Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac.” This means that even though Ishmael was also Abraham’s son, he could not, as the son of Hagar the bondwoman, inherit Abraham’s wealth like his legitimate son Isaac. Ishmael the son of Hagar could not live with Abraham’s family regardless of how filial he was and how hard he tried to live in harmony with everyone else. He had to be driven out. God absolutely did not want this son of Abraham born from a bondwoman to dwell in his house.
What do you think was the reason for this? God had clearly promised Abraham, “He who is born from Sarah will be your son. And through him I will make your descendants as many as the stars in the sky.” God said that through Isaac He would give the inheritance of the land of Canaan, that is, the inheritance of Heaven. God promised that the blessings given to Abraham would also be given to the one born from Abraham. This meant that only the one who was born from Sarah, Abraham’s legitimate wife, would be able to receive God’s blessings. It was Isaac, not Ishmael, who was born from Sarah. This Isaac was born through the Word of God. The child who was born in time according to God’s Word of promise was none other than Isaac.
Inheritance Is Received by Those Who Are Made Righteous by the Word of God
My fellow believers, living among us the true Christians are those who like Ishmael, have not been born again. This means that some Christians have been born again by believing in the Word of God, while others think that they have been born again by human efforts and emotions rather than the pure Word of God, and therefore these Christians still remain sinners. Indeed, among Christians there clearly are those who claim to have been born again by the flesh, and then there are God’s children who have been born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. What do you think is the relationship between these two types of Christians? Those who have not been truly born again—that is, those who are born through fleshly human relationships—can never be united with those who have been born again through the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit that holds the righteousness of God, no matter how hard they try. Moreover, they can never be heirs to the inheritance of God which is reserved for those who have been born again by the Word of God.
On this earth where we are living, the born-again Christians who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are indeed far in the minority. But they are the ones whose hearts have received the Holy Spirit by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the Word of God. What other types of Christians are there besides these true ones? These are those who, born by the fleshly means of man rather than by the Word of God, do not know the gospel of the water and the Spirit and instead claim that salvation is reached just by believing in Jesus in whatever way one wishes.
The child born by God’s Word of promise is Isaac. Of course, Ishmael was also Abraham’s son, but because he was not born by God’s Word of promise, he was not qualified to be heir to Abraham’s inheritance and wealth. This is akin to those Christians who, because they do not believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, have not received the remission of sins, and therefore cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. As we know, Abraham’s wife Sarah was a barren woman. So God had promised Sarah with His Word that He would give her a son, and God indeed gave her a son. But what did Abraham do? Even though God had promised Abraham that He would give him a son, he grew impatient and could not wait for this promise to unfold, and so he begot a child through human means.
Although both Isaac and Ishmael were Abraham’s sons, Ishmael became a threat to the harmony of this family. These two sons were like water and oil in character. Isaac was someone who inherited Abraham’s faith according to the Word of God, whereas Ishmael was a son begotten through fleshly means, and therefore they fought constantly, and later his descendants became the enemies of Israel. This was the relationship between the people of God and those who were not His people. Isaac was a child of God, for he was born by the Word of the Almighty God rather than by human means. My fellow believers, all of us who truly believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are those who, like Isaac, have been born again by this righteous Word of God.
However, there are many people in this world who profess to believe in Jesus according to their own wills, while remaining ignorant of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The faith of those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit is completely different from the faith of those who do not believe in this genuine gospel. They are very different from each other, just as Isaac and Ishmael were different from each another. This distinction was found in the past, and it is also found among today’s Christians. The same distinction is made in this present age. In this age also, there are clearly the people of God who have been born again by believing in the true Word of God. Such people who have been born again in this world by believing in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit are approved by God as Isaac was approved. But God will never approve the faith of those who have not been born again by this genuine gospel and instead profess to believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior based on their own human emotions, fleshly thoughts, or wills.
Those Who Believe in the Gospel of the Water and the Spirit Cannot Dwell with Those Who Have Not Been Spiritually Born Again
Let’s think about this spiritually. Here is a righteous saint who was a sinner but has been born again by believing in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit that constitutes the righteousness of God. On the other hand, there is a nominal Christian who is still a sinner and believes in some Christian doctrines rather than the complete Word of God, thinking that the remission of sins can be attained just by believing in Jesus as the Savior. How could these two people ever work together? These two people can never work together, nor is it possible for them to receive the same rewards, just as Isaac and Ishmael could not live together and receive the same inheritance.
What does the Bible say about this? Sarah requested Abraham, “Cast out this bondwoman and her son.” It was absolutely impossible for Isaac and Ishmael to live together. Ishmael had to be cast out of the house of Abraham without fail. Why then, my fellow believers, is it impossible for us the born-again to live with those who have not been born again by the Word of God? Is it because these people are bad-tempered? No. The believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit actually try hard to live with these people. They try hard to accommodate them, and they make a lot of compromises. However, unless these sinners receive the remission of sins through the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit, it is impossible for us be united with them. How could we call them God’s saints just like us, when in fact they have sin in their hearts? How could we say that these people have been born again when they have actually not been born again, for they do not believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the Word of God?
Christian sinners in this world always make the following protest to the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit: “Now that I’ve listened to you, everything you have said is right. But you should still approve our faith also. Why don’t you approve our faith then?” They refuse to approve our faith unless we approve theirs. That’s why they stand against us. They say, “Have we not approved your faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? You should then also approve our faith and our gospel.” But we can’t ever do this.
My fellow believers, as those who have been born again by the Word of God, we are approved by everyone who is honest before God. Once other Christians grasp our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, they approve us everywhere in Christian communities, saying, “The gospel of the water and the Spirit you believe in is right. Your faith is right!” However, we do not approve the faith of those who are too stubborn to accept this genuine gospel, and it is for this reason that they persecute us.
A certain pastor once said to me, “I’d like to work with you, so please come to my church and preach to our church members.” So I told him, “If I preach the Word of God at your church, everyone will be offended. Once I preach the Word of God to your church members, they won’t be able to lead their lives of faith as comfortably as before. Their hearts will be troubled and their faces will turn red in anger. Even though they are smiling now, this is what will happen once I preach the Word to them. If you are okay with this, ask permission from the head of your synod. I’ll preach once you get his permission.”
I said these things because their faith was completely different from mine. Although we are insufficient in our flesh, we are the ones who have been born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the righteous Word of God. We are fundamentally different from those who just profess to believe in Jesus as their Savior. We are of those who, by believing in God’s Word of promise, were born from Abraham’s legitimate wife Sarah.
Have You Become Abraham’s Descendant by Believing in the Righteous Word of God?
God said to Abraham, “I will give this land of Canaan to your descendants, but on one condition: Everyone descending from you must be circumcised.” Accordingly, all the descendants of Abraham were circumcised. Circumcision is the evidence showing that one is a descendant of Abraham. Isaac was thus circumcised when he was eight days old.
Then, my fellow believers, have your hearts received spiritual circumcision through the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Do your hearts have the sign showing that you are believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Do you really have the belief that Jesus Christ bore all the sins of the world by being baptized by John? Have you been born again by the Word of God? It is the faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that constitutes such a sign in your heart. None other than this is spiritual circumcision. In the Book of Romans, Paul said, “Circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter” (Romans 2:29).
Have you been born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? If so, then you are the ones who have been born again by believing in the Word of God. You are the children born of the Word of God. It is we who have been born as God’s children through the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit. Have all of us been born again through the righteous Word of God? If so, then you and I are believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We are the heirs who will inherit the Kingdom of God, Heaven. We are the ones who will inherit the Kingdom of God even if we don’t want to.
The clear standard that discerns those who have become God’s children from those who have not is whether or not one has placed his faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the Word of God. If you do not believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and therefore you have not fully united yourself with Jesus Christ, then you are testifying yourself that you are not a believer in this genuine gospel. If Christians in this world were to realize that anyone can be born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the Word of God, then they also will be able to have fellowship with God, for they will become His true children. But should someone be not able to have fellowship with God on account of his sins, then it’s because this person has not been born again through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the Word of God.
You’ve probably met your relatives over this past holiday. Among your relatives, there must have been some Christians as well. On outside appearance, these Christians and you are in fact very similar. Just as they pray to Jesus, so do you also pray to Jesus. Just as they praise Jesus, you praise Jesus also. You also make your offerings just as they do. At least on outside appearances, there is nothing that sets them apart from you.
However, there is one clear difference, and it is that while these people were born from Hagar, those of you who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit were born from Sarah. Other than this, there is no distinction when looking from outside. Isaac and Ishmael both had the same father, Abraham, and God was also their God. But who was the mother? From whom were they born? Isaac and Ishmael were completely different based on this fact that Isaac was born from Sarah and Ishmael was born from Hagar. The question is whether we have been born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the Word of God, or by believing in some man-made Christian doctrines.
What Must We Believe in to Receive the Remission of Sins into Our Hearts?
Recently I came across a certain pastor’s sermon tape. This pastor is a very famous revivalist in Korea, someone who has been preaching the gospel for ages. However, what do you suppose this pastor said when his congregation asked him how one could become God’s child? His answer went as following: “Do you believe that the God who made the heavens and the earth is your Father? If you do, then each one of you is God’s child. To believe like this is the evidence that you have become God’s child.”
My fellow believers, we the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit can never say such things. It is written, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19) What does this passage mean? Even demons believe that God the Almighty exists and they also fear God. Even witches in the world say that they believe in God. I mean, believing in God’s existence itself is not a sufficient condition for becoming God’s children. Yet such an absurd thing is what one of Korea’s most renowned revivalists was saying.
In contrast, we ask and answer the following questions: “Do you recognize that you are a sinner based on the Word of God? Have you received the remission of sins through the Word of God, by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Have you received the gift of the Holy Spirit through your faith in this genuine gospel of the water and the Spirit? Have you become God’s child by your faith in this authentic gospel?” If all your sins are washed clean correctly with the Word of God, then you will not only become His child but also receive the gift of the Spirit of God along the way.
Indeed, if you receive the remission of sins into your heart through the Word of God, you will naturally receive the Holy Spirit and become a child of God. You will then inherit the Kingdom of Heaven automatically. If you believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit while on this earth, you will become one of God’s people and you will be deservedly blessed by Him. You will be a follower of God the Almighty, you will be protected by Him, and you will receive His blessings. All these things are the blessings that come only by the Word of God.
When we say these things, we may garner the hatred of today’s Christians. In reality, we should pity them. When your family members or some people mock you, what do they say? They say in a condescending tone, “Why are you so peculiar when we all believe in the same Jesus? Why don’t you approve us? Are you saying that every gospel other than your own gospel is wrong?” However, my fellow believers, the faith that’s placed in the Cross alone is different from the faith that’s placed in the complete gospel of the water and the Spirit. They are clearly different from each other. Just as Isaac and Ishmael were different from each other, the faith of those who have been born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the Word of God, is clearly different from the faith of the rest.
Hagar in today’s Scripture passage was a young woman. If she wanted to, she could have easily born many more children. She could have born a child every year. If she had twins, she would have given birth to even more children. In those days, it was not unusual for a woman to give birth to a dozen children. Most women had seven or eight children, even if they lost some of them. But how was Sarah, Abraham’s legitimate wife? After giving birth to Isaac, Sarah could not bear any more children.
What does this mean? Of course, one obvious reason is that Sarah was unable to bear anymore children in her physical state. But the very lesson we must grasp from this fact is that God wanted to multiply the descendants of the righteous on this earth through Isaac—that is, only through someone who believed in the Word of God correctly. Yet despite this will of God, worldly Christians say, “Whoever believes in Jesus as his Savior will go to Heaven unconditionally. You will be saved just by believing in Jesus. You will also become God’s child. If you want to receive Jesus into your heart, repeat this prayer after me, ‘Father, I am a sinner. But I believe in You, Father. Lord, please forgive my sins. Please come into my heart. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.’ Halleluiah! With this prayer, you have now received the Lord. You are now God’s child.”
What is this, my fellow believers? Is this the kind of faith derived from the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit, the Word of God? No, it is nothing more than a faith fabricated by man made religious doctrines of Christianity; it is definitely not the true faith that comes from the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
One Cannot Become a Child of God through One’s Own Human Effort
It’s absolutely important for you to remember that you cannot become God’s sinless child through your own human acts or by relying on any existing Christian doctrines. This is the difference that sets us apart from the rest, for we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit as our salvation, while others believe in something else. Even though we have many shortcomings, we the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are God’s children and we will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. All parents, whether of the flesh or spirit, forgive their children with love no matter what mistakes they make. Abraham loved his son Isaac deeply as he was the apple of his eye. Any wrongdoing that a child commits is all forgiven by his parents. The same is true for us. If we really are God’s children born by believing in His righteousness, then Jesus Christ our Savior has taken away all our blemishes.
My fellow believers, do you realize this fact and believe in it? Think about it. How would Ishmael, born from Hagar, have been treated? Although Abraham would not have mistreated him, Sarah would have said, “You worthless bastard. You are a son of a bondwoman! Why were you born?” Every time Ishmael lashed out at Isaac or made a mistake, he would have been scorched like this. Why do you suppose this would be the case? That’s because Ishmael was born from an illegitimate relationship. He was born because his mother, a bondwoman, slept with her master even though she should not have done so, all because of Abraham’s impatience which resorted to human means. As an illegitimate son, it was a fait accompli that Ishmael would never be unable to be heir to Abraham with Isaac.
How do you feel in your heart when your family members ignore you, or when they say to you in their attempt to understand you as follows?—“My son, you and I believe in the same Jesus, so let’s be in harmony. Let’s try to get along.” Your mind might become confused. And you might try to understand your family members, thinking, “Yes, my parents also believe in Jesus just as I believe in Jesus. We can all get along then. It was a mistake for me to reject them just because they don’t believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that I believe in so fervently.”
However, my fellow believers, you must remember that we can never be assimilated in with them. We simply cannot share anything in common with them. We believe that we ourselves have been born again by believing in the Word of God that has come by the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and we must wait for them in patience so that they will also one day be able to be born again through the righteous Word of God. This is what we should be doing. We know that we should not do what those who have not been born again through the Word of God ask us to do. My foster mother has been running a prayer house for a long time. When I first left her prayer house, she told me earnestly, “If you come and live with me, you will be healed from dyspepsia in no time.” She still wants me to live with her. She still wants me to preach the Word at her prayer house together with her. She still promises to transfer the ownership of the prayer house to me if only I would return to her, but I can’t do this. That’s because my faith is different from my mother’s faith.
The same goes for your family members as well. Your family members do not wish to fight with you either, and they want to believe in Jesus their way and work together with you. But their goals are different from ours. We are working to save souls from sin through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, whereas they are working to turn people into religious practitioners. So there is a clear difference between their faith and ours. Their labour—that is, trying to turn people into mere religious practitioners—cannot bear any spiritual fruit no matter what. In contrast, what we are doing is the spiritual work of salvation, delivering people from sin by preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit to them. Unless you realize this, your heart will suffer a great deal of pain.
What do the people of the world say about us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? When we say that we have become righteous people by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the legalistic believers accuse us of being heretics even though we are all Christians. Don’t they say to us that they are different from us? This actually makes me very happy. After all, did you not struggle all this time trying to be the same as them? So I say to them, “You are right. You spoke very well. You and I are very different. What would have happened if we were the same? I would also be heading to hell just like you. So how fortunate is it that I am different from you?”
Indeed, because we think that we are different from them; our hearts are strengthened and encouraged. That is how you should also think. We must remember that we are different from the religious people of this world, and we must live by trusting in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Only then can we find strength in our hearts and follow the righteousness of the Lord faithfully. When we try to become the same as the people of the world, we will then as true Christians lose the strength of our faith. We are different from them in every aspect. Our faith is different, just as our way of life on this earth is also different.
My fellow believers, just as you are God’s children and different from the rest, Isaac was also different from Ishmael the son of Hagar. In every aspect, from his faith and all the blessings he received, Isaac was different. Our lives are also different from the lives of the people of the world. Recognizing this by faith, we must abide in the Lord and live by faith in all things just as God wants us to.
When Isaac got married, what did he do? He brought his bride from the household of his uncle, a relative of Abraham, rather than from another tribe. He brought Rebekah from the house of Laban.
You and I must believe in God and His Word. If you really believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, salvation will come into your heart. If you really believe in the righteousness of God and the gospel of the water and the Spirit as given by the Lord, then you have the Holy Spirit in your heart. And the Holy Spirit dwelling in your heart will rule over your life. Hence, rather than being self-complacent now that we have received the remission of sins, we should continue to believe in God and His Word of righteousness. I hope and pray that you will all abide by this one true faith.
We are now living in God amid His blessings. I admonish you to abide in the righteousness of God and live by faith. And to live like this, you must have the unwavering belief that you are different from the people of the world. You and I are of those born through the Word of God. Is this true or not? Of course it is. We have been born again by believing in God’s Word of righteousness. Let us then live with courage as Sarah’s legitimate children. Let us protect our status. Let us remember that we are Abraham’s children born from his legitimate wife. Of course, while our bodies were born through our parents, our souls have been born again through the Word of God.
So let us all live the rest of our lives with pride, remembering that we were born of the Word of God. Let’s not lower ourselves by seeking the company of the illegitimate children of the flesh like Ishmael. Let’s live with confidence, saying boldly to them, “You go on your own way; I will go on my own.” If in your mind you still cannot clearly discern the born-again from those who have not been born again, then I ask you to make this distinction clearly right now, and be proud of yourself as God’s child born of His Word, a child born from Sarah. And I admonish you to act in a way that’s worthy of being a child born of the Word, to believe in God, and to attain His happiness in your life.