“If the body develops a boil in the skin, and it is healed, and in the place of the boil there comes a white swelling or a bright spot, reddish-white, then it shall be shown to the priest; and if, when the priest sees it, it indeed appears deeper than the skin, and its hair has turned white, the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is a leprous sore which has broken out of the boil. But if the priest examines it, and indeed there are no white hairs in it, and it is not deeper than the skin, but has faded, then the priest shall isolate him seven days; and if it should at all spread over the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is a leprous sore. But if the bright spot stays in one place, and has not spread, it is the scar of the boil; and the priest shall pronounce him clean. Or if the body receives a burn on its skin by fire, and the raw flesh of the burn becomes a bright spot, reddish-white or white, then the priest shall examine it; and indeed if the hair of the bright spot has turned white, and it appears deeper than the skin, it is leprosy broken out in the burn. Therefore the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is a leprous sore. But if the priest examines it, and indeed there are no white hairs in the bright spot, and it is not deeper than the skin, but has faded, then the priest shall isolate him seven days. And the priest shall examine him on the seventh day. If it has at all spread over the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is a leprous sore. But if the bright spot stays in one place, and has not spread on the skin, but has faded, it is a swelling from the burn. The priest shall pronounce him clean, for it is the scar from the burn.”
Today’s Scripture reading comes from Leviticus chapter 13. It describes how to diagnose leprosy. Leviticus 13:18-20 says, “If the body develops a boil in the skin, and it is healed, and in the place of the boil there comes a white swelling or a bright spot, reddish-white, then it shall be shown to the priest; and if, when the priest sees it, it indeed appears deeper than the skin, and its hair has turned white, the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is a leprous sore which has broken out of the boil.”
Most of the people listening to the Word of God here today are probably city folks. I also have lived only in cities, so I can’t say that I know much about rural life. Once, around the time I graduated from elementary school, I visited my brother’s home in the countryside. There were many persimmon trees, and the people in the town were fond of them. Today’s Scripture passage reminds me of these persimmons. When a persimmon falls from the tree, it’s usually hard at first. In time, however, it begins to ripen and turn soft. Once the persimmon turns soft enough, people eat what’s inside while discarding the skin. Sometimes, if there are too many persimmons that have fallen from the trees, they are gathered up and pickled with salt to be eaten later.
A persimmon usually changes its outside color over time. Eventually, tiny white hairs begin to form on the skin, like cotton balls. These are probably mold, formed when the persimmon begins to rot. Today, we are studying the Word of God how leprosy was diagnosed then.
In the age of the Old Testament, the priests were given the task of diagnosing the people of God for leprosy. If someone was diagnosed with leprosy, this person was driven out of the city and quarantined away from the rest of the population. One way they diagnose leprosy in Israel was as follows: When someone burned his skin and a sore appeared on that wound, diagnosis was made depending on whether or not the sore spread around the skin or not. If the sore did not spread around the skin, then leprosy was ruled out. But if that sore had spread around and was deeper than the skin, then leprosy was suspected. And if white swellings or reddish spots developed or spread, then the person was diagnosed with leprosy. In other words, if the skin began to develop uneven sores and these rotting sores spread around the skin, like a rotting persimmon, then the person was diagnosed with leprosy and was quarantined. Such lepers were normally driven out of the camp.
Although leprosy can spread to the whole body, at first, it’s usually localized appearing on a certain part of the body. It’s said that leprosy can even show up as baldness. Of course, this does not mean by inheritance you have gone bald, you have leprosy. There is a pastor in our gathering today who is rather thin on top, but he shouldn’t worry about this. The bald leper that the Scripture speaks of does not refer to such a person with few or no hairs on his head.
So, even if you are bald, you have nothing to do with the leprosy the Scripture is describing here. Leprosy was diagnosed when someone had sores that were deeper than the skin, and these sores were oozing and spreading around the body. However, the Scripture says rather counter-intuitively that if leprosy covered the whole body, then this person was pronounced clean, even though he was diagnosed with leprosy.
When we read this Word of God, we are reminded of how our Lord came to this earth to save sinners and delivered them from all their sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. It’s important for us to remember, however, that even though the Lord came to this earth as the Savior of sinners, He has perfectly saved only those who have fully admitted themselves completely as sinners and were bound to hell. From today’s Scripture passage describing how leprosy was diagnosed, we need to realize what the Lord is saying here to us about the sins that are in the human heart. Spiritually speaking, who then are the lepers? The spiritual lepers are those who do not know the gospel of the water and the Spirit and have not received the remission of sins.
General Naaman’s Leprosy
When we turn to 2 Kings chapter 5, we read about General Naaman. It’s written here that Naaman was the commander of the army of Syria, but he was also suffering from this dread disease of leprosy. Even though he was the commander of the entire army of a nation and highly respected for the many things he had done for his country, but because he was a leper, he could not find true happiness. Outwardly, he was rich, successful and powerful. As a solder, he was a great man of duty, but as a leper, he must have felt very sorry not only to himself but also to his family. General Naaman was ashamed of his leprosy, and his life was not very happy either.
However, he heard good news from his wife’s slave, a young Hebrew girl working in his house. This young girl, a captive from the land of Israel, was serving Naaman’s wife. When the girl found out that General Naaman was suffering from leprosy, she told his wife that if he went to Israel and saw a servant of God named Elisah, he would be healed from leprosy.
As you all know, in those ancient days leprosy was known as an incurable disease. Leprosy covers the victims’ skin with sores and leads the whole body to rot away. At that time, it was considered to be a fatal disease.
In fact, there were other diseases that were as incurable and fatal as leprosy was in the days of the Old Testament, but spiritually speaking, what is the fatal disease that claims every victim’s life? It is none other than the “diseases of sin.” What kills and ruins everyone forever? It is the sins of mankind. It’s very important for you to realize here that if anyone lives with a sinful heart, this person must face condemnation for his sins.
It’s not anything else but the disease of sin that ruins one’s soul. If there is one disease that kills everyone, it is none other than the disease of sin that afflicts everyone from the day one is born in this world. All human beings have sin from the day they are born in this world, and therefore unless they are washed clean from these sins, they will perish forever.
Because everyone has this dreaded thing called sin, everyone must face the punishment of that sin as the result. All human beings are born as sinners in God’s sight, and they all live with these sins. It is therefore absolutely indispensable for everyone to realize their sinfulness before God. And people must also realize that regardless of whether or not they recognize God and His law, they were all born with sins, and therefore these sins will lead them to death. It is like the flesh of General Naaman rotting away because of his leprosy. Even though he was the commander of the army of Syria and the greatest hero of that nation, he was bound to lose his everything due to his leprosy. Like this, everyone is facing ruin because of their sins. What is killing everyone is the sins that people have. It is this dread sickness of sin that is killing human beings.
Leprosy Is Like the Sins of Mankind
The symptoms of leprosy do not appear right away, lying dormant. It’s said that it can take up to three years for a leprosy patient to realize that he has the disease, and another three years for others to find it out. So, should the leprosy patient wish to hide his disease, he can do this anywhere from six to nine years. After this, the symptoms become so widespread that it’s no longer feasible to hide it. Another characteristic of leprosy is that while its symptoms begin to appear in a specific, localized part of the body, eventually, the disease spreads over the entire body. As leprosy spreads over the whole body, it can result into severe disfigurement that sometimes leads the patient to lose body parts such as ears, fingers, toes, and so forth.
As you can see, leprosy is one of the most feared diseases that wrecks havoc on the patient. The Scripture sometimes speaks of leprosy as an analogy to the sins of mankind. Spiritually speaking, leprosy is like the sins that are in the human heart. During the age of the Old Testament, leprosy was widespread and whoever became affected with this disease perished from it eventually. In the same vein, whoever has any sin in the heart will ultimately reach death and destruction.
As the descendants of Adam, we were all born with sins. That’s why the Lord said in Mark 7:21-22, what proceeds from the heart of man is what defiles him, “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.” Everyone is born into this world with such sins, there is no escape.
However, we see many people arguing otherwise to deny this Truth spoken by the Word of God. Regardless, God said clearly that from the moment human beings were conceived in the wombs of their mothers, they were all born with sins. Everyone was thus born into this world with such evil thoughts and attributes. In fact, not only were we all born with such wicked attributes in our hearts, but we also bear nothing but evil fruit throughout our entire lifetime. All of us were born into this world with these attributes of sin. We inherited from our parents all the evil attributes of sin. So, by their fundamental nature, all human beings were born into this world with an evil heart. All of us were therefore born into this world with every conceivable wickedness. That is why we keep on committing the same sins over and over again while living in this world. It’s for this reason that everyone sins time after time until the day one dies.
Our thoughts are as evil as our acts. From the day we were born to the day we die, we have nothing but evil thoughts. Everyone’s heart is filled with such evil desires as fornication, theft, murder, adultery, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, pride, and foolishness, How about you then? Don’t you also have such wicked desires? Of course you do. Not only were all of us born with such evil thoughts and desires, but we also act them out in our lives. Some of you might then wonder, “A lot of people don’t actually do wicked things, so how can you explain this?” There is a reason for this. Although everyone in this world was born with such wickedness, people do not act it out freely because there are secular laws against them. So, when someone acts out his evil desires in a way that breaks the law, this person is punished under that law, which serves as a deterrent to restrain them from acting out their evil desires.
The problem, however, is that many people still do not realize that they have wicked desires in their hearts. When the Apostle Paul stood before the mirror of the Law of God and saw himself, he lamented over just how wicked his heart was. People are really self-righteous only because they do not know the function of the Law of God. It is so saddening to see so many people not realizing that they were all born as the brood of sin who commit sins from the day they were born from the wombs of their mothers to the day they die.
Most people do not realize their sinful nature even when they reach their teens and older. Nowadays kids grow up so fast that by the time they reach middle school, they can easily manifest their sinfulness. When people come to learn and understand the Word of God, they can quickly realize that they are evildoers, but we see that many people live without reaching this understanding. Although we can hide our hearts to a certain extent, by the time we reach puberty, we come to realize that we have all kinds of evil thoughts in our hearts. But, what’s even more important is to agree with God when He says that everyone is born and lives with such wickedness as evil thoughts, murderous desires, adulterous lust, covetousness, theft, lewdness, foolishness, and so forth. So, we know from the Word of God that we ourselves are filled with the desire to commit such sins.
Everyone’s heart is full of such impulsive desires, but people are very careful and secretive with their acts because they are afraid of the secular law and punishment that would follow if they acted out those desires. So, most people act out their wickedness only infrequently. The problem, however, is that they are still unaware of the fact that they have such wickednesses, and as a result they continue to deceive themselves into thinking that they are good people. In reality, they are living in darkness. This world is full of such confused people.
Because so many people are unaware of their sinfulness, when they see themselves committing all kinds of sins, they are shocked to see this and fear themselves. As a result, some people reproach themselves and grieve over their sinfulness, lamenting over the sins they committed. However, even as they reproach themselves for sinning, many of them still do not realize their true selves. On the contrary, with the passing of time, they end up committing even more sins and rationalizing themselves by blaming others, rather than realizing that it is in their human nature to sin like this. Eventually, they come to live without any awareness of their evil selves. In contrast to the Scripture, the secular educational system teaches that human beings are good by nature, and that everyone is therefore capable of living virtuously. Secular educators claim that if only people are given enough ethical education, they can all lead a morally upright life by their nature.
Countless people in this world think mistakenly that human beings are good by nature, but in reality, everyone sins constantly in his life because everyone was born with evil thoughts. It’s absolutely indispensable for you to recognize this. Because the secular educational system teaches that everyone is born as a good person by nature, people can’t admit their sinfulness even when they see themselves sinning. We see so many people being deceived by themselves and the fallacious deceitful teachings of the world. As a result, countless people come to struggle so much with themselves and suffer a great deal over their wickedness. Not knowing how to solve the problem of their sins, they therefore turn to the many diverse religious leaders in the world.
It’s because these people do not know what to do about their sins that they rely on the religions of this world and these leaders. When we look at such religious leaders, we see that they try to discipline themselves not to commit any sin, in an effort to become a god themselves. Buddhism, for instance, teaches its many followers to become a god themselves. That’s what Buddhists believe, and accordingly, they try to make themselves divine through their own human efforts.
However, no one can transcend oneself to become a god. What Buddhism teaches is simply impossible, for no human being can ever overcome its wickedness. Buddhism also speaks of 108 earthly desires, also known as defilements. It teaches that human beings face 108 earthly desires, and to overcome all these defilements, one must reach Nirvana. This, however, is totally impossible. It’s nothing more than empty words, for the only way Buddhists can escape from their 108 earthly desires is death. In contrast, God teaches us that our hearts are washed from all our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
There has not been a single person on the earth who has ever escaped from his sins through his own efforts. Some religious practitioners worship their ancestors. Saying that their ancestors are helping them, they claim that if they venerate their ancestors and do many good deeds, they will go to Heaven. They are fond of speaking of the so-called “moral path,” teaching that one must cultivate oneself morally. Following this teaching, many people try to do good and kind to others, but it’s all useless, as they only see themselves being hardened even more by their sins.
When we turn to Genesis chapter 1, we see God creating man, starting with the sentence that says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” We also see God speaking to us human beings, explaining to us how we came to have sin, and why we can’t help but sin in our lives. From the very beginning, God is explaining to us with what kinds of sins we were all born with in this world. He is telling us that everyone sins because everyone was born with a sinful heart. Like leprosy spreading over the whole body, the sins of mankind rule over every single person’s entire life. Because all people inherited a sinful heart from their ancestors from the day they were born, they cannot help but sin all the time.
We Must Believe in the Righteousness of the Lord That Makes Us Sinless
Jesus said that He came to save such sinners from all their sins. He said to His disciples, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” And He also said, “A physician is needed by someone who is ill. A healthy person has no need for a physician.” Our Lord told us that He is our Savior. All human beings living in this world inherited sins from their parents from the day they were born. If this were not the case, then no one would need to find Jesus Christ the Savior, nor would anyone need to believe in Him. Put differently, if you were someone who commits no sin at all while living in this world, then there would be no need for you to seek Jesus Christ and believe in this Savior.
In contrast, if you recognize that you were born with sins, then you would be compelled to look for Jesus Christ and believe in His righteousness. Otherwise, you are inevitable bound to perish for your sins of not believing in the righteousness of God with your heart. Such people who recognize their sinfulness cannot help but look for Jesus Christ. The righteousness of God applies without fail to all those who realize clearly that they themselves are sinners before not only the ethics and morals of man, but also the commandments of God.
Because of the fall of the forefathers of mankind, all human beings became sinners. Because of one man Adam, everyone became a sinner and inherited Adam’s sins. That is why, spiritually speaking, everyone is like a leper. Everyone, in other words, is a sinner before God.
Therefore, Jesus the Savior is absolutely indispensable to us to heal us from the disease of all our sins. Jesus Christ is the only Savior who can save us His people from all our sins. Every sinner without doubt, needs Jesus, and it is by believing in His righteousness that we are saved. All human beings must therefore know and believe in the righteousness of Jesus, and that is why they must all believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Unless people receive healing from their sick souls which are laden with sins, they will end up reaching death. That’s because the Lord said to us that “the wages of sins is death.”
Having created us with dust and the breath of life, the Lord came to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man to save us personally when we fell into sin. He was then baptized by John the Baptist, shed His blood on the Cross, rose from the dead again, and has thereby become our Savior once and for all. Jesus was born in a small town called Bethlehem. We must believe that when Jesus Christ turned 30 years of age, He remitted away all our sins. We must believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit without fail, the Truth of salvation through which Jesus has delivered us from the sins of the world. Since you and I were born as sinners, it’s absolutely indispensable for us to realize the righteousness of God and believe in it. Jesus came to this earth as the Savior of mankind by coming to look for us. All of us were sinners, and that is precisely why it was necessary for Jesus to come looking for us. We must therefore believe in the righteousness of Jesus as our salvation.
Before Jesus came to this earth, there was a servant sent by God the Father beforehand. This servant of God is John the Baptist who baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. John the Baptist was God’s servant who passed all the sins of this world to Jesus once and for all by baptizing Him. Wearing camel skin for clothes, John the Baptist shouted out in the wilderness to the people of Israel to repent. This man’s daily food was honey, water, and wild fruits and plants. He shared fellowship with God in the wilderness while waiting for his time. Calling the people of Israel “a brood of vipers,” he shouted out to them to repent. He preached to them to turn around from their idolatry. He also said, “Whoever does not repent will perish, for the ax is laid to the root of the tree. Just as tree is cut down and thrown into the fire, whoever does not repent will be destroyed.”
Referring to John the Baptist, Jesus said that he came “in the way of righteousness.” However, many people did not know that John the Baptist was the one whom Jesus was speaking of, who had come in the way of righteousness. When John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ in the Jordan River, Jesus could wash away our sins by accepting the sins of this world once and for all. By baptizing Jesus Christ, John the Baptist could pass the sins of this world to Jesus Christ. In other words, because John the Baptist passed all the sins of everyone to Jesus Christ, this act made it possible to turn everyone who believes in this Truth sinless. John the Baptist’s had come to pass the sins of this world to Jesus Christ through baptism, so that those who believe can become God’s own children.
However, many people refused to believe this. The Pharisees in those days did not believe that John the Baptist had come to do this work. Many people in those days did not know that John the Baptist was the one who would fulfill the way of righteousness together with Jesus. Even though he walked on this way of righteousness by baptizing Jesus and passing all the sins of mankind to Him, people still did not believe. Who, then, believed this at the time? It was none other than tax collectors and the prostitutes.
To blot out everyone’s sins, God sent John the Baptist and Jesus Christ to this earth. God wanted everyone to know the righteousness of Jesus and become a child of God. So God sent John the Baptist to pass everyone’s sins to Jesus by baptizing Him so that He may make whoever believes in this Truth righteous. Sadly, many people did not believe in this gospel of salvation.
Who on this earth believed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ then? Those who had no righteousness of their own believed in it. Who really believed in the baptism Jesus received from John the Baptist? This baptism meant that Jesus Christ bore all our sins. Who then believed in this baptism? Who truly realized this Truth and reached salvation? Only those who recognized their sins and acknowledged God and His law were saved from their sins. In other words, only those who admitted that they themselves were spiritual lepers reached their salvation by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit which constitutes the righteousness of God.
In the days of Jesus, the Pharisees and the scribes did not believe in the role of John the Baptist, nor did they believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior. These people thought that although they did commit sins, but only committed very minor sins. Is this how you think also? Do we really sin just once in a while? Do you also think that we only commit small sins? Of course not! Leprosy causes otherwise healthy skin to slowly rot away, and this rot spreads around relentlessly. The same is true when it comes to sin.
Unless we believe in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, it’s inevitable for us to be bound by our sins and continue to commit one transgression after another until we are ultimately ruined. No human being can help but sin repeatedly, and all must face the just condemnation for their sins in the end. That is why so many people are heading straight to hell, owing to their sin of not believing in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Just as leprosy causes the whole body to rot away, the sins that are committed by everyone is causing one’s soul and body to fall ill and perish.
Jesus said that it was tax collectors and prostitutes who believed that John the Baptist had come in the way of righteousness. This means that only those who really knew their shortcomings believed in the way of righteousness. You all know what prostitutes do, don’t you? Since these people sinned openly, they must have also known very well that they themselves were filthy sinners before God.
John the Baptist testified repeatedly that he had passed the sins of the world to Jesus by baptizing Him. When John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, he passed all the sins of this world to Jesus and satisfied the condition for Jesus to bear the condemnation of these sins. Just as the people of Israel passed their sins to a sacrificial offering by laying their hands on its head during the age of the Old Testament, and in the age of the New Testament, all the sins of the world were passed on to Jesus Christ once and for all when John the Baptist baptized Him in the Jordan River.
Many sinners including the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed that this Jesus testified by John the Baptist was indeed the Son of God, and that He had borne the sins of this world through His baptism. They believed that their Savior was Jesus who had come by the water and the Spirit. They believed in the Savior who had delivered them from all their sins once and for all. Such people whose sins were exposed outwardly were saved by believing in the righteousness of God.
There is another important fact that you should know here, and it is that those who did not realize their sinful selves despite sinning with their hearts, and, hiding them away, could not accept the righteousness of God, even though they themselves were facing the punishment of sins. We believe that John the Baptist came in the way of righteousness, and that Jesus has made us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit sinless by accepting our sins once and for all through the baptism He received from John the Baptist. We cannot be saved from our sins unless we believe in the righteousness of God. We must realize that John the Baptist came in the way of righteousness. This way of righteousness proclaims that unless we believe that Jesus bore all our sins and has become our Savior, we cannot be saved from our sins.
Those Who Are Chosen by God and Those Who Are Not
The Scripture says that there are people chosen by God, and there are people who are not. Jesus explained this by using a parable. And this parable went as follows. Long ago, a certain king held a wedding feast for his son and invited many people throughout the whole kingdom. But, the invited all declined to come. Some of them said they couldn’t come because they had to buy a bull; others said they couldn’t come because they had some business to take care of; some declined the invitation saying they had to get married; and others said they couldn’t come because they had to meet someone. When the king’s servants returned to him and informed him that no one was coming to the wedding feast, the king told the servants to go out to the streets and invite whoever they saw.
So, the servants went out and brought as many people as would come, many of whom had no social status to speak of. Once these people arrived, the city gate was closed and the wedding feast began. As the wedding ceremony proceeded, the guests celebrated it with music, drinking and eating, and dancing. However, when the king looked around the guests enjoying themselves at the feast, he saw a man who was not wearing a wedding garment.
The problem was that no guest could come to the king’s wedding ceremony wearing just any attire. Every guest had to wear a certain prepared wedding garment fit for the royal wedding without fail. Yet, there was this man who was attending this ceremony without having changed into the prepared wedding garments. The king asked this man why he was not wearing a wedding garment, but the man was speechless. The king then ordered his servants to bind the man’s hands and feet and throw him out.
Using this parable, the Lord said that many are called, but few are chosen. This world is full of people professing to believe in Jesus. Although countless people nowadays believe in Jesus, but, many are called—few are chosen. What does it mean to be chosen? Jesus said here that many are called, but few are chosen. Whom has God chosen then? When we turn to Ephesians 1:4, we see the Scripture saying, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.” Whom did God the Father choose in Christ before the foundation of the world then? Did He choose the scribes? Or did He choose the prostitutes and the tax collectors? Exactly whom did God choose? God the Father chose the prostitutes and the tax collectors in Jesus Christ. Spiritually speaking, then, who exactly are the ones chosen by God?
To save sinners from the sins of the world, God the Father sent Jesus Christ to this earth, and by making Him bear the sins of this world through His baptism, He has solved away the problem of their sins. That is why God the Father said that He chose them in Jesus Christ. Who are the chosen? Who are the people chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world?
Speaking of Elijah in the Epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul described what happened when Elijah the servant of God, after fighting a battle of faith against 850 prophets of Baal by himself, heard King Ahab’s wife Jezebel swearing that she would kill Elijah. Jezebel had sworn that if she had not killed Elijah by the next morning, she would end her own life. It was no less than the queen of Israel who swore that she would kill the Prophet Elijah.
Although the Prophet Elijah was bold enough when he stood against 850 prophets of Baal by himself, but when he heard this infamous Queen Jezebel was bent on killing him, he became fearful and fled with his servant. Fleeing into the endless desert, he soon became tired and rested under a large tree. That tree was a broom tree. Exhausted, Elijah collapsed under the broom tree and laid down wishing he would just die. He entrust himself completely to God, saying, “Lord, I have fought my battle of faith against 850 prophets of Baal. But now, Jezebel is out to kill me. I’m so weary that I don’t want to live any longer. Take my life right now, Lord.” However, God sent an angel to Elijah to comfort him and to strengthen him. The angel touched Elijah and brought him food and water so that he could regain his strength. On the strength of this food provided by the angel, Elijah was able to recover and move forward again.
After eating and drinking the food and the water the angel had brought, Elijah regained his strength, and on this strength he went all the way to Horeb where God had directed him to go. There, he went entered a cave. And while inside the cave, he began to hear a loud noise like thunder. Amidst this thundering sound, the Prophet Elijah’s ears could not hear the Word of God. Then he heard the wind blowing savagely outside the cave. But the voice of God was not there either. When it all became quiet and calm, Elijah heard a very small, still voice. God began speaking to him with a whispering voice.
God asked him, “What are you doing here hiding?” He answered, “Lord, all Your servants in Israel are dead. I alone am the only one left. Your prophets were all killed by the sword or were starved to death. I am the only one left, and now they seek to take my life too.” God then said to Elijah clearly, “I have reserved 7,000 men whom you do not know about. These 7,000 men have not bowed before Baal. You may think you are alone, but I have reserved 7,000 men.” The Word of God says in Romans 11:5, “Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer of works.” In other words, just as God had reserved 7,000 men for Elijah, even at this present there are those chosen according to the election of grace.
The word grace here means God’s gift. It refers to the gift of salvation that God has given to us through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The Son of God came to this earth to save us sinners from our sins. The Lord Himself came to heal spiritual lepers. And having come to heal us the spiritual lepers, God has indeed healed us.
We are healed from our spiritual leprosy by believing that the Lord bore all the sins of the world by being baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. The Lord has healed us from all our sins once and for all with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Jesus bore our leprosy and all its sores and wounds, and He has healed us completely. Through the baptism He received from John the Baptist, Jesus took upon all our sins and died on the Cross for us. He has ended the condemnation of all sins.
That is how God the Father chose us in Jesus Christ through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Having invited countless people in Jesus Christ through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, God the Father chose those who truly believed. Whom did God choose specifically among all these people? He chose the sinners who had no righteousness of their own, and who admitted to God, “Lord, I am indeed suffering from the spiritual leprosy of sin. I deserve to be condemned and put to death for my sins by Your just judgment. I have this dread disease of sin. The sins that I have committed, the sins that are inside me, are killing me. I deserve to be destroyed for my sins. I am bound to hell.” Like this, those who know their sins and need the righteousness of Jesus desperately are those who can receive the salvation offered by Jesus. It is to such people whom God the Father has saved once and for all in His Son through the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
My fellow believers, God chose you and me in Jesus Christ, in His salvation, because we recognized and admitted our sins like this. It is us whom God chose for salvation. He has saved us as His elect. It’s very important for us to realize here that it is not because of our own righteousness or goodness that God the Father chose us in His Son Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world. On the contrary, it is because we are completely worthless and full of shortcomings before God that we were chosen on account of our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Because we cannot help but sin all the time out of our shortcomings and weaknesses, we would be heading straight to hell if God left us to our own devices. That’s why God chose us. It’s because if God left us alone to continue to suffer from the mortal disease of sin, all our flesh would have rotted away, we would have been reduced to just bones, and ultimately we would have all perished. It’s because the Lord had compassion for such people like us that He came to this earth, looking for us to save us from all our sins. He had come to this earth to save everyone from all sins.
It is for people like the tax collectors and the prostitutes in this world that the Lord came to this earth. Although these people did not want to turn into what they eventually became, because of the sin committed by their forefathers, they were born into this world destined to die for all the sins they inherited. We are such people, and it is to save us from all our sins that the Lord came to this earth by looking for us. And thanks to the righteousness of our Lord, we were chosen and saved by faith.
Whom Does Jesus Christ Choose?
Jesus chooses the sinners who are bound to hell for their sins. On account of the righteousness of Jesus, God the Father chooses those who truly know that they themselves are sinners before God, who acknowledge His Word and recognize His righteousness, and who know and admit that they are bound to be put to death and cast into hell by God for their sins. To such people who believe in His righteousness, God says, “You belong to Me now. Do not worry anymore, for I have remitted away your sins. Son, your sins are forgiven you. You are now healed from your illness. Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house. There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ, for the law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” God the Father Himself has personally saved us from all our sins once and for all in Jesus Christ. He has delivered you and me from all our sins at once.
My fellow believers, you and I had been spiritual lepers by our nature. We were all destined to die for our sins. However, our Lord has saved us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. God the Father chose you and me in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. And He has saved us. Having chosen us in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, God the Father has made us righteous. He has turned us the believers in the righteousness of Jesus Christ into His own children. He has made us sinless. God has told us clearly that we are made into His children by believing in His righteousness. It is only by believing in the righteousness of God that we are made righteous. It is not by not sinning that we are chosen by God. On the contrary, it is precisely because we commit countless sins as human beings that we were chosen and saved from all our sins, all thanks to the righteousness of Jesus.
Do you then believe that Jesus Christ has saved us from all the sins of the world through the righteousness of God? Do you believe that you were chosen in Jesus Christ on account of your faith in the righteousness of God? Who, then, is yet to be chosen by God? Who has been called but not chosen? Who has still not put on the garment of salvation by faith? It is those who do not believe in the righteousness of God, and therefore have not been chosen. Just as Jesus said, “Many are called, but few are chosen,” the chosen are indeed few, while countless people on this earth today believe in Jesus as their Savior without knowing the gospel of the water and the Spirit. That is why there are so many people who have not been chosen yet.
Those who have not been chosen by God are none other than those who do not acknowledge the righteousness of God and do not admit that they themselves are sinners bound to hell. Such people have not come out to the priests to be diagnosed with the Word of God. Such people must come out from the shadows to God, admit their sins, ask His priests to examine them spiritually, and be healed from their spiritual leprosy.
The problem, however, is that many people do not recognize the diagnosis of these spiritual priests. Earlier today, I spoke about Lazarus and the rich man, and like this rich man, many people do not take the spiritual diagnosis of the priests of God seriously. They do not accept the admonishment of the servants of God, nor do they acknowledge His righteousness. As a result, they are clinging to their sins even as their spiritual leprosy is ravaging them. In the end, they will all perish and face death alone.
Anyone who still does not believe in the righteousness of God, and has therefore not been chosen by Him, is someone who is still deceiving himself. Whoever does not recognize the Word of God is fooling himself. It’s your faith in the righteousness of God that should be shown to Him, not your own self-righteousness. You must realize from the Word of God what kind of a person you really are and admit it. If you don’t know yourself, then you need to turn to the Word of God, acknowledge it, and thereby be washed from all your sins. From listening to the Word of God, you must realize and admit who you really are.
Whoever comes to God and admit his sins will be saved without exception. God has chosen in His righteousness whoever needs Jesus Christ’s grace of salvation. He has saved all such people once and for all through His righteousness. He has washed away all their sins once and for all with His righteousness. He has enabled them to be born again of the gospel of the water and the Spirit once and for all. And He has blessed them to become His own children once and for all.
The Scripture says that when General Naaman dipped himself seven times in the Jordan River as instructed by Elisha, his flesh was cleansed and became like that of a little child. Likewise, the Lord has transformed us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit from our old selves into completely new people. God the Father has saved you and me through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. He has blessed us to be born again. This means that God the Father chose us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit in Jesus Christ. And having chosen us in Christ, He has made us His own children.
Dear saints, I admonish you all to know clearly that we have been saved from all ours sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and that it is on account of this faith that we were chosen. Moreover, it is not because we were perfect and clean that we were chosen. On the contrary, it is because we were full of shortcomings that we were chosen to be washed from all our sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Be grateful for this. And be grateful for God’s grace of redemption.
In the Scripture, those who were not chosen by God were the Pharisees, the scribes, and other such people who rejected the righteousness of God outright in their arrogance. Those who deceived themselves before God, those who did not recognize His righteousness, those who did not acknowledge His Word, those who boasted of their own religious piety, and those who practiced hypocrisy—all these people were not chosen by God.
Why did God choose some people while not choosing others then? God’s elect are chosen in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We are chosen only if we realize the righteousness of God in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, understand it fully, and then believe in it. God does not just choose some people while rejecting others arbitrarily. Speaking of Jacob and Esau in the Old Testament, God said that He rejected Esau and chose Jacob.
Why did God do this? From a human perspective, Esau was nearly a perfect man while Jacob was a weak conniving thief. But whom did God choose? God chose Jacob, a devious man with many shortcomings. Why was Jacob chosen over Esau? Jacob was chosen precisely because he was a conniving, devious liar who desperately needed God’s grace. God had compassion on such a wretched man like Jacob and saved him perfectly through His righteousness. Jacob had stolen his brother’s birthright as the firstborn with a bowl of lentil soup, deceived his own father by imitating Esau’s voice by pretending to be him, and usurped the blessings that Esau should have received. God the Father knew very well that if He left Jacob to his own devices, he would have no choice but go to hell. Jacob was such a completely worthless man. That is why God couldn’t resist but to save people like Jacob, and this is what God’s mercy and grace is all about. Put differently, our Lord could not help but save such a sinner like Jacob from all his sins, and for that reason, He bore all his sins once and for all by being baptized by John the Baptist.
The Lord also bore Esau’s sins, not just Jacob’s sins, but Esau was not chosen because unlike Jacob, he was too self-righteous. In fact, there are two types of people on this earth, those who are like Jacob, and those who are like Esau. Those who, like Jacob, know that they themselves are completely worthless can put on the grace of salvation by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that constitutes the righteousness of Jesus. If such people walk in the way of righteousness that John the Baptist came in, and believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that constitutes the righteousness of God, then they can all be saved by faith, be chosen by the just God, and become righteous. In contrast, those who are like Esau boast of their own strength, their own righteousness, and their own goodness; and that is why they cannot be chosen by God.
In other words, we cannot be chosen by God if we do not recognize His righteousness and instead advocate our own righteousness. If we don’t recognize God’s servants who believe in His righteousness, and do not acknowledge those who have become God’s own people, then we cannot be elected either. The righteousness of God has saved us from all the sins of the world. I hope and pray that no one here would be left out of God’s elect only to be cast into hell by refusing to believe that God has saved us from all our sins.
Let’s consider ourselves here for a moment. How have we become righteous? Have we become righteousness because our acts are upright or we have something that’s truly meritorious in God’s sight? No, of course not! The problem, unfortunately, is that there are far too many people on this earth who are exceedingly arrogant. But, those who are arrogant before God are left out of becoming His elect.
My fellow believers, I myself had lived without knowing the righteousness of God for ten years since I first believed in Jesus, and I tried so hard to be loved by God over all those years. Once I realized the righteousness of Jesus Christ, however, I also realized that all my effort had been completely in vain and empty-handed. It dawned on me that the Lord saves those who are inadequate. It is such people to whom God has given the gospel of the water and the Spirit, thereby bestowing His grace of salvation on them and clothing them in His everlasting righteousness.
We were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world because we were full of shortcomings. That is why God chose us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Because we were all born as the descendants of Adam, the first man and a sinner, we cannot help but commit sins; but because we believe in the God-given gospel of the water and the Spirit, we have been saved from all our sins. God the Father chose such people like us in Jesus Christ, and He has made us His own people. None other than this is the grace that God has bestowed on us, and it is also what God’s love is all about. The gospel of the water and the Spirit is God’s amazing grace of salvation. It is by the grace of God and His love that He has given us the gospel of the water and the Spirit, so that He may heal us and deliver us from the leprosy of our sins.
As those who know and believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, you and I have been saved from all our sins. Everyone else on this planet earth, however, is still from spiritual leprosy. The entire human race is infected with the disease of sin that is leading countless people to perish in both body and soul. We must preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to all such people. Think about just how much these people must be struggling with their lives, tormented by the fact that they cannot help but sin all the time? They must loath themselves for their wretched uncleanness. Knowing that they are approved neither by God nor by man, sinners are living under the constant shadow cast by the sins they commit even in broad daylight. The gospel of the water and the Spirit, however, will be a great comfort to them.
Those who know their sins, and who know the suffering caused by their sins, will be blessed to be chosen by God if only they realize the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the power of the love of God. For admitting their sins, they will be blessed to be chosen and perfectly saved. In contrast, those who do not realize that they themselves are sinners even as they were born with sin and cannot help but sin repeatedly throughout their lifetime, will be forsaken by God as long as they continue to live without believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, thinking that they have no sin. Even to such people, we must spread and teach the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
I urge you to realize that all of us are sinners, but God has still saved every sinner through His righteousness and His love; and with this knowledge, I urge you to entrust yourself to the mercy of God to receive His true blessings. You must know and believe that it is sinners whom God saves, and that this salvation is fulfilled in the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. Know that all of us the human beings were spiritual lepers doomed to perish, and acknowledge the righteousness of God in His sight, and accept the true salvation He is offering you. I hope and pray that you would believe with thanksgiving that God the Father chose us in the righteousness of Jesus Christ for true salvation, and I also hope and pray that God’s grace and blessings would be with you all. Let us then all thank God always by faith, for it is by His righteousness that we were chosen by God to become His own children.