(1 Kings 10:1-29)
“Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to test him with hard questions. She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels that bore spices, very much gold, and precious stones; and when she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart. So Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing so difficult for the king that he could not explain it to her. And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his servants, the service of his waiters and their apparel, his cupbearers, and his entryway by which he went up to the house of the LORD, there was no more spirit in her. Then she said to the king: ‘It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. However I did not believe the words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame of which I heard. Happy are your men and happy are these your servants, who stand continually before you and hear your wisdom! Blessed be the LORD your God, who delighted in you, setting you on the throne of Israel! Because the LORD has loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness.’ Then she gave the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold, spices in great quantity, and precious stones. There never again came such abundance of spices as the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. Also, the ships of Hiram, which brought gold from Ophir, brought great quantities of almug wood and precious stones from Ophir. And the king made steps of the almug wood for the house of the LORD and for the king’s house, also harps and stringed instruments for singers. There never again came such almug wood, nor has the like been seen to this day. Now King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba all she desired, whatever she asked, besides what Solomon had given her according to the royal generosity. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants. The weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold, besides that from the traveling merchants, from the income of traders, from all the kings of Arabia, and from the governors of the country. And King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold; six hundred shekels of gold went into each shield. He also made three hundred shields of hammered gold; three minas of gold went into each shield. The king put them in the House of the Forest of Lebanon. Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold. The throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round at the back; there were armrests on either side of the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the armrests. Twelve lions stood there, one on each side of the six steps; nothing like this had been made for any other kingdom. All King Solomon’s drinking vessels were gold, and all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Not one was silver, for this was accounted as nothing in the days of Solomon. For the king had merchant ships at sea with the fleet of Hiram. Once every three years the merchant ships came bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and monkeys. So King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. Now all the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart. Each man brought his present: articles of silver and gold, garments, armor, spices, horses, and mules, at a set rate year by year. And Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen; he had one thousand four hundred chariots and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king at Jerusalem. The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and he made cedar trees as abundant as the sycamores which are in the lowland. Also Solomon had horses imported from Egypt and Keveh; the king’s merchants bought them in Keveh at the current price. Now a chariot that was imported from Egypt cost six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse one hundred and fifty; and thus, through their agents, they exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Syria.”
Lately, I have had this desire to teach our coworkers abroad, as well as many other souls, who it is that belong to heresy. So if there is anyone who has fallen into heresy, I would like to help him escape from it. It’s with this intention that I am now speaking about heresy from the viewpoint of the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit, and I believe that such faith and knowledge is completely indispensable for everyone.
How Was Solomon’s Course of Life?
Today, we read 1 Kings chapter ten. God had given King Solomon much wisdom. So as a result, many people revered Solomon highly. On account of his amazing wisdom, Solomon’s fame reached far beyond into distant countries. So even the queen of Sheba, a country far away in southern Arabia, heard about King Solomon and came to verify his wisdom and glory for herself. She brought along hard questions and tried to test him with these questions. But there was not a single question that Solomon could not answer. The queen of Sheba also saw the magnificent palace that Solomon had built, his institutions of governance, and his administrative organization. And impressed by them, she praised Solomon, saying, “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. However I did not believe the words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame of which I heard” (1 Kings 10:6-7). Like this, King Solomon lived his entire life as a man of the flesh, boasting his wisdom and enjoying his wealth. But he did not know that his famed wisdom would eventually ruin him.
Solomon made his throne out of ivory, and he covered it with pure gold. What I would like to point out to you here is that because Solomon’s heart left Jehovah God and lived only for his flesh in such extravagance, ultimately, he ended up turning his kingdom into a nation of idolatry. Although he was a king with a great deal of carnal wisdom given by God, he was a dismal man who used this wisdom only to boast of his own righteousness and serve idols. Even though Solomon had received God’s overflowing love and blessings, his spiritual state was terribly low.
Some people, upon hearing my harsh assessment of Solomon, may object and say, “Rev. Paul C. Jong, I know you are a servant of God, but how can you so easily dismiss King Solomon, whose walk is written in the Bible?” But still, I do not hesitate to rebuke Solomon harshly for his spiritual corruption. And I believe that God had Solomon’s course of life written down as a lesson for us, to warn us not to worship idols and turn into heretics like Solomon. God had this passage written so that we would not serve idols. It’s not because I am somehow smarter or more intelligent than Solomon that I am criticizing and rebuking him here, but I am trying to admonish you all not to commit the same foolish act of worshiping idols as your own deity before God, as Solomon had done.
Solomon achieved very few things once he became king. All that he did after assuming the throne was construction. After he built the Temple for 7 years, he spent 13 more years to build his palace. For a total of 20 years, he worked on nothing but construction, and he only fostered idolatry among his own people in his time. In other words, all that he did as the king of Israel was to build houses and serve idols. This man was a carnal man to his bones. Even though his father was David, and even though the God that he believed in was Jehovah God, he still served idols instead of God, causing untold grief for himself. Solomon must have been mad, begging to be cursed by God.
“Yahweh,” the name of God, means “He who exists by Himself” or “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14). This Jehovah God is the Absolute God for all of us. So God had given Solomon His Word of warning, saying to him, “Do not worship idols,” but Solomon ignored this warning and served idols anyway, taking countless foreign women as his wives, including Pharaoh’s daughter. What a spiritually foolish and carnal man Solomon was! Even though he was a wise king in carnal affairs, as far as spiritual wisdom is concerned, he scored zero.
Solomon Had a Thousand Wives
It is written in the Bible that King Solomon “had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart.” In other words, Solomon had no less than a thousand wives. With so many wives, Solomon probably couldn’t even remember them all. When the wives greeted him, “Your majesty,” he probably said on more than one occasion, “Hmm… I think I’ve met you before, but what was your name again?” From the wives’ perspective, who bore and raised his own children, it must have been rather unpleasant to see their husband unable to remember even their names. Solomon had built his palace for 13 years, but all this work was to provide a room to each of his wives. After all, his wives were queens of a nation, and so they all had to have at least a decent room for each. Solomon probably also built several gardens and ponds for them. Moreover, since many of these royal wives were foreign women, they had brought their own idols and worshiped them, and so Solomon also built shrines for these idols. If I had lived in that age, I would have rebuked Solomon and said to him, “Solomon, what use is all your wisdom? It’s better to be ignorant and fear God!”
Yet despite this, so many Christians today still revere King Solomon and envy his wisdom and wealth. During his early reign, when Solomon just assumed the throne, he offered a thousand burnt offerings at Gibeon. But for how long did this man really fear God? When we can see that he feared God only while he was building the Temple of God and his palace, for after this, he was busy serving idols. In other words, once the construction of the Temple and the palace was complete, Solomon no longer feared Jehovah God. As his royal authority was consolidated and he came to enjoy wealth and material prosperity, his heart stopped trusting in God, and ended up falling into idolatry. He was indeed a foolish and wretched king. Had he served Jehovah God by faith, he would have received many blessings from God in both body and spirit, and his descendants and his people would have all have been blessed by God. But he failed at this, and instead lived his life foolishly.
If Solomon had any spiritual wisdom at all, he would not have dedicated all his energy to just seek his carnal gratification. For example, Solomon made his throne out of ivory and covered it with pure gold. But would a throne covered with gold somehow increase his royal authority? In other words, rather than manifesting God’s glory and His righteousness, Solomon poured his heart into manifesting his own glory and righteousness.
However, as this world seeks only carnal values, Solomon’s wisdom was praised even in foreign countries, and countless people brought gifts seeking his audience. Yet, from a spiritual perspective, Solomon’s life itself was a shameful life of the flesh. He was even commended by the king of Egypt, the very archenemy of Israel, and heard him praise him, “You are a magnificent king, and your wisdom knows no bounds!” And the neighboring kings gave their daughters to Solomon to try to make peace with him, and shipped gold and wood to him when he built the Temple. It’s because Solomon had too much wisdom of the flesh that rather than fighting against his enemy countries, that he made peace with them and served the idols that they believed in. Whereas Solomon’s wisdom may be worthy of respect from man’s point of view, for the king of Israel, God’s chosen nation, to make peace with His enemies was to turn himself into an enemy of God. It was a grievous, abominable sin before God for Solomon to make peace with the kings that had stood against God, take their daughters in as his wives, build his palace with their tributes, and accept their idols.
King Solomon was an extremely flawed man, for he had served idols before God. He was a man of failure before God, who had lived only for his own flesh. God wrote this passage in the Bible so that we would learn an important spiritual lesson here, and not allow ourselves to live only for our flesh. Even the born-again who now believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit may end up like Solomon, if they follow only the desires of the flesh. And that’s why God gave us this spiritual lesson, so that we wouldn’t live like him.
Because of King Solomon, the Nation of Israel Collectively Fell into Heresy
It was during Solomon’s reign as its king that Israel turned into a nation of idolatry. All kinds of false gods and idols in the neighboring countries made their way into Israel and were revered. Where were they revered? They were revered in the very court of Israel. Foreign religion blossomed in the court of Israel. Solomon’s court was busy to serve all kinds of foreign idols. And throughout Israel, shrines were built to serve foreign gods. Since their own king and queens served idols, the people of Israel were also happy to serve them. There were idols in every direction, with the entire country turning into an exhibition hall for idols. Fewer and fewer people in Israel believed in Jehovah God, while idolaters eventually came to prevail over the nation as its mainstream. All that King Solomon did to serve Jehovah God was to gather his people together for a week for the rituals of Passover and the Day of Atonement, as if he were sponsoring a unity rally. And once the people returned home after offering their sacrifices to Jehovah God, they all resumed serving the idols that they each believed in.
It’s because of this man Solomon that Israel turned into a nation of heresy before God. When Solomon thus began to worship idols, God issued His first warning, saying to him, “Do not serve idols. If you do, I will cut Israel off from the land that I have given to it, and even this Temple that I have consecrated for My name, I will cast it out of My sight.” However, King Solomon did not listen to God’s Word. He must have thought that he was the real king, above God Himself.
Among those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior, there is no one who lives as his own king, if he has indeed been washed from his sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The born-again cannot regard themselves as their own kings. Only our Lord Jesus Christ is our King—that is, if we indeed know and believe in the Savior who came to this earth by the water, the blood, and the Spirit (1 John 5:6-8). However, for Solomon, he himself was his own king. It didn’t matter how God had told him so much not to serve idols, nor did it matter how God’s servants had come to him to warn him; in the end, Solomon was his own king, and so he turned God’s chosen nation into a nation of idolatry.
Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, grew up while his father was worshiping idols. So Rehoboam also served idols just like his father. God then tore the ten tribes of Israel and gave them to Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:30-31), making him king of the northern kingdom, Israel. But Jeroboam served idols even more than Solomon. Out of his greed, and trying not to lose his power and protect his life, wealth, and fame, Jeroboam changed the sacrificial system that had been established by God, altered the Day of Atonement that God had set for the tenth day of the seventh month to the fifteenth day of the eighth month, appointed ordinary people to priesthood even though they were not Levites, and then even replaced God with the gold calves of his own making. Through all these things, Jeroboam turned the entire northern kingdom of Israel into a nation of idolatry (1 Kings 12:26-33).
The northern kingdom, Israel, made two gold calves, placed one at each Bethel and Dan, and worshipped these idols. All the kings subsequent to Jeroboam would replace God with these gold calves and serve these idols. The kings of Israel were reduced to heads of a collective heresy. The southern kingdom of Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel both turned into nations serving idols. Until the reign of Solomon lasted, God had not torn the nation apart even as the Israelites were serving idols. God had bestowed His mercy on them. However, once Solomon’s son Rehoboam assumed the throne, God tore the idolatrous nation of Israel into two, and Israel was cursed until the Lord came to this earth incarnated in the flesh.
The man responsible for bringing such curses was none other than Solomon. Because of one king’s idolatry, the entire people of Israel fell into collective heresy to serve idols all together. This Word provides a great lesson for you and me also. Solomon not only served idols before God, but he also showed this corrupt faith of idolatry to his sons and his people. It’s because his sons and his people saw the king’s idolatrous acts that they also came to serve idols without giving themselves any second thoughts. Even though King Solomon nominally claimed to serve God, his service was only at a ritualistic level, and he actually served idols rather than God.
As a result, the people of Israel thought to themselves, “Even though our king is serving idols, Israel is not punished by God but it’s only prospering. So we can also live like the king also.” Having thus learned to serve idols from their king, they, too, began to practice idolatry. From then on, they did not turn away from their idolatry, no matter who said what. Since King Solomon had served idols, so did his sons serve idols, as Jeroboam and his successors also continued to serve idols. There probably was no nation that worshiped foreign gods as much as Israel, for its kings and people alike. Although the Bible does not record all the idols that the people of Israel served, it does mention Asherah and Baal as the representative idols prevalent in Israel, but only because these two idols gained such a great influence in the nation. Like this, Israel turned into a nation of collective heresy worshiping idols.
Because of Jeroboam’s sins, Israel turned into a nation of collective heresy that could not be tolerated. That’s why when God condemned the subsequent kings who worshiped idols before Him, He said, “He committed the sins of Jeroboam,” or, “He walked in the way of Jeroboam.” That’s what God said whenever He was angry with the people of Israel and its king. Rather than saying, “He is a wicked man; he should be beaten to death,” God expressed his wrath by saying, “He walked in the way of Jeroboam,” or, “They followed the sins of Jeroboam.” Why did God say this? It was to tell us, “Do not be like Jeroboam.”
So the sins of Jeroboam were the greatest of all sins before God. You may try to understand Jeroboam from a human point of view, thinking, “Didn’t Jeroboam do these things to maintain his throne? After all, he was only a man.” However, if you now believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then God must be your king; you should never allow yourself to serve foreign idols as your king. Given the fact that it is God who has saved us, how could we forsake Him, and allow ourselves to put false gods in His place to be controlled by Satan?
Given the Fact That the Lord Has Saved Us from All Our Sins by Giving Us the Gospel of the Water and the Spirit, It Makes No Sense for Us to Serve Idols
My fellow believers, we have received our salvation by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are believers in the righteousness of God. In other words, we are of those who believe in the righteousness of God held in the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by our Lord. Isn’t this true? Of course it is. We believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who created the heavens and the earth. It is this God who made us, and it is this God who, when we fell into sin to be cursed to destruction, came to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man to save us, bore our sins by being baptized by John the Baptist to blot them out, and saved us by dying on the Cross and rising from the dead again. From whom has this salvation come? It has come from none other than God Himself, who made you and me and created the entire universe and everything in it; and it is a gift that we received by believing in the righteousness that was completed by this God. This God is our God, and His righteousness is the foundation of our salvation. That is why we believe in the righteousness of this God and call Him our Savior and Shepherd. And that is why this God says to us that we are His flock, and that He will take care of us forever. Ultimately, God is our protector and defender. We are His own people, who believe that the gospel of the water and the Spirit is the only Truth of salvation, and that our Lord has given us this Truth.
For us, who now believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, any of us can easily testify to this gospel, but for those who do not believe in this gospel, this gospel of Truth is strange and hard to understand. Only the people of God can believe in and preach it as it is. Given how God has saved us from all our curses through the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit, a life devoted to serving this gospel is the most precious and worthiest life for all of us. God loves you and me, and He has saved us from all our sins. God has delivered you and me from our sins and blessed us with the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit. We had left God and gone astray to our own ways only destined to be destroyed. Each in his own way, we were serving idols, and yet we did not even know who the real God was, only to be cursed in our sins. But in spite of all this, even though we had thus gone astray, God still followed us and met with us through the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit, saved us from all our sins, and has Himself become our own Shepherd. It’s not because of our own wish that we have become God’s people, but it’s all because of His love and His desire to save us. Do you believe in this, my fellow believers? Therefore, those who believe in this God, those who really believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, are those who believe in the righteousness of God; and those who believe in the righteousness of God are His people.
Even God’s children are still weak in the flesh, and so they may also commit various sins, but they must at least not commit the kind of sin that replaces God with their own gold calves. In other words, we must never allow ourselves to behave like the kings of Israel in the Old Testament. If anyone does anything wrong to anyone, it’s we who make mistakes before God; God Himself never does anything wrong to us. That’s why we cannot replace God with anything else. Only this God truly loves us, only this God is our revered God, and only this God is our absolute and true God who will take care of us forever. It is by believing in the righteousness of this God that we have been saved, and it is this very God whom we are now praising and thanking. None other than this is faith in God.
The Life of Solomon, Who Had Forsaken God, Was “Vanity of Vanities; All Is in Vain”
Everything that Solomon ever did on this earth was completely in vain. It’s written, “He spoke three thousand proverbs, and his songs were one thousand and five. Also he spoke of trees, from the cedar tree of Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall; he spoke also of animals, of birds, of creeping things, and of fish” (1 Kings 4:32-33). However, he was a man of utter misery, in both body and spirit. He had lived a tragic and empty life both before God and men alike. This man was able to speak of his knowledge on everything, just by opening his mouth. Many kings from all over the world came to see him with seemingly impossible riddles, but there was nothing that he could not solve. However, with the God-given wisdom, this man also made peace with the neighboring countries and accepted the daughters of foreign kings as his wives. Although Solomon thought to himself that this was a wise move that came out of his own head, he did not realize that it would eventually turn into such a quagmire for him.
There were plenty of God-fearing women in Israel, and yet Solomon foolishly accepted Pharaoh’s daughter as one of his wives. What a reckless blunder it was! This was something abhorred by both his father David and God Himself. Intermarrying with Gentile women was a total abomination to God. Yet as soon as Solomon assumed the throne, he brought Pharaoh’s daughter. Indeed, he was downright contemptuous before God.
Would Solomon have thought about the consequences of his acts, how Israel would turn into a nation of idolatry and collective heresy all because of him? He surely didn’t, and its consequences were devastating. There was nothing for the people to learn from an idolatrous king. All that they learned from Solomon was just idolatry. The people of Israel were all looking at the king’s faith and walk, and so they all followed his abominable trace.
Even though we all have shortcomings, at least our hearts must be set on God, no matter what. That’s why the Lord is saying to us to remove the love for the world from our hearts, as the dross is removed from silver. We must set our minds on God, and never allow our hearts to love anything more than God—that is, never place any idols in our hearts. However, Solomon placed his expectations on his idols. Even though people often said that King Solomon was a man of great wisdom, he was actually very foolish to have liked to hear such praises. Some people like only those who speak well of them. But the Lord said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26).
Even Those Who Now Believe in the Gospel of the Water and the Spirit May Turn into Heretics Like King Solomon
Solomon built the House of God for 7 years and his palace for 13 years. In the end, Solomon was someone who had lived only for himself. It would have been so much better had Solomon feared God in his life with the wealth and faith that his father David had passed onto him by waging a spiritual war against the neighboring countries; and even though Solomon was insufficient in his acts, things would have turned out far better if he had set at least his heart on God, saying, “Lord, I will live for You alone.” Like this, all that Solomon had to do was just set his will to live his life with a righteous heart, but instead, he wasted away all the splendor and wealth that his father David had passed onto him only to serve foreign gods and seek the pleasures of his flesh. All that he did in his entire lifetime was just building houses and serving idols. As a result, Solomon became the chief of idolatrous priests. Solomon himself nurtured idolaters, and in doing so, he ended up turning himself into the original founder of heresy.
What I would like to say to you, and to myself as well, is this: Even for those who now believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, if any of them is living only for his own carnal desires, then he is an idolater before God. We must all grasp this now and avoid the sin of idolatry. Those who are serving idols before God may regard their sin of idolatry as a slight one right now, but in the end, they will turn into heretics in God’s sight. In short, they will become God’s enemies. It’s such people who serve idols before God that have become heretics.
Although Jeroboam had served idols, he was not someone who did not know God. In God’s sight, heretics refer to those who believe in God differently from His will. So if you live with a faith that deviates from the will of God, then you would also become a heretic before His eyes. Do you feel this is not fair? Do you want to protest that while you may be insufficient, at least you are not a heretic? But if your faith deviates from the will of God, or if you are serving idols, which God abhors, then you are a heretic, for this is against God’s will. It’s not so hard to become a heretic. If our life in faith believes contrary to the will of God, then we would be heretics. My fellow believers, even though we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and we are now serving the righteousness of the Lord in God’s Church, if any of us gives up his service to the Lord, sets his heart to live his life for his own flesh from now on, leaves God’s Church, and comes to live only for the desires of his flesh, then he will turn into a heretic before God in the end.
You Also Might Not Know That Serving Idols Is a Sure Way to Turn Yourself into a Heretic before God
Even for those who now believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, if they serve idols, then they will turn into heretics. Solomon had served idols before God, and his son and Jeroboam had also served idols. As a result, the entire people of Israel turned into heretics. Solomon not only turned himself into a heretic before God, but he also turned his subjects and people into heretics. Because of him, countless heretical priests emerged in Israel. How could anyone professing to believe in God ever dare to replace Him with gold calves and serve idols to seek the material prosperity of the world, instead of trusting in the righteousness of God? Yet this was not enough for the Israelites; even worse, they brought foreign deities, and bowed before them and served them, believing them to be their gods. If this is not heresy, then what else is heresy? Isn’t this the case? In today’s Christianity also, it is those who purport to serve God, and yet do so against His will, that are being a heretic. Anyone who serves idols before God is a heretic.
My fellow believers, if some people profess to believe in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and yet they still continue to serve idols, then they are heretics before God. In spite of the fact that Jesus Christ has saved us from all our sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, those who still do not believe in this gospel of Truth and are living their lives only for their private greed are heretics in God’s sight. It is such people who serve idols, and consequently they are heretics before God. Am I being too harsh here? Not at all! I am only speaking the plain truth here, calling heretics for who they are, as nothing more than heretics.
Those Who Serve Gold Calves in Christian Communities Have Now Become Heretics
While I am serving the Lord now, if I ever end up living only for the desires of my flesh, then I would also inevitably turn into a heretic in God’s sight. For a Christian to serve idols before God is to replace God with gold calves, and if he serves idols before God and lives only for his own private greed and the desires of his flesh, then he would turn into an enemy of God, that is, a heretic in His sight. Even those who have received the remission of their sins may turn into heretics. Even for those who have been born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, unless they follow the will of God, it’s quite possible for them to also turn into heretics.
As such, we must set our hearts unambiguously. Even though we are so insufficient, Jesus Christ is still our God, He has saved us from our sins, He is our Shepherd, He has given us eternal life, and He is the One who takes care of all of us. That is why no other deity apart from the very God who has saved us from our sins can ever be our God. Apart from this Triune God—that is, Jesus Christ, His Father, and the Holy Spirit—no one else can ever be our God. That’s because this God has not only saved us from the sins of the world through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but He is the One who protects us, who gives us all His blessings so that we would be able to live on this earth for His righteousness, and who will defend us and take care of our entire life for eternity—this is why we cannot allow ourselves to follow anything or anyone but this God. For us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, nothing else but the Triune God is divine.
If there is anything that is insufficient, it is your acts and mine that are insufficient; the righteousness of God that we all believe in with our hearts is not imperfect. It’s only if we do not love God with all our hearts that we end up turning into heretics, not because God’s love is somehow imperfect. If we stumbled, then it’s all because of our insufficiencies that we stumbled, not because God did not protect us, for He guards us as His own eye, neither slumbering nor sleeping. (Psalm 121:3-8). Those who stumble do so because they have walked on the way of their own lust. So anyone who believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit can never serve another deity before God, if he really believes in this gospel Truth. We the born-again can never serve any other gods. We must never allow this to ever happen, no matter how anyone may tempt us and try to deceive us.
The born-again must realize just how wicked and wrong it is to live only for their flesh. As we read today’s Scripture passage, we must grasp here that if we live like Solomon, we would turn into heretics. Let us then all remember, from our ministers to our workers and our brothers and sisters alike, that if we live like Solomon, we would also turn into heretics before God. Of course, like everyone else, we also need to have our essential needs met. But if we love ourselves more than God, and if we follow only our own carnal greed, then in the end, we would turn into idolaters, once this happens, we would become heretics. We would then end up leaving God and turn into His enemies. This means that we ourselves would abandon God on our own, rather than God forsaking us.
Therefore, When We Speak about Heresy, We Must Examine Ourselves First Before Anyone Else
It’s absolutely imperative for our minds to once again remember that even we the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit may turn into heretics. For you and I alike, it’s possible for both of us to also turn into heretics. You may then wonder, “But how is this possible? How can we turn into heretics, when we believe in God properly?” Still, the possibilities are there. Let us then consider here one more time how we could turn into heretics.
I believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. I have received the remission of my sins, and I am serving the Lord. However, as I carry on with my life, the desires of the flesh keep on arising more and more, time after time. When I am weak, the weaker my flesh gets, the more I desire to defend myself. So I keep trying to protect myself, and I also try to show off myself. As human beings are fragile, we are all genetically programmed to seek our own interests. However, if we continue to seek our own interests, then we ourselves may turn into our own idols, or material wealth may turn into our god. In other words, our own flesh may turn into our god.
If this happens, then what is so different about our idolatry from the idolatry committed by the people of Israel? They are both the same. So, ultimately, if those gathered here, from our ministers to their wives, our workers, and our brothers and sisters, were to follow each of their own private greed, then we would all turn into the same heretics as the people of Israel. When this happens, we would serve ourselves more than the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and, as a consequence, we would drift away from God and turn into heretics in the end.
It was Moses who had delivered the people of Israel from the slavery of Egypt. After Moses’ death in the wilderness, Joshua then led the Israelites into the land of Canaan. After Joshua’s death, judges led the people of Israel. With the passing of the days of judges, who emerged as the ruler? King Saul emerged as the new ruler. From then on, Israel began to be ruled under a monarchy. The first king of Israel was Saul. And the next king was David. However, Israel’s history of true faith ended with the days of David, and from then on, the Israelites collectively turned into heretics.
So it’s quite tragic to see all this unfolding. Let’s look back at some of God’s servants that preceded Solomon’s rule. From Moses to Joshua, passing through such judges as Gideon, Samson, Jephthah, and Samuel, and onto David, these people were all God’s servants. Let’s now look at those that followed from the days of Solomon. Tragically, there were so few kings with the right faith that we can count them all with our fingers. The governance system of Israel was originally a theocracy, but as the people objected to this, it changed to a monarchy, and as a consequence, the nation of Israel was spiritually ruined.
How about us then? As we now believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we are living under a theocracy. In other words, our only king is God Himself, and we are living by our faith in His righteousness. The believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are not subservient to the mere whims of other human beings. However, in the history of Israel, theocracy ended at the monarchy rule of Solomon.
Whom did Solomon see while growing up? He saw the upright faith of his father David. Yet despite this, he brought Pharaoh’s daughter to be his wife. That was only the start of his marriage with Gentile women. Of all women, why did he bring so many foreign women to be his wives? When his people saw this, they lost their faith. Theocracy was already over by the time Solomon’s rule turned idolatrous. Although many servants of God appeared afterwards, both kingdoms of Israel, northern and southern kingdom alike, did not listen to them, and instead continued to serve idols, only to fall and be ruined in the end. And Israel barely survived as a tributary state to various great powers until the coming of Jesus Christ. Yet even so, the Jewish people still did not accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.
When we examine the history of Israel, we can discover to a great deal of sadness that it was all because of one man, Solomon, that the nation of Israel ended up betraying God and went on its path to destruction. Had Solomon woke up to his folly and served God as the only King of Israel, then the nation of Israel would not have fallen into the sin of idolatry so soon. Its people not only served idols, but they did so with gusto, with the whole nation turning into a big mass of idolatry. So given this, how could God have possibly been pleased with them and blessed them? Idolatry prevailed throughout the whole nation throwing it into chaos. The people were gripped by idol worship, delighted to follow visible gods. In short, the entire nation of Israel turned into a nation that worshiped false gods. So in this light, it was only a matter of course for God to find it impossible to accept them as His people.
That’s why God raised His servants for the people of Israel. It’s because the Israelites did not listen to Him at all that He raised His servants with power. The first servant of these was Elijah. God raised him. So when God prophesied through Elijah, no rain came down on Israel for three years. God then spoke through Elijah, “I will now bring down rain. Bring 850 priests serving Asherah and Baal. And bring the king of Israel and its entire people to Mountain Carmel. Let us test who is the true God. When offerings are prepared and prayer is given, He who brings down fire and burns the offerings shall be the true God.” And through Elijah God showed them all as He had prophesied that Jehovah was indeed the Almighty God. He made all the people of Israel return to God and confess, “Jehovah God is our true God. He is indeed our living God.”
Even now, God is doing such works through His servants. Although we have received the remission of our sins, any of us who does not live united with God’s Church to spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit is an idolater. Do you agree with this? Am I right here? What I am trying to say to you here is that for us not to fall into idolatry, we have to carry out God’s work ceaselessly. That’s why we are tirelessly laboring for the work of the gospel. But some of you may think, “Whoa! Pastor Jong is not even human! He is such a workaholic! Why is he so demanding? We are all for carrying out the Lord’s work, but we need some rest. Since we’ve achieved so much and served the Lord like this, don’t we deserve some rest now?” By any chance, do you also want to blame me like this?
My fellow believers, if this is how you think and if we decide to rest from the work of God, then we will face spiritual ruin in no time. As soon as you put away your service to the Lord and take a break for even for a few days, your heart will change and go astray. Our flesh is such that when we are sitting, we want to lie down, and when we lie down, we want to sleep. For it is written, “I went by the field of the lazy man, And by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; And there it was, all overgrown with thorns; Its surface was covered with nettles; Its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest; So shall your poverty come like a prowler, And your need like an armed man” (Proverbs 24:30-34).
Once you respond to all the demands of your flesh, this is bound to destabilize your relationship with God. Isn’t this true? I’m sure that you all agree with me here. That’s precisely why we must carry out God’s work ceaselessly.
I believe in the righteousness of God, in His love, and in the salvation that He has given to us. You all believe as I do, do you not? I, for one, do not want to be like Solomon. Although many people revere Solomon as a great king, I consider him to be a greatly flawed man. In contrast to Solomon, his father David had truly feared God. If Solomon had followed up to even one ten-thousandth of what his father had done, if only he had not replaced God, then the people of Israel would not have ended up serving idols. Don’t you agree? Since he replaced God and replaced priests as well, we may say that he was indeed out of his mind. I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to be like Solomon. And I do not want our ministers to end up like Solomon either.
I have never lost sight of the fact if I go astray by any chance, then I would also turn my coworkers into Solomon. I know very well that if I wanted to avoid turning my coworkers and myself into idolaters like Solomon, then I have to start even more works of God. After all, if we are carrying out many works of God, then we wouldn’t be able to find any time to serve gold calves, since we would already be too busy. In fact, it’s precisely because we are insufficient that we have to carry out God’s work that much more. While our faith should remain strong even if we were not laboring, this is next to impossible because we are too insufficient, and that’s why we must continue to carry out God’s work.
I believe truthfully that in this last age, we are indeed the last runners to preach of the gospel. I am convinced that the days of this world are numbered. Given how it’s inevitable for the world to be destroyed in its entirety, I believe that we should all serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit while we are still able to serve it. We are now praying and serving the gospel by faith, and as God has blessed us, we have been able to achieve many things for the sake of the gospel. Even at this moment, the gospel continues to be proclaimed successfully. However, soon the time will come when we will no longer be able to serve the gospel. With this time in mind, I will carry out God’s work even more diligently.
Actually, conditions are now ideal for us to carry out the work of the gospel throughout the whole world. Yet even though the door of the gospel has been opened quite a bit, people’s hearts have been hardened as well. Even though we have so much work before us that we are all struggling a lot, let us endure in patience. When the time comes when we are no longer able to labor, we will all rest in peace together.
Above all else, we must never allow ourselves to be like Solomon. Even though we are insufficient, we must believe in the God-given gospel of the water and the Spirit, keep our hearts, and never replace our God. Individually, we cannot spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit each on his own, but if we work together united with the Church, then we will achieve so much more.
If we truthfully offer our hearts and our material possessions for this work, God will bless us and enable us to offer Him even more. If the gospel is proclaimed through our offerings, then we should unite our hearts to this endeavor and serve the gospel with all our dedication. I have every confidence that God will enable us to do this, for we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and we are serving the Lord as our King.