The New Life Mission

Sermons

Subject 6 : Heretics

[6-24] (Genesis 11:1-9) The Lesson of The Tower of Babel

(Genesis 11:1-9)
“Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.’ But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, ‘Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.”


The lineage of every race on this planet earth is traced back to Noah and his sons and daughters-in-law, who began to multiply once again when they emerged out of the ark at the end of the flood. The Bible says, “Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’” This indicates, that the people of that time were trying to build a closely entwined society, to avoid being scattered around. Prior to the construction of the Tower of Babel, there was only one language in this world. But as the Bible says, many languages sprang forth all over the world subsequent to the construction of the Tower of Babel. 


The Lessons of the Tower of Babel

Noah’s descendants were one family, and they all used one language. As they journeyed from the east, they came across a plain in the land of Shinar, and there they built the Tower of Babel to avoid being scattered. The plain of Shinar was located in today’s Iraq, and it’s in this region that they decided to settle down and form a unified community. It’s likely that this region back then was a fertile land, filled with lustrous green fields and plenty of animals to provide abundant sources of food. There they built a tower to reach up toward the heavens thereby trying to make a name for themselves so as to avoid being scattered all over the face of the earth. When God saw how these people were all unified trying to make a name for themselves so as to avoid being scattered, He realized that if this display of arrogance was tolerated that they would think that nothing was impossible for them to achieve. So God put an end to their construction of the Tower of Babel. 
There is a good spiritual lesson that we all can learn from this incident: When human beings unite together, they can make impressive material advancements, but when this happens, mankind invariably comes to stand against the righteousness of God. So the lesson from today’s Scripture passage is that we humans should not seek to prosper on our own just among ourselves without having faith in the righteousness of God. 
What was the people’s intention when they were trying to build a tower that would reach up to the heavens? Their intention was to make a name for themselves. In other words, as the arrogance of their hearts reached the heavens, they came to stand against the righteousness of God. There is no other reason to explain why they were so absolutely intent on building the Tower of Babel to reach the heavens. After all, they could have just built and lived in ordinary buildings. But they didn’t realize that Satan was working in this world through the thoughts of mankind. 
The righteousness of man itself is a challenge to God. Trying to establish your own human righteousness is the same as boasting your own power before God, and it shows that you’ve lost your humble disposition to rely on the righteousness of God. So you must realize just how evil it is before God to try to establish your own righteousness. For mankind to try to build a city and a tower tall enough for its top to reach up to the heavens is the same as rejecting God’s mercy and provoking His wrath. Historically speaking, it’s when human beings tried to build the Tower of Babel after Noah’s flood that they were scattered by God, and it’s because of this incident that people all around the world now speak different languages. All these things happened as a result of the wrath of God provoked by mankind’s own action. This shows us that God abhors it the most when people let their lives be ruled by Satan and stand against God’s mercy.
Even today, we can see that just like the builders of the Tower of Babel, all the religious people of the world are also standing against the righteousness of God by building up their own human righteousness. Every religion in this world is now challenging God’s righteousness. With their accumulated righteousness, the religionists are defying God and His righteousness. Doesn’t everyone nowadays just love to show off his own virtues? In these days, everyone likes to build up his own good deeds and stand against God, His righteousness, and the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The righteousness of mankind is therefore a direct affront to the righteousness of God, and it is a sure way to provoke God’s enmity. 


The Souls of the Spiritually Mistaken People

The Bible says that bricks and asphalt were used to build the Tower of Babel. For mankind to build an altar dedicated to God, it has to be built with stones, but these people built the Tower of Babel with bricks and asphalt instead. This implies that they tried to approach God with their confused faith that came out of their own confused thoughts. If someone calls upon the Lord with his own confused faith, would the Lord answer him? No, of course not. Once one falls into confused beliefs, his mind is bound to get even more confused while trying to escape from there, and in the end, he will fall even deeper into confusion. This is true for everyone. That’s why all those who want to escape from their spiritually confused beliefs must first know the gospel of the water and the Spirit and believe in it with their hearts. Unless they do so, they can never escape from their spiritually confused and false beliefs, and they will ultimately be destroyed in the midst of all this confusion. Those who are ignorant of the gospel of the water and the Spirit will be destroyed forever for the sin of standing against the righteousness of God with the righteousness of their own making. 
With the events surrounding the Tower of Babel, the Bible makes it clear that there will be God’s punishment for every fallacious faith that’s based on man’s carnal thoughts. Unless you are someone who is standing against the righteousness of God, you must believe that only the God-spoken gospel of the water and the Spirit can bring true salvation to you. Many Christians today are actually making up their own confused beliefs based on their carnal thoughts, and they are holding on to these beliefs rather than believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And they are also misleading others to have such confused beliefs. 
There are so many Christians nowadays who front their own righteousness. Even though their faith is a mistaken one made of their own fleshly thoughts just like the Tower of Babel, full of self-assurance, they believe in vain. That’s why those in Christian communities who have such carnal faith despise the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The important message that God is telling us through the incident of the Tower of Babel is that He abhors it when those with carnal beliefs unite amongst themselves. As such, you should realize here that when the worldly Christians of carnal faith come together, they are actually standing against God. 
What do today’s Christians with carnal beliefs do when they unite together? Ultimately, all that they do is just stand against the righteousness of God. Their unity per se is not what is wrong. Rather, what’s so problematic is that when we look at the consequences of their faith, we see that they ultimately end up committing the most grievous of sins by standing up against the righteousness of God and opposing the gospel of the water and the Spirit. When we look at the faith of those who oppose the righteousness of God, we can see that they are trying to establish and boast their own human righteousness. In other words, they disobey the will of God out of their own volition and stand against the God-given gospel of the water and the Spirit. One lesson that we all need to consider carefully once more as we each continue to carry on with our lives of faith is that whenever carnal people come together as one, they always end up committing the sin of standing against the righteousness of God. That’s why you should never unite with carnal Christians nor join them. You must then realize that God is unable to ever be pleased by sinful people.
As God abhorred the arrogance of mankind displayed by its united effort to build the Tower of Babel, God confused its language. He weakened the people’s power and made it impossible to complete the Tower of Babel. However, today’s Christians are still doing what does not please God. What can we learn here? We should realize here that the mistaken beliefs of mankind are also perpetuated. We must stand in the right file of faith, grasping the righteousness of God and believing in it according to the Truth. 
How tall was the Tower of Babel built in the Old Testament times? We don’t know this, as it’s not written in the Bible. Then how many stories does the tallest building in the world now have? It has 101 stories. In which country is it? It’s in Taiwan. How tall is this 101-storied building? It’s 509 m. While we don’t know for sure exactly how tall the Tower of Babel was, since the entire human race was united to build it, its height must have been quite considerable. Anyway, what’s important to remember here is that God confused the language of mankind and scattered it. 
Yesterday was the birthday of Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism, and I heard that the Catholic Church sent a congratulatory letter to the Buddhist community. The Catholic Church in Korea sent a congratulatory letter as well as it sent some of the Catholic membership to the Buddhist temple to celebrate the day in person. Nowadays, it’s become quite fashionable for the religious leaders around the world to approve each other’s religion. The so-called Ecumenical Movement is the embodiment of this trend. Many Christians are also participating in this movement. We are now living in an age when every religion in the world is coming together as one. 
What is the ultimate goal behind this religious unification? It is to stand against the righteousness of God. In other words, people today are uniting their confused faiths together ultimately to oppose the righteousness of God. Something like this was completely unimaginable before. But now in this last age, mankind is engaged in such a syncretistic Ecumenical Movement. This modern version of the Tower of Babel, whereby human beings become one, cannot happen in the realm of unbelief in this world that’s filled with selfishness, nor should it happen. 
Before, there used to be a lot of hostility between practitioners of different religions. Christianity in particular was quite adamant in rejecting all the other religions, on the grounds that one should believe according to the Bible. Unlike Christianity, which adheres to monotheism, Buddhism argues, “Everyone himself is a god. So you should reach Nirvana and discipline yourself until you reach your divine state.” So until recently, the followers of these two religions used to quarrel with each other. But now, they both argue that everyone should understand and approve of each other’s religion. In Protestant churches as well, the so-called religious pluralism is making big headway, and every year, meetings such as WCRP (World Conference on Religion and Peace) are held to encourage all the religions of the world to come together. This is now happening all around the world. The Ecumenical Movement is global in scope. Catholic nuns and Buddhist nuns are singing each other’s hymns together. Spiritually speaking, this is the same faith as those who were building the Tower of Babel. In other words, all the religions in the world are syncretizing with each other spiritually.
The word “Babel” from the Tower of Babel is defined as “to confuse.” It’s from this that spiritual confusion has descended upon the souls of people living in this world. The religious leaders of this age say that it’s a positive step forward for every religion to come together. But is such a movement aiming to achieve the unity of every religion really something that’s desirable? The advocates of this movement will come together only to stand against the righteousness of God, and once this happens, they will all face spiritual destruction. In the time of the Old Testament, God had confused mankind’s language and scattered human beings around so that they couldn’t complete the Tower of Babel. But now, as Jesus Christ came to this earth and gave mankind the gospel of the water and the Spirit, He has made it possible for everyone who believes in this gospel to be saved in Christ. However, those who don’t accept this grace into their hearts will be destroyed forever. 
No matter what, we must lead our lives of faith united with the Lord by trusting in the righteousness of God and the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We should never unite with carnally oriented, fallacious beliefs. It would be wonderful if all the religious practitioners of the world were also delivered from all the sins of the world by realizing the righteousness of God and believing in Jesus as their Savior. But we have to realize that when human beings unite together amongst themselves, all that can come out of this is just a corrupted religious faith. In the end, if someone unites with mankind’s carnal thoughts, he is bound to stand against the righteousness of God and His Word, and ultimately, this is nothing more than building up one’s own human righteousness like the Tower of Babel. So if anyone falls into carnal thoughts and leads his life of faith together with worldly people, this person will not only lose his own soul, but he may also end up destroying another person’s soul. It’s foolish for human beings to try to grasp the righteousness of God with their own carnal thoughts. If people today continue to lead a carnal life of faith united as one, it’s bound to produce nothing but a corrupt faith. And when this happens, their minds can’t understand the gospel of the water and the Spirit that God has given to all of us even when it is preached to them, nor can they believe in this gospel. That’s why those who don’t believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit keep insisting stubbornly with a single unified voice that they are right all based on their own useless human thoughts. These people must throw away such mistaken thoughts as soon as possible. Unless they do so, they cannot escape from spiritual death. 
God is far more pleased when people fear Him and follow Him by trusting in His righteousness, rather than uniting all themselves together. If people unite just amongst themselves based on their own righteousness, then they will inevitably stand against God and His righteousness as a result. So you have to remember that it is wrong for anyone to show off his own righteousness. Even for us, who have now become righteous by believing in the God-given gospel—that is, the gospel of the water and the Spirit—if we unite amongst ourselves only carnally and insist on our own righteousness, then we will also drift away from the righteousness of God to our doom. We the righteous should unite together for the purpose of becoming one with the righteousness of God and serving the righteous gospel that Jesus Christ has Himself completed. As such, we should not unite with those who are carnally minded, but we should instead unite with those who believe in and follow God’s righteousness, and together with others of the same belief obey the will of the Lord. 
The most important point that God is making here through the events surrounding the Tower of Babel is this: One shouldn’t unite with carnal people to stand against the saints who believe in the righteousness of God. Even though we are righteous, if we let our human thoughts and emotional attachments mislead us into uniting with worldly people, then our spiritual faith will perish in the end. That’s because if we stand against the righteousness of God, this spells nothing but spiritual death. We should never allow this to happen because we are of those who have faith in the righteousness of God. 
From the account of the Tower of Babel of which God is speaking, I can appreciate that even we the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit may go astray. We have to be very careful, since all of us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are also only human. When mankind is united, it has a tremendous strength to stand against the righteousness of God. The righteousness of mankind can never be broken by anything else but the righteousness of God. Only when one knows this righteousness of God does he finally admit that he is completely devoid of any righteousness. The righteousness of mankind must surrender before the righteousness of God.
Although we are now leading our lives of faith by trusting in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, before we knew this gospel of Truth, we had also thought that our carnal beliefs were right. Therefore, remembering the Tower of Babel, we the righteous should never repeat such mistakes. Even though people all over the world are now uniting together to stand against the righteousness of God just like the builders of the Tower of Babel, we the righteous must not lead our lives of faith united with these carnal people. Instead, the righteous should trust in the righteousness of God, fear Him, and obey His will by faith. In these end times, the entire human race prefers selfishness of self to God’s righteousness, and united together, it is now serving the Devil and opposing the righteousness of God. But even so, if we live by trusting in the righteousness of God, then we will surely overcome the world.
The whole world is being unified religiously, and more broadly, all those who stand against the righteousness of God are seeking to unify themselves around the Devil. Eventually, enticed by the wealth and fame of this world and its power and authority, many will rise up under the name of the Antichrist to stand against God and His saints. When the last day comes, the whole world will be united under one religion.
Did you know that it was such a grievous sin in the sight of God for people to unite themselves based on their own virtues? You probably didn’t realize this, right? You may still wonder why it is such a sin for human beings to come together based on their own virtues. In fact, far from constituting a sin, you may even have thought that there was nothing wrong with human beings coming together to establish a human righteousness. What about our deacons? Did you ever think that it was wrong for mankind to come together? Before you received the remission of sin by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, you probably didn’t even imagine that there was anything wrong with the virtues of mankind. But now that you’ve received the remission of sin, you should realize that to stand against the righteousness of God is to try to establish one’s own righteousness. Yet those who insist on their own human virtues do not realize that their unity constitutes a serious sin before God. They think that it’s all for the good of the human race to come together even if God is excluded. 
Between the virtues of mankind and the righteousness of God, which one did we think was right subconsciously? Didn’t we think that it was good for human beings to come together and pool their resources? Didn’t we consider the unity of mankind as something wonderful? What about our sisters? What were your thoughts on this issue? Did you think that it was good for mankind to unite together, or did you think it was bad? So you thought it was good! Both sister Eunyoung and sister Jihye just said that they thought it would be good. What about our deacons then? What were your thoughts on this issue? Perhaps Deaconess Youngae Kim has a few words to say; would you like to share your thoughts with us? 
(Editor’s note—the following is an excerpt from Deaconess Kim’s response: “Before I received the remission of sin, I used to avoid all social gatherings, as I did not enjoy meeting people. But at the same time, I also envied those with good people skills and able to mingle with others so easily. This was one of the most difficult issues I had, even after receiving the remission of sin by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. But now, I’ve been told that I should unite with the righteous of God’s Church, and that is what I am doing.”) Thank you for that frank remark. 
All this time, our thoughts had been subconsciously embedded with the notion that any and all unity of people was good. Is this not how we had thought? What about you? Didn’t you think it was good for people to come together? We all used to think that any kind of unity was good and desirable in itself, whether it was people or nations that came together. Didn’t all the deacons here also think that getting along with everyone else was generally good, as Deaconess Kim thought? Sure you did. Isn’t this how all of us had thought? 
The Bible, however, says that it is wrong for human beings to come together just by themselves. Unity with God is fundamentally different from unity amongst human beings. Uniting with God’s Church is done to follow the will of the Lord; it entails uniting with the righteousness of God by faith first, and then uniting once again with everyone else who is also in union with this righteousness of God. This is the right unity that we should all strive to achieve. But trying to unite amongst human beings is different from uniting with the righteousness of God, and that is why it constitutes a sin. So it’s because of God’s righteousness that all of us, including our deacons, have united with the Church.
The Bible is saying that it is never right for human beings with the flesh to be united just among themselves by their carnal faith. In a display of their unity, men tried to build the Tower of Babel in the plain of Shinar, but God came down there and threw their language into complete confusion. The people at that time were able to unite together to stand against God because they all shared one common language, and that is why God confused their language. Now, of course, there are so many different languages around the world that we are having a hard time trying to overcome language barriers to spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit. If mankind at that time had not built the Tower of Babel, then just one sermon would be enough for everyone around the world to understand the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and for this gospel to work in everyone’s heart. 
Although today’s Scripture passage is a very short one, within this passage, God is providing us with the full account of the origin of the evils of all the religions of this world. When this passage is analyzed closely, we can see from where the history of the religions of mankind began and what’s wrong with them.
Today, Christianity itself is actively involved in the Ecumenical Movement. Christians involved in this movement are carrying its torch not to become the light of the world, but to show off their own strength, and this is not something that’s congruent to the will of God. On the contrary, it’s a union of those with a fallacious faith trying to challenge God and His righteousness. Today’s Christians are trying to unify themselves according to the carnal thoughts of mankind, but God will not permit this to happen and He will scatter them all. As we know the righteousness of God, we are able to realize all of His will. 
The Tower of Babel symbolizes the fallacy of spiritual syncretism. People nowadays are syncretizing different religious beliefs into spiritual confusion, and those who adhere to this kind of faith will face terrifying curses from God. Many people today professing to believe in Jesus have already been spiritually compromised. As every religion today is now built on groundless doctrines like this, if it’s shaken by the Word of Truth just once, it will all fall down like a house built on sand. Although it may seem as though these religionists are expounding on some great doctrines, in reality, once you grasp the Truth that has come by the gospel of the water and the Spirit, you can realize what is so wrong with the doctrines of all the religions of the world. With their carnal faith—that is, confused faith—today’s religious practitioners are standing against the righteousness of God, and this is precisely what’s wrong with them. 
Today’s Scripture passage is immediately followed by the genealogy of the one who believed in the righteousness of God, and this genealogy is the genealogy of Shem, the first son of Noah. Shem’s descendants are listed in this genealogy, which at the end lists Terah and it is from Terah that Abraham the father of faith was born. According to oral tradition, Abraham’s father Terah was a vender who made and sold idols. This implies that Terah’s faith was syncretic. He believed in both God and other deities, but Abraham was not like his father. When God appeared before him and spoke to him, Abraham believed in God’s Word wholly and obeyed it in its entirety. 
Today’s Scripture passage tells us what our true faith should be like before God. The events surrounding the Tower of Babel demonstrate clearly that only those who follow God by trusting in His righteousness can lead their lives of faith successfully. All the others who don’t follow the Word of God are wrong, regardless of whether their disobedience is displayed individually, collectively, or nationally. Therefore, the faith of those who follow the Lord according to their own will is all sin. 
If we don’t follow the righteousness of God by placing our faith in His Word, then everything is wrong. Many Christians try to lead their lives of faith according to their own will, but is this even possible? Does God have any expectations about mankind’s willpower? God is the Creator, who made mankind, and He can count even our hairs (Matthew 10:30). This God knows fully that we humans can never reach any righteousness that’s worthy of His approval, no matter how hard we try. Although many Christians are burning with self-determination and trying to build their own righteousness like the Tower of Babel, all of which are based on fallacious doctrines, God is pointing out the gospel of the water and the Spirit to them and telling them to reach His righteousness by believing in this gospel of the water and the Spirit.
In a match between the righteousness of mankind and the righteousness of God, which would prevail? God’s righteousness will of course prevail. The tower of useless faith that human beings have built out of their own volition will all crumble down in ruination at the end. All willful faith built by mankind is completely in vain. In Jinan, a town located in the southwestern part of South Korea, there is a pair of mountains called Mai Mountain that resemble a pair of a horse’s ears (Editor’s note: The word ‘mai’ means ‘horse ear’). Visitors to this mountain can come across many stone pagodas that a hermit spent his entire lifetime to build as a part of practicing asceticism. How empty would the hermit feel if someone came along one day and demolished these pagodas over night that he had built so meticulously throughout his whole life? While it may have taken a lifetime to build the towers, it only takes a moment to bring them all down. Mankind may build the Tower of Babel all they want, but it’s God who brings it down in a moment. 
The incident of the Tower of Babel shown in Genesis provides a profound lesson to all of us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Had it not been for this event happening then we would not be having so much trouble trying to learn a foreign language. More importantly, it reminds us that anyone can be tempted into building his own version of the Tower of Babel. That’s because everyone wants to live harmoniously in union with others. Although it is a common desire for all human beings to live in harmony with each other, this shouldn’t lead them to stand against God and drift away from Him. The problem, however, is that this is exactly what most people do. 
For ages, mankind has been trying to secure its happiness on its own. But this is simply impossible. Due to being separated from God mankind can never practice goodness nor be happy on its own volition. That is why God has given us the Kingdom of Heaven to live at in perfect harmony forever. As the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we give all our thanks, glory, and praise to our Lord for giving us the Kingdom of Heaven.
But there still is one thing of which we must be careful: We must not commit the sin of drifting away from the God of Truth by leading our lives of faith according to our own human thoughts. The lesson that the Tower of Babel teaches us is that we must throw away carnal beliefs and have spiritual faith. The Lord has not given us just a plain gospel, but He has given us the gospel of the water and the Spirit. He does not want you to believe in a confused and dogmatic gospel which insists that the blood of the Cross alone constitutes the gospel. Rather, He wants you to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The gospel of the water and the Spirit the Lord has given us will bring true salvation to all of those who believe in this gospel. Let us all, therefore, live by trusting in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.