“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated ‘king of righteousness,’ and then also king of Salem, meaning ‘king of peace,’ without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils. And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better. Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him. Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. For He testifies:
‘You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.’
For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath (for they have become priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him who said to Him:
‘The LORD has sworn
And will not relent,
You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek’,
by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant. Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.”
There is a priest named Melchizedek appearing in the Old Testament. When we turn to Genesis chapter 14, we see Abraham taking an army raised and trained in his own house to wage war against Chedorlaomer king of Elam and other kings aligned with him, and rescuing his nephew Lot after defeating them all. At that time, on Abraham’s way back from the war, a priest named Melchizedek brought bread and wine to him and blessed him. So Abraham set aside a tithe of the spoils of the war and gave it to Melchizedek the Priest (Genesis 14:17-20).
In mentioning this Priest Melchizedek, today’s Scripture passage speaks of the exaltation of the priesthood of Jesus in the order of Melchizedek. The Priest Melchizedek was the king of peace and king of righteousness, without father or mother, without genealogy, and having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he always remained a priest. He was the king of righteousness and king of peace. The Book of Hebrews draws an opposite comparison between the priesthood of the Old Testament and that of the New Testament, and in doing so the Bible is asking us here to compare the priesthood of Jesus in the order of Melchizedek and the priesthood of Aaron in the Old Testament, and to ruminate on just how exalted Jesus is.
The descendants of Abraham eventually came to give a tithe of everything to the Levite priests, even though the latter were their own people and family. But in reality, although the Law had come from Moses in the Old Testament, Aaron was appointed to fulfill the priesthood of the High Priest of the people of Israel, and as the High Priest, Aaron was the highest authority among the Israelites. Interestingly enough, we see here that Abraham also gave a tithe to the Priest Melchizedek.
Does this then mean that the High Priests of the Old Testament were higher than Jesus? The Bible compares two different priesthoods here—that of the earthly High Priests and that of Jesus; who is higher then? Who should be blessed by whom, and who should ask whom for blessings? These questions are addressed by the writer of the Book of Hebrews from the beginning of today’s Scripture passage. It’s written, “The lesser is blessed by the better.” Abraham, too, was blessed by Melchizedek, the Priest of the Most High.
How should we lead our lives of faith then? Should we rely on the Law and trust in the institutions of the Tabernacle and the sacrificial system of the Old Testament? Or, should we trust in the sacrifice of the water and the Spirit offered by Jesus when He came to this earth to save us? Whether we are blessed or cursed depends on which of these two kinds of sacrifices we trust in. So today’s Scripture passage is very important. Should we come out to God by trying to keep His Word faithfully and offering legalistic sacrifices every day, or should we lead our lives of faith by believing in the salvation Jesus Christ has fulfilled for us through His water and blood by offering His own body and thus making us sinless once and for all? We have to choose one of these two options for our lives of faith.
In the Old Testament, the people of Israel had a great deal of respect for the descendants of Levi, especially the descendants of Aaron. But in this present age of the New Testament, there is little doubt that every Christian considers Jesus to be higher than the house of Aaron. However, although most Christians know this quite well, many of them do not actually show it in their lives of faith. Regarding this, the Bible says the following: “For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change in the law” (Hebrews 7:12). With this passage, the Bible is saying that Jesus, who belonged to another tribe that did not officiate at the altar in the Old Testament, would be entrusted with priesthood.
Through Moses, God had given no less than 613 statutes and commandments of the Law to the people of Israel. Moses had instructed the people to live by this Law. And the people of Israel had answered with one voice that they would indeed live by the Law before God. When we turn to the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), we see the people of Israel promising God to abide by His Word of the Law. Whatever commandments God gave them, they all said yes and pledged to obey all His commandments unconditionally. However, when we go past the Book of Deuteronomy and turn to the Book of Joshua, we see that the people of Israel had never lived according to the God-spoken Law. By the time we turn to the Age of the Judges and look at 1 and 2 Kings, we see that the people of Israel had already begun to refuse to obey their spiritual leaders, and beyond this, we see them corrupting even the sacrificial system by offering sacrifices in whatever way they saw fit. The Book of Malachi records that even though God had commanded the Israelites to bring unblemished offerings, they gave no heed to this and brought lambs so full of blemishes that they could not even sell them to anyone, saying to the priests, “Give us a break just this time and accept this offering.” Despite the fact that every sacrifice had to be offered according to the God-established requirements, the Israelites offered sacrifices according to their own wish.
Like this, not even once did the Israelites in the Old Testament keep the Law of God completely. As a result, God had to change the sacrificial system for the people of Israel. When we turn to the Book of Jeremiah, we see God saying that He would establish another law to Judah.
Let’s turn to Jeremiah 31:31-34 here: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
Our Lord said here that He would establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, and that’s because although God had made a covenant with the people of Israel through the Law, they had not lived according to the Word of God, and therefore God had decided to establish another covenant of salvation instead of the Law. The Israelites had pledged to God, “We will worship You alone and we will live according to Your Word and Your commandments.” When God had told them, “You shall have no other gods before Me,” they had all said, “Yes, Lord, we will have no other gods. You alone are our God. The Lord is the only God. There can never be any other gods for us.” But despite this, the Israelites could not keep their promise to worship only God.
The Law includes the Ten Commandments, which specify the basic rules that everyone has to follow: “You shall not call My name in vain; you shall not bow before any other gods; you shall not make idols nor bow before them; you shall keep the Sabbath Day holy; you shall honor your parents; you shall not murder; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; and you shall not covet.” The Law also includes many other statutes that must be kept in everyday life, specifying in excruciating detail what should and should not be done by God’s people. Everything that is good, the Law commands us to do, and everything that is evil, that Law commands us not to do. These are the God-given Law and commandments. However, in the entire human race, there is not a single person who can ever keep the Law of God thoroughly. That is why God had to establish another way to reach salvation from sin instead of the Law.
Exactly when, then, was the sacrificial system changed? The priesthood was changed after Jesus came to this earth. As Jesus accepted all the priestly duties of Aaron the High Priest, the Lord ended the sacrificial rites of the Temple, which had been solely administered by the descendants of Levi. The Lord alone assumed the priesthood as the High Priest of the Kingdom of Heaven. He came to this earth not as a descendant of Aaron but as a descendant of Judah, and He sacrificed His own body to God the Father for the salvation of the entire human race from sin, so that everyone would be remitted from all sins through the sacrificial baptism and blood of Jesus. And by doing so, the Lord has now made it possible for the entire human race to solve away all the problems of sins by faith. Through this sacrifice that has brought salvation to mankind, through the sacrifice of the baptism and blood of Jesus, the Lord has solved away all the problems of the sins of the human race. He has offered the everlasting sacrifice of salvation.
“For the Priesthood Being Changed, of Necessity There Is Also a Change of the Law”
The sacrificial system and the priesthood of the Old Testament have now changed in this present age of the New Testament. In the age of the Old Testament, the people of Israel had to offer the sacrifice of the Day of Atonement once a year through the Levites alone, especially through the descendants of Aaron. In those days, the Israelites’ sins were remitted away only if they offered their sacrifice through Aaron the High Priest and his descendants. And when the High Priest entered the Sanctuary and stepped inside the Most Holy beyond the veil once a year, he had to fill the room with incense and bring the blood of the sacrificial animal to the presence of God. Only the High Priest could enter the Most Holy in the Sanctuary once a year.
However, once Jesus came to this earth, Aaron’s priesthood was moved to Jesus. Jesus was entrusted with an everlasting priesthood. And as the eternal High Priest of the Kingdom of Heaven, He fulfilled this priesthood flawlessly by offering His own body to bring the remission of sins to the entire human race.
In the age of the Old Testament, even the High Priest himself was not flawless, and therefore he had to pass his sins to the sacrificial animal by laying his hands on its head and confess, “Lord, I have sinned innumerably.” Having thus passed all his sins to the sacrificial animal through the laying on of his hands, the High Priest then killed the animal, sprinkled its blood on and before the Ark of the Testimony seven times, put the rest of the blood on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, cut the animal into pieces, and offered the sacrifice by burning its flesh along with its fat on the altar of burnt offering. Given the fact that Aaron the High Priest himself had so many shortcomings, just how much more flawed would the common people have been? Even though Aaron was a descendant of Levi and the earthly High Priest, he could offer the sacrifice of the Day of Atonement just once a year according to the God-established Law. And this sacrifice could not take away the Israelites’ sins forever (Hebrews 10:1-4).
However, our Lord made a new promise to His people in Jeremiah chapter 31, saying, “I will abolish the Law. Even though I had established the covenant of the Law, I have never seen you keep My Law completely, not even once. So I will abolish this Law that has not been of any benefit to you, and in its place I will make a new covenant and establish another law of salvation. With this new law, I Myself will personally save you through the sacrificial system of the water and the Spirit, instead of relying on your own acts of the Law.” So, when the time of salvation came, the Lord came to this earth in the flesh, bore all the sins of the world by being baptized on His own body, and shed His blood on the Cross. By thus offering to God the sacrifice that remitted away all the sins of all the people, the Lord has saved us the believers. With this salvation of the water and the Spirit, He has blotted out all the sins of the entire human race once and for all.
The Law of God was to be changed and abolished. Although salvation could be reached if one kept the Law according to the Word of the Old Testament, God now knew this was simply beyond the reach of His people. It’s written, “By the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). God has told His people that salvation cannot be reached through the Law; He has made them realize their sins; and to those of us who believe in and obey the Lord’s law of the salvation of the water and the Spirit, not the law of acts, He has brought salvation. Through this new covenant of salvation, in which the entire human race is saved by the love of God—that is, through the baptism and blood of Jesus who bore each and every sin—God Himself has delivered the entire human race from all the sins of the world.
If you believe in Jesus without understanding the significance of the baptism of Jesus and His blood, then your faith in Jesus is in vain. If you believe in Jesus mistakenly like this, your heart is even more tormented. That is why God said in this Book of Hebrews that to save us human beings from sin, He had no choice but to make a new promise. But this time, He promised to save all of us who believe in Jesus from all our sins through the just law of salvation, of the water and the blood, instead of the Law of acts. And He has fulfilled this promise. The Bible is also demonstrating to us here just how superior and how much more distinguished Jesus is compared to the Old Testament’s priests following the order of Aaron.
Our faith must be made clearly distinct first by believing in the salvation of the water and blood of Jesus. Can any pastor be greater than Jesus, no mater how holy his voice sounds, how educated he is, and how distinguished and well-spoken he is? No, of course not. It’s Jesus Himself who has saved us through the gospel of the water and the blood; no man can ever save himself by keeping the Law. Just as the priesthood of salvation from sin has changed, the law of salvation by which God saves us from all sins has also changed.
The Preeminence of the Love of God
We can be saved only if we realize exactly how Jesus has saved us and only when we grasp and trust in the preeminence of the love of God. What, then, is legalistic faith, and what is the faith that’s placed in this preeminence of the love of God? Today’s legalistic faith is one that emphasizes one’s own denomination, beliefs, and experiences, whereas the spiritual faith is one that believes in the superior salvation that has come by the water and the Spirit. Those with this spiritual faith believe concretely in Jesus’ salvation of the water and the Spirit and live their entire lifetime for the gospel.
Even today, there are many Christians who believe and preach that they have been remitted only from their original sin, that they have to seek forgiveness every day for their personal sins, and that their future sins will be forgiven in due time. Such Christians who lead their lives of faith according to the Old Testament still trust in and follow the Law of God. As they are still ignorant of the preeminence of Lord’s salvation that has come by the water and the Spirit, they are leading their lives of faith without knowing the Truth of regeneration.
Even though it was said in the Old Testament that one could be saved through the acts of the Law by faithfully observing the Word of God, this could not be achieved by anyone. Because our God knew us humans so well and was fully cognizant of the weakness of man and his imperfection, He completely abolished the old law of salvation that had required everyone to keep the Law to reach salvation. But no one could reach salvation by the Law. So through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, Jesus said, “I Myself will save you from all sins through My water and blood.” Moreover, God had already spoken to us of this salvation in the Book of Genesis.
It’s written in Genesis 3:15,
“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.”
When Adam and Eve fell into sin, God made tunics of skin from a sacrificial animal. Two types of the garments of salvation are mentioned in Genesis chapter 3—one is the covering of fig leaves, and the other is the tunic of skin. Which one do you like better between the coverings of fig leaves or the tunics of skin? I’m sure you prefer the tunics of skin. The tunics of skin are better because an animal’s life was sacrificed to bring man back to life from death. The coverings of fig leaves are no good as one has to keep making them to cover his sins and shortcomings. Fig leaves are broad in the shape of a hand, and any garments made of them are easily torn apart. In my childhood I used to make clothes out of tree leaves and pretend to be a solider when playing in the field, but no matter how well they were made, they were all torn apart by the end of the day and I was left exposed. In contrast, the baptism of Jesus and His blood on the Cross, which together constitute the supreme love of God and the salvation of sinners, not the righteousness of man, has saved the entire human race from all the sins of the world more than sufficiently. This is the preeminence of the love of God.
Those Who Are Still Leading a Legalistic Life of Faith
Anyone who makes and puts on the Old Testament’s coverings of fig leaves is leading a false life of faith. Such false Christians frequently change their clothes as acts of repentance. As these clothes don’t last long for them, they have to keep on replacing them almost every day. Even now, those practicing legalistic faith make on a new garment of fig leaves and put it on every time they go to church. They then say to God, “Lord, this wicked sinner has committed many sins this past week. Lord, I believe that You have saved me by being crucified. Please wash away my sins with Your precious blood!” They make their own garments of salvation and put them on, and then shout out, “Thank You, Lord! Hallelujah!” Once they return home, they have to make yet another set of clothes in just a couple of days, because the clothes they are wearing are all torn apart. So they pray to God, “Lord, I have sinned in the past three days. Please forgive me.” Like this, they once again make their own garments of repentance and clothe themselves with them.
At first, they may make and put on a new set of clothes once every few days, but soon, they find themselves compelled to make a new set every day. As they discover that they can’t live by the Word of God, they have to make and put on new garments of repentance, saying to God, “Lord, I am so ashamed of myself. I’ve sinned yet again.” They call on the name of the Lord, and yet they find it increasingly more difficult to make their own garments of salvation. Whenever such people call on the name of the Lord, they do so only to confess their sins to God. Eventually, they need to make a new set of clothes every day. What happens when they can’t keep it up? They resort to making a sturdy set of cloths a couple of times a year, besides the garments they make every week or every day. For instance, some of them might climb a mountain to fast and pray, saying to God, “Wash me, Lord! Renew me! I believe in You, Lord!” Rather than praying during the day, they usually rest during daytime and pray at night, holding onto the some pine tree or crawling into in a cave, and shout out loud, “Lord, I believe in You!” Offering fervent prayers of repentance, they wail and cry, begging the Lord to forgive their sins. In this way, they make and put a special garment of faith. Although they think that these special garments made of prayer and fasting would last them a long time, in reality, even these garments do not last that long.
After praying like this, they come down from the mountain feeling all refreshed and renewed, praising the Lord all the way back home and ready to live a virtuous Christian life. Having made and put on special garments of faith, they feel as though they are filled with the Holy Spirit on the way down the mountain, but once they return home, go back to their church, and meet with their fellow church members, they are defiled once again. Their friends ask them, “Where have you been?” “Oh, I was away to visit some place.” “You seem to have lost a lot of weight.” “Yeah, something happened along the way.” Hiding from everyone else how they had fasted, they go to church and pray, and then they resolve themselves to never lust after any woman, to never lie, to never hate anyone, but to love everyone. All of this is laudable, but the problem is that when they see a scantily clothed woman walking down the street, their holy hearts are quickly changed into lustful hearts. They marvel at how short the woman’s skirt is, and even though they hate themselves for gawking at her, they can’t keep their eyes off her. So they find themselves asking the Lord to forgive their lustful sins once again, saying to Him, “Lord, I have sinned again!”
My fellow believers, you must realize here that even though such legalistic faith may seem somehow holy, it doesn’t last even a few days, compelling one to make and put on a new set of clothes time after time. You must grasp that this kind of legalistic faith that makes and puts on coverings of fig leaves is the wrong faith. Yet too many Christians try so hard to live a holy life according to the Law. Perched on top of the mountain, they shout out the name of the Lord as though this would somehow make their voices holy, and when they pray on behalf of the congregation, they wail and cry, saying, “Oh, our holy Father, we have all sinned in this past week! Please forgive these sinners!” Everyone else in the congregation then also ends up sobbing, thinking, “That man is so spiritual! He must have fasted and prayed in the mountain. His faith is so good!” However, because such people’s faith is legalistic, arrogance creeps up even before the prayer is over, and they end up corrupting themselves with their own thoughts in no time.
When someone makes a special, legalistic garment of fig leaves made with prayers and fasting, it lasts about two months. After two months, it turns into a rag, and so once again the person has to make a new set of clothes every day and resume living a legalistic and hypocritical life. This is a life of false faith that is led by relying on this earth’s legalistic acts like fig leaves. The legalistic faith is the faith of fig leaves. The legalists say, “You have sinned this past week, have you not? Repent!” They visit many different churches and shout out to the congregation in a high-pitched voice, “Repent! Pray for forgiveness!” Having learned to sound and act spiritual, they say piously to God, “Lord, I am so insufficient! I have failed to live by Your Word. I have failed to live by Your Law.” Such “Christians” who try to keep the Law every day even though they know themselves that this is impossible are actually standing against God, challenging His Law, and showing nothing but arrogance before God.
A Typical Example of Legalistic Faith in Korea
During the Korean War (1950-1953), when the Communist Army of North Korea invaded South Korea, many Christians were persecuted. Among them, there was a man named Chudal Bae, a young Christian who was killed for his religious beliefs. On the Lord’s Day, some North Korean soldiers had ordered him to sweep the yard. But Bae refused to do so, saying that it was the Lord’s Day. He refused to sweep the yard because he wanted to keep the Lord’s Day holy. Hearing this, the soldiers became even more determined to make him do their bidding, if only to break his faith. But Bae kept on refusing to obey to the end. The soldiers then arrested him and tied him up to a tree. And pointing their guns at him, they said to him, “Now, are you going to sweep the yard or be shot to death?” Forced to make a choice, Bae said, “I will not sweep the yard on this holy day even if I am shot to death.” “Well, if that’s the case, then you better not regret.” Bae was then shot to death. Later on, the leaders of Bae’s denomination appointed him to deaconship posthumously to commemorate his faith.
This faith, my fellow believers, is utterly wrong. Bae should have just swept the yard as he was told and preached the salvation of Jesus to the soldiers; there was no point for him to be so stubborn, only to die in the end. Does God reward you just because you don’t work on the Lord’s Day? No, that’s not true. Faith is something that is kept spiritually, not in fleshly terms. Yet today’s Christian leaders put people like the deacon Bae on a pedestal, and they do this just to establish and boast their own denomination’s ideas and tradition. Just as the Pharisees in the Bible had clung to their own tradition, these misguided Christians are standing against Jesus in hypocrisy.
Christian leaders in Korea frequently invoke deacon Bae in their sermons, saying to the congregation, “Let’s emulate deacon Bae and observe the Lord’s Day faithfully.” The only reason they invoke Bae is to ensure that their church members do not skip church on the Lord’s Day. But I’m sure that you all knew this already. We should never learn from such hypocritical faith. Instead, we should learn from spiritual faith. “Why did Jesus have to baptized and crucified to death for us? What is the gospel of the water and the Spirit? What is the true gospel?” These are the spiritual questions that we should ask to ourselves. So many Christians in Korea and beyond have not been born again yet; for their sake, we should preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit throughout the whole world, so that these people would also be born again. All our effort in our lives of faith should be devoted to such spiritual works that make it possible for every soul to be born again spiritually. Just believing in Jesus blindly is not enough; you must believe in Jesus correctly and properly.
Let me tell you another story here to illustrate my point. Long ago, there was a Christian woman married to a nonbeliever. Since her husband wasn’t a Christian, and her parents-in-law were not Christians either, she faced a great deal of difficulties to keep the Lord’s Day. On one Saturday night, to keep the Lord’s Day, the woman went out to the field and harvested all the crops by herself. She knew that her father-in-law would say to her, “Don’t go to church tomorrow, as we have to harvest the crops,” all to prevent her from going to church. So she went out to the field by herself on Saturday night, spent the whole night harvesting the crops, and then went to church the next morning to keep the Lord’s Day. It is indeed desirable that we should not miss any church gatherings like this woman here. But just because one keeps the Lord’s Day, does it necessarily mean that this person’s faith is genuine? In the Lord’s sight, isn’t true faith all about believing in the Word of Jesus, and receiving the remission of all sins and being born again through the water and the Spirit? True faith begins when one is born again.
Can you be saved if you believe in Jesus in a legalistic way? No, you can’t. My point here is not that you shouldn’t live virtuously according to the Law, but that this is simply impossible. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I’m endorsing legalistic faith here.
The Book of James says that if one breaks just one statute of the Law after keeping it all, this person is guilty of breaking the rest of the Law. So if you believe in Jesus, you need to think about how you can be born again through the gospel of the water and the Spirit; you need to go to the place where you can find Jesus’ gospel Word of the water and the Spirit; and you need to listen to this Word of the water and the Spirit. Only then can you be born again and live out your faith. And after carrying on with your life of faith like this, go to the Lord when He calls you. Don’t waste your time and money attending a godless church in vain, only to see your soul remaining sinful and thrown into hell. Instead, listen to Jesus’ Word of the water and the Spirit, be born again, and lead a true life of faith.
Think carefully about why Jesus came to this earth. If any and all legalistic believers on this earth could go to Heaven, Jesus would not have come to this earth. You must grasp here that after the coming of the Lord, the priesthood that saves you from sin has changed. Faith has changed as well, from being legalistic to spiritual. In the days of the Old Testament, salvation was reached if one kept the Law with his acts but not if he failed to do so. Today, the real faith is not like this.
Jesus has told us that He has saved every one of us from all the sins of the world through the water of His baptism, His blood, and the Spirit. In other words, He has saved us by the law of the salvation of His water, blood, and love. And He has completely fulfilled our salvation through the baptism He received in the Jordan River, the blood He shed on the Cross to death, and His resurrection. As the old commandments are of no benefit to us, our God Himself has saved us from all sins through His baptism and blood, vowing to us personally, “For the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath” (Hebrews 7:19-20). Being martyred to defend one’s legalistic faith is all in vain, whereas the faith to know and believe wholeheartedly in the true gospel of the water and the Spirit is the real faith.
My fellow believers, all of us ought to have a beneficial faith. What kind of faith would be beneficial to your soul? Is it right for you to just attend any church and practice legalistic faith? Or is it right for you to attend the true Church that teaches you the Word of the water and the Spirit, helps you believe in this Word, and leads your soul to be born again of water and the Spirit? Which church and which pastor would be more beneficial to your soul? All that I ask is that you should attend the church that is more beneficial to your soul.
God will save your soul through someone who has the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit. Make your selection carefully, for your soul is your own responsibility. The truly wise people are those who entrust their souls to the Word of God.
Jesus Was Made Priest with an Oath
It’s written in Hebrews 7:20-21: “And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath (for they have become priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him who said to Him: ‘The LORD has sworn And will not relent, ‘You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek’’).”
When we turn to Psalm 110:4, we see the Bible saying,
“The LORD has sworn
And will not relent,
‘You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.’”
The Lord God swore to Himself, promising us with the written Word, “I will become an everlasting priest according to the order of Melchizedek. The Priest Melchizedek is the king of righteousness, king of peace, and the everlasting priest. For your salvation, I will become your Melchizedek, the everlasting priest.”
When Jesus came to this earth, He gave us an even better guarantee of this promised salvation from sin (Hebrews 9:21-30). Instead of remitting away our sins through the blood of a sacrificial animal such as a bull or a sheep, Jesus was baptized on His own body and shed His own blood on the Cross, and thereby bore all ours sins and blotted them all out.
In the Old Testament, when the High Priest was dying, his son succeeded his priesthood as the new High Priest at the age of 30. So if the High Priest was nearing death and he had a 30-year old son, he passed on his priesthood to that son. In this way, even after the High Priest’s death, the priesthood was continuously passed onto his descendants. Eventually, by the time of David, there were so many descendants of Aaron that the priestly tribe came up with an order and administered sacrifices according to this order. At the beginning, Aaron the High Priest had only a few children, but later on, there were many descendants. As all the descendants of Aaron had the responsibility and the right to practice the priesthood, they took a turn in ministering as the priests, as it’s written in the Gospel of Luke, “While he [Zacharias] was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord” (Luke 1:8-9).
Jesus has now become an eternal and even better guarantor of the salvation of sinners. The Lord has completely fulfilled the God-spoken salvation of the water and the Spirit. He has made it possible for everyone to be born again. Aaron’s descendants in the Old Testament were always inadequate and always imperfect. When a priest died, his son succeed the priesthood, but the sacrifices offered by such priests could never make any soul completely born again. No faith based on the Law can ever make anyone forever perfect, as it is written, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4).
However, our Lord came to this earth in the age of the New Testament. And there was no need for the Lord to remit away our sins continuously. That’s because the Lord lives forever. Through His baptism, the Lord forever bore all our sins once and for all, and by giving up His body on the Cross and shedding His blood to death, He has forever perfected from all sins whoever believes in the salvation of the water and the blood fulfilled by the Lord. He has brought salvation to everyone, so that all may be forever saved from every sin once and for all by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And as the Lord is alive even now, He sits at the right hand of the throne of God the Father, and He is guaranteeing our salvation before the Father and advocating on our behalf, saying to the Father, “Father, even though these people are full of shortcomings, they still believe in Me. Did I not bear all their sins through My baptism and blood?” Our Lord is the everlasting High Priest of salvation.
When the earthly priest died, his son was made priest, but this was imperfect and there was no end to sacrificial offerings. In contrast, as our Lord is forever alive, He has fulfilled the everlasting remission of sins by coming to the land of Israel, being baptized, and shedding His blood on the Cross, all to save us from the sins of the world. It’s written, “Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:18). The Lord always guarantees us our salvation of regeneration. What about you then? Have you been born again through Jesus’ gospel Word of the water and the Spirit?
Hebrews 7:26 says, “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens.” Further down it’s also written, “The law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever” (Hebrews 7:28).
What I am trying to say here is that our salvation did not come by the Law, nor is it reached through our own virtuous acts, far less was it achieved by an imperfect man. Instead, the perfect and flawless Jesus accepted all the sins of the world once and for all through His water baptism; He was condemned for all these sins by shedding His blood on the Cross at once in order to make His believers sinless; and we now have this Savior on our side, who is also our heavenly High Priest. Do you then believe in Jesus? It is not through the Law that the Lord has saved us, but it is through His baptism and blood that Jesus has saved us forever from all the sins of the world. Do you believe in this? Whoever believes in this Truth will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned to hell.
True faith is attained by learning the Bible based on the Word of the water and the Spirit. Jesus, who is our everlasting High Priest of the Kingdom of Heaven, has become our eternal Savior through the baptism He received and the blood He shed on the Cross.
The Right Understanding of Faith
My fellow believers, before you believe in Jesus blindly, you must first grasp what is the right way to believe in Him. What does it mean to believe in Jesus spiritually and properly? It means believing in the gospel Word of the baptism of Jesus and of His blood, the Word by which the Lord has saved us from the sins of the world. That is the right way to believe in Jesus. Those who believe 100 percent in the work of the baptism of Jesus and His blood without adding any work of their own are the ones who believe in Jesus correctly and truthfully. How about you then? You all believe in Jesus, but how is your spiritual condition? Even as you believe in Jesus, do you not still trust in your own strength and rely on your own effort, trying to pool your everything together to edify your own faith?
Although I have not led my life of faith for that long, there was a time when I struggled immensely over my legalistic faith for about ten years. It was a bleak and dreary period in my life. Just thinking about it gives me a headache. My wife is here with us, but she also used to be so legalistic that whenever I asked to do anything on the Lord’s Day, she refused me saying that she had to keep the Lord’s Day holy. She didn’t even do the laundry, far less go out to enjoy herself. She put off everything until Monday. Yet in reality, I was even more legalistic than my wife. It really was a huge struggle for me to keep the Lord’s Day. I remember spending so much effort to keep the Lord’s Day holy that instead of resting, I actually became even wearier.
My fellow believers, to believe in Jesus truthfully is to believe in His Word, that Jesus has remitted away all our sins through His baptism and His blood on the Cross. Those who believe that Jesus is both God and Man, and who believe in His work of atonement, His baptism and blood, and everything else He has done for us on this earth—these are the most proper and faithful believers.
What does it mean to believe in Jesus properly then? It means believing in the baptism of Jesus and His blood. How simple and easy is that? If this is what the Lord has said to us, then whenever a pastor preaches to you, all that you have to do is just check to see that what the pastor is preaching is found in the Word of God, and if it is, then just say amen and believe. That is what it means to believe correctly and properly. When the Bible says, “By the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20), you should just say, “Thank You, Lord! I now see that salvation is not reached through my own effort! To this day, I’ve been trying to keep the Law thinking that it is good and must be kept, but now I’ve realized that trying to keep the Law is the wrong faith. I now know that the Law cannot be kept completely! You have given me the Law so that I would recognize my filthy and unclean heart, my flawed acts, and my sins. Thank You, Lord! In my ignorance, I’ve been constantly trying to keep the Law faithfully. Please forgive me for challenging Your perfection. Now I believe that You have blotted out all my sins and saved me by being baptized and shedding Your blood for me.” Like this, you must be honest before Jesus and believe in Him wholeheartedly. You must believe in the written Word of God in its entirety without any reservation. Only then can you be truly born again.
What does it mean to have proper faith in Jesus? Is faith something that you make up along the way? Is it some kind of religion? No, of course not! Religion is something that you have made on your own. It is all about making your own god and edifying your own faith. Making up your own goal and running toward it—this is what religion is all about.
What is faith then? In Chinese, the word “faith” is composed of two characters, one denoting belief, and the other denoting reverence. True faith is all about believing in the work of salvation that Jesus fulfilled on this earth by coming to this earth and being baptized to bear all our sins for our salvation, revering the blood Christ shed on the Cross, and simply accepting this work of salvation into our hearts by faith. That is the real faith. That is what sets faith apart from a mere religion. And your faith is acceptable to God if you can make this distinction clearly.
Today’s legalists who have not been born again teach that one must believe in Jesus and live virtuously. But just because one’s acts are virtuous, does this mean that this person believes in Jesus correctly? Of course, everyone should indeed live virtuously. After all, is there anyone who lives a more upright life than us the righteous? The problem, however, is that it is the sinners that are told to live virtuously. Given the fact that these sinners have not been born again, and there are twelve sins in their hearts, how could they then ever live an upright life? While they may grasp in their heads that they should live virtuously, their hearts are not drawn enough to actually practice this teaching. For such Christian sinners, that they should live virtuously when they step outside the church is little more than a theoretical conjecture, for they all commit sin instinctively.
Therefore, we must make up our minds as to whether we would lead a legalistic life of faith in vain, or reach our salvation by believing in the baptism and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, the everlasting High Priest of salvation who came down from the Kingdom of Heaven. Let us then realize that those who believe in Jesus truthfully have the heavenly High Priest with them; let us be forever saved from all sins by grasping and believing in the baptism of Jesus and His blood that together constitute our true salvation; and let us all lead a true life of faith until we enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Born-again Are Not Afraid of the End of the World
If one believes in Jesus truthfully and his soul has been born again, he will never fear the end of the world. It’s those who have not been born again that are afraid of the end of the world. Many doomsday prophets say that the world will end in such and such dates, but those who have been truly born again preach the gospel of Heaven and live an upright life even in these end times. So long as we spend our remaining days in this world preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit, all that we need to do to prepare for the end of the world is just believe in this gospel Word with our hearts, no matter when our Lord returns. When the Groom comes, all that we have to do is just greet Him, saying to Him, “Lord, I am so glad that You are here! Although I am full of shortcomings, You have saved me out of Your love. Thank You, Lord! I am so sorry and so ashamed of my shortcomings, but You are still my Savior.” Jesus is the Groom of the righteous who have been saved. It’s the Groom who loved His brides first; it’s not because the brides loved the Groom that they got married. Of course, while on this earth this is quite common, when it comes to the heavenly marriage with Jesus, that is never the case. It’s on account of the love of the Groom and His salvation that one gets married to Jesus irrespective of the bride’s flaws. This is the wedding rule of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Just because the bride says to the Groom, “I love you,” the Groom does not say, “I am so touched that you love Me. I, too, love you.” The Groom knows all about the bride. The Groom bore the bride’s sins through His baptism and took her in as His bride by shedding His blood precisely because He had so much compassion for her, and because the object of His love was a sinner, lest she is cast into hell.
Our Lord did not come as a descendant of Aaron under the Law. He did not come to offer a sacrifice by drawing the blood of an animal like the earthly High Priest, nor did He carry out such earthly priesthood. There was no need for our Lord to do such things, since there already were innumerable Levites and descendants of Aaron on this earth to administer earthly sacrifices.
In actuality, the real substance of the sacrificial system of the Old Testament was Jesus Himself. The Bible states that the sacrificial system of the Law is a shadow of the good things to come and is not the very substance (Hebrews 10:1). With the coming of Jesus, the substance of the sacrificial system was revealed on this earth. Would Jesus then follow His shadow? No, the shadow follows the movements of the substance. Does it make any sense for the substance to follow the shadow? That is untenable. When our Lord came to this earth, He did not literally administer any sacrifices in the Sanctuary as Aaron had done. However, Jesus offered His own body to God on behalf of all sinners through His baptism and blood, and on the Cross, He completed the perfect salvation that delivers every sinner from every sin.
My fellow believers, as those who believe in the baptism of Jesus and His blood, our remission of sins is completely assured. There is no question whatsoever that when Jesus came to this earth, He fulfilled His work of salvation for us. If you are not sure of this, you may still wonder about exactly when Jesus saved you, when He blotted out your present sins, when He blotted out your future sins, and when He blotted out your past sins. But our Lord has not saved us in such uncertain terms. He has saved us from all sins definitively beyond all doubts. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and this Lord came to this earth and saved us with absolute certainty, all through His water baptism, blood, death, and resurrection.
The Old Testament Is the Prefigurement of Jesus in the New Testament
The Old Testament is the shadow of the New Testament. Although our Lord’s priesthood was not of the earthly High Priest like Aaron’s descendants, He was entrusted with an even better office as the everlasting High Priest of the Kingdom of Heaven before God the Father. Because no one on this earth can keep the Law, everyone is a sinner, and therefore it is absolutely impossible for anyone to ever be made righteous by keeping this God-given Law. That’s why it was necessary for God to make another demand. Having sent His Son to this earth, God the Father has demanded all the people throughout the whole world to have faith in the salvation of the baptism, blood, death, and resurrection of His Son. And He has set a new law of salvation that whoever believes in His Son’s baptism and blood can be remitted from all his sins without fail. This is the second covenant.
The second covenant demands us to have faith in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit. God no longer demands virtuous acts from us, nor does He demand us to live in a certain pious way, but instead, He is asking us this: “Do you believe that My Son has saved you by being baptized and shedding His blood? Do you believe in the salvation that My Son has accomplished for you by receiving baptism and shedding His blood on the Cross?” All of us must answer that we do indeed believe in this.
In the Bible, the house of Judah refers to the royal tribe. David was of this loyal lineage. The tribe of Judah also represented the people of Israel. The tribe of Levi, on the other hand, was the priestly tribe. And each tribe was entrusted with a particular task. Accordingly, God had promised the house of Judah that Jesus would be born from its tribe. What God promised to the house of Judah was a promise made to the entire human race. Through His baptism, His death on the Cross, and His resurrection, our Lord has completely fulfilled the salvation of all humanity from each and every sin.
Your Sins Are Not Blotted Out by Offering Prayers of Repentance
Jeremiah 17:1 explains where our sins are written, and it states that they are written in two places: “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron; With the point of a diamond it is engraved On the tablet of their heart, And on the horns of your altars.” As the passage shows here, one of the two places where your sins are written is your own heart. That’s how you know that you are a sinner. But you don’t know your sins before you believe in Jesus. That’s because the God-spoken Law is not in your heart. So regardless of whether you believe in Jesus properly or not, once you believe in Him, at least you come to realize that you are a sinner before God the Father and Jesus.
Some Christians take a long time before they see and realize their sinful selves; for some of them, it takes as long as a decade to finally say, “I am a sinner. I thought I had received the remission of sins, but I am still a sinner.” At first, these Christians were rejoiced to believe in Jesus, but after having believed in Jesus for ten years, they end up saying, “Lord, I am a sinner.”
What explains this? It’s because these people have finally come to see their sins and blemishes through the Law of God. Although they believe in Jesus, they have not been born again, and therefore God has written all their sins in the tablets of their hearts. So their sins have not disappeared but remain intact in the tablets of their hearts, and as a result, they have turned into Christian sinners. Only after believing in Jesus for 5, 10 years have they finally come to realize the fact that they are Christian sinners. It has taken them such a long time to recognize their sins, know that they are sinners, and realize that just as they had been sinners before they believed in Jesus, they still remain sinners even after believing in Jesus. This shows just how insensitive man is to sin.
For some Christians, it takes even longer to realize that they are sinners—30 years for some, 50 years for others, and the entire lifetime for still others—and to admit, “Lord, when I didn’t have the Law and Your commandments, I was just fine. But the more I’ve come to know about the Law, the more sinful I’ve become, just like the Apostle Paul said, ‘When the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death’ (Romans 7:8-10). I had every confidence to keep Your Word, but now that I look back at my life, I see that far from observing Your Law, I have sinned every day. Lord, though I believe in You, I’m still a sinner.”
It’s one’s sins that make it impossible for him to live according to the Word of God. Everyone’s sins are all written in his heart. Because God has recorded each and every sin on the tablet of one’s heart, when a Christian sinner calls on the name of the Lord and bows down to pray, his sins spring forth from the heart and his conscience says to him, “Hello there, you’ve committed these sins, haven’t you?”
“I was already remitted from them two years ago.”
“Why do you then still remember them, and why have all these sins sprung forth to bother you like this? When were you remitted from them?”
“What are you talking about? And why do you say such nasty things?”
His conscience then says, “God has written your sins in your heart, and so you can’t deny your sins. You are denying God here. Don’t be so pretentious; you are a sinner.”
“No, I’m not!”
So it is, that a Christian sinner would be compelled to ask God to forgive the sins he committed two years ago, saying to Him, “Lord, please forgive me. Despite my effort, I am tormented by the sins that are written in the tablet of my heart. When I think about what happened two years ago, I am full of regrets, but I can’t change the fact that I had sinned. I don’t like to bring this up again, but I had sinned before You.”
But is any sin remitted away just by offering prayers of repentance with empty words? Without the Truth of the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit, no sin is removed, for everyone’s sins are written in the tablet of the heart with a pen of iron. Therefore, the remission of sins is obtained through the Truth of the Word of the water and the Spirit. And one is saved only if he believes in the baptism of Jesus and His blood that together constitute the true gospel.
Through the Original Gospel, the Lord Has Promised Us to Become Our Savior
Our God made a new promise to the entire human race, saying, “If you believe in Me, I will become your Savior. I will deliver you from the sins of the world to perfection through the water and the blood. Whoever believes in Me, I will clothe him with My grace.” He has given us a new and perfect covenant. Do you believe in this new covenant of God? You are remitted from all your sins and born again by believing in God’s promised Word of Truth with your heart, and by believing in the work of salvation promised and accomplished by Jesus on this earth through His water and blood.
You can’t trust a doctor who can’t diagnose correctly. The diagnosis must be correct for the doctor to give you the right prescription. There are all kinds of wonder drugs nowadays, but you can’t use any of them with confidence if your doctor can’t even make the right diagnosis. So long as your doctor makes the correct diagnosis, there are plenty of drugs to help you. But if your doctor’s diagnosis is wrong, then all you get from your prescription drug is side effects no matter how good the drug is.
Likewise, when it comes to believing in Jesus, it’s absolutely indispensable to have your spiritual condition correctly diagnosed based on the Word of God. When a spiritual physician talks with you and diagnoses you with the Word of Truth, he can easily tell right away what ailments are afflicting you and how you are leading your life of faith. Such spiritual physicians can lead every church member to be born again without any exception. Every member of the congregation is made righteous 100 percent. In contrast, those led by false spiritual physicians do not even know how to receive the remission of sins. This is not the real salvation from sin. If a pastor claims to be a disciple of Jesus, then at least he should be able to address the issue of spiritual regeneration and solve the problem of sin for his congregation. The pastor should then help the congregation to solve their various issues of faith led by the Holy Spirit. Physical ailments should not be the focus of any ministry; if any church member is sick, the pastor should just advise him to see a doctor. But when a church member asks for spiritual counsel, the pastor is obligated to provide the right spiritual diagnosis and discern whether this person is a sinner or a righteous person.
Jesus had come to this earth to blot out the sins of the world, and for this purpose He was baptized and crucified to death. Was this work of salvation then not enough that He would leave your sins intact? No, of course not. He has wiped out all your sins with the gospel work of the water and the Spirit. The gospel is dynamite. Dynamites are so explosive that they can easily obliterate a building without a trace. A nuclear bomb can blow a huge mountain to dust and even incinerate the atmosphere. What Jesus has accomplished on this earth is none other than such a powerful gospel, the gospel of the water and the Spirit. It is dynamite. With this true gospel of the water and the Spirit, Jesus has completely eradicated all the sins of all His believers.
God Promised Us That He Would Never Remember Our Sins and Lawless Deeds Any More
It’s written in Hebrews 8:10-12: “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Amen. Our Lord said here that He would save everyone to perfection, from the least to the greatest.
In the Old Testament, the High Priest entered the Sanctuary once a year. After laying his hands on a goat to pass the people’s sins, the High Priest drew its blood and took it into the Sanctuary of God, and he sprinkled the blood on the mercy seat seven times. This is how the Israelites’ sins were remitted in the Old Testament, and therefore the people of Israel could not ignore the sacrificial system, for its substance had not been manifested yet. However, the Old Testament was abolished once its substance arrived. This doesn’t mean that the Word of the Old Testament was abolished entirely, but it means that the sacrificial system of the Old Testament was made obsolete.
In Israel, people there still slaughter bulls and lambs to seek the remission of their sins. But it’s already been almost 2,000 years since Jesus received the baptism of the remission of sins in the Jordan River and died on the Cross. Nearly 2,000 years have gone by since our Lord solved away all the problems of each and every sin. Did God then somehow set aside the Israelite’s problem of sin and not resolve this problem? No, He has cleansed away all the sins of everyone in this world. Yet despite this, even today the people of Israel are still slaughtering lambs and bulls. At one point in the future, the people of Israel will build the Temple once again in Jerusalem, on where the old Temple used to stand. They will restore their sacrificial system there. Then human history will come to an end.
All the Word of the Old Testament is an analogy to show the real substance of the New Testament. An analogy is used to explain something real by illustrating it with something imagined. For instance, a parable uses a fictional story so that it would be easy for the listener to understand the underlying message.
Through the God-established sacrificial system of the Old Testament, our conscience cannot be made perfect. For the people of the Old Testament to receive of the remission of their sins, they had to bring a lamb, lay their hands on its head, and kill it, but this could not make them perfect forever. What did I say the meaning was of the laying on of hands? It means “to pass on something.”
The word Levi means “unity,” and it implies that for God to be united with us humans, we must be holy. What did the Israelites have to do to be united with God? They had to bring a sacrificial animal and pass their sins to it by laying their hands on its head. And they had to cut its throat, draw its blood, put this blood on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and offer it to God by burning its flesh and fat on the altar in their place. It was on account of the sacrifice of this animal that the Israelites were remitted from their sins. However, through this sacrificial system in which the remission of sins was received by offering a lamb or a goat day after day, the Israelites could not be completely cleansed in their conscience.
Nowadays, no lamb or bull is slaughtered as a sacrificial offering. However, there still are many Christians practicing legalistic faith, which is akin to slaughtering a lamb or a bull. They pray to God, “Lord, please forgive me. I have sinned. Please forgive my sins. I still can’t blot out my sins. They are so tenacious that they simply won’t disappear from my heart. Lord, I beg you to remove all the sins in my heart. I don’t care how You do it so long as You just blot them all out. I have fasted for 20 days trying to remove the sins, but they are still in my heart. Will you remit them away only if I fast for 40 days?”
Many people have died while fasting and praying for 40 days. But can you blot out your heart’s sins just by fasting and praying? No, it’s impossible! No one can completely blot out any of his sins just through such offerings as fasting and praying; one’s own conscience does not allow this. The sins that are in your heart cannot be removed by begging, nor by asking God to burn them all away, but only by believing in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit.
All sins are remitted away only by believing in God’s Word of the water and the Spirit; it’s absolutely impossible for anyone to blot out his heart’s sins by offering prayers of repentance or fasting. No one is capable of this. It is absolutely beyond everyone’s reach. The sacrificial system of the Old Testament and its daily sacrifices were shown to us by God only until it was reformed by Jesus in the New Testament. That is why our Lord said in His written Word, “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:11-12).
To remit away all our sins, Jesus accepted all the sins of the world onto His unblemished body and shouldered them all by being baptized in the Jordan River, and having taken full responsibility for each and every sin, He died on the Cross for us; and He has thereby saved us through His own blood, not the blood of sacrificial goats, bulls, or lambs. Now then, given the fact that Jesus bore all the sins of the world in the Jordan River through His baptism, is there anything in our conscience that prevents us from coming to the presence of God by trusting in Jesus? No, there is nothing that prevents us from approaching God, so long as we truthfully believe in Him. The baptism of Jesus was a necessary step for Him to bear the sins of the world, and His blood was shed as its consequence.
When did Jesus take upon all our sins? He bore them all when He was baptized as the first act of His public life. The very first thing that Jesus did when He began His public ministry on this earth was receiving baptism. As you all know, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, but John had refused at first. It’s written in Mathew 3:13-15: “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’ But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him.” Here, Jesus explained the reason why He was baptized by John the Baptist: “For thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” In other words, it was fitting for John the Baptist to baptize Jesus and for Jesus to receive this baptism, to thus carry out the righteous work of passing all the sins of the world to Jesus. Put differently, Jesus was saying that it was fitting for Him to blot out all our sins justly by being baptized. That is what the passage means here: It was fitting for Jesus to be baptized and thus blot out all our sins justly.
My fellow believers, our Lord came to this earth to make atonement for the sins committed under the Law of the first covenant. In other words, He had come to blot out all the sins that violated the Law. And having come to this earth, our Lord was baptized by John the Baptist and died on the Cross in His believers’ place, to fulfill the promise of everlasting salvation and heavenly blessings to all who are called by Jesus. And He rose from the dead in three days, ascended to Heaven, and is now sitting at the right hand of the throne of the Kingdom of God the Father.
It is written, “For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives” (Hebrews 9:16-17). Every last will is effective only when the person who gave that will is dead. Indeed, even if a father has prepared a will, this has no effect on any of his children so long as he is alive. But once the father is dead, his last will becomes effective for all his surviving children. Likewise, Jesus had promised us that He would come to this earth and save us through His own body, saying, “I will come to save you. I Myself will blot out all your sins with My baptism, My death on the Cross, and My resurrection. I will save you perfectly from all the sins of the world. I will make you My people. Through the water and the Spirit I will deliver you from the evil wiles of the Devil, from death, and from the curses of sin.”
How, then, did the Lord fulfill this promise? To keep this promise, our Lord was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and He was born on this earth incarnated in the flesh of man. That Jesus was born on this earth in human flesh means that the holy God Himself became a Man. Jesus then led a private life for the first 29 years. And the very first thing He did in His public life to save us from the sins of the world was being baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River.
Why was Jesus baptized? It was to bear all our sins and all the sins of the world. Why did Jesus have to die on the Cross then? Because He had shouldered all our sins through His baptism, He had to shed His blood on the Cross to bear all the condemnation of our sins. By doing all these things, as Jesus rose from the dead again in three days and ascended to the right hand of the throne of God the Father, He has saved all who believe in Him.
What does Jesus’ ascension to Heaven mean? It means that having fulfilled all His work of salvation just as He had promised, and having ascended to Heaven, our Lord has completed the new covenant He made to us: He has saved us from all sins through His water, blood, and resurrection. In other words, the Lord’s last will and testament of salvation to save us from the sins of the world are now effective for all of us who believe in the Lord. Salvation from all sins has come to you and me who believe in Jesus.
It’s written in Hebrews 9:22-28: “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another—He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
By the Old Testament’s daily sacrifices offered by man, we could not be perfected, and therefore Jesus Himself came to this earth and personally saved all creatures from the sins of the world through His baptism and blood. Under the Law of the Old Testament, sacrificial animals had to be put to death time after time. Whenever a High Priest died, another High Priest had to be appointed. But now, as the Lord came to this earth to fulfill His new promise to save us personally, He has indeed delivered us from all the sins of the world through His water and blood, thus remitting away all our sins once and for all in a single instance. To make us sinless once and for all, the Lord received baptism on His body from John the Baptist, and to deliver us from the condemnation of sin, He gave up His body on the Cross and was condemned for all sins. That is why Hebrews 9:28 says here that when Jesus appears at the end of the world, “To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
It’s also written, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” Because we were born with sin as Adam’s descendants, we must be put to death, cast into hell, and destroyed. However, once our Lord came to this earth, He bore all the sins of the world committed by us throughout our entire lifetime, whether in our hearts, acts, or thoughts; He was condemned for each and every one of our sins; and He has blotted them all out. In doing so, He has ensured that those of us who believe in this Truth would never be judged, and with His Word of Truth He has enabled us to live forever in the Kingdom of Heaven. That is why our Lord had come to this earth, why He was baptized in the Jordan River, why He had shed His blood on the Cross, and why He had risen from the dead—all to save each and every one of us.
The Primitive Gospel of the Baptism of Jesus
The Bible says in Mathew 3:13-17: “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’ But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” Here, Jesus said that He would fulfill all the righteousness of God by being baptized by John the Baptist.
What exactly does this passage mean? The righteousness of God refers to His justice and love—that is, to His just salvation. Jesus wanted to be baptized to accept all the sins of mankind, and that’s why He said to John the Baptist, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” What does the word “baptism” mean? It is “baptisma” in Greek, and it means to bury, to immerse, to pass on, or to transfer. Recall that in the Old Testament, the people of Israel laid their hands on their sacrificial animals. What is the meaning of the laying on of hands then? Leviticus 1:3 explains that the laying on of hands has the same meaning as baptism—that is, it also means to pass on, to transfer, and to bury.
What had to be done in the Tabernacle of the Old Testament for the Israelites’ sins to be remitted away? No matter how many priests there were and how many people were gathered around, any offering made without a sacrificial animal was completely invalid. Therefore, Jesus is the most important figure for the entire human race and all the sinners of this world. Jesus is the Creator and our Savior, and this God Himself came to the earth incarnated in the flesh of man, accepted all sins by being baptized, sacrificed Himself on the Cross, and thereby became the heavenly High Priest of every sinner.
In the Old Testament, when the sacrifice of the Day of Atonement was offered, the High Priest laid his hands on the head of the sacrificial goat and confessed all the sins of the people of Israel on their behalf, saying, “Lord, the people of Israel have worshipped idols, they have called Your name in vain, they have committed murder and adultery, they have failed to keep the Sabbath Day holy, and they have broken each and every statute of the Law. I now pass all these yearly sins to this sacrificial goat” (Leviticus 16:21). The High Priest then cut the goat’s throat and drew its blood, took this blood into the Most Holy and sprinkled it there, and offered the sacrifice in the presence of God. He then took the remaining goat, laid his hands on its head, and confessed all the Israelites’ sins while they were watching. But this time, instead of cutting the goat’s throat and drawing its blood, the High Priest gave it to a suitable man to be led into the dry, barren wilderness and abandoned there. That is how the people of Israel in the Old Testament were saved from their yearly sins. However, for the people of the New Testament, it is by believing in Jesus as their own Lamb of sacrifice, in His baptism and blood, that they are saved from all sins.
The Meaning of Atonement
Making atonement for one’s sin means passing them all to the Lamb of sacrifice. Because all the sins of the world were passed onto the body of Jesus through His baptism, whoever believes in this Truth of the baptism and blood of Jesus are now sinless. In the Old Testament, the death of the sacrificial goat was the death of the people of Israel, and the suffering of the goat was their suffering. The Israelites’ sins were remitted away in God’s sight because one of the two sacrificial goats was offered to Him. But the Bible says that every sin is written in two places. One is the Book of Judgment, and the other is the tablet of the human heart. The Israelite’s sins written in the Book of Judgment before God were blotted out as the High Priest laid his hands on the head of the sacrificial goat, and its blood was put on the horns of the altar of burnt offering. However, the sins written in the tablet of the heart still remained, and this was resolved by one scapegoat. The word “scapegoat” means “to release.” In a similar vein, God the Father released His Son Jesus into the world to blot out all our sins.
In the Old Testament, when the people of Israel made atonement for their yearly sins on the Day of Atonement, one of the two sacrificial goats, the scapegoat, accepted all the Israelites’ sins and was led by a suitable man far into the wilderness. The people of Israel watched the scapegoat being led into the desert wilderness of Palestine while shouldering all their sins, until they could no longer see the goat anymore. Having accepted the Israelites’ sins through the High Priest’s laying on of hands, this sacrificial goat then perished in a far away place. It was abandoned far away to wander around in the wilderness and die alone. This is what completed the law of God declaring the wages of sin to be death.
In the New Testament also, our Lord solved away the problem of sin in this way. By being baptized and dying, He has removed all our transgressions far from us, as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). The Old Testament is God’s promise, the New Testament is the fulfillment of a new promise, and our Lord fulfilled this promise by being baptized when He came to this earth. As Jesus was baptized, all the sins of mankind were passed onto the body of Jesus. Just as Jesus said, “Thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15), He has indeed fulfilled all the righteousness of God by being baptized by John the Baptist. Through His baptism, by accepting all the sins of mankind, Jesus has saved from all sins everyone who believes in this Truth. This is the sacrifice of atonement that Jesus made for us.
It’s John the Baptist who baptized Jesus in the New Testament. Who was this man that baptized Jesus then? He was a descendant of Aaron the High Priest the Old Testament. To complete and fulfill the prophecy of the Old Testament, Jesus had sent a descendant of Aaron as the earthly High Priest; when Jesus the High Priest of Heaven came to this earth through the Virgin Mary, the earthly High Priest and the heavenly High Priest met each other; and as they worked in unity, all the sins of this world were completely blotted out. The only duty of the earthly High Priest was to pass all his people’s sins to the sacrificial Lamb. He had no other duty but to pass sins.
In contrast, Jesus became our own propitiation Himself, and by offering His body to God the Father and bearing all the sins of mankind and of the world, He solved away the problem of sin. It’s for this purpose that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. And when Jesus said to John the Baptist, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness,” John baptized Jesus and passed all the sins of the world to His head. After thus receiving His baptism to accept all the sins of the world, Jesus lived for three more years on this earth, until He was crucified to death later on.
What do you think was the purpose for which Jesus was baptized? In the Chinese Bible, the word “baptism” is translated into “washing.” Put differently, as Jesus accepted the sins of the world, our sins were washed away. My fellow believers, when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, all our sins were passed onto Jesus, and therefore all the sins of the world were washed away and blotted out from our hearts. Jesus was baptized by immersion, and this immersion signified His death. Put differently, Jesus was put to death and buried precisely because He had accepted our sins, the sins of the world. It’s because Jesus had accepted our sins through His baptism that He had to be put to death. Why did Jesus die on the Cross in our place? He was crucified to death to blot out all the sins of the world, because He had borne them by being baptized in the Jordan River.
The purpose for which Jesus was born as a Man and was baptized at the age of 30 was to bear the sins of the world through His baptism and complete His work of salvation on the Cross. And as Jesus was baptized, died on the Cross, rose from the dead again in three days, bore witness of Himself for 40 days, ascended to Heaven, and now sits at the right hand of the throne of God the Father, He has saved all who believe in this true salvation. Even now, the Lord is alive and sitting at the right hand of the throne, and this Lord has become our own Savior. This is the real Jesus believed by every orthodox Christian. In other words, we believe in the Jesus who has solved away all the problems of our sins with His baptism and blood. Of all human beings, John the Baptist was appointed by God to be their representative, and he passed the sins of the world to Jesus by baptizing Him.
In the Old Testament, when we turn to Joshua 3:14-17, we see the priests bearing the Ark of the Testimony and stepping into the Jordan River when the river was overflowing during the time of harvest. As soon as the priests stepped into the river, the water ceased to flow from upstream and the riverbed turned into dry land. This implies that man’s problem of sin was resolved perfectly at the Jordan River. In this Jordan River, through the baptism that Jesus His Son received, God ended all the sins that Satan had blown into man to torment him and bring death and curses to him. The condemnation of the sins of the world has now ended. Jesus has fulfilled all righteousness through His baptism.
Jesus bore each and every sin. When He had been baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River and came out of the water, God the Father said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The water was up to His waste when Jesus was baptized. What does this water baptism mean? It is the Old Testament’s “laying on of hands.” The Old Testament is the shadow of the New Testament. Jesus is the real substance. And when Jesus was baptized, He accepted all the sins of the entire human race, and it is for this purpose that He went into the water. The baptism here tells us that Jesus bore all our sins, and as Jesus accepted our sins through His baptism, that He went into the water implies His death. Like this, that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist means that He accepted all our sins. Baptism means to transfer, to pass on, to bury, and to immerse. This baptism that Jesus received is what fulfilled all the righteousness of God.
Do you know what “all righteousness” means here? The phrase “all righteousness” is “πάσαν δικαιοσύνην” (pasan dik-ah-yos-oo’-nayn) in Greek, denoting fairness and justice. This means that Jesus has saved us justly by accepting the sins of the world through His baptism. The word “thus” is “οϋτως” (hoo’-tos) in Greek, and it means “in this way,” “no other way but this,” and “most fitting.” In other words, by this method, Jesus Himself bore all ours sins personally by being baptized and blotted out all the sins of mankind justly, not just in words—it means, in short, that the Lord has made us His believers completely sinless. As the Jordan River is the river of death and the wages of sin is death, Jesus could die on the Cross for all the sins of the world because He had accepted all the sins of mankind by being baptized in this river of death. It’s because the Jordan River is the river of death that Jesus was baptized in this river and died on the Cross. And rising from the dead again, He has saved all His believers.
Jesus was baptized to save us justly and lawfully. You have to grasp this when you believe in Jesus. There are so many Christians in Korea and all around the world who believe in Jesus so mistakenly. Most of them say that their own denomination is the best and that their pastor is the greatest, but many of them believe in Jesus without even understanding His baptism. But how is any pastor the greatest? Jesus is the greatest, and His Word of Truth is the best. Can anyone be saved without Jesus’ Word of Truth? No, of course not. A pastor is not qualified as a true pastor just because he graduated from a seminary. Even pastors must receive the remission of sins by believing in the baptism of Jesus and His blood; no pastor is spiritual on his own, for every human being is found lacking before God.
When Jesus came out of the water after accepting all our sins through His baptism, the heavens were opened and God the Father said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” That Jesus went into the water implies His death on the Cross. That He was baptized means that He accepted all our sins. In this way, the Lord has blotted out all our sins. The Bible therefore says, “To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:28).
The second appearance of the Lord here refers to the Second Coming of the Lord as the Judge. It’s called the Second Coming because it’s the Lord’s return. When the Lord came for the first time, He came to save sinners, but when He comes for the second time, He will come to call the righteous and judge the sinners. So the Bible says here that the Lord will come for a second time to those who, apart from sin, eagerly wait for Him.
To deliver the entire human race from sin, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. He was baptized by John in the Jordan River so that every sinner may become a righteous person by believing in Jesus as his Savior God. The baptism that Jesus received in the Jordan River and the blood He shed on the Cross constitute the changed sacrifice of salvation written in the New Testament. Hallelujah! I give all thanks to the Lord for saving us through this changed sacrifice!