Subject 13 : The Gospel According to MATTHEW

[Chapter 24-3] Let Us Be Loyal Workers to the End (Matthew 24:3-14)

Let Us Be Loyal Workers to the End
(Matthew 24:3-14)
“Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’ And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.’”
The disciples asked Jesus, “When will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Then, our Lord answered them with a few things. As we read starting from verse 36 to verse 39, our Lord says, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”

Signs That Will Appear at the End of the Age

The Lord spoke few things about the signs that will appear at the end of the age. One of them was that just as people didn’t know about the flood in the days of Noah until the very day, people will not know about the coming of the Lord until the very moment that He comes. They will not be interested in things that will happen in the future. In the days of Noah, people were eating, drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage, and wasn’t aware until the flood came and took them all away. 
Jesus said the coming of the Son of Man would be like that. Right now, the culture of people eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage has developed greatly. At the end of the age, people could perhaps be thinking that this civilized world is a utopia on earth erected by people. Not only were circumstances like this during the days of Noah’s flood, we have it in this day and age also. Things have been developed to a greater extent. Furthermore, we live in an age where people can do anything they wish.
Things such as people eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage become more and more common as the end of the age draws near. Of course things like this have always existed in every human society, and I am not saying that they are bad. But what I am saying is that people are becoming interested only in the desires of the flesh. There isn’t anything that people cannot do these days. We can make airports at sea and create extravagant and beautiful fountains using laser beams and water. If people set their hearts to it, they can enjoy more pleasures than the kings of the past enjoyed.
These days, the food we eat is very diverse. As long as we have money, we can enjoy them all because there are restaurants that serve exotic foods which we never experienced before. Things related to getting married and giving in marriage have flared up greatly. Even though the economy is bad, industries related to getting married and giving in marriage are booming. 
Wedding halls are crowded with callers and congratulators. When we go to wedding ceremonies, the groom and the bride stay in their respective waiting rooms. Instead of walking in the hall when called, they get together at a certain place and appear at the same time riding on a small model train surrounded by stage fog like a king and a queen amidst clapping of hands by guests. We live in an age when people can do what they want when they want. 
Jesus said that the signs of the end of the age would be like the days of Noah. People are engrossed in eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. People’s hearts are fully taken in by things of this world. Human emotions are fully captivated with any media that stimulates them. As a result, the culture has become so hedonistic that people only seek pleasures of eating, drinking, and having sexual relations. 
The disciples asked Jesus, “What will be the sign of the end of the age?” Our Lord told them to take heed to deceptions by people at the end of the age. Then He said, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” He said that nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom and that there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places; but all these are merely the beginning of sorrows.
Wars and rumors of wars as signs at the end of the age refer to a bustling world. It’s been said that about three hundred people died in the recent flood in Mexico. I was wondering how it could have rained so much that such a great number of people died helplessly. It seems that nowadays we often get to witness severe famines and great earthquakes. There are famines in Somalia and North Korea, and earthquakes in Turkey and Taiwan. It has been reported that Russia is attacking Chechnya that was once under its rule. Yet, Chechnya is a small country only 19,000 km2, and a population of about 800,000. But a large country like Russia is coveting this small country which is about 1/1000 its size. This will occur much more in the future. Our Lord has said that nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. 
This passage also says there will be many wars and rumors of wars. South Korea has been under an unstable situation of the cease-fire agreement in 1953. This means that both Koreas can violate the truce at any time and wage war against each other. However, South Korea has been able to maintain peace so far. This is only because God has protected this country out of His love for the righteous people of South Korea. I cannot thank God enough that He has protected this country whenever it was faced with a crisis, and allowing us to preach the gospel ceaselessly. 

The Sorrows Have Now Begun All over the World

“All these are the beginning of sorrows.” The sorrows have now begun all over the world. It is said, “There will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” These are natural disasters, and are things that are allowed by God. They aren’t things that God does intentionally. Our Lord already knows that these things will occur. Human beings do not know what will happen in the future, but our omniscient God knows each and every thing.
The Lord said that there would be famines and earthquakes. What do you think will happen to you when the famines and earthquakes occur in this world? This current era is the beginning of sorrows. Do you think people can live when there are earthquakes and famines? When a strong earthquake happens, everyone will die. There was an earthquake registering 7 on the Richter scale in Taiwan, but the people of Taiwan weren’t even surprised. To them, the death of a few thousand people seemed commonplace. Because earthquakes of 5 in magnitude occur there frequently, they seem completely unconcerned. What would happen if it were we? If the fluorescent lights sway back and forth, and bookcases fall while we are worshiping, all of you saints would flee. The Taiwanese people would all run too, but they wouldn’t get seized by fear or make a great commotion like we would. They are quite different than we are.
Nevertheless, some countries will disappear because of earthquakes. Consider for a moment that there was a strong earthquake in Korea. If an earthquake of 7 in magnitude occurred in Korea, it would probably be a threat to our existence. Not only will the economy crumble, more than half the population will die, and the country itself may disappear. Of course, this is just my speculation.
“All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8). When the people only seek eating, drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage, when the culture becomes lavish like that of the days of Noah’s Flood, it would be the end of the age. This is when the earthquakes and famines will occur frequently, and pestilences will arise just as wars will frequently occur here and there in this world. At present, there is a worldwide alert over avian flu. Originally, it was a viral ailment that spread only among birds, but through mutation, it became a fatal disease that can be transmitted to humans. A certain pathologist predicted that approximately 150 million people could die from this disease. Also, what about SARS? It is widely known that AIDS and Ebola virus are encroaching upon Africa and the civilized world. 
This current age has become the beginning of sorrows. Our Lord said that, at the end of the age, the love of many will grow cold because lawlessness will abound. There are just too many people who have given up being a human being. There are many atrocious people in this world. Just as He said that love will grow cold, love truly has grown cold. In this age, there isn’t much love. There isn’t any love between those living upstairs and downstairs. There isn’t any interest even between next-door neighbors and we don’t even know whether someone has move in or moved out. It has become so cold and indifferent that the corpse of a neighboring elderly person living alone was rotting inside a house, and wasn’t discovered for 5 months. 
Long ago, when we moved into a new neighborhood, we used to pass out rice cakes to neighbors. In Korea, people used to share rice cakes with their neighbors when they were celebrating their birthday. But with the acceleration of urbanization, beautiful customs like this have faded away. There still are those who pass out red-bean covered steamed rice cakes wrapped in aluminum foil. Usually, it’s a new store opening up that passes out rice cakes. Love has grown cold in our society as well.

At the End of the Age, Love Will Grow Cold

Love has grown cold for me as well. In the past, I used to set aside some leftovers because I wanted to give them to panhandlers. But now, I am busy chasing them out. When I was young, there frequently wasn’t any rice in the rice bin. So my parents never let me eat rice without permission. They told me that if I ever eat rice in secret, they would die. In spite of this, there was just little rice left. Since children were stealing and eating the rice as treats, it was sort of a preventive measure to protect the rice from disappearing. 
Nevertheless, when a beggar came, my parents would give a little of what rice they had left in the rice bin even though it was nearly empty. Even though they could not even make and eat porridge, they did not send away monks or beggars coming and asking for a penny. I think it was because the idea of encouraging good and punishing evil was instilled in Korean culture. This value system is well shown in old Korean stories such as “Heungbu and Nolbu,” a story of a kind-hearted brother and his older wicked-hearted brother. “Kongjui and Patjui,” is the story of a good orphan girl and her vicious step-sister.
Long ago, there lived two brothers named Heungbu and Nolbu. The elder of the two, Nolbu, was a very wealthy but evil man. He was greedy and perverse. However, the younger brother, Heungbu, although very poor, was a very kind man. Nolbu was so greedy that no matter how hunger-stricken his brother Heungbu was, he never helped him. One day, a baby swallow fell off from its nest under the roof and broke its leg. Heungbu treated the leg and took care of it. Swallows leave when the weather grows cold, but the swallow returned to Heungbu’s house the next spring. Thankful to Heungbu, the swallow brought a gourd seed in its mouth and gave it to Heungbu in return for his kindness. Heungbu planted it in the ground. Soon the gourds grew and Heungbu opened it. Gold and silver, along with jewels poured out from the gourd. So he and his family began living in a house that was like a great palace. 
When Nolbu saw this, he became greedy. He took a healthy swallow, broke its leg, and treated it. That swallow, also came back the next spring carrying a gourd seed in its mouth. Overjoyed, Nolbu planted the seed, and waited for it to grow. As soon as gourds grew, he sawed it open with a great expectation. Just then, villainous demons and goblins jumped out and tormented Nolbu. Thus, it is said that Nolbu was ruined. 
Because there were moral principles, people used to hand out a bucket of rice and whatever else was needed to those suffering hardship. Whether or not everyone did this, people’s hearts were good and generous. As a result, those begging for pennies on top of an overhead bridge in a city, and children living in orphanages, all ate well. It was because people had given them all their money despite having almost nothing themselves. Children in orphanages went around in fine shoes and suits while children who had a family went around in padded trousers handed down from their elder brothers. Notwithstanding, people’s hearts were truly good back then. 
With the passing of time however, people’s hearts have become wicked, and the world has become a place without any joy of life. At times when we see people, many of them make us think instinctively, ‘Alas! That is a human being? Oh! I truly don’t want be with that man. I want to leave his side.’ In most instances, those who are rich are like that. Truly this is an age when kindheartedness has evaporated, as well as our humanity. 
In this day and age, love has grown very cold. It is said that those who endure to the end shall be saved. It is also said “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). You must pay attention to this. When the gospel is preached all over the world, the end will come. 
Therefore, we must surely exert all of our efforts to spreading the gospel. This year, because the advertising didn’t go very well, and because there were many insufficiencies in our preparation, our books barely got shared in the United States. I have the faith however, that there will be more sales of our books, continued work by the servants of God, and more Churches starting next year. 
Right now, our books are up for sale on large on-line bookstores such as, and Ingram. When our books become widely known, all those who want them will be able to do so. We have secured not only Korea but also a much greater market. In the United States, there are over 50 states, many of which are larger than Korea. Our books have already entered the English speaking regions of the world, and they will enter the Chinese speaking regions as well. Along with Japan, the gospel will now be spread to small countries in Asia, as well as those in Europe. 
“This gospel of the kingdom” refers to the gospel of the water and the Spirit that we possess. It will take only a few years for this gospel to be spread throughout the world. We have started it with much difficulty, but we have managed to secure a stronghold now. And as soon as it gets firmly established, the gospel will quickly spread, even though it may not seem like it. 
During the days of the Apostle Paul, this gospel was spread by people going to places themselves, gathering up people, and then preaching in a loud voice. But with advancements in technology and transportation, we are able to preach the gospel more effectively through literature ministries. I can preach on a certain subject as much as I want in a single volume of a book. It has also become an age when the entire world is able to share and read if one were to publish a single volume of a book written in English. In this way, the gospel will spread throughout the world very quickly. These times are good. So much so that the gospel can be spread through books, the Internet, and radio and television broadcasts. So, it doesn’t take long to spread the gospel throughout the world.
The Gospel of the Water and the Spirit Will Be Preached All over the World, And then the End Will Come
The end will come when this gospel gets spread all over the world. That “the end will come” means that the tribulation will come and that everything will be realized as it is written in the Word of God. How much time is there left? There surely isn’t much time left. How many years will it take? As of right now, it has entered the United States. (Editor’s note: This sermon was preached in 1999 when we started distributing our books all over the world.) Because it has entered the United States, it will also be entering English-speaking regions all over the world very soon. Of course we speak only those countries that we know of, but there so many other countries that we don’t even know about? There are many countries that we don’t even know the names of, but it will be all done within a few years. Even though we are speaking of the entire world, I believe that it will be done soon. Of course the world is large, and there are so many things to do, but it isn’t so large that we cannot get it done. There are so many things to do, but nevertheless, I don’t think it will take too many years. With just few more years of preaching, we will be finished spreading the true gospel.
I believe what the Word teaches. That is, when the gospel is preached all over the world, the end of the world will come. We must believe that right now is the beginning of sorrows and the last days. However, we must spread the gospel by living out our life to its fullest. We must also gather together our strength and serve the gospel. Each of you has to personally deliver the gospel to those living near you, or by giving them our books. We must all take an interest in spreading the gospel all over the world. We must consider it our life’s goal by uniting our bodies and hearts together. 
My friends, the work that we do may seem very small, but there is good news, because the Internet bookstores in the United States have begun selling our books. As you well know, the pursuit of profits is not the aim of these Internet sales. We just want to distribute our books more widely through whatever means available. Soon, the second book in English will be published. Volume 2 is much better than volume 1. In volume 2, debates over the gospel are discussed, and it is filled with much more contents than volume 1. Surely it will bring forth better results. Keep in mind that it doesn’t take much time to spread the gospel all over the world. 
We must also keep in mind that the current times are like the days of Noah’s flood. Even though we get married, give in marriage, and do all these other things, one thing that the righteous have to keep in mind and never let go from the heart is the fact that the current times are the end of the age. We must remind ourselves of this everyday. As you watch television, you are able to see how times are changing and things are happening in Korea. Not only Korea, but the entire world is entering into an age of sorrow I am saying that we must feel and believe that right now is an age like the days of Noah’s flood. We must believe that when the gospel is preached all over the world, the end will come.
We must realize and believe it, and live as if it will happen today. We must go on living with the awareness that there isn’t much time left for this world. God says that, in the days of Noah, people just went on marrying, giving in marriage, and so on, not knowing or caring, until the flood comes and destruction sets upon them. Right now, only the born-again know what sort of times this is. Others simply do not know it. They tend to think that earthquakes are just some natural phenomenon that occur and will continue to occur in the future. Mankind will continue to exist. Those who eat well and are rich will continue to lead a good life. Those who are destined for death will die out. All in all, they think that mankind will continue to live well because science has continued to flourish, and that the future will be a utopia. 
As Long as One Has Money, This World Is Good and Well Worth Living
There was a time when I felt this way. The feeling I had was as long as you had money, this world was good and life was worth living. Because what I felt wasn’t something particularly great, you need not expect too much from it. Please hear me, because people can perceive a trivial thing as something of great importance. 
When you go to a market operated by the Agricultural Co-operative, you will see them selling lots of natural teas and other things. As I was passing one near by, I went inside. There were so many marvelous things. I bought a bag of tea there, boiled some water, and tasted it. It was Schisandra tea. 
When I was young, I had lived in Busan. Near our neighborhood was a Schisandra tree. The red colored Schisandra fruit it bore looked so tasteful. As I think back, I remember that we had planted some Schisandra trees near the fence. We gathered up the fruit and dried them for quite some time so we could drink the Schisandra tea. It was hard work that put a strain on ones nerves. This type of work took a lot of devotion. But here I was able to buy a bag full of them in just a few seconds with a small amount of money. As I boiled some water and placed the fruit in, it became that beautifully colored Schisandra tea. Wow! As long as I have money, this makes the world well worth living.
Because of this, I am able to understand a little about the mindset of those who have money and do not believe that destruction is coming. As I was drinking the Schisandra tea that I had made, I was thinking that the world is so convenient as long as one has money. I thought that those who have money are so well off in their lifestyle, that they would truly fear the early coming of the Lord. Actually, at one time, there actually were those who were afraid that the Lord would come early. There were elders and deacons who would say, “You mustn’t come yet.” Because this world was so comfortable and good, and because there was sin in their hearts, they didn’t want Him coming early. It is said that there were actual instances of people wishing that the Lord wouldn’t come because it would be too distressing not having time to enjoy the good life.
This world is truly good. I am able to buy and drink this tea, which is so difficult to make, just by paying money! How much comfort would those who are wealthy feel? As long as one has money, he can wear a coat made of alligator skin. Think about catching an alligator, drying its skin, having it processed chemically, and then making a coat out of its skin. If you were to chase an alligator all your life, you would never be able to wear clothes made of its skin. You would probably have a broken arm and a severed leg trying to catch an alligator. Yet, if you pay a certain amount of money, you can wear a coat made of alligator skin in no time. Likewise, someone who is scared to death just looking at a leopard can wear a leopard skin coat by paying money. This world is good as long as you have money.
Not too long ago the wife of a former minister of Korea disgraced her husband by accepting a coat like this as a present. I thought to myself, “Everything is possible in this world as long as one has money.” People are so deeply intoxicated by the world that they do not know whether or not Jesus has saved them, whether or not the tribulation is coming, and whether or not the sorrows are coming. Not only do they not know, they don’t care. They don’t care whether or not there is Heaven, whether or not they are righteous, and whether or not there is such a thing as sin being blotted away. We are currently living in an age like that.
Instead of Living Immersed in the Things of the World, We Must Recognize the Current Times Properly
It is said that when the gospel is preached all over the world, the end will come. Because we are living in these times, we are spreading the gospel right now. The born-again can go on living, chasing after worldly things, having fallen deep into them. But we must be able to recognize the current times. If we were to go on living immersed in the things of the world, turning our backs on God, the Lord’s Church, and the spreading of the gospel, we would be standing in the ranks of the dead, just as the people who suffered death during the days of Noah’s flood.
You will suffer tribulation if you fall into worldly things and not serve the gospel in this age. Lot, Abraham’s nephew, suffered judgment because he lived in Sodom and Gomorrah. He suffered tribulation, unable to save a single piece of the fortune he possessed. His wife became a pillar of salt. Because he slept with his daughters without knowing, he became the ancestor of the Gentile nations, the Moabites and the Ammonites, who stood against the people of God. 
The Lord will renew our hearts once more through the tribulation, and then take us up to His Kingdom. We might meet the Lord, after suffering martyrdom. I think that would be fine, too. We might die with our limbs tied up and then hacked into pieces after having lived for the Lord. The born-again will suffer the utmost atrocities. We will either die by execution or be led into an intense temptation. But if we were to overcome it victoriously by faith, even though we might suffer torture and a horrendous death, the victory will be something most joyous. 
No matter how severe the torture, those who believe in the gospel will not be able to deny it. Although they might want to say that they do not believe, inside of them, the Holy Spirit says, “Hey! Do not say useless words. Right now you are a child of God and are destined to go to Heaven. But will you still deny Me? Then, I shall deny you also.” They will not be able to betray the Lord or the gospel. Even if the words are about to spill out of their mouths, the Holy Spirit restrains them from betraying the gospel.
Dear fellow believers, we can get addicted to this world with the slightest slip. Whether we would admit it or not, our hearts are partially immersed in the world right now. Wherever we go, we are in danger of getting addicted to things of this world. As for our hearts, we live with them set straight. We are able to live out our faith because we have the desire to spread the gospel all over the world as our life’s purpose. Having this purpose in mind, we are able to keep our faith. If we had no such purpose, we would have slipped and fallen. 
If we were to preach the gospel only in Korea, we could do that in one year. Korea will not take even a day’s worth of work. Preaching the gospel to all the people in Korea can be done in just one day. It will be spread completely if we were to supply our books to each and every bookstore, run a full double-page advertisement in all the newspapers, and advertise on the air. When the gospel is introduced like this, those who do not need the gospel will not buy our books. For those who do need it, they cannot help but purchase our books. If we work like that just for one day, the gospel will be spread to the entire country within a few days, even if we were to leave it alone.
Fellow believers, we are able to go on living because we go on living with the spreading the gospel all over the world. When the Lord was alive, He said the following, “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing” (Matthew 24:45-46), and then said, “But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites” (Matthew 24:48-51). It is said that if one were hypocritical and did not follow the Truth, just like the Pharisees, they would be thrown into hell. Just as the Pharisees were masters of pretending to abide by the Law, as well as being hypocrites, these people would be appointed their portion with the hypocrites. Our Lord said this.
Let Us Brace Ourselves up, and Go to God after Having Served the Gospel
I hope for you to brace yourself. You must brace yourself on your own and make the goal clear. Our goal is to go on living by faith with what time there is left. Even though the times are like this, and whatever your circumstances may be, you must go on living by faith without worrying. No matter what the situation, you must never leave the Church. Whatever happens, you must go on living serving the gospel, and taking care of each other with one heart and one mind. You must never be leave the Church, and you must never give up on spreading the gospel all over the world. It is absolutely certain that we are the ones who have to carry out this task. 
Dear believers, there will be more disasters in the future. Even though there will be more disasters and difficulties ahead of us, we will not wait for the calamities just by sitting around. Regardless of when that day should come, we must think about the work that we must do. We must plan the work carry it out quickly. When the day comes when there will be sorrows and tribulations, nation rising against nation and people all over the world capturing and killing the righteous, what happens to us? We could suffer martyrdom and go to the Lord’s Kingdom. Or, like the church in Philadelphia mentioned in the Book of Revelation we could escape the tribulation. We could live as members of the Church and as saints, and get to meet the Lord. It is either of the two. 
Whatever the case, martyrdom or tribulation isn’t something that we can avoid. In either case, I wish myself good fortune and the same to you all as well. Should the Lord not call us quickly, we could go to the Lord quickly by courageously embracing martyrdom. Or, we could taste the rapture by having endured to the end without suffering death. If we serve the gospel and live for it to the end, I believe the Lord will grant us grace.
We are currently living in an age like that of Noah. Let us gather our thoughts, spread the gospel, carry out the work that we must do, and then depart. The Lord will decide the day and the time for Him to come. As for the tribulation and the rapture, they are up to the authority of the Lord. What we must do as the time draws near is the work of spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom all throughout the world. The Lord will come when we complete the goal of preaching of the gospel of the water and the Spirit all over the world. If the Lord were to take us away in the midst of the tribulation, we will be taken away by embracing martyrdom. But if He were to consider us as the faithful saints, like those of the Church of Philadelphia, we will be raptured, not having to taste death.
In my heart, I wish that I could be transformed suddenly like Elijah and Enoch. I hope that my body will be raptured, instead of having to suffer the tribulation and death. Do you wish like that also? We live in an age when we must consider the Word regarding the end of the age seriously. It isn’t an age that we should joke about, or think that it is a long way off. The Word itself says that.
This world has almost reached its end. But nevertheless, should we live just a few more years, ten years, or a hundred years, I hope that we will get to meet the Lord after having done our best in the works that we are entrusted with and having used up our everything in the spreading of the gospel. I wish for you to become a blessed people.
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