Subject 23 : The Epistle to the HEBREWS

[Chapter 11-3] To Live by Faith, We Must Have a Clear Purpose (Hebrews 11:1-12)

To Live by Faith, We Must Have a Clear Purpose
(Hebrews 11:1-12)
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, and was not found, because God had taken him; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child[b] when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.”
A warm greeting to you all! We have just read Hebrews 11:1-12 for this evening’s service. As you all know, this passage speaks about having faith in God. The writer of the Epistles to the Hebrews defined faith succinctly as the following: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). The words, “faith is the substance of things hoped for” means that if we believe God will give us what we hope for, then this will indeed come to pass. That is why our predecessors of faith believed in God wholeheartedly even though He was not visible to their naked eyes.
They believed that God created the whole universe and all its hosts with His Word. This is why they could put all their trust in Him, follow Him, live by faith, and believed unreservedly that He alone was right. That’s why Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain his brother. And by faith Enoch was taken away without seeing death. The Bible says that Abel and Enoch lived a life that was pleasing to God. In the same sense, Noah prepared an ark by faith, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, and in doing so he saved not only himself, but also his whole household. Noah thus became a righteous worker by faith.
When Abraham was called by God, he left his homeland by trusting in God alone, even though he did not know where he was going. Also, Abraham and his heirs lived as journeymen in this world, knowing that they would one day see the Lord face to face. Moreover, Abraham passed down his faith to his descendants, and according to this faith he was embraced in the Lord’s arms. His wife Sarah, who was too old to give birth, also believed that God’s Word was faithful, and on account of this faith, she was blessed to bear as many descendants as the stars in the sky.

What Did Our Forefathers of Faith Believe in?

Our forefathers of faith believed that anything they hoped for would be fulfilled as long as they trusted in God. Their faith, as the Bible describes it, was the substance of things hoped for. If we want to live by trusting in God like our forefathers of the faith, we must have a clear purpose for our faith in our minds. Why is this so necessary? It’s because faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Unfortunately, many Christians are prone to think of faith as something blind, as though God would answer them if they just believed in Him arbitrally without a clear sense of purpose.
In contrast, the true people of faith in the Bible didn’t just believe in God blindly, but rather, they all had a clear purpose for their faith. They knew why they believed in God. For instance, Enoch, a man of faith, made it his purpose in life to please God. He had a clear purpose for his life, that is, to live a godly life in God’s sight; and he lived for this purpose until God took him away. That is why God blessed him not to see death on this earth, and took him away while he was still alive. God did this because He loves those who please Him.
Moreover, because Enoch believed that God would take him away like this, it came to pass exactly according to his faith. Put differently, Enoch had a clear purpose for his faith. Likewise, Abraham’s purpose for his faith was also very clear. When Abraham was called by the Word of God, he was living comfortably in his own homeland. But God said to him:
“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). When Abraham heard this, he obeyed God right away and started walking toward the land God was directing him too, and that became his purpose in life. So he left his homeland, all his memories, and went to the land God had shown him. Abraham did not know where exactly he was going, but he knew that God had prepared a kingdom for him. That’s why he made the Kingdom of God his purpose in life. And with this purpose, Abraham lived a godly life on this earth that was pleasing to God.
There would be no end if I were to bear witness of the lives led by all our forefather of faith in this hour, but let me give you just one more example mentioned in today’s Scripture reading. Sarah, Abraham’s wife, had been barren all her life, even before God appeared before Abraham and told him that He would give him as many descendants as the stars in the sky. Not only was Abraham old but also childless at that time, and his wife Sarah was also too old to conceive a baby. It was biologically impossible for Sarah to bear a child. She had no hope left to bear a baby of her own anymore. She had given up on childbearing, not because she wanted to, but because her body was too old.
However, when God appeared before Abraham and promised him that He would give him a son, Sarah believed in this Word. Genesis chapter 18 tells us what happened when Sarah first heard this promise. God sent his angels to Abraham, and while the angels were speaking with him, Sarah overheard one of the angels saying to Abraham that she would have a son around this time next year. On hearing this, Sarah laughed to herself as it seemed so farfetched. On the one hand, in her flesh, Sarah must have thought what the angel was saying was quite preposterous, but on the other hand, she must also have been very happy to hear this. At any rate, Sarah laughed to herself when she heard that she would have a son. The angel then asked her why she was laughing. Sarah at first denied laughing, but the angel told her that she did laugh, and because of this, her son was to be named Isaac. Eventually, just as God had promised, around the same time the following year Sarah indeed gave birth to a son. Abraham now had an heir, a son of obedience born from his wife Sarah.
Even though Sarah thought she was too old to bear a child, God told her that she could. And in this promise of God Sarah found the strength to conceive, and gave birth to a son. From where did she draw this strength? She drew it from her faith, from the fact that she believed in the faithfulness of God promising her a son. The Bible tells us that true faith is all about trusting in God and His Word. Sarah gave birth to Isaac in time because she believed that whatever God told her would come about without fail.
When God told Abraham to take his son Isaac to Mount Moriah and sacrifice him as a burnt offering, Abraham obeyed. Abraham trusted in God so completely that even if he killed Isaac, he was sure God would still fulfill His promise to give him as many descendants as the stars in the sky. Because Abraham believed in God and His Word so wholeheartedly, he did not hesitate to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering. And just when Abraham was about to kill Isaac, God said to him, “Abraham, Abraham! Do not lay your hand on Isaac, for now I know that you love Me more than your own son. I have prepared a ram to offer instead of your son.”
Abraham, a man of faith, raised countless descendants of faith on this earth who believed in God just like him, all through his faith. That is why you and I are here. As we carry on with our lives of faith, we must all have a clear goalpost for our faith. There must be a purpose for which we believe in God. We need to ask ourselves for what purpose we have lived until now. You and I must yearn to live by having the true faith before God, and we must lead our lives for this godly purpose. If our purpose is good and godly in God’s sight, then He will surely achieve this purpose for us. If we pray for this good purpose and yearn for it, then God will answer us for sure. That’s why it’s so important for all of us to realize that a clear purpose for our lives of faith is absolutely indispensable.
From Abraham to Enoch and Noah, All the People Who Lived by Trusting in God Followed a Clear Purpose
The purpose of their faith was all godly in God’s sight. If their goal was otherwise not godly, then God would have not walked with them, and He would not have provided for their needs or helped them either. God knows all about our hearts and minds. Therefore, we the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit must set a godly goalpost and move toward this post with clarity of purpose. Of course, because we are weak, there are times when we go astray, or when we fall down while striving for our godly goalpost, but God knows all about us.
So, if we truly want to live out our faith before God, we must not only receive the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but we must also set a clear goalpost that’s godly in His sight. And we must pray to God for the fulfillment of this godly purpose that will be pleasing to Him. We must ask God for His help so that our godly goals will be fulfilled, and we must trust in God alone. None other than this is the ultimate goal for everyone who lives by trusting in the righteousness of God. For the righteous, in other words, having faith in the righteousness of God is their purpose in life. That’s because they believe that God will enable them to live like this.
Like Abraham, I also have many, many shortcomings. Despite my failings, I have come to have a clear purpose for my life once I found the righteousness of the Lord and received the remission of my sins. I asked myself, “Now that I’ve received the remission of sins, what should my purpose in life be?” The answer was clear cut. My purpose in life was about defending and spreading faith in the righteousness of God. The first obstacle I faced to achieving this was my poor health. I am not exactly a sturdy type when it comes to health. But it’s only thanks to the strength of God that I’ve been able to live to this day.
By the time I turned 30 years old, my body had already been ruined by my youthful escapades. Young and restless, I had disregarded my health, doing a lot of risky things that were harsh on my body and I pushed it to its physical limits. Still, as long as my youth lasted, I didn’t really pay much attention to my health, as I thought it wasn’t that bad. But once I found the righteousness of the Lord, my health became a top concern to me.
So I prayed to God and asked Him to give me back my health, saying to Him, “Lord, please make me healthy. I have become so fragile these days that I am afraid I will die before completing Your work. While I do not fear death, I fear for Your work. What would happen to Your work if I were to remain so fragile like this, unable to do anything for You? Please give me good health, so that I may carry out Your work.” So, from that moment on keeping myself healthy became one of my goals, not for my own sake, but for the Lord, to serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Once I set this goal, I prayed constantly with this goal in mind. God then helped me and blessed me in various shapes and forms, through doctors, medicine, diet, and so forth. This is the only reason why my health is not as bad as it was before.
It is God who made me healthy according to His time table. Once I decided to do what was pleasing to God, that is, to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit all over the world, I made it one of my goals to be healthy. As a result, I could maintain my health to some extent, at least healthy enough to continue to carry out God’s work. This was all thanks to God, as it was God who restored my health and gave me the strength to carry on. Even today, I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever, that it is God who is blessing me.
Now that you’ve heard me saying that keeping myself healthy is my top priority, you might wonder what kind of selfish purpose this is. This is not for my sake, but for the sake of the Lord. After all, I can’t serve the Lord unless I am in good health, and that’s why I’ve made my health one of my priorities in my prayers. If I were a healthy man without any health issues, something else would have become my goal.
You also must set a goal for your life that would help you preach the righteousness of God. What kind of goal do you think you should have before God? Each of us must set a clear goal for doing God’s work. As a group, the collective of God’s church is spreading the gospel all the over world, while individually, each of us must set a personal goal that would bring us one step closer to reaching this end. Once we do this, we can pray to God by faith and live for the sake of His glory. Since we are not asking God for anything wicked, we know that He will help us without fail and answer our prayers for sure. When we have this kind of unshakable faith, we will see the fulfillment of the Word of God in our lives, which says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” God will make sure that our dreams come true. This is what a godly purpose of faith is all about.
If You Are in Poor Health, You Should Make It Your Priority to Restore Your Health
We have been serving the gospel of the water and the Spirit tirelessly for a very long time, and many of us have seen some deterioration in our health. How do you feel when you face any physical ailment? Don’t you get worried? Not only are we unable to serve the Lord when our health is poor, but we also have a great deal of uncertainty about our futures. So, it’s natural for you to get worried. That is precisely why it’s also important for us to take good care of ourselves to remain healthy.
If we are in poor health, getting back to good health ought to be one of our goals by having faith according to the good guidance of God, and we ought to trust that God will indeed restore our health. All of us must have faith in the righteousness of God, and by this faith we must set a godly purpose for our lives and pray to God for this purpose.
All the People of Faith Were Taught by Their Elders of Faith
Although Moses grew up in Egypt as an adopted son of an Egyptian princess, he was raised by his birth mother and taught by her to have faith in God. From the time he was a tiny baby being breastfed by his mother and through the whole of his childhood, Moses was taught to have faith in God by his mother and constantly heard her saying to him, “You are a Hebrew. You are one of God’s people. God will lift you up and use you as His instrument. The people of Israel have been enslaved in Egypt for 430 years, but through you, God will deliver this nation from Egypt. This is God’s will. I believe in this. So be strong, grow up healthy and sound, study hard, and learn every thing you can. One day, it will all serve you well.”
Like this, even though Moses was the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he still had his birth mother around as his nurse, and she taught him all about faith. Of course, when Moses grew up, his birth mother could no longer be around him, but until then, he was trained in faith even while he was growing up in Pharaoh’s palace as an adopted son of an Egyptian princess. Later on, when Moses turned into a young man, he saw a Hebrew being beaten by an Egyptian, and being consumed with rage upon seeing this, he struck the Egyptian and killed him. Moses buried the dead Egyptian in the sand to hide this murder, but someone saw the whole thing and rumors began to spread around, about how Moses had sided with a Hebrew, beaten an Egyptian to death, and hidden the dead body in the sand. Eventually, the news reached Pharaoh’s ears.
Already, there had been all kinds of rumors about Moses and his loyalty, since it was known that he was a Hebrew. But, no one had dared to speak about it openly because Moses was the adopted son of the daughter of Pharaoh. However, now that Moses had sided with his fellow Hebrew and killed an Egyptian, his loyalty was openly questioned. Pharaoh found Moses’ behavior unacceptable and decided to put him to death, and as a result, Moses fled to the land of Miriam. Why did Moses take such a risk to side with his fellow brethren? Why did he give up his privileged palace life for a harsh, difficult life in a distant foreign land? It’s because he not only knew in his heart that he belonged to the people of God, but he also had a clear purpose for his life, which was to help his fellow people.
This is why even while in exile, Moses was able to continue to obey the will of God. It’s because he believed in God and had a clear purpose for his faith that he could give up all the privileges that he would have inherited as a prince of Egypt. Knowing that he belonged to God’s people, Moses had made it his purpose in life to serve God’s Kingdom, and that’s why he could endure and overcome all the trials and tribulations that followed him. It’s when our purpose is clear that our prayers are made clear, and it’s then that we can pray by faith with earnest.

If Our Purpose in Life Is Clear and Godly in the Lord’s Sight, We Can All Pray to God Earnestly

My fellow believers, all those who lived by their faith in God, lived by the kind of faith that was pleasing to God. Samson was chosen by God even while he was still in the womb of his mother. He was God’s elect. But how was his life? Even though Samson was chosen by God to be Israel’s leader, somewhere along the way he lost his purpose in life and consequently faced a great deal of hardship. Despite the fact that Samson was God’s chosen leader for the people of Israel, he succumbed to his personal weaknesses and failed to fulfill his duty, and the result of this failure was untold suffering for not only Samson but also for the entire people of Israel.
Samson himself was captured by the Philistines and his two eyes were gouged out, while the Israelites suffered oppression under the yoke of the Philistines. Even so, Samson turned around at the last moment and prayed to God while standing in a Philistine temple, “Lord, give me back my strength. Allow me to deliver the people of Israel from the Philistines.” With this prayer, Samson pulled the two pillars of the temple, and the whole temple came tumbling down.
The Scriptures write that Samson killed many more Philistines at this time while dying than while he was alive. As a result of this, the people of Israel were freed from the oppression of the Philistines. Like this, God hears our prayers when our purpose is clear. And when we set our purpose, we must set it to God’s pleasure in congruence with His will, rather than our own private wishes. When we pray to God for His glory like this, God will surely answer our prayers.
Most of you here probably know Brother Seongjing from the Chungju Church. He is the husband of Sister Miae. Brother Seongjin, after leading a life of faith, fell into the temptation of the world awhile ago and ended up leaving the Church. After leaving the Church, he bought a truck and ran a delivery business, but he had a serious accident and lost tens of thousands of dollars as a result. His financial situation got so bad that collectors began calling his home day after day. His mother eventually sold some of her real estate to pay off these creditors.
Even after this, Seongjin turned to his mother whenever he needed money. His mother was so heartbroken and worried that she cried all the time, and couldn’t sleep or eat. Yet, even as she was overwhelmed by grief, she still had a purpose for her faith before God: She yearned for her son to return to the Church, lead a life of faith once again, and to serve the Lord. So, with this purpose in mind, she prayed long and hard. Whenever I met her at one of our spiritual retreats, I would ask her about her son, and she would tell me that not much had changed. She would then ask me to pray for her for son, and we would pray together, holding hands in agreement.
Some of our ministers deplored Brother Seongjin, saying that he was hopeless and we should just give up on him. However, even if no one else believed, his mother believed with all her heart that her son would return to God without fail and resume his life of faith before her time was up. After a few years, Brother Seonjin did in fact show up in the Church. At first, he was just testing the water, but in time, his heart was fully convicted to return to the fold of the Church. He eventually married Sister Miae, a faithful servant of God, and is now living a happy and prosperous life in God’s Church.
This, my fellow believer, is what true faith is all about. If our faith’s purpose is clear, and if this purpose is good in God’s sight, then He will surely listen to our prayers and bless us to achieve that purpose. He will listen to us on account of our faith. This is indeed the case. The same principle applies to God’s Church as well. It’s because God’s Church has a clear purpose that He makes it possible for us to fulfill that purpose.
When God’s Church makes it it’s purpose to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit all over the world; when we yearn for God to achieve this; when we believe that He will accomplish this; and when we pray to Him by faith like this, then we can see God’s work unfolding right before our eyes. And we will continue to see it unfolding. Like this, living by faith in God, is all about setting a clear purpose, that’s pleasing to God, and praying for this purpose. That is how the people of faith lead their lives.

When Our Purpose Is Not Clear, Our Prayers Are Not Earnest

The sick cannot get healed if their own attitude is indifferent. Of course, when we the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit pass away, we will all go to the Kingdom of Heaven. Is anyone here not sure that he will go to Heaven? If you are still unsure whether you will go the Kingdom of Heaven or not when you die, then you and I need to have a serious talk after the worship service, even if it lasts all night long. As mentioned, all of us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit will go to the Kingdom of God sooner or later.
However, if something unfortunate happens to us while we are still on this earth, it will stop us from preaching the gospel. That’s why it’s so important for us to be in good health, diligently carry out our God-given tasks until the day the Lord returns, live by faith, and have a clear purpose for our lives of faith. Its then that God fulfills our purposes. It’s when we have a clear goal that we come to use our faith for this goal and pray to God for it, and God also answers our prayers and blesses us to reach that goal. That’s how we live out faith. And that’s how every man and woman of faith lived.
Just like you, I also need to live a purpose-driven life of faith. There is so much that I have to say about this that I could stand here and talk about this all night long for months on end. After receiving the remission of sin, I left the place of my residence and went to Sokchok. At that time, my personal circumstances were so difficult that I couldn’t even carry out God’s work at all. So I said to God, “Lord, look at me. Look at how miserable I am. Am I not Your servant? Why have You put me in such a difficult situation? You know that I should be busy carrying out Your work, but I can’t do anything now. What am I doing here in Sokcho, a remote fishing town? How can You expect me to adjust to such a small town when I’ve always lived in a big city. What am I doing in this backward place? I can’t even do Your work. I am ashamed of myself. Look at all these stuck-up people looking down on me. How could You drag me to a place like this and ask me to live with such people? It’s embarrassing and shameful!”
However, despite such difficulties, I still looked for God’s will for me. At that time, I was struggling with very difficult circumstances and suffering in both body and spirit. Having ministered at a big church up until then, finding myself in Sokcho made me feel like I had been abandoned completely. I couldn’t understand this on my own, so I looked for God’s will for me. I thought to myself, “I’ve been doing God’s work faithfully until now, so God must have some reason for putting me in this kind of situation.” When I looked for the purpose for which God had sent me to Sokcho, I eventually realized that there was no one preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
While there were many people preaching about the Cross, there wasn’t even a single person preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit. So I said to God, “Lord, is this why You have sent me here, to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit, to the people here? If this is Your will, I will obey. I will preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to these people as You wish.” Like this, I made up my mind before God. I then prayed to God, “Lord, I will preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to all these people just as You want me to. Help me, Lord, so that I may fulfill Your desire.”
My fellow believers, it’s when our purpose is clear that God fulfills this purpose for us. Once I made it my goal to preach the gospel, God gave me everything I needed to reach this goal. When I needed financial resources to preach the gospel, I prayed to God and He gave me these resources; when I needed fellow workers with the growth of God’s Church, I prayed to Him and He sent His workers to me; when I needed even more workers to preach the gospel to the world, I prayed to God, and He gave me even more workers. Like this, once I set a clear goal for my life of faith, whatever I prayed to God, God gave it all to me. That is how faithful our God is.
God hears and answers everything we the righteous pray for to achieve our goal. He is the true God that I have found who was lost. This is the same God found by all the servants in the Bible. Even now, I pray constantly to God with a clear purpose. If we need financial resources, I pray to God to give us all the money we need to spread the gospel. As this world is getting ever more difficult, we need even more financial resources. We can preach the gospel energetically when we ourselves are prosperous and financially secure. Would the gospel of the water and the Spirit be preached successfully if we were just to rely on our hard labor?
Try going from house to house knocking on doors and see if the gospel would be preached in that way. It won’t. It’s much better for us to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit through our literature ministry and make our gospel books freely available to everyone all over the world. Since our books are free to all, whoever wants them can read them. What happens after this is entirely up to that individual. If one is convinced of the truthfulness of the gospel of the water and the Spirit, this person will believe in the gospel; if one is otherwise not convinced, then this person will refuse to believe. For our part, we have done our duty before God.
What comes after this, as noted, is the responsibility of each and every person who hears the gospel from us. If people believe, they will reach their salvation and receive God’s blessings; if they don’t believe, then they will heap curses upon themselves. The will of God will then be fulfilled throughout the earth. We know from our own experiences that when we work like this with a clear purpose for our ministry, God helps us without fail. So let us all set such a clear goal for our lives of faith.
If you are fragile, or sick, make it your goal to become healthy. God will then be with you and open the way to your recovery. When we set a goal for God’s sake, and live with a clear purpose that’s pleasing to Him, God will surely be with us every step of the way, walk with us always, and bless us all. I believe this with all of my heart. I ask you to also believe like this. Set a clear goal for your life of faith, pray to God to help you to achieve it, and trust with all your heart that God will answer you. You will then see all your prayers being answered by God.
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