< Galatians 4:12-31 >
�Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all. You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first. And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me. Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth? They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them. But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you. My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone; for I have doubts about you. Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar—for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children—but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written:
�Rejoice, O barren,
You who do not bear!
Break forth and shout,
You who are not in labor!
For the desolate has many more children
Than she who has a husband.?
Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? �Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.?So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.?/b>
Terms such as �indigenization of Christianity?or �indigenized church?seem to have become quite popular, especially among the Third World Christian communities. They try to change the Westernized Christianity into one that is more consistent with their own culture. They lay great emphasis on the second clause of the traditional aphorism: �Unity in essentials, liberty in non-essentials and charity in all things.? But the most unfortunate thing is that they don�t even know what the essentials are.
However, the gospel of the water and the Spirit spread by us cannot be manifested in different forms and contents under different circumstances, but it is unchangeable under any circumstances. I am truly thankful to God that I am able to preach to you the gospel of the water and the Spirit that can save you from all your sins under any circumstances. So, I am willing to do this righteous work until the very day our Lord returns. I believe that many souls will be freed from all their sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. I know that this book will genuinely be beneficial to you.
Today�s Scripture passage from Galatians 4:12-31 admonishes us to live by faith in the Truth of the water and the Spirit that the Lord has given to us. The Apostle Paul had absolutely no desire to harm any saints. Of course, the saints in the churches of Galatia had no wish to hurt Paul either. However, from the saints of the Galatian churches, the Apostle Paul heard of defective, false faith. This was the faith of those who, steeped in old traditions, still advocated circumcision in the flesh. The Apostle Paul then began to testify to the saints in the churches of Galatia what false faith was, and what the true gospel actually taught. He was saying to them, �You are zealous, but for no good. If you continue to wish to remain under the Law like this, then I am compelled to doubt your salvation.?
During the period when Paul was preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit, there were false teachers who advocated physical circumcision. They also considered it important to honor the Sabbath and to keep the festivities of the Old Testament. They had secretly come into God�s Church, professing to believe in Jesus as their Savior. But in fact, they sought to nullify the liberty of the saints and to enslave them as their own servants. These physical circumcisionists tried to exploit the saints in God�s Church to further their own ends. And what was worse was that there were many in the Church who sided with their faith.
Such a belief was a great obstacle to believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. This was the problem festering in the early churches of Galatia. Those who caused this problem ignored the gospel of the water and the Spirit. They forced the saints in God�s Church to be aimlessly circumcised. Because of them, therefore, the saints of the churches in Galatia came to fall into spiritual confusion. While it was problematic that there were those who advocated physical circumcision in the Galatian churches, even more problematic was that there were those who followed such false teachings. The Apostle Paul knew that the circumcisionists?faith would bring disastrous consequences of spiritual death, thus he tried to prevent such false teachings from spreading. That was why the Apostle Paul severely rebuked the beliefs of those who advocated physical circumcision.
The saints of the Galatian churches believed that Jesus blotted out their sins with the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit. Yet even so, they still tried to keep the Sabbath from the sunset on Friday to the sundown on Saturday, and were unable to cast aside their old beliefs in physical circumcision. These false brethren secretly came into God�s Church and propagated the necessity of physical circumcision to the saints. As such, their faith was spiritually threatened.
We Are Born of the Freewoman, for We Believe in the Gospel of the Water and the Spirit
Let us turn to what the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 4:21-31: �Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar—for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children—but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written:
�Rejoice, O barren,
You who do not bear!
Break forth and shout,
You who are not in labor!
For the desolate has many more children
Than she who has a husband.?/i>
�Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children Than she who has a husband.?Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? �Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.? So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.?/i>
This passage speaks about the true faith that believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and about legalistic faith. In other words, Paul is explaining these two types of faith with the two sons of Abraham. To understand this passage, we need to return to the old age, to the days of Abraham.
When Abraham turned 75, he left his homeland where his father�s house was, and followed God according to His guidance. One day, God appeared before Abraham and said to him, �I will give you as many descendants as the stars in the sky.?Abraham believed in God�s Word. He believed in this because it was God�s Word.
God not only promised countless descendants to Abraham, but He also promised that whoever was circumcised would be approved as God�s people. So Abraham and his male descendants were all circumcised in the flesh. When God told Abraham to be circumcised in the flesh, He set this law of circumcision as the guarantee of His promise, for Abraham believed in the Word of God that He would give him as many descendants as the stars. The reason why God said that whoever was circumcised would be approved as someone who had the same faith as that of Abraham was also because of the fact that Abraham believed in God�s Word. This was why God told Abraham that those who were circumcised in the flesh would be His own people.
��?So, Abraham waited for a child. But no matter how much he believed and how long he waited, there were no news, and Abraham and Sarah became weary of believing in God�s promise. Twenty years passed by since God first promised to give them a child. Sarah, Abraham�s wife, got increasingly worrisome as her hair slowly turned gray and God�s promise seemed to be drifting further away from her. So she came up with a scheme. She brought and gave her maidservant Hagar to her husband, saying, �God promised to give you a child, but I guess it�s not through me but through Hagar.?/p>
By allowing Hagar into Abraham�s embrace, Sarah hoped that Hagar would bear a child for him. As Sarah planned, her maidservant Hagar bore Abraham a son. Sarah thought that this was how God�s promise was to be fulfilled, but in reality, this was not the case. The son of Hagar was not of God�s promise, and there was no way that God would approve the baby born of a human plan. Therefore, God�s promise was still alive, for He had clearly promised Abraham a child born through Sarah.
Later on, Abraham eventually got his son Isaac through Sarah, just as God had promised. When this child turned a year old, Abraham held a great feast to celebrate.
Through the example of Abraham�s two sons, God is speaking to us about the different kinds of faith; a legalistic faith and faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. This account of Abraham�s two sons provides a metaphor for understanding God�s two covenants and the two types of faith as well.
God is telling us that Ishmael, born of a bondservant, is the symbol of legalistic faith. Because Ishmael, a son of Abraham, was a child born through the flesh of Hagar, he became a symbol of legalistic faith. Isaac, another son of Abraham, was born by believing in God�s Word, so this son refers to faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Today�s legalistic faith is a carnal faith akin to Ishmael. Faith in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit, on the other hand, is the true faith that is manifested through the son of the free, that is, Sarah�s child Isaac. On this earth, legalistic faith and the true faith that believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit still coexist.
Now, we have to examine the relationship between the true spiritual faith and the legalistic faith in deeper perspective. We must realize that Isaac, born through faith in God�s Word, was different from Ishmael, who symbolizes the legalistic faith received through man-made efforts and plans. In other words, though Isaac and Ishmael were both Abraham�s children, spiritually speaking, one shows us legalistic faith, and the other shows us spiritually true faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Therefore, what we need to realize is that legalistic faith is an action-oriented faith, whereas spiritual faith is the faith of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. In other words, our faith is based on God�s Word of promise. Since only the children born through faith in God�s Word of promise are the true fruits of faith, in God�s Church, there must be no other coexisting faith. Just as God cast out Ishmael, the son born through legalistic faith, we must also drive out the legalistic faith from within us. The Apostle Paul is asking us whether we would live our lives of faith legalistically or spiritually.
The Apostle Paul said that just as Ishmael had persecuted Isaac at that time, the children of the bondswoman persecuted the children of faith born of the freewoman. This refers to the incident when Sarah held a feast to celebrate Isaac�s first birthday. Isaac�s older brother, then 15 years old, hit and tormented him and since Ishmael was much older, it was easy for him to hit and harass his younger brother Isaac, who was barely a year old.
Comparatively speaking, even in today�s world, those with legalistic faith torment the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and will continue to persecute the born-again saints. But what they are doing is bringing God�s condemnation on themselves. Had Isaac been born from the womb of the same mother as Ishmael, would Ishmael have persecuted Isaac? Ishmael was angry because Isaac, his half brother, was blessed and loved by his father. Ishmael had grown up thinking that he would inherit all of his father�s wealth, but when his half brother was born, everything suddenly changed. Ishmael realized that he was in no position to inherit his father�s wealth, since his brother�s mother was the lawful wife and his mother was no more than one of her maidservants. This was why he persecuted Isaac.
Sarah, Isaac�s mother, saw this and got angry. So she told her husband Abraham about it. Abraham was then troubled by the whole affair, but God ordered him to cast out the maidservant and Ishmael from his house. So Abraham hurled Hagar and Ishmael out into the desert with only a skin of water and some bread.
Right now, through the Word of the Old Testament, God is telling us which of the two faiths is the true one: The legalistic faith is false and the faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit is the real faith. God told us that to be saved from all our sins, it is only proper for us to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, rather than to live by the Law in vain. Living our lives of faith by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit allows us to inherit all the blessings of God, since it is impossible for us to attain our true salvation through a legalistic faith. It is because we believe in the Word of God with our hearts that we can be saved from all our sins, receive everlasting life, and serve Him by placing our faith in His Word.
Only when our hearts are remitted from all our sins by faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the Word of God, can we truly become His children. Just as Abraham got his son by believing in God�s Word of promise, we, too, must become God�s true children by receiving the remission of sin through our faith in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit.
God is also telling us what kind of faith we must have once we receive the remission of our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. It is completely different to live our lives of faith based on legalistic beliefs rather than placing our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. How, then, are these two faiths totally different?
Let Us Examine the Legalistic Faith First
I regard God�s servants, and our brothers and sisters in our mission as those who have faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. By believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we have received the remission of sins into our hearts and follow the Lord. Because we believe that everything will be fulfilled according to our faith in the Word of God, we can serve the true gospel and follow Him by faith.
In contrast, a legalistic faith is something that carnally ambitious people have. There are those who think, �I may be weak right now, but once I gain enough strength and followers, I will go on my independent way and do God�s work on my own.?These are the people who have carnal dreams, wondering, �Must I live in this way, now that I have received the remission of my sins??They are so different from God�s servants who believe in His Word and have made up their minds to serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit for the rest of their lives.
Lives of Spiritual Faith
Those with spiritual faith believe that it is only right for them to devote all their strengths to serving the Lord and spreading the gospel of the water and the Spirit, no matter what their circumstances might be. However, there are those who do not have this kind of faith, and instead, try to achieve something carnal on their own, unable to cast aside their own glory of the flesh. They live legalistic lives of faith right now. We can see that such people will resort to sectarianism in no time, as soon as there are opportunities, and they gain enough power just as the circumcisionists of Paul�s days did. As such, if the brothers and sisters who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit fall back to legalistic faith once again, this will constitute as a grave sin before God. You ought to realize just how ferociously those with legalistic faith are standing against the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
You and I must live our lives of faith by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We must live our lives of faith not based on legalistic beliefs, but based on our faith in the true gospel. Since our Lord Himself said that the gospel of the water and the Spirit must be spread throughout the whole world, we ought to believe in this Word, dedicate ourselves even more to the spreading of the gospel Truth. This is the proper life of faith for all of us. Because the Lord said that He would return to this earth when we complete spreading the gospel of the water and the Spirit to all nations, without any hesitation, we should first live for His Kingdom and His righteousness until the day He returns.
It is a joy for us to live for the gospel of the water and the Spirit, for we have already become righteous. In fact, by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we have already died in Jesus Christ and have actually been brought back to new life with Christ. The righteous can live by such faith. If we died in Christ and have been given new lives through our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we now need to consider how we ought to live. Then, we have to make up our minds to live by faith. We must serve the gospel under any circumstances and regardless of our own condition, our faith will be greatly blessed.
Therefore, to live spiritual lives once we are born again of water and the Spirit, we must put our carnal desires to death along with Christ, and we must live by faith for the righteous work of God. The Apostle Paul said, �I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me?(Philippians 4:12-13). We know that we may be rich one day and poor the next, but regardless of how our circumstances are, our purpose must be to live for the Kingdom of the Lord, and for the gospel of the water and the Spirit by faith. We need to realize how different our faith is from those who do their own carnal works, gripped by their lust of the flesh and legalistic beliefs.
Actually, even in the hearts that believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, legalistic beliefs are always lurking around. It�s because we are in God�s Church that our carnal lusts are broken and shattered, allowing us to live by faith in our Lord. Had this not been the case, and instead, we lived with legalistic faith, we would be more than capable of living by our own carnal lusts. As such, rather than following our carnal lusts, we must believe in the righteousness of God and follow it by faith. We cannot allow legalistic beliefs to grow in our hearts and make us live with carnal lusts. My fellow believers, if we permit legalist beliefs to get a hold on us, we will come to live according to our own lusts.
Those who are truly born again of the water and the Spirit may then realize that they are wrong, cast aside their mistakes, trust in the Lord, and once again stand upright by faith. However, fundamentally speaking, we should not allow this to happen in the first place. We should instead set our faith firmly in our hearts, believe that we died with Christ and were brought back to life. Now, we have become new creatures who can only live by faith, regardless of our own circumstances. Do not forget that just as it is by faith that we have been saved from sin, it is also by our spiritual faith that we can serve the Lord. We must set our hearts firmly to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Some of you may feel superior to others, while others may feel humiliated because of the position you hold in God�s Church. Such people have a serious problem at hand. It doesn�t matter who we are, whether we are pastors or laypeople; regardless of the position, we are equal coworkers in serving the Lord. Since we have all received the gospel of the water and the Spirit, it is only a matter of time that we should be with this true gospel, serve the Lord, and be with the glory of God.
In short, legalistic faith ruins the souls of Christians without fail. Unfortunately, such legalistic faith prevails today in Christianity throughout the world. Before we were born again, we lived our lives of faith based on legalistic beliefs. How was our faith then? We were fine as long as our deeds were fine, but once we committed a wrongdoing, we felt despondent.
We know that rather than having legalistic beliefs, to live by faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit is the right faith. That�s because the faith that allows us to die with Jesus Christ and to live again with Him is found in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. With this spiritual faith, we can experience for ourselves that everything is fulfilled according to how we believe in God�s Word, just as Abraham did. For us to live our lives of faith by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit is the right faith. We have nothing to boast of except Jesus Christ and His gospel of the water and the Spirit. A characteristic of legalistic faith is exalting human flesh and its deeds. Many Christians still boast in arrogance of their flesh, but all such boasting is evil (James 4:16). It is not right for us to live our lives boasting of our own deeds.
However, once we were born again of water and the Spirit, we have been ordained to live for the glory of God. Now, we cannot change our spiritual faith, no matter how our circumstances change. If there is something wrong with our faith, we should think about what is wrong by standing before His Word. That�s because we have already made up our minds to live for God. As such, without faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, it is impossible to follow the Lord. The people of faith who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit cannot live by trusting in their own strength to deny flesh.
On the other hand, legalistic faith is a false faith, for it goes up and down according to one�s own circumstances. So those who live by their legalistic faith may seem as if they are following the Lord faithfully, but that is actually not the case. This is because it is not with the true faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that they believe in the Word of God. Legalistic faith is fundamentally lust-oriented. It is the kind of faith where one can follow the Lord well when one is able, but cannot take a step forward in risky situations.
My fellow believers, just as the child born of Hagar and the child born of Sarah were different from each other, to live by faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and to live our lives of faith based on our own acts, are fundamentally different. Sarah gave birth to Isaac by believing in what God had said, whereas Hagar�s child was born through the strength of a carnal plan. Only when we pursue the benefit of God�s Church is it possible for us to follow God and serve this gospel of the water and the Spirit, to obey His Word, and be led by the predecessors of faith; it is impossible through our own carnal beliefs. In contrast, those with legalistic faith follow the Lord not by their faith in the Word of God, but only because their circumstances allow. This legalistic faith can change at anytime whenever circumstances change.
With what kind of faith do you now want to live? It is with our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that we must live our lives of faith.
You must reflect upon the Word of God once again. Just as it is written in Hebrews 11:1, �Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,?this indeed is actually the case. Abraham believed in God�s Word and waited for more than 20 years to receive Isaac. Since God had clearly told Abraham that He would give him a child, Abraham waited a long time believing in it. This is an example of the true faith in the Word of God. Placing our faith in the Word of God, we must become the kind of people who unite with the Church, follow the Lord, and pursue the benefit of God�s Church. We must not become the kind of people who try to serve and follow the Lord based on their own strength of the flesh, instead of believing in the Word of God. In other words, the Lord has told us to serve the gospel and to live by faith in God�s Word.
Legalistic faith is like the faith of the servant who received a talent from his master (Matthew 25:14-30). We must have faith in Jesus Christ and follow the Lord, yet there are those who cannot do this. Such people must first believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
However, such people rarely believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit unless they go through many trials and tribulations through their flesh. It is when their flesh is broken in ruins and has nothing else to rely on that they finally come to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. But even so, to come to rely on God is a tremendous blessing for them. That�s because when this happens, their minds are firmly set and united with God�s Church, God�s work becomes their work, and God�s blessings become their blessings. Everything becomes okay once they are united with Christ.
�This is the work of God�s Church, and that�s my work. I don�t care if the Church is facing difficulties, as long as I am okay.?Such people live their lives of faith legalistically and stir up trouble in the Church. And these people have the common trait of not trusting their leaders and ignoring the order and authority in God�s Church. As such, many of the born-again Christians still do not live their lives by faith in God�s Word, even though they have received the remission of their sins through faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Therefore, all of us must believe that we died with Jesus Christ and have been brought back to new life, and we must set our hearts before God. Since your old selves died and you have now been brought back to life, you should have the kind of faith that can follow the Lord anytime whenever He needs you. This is the very faith that the Apostle Paul is speaking of.
As mentioned, in the churches of Galatia, those with legalistic faith tried to pervert God�s gospel of the water and the Spirit. With what were they trying to corrupt the true gospel? They were trying to pervert the gospel of the water and the Spirit with their faith in physical circumcision. They propagated to those in God�s Church that they had to be circumcised in the flesh.
In those days, among the saints in God�s Church, there were those who were circumcised, and there were also those who were uncircumcised. In particular, the Gentiles did not know about circumcision.
�Were you circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin??/p>
�No, I was not physically circumcised.?/p>
��What? You were not circumcised in the flesh? You should be circumcised right away. The uncircumcised are not God�s children.? Saying this, the Jews tried to corrupt the true gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Since the gospel that the Apostle Paul had was the true gospel, he said, �I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ?(Galatians 1:12). Paul said that the gospel he had was from God, and so, if we preach a different gospel from the gospel preached by him, we would be accursed. Paul stated, �Even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed?(Galatians 1:8).
Yet the saints of these Galatian churches were living their lives of faith based on their legalistic beliefs. We need to realize that if we boast of our own acts of legalistic faith, in the end this amounts to nothing more than an obstacle in believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We ought to believe and follow the Word of God, and we ought to live our lives seeking to further God�s Church. Yet the problem is that there are always those who pursue their own carnal interests, rather than pursuing what benefits the gospel of God. They consequently end up perverting the true gospel. Furthermore, those in God�s Church who have legalistic faith go as far as preventing other saints from serving God�s gospel.
Galatia was situated in the northeast area of what is today Turkey. In its western area, there were seven churches of Asia Minor that were mentioned in Revelation 1:11. The Apostle Paul traveled around the Mediterranean region, stretching from Asia Minor to Southern Europe, to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit. However, not long after the Apostle Paul preached the gospel in this region, the churches in Galatia, along with the seven churches, disappeared. It is now very difficult to come across believers like us in that region, for 99.8% of its population is now Muslims. The churches there could not be maintained precisely because the gospel of the water and the Spirit was corrupted, and as a result these churches were compromised with the world.
The Apostle Paul wrote the gospel of the water and the Spirit in the Bible. Yet even in when the Apostle Paul was still alive, those with legalistic faith were trying to pervert the gospel. With what? They were trying to corrupt the gospel with their own acts of legalistic faith. My fellow believers, those who attempt to serve the Lord without first committing to serve the gospel, are in fact corrupting the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And such people are the ones who stand against God�s Church. As they have no leaders guiding them, they are capable of standing against God�s Church at any time.
You and I must realize just how wicked it is to live our lives of faith based on legalistic beliefs. Have you set your hearts to believe in the Word of God? Are you serving God�s gospel, following the Lord, and pursuing the benefit of the gospel and of the Church? Are you acknowledging your leaders, and believing, following, and obeying the words of the servants of God as the Word of God? Do you like or dislike your leaders according to your own standards? Do you want to live by placing your faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit?
I am sure none of you want to live standing against God. Because you believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, you are incapable of standing against God. Even if you believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, if you do not follow the Lord by faith in the Word of God, you will stand against the gospel of the water and the Spirit. As I mentioned, not long after the Apostle Paul passed away, the seven churches of Asia Minor all disappeared. Did the saints in those churches not believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? No, they too believed in it. Yet because they did not have leaders in their hearts, and because they were living by legalistic faith, their churches ended up vanishing forever.
Do You Find It Bothersome to Have Spiritual Leaders?
My fellow believers, are there any among you who, find it irritating that there are leaders in God�s Church? Such people are living their lives of faith based on legalistic beliefs. How about the Israelites when they ignored the leadership of Moses? What happened when Moses went up to Mount Sinai and delayed coming down from the mountain? They soon came to stand against God by making a golden calf as their own god, and ended up perishing in the wilderness.
What do you think would happen if there were no leaders in God�s Church? Your faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit may be corrupted. Some of you might think, �No way! I am sure I�ll believe until the end. I�ll believe no matter what!?Nothing could be more incorrect! Just because you believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit ardently at this point, it does not necessarily mean that you will also defend this faith in the end. Even if we believe in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit with our hearts, if we do not live the true life of faith, then even our first, true faith may be corrupted. In God�s Church, the leaders and the predecessors of faith are necessary and beneficial to all the members. You need to recognize and accept them all into your hearts. There is no one among you who is not necessary.
Do some of you think, �I wish that leader wasn�t there? If there is anyone among us who thinks like this, it is mutually beneficial for him to just pack up and leave God�s Church. Those who cannot acknowledge their leaders before them and wish they would disappear, are like this precisely because they resent the fact that they have be led by someone else when in fact they would like to dominate others. The more wicked ones actually try to take some of their followers from God�s Church and turn them into their own servants. The true life of faith cannot be lived with legalistic beliefs. Yet despite this, some with legalistic faith think that they can preach the gospel better if they themselves become leaders, and with their own carnal desires, they split from the Church taking a few saints with them and enslave them as their own servants.
If there were no shepherd, the sheep would be scattered (Zechariah 13:7). Right now, all of us are in God�s Church and we are all serving the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and so there is no problem; however, if the servants of God and His Church disappear, all the saints would also vanish away. You have to realize this. As God has called us into His Church, He has established an order within the Church. We ought to know this and live our lives uniting our hearts with the servants of God. This is the true faith.
And I admonish you to realize that God blesses you materially only because His Church is serving the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Therefore, set aside your greedy thoughts that somehow you can make more money if you go out into the world. It is because you are in God�s Church that your needs are met and you are blessed; if God�s Church were to disappear, and you were all to live your lives of faith individually, all of these blessings would end in no time.
However, there still are those who do not repent from their legalistic faith but who pursue only their own interests even at this very moment. Such people are proper to be called as �scoundrel Christians.?Anyone who lives by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit will never hear such name-calling. Anyone who does not live by faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, on the other hand, will hear people calling them as scoundrels.
We are now no longer children of the bondwoman, but we are the spiritual children of the freewoman. Since we are the children of the freewoman, we are God�s children. We are capable of living by faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Here in today�s Scripture passage, the Apostle Paul, quoting Isaiah 54:1, said in Galatians 45:27, �For it is written:
�Rejoice, O barren,
You who do not bear!
Break forth and shout,
You who are not in labor!
For the desolate has many more children
Than she who has a husband.��
When it says that the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband, it means that there are many who are saved from their sins and become God�s people by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. In other words, those who live only by faith in God and not by legalistic faith have many spiritual children, and live in God�s blessings. A woman with a husband can give birth to only around 10 children at most. But what about the children of those who live spiritual lives by believing in our gospel of the water and the Spirit? They are so many that it�s impossible to count them all. This is such a joy for us.
Although we are living in a world of wilderness, those who live united by their faith in God�s Word, in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, in God�s Church, and in the leaders of His Church, will be used as instruments to save more souls. And they will bear many spiritual children of God who believe that it is right to spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit throughout the whole world. They will make it possible for many people to be saved from sin, and will be blessed to enjoy everlasting lives together. Those who live by faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, because they live by faith, please God and are cherished by Him.
My fellow believers, what could we possibly gain from living carnally? There is nothing to gain from such a life. If we live like this we will barely be able to feed ourselves; when problems arise, we will end up losing even what we had; and when it is time for us to go to God, we will be completely broke. Have you not seen the lives of your parents of the flesh? Your parents of the flesh labored hard throughout their entire lifetime for their family members. Yet what have they gained from you? You are too busy with your own lives. Even so, you are still the same as your parents, as you also work to death to barely support your own children. You live just as your parents had lived, or you live even worse than your parents. Our parents?generation was at least diligent enough to make their ends meet, but far too many of today�s generation are not diligent enough.
However, those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and spread this gospel throughout the whole world live differently from the people of the world. Once we are born as human beings, it is only right for us to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and to live for the righteousness of God. Those who live their lives by believing that they died in Christ, and have now been brought back to a new life with Christ, will not only save more people from sin, but they will also have rich lives blessed by God. And this is the difference of life between those who are born of the freewoman and those who are born of the bondwoman.
As I carry on with my own life of faith, I am not bound by carnal matters. When I am in need, I rise up to the challenge by faith, and I never fail to achieve what I set out to do. At the beginning of our mission organization, you probably thought it rather bizarre to hear me speak of faith. In order to serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit, I prayed to God publicly for over US$ 250 million. Perhaps in your eyes I appeared more reckless than brave. Yet even if I know nothing, I do what I must by faith. And now we have printed over one million copies of our mission books.
If God will be pleased to see me serve the gospel through something, and He tells me that I absolutely must do this, then I do it by faith. �God, help me do it. Help me achieve it.?It is by faith that I rise up to these challenges. Just as faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen, everything is achieved exactly according to faith. I may never see the thing I hope for with my eyes, but when I rise to the challenge, picture it with my mind, and expect it with my faith, it is achieved as intended. The realm of faith is one where everything is fulfilled exactly according to how we have pictured in our mind.
I am not saying this to boast myself. I am speaking to you about true, living, and working faith. If you have faith in your hearts, then exercise it in your actual lives. It is when your faith is manifested that others can see and realize that you are indeed people of faith. And when you can also see the fruits of your own faith, your faith will grow even more. If your faith only remains in your hearts, there is no progress, nor is God pleased by it.
We live by faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. If there is anyone among the born-again who does not live for the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then you should consider him as someone who is standing against this true gospel. He is one who stands against God, against God�s Church, against the leaders of God�s Church, against his predecessors of faith, and against those behind him. In God�s Church, in other words, there is no other enemy of the saints and God, but the one who lives his life of faith based on legalistic faith.
As it is written, �I believed and therefore I spoke? (2 Corinthians 4:13), we speak because we believe in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit, and we rise up to the challenge because we believe. This is the definition of our faith. If you only pretend to follow and you don�t actually believe, then you are only living a legalistic life of faith. I admonish all of you to live your Christian lives by faith, and challenge everything by faith. Make up your mind by saying, �I live like this because this is the way to live for the gospel, and so it is right.?Do everything trusting in the Word of God. This is the truth. The life of faith is one where we speak and do everything because we believe in God�s Word.
My fellow believers, it is because we believe in a world unseen by our eyes that we are preaching this gospel of the water and the Spirit throughout the whole world. It is because we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and because we believe that the Word of God is the truth, that we are spreading this gospel Truth all over the world. It is because we are preaching the gospel by faith that people from every country whom we have never seen before are sending us replies. When we read their letters, confessing that their hearts had sins but have now been perfectly cleansed after reading our books, our hearts are warmed, for we can appreciate just how great faith is. None other than this is the realm of faith.
We need to examine ourselves. We need to examine to see if we are now walking by faith, if we are following the Lord because we believe, if we are serving the gospel because we believe, or if we are doing what we are doing because circumstances do not allow otherwise and we have no choice. We must have faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit as soon as possible. We have to believe in the Word of God, hold on to it, set our hearts, and follow the Lord. Our brothers and sisters, our workers, and all our saints throughout the world must follow the Lord because they believe; if they follow Him according to their own circumstances, they will always end up standing against Him. Such people are happy when things are going well, but once things turn even remotely sour, they complain immediately. I have seen such people countless times in my own experience; they would thank me if there is some benefit for them, but as soon as there is the slightest loss, or they are bothered even a little bit, they blame me right away. They harassed me so severely that sometimes I felt like telling them to just stop doing everything entrusted to them.
Whatever is in my mind, I speak it frankly. When our coworkers are in a meeting, I say everything in my mind straightforwardly. �I am doing this for you. If I just sit around and do nothing, some of you will die. Should I clap my hands after you are dead? You may not realize it right now, but wait just a bit more. You�ll understand why I did what I did.?It�s disheartening to see some people who are far from uniting their hearts, harassing me so viciously, when they do not even know why I do what I do.
My fellow believers, those who live their lives of faith legalistically have no leader to guide them. Do you have someone who guides you? I am not asking you to take me as your leader. It doesn�t have to be me, but before God, you must definitely have a leader. A leaderless soul is bound to perish. If one takes someone whose spiritual faith is not formed properly as his leader, then he, too, will immediately die spiritually. What would happen if one follows someone who is not one�s father, mistakenly thinking that he is the father? Only death awaits him.
To live a legalistic life of faith is so harmful that it destroys the Church, perverts the gospel of the water and the Spirit, stands against God, and kills the saints. There are those who, although they have received the remission of their sins, are still living legalistic lives of faith, and they are more evil than those who are not born again.
Then, How Should We Live the Rest of Our Lives after Being Born Again?
After one receives the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, there is something that one should consider first. How should I live? For what should I live? How should I set my heart for the rest of my life? These are the very first questions to ask, and the issues that must first be resolved.
Of course, the correct answer is that we have to make up our minds to serve the gospel by faith. We should set our hearts to be faithful to God. If you are faithful only for your family or yourself, you would deem it a spectacular success if you owned even a tiny building downtown. Ordinary people are satisfied with their own houses, where they spend their declining years monotonously, living on a pension. There are many others who don�t even get to this point. It would be fortunate if they even survived through their daily lives.
However, those who live by faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit live in prosperity. See for yourselves. How prosperous is it to live in God�s Church?
Once we are saved from all our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we must follow our leaders and trust in them, placing our faith in the Word of God. The Bible says, �He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap?(Ecclesiastes 11:4). If we do not believe with our hearts, and instead consider our circumstances, we cannot live by faith, and will only end up dead. In fact, countless people have perished in this way. It is my hope and prayer that this will never happen to any of you living in God�s Church.
The same principle applies to children. They, too, must live by faith in God. It is the same for teens, young adults, grown-ups, ministers, and for all workers. We must all follow the Lord by faith, serve the gospel by faith, and live by faith, or else there is nothing spiritually useful in our lives. At most, wouldn�t we be glad to have made through today? The Church must be none other than your own house, your fellow saints must be your people and your family, God must be your God, the leaders must be your leaders, and everything that God�s Church pursues must be relevant to you.
�In the days of Paul, as soon as he died, the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit disappeared. As words written and sandcastles built on a beach are swept away by a single wave and disappear, after the Apostle Paul departed, the seven churches of Asia Minor completely vanished from the face of this earth. They all disappeared completely, leaving no one on this planet believing or preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Does this then mean that they all died simultaneously? They were alive, but they could not speak about the gospel of the water and the Spirit. My fellow believers, without the Church, the saints cannot even talk about the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And even though the saints have no sin, they cannot always keep their hearts clean, nor can they live by faith. This is why all of us must realize that God�s Church is a blessing that has been bestowed on us. You should realize that it is a great, God-given blessing that His Church and His servants exist, and that you are living with your brothers and sisters of faith, the members of the Church. You have to appreciate what a great blessing this is. If you don�t realize this, then you are just like the sinners, even though you have received the remission of your sins.
My fellow believers, when we come to God�s Church, hear the Word and sing praises, we can feel our hearts that had been dulled while living in this world coming alive and being softened, as if they were freshly oiled. Isn�t this true? What would happen, however, if God�s Church weren�t available for you? If someone standing on this pulpit preached a legalistic sermon to you, then you would be eating leaven directly. If you hear such legalistic sermons even ten times, you would all spiritually die.
Therefore, we must realize just how indispensable it is for us to live in God�s Church by placing our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. What the Apostle Paul is saying continuously from Galatians chapters 1 to 5 is that we must live by believing in the righteousness of God and in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. That�s because we would be standing against God if we did not live our lives of faith by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. He who lives without making up his mind to serve the gospel is none other than God�s enemy.
My fellow believers, in this age and time, we will perish away if we don�t set our hearts to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Now, we must all live by believing in God�s Word, and stop living legalistic lives of faith.
Everything in this world under the sky belongs to God. All these things are not there just to show off God�s power, but they are there for us to use them. All things were made by God so that they may be used to spread the gospel and save souls. For us, who are saving souls through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, God will provide everything.
However, when someone�s faith is too small, it is a big problem if God gives him too many material blessings. What would happen if God bestowed great material blessings on you, even if you were not living your life of faith by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Would we all still remain in God�s Church if we had no faith in God�s Word, but plenty material things of the world? There wouldn�t be one person who stayed in the Church if this happened. If we were so rich that we could live as we pleased, who would want to stay under whom? Living this way would drive our souls to death. Our faith in God must grow larger before we expect abundant blessings from Him. Even if God bestows many blessings on us, we must have unshaken hearts, faithfully serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and still do the work of the Lord.
As such, we must strengthen our faith to have trust in the Word of the Lord and in the leaders of the Church, and we must be ready to live by faith. We must not be shaken, no matter how many things God gives us. It is important for us to still love the gospel and serve it without change, no matter how rich and wealthy we become. We should understand that our purpose is for us to love other souls and the way for to achieve this is to nurture our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
We must not live our lives of faith legalistically and according to our own circumstances. It is by faith that we must live our Christian lives. Only then can we live our lives honoring and serving God, benefiting His Church, and then go to the Kingdom of the Lord to live a life that shines like the sun. This is why the Lord said,
�Those who are wise shall shine
�Like the brightness of the firmament,
�And those who turn many to righteousness
�Like the stars forever and ever?(Daniel 12:3).
Those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and preach it diligently, in other words, will live glorious lives. To you and me, God has given us faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. I give all my thanks to Him.