“Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But He needed to go through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink.’ For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, ‘How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?’ For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?’ Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’ The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’”
What Does It Mean to Have the Faith to Worship God in Spirit and Truth?
Today, I would like to explain what this means. The Lord said, “Those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). This means that we must be moved by the Holy Spirit when we worship God—that is, we must be moved by God Himself. What kind of faith, then, is required to worship God in spirit and truth? It’s the kind of faith that requires us to worship God by believing that the Lord shouldered all our sins by being baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, and that He also bore the condemnation of all these sins. In other words, we worship God in spirit and truth because of the gift of the Holy Spirit that we have received from God as a result of accepting the remission of sins into our hearts by faith. Because we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we are compelled to confess our faith and say, “God is my Lord and my God.”
Our Lord said, “Those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). This means that we must be washed clean from our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and then worship God spiritually. In other words, the Lord is telling us to worship God through our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Let’s turn to Matthew 3:13-17 to understand how we can worship God in this way. This passage describes what happened when Jesus was baptized. Let me read it for you, “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’ But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’”
Here we see Jesus coming to the Jordan River. Previous to this, John the Baptist had been preaching by shouting out to the people of Israel, “Repent, brood of vipers! Return to God! The day of His judgment is near, and the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Whoever does not return to God wholeheartedly will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So repent with all your hearts! Return to God!” Having come to John the Baptist, Jesus asked him to baptize Him. But John the Baptist refused at first, saying, “How can You ask me to baptize You when I need to be baptized by You?” To John this is untenable.”
The Two Meanings of the Baptism Given by John the Baptist
There are two types of baptism John the Baptist gave. The first is the baptism of repentance, calling on everyone in the world to return to God. And the second is the baptism of Jesus, through which the Lord bore all the sins of this world once and for all. This is the baptism through which John the Baptist, at once, passed all the sins of everyone in this world to Jesus. At first, John the Baptist refused to baptize Jesus, saying to Him, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” But Jesus said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” This means that it was God’s righteousness for Jesus to bear the sins of this world ‘once and for all’ by being baptized by John the Baptist and to save the human race from their sins.
However, many Christians do not fully understand this passage of Scripture. So they say, “Where does it say in the Bible that our sins were passed on to Jesus when He was baptized by John the Baptist?” Let’s then examine here whether or not all the sins of this world were really passed onto Jesus once and for all when He was baptized by John the Baptist. This is what Jesus Himself is saying in Matthew 3:13-15. And if this is what Jesus is saying, then it can only mean that all the sins of this world were passed on to His body when He was baptized by John the Baptist. But, many people, despite this truth, still ask where the evidence is. I can assure them that the evidence is found in Matthew chapter three, where the sins of this world were passed on to Jesus Christ ‘once and for all’ through John the Baptist if they would study the Word of Scripture properly. The skeptics have no evidence to say otherwise.
Let me take a few minutes at this hour to once again verify for you that Jesus bore the sins of this world through the baptism He received from John the Baptist. I ask you to consider it objectively once more. This is what Jesus said to John the Baptist right before He was baptized: “Permit it to be so, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” The word “thus” here refers to John the Baptist’s act of baptizing Jesus—that is, Jesus was saying that it was right for Him to bear the sins of this world by being baptized by John the Baptist. “All righteousness” here means that Jesus would make us sinless by bearing all the sins committed by us in this world. In other words, none other than making everyone sinless is the very righteousness of God. It is absolutely wrong to try and establish our own righteousness of the flesh, and in the process, stand against God’s righteousness.
When we look at a rag, the side used is always dirty while the unused side is clean. But the righteousness of mankind is filthier than this rag. Yet, people delude themselves by thinking that just because they have done a few good things, their conscience is clean. However, just as you would never wipe your face with a rag no matter how clean it looks, you can never enter the Kingdom of Heaven by relying on your own human righteousness. So, since the righteousness of mankind is just like a rag, human beings can never become sinless in God’s sight no matter how many good deeds they do. Born as Adam’s descendants, we cannot become God’s children on our own. That’s because no matter how many good deeds human beings may do, they are all born with sin by nature.
In contrast to the righteousness of mankind, the righteousness of God is perfect. The righteousness of God is this: because human being are incapable of living according to God’s Law, Jesus Himself has blotted out all the sins committed by everyone in this world by bearing them through the baptism He received from John the Baptist and received the punishment of crucifixion. None other than this is the righteousness of God. When Jesus was about to be baptized by John the Baptist, He said to him, “Thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). What is the real meaning of this passage? It means, when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, He bore at once all the sins that we have ever committed and will ever commit from the day we were born in this world to the day we die through this baptism.
Let me expand on this point by using the original text in Greek. The phrase “thus it is fitting” in Matthew 3:15 is “ουτως (hutos)” and “πασαν δικαιοσυνην.” in Greek. When Jesus was baptized, He was saying that that “it was for the fulfillment of all the righteousness of God that John the Baptist was to baptize Him and He was to receive this baptism.” This is what is meant by “ουτως (hutos)” and “πασαν δικαιοσυνην (pasan dik-ah-yos-oo’-nayn)” in the original text. ‘The word “ουτως (hutos),” which is translated as “thus” in English, means “in this way,” “in the most appropriate way,” and “in no other way but this.” The next word “δικαιοσυνην (dik-ah-yos-oo’-nayn)” means “the fairest.” This is not based on my own interpretation, but rather, it is what is actually written in Greek, which is one of the clearest languages.
That’s why God had the New Testament recorded in Greek. The original text of the New Testament was all written in Greek. The Old Testament, on the other hand, was written in Hebrews, an Aramaic language. In English, the word “love” is denotes all kinds of love, from the love the parents have for their children to the romantic love that couples have for each other. In contrast, the Greek language has specific words to describe different kinds of love. For instance, God’s love is denoted by “agape.” This word refers to God’s unconditional love. Its usage is different from the usual “love” between human beings. The word “love” is used in an all-encompassing way in English. It is used to describe any and all kinds of love, from the parents’ love to romantic love and even one’s love of the self. In contrast, the Greek language distinguishes God’s love for us with the specific word “agape.” The love between friends is called “philia.” The romantic love between the members of the opposite sex is called “eros.”
So, where it says here in the Bible, “Thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness”—that is, “ουτως (hutos)” and “πασαν δικαιοσυνην (pasan dik-ah-yos-oo’-nayn)” in Greek—it means that it was God’s righteousness for Jesus to bear all the sins of mankind when He was baptized. “In other words, Jesus was saying to John the Baptist, “It is the most fitting and appropriate for Me to be baptized by you. There is no other way for Me to bear all the sins of mankind once and for all but by receiving baptism from you. So I must be baptized by you. I must bring the most just salvation to mankind by receiving baptism from you.” When Jesus said, “Thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15), He was expressing His desire to fulfill the righteousness of God. Once John the Baptist heard Jesus saying this, he relented.
When Jesus came up out of the water after being baptized, the voice of God was heard, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” What does this passage mean? God the Father was saying, “In the most fitting way, by being baptized by John the Baptist, the representative of mankind, My Son has borne all the sins of human beings for their most perfect salvation.” In other words, God was saying that none other than His Son had now borne the sins of mankind. And He was well pleased in His Son. God would not have been pleased if His Son had not obeyed Him, but because the Son had been baptized in obedience to His will, God was pleased.
Because Jesus Christ bore on His body, in the most appropriate and fitting way of being baptized, each and every sin that you and I commit with our bodies, in our hearts, and out of our weaknesses, He had to now carry all our sins to the Cross and be condemned on it. Before facing this death on the Cross, Jesus prayed to God the Father, “Father, please take this cup away from Me if possible. But let Your will be done, not Mine. I have borne all the sins of mankind by being baptized. And because I have done so, I must now bear all the curses of mankind on My body. I am terrified, Father. If there is a way out, I do not want to be crucified. Can You not just take away the sins of mankind by lifting Me up to Heaven? Must I be crucified without fail?”
Our Lord agonized like this. However, just as the Bible says, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree (Galatians 3:13),” it was God’s law for the most accursed and wretched human beings to be crucified and bleed to death. This was God’s law of executing the most wicked sinners. So, God the Father said to Jesus, “My Son, have You not borne all the sins of mankind? Did You not say to John the Baptist that You would fulfill all righteousness by doing so? Were You not baptized by John the Baptist like this, and did You not bear all the sins of mankind at that time? Once You bore the sins of mankind, all their curses came to rest on You. You must, therefore, bear these curses with Your body.” Our Lord then resolved in Himself to follow this will of the Father.
Unlike our Lord, who agonized so much over this decision, His disciples who accompanied Him to pray fell fast asleep from sheer exhaustion. So the Lord said to them, “Are you that tired? Could you not stay awake even for a short while? The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Go back to sleep and rest. I have borne the sins of mankind through My baptism, and by being baptized, I will fulfill your perfect salvation.” Shortly after saying this to the disciples, our Lord was arrested by Roman soldiers by Judas’ betrayal. He was tried in the court of Pilate, was whipped and mocked, and carried a heavy wooden Cross on His shoulders. Jesus’ body was full of wounds from the 39 lashes He received. Yet even so, He was forced to carry the instrument of His own execution, as this was customary at the time. He struggled immensely under the weight of the Cross. Seeing this, a man named Simon of Cyrene was moved by compassion and carried Jesus’ Cross in His stead.
The Word of Jesus
Jesus Himself said to John the Baptist, “Unless I am baptized by you, I cannot save mankind to perfection. I must therefore receive baptism from you in the most appropriate and fitting way.” He was then baptized by John. And God the Father bore witness of this. Over the head of Jesus coming up out of the water after His baptism, God said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” When we read this passage in its original text, we can realize the following: By receiving this baptism most appropriately and most fittingly, Jesus has fulfilled our complete and just salvation. He did not just call us sinless even though our sins remained intact. Instead, through John the Baptist, the last prophet and High Priest of the Old Testament, Jesus actually accepted and bore all the sins of mankind, whether committed in their hearts or with their bodies, just as the sins of the people of Israel in the Old Testament were passed onto the live sacrificial animal when the High Priest laid his hands on its head.
Truly, the Lord has fulfilled the fairest salvation through this baptism. The original Greek text of the Bible clearly conveys this meaning. So I have made this point very clear in our books and in our newsletters. I did this lest people make unfounded claims of their own and say, “Where is it written in the Bible that all our sins were passed on to Jesus when He was baptized?” There is no question about it. Jesus has fulfilled the fairest salvation by being baptized most appropriately and without fail.
Isn’t it the case that Jesus has saved us from all our sins once and for all by accepting them when He was baptized? If our sins were not passed on to Jesus but remained intact in our hearts, how can we make unfounded claims that we have received the remission of sins, and, how can we say to God that we are righteous, or, how could call Him our Father? This is only possible because our sins were all passed on to Jesus once and for all when He was baptized, in the most just way possible, that we can truly believe in Jesus as our Savior and receive the Spirit of God from God the Father. That is why we are able to obey the Lord’s commandment to “worship in spirit and truth.” We believe that all the sins we have ever committed and will ever commit from the day we were born to the day we die were passed on to Jesus Christ when He was baptized; we believe that Jesus was condemned on the Cross vicariously in our place; we believe wholeheartedly in the Word of both the Old and New Testaments in God’s sight; and we are the ones who have received the remission of sins and worship God in spirit and truth. This is what is meant by worshiping God in spirit and truth.
Let me ask you a question at this point. Were all our sins passed on to Jesus when He was baptized, or were they not? Of course they were. This is not a mere dogma, it is the fundamental Truth! It is believing in the written Word. It is believing in the Truth. It is not a sectarian creed. Yet despite this, many pastors these days neither know of the original text nor have the desire to look them up, and they are also unable to apply it. When my sermons are translated, the meaning can change drastically depending on which words are used. For instance, when I say that our sins were passed on to Jesus when He was baptized, depending on the word that is used to translate the verb “pass,” it can denote a different meaning. In Korean, I may use the same Korean word for “passing,” but the translator may use a slightly different word that is appropriate for the context.
Like this, only someone who knows the original text of the Scripture can apply it correctly. When one reads the original text, one can see what the Bible is actually saying. Even if I forget everything else, I will never forget the words “ουτως (hutos)” and “πασαν δικαιοσυνην (pasan dik-ah-yos-oo’-nayn).” I memorized these words to know their meaning like the back of my hand. These words mean, “the most appropriate,” “the most fitting,” or “in no other way but this.” They mean that Jesus has washed away our sins most justly by being baptized by John the Baptist. This is the meaning of the baptism of Jesus. And through this baptism, all our sins were passed on to Jesus, and by realizing and believe in this, we have reached our true salvation. That is why Jesus said in John chapter 4, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Those who have received the remission of sins by believing in the baptism of Jesus, and who have become God’s own children by receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit into their hearts, are able to worship God in spirit and truth. God is exceeding delighted to accept such people’s worship. He looks out for those who worship in this correct way.
In today’s Scripture passage, we see Jesus departing from Judea to go down to Galilee, and as He went He passed through Samaria. At that time, Samaria was the region that experienced the heavy burden of foreign invasions in Israel, from Babylon and Syria. So, the women in Samaria had suffered a great deal from these foreign invasions, just as many Korean women suffered under the Japanese colonial rule. As a result, the Samarians had not been able to keep their Jewish bloodline pure. There are several nations in the world that even to this day claim to ethnically homogenous and pure, but in reality, this is not true. At any rate, Jesus could go to Galilee only by passing through this region of Samaria.
On His way, He reached a city called Sychar where Jacob’s well was located at around midday. This was the hottest time of the day. Exhausted from his journey, Jesus sat down by the well, and a Samarian woman came to draw water under the scorching sun. Jesus then asked this woman for water. The disciples had gone into the city to buy bread, and so Jesus was alone when the Samarian woman came to the well. Let’s put ourselves in this Samarian woman’s shoes. She had come to the well thinking that there would be no one about, but there was a young man sitting by the well. And this man spoke to her, saying, “Give Me a drink.” The woman then said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samarian?” Jesus then said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water” (John 4:10).
The woman said to Jesus, “How can You give me water, when You yourself are asked for water? Do you have a bucket? You don’t even have a bucket, and so how can You give me any water? You are talking nonsense!” We find this account in John 4:11-14, “The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?’ Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’” The woman was actually rather bold in her own way, as she said to Jesus, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw” (John 4:15).
Put differently, there was a little argument breaking out between Jesus and this woman by the well. “Give me water,” Jesus asked the woman. “How is it that you, a Jew, are asking me for water,” the woman replied. Jesus then said to her, “If you had asked me for water, knowing who I am, I would have given you living water.” The woman said, “How are you going give me water when you don’t even have a bucket?” Jesus then asked the woman to bring her husband. The first couple of rounds were a draw. In round three Jesus was cornered. But, in the fourth round, Jesus said to the woman, go call your husband.
Caught off guard, the woman blurted out, “I have no husband.” Jesus then said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly” (John 4:17-18). The woman thought to herself, “He knows all about my past life and my previous five husbands, and the sixth man I live with now is not my husband.” The fight was now over. Accepting her defeat, the woman in the end said to Jesus, “You are not an ordinary man, but a prophet. God has sent His prophets to the people of Israel from time to time. Since You know everything about me, it’s clear that You are a prophet.”
At the time, the woman had five ex. husbands, and now was living with her sixth man. When the Lord said to her that the man she had now was not even her husband, she said to Him, “You are a prophet! How do You know everything about me? You are right.” Jesus said here that the man the Samaritan woman had was not her husband. This implies that her real husband was Jesus Christ. In the Bible, the husband is often interpreted to mean Jesus Christ. Even though the woman had lived with six different men, none of them was actually her true husband. What does this all mean? In this world, there are many people who believe in money as their husband and as their God. They think money is their husband and their God. But this money can never be anyone’s God. Money does not last forever. It comes and goes. Far from protecting you, it can actually ruin you. Once people accumulate wealth, they usually seek fame. For those people, fame becomes their husband, and they are willing to risk even their lives to attain the fame they are seeking.
The Misguided Pursuit of Fame
Even Christians seek fame for many misguided reasons. For instance, there was a theologian who didn’t even believe in the divinity of Jesus. This particular theologian was imprisoned for being a Christian, and was in the end, martyred for Jesus. But his reason for martyrdom was completely wrong. He gave up his life just to defend his own reputation as a theologian, thinking to himself, “I am a theologian. I’ve been threatened with death for my faith in Jesus, but if I avoid martyrdom, I will lose my reputation as a theologian. So to defend my honor, I must embrace my martyrdom.”
The early church leaders who learned directly from the twelve Apostles, the disciples of Jesus, are called the Church Fathers. Some of these Church Fathers, such as Origen actually denied the divinity of Jesus. Yet, even such people were martyred to defend their own reputations. Such things happen all the time. During the Korean War, there was a man named Chudal Bae who was killed by North Korean soldiers for defying their orders. The North Korean soldiers, after occupying Bae’s village, imprisoned, and or killed the land owners while sparing the tenants. As a poor tenant farmer, Bae’s life was spared. However, when the North Korean soldiers heard that Bae did not work on Sundays because of his Christian faith, they wanted to test him. So on one Sunday they ordered Bae to sweep the yard, but he refused, saying that he could not work on a holy day. The North Korean soldiers mocked his belief, saying that God would not be upset just because he swept the yard once. They also threatened to kill him if he didn’t follow their orders. Even so, Bae refused to obey them no matter what.
Irked by Bae’s stubbornness, the North Korean soldiers tied him to a tree and said to him, “This is your last chance. Either you sweep the yard and live for another day, or you don’t sweep the yard forever and you die today. What’s your choice?” Bae still refused, and in the end, the North Korean soldiers shot him to death. After his death, the congregation of his church appointed him as a deacon posthumously, praising him for embracing martyrdom and laying down his life to keep the Sabbath. This young man died a meaningless death just for fame. After all, what’s the big deal even if we eat, take a nap, and sweep the yard on Sundays?
The Sabbath actually teaches us to defend our faith that the Lord has blotted out our sins. It teaches us to believe that God has blotted out our sins, and to believe in and keep this gospel. The Word of God should always be interpreted spiritually, never literally. If we were to keep the Sabbath strictly, we would have to not use even electricity. After all, the Old Testament says that everyone in the household, female and male servants alike, and even livestock, must rest on the Sabbath.
Many Korean theologians died during the Korean War in order to keep the Sabbath. The Kosin Presbyterian Church in Korea had many such martyrs, and before it, there was also The General Assembly of Presbyterian Church in Korea. In these denominations, even laypeople were martyred for the Sabbath. So, in Korea, denominations that pride themselves on keeping the Sabbath include the Seventh Day Adventist Church and The Jaegun Presbyterian Church in Korea. The adherents of The Jaegun Presbyterian Church in Korea didn’t even build a fire on Sundays. They thought it was scandalous if there was any smoke coming up the chimney on Sundays. But they still ate their meals. They used electrical appliances to cook. All that they cared about was that no one saw any smoke from the chimney.
Splitting from The Jaegun Presbyterian Church in Korea was the Koryeopa Presbyterian Church, named so because it purports to follow the old faith, and from there, there was another denomination that split away again, called Hapdongpa Presbyterian Church for its call for unity. As a result of such sectarianism, dozens of different Presbyterian denominations were formed, from Kosin to Korye to Reformed Kosin, Honam Kosin, and so forth. This is how all these different Presbyterian denominations came into being. At any rate, when we take a closer look at the followers of these denominations that are famous for martyrdom, we can see that they died for their own reputations. We call such deaths a meaningless death. We should never lay down our lives for such useless and trivial things. If we are told to sweep the yard on the Sabbath, we should just sweep the yard and then rest. There is no point in risking lives over such trivial issues.
Some seminary students study hard to become a famous pastor. But, some of them die from exhaustion before they reach graduation. This is all because of the pursuit of fame. Some people risk their lives for fame, while others risk their lives for money. These people try to serve God with fame and money. Some people follow Soka Gakkai, a new religious movement originating from Japan, and they chant the name of the Lotus Sutra when the sun rises in the east, believing that this will bring them prosperity. How about the Catholics? They in turn recite the Hail Mary all the time, praying, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee… Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners.” The Buddhists do their own chants, saying constantly, “Namo Amitabha Buddhaya.”
This, my fellow believers, is what the religion of man is all about. It calls its followers to practice such useless things. Like this, many people serve God as a matter of religion. There also are people who serve God as a matter of pleasure. The Samaritan woman in today’s Scripture passage had six husbands, and she thought each of them as her God. However, no money, no fame, no pleasure, and no power can ever be anyone’s God. So the Lord said to her, “The man you have now is not your husband.” And the woman answered and said, “You are right. You know everything. You are indeed correct.”
My fellow believers, no matter how much we might worship money, pleasure, or fame, they can never be our true God. Only Jesus Christ is the true Savior and God for you and me. That’s why the Samaritan woman admitted to this when Jesus said to her that the man she was with now was not her husband, and for that revealing she called Him a prophet. She then asked Him, “You are a Jew while I am a Samaritan. The Samaritans worship on this mountain, but the Jews say that Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” To understand this, it’s necessary to know a bit of history. You may remember King Rehoboam and King Jeroboam, who ruled over the Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel after Solomon’s reign? Rehoboam was actually Solomon’s son. After Solomon’s death, Israel was split into two kingdoms, with ten tribes revolting against Rehoboam and establishing a separate kingdom under Jeroboam, who had been a servant of Solomon. This northern kingdom called itself Israel, and was also known as Samaria. Rehoboam’s kingdom, on the other hand, retained the loyalty of only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, was known as the Kingdom of Judah.
That was how Israel was divided into Judah and Samaria. After this, the Samaritans set aside the fifteenth day of the eighth month as a day of worship, and brought a golden calf and worshipped it on a mountain in Samaria. In contrast, the Kingdom of Judah worshiped the Lord God on the tenth day of the seventh month. It is because of this historical background that the Samarian woman said, “Aren’t Jews supposed to worship in Jerusalem?” What did Jesus say in response? Let’s turn to this event in the Bible. “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth’” (John 4:21-24). What does this all mean? It means that God is looking for those who worship in spirit and truth. Put differently, it is not where you worship God that matters, nor is it your denomination that matters. Such things are not of importance.
The Samarian woman also asked Jesus, “This well was given to us by Jacob. Are you greater than Jacob?” Spiritually speaking, this refers to denominational differences. She was saying to Jesus, “This well of Jacob has existed for ages. Are You saying that Your water is better than the water of this well? Jacob our father dug a deep well so that we and our livestock may drink from it. The water from this well is so wonderful. Can You give us water that is better than this water?” This is what the woman was actually saying. What does this imply? It implies that the Samarian woman was speaking to Jesus in sectarian terms.
Don’t many Christians to this today as well? They just boast of their own denomination, without even knowing how they ought to believe in God, or how Jesus Christ has saved them—they don’t know the gospel of the water and the Spirit either. This well of Jacob was thousands of years old. Many Christians boast of the long history of their own denominations. Presbyterians speak as if Presbyterianism were thousands of years old. In reality, the history of Presbyterianism spans not even 500 years.
Seminaries only began springing forth around the world in the 18th century. It was only in the 18th century that Protestant theology, such as Baptist and Presbyterian theology came into being. Its history is not that long, since it only goes back about 300 years. In 313 AD, Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, which established the Catholic Church as the state religion of the Roman Empire. From then on until Luther’s appearance in the 15th century, the world had been living in the Dark Ages. During that time, the Catholic Church routinely confiscated people’s properties simply by accusing them of heresy. This is how the Catholic Church exercised tremendous power. During these Middle Ages, no one could stand up to the Catholic Church and survive, not even kings.
In England, a separate church was established over the Pope’s refusal to grant the English king’s request for the annulment of his marriage so that he could remarry. You all know about this. That church was established as a direct result of the Catholic Church’s refusal to give King Henry VIII the annulment he wanted. And it’s called, the Anglican Church. The Anglican Church is a fusion of Catholicism and Protestantism, retaining most of the Catholic rituals but incorporating new Protestant doctrines. There is another group of Protestant churches, known as the Reformed Church, they were much more radical in their rejection of Catholicism.
What does it matter how long your denomination’s history is? What does it matter how deep Jacob’s well was? No matter how deep Jacob’s well might have been, all the water people drew from it was depleted after use, and they all got thirsty again. The water that they drew for a day’s use was gone by the end of the day. They had no choice but to go back to the well again the next day. This water had to be drawn day after day with no end. The same goes for denominations. No matter how steeped in history and tradition any denomination may be, its man-made doctrines can never quench people’s hearts. It can never give the true living water. Only those who have the Word of being born again of water and the Spirit, the Word of Jesus, can obtain the spring water of everlasting life.
In other words, we reach salvation finally and obtain the everlasting water only when we receive the remission of sins by believing with our hearts that Jesus bore all our sins most properly and fairly through His baptism, and that He has blotted them all out with His death on the Cross. You should never boast of your own denomination. The Samarian woman in today’s Scripture passage boasted of her sectarianism, but when Jesus told her that He would give her the water of everlasting life, and that she would never thirst again if she drank this water, she asked Him to give her that water. The Lord then told her to call and bring her husband.
The Precondition of Receiving the Remission of Sins
To receive the remission of sins, you must first realize that you are a sinner. And you must also realize and acknowledge that what you have known, believed in, and followed, is in fact, not the real God. You must believe that Jesus Christ alone is your God and your Savior. Even if the Lord wants to give you the remission of sins and the blessing of being born again of water and the Spirit, He cannot do so if you don’t know whether or not you have met God. If you have met God, then there would be no need for you to find the way to meet Him again. What I mean is, those who have already received the remission of sins once have no need to receive it again. The remission of sins is received once and for all. Its effectiveness is everlasting. When you listen to the Word of God, it turns into a spring that continues to replenish itself.
All the sins we commit with our flesh were passed on to Jesus. Are we then still sinful or are we sinless? Of course, we are sinless! Each and every sin you commit in this world was passed on to Jesus. That is precisely why we are able to worship God in true faith. The believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are now able to worship God by the true faith. Because Jesus took away all our sins once and for all through His baptism, we have no more sin. He has become our true Savior. Therefore, if you want to receive the true remission of sins from Jesus, then you must first realize clearly what kinds of sins you have inherited from your parents, and that you are a sinner who can’t help but sin all the time in this world.
The Lord Said to the Samaritan Woman, “Call and Bring Your Husband”
“I have no husband,” said the woman. “You are right. You have had five husbands, and the one with whom you are living is not your husband,” said Jesus. The woman then admitted this and said, “You are right.” My fellow believers, you might have lived in this world by trusting in money, fame, pleasure, religion, or yourself, but has any of these things really saved you? Has money blotted out your sins? Has power blotted out your sins? No, of course not! Neither money, nor fame, nor power, nor religion, and nor you yourself can save you. These things can never save you from your sins. Neither money nor fame can bring salvation to you. You must realize clearly here that no matter how much money you might offer to your church or temple, this money cannot blot out your sins, even if you were to donate all your possessions away. Money can never be your God. It can never be your Savior. Yet, despite this, so many people think that money is all they need. Even in death, people think they need money. Take a look at how funerals are held these days. Expenses run into the thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars, as if a pricy casket and an opulent tombstone would make any difference to where the dead would end up.
Whether you go to Heaven or hell has nothing to do with money. It has nothing to do with your material possessions; it has nothing to with your pleasure; and it has nothing to do with your fame. It has nothing to do with yourself, either. You can go to Heaven only if you believe in Jesus, in His baptism and Cross. No matter how much power you might have, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven with your power. When President Park Chung-Hee died, representatives from various religions including Buddhism, Protestantism, and Catholicism came to the funeral ceremony and took turns praying for him. This was done so that at least one of the deities would take in Park for his afterlife.
However, a certain pastor gave a sermon and said, “You shall reap what you sow.” Many Koreans applauded him for saying this. That’s because President Park had ruled as a dictator and killed many people during his rule. So the people at that time said, “Park shot people to death, so it’s only fair that he himself would be shot to death.” Instead of being a day of consolation, it turned into a day of condemnation. A Catholic priest then lit incense and prayed, “Holy saints, pray for this soul. St. Peter, intercede for this soul.” I often saw such rituals when I was hospitalized. It’s known as the last rites, in which the presiding priest would recite long prayers for the departing soul. I saw them so many times that I got sick and tired of them. What kind of prayers are these? It’s asking the saints who are already in Heaven to pray to God the Father for the soul of the person that is now dying, so that he may be delivered from hell.
This is what religion is all about. But, no matter how fervently such prayers are given, can this religion really save anyone? Does money save us? Does fame save us? Does power save us? Do we save ourselves? No, none of them can save us. Yet, so many people think they can reach salvation by relying on their own means. In reality, such beliefs are all laughable.
It’s written in John 4:18-19, “Jesus said to her, ‘You have well said, “I have no husband,” for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.’” My fellow believers, from the day we were born, we were destined to perish. We were all doomed to be cast into hell. What did David say in Psalm? Let’s turn to Psalm 51:5 and read what he said, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” What does this passage mean? David said here that he was born in iniquity, and that his mother conceived him in sin. This means that human beings inherited the sins of their parents from the day they are born, and that they were born in this world with the sins of their forefathers in their hearts. So, this is known as original sin. It refers to the sin that everyone is born with as a descendant of Adam.
Because all human beings are born with this original sin without exception, they all commit twelve kinds of sins in their lives continually. Such sins blossom throughout the four seasons and the twelve months of the year, from murder to covetousness, theft, adultery, and foolishness. No matter how hard people might try to resolve themselves not to sin anymore the next year, they still end up sinning again. Just as there are twelve months in a year, we commit twelve kinds of sins throughout the year, and we do so again the next year. It is in our human nature to commit sins like this until the day we die.
David was someone who believed in God ardently. How strong was his faith? It was so strong that he admitted his true self to God and confessed that he was brought forth in iniquity and conceived in sin. This was David’s confession of faith, He also said, “That You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge” (Psalm 51:4). Put differently, David was making his confession of faith as follows, “Lord, I believe that Your judgment is correct. If You say that You have blotted out my sins, then you have indeed done so; if You say that You have not blotted out my sins, then You have not done so. Because I was born with these sins, I can’t help but to commit them. Your judgment is entirely correct. I believe in You wholly.”
My fellow believers, if you want to receive the remission of sins, then you must first of all believe in the Word of God wholly 100%. Unless you believe, you are bound to insist on your own flawed thoughts. General Naaman was healed from leprosy, thanks to the Lord. But, what were his thoughts like at first when he was told bathe himself in the Jordan River? He thought, “The Lord told me to wash myself in the Jordan River, but I am sure the rivers of my own country are better than the Jordan. I would rather bathe in one of those rivers than in this Jordan River.” If God tells you to wash yourself in the Jordan River, then you ought to wash yourself in the Jordan River. In other words, you ought to throw away your own thoughts and believe in the Word of God.
The Lord has told you and me to receive the blessing of being born again of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Jesus bore all our sins by being baptized in the Jordan River, He blotted out all your sins and mine with the water and the blood by dying on the Cross, and He has given us the Holy Spirit as the result. Thanks to this work of the Lord, we have been blessed to be born again as new creatures. All that we have to do is just believe in this Word of God just as it is. Were we born because of our own wish? No, we were all born on this earth irrespective of our own wishes. It is also irrespective of our own wishes that we became sinners, and we have also become God’s own children irrespective of our own efforts. You only have to believe in this to reach your salvation. There is no other way but to believe. The Lord said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). God the Father is looking for those who worship Him in spirit and truth. He said clearly that those who worship Him “must worship in spirit and truth.”
The blessing God gives to those who come before Him by believing in the baptism of Jesus and His blood on the Cross, and by believing that the Lord is their Savior, is none other than the blessing of being born again of water and the Spirit. Such people worship God in spirit and truth. Those who worship God by accepting the remission of sins through the water and the Spirit which is given by Jesus are the ones who worship God truthfully; and worshiping God with the Holy Spirit in one’s heart and the true faith, is the true worship. Some of us worship God in truth, but some of us don’t. How about you?
Are you someone who worships God in spirit and truth? I sincerely hope you are such a worshiper. Those who do not believe that all the sins of the world were passed on to Jesus when He was baptized - still have sins in their hearts, and they have no faith. The format of worship is not what is at issue here. You can worship God anywhere you want. The Lord said, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him” (John 4:23-24). What does it matter whether you worship God here or there? As long as you have really received the remission of sins, then it doesn’t matter where you worship.
Denominations are also all useless. It’s so laughable for these many Christians to boast of their denomination’s history and tradition when they only go back 300 years or so. At first, when I was not well informed, I thought these denominations were thousands of years old. I used to think, “Since it has been around 2,000 years since Jesus was born, these denominations must go back at least 1,000 years.” But, when I looked at the actual history, I found out that it was only in the 18th century that seminaries began to emerge. The founding of the Presbyterian Church was also very late. While Presbyterianism is strong in Korea, that is not the case elsewhere; in the US, for instance, the Baptist Church is much more influential.
The point is this, the rituals of worship and denominational differences are absolutely not important. What’s really important is that we receive the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and then worship God by this true faith. That is what is meant by worshiping God in spirit and truth, and this is the way we worship God once we are born again of water and the Spirit. God wants you and me to born again of water and the Spirit first as the number one priority, and then to worship Him. This is the worship that God wants from us.
Let me bring my sermon to close here as it is getting quite late and many of you are tired. I’m sure you understand the core message of today’s sermon without me preaching any longer. It is all thanks to Jesus that we can worship God in spirit and truth. I thank God from the bottom of my heart for enabling all of us to worship Him in spirit and truth. I am so grateful that, through His baptism, Jesus bore all the sins we commit in this world with our flesh. I am so thankful that He also bore all the sins we commit with our hearts. All the sins we commit out of our shortcomings were also passed on to Jesus. As a result, we now have no more sin. We have become truly righteous. Even though we still have our shortcomings, we are sinless. I give all thanks to God for turning us into such righteous people.