“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!’ And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, ‘Arise, and do not be afraid.’ When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, ‘Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.’ And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.”
Today’s Scripture passage comes from Matthew 17:1-13. Here it is said that Jesus took three of His disciples, Peter, James, and John, and led them to a high mountain. Something stunning happened there. Moses and Elijah had descended from Heaven. And Jesus’ garments turned blindingly white, and his image was completely transformed as well. Jesus talked with Moses and Elijah. When Peter saw this, he said dreamingly, “Let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. We’d like to build three tabernacles and live beside You.” Then a cloud covered the sky and a voice spoke from the cloud, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”
Peter, James, and his brother John had climbed to a mountain with Jesus, and when they reached the summit Jesus was transfigured all of a sudden and Elijah and Moses came down to talk with Him. Then the sky was covered by a cloud and a voice said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” You can imagine what a mysterious scene it must have been. Why did Jesus then show the disciples such a scene? Jesus had let them see Him talk with Elijah and Moses, but what is the significance of this event?
Verse 2 says here, “He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.” Elsewhere in Daniel, it is written, “And those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3). The Bible writes here that Jesus’ clothes became as white as the light. God promised us that He would change us in the last day, just as Jesus had changed. So when we are transformed on that day, we will likely be changed as Jesus was transfigured. We will shine like the sun on that day. When the Lord returns, we will be resurrected and raptured and I am sure that our images will be transformed like this at that time. That is why Jesus had taken His disciples to the mountain and shown these things to them.
After showing these things to His disciples on the mountain, Jesus spoke to them on the way down from the mountain. As written in verse 9, “Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, ‘Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.’” The disciples then asked Jesus, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” The Bible then continues on to say, “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.”
The disciples were wondering in their minds, “Lord, everything from the Scriptures is to be completed with Your baptism, crucifixion, and resurrection, but then why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” The Scriptures were written from long ago, and the Masoretic scribes were claiming, “For our Lord to complete the prophesy of the Old Testament, Elijah must come beforehand.” They had argued that only when Elijah came would the salvation of mankind be fulfilled and everything that God had promised be restored. The “restoration of all things” refers to the fact that by sending the Savior, God would deliver the descendants of Adam, who were driven out of the Garden of Eden for sin, and thus make them His children once again.
In other words, the disciples were saying to Jesus, “The scribes say that Elijah must come first for this salvation to be fulfilled, for everything that You spoke to be completely restored, for the Garden of Eden to be restored, and for us to be saved from our sins and restored back to God’s people. Who then is Elijah?” Jesus answered them by saying, “I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished.” In other words, God had already sent Elijah, but people had not believed in him on their own. Jesus then added, “Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands,” indicating that just as John the Baptist had suffered a lot on this earth, so would Jesus also suffer. When His disciples heard this, they finally realized, “Oh, so John the Baptist is Elijah!” Verse 13 says, “Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.” John the Baptist is the Elijah whom God had promised to send in the Book of Malachi in the Old Testament.
Let’s then turn to Malachi. In the very last chapter of the Old Testament, just before Matthew, it’s written in Malachi 4: 1-3: “‘For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘That will leave them neither root nor branch. But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,’ says the Lord of hosts.” He then continued on to say in Malachi 4:4-6: “Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
God had promised that He would send His servant Prophet Elijah before He Himself was to come to this world. He said that Elijah would turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. This is exactly what the High Priest is supposed to do. It’s the High Priest’s duty to change God’s heart by offering sacrifices to Him. God’s wrath is provoked when His people commit sin before Him, and it is the High Priest’s job to change this angry heart of God to a merciful heart. In other words, it’s the High Priest who fulfills this mediator’s role to change God’s heart to have mercy on this people. It is also his duty to turn the hearts of the people who had left God back to Him. These are the very duties of the High Priest who offers sacrifices to God on behalf of His people. God had said that He would send the Prophet Elijah, and Elijah was to fulfill these duties by coming to this earth. When was he to come then? God promised that He would send him when the judgment was impending, as it is written, “Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” Elijah was to come and fulfill his role as a mediator to lead the people’s hearts back to God and God’s heart to them. But the Bible also says that if the people did not listen to the words of the coming Elijah, failed to turn their hearts back to God, and did not believe in Him, then God would come and strike this earth. He would wipe them out and cast them into a burning furnace.
Jesus came face to face with Moses and Elijah in the Scripture passage that we read today. He met them on a high mountain and talked with them. This account is of absolute relevance to our salvation. Moses is the representative of the Law. After receiving the Law from God, Moses had also received the sacrificial system of the Tabernacle, which enabled his people to obtain the remission of sins from God. God had spoken to Moses personally. So the five Mosaic Books, the Pentateuch, are absolutely authoritative. In these five Books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, God had spoken about His blessings to the people of Israel and the entire human race through Moses, and He had prophesied that Jesus Christ would come to this earth and save mankind. It is all contained in the Pentateuch that everyone in the Old Testament was to receive the remission of sin through the sacrificial system of the Tabernacle. Consistent with the requirements of this sacrificial system of the Tabernacle, Jesus Christ would come to this earth and blot out all the sins of mankind once and for all. God had spoken everything through Moses.
What do the remaining books of the Old Testament, from Joshua to Malachi, tell us then? They say to us, “Keep the Law of God. If you worship idols and do not obey the Law, then God will judge you.” From the Book of Joshua and on, the Old Testament is all about the cycle of sin and repentance that the people of Israel went through, recording how they were stricken for failing to keep the Law, how they repented, and how they fell into sin again. Like this, the Pentateuch constitutes the absolute foundation of salvation. You can then probably understand now why Jesus went up to a mountain and summoned Moses and Elijah down to talk with them.
Elijah was a servant of God who had led the idolatrous people of Israel back to the Lord, testifying to them, “God is the real God. Jehovah God is the true God.” However, the Elijah prophesied in the Book of Malachi, who was to come before the Lord to prepare His way, refers to none other than John the Baptist, whom Jesus bore witness as the greatest of all those born of women (Matthew 11:11). Jesus said in Matthew 11:14, “If you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come,” and He also said in Matthew 11:11-12, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”
Why does the Kingdom of Heaven suffer violence from the days of John the Baptist? That’s because all the sins of mankind were passed onto Jesus through the baptism that John the Baptist gave to Jesus. That is why those who believe that all their sins were passed onto Jesus through John the Baptist take Heaven by force. In other words, they enter Heaven by faith. Verse 14 says, “If you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.” Who did Jesus say was Elijah? It was John the Baptist.
In other words, this Elijah is someone absolutely indispensable and necessary for our salvation, and he is none other than John the Baptist. Only when this Elijah came could everyone’s sins be passed onto Jesus, thus making everyone sinless. In other words, John the Baptist, who was Elijah, led everyone back to the presence of God by baptizing Jesus and thereby passing all sins to Him. As John the Baptist passed the people’s sins to Jesus and thus offered sacrifice on their behalf, he had fulfilled all of his role as Elijah. Referring to John the Baptist, Luke 1:17 says, “He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” That’s what Zacharia, John the Baptist’s father, had prophesied before John was born.
The completion of our salvation is the fulfillment of all the Law and the statutes of the sacrificial system that God had spoken through Moses. By sending Jesus Christ His Son to this earth, God the Father has saved us, who were all destined to hell for our failure to keep the Law. When Jesus came to this earth, He accepted all the sins of mankind by being baptized by John the Baptist, and having thus shouldered all the sins of the world, Jesus went to the Cross and was crucified to death, thus saving us all. That is how we have received our salvation. And that is why Jesus, Moses, and Elijah are indispensable to your salvation and mine. They are absolutely essential for the completion of salvation, that is, for the restoration of the proper relationship with God. That is why Jesus had called Elijah and Moses and talked with them.
The disciples had asked Jesus, saying, “The scribes say that for everything to be restored, Elijah must come first. What do You say then?” So Jesus said to them, “Elijah has already come. But they did not believe him, and instead treated him in whatever way they wanted. He is none other than John the Baptist who had baptized Me.” People had failed to recognize John the Baptist and did not believe in what he had done for them.
Matthew 21:23-27 continues on to say the following about John the Baptist: “Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?’ But Jesus answered and said to them, ‘I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John—where was it from? From heaven or from men?’ And they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet.’ So they answered Jesus and said, ‘We do not know.’ And He said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.’”
At that time, Jesus had come into the Temple and was teaching the people there. The chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the time then came out to confront Jesus, and rejected His teaching. They rebuked Him harshly, saying, “By what authority are you teaching people inside God’s Temple? Who has given you such authority?” In Israel, except for teachers of the Law called Rabbis, no one else could dare teach inside the Temple. That’s why they were challenging Jesus, asking, “From whom have You received this authority? Was it from the chief priests? From the elders? If not, then are You teaching on your own authority? Who has given you such authority?”
However, instead of answering them directly, Jesus said, “I have a question for you as well; if you answer my question, then I will also answer your question.” Then Jesus asked the chief priests and the elders, “From whom did the baptism of John come? Is it from Heaven or from men? John gave his baptism to people, and He also baptized Me. Was this baptism then from the authority that you yourselves had granted? Did you give him this authority? Or was it God who gave him this authority? Who permitted this? Did it come from Heaven, or did you yourselves authorize it?”
The scribes knew that if they answered, “It was from Heaven,” Jesus would then say to them, “Why did you not believe in the work of John the Baptist then?” On the other hand, if they said, “It’s from men,” then this would be akin to denying that John the Baptist was a servant of God, in which case the crowd would stone them. So in their fear, they just said, “We do not know.” They answered like this because all the people of Israel at that time knew and believed that John was a servant of God. So Jesus said to the scribes, “Then neither is it necessary for Me to tell you by what authority I am speaking to the people.”
Jesus then used another example, saying, “‘But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said to Him, ‘The first’” (Matthew 21:28-31).
Jesus then rebuked them, saying, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him” (Matthew 21:31-32). Like this, Jesus bore witness of John, saying to the scribes and the chief priests that tax collectors and harlots will enter the Kingdom of Heaven before them, for these people believed in John, while the chief priests and the elders did not believe in him, even though John had come in the way of righteousness.
What did Jesus say here? He said, “John came to you in the way of righteousness.” This means that John the Baptist came for the righteous work that would justify mankind. He was sent to this earth for the work that would make it possible for mankind to receive the remission of their sins, and he fulfilled this work by baptizing people and Jesus. Yet despite this, the Jewish leaders at that time did not believe that God the Father had sent John the Baptist to fulfill this work of blotting out everyone’s sins, nor did they believe in his baptism. That’s why Jesus was rebuking them. Moreover, Jesus also told them, “Even tax collectors and harlots will enter the Kingdom of Heaven before you.” Tax collectors and harlots had believed John. They had believed that John the Baptist was a servant of God, and that by baptizing Jesus, he had passed all the sins of the people and washed them away.
What is the significance of John’s baptism? The word baptism means to be washed. Like the Old Testament’s laying on of hands, baptism entails one to lay his hands on another person and submerge him in water. When hands are thus laid, sin is passed on. This institution has been established by God and so it is effective for everyone. If you let a demon-possessed person lay his hands on your head, his demon would pass onto you. When someone tries to speak in tongues, another person who speaks in tongues out of demon-possession would lay his hands on the other person’s head and pray. Then the demon would pass onto that person and the one who just received the laying on of hands would also start to speak in tongues from demon possession. If one listens to sermons preached by a demon-possessed person, it’s highly probably that he would start speaking in tongues as well. Such people would throw themselves into a seizure all of a sudden, speaking in tongues feverishly, rolling around the floor, and raising all kinds of racket. That’s all because demons would have entered them. By then, the evil spirits that had possessed someone else would have invaded them as well. Like this, the laying on of hands means to transfer.
My fellow believer, the word baptism means, first of all, the washing of our sins. Calling everyone to be baptized, John had said, “Wash away your sins. You must be washed from your sins.” To the people of Israel, John the Baptist gave the baptism of repentance that made them receive the remission of their sins (Mark 1:4), but He also baptized Jesus, and this particular baptism was the baptism that passed all the sins of mankind to Jesus. The baptism that Jesus received from John the Baptist was the baptism that washed away everyone’s sins. That’s why baptism means, “to be washed,” “to be buried,” and “to be passed on.”
My fellow believers, what had to be done for our sins to be washed away? For our sins to be washed away, it was absolutely indispensable for John the Baptist to lay his hands on Jesus and pass all the sins of the entire human race to Him. What then had to happen once our sins were passed onto Jesus? Since Jesus accepted all our sins, He had to die and be buried in the ground. That is why Jesus, after shouldering all the sins of mankind by being baptized, went to the Cross as the Lamb of God and died in our place. And that is why Jesus was buried.
Jesus had asked, “What is the baptism of John?” but the religious leaders of Israel did not pay attention to John’s baptism. So Jesus said to them, “John came to this earth in the way of righteousness, and while tax collectors and harlots believed him, you did not repent and believe him even as you saw him. You will go straight to hell. Just as it’s written in Malachi, on the last day you will be cast into the middle of a burning furnace, placed in the midst of extreme wrath.”
God was to send the Prophet Elijah and he was to turn the hearts of the Father to their children—that is, the heart of God to His children. How? It would be by sending John the Baptist, the representative of mankind and the greatest of all those born of women. By baptizing Jesus, the Son of God and our Savior, John the Baptist passed all our sins to Christ. Through this, John redirected God’s wrath that was reserved for us to Jesus Christ His Son instead, and made it possible for all of us who could not approach God because of our sins, to boldly come before His presence by believing in this Truth. By believing in this gospel of the water and the Spirit, that John the Baptist passed all the sins of the world to Jesus by baptizing Him, and that Jesus shouldered all these sins and was condemned for them on the Cross, mankind is now able to come to stand before God. God had made John the Baptist fulfill his role as the man responsible for Jesus’ baptism, so that God would have mercy on all those who believe in Jesus Christ and in the ministry of John the Baptist and take them in as His own children. In other words, John the Baptist played a mediating role. It is written, “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.” As the last priest of the Old Testament, John the Baptist completely fulfilled this role as mediator.
God had established the institution of the sacrificial system and made it known to the people of Israel through Moses. So all the Israelites offered their sacrifices to God based on the principle of representation, and here was John the Baptist, who fulfilled his duties as their last High Priest. He is the representative of mankind, the greatest of all those born of women. Jesus said that Heaven suffered violence from the days of John the Baptist. This means that John Baptist is the last High Priest of the Old Testament who fulfilled the crucial role of passing all the sins of the world onto the Lamb of God to open the gate of Heaven.
God had promised to send Elijah, and this Elijah is none other than John the Baptist. God had said that Elijah would turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers. John the Baptist offered the eternal sacrifice on our behalf.
In the Old Testament, the people of Israel had brought their sacrificial animals and the High Priest had sacrificed them on their behalf, but now this sacrifice was changed. The Son of God Himself became our propitiation. And John the Baptist, the last High Priest of the Old Testament, passed all the sins of mankind to the Son of God. Through this baptism that was given by John the Baptist, Jesus accepted all the sins of mankind. As John the Baptist fulfilled his role to break down the wall of sin that had blocked mankind from God the Father, He turned the Father’s heart to the children, and the children’s hearts to the Father. Therefore, everyone can receive the remission of his sins if he believes in the baptism of Jesus and His blood on the Cross. God has made completely sinless all those who believe in the salvation that the Lord has brought, all those who believe in this gospel of the water and the Spirit, proclaiming that Jesus accepted all their sins through the baptism He received from John the Baptist, and that He has blotted them all out. As it’s written, “John came to you in the way of righteousness,” John the Baptist performed his role of passing the sins of mankind to Jesus by baptizing Him.
However, no matter how we shout out that every sin was passed onto Jesus through John the Baptist, people today simply do not believe. This is so ridiculous! Just how clearly is John the Baptist testified in the Bible? It’s none other than John the Baptist whom Jesus approved the most. It’s the very John whom Jesus Himself gave His personal seal of approval. It’s through John the Baptist that Jesus shouldered all the sins of mankind. Jesus did not just say, “I will shoulder your sins by Myself.” Just as the sins of the Israelites in the Old Testament were passed onto their sacrificial animal through the High Priest without failure, so did Jesus come to this earth as the Lamb of God and as our own offering of sacrifice, He accepted all the sins of the world through the baptism given by John the Baptist. This is so crystal clear. Yet even so, people still do not believe in it.
When Jesus was on this earth, the religious leaders at that time, the scribes of the Law, and elders of the Israelites not only refused to believe in Jesus, but they also did not believe in what John had done for them. They stood against the ministry of John the Baptist. That’s why Jesus said to them, “You will be cast into hell, for you are so full of your own righteousness and you do not believe in the testimony of John. But harlots and tax collectors believed.” In other words, harlots and tax collectors were saved first by God because they believed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Even today, however, most Christians still do not believe in this gospel.
When Jesus was on this earth, the Pharisees and the scribes came to see Him from Jerusalem and asked Him, “Why don’t your disciples keep the tradition of our elders? Why do they eat without even washing their hands beforehand?” They condemned the disciples just because they ate without washing their hands. They mocked Jesus, saying, “Just by looking at Your disciples, we can see that You are a flawed man also. You, too, are a man who does not keep the Law. You are completely below our standard.” So Jesus rebuked them, saying, “What goes into the mouth is not what defiles a man. It’s the wickedness coming out of his heart that defiles him. Out of the human heart proceed twelve sins including evil thoughts, and it is these that come out of the mouth to defile a man. Just because one eats without washing his hands, this does not mean that he is defiled.” Then the scribes and the Pharisees, who kept the tradition of the elders, mocked Jesus, saying, “You and Your disciples are completely wretched. You are so filthy that we can’t have anything to do with You. How can anyone eat without even washing his hands? The tradition from our forefathers clearly dictates that everyone must infallibly wash his hands and feet whenever he returns home from outside, and it commands us to keep this tradition, but You refuse to abide by it.” They denounced Jesus based on only superficial things.
So Jesus rebuked them, saying, “Do you claim to keep the Law? The Law commands you to honor your parents and take care of them, but have you really done this? Did you not actually break the Law, thinking that you don’t have to offer anything to your parents simply by saying, ‘Whatever profit you might have received from me is ‘Corban’ (that is, a gift to God)?’ Is this really keeping the Law? Haven’t you changed God’s commandments into men’s commandments, and do you not believe in these instead now? You fear God completely in vain, for even as you claim to believe in God, you do so based on men’s commandments.” Jesus then said, “So when a blind man leads another blind man, both will fall into a pit.”
This tradition of the elders refers to the man-made doctrines. Even today many Christians say, “Make sure to attend a big church. Ensure that the church you are about to attend is registered under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. And be sure to attend a church whose doctrines are clearly established. In short, you should attend a church that belongs to a large denomination and is recognized by secular people as well. You should be taught at such a church and believe in the Word according to how it teaches.” It is all in vain to believe in God and fear Him based on such commandments of men.
No matter who may be teaching what, can it even compare to a single phrase that God spoke? Human teachings are completely useless. Yet today’s Christian leaders go through a long litany listing of who said what, saying to the congregation, “Calvin said this, Luther said that; Livingston said this, Abraham Kuyper said that; Hegel and Kant said this, while Confucius, Mencius, and Socrates said that. This is what John Stott from Britain said, and that is what Abraham Lincoln from the US said, and how he believed and led his life of faith.” It’s all completely in vain to teach like this, learn like this, and walk like this.
What’s most important is what the Bible actually says. What the Word of God says in both Testaments is what’s really important. Jesus said that John the Baptist was Elijah to come, and that he was the greatest of all those born of women. When God Himself says that John the Baptist passed all our sins to Jesus by baptizing Him, and that this is what is entailed by the sacrificial system, then we ought to believe so and teach accordingly. This is what is meant by listening to and believing in the commandments of God and His Word, and it is by believing in this Word of God that we are saved. It’s absolutely imperative for us to listen to God closely according to this Word. That is the way to fear God.
There is nothing more foolish than expounding only on doctrines without even knowing the Word of God properly. Did John Calvin from France know the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the Word of God? France is where this theological giant was born, yet the gospel of the water and the Spirit is entering France now. French people do not know Korea that well, but we will take this opportunity to make it known to them clearly. They will recognize that Korea is no longer “the Hermit Nation” but a country of the predecessors of true faith.
Even though John came in the way of righteousness, many Christians do not believe this. They do not believe that John the Baptist was the Elijah whom God had promised to send in the last age. People speak of John the Baptist as a failure, saying, “John was a failure. Why? Because he got his head cut off by challenging King Herod.” But John the Baptist was not a failure. If John the Baptist were a failure, then so would Jesus be a failure, as God the Father would also be a failure. In order to save us humans from sin, God the Father sent John the Baptist to this earth six months before Jesus. The Father then sent Jesus to this earth six months after the birth of John the Baptist. And when the two turned 30, John baptized Jesus, and Jesus received this baptism. That is how God the Father put the sins of the world on Jesus. Given this, had John the Baptist failed, then so would Jesus’ ministry of salvation have failed, and God the Father who had sent them would also have failed.
Through Moses in the Old Testament, God spoke of the Law to mankind that had fallen into sin, the sacrificial system that blotted out sin, and the 613 statutes and commandments that mankind had to keep. Everything was contained in the Law, from the sacrificial system to the law of salvation and the law of judgment. God had promised to send Elijah. And just as He had promised, He sent Elijah. Six months after sending Elijah, God sent Jesus to this earth. And through Elijah, He passed all the sins of mankind to Jesus. Jesus accepted all the sins of mankind through Elijah. Elijah passed all the sins of mankind to Jesus. Jesus said, “It is thus fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. It is proper to thus make everyone sinless and to save all the people of this world from all their sins.” Since Jesus accepted the sins of the world through John the Baptist by being baptized, and since John the Baptist passed these sins of the world to Jesus, it is through John the Baptist, who was Elijah to come, and Jesus, who became the Lamb of sacrifice, that God has blotted out all the sins of mankind. Yet despite this, people still do not believe in this fact. Even in the age of the New Testament, there were many who did not recognize John the Baptist, and therefore were unable to be saved.
Have you heard about the e-mails we got from a certain missionary in Africa? When this missionary first read one of our books, he reacted adversely. He said to us, “This book says that John the Baptist passed my sins to Jesus, but the claim is too grandiose for me to accept. I cannot agree with the content of this book.” He might have been a very impatient man, because he had sent this first letter indicating his disapproval even without finishing the whole book. And then a few days later, he wrote to us again, saying, “I have holy news to share.” He had actually not finished reading the book when he wrote to us the first time. After reading our book just a little and browsing through the first part, he had told us, “I can’t agree with this,” but now that he read more, he came to truly understand what this book was all about. So after reading some more, he sent us another letter saying, “I would like to share a very holy news with you. I, too, agree with your position on the baptism of Jesus, that God passed our sins to Him through John the Baptist. And my sins were also passed on. I now have no sin.”
Many people abroad are now agreeing with us like this. They are confessing that even though they had believed in Jesus for a long time, it was the first time that they heard such a gospel. I had outright written in my book, “Except for the writings of the disciples of Jesus, this is the first book in the entire world that contains the gospel of the water and the Spirit.” These people do not object on this issue. They are agreeing with their silence. And even at this moment, many people are confessing after reading our books, “I have never read such a book like this in Christianity.” They admit that John the Baptist passed the sins of the world to Jesus. They accept into their hearts that Jesus accepted the sins of the world through John the Baptist. They accept all this even after reading just one book. At first, as this gospel Word is too unfamiliar to them, they may think that it is exaggerated, but what happens later on when the gospel is explained based on the Bible? They come to accept it.
So right now countless foreigners are being born again. Even at this moment, new believers are being born. In their living rooms and bathrooms, countless people are reading our books with the eye of faith and they now believe in the gospel, saying to themselves, “Then I have no sin. It’s exactly as the Bible says.” Then they write us, “I would like to share a great news with you. I agree that Jesus shouldered all my sins by being baptized.”
The entire mankind agrees that Jesus carried our sins to the Cross and was crucified. Even the Devil agrees with this. Yet some people still attack me, saying, “How come Pastor Jong only knows about this? Why does he talk about it alone all the time? How come He can only find such things in the Bible? Does he really have to find only these things?” I don’t have to find them; all I do is just read the Bible. When the whole Bible speaks of this salvation, isn’t it inevitable for me to see the salvation, even if I were not trying to find it? When I begin to read the Bible, I read a lot. I read until I am so full. What I am saying is that I know the Bible as much as the so-called Bible doctors.
Everyone all over the whole world who believes in God will come to believe in the baptism of righteousness that John gave to Jesus, the way of righteousness, for this path is all too clear. This is what the Bible speaks of and it was prophesied in the Old Testament. It is written, “I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” People are now turning to God in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. As John the Baptist passed all the sins of mankind to Jesus by baptizing Him, as he transferred all the sins of this world to Him, all that sinners have to do now is just turn to God by believing in this. Didn’t we also turn to God? Didn’t we say that we believed? Of course we did. Had John the Baptist not done this work, then even the death of Jesus would have been useless. Salvation would have been unreachable, no matter how strongly we might believe, how much we might cry, how we might submit ourselves to martyrdom, how we might offer all our money, or how we might serve others. In the end, we would have only regretted like Judah, saying, “Why did I believe? It would have been better had I not believed! I wish I weren’t even born!” However, John the Baptist passed all our sins to Jesus by baptizing Him, and that is why we can believe boldly before God.
My fellow believers, John came in the way of righteousness making us into the instruments of righteousness. Jesus accepted all their sins by being baptized so that people may receive the remission of their sins. By receiving this baptism from John, Jesus blotted out all the sins of the world. Jesus took upon the sins of the world, was crucified to death, and saved us. If the Word says that this is the case, then we should all believe so.
Jesus summoned Moses and Elijah. And He talked with them. Although it’s not written in the Bible exactly what they talked about, it is clear that the three spoke with each other. Moses here represents the Law. What about Elijah then? He represents the High Priest. He is the greatest priest of all those born of women—that is, he is the representative.
The Bible often mentions the earth. The earth refers to people’s hearts. It refers to their spirits. What does the last verse say in Malachi? It says, “Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” This means that God would pour His wrath on all those who do not believe in the Truth of salvation. You may wonder why I am saying this again when you all believe already. But I am saying this again because there still are many who do not believe. Everything is not over with just you receiving the remission of your sins, but there still are way too many souls that we must take as our responsibility. The entire human race must believe in this. There have been many people who began believing in this recently.
I will continue to publish our gospel newspaper no matter how high the price of paper may go up. I am sure that many who come across our newspaper by chance will somehow read it piece by piece and flock to our church, saying, “Someone here please lead me. I want to come here and listen to the Word. I had no idea that there was such Word in the Bible.” A while ago, our saints at Daejeon Church visited a woman running a beauty salon and gave her our newspaper. After this hairdresser finished reading our newspaper, she left it on top of the coffee table at the shop. One of her clients read our newspaper while waiting for her turn, and then said to the hairdresser, “Do you know where this church is? Can you lead me to this place where such amazing Word is preached? I’ve been a Christian for a long time, but my sins still have not disappeared. Would you please lead me to this church?” So as she was able to reach us by phone, the pastor of Deajeon Church preached the gospel to her, and upon hearing it, she received the remission of her sins.
My fellow believers, the Word of God will never disappear. It will remain exactly as it is forever. The most precious news in this world is this Word proclaiming that John passed our sins to Jesus by baptizing Him, that Jesus shouldered all the sins of the world and carried them to the Cross, that He died on it and rose from the dead again, and that He has thereby saved us all. This is the most beautiful news and the most joyful news; it has an amazing power like dynamite; and it is a music that’s more beautiful than any other music. Do you believe so, my fellow believers? Or are you by any chance bored that I am repeating the same words time after time? My sermons used to be even longer than this. When they were really long they lasted up to three hours. I am actually being very considerate these days. If I were to preach everything on my mind, I would have to speak for three or four hours. So compared to the past, nowadays my sermons are quite moderate.
My fellow believers, you can preach this Truth of the water and the Spirit only if you know it yourself. Have you preached the gospel before? When you try to preach the gospel, do you not find yourself at a loss for words? Only when you listen to the Word of God in all its detail, and confirm it and know it in all its elaborateness, can you then preach the gospel concretely whenever anyone challenges you with the Word, make him surrender, and save his soul. Would you rather be saved alone and just keep the knowledge of the Truth all for yourself? If I had done so, I would have stopped serving the gospel long ago when I first received the remission of my sins. If I had quit serving the gospel after receiving it, then by now I would probably have become the director at the large prayer center that my foster mother had led. It’s then probable that some of you would have come to my prayer center to pray. “Welcome. What brings you here?” “I’ve come to pray.” “Go to that room to pray then; you can use that room.” You would then cry your eyeballs out in that room and put yourself through a great deal of suffering trying to fast. People who visit a prayer center often want its director to lay his hands on them. Those who run prayer centers usually demand a lot of offering just for laying their hands once. They make tons of money. But if I had kept my mouth shut rather than preaching this gospel, then wouldn’t you all be heading toward hell now? If I had not done this work, then God would have made someone else do it, for He has the power to turn even this stone into a descendant of Abraham.
However, I cannot resist the will of God and that is why I am preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit. This is the reason why I keep preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit to you time after time. I admonish you to also preach this gospel to others in its concrete details, rather than just living for yourself. Try writing down what you have heard about in today’s Scripture passage in its entirety, confirm it as it is, and preach it to someone else as it is. See for yourself if the other person would then receive the remission of his sins or not. He will surely receive it. If he is remitted from all his sins through you, then the Kingdom of God will descend into his heart, too.
Perhaps some of you are now too tired at this hour of worship, as you had played soccer very hard this afternoon. I heard that our sisters are so good at soccer. I can be a good forward player when I play soccer, but nowadays I don’t even have enough strength to play a game of soccer with you. I have to spend most of my time nourishing my body back to health, and so in these days, I can only come out to preach once in a while. My health is too fragile to move around too much. Considering how my health has been so poor lately, I am thankful just to be able to stand before you and preach the Word. Indeed, God has made what’s impossible possible.
My fellow believers, shouldn’t every human being in this world believe in what John the Baptist testified? Why do people not believe this, even though the Bible makes it clear that John had come in the way of righteousness? Everyone should believe in John’s testimony and ministry. The gospel of the water and the Spirit that John the Baptist fulfilled together with Jesus is the way of salvation that everyone throughout the whole world must believe. John the Baptist came in the way of righteousness and passed all the sins of the world to Jesus by baptizing Him. And by thus accepting these sins of the world and dying on the Cross, Jesus has saved all of us from our sins. Everyone must believe in this salvation and in this path to the Kingdom of Heaven.
You and I alike, all of us must reach salvation by faith. Everyone who believes in Jesus must believe in all this without exception. Salvation cannot be reached just by believing in the Cross alone. It’s an absolute must to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. That is what I would like to share with you all. How about you then? Do you believe in this gospel?
You may have heard this Word hundreds and thousands of times, but if you still do not cherish this gospel, then you should be ashamed of yourself before God. When Jesus Himself approves this gospel of the water and the Spirit, how could we not cherish it? My fellow believers, I ask you all to cherish this gospel. You must keep it faithfully. And you must believe in it with your heart.