“Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
Make Peace with the Lord First
Today’s Word of the Lord is a metaphor in which a king of a certain nation is thinking about whether or not the nation can stand against an invading army of twenty thousand with just ten thousand soldiers in a war. The Lord tells us that if the king comes to find that it is impossible to win, then he should try to make peace as quickly as possible. While the enemy is still far away, the king should be making peace with them, lest his kingdom should be ruined. By using such a metaphor, the Lord says, “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Through the metaphor, the Lord is telling us what we must do in order to become His disciples.
At times, when a person tries to do some work, there are instances when the work does not move along smoothly and makes the person tired as if he were tied down by a snare. This happens because the person tries to take care of the work with his or her own strength instead of asking the Lord. Therefore, it is more important for people to empty themselves completely than to have a firm conviction when doing a certain work. Rather than having the heart of “I can do anything by myself,” people must empty themselves and lead a life of faith by relying on God. When I do work, I always do the work by getting immersed in it. But, the work doesn’t always flow along smoothly. So, I become very tired. When a work does not go well, my heart gets bogged up, and until that work is resolved well, thoughts concerning that work do not leave my head.
We Shall Think about What You and I Must Do to Become His Disciple
We must quickly realize that “I cannot do anything,” and lay aside the thought that “I can do everything.” Also, rather than having the thought of “I will do this and that,” you must empty yourselves, expect that the Lord will do it, and have the heart of believing in what the Lord will do. This is more important. We must become the saints whose hearts have been cleared. Once you plan on doing some work out of your own will, you will set your heart in doing that work and carry it out. Until that work is complete, you won’t be able to think of anything else. But a true life of faith isn’t like that. Emptying our hearts and entrusting them to the Lord is more important than setting out to do something somehow on our own. There is a limit in doing work only with our own strength. Although you may aspire to diligently carry out the life of faith, it won’t go as well as you had thought. It means that there is a limit. Our thoughts, resolve, and abilities will surely reach their limits, and things will not turn out as we had expected and planned. Wouldn’t it be great if everything went as well as we had expected?
However, we are always lacking. We as individuals are not perfect. Rather, we are always lacking. Therefore, if we genuinely want to follow the Lord, we must first empty ourselves. We must realize that only when we can wholly empty ourselves, will we be able to follow the Lord and become His disciples. When we empty ourselves, we can offer prayers that go, “Please do this and that for me, Lord.” We can set our faith to believe in the Lord truly taking care of all our works. The true faith that the Lord will do everything for us will arise in our hearts. It might seem as though we can achieve things with our own power if we were to try, but it will not go well. Dear fellow believers, a proper life of faith, and to become a disciple of the Lord are said to be precisely like that. If our abilities measure to be ten thousand, what the Lord wants is twenty thousand. Then, what we must do is to throw out our abilities and our thoughts. Can we match the power of the Lord? We can’t possibly match the power of the Lord. We cannot follow the Lord with our individual abilities.
Then, how can we follow the Lord? It is by completely emptying ourselves. “My Lord, I cannot do anything. I believe that You have saved me and that You are the God who will lead me.” It is by believing in our Lord Jesus, who has the power of twenty thousand. Becoming a disciple of the Lord is to believe in and follow the omnipotent Lord. It is, in other words, to empty ourselves completely and to believe in the Lord with this kind of heart. We must empty ourselves, entrust all our things to the Lord, pray, and hope. When we believe in the Lord by completely emptying ourselves, we will be able to become true disciples of the Lord, do the same things that the Lord has done, and follow Him. When we empty our hearts, we become disciples of the Lord. If we do not empty ourselves, we cannot become His disciples. We must believe that the Lord will do our work for us only when we follow Him. We are able to follow the Lord because we believe that the Lord has saved us and that He will continue to protect us and help us. We are able to become disciples of the Lord.
Without the faith of believing in and following the Lord, if we were to believe in and follow only our will, we will be faced with the limit of our powers, and hence, resolutions will become impossible. The Lord says to us through today’s Scriptures, “Whoever of you who does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Here, “to forsake all that one has” doesn’t just refer to throwing away all possessions. It is easy to throw away possessions. Compared to emptying of one’s heart, throwing away the things and property that one possesses is rather easy. It is truly simple. It is rather imperative to empty one’s heart, completely entrust in the Lord by saying, “Please do this and that for me Lord,” and believe in Him by laying aside one’s own will that says, “I will do this and that without fail.” Then, we the disciples of the Lord have to believe that the Lord is working for us and follow Him by faith. We must practice according to our faith. Only when we can do that, will we be able to become true disciples of the Lord. When we empty ourselves, we can then become disciples of the Lord. We get to become disciples of the Lord only when we follow the Lord by having accepted ourselves as being nothing and as those who are lacking.
When we look at our hymnbook, there is a song that goes, “♬This worthless body of mine making mistakes without the Lord. ♩It sails the sea like a ship without a sail, without the Lord. ♪Jesus. O, Jesus.” And this phrase points out that the faith of trying to do things by oneself without believing in the Lord is not right. Before we embark on something, that is, prior to thinking that we can do that thing by ourselves, we must first acknowledge that we are beings who cannot do anything if not for the Lord. We can genuinely follow the Lord and become His disciples only when we acknowledge that we can’t do anything if not for the Lord, and follow the Lord with the faith that He will help us and do for us all that we aspire.
Through today’s sermon, I will only reiterate this one thing. Dear fellow believers, we are those who cannot live without the Lord. We have bodies that are of no value, only making mistakes. I want you to think about what you can truly do, that is, what you can do on your own. I want you to think whether or not you can really follow the Lord through your volitional faith, that is, the faith of believing in yourselves instead of the faith of believing in the Lord. If we were to live by our own will, we cannot become the disciples of the Lord. We can become His disciples when we follow the Lord with the faith of obeying Him, having thrown away our possessions, our volitional faith of ‘I can do everything,’ and our own selves. This is what the Bible tells us.
Dear fellow believers, with regards to worldly things, one must live in struggles. Worldly things must be done that way. You cannot be carefree, not even stirring your finger. You must do these fleshly works with diligence and effort inspired by your strong will. But, with regard to following the Lord, that is, becoming a disciple of the Lord, our will as well as our strength are of absolutely no use. Such things of one’s own will are most cumbersome in becoming a disciple of the Lord. In becoming a disciple of the Lord, our strength and volition will only be a hindrance.
To Become a Disciple of the Lord and to Follow the Lord to the End, We Must Genuinely Believe in the Righteousness of the Lord
Today’s Scripture passage means that you will be able to follow the Lord to the end, if you become a disciple of the Lord by having faith in Him by throwing away yourself and emptying your heart. Dear fellow believers, can we follow the Lord with just our own volition? Are you convinced that you will never deny the Lord, never be disappointed, never betray the Lord, and never leave the Church forever? Also, do you think that you will be able to go on living by never leaving the side of God, never departing from the brothers and sisters, and never departing from the servants of God for all eternity? When the Apostle Peter was sharing fellowship with Jesus, Jesus said to the disciples, “You will all leave Me, and also, you will betray Me.” Just then, even though Peter said, “I don’t know what other disciples will do, but I will not betray You, Lord. I will not betray You until the day that I die,” he denied the Lord three times before the dawn of the next day. This is precisely what our own human volition is. Following the Lord with our own volition—this precisely is what a wrongful faith is. Trying to follow the Lord with just one’s own faith and capabilities is wrong. Our abilities have a limit. I am saying that our abilities are that of only ten thousand soldiers. That is, our will and strength and our own faith and capabilities are insufficient in following the will of the Lord. We cannot be whole with just our volition that goes, “I will follow the Lord to the end.”
Then, what can we do to become whole? The Bible tells us, “You must surrender. When the enemy is still afar, you must make peace. You must trust in the enemy by giving up all that you have and making peace with them.” Only then can we survive without having lost that war and suffering death. As such, if you want to become a true disciple of the Lord, the faith of believing that the Lord has saved us and that He will protect us and give us blessings is more important than the faith that is constructed with just your own volition. We must realize quickly that our own abilities have no power and that they are just nothing. Human beings are nothing without the Lord. Our own will and wisdom are mere nothing. Our own volitional faith itself is worthless, too. Only the Lord is the greatest Being. We human beings are mere creations. We are nothing. As we follow the Lord, if we were to follow with our own volitional faith, we will surely fail. However, it is this faith that enables us to become disciples of the Lord and to follow the Lord—the faith of having trust in the Lord, the faith of believing in the Lord, and the faith of one being able to say, by having emptied one’s own volitional heart, “I am lacking. Even though I can’t do anything, I have the faith that the Lord, who has saved me, will bless me and guide me.”
Dear fellow believers, this is what He is saying through today’s Scripture passage. Do you believe in this? People go on doing everything, even though they say, “I cannot do anything.” Even though they often say, “I can do everything,” they also say frequently, “I can do nothing at all.” This shows that we ourselves are greatly lacking. It shows that in order for you and me to become perfect, we are in need of this faith, the faith of believing in the works that have been carried out by the Lord and those that He will be carrying out. If you believe in the Lord like this, you can become His disciple and follow Him to the end. You can follow the Lord to the end, and you can receive and enjoy all the care and blessings that the Lord gives you. But if you trust yourself more in comparison with your faith in the Lord, you will fall in the end. You and I mustn’t follow our own will and faith as we lead a life of faith always. Rather than having devilish thoughts and arrogance of ‘I can do it,’ I want you to possess this faith of believing in the Lord—the faith that the Lord has saved you, that He will protect you, that He will always guide you to the green pastures, and to the edge of the water where you can rest, and that He can do everything for you even though you cannot do it.
Believe in the Righteousness of God
If you do so, that faith will become yours. We must lead our life of faith with such faith and belief. When we possess this faith of believing in the Lord, we can lead a proper life of faith. We can also receive blessings. More than anything else, you must quickly realize the fact that you are nothing. You must realize this quickly. Although you may think that you can do things on your own and that you are great, a human being cannot actually do anything. It has been like that, and it will continue to be like that. We cannot control the future according to our will and wishes; not tomorrow and not even each moment. You and I are such that we cannot do anything according to our will, not even for a second. All we can do is believe in and trust in the Lord. We can only confide in the Lord. There is nothing that we can do by our own volition. We must realize this quickly. Dear fellow believers, do you believe the fact that nothing is of importance except for our faith of believing in the Lord? The faith of believing in the Lord has allowed us to receive the remission of sins. The faith of believing in the Lord makes us happy and takes care of us. Furthermore, do you believe the fact that we will continue to live by the faith of believing in the Lord? Dear fellow believers, I want you to have this faith. I want you to believe this fact firmly.
At Seoksa-dong, a district in our city, there is a church for the physically challenged. They are planning to hold a meeting there, and there is a placard that reads, “I Can Do It.” Someone had said this slogan at all the revival meetings he was preaching in. I don’t remember who he was. But, one thing clear is that our Lord can do everything. Only the Lord can do everything. Only He is omnipotent.
But a strange phrase has entered today’s Christianity. What is that phrase? It is the phrase, “I can do it.” The phrase, “I can do it,” is something really good, if interpreted in a good way, but if we interpret it spiritually, this phrase is truly the words of the devil. “People can’t, but God can.” This is the correct phrase. Yet, the phrase, “I can do it,” means that the believers can carry out morning prayers well and can carry out one hundred days of overnight prayers well.
Pastor Robert H. Schuller once said that after having written a book titled, “Move Ahead with Possibility Thinking.” In Korea, one can find many frames holding the words, “I Can Do It.” But, what exactly can a human being do! What can a person do? What? Can a human being do whatever he or she wants to do? No, we cannot. Do you think the world would be like this if we had been able to do everything we wished to do? If we had such powers, the world would be really beautiful. If so, will we be living like this? Aren’t we living like this because we cannot? Because we cannot, only when we believe in and follow the Lord, we are guaranteed beauty and blessings. Only by faith can it be done, and the Lord is the only One who can do it. The Lord carries it out as such.
Dear fellow believers, more than anything else, we must quickly realize the fact that we ourselves are of no value. I am not saying that you shouldn’t do anything. “Because I cannot cook, I shouldn’t do it.” I don’t mean that. What I am saying is that we cannot do anything with our volition alone. We cannot carry out anything perfectly. I am saying that we cannot do things flawlessly. Hence, I am saying that we must realize that we are lacking and that we must believe in God. Do not believe in yourselves, but rather, believe in God. This is the path toward becoming a disciple of the Lord. Only those who realized quickly that they are lacking can become the disciples of the Lord and follow the Lord. With just our own capabilities, we cannot follow the Lord. With just our own capabilities, we cannot keep ourselves. With just our own capabilities, we cannot receive salvation from sins.
If we give up all that is ours and believe in the Lord, everything becomes possible. We get to become disciples of the Lord and receive salvation. We get to receive care and blessings from God for having become His children. I am saying that everything becomes possible in the Lord.
Dear fellow believers, do you want to become a disciple of the Lord? If you want to become a disciple of the Lord, you must know that you are of no value. Instead of believing in your own capabilities, you must believe in the Lord. You must always empty your heart. Did you and I not face many failures in trying to do something? I am sure there are many people who had experienced failures. There must have been many people who had suffered failures after having fought hard with their mouth tightly closed and with the thought that they could do things with their own strength. Today’s sermon isn’t just a simple doctrine. I am telling you that we human beings are truly nothing. I am telling you that having faith in God is the only thing that is perfect. I am telling you that only when we believe in the Lord, we will become perfect.
Dear fellow believers, do you believe this?