“This is the genealogy of Isaac, Abraham’s son. Abraham begot Isaac. Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian. Now Isaac pleaded with the LORD for his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived. But the children struggled together within her; and she said, ‘If all is well, why am I like this?’ So she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said to her:
‘Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.’
So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb. And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau. Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them. So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. And Esau said to Jacob, ‘Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.’ Therefore his name was called Edom. But Jacob said, ‘Sell me your birthright as of this day.’ And Esau said, ‘Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?’ Then Jacob said, ‘Swear to me as of this day.’ So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.”
Their Destinies Were Determined from the Womb
In the passage of Scripture we just read today twins were in the womb of Isaac’s wife Rebekah. The Bible says,
“Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.”
As you may know, the Doctrine of Election was established primarily based on this single passage of Scripture which has brought about the most hotly contested and persistent debates in Christian communities. God clearly said, “The older shall serve the younger.” Here the words, “the older” refers to Esau, the firstborn son of Isaac, and “the younger” refers to Isaac’s second born son Jacob. The skin of the firstborn was red and hairy, so he was named Esau, which means “hairy.” And the second born child grabbed hold of his twin brother’s heel as they were being born, and so he was named Jacob, meaning “heel holder” or “supplanter.”
The core issue concerning this is this. It seems when reading this account literally that God had predetermined that the older shall serve the younger from the time they were in their mother’s womb. This is the issue you and I must think deeply about today’s passage of Scripture to interpret it correctly. Why was the older destined to serve the younger while still in his mother’s womb? Why was the younger destined to prevail over the older brother? This is the profound will of God and at the same time, an unconvincing situation which we must ponder over deeply.
Abraham’s son Isaac came of age and got married. Nevertheless, when his wife was not able to bear any children, he earnestly prayed to God, saying, “God, please grant me my wish. Let me have children.” And so God answered His prayer allowing him to have twin sons. But even as they grew inside the womb they struggled with each other. They struggled against each other so violently that their mother was always trying to calm them down.
The Origin of Two Nations: Jacob and Esau
Rebekah was very concerned about the struggle between her two unborn babies and asked God, “These twins in my womb are struggling so severely, what’s going on here?” God replied and said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, two people shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.” Soon the time arrived to give birth and the firstborn was Esau followed by Jacob. As I mentioned earlier, the firstborn was healthy and very hairy so he was named Esau. And the second son grabbed hold of Esau’s heel as they were being born, so he was called Jacob. It is written that Jacob was frail and weak, unlike his brother Esau. In this manner, the names of Esau and Jacob both bore a meaning related to the account of their birth.
How then did these two sons grow up? It is written, “Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them. So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.” The different fates of Esau and Jacob were decided while they were still in their mother’s womb. The father loved the older son Esau, while the mother loved the younger son Jacob. One was strong and hairy while the other was weak and conniving. And the Bible says that God loved Jacob and hated Esau from the time they were in the womb of their mother. This was their predetermined destinies. Even after birth, Esau and Jacob were very different. Esau grew up to be a skillful hunter, a man of the field. But Jacob helped his mother around the home doing housework, chatting with her in the kitchen etc. It is clear as day and night that Rebekah loved Jacob more than Esau. Jacob was more reserved and would remain in the tents. But Esau with his bulging muscular body would hunt deer or buffalo and this would make his father proud. Thus, Isaac loved Esau but Rebekah did not love him as much as her husband Isaac did.
One day, Esau went out hunting and Jacob was cooking lentil stew. After returning home, Esau happened to see Jacob who was cooking red lentil stew. The lentil stew must have given off such a wonderful smell that he was drawn to it. Esau being famished asked Jacob for some of this lentil stew. Jacob answered him saying, “Sell me your birthright and I will give you this stew.” At that time Esau did not consider his birthright as being that important. And so he said, “Whether you have the birthright or not, it does not matter as I am stronger than you and so it will not change anything because I am your older brother, so give me a bowl of this lentil stew first and then I will give you the birthright.”
What did this birthright signify at that time? It meant the entire inheritance of whatever belongs to one’s father. Long ago in our country Korea the oldest son also received most of the parent’s inheritance. Nevertheless, Esau thought to himself, “I am much stronger than Jacob so what importance is this birthright to me anyway. I will never be reliant on Jacob. Nor will I receive help from my father. I am able to take and seize all things and make it my own.” The Bible tells us that Esau was someone who lived his whole life only trusting in the strength of his flesh.
From the time that Esau and Jacob were in the womb, God said, “The older shall serve the younger.” If the Almighty God had spoken this then it sure will be fulfilled. According to the Word of God, Esau became a man of the flesh. On the other hand, the Old Testament silently shows us that Jacob who God loved became a spiritual man. In other words, Jacob was a mild man who dwelt in tents.
Those who live out their lives of faith in God’s Church really do not have great strength or power in the flesh like Jacob did. Nevertheless, those who silently hear and follow after the Word of God while abiding in His Church are those who surely receive His blessings. On the other hand, those who trust in their own strength and say, “I can’t go to church right now, so you will have to wait a while. I will first make money and then after that I will return to church.” People like this will end up selling their salvation away like Esau. Truly, there are people like Esau who sell off their salvation right away when material benefits can be gained. Many people fall prey to the temptation of a position offered in some church, which says, “If you come to our church, we will give you a very important position.” Be extremely wary of this: To sell off your salvation for the material possessions of this world is the same as selling off one’s birthright for a bowl of lentil stew.
Esau, who appears in today’s passage of Scripture, was a man of the flesh. But his brother Jacob on the other hand was a spiritual man. Between these two sons, Rebekah loved Jacob more. Rebekah mentioned here signifies the Church. The reason is that a married woman often symbolizes the Church in the Bible. What does this Scripture passage then mean? The fact that Rebekah loved Jacob represents the fact that God and His Church loves Jacob-like saints. Yes, this is so true. Through this account God is directly speaking to you and me whom He loves like Jacob.
The main characters in today’s passage of Scripture are Rebekah and Jacob. When we watch a movie you can be sure that there is a large supporting cast behind it, but there usually are a main male and a female character. In the same way, the main characters in today’s passage of Scripture are Rebekah and Jacob. To be quite honest, there was not much that Jacob had to do by himself. He received his mother full support and all he did was to obey as his mother instructions.
God’s Ultimate Election
God tells us that from the moment Jacob and Esau were in their mother’s womb, “One people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.” This passage can be interpreted as follows: Even before they were born, God had already predetermined their destinies. This is commonly referred to by Christendom as “the election of God” or “the doctrine of election.” Propagators of this askew doctrine insist that God predestined or elected some people to be saved and others to be lost arbitrarily. This incorrect interpretation comes from a complete misunderstanding of the Word of God. When God said, “One people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger,” we can be sure that God did not teach us the doctrine of election by this passage. Then what does this passage really mean? Beginning from this point, I will begin to explain the true meaning of this Scripture passage.
Let’s first take a look at the passage of Scripture of the Epistle to the Romans chapter 9 verses 1 to 3.
“I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh.” This passage reveals the great burden that was in the heart of the Apostle Paul as he was preaching the gospel; this was after he had received the remission of sins. The Apostle Paul had an earnest and sincere desire that his countrymen, his family and his nation would all come to receive the remission of sins.
Look at the next verse, “Who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen. But it is not that the word of God has no effect. For they are not all Israel who are Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called.’ That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed” (Romans 9:4-8).
As you probably already know, Abraham had two sons, namely, Isaac and Ishmael. Isaac was born through the Word of God from Abraham’s lawful wife Sarah, whereas Ishmael was born through his female servant Hagar. Nevertheless God said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called” (Genesis 21:12), acknowledging only the descendants of Isaac as being the children of God. All sons are not legitimate just because they are born of the same father. In the same manner, if one is not of the promise of God, then this person cannot be a child of God. God made a clear promise in the Book of Genesis, saying, “Those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.”
God continued on to say, “For this is the word of promise: ‘At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.’ And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, ‘The older shall serve the younger.’ As it is written, ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated’” (Romans 9:9-13).
Here we find this very passage again, “The older shall serve the younger.” Why did God say that the older shall serve the younger and that the younger would become stronger of the two when Esau and Jacob were not yet born? Why did God elect Jacob and discard Esau? The clue of the answer to this question lies in the Word of God that goes, “That the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls.”
What is the will of God as revealed in today’s passage of Scripture? “Two children will be born. Out of these two children two nations will be formed. And the older shall serve the younger.” This was the will of God towards Jacob and Esau. In this manner, the will of God which was predetermined when they were still in their mother’s womb and it did not come to pass through human flesh or human strength but was fulfilled through the Word and blessings of God. God’s blessings and curses does not depend on the strength of humankind, but rather they are given according to the will of God. In order to reveal this truth to us, God predetermined the destinies of Jacob and Esau when they were still in their mother’s womb.
God Loved Jacob but Hated Esau
God said, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” As this verse says, God loved Jacob and hated Esau. This was solely God’s sovereignty. Then why did God determine and elect to do this? What was the reason that justified this outcome? God said, “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion’” (Romans 9:14-15). From the time he was in his mother’s womb, Jacob was predestined by the Word of God to be stronger than his brother and to be served by his elder brother. This was the will of God. Who then ended up receiving God’s blessings? According to God’s will, it is clear that Jacob received the blessings while Esau was cursed by God. What does this all mean then? It means that we as human beings cannot receive the blessings of God by our works or deeds. Romans chapter 9, verse 11 says, “That the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls.” God’s blessings come to pass just as He predetermines them to be fulfilled.
Then why should Esau serve Jacob during his whole lifetime? This was because Esau relied on the sufficiency of his flesh, and was not able to receive the blessings from God. God had predestined this to be. God calls people who are spiritually like Jacob. God grants His true power and blessings to those who are so weak that they cannot but yearn for His mercy and blessings. And to those who trust in the strength of their own flesh, God pours out curses upon them. God said, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” Those whom God hates receive His curses, and those whom God loves receive His blessings.
Dear fellow believers, who will receive blessings from God? The Jacob-like people will receive His blessings. Those who boast in the strength of their own flesh, in other words, those who are like Esau, will absolutely not be able to receive God’s blessings. The Almighty God has elected to do this. It cannot thus be true that God has elected some while rejecting others unconditionally. He has predetermined that those who trust in the strength of the flesh will be cursed and those who have faith in the righteousness of God will be blessed.
God’s Blessings and Curses Are Dependant Solely on His Calling
What is the source of God’s blessings and curses? God’s blessings and curses are not dependant on mankind’s works but on His calling. Then between Esau and Jacob, who did God call? It was certainly not Esau, who relied on the strength of his flesh and trusted in his own power. God calls and blesses those who are deceitful and weak as Jacob was—people who cannot hunt well but rather obey the words of their mothers and those who steal the birthright with a bowl of lentil beans. To someone like this, God pours out the fatness of the earth and the blessings of the dew of heaven. This is the will of God.
God said, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” How does Calvinistic theology interpret this passage? Calvinists insist that God has elected some people unconditionally even before they are born. But the reality is that they are on the wrong path. Rather, this passage of Scripture means that God does not call those who are powerful in the flesh but those who cannot but rely on the righteousness of God because they are weak and without strength in the flesh. And He blesses these humble individuals who believe in the righteousness of God. God intended to proclaim the gospel of the water and the Spirit to the people of the whole world through Jacob and Esau who were still in the womb.
How can we be saved from all of our sins? And who does God call? The Bible says, “The purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls” (Romans 9:11). Who does God call? God calls all sinners. God came to this world not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Then what does God desire to give to all the sinners whom He has called? God desires to blot out all their sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit and He desires to make them righteous. These people cry out, “Although I try not to commit sin, I am not well cultured so I cannot do it. I think I have to put in more effort. I should go to the mountains and pray while fasting but I still cannot be free from committing sin. Fundamentally, there is something wrong with me. If I get upset, my true self reveals itself.” God calls people who have such mindsets and hearts as this.
Why did our Lord come to this earth? He said, “For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Yes, God’s desire is to call sinners and to bless them as He blessed Jacob. In this manner, God’s blessings and curses are predetermined. They are determined within His merciful calling. People become God’s children not based on their works but by being called by Him. Being blessed by God or cursed by Him depends entirely on whether or not God calls someone. Truly, God calls those who are full of insufficiencies before Him, who trust and rely on Him absolutely, who seek His help and to those who acknowledge that they are indeed a spiritual and physical “lump of sin.” And He grants the gospel of the water and the Spirit to such people who are poor in spirit in order to make them His children by cleansing away all their sin. God calls the weak of this world and pours out the heavenly blessings and the blessings of the fatness of the earth upon them.
This Scripture passage also points out that God does not bless people who rely in the power of the flesh. God clearly tells us that these types of individuals will go straight to hell. God has cursed the proud who only rely in their own strength and do not rely in His righteousness—including those who boast about their wealth of the flesh and do not seek after the glory of God and also those who consider only their loftiness and do not recognize the exaltedness of God.
But how does God treat people who know how weak they are before the Word of God and those who know they cannot live without His blessings? God pours out His blessings on those who truly realize that they are nobody before Him like Jacob did. As evidenced here, all things depend on the blessings contained within the righteousness of God. The provision of all blessings and curses of someone depends on whether or not that person has submitted to the righteousness of God.
Romans chapter 9, verse 11 says, “That the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls.” A person who can stand before God is someone who acknowledges that he or she has sin and therefore is destined for hell. Then who does God truly call? Let’s look at the Gospel of Matthew chapter 9, verse 13, which says, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Who Then Does the Bible Consider a Sinner?
Let’s look at Mark chapter 7 verses 21-23. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” Among the people of this world, who has God called? The Lord said that He has not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. God also said that He does not desire those who offer sacrifices to Him and serve Him with human efforts of the flesh. He does not delight in those who try to please Him through efforts or good deeds. Rather, God desires to find those who wish to receive His mercy. He desires to pour out His blessing on people such as these. But God curses and rebukes those who are proud in His eyes.
Who does God call? He said that He calls sinners. Then who exactly is a sinner. Sinners are those who, regardless of their wills, have been born as the descendants of Adam and who have inherited all the sins from their ancestors. As you all may know, what comes out of our hearts are all evil thoughts. And do you know just how great a sin one of these thoughts turns into? Whenever we think, we tend to think of how to con or pilfer others, steal and become rich in the flesh. Just the fact that we think these evil thoughts is committing sin before God. God said that those who harbor any evil intentions are sinners as well. People normally consider wrong acts which they have actually committed as sins, but God regards someone as a sinner seeing even his or her sinful mind. So, based on the mere fact of an evil thought itself coming up in someone’s mind, God regards this person a sinner. And because of this, God desires to call those of us who think these evil thoughts in our hearts as grave sins in order to remove these stubborn sins from our hearts.
Truly, how much of an influence does one’s thoughts have on a person? If someone harbors wrong thoughts, then their actions go astray as well. Nevertheless, human beings are full of evil thoughts. “How can I make a lot of money?” “How can I seize the possessions of others without lifting a single finger?” These are all evil thoughts. God considers someone who thinks such thoughts to be a sinner. Nevertheless, the Lord said, “For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” He has called people who think evil thoughts in order to make them righteous.
Do you not harbor evil thoughts throughout your day? As for myself, I have clearly received the remission of sins but, nevertheless, I frequently have sinful thoughts. Time is precious and so there is not enough time to think proper thoughts. However, useless evil thoughts keep occurring in my mind. I know that such thoughts are evil and I try not to think them, but I cannot control my mind. Actually, this is the true nature of human beings. Because we were born as a brood of evildoers (Isaiah 1:4), the thoughts of humankind are all evil. The fact that everyone in this world was born as Adam’s descendants is the evidence that the fundamental nature of mankind is evil. And so, whenever we think, we think evil thoughts. Because Jesus, who is God, knew the hearts of man, He clearly taught us that every thought which comes forth from the heart is evil. Nevertheless, there is no need for us to despair because of the evil thoughts coming incessantly from our hearts. The reason is that the God of mercy saves those who honestly acknowledge that they are sinners before Him.
Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” Because the heart of mankind is lewd fundamentally, pornographic videos have become very popular these days. Many policemen and administrators of the law have been appointed because there are many offenders, thieves and con artists in this world. Nevertheless, we must learn to restrain ourselves. God told us that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Admit the Sinful State of Your Heart
Jesus is telling you and me to admit the sinful state of our hearts. Nevertheless, many people in this world are not aware of the sinful state of their hearts but rather slander God with their proud hearts. There are some religions which claim that their adherents are gods. Do they not tell their adherents to become Buddhas? There is a religion in Korea called “Daesunjinrihoe,” and this religion claims that their followers are all gods as well. Dear fellow believers, what is there that we can learn from our fellow man? These people claim that they are able to do whatever they want, but this is truly nonsense. Think about it. How can a human being become a god? Then why do such gods die? They die because they are mere creatures of the true God. Such an arrogant thinking that human beings can become gods even though they are mere creatures is the sin of opposing God and is deserving of hell.
For a person to put his or her evil thought into action is to commit a trespass, and evil thoughts in and of themselves are sins. What comes first? The evil thought or the action? The evil thought in one’s heart comes first. Because there are evil thoughts in the heart, such evil thoughts are turned into action. The twelve kinds of sins which God spoke of are bubbling about in the hearts of man. Nowadays, we are not able to see this happen much because we live in the cities, but a long time ago in rural areas, when it would rain, so many red earthworms would squirm out of the ground. So many earthworms would come out due to the waterlogged earth.
This is the same for the sins in our hearts. Sin is always present in our hearts, so that when the time or place is opportune, this sin will rear itself up. There are twelve holes of sins in the heart of man. As earthworms live inside holes in the ground, evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride and foolishness are all in the hearts of man. If crazy thoughts pop up, then because of the sin which rears itself up, a certain type of crazy behavior will exhibit itself. And when this mad thought goes back into its hole of the heart, then the person becomes normal again as if nothing had ever happened. Whenever some people drink, crazed thoughts exhibit themselves and they break chairs and injure their next door neighbor. Then when the heart of madness goes back into its hole, the heart of deceit pops itself up out of another hole. And what does this heart of deceit do? It starts out by saying, “Long time no see, my friend. How’s life these days? I’ll buy a drink today. Well, I have a great chance to make money. I don’t have any collateral and, if I just have this, I can open up a great, profitable shop. Can you be my guarantor by putting up your land as collateral? It’s absolutely safe. I’ll share the profit with you every month.” A heart of deceit comes up from its hole and deceives some person. What is the result of all this? Since the land of this foolish friend is held as collateral, this person uses the money which was obtained through this transaction in any way that he or she pleases. There are many people who use this method and then ultimately end up in jail.
Within His Righteousness, God Has Called Sinners Who Commit Sin Everyday
I went to a police station once because of a brother of my church. Dear fellow believers, the social status of a pastor is not low in our society. Many people absolutely do not disregard pastors. I spoke to the policemen, “I am a pastor and instead of him going to jail, I will go in his place as I am his head pastor.” They told me to write a petition for him. When this was completed I submitted a written petition on behalf of this brother, then he was released.
While I was in the police station for this short while, I saw many criminals who probably conned and defrauded others. Detectives were busy examining suspects. These people had stolen all of the money that others had saved up in their entire lifetime. Like this, there are deceitful thoughts in the heart of everyone. Whether one actually deceives others with his or her actions or just has thoughts of deceiving others, it is all the same. Because they have not received the remission of sins, they are all sinners before God.
Is there lewdness in the heart of man or is there not? Absolutely, there is. Because there are lewd thoughts in the heart of man, they commit lewd acts. Then, have people received the remission of all such sins? Have they or have they not? Those who have received the remission of sins by faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are without sin, but the people of this world who have not received the remission of sins will forever remain sinners.
Someone who is called by God is someone who recognizes the fact that he or she has this type of evil heart and that they cannot help but commit sin during their entire lifetime. God said, “That the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls.” Dear fellow believers, who does God call? Does God call someone who has a heart of deceit or of foolishness, but never commits such sins and, furthermore, appears to be well mannered? No. There is no reason for God to call someone who is well-mannered or exhibits false humility. These types of people could possibly place themselves one level higher than God in regards to their morality.
God calls people who make a lot of mistakes and are weak. He calls those who know that they have all sorts of evil sins in their hearts and those who know that they commit these sins over the course of their entire lifetime. God told us that he did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. This is truly the case. God has called only those who acknowledge that they are sinners before Him. And having called them, what does He proceed to do? He blots out their sins and makes them righteous so that they can confidently stand before Him as His children. This is the will of God. And in God’s calling within His righteousness, these blessings and curses have been predetermined and foreknown by God.
Who then receives blessings from God? Who can be made righteous and become His children? Who can receive the blessings of the fatness of this earth, and who can be shown mercy? It is the person who recognizes himself or herself as a sinner who is weak and full of shortcomings. This type of person will be called before God and will receive all of the blessings which God provides. All their sins will be cleansed away as white as snow and they will become the very children of God by His blessings. Only someone who acknowledges that they are a grave sinner will receive the blessings of eternal life, life in Heaven, all of the inheritance which God gives and the blessing of living together with God the Father for eternity.
It Is Futile for People to Try Not to Commit Sin, No Matter How Hard They Try
What was it like in the case of Esau who appears in today’s Scripture passage? Esau is someone who absolutely could not receive God’s blessings. It was never going to happen.
Dear fellow believers, who in this world can be made righteous? Someone who is weak and helpless can be made righteous. Someone who is weak or lacking and is full of mistakes—this kind of person can be made righteous by the grace of God. Nevertheless, those who are “nice people” who are very careful in order not to commit sins cannot be made righteous as they are not able to admit to the fact that they are sinners. Monks are disciplined to avoid looking at women who happen to pass by. Nevertheless, someone who admits his or her sinful nature like me cannot help but look at them no matter how hard they try not to.
A long time ago when I was a theological student, I was told by a seminary professor that I should cry out, “Lord, Lord, Lord” three times if I was to walk past a theatre and to not look to either side around me. I did as he told me to. Each time I went past a movie theater, I would say “Lord” three times and passed by. But then after a while, I said to myself, “I should just look at the billboards and see what is advertised on them.” And so, I would turn around and take a look at the pictures on the billboards. Of course, I’m not saying that what I did was right. Nevertheless, I am saying that there was a part of me that could not resist the temptation to take a look at the billboards. But God sought someone who was weak like me and has saved me by making me righteous and whole.
You don’t know how quick tempered I am. If I get really upset, I’m not able to say anything. Instead of words, my fists want to do the talking first. How many times do you think someone like me may have messed up over the course of my lifetime? Despite all of this, God saved someone such as me.
Please pay attention to this. People who receive blessings from God are not those who are whole, but those whose hearts are dirty and those whose behavior is not perfect but lacking before Him. Only those have been born as Adam’s descendants, as sinners, can be made righteous. God calls such people and makes them righteous, makes them His children, and gives them the blessings of eternal life and the blessings of the fatness of the earth. This is the will of our just God.
Are you holy people without any thoughts of fornication? No. Some of my friends are so gentle and they use such refined language. Nevertheless, they still remain sinners. They pray with tears day in and day out. I used to cry a lot before as well. I would pray in tears at least once a day. I used to pray, saying, “Lord, I’ve sinned again. I believe that you died on the Cross for such a wretched sinner like me.” But my sin would never go away.
What did I do after that? Because my prayers of repentance in tears did not seem to work, I thought to myself that it would be better for me to pray and fast for three days. I thought that if I did this my sins would be forgiven. So I cried while ignoring the nagging hunger pains in my stomach. Of course, my prayers of repentance sounded very holy. I would pray, saying, “Oh, God the Holy Father, I ask and pray that You will forgive me of all my sins.” Everything I said pretty much meant the same thing, but I would make use of beautiful words in my prayers. Because I had not received the remission of sins back then and had nothing to be proud of, it became my habit to string long sentences together with empty words when I was praying.
When people saw me praying and fasting, they would remark that I seemed to be very spiritual. My tears would flow and stream to the floor. How much energy I must have used up? Once I was done praying and fasting, my body would be in a mess. After fasting and praying for three days, I would be determined not to sin again, saying, “Lord, how much agony did you go through on the Cross? I pray that you forgive me of my sin, and I will never commit this sin again.” I would resolve in my heart to do so, and I would sing praises in remembrance of Jesus dying on the Cross for me as I was coming back home from the retreat center. How refreshing and delighted my heart was on my way back home.
But this was nothing more than a feeling of being compensated for my efforts. I would come back home thinking, “I have sinned a lot, but I have fasted and cried this much so God will take care of the rest.” And I would confidently and joyfully sing praises to the Lord. But what was the result of all of this? The sin in my heart absolutely would not go away. So the next day I would start all over again. Thinking back—over a three day period, I would rarely feel okay for even one day. Five days after I had fasted and prayed, I had become a grave sinner again. And so I would pray again, “Lord, I seek and pray that you would forgive me of my sins.” And if I had committed a greater sin this time around, I would decide to pray and fast for five days.
Do you know how difficult it is to pray and fast? I’m not that good at fasting and prayer. Once I was so weak and could not even talk that I had to write on a piece of paper when I needed to say something to others. All I could think about was eating some food. If I were to stare at the ceiling lying on my bed, all kinds of foods would appear and then disappear before my eyes. It’s very important to look at the calendar and at a clock to count how many days and hours are left. If I felt like I was going to go crazy, then I would quickly eat some scorched rice-tea. But still I would get weary. I would pour water in a kettle and drink so much of that scorched rice-tea. In this way, I did so many acts of hypocrisy.
But even after fasting and prayer for five days, within two days I would sin again. And so I would offer prayers of repentance again and again, saying, “Lord, I ask and pray that you forgive me of my sins.” I prayed for five years like this. It took five years for my righteousness to be broken down. The shell of my righteousness was broken first, and then it took another five years for the core of my own righteousness to be broken.
Our Own Righteousness Must Be Broken
When I read the Gospel of Mark chapter 7 a long time ago, I would think to myself that this passage was directed towards the Pharisees and not towards me. But as ten years passed by, I came to realize that this Scripture passage applied to me. I did not know that I was a lewd person. I would look at women but after harboring lewd thoughts for a second, I would come back to my regular state of mind. As time went on after I became a Christian, the more frequently these lewd thoughts were coming up from my heart.
As time went on, all that was left was keeping up a good appearance. I became a person who walked gently, talked politely and acted as if I was a holy person. Before I stood behind the pulpit, I would place my Bible down and kneel down and pray first. I tried to attend every revival meeting held in my town. Whenever I attended such meetings, my eyes would light up before the Word of God. And when I was told to receive the Holy Spirit, I would yearn to receive Him. Nevertheless, my eyes would be alert only during the revival services. Once they were over, I would return to my usual state of mind that had no strength. It was like the calm which comes after the storm.
It took ten years for my sense of self righteousness to be dashed to pieces. Ten years after I first professed to believe in Jesus, my sense of self righteousness was broken down. Before I came to believe in Jesus, I used to think that I was quite an alright and upright person. Truly, I seemed to be a really good person. I would help a child who was lost, carry an elderly lady on my back to her home and report and hand over lost money to the police station. Having a strong sense of justice, if a helpless person was getting beat up on the street, I would go help that person.
But this sense of self righteousness was indeed broken to pieces. My will was shattered along with my sense of self righteousness. I thought I was a man of justice and duty and was good and proper. However, as I got older, I began to see how wretched I truly was. The longer I was a Christian, the more my evil nature would be exposed. At that time, if God had called me and judged me according to my works, I would have been destined for hell.
Nevertheless, our God did not call me according to my own works, but he called me when I admitted that I was weak and that I was “a lump sin.” He called you and me and all the wretched people who were earnestly mourning over their sinful natures. He called such humble people, saved them and made them whole by making them righteous.
When we look at today’s Scripture passage, we are able to learn that the hypocrites who rely only on their works in order to stand before God cannot receive the remission of their sins. There are so many Esau-like people in this world today. These kinds of people will never be able to receive the remission of sins, but will be cursed and will go to hell. Beware of this. Those who are strong in the flesh and are proud of their many good deeds will be cast away from the presence of God. God clearly said, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” Do you believe in these Words of God?
God calls sinners. He does not call the righteous. People who have good behaviors in the world are not the righteous. They are simply sages. There are many sages in this world. Buddha was a sage as well. What was Buddha’s end? He was cursed and went to hell. This is what Buddha said. He said, “Human beings have much agony, worry, suffering and anxiety. How can I then escape from all of these things?” Nevertheless, he did not seek after the Savior who could free him from all of these burdens, but he used his own might to strive to escape from these problems. Someone like this will be cursed. People like this will go to hell. Polite and good people, who become elders and pastors based on their good manners, will also be cursed by God. They will absolutely be cursed.
Those who will be blessed by God and those who will be cursed by God have already been chosen. God has chosen them and elected them. God pours out His blessings only on those who acknowledge that they are grave sinners. God separates mankind into two groups, and He states that He will curse some and bless others. Therefore, all hypocrites will be cursed. They try to live properly but it is not easy for them to do so.
“Why am I like this? I am not able to do anything right. Please save me. I cannot do anything righteous on my own. I am not a good person. I am merely a lump of sin. If I were to be judged according to Your Law, I would go to hell.” People like this acknowledge their true selves before God will receive the blessings of God. Most people are able to admit that they are sinners, but they do not agree that they are people who will go to hell based on the Word of God. But what does the Bible say about this? The Bible says that we cannot escape going to hell if we have even a tiny little sin and that that the wages of sin is death. If we have sin in our hearts, then we will absolutely go to hell. Because every person has committed sin, they will be cast into the hell fire which never quenches. Christians today confess that they are sinners, but it is difficult for them to confess that they are going to hell. This is the reason why many people praise Jesus while they themselves still remain sinners. They will live this way until they eventually are cast into hell.
Dear fellow believers, we are people who are like Jacob. The righteous are like Jacob, and Christian sinners are like Esau. Those who are cursed have a lot of strength in the flesh and are full of self righteousness based on their many good deeds. They will go to hell. But those who live on this earth like Jacob will definitely go to Heaven. Look at the righteous. They are just like Jacob. They are not strong, not courageous and they seem that they will not be able to get by or do well on this earth. When the “Esaus” of this world fight with the “Jacobs” of this world, the Esau always wins. But how about their ultimate outcome before God? What will it be like? Esau was someone who did not know about his weaknesses or shortcomings whereas Jacob knew them well. This was why Jacob was blessed and Esau was cursed.
Cain and Abel
In Genesis chapter 4, we can see the story of Cain and Abel. Between these two brothers, Abel was the one who was blessed by God but Cain was not; he was cursed by God. Both Cain and Abel were Adam’s sons, but why did one go to Heaven and the other son go to hell? The reason was that Cain went before God with his own works. God has established His criterion that He will choose only those who recognize their weaknesses and shortcomings. And, based on this standard, God elected Abel who came before Him acknowledging his weaknesses and deficiencies.
Cain was a farmer. He grew crops and offered them to God. A certain ignorant pastor said regarding this, “God said that He would not receive Cain’s offerings because they were leftovers from Cain’s table.” But this is absolute nonsense. Anyone who believes in God will never offer leftovers from what he or she has eaten. Even those who believe in false religions do their best to please their gods; therefore no one who believes in God brings something that was leftover from a meal. The actual reason God did not accept Cain’s offerings was because he offered his crops, which were the fruit of the land. God desired to receive live animals rather than crops from the earth.
This Cain was very healthy like Esau, the first son of Isaac. But Abel was rather frail, just as his name means “breath.” As time went by, Abel tended sheep on the mountainside. And when he made sacrifices to God, he would take a lamb and cut it up and offer it before God. As he made these sacrifices, Abel professed, “God, receive this offering. I am someone who should have died like this lamb. But You have saved me who should have died like this offering. As you had saved my father and mother, so you have saved me as well. I am a person with weaknesses and deficiencies. I am someone who needs ransom to be made. I am someone who needs to receive the remission of sins through the offering of a sacrifice like this.” When God heard this, He wholly accepted Abel’s sacrifice.
Dear fellow believers, you should take this truth into your minds and hearts. God called people with weaknesses, deficiencies and shortcomings like Abel. God clearly said it is His will that “the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls.” God’s blessings are given to those who are full of weaknesses and shortcomings. Cain, who went before God relying on his own merits was cursed, and Abel who acknowledged his weaknesses and deficiencies before God was blessed.
Actually, God set a mark on Cain, lest anyone found him and killed him (Genesis 4:15). God then said to Cain, “I have also blotted out all your sin. Whoever tries to kill you will receive a seven fold punishment. I will give you a mark of salvation so that nobody will be able to kill you or harm you.” But what did Cain do? He rejected this mark from God, and went away from the Lord God. So, it is proper that he would go to hell.
The Woman Caught in the Act of Adultery
In John chapter 8, there is the account of a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Since she was caught in the act of adultery, what was to happen to her? If she was treated strictly according to what the Law said, then she should have been stoned to death. But despite this, Jesus said to this woman, “Neither do I condemn you.” At that time there were Pharisees and scribes gathered together along with many good and righteous people. Nevertheless, the only person who truly received God’s blessings was the woman who had been caught in the very act of adultery. All the rest were cursed by God.
Dear fellow believers, what does this account teach us? Among the many people in this multitude, God blessed only the woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. Does this mean then that God blesses people who sin a lot and that He curses people who do not sin? No. All human beings cannot help but commit sin because of their weaknesses and shortcomings. We were all destined to go to hell. Everybody in this world must go to hell unless they are saved by God. In other words, the people who were gathered there were all the same in that they were all sinners. God, in order to teach the truth that He had come not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance, blessed this woman who was considered by her accusers to have committed the gravest sin of all.
Christians normally believe that they should be virtuous in every circumstance they are in. They say things like, “Since we believe in God, we must live morally and ethically.” But this is something that should be discussed after they have truly received the remission of sins in their hearts and not before. If sin is still in their hearts, they must first respond to the calling of God who desires to cleanse sinners from their sins. Those who do not respond in the way God calls them, but rather attempt to go to Heaven by good deeds and service will assuredly be cursed by God like Esau was. Esau represents those who are cursed by God. You and I must take to heart today’s message from the Word of God and must not follow in the footsteps of Esau.
The Higher Your Position in the Church Goes Up, the More Your Works Are Emphasized,
When Christians hold higher positions within their churches, they emphasize their works even more. But God says that He never gives blessings in return for the works of human beings. Despite these words from God many false teachers solely put emphasis on virtuous works. Because you are a deacon or an evangelist, you must do this and that. They teach like this: “If you participate in all night prayer meetings or prayer meetings for a hundred days, then you will receive a higher position in the church. If you tithe faithfully, you will become rich. And if you serve the church faithfully, this or that blessing will be given to you.” In this manner, works are greatly emphasized. False believers are able to follow after this, but a genuine saint who believes in God in truth cannot agree with this. There are so many clergymen in this world who lead Esau-like people to hell, but there are definitely also ministers who lead Jacob-like people before God so that they can receive His blessings. It is the same for lay people. There are some among the people of God whose status in society is high and their daily life is spotless in appearance but they truly know of their insufficiencies and limitations before God, and so they respond to God’s calling through His Word and receive the blessings of the remission of sins. These types of people join the Church of God by responding to God’s calling. And they do absolutely not listen to the words of Esau-like pastors.
Some people who hold positions in worldly churches quit their positions in these churches. They decide to do this, saying, “How can I be an elder when I am so weak and sinful like this? I will attend church as a lay believer instead.” Someone like this will look at our revival meeting poster which says, “Receive the Remission of Sins,” and will think to themselves, “Ah, according to God’s Word, the purpose of God stands not of works but of Him who calls and God desires to pour His blessings on me in this manner.” Such a person eventually receives the remission of sins and faithfully gives thanks to God. This person becomes a saint who truly praises the righteousness of God with thanksgiving, being a weak and insufficient person but having accepted God’s love. This person becomes a saint and a servant of God who always knows of his or her weaknesses and shortcomings, but at the same time, always boasts of the righteousness of God.
Truly, the righteousness of man amounts to nothing. God has saved those of us who are not able to do anything with our own righteousness. God is right and we are wrong. And, God has given His blessings to those of us who are weak and deficient in all things.
In this world, there are people who are like Esau and people who are like Jacob. Truly, when we examine the people in the Bible, they can be divided into these two groups. Those who are like Jacob go to Heaven, and those who are like Esau go to Hell. Everyone who attempts to live a good and moral life on this earth will end up going to Hell. And, those who think that they cannot enter into Heaven because of their deficiencies and shortcomings will end up in Heaven. How ironic this is!
But take heed of this: People who were well off on this earth—those with high positions in society, those with a lot of money, those who were good looking, those who had a lot of children, those whose businesses did well and those who did a lot of good works and helped others—all of these people are sitting in hell along with Esau. Those who are in Heaven are people who, although they are not capable in speech, are humble and weak, have received the remission of sins from God by recognizing their true selves.
What does this all mean then? It means that God absolutely will not tolerate people who are proud. God has elected to send everyone who boasts in themselves to hell. God has decided this. And through this, He exhibits His Almighty power. God is saying, “There is no god other than Me. Why do you boast in yourselves so much? You are people who only commit sins. I will cleanse you from all your sins and make you as white as snow. Return back to Me.” Even now, God is calling those who admit that they are grave sinners.
Dear fellow believers, please think about this. Are there not many people even nowadays who are like Esau? Because they are strong like Esau, they are also very noisy. Because they have a lot of physical energy, after the first service on Sunday, they go into the prayer room down in the basement and pray some more. Are they plotting some political movement? What are they doing in the basement in the first place? As if they were yelling some political creed, they cry out, “Lord, Lord!” And they speak in tongues making sounds like that of goats and pigs. Is speaking in tongues truly like that? God made human beings to make the sounds of human beings. You must know this fact that when the disciple’s first spoke in tongues, people around them comprehended what they were speaking (Acts 2:6-11).
The sermon that I am giving you today is not based on my own thoughts but is based on the Word of God. What I am speaking to you comes from Romans 9:10-13, which says, “And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, ‘The older shall serve the younger.’ As it is written, ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.’” God clearly loved Jacob and hated Esau. In other words, God loves those who seek after His mercy and those who pray for His salvation. Then, what kind of people must you all be? You must know your weaknesses, shortcomings and deficiencies before God and seek after His mercy.
Are We like Jacob, or like Esau?
What kind of people are we really? Are we like a Jacob or an Esau? We are little Jacobs. If we are truly like a Jacob, then we must accept the Word of God just as it has been spoken. If God has said that He has blotted out all our sins, then we must take Him by His Word and exclaim, “Hallelujah! You really saved me!”
But what about people like this man Esau? They trust in and rely on their own strength and do not accept the Word of God. And because they do not recognize that they are sinners before God, they do not seek after the remission of sins from God. On the other hand, Jacob told a lie every time he spoke. He was a conniving person who deceived his brother and was someone who robbed his brother of his birthright by hanging onto the skirt of his mother. In short, he was a man who acknowledged his sinfulness. When someone who commits many sins and has acknowledged his sins like this hears God saying, “I will blot out all your sins and bless you,” he responds from his heart by saying “Thank You, my Lord!”
In order to receive God’s blessings, Jacob pretended to be his elder brother before his father Isaac. He put on goatskins and changed his voice and said, “Father, your firstborn son Esau is here.” But then his father said, “But your voice sounds like Jacob. Come closer.” When Isaac stroked Jacob he recognized him to be Esau because of this hair. And so Isaac said, “The voice sounds like Jacob, but from the hair on your skin, you must be Esau.” Then Isaac proceeded to bless Jacob with every blessing. I will speak more about this tomorrow.
It is quite fortunate for us to be part of the people who are receiving God’s blessings like Jacob. We are truly fortunate. If things had been a little bit different, we could have been people like Esau. What would have happened if we would have been people who were like Esau? It would have been disastrous. Truly, God has led us thus far and made us to be like Jacob. We have become today’s Jacobs and accepted the salvation of God just the way it is. I am truly thankful to God for this.
Truly, in the Kingdom of Heaven, only righteousness exists. If the God of Justice said that He has blotted out all our sins, then they have truly been blotted out. When God speaks we must believe Him and in His Word, and say, “Yes, Lord. You are right!” Then we will absolutely be blessed by God. But those who do not believe in the Word of God and say, “No, the Word of God is not true,” will absolutely receive curses. This is the clear principle which God has established.
The Bible says, “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion’” (Romans 9:14-15). There can be no unrighteousness with God. God established that if we become like Jacob we will be blessed and if we become like Esau we will be cursed. He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” Here, that God had mercy on human beings means God has shown pity on us. He says, “If I do not save you human beings who were created in My image, you will all go to hell and suffer forever. I cannot stand to see that happen. I feel pity on you so I cannot just watch this happen. I am going to save you completely.” After creating us human beings with this plan in mind, because we were destined for hell because of the sins we had committed as Adam’s descendants, God took pity on us. God predetermined to love those who were like Jacob and hate those who were like Esau. God predetermined that those who come before Him to receive blessings based on their human efforts will be cursed. But He also predestined to save those who ask for His help because they are weak and sinful and cannot help but commit many sins although they want to do what is right.
Who Are the Blessed before God?
The blessed before God are those whom God has pity on. Then who are those who receive God’s curses? The curses of God will be upon those who continually boast before God of their righteousness, saying, “I fast and pray twice a week, made an offering of $50,000 for the church building project, will offer $100,000 more in the future, and I have never missed early Morning Prayer meetings.” God clearly said, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.”
Whether we receive God’s blessings or not is dependent on whether or not God shows pity on us. Remember this. Among the many individuals who appear in the Bible, those whom God showed pity on were blessed and those who were proud before Him were all cursed. This is why the Bible says, “So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy” (Romans 9:16).
Who is the person “who runs” here? It refers to Esau. As I mentioned in the introduction, Esau was a man of the field. It could have been possible that he ran the 100 meters in around 9 seconds. He was an incredible person. If he would go running, he would run so fast. It would take other people several strides to keep up with a single stride of his. What is God saying to us from this passage? This Scripture passage says that God did not bless Esau because he ran so well.
What does this all mean? It means that God’s blessings do not depend on the abilities of human beings. Rather, being blessed by God comes about only by receiving God’s compassion. Keep this in your mind. By receiving the mercy of God, we receive blessings, are made righteous, receive eternal life, and receive the blessings of the fatness of this earth.
Therefore, in order to become righteous, we must receive the pity of God. It is false pride to confess, “God, I am a sinner. Even though I have sin, because I believe in You, You must ignore my sin. I believe that You will allow me to enter Heaven because I believe in You.” But the Almighty God has already established this principle: Whoever has sin must go to hell. God has established this principle by saying, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Then, what will happen if a person thinks to himself or herself, “God is merciful and full of love so He will not judge me?”
God will then say to such a person, “Do you know Me that well? You are indeed like Esau who was to be cursed.”
This person will then respond, “No, that is not just. I pray for repentance everyday and do everything right.”
Then God will say to them, “But how do you know me? Your thoughts and My thoughts are different. Be cursed and go to Hell.”
“Why do You treat me like this even as I believe in You?”
“You are not one of My children. I have never had pity on you. Do I remove your sins each and every day? The wages of sin is death. In order to blot out the sins of the world once and for all, I sent My Son and have perfectly accomplished your salvation. But you want me to forgive you of your sins again and again? If this be so then I would have to send my Son again. In order to pay the price, blood must be shed. And you are telling Me that I must send my Son again and have Him be nailed on that horrendous Cross again and again. You cursed one! You are like the Devil. Just go into hell.”
God will pronounce these things in a much more horrific manner. And God will cast such a person into the fire that never goes out. The God of Justice will never tolerate people like this.
Of course, the salvation of the remission of sins is completed by the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, salvation is accomplished by the water, the blood and the Spirit, not only by the blood. Firstly, we must have our sins washed away. By believing in the baptism of Jesus Christ, we must receive the remission of sins. To not believe in the water, the blood and the Spirit wholly, but to seek to receive the remission of sins everyday is to run as Esau did. Regarding the blessings of the remission of sins, God says that it cannot be given to those who run. No matter how much we serve others, do virtuous deeds, do missions work, establish churches, give material offerings, do charity work or do evangelism, in order to be saved by God, we must receive pity from Him. We must ask God for His pity, asking, “God I was destined to go to hell. Please save me.” We will receive God’s blessing of salvation when we fully understand the mystery of baptism with the heart that the Son of God bore all of our sins in the Jordan River and when we also understand that the punishment on the Cross was to bear the punishment of hell in our place. Only through faith in the Word of the salvation of God can we receive the blessings of God.
All Things Are of God and through Him and to Him
God said, “So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy” (Romans 9:16). Everyone desires to go to Heaven, this is a fact. But the fact that everyone desires to go to Heaven does not mean everyone will go to Heaven. And we cannot try to bribe God either. Then how can we enter into Heaven? We can enter Heaven through our faith in God. Whether we will eventually be blessed or cursed depends on genuine faith that believes in God.
The Bible says, “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36). Dear fellow believers, all things are of God, or in other words, come from God. Even if we believe in Jesus in order to go to Heaven, if there is even a speck of sin in our hearts, then we must go to hell. Only those who hear and believe the Word that Jesus blotted out all their sins and accept the love and grace of God can also receive all of these blessings and receive eternal life which God gives to those who admit their wretchedness.
Therefore, we must know exactly how God has saved us. One must not be ignorant of this Truth and simply believe in this Truth as their hearts desires or dictates. Do you think that because you attend a large church and speak in tongues that you will go to Heaven? Just because we human beings want to be blessed by God does not mean that we will necessarily be blessed by Him. Just because someone earnestly desires and tries to go to Heaven does not mean that this person will be allowed to enter Heaven. Rather, God has already chosen those who will be blessed and those who will be cursed. Those who trust in their own strength as Esau did receive God’s curses. However, those who know their true sinful selves, those who listen attentively to the Word of God, and those who honor the Law of God and acknowledge that they cannot keep the 613 commandments which prohibit us from doing this or that—these are the humble who receive Heaven as their own. God has clearly and definitely elected to do this. God only saves those who tremble with fear before His Word. He saves those who acknowledge the Law of God and the Word of God, and those who know that they are grave sinners who were only destined for hell. God has elected to bless those who openly admit after hearing the Word of God and confess, saying, “I have an evil heart and I sin a lot. Yes, it is as Your Word says Lord.” In other words, God has established to save only those who say from the heart, “Yes, You are right,” in regards to whatever He says.
Truly, many people believe in Jesus because they want to go to Heaven. But not every Christian will be able to go to Heaven. Let’s listen in to the conversation between two people, Jim and Mark, for a minute.
Jim says, “I’ve believed in Jesus for twenty years and I’m part of a large denomination. Why should I go to hell?”
Mark says, “Then do you not have any sin in your heart since you have believed in Jesus for so long now?”
Jim replies, “Of course, I do have sin.”
Mark says, “If you have sin, how can you go to Heaven?”
Jim says, “One goes to Heaven just by believing in Jesus only.”
Mark then says, “How do you get to Heaven when you still have sin in your heart?”
Jim replies, “Even if I have sin, because I believe in Jesus, He will look upon me as being righteous, and so I will be able to get into Heaven.”
Mark then says to this, “Then you are making God out to be a liar.”
Of these two people, who will go to Heaven? It is Mark who believes that the sin in one’s heart is completely blotted out by Jesus who came by the water and the blood. When we believe in the Word of God that He has blotted out all our sins, then the sins in our hearts are completely removed. The reason is that the Word of God has power just like God Himself. Therefore, a person who has truly receives the remission of sins before God does not have any sin left in his or her heart. And this person has accepted God’s blessings and salvation not in his or her own merits but by God’s grace.
God’s election does not mean that He chose some and did not choose others arbitrarily. God chose everyone the same, but those like Esau who boast in their flesh, God cast away. God, who is full of love, does not say unconditionally, “I love you and I don’t love that person.” Because human beings are all weak and all need His mercy, God calls everyone in this world within His righteousness. He says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He says, “Come to Me those who are heavy laden and are heading for hell.” Yes. The Lord has indeed called everyone unto Himself within His grace of salvation. Nevertheless, there are those who say that they are not lacking or insufficient in anything from their standpoints. But there are others who acknowledge that if God sends them to Heaven, they will go there, and if He sends them to hell they will end up going there. God has chosen to bless only those who acknowledge what their true selves are like.
Dear fellow believers, how many times is a street vendor allowed to shout out and solicit customers for business? It is entirely up to that street vendor. When even street vendors do shout out to solicit customers as they please, why cannot Almighty God do as He pleases in regards to sending us to Heaven or hell, or gives us blessings or curses? Although people may believe in Jesus the same, some as they were elected and chosen by God will go to Heaven, and those who are not chosen will go to hell. This is the will of God.
“For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.’ Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?’ But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Does not the potter have power over the clay, form the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As He says also in Hosea:
‘I will call them My people, who were not My people,
And her beloved, who was not beloved.’
‘And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them,
‘You are not my people,’
There they shall be called sons of the living God’” (Romans 9:17-26).
In conclusion, the summary of the above passage of Scripture is as follows: God softens the hearts of those who deserve to be blessed and hardens the hearts of those who deserve to be cursed. The fact that Almighty God does as He pleases to those whom He wills is in order to reveal His power. In order to reveal His power as God and to show what His judgment is like, God hardened the heart of Pharaoh. What if Pharaoh would have said to God, “You are God and I am a human being, so I surrender to You. Please be merciful to me. I am only human. Why are you rebuking me? Then Pharaoh would have been able to receive the genuine remission of sins from God.
Nevertheless, when Pharaoh heard the Word of God, he said, “What! Who is Jehovah God that He should meddle in my affairs?” When things got a bit difficult, Pharaoh would act as if he was obeying God, but when things got better, he then would antagonize God once again. God allowed Satan to harden the heart of Pharaoh. And so Satan spoke to Pharaoh, saying, “You should not submit to God. No matter what anyone says, you are the king. The king of Egypt is the king of the whole world.” And so Pharaoh resisted God over the course of the ten plagues, even after his eldest son was killed by God. As he would not cast away his own self righteousness and pursued after the Israelites, God eventually destroyed him in the Red Sea.
Dear fellow believers, why do you think Pharaoh’s heart was so hardened at that time. God purposefully hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that the whole world could know how stern and precise God’s wrath and judgment is. Be aware of this. God shows mercy on those whom He wishes, and to those He wishes to show His wrath God hardens their hearts. The Almighty God can do this. Is it wrong for God to do this? No. Our God who created the universe and everything in it can do as He pleases. Thus, anyone who cries out before God, “I’m weak and helpless. Please help me,” will receive mercy from God. But if anyone listens to the Word of God and then hardens his heart, this person will be judged, cursed and sent to hell. This is to show us how fearful and how accurate God’s judgment is and to reveal to us the power of the Almighty God.
There are those on this earth who confess, saying, “I’m really weak and helpless, but God, please save me. If You save me, I can go to Heaven and if not I will go to hell. It is not up to me. It is in Your Hands.” To people like this, God pours out His blessings upon them by saying, “You should believe in Me. I have saved you. I sent My Son and He bore the sins that you commit until the day you die by being baptized in the Jordan River. Do you believe this? And, I had My Son to be judged on the Cross. I killed My Son so that He could die in your stead. My Sons’ death is your death, and His resurrection is your resurrection. By raising My Son from the dead, I made you alive.” Those who believe in and acknowledge the Word of God will receive God’s mercy and His pity. God says, “You are My child. That arrogant angel opposed Me and challenged Me, but I have defeated him completely. Even though you were My mere creation, you now are My children because you have received My love and pity.”
It Is Absolutely Up to God
Truly, it is up to the All-Mighty God to either bless or curse us. And, there is not any injustice in God when He blesses or curses us. People who challenge God over His Word although they are nothing more than His creatures deserve to go to hell and be cursed. Nevertheless, God who is full of love had pity on even these types of people and blotted out all their sins. And so, whoever repents and turns back from one’s sinful ways will be able to receive the remission of sins from God. God says, “Do you know that you are wrong? Do you know that you are heading for hell? I have already blotted out all your sins by sending My Son to this earth. Receive the remission of sins by believing in My Son whom I have sent to you and by receiving My love of compassion towards you. Then if you do this, times of refreshing will come from Me and you will receive the Holy Spirit as a gift. You will also receive the blessings of becoming the righteous and My children.”
Dear beloved saints, we do not have the right to challenge God over His acts for God is the Creator and we are nothing but His creatures. It is written, “What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory” (Romans 9:22-23). We were born as the descendants of Adam who were to receive God’s wrath. If we were to be judged by our works then we were destined for hell; if we were to be judged by our thoughts, we also were destined for hell; and no matter how much effort we put into our lives, we were the objects of God’s wrath from our very birth. Nevertheless, so that we could know the power of His salvation, He endured with much longsuffering, overlooked our wrongdoings, and saved those of us who were the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction. God made us His children not because we had done something good, but because He predestined to make us His children by clothing us in His love and mercy. This is further explained by the following passage of Scripture: “What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory.”
When God created man, He made him in His image. But Satan enticed man and made him disobey the Word of God. He made us fall into sin with temptations and to have unbelief towards God. God had us humans to be born on this earth in order to make us His children. He did not create us because He was bored or had nothing else to do. Therefore, the above passage, “He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy,” refers to God’s providence that intended to make human beings His children and the righteous.
What shall we then say of His righteous determination? We cannot help but say, “God is righteous.” The Word of God goes on to say, “[Aren’t these vessels] even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
As He says also in Hosea:
‘I will call them My people, who were not My people,
And her beloved, who was not beloved.’
‘And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them,
‘You are not My people,’
There they shall be called sons of the living God’” (Romans 9:24-26).
Hosea married Gomer who was a renowned whore. It was because God said to Hosea, “Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry
And children of harlotry,
For the land has committed great harlotry
By departing from the LORD” (Hosea 1:2). So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him two sons and a daughter. But whenever Gomer gave birth to a child, God declared a curse onto the people of Israel for their betrayal against Him.
However, God did not discard His people to the end. He eventually gave a promise of salvation to His people, saying,
“Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth,
And I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy;
Then I will say to those who were not My people,
‘You are My people!’
And they shall say, ‘You are my God!’” (Hosea 2:23).
What does this Scripture passage really mean? The Book of Hosea teaches us that even when the Israelites nation worshiped and whored after idols, God still loved them. And He loves all of humanity in the same way. We were people who had to admit that we were not God’s children originally. In reality, we were the children of wrath. We were the children of destruction. Nevertheless, through the love of God, by His salvation and His blessing, we are now called His children.
Dear fellow believers, please take heed of this. God’s blessing and curses are predetermined. He has established this principle: If we are like Esau we will be cursed, and if we are like Jacob then we will be blessed. This principle is the Election of God. Do you believe this?
Nevertheless, the people of this world misinterpret today’s Scripture passage in their ignorance. Their understanding of this passage of Scripture is that God chooses some and rejects others unconditionally. They propagate this askew doctrine by saying, “Look, when Jacob and Esau were still in their mother’s womb, not having done anything, did not God love one and hate the other? Those who are going to Heaven have been selected and chosen beforehand unconditionally. And, even if one believes in Jesus fervently, if the person is not chosen then this person will go to hell.” This is a completely erroneous interpretation. They have left out God’s compassion from this whole matter. They have ignored the plan of God. Truly, this is a grave misunderstanding.
Let Us Respond to the Calling of God and Stand in the Line of Jacob
All human beings are born sinners. But those who accept the love of God and those who acknowledge one hundred percent that God has wholly saved them receive His mercy and become saved. Those who talk back and ask God in opposition to His Word, saying, “Why is it like that?” will go to hell. Those who boast in their denominations, challenge the Word of God hiding behind the forest of their denominations as Adam did in Genesis 3, and believe in God based on their own thoughts will go to hell. God has elected to send people like this to hell.
Every theologian in this world maintains that this Scripture passage supports the doctrine of election. But the Bible never teaches this.
“For I desire mercy and not sacrifice,
And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).
And He also says, “(For the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, ‘The older shall serve the younger.’ As it is written, ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated’” (Romans 9:11-13). The Lord then goes on to say, “So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy” (Romans 9:16).
Dear fellow believers, I ask that all of you answer God’s call. Then we will all be Jacob-like people. Jacob did not have any righteousness of his own. He did exactly as his mother told him to do and as The Word of God said. God pours out His compassion upon those who acknowledge that they are destined and deserve to go to hell. Someone who knows that they are on the way to hell will ask God for His compassion and pity, crying out, “Please Lord, send me to Heaven.” God saves such a person. But God will send to hell those who say something like, “Why should I go to hell? I am much better than most people and there are many worse people than myself.”
This is what God has elected to do. Thus, in this manner, God’s blessings and curses are given according to God’s election. Therefore, if we truly want to receive God’s blessings, we must be in the line of Jacob, and if we desire to be cursed then we must be in the line of Esau.
Almost all current church movements which we can see around us are in the line of Esau. They boast in their power to influence, the legitimacy and the long history of their denomination, and the fact that their church members number several hundred thousand. Those who boast and talk about how large a tract of land their church owns are in the line of Esau and these people will receive God’s curses. God has determined to curse such people.
But those who are in the line of Jacob say, “We truly don’t have anything at all. Our church pastor has nothing to boast of in the flesh, but he is without sin. I have decided to live my spiritual life under the guidance of such a pastor who is without sin. Our pastor told us that it is not because of anything that he has done that he is without sin. He said that God has blotted out all his sins once and for all. So, that is the reason he has received the remission of sins. When I asked him if I could receive the remission of sins as well, he said I surely could. When I heard the Word of God being spoken to me, I realized that not only my pastor’s sins were removed but all of my sins were blotted out as well. The sins of the whole world were removed. I have been made righteous by faith. I am in the line of Jacob and I have thus been blessed.”
A person who is in the line of Jacob therefore exclaims, “Hallelujah! Let us praise our Lord! Let us praise the Lamb of God! Lord God, You are exalted high above all things, and You are Mighty! Your Truth is just and righteous. We have done nothing good in this world, but we have been saved by your salvation.” This person is full of love, joy and happiness.
Let us stand in the line of Jacob. Let us receive the blessings from God. If we fall away from this line, it will be the end for us. Let us praise the Lord. You and I fortunately somehow have found ourselves in the line of Jacob, and we are truly thankful for this. We were the ones heading for hell, but by being called to be God’s children, we have been saved out of His love for us. Truly, we were not God’s people. Therefore, we give even more thanks and glory to our God who has called us to be His people.