“Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there. When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, ‘Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?’ So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.’ Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”
Jesus Christ’s hometown is Nazareth. Jesus returned to His hometown, and He taught the Word of God there in a Jewish synagogue. All who heard Him were astonished and offended by Him, saying, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?”
When Jesus returned to His hometown and continued to preach the Word of God there, those who heard His Word did not believe in it even as they were amazed by it. What’s the reason for this? It is because this place was His hometown. The reason why they did not believe in what Jesus said was because He was from their own hometown. So the crowd was all agitated, saying, “From what we know, He is not educated, nor does He know anything. So how can He say these things?” This is why they ignored and did not believe in Jesus’ Word.
There are lessons that we should learn and know from this passage, and there is also a need for us to reaffirm our faith from these lessons.
We must not deify Mary and idolize her. Because there are religious organizations in this world that have idolized Mary, I will make it clear here that it is fallacious to deify her.
We usually place the Catholic Church under the category of Christianity. Throughout the whole world, there are more Catholics than Protestants. The reason why I raise Catholicism here all of a sudden is because none other the Catholic Church is representative of the religious organizations that have deified and idolized Mary.
Why do Catholics idolize Mary? They do so because they believe that the Virgin Mary gave birth to only Jesus until she died. They exalt her as the “Queen of Heaven.” They even call her “the Mother of God.” Because Jesus is the true God, this seems literally plausible, but a tremendously dangerous idea lies hidden in it. Once they started going on deification of Mary, they have kept intensifying such a tendency incessantly.
Finally, Catholics came to call her as “Immaculate Mary.” Put differently, this means that she was born without sin, and didn’t commit any sin during her whole life. So, they even argue that she had not given birth to any other child to Joseph, her husband, after bearing Jesus Christ. If their claim is true, where then did the brothers and sisters of Jesus listed in today’s Scripture passage come from?
Such biblically unsound ideas have been consolidated by the equally non-biblical affairs, such as Mary’s supposed apparitions at Fatima, Portugal in the early 20th century. Here I would like to introduce a passage extracted from a Catholic document:
“Fifteen years after the apparitions at Fatima, Mary appeared to children in Belgium, both at Banneaux and Beauraing. These are the last Marian apparitions to receive the full approval of Rome. Our Lady appeared to five children at Beauraing: Fernande, Gilberte, Albert, Andrew, and Gilbert in thirty-two apparitions from November 19, 1932, until January 3, 1993. On December 21, 1932, Our Lady identified herself to the children, ‘I am the Immaculate Virgin.’ The children saw a golden heart in the center of Mary’s chest. On January 3, 1933, she said to Andrew, ‘I am the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven. Pray always!’”
What do you think about this? Catholics now believe that Mary was resurrected while she was sleeping, and that she ascended into Heaven just like her Son did. All these doctrines have aimed at the deification of Mary, trying to equalize her status to that of her Son. But nothing could be further from the truth!
We Must Not Deify Mary
Mary was a Jew who was born in the house of Judah. She was an ordinary young woman of the house of Judah. Joseph, her husband, was also a man of the house of Judah.
What is the origin of this house? One of the twelve sons of Jacob was Judah, and God had promised to him, “I will continue to raise kings from your descendants.” According to this promise, Jesus Christ was born unto this earth as the King of kings through the house of Judah.
We must therefore realize that Mary is absolutely not someone who should be deified. She was only a woman who was bestowed with the special grace of God and used as His precious instrument for His work of salvation. As such, when we look at Mary’s faith, she is indeed a blessed woman and worthy of our respect, but to say that this Mary must be honored and exalted even more than Jesus because she was somehow born without sin, and also because she is the Queen of Heaven, is simply a product of ignorance stemming from foolish thoughts.
Catholics call Mary as “the Interceder of their prayers.” They say that since Mary is an interceder between God and man, when people pray to her, she would speak on their behalf to God the Father. And they say that it is even more effective to pray to Mary. This has originated from their carnal thoughts that to speak to the king’s mother would be more effective than to ask her son. So everyday, they say many Rosaries. But you should seriously consider whether your prayers would really be conveyed to God the Father if you pray to Mary.
As a matter of fact, Mary gave birth to many children. We can find from today’s Scripture passage that apart from Jesus, she bore six or more children. Jesus was especially to be born though the body of a virgin. That God was born through the body of the Virgin Mary to become man was something that Jesus had to fulfill unfailingly in order to save everyone from sin. It was because Jesus, God Himself, was sinless that He was born through the body of the Virgin Mary.
However, Mary’s other children, that is, Jesus’ brothers and sisters in flesh, were born into this world ordinarily through normal conception. James, who wrote the Epistle of James, was Jesus’ own brother, and Joses, Simon, and Judas were also Jesus’ brothers in flesh. And He also had at least two sisters or more. Except for Jesus, all children born between Mary and Joseph were born into this world through normal conception. It is a lie to claim that Mary did not give birth to anyone apart from Jesus, and it is also a lie and a fallacy to claim that Mary was born without sin. This is absolutely nonsense.
As such, we must not idolize Mary. We must not worship the Virgin Mary as God, far less think of her as God’s mother or wife. Nor should we pray to her. We must not worship her as God, either, or revere her as God. Catholics say Mary’s prayer that goes, “Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” I once saw on a Catholic TV channel how they were saying Mary’s prayer: A man first recited the first half of the Prayer, and then the others responded with the rest half of it. When I saw this, it saddened me deeply beyond words.
They pray like this, but Mary is not full of grace like God. What nonsense is this to speak of Mary as being full of grace? Mary was merely a woman on whom God’s grace was bestowed. Just as you and I have received God’s grace, so too did Mary put on the love of God. It was because God used Mary’s body as His instrument that she was blessed. It was only because Mary accepted God’s grace by faith, and conceived and gave birth to Jesus, that she received God’s grace and love; had she not given birth to Jesus, she would have been no different. Yet despite this, people still think of her in carnal terms, deifying her, building statues for her, and asking for her help before these statues. Nothing could be more dismal.
In Catholicism, many cases of Mary’s apparitions have been reported. Some others testified that they had seen the tear of blood flowing from the eyes of her statue. If a statue bleeds, it is only bleeding rust stain, as water sips into the statue and causes the metal parts inside it to rust. By deifying this, Catholics are creating an atmosphere as if Mary is alive, but in fact all this talk is utterly fallacious.
Of course, these words may offend those who deify and worship Mary, but this is the reality. They claim that Mary never gave birth to anyone except Jesus. But it is clearly written in the Word that Mary gave birth to several children. Does this then mean that this Bible is a lie? Or does it mean that our Bible is different form their Bible? This passage in their Bible is the same as ours, even though they have seven extra books called “Apocrypha.”
How could Mary be the holy Mother of God? She is only one of the lowly women. Exactly like us, Mary is only one of humans. So praying to her is completely futile. Those who are carnally minded have misunderstood Mary so much that they have idolized and deified her, and are placing their faith in her. But this Mary, whom Catholics revere as the Queen of Heaven even at this very moment, was no more than one of the lowly women just as it is written in the Word. Mary was not such a great woman as to be mentioned by everyone, but she was only a woman of faith. Yet the following generations deified her and worshiped her like this. This was the Devil’s scheme. He is still telling people, “Believe in Jesus, but also believe in Mary,” so that they would not receive the remission of sin no matter how much they believe in Jesus. The Devil does this because one cannot be saved if something is added to or subtracted from the Word of God.
This is why today I am treating this topic so seriously and trying to preach the Word of Truth. It is to spiritual aspects that we must pay our attention.
There is nothing else but only this faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that we need to know. Apart from this faith, all our evil deeds, such as corrupting the Truth, and idolizing human beings like this out of our carnal thoughts, only make us God’s enemies, and therefore we must not tolerate these things. Since the Catholic Church just covered up the fact that Mary had given birth to many other children apart from Jesus Christ, Catholics are actually praying to Mary and thus are going astray that much farther. It is because they do not believe in the Word but follow their own man-made thoughts that they are all perishing like this.
As you and I carry on with our lives of faith, if we do not believe based on the Word of God, we, too, will face such results. What the Word approves is approved, and if the Word says that God has saved us with the water and the Spirit, then He has indeed saved us with the water and the Spirit; we should not interpret it so absurdly based on our own carnal thoughts. We should not idolize or lower someone apart from what the Bible is speaking of. Our lives of faith must be centered on the Word.
We are preaching the gospel to the world. In fact, we must now devote all our energy to spreading this gospel. My fellow coworkers, as you and I spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit, what task has been entrusted to each of us in our work? Are we devoting all our efforts to this work? Unless we devote all our energy to this work, some absurd issues can arise and exhaust us. You are the workers of the gospel, and the witnesses who are spreading the gospel throughout the whole world. This age now is the most opportune for spreading the gospel. If we do not spread it now, we will have to put our life at risk to spread it later, and what is worse, we cannot expect that it would be as effective as today.
In such a favorable time for spreading the gospel, if we do not devote ourselves to this mission, then we, too, may fall into such carnal errors. The people of Jesus’ hometown ignored Him out of their carnal thoughts. Catholics also exalt Mary with their carnal thoughts. For us not to follow their examples, each and every one of us must be faithful to our assigned work and run for the gospel.
My fellow coworkers, the door will now open throughout the whole world. It will open without fail. The closed nations will be opened and we will be able to preach the gospel in each and every corner of the world. We can ship our Christian books into the countries where the gospel of the water and the Spirit had not been spread yet and share them with people, and we can also print our books outright in those countries. Through our coworkers throughout the world who have received the remission of sin and are now working with us, we can print our Christian books locally and distribute them directly. The gospel will then spread around in no time.
And we will continue to post new books in our web site. As we continue to publish our spiritual growth series like this book on Matthew, God’s work will be carried out successfully. We must do this work by faith and continue to live our spiritual lives of faith.
I believe that now is the time for our saints and our ministers throughout the world to be bold and ambitious. And I believe that our purpose must be clear. We should not lay our focus on whether we are approved by others or not. Rather, we must now think about whether or not we are faithfully fulfilling the works that God has entrusted to us, and whether or not the gospel of the water and the Spirit is thus reaching the whole world. We should ask ourselves whether or not we are indeed devoting all our strength and effort to these works. This is what we must be attentive of. Never forget the fact that Satan is trying to make us have carnal thoughts and to destroy us. Do not even think that we would live like this for ten thousand years. The world will end sooner or later.
The cause of the complete collapse of the Russian Orthodox Church is a great lesson for us. Its leaders had argued for years over such trivial issues as what the priests should wear on the pulpit, that is, whether their garments should be blue, red, or black. When they were thus fighting amongst themselves over such absurd questions, do you know what happened in Russia? The Communist Revolution broke out, and the communists imprisoned all the religionists and killed them. When Christians were misplacing their minds and interests in such absurd issues, Satan dealt a devastating blow to them.
Is this not the case in today’s Christianity also? Isn’t each denomination claiming to be the only and the best denomination? In Korea, there was a heretic group called the Church of Eternal Life, whose founder was recently arrested and sentenced to death for murdering several followers who had deserted the sect. This founder claimed that one could receive eternal life if he keeps the 318 commandments of his own law. One of its core creeds rested on a bizarre commandment stating that one can receive eternal life if he does not sleep with his wife. Compared to the 613 commandments of the God-given Law, the 318 commandments of this law were only half the true Law in number, but even so, would anyone really be able to keep even one of them? This is simply impossible, even for the most devoted follower of the sect. Because everyone is insufficient, what is needed is the gospel of power that saves insufficient sinners, not such man-made bizarre commandments.
My fellow believers, I admonish you to examine yourselves. Are you not insufficient? Of course you are. How, then, could you have received the remission of your sins? You have been saved only by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. If you really believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, you would then also pass your insufficiencies onto Jesus Christ.
“What is there to do? I at least believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The Lord came to this earth, was baptized, died on the Cross, rose from the dead again, and has thereby saved me through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. I believe in this. I am now sinless, for the Lord has blotted out all my sins. Though I am insufficient, God has entrusted me with His works, and I will faithfully fulfill them before I go to Him.” This is the spiritual faith.
My fellow believers, we must live with such spiritual minds and by such faith. Rather than commenting on how others are, it is far more beneficial for us to examine ourselves, admit our insufficiencies, and ruminate on the Lord’s gospel. Remember that when you are pointing your finger at someone else, three fingers are actually pointed at you. We must remember the Bible passage, “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” (Galatians 5:15) and realize that to argue over who has done right and who has done wrong is to sink our teeth into each other and to tear and kill one another. If we keep gnawing at one another, who could possibly survive as a whole?
As I read today’s Scripture passage, I would like to say a few pointed words to some Christians who have deified Mary and believe in her instead of believing in God the Father and in the divinity of Jesus: “Stop this absurdity now!” I want them to realize that they are living their lives of faith only carnally, and to now return to the real, spiritual life of faith. It saddens me deeply to see that people have made up strange religions by freely adding their own thoughts and are heading toward the path of destruction.
We should believe in the Truth proclaimed by the Bible only as it is. Since the Word says that God has blotted out all our sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we must believe accordingly, just as it is proclaimed. It is when we believe in this that we become sinless. And it is our goal of faith for us to be born again and thus to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Is this true or not? Of course it is. Have we become without sin just because there was some emotional change in our hearts? No, it is because we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that we are now sinless.
My fellow believers, if someone tries to alter the gospel of the water and the Spirit, he is unquestionably wrong. But among the righteous, there could be evil ones, even though they do not try to alter the true gospel. If there is someone among the born-again who does not serve the true gospel and only tries to live virtuously to win a good reputation, he is an evil one before God. Let’s assume here that there is someone among us who has done nothing wrong and has lived piously. But this person does not serve the gospel. Is this person then a good person? No, he is not. No matter how piously he might live, if he does not serve the gospel and does not live for the gospel, then he is a wicked man. He is the most wicked man who has done nothing right.
What loss does God suffer if we sin, and what benefit is accrued to Him if we do not sin? If we sin, then it is only we who are judged and punished. God is not ruled or influenced by us, but He is the only omniscient and omnipotent God who can do everything according to His will. He is the Judge. We must therefore not think of Him as one of us, as if He is like us. It is we who need Him. Is it because we have lived virtuously that we are justified? No, absolutely not! It is because we believe in Him that we have received the remission of our sins. It is because He has blotted out our sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit that we have been saved. And it is because we believe in this that we are now sinless. Living virtuously does not mean that there would be more spiritual changes in us.
When we serve the gospel, we are spiritually transformed and our faith grows. If we do not serve the gospel, then there is no benefit whatsoever for us, nor are we better off in anyway. If the gospel of the water and the Spirit is taken from us, there is no good faith in us, nor, for that matter, any faith at all.
Let’s suppose here that you give up your effort to serve the gospel and instead pursue your own carnal affairs. What will happen then? You will be corrupted in no time. Your hearts will rot away immediately, just as maggots swarm over a dead rat. When your hearts thus die and rot, the stench of decay will permeate. Your bodies, your acts, your minds and your thoughts will ooze disgusting stench. Do you agree? The same is true for me as well. I, too, will stink with a terrible stench if I do not serve this gospel. Had I not been born again, I would not bear with the people of this world. Unless we serve the gospel, this is who we would become.
Our Faith Must Not Be Carnal, But Spiritual
We must not live our lives of faith carnally. To deduce that Mary is the wife of God the Father because she gave birth to Jesus is a carnal logic. How could this be a spiritual logic? Can anyone ignore Jesus just because He is from his hometown?
One must not deify Mary, nor should one dismiss Jesus simply because He is from the same hometown. Jesus is the Son of God, He is fundamentally God Himself, and He is our Savior. Yet despite this, there were Jewish Rabbis—teachers, that is—who heard His Word and ignored Him. No matter how great these teachers might have been, they could not speak like Jesus. They could not reveal the mysteries of salvation. But in spite of this they still stood against the gospel of the water and the Spirit and refused to believe. And because they did not believe, Jesus did not perform any signs or miracles there.
The same applies to you and me also. If you do not believe in this Word of God, the Lord will not work in your hearts. It is when you and I believe in the Word of God wholeheartedly that the Lord works in our hearts. When the Lord holds our hearts steadfast, fills them, makes us serve Him, enables us to avoid falling into evil and to follow Him by leading us with His Word, is when we are standing firm on our faith.
Therefore, we should not live our lives of faith carnally, but we must live by faith. Our lives of faith must be centered on the Word. We must base our lives of faith on the Word at all times. We cannot slacken off this life of faith. “Since I’ve grown this much, I can now make my own judgment and take care of myself even without the Word.” To think like this is wrong.
We must always live our lives of faith centered on the Word. We must never forget the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but grounding ourselves in the Word, we must make the spreading of the gospel of the water and the Spirit our purpose, and we must continue to march forward for this purpose. Only then can we avoid being entangled in absurd affairs and wasting our time. And only then can we properly live our lives as servants, be commended by God and loved by Him even more, and prosper in both body and spirit. As such, we must not live our lives carnally.
How many family members did Jesus have in His flesh? His brothers alone were seven. This means that Mary had at least 7 children. It is quite possible that she had even more children, but this is the least number of children that she had.
It is because many people today keep thinking of Jesus in human terms and believe in Him in the same human way that their faith is groundless. “Jesus died on the Cross for me. How painful it must have been! I believe!” To believe in Him like this is to have carnal faith. Our Lord said that He came by the water and the Spirit, and that He has blotted out all our sins with the water and the Spirit. Shouldn’t we then believe accordingly, just as He said?
Instead of sympathizing with His suffering, shouldn’t we accept the salvation that Jesus has already fulfilled for us exactly as it is, and shouldn’t we hold onto and believe in the Word likewise, exactly as it is? Do not be so pretentious as to show your sympathy to Jesus. Who is to sympathize with whom here? It is God the Father and Jesus who should show us compassion, not us—are we, after all, in any position to sympathize with Jesus? Are beggar or the homeless in any position to pity us?
All those who believe in Jesus only carnally must be awakened. Even now, they believe only in the blood of the Cross, saying, “How painful it must have been! Since He died for me, I believe in Him.” But this faith is nothing but an emotional faith that comes out of pity. It is an absurd belief in which one agrees to believe in Jesus, as if he was doing a favor to Him. It is arrogant faith that says, “Okay, I’ll now acknowledge. I will acknowledge that You have saved me.”
Just how wrong is this? It is an insulting injury to our Lord’s pride. It is a blasphemous offense to Him, for one who needs Lord’s compassion is, not knowing his proper place, agreeing to believe in Him as if he is doing a favor.
What makes us to be in right relationship with God is faith. What is real faith? Looking at the work of salvation through which God has save us with the water and the Spirit, we cannot but admit the Truth of His love with thankfulness. And because this gospel Truth makes sense to us when we consider it with our reason, we cannot but revere God and confess to Him, “I believe in what You have done for me. I believe in Your righteous work.” None other than this is faith. To look at with reverence what God has done for us and to believe in it is faith. A religion, in contrast, is something that is made of human thoughts.
Instead of being bound with your own insufficiencies, you should meditate on the Truth that the Lord has blotted out all your sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and believe in this Truth. Weren’t our sins passed onto Jesus when He was baptized in the Jordan River and came up from the water? Our Lord, by shouldering our sins through His baptism, dying on the Cross, and rising from the dead again, has saved us perfectly.
If our sins were passed onto Jesus, then we are now sinless. Are you still with sin then, or do you have no sin? Of course you have no sin. And Jesus was also condemned for all our sins. This is how He has cleansed our hearts. We should now march forward by placing our faith in our Lord. Though you and I are insufficient in our flesh, the Truth is that the Lord has blotted out all our sins. Therefore, by faith our hearts can be cleansed, and by faith we can live our spiritual lives of faith for the works that please the Lord. All that remains of us is to receive new strength everyday and run our race of faith.
We must live our lives of faith spiritually. We have not grown up fully, nor have we matured completely. We must continue to run toward the mark as the Apostle Paul declared: “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).
Likewise, I would also like to say to all of you and our workers throughout the world: “Do not complain about this or that. Be faithful to what has been entrusted to you now. If you can spare some time even as you are doing this work, then you should examine yourselves and stand again on your faith. What room is there for you to comment on how others are doing, whether they are doing well or badly? Be more diligent if you have extra time. We are still far away from the goal of attaining the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Can you become holy enough to stand before God with your own righteousness? Can you reach such holiness by not making mistakes in your conversation or behavior? Never! To serve the Lord is holy; it is not by pretending to be holy on our own that we can become holy. It is only because of the gospel that we have become holy. It is because the gospel has blotted out all our sins that we have been sanctified.
To be frank, we do not pray that much when we gather together. We pray for the spreading of the gospel throughout the world, and for all the things that we do to serve the gospel faithfully and effectively. Then we the workers of God enjoy eating and talking with each other in great joy. Since we meet after laboring hard, we just have tasteful dish and restore our strength. If we have still some time left, we go out to play soccer. We are refreshed by doing so, and get back to everyone’s position to do our best in serving the gospel Truth. To thus return and take care of our families and do what has been assigned to us with renewed strength is spiritual. Is there anything special to it? What else is there for us to do, other than to diligently and faithfully carry out the works that God has entrusted to us?
If you do not serve the Lord, nor the gospel, then could you do something else that would make you holy? Would you be holy if you cultivate your mind sitting in deep meditation in a cave? Instead of becoming holy, you will become even filthier. If one is all by himself and just sits idle without doing anything, then only worldly and useless thoughts come to his mind.
My fellow coworkers, we have not spread the gospel completely yet. This is still far away. I know that it is very hard for us. I believe that God will give us strength. God will make us to serve the gospel more. Sometimes, we are troubled by the things of the past. But we must not be bound by the things we have done already. Rather, we should press ourselves toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Paul also tried to forget those things that are behind and reach forward to those things that are ahead. You have to faithfully carry out what has been assigned to each of you, and devote all your hearts and strength to this work. This is wise.
Jesus said, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” You, too, will be without honor in your house. If your family members have not been born again, then you will often been persecuted. It is because you are not spiritually compatible with them that there is struggle between you and your family members. Because we the born-again carry on with our lives of faith and live for the gospel, our very thoughts and lifestyle are different from the worldly people. There are far too many incompatibilities between the born-again and those who are not born again yet.
We Must Spread the Gospel of the Water and the Spirit to Europe Also
I believe that we must spread the gospel to Europe more vigorously as well. Though we have been publishing our books in almost all the European languages, there still are not many who are accepting this true gospel in Europe. Many people from all over the world have been requesting our books, but such requests coming from Europe have been rather rare. Our books have not entered in bulk into even a single country in Europe, but as a way will soon be opened for this, we are now preparing for it. In no time, we will hear the news that the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit is spreading in Europe even more than in the United States.
I believe that the gospel will soon be spread to Japan also. Recently, one of our English titles was translated into Japanese. As it took a long time for this book to come out, any Japanese truth-seeker will be able to realize immediately upon reading our book that it is the Truth.
In my previous sermon I spoke to you about the four fields of the heart, and what we need to ponder upon now is this: “Am I a tare or wheat?” “Was I a wayside field when I heard the gospel? Did I hear this gospel when I was living a religious life? Or was I a stony field that accepted the true gospel for the moment but could not believe in it with my heart? As this gospel was preached to me, did I just say that I believed, even as my inside was filled with my sins, few of them were revealed, and I had not admitted them yet? Or am I now a thorny field? Even though I did believe in the gospel Truth, because I still love the world too much, am I not following the Lord only halfheartedly? Or am I a good field? Do I really believe that the Lord has saved me, even though I cannot but only be this insufficient? And am I a real grain of wheat before the Lord?” These are the things that we should ask ourselves.
In previous sermons I explained a series of Jesus’ parables in Matthew 13. Do you remember this Word? Have you forgotten it all? By the way, you do realize whether you are the real wheat or the tares, right? And you also know which stage we have reached in our lives of faith, right? We were fundamentally the wayside fields or the stony fields. Those who have failed to hold onto the Word are still stony fields. It is by holding onto the Word that we come to admit that we are the seeds of evildoer. And it is by holding on the Word of the water and the Spirit, and because the Lord has blotted out our sins, that we become sinless and are brought to life instead of dying.
“Even though I have received the remission of my sins, am I not still trying to succeed only in this world, unable to cast aside my lust for the world? Am I not using the name of Jesus for the sake of my prosperity in this world?” We need to think about these things. We need to examine ourselves to see if we are of these three kinds of fields: Such hearts have no interest in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, nor in serving it, but are interested only in becoming rich; and deceived by the fame of the world and the pleasures of the flesh, all our interest lay only in these things. We also need to realize that these three fields were all forsaken, admit that we had been such fields, and believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
We have to admit, “My heart desires this world and does not know my own sins. This is not right. I am making a mistake now.” And we have to believe in the Word of the water and the Spirit. Then, we will become good fields, accept the Word, bear good fruits, and we ourselves will become the real grain. It is when we accept that we are wicked and that we are bound to hell if we have sin, and when we also accept the gospel of the water and the Spirit as well, that we can become good fields. This is how we can become the wheat and the good fields before God and yield by thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold. Such people will be commended by God and entrusted with more works. They will be even more faithful when they are persecuted, and therefore, the Lord will bestow even more blessings on them. There is no doubt about it.
When Peter said to Jesus, “See, we have left all and followed You,” Jesus answered and said like this: “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time--houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions--and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30).
When we serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the Lord never gives us the blessings of faith without persecutions. Our Lord wants us to be cleansed of the carnal residues from our hearts before He blesses us to His heart’s content. When He thinks, “This one is faithful to Me, and will not go astray even if I bless him,” He bestows material blessings on him, too. God gives us strong faith first, and then He gives us other blessings upon the blessing of faith.
We should then think about these things: Having the deep-rooted faith, we must hold onto the Word that we hear, have spiritual thoughts, believe in God’s Word, and think about how we should live. We should humble our hearts before God instead of thinking that we are already perfected. We should remove our carnal residues from our minds when the Lord makes us do so once in a while, and admit our true selves when God makes us do so. And we should follow the Lord with clean hearts, without letting our hearts be seized by our insufficiencies by shaking them off with our faith. When we pray to the Lord, hold onto the Word, and serve Him by faith, He will entrust us with various works. When God sees it fitting, then He will bless us so much, either directly or indirectly.
Let us become the ones who are spiritual. This is the key point. There is nothing else. There are people who have been born again for 10 years or more, but this does not mean that they are already perfected. They must run again toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). There are stages upon stages, and we must continue to run until the Lord is satisfied.
All that remains for us to do is to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to the entire world. It is intolerable for us to become obstacles to the spreading of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. If only this gospel is spread, then it is okay for us to be insufficient. And if we only believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, live for this gospel, hold onto the Word of God in our hearts and follow it by faith, then God, too, will say that it is okay.
However, if we engage ourselves in useless things, and quarrel with each other on worthless accounts, then God cannot tolerate this. Everything apart from the spreading of the gospel is a waste of time. We should do everything for the sake of spreading the gospel of the water and the Spirit, as it is written, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
And I should say that Catholics around the world must awaken and come to their senses. Whether or not they like to hear this, what should be said must be said. They should know that Mary gave birth to six children apart from Jesus. It is the prophets’ duty to enable them to realize the truth from the Word, and to say, “What we had believed was all false. It was all wrong.” Mary was an ordinary woman, but she came to be blessed when she believed in the Word of God. We also yearn to have such strong faith, for this is the most blessed thing to all the born-again saints.
Whether people listen to us or not, we the priests of this time must tell them the Truth of the Word of God exactly, for it is written,
“For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge,
And people should seek the law from his mouth;
For he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 2:7).
Let us thank God and devote all our strengths to serving the gospel. Let us all live by spiritual faith. Halleluiah!