“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
In today’s Scripture reading, the Apostle Paul says that he wants us to have united faith. As Paul admonishes us, all of us must be united in one common faith as God’s people. This common faith of unity is also indispensable for us to lead a proper life of faith. Put differently, we can lead a life of faith that’s pleasing to God only if we are united in our common purpose to serve the Lord and obey His will in our lives. Indeed, it’s precisely because God wants all of us to have such faith of unity that He has given today’s Scripture passage through the Apostle Paul.
The Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 4:1-3: “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
The adverb “therefore” is always used to introduce a statement resulting from the preceding reason or cause. In the previous chapter, Paul had explained that God the Father had chosen us, saved us, made us His own children, and glorified us in Jesus Christ. And now in chapter 4, Paul is using the adverb “therefore” to teach us that for this reason, all of us who believe in the Word of God must have a common faith that’s congruent to the calling of God, believe in His Word and follow it in obedience exactly as it is, and be united together to build the Church to the Lord’s pleasure. Like this, God has told us to build one Kingdom in the Lord and abide in it until we see Him face to face.
Our Faith in the Gospel of the Water and the Spirit Is One
Given the fact that God the Father has saved us through His Son Jesus Christ, is it possible for us to have different beliefs, different purposes, and different hopes? No, that is not the case. Since we have received the same salvation from the same Lord, it’s impossible for us to have different purposes or serve different lords. The only difference that we can have from one another despite receiving the same salvation is the gifts and talents that each of us has received from the Lord. Moreover, because we each have different talents to serve God in various ways, it’s all the more imperative for us to be united together and serve God with one purpose. If God has made you serve others, then you ought to serve others sincerely; if God has made you teach others, then you ought to teach others diligently; and if God has made you volunteer your time and labor in some other way, then you ought to do that faithfully as God has instructed you.
There are various offices and positions from which we are serving the gospel in the Church. Although our entrusted tasks vary like this, we all share one purpose, and we are all carrying out our duties according to the talents that God has given to each one of us. That is what it really means to be united together. We are now reading the same God-given Word, we all share the same faith in the baptism of Jesus, and we all are serving God faithfully with the same purpose. To live out our faith with the same purpose under one God is the life of unity that the Apostle Paul admonished us to lead. Such faith of unity is absolutely indispensable for all of us.
The Catholic Church claims that it is the only universal and true church. The word “Catholic” is derived from the Greek word “katholiokos,” which means “regarding the whole,” or more simply, “universal.” But the word “Catholic” is not actually appropriate for the Catholic Church. The truly universal Church of God is constituted by those who have received the remission of their sins and become one body with God. In other words, wherever those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are gathered together under one common faith, one Lord, one baptism, and one purpose—this is God’s Church.
Can we each have different purposes even though all of us have received the same remission of sins? No, the Bible clearly states that this is impossible. What God is saying to us through today’s Scripture passage is this: “Now that you have been saved, spread the gospel all over the world. Set your purpose on preaching the true gospel all across the whole wide world and live out your faith in unity.”
Today’s Christianity is divided into various denominations and sects. The Presbyterian Church has its own unique characteristics, just as the Baptist Church, the Methodist Church, and the Full Gospel Church each have their own unique characteristics. Our Church, in contrast, cannot be divided like this no matter where it is located. Because God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are the same one God to us, our faith is one just as our purpose is one. In our lives of faith, in other words, all of us share one purpose, one faith, one Lord, one baptism, and one hope.
All of us who have received the remission of sins constitute the body of Jesus Christ as its members, just as the Apostle Paul said that there “is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling” (Ephesians 4:4). Some of the major parts that form your body are your head, neck, torso, arms, legs, and various internal organs; and each part is attached to the torso to form one body. Your body can’t function properly if any part is removed from it. Likewise, God’s Church can exercise His power only when all its members are united in one faith and one purpose while living out their lives of faith. That’s why the Apostle Paul put so much emphasis on the unity of the Church.
How about you then? Do you believe that there is one Lord, one baptism, and one God? Such faith is absolutely indispensable to all of us living in this present age. Is it just God the Father who is divine, while the Son is not? Is it the Holy Spirit rather than Jesus who is the Son of God? No, of course not. God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit should not be mixed up like this, but they are the same God. Just as God the Father is divine to us, so are Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit also divine. These three Persons of God differ only in their respective roles and positions, and they are all God Himself. In other words, you cannot say that only the Holy Spirit is divine while Jesus is not.
What about the baptism of Jesus? Is there more than one baptism that Jesus received from John the Baptist to accept all our sins? No, there is only one baptism. How did we make our first confession of faith when we received the remission of sins? We all confessed to the Lord, “You have blotted out all my sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit.” Like this, when one understands this true gospel with the head and believes in it with all the heart, this person is truly baptized.
My fellow believers, it’s because the Lord bore all our sins by being baptized by John the Baptist and shouldered them on His own body that He shed His blood on the Cross and rose from the dead again, thereby saving us all. Therefore, there is only one baptism of the Lord, just as there is only one God. That is why we are baptized as a sign of our salvation, to indicate that we have been saved by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. In other words, we receive baptism to confess our faith that the Lord has saved us by bearing all our sins through His baptism, dying on the Cross, and rising from the dead.
In our Church, newly redeemed saints from all across Korea are baptized at the summer discipleship training camp. Our pastors lay their hands on these new saints’ heads, immerse them completely under the water, and then raise them out of the water. Why are these new saints baptized like this? They receive such baptism by immersion as a sign of their faith, to indicate their belief that the Lord bore all the sins of the entire human race by being baptized by John the Baptist. When John the Baptist laid his hands on the head of Jesus in the Jordan River, He bore all the sins of the world just like Aaron the High Priest had passed the yearly sins of the Israelites onto the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:20-22). That Jesus was submerged in the water implies His crucifixion because He had already borne all the sins of this world when He was baptized, and that the Lord came out of the water implies His resurrection. Therefore, we are baptized to confess our faith that the Lord has become our Savior by coming to this earth to blot out all our sins, being baptized, dying on the Cross, and rising up from the dead; that the Lord is our Savior; and that Jesus Christ is our God of salvation.
The Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 4:5-6 that there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” There is no place where God is absent; there is nothing that God does not know or cannot do, for God is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. God is everywhere in the universe, from the farthest galaxy to the deepest ocean, in the heavens and on the earth, and in visible and invisible dominions alike. Is there any place where God is not present? No, absolutely not. He is in our hearts also. Because you and I believe that the Lord has blotted out all our sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, God has put Jesus Christ in our hearts. When we held onto the Word of salvation and believed in it, Jesus Christ came into your heart and mine; and having come into our hearts as the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ will be with us forever. Moreover, whenever we go astray, the Holy Spirit dwelling in us rebukes us with His moaning, gives us the correct understanding, and guides us to the right path.
The Lord wants all of us to live in unity. We must therefore abide by our perfect faith of unity, make the same confession of faith, and march forth by the same faith. And just as Christ has called us and commanded us to preach the gospel all over the world, we must live by faith worthy of this calling of the Lord until we go to see Him face to face. This is what the Apostle Paul is speaking to the Church and its saints in today’s Scripture passage. This then means that Paul’s admonishment is equally applicable to you and me also.
Perhaps there are some people among us who think that if they believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, they would live a more materially prosperous and carnally comfortable life. But we cannot succumb to such thoughts. The Lord said to us in Ephesians 4:1, “Walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.” Having called us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit and blotted out all our sins, Jesus Christ has entrusted us with God’s work. What is this work that the Lord has entrusted to us then? It is none other than spreading the gospel of the water and the Spirit all over the world, for Jesus Christ has commanded us to preach His gospel to each and ever corner of the world.
There Are Some People Who Don’t Obey the Will of Christ Even after Receiving the Remission of Sins
Such people want to live just for themselves even after receiving the remission of sins. Some of them may even want their fellow brothers and sisters to serve them instead of God. This is actually what worries me the most. If there is anyone among us who rejects the will of the Lord and refuses to do whatever God asks him to do in His Church, and lives according to the desires of his own flesh rather than obeying the Lord’s will, this person will face nothing but curses. Such people are deemed wicked even if they are among the faithful saints who have received the remission of sins. No redeemed saint should ever live such a wicked life. That is why God has raised spiritual leaders in the Church and entrusted His work to each and every servant according to the Church order.
Although we have all received the remission of sins equally, each of us looks and thinks differently. However, regardless of our appearances and personalities, God looks at whether or not we submit to His Word in obedience, and He chooses those of us whose hearts are upright and carries out His work through them.
There was a certain pastor at one of our branch churches who loathed the thought in seeing the congregation putting any offerings openly into the offering box. He was so much happier if the saints there brought their offerings to him privately instead, or just gave him some gifts. He also gave preferential treatments to the members who were nice to him personally. Anyone who made financial contributions to the Church, on the other hand, were deeply resented and disliked by this pastor.
What explains this? It’s because even though this pastor was among the redeemed saints, he did not actually believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and therefore he was just trying to gratify his own greed. Even among the saints who have received the remission of sins into their hearts by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, it is still possible for there to be some people who seek after their own greed and rationalize their fleshly thoughts as though they were spiritual.
I know very well that I have many shortcomings. I am therefore all the more grateful that God has called such a worthless man like me, and it’s precisely because I am so thankful that I live in obedience to the Lord’s gospel no matter what. The Lord has not only remitted us from all our sins but also called us into God’s Church and entrusted us with His work to spread the gospel all over the world, and that is why we continue to carry out our priestly duties faithfully in obedience to the Lord. Having given us the remission of sins so that we would serve the gospel, God has entrusted us with His work to build His Church and preach His gospel. I have every faith that as long as we carry out this work, God will provide for all our needs in abundance.
When you turn to the very first page of our pew bulletin, you will see three vision statements of our Church printed there. The first vision statement says, “Grow together with the Lord’s inheritance”; the second statement says, “Preach the gospel to every nation”; and the third vision states, “Endure in patience and have hope.” These are the vision statements that our Church adopted from the very beginning.
We have some businesses that we are running to raise financial resources to support the gospel ministry. What would happen if we did not run these businesses? Would we still be able to serve the gospel? No, it would not be possible. The days when one preached the gospel with the lips alone have long passed. In this present age and time, it is far more effective to preach the gospel through literature ministry, which requires significant investment. Financial resources are therefore necessary for this literature ministry. What would happen if you picked up a huge cross and went out into the street to shout out, “Whoever believes in Jesus will go to Heaven, but whoever does not will go to hell”? You would not only irritate everyone around you, but you may even be arrested for causing public nuisance. Even if someone comes to believe in Jesus through such a crass method of evangelization, it’s obvious that this person would not be truly saved. That’s because one is saved only if he knows and believes in Jesus properly, never by believing in Jesus only as a matter of religion.
The Lord said, “Make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon” (Luke 16:9). We ought to therefore grow with the Lord’s inheritance. This means that rather than growing by ourselves, all of us must support the gospel ministry in unity by running our businesses successfully and preaching the beautiful gospel faithfully in our lives. We are publishing our gospel books with the hope of spreading this true gospel of the water and the Spirit all over the world, and to print even more books and share them with everyone throughout the whole world, we must continue to make friends by unrighteous mammon. That is why we are running our businesses diligently. We must therefore grow with the Lord’s inheritance in God’s Church.
God’s Church belongs to the Lord. Consequently, the prosperity of the Church is our own prosperity, and any failure of the Church is our own failure. The success and failure of the Church do not depend on any individual, but they depend on all of us. So long as the Church is heading in the right direction, all of us will flourish together for sure. We can then all lead an even more vibrant life in God’s Church, receiving His abundant blessings and preaching the gospel to each and every nation.
In our minds we may be intimated by the task lying ahead of us, wondering how we could ever preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to so many people all over the world. After all, there already are plenty of people around us who still have not received the remission of sins. So we may think that even if we were to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit just to those around us in our country, we couldn’t possibly achieve this in our lifetime. It would then seem even more daunting to preach the gospel all over the world. But the Lord did not tell us to preach the gospel only to those around us. He said instead, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19). All of us must accept this commandment of the Lord and follow Him by faith.
The problem of course, is that it’s very tempting for us to limit our gospel ministry just to our immediate surroundings and rationalize ourselves, for preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit all over the world entails a great deal of sacrifice, and it is in our human nature to want to live a materially comfortable life, buy a bigger house, drive a nicer car, and enjoy all the good things that material prosperity can bring. It’s also in our human nature to crave the approval of the broader society, and so we may want to do some charity work instead of preaching the gospel.
But this is just our own fleshly thought, for the Lord told us clearly and unambiguously to preach the gospel all over the world. It is therefore absolutely imperative for all of us to never make any compromises with our own fleshly thoughts, but instead abide in the Lord and endure in patience and hope in order to serve the gospel. In other words, we must preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to each and every nation with perseverance until the day the Lord returns.
How wonderful would it be if the Lord were to return today? This present world is turning darker and darker every day, and that can only mean that the day of the Lord’s return is nearing us. The end of this world is now imminent.
Do you still think that the world will never end? About ten years ago, I had preached in my sermons that this world would turn worse and worse. You might have brushed off my warning back then, but now you can no longer dismiss it so easily. This world is too precarious not to take its impending destruction seriously. Just as God said, this world is now in a free fall. The time has come for everything to be fulfilled exactly as prophesied in the Bible.
We must therefore endure in patience and persevere in hope. We must endure any and all hardships with longsuffering and in hope to serve the gospel. So let us all hang onto the hope that the Lord will return to take us away, and that we will live a glorious life in the Kingdom of Heaven just as the Lord promised us. Looking forward to these wonderful events that will soon unfold right before our eyes, let us all live by faith.
From its very inception to this day, our Church has always grounded its direction in the three vision statements mentioned above, and these vision statements will continue to guide the Church’s direction into the future. Whenever a new year is about to begin, I am often asked by some ministry workers to set a new direction for the Church, saying to me, “Now that a new year is around the corner, we would like you to set the direction for us. We will put it in our pew bulletin.” But the goal towards which all of us must strive until the day the Lord returns never changes. As our goal does not change from minute to minute, we will always march forth in the same direction outlined in the three vision statements written in our pew bulletin: “Grow together with the Lord’s inheritance. Preach the gospel to every nation. Endure in patience and have hope.”
God has given us both the heart and the faith to live with such visions. We should never undermine the God-given faith of unity. God Himself has made us one, accepted us as His people, and formed us into one Church and one body, and therefore none of us should ever bring any discord to the unity that God has given us. God has clearly told us in today’s Scripture passage to endeavor to keep this unity of the Spirit.
The same principle applies to the businesses that we are running to support the gospel ministry. Rather than succumbing to self-complacency and trying to rationalize ourselves with our own fleshly thoughts, we ought to look far ahead and march forth toward the righteous cause by faith. Otherwise we would have to close down these businesses that we are running to support the gospel ministry. But if we decide our direction in unity, all the problems that we face will be solved wisely no matter what they are.
We must also be faithful in God’s sight. If we resort to band-aid solutions just to address the immediate problems confronting us, then eventually we will end up facing far greater problems and fail to achieve more important goals. We should therefore devote all our hearts and pay close attention to the Lord’s work whatever it is. It’s the faithful whom the Lord blesses and gives faith and wisdom to flourish. It’s when we live faithfully for the gospel that God helps us to overcome all our obstacles wisely, for He wants to spread the gospel all over the world.
God has entrusted us with the task of spreading the gospel all over the world. That is why we are living for the sole purpose of preaching the gospel throughout the whole world. And that is why God has blessed us so much to prosper in all things, for He is pleased by our determination to live for His gospel. By making us prepare everything, God has blessed us to flourish.
No Word of God written in the Bible was spoken just to the people in those days, but every Word is spoken to us as well. So we know that it is only right for all of us to keep the unity of the Spirit and walk properly to be worthy of our calling received from the Lord. We must therefore treat one another with humility and understanding, bear with one another with longsuffering and in love, and endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace until the day the Lord returns.
All our branch churches in Korea are serving the gospel of the water and the Spirit in unity, and our coworkers from all around the world are also serving the gospel in unity. It’s absolutely important for us to always conduct ourselves in a way that is beneficial to the spreading of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. You and I must set the purpose of our lives on the spreading of the gospel and make up our minds to serve the gospel in our lives.
Anyone who seeks just his own selfish interests is a petty person. In contrast, someone who cares about his nation, his fellow countrymen, and people all over the world is a broadminded person. You and I have embraced our calling to live as such visionary people. Preaching the gospel all over the world is what every true visionary must seek in life. We must therefore carry out this work until the day we take our last breath. I am sure that you know this better than anyone else.
If we follow the will of God and His vision in obedience, God will no doubt be pleased with us and bless us all. To this very day, I have come across countless difficulties in my life, and I know from my own experiences that I’ve had to overcome them by faith. I’m also well aware that I must continue to lead such a life of faith into the future. At the same time, I have every confidence that the way ahead of us will not always be difficult, for the Lord is helping us and blessing us so that we would all be able to lead our lives by one faith, with one heart, and for one purpose.
When we preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit completely all across the world, the Millennial Kingdom will be fulfilled on this earth just as the Lord promised us, and we will all reign in this Kingdom for a thousand years. Hope prevails over fear in our hearts, for we believe that the Lord will make our dream come true. When the time comes for the destruction of this world and the human race, the Kingdom of the Lord will descend upon this earth, and you and I will enter this Kingdom and live there for a thousand years with the Lord Jesus.
Some people may think that this sounds too much like a fairy tale, but that is absolutely not the case. It is the Word of promise given to us by our omniscient and omnipotent Lord God. There is neither one jot nor one tittle that’s false in His Word. That is why we give all our thanks to God over and over again, for we believe that everything He promised us will indeed be fulfilled to us someday.