“Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’ So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.’ So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, ‘My father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ Then he said, ‘Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’ And Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.’ So the two of them went together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ So he said, ‘Here I am.’ And He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.’ Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.”
God spoke to Abraham: “Take now your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” God commanded that Abraham’s son be offered up as a burnt sacrifice. He told Abraham whom He loved, to offer his precious son that he had obtained at the age of a hundred as a burnt offering. What did Abraham, our father of faith do when he heard this Word from God? He actually tried to slaughter and offer his son as God the Father had told him to do. Just before he was about to kill his son, God prevented him from killing his son. But in his heart it was as if he had already killed his son and offered him to God. Through the Word of God, what lesson is God attempting to impart to us? God is revealing to us that what He actually and ultimately requires from us is that we should have the faith that believes in the righteousness of God.
“Kill your son and offer him as a burnt offering.” What does this Word of God to Abraham mean? It means that God desires to receive your heart and mine and also our faith that believes in the Word of God. This is truly so. God desires to have our hearts and our faith that believes in the Word of the righteousness of God. Abraham followed after the Word of the righteousness of God with complete faith and he was someone who obeyed the Word of God in faith. Therefore, the fact that God commanded Abraham to offer his son as a burnt offering shows that God was testing his heart. This means that God desired all of Abraham’s heart. And, in the same way as God required of Abraham, God desires our hearts and our faith that believes in the Word of God as well.
What Does God Truly Desire of Us?
God desires us to have the faith that believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, which is the righteousness of God in our hearts. God does not desire to accept our works or anything else but our hearts. He also desires that the faith that believes in the righteousness of God be in our hearts. What else does God desire from us? As God commanded Abraham to offer up his son as a burnt offering, God desires you and me to have faith in the righteousness of His Son Jesus Christ.
Truly, God the Father desired to remove the sins of those of us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit once and for all in order to save us by fulfilling the righteousness of God by giving us His Son Jesus Christ as a propitiation for our salvation. You and I have been saved once and for all by faith which believes in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The righteousness of the Lord has made us, the righteous, to be clean without any sin at all. We commit so much sin, but the Lord removed all our sins once and for all by having all our sins placed on Him when He was baptized by John the Baptist and through dying on the Cross shedding His life blood. Through this righteousness of God, those of us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit have become pure souls without any sin.
In this manner, God the Father has blotted out all our sins by having Jesus Christ take on all of our sins through His baptism and by having His Son to be sacrificed. However, there is one thing that God still desires of us. He asks that we have a heart that completely believes in the righteousness of God. He desires to receive our whole heart. What is it that God requires of us in our spiritual lives? God is speaking to us: “I removed all your sins once and for all through My Son. You do not have any sin now. I have removed all of your sins, but do you love me? And, do you follow after me? Do you give your hearts to Me fully?” What does God mean by this? It means that God does not require any good work from us, but that He requires what is most precious to us—our whole hearts.
Why Does God Require That We Have in Our Hearts the Faith Which Believes in the Righteousness of God?
Why does God require that we have faith that believes in the righteousness of God in our hearts? The reason is because God has given His heart and His love to us. And so, as He gave His heart to us first, God desires that we also give our hearts to Him. What is most important for you and I that are thankful for the grace of God that granted us the remission of sins is not showing off some meritorious achievement of what we have done for the Lord, but rather, what God truly delights in and desires is our faith that believes in the righteousness of God and also everything that we own in Christ. Truly, God requires that you and I give our hearts of true faith to Him. He says, “I have blotted out all your sins through My righteousness once and for all. Where is your heart at right now?”
Dear fellow believers, if there is something that is most important to us as human beings, what might that be? It is our life. But, although our life is precious to us, what is more important and valuable is our faith. And, God desires to receive this heart of faith that is most precious to us. God desires to receive our heart which is thankful for His grace and which proclaims, “God has made me to be without sin by the gospel of the water and the Spirit. He has saved me from all of my sins. The Lord has made me into a person without sin by this genuine gospel of the water and the Spirit.” In this manner, God clearly desires to receive our hearts which constantly gives thanks to Him.
Truly, in our spiritual lives, it is most important for us to give our hearts to God whenever we go before Him. How would God react if we were to go before Him with some past merits, works, possessions or fruit of the earth that we have served God with up until now, saying “This should be good enough?” God will never receive them from us. Such faith only amounts to our own righteousness, and before God it is nothing more than pride.
Who are the people whom God cherishes and is pleased with the most? Our God is most pleased with those who ponder on the depth of His grace, those who have a heart of thankfulness for the grace which blotted out every single one of their sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit and to those who serve the Lord with a heart of thankfulness. We must take a moment to think about what we have given to God as we have grown in our spiritual life. And, we must come to realize the grace of God. What God desires of us more than anything else is to receive our hearts that are thankful for His Grace. This is truly so. Although we are weak and lacking, when we with hearts of thanksgiving towards God serve Him, proclaim the gospel of the water and the Spirit, serve the Church and do all things with thanksgiving for His Grace which has saved us, then God will accept and be pleased with our hearts.
How Thankful Are You towards God?
Dear fellow believers, you and I must think about how thankful we are in our lives for the grace of salvation by which God blotted out all our sins once and for all. We have clearly received the remission of sins once and for all through faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit which is the righteousness of the Lord. So, as we live our lives, we are able to ponder the fathomless grace of God. Because we are always lacking and each time we recognize our shortcomings, we are reminded of the righteousness of God. God has already blotted out and borne all our sins once and for all through His baptism and His shedding of blood. Moreover, we continue to need this righteousness of God. And so, we are reminded to be thankful in our hearts to the Lord once again. Just because we have received the remission of our sins once and for all, this does not mean that we should be thankful only once. As we live out our whole lives, whenever we recognize our shortcomings, we must live with a heart that is always thankful to the Lord in the faith which believes in the righteousness of God.
Dear fellow believers, take heed of this. You and I must not forget the righteousness of God that has saved us from all of our sins once and for all. As we live our entire lives, we must live with a heart that gives thanks to the Lord by ruminating upon the grace of our wonderful salvation. The Bible records that people with shortcomings and people who sinned a lot gave thanks more to God for His righteousness. We always commit sins in our lives, whether with our actions or with our hearts. Since we have wholly received the remission of sins from God, it is not correct to say, “I still have sin,” but it is a proper expression to say that “I still sin.” Nevertheless, we must remember the fact that the Lord has removed once and for all by His righteousness even all of our personal sins that we continually commit. And, because you and I are such fallible beings that cannot but continually commit sin; we must know that through faith in the righteousness of God we can have a heart that continues to give thanks to Him.
Dear fellow believers, are your actions whole? Because there is no sin in your hearts, you yourselves are whole by faith. But are your deeds perfect? No. We are never perfect by our works. We are insufficient in our works, but the Lord has already borne them all through the baptism which He received in the Jordan River. In this manner, we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with all our hearts. Then, do we give thanks for the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Or are we not thankful? We give thanks for and believe in the fact that our Lord has borne even all of the personal sins that we commit because we are weak and frail.
We are the righteous who have already received the remission of all our sins, but we can grow apart from God by becoming sorry again and agonize over all of the sins that we commit in our hearts or with our actions in our actual lives. This will happen if we do not have faith in the righteousness of God. But by being reminded once again that our Lord has already borne all of our sins once and for all through His baptism, we can breathe a sigh of relief and give deep thanks to the Lord. Yes we can. We can always be reminded of and be thankful for the Truth of salvation that God has made us to be without sin like this; that the Lord has saved us from the sins that we commit daily because we are lacking once and for all; and that He has delivered us from all of these sins. God desires that we be thankful for His grace, that we serve Him and that we follow after Him.
In today’s Scripture passage, God tested Abraham. He thus commanded him, “Abraham, offer your son Isaac as a burnt offering.” Dear fellow believers, think about this. This son of Abraham, who was called Isaac, was a child that God had promised unconditionally. And He actually gave this son to Abraham some twenty years after He had promised him when he was 100 years old. But, what a thunderbolt from the clear blue sky is it that he had to have this son to be a burnt offering to God? However, this was to test the heart and faith of Abraham, and it wasn’t given to actually take the son of Abraham from him. God tested Abraham’s heart by saying: “I have truly loved you and have blessed you. I have made you the father of all nations and have blessed you by making you righteous. I have said that those who bless you will be blessed and that those who curse you will be cursed. However, with regard to the blessings that I have given you, do you truly let them abide in your heart and do you believe in them? Are you truly able to give everything that you have, all of it to me without thinking twice if I were to ask for it? Do you truly have a heart that is thankful to me?”
Abraham, who heard the Word of God, woke up early the next morning, placed a saddle on the donkey and left on a journey with his son Isaac including wood for this burnt sacrifice. And, Abraham went to one of the mountains in the land of Moriah as God had instructed him, piled up the wood, tied the hands of his son, and tried to kill his only son. Let’s look hard at this Scripture passage. There is no expression of hesitation or delay in the heart of Abraham. None at all!
What if this happened to you and me? If God told us to kill and offer our sons to Him, would we not struggle over this all night? Of course, since God is clearly not pleased with the sacrifice of a human being, there are probably some people of faith who trust God and offer the sacrifice that God requires knowing that it is merely a test from Him. Even if this was so, I am sure there would be some hesitation in the heart. But Abraham put aside all of his thoughts and arranged things at full speed.
Abraham believed unwaveringly in the promise of God. He thought to himself, “God has told me to offer my son as a burnt offering. But, God has clearly said that He would make my descendants as the sand on the seashore and the stars in the sky through this child. I believe God will certainly fulfill His promise. I am sure of it.” Abraham had such unshakable faith towards God. Even if he were to kill his son, Abraham believed that God would bring this son back to life again and fulfill the Word of promise exactly as He had spoken (Hebrews 11:19). In this way, God tested Abraham but the faith of Abraham was steadfast. He had a sure faith. And so, in order to have his son be a burnt sacrifice as an offering to God, he placed the wood on the stone altar and tied his son up.
When we read today’s Scripture passage, we see that this son Isaac did not resist that much. And so we see the father and the son were the same. Finally, as Abraham was about to kill his son, God spoke and said, “Abraham, Abraham. Do not lay a hand on your son. I know your heart now. Because you have not withheld your only beloved son and offered him to Me, I know your heart. Now, I know that you truly love Me.” Yes, God had truly tested the faith of Abraham.
Dear fellow believers, our faith must be like that of Abraham. His faith was strong enough to give his son up without any hesitation to God if it pleased Him. Then, where do you think such a faith like Abraham’s comes from? This faith comes from the assurance that “God has saved me from all of my sins by the gospel of the water and the Spirit, He has removed all my sins and He is the God who has blotted them all out as well.”
How Can We Serve and Follow after God?
Only those who believe that God has blotted out all our sins by His righteousness and be thankful for that grace can wholly serve God and follow after Him. Only those of us who believe that God has saved us from all of our sins through His righteousness and are thankful for this salvation can give what is most precious of ourselves to God the Father. Where does the strength of our love for God come from? It comes from faith which believes in the righteousness of God and the love that God has given us. The strength to love God exerts itself within us when we have this faith which believes in the righteousness of God. Do you think we have anything else that deserves God’s approval? Even if we gained much spiritual experience or maturity, we must dearly serve and follow after God with a heart which gives thanks for the grace of salvation by which He has perfectly saved us from all our sins. The person who has such a heart before God will be dearly blessed by Him. The Book of Romans states, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Only the person who truly loves God is able to give what is most precious of all his possessions to God as Abraham did.
If we desire to be like Abraham, there is only one thing that we can do. We must trust in the fact that Jesus Christ has borne all our sins once and for all through the baptism that He received from John the Baptist and by dying on the Cross. Only the one who is thankful for the grace of salvation by which God made him or her to become someone without sin through faith in the righteousness of Jesus Christ can lead a blessed spiritual life like Abraham. Truly, the strength that we have to love God comes forth from a heart that gives thanks for the grace of the salvation which God gave to us.
The Strength to Love God Comes from the Faith That Believes That All Our Sins Were Blotted Out by the Righteousness of God
Dear fellow believers, do you have sin? Or do you not have sin? Did Jesus Christ take away all the sins that you have committed and will ever commit through His baptism? Or did He not? This sin, that sin, and another sin—when we look back on our lives, we have left an endless trail of sin. Nevertheless, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is also the Almighty God, has completely removed all of those sins. Jesus Christ had the appointed servant to baptize Him and, through this baptism in the Jordan River, He bore all those filthy sins once and for all. And so, through this complete work of salvation, we have believed and have become righteous without sin.
Have your sins been placed on Jesus Christ once and for all by His baptism? Or have they not? Our Lord scooped up and took all your sins that are as numerous as sand once and for all by being baptized by John the Baptism and paid them off on the Cross. Our sins were placed upon the Lord once and for all. Through Jesus Christ, we have become holy people without any sin once and for all. Dear fellow believers, take heed of this. It is all because of the Lord’s grace that we have come to be without sin. The Lord has borne all our sins once and for all through His baptism and so whoever believers in Him has become someone who is without sin. If Jesus Christ had not taken away all our sins, then we would have remained filthy people even until now. But what is the true righteousness of God like? The Lord has taken away all our sins once and for all through His righteousness. Now, since those of us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are without sin and our hearts are clean, we have become people who can do all of the things that God commands us as Abraham had done. We are thankful to God, so we are receptive and glad to do what God tells us to do. And so, we are now able to perfectly serve God.
We Must Confirm Again the Fact That Our Sins Have Been Placed on Jesus Christ Once and for All
Dear fellow believers, we are people who have received the remission of sins once and for all by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. But, as Jesus washed the feet of Peter to remind him that all his personal sins had been washed away, we must confirm again in our hearts the fact that Jesus Christ has already washed away all our sins through the baptism He received from John the Baptist. We must slowly examine and confirm in our hearts the fact that Jesus has borne and taken away all our sins once and for all through His baptism and His shed blood. That is how we can become free from sin in our hearts. The Lord has borne all our sins and shed His blood through the righteous work of salvation, but if we do not make certain on our part the fact that our sins were placed on Jesus Christ once and for all, then even if we have clearly received the remission of sins, we cannot help but remain in a uncertain state of heart as that of a sinner. Isn’t this true?
Therefore, you and I must go over all of our sins and examine whether or not these sins have actually been placed upon Jesus Christ when He was baptized by John the Baptist. Only then will our hearts be wholly cleansed, and we can serve the righteousness of God vigorously and joyfully as those who are without sin. God has blotted out all the sins of all mankind, including the sins of those who will be born in the future. For example, it is 1995 right now; it has been 1995 years since Jesus came to this earth. Jesus bore all our sins when He was baptized at the age of thirty. Thus, Jesus took away the entire sins of every person in the world, starting from Adam until the end of this world, 1995 years ago through His baptism.
God on His part had all our sins placed on Him once and for all through His baptism and by His righteousness. But, most humans on their part have not done the job of placing their sins onto Jesus Christ. God, on His part, has eradicated all of our sins and has opened up the gate of Heaven. And, He has allowed anyone who is without sin to enter into that gate.
Then, what must we human beings do? We must accept that all our sins have been passed onto Jesus Christ through His baptism. But it is only possible to accept this when there is true faith in our hearts. It is truly important for us to do this. To believe that we were sinners and to believe that all our sins of our entire lifetime that are as numerous as sand have been passed onto Jesus Christ is what is absolutely needed on our part as human beings. You and I must lead our lives on this earth confirming this on a daily basis the fact that all our sins were passed onto Jesus Christ. And each time we do this, we must wholeheartedly give thanks to Jesus for bearing all our sins. Yes, this is right. We must be the people who are always thankful for the fact that God has saved us completely. We are always lacking and weak so we can always give thanks to God. I am saying that our shortcomings and weakness are the reason that we can give thanks to God and also praise Him. On the contrary, if we were not lacking or weak but perfect, we would not have sinned, and there would be no reason for us to give thanks and praise God who has taken away all our sins.
We Are Able to Give Thanks to the Lord All the More Because We Are Weak Human Beings
Dear fellow believers, take heed of this. Because we human beings are weak existences still living in the flesh, we are able to give thanks to the Lord who has removed even our weaknesses. Through our weakness which is the reason why we give thanks to the Lord, we truly give thanks to Him. Dear fellow believers, isn’t this right?
God said that He has sympathized with the weaknesses of our human flesh (Hebrews 4:15). Because our Lord came to this earth being incarnated in human flesh, He was tempted by food and honor like us, so He understands everything about us. Our Lord, who experienced the weaknesses of the flesh, has borne all our sins that we commit because of the frailty of our flesh. He thus saved you and me. Now, what we must do on our part is to believe that all our sins have already been passed onto Jesus Christ.
Let us believe this and give thanks to God in our lives. As we live out our lives, when our weakness has truly been exposed and when we commit sin, what are we to do? We are reminded of our faith that this sin of ours has already been passed onto Jesus, therefore, we give thanks to the Lord once again. We come to think, “If God had not borne even this sin then I would have remained a person with sin,” and so we give thanks to the Lord who has already borne all our sins. Put differently, when our weakness is revealed then we can give thanks to the Lord once more, and with the faith that we do not have any sin, our hearts will desire to do the righteous work which God instructs us to do.
When Do We Recognize That We Fear God?
When we realize that we do not have any sin and that we are clean, we are then able to serve God as Abraham did. When do we trust in God as our own God, and begin to love Him, be thankful towards Him and fear Him? This is possible only when we have the faith that believes in God. If we do not have this faith that believes in God then it will be impossible for us to fear Him.
In today’s Scripture passage, God told Abraham to offer his son up as a burnt offering. Dear fellow believers, please think about this. Even if it was the order of God, how could he kill and offer his son to God? However, Abraham, our father in the faith, believed that God would definitely fulfill what He had spoken. He believed that the Word of God is the truth that does not change and is forever. God spoke a Word of promise to Abraham a long time ago. He said, “Through your son, your seed, I will make your descendants on this earth to be as many as the stars in the sky.” Abraham believed God. He believed that even if his son were to be put to death God would raise this son back to life again so that his descendants would continue on, and this is why he was able to offer his son to God without hesitation. When Abraham sought after God with such a complete faith, God said, “Now I know that you fear Me.” God accepted and praised Abraham, who had a whole faith.
Abraham obeyed God when asked to offer his son up as a burnt offering. Where does such an obedient behavior come from? It comes from a faith that believes in God. This righteous deed does not arise from any work of the flesh but from a faith which is in one’s heart. Abraham believed in the Word of God just the way it was. Do you and I then believe in the Word God that He blotted out all of our sins and that He has prepared Heaven for us just the way it was spoken? If so, then we are the people of faith like Abraham who are approved and praised by God. Truly, the faith of Abraham that believed in God produced a work of offering his most precious son to God. What does this mean? It means that Abraham was able to do something like this because He believed in God. This is the same for us. All of our righteous deeds are produced from our faith that believes in God.
I Pray That You Would Become People of Faith like Abraham
There is only one way to become a person of faith like Abraham. Faith that God took away all my sins, faith that God is my Father and my Savior—faith like this bears works like those of Abraham and, through these deeds, we become people who are blessed before God. God always desires to have our hearts of faith. Truly, God desires that we have whole faith in our hearts. God does not require good deeds and virtuous acts which we have performed until now, but to His question, “Do you still believe in Me? Do you believe that I have blotted out and cleansed all your sins away as your Savior? Do you have a heart of thanksgiving and do you believe the Word of promises that I have made?” He desires that we answer, “Yes, I believe in Your Word and I believe in You.” Therefore, you and I must have a heart of obedience, thanksgiving and reverence before God. God desires that we have a heart that loves and obeys Him. Even at this moment, God is testing you and me as He did to Abraham.
From time to time, we may notice that God is testing us in various areas of our life. Through these tests, God is asking us, “Do you love Me? Do you really love Me and do you believe in Me?” In response, we have to answer, “Lord, you know that I love You.” We can only answer like this when we completely trust in God and follow after Him as Abraham did.
When God tests us, we must face the test with a heart of thanksgiving. I ask that you give God your faith and your heart. And, with your heart and by faith, I ask that you serve the Lord. Follow after God in this way. Then, I believe God will say the same Word that He said to Abraham: “I now know that you love Me and fear Me.” And when we have this type of faith, God will give us all of the blessings that He gave to Abraham.
Therefore, we must be the people of faith who completely believe in God. Whenever we stand before God, we must stand before Him as the people of faith. We must not stand before Him with our works, saying, “I have done this and that for you, and I will do this for you in the future.” Instead, we must stand before God solely by faith saying: “I believe in the following. You are my God, my Lord and my Christ. Lord, You have blotted out all of my sins and You are my Lord who has made me to be without sin. You are the Lord who made me to be Your child. You are the Lord who has prepared Heaven for me. I cannot help but love You. Although I am weak, I love You. Please accept me and speak to me what You desire to say. As Your servant, I will listen to and obey You. And, I believe that I am Your servant. Although I am lacking, entrust me with Your work. I will serve You.”
Yes, this is right. You and I must always stand before God as people of faith. We must not stand before Him with our works but with our faith. We must stand before Him as people of faith. When we stand before God by our faith as Abraham did with the genuine faith in God, then we will be able to do righteous works like Abraham did. When we glorify God and follow after Him with our hearts, then we will eventually be approved by God and receive all of the blessings that God gives. Above all, we must believe the fact that God has blotted out all our sins. We must always give thanks that our sins have been passed onto Jesus Christ and that now we have now become clean.
Yes, we must always have a heart of thanksgiving before the Lord. We must always give thanks and always believe in God as we follow after our Lord. This is the blessed faith of Abraham which was approved of by God.