“Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her and lay with her, and violated her. His soul was strongly attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the young woman and spoke kindly to the young woman. So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, ‘Get me this young woman as a wife.’ And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter. Now his sons were with his livestock in the field; so Jacob held his peace until they came. Then Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him. And the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved and very angry, because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, a thing which ought not to be done. But Hamor spoke with them, saying, ‘The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter. Please give her to him as a wife. And make marriages with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters to yourselves. So you shall dwell with us, and the land shall be before you. Dwell and trade in it, and acquire possessions for yourselves in it.’ Then Shechem said to her father and her brothers, ‘Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will give. Ask me ever so much dowry and gift, and I will give according to what you say to me; but give me the young woman as a wife.’ But the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father, and spoke deceitfully, because he had defiled Dinah their sister. And they said to them, ‘We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a reproach to us. But on this condition we will consent to you: If you will become as we are, if every male of you is circumcised, then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters to us; and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people. But if you will not heed us and be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and be gone.’”
The Landmark of Faith
We are leading a life of faith after having been saved from sin by believing in the Lord-given gospel of the water and the Spirit, and from now on we must not love this world as much as we love God. Although I am admonishing you not to love the world, it’s probably not easy for those of you who have loved this world to stop doing it right away. Everyone is stubborn in their own way, and this is the problem. You also are probably trying to live according to your stubborn desires.
But there is one thing that we must clearly realize. This is that even for the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, if they start loving this world more than God, then their hearts and bodies will be defiled, and they will ultimately face a great deal of suffering. All those who have been saved from sin by believing in the righteousness of Jesus must draw a clear line of salvation in their hearts. Their hearts must clearly have faith in the righteousness of the Lord. And after being saved from all their sins, they should not maintain this faith only as a formal religious practice. Put differently, if you have indeed received the true remission of sins into your heart by believing in the righteousness of the Lord, then from then on you must continue to love God more than the world. This ought to be unambiguously clear to you.
Indeed, when it comes to our Christian lives, our faith must be unequivocally clear. Even now, when you take a stroll in the hills, you can still come across a fixed marker, such as a concrete block that indicates a boundary line—that is a landmark. Put differently, a landmark sets the boundary of someone’s land.
Likewise, the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit must draw a clear line in their hearts on the following question: “Am I one of God’s people, or am I the same as the people of this world?” Referring to this matter, the Bible uses the example of circumcision and calls it spiritual circumcision, saying that the born-again are the saints who have been circumcised in the heart.
Dinah Went Out to See the World
The main protagonist in today’s Scripture passage is Dinah, the daughter of Leah and Jacob. It was only recently that Dinah’s father Jacob had left his uncle and settled in the land of Hamor, the prince of the Hivites. At that time, Jacob was at peace for he had for the first time finished building a house for his family to dwell in and a stable for his livestock. Although Jacob had many sons, he only had one daughter named Dinah.
As her father left his in-laws’ house and built a new house in a foreign land, Dinah became curious about these surrounding peoples and wanted to see their culture. She wanted to find out about her neighbors’ customs, how they looked, and what their religion was. For this reason, Dinah went out to look around the neighboring land, but when Shechem, the son of the tribal chief, saw her, he fell in love with her at first sight. Dinah was marveled by the outside world she saw for the first time, but in the end, she was kidnapped by Shechem and he raped her. The important point here is that Shechem loved Dinah, and that Dinah herself did not dislike him that much.
So, the two sought to get married. But to get married, they needed permission from both their families. On the groom’s side, Shechem was all ready for marriage. He was rich enough to give all the dowry Dinah’s family might have demanded. In the Middle East, even nowadays, a groom has to offer a lot of dowry to bring his bride home. In this aspect, young men in Korea are actually quite lucky. If they were in the Middle East, they would not be able to marry unless they were rich. By the way, Shechem was ready for whatever was needed for marriage.
But what about Dinah’s family, that is, Jacob’s family? Since they believed in the Lord God, they could not marry any Gentiles at all. Indeed, they were a holy family that believed in Jehovah, and Dinah was the only daughter they had. So neither material incentives nor interest calculation provided enough grounds for any Gentile to marry Jacob’s family members. They had to have faith in the Jehovah God as their God.
Jacob was enraged to hear that her daughter was defiled, but because he was living in a foreign land, he could not do anything about it. So he waited for his sons to return from tending the flock. And when all his sons returned in the evening, he held a family meeting and said, “Your only sister Dinah suffered like this in this land. What should we do?” When Dinah’s brothers heard this, they were so enraged that they wanted to slaughter the whole tribe of Shechem. So they first put out a condition to Shechem’s tribe, insisting that they all had to be circumcised before Shechem could marry their sister. They said, “Because we are God’s people, we can never intermarry with any tribe that is not circumcised. But if you are circumcised, then we will give our sister to you.”
In those days, when a man was circumcised, the pain was so severe for the first three days that he could not even stand up and move around freely. Nowadays, the procedure does not involve so much pain due to medical advancements, but in those ancient days, it was a very painful procedure as the foreskin was cut off with a sharp stone. So by the third day, it was not unusual for the circumcised to come down with an infection, and the pain was so excruciating that they could not even stand up.
Jacob’s sons lied to Shechem and Hamor his father, the prince of the Hivites that every male of the tribe should be circumcised to take daughters from Jacob’s family. So they accepted this proposal and were all circumcised. And on the third day since they were circumcised, Jacob’s sons killed each and every male of this tribe. In other words, on the third day since being circumcised and while every male in the land was in great pain, Jacob’s sons came armed with swords and slaughtered every male as though they were hunting. They killed all the men in that land; these men could have fought back, but because they had been circumcised, they were in too much pain to even stand up. In this way, Jacob’s sons killed every male in the tribe including Shechem.
At that time, Jacob’s sons numbered only twelve. And even adding his servants did not increase the number that much. Also, since Jacob had left his uncle not too long ago, he did not have that many grandchildren. Jacob’s situation was so precarious that his entire family could be wiped out if his neighbors rose up in arms and struck him.
God’s Children Cannot Marry Any Gentiles
My fellow believers, this is not a mere historical event. Through this historical event, God is teaching you and me a spiritual truth on faith. What then is this truth? It is none other than the statute that God’s children can never marry any Gentiles. If anyone disobeys this will of God and marries a Gentile, then this person would have to anticipate his or her betrayal against the righteousness of God.
Evil spirits work in those who have not been born again, whereas in the born-again, it’s the Holy Spirit that works. This Holy Spirit strengthens the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, makes them pray to God, and also gives them spiritual courage. Like this, the Holy Spirit that dwells in those who have been born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit is completely different from the spirits that dwell in those who have not been born again. Therefore, even the faithful will suffer tremendous difficulties if they marry anyone who has a different spirit. Even worse, they will be so weary that they won’t be able to wage spiritual war in their lives. Even though we the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit do not hate non-believers, these people hate us extremely. The Bible says that a thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy (John 10:10), and like this thief, those who have not been born again are intent on killing the truly born-again. You have to clearly realize this. That is why those who have been born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit can never live in peace with those who have not.
Everyone must be circumcised in the heart and lead a life of a spiritually circumcised saint. That one should be spiritually circumcised in the heart means that all one’s sins should be cut off from his or her heart by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with the heart. “Do I really belong to God’s people who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Or do I belong neither to the people of God nor to the people of this world, but stuck somewhere in the middle?” God is telling us to draw a clear line in our hearts on such issues. In other words, God is telling us to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit clearly with our hearts.
What will happen if you lead your life just like the people of the world despite the fact that you have received the remission of sins and been born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? What will happen, in other words, if you think to yourself, “What is so different when these Christians also profess Jesus and testify to their conviction of salvation?” Such a person is someone who does not draw a clear line of salvation in his heart. God neither tolerates such unclear faith nor is He pleased by it. Strictly speaking, such people have not reached their salvation yet even though they profess to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with their lips. Today, God is telling you and me to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with our hearts and live by this unwavering faith.
Your Faith Must Be Clear Enough to See Whether You Belong to God’s People or to the Devil’s People
“Do you belong to God’s people or to the Devil’s people? Or are you just a religious practitioner who believes in Jesus only as a matter of moral justice, having nothing to do with your being born again?” It’s on such issues that our God wants us to draw a clear line demarcating our faith.
When the people of Israel were about to enter the land of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua—that is, before they captured Jericho and stepped inside the land of Canaan—their border was set by the Jordan River. When the Israelites tried to cross this Jordan River, it was around the time of harvesting wheat, which means that it was at the peak of the rainy season that the Israelites crossed the Jordan. This was a time when the Jordan River surged and it was impossible to walk across it. God then spoke to Joshua, saying, “Let the priests among the people of Israel shoulder the Ark of the Lord God and step inside the Jordan River before everyone else. The river will then stop flowing. When the river ceases to flow and is divided and dried like the Red Sea did, then let the people of Israel enter it.” This was a historic event that was inscribed in the heart of every Israelite.
My fellow believers, our lives of faith must also have this event of the Jordan River. Just as the Jordan River was divided, so must a clear line of faith be drawn in our hearts. “I am a child of God, and we are His people.” You and I must have this faith all the time. Of course, it’s possible for us to go into business with someone in this world who has not been born again. But doing God’s work with such people is in itself impossible and makes us the born again weary. That is why God told us not to work with any idolaters. Given the fact that this is what the Word of God says, why would we ever want to unite with those who have not been born again and work with such people?
Today, God is telling us to have this unwavering faith to wholeheartedly believe in His righteousness. You and I need such clear faith in the righteousness of God to seal our hearts. “I am one of God’s people. Though I am with you, I don’t belong to your tribe. I am from a fundamentally different seed.” This is the very faith that we must have.
My fellow believers, the people of Israel, God’s children, cannot marry other tribes. A spiritually born again person cannot marry and live with anyone who has not been born again. Our faith in the righteousness of God is not the kind of faith that the religious people in this world ordinarily have. We believe in God with the actual faith that believes in the righteousness of God. We must be clear about this, and engrave it deep into our hearts that the Word of God instructs us not to marry anyone who has not been born again. Even if the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit make accommodations and try to live with someone who has not been born again, in the end, they still cannot live with such a person nor have any fellowship with that person. No fellowship can be had because their hearts are troubled. No matter how many concessions the born-again may make for the sake of maintaining a good relationship, when they listen to those who have not been born again, they say such childish and ridiculous things that it is impossible to be with them.
Those Who Believe in the Gospel of the Water and the Spirit Are God’s People
We believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and although among ourselves we may argue over who is better or worse off, anyone of us is incomparably better to those who have not been born again. The Jews, the people of Israel, consider the Gentiles as dogs. It’s not an arrogant thought for us to also consider those who have not been truly born again—that is, those who still have not become God’s people—as sinners. The word “sinner” here refers to someone who still has not been saved from his or her sin. Everyone in this world who has not been born again is in fact a sinner.
“I am a born-again person. I am one of God’s people. I am different from any sinner of this world.” We must be clear about this faith. We must believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit unwaveringly from the depth of our hearts. Rather than just thinking vaguely, we must draw a clear line in our hearts to believe that we are God’s own people and His children. No matter how weak and insufficient we may look from inside God’s Church, when we go out into the world, we will see that even the smartest people there cannot prevail over the weakest among us. The people of this world cannot even be compared to the people of God, just as no dog can ever win over a lion no matter how big that dog may be.
Having saved us from the world through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, God says to us, “You are My saints and My people. You are My children and I am your Father.” As people like this we have received tremendous blessings. Your heart must have unwavering faith in this. It’s my sincerest desire for you that all the saints here should lead lives of faith by believing in this. Don’t just know the gospel of the water and the Spirit only as a matter of intellectual assent. I ask you to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with the heart, and with this faith never be tempted by the world nor fall into it. If we the born-again fall into the world, both our hearts and bodies will be defiled. This will happen without fail.
Of course, it’s impossible for us not to live in this world. However, even though we are living in this sinful world, we are still working in this world to spread God’s gospel of the water and the Spirit. In other words, it’s for the sake of the gospel of the water and the Spirit that you and I are living in this world.
Because of Curiosity about the World
My fellow believers, Jacob’s daughter Dinah in today’s Scripture passage was so enchanted and enticed by the world that she went out into it. Of course, at first she had no desire to do so at all. If she knew what was going to happen to her—that is, if she knew that she would face such suffering, be unable to marry, inflict tremendous harm on her parents and family, and bring them so much grief—then she would have never gone out to the world.
What was the cause that led Dinah to venture out into the world? It was her fascination with the world. It was because of her curiosity about the world. “The people of the world are different from my father, mother, and brothers. Men here speak very differently from my brothers. They also look quite different.” Like this, she was fascinated by the world and its people. As she saw the world in this light, she was increasingly drawn to it and tempted by it, and ultimately, she got so ensnared with it that she could not get out of it even if she wanted to. What happened to Dinah in doing this? As soon as she fell into the world, she made a huge mistake that caused a great deal of worry to her father and put her entire family at risk of being slaughtered. Jacob’s family would have been completely slaughtered were it not for God’s protection. But because God had decided to multiply the people of Israel through Jacob, his family was protected. Otherwise, Jacob’s family could have been easily exterminated.
In fact, Dinah wronged not only her family but also God. This implies that although we understand each other in the Church as we are all weak, if people of God live with sinners rather than in their royal domain, they will be fatally defiled. Because of this incident involving Jacob’s daughter Dinah, the children of Israel were put on high alert.
No Righteous Person Should Prowl around the World
Why did God have today’s Scripture passage written in this way, what is it teaching us? Of course, the born-again people of God also have some yearning for the world. This yearning is very small at first. However, if this desire for the world grows increasingly it will eventually result in luring them out into the world, then they will be defiled for sure and inevitably lose countless things they possessed. Take a look at the Word here. How much did Jacob’s daughter Dinah lose once she went out into the world? Our saints therefore should live in the dominion of God; they should never go out into the world and prowl around there as Dinah did. If this happens, they will suffer countless losses in the end. They will face irreversible losses. Such is the truth that God is teaching you and me today.
How does Satan tempt the born-again? He tries to lure them out into the world. He offers fame at first, and then he offers pleasure little by little. At first, it may seem as though it’s okay for you to be drawn by Satan’s temptation just a little. But ultimately, you will suffer countless losses and irreversible damages because of this. That is what today’s Word is teaching us.
My fellow believers, to be honest, I had also prowled around the world just like Dinah had done when I first met the Lord. Such desires were quite intense. I wanted to go out into the world. But I thought about the consequences of such an action, and I reached the following conclusion: “I’ve been saved, but if I prowl around this world, I will end up defiling both my body and my heart. Then no one in my family will be saved. Not even my own children will be saved then.” I realized that if I went out into the world in search of fame and fortune, then those who were supposed to be saved through me would not be saved. Indeed, just as there were many things to see when Dinah went out into the streets of the Hevites, the saved are inevitably bound to be visited by the glittering temptations of the world.
When I first met the Lord, do you know what my mother said to me, who was the director of a large prayer center? She said that she would buy me a car. She also said, “If you want to go abroad to study, I will pay for it. I will give you whatever you want if you would just stay here with me. If you need money, I will give you all my possessions.” This was the lure that she threw at me. But I opened the Word of God and with this Word spoke to my mother. My mother then said to me, “What you believe is not absolutely wrong. But I still want you to work with me in this recognized denomination.” However, I told her that I could not be with someone who was not born again. I made it clear to her that I could not be with them just because I had studied theology in their seminary and that I intended to open a church on my own. My mother then tempted me again with threatening words. She said if I rejected all her offers to the end, she could not give me any money at all. She told me to leave if I wanted, but she wasn’t going to give me any money.
At that time, countless friends visited me also to convince me otherwise. Saying that I needed get back to my senses, they beseeched me to listen to their advice, saying, “There is nothing wrong with what you say or what you believe. But how many people in this world have this clear Word and believe in it as it is unwaveringly? Although you are not wrong, if you are so straightforward, you won’t have any congregation left as everyone will run away. The senior pastors in our denomination will also be offended. So keep your head down. This will be for your own good.”
So I said to them, “My friends, I’m thankful for your advice. But don’t worry about me. It’s not as though I am not serving God, nor am I about to go out into the world. So don’t worry. Come and see me when I open my church.” Then they said, “You can’t do that. You can’t do that by yourself.” I replied, “Don’t say such things.” Like this, my friends had also tempted me.
But if I had listened to these friends advice, then my heart would have been defiled just like Dinah in today’s Scripture passage was defiled by being raped. My faith would also have been defiled along with my whole life. After this time had passed by, I thanked God. When I went forth having faith in the Word of the Lord, God’s work rose up, my family members were saved, and what seemed impossible actually became possible.
If the Righteous Follow the World, They Will Lose Their Everything Both in Body and in Spirit
I would like to give this admonishment to you because you have been born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. It does not mean that I’m saying this because I think you are following the world now out of your love for it. But what will result if you come to love the world and follow it? You will lose your everything from your body and your heart. You will suffer serious damage. Such are the consequences that will follow you if you follow the world. This is what I am trying to say here.
Perhaps some of you are saying, “One can be sure about this only if one has lived all his life, and so how do you know for sure when you have not lived all your life out there in the world yet?” However, if I were to draw my self-portrait at the age of 80, and if God were to keep me on this earth for such a long time and allow me to live until the ripe old age of 80, I know very well how I would look and how I would be living. I would carry on with my life knowing my future. Those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit can know their future if they trust in the Word of God and learn from it. They know all about what will happen without actually experiencing the world or living in it. What will happen if you follow the world? You will lose your everything both in body and in spirit. Dinah here lost both her pure spirituality and her virginal purity. She had nothing left.
This is what God is saying to us, we who are the brides of Jesus Christ. Satan tempts you and me in this way. After luring us little by little, the Devil will devour us wholly in the end. This is Satan’s strategy. Because this is Satan’s strategy our Lord used this example to teach us a valuable lesson, so that we would not be deceived by the Devil’s schemes.
The born-again must live in the dominion of the born-again without fail. Even though their circumstances may be difficult, they must still believe in God unwaveringly with their hearts, and they must live by this faith. Unless you believe with the heart, you have no real faith. Real faith comes and bears fruit only when you believe in God and follow Him in all things with a sincere heart. If you just know God as a matter of doctrine or of some intellectual dimension rather than believing in Him with your heart, and you live your life carelessly as a result, then sooner or later you will lose your everything.
Four Types of Fields
The Lord spoke of four types of fields. The first is a field by the wayside, the second is a stony field, the third is a thorny field, and the fourth is a good field. A farmer sowed seeds by the wayside, but the birds came and devoured them all. If you just know the Word of God with your head rather than believing in it with your heart, then Satan will come and devour your faith. In other words, even though when you hear the Word for the first time you listen to it as the Truth, then as time goes by, this Truth will disappear from your heart. You will have nothing left because the Devil had devoured all your faith.
Secondly, the Bible speaks of a stony field. A stony field is not entirely devoid of soil. It does have some soil, but the problem is that there are too many stones instead of soil. Because of limited soil, the seeds that are sown cannot take root even as they sprout, and so they ultimately perish as they cannot take in any water.
The third field is a thorny field. At first, the seeds grow well, but because they are shadowed by thorns, they can’t receive the sunlight and end up perishing.
The fourth field is a good field. The seeds that are sown on this field bear much fruit sixtyfold and even a hundredfold. This is the field that believes in the Word of God with the heart. It signifies one’s wholehearted faith in the Word of God.
You and I fall under one of these four fields. And most saints are now living in the third field, the thorny field. However, even if you find yourself in a thorny field, do not worry, but rather pray to God. And be honest and talk with your spiritual leaders about your problems. Seek their guidance. Unite with the Church. If you are not sure about what job you should have given your circumstances, ask one of our ministers. My fellow believers, although our ministers are not experts in this field, they know the amazing wisdom of God and His dominion, something that you do not know. In other words, they are God’s servants who know how you can obtain everything you need. Therefore, if you rely on these servants of God and consult with them, then your problems will be resolved right away. In contrast, if you continue to live in anxiety all by yourself, wondering, “How should I make a living? What should I do for my livelihood?” then your faith will perish in the end. It will die without bearing any fruit because you are being shadowed and being choked by thorns and thistles. Do you grasp this?
Those who have a stony field, the second field, do believe in God, but they believe halfheartedly. Put differently, they believe in God when it suits their circumstances and don’t believe when it doesn’t.
My fellow believers examine yourself right now to see whether the field of your heart is a field by the wayside, or a stony field, or a thorny field, or a good field. The born-again can never be the fields by the wayside nor the stony fields. Nor are they of a thorny field that do not believe with the heart. Of course, even if someone among the born again looks like a thorny field, that person has at least some belief in the Word of the Truth. After all, the seed was sown in that ground at least once. But such people have not accepted the true Word of God into their hearts nor do they believe in it completely with their hearts.
In contrast, the good field is one that wholeheartedly believes in God’s Word 100%. Whatever the Word of God says, those who are of this field believe in it even if they can’t quite fully understand it. The Resurrected Jesus once said to Peter, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some” (John 21:6). Even though this made no sense to Peter’s mind, he still did what he was told to do, saying, “I’ll do as You told me.” And when Peter cast out his net into the deep according to the Lord’s Word, he caught 153 fish. Likewise, those who believe in the Word of God wholeheartedly even as they can’t quite understand it completely in their minds—these are the people of the good fields. It is when you believe like this that God’s work arises and everything is fulfilled accordingly.
When I look at our brothers and sisters, I can see everything that’s going on in their lives. None of them is free from serious problems. Some brothers and sisters trust my words and follow me, and they also seek my advice. Others, however, neither trust me nor seek my counsel. They try to do everything according to their own wisdom and thoughts; they never want to follow the lead of God’s servants. In reality, it’s actually easier for me if they don’t follow me, since there is no need for me to admonish them nor to be responsible for their actions. But if someone seeks my advice, then I ask this person to do certain things. And since I don’t just end up entrusting them with some work but I have to be responsible for its results, I too as a result have a tough time. When someone asks me for my counsel, just giving some advice in words is not really counseling. I have to be responsible until the end. My advice should bring good results; if this doesn’t happen, then it turns into a serious headache for me.
Let Us Become Good Fields That Believe in the Word of God with the Heart
You should not believe in me, but you should believe in the Word of God. Usually, when I speak with our brothers and sisters, I rarely talk to them one on one in secret. I tend to talk to them all with the Word of God opened. The same is true when I preach. My sermons are a conversation between you and me, and I am just a messenger relaying the will of God.
However, there are some people who believe in this Word of God as preached by me, and then there are others who don’t. And there are some people who ask me about certain problems they face and others who don’t. Whenever any saint asks me for my counsel on anything, I try to give the most fitting advice. It doesn’t matter whether this saint understands it or not, or whether he likes it or not. That’s because I counsel our saints from the most impartial position, and to their greatest benefit. At that time, if the saints wholeheartedly believe in the Word of God as preached by me, and they believe in and follow the Word exactly as it is wholeheartedly as the good fields, then it will come to pass according to their faith. However, if in their worries and anxiety the saints believe halfheartedly like the stony or thorny field, or they believe only what they can understand and accept only what suits their thoughts and spit out what does not suit them, then this too will come to pass exactly according to what they believe.
My fellow believers, the smart thing to do is believe in God with all your hearts. We can go through the dominion of faith only by faith. The true Christian life is led with a sincere heart and with faith. Even when the same Word of God is heard by different people, some accept it with an Amen right away as soon as they hear it. These people carry on their everyday lives according to this faith. But what about those who, despite hearing the Word, pick and choose what they want to accept? They are the stony fields. This means that their hearts are not pure and they are filled with their own thoughts, just as a stony field has too many stones and too little soil. They weed out everything they don’t like, saying, “I don’t think this is right. That one on the other hand, seems right.” Such a field does not have sufficient soil. It consists of one-third soil and two-thirds stones. Will such a field yield any crop? No, of course not! Put differently, faith cannot grow there. Although everyone may hear the same Word, only those who believe in this Word unquestionably like the good field can receive God’s grace abundantly. Even though the Word of blessings was proclaimed at this hour, only those who truly accept it can receive these blessings. In contrast, those who don’t accept the Word of blessings even as it is being proclaimed at this hour cannot receive these blessings. There is a huge difference between those who accept the Word fully and those who don’t. This difference is evident in the God-bestowed blessings as well.
Your life of faith must be led by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with your heart. Even when we accept this gospel into our hearts by faith, the Devil still comes and tries to shake our faith. Even after we barely manage to calm our hearts, Satan still likes to devour our faith, and he hates it when we believe in the Word of God with our hearts. So we have to hold fast onto the Word of God right away before Satan devours the Word from our hearts. This is how we can manage to maintain our hearts as the good fields. Otherwise, our hearts’ fields will be ruined and fall into the fields by the wayside.
When we hold a revival meeting, God’s servants clearly preach the gospel. Some people receive the remission of sins right away, shouting out, “Amen! Hallelujah!” Others have a much tougher time. Even when they hear the Word during the revival meeting and the gospel is preached to them individually later on, explaining every detail supported by the Scriptures step by step, they still say, “According to the Word, I am sinless, but I still can’t believe that.” Such people don’t believe in the Word of God with their hearts no matter how minutely it is preached to them. What will happen to these people when they return home with a halfhearted faith in the gospel? All the Word of God they heard at the revival meeting will have disappeared, for Satan had come and devour it all. As the Devil picks up all the seeds sown on their hardened hearts of the wayside fields, they end up losing even their halfhearted faith and it turns into even harder ground. The more one wanders here and there in the world, and the more history and tradition one has, the harder the field of that heart is bound to get.
For Christians who don’t accept the gospel of the water and the Spirit wholly into their hearts, the longer they believe in Jesus, the harder the fields of their hearts become. Indeed, when we look at Christians who have believed in Jesus for a long time but have not received the remission of sins, we see that their hearts are extremely hardened. As time passes by, such people become church leaders such as deacons, elders, and pastors. When we ask them, “Do you believe in God faithfully? How do you think one can receive the Holy Spirit?” they say, “The Holy Spirit is received when a believer prays in the mountain or fast and prays.”
We then ask, “Is the Holy Spirit received in such ways? Do you then have sin in your heart or not?”
They reply, “Why should I have no sin? Everyone has sin. But, although I have sin, because I believe in Jesus, I will go to Heaven.”
We then ask again, “Are you then sinful or sinless?”
They say, “Of course, I have many sins.”
We then ask, “Can you still go to Heaven even though you have so many sins?”
They retort, “Of course I can.”
We ask again, “Then what kind of people can go to Heaven, the sinful or the sinless?”
They reply, “It’s the sinless that go to Heaven.”
We ask them finally, “Can you then go to Heaven with your sin?”
They say, “Of course I can.”
This makes no sense at all. It shows that these people themselves have no idea on how to enter Heaven. It means that their hearts’ faith has been extremely hardened. What is worse is that their hearts are overgrown with weeds that Satan has sown by the name of orthodox teachings. There are many weeds on the wayside. On a widely traveled road, various weeds such as plantains grow on the roadside. The more traveled a road is, the more weeds grow at both sides of that road. This is because weeds grow better when stepped on. Likewise, the hearts of the non-born again are all turned into the hardened weedy fields.
You and I are not the wayside fields. If someone has just recently received the remission of sins, what kind of field is this person? Perhaps, this person’s heart may be a stony field at first. It’s possible for someone to turn into the fourth field from the beginning—that is, a good field. But such a case is very rare.
Usually, new listeners to the gospel of the water and the Spirit don’t accept the gospel Word purely as it is. They listen to the gospel preachers based on their useless knowledge that they have accumulated thus far. They should change their attitudes by listening to the Word first of all when they hear someone preaching the Word of God. They say amen right away if the teachings coincide with the Word of God, thinking to himself, “What that pastor is saying doesn’t quite fit with my thoughts, but his teachings coincide with the Word. Okay, then that pastor’s words is right. Amen! I do believe so now.” He then throws away his thoughts and believes in the Word of God exactly as it is. Only then does he become a good field.
However, ordinary people whom God sought out and met even as they were not looking for Him usually start their lives of faith as the second field, that is, the stony field. Though they do believe in God, they believe only about 50 percent at the most. Some of them believe in the Word of God only 30 percent. There actually are many of such people around. When they realize that their faith is not complete and they remove the stones, they become the hearts of the thorny field. In front of them is darkness, at their sides are walls, behind them is a cliff, and so they pray to the Lord. They fit the Word into their own thoughts; this is how they live. This is the thorny field.
My fellow believers, is anything achieved just because we try in our own human thoughts? There is nothing that’s done by our own strength. Once we are born again, what happens to us is entirely up to God—we will live if God saves us, and we will die if He kills us. Now we belong to God. We have become His.
The life of faith is all about believing with the heart. In the domain of faith, there are many places that we still have not been to and many things that we have not experienced yet. Therefore, when we step into this domain we must follow the Word of God thoroughly as Abraham did when he did not know where to go. What we must do is believe in the written Word of God with our hearts.
Is it for someone else’s benefit that we believe? The domain of faith is such that even though you believe 100% now, it’s difficult to maintain 30 percent later on. What will then happen if you believe only 30 percent of the Word and chip away 70 percent when the Word falls on you? Unbelief prevails over your faith and all kinds of doubts arise in your heart. Once such unbelief accumulates, you will be doubtful of even your salvation, and you will inevitably think to yourself, “Will this really come true? Though the Word is right, will it come to pass, or will it remain unfulfilled? How should I live from now on? I am in complete darkness, shut out from everywhere, and I have no way out. I’d better give up this faith.”
Rather Than Losing Our Faith Because of Our Lust for the World, Let Us Carry Out the Work of Faith for the Rest of Our Lives
My fellow believers, faith in the Word of God demands 100 percent of us. Even if our faith is 100 percent solid, it is still liable to be slowly eroded by our carnal thoughts, the Devil, our worldly worries, and our circumstances. Barely remaining is a mustard seed-like faith. We are still weak enough even if we believe in the Word of God faithfully when we hear it, and so if we don’t believe wholeheartedly, then we will end up going out into the world just like Dinah. What will happen then? Disasters will strike us.
When I go somewhere, I have a hard time not to be distracted on the way. One day, while on my way home, I did some sightseeing in the market place and it took me two hours to get home. While living in this world, if you prowl around here and there, then two hours won’t be enough for you get to a place that would have otherwise taken you only 25 minutes. If you meet an acquaintance on the way, you will end up going astray right away. In other words, if we prowl around here and there while living in this world, we will not be able to lead an upright life of faith. Once you start looking towards the world rather than holding onto your faith, then ultimately, you will not be able to receive the blessings that God wants to give you nor will your faith grow.
If Dinah had died, that might have been the end of everything, but she did not die. From which tribe was Dinah? She was a Hebrew, a word that denotes those who crossed the River. The chief of that Hebrew tribe was her father, and that tribe itself did not have that many members. If something had gone wrong, that whole tribe could have been slaughtered by the Hevites because of Dinah.
What we must grasp in our mind from today’s Scripture passage is that we should never prowl around the world. Whenever we do anything in the world, we should be mindful of the fact that this work is to spread the gospel. How could we then allow ourselves to be deceived by the world and end up following it? It’s actually very easy to follow the world one step and two steps. And once we follow by two steps, in no time would we be following by four steps. When we thus follow four steps, from then on we will keep following the world without stopping. Where will we then be closer to, God’s Church or the world? God’s Church will drift far away from us and the world will come nearer to us. This incurs a great loss for all those people who were to be saved through us will be exterminated.
My fellow believers, a life of faith is led with a sincere heart. In today’s Scripture passage, the Lord God says that only the circumcised can take the daughters of His people. Our God is saying here that we must draw a clear line of faith in our hearts. Who are we really? Clearly, we are God’s people. As such people, there is absolutely no need for us to go out into the world and live there in servility. Should the people of God be attracted by the people of the world, look at their beauty and yearn for it? No, of course not! Know that in God’s domain, far more beautiful things than this world’s are waiting for you.
Why must we live in this world? Why must we go out to the world and work? It’s to preach the gospel of the Lord to people that we are living in this world. It’s for this purpose that we should carry on with our lives in this world. We must devote all our remaining lives to the spreading of the gospel.
The people of the world are not even comparable to us. If you were to compare me with any famous pastors around the world, it will displease me. Although I am not that great as a man, spiritually speaking, I am clearly a servant of God and one of His people. As such a man of God, I can’t be compared to anyone who has been born again. If someone were to compare me with such people, I would be deeply displeased. The born-again cannot be compared to anyone else. No matter how smart and powerful anyone may be, I can never exchange you for him. By believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, you have received the remission of sins and become God’s people. You therefore can be neither compared to nor exchanged for anyone else. Remember this clearly. God’s blessings are also bestowed through us, the born-again people of God.
While living in this world, we come across many people who have not been born again. When we pray for them, we shouldn’t ask God for anything else but to make them become truly born again. When it comes to our fellow redeemed saints, we pray for their blessings, but when it comes to the hardened who challenge God, any desire that we might have to ask for their blessings quickly disappears. Even if we want to pray for their blessings, we can’t do this unless God allows us.
My fellow believers, as those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we are clearly God’s people. We are the righteous people. As the workers of God, we must devote the rest of our lives to the spreading of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We should never place any other purpose other than this in our lives. Let us then have this faith together, draw a clear line of faith, and live our remaining lives in God’s blessings.