“And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the Lord who sanctifies you.”
I am very grateful to be here today and share the Word of God with you. I know it’s not easy on your back to be sitting on the hard floor and listening to my sermon like this, parts of which you may already have heard. So I am very thankful for your patience. After today’s worship service, there will only be one more service left for tomorrow, which will bring this revival meeting to a close. There is a wedding the day after tomorrow. The day after this, we will gather together in the Church again to share fellowship with God’s people, praise God, and worship Him. On Monday, we will pray for the lost souls, go out looking for them, and do various other things for them. And we must spread the gospel to North Korea also.
Rev. Kim and I are not that knowledgeable when it comes to current world events, but given what we have been hearing lately, we think that the time is nearing for us to spread the gospel to North Korea. It’s believed by many in North Korea are on the verge of total collapse. This week, as I share the Word with you regarding God’s statutes, which are the laws established by God, I’m thinking increasingly that the time is nearing for us to preach the gospel to North Korea, as its cruel dictatorship regime is about to collapse and profound social changes are about to be unleashed.
Rev. Kim, let’s go to North Korea when it opens up. We will each carry a backpack, with a tent and 50 Bibles. We will pool our strengths together. When that time comes, it’s not just our pastors, evangelists, and their wives who will go, but all the brothers and sisters who have received the remission of sins must also go. We must go boldly, preaching to the people of North Korean that Jesus Christ has blotted out all their sins, and that it is God, not Kim Jong-un, who provides for all their needs. North Koreans are even more likely to receive the remission of sins once the gospel is preached to them, as their hearts have been untouched by the false doctrines of modern Christianity.
When painting, what you draw with the first stroke of the brush on the blank canvas is very important. I have no doubt that when we preach the gospel clearly to North Koreans, they will receive the remission of sins for sure. There are so many fake religious teachings nowadays, just as there are many fake designer bags and clothes. It’s inevitable for fake products to outnumber genuine products, and they even look better than the original products. This morning, I had some rice mixed with sesame oil for breakfast, and Rev. Kim’s wife told me that the sesame oil was genuine. I was shocked to find out that some unscrupulous people were faking even sesame oil. In the old days, venders couldn’t deceive their customers as it would have ruined their reputation. News spread quickly as everyone knew everyone else. However, once urbanization began, some businesses began to tamper with the production process. For instance, sesame oil used to be made in a Mom-and-Pop store relying on a manual production process. Modern machinery changed all this, as it made mass production of sesame oil possible. Apparently, nowadays fake sesame oil is made easily by mixing in some other type of inferior oil and chemical additives. It’s hard to believe how far some people would go just to make some money, cooking up all kinds of schemes for such an unscrupulous end. What’s the point of making money so dishonestly like this?
I meant to speak about false gospels, but I digressed here a little. At any rate, the day will come soon when we will go to North Korea and preach the true gospel. So let us renew our strength, tighten our belt, and strap our boots. We must prepare ourselves diligently now, so that when the time comes, we can pounce upon the first opportunity to head to North Korea and spread the gospel there. If only we go there and preach the Word, many, many people will receive the remission of sins. Just as the people of Israel entered into the land of Canaan and settled down there even though the land was already inhabited by other tribes, if we just raise a flag and draw a line on the ground, it will all be ours. Of course, I am not speaking of grabbing some North Korean land, but rather, I am speaking about preaching the gospel to North Koreans. God will deliver them to us so that we can preach the gospel to them.
We Must Live with a Clear Vision of Faith
We need to have a plan for the future, thinking ahead what we will do in the years to come, such as where to plant a church next spring, and when to preach the gospel to North Korea. It’s really not an easy thing to do. In fact, it’s extremely difficult. We need even more workers of God in times like these. So let’s plan ahead for the future. Let’s plan on going to North Korea and preach the gospel there, just as we have a plan for South Korea. There are many, many places here in South Korea where our Church is not present. Our gospel workers have been looking long and hard at some of the possible locations for church planting. We must dig a well everywhere we go, so that the Word can spring forth everywhere.
When we turn to the Bible, we see that Isaac and Jacob dug a well everywhere they went. They did this in the desert. Some of Jacob’s wells still remain even to this day. Digging a spiritual well like this is what life is all about for us holy Christians. It is not easy to dig a spiritual well. It’s even more difficult that we have to dig it deep. However, once it’s dug, many thirsty people will be able to quench their thirst from this well for thousands of years to come. They will drink the living of water of Truth from the wells dug by us and receive new life. The work of life will unfold. We must therefore plant churches diligently, and spread to even more people this blessed Word that we have in our hearts.
Let us plant churches everywhere. I am not saying that we should seek to gratify our own ambition. Rather, by planting churches, we must bring the living water to the many people who are thirsting for it. Countless people are perishing from drinking dirty contaminated water mixed with all kinds of filthy and toxic waste material. They are all crying out in pain. Can you not see such souls? There are so many people. They are everywhere. We are the only people who can bring the water of life to them. Even though we still have many shortcomings on our own, we can still deliver them, for the Lord is with us.
All that we have to do is preach the gospel wherever we find ourselves. The elderly can teach their fellow seniors the way to Heaven; our working brothers and sisters can preach the gospel of life at their workplaces; and our young adults can preach the gospel to college students and to other young people. Like this, from each of our positions, we must lead as many people as possible to the way of receiving the remission of sins. What is it that we are supposed to do? The Scripture says that whatever we do, whether we eat or drink, we must do all things for the glory of God. We must therefore live for the gospel. Even though we are inadequate and may even be useless in this world, in the Kingdom of God, we can all be used for an urgent and noble purpose.
So, we have no time for idling around. Words cannot describe just how busy we all are. Don’t you agree with me Rev. Kim? I’ve been so busy that I can’t even find time for the restroom. Wherever I go and whatever I do, I find myself so busy with so many things to do that it all seems endless. Even at home I don’t have much time to rest, to say nothing about how busy I am at the church with my ministry. However, despite such a hectic schedule, I’m still calm and at peace. Seoul is a very modern and busy city by its nature. It’s all hustle and bustle here.
Soon, the Church of Seoul will have to relocate to another place, but we have been so busy that we are not sure when we can do this. For now, the congregation is sitting on the floor during the worship service. While this is good for our brothers and sisters to share fellowship with one another more closely, it does exact a toll on their backs. I heard that it costs $2,000 to rent a commercial wedding chapel. With that money, the wedding ceremony could be held here and even hire a professional for video shooting. You might as well get your electronic equipment with the money to rent a wedding place. You could just as well buy a smartphone or video camera and do it yourselves.
My fellow believers, faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. If we believe in God and His Word, everything will be fulfilled. However, someone who has no vision at all is an already a dead person. Such people are indeed no different from the dead. So, let us prepare ourselves to spread the gospel to North Korea, and to preach the gospel and plant God’s Church here in South Korea as well. Let us do our best, believing that our hopes and desires will all be fulfilled. Let every church throughout Korea pray for this, and let us all pool our strengths together. Let us pool the power of prayer and supplication. This power of prayer is extremely important. It is more important to pool the power of prayer than financial resources.
I know that many of you are tired. Some of you are shaking your head, but I can tell it from your voice. During the praise service this morning, I noticed that many of you had hoarse voices. That’s the evidence showing that you are tired. We had such a wonderful fellowship last night that many of us here stayed up until 2 in the morning. We even had instant noodles at that hour! And now you are back here this evening for another service, so I know that you must all be quite tired. I was very happy to get together like this and talk and laugh for hours late into the night. I didn’t know that instant noodle tasted so good in the wee hours of the morning! I don’t eat instant noodle that often, but I’ve had it quite a few times since coming here to Seoul for the revival meeting. With everyone saying that they will have instant noodles, I felt it would be awkward for me to ask for something else. More importantly, I believe that everything should be done together no matter what. I’ve been so happy to share the Word with you at this revival meeting that I am filled with joy in both body and soul, and my heart has the fullness of the Holy Spirit. It’s true that I feel a bit tired when I wake up in the mornings, but I am still very happy as I am filled with the Holy Spirit.
Whatever we do, we must share everything and be one like this. We must do all things together in unity. Try eating instant noodle by yourself. It will be tasteless. You will just fill stuffed without getting any nutrition. Likewise, if you are by yourself, only self-righteousness will arise out of your heart and you will come to just complain for no reason. In contrast, when we share good things with one another, everything tastes good, and everything is joyous and fun. Whatever we do, we must do all things together. We ought to pray together, and when we do God’s work, we ought to do it together in unity. I urge you to open your heart. We can all walk together.
It looks like Brother Dochun has some trouble with his eyes, as he keeps rubbing his eyes. Perhaps it’s because he didn’t get enough sleep last night. Even so, please find the strength to bear this hour, as the Word of God is about to be preached. I said just a while ago that we must have a vision in everything we do. Today, we will examine the statutes of God, the topic for this week.
The Statutes Established by God
Leviticus 20:8 which we just read today says, “You shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the Lord who sanctifies you.” Those who have the law of God are the happy ones. Indeed, those who have a leader to guide them are the happy ones. Those who have God at their side are the happy people. Those who have a shepherd are the happy. And those who have brothers and sisters are also the happy ones, as are those who dwell in the Kingdom of God. God told us here clearly, “You shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the LORD who sanctifies you.” What does the Scripture say God is? He is the Lord who sanctifies us. What did the Lord command us? He commanded us to keep and perform His statutes. These statutes refer to the decrees and rules set by God. There is nothing bad in any of the rules God set for us. Although these statutes number no less than 613 different laws, far from being bad, they are what we must remember, and they are indispensable to us. God has given us His statutes and everything else as well. Within the confines of these statutes of the Law, God has also given us the sacrificial system, thereby sanctifying us. Just as our God said here, “I am the LORD who sanctifies you,” He has indeed sanctified us through the sacrificial system as set by Him, and by sending His Son to us. Words cannot describe just how thankful we are for this.
We were able to be sanctified by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and making our spiritual offering according to these statutes of God and the requirements of His sacrificial system. Let us then reflect upon these God-given statutes thoughtfully. Let’s turn to Exodus 30:11-16, “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘When you take the census of the children of Israel for their number, then every man shall give a ransom for himself to the Lord, when you number them, that there may be no plague among them when you number them. This is what everyone among those who are numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (a shekel is twenty gerahs). The half-shekel shall be an offering to the Lord. Everyone included among those who are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering to the Lord. The rich shall not give more and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when you give an offering to the Lord, to make atonement for yourselves. And you shall take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shall appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the children of Israel before the Lord, to make atonement for yourselves.’”
God told the people of Israel to offer a ransom for themselves when their number is counted, so that there may be no plague among them. This means that each and every Israelite was assigned a certain amount of money as his atonement money to offer to God for the service of the Tabernacle. By this, God is telling us that instead of us dying for our own sins, we should offer Him something else equivalent to make atonement for ourselves. What are the statutes established by God? What has God determined for mankind? It is that every human being is under the judgment of God. In God’s sight, no human being can avoid but be under His judgment. It’s very important for us to realize this, and appreciate why it is that God must judge everyone. This is a God-established statute. It is not something that we can change to our liking, for in God’s sight, whoever has not received the remission of sins and not been born again must be judged by Him. This is a statute established by God Himself.
In God’s Sight, We Should Be Put to Death for Our Sins
This is why God told us to give a ransom for ourselves—that is, to pay the wages of sin. God demands us to pay the wages of our sins. No sinner can escape from this, and every sinner must pay for his sins. The ransom demanded by God is life itself, and we can avoid death only if we find something else that can make atonement for our sins. Only then can we avoid being condemned by God for our sins. It’s absolutely indispensable for us to realize that we must pay a ransom to make atonement for our sins. We must realize that we cannot avoid but be put to death for our sins. Every sinner must realize that he is destined to hell inevitably for the wages of his sins. Because our forefather sinned against God we were born as sinners. As a result, unless this ransom of life is paid, all of us must bear the condemnation of sin without fail. This is why everyone must come to the full understanding of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. For us to be saved from our sins, we must pay the wages to God.
Those who know this truth are truly blessed people. Unless you pay the wages of your sins to God, you will all be put to death. Therefore, if we want to save ourselves, then you must pay the ransom of life to God. Realizing this, that we ourselves are destined to face death by God for our sins, we must pay the wages of life and receive redemption in our lives.
Today, we must examine ourselves to see if God is with us or not, and if we have not thought and or done everything on our own. Rather than thinking and doing things without God, we must reflect upon ourselves before Him. We must realize that unless we pay the wages of our sins to God, we cannot avoid but face death. There are many things that are visible to our eyes in this world that all too often we cannot see God by faith and our hearts become devoid of Him. This is all the more reason why we must remind ourselves of God’s statutes. We must accept by faith what God has set. What God has set has come about because our ancestors Adam and Eve sinned against Him, and we were all born as sinners destined to be put to death. For us to be delivered from this destruction because of our sins, we must pay their wages. This means we must first of all know ourselves, realizing what kind of beings we really are. In other words, we must grasp here who we really are by nature before even considering our thoughts and our actions.
Anyone who lives without God faces ruins in both body and spirit. It’s written in Psalm 49:20, “A man who is in honor, yet does not understand, is like the beasts that perish.” As the Scripture says here, anyone who does not realize God is like the beasts that perish. I don’t know about you, but I hold God’s statutes close to my heart. If God had set the way of salvation unfairly, then there would be no need for us to follow it. We would never have any assurance, not knowing when God might get offended and we would be cast into hell. But that is not what God has done. Having established His statutes, God fulfills everything and saves us exactly according to His Word of promise. This law of salvation is never changing. And this law is the Truth of the water and the Spirit. It is the law of salvation God that has been established justly.
How wonderful it is that we have such a clear and exact statute. We belong to this just and fair salvation of God. We belong to the just Word of God. God told us to pay a ransom for our sins. He told us to give half a shekel to make atonement for ourselves. While we don’t know exactly what the shekel of the Sanctuary was, we do know that there were half a shekel and full shekel as its units of account. Of these two units, God said to pay half a shekel. He also said that the rich should not pay more than this, nor should the poor pay any less. That’s because regardless of whether one is rich or poor, each life is worth the same in God’s sight. In other words, our lives are all equally precious, and for us to receive redemption equally, we must pay the same ransom of life. It is not the case that some people’s lives are more important or less precious than anyone else’s life. Far from it, each and every one of our lives is equally precious.
Whenever I read this passage, I can’t help but thank our Lord Jesus Christ. We all had to pay half a shekel for our sins, but to completely blot out our sins, Jesus laid down His own life for us. My fellow believers, this is the statute established by God. In our human thoughts, we might wonder how the rich and the poor are expected to pay the same ransom money to God. It would make more sense to us for the poor to pay less and the rich more, wouldn’t it? But God set the same price for both the rich and the poor alike, demanding them all to pay the same random. This is a God-established statute, so we should not think or believe according to our own wishes. In other words, when it comes to receiving the remission of sins, we shouldn’t expect that God will somehow just gloss over us, thinking to ourselves, “I believe in Jesus as my Savior, and I’m leading a godly life like this. I’ve also given a lot of offerings and donations to my church, I’ve kept the Lord’s Day holy, and I’ve been very diligent and pious for the Lord. So I’m sure God will give me a break and gloss over some of my mistakes. Since I’ve done all these things, I’m pretty sure that I don’t really have to know the Word of God and believe in it exactly as it is. Even if I believe blindly just as long as I believe, God will surely gloss over it, if not for anything else than my devotion.”
This however, is absolutely not the case. Apart from the fact that Jesus has saved us, no one can be saved by adding anything of his own works or efforts or whether it’s his own piety or riches. Salvation is reached only if we believe that God has saved us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. That’s why I am so glad that God has set His statutes in the way He has, for He is not demanding much from us in return for our salvation. Our God is faithful and righteous. Once God makes a promise, He fulfills it without fail. Even though we are fickle, God is not. How wonderful our God is. I am so glad that our salvation is the same today and tomorrow, day after day, no matter how we think about it. Once we receive the remission of sins by believing in the God-given gospel of the water and the Spirit, all that we have to do is just ruminate on this gospel.
Words cannot describe just how grateful we all are to God for bestowing such a wonderful blessing upon such undeserving people like us. How marvelous is it that our God is never changing? Would you like God to be fickle? Of course not! What would happen to this world if God were fickle? What would happen if the law of salvation were to change every single day? It would be impossible for anyone to reach salvation. Like this, God has set the gospel of the water and the Spirit as the law of salvation. Yet, many Christians think that they have received the remission of sins by just asking God for forgiveness with their mouths. In reality, none of them have actually received the remission of sins. These people do everything by themselves, so much so that they even think all on their own that they have received the remission of sins. This is nothing more than a belief all of their own making without taking into regard to what God has set for them. That is why God has established His statutes clearly, knowing fully well that human beings, His creatures, would follow their own wishes even when it comes to their salvation.
As a witness of God, I can tell you and testify that God has indeed saved us all, for the Scripture is the Word of God that everyone can read and believe. The only thing that never changes and that we can believe in is the Word of God. All that we have to do is believe in and live according to the statutes as established by God. And for this opportunity I give all thanks to our Lord! The Lord said here to take the ransom money and use it for the service of the Tabernacle of the Meeting. This means that when the Israelites paid the ransom money—that is, when they gave half a shekel to God—this money had to be used for the Tabernacle of Meeting. This statute applies to us also. Put differently, God is telling us also to take the ransom money and use it for His work.
Our Lord has already paid all the ransom money for our lives, even the half a shekel that we were supposed to pay. It’s all thanks to this price that our lives have been spared. You and I are indebted to the Lord for our lives. That is why the Lord told us to devote our lives to help others receive the remission of sins. Therefore, all of us who have been saved must dedicate our lives to God’s good work. It is only a matter of course that for whoever has received the remission of sins through the price of life paid by Jesus Christ to offer his life to God and devote it to His work and His Church in return. Where else could we dedicate ourselves, when God has saved us by paying the price of life in our place? We ought to offer ourselves only for the work of the Lord. That’s because our lives are such precious things that God has saved by paying the price of life in our place. We cannot waste such a precious life on any worthless cause. That is why God told us to offer ourselves to the service of the Tabernacle. This means that God will use us as His precious instruments.
Our God Uses Us as His Precious Instruments
When the Lord sent His disciples to free a donkey and a colt which were tied up, He told His disciples to bring them to Him, and also told them to say to its owner, “The Lord has need of them.” This colt when fully grown would have done nothing else but carry heavy loads on its back for the rest of its life. But our Lord had this colt freed from its yoke and used it for noble purposes by riding on its back into Jerusalem. In the same manner, the Lord is also using us for noble causes. Our Lord has saved us from all our sins by paying the wages of our sins with His own life. Having done so, He does not make us bear any heavy loads of the world, but instead, He uses us for the service of the Tabernacle of God, all to save lost souls. What a wonderful blessing this is. Are you also truly thankful to our Lord for this blessing? What are we that the Lord would treasure us so preciously? He could have just left us to our own devices once we were born again, but far from this, He has made it possible for us to live the most worthwhile life on this earth.
God also said, “That it may be a memorial for the children of Israel before the Lord, to make atonement for yourselves” (Exodus 30:16). God told us to make atonement for ourselves by paying a ransom price. This means that we must be saved from our sins by paying the specific ransom money—that is, the price of life. Without paying the price of life, there can be no salvation. You can never be saved from your sins unless you pay the price of life. You must give half a shekel. That’s because God told us to pay this ransom money without fail to make atonement for ourselves. This reminds me of the testimony given by one of our brothers just a short while ago. As I recall, this brother said that he attended a seminary for a semester, and that it had something to do with sports ministry, right? But he couldn’t find any satisfaction there. There is nothing surprising about this. It’s all because there was no life in that seminary. Where all of us really ought to offer ourselves is found inside the Church. Wherever our brothers and sisters might be used by God, it is when they offer themselves inside God’s Church that they devote themselves to the most precious cause. Don’t you agree? Jesus Christ has saved us once and for all by laying down His life in our place and becoming our own propitiation.
God’s Statutes Found in the New Testament
God’s statutes are also found in the New Testament. What kinds of statutes has God set for us in the New Testament? To find the answer to this question, let’s turn to the Gospel of Matthew to further examine these statutes of God. Let’s all read Matthew 7:7-12 together, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Amen!
What statutes of God are found in the New Testament? What has God set for us in this age of the New Testament? It’s absolutely important for us to first of all know what it is that God has set for us. We shouldn’t just lead our lives of faith blindly without even knowing what God has in store for us. Before we do anything else, we ought to know what God has set for us. And here in the New Testament God said that He would give us whatever we ask. To those who ask, God gives; to those who seek, God enables them to find; and to those who knock, God opens the door. Jesus also said, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” This is the statute that God has established for us in this age of the New Testament.
Referring to Himself, Jesus said that He is the Prophet. This means Jesus is the Prophet for all mankind. With His statutes God shows us the model of how to believe. If we really want to receive the remission of sins, then God gives us the gospel of the water and the Spirit. With the gospel of the water and the Spirit, God makes righteous whoever truly wants it. That is how God has set the law of salvation. God does not bestow the blessings of receiving the remission of sins or becoming righteous on anyone who says, “I don’t want anything to do with it. I don’t really care. I don’t need God’s righteousness.” Although God helps those who have the desire but no ability, He does not help anyone who does not even have such a desire. Do we want to be made righteous and sinless before God? Do we want to go to Heaven? This is what we wanted, right? So what happened to us then? Because we yearned to receive the remission of sins and go to Heaven, God remitted away our sins and made us righteous so that we would indeed be able to go to Heaven. It’s because we longed to become righteous that God made us righteous through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And this is all according to God’s statutes.
Like this, salvation can be reached only if people know the God-established rules, realize and believe in the Truth of salvation, yearn to receive new life, look for God, ask, seek, and knock. If anyone truly wants to receive the remission of sins, become righteous, and go to Heaven, then God will save all such people without fail. So why would anyone not ask God, seek and knock? This is all according to the statutes established by God. You must realize here that you cannot neglect your salvation, thinking, “I’m sure God will take care of it somehow even if I don’t ask for it.” That is not what God’s statutes say. According to the statutes of God, God gives to those who ask, reveals Himself to those who seek Him, and opens the door to those who knock. This is how God has decided to deal with us. It is absolutely not the case that you can just say, “Salvation will come to me somehow. God will take care of it.” God reveals Himself without faith to those who seek Him. The door is opened without faith to those who knock. God gives without fail to those who ask. The Lord also said, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.”
If you sincerely yearn to receive the remission of sins from God, if you really want all your sins to be remitted away like this, then you must pray. You must look for God. Why do we pray? We pray because God give us whatever we ask. It’s because He lets us find whatever we seek. And it’s because He opens the door whenever we knock. If one neither seeks nor asks for the remission of sins, then such a person is little more than a fat pig, saying, “I don’t really want to receive the remission of sins, nor do I see much need for it. I’m ok. I don’t really care either way.” It’s with such people in mind that Jesus told us not to cast our pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6).
If one does not have the heartfelt desire to receive the remission of sins despite the fact that his heart is sinful, then even if God gives him His precious Word, he cannot realize its value. It’s such people who are like swine. Can such people realize the value of a pearl? No, of course not; they will just tramp on it. The Word of God tells us to deliver all those who are drowning in their sins. As we carry on with our lives of faith before God, we ought to ask Him for help always. God gives as we ask, opens the door as we knock, and lets us find as we seek. It is not the case that God answers us even if we don’t pray. We must therefore realize the rules God has set for us. God does everything according to His rules. He does not act according to how we think about Him. God is never-changing. He is immovable. That is God’s statute, and it’s His justice. But if we pray, then God will answer us without fail.
You wanted to receive the remission of sins, right? So what did you do then? Since your heart yearned for this, you prayed for it. And hearing this prayer, God blotted out all your sins through sacrificial system of atonement, through Jesus Christ. When we had the heartfelt desire to become righteous and asked God for it, our God indeed made us righteous. We ought to remember here that God made us righteous only when we sincerely yearn for it. Worshiping God and living out our faith with the knowledge of the statutes of God is fundamentally different from trying to lead a life of faith without this knowledge. God is saying to us, “Ask Me for anything. I have so much in store for you. I have so much to give. I will give you everything you ask. But you must ask first. Only then will I give.” We must therefore ask.
The Rule of Prayer Is Simple
All that you have to do is just ask, seek, and knock, just as Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). It’s all very simple, isn’t it? God will give us if ask, but not give us if we don’t ask. He will give us anything as long as we ask. That’s why we must pray to God. Herein lies the very reason why we pray. We must pray to God because that is how He has set it for us. If you have any desire in your heart, you should just ask God for it. We are so blessed to have such a wonderful statute. A nation without any law is truly wretched. The rule of law must be there. Since we are God’s people, we must know and follow God’s law.
It is absolutely indispensable for us have the rule of law. Those who have the law are bold, orderly, and wise in God’s sight. In contrast, those who have no law do not even know what to do and how they ought to conduct themselves. We must have the law of God—that is, His statutes—to guide us. No one can lead a proper life of faith just blindly without such statutes. It’s when we sinners ask God to make them righteous and God listens to the prayers of such sinners and makes them righteous. We can confirm from the Word that the Lord made us righteous when we were still sinners—by asking Him for it.
For this reason, it is very important for us to know the Law first of all. Because we are God’s people, we must be under His law. If God’s people are not under His law, then they will be no different from anyone else. We must have the rule of law. We must have the statutes to guide us. We must live under the God-given statutes. Only then are we secure, and only then can we live a blessed life. We should never try to lead our lives of faith without the law. The rule of law is found in God’s Church also. For instance, we must be one with the Church leaders, being God’s servants. It is God’s law for us to unite our hearts with those of the servants of His righteousness. This is a statute set by God. Even God’s servants are not perfect. But just because they have some minor flaws, we shouldn’t be talking behind their backs or criticizing them, for God has said that we would never be blessed if we do so.
It’s so wonderful that we are sharing fellowship with one another, just as it’s written in Psalm 133:1, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Although all of us have our own shortcomings, if we march forth in unity with our brothers and sisters, God will guide us to the path of righteousness through His redeemed servants. God will lead us to the way of righteousness for His name sake. It’s because His name is riding with us that He guides us to the path of righteousness. We must have faith. We must unite our hearts. No matter what, whether we live or die, we must be one in unity. We should never be arrogant, trying to raise ourselves and putting down everyone else. Worldly churches are full of people who are boastful. We should never let this happen in God’s Church. No work of the Church is achieved by one person. Everything we do, we do it together.
God’s Church throughout the country must march forth together. The same goes for preaching the gospel to North Korea. It’s not something that Pastor Kim can do just by himself, but rather, all of us are God’s workers responsible for this ministry. We are the true warriors of faith. When Pastor Kim lays the foundation, we will all go there and work. Everything under the heavens and on the earth is made God’s and ours only if we ourselves work.
I cannot emphasize enough just how important it is for us to be one with God. No matter what, we must seek the will of God in unity, pray to Him, and seek and knock as we go forth. Only then are we blessed. This is a statute God has set for us. Whatever God has set for us, we ought to follow it to the letter, or otherwise we will be cursed. Trying to do good by relying on your own strength is completely useless. When you run an errand for someone else, you ought to do what you were asked to do. You can’t just do something else entirely different. Let me illustrate this with an example. Let’s say that there is a kid named “Obedience,” named after his faithful obedience to his parents. Obedience is so eager to obey his parents that at the first suggestion of an errand, he dashes off to run that errand. But, he does not always listen carefully to what his parents are asking him to do. One day, his parents asked him to go to another town to buy some cheese. Eager to obey his parents, Obedience took off the moment he heard this. But half way to the town, he realized that he didn’t know what kind of cheese he was supposed to buy, so he had to return empty-handed. Would his parents be pleased by this? No, of course not! In the same vein, we cannot please God just by obeying Him blindly on our own. We must first of all know what it is that God wants from us, and then obey Him.
Indeed, you can unite with God’s Church properly only if you listen carefully to your Church leaders, unite your hearts with theirs, and know their intention. You can’t become one with the Church blindly without even knowing its will. There are quite a few people in God’s Church who are beaten down spiritually. Who are they? They are the ones who walk on their own rather than according to the statutes. God has given us His statutes for our everyday lives. He told us clearly that whatever we do, whether we eat or drink, we must do all things for His glory. We must therefore walk in unity in all aspects for the glory of God.
We ought to give up our own thoughts if it’s for the glory of God. Yet, there are too many people who are still beholden by their own thoughts and are ignorant of God’s statutes. We shouldn’t insist on our own way so stubbornly without even knowing what God has set for us. We must cast aside such attitudes. We must walk according to the statutes. Our lives of faith must also be led according to the statutes, just as we must obey God according to the statutes. We ought to ask God for our everything, knowing fully that God gives us only when we ask. And as we rise up to the many challenges facing us, we ought to seek and knock. Like this, we must do everything according to the statutes. We shouldn’t be swayed by the ups and downs of our own emotional feelings, laughing one day when we feel good and sulking the next day when we feel bad. What is there to like and dislike before God? We must do everything according to God’s statutes.
As God’s servants, we ought to run His errands knowing His will. We ought to believe according to how God has set His statutes. Believing according to these rules is the best thing we can do. Living our lives according to God’s rules is also the right thing to do. If God has set a certain path for our lives, then this path is the path of truth. Too many Christians claiming to live a life of faith do not know these statutes. That’s why these people have no idea what to do. They believe according to their own wishes precisely because they do not have the God-established law in their hearts.
Everyone must always follow the will of God, including our ministers. Whatever they do, whether they hold a revival meeting like this, open a prayer meeting, or make any other decision, they must obey the will of God. They should first ask what would please God, and then take the course that is most pleasing to Him. Once they make a decision together according to the statutes, they should pray for it and act upon it. They will then be blessed by God. Many of our ministers are here today, and I ask them in particular to take this lesson to heart. This is not some man-made up thought. Our ministry is not something that can be done according to our own wishes. Rather, we must pray for it, decide together, and carry it out in unity. It is not something that we can do according to our own man-made thoughts.
In many aspects, we are still living according to our own wishes. That’s why it’s all the more important for us to learn about our God’s statutes over this week. These statutes of God bring so much comfort, strength, and courage to us. They illuminate clearly for us the path that we should follow. Only when we have God’s statutes in our hearts do we become bold and clear-sighted. Without knowing such good statutes, we cannot even know how to walk. Once God’s statutes are set for us like this, then from this moment on, obedience is better than any offering. So I ask you to obey God. And I ask you to obey God knowing what His will is.
The Truth of Atonement
Let’s now turn to what our Lord said in Exodus 34:18-20: “The Feast of Unleavened Bread you shall keep. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, in the appointed time of the month of Abib; for in the month of Abib you came out from Egypt. All that open the womb are Mine, and every male firstborn among your livestock, whether ox or sheep. But the firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb. And if you will not redeem him, then you shall break his neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed” (Exodus 34:18-20). This is God’s statute.
God said here that the firstborn of the sons of the Israelites and of a donkey must be redeemed with a lamb without fail. What statute did God set here? It is that if the people of Israel wanted to save the firstborn of a donkey and the firstborn of their sons, they had to take a lamb as their sacrifice of atonement and offer it to God as the price of life. This is the way of salvation set by God. We shouldn’t believe according to just our own wishes. What, then, is the spiritual meaning of the firstborn of a donkey and the firstborn of the sons of the Israelites? It means none other than the following, if human beings really want to save and preserve their lives before God, they must pay the full price of life. In other words, because we were all born as sinners in God’s sight, for us to be saved from all our sins, we must make atonement to God by paying the price of life without fail. Only then can we save our lives.
None of us can be born again to live unless the remission of sins is received and atonement is made with a lamb. No matter how meritorious and virtuous one might be, everyone must make atonement and receive the remission of sins. It’s absolutely indispensable for all of us to receive the remission of sins. What will happen if the remission of sins is not received? God said here that He will kill the firstborn of a donkey. This is the very statute by which the firstborn is redeemed with a sacrificial lamb. By tradition, if the firstborn son dies, the genealogy of that family is considered to have ended. If we want to spare our lives before God, we must give up our stubbornness and offer a lamb as our sacrifice of atonement to Him according to His statutes. Put differently, we can be saved only through our faith in Jesus Christ, by acknowledging and believing wholeheartedly in the remission of sins that Jesus Christ has fulfilled for us.
God said here to break the neck of the firstborn of a donkey if it was not redeemed. Why did God say this? Why did He specifically mention the firstborn of a donkey? The donkey is the strongest of domesticated animals. When God spoke of the donkey along with the people of Israel, He was speaking of none other than us the strong-willed stubborn human beings. In God’s sight, we human beings are like an unclean animal. Indeed, we are filthy even to ourselves. Human beings are so wicked that when Adam and Eve sinned against God and brought His curse upon themselves, they hid themselves from God and made all kinds of excuses to avoid the consequences of their sin. That’s how shameless human beings are before God. They are so dishonorable and stubborn that they are no different from a donkey. This is probably man’s most shameful aspect before God.
Let’s think about God’s statutes here. God has set the law of atonement in such a way that for us to receive the remission of sins, we must break down our own thoughts and wills, keep God’s statutes, and believe in His Word. It is according to this way of salvation the remission of sins is received. We ought to obey God with all our hearts according to His statutes. We ought to confess to God, “Lord, Your way is right!”
The Lord chose such a way to save us from all our sins, and we can be saved only if we believe in these statutes. It is those who break down their own thoughts that receive the remission of God from Him. God said clearly here to break the neck of the firstborn of a donkey, right? Have you broken your neck? Many of you are nodding, but there still are some people who have not broken their necks. And there also are those who have not broken their necks completely yet. These are the people who have too much righteousness of their own. Such people are so stiff-necked that they find it nearly impossible to break their necks.
This means that even though they have been born again, they are not grateful enough and they still are way too self-righteous. They do whatever they want to do. They might have an excuse if this were out of their ignorance, but if they are walking according to their own wishes even as they know God’s statutes, then God will break their necks without fail. This is what God meant by breaking the neck of a donkey. Do you know what causes us the most anxiety as we carry on with our lives of faith before God? It is the self-loathing that comes from thinking that we are not right, and that we have all gone astray. We think to ourselves, “God is right, and everything He has set for me is right. But what about “me”?” It’s because of such thoughts that we find it so hard to admit that we are wrong, and that we are indeed sinners. However, God will surely break all those who are trying to establish their own righteous, as the neck of a donkey is broken. It’s absolutely important for all of us to realize this.
The clear truth is that we have been saved because the only begotten Son of God offered Himself as our Lamb, and we must all believe in this truth exactly as it is. We must throw out our everything. We should have nothing of our own. We should have neither our own thoughts, nor our own wills, nor our own stubbornness, nor our own judgments. What is then left? There is only the blood of the Lamb who offered Himself in our place, the life of this Lamb. And the only thing left for us to do is follow and obey this Lamb wherever He leads us. We have nothing of our own left anymore. Yet, there still are far too many people hanging on to their own thoughts.
The fog comes up from the ground, and wetlands are much more prone to get foggy in the morning due to greater differences in the temperature. It’s not good for people to be exposed to such a fog too much, as it can damage their respiratory system. It’s also unhealthy for many plants. Most plants can’t grow and bear fruit in a densely foggy area, as they cannot get enough sunlight. Like this, when we are all fogged up by our own thoughts, we must remember that they are all our own flawed thoughts that run counter to the statutes of God. Just as the fog is lifted when the wind blows, we must blow away all such thoughts of our own making with God’s clear and unambiguous statutes. We must admit that we were already destined to be put to death, that we have to break ourselves completely like the neck of a donkey, that Jesus Christ died for such people like us in our place, and that we died with Jesus Christ when He died. And with this faith, we must live in unity according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Church. This is what God’s statutes demand from us. That is how each and every one of us ought to live.
Although it may seem that we have been trained sufficiently to live this kind of life, we still have many shortcomings. Sometimes, we feel like our self-respect is hurt, and we even get angry with God. For those grappling with such a struggle in their lives of faith, their hearts are hurting because they are being broken by God just as the firstborn of a donkey was broken. God Himself is breaking them. All of this is so unnecessary and sad, for if they just acknowledge God and obey Him, nothing but sunny days would await them and they can all follow the Lord with a bright smile. Despite this, some of you still think, “I know God is divine, but even so, how can He ignore me so much? I believe in God with all my heart, so how can He dismiss me, one of His own people? I also have my pride, and I have my ego as well.”
What ego are you speaking of? How can we have any ego left when we had already died on the Cross? Is there any ego left? Is there such a thing as “I”? If there is such a thing as “I,” then it can only mean that you have still not died with Christ. Despite the fact that our ego had already died, we still cling to our ego out of self-delusion. That’s why we get angry. To put it bluntly, we get all sullen and lash out like a rabid dog. Some of us stew in our miserable and depressive sulk for months. We think it’s so unfair and so insulting, and we feel we are being totally ignored. This happens because we are still wrapped in our own self-respect and ego. It’s all part of breaking this ego down.
Our ego must be broken, or otherwise we cannot be used by God. Anyone whose ego remains intact has not received redemption from God. Unless one truly seeks to receive new life from the Lord and save his life, he will be broken just as the neck of a donkey was broken. For those of us who have received this new life from the Lord, our necks have already been broken. Our ego has already disappeared. Where is our ego? Where is the ego of our old selves? Where are our own thoughts? We were such wretched beings that had Jesus Christ not died for us, we would all have been cast to hell inevitably. Yet, for such wretched people like us, Jesus Christ shouldered our sins and died for us, and when He died, we had also died with Him. Faith is all about believing in Jesus according to God’s rules, and that is the true faith.
Faith is all about accepting what God has done for us exactly as it is, and acknowledging and obeying this work of salvation. It’s actually a blessing to have God rule over you. You should therefore obey Him rather than deciding everything for yourself. That is how you can be one with God and the born-again Church. However, for the Church to be established properly, we must first of all break our necks. Our Lord has broken our necks. He has saved us. He has put to death our everything. Despite this, some of us still insist on our own pride, being deceived by Satan into thinking that you have not died yet. Do you think you are suffering alone? That’s all an illusion. We are no longer our old selves that have all gone.
When you admit all these things, you can then obey the Lord in obedience and guide your brothers and sisters properly. When the brothers and sisters following in your footsteps struggle with their inability to break themselves and as a result suffer from it, you can say to them, “It’s all in your own mind. Your ego is no longer there. It’s just your own conscience and your own stubbornness.” What does the Word of God say? It says that our old selves are gone. Even though we get angry and insist on our own way stubbornly when our old selves are ignored, in reality, our old selves no longer exist. Break yourself once first. Someone who broke himself once can do it again easily. Like everything else, you need training for this. It is no different from teaching your kids to greet the elderly politely. If your kids don’t greet the elderly in your neighborhood, you would correct them and force them to greet properly. They would then eventually learn how to greet the elderly properly. Likewise, if you find it difficult to break yourself, you need to train yourself even if you have to force yourself.
The same principle applies to your life of faith also. The first step is always the most difficult, but once you take this step and get used to it, from then on you can follow the statutes of God easily. It’s always this first step that is the most difficult to take. You need to train yourself for this. Of course, it would be easier if there were someone to train you at first, rather than training all by yourself. If you can learn from your righteous Church leaders, it would be easier for you to break yourself and follow God’s statutes. If you can say ‘Yes’ just once to your Church leaders when they ask you to do the one thing that you dislike the most, then from then you will have no trouble living by God’s statutes. I cannot emphasize enough just how important it is for you to be one with God. Would you then still insist on your own way stubbornly? You must walk according to God’s statutes. You must realize just how important these statutes are. Someone who knows the statutes is bound to be spiritual enlightened. In contrast, someone who does not know the statutes is bound to fall into a great deal of confusion, and go astray without even realizing it. Such a person can even turn into an enemy of the Lord and the righteous.
We have been redeemed according to the statutes of God. We must therefore preach the gospel according to the statutes. If you don’t know the statutes, and instead just insist on your own way stubbornly, then it’s impossible for you to preach according to the statutes. You will end up preaching according to your own wishes, or not be able to preach at all. Nowadays, there are so many people claiming to be preaching the gospel. Setting aside the clueless, even among those who are renowned for serving God well, there are countless people who lack God’s statutes. Whatever the Scripture says, everyone ought to follow it exactly as it is. Whatever God told us to keep and practice, we ought to keep and practice according to His statutes, just as God said in today’s Scripture reading, “You shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the Lord who sanctifies you” (Leviticus 20:8).
We must walk according to how God has told us to walk, casting aside our own thoughts and our own desires. It doesn’t matter even if you fail to reach your goal. If you have done exactly according to God’s rules and walked according to His statutes, then that’s all that matters. It’s then that the work of God unfold, and it’s then that your end can be greater even though your beginning may be small. In God’s sight, it is better for you to follow His will in obedience even slightly than achieving something great according to your own stubbornness. You must never allow yourself to turn into someone who does everything all on his own, someone who loves and leaves at his own whim, someone who leads his life of faith in whatever way he wants. It’s absolutely not the case that you can do whatever you want to do once you receive the remission of sins. If you do this, you will be ruined without fail. You will perish for sure.
Everyone knows about the parable of the prodigal son, right? In that parable, the younger son left his home only to face all kinds of troubles. This happened because he did not live according to God’s statutes. All people can become God’s people. Jesus has blotted out everyone’s sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. However, unless we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit as God has determined, we can neither become His people nor be saved; and unless we obey God according to His statutes, we cannot live amid the blessings that God has prepared for us either. If all these blessings are out of your reach, then it is only because you have not lived in obedience to God according to the statutes He has set for you.
Let’s turn to Exodus 15:22-26 here: “So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’ So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, and said, ‘If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.” Amen!
God is saying to us here, “I am the LORD who heals you.” God is indeed our Healer. I don’t usually quote this passage as it has been misinterpreted and abused by many unscrupulous liars claiming to have some sort of supernatural power to heal. That’s not what this passage is about. Rather, it teaches us that the Lord has given us His statutes for our everyday lives as Christians. Our Lord said here, “So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter.” The people of Israel then blamed God for this predicament. God clearly told us to keep His statutes. The statutes are there to be observed. Even though these statutes may be bitter to our tongues, they must be kept without fail. As we carry on with our lives of faith, sometimes we hear a few words that sting our ears. However, the Lord told us clearly to observe the rituals of the Passover Day, and to eat bitter herbs along with the meat of a lamb.
I will hold back from discussing an issue that might be too complex for you right now. But there are certain things that all of us must know without fail in the sight of our Lord. Firstly, the very first statute for our everyday lives is serving God. Secondly, we must deny our own thoughts and judgments and instead follow God’s statutes. Regardless of whether we think it’s right or wrong, we must deny our own thoughts, know what God’s statutes are, and obey them exactly as they are. Thirdly, we must live according to these statutes of God. The Lord is telling us clearly here to know the statutes He has given us and live our according to them.
What is our Lord saying to us? He is saying, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.” It’s absolutely indispensable for us holy Christians to remember that diseases and all other curses stem from violating the statutes of God and His commandments. Let me remind you once again what our Lord said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.” Just as God has allowed thorns and thistles in this world, He has also allowed suffering, diseases, and tribulations. That all such things are faced by everyone as the general rule set by God.
Put differently, God allows diseases and tribulations to come to everyone, regardless of whether one has been born again or not. However, our God promised that if we observe and practice His commandments and statutes in His sight, then He will remove from us all the diseases that He put on the Egyptians, reveal Himself to us as the God of healing, and heal us all. Do you believe in this amazing grace of God? Amen!
Herein lies the very reason why we must observe God’s statutes and commandments. It is none other than to put on God’s blessings. If we ignore the statutes of God and His commandments, boldness will disappear from our hearts. Just as 1 John 5:14 says, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us,” God will do everything as we believe. That is why it’s so important for us to ask God properly according to His will and live according to His statutes. It’s because God said that He will bless such people.
The question before us is this, now that we have received the remission of sins, will we live in suffering and curses, or will we live clothed in God’s blessings by keeping His statutes and carry out the Lord’s work? The answer will depend entirely on whether or not we observe God’s statutes. If we keep God’s statutes, we can all receive all the blessings of God in our lives and then go to His presence. This is what God’s statutes and commandments are all about. The reason why I have spent so much time this week on the statues and commandments of God, and why I have emphasized them so much, that is, what God has set for us, is to illuminate the way of blessings for you. This is the Law. The Law is the Word of God, and God has given this Law to us His people because it is absolutely indispensable to us.
God has given us these statutes of the Law so that we would realize our sins and distinguish between good and evil. That’s why we have been sharing the Word of God on His statutes for so long now. It’s because our knowledge of the statutes of God is too weak and shallow, and therefore we need to examine them in much more depth and in detail. When we really think about it, we would realize what a wonderful blessing it is that God has given us such statutes. If God had not given us His statutes, if He had not established the Law for us, and if He had not taught us clearly how we ought to live to be saved, then our lives would have been utterly ruined. Words cannot describe just how blessed God’s statutes are.
We ought to thank the Lord always for giving us His statutes and teaching us the right way to lead our lives. If we had come up with our own rules, we would have accomplished nothing. But thankfully, the Lord has personally set the rules for us. It is all by the grace of God that He has set His statutes to govern us, teaching us how we ought to live, how we ought to believe, and how we ought to receive the remission of sins. And by this grace, God has saved us according to these statutes. So I ask you all to keep God’s statues and practice them, just as God commanded us to do so. Even though we have many shortcomings, Jesus Christ already bore all our sins. Therefore, despite our shortcomings, if we follow the God-established statutes and do everything with one heart united with the Church, the Body of God, then God will surely reveal Himself to us, bless us, and guide us all. Precisely because we are God’s people, we must keep His statutes in our lives.