“When the man went out toward the east with a line in his hand, he measured a thousand cubits, and he led me through the water, water reaching the ankles. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the knees. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the loins. Again he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded.”
“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
This is the 16th session in the series on ‘God Measures Our Faith‘.
Water spiritually refers to the Word of God.
In the scripture reading today, faith is measured by the extent to which the body is immersed in water.
Through this passage, we can understand the importance of the Word of God in our Christian lives.
Yet, it is said that some of the churches today regard the word of God lightly.
Rather than the Word, they put more focus on praise, fellowship, and social services.
Also, they say that though the word of God is preached, the messages that the church members might not like to hear are not delivered.
They try to avoid delivering messages about giving the tithe, keeping Sunday holy, and pointing out sins, which might lay a burden on the church members.
But these are the messages that believers must hear for they are the basics.
Especially, messages on ‘sins’ are the essence in the way of the cross, which is the way of salvation.
Therefore, we must take these messages as our spiritual bread.
Of all the words in the 66 books of the Bible, we must take the contents not only on love, grace, and blessings but also on sins and punishment as well.
If we eat an unbalanced diet of only what we like, it will lead to malnutrition and eventually harm our bodies.
It’s the same with the word of God.
We should not just take the word that we like but the entire word of God so that we can be spiritually healthy and possess the eternal life fully.
Today, I will talk about the cases that result in one not receiving salvation because he does not take in every word of God.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will understand the meaning of the message fully and gain eternal life, and gain it abundantly.
[Main]Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in the last session, among the sins depriving of salvation, I talked about the sixth, which is ‘the evident works of the flesh.’
The seventh among the sins depriving of salvation is a case where one’s righteousness is no better than the scribes and Pharisees.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:20 as follows:
“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
‘Not entering the kingdom of heaven’ means you cannot be saved.
Here, righteousness is to act rightly in the sight of God.
What kinds of acts does God say are right?
The acts are when we put the word of God into practice.
Conclusively speaking, righteousness is to practice the word of God.
The scribes and Pharisees kept the Law of Moses, the word of God, very strictly.
The Pharisees were the ones who were keeping the Law most strictly even among the Jews.
They shunned anything that was against the Law.
So did the scribes.
Scribes were the ones who interpreted the Law and made documents based on the Law, and they had thorough knowledge on the Law.
On outward appearances, they were blameless in keeping the Law.
In many places in the Bible we can see how strictly they tried to keep the Law.
For example, they did not keep just the Law given through Moses, but also very strictly kept the traditions of the elders.
Matthew 15:2 says, “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”
The traditions of the elders are not the law of God but rules made by men.
They were the regulations that were added by men while interpreting the Law of God.
Pharisees kept those regulations very strictly.
Especially for keeping the Sabbath, they kept the traditions of the elders that were very complicated.
And in the eyes of such people, it seemed Jesus and His disciples were violating the Sabbath many times.
They even persecuted Jesus for healing a sick person on the Sabbath.
For example, in John chapter 5, Jesus healed a person who had been sick for 38 years, at Bethesda.
Verse 16 says, “For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath.”
They dismissed the good work of healing a sick person as labor that must not be done on the Sabbath.
When the sick person who was healed picked up his pallet and began to walk, they criticized him saying, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.”
They considered carrying a heavy object as labor.
Of course, not being able to really understand the will of God in commanding us to keep the Sabbath holy, they did so due to spiritual ignorance and evil.
On the other hand, we can also understand that they did try to keep the Law very strictly.
The apostle Paul said, before he met the Lord, he was a Pharisee who was blameless as to the righteousness which is in the Law.
Philippians 3:5-6 says, “…a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.”
We can infer that he was very passionate about keeping the Law since he said that he was blameless as to the Law.
Jesus said that we cannot enter into the kingdom of Heaven unless our righteousness is better than that of the scribes and the Pharisees.
Brothers and sisters, now, how can we earn the recognition of the Lord in seeing that our righteousness is better than that of scribes and Pharisees?
Do we also have to keep all the traditions of elders on top of the Law?
I believe you understood already that it does not mean that.
Being righteous doesn’t mean we can be saved only when we keep the Law more perfectly than the scribes and Pharisees.
They were blameless concerning the outward deeds, but they kept the Law as formality and only in action.
Because they kept the Law only on the outside, they did not keep the Law completely.
Matthew 5:19 says, “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
It says whoever annuls one of the least of the commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.
So, what do you think will happen if we annul one of the greatest of the commandments?
We can easily infer from the above passage that it will be difficult for us to receive salvation.
Even if we do, the status will be fragile and we will be only one of the least in the kingdom of heaven.
It was the case with the scribes and the Pharisees.
They said they were keeping the Law, but they discarded the core and kept only the shell of the Law.
What they missed was the heart, which is in justice, mercy, and faithfulness.
Jesus said in Matthew 23:23, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness.”
And then Jesus said, “…but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.”
Namely, it means we are keeping the law very well only when we keep it not only in action but also with the heart.
The Pharisees and the scribes did not keep the Law this way.
They just controlled their actions while their hearts were filled with sins and evil.
That is why Jesus rebuked them saying, “Woe to you hypocrites!”
Therefore, the meaning in Jesus’ saying that our righteousness must be better than that of the scribes and Pharisees is as follows:
It means those who take only what they like and agree to, but discard what they don’t like among all the words of God; those who keep only what they can keep and discard the rest; and furthermore, those who teach others to do the same cannot be saved.
What is really heartbreaking is that today, among many in the Lord we find many people belong to this category, and especially among preachers.
They take the word that they can agree to, but they discard the word to which they do not agree.
For example, Matthew 5:28 says, “…but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Some people say, “How can we cast away an adulterous mind itself from the heart!” and discard the word of God.
They say they believe the word of God is true, but if they can’t keep it, they reject it and they teach others to do so.
Or, some others refuse the words of God that do not agree with common sense or common knowledge of the world.
For example, the Bible clearly tells us about the spiritual realm.
But some denominations or churches do not really believe in the spiritual realm.
If anybody says he has seen an angel or heard the voice of God, they do not hesitate to criticize such a person within their limited knowledge and experience saying he is wrong and heretical, or they say that it is mysticism.
They also quote some parts of the Bible in a wrong way to criticize such a person.
This is same as condemning Jesus with the Law and traditions of the elders.
Also, there are some people who acknowledge the word only as much as they are willing to believe.
As written in the Bible, if someone teaches that the end is near and to be on the alert, they consider him strange.
In the meantime they just casually attend church.
It is really heartbreaking that some pastors are the ones who are planting such ideas into believers.
But if we think about the words in the Bible, we can clearly see that we must be on the alert, even though we cannot know the day and the hour of the Lord’s coming back.
Also, there are signs of the end time that the Bible talks about, and we can see the end is very near.
In another case, there are some people who only talk about love and forgiveness among the words of the Lord.
They do not teach about the justice, namely, the fact that sins have the consequence of punishment.
If they practice and teach only the things that they think are good, how can anyone have spiritual faith?
They cannot have faith to receive salvation, not to mention faith to receive blessings.
Also, if they teach anybody, it is a blind man leading another blind man.
Brothers and sisters, those who have true faith do not forsake any word of God, even if it does not agree with his own ideas at all.
It is still the word of God.
Jesus kept the word of God more strictly than anybody else.
Jesus kept the Law from childhood.
Not just the Law of God given through Moses, but He valued all the teachings of the prophets, too.
About this, Matthew 5:17 says, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”
Also, He obeyed all the words of God only with ‘Yes’ and ‘Amen’.
On top of this, Jesus kept the justice, mercy, and faithfulness, which the Pharisees and the scribes had forsaken.
Namely, He fulfilled the Law with love.
He showed us the way to keep the Law in a true sense. He set the perfect example.
And, if we do have the heart of Jesus, then we cannot disregard any of the word giving various excuses.
We will try to keep all the words with all our best efforts.
You believers here try to live the word of God as it is especially because you heard the holiness gospel.
You do not keep them in formality alone, just because you have to keep them.
You try to keep them with your heart.
It says, “Love your enemy,” so you do not just pretend to be keeping it on the outside, but you try to cast off hatred and love that person with your heart.
It says, “Do not steal,” and you do not reluctantly obey it, but you try to cast off greed itself from your heart.
Namely, you try to accept all the words in the 66 books of the Bible with faith and try to keep them.
As you keep trying to do so, God says you are more righteous than the scribes and Pharisees, even if you might still have some shortcomings.
The blood of Jesus Christ will redeem us from the curse of the Law.
Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” As said, we can enter into the kingdom of heaven by being justified through the Lord.
I hope you will understand that you will be saved not with the righteousness of the Law keeping it in actions only, but with the righteousness of faith.
In Matthew 5:18 Jesus said, “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
As He said, all the words of God will be fulfilled.
But if anyone does not believe the word of God just because it does not agree with his ideas, and furthermore if he judges those who believe it as it is saying they are foolish, how could he be able to stand before the Lord on the Judgment Day?
How could he be sure of his salvation?
Our church will boldly proclaim the will of God the way we have been doing it.
If you think about the prophets and the history of Christianity, all men of God proclaimed the word of God as it is.
This is the way to please God the Father.
Only the light can lighten the darkness.
Also, one cannot make people’s hearts holy with men’s wisdom and words.
1 Corinthians 4:20 records, “For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power.” As recorded, it can be done only with spiritual power.
This spiritual power is given when we practice the word with faith in God and with love.
[Conclusion] Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, and viewing audiences, I believe you who have been attending this church know a great deal about the 66 books of the Bible.
You heard not just about justice, but also about sin and judgment.
You know about Heaven as well as Hell.
You know about the lesser of the commandments as well as great commandments.
Now, I believe now very few of you have so little faith that you take only the word of God that agrees with your thoughts.
But this is not enough.
Now, you should become bright lights to shed light on darkness and perform with spiritual power.
Therefore, you should not just stay at the level of just knowing the word or just trying to practice the word.
John 6:53 says, “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.'”
We should not put the word of God in our head just as knowledge.
This might rather lead us to spiritual arrogance.
Therefore, we have to take in the word of God in our heart, and we have to do it completely.
Namely, we have to keep the word of God in our heart and practice it so that the truth will become our blood and flesh.
As you do that, you will receive fullness of spiritual life, and then, you can revive the lives of other souls.
You can also proceed to reach the level of becoming truly righteous and not just being justified through faith, thereby performing great power of God.
James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” And if you pray for other souls, there will be works of repentance and divine healing.
Until such a thing will become possible, you must never cease to expend your endurance and hard work to follow the will of God fully at each moment.
Your efforts will not be useless.
God will certainly pay you back according to your deeds.
He will give such ‘truly righteous men’ New Jerusalem and the crown of righteousness.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will all become truly righteous men, be commended by the Lord for that, and live in the glory that will shine the like the sun.