John 6: 53
“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.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, members of over 6,000 branch churches in Korea and all over the world including the United States, Canada, Peru, Honduras, Bolivia, El Salvador, Argentina, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, China, Japan, Pakistan, Nepal, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, India, Mongolia, Israel, Egypt, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Angola, Burundi, Rwanda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Botswana, Swaziland, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Dagestan and local sanctuary members, those who are attending the service on the Internet all over the world, and television viewing audiences,
This is the 25th session of the ‘Heaven’ lecture series.
In the last session, I told you about the second case in which Paradise is given as the eternal dwelling place.
It was a case where one had been a Christian for a long time but had not grown up in faith but stayed in the first level of faith. As examples, I talked to you about two situations and why they could go into no other place but Paradise. One case was Sarah, a Biblical figure who was the wife of Abraham, and the other was a man who passed away while being a member of our church.
Today, I will give you one more example of this second kind of situation in which Paradise is given, and I will continue by explaining a third situation in which Paradise is given.
In this session, I will talk about two people, and I would like you to check whether you or your children have the same kind of faith that these people have.
If you find yourself having this kind of faith, I hope you will strive with persistence and hard-working efforts from this moment on, for it is not too late.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will love God passionately, and as the evidence of your sincere love, you will joyfully keep His commandments and your faith will grow quickly so that you will be loved even more by God the Father.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let me give you one more example of those who have been a Christian for a considerable period of time but stayed in only first level of faith when they died, thus being granted Paradise as their eternal dwelling place.
This sister I am going to talk about had been attending church since she was a child, and she had heard the gospel of holiness and seen the works of God’s power for quite some time.
But she got a very serious disease and did not receive healing. She too finally passed away.
She had been attending church since she was very young, so why did she not go to another place, and only went to Paradise?
It was because, when she listened to the word of God, she just heard it, and when she saw the powerful works of God, she just saw them, and nothing more.
She didn’t try to increase her faith or long to make it her own strength. She didn’t long for the spirit or try to cultivate her heart as spirit.
She didn’t love God so passionately; she didn’t try to live by God’s word more perfectly; and her efforts to change herself into the truth by the word of God were minimal.
From the time she was a child until she had grown up as a young adult, she did things as circumstances prevailed. She just attended church because her family members were attending church. She sang praises because she could do it well. That is how she just spent the time she’d been given.
Attending church and praising God was just her routine since she was a child, and she didn’t do those things with faith because she truly loved God.
There are children in the world who get involved in various activities on the advice of their parents. For example, if they can sing well, they may join the choir or singing group. And this sister grew up in the church environment, and she could sing well, so she just took the position of praising God.
But because she had no true faith and love, which is really important thing before God, her deeds could not be offered up to God.
The only difference from worldly people was that she was singing in church, and what she did was not different from the worldly people.
Usually, we use the expression, ‘a person born as a Christian’, but often such people do not have faith when scrutinized by the word of God.
Some ‘people born as Christians’ do not live like Christians and it is shameful to call them Christians.
In such cases, we can understand that the very good environment to lead a life in faith was not actually good for their spiritual growth.
Her motivation to begin a life in faith did not come from within herself but it was only because of the environment, most especially it was because of her parents, and so, she lacked fervor.
Also, she never had to overcome persecution to have faith. She just followed the desires of her parents, frequently unwillingly, in the environment she was raised.
But fortunately, she followed her parents’ desires and did accomplish some work for God, too. Yet, she lacked the spiritual faith that could be recognized by God.
One day, because of a spiritual link between family members, she got a disease. To overcome this test, she had to show her own faith.
Even in tests caused by spiritual ties, she could have overcome if she had firm faith. However, it was not the case with her. She had heard the word for a long time, so she knew she had to overcome the problem with faith, but when she was confronted with a personal problem, she totally lacked spiritual faith.
It was only when she was suffering from a disease that she realized she didn’t have true faith, and from that moment, she tried to gain true faith.
As a result, spiritual faith began to bud, and with that faith she could be saved.
You should check carefully whether you or your children are leading this kind of life in Christ.
Just by following one’s parents since childhood and doing some work for God does not guarantee his/her salvation.
Romans 10:9-10 surely tells us, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
Children of five years of age and older must have personal faith to sincerely believe in the providence of the cross of Jesus Christ and His resurrection.
They should have spiritual love in their heart so that just by singing praises and thinking of the cross of Jesus, they can shed tears of thanksgiving.
They should be able to pray by themselves, and when they perform duties in the church, such as praising or other voluntary works, they should have true faith and do them with thanks for the love of the Lord.
Since they are in the church environment all the time and hear what is spoken and see what is to be seen, we may think they have faith, but it may be something that has become a routine done by habit. But true faith is not given just by being in such an environment.
Today’s passage 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.”
Even to grow up physically, we have to not just eat well, but it must be digested as well. To grow up in spirit, we have to not just hear but we must listen to and understand the word of God, which is the food of life. Then we must show the Word as action. To the extent that we act this way, our faith grows up.
You have to have spiritual faith which is accompanied by deeds, even if they are as small as a mustard seed, so that you can receive salvation.
With dead faith that is not accompanied by deeds, namely faith as knowledge, you cannot receive salvation no matter how much of the knowledge you have. Faith and salvation form the bilateral relationship between you and God. Only when your faith is recognized by God, can you receive salvation. Please remember this fact very well.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the third situation in which Paradise is given as eternal dwelling place is where a person backslid in faith because of tests and trials.
This situation of going back to the First Level of Faith can be categorized by two specific conditions.
First is where people go up to the second or the third level of faith, but in a test they have fallen and reverted back to the first level of faith again.
The other case is where people commit sins that cannot be forgiven such as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit or repeatedly marked by works of the flesh, and thus, they could not be saved, but with God’s special grace and compassion, they barely reached the gate of salvation.
In both cases, considering their history in faith or their positions in the church, they should be at least on the rock of faith in the third level of faith. But because they disappointed God so much by committing the works of the flesh or other sins that are consistent with those of unbelievers, they lost their faith.
Now, the first case is where they have just the barest minimum amount of faith to be saved, but the second case is where they don’t have any faith even to receive salvation.
Numerically speaking, let us say you can be saved when your faith is 1. In the first case, they used to have faith as much as 2 or 3, but they came back to 1 again.
On the other hand, in the second case, they lost all their faith, so they don’t have any faith to receive salvation, and on top of that, they built up walls of sin against God with unforgivable sins, so one might say they have negative number in faith.
Nevertheless, with God’s special forgiveness and love, they were forgiven of their sins and came to receive salvation. I already told you there are three different levels in Paradise, and those who are saved this way will belong to the lowest level in Paradise, and they will stay in the outskirts of Paradise forever.
I will talk to you about this case in the next session. In this session, I will talk to you about the case where they had good faith for a time, but in trial they fell and returned to the first level of faith. This is same as the case where their first love has cooled down and never recovered.
People give reasons why they lost their first love. Some of them say they were offended by somebody, and others say they had very difficult situations they couldn’t overcome.
But the very fundamental and major reason for losing the first love is that they looked at and returned to the world again. It’s because they began to take in the flesh again, which they had been casting off since the time they became Christians.
Even though you long for spirit and run diligently, if you begin to look at the world just for the moment and take it in again, you will fall into flesh. 1 John 2:15 certainly tells us. “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
You cannot love both God and the world. To the extent that you love the world, your love for God decreases.
The church in Ephesus, written in the book of Revelation received rebuke from our Lord for losing their first love.
Revelation 2:4-5 says, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place unless you repent.”
To remove the lampstand means, at personal level, that God will take away the Holy Spirit from one’s heart. If the Holy Spirit in you is taken away, you cannot receive salvation.
Therefore, if you have lost your first love, you have to repent before the Holy Spirit is taken away and have the first deeds.
With the passion and love that you had first, you have to keep on living by the word of God, pray, and work faithfully for God’s kingdom.
Our Lord says to those who have recovered their first deeds in Revelation 2:7, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.”
This means He will not take away the Holy Spirit, but save them.
But it doesn’t mean that all those who lost the first love and then recovered will be granted only Paradise.
To the extent that they circumcise their heart and cultivate true heart in them again, God the Father will also lead them to the perfect faith, so that they can take hold of better heavenly dwelling places by force.
I will introduce to you one lady believer who lost her first love. While she was recovering from that state, she faced another test which was similar to the one that caused her to lose her first love, but she still did not overcome it with faith.
She should have circumcised her heart with more fervent love than the first love to build up spiritual faith, but she stayed in the first level of faith. Finally she passed away, and received only the shameful salvation.
As a district leader, she had once been very faithful to the kingdom of God.
Though she was woman, her monthly income was usually 7 or 8 million won, or even up to 10 million won. Then she said that she had become very busy and she began to neglect the work of God, and she often skipped praying.
Her love for God changed into love for the money of this world.
Meanwhile, she got sick, and when she was diagnosed it was already the final stage of uterine cancer. The cancer cells had already spread to the kidney, and her chance of survival even after operation was less than 10%. Only after that she realized what she did wrong and came to repent.
When she came to receive my prayer, I tried to make her understand.
“Deaconess, you used to be a district leader, and as you came to earn much money, you didn’t work for God any more. You came to the Daniel prayer meeting towards the ending time and just sat for a while. You said that you were busy. So, what could God say?
‘My daughter, you used to be faithful for My kingdom before, but now, you spend a lot of time earning money, and little time in prayer. You are not doing the duty of a district leader any more. I even gave you the life of My one and only Son, and what do you do for Me?’ What if God talks to you like this, how would you answer?
Would you say, ‘I earned a lot of money and gave increased tithes’? Would you say, ‘I did missionary works and gave offerings’? Is God telling us to give offerings because He has no money?
All heavens and earth were created by the word of God the Father, and what could He lack?
What God really wants is not that.
God wants your soul to be prosperous. He wants you to be faithful for the kingdom of God to store up more heavenly rewards and enter into the heavenly kingdom and live happily forever. That’s what God wants the most.”
When I told her this, she realized deep in her heart and spoke in words of repentance.
“I will live only for God’s kingdom and His righteousness, please give me the duty of the district leader once again.”
She said she was repenting not only with words, but she would bear the fruit of repentance with her deeds.
She repented thoroughly like this and received my prayer, and she was re-diagnosed in the hospital, and the cancer was gone completely without any trace of it.
She found out that she was completely healed and told me that she would stop her business to concentrate on the duty of the district leader.
Since she understood the greatest happiness and blessing was to work for God, she wanted to do only God’s work.
But she didn’t have a husband, and she had to earn enough to make her living, so I stopped her from giving up her business completely.
I asked her to find a way to do the duty of district leader as well as her business. So, she decided to work only two days a week, and leave her business to another person for the rest.
Since she had received such great grace, how thankful her heart was and how faithfully she worked! But she finally passed away within two years, and she received only the shameful salvation going to Paradise.
I will explain to you why things happened this way, in the next session.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s passage says, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.” And please understand that this is absolutely true and it will be done as it says.
If you do not take in the Word of God, which is the flesh of the Son of Man, and if you do not live in the light, which is drinking the blood of the Son of Man, you have no life in you, and thus you cannot receive salvation.
To take in the word of God is to fill our heart with the spiritual elements in the Word of God.
We have to fill our heart with goodness, love, meekness, compassion, etc. and cast off evil and hatred and other things that used to be in our heart. This is the eating the flesh of the Son of Man. To drink the blood of the Son of Man is to walk in the light following the guidance of the truth.
Likewise, only those who eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man will gain true life and salvation.
Those who eat the more of the flesh and drink the more of the blood of the Son of Man will have greater faith, and they will go into better heavenly dwelling places.
Therefore, I want you to realize that filling yourself with actual spiritual contents is much more important than the deeds that are seen only with the eyes.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will diligently eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man and your faith will grow up quickly day by day to reach the full measure of the Christ, so that you will inherit New Jerusalem as your eternal dwelling place.