1 Corinthians 9: 25
“Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is the 31st session of the ‘Heaven’ lecture series.
Continuing from the last session, I will talk to you about the 1st kingdom of heaven.
The second level of faith, which is the level of faith to receive 1st kingdom of heaven, you feel that it is the most difficult time of your Christian life, but just if you have firm determination, you can pass this stage very quickly. It’s because you go to the third level of faith only if you stop sinning with action.
Basically, you don’t break the Sabbath and you give proper tithes. But, you also just stop doing things like lying, stealing, and slandering, cursing, and beating others.
Namely, if you just do not commit the works of the flesh that are shown on the outside, you can pass the 1st kingdom of heaven and expect 2nd kingdom of heaven.
But if you still have the things of the flesh (sinful natures) that cause works of the flesh to come out, then, you might still commit works of the flesh depending on certain situations.
For example, when you are boiling something, if you fill the pot to the brim and boil it, it will overflow.
But the less the amount of food inside the pot, the less will be the possibility for the soup to overflow.
The difference between the second level of faith and the third level of faith is similar to this.
When you are faced with a situation that can agitate your mind, if you have more food in the pot, namely if you have more untruths in your heart, it will more easily come out.
Namely, you won’t be able to suppress and control your anger, complaints, and resentments and it will show on the outside.
If you have little soup in the pot, it won’t overflow even if you bring it to a full boil. In the same way, if the amount of untruth in your heart is reduced, even though your heart may be boiling with some agitation, you won’t show it in the words or actions.
Therefore, even in the second level of faith, as you cut off all the works of the flesh shown on the outside, if you also cast off the untruths in your heart at the same time, your faith can grow up much more quickly.
But what you should remember here is that being able to control your untruths within you not to show it on the outside does not always mean you are at the third level of faith. You can be said to have reached the 3rd level of faith only when you have such a small amount of untruths in you that it won’t come out on the outside in any kind of situation.
It’s because, you may have many untruths in you, but with your manners, etiquette and education you may be able to control them and not show it on the outside.
If this is the case, then you will remain in the second level of faith.
The person I am going to introduce to you at this time is this kind of case, where she has been a Christian for a long time, but went to only 1st kingdom of heaven.
I urge you to make the word your life and strength and to carefully listen to the message and check whether or not you belong to this kind of classification. I pray in the name of the Lord that you will take hold of better heavenly dwelling places by force by doing so.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the second level of faith needed to go into the 1st kingdom of heaven is the level of trying to act by the word of God. But in a situation which agitates your heart, you cannot control your mind, and more often you express the untruths in your heart with words or action.
But those who have even the slightest bit of faith to practice the word of God will regret and feel afflicted in their heart when they haven’t acted by the word of God.
But some people feel good only when they express their agitated untruths with words or action.
Also, they sometimes justify themselves saying they could not help but do so because the other person was acting in such a way, or they give excuses saying they had to do so because of the situation.
Likewise, those who give excuses and cover their shortcomings and evil in heart have little possibility to grow into spirit. But even though you may not be living by the word of God right now, if you do not give excuses or blame other people but acknowledge your fault in heart and keep it in mind, you will be able to control your mind more and more. It means you are improving to progress into spirit.
As you try and pray, and actually cast off evil from your heart, the frequency and magnitude of the agitation in your heart will be reduced, so finally, you won’t even have to endure anything.
But even though you may have been a Christian for a long period of time, you may just stay in the second level of faith. In most cases, they don’t acknowledge their fault from their heart.
Brothers and sisters, the one I am going to introduce first is a senior deaconess who died of old age.
She listened to the word of God for a long time and said she loved God, the Lord, and her shepherd, but her heart was not cultivated with the truth that God wanted. She also worked faithfully for the kingdom of God from her side, but it was not complete faithfulness before God. Then, although she did not commit great works of the flesh, why did she go into only the 1st kingdom of heaven?
I said in the beginning part of the message that even if you don’t show your evil in your heart on the outside, it doesn’t always mean you are in the third level of faith.
Even if you have been a Christian for more than 10 or 20 years, if you just keep the untruths in you, not casting them off, your faith won’t grow up.
No matter who you are, only when you hold on to the word of God and pray with it, cast off the untruths in heart and have truthful hearts can your faith grow up to that extent.
This particular senior deaconess had been a believer for a long period of time, but according to the justice of God, the measure of her spirit cultivated in her heart was not enough to receive even 1st kingdom of heaven.
But with the love of God, she could go into the 1st kingdom of heaven. When her spirit left her physical body, she realized this very clearly. God let me know that because of this, she felt very embarrassed and at the same time very thankful that she could go into the 1st kingdom of heaven.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I am not saying it was the case with this particular senior deaconess, but most senior citizens have untruth in them which they find it difficult to cast off. It is being resentful.
And, how many more evil things are derived from this one untruth called resentment?
Resentment usually arises when one feels that he is not recognized or compensated for what he has done. Also, if he thinks that others do not understand his mind, he may have some kind of resentment.
As parents, do you have any resentment because of your children? Since you give birth to your children and until they grow up, parents toil so much to raise them.
But if they are not treated the way they think they are supposed to be treated by their children, they have disappointment and resentment, and they may even speak words of complaints.
Even with one word from their children, they get offended, or even get angry thinking, “I toiled so much to raise you and how dare you say such a thing!”
Also, you become sad thinking, “I have toiled so much raising them, and it’s all useless now,” and lose your joy and thanks.
It’s not only about unbelievers. Even among the believers there are people who torture their own heart with their resentment toward their children.
It’s not only between parents and children. Even between a senior and a junior in hierarchy, there may be resentment that leads to quarrelling.
When the subordinates do not serve their seniors well, the seniors may be offended, and when the seniors do not acknowledge their subordinates, the subordinates may have resentment about it.
If this kind of resentment is accumulated once and twice, it may come out in words of complaints, and you may even exaggerate the weak points of others. It can come out as many derivations of evil.
There is another kind of case as follows: you have some resentment because you feel you are not treated properly. You don’t show it directly, but you show it indirectly in some other way.
You say because your subordinates or a junior is not properly discharging his duties it is your responsibility as a senior to sternly scold that person.
In this case, it is quite obvious to yourself and to other people around you whether or not you have some kind of ill-feelings when you say such a thing.
But if you have very strong self-righteousness and frameworks, you say you are not doing it because you want to be served, but it is for the benefit of the other person that you have to say it. But actually it’s just that you cannot control yourself and speak out strong and rough words.
But please remember that it is as said in Matthew 12:35, “The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I will introduce to you one more elder.
He also went to only 1st kingdom of heaven, not being able to go to any other better place because of his resentment.
Actually, he almost ended up in paradise, but barely went into the 1st kingdom of heaven. It’s because he had resentment against his shepherd who led him to spirit and into better heavenly dwelling place.
If you have resentment or complaints against a servant of God who is guaranteed by God with His power, it is same as complaining against God Himself.
Exodus 16:8 says, “Moses said, “This will happen when the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning; for the LORD hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him. And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against the LORD.”
Why, then, did this person have resentment against his shepherd, and why was it not right in the sight of God?
Through this example of one person, I hope all you members and especially those who are in teaching positions will gain realization. First, for better understanding let me give you one example in the Bible.
In the book of Jonah, God told Jonah to proclaim the city of Nineveh would be destroyed.
Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria, which was an enemy country of Israel. So, at one corner of Jonah’s heart, he wanted Nineveh to be destroyed as God said.
He should have gone to Nineveh immediately and made the proclamation, but he ran away to Tarshish.
Why did he do that? Because Jonah was a prophet, he already knew that the people of Nineveh would repent if they heard the warning of God, and God would not punish them.
While Jonah was running away, he was thrown into the sea, but God gave him another chance. Finally, he went to the city of Nineveh and made the proclamation. Then, not only the people of the city, but also the king and all ministers repented; they made even the animals fast.
Jonah 3:10 says, “When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.”
This very well shows us that even the Gentiles, when they repent and turn from wicked ways completely, God shows His compassion and stops the punishment that He was going to deliver.
But then, after seeing this work of God, what did Jonah do?
Jonah 4:1-3 says, “But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. He prayed to the LORD and said, “Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. “Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.”
Jonah did not realize the love of God at all because of his own righteousness and frameworks that were connected with his evil. And his resentment went beyond the limit; He even got angry before God who was showing His love.
Don’t you have this kind of heart of Jonah in you?
Let me get back to the story of the elder mentioned above. There was a leader in the church who didn’t seem to be quite right. And within his own righteousness and frameworks, this elder thought this leader had to be punished and treated in such a way. But the shepherd did not punish or treat this leader as the elder thought was proper. Then he came to have resentment against his shepherd.
He always thought, “Why is the shepherd not on my side? Why does he just leave this leader that way? Why does the shepherd not understand my heart and put me into this difficult situation?”
It’s not that I didn’t understand his heart, but because I knew it very well, I tried to let him understand many times with the truth.
“If the leader is teaching untruth, you should not obey, but as long as he teaches the truth, you should obey following the order in the Lord. Serve others first and humble yourself first.”
But because this elder had such a strong framework that he was right and the other person was wrong, he could not understand my advices.
He only thought that the shepherd had to rebuke or do something to this leader the way he thought was proper.
He didn’t understand the heart of the shepherd who harbored each soul, hoping with long endurance for each person to come into spirit. As time passed, he had more and more resentment and complaints, and he felt it was not comfortable to meet his shepherd as well.
He couldn’t offer prayers of thanks before the Father God, and he lost his joy.
Also, when he listened to the word pointing out a certain sin, he had the urge in heart, but he couldn’t receive the strength to actually cast it off.
And rather than realizing himself through the word, he only thought, “That leader should listen to this message and understand something.”
Because he was leading this kind of Christian life, he had no joy or thanks, and even his hope for heaven disappeared little by little.
Because he had much affliction in heart, he could not set a good example to others, and he could not plant any hope or faith to other people.
Finally, he got a disease, and he just passed away without being able to receive the healing. Then, after he got out of his physical body, what kind of heart did he have?
Let me introduce to you some parts of his confession that God let me know.
“Please forgive me for confessing all this only now. I was not perfect in all things. My lips were not perfect and my heart was not perfect.
When the person whom I was serving was doing something, I thought as follows:
“Why is my shepherd not on my side? Why does he leave this leader just like this?” I didn’t understand the love or the goodness of the shepherd.
Now, since I left all these things from my heart, I am at great peace.
Now I realize that it was such a great sin to complain that the shepherd just left the leader with whom I had trouble, and I am too ashamed to lift up my head. When I had the physical body, I did not know it was such a great wall of sin against God.
I just thought I was righteous, and I didn’t know how much the shepherd was enduring with love.
After I am out of my physical body, I realize that it was so meaningless, and I was so evil.
But because I was one of the flock of the shepherd and because the shepherd prayed for me, I did not receive shameful salvation, and I am so thankful for this.
I give thanks to the shepherd that he guided me not to be ashamed and to get into a better heavenly dwelling place.”
Namely, he could not go anywhere but Paradise, but finally he was given the 1st kingdom of heaven.
I hope this one example will become your life and strength.
Even if you love the Lord and the shepherd so much and sow and work so much, if your faith is not growing up or if you have no joy or thanks, you have to check yourself once again.
Now, I want you to check whether you had complaints or resentments in your mind, even if you have not spoken them out, because of the things about the church or things about the shepherd that do not agree with your righteousness and frameworks.
If you have even momentary resentment, it can never be delight in God’s sight, but it will only become a great wall of sin.
From the next session, I will talk to you about the second kingdom of heaven.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it’s never easy for a person who is not really eligible to be saved to receive salvation and go to Paradise, or for a person who can go to only Paradise to go up to the 1st kingdom or from 1st kingdom to the 2nd kingdom of heaven.
Whether or not one can go one level higher in the heavenly dwelling places is solely the authority of God the Father.
Of course, there must be a proper reason according to the justice.
And in this church, there were many cases where people went up higher than what they were actually supposed to be given as their heavenly dwelling place.
This has a deep relationship to my duty that was given by God the Father.
Namely, it is to lead numerous souls to have the qualifications to enter into the city of New Jerusalem.
Just as the duty of the mission to Israel, which was given from the beginning of this church, is being fulfilled in reality now, I believe that there will be so many souls from this church who will go into New Jerusalem.
Therefore, I pray in the name of the Lord that all you who have been here until now will cultivate holiness of heart with word and prayer and march on towards New Jerusalem.
Brothers and sisters, this week we have the Chuseok holidays.
I hope none of you, even if you are new-believers, will bow before any idol.
Even if you have unbelieving family members, if you sow with love first and act in wisdom of goodness, you can surely overcome with faith.
Also, if you spread the good news to evangelize them, it will be even greater joy to the Father God.
I wish you a happy Chuseok holiday in the Lord!