James 1: 12
“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is the 37th session of the ‘Heaven’ series.
In the last session, I gave you a brief outlook of the environment and facilities of the third kingdom of heaven. When people talk about a great difference, they say something like ‘There is a world of difference’.
And the difference between the 2nd kingdom of heaven and the third kingdom of heaven is something like this.
I already explained to you how all kinds of things in the third kingdom of heaven are different from those of the second kingdom of heaven.
And basically, the magnitude of happiness felt in the 3rd kingdom is much greater than that of the 2nd kingdom.
For example, on the earth, as we go from the Polar Regions to the Equator, the average temperature gets warmer.
Likewise, in heaven, as we get closer to New Jerusalem, the magnitude of happiness, joy, and peace becomes greater.
But the difference between the 2nd kingdom of heaven and the third kingdom of heaven is much greater than that between other dwelling places. This difference is because of the difference between spirit and flesh.
Of course, those who enter the 2nd kingdom of heaven or below do not come into the heavenly kingdom with fleshly hearts. It’s just that they come with as much of the spiritual heart they had been able to accomplish, like 10%, 30%, 50%, or 70% of the whole spirit.
But those who go into the third kingdom of heaven have cast off all flesh and sanctified their hearts completely. They have become the true children of God who is spirit.
Thus it is possible only for these true children to be able to receive this special love that God has for them.
I hope that, through this message, you will also become God’s true children who will receive the special love of God.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, God basically gives a crown to each person who is coming into the 3rd kingdom of heaven, just like in the case of 1st and the 2nd kingdoms of heaven. It is the crown of life.
And why did God name this the crown of life?
It’s because those who come into the third kingdom of heaven have passed the test of giving their lives to the Lord.
Even in this world, when people pass certain qualifying tests, they are given certificates.
Likewise, only those who pass the test of giving their lives for the Lord with faith will be given crown of life.
Today’s passage James 1:12 says, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
Here, ‘persevering under trial’ is not just persisting steadily at something or suppressing something. It refers to a level where you don’t even have to bear with anything. Even when a man has evil in his heart, he can control it to some extent.
But in an extreme situation, most people cannot suppress it any more and it comes out as evil words or action.
It was the case with Job. Job was an upright and honest man, but when an extreme test was given, what happened?
When he lost his wealth and children, he seemed to be passing the test. But when the test came upon his own body, he began to complain against God.
He also argued with his friends and got angry at them. He outwardly expressed many kinds of evil things. But, when he realized his evil he repented and changed himself. He was then able to go into the level of sanctification.
Up to this today, I also had many tests of giving my life. Here, let me give you two of the testimonies. I am not saying that through those two tests I went into the fourth level of faith. I was in the fourth level of faith even before the opening of this church.
The reason why I explain these two cases is to help you understand what kind of test is a test of giving one’s life.
First, it was the dismissal from the position of a pastor in 1990.
The general assembly of the denomination I belonged to at that time gave some orders for corrections to be made to our church.
But the contents were all groundless and unreasonable. So, we sent an appeal.
We said that if they would tell us, according to the Bible, what was wrong with what we were doing, we would correct it.
But the general assembly just informed us that our appeal was being rejected because it was groundless. Some of my fellow pastors who were senior to me in the denomination had told me something similar to the following:
“Just say ‘Amen’ even if the leaders of the denomination say that ‘Cola’ is ‘Cider’.”
They told me to say “I am sorry” what ever the case may be. They said it was the only way for our church and me to survive.
But as God is watching everything, how can the truth be untruth or untruth the truth?
If we truly believe in God and love Him, we cannot do that.
Also, our church and I did not react with any evil but only with goodness and love.
But in the general assembly of the denomination with only 90 attendants from among the 300 representatives, the bill to dismiss me was passed with 48 votes. Through this, it seemed that I lost my life as a pastor. But God is faithful. He never forsakes those who keep their faith and righteousness in Him.
Through this incident, it was not that our church and I died but rather we gained a more vigorous life. God opened a new way to fully preach the fivefold gospel of holiness.
The second test to give up my life took place in 1992. It was when I bled so much.
In that situation, I may have been able to go to the hospital and get a simple treatment to stop the bleeding. But I did not rely on the world, but only on God.
I had the determination, “If I perish, I perish.”
I was always proclaiming that God is almighty and nothing is impossible for those who believed. I could not compromise with the world at the threshold of death.
I chose to rather lose my life than disgrace the name of God.
So, my life actually ended, and my spirit went before the Lord. But the Lord revived me.
He let me fulfill all the duties given to me at the end time completely.
Brothers and sisters, to pass a test of giving one’s life is something like this.
Even in a test of dying, we just choose the truth.
Even in a situation of actually dying, we still firmly keep our faith.
How can we do that? We can do it if we love God enough. The fourth level of faith, which is required to go into the third kingdom of heaven, is the faith to love God to the utmost degree.
Because they have this kind of faith, they can pass even the test of sacrificing their lives.
But even in this world we do not have little children take college entrance exams. They attend elementary, junior high, and senior high schools, and they take many kinds of exams.
Through the exams, they check their progress and go up to the next step.
It’s the same with the tests of checking our faith.
After we receive the Holy Spirit and as our faith grows, there are constant tests that are both small and big.
In our everyday life, we have the test of choosing between the truth and untruth. If we choose the truth every time, we pass the tests and go into spirit to that same extent.
But if we compromise with the world every time, our faith cannot grow. It may even backslide.
Galatians 5:17 says, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”
Also, Romans 7:22-23 says, “For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.”
If you just joyfully concur with the law of God and follow the desires of the Spirit, you can easily pass the tests of faith. But the problem is the desires of the flesh. The ‘self’ that was made before we came into the Lord tries to live by its own ‘will’.
With their brains, people think they have to live by the word of God, but their heart is not the same.
They seek their own benefit.
For example, they know that they must not eat something, but they eat it following the desires of flesh.
They know they must not look at something, but they look following the desires of flesh. They know they must not take it, but they take it following the desires of flesh.
They know they must not speak in a certain situation, but they cannot control themselves and blurt it out. Their feelings are also hurt and they get angry.
They know the word of God, but because they acted in opposite way, their hearts are afflicted. But those who truly love God cut off and cast away these desires of flesh.
Even in this world, when people love somebody they change so much.
Usually lazy people become diligent for their loved ones.
Those who are not usually very neat become neat and clean in their appearances.
Although fleshly love does not last long, love has this kind of power.
Thus, if we understand the love of the Lord who died in place of us to save us from hell, we cannot help but love the Lord, too.
With the love for the Lord, we can give up our desire to seek our own benefit. Also, we can cast off the forms of evil that the Lord hates.
In any situation, we have to kill the ‘self’ that tries to live according to our own desires. It’s just as the apostle Paul confessed, “I die daily.”
If one always follows the will of God in any situation, it’s the same as giving his life.
It’s because he has completely cast off his flesh that was forming his ‘self’. This is referred to as ‘living martyrdom’.
Also, this is to be faithful to the point of death. Revelation 2:10 says, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Usually, people think that to be faithful is to diligently fulfill one’s duty.
But the kind of faithfulness that God really wants is spiritual faithfulness. Above all, He wants us to accomplish the heart of spirit and become His true children. Of course, we have to fulfill our duties at the same time. We can find ourselves while we are performing our duties, and it will be easier for us to change.
But sometimes, there are people who are diligent in fulfilling their duties, but they are neglecting spiritual faithfulness.
If we have fervor to do voluntary works with our sweat, we also have to be diligent in casting off sins.
We always have to check the sinful natures that are remaining in us. Then we have to pray fervently to pull them out completely.
We have to keep it in mind all the time so that evil acts will not come out. Even when we have a thought of untruth for a moment, we have to pray not to have the same thought again.
We have to try to pull out even the slightest bit of agitation and stirring of evil in our heart.
Nobody else can do this for us. We have to do it ourselves. We have to go on step by step with humble and truthful hearts. The speed of the progress may be different according to each one’s inner heart, but everybody has to go through this kind of process to go into spirit.
Spirit is not visible or tangible, so we may not have a clear idea of what to do.
But still, when we keep on casting off sins with faith, because of our love for the Lord, God says we are faithful.
Of course, God the Father shows greater love for you as you go into spirit more and more.
The answers to your prayers come more quickly, and the prosperity in everything is also different.
So, even if you may feel it is difficult to go into spirit in the beginning, the more you change into spirit, the easier it becomes.
Brothers and sisters, the crown of life is given when we pass the test of giving up life with faith. So, those who become martyrs for the name of the Lord will receive the crown of life in the third kingdom of heaven.
Even if they are not fully sanctified at the moment of their death, their heart is acknowledged by the martyrdom. Why is it so?
If they have the heart to become a martyr to keep their faith, it means they can surely become sanctified.
If they have more time to live on this earth, they can surely cast off all flesh and have heart of spirit.
But dying in a mission field cannot all be considered in martyrdom. Also, there are cases where one thinks he kept faith by not compromising with the world, but in God’s sight it is not martyrdom. There may be deaths that seem to be the same kind of martyrdom on the outside, but the faith and heart of each one is different.
There are people who become a martyr with faith and true love, but there are different cases, too.
Today’s passage says that the Lord will give the crown of life after one is approved.
About the kind of martyrdom that God approves, I will tell you in detail when I later introduce the cases of going into the third kingdom by martyrdom.
Now, among those who are saved by conscience judgment, some of them go into the third kingdom of heaven.
About what the conscience judgment is and what the standards are, I will explain in the next session.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in this session, I told you about the meaning of the crown of life that is given in the third kingdom of heaven. I also told you with what kind of faith you can go into the third kingdom of heaven. It is the faith to love the Lord to the utmost degree, more than anything else.
And this faith and love have to be approved by not ourselves but by the Lord.
What is the standard for the Lord to approve it? It is that we have to pass the test of giving our lives for the Lord.
Matthew 10:39 also says, “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”
Of course, if we keep our faith even under severe persecutions and become a martyr, this is a really giving one’s life.
But there is a ‘living martyrdom’ as well. It is to kill the ‘self’ within us completely and follow the desires of the Spirit alone. In order to do that, we have to completely cast off the flesh that has been forming our ‘self’. We have to cast off all forms of evil, too.
After all, we can follow the desires of the Spirit 100% only when we cultivate our heart with spirit 100%. And the driving-force to do this is the love for the Lord. We have to love the Lord to the utmost degree, and more than ourselves. That is why we can give up our ‘self’.
The Lord also loves this kind of person so much. He gives them not only glory in heaven but also amazing blessings on this earth. He gives them blessings of a different dimension than when they were still in flesh.
I hope all of you will long for this level of spirit more. By doing so, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will come into spirit and whole spirit more quickly.