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  • May 16 / 2021
  • Comments Off on Let the Values of God’s Kingdom be Your Motivation! (Genesis 34:1-7)
Pastor Kang, Sermons, Who is God?

Let the Values of God’s Kingdom be Your Motivation! (Genesis 34:1-7)

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Send to: NongHyup bank 351-0158-2802-13 Song Ki-Joong

Let the Values of God’s Kingdom be your Motivation!

1 Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. 2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and violated her. 3 His heart was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her. 4 And Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Get me this girl as my wife.”

5 When Jacob heard that his daughter Dinah had been defiled, his sons were in the fields with his livestock; so he kept quiet about it until they came home. 6 Then Shechem`s father Hamor went out to talk with Jacob.

7 Now Jacob`s sons had come in from the fields as soon as they heard what had happened. They were filled with grief and fury, because Shechem had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob`s daughter — a thing that should not be done.

Genesis 34:1-7

Let us begin by acknowledging that this story, which spans the entire chapter of Genesis 34, is complicated and nuanced. There are many lessons that can be gained from an in-depth study, but today we will focus primarily on comparing the worldly motivations of each of the men who drove this story forward to its disastrous conclusion. 

Traditionally, the story in Genesis 34 is referred to as “The Rape of Dinah,” in which Shechem forcefully took Jacob’s daughter for himself when he saw her in his land. After satisfying his lust, he became lovestruck, and insisted she become his wife. 

The seriousness of this first sin should not be overlooked because it was a horrible crime against Dinah, and against Jacob’s whole family. And while this sin was the first in this story, it was not the last, nor the worst, but it was the tipping point for everything that followed. In fact, the entire story is a sequence of bad decisions that are strung together that continually make things worse.

From Dinah’s first bad decision to go out into the godless and wicked land, to Shechem’s bad decision to have her because he had everything else he wanted, things only escalated from there. Hamor made a bad decision to try to bribe Jacob for his son’s marriage. Simeon and Levi made a bad decision to deceive and murder their sister’s captors. And Jacob made a bad decision to remain quiet during the whole matter until the final bloody deed was done, at which point he made another bad decision to reprimand his sons for their vengeance which he feared would cause him to lose his reputation.

If we take a close look at the men in this story, we can discover what motivated them to take the actions they did.

Shechem and his father Hamor were driven by their love of worldly wealth and possessions, otherwise known as materialism. Simeon and Levi were driven by a self-righteous sense of honor. And Jacob was driven primarily by reputation and the Fear of Man, not the Fear of God.

Let us begin by looking at things from Shechem and Hamor’s point of view.

Shechem and Hamor were motivated by worldly wealth

Genesis 34:8-12

8 But Hamor said to them, “My son Shechem has his heart set on your daughter. Please give her to him as his wife. 9 Intermarry with us; give us your daughters and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 You can settle among us; the land is open to you. Live in it, trade in it, and acquire property in it.”

11 Then Shechem said to Dinah`s father and brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes, and I will give you whatever you ask. 12 Make the price for the bride and the gift I am to bring as great as you like, and I`ll pay whatever you ask me. Only give me the girl as my wife.”

Throughout history, there have been many rich men who have had their names placed on buildings in tribute to their wealth and status. Trump Tower and Rockefeller Center are a few good examples. In the same way, Shechem gave his own name to the land he ruled, calling it “Shechem” in his honor. Shechem was the most respected man in that region as a leader who had both wealth and honor. In a modern sense, Shechem may be seen as the heir of a Fortune 100 company.

Shechem and Hamor attempted to make a financial transaction (or a bribe) with Jacob, bargaining for his daughter, Dinah, in return for opening up their land to him, without ever addressing Shechem’s sin, nor asking for forgiveness. Hamor, Shechem’s father, was basically offering permanent residence and the right to do business in his land to Jacob’s family.

Do you know the approximate cost of getting permanent residency in Australia?

At a minimum, it takes at least 5 years and may cost as much as 1 million US dollars! This is the estimated time and cost it would take to graduate from a university and do an internship in the country, at an estimated cost of 200 million Korean won per year.

When we think about such things, the value of the permanent residency and business rights that Hamor offered to Jacob is considerable! This was to be Shechem’s wedding present to marry Dinah. He showed off his wealth and said he could give Jacob’s family everything they ever wanted. 

But, in truth, they were deceptive in their intentions, seeking to absorb the wealth of Jacob’s family into their own through the union of the two peoples through marriage.

Shechem and his father Hamor were driven by worldly values, namely materialism. They desired worldly wealth and possessions, and this can even be seen in how they treated Jacob’s daughter, as another possession, or trophy, to acquire.

How did Jacob’s sons react to their attitudes?

Simeon and Levi were motivated by a self-righteous sense of honor

Genesis 34:13-17

13 Because their sister Dinah had been defiled, Jacob`s sons replied deceitfully as they spoke to Shechem and his father Hamor. 14 They said to them, “We can`t do such a thing; we can`t give our sister to a man who is not circumcised. That would be a disgrace to us. 15 We will give our consent to you on one condition only: that you become like us by circumcising all your males. 16 Then we will give you our daughters and take your daughters for ourselves. We`ll settle among you and become one people with you. 17 But if you will not agree to be circumcised, we`ll take our sister and go.”

In the early days when Jacob’s family settled in Canaan, they maintained a peaceful relationship with the native people there. But this peace came to an end when Shechem shamed Jacob’s daughter, Dinah.

Dinah’s brothers, Simeon and Levi, were also deceptive in their intentions when they replied to Shechem’s marriage proposal with “only if you get circumcised first.” In truth, they intended to completely destroy Shechem and his whole tribe.

Deuteronomy 30:6

6 The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.

“Circumcision of heart” is mentioned in Deuteronomy. Whereas circumcision of the flesh was a physical representation of Israel as God’s chosen people, circumcision of the heart goes deeper. Rather than simply cutting the flesh to “show” that they worship God, circumcision of the heart cuts to the soul, convicting people of sin, causing them to turn to God in repentance, leaving their foolish ways, sins, and former lives behind, and loving the Lord God with all their hearts and wills.

In fact, circumcision of the heart is the kind of circumcision that was necessary for Shechem and his people if they were to intermarry with the Israelites and become one nation with them. Had they been circumcised of the heart, the two peoples would have worshiped and served the same God. But, physical circumcision would never convict Shechem and his people of their sins and cause them to turn in repentance to God. 

Misunderstanding the depth of what was necessary, and only focusing on the external, Shechem and Hamor agreed that a minor cosmetic surgery was a small price to pay in order to gain access to Jacob’s family’s wealth. Therefore, they agreed to be circumcised physically as Simeon and Levi had suggested.

Simeon and Levi, for their part, knew that physical circumcision would never be enough to unite their two people. In fact, in self-righteousness, they considered themselves and their family to be morally superior to Shechem, and sought to restore the honor to their family that Shechem had stolen without God’s help. Because they did not seek God’s will in the matter, and they knew that physical circumcision was not enough to change the hearts of their enemies into hearts that also loved and served their God, they corrupted God’s sacred “circumcision”, a sign of His people, into a tool for murder and revenge.

Simeon and Levi were also driven by worldly values, namely their own self-righteous sense of honor. But in their self-righteousness, they actually dishonored God, their father, and their family through their hasty actions.

How did Jacob react to the revenge his sons had committed?

Jacob was motivated by reputation and fear of Man

Genesis 34:30

30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me a stench to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people living in this land. We are few in number, and if they join forces against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed.”

Notice that this is the first time in this story that Jacob speaks. We haven’t yet heard his voice speak up in defense of his daughter. Nor have we heard Jacob advise his sons about the correct course of action they should have taken in response. Rather, Jacob has remained silent until all actions have been completed, and then he blamed Simeon and Levi for taking vengeance on their own apart from God.

But the primary reason that Jacob was upset was because he thought their vengeful actions would lead to his loss of reputation in the area. It’s unfortunate that Jacob was more concerned about his reputation in the land than the lives and actions of his children and the land of Promise that God had given them. In fact, at that time, the fear of Man in him was greater than the fear of God. He was afraid that the surrounding people would unite and take away the lives of him and his family.

Jacob was also driven by worldly values, namely his concern for his own reputation, favor, and acceptance from the people rather than the truth, justice, and Promise of God. 

So in this story, everyone was driven by worldly values.

Then, what would our role model, Jesus Christ, want to say to those who pursue worldly values?

Jesus Christ was motivated by the Word of God

Matthew 4:1-10

1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: `Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.`”

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “`He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.`” 7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: `Do not put the Lord your God to the test.`”

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: `Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.`”

Before starting his public ministry, Jesus was led into the desert by the Holy Spirit to pray. There, the devil tempted him to pursue the values of the world.

First, the devil used the materialism of the world that Shechem and Hamor pursued to tempt Jesus. He tempted Jesus to relieve his hunger after fasting in the desert for 40 days by creating bread from the rocks and eating it. But Jesus said ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

Second, the devil used the honor that Simeon and Levi tried to recover through revenge to tempt Jesus. He tempted Jesus to jump from the top of the temple and gain honor as the Son of God. Jesus said ‘It is also written: `Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’

Finally, the devil used the power of the world that Jacob both desired and feared to tempt Jesus. He tempted Jesus by offering to give him all power over the world if only Jesus would bow down and worship him. But Jesus cast him away, saying ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: `Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.`

Jesus did not pursue the values of the world in his moment of weakness and temptation. For most people, their greatest moment of weakness and temptation comes in a moment of crisis. It is at this moment that it is easiest to fall into worldly temptations and pursue worldly values. Yet, Jesus always pursued the values of the kingdom of God as his top priority.

Therefore, let us look to Jesus as the perfect example of the kind of lives we should live when faced with crisis and temptation. He has shown the right response to those who pursue only worldly values. According to Jesus’ example, we need to spend time in fellowship with God. He did this in the desert through fasting and prayer. We also may fast and pray to draw close to God. In the face of temptation, Jesus quoted the word of God directly in order to defeat Satan’s lies and temptations. We also need to read the word, and study it, and memorize it in order to give a biblical response to Satan’s temptations. And like Jesus throughout the rest of his life, we also need to stand in awe of God, fear him, love him, and obey God’s sovereignty.

  • Are you one who seeks the values of the kingdom of God first? Amen!
  • Will you worship God first, no matter what problems may arise? Amen!
  • Will you read the Bible first, no matter what trouble you have? Amen!
  • Will you pray to God first, even in difficult circumstances? Amen!
  • Will you trust in the guidance of Jesus Christ, no matter what crisis you face? Amen!

This week, I hope we will have a wonderful week pursuing the values of the kingdom of God ahead of the values of the world.

하나님의 가치를 우선하라!

1 레아가 야곱에게 낳은 딸 디나가 그 땅의 딸들을 보러 나갔더니

2 히위 족속 중 하몰의 아들 그 땅의 추장 세겜이 그를 보고 끌어들여 강간하여 욕되게 하고

3 그 마음이 깊이 야곱의 딸 디나에게 연연하며 그 소녀를 사랑하여 그의 마음을 말로 위로하고

4 그의 아버지 하몰에게 청하여 이르되 이 소녀를 내 아내로 얻게 하여 주소서 하였더라

5 야곱이 그 딸 디나를 그가 더럽혔다 함을 들었으나 자기의 아들들이 들에서 목축하므로 그들이 돌아오기까지 잠잠하였고

6 세겜의 아버지 하몰은 야곱에게 말하러 왔으며

7 야곱의 아들들은 들에서 이를 듣고 돌아와서 그들 모두가 근심하고 심히 노하였으니 이는 세겜이 야곱의 딸을 강간하여 이스라엘에게 부끄러운 일 곧 행하지 못할 일을 행하였음이더라

창세기 34:1-7

0. 예화 “만약 내 자녀가 대기업의 후계자와 결혼한다면?”

만약 내일 대기업의 후계자가 당신을 방문하여, 당신의 딸과의 결혼을 허락해 주길 요청한다면 당신은 어떻게 할 것입니까?

 당신은 이미 이것을 상상하는 것 만으로도 행복을 느낄지도 모르겠습니다.

대부분의 사람들은 대기업의 후계자와 자신의 딸과의 결혼에 대해 긍정적으로 생각할 것입니다.

그 이유는 무엇일까요?

만약 당신의 딸이 대기업의 후계자의 아내가 된다면, 당신의 딸은 평생 동안 부유한 삶을 살 수 있을 것으로 기대되기 때문입니다.

또한 이 결혼으로 인해 당신의 가문은 사회적으로 더 큰 영향력을 갖게 될 것입니다.

당신은 당신의 사위의 재력을 통해 일상에서 벗어나, 그 동안 누리지 못했던 사치나 여가 생활을 즐길 수 있게 될 것입니다.

 그런데 당신이 놓친 것이 하나 있습니다. 그것은 바로 하나님을 향한 신앙을 확인하는 것입니다.

당신은 당신의 딸의 남편이 될 수도 있는 그 부유한 사람이 크리스천인지 묻지 않았습니다.

만약 당신의 딸의 남편이 될 사람이 평범한 사람이었다면, 당신은 분명 그가 크리스천인지 물어보았을 것입니다.

우리는 왜 대기업의 후계자에게는 신앙에 대해서 관대하게 대하는 것일까요?

그것은 우리에게 하나님의 가치보다 세상의 가치가 더욱 매력적으로 보이기 때문입니다.

오늘 우리는 성경 속에서 세상의 가치를 추구했던 사람들의 모습을 살펴 볼 것 입니다.

1. 세겜과 하몰이 추구한 가치

창세기 34:8-12

8 하몰이 그들에게 이르되 내 아들 세겜이 마음으로 너희 딸을 연연하여 하니 원하건대 그를 세겜에게 주어 아내로 삼게 하라

9 너희가 우리와 통혼하여 너희 딸을 우리에게 주며 우리 딸을 너희가 데려가고

10 너희가 우리와 함께 거주하되 땅이 너희 앞에 있으니 여기 머물러 매매하며 여기서 기업을 얻으라 하고

11 세겜도 디나의 아버지와 그의 남자 형제들에게 이르되 나로 너희에게 은혜를 입게 하라 너희가 내게 말하는 것은 내가 다 주리니

12 이 소녀만 내게 주어 아내가 되게 하라 아무리 큰 혼수와 예물을 청할지라도 너희가 내게 말한 대로 주리라

우리는 트럼프 타워(Trump Tower)나 록펠러 센터(Rockefeller Center) 등 세계적인 유명인이 자신의 이름을 따서 지은 건물이나 장소에 대해 알고 있습니다.

이와 같이 세겜도 그가 다스리는 땅의 이름을 그의 이름과 같은 ‘세겜’ 이라 불렀습니다. 

즉 세겜은 부와 명예를 가진 지도자로서 그 지역에서 가장 존경받는 사람이었습니다.

현대적으로 말하면 세겜은 대기업의 후계자로 볼 수도 있을 것입니다.

그들은 야곱의 딸 디나에게 저지른 잘못에 대해, 용서를 구하지 않고 물질적인 보상으로 해결하려고 하였습니다.

세겜의 아버지 하몰은 야곱의 가족에게 영주권과 생존권을 제시하였습니다.

여러분은 호주 영주권 취득을 위해 필요한 비용에 대해 알고 있으십니까?

국가에서 원하는 분야의 학교를 졸업하고 인턴 과정을 하는데 필요한 기간이 최소 5년, 학비와 생활비로 필요한 비용이 최소 2억이 든다고 합니다.

이런 것들을 생각해 볼 때에 하몰이 야곱의 가족에게 제시한 영주권과 생존권의 가치는 상당히 크다고 여겨집니다.

세겜은 디나와 결혼하기 위해 필요한 예물과 혼수에 대해서 언급하였습니다.

그는 그의 재력을 과시하며 야곱의 가족들이 원하는 모든 것을 줄 수 있다고 하였습니다.

그러나 그들은 결혼을 통한 두 민족의 결합을 통해, 야곱의 가문의 소유를 자신들의 것으로 흡수하려는 순수하지 않은 의도가 있었습니다.

세겜과 그의 아버지 하몰은 세상의 가치를 추구하였습니다.

그들은 물질만능주의(materialism)를 추구하였습니다.

이러한 그들의 태도에 야곱의 아들들은 어떻게 반응 하였을까요?

2. 시므온과 레위가 추구한 가치

창세기 34:13-17

13 야곱의 아들들이 세겜과 그의 아버지 하몰에게 속여 대답하였으니 이는 세겜이 그 누이 디나를 더럽혔음이라

14 야곱의 아들들이 그들에게 말하되 우리는 그리하지 못하겠노라 할례 받지 아니한 사람에게 우리 누이를 줄 수 없노니 이는 우리의 수치가 됨이니라

15 그런즉 이같이 하면 너희에게 허락하리라 만일 너희 중 남자가 다 할례를 받고 우리 같이 되면

16 우리 딸을 너희에게 주며 너희 딸을 우리가 데려오며 너희와 함께 거주하여 한 민족이 되려니와

17 너희가 만일 우리 말을 듣지 아니하고 할례를 받지 아니하면 우리는 곧 우리 딸을 데리고 가리라

야곱의 가족들이 가나안 땅에 정착한 초기에는 그곳 원주민들과 평화로운 관계를 유지하였습니다.

그러나 세겜이 야곱의 딸 디나를 수치스럽게 만들자 이 평화는 깨질 위기를 맞이하게 되었습니다.

디나의 오빠인 시므온과 레위는 세겜과 그의 부족에게 “할례”를 제안합니다.

그러나 시므온과 레위가 언급한 “할례”는 순수한 제안이 아니었습니다.

그것은 세겜과 그의 부족을 전멸시킬 속임수 였습니다.

신명기 30:6

6 네 하나님 여호와께서 네 마음과 네 자손의 마음에 할례를 베푸사 너로 마음을 다하며 뜻을 다하여 네 하나님 여호와를 사랑하게 하사 너로 생명을 얻게 하실 것이며

시므온과 레위가 제안한 “할례”는 신명기에서 언급하는 “마음의 할례”와 같은 의미입니다.

즉, 그들은 세겜에게 할례를 통해 우리가 한 민족이 되어, 마음과 뜻을 다하여 하나님 여호와를 사랑하자라고 제안한 것입니다.

그래서 그들의 진정한 있는 말을 하몰과 그의 아들 세겜이 좋게 여겼습니다.

그러나 시므온과 레위가 하나님의 뜻을 구하지 않으니, 하나님의 백성이 되는 징표인 신성한 “할례”가 살인과 복수를 위한 도구가 되었습니다.

시므온과 레위는 세상의 가치를 추구하였습니다.

그들은 복수를 통해 실추된 가문의 명예를 되찾으려고 하였습니다.

야곱은 그의 아들들이 저지른 복수에 대해 어떻게 반응 하였을까요?

3. 야곱이 추구한 가치

창세기 34:30

30 야곱이 시므온과 레위에게 이르되 너희가 내게 화를 끼쳐 나로 하여금 이 땅의 주민 곧 가나안 족속과 브리스 족속에게 악취를 내게 하였도다 나는 수가 적은즉 그들이 모여 나를 치고 나를 죽이리니 그러면 나와 내 집이 멸망하리라

야곱은 시므온과 레위의 잘못된 행실 때문에 그들을 책망했습니다.

야곱이 화를 낸 이유는 이 일로 인해 그 지역에서 그가 완전히 신뢰를 잃게 되었다고 여겼기 때문입니다.

야곱은 하나님이 말씀하신 약속의 땅과 약속의 자손에 대해서 걱정하지 않았습니다.

오히려 그는 주변 족속 들이 연합하여 그와 그의 가족의 생명을 빼앗을까 두려웠습니다.

야곱은 세상의 가치를 추구하였습니다.

그는 주변 족속들로부터 신뢰를 얻어 그들에게 호의를 얻기를 원했습니다.

야곱은 자신의 세력보다 큰 연합군의 권력에 두려움을 느꼈습니다.

이렇듯 모든 사람들은 세상의 가치를 추구합니다.

우리의 롤모델, 예수님은 세상의 가치를 따르는 사람들에게 어떤 말씀을 하고 싶으실까요?

4. 예수 그리스도가 추구한 가치

마태복음 4:1-10

1 그 때에 예수께서 성령에게 이끌리어 마귀에게 시험을 받으러 광야로 가사

2 사십 일을 밤낮으로 금식하신 후에 주리신지라

3 시험하는 자가 예수께 나아와서 이르되 네가 만일 하나님의 아들이어든 명하여 이 돌들로 떡덩이가 되게 하라

4 예수께서 대답하여 이르시되 기록되었으되 사람이 떡으로만 살 것이 아니요 하나님의 입으로부터 나오는 모든 말씀으로 살 것이라 하였느니라 하시니

5 이에 마귀가 예수를 거룩한 성으로 데려다가 성전 꼭대기에 세우고

6 이르되 네가 만일 하나님의 아들이어든 뛰어내리라 기록되었으되 그가 너를 위하여 그의 사자들을 명하시리니 그들이 손으로 너를 받들어 발이 돌에 부딪치지 않게 하리로다 하였느니라

7 예수께서 이르시되 또 기록되었으되 주 너의 하나님을 시험하지 말라 하였느니라 하시니

8 마귀가 또 그를 데리고 지극히 높은 산으로 가서 천하 만국과 그 영광을 보여

9 이르되 만일 내게 엎드려 경배하면 이 모든 것을 네게 주리라

10 이에 예수께서 말씀하시되 사탄아 물러가라 기록되었으되 주 너의 하나님께 경배하고 다만 그를 섬기라 하였느니라

마귀는 예수님을 시험하여 그가 세상의 가치를 추구하도록 유혹했습니다.

먼저 마귀는 세겜과 하몰이 추구했던 물질만능주의를 이용하였습니다.

그는 예수님에게 떡을 먹고 그의 굶주림을 해결하라고 유혹하였습니다.

이에 예수님은 떡이 아닌 하나님의 말씀으로 살 것이라고 말씀하셨습니다.

둘째로, 마귀는 시므온과 레위가 복수를 통해 회복하려고 했던 명예를 이용하였습니다.

그는 예수님에게 성전 꼭대기에서 뛰어내려 하나님의 아들로서의 명예를 얻으라고 유혹하였습니다.

이에 예수님은 하나님을 시험하지 말고 하나님을 경외하라고 말씀하셨습니다.

마지막으로 마귀는 야곱이 두려워하며 추구했던 세상의 권력을 이용하였습니다.

그는 자신에게 경배하면 세상의 모든 권력을 주겠다고 예수님을 유혹하였습니다.

이에 예수님은 하나님께 경배하고 하나님의 주권에 순종하라고 말씀하셨습니다.

예수님은 위기의 순간에 세상의 가치를 추구하지 않았습니다.

예수님은 언제나 하나님의 가치를 최우선으로 추구하셨습니다.

예수님은 세상의 가치만을 추구하는 우리들에게 올바른 답을 보여주신 것입니다.

그것은 언제 어디서나 하나님의 말씀을 읽고, 하나님을 경외하며, 하나님의 주권에 순종하며 사는 삶입니다.

  • 당신은 하나님의 가치를 가장 먼저 추구하는 사람입니까? 아멘!
  • 당신에게 어떤 문제가 생기더라도 먼저 예배를 지키겠습니까? 아멘!
  • 당신에게 어떤 문제가 생기더라도 먼저 성경을 읽겠습니까? 아멘!
  • 당신에게 어떤 문제가 생기더라도 먼저 하나님께 기도하겠습니까? 아멘!
  • 당신에게 어떤 문제가 생기더라도 먼저 예수님의 인도하심을 믿겠습니까? 아멘!

이번 주에도, 하나님의 가치를 세상의 가치보다 먼저 추구하는 지혜로운 한 주 보내시길 소망합니다.

  • Aug 18 / 2019
  • Comments Off on The Characteristics of the Word of God (Hebrews 4:11-13)
Hebrews: The Superiority of Christ, Pastor Heo, Sermons

The Characteristics of the Word of God (Hebrews 4:11-13)

Download Notes in a .MD file

The Characteristics of the Word Of God

Hebrews 4:11-13 (Pastor Heo)

11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.

12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

As I mentioned already, last Sunday, we saw an invitation of REAL rest by Jesus, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I’ll give you rest…”

This is “freedom, salvation, inheritance, peace, joy” rest.

Hebrews 4:11 “Therefore, make every effort… “ (work hard) – wait, this is a paradox. Last Sunday, “Rest” – but now, “work hard”?

Actually, rest does not mean “not working” – rather through hard work we can find rest. We must work hard to find and enjoy real rest – this is a paradox.

Also, we know, Jesus saves us, but we must work hard for our salvation.

Phil 2:12 “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”

Do you have faith? This is the gift of God, from hearing the Word of God. This is a gift, but we must work out our faith hard – day-by-day and drawing close to God in our daily practice.

Hebrews 4:12 “The Word of God is living and active…”

How can we “work out” our faith? Through and by the Word of God. This is a living power – a timeless truth.

Genesis 1:1 “God created the heavens and the earth.. with his Word” – he made something out of nothing – only his Word.

  1. “God said, ‘Let there be light'” and there was light (Day 1)
  2. “Let there be an expanse between the waters and the water” (Day 2)
  3. “Let the water be gathered in one place and the land as well – and the land produce vegetation” (Day 3)
  4. “Let there be lights in the sky – sun, moon, stars” (Day 4)
  5. “Let the water have creatures and the sky as well, the land be filled with all kinds of living creatures” (Day 5)
  6. “Let us make Man in our own image” (Day 6)

This is the story of Creation – “God said, it happened” – still today, God’s Word is living and active and powerful and effective. Do you believe this?

Isaiah 55:11 “My Word which goes out from my mouth will never return empty but will accomplish what I desire and the purpose for which I sent it…”

Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

This is a classic text of God’s Word in its power. This text has broad positive application, but even though this is true, this text (in context) is negative – as a warning to those who disregard and disbelieve the Word.

That’s why 11b says, “….so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.”

It means, we must be careful not to also be disobedient – like the Israelites in Exodus.

Repeat: We know the story of the Exodus. After the Exodus from Egypt, the Israelites journeyed to Canaan and arrived at the border. At the border, Moses sent 12 spies into the land to explore and bring back a report. Their task was only to SEE, not to decide about going in or not – but after 40 days of exploration, 10 of them said, “Oh no! we can’t go in there!” That night, all Israel raised their voices and shouted, “Oh geez! If only we had died in this desert or in Egypt!” God, “Say again? Then I will do to you exactly as you said.”

Today also, God is listening to what we are speaking.

God said, “You asked for it, you got it.”

So… please, don’t say negative things like this to God.

The 10 who gave a bad report were struck down by a plague and God told the people, “OK, go back into the desert tomorrow morning – just to wander until you die.” (It was 40 years – one year for each day of exploration).

Interestingly, the next morning, some said, “We have sinned. We will go up to Canaan and enter it.” Moses said, “No, you will never succeed because God will never go with you.” But nevertheless, in their presumption, they went and tried to enter (disregarding and disobeying God twice). They tried to enter without God, his blessing, God’s promise, Moses, the Ark of the Covenant (a symbol of God’s presence) – and what happened? They were completely destroyed.

With this background (historical example), verse 11b says, “so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. ” Why? Because v12 “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Remember, whatever we are doing, God’s Word is still alive. Regardless of what we do, the Word of God is piercing us and judging us negatively (if we act negatively) – and doing it positively to us (if we act positively).

Timothy “The Word of God is God-breathed and useful for training in righteousness so that the Man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

So, let me share the characteristics and functions of the Word of God. (3 points) – and verse 13 is the conclusion.

Characteristics of the Word of God

#1 Living

“For the Word of God is living and active.”

It is active and effectual. The point: the Word of God has come to Man so that it cannot be disregarded. The Word of God has something that every person (you and me) must face. We must accept or reject it. That is our decision. But we cannot escape a confrontation with the Word of God. We can choose to accept it or reject it.

This is one of the facts of human history. Whenever, wherever a person has taken God’s Word SERIOUSLY, things begin to happen.

Once we take it seriously, we realize that the Word of God is not merely something to read about, but something to be done and fulfilled.

The Word of God gives us life.

Also it can change your life / my life. It is so powerful and active, it can change your life regardless of your age or your past.

Please remember, parents: You cannot change your own children. Only the Word of God can change them. 10, 12, 15 years old? Only the Word of God can change their lives. So, we must allow the Word of God to change their lives and our lives. If we trust the Word of God, God allows it to change our lives and claim his promise.

This is very effective.

#2 Penetrating

“…Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow…”

If someone puts something sharp in your side? It hurts.

Also, the Word of God can do this in positive and negative ways (cleaving, cutting, piercing, performing surgery).

Please do not focus on “what are these nouns?” – the focus of the verse = the holistic physical being (Greek: pushke)

Also in Greek: pneuma = spirit – a characteristic of Mankind (it is by the spirit that we think and reason and look beyond the visible world to that which is invisible – God)

  • The Word of God can cut through anything and bring conviction.
  • It cleaves through our hard souls like a hot knife through warm butter.
  • There are sections of the Word of God that cut through all hypocrisy and religious intention and leaves us convicted.
  • The Word of God convicts us (if we receive it seriously, sincerely).

The Word of God is called “The Sword of the Holy Spirit” (Eph 6:17 “The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit…”) – so it convicts us.

What kind of conviction?

  1. I’m a sinner – I need salvation
  2. Jesus is God (John 1:1 “In the beginning there was the Word (logos) and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And all things were made through that word. Nothing that has been made was made without him…”)

The Word of God gives us conviction that Jesus is the true and eternal God. We are saved only by grace, through faith, in Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that he rose from the dead for your salvation, you will be saved. It is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth you confess and are saved.”

Continually, the Word of God says, “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved “ (and not put to shame).

John 1:12 “To all who accepted his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Are you children of God? By grace, through faith, in Jesus Christ.

This is the conviction the Word of God is working through us.

  1. Living & Active
  2. Penetrating & Dividing (conviction)
  3. Judging & Discerning

#3 Judging

“…it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

This can be both positive and negative – just as the other 2.

  • If I’m “in Christ” and trust him – I’ll welcome his judgment
  • But if I’m “in sin” and reject him – I’ll fear it

The Word of God tests our physical lives and spiritual existence. It scrutinizes our thoughts and attitudes of the hearts (and desires and intentions).

  • Desire = our emotional part
  • Intentions = our intellectual part

So, our emotional AND intellectual parts are exposed to the scrutiny of God’s Word.

What is the heart?

  • It’s the center of human personality.
  • It is hidden from ALL. This is the biblical meaning.

Only the Word of God will tell us what is in our hearts. This is the message of the Word of God.

If we really want to know and understand ourselves, we must fill our hearts with the Word of God.

All human hearts are hidden from all creation, and only the Word of God reveals what is in our hearts, so if we REALLY want to know what is truly in our hearts, you must fill it with the Word of God.

Colossians “Let the Word of God dwell in your richly.”

Read, study, meditate, prayerfully apply it – gives us discernment and deep self-knowledge.

Only the Word of God reveals this.

“The Word of God is like a mirror that reveals who we are really in front of God.”

We cannot escape our passions, dreams, intentions in front of God (we cannot keep secrets from God).


v. 13 “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

“…we must give account.”

Are you happy with this sentence? Someday, maybe soon, we must stand before God face-to-face to give account. Are you OK with that?

We have been speaking of God’s Word in its Living, Penetrating, Judging powers – but in v.13 the focus switches from the Word of God to God himself. God and his Word are inseperable.

God knows and sees all. Yes, I “know” this, but practically, this fact that God SEES and KNOWS all, this is either a:

  1. Great comfort – when we have nothing to hide from him OR
  2. Great discomfort – when we have something to hide

Remember Adam? After the first sin, his next sin was attempting to hide himself from God. He thought God would not see him because God was not “there.” But actually, when he ate the fruit, God saw it and was there. When he hid, God saw it and was there. He knew where he was and how he was, so God said, “Where are you?”

In our practical lives, even if we are unaware of God’s presence, we must remember: “God is there.”

No creation is hidden from God’s sight. All are totally naked and exposed before the eyes of him before whom we must give account.

God knows instantly, effortlessly, all minds, all beings, all spirits, all thoughts, all motivations, all purposes, all pluralities, all hidden motivations, all dreams – visible, invisible, time, life, death, space, heaven, hell.

ALL THINGS God knows.

We cannot deceive him and cannot fool him. We cannot give excuses. We cannot rationalize. We are totally naked and exposed before God. We are powerless and defenseless before God. He is the final judge. Someday, we will stand before him to give an account and be judged.

Remember this.

Conclusion: John 1:1 “In the beginning, the Word (Jesus Christ)…”

So, we will give an account according to how we treat Jesus Christ in this world.

This is:

  1. A promise
  2. A warning

Especially the book of Hebrews always does this: promise/warning, encouraging/discouraging, challenge/trial.

Someday, we will stand before God to give account according to how we treat Jesus in this world.

God bless you.

Let’s pray.

  • Nov 11 / 2018
  • Comments Off on Be a Christian of Courage (Acts 14:1-20)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Be a Christian of Courage (Acts 14:1-20)

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Be a Christian of Courage

Acts 14:1-20 (Pastor Heo)

In Iconium

1 At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3 So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders. 4 The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles. 5 There was a plot afoot among the Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them. 6 But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, 7 where they continued to preach the good news.

In Lystra and Derbe

8 In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10 and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.

11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.

14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15 “Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” 18 Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.

19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.

  • Chp 13 = first half of first missionary journey
  • Chp 14 = second half of first missionary journey

In Paul’s early ministry, he went to large cities and planted churches, hoping to reach out to smaller cities from the central locations. He moved along the line of least resistance – through the open gates – and went to his own countrymen first. But when rejected, he turned to the Gentiles.

Chp 13, first half, Paul and Barnabas sailed to Cyprus, to Pamphilia, to Pisidia Antioch. Here, there were filled with joy and the HS, but they still encountered hardships and persecution. They also expelled Paul and Barnabas from their region – so the two shook the dust form their feet and moved to another place: Iconium (in chp 14 here) – about 90 miles east of Antioch.

v 1-5

“1 At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3 So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders. 4 The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles. 5 There was a plot afoot among the Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them.”

v 1: “Paul and Barnabas went as usual…”

They went into the Jewish synagogues (Jewish churches). Israel was ruled by Rome at that time, and the Jews were scattered all over the world (the Diaspora), and when they scattered, they built “sune – goge” (synagogues) wherever they went.

Greek “sune” = “together”; “goge” = “bring”

This was a religious, social, public building specifically set aside for the Jewish people.

The first thing Paul did was look for a synagogue because he knew he could meet many people there.

Today, there are 10s of thousands:

  • about 10,000 synagogues in Israel,
  • 4,000 in North America,
  • 3,500 in Europe and Asia

Paul and Barnabas began preaching there, but they ran into difficulties – more serious than at Antioch. Greeks and Jews were plotting to stone them, so they had to move on.

In Corinthians, Paul writes, “I have been constantly on the move…”

2 Cor. 4:8 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our bodies the death of Jesus, so that his life maybe expressed through ours.”

v 6-7

“6 But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, 7 where they continued to preach the good news.”

Whatever happened to them, whatever circumstances / surroundings, Paul and Barnabas continued to preach the gospel. Paul was a realist but also an optimist.

Are you a realist? Optimist? Pessimist?

Some preachers say like this:

  • Optimist: “85 year old man who married a 35-year old woman and moved to a 12 room house near an elementary school”
  • Optimist does not allow the facts surrounding him to take away his faith, vision, etc that something great can happen.

Remember Paul’s declaration from prison: “I know what it is to be in need, or to have plenty. I have learned the secret to being content in all circumstances: well-fed or hungry, living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:11-13)

Four reactions to the gospel

How are you showing your reaction to the word of God?

1. A crippled man’s response

v 8-10

“8 In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10 and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.”

As usual, Paul preached the gospel message – and among the audience was a crippled man.

He reacted with faith

The Word of God produces faith and by faith, he was healed.

This also should be applied in our own reaction to the Word of God. At least every Sunday, we receive the Word of God and we should react by faith.

Rom 10:17 “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of God.”

Heb 12:2 “Fix your eyes on Jesus who is the author and perfector of our faith.”

2. Crowd’s reaction

v 11-13

“11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.”

The crowd tried to worship them as though they were the visual representation of gods.

Yes, miracles happen. Our lives are miracles. Salvation is the miracle of miracles.

But we know that miracles by themselves do not produce confession nor faith. Miracles must be accompanied by the Word of God.

This shows the crowd was superstitious and interpreted these things through their own mythology.

  • Zeus = Jupiter = Barnabas = chief of gods
  • Hermes = Mercury = Paul

Do you know how many gods in Japan? 8,000,000

How many in Hindu? ALL

This is “pantheism” = ALL gods

Barnabas evidently looked older, had a more noble appearance. Paul spoke for the two – and Hermes was the messenger of all gods, so that was Paul’s “unofficial” title.

What lesson can we get? Even today, Jesus is made a captive of man’s presuppositions – they do not REALLY understand Christ.

What they think, what they want him to be like, they create him as such.

  • Long ago, in the room in the inn in Bethlehem, there was no room –
    • but today, we have mansions, but no room. To many people, just is just a hero, a teacher, a priest, a culture, but not the Lord of their lives.
  • When Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly on Palm Sunday, so many people were delirious shouting “Hosannah! The King to come!”
    • But when Jesus spoke of his coming death, they became full because this did not fit their preconceived notion about him. Only days later, the SAME crowd shouted “crucify him!”

This is the same in this adulterous, unbelieving world today.

  • Yes, almost everyone will receive Christ as the greatest man who ever lived – he is the supreme psychologist of history – the most important man of all time. He is safe, and soft, and mild, and gentle.
    • But they reject him as personal Savior, Lord, God.

How about us today? We Christians often wear blinders as we read the Bible. We only see what we seek. We find our own preconceived ideas.

It is only with God’s help and the illuminating power of the HS that we can see the truth.

Another thing we can get from this attitude: (this is a basic weakness in our attitude): We often exalt the messenger instead of the message itself.

Check yourself, when you receive the sermon every Sunday, do you receive the messenger or the Message? This is a serious and important point.

We have a tendency to make human beings (rather than God) our security. We have a tendency to have our own Christian pantheism. Yes, we “know” God hates idol worship the most and we “try” to go away from idols. But we can also have “Christian idols.” So with God’s help, we must examine our hearts to see:

WHOM am I worshiping?

Are we worshiping ourselves? Our favorite Internet preacher? A Christian author? Entertainer? Or do you worship and serve Christ himself?

In the next response, P&B make it very clear whom we should serve.

How about this? If you do something great in public and the people exalt you and honor you, what attitude should you have?

3. Apostles’ response to the crowd

v 14-18

“14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they *tore their clothes*[expression of repentance, sorrow, anger] and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15 “Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” 18 Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them. “

If somebody glorifies you, tear your clothes and run away. ….

Yes, we must desire that one day God will glorify us – this is our final hope – that we share in the glory of Christ. But we should reject any kind of glory in this world from human beings.

What a great temptation this must have been for them – even Satan knew it.

How easy it would be to accept this kind of worship. They could rationalize it by saying, “Well, OK, we will accommodate them and THEN point them to the true God.” They could say, “We will use this honor to teach them the truth.” But this is not the way of God.

It is to their credit that they did not receive any kind of glory from men. They boldly told them that the gods of this area were nothing. “All kinds of gods made by men are nothing / worthless.” They cannot speak, hear, see, – they are just ideas out of man’s head.

Paul challenged them: “Turn away from your fake gods to the TRUE God.”

This is true / basic / fundamental repentance that should happen once for all in our lives.

This God is the Living God. Do you believe in a living or dead god? Living, Sustaining, Supporting, Forgiving, Self-revealing God.

Also we should follow and worship this God. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

4. Mixed reactions

v. 19-20

“19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.”

They moved to the next small city the next day.

P&B tried to calm the crowd, but some trouble-making Jews came from Iconium and Pisidia Antioch to stir up the crowd.

  • At Antioch, they expelled P&B.
  • At Iconium, they TRIED to stone P&B, so they fled.
  • Now, in Lystra, maybe the same people came and DID stone Paul.

They thought he was dead (so he was almost dead – he was not a pretender). When they realized what they had done, they were afraid. Iconium was a Roman colony, and Lystra was an outpost. But stoning a Roman citizen (Paul) without trial was terribly illegal. They were afraid, thought he was dead, and they dragged his half-dead body out of the city and threw it away in order to escape the consequences of their riot.

A stoning is a terrible, bloody thing. Have you ever been stoned?

Jesus was crucified. This is a historical fact. Jesus was crucified to give us eternal life. Have you ever received even a single stone for Jesus Christ?

“Jesus was crucified for me. Have I ever been stoned for Jesus?”

Maybe at this time, Paul’s mind flashed back to the stoning of Stephen. At that time, Paul was there, approving of the stoning of Stephen.

In this case, they did the same to Paul. Paul was lying in a lonely place with blood, dust, dirt, his clothes torn, he was motionless.

At this time, the Christians came and stood around him, likely crying, weeping, praying. “How can we give him a funeral, a burial?” But suddenly, one eye “popped” open and he said, “It’s alright.” They said, “Paul, how are you?” “Fine, thank you. And you?” And he got up.

When he came to his senses, the FIRST THING he did was go right back into the city in which we was almost murdered. What bravery! What an act! This much pain and blood must have been quite a spectacle. This was more effective than 1,000 sermons. No one could stop P&B from preaching about Christ – because they KNEW that Jesus died “for me.”

  • Do you have this kind of courage?
  • Do you have bravery to preach the gospel?
  • Do you have courage to share the gospel message?

Today, we need this kind of courage and bravery.

  • Courage = “not the absence of fear, but the ability to be VERY afraid, and still do the right and good thing anyway”
  • Courage and “fearlessness” are not synonyms
  • Courage = doing the right thing in spite of GREAT fear

Even Christ encourages us to “be courageous” – “You will have troubles of many kinds, but take heart! I have overcome the world!”

OT and NT, God encourages us to be “strong and courageous.” (Joshua in the OT)

Be a Christian of Courage.

Challenge and encourage yourself.

We need this kind of courage in this world.

Remember Jesus was historically, truly crucified – have you ever received a stone for him?

This is our big blessing, responsibility.

God bless us. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Let’s pray.

  • Nov 04 / 2018
  • Comments Off on Enjoy Eternal Life Now & Here! (Acts 13:42-52)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Enjoy Eternal Life Now & Here! (Acts 13:42-52)

Download Notes in a .MD file

Enjoy Eternal Life Now & Here!

Acts 13:42-52 (Pastor Heo)

13:42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying.

46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:

” ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,

that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ “

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.

49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Chp 13 & 14 are one package = they cover the First Missionary Journey of Paul & Barnabas. Chp 13 = the first half.

In chp 13, P&B&(John Mark) started from Antioch church in Syria, sailed to Cyprus – their first mission field. The began in the east end and went to the west end (Salamos -> Pathos) – like from NYC to LA if it were the US.

From the west end, they sailed to Perga in Pamphylia. There, John Mark left them, but the other two continued on to the other Antioch. Then, Paul preached (last week) and his sermon is the same as my sermon:

  1. Jesus died for our sins
  2. On the third day, he rose again for our justification
  3. He is alive today and sitting in heaven on the right hand of God and interceding for us
  4. The justification of sins (declaration of righteousness) is based entirely on the death and resurrection of Jesus

Today’s sermon = the response of the people to this message.

Also today, we are showing our reaction / response to the Word of God.

v. 42-45

“42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying.”

This is very interesting:

Before the same Word of God:

  • some are filled with jealousy
  • others are filled with joy in the HS

When they heard this sermon of Paul, the people wanted to hear more. So the news spread throughout the whole city of Antioch in Pisidia. So, on the next Sabbath, almost the WHOLE city gathered to hear the Word of God – most of them were Gentiles.

So the Jews were filled with jealousy.


Jealousy, you know, is a dangerous sin – it can consist of one or more emotions: helplessness, spite, rivalry, disgust, etc… It is a consuming desire for the other person to be a loser / failure / unhappy “like me.”

When I’m jealous of somebody, look at myself – I’m already a failure, miserable, and ruined. Jealousy is one of the strong weapons that Satan is using to destroy our Christian character.

Ask yourself, when you see SOMEONE ELSE benefiting, or winning, or succeeding, where I cannot, can I rejoice with them?

Actually, jealousy is a more common reaction – but how tragic this is when our emotions cause us to stop God’s work. So, IF that person is impacting someone’s life for Christ, REJOICE! no matter who is in the spotlight.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or in vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

“I’m free from jealousy ~ I’m free from envy~”

Light & Life

v. 46-48

“46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of **eternal life**, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:

” ‘I have made you a **light** for the Gentiles,

that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ “

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were *appointed* for **eternal life** believed.”

Keywords are “eternal life” and “light”

“Appointed” is a military word – chosen, arranged, predestined (theologically)

  • v. 46: They reject eternal life because they do not like it
  • v. 48: They receive eternal life because they were chosen / ordained / elected for eternal life

This means:

  • If we are saved, we are saved because **GOD** elected us before the Creation of the world.
  • But, if not, then it is because **WE** reject the grace of God.

This is a grand mystery in Christianity.

God’s logic is not the same as man’s, it is higher.

Isaiah 59:5 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, my thoughts are higher than yours.”

Yes, we must believe in predestination – we believe in the sovereign will of God.

Romans 8:30 “Those he knew, he predestined; those he predestined, he called; those he called, he justified; those he justified, he glorified.”

“God knew us before the Creation of the world… in his love, he predestined us to be called children of God.”

Eph 2:8-9 “It is by grace you have been saved… not by works, this is the gift of God, so that nobody can boast of his salvation.”

But, nowhere does it say that God predestined anybody to be destroyed. Rather, he wants ALL men to be saved and come to the knowledge of God. He does not want ANYONE to perish. He is not happy with the destruction of any sinner.

Yes, we must believe the doctrine of predestination – but we must also know that this doctrine is ONLY applied to the “elect” – only to the saved.

God’s logic is beyond human logic.

Human logic:

  • There are two sides to every coin:
    • if this, then that;
    • if not this, then not that

But God’s logic is NOT limited to two sides of a coin.

Now about “eternal life.” Let me make it more clear. What is it? What are its characteristics? How can we get it? How can we know we’ve got it?

Eternal life: The gift of God

Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This means, this life is a gift of God. Also, this gift is in contrast to death that is the natural result of sin. This gift comes only through Jesus Christ. This gift comes only to those who believe in Christ – the Resurrection and the Life. “I am the Resurrection and the Life, he who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”

Eternal life = perpetual life – with no end.

But also, we must understand that life in Hell has NO END. There is no finish to it.

But, it is a mistake to understand this “Eternal life” as an unending sequence of years.

Greek “eternal life”: aionia zoi (αιώνια ζωή)

Eternal life is independent of time – it can function beyond the boundaries of time as well as within the boundaries of time. Therefore, eternal life is something we Christians experience NOW! Now and here!

Now and here!

We receive eternal life AS SOON AS we believe in Christ!

John 3:36 “Whoever believes in Jesus Christ *has* eternal life.”

John 5:24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my Word and believes in him who sent me *has* eternal life – he *has* crossed over from death to life.” (Present perfect tense)

John 6:47? “Truly, he who believes *has* everlasting life.” (present tense)

The focus of eternal life is NOT on our future – but on our CURRENT standing in Jesus Christ. This pertains to the present.

Why? Because the purpose of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and glorification was to provide eternal life to human beings. The Bible definitely mentions this as in the person of Jesus Christ.

John 17:3 “This is eternal life, to know God, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he sent.”

Eternal life = knowledge

There is no knowledge of God without the Son. He came as the visual revelation of the invisible God.

Jesus says, “He who sees me, sees God.”

It is through Jesus that God reveals himself to the elect.

Another important point:

This eternal life (knowledge about God and the Son) is relational knowledge – this is not just an intelligence briefing.

On the final judgment day, there will be some who claim to have followed Christ – but never had any relationship with him. To those false claimers, he will say, “I never knew you! Away from me!”

This experiential, relational knowledge of Christ = so important. This is why it was Paul’s FINAL goal.

Of course, Paul knew Christ more than me, more than you, but this was still his ultimate goal.

Phil 3:10-11 “10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”

This is good news (gospel) – Jesus died for our sins and rose for our justification. Believe and accept this good news!

This is good news!

Imagine, if good news is very difficult, many people could not understand it. But this news is good for ALL people – short, simple, easy to understand. Old, young, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, all can understand.

“If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

1 John 5:10-11 “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life and this life is in his son. He who has the Son, has life; he who does not have the Son of God, does not have life.”

v. 47

“47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ” ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ” “

If you have eternal life, then you are the light of the world.

“A city on a hill cannot be hidden; nor can a lamp be hidden – rather it is put on a stand. Therefore, let your light SHINE before men.”

“You are a chosen people; a royal priesthood; a holy nation; a people belonging to God so that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light.”

v. 49-52

“49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”

The Word of God is like seed – it is scattered and spread.

Our hearts that receive it are like soil – the earth that receives it.

The seed is always the same, but the field is often different.

Four kinds of fields

There are 4 kinds of fields that Jesus illustrated:

  1. Hard field – birds come and eat the seed away
  2. Rocky field – seed can’t take root
  3. Thorny field – seed takes root, but the thorns choke it to death
  4. Good field – seed takes root and can produce a harvest of 100 times that which was planted

Which field is your heart?

In the time of Jesus, in the time of Paul, this seed is spreading – the same seed – but the fields are all different.

Also, in Antioch here, the same word, the same seed, was preached by Paul – but the reception was so different.

  • one group received it with joy
  • the other group rejected it, persecuted them, and expelled them from the region

Remember, P&B were set apart by the HS, sent by the HS, filled with the HS, but they encountered hardships, sufferings, persecution (v. 50). Yes, even those set apart, sent, filled with the HS, can encounter these hardships. Why? Because they preach the gospel.

Some Christians may say, “There was only persecution at that time – but not in Korea, in America, there isn’t that kind of thing any longer.”

No. Haha – have you ever TRIED?

Preaching the gospel = persecution (literally like two sides of the same coin)

Jesus, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of me – rejoice and be glad because great will be your reward in heaven.”

The last verse: “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the HS.”

Imagine – if you give money, clothes, etc, things the people want, they will not persecute you. Only preaching the gospel = followed by persecution.

But, at the same time:

Preaching the gospel = great joy (like a three-sided coin)

Preach = persecution = joy

Persecution is overcome by the joy.

You know, Jesus tasted death to give us eternal life. If you believe this, why are you not willing to taste a SMALL suffering for his glory, for the benefit of others?

If we really believe that Jesus tasted death to give us eternal life, we should preach the gospel.

If you are children of God, you are coheirs with Christ. If you share in his sufferings, you share in his glory. But our present sufferings are incomparable with the glory that is to be revealed. The best is yet to come!

The best is yet to come!

The best is coming soon!

God bless us, let’s pray.

  • Aug 27 / 2017
  • Comments Off on No Condemnation in Christ! (Romans 8:1-4)
Pastor Heo, Romans: The Righteousness of God, Sermons

No Condemnation in Christ! (Romans 8:1-4)


Download Notes in a .MD file

No Condemnation in Christ!

Romans 8:1-4 (Pastor Heo)

1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8 is one of the greatest chapters in the Bible. This gives the definition of Christian freedom. We have 4 spiritual freedoms we can enjoy because of our union with Christ through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It emphasizes “in Christ”.

  • Christ (x15)
  • Holy Spirit (x19)

v. 1 “No condemnation in Christ…”

This is the FIRST freedom in Christ. Freedom from judgment (no condemnation).

Gal 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. So do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

2 Cor 3:17 “Where the HS is, there is freedom.”

John 3 “The wind blows wherever it pleases. We hear its sound, but do not know where it comes from nor where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

The HS is a spirit of light and liberty.

No condemnation (in Christ).

  • But there IS condemnation outside Christ.
  • It also does not say, “no trials, temptations, discipline, problems, sufferings, etc.”

What son is not disciplined by his father?

Even Christians make mistakes and sin.

  1. Abraham lied about his wife.
  2. David committed adultery and murder.
  3. Peter was an attempted murderer.

So, they suffered consequences for their sins. But they did not suffer CONDEMNATION.

What is this meaning? “No condemnation.”

  • This means freedom from judgment.
  • Practically: Assurance of Salvation

This is essential for the victorious Christian life. So, today, I want to share this essential, basic, fundamental topic:

Assurance of Salvation.

This means freedom from judgment.

As a Christian, we must be very clear in this area.

Are you sure you are saved?

Even today, to our sadness, many Christians do not know they are saved. They are bent over by the world, rather than being a “shouting” Christian, they are “doubting.”

I hope you can make it clear to this answer. What is your answer to this basic question? “Are you saved?” What is your answer? No? Maybe? I hope so. Let me see. I’ll try. Maybe later. Or, “YES!”

To this basic question, we must be able to say immediately and whole-heartedly “YES!” Can you?

There are many different doctrines between the Roman Catholic church and the Protestant church (ours). Honestly speaking, I don’t want to criticize others, but I want to say FACTS so that we are not confused.

Basic position:

RC: “We don’t really know if we’re saved or not.” Yes, salvation belongs to God alone – our salvation is at the mercy of God – so only God knows if I’m saved or not. So how can a man, even me, say “I’m saved.” So, my whole mission in life is to do my best and wait and see – if I’m saved or not – when I DIE.

This seems outwardly very humble. That the Assurance of Salvation is prideful. BUT, the truth is the opposite. Their position is a big misunderstanding of the Bible’s teaching and God’s heart.

In a father-son relationship (father-child).

Imagine, there is a human, blood father, blood son. The son says, “I hope I’m your son, but I’m not sure. Only you know. I didn’t see you when I was born. Only you know. I’m not sure. But I guess so. I think so.”

At this attitude, what does the father say? “Oh! You are so humble!” No! The father will be so sad, disappointed, angry with this attitude.

God is our loving, gracious, merciful father, so he wants/desires us (who believe in Christ) to KNOW that we are saved and his loving children.

1 John 5:13 “I write these things to you who believe in the name of Jesus Christ – so that you may KNOW that you are children of God.”

Also, at the same time, it is possible to be saved and DOUBT it. Is this good or bad? Doubt is a spiritual sickness (disease).

Doubt is a spiritual sickness. So doubt is to our spirit what pain is to our bodies. This is a warning / signal that something is wrong.

  • Pain means: something is wrong with your body.
  • Doubt means: something is wrong with your spirit.

We may doubt from time to time, but it is a problem we must overcome and solve.

So, HOW can we have Assurance of Salvation? What is the basis / ground on which we can enjoy this Assurance of Salvation?

Assurance of Salvation

Let me say three things on basic grounds that we can have this Assurance.

#1: Based on the WORK of Jesus Christ

(not my work/merit/performance/sacrifice/ministry)

v. 1 “1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,”

Yes, sometimes, we FEEL condemned because Satan tells us or our own conscience reminds us as well – or our non-Christian friends remind us of our past, inconsistencies, personal dysfunctions, etc. Sometimes, the perfection of the Law show us how imperfect we are. Also, sometimes, our comparison with others makes us feel inadequate.

“IN Christ” = we are a member of Christ and his body of believers.

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my voice and believes in me is saved… there is no condemnation…” (Jesus)

Acts 4:12 “There is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 3:17 “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

In the matter of salvation, we must look to Jesus Christ – and what he has done for us. We must focus on only Jesus, not our own selves/ministries/etc.

If we have Assurance of Salvation because of our OWN efforts, it is a double fault.

“Fix your eyes on Jesus Christ, who is the author and perfector of our faith.” (Hebrews?)

I’m a full-time minister – but the truth – as long as I look at my OWN works for God, I can never have Assurance of Salvation.

So, if you are asked “Do you have Assurance of Salvation?”, you must immediately look to… Jesus Christ.

AoS (Assurance of Salvation) based on the WORK of Jesus Christ.

#2: Based on the WITNESS of the Holy Spirit

v. 2 “2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

Do you receive the witness of man? Man is not perfect, right? We receive the witness of man. If we receive this, why don’t we receive (accept) the witness of the HS – who is righteous and holy all the time.

Do you know how often we receive and accept the witness of man?

  1. At the restaurant, we don’t check if the food is cooked well and not poisoned. We put our faith in the man who cooks it. This is receiving the witness of man.
  2. At the hospital, we see a doctor who we don’t personally know, and he gives us a prescription we cannot read, pronounce, understand. We give it to the pharmacist whom we do not know personally and receive medicine – but don’t check that it’s correct – and take the medicine. Why? We receive this witness of man without doubt.

You know, man is not perfect, sometimes, there is a mistake or falsehood in the witness of man. Yet, we still receive this witness of man in our daily lives. But then, WHY we do not receive the witness of the HS – who is fully God and perfect all the time?

The witness of the HS: “Jesus died for you. If you believe, you are saved, a child of God.”

Romans 8:16 “The HS himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.”

“When the Counselor (HS) comes who I will send to you from the Father, he will testify about me (Jesus Christ).”

Romans 8:26 “Even the HS intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” This is so we may have Assurance of Salvation.

That’s why DENIAL of the witness of the HS is the unforgivable sin.

Imagine, even though we receive the witness of man – imperfect – why do we not receive the witness of the HS – perfect? This is the unforgivable sin.

The HS first witnesses TO us, then witnesses IN us. Do you have this witness in yourself that you are a child of God.

  1. Based on the WORK of Christ
  2. Based on the WITNESS of the HS
  3. Based on the WORD of God

#3: Based on the Word of God

v. 3 “3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so [God] condemned sin in [sinful man],”

Yes, God did ALL things necessary for our salvation. Jesus did not come as an angel, nor as a sinful man – like you and me. But rather, he came in the LIKENESS of man – so that he bore our sins in his body on the tree.

God is just/righteous. Because of this, sin must be punished. Debt must be paid because God is righteous. And “the wages of sin is death.”

  • Yes, the sin/debt must be paid.
  • Another principle = the prohibition against “double jeopardy” – can’t be tried twice for the same crime. Once paid, always paid. (cannot be punished twice for the same crime)
  1. One crime, one punishment.
  2. Two crimes, two punishments.
  • But, you cannot pay the price once and be forced to pay it again.

If I break the window – and it is $1 trillion – I cannot pay this price. Suppose somebody (rich) pays this price for me. Actually, I did not pay, but the result is the same as if I paid – so I don’t need to pay the price again.

Like this, my sin was punished IN Christ – paid completely, perfectly, once for all.

2 Cor 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us…”

1 Peter 2 “Jesus bore our sins in his body on the tree… by his wounds we have been healed.”

3. Based on the WORD of God

John 1:12 “To those who received him, believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

Romans 9 “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

The Bible (Word of God) is the official, objective document authorized, notarized, signed, sealed, delivered by God as our spiritual birth certificate.

Remember: if you need to prove your birth, go to the government office, and get the notarized document. Like this, the Word of God is our spiritual birth certificate (notarized).

  • To doubt the Word of God = to make God a liar.
  • To doubt the Word of God = not to trust God.
  • To doubt the Word of God = not to believe in God / Jesus.

We can have AoS based on:

  1. Work of Christ
  2. Witness of the Spirit
  3. Word of God

This is the fruit / evidence of those who have AoS.

v. 4 “4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

The changed and changing life is natural and essential, not FOR salvation, but AFTER salvation. Like this, growth is essential not FOR physical birth, but AFTER birth.

AoS is a gift of God.

2 Cor 5 “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new Creation, the old has gone, the new has come.”

My challenge:

I do not know who has AoS among us, who doubts, but this is my challenge as a conclusion.

If you are struggling with these questions of doubt (unsure about your salvation) – please pray similarly:

“Father God, I’m not sure if I’m your child. But I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sin, rose from the dead, offering eternal life. I accept Christ as my personal Savior and Lord. Thank you for accepting me and giving me eternal life. Please, by the power of the HS, enable me to have AoS.”

Because AoS is essential for victorious life in this world, God wants us to have AoS.

If you HAVE AoS, God is calling you to help others have this same kind of AoS. This is the mission God is calling you to in this world. This is a double-blessing. (Blessing from God, so you may be a blessing to others.)

Lastly: Remember, the Word of God is the official, objective, document, signed, sealed, delivered by God as our spiritual birth certificate. Do you have this?

Let’s pray.

  • Apr 09 / 2017
  • Comments Off on Five Rhetorical Questions (Romans 3:1-9)
Pastor Heo, Romans: The Righteousness of God, Sermons

Five Rhetorical Questions (Romans 3:1-9)

Download Notes in a .MD file

Five Rhetorical Questions

Romans 3:1-9 (Pastor Heo)

God’s Faithfulness

3:1 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? 2 Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God. 3 What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? 4 Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.” 5 But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) 6 Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? 7 Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” 8 Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!

No One Is Righteous

9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that *Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin.*

Last Sunday, we saw in the last part “A man is not a Jew if he is merely one outwardly; a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly.” This means “true Jewishness is not a matter of physical reality, but one’s relationship with God.” This is the same for Christianity.

True Christianity is not a matter of outward membership with any one church, but with inward, daily relationship with Jesus Christ.

God looks at our hearts and our actions (which come out of our hearts).

Chp 3:1-9, Paul continues to use a diatrophy – to illustrate his point. Now, he poses rhetorical questions to reflect on his point.

Here are the five questions and answers. (These are very practical – even today, many people question and challenge these.)

v. 1-2

#1 What advantage in being a Jew / circumcised?

A: Much in every way. They have the very Words of God.

No question, in history, in his goodness, God has blessed the Jews much spiritually and physically (The Promised Land, the Word of God – to Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Samuel, etc.)

Also, even the Promised Messiah, Jesus who takes the sin of the world came into this world in the appearance of a Jewish man (not Korean). Also, Jesus’ 12 disciples were all Jewish men.

The OT is the Word of God. Also, humanly speaking, the OT is the history of Israel. This advantage of having the very Word of God = duty / responsibility – to share this Word of God with other peoples and nations to return them to God and be reconciled with God (but they failed).

For us:

What advantage in being a Christian?

Much! We have been entrusted with the very Word of God (last Sunday, we studied the name and title “Christian” – the most beautiful and influential name/title in this world) – this shows what our identity, nature, standing is in this world. We are not followers, but leaders. We are not conformers, but transformers. So, we have so many advantages and privileges so there are 2 things we must remember and practice:

  1. This must not make us proud and arrogant but humble (God did not give his Word to the strong and powerful in the world, but to a small, weak tribal nation – to show his greatness and make all men humble)
    1. “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy people, a people belonging to God – so that you may declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his glorious light.” (Peter)
    2. Also “God chose the lowly, despised, weak to nullify the things that are strong – so that no one may boast before God.”
  2. We are chosen, saved, to SHARE this salvation with others. (Paul) “When I preach, I cannot boast. I am compelled to preach the gospel.”

Do you have the Word of God? If you have this Word, how do you use this very Word of God in your practical life?

This is a big privilege and challenge and responsibility.

Next questions show a BIG contrast between men’s attributes and God’s attributes.

v. 3

#2 What if some are unfaithful? Will this nullify God’s faithfulness?

A: Not at all!

By nature, all human beings are faithless (unfaithful). Only God is faithful.

  • This unfaithfulness of man cannot nullify the faithfulness of God – rather it ENHANCES the faithfulness of God.
  • The faithlessness of man cannot be justified though it enhances God’s faithfulness.

What is God’s faithfulness? God will always do what he says / promises.

This verse referenced here is from Numbers “let every man be a liar.” also “God is not a man that he would lie. Does God promise and not fulfill?” Also “because of the Lord’s great love, compassions that never fail, we are not consumed.”

  • Great is his faithfulness.
  • Great is God’s faithfulness.

This is our only hope. We can worship, exalt, praise him simply because his faithfulness is great. This is the central theme of the spiritual growth of the church.

We must remember all the time that our first, basic faith was God’s loving faithfulness. “God shows his own love for us in this that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

First contrast:

Man’s unfaithfulness vs. God’s faithfulness

v. 5-6

#3 If our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, is God unjust to judge us?

A: Certainly not! If so, how could God judge the world?

Just like man’s faithlessness, by nature, man is unjust, unfair, unrighteous. Only God is righteous, just, and fair. Also, this of man cannot nullify that of God. Rather it (also) enhances that of God.

So, what is the righteousness of God? This means God always acts in accordance with what is right. At the same time, he himself is the final standard of what is right.

God himself is right, just, and he is the initial and final standard of what is right.

God is not right because he is doing something right, BUT whatever God is doing is right, because he is always right – and is the standard of what is right.

In the Bible, the righteousness of God is revealed in 5 areas:

  1. punishing the wicked
  2. rewarding the faithful
  3. rewarding / vindicating his people against evil
  4. forgiving the penitent for their sins

Our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly. How so?

5 ways:

  1. Our awareness of sin causes us to repent – resulting in salvation
  2. Our repeated failures – results in a new consciousness of sin
  3. Our deepened understanding of sin – results in confirmation of truth that victory and spiritual growth come only from God
  4. God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9) – this is a big blessing to us – it becomes a big part of our testimony to others (we can share this if we experience God’s forgiveness)
  5. In the light of God’s righteousness, our unrighteousness makes us humble and dependent on God’s forgiveness – there is no hope without this


Man’s unrighteousness vs. God’s righteousness

v. 7-8

#4 If my falseness increases God’s truthfulness, why am I still condemned?

Q: Do evil that good may result? Can you say this?

A: Their condemnation is deserved.

By nature, all humans are false, God only is true. This is the big and final contrast between God and man.

Man’s falsehood does not nullify God’s truthfulness. But also this falsehood cannot be justified just because it enhances the truthfulness of God.

What is the truthfulness of God? He is True, and the source of all truth, and the final standard of all truth (his Word, etc all conform to eternity).

We must not say:

God is true because he is doing something true, rather, whatever God is doing is true because God himself is True. He is the initial and final standard of truth.

Jesus also says, “I am the Truth” – so outside Christ, nothing True can be found. Outside Christ, anything truthful, righteous, faithful cannot exist. Only in Christ, truth, righteousness, and faithfulness can be found.


Man’s falsehood vs. God’s truthfulness

v. 9

#5 Conclusion: Are we any better?

A: Not at all. Jews and Gentiles are all under the power of sin.

Are you saved? When we were saved, we were sinners. We were not saved because we were better, but we were saved by his own grace through our faith in Christ.

Thus, even though we are Christians, with many advantages and privileges, we are not “better.” We are all still sinners. What is your attitude toward sin? If you are truly born again, you must be serious in your attitude against sin.

Yes, we are all under sin, but if we are all born again Christians, by his grace and mercy and love, what should our attitude be against sin?

  • Because Satan came into this world to tempt us and challenge us to sin.
  • But Jesus came into the world to destroy the works of Satan (remove sin).

Satan always whispers (“If you feel like this….yes”) –

Satan says, “Yes, we’re all sinners, this is totally normal, don’t worry about this, keep in touch with the culture around you – you will get more experience and lessons from sin – you will experience more grace from God.”

Jesus says, “I came into this world to destroy the works of the devil and remove sin.”

God loves sinners, but hates sin.

God is too holy to be friends with sin. This is the challenge to us in this final conclusion.

Next study in Romans: “There is no one righteous, not even one – for all have fallen short of the glory of God. The final remedy for sin can only be found in Jesus Christ.”

The remedy = to not believe in Jesus and remain faithful, righteous, or truthful = an absolute impossibility, a contradiction.

The works of God for us to do =

  1. to believe in Christ,
  2. to trust in him,
  3. and to obey him (follow him).
  • A Christian is a follower of Christ.
  • Christians are not followers of this world, but followers of Christ.

Let’s pray.

  • Aug 16 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Living in the Truth (John 8:31-32)
Guest Speaker, Sermons

Living in the Truth (John 8:31-32)



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Living in the Truth

John 8:31-32 (Missionary Chung Woo Chun)

The Children of Abraham

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Today’s message is presented by a Korean missionary to Cambodia – living with his daughter and wife: Chung Woo Chun

I regret accepting the offer of Pastor Heo to preach here in English – I’m nervous. I’m a Korean missionary to Cambodia – 11 years. Over there, I speak in Cambodian language except when I talk to my family in Korean. For the past 10 years, I didn’t even preach once in English. Years ago, I did ONE sermon in English during my missionary training in the Philippines. Yet, I respect Pastor Heo, so I accepted his offering. Also, I’m here to preach the Word of God, not show my proficiency in English. So, even if my English is not perfect, please be generous to me – take what you can from my preaching.

I want to have a special song through my daughter (she may be more trembling than me). The name of the song is “Father God on the Mountain” – by Linda (a black person) I was impressed by her singing so I had my daughter learn this. I lived in the countryside for 10 years, so I’ve never had a chance to send my daughter to an international nor English school (too far, too expensive) – so I sent her to public school and they taught her American pop songs – so I said, “You’d better sing gospel songs with the pop songs.”

She’s waiting for an “encore” but you didn’t say “encore…”

The title of my sermon is “Living in the Truth.”

On this planet, there are so many people living (7 billion) – I checked on my smartphone. If we divide them into two categories, there are “believers” and “non-believers.” But in the world – in the non-believers, there are also two groups “normal” and “below average”.

  1. Normal = normal attitude, citizenship, good manners, they don’t believe in Christ.
  2. Below average = the one next door in my apartment – from 9am he starts murmuring and shouting and talking loudly and shouting until 2-3am. Next door, we cannot sleep. Downstairs, there’s another one, talking to himself (I thought it was a phone call – but maybe he’s an alcoholic). Outside too, there was one drinking alot and singing Korean pop songs – until 3-4am. These people are mentally ill or disabled mentally or in their bodies.

You can also find this kind of two groups among politicians, businessmen, etc, in society. They are so WICKED. They make other people uncomfortable, unhappy, damaged, etc.

In Cambodia, 30 years ago, there was Polpot, a politician – an extreme communist. He made many people die – he killed many people – many people are still suffering from the traumas he made. (1 out of 4-5 people he killed – almost EVERY family has suffered from his policies – even now they suffer from traumas).

Even now, among our own businessmen and politicians, they make so many people unhappy – these are “below average.”

Yet, the “normal” people we often see at the park, or the foot of the mountain, wearing beautiful clothes, exercising, enjoying the group activities, folk songs, etc. Yet, they never know Jesus.

The third group is us. We are Christians. The Christians should live not by instinct or emotion or human thought and philosophy, but by the Word of God. That’s the kind of Christians we are.

When I go to the park, I can meet someone who is enjoying exercise. Among them, I can find “special” men – shut mouth, black glasses, square face and jaw, and exercising enthusiastically – “no one get in MY way! no room for others” – he’s just busy for himself. Outwardly, they look like they have no problems, yet, inside, they live by themselves, completely alone – not thinking about spiritual things, nor others, only “I’m busy.”

Yet, we are Christians. We must think first of : God, then of : others. 

The will to live – we must follow the Word of God. So, we must understand it thoroughly. Therefore I chose this passage.

Here in v. 31, the Bible says “to the Jews who had believed in him” – this also means “to the Christians who had believed in him” (us). Like us, they know Jesus is the Savior/Son of God. Jesus says to them, “if you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples.”

There are the two categories outside of Christ. Even inside the church there are two types of groups:

In the mission field:

  1. The crowd
  2. The disciples

When I go outside with simple medicine for parasites and colds. I go to give the gospel. I can meet the crowd easily (20, 30, 40 people). It’s so easy to meet them. But they are not disciples. They are the crowd.

  1. Crowd = they come to Jesus (or a missionary/Christian/etc) and take what they want for their physical demands and then they return to their sinful nature. They do not take responsibility nor take up their own cross for the glory of God. They just want to satisfy themselves and return to their “normal” lives.
  2. Disciples = they came to meet their physical demands in the beginning, yet as they listen to the Word of God, they become “Christians” more and more. Christians = followers of Christ/God. They have the mindset to take responsibility in their daily lives.

I baptized more than 300 people, but I think from them, my disciples only number 50 or less. 

So, actually, the work of a missionary is not easy. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit can a missionary do his mission. As the time goes, I really feel like the time is so difficult and I want to go back to Korea. Yet, I know the truth, “You do not work by your own power, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I know the Word, so I can continue in my mission. This is why we all must cling to the Word of God. This Word of God must be saturated in our bodies. The only way we can overcome the world is through the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.

When I observed my friends, pastors, who led their church successfully – the MOST successful pastors are those who TEACH the Word of God best. I taught as well, using instances from their daily lives to get them to understand more easily and then I teach and teach from the Word of God.

Everyone of us should be born again, but being born again is the work of the Holy Spirit. The role of the missionary/pastor/teacher is to TEACH the Bible – explain the Bible. So, we must be saturated by the Word of God and pray continuously and be indwelt by the power of the Holy Spirit.


In the church, 1 is a member of the crowd, 1 is a disciple. Why? What’s the reason to stay in the crowd? What’s the reason to transition to disciple?

Since Adam and Eve ate the fruit of Good and Evil, man was thrown out of the realm of God and into the realm of the world. We became accustomed to our own self-centered thoughts. Therefore, even though we may hear the truth of God, we do not want to give up our own self-centered thoughts.

Yet, someone overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit, he realized that he was a sinner, and he repented and got help from the power of the Holy Spirit, and he became a child of God.

I had the experience before coming to Korea, I made a trip to America (California) to see my cousin. She invited my family for 20 days and because I’m a pastor, I was interested in their lifestyles, their way of living. In 2 days in Disneyland, and CA, I found big differences (Cambodia vs. USA).

In only 2 days, I flew from Cambodia to USA from darkness to light. From death to life. Cambodian people may feel sorry for me, but that’s the truth.

  • Cambodian society = self-centered.
  • USA = more God-centered.

Yet, the USA is rapidly changing from believer to non-believer, yet from the beginning, the country was founded on the Word or God – the whole country/system was imbued with the Word of God.

  • In Cambodia, car first.
  • USA, human first.

I love Cambodia also, but in Cambodia, as we walk down the street, the driver almost kills us just walking down the street. There’s no respect for others.

In the USA, after 54 years, I finally saw, as I crossed the street, even from 5 meters away, the cars stopped… WOW. They respect the law of the nation AND respect others. Where are these good values from? From the Bible, I believe.

This is very interesting, and I learned a big lesson.

How about Korea? Sometimes cars, sometimes man (mostly cars…)

Why am I telling you this? Because one family, one country, one nation, ALL people, if they live by the Word of God, they live a God-centered life. That’s why their lives are different.

I’m a pastor and missionary and am pleased to be a Christian and am pleased to learn the truth (right from wrong) from the Word of God. That’s WHY I can lead not only myself, but also others to the light.

So the happiest time in my mission field is teaching the Bible, and then taking a shower, and then sitting down before the fan (시원해). It’s soooo hot over there….

The difference between Cambodia, Korea, and the USA I told you, but we also must live a God-centered life in our daily lives.

In order to be a disciple, we must DO one thing. ONE thing. Take up our cross that God gave us. 

Why be one member of the crowd? They listen to the Word of God a lot. They are a member of the crowd because they do not give up their selfishness in their daily lives.

My own mother, 86 years old, is getting weaker and weaker every year, I came back 1-2 times to check on her health. My 4 brothers should help take care of her in my place. My brothers and sisters say “Sorry, I cannot take care of our mother.” So I said, “Fine, let’s take her to Cambodia and take care of her there.”

One of my friends said, “Please, just entrust her to the silver hospital” but I refused because I love my mother.

Following Jesus Christ is the SAME. 

The one who loves Christ the most can take care of the cross Christ has given him. The one who loves Christ the most takes the cross before him.

The mission field is not stable. When the law of immigration is changed, when the politics change, you don’t know. When they want to drive us away, we do not know. But, I trust God, he will take care of us.

“God on the mountain is still God in the valley.”

Surely if God cares for us in our triumphs, he will care for us MORE in our tragedies.

Two weeks ago, I met a lady who wanted to be a missionary. I said, “Are you checking yourself, when you see a difficult thing, are you the kind of person who does it FASTEST? Faster than others?” The difficult thing, the complicated thing is NOT attractive, you don’t gain fame, you must lose your ego, you can be despised. Yet, can you do it? Are you the kind of person who sits in the living room while your mother washes dishes, or are you the kind of person who GETS UP and washes the dishes?

I’m not saying whether or not you’re qualified or not, but you need to check yourself. Many people romanticize “mission work” yet – you must become a BEGGAR. This is not a romantic thing. To help others live better lives, we must take on more difficulties. In the beginning, they do not know, yet it takes 7 years of teaching, giving, helping, planting, and then they eventually begin to realize the difference – what is right, what is wrong.

When I traveled to the USA, one of my disciples came to my house and gave me some money he prepared. I took it fast because I feared that he would take it back. I saw inside, $100 (this was 80% of his monthly salary). A normal missionary would give him it but, but I’m “evil” so I took it. I understood he invested in God, not in man (and actually, he took/borrowed a lot from me). I’m not the kind of person who believes in give-and-take. But I teach them offering, how to help them, how to live God-centered lives, how to live unselfish lives. Maybe when I return to Cambodia, I will repay him more, but you need to understand that through the Word of God, man can be changed.

I also used to be an alcoholic – I should be like the “below average” alcoholic singing pop songs from dawn til dusk. Yet, I learned from God, his Word changed me, and now I can lead not only myself, but also other people.

In the countryside, every morning, I used to teach for 2 hours because over there, monks also taught 2 hours (otherwise they would think it was less important than it is).


  1. Be free from all kinds of powers of darkness by believing in the Word of God. THEN, you can help to set others free.
  2. To help them be free, we must take up our cross. To listen and forget, listen and forget, doesn’t work. We must listen and DO – take up our cross daily and follow him.

Everyone of us is a missionary in our daily lives.

My mother is the first generation Christian. She suffered so much difficulty in her life. My uncle’s family used to worship the ancestors 12 times per year. Yet, now in the end of her life, by the plan of God, she is going to Cambodia with her son. This is a blessing I think. Go over there, and pray and be a successful missionary as well. That’s what she wants to do.

As my mother – also in our lives, like the waves of the ocean, constantly, difficulties come up. But we must overcome them.

1 John 5 “Who is he who overcomes the world? The one who believes that Jesus Christ is the son of God.”

In my living room, there is a maxim from the Word of God (Matthew 6:33 “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and then ALL these things will be added to you as well.”)

In my difficulties, I don’t always think of others, I concentrate on the will and kingdom of God – and God solves the problem.


Like to Word of God, let’s overcome the world by depending on and believing the Word of God.

Let’s pray.

  • Jun 07 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Foolish or Wise? (Matthew 25:1-13)
Matthew: The Book of Kingship, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Foolish or Wise? (Matthew 25:1-13)



Sermon Notes

Foolish or Wise?

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Matthew 25:1-13 (Pastor Heo)

The Parable of the Ten Virgins

1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 

6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ 

7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ 

9 ” ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. 

11 “Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ 12 “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’ 13“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.


We must be watchful, vigilant.

As we know, our Lord is the greatest story teller, this is one of the last stories he told before his crucifixion. In this chapter, he tells 3 stories:

  1. The 10 Virgins
  2. The Talents
  3. The Sheep and the Gold?

Jesus is COMING – this is certain. Surely, suddenly, unexpectedly, he will come. How is he coming?

  1. Bridegroom
  2. Lord and Master
  3. King and Judge

These three stories clarify further what it means to be vigilant and ready for his return.

The emphasis:

  1. Everyone is responsible for his OWN spiritual condition. How is your personal spiritual condition?
  2. The need to use WELL what God has entrusted us with – use your gifts and talents well for his kingdom.
  3. The importance of serving others in need.

No one parable by itself completely describes our preparation – each one presents one part of our preparation.

This is the first Parable – verse-by-verse.

This parable of the wedding shows the need for readiness. In that time, the wedding customs differed between different cities, but EVERY wedding included a ceremony of the bridegroom before the house of the bride.

Every wedding had a celebration and party after dark. The bride would be accompanied with lamps to the bridegroom’s house for this feast. In this parable, the virgins are unmarried bridesmaids. They were going out to receive the bridegroom who was coming to the bride’s house to join this procession back to his house for the wedding feast. All this happened after dark. At that time, there were no street lights, so lamps were important to light the way (torches). So, everybody was required to carry his/her own torch at that time. People without lamps were considered party crashers – uninvited guests.

5 were foolish, 5 were wise – are you foolish or wise?

  • Foolish = lamps but no oil = unprepared – if their lamps were going low, they could not feed the fire further
  • Wise = lamps + jars of oil = prepared – they could keep their lights on ALL night
  • Foolish = unprepared
  • Wise = prepared

In this case, it does not mean 1/2 of the world will be saved and half will not, it merely clarifies that there are TWO categories – believers in Christ (saved), or non-believers (lost)

v. 5-7

During the long wait, all the virgins became drowsy and fell asleep. But, this was not criticized because both the wise and foolish slept together. “Sleep” merely means they waited a LOOOOONG time – (yes, the Second Coming of Christ will be a LONGER wait than anyone expected). The difference is that one group has prepared, made preparations and the other group has not.

Suddenly, midnight, the cry! “He’s here!”

The torches were usually made with rags soaked in oil.

  • Foolish = realized that their torches were going to burn out and realized that they needed more oil to raise their lamps higher – they asked the wise
  • Wise = “No” they didn’t have enough to share – this is not selfishness, rather a simple realization that if they were to share, ALL torches would become weak and they wouldn’t have enough light for the wedding procession.

This suggestion to go to the dealer to buy oil was unusual. If there was a small village or town, the oil would be sold until midnight.

Jesus continued the story…

While the foolish were off preparing for his arrival, the bridegroom already came and the door was shut.

The central focus of this parable is: “and then the door was shut…”

Jesus point is: “to be late, not ready at the right time = to lose ALL, to miss ALL completely…”

Yes, they came later with much oil and said, “Lord, Lord!” but he said, “Truly, I say to you, ‘I don’t know you.’” Those who are outside will have no more opportunity to be let in. And you will not know the day nor the hour. So, his true followers must be ready and keep watch – because he will come when we least expect. Yes, he will delay longer than we wish or expect.

So, what lesson can we get? There are TWO meanings: Local, immediate – wide, universal.

  1. 1. Local, immediate meaning = directed against Israel. They were the chosen people of God, so their whole lives should have been preparing for Jesus’ first arrival – but they were totally unprepared and therefore shut out until today. The unpreparedness of Israel is the tragedy of the Jews until today.
  2. 2. Wide, universal meaning = TWO meanings

Universal meaning #1

1. We must remember there are certain things we cannot obtain/prepare at the last minute. Yes, it is TOO late for a student to prepare for an exam on the day of the exam. It is too late to obtain a skill or character trait if we already don’t possess it, when a certain task demands that from us. It is too late to be saved if we are not already saved when Jesus comes again or when we leave this world.

TOO LATE is the greatest tragedy. “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Coming of the Son of Man.” Up to the day Noah entered the ark, they never knew what would happen to them until the flood came to destroy them all – this is how it will be in the Second Coming of Jesus. Yes, he will come SO suddenly, quickly, in the blink of an eye that there will be NO CHANCE for last minute repenting/bargaining. So, we must ask TODAY to follow Christ – to serve him more diligently and sincerely.

Universal meaning #2

2. We must remember there are certain things that we cannot borrow/prepare at the last minute. Yes, we can borrow money from others, but not character. We can borrow information but not health. We can borrow ideas and knowledge but not a relationship with God. Our personal relationship with God must be OUR personal relationship with God – not someone else’s. No one can rely on anyone else.

Yes, we are one family in Christ so we can/must edify, build up, love and serve each other, but we can never lend or borrow our personal relationship with God for someone’s salvation.

Another point:

There are foolish and wise – but this does not say “the wise are sitting in church” or “the foolish are sitting outside the church” – actually, they are fully MIXED together.

They were virgins, bridesmaids, wearing a uniform, wanting to meet the bridegroom earnestly, sincerely – both wanted to go – both took their lamps. In these days, we may not be able to distinguish the foolish from the wise in the same church, the same place, doing the same thing.

There is only ONE (not two) difference between the foolish and the wise. This ONE difference makes ALL the difference:


Crucial point: do you have your oil in your lamps? Do you have oil in your lamps? Oil is invisible, lamp is visible. Oil is contents, lamp is container.

Oil may be many things, but according to Jesus’ teaching – OIL = the Holy Spirit + the Word of God. Without these it is impossible to have REAL salvation, REAL regeneration, REAL rebirth. (John 3? Nicodemus – “unless a man is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”)

Bible says, “No one can say ‘Jesus is my Lord’ except by the ministry and empowering of the Holy Spirit.”

Yes, only ONE material – OIL – makes ALL the difference. Outwardly, oil looks very simple – not complicated. Then, in oil there is every element needed to make fire burning continually. Yes, our faith, our belief and confession, “Jesus is my Savior and Lord and King” – this is short and simple – very easy to say right? But if we truly believe and confess from our hearts, in this one sentence (let’s say it together)

“Jesus is my Savior, Lord, King, and God”

In this one simple sentence there is ALL that is needed for our salvation, regeneration, and blessing in this life and the life to come.

Jesus “If anyone hears my Word and obeys it, he is a wise man who built his house upon the ROCK – the winds came and the rains beat down and the house stood. But anyone who hears my Word and does NOT obey it, is like a man who built his house on the sand – the winds came, the rains beat down and the house FELL with a terrible CRASH.”

Are you wise or foolish? Be watchful, waitful, careful. Jesus is coming all of a sudden in the blink of an eye. Are you ready to receive Jesus Christ? If we are not ready today, it may be too late.

Let’s pray.

  • Nov 02 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Listening and Doing (James 1:16-27)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Listening and Doing (James 1:16-27)



Sermon Notes

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Listening & Doing

James 1:16-27 (Pastor Brian)

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Listening and Doing

19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does. 26 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.


James was the half-bro of Jesus – didn’t believe in him at first, but after resurrection, became a Christian – believed in his brother as Lord and Savior, and became pastor of the church of Jerusalem. (Jude – half-brother also believed and wrote another letter in the Bible.)

James realizes that the Christians who are scattered abroad will be undergoing hardships and he’s writing this letter to encourage them. “Rejoice in various trials and temptations from without…” (We are fallen and living in a fallen world – but we’ve been revived and regenerated by the Word of God. Nevertheless, we are still living in the flesh and the sinful nature may yet rise up and mar our testimony.)

There will be trials from without – but if a person endures, they will be strengthened, mature in faith, build character, be lacking in nothing ( “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13 )

James is encouraging people to endure the trials from without.

Also, acknowledge where you fail from temptations from WITHIN. God doesn’t tempt, it’s not God’s fault you’ve sinned. Sin is a choice YOU made – you allow it to come into your mind and satisfy your flesh. This eventually leads to death. Get RID of those things. They MAR your testimony.

“Let the poor man rejoice in his high status – he’s raised with Christ to the high places. Let the rich man rejoice in his low status – he’s like a flower in the field – here today and gone tomorrow.” James 1

James also says we should “ask for wisdom – in faith – believing.”

Spurgeon – “faith comes” (by hearing) Romans

We must be DOERS of the Word, not HEARERS only. (Don’t just quote Scripture, Do what it says.)

Apply the Word in our lives – that’s the Challenge.

Neil Andersen – at the time he wrote the book “The Bondage Breaker” there were many pastors falling into the exact sins they were preaching against. Even if you’re preaching and teaching, don’t assume that you’re above sin. Even preachers aren’t FREE from sin and temptation. There is always (should be) growing and sometimes (groaning) as we grow.

“Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace.” – 18th century – Robert Robertson

“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Take my heart, Lord, take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above.”

Prone = we have a tendency to wander

Robert Robertson’s parent died when he was young, then he got into trouble as a teenager. They went to a fortune teller and gave her some alcohol to tell their fortune for free. He, 17, was told he would live to see his grandchildren and children – he thought “I better get my life fixed.”

He went to see George Whitfield preaching, and he was preaching on the point where Jesus said, “you brood of vipers!” – He and his friends had gone to heckle (make fun of the preacher) but this Scripture grabbed his heart and held him for 3 years afterward. He eventually wanted to become a pastor.

He wrote this hymn at age 23.

“Here I raise mine Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’m come.” – 1 Samuel the Israelites had beaten the Philistines. Dago toppled over in their own temple and showed that Jehovah was the victor. Later, Samuel raised this stone of “help” that God had been to his people – he’d given them victory over their enemies. And this was a reminder of their victory.

The interesting point is – this was the point of their first DEFEAT – and then they were granted victory there and Samuel raised the Ebenezer? stone as a memorial.

Hitherto the Lord has helped us – “until here the Lord has helped us.”

When we sing “Here I raise mine Ebenezer” = we are remembering that the Lord has helped us up to this point.

“Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it.” = Praise the Lord for Calvary – where the Lord was crucified for our sins. And we need to daily go BACK to it to remind ourselves of it (you know, humans are inherently forgetful.)

Urban legend?

Later on, Robert Robertson did fall away from the faith. He was Baptist, Methodist, then Unitarian (didn’t really believe Jesus was totally God and man).


  • Later on in the stagecoach, a lady was humming the hymn he’d written – and she started pressing him about it “Wow, this is a beautiful hymn, don’t you think?”
  • He: “Madam, I’m the unfortunate writer of those words, and I’d give a thousand worlds to have the joy I’d had at that point when I’d written them.”
  • She: “Don’t worry, the streams of mercy are still flowing.”

And he was stirred in his heart and gave himself back to Christ.

“Take my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”

And his words live on – they are words of life, of reality.

Recently – a pastor who’d fallen into sin said, “Sometimes we take a persona to church (a tie, a “happy family” – an IDEAL life – rather than the REALITY of who he/she really is).” It’s actually in LONELINESS that we see who we really are.

“Just as I am” – without any ideas of falsity – the Lord receives us.

I wanted to explain the hymn so that it will become more relevant to where we are and what we are doing.

Back to James.

James is encouraging Christians to live in the world IN the New Life that we’ve received by the Word of God. We become a kind of firstfruits of all that he’s created. To Nicodemus “You must be born again – born anew.”

“Must I go back and come forth again?”

No, no, without Christ and his grace and intervention for us, we are dead in our sins.

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

God is longsuffering, patient, kind, but he wants the similar Spirit to be manifest in our own lives. As Paul writes: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.” If these things are not evident, then we are bearing the fruit of the flesh: sexual sins, pride, strife, jealousy, anger, quick to speak, quick to anger.

You know, we can be in the Spirit one minute and the next BAM! out comes something we didn’t fully intend. Where did that come from? The flesh.

1 John 1:8-9 “If we say we have no sin, the truth is not in us… But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Neil Andersen: Bondage Breaker

Speaking of the San Andreas fault – if they get a small tremor – no problem. But if there is NO movement, uh oh, maybe “the BIG one” is coming…

Like this, if we confess our sins OFTEN – this is the course of life and reality and spiritual health. BUT, if there is a LONG period of silence, we are hiding sin, secret sin – and this may grow and culminate into an EXPLOSION of pain and trouble.

We must keep “up to date” with our confessions with the Lord. It’s like looking into a mirror. “I didn’t leave anything in there did I?” If you just LOOK and don’t CLEAN UP – what good is it?

Look in the Word of God and don’t apply it (to yourselves). Don’t just think of how it might apply to OTHERS. What about YOU??

“Lord, help ME get over this, help ME get rid of this.”

  • Sometimes it’s helpful to seek out a stronger Christian and confess and keep accountable to them.
  • Sometimes, when our spiritual joy is not where is should be, we should find a brother or sister in Christ to confide in and confess our sins to.

“Lay aside all that remains – the wickedness or naughtiness” – we can’t receive what the Bible promises if we remain in sin. If we think this is for someone else, and not just for ME, we are also not DOING the Word.

Jesus also said, “Deal RADICALLY with sin. If you right eye offends you, poke it out. If your right hand offends you, cut it off. It’s better to enter heaven mutilated than go to hell whole.”

(He meant this spiritually, not physically literally.)

Consider David (Psalm 51?) – Confession of his sin with Bathsheba before God.

David put Uriah – her husband – in the front lines of battle and had all the soldiers pull back so that he would be killed. Then he took her into his house – but the prophet Nathan? came and spoke to him.

“A rich man had tons of stuff, but stole the small lamb from his neighbor for a feast. You are that man.”

Psalm 32 = his ANGUISH over unconfessed sin.

“I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ and thou didst forgive my sin.”

David was forgiven, but not the same – not as bright as before.

3 aspects of sin:

  1. Missing the mark (Romans 3:23 – “all have fallen short of the glory of God” – we are all born that way and need the Spirit of God to be renewed)
  2. Transgressions (Presumptuous sin – willful, knowledgeable sin – you KNOW what you SHOULD do, but CHOOSE not to)
  3. Iniquity (deep roots – premeditated choice to CONTINUE in unrepentant sin)

Eventually, he recognized all three aspects of evil and confessed his sin.

He had to DO it, he had to HUMBLE himself before the Lord.

In conclusion:

Ravi Zaccharias

“A man was confined to a Communist prison in Europe around 20 years old. He was there for 50 years. Eventually, he was released in a wheelchair – and was speaking an ancient Hungarian tongue. He asked for a mirror – there were no mirrors in prison. The last time he’d seen himself, he was 20, now he was a shell of what he had once been at age 70.”

Is that like us sometimes?

We SEE the mirror of the Word, but we go away and forget the person we WERE reflected in the mirror to us.

Let’s let the Lord speak to our hearts now.

Let the Lord deal with one area of our hearts where we have failed, where we are prone to wander.

Quick to listen, slow to speak is what James recommends. Let’s be quick to listen to the Lord and slow to speak up in defense of ourselves.

The Lord wants to help, encourage us, and allow the streams of mercy to flow over us.

Let’s pray.

  • Sep 28 / 2014
  • Comments Off on You Have GREAT Faith! (Matthew 15:21-39)
Matthew: The Book of Kingship, Pastor Heo, Sermons

You Have GREAT Faith! (Matthew 15:21-39)



Sermon Notes

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You Have Great Faith

Matthew 15:21-39 (Pastor Heo)

The Faith of the Canaanite Woman

15:21-28pp — Mk 7:24-30

21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” 23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” 25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered,”Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand

15:29-31pp — Mk 7:31-37 15:32-39pp — Mk 8:1-10 15:32-39Ref — Mt 14:13-21

29 Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel. 32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.” 33 His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?” 34 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.” 35 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. 37 They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 38 The number of those who ate was four thousand, besides women and children. 39 After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.


The Bible is the Revealed Word of God.

Are you a Christian? A Believer? Do you believe? Have faith? We cannot talk about the importance of faith too much. Faith is foundational to the Christian’s creed and conduct.

We are saved, justified, sanctified, see the glory of God, please God, walk with God, are healed, experience miracles, make the impossible possible. The whole of our salvation including past, present, and future depends on faith.

In today’s story, a Canaanite (Gentile) woman came to Jesus and asked him to heal her daughter – he said nothing. The disciples encouraged him to send her away. He said, “I’ve come to the children of Israel” (and sternly) “it is not right to give the bread to the dogs” (Gentile dogs). She said, “Yes, Lord, I’m a dog, but even the dogs eat the crumbs from the table.” Jesus was amazed. She showed great perseverance. He didn’t say, “Wow! Great perseverance!” He said, “Wow! Great faith!”

Remember Matthew 8, the centurion:

He came and said, “Lord, my servant lies at home, paralyzed in great suffering, please heal him.” Jesus said, “OK, I’ll go.” He said, “No, no, no, no need to come, you’re very busy and important. Just say the word and he’ll be healed.” Jesus was surprised – great humility! But he said, “You have great faith! I have not found anyone else in Israel with such great faith!” And immediately his servant was healed.

Remember Mark 10, Bathemaeus:

He was a blind beggar, and he shouted from a distance, “Jesus! Son of David! Help me!” Many rebuked him, but he cried out more and more. Then Jesus called him and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “I want to SEE!” Wow! great passion/zeal/eagerness! Jesus said not, “Great zeal!” He said, “Great faith! Your faith has healed you!”

Do you have faith?

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Jesus saw and rewarded the same thing in each story: Faith. He is still looking for this today.

Matthew 18:18? “When I come to earth and see faith… Without faith it is impossible to please God.”

2 Corinthians “Examine yourselves to see whether or not you are in the faith. Don’t you know that Christ is in you? Unless you fail the test.”

Everyone has “faith” or “faiths” – and everyday, we ACT on it. We act according to what we believe. Faith cannot be separated from action – it is the demonstration of faith and faith is the driving force of action. For example, why are you sitting on the bench? You have faith it won’t fall down or collapse on you. We buy a box of milk without first checking inside the box to be sure it is milk – because we have “faith” that it’s actually milk. When we go to the restaurant and order food, the owner doesn’t ask “Do you have enough money?” They have FAITH that we do. Likewise, taxi drivers believe that we will pay at the end of our route.

Our whole lives are built on faith and the reliance on testimonies of others.

“Faith” matters less than “saving faith.”

Not all faith saves us. Even demons have faith. Even Satan believes there is one God. His faith makes him shudder. But his faith about God will never save him. Faith IN Jesus Christ alone is saving faith. Faith in anyone or anything else will never save.

  • Dictionary: faith and belief = the same
  • Bible: belief = thought; faith = heart

Faith puts belief into active action and connects possibilities with actualities.

Faith is ACTing on what we BELIEVE in.

  • Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is being sure of what we hope for…”
  • Hebrews 11:11 “By faith, Abraham… by faith Noah… by faith Joshua… by faith Samuel… “ and on and on.

What is the source of true faith?

2 things: God’s (divine) side

#1: God’s side

This is the work of GOD. This is a GIFT of God’s grace. Eph “It is by grace you have been saved through faith – not of yourselves…” Romans 12:3-4 “By the grace given to me, I say, do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought…”

Hebrews 12:2 “Jesus Christ is the author, perfector, and finisher of our faith.”

So, we have nothing to boast of, because faith is the GIFT of God.

BUT, #2, there is a human side.

Our faith grows greater and greater while we read the Bible.

  • The Word of God = the object of our faith.

Our faith in Christ grows stronger and stronger as we HEAR the word of God preached, Romans “Faith comes by HEARING…”

  • Jesus Christ = the object of our faith

Our faith also grows by prayer. This is the instrument in the development of our faith. One day, the disciples prayed, “Lord, increase our faith.” One day, a man with a demon possessed man came and said, “Help us please.” And Jesus said, “Everything is possible for him who believes.” He said, “Lord, I DO believe. Help my unbelief!”

  • Third, our faith grows through the PRACTICE of faith.

Do you have faith? Yes.

Do you… practice… your faith?

Jesus says (Matthew 25?) “He who has will be given MORE, but he who does NOT have, even what he has will be taken FROM him.”

That faith that is given to us as a gift from God can be increased through our own practice. So, if you have little faith, it’s your responsibility.

  • By faith, we can be saved and spend eternity in heaven with Christ.
  • By disbelief, we will be found in our sins and cast into hell forever.

If we have true faith, we have real peace and joy and assurance. The great question is not: what can I do? But how much can I believe in Jesus Christ?

May God bless us all that Jesus may say of us, “You have GREAT faith!” Do you think Jesus would say that of you?

v. 29-31

Last verse, “and they praised the God of Israel” (this indicates that these are Gentiles).

Still today, if we have faith, Jesus heals broken lives. Yes, we can bring suffering people to Jesus. Who do you know that needs Jesus’ healing touch in their lives? We can bring them to Christ through our prayers, actions, attitudes – so that Jesus can do his healing.

v. 32-39

Jesus feeds the 4,000

Remember the previous chapter?: Jesus feeds the 5,000

This time, 7 loaves of bread and a few fish.

  • In the previous chapter, Jesus fed 5,000.
  • In this next chapter, Jesus fed 4,000.


  • 5,000 = in the spring (sat down on the grass)
  • 4,000 = in the summer (sat down on the earth – little grass – high/hot summer)
  • 5,000 = in Galilee, near Bethseda (Jews)
  • 4,000 = in Decapolis (10 cities) – the root federation of 10 Greek cities (mostly Gentiles)
  • 5,000 = they had been with him one day
  • 4,000 = they had been with him 3 days (they’d used up their own supplies of food – so Jesus’ compassionate heart could not permit him to send them along hungry)

The motivation of the miracle: to meet human needs

  1. 5,000 = 12 baskets left (baguni = small)
  2. 4,000 = 7 baskets left (gwangjuri = big)

(same word in English – how about in Korean? = different)

In Greek, different word:

  • 5,000 = copinus = narrow-necked, flask shaped bag – like a lunchbox carried by Jews to avoid eating “Gentile” food
  • 4,000 = spuris = big enough to carry a MAN

Acts 9 – the story of Paul’s conversion

Immediately afterward, he started to preach, and many Jews conspired to kill him. They kept a close watch at the city gate in order to kill him, and his followers lowered Paul from the city “in a basket” (spuris – the same basket here)

We are surprised to see the reaction of the disciples:

The experienced the miracle of the 5,000 feeding some months ago. But… they forgot.

If only they remembered how powerful, graceful, unchangeable, Jesus is – they should have said, “Yes! We believe! Our Lord is able to MULTIPLY bread and fish! We do not need to worry!” But they said, “Oh, wow. Where can we get so much bread?…”

Do you / we also FORGET Jesus’ grace, provision, and power?

We have lived up to NOW with his grace! If we worry about the future, this is such LITTLE faith in Jesus!

Jesus fed us yesterday! He is feeding us today! Won’t he certainly feed us tomorrow as well? Why worry?

If you believe “I am what I am, I have been what I have been by the grace of God” then you also can/should believe “I WILL BE what I WILL BE by the grace of God.”

May God bless all of us to be called of Jesus, “You have great faith!”

Let’s pray.

  • Jun 22 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Four Kinds of Soil (Matthew 13:1-23)
Matthew: The Book of Kingship, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Four Kinds of Soil (Matthew 13:1-23)



Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Four Kinds of Soil
Matthew 13:1-23 (Pastor Heo)

The Parable of the Sower
13:1-15pp — Mk 4:1-12; Lk 8:4-10 13:16,17pp — Lk 10:23,24 13:18-23pp — Mk 4:13-20; Lk 8:11-15

1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop–a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.” 10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” 11 He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ” ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. 18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. 22 The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. 23 But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

God bless you with his Word. Your family, community, schools, offices, through you.

First two verses: “That same day, Jesus went out and sat by the seashore…

He went out in a boat to preach.

This is a very important chapter in the gospels. It shows a definite turning point in Jesus’ ministry.

At first, he was teaching in the synagogues. But now, he is teaching outside. This shows that the synagogues were closed/opposed to him – doing their best to find a charge against him – to turn anything he said or did into an accusation.

This is a supreme tragedy that Jesus was banished from the church of his day. John: “He was in this world, but the world did not recognize him. He came to his own, but his own did not receive him.” (John 1)

Maybe even today this could happen.

But that didn’t stop him from bringing his message of salvation to the people. He preached in the temple of Open Air, on the street, on the beach. A man with a real message – a real heart to deliver it – he will always find a way to deliver it.

The Kingdom of God is the focus here (and the focus of the book of Matthew). In this whole chapter (13) there are 7 parables about the Kingdom of God. Today, just one – the sower and seed. Next time, 3 more about weeds, then the mustard seed, then yeast and leaven, then the end time prophecies about the field and treasure, etc. So this chapter is the chapter of prophecy of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Parables: very important. What are they? Why did he teach in parables? What are the characteristics?

  • WHAT: Greek: parabole = to place aside, to cast alongside – a story/comparison/illustration. Biblically, a short earthly story with a heavenly meaning – using everyday objects to explain heavenly truth.
  • WHY: the laziness of the people at that time. Also because of the Psalm 78:2 prophecy “I will open my mouth and utter things that are hidden – things of old…” – it was written and prophecied that he would teach in prophesies.
  • CHARACTERISTICS: Makes abstract ideas concrete. Most people think in visible pictures. For example, who can explain beauty or goodness without a story? But if we SHOW something with those characteristics, we can clearly understand.

All great lessons start from the Here and Now to get to the There and Then. Jesus wanted to speak spiritual fact directly, but humans would never understand – because we have no experience of these things in real life (no one died and lived to tell of it…). So, Jesus uses what we KNOW, the world and earthly things to teach of heavenly truths.

Parables help us think over these things. We must discover the truth for ourselves. Unless we discover it for ourselves, we will forget it quickly and it will be useless.

That’s why Jesus teaches heavenly truth through material things.

Today: A farmer

Four kinds of soil:

  1. Roadside (hard – can’t get under the ground – birds come and eat it)
  2. Rocks (shallow – no root – easy to spring up, but also dies quickly)
  3. Thorns (choke out the plants as they grow up together)
  4. Good soil (100x, 60x, 30x what was sown – produced abundantly)

Jesus then explains the direct meaning of each: (18-23)

  1. Road – hear but don’t understand – Satan snatches it away
  2. Rocks – received the Word with joy BUT lacking a root, he falls away
  3. Thorns – hears but worries about money and life so that he loses focus
  4. Good soil – hears and understands – becomes fruitful

In this story, the seed = the Word of God. Like the seed, the Word of God has life and power in it = transforming, creating power, and future fruit.

The soil = our hearts in front of the Word of God.

4 soils = 4 hearts

Outwardly, we all look the same, but even among us in this room today, there may be 4 kinds of hearts today. Please, be honest before God, personally, privately. What kind of heart do I have?

4 hearts, 4 hearers, 4 listeners = which are you?

During listening, examine yourselves – don’t ask your neighbor. Even though we worship God together, we also are worshipping God personally, individually.

#1: Hearer with a shut/closed mind.

If both doors in this room are closed, no one can enter this room. If the mind is closed (prejudice, pride, arrogance, sinful lifestyle, immoral character), anything we do not like to receive make us blind and shut. The Word of God may condemn what we like, and reveal what we do as sinful.

If we reject/refuse to receive the Word/Truth of God, it means our hearts are shut. If you shut your heart, even Jesus cannot enter into our hearts. He’s a gentleman. “Here I am, I stand at the door and knock…” Revelation 3?

#2: Shallow Mind.

He fails to think things out and think them through. Some people just follow blindly along with all the trends – new fashion, new electronics. They are constantly STARTING but never FINISHING. When they meet problems and hardships, they quickly give up. Even if they start new things with JOY they never finish them… It is good to receive God’s Word with emotion and action – but remember, we cannot live with God’s Word on EMOTION alone – you also need ACTION and COMMITMENT POWER. Christianity has demands that must be faced before it can truly be received. Yes, it’s a great blessing, but before that, also a great responsibility.

#3: The divided/distracted mind. 

He has so many interests so that he misses out on the most important thing. Yes, these days everything is faster and more distracting: travel, food, information, results. Are you too busy to pray? Too busy to study the Word of God? Yes, we may not do bad things, we may do good things – but remember one of Satan’s biggest strategies is to keep us distracted with the 2nd and 3rd best. Remember, the 2nd best is the worst enemy of the BEST.

In your personal priorities, where is Jesus? If he is #2~ it means Jesus is not in you. In each person’s life, Jesus is either #1 or #0 (gone). Why? He’s the Lord, God, King, Creator.

#4: Good heart.

This soil/heart is open, soft, clean, deep.

In the reception of the Word of God, there are 4 stages.

#1: Open:

He is willing to receive the Word – ready and prepared to hear and understand. He has sought many things and knows how this applies. He hears and understands and produces fruit.

  1. Hear
  2. Understand
  3. Practice
  4. Produce fruit

Without PRACTICE…no fruit.

I know about the piano, I know the history, I know the keys, but I cannot play because I never practiced. Without practice, no fruit. This is not theory, but practice. “Everyone who hears my words and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock…” Matthew 7?

Fruit is the test of true salvation. “A tree will be recognized by its fruit. A good tree will bear good fruit, a bad tree will bear bad fruit.” Fruit is winning others to Christ, sharing with others, the evidence of remaining in Christ. “If a man remains in me, he will bear much fruit…”

This parable has a double-impact/meaning for us.

  1. Before the Word of God, we are hearers.
  2. Before the world outside, we are preachers (sowers).

Remember, it is impossible to be a bad hearer and a good preacher. Only a good hearer can be a good hearer.

No farmer/sower expects every single seed he sows to germinate and bear fruit. Yes, he knows very well that some seeds will be lost, blown away. Yet, he never stops sowing – he keeps going. Even though some is wasted, yet, harvest is coming.

We must be sure: The harvest is certain.

To sow is our job. To make it grow is God’s job, not our job. Paul (a great farmer): “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow” (Col? Eph?)

When sowing, we must not look for a quick result. This is not natural. We must WAIT for the harvest. WAIT for the seed to take root.

In nature, it takes a HUGE time for an acorn to take root and produce a huge tree. It may also take much time for the Word of God to take root in man – even if the seed was sown in his heart in childhood, it may not take root until long into his adulthood when it saves him.

This generation looks for a quick result, but we must sow (preach) with assurance, confidence, patience, perseverance – knowing that the Harvest is coming – the End is coming soon. This End is not the end, this End is the new starting point for all eternity.

God bless us with his Word. We are not only hearers, but also preachers (sowers) of the Word.

Let’s pray.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Listen