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 Sermons on important subjects by Rev. Paul C. Jong

 

Faith in the Forgiveness of Sins (1 John 1:9)


We believe that only the Lord can wash away our sins with the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit. As such, Isaiah 1:18 states, “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.’” In 1 John 1:9, it is also said, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Here, we must realize that the phrase “if we confess our sins” does not mean that God forgives our sins whenever we give prayers of repentance. Rather, 1 John 1:19 exactly means that we receive the remission of all our sins when we admit our sinfulness before the Lord and believe that the Lord has already blotted them out with all the sins of the world through the baptism that He received and the blood of the Cross. Anyone who admits his/her sins before God and believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit is clothed in the grace of the remission of sin by God.



What Are the ‘Sins’ Here?


Every descendant of Adam is born with sin. Therefore, no one can claim to be “sinless” by not committing any sin, for human beings, having originally been born with sin, already have sin even if they do not commit any sin. As such, everyone needs the Savior who can save him/her from sin. Those who claim to be sinless and to have no need to believe in Jesus only end up standing against God.

At the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, made the Garden of Eden, and allowed Adam and Eve to live in it. In this place where there was no sin, God had the most familiar fellowship with them in personal relationship. But to make them His children, God had given them a law. This law was not to eat the fruits of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God had said to them, “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” And to give them eternal life and everlasting blessings, God told them to eat the fruits of the tree of life. But instead of eating the fruits of the tree of life as God had told them to, they ate the fruits of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the tree that would lead them to their certain death (Genesis 2:17, 3:22).

Falling into the Devil’s temptation, Adam and Eve ended up eating the forbidden fruits of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Death came as the price of this sin. This is why Romans 5:12 states, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” As such, human beings now came to need their Savior.

Some people are self-confident, like the rich young man in Matthew 19, that they have kept all the commandments of God since their childhood. But there is no one who has ever kept all the 613 commandments of God.

Then why God gave us the Law, which we cannot observe at all. The Bible says that through the law we become conscious of sin (Romans 3:20). The Ten Commandments that God has given us point out our sins. For instance, someone might hate his/her own parent, thinking in his/her minds, “That old guy must be senile!” This person is then already breaking the Fifth Commandment of God’s Law. And when a man lusts after a woman in his thoughts, even if he does not actually commit adultery, he has already broken the Seventh Commandment. Moreover, God also considers covetousness, jealousy, and hatred as murder even if we do not actually kill someone, for these are what motivate us to murder. Who, then, can ever completely keep the clear and spotless commandments of the Law of God that pierce through the deepest recess of our thoughts?

Furthermore, James 2:10 states, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” In this light, who can possibly claim to be sinless before this strict Law of God?

In our weaknesses, we often stumble in sin. Why is this the case? It is because of our original sin—that is, it is because human beings are fundamentally corrupted. This is why David, repenting from his sin of breaking the Seventh Commandment, said in Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.” David, in other words, admitted his fundamental sin. The prayers of repentance offered by the ordinary Christian today and David’s confession of himself as fundamentally a mass of sins are completely different from each other. The former only admits one’s actual sins of deeds, while the latter, in contrast, admits that he cannot help but sin because he is fundamentally a mass of sins.

Only those who recognize their fundamental selves as big masses of sins and believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by the Lord can receive the grace of the remission of sin from God. Wouldn’t this be the case? What is the right thing for us to do? Is it to list our daily sins before God and ask for His forgiveness everyday, or is it to recognize our weaknesses, admit our true selves as big masses of sins, and believe, in thankfulness, in the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by the Lord? The latter, of course, is the right thing for us to do! Let us all believe that by knowing and believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we can have all the problems of our sins solved away.

In John 6:53-55, Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.” Here, that we must eat the flesh of the Lord and drink His blood means that that we must have the faith that believes that Jesus took upon all the sins of the world with the baptism that He received from John. This means that if we do not know the truth of the baptism of Jesus, then we cannot pass our sins onto Him, and our sins therefore cannot be forgiven, either. If we have been running a tab at a store, then we would remain debtors until we pay off the tab completely. Likewise, if we say that there was no baptism that Jesus received from John, the representative of mankind, when He came to this earth, then nor can we say that our sins have been forgiven (Matthew 3:15, 11:11-13).

The crucifixion of Jesus was a consequence of the fact that before this, He had first taken upon the sins of mankind through the baptism that He received from John. As such, the Lord has saved us from our sins by being crucified, shedding His precious blood, and thereby bearing all the condemnation of our sins for our sake.

When we profess to believe in Jesus, we must believe that He took all our sins upon Himself with His baptism.

The Bible speaks clearly about the believers’ remission of sins, which can be summarized into two main points. First, it tells us that by being baptized, Jesus accepted all the sins of the world passed onto His body.

Psalm 32:1 states, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered.” The word ‘atonement’ contains the meaning of ‘to take upon sins’ and ‘to accept sins.’ As such, 1 Peter 3:21 says, “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” With baptism that He received from John, Jesus accepted all the sins of everyone in this world once and for all.

Second, the Bible tells us that Jesus has blotted out our sins.

Isaiah 43:25 says, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.” “To blot out” here means to make it disappear by painting over and to blow away like powder.

This means God the Father has cleansed away the sins of the world by passing them onto His Son through His baptism. For those among us who might be saying, “I have no hope since I’ve committed so many sins,” they, too, can be freed from all their sins by hearing the Word of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The Devil says to us, “Haven’t you committed all kinds of sin?” But even if we had heard such words, when we believe in the baptism of Jesus and the blood of the Cross, then we can all be liberated from all such sins. When we have this kind of faith, the Devil gets scared and runs away. We are convinced that the Lord has forgiven our sins with the baptism and blood of Jesus. When we believe that Jesus has forgiven all our sins with His baptism and the blood of the Cross, then His amazing works of peace come into our lives. This is the central faith of Christianity, the faith of the remission of sin.



The Result of Receiving the Remission of Sin


It is to be freed from our sins and our fear of death. When people do not believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, they are abandoned by God, and therefore they are plagued by many tragedies and worries, unable to avoid their terrifying death. As such, human beings have done their utmost to be saved from their sins and death. Sometimes they turned to the so-called religious rituals made by their corrupted selves, continuing to cling to their repentance, asceticism and meditation, all to no avail. But to us who believe in Jesus as our Savior, His baptism and blood have not only forgiven us of the sins of the world, but they have also restored our relationship with God that had heretofore been broken, and have thereby freed us from our sins and our fear of death.

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Everyone who believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit has consistently made such a confession. With His baptism and blood, the Lord has forgiven even people like myself of all my sins. Until we have this kind of conviction, our hearts are weighed down and worrisome. But the believers who have been forgiven of their sins by believing in the baptism and blood of Jesus come to rejoice in the grace of the remission of sin, the likes of which they had never experienced before in this world.

Looking at us, who had been sinners before but who now believe in the baptism of Jesus and His bloodshed on the Cross, the Lord has washed away our blemishes, forgiven us of all our heavy sins, and thereby given us true peace. As the Lord has purchased our bodies by paying for them with His own precious blood, in thankfulness we remain faithful to Him, saying, “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? ” (Psalm 116:12)

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