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 Sermons on important subjects by Rev. Paul C. Jong

 

Jesus Who Came to Save Us,
the Spiritual Paralytics

 

< Matthew 9:1-13 >

 “So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city.Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.’ And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, ‘This Man blasphemes!’ But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts?For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’?But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’—then He said to the paralytic, ‘Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’And he arose and departed to his house. Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men. As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ So he arose and followed Him. Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, ‘Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard that, He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.’”



In today’s Scripture passage of Matthew 9, there comes a paralytic who was healed from his paralysis by Jesus. Through this passage, I would like to share with you our Lord’s blessings, contemplating on this disease of paralysis and explaining how the Lord has saved us.

Everyone in this world is a spiritual paralytic before God. A paralytic is someone who, while retaining his mental faculty, is physically disabled as his members are paralyzed. This paralysis renders him unable to move certain body parts. So when someone becomes paralyzed, he cannot move his body parts freely according to his mind’s wish.

One such paralytic was brought in bed to Jesus by his friends, and Jesus, seeing the faith of this paralytic and that of those who brought him, remitted away all his sins and healed him from his disability as well. Our Lord then told him to take up his bed and go home.

When the Bible talks about healing, it is in fact talking about the remission of souls’ sins. So when the Bible describes all these sick people who were healed by Jesus, it is actually talking about the remission of our sins.

Let us, first, think about who we really are before God. Let us consider here whether we have been saved from our sins even though we were not spiritual paralytics, or we have received the remission of our sins as we had indeed been seriously paralyzed—whether, in other words, we have been saved from our sins by having the same faith in the Lord as the paralytic from today’s Scripture passage had. First of all, we need to think about whether we had been spiritual paralytics. And then we need to consider if everyone is a spiritual paralytic.

There is no doubt that you and I had been spiritual paralytics. There are certain things in which our bodies do not follow our thoughts, and this is owing to our basic sinful nature. But how much have we all desired to live according to the will of God? While we have sincerely yearned to do so in our thoughts and minds, what has been the actual result? In our flesh, have we really followed the Lord with perfect deeds and lived our lives as He wanted us to live? No, we have all failed to do so. This is why you and I were in fact suffering from serious cases of spiritual paralysis. While we had thus been spiritual paralytics, we have still been saved from our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.

I know myself well. Can I really do everything that my heart desires? I can honestly confess to you that I am not capable of achieving this. My heart truly desires to follow the will of the Lord 100%, and to live according to how He wants me to live. But more often than not, I fail in this endeavor. There are many times when my deeds do not follow my heart’s wish. But I still believe, “Even though I am truly a spiritual paralytic, the Lord has saved me from all my sins.”

I believe that you are like this also. You, too, had been spiritual paralytics who could not do what you wanted to do owing to your disability, but I believe that our Lord has saved such people like us from all our sins by the gospel power of the water and the Spirit. Are you perfect in both body and spirit? Are your flesh, thoughts, hearts, and deeds perfect and whole? No, of course they are not perfect! You and I are all insufficient, just like this paralytic.

Just how many shortcomings do we have? Because we are insufficient, the Lord could not but come to us. And by doing so, He thus had to save us from all our sins. Through the baptism of Jesus Christ and His bloodshed, we have been able to be saved from all our sins. When we realize that we are truly insufficient, we can receive the salvation and all the blessings from God. Therefore, all of us must admit our insufficiencies before God, and live in His grace in thankfulness.

When do you recognize your insufficiencies? It is when we fail to live according to the will of the Lord, and when we fail to do the righteous deeds as He wants us to, that we come to admit ourselves as insufficient beings. We come to discover this fact in reality, not in mere theory. And our hearts are then humbled and become meek.

My dear fellow believers, we are insufficient and paralytics, and yet the Lord has saved such people like us from all our sins. We must therefore never forget the blessings of God, that He has saved us from all our sins for our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. When we recognize our fundamental insufficiencies as they are, we cannot but be thankful for His salvation that has saved us from such a spiritually fatal condition. Only then can we humbly and gratefully keep the Truth that the Lord has saved us from all our sins by the power of the gospel of the water and the Spirit.

However, as we carry on with our lives of faith before God, we often forget our own insufficiencies, thinking that everything is okay now that we have received the remission of our sins. And there are many times when we know very well about the shortcomings of other people, and yet we do not acknowledge our own insufficiencies.

When a woman caught for adultery in the very act was brought to Jesus, He had told those around her who sought to stone her, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” When Jesus said this, no one could cast a single stone.

As a matter of fact, we, too, are like this woman who was caught for adultery in the very act, for all of us also sin, just like this woman. We are in no place to comment on whether others have blemishes or not. Each and every one of us is a spiritual paralytic, and we all are insufficient. It is because this is who we really are that our Lord has saved us from our sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and all that we have done is that we have accepted this salvation from our sins by believing in this Truth.

Among the righteous, no one is better or worse than anyone else. It is far better for us to have little abilities and thus nothing to boast of than to think arrogantly that we are somehow better than others. While those who know their own insufficiencies will find and believe in the God-given gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit, those who don’t recognize their own insufficiencies will end up rejecting the true gospel that can wash away all their sins. Therefore, knowing ourselves correctly is critically important to us, for if we fail to know our fundamental insufficiencies, it is impossible for us to rely on the power of the gospel of the water and the Spirit.

Our Lord also said in today’s Scripture passage, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” It is not right for us to fail to realize just how weak and insufficient we are, and yet instead assign all faults to others and judge them. It is a marked human tendency to come up with all sorts of excuses, claiming that it is not because we are inherently evil, but because the others are evil that we are also wicked. So consequently, we fail to realize that the problem is not found with the others, but with ourselves, and that it is our own insufficiencies that explain the problem.

Even after receiving the remission of our sins, we still remain insufficient. We may have worked the whole day doing the works of God, but is there anything that we can really boast of? No. Only a few hours are actually spent productively for the works of God, and the rest are often simply wasted away. Those who believe that God has saved the truly insufficient one from all their sins by the gospel power of the water and the Spirit—none other than these are the blessed.

My fellow believers, do not flaunt your own righteousness before God or before man. You may think, “I am not like this. I am different from him. I am really good. I am not insufficient. As days go by, I am perfected even more.” It is because you think like this that you are deceiving yourselves on your own. This is why you cannot come before the salvation of the Lord. This is why, even if you are saved, you are unable to run toward the salvation of others’ souls by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.

At all times, we must confess to the Lord, “I am like the paralytic, Lord.” This truth is not a hypothetical conjecture, but it is real. As we carry on with our lives of faith, we must realize before God that we are always insufficient in our acts. Only then can we tolerate our own insufficiencies and the insufficiencies of others as well.

What happens if we say that we are not insufficient but the others are? Our hearts are prone to become arrogant as if we are their judges. But who can stand upright before the Law of God? Do you watch TV? What do you see in the news? We see that even the powerful who had yielded great influence and authority are branded as criminals when they turned out to have broken the law. When a criminal is brought to the Public Prosecutor’s office, he has to stand right at that spot that is reserved for criminals. Reporters then take pictures of him, and he has to subject himself to the investigation. He then has to stand in the court as the accused and be sentenced to his punishment.

So regardless of how powerful anyone might have been in this world, if he committed a crime and broke the existing law, not only is his pride ruined, but also his reputation and status are all destroyed. All that power this person had is but only a dream, as he crumbles down and falls apart—this is the portrait of a criminal. Even before the secular law of this world, anyone who commits a crime is turned into such a pathetic figure.

We also cannot avoid becoming such a pathetic figure, if we apply the Law strictly to ourselves. But, from the Law we must see our sinful selves, and by placing our faith in the baptism that Jesus Christ received from John and in His bloodshed as our own remission of sin, we must be remitted from all our sins. We can then be bold and confident by this faith of ours that knows and believes in the power of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Jesus Christ has saved us from all our sins as the righteous Savior. We must have confidence placing our faith in this Lord.

Were it not for this faith in the gospel power of the water and the Spirit, who could ever stand before the Law of God? My fellow believers, the hypocrites who sought to stone the adulterous woman were self-righteous only because their sins were not revealed yet, but had they stood before the Law of God honestly, could they have dared to raise a single stone?

As you and I stand before God, it is only by believing in the gospel that holds His righteousness that we can enter Heaven. Everyone is a sinner and will forever remain so unless he believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Sinners are nothing at all before God. Were it not for our faith in this gospel that holds the righteousness of God, we would not have been able to live by faith like this to this day. Even if one had said, “I am completely guilt-free and I have nothing to hide,” without the powerful mercy of God, he cannot be saved from his sins.

The paralytic here was brought before Jesus by his friends. Jesus then said to this paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”

My fellow saints, how many sins could a paralytic possibly have committed? Would he have committed more sins than those who are healthy and normal? Why, then, did Jesus say, “Son, your sins are forgiven you”? This means that you and I have become sinners because of our parents of the flesh, just as this paralytic had inherited his sinful nature from his parents, and therefore he also had to be forgiven from his sins. As it is written in Matthew 26:41, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak,” both our hearts and deeds have not been whole.

From the very moment we were born from the womb of our mothers into this world, we have inherited all the sins of this world, all the twelve kinds of wickedness, and as such we were born as sinners from the very beginning. Therefore, from this very day on we have been spiritually paralyzed. It is because we came into this world with sinful hearts from the day we were born that we have been unable to do what our hearts desire. And because we have failed to live according to the will of the Lord, as our hearts so desired, we have come to realize that fundamentally, there is sin in our hearts.

The Apostle Paul also confessed his sinful nature as it was: “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Romans 7:14-20).

You need to realize here that Jesus did not say so because the paralytic had somehow committed more sins against God than we have. The very paralytic was you and I who had to be forgiven from all our sins. Therefore, those who have not yet received the remission of sins must first admit the truth that they are mortal sinners before God, and must be anxious to be saved from all their sins. They must first lament their predicament just as Paul cried out, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)

Who has delivered you and me from this body of death? He is Jesus Christ. That we have been remitted from all our sins, and that we are to enter the heavenly Kingdom of God, all depend on the baptism that Jesus Christ received, His bloodshed, and His power. If we realize how Jesus Christ has blotted out all the sins that we commit throughout our entire lifetime out of our insufficiencies, and if we believe in this gospel Truth with all our hearts, we can indeed be saved from all our sins. The Bible tells us that no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is first born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit (John 3:5).

My fellow saints, our remission of sin, too, has been made possible only by believing in the gospel power of the water and the Spirit. For us to follow the Lord and do His works is only possible when we believe in the power of the gospel of the water and the Spirit that our Lord has given us. Our spreading of this gospel of the water and the Spirit is also made possible only by the power of our God.

In the last chapter of Hosea, it is written, “Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right; The righteous walk in them, But transgressors stumble in them” (Hosea 14:9).

My fellow believers, how could we stand upright but only by our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? How could we overcome Satan’s schemes but only by our faith in this gospel of power? It is absolutely impossible for us to do so unless we place all our faith in the gospel power of the water and the Spirit. This is why the passage from Hosea declares that only the righteous can follow the ways of the Lord.

Every Sunday, you go to your church and stand before God to worship Him, but can you really come before His presence and worship Him only with your acts, without the power of your faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? No, this cannot be done! Our spreading of this true gospel is also impossible without placing our faith in the Lord.

Could anyone whose acts are upright and who has committed no sin in this world really spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Such people who think their deeds are upright cannot believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, nor can they preach the righteousness of God. In our flesh, furthermore, we can never do the righteous works.

Can you live even a day without committing any sin? Do you now realize that you and I are insufficient before God, and that God has saved such people like us, who had been paralytics? Do you acknowledge the power of the gospel of the water and the Spirit?

Though we are this insufficient, God has still saved us from the sins of the world. Therefore, we cannot but confess like this: “Lord, Your are the Christ and the Son of the living God. You are the true God. You are the King of kings. You are the Lord of creation who made the universe and all things in it. Lord, You are truly the Son of God, and came to me as my Savior.” Through Romans chapter 7 and 8, we can see that the Apostle Paul believed in Jesus as his God and his Savior. And we, too, believe in Jesus just like Paul had believed.

My fellow saints, in times like these when the world is darkening even more, sin is widespread, and selfish individualism abounds in it, we must walk on the righteous way of the Lord boldly by placing our faith in the gospel power of the water and the Spirit. In this age and time, if we want to live in God’s Church until the end of the world by believing in the power of this gospel that holds the righteousness of God, we must realize that we are insufficient, and we must live our lives before God by faith, by believing in the gospel power of the water and the Spirit. Placing all our faith in this gospel power of the water and the Spirit, we must praise God and run toward Him.

My fellow believers, could any of us really stand before the presence of God with our own merits? You should never nod to such an erroneous claim! If some of your brothers and sisters are insufficient in your eyes, do not try to judge them. Who can judge whom, and who can condemn whom? To be quite honest, could pastors know all the difficulties that the laymen are facing? Can anyone who has not worked know the hardship that the working people face? Can junior pastors understand all the difficulties that senior pastors must take care of? All that we know is only superficial, some glimpses of what appears outside, and we do not really know all the difficulties that the others are facing. Therefore, you need to stand before God by placing your faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and you must do His works in humility, rather than judging others.

How tiresome is it to live in this age? Words cannot describe all the stresses that we are facing on a daily basis. The whole world is moving against the will of God, but we, the minority, are going against this tide. Hence, the stress and the hardship that are accrued from this are only too palpable for us. Do you think we are walking the way of the Lord because we do not know how to go with the flow of this world? No, it is because we live clothed in the gospel power of the water and the Spirit that we have put the flow the world behind us, and we obey only the will of the God and are running toward Him.

My fellow saints, if someone around you is going through a hard time, you should try to understand him, rather than judging him. “So this is why he is having such a hard time.” This is how you should think. All of us really need to sympathize with our fellow saints. As we serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit, there are many joyful things that happen to us as well. What I am saying here is to live by placing your faith in the power of the gospel before God.

In all honesty, I, too, had been a paralytic spiritually, but the Lord has saved me from all my sins. And frankly, you had also been paralytics, but the Lord has saved you from all the sins of the world. There is no one among you whom the Lord has saved from sin even though he was fundamentally perfect. Hasn’t our Lord saved us with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, even though you and I alike had been just like the paralytic?

It is not only with our words that we admit that we are paralytics, and that we are insufficient. Are we not actually insufficient in our flesh? Of course we are. Do you have any idea how much time it takes for a person to know his true self? It is not easy at all for one to truly know oneself. So anyone who knows his fundamental nature well is quite a remarkable person.

If we admit that we are paralytics, then, we have to walk by faith from now on: We must live by faith, spread the gospel by faith, defend our heart by faith, stand before God by faith, overcome this world by faith, and treat one another in faith. What else do we have but our faith? There is nothing remaining in you if your faith is taken away.

The basic human faculty actually amounts to nothing. We are no one without the power of the gospel. What greatness is there to mankind? We are as ephemeral as morning mists and as fragile as grass. It is written, “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the LORD endures forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25).

It takes a lot of time for plants to grow, but the time they take to blossom flowers and for these flowers to wither is very short. Just take a look at a flower vase in your own home. The grass adorning the flowers may be firm right now, but leave it for a couple of weeks and see what happens to it. It will wither away. The same thing will happen to the flowers, whose beauty is only ephemeral, for they, too, will wither away. We humans are just likes these withering flowers. Life is just like this. Just as blossoming flowers wither in no time, our true human reflection is such that we, too, will wither away like them.

Even though we are mere ephemeral beings, we now have the everlasting Word of God that has made us the people of faith and God’s children who will not perish. As a matter of fact, it is because we have faith in the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit that we have become righteous by this faith, and that we can live for the righteousness of God on this faith. It is because we have placed our faith in Christ as our Savior, and because we are preaching the gospel, that we remain in this world, and there is no other reason but this.

God has thus made us His people of faith. But there still are too many souls in this world that are dying from their ignorance of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. As there are still many souls in this world who will be saved from their sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, I would like to admonish you to preach this gospel to them. I am not demanding you to become holy saints. I just want to encourage you to spend the rest of your lives for the gospel of the water and the Spirit. There is nothing else that I want from you.

I easily get into a temper over nothing when I am very tired. I am this insufficient. You and I know very well that we are all insufficient. Even so, we have the responsibility to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit throughout the whole world, to the very last day. It is because of this duty that you and I are living. We are not living for any other reason. Though we are all insufficient, we know that it is because we have things to do while remaining on this earth, to preach this gospel throughout the whole world, that we are carrying on with our lives.

Do not demand anything else—a good temper or a virtuous manner, for example—from one another. Preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit and having fellowship of faith with one another, these are all that we have to do in our every waking moment. If we do not spread the gospel power, who will ever do this?

Just how many people in this world are suffering without the gospel of the water and the Spirit? We can see many wretched Christians who are trying so hard to live according to the will of God through their prayers of repentance and their own determination. In fact, they are doing so because they are demon-possessed. Do you not feel compassionate for them? Indeed, there are so many people in this world who have not even heard the gospel of the water and the Spirit that if I were able to spread this gospel to them, I will have no more want. It is because of the gospel that my eyes are all bloodshot; it is because of the gospel that I shed tears, and it is because of the gospel that I am doing all these different works. I would never have put up with any of these things were it not for the gospel. Had I not dedicated my life to the spreading of the gospel, I would be working hard everyday for my own ends. But since this is not how we are living, but we are in fact living for the gospel, all of us are indeed doing truly precious works. God has entrusted us with such extremely precious works.

There are times when our brothers are ordained as the workers of God and sent out to their places of ministry. In such times, I see some of them having doubts and thinking, “Why am I being sent there, instead of sending me here?” I then used to say to them, “Why do you care about where and how you live, when you are living to spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit? What is more precious work than this in the whole world? You may go there and find yourself spending the whole day not doing much, but if you preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to even just one person, the Lord would approve you! How would you do this truly precious work in the world? Were it not for God’s Church, where else would you do such precious works?” I believe that all of us, who are serving the gospel, from our ministers to you and I, are extremely precious to God. By believing in the power of this gospel, we have all become God’s own people.

Because Satan has sowed his lies throughout the whole world, people are drowning in such lies without realizing the true gospel of the water and the Spirit. All that we have to do is spread the Truth of the water and the Spirit throughout this earth that is filled with lies, and go to the Lord when He comes back for us. If the Lord does not return in our lifetime, then let us just continue to preach the gospel.

There are times when we volunteer to do difficult jobs for this gospel. But there are also many moments of joy that we experience while serving the gospel by faith. God gives us consolations and new strength whenever we yearn for His help.

My dear fellow believers, I yearn to preach the power of this gospel until the day our Lord returns. If I can’t preach the gospel myself because of my weak body, I at least want to fulfill my role as a supporter of the gospel. I, too, must serve the gospel with my prayers until the day our Lord returns, and so must you.

Let us hold each other, help one another, and trust each other, so that each of us may achieve this. I believe that even if we do not edify ourselves to a particular level of sanctification in this world, if we would just preach the gospel of power throughout the whole world, the Lord will be pleased by us. Let us live for the spreading of the gospel, and let us go to our Lord after preaching this gospel to our ends. If people do not accept the gospel even after hearing it, leave them unsaved and let’s preach the gospel to the others. And if no one accepts it no matter how much we preach it at last, then let us, too, stop preaching it and just wait for His return.

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The Gospel of Matthew

The paralytic in today’s Scripture passage received the remission of his sins by encountering the Lord and believing in His power. It was because he was insufficient that he received this remission of sin by faith—by believing, in other words, in the power of the Lord. Had his deeds been without blemish, he might not have come to Jesus asking for His salvation, and eventually, could not have been remitted from all his sins by believing in the Lord’s power.

My fellow believers, before God, only those who know they are extremely deficient in their deeds can receive the remission of their sins by believing in the power of the Lord’s gospel. Do you think that it is by practicing asceticism, as if we were Buddha, that we can be remitted from our sins? It is those who know themselves as the piles of sins that can be remitted from all their sins by believing in the gospel of power, that Jesus came to this earth and has blotted out their sins with the water and the blood.

I thank our Lord for saving us from all our sins. Amen.

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