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 Sermons on important subjects by Rev. Paul C. Jong

 

John the Baptist Was Not a Failure

 

< Matthew 11:1-14 >

“Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities. And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciplesand said to Him, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and tell John the things which you hear and see:The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.’ As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.For this is he of whom it is written:

‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,

Who will prepare Your way before You.’

Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.”



We Have to Understand the Ministry of John the Baptist

Exactly what ministry did John the Baptist fulfill before Jesus? Many Christians today do not understand John the Baptist properly, and so they all need to take another look at him to understand him and appreciate his ministry properly. All of us need to have the correct understanding and appreciation of the relationship between the ministry of Jesus and that of John the Baptist. By properly understanding this relationship, you need to get the first-hand experience of receiving the remission of your sins by faith.

In today’s Scripture passage, Jesus Christ said to the disciples of John the Baptist, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see:The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”

In fact, the blind who met Jesus had their eyes opened, the lame could stand up and walk, the demon-possessed could be set free from their demons when they encountered Jesus, and the gospel of Heaven was preached to the poor in spirit.

What we need to realize first here is that the ministry of Jesus included the work of opening the eyes of the blind. In this age and time, in other words, our Lord has given us the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the true gospel that opens the eyes of sinners who are wandering in darkness.

Before encountering Jesus Christ, everyone had sin in his heart and was spiritually blind before God. We, too, had not known the authenticity of the gospel of the water and the Spirit, nor understood who Jesus really was, and we all had been unaware of our own sins and our fatal consequences owing to these sins. And we had no interest in the true gospel Word of the water and the Spirit, the Truth of salvation that Jesus has given us.

However, many people have now heard the powerful gospel Word of the water and the Spirit, and by placing their faith in this gospel Word, their spiritual eyes have been opened and they have discovered the Truth that enables them to be saved from all their sins. Those who know and believe in this genuine gospel have now discovered the Truth of the remission of sin that they had not known before: Their eyes of faith have been opened, and they have come to do the work of God. As it is with our eyes of the flesh that we see everything in this world, we now can see the spiritual world brightly after our spiritual eyes were opened by our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. This is how one reaches the understanding that the ministry of Jesus is all for the ministry of the gospel of the water and the Spirit.

Because of our sins, you and I had been spiritually blind and lame, able to neither see the God’s ministry nor do His work. In other words, we had also been sinners who were bound to be condemned to hell. However, Jesus Christ came to this earth, was baptized by John the Baptist, shed His blood on the Cross, and thereby fulfilled the works that remitted away all the sins of the world. Therefore, whoever believes in this Truth can experience that all his or her sins are completely washed away. Jesus Christ has washed away all our sins by actually coming this earth, being baptized by John the Baptist, and shedding His blood on the Cross. Even now, such works of God continue to unfold magnificently in the hearts of all who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. With the gospel power of the water and the Spirit, our Lord has opened the spiritual eyes of His believers, and He has made us, who had been spiritually lame, to rise and stand up on our feet.

We need to realize here that if we try to do God’s work without even having faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, there will be absolutely no benefit whatsoever for both our bodies and spirits. Those who still have not received the remission of their sins constantly think, “I should live virtuously. I must be good to everyone.” But no one is even remotely capable of achieving this, of doing what is good and virtuous.

Before we came to know the gospel power of the water and the Spirit, we had sin in our hearts and therefore we had all been sinners, and consequently, we could not know what God’s righteous work is like, nor do it. However, because our Lord accepted all our sins once for all through His baptism, and because He washed them all away with the blood that He shed on the Cross while shouldering the sins of the world, we were able to be saved from all our sins. It is because Jesus Christ has saved us from our sins by the power of the gospel of the water and the Spirit, that we are now able to live according to the will of God. We are now capable of enabling everyone else to also taste the power of this true gospel and be saved.

By bringing new life through the Truth of salvation to you and me who had been spiritually lame, Jesus Christ has enabled us to be saved from all our sins and all our curses. What Jesus said here, that “the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up,” has now also been fulfilled in all of our hearts that believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Before, as we had been sinners, we had also been spiritual lepers. At that time our hearts clearly had sin, and we could not be cleansed from all our sins, unless we placed our faith in this true gospel of the water and the Spirit.

Our Lord also said that the deaf would hear. When we had been sinners, we could not understand the Word of God even when we heard it. But now, because we have been clothed with the gospel power of the water and the Spirit by placing our faith in it, we can understand the Word of God, grasp its true meaning, and believe in it wholeheartedly.

Everyone throughout the whole world is now living under spiritual starvation and thirst. They suffer from their spiritual deafness and lameness. But the Lord is still giving them the chance to be healed all at once by letting us preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to them. We must have pity on them. We need to remember that when we did not know this gospel of salvation, the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we had no satisfaction whatsoever, and that we also could not help but live with all our sins remaining in our hearts. We should not forget His merciful grace that has turned sinners into the righteous.

As such, what our Lord spoke to the disciples of John the Baptist about the wonders that He actually exercised was to let them know that Jesus is the Son of God, the real Savior and the Messiah to come.

Some may say that while John the Baptist was imprisoned, he was tempted and became doubtful as to whether Jesus was the Messiah to come, and that this is why he sent his disciples to Jesus. But this is absolutely not the case. Who was John the Baptist? He was the greatest of all those born of women. He was even greater than any other servants of God. In other words, it was not because John the Baptist did not believe in Jesus that he sent out his disciples to Him and had them ask, “Are You the Coming One?” On the contrary, he was now educating his disciples, so that they would know who Jesus really was.

John the Baptist already knew and believed that Jesus was the Savior and the Son of God; moreover, he had heard the testimony of God the Father when he baptized Jesus Christ in the Jordan River (Matthew 3:17), and he himself had also been a witness who had been testifying Jesus. It was because some of his disciples did not know Jesus properly that John the Baptist sent them to Jesus, in order to teach them that Jesus Christ is the Savior to come. In fact, after John the Baptist knew that Jesus Christ was the Messiah to come, he tried to retreat his ministry and send his disciples to the Lord. In order to reveal Jesus to Israel, John even said, “He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).For example, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, had been clearly John’s disciple, but he followed the Lord after hearing John’s witnessing of Jesus (John 1:40).

Yet today’s critics of John the Baptist are saying all kinds of nonsense, even as they do not even know him, claiming, “John the Baptist was a failure. He fell into temptation and failed to believe in Jesus. His faith crumbled down while he was imprisoned.”

But my fellow believers, you must not doubt the faith of John the Baptist. John the Baptist and Jesus had their own duties that they had to fulfill together in the providence of God the Father. This was to baptize and to be baptized, the ministries that were to fulfill the righteousness of God. This is why Jesus and John the Baptist testified each other’s ministry.

Matthew 11:7-9 states, “As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.”

Jesus said here, “Why did you go out into the wilderness? To see a prophet? If so, you are right. I say to you that John the Baptist is more than a prophet.” Jesus then explained John the Baptist by referring to Malachi 3:1 in the Scriptures.

Matthew 11:10 is a passage that cites Malachi 3:1. In it, Jesus said, “For this is he of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.’” Referring to the passage written in Malachi 3:1, in other words, Jesus Himself testified that John the Baptist was the very messenger of God who would be sent before Jesus Himself.

Who is God’s messenger that is written in Malachi 3:1? It is none other than John the Baptist. Malachi 4:5-6 also point out that the messenger in Malachi 3:1—“I send My messenger”—refers to no one else but John the Baptist.

In Matthew 11:11, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

Why did our Lord say this to us?Why did He say that John the Baptist was the greatest of all those born of women? Jesus is telling us here that John the Baptist was the very messenger of God that was prophesied in the Old Testament, and that he is the representative of mankind.

This passage continues on with another difficult phrase: “But he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Many false teachers are judging John the Baptist as a failure by this phrase. They say, “Because John was doubtful about Jesus’ being Messiah, he was evaluated as the least one by the Lord.” But this is absolutely nonsense.

Rather, what Jesus is actually saying here is that although John the Baptist was the representative of mankind, spiritually speaking, he was a lowly man who could not be compared to those who have become God’s own children. In other words, although John the Baptist was the representative of all human beings in the flesh, he could not be compared to the born-again.

Actually, John was the greatest one from a human point of view. He was raised as a Nazirite, and lived an ascetic life in the wilderness eating locusts and wild honey. From the viewpoint of human righteousness, he surely was the greatest one. But this human righteousness is of no use when it is compared to the righteousness of God, which is given to everyone who can enter His Kingdom by faith. And because those who have become the people of the Kingdom of Heaven by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit have received the righteousness of God, they are greater than anyone who only relies on his own righteousness. One may become the representative of mankind on this earth in the flesh, but he is smaller than those who have become God’s people by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.

Therefore, when Jesus said, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force,” He said so because John the Baptist had baptized Him at once and thereby passed the sins of the world to Him.As such, John the Baptist was the last High Priest and prophet of the Old Testament, and his ministry ended when he baptized Jesus and bore witness to Him. Jesus is telling us, in other words, that everything of the Old Testament ended with His own appearance and the appearance of John the Baptist, and with John’s ministry of baptizing Jesus.

Put differently, from the time when John the Baptist and Jesus came to this earth, all the righteousness of God was fulfilled. It is because Jesus came to this earth and was baptized by John that the age of the New Testament was opened from then on. This age of the New Testament is the age of the gospel of power, and it is an era in which whoever believes in this gospel of the water and the Spirit can receive the remission of sin and become God’s own child. As the age of the Old Testament lasted until the days of John the Baptist, when Jesus Christ came to this earth, took upon the sins of mankind with His baptism, shed His blood, and remitted away all our sins, henceforth the gates of Heaven have been flung open to all who believe in this Truth.

As Jesus took upon all the sins of everyone on this earth by being baptized, the age of the New Testament was then begun. All the Old Testament’s Word of prophecy were fulfilled through John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ accepted all the sins of mankind once for all by being baptized by John the Baptist, shed His blood on the Cross, and has thereby blotted out all the sins of this world. This is why our Lord said that from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffered violence.

It is because Jesus accepted the sins of the world by receiving His baptism from John the Baptist that whoever believes in this Truth can now enter Heaven by faith. Put differently, it is because John the Baptist passed mankind’s sins to Jesus through this baptism that Jesus took upon all the sins of the world once for all. Because John the Baptist was born of the descendants of the household of Aaron the High Priest, he could fulfill his role of passing the sins of the world to Jesus as the last High Priest of the Old Testament.

That anyone who believes in this Truth can now enter Heaven by faith is because John the Baptist had passed all the sins of the world to Jesus by baptizing Him, and it is because Jesus took upon these sins of the world that the age of the salvation of mankind has now dawned upon us. With this greatest historical event, the age of the Old Testament ended, and the age of the New Testament started. And Jesus fulfilled His ministry as our Savior to perfection by taking upon all our sins of mankind with His baptism, shedding His blood, and rising from the dead again. Therefore, a new age has opened for all those who believe in the baptism that John the Baptist gave to Jesus, in which the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence.

The Kingdom of Heaven cannot actually be taken by force with the strength of the flesh. What, then, is the spiritual meaning of this passage? It is this: Jesus is telling us the mystery of Heaven, that because He accepted all the sins of this world when John the Baptist baptized Him and when He in turn received this baptism, and because He was crucified, shed His blood, and rose from the dead again, anyone can now make Heaven his by believing in this gospel.

Our Lord said, “All the prophets and the law prophesied until John.”In other words, the prophecies of the Old Testament lasted until the days of John the Baptist. Of course, it is more accurate to say that the age of the Old Testament lasted until the birth of Jesus. But it is exactly when John the Baptist baptized Jesus that the prophecies of the Old Testament were spiritually fulfilled.



Elijah to Come Was None Other Than This Man, John the Baptist

Jesus said in Matthew 11:13, “If you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.”This passage tells us that the very messenger of God written in Malachi 3:1 and 4:5-6 refers to none other than John the Baptist. Since John the Baptist was the representative of mankind, the greatest of all those born of women, this means that he was greater than all the prophets of the Old Testament. John the Baptist was a servant of God who was greater than any other servants of God such as Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel.

When he came to this earth, he fulfilled his role as a prophet, and as the representative of mankind, he also fulfilled his role as the last High Priest of the Old Testament. It was because John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River that all the sins of mankind were passed onto Jesus once for all. All the prophecies of the Old Testament, in other words, were fulfilled once for all through the ministry of John the Baptist and the ministry of Jesus.

Therefore, we must all realize and believe that the role of John the Baptist was absolutely indispensable to the work of the salvation of humanity. It was the ministry of John the Baptist that played the assisting role when Jesus Christ was fulfilling the gospel of the water and the Spirit. All of us must realize that it was by receiving His baptism from John the Baptist that Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament.

Insofar as God’s providence for the salvation of mankind is concerned, we must all know and believe, without fail, how profound this Truth is. What I am explaining to you here is the relationship between the ministry of Jesus and that of John the Baptist. By necessity, these ministries of Jesus and John the Baptist had to fulfill the will of God the Father in union. And had John the Baptist not testified Jesus as the Savior, and had he not passed the sins of the world to Him by baptizing Him, Jesus could not have fulfilled His ministry that blotted out all the sins of the world.

It is because Jesus was testified by John the Baptist as “the Lamb of God who carries the sin of the world” that we could have been saved from our sins by believing in it. This is how you and I could have been cleansed from all our sins today by placing our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.

We can believe in the true gospel wholly when we believe wholly in the Scripture passage that describes who John the Baptist is. To do so, we should open the Bible to Malachi 3:1, confirm this passage with our eyes, and then believe that this messenger of God was none other than John the Baptist. Only then can we also confidently preach and explain the role of the John the Baptist and that of Jesus when we testify the gospel power of the water and the Spirit to everyone else.

Malachi 3:1 states, “‘Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,’ Says the LORD of hosts.”

Who is the messenger here in this passage? The Lord of hosts said here that He would send His servant to this world, and in Matthew 11:10 in the New Testament, Jesus Himself bore witness of this passage of the Old Testament. When we compare these two passages with one another, we can see clearly that God’s messenger is none other than John the Baptist whom Jesus Himself testified. Who do we think John the Baptist was? The very messenger of God, whom He had promised to send to us in the Old Testament, was the John the Baptist.



The Ministry That Was Absolutely Indispensable to Blot Out the Sins of This World

Let us read the latter parts of Malachi 3:1 again: “And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming.” The Messenger of the covenant prophesied here refers to Jesus Christ. So the prophecy of the Old Testament was to be fulfilled by John the Baptist and Jesus Christ as they were sent to this earth according to the will of God the Father. This passage is related to another prophesy that says, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Elsewhere in Isaiah 53:5, it is written, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” This tells us that Jesus Christ, the Son of God promised in the Old Testament, would come to this earth and cleanse away all the sin of mankind as white as snow.

God continued to say in Malachi 3:2-3, “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire And like launderers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the LORD An offering in righteousness.”

Just as God had promised us with this passage, “He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the LORD an offering in righteousness,” this Word of promise has actually been fulfilled now.

In the New Testament, as Jesus Christ took upon all the sins of this world by being baptized by John the Baptist and shed His blood, He accomplished our salvation from all our sins. This passage speaks of the power of the remission of all the sins of mankind that Jesus Christ actually fulfilled by being baptized by John and shedding His blood.

God said in Malachi 3:2, “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears?” Who could stand against Jesus Christ when He came to this earth? Who could prevent Him from fulfilling His ministry that remitted away all the sins of mankind by coming to this earth, being baptized by John, and shedding His blood?

Once, people had seized Jesus and tried to kill Him by pushing Him over a cliff, but He went His way with great dignity passing through the midst of them (Luke 4:28-30). We have to know Him as the Magnificent God Himself.

Our Lord took upon our sins once for all by the gospel power of the water and the Spirit, blotted them all out with the power of this gospel through His crucifixion, and will come back to take away those who believe in this. Who among the unbelievers, then, could possibly stand before God in this Day of Judgment? It is written, “Who can stand when He appears?” Only those who have received the remission of their sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit can stand before Him. No one else can stand before Him. If we stand before Jesus Christ on this day with all our sins remaining in us, we will all be destroyed.

Malachi 3:2 says, “For He is like a refiner’s fire And like launderers’ soap.” Who is He here? It is Jesus Christ the only Savior who has blotted out the sins of mankind like a refiner’s fire and launderers’ soap. This passage is prophesying, in other words, that Jesus Christ would wash away everyone’s sins by being baptized, and that He would cleanse everyone’s heart by shedding His blood.

My fellow believers, when our Lord came to this earth, He took upon all the sins of mankind once for all by receiving His baptism from John the Baptist. And He carried these sins of the world to the Cross, was crucified, died on the Cross, rose from the dead, and has thereby saved us from the sins of the world and their condemnation. This is how Jesus Christ has blotted out everyone’s sins. Jesus is the Savior who has at once cleansed away all the sins of everyone who believes in God, like launderers’ soap. Just as our clothes are thoroughly cleansed when we wash them with soap, anyone who believes in the gospel power of the water and the Spirit can wash away all his sins, and he can be delivered from all his condemnation of sin. Everyone who believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit will be remitted from all their sins to complete perfection.

Yet despite this, countless Christians still have sin in their hearts even though they profess to believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior, for they do not know the gospel power of the water and the Spirit.

Not all the nuggets of gold on this earth are pure gold. To turn them into 100% pure gold, they must first be refined. To do so, the gold nuggets are placed in a furnace and heated up with raging fire below. When the nuggets are thus completely melted, all impurities float above. Only when these impurities are removed with appropriate tools do the nuggets turn into pure gold; if they are not removed, then it is not pure gold. Likewise, just as these gold nuggets go through the refining process that removes all the impurities, it is because Jesus took upon all the sins of the world by being baptized by John and shed His blood for us that all our sins of the world were completely blotted out. It is by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that all of us can have our sins blotted out.

Malachi 3:3 goes onto say, “He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the LORD An offering in righteousness.” This tells us that the Lord has purified the sons of Levi from their sins. Spiritually speaking, the sons of Levi here refer to the saints who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.

The people of Israel were composed of twelve tribes: Jacob had twelve sons, and the descendants of these sons constituted the twelve tribes of Israel. Among these tribes, the descendants of Levi were especially chosen to serve God as the priests who were entirely devoted themselves to the duties in the Tabernacle. So only these descendants of Levi could become priests before God. And God first cleansed their sins through the sacrificial system of the Tabernacle.

Likewise, in today’s age also, God has enabled His believers to serve Him by first washing away all the sins of their hearts with the gospel power of the water and the Spirit, as gold is refined and as clothes are washed with soap to turn perfectly white.

God said in Malachi 3:3, “They may offer to the LORD An offering in righteousness.” Our Lord came to this earth and together with the assistance of John the Baptist, He accepted our sins by being baptized, shed His blood, and has thereby blotted them all out. John the Baptist passed all the sins of the mankind to Jesus at once by baptizing Him, and Jesus Christ, by accepting these sins once for all by receiving this baptism from John the Baptist, dying on the Cross, and rising from the dead again, has perfectly washed all the sins of mankind. Everyone in this world who believes in God and in this gospel power of the water and the Spirit, irrespective of whether he is insufficient or not, can be completely remitted from all his sins by the power of the baptism and bloodshed of our Lord.

Because Jesus was baptized and shed His blood for us, He could wash away all our sins to perfection. By being baptized by John and shedding His blood, Jesus has washed away mankind’s sins as if they were bleached out. Our Lord has washed away all our sins as white as snow, just as clothes are washed with soap. Our Lord, in other words, has cleansed away all our sins once for all with the gospel of the water and the Spirit.

Our Lord came to this earth and took upon our sins by being baptized by John the Baptist. To believe so does not imply that John the Baptist is another Savior to us. John the Baptist was the last prophet of the Old Testament and the representative of mankind, and he was the last earthly High Priest who was sent to this world to fulfill all the Old Testament’s Word of prophecy, and especially the prophecy about the Elijah to come.

As John the Baptist, who came to this earth six months prior to the coming of Jesus Christ, gave baptism to Jesus, all the sins of this world were passed onto Him. Therefore, all the prophecies of the Old Testament about Jesus were perfectly fulfilled with the appearance of John the Baptist, the baptism that he gave to Jesus, and through the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When Jesus came to this earth, He perfectly blotted out all the sins of mankind by accepting them through His baptism. By taking upon the sins of the world, dying on the Cross, and rising from the dead again, Jesus has become our perfect Savior. Now, whoever believes this Truth can be saved from all his sins. And by thus becoming our Savior, Jesus fulfilled the will of God the Father to perfection.

We must all know the truth that it was through the assisting role of John the Baptist that Jesus took upon the sins of the world. All of us must realize just how indispensable of a role the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus played for our remission of sin, and we must believe in this. Moreover, we also need to recognize and believe that it was to blot out all the sins of mankind that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. We must believe that it was because Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist that He could shed His blood on the Cross, and thereby wash away all our sins. In the gospel of the water and the Spirit is the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament, and the providence of salvation that fulfilled the will of God the Father is found.

The gospel of the water and the Spirit entails the indispensable role of John the Baptist, and this gospel embodies the Truth that through this role of John the Baptist, Jesus accomplished all the Word of the Old Testament, and has thereby become, once for all, the perfect Savior for all who believe in this. Together with this role of John the Baptist, in other words, Jesus Christ fulfilled all the promises of the Old Testament. We must believe that Jesus, by being baptized, has washed away all our sins of the world and completely bleached out everyone else’s sins, as white as snow.

My fellow believers, do you believe this? Do you believe that Jesus Christ has cleansed away all our sins of the world by being baptized and shedding His blood? Jesus indeed accepted all the sins of mankind and washed them all away by receiving His baptism from John the Baptist. With this baptism, Jesus accepted each and every sin of this world, leaving none behind whatsoever, washed them all away, and was condemned for all of them.

When Jesus came to this earth, He did not work all alone by Himself, but to take upon the sins of the world in fulfillment of all the Word of the Old Testament, He was baptized by John the Baptist, the earthly High Priest. By receiving this baptism He accomplished all the prophecies of atonement in the Old Testament with His own body. It was by being baptized to accept the sins of mankind, shedding His blood, and rising from the dead that Jesus has forever washed away all our sins once for all. This is the very gospel of the water and the Spirit.

With this gospel of the water and the Spirit, Jesus has wiped out all the sins of every true believer clean. Through His baptism, Jesus accepted all the sins of this world without any exception whatsoever, carried them all to the Cross, and shed His blood to death to be condemned for these sins, rose from the dead again, and has thereby washed away all our sins as white as snow once for all. Do you all believe this?

In Matthew 11, when John the Baptist had sent his disciples to Jesus, He answered their question and sent them back to John, and then said the following to the crowd: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed?A man clothed in soft garments? Or a prophet? Yes, you will see My prophet whom I sent. He is none other than John the Baptist. He is the greatest of all those born of women. He is the representative of mankind. But he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he. John the Baptist is the representative of mankind, but if he comes before God only with his righteousness, he is lesser than anyone of the born-again.”

Jesus then said, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”

From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has suffered violence, and our Lord continued to say, “The violent take it by force.” This passage does not mean that the mighty would beat up the guards of Heaven, open its gates, and force themselves in.

Now is the time that the gospel of the water and the Spirit has to show its full power. No one can enter the Kingdom of Heaven except the born-again who have cleansed all their sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit (John 3:5). Put differently, we can enter the Kingdom of God only by believing in this gospel ministry of the water and the Spirit.

This is why Jesus said that the time to enter Heaven began from the days of John the Baptist. Because John the Baptist passed all the sins of mankind to Jesus by baptizing Him, Jesus indeed accepted them all, and because of this, our Lord accepted all our sins, washed them all away, and bore all their condemnation on the Cross. Anyone who believes in this Truth will receive the remission of his sins precisely because he believes so, and he will enter Heaven by this faith.

What Jesus said here by no means implies that Heaven is a place where only the mighty in the flesh can enter. Far from it, He meant to tell us that only the people of faith who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit can enter Heaven.

People who do not know the gospel power of the water and the Spirit are doubtful of the passage from Matthew 11:12, which says, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” They are perplexed by it, thinking, “Aren’t the violent plunderers?”

When it says here that the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, this refers to our bold faith in the righteousness of God that enables us to take Heaven as ours. It is telling us, in other words, that those who have faith in the gospel power of the water and the Spirit can make Heaven theirs. It is by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit before God, and only by this faith, that we can turn the Kingdom of Heaven into our own. We cannot enter Heaven with our own righteousness. If we are to stand before God only with our own merits and demerits, none of us can stand upright there. However, when we put on His perfect righteousness by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we can then be bold enough to enter Heaven and stand before God (Galatians 3:27). Everyone who believes in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit can make Heaven his.

What about you then? Do you not want to make the Kingdom of Heaven yours, by placing your faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Have you believed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit until now? Have you believed in the ministry of Jesus and the ministry of John the Baptist to make Heaven yours?

Anyone who has not made Heaven his own has failed to do so precisely because he has not placed his faith in the gospel power of the water and the Spirit. You must believe in this Truth. The Truth that enables you to enter Heaven is none other than the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Faith in this gospel of the water and the Spirit is the essence of the Christian faith, for we are justified by faith and faith alone.

This tells us that because John the Baptist passed all the sins of mankind to Jesus by baptizing Him, and because Jesus accepted all these sins through John the Baptist by receiving this baptism, He has blotted out the sins of all who believe in Him, just like clothes are washed with soap and bleached out. By being baptized by John and shedding His blood, our Lord has completely and perfectly wiped out all our sins, like they were bleached out. This is why everyone who believes in the role of John the Baptist and the baptism and bloodshed of Jesus as the Truth of the remission of sin is cleansed of all his sins by faith and can enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the violent of faith, the possessors of bold faith.

The remission of sin is received through faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And we can enter Heaven by believing that Jesus is God Himself, that He is the very God who created us, that He is our Savior, and that He has completely and perfectly blotted all our sins by being baptized. It is by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that we become God’s children and sinless. Jesus and John the Baptist are the very ones who have made it possible for us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven by faith. Do you believe this?

For those who have sin in their hearts now, it is because they have no faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that they remain sinful. By and large, they not only refuse to acknowledge the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but they also deny the very existential significance of John the Baptist.

We need to realize here that to fail to know John the Baptist who worked with Jesus to pass our sins to Him, or to regard him as a failure, is actually the same as to deny Jesus and reject salvation. Such people still retain their sins even as they profess to believe in Jesus, and they still believe in Jesus as their Savior only blindly. These sinners whose hearts still remain sinful believe according to their own subjective thoughts, and this is why their hearts have not been cleansed, and why they continue to struggle with their sins.

A while ago, I was once approached by a Christian group that denounced John the Baptist as a failure, all based on today’s Bible passage. Their argument was that since John the Baptist sent his disciples to Jesus and asked Him, “Are You the coming One, or do we look for another?” this could only mean that John the Baptist doubted that Jesus was the Savior. They could not avoid but completely misunderstand John’s words because they considered him to have failed, and this is why they made such a claim.

If one does not understand the role of John the Baptist and just how important his ministry was, he is bound to end up with such a misunderstanding. Had these people had even the slightest understanding of the Old Testament, and had they known that the ministry of John the Baptist was prophesied and written in detail in the Book of Malachi, they would not have reached this fallacious interpretation. The same goes for us, too. If we had not properly understood the role of John the Baptist and the ministry of Jesus, we could not have understood the gospel of the water and the Spirit, either. If this were indeed the case, just how gruesome would its consequences have been?

Some disciples of John still did not believe in Jesus as their Messiah to come. That’s why John the Baptist had sent his disciples to Jesus so that they themselves would see who Jesus was, hear His Word with their own ears, and believe in Him and follow Him. If one does not understand the ministry of John the Baptist, he cannot understand the true gospel, and if he does not understand this gospel properly, he cannot know Jesus properly, and as a result, he will ultimately drift far away from the Truth and end up incapable of believing in any truth at all.

This is why the passage in Malachi is so important. Of course, every passage in the entire Old Testament is important, but the Book of Malachi is particularly significant, because it prophesies the coming Jesus and the coming of John the Baptist, God’s servant who would baptize Jesus. It is with this Book of Malachi that the prophecies of the Old Testament end.

After the Prophet Malachi, no servant of God appeared for over 400 years. It was after this hiatus that John the Baptist made his appearance. Where did he appear? He made his appearance in the wilderness. Having thus shown himself, John the Baptist shouted to the Israelites of his time, “Repent, you brood of vipers!” He was a servant of God who was clothed with camel’s hair, and ate locusts and wild honey. John the Baptist was a true messenger of God.

All of you must have a firm grasp of the fact that John the Baptist fulfilled his role, which was to baptize Jesus. The prophesies about John was written in the Book of Malachi and the Book of Isaiah. Citing Isaiah 40:3, Matthew 3:3 states, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.’” As we have seen in these prophecies, it is written that John the Baptist would come to this earth, and that He and Jesus Christ would together blot out all the sins of this world.

Our Lord said in Malachi that He would purify the sons of Levi. This means that He would completely and perfectly blot out all the sins of all those who believe in the gospel ministry of the water and the Spirit. Our Lord was prophesying, in other words, that this is how He would make us give the offering of righteousness to God, and that He would make us take and offer this faith of ours, the very faith in the Truth that God has blotted out our sins, as our own offering for Him.

Jesus Himself said in Matthew 11:13, “All the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” The prophecies of the Old Testament lasted until the role of John the Baptist was completed. The Old Testament prophesied how Jesus would come to this earth and how He would take upon our sins, and this Old Testament lasted until the days of John. As this John baptized Jesus and Jesus received this baptism, He took upon all the sins of mankind and has thereby saved us from our sins. As Jesus actually took away all our sins to fulfill all the prophecies of the Old Testament, the New Testament began to unfold. Therefore, it is when we believe in this Word of both the Old and New Testaments in one that we are saved.

Jesus continued to say in verse 14, “And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.” The Prophet Elijah whose coming the Book of Malachi had prophesied is none other than John the Baptist. There can be no doubt then, but it is only crystal clear, that we have to be rejoiced to accept the Word of this prophecy, the Word of the fulfillment of this prophecy, into our hearts.

Some people might then ask, “Where is this Elijah specifically mentioned in the Old Testament’s prophecy?” Let us turn to Malachi 4:5-6 for its answer. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6).

When it says here, “Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD,” it means ‘before the arrival of the Day of Judgment.’ So God said here that He would send this Elijah before the advent of the Day of Judgment, and in Matthew 11:14, on the other hand, Jesus said, “And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.” Both passages are speaking of the exactly same Elijah to come. Who is “he” that Jesus spoke of here then? It is definitely John the Baptist.

The Old Testament is all about the Word of prophecy and promise, and the New Testament is all about the fulfillment of this Word of prophecy and promise.

Just as God had promised to send Elijah, John the Baptist was born on this earth six months before Jesus was born. What is more, he was born by the amazing work of God’s providence. John was not just born into an ordinary family, but he was born into the house of the High Priest. His father, Zacharias, was a descendant of Aaron (Luke 1:5). This means that John the Baptist himself also belonged to the house of Aaron the High Priest. Our Lord is the God who actually fulfills everything that He promises to His servants exactly according to His promises, and true to His faithfulness, He began His work of salvation with the birth of John the Baptist, just as He had promised in the Old Testament.

In the Book of Leviticus in the Old Testament, God had promised the people of Israel that He would forgive their sins when the High Priest passed their sins onto the sacrificial animal by laying his hands on its head, cut its throat and drew its blood, put this blood on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and poured it on the ground, carried the blood into the Most Holy of the Sanctuary of God, and sprinkled it to the east of the Ark of the Testimony (Leviticus 16). God had promised that this is how He would forgive the sins of mankind.

Exactly according to this prophecy, Jesus Christ indeed came to this earth, accepted our sins by being baptized by John the Baptist, was condemned for our sins by dying on the Cross, and thereby blotted all our sins clean. By doing all these things, He has become our Savior.

 “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? To see a reed? A man clothed in soft garments? Or to see a prophet? You are right if you went out to see a servant of God. There in the wilderness is the representative of mankind, and in this wilderness you will be able to see John the Baptist, the greatest of all men. He is none other than Elijah. I had promised to send you My servant Elijah, and this Elijah is John the Baptist. It is John the Baptist who fulfills Elijah’s role. John is God’s servant who enables all to enter His Kingdom by gathering them all to Me and testifying to them all, ‘Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior who accepted all the sins of mankind, died on the Cross, rose from the dead again, and has thereby saved mankind from their sins. He is the Messiah.’”

When John the Baptist came to this earth, he fulfilled two important ministries: He passed our sins to Jesus Christ, and he bore witness to our Savior. How amazing are these ministries? Through the assistance of John the Baptist, Jesus was able to fulfill the Word of promise. We can now realize that it was through John the Baptist that Jesus fulfilled all the Word of the Old Testament, that John’s testimony confirmed just how Jesus could fulfill all this Word of the Old Testament, and that God has truthfully completed our salvation through the ministries of Jesus and John the Baptist. Through John the Baptist, we can grasp that he and Jesus fulfilled the promise of God. Do you believe this?

This is why when we preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we cannot leave out the role of John the Baptist. If anyone says that John the Baptist was a failure, or underestimates his importance, then he is neither a servant of God, nor one of His people.

My fellow believers, by being baptized and shedding His blood, Jesus has blotted out all our sins clean. You all probably know what is meant by bleaching, especially if you are women. When you do your laundry, what happens if you use bleach to wash your clothes? They turn sparkling white. This is called bleaching.

In pre-modern Korea, people used lye to wash heavily stained clothes. In those days, Koreans wore only white garments, so much so that Korea was called as ‘a nation of white garments.’ These white garments, of course, got soiled in time and turned rather yellowish. They would then put these garments into a huge pot with some lye as bleach and boil them. After this, they would take out the garments, and wash them again with soap, beating them with a paddle. The garments would then turn as white as possible.

Like this, Jesus has blotted out all our sins as completely as possible, all thanks to the fact that He took upon our sins by being baptized by John the Baptist, and died on the Cross for us. He has wiped them all out, so that there is nothing more to remove. He has blotted out all our sins perfectly and forever.

This is how Jesus has become our Savior. It is what the extremely important passage from Matthew 11:1-14 is all about. When we actually testify the gospel to other souls, we often skim through this passage in a cursory manner, but I believe that you must have a detailed understanding of this passage for your faith to be strengthened even more in your hearts.

This faith that you and I have is truly precious. It is not just a handful of people in a couple of countries who have been born again through this Word. There are many souls throughout the whole world who have received the remission of their sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. All these people and we have likewise received the remission of sin by believing in the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus. You never have to be ashamed of this faith. On the contrary, this faith is so dignified and honorable that we can all preach it without the slightest hesitation.

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I can proclaim this Truth to everyone throughout the whole world with the utmost confidence. I can shout it out in a loud voice to every pastor and every theologian in this entire world: “Everyone, no matter who, must know the gospel power of the water and the Spirit and believe in it.”

We the born-again are not perfect in our flesh, but spiritually, we are the most righteous in this entire world. I believe in this. I believe that our faith is the greatest faith in the world and it has absolutely no defect. I believe that we are the spiritual Levites, and that just as the Levites had cleansed the whole nation of Israel by faith, we the righteous have become the High Priests and are giving the offering of righteousness to God to cleanse all the people of the world with the gospel of the water and the Spirit.

My fellow believers, do you really believe in the gospel power of the water and the Spirit? To offer this true faith to God is to offer Him our proper and pure offering. This faith in the gospel power of the water and the Spirit is the very faith that enables us to take Heaven as ours; it is this faith that can turn us into the instruments of righteousness; and it is this faith that makes it possible for us to become God’s workers. This kind of faith is the very proper offering to God.

I give all my thanks to God for giving us such faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.

 

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