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 Sermons on important subjects by Rev. Paul C. Jong

 

We Are Justified Only by Pure Faith 


< Galatians 2:11-21 >

“Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, ‘If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.’”



Before I begin my sermon on this passage, let us together read Galatians 5:2-3: “Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.” I asked you here to read Galatians 5:2-3 so that we can first examine the background and the reason why the Apostle Paul wrote Galatians, and then I can proceed with my sermon on chapter 2.

What was the problem that the churches of Galatia faced? Unlike the Corinthian church, the problem for the churches of Galatia was over the issue of circumcision. In the Galatian churches, there were many who were circumcised, and many who also insisted on physical circumcision. In other words, in the churches of Galatia there were those who insisted on circumcision, arguing that anyone who comes into their churches must be circumcised. This obviously raised a great deal of the Apostle Paul’s concern.

The people of Israel believed that to be circumcised was a sign of being Abraham’s descendants, that is, God’s people. But the problem was that in these churches of Galatia, there were both Jews and Gentiles mixed together. So, when some insisted on circumcision, many were in fact circumcised. Seeing what was happening in the Galatian churches, the Apostle Paul deemed that this would become a great problem if it were left alone as it was. This is why he had to admonish the Galatian believers with this epistle. As we just read, Paul said, “If you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.” By this passage, Paul was saying, “If you become circumcised, what profit would Christ bring to you? Did you become God’s people by being circumcised? If so, then what has Jesus Christ done for you?”

Actually, circumcision brings no benefit. Quite on the contrary, it would render one cut off from the grace of God. Paul was saying, “Those who insist on the circumcision of the flesh and those who seek to be physically circumcised have the duty to follow the entire Law of God. This then means that you must keep the whole Law, but can you really do this?” So the Apostle Paul, in other words, was writing a letter of nourishment to the circumcisionists in the churches of Galatia. The Pauline Epistles addressed spiritual problems that each church had, and as far as the churches in Galatia were concerned, Paul came to write this epistle to Galatians because of those who claimed that they could become God’s people by being circumcised in the flesh.

When we examine today’s Scripture passage with this understanding of the background, we can grasp more clearly what the passage is trying to tell us.

Let us read Galatians 2:11-13 again: “Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.”

Paul said here that when Peter had come to Antioch, he withstood him to his face, because Peter was to be blamed. Why did Paul reproach Peter? It was because Peter had been hypocritical. What hypocrisy, then, did Peter commit? This happened when Peter was eating with the Gentiles. Certain men from James came to Peter, and these men were circumcisionists. The circumcisionists were those who, while believing in Jesus, insisted that the believers had to be circumcised. So when the circumcisionists came, fearing them, Peter stopped eating with the Gentiles and ran away in haste. This was why Paul, seeing this, reproached Peter. When we examine today’s Scripture passage, we can find that Peter was so fearful of the circumcisionists that when they came while he was eating and having fellowship with the Gentiles, he even ran away from them in hurry.

The circumcisionists, whom even Peter feared, continued to argue that even the saints must be circumcised to become God’s people. And claiming that the uncircumcised were not qualified to be God’s people, they urged them to be physically circumcised just as Abraham was. What was the basis of such an argument? It was the notion that only the circumcised were approved as God’s people. It was because Peter was mindful of these circumcisionists that he withdrew himself.

This shows that the circumcisionists had that much influence in the Church. It so happened, then, that many believers in the churches of Galatia came to be circumcised. The Apostle Paul was incensed. He was exasperated because the circumcisionists were so influential that there seemed to be no way to stop them. Even Peter had run away here. The circumcisionists insisted that while people had to believe in Jesus, all males also had to be circumcised without fail, and they gave no recognition to the uncircumcised, even if they were saints. They exalted only the circumcised.

Let’s turn to Galatians 2:14-16 here: “But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, ‘If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.’”

The Apostle Paul here reproached Peter for his hypocrisy, saying, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, how can you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?” And Paul said that a man could not be justified by the works of the Law. In saying these things, Paul sought to correct the fallacy of circumcisionists with his faith in Jesus Christ. As the circumcisionists was becoming influential, Paul wanted to challenge them and correct their mistakes, and here such an opportunity presented itself. The Apostle Paul began by rebuking Peter at first, but soon he expanded his speech to criticize the fallacies and mistakes of circumcisionists.

He declared first, “A man is not justified by the works of the law.” Here, Paul made “the works of the Law” an object of his criticism because he wanted to underscore the point that one does not become righteous by being circumcised. The Law itself is very wide and extensive in its contents. In the churches of Galatia, there were Jews, and among these Jews there were circumcisionists who argued that the saints could become God’s people if they were physically circumcised. This is why Paul was telling them here, “It is not by the works of the Law that people become sinless and are turned into God’s own people, but it is only by believing in Jesus Christ that they are justified.” Were this not the case, there is no flesh that can be called as sinless by God. In other words, Paul was rebuking the circumcisionists, making it clear that it is by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that we are justified.

In the days of the Early Church, there were always those who advocated circumcision even in God’s Church. They continued to claim that believers could become God’s people only when they were circumcised. Here, what we need to consider is what the implication of this incidence is. Then, in this age and time, where can we then apply this circumcision case? We can apply it to the faith of those who believe that their sins are blotted out when they offer their prayers of repentance. Today’s advocates of prayers of repentance claim that when a man commits a sin after believing in Jesus, this sin can be blotted out just by offering prayers of repentance.

Then, are our sins really blotted out through prayers of repentance? Paul said here that a man is not justified with the works of the Law, then, can one’s sins really be blotted out if he offers prayers of repentance? No, he may feel comfortable for a short while after praying, but his sins can never be blotted out cleanly and forever by such prayers of repentance. This is why Paul said, “A man is not justified by the works of the Law.” We must realize that this is achieved only by believing in Jesus Christ through the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit. So, Paul said, “Even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law” (Galatians 2:16).

I keep raising this issue repeatedly here because so many Christians throughout the whole world believe that their sins are blotted out when they offer their prayers of repentance. Such insistence does not conform to the Word of God, and yet despite this, prayers of repentance have become pervasive throughout the churches on this earth. None other than this is the same faith of the legalistic circumcisionists, and they are today’s adherents of prayers of repentance. These people are hypocrites, and to try to wash away their sins through their prayers of repentance is clearly wrong before God. However, many Christians throughout the whole world, and even some believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, are still unaware of this.

To claim that a man is justified through his prayers of repentance or through incremental sanctification is the same fallacy of the circumcisionists in today’s Scripture passage who were holding onto physical circumcision to become God’s people. Therefore, it is a complete nonsense to assert that one should first believe in Jesus’ blood of the Cross, and then the sins committed afterwards would be blotted out just by offering prayers of repentance. The Bible clearly states, “A man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ” (Galatians 2:16). In other words, we are justified only because we believe that Jesus Christ has blotted out our sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and it is not by offering prayers of repentance or being circumcised in the flesh that we become sinless. That is never the case. This is what the Apostle Paul is saying here.

Of a billion or so Christians in this world, how many do you think actually know that their sins are not blotted out through their prayers of repentance? It is not prayers of repentance that the righteous must give, but it is their true confession and true repentance that must be made. Today’s prayers of repentance are recognized as a ritual to go through to believe in the Lord and follow Him. Just as Catholics believe that they can somehow be washed from their sins through the sacrament of confession, many Protestants mistakenly believe that their sins are washed away through their prayers of repentance. Because virtually all Christians in the whole wide world are like this, they have no idea just how wrong this belief is. Some of them may have some knowledge, but they are unable to pinpoint it clearly in a biblically sound basis and terms.

It is not by offering prayers of repentance that one becomes sinless, but it is by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that his sins are blotted out as white as snow. Yet who among today’s Christians can say that trusting in prayers of repentance is a mistaken belief? It is wrong to try to wash away sin through prayers of repentance, but who can dare to point this out? Since prayers of repentance have now been officially sanctioned in today’s Christianity as a process of washing away one’s sins, to point out its fallacy is to trigger a reformation of faith that is even more significant than what Luther began when he spoke against the Papacy and ushered in the Reformation. People believe that to wash away the sins they have committed after believing in the blood of the Cross, there is no other way but to give prayers of repentance, but Paul is telling us here just how erroneous this is. Every Christians in the world must understand what the Apostle Paul said to Galatian churches: “If you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing” (Galatians 5:2).

Christians throughout the world are trying to receive the remission of their sins through prayers of repentance. Just how wrong is this? Regardless of whether you believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, if you profess to believe in Jesus as your Savior, then you must realize that the belief that you can be remitted from your sins through your prayers of repentance is to be cut off from Christ—in fact, you are already removed from Christ.

Among the Jews, males were approved as God’s people if they were circumcised. As soon as Jewish males were physically circumcised, they were immediately recognized as God’s people. What about the uncircumcised Jews then? They were not treated as Jews. For the Jewish people, circumcision was the sign of God’s people. Indeed, God had promised in the Old Testament, “I will be your God and the God of your descendants, but you and your descendants must be circumcised.” So it is said in the Old Testament that circumcision is the sign of God’s people.

In the age of the New Testament, then, what did the Apostle Paul say in Romans 2? He said, “Circumcision is that of the heart” (Romans 2:29). He said that it was not in the flesh that one should be circumcised, but in the heart. By believing that Jesus Christ has blotted out our sins through His baptism and bloodshed, we must be spiritually circumcised in our hearts by our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. In other words, we must receive our true salvation by believing with the heart that Jesus took upon all our sins by being baptized by John the Baptist, died on the Cross, and has thereby saved us from all the sins of the world.

It is because Jesus Christ came to this earth and has saved us from the sins of the world through the gospel of the water and the Spirit that we are saved by believing in this Truth; it is not through our own prayers of repentance that our sins are washed away. Because He has saved us perfectly through His righteous acts, we have come to be saved through our faith in this perfect gospel, become God’s people, without sin and one with Christ, and are justified. There is no other way to become His people other than this. No saint can blot out any of his sins through prayers of repentance, and they can never become God’s people by being circumcised in the flesh. To believe otherwise is a complete nonsense.

Your spiritual circumcision comes from your faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, not from any other works of your own. When you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, and when you believe that Jesus has saved you by being baptized, dying on the Cross, and rising from the dead again, then you can receive the remission of your sins once for all. There is no other way to receive the remission of our sins but only by believing that Jesus Christ has blotted out our sins. God has never given us any other such means.

No matter how some Christians might have been filled with inspiration, no matter how they might have seen visions, and no matter how they might have heard the voice of the Lord in their dreams or even while awake, these are all useless. Regardless of how diligently anyone might offer prayers of repentance to Jesus, how faithfully he might attend morning prayer meetings, and how lawfully he might be circumcised, these things have nothing to do with his salvation. Faithfully keeping the Sabbath or any other festivities of the Old Testament is also completely irrelevant to one’s salvation.

It is completely and only through faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that our salvation comes by. Only by believing in Jesus Christ as our Savior who came through the water and the Spirit, can we be truly saved. Our true salvation is received only through our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, containing no effort of our own at all, not even 0.1%. The supposition that we are washed from our sins because we have offered prayers of repentance, or that we become God’s people because we were circumcised—any such supposition that contains our own works even by 0.1% ruins the Lord’s salvation. If our own works are needed even by 0.1% to attain our salvation, this can only mean that Jesus Christ failed to save us perfectly through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Yet Jesus Christ has indeed saved us perfectly from all our sins.

Therefore, if only we believe in Him and what He has done for us, we can be saved from all our sins. There is nothing for us to do. There is nothing else and no other way but to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with our hearts. Yet in spite of this, if any still seeks to be circumcised in the flesh or to give prayers of repentance, he is asking to fall away from the grace of God. He is someone who is determined to fall away from the grace of God, from the salvation that God has given us.

As such, everyone throughout the world must know the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit, and everyone must stop trying to attain his salvation through his own efforts. Among those of you who are now in this Church, and all the Christians throughout the world as well, those who might have believed that their sins were blotted out because they gave prayers of repentance must realize that they have committed a great sin against God. They must now lay down their carnal faith and instead believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And they must realize clearly just how fallacious such beliefs are.

Offering prayers of repentance may seem like a highly virtuous and good thing to do, but nothing is more wicked than that. It is not prayers of repentance that should be given, but we should repent first. For us to repent is to actually turn around from our evil deeds. We must first repent before God, and if we really want to confess our sins, then we should say prayers of confession. We should confess before God and pray to Him like this, “I’ve committed these sins. Yet You have already saved me from these sins also. I am sure You have already blotted out even these sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Please, hold me not to be tempted by such inequities again.” This is the right prayer of confession when we recognize our sins. We can never be blotted out from our personal sins by offering prayers of repentance.

If you had been going in a certain direction, and you realize that this was wrong, then you must turn around and try to find the correct way. As such people have to turn around from the wrong ways of their faith and find the right way to believe in Him properly. Prayers of repentance, where people say only with their words, “I’ve done wrong. Please forgive me, then I’ll never do such things again. I believe,” are fallacious.

Yet in Christianity today, there are those who still claim that they can wash away their sins through their prayers of repentance, and these people are turning themselves into great enemies of God. It is completely fallacious to believe that one can wash away his sins through his prayers of repentance. Just because a man, having committed sin, says, “Lord, I’m sorry. Please forgive me,” it does not mean that his sins are blotted out. This remains the case no matter how he might rely on the Lord’s blood on the Cross. That is because he is ignoring the merits of the Lord contained in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Trying to wash away one’s sins through his own prayers of repentance is to trample on the love of God. And it is to remove the righteousness of God and front one’s own righteousness, and therefore extremely flawed.

The reason why Christianity throughout the world is in so much trouble is because of the doctrine of repentance. So even if one knows and believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, if he is swept away by such a current, his faith is over.

Now then, what is the difference between someone who believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and someone who believes that his sins are washed away through his own prayers of repentance? We have to know this clearly. Only when we know this difference can we realize what is so wrong with prayers of repentance and end this practice. And only then can we preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to those who are diligently but uselessly offering their prayers of repentance. If we want to say to them that they are wrong to rely on prayers of repentance, we must first have a clear understanding of the issues at hand; without such a clear understanding, we can’t tell them to receive the remission of sins by believing in the true gospel. If we don’t realize ourselves what’s wrong with prayers of repentance, then we obviously can’t tell others about that.

Sun Tzu, an ancient Chinese strategist, said in his Art of War, “Know yourself and your opponents, and you will never lose.” Likewise, only when we first point out and explain in detail what is wrong with their faith and then preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit, would they agree with us. What we must realize first is that if someone believes that he can wash away his sins through his prayers of repentance, ultimately we cannot preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to him. Most Christians throughout the whole world are trying to receive the remission of their sins by offering prayers of repentance. This is why we must first have a clear understanding of the fallacies of this doctrine of prayers of repentance. So this point cannot be overemphasized.

It is no exaggeration to say that those who claim that they are washed from their sins by giving prayers of repentance do not believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by Jesus Christ. Therefore, to anyone who has this kind of faith, we must clearly preach this gospel of the water and the Spirit. Such people whose faith is placed in their own prayers of repentance for their salvation are utterly mistaken, and so they must throw out such a lawless belief first. Then, they must believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, for only by believing in this true gospel can they be saved. To preach this Truth to others, you must first confirm in your hearts that you have been saved from all your sins by believing in the Jesus Christ who came to this earth through the water and the Spirit. If you yourselves are not clear about this, then you cannot preach the gospel to those Christians who believe that they are remitted from their sins through their own prayers of repentance.

“But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor” (Galatians 2:17-18).

If, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves are also found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Paul said this is certainly not the case. What the Apostle Paul is saying here is that the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit can never become sinners again, if they believe in Jesus properly realizing that the circumcision of the flesh has no effect. In other words, if only one casts aside the faith of his own works and believes in Jesus Christ as His Savior who came by the water and the Spirit, then he is a righteous man, and can never be a sinner.

Paul the Apostle continued to say, “For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.” He meant the Law, especially the physical circumcision, by “those things which I destroyed.” Therefore, here in this passage, the phrase, “if I build again those things which I destroyed,” refers to the attempt to become God’s people by being circumcised in the flesh. Since this is trying to receive the remission of sins by keeping and practicing the Law, Paul says that it would turn anyone who does so into a transgressor who sins against God. Paul makes the same assertion again in Galatians 3 and in Romans 4. When did Abraham become a righteous man? Since Abraham already believed in the Word of God, his faith was accounted for righteousness long before he was circumcised. This tells us that Abraham was already approved by God for his faith in God’s Word back then and had become a righteous man. It is only when one believes in the Word of God that he becomes righteous.

What, then, comes first? Is it being circumcised in the flesh, or is it having faith in the Word of blessings that God promised Abraham? Abraham believed in God’s Word of promise that He would make his descendants as many as the stars in the sky. This is how Abraham’s faith was approved. Long before Abraham was circumcised in the flesh, God gave His Word of blessings to Abraham and he believed in this promise. It was because Abraham believed in God’s Word of promise before being circumcised that God accounted him for righteousness owing to his faith, and then promising him that He would become the God of his descendants, He told Abraham to be circumcised in the flesh as a sign of this promise. God said that the physical circumcision is the sign of the spiritual circumcision that he received through his faith in God’s Word.

Therefore, now this means that God is still saying to our hearts that you and I can become His children just by believing in the gospel Word, thanks to Jesus Christ who came through the water and the Spirit. It is by our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that we receive the remission of our sins and become righteous all at once. “If I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor” (Galatians 2:18). If, having already been saved by believing in Jesus Christ who came through the water and the Spirit in our hearts, we have to be circumcised once again, what would this entails? It would nullify the merits of Jesus Christ, which satisfied all the just requirements of the Law.

We can never become sinless by being physically circumcised. Just as Abraham’s faith was approved when he believed in God’s Word, it is not by being circumcised in the flesh or offering prayers of repentance that our sins are blotted out. Rather, we are washed from our sins once for all and become righteous by believing with our hearts in Jesus Christ who came through the gospel of the water and the Spirit as our Savior. Do you believe this? None other than this is to be justified by faith. We can become righteous only by faith. It is by faith that we are approved by God, and it is by faith that we are saved and justified. When we have been justified only by believing with our hearts in the God-given gospel of the water and the Spirit, in what He has done for us, how could we revert back to religious practices that belong to works, not to faith? This is why we say that our justification comes by faith. Justification by faith means that we attain the righteousness of God by believing in His Word.

The Apostle Paul made it clear that one is not saved by being physically circumcised. Receiving physical circumcision cannot save us; rather, it is by receiving spiritual circumcision that we can attain our salvation—that is, by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Spiritual circumcision means receiving the remission of sin into the heart by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. By this spiritual circumcision, we can cut off all our sins from our hearts, as Abraham cut off his foreskin with a flint knife. This is what the Apostle Paul was talking about.

Let’s turn to Galatians 2:19. “For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.” The Apostle Paul declared that he died to the Law. He didn’t say that he was trying to practice the Law. Why? If one stands before the Law, only his sins are revealed, because the Law is absolutely holy, just, and good (Romans 7:12). So, the Bibles says, “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). In other words, through the Law only Paul’s sins were revealed, and he realized that he was to be destroyed.

This is why the Apostle Paul, far from defending the Law, said that through the Law he died to the Law. He said that he was put to death, so that he would live to God. This meant that the Apostle Paul acknowledged the Word of God. He acknowledged the majestic Word of God, the Word of Truth. The Law cannot be kept no matter how hard one might try. This is because the requirements of the Law are so absolutely demanding, if one were to be accounted as righteous by keeping the Law, he must not only be circumcised, but also keep all the festivities and obey all the 613 statutes that specify what he must and must not do in his life.

Therefore, Paul could not avoid but admit that he was simply incapable of keeping the Law, and confessed that whereas the Law of God was so perfect and just, he was too filthy, unclean, and inevitably bound to be destroyed. This is why he came to confess that far from keeping the Law, he died to the Law. When he realized the real entity of the Law, He did not try to practice the Law any more, rather, he confessed that he was to die because of the perfect requirements of the Law of God, and he believed so accordingly. This was for him to live toward God by faith. Put differently, Paul realized that he could never be saved from his sins except by God, and he could not but believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit so that God may save him. He said that he died to the Law, so that he might meet his Savior and receive the salvation given by Him. And through Jesus Christ, he came to receive new life by the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Such beliefs of Paul were the very beliefs that made it possible for him to attain justification, the right faith.

My fellow believers, if you don’t understand Galatians correctly, you can’t even come near the Truth. You may think, “So there were circumcisionists in the old days. I suppose they were all bothering Paul with the issue of circumcision. Even Peter was playing hypocrisy, and he was reproached before others by Paul, a man junior to him in faith. I guess that’s all there is to it. It’s no big deal.”

However, you must realize that this passage written in the Bible is to teach us some lessons today, and you must understand this Epistle clearly. Were it not for the Book of Galatians, we would not be able to explain, to those who believe that the remission of their sins is received through their own prayers of repentance, just how wrong their faith is in full detail. It is also a mistake to insist blindly, “You are just wrong!” This is only an ‘all or nothing’ perspective, which says, “I am right, and therefore, you are wrong. No reason to give here; that’s just how it is.” But this is all completely unreasonable, as unreasonable as what Hitler claimed when he argued that the German race was superior to all the rest. The right thing to do is to explain, with reason, why, how, and what is wrong with the circumcisionists. Here in today’s Scripture passage, Paul is pointing out plainly just how wrong and hypocritical it was to insist on circumcision. Through these passages of Galatians, today’s Christians can now realize how wrong it is to rely on prayers of repentance and root out their mistaken beliefs.

Let’s read Galatians 2:20. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

This shows the gist of Paul’s faith. He believed in Jesus Christ completely: He didn’t show off his own works, but he believed in Christ’s works with all his heart; and he believed that Jesus Christ came to this earth, took upon his sins through His baptism, was crucified and died for him, rose from the dead again, and thereby brought him to life again. Put differently, Paul believed how Jesus Christ became his perfect Savior in detail.

This is how he came to declare, “I have been crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20). This was the confession of his faith that wholly believed in Jesus as his Savior. It was the confession of faith wholeheartedly believing that Jesus took upon the sins of the world by being baptized by John the Baptist, died on the Cross, rose from the dead again, and has thereby delivered him from all his sins perfectly. It speaks of one’s pure faith. The Apostle Paul said that it was through this faith that he had died with Christ and was brought to life again with Christ. Such was the faith of the Apostle Paul.

My fellow believers, did the Apostle Paul say that your sins are washed away or you can be sanctified through your own prayers of repentance? At that time, when the circumcisionists were insisting that Christians had to be circumcised, the Apostle Paul declared, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). Our salvation, in other words, is reached only by faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit for 100%. So when it comes to our salvation from sin, no work of our own whatsoever must be counted in. There must be not even a penny’s worth of our own works, not even a wit of our own righteousness.

Imagine here that one of our sisters has been losing her hair, and while she was making some soup for us, some of her hair went into the soup. Wouldn’t this be a problem when we are about to eat the soup? If we see a bunch of hair floating in the soup, would any of us be able to eat it? Of course not. Like this, our faith must also be pure. We need the kind of faith that believes purely in Jesus Christ and what He has done for us, neither adding nor subtracting anything at all. If we believe in the God-given gospel of the water and the Spirit as it is, we are all saved exactly according to our faith. It is indispensable to have this faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that believes exactly as it is.

The Apostle Paul’s faith led him to say, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Did Paul say here that he actually did something? No, not a word was said on how he believed only in the blood of the Cross and offered prayers of repentance, how he was circumcised, how he faithfully kept all the festivities, or how he practiced the Law diligently. There was, in other words, absolutely no work of his own to be counted in. All that he had to do was just believe in God and confess, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”

The Apostle Paul got saved just by believing in Jesus and what He had done for him. How pure is his faith? He simply believed. He didn’t say, “But I still did this, and I did that.” He just believed with his heart that Jesus Christ came to this earth as our Savior, was baptized by John the Baptist to save everyone in this world, carried these sins to the Cross and was crucified, and after shedding His blood and dying, rose from the dead again, thereby becoming our Savior. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Do you also believe like this? In the Apostle Paul’s faith, there was no work of his own whatsoever, and he was saved perfectly only by his faith. He was saved by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit exactly as it is. There is no other way to be saved but only by believing.

Paul continued to confess, saying, “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Paul was saved just by believing in Jesus, and his salvation had nothing to do with his work. He did not assert his good deeds before God, nor did he front his faithful prayers, but he only brought his faith alone before God. This is the same faith that Abel had when he offered up his sacrifice with the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. He believed in Jesus Christ, ‘the firstborn of his flock,’ with his pure heart. God was pleased to accept his sacrifice of pure faith, while He did not respect Cain and his offering. Why did God hate to receive Cain’s offering? It was because he offered an offering of the fruit of the ground, the works of his flesh, to the Lord God (Genesis 4:1-5).

The Apostle Paul also believed in Jesus as his perfect Savior, and he believed that while he had no choice but to die and perish before Christ, He loved him so much that He saved Paul by being baptized, dying on the Cross, and rising from the dead again. Like a child, the Apostle Paul thus accepted this Truth as it was and believed in it, and this is how he was saved. You and I must also have this kind of faith. Every Christian in the world must also have this faith.

When we give something eatable to babies, don’t they open their mouths? They open their mouths like chicks. Even when we pull a piece of candy out of our mouths and say, “Ah,” then they reflexively open their mouths. You don’t even have to show anything to them; when you just say to them time to eat, they just open their mouths. That’s because this phrase means that we are about to feed them. To say, “Ah” may sound like a vocal lesson, but to babies, it just means that someone is about to give them something to eat.

We need to have this child-like faith. When God says, “I have saved you. I sent My Son to this earth, and by making Him be baptized, die on the Cross, and rise from the dead again, I had Him bear all the condemnation of sin and wash away your sins completely. And My Son suffered your death in your place, and to bring you back to new life, My Son was resurrected. So My Son has now saved you. Believe in this,” we just have to say, “Yes,” and believe accordingly. As Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me,” we are saved purely by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, not through the Law, nor through our own acts. It was by pure faith that Paul was saved.

Many people may have many different interpretations of today’s Scripture passage, but this passage makes it clear that through the works of the Law, prayers of repentance, circumcision, or any such things, no man can be saved from his sins. Paul was not saved by believing in Jesus and then adding something else on top of this, but he was saved purely by believing and accepting into his heart that Jesus Christ saved him through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, adding nothing to this. This is what Paul is saying in today’s Scripture passage. After the Apostle Paul was saved, did he live by faith in the Son of God or not? Of course he did. This is why he preached the gospel of the water and the Spirit.

Let’s turn to Galatians 2:21 here: “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

Paul said here that he does not set aside the grace of God. This was the faith he now had. He made it clear that his salvation was reached only by faith in God’s grace. This is why he said that if righteousness came through the works of the Law, then Christ had died in vain. If our own works are even slightly added to our becoming sinless, then this can only mean that Jesus died in vain. If such acts as good deeds, offering prayers of repentance, or living virtuously are slightly added even just a little, Christ then died in vain. In other words, all the things that Jesus had done for us while He was on this earth, such as being baptized and dying on the Cross, are rendered completely useless—if, that is, our own works are added to His salvation ever so slightly. We must not set aside the grace of God. We must accept it in thankfulness. We must receive it in thankfulness, give glory in thankfulness, and become united with the Lord in thankfulness. Since we “have been crucified with Christ,” our hearts have joined with Christ.

You and I must be justified by faith, and we must become sinless by faith. By believing that Jesus Christ has saved us, we must become sinless people. Those who believe that God has blotted out their sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit are sinless people. It is this kind of people that we must all become.

“If righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2:21). If we can be washed from our sins through our prayers of repentance, then Jesus Christ came to this earth in vain, He was baptized in vain, and He died on the Cross all in vain. Isn’t this the case?

We need to realize here how these churches of Galatia all perished away. After the Apostle Paul’s death, the churches of Galatia disappeared without a trace. This shows us just how dangerous it is to assert our own works, and to add our works of the Law to our salvation. It is absolutely indispensable for us to realize clearly just how wicked it is to front our own works.

You may think, “But do all works are really bad? Isn’t there anything good among our deeds? I am sure there is something good even in our works.” However, to think like this is also extremely dangerous. “Since our fathers of faith were circumcised, what’s wrong for us to be also circumcised? What’s wrong for us to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and also be circumcised? Let the good traditions be carried forth”—do some of you think like this? But this is utterly wrong. It is nothing more than hypocrisy itself, teaching others to practice hypocrisy also; it is because of this that the gospel of the water and the Spirit is perverted; and it is because of this that countless people perish away. What we had considered to be good before we were born again, what we had considered to be virtuous deeds and decent hearts, they are all wicked in fact. This is why Paul said that about what things had been gain to him, he counted them as loss and even as rubbish for Christ (Philippians 3:7-8).

Didn’t some of you used to hold a seminar called “inner healing”? It’s a very wicked seminar. This is what sets aside the grace of Jesus Christ and rejects it. It’s a bandage solution that tricks us to think, “I’m hurt, but when I think about Jesus Christ, didn’t He suffer far greater injuries for me? My parents hurt me, but weren’t they hurt also?” To be comforted by Jesus Christ for one’s injury and to say that this person also forgives his father is to forgive someone on his own. The subject of forgiveness is oneself. It is oneself that heals his own injury using Jesus Christ, and it is he who forgives others. A while ago I heard a tape of such a seminar, and while it may seem good and decent, it is actually very wicked.

We the Christians throughout the whole world must realize just how fallacious it is to rely on our own works. Whereas anyone can be saved if only he truthfully and purely believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, if his own works, good or bad, are added even slightly, then he cannot be saved. This is why you must cast them aside. If you just accept into your hearts, like a child, what Jesus Christ has done for you, then you will be saved and become God’s children. And if you spread this as it is, others will also be saved. So, it is written, “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him” (Proverbs 30:5). His Word is so pure. I give thanks upon thanks to God.

When we read the Book of Galatians, we can realize clearly that our own good or bad works must never be connected in anyway to our salvation. We can grasp just how wrong it is to associate these things to the salvation that God has given to us; we can find out that Peter’s hypocrisy was misleading others; and we can understand where Paul’s heart laid when he rebuked Peter for this. Moreover, our hearts are convicted that when we preach the gospel, we must preach it purely. Regardless of whether or not others believe, all that we have to do is just preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit with pure faith in it. If we bring something else into the picture, those hearing us are just confused more, making it even more difficult for them to be saved.

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The book of Galatians

My fellow believers, we must preach the Word of God purely as it is. Now as before, 10 years ago or 20 years ago, the Truth still lies in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. This is why everyday we speak about the gospel of the water and the Spirit and preach it. Because it is the Truth, it cannot be overdone no matter how repeatedly it is preached. Ten years down the road, should I preach something else just because people are tired of hearing the same gospel? The very moment that I preach something else, we will disappear like the churches of Galatia.

We must believe in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit purely. You must believe in God’s love purely, and you must believe in the salvation that God has given you as it is. If you do, then you are God’s people. Of course, our shortcomings are always there. But we are still God’s people by faith. When you become God’s people by faith, His Word will remove the impurities of your hearts and nurture you to grow in faith.

Those who, even after receiving the remission of sins, still follow the Lord with their own thoughts and acts are exactly the same as those who advocated circumcision. Such people think that they are doing their best, but it will only bring horrendous results. They are utterly mistaken. As such, we have to believe in God purely, unite with Him purely, follow Him purely, and preach the gospel Truth purely. Knowing this and believing it, let us then preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and let us live by faith.

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