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 Sermons on important subjects by Rev. Paul C. Jong

 

Sermon on the Holy Son 8



What Is the Faith That God Declares to Be Great?


< Matthew 8:5-10 >

“Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, ‘Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘I will come and heal him.’ The centurion answered and said, ‘Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.’ When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!’”



The Faith of the Centurion


Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.” And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”

There are people in this world who, like this centurion, have the faith that believes everything is fulfilled only by the Word of Jesus. We can see that it is those who have such faith who are blessed, and that this centurion of such faith has the same faith of the born-again. The centurion, feeling compassion for one of his subordinates who was paralyzed, came to Jesus seeking to heal him. We can see that this centurion shared his fate and went through thick and thin with the men under his command, and that he had a great love for them.

The centurion earnestly begged Jesus for the healing of his servant, and Jesus permitted it. From the passage, we can clearly find out that the disposition of this centurion’s faith was such that he believed Jesus to be the Son of God. He believed in Jesus’ Word of truth—that is, he believed that Jesus was the Son of God who would raise the dead and heal us wholly from our sins.

“Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.” The centurion said this not because he did not want Jesus to come to his house, but because he had faith in the Word of God first. If people are disposed to serve and revere God, then through the Word of God, such people can receive the remission of their sins, have faith planted in them by the Word, and also receive blessings from this written Word of God. This faith is the faith of the centurion.

Even if we have nothing in our hands, if we only believe in the Word of God, the abundant blessings of God can be all ours. From the passage above, we can find out just how great the centurion’s faith was.

What is the wholesome faith? Believing in God who has fulfilled and will fulfill everything only by His Word is the wholesome faith. When you have the knowledge of the Word of God and faith in this Word, you will then also receive wonderful blessings in your lives, just like the centurion.

The centurion asked Jesus to only speak a word; such faith is a great faith. Those who revere and fear God believe that His great power can, just by the Word of God, save us from our sins, enabled us to receive eternal life, and make us live our lives in blessings. God’s blessing can come about only by believing in His Word. The faith that believes in the Word actually enables us to live a new life.

John 8:32 states, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” When we dwell on the Word of God and believe in the Scriptures as they are, this Word then works in our hearts in concrete ways, transforms our surroundings, our souls, and ourselves, and thereby enables us to enter Heaven instead of hell.

It is wrong to attend church even as one does not have faith in the Word of God. If one does not believe in the Word of God, then attending church is only a mere religious practice, something that one does on his/her own and has nothing to do with salvation.

This centurion’s faith is the faith that believes in God and in His Word. Long ago, there used to be many who believed in the Word. Our fathers of faith such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had the faith in His Word. Abraham followed the Word (Genesis 12:4), and Isaac, following his father’s path, also believed in the Word of God that Abraham had believed. Abraham believed in God’s Word that He would give him his descendants and land as it was, and passed it onto his son Isaac. And God, in fact, did allow Abraham’s descendants to have the land of Canaan, today’s Israel.

By believing in the Word, we became the born-again righteous and God’s children. What is truly marvelous is how they became righteous in the first place. Did they become righteous by receiving God through their ardent prayers, speaking in tongues, healing miracles, or holy praises? Can we receive God just by confessing Him as our Father?



True Faith Is to Believe the Word of God


Faith in God cannot come about by emotions, devotion, or one’s own abilities. I have seen many Christians giving their ardent prayers of repentance in tears, confessing their sins out loud. Generally speaking, it has become a customary practice for Christians who have attended church for a long time to try to wash away their sins through their prayers of repentance given with many tears. Our era has been turned into a corrupted one, where Christians, seeing such outward displays, approve each other’s faith based on this.

Heresies are interested in the charismatic movement, mysticism, and materialism. And they are prone to pursue such erroneous tendencies tumultuously and desperately. But all their followers, while they may get transient comfort and satisfaction out of such beliefs, cannot but continue to live confused lives with empty hearts. This can be the evidence that such people have not been born again, nor received the Holy Spirit, further less believed in the Word of God. Believing in Jesus is to believe in the Word of God.

Jesus said that the faith of the centurion was great. Let’s find out why He said so. Sinners who can neither believe nor follow the Word of God cannot understand the righteous who have the faith in God’s Word.

In particular, the charismatic movement, into which sinners are prone to fall, claim that speaking in tongues is the evidence that proves one’s receiving of the Holy Spirit, of becoming God’s child, and of salvation itself. They therefore speak in tongues everywhere. But most Christians who claim to speak in tongues actually speak in false tongues. The born-again cannot stand to be near those who speak in tongue. Satan works so deceptively in the charismatic movement that those who believe in supernatural visions and powers, and those who seek after signs, miracles, and visions apart from faith in the Word of God, cannot even come close to the faith of the centurion. Their faith is a pseudo faith that is fundamentally different from the faith of the centurion, and that seeks only after what cannot be seen by the eye.

The centurion’s faith was one that believed in everything that Jesus Christ said, confessing, “But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.” Believing that whatever God says will all be fulfilled accordingly, in other words, is this faith of the centurion.

For today’s Christians, speaking in tongues does not mean that they have received the remission of sin, nor that they have become God’s children. Neither does seeing visions mean that they have been born again, nor does claiming to have spiritual gifts mean that they have the born-again faith.

Strictly speaking, it is because such people have no faith that they hold onto mystical things. These things are given by Satan. Such mystical faith can last only a week at most. After only a few days, they begin to search for the Lord again, looking for where they can find miracles and signs. This is the proof of the fact that they have no Holy Spirit in their hearts.

If Jesus, the Word of God, is in us, and if we have received the remission of sin and the Holy Spirit indeed dwells within us, then we will never fall into such traps. Nor can we ever work with them, for we are fundamentally incompatible with them, and, above all, our very seed is different from theirs. The faith of the centurion is the same as ours.

The grace of God that He has bestowed on us is so great that He has allowed us, unlike those who pursue signs and miracles, to believe and follow His Word. I can therefore only thank Him.

Having faith and becoming the righteous come about only by believing in the Word of God. When sinners deny their own thoughts, reveal their true selves before the Word of God, humbly listen to what the Word tells them, and truly believe in it, they can then become righteous. This is the power of God and the power of His Word. They can thereby enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and become God’s own children.

We can live blessed lives in gratification and joy. But all these blessings come about by the Word of God, for this is the truth itself. Seeing the centurion’s faith, our Lord said, “Your faith is great.” Someone who is paralyzed cannot do anything on his/her own. Likewise, sinners cannot make their sins disappear on their own. But they can be wholly forgiven of their sins only by the Word of God, and this is the faith that our Lord spoke of by referring to the faith of the centurion.

We have received the remission of sin by believing in the Word of God. Then after, we acknowledged that how important for us to have faith in His Word. Before we are born again, we cannot realize how essential it is to have the faith in the Word. Only the Word of God can blot out our sins. It is because the centurion had this faith that he said, “But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.”

Our sins cannot be blotted out by our own efforts, nor by anything else but the Word of God. They can be blotted out only by the Word of God. It is by believing only in God’s Word of the truth of the water and the Spirit that we are saved, not by the man-made thoughts, doctrines, efforts, repentance, and sanctification of our own making. Salvation received in dreams or visions is no salvation. The remission of sin received not from God’s Word of being born again of water and the Spirit is not salvation.

There are many who become even greater sinners even as they profess to believe in Jesus and attend church. Hebrews 1:3 says, “upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins.” The reason why such people become even more sinful and are not freed from their sins despite believing in Jesus is because they do not know the Word of God correctly. He who has cleansed away all the sins of mankind is Jesus. Because what Jesus has done is written in detail in the Word of God, it is by believing in this Word that we can become righteous and live our lives in such blessings.

Those who have not received the remission of sin from the Word, whoever they might be, are all liars. Jesus is the way and the life. No matter how people kneel down and how ardently they give their prayers of repentance during the worship service, leaving the Word of God aside, this cannot enable them to enter Heaven. The efforts, devotions, and works of human beings cannot blot out their sins. The kind of faith and the remission of sin that is not constituted by the Word alone all belongs to the devil.

Nothing in this world, even if it were the power to drive out demons, can enable people to be loved by the Lord, and even if they were martyred, this does not mean that their souls are saved. If people do not constitute their faith concretely on the Word, it will inevitably change in the end. All the components of their faith, such as their faith in God, in salvation, and in His judgment, will change as times go by. All such things are completely futile.

People who claim to have traditions, who pride in their lineage and pedigree, and who boast of their denominations, of their faith, and of what they have done—these people assure themselves to be God’s people. But God said that He would cast out such people to hell. It would be even okay to take pride if they believe in the Word as it is. However, because they do not do so but believe in Him based on their own standard, God said that He would cast them out to darkness.

Matthew 7:23 states, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” What is lawlessness? Lawlessness refers to the deeds of those who claim to believe in God and exercise His power even as they do not actually have faith.

God’s Church is where we listen to the Word of God. It is a place where we can set aside our own thoughts, and instead hear and follow the Word. There are people who claim that even as they remain sinful, they can enter the Kingdom of God because they attend church and believe in Jesus. Those who speak of orthodoxy are even more zealous, saying that they are “the saved sinners.” Even as their hearts have no faith, they profess to believe in God and claim that He will take them to Heaven. See for yourself if you can find anywhere in the Bible where such claims are backed in writing.

The saints refer to those who are sinless—that is, they refer to the righteous. People who boast of orthodoxy say, “God has admitted us as righteous even as we are sinners, but this does not mean that we are actually sinless.” But God does not justify us because we attend church. Far from it, people who claim that they can enter the Kingdom of God by the works of their faith are only loving God in an unrequited love, for their salvation is of their own making, not received from the Lord by faith. Such people cannot be saved. The sins in their hearts are the evidence of their not having been saved. Whoever has sin carved in their hearts, even if he/she believes in the Lord, will be cast into hell.

Having blotted out all the sins of the world, Jesus has told us to believe in Him. God is pleased by those who believe in Jesus, are freed from their sins, and have become the righteous. God has prepared Heaven for the righteous. “Lord, I believe that You took away all my sins. But please wash away this sin that I have. Please forgive me for this sin.” If anyone prays in this way, then this can only mean he/she does not truly believe in God’s gospel, and is only turning God into a liar.

Those who condemn themselves even as they believe in Jesus are nothing more than heretics. We must realize correctly that there is no more condemnation in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1). The sinful cannot blot out the sins of other sinful souls with the Word, but they only end up turning them into sinners who believe in Jesus somehow, just like themselves. But those who have received the remission of their sins can, because of this powerful Word of the remission of sin in them, lead the sinful to also become sinless. This is how we become righteous by believing in Jesus.

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Blessings are to be born again by the Word of God. Blessings are to follow the spiritual leader, and to unite together in serving the church and spreading the gospel of the remission of sin to souls. The centurion, even though he was a Gentile, believed in the Word of God as it was. He thus was saved, and became a perfect and righteous person. In contrast, those who boasted of themselves as orthodox Jews were abandoned, for they did not know Jesus correctly. Which is right?

Faith in the Word enables us to move from a life of sin to a life of salvation, and it allows us to be blessed by all the Word. Faith in God is believing in Him and His Word. It was because the centurion had the faith that God declared to be great. Such faith is in us by the grace of God, for we believe that His Word has been and will be fulfilled exactly as it is.

For people who still do not have this faith of the centurion, if they would just believe in the Word of God, by this faith they will all become like the centurion. The faith that is most approved by God is the one that believes in what God has said as it is. Believing in God who has made us sinless is the faith of the centurion.

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