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When Noah was building the ark, by all appearances he was the only one doing the building. Actually, however, the ark was being built by God. When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, by all appearances it was Moses who was leading them. Actually, however, they were led by God. I know that the many great and small things of my life were all accomplished by God.
How Could I? In Genesis chapter 6, God said to Noah: Make thee an ark of gopher-wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. (Gen. 6:14~16)
Noah might have thought, “How can we possibly make an ark three hundred cubits long? That’s nonsense.” Simply thinking of such a massive ark had to have intimidated him. If Noah had thought, “And if I were to complete the ark, how could I ever capture male and female pairs of lions, leopards, and other animals, and bring them onto the ark?” the task would have appeared doubly difficult. As we live our spiritual life, when we are close to God and see Him working, no matter what great difficulty we encounter, the thought that “Ah, God will help me in this,” will arise within us. In contrast, when we are distant from God and the more we are conscious of ourselves, we will often step forward, even in the face of adversity, to try to do something on our own.
They Were Things I Thought Impossible As I began serving the Lord, after receiving salvation, God accomplished many things through me. Along the way, however, whenever God showed me a new direction to take, I was always afraid that I would fail. When God told me to establish a school to train missionaries, I gave it a lot of thought. “How could I run a school? How could I possibly train missionary students? This makes no sense.” Before God, I proclaimed that I could not do it. God said nothing, so I thought that God had forgotten about it. Some six months later, God once again told me to start a missionary school. Once again, I told God, “God, I cannot do it. How could I possibly run a missionary school?”
Once again, God held his silence, and once again I thought that He had forgotten about it. God then stirred in me the desire to establish a missionary school. Each time He urged me, there were small changes in my thinking. I began to think, “It is true that I am unable to do this. But what if I actually end up accomplishing it?” A desire to undertake the task grew within me. I came to think, “Ah, if I do it thus, it will work. And if I do it thus, it will surely work.” Finally, we were able to establish our missionary school.
We had to overcome many obstacles to begin broadcasting sermons at the Far East Broadcasting Company, and with regard to book publishing, I thought, “How can a person like I publish anything? It’s impossible.” It wasn’t only in these efforts that I experienced misgivings. When we bought our first chapel in Daegu City, when we started mission work in Africa and China, and when we built our retreat center, God revealed these things to my heart. As impossible as these projects appeared at the time, and without regard for my efforts to avoid undertaking them, as I look back on them now, I realize that they were all accomplished through God.
He Who Speaks, Achieves God sent Joseph the dream of his brothers’ sheaves bowing to his sheaf, and the sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowing down to him. God showed Joseph that in the future he would become governor. It was not up to Joseph to study, to labor, or to strive in any way to become governor.
When God plants thoughts within our heart, those are the heart of God. In other words, it means that God himself will accomplish those thoughts. If God wills that I build a retreat center, if God wills that I publish books, if God wills that I run a training center for missionaries, if God wills that I do mission work in Africa, it is not I who will accomplish the task. It is God.
If God had told me to train and dispatch missionaries, He is not telling me to do it, but rather that I was to become his vehicle. He wanted to accomplish his goal through me. That is why, if I say, “Amen,” and only give myself to God, He will take any matter up from there. If the truth be known, I do not think it was I who started the missionary school. In no way do I think that it was I who began broadcasting sermons, published books, bought the chapel in Daegu City, or built the retreat center. The one who spoke to me and who accomplished all of those things was God.
God said unto Moses, Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. (Ex. 3:10) God was not telling Moses to achieve this. He was saying that He would do it. Indeed, He meant that God, Himself, would go before Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. God would do this through Moses.
If God Justifies Us, We Are Justified When God said to Noah, “Make thee an ark of gopher-wood. The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits,” Noah could not even imagine such an ark. Of course, Noah had no experience in building an ark. Noah recognized the futility in the task and would not have dared to try to undertake it. Imagine, three hundred cubits is approximately 500 feet. Today, of course, the frame of a ship can be made with steel. Noah’s task was to build a 500 feet-long ark entirely by connecting wood. How was that possible? When such an ark would set forth upon the water, it would need to overcome thousands of tons of water pressure. How could Noah make it so it could endure the elements? We cannot imagine it. However, when Noah built the ark, God helped him in every way. It was an ark only God could build.
This was also true when God said, “Bring each kind of animal into the ark in twos.” How could Noah bring lions and leopards onto the ark? It would have been impossible, except that God made the animals to enter. Thus, while it was apparently Noah building the ark, actually, it was God.
This is also true for us, in becoming sanctified, in being saved from sin, and in becoming righteous. If we read the Bible in the wrong way, we come to think that on our own we have to become righteous, or that on our own we have to become holy. That is not how it is. It is not we who have to accomplish this. Rather, it is God who will do it for us.
If Noah had attempted to build completely on his own simply because God told him to and did not receive any guidance from God, he would have failed. If on his own Moses had tried to lead the children of Israel out from Egypt, without the hand of God, it would not have been possible. In the same way, God has told us to become perfect, to be holy, and to become righteous. If on our own, we try to become perfect, holy, and righteous, we will fail. When foul, filthy, deceitful, and lustful thoughts arise within us, how can we possibly become holy or righteous? It is not possible. But if God makes us righteous and holy, then we can become righteous and holy.
That Noah should receive salvation by entering the ark was no plan of Noah’s. It was a plan established by God. Likewise, any plan to save us from sin cannot be our plan. It is planned by God, and that is why it can only be accomplished.
All Conditions to Fulfill the Word Are in the Word Thus we need faith to believe in God. Knowing that I am unrighteous, evil, foul-minded, and hypocritical, God calls me holy. I am not righteous, but God sees me and calls me righteous. I am not clean, but God calls me clean. Never have I had my sins washed clean, but God still says that they are washed. “Ah, if that is what God says, then it is God who made me that way. He has made me holy. He has washed me. He has made me righteous.” That is how we believe in God.
When Jesus told his disciples to cross the sea, a tempest arose. In this situation, we would think, “He surely told us to cross over to the other side of the sea, but why is there a tempest? The boat is going to turn over. We’ll never make it. Let’s quickly find some place to put ashore.” But if the Lord says to go to the other side, then they can go to the other side. God’s word is quick and powerful. There is power within the word of God and it accomplishes what it sets out to accomplish. When the heart is given a task through God’s word, all conditions to fulfill the word are within the word.
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from the heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Is. 55:10,11)
No matter what God says, God’s word does not return void. God’s word is accomplished and is prosperous in the task it was sent for. No matter what word God sends us, we do not need to try to accomplish the word, because the power that is already in the word accomplishes it.
Salvation and Spiritual Life Are Accomplished by God Jesus was crucified for us. It is not we who accomplish salvation. It is accomplished by God. Because we labor to achieve salvation, it is difficult and defeating. When Noah built the ark, ostensibly it was Noah who did the building. Actually, however, it was God who built it. When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, ostensibly it was Moses who was leading them. Actually, however, it was God who led them.
The many great and small things of my life that appear to have been achieved by me, on my own, were not of my accomplishment. Everything I have ever done has been the work of God. Our salvation or our spiritual life as Christians is not done by us, but by God. If that is so, how can we be holy? When we believe and look to God, we become righteous, holy, and our lives are cleansed through Him.