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And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters: and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. (Genesis 1:6~7)
Alone He Created the Heaven and the Earth
God began to work upon the earth while it was without form, void, and in deep darkness in Genesis chapter 1. “Let there be light.” “Let waters above the firmament divide from the waters below the firmament.” “Let the earth bring forth the herb yielding seed and the fruit-tree yielding fruit.” In this manner, God, by himself, created heaven and the earth. A long time ago, a certain man, while working, went under a chestnut tree to take a nap. He lay down and thought, “Why did God have thick pumpkins borne on thin vines, and why did He have those little chestnuts born on such thick branches? If I were God, I would have chestnuts the size of pumpkins on chestnut trees so that it would take an entire family to eat one chestnut. On the other hand, I would make pumpkins the size of chestnuts on pumpkin vines,” and fell asleep. A long while afterwards, something hammered on his forehead, and he woke up shocked. A chestnut cluster had fallen on him and the thorns were piercing his forehead. Before he could take the thorns out of his forehead, he quickly knelt down and said, “God, thank you so much that chestnuts the size of pumpkins were not hanging on the tree. My head would have cracked open, and I would have died if a chestnut cluster as big as a pumpkin had fallen. . . .” If you or I were next to God when He was creating the heaven and the earth, we probably would have had many suggestions, saying, “God, the mountains are too high. The ocean is too wide. Why would you want to make it so wide? The land should be wide.” “God, don’t make mice-like animals. Why did you make snakes? You don’t need to make things like mosquitoes.” We would probably have nagged Him so much that God would not have been able to complete His creating. I guess God knew this because He made man after He completed the heaven and the earth. Man did not participate in any way when God was creating the heaven and the earth; He alone created them. The heaven and the earth were created in Genesis chapter 1. After man was created at the end of chapter 1, there are scenes of man at work in chapter 3. The first thing man did was go against God and eat the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. If God had created the heaven and earth together with man, who would rebel this way, what would have happened? This is why God did not collaborate with man in the important work of creating the heaven and the earth. He did it all Himself.
The Work of the Prodigal Son and the Work of the Father
God also did not collaborate with man to accomplish the great, amazing work of salvation, but achieved salvation without the power of man. I was once reading Luke, and there were many interesting facts. One of them was that the work of Jesus and the work of man are always differentiated in Luke. Everything man did ended in failure: the story of the younger son going to a far away country and failing in the story of the prodigal son; the story of a certain man going from Jerusalem to Jericho and failing; the story of the failed effort to build a tower, and so on. Such stories show that every work of man has failed. On the contrary, all works of Jesus are recorded to have succeeded beautifully. The story of the prodigal son also differentiates between the work of the son and the work of the father. The son represents us, and the father represents God. The younger son takes his wealth into a far away country in this story and lives riotously; he sins with harlots, runs out of money, and becomes a pig herder. His entire body is covered in pig dung; he stinks, and is on the verge of starving to death. The younger son one day realizes that he would ultimately die if he continues living this way and returns to the father. While he was a great way off, the father saw him, had compassion, and ran, fell on his neck, and kissed him. The son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.” But the father said to the servants, “Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And kill the fatted calf and prepare for a feast.” In this manner, the work of the son and the work of the father are clearly differentiated in the story of the prodigal son. No matter how much the son tries to become clean while he is in the pig pen, the more he labors, the more filthy, pitiful, and hungry he becomes. The father, on the other hand, worked as soon as the son returned. “What are you doing? Quickly heat the bath water. Bring out the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his hand. Put shoes on his feet. Kill the fatted calf.” Because the father is at work, the son’s dirty clothes are taken off. He is made clean, full, and glorious. Spiritual life is like this.
Upon Discovering Your True Image
Before I realized this precious word of God, I labored to become clean and not sin in the same way the younger son labored while he was in the pig pen. While attending church, I strained to faithfully keep the law and stand before God with my head held high. But just as the younger son became filthier and hungrier the more he labored in the pig pen, I felt that my life was falling deeper and deeper into sin. One day, I acknowledged a certain truth: “Ah, I’m impossible.” By the grace of God, I was able to recognize myself. Before this, I regarded myself as a person who believed in God, who was good, and intelligent. On the contrary, when seen through the eyes of God, I was able to discover a completely different me. “I am too filthy! I am so evil! I live like an idiot! Now it is impossible for me to keep the law and become clean!” After realizing this, my belief in myself vanished. Before, I always thought, “But I’ll be fine as long as I pray hard. From this New Year, I’m going to make up my mind not to commit sin and live properly. Then, I’ll be fine.” But as I discovered that I was not wise, but evil and filthy, I could no longer believe in myself. When I denied myself, Jesus, amazingly entered into my heart immediately. Before, I had believed in myself and I could not accept anything different from my own thoughts. But when I came to distrust myself and stepped down from the throne in the kingdom of my heart, I was able to receive the word of God into my heart even if it was different from my thoughts. After realizing that it is impossible to come to God through zealously praying, reading the Bible, keeping the law, and doing good deeds, Jesus began to work inside of me. The younger son did not want to go before his father in filthy rags. No matter what it took, he wanted to stand before his father a little cleaner, a little neater. But that did not happen. He realized that it was impossible and had no choice but to go before his father in the evil and filthy condition he was in. The younger son returned to his father exactly the way he was. Now, as far as the younger son was concerned, there was nothing more to be done. When the younger son reached the limits of his own labor and realized that there was nothing he could do, he returned to his father. And from then on, the father began to work. Amazing things happened as the father worked. The younger son could not become clean no matter how hard he tried. But at his father’s words, his dirty clothes were removed, he bathed, and the best clothes were put on him. There was a ring put on his hand, shoes put on his feet, and he ate as much as he wanted at the feast that was prepared with the fatted calf. To have the younger son lack nothing as his son, the father made the younger son exactly like himself.
Through the Work of Jesus
Spiritual life is not us doing something so we can go to heaven. People know spiritual life in reverse. They think that it is they who must keep the law, obey God’s word, do good deeds, and be faithful to God. They think God will see these things, be pleased, and receive them. But there is not a single person who can come to God in this manner. The father worked when the younger son gave up on himself. You cannot see the work of God as long as you are trying to do the work. When you give up on yourself, realizing that you incapable of doing good, and that you cannot keep the law, God begins to live and work inside your heart. God must do the work of cleansing us. I will read from Romans chapter 3, verse 10. As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. Everything man does is evil. That is why in verse 23, we arrive at,
For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Up to verse 23, we see that everyone has sinned and cannot reach the glory of God with what they have done. It means that man could never stand before God with the results of what man has done. No matter how good, how beautiful, or how honest they are, the results of what man has done cannot attain to God. Then in verse 24 it says, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. It means that not by the work of man, but through the work of Jesus, Being justified freely by his grace. Verse 23 is the result of man’s attempt: that man cannot stand before God because man has sinned. Verse 24 is saying that man has become righteous through the work of Jesus, and can stand boldly before God. We have these two ways before us. If you are going before God relying on what you have done, you are verse 23. If you go that way, you have sinned no matter how much good you may have done, and you can never reach the glory of God. On the other hand, if you rely solely on the work of Jesus, and not on what you have done, you can boldly go before God because Jesus has cleansed and sanctified you. The work of God is displayed in Genesis chapter 1. Because God works, the earth which was without form and void, changed into a beautiful paradise where the flowers bloom, fruits are borne, and birds sing. Afterwards, in Genesis chapter 3, we see that man begins to fall into sin as he begins to work. The Bible says, The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. . . . (Jeremiah 17:9) That is why deceitful and wicked things are bound to appear more and more as man tries harder and harder to be good. But now, Jesus begins to work. The blood Jesus shed on the cross washed all of our sins as white as snow. No matter what sin you may have committed; what evil you may have done; what wrong you may have done; all of those sins have passed onto Jesus. Jesus was punished on the cross for all of your sins, and all of your sins have been washed away.
Could Not Be Left to Remain Dirty
Let’s talk about this again. The results of what we have done are sinfulness, curse, and destruction. But, the work of God cleanses, justifies, and sanctifies us, who are this way. No matter how much you sin, there is no sin Jesus cannot wash away. No matter what pit you have fallen into, there is no pit Jesus cannot deliver you from. And no matter what binds you, there is no rope Jesus cannot loosen. Jesus delivered us perfectly from sin. He was crucified and cleansed us of all sins. That is what Romans chapter 3, verse 24 is telling us. Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. We have not been justified through ourselves, but through Jesus. All I have ever done was commit sin and done evil deeds, but Jesus cleansed me. When the prodigal son returned to his father’s house in his dirty and filthy condition, wearing dung covered rags, the father could not leave his son in the dirty condition he was in. That is why the father cleansed the son. The father made the son so holy, clean, and glorious that the son would lack nothing when he was presented at the feast. This is it! Everyone, we, like the younger son, have committed sin and have done evil. We are dirty humans who sin every day. God could not seat us at the feast table in this dirty, filthy condition we are in. So what did God do? He sent His son, Jesus Christ, and cleansed and sanctified us. In order that we may stand before God absolutely flawless, Jesus washed our sins as white as snow, purified us, and justified us. This was not done through our effort or work. Two things are before you. What you have done and what God has done. What we