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[John Series No.9] True Change

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And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) (John 2:1~9)

The Bible Talks of Change

People often go on trips in order to experience change. However, through the Bible, you can experience change without going on a trip. It is because the Bible itself talks about change. People do not know about this secret of change, and therefore, labor to change on their own. People who have ruined their families because of gambling try to stop gambling. And people who have ruined their families because of drinking labor to quit drinking. People try to become diligent and good. Nevertheless, a change that arises not through your labor, but a natural change, is true change. As recorded in John chapter 2, the water changed into wine. We can clearly see that from the time of creation, God had change in His mind when He created the heaven and the earth. Genesis begins with the lines, God created the heaven and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. The earth, which was without form, void, and in darkness, bloomed with flowers and changed into a garden where fruits were borne and birds sang. Saul, who had persecuted and went against Jesus, changed and became a person who was persecuted for Jesus’ sake. This is how the Bible speaks of change. There are many words of change in the Bible. Therefore, when we read the Bible deeply, we can come to know the “rules” or “laws” of that change. Most people do not know the rules, and thus try to change through their own efforts. This is why it’s difficult. A tadpole, from its birth, was made to change into a frog. A caterpillar, regardless of its current image, was made to change into a butterfly. When time passes and they go through metamorphosis, a tadpole surely changes into a frog and a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. If someone doesn’t know this, he may think, “Hey, how could that become a frog?” When one only sees the caterpillar, he cannot understand that it will become a butterfly, regardless of how hard he tries.

Me? Become a Butterfly?

This happened a while ago when I was visiting Los Angeles. The service ended, and a man in his mid-fifties came limping towards me and spoke to me. “Pastor, your sermon tonight knocked on my heart.” He told me about himself. He said that he had been doing drugs for 40 years. A Korean woman without a green card married him to obtain one. She was pretty and kind like an angel, and all she knew how to do was make money. She would work hard to save money from working at a restaurant, and he would use it all for drugs. He told me about how he had lived so wickedly in such ways. I then asked him, “Tommy, have you ever seen a butterfly?” “Yes, there are not many butterflies in L.A., but I do see them from time to time.” “Tommy, what kinds of insects become butterflies? Do the pretty and beautiful insects become a butterfly, or do disgusting insects become the butterfly?” “It’s the disgusting insect.” “Yes, God has made it this way in order to teach us the process of someone like you, who has lived inside of drugs and filthy, dirty sinfulness, changing into a butterfly by the grace of God. He has made butterflies to be this way.” “Me? Become like a butterfly?” He laughed. “How could I become like a butterfly? That’s nonsense!” His heart was open to me and that night I preached the gospel to him. He went away extremely happy. He was walking with his cane, limping away when I called out, “Tommy, see me for a second,” and had him come back. “Next time you come, throw that cane of yours away.” After finishing the conference in Los Angeles, I went to Dallas and led a conference there. Afterwards, I returned to Los Angeles on my way to Korea. Tommy heard that I was coming and he was at the church waiting for me. He was wearing blue jeans and a white t-shirt, and he looked really young. And there was no cane in his hand. “Pastor, I heard that you were coming so I waited for you. Yesterday, I played basketball with the children. You may not believe it, but I am going to buy a treadmill and start exercising.”

The Heart of Man Was Made to Change

I have often seen people change. The Samaritan woman in John chapter 4 did not change through herself wanting to change. She changed without even realizing it. A change that is through one’s self is not a complete change. Change that is through God who created us is the perfect change. When God made water, amazingly He made it so that it would turn into ice if the temperature reaches zero degrees Celsius, and also made it so that it would turn into steam when it reached 100 degrees Celsius. Water changes. It becomes ice when frozen, and becomes steam when boiled. When God created man, He did so with a plan. Because God made man His most loving creature, He knew that Satan, who goes against God, would separate man from God. Therefore, God made the heart inside of man, and if man receives the Word of God into his heart, God made it so that man would change into the image of God. This is so amazing. As I have been working as a pastor inside of the Lord, because I am an incomplete, lacking person with many blemishes, I am unable to change people. But I was able to preach the Word of God. If the Word of God enters, people change. It is because God has made it so that when the Word of God enters, that person is bound to change no matter who he or she is. When a home does not have electricity, you cannot just enter a store and buy the electricity in a basket. You cannot go borrowing electricity, either. Electricity will come in once the electrical wires are connected correctly. Change arises in our hearts when we accept the Word of God and become connected with God correctly. Like the words, the word was with God and the word was God, (John 1:1), God enters us when the Word of God enters our hearts. From then on God begins to work inside of us. When the devil enters you and works in you, it is you on the surface, but actually you become the devil. If God enters and works in you, it is you on the surface, but in reality, you become God. Although it is the same bolt, if it is used to assemble a refrigerator it becomes a part of a refrigerator. If it is used as a car part, it becomes a part of the car. If it is used to assemble airplanes, it will become a part of an airplane. If we unite with the words of the devil, we become a part of the devil, but if we unite with the words of Jesus, we become a part of Jesus. It is very simple. If we are used by the world of the devil, we will do evil things, but contrary to this, and we will do good things if we are used in the world of Jesus. This is how God has made the heart of man.

The Condition to Obey the Word

In John chapter 2 the governor of the wedding at Cana of Galilee fell short of wine. Some Biblical scholars say that the house belonged to a relative of Jesus. When we see how worried Mary was, it seems so. However, assumptions are assumptions, and they should not be accepted as truth. There are many theologians today who speak of assumptions as if they were the truth. Many listen to them and often fall into great confusion. Because the Bible is written precisely, your assumptions should remain only as assumptions and should not be accepted as truth. Jesus heard from Mary that that wedding was in need of wine. Right then, Jesus said, “Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.” Mary, upon hearing this, tells the servants, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” These words meant that they should simply obey the words of Jesus. However, in other words, they meant, “Do not add your thoughts to the words of Jesus.” The condition to do whatever He says is only possible when your own thoughts are destroyed. This is so difficult for people whose own thoughts are alive and well. Spiritual life is very simple. Spiritual life is composed of repentance and faith. People, for the most part, think that repentance is saying, “I stole. I committed adultery. I lied. Forgive me.” But that is not true repentance. Repentance is turning from yourself. “All thoughts that come from within me are dirty! I am filthy and evil! There is no good in me!” Knowing that all the good that you tried to do; all your efforts to become righteous by nature could not do; and realizing that all of this is wrong and turning from yourself is true repentance. It is because when your own perceptions are standing strong, you cannot accept the Word of God. Likewise, after you throw away the heart to do things yourself and accept the work Jesus did into your heart; that is faith.

Accepting though not Understanding Is Faith

The story of water turning into wine is exactly about this. There were six water pots at the wedding of Cana of Galilee, and Jesus told the servants, “Fill the water pots to the brim.” The servants, without any burden, filled them with water. Then Jesus said, “Draw out now and serve unto the governor of the feast.” Now this was a problem to the servants. They needed to bring wine, not water, to the governor of the feast. Surely, they poured in water, but they were told to draw some out and serve it since it was wine. This was something the servants could not understand. It is difficult to accept the words of Jesus, and difficult to obey. If we accept the Word of God into our hearts, God made it so that the words will arise immediately. Therefore, Satan makes people set up their own perceptions so that they would become unable to accept the Word of God. People have their own perceptions and they see, hear, and think within their own lives, and they live centered around themselves. Therefore, they easily accept things that fit their thoughts or understanding, but are unable to accept things they cannot understand with their thoughts. Satan has made it extremely difficult for them to accept all the works of Jesus, which cannot be understood with your thoughts. Accepting the words of Jesus, even though you cannot understand it with your thoughts, saying, “I will follow those words because Jesus is God,” is faith. People with faith do not follow the words of Jesus because they understand the words of Jesus, but they follow, saying, “The Lord’s word is right,” because they believe Jesus’ words. Following because you understand, you could be following even what little children or thieves or gangsters are saying. This is not true faith. Accepting the word God speaks to us, although we do not understand, is faith.

The Sincere Hope of a Death Row Inmate

There was a death row inmate I knew. He thought, “I am going to be executed and die anyway, so I should have faith and go to heaven.” He was then introduced to a pastor and they had Bible study every day. This pastor spoke. “Since you believed in such a manner, you will go to heaven. When you are executed, die as you joyfully praise God. Then you will go to heaven.” There were two death row inmates in that cell, and both of them believed in Jesus with sincere hearts. They had no money, but when their family would send them some they would not spend it but gave it as offering. That was how they lived, and this inmate’s cellmate was first taken to be executed. He did not go away rejoicing but he was almost half-way out of his mind as he was being physically dragged away. From that day forward, he began to become regretful about spiritual life. “I thought I would be able go to heaven if I die rejoicing.” He saw that his spiritual life was wrong and from then on, he began to sincerely look for true faith. However, there was a strange rumor going around the prison. “There is a crazy man in this prison.” “Who is he?” “He says he has no sins.” “He must be crazy. How can he be in prison when he has no sin? That man who was called crazy and was being belittled roomed in the cell across from this death row inmate. Prisons have hallways and the cells are on the left and right side of the hallway. The death row inmate spoke to this prisoner. “Hey, you! You don’t have sins? What are you doing here in prison if you don’t have sins?” The death row inmate was speaking in a belligerent tone. “Sir, I committed many sins, but the blood of Jesus made me clean.” He was shocked upon hearing this answer. He had heard that the blood of Jesus gives us the forgiveness of sins, but he had never heard of anyone who said they actually had their sins washed away. It was his first time meeting someone who said thus. He quickly changed his attitude and asked him, “So, how do your sins get washed away?” With the iron bars in between them, the two of them exchanged words, and the death row inmate could not understand even though he was trying to. The night became deep and other inmates started saying, “Let’s go to sleep! Be quiet!” and the two of them had to whisper. It passed midnight and still the death row inmate could not understand. Then the person in the cell across said, “Ugh, I can’t take this!” and began to unbutton his shirt, and out came a book from his bosom. “Sir, this is my treasure, and you have to give it back to me after you read it! Everything about this is all written in here!” “Sure, I’ll give it back to you.” “You have to! I don’t just give it to anyone, and I am only letting you borrow it. You have to return it after you read it!” “Fine, I’ll make sure I give it back to you.” He slid the book from between the iron bars and lent the book to the death row inmate. He then read the book, The Secret of Forgiveness of Sin and Being Born Again, day and night. The forgiveness of sins is not something you achieve, but Jesus does. The death row inmate realized through reading this book that it was difficult and hard because he was trying to achieve it himself. “Ah, sin is not forgiven through me doing something, or through me repenting. Because what I do is imperfect, Jesus must do it!” Many people today do not know this fact very well. Therefore, when they sin they try and labor to have their sins washed away. But what man does cannot work. Therefore, one must completely let himself down and leave himself to Jesus to do the work. It is accepting exactly what Jesus did The death row inmate tried and strained to have his sins washed away and go to heaven. He discovered through reading The Secret of Forgiveness of Sin and Being Born Again, that his sins had already been washed away. He felt so eased. “Why did I not know this, and strain to have my sins washed away?”

If Jesus Enters the Heart

There are still many people today who do not know this precious truth, and because of their guilt, they cry and repent to have their sins washed away. Jesus must do 100% of the work of washing our sins away. You cannot have even the tiniest part in it. The death row inmate experienced all of his sins being washed away. He changed from that day on. The prison changed into heaven. I went to the Daegu Prison and met him. “Pastor, I am so thankful for the grace of God. A person like me, how could I be saved if I had not become a death row inmate? It is a short life, and I am so thankful to God who did this to save me.” This death row inmate truly rejoiced. “Pastor, when I die, give my eyes, my kidneys, whatever of me, to the people who need it. I have no hope for this world and have hope only for that land.” I saw him change. What hope, what joy would a death row inmate have? Jesus Christ! If Jesus enters the heart, anyone can change. The book of John speaks of that change to us.

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