From the Good News Monthly Magazine (August, 2019)
HOW SHOULD WE BELIEVE IN GOD?
How should we believe in God? Faith without the support of correct knowledge creates confusion. No matter how sincerely and ardently we may believe in it, if it is different from what the Bible says, then everything is just as a house built on sand. We have no choice but to waver, and all things will eventually collapse without leaving anything behind.
Even though we may have believed for a long time, if we have not gained true faith and rest in our hearts, we need to see if we believe in the word of God as it is, instead of trying to find the root of not believing through things like a lack of being sincere. No doctrine or tradition can replace the word of God. Only the word of God can gift us the Kingdom of Heaven in our hearts. Let us learn how to believe in God correctly through Pastor Ock Soo Park who walks with God while preaching the gospel for more than 50 years after receiving salvation.
THE FREE GIFT OF SALVATION AND BLESSING
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)
IF YOU LET ME HEAL THE SICKNESS, I WILL GIVE YOU HALF OF MY POSSESSIONS
Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” In verse 2, we are children of wrath, and have lived according to the desires of the flesh. All the deeds we have done are recorded up to verse 3, but there is nothing particularly dirty. From verse 4, however, God works for us: “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2: 4-7)
Jesus came into the world to save us. Therefore, salvation is not something we must accomplish, but Jesus is the one who has to save us. We have sinned, and Jesus came to save us. It is Jesus’s job to make us clean, holy, and perfect in order to stand before God. Jesus accomplished his work perfectly. We are not saved by what we do well, but God has given us what God has done perfectly for us. This is called, grace. Grace is given for free, so you just need to accept it. When we were born in this world, God gave us everything for free. Our life, eyes, nose, and ears were all given to us for free. God hates doing business with us the most.
Once, someone who was hospitalized, asked Pastor Ock Sook Park to visit and pray for him. So, Pastor visited, and the patient said, “Pastor, if you heal my sickness I will give half of my property.”
When Pastor Park heard that, he gave him a very serious look, and said, “Sir, you should not say that. It is good that you will give God half your wealth, but God hates that very much. God is not a businessman. He really hates listening to those who say they will pay for what they have received. So do not try to give half of your fortune, but just say, “God, please heal me by grace.” God is pleased when you ask for grace. “If someone tries to be blessed by giving something or doing well in front of God, God will never bless you. God gives us sunlight and does not receive money. What happens if I am charged for the sunlight? Let’s say the price for sunlight is $10 dollars a day for the sunlight needed for a 5,000 sq. ft rice field. To dry a blanket outside is $1, and to dry a sheet is $ 0.50. Then, it will be difficult to live. Air is also free. You can breathe freely without paying money. Everything that God gives us is grace. He gave us His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, for free. And Jesus cleansed our sins for nothing.
Because people do not know God well, they are trying to do well in order to receive blessings. You try not to sin, do good, pray, give offerings, serve, etc. Spiritual life fells difficult because you are trying to do something to be blessed. God wants to give you blessing through grace. However, you are trying to pay and then receive something. Therefore, you are unable to receive anything. When you receive something from God, if you pay 10 cents or 1 cent, it is not something you have received by grace. Therefore, in order to receive the grace of God, we must first abandon the idea of, “what should I do well.”
NOT BY DEED BUT BY FAITH ONLY
There were monks in the middle ages. They tried to overcome the sin of lust and the flesh through penance. For example, after digging a puddle and putting all kinds of worms in it, they stayed in there. The worms bit them, but they endured the pain and tried to overcome their desires and lust. Some people have been wearing clothes with thorns. People tried to receive the grace of God by doing these things, but God does not bless those people.
Martin Luther also lived that way, but he suffered from being unable to resolve his sin. Then one day, he read the book of Romans. “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17). The Bible says that the righteous live by faith. What do you believe? “Jesus took the punishment of sin instead of me, and all my sins were washed away. He justified me. He has sanctified me, regardless of my deeds.” Luther was justified by believing that fact. So, every time we preach, we must have faith that we do not have to do anything, but that Jesus has washed our sins and saved us without any cost. That is what salvation is. This was the core of the Reformation, but as the years passed, people gradually moved away from grace. Pastors preached that people should try not to sin, but to keep the Ten Commandments, pay tithes, and be loyal to God’s work. They did not preach that we are all justified by faith and were saved. Everything went back to the way it was before the Reformation.
John Wesley failed his mission in America, and returned to England. One evening, he realized the gospel as he read to Luther’s “Preface to the Strength of Romans” in a small church on Aldergate Street. He realized, “Salvation has nothing to do with our actions! Jesus already bought my sin and made me righteous!” There was joy in his heart.
Wesley then cried, “Salvation does not consist of our labors or efforts, but merely that we believe in Jesus’s fulfillment.” At that time, many people were saved by listening to Wesley’s sermons, and changed. They then joyfully served God. However, as years passed by, people gradually moved away from faith again. Preachers also taught, “We must work hard to go to heaven, donate, and be loyal.” It is not wrong to worship God, and tithe, but those things cannot save people. Salvation is given freely.
People think, “I always commit sin, and I cannot be saved because I am not faithful.” However, on the contrary, it is too good to be saved. It is not possible to receive a salvation with no value. The Pharisees and the scribes, who were serving God diligently at the time of Jesus, were not saved. However, the woman who was caught in adultery and Zacchaeus, were saved. Is that saying that people should be doing evil things? Salvation has nothing to do with a person’s actions. Salvation has to do with Jesus’s actions. That is because Jesus saves us. Jesus surely accomplished the task of saving us from sin on the cross. It is difficult for me to have faith because I am trying to do well in order to receive the salvation that Jesus has already accomplished. Everyone is in the flesh while everyone lives in this world, and in the flesh, there is a desire to eat, drink, rest, and enjoy. We can stand as a perfect man before God because He has made us free from sin.
TO CONVEY GRACE, NOT LAW, TO DELIVER MAN FROM SIN
When Pastor Ock soo park went to a Chinese village a few years ago, he met with the Myo Tribe, which lives very deep in the mountains. Once upon a time, the ancestors of the Myo were driven out into the mountains and had been living there for a long time. Their people lived in isolation from civilization, and about 100 years ago, an English missionary came to them and taught them how to wash, cut their hair, and many other things. There were churches built by the missionaries in the village, and 80 percent of the people believed in Jesus. However, it was very painful for the elders who continued to rise up in the village and lead the church. So one elder taught the people, “Do not do this, and do not do that.” But the law cannot keep a man from sinning. In order not to sin, Jesus must come into our hearts, not the law.
Pastor Ock Soo Park visited the village and preached the gospel. The young people of the village who had their sins forgiven, testified. “I have committed this sin. I have sinned, and I am glad that I have received the forgiveness of all my sins. My heart has moved away from sin.” If you do not want people to fall into sin, you should not say, “Do not do that,” but they must receive the grace of God without paying anything. When we hear the gospel, and we are forgiven for sin, Jesus comes into our hearts and we change.
There are two kinds of spiritual lives. One is religious life and one is spiritual life. God gave human beings the Ten Commandments and other laws. But everyone has broken the law that God gave. Conversely, when a man loves a woman, or when a parent loves their child, they love them not because they were given a law. They received the desire to do so. Therefore, even though you do not tell them to, parents love their children as they sacrifice themselves. If we are to live a holy life without sin, we must receive the heart of Jesus, not the law. When Jesus’s heart comes to our heart, it becomes holy, and Jesus’s mind changes our lives.
NOW LET JESUS WORK
Pastor Ock Soo Park often talks about this. “I did not receive God’s grace because I did not do well, nor was it because I was loyal to God. I am a dirty man, who could only be destroyed. However, God had mercy on me. Jesus treated me, just like the good Samaritan had mercy for the man hit by robbers. I believe that Jesus has forgiven my sins, threw out my thoughts, and brought his heart to my heart. It has been truly amazing that Jesus had been working in my life from that day on.”
God said, “We were captivates of Satan, and we sinned. God saw us heading to hell for eternity, and it was so pitiful. Therefore, Jesus took charge of our lives, and He took care of all our sins, weaknesses, and even sicknesses. Now, let Jesus work, not you. Then, what should we do? Believe that Jesus’s blood that was shed on the cross washed all our sins. Then we become one with Jesus. From then on, Jesus works in us. Whatever we face, we will live a blessed and beautiful life through the grace of Jesus. It is called, “grace,” because God freely gives us all things. It is not grace if you receive it through the payment of good deeds. In the world, prizes are given to good or outstanding people, but God gives us all grace for nothing. God is gracious to love us, even though we are evil, cold, lacking, wrong, and whimpering. He has washed away all of our sins.