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The Kingdom of God (Romans 14:17), Part 1 of 5 / B: True salvation and agape love
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   Romans 14.17 (1 of 5) - final.docx (152.5K) [1] DATE : 2012-09-10 04:25:31
THE KINGDOM OF GOD (Romans 14:17), Part 1 of 5


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Romans 14:17
for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 7:16
You will know them by their fruits.  Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?
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Let’s discuss salvation.  Our lives are circumscribed.  All sufferings happen within limitations.  We can’t do the things we want.  We want to live virtuous lives, but we aren’t able to do so.  The water in the pool at Bethesda is usually still, but when the water bubbles up from the spring, if you are the first to enter the water you will be healed no matter what illness you have you will be healed.  The very name Bethesda is the embodiment of blessing.  Say I am waiting in front of the pool, but others keep jumping in before me.  Only the first one in is healed each time.  Maybe it’s an athlete with fast reflexes who jumps in before me, and that person just wanted to be healed of acne, while I am paralyzed!  Did the paralyzed person not go into the pool because he did not know or try hard enough?  He knows that if he goes in first he will be healed, but he can’t do it.  The issue is our limitations.  It’s not that we don’t know – it’s that even though we do know, we can’t do what we need to do.  That is our existence.

But what is salvation?  He who makes all things possible comes inside of us who are experiencing that misery; Christ living inside of me is salvation.  Don’t just think of it as leaving here and then going somewhere else; even while we are living on this earth, He who can do all things is able.  We on our own can’t do something even if we want to, but having Christ who can do all things live inside of me – that is the true experience of salvation.  The reason he has called us and chosen us is that he wants to be inside of us and live with us.  We have vigorous theories about what salvation is and the appearance of salvation, but not the true experience of it, because we try to live by our own strength.  The kingdom of God is Him changing us.  That world comes into our small, weak selves, and being able to actively live the everlastingness of the kingdom of God fully and liberally, that is salvation.  God has given us salvation; He wants to live in us and with us.

How can you know that you have received salvation?  By this: “You will know them by their fruits.  Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?” Matthew 7:16

These days fake things look real and real things look fake.  We can mimic salvation.  But the thing we cannot mimic is fruit.  The difference is that a fake cannot produce fruit, because one is life.  We can pray a lot, devote ourselves, donate a lot of money from time to time, and make many gestures to show that we love others.  But real love is Jesus’ love for those who insulted Him, pierced Him with a spear, spit at Him, threw rocks at Him.  We might be able to mimic something like that, but to possess that genuine love is only possible when the kingdom of God comes to me, when that love comes into me.  With mimicking one thing will catch up to you; we can say that we love everyone, and even think we love everyone, but you will always find one person you can’t stand.  That we can’t overcome.  We may be very patient with that person and say that we love him, but then that night your blood pressure goes up; you just can’t stand it.  When you try to mimic genuine love there is always a flaw, something that will catch you.  But true love is like Stephen; as he was being stoned he prayed for God to forgive those stoning him.  That was not Stephen’s outer being; that was the expression of the heaven existing in him.

When I started in ministry I told my wife that I would reclaim the whole world.  But that objective kept shrinking.  I will reclaim all Korean churches.  I will reclaim Los Angeles.  Where I am now: the transformation of one person is my goal.  These days I want to be a good preacher.  A good preacher is not only someone who speaks well; if you can see him transforming, that is a good sermon.  All of you as you spend time with me, if you can see my being changing, that is the best thing that can come from a pastor.  That’s why God uses those who are at the bottom!  Because it’s effective.  If that person changes even a little you can see it, and it has a good effect.  As all of the goals and ideas I started out with faded away, one true desire has arisen.  It comes from deep inside.  God gave this desire to me: to have the agape love inside of me that one day I, like Stephen, could pray that God would forgive those people who were stoning me.  That is what endures; that is more important than preaching to thousands of people.  I used to love receiving other people’s praise; sure even now I like other people’s recognition, but now if they don’t like me I shrug and think, well, there’s nothing to be done.  As Jesus loved those who insulted Him, God tells us that to love your enemy is possible because that agape love has become your life.  I still want to preach, witness to lots of people, but my true desire, the one that endures, is to have that agape that Stephen had, to have the agape of Christ.  So my world has gotten smaller, but as my world became smaller I came to see that that is everything.  There is human love, and there is agape love.  There are times, in such unexpected places, when I can see that agape – the unconditional love and true sacrifice – coming from me.  That is evidence of Him living inside of me.  From those fruits I know that I have received salvation.  I don’t get that certainty of salvation through my own cognition; it’s when the fruits of Christ living in me appear.  Nothing good can come from thistles.  The grapes come from the grapevine, from Christ.  When those grapes appear, I know that this is not my living, but Christ, who sacrificed Himself, living in me.

(The full transcript of Part 1 of 5 is also attached here as a Word document.)