1 Corinthians 15:9-10
For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
In the world there many kinds of light emitted ranging from the sunlight to the light of countless stars in the sky, man-made electronic lights and the glow of fireflies.
We know that the brightness of each kind of light is different.
It is the same with aromas. Some kinds of aromas last a long time, yet others are only in passing and just for the moment.
It is the same with the quality of the attribute of goodness. I explained about the levels of goodness before.
The 1st level of goodness is found also in a few people of the world, but not deemed as goodness in God’s sight. In the 2nd level of goodness, you do not treat evils with evils because you have no evil within your heart. It is considered as goodness in a narrow meaning.
If you are in the third level of goodness, you can treat those who with evil toward you with goodness and move their hearts. In the fourth level of goodness you can lay down your life for the other person.
If you have reached the 3rd or 4th level of goodness, you will not only be protected from all kinds of trials and difficulties that the enemy devil and Satan may bring against you but you can have the spiritual power to bring an end to the schemes of the devil and Satan as well.
The powerful light of goodness acts with power and authority to drive out the forces of the enemy devil and Satan. In this way, you can be of service for the kingdom of God and glorify God more greatly.
Today is the ninth session of goodness. I will preach about the Apostle Paul. Paul accomplished the highest level of goodness. He sacrificed his own life for his enemies and his works of great power gave much glory to God.
If you have goodness like that of the Apostle Paul, you can receive spiritual power to its fullest extent.
I pray in the name of the Lord many of you make this message your life and power to become spiritual warriors and tools of the Holy Spirit in accomplishing the world mission.
Dear brothers and sisters,
The Apostle Paul had such great goodness that we cannot examine it all in detail in just in a few sessions. So, let me give you a few illustrations of his goodness that will help you reflect upon your hearts in your lives.
The first thing in the realm of Paul’s goodness is that he was steadfastly grateful for the grace he received from the Lord no matter what kind of situations he fell into.
Once while I was deep in prayer, God the Father let me realize what kind of person Paul was.
Paul was a man of deep conviction and insistent on his own righteousness due to hereditary characteristics from birth.
He had tremendous self-pride and feeling of superiority. He was compelled to dominate others.
He was an earnest seeker of truth and so if he began to think through something in his mind, he persistently investigated and pondered upon it until he got his answer.
This way he firmly formed his personal self image with his own thought and theory resulting from his study on many things.
This self-formed image was mixed with his superiority complex and resulted in a man who enjoyed domination of others with his knowledge and self righteousness.
He enjoyed discourse with others and tried to let them submit to him in his eloquence.
As said in Acts 22:3, Paul was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers under Gamaliel and was just as zealous for God as any other person.
That’s why his righteousness never accepted the teaching that Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior. He could neither accept it nor let it pass by him at all.
He was more zealous than any other person in pursuing, arresting, and imprisoning those who believed in Christ.
However, Father God knew in advance that Paul was not only to be so persistent in his own righteousness but also that he was steadfast in what he once realized.
When the [proper time came, God the Father let him experience His grace.
On the way to Damascus to arrest believers in Jesus Christ, God let him meet our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul’s name used to be Saul. So, when Jesus appeared to Saul on the way to Damascus, Jesus said to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
For three days after the encounter, Paul was blind. He also did not eat or drink anything.
When he met Ananias, God had already prepared the way for him. Paul came to know God’s will.
He heard that Jesus he persecuted until then had chosen him long before eh did exist to carry His name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.
Paul realized truth and completely changed into a new way life. Some believers doubted whether Paul’s conversion was true or not and they were very leery of him, but Paul did not shrink back.
Acts 9:22 says, “Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.”
Again, Paul did not persecute Christians in Damascus, but he baffled them and proved to the Jews living in Damascus that Jesus is the Christ.
When he realized the secrets of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His great love of completely sacrificing Himself to save sinners, he came to consider himself as the worst of sinners.
He gave deep thanks to the grace of the Lord who had forgiven all his sins and transgressions, saved him from death, and also gave him his precious duty in accordance with the providence of God.
His gratitude was steadfast in any circumstances. The greater the persecutions and difficulties, the deeper was his confession of gratitude for the Lord.
The pains he suffered while preaching the gospel are found in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27.
“Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.”
He suffered much more persecution and difficulties than just these.
Yet despite all these persecution, he unchangingly confessed the greater thanks for the grace and love of the Lord from within his heart.
Let me give you an example of his profession I realized through deep prayers.
“No matter how difficult the situation I have faced, even though I have been in situations where I could be killed, even though I was put in the depths of prison, and no matter how long I had been endangered in the wreck of the ship, nothing mattered to me…
…I have no other choice than to praise the Lord from my inner heart for giving me many chances to receive heavenly rewards and to let me reach a glorious position although I had once persecuted my Lord…
…When I was shipwrecked and spent a day and a night in the open sea, I was never scared or confused. I was thankful for covering everything I had done to my Lord and joyful for letting me build up many heavenly rewards and giving me the chances of repaying the grace of the Lord…
…In addition, when many people persecuted me and caused me sufferings, I could lower and humble my heart due to all this…
…The time of my trials I suffered on the earth was not long, and the pains I took could not be described as “Pains.” The pains urged me to run this race of faith and I was filled with joy and thanks.”
Dear brothers and sisters,
The apostle Paul was faithful to the point of death in preaching the gospel.
He did not eat regularly nor wear good clothes. He was flogged, stoned and ridiculed by people. He suffered many difficulties.
Nonetheless, he did not feel sorry at all nor was he disheartened or disappointed.
How wonderful his profession is that he could consider so many persecutions and pains as the motivation that pushed him to run the race of faith more powerfully and still he was thankful and joyful from his heart.
Much more, he gave thanks to the Lord who let him, the least of all people, build up heavenly rewards and receiving persecutions in the name of the Lord.
Many people confess they are thankful for the grace of the Lord and have not changed their heart from the first time that they believed.
Then, is their confession the same as that of the apostle Paul offered to God?
Many of you claim you are thankful for the Lord’s grace, but how many members among you who could confess with the same words of thank-you that Paul did if you faced the same difficulties that he suffered?
I hope you look back at yourself whether you have been frustrated or discouraged at little troubles that cannot be deemed to be trials compared with Paul’s.
Have you ever been disheartened or frustrated when your jobs were not done as you prayed and petitioned?
You may have expected you would glorify God and receive blessings and be prosperous in everything because you have been faithful to the kingdom of God and dedicated yourself to the point of offering everything you had to Him. But have you ever been disappointed and sorrowful when the blessing did not come as soon as expected?
Have you been despaired when you met and suffered from some problems instead of expected blessing? Have you felt sorry thinking, “Why did God the Father not keep me although I have loved Him and been faithful as I have done”?
Or have you been discouraged and abandoned things because you followed the fleshly thought saying that “I am the one who is not loved by God”?
If any of you has this kind of fleshly mind and faces the same trials the apostle met, were you able to confess with the ‘thank-you heart’?
Apart from the confession of thanks, there is some worry that kind of person could keep his faith.
Since the apostle Paul met the Lord, he was steadfastly thankful for the Lord’s grace and his burning love for the Lord had never cooled down.
He had been faithful in preaching the gospel of the Lord to the point of death since he met Him, and confessed his gratitude until he died a martyr’s death.
He did not have mixed feelings or regret, thinking “I have ended up my life here!” He was not scared or afraid of his approaching death. Nor was he shocked.
His heart must have been full of joy and hope of seeing the Lord face to face, the Lord whom he had eagerly longed to see, and in whose arms he put himself.
I once explained the kind of confession the apostle Paul offered just before he was martyred. Let me give you the confession once again he spoke while walking step by step.
“My loving Lord! My only thoughts are of seeing you in a few moments. My walking toward the beheading place is filled with joy and thanks. My body is tied with a rope but my spirit is set free and I am not afraid of death at all. I feel as if I were running toward You my Lord who I have missed and longed to see and my heart is pounding at the expectation of seeing You.
My Lord, You met me in the midst of dazzlingly shining lights on the way to Damascus. You first came to me.
I persecuted You and caused You great harm, but You are accepting me in a glorious manner. How can I repay your grace and love? Lord, I have thought I fervently preached the gospel with all my life, but now I am looking back over my past life whether I have something I should have done and whether I have completely fulfilled the duties You gave me.
Lord, remember my beloved people who have been with me in preaching the gospel these days.
Now I will be in Your bosom, but I am worried about my beloved people who will be left behind. Lord, hold them wit the same love that you have held me with.
When I look back at all of my whole past life, I have nothing to confess but thanksgiving words.
You called me one of the least men and renewed me with Your love. You have filled my heart with Your love and guided me according you Your will and let me perform powerful works.
I will look at my loving Lord very soon…. My heart is overflowing with joy and hope of seeing my Lord. Lord, accept my spirit!”
You have heard the last confession the apostle Paul spoke. He had unchanging love for the Lord and a steadfast mind. He spread the gospel with a burning passion.
Anybody may be nervous and shrink before death, but the apostle Paul was filled with joy and thanks caused by his hope.
He remembered the souls who he had to leave behind, and committed them into the hands of the Lord.
Dear brothers and sisters,
The reason that the apostle Paul unchangingly spoke the thank-you confession in any circumstances and even in the situation of losing his own life was that he had a gentle and good heart.
How much we give thanks in every way we can is dependent according to the depths of the goodness that each of us has.
Good-hearted people are thankful for a least thing and that kind of thanks make the bigger thank-you prayers and confession.
How much have you accomplished the word saying, “I give thanks in each and every circumstance”?
For you to give thanks in any circumstance, you must be thankful for both the good and bad, the fortunate things and unfortunate things.
Anybody in this world, even one who is not a child of God, can give thanks when he has things to be thankful for.
Unlike them, believers in God can give thanks with faith when they face difficulties.
They can give thanks because they believe God the Father will solve any kind of problems they have when they ask and petition in prayer.
In addition, believers in God can give thanks because they trust and love God, who loves them, although it does not go according to their will but they find that it is God’s will that they receive sufferings.
In fact, we have received such great love and grace from God that we cannot repay all of His grace and love all the days of our life.
We were doomed to be tormented in a terrible hell for ever and ever, but by the grace of the blood of Jesus Christ, we have been forgiven, gained the right to become children of God, and will enjoy eternal life in the beautiful kingdom of heaven.
How thankful we are to imagine this only one fact!
Therefore, I hope you acknowledge God and give thanks to Him in all your ways.
Are there trials and difficulties in your real life?
Peter said in 1 Peter 1:7, “These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
And the apostle Paul said in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
Therefore, I hope you hold onto these words with faith and give the stronger prayers of thanksgiving to Father God from the bottom of your heart.
We should give thanks to God, who makes our faith complete through the testing of our faith and rewards us with the glory that can be compared with nothing else, remembering the passing and temporary trials in the Lord.
If we believe there is the good will of God in everything and give sincere thanks to God from within our hearts, God our Father will rejoice and give us the greater thank-you points.
I have experienced those things many times. Not long after I founded a church, my three daughters were choked almost to death because of carbon monoxide poisoning, namely CO poisoning caused by burned coal wastes. In that situation I gave real thanks to God.
Then, Father God brought my three daughters brought back to life and gave me greater power.
To that power nonliving things, including CO gas, began to become submissive.
In addition to these things, I have experienced trials and difficulties of many kinds that cannot be overcome with human strength, but I have never lost my gratitude for the Lord from my inner heart.
When I was discharged from my pastorate and my church was excommunicated from my former church denomination in an illegal and improper manner, I believed the good will of God would be done and gave thanks to God the Father.
As a result, God let me establish a new church denomination with the Five-folded Gospel and allowed me to lead so that I could carry out the will of the Father at the more full measure.
Besides all this, when we faced the severe trials given as the test for blessing in 1998 and 1999, I gave thanks to God the Father and believed God’s good will would surely be achieved in the midst of it and prayed to God. What had become of it?
Our church has never lost the power or collapsed but been elevated to be high above the nations. Today at our church the works of the Most High Power of Creation are happening.
So, I hope all of you give thanks in all your ways.
And I ask you to remember and keep in your mind that when you give thanks for the grace of the Lord who has saved you from the sins and given the kingdom of heaven and run a race of faith, Father God will consider you as good and give you greater points of thanksgiving.
I pray in the name of the Lord that all of you fully glorify God the Father with greater thanksgiving every day.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today I have explained to you one thing of Paul’s many good things.
Paul unchangingly gave thanks for the grace of the Lord that he received from Him in all circumstances.
Men of God who were used by Him had been refined according to their own heart vessel and then they became suitable tools for God’s use.
Some men received many more trials and others felt severe sufferings in their minds and still others suffered from physical and mental trials.
The apostle Paul had to receive many more trials including physical ones for a long time until his righteousness was broken and shattered into pieces.
But despite all these trials, Paul gave real thanks to God who made him perfect through those trials.
He confessed in Colossians 1:24, “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.”
Because Paul always gave thanks to God the Father who allowed him to receive sufferings and made him perfect through those trials, God could refine Paul at the full measure.
That’s why he could become a great and blessed apostle who saved countless souls to salvation and glorify God greatly.
Therefore, may all of you give thanks to God in all circumstances so that you can be held into the arms of Father God, be changed into a precious tool and used to the utmost degree, in the name of the Lord I pray!