“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place unless you repent.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, members of over 6,000 branch churches in Korea and all over the world including the United States, Canada, Peru, Honduras, Bolivia, El Salvador, Argentina, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, China, Japan, Pakistan, Nepal, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, India, Mongolia, Israel, Egypt, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Angola, Burundi, Rwanda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Botswana, Swaziland, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Dagestan and local sanctuary members, those who are attending the service on the Internet all over the world, and television viewing audiences,
This is the 28th session in the sermon series “Heaven.”
In the last session I explained to you about the third case in which people will inherit Paradise as their eternal dwelling place.
Some of you should have reached the 3rd level of faith and beyond at some point in time within the long years of your faith and church duties you’ve had, but instead you have fallen down to the 1st level of faith because you lost the first love for the Lord, you’ve sinned and fallen into temptation.
But even if you have lost your first love, if you repent again, regain the first deeds and diligently circumcise the heart, you can grow in your faith once again.
Since you know the word of God and have had experiences in the spirit, you can quickly recover and then regain the measure of faith that you possessed before you lost the first love.
In our lives as believers we are in the midst of spiritual warfare, and to be victorious in spiritual warfare we must have spiritual growth.
The enemy devil tries to tempt you to love the worldly pleasures you have previously repented. So, you have to drive out the temptations of the enemy devil and stand firm on the word of God.
Furthermore, you have to uproot those sinful natures from the heart so that the devil may not tempt you of anything else anymore.
But some of you receive the great grace by which you could restore the first love that you had lost, but when trials came upon you, you failed to pass the trials and stumbled again.
Can you imagine how heartbroken our Father God is when He sees it!
The person about whom I will tell you is one such wretched person.
Through this message, I wish for you to overcome all the trials of your faith with joy and pleasure by looking up at the honors that will be given you in the future.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ
The woman of which I will continue to speak today used to be faithful to the kingdom of God as a district leader, but when she received blessings in her business she neglected the works of God and ceased praying because of her busy workload. Finally she was stricken with cervical cancer.
She realized her wrongdoings and thoroughly repented of them, and then received my prayer. She received the healing and all the cancer cells were gone by the great grace of God.
She was so grateful for this amazing grace and became filled with the Holy Spirit, and so she began to fulfill the duty of a district leader.
Because she realized that everything she does under the sun is meaningless, she put her mind on the works of God more than on the works of the world, and felt happy in what she was doing.
But financial difficulty troubled her again as she was progressing in her love and faith.
In other words, the temptation of money that had caused her to lose the first love for the Lord came on her once again.
When you face this kind of trial, you have to flatly drive it away and must not lose the joy and thanksgiving by thinking about the grace and love of God. Then, you can pass the trial.
When she was healed of her disease by the power of God, she confessed that she would concentrate on the works of God rather than matters of food, clothes, and home.
I suggested that she should both keep her business and also fulfill her God-given duties.
If she had remembered the grace of God and passed the trial of finance with a burning heart, God would have taken care of everything she needed. But she did not.
When she met with financial difficulties and life became difficult again, she failed to carry out her God-given duties and lost the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
How then did she lose the fullness even though she received such tremendous grace?
No matter how great the grace you have received if you do not circumcise the heart and stop trying to get rid of your sins, then the grace received will not last within you.
Her original nature was a strong attitude of self-righteousness and she had such a rigid mental framework that she was not at peace with the people around her.
If you have received such great grace, you are not only to be faithful outwardly, but also to be faithful spiritually. It is the spiritual faithfulness that is important and that means “circumcision the heart.”
But if you cease circumcising the heart and casting away evils from the heart, the evils will be revealed depending on the fleshly situations.
When this woman met with the money problems again, she lost the fullness of spirit and changed the determination she had made after she was healed.
She failed to pass the trial and finally the same disease reoccurred.
In John 5:14, Jesus found a man whom He had healed of his 38 years of illness in the temple and said to him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.”
If you commit sins again after you were healed by the power of God, something worse can happen to you. And when the same disease occurs to you, it is very difficult for you to be healed by God.
It does not mean God can’t do it, but it means that it is not easy to restore the broken trust and the relationship.
This woman used to be a district leader, so when she was ill in bed, many cell leaders and sub-district leaders took care of her devotedly.
Those workers made various efforts to take care of her for about a year.
But this woman suffered severe pains and had so much trouble that she did not even thank the workers who took care of her, but grumbled and complained toward them.
The evils that she had not cast off, but had held in heart were poured out in words when her situation reached an all-time low.
She should surely have thanked the workers of faith who sincerely served and took care of her, even though they were not her family. But because she failed to throw away evils from the heart, the hidden evils came out in that situation.
If you are at the 2nd level of faith, you will surely endeavor to live by the word of God and suppress anger not to reveal it outwardly.
You may sometimes fail to hold your anger in check and show it, but soon you regret it and repent.
But this woman poured out the words of groaning and complaint to those whom she should have thanked, and finally she caused problems for them.
She could not be deemed to have even reached the 2nd level of faith in the sight of our Father God.
Just as Lot, who was living in the city of Sodom that was to be destroyed, could be saved through the earnest prayer of Abraham, a righteous man, the very reason that she stayed inside the boundary of salvation was because of the earnest prayer of love for her salvation by the shepherd.
Fortunately she looked back her past life and wrongdoings in detail and repented of them shortly before she drew her last. Thus, she barely gained salvation but couldn’t expect a better place than Paradise.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
I have seen numerous people receiving healing of their incurable diseases by the power of God.
When they were healed of their incurable diseases that could not be cured with modern medicines, they were filled with the joy of new life and confessed their determinations saying, “I will completely believe in God! I’ll be faithful to the point of death!”
However, I have seen many of them who changed their minds after they received healing.
They lost the fullness of the Holy Spirit and looked to the world again. In doing so they defied the word of God and committed sins again.
They foolishly forgot that escaping from eternal death, namely everlasting torment in the fire of hell and receiving salvation is much more important than the healing of diseases of the body.
Through these examples, I ask you to remember that you must not be satisfied with the healing and blessing that is given once, but continue from that time on to circumcise the heart for things that will be of even greater importance.
If you think of diseases and various severe trials and troubles that came upon you because you failed to live by the word of God, how could you dare to say it is burdensome and difficult to throw away a changing and corruptible mind, and the sinful desires of the flesh?
Is it really more burdensome to cast away untruths from the heart than the pains you have suffered from diseases on the body and various trials?
Not only is it much easier. If you are really grateful for the grace and love of God, you have to throw off evils and untruths from the heart so the enemy devil and Satan can’t accuse you of anything.
And then you have to fill your heart with goodness and love, and to become a person of spirit and whole spirit as soon as possible.
Thus, you can become qualified to enter New Jerusalem, the best dwelling place of heaven, and live in happiness together with our Father God and our Lord for ever and ever.
I ask you to remember that this is the greatest desire of our Father God for His children and to accomplish it.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We can find some biblical characters who entered Paradise for similar reasons.
Adam and Eve are prime examples.
Adam and the woman disobeyed the word of God and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and so they were driven out into this earth.
In Genesis 2:17, God told Adam, “but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
How then could Adam and Eve receive salvation and go into Paradise?
Today evils and sins are rampant in the world. Even if a person has been completely stained with various sins, if he repents of his sins and turns from them, God will forgive him of his sins.
God forgives even a murderer only if he/she repents from the heart and turns from that sins.
Adam and Eve committed the sin of disobedience, but had a pure and good conscience compared with that of modern people.
Also, they were created with the loving touch of our God and raised by Him for a long time. So, when they repented of their sins from the heart why didn’t our God forgive them?
Adam and Eve had to suffer various sorrows while they experienced human cultivation.
When they lived in the Garden of Eden, all kinds of fruits were abundant and they could eat them anywhere and anytime. But, from the time they began living on this earth they had to suffer and sweat for food to eat.
The pain of childbearing was multiplied to Eve. They came to know sorrows and tears caused by sin. They even experienced the terrible murder that happened between brothers.
In living this kind of a life, how much do you think that Adam and Eve missed the former days when they had lived in the protection and love of God?
When they lived in the Garden of Eden everything was natural and taken for granted so they didn’t know the meaning of thankfulness; they could not realize happiness because they knew nothing else to relate to it.
But when they experienced the relativity of things, at last they came to realize how happy their life in the Garden of Eden had been, and to be thankful for the love they had received. And they thoroughly repented of abandoning the word of God who had loved them and they repented of the former wrongdoings of disobedience.
The God of love accepted their repentance and allowed them to enter the kingdom of heaven.
But they were not allowed to enter a better place than Paradise because it was not a small sin at all for them to have abandoned such a great love of God.
Another reason that Adam and Eve entered only Paradise was because sins entered the world because of their disobedience and it caused so many people to experience sufferings and go the way of death.
Their eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was in the midst of the providence of God for human cultivation. But because it brought sufferings and death on countless souls, Adam and Eve were not able to enter a better place than Paradise and they received no glorious rewards.
What has become of Cain, who committed the first murderer of mankind?
Cain was the firstborn of Adam and Eve on earth. When God accepted the offerings his younger brother, Abel had given, but did not accept his offerings, Cain became so jealous that he killed his younger brother Abel.
The reason God did not accept the offerings of Cain was that Cain did not give God the offerings of blood in accordance with the commands of God, but based on his own thoughts, Cain gave offerings from his crops instead.
Cain had been taught the sacrifice of blood by his father Adam and mother Eve, and he knew very well what the will of God was, but he disobeyed.
When he saw God not accepting his offerings due to his disobedience, he was not willing to repent and turn.
Instead, he became so angry that his countenance fell. He ignored God’s warning even though God had told him, “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Later Cain killed his bother Abel.
Then, was Cain saved?
Some people say that Cain could not be saved because he killed his righteous brother Abel.
Cain came to know God through his parents, and he did not inherit much sinful nature from his parents compared to what is inherited today.
He a momentary fit of envy Cain murdered his brother, but his conscience was much purer than that of the people who live in this world full of sins and evil today.
So, even though Cain committed murder, he was able to repent of his sin through the discipline of God and God gave him mercy.
In Genesis 4:13-14, when Cain was accursed by God, he said to God, “My punishment is too great to bear! Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
God answered him in the following Verse 15, “Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.”
This verse tells us how thoroughly Cain repented of his sin with tears after he murdered his brother.
When he repented, he could communicate with God again and God appointed a sign of forgiveness for Cain.
If Cain was doomed to destruction and hell, why did God listen to his prayer and appoint the sign for him?
Cain was accursed to be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth as the result of the sin of murder, but he fortunately received salvation.
Like Adam and Eve, Cain also was barely saved and entered Paradise, the outskirts of Paradise.
Cain murdered his brother in the days when sins and evils were not planted that deeply into the people, so if he repented of his sin and was forgiven of it he could go into the better place than Paradise in the light of God’s justice.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ
I have provided a couple of illustrations of those who have stayed at the 1st level of faith and were barely saved because they have lost their first love and backslid in their faith.
As I explained to you that you have to thoroughly repent of wrongdoings and restore the first deeds in order to regain the first love.
To restore the first deeds, you have to concentrate on spiritual change more than on outward and physical service. In other words, you have to try your best to continue the more important act of circumcising the heart.
You have to give thanks for the great grace and love you have received and to get rid of every form of corruptible and fleshly mind from the heart so that you cannot change in paying back the grace with your life.
And though the examples of Adam and Eve and Cain, you have to keep one important fact in mind even if their situations are different from yours.
When you have the understanding of the will of God and disobey, even if you are saved by the unfailing love of God through your thorough repentance, you cannot enter a better place of heaven in accordance with the justice of God.
When you disobey God in the sight of God even if you profess your faith in God and clearly understand His will, you are deemed to defy God.
And the relationship of trust between you and God will be broken.
In order to restore the broken trust, you have to obey the word of God more thoroughly than ever before and to show incorruptible and unchanging faith in any kind of trials and afflictions.
Only then will our God recognize your faith in Him and you receive blessing through the restoring of the trust in God.
So, I urge you not to lose the first love at all but to increase your love for the Lord day by day.
If you are restoring the first love that you have lost, you don’t have to feel discouraged or frustrated because it is important with what kind of attitude you make up your mind.
May each of you advance toward the better kingdom of heaven with the greater deeds of truthful faith and enter New Jerusalem, the best place of heaven, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I pray!