1 Corinthians 9:24
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is the third session in the sermon series tiled “Heaven.” Last time I explained to you about the outskirts of Paradise which is the waiting place for heaven. Today I will speak about how the saved people live in the outskirts of Paradise.You and I have the hope that we will be lifted up into the air alive and meet our Lord there. Then, we won’t have to stay in the Waiting Place of Heaven.
Countless souls, who have been saved since human cultivation began, stay in the waiting place. If you were to hear about their lives there, you would understand that the kingdom of heaven is not just some obscure spiritual world, but you would know how orderly and systematic a place the kingdom of heaven is.
I will also speak about the lives of a few members who have entered the waiting place. I hope that all of you look back and see your faith compared with their faith and lives and properly prepare yourselves as the beautiful brides.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, After the Great White Throne Judgment many of the souls in the waiting place will enter their own dwelling places according to their levels of faith. Until then they precisely follow the spiritual order in the waiting place.For example, those at lower levels of faith show their respect to those at higher level of faith by greeting with a nod.
How can this order be established there even before the Judgment of God? We can see our faith as believers illustrated in the Bible as a race. When many runners start at the same time or according to the regular timings and finish their races, the times of all the runners are measured exactly and recorded.
Their races are measured very accurately recorded exactly to the minute and slit-second, and then their ranking is decided accordingly. The winners will receive their prizes at the prize-awarding ceremony, but they already know their own ranking when they finish the race. In other words, when they have completed the race, they are informed of their ranking through the records.
Our faith is much the same as this example of the race. It said in 1 Corinthians 9:24, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.”
The speed of each runner is recorded at the race, but what will be measured and recorded for each person according to our faith?Is it how long you have lived a religious life or the titles you have received?
Or, is it how many offerings you have given or how many tasks you have fulfilled?All these things are related to your heavenly rewards, but none of them is the ultimate standard for the record of your faith. The first standard of measure for faith that is acceptable to God is how much you have accomplished sanctification and how much you resemble the image of God.
The second standard of measure is how faithfully you have been in all the aspects of the whole house of God. According to these two standards, the faith of every soul is exactly measured and recorded when the believer draws their last breath on this earth. When the spirit-soul of believers have completed the race of faith and are staying in the waiting place, they know that their ranking has been decided from the first through the last according to the record of their own faith.
Now the history of human cultivation has not finished and we live in the end time of the world, so we have more time in which we can improve the record of our level of our faith.You can see and learn from the deeds of faith of the Fathers of Faith who are at the higher rankings than you are. So you will be able to get a much a better believer’s record of faith according to the attitude of your heart.
Thus, Jesus said in Matthew 11:12, “”From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.”
Some may think that the souls who are saved are all the children of God and ask why there are rankings in heaven, and why different dwelling places, homes and other rewards are given to each of them.The Bible clearly tells us that each of those who are saved will be at different levels of rank.
A few sessions later this will be explained in detail, so today let’s survey this.Matthew 5:19 says, “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven;
You have to keep even the small command. If you abolish any of it, even though you are saved, you will be only the least in heavenly kingdom. If you are the least in the heavenly kingdom, that means you will go to only paradise.
“But whoever keeps and teaches them, (We should keep the word and teach it. If you just teach without keeping it, it is only fleshly teaching. Then,) he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”If you are called great, you will go to either 3rd kingdom of heaven or New Jerusalem.
Just as 1 Corinthians 15:41 says, “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory,” there are different glories for each person in heaven. On this earth, the brightest thing is the sun. So, the greatest glory is the sun. And next is moon. And stars differ from one another in glory.
They have different brightness. But the size of the star does not really affect the brightness. The closer the star from the earth, the brighter it looks. So, stars are different from one another in glory. Different rankings and different glories given to each in heaven is done according to the justice of God.
If the souls who are saved just before death and the souls who have dedicated their whole lives to the Lord, like the apostle Paul, are to be treated in the same way, is it just? If so, who would be willing to dedicate their lives to our Lord? They would be lukewarm in their faith if they believed that everyone will be treated in the same way.
It is in the justice and love of God that He will reward each man differently according to what he has done and sown on earth. So, Jesus clearly said in Matthew 16:27, “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds,” Yes, according to his deeds.
And in Revelation 22:12, “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.”The Lord is giving to us according to what we have done. As much as you have accomplished sanctification in the heart, you will sit at the higher ranking and enjoy better dwelling places and greater rewards in heaven.
I will give you a real illustration. A few days ago there was an entrance examination for colleges. About 600,000 students took that examination and each of them receives his/her ranking according to the scores.
Because there is such an extremely large number of test takers, according to whether or not a student gains or loses a single point on an important question, a student gaining or one losing just one point can change the student’s place in the rankings up or down as much as tens to even hundreds of places. So, can you imagine how many souls have been saved up until now?
Anyway, there are so many people who have been saved. Their ranking has been decided, but your ranking may be changed according to your efforts.
According to how much you live by the word of God and go into spirit, the rank will be different. It won’t be different just by hundreds or thousands like the students, but it can be tens of millions of difference. Why? There are so many people who have gone to heaven since the creation of world.
Especially, there are so many who went to paradise. Now, your rank is changed according to what you do. If you do just one more thing, and if you are just a little bit more faithful, and according to how much you are sanctified, the rank will be so different.
To the extent that you throw away one more evil and accomplish a good heart, your spiritual ranking will be able to rise as high as thousands or tens of thousands of place in the ranking.
Let’s think of a few examples. Suppose you have previously judged others carelessly, but now changed and try to understand everybody with goodness, and you have formerly harbored ill-feelings when you were mistreated, but now give thanks in any kind of treatments. Then, your spiritual ranking in heaven will differ greatly with that little bit of change in your spirit and your goodness.
Therefore, I urge you to give thanks during the time of human cultivation with the hope for continual change in spirit.
The ranking of the souls who finished their lives on earth and now stay at the waiting place cannot be changed anymore.They have to live for ever in the decided ranking that has been given them according to their sanctification and their faithfulness in all God’s house.
When one enters heaven, only the spirit he has accomplished in his heart while living on the earth can enter there. The heart of flesh cannot go but it will stay here. Only the heart of spirit will go. That’s why your rank is decided in heaven according to how much spirit you cultivated, and you will go to different dwelling places.
Just imagine even the flesh is going up, too. Then, even in the kingdom of heaven, you will have envy and jealousy, and especially in paradise, you will always be envious and jealous. Is it heaven? Heaven has only light and love. Heart of flesh cannot go.
Only the part of our heart that is cultivated as spirit will go. That’s why your brightness of your light becomes different according to how much spirit you have cultivated in you. In other words, the goodness and love that are in the spiritual heart will be allowed, because no evil can be allowed to enter there. So, there will be no complaint or groaning, but only peace, thanksgiving, and love itself will be there.
So, when he meets someone whose spiritual heart is in the higher ranking in spirit, he feels love and respect for the person, and when he meets another person who is lower ranking in spirit, he never ignores or neglects the person because there is no evil in his heart anymore. In heaven the order is kept not by command or forced obedience, but by mutual love and respect coming from the heart.
Each individual’s glory and rewards are given after the Great White Throne Judgment, but spiritual ranking of each individual spirit-soul has been already decided and accomplished correctly when entering into the waiting place.In the waiting place, some are appointed as managers and thus everything is in perfect order.
So, many saved souls stay there together, but none of them feel discomfort because everything is orderly.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, What do you think the saved souls do in the waiting place? First of all, they learn spiritual knowledge from prophets. They come to know about God, the kingdom of heaven, and many other laws of the spiritual realm.
Some of them have been saved without knowing about the word of truth of God because they believed and accepted God by faith. In the waiting place, they learn about the providence of human salvation and the measure of faith. And they will be taught the kingdom of heaven, after which they will enter after the Great Judgment.
You will also learn about it in 7-year wedding banquet. The wedding banquet is really a banquet, and rather than learning, you will hear many testimonies of the prophets. You will hear how the prophets overcame the persecutions and how they could go into New Jerusalem. You will have these times of grace with prophets in New Jerusalem.
At the waiting place the souls acquire fundamental qualifications and ways of living for eternal life in heaven just as freshmen have to attend and learn at their school orientation.
Even for companies, they have preparatory trainings for the new employees. It’s not only once. They constantly have some kind of special education time once or twice every year. They may even have some physical training sessions.
At the waiting place the souls acquire fundamental qualifications and ways of living for eternal life in heaven.Unlike earthly learning, learning spiritual knowledge at the waiting place is neither boring nor difficult. Instead, they will be filled with much grace and joy as they learn. Now those of you who have a longing for heaven and the spiritual realm feel very interesting when you hear the testimonies about heaven and the spiritual realm.
Suppose you are listening to the testimonies from one of the fathers of faith recorded in the Bible. Suppose Abraham, the Father of Faith, is telling you about the kind of heart he had in offering his only son Isaac and how he was able to show the perfect deeds of faith.
And Elijah, Daniel and the Apostle Paul are with you and speak about their testimonies. What a touching and happy time it is! Thus, it is not boring or burdensome to learn spiritual knowledge in heaven.
You study endlessly even in heaven. But it’s different from studying in this world. It’s not boring or difficult, and there is no test. It is only so much fun to study. You will learn the things that you couldn’t understand on this earth. If we say, ‘from eternity through eternity’, what is this from eternity?
We will learn the history of the Father God even before the eternity. Also, you will learn with what kind of heart and attitude God the Father made each of the animals and insects, and how He placed them at the time of creation.
So, those things will be so interesting. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to learn them, because in heavenly kingdom there is no dictatorship. Neither is there any test or flunking. But I think there will be nobody who will not want to learn those things. In heaven there are so many unusual things that we cannot experience on earth, so learning something in heaven is anew every day and learning is endless.
While the souls stay at the waiting place, they learn spiritual knowledge but wonder what is happening on earth. I do not mean they are curious about worldly things. They wonder what has happened to their churches, how much the churches have fulfilled the tasks assigned by God, and how much they have accomplished the mission of world evangelism.
They cannot come down to the earth. So, God understands their hearts and let them hear the current news of the earth through some of the angels that are permitted to come to the earth and through some prophets whose faith is at the highest level.
I will explain about the prophets a little later. It is a pleasure to the souls who stay at the waiting place when the angels and the prophets tell them the current news of the earth.
God revealed to me about a few souls who used to attend this church and now stay at the waiting place. The souls who attended Manmin Joong-ang Church stay together in a separate part of the waiting place.
Just as Jesus said in Matthew 18:18, “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven,” the souls who served the same shepherd and the same church have a special fellowship in heaven.
It’s the same between husband and wife, and parents and children. If the couple loved spiritual love in this world, they will love each other much more, and they will always meet each other. But if they led a fleshly kind of Christian life, if they were a fleshly couple, they may not have as good relationship as that. It’s because they will blame each other.
They may think, “If the husband treated me better, I could have gone into better heavenly dwelling place.” Also, the husband may say the same thing, “If my wife served me better, I could have gone to better place in heaven.” They will not have resentment, but anyway fleshly love is useless. It’s eternal when you love spiritual love.
The souls who attended this church and been saved stay in a separated place in the waiting place. They are always wondering what has happened to this church. They pray for the world evangelization and the construction of the Grand Sanctuary that are providences assigned to our church by God.
A senior deaconess who passed away in the providence of God had prayed for the church and the shepherd a few times every day as a prayer devotee. Now she is always praying in the same way in the waiting place.
Thus, the souls who attended this church and been saved live together, pray for the church and the shepherd, and rejoice when they hear the good news about our church.When they hear some special news about overseas crusades where we gave great glory to God, they rejoice and dance like in party. Likewise, the souls who stay at the waiting place for heaven rejoice and have a happy time when they hear the news about the earth.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, There are some souls who have not stayed in this waiting place for heaven. This refers to those who accomplished whole spirit and gained the qualifications by which they could enter New Jerusalem, the best dwelling place of heaven, and were lifted up alive during the Old Testament. They did not stay at the Upper Grave, or in the waiting place for heaven, but entered directly into New Jerusalem.
Even those who had the qualifications to enter New Jerusalem went to the upper grave first, if they were not lifted up alive. Those who were lifted up alive went to New Jerusalem directly without going to upper grave. But in the New Testament times, those who are qualified to enter New Jerusalem will directly go to New Jerusalem without staying at paradise.
They help with God’s works staying in a separate place in New Jerusalem. They have their houses, but they don’t go in there yet. After the Great White Throne Judgment, they will go into their respective houses. Until then, they have a separate place which is around the throne of God. They are helping Him there.
The separated place prepared for the souls is one of a few special spaces that God put into the holy city of New Jerusalem whose length, width and height are all 6,000 Ri. (Ri is a traditional Korean unit in measuring distance; 1 ri is about 400 meters, or 437 yards)
Elijah, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, the Apostle Paul, the Apostle Peter, the Apostle John, David and Samuel accomplished complete sanctification in their hearts and were faithful to the responsibilities of the whole house of God. They and a few more stay in the separated space in the Holy City of New Jerusalem and help God with His works.
It does not mean that they cannot or won’t come down to the outskirts of Paradise.They can go down not only to Paradise but also to the earth with the permission of God.For example, when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain during His public ministry, Elijah and Moses came down to talk with Jesus.
In conclusion, the souls who accomplished whole spirit and were saved stay in New Jerusalem and work according to specific tasks assigned to each of them. Some of them serve beside the Throne God while some others go down to the waiting place for heaven on the outskirts of Paradise and teach the saved souls spiritual knowledge.
Abraham, the Father of Faith, used to take care of the saved souls in the Upper Grave until our Lord Jesus resurrected and ascended into heaven.The prophets I have above told you did not stay at the waiting place for heaven. Conversely, some souls stay in the waiting place, the Upper Grave for ever and ever.
They are the souls who died in the womb of the mother and were saved. Most of the souls who die in the womb are saved except very few .They are 6 months old or older. God gives the spirit in the 6th month. Before the 6th month, God doesn’t give the spirit.
In that case, if they die in the womb, they will disappear like animals. Their soul will disappear. But from the 6th month, the babies will be given the spirit. But if they die in the fetus, they don’t go through any human cultivation, so they live in the upper grave.
But not all of them will go there. Still, there are a few who will not be saved. I will explain about it next week. What kind of souls cannot be saved among the souls who die in the womb? And why do the souls who die in the womb and are saved have to stay at the Upper Grave for ever?
Actually the souls have not put on a perfect shape as a human being in the womb. What kind of spiritual body will they have? What kind of spiritual body will the souls put on who were saved through human cultivation and stay at the waiting place?This will be explained in detail next time.
Let me conclude the message. Dear brothers and sisters in christ, Today I have explained to you what kind of life the souls live who stay at the waiting place. They have completed the race of faith, namely, human cultivation and been assigned their own ranking according to the records of their deeds and worked and lived in the decided order.
In addition to the souls who accomplished whole spirit and have entered New Jerusalem, instead of the waiting place for heaven, and who help God with His works, there are also those who stay at the Upper Grave for ever. You have to realize how thankful it is to experience human cultivation on earth.
You may shed tears at some sorrows or feel pain in your heart on earth. But through it all you can discover the true and everlasting force driving toward the kingdom of heaven. You suffer during the trials, but those who have good faith will not feel it’s difficult even during the trials.
May each of you clearly understand how your heavenly ranking will be measured and decided according to the measure of your spirit and may you go into spirit and whole spirit quickly, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I pray!