1 Peter 5: 4
“And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is the 35th session of the Heaven lecture series. Continuing from the last session, I will talk to you about the cases of those who went into 2nd kingdom of heaven. With this session, I will finish talking about the second kingdom of heaven.
In the Olympic games, which country would be ranked higher, one with 10 sliver medals or another one with 1 gold medal? The country with one gold medal will be ranked higher. It’s because they consider one gold medal is better than 10 sliver medals.
Then, let me ask you one question here. Whose glories would be greater, one who gained with the most and greatest rewards in 2nd Kingdom of Heaven, or the one who barely made it to the Third Kingdom of Heaven?
The fact is that, no matter how great the rewards are in the 2nd kingdom of heaven, it can never be compared with the glory given in third kingdom of heaven.
Suppose there is a person who is sanctified and has worked faithfully for the kingdom of God. Then, we can compare his rewards with the gold medal in Olympic Games. Then, the rewards given to those who are not sanctified can be compared with silver or bronze medals.
The reason why there is such a great different between the 2nd kingdom of heaven and the 3rd kingdom of heaven is because of the differences between the flesh and the spirit.
Therefore, I hope you will more deeply realize the importance of sanctification. I urge you to cast off the passive thoughts of just thinking, “Ah, it would be so good to become sanctified.” I urge you to have an active and passionate heart, thinking, “I must be sanctified by all means.”
If we understand why our Lord had to go through such wretched sufferings of the cross, then it will be necessary for us cast off sins completely and we will have to become sanctified.
Jesus took up the great sufferings of the cross so that we would not be slaves to sin any more.
So, if we do not cast off sins, but instead we enjoy them, we can say we do not know the grace of the Lord.
At this time, I hope you will make up your mind once again thinking, “I will become sanctified and truly pay back the grace and love of the Lord.”
I pray in the name of the Lord that this moment will be a moment of blessing for you to renew your focus and jump up another step toward sanctification.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the reason why I am emphasizing sanctification like this from the beginning of the sermon is because it is so relevant to the believer I am going to introduce today.
This believer had so many rewards in her Heavenly dwelling place that there is no more room in her house to keep them. But she was not sanctified. That is why I feel such anxious concern in my heart.
I hope that through the example of this person it will awaken you and give you grace.
The one I am going to introduce to you is Senior Deaconess Aeja Ahn, who used to be the number one prayer devotee and who had been with us from the opening of the church.
She passed away in April 2006. At that time, God let me know the dwelling place to which she was going, and about her rewards. She will go into the 2nd kingdom of heaven.
And God told us that there is no other person in the 2nd kingdom of heaven who has more rewards than she has received. In other words, she received the largest piece of land and most rewards in 2nd kingdom of heaven.
Why, then, has Deaconess An received such great reward?
I will tell you some reasons.
First of all, it’s because she accumulated so much prayer for God’s kingdom for a long period of time.
She had been praying with my wife and me even before the opening of our church, and even after the church opening, she lived only in prayers.
She had no hope in this life. It was because she was hurt and offended by this world so much. If it had not been so, she could have had a lingering attachment to the world.
Her only hope was prayer. It was because she could forget about all her sorrows and pains while praying.
Also, to her, prayer was the only way to pay back God’s grace for her. She wanted to be the strength to her shepherd by kneeling down before God and praying.
She had the fervor, thinking, “I don’t have any special talent, but I will be strength to my shepherd with my prayers.” So, she lived only with prayers.
Even when the church had an outing event, she went to a solitary place and prayed.
Because she prayed for the kingdom of God for a long period of time, her rewards kept on piling up.
But there are cases where, even though one has been faithful for a long period of time, his rewards are not fully piled up. It’s because some rewards are diminished.
For example, if we work hard for the kingdom of God, our rewards will be stored.
But there are some people who let their complaints out if some things are not right in their sight. Then, the stored rewards will be taken away. The things that we do that break peace, cannot become our rewards.
In this way, even if one might have been so faithful for a long time, he may not have so many rewards in heaven.
If the rewards were stored continuously, it would be so much, but after the rewards are stored and taken away repeatedly, finally, the final amount of rewards will not be that much.
But in the case of Senior Deaconess Ahn, her rewards had almost never been taken away. Of course, she sometimes had momentary complaints and expressed them.
But, because she prayed continuously, she repented of her complaints immediately. So, her rewards were rarely taken away.
Also, because her rewards had been stored for a long time the amount is so great.
There is another reason why her rewards are great. She is the one who provided the full amount of security money we needed to deposit for our first sanctuary.
God blessed her in a special way that she could offer the amount of money needed for the deposit money of the sanctuary.
She had previously put up her house for sale, but it had not been sold for a long time.
But God gave His word that He was going cause the house to be sold, but according to her faith, she was to increase the price of the house.
She decided that she would give the amount of the increase in the price as church construction offering.
Since selling the house that wasn’t being sold anyway would be good, Deaconess An’s unbelieving husband gave his consent to everything.
So, according to her faith, she increased the price of the house by 3 million won (~$3000).
God caused the house to be sold immediately after she put it up again for sale with the increased price. She offered the 3 million won to God as she had promised. That is how we were able to get the first sanctuary of our church.
Because she offered the whole amount for the first sanctuary, how great her reward would be just for this!
Then, why did she go to only the 2nd kingdom of heaven if she had accumulated such great amounts of rewards in Heaven?
It was because she did not cast off some things of the flesh from her heart. One of them was arrogance.
In what way was she arrogant? As she had nothing, she had nothing she could boast about, so in a fleshly sense, she was not arrogant. The problem was her spiritual arrogance.
She unknowingly had thoughts like, “I love the church and the shepherd more than anybody. I pray better and more than anybody else. There is nobody who can match me in prayer.”
Because she lived only with prayers for a long time, she had many rewards accumulated. But from another side, it was a source of arrogance.
This case is common for those workers who are faithful to God’s kingdom.
It happens when the spiritual faithfulness to circumcise one’s heart is less than the physical faithfulness of actually doing the work.
It was not the case with the apostle Paul who worked much more than all other apostles. He always confessed from the bottom of his heart that what he was was only the grace of God.
Senior Deaconess Ahn also used to confess that she was a lowly lady and she was nothing.
But in her deep heart, she had arrogance.
She clearly realized that she had such heart only after she was released from her physical body. Likewise, spiritual arrogance is very difficult to recognize by oneself. It is a great hindrance in going into spirit.
This is the reason why senior deaconess Ahn could not go into spirit even though she lived in prayer for a long time.
Brothers and sisters, another reason why she will enter into 2nd kingdom of heaven is because she could not have peace and holiness with everybody.
She lived in very unfavorable circumstances. She did not receive sufficient love from her family members. She endured each day with faith. She had many difficult things throughout her life.
She hung on to prayers feeling that she would die without praying. So, she wanted to receive love and gain peace at least in the church.
So, if somebody treated her nicely, she reacted with a good heart. But if somebody were not to treat her so nicely, she had heartfelt disappointment.
Because I knew her circumstances and situation, I never pointed out her weak points or reproved her about it. Even though she had something that was not very virtuous, I just understood it.
But because my wife, the prayer center president, was close to her, she sometimes was able to advise her from time to time.
“Deaconess (Senior deaconess), why did you do that? It would be much better if you don’t do it next time!”
But, immediately she would become disappointed. She thought, “My shepherd does not do that. He always comforts me and he is on my side.”
Rather than casting off her ill-feelings, she somewhat looked down on prayer center president who did not really understand her.
Since she had this kind of heart even toward the prayer center president, what kind of heart must she have had towards others? Those who truly long for the spirit will listen to the words of even the little ones.
But some people listen to only those people whom they acknowledge to be right. These people should realize how strong their self-righteousness and self-frameworks are.
In the case of senior deaconess Ahn, if somebody did not treat her so nicely, she became disappointed and sad.
Because she knew the truth, she thought, “I should not have ill-feelings, and treat her nicely.” But she still had some lingering ill-feelings deep inside her heart.
So, when there was another occasion, her disappointment rose again. That is why she could not have peace with some people from time to time.
But it doesn’t mean that she argued with or got angry at others to break peace.
Because of her disappointment, she was offended and would not talk to certain people. Her heart was agitated and she had some discomfort. The fact that she had these fleshly feelings was the reason why she could not go into spirit.
Sometimes, she could not have peace because of her envy and jealousy.
For example, she experienced many difficult situations regarding her children also. She would see other children in the same age group as her own children who were doing well, and she had disappointments.
So, she could not praise their excellence or rejoice with them together. This too was also caused by envy and jealousy.
She lived with prayers for such a long time, but she could not pull out the roots of her evil from her heart.
The weeds will keep on coming up if you don’t pull them out by the roots.
It’s the same with the evil natures in heart. That is why our Father God is asking us to cast off all forms of evil.
Especially for the prayer devotees, in each of their devotional services, God is emphasizing that they must have lips of goodness when they pray.
It is to be emphasized that their faithfulness is not completed just by praying for many hours, but they have to circumcise their hearts.
If they have evils remaining in their heart, they will use their fleshly thoughts when they pray.
And this kind of prayer cannot become perfect and acceptable aroma before God no matter how much they pray.
All the church members here should remember this fact.
And now, God is setting apart prayer devotees from His side, because He wants to receive the perfect aroma of prayers.
It is because a single word of prayer from a sanctified person is much more powerful than a 100-word prayer from a man of the flesh. Therefore, I hope you will more diligently and earnestly pray to cast off all forms of evil.
I will introduce to you some of the contents from what senior deaconess Aeja Ahn confessed.
“I am so ashamed and sorry for all these things. I did so wrong.
I am so ashamed before the shepherd, the prayer center president, and everybody.
Please forgive me that, even though I stored up much prayer, I could not cast off one evil thing from my heart.
I was so arrogant. I confessed with my lips that “I am so lowly like this. I am a very lowly woman.”
But in my heart was not the same. I had the arrogance that I loved the church more than anybody, I loved the shepherd more than anybody, and I prayed more than anybody else.
I see that I had the arrogant thought deep inside my heart thinking that I could pray better than anybody else.
But after I was released from the physical body, I realize I was so evil.
I am so sorry that I just prayed for many things without casting off the evil.
But God allowed me so many things in thought of the shepherd and God gave me so many rewards. I am so thankful.
But to me, it is so shameful to even receive these rewards. Please forgive me, this daughter who has not accomplished more perfection. When I see my shepherd later, I will kneel down before him and ask for forgiveness. I will repent before the prayer center president, too.
It’s not that I hated her. I actually loved her.
But I just thought of my shepherd and I wanted to catch up with the prayer center president, and I had envy and jealousy. Please forgive me.
I really hope those who pray will not be like me. I hope they will obey the teachings of the shepherd.
I am so ashamed before the prayer devotees and before everybody.
Now, I am so thankful that I gained peace as a sheep of my shepherd.
I give thanks that I was destined to die, but he sent me to this good place and gave me the grace to comfortably take rest. The grace that I received from the shepherd was so great during my whole life.
I will keep on thinking of the grace of my shepherd again and again.
I give thanks that I can have the comfortable heart, resting in this place, by confessing that I am ashamed of myself before my shepherd.
Until the Lord comes back again, I will pray for everything of my shepherd.
Just as I prayed habitually on earth many times a day, I will pray here as well.
Waiting for the second coming of the Lord, I will keep on praying and praying.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, senior deaconess Aeja Ahn had already received a blessing by her life being extended. It was in 1980’s. She could not eat anything and she did not have any strength to pray.
God was going to take her spirit away. Knowing this, I and a couple more people prayed in petition before God.
“Father God! Please do not take her now. Extend her life!”
We prayed all-night for many nights. As a result, God revived her.
Because her life was extended once, it was difficult for her life to be extended again.
Also, considering all her circumstances, it was blessing for her since she was going to heaven.
If she kept on living on this earth, she would have continuously experienced sorrow and disappointment.
Therefore, it was much comfort that she went into a place with everlasting comfort. We can gain a good lesson through this case.
It is that just loving God is not everything.
Just crying out in prayer is not everything either.
If we love God, there must be evidence.
If we cry out in prayer, we must have fruit.
It is the circumcision of heart. It is to cast off evil and become sanctified.
I hope all the members here will remember this and truly get into the place of sanctification.
By doing so, I pray in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you will be true joy in the sight of God.