James 1: 12
“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is the 41st session of ‘Heaven’ series. Today, I will talk to you about a person who went into the third kingdom of heaven by being martyred.
Martyrdom is to sacrifice one’s life to keep his faith. If a person gives up his life to keep his faith, not submitting to any persecutions, we say he was martyred.
Those who become martyrs will be recognized for their hearts and go into the third kingdom of heaven, even though they were not fully sanctified at the time of being martyred.
If they have the heart to become a martyr to keep their faith, God sees that they could have become sanctified if more time had been given to them. That is why God the Father gives the reward of a martyr to these souls.
That is, God gives them the third kingdom of heaven, which is given to only those who are sanctified.
And, if somebody is already sanctified and becomes a martyr while working faithfully for God’s kingdom, he will go into New Jerusalem. Among such cases are the apostle Paul, Peter, and Stephen.
But in some cases, it may appear a person became a martyr, but God cannot give them the reward of martyrdom.
For example, it’s the situation of the people who say they believe in God, but fall into the 7-year Great Tribulation and receive the gleaning salvation.
Those chaff-like believers who are not caught up into the air can be saved only when they become martyrs during the 7-year Great Tribulation.
So, they will not be given any of the rewards of a martyr. They will just receive shameful salvation and go into the outskirts of Paradise.
So, where will the 144,000 evangelists during the 7-year Great Tribulation go? They will go to the third kingdom of heaven.
They don’t have the faith to receive salvation at the time of the Lord’s coming in the air, but later they realize the truth and change.
As said in Revelation 14:5, there will be no lies in their mouth, and they will be blameless. They will evangelize many people until their lives are over, even in the Tribulation.
Also, the two witnesses in Revelation chapter 11 are really special among those who are left in the 7-year Great Tribulation. The two witnesses will even take their places among the 24 elders. I will explain about the two witnesses in detail in the Revelation lectures.
Likewise, there are different kinds of martyrdoms, and God gives the dwelling place and rewards according to the faith and inner heart of each one.
In our church we have also had a martyr already. In this session, I will talk to you about the faith of this person. I hope in the name of the Lord that, through this message, you will understand what the life of a true martyr is like.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we had the first martyr of our church on April 1, 2007. A missionary in Kenya was shot by robbers in Kibera, Kenya, and died.
Kibera is one of the biggest slums in Africa, with about 1 million people below the poverty level.
It is a very dangerous area where even the police officers are not willing to go.
And this missionary used to visit this place for evangelism.
Those who heard the news about him may have had questions wondering why God did not protect him.
God says in Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.”
Also, 1 John 5:18 says, “We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.” As said, Daniel was kept even in the lion’s den. Daniel’s three friends were protected and not a single one of their hairs was singed even in the fiery furnace.
But also, among the fathers of faith, there are also those who were beheaded or stoned and became martyrs.
There were 11 among the 12 disciples of Jesus who were martyred, John being the exception. The apostle Paul and Deacon Stephen also became martyrs. Then, when does God protect, and when does He allow martyrdom?
All these things are related to the justice and love of God. As a result of Jesus’ innocent death on the cross, the way of salvation for all mankind was opened. This is the providence of salvation that was achieved according to the Spiritual Law, namely, the Justice of God.
It’s the same when those who believe in God faithfully are killed by evil people who are incited by the enemy devil and Satan. Then, without fail, God will surely seek the price of their blood.
For example, so many Christians were martyred in the midst of severe persecutions at the time of early church.
Some were eaten by lions in the Coliseum, some others beheaded, and still others were burned.
And what fruit was produced at the cost of their blood? The gospel was preached to the whole of Europe, and the Roman Empire, the strongest nation of the time, was evangelized. This gospel could then be spread to the whole world.
In this way, the cost of the blood of martyrs is not given in vain. It surely brings up life again according to Justice.
It’s still in effect even after a long period of time. For example, the apostle Thomas was martyred in India.
And in 2002, God the Father prepared the way to recover the cost of the blood of Thomas. It was that numerous people were saved through the Crusade in India, which was attended by more than 3 million people in total.
The martyrdom that is allowed by God will certainly work and give birth to a new life.
Therefore, God does not give the duty of martyrdom to just anybody. He gives it to those who have never-changing and truthful hearts.
How can those who compromise with the world for their benefit become martyrs? For those who have changing and crafty hearts according to the situation, it is very difficult to become a martyr, which is to give their life in exchange for faith.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the missionary who was martyred last year did not actually receive the duty of being a martyr. God the Father did not send him to the mission field to become a martyr.
But God says that He would give him the reward of a martyr after all. I will explain about this now.
The area where the missionary was martyred was a very dangerous area. So, God actually moved his heart many times.
When he prayed, the Holy Spirit taught him whether to go to that place or not. Then if he did have to go, the Holy Spirit taught him in what ways he had to go. But the missionary could not really receive that guidance and voice.
It was because he had a very strong framework of his thoughts. His desire to bear fruit and give glory to God was too great.
This desire itself is not bad.
But through this case, I hope other missionaries will also understand the proper ways of missionary work in God’s sight.
It’s not only for overseas missionaries, but also for laymen members when they preach the gospel.
In any case, if something goes over the limit of justice, God cannot protect us. Therefore, we have to keep the law of this world, and we have to do what we are supposed to do.
If we don’t do what we are supposed to do, but just keep on going unconditionally with faith, it is not really deeds of faith.
Also, even when we make mistakes, God can protect us from having difficulties once or twice.
But even in this situation, we men should not just think, ‘its OK’ and forget about it. We have to realize why the mistakes were made and make proper adjustments.
It’s because we should not go over the limit of justice by making mistakes constantly. But because we sometimes just cover our mistakes or wrongdoings, we have greater problems later.
For this missionary also, God the Father gave him many chances to realize. It’s not that God did not protect him just because he went to a dangerous place once not being able to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice.
God gave him many chances to understand, but he just did not hear.
Whether in overseas mission, preaching the gospel locally, or visiting members, when we do God’s work, the most important thing is to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. It’s because God’s works should be done according to the will of God.
Even if we think we can bear abundant fruit in a certain way, if God stops us, we must not do it.
Let us consider the case of Abraham.
At his time, Sodom and Gomorrah were filled with sins, and finally they were destroyed by fire from heaven.
At that time Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family were living there.
Abraham had great love for souls, so what did he do about it?
Did he say, “Such a pity on those souls who would be punished in Sodom and Gomorrah! I have to go and preach to them. I will proclaim that the punishment is near so that they can repent! I have to go there and change them.”?
Because God did not say ‘Go’, he did not go. If God does not allow, we don’t do it. If He doesn’t move our heart, we don’t go. This is the form of a true man of God.
But Lot went there according to his own will and as a result he placed himself in the face of disaster. This is the difference between a man of flesh and a man of spirit.
Our missionaries should understand this point clearly. Today, there are so many places that are filled with sins like Sodom and Gomorrah.
And we should not just go to those places recklessly thinking that since we have pity for those souls, we have to preach the gospel to them. We have to obey and go only when God specially moves our hearts.
Therefore we should not mistakenly think that having our own motivation rather than listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit is faith.
The most important thing is that we have to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit to understand what God’s will is. Matthew 7:6 says, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
God the Father knows the best as to whom this gospel of holiness and the news of God’s power should be delivered.
Therefore, those workers who deliver the gospel have to pay attention to the will of God always and obey His will only.
Look at Sodom and Gomorrah. Even when Abraham prayed so earnestly, only three people were saved in that town.
I hope the missionaries can remember this fact and follow only the will of God. You are going through many difficult things in the mission fields, and I hope you will be able to give glory to God more greatly and save more souls.
Brothers and sisters, the missionary who was martyred was not completely sanctified. Also, he didn’t become a martyr according to the will of God, so why is he receiving the reward of a martyr?
It’s because God acknowledges the heart of this missionary.
After studying in a foreign country, this missionary had a great deal of knowledge.
But after hearing the gospel of holiness, he only wanted to pay back the grace he received and volunteered to go to Africa as a missionary.
He did not want to gain any wealth or fame but only devoted himself for the kingdom of God. Also, because he heard the gospel of holiness, he wanted to come forth as a fruit of sanctification.
He really wanted to cast off evil and become good. He wanted to cast off flesh and go into spirit. He even fasted and prayed fervently with all his effort. But he thought the speed of his change was much slower than he expected.
Because he couldn’t cast off flesh very well, sometimes he was disheartened.
But he wanted to do his best and bear abundant fruit. He wanted to pay back grace by working very hard to fulfill what he lacked.
He thought that, although he wasn’t really a man of spirit, he could become joy to his shepherd if he worked hard and bore great fruit.
Because God knows this heart of the missionary, God does not say, “You have done wrong,” but rather God paid him back with the reward of a martyr. Although he did not accomplish a perfect heart, God acknowledged his faithfulness to the Lord.
Now, let me tell you a part of the confessions of this missionary. “I tried to do it myself. I lacked so much in my opinion. I listened to many messages and received much grace, but I spent so much time in vain.
I tried to cast off untruths from my heart, but I couldn’t cast off many things. I had to blame myself so much because of that, and this afflicted my heart.
So, I thought many times that maybe I could also become perfect if I had stayed close to the shepherd.
But I thought the best point I had was ‘diligence’. I believed that my shortcomings would be fulfilled if I worked faithfully and diligently without being lazy in any situation.
“If I bear much fruit, my shepherd will smile at me. When I see his face smiling, how touched I will be!” I was happy thinking this way.
But because my thoughts were first and my own enthusiasm was first, I couldn’t hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and I couldn’t understand the wisdom that the shepherd talked about. I am so sorry and embarrassed.
I had nothing to give. The only thing I could give is my life, just one body of mine. And I am thankful that I could become a sacrifice to bear fruit, though it’s not great, with the price of my blood.
Please forgive me that I couldn’t be greater strength and I couldn’t give more fruit.
Though I received such great grace, I was so ashamed of and embarrassed with myself that I couldn’t confess from my heart, “I love you.”
Please forgive me for all these things. Please forgive me that I caused you pain because of my deeds that were done with my thoughts.
I am so thankful. I will be thankful again and again, and I will give thanks again.” As this missionary confessed, God the Father will surely seek the price of his blood.
God the Father promised that the mission in Africa will prevail even more greatly.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today, I talked to you about a missionary who is going into the third kingdom of heaven through martyrdom.
Although he did not accomplish sanctification, he tried so hard.
He showed a great deal of diligence not being lazy, and worked faithfully to save souls. God the Father acknowledged this point and gave him the reward of a martyr by letting him enter into the third kingdom of heaven.
But you who are listening to this message should not think, “Oh, I am not sanctified, but I can go to the 3rd kingdom of heaven if I become a martyr, so I will also be martyred.”
Even though you lose your life in the mission field, not every one who dies can receive the reward of a martyr. This missionary had great desire to become sanctified, and that is why he worked so faithfully.
If you do not try to become sanctified, you will not be given the reward of a martyr even if you lose your life in the mission field.
Whether on a mission or in martyrdom, you can bear the best fruit and the greatest reward only when it is done by the obedience to the will of God.
Also, if you really love the Father God, you must be able to understand His heart. Even physical parents will be so heartbroken if they lose their children because of accidents.
In Acts 7:55, when Stephen was being stoned becoming a martyr, our Lord couldn’t just sit down. He was standing.
Also, when Jesus was crucified, God the Father had tremendous pain in heart. God knows better than anybody how great the fruit of salvation would be through the crucifixion.
Still, God also felt the same pain that Jesus was feeling. God’s heart is the same for all other children of faith.
Therefore, whatever we do in the Lord, the first thing is that we must have the attitude to obey the will of God only.
We should also understand that a life in spiritual martyrdom is to cast off all our will and thoughts and just obey the will of the Lord.
God the Father has far greater ways and wisdom than the best things you can think of.
If you do not insist on yourself, God will surely lead you to New Jerusalem.
Therefore, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will only obey in whatever you do, so that you can pass the 3rd kingdom of heaven, and reach New Jerusalem.