[Romans 12: 3]
“For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Last week, there was the college scholastic aptitude test. Before such a big exam, those students who are preparing for exams have to work hard and have tremendous perseverance.
The parents of those students probably pitied their children and feel sorry for them. But only because they could sympathize with their children, they couldn’t say to their children, “You can give up on the exam and just rest.”
If the students gave up on the exam, they may feel comfortable for the moment, but they wouldn’t gain any fruit.
Therefore, the parents try to encourage their children and to provide them with a better study environment. When our Father God looks at us believers who are going the way of faith, His heart is the same.
Because we will gain enjoyment of the glory of the heavenly kingdom only when we go through the process of human cultivation in which we have to toil and sweat, God encourages us so that we will try harder.
1 Corinthians 15:19 says, “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” As said, the worldly people may feel it is pitiable looking at your life.
On Sundays, when all other people have rest or enjoy themselves, you come to church and attend worship service for the whole day and then have meetings. Whether cold or hot, whether in rain or snow, you attend nightly prayer meeting, sometimes carrying your children with you.
You don’t drink, or smoke, or enjoy other worldly pleasures, so the people in the world may think, “What fun do they have in their life?”
Many people do not really try to work hard, but those with faith are always faithful and work honestly, so it seems they are taking a more difficult way for themselves.
Even if somebody strikes your right cheek without proper reason, you do not react to it but you rather turn your left cheek also. So, you seem to be fools, too. But even though you are going the narrow way, it doesn’t mean you are to be pitied.
It may seem difficult in the eyes of the worldly people but at the end of this narrow way is waiting the glorious gate of the heavenly kingdom.
You definitely have to go through that gate. So, God tells you to go the narrow way and gives you grace and strength for you to run the race well.
And, as your faith and hope grow bigger in your heart, namely as your measure of faith increases, the way to kingdom of heaven will no more be so narrow but wide.
You will see the gate of heavenly kingdom more clearly and you can run towards it without hindrances, so your race of faith becomes easier and easier.
Through this message, I hope you will have greater measure of faith and be filled with overflowing hope of heaven.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will run the race on the way to heavenly kingdom with happiness and fullness everyday.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this is the 7th session on the “Measure of Faith” and as we continue from the last session, I will explain about the 2nd Level of Faith. Just as we register the birth of a baby at a local government office, when one accepts the Lord and is saved, his name is recorded in the Book of Life in heaven.
Once he receives salvation, receives the Holy Spirit, and becomes a child of God, he can believe in God the Creator and that there is a heaven and a hell. He can also believe that Jesus Christ is his personal Savior.
But because he does not know the truth very well, he cannot live a life that is different from that of the worldly people. He just attends church living a life that is not very different from his life before he accepted the Lord.
Then, as he listens to more of God’s word, he realizes that he has to live by the truth. Now he begins to try to live by the word he learned.
This is the beginning of the 2nd Level of Faith. At the 2nd Level of Faith, you try to live by the Word, but you cannot practice it completely. Sometimes, you do, but at some other times you follow your old ways of life knowing that you shouldn’t commit sins.
But even at the same 2nd Level of Faith, each person practices the word in different measures. On the one hand, there are people who just got into the 2nd level from the 1st level. For these people, what they are not able to practice in faith is much more than what they can do.
On the other hand, there are people who have greater strength to practice the word, so they are closer to the 3rd level than the 1st level.
Therefore, you can discern your measure of faith even at the same 2nd level of faith as to whether you have accomplished 10%, 50%, or 80 or 90% and are going into the 3rd level soon from the 2nd Level of Faith.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, even if you have important duties in the church, if you still do not practice the Word and live in the untruth, you are at the 2nd level of faith having the faith of a child.
It applies to pastors, elders, senior deaconesses, cell leaders and Sunday school teachers as well.
God looks at the inner heart of people, and He does not measure our faith according to our church titles, how long we have been a Christian, or how well we know God’s word and teach it.
He looks at how much we obey His Word and act in the Truth.
1 Corinthians 3:13 says, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able [ to receive it.] Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?”
If there is jealousy and strife, it means they didn’t even cast off works of the flesh.
If you have this kind of heart and deeds like these then you are revealing that you are still in the flesh and at you are at the 2nd Level of Faith and you walk in faith is like mere men.
Of course, if you are a new believer who is new to faith, God will give you grace and strength as much as you try being at the 2nd level of faith, so you can be full of the Holy Spirit.
But if you remain at the 2nd level of faith for many years, even though you have been a Christian for a long time and may have a church title too, you are building up a wall against God.
It is just like pretending that you didn’t hear God’s word and you are ignoring God’s word after hearing it for so many years, how embarrassing this is!
Therefore, even if you pray and attend worship service, it is difficult for you to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit and you cannot gain spiritual understanding easily. When you get a disease or face tests or trials, you don’t have confidence, so you don’t have the faith to receive the answers.
Hebrews 5:12-14 says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes [only] of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”
Because you have experience in faith, you should realize spiritual things and go into spiritual realm more quickly, but you cannot but receive rebukes since you are staying at the faith of a child.
I hope none of you will stay at the beginning stage of faith.
I urge you in the name of the Lord that you will go into spiritual realm more quickly, like those who are on rapid flow. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, then what kind of dwelling place and rewards will the people at the 2nd level of faith receive?
With the 1st level of faith, they stay in paradise and they don’t have personal houses or personal rewards. But at the 2nd level of faith, they will be in the 1st kingdom of heaven. In the 1st kingdom of heaven, they will be given at least a personal home, a crown and some reward.
2 Timothy 2:5-6 says, “And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops.”
Likewise, those believers who finish their race of faith win a victory, and go into the heavenly kingdom. They will receive everlasting crowns. The crown for the 1st kingdom of heaven is the ‘Imperishable Crown’.
1 Corinthians 9:25 says, “And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then [do it] to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”
Although they haven’t cast off all untruthful deeds, the fact that they tried to practice God’s word proves that they participated in the race of faith looking at the eternal, imperishable things. So, they will be given the ‘Imperishable Crown’.
There are houses in the 1st Kingdom of Heaven, but they are not separate personal houses like castles. They look somewhat like apartments in this world.
Among those who saw the heavenly kingdom, there are some who say they saw houses like apartments. In this case, they saw the 1st kingdom of heaven.
The houses in the heavenly kingdom are not built with bricks and cement but with heavenly materials like pure gold and precious stones. There is no staircase between the floors but only beautiful elevators.
Even though they don’t press the button for the floor they are going, the elevator automatically will stop on the floor you want to go. Once you go into the house, everything is ready so that you will have nothing uncomfortable.
For example, if you like music, there are musical instruments to play. If you like books, you will have books. There is also a place to rest made according to your tastes.
Each house is made and decorated according to the tastes of the owner, so you can have limitless joy and satisfaction even in the 1st Kingdom of Heaven.
But in the 1st Kingdom of Heaven, there are no personal things outside the houses.
For example, on this earth, if there is a garden in an apartment complex, that garden is for all residents in the apartment.
There are many beautiful gardens, golf courses, swimming pools, and other sports facilities, but all these things are not for personal and private use, but for everybody.
In the 1st kingdom, there is no angel who serves you personally, but they are placed at necessary places take care of the facilities, and when God’s children use those facilities, these angels help them.
Some people wonder thinking, “What will we do forever if we go to heaven? Won’t we be bored after such a long time?”
Some people think in this way. But the things that people enjoy on this earth are in the heavenly kingdom, too, and also there are more joyous and more variety of things in heaven.
There are splendid banquets, sports games and other games. There are various kinds of entertainment, and performing halls. We also continuously learn about the limitless spiritual realm.
Also, because there are no fleshly things in heaven, there is no changing of mind. So, such a thing as boredom does not exist at all. Each moment will be full of joy and happiness.
But what you have to remember is that you must not be satisfied with the 1st Kingdom of Heaven no matter how comfortable and happy this place seems to be.
I told you even Paradise, where those at the 1st Level of Faith will dwell, is so beautiful and wonderful that it cannot be compared to any place on this earth. But the difference between the Paradise and the 1st Kingdom is tremendous.
For example, it is like the freedom of a gold fish in a fish bowl and the freedom of a whale swimming in the Pacific Ocean. They cannot be meaningfully compared with each other.
The difference between the 1st Kingdom and the 2nd Kingdom is greater than this. The difference between the 2nd Kingdom and the 3rd Kingdom, where those children who are sanctified will dwell, is like the difference between heaven and earth. It is just in the different dimension. I don’t have to say the happiness in New Jerusalem is much greater than that of the 3rd Kingdom.
But with the limited language and understandings of this earth, we cannot explain the beauty and happiness of even Paradise, so how can we explain New Jerusalem?
Our Father God is longing for you to take hold of New Jerusalem, the best dwelling place, and to “take it by force” and enter in there.
So, however good Paradise and the 1st Kingdom are, you should never stop there.
You have to run your race diligently until you pass the 2nd Kingdom and the 3rd Kingdom, and reach New Jerusalem.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, at the 2nd Level of Faith, you try to practice the Word of God, but it’s not that you practice it in your heart with the understanding of the will of God contained in His Word.
You try to obey God’s word with a sense of duty because you learned, “This is the word of God, and you should obey it.”
For example, when God tells us to keep the Sabbath, there is a reason for it. It is the day that God blessed, and it is a proof that we belong to God spiritually by keeping the Sabbath, so the enemy devil and Satan cannot bring us trials and hardships.
If we understand in our heart the meaning of God’s command to us to keep the Sabbath, it is not difficult to practice it.
We can keep the day with joy, and it will be happiness and fullness for us when we come before God to worship Him, praise Him, and have fellowship with other believers.
Also, even if somebody asks you to go some place on Sunday, you just think it’s not possible on Sunday.
But the situation is a little different if you just know but do not understand in your heart. You know you should attend church on Sunday, but you have conflict because you feel like just taking a rest at home. Or you want to go out with your friends or do some other kind of work.
At one side of your heart, you want to violate the Sabbath, but also at the same time, you want to keep it. These two hearts cause you conflict in your heart.
Namely, the desire of the Holy Spirit is for you to practice the Word and fight against the desire of flesh that leads you to follow the world. Each is in conflict with the other in your heart.
At this time, if your desire to follow the world is much stronger, it can overcome your desire to attend church easily, so you are more likely to violate the Sabbath.
On the contrary, if the desire of the Holy Spirit is much stronger, it is easy to overcome the worldly desire, so you will keep the Sabbath.
This fight will be the most fierce when these two forces are about the same. If the power of one side is much stronger, whether it is the heart of truth or the untruth, there isn’t much conflict in you.
If the heart of truth is stronger, you will easily practice the truth, and if the heart of untruth is stronger, you will just follow the untruth.
But at around the middle stage of the 2nd Level of Faith, when the forces of the truth and the untruth are about the same, you have fierce struggles in your heart.
So, Romans 7:24 says, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” As said, you may lament or feel that it is difficult to lead a Christian life.
But you will not feel it difficult forever. To the extent that you pray and try and that you follow the desires of the Holy Spirit and practice the truth step by step, the desire to follow the untruth will become weaker and weaker.
Then, the desire to follow the truth becomes bigger, so it will be easier to practice the truth. As you do this, your life in faith will be happier and more full of the Holy Spirit.
When you get to the faith where you can practice the word after going through this process, you get into the 3rd Level of Faith.
So, the 3rd Level of Faith is called the “Faith to Practice the Word”. It is a stage after you drink milk or take soft food, where you can take the solid food in your faith.
I will explain to you about the 3rd Level of Faith in the next session.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, since my childhood, if I decided to do something in my heart, I really tried to keep it.
Not only the promises with other people, but also if I broke the promise with myself, I received punishments that I decided for myself, like skipping a meal, so that I would keep the promise next time.
This became my habit, and it was such great benefit in my life in faith.
Once I listened to the word and understood it, I made up my mind, and once I made up my mind, I did it. In order for you to go into the higher levels of faith quickly, it is very important to do what you decide to do in your heart without changing it.
I hope you will obey the will of God as soon as you understand it, and do not change your attitude in the middle.
I pray in the name of the Lord that God will pour down His grace and strength to you who do this, and more quickly lead you to the spiritual realm.