Man’s salvation depends upon his understanding of God. The more we understand Jesus Christ, the deeper our spiritual experience will be and the better witnesses for Him we will become. Sometimes our body speaks one thing and yet our souls say something different because each person carries their own individual atmosphere around them. Our witness for Jesus Christ is not just the truth spoken by our own words for they are very limited. The way we look, the way we smile, the way we consider and treat others, speak volumes without a word spoken. The way we sit, the way we stand, the way we walk, the way we have conversations, the way we care and our whole being witnesses to others of our motivation. The knowledge we have of the character of God has everything to do with our salvation.
The more I work as a servant of the Lord I really begin to understand better what is Christian living and why I am a Christian. To know Jesus Christ is everything.
“And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent.” John 17:3. Knowing the true God, the Father, and Son, Jesus Christ, Whom He sent is our life eternal. Jesus Christ is our salvation and He gives us life every day, not only physical life, but spiritual life. We must partake of His righteousness daily. Righteousness is not only the written word of God, but it is also continually partaking of Jesus’ character and His Spirit into our lives.
There is a familiar quote found in The Desire of Ages, page 22, which says, “The earth was dark through misapprehension of God. That the gloomy shadows might be lightened, that the world might be brought back to God, Satan’s deceptive power was to be broken. This could not be done by force. The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love awakened. To know God is to love Him; His character must be manifested in contrast to the character of Satan. This work only one Being in all the universe could do. Only He who knew the height and depth of the love of God could make it known. Upon the world’s dark night the Sun of Righteousness must rise, ‘with healing in His wings’ (Malachi 4:2).”
Repentance is a gift from God. We think that we are the ones who repent, who feel remorse and regrets and are the ones who confess the sins and repent. So why is repentance the gift from God? We have a carnal heart that is at enmity against God, so before God gives us repentance His grace gives us the enmity against the wickedness and Satan and sin (Genesis 3:15). Without that gift of grace we cannot even begin the repentance experience.
At the same time God must, through His Holy Spirit, rule us and convict us, impress us and give us the feeling of being sorry for the sins which we have committed. Only then will we have a desire to repent. Faith is a gift from God but not all receive it. Why is it a gift? Consider this illustration: A little baby has been taken care of by his mother. His mother holds him in her bosom all day long cuddling him and kissing him. She washes him, changes his diapers and she feeds him. The baby does not immediately have knowledge of the mother’s love, yet slowly and surely he begins to understand the tender care of this person. He naturally begins to trust this person called mother. When he cries, she comes. When he is hungry, she jumps. Immediately, he begins to trust her. This is the only person he can trust in the world. He now has the gift of trust because of the love of the mother. He trusts her because she has demonstrated that she provides all of his needs. That is what we call faith—it is a gift. You see, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. Our believing comes after the Father gave up His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to us. God’s love is first shown and then felt by us and our response is faith, then we believe. First we have to know God before we will receive the gift of faith and trust.
Some people say of themselves, “I’m so weak because of the hereditary habits that I’ve received from my ancestors, my father, my mother, my grandparents, and so forth. I stumble a lot, I make mistakes, I backslide.” People become so discouraged, but in that regard we all are equal. I have never met anyone who does not complain about his or her own weaknesses whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated, who does not have his or her own cross to bear. Those who stand for Jesus Christ and the truth will not have to go out looking for a cross to bear; it will surely find them.]
Often times we have problems, suffer pain, or incur troubles or conflicts. But those things are not the actual problem. Our real problem is lack of the knowledge of God because we do not really understand Him or His character. We do not comprehend His work and how much He loves us. We may sing the song, “Jesus Loves Me” but do we really understand what that means?
Mediating means not only applying the blood of Jesus Christ to repenting sinners, but also a mediator has to give enough grace, power and strength for the person they are interceding for to overcome. That is the true meaning of intercessory work. That is what Jesus Christ does for us every day. It is not our own wickedness or our environment that results in our stumbling and falling, but the lack of a true understanding of God and His provision for us. To know God is to love Him and the more we understand Him the more we will love Him and be prepared to risk everything in our lives for His sake, even to the point of becoming a martyr if necessary.
There is nothing in the world more valuable than the love of Jesus Christ, because we know Him and love Him and we would like to do everything in the world for His honor and glory. I love my mother and my father. When I was little I thought my father didn’t like me. I am the only son in my family with four sisters. In Korean culture, if you are the only son you are treated like a king and you are supposed to lead like one. Because I am the successor of this family, food must first be presented before me. My grandfather, who raised my father, used to be a senator in the Korean government. He was a high official and at one time he became the secretary of commerce. He had a huge mansion and many politicians came to bow before him. In Korean tradition, on the first day of January every year we all go to our parents and grandparents and actually bow down on the floor to them. Whether you like it or not this is what you must do to show respect for your parents.
Visiting my grandfather’s house on the first of January, I saw many politicians and congressmen go to his house and bow down too. I liked to go to him because after I bowed down before him he would give me an envelope filled with brand new currency. As an only-begotten son in the family, my father wanted to train me correctly so that I would not become spoiled. He was, in a way, very strict with me. From time to time he spanked me and I thought my father didn’t like me and maybe he even hated me. I thought maybe he felt regret at having me in this world. One day, early in the morning, I felt chilly in my room and I knew that I needed to pull my comforter over my head, but I couldn’t for I was too sleepy. Then, all of a sudden, I felt warmth all over my body. What was taking place? Someone had come into my room and pulled the cover over me and was leaving my room. I could only see his back, but I knew that it was my Dad. He was looking out for my comfort. From that point on my understanding of him was revolutionized. I realized that my father loved me and from then on the relationship with my father grew. My father is now 91 years old and sometimes still says to me, “Be careful when you cross the street. Be careful when you drive.” I am old now, too, and have my own children, but I will always be his son and he will always look out for me.
When we understand God and what happened at the cross, and truly understand what Jesus Christ has been doing and is still doing for our salvation, then our loyalty and faithfulness will be changed. We continue to sin and repent because we do not understand the power that He is willing to give us to stop.
When you know God you can be thankful when all else seems to crash around you. I heard a woman give a testimony on the radio one Thanksgiving. Her husband was in jail on fraud charges. Her seventeen year old son had just committed suicide yet she praised God and gave Him thanks. Continuing in her testimony she said she was also dying with cancer. The doctors had given her only six more months to live and she said, “I am so thankful to God.” She continued by saying, “When I go to heaven I’ll be more thankful. Do you know why? Even though my seventeen year old boy just committed suicide, and my husband is in jail, and I’m dying with cancer, I am going to be so much more thankful to my God because I will find out how much work He has done for the salvation of my family. I believe and trust that God has done everything He could to save my family. So I will continually praise Him.” What faith! This lady trusted her Saviour to do all in His infinite power to save her family.
John Milton was a theologian and poet in England. His famous long poem is Paradise Lost. He wrote a book called All the Education and in his book he wrote this very interesting statement: “The end then of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents by regaining a knowledge to know God aright and out of that knowledge to love Him.” That is interesting. Mrs. White said exactly the same thing. To know Him is to love Him. God holds all things together continually for us to stay alive. He holds atoms together, the orbit system, sun and planets and the earth. Marvelously and mysteriously He holds it all together by His power. Everything is upheld by His power. Our blood circulates, our pulse, our emotions, our personality, all cooperate for the success of this planet. He did not only create us but He continually maintains us by His word and His power. Why? Simply because He wanted to give us more time and more opportunity to know Him and to fall in love with Him so that we can become true Christians and devote our entire life to Him in vindication of His character and repudiate the claim of Satan that God is not love.
Sometimes we think we have to try very hard to be sanctified. Of course, the Spirit of Prophecy does say that without effort there is no result, but we cannot simply lie around in “faith” and say, “O please help me to accomplish things.” No, we cannot do that. We do not just open our mouth and stand under the tree until the fruit comes down and falls into our mouth. We have to actually go there and pluck it, peel and eat it.
God is the One Who sanctifies us through His providential workings. Sometimes He allows sufferings, afflictions, pains, heartaches and dilemmas so that we can be refined and chiseled into something useful. God is the One Who works daily, as much as we allow Him, to mold us and fashion us into His image to fulfill the plan He has for our life.
One day Michelangelo took a big chunk of stone and brought it into his workshop and began to work on that rock to make a statue. After about three months, servants came into his shop and saw the beautiful statue of Moses. They were amazed and said, “Wow, Master, this is beautiful. How did you do it?” Michelangelo said, “I didn’t do much. There was a Moses in that rock. I knew it and saw it, so I just chiseled out all the parts that did not belong to him. That is all I did.” O, what wise words as a sculptor. That is exactly what God is trying to do to us—bring out the image of God within us. He chips away at all the bad character traits and habits that don’t belong there so Jesus can be seen in us.
When I look back, I can see my life as one whole picture. In certain conjunctions of my life I couldn’t understand, but now I can see. Why did God allow me to go through those kinds of troubles and persecutions? When I stood up and began to preach the straight testimony about the true everlasting gospel, health messages, country living messages, and the straight everlasting gospel, the character perfection gospel, and purification of the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary and the soon coming of Jesus Christ, I went through some hell. The persecutions that came to me I never had imagined before. At one point of time I wanted to die and I said, “Lord, I just cannot go on like this. My reputation is shot. I have no more honor. I am on the top of the black list, the church hates me and they spread all kinds of rumors about me. I just cannot go on like this without honor and it is too difficult.” And He put me through various experiences that were deep valleys in my life. I did not know it was God’s mercy to train me, to purify me and to sanctify me, even through persecutions. Through those persecutions He put my pride down. It was impossible to be proud in these situations.
As an oriental, it is my culture that when greeting people, usually in different Asian countries, you show humility by bowing your body and head at the same time and say, “Hello brother. How are you? Nice to meet you.” If I say, like Americans, “Hello brother. Good to see you,” without bowing, I would be seen as a very proud person.
How does God humble us? Only God can humble us through His providential ways, allowing us to go through certain valleys and experiences. Then He is able to take away our pride and our idols. Sometimes it takes a long time. Satan and his evil angels accuse the brethren. They ridicule God’s servant saying, “Surely this person is not qualified to be a pastor or an elder.” “Is this a person who is called to be a witness for Thee?” But God says, “Wait a minute, Satan. I’m not done with him yet. I’m not finished.” When Jesus Christ leaves the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, He is going to say again, “It is finished.” But what is He referring to? His work of salvation is finished. And when sin is eradicated He will say once more, “Finished.” Until then nobody can pass judgment, for God’s work of restoration is not finished. Sure, they can criticize me now because God has not finished with me yet.
My parents were proud of me. My father’s expectation of me was to become a businessman or a physician, one that was well-known in the world. He wanted me to become a famous person and have good accomplishments. When I became a pastor, he said, “That’s all right, if that’s what you want to do; then become the best pastor in Asia and well-known that people can identify with you.” That was my father’s dream of his only son.
When I began to stand strong for the truth and began to be persecuted it was really difficult and it was not easy for my father. God took the human expectations and dreams for his son away and made him humble to simply depend upon God’s providence. God is a wonderful God and yet His working is mysterious. He is out to help us all to become truly humble. If we understand His providential workings in our past experiences, then we can truly say, “Yes, I love Him. I really love Him.” Now if my God is that kind of God, I can risk everything. I can sacrifice everything for His sake because I trust Him. Then you and I can even become martyrs for His sake.
II Peter 1:2, 3 says, “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” When we understand Him more and more, then grace and peace will be multiplied unto us, but only when we understand God more.
“Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for He has torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.” Hosea 6:1–3.
Hosea has invited us to come, return unto the Lord and know Him. As we understand the knowledge of God and as we grow in Jesus Christ in the knowledge of Him, then we will receive the latter rain. Without the early rain, without the first growing experience in the understanding of His character and His providences and His workings with you, you cannot receive the latter rain.
I met a young lady who is Spanish, but speaks English enough that I can communicate with her. When I met her the first time she was very sad. She was unstable and dissatisfied and was always like an orphan. She was very uncomfortable and always asking something and unsettled. Recently I met her again and noticed a whole change of her atmosphere and countenance. I said to her, “You are changed. What happened?” She was very anxious to tell me her story. When she was 15 years old her mother forsook her and dumped her in the grandparent’s house and left without any explanation. She has never seen her own father. Her mother was living with a man without marriage when she abandoned her daughter. Her grandmother was not pleasant to her and her life was so horrible that she had begun cursing her own life. Why was I born? What is the purpose? Then, somehow, she had opportunity to go to a school connected to a small ministry and became a Christian where she grew into a relationship with Jesus Christ. One day she began to realize that there was a reason why she is in this world. She now understood that the Father in heaven gave her life and existence in this world to find Him and get to know Him and understand Him and to have opportunity to live forever. It is a simple doctrine of the Bible, but all of a sudden she began to realize the purpose of her life. She said, “Yes, there is a reason why I am living in this world.”
While she works in the garden she prays and sings hymns like “Jesus is all the world to me, My life, my joy, my all; He is my strength from day to day, without Him I would fall” (Will L. Thompson 1904). This song gave real meaning to her life and as she sings this song in Spanish she really means it.
Jesus is the all the world to me, my strength, my love, my all and He will lead me and you through the time of trouble that is soon to come on this earth before Jesus returns if you accept Him and trust Him.
(All Bible verses are quoted in the King James Version.)
Pastor David Kang is the director of Light for Life U.S. Ministry operation out of Commerce, Georgia. His sermons are broadcast weekly on New York and Virginia Korean television stations. Pastor Kang also frequently travels to Asia where he trains pastors who often work “underground.”