The Gene of the Faith
Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith (Galatians 3:5-9, ESV)
Why do we live our lives of faith? What do we intend to do with faith? Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” We believe Jesus to have life. But we are not talking about the life we know on this earth. Those who desire eternal life have faith. Those who want to live forever. Those who do not have a desire for eternal life are unable to believe in Jesus. Even when humans want to be loved, they know that a person cannot love them forever, yet they hope so. But they don’t receive it, so that disappointment becomes rage, and rage manifests an attitude of “I didn’t get loved, so it’s better to die, both you and me.” So, humans’ wanting to be loved eternally is the desire of their spirits. It is the craving of our spirits. Our spirits want eternal life, and they give us a desire to yearn for the God we didn’t know, someone eternal, so we happen to find God.
We have obtained life. But we should not stop there. It is Jesus’ intention for us to have life and have it abundantly. Our spirits are feeling that hunger too, wanting to have it more abundantly. So, we need to have faith fully, without faith, it is impossible to obtain. Then what is faith? This is the problem. People used to say, “I have faith,” and afterwards, if it’s not faith, it is a true failure. Jesus warned about this. “Did the master not sow good seed in his field? How then does it have weeds?” People who have weeds have their faith of weeds in themselves. And they don’t know it, because they are mixed together in church. Then on the final judgement day, they will be filtered out. It is said this way, on the final day. So, until then, they don’t know I drove myself to a church when I was in high school because I wanted to find love. I was so lonely, so I drove myself to a church, and there I didn’t hear any stories about Jesus. It was only like “Abraham’s story for this week, then the story of David, then Ruth,” and so on. As I heard stories of many people, I only heard things like “we should make such .wise choices, we should live our lives actively,” but not the story of Jesus. But I thought that was faith. So, at first, I had admired Christians, and after I saw them, “Ah, so that’s what it’s like.” In that aspect, “I am better than them.” Why? Because I went through much more struggle and considered more. I saw them, and how they concluded, it was so childish. It was at a childish level. So, I thought, “I am better than them,” and soon, I became arrogant. Also, I wrote a story. Even though I had been a nonbeliever, I wrote a story and submitted it to the church, and it was published in the church magazine. And they said I was a good writer, and they treated me as a believer. So, I started to look down on them. “Ah, it is not so worthy.” And then,
I participated in an event called ‘The night of literature,’ which was hosted at the church. I was a senior in high school, and every other senior was not present because they were studying for the college entrance exam. So I thought, “Well if you guys really believed this was the truth wouldn’t you be here instead of studying for the college entrance exam?” I was a non-believer then, but I thought they were all fake. I participated and did everything passionately, even though I was also a senior. And by doing that, I thought this was faith. And by everything they were doing every day, playing guitars, singing, reading out poems, doing plays, I thought these were people that had faith, and they thought the same. But after the college entrance exam, which most of them failed. The people who passed the exam did not come to the church, as they were going to college and those that failed the exam didn’t come to church either, for they had failed the exam. They all collapsed. And they started to wonder, questioning themselves like, “Have I had faith all along, or have I not?” I only had one foot in the church, and as I saw it, it was totally ridiculous. I thought things like “faith is all in vain.”
Later I served the country. I had received the Holy Spirit and was totally changed and went to serve, so I did everything passionately. And there were two seminary students I meet, that were military chaplains. But as they did their work as chaplains, when I saw what they were doing, their faith was not even at my level, which was freshly changed. When one of them was near to being discharged from the service, everything he went through must have affected him. He told me, “when I am discharged, I’m going to quit seminary.” “Why?” I asked. Then he said that he didn’t know the world so much. So much? What he said was that he knew so little about the world and was so naive that he believed in God. When I heard that, I didn’t say anything, but I thought, ‘It is not true that you don’t know the world, but the truth is that you don’t know God.’ He wasn’t eager to know God more but was eager to know the world more. So he said he’s going to quit.
Later I got a job. I worked in a Christian social welfare center. Taihwa Christian Social Welfare Center. It is the oldest social welfare center in Korea. Everyone who worked there were people with faith, and my manager was a Christian. His father was a pastor. And my boss was a seminary school dropout. He used to drink a lot. Later in a bar, He told me, “Hey, I went to a theological seminary and tried to meet God, and it was nothing.” That was his story. And that manager, whose father was a pastor, when I told him that God called me and that I was going to quit this job, he told me, “Hey, I am the son of a pastor. That is something everybody does when they are young. It’s something like playing with fire at one time, so don’t do that. You have to work five more years.” So I said yes. “Yes, got it.” And I made up my mind. ‘Yeah, let’s work five more years.’ But one day passed, and then two days, and something was not right. As I prayed harder, I knew something was wrong. And when I went to work, only my body was there, but my mind was somewhere else. I couldn’t stand this. I couldn’t stand God’s leading. So later, when I told my manager I was quitting, he told me this story and that story, and in his mouth were the words of unbelief. So I told him that I thought he didn’t receive the Holy Spirit, and he said, “Hey! I am a son of a pastor!” He was a bit shocked because I told him so. And he said that he was able to believe in God. He didn’t come to church sometimes. When I asked him for proof of having received the Holy Spirit, his reply was, “I am able to believe in God.” He said he was sure that God exists. Back then, I probably lacked the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Later, after I thought about that, I knew I should have told him, “Demons also know.” I wanted to say something like, “Demons also know that God is one and only.” Demons also know God is alive. They know he is the only one, but they fear him. They fear him, and they have nothing to do with him. Can we call that faith? Really? And after that, I quit my job.
And then I went to China. When I went to China, and saw, people live their lives of faith, but there were so many who were not sure whether that was faith or not. Considering that, there were some who claimed they believed in Jesus and later appeared as demons. They later said they were unaware. And when I asked in churches, “If anyone is sure that you are going to heaven when you die today, raise your hand.” On average, 95% of them didn’t raise their hands. 95%!. Because there was nearly no one who raised their hands. One or two? One or two were sure they were going to heaven. The rest of them couldn’t raise their hands even when I urged them to. “Then why are you coming to church?” They replied, “To go to heaven.” “Then can you go to heaven?” “How can I know it? I don’t know it yet.” “Why?” “不够” That is, “I am not enough yet.” That was what they were saying. Such people cannot ever earn salvation. So they were coming to church and lived their lives of faith that was not able to save them. However, they were doing everything passionately in church. In their own way. So that reminded me of things I saw when I first came to church, which I thought of as faith, and those young people, who used to come and sing, praise, and attend church activities. I thought they were going to be okay, but afterwards, they were not of faith.
And some people, Catholics, in the middle ages, they thought when they came to the chapel, came to the church, and attended Mass, then they had faith. And the leaders taught so. So, coming to the chapel, coming to the church was important to them; that was faith. So it was the faith centralized at the chapel. So “Do you have faith or not? Did you receive the Holy Spirit? Do you show the power?” These were not important. Rather, “Do you come to the chapel?” This was the point. So, come to the chapel and what? “Do you attend the Sacrament?” So “If you receive the Sacrament and eat the bread, you will be saved.” So, in order to emphasize that, they claimed that the bread actually became the body of Jesus and the wine actually became the blood of Jesus. So “Whether you believe it or not, as you have eaten the bread, the body of Jesus, you are saved.” How ignorant. So ignorant they made it, they made it this way. The Christians, to maintain their rights, kept people ignorant. They didn’t let anyone read the Bible. When some people tried to translate the Bible into English, they killed all who tried to translate it. And when someone did that again, they did the same to them. When someone translated the Bible into German, they chased them down, captured and killed them. So some people died in hiding. When they discovered them, they even took out their bones from the tombs and burned them. That was how they made it so people couldn’t read the Bible. That was how they kept the people ignorant. And they finally made up something which had not been faith into the faith, and made people have that false faith.
So, then, what was faith really? What is faith? What needs to be within me to say I have faith, I have eternal life, I have a life? That’s the point. Indeed what should I have so that the Holy Spirit guarantees me and testifies I have faith, by wonders and signs? What should be inside me? We need to find that exactly. That is the very thing we must find. We must have it. Even if we have everything else, however much we have, it’s meaningless. There are so many churches with good outward appearances these days. The buildings are gorgeous. Their Choir is beautiful. And the chapel, wonderful chapel, and so many people. When we look into those, we might think, “ah, this must be faith. this is what a church is.” But in the time of Jesus, were they even there? A pipe organ, is this faith? Is this the essence of the faith? We didn’t have those back then. Then Abraham was a person without real faith when it comes to things like that. He didn’t play guitar, he didn’t sing a gospel song, he didn’t run any choirs, he didn’t build up any great chapels, he didn’t receive the Sacrament, what did he do? Then Abraham was no one, was he? However, shouldn’t we find out the real essence of the faith? We should find out! Where should we look and find out then?
There are many kinds of monkeys. There are some monkeys that look like foxes. So how do we confirm one as a fox or as a monkey? How do we do this? When hairs are all plucked out, they look alike more. How do we know this? How can we discern this? And sometimes, someone files a paternity lawsuit. Because of the inheritance, is that a real child of the father? He claims to be his son, but the father states he doesn’t know any son like him. Presidents of big companies usually say this because the inheritance should go to him. Then how do we find out whether he is his son or not? Yes, by the gene. By DNA, we confirm it. No matter how similar they are, if the DNA doesn’t match, he is not his son. And no matter how much they don’t resemble each other, if the DNA matches, he is his son. In the same way, in order to confirm that you have the faith, do you have the gene of the faith, the DNA inside you? Really? That’s the point. The gene of the faith which God gave, is it inside me? What is that? What is that gene of the faith? Get rid of everything else: get rid of the crowd, or the life of faith, or the appearance of the churches, get rid of guitars or the drums, get rid of the beautiful fellowship of saints, and when we get rid of everything else, there is the last thing that is left. That gene. Even if a person dies and the corpse decays, the gene remains. Even with a single piece of hair, the gene is in it. With it, we can verify what faith is.
Then what is faith? And how can we verify it? That is, what is like the seed of faith is the blessing God gave to Abraham. The blessing of Abraham. So, I said that he who believes in Jesus has the blessing of Abraham. So do you have the blessing which God gave to Abraham? This is what we are talking about. It was said that all who believe in Jesus, along with Abraham, own his faith. So in chapter 3, verse 9 (in the main passage), it states, “So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” So we have possessed the blessing of Abraham. This is what God promised to Abraham. “You will be a blessing, and in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Therefore we have been blessed today. So we need to know what the blessing God gave to Abraham is, for we also share it, what the blessing given to Abraham is. Our faith cannot transcend history. It cannot outrun Abraham. What is among the first sentence of the New Testament? Abraham, Jesus Christ. “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” It said. Abraham, the blessing given to him, what is this?
Then, it said those who are of the faith of Abraham are blessed along with him, then what is the faith of Abraham? The attitude Abraham posed before the Word of God? We usually think something like this. The hard-work of Abraham? The purity of Abraham that kept the Word steadily before God for 40 years? That passion? We can think like this. But those are not the essence. What is the essence? What would be the essence? The essence of the faith of Abraham. eh? – the blessing? – yes, it is the blessing, but… – the Word? – exactly!. So it’s not about what Abraham did, but about what was given to Abraham. The Word God gave to Abraham, that is the essence of our blessing. That is the gene of the faith we received. It’s whether we have it or not, the promise God gave to Abraham, it has born fruits in us. The essential DNA of a lot of wonderful things we have now is that promise God gave to Abraham. That promise has come true to us.
As I said yesterday, what is inside that promise? “So that the blessing of Abraham might come to you so that you might receive the promised Holy Spirit.” It said so, and we received the Holy Spirit just as God promised Abraham. Why do we regard the receiving of the Holy Spirit as the essence that can prove our faith as DNA? Because that is what God promised Abraham. that we would receive the Holy Spirit, it’s not true that we received the Holy Spirit suddenly, but it’s the essence of the blessing God promised Abraham. What did God promise, give to Abraham? What was promised to him is applied the same to us. It is the promise that was given to Abraham, not us.
But as we believe in Jesus, in Jesus that blessing becomes ours, that promise becomes ours. So even though that was spoken by God to Abraham 4000 years ago, we regard it as our own. And that is admitted as faith. So when we say we have faith inside us, we are descendants of the faith of Abraham. So it said, “Know then that it is those of the faith of Abraham who are the sons of Abraham” in chapter 3 verse 7 (in the main passage). About “the sons” here, in Hebrew, there is no difference between “the sons” and “the descendants.” So, what it said is “the descendants.” There was a reason when people in the Old Testament kept saying, “Abraham the father, Abraham, the father.” But now, since we have received the real fruit of that blessing, we no longer say “Abraham the father,” but we call him who is in heaven our father. “God the Father.” We have seen the real fruit of that faith.
The seed of that was planted to Abraham in the beginning. So we need to take a close look at how that seed grew, to know the history of our faith, and to know that our faith was not just given now, but the Word came true this way. So it is obvious that we believe the Word which was accomplished to Abraham. God spoke to Abraham 4000 years ago, and oh, don’t we see that has come true, 4000 years later? God truly said to Abraham, “Your name will be great,” and today, everyone in the whole world who has a monotheism speaks of himself as a descendant of Abraham. How great is his name? Does anyone not know of Abraham? Everyone respects him, and they say, “Abraham is really great, because of him, we are blessed.” So now we have confirmed that the promise has come true. So by confirming the promise given to Abraham, we can know that the Word of God really comes true. Therefore we can have faith. “That Word also comes true to me likewise.” we happen to have that faith. So we don’t force ourselves to believe, but after we see that history, that God has planted the Word he gave, that this Word grew, and how this Word bore fruits, then naturally, we will have faith. That is the faith. And we would believe that “you will also be a blessing.” Naturally.
It’s not forcing ourselves to believe. I am so sure I am a blessing, but I didn’t pray to believe. Nor did I tell myself, “I believe. I believe.” I am so sure. Why? Because I know how God accomplished his Word for the last 4000 years. Because I know this Word is alive. I didn’t even pray like, “please let this Word touch me!” I did not. But I entered into the Word. I just entered inside the Word. Because of that, I am a blessing, and in me, all the families of the earth shall be blessed. It is so clear, like watching a fire.
And I am so terrible. I am terrible, and when I see what I do, when I see my behaviors, my personality, my lack of patience and so on, I can’t do anything but sigh deeply. However, even so, I believe that I am a blessing. This is a wonderful faith. It didn’t start from myself. Sometimes I don’t really have boldness. “How do I preach the Word?” but It’s not necessary to say, “How do I preach the Word?” Why? Because I do not preach my word. I preach the faith God gave me, I testify to the work of God. When did I testify about myself? Did I testify of my reverence? Some probably do, saying, “I can’t preach. I don’t have the courage to preach.” I don’t understand them. and say something like, “I’m still not good enough to preach.” I am not good enough; when would I be good enough? But I am so sure that the Word will come true to me so that the Word can work. So faith is sturdy: it cannot be shaken. It has nothing to do with my status. Because this faith believes that the Word lives and works. Can you see it now? Therefore faith cannot be shaken, true faith. The Word cannot be shaken, so if you put your faith in the Word, then the Word is inside you, and you have entered into the Word. Then, even when you have committed a sin so immoral that you cannot lift your head up, you can still testify of Jesus, and you can admit you are a blessing. Abraham sent his wife to the king of Egypt and did such a shameful thing, but he was not shaken, not even a little bit. He took Hagar and tried his way, but later, he knew that was not right. How ashamed must he have been? But he wasn’t shaken a bit. Because it was not originated from himself. It was originated from the promise of God. So admit it anyway, “I am a blessing.” Why? It is the Word of the promise given to Abraham. So “Thank you for letting the promise given to Abraham come true to me. Thank you for letting me have faith like this, the faith with a long history. Work on me so that I could have full faith.” Let us pray like this!
God our Father, the very Word that you gave to Abraham became the seed of the faith also for us, so help us to understand this essence of faith and truly have substantial faith. Please do not let us have deceiving faith, false faith because of what is seen on the outside, but truly work on us so that we have the faith which the Holy Spirit can guarantee. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.
Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center