Part 6. Fulfillment of Words Recorded in the Bible
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”
There is a specific sequence through which humans encounter the works of God. Initially, we must hear the word of God and then go before God with faith. By doing so, we will eventually receive the evidence God gives and then possess His blessings. Primarily, hearing God’s word comes first, and believing follows. Therefore, even though God could work directly, He does not do so. Instead, He first gives His word in situations where it may be difficult to believe, and then He empowers individuals to believe. As a person believes in the word of God, they begin to experience it, and then the subsequent events will follow.
Even when God’s Son came to the world, to Mary, chosen to be the mother of Jesus, God first made her listen to His words and then believed. Despite being in the process of giving birth to a baby, she came to know about the baby’s identity from the words of the shepherds, and she believed in it. How remarkable! Normally, it is typical for a mother to describe her own child, but Mary heard what the shepherds were saying, “Your child is this and that kind of child.” But then, where did the shepherds get this message from? It was not their personal realization; rather, an angel appeared and conveyed the message to them. They could have chosen not to believe, thinking, “Oh, was that just a dream? If it’s not true, just cut the nonsense!” However, they believed in the angel’s words and hurriedly conveyed this news to Mary. This clearly shows that no human can surpass this process of faith.
The essence of faith lies in believing in situations that seem unbelievable, rather than just accepting the obvious. If it is visible, would the concept of believing necessary? Faith is believing in things that remain unseen; for instance, we have not seen Jesus’ resurrection with our own eyes, but we believe in it, and that is what makes us blessed.
When Jesus’ disciples only heard the news of Jesus’ resurrection and believed it even though they did not see it. However, there was a disciple who attempted to believe only after seeing it, and then Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Of course, believing after seeing is still commendable. Nevertheless, those who believe without seeing are even more blessed, so God anticipates all to have this faith.
God does not require us to believe after everything is perfectly prepared and organized. Instead, even in situations that remain unchanged, God gives us His word and expects us to have faith. This is why it takes time. It requires the passage of time, along with patience, and also encountering persecution. However, when we endure until the end, God will acknowledge us and say, “You truly have faith.”
Nonetheless, the timeframe for acknowledgment of God might surpass the expectations of humans. Some people might become disheartened after only four days of effort and say, “It’s not working,” However, in the Old Testament era, God often required people to wait about 40 years. For instance, after making a covenant with Abraham, God finally acknowledged Abraham’s faith forty years later, saying, “Now I know that you fear God.” Similarly, God allowed Moses to endure hardships for 40 years before calling him and entrusting him with God’s ministry. There are many instances like this. The Israelites wandered for 40 years before finally reaching the land of Canaan. This prolonged duration is due to God’s demand for our faith to reach a level where He can declare, “Now, you are ready.” It is evident that faith requires endurance. However, our faith is not believing blindly; rather, it is believing in God’s word after first receiving God’s words. Then, where do these words originate? They are not insights we independently discover or notions that spontaneously arise; fundamentally, they are words recorded in the Bible. This forms the core of our belief, which never goes beyond the words recorded in the Bible.
Every aspect is being fulfilled according to the words recorded in the Bible. As the angel departed after Mary answered, “I am the Lord’s servant, may your word to me be fulfilled,” we must acknowledge that we are servants before the Word. This is not about achieving salvation but rather being used by the Lord. Since we are already saved, we must become servants before the Word, who can say, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let Your command come to me.” When we encounter an undesirable task, the decision of whether to take it on or not lies in our hands. Yet, it is essential to make choices that lead to better outcomes. Even if you do not desire it, obeying with faith that God’s word will come true can lead to the best results. While persecution may come along, eventually, God will give you the greatest blessings. Undoubtedly, it would not be easy due to the many obstacles you may face. However, when you truly believe that the Lord Jesus has prepared a reward for you in heaven, then you will be able to obey it. So, the crux of the matter revolves around whether we believe in this or not. When the persecution impends, our decision hinges on belief in the reward promised by the Lord—whether we opt to remain faithful to the Lord or deny Him.
Upon hearing the news, Mary hurried over to Elizabeth’s house. The angel’s proclamation that she would bear a child proved to be quite a challenge for Mary to believe, considering her status as a virgin. However, the angel assured her by offering evidence, saying, “Your relative Elizabeth is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. I only let you know about this. She is not telling anyone yet, but she’s pregnant.” Mary might have pondered, “How can this be? Can she truly be pregnant at her age?” Nevertheless, the angel assured her, “This is what God’s doing. For no word from God will ever fail.” Although this situation was unusual, did not something similar happen to Elizabeth?
Thus, Mary could have quickly confirmed the veracity of the message she received by confirming Elizabeth’s pregnancy. With this in mind, Mary hastened to Elizabeth’s house. While on her way, she might have contemplated, “If I ask her, ‘Are you pregnant?’ Elizabeth will be surprised because she hasn’t told anyone.”
Yet, the moment Mary arrived, Elizabeth spoke first. What were her words? “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is your womb.” She already knew of Mary’s pregnancy even before Mary even spoke. Moreover, Elizabeth exclaimed, “How is it that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Mary was surprised by Elizabeth referring to her child as “the Lord.” It’s truly remarkable! Elizabeth continued to express her joy and said, “As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” She explained that her baby responded with joy in the presence of the Lord. And then she added, “Blessed is she who has believed.”
Elizabeth clearly recognized the significance of the child. She declared, “The Lord would fulfill His promises to her!” She already knew all the things that the angel had said to Mary. And she continued, “Blessed is she, for the word of the Lord has fulfilled her.” The two women were filled with joy and together praised the Lord.
As the time approached for both women to give birth, they each delivered sons. These two children, the one became the end of the Law, the other became the beginning of the Gospel. When these two women came together and shared their happiness, it symbolized the convergence of the Law and the Gospel, as they held hands in joy while recognizing each other’s value. The Law, upon seeing Jesus, was overjoyed and exclaimed, “Wow, the awaited Lord is finally here!” And the Gospel, Jesus Christ rejoiced as the work of the Law came to fruition. Thus, the two finally became one. Elizabeth can be likened to the people of Israel, as she bore the Law. Meanwhile, Mary can be seen as a representation of the human spirit. Human spirit. This scene of the two pregnant women holding hands and joyfully dancing was spectacular.
All the promises made by God in the past have been fulfilled as it is. Like this, our faith rests upon what God first gives His word to us and then works on us to make it come true. Therefore, genuine faith is not about blindly following mere inspiration without any prophecies of the past. Rather, our faith is obeying and fulfilling the words recorded in the Bible. This is where true blessings lie. Just as Elizabeth recognized Mary as blessed because of the presence of God’s word within her, we also can be blessed when God’s word fulfills within us.
Then, when did this word begin to appear? It is the Word from the eternity past. And God planted this word in Abraham, promised him a blessing, and then the blessing has finally come. That is to say, the blessing of Abraham has extended to the Gentiles through Jesus. It is to bear many fruits through Jesus. What is the root of this tree? Its root goes back to Abraham.
Imagine placing a bouquet of flowers into a vase; it is very beautiful and visually pleasing. But it has no roots, so it cannot bear fruit. Although it is beautiful itself, it cannot bear fruit or attract bees. Similarly, there are some people who claim to believe in Jesus but lack a true comprehension of what it means to have faith in Jesus. They do not know about the Law or Abraham. Without this understanding, their faith might be founded on their own ideas or convictions, not centered around Jesus that God commands us to believe in. Consequently, they will fail to bear fruit due to lack of direction.
It is just like placing a single dot. To establish a clear direction and form a straight line, at least two dots are needed. If we do not know where the root is, even if we believe in Jesus and have received the Holy Spirit, we will not know the direction we should take. This can lead to mysticism. The starting point is surely from Abraham. Abraham and then come to Jesus. A midpoint between Abraham and Jesus would be David. Once these three points are connected to form a straight line, we can see the direction clearly. It indicates the path ahead.
Yet, people without roots cannot see the path ahead, so they repeatedly ask God, “God, which is the way I should go? What is Your will for me?” While these people might seem very spiritual and have a close relationship with God, in reality, they are not truly close to God. Instead, they act according to their own desires and wills.
Essentially, this represents anthropocentrism, which can easily grow in this kind of soil where actions are driven by personal desires. These people could stir up divisions and conflicts within the church. Can anthropocentrism and theocentrism be mixed with each other? Absolutely not. Ultimately, the root of all these issues lies in this question: Do you listen to the words of God recorded in the Bible, or do you pick and choose words based on your own emotions? I am not disregarding personal experiences inspired by God’s words. When the foundation of faith is solid, these hold significance. However, if that foundation is lacking, spiritual experiences could veer into mysticism and go beyond the Bible.
Even Jesus never went beyond the words recorded in the Bible!
Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:28-30)
In February 1997, Pastor Ki-Dong Kim gave a sermon titled “Receive Power” based on the above verses at a winter camp, and it completely changed my life. This sermon was the turning point for me. I consistently attended camps whenever I had a military vacation, and these camps always brought about significant changes in my life. However, Pastor Kim’s explanation of the Bible verse during this time had a decisive impact on me. I had never heard messages like his sermon of that verse; his teaching was truly eye-opening. It is amazing! Through this, I realized that my previous approach to faith was wrong. The ways I learned these approaches were from my seniors and other pastors. However, Semuon has been teaching us with the proper perspectives.
Upon comprehending and embracing these words, the pace of my spiritual growth accelerated dramatically. It was completely different from my previous state; my thought process shifted, and my attitude toward standing before God’s word changed as well. This change enabled me to receive clear guidance through God’s word. Consequently, I went to China for missionary work four months later. Equipped with a genuine understanding of these words, I began to receive direct guidance through the word. Prior to this realization, I had maintained consistent practice of reading the Bible, yet it felt disconnected from me. Why? Because I believed that the words would only relate to me if they evoked feelings within me. As a result, while I read the Bible every day, it did not carry personal significance for me, and I struggled to understand its message. Thus, I merely used it from my own perspective. However, upon realizing its true meaning, I came to know that every word recorded in the Bible is intended to find fulfillment in my life.
Even the reason behind Jesus saying, “I am thirsty,” was because it was recorded in the prophetic books. He intentionally sought out this sentence within the prophetic books, kept it in His mind, and then deliberately said it. This demonstrates how proactively Jesus fulfilled the words. His approach was very aggressive, as He proclaimed, “I will obey when the Lord says!” His purpose was to fulfill the words in the Bible. With the attitude of actively fulfilling the words, He meticulously fulfilled everything that had been foretold about Him. Therefore, He said, “I am thirsty!” to fulfill the words inscribed in the Bible. Even though He could have chosen to omit this sentence due to the potential embarrassment, He chose to do so in order to fulfill the words in the Bible. Despite being the Son of God, He did not dismiss the words of the prophets or the words spoken through human voices. He did not claim, “Oh, God told me directly.” Instead, He intentionally fulfilled everything recorded in the prophetic books through the spoken words of people, ensuring the fulfillment of God’s words. In this way, Jesus showed us an exemplary model of faith.
Upon encountering this sermon, I was profoundly impacted and astounded. In the past, I was always confused, wondering, “How can I discern if these words are from God for me?” However, from that moment on, all these doubts have vanished. “Ah, all these words are meant to be fulfilled!” So, who will fulfill all these words? It is Jesus. And now that I am united with Jesus, what is God’s expectation of me? His anticipation is for me to engage with and fulfill these words. God desires us to fulfill all the words in the Bible within Jesus Christ. Thus, there is no need to inquire, “Is this God’s will or not?” We are now endowed with a clear understanding of God’s will. The primary reason we cannot fulfill God’s word lies in the limitations of our human ability and our insatiable desires. Nonetheless, God desires that we give our utmost effort to obey His words and accomplish as much as we can. Therefore, we must pray to seek more of God’s help.
Later on, as I read the passage, “I will make you fishers of men,” I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my heart. Jesus says, “Leave your boat and your father, and come follow me!” What does the boat represent? It signifies one’s workplace. And the father? It encompasses all human relationships and traditions. In essence, the Lord commands, “Leave all these things behind and come follow me!” If I read this word in the past, I might have ignored it until I felt a stirring in my heart, thinking, “How can I know if this is the word that the Lord has given me? I haven’t received any direct words.”
However, ever since I realized that these words were meant to be fulfilled, I could not sleep and became easily distracted at work. I was aware that God intended for me to fulfill this message. Despite my efforts to resist and ignore, the message had already entered inside of me and made it impossible to ignore. Moreover, I started to have headaches, inner turmoil, and an abrupt decline in concentration while at work.
Subsequently, I told my supervisor, “I think I should quit.” But he rejected my request, empathizing, “As a pastor’s son, I fully understand your current situation. Everyone goes through this phase. Let’s avoid mention of resignation for the next five years.” His words gave me a momentary relief, offering a convenient excuse. Nonetheless, as time passed by, I was even more miserable than before, and the feeling of pain increased whenever I prayed. I was able to suppress these feelings during the course of a regular day, but they persistently resurfaced during prayer and overwhelmed me. While certain persistent concerns faded away during prayer, there were matters that I desperately wished to forget but resurfaced whenever I prayed. It was agonizing; I felt like I could not bear it any longer.
Therefore, I prayed to God, saying, “If you want me to quit my job, and if this decision is good for me, please let me leave naturally through my supervisor!” Surprisingly, within merely a week, our company underwent a major change. Our company, which was affiliated with the Christian social welfare institution’s supervisory church organization, experienced a split. As a result, our welfare institution was divided into a head institution and branch institutions, and branch institutions were handed over to another organization. Unfortunately, those who were taken to the branch institutions naturally did not have the same benefits as those in the head institution, but as a new employee, I remained in the head institution. Just imagine how dissatisfied those in the branch institution must have been! They harbored a strong desire to transfer to the head institution, but to do so, they had to take unpaid leave and await a vacant position. Moreover, the availability of a vacancy was uncertain within one or two years. In this situation, as a recent recruit in the main institution, what was I supposed to do? Would not it be great if I could resign now and free up a vacancy?
One week later, my supervisor summoned me in and asked, “Are you going to stand by the request you made last week?” Reflecting on my prayer, I immediately replied, “Absolutely!” Then, He promptly relayed my situation to the minister’s office. Shortly thereafter, the general manager invited me to his office, with a handshake, said, “Thank you, Mr. Lee!” And just like that, I quit my job. Prior to leaving, they organized a farewell party for me, giving a donation to support my missionary work and blessing me through their prayers. Thus, I left the company with their sincere well wishes.
In this way, my prayer had truly been answered by God. So, I made preparations to go to China and chose a school there. And finally, I told my parents about my decision to go to China. At that time, I thought I would never return, so before my departure to China, I spent a month tirelessly visiting door-to-door of my relatives to evangelize. Even if they clearly rejected the Gospel, I kept on preaching the Gospel to them. I even visited my wife’s aunt for the first time and shared the Gospel with them during the dinner. Since I thought I would never see them again in my lifetime, I evangelized persistently. It was during this time that my parents accepted Jesus and received the Holy Spirit, and even my mother-in-law also received the Holy Spirit. In one month, my family went through a significant change so I could go to China without any lingering regrets.
This occurrence did not merely happen because I asked God blindly, “God, what is your will for me?” Instead, it emerged from my determined heart to fulfill His word. Subsequently, I made the decision to resign from my job and proceed to China. How did I know if going to China was God’s will? When I arrived in China, I witnessed God’s ongoing work there. On one occasion, I witnessed thirty people receiving the Holy Spirit simultaneously. So, I prayed, “God, I am willing to work here in China!” Why? Because I had heard that China was in need of mission workers. I prayed boldly, “Even though I do not speak Chinese well, I am willing to stay here and work. God, please help me!” I did not characterize the question, “God, is this Your will?” Rather, I prayed fervently, proclaiming, “Lord, come and help me!”
Moreover, I recollected what Jesus had said: “I no longer call you servants. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” Now, Jesus regards me as His friend. If I were a mere servant, I would be asking, “What should I do with this, and what should I do with that?” However, as His friend, I can express to Him, “I’m going to China! It is a wonderful place. Not only was the food delicious, but the environment was also suitable for me. Witnessing thirty individuals receiving the Holy Spirit all at once, how incredible! I want to work here. Please help me.” By comprehending the will of the Father and understanding the heart of the Lord, every aspect of my prayer aligns with the will of God. Therefore, as His friend, why would God curse us? Would He obstruct our path? Since I discerned God’s will and made a decision within His will, I could confidently ask, “I will work here, help me!” Then, God answered my prayer immediately, and I embarked on various ways to carry out His work.
Until then, I had never preached before. However, as soon as I began to speak, numerous miracles and wonders occurred, confirming the veracity of the words. I was also astonished and pondered, “Wow, what am I going to do now? What should I do next?” When the blind man opened his eyes, numerous people converged around me as if I were a god and brought other patients to me. During that time, I grappled with a sense of unease and was uncertain how to handle the situation. So, I prayed to God, “Oh, my God, how am I going to end this mess? Since it’s Your doing, please take responsibility for it!” The next day brought an even more surprising incident. “Oh, what should I do next? Oh, God, please guide me!” That is how I came along, and from then on, the word of God began to work in me. Through this process, I witnessed countless divine works, and eventually, I realized, “Ah, so this is the Berea Movement! Just one Berean book will work enormously!” This profound realization led me to return to Korea and engage in this ministry.
Would God really say something like, “My plan for you is not China, but Africa. Consequently, all that you have done so far were in vain, and you are now under a curse”? Absolutely not! Since He is our friend, He is always with us to help and guide us.
Now, God commands us to fulfill His word! This implies that He has entrusted us with significant authority. He does not merely treat us as mere servants. Therefore, we should discard all the negative, passive, and mystical beliefs from the past and positively fulfill the words of the Bible together.
Because we are within Jesus, we can see a clear picture of where everything in the Old Testament and New Testament stands in Jesus. Thus, now, every word recorded in the Bible must be fulfilled in our lives. Let us pray that God please help us to respond to the words recorded in the Bible and to fulfill them actively.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for giving us the recorded word, which prevents us from wandering. It makes us know clearly why Jesus Christ came to this earth and whrer He is going in the future, and realize our path. Please help us to repond to the recorded words and fulfillt them actively. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Sermon by Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
Lunch prayer meeting, Sungrak Mission Center
Sermon on June 13, 2019
Translated by Sungrak Mission Center English Team