Apostle Paul Who Was Faithful to the Calling
Acts 20:17-24, 2 Timothy 4:6-8
There is no point in begging time to stop for us. We can’t plead with time like, “This is so unfair. Can we discuss this? Can you come back tomorrow?” Time flows without responding to such requests. Even at this moment, time continues to flow, relentlessly passing over our lives that are limited by time and space. Excuses are useless against time. We cannot grasp it in our hands and it is deaf to our pleas. This is why there are so many quotes to not lose the time we have.
The Bible speaks of a man, Joshua, who grasped tightly onto time. He commanded the sun in the middle of the sky of Gibeon to stop and stand still. In fact, this means the earth stopped revolving around the sun. When Joshua finished the mission assigned to him, God set the earth back in motion. How fervent is his faith? The blazing faith in his heart toward God was hotter than the heat of the sun, thus he was able to hold the sun. This is a tremendous message. That is what “mission” is.
One’s mission means to not consider one’s life in any way as dear to oneself.
“Mission,” in the Korean language, is a combination of two words, “to handle” and “life,” meaning “to drive a person to work hard.” To have a mission is to not consider one’s life as dear as one’s own, but to unsparingly throw away if it is for the will of God. It is about submitting to God’s calling in faithfulness, uprightness, and loyalty. Apostle Paul was someone who was faithful to his calling. He was strong because he was with God. Immovable! He was adamant like a mountain. Mountains stay in one place. He had adamant faith in Immanuel, believing that the Triune God abides with him. He didn’t care about what others thought of him and was as bold as he was strong. He was fearless with bold faith and careless about death. Whatever he did, whether he ate or drank, whatever he faced, whether life or death, he could not be shaken.
All the saints of Pyungkang must be strong in the faith of Immanuel, believing that the authority and the power of the Word which created the universe will always abide with us. When we are strong, our gathering will immediately show changes. It will shine. Every field in our life will grow fruitful. Our livelihood will be filled with confidence and we will become bold. Apostle Paul, who lived his life without fear of death, is a true man of Jesus. Jesus was in Paul and Paul in Jesus; this is a life in heaven. Heaven is not a place where you can only reach after death. You are already in heaven when you believe and understand the Word of God. The Word is heaven.
A person with a sense of duty is unchanging.
A person with a sense of duty is not shaken. Such a person will be bold and not be shaken, no matter the storm. He will be still. God’s years do not come to an end (Heb 1:12) because He is still. People have different times of youth and old age, changing and faltering, but God is always the same. Those who believe in such a God will also resemble God and be still. Haven’t you seen the elderly who have just as much energy as the youth? But those who do not have a sense of duty in the Word will be shaken. Do you focus on prayer? On evangelism? What about reading the Bible? If you have no focus on any of these things, then, of course, nothing will happen for you. Because we read the Bible, we can believe in God and cry out to Him. The second volume of the “History of Redemption” series has been published. When were the days of Noah? Many theologians and Christians still believe that Noah built the ark for 120 years. They are surprised when it is revealed that the construction took less than 100 years. It has been nearly 3,600 years since Moses left this world. Moses and the Israelites camped at 42 sites from Egypt to Canaan. These facts are meaningless, worthless, if you don’t look at this from the perspective of Jesus’ redemptive history. Where are the locations of the 42 camps? The second book has a map of each campsite. None of this would have been possible if I did not focus on the Word of God. For the past 50 years, I have never passed a day without praying over two hours and reading the Bible three hours. It has been three years since I got shingles on my head, but because I have a mission, I don’t stop even if the doctor tells me to rest. I can’t sleep because I have a mission. I pray and read the Bible relentlessly in order to fulfill the mission I received on this earth. This does not just apply to myself. This is a message to everyone to be faithful to your mission, to your calling. If you are steadfast and focused, you will not be distracted under any circumstance. If you have a mission, there is no faltering. You will have a clear purpose and you will know your way.
However, those who idle will just be hanging in the wind. They don’t concentrate on the Word nor pray, nor devote themselves to serve in church. There are only 52 Sundays a year. What can they accomplish if they can’t even keep the Lord’s Day properly? The day is not our own, but a special day of God, yet you’re stealing it. In addition, they don’t tithe properly. God is not asking for tithes because He is in need. Giving tithes is about remembering our Creator and keeping the Word in mind. It is about living by the commandments. For the sake of these reasons, God even spoke through the prophet Malachi, “You are robbing Me in tithes” (Mal 3:7-8). Those who acknowledge that all is from God offer tithes in greater thanksgiving and devotion. For those who do not properly tithe nor keep the Lord’s Day, what can they believe?
Apostle Paul studied at a very prestigious school in Tarsus. He was a pupil of Gamaliel who was a teacher of the law, a pharisee of pharisees, and blameless in the Law. However, he counted all his prideful gains as mere rubbish (Phil 3:7) because he came to realize the surpassing value of knowing Jesus. Without firm faith based on the Word, we cannot gain our sense of mission. Our entire life is shaken. They’re like a reed shaken by the wind. Paul said that he does not consider his life precious in the least compared to completing the ministry he received from the Lord Jesus, that is, to testify of the gospel of God’s grace (Acts 20:24). There is nothing to fear for those who are not afraid to risk their lives. They are strong and bold. They do not consider death. Our Pyungkang saints must have this kind of faith to receive the blessings of transfiguration (1 Cor 15:51), so that we can live and not die, and be transfigured and ascend to heaven. Please do not miss services. Worship is what pleases God the most. Worship is glorifying God, singing praises, praying, and waiting for His grace.
Temptation comes to those who lack a sense of duty.
Many believers speak of being filled with the Word and Holy Spirit but are then suddenly and unexpectedly tested. These trials come wordlessly and unplanned, without warning or notice. However, if someone has a sense of duty, temptation cannot enter his heart. Trials really look at the heart of a person, saying, “Look, they boast of their position in church but they have no sense of duty,” and then enter into their hearts. However, they cannot enter people like Apostle Paul, who said, “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.” Even the devil recognizes those who have that resolute faith, passing them by and saying, “My head will be crushed if I go into that person.” So, when we are about to be tested, let us realize, “Oh, I’ve lost my sense of calling,” and remember Acts 20:24. We can truly speak of the fullness of the Holy Spirit after understanding this; just speaking of the Holy Spirit will not fill you with the Holy Spirit.
Our lives must always come second to the commission of the gospel. Try running your business with this mentality. We mustn’t only think about providing a good life for our families. We must eat, work, sleep, and stay awake for the gospel! That is the very definition of one’s mission. Moses would rather share in the ill-treatment with the people of God than enjoy the treasures of Egypt (Heb 11:25-26).
Temptation enters those who lack a sense of duty. All light in life is driven out and replaced by pitch-black darkness. Satisfaction, gladness, and laughter will vanish as discontentment and grumbling abound. These people will sneer and say, “They call themselves believers?” How frightening is this! People are killed not with weapons but with words. The tongue must be controlled if one loves life and wants to see good days. No one can tame the tongue. It is set on fire by hell (Jas 3:6).
Those without a mission detest attending church and loathe praising and evangelizing. They are entangled in matters and thoughts of the flesh. They will bend over backwards for their families or jobs, but will be completely indifferent to the gospel of Jesus. Joy is nowhere to be found and everything is either wearisome or irritating. Their hearts are never at ease. No matter whom they meet, they are left unsatisfied and uneasy. That’s how they live their entire lives. Their lives lack any pleasing aroma. As Christians, we must give off a fragrance (2 Cor 2:14). But why is this fragrance missing in all aspects of their lives? Why is there only the pervasive odor and stench of death?
Christians without a mission are whom the devil loves most. The devil will say to them, “Don’t fool yourselves into thinking that your position at church matters. Without a mission, you are mine.” They belong to the devil, so the devil will go in and out of them. One moment they are laughing, but in just a few hours, they are sullen and depressed. This is because they have no sense of mission, because they did not respond to their calling. Whatever Apostle Paul did, whether he ate or drank, he did it all for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31-33; Rom 14:7-8). You must have a sense of mission to do all things for the glory of God.
After praying this morning, I went up to the prayer site and read the Bible. I feel ill at ease when I don’t read the Bible. It feels like my wallet has slipped out of my pocket. I’m moved to prayer for fear I might lose hold of my calling. I lift my hands in prayer when I think of the souls of our church members. This is what a mission is. There can be no purpose without a mission. We are ignorant as to why we eat or move. It’s the same case with our children. We should pray, saying, “Lord, please raise this child to grow in faith in You and enable them to become the stewards of Your gospel of grace through and through.” How can we seek our children’s success without such a prayer? When we pray for our children to become people with a divine mission, worldly success is nothing. They will automatically follow. Wouldn’t a king reward those who take good care of his children? Likewise, God will bless us when we have a divine sense of mission for His gospel of grace. He will bless our steps when we walk and give prosperity in all the works of our hands.
The Word must be understood through the Holy Spirit for one to recognize his calling.
Wednesday is a day of prayer. What good fortune do you expect to have if you don’t even attend service and pray! Church is a place appointed by God, a house of prayer for all nations. All the sanctuaries must be filled, and that alone will evangelize. “So many people worship on Wednesdays at Pyungkang Church that they have to open even the dining areas to fit everyone.” If people hear this, they will grow curious and want to come and see for themselves. The fire of grace will be ignited so that people cannot remain silent and have to share the news with others. Presently though, all the lights are turned off and many pews are empty. Many must gather and, when they do, the amazingly profound and blessed Word of grace will burst forth like springs. Amazing things will happen when we strive to gather together: our homes will be prosperous, family members will unite in mutual respect, and children will always be mindful of their parents.
There can be no happiness, joy, or delight when there is no mission. There seems to be no reason for life; people live only because they cannot die. They say, “What’s the point of living when it brings nothing but pain?” Those without a calling and purpose will fall when tested and not be able to rise back up. They will grow distant from church, the Word, and prayer. They’ll dislike even looking at hymnals. Instead of moving voluntarily, they are led around unwillingly like cattle. Never a lord and always a slave, they can only take what is given. It’s so heartbreaking. When they try hard to realize their mission, the devil will grow anxious and test them even harder. So even though they are determined, they will soon give up. The devil abhors believers who receive their calling; he hates it so much that he will ensnare them in sin. Ceasing to pray before God is a sin (1 Sam 12:23). If we pray, we can understand our mission, and that is why the devil does everything he can to prevent this. We must stay alert. The devil hates it most when we receive the word and evangelize. He will block us from receiving the power of the Holy Spirit. The Word comes through the Holy Spirit, so if we do not receive the power of the Holy Spirit, then we cannot receive the Word. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will disclose to us what is to come (John 15:26; 16:3). Those who lose the power of the Holy Spirit will be like the paralyzed who cannot use their full strength. They cannot walk properly — one foot might function normally, but the other is impaired. The devil takes pleasure in this. But those who have received their calling and overflow with grace will live a life that abounds with the Word and praise, and they will be able to tirelessly share the gospel again and again.
We must be filled with the Holy Spirit to experience the power of God’s Word. Then we will be courageous wherever we go and all fear will be cast out. The authority of the Word empowers our hearts because Immanuel God is with us. By firmly believing that we are the sons and daughters of God, we will know how we must live. When we lose hold of our mission, all the passion and zeal we had in serving God will die out, and we will end up receiving taunts and derision by others.
After Samson lost his sense of mission, his eyes were gouged out.
Samson appears in Judges 13. His mission was to save Israel, to show God’s authority and power to the Israelites, so that they could gain strength and unite to serve only Jehovah, the sovereign Lord. Samson was sent to this world for this one mission. The name “Samson” means “man of the sun,” and wherever he went, the light shone brightly. But he met and married a Philistine woman, Delilah, who was a spy to root out a secret of Samson’s power. She received 5,000 pieces of silver in total, 1,000 pieces of silver from each of the five Philistine princes (Judg 16:5). This is about 2 million dollars in today’s currency. It is 14 times the price of the cave of Machpelah that Abraham purchased (Gen 23:16).
Philistines attacked Samson after he revealed his secret to Delilah. When he awoke, he found that God’s power had left him, and he was captured and his eyes gouged out. He was forced like a beast to turn a millstone 1.5 times the height of a man. This was the miserable result of kneeling down to a woman and forgetting his mission! I am not just talking about an old story of Samson. Even now, if you forget your mission, you will not be able to see anything, as if you’ve been blinded! You will forget your purpose, direction, and consciousness. Do you know how terrifying this is? Life will become completely dark without a single shred of light and you won’t know which way to go. Jesus said in John verses 8:12 and 9:5, “I am the Light of the world; the one who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” If you lose your sense of mission, it will become dark like night. It will become gloomy and full of despair and every day will seem the same with no ray of hope.
If you have a sense of mission, water will burst forth from even the plain.
When Samson had a sense of mission, he killed a thousand Philistines with the fresh jawbone of a donkey. Even when you chop a lot of firewood, you will sweat and thirst. Samson must have been on the verge of dying from thirst after he killed a thousand people with the jawbone of a donkey. He prayed earnestly, “Lord, I am dying of thirst. If I fall here, the uncircumcised Philistines will kill me, so please give me some water!” Following his prayer, water suddenly gushed out of a hollow place in front of him. He did not have to dig the earth. He was on a dry plain and water just came out from a hollow place. The water was so fresh and sweet that he drank and was revived (Judg 15:15-19). The hollow place was named “En-hakkore (the crier’s fountain).” Both the Israelites and the Philistines were astonished, saying, “I thought Samson was only strong. But now I see that God hears him when he prays,” and they were even more afraid. Please believe that if you have a sense of mission and live uprightly before God, that whatever you cry out to God, He will bless you in all aspects of your life, just as you wished. Isn’t it written that the water was there “to this day (Judg 15:19)”? If you have a sense of mission, you will never grow thirsty in any aspect of your life. There is no thirst when you look at your husband, your wife, your children, or your business. Everything will go well with prosperity. We must always keep the Word of God in our hearts and pray with faith. Weren’t we told not to cease praying (1 Thess 5:16)? Praying is like breathing. If you don’t breathe, you will die. Likewise, if you don’t pray, you are dead.
Samson had been so powerful, but as soon as he lost his sense of mission, he was tempted into the world and was seduced by a woman of the world. He wrongly disclosed the secret of the Word to the world. He committed adultery with the world. While he had his sense of mission, Samson was so strong, and water came out of the plains and it was there “to this day” when he prayed. But his blessed life that was full of light turned into pitch-black night.
Judges 16:20b he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.
1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God continues to live forever.
When the spirit of God’s power leaves you, you have already lost your sense of mission. It means you no longer believe in His name. You have become an empty shell. No matter how much you cry out to be filled with the Holy Spirit and the Word, regardless of your position in the church, if you have lost the grace of the Holy Spirit, only troubles await you. It is the Holy Spirit that will take us to God. Until that moment we can stand before God, the Holy Spirit will seal us and guide us to Him.
Ephesians 1:13-14 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of the promise, who is a first installment of our inheritance, in regard to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
Ephesians 4:30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
We are sealed with a guarantee until we are completely saved, and until we live eternally without facing physical and spiritual death. How wonderful is this! Therefore, we must receive the Holy Spirit. Only when we receive the Holy Spirit can we have our sense of mission. I bless you in the name of Jesus that all our Pyungkang saints will be filled with grace, the Holy Spirit, the Word, prayers and praise. I pray in the name of the Lord that you will live a blessed life filled with laughter as all darkness flees from your homes, individual relationships, workplaces, and business. May the eternal light of the sun of righteousness shine throughout.
Rev. Abraham Park
June 18, 2008, Wednesday Sermon
*This post can also be read in 'Champyungan'. (http://champyungan.com/en/)