God's Warning to the
5. Judgement By God's Word
It is a long way from Korea to America, yet God has been driving me here from long ago. Unless I had something new to reveal, I would not come here to speak to you at all. Why should I come if I only were to repeat the things that you already know? I would like for you and me to spend this time together in open mindedness so that the spirit of God can speak directly into our hearts. Jesus taught in his Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." (Matt. 5:3, 5, 6)
Tonight I humbly ask you to be the poor in spirit; I ask you to be the meek, and I ask you to become those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Then we will all see the Kingdom of Heaven, and we shall all be satisfied. Now let us begin.
Christians, and Christianity itself, have a final hill to cross. Biblical prophecy states that Christians must pass through the end of the world and face the judgment of fire at the great and terrible day of the Lord. The Bible says we are going to see many extraordinary phenomena, in heaven and on earth, as the end comes near.
When Jesus promised his second coming, he conveyed a feeling of great imminence. From the day Jesus Christ ascended into heaven, Christians have been watching for his return to earth. For the last 2,000 years of history, it has been the hope of every Christian to see the returning Christ. But this extraordinary event has never occurred. Many people tired of waiting. Some finally decided that this second coming would not happen literally. They came to think, "This is just one of God's methods to keep us alert."
Not only Christianity, but many other religions of the world are predicting a certain end of the world. However, even though they predict it, they do not have a sure definition of the end of the world. Everyone makes his or her definition of the end of the world according to the founder of their own religion or denomination. Who really represents a universal understanding?
We must clarify the meaning of the end of the world as the Bible prophesies it. We must also know how the Lord will reappear when he comes in the fullness of time.
We should first of all understand that God did not create the world to end. He always intended the world of goodness to last forever. The God who does not create for eternity cannot be an almighty God. The present world must end, however, because the fall initiated a history of evil. The end of the world is necessary because we have not achieved God's intended world of goodness. Instead of becoming children of goodness, we have in reality become creatures of evil.
Adam and Eve fell in the garden of Eden. They were not at that time in a position to have a full understanding of the will of God. They entered into a state of confusion and made the wrong choice. They were confronted with either obedience to God, which would have brought about the good world, or obedience to Satan, which did in fact bring about their fall. Between two clear choices, Adam and Eve made the wrong one. They brought evil into the world. God's original intention was to create His ideal world -- a good and prosperous world He determined to last for eternity. But human beings fell, the good world of God ended abruptly, and human history started in the wrong direction.
The history of the world is therefore a history of evil. God sowed good seed, and He intended to harvest a good crop. But Satan stole His crop before it was ripened and reaped a harvest of evil. Human history is a crop of weeds.
Then let us examine when the end of the world will come. This is very important to us. The gospel says that in the last days God will separate the sheep from the goats. What is the difference between these two kinds of animals? Sheep recognize their master, the shepherd, while goats do not follow a shepherd. Today you know that our world is divided into two opposing camps. One is the democratic world, the other is the Communist world. Our free world says, "There is a God." We accept our shepherd. The Communist world says, "God does not exist." They deny their master. Thus the free world may be symbolized by sheep, and the Communist world by goats. At the time of the formation of these two conflicting ideological worlds, we can know we have come to the end of the world.
Another sign of the last days is flagrant immorality. Satan became Satan because of unchaste love. Love is a very formidable weapon of Satan. One must be equipped with a greater, more righteous love in order to conquer Satan.
Satan is always trying to trick people with cheap love. But heavenly love is beautiful and constructive in its sacrificial giving. Satan's love is unreliable and will last only a short time, but heavenly love is eternally unchanging.
Ultimately these two kinds of love will clash, confronting each other in the last days. America is facing the last days right now and we can see two extremes of love in this country: the carnal, dirty love of free sex and the deep rooted, heavenly love now being proclaimed by righteous people. Secular love and heavenly love are confronting each other here in America. As the scope of satanic love becomes greater there will be more destruction. Families will break up; people will become corrupted; life will become miserable, and more people will commit suicide. But as heavenly love expands, our lives become richer. There is a line of judgement separating these two worlds of love, and you must stand on either one side or the other. You can not be in both.
The last days is the time for dividing good and evil, which are becoming steadily more confused. Even the most faithful believer in Jesus or the most righteous church on earth cannot proclaim proudly that they are absolutely separated from Satan and sin and that they are following Jesus exactly as he would have them do. No one can say they are living in perfect love in an ideal world with no suffering and tears. No church and no Christian could say such a thing.
This means that Satan exists within the churches as everywhere else; also, there is sin there as in the rest of the world. If this is true and if what church people love and hate is no different from what the rest of the world loves and hates, then there is very little difference between the world and the church. Which would Satan find more pleasure in the church or the world? Satan likes the sins of the church more, because based upon them he can protest to God, "Look at those people in the church -- they don't love others; they even hate others! They are not faithful, either. This must be my church." If the churches remain this way, they will decline into nothing at the time of the last days, along with the evil, secular world. This is the way of God; He will judge such churches before the judgement of the rest of society.
What really surprised me when I first came to America was the way Americans used the names of Jesus Christ and God as an exclamation -- not to praise them, but to put them in the worst position. I wondered what people meant when they said, "Jesus Christ!" and I realized that they were describing something bad. What led to this kind of custom? What do the best words imaginable have to do with the worst things that can happen to people? Have you sometimes observed that certain Christians may be worse than people of the secular world? Those who claim they believe in God may actually be worse than those who don't -- they are more egotistical, less loving and giving, etc.
The American nation is founded upon Judeo-Christian principles, yet Americans have become very individualistic. Was Jesus an individualistic person? How did Americans come to be so egotistical and individualistic when Jesus had nothing of a self-centered nature? We can come to the simple conclusion that if people really believed in Jesus they would not have become like that. Instead of believing in Jesus for Jesus' sake and for God's sake, some people believe in him for their own benefit. In other words, they use Jesus and God for their own sake. What do you think about this?
Then, what does the end of the world mean? Just what is going to end? Evil is going to end. God will put an end to all evil. Out of God's new beginning will come a new opportunity for the human race. And the goodness God intended in His original ideal can be made real. What will Jesus do when he comes? Will he come to wipe out the world? The word "judgement" is frequently misunderstood to mean that God will wipe out everything in anger. That is not the purpose of the Messiah's coming. The whole purpose is to fulfill the ideal that was left undone in the garden of Eden, to work for individual, family, social, national and world perfection. Judgement is the constructive work of God to see the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God here on earth.
In the garden of Eden Adam and Eve fell into evil instead of developing their goodness. They was subjugated by Satan and became the children of sin. Therefore the Bible says, "You are of your father the devil (John 8:44) If the fall had not occurred, then the true ruler would be God. But He is not today the King of this universe, because Satan is sitting upon God's throne. God has to remove all results of the human fall before He can truly reign over the world.
Now, the end of the world is the moment in history when God ends this history of evil and begins His new age. It is the crossroads of the old history of evil and the new history of good.
In light of this definition, why does the Bible predict extraordinary heavenly phenomena as signs of the end of the world? Will the things predicted really occur? The Bible says: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken." (Matt. 24:29)
What does this mean? What are we to expect?
First of all, please rest assured that these things will not happen literally. God will not destroy anything in the universe. God often expresses His truth in symbols and parables, and these biblical sayings will be accomplished symbolically. Second, God has no reason to destroy the universe. It is not the universe, but man and woman who have committed sin. Only we deviated from the original plan of God's creation. Why should God destroy the animals, or the plants, or anything in creation which fulfilled His purpose as He intended? God would not destroy those innocent things.
I want you to understand that when we say "end of the world," it does not mean the destruction of the physical world, but the end of the old ways and beginning of a new human era. The Bible therefore says, "A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever." (Eccl. 1:4) In Revelation we read: "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away." (Rev. 2 1: 1) That new heaven and new earth refers to the coming of a new history of God, a time of new dominion. After you buy a house, won't you move in your family and possessions? Then you will say that you have a new home, and you are the new master of the house. In the same way, when men of God occupy this universe, it will become a new heaven and a new earth.
We know that when winter ends, spring begins. But can we say at precisely what point spring starts? Who can pinpoint the exact instant of transition? You cannot know because the passage from one season to another takes place imperceptibly, quietly. The end of winter is similar to the beginning of spring, so there is no discernible moment of transition.
At what moment does the old day end and a new day begin? Although the change occurs in darkness, there is no doubt that we do go from one day to the next. The change is unnoticeable at first, but it is also inevitable and irrevocable. Although three billion people live on earth, not one among them can point to the exact moment when the old day passes and the new day begins. So we understand that from the human point of view we cannot always know the precise moment things happen. But God knows when winter passes into spring, and God knows when night opens into day. And God can point to the transition into new history.
Our step into new history is like a glorious dawn emerging out of the darkest night. The crossing point between good and evil is not obvious. You will not notice it when it happens, but it will definitely take place, just as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow.
Then how can we know when the end is approaching? God will not hide this moment from us; He does not suddenly bring judgment on the world without warning.
God will announce the coming of the great and terrible day through His prophets. Amos 3:7 says, "Surely the Lord God does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets." God chooses His instrument and through him God announces His plans. This has been the case throughout Bible history.
The person to be chosen as God's prophet must be one of the people living in our evil world. But he or she must be a person of faith who can demonstrate worthiness to be used by God, showing absolute faith. To do this the person must give up all worldly success and completely separate from this evil world. He must purify himself by cutting off all evil attachments. He will not be popular in the evil world. God is absolute good and therefore the exact opposite of evil. That is why evil always persecutes a person of God.
Noah was such a man chosen by God and scorned by the evil world. God instructed Noah to build a ship. He sent Noah to the heights of a mountain instead of down by the riverside or to the seashore. God's command was so ridiculous in the eyes of the evil world that many people laughed at Noah. He was ridiculed, not because people thought him a particularly funny man, but because he followed God's instructions so faithfully. The eyes of the world could not understand the way of God. In this manner, with such implausible instructions, God could test the faith of the man he had chosen as His champion. This is what happened in Noah's day.
And at the time of Abraham it was no different. God called Abraham, the son of an idol-maker, and commanded him, "Leave your home at once!" God does not allow for any compromise. God takes a position where evil can be totally denied. In no other way can good begin.
God has said He will start a new history, in which no element of evil will remain. God demands complete response from human beings. Those who follow God's direction must begin from absolute denial of the evil world. That is why Jesus Christ taught: "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matt. 10:39) He also said, "a man's foes will be those of his own household." (Matt. 10:36)
You may ask, what kind of message is this? This is God's way, to choose His own people and put them in a position where they will be rejected by evil. Otherwise His champion can do no good for God. From the point of view of God's standard, then, modern Christians have been having a very easy time. This is very strange, because there is no easy way indicated in Christian teaching. I wonder how many Christians are really serious about following the path of God? God's demand is absolute. It allows for no middle ground.
Let me tell you something about my background. I was raised a Christian in Korea. Christianity is the core of all religions. The reason for this is that in Christianity we teach the love and life relationship with God and the way of sacrificing ourselves for the sake of others. That's why I chose Christianity. I thought it was only too natural to draw the conclusion that in Christianity alone, and through Christianity alone, we can save the whole world, because there we are taught to have the relationship between God and ourselves based upon Jesus' divine love and life.
During the springtime of my youth I spent every day experiencing the most desperate, suffering situations in human life: labor camps, coal mining, begging, dock work, farming, fishing. I looked at every aspect of human life, even the world of prostitutes. I learned why women become prostitutes and why men go to prostitutes. I studied all the miseries of human life.
When I was a student in Tokyo, I rode on the railway looking for places where the most suffering people were living. Even on rainy days I would get off the train and go and sit on the bench beside unfortunate looking people and make friends with them. I always thought to myself, "What if this man were my elder brother or my father and he was suffering on my account, what could I do for him?"
I observed the students at my university. They were always laughing, talking, and behaving very boisterously. I compared myself with them and thought, "Your laughter is meaningless; it has no weight. But through my silence and prayer, as I seek the solutions to life's problems, people will find hope in the future." I knew that the silly gaiety of my fellow students would pass away like a puff of smoke, but the sorrow and sadness I was sharing with the downtrodden of society would bring a new future for the world.
This is how I spent my entire youth, going to the places of poverty and misery, visiting the homes of miners and laborers. Also, I acquainted myself with middle-class people and upper-class people, even saving money and spending a week in the finest hotel. In my village, even though I had never committed a crime, people began to wonder about me and I could not move about freely or live my life freely. I was thinking of the nation and the world. Because of that, I was completely misunderstood. People would laugh at me, point their fingers at me. Once I undertook my life's mission, I encountered opposition on every level. My village opposed me, the society opposed me, and the nation opposed me. The most severe opposition came from established Christianity. Ministers and elders of the churches were pointing their fingers at me, accusing me of being a heretic, telling their parishioners, "Don't even go near Rev. Moon; he has a demon!" My relatives were mistreated simply because they were related to me. If I went to a village inn or to a restaurant, I was not welcome. I did nothing wrong and I committed no crime. All I was doing was pursuing the highest possible goal, which they could not understand.
Under such circumstances, winning a true friend and creating a small organization was not easy. But Jesus and the spiritual world was always on my side. In the early days of the Unification Church, nobody witnessed for the church. Members came through contact and guidance from the Spirit.
During the Korean War, it took me four months to travel by foot from North Korea to Pusan. In Korea men wear a kind of white pajamas. Taking four months, you cannot imagine how dirty it became; it was so dirty I put it inside out. There was no sleeping place, only open space. It was December, so it was very cold when I got to Pusan. To avoid this night coldness, I went to the military harbor for labor, because it was easier to work than sleep.
In the daytime I went to the mountains; among the trees I had a place to sleep, and time for myself I enjoyed it. When I went to work I told interesting stories, and the workers would gather around me and bring me food. But I could not live like that all the time, so I had a small hut, hardly better than a dog house, a very simple dwelling place with mud and rocks on the walls and roof There was no flat land where I was going to build. So I built up a slope. Where I built it there is a spring which passes through the middle of the floor. With boxes I made a temporary roof. The size of the room was about six feet long. Still I wore those four-month-old clothes. There was nowhere to put them in the laundry. In that humble situation spiritually chosen people found me. Even though I wore those clothes, they came.
Then how can we know clearly the path of God? Let us examine the history of God's providence. Today we are anticipating the end of the world. God has made previous attempts to end the evil world. For example, the time of Noah: That was a crossroads in history, when God wanted to bring an end to evil and begin the world of goodness. Noah was the central figure chosen in God's dispensation. To better understand Noah's mission and the meaning of the end of the world, we want to know more fully how the evil history began.
In the garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve a commandment. That commandment was the word of God. Then Satan approached and enticed them with a lie. And that lie was the word of evil. Adam and Eve were in a position to choose between the two words: The truth was on one side, and a lie was on the other. They chose the lie.
Because this was the process of the fall, at the end of the world God will give humankind truth. The words of God will come through His prophet. When people accept the words of God they will then pass from death to life, because truth leads to life. Human beings died in a lie, and in truth we will be reborn.
Therefore judgment comes by words. These words of God's judgement are revealed by His chosen prophets. This is the process of the ending of the world. Those who obey and listen to the new word of truth shall have life. Those who deny the word will continue to live in death.
God chose Noah to declare the word. Noah's announcement was, "The flood is coming. The salvation is the ark." The people could have saved themselves by listening to Noah's words. However, the people treated Noah as if he were a crazy man, and they perished -- because they opposed the word of God. According to the Bible, only the eight people of Noah's immediate family became passengers on the ark. Only these eight believed, and only these eight were saved.
God had said to Noah, "I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them; behold. I will destroy them with the earth." (Gen. 6:13) Did this actually happen? We know the evil people perished, but was the physical world demolished in the process? No. This passage was not literally fulfilled, and God did not destroy the earth. God did eradicate the people and abolish evil sovereignty, leaving only the good people of Noah's family. This was God's way to begin to restore the original world of goodness through Noah.
If God had fully consummated His restoration at that time, then we would have heard no more about the end of the world. Once the perfect world of goodness is realized, another end of the world is not necessary. Nothing could interfere with the eternal reign of God's perfect kingdom.
But the very fact that we anticipate the end of the world today is proof that the providence did not thus succeed at the time of Noah. What happened to Noah after the flood should be fully explained, but I cannot spend too much time on that subject tonight. To make a long story short, once again, sin crept into Noah's family through his son, Ham. God's flood judgment was thereby nullified, and evil human history continued, leading to the time of Jesus Christ.
With the coming of Christ, God again attempted to end the world. Jesus came to start the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Thus, the first words Jesus spoke were, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Indeed, the time of Jesus Christ's ministry was the time for the end of the world. That great and terrible day was prophesied by Malachi, about 400 years before the birth of Jesus: "For behold, the day comes, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evil-doers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch." (Mal. 4: 1)
Was the judgement of Jesus Christ done by literal fire? Did the day come at the time of Jesus when everything literally turned to ashes? No, we know it did not. Since these things prophesied did not literally happen at that time, some people say that such prophecy must have been meant for the time of the Second Advent. But this cannot be the case.
John the Baptist came to the world as the last prophet; Jesus said: ". . . all the prophets and the law prophesied until John." (Matt. 11: 13) The coming of John the Baptist should have brought to a close prophecy and the Mosaic Law. This is what Jesus said would happen. The purpose of all prophecy before Jesus was to prepare for his coming, and to indicate what was to be fulfilled up to the time of his coming. These prophecies are not for the time of the Lord at the second advent. God sent His son Jesus into the world, intending full salvation of spirit and flesh to be accomplished. The second coming was made necessary only by lack of consummation at the time of the first coming.
Why then was the time of Jesus the time for the end of the world? We already know the answer. It is because Jesus came to end evil sovereignty and bring forth God's sovereignty upon the earth. This was the end of the Old Testament Age and the beginning of the age of the New Testament. Jesus brought the new words of truth.
How did the people receive the gospel which he brought? They did not receive and honor his teachings. They were prisoners to the letter of the Old Testament and could not perceive the presence of the spirit of God in the new revelation. It is ironic that Jesus fell victim to the very prophecies that were to testify to him as the Son of God. By the letter of the Mosaic Law he was judged an offender. Blindly his teachings and love were rejected.
At the time of Jesus many learned people, many religious leaders and many people prominent in society who were well-versed in the Law and the Prophets were waiting for a Messiah. How happy they would have been to have their Messiah recite the Old Testament exactly, syllable by syllable and word by word! But Jesus Christ did not come to repeat the Mosaic Law. He came to pronounce a new commandment of God. People missed the whole point. And Jesus was accused. His opponents said to him, "We stone you for no good work, but for blasphemy; because you, being a man, make yourself God." (John 10:33)
The Bible states: "And they reviled him [one of Jesus' disciples], saying, 'You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.' " (John 9:28-29) This was the way people looked at Jesus. Many who diligently obeyed the letter of the Mosaic Law disobeyed Jesus Christ. The most devout of the religious leaders were the first ones to be judged by Jesus' words and resurrection.
Now at this time I would like to clarify the meaning of "judgement by fire." We read in the New Testament: "...the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire!" (11 Peter 3:12) How can this fantastic prophecy come true? Will it happen literally? No. The statement has symbolic meaning. God would not destroy His earth, His stars and all creation without realizing His ideal on earth. If He did so, then God would become the God of defeat. And who would be His conqueror? It would be Satan. This can never happen to God.
Even on our human level, once we determine to do something, we see it through to its completion. How much more so will God almighty accomplish His will. When God speaks of judgement by fire in the Bible, He does not mean he will bring judgement by literal flames. The significant meaning is a symbolic one.
Let us now consider another Biblical passage which speaks of fire. Jesus proclaimed, "I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!" (Luke 12:49) Did Jesus throw literal, blazing fire about? Of course not.
The fire in the Bible is symbolic. It stands for the word of God. This is why James 3:6 states, "the tongue is a fire" The tongue speaks the word, and the word is from God.
Jesus himself said, "He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day." (John 12:48)
In contemporary society, the word of the court executes judgement. The word is the law. In this universe, God is in the position of judge. Jesus came as the advocate with authority to oppose Satan, the prosecutor of human beings. Satan accuses us with his words, but these are false charges. Jesus champions the cause of believers, and his standard is the word of truth. God pronounces the sentence: His love is the standard, and love is His word. There is no difference between the earthly court and the heavenly court, in that both conduct their trials by words, not by fire.
So the world will not be burned up by literal fire when it is judged. The Bible states the Lord Jesus will slay him [the evil one] with the breath of his mouth . . . " (II Thess. 2:8) The word of God is the breath of his mouth. Jesus came to slay the wicked by the word of God, and ". . . he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked." (is. 11:4) What then is the "rod of his mouth?" We take this symbol to mean his tongue -- through which he speaks the Word of God.
Let's resolve this point completely. Look to where Jesus was instructing the people: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgement, but has passed from death to life." (John 5:24) We pass from death to life through words of truth. God will not send you the Messiah to burn you up. He will not send you the Messiah to set your houses afire or destroy your society. But if we reject the Word of God spoken by the Lord, we leave no choice open except to be condemned by judgement. Here is the reason why.
In the beginning God created human beings and the universe by His Word -- the logos. Man and woman denied the Word of God and fell. Spiritual death has reigned ever since. Through His salvation work, God has been recreating us. We fell by disobedience to God's Word, and we shall be recreated by obedience to the same Word of God. The Word of God is given by the Lord. Accepting the Word brings life out of death. Such death is the hell in which we live. Thus the Word of God is the judge, and it will bring upon you a far more profound effect than the hottest flames.
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