Those approved by God

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People in the world live in their own way of life, with their own opinions. Some say this is right, and others that is true. In political circles, the government party and opposition parties are pitted against each other in divided opinions. And sometimes people take a stand against their neighbors, raising their voices. And even husband and wife quarrel with each other because of their different way of life.

If each of them claims to be right, who will tell right from wrong? Judging from the Bible, it is only God who can finally distinguish between right and wrong. So, there is the Last Judgment in the Bible.

Now, children of Zion are streaming to Jerusalem. At Jesus’ first coming, the apostles, who proclaimed the truth, were persecuted; and the Early Church-the Church of God-was slandered. It is the same now. This time, let’s think who is approved by God through the Bible.

A man approved by a fortune-teller

There was a man named Beommungong during the Song Dynasty in China. When young, he visited a fortune-teller and asked him about his future. “Will I make the prime minister?” The fortune-teller gazed intently at his face and told him that he wouldn’t be able to be the prime minister. Then he asked the fortune-teller whether he would be a doctor.

Since a doctor was regarded as mean in those days, the fortune-teller looked at him dubiously and asked back why he would change his job from the prime minister to a doctor that was not recognized.

“I thought I would be able to relieve the people from misery if I became the prime minister. But you said I was not qualified for it. So I came to think I would be of some help to the people as a doctor by looking after the patient suffering pain. That’s why I asked you if I would be able to be a doctor.”

Then the fortune-teller slapped his knee and took back his words, saying that he would be able to be the prime minister. This time, Beommungong looked dubious and demanded an explanation of it, “Why do you reverse your former prediction? Once you said I would not be able to be the prime minister and now you say I will be. Your prediction is unconvincing.”

Then the fortune-teller said, “There are several factors deciding one’s fate. The most important one is mind. According to your star, you are not fated to be the prime minister. But judging from your mentality, you are eligible for it. At first I was not far-sighted enough to search your mind. You will surely be the prime minister.”

‘People who know righteousness’ approved by God

Beommungong was approved by the fortune-teller, who read his mind, to be suitable for the prime minister. How about us? By whom should we be approved?

“Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation: The law will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations. My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations … Hear me, you who know what is right (righteousness, KJV), you people who have my law in your hearts: Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults. For the moth will eat them up like a garment; the worm will devour them like wool. But my righteousness will last forever, my salvation through all generations.” Isa. 51:4-8

‘You who know righteousness,’ ‘you people who have my [God’s] law in your hearts’-who are they? They are the people in Zion where God established the law of the new covenant. They are we ourselves. God, the Judge of all, has approved us. How trustworthy and authentic!

We are approved not by a mere fortune-teller to be the prime minister in a country, but by God to be a royal priesthood who will live forever in the kingdom of heaven. But those approved by God are to be slandered by those who are not approved by Him.

The righteousness are slandered by the wicked

As for the righteous of the world, they are not approved by all. Confucius of ancient China gave a definition of a great man. One day, Zigong a pupil of Confucius asked him, “Teacher, who is a great man? If the whole village speaks well of a man, is he great?” Then Confucius shook his head and said: “No. If a man is approved by the respectable, he must be a great man.

But if he is approved by the wicked, he cannot be regarded as great. So, if the whole village speaks well of a person, he may not be worthy.” Zigong asked him again, “Then, who is a great man? Confucius answered: “He who is approved by the respectable but disapproved by the wicked is really a great man.” It would seem that the great were reproached by the wicked in the time of Confucius, too.

So God said to us, “Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults.” If the wicked speak ill of us, undoubtedly we are the righteous. None of the righteous speak ill of us. The great God, beautiful angels and our forefathers of great faith-all the righteous commend us for keeping the new covenant and preaching with zeal. But the wicked always slander us by telling all kinds of lies. Viewed in this light, what Confucius said is somewhat worthy of note. He said: A great person is approved by the respectable but disapproved by the wicked. Undoubtedly this word applies to the brothers and sisters in Zion.

Truth is approved by God, but rejected by men

Let’s constantly consider who is approved by God.

… For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. 2 Cor. 10:14-18

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Ps. 1:1-6

We ought to be approved by God. It is only the people in Zion who are commended by God. The wicked commend those taking part in wicked deeds with them, not those doing what is right. They approve and commend false doctrines and the churches following them. So those who do what is right and walk in the paths of righteousness are always checked by the wicked.

Throughout the 66 books of the Bible, no record says that the truth is approved by all men. It has been maligned by the wicked. When Nehemiah built the temple by the will of God, the wicked men like Tobiah and Sanballat troubled him. Some joined in building the temple and rejoiced over it. But the wicked continuously kept them from building the wall of the temple so that it might not reach its height.

It was the same with Jesus who came into this earth 2,000 years ago. The righteous people including His disciples and Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were all astonished at Jesus’ teaching and really wanted to follow Him. But the chief priests and the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, whom Jesus scolded for their wickedness, saying, “Woe to you”-they all rejected and reproached Jesus. They slandered Him, saying, “He is inciting the people to rebellion.” And they attempted even to kill Jesus by stoning Him, saying, “… because you, a mere man, claim to be God” (John 10:33).

The saints of the Early Church suffered the same thing. They were persecuted and troubled; they were maligned by the wicked. But in the sight of God and of the spirits of the righteous, they were great and worthy. Neither in the Early Church nor in the days of Noah and Abraham did it occur that the righteous were commended by the wicked. Thus, Biblical history shows us that the truth is to be approved by God but slandered by the wicked.

God told us not to fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults. For the reproach is from the wicked, not from God. We are approved by God and the spirits of the righteous but reproached by the wicked. This is an evidence that we have all the qualifications for the great and the righteous and that we follow the way of truth. God watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish-this is God’s will.

‘Ministers of the new covenant’ approved by God

Who approves us? That is important. Those approved by God are in Zion the city of God’s appointed feasts; they follow the Lamb wherever He goes and become united with each other and take delight in doing the will of God.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Tim. 2:15

We are approved and called by God to be His workers.

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant-not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Cor. 3:5-6

Now, we are keeping and proclaiming the decrees and laws of the new covenant. Those approved by God are the ministers of the new covenant. Most of today’s churches do not keep the new covenant. They are far from God’s decrees and laws; they call, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but they deny Him by their actions.

They are against the truth, just as the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were against Jesus 2,000 years ago, saying, “You, a mere man, claim to be God,” “He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect.” We don’t need to fear the reproach of those without God’s approval or be terrified by their insults. Though they regard us as heretics, God approves us. Jesus and the apostles who followed Him-they all entered the kingdom of heaven. What is important is God’s approval, not men’s.

When we understand that, we can walk in the way of faith with joy. We are greatly blessed, for God has approved us but the wicked speak ill of us.

The new covenant is the testimony of God

God shows us what His testimony is as follows:

We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. … And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:9-13

God has said that when we have Jesus in us, we have eternal life. And He has showed us the way to remain in Jesus.

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.” John 6:53-57

Jesus has promised that His flesh is the Passover bread and His blood the Passover wine. So, if anyone does not eat the Passover bread and drink its wine, though he claims to be a Christian, he cannot be approved by God (Matt. 7:21~23). Christian faith is the belief in God’s promise. Jesus has promised that He will give eternal life to those who celebrate the Passover of the new covenant, and that He will remain in them. So, no one can have Jesus in him unless he celebrates the Passover. From this, we can see that God approves those who keep the new covenant-the saints of the Church of God.

Those who are redeemed from the earth in the last days are the people who are with the Lamb in Zion, the city of God’s appointed feasts. They are the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus (Rev. 14:1~3, 12). God approves and saves them.

God’s word is the criterion of everything

We should judge everything on the basis of God’s word, not the wicked’s.

When there are divided opinions at home, or when we confer with our brothers and sisters on a matter to make a decision in Zion, we must make God’s word become the criterion for such a matter and settle it according to God’s will.

Then it will surely bring us a good result. For God leads us in His truth and teaches us, so that we may have all the good-eternal life, everlasting joy, peace, …

Putting aside our thoughts, let’s follow God’s teachings and make only God’s word become the criterion for distinguishing between truth and falsehood.

A man who is approved by the righteous but slandered by the wicked-he is really a righteous person. Taking this fact to heart, let’s always pay attention to God’s word and judgment; let’s follow the truth only, not minding what the wicked say about us. There are still many souls not knowing the truth. In the year 2002, let’s all pull together to lead them to Zion by making them distinguish truth from falsehood.