Now the young adults like the dew of the dawn are arising and coming to willingly devote themselves to God. I earnestly hope that they bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit abundantly with their youthful ambitions and burning faith. I also desire that all the members of Zion—female adults, male adults, youth students, children and senior adults, who display God’s glory, receive the blessing of bearing much good fruit.
We’ve gone through a lot of changes before and after meeting God. Now, let’s take some time to reflect on how much we have changed since we met God and what the differences are in our lives before and after meeting God, by reviewing the words of the Bible.
Before we met God, we were sinners living as slaves to death. The Bible likens us, who have been born again into eternal life after meeting God, to the “grafted branches.”
If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree! Ro 11:16-24
In terms of botany, “grafting” means attaching part of one plant to the root or stem of another plant so that the two grow together as one. A branch that is grafted into another tree loses its original identity and becomes part of the organism to which it has been joined.
The Bible likens our relationship with God to a tree and its branches, and emphasizes that we can do nothing apart from God (Jn 15:1-5). Especially, the book of Romans portrays our organic union with God by speaking of grafting. This reminds us that we should throw off our old nature as sinners and change to resemble God’s nature.
As for the same kind of species, the better quality species are described by an additional term “true,” but the bad ones by “wild.” It is the same with an olive tree. There are two kinds of olive trees: a true olive tree of good quality, and a wild olive tree of bad quality. We, the branches of the wild olive tree, are grafted into God, the true olive tree. Since we cannot return to the eternal kingdom of heaven with our original identity, we have been grafted into God and reborn into eternal life.
The well-grafted branches resemble the nature of the true olive tree. Supplied with sap and good nutriment from the true olive tree, the shape of the fruits becomes better and they become strong enough to defend themselves against insects and diseases.
Before we met God, we lived simple lives, having only a limited time to live. If we didn’t meet God, we would live without any hope, get older gradually while working so hard to make a living, and end our lives after lamenting the vanity and emptiness of life in the face of impending death.
Our lives have totally changed since we met God. Before meeting God, we set our minds on secular things, but everything changed after we met God. We are now called differently than before, aren’t we? Previously we had no title, but since we met God we’ve received the titles “gospel workers” and “Christians,” and even the honorable title of “Elohists.” God has prepared much greater blessings for us in heaven.
“Only hold on to what you have until I come. To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—‘He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Rev 2:25-29
If we just hoped for earthly things such as running a business and having our own house on this earth before we met God, now we’ve come to have a much greater hope beyond comparison after meeting God. It is the hope for heaven; we have a desire to become a royal priesthood to rule over the nations in the kingdom of heaven. God has granted us a wider view so that we can see the whole universe.
Those who are ambitious on this earth dream of becoming a CEO of a company or President of a country. However, even if they acquire such a position after all their efforts throughout their lives, they cannot hold it for a long time, nor can they enjoy the pleasure and peace that they’ve expected. Outwardly it seems to be splendid, but in actuality it is accompanied by many hardships.
The authority of the kingdom of heaven is basically different in quality from the authority of the earth. The kingdom of heaven, where we who have met God are going to, is an eternal world where there is no pain or sorrow—where a new joy is created every day. God has promised to give us authority over the nations in the beautiful and eternal kingdom of heaven. God never lies. Although people in the world do not recognize us and we may seem very weak to them, everything will be so different when we go to the kingdom of heaven.
If we want to enter such a glorious kingdom of God, we need to give up our original identity as the branches of the wild olive tree. The Bible calls it “rebirth” to remove our nature as sinners. “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (Jn 3:3). By saying this Jesus meant that we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven unless we are reborn as God’s true children who have the divine nature after giving up our original nature as the branches of the wild olive tree.
We, who have met Elohim, are being changed from the wild olive branches into the branches of the true olive tree. Instead of putting our hope in earthly things, we should have great hope for heaven. God has promised to give us authority over the nations just as He reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords in the kingdom of God. Cherishing this promise of God deep within our hearts, we should run straight towards the goals above.
Peter, before he met God, was merely a fisherman who caught fish for a living. He lived an aimless life, working every day for himself rather than for the benefit of others. However, after he met Christ, there were a lot of changes in his life.
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. Mt 4:17-20
Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours . . . His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Pe 1:1-3
Peter’s life after he met Jesus was totally different from his life before he met Jesus. His title changed from a “fisherman” to an “apostle.” Before meeting God, he was only worried about how much fish he would catch each day. After meeting God, however, he thought about how many people he would have to lead into salvation. He lived a life of joy every day, having hope in God’s promises and wishing to join the “royal priesthood” (1 Pe 2:9). Even though his body sometimes felt tired and exhausted, he had hope.
It was not only Peter who changed. Apostle Paul also became a totally different person after he met God. Just as the apostles changed so much, we’ve also gone through a lot of changes. Before we met God, we were the wild olive branches, but after we met God we’ve been grafted into the true olive tree and become part of it. So, we need to have our dreams and future with the true olive tree; God’s hope should be our hope, and God’s desire should be our desire.
It is the salvation of all human beings that God, the true olive tree, has always desired. The Bible says that the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost (Lk 19:10), and that the purpose of His second coming to this earth is also to save the world (Heb 9:28). So, we should try our hardest to save the whole world. Then we can be said to have received the nature of the true olive tree.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” Mk 1:35-38
Christ had hope and concern for the task of saving the world. For this, He used to pray early in the morning, and never stopped preaching the gospel. The enthusiasm of God, who decided to save the world and put on flesh, has been transplanted into our hearts, so we are now making our best efforts to carry out the gospel work in our own mission field, aren’t we?
If we lived for worldly things before we met God, we should now proceed toward the everlasting kingdom of heaven since we have met God. Studying God’s word every day, we should change ourselves in a manner pleasing to God, so that we can fully become assimilated into God. We need to remove our sinful dispositions one after another and accept the nature of God, letting God’s thoughts become our thoughts, God’s joy our joy, and God’s desire our desire. Then God will remain in us, and we in Him.
We must not go back to the way we used to be before we met God. We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved (Heb 10:38-39); we have been born again since we met God.
God has led us to Him and given us the laws of the new covenant—the Sabbath, the Passover, etc. Telling us to keep His covenant and obey His commandments, God has asked us to change everything about us into that of Him. He has told us to do so in order to redeem us and not to oppress or burden us; for we, the wild olive branches grafted into the true olive tree, will decay and die in the end unless we receive the nature of the true olive tree. Since we are grafted into the true olive tree, we should be fully supplied with sap from the root of the true olive tree and possess the nature of the tree.
Jesus said, “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). If we turn away from the teachings of God, it is like a fish leaves the water and like the branches grafted into the true olive tree are cut off from the tree.
Romans 11 likens us, who remain in God, to the wild olive branches grafted into the true olive tree. Some other verses show that we are in the process of putting off our old self and putting on the new self.
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Eph 4:17-24
The above verses state that we must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. We are to live a different life than that of the Gentiles. Satan makes all kinds of crafty schemes to plant the Gentiles’s hope and desire in our hearts. However, if we give in to the temptation of Satan and become assimilated into the world, we go against God’s will and become cut off from the true olive tree.
Everything about us, including our nature, thoughts, and lifestyle, should be changed. Our “old self” mentioned in the book of Ephesians means our original nature as the wild olive branches. When we remove our old self, we can become one with the true olive tree, as part of it.
The Bible clearly tells us what pleases God, the true olive tree. We should all be changed and please God by devoting ourselves to preaching the gospel, obeying God’s will willingly, loving God’s commandments, respecting and loving everything that belongs to God, and so on.
It is said that parents like the child who more closely resembles them. We must resemble God in full. Since God is pleased with the salvation of all human beings, we should also be pleased with their salvation and preach the gospel diligently, so that we can lead all mankind to the kingdom of heaven. With this spirit of faith, we must become one with God.
Now, many of our brothers and sisters in Zion throughout the world preach the gospel of God joyfully despite the scorching heat. They are all beautiful, resembling God. Until the day when the glory of Father and Mother resounds throughout the whole earth and the universe, let us put off our old self and put on the new self, so that our original nature as the wild olive branches can be changed into the nature of the true olive tree. Then we can be said to have been reborn and changed. I earnestly hope that you all bear much good fruit and receive the abundant blessings of the Holy Spirit, so that you will become a royal priesthood to rule over the nations in the kingdom of God.