If we look at every aspect of the lives of the forefathers of faith recorded in the Bible, who were loved by God and received salvation, we can find out that they all had one thing in common: They always stayed close to God’s word and regarded His word as absolute. Like them, we, too, should live close to the Word in order to enter the eternal heavenly kingdom.
Man is more likely to be affected by those who are close to him. If anyone stays near an air conditioner, cool air is conveyed to him, and if he stays near a heater, warm air is delivered to him. In the same way, if one comes near to God, the overflowing energy of life from God is conveyed to him, isn’t it? A person who does not draw near to God but is absorbed in his own thoughts can never feel the power of the Holy Spirit from God.
We, the people of Zion, should always stay close to God, who pours out the latter rain of the Holy Spirit abundantly upon all thirsty souls around the world. For this, we need to keep close to God’s word and obey it all the time.
God says whoever wants to take part in the kingdom of heaven must rely absolutely on the Word.
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. Rev 22:17-19
Our heavenly Father and Mother teach us, Their children, to follow the Word without adding to or subtracting from the Word. They want us to live close to the Word because it brings life, salvation and eternal joy.
There are many people in the world who love money, honor, power and secular pleasure. However, considering the past history, we can see that most of the people who loved those worldly things ultimately met a tragic end.
In one of Jesus’ parables, the prodigal son who pursued worldly pleasures left his father’s home and went to a country far from home, where he suffered much. As he went through all kinds of difficulties, he came to realize why he was placed in such a miserable situation. All his misfortune began when stayed far away from his father and his home. So, he shook things off and returned home to his father (Lk 15:11-24).
The closer he came to his home, the nearer he drew to happiness. Just as the prodigal son could feel his father’s love and enjoy pleasure and happiness to the fullest when he came back home to his father, so can we enjoy the eternal joy and happiness given by God as we come closer to God’s word.
Through the life of Noah, among the forefathers of faith recorded in the Bible, let’s confirm that God provides us with every blessing in abundance when we live close to the Word.
So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark-you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Ge 6:14-19
God told Noah to build an ark before He judged the world by water. Noah always stayed close to God, so he was able to listen to the words of God.
In those days, there were so many people on the earth, but it was only Noah who lived close to God. While other people stayed far away from God and were finally destroyed because of their wickedness, Noah always drew near to God and lived by His word, so that he was given the opportunity to build an ark to save himself, his family, and pairs of all kinds of animals as well.
At the time of the Exodus, too, most people kept away from God, and only a few people lived close to God’s word, as did Noah. Let’s think of the twelve spies. When they returned from exploring the land of Canaan, where they saw the Canaanites of great size, ten of them gave in to a sense of defeat and said, “All the people we saw there are of great size. We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them,” but Joshua and Caleb said, “We will swallow them up.” Joshua and Caleb were able to shout confidently like that because they always stayed close to God.
. . . They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. … All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” . . . Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “. . . If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. …” Nu 13:25-14:9
Joshua and Caleb were always close to God, so they could feel the scent of God. That’s why they were able to have a strong faith in God, always thinking, ‘God is guiding us even at this moment.’ Contrary to them, the other ten spies lived far away from God, so they were not able to feel the aroma of God and failed to realize the existence of God. So, even though God promised them that He would give them Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey, they didn’t regard His word as absolute.
Once God said He would give them Canaan, they should have believed God’s word and proceeded forward. However, whenever they faced obstacles midway, they gave themselves up to despair; there were many times when they fell away from the faith, which they had possessed, during their journey through the desert. In the end, unfortunately, none of them were able to enter the land of Canaan, except Joshua and Caleb, because they didn’t come near to God.
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. … I heard you say: In this desert your bodies will fall-every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.” Nu 14:26-30
The Israelites’ journey to Canaan the promised land through the desert represents our journey of faith towards Heaven. Taking a lesson from the past history, we must regard every word of God as absolute and respect it. The kingdom of heaven is the place where only those who draw near to God and trust God’s word absolutely can enter.
Let’s get closer to God and adhere more closely to His word. The closer we come to God, the stronger fragrance of God we can feel. If anyone does not feel the scent of God, he should realize that he is now far way from God and come closer to God, like the prodigal son on his way back home.
Let us live by the Word. The words of the Bible cannot be fulfilled if we just read them. We need to cherish every single verse in our hearts and put it into practice. If we live close to the Word, we will be able to understand the profound meaning of every word of God and experience overflowing joy and blessings.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does. Jas 1:22-25
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? . . . You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. … As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. Jas 2:14-26
The Bible says that faith without deeds is useless and dead. If we listen to God’s word and also put it into practice, we can live close to the Word and our faith can be made complete. Noah, who built the ark, and Abraham, who was willing to sacrifice his one and only son, Isaac, as a burnt offering, didn’t only listen to God’s word, but they also put it into practice. That’s why they were considered righteous and blessed as well. Living close to God’s word means putting His word into practice.
When we live close to the Word by putting into practice what God has said, no matter how small it is, we can produce gracious fruits. Without deeds, we can gain nothing. Keeping this fact in mind, let’s think about the mission of preaching, which we must put above everything else and consider sacred.
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-with great patience and careful instruction. … keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. … I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Ti 4:2-8
If we want to live close to the above words, we need to put them into practice. Not merely with words, thoughts and resolution, but with action, we have to preach the Word. This is the wisest way to live close to God’s word.
Apostle Paul put the words into practice. Although he received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one five times and suffered many disadvantages, he didn’t fear or hesitate to preach the Word. Since he lived so close to God’s word, he was able to bear much fruit wherever he sowed the seed of the gospel, and at the end of his life mission on this earth, he was confident that there was in store for him the crown of righteousness.
We, too, should live close to God’s word, preaching the Word with boldness every day. If we do so, we will be clothed with the power of the Holy Spirit and bear gracious fruits given by God without fail.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. … Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. … Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Eph 6:10-20
Now, we, the messengers of God, go out into the world, being armed with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word. God sends us to preach the impending judgment and also the good news of salvation to the world, on behalf of Him. So, it is our duty to tell the message of God to all people around the world who have not yet heard it.
For this, the movement to save 180 million souls is being performed this year. We ourselves should do this mission, instead of thinking, ‘Someone else will do it if I do not.’ If all of us participate in saving the world, the work of salvation will be accomplished soon. The plan for saving the whole world will end up just a plan if each and every one of us does not carry it out.
God gives His blessings to those who respond to the trumpet of a prophecy and take action, not to those who just stay silent, doing nothing. If we follow the Word more closely and preach God’s message boldly like Peter and shout it out loud like Jonah, standing firm in faith, we can lead three thousand or one hundred and twenty thousand people to repentance in a day (see Ac 2:38-41; Jnh 3:1-10; 4:11). I earnestly hope all our brothers and sisters in Zion will be great prophets like Peter and Jonah and lead all people around the world to salvation, living a gracious life close to the Word every day.