The Foxes Have Holes

 

51 When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But He turned and rebuked them, [and said, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."] And they went on to another village.

57 As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, "I will follow You wherever You go." And Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." And He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father." But He said to him, "Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God." Another also said, "I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home." But Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

 

To Be a Man of Power

Living in faith, we should have plans, judgments and appraisals, and also we should have wishes and determinations, and we should consolidate the determinations firmly.

 

The two disciples, James and John, said to Jesus, "Do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume these Samaritans who will not receive You and take offense at You?" In early days these disciples used to discount the words of Jesus doubting what Jesus said to come true. Now we can see that they had been following Jesus for three years, and they had become faithful enough to believe and to be convinced that anything was possible that was executed following the word of the Lord. They believed that the Samaritans would be destroyed if the Lord said, "Yes, I want you to command fire to come down to consume them."

 

The disciples believed like the Israelites leaving Egypt who believed that everything would come true if they followed what God said. Then the Lord turned and rebuked, "You should not have such a thought or wish," and they went on to another place to Jerusalem.

 

We have indeed great authority inside us since we have been clothed with the authority of the covenant and the merits of vicarious redemption. It is because we have wickedness in ourselves and we have not perfected love that the power is not realized in us. The power of God that is not realized is what God dictates, since God is afraid that we will handle His power in indiscretion.

 

When Peter the apostle, after the ascension of Jesus, said to Ananias and his wife Sapphira, "You have put the Spirit of the Lord to the test, and will be duly recompensed," the couple each immediately died. Later in an occasion associated with Philip in Acts 8, however, Peter said, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money," and he amended immediately to prevent it from happening, "Repent and pray, so that it may not come upon you." Then Simon begged Peter for praying to the Lord and was exempted.

 

What determines whether men of God can assume a position of power so that God hearkens to them or not? We are all legally eligible to assume a position of power. God will grant us any power if we use it to save man and to render God glory. Or though having been offered such position and post, we may still conceal the wickedness of self-centeredness inside ourselves and commit wrong to use the power of God out of lusts, ending in a consequence of death. That is why God restricts His power to be used selectively.

 

The power of God will accompany us in proportion to our degree of perfection of love. It depends gradually on our sanctification that what we utter is accompanied and answered for by the power of God.

 

Again we are all in a position that entitles us to succeed and win, and since the words of the Old and New Testaments are indicating the same truth, we must be successful and victorious as long as we perform according to the Scripture. But the success and victory are delayed by God, for fear we should become ignorant and arrogant to stumble greatly if the success and victory should ever come to us. Therefore we must remove wickedness out of ourselves to become a man of power, and we must become humble to be helped to succeed or win through God.

 

Those who thought that they had won the battle of the shrine worship during the last period of Japanese occupation because they were better than others, many of them later suffered irreparable losses because of the very success.

 

As Paul says, "By the grace of the Lord I am what I am, not by anything of mine," we should be humble acknowledging that we and all others are alike under the same horizon. Being humble means knowing oneself correctly and doing everything as fitting oneself; humility does not mean to underestimate what one has.

 

Even though we happen to lead a life in faith keeping the laws of God, the power of God cannot come to work in us and God cannot take hold of us to grant us success or victory because there must be something immature on our side. The sooner we repent, the easier it will be for God to take hold of us to work through.

 

To Follow Jesus

One among those who followed Jesus said to Him, "I will follow You wherever You go." I wonder if the person who said it was aware of what he was saying. I am not sure whether he knew what he was saying or not. A man, as a means of revelation through whom the way of life is propagated, may or may not know what he is saying. We may suppose that, as the Bible writers were inspired to write the Bibles, they knew what they meant when they wrote them, but it is not so in many cases.

 

To follow the Lord here means to become a copy of the original, an ectype of the Lord, and an image of the Lord. The Lord is the original function, and we try to be a duplicate function, and the Lord is the original love and we want to be a duplicate love. We want to be like the original Lord. In other words, we want to become a disciple of Jesus. As He says, "I will grant him to sit down with Me on My throne if he overcomes," we want to take part in His victory by means of His victory.

 

To follow Jesus means that we want to be His disciples, we want to take after Him, we want to follow the example of Jesus, in character, utterances and deeds and thoughts, desire, and self. Then further we want to long, hope, aim, endeavor, and treat everything, as Jesus does.

 

Our Hope Is to Become Like Jesus

The person in the passage hoped for a very good thing. There is nothing better than to follow the Lord. It is to be clothed in the image of the Lord as it is said, "The Lord is the image of the invisible God. We are called to be clothed in the image of the Lord." He called us to make us become like Himself.

 

It is said in the Scripture, "You are to be perfect, holy, and clean as your heavenly Father is," and some think and interpret this passage as, "We cannot become like that. The reason that what cannot be attained is written is to nullify and condemn the human arrogance."

 

The Pelagianists were strict in life practicing the harmony of words and deeds to attain salvation. This passage is said to have been used to stop and condemn the Pelagianists, "Then are you perfect as God?" Many people interpreted this passage as a means to stop such strict people's mouths and humiliate them. Also we can find this view in many commentaries.

 

It is not so. It is not what the Lord intends to intimidate us with, but it means that we can indeed become like the Lord. We can become like God the Father. To become like God does not mean to become the God. We can become a duplicate of God. That is what God wishes, and that is also what we hope to be.

 

Our hope is to attain to the image of the Lord, so as to become a perfect man as the Lord, and to become perfect in deeds and in affairs as the Lord. Our hope is to achieve all things perfect, eternal, and unchangeable that belong to eternal life. It is not too arrogant a hope to pursue, and it is what the Lord allows us to pursue and it is what is really realized in us.

 

We have many things insufficient with respect to future, but whatever we have had with respect to past can be perfect. Much of whatever has been made is being achieved as perfect with respect to past.

 

Now that we have this extremely great hope, "With the Holy Spirit and the truth given to me, I will anyhow follow the Lord to be clothed with His works. I will be clothed with the Holy Spirit and the truth to become a perfect person, and I will be perfect in the functions of utterances, deeds, and thoughts in myself and in all the other aspects"; this is what the Lord is most pleased with. It is what the Lord is pleased with that we want to become such and we endeavor such, and we hope to be such. We must hope for that.

 

1. Only One Hope

One may misunderstand when we are saying that we must have only one hope, "I have a hope for every day, a hope planned for the next month, next year, and next three years. To have only one hope is too unreasonable for me and too remote from my living." Still we must have only one hope.

 

We must have only one hope, and then we can have hopes, in pieces and parts of hundreds or thousands, to achieve the sole hope. That is, we are to have numerous hopes, the secondary hopes, only to achieve the hope, the main hope, and we are to give up those secondary hopes in case they should contradict the main hope.

 

It can be compared to a high mountain. The mountain does not stand several-thousand-meter high immediately from the ground. It starts in plains of ground, to lower hills, to minor tops, and finally to the top. Our hope is like that.

 

With the main hope as our aim, we can have hopes to achieve the hope and to use for the hope―hopes in commerce, in business, in activities, in career, and others.

 

The main hope that we must cherish is of the only law that is unchangeable―the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the truth. The Inspiration is unfamiliar to men, but the truth has been revealed as laws in the Old and New Testaments. The laws in the Scripture are nothing but the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit which is in turn God, and our salvation is attained through the Inspiration and the truth. How do the Inspiration and the truth work in our salvation? The Inspiration and the truth have come to work the merits of blood of the Lord.

 

The Inspiration and the truth have now manifested to be working the merits of blood of the Lord; the Inspiration and the truth testify to us the merits of the vicarious redemption of Jesus to make us of the merits of the vicarious redemption, and to make us belong to Him as His members, as His temple, and as His workers. Thus the Inspiration and the truth work the vicarious redemption of Jesus to make us filled and substantiated with it more in our reality.

 

What should worry us is whether those numerous hopes of ours, the secondary hopes, exist for the main hope; or they may exist only to undermine the hope even though we regard them as otherwise.

 

How do we discern the secondary hopes? The sole hope is conceived of the blood of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the truth. Then we should see if those secondary hopes are achieved both in accordance with the truth, that is, the words of the Old and New Testaments externally, and in accordance with the Inspiration and the truth internally. When the secondary hopes are achieved as the merits of blood of the vicarious redemption of Jesus become gradually realized through the testimony of the truth and the Holy Spirit, the main hope has taken in the secondary hopes to grow. The secondary hopes are to be fertilizer, food, and stepping stone of the main hope.

 

We must have all the other hopes on behalf of this main hope, and all the other accessory hopes are to be used only to make the main hope successful and growing. The accessory hopes are not to exist for any other purposes than this.

 

Being aware about the main hope, we can study, do business, pursue a carrier in society, and be active in various areas of ours, as much as is deemed necessary, only in the hope. Then in every activity of ours in which we endeavor for the main hope we should ask ourselves, "Why am I pursuing this money? Am I interested in money? No. Even though I seem to be hoping for this money, I am endeavoring for this money to work the salvation that the only Jesus of mine provided me with, so that I can use this money to work to attain my salvation and my family's salvation."

 

Everyone says that they are pursuing everything for salvation, but how can we be sure whether their hope is true or false? We know the answer clearly. To achieve a hope is subject to the three laws―the truth, the Inspiration, and the merits of blood of the Lord. When a hope is pursued not contradicting the three prerequisites but being in accordance with the three, then the hope will be a basis and fertilizer for the main hope, and will not be used for any other purpose. When a hope is realized through the truth, the Inspiration, and the merits of blood of the Lord―a hope regarding a career, a hope of knowledge, a material hope, or a hope in glory and power―it will be used for no other purpose. What is achieved satisfying the three requirements will not be used by the world however hard the world may crave, love, and want it. A knowledge attained through the truth, the Inspiration, and the merits of blood of the Lord cannot be used, say, by communists however greedily they may desire it. The knowledge cannot be used in committing evil. Such knowledge, such riches, and such business can only be suitably used in realizing the main hope, and in nothing else.

 

Only One Love

We ought to have only one hope, and we ought to have only one love. Only one love for the Lord.

 

There are various kinds of love in the world as much as is deemed to be adequate and we should have love as much as adequate. While we are to love the Lord only, we are also to love all. We are to love all the creation too. Should we give up our love for others if we should love the Lord only? We are to love all to love the Lord. We can love all to love the Lord, and we can love all, being ready to love the Lord, "I should love this so that the love for the Lord may result." To love all others can be a means to love the Lord.

 

Whatever we love, we love it because we need it to love the Lord. It happens that we cannot but love something if we are to love the Lord. If we love something to love the Lord, then we happen to love the Lord vicariously. We will find that we cannot but love something when we have loved the Lord. We cannot but love this enemy after we have loved the Lord. Once we have loved the Lord, we will find that we must love that person even though it is preferred that we should leave him.

 

Any love of ours toward any others is for the love toward the Lord. We ought to love anything because we love the Lord.

 

2. Precautions in the Sole Hope: No Selfishness

Now we want to achieve this great hope. Then when the Lord was offered, "I will follow You," the Lord answered, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." One may wonder why the Lord replied thus when one wanted to follow Him.

 

Man fell in the garden of Eden and the human fall caused all the creation to be under a curse. After the fall, all in the world, great and small, have come to exist for themselves, to exalt themselves, to protect themselves, to strengthen themselves, and to grow themselves. Even insects exist for themselves. Jesus says, however, that He has done nothing for Himself. 'Nowhere to lay His head' means extreme poverty of possessing nothing. It is the same as in Korean saying, "No piece of ground to put awl in," or "No possession, not even a dust."

 

Why did Jesus say that? Man and all the creation after the fall are now all centered upon themselves and are all for themselves. Then Jesus says, "It is only for your success that you are saying that you will follow Me. You are the same as those who try to succeed in the world by studying, by becoming a politician, or by making money."

 

"You may have seen Me feed many people with five pieces of bread and two fish, raise men from the dead, and perform wonders and signs. You may have come to Me to learn how to perform such wonders and signs, as you have concluded that it will be the shortest and wisest way to succeed in the world. You are not supposed to follow Me if you have been motivated out of earthly hope."

 

"You must know one thing before you follow Me. There is nothing that I have done for Myself, not a hair. There is nothing that you can do if you come to Me to do anything for yourself. Beware of this first before you follow Me." This is what Jesus says to him.

 

3. The Sole Hope and Our Reality

Few people will understand at first, but later we will gradually understand through the Holy Spirit that it is the greatest and best hope to follow the Lord. Also we will come to live in the world only to pursue that hope, whether we live long or short. Then we will have to know this―all realities of every sort will confront us.

 

When we are confronted by a reality, we are liable to judge and appraise it according to our criteria to conclude it to be either good or bad, but that assessment belongs to men living in the earth. In order to achieve this sole hope, we need the merits of blood of the Lord, the Holy Spirit, and the truth, but we are not yet fully aware of the immensity, greatness, honor, and difficulty of this hope.

 

How do we realize this sole hope? It is like what Elijah said to Elisha when Elisha asked a double portion of his spirit. He said to Elisha, "You have asked a hard thing," and told him how he could get what he had asked: "In order to realize this hope, you must repudiate all the hopes in the earth, and you must invest all things in the earth for this hope only."

 

We must invest all. The reality which we face exists for us to realize this hope, and the hope is to be realized only through this reality. Now even though we wish to realize this hope, we do not know what sort of reality we need to fulfil the hope.

 

We do not know how many sorts of reality we need, a thousand or ten thousand, but we should say to the Lord, "I do not know what kind of reality I need to achieve my hope, whether I should fall sick with tuberculosis or cancer, whether I should be an outcast in my community, whether I should be exalted in honor, or whether I should be imprisoned. Lord! I do not know what reality I should undergo, but I do know that it is You that provide me with my reality. Provide me with any reality that is needed to accomplish the sole hope of mine. Then I will utilize the reality without complaint or grumble to accomplish the sole hope once I have concluded that the reality is essential to realize the sole hope."

 

Then it will happen that either we utilize the reality to realize our sole hope or we are misused by the reality.

 

How do we deal with the reality which befalls us? First we should do as the Lord guides us and teaches us in the laws of words of the Scripture, and then gradually we should follow the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. As we deal with the reality according to what God bids us do, the reality will have become our meal and food. On the other hand, when we become swayed and passive to the reality, we will become the servant of the reality and the reality will be our master; our salvation will have broken.

 

We must notice here that we must give up all the earthly hopes and we must have the sole hope, or the heavenly hope. We must have only one hope of becoming a disciple of Jesus.

 

How do we handle the sole hope once we have taken hold of it, which is only the beginning? The sole hope is achieved only through the reality in life, one by one. The realization of the hope is the realization of perfect character, functions, and deeds; so the realization cannot be processed without activities in realities. The Lord will arrange the realities to be occasioned in order upon us, and we should be convinced that our salvation will not be attained without these realities, not even one, and then we will take in the reality as food for our salvation, and our salvation will be achieved. But the salvation will fail if we are consumed by realities.

 

What is it to be consumed by realities? We will be consumed when we become passive to realities to yield to them. When we are overcome by realities, we become enslaved by them, a slave of wickedness and the evil spirit. Then our salvation has been ruined. When we face a reality, we must deal with it as God commands us; then we will consume it as food, utilizing it for our salvation. That is why it is expressed as 'our prey.'

 

We should remember these three things in following the Lord firmly and we should not yield. We should pursue all the other hopes only to pursue the sole hope. We have only one hope as our main hope; there is no second main hope, or no third main hope.

 

Again we may hope for many things. For instance, we may hope for money, but only for the salvation, and the money should be given up the moment it is deemed to be detrimental to the salvation. For instance, it may happen that a church should be set up. "I need this amount of money to contribute to acquiring the church ground and to constructing the church building." All other wishes are to fulfil the sole hope, and we should not carry any other, separate, and different hope besides this sole hope.

 

We must remember these three in order to achieve the sole hope―we should be willing to accept any reality that is necessary in achieving the hope. Any reality. We should consider it all joy and rejoice, whatever reality befalls us.

 

Why should we rejoice in the reality, whatever it may be? Because we can fulfil the great hope. We should pray God so that we may understand to accept the present reality when it is not readily comprehensible, for instance, we are being imprisoned and being sentenced to death, or our family is being wrecked. Even though we are confronted by various difficult realities, we should not be affected to commit sin, to have the sole salvation hurt and damaged and undermined. We must only obey the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the truth to work the sole salvation, and then the difficult realities will soon give us joy and we will sing of victory.

 

Father's Burial

Now Jesus said to another, "Follow Me," but he answered and Jesus said as following, "'Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.' But He said to him, 'Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.'"

 

We know that the fifth Commandment dictates that children serve parents. Children can serve parents tomorrow if they have no opportunity to serve them today, but now that one's father is dead, to bury his father is the last opportunity to perform filial piety. There will be no opportunity to serve his father once he misses his father's funeral.

 

According to the Scripture, in Christianity one is commanded to serve God first and then ancestors. Both the first and the fifth Commandments are about 'more than whom.' Even though the fifth Commandment precedes other five commandments concerning mankind, we see here that it is not allowed to bury one's dead parent, before doing something else specific. We should have good understanding regarding this passage.

 

What we are discussing is about following the Lord. To follow the Lord means to form the kingdom of heaven, to become a disciple of the Lord, and to become one like the Lord. What is especially indicated is that the step to follow Him should not be altered once we start taking the step.

 

The 'first' in the passage means that the man had already set aside his determination to follow the Lord, or the salvation, and asked of Jesus to let him go and bury his father. The Lord did not grant this.

 

In the endeavor for our salvation, we, the regenerate, should have nothing preferred to the salvation, then the salvation being the second in priority. Also even though the salvation is the top priority, it should not be discontinued on the way. It is neither to be discontinued nor to be altered. The salvation is neither to be discontinued nor to be altered. This passage especially teaches our persistency in pursuing salvation.

 

Father's Funeral and Farewell to Family

People asked Jesus to permit them to say good-bye to their family and to bury their dead parent first. Our lives in the world can be grouped in two; one is life of gratitude and the other is life of responsibility. Man's life is all of these two lives.

 

Life of men, great and low, is all about living to perform duty and responsibility of their own and to acknowledge and return graces that they have received. There is no other aspect in life but these two.

 

It was not, however, of pungent fortuity for the person to be in the situation to be forced to ask of the Lord, "My father is now dead, so please permit me first to hold my father's funeral." In fact, his father's death had been predestinated before eternity as a means of revelation to us. It did not happen casually that his father died and the person said thus to Jesus. It is to teach us the way of truth of the salvation that God predestinated his father to die at that point of time.

 

These two are typical examples of gratitude for grace. There are many duties, such as for country or society, but the Scripture provides that the duty and responsibility for family are the greatest of all. The duty and responsibility for family are most valuable. Also when it comes to expressing gratitude, the one for parents is greater than any other, for country, teacher, or husband.

 

The people in the passage asked for opportunity to practice the gratitude for parents and the duty for family, the climaxes of gratitude and duty. The core aspects of entire human life, gratitude for grace and responsibility for family, are at issue now.

 

Allow the Dead to Bury Their Own Dead

To the man who wanted to go first to bury his father, Jesus said, "Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God." Here the dead are those who have not put on the merits of the vicarious redemption of Jesus. Men are all dead who have not put on the merits of the vicarious redemption of Jesus.

 

'Allow the dead to bury their own dead' means that what is pertaining to those, who have not had the merits of the vicarious redemption of Jesus and thus have nothing to do with the works, had better be performed by those of the same sort. Those who have not been clothed with the merits of the vicarious redemption of Jesus, those who have not been clothed with the remission of sins, the justification, and the reconciliation through the merits of the vicarious redemption of Jesus, those who have not been regenerated by the truth and the Holy Spirit, and those unregenerate who have not had the hope of the kingdom of heaven―either those who are not elect or those who are yet to believe in Jesus though being elect―they can lead a life doing gratefully this or that and dutifully this or that.

 

Once we are raised through Jesus Christ, however, we should do nothing but pay our gratitude only for the grace of the vicarious redemption of Jesus. Also as for our duties we can perform no other duty and responsibility but for the vicarious redemption of Jesus. We can do nothing but these.

 

Once we have started to follow Jesus, we cannot perform the two tasks at the same time―both following Jesus and being grateful and dutiful for the world. With this in our hands we cannot do that. We must not take it for granted that both can be worked out together. That should be worked out by those.

 

Those who have no connection to Jesus Christ through the merits of the vicarious redemption and the regeneration should do what pertains to those who have no connection to God. Also the affairs that have nothing to do with the vicarious redemption of Jesus should be undertaken by those who have nothing to do with the vicarious redemption of Jesus. Further what are concerned with those, who are not connected to God living without receiving new life and who are dead in trespasses and sins, should be done by the people who are already dead. Rather, we should go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of heaven. That is written here.

 

In retrospect we have many things to be grateful for, but we must do nothing to express our gratitude for anything but the vicarious redemption of the Lord. We must not thank anyone for anything first, setting aside the vicarious redemption of the Lord.

 

Suppose that the disciple here has read other Scriptures concerning the respect for parents, and asks Jesus, "Lord, I want to follow You. Now my parent is dead and I also want to bury my father. Do I have to bury first my father to follow You, or is it unnecessary to bury my father to follow You? What shall I do?" Then the Lord will answer like following:

 

"Yes. You can go and bury your parent, only to glorify God, to glorify the gospel, and to lead to God all the people belonging to the world. Also you can go and bury your parent, only to become the light of the world to show that you are indeed a disciple of the Lord and that a follower of the Lord does like that, so that those in the world may know that it is rightly done the way that you are doing in serving parents. Then you will be doing this or that to proclaim the gospel and the kingdom of heaven. You will also be doing this or that to become the light to people, and to enlighten them how to deal with parent's death."

 

He may further ask, "Then can I do this or that, while I delay following the Lord temporarily?" Then Jesus will not allow that.

 

Whether we do this or that, we do it to follow the Lord, to become a disciple of the Lord, and to work the salvation that the Lord has assigned to us. Part of our salvation will be worked in this affair and another part of our salvation will be worked in that affair; in fact, our salvation will be attained in all realities of ours. The Lord will also teach us clearly how to do and what to do in a reality in which we have our parents.

 

The person is saying that he will follow the salvation, but in fact he does not know about the salvation as we see that he wants first to go and bury his father. He thinks that, since the salvation has been already started, it can be delayed until he comes back later to work on it again, and the Lord says to him again, "This salvation, the construction of the kingdom of heaven, is not to be stopped and to be altered, but to be continued until your death. You will eat to work on this salvation, you will drink to work on this salvation, you will make friends to work on this salvation, and you will do business of this or that sort to work on this salvation. You cannot do anything else with this salvation laid aside."

 

We know that the fifth Commandment is the most important among the commandments of human relations, then how is it that it can be violated? The fifth Commandment is of course a most important one, but the grace of the vicarious redemption of the Lord is greater than that. Now that we have been given the grace of the vicarious redemption, the way to observe the fifth Commandment has now been changed. Gentiles will observe a fifth commandment for their parents or ancestors, but Christians should observe the fifth Commandment to obey the commandments of the Lord and to please the Lord. We observe the fifth Commandment all for the Lord, and we cannot say a word, take an action, and do a deed unless it is for the Lord.

 

We should do everything for the Lord, as we have been bought with a price for the great grace of the Lord. Whatever is not done for this purpose all belongs to death and destruction. Now we have come to belong to true life and the vicarious redemption of the Lord. We belong to the vicarious redemption, the truth, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and everything that we do can become eternalized and perfected. We have a law that perfects everything, and we should not return to the law of death to work death. We have this perfect law, and should not do what this law prohibits but only what this law allows. As we belong to this law now, we should be clothed with the power of this law to realize our hope according to this law. These are what we should do about our being grateful for the grace of the Lord. This passage makes it clear that we cannot do both this and that at the same time.

 

We know how much imperative it is to bury parents on their death, but the funeral cannot afford to cause the vicarious redemption of Jesus to be interfered with. It is sin that has every freedom to interfere with the vicarious redemption. It is sin and death that can interfere with the vicarious redemption and ruin the salvation. Then salvation has now become discontinued when sin and death are at work.

 

Suppose that we are building a tower, a special tower. It is special in that when we stop building the tower, it is demolished. Do not think that the tower will remain as it is, as high as it has been built up to now. In other words, if we want to rebuild it, we have to lay the foundation anew somewhere else and then build a new structure of tower on the foundation. The former tower was wasted and now useless. Of course the functions and experiences which we had acquired when we were building the old tower still remain for us to utilize in building a new tower on a new site, but we are not starting from where we stopped―in the middle of the old structure. We must start laying the new foundation. The salvation cannot be stopped and then restarted where it was stopped; it has to be started all over again.

 

It is expressed also in terms of the relationship between man and woman. "Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God and is an adulterer." When a woman commits adultery in wedlock, her relation to her husband is severed for the moment. When she joins her husband again, it will be a new marriage and a new union, and this new marriage is not a continuation of her first marriage. Her former marriage had been extinguished through divorce.

 

Everything is the same. A secular, inorganic affair is the same. Also when everything that belongs to life is stopped and discontinued, it is cancelled and finished. To resume it, we must work it out from the beginning; it cannot be restarted or extended from where it had ended.

 

We must not misunderstand that the salvation of the kingdom of heaven can be discretely continued, with what we do that has nothing to do with the salvation embedded here and there through time. It cannot be continued again once it is discontinued; it should be started anew and again.

 

Think about the attending of dawn service. We may skip attending the dawn service temporarily due to, say, illness, and our attendance―our salvation―is discontinued with no intention to stop attending it permanently on our part. This is not what we call 'discontinued salvation.' On the other hand, we may decide to stop attending the dawn service permanently on account of, say, business, and our attendance, or salvation, is discontinued as we have intended to stop attending the service. This salvation is now discontinued. Further suppose that, a day after we decide to stop attending the service, we change our mind and attend the service the next day. This new attending may be a new start; it cannot be a continuation of the salvation which existed before our decision not to attend the service.

 

Sometimes we fail to attend dawn services because of this or that reason even though we try hard. Still we can attend the services again without having to restart all over again; a failure that is due to our weakness can be worked out up to seventy times seven a day.

 

Lives of New Man and Old Man

All the lives of mankind in the world can be examined closely to be grouped in two: lives of gratitude and responsibility.

 

It is of death to be grateful for a grace given in the world, even though it is to express gratitude for a highest grace in the world. The man that expressed that gratitude inside us is now dead and new man lives inside us who has been regenerated through the vicarious redemption of Jesus. This new man cannot do the work that old man used to do. He cannot work death because he has been regenerated through the truth and the Holy Spirit. The death can be worked on only by the dead, and new man cannot work death.

 

We know now that the living cannot work death, and if death is ever worked, the dead work done cannot be of the living. The dead work has not been done by us, it is what old man―the evil spirit, evil nature, and evil habits―has done. You must know this clearly.

 

We have been regenerated through the truth and the Holy Spirit, and we are regenerate, new man. There are works that new man does and there are works that old man does, and now that we have become new man, we cannot do what old man does. Further if we do what old man does, it is not we that do it; it is old man that does it, that is, the evil spirit, evil nature, and evil habits. It is not what new man does.

 

Now that we have become new man, we can do everything as this new man. This new man that has been regenerated through the truth and the Holy Spirit can serve parents, love spouse, love society, love nation, work to earn money, pursue a good career, and work every other thing.

 

There is one thing that new man cannot do: he cannot do what belongs to old man. We must understand this first before we understand Christianity. People are unable to discern the boundaries because they do not know about this.

 

What if new man fails in what he is doing? We should not despair; we should rise again even if we fall seventy times seven a day.

 

We are to do the work of new man. Suppose that what we are doing is of old man, not of new man. It is not that new man is doing the work of old man. Then new man is out of work and old man is at work; the new man has been cast out by the body and heart of ours, and the old man in alliance with our body and heart is working. This is not what new man is doing. This is not the work of new man.

 

"Allow the dead to bury their own dead." 'The dead' means old man. Old man can do what belongs to himself, but we are not supposed to do what belongs to old man. We may feel as if it were we that are doing what belongs to old man, but in fact it is old man that is doing what belongs to himself. New man cannot do it.

 

It is new man only that can be a disciple of Jesus; old man cannot become a disciple of Jesus. To become a disciple of Jesus is to grow gradually as a seed is sown and grows. It does not mean to add several things to form a whole, but it is that new man grows who has been regenerated through the truth and the Holy Spirit. It is to grow, not to collect to form a comprehensive thing.

 

We must remember that new man cannot work together with old man; then we will be able to distinguish old man from new man―"This is what old man has done, and that is what new man has done."

 

Then will new man have to forsake all the world? No. New man will serve parents better, new man will bury parents better, new man will lead family life better, new man will love spouse better, new man will behave in society better, and new man will do better in everything.

 

Why? Whatever is done by new man becomes eternal. All can become eternal, not a hair missing, that are done through the truth and the Holy Spirit. Love for spouse can be eternal when done by new man, while the same love done by old man is to perish for sure. The more the love for spouse done by old man there is now, the more bicker and strife there will be then. What has been done by new man will not cease to exist for ever.

 

New man can live only while we live in this material world called the universe, in the soul and the body with senses of knowledge, affection, and justice. We should be able to understand that we can lead only the life of new man and that we cannot live the life of old man. We should test ourselves to see if we are living as old man, or as new man. A believer in Jesus should not live a life of old man as if it were what a believer in Jesus should live.

 

A believer in Jesus may be engaged in various works externally, and all who do not have eyes to see may say that both believers in Jesus and unbelievers do the same, and that both those who are faithful and those who are not do the same. Nonetheless Jesus clearly says, "There will be two in one bed, there will be two men in the field, and there will be two women grinding at the mill, and one will be taken and the other will be left." One does the same thing as new man and the other does the same thing as old man, and so one reaps eternal life and the other reaps corruption.

 

It is said, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life."

 

We live the exactly same lives; the one living through the Holy Spirit reaps eternal life but the one living through flesh as his ruler reaps corruption. We should remember this.

 

The One Putting His Hand to the Plow and Looking Back

Second, in verse 61, "Another also said, 'I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.' But Jesus said to him, 'No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.'"

 

To be responsible for family is the most important in one's responsibilities for household, and now that the man is to leave his family, to say good-bye to his family will be final of the responsibility for his family, but Jesus does not allow this.

 

We should ask Jesus, "I will follow You. What should I do to my family to follow You?" Then He will teach us what duty and responsibility we should perform as a follower of the Lord. He will teach us the law of life leading nothing to corruption and everything to eternity.

 

"No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." The plow is what one puts his hand to and goes forward. What does it mean to go forward? Some say that the plow means a repentance movement, but it does not mean that. 'To go forward' reveals the nature of the kingdom of heaven. It is of the attribute of the kingdom of heaven that whatever has been started is to proceed forward only, not backward, and not to deviate sideways. It is said in Ezekiel 1 that it moves forward only without turning. It moves only forward.

 

Once we have started following the Lord, we must live through new man who is regenerated since we have been regenerated through the truth and the Holy Spirit. We are not allowed to return to the life of old man from that of new man. Once we return to old man, any life that we lead will be a fallen life of old man, and there will be no life of new man.

 

We are always the Lord's in the world since we have been bought with a price for the merits of the vicarious redemption of the cross of the Lord. If we live a life as if we were not the Lord's, we are casting out the Lord at our own will. One clothed with the vicarious redemption cannot do this.

 

One who is clothed with the vicarious redemption has become the Lord's, one who is clothed with the vicarious redemption has become the temple of the Lord, one who is clothed with the vicarious redemption has become a member of the Lord, and one who is clothed with the vicarious redemption has become the body of the Lord. One who is clothed with the vicarious redemption has become the people of the Lord, the nation of the Lord, the priest of the Lord, the prophet of the Lord, and the king of the Lord. He cannot look back.

 

We cannot look back in our life in faith. We must not mistake what we do in other ways for a life in faith. That life is what we live after we have deserted the life in faith―life of the devil, old man, and hell. That is not part of the life in faith in Jesus. There is no retrogression or deviation on this or that in the life in faith in Jesus.

 

We will be new man when the Holy Spirit, the truth, and the regenerate soul rule our body and heart living inside us, and we will be used as tools of new man when we present our body and heart to our soul, the Holy Spirit, and the truth, to become instruments of righteousness. However, all the functions of our body and heart have freedom to reject new man, the Holy Spirit, the truth, and the regenerate soul. Our body and heart have a limited freedom to reject those, and they cannot but be cast out when forced by our body and heart.

 

We may live for, say, one or two years full of the Holy Spirit, and then when our heart quenches the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to drive Him out, to drive out the truth, and to drive out Jesus the Lord of the vicarious redemption, those are all driven out. God Almighty has to be cast out.

 

How is it that they are driven out? The freedom that has been given to us is limited, but we would be a brute if we were rid completely of this freedom. Our salvation is to be gradually attained organically, without the freedom being denied, to make us competent children of God.

 

We may receive God again upon inspiration after we drive Him out. "I knock at the door, and I will come in to him and will dine with him and he with Me." To eat means to work through with. The Holy Spirit, the truth, and the regenerate soul will come into us when we accept them, and will take hold of our body and heart to work through the will of God toward us; we too can work the will of God for us using our own body and heart. This is what we say that He eats with us and we eat with Him.

 

We must distinguish new man and old man, and we must understand clearly that we live either new man's life or old man's life. We cannot live both new man's life and old man's life at the same time.

 

While we are living new man's life, our old man's life does not exist. After we live new man's life for, say, a year, our body and heart may betray the Holy Spirit, the truth, and the regenerate soul to fall again to live in sin, and this will not be a life in faith. It is not the living of eternal life but of the devil, of old man, and of destruction.

 

Then what happens to new man? The Holy Spirit and the regenerate soul remain groaning, and what has been sanctified as the function inside our body and heart is dragged by the power against its will to commit sin until it has overcome and opposed the power.

 

We will have yearned for the world until we become old enough near death, less interested in the world, and more interested in the kingdom of heaven, when we witness new man to appear in power and old man to wither. There has been no man that has taken no offence at old man when he died.

 

New man will appear again now to force old man to leave, but it will be too late since we will have exhausted the time to grow so that we will have already been harmed by the second death, and we will have already sold out our functions in our body and heart. Now all will be dead and we will be raised from the dead, with external appearances, and as for functions some will resurrect with functions of an infant and some will resurrect with functions of a strong man capable of reigning heaven and earth.

 

That is why Paul says, "I want to know the power of His resurrection." To know the power means to participate in the power, and to participate in the power means to be in the afflictions of Jesus in which the power of His resurrection is acquired―His realities. We must not hesitate to follow His afflictions and realities to earn the power of His resurrection.

 

As the Lord laid hold of what He aimed to accomplish, Paul wants to do the same. As the Lord overcame and sat down with His Father on His throne, Paul wants to do the same. This is what Paul says, "I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus."

 

It is possible for us to reject new man abandoning the life of new man to live the life of old man, but here we should understand that new man's life excludes the old man's life; the two lives cannot co-exist with each other.