(Genesis 17:5) Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
Dear brothers and sisters, I am so glad to meet year 2011 with all of you together. I’d like to praise and glorify God that we can be joyful together with the Lord.
Last week I was in Daeduk Retreat Center for the GoodNews Corps training, and we read the book of Acts for the training. We read chapter 8, 9, and 10, and I told the students to have a presentation on the realization they had in heart as they read the chapter 8. Most of the students there were new to church, never having been to one, not even once. When we were opening the Bible, they started from the Old Testament to find the Acts. It was obvious that they’ve never read the Bible. And one day, in the evening, I saw a red light on and off behind a bus so I went to check, and there was a student smoking secretly. I felt really thankful. Most of the students were smokers, but I’ve never spotted them smoking. That student actually hid himself behind the bus to smoke.
As I dealt with such students, my heart became overwhelmed with love. Anyway, we had them read Acts chapter 8 and asked them to have a presentation on what they have realized. At first they weren’t willing; only some students came out once in a while. But later, students actually made a long line to come out and share. I was shocked when I heard their presentations because, you all know how sharing of knowledge and that of spirit are completely different. I was stunned, “Have they really never been to the church? Are they here for the first time to be trained for real?” I told the students, “Hey, what you are sharing is of spirit. That can’t come out from man’s heart. That’s what comes out of the Bible.” But the students didn’t believe me. “How am I spiritual? I don’t have anything. I just talked about a line in the Bible.”
But what students shared was so fresh; it was something people cannot talk about without God. I could see that God’s Holy Spirit dwelt in them and moved their hearts when they read the Bible. Even before I received salvation, my heart was full of evilness, filthiness, ugliness, and shame. But after I received salvation, a heart I could not have before (even though I went to church and praised Jesus), a new heart of Jesus, came and flew in me – and started to guide me. The same thing was happening to the students; it was really amazing. But when I told them, “What you are saying is spiritual. It’s from the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit in you is speaking to you so,” they hardly took my word.
In Romans, it says about Abraham “who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.” Folks, when believing in God, it’d be so easy to believe in Him, if it’s something normal and plausible, but God always tells us something unbelievable. So the point I that how great he is who still believes it.
Folks, when I was suffering in the sin, in 1962, I asked for forgiveness every day. Every night I would commit sins and every early morning I would go and pray to wash my sins. I thought I would never be able to be free from the sin. But one day while praying before the Lord in the early morning, I said “Lord, I am such a sinner. Please forgive my sins.” I was confessing in my prayer as usual. But amazingly I, for the first time, felt in my heart that ‘My sins are washed away!’ What’s more amazing is that when I opened the bible and read, my sins were washed eternally. It’s something truly unbelievable. “I commit sins every day. I do evil every day. How can I be clean? How can my sins be washed?” It was something hard to believe, but that was the truth, something that was inside of clear word of God.
Later as I read the bible, I realized that those people who received the Grace of God believed the word even though the word was unbelievable. Telling a man with an infirmity for 38 years to “Rise, take up your bed and walk” is something sure unbelievable. To a paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed and go to your house” ? Unblievable. To dead Lazarus “Your brother will rise again.” Yes, God does all things that we cannot really believe. That’s who God is.
“Abram” means “a noble father.” Who named him so? Terah did.
“You should become a noble father. Be a noble man.”
But God said, “You are not Abram. You are Abraham.”
“You are not a noble father. You are a father of many nations.”
“God, how can I be a father of many nations? I don’t even have a son. My wife Sarah couldn’t even have a son.”
“No, Sarah, your wife, will have a son.”
“How can a man who is hundred years old have a son? She’s ninety years old…”
Folks, God spoke something unbelievable to Abraham, but Abraham believed that word at the end (at first he didn’t).
Folks, what I felt as we meet year 2011 is that just like God spoke to Abraham the word he couldn’t believe, He is speaking to me in the same way. Not only to me, but to each one of you as well. “You are not Abram, but Abraham. You will beget many descendants. You will save many people. You will gain many spiritual children. You are Abraham.”
“No way, God. I am the number 1 flesh? I got nothing but the flesh. Without flesh, I am just a dead body? I’ve never preached the Gospel in our church yet?”
Folks, what’s amazing is that when God first spoke to Abraham saying, “Call yourself Abraham now. For your wife Sarai, Sarah shall be her name. I will give you a son by her,” Abraham laughed. “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old?” God is telling us that in year 2011 He will fulfill what’s impossible to us in each one of us. So when we see that with our common sense, He just doesn’t make sense of course.
One more, we have extracted the ddobyul, the stem cell. Well, it’s rather normal to not believe that. Think about it. How can you believe it? It’s something world-famous scientists failed to do. For 150 years, the world-best biologists couldn’t do it. Have you seen it by any chance? In the picture, there’s only one container box, and ddobyul was discovered in that! People don’t believe me when I speak. Why? It’s normal like that. Is that really possible? Gracias becoming the world-best choir? Is that possible? It is possible now, but even 2 or 3 years ago, people were laughing at it.
Many people called me a dreamer. But all those things which made people call me a dreamer were accomplished, not missing a thing. Why? Because God is alive among us.
One day God spoke to Abraham.
“Abraham, you are not Abram. You are Abraham. You are a father of many nations. You are not a fleshy brother. You are a father of many nations. You will beget many children. You will preach the Gospel a lot. You will save many.” Abraham couldn’t believe it. Neither could you. That’s is why you are Abraham as well. Abraham couldn’t believe it either. But one day Abraham read the heart of God as he meditated.
I know one thing for sure. What do I know? God sent His Son, Jesus, and had Him crucified with the sin of the world. He washed the sin. He has saved everyone, but how heartbroken would He be when He sees so many people still going to the hell just because they can’t believe what He has done? So I know that, “God must be pleased with us preaching the Gospel.” One time I felt that if I preach the Gospel all my life then I would neither get aged nor die. Because that’s what God is pleased with. Only if the Gracias Choir sings to preach the Gospel, only if Unhwa uses ddobyul to preach the Gospel, only if you use your two legs to preach the Gospel, only if you use your moth to preach the Gospel……. So God has spoken, “From now on, you are not Abram, but Abraham.”
If God appears himself to one of you tonight and says, “You are no longer Abram, but Abraham,” then you would probably say “No, that person in Genesis, he is Abraham and the president of U.S, he is Abraham. I am not Abraham; I am Ock Soo Park.”
But the grace of God is accomplished for the ones who believe. As I meet year 2011, I surely believe in my heart. God is different from all of you. Would you believe in your thoughts with which you lived that old, filthy, evil life? Or would you believe in the words of God? God has spoken. “You are not Abram, but Abraham. I will make you a father of many nations. “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name be called Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.” Now, from year 2011, I will not call you Hyung Mo Lee, but Abraham. From 2011, I will not call you Chang Won Moon, but Abraham.”
God has spoken this word to us. Dear brothers and sisters receive it with Amen. Do not calculate on your own. Do not live with your own thoughts. Just believe the word will come true for us as the word of God entered into Abraham. Just like Abraham believed even though it was hard to believe, let us believe as well even though it’s unbelievable. “Yes, I am Abraham. I don’t know, but God said Abraham. God said a father of many nations. He promised to have many people receive salvation through me. I believe that promise.” In faith in God, all of you are all Abraham in 2011, understand? We are no longer Moon Taek Park or Hyo Jung Hwang, but Abraham Park and Abraham Hwang, Abraham Lee, Abraham Moon, Abraham Doh, Abraham Park, all Abraham. Praise the Lord who gave us this promise!
I hope that in year 2011, we will preach the Gospel with all our hearts that our mission may gain new life as many as stars in the sky and sands in the sea.