The Miracle of Grace

March 7, 2011,  Cheon Bok Gung, Yongsan Seoul Korea

Welcoming Remarks:

Today, we would like to read from page 190 of Cheon Seong Gyeong:

“History has been seeking a way to encounter the True Parents. Religions have gone through their course in order to meet the True Parents.  Furthermore, the world and the nations are following a course to find the True Parents.  They are all walking down paths that will prepare the way for the True Parents.”  Aju!

Brothers and sisters, good morning!

Whenever we worship before God, we always start with True Parents’ words, and as you can see here today, history has been seeking True Parents.  And all religions have always waited for that one person, the True Parent.  When we offer worship, we are offering worship and glory to God and to True Parents, and also for our heartfelt gratitude and joy.  So we are not participating in a worship, we are offering a worship.  We are offering it with sincerity and devotion from our bottom-most part of our hearts.

Brothers and sisters, now we are here in the Growth-level Cheon Bok Gung; and really the people of this nation can finally begin to hear our voice, feel our love and also to hear the beautiful voices of the choir.  So that is why when we offer worship, we have to have that kind of heart and offer the beauty of this worship to people and to God.  And to comfort people who can really move the hearts of the people.

Main Sermon:

Today, I would like to talk about the miracle of grace.  First of all, let us read some of the passages in the world scriptures.  First of all, Christianity; let us read in Romans 3:23-25: “Since all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, they are justified by His grace as a gift through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forth as an propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith.” Aju!

Let us read a passage from the Islamic faith, together let us do this: “Abu Huraira reported God’s messenger as saying: There is none whose deeds alone would entitle him to get into paradise.  Someone said: God’s messenger, not even you?  He replied: Not even I, but that my Lord wraps me in mercy.”   Aju!

And let us read the passage from Judaism taken from Midrash, Genesis Rabbah 60.2.  Let us read it together: “All need grace, for even Abraham, for whose sake grace came plenteously into the world, himself needed grace.” Aju!

And let us read from the selection of Father’s speeches, Vol. II, p.280: “Not due to our own will do we exist.  Not due to our own selves do we enjoy the worry of life.  And not due to our own efforts can we rejoice today in the presence of the Father, but due to the grace merciful bestowed by our Father who has toiled for thousands of years of history.”  Aju!

Ladies and gentlemen, Israel is a nation that grew under the grace of God.  Israel would have become the center of this world.  If Israel had received Jesus Christ, then Israel would have become the center of the entire world at its time.  However, as you know, Israel and its people opposed Jesus and also did not recognize him for who he was, and forced him to take the path of the cross.  Thus, because of that, Israel lost the miracle of grace.  So for a very long time, even though humankind have wanted and longed for the messiah and Jesus, the Jewish people at that time were blind to the fact that Jesus was the messiah.

This serves as a good lesson for the Korean people.  The Korean race is the third Israel.  The Korean peninsula can also become the center of the world, just as Israel could have become the center of the world.  Korea is destined to become the center of this world if this nation can welcome the messiah and to recognize his value and who he is.  If they understood that the messiah does in fact exist on this world right now, and if they can understand that the Korean people were the chosen people, the people who were prepared, and they accept that fact, then the Korean people can start to go on the path of becoming the central nation of this world.

Let us again look into the Bible.  Let us read I Kings 17:2-4: “Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah, ‘Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Keith Ravine, east of Jordan.  You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there.’”  Aju!

Here in 1st Kings, we hear about Elijah the prophet.  He is being led by the direction of the Lord.  He is wandering in the wilderness to go where the Lord is leading him.  But at that time, there was a terrible drought and famine in the land and people were starving to death.  Blessings have all departed from Israel.  The prophet too was in the middle of the desert and had no way to find something to eat in such barren lands.  But God leads Elijah to Keith brook and says, “I have something prepared for you.”  And so, Elijah goes to that brook.

If you read the Bible, it says that when Elijah was there, he drank from the brook everyday.  And in the morning and in the evening, the ravens came and brought him bread and meat for him to eat.  But as you know, the raven was an impure bird in the consciousness of the Jews at that time.  But God even used that which symbolized the enemy to provide for the prophet Elijah.  And He protected him.  God provided for the prophet Elijah because the prophet was not working for his own wealth or things, but only for the sake to declare the Lord, the God of Israel.

We have to understand, the Ahab King was the king of Israel at that time, and they have forgotten about God.  Instead, they were serving Ba’al, the hidden god.  He was the god of wealth and prosperity.  The people of Israel have forgotten about Jehovah and instead, they were worshipping the hidden god, the pagan god, Ba’al.  Elijah had the mission of going and awakening the people of Israel and that is why he is on his way to go to Israel.

So even though he was fed by these filthy ravens, he was always grateful to the Lord and he serves the Lord.  He thanks the Lord because God was protecting him.  That is why he can move on and move forward in his mission.  God is a father; He is a parent, and thus He wants His son Elijah, the prophet whom He has sent, to grow even though He does not always give him blessings.  He had at times given him trials.  He had at times given him tests.  But Elijah always manifests his faith at the right moment, and always moves God’s heart.  That is why God can bless him and give him grace.

If you look at Buddhism there is a scripture called Bobhwagyeong. In chapter four of this book, it talks about the story of a prodigal son.  It is something similar to that of the stories inside the Bible, of course, but some of it is different in the prodigal son’s story in the Bible.

In the Lotus Sutra Chapter four, a spoiled son leaves his father and runs away to a distant land.  For 50 years, that son wanders around probably as a poor man.  But during that time, his father becomes a very wealthy man but still he is always waiting for his son to return.  But by chance, during the 50 years, father moves around and the son is also going around to different cities.  But it so happens that at the end of 50 years, the father and the son are living in the same city at the same time.  The son goes around trying to find work because he needs to maintain his life.  He ends up finding his way to his father’s house.  He does not know it is his father’s house, but he was able to reach his father’s house.  And as he was talking to the servants, his father sees his son and recognizes him.  He was so happy to see his son alive; He was waiting for his son for 50 years.  He really wants to give his fortune to his son before he dies.  So the father is very happy to see his son again.  However, when he looked at him closely, he just knew and he felt that the son was still very selfish and still very immature.  The father could immediately see that.  So he pretended that he did not recognize his son.  He told his servants to hire his son, however, to make him do the most dirty work.

It was about moving the keeps of garbage and dirt.  That is where he began to do his work.  For decades, he made him do that work.  In the Lotus Sutra, it says that the father gave his son that work for 20 years.  But during those 20 years, the son did not complain, rather he was grateful at all times because he can finally have something to do, that he has work, and that he will not be hungry.  So seeing that, the father was so moved and started to give his blessing and fortunes to his son.  Now the time comes that the father has to pass away on to the next world, so the father leaves behind all his fortunes to his son.

So this is what is important to remember.  We have to understand the love of this father, the love of the parent.  He loves his son so much and that is why he did not give everything to his son at the beginning, because he loves him so much.  Maybe when we talk about love and grace, we think that, “I want blessings.”  And you would think, “I want candy now, I want blessings now.  And God would give it to me now because he is my father, he is my mother.  He is my parent.”  But no parent would give their child everything that they want in the beginning.  It is the same with the wise father.  If the parent knows that the child is not matured yet, he does not give the blessings to him because he loves his child.  This is an important point.

In the same way, God is also that kind of wise parent.  If we are still selfish, and we are still immature, sometimes we pray to God for this and for that.  God knows very well that we are not prepared yet to receive the blessings.

It is very important to know what kind of mindset we have when we enter the Cheon Bok Gung.  We may think, “Oh! We have got into coming and doing workshop in this wonderful sanctuary so we should be blessed a lot.”  But if there are people who think like that and who come to church like that, then God cannot give them blessings.  God will not give them blessings because He loves us, and He knows that we are not ready for the blessings which He wants to gives us.

Many times Father talks about how we have to work together with the spirit world.  But in our daily lives, why we cannot see these works of the spirit world?  Some people ask this question why we cannot see that.  It is because we have to offer our devotions and prayers and everything about life.  It has to be about giving and to move heaven.  We have to see whether what we do actually touches God’s heart.  With that kind of devotion, with that kind of prayer and mindset, and with that kind of lifestyle, we have to inspire and touch God’s heart.  Just as God had given blessings to Elijah through the unholy ravens, God will also give us good spirits, but He may at times also send us evil spirits so they can help us.  I believe this. Aju!  This is the kind of God that we are attending right now.

Let us again read the Bible, I Kings 17:9-11, let us read it together:  “Go at once to Zarephath in Sidon and stay there.  I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.”  So he went to Zarephath.  When he came to the town gate, a widow was their gathering sticks.  He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?”  As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”  Aju!

Elijah asked the widow to bring him bread, but this widow is so poor.  She is living in the midst of a famine, and has no food.  So she tells the prophet that she only has a bit of oil in a jar, and a handful of flour left.  And that she was actually gathering the sticks to cook the final meal for her son and herself before they starve and die.  She explained to Elijah that this will be the final meal for her and her son.  Elijah tells her, “Go home and make me a cake from that flour and one for your son and one for yourself.  For the widow, in her point of view, this is strange.  She is living in the midst of a famine and then this man suddenly appears out of nowhere, telling her to give him bread even though she has only enough bread for her son and herself.

So for a normal person, why would I need to give this bread to this stranger?  However, the widow probably has felt something, the spirit world touched her heart and she decided to help Elijah.  She does so and gives the bread to Elijah.  And then Elijah says that God will not let the oil or the flour run out until the rain comes.  And that prophecy did in fact come true.  At the time the widow, of course, did not believe what Elijah said.  How can it be possible that the flour and oil, which are limited, do not run out?  But God worked miracles and with that as a condition, everyday Elijah visits, comes to the widow’s house and stays at their house.  Everyday, they ate from the cake that she made out of the oil and flour that was left.  Here we can see that God blessed them, but He was giving the blessing not only to Elijah and instead He was expanding the blessings to the people around Elijah the prophet.  And this widow, because of her faith, helped the prophet.  Come think about it, what do you think about this miracle?  These miracles from the spirit world, do you think it is something happening from a distant land far, far away?

Five years ago, think about the situation of our movement had at that time.  Everything that we were doing is ending in failure.  Many of our businesses were going bankrupt.   Think about what was happening at that time five years ago.  When we look at that situation, for 30 years our Unification Church did not grow at all.  We were living in such terrible times.  We were living in times when it was virtually impossible to bring someone to our church.

But look at this right now! We are now living in this world level Cheon Bok Gung. We are standing here proud of being Unification Church members. We can show it to the world. Look at this! Look at this testimony of faith right now! As we offer our life of faith, as we offer devotion, and as we truly live for the sake of others, we are proudly proclaiming to the entire world. Many people in the world have said that the Unification Church will soon perish. But we have not. We are still here, we will grow, we will develop and we will grow miraculously through miracles after miracles and we will become the Unificationism that can move the entire world. Aju! (Applause)

When I think about our two and a half years ago, when we first came to the church in Chong Pa Dong. Father suddenly gave this providence to create  Cheon Bok Gung, one person came and said to me, he was very worried, and asked me,” It’s only a couple of days or months since you came, and it seems, Hyung-jin nim, that you don’t know much about this church. Reality and ideals are always different.” He was saying, “There are only a few hundred people who come to the church right now. How can you talk about moving this nation? And how can you talk about creating a Unification Church that is great and proud; to me that seems to be an impossible task.” This member was confiding in me.

However when we began this life of faith, when we began to take up this faith, we have to go forth knowing that we can do it, that nothing is impossible. This nation is the chosen nation, the chosen race. The Korean peninsula was chosen by God to be the chosen land, and in this land we are to be God’s sanctuary and temple. When we first began building this Cheon Bok Gung providence, not everybody was supporting us. Many people went so far as to say, “Why the heck do we have to build this Temple? We don’t even need that. Father will build it for us. We don’t have to do it. We don’t have to donate money. We don’t need to take part in this at all.”

Many people were saying these things at that time. I still remember very clearly one Korean and Japanese couple. Though they were not wealthy they offered twenty-one thousand dollars for the construction of Cheon Bok Gung. When they did that, instead of being thanked and praised for contributing to this world Temple, some of the immature people around them, instead of thanking them, attacked them and persecuted this couple saying that they were making them look bad; saying, “Why are you doing this? You are making us look like we don’t have faith.” So this is the kind of phenomena that was occurring at that time. I still remember that.

At that time, every week there was about one thousand two hundred people coming to the HQ’s church. But suddenly when we began talking about the Cheon Bok Gung providence, the two thousand five hundred people who were coming to our church suddenly dropped to one thousand five hundred people together, coming to our church services. So about one thousand people stopped coming to HQ’s church. Instead they turned their backs on us because they could not understand the vision of Cheon Bok Gung. We had to fight for our faith. They did not understand that we had to fight for our faith. So there were some members that turned their backs on us.

As that time it was very difficult for me personally to see these things. It was very difficult but we had to move forward. We had only one thousand five hundred people and that also included the young children. But still with these one thousand five hundred people we fought for our faith to the next level. And one by one people started to come. One by one people started to be victors of faith; new members, old members started to come.

When we talked about Cheon Bok Gung, people started to contribute again. Dr Bo Hi Pak also offered his contribution; European members, Japanese members and also Korean members started one by one and decided to contribute to Cheon Bok Gung, saying, “We will fight to build this Cheon Bok Gung” and that is how the momentum started to build.

Everybody was thinking that the Unification Church would not be able to do this but within one year we were able to be victorious in collecting the required amount and we were now able to offer the Cheon Bok Gung to God and True Parents. We have seen this happen. We were part of that kind of great work and we were witnesses to this great miracle that has occurred.  Now when I meet a lot of people, they tell me they finally understand why Cheon Bok Gung is so important.

All the people in this world, outside of Korea, have said, “We also don’t have a lot of hope in our countries as well” and the level of our church and congregation is still at the level of the dire years of Korea, but through Cheon Bok Gung here we have found new hope, and now with his new hope we can go back to our nation, and we have hope that one day we also will build a Cheon Bok Gung in our nation, in our city, so we can stand proud as Unification Church members in our own respective nations.

Now all the members of the world are starting to feel this great hope. Because the father nation and the mother nation have established that standard of faith, and because we have offered and dedicated Cheon Bok Gung to God and True Parents, everybody, including the four great saints as you have seen in the video, are now helping us and cooperating with us because True Parents have opened up this new era when we can receive this kind of cooperation.

Let us read the Biblical passage of 1 King: 18 again, “I have not made trouble for Israel” Elijah replied, “you and your fathers’ family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and followed Ba’al. Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel, and bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Ba’al and the four hundred prophets of Ashera who eat at Jezebel’s table” Aju!

Here Elijah goes to meet Ahab, the king of Israel and the son of Omri. The king of Israel at that time was King Ahab; he was the son of King Omri. These two kings had abandoned God Jehovah and instead began to serve Ba’al, the king of prosperity and wealth, a pagan god. That was the time in Israel’s history. So Elijah comes and goes to Mount Carmel and battles these prophets again. He challenges King Ahab at Mt Carmel saying, “God Jehovah is our Father. He is the God of Isaac, the God of Abraham, and the God of Jacob.” and he challenges King Ahab, “You have to chose who you want to worship, whether you are going to worship Jehovah, or you are going to worship Ba’al.”

So Elijah goes and tells him to call the four hundred and fifty prophets of Ba’al and the four hundred prophets of Ashera and tells them to prove to them how great your god is and how much your god loves you. So at Mt Carmel they had a big shrine dedicated to Ba’al. The prophets made an altar and they sacrificed their cow and ask Ba’al to light the altar with flame, asking Ba’al to bring a fire from the sky to consume this sacrifice. So all the prophets of Ba’al and Ashera start to dance and pray and they also started to cut themselves to offer blood offerings around the altar. They did this all day long but still there was no fire.

Then Elijah rebuilds the altar of God. Right in front of the four hundred and fifty prophets of Ba’al, he puts the wood and sacrifices a cow on top of the wood on the altar. He also ordered that twelve barrels of water to be poured onto the altar so that no man-made flame can set it ablaze, in other words to show that no man-made effort can put fire onto this altar. And at that moment Elijah began to pray to God in front of the four hundred and fifty prophets of Ba’al and the four hundred prophets of Ashera. He told them, “You have forgotten the God of Abraham the God of your fathers. We have to remember once again Jehovah, the God of our forefathers. He will show us a miracle and show us that He exits.”

And from then Elijah begins to pray to God in earnest, and he begins to offer a sincere devotion and prayer to God. God answers his prayer and shows Himself through a miracle. A great fire descends from heaven and lights and consumes the entire altar. That is when the people were able to see the miracle of God. All the prophets of Ba’al collapsed in amazement and all the people of Israel say that we have to return to God and we must leave Ba’al. Saying this, they return again to Jehovah. And from that moment all the famine and drought come to an end and God bestows the people with the blessing of rain. Let’s give a big hand to God! (Applause)

Now Elijah is no longer working on the personal level. He is working on the national level. So all the blessings that are now coming down to him are now expanding to the entire nation. Elijah was really not working for his own sake. Rather he was working for the entire nation and the people that they remember God and he has shown them about God and Jehovah. That is why God was blessing the nation of Israel through Elijah and brought an end to the draught and famine and brought them the blessing of rain.

When we look at these stories in the Bible, we have to think about ourselves now because we are the third Israel. We are the third Israel living on this earth. We are the prepared people whom God will work through to carry out his providence in the Korean peninsula. For fifty years the Korean people have really prospered and grown. Think about it! From the Korean War to this day we have seen great growth and development in this Korea, and now we have become a nation that can become a world player among the many nations of this world. And now Korea is working very hard and passionately to become a world player.

However, now the Korean people are searching for idols, for stars, for money and wealth, power to worship as a nation’s pride, just like the Israelites were worshipping Ba’al. Think about it. In the Olympics in Vancouver one of our people won a gold medal and this is something to be proud of, but we think how the Korean peninsula as a whole can become the center of this world, not idols or stars or athletes and through money or power.

How can this small nation become the center of the world? It cannot be done by money or power. Just as the kings of Israel King Ahab had forgotten God and began to serve Ba’al, we too should not search for idols or money or power.  If we do so, forgetting about God, forgetting even our identity, forgetting about the fact that this is a holy land and this is a Temple, and forgetting about the fact that the Lord has indeed returned, then we will never be able to bring Korea to a world level.

The greatest blessing that we have is the fact that God has chosen us. That fact alone is our blessing, and the reason why we are the father nation and that is the reason why the Second Advent of the Lord has come here and this is the reason why this nation can become sacred. Let’s give a big hand for this Korean peninsula! (Applause)

The people of Korea have to remember who they are. Only then can the Korean peninsula serve as the central spiritual nation for the entire world. Aju! (Applause)

Think about it, brothers and sisters, among all the world religions, what world religions are there firmly established on this Korean peninsula? Christianity, whether they like it or not, their holy land is in the Middle East. Buddhism, their holy land is in India. But the Unification Church, our holy land is in this Korean nation because the Lord has come to this nation of Korea. That is why for the Unification Church Korea is the holy land. (Applause)

This land of Korea has the potential, has the key to becoming the center in this world. Where can you find that? It is we. We are the ones who have that key to open the gate. It is because the True Parents have come to this land. Through Cheon Bok Gung this nation can now understand that the Koreans are the chosen people. They were prepared by God to be the father nation. It is the nation from which the Second Coming was born. Once the Korean people can understand this fact, then good tidings are now disseminated from Cheon Bok Gung to the world. If they can have that kind of identity then we can make Korea this central nation. Aju! (Applause)

Through this, this nation will be the recipient of God’s blessings just as Israel was. They will receive the miracle of God’s grace, the miracle of God’s love. Where will this come from? It will come from the chosen nation, from the chosen son, from the Messiah that the miracle of grace will come to this land.

Through the growth level Cheon Bok Gung we are here with that kind of mindset. We are here to testify about True Parents, and to awaken the people of Korea, just like Elijah had to awaken the people of Israel. Just like Elijah said, “You have to believe in Jehovah and God”; because we are here with that kind of mindset, God is working with us; God is working through us and creating great miracles. Aju! (Applause)

Brothers and sisters through the twenty-one thousand and later the two hundred and ten thousand Cheon Bok Gung victories, we will see Korea find its true blessings and identity. Right now our nation is trying to become a global nation, is trying to become a global player in the global stage. But the key to become that cannot be found anywhere else but right here. The way to do it is to have that kind of spiritual power. We have to have that kind of spiritual power firmly established within us if we want to become that kind of world player.

True Parents will really make this nation the center of the world, and all the people of the world will bless this nation and also bow towards Korea. Because God has prepared the Messiah on this nation of Korea, the entire people of the world, when they see the Korean people will bow down to them and will want to follow them and offer their respects, and work with them towards building Cheon Il Guk. This I firmly believe.

Finally, let’s read a passage from Father’s words, from volume 78, “God preserved the spirit, energy of this single race though it was surrounded by power nations. Not once since Tangu, the founding father of this race, did they invade another nation, despite suffering great hardship throughout the years. God has brought a new spiritual movement and the truth to this land under the name of Unification Church and allowed this nation to move forth into the world. Human civilization elevated its dimension according to the purpose and progress of God’s providence. Circuiting the world it is finally bearing fruit in this nation” Aju!

Hyung–jin nim’s final prayer:

Dearest Heavenly Father, beloved True Parents, You have shown us a wonderful and miraculous grace. Heavenly Father, we pray that we can really offer that kind of sincere devotion and prayer that can inspire you and that can move your heart to please bless us so we can lead such a life of faith. Heavenly Father, we pray for this nation, that it can really find that kind of renewed heart, that it can be for what it is. Let it depart from its old ways and once more worship the true God. Please allow the people from this nation to remember their true identity that they are the chosen people of God, and that they are the nation that has welcomed the Second Advent of the Lord. Let the Korean peninsula become the foothold for the Messiah to move out to this world.

Heavenly Father, we know that through that kind of miraculous grace this nation can and will become the central nation of this world. With that kind of faith, this nation of Korea can bring the entire world to natural submission and all people will come to bow their heads in respect to this nation.

Heavenly Father, we pray that You can bless the people of this nation. Heavenly Father, we pray that this nation can become more mature, that they can open their spiritual eyes and once more meet the Lord and Messiah, that they may meet You as well and become the nation of the Messiah; that they can inspire not only the world but also your heart.

I pray that you can guide and bless this nation of Korea, that they can do these things. Heavenly Father, from Cheon Bok Gung we pray that all our brothers and sisters can be your vessels of carrying out your work and your providence. Let them go out to spread your message to re-awaken the people of this nation of their true identity.

We pray that the brothers and sisters here can transform this nation and revive this nation. This I sincerely pray. We pray that you can bless and be with all our brothers and sisters here today. Let us all grow and become mature, and we can also offer greater devotion and prayer. We pray that we can become the vessel that can receive your grace and blessings.

Heavenly Father, we truly, truly pray for all these things. Heavenly Father, please bless this day and as we go back to our daily life again we pray that we can become the drivers of change and to be able to bring the people back to your fold. Please let us become that kind of Unification Church members who can bring our brothers and sisters back to your bosom.

All these things I pray in gratitude and in appreciation to You and in glorifying You. In my name, Aju!

 

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