By Jin Xianzhe, South Korea
The Bible says, “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). “For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation” (Romans 10:10). Based on these, many brothers and sisters believe that the Lord Jesus was crucified and took on all of our sins, that we have gained righteousness through our faith in Him and we are forever saved, and that when the Lord comes, we will be directly raptured into the kingdom of heaven.
However, the situation is unfavorable. Many believers live lives of sinning by day and confessing by night, are bound and depressed by sin. And many are confused about the following, “Since the Lord is holy, are people like us who are still living in sin truly qualified to enter the heavenly kingdom?” Brother Jin Xianzhe was once confused by this as well. However, after a period of seeking, finally he not only found the way to enter the kingdom of heaven but also welcomed.
Brother Jin Xianzhe recalled that at that time he often felt tormented because of living in sin. One day, he read these Bible verses, “What does it profit, my brothers, though a man say he has faith, and have not works? can faith save him? … Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:14–17).
He felt very conflicted, thinking, “The pastors and elders often say that we can be saved and get into the kingdom of heaven just by being justified by faith. But here these verses say that people who have faith yet do no good deeds still cannot be saved. Could it be that being justified by faith doesn’t mean that people can get into the kingdom of heaven?” He could not understand it at all, so all he could do was pray to the Lord and ask for the Lord to guide him to understand the mystery in this and break free from the constraints of sin as soon as possible. Plus, he decided to go to other churches to seek answers.
Disappointed, he shook his head and said that he had attended many churches, but he had seen that their conditions had been all pretty much the same: The preachers competed with and attacked each other, and their sermons were completely unilluminating, much less could they talk about the path to being cleansed of sin. Slowly, he had lost faith in finding the path to being cleansed of sin and begun to follow the worldly trends and fight with others for personal benefit. He had been living in sin, powerless to free himself.
Brother Jin Xianzhe continued saying that one day, when he was waiting for a bus near a park, he saw several sisters from The Church of Almighty God spreading the gospel by pitching it on the street, and a big sign saying, “The Savior Has Already Returned Upon a ‘White Cloud.’” At that time, he paid no attention to that because he thought there were so many churches where the sermons were all lacking in illumination, and that this church might be the same. Then, a sister went up to him and greeted him, saying, “The Lord Jesus has returned. I hope you can pay heed to our gospel flyers. The words on them aren’t ordinary words but are words that can allow us to have the roots of our sin expunged and to gain life. I hope you read them.” He, however, did not really listen to her and directly left by bus.
While he was sitting on the bus, the sister’s words kept finding their way into his head and he could not help but recall his utterly miserable life of sin. He thought, “Haven’t I been longing to purify myself of sin and thereby earn the Lord’s praise? Why didn’t I seek diligently when hearing about the issue of how to be cleansed of sin today?” Thinking of this, he started to have a bit of regret about leaving without listening well to that sister’s explanations. So, on his way of returning after running some errands, he specially got off to ask the sister for a copy of God’s Sheep Hear the Voice of God and a flyer. He wanted to see what they were about.
Brother Jin Xianzhe said that after arriving home, he could not wait to open the book and started to read it. But because there were many unfamiliar spiritual terms and many words that he could not understand, he no longer wanted to continue reading it. In the following week, he was absent-minded no matter what he did and always thought about what the sister had said about the Lord already having returned. Besides, he vaguely remembered a passage of words he read in that book, “You may have opened this book for the purpose of research, or with the intention of accepting; whatever your attitude, I hope that you will read it to the end, and will not put it aside easily” (“Only He Who Experiences the Work of God Truly Believes in God”). He felt reproached and realized that for such a big deal as the Lord’s coming, he should treat it with great caution and read all those words with patience. However, he just read few words and then gave up before understanding the matter clearly—he was being so negligent. Therefore, he began to read the words in that book again. What was different from the first time was that his heart was much calmer and that he had a dictionary beside him to look up the words that he did not understand.
In the following ten days, he read the book from start to finish. The content opened his eyes. Several chapters of words such as “God Is the Source of Man’s Life,” “God Presides Over the Fate of All Mankind,” “The Savior Has Already Returned Upon a ‘White Cloud,’” “The Mystery of the Incarnation (1)” to “The Mystery of the Incarnation (4),” “Onlyof the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life,” and so on, clearly state how God rules man’s fate, allowing people to see God’s authority and power. They also reveal the mysteries of God’s names and God’s work. After reading them, he truly felt that those words carried authority and might, and that not just anyone could speak them. He thought of this verse in the Bible, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). He felt the words in that book were just as what was described in these lines. He felt overjoyed and thought that Almighty God could very well be the returned Lord Jesus.
1) Why Being Saved Does Not Mean Being Able to Enter the Heavenly Kingdom
After that, he dialed the gospel hotline of The Church of Almighty God and went to the church to investigate. He opened up his heart and told the brothers and sisters there about how things had been in his years of faith in the Lord.
Then Brother Zheng from The Church of Almighty God said to him, smiling, “All believers in the Lord may think that the Lord Jesus was crucified to redeem us and forgive all of our sins, that we are saved by faith and once saved always saved, and that when the Lord comes, we will be directly raptured into the heavenly kingdom. Is this way of thinking correct? The truth is that our sins being forgiven through our faith just means that we are no longer executed under the law, but doesn’t mean that our sins are thoroughly cleansed. About this, we can recall that the effect of God’s work in the Age of Law was making people aware of sin. Later in the Age of Law, mankind did not keep the law and so risked being executed by the law—this was not the outcome God wanted. Thus, according to the needs of man at that time, God became flesh for the first time and came to work among man, bestowed upon them the way of, and was crucified in order to redeem mankind. As long as people accepted the Lord Jesus’ gospel and confessed and repented to the Lord, He would forgive their sins and not see them as being of sin. That is to say, the sins people committed under the law were forgiven because of the Lord Jesus’ salvation. This is the true meaning of being saved that we speak of. But being saved doesn’t mean that we can directly enter the heavenly kingdom, because our sinful nature is firmly rooted within us. Let’s read two passages of Almighty God’s words, and it will be more clear.
“Almighty God says, ‘At the time, Jesus’ work was the work to redeem all mankind. The sins of all who believed in Him were forgiven; as long as you believed in Him, He would redeem you; if you believed in Him, you were no longer a sinner, you were relieved of your sins. This is what it meant to be saved, and to be justified by faith. Yet in those who believed, there remained that which was rebellious and opposed God, and which still had to be slowly removed. Salvation did not mean man had been completely gained by Jesus, but that man was no longer of sin, that he had been forgiven his sins. Provided you believed, you would never more be of sin.’ ‘Before man was redeemed, many of Satan’s poisons had already been planted within him and, after thousands of years of being corrupted by Satan, he has within him an established nature that resists God. Therefore, when man has been redeemed, it is nothing more than a case of redemption in which man is bought at a high price, but the poisonous nature within him has not been eliminated. Man that is so defiled must undergo a change before becoming worthy to serve God.’
“We understand when we read God’s words, don’t we? The Lord Jesus’ work of redemption in the Age of Grace just made people have tolerance and patience, love enemies, and have good behavior, and it didn’t involve changing people’s sinful nature. Corrupt dispositions such as arrogance, selfishness, craftiness, evil, and greed still remain within us. If these corrupt dispositions that resist God aren’t resolved, we can still sin and resist God and betray God. For example, we often lie and cheat for the sake of fame, fortune and status. When God’s work is not in line with our notions, we can deny and judge God. When we have positions, we exalt and bear witness to ourselves, just like the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees. We act like we are God and try to make people revere and admire us. We even steal and take for ourselves the sacrificial offerings to God. Sometimes we envy those who are good and able, form factions and cliques, and engage in intrigues. These are all clear facts. It can be seen that because we have satanic nature, we are still of the filth and cannot enter the heavenly kingdom. In fact, our belief that people can enter the kingdom of heaven just by being saved through faith is based on the words of Paul and the other apostles, as written in the Bible. Their words cannot be equated to the Lord Jesus’ words. If we regard people’s words as God’s words, keep them, and use them as a basis for entering the kingdom of heaven—isn’t this too foolish? By doing this we are very likely to resist God and go down the wrong path.”
Brother Jin Xianzhe said that after hearing the fellowship of Brother Zheng, he finally understood that the work of absolving man of their sins done by the Lord Jesus just allows man to no longer be condemned by the law; that is, people are saved by faith in the Lord. But being saved once doesn’t mean that one has been saved forever or can get into the heavenly kingdom. He thought back on how, when hearing the pastors say that being saved by faith could get people into the kingdom of heaven, at first he considered it to be correct, but then he felt conflicted and could not clearly explain it when he read in Scripture that people had to do good deeds. His heart became clear after hearing the fellowship of Brother Zheng.
2) The Path to Enter the Kingdom of Heaven
He said that afterward Brother Zheng continued to fellowship with him. Brother Zheng said, “As for how to enter the kingdom of heaven, the Lord Jesus has told us, ‘Not every one that said to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven’ (Matthew 7:21). And in Leviticus 11:45, it says, ‘You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.’ From these we can see that those who enter the kingdom of heaven must be people who adhere to God’s way; that is, who are able to live out God’s words, cast off sin, and achieve purification. That’s because God’s essence is holy and God’s kingdom is also holy and without impurities; so since we are not cleansed, we are unqualified to enter God’s kingdom. This is why the Lord Jesus said He must return. It is so He will perform His work of judgment and chastisement in the last days to thoroughly cleanse and save mankind. This fulfills the prophecies in the Bible, ‘For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God’ (1 Peter 4:17). ‘He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day’ (John 12:48). And, ‘So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin to salvation’ (Hebrews 9:28). Thus, only by accepting God’s work of judging and purifying mankind in the last days can we have our satanic nature completely cleansed.”
Brother Jin Xianzhe said that he could not help but nod his head in agreement after hearing the fellowship of Brother Zheng, and felt that it was entirely correct. He came to know that the Lord Jesus had clearly told people that only those who do the will of the heavenly Father can enter the kingdom of heaven, and that He had never said people could enter the kingdom of heaven just by being saved through faith. In addition, Brother Jin Xianzhe also understood that if people want to escape the bondage of sin, they must accept the judgment work of theof God and that people are simply incapable of freeing themselves from the bondage of sin through their own power. God’s words and the fellowship of Brother Zheng made him feel much brighter and he found the answer to the question that had been perplexing him for years.
3) How to Be Purified of Sin
Brother Jin Xianzhe said that later, a passage of Almighty God’s words he had read in a gathering helped him understand how God does the work of judgment. God’s words say, “In the last days, Christ uses a variety of truths to teach man, to expose the essence of man, and to dissect the words and deeds of man. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the essence of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, the words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan, and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth of which man is utterly bereft. Only methods such as these can be called judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced into submission to God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God. What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt substance and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the substance of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him. This work is the work of judgment done by God.”
After reading that, a sister fellowshiped this, “God does the work of judging and purifying mankind in the last days, and to do this He mainly uses a variety of truths to judge and expose our various satanic dispositions which are the things that make us rebel against and resist God. For example, God exposed that when we encounter difficulties in our duties and our fleshly interests are involved, we care about the flesh and are unwilling to suffer; in our interactions with others, we are very arrogant, self-righteous, and opinionated, and so are unable to coordinate with others; due to our lack of knowledge of God, when faced with God’s work and words that don’t fit with our notions and imagination, we do not submit but reason with and blame God; we frequently lie and deceive for our own interests. There are many such examples. God revealed that behind all this is nothing but the control of satanic natures that cause us to constantly sin, such as selfishness, arrogance, maliciousness, craftiness, and so on. God’s words have revealed all those manifestations to allow us to know, so that we see clearly the truth of our corruption by Satan. Yet sometimes, although we have read God’s words, we don’t think we are so deeply corrupted. At this time, God arranges real circumstances and events to reveal, judge, chastise, prune, and deal with us, and point out the problems that lie within us. Through the comparison between God’s words and the facts, we cannot help but be utterly convinced and have a clearer understanding of our corrupt dispositions. At first, we think we are very good, yet later when we see that whatever corruption God reveals all exists in us, we lower our haughty heads, acknowledge that we are the embodiment of Satan, thus starting to detest and hate ourselves and become unwilling to resist God by relying on our satanic corrupt dispositions anymore, and at the same time we come to a real understanding of God’s righteous disposition and holy essence. This way, through repeated experiences of the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, our corrupt dispositions can change bit by bit. This is God’s work of judgment and chastisement.”
Through God’s words and the fellowship of the sister, Brother Jin Xianzhe came to understand that only by accepting the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, trials and refinement, pruning and dealing, can we gradually be rid of our corrupt dispositions such as arrogance, conceit, selfishness, craftiness, etc., and will our resistance and rebellion against God gradually be reduced. The more he thought about this, the more he felt that God performing the work of judgment and chastisement this way to purify our corrupt dispositions is very practical. At that moment, Brother Jin Xianzhe felt incredibly excited and said that he finally found the way to cleanse his sins and welcomed the Lord’s return. He also said that seeing God’s words, gaining the provision of God’s words, and being able to be face to face with God gave him an indescribable joy in his heart. Plus, he had the resolution to seek to be one of the kingdom’s people during the Age of Kingdom.
At last, he said that from then on, every time he had the chance, he would read God’s words. He saw these words from God, “The essential purpose of God’s work of chastisement and judgment is to purify humanity and to prepare them for their ultimate rest; without such cleansing, none of humanity could be classified in different categories according to kind, or enter into rest. This work is humanity’s only path to enter into rest.” “During the last days, only righteous judgment can separate man according to their kind and bring man into a new realm. In this way, the entire age is brought to an end through God’s righteous disposition of judgment and chastisement.” God’s words gave him further understanding of God’s work of judgment and chastisement in the last days. He realized that God’s work of judgment and chastisement in the last days is the final stage of work of bringing the age to an end. God’s purpose is to expose all kinds of people, separate the true believers from the false believers, the wheat from the tares, thefrom the foolish virgins, and in the end, separate all people according to their kind. The people who sincerely believe in God and gain purification will enter God’s kingdom, and the rest will suffer God’s righteous punishment. Brother Jin Xianzhe felt very excited and rejoiced in the fact that he finally followed God’s steps and had the chance to receive God’s cleansing and salvation.