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By Wang Zheng
Hello Sister Wang,
In your letter you mention: “I think that when thesaid ‘It is finished’ moments before He took His last breath, it meant that the work of salvation had been done and that we have been saved by God and that God won’t do any new work. …”
Regarding this point, I’d like to share with you my own understanding.
Actually, when the Lord Jesus said on the cross “It is finished,” it only indicated that His work of being crucified was completed, because the main point of the Lord Jesus being incarnated was to be crucified. His holy and sinless flesh was nailed to the cross as a sin offering to redeem mankind from Satan’s clutches and pardon our sins. In other words, the Lord Jesus was completing one stage of the work of redemption in God’s plan. In addition, during this stage of the work, the Lord Jesus also prophesied that He had more work to do in the future. So we can safely say that the Lord Jesus saying “It is finished” while on the cross doesn’t signify that the work of God’s salvation of mankind was completed then.
We all know that when mankind was corrupted by Satan, God began His work of saving mankind. He wants to save us from Satan’s dominion and restore us to the likeness of the first humans He created. Once mankind has completely escaped from Satan’s influence, and our sins have been cleansed, that will be the time when God’s work is fully completed and will also be when God and mankind enjoy peaceful rest together.
For God to accomplish this work, He needs to work according to the stages of development of mankind. His management plan for saving mankind is being completed in steps and phases according to each era. In the first stage, God used Moses to issue the laws and demanded that people obey them. God’s laws were for teaching people how to live on earth and also what sin was. Then, in accord with mankind’s needs, God ended the Age of Law and began the Age of Grace in which the Lord Jesus incarnated to do His work of healing the sick and casting out demons and giving people limitless grace. In the end He was nailed to the cross and became a sin offering in order to redeem mankind from sin. After that, people only had to believe in the Lord and confess before the Lord and their sins would be pardoned. But though our sins are pardoned, our sinful nature still exists, and we are still slaves to the cycle of sinning in the daytime and confessing them at night. We have no way of shaking off the shackles of sin. Just as Paul said: “for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Romans 7:18). And in, it says, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). We still live sinfully, and we are vile and corrupt through and through. We are not qualified to enter God’s kingdom.
As is written in the Bible: “Who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:10). “Who are kept by the power of God through faith to salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). “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). From these few verses, we can see that in order to save us completely from Satan’s dominion God of the last days has a stage of work to do to make us purified and worthy of His salvation. So when the Lord Jesus said “It is finished,” He didn’t mean that this work of salvation was already completed but that the work of redeeming mankind in the Age of Grace was done. From this we can see that God’s work of saving all of mankind is not yet finished. We need God to come and do the work of purifying and transforming us, otherwise we won’t be good enough to see God, never mind be saved by Him.
So let’s look at a couple of passages of God’s words, “For all that man may have been redeemed and forgiven of his sins, it can only be considered as God not remembering the transgressions of man and not treating man in accordance with his transgressions. However, when man, who lives in a body of flesh, has not been set free from sin, he can only continue to sin, endlessly revealing his corrupt satanic disposition. This is the life that man leads, an endless cycle of sinning and being forgiven. The majority of men sin in the day only to confess in the evening. This way, even if the sin offering is forever effective for man, it will not be able to save man from sin. Only half the work of salvation has been completed….” “Therefore, after that stage of work was finished, there still remained the work of judgment and chastisement. This stage is to make man pure by means of the word and thereby give him a path to follow. This stage would not be fruitful or meaningful if it continued with the casting out of demons, for it would fail to extirpate man’s sinful nature, and man would come to a standstill at the forgiveness of his sins. Through the sin offering, man has been forgiven his sins, for the work of the crucifixion has already come to an end and God has prevailed over Satan. But the corrupt disposition of man still remaining within him, man can still sin and resist God, and God has not gained mankind. That is why in this stage of work God uses the word to expose the corrupt disposition of man, causing him to practice in accordance with the right path. This stage is more meaningful than the previous one, as well as more fruitful, for now it is the word that directly supplies man’s life and enables the disposition of man to be completely renewed; it is a much more thorough stage of work. Therefore, the incarnation in the last days has completed the significance of God’s incarnation and completely finished God’s plan of management for man’s salvation.”
From God’s words we can see that if we want to be purified and saved and taken into God’s kingdom to receive the inheritance of God, then we must accept God’s work of judgment of the last days. This is confirmation of what is written in the Bible: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). God uses the judgments of His words to reveal and dissect our corrupt substance to help us see the reality that we have been corrupted by Satan. Then we will begin to hate evil and betray Satan, and rely on God to gradually get rid of our corrupt dispositions and cleanse our sins, thus becoming people who obey and love God. This is how God will gain a group of people who are of one heart and one mind with Him, and His 6,000-year plan to thoroughly save mankind will be completed. God’s great work will then have been accomplished. Just as Revelation says: “And he that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely” (Revelation 21:5-6). When man’s corrupt disposition is entirely cast off to yield a new man, then God’s work of saving mankind truly is done. Without the work of the Lord Jesus, our sins wouldn’t be pardoned and mankind wouldn’t have developed to where we are today; without the work of God’s judgment and chastisement in the last days, we could never get rid of our corrupt dispositions, never mind be purified by God. Every step, every stage of God’s work is necessary for mankind, and is implemented according to the degree of our corruption by Satan. Every step of God’s work is extraordinarily significant and not a step of it can be missed out.
So to reckon that the Lord Jesus’ saying “It is finished” while on the cross means that God’s work is totally finished doesn’t hold water. Only by following God’s footsteps and accepting God’s work of the last days can we be thoroughly cleansed and saved. People who achieve this are the most fortunate among the whole human race! Sister Wang, I am currently investigating God’s work of the last days, and hope that you can do so too.
I look forward to receiving your reply!
Your dear friend, Sister Zheng
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One may ask: The Bible says, “That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation” (Romans 10:9-10). It says that the one who confesses with the mouth and believes in the heart that Jesus is the Lord is saved. In fact, we do have believed in the Lord; however, does it mean that we have been saved thoroughly? Speaking of the topic of being saved, it is familiar to brothers and sisters. They are all firmly convinced that they have been saved thoroughly since they have believed in the Lord Jesus, and that they will be taken to the kingdom of heaven when the Lord comes again. But is it really the case? What on earth is the true meaning of being saved? Is it true, as we think, that we are saved thoroughly as long as we believe in the Lord Jesus? We all know the Israelites had ever been enslaved by the Egyptian Pharaoh, undergoing all kinds of hardships. Jehovah God could not stand them being maltreated; therefore, He called Moses to lead them out of Egypt and then into the good land of Canaan. As for the Israelites of that time, they were saved. But it cannot be said that they no longer need the salvation of Jehovah God. Before they entered Canaan, Jehovah God set forth the law through Moses, causing them to know how to revere Him, how to serve Him, as well as how to live on earth, how to get along with others, etc. Henceforth, the work of God in the Age of Law made the Israelites know how to live, and to them, this means that they were saved again. However, at the end of the Age of Law, people were unable to keep the law, lost their reverence for God, and even offered blind and lame livestock on the altar. As a result, they all faced the danger of being condemned to death by the law. In order to rescue them from death, God incarnate came to earth and did a stage of work of redeeming mankind. The Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross as the sin offering for mankind, and bore the sins of man. For those accepting the salvation of the Lord Jesus, this means that they were saved again. As the Bible says, “That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved” (Romans 10:9). Actually here it means that after accepting the Lord Jesus’ salvation of the cross, people will no longer be condemned by the law for failing to keep it. Nevertheless, although our human sins have been forgiven, it doesn’t mean that we have no sins, for all believers still live in the vicious cycle of committing sins only to confess them and then to continue on to sin again, and no one can break free from it. The Bible says, “holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). “Who are kept by the power of God through faith to salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). “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). We can see from these verses that although we have got the redemption of the Lord Jesus, we are not completely saved by God because our corrupt dispositions haven’t been purified yet. Therefore, God returns to flesh in the last days to do the work of thoroughly saving and purifying man. God says, “it is true that you were saved by Jesus, and that you are not counted as a sinner because of the salvation of God, but this does not prove that you are not sinful, and are not impure. How can you be saintly if you have not been changed? Within, you are beset by impurity, selfish and mean, yet you still wish to descend with Jesus—you should be so lucky! You have missed a step in your belief in God: You have merely been redeemed, but have not been changed. For you to be after God’s heart, God must personally do the work of changing and cleansing you; if you are only redeemed, you will be incapable of attaining sanctity. In this way you will be unqualified to share in the good blessings of God, for you have missed out a step in God’s work of managing man, which is the key step of changing and perfecting. And so you, a sinner who has just been redeemed, are incapable of directly inheriting God’s inheritance” (“Concerning Appellations and Identity”). “The sins of man were forgiven because of the work of God’s crucifixion, but man continued to live in the old, corrupt satanic disposition. As such, man must be completely saved from the corrupt satanic disposition so that the sinful nature of man is completely cast away and never again develops, thus allowing the disposition of man to be changed. This requires man to understand the path of growth in life, the way of life, and the way to change his disposition. It also needs man to act in accordance with this path so that the disposition of man can gradually be changed and he can live under the shining of the light, and that he can do all things in accord with the will of God, cast away the corrupt satanic disposition, and break free from Satan’s influence of darkness, thereby emerging fully from sin. Only then will man receive complete salvation” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)”). From God’s words we can see that we Christians are only forgiven of our sins by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus. However, because the Lord Jesus didn’t do the work of thoroughly purifying our corrupt dispositions, thus if we want to utterly cast away the corruption to be cleansed and completely saved, we need to accept not only the Lord Jesus’ redemption, but also God’s work of judging and purifying man in the last days. Only when we, in the course of experiencing the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, gradually gain a true knowledge of our own corrupt substance, are able to break free of Satan’s influence of darkness and live by God’s words, can we be called the ones who are purified and saved thoroughly, that is, the ones who have received complete salvation and are truly saved. So, today when the Lord Jesus has returned, only if we walk out of the Age of Grace, follow the steps of God’s work, and accept the judgment of God’s words to have our corrupt disposition cleansed, can we be saved thoroughly by God, and ultimately be taken to a wonderful destination. You may be interested in this article: What Is Salvation? Once Saved Always Saved?