Preacher’s Question: Does being saved mean entering the kingdom of heaven?

By Ma Xiaoxiao

One day, when I preached, I spoke of the great disaster that was going to come. So I exhorted brothers and sisters to attend meetings actively, put more effort in the Bible, and follow the Lord’s way in real life, so that we could watch and wait for the return of the Lord. But I saw some brothers and sisters remain weak and full of doubts whether they could be raptured to the kingdom of heaven. Then I explained, “Brothers and sisters, the Bible says, ‘For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation’ (Rom 10:10). As long as we believe in the Lord in our hearts and confirm our belief in Him with our words, our faith will allow us to obtain eternal salvation. When the Lord comes again, we will surely be raptured to the kingdom of heaven.”

Hearing what I said, brothers and sisters were all happy and they had some strength. At this moment, co-worker Zhang stood up and said, “I’m not sure. The Lord Jesus said, ‘But he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven’ (Mat 7:21). This clearly tells us that only those who do the will of God can enter the kingdom of heaven. Although we have been saved, we’re still committing sins during the day and repenting at night. This’s not doing the will of the heavenly Father. I think we still will be unable to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

The brothers and sisters were just happy, but a few words of co-worker Zhang quelled their excitement at once. I looked around, thought for a short while, and said hastily, “Brothers and sisters, brother Paul said in the Book of the Galatians 3:26, ‘For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.’ This shows that we believe in the Lord, so we are His children. In that case, we will definitely be able to enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Co-worker Zhang took my words, “Brother Ma, I don’t agree with what you’re saying. 1 Peter 1:16 says, ‘Be you holy; for I am holy.’ And Hebrews 12:14 says, ‘and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.’ From these two verses, we can see clearly that God’s substance is holy. Although we have been saved, we often sin and confess, and we don’t become holy. We are unworthy to see the Lord’s face. How can we enter the kingdom of heaven?”

At this point, brother Chen stood up. He pointed at the Bible in his hand and said seriously, “Brothers and sisters, apostle Paul already told us clearly in the Book of Romans 8:33–34, ‘Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemns?’ We have been God’s elects. Both our sins of the past and those of the future have been forgiven by the Lord Jesus. He doesn’t see us as sinners. We have been justified, so we will certainly enter the kingdom of heaven. This is undoubtable. I agree with brother Ma’s point.”

Co-worker Zhang firmly said, “Brothers and sisters, since the Scripture says, ‘and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord,’ and the Lord Jesus also told us that only those who do the will of the heavenly Father can enter the kingdom of heaven. This is sufficient to prove that only those who attain holiness can enter the kingdom of God. We must keep the Lord’s word.”

I said loudly, “My fellow co-workers, on the question of being saved, Paul already told us clearly, ‘For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God’ (Eph 2:8). ‘And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work’ (Rom 11:6). Paul’s words are very clear. The Lord’s salvation is freely given to us and does not depend on our works. If this depends on our works, then is that called the Lord’s grace? Now we can rely on the Lord’s grace to be saved into the kingdom of heaven.”

Brother Chen raised his hand and said, “Brother Ma is right. Paul in the book of Timothy also said, ‘Who has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began’ (2Ti 1:9), so we who believe in Jesus can enter the kingdom of heaven based on His grace. If it were based on our works, who then could be saved?”

Co-worker Zhang stood up with emotion. He said, “Brothers and sisters, whether we believers can enter the kingdom of heaven is decided by what the Lord Jesus said or what Paul said? Is it the Lord Jesus’ words that have authority or Paul’s words? Do we confess that the Lord Jesus is the truth, the way, and the life?” Everyone looked at each other, and said, “Of course we do!”

This word of brother Zhang reminded me. I thought, Right! We believers should focus on the Lord’s words, but why do I keep speaking of Paul’s words? Thinking of this, I calmed down and continued to listen to brother Zhang’s fellowship …

Co-worker Zhang said, “Since we confess that the Lord Jesus is the truth, the way, and the life, and what Paul said opposes what our Lord Jesus said, that would explain what Paul said carries tares. It comes from human will and is not the truth. I would rather believe what the Lord Jesus said, ‘But he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.’ This is the sole standard for entering the kingdom of heaven.”

At this moment, brother Guo also stood up emotionally. He said, “We believers in God should set the Lord Jesus’ words as the standard. Because the Lord Jesus is the only Lord of the kingdom of heaven. His word is the only truth, the only authority. His word carrying authority means what He said counts. Paul is not the Lord of the kingdom of heaven; his word does not carry authority, nor do they count. Paul is nothing more than an apostle, having a corrupt human nature. He himself need God’s salvation. Whether everyone can enter the kingdom of heaven is still decided by the Lord Jesus. What rights does he have to decide if others can enter the kingdom of heaven?”

Seeing everyone nodded their approval, I asked, “Brother Zhang, you’re right. We who believe in the Lord should have the Lord Jesus’ words as the standard. But I do not yet understand the difference between being saved and entering the kingdom of heaven. Could you share your opinion?”

Co-worker Zhang said in a calm way, “I’ve studied this aspect of verses over and over again these few days. I think being saved refers to being free from the condemnation of the law, and that it refers to sins being forgiven. But those who have been saved can still resist and oppose God through sinning, so they don’t become holy and they still live under Satan’s domain, while those who can enter the kingdom of heaven ought to be those who do the will of our Father in heaven, who obey God’s words. They are those who know God and submit to God, who are compatible with Him. So, being saved and entering the kingdom of heaven are two different matters. Just as the Lord Jesus said, ‘many are called, but few are chosen’ (Mat 22:14). This shows that people who come and believe in the Lord are many, but few can enter the kingdom of heaven in the end. It also manifests God’s righteous disposition.”

Brother Guo also said, “I agree with brother Zhang’s point of view. The Lord Jesus said, ‘the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force’ (Mat 11:12). We can see from the Lord’s words that entering the kingdom of heaven has its standard. It’s not so easy to enter as we thought. We can’t get into it just by relying on grace. We must work hard to follow the Lord’s way before entering it.”

Although what they are saying makes sense, I still have doubt in my heart. Then I said, “To enter the kingdom of heaven, we must do the will of our heavenly Father. This is right. But haven’t we been imitating Paul, forsaking everything for the Lord’s work? Even many brothers and sisters never get married, offering their whole life to the Lord. They cross mountains to preach the gospel of the Lord. It can be said that every Christian suffers a lot and pays much price so as to enter the kingdom of heaven. Is this not doing the will of our heavenly Father? I believe that as long as we carry on like this, we will definitely enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Co-worker Zhang put down the Bible in his hand, and he said, “Brothers and sisters, we can study the Bible carefully. The Lord Jesus has never said that if we forsook everything and labored for Him, we would enter the kingdom of heaven. The Lord Jesus only said, ‘But he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.’ I think that those who truly do the will of the heavenly Father should be those who love God with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their mind. They work and suffer for the Lord not in order to covet their own benefits and prospects, but completely to love God and repay His love. They can care for God’s will in everything, and whatever they encounter, they no longer sin or resist God. All that they do is in order to break away from sins and become holy. Only such people who work for the Lord will be qualified to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Brother Guo who was in deep thought said, “Brother Zhang is right! The Bible says, ‘he that does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous’ (1Jn 3:7). The righteous here are not those ‘justified by faith,’ but those who do the works of righteousness and never sin. While we may now lay all aside for the Lord’s work, we still often sin and are not truly righteous. We are not worthy to enter the kingdom of God.”

I didn’t agree with his opinion, so I retorted, “But Paul said, ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness …’ (2Ti 4:7–8). We preach the gospel, toil and labor for the Lord, and keep the Lord’s way. Isn’t this doing the will of our heavenly Father?”

Co-worker Zhang said very calmly, “Brother Ma, based on your opinion, when the Pharisees traveled over land and sea, suffering much for spreading the gospel everywhere, and having some outward good behaviors, were they then doing the will of our heavenly Father? As we all know, the Pharisees suffered and sacrificed outwardly for God, but they could still oppose God and nail Jesus on the cross. That’s sufficient to prove that outward sufferings and good behaviors do not represent doing the will of our heavenly Father, nor do they represent knowing and submitting to God. In the same way, today we suffer for the Lord, we have some good behaviors outwardly, but we can still sin often and resist God. We are still not those who do the will of our heavenly Father, and still not worthy to enter the kingdom of heaven!”

At his words, I was utterly convinced. It is a fact that we all live in sin. When we work for the Lord, we still have our personal intentions and viewpoints of exchange, as well as a desire for blessings. This is also a fact.

Everyone heatedly shared their own views and knowledge on this topic. When our gathering was nearing its end, I said happily to the others, “Brothers and sisters, Thank God. This debate today allows us to understand that being saved isn’t equivalent to entering the kingdom of heaven. It turns around my incorrect point of view. We can’t be saved by relying on grace. I realized that no matter how we believe in God and labor for the Lord, as long as our sins remain, we can’t truly achieve doing the will of God. So we can’t be approved by God, nor can we enter the kingdom of God. It can be seen that God is the God who is holy and righteous. We can’t always believe in God with our own notions and imaginations but should pursue according to the standard for entering the kingdom of heaven that God requires of us. Only in this way, can we finally act in harmony with God’s will, and can our belief in God be approved by Him.” Brothers and sisters all nodded their heads and agreed …

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Preacher’s Confusion: Why Can’t Be Raptured Into the Kingdom of Heaven Only by Working Hard?

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The Relationship Between Bible and God, Figured Out!

By Wang Ying In 1982, I accepted the Lord Jesus’ gospel. Through reading the Bible, I knew that the Lord Jesus is the only true God and is the Lord who created the heavens and earth and all things. Later, our preacher often preached to us 2 Timothy 3:16, “‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.’ The entire Bible is inspired by God and is all God’s word. All of God’s work and word are in the Bible. There is no God’s work and word outside the Bible. No matter when, as a believer in God, we cannot depart from the Bible.” These words impressed themselves on my mind. I thought the Bible was a heavenly book and represented God. So, I especially treasured it, studying and reading the Bible with hunger and thirst for righteousness every day and reciting some famous chapters and verses; the Bible became my lifeblood. A few years later, I became a preacher and often said to brothers and sisters, “None of the books in the world can be the equal of the Bible. The writings of any great spiritual figure cannot replace the Bible. God’s word and work are all in the Bible. The Bible is the foundation for our Christian faith.” Gradually, there arose envy and strife in our church, which thus split into a few factions, and brothers and sisters didn’t want to attend meetings. Faced with the condition of the church, I took great pains to study the Bible and wanted to change it. But no matter how I read, I was still thirsty in my spirit and had no new knowledge. When preaching, I felt dry, without any new light. Sometimes, I dozed off when I read the Bible. But the place of the Bible was still very high in my heart. Living in such a condition, I felt extreme pain. So many times I knelt before the Lord and prayed tearfully to seek His will. I hoped that someone having the work of the Holy Spirit could fellowship with us about the truth in the Bible so that our thirsty heart could be watered. It was one hot summer morning in 1995. I was washing clothes under the big tree in my yard. At this time, two young sisters came to chat with me. They talked about the present situation of the church, saying, “Now, the religious world is a widespread desolation. Jealousy and strife between co-workers of all the sects happens too often. The preachers have no message to preach; believers are cold in faith and cannot feel the work of the Holy Spirit. This fulfills the prophecy of the Lord Jesus, ‘And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold’ (Matthew 24:12). These conditions are the signs of the Lord’s return….” Hearing these words, I nodded gravely. I thought: The two sisters are young, but what they said is the real situation of the religious world; it seems that the Lord Jesus will come soon. Then, one of them said, “The reason why the religious world becomes so desolate is that the Holy Spirit’s work has moved and God has done a new stage of work.” As she said this, she took out a book from her bag and said, “Auntie, the Lord Jesus we have longed for has returned. He has been incarnated and has done a stage of new work of judgment and chastisement. The words in this book are all God’s personal utterance. Please read God’s words and investigate His work of the last days.” Having spoken, she handed the book to me. I shot a quick glance at the book but didn’t accept, thinking, “Is this God’s utterance? Has God done a stage of new work of judgment and chastisement? That’s not right. It goes against the Bible. Doesn’t it depart from the Bible? God’s words are all in the Bible. The book in their hands is not the Bible. How could they say these words are God’s words?” So, I said to them firmly, “Just now you talked about the church’s desolation, I feel it’s reasonable. But you said the Lord Jesus has come back and expressed new words, and that the words in this book are God’s words, how could it be possible? God’s word and work are all in the Bible. There is no God’s work and word outside the Bible. Apart from the Bible, I won’t believe anything. Speak no more!” Then the sister asked me, “Auntie, are we really sure that there is no God’s work and word outside the Bible? John 21:25 records, ‘And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.’ From this, we can see God’s work and word are not completely recorded in the Bible. The Bible just recorded a very limited portion of them. God is who He is and is the living water of life. God can create the heavens and earth and all things, and even more can rule everything. Can the Bible thoroughly clarify God’s deeds? We confine God’s work and word to the Bible, saying there is no God’s work and word outside the Bible, don’t we regard God as too small?” Though these words of the sister were reasonable, I wasn’t convinced. I turned my head aside, without saying anything. The other sister asked me, “Auntie, which, you say, came first, God or the Bible? Which is greater, the Bible or God? Which do we believe in, God or the Bible? The Lord Jesus said: ‘Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me’ (John 5:39). Actually, what the Bible recorded was the previous work God has done, and it is a media by which we know God’s previous work. So, the Lord Jesus said the Bible is only a testimony to Him. But He didn’t say His word and work are all recorded in the Bible, that there was no His word and work outside the Bible. We all know God’s work is always new and never old. When the Lord Jesus came to do His work, the Old Testament was out of date. If man holds on to it, he is resisting God. Likewise, in the last days, the Lord has come again and done the new work and expressed new words, so the New Testament is out of date. If we confine God’s word and work to the Bible, not reading His new word, we will easily commit the same mistake of the Pharisees resisting God.” After hearing their words, I was in a quandary. I felt their words made sense, but I then called to mind that the preacher often told us the Bible was all inspired by God, and the Bible was all the word of God. The Lord Jesus has ever said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). Moreover, over these years, believers in the Lord Jesus hold onto the Bible like this. Since I believed in the Lord, I have always read and recited the Bible, and preached to brothers and sisters in this way. Aren’t we really wrong? It’s impossible. But I should treat the preachers who preach the Lord has come with love, which is after the Lord’s heart. At that moment, I felt somewhat fretful and wanted to quiet and think it over. So, I moderated the tones of my voice and said to the two sisters, “Sisters, it’s getting late today. Let’s end it here. Since you said this book is God’s word, then I will take it and have a look. Let’s commune another day.” The two sisters happily left the book to me and went away. After dinner, I was washing the bowls while staring blankly. What the two sisters asked me in the day lingered in my mind all the time: Which came first, God or the Bible? Which is the greater, God or the Bible? Their words make me puzzled. I haven’t thought these questions although I’ve believed in the Lord for so many years. I must search the Bible and make them clear. After washing the bowls, I knelt on the bedroom floor and prayed to the Lord, “Oh, Lord! Today two sisters came and told me You have returned and moreover, You have expressed new words and done a new work. I feel what they said is reasonable. However, aren’t all of Your work and words in the Bible? What’s going on? Lord, please enlighten me and open my spiritual eyes so that I can understand Your will. If You really have come back, may You help me to guard my tongue from blaspheming You. Pray in the name of the Lord Jesus. Amen!” After my prayer, I sat in front of the desk and opened the Bible. When I read Genesis, I thought: Genesis was written by Moses. When was Moses born? I saw Moses’ birth was recorded in Exodus, that is to say, when God created the heavens and earth and all things, the Bible didn’t exist. And there was no Bible when the world was destroyed by flood and when the Israelites went out of Egypt. Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy were all written after Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. It was then two thousand years after God created the heavens and earth and all things. At that time, there was no book of prophecy, but the Five Books of Moses. That is, God didn’t create the heavens and earth and all things according to the Bible. The work of destroying the world with a flood and burning Sodom were not according to the Bible, either. They were recorded by Moses after God had done the work. That proves that God’s work came first and then the record of the Bible. Thus, the viewpoint that God’s word and work are all in the Bible and there is no God’s work and word outside the Bible is not consistent with the fact. Now, our church indeed has no work of the Holy Spirit, and we have no new light when reading the Bible. Has God really done a new work and expressed new words outside the Bible? But the preachers said God’s work and word were in the Bible, I also told the same thing to brothers and sisters. Is it really wrong? At that moment, I felt conflicted, walking to and fro in the room. Sometimes I read the Bible, and sometimes the book the sisters gave to me, not knowing what to do. So, I came before the Lord again asking Him to lead me. After praying, I realized: If this book really is God’s utterance, there must be truth in it and it can resolve all man’s difficulties and issues. Then why don’t I read this book and see whether it can solve my puzzlement? Thinking of this, I opened the book and saw “Concerning the Bible (1)”, “Concerning the Bible (2)”, “Concerning the Bible (3)” and “Concerning the Bible (4)” in the table of contents. Out of curiosity, I opened the book and read: “During the time of Jesus, Jesus led the Jews and all those who followed Him according to the Holy Spirit’s work in Him at the time. He didn’t take the Bible as the basis of what He did, but spoke according to His work; He paid no heed to what the Bible said, nor did He search in the Bible for a path to lead His followers. Right from when He began to work, He spread the way of repentance—a word of which there was absolutely no mention in the prophecies of the Old Testament. Not only did He not act according to the Bible, but He also led a new path, and did new work. Never did He refer to the Bible when He preached. During the Age of Law, no one had ever been able to perform His miracles of healing the sick and casting out demons. His work, His teachings, His authority—no one had done this during the Age of Law. Jesus simply did His newer work, and even though many people condemned Him using the Bible—and even used the Old Testament to crucify Him—His work surpassed the Old Testament; if this were not so, why did people nail Him to the cross? Was it not because it said nothing in the Old Testament of His teaching, and His ability to heal the sick and cast out demons? … To people, it appeared as if His work had no basis, and there was much of it that was at odds with the records of the Old Testament. Is this not folly? Does doctrine need to be applied to the work of God? And must it be according to the foretellings of prophets? After all, which is greater: God or the Bible? Why must God’s work be according to the Bible? Could it be that God has no right to exceed the Bible? Can God not depart from the Bible and do other work? Why did Jesus and His disciples not keep the Sabbath? If He were to keep the Sabbath and practice according to the commandments of the Old Testament, why did Jesus not keep the Sabbath after He came, but instead washed feet, covered head, broke bread, and drank wine? Isn’t this all absent from the commandments of the Old Testament? If Jesus honored the Old Testament, why did He defy these doctrines? You should know which came first, God or the Bible! Being the Lord of the Sabbath, could He not also be the Lord of the Bible?” (“Concerning the Bible (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After reading this passage of words, I felt all these words are reasonable. Yes, when the Lord Jesus did His work, the New Testament didn’t exist. The New Testament of the Bible didn’t come into existence until three hundred years after the Lord Jesus finished His work. So, the Lord Jesus’ work of healing the sick and casting out the demons and the crucifixion was not according to the records of the Bible. Besides, the Old Testament didn’t even mention the work God would do, thus the Lord Jesus’ work and word were outside the Old Testament. This shows that the Bible was produced as God’s work. Before God didn’t do His work, the Bible couldn’t have entire records. These words are indeed quite practical. At this moment, I thought of the words the Lord Jesus has said in the Bible: “However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come” (John 16:13). It is mentioned many times in Revelation: “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7). The Lord said when the Spirit of truth comes, He will tell us all the truth and the future things, which prophesies that the Lord will speak when He comes again. Since these words are not in the Bible, can it be said that there is truly God’s word and work outside the Bible? At that point, I felt puzzled. Then, I read the following two passages. I thought: These words cannot be spoken by any ordinary people. They speak more clearly than the Bible; are they really God’s word? But 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God …” How can we believers in the Lord give up the Bible? At that time, although I had many questions and couldn’t put aside the Bible, I didn’t feel conflicted. I hoped that the two sisters could come again and clear up my confusion. A few days later, the two sisters came again. I told them my thoughts, “After hearing your fellowship last time, I feel it’s reasonable. After you left, I checked the Bible, and these days I read the book you gave to me and understood that God’s work and word came first, and then the Bible. That I think God’s words are all in the Bible is indeed not factual. But I still don’t understand this question: The Bible was all inspired by God and entirely came from God. So, the words in the Bible were all God’s word. And the Lord Jesus has ever said heaven and earth shall pass away but not a stroke of His words shall pass away. But you said that the Bible was out of date, and you didn’t read the Bible. Doesn’t it mean that you’ve abandoned the Bible?” One of the sisters said to me smilingly, “Auntie, ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God,’ is said by Paul not by the Lord Jesus. However, the whole religious world says everything written in the Bible was inspired by God, and was God’s words. Is this viewpoint right? First, what Paul said had no basis, because God had never borne witness to the Bible in this way, nor had the Lord Jesus ever said that the Bible was divine inspiration and was entirely the word of God. Paul’s testimony of the Bible was merely based on his individual knowledge of it; he was not at all speaking on God’s behalf. Only God knows the inside story of the Bible, and we humans of creation have not been able to understand it thoroughly. This is a fact. Today, Almighty God has disclosed the inside story of the Bible. After reading Almighty God’s word, we will be clear. Almighty God says: ‘Today, people believe the Bible is God, and that God is the Bible. So, too, do they believe that all the words of the Bible were the only words God spoke, and that they were all said by God. Those who believe in God even think that although all of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament were written by people, they were all given by inspiration of God, and a record of the utterances of the Holy Spirit. This is the erroneous interpretation of people, and it does not completely accord with the facts. In fact, apart from the books of prophecy, most of the Old Testament is historical record. Some of the epistles of the New Testament come from people’s experiences, and some come from the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit; the Pauline epistles, for example, arose from the work of a man, they were all the result of the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment, and they were written for the churches, were words of exhortation and encouragement for the brothers and sisters of the churches. They were not words spoken by the Holy Spirit—Paul could not speak on behalf of the Holy Spirit, and neither was he a prophet, much less did he see visions. His epistles were written for the churches of Ephesus, Philadelphia, Galatia, and other churches. … If you say that his epistles are the words of the Holy Spirit, then you are absurd, and you are committing blasphemy! The Pauline epistles and the other epistles of the New Testament are equivalent to the memoirs of the more recent spiritual figures. They are on a par with the books of Watchman Nee or the experiences of Lawrence, and so on. It’s simply that the books of recent spiritual figures are not compiled into the New Testament, yet the substance of these people is the same: They were people who were used by the Holy Spirit during a certain period, and they could not directly represent God’ (‘Concerning the Bible (3)’in The Word Appears in the Flesh). ‘Not everything in the Bible is a record of the words personally spoken by God. The Bible simply documents the previous two stages of God’s work, of which one part is a record of the foretellings of the prophets, and one part is the experiences and knowledge written by people used by God throughout the ages. Human experiences are tainted with human opinions and knowledge, which is unavoidable. In many of the books of the Bible are human conceptions, human biases, and human absurd interpretations. Of course, most of the words are the result of the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit, and they are correct interpretations—yet it still cannot be said that they are entirely accurate expressions of the truth. Their views on certain things are nothing more than the knowledge of personal experience, or the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. The foretellings of the prophets were personally instructed by God: The prophecies of Isaiah, Daniel, Ezra, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel came from the direct instruction of the Holy Spirit, these people were seers, they had received the Spirit of prophecy, they were all prophets of the Old Testament. During the Age of Law these people, who had received the inspirations of Jehovah, spoke many prophecies, which were directly instructed by Jehovah’ (‘Concerning the Bible (3)’in The Word Appears in the Flesh). From Almighty God’s words, we can see: The Bible isn’t all God’s words. In the Bible, only Jehovah’s and the Lord Jesus’ words are God’s words; the prophets’ predictions in the Old Testament and Revelation are inspired by God. Apart from these, none are inspired by God or are God’s words. Some are the writings of the disciples, and some are historical records. They are all man’s words. This is an undeniable fact. We all know that God’s words are completely accurate without any impurities. But Judas’ death was recorded in the Bible differently. Matthew 27:5 recorded, ‘And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.’ Acts 1:18 said, ‘Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the middle, and all his bowels gushed out.’ These two verses recorded the same thing, but one said he hanged himself while the other said that he burst asunder in the middle. How can this obvious mistake be from God? And about the genealogy of the Lord Jesus recorded in Matthew, we all know that the Lord Jesus and Joseph have no relations, but Matthew made a genealogy for the Lord Jesus, saying He was the son of Joseph. What did the Lord Jesus say about this? Luke 20: 41-44 recorded, ‘And he said to them, How say they that Christ is David’s son? And David himself said in the book of Psalms, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit you on my right hand, Till I make your enemies your footstool. David therefore calls him Lord, how is he then his son?’ Since David called Him Lord, how could He be his son? The Lord Jesus rejected this saying even at that time, so can it be inspired by God? God is who He is and is the Creator. How can He have a genealogy? Isn’t it from human impurities and good intentions? From the impurities and deviation in the Bible, we can see that not the whole Bible is the inspiration of God or is God’s word. So, we think the Bible is all inspired by God and is all God’s words; this is man’s absurd understanding and doesn’t accord with the fact at all.” Hearing her fellowship, I hurriedly found these verses she said and searched them carefully. After that, I was stunned. Before the ironclad facts, I had to admit that not the whole Bible was the inspiration of God. I thought, “I have believed in God for so many years, knowing the Bible very well, and often expound on the Bible to brothers and sisters, but why didn’t I realize that there are so many obvious deviations in the Bible?” At this time, I had mixed and inexplicable feelings. It was incredible and undeniable that there should be so many incredible problems with the Bible I worshiped. When the other sister saw I was surprised, she said with patience, “Only God knows clearly about these deviations. If Almighty God didn’t disclose them, we wouldn’t know this even if we read the Bible for a lifetime, because we blindly trust the Bible, and regard it as God. Christ of the last days, Almighty God has come and brought new work and new words. We should follow God’s new work and read God’s actual words, only doing this is following God’s footprints.” Hearing their reasonable fellowship, I felt very enlightened and fully convinced. Later, through reading more of Almighty God’s words and fellowshipping with the sisters, I understood many truths that I didn’t know before, and was able to put aside my absurd notion and get a correct understanding of the Bible. Moreover, I was certain that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus and is leading us into all the truths. Now I have come out of the Bible thoroughly, and have accepted God’s work of the last days and followed His footprints. Thank God for saving me. All the glory be to God! The End. If you have other understanding or new light about this article, you’re welcome to have a chat with us via the online chat window at the bottom of the website or send an email to info@findshepherd.com. We Look forward to sharing with more brothers and sisters about your enlightenment from God and growing together in Christ. You may be interested in this article: It’s Not a Dream to Get Rid Of Sins and Enter Into the Kingdom of Heaven!

2017-12-26 04:56:06

Can We Be Justified by Faith? - Bible Study

By Bai Xue Some Christians think that they are no longer sinners, but are justified by believing in the Lord Jesus, and that they will be taken into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord returns. It is written in the Bible, “Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus” (Romans 3:25-26). So they consider that, with Jesus Christ acting as their sin offering, as long as they repent to the Lord, their sins can be forgiven, and thus they can be justified through the redemption of Jesus. However, whether or not we have ever thought: It is true that our sins have been forgiven through our faith in the Lord Jesus, but does this mean that we are righteous men and are no longer of sin? First, we might as well see what the apostle John said about this, “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous” (1 John 3:7). The apostle John warned us not to be enticed by people’s exteriors, and that without doing righteousness, a preacher of righteousness isn’t necessarily righteous only by promoting righteousness, whereas the one doing righteousness as well is sure to be righteous. It is perceived that neither promoting righteousness nor doing righteousness can be absent. However, with neglecting to put righteousness into practice, we only think, as long as we endure to the end, we will be justified by faith and will not be counted as sinners, and also we will surely enter the kingdom of heaven. This viewpoint above doesn’t accord with God’s will, nor is there any proof in the Bible. Next, looking at us, believers in the Lord Jesus today: Although we have some good deeds outwardly after accepting the redemption of the Lord Jesus, such as giving alms and helping others, yet these deeds are still far from proving that we are doing righteousness—merely standing for a good behavior, which can still not correspond to the Lord Jesus. It is because that we, having many corrupt dispositions within, can’t avoid committing sins and resisting God yet. For instance, when we encounter things in our real life, we can’t walk in God’s way or live out His words, filled with selfishness and baseness, crookedness and craftiness, but often reveal corrupt dispositions of arrogance and self-conceit without a heart of reverence for God; when we shepherd the church and suffer hardships to do some work for the Lord’s sake, we can exalt and testify ourselves to be venerated and looked up to; when we serve God, we can attack against each other and raise jealousy and strife between one another to compete for status; in addition, when our labor and sacrifice beget no God’s blessings, we can complain about and misunderstand God; when God’s work is not in accord with our notions, we can judge God; and so on. Aren’t these manifestations above the revelation of corrupt dispositions? With so many sins existing within us, can we be called the righteous? Let’s see what is written in the Bible, “If so be that you have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:21-24). These verses also tell us: Since we have accepted the way of the Lord, we must cast off our former corrupt behaviors, live out the likeness of a new man, and ought not to do abominations any more. We should know the ones God finally will get are those who can live out God’s words and righteousness from the inside out, instead of those who only have a few good behaviors on the surface but are still bound by sins within. We, however, have lots of corrupt satanic dispositions, full of sins. How can we be called righteous people for this reason? It is also recorded in the Bible, “But when the righteous turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All his righteousness that he has done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he has trespassed, and in his sin that he has sinned, in them shall he die” (Ezekiel 18:24). As can be seen from the verse, although we can be justified because of the redemption of the Lord Jesus and our faith in Him, nevertheless this does simply mean that we get an opportunity of being justified from the Lord, rather than represent that we are righteous people. If we can’t seize this opportunity to do righteousness, but live in sin and give free rein to the spread of sin, then how can we become righteous? So faith is inseparable from practice. If we only have faith but no living out in our behaviors, then we can’t receive God’s approval. Thus, the saying of being justified by faith is invalid. Now that we can’t truly be justified by faith, how can we be justified then? In fact, the Lord Jesus has already set the standard of righteous people. It is said in Revelation 19:7-8, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” From this we see that what God says about the standard of righteous people is based on whether we can do righteousness, in other words, it depends on whether we can live out holiness and the image of a just man. Supposing that we fail to do it, then we will not be justified by God. But, as for us, having many Satan’s corrupt dispositions within, we have not changed our life dispositions, full of sins in our living out, so we cannot glorify and manifest God at all, nor can we live out His words. Then how can we act out righteousness? Therefore, we must get rid of our corruption, not living in sin any longer, so that we can become the ones who accept God’s inspection in everything, follow His will and practice according to His words, have a heart of loving and obeying God in all our actions, achieve changes in our disposition, and finally fear God and shun evil. Such people are righteous ones of whom God approves. Just like Job, in all his life he conducted himself in conformity with the Lord’s way, and had a heart of fearing God and shunning evil in everything. Whether trials of hardships or refinements, he could obey God’s orchestration and arrangement without complaints, without his own choices or demands, and could still praise God’s name. So, Job is the one who truly lived out the image of a righteous man and became a perfect man in God’s eyes. We think a man can be justified by faith. In that case, we can weigh whether what we do is the living out of a righteous man. For example, since we believe in and follow God today, whether we have changes in our disposition, whether we still live by the old satanic nature, and whether we have tolerance, patience and love to others on the basis of understanding the principles of the truth; on the other hand, whether we act strictly as words said by God without mixture of our own will, notions and imaginations, and whether all we do can be in accordance with Christ? How many, mentioned above, have we lived out? If we would like to be justified, we must remove our corruption, not living by satanic corrupt disposition any more. Only by breaking away from sin to carry out righteous acts can we get the Lord’s approval. Just like the words in 1 Peter 1:15-16, “But as he which has called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be you holy; for I am holy.” as well as in Hebrews 12:14, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” We all know that God is holy. So, God does not allow any filthy and corrupt things to exist in His kingdom. Only the ones who are purified and saved by God can enter God’s kingdom. If you have other understanding and new light, you’re welcome to have a real-time chat with us via the online chat window at the bottom of the website or send an email to info@findshepherd.com. We’re all ears to your experience and knowledge of belief in the Lord. Looking forward to exchanging our sharing and welcoming the Lord’s second coming together.

2017-11-03 21:51:59

By Ma Xiaoxiao One day, when I preached, I spoke of the great disaster that was going to come. So I exhorted brothers and sisters to attend meetings actively, put more effort in the Bible, and follow the Lord’s way in real life, so that we could watch and wait for the return of the Lord. But I saw some brothers and sisters remain weak and full of doubts whether they could be raptured to the kingdom of heaven. Then I explained, “Brothers and sisters, the Bible says, ‘For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation’ (Rom 10:10). As long as we believe in the Lord in our hearts and confirm our belief in Him with our words, our faith will allow us to obtain eternal salvation. When the Lord comes again, we will surely be raptured to the kingdom of heaven.” Hearing what I said, brothers and sisters were all happy and they had some strength. At this moment, co-worker Zhang stood up and said, “I’m not sure. The Lord Jesus said, ‘But he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven’ (Mat 7:21). This clearly tells us that only those who do the will of God can enter the kingdom of heaven. Although we have been saved, we’re still committing sins during the day and repenting at night. This’s not doing the will of the heavenly Father. I think we still will be unable to enter the kingdom of heaven.” The brothers and sisters were just happy, but a few words of co-worker Zhang quelled their excitement at once. I looked around, thought for a short while, and said hastily, “Brothers and sisters, brother Paul said in the Book of the Galatians 3:26, ‘For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.’ This shows that we believe in the Lord, so we are His children. In that case, we will definitely be able to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Co-worker Zhang took my words, “Brother Ma, I don’t agree with what you’re saying. 1 Peter 1:16 says, ‘Be you holy; for I am holy.’ And Hebrews 12:14 says, ‘and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.’ From these two verses, we can see clearly that God’s substance is holy. Although we have been saved, we often sin and confess, and we don’t become holy. We are unworthy to see the Lord’s face. How can we enter the kingdom of heaven?” At this point, brother Chen stood up. He pointed at the Bible in his hand and said seriously, “Brothers and sisters, apostle Paul already told us clearly in the Book of Romans 8:33–34, ‘Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemns?’ We have been God’s elects. Both our sins of the past and those of the future have been forgiven by the Lord Jesus. He doesn’t see us as sinners. We have been justified, so we will certainly enter the kingdom of heaven. This is undoubtable. I agree with brother Ma’s point.” Co-worker Zhang firmly said, “Brothers and sisters, since the Scripture says, ‘and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord,’ and the Lord Jesus also told us that only those who do the will of the heavenly Father can enter the kingdom of heaven. This is sufficient to prove that only those who attain holiness can enter the kingdom of God. We must keep the Lord’s word.” I said loudly, “My fellow co-workers, on the question of being saved, Paul already told us clearly, ‘For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God’ (Eph 2:8). ‘And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work’ (Rom 11:6). Paul’s words are very clear. The Lord’s salvation is freely given to us and does not depend on our works. If this depends on our works, then is that called the Lord’s grace? Now we can rely on the Lord’s grace to be saved into the kingdom of heaven.” Brother Chen raised his hand and said, “Brother Ma is right. Paul in the book of Timothy also said, ‘Who has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began’ (2Ti 1:9), so we who believe in Jesus can enter the kingdom of heaven based on His grace. If it were based on our works, who then could be saved?” Co-worker Zhang stood up with emotion. He said, “Brothers and sisters, whether we believers can enter the kingdom of heaven is decided by what the Lord Jesus said or what Paul said? Is it the Lord Jesus’ words that have authority or Paul’s words? Do we confess that the Lord Jesus is the truth, the way, and the life?” Everyone looked at each other, and said, “Of course we do!” This word of brother Zhang reminded me. I thought, Right! We believers should focus on the Lord’s words, but why do I keep speaking of Paul’s words? Thinking of this, I calmed down and continued to listen to brother Zhang’s fellowship … Co-worker Zhang said, “Since we confess that the Lord Jesus is the truth, the way, and the life, and what Paul said opposes what our Lord Jesus said, that would explain what Paul said carries tares. It comes from human will and is not the truth. I would rather believe what the Lord Jesus said, ‘But he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.’ This is the sole standard for entering the kingdom of heaven.” At this moment, brother Guo also stood up emotionally. He said, “We believers in God should set the Lord Jesus’ words as the standard. Because the Lord Jesus is the only Lord of the kingdom of heaven. His word is the only truth, the only authority. His word carrying authority means what He said counts. Paul is not the Lord of the kingdom of heaven; his word does not carry authority, nor do they count. Paul is nothing more than an apostle, having a corrupt human nature. He himself need God’s salvation. Whether everyone can enter the kingdom of heaven is still decided by the Lord Jesus. What rights does he have to decide if others can enter the kingdom of heaven?” Seeing everyone nodded their approval, I asked, “Brother Zhang, you’re right. We who believe in the Lord should have the Lord Jesus’ words as the standard. But I do not yet understand the difference between being saved and entering the kingdom of heaven. Could you share your opinion?” Co-worker Zhang said in a calm way, “I’ve studied this aspect of verses over and over again these few days. I think being saved refers to being free from the condemnation of the law, and that it refers to sins being forgiven. But those who have been saved can still resist and oppose God through sinning, so they don’t become holy and they still live under Satan’s domain, while those who can enter the kingdom of heaven ought to be those who do the will of our Father in heaven, who obey God’s words. They are those who know God and submit to God, who are compatible with Him. So, being saved and entering the kingdom of heaven are two different matters. Just as the Lord Jesus said, ‘many are called, but few are chosen’ (Mat 22:14). This shows that people who come and believe in the Lord are many, but few can enter the kingdom of heaven in the end. It also manifests God’s righteous disposition.” Brother Guo also said, “I agree with brother Zhang’s point of view. The Lord Jesus said, ‘the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force’ (Mat 11:12). We can see from the Lord’s words that entering the kingdom of heaven has its standard. It’s not so easy to enter as we thought. We can’t get into it just by relying on grace. We must work hard to follow the Lord’s way before entering it.” Although what they are saying makes sense, I still have doubt in my heart. Then I said, “To enter the kingdom of heaven, we must do the will of our heavenly Father. This is right. But haven’t we been imitating Paul, forsaking everything for the Lord’s work? Even many brothers and sisters never get married, offering their whole life to the Lord. They cross mountains to preach the gospel of the Lord. It can be said that every Christian suffers a lot and pays much price so as to enter the kingdom of heaven. Is this not doing the will of our heavenly Father? I believe that as long as we carry on like this, we will definitely enter the kingdom of heaven.” Co-worker Zhang put down the Bible in his hand, and he said, “Brothers and sisters, we can study the Bible carefully. The Lord Jesus has never said that if we forsook everything and labored for Him, we would enter the kingdom of heaven. The Lord Jesus only said, ‘But he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.’ I think that those who truly do the will of the heavenly Father should be those who love God with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their mind. They work and suffer for the Lord not in order to covet their own benefits and prospects, but completely to love God and repay His love. They can care for God’s will in everything, and whatever they encounter, they no longer sin or resist God. All that they do is in order to break away from sins and become holy. Only such people who work for the Lord will be qualified to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Brother Guo who was in deep thought said, “Brother Zhang is right! The Bible says, ‘he that does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous’ (1Jn 3:7). The righteous here are not those ‘justified by faith,’ but those who do the works of righteousness and never sin. While we may now lay all aside for the Lord’s work, we still often sin and are not truly righteous. We are not worthy to enter the kingdom of God.” I didn’t agree with his opinion, so I retorted, “But Paul said, ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness …’ (2Ti 4:7–8). We preach the gospel, toil and labor for the Lord, and keep the Lord’s way. Isn’t this doing the will of our heavenly Father?” Co-worker Zhang said very calmly, “Brother Ma, based on your opinion, when the Pharisees traveled over land and sea, suffering much for spreading the gospel everywhere, and having some outward good behaviors, were they then doing the will of our heavenly Father? As we all know, the Pharisees suffered and sacrificed outwardly for God, but they could still oppose God and nail Jesus on the cross. That’s sufficient to prove that outward sufferings and good behaviors do not represent doing the will of our heavenly Father, nor do they represent knowing and submitting to God. In the same way, today we suffer for the Lord, we have some good behaviors outwardly, but we can still sin often and resist God. We are still not those who do the will of our heavenly Father, and still not worthy to enter the kingdom of heaven!” At his words, I was utterly convinced. It is a fact that we all live in sin. When we work for the Lord, we still have our personal intentions and viewpoints of exchange, as well as a desire for blessings. This is also a fact. Everyone heatedly shared their own views and knowledge on this topic. When our gathering was nearing its end, I said happily to the others, “Brothers and sisters, Thank God. This debate today allows us to understand that being saved isn’t equivalent to entering the kingdom of heaven. It turns around my incorrect point of view. We can’t be saved by relying on grace. I realized that no matter how we believe in God and labor for the Lord, as long as our sins remain, we can’t truly achieve doing the will of God. So we can’t be approved by God, nor can we enter the kingdom of God. It can be seen that God is the God who is holy and righteous. We can’t always believe in God with our own notions and imaginations but should pursue according to the standard for entering the kingdom of heaven that God requires of us. Only in this way, can we finally act in harmony with God’s will, and can our belief in God be approved by Him.” Brothers and sisters all nodded their heads and agreed … If you have other understanding or new light about this article, you’re welcome to have a chat with us via the online chat window at the bottom of the website or send an email to info@findshepherd.com. We Look forward to sharing with more brothers and sisters about your enlightenment from God and growing together in Christ. You may be interested in this article: Preacher’s Confusion: Why Can’t Be Raptured Into the Kingdom of Heaven Only by Working Hard?