By Piao Huimin, South Korea
I am a Christian and I often attended church gatherings. Every Sunday, Pastor Jin as usual would preach animatedly from the pulpit, saying, “We can now see from all manner of signs that the day of the Lord’s coming is drawing ever closer. At this crucial time, some brothers and sisters have begun to feel apprehensive about whether or not they will be able to enter the heavenly kingdom. They say they do not love the Lord enough, that they are unable to put the Lord’s words into practice and they live in inescapable sin, and so on and so forth. I consider these apprehensions to be unnecessary. Just before thebreathed His last breath on the cross, He said, ‘It is finished.’ This shows that God’s work to save mankind is totally completed, that our sins have been forgiven by the Lord Jesus, that we have been graced and saved and, when the Lord comes, we will immediately be raised up into heaven! We absolutely must not lose faith in our entry into heaven….” Each time I heard Pastor Jin say this, though I’d always yearned for the Lord to come to receive us into heaven, I also couldn’t help but wonder: Will it really be as Pastor Jin says? Can we really be raised up into heaven when the Lord comes?
I don’t know when it started, but at some point, my life and my belief became separated. In my life, our differing views meant that I would often end up arguing with my mother-in-law, and as time went on, I developed a dislike for her and began to avoid her. This was the case with my husband as well. Because he would often make demands of me, I would complain that he had no respect or consideration for me. I knew that the Lord taught that we had to love each other, and I prayed and repented to the Lord many times. But every time I clashed heads with them, I still couldn’t help but resent them, and being like this to my own family meant that I was even worse to people outside my family. The Lord Jesus said, “But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15). And Hebrews 10:26 says, “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins.” Every time I read these words, I would feel worried and afraid. I was unable to put the Lord’s teachings into practice and I was committing sins in full awareness. By doing this, surely there was no longer any sin offering I could make to atone for my sins? And so, I felt both pained and bewildered.
One day in July, I met someone named Brother Li, who was from another church, at my friend’s home. Because we were all believers in the Lord, we chatted very congenially together. When we spoke about the darkness and wickedness in today’s society and about how people all live in sin, Brother Li said that the root cause was that, after Satan corrupted mankind, we all began to live within the corrupt dispositions of Satan, and we became arrogant and conceited, crooked and deceitful, selfish and contemptible, and we began to scheme against each other for the sake of profit, and we began to fight one another and not listen to anyone else. This resulted in people being unable to live peacefully with each other, including people who believe in the Lord. I fully agreed with what Brother Li said and I was left deeply affected by his words. Afterward, Brother Li talked about God’s intentions behind destroying the world with flood and destroying Sodom with fire, and he talked about the significance of God taking a different name in each age, as well as the mystery of, among other things. I’d believed in the Lord for many years, but this was the first time I’d heard anyone fellowship about such things. Brother Li spoke rationally and what he said tallied with . What he said was full of light and it felt entirely fresh and new to my ears. I thought to myself: We all believe in the Lord, so how come Brother Li knows so much? I must listen attentively to what he says! Not long after, Brother Li talked about God launching His six-thousand-year work of salvation to save mankind, and he talked about the inside story of Jehovah’s work in the Age of Law and the Lord Jesus’ work in the Age of Grace, and he talked about the prophecies in the Bible that say God will perform a stage of work of judgment, chastisement and purification of man in the last days. He said that, after mankind has been purified, we can then be brought by God into the kingdom, and he said excitedly, “Sister, the Lord Jesus whom we’ve long yearned for has returned already as the incarnated . He is currently carrying out the work of judgment beginning in God’s house, and this is God’s last stage of work …”
When I heard that God still had to perform a stage of work of purifying man, my heart began to race, and I thought: How could there still be a stage of work of judgment? When the Lord Jesus was crucified, He clearly said, ‘It is finished,’ meaning that God’s work was completed, that we have been graced and saved and that, when the Lord returns, we will immediately be raised up into heaven. There can’t possibly be any new work. Thinking this, I said to Brother Li, “I’ve heard many pastors preach and I’ve never heard that the Lord Jesus still has a stage of work to perform when He returns. Also, when Jesus was crucified, He said, ‘It is finished,’ and this shows that the work to save mankind was completed. How could there then be a work of judgment in the last days? I can’t get my head around what you’re saying.” Brother Li smiled and continued his fellowship, but none of it sunk in, so I made an excuse and left my friend’s home.
When I got home that evening, I couldn’t figure it out no matter how I tried to think about it: How could the Lord be doing a new work? But then I thought of how Brother Li gave such an enlightened fellowship. I’d never before heard anyone fellowship so clearly and in such detail about God’s work and about His intention to save mankind. The next day, my friend asked me to go with her to The Church of Almighty God to look into this way, but I said to her, “I don’t want to go. They say the Lord has returned and that He is performing a new stage of work, but I don’t think this is possible.” My friend advised me, saying, “Only The Church of Almighty God is now testifying that the Lord has returned, and when it comes to welcoming the Lord’s return, we must tread very cautiously and investigate it thoroughly! What’s more, Brother Li’s fellowship was enlightened, and this is something the pastors in our church cannot compare with. I think we should look into it first and then decide. This would be a relatively sound way to go about it.” My friend spoke very reasonably; if I didn’t go investigate this way, how then would I ever know whether it was true or not? And so, I went with my friend to The Church of Almighty God.
When we got there, we were warmly welcomed by Brother Li and two church sisters. One of the sisters then asked me, “Sister, you can ask us about anything you’re confused about or anything you don’t understand. The words of Almighty God can answer all our questions.” I said, “Before the Lord Jesus breathed His last breath on the cross, He said, ‘It is finished.’ I believe this shows that God’s work to save mankind was then completed and that there cannot be any more work. Why then do you say that God is performing new work in the last days? Please can you fellowship about this with me?”
The sister gave fellowship, saying, “We have always believed that when the Lord Jesus said, ‘It is finished’ upon the cross, He meant that God’s work to save mankind was completed, and that when the Lord returned He would immediately raise us up into heaven and that God would perform no new works. But have we ever considered whether or not this view accords with? Has God’s work really finished? Can we be raised up by the Lord into heaven simply by having our sins forgiven? The words of Almighty God provide us with answers to these questions. Let’s read them together. God’s word says, ‘At the time Jesus’ work was the redemption of 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.’ ‘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, for man still has a corrupt disposition.’”
The sister then gave fellowship, saying, “We know from the words of Almighty God that the primary work of the Lord Jesus’ incarnation was the crucifixion, to use His holy, innocent flesh as a sin offering to redeem us from our sins. As long as we then prayed in the Lord’s name, and we confessed and repented our sins to Him, then our sins were forgiven, we were no longer subject to being condemned by the law and we were able to enjoy the abundance of grace the Lord bestowed upon us. This is the true meaning of being graced and saved in our belief in the Lord, and it is what the Lord Jesus specifically meant when He said, ‘It is finished.’ Although our sins were forgiven, however, we have not cast off our sinful nature and we are capable of frequently revealing corrupt dispositions, such as arrogance, deceit, selfishness, greed, and maliciousness. We live going around and around in circles, sinning in the daytime and confessing at night, utterly incapable of casting off the shackles of our sin. If these satanic corrupt dispositions remain unresolved, then although our sins may be forgiven, we will have no way to become compatible with God and will still be capable of doing things against God. In the Bible, God is recorded as saying, ‘Be you holy; for I am holy’ (1 Peter 1:16). ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant stays not in the house for ever: but the son stays ever’ (John 8:34–35). God is righteous and holy, so how then will God permit people like us, who have only been redeemed by the Lord Jesus, who still have our satanic nature deeply rooted within us and have never been able to rid ourselves of sin, to enter into His kingdom? Therefore, God performs a work of judgment and purification upon the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption, and only by undergoing God’s judgment and chastisement and being cleansed of our corrupt dispositions can we be qualified to enter into the heavenly kingdom. From this, we can therefore see that when the Lord Jesus said, ‘It is finished’ upon the cross, He just meant that God’s work to redeem mankind was completed, and not that God’s work to save mankind was entirely over. Revelation prophesies, ‘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 21:6). When God’s work of judgment in the last days is completed and we have been thoroughly purified by God and have entered into God’s kingdom, only then will the words ‘It is done’ be fulfilled, and only then will God’s entire management plan be completed.”
and the sister’s fellowship allowed me to understand that, when the Lord Jesus said, “It is finished,” He just meant that the work of the cross was completed, and not that God’s work of salvation was totally finished. God has not yet performed the work of purifying and changing man and the root problem of our sinfulness has not yet been resolved. No wonder I couldn’t help myself from hating other people no matter how I prayed, repented or confessed to the Lord. I thought of Hebrews 12:14 that says: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” Yes, I thought. God is holy, and only after man has been purified will we be able to look upon His face. We yet have many sins that have not been resolved and we are not able to be compatible with God, so we definitely cannot yet enter into the heavenly kingdom.