By Qiao Ning
The greatest longing for those of us who believe in the Lord is to enter the heavenly kingdom, and so we often imagine how beautiful it must be there. Of course, we are also confident about our entry into heaven, for it says in: “In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14). We therefore believe that our sins are forgiven after we have faith in the Lord, and that we are then no longer sinful. We also believe that, when the Lord comes, we will immediately be raised up into the heavenly kingdom. This is also what I longed for before. But later, after fellowshiping and discussing this matter with my brothers and sisters, I came to understand what is forgiveness of sin and had a different understanding of whether forgiveness of sin means we can be raised up into God’s kingdom. Here I’d like to fellowship what I gained with you all …
First of all, we need to understand something: What exactly does it mean to have our sins forgiven? When it comes to this matter, we all know that God proclaimed His laws and commandments through Moses in the Age of Law. By means of the laws, He made people aware of sin, and He allowed the people of that time to know how to live on earth, how to live alongside others and that, if they sinned, they would suffer God’s punishment. Only by offering a sacrifice to Jehovah God could their sins be forgiven. Just as the Bible says, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying, If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of Jehovah concerning things which ought not to be done, and shall do against any of them: If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he has sinned, a young bullock without blemish to Jehovah for a sin offering” (Leviticus 4:2–3). Although the sins of mankind could be forgiven by making the sin offering, at the end of the Age of Law, mankind was becoming more and more corrupted by Satan, and so they were unable to observe God’s laws, there was no longer any sin offering they could make that could redeem them, and they were all in danger of being put to death by the laws.
God was unwilling to see us all put to death by the laws, and so He became flesh and worked among man in the form of the. He preached the gospel of the heavenly kingdom and He asked people to repent and confess their sins, until finally He was nailed to the cross and became the sin offering for all mankind. It’s just as it says in the Bible, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of once for all. And every priest stands daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins” (Hebrews 10:10–11). Because of the Lord’s redemption, our sins were forgiven, and we escaped the danger of being put to death by the laws. Whenever we recall these deeds, we feel such an incredible sense of warmth in our hearts, for it was the mercy and lenience of God that allowed us, mankind, to survive until this very day. The Bible says, “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). It is clear that our sins were forgiven because the Lord Jesus redeemed us by being crucified for our sake. We were then no longer condemned by God’s laws and God no longer regarded us as sinful, and we finally became qualified to come before God and pray to Him, to confess our sins and repent, and enjoy the abundance of grace that God bestowed on us. This is the true meaning of having our sins forgiven.
Our sins were forgiven by the Lord and God no longer regarded us as sinful. This did not mean, however, that we had become free from sin and filth. If we think about it carefully, though we may believe in the Lord, are able to toil and work hard for the Lord and we appear to behave well on the outside, we still live lives whereby we sin in the daytime and confess our sins at night—we have neither cast off the corruption of our flesh nor freed ourselves from Satan’s influence. To list just a few examples: When other people do something which goes against our interests, we always put our own interests first because of our selfish and contemptible nature, and hatred can arise in us toward other people, and we become simply unable to love our neighbor as we love ourselves; when we want to putinto practice and be honest people, we involuntarily try to deceive and cheat others for the sake of our own interests; we know perfectly well that the Lord asks us to be humble, and yet we are often arrogant and conceited, and we don’t listen to anyone; we know perfectly well that the Lord Jesus said that we cannot serve the Lord and Mammon both, and yet we are still capable of being possessed by wealth and material pleasures, sometimes we don’t regularly say our prayers or attend gatherings, and some brothers and sisters even follow the trends of the world and become false believers who are Christians in name only…. Don’t these behaviors prove that we’re still living under Satan’s power, and living amidst corruption and sin? How could we, covered all over with filth as we are, look upon the face of God? It says in the Bible: “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). The Lord speaks very clearly here. We live within a vicious cycle of sinning and confessing, we are the servants of sin, and God will not let us enter into His kingdom.
God says, “Be you holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Revelation 14:5 says: “And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.” And Revelation 3:18 says: “I counsel you to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” We can see from God’s words and from the prophecies of Revelation that God is holy, and that only those who are purified by God and who cast off all filth and corruption can enter into God’s kingdom. Similarly, we know it to be a fact that it is impossible for us to cast off the bondage of sin merely by relying on ourselves. May I ask, who among us brothers and sisters in the Lord wishes to live in sin? Judging by our own personal wishes, there is not one of us who wishes to live in sin. And yet we are always involuntarily committing sins and then confessing them and feeling extremely pained and helpless. Therefore, if we want to rid ourselves of the bonds and constraints of sin and be purified, we need God’s further salvation.
Through a careful examination of the Bible, we can see that it is prophesied in many places that the Lord shall perform the work of judgment in the last days to save mankind, e.g. in the First Epistle of Peter 4:17, it says: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.” It says in John 12:47-48: “And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 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.” And in John 16:8, it says: “And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” From these scriptures, we can see that the work of judgment beginning with the house of God in the last days shall be done by the returned Lord Jesus, and the roots of sin and sinful natures we carry within us must undergo God’s judgment and chastisement before they can be utterly expunged.
But how will God perform His work of judgment and chastisement, and how should we experience it? The Bible does not clearly state the answers to these questions, but the Lord prophesied long ago: “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). “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 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 16:12–13). “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:11). We can see from these prophecies that the Lord yet has many things to tell us, and that the Spirit of truth shall come in the last days to tell us all truths and mysteries, to judge our sins and show us the way to be free of sin. What we must do at this crucial time is take heed to listen to the words spoken by God and seek and study God’s work of judgment in the last days, for only by doing this can we be as the wise virgins and welcome the coming of the Lord, feast with the Lord, be purified by God and be led into God’s kingdom.
Dear brothers and sisters, may we all say this prayer to the Lord:
“O Lord! I ask that You guide us and enable us to hear the words You utter and welcome Your return in the last days …”
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