2. The essential differences between the salvation in the Age of Grace and the salvation in the Age of Kingdom
Relevant Words of God:
At the time, Jesus’ work was the work to redeem all mankind. The sins of all who believed in Him were forgiven; as long as you believed in Him, He would redeem you; if you believed in Him, you were no longer of sin, 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.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Vision of God’s Work (2)
As soon as the second stage of God’s work was completed—after the crucifixion—God’s work of recovering man from sin (which is to say, recovering man from the hands of Satan) was accomplished. And so, from that moment onward, mankind had only to accept the Lord Jesus as the Savior, and his sins would be forgiven. Nominally speaking, the sins of man were no longer a barrier to his achieving salvation and coming before God, and were no longer the leverage by which Satan accused man. That is because God Himself had done real work, had become the likeness and foretaste of sinful flesh, and God Himself was the sin offering. In this way, man descended from the cross, and was redeemed and saved through the flesh of God—the likeness of this sinful flesh.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Man Can Only Be Saved Amidst God’s Management
A sinner such as you, who has just been redeemed, and has not been changed, or been perfected by God, can you be after God’s heart? For you, you who are still of your old self, 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 you 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. You, a sinner who has just been redeemed, are therefore incapable of directly inheriting God’s inheritance.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Concerning Appellations and Identity
The work of the last days is to speak words. Great changes can be effected in man by means of words. The changes now effected in these people upon their accepting these words are much greater than those effected in people upon their accepting the signs and wonders of the Age of Grace. For, in the Age of Grace, the demons were cast out from man with the laying on of hands and prayer, but the corrupt dispositions within man still remained. Man was healed of his sickness and forgiven his sins, but as for just how man was to be purged of the corrupt satanic dispositions within him, this work had yet to be done. Man was only saved and forgiven his sins for his faith, but the sinful nature of man was not extirpated and still remained within him. The sins of man were forgiven through the agency of the incarnate God, but this did not mean that man no longer had sin within him. The sins of man could be forgiven through the sin offering, but as for just how man can be made to sin no more, and how his sinful nature may be extirpated completely and transformed, he has no way of solving this problem. The sins of man were forgiven, and this is because of the work of God’s crucifixion, but man continued to live within his corrupt satanic disposition of old. This being so, man must be completely saved from his corrupt satanic disposition, so that his sinful nature may be completely extirpated, never to develop again, thus enabling the disposition of man to be transformed. This would require man to grasp the path of growth in life, to grasp the way of life, and to grasp the way to change his disposition. Furthermore, it would require man to act in accordance with this path, so that his disposition may gradually be changed and he may live under the shining of the light, so that all that he does may be in accord with the will of God, so that he may cast away his corrupt satanic disposition, and so that he may break free from Satan’s influence of darkness, thereby emerging fully from sin. Only then will man receive complete salvation. At the time that Jesus was doing His work, man’s knowledge of Him was still vague and unclear. Man always believed Him to be the son of David, and proclaimed Him to be a great prophet, the benevolent Lord who redeemed man’s sins. Some, on the strength of their faith, were healed just from touching the edge of His garment; the blind could see and even the dead could be restored to life. However, man was unable to discover the corrupt satanic disposition deeply rooted within himself, neither did he know how to cast it away. Man received much grace, such as the peace and happiness of the flesh, the faith of one member bringing blessing on an entire family, the healing of sickness, and so on. The rest were the good deeds of man and his godly appearance; if someone could live on the basis of these, they were considered an acceptable believer. Only believers of this kind could enter heaven after death, which meant that they were saved. But, in their lifetime, these people did not understand at all the way of life. All they did was to commit sins and then confess their sins in a constant cycle without any path to change their disposition: Such was the condition of man in the Age of Grace. Has man received complete salvation? No! 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 management plan for man’s salvation.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)
The significance of belief in God is to be saved, so what does being saved mean? “Being saved,” “breaking away from the dark influence of Satan”—people talk about these topics often, but they do not know what being saved means. What does being saved mean? It relates to God’s will. Simply speaking, to be saved means you can keep on living, and that you are brought back to life. So before that, are you dead? You can speak, and you can breathe, so how can you be said to be dead? (The spirit is dead.) Why is it said that people are dead if their spirit is dead? What is the basis for this saying? Under whose domain do people live before they have attained salvation? (Under the domain of Satan.) And what do people rely on to live under Satan’s domain? They rely on their satanic nature and corrupt dispositions to live. When a person lives by these things, is their whole being—their flesh, and all other aspects such as their soul and their thought—alive or dead? From God’s point of view, they are dead. On the surface, you appear to be breathing and thinking, but everything you are constantly thinking about is evil; you think about things that are in defiance of God and in rebellion against God, things that God detests, hates, and condemns. In God’s eyes, all these things not only belong to the flesh, but they entirely belong to Satan and to devils. So what are people in God’s eyes? Are they humans? No, they are not. God sees them as devils, as animals, and as Satans, living Satans! People live by the things and the essence of Satan, and in God’s eyes, they themselves are living Satans wearing human flesh. God defines such people as walking corpses; as dead people. God does His current work of salvation to take such people—these walking corpses who live by their corrupt satanic dispositions and by their corrupt satanic essence—He takes these so-called dead people and turns them into the living. This is what it means to be saved.
The point of believing in God is to attain salvation. Being saved means that you turn from a dead person into a living person. The implication of this is that your breath is revived, and you are alive; you are able to know God, and you are able to bow down to worship Him. In your heart you have no further resistance against God; you no longer defy Him, attack Him, or rebel against Him. Only people like these are genuinely alive in God’s eyes. If someone just says they acknowledge God, are they then one of the living or not? (No, they aren’t.) So what kind of people are the living? What sort of reality do the living possess? At the very least, the living can speak human language. What is that? It means the words they utter involve ideas, thoughts, and discernment. What things do the living frequently think about and do? They are able to engage in human activities and fulfill their duties. What is the nature of what they do and say? It is that everything they reveal, everything they think, and everything they do is done with the nature of fearing God and shunning evil. To put it more aptly, as one of the living, your every deed and every thought are not condemned by God or detested and rejected by God; rather, they are approved and commended by God. This is what the living do, and it is also what the living should do.
—“Only If One Is Truly Obedient Can They Have True Faith” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
If people wish to become living beings and to bear testimony to God, and to be approved of by God, then they must accept God’s salvation; they must gladly submit to His judgment and chastisement and must gladly accept the pruning of God and being dealt with by Him. Only then will they be able to put all of the truths required by God into practice, and only then will they gain God’s salvation and truly become living beings. The living are saved by God; they have been judged and chastised by God, they are willing to devote themselves and are happy to lay down their lives for God, and they would gladly dedicate their whole lives to God. Only when the living bear testimony to God can Satan be shamed; only the living can spread the gospel work of God, only the living are after God’s heart, and only the living are real people. Originally the man made by God was alive, but because of Satan’s corruption man lives amid death and lives under the influence of Satan, and so, in this way, people have become the spiritless dead, they have become enemies who oppose God, they have become the tools of Satan, and they have become the captives of Satan. All the living people created by God have become dead people, and so God has lost His testimony, and He has lost mankind which He created and which is the only thing that has His breath. If God is to take back His testimony and take back those who were made by His own hand but who have been taken captive by Satan, then He must resurrect them so that they become living beings, and He must reclaim them so that they live in His light. The dead are those who have no spirit, those who are numb in the extreme and who oppose God. They are foremost those who do not know God. These people have not the slightest intention of obeying God; they only rebel against Him and oppose Him and have not the slightest loyalty. The living are those whose spirits have been reborn, who know to obey God, and who are loyal to God. They are possessed of the truth, and of testimony, and these people alone are pleasing to God in His house.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Are You Someone Who Has Come to Life?
Everything that God does is necessary and possessed of extraordinary significance, for all that He does in man concerns His management and the salvation of mankind. Naturally, the work that God did in Job is no different, even though Job was perfect and upright in the eyes of God. In other words, regardless of what God does or the means by which He does it, regardless of the cost, regardless of His objective, the purpose of His actions does not change. His purpose is to work God’s words into man, as well as God’s requirements and will for man; in other words, it is to work into man all that God believes to be positive in accordance with His steps, enabling man to understand God’s heart and comprehend God’s essence, and allowing man to obey God’s sovereignty and arrangements, thus allowing man to attain fear of God and shunning of evil—all of this is one aspect of God’s purpose in all He does. The other aspect is that, because Satan is the foil and service object in God’s work, man is often given to Satan; this is the means God uses to allow people to see in Satan’s temptations and attacks the wickedness, ugliness, and contemptibility of Satan, thus causing people to hate Satan and be able to know and recognize that which is negative. This process allows them to gradually free themselves from Satan’s control and accusations, interference, and attacks—until, thanks to God’s words, their knowledge and obedience of God, and their faith in God and fear of Him, they triumph over the attacks and accusations of Satan; only then will they have been completely delivered from the domain of Satan. People’s deliverance means that Satan has been defeated, it means that they are no longer the food in Satan’s mouth—instead of swallowing them, Satan has relinquished them. This is because such people are upright, because they have faith, obedience, and fear toward God, and because they completely break with Satan. They bring shame upon Satan, they make a coward of Satan, and they utterly defeat Satan. Their conviction in following God, and obedience to and fear of God defeat Satan, and make Satan completely give them up. Only people such as this have truly been gained by God, and it is this which is God’s ultimate objective in saving man. If they wish to be saved, and wish to be completely gained by God, then all those who follow God must face temptations and attacks both great and small from Satan. Those who emerge from these temptations and attacks and are able to fully defeat Satan are those who have been saved by God. This is to say, those who have been saved unto God are those who have undergone God’s trials, and who have been tempted and attacked by Satan an untold number of times. Those who have been saved unto God understand God’s will and requirements, and are able to acquiesce to God’s sovereignty and arrangements, and they do not forsake the way of fearing God and shunning evil amid Satan’s temptations. Those who are saved unto God possess honesty, they are kindhearted, they differentiate between love and hate, they have a sense of justice and are rational, and they are able to care for God and treasure all that is of God. Such people are not bound, spied upon, accused, or abused by Satan; they are completely free, they have been completely liberated and released. Job was just such a man of freedom, and this is precisely the significance of why God had handed him over to Satan.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II
When people have yet to be saved, their lives are often interfered with, and even controlled by, Satan. In other words, people who have not been saved are prisoners to Satan, they have no freedom, they have not been relinquished by Satan, they are not qualified or entitled to worship God, and they are closely pursued and viciously attacked by Satan. Such people have no happiness to speak of, they have no right to a normal existence to speak of, and moreover they have no dignity to speak of. Only if you stand up and do battle with Satan, using your faith in God and obedience to, and fear of God as the weapons with which to fight a life-and-death battle with Satan, such that you fully defeat Satan and cause it to turn tail and become cowardly whenever it sees you, so that it completely abandons its attacks and accusations against you—only then will you be saved and become free. If you are determined to fully break with Satan, but are not equipped with the weapons that will help you defeat Satan, then you will still be in danger; as time goes on, when you have been so tortured by Satan that there is not an ounce of strength left in you, yet you have still been unable to bear testimony, have still not completely freed yourself of Satan’s accusations and attacks against you, then you will have little hope of salvation. In the end, when the conclusion of God’s work is proclaimed, you will still be in the grip of Satan, unable to free yourself, and thus you will never have a chance or hope. The implication, then, is that such people will be completely in Satan’s captivity.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II