Question 12: Most people in the religious world believe that the Lord Jesus saying “It is finished” upon the cross is proof that God’s work of salvation is already completely finished. And yet you testify that the Lord has returned in the flesh to express the truth and to do the work of judgment beginning with God’s house in order to save people utterly. So exactly how should one understand God’s work to save mankind? We are unclear on this aspect of the truth, so please fellowship this for us.
Most people in the religious world think: When the Lord Jesus was crucified and said before He expired “It is finished,” this proved that God’s work of salvation was entirely complete, and there would be no more work. Thus, upon hearing that God is doing a new stage of work in the last days, many people absolutely deny it. They think it an impossible thing. Well, when it comes down to it, what is the truth of the matter? When the Lord Jesus was crucified, did it or did it not represent that God’s work of saving mankind was entirely “finished”? Did the Lord saying “It is finished” mean that all the Lord’s work of redeeming mankind was accomplished, or did it mean that all God’s work of saving mankind was accomplished?
Let us imagine: If the Lord Jesus on the cross saying “It is finished” meant that all God’s work of saving mankind was complete, then could God still prophesy to us later work of salvation? Certainly not! On this point every brother and sister must agree. And it is well known, all the prophecies in the Book of Revelation are about God’s work of salvation in the last days, as in Revelation chapter 1 verses 1 to 3, which read: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to show to his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel to his servant John: Who bore record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” In the Book of Revelation, Jesus Christ revealed to John things that would soon come to pass and let him bear record of these things so that we could believe. Revelation chapter 14 verses 6 and 7 also specifically record things God would do in the last days: “And I saw another angel fly in the middle of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” And when He was on earth, the Lord Jesus Himself also prophesied: “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” (Jhn 16:12-13). From these prophecies, we know that in the last days God still has work of salvation to do; that is, in the last days, God will do the work of judgment, and the Spirit of truth will guide us into all truth. Thus we can conclude: The Lord Jesus’ work of being crucified was not the end of all God’s work of salvation, and the Lord Jesus on the cross saying “It is finished” simply meant that His crucifixion accomplished the work of redeeming mankind; it did not mean that all God’s work of saving mankind was complete.
We all know, ever since mankind was corrupted by Satan, God has been doing the work to save mankind. He will save man from Satan’s domain and let man recover his original holiness. He will utterly defeat Satan, seal Satan’s fate. When man is totally delivered from Satan’s influence, delivered from the bondage of sin, cleansed by God, then God’s management work will be totally complete, and God and man together will enter into rest.
God will accomplish this work in stages according to mankind’s developmental needs, working in steps and according to His plan, certainly not blindly or carelessly. God differentiates ages and stages in completing His entire management work of saving mankind. First, God set forth the law through Moses, requiring man to keep the law, so that man knew how to live on earth, at the same time showing man what sin was. Then God, according to mankind’s needs, opened the Age of Grace and incarnated to do the work in person, healing the sick and casting out demons, giving man endless grace, and finally was crucified for man, with His holy flesh as a sin offering, to redeem man out of sin. Man needs only to believe in the Lord, confess sin to the Lord, to be forgiven for his sin. However, although we have received the Lord Jesus’ salvation and our sins have been forgiven, our sinful nature still exists; we go on living cyclical lives of sinning in daytime, confessing at night, with no way to shed the bonds of sin, just as Paul said: “for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Rom 7:18). If even Paul was like this, then what can we of today do? Moreover, the Bible reads: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb 12:14). If this is the case, who among us can see the Lord? We all know, it is written in the Bible: “Who are kept by the power of God through faith to salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1Pe 1:5). “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin to salvation” (Heb 9:28). From these verses we can see: Peter said that there remains a salvation to be revealed in the last days, and Hebrews too clearly reads that Christ will appear a second time to save us, allowing us to be holy enough to see the Lord’s face. This shows the Lord Jesus’ words “It is finished” only meant that His work of being crucified to redeem mankind was complete, not that all of God’s work of salvation was complete. Thus we see, God’s work of saving all of mankind is not yet accomplished. We still need God to come do a stage of work utterly cleansing and changing us; otherwise, we are unworthy to see the Lord’s face.
Almighty God says: “To man, God’s crucifixion concluded the work of God’s incarnation, redeemed all of mankind, and allowed Him to seize the key to Hades. Everyone thinks God’s work has been fully accomplished. In actuality, to God, only a small part of His work has been accomplished. He has only redeemed mankind; He has not conquered mankind, let alone changed the ugliness of Satan in man. That is why God says, ‘Although My incarnate flesh went through the pain of death, that was not the whole goal of My incarnation. Jesus is My beloved Son and was nailed to the cross for Me, but He did not fully conclude My work. He only did a portion of it’” (“Work and Entry (6)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“Though man has been redeemed and forgiven of his sins, it is only considered as God not remembering the transgressions of man and not treating man in accordance with man’s transgressions. However, when man lives in the flesh and he has not been set free from sin, he can only continue to sin, endlessly revealing the corrupt satanic disposition. This is the life that man leads, an endless cycle of sin and forgiveness. The majority of men sin in the day only to confess in the evening. As such, even if the sin offering is forever effective for man, it would not be able to save man from sin. Only half the work of salvation has been completed …” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“You only know that Jesus shall descend during the last days, but how exactly will He descend? 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 have not been changed. For you to be after God’s heart, God must personally do the work of changing and cleansing you; if you are only redeemed, you will be incapable of attaining sanctity. In this way you will be unqualified to share in the good blessings of God, for you have missed out a step in God’s work of managing man, which is the key step of changing and perfecting. And so you, a sinner who has just been redeemed, are incapable of directly inheriting God’s inheritance” (“Concerning Appellations and Identity” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
So, exactly how to make us stop sinning, shed our sinful nature entirely, and become sanctified so that we can see God’s face? Today the words of life that God has expressed in His second incarnation has shown us the path to receiving complete salvation: “The sins of man were forgiven because of the work of God’s crucifixion, but man continued to live in the old, corrupt satanic disposition. As such, man must be completely saved from the corrupt satanic disposition so that the sinful nature of man is completely cast away and never again develops, thus allowing the disposition of man to be changed. This requires man to understand the path of growth in life, the way of life, and the way to change his disposition. It also needs man to act in accordance with this path so that the disposition of man can gradually be changed and he can live under the shining of the light, and that he can do all things in accord with the will of God, cast away the corrupt satanic disposition, and break free from Satan’s influence of darkness, thereby emerging fully from sin. Only then will man receive complete salvation. When Jesus was doing His work, man’s knowledge of Him was still vague and unclear. Man always believed that He was the son of David and proclaimed Him to be a great prophet and the benevolent Lord who redeemed man’s sins. Some, based on faith, became healed just by touching the edge of His garment; the blind could see and even the dead could be restored to life. However, man could not discover the corrupt satanic disposition deeply rooted within him and neither did man know how to cast it away. Man received much grace, such as the peace and happiness of the flesh, the blessing of the entire family upon the faith of one, and the healing of sicknesses, and so on. The rest were the good deeds of man and their godly appearance; if man could live based on such, he was considered a good believer. Only such believers could enter heaven after death, which means that they were saved. But, in their lifetime, they did not understand at all the way of life. They merely committed sins, then made confession in a constant cycle without any path toward a changed disposition; such was the condition of man in the Age of Grace. Has man received complete salvation? No! Therefore, after that stage was complete, there is still the work of judgment and chastisement. This stage makes man pure through the word so as to give man a path to follow. This stage would not be fruitful or meaningful if it continued with the casting out of demons, for the sinful nature of man would not be cast away and man would only stop upon the forgiveness of 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 remains within them and man can still sin and resist God; God has not gained mankind. That is why in this stage of work God uses the word to reveal the corrupt disposition of man and asks man to practice in accordance with the right path. This stage is more meaningful than the previous one and more fruitful as well, 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 stage of work more thorough. Therefore, the incarnation in the last days has completed the significance of God’s incarnation and completely finished God’s management plan for the salvation of man” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“Therefore, man cannot be fully saved from his sins by the healing of sickness and casting out of demons and cannot be fully made complete by the manifestation of signs and wonders. The authority to heal and cast out demons only gives man grace, but the flesh of man still belongs to Satan and the corrupt satanic disposition still remains within man. In other words, that which has not been made clean still belongs to sin and filth. Only after man has been made clean through words can he be gained by God and become sanctified. If no more is done than casting out the demons within man and redeeming him, that is only seizing him from the hands of Satan and returning him to God. However, he has not been made clean or changed by God, and he remains corrupt. Within man still exists filth, opposition and rebelliousness; man has only returned to God through redemption, but man has no knowledge of Him and still resists and betrays God. Before man was redeemed, many of Satan’s poisons were already planted within him. After thousands of years of Satan’s corruption, man already has within him a nature that resists God. Therefore, when man has been redeemed, it is nothing more than redemption, where man is bought at a high price, but the poisonous nature within has not been eliminated. Man that is so defiled must undergo a change before being worthy to serve God. Through this work of judgment and chastisement, man will fully come to know the filthy and corrupt substance within him, and he will be able to completely change and become clean. Only in this way can man be worthy to return before the throne of God. All the work done this day is so that man can be made clean and be changed; through judgment and chastisement by the word, as well as refinement, man can cast away his corruption and be made pure. Rather than deeming this stage of work to be that of salvation, it would be more apt to say it is the work of purification. In truth, this stage is that of conquest as well as the second stage of salvation” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). From Almighty God’s words we see, the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption only forgave the sins of man, but did not forgive man’s corrupt disposition. Within man the disposition corrupted by Satan and the sinful nature still exist. So, based on the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption, God does a higher, more thorough stage of work, which is the work of cleansing mankind through words. God through the judgment of words will utterly dispel our corrupt disposition, making us entirely gained by God. This will finish all God’s work of saving mankind and finish God’s entire management plan. At this time all God’s work of saving mankind will be complete. Just as Revelation says: “And he that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely” (Rev 21:5-6). See, when man’s corrupt disposition is entirely cast off to yield a new man, then God’s work of saving mankind truly is done. This stage of work in the final age will use words to judge, to chastise, to utterly dispel man’s sinful nature. Only through this stage of work can man achieve sanctity and sin no more, thus becoming qualified to see God’s face and enjoy blessedness with God. So, accepting God’s work of judging and cleansing in the last days is the only path for us to gain complete salvation.
from Questions and Answers on the Testimony of the Kingdom Gospel
Now there are some people who point out that the last thing the Lord Jesus said on the cross was, “It is finished.” And then they say: “When the Lord Jesus served as sin offering, He accomplished God’s work of salvation. We have been forgiven our sins because we believe in the Lord Jesus. We have also been justified through faith alone and so we will be able to enter the kingdom of heaven. We just have to wait for the Lord’s rapture.” Or they say: “Everything’s ready, we just need the rapture.” Can this be verified? No, it can’t. We can only verify that our sins have been forgiven. How do we verify it? Regardless of what kind of sin you commit you only need to pray and admit to your sin and you will feel joy, peace, and your spirit will be freed from the bondage of sin. One feels released when he has no sin! So we can say that the sin offering is totally real and is something that all believers in the Lord Jesus can confirm through their experiences. But it is by no means certain to say: “Believing in the Lord Jesus will bring salvation from God and complete separation from sin. If you believe in the Lord Jesus, you’ll be commended by God and will enter the kingdom of heaven.” The Lord Jesus did not say this, and there is no evidence for it. Why is there no evidence? Man’s sins have been forgiven, but can his satanic disposition, the sinful nature, be forgiven? No. Did the Lord Jesus ever say: “Once your sins are forgiven you can enter the kingdom of heaven”? Did the Lord Jesus ever say: “You just need to believe in Me and there’ll be a place for you in the kingdom of heaven”? God has never said that. What did the Lord Jesus say in the Bible? “Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Mat 7:21). So what does “does the will of my Father which is in heaven” refer to? It means you have to do God’s will, follow God’s way, put into practice the way of the truth, that is, God’s word. A person must do whatever God requires him to do and must keep on abiding strictly by God’s instructions, and only then can he enter the kingdom of heaven. But how many people were able to meet God’s requirements in the Age of Grace? Not one. So we can say that the work of the Age of Grace is a stage of work of redemption. It is prophesied in the Bible that when the Lord returns He will do a stage of work of judgment and chastisement to purify all those who come before God. In other words, God is going to undertake a stage of purification work before He ends the age in the last days. And all that the Lord Jesus prophesied about separating the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats, the wise virgins from the foolish virgins, and also those who serve God from those who don’t and good servants from evil servants—all this will come true. According to the Lord Jesus’ prophecy, during the last days God will undertake a stage of work of judging people, purifying people, the work of separating all according to their own kind, as prophesied clearly in the Bible. As it says in the Bible: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1Pe 4:17), and it also mentions the “salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1Pe 1:5), and how the Lord will come to receive those who overcome (see Jhn 14:3), and how the Lord will come like a thief to steal treasures (see Rev 16:15). All these prophecies refer to the work to be done during our Lord’s return. This proves that from the Age of Law to the time of the Lord’s return to end the age, there are three stages of work. This is true, and can be seen in biblical prophecies, in the Book of Revelation. The work of the Age of Grace was the work of redemption—it certainly wasn’t the work of purification to eliminate mankind’s sinful nature. There has not been a believer in the Lord Jesus whose sinful nature has been totally eliminated, not a single one who has not sinned again after being forgiven, not one who has achieved a total transformation of their disposition, not one who has truly known God. These are the facts of the matter. During the Age of Grace mankind believed in God for 2,000 years, but five fundamental problems remained unresolved: First, mankind’s satanic nature toward committing sins was not resolved; second, the issue of mankind revealing satanic disposition remained unresolved; third, the issue of the transformation of each person’s life disposition was not resolved; fourth, the problem of how mankind should know God and obey God was not thoroughly resolved; fifth, the question of how mankind can attain purification was not completely resolved, either. These five fundamental problems remained unresolved, proving that God’s work of the Age of Grace was one stage of work of redemption—and not the final stage of the work of mankind’s salvation. The work of the Age of Grace was paving the way, building the foundations, for the salvation work of the last days.
from The Fellowship From the Above
What exactly does it mean to be saved? People in religion believe that since the last words of the Lord Jesus on the cross were “It is finished,” as long as you have faith in the Lord Jesus and your sins are forgiven, this means you are saved. People in religion misconstrue what God has said because they do not know God’s work. What was the Lord Jesus referring to when He said “It is finished”? He was referring to the completion of God’s work of redemption, and certainly not referring to having finished God’s management plan. Therefore, it is a fact that it is most easy for those who do not know God’s work to misunderstand what He has said, and most easy for them to judge God’s work. So what is salvation after all? Is forgiveness of sin true salvation? No, it only sets a basis for God’s work in the last days, it establishes a foundation. God’s work in saving men is in reality the work of the last days. The work of the last days is established on the basis of the sin offering in the Age of Grace. It is only because there is the sin offering that the sins of man are pardoned and mankind is qualified to come before God to receive His work. It is only with the judgment and chastisement of the last days, the trials and refinement, that man is truly saved and freed from the influence of Satan and from the control of his satanic nature. Only the work of the last days is able to change man’s disposition that has been corrupted by Satan, and able to save man from Satan’s influence, and arrive at the aim of making man turn completely to God. Therefore, if in believing in God man does not experience God’s work in the last days, then he cannot truly arrive at salvation. … God is holy and righteous. After man’s sins have been forgiven, the root of man’s sinning, that is, his satanic nature has not been rid of. If man goes on as usual to resist God and to betray God, is this not offense against the disposition of God? If God raised up to His kingdom a mankind that is still able to resist and betray Him, what would this explain? Would this not indicate that God has deceived Himself? This corrupted mankind is still able to resist God and is still able to nail Christ to the cross once again. If such a mankind is a mankind that is saved, then there is no way of explaining God’s holiness and righteousness, it makes no sense. How could God’s kingdom allow the existence of a mankind that resists God? That is impossible because God’s disposition does not tolerate man’s offense. Therefore, if you say: “A man who has received the sin offering has been saved, and he can enter God’s kingdom,” such words will not do.
from “Sermons and Fellowship About Spreading the Gospel” in Only by Believing in Almighty God Can One Be Saved