Question 14: The Bible says: “For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation” (Rom 10:10). We believe that the Lord Jesus has absolved us of our sins and made us righteous through faith. Furthermore, we believe that if someone is saved once, then they are forever saved, and when the Lord returns we will be immediately raptured and will enter the kingdom of heaven. So why do you testify that we must accept God’s work of judgment in the last days before we can be saved and brought into the kingdom of heaven?
All believers think: The Lord Jesus redeemed us when He died on the cross, so we have already been absolved of all sin. The Lord no longer sees us as sinners. We have become righteous through our faith, and once saved, we are saved forever. As long as we endure until the end, when the Lord returns, we will be directly raptured into the heavenly kingdom. Well, is that the truth? Did God ever give any evidence in His words to back up this claim? If this viewpoint is not in line with the truth, what will the consequences be? We who believe in the Lord should use His own words as our basis for all things. This is especially true when it comes to the question of how to treat the Lord’s return. Under no circumstances can we treat His return based on man’s conceptions and imaginings. The consequences of such behavior are too serious to even contemplate. It’s the same as when the Pharisees crucified the Lord Jesus on the cross while waiting for the Messiah to come. What would the outcome be? The Lord Jesus has completed the work of redeeming mankind. This much is true, but is God’s work of salvation for mankind finished? Does that mean that all of us believers in the Lord Jesus qualify to be raptured into the heavenly kingdom? No one knows the answer to this question. God once said, “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), “You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Lev 11:45). According to God’s words, we can be sure that those who enter the heavenly kingdom have freed themselves from sin and have been cleansed. They are the ones who do God’s will, obey God, love God, and revere Him. Because God is holy and those who enter the heavenly kingdom shall live together with Him, if we have not been cleansed how could we be qualified to enter the heavenly kingdom? Therefore, some people’s notion that we believers have been absolved from sin and we can enter the heavenly kingdom is a complete misunderstanding of God’s will. It originated from our imaginations; it’s our own conception. The Lord Jesus absolved us of sin; that is not false. However, the Lord Jesus never said that we have been totally cleansed through this absolution and are now eligible to enter the heavenly kingdom. No one can deny this fact. Then why do all the faithful think everyone who has been absolved from sin can enter the heavenly kingdom? What do they use as evidence? How do they support this claim? Many people say that they base this belief on the words of Paul and the other apostles, as written in the Bible. Well then, let me ask you, do the words of Paul and the other apostles represent the words of the Lord Jesus? Do they represent the words of the Holy Spirit? Man’s words may be in the Bible, but does this mean they are words of God? There is one fact we can clearly see from the Bible: The people that are praised by God can listen to His word and obey His work. They are the ones who follow His way, are the ones eligible to inherit what God has promised. This is a fact that no one can deny. We all know that even though the sins of us the faithful have been forgiven, we have still not been cleansed; we still sin and resist God often. God clearly told us, “You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Lev 11:45), “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). From God’s words, we can be sure that even though man’s sins have been forgiven, they are not eligible to enter the heavenly kingdom. People must be cleansed; they must become doers of God’s will before they can enter the heavenly kingdom. This is an irrefutable fact. Apparently, understanding God’s will is not nearly as simple as it seems. We don’t become cleansed just because our sins have been forgiven. We must first obtain some reality of the truth and earn God’s praise. Then we will be eligible to enter the heavenly kingdom. If we do not love the truth and in fact are weary of it and even hate it, if we only pursue rewards and the crown but do not care for God’s will, much less to say do God’s will, are we not doing evil? Does the Lord praise this sort of person? If so, we are just like those hypocritical Pharisees: Even though we’ve been forgiven of sin, we are still not able to enter the heavenly kingdom. This is an indisputable fact.
Let’s continue fellowshiping. The Lord Jesus absolved us of all sins. What sins did He absolve? What kinds of sin do we confess to after we begin believing in the Lord? The main sins referred to are those factual sins that betray God’s laws, commandments, or words. We humans betrayed God’s laws and commandments and were thus condemned and punished by His law. That’s why the Lord Jesus came to do His work of redemption. Thus, we need only pray to the Lord Jesus and confess and repent our sins and He shall absolve us. After that, we will no longer be subject to condemnation and punishment according to His law. God will no longer treat us as sinners. So we can pray directly to God; we can cry out to God and share in His abundant grace and truth. This is the true meaning of the “salvation” that we often spoke of in the Age of Grace. This salvation has nothing to do with being cleansed and entering the heavenly kingdom. You could say that those are two separate things, because the Lord Jesus never said that all who have been saved and absolved can enter the heavenly kingdom. Let’s read some of Almighty God’s words, “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” (“The Vision of God’s Work (2)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Before man was redeemed, many of Satan’s poisons had already been planted within him and, after thousands of years of being corrupted by Satan, he has within him an established nature that resists God. Therefore, when man has been redeemed, it is nothing more than a case of redemption in which man is bought at a high price, but the poisonous nature within him has not been eliminated. Man that is so defiled must undergo a change before becoming worthy to serve God. By means of this work of judgment and chastisement, man will fully come to know the filthy and corrupt substance within his own self, and he will be able to change completely and become clean. Only in this way can man become worthy to return before the throne of God. … 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 Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Almighty God’s words answer this question very clearly. As soon as we hear them, we understand them. In the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus only did His work of redemption to absolve mankind of sin, making them righteous through faith and saved through faith. However, the Lord Jesus never said that everyone who has been forgiven of his or her sins can enter the heavenly kingdom. This is because the Lord Jesus may have absolved us of all sin, but He never absolved us of our satanic nature. Our inner arrogance, selfishness, deceit, evil etc., that is, our corrupt dispositions, still remain. These things are deeper than sin. They are much harder to resolve. If the satanic nature and corrupt dispositions, which are so resistant to God, have not been resolved, we cannot help but commit many sins. We may even commit sins that are even worse than breaking the law, that is, the more egregious sins. Why were the Pharisees able to condemn and resist the Lord Jesus? How could they crucify Him on the cross? This proves that if our satanic nature has not been resolved we can still sin, resist God, and betray God.
We have believed in the Lord for all these years and experienced one thing ourselves, that is, although our sins have been absolved, we still can’t resist sinning constantly. We still lie, trick, cheat and use sophistry in pursuit of reputation and status. We even shirk responsibility and get other people in trouble for our own sake. When confronted with natural and manmade disasters, or trials and tribulations, we blame and betray God. When God’s work is not in line with our own conceptions, we deny, judge, and resist God. Although we believe in God in name, we still revere and follow other human beings. If we have positions, we exalt and bear witness to ourselves, just like the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees. We act like we are God to try and make people revere and admire us. We even steal and take for ourselves the sacrificial offerings to God. We grow jealous and follow our own preferences and the whims of our flesh and emotions. We plant our own flags, form our own groups, and establish our own little kingdoms. These are all clear facts. We can see that if our satanic nature and dispositions are not resolved, we won’t be eligible to enter the heavenly kingdom even if our sins are forgiven a million times. The fact that we can still sin and resist God shows that we still belong to Satan, are enemies of God, and will definitely be condemned and punished by Him. It’s just as it says in the Bible, “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Heb 10:26–27). Let’s read some of Almighty God’s words: “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). As you can see, we have only been redeemed by the Lord Jesus but still live in our satanic disposition, frequently sinning and resisting God. We must experience God’s judgment and salvation in the last days to be completely freed from sin and be after God’s heart. Then we will be eligible to enter the heavenly kingdom. Actually, the Lord Jesus once said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (Jhn 14:2–3). The Lord went back to prepare a place for us and after He has prepared a place for us, He will return to receive us. In truth, this “receiving” refers to His plans for us to be reborn in the last days. When the Lord comes to do His work, He will bring us before His throne to be judged, cleansed, and made perfect by God’s words. He will make us into overcomers before the disasters arrive. The process of His receiving us is actually how He will cleanse us and make us perfect. Now the Lord has come to earth to perform His work of judgment in the last days. We have been raptured before His throne to live together with Him. Doesn’t this completely fulfill the prophecy of the Lord coming to receive us? After the great disasters end, Christ’s kingdom will be established on earth. All who survive the refinement of the great disasters will have a place in the heavenly kingdom.
from Classic Questions and Answers on the Gospel of the Kingdom
Even though our sins have been forgiven for believing in the Lord, and we are counted as the saved, but in reality, we remain filthy and corrupt and have not escaped sin to receive cleanness. To have sins forgiven just means not being condemned by law. This is precisely what “saved by grace” means. God may have forgiven our sins and bestowed upon us many blessings, letting us enjoy the peace and happiness of having our sins forgiven, and giving us the right to pray to God and converse and communicate with God, but God’s work of saving mankind does not end there. The redemption work of the Lord Jesus is merely to pave the way for God’s work of thoroughly cleansing and saving mankind in the last days. Without the Lord Jesus’ redemption, we would be unqualified to pray to God and receive God’s salvation. We should know this. But why is it that after our sins have been forgiven for believing in the Lord we still can’t help ourselves and often commit sins, and cannot extricate ourselves from living in sin? It’s because our corruption by Satan runs too deep, to the extent that everyone of us has a satanic nature and is full of satanic disposition. That’s why we cannot help but often commit sins. If this satanic nature is not resolved, we can still sin and resist God even if our sins are forgiven. In that way, we will never be able to achieve compatibility with God. This is why the Lord Jesus said He will return. It is so He will perform His judgment work of the last days to thoroughly cleanse and save mankind. Just as Almighty God says, “Before man was redeemed, many of Satan’s poisons had already been planted within him and, after thousands of years of being corrupted by Satan, he has within him an established nature that resists God. Therefore, when man has been redeemed, it is nothing more than a case of redemption in which man is bought at a high price, but the poisonous nature within him has not been eliminated. Man that is so defiled must undergo a change before becoming worthy to serve God. By means of this work of judgment and chastisement, man will fully come to know the filthy and corrupt substance within his own self, and he will be able to change completely and become clean. Only in this way can man become 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 through refinement, man can purge 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 in the work of salvation. It is through judgment and chastisement by the word that man arrives at being gained by God; and it is through the use of the word to refine, judge, and disclose that all of the impurities, notions, motives, and individual aspirations within man’s heart are completely revealed” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“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 the 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. … 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” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Almighty God’s words are very clear: In the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus only performed His redemption work. Our sins were forgiven for believing in the Lord, but our sinful nature has not been resolved. The sinful nature is Satan’s nature. It has already taken root deep inside us, becoming our life. That is why we still can’t help but sin and resist God. We having satanic nature is the root cause behind our resistance to God. Our sins have been forgiven, but can God forgive our satanic nature? The satanic nature directly opposes God and the truth. God would never forgive it. Therefore, to thoroughly save mankind from the bondage and control of satanic nature, God must judge and chastise mankind. The judgment of God in the last days is the work targeted at the satanic nature and disposition inside corrupt mankind. Some people might ask, “Can our satanic nature only be resolved by judgment and chastisement? Can’t we, through paying the price of suffering, subduing our body, and restraining ourselves with volition, resolve the satanic nature?” Definitely not. If it were not for God expressing the truth and judging and revealing man’s nature and substance, no one would come to know what exactly is the nature of corrupt mankind. Let’s take a look at the many saints throughout history who all paid the price of suffering and subdued their bodies, who all wanted to escape the bondage and control of sin and transcend the flesh. Who among them managed to overcome Satan and become someone who truly obeys God? Almost none. Even if there were some, they were people whom God especially made complete. But how many such people were there? It was precisely because there was no God’s judgment and chastisement that our satanic disposition was unable to be cleansed. Our life disposition was therefore unable to change. This fact is sufficient to prove that using human means is incapable of resolving our satanic nature. We must go through God’s judgment and chastisement, pruning and dealing, and trials and refinements, before we can gain the truth and life and receive the way of eternal life. It is only then that our satanic nature can be thoroughly resolved. That is why Almighty God carries out the work of judgment and chastisement in the last days on the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ redemption work, to thoroughly save mankind from the bondage and control of satanic nature, so that mankind can be cleansed to receive God’s salvation and be gained by God. From this we can see that it is God’s judgment and chastisement in the last days that thoroughly cleanses and saves mankind. This is the fact.
Why does God do the work of judging and chastising the corrupt human race in the last days? To understand this issue, we must know that God doesn’t fully save the human race with just one or two stages of work. Rather, this is through three stages of work: the Age of Law, the Age of Grace and the Age of Kingdom. It is only these three stages of work that can totally save mankind from the domain of Satan, and only these constitute the entire work of God’s salvation of humanity. During the Age of Law, Jehovah God issued laws and commandments in order to guide man in his life on earth, and through these, mankind could know what kind of people God blesses, what kind of people God curses, as well as what is righteous and what is sinful. However, during the later stages of the Age of Law all people were living in sin because the human race had become more and more deeply corrupted by Satan. They were unable to abide by the laws and faced the danger of being convicted and cursed by these laws. That is why the Lord Jesus of the Age of Grace came to do the work of redemption, allowing man to confess his sins, repent and be pardoned of them, thus exempting man from being convicted and cursed through the law and allowing him to be qualified to come before God and pray, commune with God, and enjoy His abundant grace and truth. This is the true meaning of “being saved.” However, the Lord Jesus only pardoned our sins; He did not pardon our sinful nature or our satanic disposition. Our satanic nature still exists. We continued to exist within the vicious cycle of committing sins, confessing them and then committing sins once more with no way of breaking free from the constraints and control of our sinful nature. We shouted out to God in pain: “I am truly suffering! How can I break free from the constraints and control of sin?” This is an experience, an understanding that all of us share as believers in the Lord. However, we are incapable of resolving our sinful nature ourselves. No human being can do the work of saving the human race. Only God, the Creator is able to save mankind and free us from Satan and sin. Only He can save us from the domain of Satan. Almighty God says: “Since He created man, He leads him; since He saves man, He will thoroughly save him, and will completely gain him; since He leads man, He will bring him to the proper destination; and since He created and manages man, He must take responsibility for man’s fate and prospects. It is this which is the work done by the Creator” (“Restoring the Normal Life of Man and Taking Him to a Wonderful Destination” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God is faithful. Since God saves man, He will do this completely. He certainly would not give up halfway. That is why Almighty God expresses all truths to cleanse and save mankind in the last days in order to thoroughly save humanity. He does the work of judgment beginning with God’s house in order to thoroughly resolve the problem of mankind’s satanic nature and satanic disposition. He does this so that mankind can break free from sin, attain salvation, and be gained by God. The judgment work that Almighty God of the last days does is precisely what corrupt mankind needs, and it is also the key stage of work that must be performed by God to save mankind. This fulfills the prophecy of the Lord Jesus: “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” (Jhn 16:12–13). “The Spirit of truth” refers to God being incarnated into a human body in the last days, expressing the truth and doing the work of judgment. All we need to do is accept and obey God’s judgment work of the last days so that we can attain salvation and be gained by God. This is something that all those who have truly experienced God’s judgment work of the last days can confirm.
from Classic Questions and Answers on the Gospel of the Kingdom