41. Does Salvation Require Status?
For years, I was performing my duty away from home, and I was responsible for the church’s work. Though I had a congenital heart disease, I never had any major health issues. But with age over these past couple of years, mentally and physically I’m just not the same as I used to be. Staying up a little later at night leaves me exhausted the next day, feeling weak all over, and my heart doesn’t feel right. In August of 2021, the leader considered my condition and was afraid my body couldn’t continue to take a high-stress role as a leader anymore, so she had me come back home to take care of my health and do whatever duty I could. This was really upsetting for me to hear. I thought, “It’s a crucial time for building up good deeds in a duty. Being transferred, just being an average believer instead of a leader, I’ll have fewer chances to practice, I’ll learn the truth and enter into reality more slowly, so my probability of being saved will shrink. It won’t be like being a leader, always resolving brothers’ and sisters’ various issues and difficulties, learning and entering truths quickly, with a better probability of salvation. Is God using this situation to expose and cast me out?” I got more upset the more I thought about it, and I couldn’t hold back my tears. Later, a sister fellowshiped with me after she found out about my state. She told me, “God’s benevolent will is within this, and when we don’t understand God’s will, first we have to submit, pray and seek more, but we can never misunderstand or complain.” Her fellowship reminded me that this situation wasn’t random, but that there had to be truth I should seek and enter into, and that I should submit. But I was still really upset. When I woke up at night and that came to mind, I’d just toss and turn, sleepless, thinking over and over, “I’ve believed all these years, and just when God’s work is finally at its crucial moment, I’ve lost my chance to serve as a leader. I’m just a regular believer. Do I still have hope to be saved and perfected?” I still wanted to continue serving as a leader, but I feared that my illness might flare up and affect the work of the church. I couldn’t just think of myself and endanger the work of the church. The more I thought about it, the more troubled I became. I didn’t know how I was supposed to get through this.
In my devotionals, I read some of God’s words that revealed how antichrists handle changes in their duty, and I understood a little about myself. God says, “When adjustments are made to their duties, at the very least, people should submit, benefit from reflecting on themselves, as well as gain an accurate assessment of whether their performance of their duties is qualified. But this is not so for antichrists. They are different from normal people, no matter what happens to them. Where does this difference lie? They do not obey, they do not proactively cooperate, nor do they search for truth in the slightest. Instead, they feel revulsion toward it, and they resist it, analyze it, contemplate it, and rack their brains in speculation: ‘Why am I not allowed to do this duty? Why am I transferred to an unimportant duty? Is this a means to reveal me and cast me out?’ They keep turning over what has happened in their minds, endlessly analyzing it and ruminating over it. When nothing has happened they are perfectly fine, but when something does happen, it begins churning within their hearts as if in stormy waters, and their heads are filled with questions. It may look from the outside like they are better than others at pondering issues, but in fact, antichrists are just eviler than normal people. … Antichrists never obey the arrangements of God’s house, and they always closely link their duty, fame, and status with their hope of blessings and their future destination, as if once their reputation and status are lost, they have no hope of obtaining blessings and rewards, and this feels like losing their lives to them. Therefore, they guard themselves against the leaders and workers of God’s house to keep their dream of blessings from being spoiled. They cling to their reputation and status, because they think this is their only hope of gaining blessings. An antichrist sees being blessed as greater than the heavens themselves, greater than life, more important than pursuing the truth, dispositional change, or personal salvation, and more important than doing their duty well, and being a created being that is up to standard. They think that being a created being that is up to standard, doing their duty well and being saved are all paltry things that are hardly worth mentioning, while gaining blessings is the only thing in their entire life that can never be forgotten. In whatever they encounter, no matter how great or small, they relate it to being blessed by God, and are incredibly cautious and attentive, and they always leave a way out for themselves. So when their duty is adjusted, if it is a promotion, an antichrist will think they have hope of being blessed. If it is a demotion, from team leader to assistant team leader, or from assistant team leader to a regular group member, or if they have no duty at all, they feel this is a major problem and they think their hope of gaining blessing is slim. What sort of outlook is it? Is it a proper outlook? Absolutely not. This view is absurd” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Twelve). “In their hearts, antichrists always equate how high or low their status is with how great or small their blessings are. Whether it is among the family of God or any other group, to them, people’s status and class are strictly delineated, as are their final outcomes; how high someone’s position is and how much power they wield in the house of God in this life is equivalent to the magnitude of the blessings, rewards and the crown they receive in the next world—they are directly tied. Does such a view hold water? God never said this, nor has He ever promised anything like that, but this is the sort of thinking that will arise within an antichrist. … Wouldn’t you say that people like antichrists have a bit of a mental health issue? Are they evil to the extreme? No matter what God says, they pay no heed, nor do they accept it. They figure that whatever they think and believe is right, and in this, they take pleasure, enjoying and admiring themselves. They do not seek the truth or investigate if that is what is said in God’s words, or if that is what God promised” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Twelve). God’s words show that antichrists only have faith for blessings and rewards. They rank the various duties, closely linking high or low status with more or fewer blessings that may be received. They think that without status, they have hardly any chance at salvation, so they blame, misunderstand, and even fight against God. They just care about their own interests and whether or not they can obtain blessings, but they never seek the truth or learn lessons. Moreover, they really don’t have any reverence or submission for God, but are evil and devious by nature. Based on my behavior, I was just like an antichrist. I was linking my status with the size of my blessings, and I always thought that not being a leader meant that I would be without status and that I would have no hope of being saved or receiving blessings. Because of this, I couldn’t handle even a normal change in duty properly and I had a lot on my mind. But in fact, the church arranges each person’s duty according to the principles and their actual situation. I had health problems. Leaders have a lot to handle, there’s a lot of stress, and my body couldn’t take it. My duty would suffer. The church arranging for me to take on what I could was good for both me and the work of the church. But I was suspicious and dubious. My first thought of not being a leader was that I’d have little hope of being saved. The thought of not being blessed and being left without a good destination felt like my only hope in faith had been taken away. I suddenly lost all my drive and became quite negative. I saw I didn’t look at things based on principles of the truth, but based on whether I could benefit from them. When my own ambitions and desires weren’t met, I thought God was using that situation to cast me out. I saw I was really devious. I was imagining God to be just like corrupt humanity, without fairness or justice. I thought He measured us and determined our outcomes based on the greatness of our status or duty. I thought if people had status, God would favor and save them, but otherwise He wouldn’t save them. Wasn’t that denying God’s righteousness and blaspheming against Him? After all those years of faith, I saw I didn’t understand or obey God at all. Without being exposed by the facts, I wouldn’t have realized how wrong my perspective on pursuit was.
I read a couple of passages of God’s words later that helped me see my wrong perspective. God’s words say, “Many people don’t know clearly what it means to be saved. Some people believe that the more years they have believed in God, the more likely they are to be saved. Some people think that the more spiritual doctrines they understand, the more likely they are to be saved, or some think that leaders and workers will certainly be saved. These are all human notions and imaginings. The key to this is that people must understand what salvation means. To be saved primarily means to be freed from Satan’s influence, freed from sin, and genuinely turn to God and obey God. What must you possess to be free from sin and from Satan’s influence? The truth. If people hope to obtain the truth, they must be equipped with many of God’s words, they must be able to experience and practice them, so that they may understand the truth and enter the reality of the truth. Only then can they be saved. Whether or not one can be saved has nothing to do with how long a person has believed in God, how much knowledge they have, how much they suffer, or whether they possess gifts or strong points. The only thing that has a direct relationship to salvation is whether or not a person can obtain the truth. So today, how many truths have you genuinely understood? And how many of God’s words have become your life? Of all of God’s requirements, into which have you achieved entry? During your years of belief in God, how much entry into the reality of God’s word have you achieved? If you don’t know, or if you have not achieved entry into any reality of God’s word, then frankly, you have no hope of salvation. You cannot possibly be saved” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Treasuring God’s Words Is the Foundation of Belief in God). “I decide the destination of each person not on the basis of age, seniority, amount of suffering, and least of all, the degree to which they invite pity, but according to whether they possess the truth. There is no other choice but this. You must realize that all those who do not follow the will of God shall also be punished. This is an immutable fact. Therefore, all those who are punished are so punished for the righteousness of God and as retribution for their numerous evil acts” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Prepare Sufficient Good Deeds for Your Destination). I was really touched by these passages. I saw being saved has nothing to do with being a leader or having status. Salvation is about casting off Satan’s dispositions and coming to submit to God. Only those who practice the truth, have their corrupt dispositions changed, submit to God and live by His words can truly be saved. Whatever duty we do, as long as we can accept the truth, focus on self-reflection when we’re pruned and dealt with, know our corruption and faults through God’s words, repent and change, then through that pursuit we can gain the truth and be saved. No matter how high someone’s status or how much they suffer, if they don’t pursue truth, they’ll be cast out. Just like Paul. Though he had great status and prestige, and accomplished a lot, the effort he expended for the work he did was all to obtain blessings and rewards. He never pursued the truth or dispositional change. He didn’t have any understanding of himself or God in the end. He was always bearing witness to himself, and how much he’d suffered for the Lord. He bragged “I was not a whit behind the very most chief apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:5), and even shamelessly boasted “There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:8). To be capable of uttering such heresy that he was a living Christ, offended God’s disposition and he was punished by God. But Peter didn’t care about pursuing status in his faith. He just sought to know and submit to God. He sought to practice and experience God’s words, know his corrupt disposition, and ultimately he was crucified upside down for God. He submitted till death, and loved God to the maximum. This shows us that having high status and doing a great duty isn’t a condition or standard for salvation. Someone with status who doesn’t pursue the truth but often resists God, who doesn’t have any real testimony of living out God’s words, is bound to be cast out. Even if someone doesn’t have high status, but they’re on the right path and pursue the truth, they can still gain the truth and be saved by God. I felt a lot better when I realized that. I was ready to submit to God’s arrangements, and to calmly accept the change in duty.
I read another passage of God’s words later that helped me understand God’s will better. God’s words say, “Everyone is equal before the truth. Those who are promoted and nurtured are not very much better than others. Everyone has experienced God’s work for around the same time. Those who have not been promoted or nurtured should also pursue the truth while performing their duties. No one may deprive others of the right to pursue the truth. Some people are more eager in their pursuit of the truth and have some caliber, so they are promoted and nurtured. This is due to the requirements of the work of God’s house. So why does God’s house have such principles for promoting and using people? Because there are differences in people’s caliber and personality, and each person chooses a different path, this leads to different outcomes in people’s faith in God. Those who pursue the truth are saved and become people of the kingdom, while those who do not accept the truth at all, who are not devoted to their duty, are cast out. God’s house nurtures and uses people based on whether they pursue the truth, and on whether they are devoted to their duty. Is there a distinction in the hierarchy of various people in God’s house? For the time being, there is no hierarchy in various people’s status, position, worth, or title. At least during the period when God works to save and guide people, there is no difference between various people’s rank, position, worth, or status. The only things that are different are in the division of work and in the duty roles performed. Of course, during this period, some people, on exception, are promoted and nurtured, and perform some special jobs, while some people do not receive such opportunities due to various reasons such as problems with their caliber or family environment. But does God not save those who have not received such opportunities? This is not the case. Is their worth and position lower than others’? No. Everyone is equal before the truth, everyone has the opportunity to pursue and gain the truth, and God treats everyone fairly and reasonably” (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). God’s words showed me that in His house, there’s no distinction of high or low status for the duties here. Everyone takes on a different duty according to the need of the work, but in reality everyone is equal before the truth. Wherever we’re doing a duty, whether we have status or not, God’s words sustain every single one of us. He has no bias toward anyone because of their status. God arranges all sorts of situations and events for everyone based on their needs, so that they can experience His work and enter the reality of the truth. He doesn’t strip any one of us of our chance to practice and enter into the truth. God is fair to everyone. Gaining the truth or being saved by God isn’t determined by our duty, but entirely by our own pursuit. It is not to say that if we serve as a leader, God will particularly grace and enlighten us, and that if we are common believers, He will ignore us. God enlightens and sustains people based on their pursuit and attitude toward the truth. We can see His righteousness in this. Though people have different duties and encounter different things, the arrogant and devious corrupt dispositions they reveal are all the same. As long as they’re willing to pursue and practice the truth, and cast off corrupt disposition, they can be saved by God. On the other hand, if someone doesn’t pursue truth, doesn’t seek or practice the truth in the face of problems, then no matter what duty they do or how many chances they get to train, they’ll never gain the truth in the end and can’t be saved by God. Just like me, after those years of leadership position, with all my status and opportunities to train, how much truth had I really gained? I thought of how the change to my duty had left me negative, misunderstanding, and complaining. I wasn’t remotely obedient to God and didn’t have any reality of the truth whatsoever. I was a perfect example. Even so, I kept foolishly thinking that I could gain salvation through status. Status had totally gone to my head. Though some brothers and sisters are never leaders, they keep on pursuing the truth, have a burden in their duty, focus on seeking the truth when things crop up, and carry out the truths they know. The corruption they show gradually diminishes and they submit more and more to God. They have real testimony of living out God’s words. This gains God’s approval and acceptance. That reminded me of something God says: “If you pursue genuinely, then I am willing to give you the way of life in its entirety, to have you be like a fish back in water. If you do not pursue genuinely, I will take it all back. I am not willing to give the words from My mouth to those who are greedy for comfort, who are just like pigs and dogs!” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Why Are You Unwilling to Be a Foil?). The Lord Jesus also once said, “For to every one that has shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that has not shall be taken away even that which he has” (Matthew 25:29). God is fair and righteous with humanity and has no bias toward any one person. Regardless of whether one is an average believer or a leader, so long as they pursue the truth, God will provide enlightenment and leadership. What’s key is whether someone has the resolve to pursue and practice the truth. Understanding this was really enlightening for me. Before, I was always worried I wouldn’t get as many chances to practice if I wasn’t a leader, and then I’d have less hope for salvation. I even thought God wanted to cast me out, that He wouldn’t save me anymore. Those were my misunderstandings of God, and it was blasphemy. I had no understanding of God’s earnest intentions. Really thinking about it, all those years of faith I was controlled by my mistaken views, just doing my duty to be blessed, thinking I had great pursuit. I was taken in by my own false image, and didn’t self-reflect or know myself at all. This shift in my duty revealed my mistaken perspective in pursuit, and I was finally able to come before God to reflect and know myself. I gained some understanding of my corrupt disposition and the problems in my perspective, and I saw God’s righteous disposition. I also learned about who God saves and who God casts out, and gained some submission for God. This situation was truly God’s protection and salvation for me.
I read another passage of God’s words later that helped me clearly see the path of entry I should take. God’s words say, “As a creature of God, man should seek to perform the duty of a creature of God, and seek to love God without making other choices, for God is worthy of man’s love. Those who seek to love God should not seek any personal benefits or seek that which they personally long for; this is the most correct means of pursuit. If what you seek is the truth, if what you put into practice is the truth, and if what you attain is a change in your disposition, then the path that you tread is the right one. … Whether you will be made perfect or cast out depends on your own pursuit, which is also to say that success or failure depends on the path that man walks” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks). I found a path of practice in God’s words. I’m a created being, so no matter what God arranges, I have to submit to His rule and arrangements. I can’t have faith and do duty just for blessings and rewards. Whether I can eventually be saved or not, whether I’m blessed or not, as long as I live, I should pursue the truth and knowledge of God. Even if I am rejected and cast out by God in the end, that will be His righteousness. After understanding God’s will, I was no longer so impacted by which duty I performed. I was able to calmly face the adjustment of my duty.
Through what this situation brought to light, I learned some things about my mistaken perspectives in my faith. I also learned that whether someone can be saved doesn’t depend on their status or how much work they’ve done. What’s key is whether they’ve gained the truth and are someone who submits to God, and whether they have change in their life disposition. From then on, I just wanted to keep my feet on the ground and do my duty well to satisfy God.