Can Hard Work Bring Entry to the Kingdom of Heaven?
By Sheila, Kenya
I was born into a Catholic family. Our priest always said we should follow God’s commandments, love each other, attend Mass, and do good deeds. He said only people who did these things were devout believers and when the Lord came He would take them up to the kingdom of heaven. I often told myself: “I must do as God says, follow all the church rules and actively do good deeds, so that the Lord will love me and when He returns He’ll bless me and take me up to His kingdom.”
After going to college, I suspended my studies so I could have more time to offer my service at church. Other churchgoers looked so pious when in church, praying and attending Mass, but otherwise they smoked, drank, and went to wild parties. I was disgusted. I thought, “The Lord teaches us to love Him, to help those in need, and to shun worldly temptations. These people might look like they believe in the Lord but they don’t really do anything for Him at all. They lust after worldly things and seek worldly pleasures. Doesn’t that go against the Lord’s teachings? I can’t be like them. I’ll do more good works for the Lord so I can get into the kingdom of heaven when the time comes.”
But over time, I found I couldn’t keep God’s commandments in my day-to-day life either. Whenever I saw those pleasure-seeking church members living happy and free while I was struggling, I couldn’t help but blame God. The Lord teaches us to love others as ourselves but I was always envying and looking down on people. My family scolded me when I did something wrong but I’d just make excuses, quibble, and get angry at them. The Lord teaches us to be humble and forgiving but I didn’t adhere to this. I felt really guilty, like I was a believer in name only. I began to ponder: “Why can’t I ever overcome my sins? Even though I’d confess to my priest every time I sinned and do good deeds to make up for it, I’d still end up committing that same sin. How could God bless a faith like mine?” But then I’d think of how our priest always told us that by confessing to him after we’d sinned, we’d be forgiven, and as long as we worked for the Lord and did good deeds then He would have mercy on us again, bless us, and let us into His kingdom. It says in the Bible: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice” (2 Timothy 4:7–8). Reading this comforted me. I thought that as long as I attended Mass more, went to confession, and kept expending myself for the Lord then I had hope of getting into God’s kingdom. So, I kept myself busy with good deeds. I’d visit sick people and prisoners, and I volunteered at an orphanage.
One day in 2017, I went on Facebook to scroll through the news just like always when I suddenly saw a passage a sister named Betty had posted. “Though many people believe in God, few understand what faith in God means, and what they must do to conform to God’s will. … ‘Belief in God’ is belief that God exists. This is the simplest way to conceive of it. What’s more, believing that there is a God is not the same as truly believing in God; rather, it is a kind of simple faith with strong religious overtones. True faith in God means the following: On the basis of the belief that God holds sovereignty over all things, one experiences His words and His work, purges one’s corrupt disposition, satisfies the will of God, and comes to know God. Only a journey of this kind may be called ‘faith in God.’ Yet people often see belief in God as a simple and frivolous matter. Those with such belief have lost what it means to believe in God, and, though they may believe unto the end, they will never meet with God’s approval, because they tread upon the wrong path. There are still those today who believe in God according to letters and in hollow doctrine. They do not know that they lack the essence of belief in God, and they cannot receive God’s approval. Still they pray to God for blessings of safety and sufficient grace. Let us stop, quiet our hearts, and ask ourselves: Could belief in God truly be the simplest thing on earth? Could it truly entail nothing more than the attainment of much grace? Could one who believes in God yet does not know Him and resists Him truly be able to satisfy His will?” (The Word Appears in the Flesh). These words felt so fresh and new. I was immediately hooked. I’d especially never considered the questions at the end of this piece before. I thought: “This is fantastic! Whose words are these? Such a short passage totally reveals the meaning of faith in God and what we aim to get from our faith.” I contemplated these words, quieting my heart and earnestly considering my faith for the first time in my life. I thought back over my years of faith. I participated in lots of church activities and ceremonies, was active in church ministry and did good deeds in the community, and I suffered a little and paid a price for it. But I did those things so that my family and I could be blessed and protected by God, and especially so that I could get into God’s kingdom. I always thought I was right to pursue such things, that God would be pleased with my faith, and that I’d receive His promises and blessings. But after reading those words, I became dimly aware of a much deeper meaning to my faith. I actively did good deeds and denied myself only to get the kingdom’s blessings in return and that isn’t true love for God. How could God commend that kind of faith? But then I thought about how I’d believed in the Lord for over 20 years, always engaged in church ministry. Could all my suffering and sacrifices have been for nothing? The more I pondered those words, the more I wanted to see what else was on Sister Betty’s Facebook timeline so I could get this all straight in my head. I got in touch with her and we had a gathering online.
I told her how I’d felt when I read those words: “What you posted online was fantastic. It showed me that I believe in the Lord just for blessings, that that’s not truly loving the Lord. But there’s one thing I don’t get. The Bible says, ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice’ (2 Timothy 4:7–8). My priest always says that as long as we keep doing good works and good deeds then the Lord will bless us and we’ll be able to get into His kingdom. I’ve done this throughout all the years of my faith. Will the Lord really not remember it? Won’t I be able to get into His kingdom?”
Sister Betty then shared this fellowship: “Always toiling, making sacrifices, and doing good deeds for the Lord will please the Lord, and when He returns He will rapture us up into His kingdom. This is what Paul said. The Lord Jesus never said anything like that, and neither did the Holy Spirit. These words just represent Paul’s own views, and they’re not what the Lord intended. The words of man are not the truth. Only God’s words are the truth. When it comes to the important matter of getting into God’s kingdom, God’s words must take precedence. If we go by the words of man we’ll be likely to stray from the Lord’s way! So who exactly is able to get into the kingdom of heaven? The Lord Jesus tells us clearly: ‘Not every one that saith to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of My Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 7:21). This shows us that God doesn’t look at how much we sacrifice when determining who can get into the kingdom. Instead, He looks at whether or not we do His will. That is, to enter the kingdom, people have to rid themselves of their sinful nature and be cleansed, and they have to carry out God’s words, and obey, love, and worship God. If we toil and work lots and make many sacrifices, but we can’t follow God’s words, and often sin and resist God, then we are evildoers. That kind of person can’t get into the kingdom. Those Jewish Pharisees who resisted the Lord served God year in, year out in the temple and spread God’s gospel far and wide. They suffered greatly and paid a high price. From the outside, they looked devoted to God but all that concerned them was holding religious rituals. They kept and preached human traditions and doctrines, and discarded God’s laws and commandments. Their service totally went against God’s will and they strayed from the way of God. When the Lord Jesus came to do His work, the Pharisees openly pitted themselves against Him, trying to protect their own positions and livelihoods. They wildly condemned and slandered Him and did all they could to stop people following Him. In the end, they colluded with the Roman government to crucify the Lord Jesus, offending God’s disposition and incurring His punishment. This proves that though people might work hard and make sacrifices, it doesn’t mean they do God’s will. Unless they’ve been cleansed of sin, people will sin and resist God even if they expend themselves for Him. Then there’s us. Though we appear to work hard, to be kind and giving, and we help our fellow churchgoers, our aim is to be blessed and to get into God’s kingdom. When God blesses us, we thank and praise Him. When we get sick or something bad happens, we blame and misunderstand Him, and might even betray Him. Normally, we try to capitalize on our sacrifices and good works, flaunting how much we suffer and work for God, so that others look up to us and idolize us, and so that we get fame, gain, and status. We lose our temper when we encounter people or things we don’t like, we can’t adhere to God’s words, and so on. This shows us that we don’t do all these things out of love for God or to satisfy God, but to make deals with God. We’re just using and cheating God to satisfy our own ambitions and desires. How then are we people who do the heavenly Father’s will? The Bible says: ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’ (1 Peter 1:16). God is holy, so how could God ever lead such filthy people as us into the kingdom of heaven? Only by casting off our sinful nature, being cleansed, and no longer sinning or resisting God can we be commended by God and be fit to enter His kingdom.”
As I listened to her, I thought: “I used to think I could get into the kingdom with good works, but now it seems I’ve been practicing my faith at odds with God’s will. People can only enter the kingdom by becoming holy but I don’t know how to become holy.” I shared my thoughts with Sister Betty.
She read me some relevant passages 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 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.” “Though Jesus did much work among man, He only completed the redemption of all mankind and became man’s sin offering; He did not rid man of all his corrupt disposition. Fully saving man from the influence of Satan not only required Jesus to become the sin offering and bear the sins of man, but it also required God to do even greater work to rid man completely of his satanically corrupted disposition. And so, now that man has been forgiven of his sins, God has returned to the flesh to lead man into the new age, and begun the work of chastisement and judgment. This work has brought man into a higher realm. All those who submit under His dominion shall enjoy higher truth and receive greater blessings. They shall truly live in the light, and they shall gain the truth, the way, and the life” (The Word Appears in the Flesh). Sister Betty then said, “In the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus just did the work of redemption. After we accept His salvation, we just need to confess and repent to Him and our sins are forgiven, and then we can enjoy the grace and blessings He bestows on us. The Lord Jesus does forgive our sins, but He doesn’t absolve our sinful nature and satanic dispositions. After Satan corrupted us, we became dominated by our corrupt dispositions, like arrogance, deceitfulness, selfishness and greed, so we can’t help but sin and resist God. It’s our satanic nature that is the root of our sin and if we don’t get rid of it, we’ll never stop sinning and resisting God and we’ll never be fit to enter the kingdom. That’s why the Lord said He’d return in the last days, expressing the truth to do the work of judgment beginning in God’s house to utterly cleanse and change our satanic dispositions. We can then be free of sin and be fully saved and gained by God. It’s just as the Lord prophesied: ‘He that despiseth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth 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. But when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will teach you all truth. For He shall not speak of Himself; but what things soever He shall hear, He shall speak; and the things that are to come, He shall shew you’ (John 16:12–13). Only by accepting the returned Lord’s judgment work in the last days can we be cleansed of our corruption. Only then will we be fit to inherit God’s promises and enter His kingdom.”
Sister Betty’s fellowship really opened my eyes. All those years, I’d sinned and then confessed to the priest and worked hard to do good deeds, but I still couldn’t stop myself from sinning. Now I knew that the Lord Jesus only did the work of redemption and by believing in Him we only have our sins forgiven, but our sinful nature remains within us. That’s why I was still living in a vicious cycle of sinning and confessing. The only way to be cleansed of our corruption is to accept the returned Lord’s judgment work in the last days. Then we can truly love and obey God and enter God’s kingdom. That thought made me so happy. I now had hope to be rid of sin and get into the kingdom!
The next day, Sister Betty played a recitation called The Savior Has Already Returned Upon a “White Cloud.” It was really moving for me and I felt those words were so authoritative. She told me excitedly, “The Lord we’ve been yearning for has already returned as Almighty God incarnate. Almighty God expresses many truths and does the work of judgment beginning in God’s house. What we read yesterday and the recitation we listened to today were all uttered by Almighty God Himself. He has come and opened the seven seals and unrolled the small scroll. He has revealed all the mysteries we’ve never understood and bestowed all the truths we need to be fully saved and cleansed. This fulfills the prophecy in Revelation: ‘He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches’ (Revelation 3:6). Hearing God’s voice today is by the guidance of God, and we’re so blessed!”
I was overjoyed and thrilled to hear the news that the Lord had returned. The recitation I’d listened to and the words I’d read the day before were all God’s words. No wonder they possessed such authority! Who else could reveal the mystery of how the Lord returns? No one other than God could do this. I was totally convinced that these words were uttered by God and that the Lord had returned. I was so excited just then. I’d never imagined I’d be able to welcome the Lord’s return. I felt so lucky! I just had one question: “How does God do the work of judgment to cleanse and fully save man?”
Sister Betty then read me this passage of Almighty God’s words in answer to my question. “In the last days, Christ uses a variety of truths to teach man, to expose the essence of man, and to dissect the words and deeds of man. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the essence of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, the words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan, and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth of which man is utterly bereft. Only methods such as these can be called judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced into submission to God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God. What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt substance and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the substance of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him. This work is the work of judgment done by God” (The Word Appears in the Flesh). After reading this, Sister Betty said, “In the last days, Almighty God works to judge and cleanse mankind with His words. He judges man’s rebellion and unrighteousness, reveals our God-resisting satanic nature and corrupt dispositions, judges and exposes our desire for blessings and our tainted faith and our wrong views and various notions about God. He also shows us how to be honest and how to serve in line with His will, how to truly obey and love Him, how to do His will, and so on. By experiencing God’s judgment and chastisement, we see how we’ve been corrupted by Satan, and how everything we live out—our arrogance, deceit, selfishness and greed—comes from our satanic dispositions. In this we see God’s holy, righteous disposition that brooks no offense, and we begin to hate ourselves, feel regret, and focus on practicing the truth. Then our life dispositions begin to change. All this is achieved by God’s words of judgment.” Sister Betty then shared her own experiences. In her faith before, she always thought she loved the Lord because she expended herself enthusiastically, so she often prayed, asking the Lord for grace and blessings. She firmly believed that because she’d suffered for the Lord, He would surely reward her with entry into the kingdom. After she’d accepted God’s last days’ work and was judged and exposed by His words, she saw her views on faith were wrong and tainted: She didn’t believe out of love for God or to do a created being’s duty, but to satisfy her own desire for blessings and to get the blessings of the kingdom in return. This was using God and making deals with Him. She was so selfish, without a shred of humanity or reason, and she fully regretted it and hated herself. She began to pursue the truth as God required and her wrong views on faith were made right. Her selfish satanic disposition also began to change. She saw the only way to truly know herself and be cleansed of her corruption was to accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words.
From her fellowship I saw how practical it is for God to express the truth and do His judgment work in the last days and how it really can change and cleanse people. I saw how much we need God to do His judgment work in the last days and that we now have a path to be freed from corruption. I was thrilled. In later gatherings, Sister Betty told me the mystery of God’s incarnation, how Satan corrupts man, how God saves man one step at a time, the inside story of the Bible, what ends and destinations await mankind, and more. She told me truths I’d never heard before in over 20 years of believing in God. The more I read Almighty God’s words, the more I felt them to be God’s voice. Only God incarnate could express such authoritative and powerful words. Besides God, who could expose the truth of mankind’s corruption by Satan? Who could show us the errors in our faith and show us the right path in our belief? Who could reveal the mysteries of God’s 6,000-year plan and tell us what ends and destinations await us? I became convinced that Almighty God is the Lord returned—He is Christ of the last days! I then happily accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days. I thank Almighty God for choosing me and saving me.