Does Salvation Require Status?
By Yi Xun, China
For years, I was serving as a leader away from home, responsible for several churches. I have a congenital heart disease, but I’d never had any major health issues. But with age these past couple of years, mentally and physically I’m just not the same at all. Staying up a little later leaves me exhausted the next day, feeling weak all over, and my heart doesn’t feel right. Last August, the leader considered my condition and was afraid my body couldn’t take a high-stress role as a leader anymore, so she had me come back to take care of my health and do whatever duty I could. This was really upsetting for me to hear. I felt like 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’d have fewer chances to practice, I’d learn the truth and enter into reality more slowly, so my chance at salvation would shrink. It wouldn’t be like being a leader, always resolving brothers’ and sisters’ issues, entering in and learning truths quickly, with a better chance at salvation. I was wondering if God was using that situation to expose and eliminate me. I got more and more upset as I thought about it, and couldn’t hold back my tears.
A sister fellowshiped with me after she found out how I felt, telling me that God’s benevolent will was within it, and when we don’t understand God’s will, first we have to submit, pray and seek more, but never misunderstand or complain. Her fellowship was a reminder for me that this didn’t happen randomly, but there had to be truth for me to seek and enter into, and I should submit. But though I said I’d submit, 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 at its crucial moment, I’ve lost my chance to do a leader’s duty. I’m just a regular believer. Do I still have hope to be saved and perfected?” I was feeling more and more in turmoil and really didn’t want to face this. I wanted to stay and keep serving as a leader, but I was afraid that if my condition flared up, it could hold up the church’s work. I couldn’t be too selfish, just thinking of myself and not the church’s work.
In my devotionals I read a couple passages of God’s words about how antichrists handle changes in their duty and I understood a little about my nature and pursuits. Almighty God says, “Under normal circumstances, a person should accept and submit to changes in their duty. But they should reflect on themselves, recognize the essence of the problem, and recognize their own shortcomings. This is a very good thing and there are no insurmountable hurdles. It is not complicated; it is very simple and anyone can think it through clearly. When something like this happens to a normal person, then they will at the very least learn something, gaining a more accurate understanding and assessment of themselves. 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 submit; they do not proactively and willingly cooperate, much less genuinely accept it. Instead, they feel revulsion toward it, and they resist it, analyze it, contemplate it, and rack their brains in speculation: ‘Why am I being transferred to work elsewhere? Why can’t I keep doing my current duty? Am I really not a good fit? Are they going to dismiss me, or eliminate me?’ 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. How is this evil manifested? Their considerations are extreme, complex and secretive. Things that would not occur to a normal person, a person with a conscience and reason, are common fare for an antichrist. When a simple adjustment is made to your duty, do as God’s house tells you to, and do what you are able, and, no matter what you do, do it as well as is within your power, with all your heart and all your strength. What God has done is not in error. Even so simple a truth as this is not in the hearts of the antichrists. What do they have in their hearts? Suspicion, doubt, defiance, probing. They test the waters with their words and their actions, and they may even put on a show in an attempt to get the truth out of others. … Such a simple matter—yet an antichrist makes a great fuss about it, and mulls it over and over, such that they do not sleep a wink. Why is this the way they think? Why do they think in so complicated a way about a simple thing? There is only one reason: Any arrangement made by God’s house that concerns them, they will tie a tight hitch connecting that thing to their hope for blessing and future destination. This is why they think, ‘I have to be careful; one wrong step will lead to every step’s being wrong, and I can say goodbye to my wish to gain blessings—and that’ll be the end of me. I can’t be careless! The house of God, the brothers and sisters, upper leadership, even God—they’re all unreliable. I don’t put my trust in any of them. The person who’s most reliable and most trustworthy is oneself; if you don’t make plans for yourself, who else is going to look out for you? Who else is going to consider your prospects and whether you’ll gain blessings? So, I have to make meticulous preparations and work extremely hard to make plans for myself; I can’t be the least bit sloppy—otherwise, it’ll be easy for people to deceive me and take advantage of me.’ An antichrist sees being blessed as greater than the heavens themselves, greater than life, more important than dispositional change or personal salvation, and more important than 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. And so, in whatever they encounter, no matter how great or small, they 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, they will feel things are looking ominous. If they are moved from a duty that garners admiration to one that is totally insignificant, one in which they won’t have contact with upper leadership, be noticed, or get to show off, they feel their chance at being blessed has shrunk. What sort of outlook is it? Is it a proper outlook? Such a person is absurd, and has zero understanding of the truth!” “Antichrists 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 blessings, rewards and the crown they receive in the next world—they are directly tied. 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? They are simply evil to the extreme! No matter what God says, they pay no heed, nor do they accept it” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. They Want to Retreat When There Is No Position and No Hope of Gaining Blessings).
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. They think without status, they have hardly any chance at salvation, so they misunderstand, blame, or even fight against God. They just care about their own interests and blessings, but never seek the truth or learn lessons. They really don’t have any reverence or submission for God, but are evil and wicked by nature. Based on my behavior, I was just like an antichrist. I was linking my status with my blessings, so I couldn’t handle a normal change in duty properly. I had a lot on my mind, thinking that if I couldn’t be a leader, without status, my chances at salvation were smaller. But in fact, God’s house 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. Having me come back and take on whatever I could was good for both me and the church. But I misunderstood and I was suspicious. When the leader said I needed to come back, my first thought was I’d have low status if I wasn’t a leader, so I had no hope of being saved or blessed. The thought of not being blessed felt like my only hope in faith had been taken away. I suddenly lost all my drive. I saw I didn’t look at things based on principles of the truth, but based on my personal interests. When my own desires weren’t met, I thought God was using that situation to expose and eliminate me. I saw I had an evil, cunning nature. I was imagining God to be just like corrupt humanity, without fairness or justice, as if He measured us and determined our outcomes based on our status or duty. I thought if we had status, God would save us, but otherwise He wouldn’t. Wasn’t that denying God’s righteousness and blaspheming Him? After all those years of faith, I saw I didn’t understand or obey God at all. If God hadn’t used that situation to expose me, I wouldn’t have realized how wrong my pursuit was. I’d end up eliminated by God like an antichrist if I went on that way.
I read a couple passages of God’s words later that helped me see my wrong perspective. God’s words say, “Some 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 the leaders and workers of the church will certainly be saved. These are all human notions and imagination. The key to this is that you 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. Only then can they be saved. Whether or not one can be saved has nothing to do with how many years a person has believed in God, how much knowledge they have, how much they suffer, or what gifts or strong points they possess. The only thing that has a direct relationship to salvation is whether or not a person can obtain the truth. How much truth 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. It doesn’t matter if you possess a high degree of knowledge, or if you have believed in God for a long time, have a good appearance, can speak well, or have been a leader or worker for several years. If you don’t pursue the truth, or properly practice and experience God’s words, and you lack real experience and testimony, then there is no hope for you to be saved” (The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). “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 moved 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 corrupt dispositions and coming to submit to God. Only those who practice the truth, have their corruption cleansed, 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 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 eliminated. Just like Paul. He had such great status and prestige, and accomplished a lot, but he never pursued the truth or dispositional change. He didn’t have any understanding of himself or God in the end. All his efforts were just to gain blessings, to be rewarded, and he was always bearing witness to himself, how much he’d suffered for the Lord. He bragged that he wasn’t below the greatest of the apostles, and shamelessly boasted, “There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” 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 was different. Peter never cared about status in his faith. He just sought to know and submit to God. He sought to practice and experience God’s words, know his corruption, and ultimately he was crucified for God. He submitted till death, loved God to the maximum, and God perfected him. This shows us that being a leader or having status isn’t any standard for salvation. Someone with status who doesn’t pursue the truth but resists God, doesn’t have any real testimony of living out God’s words is bound to be eliminated. If someone doesn’t have 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 rule and arrangements, to calmly accept the change.
I read another passage later that helped me understand God’s will better. God’s words say, “Those who are promoted and nurtured are not very much above others. They are all just beginning to experience God’s words. 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. Because of the differences in the caliber and humanity of various types of people, the paths of belief in God they choose are also different. Some people can be saved, while others cannot. Therefore, God’s house nurtures and uses people based on whether they pursue the truth, and on their personality. Is there a distinction in the hierarchy of different types of people? There is no hierarchy in terms of status, position, worth, or title. At least during the period when God perfects and leads people, and during the expansion of work, there is no difference between 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 problems such as their caliber or family environment. But does God not want those who have not received such opportunities? 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” (Identifying False Leaders (5)). God’s words showed me that in His house, there’s no high or low status for the duties here. Everyone takes on a different duty according to what the work needs, but everyone is equal before the truth. Wherever we’re doing a duty, if 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, events, and people for everyone based on their needs, to experience His work and enter the reality of the truth. He never strips any single person of our chance to practice and enter into the truth. God is fair and righteous to everyone. Gaining the truth or being saved by God isn’t determined by your duty, but entirely by your own pursuit. Being a leader doesn’t mean God will particularly grace and enlighten you while ignoring the common believers. God enlightens and sustains people based on their pursuit and attitude toward the truth. We can see His righteousness in this. Everyone has a different duty and they encounter different things, but the arrogant, cunning corrupt dispositions they reveal are all the same. As long as they’re willing to pursue and practice the truth, and cast off corruption, they can gain the truth and 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, no matter what duty they do or how they get to train, they’ll never gain the truth and can’t be saved by God. Just like me, after those years of being a leader, with all my opportunities, how much truth had I really gained? That change to my duty left me depressed, misunderstanding, and complaining. I wasn’t remotely obedient to God and didn’t have any reality of the truth. I was a perfect example. Even so, I kept foolishly thinking that status was necessary for salvation. Status had totally gone to my head. Some brothers and sisters are never leaders but they keep on pursuing the truth, have a burden in their duty, seek 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. That gains God’s approval and joy. That reminded me of something God said: “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 us and the truth has no bias. Average believers and leaders have chances to gain the truth, just the same. What’s key is whether someone has the resolve to pursue the truth, if they can practice it. 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, then I’d have less hope for salvation. I even thought God wanted to eliminate me, that He wouldn’t save me anymore. Those were my notions and imaginings 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 driven by my mistaken pursuit, 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 faith, and I finally came before God to reflect and know myself. I gained some understanding of my corruption and the problems in my perspective, and I saw God’s righteousness. I also learned about who God saves and who God eliminates. I gained some submission for God. This situation was precisely God’s protection and salvation for me.
I read another passage of God’s words later that helped me see my path of entry. 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 eliminated 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 a duty just for blessings and rewards. Whether I can 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, eliminated by God in the end, that will be His righteousness. After understanding God’s will, I wasn’t so impacted by which duty I performed. I was able to calmly accept the church’s arrangements.
Through what this situation brought to light, I learned about my mistaken perspectives of pursuit 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, if they’re someone who truly submits to God. Whether someone can gain the truth and have change in their life disposition in their faith is what’s really crucial. From then on, I just wanted to keep my feet on the ground and do my duty to satisfy God. Thanks be to God!
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