We Can Only Enter the Kingdom of Heaven by Doing God’s Will (Part One)
By Xinshou, United States
Editor’s Note: Many people believe that merely by forsaking, expending, laboring, and working for the Lord, we are doing the Father’s will, but thesaid, “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. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? and in Your name have cast out devils? and in Your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21–23). Why did the Lord Jesus say those who work and preach in His name are workers of iniquity? Isn’t forsaking, expending, laboring, and working for the Lord doing the Father’s will? Just what does it mean to do the Father’s will? Sister Xinshou’s experience gives us an answer. Read on to learn more …
In 2012, my husband and I came to the United States to find work. In a happy accident, I went into a church to hear the sermon, and when I heard the pastor preach that the Lord Jesus was crucified to redeem our sins, I was shocked. Especially when I heard the hymns in praise of the Lord, the Lord Jesus’s selfless love moved me to tears. The Lord’s love was like a lamp burning in a dark night that lit up my entire life. I began to participate in all kinds of church activities. Later, I was chosen for hosting duties at the church, and I enthusiastically preached the gospel for the Lord. I believed that as long as I passionately expended for the Lord, I was the Lord’s loyal servant, that He would take delight in me, and that He would grant me blessings.
As Unexpected Change Befalls Me, I Am Trapped in Confusion
We were blessed by the Lord, and our business grew. In 2013, we opened a franchise company, and business was booming. But the good times didn’t last—in 2015, using the excuse that we violated franchisee regulations, the franchiser fined us our entire annual bonus. When we lost our lawsuit in response, our company was on the brink of bankruptcy, and the affair left us deeply in debt. When we lost the Lord’s grace, I was like a lamb who had lost its direction. I didn’t know which way to go, and I felt miserable and helpless. Late at night, when everyone else was asleep, I often thought, “I have always passionately expended for the Lord and served the church, so why didn’t the Lord watch over and protect me? Or did this happen to me because I did something not in accord with the Lord’s will?” I was very confused, and I often wept as I prayed to the Lord, “Lord! I don’t know why this has happened to me, and I am in torment. Lord! I can’t feel your presence. Have you really abandoned me? Lord! Where are you? Please give me your guidance!” But after I prayed, my heart felt just as heavy. Without realizing it, my faith in the Lord was much reduced. I went to fewer and fewer meetings at church, and I only continued to read the Bible and pray at home.
Confusion Over Which Kind of People Can Enter the Kingdom of Heaven
One day, as I was reading the Bible, I came across the Lord Jesus’ words, “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. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? and in Your name have cast out devils? and in Your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21–23). The Lord’s words made me reflect, “Why did the Lord Jesus say those who forsook, expended, labored, and worked for Him, who so actively served the Lord, are workers of iniquity? Is there some mystery in the Lord Jesus’ words?” I asked my pastors and elders about the meaning of these Bible verses, but uniformly, their answer was, “You mustn’t doubt the Lord’s words. As long as we preach the gospel and do more work, when the time comes, we will gain the Lord’s approval, and enter the kingdom of heaven.” After hearing the pastors and elders say this, I felt that even though I didn’t entirely understand the Lord Jesus’ meaning in these verses, I again found motivation to expend for the Lord, so I again began to take part in many of the church’s activities.
Once, at an evangelism meeting attended by thousands of people, I heard acalled “Walking Out”. The hymn moved me deeply. I realized that I had never truly forsaken anything. I was still expending all of my energy for my own business and family. I had actually done very little for the Lord. I owed the Lord so much! As I thought, I couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down my face. I silently encouraged myself by thinking, “I can’t go on like this. I need to have faith in the Lord’s promises. As long as I passionately spread the gospel, I believe the Lord will keep His promises.” I reignited the passion within myself to pursue the Lord, but because my confusion remained unresolved, I also often prayed to the Lord to seek.
A Miraculous Encounter Ignites the Flame in My Heart
One day, as I waited for the subway, the trains suddenly stopped. I was very anxious, and I asked the woman next to me what was going on. As we conversed, I learned that she was also a Christian, and so we prayed to the Lord together, and before long, the trains were running again. When we boarded the train and began talking, it was as if we had known each other for years. We had a very good conversation. We exchanged phone numbers, and I invited my new sister to study the Bible with me.
Once, my sister invited me to a Bible study meeting at her church, and I happily agreed. There, I met Sister Li and Brother Zhang, whose fellowship was very beneficial. They gave me a much clearer and brighter understanding of the Bible verses that had confused me in the past. After that, Brother Zhang played a dance and song video called “God Has Brought His Glory to the East” for me. The images in the video left me shocked. I exclaimed time and again at the dancers’ skill. Brother Zhang told me the dancers were all brothers and sisters who believed in God. I was very surprised, and thought their dance must have come through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But when I saw the video mention that God had already come to the East, I thought, “They aren’tbelievers, are they? In the past I’ve only heard the pastors and elders warn us not have contact with Eastern Lightning missionaries, or we will be stolen from the flock. Have I really run into them today?” But then I thought, “There is so much light in their fellowship, and through my interactions with them, I can feel that they are sincere believers in God, who are entirely different from what the pastors and elders say. As long as I’m here, I might as well listen to them. And if they really have taken a wrong turn in their belief, maybe I can persuade them back to the right path.” So, I decided to keep listening.
After that, I explained the question that had been confusing me to them, “In the Bible, the Lord Jesus says, ‘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. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? and in Your name have cast out devils? and in Your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you that work iniquity’ (Matthew 7:21–23). Among these people who expended and worked for the Lord, some forsook their families, others offered their entire youths in service, and some even gave up on marriage to serve the Lord for their entire lives. Logically speaking, they should have gained the Lord’s approval, so why does the Lord Jesus say they are workers of iniquity? Which kind of people are those who do the Father’s will?”
Brother Zhang smiled and fellowshiped, “In the past, we all believed that as long as we forsake, expend, labor, and work, we are people who do the Father’s will, that we will gain God’s approval, and can enter the kingdom of heaven. But, does outwardly forsaking, expending, laboring, and working truly mean we are doing God’s will? This is the question we must carefully consider! Think back to the Pharisees. They often interpreted the Scriptures for people, prayed for believers, and traveled far and wide to work and preach, but when the Lord Jesus came to work, why did they not only fail to gain the Lord’s approval, but in fact were cursed by the Lord? The Pharisees were people who served God, so when the Lord came to work, they should have sought and accepted the Lord’s salvation, but they did precisely the opposite. To protect their own status and position, they not only refused to accept the Lord Jesus’ work and words, they also deceived and incited the Jewish believers into wildly resisting and condemning the Lord, bore false witness to frame the Lord, and even colluded with the Roman government to have the Lord Jesus crucified. All the Pharisees did made them enemies of God. They thereby offended God’s disposition, and God cursed and punished them. This shows us that outwardly forsaking, expending, laboring, and working does not mean we are doing God’s will. Look also at us, as believers in the Lord. Even though we can forsake and expend in the Lord’s name, our intent is not to love and obey Him, but instead is to extract grace and blessings from the Lord, and to enter the kingdom of heaven. When we pay a price and expend this way, the essence of what we do is to transact with the Lord. We are deceiving and using God. When we experience illness or setbacks in our careers, rather than seeking God’s will, we do nothing but pray and beg the Lord to remove the illness or obstacles causing us to suffer, and when God doesn’t meet our demands, we complain against and misunderstand God, distance ourselves from God, and in serious cases deny and betray God. In the matter of how we treat the Lord’s coming, most people don’t focus their efforts on understanding the Lord’s word or seeking His will, but instead blindly listen to the pastors and elders. Even when people testify that the Lord has returned, they don’t seek or investigate, and some go so far as following the pastors in resisting and condemning God’s work in the last days. This is especially severe among the pastors and elders of the religious world, who see that God’s work and words in the last days have authority and power, yet refuse to seek or investigate, and who, in the name of ‘protecting the flock and safeguarding the true way,’ but in truth to protect their status and position, strive to deny, condemn, and resist God’s work in the last days, prevent believers from investigating God’s work in the last days, and keep people firmly under their control. Doesn’t this make them antichrists who resist God? From these things, we can see that even if people are able to forsake, expend, labor, and work for the Lord, they are still capable of deceiving and using God, following and worshiping men, and even condemning God, resisting God, and acting as enemies of God. Aren’t people like this precisely those who the Lord Jesus called workers of iniquity? So, forsaking and expending in this way not only does not receive the Lord’s approval, it invites the Lord’s condemnation.
“The Lord Jesus said, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 22:37–39). ‘If you continue in My word, then are you My disciples indeed’ (John 8:31). From the Lord’s words, we can see that those who truly do the Father’s will are those who, in the process of forsaking, expending, laboring, and working, are able to carry out, obey God’s commandments, practice God’s requirements of people, stand firm and testify for God amidst trials and refinement, and do everything only to satisfy God. These are people with genuine obedience and love for God. It was people like Abraham, who respected God above all and could obey God’s requirements. When God asked him to sacrifice his only son Isaac on the altar, he didn’t look for reasons or excuses, but did as God commanded with absolute obedience, was sincerely prepared to return Isaac to God, and was finally blessed by God. And also like Peter, who dedicated his life to pursuing love of God and satisfying God. He remembered the words of the Lord Jesus, and yearned for and sought truth in all things. After he accepted the Lord’s commission, Peter shepherded the church strictly according to the Lord’s will and requirements, stressed practicing the truth and satisfying God’s will, and was finally crucified upside down for God. He loved God to the utmost, even obeyed unto death. Both of them sacrificed everything to satisfy God, even their own life. People like this are those with genuine obedience and love for God. They create beautiful, resonant testimony for God, and these are the people who truly do the Father’s will.”
In the past, when I read these words from the Lord Jesus, I felt that there was truth to seek in them, but I didn’t entirely understand. But, through Brother Zhang’s fellowship, I finally understood what the Lord Jesus meant, and when I considered these words with his fellowship, I was reminded of all my behaviors in the past: When I enjoyed the Lord’s grace, my faith in Him seemed strong, and I passionately expended for the Lord, but when disaster and trials befell me, I lost my faith in the Lord, even complained that He didn’t protect me, and lost my passion to expend for Him. Thinking of all I had done, it appeared that I really was transacting with the Lord. Was I truly using and deceiving the Lord? Could working and expending like that actually earn the Lord’s praise? It looked like I really wasn’t someone who did the Father’s will! But then, how could one become someone who does the Father’s will and enter the kingdom of heaven? So, I again explained my confusion to them.