Only the Pure Enter the Kingdom of Heaven
By Sara, the United States
When I believed in the Lord, I often heard that the Lord teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves, that our love comes from God, and we must love others and love our enemies, because God loved us first. And in Hebrews 12:14, it says, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” This reminded me of a time in my life when my mother and I would disagree and argue fiercely. I knew this wasn’t after the Lord’s heart and I had to put the Lord’s words into practice. Later, whenever I disagreed with my mom, I would try to restrain myself, and listen to her opinions. I stayed calm, and patient. But after a while, I couldn’t hold my temper any longer. If I didn’t agree with what she said, I would argue with her. Aside from this, I followed worldly trends, and was obsessed with TV and movies. Sometimes, I’d lie to save face or for personal gain. I was trapped in a cycle of sin and confession, and I always felt guilty. But I couldn’t suppress or escape my impulses, and this tormented me. Sometimes, I thought: “Can I get into the heavenly kingdom, when I’m living in sin like this?” Once, my mom said to me: “For a Christian, you have a real bad temper!” Hearing her say this, I felt even worse. I was really trying to show restraint, but I couldn’t keep the Lord’s teachings. Was this going to please the Lord? Would I ever be able to change? When I asked my brothers and sisters about this problem, some said: “We must learn to control ourselves. When we become closer to God, we become more tolerant.” Others said: “It’s normal to have these ups and downs, but change comes in a spiral ascent. The more we change, the better we become. Do not doubt that. The Lord’s salvation is complete. His grace will carry us into the kingdom of heaven.” Even after they said this, I still had no clear path. I could only pray to the Lord for help.
Then, by chance, I met some brothers and sisters online. We met up often for Bible study. The content of their fellowships was interesting, and insightful. I gained a lot from meeting with them. At a gathering one day, Brother Lin talked about the Lord’s return. He said the Lord would do new work when He returned, and then he sent us some verses of Scripture. Hebrews 9:28 says, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin to salvation.” 1 Peter 1:5 says, “[You] are kept by the power of God through faith to salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” And “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). “He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Brother Lin said: “These verses mention how the Lord will appear for a second time, and how we must obtain His salvation in the last days. They mention how judgment will begin with God’s house—the last-days judgment. They explain how the Lord will do the work of judgment upon His return, freeing us from sin and purifying and saving us.” Brother Lin spoke in accord with the Bible, but I was confused. The Lord already redeemed us from sin when He was nailed to the cross. God’s salvation was completed. Why must the Lord come back to do the work of judgment and purification? I told them of my confusion.
Brother Lin showed me two passages. “The sins of man were forgiven through the agency of the incarnate God, but this did not mean that man no longer had sin within him. 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 his 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” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “You only know that Jesus shall descend during the last days, but how exactly will He descend? 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” (“Concerning Appellations and Identity” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Brother Lin fellowshiped: “The Lord Jesus redeemed us from the domain of Satan. We were absolved of our sins, but it didn’t mean we were without sin, or that we could no longer commit sin or resist God. In the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus did the work of redemption and forgiveness, not the work of purifying and changing man, which God does in the last days. Though our sins are forgiven through our faith in the Lord, our sinful nature and satanic dispositions are deep-rooted. We are arrogant, crooked, cunning, evil, and detest the truth, and we can’t help but sin, and disobey and resist the Lord. We tell lies and act falsely to protect our own interests. When we disagree with each other, we become angry, and argue. We follow worldly trends, and covet sinful pleasures. In times of hardship, we blame God, stray from Him, and betray Him. God says, ‘[Y]ou shall therefore be holy, for I am holy’ (Leviticus 11:45). If we are not holy and pure, we can’t meet God. How can we, who often sin and resist God, be fit to enter His kingdom? That’s why the Lord promised to come back, to express the truth, and to do the work of judgment and purification, to bestow more truth on us, to save us once and for all, to free us from sin, and take us to God’s kingdom.”
I told him: “What you’ve said is true. We always sin and confess, and we’re still not free from sin despite our faith in the Lord. But the thing is, I have Christian friends who live very piously. They never argue, and they love their enemies. Some of them used to have marital problems, but their relationships improved when they started to believe. Some of them used to have bad tempers, but their belief in the Lord made them tolerant, and patient … Everyone who sincerely believes in the Lord undergoes change. If this change continues, won’t they also become free from sin and be cleansed?”
When I asked this, Brother Lin replied patiently: “Lots of people change when they start believing in the Lord. They stop hitting and cursing others, they’re kinder, more patient, more tolerant, they bear their cross, they give to charity and make sacrifices. While this might show that they truly believe in the Lord, does it mean that they are after the Lord’s heart? Does it mean that they are free from sin, and are cleansed?” Then, Brother Lin read two passages to me. Almighty God says, “Mere behavioral changes are unsustainable; if there is no alteration in people’s life dispositions, then sooner or later, their vicious sides will show themselves. Because the source of the changes in their behavior is fervor, coupled with some work by the Holy Spirit at the time, it is extremely easy for them to become fervent or to exhibit temporary kindness. As the unbelievers say, ‘Doing one good deed is easy; what’s hard is doing a lifetime of good deeds.’ People are incapable of doing good deeds throughout their entire lives. One’s behavior is directed by the life; whatever one’s life is, so is one’s behavior, and only that which is revealed naturally represents the life, as well as one’s nature. Things that are fake cannot last. When God works to save man, it is not to adorn man with good behavior—the purpose of God’s work is to transform people’s dispositions, to make them reborn into new people. Thus, God’s judgment, chastisement, trials, and refinement of man all serve to change his disposition so that he may achieve absolute submission and devotion to God, and come to worship Him normally. This is the aim of God’s work. Behaving well is not the same as submitting to God, much less does it equal being compatible with Christ. Changes in behavior are based on doctrine and born of fervor; they are not based upon true knowledge of God or upon the truth, much less do they rest upon guidance from the Holy Spirit. Even though there are times when some of what people do is directed by the Holy Spirit, this is not an expression of the life, much less is it the same as knowing God; no matter how good a person’s behavior is, it does not prove that they have submitted to God or that they put the truth into practice” (“The Difference Between External Changes and Changes in Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks). “Transformation in disposition mainly refers to the transformation of a person’s nature. The things of a person’s nature cannot be seen from external behaviors; they are directly related to the worth and significance of his existence. That is, they directly involve a person’s outlook on life and his values, the things in the depths of his soul, and his essence. If a person cannot accept the truth, he will undergo no transformation in these aspects. Only by experiencing God’s work, fully entering the truth, changing one’s values and one’s outlooks on existence and life, aligning one’s views with God’s, and becoming capable of completely submitting to and being devoted to God, can one’s disposition be said to have transformed” (“What Should Be Known About Transforming One’s Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks).
Brother Lin said: “A change in behavior doesn’t mean one’s life disposition has changed, or that one is obedient and loyal to God. Lots of people who believe in the Lord do good deeds. They give to charity, help the poor, and make sacrifices. But when they encounter adversity, they complain about God. They deny Him and betray Him. Is this true obedience to God? There are pastors and elders who talk a lot about love, but who only bless and pray for those who donate to the church. Is this real love? Some people seem humble and patient, but their natures are arrogant and conceited. Their explanations of the Bible serve to inflate themselves and confuse people. They vie for power within the church and even embezzle the church’s money. Some pastors pretend to help and support believers, and appear loving, but when believers’ spirits are parched and their faith cools because of the desolation in the churches, they can’t resolve their problems. They even stop believers listening to others or finding the church that has the work of the Holy Spirit. They don’t think about their lives. Isn’t that hypocrisy? The Pharisees also showed love to others, and seemed devout on the surface. But when the Lord Jesus came, they didn’t investigate His work. They resisted, condemned, and framed Him. They even colluded with the Romans to have Him nailed to the cross. This goes to show that superficial good behavior is not the same as practicing the truth, knowing God or submitting to Him. Unless our sinful nature is resolved, we can still resist or betray God. But not those who change their dispositions. Because their sinful nature and satanic dispositions have been resolved. No matter what situation they’re in, or what trials they face, they won’t go against or resist God. They’re able to submit to Him and show loyalty. They practice humility, and patience, and show principled love for each other, not just a superficial or muddled love. Their actions are based on God’s words. This shows they’ve changed their dispositions. At this point we should all be clear that to free ourselves from sin and receive salvation, doing good deeds is not enough. We must purify and change our corrupt dispositions. If we want to thoroughly free ourselves from our sinful nature, and get to know God, submit to Him, and love Him, we have to accept the work of judgment upon the Lord’s return. Only if our corrupt dispositions are purified can we enter God’s kingdom.”
I agreed very much with what Brother Lin said. I told him: “Those two passages you read are great. A person’s good behavior doesn’t mean they can’t commit sin or resist God, and it doesn’t mean they’re pure, or are fit to enter the kingdom. If the Lord didn’t come back to save us, we’d never be able to free ourselves from sin. How will the Lord perform the work of judgment to purify man when He returns?”
Brother Lin smiled, and said: “The Bible contains many prophecies about this, such as ‘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: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come’ (John 16:12–13). ‘And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day’ (John 12:47–48). These passages state that the Lord will return to express the truth and judge corrupted humanity.” As for how He will do this, Brother Lin showed me another passage. “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” (“Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Brother Lin said: “In the last days, the Lord Jesus will express the truth, and judge and purify humanity. These truths do not concern our surface behaviors, like smoking, drinking, arguing, being intolerant, and so on. They are designed to reveal our satanic dispositions and the essence of our nature, to dissect our misguided thoughts and intentions. Through what God’s words reveal, we can see how we are deeply corrupted by Satan, filled with such satanic dispositions as arrogance, deceit, viciousness and wickedness. Dominated by our arrogant nature, we always want to be top dog and held in high esteem, wanting to control everything. We work hard for God, and make sacrifices, but only to receive His grace and blessing in return. When faced with hardship, we blame and resist Him. God’s words judge us to show us that we lack a normal person’s conscience and reason. We see the truth of our corruption by Satan, and we begin to hate and curse ourselves, and to truly repent in our hearts. Meanwhile, the judgment and revelation of God’s words show us what kind of people God likes, and who He blesses, as well as who He detests and curses. We experience how God’s righteous disposition is unoffendable, and produce a heart that reveres God. Once our viewpoint begins to change, when something happens, we can try to understand God’s will, and practice God’s word. Slowly, we will start to escape our corrupt, satanic dispositions, and be able to truly revere and submit to God. This way, the problem of our sinful nature is resolved at its root.”
I felt that what Brother Lin had read weren’t things an ordinary person could possibly say. So, I asked him who had said them. He told me: “This was spoken by Almighty God, Christ of the last days. Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned. Almighty God has already expressed millions of words, which have been collected into The Word Appears in the Flesh. People who love truth and truly believe in God from all religions have returned before Almighty God after hearing His voice. They are experiencing the judgment of His words and their life dispositions have some changes. The website for The Church of Almighty God contains the testimonies of many brothers and sisters.” I was thrilled to hear this. I said: “These words feel different because they’re God’s words! I’d never dreamt I would welcome the Lord’s return. I really am blessed!” Later, I went online again, and saw many testimonies of people who’d been judged through God’s words and had their corrupt dispositions changed, like “I Can Finally Live Out a Bit of Human Likeness,” “Judgment Is the Light,” “How I Received the Judgment of Christ of the Last Days,” “God’s Judgment Purified Me.” I felt how Almighty God’s work could purify and change people, and knew that Almighty God really was the return of the Lord Jesus! I eagerly accepted God’s new work. My heart was filled with gratitude to God. I thanked God for using the brothers and sisters to preach the gospel to me, for the honor of hearing His voice, and giving me a way to purify my sins!