The Path to the Kingdom of Heaven
By Marcelita, the Philippines
As for getting into the kingdom of heaven, many think that since we have faith in the Lord and our sins have been forgiven, when the Lord comes He’ll rapture us straight into the kingdom of heaven. Others believe that only the holy can see the Lord, thinking, “We can’t help but sin constantly and we haven’t cast off the fetters of sin, so can we really get into His kingdom?” To this question, some may say that in spite of our sinfulness, the Lord Jesus is our eternal sin offering, so He will forgive us as long as we confess our sins, and then He won’t see us as sinful, so we’ll be able to enter His kingdom. But I think that even though the Lord has forgiven our sins, the Scriptures say: “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26). This proves that the Lord won’t forgive our sins unconditionally forever. So just how are we supposed to enter into the kingdom of heaven? I could never figure this out until I read Almighty God’s words and found the path of purification and entry into God’s kingdom.
I was born into a Christian household, and attended church with my parents from a young age. I also actively participated in church activities. As an adult, I expended myself for the Lord even more zealously. Sometimes I’d even accompany the pastor to hold out-of-town prayer gatherings. But despite all my enthusiasm, I wasn’t getting any real spiritual satisfaction. The pastor’s sermons were always on the same old things. There was nothing new or enlightening. And personally, I wasn’t able to live by the Lord’s teachings. I was always caught up in a cycle of sinning and confessing. For example, when I saw that my mom gave my siblings presents or money but rarely gave me anything, I’d become jealous and angry and complain about her. In my service for the church, whenever the pastor would give me tasks, I’d think that he must be favoring me. I’d be filled with pride and even look down on the other co-workers. The Scriptures say: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). But I was still having all these jealous, hateful and condescending thoughts. I couldn’t get along well with my family, much less love others as myself and achieve harmony with all men. I hadn’t attained holiness. The Lord is holy, so how could someone like me be commended by the Lord and get into His kingdom? I was really confused, and so I sought help from my pastor and church friends. But the pastor just said, “As believers, our sins have been forgiven. The Lord Jesus’ sin offering is effective forever. So for all our sins committed in the past and in the future, as long as we pray and confess to the Lord, He’ll forgive us unconditionally. Then the Lord will see us as without sin and we’ll be allowed into His kingdom. We must have faith in the Lord.” Yet the pastor’s words didn’t resolve my confusion. The Lord does forgive our sins, but why does the Bible also say “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26)? This proves that the Lord won’t forgive our sins unconditionally forever. I hadn’t gained any clarity, so I could only console myself by thinking: The Lord’s love is boundless and infinite, so maybe the pastor is right. As long as I pray and confess, He won’t hold those sins against me, and when the Lord comes He’ll rapture me into the kingdom of heaven. After that, I just kept reading the Bible and attending services, hoping that I’d get into His kingdom when the Lord came.
I later met Sister Wang and Sister Li online. We all chatted a lot, encouraging and motivating each other in our faith and sharing our thoughts. One day, Sister Wang asked me, “What is your greatest hope as a believer?” Without the slightest hesitation, I said, “Getting into God’s kingdom, of course!” Then she asked, “So do you know what kind of people can get into God’s kingdom?”
When she said that, I thought to myself, “This is exactly what I’ve been confused about. My pastor and church friends all say that by being baptized in the Lord’s name, our sins are forgiven and we can enter the kingdom of heaven. Does this question mean she has a different opinion?” Then she said, “I used to think that in our faith, as long as we accept the Lord’s name, pray and confess in His name, then the Lord will forgive our sins and when He comes, He’ll rapture us into the kingdom of heaven. But later I realized that even though our sins are forgiven by believing in the Lord, we’re still prone to sinning and resisting Him. For instance: the Lord requires that we love others as ourselves, practice forbearance, be salt and light to glorify Him, but we’re always getting caught up in arguments over petty little things. We blame the Lord and betray Him in the face of trials. We only work and expend ourselves to enter His kingdom. This is transactional. Living this way isn’t remotely in accord with the Lord’s will. The Scriptures clearly state: ‘[Y]ou shall therefore be holy, for I am holy’ (Leviticus 11:45). ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant stays not in the house for ever: but the Son stays ever’ (John 8:34–35). God is holy and righteous and the kingdom of heaven is under His rule. It’s a holy land. God will not allow the filthy to sully His holy land. Those who are always sinning and resisting the Lord are still servants to sin, and absolutely cannot get into God’s kingdom. God has told us very clearly, in our faith we must free ourselves of filth and achieve purification to enter into His kingdom.”
I was deeply moved by Sister Wang’s fellowship. I thought back on all my years of faith. I read the Bible every day and prayed to the Lord confessing my sins countless times, and yet I was still caught up in the cycle of sinning and confessing. I argued with my parents over little things a lot and was jealous of my siblings. In church, I was disparaging and condescending to other church members. After years of faith, I couldn’t even practice basic forbearance. I certainly hadn’t been purified and was unworthy of the kingdom of heaven!
So I said to Sister Wang, “You’re right. In our faith, we often lie and sin and can’t free ourselves from sin. I can really identify with that. This has always really confused me. When we’re constantly sinning, can we really enter God’s kingdom? I sought out the advice of my pastor and other church members, but I never got a satisfactory answer. Through our fellowship, I’m finally gaining some understanding. Believers who are always sinning and haven’t been purified can’t enter into God’s kingdom. But I still don’t understand, why do we keep sinning since the Lord has forgiven our sins as believers?”
In response to my question, Sister Wang read a few passages of Almighty God’s words. “For all that man may have been redeemed and forgiven of his sins, it can only be considered as God not remembering the transgressions of man and not treating man in accordance with his transgressions. However, when man, who lives in a body of flesh, has not been set free from sin, he can only continue to sin, endlessly revealing his corrupt satanic disposition. This is the life that man leads, an endless cycle of sinning and being forgiven. The majority of mankind sin in the day only to confess in the evening. This way, even though the sin offering is forever effective for man, it will not be able to save man from sin. Only half the work of salvation has been completed, for man still has a corrupt disposition. … It is not easy for man to become aware of his sins; he has no way of recognizing his own deeply rooted nature, and he must rely on judgment by the word in order to achieve this result. Only thus can man gradually be changed from this point onward” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “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” (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Then she shared fellowship with me, saying: “During the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus only did the work of redemption, not the work of mankind’s purification or transformation. We all know that late in the Age of Law, people were in danger of execution for not abiding by the law. God could not bear to see people being killed for this, so He became flesh and was crucified as a sin offering for mankind, redeeming man of their sins. By receiving the Lord Jesus’ salvation and confessing and repenting, people’s sins were forgiven and they no longer faced execution under the law. They could also enjoy the abundant grace, peace and happiness bestowed by the Lord. This forgiveness of sins refers to being freed from being condemned and put to death under the law. But that does not mean that man is free of sin, or that man will never sin again. Our sins are forgiven through our faith, but our sinful nature is still deeply rooted within us. We’re full of arrogance, deceit, evil, viciousness, and other satanic dispositions. We even go against our own conscience, lying and cheating to protect our own interests. If people don’t act the way we want them to, we get angry and reproach them. We compete for status and seek profit, we’re jealous and quarrelsome. We also pursue evil worldly trends and savor enjoyments of the flesh, and so on. We know that sinning isn’t in keeping with the Lord’s will and we often come before the Lord to repent and confess, but then we just keep sinning. All of this is the result of our satanic nature. If we don’t resolve the fundamental cause of our sinful nature, then our sins will be like the weeds cut at the stalk, growing right back from the root. To thoroughly resolve the root of our sinfulness, we need God’s judgment and purification in the last days. That’s the only way to resolve our sinful nature and be worthy of the kingdom of heaven.”
After listening to Sister Wang’s fellowship, I understood that forgiveness of sins just means the Lord Jesus forgave our sins, not that we aren’t sinful. It also doesn’t mean that the Lord will forgive our sins forever like my pastor claimed. Her fellowship was so practical, and completely in line with the Bible: “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26). What the pastor said used to leave me so confused. The Lord is holy. Will He really take us into His kingdom even though we sin all the time? I couldn’t figure it out and saw no alternative path, so I just trusted what the pastor said and kept studying the Bible and praying and confessing, hoping that when the Lord came He wouldn’t look at my sin but would take me straight into His kingdom. Thinking back now, that was such a far-fetched notion. Sister Wang had said that the Lord would perform the work of judgment to purify man at His return, so I rushed to ask her exactly how God will perform this work.
She patiently replied, “The Bible contains many prophecies about this. For instance: ‘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’ (John 16:12–13). ‘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). ‘For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God’ (1 Peter 4:17). These verses show that God will express the truth to judge and purify mankind in the last days, fully freeing them from sin and purifying and transforming their corrupt dispositions. Only thus will man be worthy to enter God’s kingdom. The Lord Jesus has now returned as the incarnate Almighty God of the last days. He expresses the truth and does the work of judgment starting with the house of God to resolve man’s sinful nature and satanic dispositions, and ultimately deliver mankind from Satan’s influence.”
Sister Wang showed me two videos of readings of God’s words. Almighty God says, “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). “By means of this work of judgment and chastisement, man will fully come to know the filthy and corrupt substance within his own self, and he will be able to change completely and become clean. Only in this way can man become worthy to return before the throne of God. All the work done this day is so that man can be made clean and be changed; through judgment and chastisement by the word, as well as through refinement, man can purge away his corruption and be made pure” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Sister Wang fellowshiped, saying: “In the last days, Almighty God expresses all truths that purify and save mankind and unveils the mysteries of God’s management work, like God’s three stages of work, the mysteries of God’s names, the mysteries of incarnation, and how God does the work of judgment. He also makes clear all truths that we should practice in our faith, for example, how to create a normal relationship with God, how to live out normal humanity, how to love and submit to God, how to believe in and serve God in line with His will, and more. God has also judged and exposed corrupt mankind’s sinful, God-resisting nature and all manner of satanic dispositions. Through the judgment of God’s words, we can see how deeply we’ve been corrupted by Satan, how we are replete with satanic dispositions like arrogance, deceit, and evil. We don’t live out the slightest semblance of humanity, but are just embodiments of Satan and are not worthy to live before God. We can also know God’s righteous and unoffendable disposition, start to hate and despise ourselves and repent to God. Then our corrupt dispositions can gradually become purified and transformed, and we can gain some fear and submission to God.” After that, Sister Wang shared her experience of accepting the judgment and chastisement of God’s words. In her faith before, she thought since she had expended herself, given up a lot, experienced hardships and made sacrifices for the Lord, she loved the Lord more and was better than other people. She’d capitalize on this and look down on others, thinking that she loved the Lord the most and was most fit to be crowned and rewarded. After receiving Almighty God’s work in the last days, she read God’s words judging and exposing mankind. She saw the following passage: “It would be best for you to dedicate more effort to the truth of knowing the self. Why have you not found favor with God? Why is your disposition abominable to Him? Why does your speech arouse His loathing? As soon as you have demonstrated a bit of loyalty, you sing your own praises, and you demand a reward for a small contribution; you look down upon others when you have shown a modicum of obedience, and become contemptuous of God upon accomplishing some petty task. … Knowing full well that you are utterly without merit, you persist in boasting all the same. Do you not feel your sense has deteriorated to the point that you no longer have self-control?” (“Those Who Are Incompatible With Christ Are Surely Opponents of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). She was anguished and ashamed after reading this. Then she realized she was always self-aggrandizing and condescending to others, even thinking she was worthy of being crowned, because she had been under the control of her arrogant satanic nature. She realized that her expending was transactional, to receive blessings, not out of love for God or to satisfy Him. She came to understand her arrogance, selfishness, and despicableness as well as the impurity of her faith. She saw she was still full of satanic dispositions and hadn’t changed a bit, and she had shamelessly and unreasonably expected to be blessed and gain entry to the kingdom of heaven. She came to hate and despise herself, and no longer thought she was any better than anyone else. She didn’t dare brag about her love for God or demand that He crown her. Instead, she accepted the judgment and chastisement of God’s words in good faith, sought to cast off her corrupt disposition, and do her best to fulfill her duty as a created being.
After hearing Sister Wang’s fellowship, I had a better understanding of how God performs His work of judgment in the last days. I thought her experience and testimony were very practical and very helpful for me. It was only after reading Almighty God’s words that Sister Wang came to grips with her arrogant disposition, and realized this disposition caused her to be conceited and condescending to others. I was just the same. The pastor favored me and called upon me for help, so I thought I was better than my brothers and sisters and would look down on them. At home, I always thought everyone’s lives should revolve around me. That was arrogant, too. I figured I could also be purified and transformed through God’s judgment and chastisement in the last days. We chatted until it was late that night. I gained a lot of spiritual sustenance and satisfaction.
Later on, I did an extensive reading of Almighty God’s words and found that not only do God’s words unveil the truth behind the mysteries of God’s work, but also detail how to cast off corrupt dispositions, how to live a meaningful life, and many other aspects of the truth. I realized that Almighty God’s words are the truth and the voice of God. I became absolutely certain that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus and formally accepted Almighty God’s work in the last days. I look back on those years of living in sin, powerless to extract myself from its clutches, how confused I was about how to enter into the kingdom of heaven, and now I’ve finally found the path to purification and the kingdom of heaven! Thanks be to Almighty God!