Does Being Forgiven Our Sins Mean We Are Saved?
By Lu Qing, Hong Kong
The Bible says, “That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved” (Rom 10:9). “For whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom 10:13). Believing in the Lord, we think that as long as we accept the salvation of the Lord Jesus’ crucifixion, we are already saved, and that whoever confessing with the mouth, believing in the heart and being baptized shall be saved. It is because we will always be saved once we are saved. However, we have to face a realistic question: Although we are saved, we continue to live in a state of sinning and confessing without any outlet. What is really going on? Is being saved equal to receiving full salvation?
Being Perplexed and Confused
In April, 1999, I came to work in Hong Kong. On a Christmas day, I heard hymns of praising the Lord Jesus being broadcast on the radio. Out of curiosity, I asked a friend, “Who is the Lord Jesus?” As he was just a Christian, he said to me, “The Lord Jesus is God. He is the God who has redeemed the human race.” Hearing this, I showed much curiosity and wanted to know a lot about that. But since my home was far from his, it was inconvenient for us to meet and communicate, and besides, he never took me to attend any gathering in the church. So I myself began to set foot on the journey of seeking after the Lord Jesus. Wherever there was a sign of the cross or a slogan “I love you, the Lord Jesus,” I would go and look for the Lord Jesus, yet not finding a proper church all the way. Later, I got to know a preacher from my friend. Through listening to his fellowship, I knew that in order to redeem mankind, the Lord Jesus was crucified, taking on the sins of the whole of mankind. I was moved by the Lord’s great undertaking, as well as was warmed and surrounded by His immense love, the warmth and comfort of home emerging from my heart. From then onward, I walked on the path of believing God. At that time, I was very enthusiastic about attending Sunday worship. After a year I was baptized. After that, I participated in various activities in the church, such as visiting old folks’ homes, handing out leaflets and spreading the gospel in the street, and attending revival meetings. Additionally, I attached importance to the pursuit of biblical knowledge and always prayed to the Lord, “Lord! I’m here. Send me, please. I am ready to repay Your love!” Thanks be to the Lord. He heard my prayers, and enlightened and guided me, too.
Afterward, I, with a passionate heart, went back to mainland China to spread the gospel to the people in my hometown. My parents and some local people were all willing to listen to the way of the Lord. Thereupon, I supported them there temporarily. Since I was about to return to Hong Kong to work, I consulted with the pastor of the local church, wishing him to support them. Unexpectedly, my request gave rise to his resentment. He said to me impatiently, “If they want to listen to the sermons, they can come to the church. How much will we pay to go there?” After hearing his words, I prayed to the Lord for this difficulty. Under the inspiration of the Lord, I was ready to expend the fares in preaching the Lord’s gospel. As a consequence, I gave him four hundred yuan for his fare each month. But he still didn’t go to support those people even though I had given him four thousand yuan in total. He just accepted the money as church offerings. To tell the truth, his actions made me puzzled. I thought: Is the pastor not the servant of the Lord? How can he not have a sense of responsibility? How can he lack even the most basic love? Does he put himself in the position?
In Hong Kong, the pastors work in the church and get their pay. The church I belonged to has a rule: Provided a pastor has more than seven years of experience in the church, he or she is allowed to be not at work for ten months in one year with pay. We can know that the earnings of the pastors come from the offerings made by the believers. If a pastor doesn’t come to preach sermons for ten months but still gets the pay, isn’t he or she feeding on the offerings? Is this after the Lord’s will? Furthermore, having followed the Lord for so many years, I felt a lot far from the requirements of the Lord in the spiritual life. The Lord demands that we love our neighbors as ourselves, but I couldn’t put it into practice. I did many things that are against the Lord’s will, and didn’t even think that was a big deal. When praying, I said nice words; when practicing, however, I acted in another way. The worldly people eat and drink and play, and follow along with the trends. I was not an exception. I lived in sin and was unable to extricate myself from it. I also knew what I had done was not in accordance with the will of the Lord, and yet I still didn’t have the solution to it, feeling confused and losing confidence in being raptured into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord returns.
Knowing What Salvation Is When Welcoming the Lord’s Return
On the New Year’s Day of 2015, I paid a visit to a friend. There happened to be another friend of hers at her home. After introduction, I knew her friend was also a sister in the Lord. After knowing about each other, her friend started to talk with me about faith in God. In our talk, I felt she was very familiar with the Bible and she could solve many problems that had puzzled me for long. During the past ten years, I had never heard such enlightening preaching from the pastor in the church. Especially when I heard her fellowshiping the topics, like what being saved is and what being fully saved is, I showed a keen interest. I said to her, “I feel somewhat confused about these following scriptures in the Bible ‘That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved’ (Rom 10:9) and ‘For whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved’ (Rom 10:13). Believing in the Lord, we think that we have already been saved by the salvation of the Lord Jesus’ crucifixion, and that whoever confessing with the mouth, believing in the heart and being baptized shall be saved. Once saved, always saved. However, we continue to live in a state of sinning and confessing without any outlet. What is this really about?”
After hearing my words, she fellowshiped, “Back then, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and bore the enslavement and ill-treatment of the Pharaoh, their sorrowful voice reaching the presence of God. Jehovah God sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt, so they could break away from the life of slaves under the domain of the Pharaoh. They, via wilderness, went to Canaan — a land of blessing prepared by God for them. They were saved because of their going out of Egypt. Yet, considering the disordered life condition of the Israelites who had gone out of Egypt, they were still in need of God’s salvation. Subsequently, God set forth statutes and ordinances through Moses, required people to build the temple and altars, and asked them to worship Jehovah God. Using laws, God restricted people’s behaviors and led them to live. The Israelites of that time could be blessed and protected by God if they adhered to the laws, otherwise they would be cursed and punished by God. We can see that the people in the Age of Law were saved through observing the law. But with the arrival of the final stages of the Age of Law, people became ever more corrupt, committed more and more sins and didn’t have enough sin offerings to atone for their sins. The wages of sin are death. So they all faced the danger of being executed by the law. Based on the management plan of God and the demands of man, God was incarnated and came to the human world. He was personally crucified and became mankind’s sin offering, redeeming mankind from the law forever. Henceforth, on condition that man believes in the Lord Jesus, he can be forgiven of his sins, and no longer is convicted because he is unable to abide by the law. He is saved owing to the redemption of the Lord. As can be seen, being saved means that after man believes in the Lord Jesus, as long as he confesses and repents, he will be forgiven of his sins and won’t be executed by the law anymore. Moreover, he can enjoy peace, joy, and rich grace the Lord Jesus bestows to him. This is the true meaning of being saved in the Age of Grace. Just as the Bible says, ‘For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God’ (Eph 2:8). Here, being saved only means that we are forgiven of our sins and are not condemned by the law anymore. But we haven’t broken away from sins. In real life, we still live in the vicious circle of sinning by day and confessing by night, and still can’t break us free from it. Just as the Bible records, ‘But the scripture has concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe’ (Gal 3:22).”
Does Being Saved Mean Escaping the Bondage of Sin?
Immediately after her fellowship, she let me read several passages of God’s words, “At the time Jesus’ work was the redemption of all mankind. The sins of all who believed in Him were forgiven; as long as you believed in Him, He would redeem you; if you believed in Him, you were no longer a sinner, you were relieved of your sins. This is what it meant to be saved, and to be justified by faith. Yet in those who believed, there remained that which was rebellious and opposed God, and which still had to be slowly removed. Salvation did not mean man had been completely gained by Jesus, but that man was no longer of sin, that he had been forgiven his sins: Provided you believed, you would never more be of sin” (“The Vision of God’s Work (2)”).
“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 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. And so you, a sinner who has just been redeemed, are incapable of directly inheriting God’s inheritance” (“Concerning Appellations and Identity”).
“Though man has been redeemed and forgiven of his sins, it is only considered as God not remembering the transgressions of man and not treating man in accordance with man’s transgressions. However, when man lives in the flesh and he has not been set free from sin, he can only continue to sin, endlessly revealing the corrupt satanic disposition. This is the life that man leads, an endless cycle of sin and forgiveness. The majority of men sin in the day only to confess in the evening. As such, even if the sin offering is forever effective for man, it would not be able to save man from sin. Only half the work of salvation has been completed, for man still has corrupt disposition” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)”).
Thanks for God’s enlightenment. God’s words made me understand this: The redemptive work of the Lord Jesus during the Age of Grace was merely to forgive us for our sins. Through believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are forgiven of our sins, no longer under condemnation, and qualified to come before the Lord to pray and repent, enjoying God’s grace and blessings. But our sinful nature has not been resolved. God is holy. How can He permit a person who often sins to enter into His kingdom? How can we corrupt humans achieve compatibility with God?
She continued fellowshiping, “God’s words make it very clear: Having been redeemed by the Lord Jesus, we have our sins pardoned on account of the salvation of God. God doesn’t think we are of sin, but this does not prove that we don’t have sins. It is only because God will not remember our sin and not treat us as sinners. The Lord Jesus’ redemptive work just pardoned our sins, and it didn’t pardon corrupt disposition. So, our satanic disposition and sinful nature still exist. Those who have received the Lord Jesus’ grace of redemption still can’t help but commit sins and resist God. Thus we still need God to come and do a higher, more thorough stage of work, to utterly dispel our corrupt disposition through judgment by the word. Only thus can we be freed from the binding of sin and receive God’s full salvation.”
What Is Full Salvation?
The sister went on fellowshiping, “Let’s read another verse, ‘And holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord’ (Heb 12:14). Our corruption has not been cleansed. We still live under the influence of Satan, being in the shackles and restraints of sin. This is not called truly being saved by God. Such people are unqualified to see the Lord. And moreover, it was prophesied a long time ago in the Bible, ‘Who are kept by the power of God through faith to salvation ready to be revealed in the last time’ (1 Pe 1:5) and ‘So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for him shall he appear a second time without sin to salvation’ (Heb 9:28). We can know from these verses that the Lord Jesus will return to carry out a stage of work of judgment during the last days, so that we are to be completely purified and to achieve the salvation of God. Just like what the Lord Jesus said, ‘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’ (Jhn 12:47–48).”
She went on reading to me some other passages of God’s words, “When people leave behind the filthy, corrupt things of Satan, they gain God’s salvation. But if they remain incapable of divesting themselves of filth and corruption, then they will still be under the domain of Satan. People’s conniving, deceitfulness, and crookedness are things of Satan; by saving you, God separates you from these things and God’s work cannot be wrong, and is all in order to save people from darkness. When you have believed to a certain point and can divest yourself of the corruption of the flesh, and are no longer enshackled by this corruption, will you not have been saved? When you live under Satan’s domain you are incapable of manifesting God, you are something filthy, and shall not receive God’s inheritance. Once you have been cleansed and made perfect, you will be holy, and you will be normal, and you will be blessed by God and delightful to God” (“Practice (2)”).
“If one can truly enter into the reality of God’s words from the matters and the words required by Him, then he will be a person perfected by God. It can be said that the work and the words of God are completely effective for this person, that God’s words become his life, he obtains truth, and he can live according to God’s words. After this the nature of his flesh, that is, the foundation of his original existence, will shake and collapse. After one has the words of God as their life they become a new person. The words of God become his life; the vision of God’s work, His requirements of man, His revelation of man, and the standards for a true life that God requires man to achieve become his life — he lives according to these words and these truths, and this person becomes perfected by the words of God. He experiences rebirth and becomes a new man through His words” (“How to Walk the Path of Peter” in Records of Christ’s Talks).
“The stage of the last days, in which man is to be conquered, is the last stage in the battle with Satan, and also the work of man’s complete salvation from the domain of Satan. The inner meaning of man’s conquest is the return of the embodiment of Satan, man who has been corrupted by Satan, to the Creator following his conquest, through which he will forsake Satan and completely return to God. In this way, man will have been completely saved” (“Restoring the Normal Life of Man and Taking Him to a Wonderful Destination”).
The sister said, “From God’s words, we understand that there is difference between salvation and full salvation. Full salvation means that we divest ourselves of the corruption of the flesh and break free from Satan’s influence of darkness, and thus are obtained by God. God judges and chastises us in the end time through expressing His word, working all of the truths which we need to receive salvation into us, so that we can cast away our corrupt disposition, and at the same time, get a knowledge of God’s work and His righteous disposition. The same old views and our outlook on life and values will gradually be changed, so will our life disposition. Satan’s poisons, laws and philosophies will never control us. The things that are of Satan will have no place in our heart, and instead, they will be replaced by the truth. All the truths God expresses will become our life. We can live according to the truth and no longer resist or betray God; we can truly worship God, obey God and become compatibility with Him. Our living out can manifest and glorify God. This is truly being fully saved.
“Being saved means that we are forgiven of our sin through the redemption of the Lord Jesus. God doesn’t see us as sinners anymore. However, the sinful nature within us has not yet been spontaneously peeled off. We can still sin, resist and rebel against God. Therefore, those who receive salvation by grace have not been absolutely gained by God. Being fully saved, however, is based on our being forgiven of our sins. It means that through experiencing God’s work of judging, chastising, transforming, and purifying man in the last days, we can attain all the truths we need. Ultimately, we achieve dispositional change and are to be fully gained by God.”
Through the fellowship, I understood: Having been corrupted by Satan for thousands of years, we are beset by satanic poisons and the corrupt satanic natures. One filled with the corrupt satanic dispositions will inevitably rebel against and oppose God in his actions, unable to be compatible with God. Thus, God’s end-time work of judgment and chastisement is to resolve our nature of committing sins and resisting God, allowing us to be purified in our corrupt disposition. This is exactly the thing that we need in our lives. Simultaneously, I knew: Being fully saved means we are no longer to live in dependence on the corrupt dispositions of Satan, but have God’s words as our life and obtain changes in our corrupt disposition.
Through many times of sharing and fellowshiping with the sister, I thought she could communicate the truth very clearly. I knew from her that Christ of the final age — the return of Jesus the Savior has unrolled the sealed book mentioned in Revelation, has uncovered all the mysteries hidden in the Bible, and that in the scroll are all the words that Almighty God expresses for the purpose of thoroughly saving mankind, and that the judgment and chastisement of the word is for the purification and perfection of man. I felt a sudden and pleasant surprise. The Lord has returned! Beyond my expectation, I could welcome the return of the Lord for all my remaining years, which is indeed the greatest honor. Afterward, by seeking and examining God’s words, I was confirmed that Almighty God is exactly the Lord Jesus’ return. I was extremely excited and gladly accepted the work of Almighty God in the last days. Very soon, l led a church life. In our gatherings, I saw that the brothers and sisters all talked about their comprehension of God’s words, their experiences and understanding, and all fellowshiped how they had experienced the judgment and chastisement of God’s words and how they had solved their corrupt dispositions. Each time we had gatherings, I would make enormous strides in listening to what they gained from their experiencing God’s words, getting practical provision spiritually. Later on, through reading God’s word, I began to give heed to accepting the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, and to reflecting and knowing my corrupt dispositions in God’s word, and then I would seek the truth to resolve my corrupt dispositions. Gradually, I got to know some of my corrupt dispositions I revealed. In the judgment and chastisement of God’s word, I realized that my previous perspectives on believing in the Lord was for receiving blessings. In believing in God, I always demanded grace and blessings from God, asking Him to satisfy my desires and considerations. Even some of my external good behaviors or practices were motivated by my intentions and goals. That would only be in exchange for God’s blessing, and for entering into the kingdom of heaven in the future. I saw I was too selfish and despicable, without any conscience and reason of humanity. We are created beings. All for our enjoyment stem from God. Worshiping and obeying God is the law of heaven and earth. We ought not to make any unreasonable demands of God. Understanding this, I had a definite goal and direction. I resolved to pursue the truth with diligence, to lay stress on experiencing the judgment and chastisement of God to attain a transformation in my disposition and achieve the salvation of God.
Penetrating the True Face of the Contemporary Pharisees
After I attended the sumptuous feast that Almighty God prepared for me, I spread the gospel to a good friend of mine. I had thought she, a church member who took charge of Bible studies in a group in another church, would be very happy if she heard the news that the Lord had returned. Then, I asked a sister of the Church of Almighty God to give her testimony of God’s new work. At first, she expressed her great desire to listen to the sister’s sharing. Half a year later, however, she reported me to the pastor in her church, saying that I had accepted Eastern Lightning, and what’s more, she lied to the pastor about her unwillingness to listen to the way of Eastern Lightning after she had heard it twice. After that, she together with the pastor forbade me to preach the gospel to the brothers and sisters in the church, and made a phone call to the preacher of the church I belonged to, telling her my believing in Eastern Lightning. When I received the call from the preacher, I thought to myself: It’s a good chance for me to pass the very joyful news about the Lord’s return to them. When we met, the preacher asked me whether I had believed in Almighty God. I admitted it. Before I could speak, she said, “Can the pastor and I not enter into the kingdom of heaven if we don’t accept Almighty God’s work of judgment and chastisement? In believing in the Lord Jesus, we have been saved. Once saved, always saved. We’ve worked for the Lord for many years, so He won’t forsake us.” With these words, she let me repent. Whatever I fellowshiped, she didn’t accept it. Subsequently, I received the announcement of expelling me from the church.
Recalling the tone of the preacher, I found out: They think they themselves have fame and position in the religious circle, does plenty of work, and work hard. They still maintain the view “Once saved, always saved,” taking it for grant that they will certainly be raptured when the Lord comes back. I thought of God’s words, “Some people will end up saying, ‘I’ve done so much work for You, and though there may not have been celebrated achievements, still I have been diligent in my efforts. Can’t You just let me into heaven to eat the fruit of life?’ You must know what kind of people I desire; those who are impure are not permitted to enter into the kingdom, those who are impure are not permitted to besmirch the holy ground. Though you may have done much work, and have worked for many years, in the end if you are still deplorably filthy — it is intolerable to the law of Heaven that you wish to enter My kingdom! From the foundation of the world until today, never have I offered easy access to My kingdom to those who curry favor with Me. This is a heavenly rule, and no one can break it! You must seek life. Today, those who will be made perfect are the same kind as Peter: They are those who seek changes in their own disposition, and are willing to bear testimony to God and perform their duty as a creature of God. Only people such as this will be made perfect. If you only look to rewards, and do not seek to change your own life disposition, then all your efforts will be in vain — and this is an unalterable truth!” (“Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks”).
I saw God’s holy and righteous disposition in His word. Whether we can enter into God’s kingdom lies not in how much work we do or how much we suffer for the Lord, but in whether we can accept the truth expressed by God and whether we are able to gain life and the truth from Him, in whether we have a heart of seeking the truth and in whether we have reverence for God. This is very crucial and important. I thought of the church member who sought the true way. She knew quite well that the words expressed by Almighty God are the truth and the voice of God. But she resisted and convicted God’s work for the sake of her personal fame and status, and even stole God’s words as her own materials and preached them to the believers in the church. Is she not targeted at being spoken highly of, making people admire her great and profound sermons, so that the believers will look up to and exalt her, and that in the end, she gets them shackled, deceived and controlled? She is to blatantly compete with God for status and His chosen people. I then thought about those pastors and preachers in the church. When they hear someone testify the return of the Lord, they don’t seek or investigate it, but block and restrain the believers from examining God’s new work. They even do all they can to oppose and condemn Almighty God. Waving the banner of serving the Lord in the church, they are never concerned about the growth in life of the believers, nor do they resolve their difficulties and questions in believing in God, but rather pay attention only to the pursuit of fame and high status, to the blessing of status, and even to feeding on the offerings in the church, without restriction or fear or simply a heart that fears God. It is perceived that as for those who have been saved by grace and been forgiven of their sins but are still filled with the corrupt dispositions of Satan, if they don’t undergo God’s judgment and chastisement or their corrupt disposition is not to be cleansed, this kind of people who disobey and resist God then don’t have a qualification for entering into the kingdom of heaven. This is determined by God’s righteous disposition. Thank God for letting me see their true face. They are God-resisting antichrists. They are the religious Pharisees of modern time.
Thank Almighty God for cleansing and saving me by His judgment and chastisement and leading me on the true path of human life. I am willing to follow the footsteps of God to the very end of the path. All the glory and praise be to Almighty God!
Source: Walk in the Light
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