By Wang Zhen
It is said in the Bible, “For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation” (Romans 10:10). Many of us therefore believe that by believing in the Lord Jesus, we are already saved and once saved always saved, so when the Lord returns we will automatically be raptured into the kingdom of heaven. However, some brothers and sisters feel perplexed: We commit sins in the day and confess them at night, and often lose our tempers at people; we frequently tell lies and are capable of deceiving people and God, and haven’t become as a little child. God is holy, and absolutely no sinner is permitted to enter the kingdom of heaven. So, will the Lord rapture people like us when He returns?
This question is really worth seeking, for it is directly related to the important issue of whether or not we can enter into the kingdom of heaven when the second coming of the Lord arrives. In order to find the answer, we need to understand this question: What is the meaning of being saved? Think back to the late period during the Age of Law. Because mankind was being corrupted more and more deeply by Satan, they committed more and more sins. If this continued, man would face the danger of being executed by the laws. God took mercy on mankind, however, and in order to save mankind He became flesh to preach the gospel of the heavenly kingdom. He healed the sick, cast out demons and brought people rich and bountiful grace; He taught man to love each other and to be tolerant, humble and patient. In the end, He was crucified and became the sin offering for all mankind. From that point on, so long as we repented and confessed our sins and prayed to the name of the Lord Jesus, then we would no longer be condemned by the laws because of our faith, and we would be saved. Just as it is recorded in the Bible: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1–2). “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” (Romans 10:9). Therefore, “being saved by faith” that we talk about means that our sins are absolved, and that we won’t be condemned or sentenced to death by the laws—this is the true meaning of being saved.
Now at this point, some brothers and sisters may say: “The Lord has redeemed us from sin, and as we were saved once, then we are always saved, so we will be able to enter the kingdom of heaven.” But does this saying accord with the Lord’s words? Only Christ is the Lord of the kingdom of heaven, and only the words of the Lord Jesus have authority and are the truth. Man’s words, however, are not the truth, and they are not the standards by which one can enter the kingdom of heaven. The Lord Jesus never once said that those who have been saved by their faith may enter into the kingdom of heaven, but rather, He said: “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” (Matthew 7:21). “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). The Lord Jesus’ words state very clearly that those who live lives whereby they sin and then repent are the servants of sin, and that those who are still bound by sin like this cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Jehovah God said, “You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45). God is holy, and all those in God’s kingdom are capable of doing God’s will, are honest people who can practice the truth and stand witness, and are people such as Abraham, Job, and Peter. But look at our current condition: Though we have been forgiven of our sins by our faith in the Lord Jesus, our sinful natures still exist. Controlled by our sinful natures, we can still be arrogant and self-important, so much so that we look down on others, belittle others, exclude others and judge others; when we encounter issues which relate to money or touch upon our own personal interests, we are capable of scheming against each other, engaging in deception and deceiving people and God; while we believe in God, we can also worship and follow men, and listen to the words of men before those of God; as we serve God, we still often rely on our own notions, testify and exalt ourselves, and take God as our enemy; when we achieve status, we are capable of entrapping and controlling others, splitting into cliques in the church and establishing our own independent fiefdoms; when disasters happen, whether man-made or natural, we can often blame God and misunderstand Him, so much so that we even betray Him. … Since there are so many aspects of us that are not compatible with God, and our sins haven’t been cleansed, this proves that we are unable to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Let’s read a passage in a book, and we will understand more clearly. It says in the book: “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”). From this passage we understand that the Lord Jesus’ redeeming us is God showing us mercy and no longer seeing us as sinners. It does not mean, however, that we have cast off all sin and been purified, much less does it mean that we are able to enter the kingdom of heaven. We haven’t broken away from the binds and restrictions of sin and still live in a vicious cycle of sinning and confessing. Dominated by our satanic natures, such as being arrogant and conceited, crooked and treacherous, and selfish and base, we cannot get along with each other, let alone be compatible with God, so how can we enter God’s kingdom? It’s clear that if we want to enter the kingdom of heaven, we need God to perform a stage of work of cleansing and changing man to expunge our sinful nature. Only when we achieve dispositional change and are purified, can obey God and love God, and become compatible with God, will we be able to be raptured up to the kingdom of heaven by God.
How then will the Lord do His work to purify and change our corrupt dispositions when His second coming arrives? In fact, the Lord Jesus has told us about this aspect. He said: “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). The Bible also 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” (Hebrews 9:28). From this we can see that God has many things to say and has the work of judgment to do, but because people’s statures in the Age of Grace were too small, and also because mankind has been too profoundly corrupted, God needs to save and change us stage by stage. Therefore, God first became flesh to redeem mankind and grant us redemption, and in the last days when His second coming arrives, He will tell us about all the truth we do not understand, reveal all mysteries to us, and do a stage of judgment work to thoroughly cleanse us and allow us to become compatible with Him. Only when we have our satanic dispositions purified and become people who do the will of the heavenly Father can we achieve the standards for entering into the kingdom of heaven, and only then are we qualified to be raptured into heaven.
Through the fellowship above, we can determine that when the Lord comes back, He will express new words to the churches and do the work of judgment and purification. So, if someone testifies to us that the Lord has already returned and is expressing His words and doing His work of judgment beginning in God’s family, it is very likely that this is the appearance of God. The Lord Jesus said: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him” (Matthew 25:6). We should be the wise virgins, pay attention to hearing God’s voice and actively seek, rather than live within our notions and imaginings and refuse to listen, see, seek and investigate. This is the only way that we won’t shut the Lord outside and are able to welcome His second coming.