By Han Feifei
Salvation is a 2018 film of the Christian Church. It points out two misconceptions of many Christians about salvation, and communicates on and analyzes them. This enables believers in the Lord to reflect deeply upon the path we have taken to belief in God. And that’s a serious matter, for once we go down the wrong path, we will never achieve salvation and our belief in God will come to naught. This is also a warning the film wants to convey to the audience. In the following, let us analyze the two misconceptions of the Christians in the movie about salvation.
The First Misconception: We can attain salvation just on the basis of our sins being pardoned.
The film opens with the following scene: A table is set with a Bible, and the hero, Xu Zhiqian is praying with his hands clasped together. Then, a verse is seen in close-up, “That if you shall confess with your mouth the, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation” (Romans 10:9–10). The tone of the scene is yellow, and with the deep and low music, the hero briefly and clearly throws out the opinion of most believers in the Lord through his monologue, “Believers in the Lord Jesus think, if their sins are forgiven once, they will gain eternal salvation, and when the Lord comes, they would be directly raised to the kingdom of heaven.” Immediately after, he brings up two questions, “But what, exactly, does it mean to believe in the Lord and be saved? Does simply having our sins forgiven really qualify us to enter the kingdom of heaven?” As he says this, the camera pans, and the yellow leaves outside the window are falling. When watching this, we cannot help pondering over the two questions. Then, who can explain the true meaning of salvation?
Xu Zhiqian’s monologue tells us that after accepting God’s work in, through reading God’s words, he has understood the mysteries of God’s management plan to save mankind, reversed some of his mistaken perspectives, and knew the true meaning of by faith in the Lord…. During the monologue, the tone of the scene gradually changes from yellow to green, and the music also soars. The film opens with such a direct narration, allowing the audience to grasp its central content quickly. In the meanwhile, the hero’s opening remarks bring us into the movie.
With regard to what is being truly saved, there is a passage of fellowship in the film which wakes us up, “Salvation means that after you believe in the Lord and have your sins forgiven, you are qualified to pray to God and enjoy God’s grace, but your sinful nature and satanic disposition are still buried deep in your heart. People are still controlled by their sinful nature, and often sin. They even blame and resist God. This proves that people whose sins are forgiven still haven’t been gained by God, and they still can’t truly obey or worship God. You could say that, even though people believe in the Lord and their sins are forgiven, no matter how much of God’s grace they enjoy, they still live under Satan’s domain. They still belong to Satan. This is an indisputable fact.” The film also discusses some questions in depth, such as: Why after we believe in the Lord and our sins are forgiven, do we still sin so often? Why no matter how hard we try can’t we escape the bondage and the restrictions of sin? What is the difference between “being saved” and “salvation”? And through the truth expressed by Almighty God, the film reveals the mysteries contained within these questions and resolves the confusion in people’s hearts. It tells much of its story by putting forward questions and then fellowshiping the answers revealed in God’s words, which motivates the development of the plot and makes the film taut.
The Second Misconception: We can attain salvation just by doing some work, running to and fro, and enduring suffering.
Some plots in the former part of the film show that the hero Xu Zhiqian works hard, runs around, and has endured some suffering. For example, after his wife was arrested, his daughter finds him and tells him this matter in tears. When hearing this, he behaves rationally, consoling her and saying, “I knew this day would come.” From this we can see that he has a great aspiration to suffer in believing in God, so he does not complain in the face of this matter.
Being able to do some work and preach sermons to resolve brothers and sisters’ problems, Xu Zhiqian is very popular and highly praised. Thus, he considers that he has the reality of truth and is not far from achieving salvation. But at this time, Brother Li, who works with him, points out some problems of his, “I’ve realized you’re like me. We both have the same problem. In our sermons, we both talk too much about our understanding and illumination, and not enough about our real experiences. For example, when we fellowship on, we rarely talk about our own condition, about the rebelliousness or corruption exposed in us, how we understand our own satanic nature, or how we seek the truth to solve it and what changes we’ve made. We both lack those details. In our sermons, we only focus on how to solve other people’s problems, but we rarely practice the truth. We supply the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit to others, but we don’t have any experience of practice. Our fellowship on the truth to others is clear, but we have very little entry into the reality of truth. This is a defect both of us share.” Brother Li’s words cause Xu Zhiqian to sink into contemplation. Afterward, through reading God’s words and reflecting upon himself, he knows God’s will and requirements, and realizes that if he merely focuses on preaching to others yet he himself does not practice the truth, he cannot gain the truth and achieve salvation. He suddenly becomes aware that he is in a dangerous condition, as if awakening from a dream.
Later on, the hero learns that his wife was beaten to death by the Chinese Communist Party’s police. This astonishing surprise blow sends him into a state that he feels extreme pain and sorrow in his heart. When the story reaches this point, it is drawing to an end. But I think this is the climax of the film. The death of Xu Zhiqian’s wife hits him hard and in the face of this, he reveals many negative thoughts and states. Only then does he have some knowledge of his despicable intentions and impurities in his. He also sees that his stature is truly so small, that he has neither any faith in God nor reality of the truth. The most important thing is that he realizes that even if he has done much work, endured much suffering, and taken many paths, it doesn’t represent that he can stand witness to satisfy God in tribulations and trials. Through self-reflection, Xu Zhiqian has a deep knowledge of the path he has taken in his faith in God, which also brings the audience some inspiration.
As the proverb says, “A leopard cannot change his spots.” Though we mankind have been rescued and redeemed from sin and no longer belong to sin, the corruption within us still remains, and we still do not know God and are full of disobedience of and resistance to God. It is just as Almighty God’s word says, “The chance that you will betray Me remains at one hundred percent.”
At the end of the film, the hero Xu Zhiqian releases a sigh, “How am I any different than the hypocritical Pharisees?” This word is truly meaningful. It is expressed by him from the bottom of his heart after he understands God’s will, and is also a question that we need to carefully ponder and think about.
The film succeeds in pointing out the cause of the two misconceptions about salvation, an attractive topic, and the manifestation and consequence of man holding them. More importantly, it shows the audience the way to dispel the misconceptions, brings people the hope of gaining salvation and entering to the heavenly kingdom, and makes the audience come to a new understanding of what true salvation is. The title Salvation is the thread that runs through the film. Through the true experience of the hero Xu Zhiqian, the film explains its true meaning, and points out to Christians the direction of seeking salvation. This film is really worth watching.
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