By Lu Qing, Hong Kong
The Bible says, “That if you shall confess with your mouth the 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 , 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 , 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 . 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 of heaven when the Lord returns.
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 . 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 (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 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.”