By Mingzhi, United States
After my arrival in America, what impressed me most were many towering churches and neat rows of European-style houses. Many kinds of flowers were planted in the yard of these houses. Many small ceramic animals were placed on small lawns, and they were lifelike and cute.
I heard a friend say that the main reason why America is especially rich and powerful is that American worship God and have His blessings. “IN GOD WE TRUST” was even printed on their money. I was drawn to my friend’s narration deeply, and I felt that it was a great thing toand have God’s blessings. Therefore, I went to his church and believed in the Lord after him.
At first, I was especially enthusiastic. I seriously readand attended gatherings. Besides, I often watched Christian videos and listened to sermons online. Gradually, I understood that the had not only atoned for mankind by being crucified but given them greater blessings and promises—to enter the kingdom of heaven and to receive . Pondering , I was often moved to tears. So, I worked harder in my pursuit, strictly observed the Lord’s teachings and acted according to His words.
However, unknowingly, our church changed. The pastor’s sermons didn’t have enlightenment; it often happened that the workers fought both openly and in secret, excluded each other and formed cliques; many believers gambled at cards, drank and quarreled with others. And I couldn’t follow the Lord’s teachings, either. When my children didn’t obey me, I couldn’t help scolding them angrily; when encountering something not to my liking, I would complain to God. These things made me feel troubled.
One day, I saw these scriptures: “Be you holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). I suddenly realized: My pastor often said, “As long as we pray, worship and contribute money every week, we can enter into the kingdom of heaven.” However, entering the kingdom of heaven wasn’t as simple as he said it to be. Rather, we need to attain purification. Judging from the current situation of the church and my spiritual condition of repeatedly committing sins and confessing them, I haven’t been purified at all. I was anxious and confused by this. Therefore, I asked my pastor about the way of no longer committing sins and confessing them. But he said: “You will attain purification and enter into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord returns, as long as you remain in the church, listen to the sermons, and repent.” Later, someone introduced some online famous pastors to me, and advised me to listen to the sermons about entering into the kingdom of heaven. At first, I felt their sermons seemed to make some sense. However, after pondering carefully, I felt their words were ambiguous and gave no path. Instead, the more I listened, the more confused I was.
One day in December 2017, I met a sister on the street. We hit it right off. I found the sister’s views and opinions of some things were really insightful and were beyond my thoughts. Thereupon, I told her about my doubts that I had had for many years, and then the sister invited me to join their Bible study group so that we could discuss about these questions together. I was happy to accept her invitation.
In New York in December, the warm sun was shining on the earth, bringing warmth to those people who traveled in cold winter. Bathed in the sunshine, I felt especially released and happy. At the appointed time, I came to the Bible study group with the sister and met several brothers and sisters there. They each gave a warm introduction about their own backgrounds and experiences of faith in the Lord. Gradually, I became one of them and told them what confused me: “My pastor said that, as long as we pray, repent and contribute money in the church, we can be raptured into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord returns. What do you think of this?”
At that time, a brother suggested that before starting the formal fellowship we first pray to God and let God lead our gatherings and fellowships. Seeing their attitudes of piety and hearts of revering God, I felt released somewhat in my heart.
After praying, Brother Liu, a preacher, said: “As believers in the Lord, we should listen to His words and act according to His words. In this way, we cannot possibly be wrong. As to who may enter into the kingdom of heaven, the Lord Jesus had made it very clear. Let’s read these words together: ‘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).also says, ‘Be you holy; for I am holy’ (1 Peter 1:16). From God’s words, we can understand that we must attain purification and follow God’s will if we want to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Apparently, the pastor’s saying doesn’t conform with the criterion of entering into the kingdom of heaven that the Lord Jesus set. Just think: Do these people who pray, repent and contribute money free from the bonds of sin? Are they those who do God’s will? We all know: The people in the churches widely pray, repent and contribute money, but these people can’t still extricate themselves from living in the conditions of confessing sins and committing them. This is an undeniable fact. Perhaps someone says that God will forgive all sins of man as long as we confess sins and repent. In fact, the Lord Jesus’ forgiveness of our sins only means that we are not of sin. But our satanic corrupt dispositions, namely, arrogance, selfishness, deceit, evil, and so on, still remain inside us. These things are deeper and more tenacious than sin. If these corrupt dispositions and satanic nature haven’t been solved, we cannot help but commit sins or resist God. The Lord Jesus said: ‘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 Bible also says: ‘… holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14). All people who pray, repent and kept contributing money still have sinful nature. Even though they seem reverent from the outside, their hearts are filled with filth, and they often commit sins and resist God. This is a fact. So, the opinion “as long as we stay in the church, pray to the Lord and repent, we needn’t resolve our sinful nature and can enter into the kingdom of heaven” is only our human notion and imagination and isn’t in accordance with the truth or God’s word.”
“What the brother fellowshiped conforms with the Bible and God’s will. God is holy, so His kingdom must also want people without filth. How are we fit to enter into God’s kingdom who commit sins and confess them every day? Through the fellowship I also understand this: The reason why we live in sin all the time is that we have sinful nature; as long as we resolve it, we can attain purification. Then, how can we resolve our sinful nature and free ourselves from sin?” At this thought, I said: “Brother Liu, I can understand and agree with your fellowship. The pastor’s opinion indeed has no biblical basis and is unbelievable. But there is still a question: How can we free ourselves from sin and attain purification?”
The brother nodded, and opened his lectures with various pictures on his computer, saying: “If we want to get rid of sin, we must understand several points: First, the source of sin; second, whether we can get rid of sin by ourselves or not; third, how God works to resolve our sins when we cannot extricate ourselves from living in sin.”
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