Through a New Understanding of Justification by Faith, I Find the Way to the Kingdom of Heaven

By Kemu, United States

Believing in the True God, My Heart Is Filled With Peace and Joy

My family used to be Buddhist, but in 2004, we converted to belief in the Lord Jesus alongside my aunt. At that time, I realized that human beings were made by God, and that humanity’s survival to the present is due to the Lord Jesus’ crucifixion to redeem us, and I felt that the Lord’s love is truly great. In particular, I was moved when I saw missionaries preach the gospel, visit their brothers and sisters, and help their brothers and sisters in difficulties without asking recompense. So, I was baptized into a Christian. After believing in the Lord, I enjoyed reading the Bible and listening to sermons, and that was when I read the Bible verses, “For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation” (Romans 10:10). “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). I felt that the Lord gave us so much grace. Merely by believing in the Lord Jesus we could be called righteous, have our sins redeemed, and be raptured up to the kingdom of heaven when the Lord came. These were incredible blessings! I vowed to have faith to the end. No matter what environments I encountered, I would pray, read the Bible, and remain living before God. After that, I seriously read the Bible every day, actively took part in meetings, and my heart was filled with peace, joy, and confidence.

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As My Faith Becomes Weak, I Yearn More for the Lord’s Return

I don’t know when it began, but I started to notice that my pastor’s sermons were stale and cliched. Spiritually, I wasn’t receiving provision, and I began to feel weak, not as passionate as when I first started believing in the Lord.

In 2008, after I came to the United States, to find a church with better sermons, I went to the Methodist Church, the Church of Grace, and the Church of Good News, but none of the pastors at any of these churches had anything new to say. Some pastors asked the believers to make offerings at services, saying that if they wanted to receive God’s blessings, they must first give offerings before they could have a share of the kingdom of heaven. This seemed like asking believers to use their money to buy tickets to enter the kingdom of heaven, which is not in accordance with the Lord’s teachings. The pastors on stage spoke eagerly about their previous experiences of obedience to the Lord. They made others feel as though they believed in the Lord very well, that they possessed significant life, and that the Lord loved them very much. They were showing themselves off and exalting themselves to make people worship them. One pastor even required believers to pay $600 a year to become members of the church and qualify to be church workers.

Looking at the churches I had visited, I felt that the church had changed. Pastors either preached the doctrine of making offerings, or their experiences of things that happened long ago. They didn’t testify the words of the Lord, and there was no light at all. Some preachers also found lovers, kept mistresses, and contended for the stage. The believers lived amidst evil trends, competing in what they wore and ate, did not fellowship on spiritual matters, and always talked about where they had traveled, gathered for dinner, and where to buy goods on sale. I found no light when reading the Bible, my faith became weak, and I lived in sin. I was envious when I saw others who had lovers, and my heart was full of evil thoughts. At work, when I saw good items forgotten by customers, my greed made me think of keeping them for myself. When my boss and colleagues said unpleasing words to me, I bore them externally, but I still had ideas of resentment and revenge in my heart. Especially at home, I often argued with my wife over little things, exposing my anger, and as time passed, I even thought of divorce. I often prayed to the Lord, “Lord! I don’t want to quarrel with my wife, but I can’t help myself. Lord! Please forgive my sins and help me escape the bondage of sin.” But after I confessed my sins to the Lord and repented, the same problems would reemerge. I was unable to extricate myself from the state of confession and sinning every day, and this made me especially miserable. I could only console myself by saying, “The Lord is benevolent and merciful, and has bestowed the grace of forgiveness of sins. As long as I believe, I will be called righteous. When the Lord returns, I will be brought up into the kingdom of heaven, and all this pain will pass.”

Meeting a Sister in the Lord and Gaining Much

In January 2018, I came to New York from another state. When I was shopping at the supermarket, I met Sister Cai, who also believed in the Lord. When I talked about the actual situation of the churches, I found that this sister was different from the average believer. She had some insights into the state of the churches, and had a sense of righteousness. She said, “Although the church is chaotic and desolate, we mustn’t allow ourselves to be confused by this fact. We must be wise virgins, soberly await, and listen for the Lord’s voice….” We talked long and much. Later, Sister Cai invited me to come to her house to discuss belief in God with some other brothers and sisters. I thought it was a rare chance to meet brothers and sisters I could talk to, so I happily agreed.

At Sister Cai’s house, I met Sister Wu for the first time. It didn’t feel like meeting a stranger at all, but rather a friend I had known for years. The three of us fellowshiped together, and I felt especially at ease. Sister Wu used Genesis to talk about God’s intentions in creating mankind, the root cause of mankind’s fall, how God did the work of salvation, and the depravity of humanity in the days of Noah, their stubborn refusal to change, and how ultimately God destroyed them with a flood. Afterward, God’s heart ached, so God used a rainbow to make a covenant with Noah, swearing that He would no longer destroy the world with a flood. I thought to myself, “This sister uses the Bible to speak so much light, so many things of which I’ve never heard. I truly didn’t come in vain today!” I said, “Sister, fellowship like this makes me feel God’s goodness. Before I only knew that the rainbow was the sign of God’s covenant with mankind after the flood. I didn’t know that after the flood, God showed sadness at the loss of mankind. Learning this is very comforting for me.” Sister Wu’s eyes were filled with tears as she smiled and nodded.

If We Are Called Righteous Because We Believe, Will We Be Lifted Up to the Kingdom of Heaven?

Next, we talked about the desolate state of the church. Sister Wu continued, “The sermons pastors preach today provide no light, they fight one another for power and status in churches, and believers live in sin, follow evil worldly trends, and lack God’s discipline. The churches have become desolate. Brother, what problem do you think this desolation in the churches proves?” I shook my head and invited Sister Wu to tell us her opinion. She said, “Actually, this shows that God has already begun the work of a new era. God’s temple in Jerusalem became desolate because the Pharisees did not obey God’s laws and commandments, and regarded the temple as a market for the sale of cattle, sheep, and pigeons, and also because the Lord Jesus began new work. In the same way, today’s churches are desolate because the pastors and elders have deviated from the Lord’s path, leading the believers down the secular road and causing the Holy Spirit to cease His work, and also because the Lord has returned to do the new work of judgment. Let’s read 1 Peter 4:17: ‘For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God,’ and Revelation 14:6–7: ‘And I saw another angel fly in the middle of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.’ From the prophecies in these Bible verses, we can see that God will do a new stage of work in the last days, the work of judgment. Our sins must undergo God’s judgment and we must be purified before we can enter the kingdom of heaven.”

In confusion I said, “How could there be new work? The Bible says, ‘For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation’ (Romans 10:10). We believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths, so we are called righteous because we believe in God. When the Lord comes, we will be lifted up into the kingdom of heaven. Even though we are sinful, the Bible says, ‘And such were some of you: but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God’ (1 Corinthians 6:11). Since we are already called righteous because we believe, our sins have been washed away, and our spirits are sanctified. Doesn’t that mean we can enter the kingdom of heaven? Why does God still need to do the work of judgment and purification? God couldn’t possibly return to work again!”

Sister Wu smiled and said, “Brother, did the Lord Jesus ever say that since we are called righteous because we believe, we can enter the kingdom of heaven?” I shook my head and listened intently to her fellowship.

As she flipped through the Bible, found a verse, and handed it to me, she said, “We can’t evaluate what kind of person can enter the kingdom of heaven based on the words of man, we need to do so based on God’s words. The Lord Jesus 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). ‘Be you holy; for I am holy’ (1 Peter 1:16). From God’s words we can be certain that only those who do God’s will and who are purified can enter the kingdom of heaven. Although we are forgiven for our sins, the Lord Jesus has not redeemed our sinful natures. Controlled by our sinful natures, we often betray the Lord’s words. We are not at all people who do God’s will. The Lord is holy, yet we live trapped in a cycle of sinning and confessing. How could we enter the kingdom of heaven like this?”

I nodded, contemplating, while Sister Wu paused. She smiled and said, “Let’s read two more passages, and you’ll understand more clearly. God’s words say: ‘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.’ ‘For all that man may have been redeemed and forgiven of his sins, it can only be considered as God not remembering the transgressions of man and not treating man in accordance with his transgressions. However, when man, who lives in a body of flesh, has not been set free from sin, he can only continue to sin, endlessly revealing his corrupt satanic disposition. This is the life that man leads, an endless cycle of sinning and being forgiven. The majority of men sin in the day only to confess in the evening. This way, even if the sin offering is forever effective for man, it will not be able to save man from sin. Only half the work of salvation has been completed, for man still has a corrupt disposition.’”

Sister Wu fellowshiped, “From these two passages, we can see that although we have been redeemed by the Lord Jesus, and that our sins are forgiven, this only means that God forgives our transgressions and doesn’t treat us according to our past transgressions. However, we live in fleshly bodies, and haven’t escaped our sinfulness, which means we can only continue to sin and constantly expose our corrupt satanic dispositions, which is the reason for our continual sinning and seeking forgiveness. So even if the offering for the redemption of our sins is forever effective, it cannot grant us salvation from sin, because we still have corrupt dispositions. From this, we see that our sins are forgiven because the Lord Jesus was crucified to redeem us from sin, and the Lord does not see us as sinners, so we can be called righteous, but the satanic root of sin has taken hold deep in our souls. No matter how many years we believe in the Lord, and no matter whether we are pastors, elders, or ordinary brothers and sisters, we still live trapped in the cycle of sinning and confession, what is exposed in us is still arrogance, selfishness, deceit, greed, evil, and other such corrupt satanic dispositions. Co-workers quarrelling with each otherConsider that many pastors and elders interpret the Bible for the believers every day, yet they do not practice the Lord’s words, often show off and try to make others admire them, and they fight for power and interest in the church and take the church’s wealth for themselves. There are still many believers who lust for worldly things, just like unbelievers, and they even seek out lovers, keep mistresses, and gamble. Better-behaved brothers and sisters may appear to do good deeds on the outside, and may not beat or scold people, but when others impact their interests, they are still capable of hating people, and of blaming and betraying God when disasters happen to them. These manifestations exist in us to different degrees. Do you think God would ever allow people like us, who are filled with satanic dispositions, to enter the kingdom of heaven? Impossible. In the last days, God has again come in incarnate flesh based on the needs of corrupt mankind to express the truth to judge and purify us, which allows us to escape from the bondage of sin and be purified. If we only believe in the Lord Jesus, but do not accept God’s work of judgment, even if we confess our sins and repent, and the offering to redeem our sins is always effective for us, our corrupt satanic dispositions will remain unresolved, and we could believe for a thousand years yet never be purified.”

After listening to my sister’s words and fellowship, I contemplated on the words, “When man, who lives in a body of flesh, has not been set free from sin, he can only continue to sin, endlessly revealing his corrupt satanic disposition. This is the life that man leads, an endless cycle of sinning and being forgiven.” These words were very true. Believers in the Lord lived trapped in a cycle of confessing and sinning, and even if we don’t want to sin, we do so involuntarily. I applied these words myself. I knew that the Lord detests fornication, but when I saw other people with their arms around their lovers as they explored the mountains or caroused at the beach, I felt envy and admiration in my heart. When I had conflicts with my colleagues, my heart was full of hate. At home, I wanted to have the final say in everything, and I couldn’t get along with my wife. … I saw that I really hadn’t resolved my sinful nature, and that I couldn’t escape the bondage of sin, so I said, “Sister, I understand what you mean. I used to think that if I believe in the Lord Jesus and my sins are forgiven, I can be called righteous and enter the kingdom of heaven, but now I know that was merely based on my own notions and imagination, and that it doesn’t match the facts. Although the Lord Jesus forgives our sins, my sinful nature is still within me, and I still live in a state of sinning and confessing every day. We really do need to undergo the returned God’s work of judgment and purification. Only through this can we be purified and enter the kingdom of heaven. Sister, how does God judge and purify people in the last days? Can you fellowship more on this subject?”

How God Judges and Purifies Mankind

Sister Wu nodded and happily answered, “Thanks be to God! Brother, you understand perfectly. As to how God judges and purifies people, 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’ (John 12:47–48). The Lord tells us that in the last days, God judges people by expressing the truth. Another passage explains it very clearly. ‘In the last days, Christ uses a variety of truths to teach man, expose the essence of man, and dissect his words and deeds. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out the normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the essence of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, those words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with just a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes it over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth that man does not possess at all. Only methods of this kind are deemed judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced into submission to God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God. What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt substance and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the substance of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him. This work is the work of judgment done by God.’”

After she finished reading, Sister Wu fellowshiped, “Christ in the last days expresses all aspects of the truth required to fully save mankind according to their needs. In these words we can find revelations of our corrupt essence, knowledge of God, and revelations regarding the mystery of the kingdom of heaven. From God’s words we understand aspects of the truth regarding what it is to do God’s will, what kind of people God saves, what kind of people are eliminated, what the future destination of mankind is, how to escape our satanic dispositions and be fully saved. Also, in God’s words of judgment which reveal the corrupt essence of mankind, we see that God observes the depths of people’s hearts, and knows our corruption thoroughly. God’s words reveal all variety of expressions of corruption, and completely expose our corrupt, filthy thoughts and notions. Only then do we see that we have been corrupted very deeply by Satan, and that we are capable of exposing our satanic dispositions like arrogance, selfishness, and deceitfulness at any time and place. At the same time, in the revelations in God’s words of judgment, we see that God detests all the varieties of people’s evil deeds, and even condemns and curses them, and we realize that God’s righteous disposition brooks no offense. This forces us to reflect on and come to know our own corruption, which produces true repentance, thereby making us willing to accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, determined to live according to God’s requirements, and determined to pursue dispositional change. In addition, based on our corrupt dispositions, God also arranges all kinds of environments to discipline, chastise, prune, deal with, try, and refine us, which makes us more aware of our own corrupt essences and God. As we come to understand the truth, our understanding of God gradually deepens, and our practice of the truth and obedience to God grows, so that, without realizing it, we can escape our sin and be purified. This effect can never be achieved by those who have not accepted God’s work in the last days. So, only through experiencing God’s judgment and chastisement can we know God’s righteous disposition, which brooks no offense, and only then are hearts which fear God produced within us, through which we can fear God, shun evil, and live by God’s words.”

After I heard Sister Wu’s fellowship, I had some understanding of God’s work of judgment, and I said, “So, God uses the expression of the truth to judge and purify us, to enable us to know our own sins and God’s righteous disposition from the revelations in God’s words, only after which can we learn to loathe ourselves and produce fear of God in our hearts, which in turn allows us to achieve true repentance and change. Although I’ve never experienced God’s work of judgment and chastisement, there are prophecies in Revelation in the Bible that God will come again to do the further work of judgment, and I believe the prophecies of the Lord Jesus will definitely be fulfilled.” When she heard me say that, she nodded appreciatively.

Reunited With the Lord, Bidding My Days of Searching Farewell

Before I realized it, we had been talking for several hours, and the sky was already dark. I curiously asked Sister Wu, “Who wrote all the things you read to us today? They were wonderful, full of light, and I’ve never heard any of them. I don’t think these are things an ordinary person could say.”

Sister Wu answered happily, “Thanks be to God! The words I read to you today certainly weren’t spoken by an ordinary person. These are the utterances of God. God has already appeared to man to do His work, and those who can hear and understand His voice are blessed….” I was incredibly happy and excited when I heard that these were the utterances of God. I had never imagined that I would have the honor to see God’s words. I was truly fortunate! I wanted to hear more, but it was late, so we agreed to meet the next day to continue our fellowship.

Over the next few days, through Sister Wu’s fellowship on God’s words, I came to understand aspects of the truth regarding the incarnation, the difference between the work of man and the work of God, how to discern the true and false ways, the truth of God’s name, and so on. I couldn’t help but be amazed: That there was light in Sister Wu’s fellowship was because Almighty God’s words had already explained these truths very clearly! God’s words were the spring that supplied the living water of life, and spiritually, I felt very provided for.

After that, I read God’s words every day and often participated in church life with my brothers and sisters in The Church of Almighty God. After a period of investigating, I determined that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus. So, I joined The Church of Almighty God. Today, my life in The Church of Almighty God is like being part of a large, loving family. I often fellowship on God’s words with my brothers and sisters, I enjoy an endless supply of God’s ample provision, and my days of searching are at an end. Thanks be to God! All the glory be to Almighty God!

 

Extended Reading: A Catholic’s Testimony: I Walk Out of the Wilderness and Gain the Living Water of Life

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