By Shang Jing
In a church which could accommodate hundreds of people, there were sitting only a few dozens of believers. Some were playing with their phones, and some listening to the pastor’s preaching attentively. In recent years, each time when attending a gathering, Zhou Ling really threw herself into hearing the pastor’s sermons.
After the meeting finished that day, Zhou Ling walked straight ahead with a blue bag on her arm. Just then, Li Zhen was closing in behind her.
Zhou Ling looked back and saw her best church member Li Zhen. She greeted Li Zhen with a smile. Then they walked, side by side. “I always saw you listen to the preaching of the pastors and elders attentively, right?” asked Li Zhen curiously.
Hearing that, Zhou Ling paused and looked at Li Zhen. Then she said, with earnest on her face, “Yes, I have to listen seriously. The pastors and elders have all served thefor many years. They have a strong knowledge of the Bible, and can interpret the Bible. And they once built the church and worked tirelessly for the Lord. They are all the ones after God’s heart and can surely enter of heaven in the end. Certainly, they can also lead us into it.”
Li Zhen smiled and said, “I had the same viewpoint as you before.”
Zhou Ling asked with some astonishment, “Wait, don’t you agree now?”
Li Zhen said, “During this time, I have been thinking a lot and gained some new views. The pastors and elders work very hard, know the Bible very well, and are able to expound on the Bible, yet can this really represent that they are the ones who follow God’s will? I then thought of what the Lord Jesus once 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. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23). Think back to the priests, scribes, and Pharisees who served Jehovah God originally in the temple and synagogues. Were they not familiar with the Bible and well versed in the law? Some of them even traveled over land and sea to spread the gospel, but eventually, when the Lord Jesus came, He condemned them, saying woe to them. We can see that only having a strong knowledge of the Bible and being able to labor for the Lord is not the requirement for receiving the praise of God and being raptured into the kingdom of heaven. And those who can achieve only these are not people who follow the will of the heavenly Father. Then what exactly does it mean to do the will of the Father in heaven? In my pursuits, I thought of Job and Peter. No matter what kind of trials and tribulations they went through, they were able to rely on God’s word to live and submit to God. Then I came to know that doing the will of God means following His commandments and words, and attaining an understanding of and obedience to Him. Although the Jewish leaders explained the Bible and knew the law, yet they violated the laws and commandments, made inferior offerings to God, and the temple became a den of thieves. They neither knew God nor obeyed God though they had exalted the Bible for many years. When the Lord Jesus came to do the redemptive work, they deceived the people and colluded with the Roman government to condemn and kill the Lord Jesus. Thinking that the priests, scribes, and Pharisees were familiar with the Bible and well versed in the law, and they were all the ones who served God, the Jewish commoners of that time were thus deceived and believed that following them in believing in God definitely could not be wrong. As a result, they were led onto the path of resisting God, a path of no return. It is just as the Lord Jesus said: “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14). You see, if the pastors and elders are blind leaders and yet we follow them blindly in believing in God, then won’t they take us to hell instead of bringing us into the kingdom of heaven?” said Li Zhen seriously.
Zhou Ling looked at her incredibly. She felt that what Li Zhen had said matched up with the facts. The pastors and elders worked tirelessly, read the Bible over and over again, and could expound on the Bible, but they may not necessarily enter the kingdom of heaven. All these years, however, in the heart of Zhou Ling, the pastors and elders were always her guide to entering into the heavenly kingdom. But if without them, how could she possibly enter the kingdom of heaven? For a moment, Zhou Ling couldn’t figure it all out.
Unconsciously, they came to a park. Seeing some benches there, then they sat down. When Li Zhen found that Zhou Ling approved of some of her views, she was eager to pour out all that she had gained recently. As soon as they sat down, Li Zhen could not wait to take a delicate notebook out of her bag, and as she turned the pages, she said to Zhou Ling, “Some time ago, a friend gave me a book where I saw a passage of words. I felt very good about the words at that time, so I copied them. In fact, what I said just now all comes from my contemplation of them. How about I read them to you?”
Zhou Ling had already become interested in what Li Zhen said. She had also once pondered this matter as to whether the pastors and elders could take them into the kingdom of heaven in the past year, but she just did not gain so much illumination. What Li Zhen said on the way, however, sounded novel and made her feel illuminated. Now she had got ready to listen carefully.
Li Zhen read in earnest, “If man were to do this work, then it would be too limited: It could take man to a certain point, but it would not be able to bring man to the eternal destination. Man is not able to decide man’s destiny, nor, moreover, is he able to ensure man’s prospects and future destination. The work done by God, however, is different. Since He created man, He leads him; since He saves man, He will thoroughly save him, and will completely gain him; since He leads man, He will bring him to the proper destination; and since He created and manages man, He must take responsibility for man’sand prospects. It is this which is the work done by the Creator” (“Restoring the Normal Life of Man and Taking Him to a Wonderful ”). After reading these words, she continued, “My understanding of these words is that God is the Creator. Only He is our salvation and can supply us with the most real provisions of . Only He can bestow a beautiful destination upon us and determine our outcome. Thus God is the only guide for us and is our reliance and help. Only by accepting the personal guidance of God can we enter the heavenly kingdom. Yet, man is nothing but an insignificant creation created by God’s hand and does not have the least bit of the truth. In addition, no matter what kind of person he is, no matter how gifted and how respected he is, he cannot save or perfect man, much less can he bring man to the eternal destination. Do you think my understanding is right or do you agree with me?”
Zhou Ling nodded in agreement.
Li Zhen went on to say, “At this point, I think of the words the Lord Jesus once said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Christ is the truth, the way, and the life. So, if we want to gain the truth and enter the kingdom of heaven through ourin God, we must accept and obey Christ. Christ is God incarnate who has both a complete divinity and a normal humanity, and He is the Expresser of all truth, and Christ alone possesses the essence of truth and life, so only those who know Christ and gain Christ are the persons who have truly attained the truth and the life. In other words, only by believing in Christ on earth, accepting His words, practicing according to His words, following His will, and gaining the truth and life from His words can we obtain and eventually enter the heavenly kingdom.”
Zhou Ling said, “I absolutely agree with you. Only Christ can express the truth and bestow life upon man, and only believing in and following Christ is the assurance of our entering the heavenly kingdom. But, are what the pastors and elders have said and done not accepted by the Lord at all?”
Li Zhen sighed deeply and said, “It’s pathetic when I think about them. Actually though the majority ofpastors and elders graduated from seminaries, they merely understand some biblical knowledge and religious theories. And most of them rely on their gifts to explain the Bible, rather than share their true knowledge of God through experiencing God’s work. If you don’t believe me, you can compare the preaching of the pastors or elders with the words of the Lord Jesus during the meetings, and then you will find out that they are not the people who truly exalt and bear witness to God. That is because they just focus on explaining man’s words in the Bible and treat them as the truth, using them as a guideline for their behavior and conduct, as the basis of the way they dealt with problems. They use the words of man to replace God’s words and make God’s words irrelevant.” Later, Li Zhen said a lot more to Zhou Ling.
Will Zhou Ling act according to what Li Zhen said? Do the words of Li Zhen accord with the facts? Please read on.