At midnight, there was a bright moon and its velvety light shone through the window into Chen Yuemei’s bedroom. She was tossing and turning in bed and unable to fall asleep. Thinking of today her mother-in-law giving her brother-in-law more than his share of the money from selling the land, Yuemei felt really upset. She recalled how her mother-in-law was biased all these years: Whenever she had something that was delicious or good she would give it to her younger son’s family, and she also helped them to look after their children and to do farm work. She took care of them so well. However, she showed no concern for Chen Yuemei’s family matters. Even during the busy farming season, when Yuemei asked her to help look after Yuemei’s children, she would refuse, so Yuemei had no choice but to take her two young children with her when going to the fields to work. Yuemei thought: I am so good to my mother-in-law and never shirk my filial duty to her. Why is she so biased? And today she even gave her young son more than his share of the money from selling the land. The more Chen Yuemei thought, the angrier she felt, and she began to resent her mother-in-law.
At this time, she thought that as a believer in the Lord, she should obey the teachings of the Lord, being patient and tolerant to others and forgiving others seventy times seven times. But she just could not put these into practice. On the surface, she didn’t argue with her mother-in-law, but she bore resentment toward her and was unable to be tolerant and patient to her. When remembering the verses: “But love you your enemies, and do good …” (Luke 6:35), and “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer” (1 John 3:15), Yuemei felt so agonized and perplexed, and then she prayed to the Lord and begged Him for forgiving her sins …
Once, Chen Yuemei read the following words of the Lord: “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). She pondered these words, thinking: “The Lord said those who commit sin are servants of sin and they can’t stay forever in the Lord’s house. I am always involuntarily sinning and can never get rid of the bondage of sin. Am I not the servant of sin? In the past, our pastors and elders often told us that as long as we believed in the Lord, our sins were forgiven, we were justified by faith, and the Lord no longer saw us as sinners, so when He came back we could be directly taken up into the kingdom of heaven. Now that I think about it, what the pastors and elders said is not in line with the’ words. The Lord didn’t say that as long as one believes in Him, he could enter into the kingdom of heaven, and neither did He say that those who have been forgiven their sins are not sinners. Alas! I still live in the midst of sin every day. Can I enter into the kingdom of heaven by believing in the Lord like this?”
The next day, when several brothers and sisters came to Chen Yuemei’s house to attend the co-workers meeting, she sought fellowship with them about her confusions.
On hearing Chen Yuemei’s words, Co-worker Wu said: “Sister Chen, how can you worry that you can’t? The Lord is faithful, so we should have confidence in Him. It is recorded in the Bible that: ‘When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost’ (John 19:30). Since the Lord Jesus said ‘It is finished’ on the cross, this proved that the work of His saving mankind was accomplished. He was nailed on the cross for us and bore all of our sins, and He no longer sees us as sinners. Therefore, when the Lord Jesus comes back, we can enter the kingdom of heaven directly.”
Co-worker Wang echoed his words: “That’s right. Sister Chen, the Lord is merciful and loving, so no matter what sins we commit, as long as we confess them and repent to the Lord, He will absolve us. Moreover, your resenting your mother-in-law is a very small sin, which the Lord won’t remember. Our sins have already been forgiven, and we just have to wait for the Lord to raise us up into the kingdom of heaven. If we don’t even have such confidence, can we be the Lord’s believers?”
Chen Yuemei frowned and became immersed in contemplation.
Co-worker Li, after hearing their words, pondered for a while, and then said: “Brother Wu, Sister Wang, the Lord’s word is truth, so without the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, we can’t understand the true meaning and mysteries within it. In regard to the Lord Jesus saying ‘It is finished’ on the cross, my understanding used to be the same as yours in that I also believed it indicated that God’s work of saving all mankind was thoroughly complete, and that as long as we believed in the Lord, this meant we had received salvation and could directly be raised up into the kingdom of heaven when He came back. But not long ago, I met an old classmate and when we talked about our own understanding about the Lord’s words ‘It is finished,’ she asked me: ‘If the Lord Jesus on the cross saying “It is finished” meant that all God’s work of saving mankind was complete, then why did He prophesy that He would speak and work again in the last days?’ At that time, I stared blankly and didn’t know how to answer her question. Then we studied many prophecies in the Bible, such as ‘I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come.’ (John 16:12–13), ‘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 12:48), and ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches’ (Revelation 2:7). All of these verses mention that when the Lord returns, He will speak and work, so I realized that I couldn’t determine that after God finished the work of redemption there is no further work. In reality, we still live cyclical lives of sinning in the daytime and confessing at night, without casting off the binds and restraints of sin. This proves that we are still the servants of sin and haven’t been saved, so how can we enter into the kingdom of heaven? Thus it can be seen that the Lord Jesus saying ‘It is finished’ meant that His work of redeeming mankind through crucifixion was accomplished; it didn’t mean all the work of God saving mankind was complete. Actually, the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption only completed half of God’s work of salvation.”
On hearing this, Co-worker Wu asked in surprise: “What? The Lord Jesus only completed half of God’s work of salvation?”
Co-worker Wang also said immediately: “How could it be possible? Sister Li, could you explain to us what the salvation you talk about really is?”
And Chen Yuemei said earnestly: “I am also unable to see through this question. Sister Li, if you have any light, please share it with us!”
Then Co-worker Li took a book out of her bag unhurriedly, saying: “Let me read you several passages of words. Listen carefully and then you will understand. ‘In rescuing man off the cross, Jesus was only completing redemption work; He was not doing perfection work. Thus only half of God’s work was being done, and finishing the redemption work was only half of His whole plan.’
‘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 belief 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.’”
Having read the words above, she fellowshiped: “These words make it very clear. By using crucifixion as a sin offering, the Lord Jesus redeemed man from his sinfulness. What He did was the redemption work, rather than the work of cleansing and changing man. So it can be seen that the Lord Jesus saying ‘It is finished’ only meant that God’s work of redeeming all mankind was finished, not that all God’s work of saving mankind was accomplished. Though the Lord Jesus pardoned us of our sins, our sinful nature has not been pardoned and we still live in our corrupt disposition and can’t help but sin and resist the Lord. Take me, for example. I want to put the Lord’s words into practice and be honest, speaking honestly and doing practical things, but when something involves my own reputation and interests, sometimes I can’t help but lie and engage in deception, revealing only satanic dispositions of deceit, crookedness, selfishness, and despicableness. What’s more, whenever I see some brothers and sisters are unable to attend gatherings normally because of clinging to wealth and still weak and negative after being supported and helped, I always turn up my nose at them and even define them as people who don’t pursue the truth. I am unable to be patient or tolerant toward them, and instead lecture them in a condescending attitude. I see that my arrogant nature reveals frequently. And I often preach the Lord’s words but can’t practice them. Isn’t this being hypocritical? The Bible says: ‘Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14). How can people like me, who can still commit sins on a daily basis, be qualified to be taken up into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord comes back? So I think our viewpoint that since the Lord Jesus has already forgiven our sins, we have been saved and just have to wait to enter the kingdom of heaven is erroneous and purely the conception and imagination of us that do not in line with the Lord’s word. This is my understanding and opinion. Brothers and sisters, what do you think about this?”
Chen Yuemei nodded her head a few times, while Co-worker Wu glanced at Co-worker Li and looked a little embarrassed.
Chen Yuemei said with a smile: “Thank the Lord! What Sister Li has fellowshiped today is indeed very illuminating and it surely has emerged from the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and illumination. No wonder I cannot be tolerant and patient toward my mother-in-law; no matter how I pray and restrain myself, I still cannot help but commit sins, living in pain. It turns out that I have merely been redeemed, but have not cast off my sinful nature to receive cleanness and gain transformation. I still need God’s salvation.”
Co-worker Han said with emotion: “I’ve just been paying attention to Sister Li’s fellowship. It is reasonable. In particular, the two passages of words that Sister Li just read make the effectiveness of the Lord Jesus’ work so clear. What the Lord Jesus did was merely the work of redemption, and even though we have been forgiven our sins, it doesn’t represent that we have been purified and changed. This is a fact that we are unable to deny. Only today have I realized that we cannot be purified simply by attending gatherings, reading the Bible, and working hard for the Lord. We still need God’s salvation in the last days. Sister Li, the words in your book contain truth. Can you read more of them to us?”
“Right,” Chen Yuemei agreed. “Sister Li, how can we get rid of our sinful nature, be purified, and receive God’s salvation? Can you fellowship some more with us?”
Co-worker Wang also said: “Yes, Sister Li, I’d like to go one step further and work out how we can receive salvation. Please fellowship with us some more!”
Co-worker Li smiled and said: “Thank the Lord! Sister Chen, Sister Wang, regarding the question you brought up, we can find the answer in this book. Let’s read it.” Then she opened the book and found two passages of words for Chen Yuemei to read: “Fully saving man from the influence of Satan not only required Jesus to take on the sins of man as the sin offering, but also required God to do greater work to completely rid man of his disposition, which has been corrupted by Satan.” “By means of this work of judgment and chastisement, man will fully come to know the filthy and corrupt substance within his own self, and he will be able to change completely and become clean. Only in this way can man become worthy to return before the throne of God.” Co-worker Li continued to fellowship: “From these words, we can see that if we want to cast off our corrupt disposition and to be purified and truly saved by God, we not only need the Lord Jesus to do the work of redemption to forgive our sins, but also need the Lord to return and perform the work of judging and chastising to resolve our sinful nature. God is the truth, the way, and the life, so His words can cleanse man, change man, and save man. When we are able to put God’s words into practice and live relying on God’s words in our lives, we will gradually get free from Satan’s dark influence, our corrupt disposition will be lessened, and we will live out the likeness of a man, gain release and freedom in our soul, and no longer be bound and controlled by sin. This is exactly how God’s work of salvation deepens step by step, until God thoroughly saves man from Satan’s domain. Right now, it is already the last days. Mankind can’t extricate itself from living in sin, and even we believers in the Lord are also unable to hold on to the teachings of the Lord, often scheming against and having jealous disputes with others. All that we live out is satanic dispositions. In addition, many Christians lust for money, pursue fame and status, and are following the trends of the world. Their hearts stray further and further from God. If it continues, all mankind will be seized and swallowed by Satan. Thus, in accordance with the needs of corrupt mankind, God needs to do a stage of judgment and chastisement work, allowing people to be purified and changed through His judgment and chastisement, thereby completely saving mankind from sin and taking us into the kingdom of heaven.”
Chen Yuemei said excitedly: “Thank the Lord! Sister Li, after hearing these words and your fellowship, my heart has finally become enlightened. If we want to enter into the kingdom of heaven, we must accept God’s judgment and chastisement in the last days. This time, I also have the hope to cast off the bonds of sin. And I also find the way to enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
Co-worker Li and Co-worker Han smiled and said: “Thank the Lord!” And Co-worker Wang nodded her head.
However, Co-worker Wu frowned and didn’t say a word, as if he was thinking about something …
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