Bible Reading Made Easy

Is Baptism the Prerequisite for Entering the Kingdom of Heaven?

By Cheng Hang, United States

I Stepped Onto the Path of Believing in God

I believed in Bodhisattva with my mother when I was very young. After marriage, my husband suffered from depression, which always threw the whole family into confusion. At that time, I thought it was no use believing in Bodhisattva or Buddha. I was in a bad mood all the time. Later, I met an old auntie persuading me to believe in the Lord Jesus. The auntie told me that the Lord Jesus is the true God who can not only create the heavens and earth and all things, but also can bring the dead back to life and transfigure the living. I was moved by her words. I expected that the Lord would be my ever-present help and my support after I believed in Him. So I had great drive to believe in God. Every weekend I went to the church to have meetings with the auntie, and I didn’t want to miss even once.

I Was Baptized Into Christ

Several months later, the church informed the brothers and sisters who would be baptized to attend the training. Hearing “baptism,” I found it new. I felt so curious that I asked the auntie what baptism was and why we should be baptized. She answered, “Receiving baptism looks like a ritual, but it is a necessary process of following the Lord. After being baptized, we will become members of God’s family. God will help us in big or small maters, and He will care for us wherever we are. Although you have believed in the Lord now, you are still outside the house of God because you haven’t been baptized.” From her words, I knew that being baptized was very important. I thought to myself, I want to be baptized and become a member of God’s family. I don’t want to be an outsider. So I had got prepared ever since, eagerly looking forward to that day.

The day came at last. When I arrived at the meeting place early, there had been a dozen people waiting in line to be baptized. I looked around to see how to do it. Then the pastor preached and read a verse: “Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world (Matthew 28:19-20). He also stated the significance of receiving baptism for Christians. And then the baptismal service began. Because there was no river in the city, the service seemed very simple: There was a basin of water, a towel, a pastor, and an assistant. As a sister was kneeling on the floor, the pastor stood beside her and another person carried the basin of water before him. The pastor called the sister’s name, and she replied. Then the pastor said, “I baptize you into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” While saying that, the pastor scooped up some water with his hands and sprinkled it onto the sister’s head. The assistant wiped the water off quickly. This was the process of the baptism. When the pastor baptized me, I felt unspeakably happy and excited at the thought that I was going to become a real Christian—a member of God’s family.

The little service made me understand receiving baptism is the Lord’s demand on all believers. And it shows believers identify with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. In the service, our immersion in water means that we die in sins, and our emersion out of water means that the clean and holy life comes through the Lord’s salvation. Romans says, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Since we have accepted Christ and died together with Jesus, sins will no longer have dominion over the dead, because the Lord said: “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 8:12). And a verse in 2 Corinthians says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I Firmly Believed That I Who Believed and Was Baptized Would Be Saved

I felt very happy after the baptism. From the moment that I was baptized, my life would no longer belong to sin, to evil force, or to myself; instead I would be cared for and protected by God and have His presence. For God had forgiven us and our sins. Moreover, the Lord said: “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved(Mark 16:16). Therefore, in the following daily life, I paid more attention to practicing according to God’s words. Sometimes my husband scolded me in a bad mood. I felt painful and didn’t want to care whether he had food to eat or whether he was hungry. I made up my mind not to speak any word to him again. But the Lord taught us to forgive others seventy times seven. And the Bible says, “Be you angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down on your wrath: Neither give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27). When I thought of that, I would first spoke to my husband and still looked after him. I often helped a sister nearby who had difficulty in living. In festivals I would give some money to her to improve her family’s living condition. Usually, if any sister was in hospital, I would take some nourishment to visit and prayed for her with other sisters. No matter how busy I was, I would go to take the holy communion every month, because I firmly believed that since I had been baptized, the Lord would not remember my sin. Even though I committed sins, the precious blood of Christ would cleanse my sins repeatedly through partaking of the holy communion. I would certainly be sanctified in Christ. When the Lord Jesus comes into His kingdom, I would surely be raptured into the kingdom of heaven.

A Sister’s Words Suddenly Made Me Awaken

I considered my baptism as the proof of my salvation. Furthermore, the Lord promised: “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.” So I firmly believed that I would be raptured first into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord Jesus came again to take His believers. Later, Sister Xia came to our company. Once when I chatted with her, we talked about believing in the Lord. I knew she had believed in the Lord with her mother since she was very young. Now she was a preacher. I confidently told her my thoughts. But she said, “It’s true that the Lord Jesus has forgiven our sins. But it doesn’t mean we have no sins, free from the shackles of sins to be holy.” She asked me, “The Lord Jesus has forgiven our sins. What do the sins mean?” I answered, “Resentment, murder, jealousy, and …”

Seeing that I couldn’t answer her question, Sister Xia went on, “Committing adultery, stealing, and all that go against the law, the commandments, and God’s words are sins. All behaviors that resist God, condemn Him, and judge Him are sins. Blaspheming Him is sin all the more, and is an unforgivable sin. The Lord Jesus came among man. He was crucified in the flesh to be the sin offering for us mankind. As long as we pray to the Lord, repenting and confessing our sins, we will not be condemned or put to death. That is to say, God will not consider us as sinners. And due to His forgiveness of our sins, we can pray to the Lord to enjoy His grace. This is the real meaning of the forgiveness of sins. Although our sins have been forgiven because of the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice for sins, it doesn’t mean that we will no longer commit sins to resist God. This is because our sinful nature still remains within us, and we still resist God, betray Him, and make an enemy of Him. Through the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus, our sins have been forgiven, but not our corrupt dispositions. The satanic dispositions such as arrogance, selfishness, greed, and craftiness still remain within us. These corrupt dispositions are something deeper and more stubborn than sins. They are also the root of our sinning and resisting God. If these satanic corrupt dispositions are not resolved, we will often sin, even judge and condemn God relying on our conceptions and imaginations. In persecution and tribulation, we will deny God, and even betray God like Judas. We will even set up our own kingdom to oppose God when attaining status. Some will steal offerings and then they will be condemned and destroyed by God because of offending His disposition. … So it’s impossible for these people to be taken into the kingdom of heaven. For Jehovah God said: ‘You shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy’ (Leviticus 19:2). And 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).”

Hearing this, I was surprised at her thorough and deep words, and I admitted what she said was the fact. The pastors in our church often judged and attacked each other for the things about the church with endless jealousy and strife. I was often overcome by transgressions living in sins too. For example, whenever my husband willfully made troubles, I hated him and brushed him off. I knew a relatively cowardly sister. She had houses in the city and she didn’t need to worry about food or clothing. So I became jealous of her and even looked down upon her…. When I reflected on myself carefully, I found that I indeed was not holy. How could I be eligible to enter the kingdom of heaven? It seems that being baptized is not the prerequisite for entering the kingdom of heaven. Only when I rid myself of sins and become holy, can I be worthy of entering the kingdom of heaven. Thus, I awakened somewhat.

After Studying Some Verses, I Saw There Would Be Judgment of the Lord in the Last Days

From then on, I no longer considered being baptized as my capital or imagined being taken into the kingdom of heaven by the Lord. Every day, I read the Bible and prayed carefully. And I shared the testimonies with other sisters when getting together. One day, I read a verse casually, saying, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). Then I thought of many verses in which judgment is mentioned. So I found some and shared them with Sister Xia. I asked her how she understood them. She said sincerely, “I used to think like you that we would be saved since we had been baptized into Christ, and then we would be taken into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord comes again. Later, I read the verse, saying, ‘So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin to salvation’ (Hebrews 9:28). After reading it, I realized the Lord Jesus hadnt finished His work. When He appears to us for the second time, He will judge us humans. But the judgment is to work for saving us instead of condemning and destroying us….” Hearing these words, I felt astonished. I couldn’t believe it was true. But the verse tells so clearly that I had nothing to dispute. I couldn’t help crying to God in my heart, O Lord, may You reveal Your will to us. When will You come back to execute judgment? Your child is looking forward to the coming of the day….

Requirements for Entering the Kingdom of Heaven

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