IV. Questions and Answers on the Conditions for Entering the Kingdom of Heaven
Question 3: We’ve believed in the Lord for so many years, and we’ve maintained His name. We often read the Bible, pray and confess our sins to the Lord; we are humble, patient, loving toward others. We often do charity, donate, and sacrifice everything else to work for the Lord and spread the gospel to witness Him. Are we not practicing the Lord's words and following His way? How can you say we never had any reality of faith in the Lord or are an unbeliever? In the Bible, Paul said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness …” (2Ti 4:7-8). Therefore, I think that our faith in the Lord will obtain His praise. When the Lord arrives, He will definitely rapture us into the kingdom of heaven.
Answer: Many believers think that as long as they keep the Lord’s name, read the Bible, pray and gather often, are able to sacrifice everything for the Lord and labor for the Lord, then they are true believers. They think that as long as they believe in the Lord this way, they’ll be lifted into the kingdom of heaven when He comes again. Is believing in God as easy as people think? If people believe in God like this, can they really obtain God’s approval? The Pharisees that were denounced and condemned by the Lord Jesus, isn’t that the way they believed in God too? They often prayed and worked hard and even traveled to the ends of the earth to spread the gospel. Then why has their faith failed to gain the Lord's approval and incurred His condemnation and curses instead? People that have read the Bible before understand that although the Pharisees read the Bible well, prayed often, spread God's work, suffered greatly, loved others, and appeared to be devout, true believers on the outside, in reality, God had no place in their hearts; they did not magnify God. In their faith, they did not focus on seeking the truth in God's words or understanding His will, much less practicing His words and following His commandments. They only focused on disseminating knowledge about the Bible and theological theory; they only focused on performing religious ceremonies, following the rules to glorify themselves, establishing themselves to be worshiped by others. They believed in God like that for many years and had no knowledge of God. They definitely did not become obedient and reverent toward God. Therefore, when the Lord Jesus did His work, they did not search for the truth. They only measured the Lord Jesus based on their own conceptions and imaginings. Regardless of how profound the Lord Jesus' preaching was or how much authority and power His work had, they did not search for or study them. They still fanatically resisted and condemned the Lord Jesus, then crucified Him on the cross. They were cursed and punished. Can the faith of the Pharisees be called true faith in God? Did God accept the faith of the Pharisees? Not only did the Lord Jesus not approve them, but He condemned and cursed them, saying, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Mat 23:13-36). The Pharisees only trusted their own conceptions and imaginings; they only believed in the vague God in heaven. They did not believe in the Lord Jesus incarnate who expressed the truth. They were all bored with the truth and hated the truth. They believed in God, but resisted God as well.
Let’s look at today’s religious communities. Many pastors and elders keep the Lord’s name; they pray in the Lord’s name, read the Bible, forsake everything else for Him and labor for Him, but when Almighty God expresses the truth to perform His work of judgment in the last days, they define God’s work based on their own conceptions and imaginings. They think God’s words and work are in the Bible and that anything that exceeds the Bible is heresy. They know clearly Almighty God’s words are the truth; they know those words can conquer men, but they do not search for them or study them. They still continue to spread all kinds of rumors and lies, fanatically slandering, condemning and blaspheming against Almighty God. They stop at nothing to restrict believers from seeking the true way. They even go as far as report those who bear witness to God's work in the last days to the police so they'll be arrested. Tell me, how are these pastors and elders any different from the Pharisees that resisted the Lord Jesus? Aren't they both people that know the true way but resist it anyway? Aren't they both enemies of God that hate the truth? Therefore, we can see that if people believe in the Lord but only keep His name, labor for Him and appear devout, that does not mean they practice the Lord's words or follow the Lord's way. It also does not mean they are true believers that serve the Lord. The fact that they appear devout does not mean they can magnify the Lord in their heart, revere Him or obey Him; it definitely does not mean they understand the truth or know Him. If people believe in the Lord but do not seek the truth, really practice the truth or experience the Lord's words, well, no matter how many years those people believe in the Lord or how they labor for Him, they cannot obtain His praise. This is especially true for pastors and elders in the religious communities. Although they labor for the Lord's work, they still fanatically resist and condemn Almighty God, Christ of the last days. This is enough to prove that they are evil-doers that resist God. They are exposed as antichrists by God's work in the last days. They will definitely incur God's curses and punishment. It's just like the Lord Jesus said, “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” (Mat 7:22-23). Almighty God's words in the last days are also extremely clear. Almighty God says, “I do not care how meritorious your hard work is, how impressive your qualifications, how closely you follow Me, how renowned you are, or how improved your attitude; so long as you have not done what I have demanded, you will never be able to win My praise. Write off all those ideas and calculations of yours as early as possible, and start treating My demands seriously. Otherwise, I will turn all people into ashes in order to bring an end to My work, and at best turn My years of work and suffering into nothing, for I cannot bring My enemies and people reeking of evil on the model of Satan into My kingdom, into the next age” (“Transgressions Will Take Man to Hell” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words are immutable truths. Whether believers can obtain His praise does not depend on how much they work or suffer; it mainly depends on whether they practice God's words or obey Him. However, Paul said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness….” (2Ti 4:7-8) These words are Paul's own conceptions and imaginings. They are not at all in accordance with God's words or the truth. They are the exact opposite of God's words!
What does it mean to have true faith in God, and how can our faith gain His approval? This question is an essential one. This is directly related to whether our belief in God can earn us salvation and allow us to enter His kingdom! Before, in our faith, we only focused on working for the Lord so that we could enter His kingdom when He returned. Now everyone realizes that this is the wrong path of faith. No one in the religious community knows what true faith in God is or how we should believe in God to receive His approval. No one understands the answers to these questions. Almighty God, Christ of the last days, has revealed all the truths and mysteries concerning faith in God. Almighty God speaks very clearly about the question: What is true faith in God? Almighty God says, “Though many people believe in God, few understand what faith in God means, and what they must do to be after God's heart. This is because, though people are familiar with the word 'God' and phrases such as 'the work of God,' they do not know God, much less do they know His work. No wonder, then, that all those who do not know God are possessed of a muddled belief. People do not take belief in God seriously because believing in God is too unfamiliar, too strange for them. In this way, they fall short of the demands of God. In other words, if people do not know God, do not know His work, then they are not fit for God's use, much less can they fulfill the desire of God. Belief in God' means believing that there is a God; this is the simplest concept of faith in God. What's more, believing that there is a God is not the same as truly believing in God; rather, it is a kind of simple faith with strong religious overtones. True faith in God means experiencing the words and work of God based on a belief that God holds sovereignty over all things. So you shall be freed of your corrupt disposition, shall fulfill the desire of God, and shall come to know God. Only through such a journey can you be said to believe in God. Yet people often see belief in God as something very simple and frivolous. The belief of such people is meaningless and shall never gain the approval of God, because they tread the wrong path. Today, there are still those who believe in God in letters, in hollow doctrines. They are unaware that their belief in God has no substance, and that they are unable to gain the approval of God, and they still pray for peace and sufficient grace from God. We should stop and ask ourselves: Could believing in God really be the easiest thing on earth? Does believing in God mean nothing more than receiving much grace from God? Can people who believe in God but do not know Him, and believe in God yet oppose Him, really fulfill the desire of God?” (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“You may think believing in God is about suffering, or doing many things for Him, or for the peace of your flesh, or is for everything to go well for you, for everything to be comfortable— but none of these are purposes people should have for believing in God. If that is what you believe, then your perspective is incorrect and you simply cannot be perfected. God's actions, God's righteous disposition, His wisdom, His word, and His wondrousness and unfathomableness are all things people ought to try to understand. Use this understanding to get rid of the personal requests as well as the individual hopes and conceptions in your heart. Only by eliminating these can you meet the conditions demanded by God. Only through this can you have life and satisfy God. Believing in God is for satisfying God, to live out the disposition He requires, to let His actions and glory be manifested through this group of unworthy people. That is the correct perspective for believing in God, and also the goal you should seek. You should have the right viewpoint of believing in God and seek to obtain God's word. You need to eat and drink God's word, and be able to live out the truth, and especially see God's practical deeds, His wonderful deeds across the entire universe, as well as the practical work He does in the flesh. Through their actual experiences, people can appreciate just how God does His work on them, what His will is toward them. All of this is to eliminate their corrupt satanic disposition. Get rid of the unclean and unrighteous inside you, strip away your wrong intentions, and you can develop true faith in God. Only by having true faith can you truly love God. You can only genuinely love God on the foundations of your belief in Him. Can you achieve loving God without believing in Him? Since you believe in God, you cannot be muddle-headed about it. Some people fill with vigor as soon as they see that faith in God will bring them blessings, but lose all energy as soon as they see they have to face refinements. Is that believing in God? In the end, faith in God is about total obedience before Him. You believe in God but still have demands of Him, have many religious conceptions you cannot put down, personal interests you cannot let go of, or still seek blessings of the flesh and want God to rescue your flesh, to save your soul— these are all representations of people with the wrong perspective. Even though people with religious beliefs have faith in God, they don't seek dispositional change, don't pursue knowledge of God, and are only after the interests of their flesh. Many among you have faiths that belong in the category of religious beliefs. That is not true faith in God. To believe in God you must possess a heart to suffer for Him and the will to give yourself up. Unless you meet these two conditions it does not count as faith in God, and you will not be able to achieve dispositional change. Only people who genuinely pursue the truth, try to get to know God, and pursue life are those who truly believe in God” (“Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Almighty God has revealed all of the mysteries and truths regarding faith in God. Many people believe in God but still don't know what true faith in God is, nor do they know God or His work. This kind of faith is a muddled faith that will never earn God's praise! Almighty God clearly specifies what true faith is. “True faith in God means experiencing the words and work of God based on a belief that God holds sovereignty over all things. So you shall be freed of your corrupt disposition, shall fulfill the desire of God, and shall come to know God. Only through such a journey can you be said to believe in God.” Almighty God speaks so clearly about real faith! People who believe in God actually believe in God's words. That is, practicing His words and experiencing His work. This is the way they'll truly understand the truth and really know God. This is real faith in God. In the religious community, we only talk about how to work and suffer for the Lord; we don't talk about how to practice or experience the Lord's words. Therefore, no matter how many years we believe in God, we will not understand the truth, nor will we know God. If we believe in God like this, how can God acknowledge us! The Lord Jesus said, “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?” (Mat 7:22). What did the Lord Jesus say next? “And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity” (Mat 7:23). This shows that we believers in the Lord sacrifice and work for Him according to our own will, we do not practice or experience the Lord's words; not only does this kind of faith not obtain God's approval, it's also condemned by God. Thinking back to my time as a believer within the religious community, I didn’t focus on practicing the Lord's words or experiencing His work; I only repented to Him after I sinned, begging Him for forgiveness. When in trouble, I prayed to the Lord, asking Him for help. I thought as long as I memorized a few Bible passages, kept the words of the Bible and followed the rules, I was believing in the Lord. I thought if I just zealously sacrificed and worked for the Lord, I was believing in the Lord well. I thought I loved the Lord and was loyal to Him. I thought when the Lord returned, I'd definitely enter His kingdom. This continued until I accepted Almighty God's work in the last days and saw what He says, “Many of those who follow God are only concerned with how to gain blessings or avoid disaster. … Such people have one very simple aim in following God: to gain blessing, and they are too lazy to attend to anything that doesn't involve this aim. For them, believing in God to gain blessings is the most legitimate of goals and the very value of their faith. They are unaffected by anything that cannot achieve this objective. Such is the case with most of those who believe in God today. Their aim and motivation seem legitimate, because at the same time as believing in God, they also expend for God, dedicate themselves to God, and perform their duty. They give up their youth, forsake family and career, and even spend years busying about away from home. … In this, we discover a previously unidentified problem: Man's relationship with God is merely one of naked self-interest. It is the relationship between the receiver and giver of blessings. To put it plainly, it is like the relationship between employee and employer. The employee works only to receive the rewards bestowed by the employer. In a relationship like this, there is no affection, only a deal; there is no loving and being loved, only charity and mercy; there is no understanding, only resignation and deception; there is no intimacy, only a gulf that cannot be bridged. When things get to this point, who is able to reverse such a trend? And how many people are capable of truly understanding how desperate this relationship has become? I believe that when people immerse themselves in the joyousness of being blessed, none are able to imagine how embarrassing and unsightly such a relationship with God is” (“Man Can Only Be Saved in God’s Management” in The Word Appears in the Flesh) Almighty God cuts to the point and reveals men's true nature: They believe in Him because they want blessings. They want to make a deal with Him. I have just realized that my motives for my faith were too impure. I was pursuing blessings, grace, rewards and the rapture into the kingdom of heaven. As long as I could enjoy the blessings of the kingdom of heaven, I would bear any suffering and pay any price, but I did not focus on practicing and experiencing the Lord's words; I did not try to get to know God. As a result, my life had nothing to do with the truth contained in God's words. I have believed in the Lord for many years but had not the slightest knowledge of the Lord. I thought my faith could obtain the Lord's praise, and that when He returned, I'd be lifted into the kingdom of heaven. I really was too shameless and ignorant! God was incarnated twice to carry out the work of redeeming and saving humanity. He did this to give the truth to mankind. This will allow them to accept God's words as their life, freeing them from the bondage and control of sin and making them obedient to God. I did not understand God's will; I did not pursue the truth, and I definitely did not pursue knowledge of God. I just singularly pursued grace and rewards. Even if I sacrificed something, that would only be in exchange for the blessings of the kingdom of heaven. How was I believing in God? How was I loving and being faithful to God? Clearly, I was just trying to make a deal with God; I was trying to use Him and trick Him. In the judgment of Almighty God's words, I've finally seen how deeply I've been corrupted by Satan! I was too selfish and crafty! I lacked any semblance of humanity! I was a despicable villain, only looking out for myself. I was not fit to live before God! God is the Creator of all things. I am His creation. It is right and proper for me to believe in God and sacrifice everything for Him. That is my duty. That is my responsibility as a created being. I lacked any reason or conscience. When I did sacrifice anything or suffer at all, it was part of my attempt to make a deal with God; I wanted Him to compensate me; I wanted blessings. This faith of mine, by which I trick God, how can I not incur His hatred and loathing? How can God possibly allow a satanic creature like me to enter His kingdom? This time, I was kneeling before God, praying in repentance. No matter how God deals with me or what my final outcome is, I'll willingly obey God's plan. Even if I just render service to God, I will pursue the truth. I will do my duty as His creation. By experiencing Almighty God's judgments, chastisements, refinements and trials of the word one-after-another, my viewpoint with regard to my faith in Him has changed. I have started to pursue and practice the truth. Gradually, I have started down the right path of faith which can earn salvation. These are all the results of experiencing Almighty God's judgment in the last days! Thank Almighty God for saving me!
After experiencing the judgment and chastisement of Almighty God in the last days, I've finally seen that I have been corrupted far too deeply by Satan; I was too arrogant and completely without reason! On the outside, I looked like I could spread the gospel, do some work, endure suffering and talk about the words of the Bible, memorize a few passages. I thought I knew God and acted arrogantly and all holier-than-thou. Actually, I did not pray to God or search for the truth and principles. I just blindly did whatever according to my own conceptions. This was especially true when it came to my treatment of the Lord's return. I restricted God to the Bible based on my own conceptions and imaginings. I thought that all of God's words and work were in the Bible, and none of His words or work existed outside the Bible. I stubbornly believed that people that believe in the Lord must keep the Bible, and thought, how could anyone that doesn't keep the Bible believe in the Lord? The result was that when Almighty God's work in the last days touched me, I didn't seek or investigate it. I even followed the pastors and elders in denying and judging it. I was arrogant and lost all reason, right before God! My behavior, was that faith in God? No, it was simply evil! How am I any different from the Pharisees that resisted the Lord Jesus?
I saw something that Almighty God has said, “Since you believe in God, then you must put faith in all of the words and work of God. That is to say, since you believe in God, you must obey Him. If you are unable to do this, then it matters not whether you believe in God. If you have believed in God for many years, yet never obeyed Him or accepted all of His words, and instead asked God to submit to you and follow your notions, then you are the most rebellious of all, and you are an unbeliever. How is one such as this able to obey the work and words of God that do not conform to the notions of man? The most disobedient person is one that intentionally defies and resists God. He is the enemy of God and is an antichrist.” (“The Truly Obedient Shall Surely Be Gained by God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Those who are not cautious when they encounter the new work of the Holy Spirit, who run their mouths off, are quick to judge, who give free rein to their natural instinct to deny the rightness of the Holy Spirit's work, and also insult and blaspheme it— are such disrespectful people not ignorant of the Holy Spirit's work? Are they not, furthermore, the ones of arrogance, inherently proud and ungovernable? … Such disrespectful, indulgent people are pretending to believe in God, and the more they do so, the more likely they are to offend God's administrative decrees. Do not all those arrogant ones who are innately unbridled, and have never obeyed anyone, all walk upon this path? Do they not oppose God day after day, He who is always new and never old?” (“Knowing the Three Stages of God’s Work Is the Path to Knowing God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Every sentence of Almighty God's words was embedded in my heart. His judgment has exposed my nature and essence: I believe in God but resist Him. I felt God's wrath upon me. I felt His righteous and majestic disposition which cannot be offended. I trembled with fear, and couldn't help but kneel to the ground in shame of my own evil deeds. I have believed in the Lord for all these years, so how am I still so arrogant and conceited? Why do I lack any semblance of reverence to God? When God's work was not in line with my conceptions, I judged and denied it at will. I did not search for the truth or obey God at all. Am I not an arrogant person that believes in God, yet still resists Him? My behavior offended God's disposition long ago. If it wasn't for God's mercy and salvation, I would have been sent to hell long ago. How could I have the chance to hear God's voice and accept His judgment and cleansing in the last days? I felt that I really had been saved by God! This time, I hated and cursed myself more than ever before. I resolved that, no matter how God judges, chastises, prunes, deals with, tests or refines me, I will willingly accept it and obey Him. By continually reading Almighty God's words and experiencing His judgment and chastisement, I now understand many truths that I previously did not. Thanks be to God. I am gaining an ever-greater understanding of my own satanic nature of resisting and betraying God. I now also have some true knowledge about God's holy essence and righteous disposition which allows no offense. Unconsciously, I've developed a reverence of God and a thirst for the truth. I keep a much lower profile than I did before. I'm not as arrogant and conceited. When I'm confronted with things, I can consciously deny myself, search for the truth and practice the truth. My life disposition gradually changed. These are all the results of experiencing the judgment and chastisement by God's word. Now I finally understand what true faith in God is. I understand the true value and meaning of faith in God. This is something that believers never achieved during the Age of Grace. During the Age of Grace, the majority of us believers focused on imitating Paul. We worked and suffered for the Lord. We even preferred to suffer in jail rather than deny the Lord's name. Can this kind of faith in God change our life disposition? Can it allow us to really obey God and love Him? In the end, can this faith really allow us to defeat Satan? Can it really satisfy God? God expresses the truth and does His work on men, asking them to practice and experience His words. Why does He do this? He does it to change men's life disposition and save them from the influence of Satan. In the end, it allows men to know Him and obey Him. This is what true faith in God can achieve. But most believers of the Lord think that as long as they sacrifice everything and labor hard for the Lord, they will be after the Lord's heart, and that when He returns they will be raptured into the kingdom of heaven. Consider this, everyone: God does His work on us. Is this so that after we spread His work, suffering in the process, we ask Him, “I've fought the good fight. and finished running down the path. There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness”? Is this what God demands of men? Is this God's will? If this is how we understand faith in God, are we not misunderstanding Him?
Now that we have said all of this, do you understand what true faith in God is? Is it OK to believe in God but not experience His judgment or cleansing in the last days? Can we know God if we believe in Him but do not experience the judgment and chastisement of His word? Can we understand God's will and really obey and worship Him if we believe in Him but do not practice His words or experience His work? Therefore, if we really want to know God and change our dispositions, accepting and experiencing Almighty God's work of judgment in the last days is extremely important! Almighty God says, “If people remain in the Age of Grace, then they shall never be free of their corrupt disposition, let alone know the inherent disposition of God. If people always live among an abundance of grace but are without the way of life that allows them to know God and satisfy God, then they shall never truly gain Him though they believe in Him. What a pitiful form of belief that is. … when you have experienced each step of the work of God incarnate in the Age of Kingdom, you will feel that the hopes of many years have finally been realized. You will feel that only now have you truly seen God face-to-face; only now have you gazed upon the face of God, heard the personal utterance of God, appreciated the wisdom of God's work, and truly sensed how real and almighty God is. You will sense that you have gained many things that people of times past have never seen or possessed. At this time, you will clearly know what it is to believe in God, and what it is to be after God's heart. Of course, if you cling to views of the past, and reject or deny the fact of the second incarnation of God, then you shall remain empty-handed and acquire nothing, and ultimately be guilty of opposing God. Those who obey the truth and submit to the work of God shall come under the name of the second incarnate God—the Almighty. They will be able to accept the personal guidance of God, and shall acquire more and higher truth and receive the real human life. …” (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh).
from the movie Screenplay of Faith In God