Is Forgiveness of Sins Gaining the Way of Eternal Life?
Very early one morning, a ray of sun came through the window blinds and landed on the bamboo plant on my desk. It seemed to glow with vitality in the sun. Finishing up my spiritual devotionals, I turned on my computer and browsed to a gospel website where I happened to see someone had posted a question about if we have gained the way of eternal life on a discussion board. Everyone was really actively and enthusiastically posting their own opinions, of which there were many. Some brothers and sisters said that as long as we’ve accepted the Lord Jesus’ redemption, we have already gained the way of eternal life. Others said that we are always living in sin and cannot keep fast to the Lord’s way, so when living in such a state, is that really gaining the way of eternal life? …
That post made me think of something the Lord Jesus said: “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). “He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life” (John 3:36). The Lord Jesus is the spring of living water of life, and when we accept Him as our Savior we are redeemed of our sins, so as long as we persist on the path of the Lord Jesus, confessing and repenting as He requires, diligently doing His work, making sacrifices and expending ourselves, shouldn’t we gain new life bestowed by God and the way of eternal life? I then shared my own views on the discussion board and kept an eye on other people’s responses.
Someone very quickly responded to my comment, saying, “The Lord Jesus is God Himself and is the source of all life. He can express the truth, bestow life upon people, and provide people with the way. There is absolutely no doubt about this. But what the Lord Jesus did was the work of redemption—He provided us with the way of repentance. As the Lord Jesus said: ‘Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matthew 4:17). The Lord Jesus taught us that we should confess our sins and repent, that we shouldn’t sin, do evil, that we should selflessly bear a cross and follow the Lord. He also required us to love God with our whole heart, mind, and soul, and after that love others as ourselves, and He taught us to have humility, tolerance, and patience, to forgive others seventy times seven times. All of these things are our paths of repentance. As long as we come before the Lord Jesus to confess and repent, our sins will be redeemed and then we will be qualified to pray to the Lord and enjoy His rich grace and blessings. But no one can deny that in spite of the fact that our sins have been redeemed, our sinful natures are still very deeply entrenched and we still sin in spite of ourselves. We are unable to put the Lord’s requirements of us into practice. Even if we do work hard for the Lord, once we’ve given some things up and expended ourselves a bit we start feeling like we’re really something, and in our work and sermons talk ourselves up. We hold high and bear witness to how far and wide we’ve preached the gospel and how much we’ve suffered so that others will adore and look up to us. In order to preserve our own interests, we’re often one way to others’ faces but another way behind their backs, and we may lie and cheat at any time and any place. Our hearts are full of arrogance and self-importance; we feel discontent when other people’s words or actions aren’t in line with our wishes, and sometimes we even use our own position to scold them. When we see someone of high caliber with personal strengths, we feel jealous and hate them. We don’t want anyone to be better or more capable than we are, and our jealousy can even lead us to judge, belittle, and exclude them. Sometimes we also follow along with worldly trends, greedy for things of the flesh and pursuing wealth, focused on our own food, drink, and entertainment. Particularly when we encounter disasters or tragedies, we grumble and complain to the Lord, we make judgments of Him, or even turn our backs on Him. We’re constantly living in a state of committing sins and then confessing them, totally powerless to escape the bonds of sin. This is our current state.
“I saw this in a book on a gospel website: ‘The sins of man could be forgiven through the sin offering, but as for just how man can be made to sin no more, and how his sinful nature may be extirpated completely and transformed, he has no way of solving this problem. The sins of man were forgiven, and this is because of the work of God’s crucifixion, but man continued to live within the corrupt satanic disposition of old. This being so, man must be completely saved from his corrupt satanic disposition, so that his sinful nature may be completely extirpated, never to develop again, thus enabling the disposition of man to be transformed. This would require man to grasp the path of growth in life, to grasp the way of life, and to grasp the way to change his disposition. Furthermore, it would require man to act in accordance with this path, so that his disposition may gradually be changed and he may live under the shining of the light, so that all that he does may be in accord with the will of God, so that he may cast away his corrupt satanic disposition, and so that he may break free from Satan’s influence of darkness, thereby emerging fully from sin. Only then will man receive complete salvation’ (‘The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)’). I realized something from this passage. The Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross; He became the sin offering for us, taking on all of our sins and redeeming us from the law so that we were no longer subject to the condemnation and damnation of the law. We became qualified to come before the Lord to confess, repent, and turn back toward the Lord, and enjoy His grace and blessings. But because we are bound by our sinful nature, we never stop sinning and offending God, and so people like us have not been truly gained by God. We all know that the wages of sin is death, and that our forebearers Adam and Eve only died because of their sin. It’s clear that those who haven’t resolved their sinful nature haven’t gained eternal life, and the Lord Jesus never said that those with a sinful nature can gain eternal life. Even more, He never said that being redeemed of our sins means we’ve been cleansed or that we’ve attained full salvation and have gained God’s approval. This means that we haven’t yet gained eternal life and we especially aren’t qualified to enter into the kingdom of heaven. The word of God says, ‘You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy’ (Leviticus 11:45), and in Hebrews 12:14 it is written, ‘Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.’ There’s also the prophecy in the Book of Revelation about those who will get into the kingdom of heaven: ‘And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God’ (Revelation 14:5). God is holy and He absolutely would not allow any filthy, corrupt human beings into His kingdom. Those in the kingdom who attain eternal life are those who cannot tell a lie, who are purified and without blemishes; they are honest people who fear God and shun evil. As long as we fully cast off our satanic nature and achieve purification, becoming people who know, obey, and love God, then we can gain God’s approval, enter into His kingdom, and attain eternal life. This requires that we understand and enter into more aspects of the truth.”
The passage quoted in the post and the fellowship really forced me to reflect. I thought of how in my life, I really have frequently been living within the vicious cycle of sinning, confessing, and sinning again. Even though I pray to God, confessing and repenting every day, I can never escape the fetters of sin. For a long time I saw that my coworker Wang’s sermons were better than mine and our brothers and sisters loved listening to them; whenever they had problems they sought her out. I became very jealous of her, and even though I knew the Lord didn’t approve of that and I frequently prayed to the Lord and acknowledged my sin, the moment I saw that look of envy and admiration in our brothers’ and sisters’ eyes when they looked at her, I couldn’t help but feel jealous, and even developed feelings of malice. When problems cropped up in family’s jobs or I got and stayed sick for a long time, I couldn’t help but blame the Lord and try to reason with Him, thinking that since I worked and suffered for the Lord He should bless my family and protect me. My brothers and sisters in the church were generally in that sort of condition as well. There were intrigues, conflicts, and jealousy between coworkers to get a place at the pulpit. There was no patience, tolerance or love between brothers and sisters; if there wasn’t anything that impinged upon people’s interests they seemed loving to each other on the outside, but they’d become biased as soon as something did touch upon their own interests. They would pettily keep track of the smallest things and even pass judgment on others behind their backs. Some brothers and sisters also went along with worldly trends, indulging the flesh and lusting after fleshly enjoyments. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The Lord Jesus said, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer: and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15). We’re all living in sin every day, going back and forth in this cycle of sinning and repenting, and everything we do rebelling against and opposing God. How could people as sinful as we are possibly attain purification and have eternal life? No wonder no matter how we confess and repent to the Lord we still cannot escape the shackles of sin—it turns out that the Lord Jesus did the work of redemption to bestow upon us the way of repentance, not the way of eternal life to cast off our satanic nature and achieve purification. So then what really is the way of eternal life, and how can it be gained? I rushed to send out the question and awaited the answer on pins and needles.
Someone then posted this: “The way of eternal life refers to the way of the truth that we will live on forever. More specifically, it is what can completely save us from sin so that we can gain the truth as our life, be in accord with God, and be entirely gained by God: This is the way of eternal life. Those who gain the way of eternal life are those who possess the truth, who have entirely escaped from sin and from the forces of Satan, who no longer sin, who no longer resist or betray God. They gain true understanding of God and they achieve a transformation in their life dispositions. They’re able to obey, worship, and love God, be completely in accord with Him and become those who do God’s will. Only this kind of person is qualified to enter God’s kingdom. All those who gain the truth as their very lives and achieve knowledge of God are those who gain the way of eternal life.
“Then how can we gain the way of eternal life? In Revelation the Lord Jesus prophesied many times, ‘I come quickly.’ He also told us, ‘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). ‘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). We can see from these words that when the Lord Jesus returns in the last days, He’ll express words to tell us all the truths we need to attain full salvation; He’ll also do the work of judgment beginning with the house of God, transform and purify our corrupt dispositions, and allow us to be fully freed from sin and escape the bonds of our corrupt dispositions. Ultimately, we can achieve dispositional transformation and be gained by God. These words are God bestowing upon us the way of eternal life. Once we accept God’s judgment of the last days, we can read God’s words, accept the judgment and chastisement of His words, achieve clarity on the truth, and gain true understanding of our own satanic nature and corrupt essence of resisting and betraying God. We can also come to understand God’s holy essence and His righteous, inviolable disposition, develop a heart of reverence for God, gain the truth and the life from God, and ultimately our corrupt dispositions will be cleansed and we’ll live out the likeness of honest people. We’ll become people who truly love, obey, and fear God. Only this kind of person will gain the way of eternal life and be worthy of entering into the kingdom of heaven. When the Lord Jesus was working, He didn’t express the truths to cleanse and fully save mankind because we had just come before God and were lacking in stature, and full of satanic, corrupt dispositions. We can’t just cast off our corruption and gain the truth and the life the moment we hear God’s words and become willing to repent; this is why in the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus worked according to mankind’s needs at the time. He expressed the truth to redeem mankind and bestowed the way of repentance upon us. The fruit that this bore was to get people to confess, repent, and turn back toward God. But when the Lord returns in the last days, He will express all truths to purify and save us, tell us how we can escape our sinful nature, and how we should practice to achieve submission to and love of God. If we act according to God’s words, we will gradually shed our corrupt dispositions and these truths can become our life; then we’ll be able to achieve full purification and transformation. This shows us that God performs different work in different ages according to His management plan and according to what we, mankind, require. Anything and everything that God does is to better save us, purify us, and allow us to attain complete salvation.”
I eagerly paged through my Bible and found the Scripture verses referenced in the post; I saw that this really had been prophesied long ago. I also saw these verses: “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). “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the middle of the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7). Didn’t these verses state long ago that when the Lord returns, He will utter more words and do the step of work to fully purify us so we can be freed from our sinfulness? Only by accepting all truths expressed by God in the last days, casting off our corrupt dispositions, and gaining these truths as our life can we truly attain the way of eternal life.
My eyes lit up when I thought through all of this and I happily typed back a response: “Thanks be to the Lord, now I know from our discussion and fellowship today that the Lord Jesus gave us the way of repentance, but we are still constantly sinning and confessing, and have not gained eternal life. As long as we accept the Lord’s work when He returns we can gain the way of eternal life, and only then can our corrupt dispositions be fully cleansed and transformed. I give thanks to the Lord!”