Can We Be Raised Up Into the Heavenly Kingdom Through Justification By Faith?
Nowadays, earthquakes, fires, floods, plagues of insects, epidemics and other disasters are growing ever greater, and just in recent weeks the novel coronavirus has spread throughout the world. Faced with these disasters, many believers think that, having accepted the Lord Jesus’ salvation of the cross, as long as they acknowledge the Lord with their mouths and believe in Him in their hearts then they are saved. They believe that as long as they pray and read the Bible lots and have faith in the Lord, then the Lord will protect them from the disasters, and they will immediately be raised up into the kingdom of heaven when He returns, for as the Bible says: “For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation” (Romans 10:10). But is this belief really correct? Does it accord with the Lord’s will? Let’s explore this together.
We believe that we can be justified by our faith, that we can be saved by our faith, and that by frequently reading the Bible and praying, we will be raised up into the kingdom of heaven. But did the Lord Jesus ever say such a thing? If this belief accorded with the Lord’s will, why then did He say, “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). We can see from the Lord’s words that some of those who acknowledge the Lord Jesus with their mouths and believe in Him in their hearts, who read the Bible, pray, and expend themselves and suffer for the Lord, are evil-doers, and because these people do evil and resist God, they will ultimately be abandoned and eliminated by God, and they will be unable to enter into God’s kingdom. The Lord Jesus told us clearly that those who enter the kingdom of heaven must be those who do the will of the heavenly Father, meaning those who follow God’s way, who cast off sin, and who are able to submit to God, love God and revere God. We therefore have to ask ourselves: Though we may appear to do lots of good deeds, have we cast off sin and attained purification? Actually, we are still capable of involuntarily sinning and then confessing, and we are unable to follow God’s words, so could the Lord praise such people as us? It is therefore evident that the belief that we will be protected from the disasters and finally raised up into the kingdom of heaven because we acknowledge the Lord with our mouths, believe in Him in our hearts, and read the Bible and pray lots, is wrong.
There was a backstory to the Lord Jesus performing His work of redemption. In the Age of Law, Jehovah God laid down the laws and commandments for man and guided nascent humanity in their lives on earth. But man became increasingly unable to keep the laws and were in danger of being condemned to death by the laws. The people of that time prayed to God and beseeched Him, wishing for an eternal sin offering to come. To save mankind, therefore, God incarnated in the form of the Lord Jesus and was crucified to redeem us sinners. He made it so that, because of our faith in the Lord Jesus, we would no longer be condemned by the laws, and could pray directly to God and enjoy the abundant grace God bestows on us. This is what it means to be saved, to be justified by faith.
However, the work of redemption the Lord Jesus did back then was based on the needs of the people of that time, and what was forgiven were our sins of going against the laws and commandments; what was not forgiven were our sinful natures. That is to say, our satanic natures such as arrogance, selfishness and deceit remained deeply rooted within us. Under the control of our sinful natures, therefore, we are frequently unable to stop ourselves from sinning and resisting God. Take being honest, for example. In some small matters we are able to stop ourselves from telling lies, but the moment something infringes upon our vital interests, we are unable to put being an honest person into practice, and we may even distort facts in our speech; in our interactions with others, though we may appear humble and get along well with others, as soon as our interests are threatened, we can become jealous and reject others, and we can even hold grudges; when we expend ourselves for the Lord and are able to receive God’s blessings, we can expend ourselves vigorously, but as soon as we don’t feel blessed, we become negative and weak, we no longer expend ourselves for the Lord so vigorously and we may even blame God and argue with Him in our hearts. These are just a few examples of how we can sin and resist God under the control of our sinful natures. The Lord Jesus has said very clearly: “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). It’s recorded in 1 Peter 1:15–16: “But as He which has called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be you holy; for I am holy.” And God’s words say, “You must know what kind of people I desire; those who are impure are not permitted to enter into the kingdom, those who are impure are not permitted to besmirch the holy ground. Though you may have done much work, and worked for many years, in the end if you are still deplorably filthy, then it will be intolerable to the law of Heaven that you wish to enter My kingdom! From the foundation of the world until today, never have I offered easy access to My kingdom to those who curry favor with Me. This is a heavenly rule, and no one can break it!” “A sinner such as you, who has just been redeemed, and has not been changed, or been perfected by God, can you be after God’s heart? 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 you 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. You, a sinner who has just been redeemed, are therefore incapable of directly inheriting God’s inheritance.” We can see from these words that God is holy, and so we must first be purified before we can enter into the kingdom of heaven. Those who commit sins are the servants of sin, and no servant may ever enter the kingdom of God. That is to say, because those who only accept the Lord Jesus’ redemption, who are saved through being justified by their faith and who acknowledge the Lord with their mouths have not had their corrupt dispositions purified, they remain unfit to enter the kingdom of heaven; this is determined by the righteous disposition of God. If people who were still capable of sinning and resisting God were permitted to enter the kingdom of heaven, what would the consequences be? Would Satan not make accusations? Would such people in the kingdom of heaven not oppose God, just as the archangel did in the beginning? How could God possibly allow such things to happen? We therefore need the Lord to come again to perform a new work to cleanse us of our sins, as only then will we be fit to enter the kingdom of God.
The world is beset by disasters and the Lord’s day is upon us. The Lord Jesus said, “Repent: for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). It can be seen that only those who truly repent can enter into the Kingdom of heaven. So, what’s true repentance? How can we achieve true repentance? Click here to discuss with us.