‘Once Saved, Always Saved’ Is Man’s Notion
By Chenwen, USA
In Misery and Confusion, I Believed in the Lord Jesus
After my graduation, I found a job and worked for two years. During this period of time, my father and younger brother died off, leaving my mother and me to share our life together. During the two years, I spent my days in tears, and couldn’t express the pain in my heart. In order to support my family, I came to the USA to work. At the beginning, I worked in a restaurant and could only get a limited income. In order to save rent, I lived in the basement of the restaurant. Over time, this led to me having dampness in my body, and the dampness was heavy, as a result I developed edema throughout my body, and often felt very tired. In fact, my heart was even more tired. For I didn’t have my father to rely on, much less did I want my mother to worry about me — all I could do was silently endure the misery and loneliness by myself. At that time, I doubted about the meaning of life, thinking, “I work like a robot every day, just for eating and dressing. What do I live for?”
Afterward, my classmate Sister Ye many times tried to persuade me to believe in Jesus. She told me about God’s creation, and told me that the reason why our lives were painful and empty was because we humans didn’t listen to God’s words and committed sins. She also told me that only if we accepted the Lord Jesus could our sins be forgiven, and that only if we believed in the Lord could we have peace and joy, because the Lord would bear all our sufferings and burdens. Hearing these words, I was somewhat moved, thinking that I finally could pour out my pain to Him and that my life had hopes. So, I believed in the Lord Jesus. Since then, every time I listened to hymns I would be touched. Especially one hymn that said, “Except You, who else I can have in the heaven? Except You, I have no attachment on the earth. Except You, who can dry my eyes? Except You, who can give me comfort? …” The lyrics of this hymn gave voice to my own thoughts, and made me find the reliance of my life and my spirit was consoled. After that, whenever I met difficulties, I could overcome them through praying to the Lord. I felt the Lord is faithful, and He can indeed share the load and pain for me. Later, because the work was too hard and I lived far away from the church, I seldom went to the church. Sometimes, I read the Bible at home, but I didn’t understand many of the verses. Besides, I thought what the pastor said during his sermons, “Since we believed in Jesus, we have been saved and once saved, we are saved forever. When the Lord comes, we will enter the kingdom of heaven.” So, I indulged myself and thought that the Lord was merciful and could forgive me and sympathize with my weakness.
Because the work of the restaurant was very tiring and my income was limited, I began to start my own business, and turned to doing e-commerce. Owing to the work, I would often engage in various social activities — going to KTV and playing mahjong with partners or guests, or drinking very late sometimes. I indulged in eating, drinking and merry-making. Every time I went home, I felt hollow. Thinking I often lived in sin, I felt unworthy of the Lord and also felt guilty in my spirit. Because I used to hear the pastors preach that if the behavior of those believing in the Lord is the same as that of the unbelievers, this is committing sin and cannot please the Lord. Therefore, I thought I should have the likeness of a Christian, and no longer foolishly believe in the Lord; I should read more of the Bible, listen to sermons and attend meetings more often so as to get rid of the bad living habits.
A Puzzlement That I Couldn’t Solve
Then, I went to the church to have meetings again. However, I found that the more I listened to the sermons, the more questions that I couldn’t understand. And what puzzled me most was the pastors’ saying, “‘For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation’ (Romans 10:10). As long as we believe in the Lord, then once saved, we are saved forever.” I thought: Can it be that believing in God is really so simple? Can we be saved as long as we believe? If so, why did the Bible record about the foolish virgins eliminated by the Lord? Every time these questions came to my mind, I would feel perplexed. Later, I gradually found many people hadn’t come to the meetings, and that more and more people had dozed off or played with their cellphones during the meetings. I also lived in the state of committing sins in the daytime and confessing them at night. Seeing these phenomena, I felt more puzzled: Can people like us who often fall into sins, really be saved and enter the kingdom of heaven as long as we believe in our heart and confess with our mouth, and be forgiven of all our sins by prayer? If this is true, can’t all the people who have accepted the gospel of the Lord Jesus enter the kingdom of heaven? I had asked the pastors about these questions, but none of them could solve my puzzlement.
My Puzzlement Was Solved in a Bible Study Meeting
In July, 2017, I met Sister Wen in a Bible study meeting. She fellowshiped with us about some mysteries of the Bible, God’s several-thousand-year management work, and so on. I felt that her fellowship was very clear and had a basis in the Bible and benefited me a lot. So, I couldn’t help asking her, “Sister, I have a question which has puzzled me a long time. The Bible says, ‘For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation’ (Romans 10:10). The pastors often tell us that once saved, we are forever saved as long as we believe in Jesus. Is it really so? But at times, the pastors tell us to be wise virgins. What’s the difference between wise virgins and foolish virgins?”
Sister Wen smiled and said, “Sister, this question is well put! Our sins have been forgiven for believing in the Lord, that is, we are saved and can enjoy the grace and blessings bestowed by the Lord. This is a fact. However, being saved once is not equivalent to being saved forever. ‘Being saved’ that we speak of only refers to sins being forgiven, and it means that we won’t be condemned or put to death by the law. But it doesn’t mean that we can follow God’s way and have thoroughly separated ourselves from sin and become pure; even less does it mean that we can enter the kingdom of heaven. Let’s read two passages of God’s words, and then we will understand. God says: ‘At the time Jesus’ work was the redemption of all mankind. The sins of all who believed in Him were forgiven; as long as you believed in Him, He would redeem you; if you believed in Him, you were no longer a sinner, you were relieved of your sins. This is what it meant to be saved, and to be justified by faith. Yet in those who believed, there remained that which was rebellious and opposed God, and which still had to be slowly removed. Salvation did not mean man had been completely gained by Jesus, but that man was no longer of sin, that he had been forgiven his sins: Provided you believed, you would never more be of sin’ (‘The Vision of God’s Work (2)’). ‘mankind had only to accept the Lord Jesus as the Savior for his sins to be forgiven. Nominally speaking, the sins of man were no longer a barrier to his achieving salvation and coming before God and were no longer the leverage by which Satan accused man. That is because God Himself had done real work, had become in the likeness and foretaste of sinful flesh, and God Himself was the sin offering. In this way, man descended from the cross, being redeemed and saved thanks to the flesh of God, the likeness of this sinful flesh’(‘Man Can Only Be Saved Amidst the Management of God’). In the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross to make a sin offering for mankind. Only if we pray, confess, and repent to the Lord could we not be condemned or put to death. This is the real meaning of ‘being saved by faith.’ That is to say, God would no longer treat us as sinners, and from that moment onward, our sins would no longer obstruct us from coming before God and receiving salvation, nor did it serve as the leverage Satan uses to accuse us humans. However, it is undeniable that our sins were forgiven since we believe in the Lord, but our sinful nature still remains, so we can often lie and deceive God, follow evil worldly trends to pursue life’s pleasures, and we still admire fame, interest, position and power, as well as envy and hate others. Moreover, we cannot often practice the Lord’s words or extricate ourselves from all kinds of sins. The Bible says: ‘and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14). The Lord is righteous and holy, and how can He allow a habitual sinner to get in the kingdom of heaven? The Lord Jesus has 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). It can be seen that man who cannot rid himself of sin and becomes holy will not enter the kingdom of heaven. With regard to entering the kingdom of heaven, the Lord Jesus said like this: ‘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’ (Matthew 7:21). The Lord Jesus didn’t say those who are saved by faith and have their sins forgiven can enter the kingdom of heaven, but told us clearly that only those who do the will of the heavenly Father can enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, ‘Once saved, we are saved forever’ is man’s conception and has no basis in God’s words. Additionally, being justified by believing in the heart and being saved by confessing with the mouth, this is Paul’s words and doesn’t represent how the Lord Jesus felt. We should set the Lord Jesus’ words as the standard in all things.”
I approved of what she fellowshiped very much. Indeed, there are many sins in me: When doing business, I still lied and cheated, and even followed the worldly trend to seek the enjoyment of the flesh. Although I knew it was not good, yet I involuntarily fell into sins and couldn’t extricate myself from them. How could someone like me who often sins be qualified to enter the kingdom of heaven?
The sister continued, “Let’s read another passage of God’s words: ‘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 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’ (‘Concerning Appellations and Identity’). God’s word speaks clearly: The Lord Jesus just did the work of redeeming mankind. Since we believed in the Lord, our sins have been forgiven, while our satanic nature and satanic disposition have yet to be cleansed, so we can still often sin and often confess. This is the fact. That is why we need to receive God’s work of judging man, purifying man, and thoroughly saving man in the last days. The Lord Jesus’ work of redemption paved the way for the work of judgment in the last days. If we don’t accept the Lord’s work of judgment in the last days, our corrupt disposition will never be cleansed, and then we will not feast along with the Lord or have the qualification to enter the kingdom of heaven. ”
After hearing God’s words and the sister’s fellowship, I was suddenly awakened, and said, “Sister, I understand: Our sins were only forgiven after we believed in the Lord. If we want to get purified, we need to accept the work of judgment done by the returned Lord Jesus. The Lord’s work of judgment in the last days is the work of purifying man. No wonder we often sin, and it turns out that we have not accepted the Lord’s work of judgment in the last days.”
The sister said happily, “Thanks be to God! You are right! If we want to be saved and enter the kingdom of God, we must accept the work of judgment and chastisement done by God in the last days. Only then can we escape sin to receive cleanness and achieve a change in disposition, and thereby thoroughly break free from Satan’s dark influence, return before the throne of God, and obtain the promise and blessings God bestows upon man.”
The more I listened, the clearer I was; the more I listened, the more I thirsted. Over so many years of belief in the Lord, I had never heard such preaching. I felt very bright and my puzzlement was finally solved. Next, the sister fellowshiped with me about the differences between “wise virgins” and “foolish virgins.” Then I understood: Wise virgins are those who love the truth and seek the truth, and they listen out for the voice of God. So, with regard to the coming of the Lord, once hearing the voice of the Lord, they can welcome the Lord and attend the feast with Him. By contrast, foolish virgins don’t love the truth and regarding the Lord’s return, they neither seek and investigate nor pay attention to hearing the voice of God. They obstinately cling to the rules, and merely await the Lord to bring them into the kingdom of heaven. As a result, they miss the opportunity of welcoming the Lord’s return. Thanks be to God! It seemed that I suddenly became enlightened, and my puzzlement of many years was finally solved, so I felt very delighted. Later, the sister fellowshiped with me about the three stages of work God has done and the meaning of God taking a new name in each stage, and so on. I was very excited, feeling that I was so lucky to hear the voice of God and attend the feast of the Lamb.
Welcoming the Return of the Savior, I Lived a New Life
Afterward, through a period of attending meetings and reading God’s words, and watching many gospel movies produced by the Church of Almighty God, such as, Disclose the Mystery About the Bible, The Mystery of Godliness and Faith in God, and so on, I became completely certain about Almighty God’s work of the last days. Almighty God is the Savior Jesus we’ve been waiting for many years. It is absolutely true!
Before, I seldom read the Bible or attended the meetings on Sunday. But in the following days, I usually expected the twice meetings of every week and particularly cherished the time when I read God’s words and shared experiences with brothers and sisters. Once in a meeting, a sister shared two passages of God’s words with me: “When God arose from His bed, the first thought that He had was this: to create a living person, a real, living human — someone to live with and be His constant companion. This person could listen to Him, and God could confide in and speak with him. Then, for the first time, God grabbed a handful of dirt and used it to create the very first living person that He had imagined, and then gave this living creature a name — Adam. Once God had gained this living and breathing person, how did He feel? For the first time, He felt the joy of having a loved one, a companion. He also felt for the first time the responsibility of being a father and the concern that comes along with it” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III”).
“First, He selects a family for you; what kind of background the family has, who your parents are, who your ancestors are — all this was already decided by God. In other words, these were not spur of the moment decisions made by Him, but rather this was a work begun long ago. Once God has chosen a family for you, He also chooses the date on which you will be born. Presently, God watches as you are born crying into the world, watches your birth, watches as you utter your first words, watches as you stumble and toddle your first steps, learning how to walk. First you take one step and then you take another … now you can run, now you can jump, now you can talk, now you can express your feelings. During this time, as man grows up, Satan’s gaze is fixed on every one of them, like a tiger eyeing its prey. But in doing His work, God has never suffered any limitations of people, events or things, of space or time; He does what He should and does what He must. In the process of growing up, you may encounter many things that are not to your liking, encounter illnesses and frustrations. But as you walk this road, your life and your future are strictly under God’s care. God gives you a genuine guarantee to last all your life, for He is right there beside you, guarding you and looking after you” (“God Himself, the Unique VI”). These words moved me so much, and I felt very warm and couldn’t help shedding tears. I came to realize: God loves mankind created by Him so much and the relationship between God and man is so intimate. God sees us as family and companion, and always watches over and protects us. In the past, I always thought that I was lonely and desolate because of the misfortunes and difficulties of life, and even wept bitterly. I had thought I must rely on myself to bear many things, but now I appreciated that God is always by my side, leading and accompanying me. When I was in pain or in danger, God protected and guided me in secret, preparing for my return to His home some day. Tasting God’s love, I felt very warm and happy, and also had better faith to follow God to the end.
Now, I read God’s words, listen to hymns, and watch videos and films every day, but I still reveal corrupt dispositions in life. For example: When something wasn’t in line with my will, I would lose my temper; sometimes, when I saw the sisters who believed in God for less time than me communicate well, I would be jealous of them; sometimes, when I met the brothers and sisters with bad caliber, I would have the thoughts of looking down upon them. Later, through reading God’s words, I realized they were all corrupt dispositions, which were caused by my arrogant nature. At this time, I knew to come before God and pray to Him, and look for God’s words pertaining to my situation to solve them. Then I practiced according to God’s words and sought change. Gradually, I revealed hot-bloodedness less, and the jealousy in my heart decreased, and I could treat brothers and sisters fairly too. I truly experienced that God’s judgment work in the last days can indeed purify and transform man. At present, I proactively cooperate with brothers and sisters to spread the gospel to my friends with good humanity and the willingness to believe in God around me. Every day of my life is abundant and meaningful. I break away from the miserable and hopeless life. Thanks be to Almighty God! All the glory be to Almighty God!