“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.”
Is the Concept of “Once Saved Always Saved” Biblical?
By Shen Qingqing, South Korea
Many people look forward to being saved by the Lord on His arrival and being raptured into the kingdom of heaven. As of today, only The Church of Almighty God has been openly testifying that the Lord Jesus has returned, and that He is doing the work of judgment beginning from the house of God to save and cleanse people. Some may feel confused upon hearing this news. They read the following verses: “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16), “For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation” (Romans 10:10), and believe them to mean that because the Lord Jesus was crucified to atone for the sins of all mankind, that so long as they believe in the Lord, they will be saved, and that once they have been saved, they are saved forever. They believe that so long as they keep the Lord’s name and endure until the end, they may be raptured directly into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord returns without having to accept God’s work of judgment and cleansing in the last days. Are beliefs of this kind correct?
Let us consider: Did the Lord ever say that once a person is saved they may enter the kingdom of heaven? Does it say this in the Bible? The answer to both these questions is obviously not. The Lord Jesus said, “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). Based on the word of God, we know that only those who do the will of the heavenly Father will be able to enter the kingdom of heaven. Doing the will of the heavenly Father means being able to put God’s word into practice, submitting to God, and being able to live according to God’s word no matter what the situation, and never again committing sin or opposing God. Yet we continue to lie and commit sin in spite of ourselves, and even fail to put the teachings of the Lord into practice, so can a person who is still able to commit sin and oppose the Lord in this way enter the kingdom of heaven? Unfortunately, our belief that “once saved always saved” is an erroneous one. When it comes to the important matter of entering the kingdom of God, we must follow the word of the Lord. We cannot go by the notions and imaginings of man! So just what is the true meaning of “salvation” in the scriptures? How does one actually enter the kingdom of heaven? These are the questions we shall now discuss and explore together.
The True Meaning of “Salvation”
We all know that in the late Age of Law, mankind was becoming more and more deeply corrupted by Satan. The people of Israel often violated laws and commandments and were committing more and more sins—so much so that no amount of sacrifice was enough, and they were all faced with the danger of being condemned and sentenced to death by the law. In order to save mankind from the threat of death, God came down to earth in the flesh as the Lord Jesus to do the work of redemption, to be crucified for man’s sake, to be the sin offering for all mankind, and to forgive man of his sins once and forever. Ever since then, so long as one believes in the Lord Jesus, confesses his sins to the Lord and repents, he will be pardoned for his sins and enjoy all the blessings and grace given by the Lord Jesus. For people living under the law, this was “salvation.” Therefore, the “salvation” that the Lord Jesus spoke of is not how we imagine, that so long as we believe in the Lord Jesus, we will be saved once and forever; rather, it means that people who sin will no longer be condemned and sentenced to death by the law, and the sins of man will be forgiven. Let us take a look at a passage of the words of Almighty God: “For all that man may have been redeemed and forgiven of his sins, it can only be considered as God not remembering the transgressions of man and not treating man in accordance with his transgressions. However, when man, who lives in a body of flesh, has not been set free from sin, he can only continue to sin, endlessly revealing his corrupt satanic disposition. This is the life that man leads, an endless cycle of sinning and being forgiven. The majority of mankind sin in the day only to confess in the evening. This way, even though the sin offering is forever effective for man, it will not be able to save man from sin. Only half the work of salvation has been completed, for man still has a corrupt disposition. … It is not easy for man to become aware of his sins; he has no way of recognizing his own deeply rooted nature, and he must rely on judgment by the word in order to achieve this result. Only thus can man gradually be changed from this point onward” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
When we believe in the Lord, even though we do receive the gift of salvation and our sins are forgiven, we are not released from the shackles of sin and continue to live in sin. Some examples of this are: We can be incredibly arrogant, always wanting to have the final say in any group situation and making other people go by what we say, and if someone does not go along with what we say, we might become heated and admonish them, and in even more serious cases, we might punish or mistreat them in some way. We can be incredibly selfish and base everything on the principle of self-interest, and even try to make deals with God in our faith in Him; when things are peaceful and going smoothly, we thank Him, but when faced with setbacks and failures, we become full of misunderstandings and complaints toward Him, and even go so far as to betray Him and abandon Him. We can be incredibly deceitful, so that whenever our own personal interests are involved, we lie and cheat in spite of ourselves. These are just a few examples of how we continue to live in sin. The Bible says, “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26–27). “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). God is holy. After we learn of the true way, we are still capable of sinning and opposing God in spite of ourselves. That means that we are the servants of sin, and cannot be commended by God. The Bible says, “[H]oliness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). If someone has not been cleansed of their sins, and they often sin and oppose God, can this person be saved forever? Can this person be fit to enter the kingdom of heaven? It is obvious that they cannot. It is only after we have been thoroughly cleansed of our sins that we may become holy and enter the kingdom of heaven. And now some may ask: How can we become cleansed so that we may enter the kingdom of heaven?
How Can We Receive Salvation and Enter the Kingdom of Heaven?
Almighty God says, “Though Jesus did much work among man, He only completed the redemption of all mankind and became man’s sin offering; He did not rid man of all his corrupt disposition. Fully saving man from the influence of Satan not only required Jesus to become the sin offering and bear the sins of man, but it also required God to do even greater work to rid man completely of his satanically corrupted disposition. And so, now that man has been forgiven of his sins, God has returned to the flesh to lead man into the new age, and begun the work of chastisement and judgment. This work has brought man into a higher realm” (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh). From this we can understand that in order to resolve the deep-rooted satanic disposition in man and completely liberate man from the shackles of sin, it is necessary for the Lord to return in the last days to carry out the work of judgment beginning with the house of God, and to express the truths to cleanse and save mankind. In fact, the Lord already prophesied this long ago, as it says in the Bible: “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” (John 16:12–13). “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 12:48). “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17).
Today, on the basis of the work of redemption of the Lord Jesus, Almighty God is carrying out the work of judgment beginning with the house of God, and is expressing all the truths for cleansing and saving mankind to solve the sinful nature of man once and for all and free him from the shackles of sin, purifying him, until ultimately he is gained by God and led into the kingdom of God. Almighty God’s judgment work in the last days fulfills these prophecies completely. All those who accept God’s work in the last days will receive God’s purification and salvation. They will all have the opportunity to be made into overcomers before the great disasters arrive, to be glorified with God, and to be raptured into the kingdom of heaven. So how does Almighty God judge and cleanse people and release them from the shackles of sin?
Almighty God’s words say, “In the last days, Christ uses a variety of truths to teach man, to expose the essence of man, and to dissect the words and deeds of man. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the essence of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, the words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan, and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth of which man is utterly bereft. Only methods such as these can be called judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced into submission to God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God” (“Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
It can be seen from this that God uses many truths to judge and expose man’s satanic disposition of rebelling against and opposing God. When we experience the judgment of Almighty God’s words, we personally experience that God’s righteous disposition tolerates no offense. Every single word of God penetrates our hearts and exposes all kinds of manifestations of corruption, as well as the wrongful thoughts and ideas, the tainted motives, and the notions and imaginations in the depths of our hearts, as well as the satanic nature behind these things, thereby causing us to feel mortified with shame and deeply regretful so that we fall down before God and truly repent to Him. Meanwhile, God also shows us paths of practice, such as what views we should hold in our faith in God, how to be an honest person, how to exalt and bear witness to God, how to avoid walking the path of the antichrist, how to achieve true obedience to God and true love for God, and so on. It is only when we have experienced the judgment work of God and we practice according to God’s words that we may live out the likeness of a normal person. This is entirely the result of God’s judgment.
Today, experiential testimonies of all kinds from many brothers and sisters in The Church of Almighty God who have experienced judgment have now been published on the Internet. From these real experiences and testimonies, it can be seen that it is only through experiencing the work of chastisement and judgment God performs in the last days that one may be cleansed and completely gained by God—this is the only way for us to reach the kingdom of heaven. As of now, many people from all over the world who truly believe in God have found the way into the kingdom of heaven by way of Almighty God’s words and have returned to Him. If we continue to cling to the concept of “once saved always saved” and do not accept God’s work of judgment of the last days, our corrupt dispositions will not be cleansed and transformed, and therefore, we will never have the opportunity to enter the kingdom of heaven. So, what are you still waiting for?