By Zhong Cheng
- As Believers in the Lord, Do We Have the Way to Eternal Life?
- Why We Still Do Not Have the Way to Eternal Life
As Believers in the Lord, Do We Have the Way to Eternal Life?
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). Many brothers and sisters in the Lord read the Lord’s word and believe that the Lord Jesus has the way to everlasting life, and He gave us the way long ago. In our years of believing in the Lord, we have continued to confess our sins and repent according to His teachings, we have suffered and paid a price to spread the Lord’s gospel, we have shepherded His churches, we have borne crosses to follow Him, we have been patient and tolerant with others, and we have not rejected His name when disasters or persecution befall us. We are able to keep the Lord’s path, so we already have the way to eternal life, and when the Lord comes, He will lift us up into the kingdom of heaven, where we will gain everlasting life. But, is this viewpoint correct? Does it accord with the truth?
Actually, although we are able to labor, work, forsake, expend, take up crosses, and follow the Lord, no one can deny that we are still bound and controlled by sin, and that we often betray the Lord’s teachings and do things which resist the Lord. For example: The Lord requires that we be simple, honest people, but we often tell lies and deceive to protect our own interests, dignity, or status; the Lord requires us to be tolerant and patient toward others and love others as ourselves, but when something infringes upon our own interests, we quibble over minor details, and even resent or become envious of others. The Lord requires us to love Him with all of our heart, mind, and soul, but when we preach and work, we often fail to do all we can to exalt and testify the Lord, be considerate of His burden, and make our brothers and sisters understand God’s will, and instead we often show off and put ourselves on display, try to make our brothers and sisters look up to and admire us, and try to bring others before ourselves. And although we forsake our homes and careers and spread the gospel wherever we can, we still often keep account of our own labors as a way to transact with the Lord and secure a share of the blessings of the kingdom of heaven. Isn’t this using and deceiving the Lord? Even though we often weep in agony as we confess our sins to the Lord, afterward we still often sin, and we live trapped in a vicious cycle of sinning and confessing, unable to overcome the bondage of sin. In this, don’t we still remain in our naturally corrupted state? The Lord Jesus 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). The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). God is holy, and the filthy and corrupt are forbidden to enter His kingdom. Although outwardly we forsake and expend for the Lord, we remain in bondage to sin, and our final ending is still oblivion and destruction. How can we possibly say we’ve gained the way to eternal life?
Why We Still Do Not Have the Way to Eternal Life
At this point, perhaps some brothers and sisters are confused, because 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). The Lord Jesus is the source of the living water, He has the way to everlasting life, and we believe in the Lord, read the Lord’s word, and carry out the Lord’s teachings, but why do we still lack the way of eternal life, which can purify and change us?
To understand this question, we should first understand the work of the Lord Jesus and the effect it achieves. When the Lord Jesus appeared and worked, the Israelites lived in sin, were unable to keep Jehovah’s laws, and faced the danger of being condemned to death by the laws. The Lord Jesus came, taught the path of “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17), taught people to confess their sins and repent, and finally became the likeness of sinful flesh and was crucified as a sin offering for mankind, completing His work to redeem mankind. From this, we can see that although the Lord Jesus certainly did have the way to everlasting life, based on the spiritual stature and needs of people at the time, He only gave us the path to repentance, and did not express the way to eternal life by which people can be delivered from sin and completely purified.
Just as God’s word says, “At the time, Jesus only spoke to His disciples a series of sermons in the Age of Grace, such as how to practice, how to gather together, how to ask in prayer, how to treat others, and so forth. The work He carried out was that of the Age of Grace, and He expounded only on how the disciples and those who followed Him ought to practice. He did only the work of the Age of Grace and none of the last days. … The work of God in each age has clear boundaries; He does only the work of the current age and never does He carry out the next stage of work in advance. Only in this way can His representative work of each age be brought to the fore. Jesus had spoken only of the signs of the last days, of how to be patient and how to be saved, how to repent and confess, as well as how to bear the cross and endure suffering; never did He speak of how man in the last days should enter in, or how to seek to satisfy God’s will” (“How Can Man Who Has Delimited God in His Notions Receive the Revelations of 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 men sin in the day only to confess in the evening. This way, even if 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” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)”).
From God’s word, we can see that the Lord Jesus only required us to do things like confess our sins and repent, no longer transgress, forsake ourselves, take up the cross and follow the Lord, love the Lord with all of our heart, mind, and soul, love others as we love ourselves, be humble, tolerant, and patient toward others, and forgive others “seventy times seven” times. After we believe in the Lord, as long as we pray to the Lord, confess our sins, and repent, our sins are forgiven. However, no one can deny that the satanic dispositions which cause us to sin are rooted deeply within us, things like arrogance, selfishness, cunning, greed, and evil. We are controlled by these satanic dispositions, and even though we outwardly are capable of some good deeds, this doesn’t represent dispositional change. When we interact with other people, for example, we are still capable of cunning and deceit. Or, when things happen that don’t accord with our notions, we often blame and judge God. In 2,000 years, all believers in the Lord, no matter how well they confess, repent, labor, and work, have been unable to escape the bondage of sin, and none have achieved change in their life disposition. This is an undeniable fact. So, we have not been delivered from sin and completely purified, and we have not gained the way to eternal life.
The way to eternal life isn’t something that simply makes us confess our sins and repent, it is the way of truth that allows us to live eternally. Which is to say, it can entirely resolve our sinful natures, save us by allowing us to escape the influence of Satan and rid ourselves of our satanic dispositions, enable us to be purified and attain full salvation from God, thereby becoming compatible with God and entirely gained by God. This kind of path is the way to eternal life. People who gain the way to eternal life as their lives, have genuine knowledge of God, are able to fear God and shun evil, can genuinely obey, worship, and love God, are completely compatible with God, and do God’s will are those who will receive God’s promise and blessings, and who are qualified to enter the kingdom of heaven.
How to Gain the Way to Eternal Life
So, how can we gain the way to eternal life? Actually, the way to eternal life is what the Lord Jesus brings when He returns. The Lord Jesus has prophesied many times that He will return, and He will do so to bring us the way to eternal life, so that we may gain everlasting life. The Lord Jesus prophesied, “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). These prophecies tell us that in the last days, the Lord Jesus will return to express the truth, do the work of judgment beginning with God’s house, resolve our sinful natures, enable us to completely escape from the bondage of sin, and enable us to live out the realities of God’s word and gain everlasting life. This is to say, before God saves us and grants us life, He first redeemed us from sin by allowing us to gain the Lord Jesus’ redemption, and on this basis, He will again grant us truth that will allow us to no longer suffer the bondage and constraints of our sinful natures, purify and change our corrupt dispositions, and make us as newly created people. So, if we wish to gain the way to eternal life, we must accept the work of the returned Lord Jesus, accept the truth expressed by the Lord in the last days, and follow the footsteps of the Lamb.
Thanks be to God for His enlightenment and guidance. May we all exert ourselves to pray to God and seek the truth more often, and may His guidance allow us all to gain the way to eternal life. Amen!