By Lin Qing, Shandong Province
After becoming a Christian I always believed that as long as I put everything aside and expended myself for God, did the work of the church well, I didn’t give up my duty or betray God no matter what tribulations or pain I suffered, and could follow Him until the end, I would be someone God would be pleased with. I thought that I could gain God’s salvation and I would be able to remain. So I gave up my family and fleshly enjoyments, and spent every day rushing around, busy in the church. This is how I came to believe that I had already walked the path of salvation by God, and all I had to do was follow Him to the very end.
A few days ago, I saw a passage from a sermon, “Only Those Who Gain the Truth and Enter Into Reality Are Truly Saved”: “Being saved by God is not as simple as people imagine. We must experience the judgment and chastisement as well as the trials and refinement from God’s word step by step. We must closely follow every step of God’s work, and in the end gain the truth and achieve a change in disposition to become a new creation, and be able to rely on the truth to triumph over Satan and transcend sin. We must be able to consciously live relying on God’s words, to completely obey God and be compatible with Him. Only this is truly triumphing over Satan, transcending sin, and being gained by God. If we can achieve this outcome from experiencing God’s work, then only this is truly being saved by God.” “On the path of pursuing the truth and achieving salvation by God, there are yet many difficulties and obstacles, such as the family breaking apart, natural and man-made disasters—every type of trial and tribulation that people must face. It certainly is not smooth sailing, and if people lack truth, they cannot stand firm, the chance that they will betray God is 100%” (Collection of Sermons—Supply for Life). After reading this, I felt as if I were awakening from a dream. So, being saved by God wasn’t as simple as I had thought after all. It doesn’t refer to giving things up, expending yourself, working hard just on the outside, and then following God until the end. Rather, it’s necessary to have practical experience of God’s work and words, accept God’s chastisement and judgment, dealing and pruning, as well as experience all kinds of trials and tribulations. And finally, through understanding the truth, people gain genuine understanding of their own corrupt dispositions, cast off their corrupt satanic dispositions, begin relying on God’s words in their lives, and become people who truly fear and obey God. Only achieving this outcome can they be someone who truly gains God’s salvation. But comparing my actual condition to this, I was far from achieving that outcome. There were so many times that even though I knew pursuing reputation and status was not commended by God, I was firmly clinging to these things and would not let go of them. I was happy when I gained fame and status and energized when performing my duty, but when I didn’t gain them I was negative and resistant, even having no mind to work and falling into a darkness I couldn’t extricate myself from. I knew believing in God meant I should pursue the truth and fulfill the duty of a created being to satisfy God, and that I shouldn’t conduct transactions with God. But when I saw that God’s work was long in concluding and my hopes of gaining blessings still had not been realized, I carried negativity within me. My energy of earlier times just disappeared without a trace, and I was careless in fulfilling my duty. When I encountered difficulties in my work, although I knew that this was God training me through difficulties and perfecting my faith, inside I was still full of misunderstandings and complaints. I felt that believing in God was too painful, too difficult; I even wanted to give up my work and was unwilling to expend myself for God. There were so many times that I knew the environment and all people, matters, and things surrounding me were set up by God to perfect me, and that I should seek truth from these things, yet when faced with a person, matter or thing that was not in line with my notions, I would always resist it and was unwilling to accept it. Looking at all of these actual conditions and manifestations, how could that be an experience and a testimony of seeking the truth and putting it into practice? How could I have any bit of true stature? When faced just with some small trial or frustration, I was capable of betraying God at any moment and was in danger of stumbling, not to mention being able to stand firm in the midst of great tribulations and suffering and follow God to the end of the road. At that moment I saw that although I had followed God for several years and had never dropped out, I had only emphasized the superficial actions of running around and expending myself for God. I had not really pursued the truth or put God’s word into practice, nor had I truly accepted God’s judgment and chastisement, and my life disposition had not changed one bit. I was still living under Satan’s dark influence and was subject to its trickery and manipulation. This was very far off from the standard for truly being saved by God, but I actually believed that I had entered the path of salvation by God long ago and I was nearly adequate. This was simply self-deception.
After realizing these things, I prayed to God: “Oh God, thank You! It was Your enlightenment and guidance that allowed me to see my true condition clearly and made me understand what genuine salvation is, transforming my erroneous viewpoint from the past. It also made me understand that no matter how many years I had believed in God, without pursuing the truth my life disposition could not change. So no matter how much I was out and about working, no matter how much I suffered, I would not gain God’s approval. From today forward, I am willing to cherish this treasure of time to pursue the truth, and through experiencing Your work, I will try to rid myself of my corrupt disposition. I will strive to live according to Your words and completely obey You, and step onto the path to salvation.”