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A Debate About Whether Being Instantly Transformed and Raptured Into the Kingdom of God Is Possible or Not

After Wang Liwen’s marriage failed, the Lord’s salvation came upon her, and God became her reliance. Once, she saw these words in the Bible, “That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation” (Romans 10:9–10). “For our conversation is in heaven; from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like to his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things to himself” (Philippians 3:20–21). After reading these verses, she felt that believing in the Lord was truly good and following the Lord was right. She thought as long as she believed in the Lord with her heart and confessed to Him with her mouth, she could not only get the Lord’s supreme grace, but would be changed instantly and be brought into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord returns. This would be a great blessing. From then on, she pursued passionately, worked hard, and sacrificed and expended for the Lord. A few years later, she became an excellent preacher. She usually used Paul’s words to spur herself on and to encourage brothers and sisters. In her heart, she was convinced that she would enter the kingdom of heaven in the end as long as she continued to believe like this. However, after a co-workers meeting, she became doubtful of her own view for the first time …

After the co-workers meeting, Xiao Jie said with a serious expression, “Now the disasters in different countries are increasingly intense. The prophecies of the Lord’s return have basically been fulfilled. The world has become ever more wicked and dark. Everyone advocates wickedness and violence, coveting money and enjoying the pleasure of sin. People intrigue against each other and take advantage of each other. The religious world becomes more and more desolate, and iniquities of all kinds gradually increase. Brothers and sisters become negative and weak. Some follow the wicked social trends, coveting money, pursuing wealth and reputation, and chasing fame and fortune. Though they believe in the Lord on their lips, they don’t practice the Lord’s words. Rather, they ponder how to make money for a better life all day. They are entangled with the worldly affairs. In our preaching, we repeat the same sermons without any new light. We cannot even feel the Holy Spirit’s work at all. And we can neither help brothers and sisters solve their difficulties and problems nor supply anything to them. At this critical moment of waiting for the Lord’s return, we are generally in such a condition. If it goes on like this, can we get the Lord’s approval?”

After hearing Xiao Jie’s words, some co-workers felt the same. They discussed, with sad looks.

Wang Liwen said with a little worry, “These years, in order to seek the work of the Holy Spirit and revive the church, I contacted many pastors and elders. However, what made me sad was that many pastors and elders also follow social trends, coveting money, giving in to vanity, and struggling for fame and gain. They explain biblical knowledge and theological theories to exalt and testify themselves, to draw people to venerate and look up to them, to snatch away God’s sheep as if they are their own. Because they indulge in the blessings of status, and don’t care about the believers who are thirsty and hungry in spirit, many believers are cold in faith and have withdrawn. Alas, in seeking to revive the church, we have used many ways that we can think of but still cannot feel the Lord’s guidance. I don’t know what to do now. But no matter how passive and weak we are, we should keep our faith in the Lord, read the Bible and pray more, and try our best to spread the gospel and bear witness for the Lord. Only in this way can we be brought into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord returns.”

Gao Lei was distressed and said, “These days, I often reflect upon myself: I have believed in the Lord for so many years; I often read the Bible and pray, spread the gospel and bear witness for the Lord, but why is my faith and love for the Lord diminishing? Why do I have no place for the Lord and no fear of Him in my heart? I live in sin all day long, sinning and confessing endlessly. When the Lord comes, will He bring such people like me into the kingdom of heaven? I still hope that I can be caught up to the heavenly kingdom when the Lord comes. Aren’t I dreaming?”

Fan Jianwen said confidently, “Is there any doubt about that? Although we still constantly sin, the Lord has forgiven us. The Lord will not abandon us. We should have faith in Him.”

Wang Liwen nodded, saying, “We believers in the Lord usually sin and are controlled and bound by sins. We have neither practiced many of the Lord’s words nor obeyed His commandments or met His requirements, but we should not be discouraged and disappointed. Let’s see what Paul said in the Bible. Romans 10:9–10 recorded, ‘That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.’ Chapter 11 Verse 6 recorded, ‘And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace.’ We are the people who are justified by faith. When the Lord comes, we will surely be brought into the kingdom of heaven. There’s no need to worry. Let’s turn to Philippians 3:20–21, and read together, ‘For our conversation is in heaven; from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like to his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things to himself.’ Let’s turn to 1 Corinthians 15:51–52, ‘Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.’ After listening to these words, aren’t we more confident now? The Apostle Paul told us that our bodies will instantly change when the Lord descends and appears to us—we will be lifted into the sky to meet with the Lord. Then we will no longer suffer from the control and binding of sin and will be completely holy.”

Some brothers and sisters nodded with agreement, and some frowned slightly.

Brother Gao stood up and got some water. Then he said, “Sister Wang, in the past few years, we seldom gave sermons about the Lord Jesus’ words, not to mention practicing and entering into the Lord’s word. But we often thought we are justified by faith according to Paul’s words, and that though we still sin and have not reached holiness, we’ll be changed instantly and be brought into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord returns. We usually fellowshiped about these topics. Brothers and sisters seemed to be more confident about being brought into the kingdom of heaven. But what then are the consequences we bring to brothers and sisters? In practical life, brothers and sisters neglect practicing the Lord’s words and following His commandments. Some even increasingly indulge in carnal pleasure without the slightest fear for God and live in sins without true repentance. They think, ‘Since the Lord has forgiven my sins, though I am not holy, the Lord will instantly make me holy when He comes. I will enter the kingdom of heaven just the same.’ Do you say this kind of faith pleases the Lord? God has ever said: ‘you shall therefore be holy, for I am holy’ (Leviticus 11:45). The Bible also said, ‘… and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14). If we are not holy, we are not qualified to see the Lord. I don’t think it’s quite possible that people like us who often sin and don’t practice the Lord’s words will be raptured into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord returns. I am afraid it’s just our wishful thinking.”

Fan Jianwen was not convinced, waving his hands and saying, “Brother Gao, we cannot speak this way. The Lord Jesus was personally crucified on the cross for us and has redeemed us from sin. We are called righteous because of our faith in the Lord, and no one can convict us for our sins. Just like Paul said, ‘Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemns?’ (Roman 8:33–34). God has seen us as righteous and we are forever saved since we were once saved, so we don’t have to worry about sinning or not, attaining holiness or not. We only have to believe in Paul’s word that when the Lord comes, instantly, He will change our images and take us to the kingdom of heaven. If we don’t even have such confidence, can we be the Lord’s believers?”

Hua Ying refuted, “Brother Fan, I don’t agree with you. Who are the ones chosen by God? Those who live in sins, commit sins and confess them yet don’t repent, are they the ones chosen by God? If we believers in God have no fear of God and no obedience to God, and rebel against and resist God, are we the ones chosen by God? According to your opinion, after we believe in the Lord, no matter what sins we commit, the Lord will forgive us and we can still be brought into the kingdom of heaven when He returns. In that case, how do you explain Hebrews 10:26-27, ‘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’? Besides, the Lord Jesus has prophesied that in the last days, He will do the work of separating the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the tares, and the good servants from evil ones. If man can be brought into the kingdom of heaven just because he is called righteous by association with belief and granted salvation because of grace, then how will the Lord Jesus’ prophecy be fulfilled? I feel that being brought into the kingdom of heaven is absolutely not as simple as we think.”

Xiaoyu opened the Bible, and after Hua Ying finished speaking, she said, “I agree with Sister Hua. It’s not a simple matter to enter the kingdom of heaven. The Lord Jesus said: ‘And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be’ (Revelation 22:12). According to the Lord Jesus’ prophecy, when He comes, He will punish the evil and reward the good on the basis of their deeds. As believers in God, whether we ultimately enter the heavenly kingdom or go to hell has a direct bearing on whether we have practiced the Lord’s word and followed His way. According to Paul’s words, whether we follow the Lord’s way or not, whether we sin or not, we will instantly be transformed and be brought into the heavenly kingdom directly when the Lord comes. Then how will the Lord Jesus’ word ‘to give every man according as his work shall be’ be fulfilled?”

Sister Yang said, “What kind of person can enter the heavenly kingdom, the Lord Jesus told us long ago, ‘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’s words are very clear: Only the ones who practice His word, follow His way, and obey His will can enter the kingdom of heaven. This is the only condition set by the Lord for entering the kingdom of heaven. But look at our actual situation—we haven’t practiced much of the Lord’s word or kept the Lord’s commandments. Such people as us still hope that we can be changed instantly and be caught up to the heavenly kingdom when the Lord comes. I think it’s quite unlikely.”

Wang Liwen said with emotion and excitement, “Today our communication and debate is so enlightening and very beneficial to me. In the past, I believed in the Lord according to Paul’s words all the time, thinking I was called righteous by faith and that I would be saved because of grace. And I thought though I often sinned, the Lord would change my image instantly, make me holy, and bring me into the heavenly kingdom when He comes. I understood it this way, and preached the same. Unexpectedly, because I have such a wrong understanding, I mislead many brothers and sisters, so they neglect the Lord’s word and requirements, and don’t pay attention to practicing the Lord’s word and keeping the Lord’s commandments. Some even become increasingly debauched and distant from the Lord. Through our fellowship, I realize that such practice is wrong. It doesn’t contribute to the life of brothers and sisters, and it is an evil thing. Today, I see the seriousness of the issue. We believers in the Lord should rely on the Lord’s words; only the one who does the will of the heavenly Father can enter the kingdom of heaven. Because only the Lord Jesus is the King of the kingdom of heaven, Paul is not.”

Brothers and sisters all felt that such fellowship contained the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit, and some of their confusion was resolved. They thanked the Lord for His guidance unceasingly. …

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