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The Mystery of the Eternal Life—How Can Christians Gain Eternal Life?
By Zhong Cheng
Have We Received the Way of Everlasting Life by Believing in the Lord?
It is recorded in the Bible that once, when passing through Samaria, the Lord Jesus rested by a well there, and a woman of Samaria came to draw water. When talking to the woman, the Lord Jesus told her, “Whoever drinks of this water shall thirst again: 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 4:13–14). From then on, word gradually spread that the Lord Jesus is the Christ, the source of the living water of life, and has the way of, and more and more people began to believe in the Lord Jesus. Facts show that the Lord Jesus truly has the everlasting way of life, the way of eternal life. But have we gained the way of life through our faith in the Lord? This is worth exploring.
Many of the devout brothers and sisters who believe in the Lord assume that, being Christians for all these years, they have read the Lord’s words so many times, have worked hard for the Lord, and have practiced some of the Lord’s utterances, such as being tolerant and patient, bearing the cross and following the Lord, and they haven’t denied the Lord’s name but have kept to the Lord’s way when encountering persecution and tribulation, so they have obtained the way of life possessed by the Lord and, when the Lord returns they can enter into the heavenly kingdom and have eternal life. A lot of people have this kind of perspective. But is it right? Is it in accordance with the truth?
We all know that God’s kingdom is holy and God will not allow unclean and corrupt people to enter it. However, we now still frequently commit sins, such as lying, deceiving, being highly competitive, and being bent only on making profits, etc., and we live in a cycle of committing sins and then confessing them every day, unable to free ourselves. This is enough to show that we are still people who are controlled and bound by sins, and who haven’t gained the way of life and can’t inherit eternal life. The Lord, “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). These words say it so clearly: Sinners cannot . This is heaven’s edict. No one can break this. So, servants of sin like us are not qualified to enter into God’s kingdom.
The Reason Why We Have Not Gained Eternal Life
Maybe we are confused about this: Since the Lord Jesus is God Himself, the way of everlasting life, why have we as well as generations of believers in the Lord not gained the way of life which can allow people to be cleansed and changed although we read the Lord’s words and keep the Lord’s teachings? What is going on here? In fact, this has to do with the Lord Jesus’ work. The Lord Jesus came to do the work of redeeming mankind through crucifixion, and what He expressed was the way of repentance for mankind, just as He said, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). And this is according to the needs of mankind at that time. The Lord Jesus asked people to confess their sins and repent, practice patience, and have mercy on others. He did not express the way of life which allows people’s corrupt dispositions to be cleansed and changed, because the time has not come. So, although we have been pious believers in the Lord and have kept the Lord’s teachings for many years, everything we are practicing is within the scope of confession and repentance and is merely the truth concerning repentance, and we only have changes in outward behaviors but not in our life disposition. Therefore, what we have gained is the way of repentance, and we have not gained the truth as our life. This is the reason we have not obtained the way of life.
Next, let’s communicate about the differences between the way of repentance and the way of life to clarify our understanding of this issue.
The Lord Jesus preached the way of repentance, asking us to confess our sins and repent, not to commit sins, not to do evil, to deny ourselves, take up the cross, and follow the Lord, to love the Lord with all our heart, our soul, and our mind, to love others as ourselves, with humility, forbearance and patience, and to forgive others seventy times seven and so on. These are the ways for us to repent. If we want to enter the kingdom of heaven, we should confess our sins and repent before God. After we confess previous sins, such sins will be forgiven and we are willing to repent and be born again. This represents repentance. But what we can’t deny is that even if our sins are forgiven, our corrupt satanic dispositions remain deeply rooted within us, such as being arrogant and conceited, self-importance and self-righteousness, selfish and contemptible, and crooked and deceitful, etc. Overtaken by these corrupted dispositions, we struggle for reputation and interest against our co-workers, and hold a grudge against people who are better than ourselves, and when our interests are harmed, we are still able to tell lies. These manifestations are sufficient to prove that we are not people whose sins have been cleansed and that we have not gained the way of eternal life.
However, when we talk about the way of life, we’re not talking about simple confession of sins and repentance, we’re talking about the way of truth that gives us everlasting life, and all the truth for cleansing and saving us. The way of life can thoroughly resolve our sinful satanic nature, save us from Satan’s influence, and make the truth our lives, so that we can achieve compatibility with God and be gained by God. This is the way of life. People who gain the way of life as their lives are freed from sin and achieve dispositional change. They will never resist or betray God but can truly obey and worship God. Only people like this are qualified to enter the heavenly kingdom.
Therefore, there is an essential difference between the way of repentance and the way of life. The Lord preached the way of repentance, making us people confess and repent, and forgiving our sins, but our sinful natures remain unresolved and we still often sin and we are still filthy and corrupt people who belong to Satan. Rather, those who gain the way of life thoroughly escape sin, break away from the influence of Satan, never again sin to resist God or betray God, and attain true knowledge of God. Such people achieve dispositional change, can obey God, worship God, and love God. They are without impurities and corruption, become compatible with God, and become people who carry out God’s will. They will enjoy God’s blessings, are promised entry into the kingdom of heaven, and enjoy eternal life.
How Exactly to Obtain the Way of Life
Then how can we gain the way of life? The truth is, the way of life will be brought by the Lord Jesus when He returns. The Lord Jesus foretold many times that He would come again. The purpose of Hisis to bestow upon people the way of life and give them the eternal life. Just as the Lord Jesus said, “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 words tell us that God’s work of saving mankind is divided up into stages according to each era. It is not work that can be completed by just carrying out the one stage of redemption work. God’s work of redemption only forgave people’s sins, but the sinful satanic nature inside us still remains and we continue to sin and resist God. That is why the Lord Jesus prophesied that in the last days He would return to express the way of life, and carry out the work of judgment beginning with God’s house to resolve our sinful satanic nature, and thoroughly save us from our corruption, so that we can live out the reality of God’s words and gain the life. That is to say, God’s saving people and endowing them with life is to first rescue them from sins that are against the law so that they can gain the Lord’s redemption, and on this foundation, God will put the way of life into them to allow them to attain truth and life.
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And in Revelation 2:11, there’s the prophecy, “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 22:1 also says, “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” So, when the Lord returns in the last days, He will express the word of the Holy Spirit to all the churches, the living water of life which flows from God’s throne, to supply, water, lead God’s chosen people and guide them into all of the realities of the truth.
God’s words say, “Christ of the last days brings life, and brings the enduring and everlasting way of truth. This truth is the path through which man shall gain life, and the only path by which man shall know God and be approved by God. If you do not seek the way of life provided by Christ of the last days, then you shall never gain the approval of Jesus, and shall never be qualified to enter the gate of the kingdom of heaven….” Therefore, if we want to obtain the way of life and gain the truth and life, we must follow the footsteps of the Lamb and the pace of God’s work of the last days. Otherwise, we will never gain the way of eternal life.
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