Without Holiness, No One Will See the Lord
The sky was dull and the clouds were hanging low, the thunder blaring dimly out from a distance. A storm was striking soon. These days, people were all baked like the cracked land due to the dryness and fervor. At the moment, the cool wind accompanied the drizzle took away the dryness of these days, bringing coolness to people. It was the time for the rain to come. Heyu hurried to fetch the washing in, and then she gazed at the sky while waiting for the arrival of Tao Yun and Zhang Ruirui. Recently they were all busy sustaining the church they each led and hadn’t met for days. So Heyu invited them to her house to have a chat and have an understanding of the situations of the brothers and sisters.
Soon, the two sisters both came. After Heyu poured the tea, they began to talk about church matters pleasantly …
After a while, suddenly, Zhang Ruirui sighed, saying, “Last night, when watching TV, I saw there’re lots of floods and earthquakes happening in many places. Now the disasters are escalating, and the days of the Lord’s coming are indeed upon us. These several years, I’ve been leading the brothers and sisters to watch, pray, and have meetings. However, lots of brothers and sisters are still passive and weak, and even many believers don’t attend meetings. It is too dangerous in the long run. We are very likely to be abandoned by the Lord.”
Heyu nodded, saying, “That’s true! The Lord Jesus admonished us many times to watch and Revelation also says, ‘If therefore you shall not watch, I will come on you as a thief, and you shall not know what hour I will come on you’ (Revelation 3:3). The LordHe would come as a thief, and that if we didn’t watch, we shall not know. However, the brothers and sisters are so weak now, always living in sins. Even if the Lord comes, I’m afraid we may not know. Sister Tao, what do you think of the matter that the brothers and sisters are unwilling to attend meetings?”
Tao Yun took a drink of tea, saying with a smile, “The Lord had already said that on the days of His return, the faith and love of many believers will become cold, and that only the ones who can endure to the end will be saved. Now is the most crucial moment. However, many brothers and sisters are busy making money, unwilling to attend meetings, and have little time to read the Bible and pray. We indeed should lead them to watch and prepare to welcome the Lord’s return.”
Nodding to one another, they all felt their burden much heavier. At this time, something seemed to occur to Zhang Ruirui, and she asked right away, “Hey! Sister Tao, have you contacted your family recently after you were chased from your home by them? Are they still mad at you?”
Tao Yun paused and said, “Um, having contacted several times. Ah, my father is still bitter about my being arrested because of believing in God. Last time I went home, when my father saw me still going out to preach the gospel, he flew into a rage, reproaching me for only having Jesus in my heart and not caring about the family. And because I still believe in the Lord after having been imprisoned for three years, they chased me out and disowned me! Thank the Lord! The Lord said, ‘No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the’ (Luke 9:62). ‘The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force’ (Matthew 11:12). We will not receive the Lord’s promises if we don’t suffer. Now the prophecies of the Lord’s return have all been fulfilled. The Lord will soon come and us into the heavenly home. The suffering is just temporary. Isn’t it said in the Bible, ‘For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory’ (2 Corinthians 4:17)? At the thought of the blessings in the future, I believe no matter how much I suffer and how many tears I shed for the Lord, they will be worth it!” Then, a hopeful look appeared on her face.
Zhang Ruirui kept on nodding, saying, “Yes, we needn’t suffer anymore when the Lord returns and brings us to the heavenly kingdom.”
Heyu pondered for a while, and then said, “Um, It’s our blessings to suffer for the Lord. However, I’m thinking about this recently: Although we work hard and sacrifice something, we are still in the cycle of sinning and repentance. We still often tell lies and even when others affect our interests, we will have the thoughts of hating them. Moreover, among co-workers, we compare ourselves with each other and envy others. Confronting something untoward, we will complain against the Lord. We follow our own intentions when working …These expressions prove that actually we have no place for the Lord in our hearts and have no hearts of reverence for Him, and even more haven’t practiced many of His words. How could this be in accordance with the Lord’s will? The Lord is holy. In this kind of condition, is it possible for us to be raptured into the heavenly kingdom? I’m really not certain of this!”
As soon as her voice subsided, Zhang Ruirui frowned, saying, “Sister He, I don’t agree with you. These several years, we’ve been expending for the Lord, and working from dawn till dusk. Even if we do not get any credit, we are rewarded by hard work, and if we get no credit for our hard work, we’re rewarded with fatigue. Besides, the Lord has already absolved all of our sins. Even if we still sin, as long as we repent to the Lord, He won’t remember. We’ve been justified through our faith. As long as we continue forsaking everything else and laboring for the Lord, when the Lord returns, He will certainly raise us into the kingdom of heaven.”
Tao Yun brushed a strand of hair aside and said to Heyu with a puzzled eye, “Yes! The apostle Paul said, ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness’ (2 Thessalonians 4:7–8). Think about it, there are so many believers in the Lord, but how many of them can truly forsake their houses, money, families, and material enjoyment to preach gospel and suffer for the Lord? Those working hard are the people who are to get rewards from the Lord in the kingdom of heaven. Sister He, we should have faith. As long as we forsake everything, preach the gospel more and work hard for the Lord, we are certain to enter into the kingdom of heaven in the end.”
Heyu looked at Tao Yun, and said slowly, “But, the Lord also said, ‘Be you holy; for I am holy’ (1 Peter 1:16). The Lord requires us to be a holy person, for only such man can meet Him. Although we work hard and perform some good deeds, we still haven’t practiced many of the Lord’s words. The Lord Jesus requires us to love Him, love others as we love ourselves, love our enemies, be the light of the world and the salt of the earth, and follow the Lord’s way in everything. However, we fail to achieve most of them, instead we often sin. In what sense are we the holy people? Even so, we still aspire to be raptured into the kingdom of heaven. Isn’t that somewhat unrealistic?”
With a thoughtful look, Zhang Ruirui didn’t contradict Heyu anymore.
Tao Yun took her cup and tossed off the tea. Then she puckered up her lips and said, “Although we’re not perfect, yet the Lord is perfect. The Lord has forgiven all our sins, and we’ve been those who receive salvation by grace. The Lord will certainly raise us up into the kingdom of heaven. This is called relying on grace for absolution and relying on grace to enter the heavenly kingdom.”
Heyu said seriously, “We are all church co-workers, and ones who serve the Lord. We should speak to the facts. To judge whether we are qualified to enter into the heavenly kingdom, it should be based on the requirements of the Lord Jesus. We can’t only make good dreams of relying on grace for absolution and relying on grace to enter the heavenly kingdom. Think about these many years when we have believed in the Lord. Although we have done much work and suffered a lot through the wind and rain, we never focus on putting the Lord’s words into practice. We haven’t become holy up to now, and always sin and resist the Lord, not shaking off the fetters of sin. The brothers and sisters indulge in the secular world, covet the enjoyment of the flesh and pursue life’s pleasures. And they attend meetings as they please. These are hugely connected to it that we speak of letters and doctrines when working, not leading them to come before the Lord to worship God. Now the situation of the church is becoming like this. We should reflect on whether the path we walk is approved by the Lord. I still think when believing in the Lord, we should pursue to be holy. This is the Lord’s requirement for us. It’s not accurate to judge whether we could enter into the heavenly kingdom merely based on the outward hard work for the Lord. Back then, the Pharisees also worked hard, spent and sacrificed, and they even worked harder than us. But why, when the Lord came, did they still nail Him on the cross and commit a monstrous sin? Can it be that they were able to enter into the heavenly kingdom? Therefore, the outward hard work can’t decide our fates. 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. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity’ (Matthew 7:21–23). We should believe in the Lord according to His words. Only those who follow God’s will and become holy can enter into the kingdom of heaven. This is the only condition set by the Lord for entering the kingdom of heaven. It is true that no man will meet God without being sanctified. Certainly we should self-reflect on our present conditions …” After the words of Heyu, Zhang Ruirui nodded with a serious expression. Tao Yun was deep in thought as well.