Being Baptized Means Gaining Salvation?
Hello Sister Yang,
Last week you bore witness for me regarding God’s work of judgment and cleansing of the last days. You quoted the Bible during your fellowshiping, and I was totally convinced by what you said. But there are still some things puzzling me. The Bible says, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). After we start to believe in the Lord and are baptized then we are newly-created people in the eyes of the Lord and are qualified forin the kingdom of heaven. So why is God’s work of judgment and cleansing in the last days necessary? I really don’t understand this issue. Please fellowship what you can with me.
Hello Sister Liu,
I’m very happy to have received your letter. You have asked a very crucial question that directly involves the important matter of our gainingand entering the kingdom of heaven. I will try and answer your question briefly according to my understanding, and may God guide us both!
First, we should know that starting to believe in the Lord and being baptized only means that we have accepted the salvation of theand are under His name. And “being saved” only indicates that our sins have been forgiven—in other words, we are not condemned or sentenced to death by law. After accepting the Lord Jesus’ salvation we can pray directly to Him, confess our sins and repent, and our sins will be pardoned. We can also enjoy a lot of grace, peace, and joy bestowed upon us by the Lord. Just as God said, “At the time Jesus’ work was the redemption of all mankind. The sins of all who believed in Him were forgiven; as long as you believed in Him, He would redeem you; if you believed in Him, you were no longer a sinner, you were relieved of your sins. This is what it meant to be saved, and to be justified by faith. Yet in those who believed, there remained that which was rebellious and opposed God, and which still had to be slowly removed. Salvation did not mean man had been completely gained by Jesus, but that man was no longer of sin, that he had been forgiven his sins: Provided you believed, you would never more be of sin.” God’s words make it very clear. As long as we believe in the Lord, He will pardon our sins, and thus we’ll be justified and saved by faith. But this doesn’t mean that we have thrown off sin and have been cleansed. Our default mode of living is to sin in the daytime and confess at night, and we have yet to wrest ourselves from the fetters of sinfulness. For example, as soon as we gain a bit of status we start to position ourselves high above and look down on people, and even begin to compete with and scheme against the brothers and sisters to gain wealth and reputation. In order to protect personal interests we are also able to often tell lies and deceive others. When trials occur to us, such as misfortunes and illnesses, we can’t help but misunderstand and complain to God, and even betray God. If those things within us that rebel against and resist God are not addressed, and we have not cast off our sinful nature, then how are we to enter God’s kingdom? 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). “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). From the Lord’s words we can see that God is holy and righteous and would never allow anyone tainted and corrupt to enter His kingdom. Only people who follow God’s will and have cast off their corrupt disposition can go to heaven, and this is determined by God’s righteous disposition.
God says, “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 words of God are very clear. Though we have accepted the Lord Jesus’ redemption and God does not remember our sins, we still have not cast off our sinful nature within us, and so we continually reveal our corrupt disposition, sin and confess. If we don’t solve our sinful nature, even if we could have our sins absolved a thousand times, ten thousand times, we would still belong to Satan, be opposed to God and be unable to enter God’s kingdom. From this we can see that our point of view that “Once we start to believe in the Lord and are baptized then we are reborn and saved, becoming newly-created people who are qualified for eternal life in the kingdom of heaven” was nothing but our own conception and imaginings. This is because the work of redemption done by the Lord Jesus only completed half of God’s work of salvation. Soof mankind does not end. In order to thoroughly save us mankind, God still needs to do a stage of judgment and cleansing work, thus allowing us to cast away our sinful nature and receive cleansing on the basis of knowing sins and confessing sins. At that time, God’s work of salvation will be finished. As you can see, we are only saved through our faith in the Lord, so we need to accept God’s work of judgment of the last days. It is because only in this way can we cast away corruption and receive cleansing, and this work is a crucial work for us to gain salvation and enter the kingdom of heaven.
There are many places in the Bible that prophesy that in the last days, God will do the work of judgment. For example, “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). “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). Besides, the Lord Jesus also said, “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 16:13). From all this we can know that in the last days God will express all truths to do a stage of judgment and cleansing work. He will use the judgment and chastisement of His words to help us know the fact of our corruption by Satan, and see clearly our satanic nature and the true source of our sinning and resistance to God. We can thereby know God’s righteous disposition. Then we will begin to hate evil and betray Satan, and rely on God to gradually get rid of our corrupt dispositions. When we gain the truth as our life, then we won’t be slaves to our corrupt dispositions. At that time, we will be God’s newly-created people, people who are reborn after gaining the truth, who will enjoy their share of God’s bounty in the kingdom of heaven.
Sister Liu, I hope the above fellowshiping is of use to you. If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
» Further reading about Sermons About Baptism: