One evening, Brother Gao was rushing along, gripping the Bible and hurrying to the home of Brother Gui …
When he got there, the two of them sat down on the couch.
Brother Gao opened the Bible and said, “Brother Gui, I’ve come across a problem in my reading of the Bible and I don’t know how to solve it. I feel like this problem is key to us obtainingthrough our faith in the Lord, so I hurried over to seek the answer with you.”
Brother Gui smiled and said, “OK. Tell me all about it.”
Brother Gao then said, “We all know that the Bible is the cannon of Christianity and that all Christians must read it. Whether we are attending gatherings, performing our spiritual devotions, preachingor giving sermons, we always have to adhere to the Bible. Therefore, we could say that the Bible is a part of our life that we could not be without. God’s previous work as well as the testimonies of many people are recorded in the Bible. We firmly believe that the Bible contains life within it, and as long as we persevere in reading the Bible then we can obtain eternal life. But when I was studying the Bible this evening, I saw that the said: ‘Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me. And you will not come to Me, that you might have life’ (John 5: 39–40). This really confused me, for seeing as the Bible contains the words of God and the testimonies of man, then by reading the Bible we should be able to obtain eternal life. Why then did the Lord Jesus say that eternal life is not within the Bible? How are we to understand these words? I don’t really understand this very clearly, so I was wondering what your understanding of it is.”
Brother Gui said, “Brother Gao, this issue you raise is key indeed! Some other co-workers and I were also confused by this issue recently. Afterward, when we went to attend a gathering out of town, we sought the answer together with several brothers and sisters until finally we understood this issue.”
Brother Gao said happily, “Really? Thank the Lord! Hurry and fellowship with me about it!”
Brother Gui said, “Fine! In fact, if we want to understand this issue, we first have to understand the inside story to the works God performed in the Age of Law and the Age of Grace that are recorded in the Bible, as well as the results achieved by these works, and then we will understand why the Lord Jesus said such a thing. First of all, in the Age of Law recorded in the Old Testament, the words Jehovah God spoke were mainly to proclaim the law and His commandments and to lead the Israelites in their lives on earth. The results He achieved were that He taught man how to live normally, to know how to make offerings and praise God and to know what sin was, and so on. But these were only simple truths, and they did not come close to enabling people to gain life, much less obtain eternal life. The New Testament records the words and work of the Lord Jesus, primarily being His work to redeem mankind, giving man the way of repentance, telling man that the heavenly kingdom was near and that everyone had to repent. The results He achieved were that He enabled people to confess and repent, thereby having their sins forgiven, and people became able to perform some external good deeds, such as not stealing or robbing, not fighting with others or verbally abusing others and not drinking alcohol. Some people even became able to work with great zeal, expend themselves for the Lord and give everything up to follow the Lord and to preach His gospel, and so on.
“Therefore, by reading the Bible, we come to know that all things in heaven and on earth were created by God, that God proclaimed His law and commandments in the Age of Law, mankind came to know how to live on earth according to God’s requirements, and we saw that God’s disposition was vivid and real, and that God could curse and punish people as well as show us mercy. We also came to know that we should confess and repent our sins to God, that we should forgive others, love our enemies and be the salt and the light. We should bear our cross and spread the gospel and see that the Lord Jesus loved His neighbor as Himself and that He bestowed endless mercy and lovingkindness on man, and see that only by accepting the Lord’scan we enjoy God’s abundant grace and blessing. Therefore, all the words and works of God from the Age of Law and Age of Grace that are recorded in the Bible were based on the level of mankind’s corruption and on our needs at that time. The words of Jehovah God in the Age of Law were spoken to enable us to live normal lives on earth, and the words spoken by the Lord Jesus in the Age of Grace can only be called the way that enabled man to repent, and not the way of eternal life.
“So what is the way of eternal life exactly? The way of eternal life is the way that can enable us to no longer be subject to the bonds and constraints of sin, that can enable our life dispositions to change and it is the way of truth that allows us to live forever. More specifically, it can save us from sin, enable us to attain the truth as our lives and thoroughly cast off the influence of Satan, enable us to truly know God, obey God and worship God, and no longer commit sin and resist or betray God—only by achieving these results can we find the way of eternal life. But when we reflect on ourselves, we see that, although we may be well-versed in the Bible and we may perform some external good deeds, our sinful nature remains deeply rooted within us and we are still capable of committing sin involuntarily. For example, we are still capable of becoming arrogant and self-conceited and we can be incapable of getting along peacefully with our relatives, friends, and brothers and sisters in the church, so much so that we can look down on others, belittle others, exclude others, and judge others. When we encounter issues which relate to money or which touch upon our own personal interests, we are capable of scheming against each other and engaging in deception. As we serve God, we are capable of bearing testimony to ourselves and exalting ourselves to make others look up to us and idolize us. When we achieve status, we are capable of entrapping and controlling others, splitting into cliques in the church and establishing our own independent fiefdoms. When disasters happen, whether man-made or natural, we can often blame God and misunderstand Him, so much so that we even betray Him. These are just a few examples. It is therefore evident that the works God performed in the Age of Law and the Age of Grace achieved the result of enabling people to be aware of their sins and that they could repent and confess their sins, but the work of purifying and changing our life dispositions was not yet done. 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). ‘You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy’ (Leviticus 11:45). That we are now capable of frequently committing sins and that our corrupt dispositions have not been purified makes us tantamount to the slaves of sin; we have not yet found the way of eternal life and are unworthy to meet God.”
After listening to Brother Gui’s fellowship, Brother Gao said thoughtfully, “Brother Gui, you really do fellowship truly. The work Jehovah God performed in the Age of Law was that of proclaiming the law and commandments, leading the life of man and teaching them how to worship God. In the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus redeemed us and gave us the way of repentance. After we have faith in the Lord, although our sins are forgiven, our sinful nature remains deeply rooted and we are still capable of involuntarily committing sin, losing our temper and telling lies from time to time, and rebelling against God—we still haven’t been purified. Brother Gui, that being the case, if we only accept the works of the Age of Law and the Age of Grace, would that then mean that we cannot cast off sin and cannot obtain eternal life? Have I understood this correctly?”
Brother Gui said, “You’re absolutely right.”
Brother Gao went on. “Then, seeing as we cannot obtain eternal life from reading the Bible, how can we obtain eternal life?”
Brother Gui removed his glasses and wiped them. After some deep thought, he said, “Through fellowshiping with everyone at that gathering I attended, I finally understood that mankind is only subject to death because we have departed from God, because we don’t take God’s words as our lives, and because we live in sin. So long as we can resolve this problem of sin and allow the truth to become our lives, then God will bless us so that we never die, and He will bless us with eternal life. Therefore, those who find the way of eternal life are no longer controlled by the satanic corrupt dispositions of arrogance, deceit, selfishness and wickedness and, after they take the truth as their life, they never again commit sin and resist God, and they become compatible with. Only God possesses the way of eternal life and only God can bestow it upon us. So exactly when will God bestow the way of eternal life upon us? We all agreed that it will be in the last days, and the Bible supports this belief, as the Lord Jesus has prophesied: ‘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). Hebrews 9:28 states: ‘So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin to salvation.’ It is also prophesied seven times in Revelation chapters 2 and 3: ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ It also says that the fruit of the tree of life which is in the paradise of God and the hidden manna shall be given to man. It can therefore be seen that, when the Lord returns in the last days, He will go beyond the Bible and express all the truths that will enable us to obtain eternal life. When we accept the truth expressed by Christ of the last days, when our life dispositions have changed, when our sins are cleansed away and we take the truth as our life, then we will obtain the way of eternal life, and only then will we be qualified to be raptured up into the heavenly kingdom.”
Brother Gui drank a sip of tea and continued, saying, “I saw a passage of God’s words on a gospel website that said: ‘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, for you are both a puppet and prisoner of history. Those who are controlled by regulations, by letters, and shackled by history will never be able to gain life, and will never be able to gain the perpetual way of life’ (‘Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life’). The way of eternal life hails from Christ of the last days and not from the Bible. The Bible only records God’s two previous stages of work and it is just a testimony to God; it does not represent God’s authority, God’s power, and God’s everlasting life. Only Christ is the Lord of the Bible and the source of all life. Just as the Lord Jesus said: ‘Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me. And you will not come to Me, that you might have life’ (John 5: 39–40). If we just cling to the Bible and do not seek or investigate the work of the returned Lord, then we will never be able to welcome the appearance of the Lord and it will become impossible for us to obtain eternal life. Understanding these things is crucial to obtaining eternal life and getting into heaven through our faith in the Lord.”
Brother Gao’s face lit up with joy and he said excitedly, “Thank the Lord for His enlightenment and guidance! At last I understand that the Bible is just a testimony to God and that it does not contain eternal life. Only Christ of the last days is in possession of the way of eternal life, and only after we have gained the truth expressed by Christ of the last days and our corrupt dispositions have been purified can we obtain eternal life and enter the heavenly kingdom. That’s right isn’t it, Brother Gui?”
And Brother Gui said, “That’s right! We must accept the work of Christ of the last days, and only then will we have the opportunity to obtain the way of eternal life. Thank the Lord!”
Brother Gao said, “Thank the Lord!”
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