By Zeng Xin
Whenever the difference between being saved and attaining full salvation is mentioned, there are perhaps some brothers and sisters who will say, “Is there any difference between being saved and attaining full salvation? Doesn’t being saved mean attaining full salvation? We have been saved through our faith in the Lord Jesus, so have we not attained full salvation? When the Lord comes, we will immediately be raptured up into heaven.” But are things really this simple? It would be well for us to seek and discuss this matter.
1. What Does It Mean to Be Saved? Are We Without Sin After We Have Been Saved?
First, let’s read a passage of God’s words: “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.” From God’s words, we can see that we are saved through our belief in the Lord because the Lord Jesus performed the work of redemption. The Lord gave Himself up as a sin offering and was nailed to the cross, and He thereby redeemed us from sin. Therefore, by believing in the Lord, we are no longer sinners and are no longer bound by the law. Now when we sin, we are able to come directly before God to pray to Him, and we can ask the Lord to forgive us. This is what it means to be saved.
So are we then without sin after we have been saved? We can see from our own experiences that, although we may toil and work hard, and we may do some external good deeds, we are still capable of frequently sinning, and we have not cast off the bonds of sin. Our life dispositions are the same as they’ve ever been, and the moment we encounter something at odds with our own notions or something that infringes upon our own interests, we reveal many corrupt dispositions and, as a result, we rebel against God and resist God. For example, within the church, whenever someone else gives a sermon that shows them to be more gifted than us, we then feel jealous of them or we try to undercut them in secret; when someone else infringes upon our interests, we hate them and, in serious cases, we can become angry and retaliate against them; whenever we abandon something or expend ourselves a little in our work for the Lord, we flaunt our accomplishments and lay conditions on God, or else we disdain and disparage other people; whenever we have the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit in our work and sermons and we reap results, we become very pleased with ourselves and we usurp God’s glory; after we have suffered and paid a price and we get nothing in return and our personal interests go unsatisfied, we blame God and misunderstand Him, believing that God is not protecting us or blessing us; when we do something that violates God’s commandments, we are afraid that others will find out, and we tell lies to deceive others and to deceive God; when we have believed in God for many years and we think that God has not bestowed sufficient grace on us, we follow the ways of the world and we betray God, and so on. Such behaviors and expressions are enough to prove that we still live in sin and we live under Satan’s power; they prove that our nature is still a satanic nature, that our thoughts and views pertain to the world, and that we have the capability to arbitrarily betray God and return to our worldly lives because of any situation that does not accord with our own ideas.
2. What Does It Mean to Attain Full Salvation? What Behaviors Do Those Who Attain Full Salvation Possess?
First, let’s read a passage of God’s words: “When people cast off the filthy, corrupt things of Satan, they gain God’s salvation. But if they still do not divest themselves of filth and corruption, then they are still living under the domain of Satan. People’s conniving, deceitfulness, and crookedness are all things of Satan. Saving you is allowing you to escape from these things. God’s work cannot be wrong; it is all in order to save people from darkness. … When you live under Satan’s domain you are incapable of manifesting God, you are something filthy, and cannot receive God’s inheritance. Once you have been cleansed and made perfect, you will be holy, you will be a proper person, and you will be blessed by God and delightful to God.”
From God’s words, we can see that attaining full salvation means to cast off sin and be purified. That is to say, those who attain full salvation do not just do some external good deeds, but their arrogant, selfish, deceitful and wicked inner nature has changed, and they are able to live by God’s words, completely submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements and, even when faced with the threat of imminent death, they are still able to fear God and shun evil. They would rather die than return to live under Satan’s power, and they can no longer rebel against or resist God. Only people like this are those who have been completely gained by God. Those who attain God’s full salvation are those who understand the truth, who know God and who can obey God; those who attain full salvation are those who can stand witness amidst all manner of Satan’s temptations, who can live by the truth, and who fear God and shun evil; those who attain full salvation are those who are considerate to God’s will, who speak honestly and straightforwardly, who are kindhearted, who can love God and satisfy God, who take God’s words as rules for their actions and conduct, who can live out a genuine human likeness, and who can glorify God and manifest Him in everything they do.
3. The Difference Between Being Saved and Attaining Full Salvation
We have just discussed what it means to be saved and whether or not we are without sin after we are saved, and we also discussed what it means to attain full salvation, and what behaviors are expressed by those who attain full salvation. I trust that everyone will have some discernment concerning the difference between being saved and attaining full salvation. Being saved means that we are no longer condemned by the law, that we are no longer sinners, that we have been redeemed by God, that we are qualified to come before God but that, although we may do some external good deeds, our sinful nature remains deeply rooted within us. Attaining full salvation, on the other hand, means that our life dispositions have changed, that we are able to put the truth into practice, that we no longer commit any sin, that we are entirely able to heed God’s words and obey God, that we can live out the reality of God’s words, and that we are completely free of the influence of Satan and have become free people.
In contrast, our current situation as brothers and sisters in the Lord is such that we still live within various kinds of corrupt dispositions, and we live lives whereby we sin in the daytime and confess our sins at night. We are completely incapable of withstanding the seductions and temptations of Satan, and we are still capable of rebelling against God, resisting God, blaming God and misunderstanding God. The lives we live out cannot glorify God or manifest Him at all, so how could we possibly be said to have attained full salvation? God says, “Be you holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). “When you live under Satan’s domain you are incapable of manifesting God, you are something filthy, and cannot receive God’s inheritance. Once you have been cleansed and made perfect, you will be holy, you will be a proper person, and you will be blessed by God and delightful to God.” The essence of God is holy and righteous. God hates all the different kinds of sin within us and loathes all the different kinds of filth within us; such filthy and corrupt people as us do not deserve to enter God’s kingdom. In our belief in the Lord, only by utterly casting away all these filthy and corrupt things and becoming purified can we earn God’s praise and be led by Him into a beautiful destination. Therefore, being saved does not mean that we have attained full salvation, and when the Lord returns, we will not be raptured immediately up into heaven.
4. Searching for the Path to Attain Full Salvation
So where is the path to attaining full salvation? In fact, the Lord Jesus told us long ago about the path to attaining full salvation. Let’s look at several Bible verses, “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). “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:17). “It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely” (Revelation 21:6). “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 12:48). The Lord has shown us the way to attain full salvation and enter into the heavenly kingdom. That is, now in the last days, the Lord Jesus will return for the second time to express all truths, and to each and every person who thirsts and seeks for the appearance of God, He will give freely of the fountain of the water of life, thus enabling us to obtain the living water of a new life from God and for our spiritual lives to obtain provision. Afterward, through experiencing the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, our corrupt dispositions will be cleansed, we will cast off the bonds of sin, we will rid ourselves of all satanic dark influences, and we will live by God’s words. When God’s trials come upon us, we will be able to stand firm in our testimony and become people who obey God, glorify God and who manifest God in all that we do. In this way, we will genuinely attain full salvation and will be qualified to enter into the kingdom of God.
Brothers and sisters, may the Lord enlighten us, so that we may clearly see the difference between being saved and attaining full salvation, and so that we absolutely do not become mired in our misconceptions and imaginings and thereby delay the great event of our entry into the heavenly kingdom. We must be as the wise virgins and seek the truth with an open mind, for only then will we be able to welcome the appearance of the bridegroom as soon as may be, attend the wedding feast of the Lamb and be watered by the water of life. Once we have experienced God’s work of judgment and chastisement in the last days, cast off all our corrupt dispositions and we are living out the reality of God’s words, we will then finally attain full salvation and enter into the heavenly kingdom.
All glory be to God, Amen!
» Further reading about Sermons on Salvation: