FOUR THINGS TO BE DIFFERENTIATED
Here we have to consider again the four things mentioned in the Bible. They are the four things that must be distinguished one from the other, which we mentioned earlier. If a man wants to understand salvation, first, he has to differentiate between the genuine Christian and the false Christian. Second, he must differentiate between the discipline of the believers and eternal salvation. Eternal salvation is one thing, and God’s discipline of His children is another. It is one thing for a Christian to be chastised in this age. It is another thing for an unbeliever to perish in eternity. A Christian will not perish eternally, but he can be chastised. There are many verses that speak of chastisement for a Christian. One cannot apply these verses to salvation.
Third, there is a great difference between the kingdom and eternal life. In other words, there is a great difference between reward and gift. It is one thing for you to be saved. It is another thing for you to reign, to rule, and to share the glory with the Lord Jesus in the millennium. There are many places in the Bible that speak about a person being removed from the kingdom. Because many are not clear about the difference between the kingdom and eternal life, the reward and salvation, they apply the verses on the kingdom to the matter of salvation. Many think that to be removed from the kingdom means to perish. These, however, are two entirely different things. A Christian can lose his position in the kingdom, but a Christian cannot lose his position in salvation. Although a Christian can lose his position of reigning together with Christ, he cannot lose his position of being a child of God.
Fourth, not only does the Bible say that a Christian will suffer discipline today, and not only does it say that some Christians can lose the kingdom, but there are definite punishments for a Christian in the kingdom as well. The Bible says that many Christians will suffer discipline in this age. They will lose the reward in the coming age and will also suffer punishment. A Christian can lose his reward in the future. He can also be punished with definite, positive punishments. But one cannot mix the punishment in the millennium with eternal perdition. Eternal perdition is one thing. Chastisement in the kingdom is another. When a Christian is chastised, it does not mean that he will perish eternally. Salvation is eternal. Chastisement is only a discipline in the family. If some children cannot be disciplined well in this age, they will be disciplined in the coming age. Hence, there are four things here that must be distinguished one from the other. The four things, the false Christians, the chastisement in this age, the losing of the kingdom, and the punishment in the millennium, are different from eternal life and death.
Let us now consider the first group, the false Christians. Second Peter 2:1 says, "But there arose also false prophets among the people, as also among you there will be false teachers, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction." Some would ask if this verse indicates that a Christian can perish. The ones mentioned here are those that have been bought by the Lord. Some will say that this verse obviously says that a Christian can perish, because it says here that they have followed the heresies and have denied the Master who bought them, and their end is swift destruction.
(Gospel of God, The (2 volume set), Chapter 18, by Watchman Nee)