135. Arrogance and Conceit Has Become a Stumbling Block to My Seeking the Truth

Zhang Xiaobo

Qing’an County, Heilongjiang Province

I was formerly a dedicated team co-worker of the Wilderness Church in Qing’an County, Heilongjiang Province. In 1994, I believed in the Lord through grace. Inspired by the Lord’s love, I pursued very hard, and several months later, I began to preach. Only one year later, I began to formally lead the brothers’ meeting and the youth meeting. From then on, I studied the Bible even harder, and I gave up my prosperous business to dedicate and expend myself for the Lord with all my heart and strength. As time went by, all these became my capital for pride. I became more and more arrogant and self-contained, smugly believing that I was the one with whom God is most pleased.

At the end of 1996, just when I wanted to make an all-out effort to work for the Lord, I saw that the unhealthy tendencies in our church became more and more serious: The brothers and sisters contended with each other overtly and covertly for position and money all day long; the lectern had become an emplacement; the co-worker meeting had turned into an envy meeting; and I was also drawn into that whirlpool in spite of myself. I thought to myself, “If this continues, won’t I be assimilated by this evil tendency?” Because of that, I left the church and immersed myself in studying the Bible at home. After that, under my influence, over twenty area co-workers and dedicated co-workers left the church one after the other.

In the fall of 1997, I joined the Lord’s Recovery. But not long afterward, I saw the same situation in the Lord’s Recovery. To avoid being involved in strife, I refused to accept any position it offered to me. Because I was attracted by the Recovery of the Bible and the life-studies written by Brother Lee, I cared about nothing but exerting my utmost strength to read and equip myself. I thought to myself, “As long as I make efforts, I will be commended by the Lord all the same.”

One day at the end of 1999, a brother of the Lord’s Recovery who had accepted God’s new work of the last days suddenly came to visit me. I treated him with scorn and thought to myself, “Only you can be deceived by ‘Eastern Lightning.’ Today you want to deceive me into your evil way just by your little knowledge of the Bible—no way! If you want to talk, just talk. It doesn’t matter how many hours you talk. When you have talked enough, all I have to do is to refute you in a few words.” At that time, the brother said to me, “The Lord has returned and has done the work of reaping, judging, and reuniting all into one. God has personally expressed the word to purify us.” Hearing that, I thought, “None of your eloquence, quality, contribution, and expending can compare with mine. Is it possible for God to choose you and let you know first when he comes?” So, I said to him with a smile, “It’s impossible. You have been deceived. If God had truly come, how could I not know it? If that were the case, God would be too unfair, and I would go to get even with Jesus.”

A few days later, the brother came again and brought along two sisters to fellowship with me. At that time, I just came back from somewhere outside the county and felt very tired. Although I felt an aversion to their coming in my heart, I feared that they would perceive I had no love. So, I forced a smile and fellowshipped with them. The sister took out a Bible, and I also took out the Recovery of the Bible as well as the Chinese Union Version Bible. I thought to myself, “Such a senior co-worker as I am, I cannot be defeated by you two ordinary sisters.” I said to them, “Since you say God has come, find the evidence for me.” The sister found several verses, but before she made a few explanations, I stopped her and said: “What you have fellowshipped doesn’t conform to the Bible. The Lord cannot have come. If he had come, how could I not know it?” Later, no matter what they said, I just turned a deaf ear to it. So they had no choice but to leave.

In the spring of 2000, those who preached God’s work of the last days came to my home many times and begged me to read their book and make an investigation, but they were all “declined” by me one by one. My attitude toward them had always been “staying away from them in heart and yet greeting them with a smiling face.” In that way, not only had I successfully maintained my presence as a senior co-worker and given a good impression of being a “devout saint,” but I had also achieved the purpose of disgracing them by “killing them with a soft knife.” I often thought to myself, “You just come. It will be of no use no matter how many people come. You are no match for me at all in fellowshipping about the Bible. You’d better all come to me lest you go to deceive others.” However, the brothers and sisters who preached the last gospel didn’t give me up because of my stubbornness, but instead, they still came to persuade me again and again. I felt puzzled: “Where does such great enthusiasm of theirs come from? They clearly know that I look down upon them and have been treating them in an affected and perfunctory manner, but they still treat me with smiles and persuade me time and time again.” Out of curiosity, I read that book. But after reading no more than a few pages, I returned it to them. They were so distressed and grieved when I returned the book. Seeing that, I felt very perplexed and thought to myself, “How could they have such great love?”

In June 2000, one of my former co-workers of the Wilderness Church accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days. That brother was the one I regarded fairly highly, and he had a solid foundation of belief in God. I felt very surprised at his accepting “Eastern Lightning.” He came to my home almost every day. Every time he came, he talked something about God’s work of the last days with me. And he also helped me with my works when I was busy. Gradually, I began to miss him when he didn’t come, and sometimes I was even attracted by his fellowship. Once, he said to me, “God’s work is ever new and never old. God always does new things and speaks new words and doesn’t stick to his former work, so that people can have more and more knowledge of him and be led into a higher and more beautiful state. The work Jehovah did in the Age of the Law was to issue the laws to convict people of their sins. The work Jesus did in the Age of the Grace was that he was crucified and bore man’s sins. His purpose was to make people confess and repent of their sins and save them from being under the law. But the people in the Age of the Grace are always living in a condition of committing sins in the day and confessing them at night. It is only that man is called righteous through his faith in Jesus, but he has not yet become righteous and his sinful nature is still in him. The Scripture says, ‘…and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.’ Brother, as far as our present behavior is concerned, can we be truly after God’s heart? Although we can restrict some of our outward behavior, our sinful nature is still hidden in us. So, it is necessary for God to do a newer work to completely remove our sinful nature. This has also fulfilled Hebrews 9:28: ‘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.’ Almighty God says, ‘You only know that Jesus will descend in the end time, but how will he descend? Such a sinner as you who has just been redeemed, could you be after God’s heart without being transformed or perfected by God? It is true that Jesus has saved you, who are an old man now. You are not of sin, and this is because of God’s salvation, but it does not prove that you have no sin or filthiness. You have not been transformed, so how could you be holy? You are still filled with filthiness within, selfish and contemptible, and yet you want to descend with Jesus. Could there be such a good thing? You lack a process in your believing in God. You have only been redeemed but have not been transformed. To be after God’s heart, you need God to personally work to transform and purify you. Otherwise, you, who have only been redeemed, cannot possibly be holy. Then you will not be qualified to enjoy the good blessings with God, because you miss one stage in God’s work of managing man, that is, the crucial stage of transforming and perfecting man. So, you, a sinner who has just been redeemed, cannot directly inherit God’s inheritance.’”

God’s words and the brother’s fellowship touched me deeply. In retrospect, although I had offered and expended a lot during those many years, I really couldn’t overcome many things in my heart, and I was only outwardly humble. Also, during these two years, so many of them came to my home again and again, and faced with my sarcasm, they still treated me with sincerity, never got angry with me, and advised me with earnest words. If it had not been for the work of the Holy Spirit, who could have had such perseverance, enduring patience, and love? “Has God really come? Are the words in that book really spoken by God? But how come I don’t know it if God has come? Is it because I haven’t done enough?” Thinking of that, I frankly told the brother what was in my mind, “Brother, to be frank, I always think that I am at the forefront in everything, whether in pursuit, in contribution, or in expending. If the Lord has really come as you have said, how come I don’t know it? How come I don’t even have any moving or revelation?” Hearing my words, the brother said patiently, “Brother, it’s very normal that you have such a thought, because every believer in God hopes that he is the one with whom God is most pleased and hopes that he can see God’s appearing first. However, God is the Creator. He does things according to his own management plan. And everything God does is very significant! For example, when Jesus was incarnated and born in a manger in Bethlehem, the ones God revealed were those ordinary people like the shepherds, the Magi, and Simeon. In people’s eyes, those chief priests in the temple left their families, gave up their careers, and served God in the temple all the year round, and they had done so for generations. Only they were qualified to enter the Most Holy Place to see Jehovah, and they were also the highest leaders among the Jews. Besides, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law studied the Bible all day long, strictly abided by the law, and were the famous people in the Jewish family at that time. However, the Lord’s birth was not revealed to them. When the Lord Jesus began to do the work, the disciples who followed him like Peter, James, and John were all fishermen. Most of the believers in him were poor and common people, women whom others despised, and so on. Couldn’t God come without revealing it to the chief priests and the Pharisees? Was Jesus not God because he did things not according to the notions of the chief priests and the Pharisees? Was God unrighteous because the chief priests and the Pharisees didn’t receive the revelation from him? Absolutely not! Jesus also entered the temple many times to preach to them and give them opportunities, yet they had been hindered by their own positions, imaginations (the Lord must be tall, big, and handsome, he must be born in the palace or in a noble family, and so on), and notions (if Jesus was God, he shouldn’t break the Sabbath or eat with sinners, and so on), so they rejected God’s salvation time and time again. However, Nicodemus broke through the hindrance of his notions and humbled himself and sought, so he received the salvation and left behind a fine story of ‘a talk on being born again’ in history. From this we also see God’s wonder and wisdom. Through the work contrary to man’s notions, he revealed the true believers and the false ones. The true believers could drop themselves and humble themselves to seek because they knew that God’s deeds are unfathomable to any man. The false ones were arrogant and self-conceited and did not pursue the truth. Even if what others said was right, they were unwilling to seek but only waited passively. Such people had forgotten that ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ (James 4:6). Let’s look at the apostle Paul. He was faultless in keeping the law. But when Jesus did his work, he persecuted and arrested the Lord’s disciples and didn’t turn back until he received the light on his way to Damascus. Didn’t the Lord come and do his work all the same when he didn’t enlighten Paul or reveal it to him at first? Thus we can see that when believing in God, we should seek to keep up with God’s footsteps and shouldn’t passively wait for the revelation from God. God’s work is often preached through men. For example, Philip preached Jesus to Nathanael. Although Nathanael had notions, he was willing to drop them and seek. So, he heard the Lord’s words and believed in the Lord Jesus. Today, God has really come to the world. God uses me, a corrupt man, to tell you this great good news. Will you turn back to God like Nathanael?” Hearing his words, I felt that my face was hot with shame. I deeply felt that my thoughts were so ignorant and pitiable. I silently accepted the book of God’s word and read it. God’s word says, “Now, how much do you know about what I have said and done? Do not think that you are a born talent, a bit lower than the sky but far more higher than the earth. You are not smarter than others. Or, you are even more lovably foolish than any sensible man on the earth, for you think too highly of yourself and never feel inferior, seeming as if you can see clearly whatever I do. In fact, you are in no way a sensible man, because you do not at all know what I will do and even less know what I am doing. So, I say that you cannot even compare with an old farmer who is utterly ignorant about human life but does farming by relying on the blessings of Heaven.” “Still more people believe that no matter which stage of new work God does, there have to be prophetic bases for it, and when he does each stage of new work, he must give a revelation to all ‘those who genuinely follow him,’ otherwise, it is not God’s work. It is already difficult for people to know God, and in addition, they have an absurd heart and a self-important and self-conceited disobedient nature, so it is more difficult for them to accept God’s new work. People do not investigate God’s new work carefully nor receive it with a humble heart, but take a despising attitude toward it and wait for God’s revelation and God’s guidance. Aren’t all these the manifestations of their disobeying and resisting God? How could such people receive God’s approval?” “… They do not believe at all that these nobodies in the dust and dunghill are God’s chosen people. They think that if these people were the objects of God’s salvation, then heaven and earth would be upside down, and people would all laugh their teeth off.” God’s words, like a sharp two-edged sword, pierced me to the heart and exposed my ugliness completely to the light. I had thought that I had a genuine faith, did good deeds, and was faithful to the Lord. But under the exposing of God’s word, I realized that I was precisely a Pharisee of the present age and was so arrogant that I had lost my sense. I drew conclusions about God’s work with the little Bible knowledge I had and yet thought that I deserved to see God first according to what I had done. I had never thought that I was exactly the poor, pitiable, and blind person. A farmer even knew to reply on the blessings of Heaven, but I didn’t have a seeking heart at all. I was so arrogant and self-conceited. I also belittled and disgraced the brothers and sisters who preached the last gospel. I was really devoid of humanity. “O Almighty God! How wide and long and high and deep your love is! I, an arrogant person, was supercilious and had no place for you in my heart, but you still spared and saved me and brought me before you. O God! I’m grateful from the bottom of my heart for your salvation. I’m willing to consecrate my whole being to you so as to repay your love for me….”

After I accepted this stage of God’s work, I first helped twenty dedicated co-workers who had come out of the church of the Wilderness Church come back to Almighty God’s family. Then I joined the team of preaching God’s last gospel in order to repay God who loves man as his own flesh and blood by my actual actions. Dear brothers and sisters, facing Jesus’ second coming, we should all have a humble and seeking heart. As long as we drop ourselves, God will surely appear to us. God is almighty but he is also practical. God once preached the gospel to Nathanael through Philip and spread the gospel to the nations outside Judea through Paul. Today, God also uses more brothers and sisters to preach the great good news of his coming again to everyone who is waiting for him with a sincere heart. Dear brothers and sisters, when someone tells you this great good news, never be arrogant and self-right and indifferent as I was, because God’s work never waits for anyone who cannot keep up with his footsteps. If you miss such a good opportunity, you will be heartbroken with regret.

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