48. Fame, Position, and Money Smothered My Conscience
Fushun City, Liaoning Province
In the winter of 1993, my mother died. This misfortune deprived me of the opportunity to continue my education. Lost and sad, I went to join a Christian meeting near my campus and became a believer in Jesus. There, I tasted the care and love I had never tasted before and found the direction of my life. So, I began to read the Bible and attend meetings in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Due to my zealous pursuit, I was soon selected as a leader and later became a full-time paid worker. From then on, I began to run around preaching the gospel and shepherding and sustaining the churches along with several senior workers. And we joined in union with all the other Seventh-day Adventist churches in China. And I became a co-worker in the Union of the Seventh-day Adventists who was in charge of the work in the three northeast provinces. Having gained fame, position, and money, I was filled with a sense of achievement, and I resolved to consecrate myself to the Lord and was ready to spread my wings on the spiritual path.
On the New Year’s Day of 2001, I went to Liaoyang City to attend a revival meeting. A brother gave the message, and I was a listener. That made me very uncomfortable, because over those years, I had been the one who gave the message wherever I went and the focus of attention. But that time I was a listener, so I really felt bad about it. Hence, I went out of the meeting every twenty minutes and went in ten minutes later, for several times. When I listened to the brother, I cast a disdainful glance at him from time to time, but every time I saw that he was gentle and kind as if he did not at all notice my disdain for him and was fellowshipping with patience. Although I walked in and out and only heard parts of his fellowship, I could tell his fellowship was very practical and scriptural. He fellowshipped about the formation of the Bible and the differences between prophecies and their fulfillment. He also fellowshipped about such things as these: That God’s work is beyond man’s imagination; that man’s knowledge of God can only progress with God’s work. I had never heard such things, and his message was the deepest of all those I had heard in so many co-worker meetings and revival meetings that I had ever attended. For that reason, I somewhat dropped my “airs” and quieted my heart to listen to him. He said, “God is an ever-new and never-old God, and he does not repeat his work. His work always progresses forward. Once his new work starts, his old work ends. In the Old Testament, Jehovah issued the law through Moses, led people to live, and taught them how to worship God. When Jesus came to do the work, the work of the Holy Spirit changed. Those who kept up with the pace of God’s working and came out of the law to accept the redemptive work of Jesus received the working of the Holy Spirit, received Jesus’ salvation, and had God’s care and keeping. Those who stubbornly kept the law and went on offering sacrifices in the temple no longer had the working of the Holy Spirit and lost God’s care and keeping. And the temple became a ‘den of robbers’ where people sold cattle, sheep, and doves and exchanged money. Now the end time has come. Churches everywhere become desolate; people’s love grows cold; they all become passive and weak and fall into a state of committing and confessing sins repeatedly, and they receive no discipline even when they live in sins. …”
Hearing that, I felt the brother’s preaching so good and so practical. With a few words, he pointed out the general situation of the churches in the end time, and those words made me unconsciously lose myself in thought. “Yes, this is the present condition of our churches. In recent years, we have devoted ourselves to the reform of our churches, earnestly practicing what we preached. We have done our best to visit, help, and sustain the rural churches, and organized co-worker meetings, revival meetings, and Bible study classes. We have even invited some teachers from the south to run training courses, and found some experienced persons from the north to help us with shepherding our churches. However, the condition of the churches has not improved but worsened further. When we had meetings on the Sabbath day, many believers slept in the meetings, and the preachers preached about nothing but those basic truths and the Ellen G. White’s writing over and over again. When we prayed for a demon-possessed person in the name of Jesus, we could not drive out the demons no matter how hard we tried, and he even smashed some belongings of the church in the meeting. The preachers raised envy and strife among themselves, fought for their pay, sought for fleshly enjoyment, and picked and chose meeting places to preach in. We had hoped that all other sects and denominations would be integrated into our Seventh-day Adventist Church. However, not only had other denominations not turned to ours, but on the contrary, our Seventh-day Adventist Church had been divided into several groups, each with its own turf and its own administration. These things that happened in our churches made me disheartened, and the resolution I had made at first to consecrate myself to the Lord disappeared without a trace. So, I got married in the fall of 1997. From then on, I became even weaker, unable to rise again. It was only for my monthly salary of 600 yuan that I dragged myself to preach perfunctorily, but I could do nothing about the desolation of the churches nor find the cause of it. Now, seeing the state and mental outlook of this brother before me and listening to his fellowship, I really feel inferior to him in comparison.” As I thought of this, the brother continued, “Why has this occurred in the churches of today? It is because God has done a new work and the Holy Spirit no longer upholds the redemptive work of the Age of the Grace. This stage of the work is the work of judgment beginning with the family of God prophesied in the Bible. God has come and expressed the new word to thoroughly purify people, and this word is precisely the little scroll prophesied in Revelation. …” As he said this, he took out a book. Only then did I realize that what he preached was the “Eastern Lightning” resisted by all sects and denominations at present. So, I stood up nervously and wanted to leave there. The brother said mildly, “Brother, the Lord has come. Such great news has come to you; why do you want to leave?” I said to him irritably, “I must be responsible for the souls of over 1,000 believers in my church!” The brother said earnestly, “If you really feel responsible for those many souls, it is even more necessary to make a careful investigation. Only by doing so will you not let down the brothers and sisters!” At his words, I was speechless. “Yes, the church takes care of all my living expenses, and even my whole family lives by the brothers and sisters. Today, confronted with the news spread by them that God has come, I ought to find out whether it is true or false; otherwise, won’t I let them down? But the rumors say that those from ‘Eastern Lightning’ will ‘gouge out people’s eyes, cut off their noses….’ It is really horrible.” The brother seemed to have read my mind, and he said, “Brother, no matter what rumors you have heard before, I hope you can calm down and make an investigation. It won’t be too late for you to leave if you don’t think it’s the true way after investigating it. If you don’t investigate it, you will regret later!” I quieted my heart and recalled the scenes of these days when I stayed with them. “They are better than me in character and conduct. They have sense, insight, and courtesy; they behave properly in their fellowship and daily living and keep a very clear distance from the opposite sex; they have spiritual devotions every day, and what has even more made me admire them is that their prayers are earnest and moving and that their praises are soul-stirring and with true reverence for God. Their living out confirms that they truly have the working of the Holy Spirit and are devout Christians. And my years of service also tell me that their behavior is not a pretense but a natural expression of their inner life. Considering their living out, they are the best believers in God I have ever met. In them, I have seen God’s glory and God’s testimony. They are by no means people of an underworld organization who will gouge out people’s eyes and cut off their noses.” So, I decided to stay and make an investigation.
In the following fellowship, I asked the brother two questions: “Which verses in the Bible have been fulfilled by the work of the last days? How do you interpret the prophecies in Revelation?” He opened the book of God’s word and read: “When Jesus spoke and worked at that time, he did not speak or work according to regulations. He did not do the work according to the work of the law of the Old Testament of the Bible, but according to the work he ought to do in the Age of the Grace. He did the work according to the work he brought, according to his own plan, and according to his ministry, but not according to the law of the Old Testament. He did nothing according to the law of the Old Testament. When he came to do the work, he did it not for fulfilling the words of the prophets. In each stage of the work, God does not do it to purposefully fulfill the prophecies of the prophets of old, and he does not do it to keep regulations or to purposely fulfill the prophecies of the prophets of old. But what he does does not contradict the prophecies of the prophets of old or disturb his former work. The most obvious thing about his work is that he does not do it according to any regulations but does the work he ought to do. He is not a prophet or a foreteller, but a ‘doer,’ practically doing the work he ought to do, opening his new era, and carrying out his new work. Of course, when Jesus came to do the work, it fulfilled many words spoken by the prophets of old in the Old Testament. And the work done today also fulfills some of the prophecies of the prophets of old in the Old Testament, but today I won’t open that ‘old calendar’ to you. This is because there are more works I have to do and more words I have to speak to you and doing these works and speaking these words are much more important than interpreting those verses in the Bible, and because doing that work is not of much significance or value to you and cannot help you or transform you. I do a new work not for fulfilling any verse in the Bible. If God came to earth to do the work only for fulfilling the words of the prophets of old in the Bible, you tell me, is the incarnated God greater or are the prophets of old greater? Do the prophets of old control God or does God control the prophets of old? How do you explain these things?” God’s words convinced me, and I realized, “God’s work is not as simple as I have imagined. God’s work cannot be confined to the Bible. It is God who does the work to lead people, but not the prophecies of the Bible or the prophets that lead God to do the work.” The more I pondered what the brother had fellowshipped about, the more I felt it was right. So, I held the book of God’s word and began to read it hungrily. Every word of judgment of God, like a sharp two-edged sword, pierced through my joints and marrow and exposed the ugly things in the depths of my soul, causing me to be sincerely convinced. Through fellowships, investigations, and meetings, I came to know that it was the true way and clearly saw what I had given my ear to were all rumors. And I regretted having believed the rumors, closing the meeting places to outsiders, and hindering the brothers and sisters from accepting Almighty God.
However, when I thought that I would lose my source of income and my position if I accepted God’s new work, I felt I really had no courage to face that and even less was I willing to suffer rejections and slanders. So, I hesitated. Just at that time, I was elected as the responsible person in charge of the church affairs who had power over some of the church money matters. Having had that high-powered position, I found it even more difficult to make my choice. “The true God is on one side and the interests of my flesh on the other. What should I do? If I do not accept the new work, I will lose the true way and the true God. If I accept it, I will never again live a life like that of a king: being crowded around by the brothers and sisters, taking a taxi whenever I go out, being adored and respected wherever I go, being secured from want, and my housework being taken care of by the church.” I turned this matter over in my mind again and again so that I could not sleep at night and ate without relish. I was really in a torment, feeling extremely distressed. After a great deal of struggling and weighing the advantages and disadvantages, I made a choice of “satisfying both sides”: I will only accept it in secret instead of publicly acknowledging it as the true way, and in this way I will suffer no loss on either side. But in fact I had already slipped into the abyss of resisting Almighty God for preserving my fame, position, and money.
In May 2001, a sister in our church accepted Almighty God and told others that I had accepted too. Learning of that, I was very scared. In order to prove my “innocence,” I went to her home by taxi and flatly denied that I had accepted Almighty God; then I expelled her from the church. After that, I carried out a search with two responsible persons and took away from other believers seven books of God’s word and some tapes given by the sister. Unable to bear the pricks and accusations of my conscience, I dared not destroy the books and tapes but asked those believers to return them themselves. In order to vindicate myself, I spread the slanderous rumor about the believers in Almighty God: “We can’t afford to offend those people. They are of an underworld organization.” After getting back to the church, I laid down six safeguards to control and bind the brothers and sisters: First, whoever wants to go out for preaching the gospel or for a visitation, he must inform the church. The church should know his whereabouts and assign someone to take charge of that. Second, whoever finds any believers in Almighty God come to preach the gospel should report it to his leader immediately, and the leader can go there by taxi to drive them away. … At that time, I clearly knew that what the people of “Eastern Lightning” preached was the true way and what they fellowshipped about was the truth, and that whoever listened attentively to their fellowship would surely accept it. But if the brothers and sisters all accepted it, where could we get the money for our living expenses? Who would still be at our beck and call? Thus, to hold the sheep in my hands and preserve my fame, position, and money, I opposed God against my conscience, said some groundless slanderous words against Almighty God, and condemned, blasphemed, and vilified God’s new work in all churches. Within just a few months, my evil footprints had been left in every Seventh-day Adventist church in Liaoning Province.
In July, another sister in our church accepted Almighty God. I tried several times to persuade her to turn back, but in vain. So I declared her expelled and also frightened the brothers and sisters with these words: “They are of an organized gang. Don’t come into contact with them. If anyone comes to preach to you, stay away from him, the farther the better.” Moreover, I personally went to a church of the Three-Self sect with which I had never associated before and borrowed over 100 copies of the book called The Fallacies of “Eastern Lightning” and several dozen copies of the leaflet called Guard Against “Eastern Lightning,” wanting to distribute them to the responsible persons of all the churches. After handing out over 70 copies, I dared not go on with it, for I felt a nameless fear rising within me. To be honest, every time after I resisted Almighty God, I felt painful as if a knife were piercing my heart, and at night I could not get to sleep for a long time. Even if I managed to fall asleep, I would be awakened by a nightmare at midnight. At such a time, I thought, “Am I a believer in God? What will come upon me if I go on like this? It will probably be God’s greater wrath.” I turned to look at my sleeping two-year-old daughter and sickly wife, and I even more felt waves of fear sweeping over me, as if they would be taken away at any time by some accident.
During the eighteen months I opposed God for the sake of my selfish desires, especially during those three months my resistance had reached its peak, I had met many believers in Almighty God. They all felt sorry for me and gave me pitying looks, in which there was no hatred and no anger, but only love and expectation. Especially in the spring of 2002, I fellowshipped with the brothers and sisters who preached Almighty God for three days in Fuxin City. When I was about to leave, fourteen brothers and sisters knelt down before me and pleaded tearfully with me to stop resisting God. That scene deeply shocked my heart. “To preach the gospel and save souls, they can even humble themselves to such an extent. If it were not for the working of the Holy Spirit, who among men could do so?” At that time, I knew more clearly that they were true believers in God and that only the work of the almighty true God could achieve such a result. However, for the sake of my fame and position, I still went my own way. One of the brothers saw me off, and he said to me sincerely and tearfully, “Brother, Almighty God saves man to the utmost. If one day you realize this is the true way, come back! You are still our good brother.” I still did not turn back for the sake of my fame and position, but those heart-shaking scenes had been so deeply engraved on my heart that I could never forget them.
Shortly afterwards, God took away my loves by arranging such a circumstance: My church suspended me from my duty and stopped my pay. My position and money were gone overnight. In the face of God’s stripping, I began to reflect on my past life. “When I met with family misfortune and felt my future uncertain, Jesus entered my life and gave me a new hope. When my flesh was satisfied, I unconsciously sank in the mire of fame, position, and money. When confronted with the choice between the truth, the true way, the true God and fame, position, money, I even chose the latter. I am simply a heartless beast! Today, God’s smiting and stripping has finally woken me up from my dream so that I have seen my contemptible, shameless, ugly features.” Then, I recalled the scene of those fourteen brothers and sisters kneeling down before me in Fuxin, and the brother’s parting words rang in my ears: “If one day you realize this is the true way, come back! You are still our good brother.” At the time, I felt a terrible pain knifing my heart, for I knew that I, who had lost humanity and frenziedly resisted Almighty God, had no cheek to see the brothers and sisters who believed in Almighty God and even less had the cheek to face Almighty God. So, I only waited for God’s punishment to come upon me.
However, Almighty God did not punish or abandon me, the contemptible worm who forsook good for the sake of gold. In June 2002, God’s family sent a brother to see me. Extremely ashamed, I asked him, “Will God still want me?” He took out the book of God’s word and showed me these words: “Everyone who accepts the conquering of the word has several opportunities of being saved. In saving every person, God will save him to the utmost; that is, he will spare him to the utmost. As long as one can realize his errors and mend his ways and repent, God will give him the opportunity to receive the salvation. When one first disobeys God, God has no intention to strike him down but saves him in every possible way. If he is truly beyond salvation, he will be rejected by God. The reason why God does not punish anyone casually is that he wants to save all those who can be saved. He only judges, inspires, and guides people with the word but does not strike them down with the rod. Saving man with the word is the purpose and the significance of God’s doing the last stage of his work.” God’s words flowed through my body like a warm current, and I could no longer restrain my tears from trickling down my cheeks. I hated myself for being so obsessed by money, position, and fame that my eyes were blinded and my conscience was smothered. I hated myself for turning a deaf ear to the exhortations of the brothers and sisters and ignoring God’s calling, salvation, and discipline time and time again. “My heart is too evil, and it is really deceitful above all things and beyond cure. I am a desperado that should be punished by God!” Realizing this, I fell down before Almighty God and wept bitterly. “O God! I have enjoyed so much of your grace over these years, but when you returned, I, in order to preserve my fame, position, and money, did not even hesitate to stand against you at the expense of the life of over one thousand people, and resisted, slandered, and blasphemed you openly and brazenly. I am an executioner killing people without spilling blood, a devil devouring souls. The monstrous crimes I have committed are too numerous to record. According to what I have done, I am worthy of death and destruction and deserve to be put into the lake of fire and brimstone, but you have been so tolerant of me. I cannot express my gratitude to you in words, nor can I repay your love. Even if I sacrifice myself for you, it cannot make up for my indebtedness to you. Even if I offer up my life to you, it cannot wipe away the stain of my sins. Today, it is because of your great tolerance and patience that I can remain alive. I am willing to give up everything to follow you on my future journey, let you control me as you wish, and obey your every arrangement. O God! No matter how many hardships and difficulties I may encounter, I will bring those brothers and sisters before you so as to console your heart that has been deeply grieved by me.”
Dear spiritual brothers and sisters, after you read the confession of me, a person guilty of the most heinous sin, you may feel contemptuous of my countless evil deeds or grind your teeth in hatred of me. This will not be unfair to me, for I, in order to achieve my own contemptible purpose, did not hesitate to sacrifice the life of so many brothers and sisters and spared nothing to slander and condemn God’s work. I really deserve to be cursed! But today, I only hope that from what I have done, you can see how those slanderous and blasphemous rumors against God’s work come into being and why such rumors are multiplying and getting more and more absurd. That is because in every sect and denomination there are too many people like me who forsake good for the sake of gold. Brothers and sisters and all co-workers who have heard the testimony to God’s new work, I believe that you are all expecting the second advent of Christ and that you will not be like me who am so muddled as to be unable to drop the worthless fame, position, and money, because these things cannot save us but only make us reject the true way and become enemies of God. Almighty God admonishes us: “Jesus’ coming again is a great salvation to those who can accept the truth, but to those who cannot accept the truth, it will be a mark of condemnation. You should choose your own path. Do not do things of blaspheming the Holy Spirit and rejecting the truth. Do not be ignorant and arrogant ones, but be ones who obey the guidance of the Holy Spirit and who thirst for and seek the truth. Only this will be beneficial to you.” Now, let’s look at the society, the churches, man’s heart, and the natural and man-made disasters. We can see that there is really not much time left. May God open our spiritual eyes and open the door of our heart, so that we all can recognize the Lord Jesus who has come again and return to God’s family as soon as possible!