58. Holding Fast to the Letters of the Bible, I Became a Pharisee of the Present Age
Dalian City, Liaoning Province
I was once a leader in the Pentecostal Church in Dalian Development Zone. On September 30, 2002, I accepted Almighty God’s new work of the last days. It was God’s great love that had saved me. Otherwise I would still be running on the path of resisting God and not repent. Thank Almighty God for His salvation to me, which made me have a fresh start and step on a new journey in life.
In 1998, I came to Dalian Development Zone from Daqing in Heilongjiang Province. In the summer of 2000, some believers told me that several people of the “Eastern Lightning” had come to our church to preach the gospel of the last days, and they said that the Lord had come, now was the Age of Kingdom, the Bible was outdated, and so on. As I had never heard people preaching the gospel of the last days before, I said, “Don’t listen to them lest you ‘fall into the trap’ and be ‘deceived.’ The Bible tells us, ‘Then if any man shall say to you, See, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.’ (Matthew 24:23-24)” In order to protect the brothers and sisters from being “deceived,” I invited the leaders of the headquarters in Daqing to our church and held a co-workers’ meeting for three days, focusing on how to resist the “Eastern Lightning.” One of the co-workers said, “They preach that this time when God comes, His name is not Jesus but is powerful ‘Almighty God’… If you don’t accept, they will torture you cruelly, either cutting off your ears, or gouging out your eyes, or breaking your legs, or even searching your house and seizing your property. They aren’t believing in God or preaching the gospel at all. It’s purely a ‘heresy,’ a ‘cult.’” Hearing this, everyone present was greatly shocked: How could there be such a sect?
To “defend” the truth and “protect” the flock, I called together the co-workers in every church as quickly as I could, and preached for a month about “Dialectics” and “On Heresies and Extremes,” aiming at the “Eastern Lightning.” Then I told the co-workers in each church to preach like this after they went back to their church. In order to let everyone know how to resist the “Eastern Lightning,” I specially made “dialectics cards for resisting the heresy,” on which there were selected verses from the Bible directed at what the “Eastern Lightning” preached. I required that everyone keep a set of cards and memorize the contents on them so that they could resist the people who preached the gospel of the last days at any time. I also told the co-workers that after returning to their church, they must carefully examine whom every believer had contact with and whether they had relatives who joined the “Eastern Lightning” and make a list of them, and keep close watch on those believers who were not in a good spiritual state. After that, I visited every church, telling every host family that they must guard the door and not let any strangers enter the church or allow any believer to bring strangers who were their relatives or friends to the church.
Once, while we were having a meeting, an old sister I knew came and asked to attend the meeting. A few days later, I found her suspicious and immediately began to “clear the church.” I grabbed her by the hand and tried to pull her out of the room, saying, “You want to steal the sheep from our church; you are miscalculating. Every believer knows that the ‘Eastern Lightning’ is a ‘heresy.’” Seeing that she refused to leave, I told two brothers to carry her out. At another time when I was visiting a believer’s home, I happened to meet a sister who preached the gospel of the last days. I said sarcastically, “Why should you run such a long way and come here to preach the gospel? Will you enter into the Kingdom because you run fast?” The sister began to fellowship with me, but before she finished her words, I said exasperatedly, “Shut up! Do you know about the Bible? Do you know what the name Messiah and the name Jesus mean? You go away quickly!” With the words, I pushed her out hard and warned her not to come again. Still another time, when I learned that a fellow townswoman of mine accepted “Almighty God,” I immediately hurried to her place by bus and forced her back to the Pentecostal Church.
Every day, I was on guard against the “Eastern Lightning.” I kept speaking slanderous words against the “Eastern Lightning” and doing things to resist the “Eastern Lightning,” being extremely disobedient. I condemned and persecuted the incarnate God of the last days indiscriminately. As I held the notion that a way discordant with the Bible was not the true way and I also believed the rumors, I resisted God more outrageously and became a devil that frenziedly resisted God. However, God never stopped His work because of my resistance, and the people predestined by God returned to God one after another. Those who truly loved God in the churches of the Development Zone all accepted God’s work of the last days. According to what I had done, I deserved death and perdition and had no qualification to receive God’s salvation, but God’s great selfless love still came upon me. The wise God wonderfully led me from Dalian to Panjin.
At the end of September 2002, I went to Panjin with a co-worker to shepherd the church. There we met two brothers who preached Almighty God’s gospel of the last days. One brother fellowshipped that God led men out of the Age of Law and into the Age of Grace, and the Age of Grace which lasted for two thousand years had ended, and now was already the Age of Kingdom… Before he finished his words, I became alert, thinking, “Aren’t they the ‘Eastern Lightning’ preachers?” My co-worker and I looked at each other’s eyes, and we felt very confident, as we had equipped ourselves with the Bible knowledge. We both clenched our fists and were ready to fight. As I had notions in my mind and meanwhile I remembered the words of the co-workers from Daqing, I questioned them angrily, “Are you from the ‘Eastern Lightning’ or not? You have departed from the Bible and abandoned the holy name of Jesus. You yourselves have been deceived, and do you want to harm others? …” Facing my streams of questions, the two brothers prayed silently in tears, one kneeling on cold concrete floor. Seeing this, I was somewhat at a loss as to what to do. I didn’t understand why the two men shed tears so easily. “Is it because my words were too violent and hurt their pride? It can’t be! If my words hurt their pride, they can dispute with us. But instead of doing so, they prayed in tears. Since they are the ‘Eastern Lightning,’ why don’t they treat us with violence as the workers from Daqing said?” While I was pondering over it, the brother who knelt on the floor got up and said kindly, “Almighty God tells us, ‘Nothing will come of seeking the truth through quarreling. Only by seeking calmly can we obtain results.’ (from “Preface” to The Word Appears in the Flesh) Please calm down. We are not at enmity between us. We believe in God for the purpose of seeking the truth. If we have the truth, we can travel all over the world; if we don’t have the truth, we can’t take a single step. Regarding your questions, let’s see what God says.” My co-worker and I saw that they had no evil intention and considered that since we believed in the true God and had the Bible as the basis, we shouldn’t fear them, so we sat down with calm assurance. Then the brother opened the book of God’s word and read us these words: “In Jesus’ day, He led the Jews and all those who followed Him according to the work of the Holy Spirit in Him. He did not look to the Bible for evidence, but spoke as His work dictated. He did not concern Himself with what the Bible said, did not lead His followers down a path found in the Bible. From the very beginning, He preached the way of repentance, and the word ‘repentance’ was not mentioned at all in all the prophecies in the Old Testament. Not only did He not follow the Bible, He brought forth a new path and did a new work. He did not make reference to the Bible when He preached, and the miracles He worked—healing the sick, casting out demons—had never been performed by men during the Age of Law. No one in the Age of Law did the work He did, taught those lessons, had that authority. He simply did His new work, though many people condemned Him, even crucified Him, by using the Bible. His work went beyond the Old Testament; if that had not been the case, why would they have nailed Him to the cross? Was it not because His teachings, His power to cure the sick and cast out demons, had never been recorded in the Old Testament? The work of Jesus was to bring forth a new path; He did not deliberately set out to ‘wage war’ against the Bible or abolish the Old Testament, but simply performed His ministry, bringing the new work to those who thirsted for Him and sought Him out. He was not trying to explain the Old Testament or defend its work. Carrying on the Age of Law was not His goal, for He did not care in the least whether His work was grounded in the Bible, but simply did the job that He needed to do. So He did not attempt to explain the Old Testament prophecies, did not base His work on words spoken in the Old Testament Age of Law. He did not concern Himself with what the Old Testament said, whether it accorded with His own work, did not care how other people saw His work or condemned His work. He simply kept on doing the job He needed to do, though many people condemned Him, invoking the words of the Old Testament prophets. In people’s eyes His work was not based on a shred of evidence, and in many ways it ran counter to what was recorded in the Bible. Were they not grossly in the wrong? Must God’s work obey any rules? Does He need to follow the words of prophets? Which is greater, the Bible or God? Why must God’s work be in line with the Bible? Is it really not within His right to stand above the Bible? Can He not depart from it and do other work? Why did Jesus and His disciples not observe the Sabbath? If He was to observe the Sabbath, to practice the commandments of the Old Testament, then why, after His coming, did He not observe the Sabbath, but washed others’ feet and covered His head, broke bread and drank wine? Were these commandments mentioned in the Old Testament? If Jesus was to adhere to the Old Testament, why did He break these rules? You must know which came first, God, or the Bible? As He is the Lord of the Sabbath, can’t He also be the Lord of the Bible?” (from “Concerning the Bible (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh)
God’s stern words struck my heart, and I almost collapsed to the floor. My former arrogant, resistant, and insolent air diappeared. I seemed to be woken up from muzziness by a very great light shining on my heart. I walked out of the Bible all at once and stopped judging God’s work by the Bible. These words of God opened the door of my heart. I was sure that this way was not a heresy, much less a cult, but was truly the way of life. So I was more ashamed. But I didn’t understand why God wasn’t called Jesus when He came the second time. After I raised this question, one brother found these words of God for me: “Only Jesus is the Redeemer of mankind. He is the sin offering that redeemed mankind from sin. Which is to say, the name of Jesus came from the Age of Grace, and existed because of the work of redemption in the Age of Grace. The name of Jesus existed to allow the people of the Age of Grace to be reborn and saved, and is a particular name for the redemption of the whole of mankind. And so the name ‘Jesus’ represents the work of redemption, and denotes the Age of Grace. The name ‘Jehovah’ is a particular name for the people of Israel who lived under the law. In each age and each stage of work, My name is not baseless, but holds representative significance: each name represents one age. ‘Jehovah’ represents the Age of Law, and is the honorific for the God worshiped by the people of Israel. ‘Jesus’ represents the Age of Grace, and is the name of the God of all those who were redeemed during the Age of Grace. If man still longs for the arrival of Jesus the Savior during the last days, and still expects Him to arrive in the image He bore in Judea, then the entire six-thousand-year management plan would stop in the Age of Redemption, and would be incapable of progressing any further. The last days, furthermore, would never arrive, and the age would never be brought to an end. That is because ‘Jesus the Savior’ is only for the redemption and salvation of mankind. I took the name of ‘Jesus’ for the sake of all the sinners in the Age of Grace, and it is not the name by which I shall bring the whole of mankind to an end. Although Jehovah, Jesus, and the Messiah all represent My Spirit, these names only denote the different ages in My management plan, and do not represent Me in My entirety. The names by which people on earth call Me cannot articulate My entire disposition and all that I am. They are merely different names by which I am called during different ages. And so, when the final age—the age of the last days—arrives, My name shall change again. I shall not be called Jehovah, or Jesus, much less the Messiah, but shall be called the powerful and almighty God Himself, and under this name I shall bring the entire age to an end. I was once known as Jehovah. I was also called the Messiah, and people once called Me Jesus the Savior because they loved and respected Me. Today I am no longer the Jehovah or Jesus that people knew in times past. I am the God who has returned in the last days, and who shall bring the age to an end. I am the God Himself that rises up at the ends of the earth, replete with My entire disposition, and full of authority, honor and glory.” (from “The ‘Savior’ Has Already Returned Upon a ‘White Cloud’” in The Word Appears in the Flesh)
This clear testimony and these words of truth struck my heart and made me tremble. I was so remorseful that I couldn’t help beating my breast and crying… Everything in the past was as fresh as ever in my memory, and I couldn’t bear to recall them. On the platform, I had made speeches arrogantly and defiantly and acted as a guard of defending the true way, which was actually a shameful mark of resisting and persecuting God. All that I did to persecute God’s children flashed before my eyes like a film, my arrogant words, hostile eyes, jaunty manner, and wild gestures… I really had no likeness of a believer in God at all, but was purely a devil. The gentle voice and the eyes filled with tears, love, and pity of those brothers and sisters whom I had driven out of the church made me feel bitterly ashamed. I mumbled to myself, “O God, I have no face to see You again.” My co-workers and I held each other tightly, crying our eyes out. We were excited, remorseful, and seemed to wake up from a nightmare. The title of leader, the laurel of shepherd, the exaltation from others, and the ring of glory, to hell with all these! I cried, “O God, I’m an ignorant and blind Pharisee. I’ve again crucified the Lord Jesus who I have been expecting day and night and who has returned in the flesh. I’m the foremost of sinners who has blasphemed the Holy Spirit and has torn up what the Holy Spirit says to the churches. My sin is too great to be forgiven.” I regretted that I was so arrogant and self-right that I blindly believed the rumors and spread them and judged and circumscribed God’s work by the Bible and restricted God’s work by letters and doctrines. I, who had worked for many years and regarded myself as a “faithful holy servant,” was actually a vanguard and executioner who persecuted God… I was so regretful that I couldn’t forgive myself.
Brothers and sisters, I hope you will learn a lesson from my experience. How hideous and pitiful a man who doesn’t know God and God’s work is! If God hadn’t saved me, I would have long fallen into the hades. Brothers and sisters, wake up quickly! Only Christ of the last days can give the way of eternal life. From the bottom of my heart, I advise everyone who truly believes in God not to blindly believe the rumors but open the door of our heart, for only the truth expressed by the incarnate God of the last days can save man completely and thoroughly. Wake up! God’s work in China is drawing to an end, and Almighty God has been expecting us for a long time!