73. Almighty God Saved the Disobedient Me
Pingzhuang City, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region
In 1997, our family believed in the Lord Jesus (The Great Light Church) due to my mother’s sickness. My mother got healed miraculously after that. Thereafter, encouraged by the love of the Lord, we went here and there preaching the gospel, giving witness to the wonderful deeds of the Lord Jesus. It gave a good result. And I, out of fervent pursuit, was chosen as a church deacon later and began to go around the churches preaching and shepherding.
In 1998, we heard that there were people preaching the “Eastern Lightning” in our local area. For this, the deacon above stressed that no meeting place or believer was allowed to receive any stranger, and whoever did so would surely be punished. He asked us church deacons to carry out the measures against its deception in the churches and ensure that they were safely protected. “The Bible has prophesied that there will appear false Christs in the last days,” he said, “and the ‘Eastern Lightning’ preachers are the imposters to steal the sheep. They are malicious. They use beauty and other means to entice people into their trap and swindle them out of all their property, bringing their families to ruin. Once a person joins this ‘mafia,’ he cannot possibly be pulled out.” I believed what he said without any doubts and lost no time to convey it to the churches. I went every believer’s home to warn and frighten them by saying that whoever disobeyed the church rules would be doomed to suffer punishments and lose his share of God’s grace.
Just in this way, we greatly resisted the “Eastern Lightning” and guarded against its “snatch,” believing that through our defense of the true way, the church would grow better. Unexpectedly, since 2001, the church became increasingly worse. Both deacons and believers in the whole church lost their faith and love. They were no longer as fervent as before but became lifeless and very cold. The believers were diminishing in number. The sick couldn’t be healed, some believers were arrested, some had unexpected accidents, and even some died. In July 2002, the survey on number of believers showed that only a third of the believers written in the record remained in the church. Not only the believers were weak, but the co-workers intrigued against each other and scrambled for fame and fortune. The platform became a “battery,” and the co-workers fought for the status and believers. Faced with this situation, we many times tried to find out the causes and also fasted and prayed before God, believing that this would revive the church. However, things ran counter to our wish. The church failed to be revived but became more and more desolate instead. So I was disheartened and at a loss. I could do nothing less than wait with resignation, hoping for the day when the church might suddenly undergo a great revival and we could enter into the glory with God.
In March 2003, God’s “gospel of the last days” came to our church and many co-workers and deacons at every level accepted one after another. Because of this, the whole church entered into a state of emergency again. The above asked all believers to be one mind and the deacons at every level to keep a tight guard, ensuring that not one suspicious person could enter our church and not one sheep could be lost. To show my loyalty to God and better preserve my position in the church, I became very zealous in this order, running around the churches under my care from morning to evening every day.
Since we began to guard against the “Lightning,” every co-workers’ meeting was focused on how to guard against the “Lightning.” The duty of us deacons was to watch the brothers and sisters and keep them away from the “Lightning.” We often frightened them with things contrary to the fact, so they didn’t dare to move their “foot.” With those who didn’t keep their “place” and accepted the “Eastern Lightning,” we tried to persuade them first, but if they were “diehard,” we “sullied” their name so that they could be regarded as bad and utterly lose their reputation in the heart of the brothers and sisters.
In August 2003, a brother who was a chief church deacon and closest to me accepted the “Eastern Lightning” and drew away many believers. After I heard the news, I went to persuade him with the thought that I would surely drag him back by our friendship. But to my surprise, the brother didn’t listen to my persuasion; rather he turned to persuade me, “Brother, God has truly come among us and works and speaks personally and leads all His believers. What a great faith those believers in Almighty God have! They are truly the sheep shepherded by God Himself!” These words were offensive to my ears, and I rebuked him angrily, “You are a mere traitor of Christ! You only speak for the false Christ! Their kindness to you is just a temptation. They are paid 500 yuan for converting one person, do you know about it?” Hearing my groundless fabrications and slanders, the brother didn’t get angry. In the end, I went into a rage and stormed out of his home. Afterward, we took measures to restrict his preaching. We sealed off the church he had shepherded so that no brothers and sisters could receive him. Two days later, I was entrusted a task from the deacon above me, to drag back those who had accepted the “Eastern Lightning” from the church shepherded by the brother. To fulfill this “great mission,” I selected several “go-betters” who were fully submissive to me and went to the church with them. I paid a personal visit to all those who had listened to the fellowship of the “Eastern Lightning” preachers and frightened them with all manner of horrifying “testimonies” and threatened them with grandiose words such as this, “We came here with God’s entrusted task and mission to seek the ‘lost sheep’ for Him. How can we bear to see your falling into the devil’s den and the living hell? Consider it carefully. Since believing in the Lord, you have received so much grace from the Lord Jesus! You don’t repay Him but betray Him instead. Aren’t you being rather conscienceless? Won’t it bring the Lord a great grief? If the Lord gets angry, you will be cursed and punished…” As the result of my threat, intimidation, and disturbance, over ten brothers and sisters who had accepted the new work turned back, and more than twenty or thirty simply gave up their belief as they had no idea which way was true. There were only several who didn’t listen to me and firmly refused to turn back. As many copies of the book of God’s word and tapes of hymn were handed into my hand, I took one copy and one tape with me wherever I went and boasted of my “achievement.” I also spread it on thick, “I have read their book (in fact I didn’t read it), and it’s purely the word of man, made up by man.” Moreover, I preached in the churches that only the Bible was the word of God and there couldn’t be any word of God besides the Bible. I not only denied the incarnation of God, condemned and blasphemed God’s new work of the last days recklessly, but even burned the books of God’s word and tapes of hymn. Yet I believed that such deed was the proof of my loyalty to God.
One day in September 2003, I was told that a church deacon had accepted Almighty God and drew away more than thirty believers. With a fury, I immediately called several go-betters and hurried to the sister’s home for a “denunciation.” I scolded her to her face, “You have strayed and chosen to die. Why did you drag others away as your sacrificial objects? You were once a believer in God, but now you contend with God for His people. Are you not afraid of being cursed by God?” I told her in a tone of command that she must return those believers to our church soon and otherwise, she would take the consequences. And I also threatened her that I would take worse means if provoked. I had thought that my threat would force her to promise to return those believers. Unexpectedly, the sister not only didn’t show fear or anger but said to me with a smile, “Brother, during the years of our faith in God, we have been awaiting the return of the Lord day and night. However, we didn’t know how the Lord comes. Now they say the Lord has come and is carrying out the work of reaping. If we refuse to accept and even resist Him, it’s no small matter!” Her words enraged me. “You, deceived by the ‘Eastern Lightning,’ dare teach me in public.” This made me too embarrassed. Although I was in the wrong, I still continued my threat and sarcasm. When I felt that my face was saved before others, I hastily left there with those go-betters.
In October 2003, there was a co-workers’ meeting. I went to the host home one day before the meeting. A church deacon, who was on the same level as me, was already there. As she was senior in age, I called her auntie. When we talked about the “Eastern Lightning,” she said, “The people of the ‘Lightning’ aren’t like what we are told to be. They have more love than all denominations. They preach the present work of God and receive the present word of God. In their church life, they are at peace with each other and keep a clear distance from the opposite sex, not at all sordid as they are said. They pursue to live as a real man and live by the word of God. Their path is the true way!” I was very shocked at her words. “Why is the sister I respect and admire so altered? How can a chief church deacon speak for the ‘Eastern Lightning’? Is it that she still didn’t recover from being drugged?” Then I tried another question, “It says in the materials that people of the ‘Eastern Lightning’ are very filthy, but how do you say that they keep a clear distance from the opposite sex?” The sister replied, “None of us have witnessed what the materials say. The Bible tells us, ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.’ (Exodus 20:16) So we shouldn’t believe the ungrounded hearsay, much less spread it. Those unbelievers slander us that we, male and female, gather together and may sin. Whether we sin or not, we ourselves know it well, don’t we? Whether the ‘Eastern Lightning’ is the work of God is determined by God Himself, not by us. If we want to keep pace with the footprints of God, we must seek in many aspects. God’s work is wonderful and unfathomable, and man can by no means imagine it.” I felt her words reasonable, and my heart began to shake. However, after I came back to the host home I stayed from the meeting, I felt it was not right. “Why did I have no mind of my own? How come I was inclined to be swayed by her words? How can I be capable of great things if I am deceived so easily? If so, I would be too much indebted to God. God has been gracious to me these years, but I’m so conscienceless. No! I can’t be deceived in any way. The next time I see the auntie I must try to persuade her. ‘It doesn’t matter that you told me this. If you speak of it to anyone else, you will be told on and sent home by the above. Then, your years of labor will be in vain.’”
A few days later, I met the auntie again. I exhorted her to make a careful self-examination and turn back to follow the Lord Jesus wholeheartedly as soon as possible, and never to accept the “Lightning” in any case. “Who can you believe in if not the ‘Lightning’?” the auntie said, almost before I had finished speaking, “The ‘Lightning’ is exactly God!” She showed me Matthew 24:27: “For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even to the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be,” and Psalm 97:4: “His lightning enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled.” “Many verses in the Bible speak of the ‘Lightning,’” she went on, “and it refers to God Himself. Having faith in God, we should never fix ourselves to a certain place like a frog in a well. If we don’t jump out of the well, we believe that the sky is as big as the mouth of the well and will never know the endless expansion of the sky outside. If we believers always hold to such a view that it’s ‘wrong’ or it’s ‘impossible,’ we will only act as the Pharisees of modern times.” What she said hit home and put me into thought. “Brother,” the sister broke the silence and said, “if you don’t mind, let’s go to XX’s home (the brother who had been closest to me and had accepted Almighty God) and have a good discussion with him. If their way makes sense, we can investigate it. If not, we will refuse to believe or accept it, and moreover, I think that we should be responsible to save him.” “I won’t go.” I said without thinking, “There is drug in their book, and I’m afraid of being befuddled.” The sister said with a smile, “Brother, we shouldn’t believe blindly whatever others say! You have touched the book many times. If there were drug in it, would you already be befuddled? Besides, we are not those of rich and influence. What good do they get by deceiving us? If it were facts and so many people were deceived, would it already be exposed in TV news? Furthermore, we believe in God; why shall we be afraid of this and that? The Bible says, ‘For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.’ (Romans 8:15)” As I listened, I felt her words reasonable. I thought to myself, “That’s right! I took the books and burned them. I did touch them many times, yet nothing happened to me, nor did I find there was drug. We are the children of God, so why shall we fear man and evil spirits? To make it clear, I must risk myself, for it goes ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained.’” Then I promised to go there with her.
The next day, we went to the brother’s home. The brother received us warmly. When we told him what we came for, he said happily, “God loves us so much that He has gathered us again. This is what God wants to see! I’m a novice in God’s new work, and I don’t explain the truths clearly. But I can invite two friends to come here. After listening to their fellowship, you will entirely be clear about the new work.” After the brother went out to call his friends, I began to feel nervous, for in my imagination people of the “Eastern Lightning” were as cruel and horrible as the gangsters in movies and TV plays and would gouge the eyes of those who refused to accept their way and cut off their ears (the materials from the above said this way). At the thought of this, I felt very frightened, my heart filled with regret and fear. However, my imagination was shattered the moment the two brothers came in. They dressed simply and put on smiles. Especially when they shook hands with me, I felt their tenderness and kindness, and also felt that their speech was humble and gentle. At that moment, my fear and worry were gone. They were not at all like the “gangsters” or the wicked in my imagination who would harm others. After we were seated, one brother asked me about our church, “Brother, how have you been in your faith in God these days? Can you sense the work of the Holy Spirit in the church?” “Of course, there is.” I said haughtily. “Well,” he continued, “since we feel there is the work of the Holy Spirit, why is the church so desolate? The brothers and sisters have lost faith and love, and the sick can’t be healed. The church is in a mess and no longer what it was in prosperity.” His words rendered me tongue-tied. He went on, “Since the church is desolate, there must not be the work of the Holy Spirit. So why do we not seek out the direction the Holy Spirit moves toward and where God does His work? Believing in God is not a simple thing, and we shouldn’t be foolish in it.” “Brother,” I interposed, “do you know why our church is so desolate and doesn’t have the work of the Holy Spirit?” He said, “It is common that the church of the Age of Grace is desolate. And it’s also ordained by God. Amos 4:6-7 says, ‘And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have you not returned to me, said the LORD. And also I have withheld the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain on one city, and caused it not to rain on another city: one piece was rained on, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.’” Then he asked me, “What do you think ‘rain’ here refers to? And what does ‘city’ refer to?” “‘Rain’ may refer to the ‘work of the Holy Spirit,’ and ‘city’ refers to the church.” I answered. “God is righteous,” he said, “but why does He work in this church and not in that one? Why is it that He worked in all the churches in times past but is selective in His work now? The reason is that God has begun to ‘reap.’ It is written in Amos 8:11, ‘… not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.’ Today in the last days, God became flesh again to do the work of reaping. The Holy Spirit will work on those who keep pace with the footsteps of God and won’t work on those who fail to. Although people read the Bible, they are hungry and thirsty. The preachers give no fresh messages and the believers can’t be nourished. Isn’t this the fulfillment of the verse ‘… not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD’? God has carried out a new work and expressed His will and word for the new age, but man rebels against and resists it. Doesn’t this show that man doesn’t hear the words of the LORD?” When I heard the word “reap,” I asked him, “Are you the reapers as people say? Why do you reap since others preach the gospel and sow?” The brother turned to the Gospel of John and read verses 36-38 in Chapter 4: “And he that reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit to life eternal: that both he that sows and he that reaps may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One sows, and another reaps. I sent you to reap that where on you bestowed no labor: other men labored, and you are entered into their labors.” And he explained, “It’s not difficult for us to know from these verses that God sows and also reaps. ‘One’ refers to Jesus, and ‘another’ refers to Almighty God, Christ of the last days. No man is worthy to be the reaper, because man is the crop, a created being, and he can never save anyone or give life to anyone.” Then he fellowshipped in details about God’s revelation of His work in the Age of Law, in the Age of Grace, and in the Age of Kingdom. From God’s revelation of His three stages of work, I understood this: God is always new and never old, and He does different work in different ages. Although the three stages of work are done in different ages, different places, different names, and different ways, they are done by one God and are the achievements of the only true God. Today our acceptance of the new work of Almighty God doesn’t mean that we are traitors of the Lord Jesus but that we keep pace with the work of God. Those who refuse to accept God’s new work are traitors of God and ones who crucify God again. The brother’s fellowship was clear, real, and well-grounded, and for the first time I understood what God is all about, what God’s work is about, why man believes in God, and how man believes in God.
Although his fellowship was faultless, I still had some doubts, which made me hesitate to accept the new work. I asked him straightforwardly, “Since you preach the true way, why do they say that you are ‘gangsters’ and will gouge people’s eyes and cut off their ears and commit adultery? Why do they say you are paid 500 yuan for converting one person?” The brother smiled and said, “Brother, you are so naive! Who of us do you think is like a gangster? If we were ‘gangsters,’ could we believe in God? If we gouged others’ eyes and cut off their ears, committed adultery, and gained 500 yuan for converting one person, as you are told, would it be necessary for us to brave the cold to preach the gospel? Would we have to persuade people earnestly and patiently to believe in God? Would we make a big fortune already? In reality, it’s not true. Many brothers and sisters are beaten by those to whom they preach the gospel, battered and bruised, and subjected to torrents of their abuse. Some are even reported to the police and put into prison. However, they all have never complained. Is this manner of behavior that of ‘gangsters’? Whether we are gangsters or not should be judged by the facts. Who of us do you find has lost his eyes or ears? As to committing adultery, it is even more a slander out of nothing! In Article 4 of the Ten Administrative Decrees, it is stipulated, ‘Man has corrupt disposition and even more has emotion. So, in the service in coordination, two people of different sexes are forbidden to coordinate alone. If discovered, they shall be expelled, no matter who they are.’ God allows no filth to be left in His house. Since they have never given any evidence to prove what they say is true, it must be their slanders and falsehoods out of nothing. They do so because they don’t know God and God’s work. This is similar with the earliest Pharisees resisting Jesus. They condemned Jesus and His work on the many charges and nailed the sinless Jesus to the cross in the end. Is this that which believers have ever done to God? …” As I listened to his fellowship and think of what I have seen with my own eyes, rumors and falsehoods I had believed were all shattered in the end.
The brother read me a passage of God’s word. Almighty God says: “The return of Jesus is a great salvation for those who are capable of accepting the truth, but for those who are unable to accept the truth it is a sign of condemnation. You should choose your own path, and should not blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and reject the truth. You should not be an ignorant and arrogant person, but someone who obeys the guidance of the Holy Spirit and longs for and seeks the truth; only in this way will you benefit. I advise you to tread the path of belief in God with care. Do not jump to conclusions; what’s more, do not be casual and carefree in your belief in God. You should know that, at the very least, those who believe in God should be humble and reverential. Those who have heard the truth and yet turn their nose up at it are foolish and ignorant. Those who have heard the truth and yet carelessly jump to conclusions or condemn it are beset by arrogance. No one who believes in Jesus is qualified to curse or condemn others. You should all be someone who is rational and accepts the truth.” (from “When You Behold the Spiritual Body of Jesus Will Be When God Has Made Anew Heaven and Earth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh) God’s words are so precious and real. He exhorted us to tread the path of belief in God with care, not to jump to conclusions, not to be casual and carefree, but, at the very least, to be humble and reverential. The brother read many more words of God and fellowshipped with me about them. After hearing his fellowship, my heart wrung with unspeakable feelings, my face burning. I felt exceedingly troubled. According to my evil doings, any punishment and disposal of God wouldn’t go so far. Each time when I had sinned before, I had always asked God for His mercy. This time I knelt on the floor and only asked God to send severe curse and punishment upon me, because I knew I had committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which shall not be forgiven in this age or in the age to come. Thinking of my deeds, I found that they indeed ran counter to the word of God: Faced with God’s new work in the last days, I didn’t seek humbly, but began to oppose and condemn it after hearing the adverse publicity. I ran around in the churches spreading the rumors and spoke the grossest blasphemy in front of the brothers and sisters. Moreover, I used every possible way to disturb the brothers and sisters who had accepted God’s new work. I frightened them with falsehood out of nothing and criticized them on fabricated charges. Worse still, the copies of the book of God’s word and tapes I took from them were all put into fire by me. I actually tore up the words the Holy Spirit said to the churches. I was truly a great traitor, a most wicked man. I hated myself bitterly for my evil deeds. It’s truly a great shame in my journey of faith in God that I believed in God but resisted God crazily. “Two thousand years ago, the Pharisees employed every possible means to condemn Jesus and executed Him in the end, committing a heinous crime. Today when Almighty God appears to me, I have done all I can to resist Him. Am I not the son of those who cried out ‘Crucify him!’?” I felt I was very sinful and had a very malicious humanity. Later, I knew that it was because the incarnate Almighty God does all He can to save man that I was accepted by Him. If the Spirit of God worked alone, such wicked man as I would have long been struck down by God. The love of God moved me greatly, which made me hate myself more. I felt ashamed of my resistance and abhorred my haughty and arrogance. I was very thankful that God had given me the opportunity to repent and make a fresh start. Facing God’s great salvation, I was filled with great regret. I made the resolution then and there: I’m committed to following Almighty God to the end; no matter the sufferings and difficulties, I will never betray God; I will devote myself to spreading the gospel of Almighty God and saving many more souls so as to atone for my sins against God. From that day, I began to believe in Almighty God. Soon, more than 50 believers of the churches under my charge also accepted God’s new work of the last days and received the salvation of the last days of Almighty God.
My acceptance of God’s new salvation work provoked those leaders at the same level as me. The churches in my charge were soon sealed off by them. They lied to my wife that I had had an affair with another woman. They told her to divorce me and marry a better man whom they would select for her. Little did they know that my wife had also accepted God’s new work. It made us see more clearly this: If men do not come before Almighty God, they have no work of the Holy Spirit and no truth to follow. To achieve their purpose, they dare to do anything and make up any lies or slanders out of nothing. In name they believe in God, but in truth, they do not fear God or have a heart of reverence for God. Their deeds reminded me of my yesterday. I better knew that those horrifying hearsay was mere rumors and slanders and they were all groundless and were despicable means those leaders used to fool believers in order to control them in their hand.
Later, my own experience and a long association with the brothers and sisters who preached the gospel of the last days showed me where true love can be found. It is manifested on those who preached the gospel of the last days. To save more souls and carry out God’s will, despite cold and fatigue, they run around the streets and many leave home and travel across the hills. They rush around all sects and denominations spreading the good news that God has come to China to work. However, many of them often meet with slanders and even are beaten black and blue. Yet they do not lose heart. No one knows how many tears they have shed behind their tender smile and what great sadness they have endured. Are such people “gangsters”? Furthermore, Almighty God, who is innocent, has become flesh in the filthy land in humiliation. He has endured all manner of man’s tortures in order to save mankind and free them from the dark influence of Satan. Mankind, however, is so cruel that they have pushed away God’s salvation and crucified God once again, and they have misunderstood and broken God’s heart. And yet God isn’t narrow-minded toward them and still does His work silently. Although man doesn’t recognize God, God progresses His work as planned in a good order. Just as God says: “The God in heaven comes to the filthiest licentious land, and He never expresses His grievances or complains against men but silently endures men’s tortures and oppression. Yet He never opposes men’s unreasonable demands, never makes excessive or unreasonable requirements for men, but only wholeheartedly and uncomplainingly does for men all the work they need: teaching, enlightening, rebuking, refining with words, warning, exhorting, comforting, judging, and disclosing. Which step is not for men’s life? Although God takes away men’s future and destiny, which step of His work is not for men’s destiny? Which step is not for men’s existence? Which step is not for men to break free from the suppression of the afflicting and pitch-dark force of darkness? Which step is not for men? Who can know God’s motherly heart? Who can understand God’s anxious heart?” (from “Work and Entry (9)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh)
Dear brothers and sisters, is such kind and loving God not worthy for us to love? Is He not worthy for our fear? Will we still condemn God’s personal work as that of “mafia” ruthlessly? I wish you to listen to my sincere hope: Don’t be like me. Don’t measure God’s work against our imaginations, and don’t continue the foolish deed of resisting and blaspheming God anymore. Or else, there will be only regret left all our life. We are merely a little creature. Never be a puppet and prisoner of history, and never resist God’s new work with the Bible rule. Almighty God says: “Christ of the last days brings life, and brings the enduring and everlasting way of truth. This truth is the path through which man shall gain life, and the only path by which man shall know God and be approved by God. If you do not seek the way of life provided by Christ of the last days, then you shall never gain the approval of Jesus, and shall never be qualified to enter the gate of the kingdom of heaven, for you are both a puppet and prisoner of history. Those who are controlled by regulations, by letters, and shackled by history will never be able to gain life, and will never be able to gain the perpetual way of life. That is because all they have is dirty water that they have clung on to for thousands of years, instead of the water of life that flows from the throne.” (from “Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh)