85. The Foolish Me Woke Up At Last
Zhumadian City, Henan Province
I was once a believer of the “Praise Church.” At the end of 1998, our leader warned us again and again in a meeting, “Now some people are preaching that the Lord has returned in the flesh. You must never believe it. It’s precisely a false way! It’s a false Christ, a deceiver! Because the Lord will come on the white cloud, and we all can see Him. Just as Revelation 1:7 says, ‘Behold, he comes with clouds; and every eye shall see him….’” Hearing this, I thought, “Leader Liu has believed in the Lord for a long time and knows much about the Bible. It must be right to listen to him.” Since then, I strictly observed the leader’s words. I shut the door on the brothers and sisters time after time who came to preach Almighty God to me. Leader Liu showed more “care” for me than before and often came to my home to “water” me. So I assured him, “Brother Liu, you can rest assured! I only listen to you and follow you to the end. I will never believe in the false way! …”
In the spring of 2002, a friend of mine (who had accepted Almighty God’s work) came to my home. He took out the Bible and asked me several questions which I never heard of. I couldn’t answer them at all. So I called Leader Liu to come to my home. I had thought that he could surely answer these questions. But unexpectedly, he not only couldn’t answer them but said fiercely to my friend, “I have no time to listen to your nonsense. Today you just came to deceive him! You are ‘the fox who preaches to the goose!’ You want to draw away my sheep? No way! Even if his parents come, they can’t, let alone you, his friend. You must leave now.” My friend said kindly, “Brother, don’t be angry. We all are believers in God. Let’s sit down and have a talk.” “Who wants to talk with you? Leave at once! Otherwise, I won’t be so easy on you. If you come again, I will call the police to arrest you! …” Just like this, my friend was driven away by the leader without having lunch at my home. When the leader left, he told me again and again, “You should treat these people in this way and never be easy on them! Don’t receive the outsiders anymore! …” “It’s lucky that we have such a good leader!” I thought. But my wife said, “Why couldn’t the leader answer your friend’s questions? These questions are not beyond the Bible. I don’t think that he knows everything! What’s more, he often told us to love enemies and love others as ourselves, but where is his love today? …” “You know what? Long hair, short wit! …” When I heard my wife speak “ill” of the leader, I got very angry with her and chewed her out.
Soon it was July. I suddenly had cerebral vascular disease and rheumatic heart disease. I lay in bed, unable to move. I prayed to the Lord about this several times every day. Two months passed, and I spent two or three thousand yuan on my diseases. However, my condition didn’t get better at all but became worse and worse. I passed the time in such suffering… One day in December, it was snowing heavily, with bitter wind howling. It hadn’t occurred to me that my friend walked about ten miles to my home. Seeing that I was so sick, he shed tears and said guiltily, “I’m really indebted to God. I failed to preach God’s new work to you, so that you suffer this.” He didn’t say much, but I felt his true feelings. “It’s half a year since I was ill, and I’ve never seen anyone shed tears for me! Why can he do so? …” My friend took my hands and said sincerely, “Lao Li, God loves man, and He desires all men to be saved and not one to perish. So He sent the brothers and sisters to preach the gospel to you again and again! God is wise and wonderful, and no one can fathom His work. The leaders don’t know everything! …” “Nonsense! If the leaders don’t know, who will know? I will only follow my leader! You go at once! Never come again!” Hearing that he said the leaders didn’t know everything, I lost my temper again and stopped him at once and showed him the door. Seeing this, he had to leave with tears into the wind and snow.
That afternoon, I sent a message to Leader Liu and asked him to come to my home. More than ten days passed away, but he didn’t come. I had to send a message to him again. A week later, he came at last. When I saw him, I felt very happy as if seeing my savior. I held his hands tightly and said, “Brother Liu, here you are at last. Please pray to the Lord for me now!” Unexpectedly, he said with a stern face, “Why didn’t the Lord cure your diseases? You should compare with your past. In the past, you had the greatest faith and were generous in receiving and offered much, but in recent months you not only haven’t attended the meetings but have offered almost nothing. You are neither hot nor cold. Could the Lord cure you? Today I have something to do and I’ll go.” Then he left, regardless of how earnestly I asked him to stay. I was plunged into a turmoil. “Ay! I expected his coming every day, but in the end I got a ‘reward’ of ‘small faith and little offering.’ He said that I had small faith. Isn’t it simply because I didn’t go to church? But I’m so sick and can’t go. Actually I didn’t forget the Lord in my heart! He said my offering was little. Right! I offered much before, and that’s because I had some money at that time. But now I even have no money to cure my diseases, so what can I offer?” The more I thought, the more I felt something was not right. Is this the leader whom I have looked up to, respected, and trusted for so many years? How come he has become so ruthless? Where is his love? Did I displease him because I didn’t kill a chicken and buy vegetables to entertain him as I did before when he came to my home? What did I do to him? …” As I thought of this, I cried in disappointment. My wife tried to persuade me, saying, “The Bible says that we should judge a tree by its fruit. Why don’t you open your spiritual eyes to discern? Won’t you turn back until you bang into the wall and die? …” Her words reminded me. “Right! A good tree bears good fruit! My leader and my friend are really quite different in behavior. One is rude, cold, and devoid of love, while the other is humble, patient, and loving.” After I had much thought, my conception of the leader began to be shaken. “My friend’s temper was worse than mine in the past, but now he seemed a different person. Who can change man except God alone? Is the way he believes in the true way?”
Thank Almighty God for His salvation! On February 2, 2003 (the second day of Chinese lunar new year), my friend came to my home again at the break of the day. At the sight of me, he told me happily, “My uncle came from Zhengzhou yesterday. He is an expert in cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease. I asked him to make a prescription for you. Last night I was anxious to come and felt the night too long. So I came early this morning.” Hearing his words, I really felt so ashamed. I took his cold hands and said with tearful eyes, “I owed you too much! …” “All this is Almighty God’s great love! When a brother came to preach God’s new work to me before, I even gave him a slap on the face! We did such foolish things because we didn’t understand!” Then he testified God’s new work to me in detail with patience. He fellowshipped about many truths such as the three stages of God’s work, the change of God’s name, the shift of the location of God’s work, the turn of the age, and so on. I was completely convinced by his fellowship. When he said God had returned in the flesh to work, I asked hastily, “The Bible says the Lord will come with clouds and every eye shall see Him, but now no one has seen Him. Why do you say the Lord has come?” He fellowshipped, “The Bible says ‘the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.’ (2 Corinthians 3:6) There are many verses about the Lord’s second coming, such as, ‘For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night;’ (1 Thessalonians 5:2) ‘And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him;’ (Matthew 25:6) ‘But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only;’ (Matthew 24:36) ‘And his feet shall stand in that day on the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east;’ (Zechariah 14:4) and so on. If we interpret these verses literally, isn’t it that they conflict with each other? In fact, they don’t contradict each other. These prophecies will surely be fulfilled one by one, but they will be done in order at different times. God has a principle in doing His work: He does the work in a hidden way first and then in an open way; when He does the work in a hidden way, it is the time of His saving people, but when it is made public, that will be the time of punishment. Take the age of Noah as an example. Before the flood came, it was the time for people to be saved. However, once the flood came, all those who didn’t enter the ark fell into the disaster. So, we should keep up with the pace of God’s work during the period when God works in a hidden way. Otherwise, we will lose the opportunity to be saved.” Then he opened the book of God’s word and read these words: “Since Jesus departed, the disciples who followed Him, and all of the saints who were saved thanks to His name, have been desperately pining for Him and awaiting Him. All those who were saved by the grace of Jesus Christ during the Age of Grace have been longing for that joyful day during the last days, when Jesus the Savior arrives on a white cloud and appears to all men. Of course, this is also the collective wish of all those who accept the name of Jesus the Savior today. Throughout the universe, all those who know of the salvation of Jesus the Savior have been ‘desperately yearning for’ the sudden arrival of Jesus Christ, to ‘fulfill’ the words of Jesus when on earth: ‘I shall arrive just as I departed.’ Man believes that, following the crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus went back to heaven upon a white cloud, and took His place at the Most High’s right hand. Similarly, man conceives that Jesus shall descend, again upon a white cloud (this cloud refers to the cloud that Jesus rode upon when He returned to heaven), among the mankind who has desperately yearned for Him for thousands of years, and that He shall bear the image and clothes of the Jews. … And so on. Yet Jesus the Savior did not do this; He did the opposite of what man conceived. He did not arrive among those who had yearned for His return, and did not appear to all men while riding upon the ‘white cloud.’ He has already arrived, but man does not know Him, and remains ignorant of His arrival. Man is only aimlessly awaiting Him, unaware that He has already descended upon a white cloud (the cloud which is His Spirit, His words, and His entire disposition and all that He is), and is now among a group of overcomers that He will make during the last days.” (from “The ‘Savior’ Has Already Returned Upon a ‘White Cloud’” in The Word Appears in the Flesh) “Many people may not care what I say, but I still want to tell every so-called saint who follows Jesus that, when you see Jesus descend from the heaven upon a white cloud with your own eyes, this will be the public appearance of the Sun of righteousness. Perhaps that will be a time of great excitement for you, yet you should know that the time when you witness Jesus descend from the heaven is also the time when you go down to hell to be punished. It will herald the end of God’s management plan, and will be when God rewards the good and punishes the wicked. For the judgment of God will have ended before man sees signs, when there is only the expression of truth. Those who accept the truth and do not seek signs, and thus have been purified, shall have returned before the throne of God and entered the Creator’s embrace. Only those who persist in the belief that ‘The Jesus who does not ride upon a white cloud is a false Christ’ shall be subjected to everlasting punishment, for they only believe in the Jesus who exhibits signs, but do not acknowledge the Jesus who proclaims severe judgment and releases the true way of life. And so it can only be that Jesus deals with them when He openly returns upon a white cloud.” (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) At that time, I realized that I was really so foolish that I had believed my leader’s words and restricted God within my notions and imaginations and within the letters of the Bible! “Today, I have understood. In doing His work, God first purifies people with His word, and then appears to all people publicly, which will be the time when He rewards the good and punishes the evil.”
Then my friend continued, “In the past, you believed your leader’s words, because you thought that the leaders believed in the Lord for a long time and were versed in the Bible and knew everything and that you would surely be saved as long as you followed them. Actually, it’s not true. Take for example the priests, scribes, and Pharisees at the time when the Lord Jesus worked. They could recite the Scriptures backward and were waiting for the coming of Messiah. But when the true Messiah, the Lord Jesus, came, they didn’t know Him, and moreover, they condemned Jesus with the Old Testament and in the end nailed the Lord onto the cross cruelly. From this, we can see that those who have more biblical knowledge will hold faster to the old things and have more religious notions. If they don’t seek and investigate the truth with a humble heart, they will be more able to resist God and repeat the tragedy of the Pharisees…” “Right! Who believes in God longer and is more versed in the Scriptures than the Pharisees? Didn’t they still nail the Lord onto the cross? If I continue to follow my leader like this, isn’t it that I’m rushing toward hell with him?”
Thinking of this, I hated myself bitterly. “I was so blind and ignorant that I adored the leader blindly and resisted God’s new work for so long. I shut the door on the brothers and sisters sent by God many times and treated my good old friend heartlessly who was so kind to come to preach God’s new work to me. I’m really a muddleheaded believer and have acted as Satan’s accomplice! If it were not for Almighty God’s great love, I couldn’t possibly come before God.” At that moment, remorse, regret, and gratitude welled up in me. I burst into tears and prayed, “O Almighty God! Although I believed in You, I listened to my leader and adored him as my idol and refused Your salvation of the last days. I really grieved Your heart. I thank You that You overlook my foolishness and ignorance and forget my unrighteousness and bring me back to Your family, so that I have known that You are the One whom I should worship and look up to. O Almighty God! I’m sure You are the Lord Jesus who has reappeared. I’m willing to follow You with heart and soul and never turn back! I’m more willing to offer my whole being to You and cooperate with Your gospel work in a practical way to repay Your great love!” At last, both my wife and I accepted Almighty God’s new work happily.
After following Almighty God for a few months, I was miraculously recovered. From this, I even more tasted that God’s love is really wide, long, deep, and high, and I really couldn’t put it into words. Here, I want to give sincere advice to those brothers and sisters who believe and look up to the leaders: Learn a lesson from me, and don’t persist in the wrong way, for our leaders can’t give us life. Only Almighty God can save us and bestow life on us. Wake up! Almighty God—the Watcher, will embrace your arrival any time!