60. God Is So Righteous
By Zhang Lin, Japan
In September 2012, I was in charge of church work when I met my leader Yan Zhuo. I found out she’d been asking brothers and sisters to preach the gospel door to door. This was a serious violation of principles. So my working partner and I said to her, “We have to abide by the principles of God’s house when spreading the gospel. What you’re doing now is at odds with them and if nonbelievers or evildoers end up in the Church, then that will disrupt the work of God’s house. Anyway, it’s dangerous to preach the gospel like that. If someone calls the police, then you’ll have thrown our brothers and sisters to the lions.” She not only paid no mind but accused us of being sticklers for the rules. In gatherings after that, she’d often scold me and my working partner, saying we were obstructing the gospel work of God’s house. We both felt really constrained by her. In December that year, our regional members went out preaching the gospel as Yan Zhuo told them to and over 100 people got arrested. This was a great blow to the work of God’s house but Yan Zhuo was totally unrepentant. I never once saw her dissect or reflect deeply on her arrogance or recklessness. By November 2013, I was in charge of making church videos. I noticed she was still just arrogantly doing whatever she wanted. She would scold and condemn anyone who expressed a different opinion. She repeatedly held back videos people submitted for review, which meant brothers and sisters couldn’t get timely pointers or help from God’s house. I pointed out to her some things that were lacking in how she did her duty and made some suggestions, but she just carried on as before. She didn’t listen, and said I was the arrogant one. In May 2014, she had me dismissed and sent back home. After I got home, I just happened to read some principles about discerning antichrists and false leaders. Comparing Yan Zhuo’s consistent behavior to them, I finally realized just how arrogant and malicious she really was. She was always wanton and dictatorial in her duty. She didn’t accept the truth or suggestions from brothers and sisters, but instead suppressed and condemned people. Didn’t her behavior show her to be an antichrist who hated the truth? Seeing her behavior for what it was, I felt shocked. Over the two years we’d worked together, I’d seen her behavior and approach, but I took it all for expressions of corruption. I never used God’s words to dissect her nature, her essence, or the path she was following. So whenever I was around her, I just had to keep being tolerant and patient, which ended up delaying and impacting the work of God’s house. I thought, “If Yan Zhuo continues as a church leader, she’ll disrupt the work of God’s house even more.” I decided to report her issues to God’s house. I said a prayer to God and wrote a letter reporting her. At the end of the letter, I added one last thing. I knew at that time there was a video that had some problems with it, so I asked God’s house to look into the matter and review it.
Just as I was about to send off the completed letter, I began to get second thoughts. I thought, “I’ve given her suggestions before and pointed out problems in her duty, but it didn’t go over well and she sent me home. Now I can’t even do my duty. If I send this letter reporting her issues and by some chance she ends up reading it, she’ll accuse me of attacking leaders and workers, and then where will I be? I should just forget it. Since I’m already out the door, I may as well not stir things up.” But then I thought: “God has guided me today to see that Yan Zhuo walks the path of the antichrists. If I don’t report this, it’ll be the work of God’s house and the brothers and sisters that suffer.” “Won’t I then be Satan’s aide and an evildoer?” I felt really conflicted with the interests of God’s house and the brothers and sisters on one side and my own future prospects on the other. I just didn’t know what to do. For a few days, I often came before God to pray, asking Him to guide me onto the right path. I later read a passage of God’s words. “You must have aspirations and the courage to be made perfect, and should not always think yourself incapable. Does the truth have favorites? Can the truth deliberately oppose people? If you pursue the truth, can it overwhelm you? If you stand firm for justice, will it knock you down? If it is truly your aspiration to pursue life, can life elude you? If you are without the truth, that is not because the truth ignores you, but because you stay away from the truth; if you cannot stand fast for justice, that is not because there is something wrong with justice, but because you believe it is out of line with the facts; if you have not gained life after pursuing it for many years, that is not because life has no conscience toward you, but because you have no conscience toward life, and have driven away life; if you live in the light, and have been incapable of gaining the light, that is not because the light is unable to illuminate you, but because you have not paid any attention to the existence of the light, and so the light has quietly departed from you. If you do not pursue, then it can only be said that you are worthless trash, and have no courage in your life, and do not have the spirit to resist the forces of darkness. You are too weak! You are unable to escape the forces of Satan that lay siege to you, and are only willing to lead this kind of safe and secure life and die in ignorance. What you should achieve is your pursuit of being conquered; this is your bounden duty. If you are content to be conquered, then you drive out the existence of the light. You must suffer hardship for the truth, you must give yourself to the truth, you must endure humiliation for the truth, and to gain more of the truth you must undergo more suffering. This is what you should do” (“The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Reading this passage gave me faith and strength. “Yes,” I thought. “I can’t let this dark force defeat me.” I never had discernment on Yan Zhuo before. But now God had arranged things so I could see her nature, her essence, and the path she followed. I should have taken a stand and blown the whistle, but instead I heeded Satan’s philosophy “Let things drift if they do not affect one personally” for the sake of my own future prospects. I saw just how selfish I was, devoid of conscience or reason. I thought of all the years I’d believed in God and enjoyed the watering and sustenance of God’s words. Yet at this crucial time, I was ignoring my conscience to protect my interests and turning a blind eye to God’s house. What an ungrateful, mean, and despicable person I was! Realizing this, I thought: “I must act with conscience and a sense of justice, practice the truth and protect the work of God’s house.” So I came before God again many times in prayer and finally made this resolution: “Whatever the consequences of writing this report letter, I cannot be an aide to Satan just to protect my own interests. I’ve seen Yan Zhuo’s issues, so I should take a stand, expose her evil deeds, and protect the work of God’s house.” I then sent the report to God’s house. I felt so relieved afterward and had such a sense of peace in my heart. I waited anxiously every day after that for God’s house to send someone to investigate the situation with Yan Zhuo and for the brothers and sisters to see that antichrist for what she was and reject her. Unfortunately, my situation got even worse due to that letter.
In August 2014, the church agreed to allow me to perform my duty again. But one day in mid-October, a leader named Li came to the hosting home I was staying at. With a stern look on her face, she asked, “Did you write a report letter before?” I said I had. Looking displeased, she said, “Yan Zhuo is in charge of the church’s work and I’m often in contact with her. I’ve never noticed or heard any indication that she behaves like a false leader or an antichrist. That letter you wrote was just a random attack on leaders and workers.” I couldn’t believe my ears when she said that. I never could’ve imagined such an outcome after waiting four months. I remained calm in spite of what she said. I knew I’d written that letter about Yan Zhuo according to the facts and principles. No way was it a false accusation. Leader Li then said, “Your report letter mentioned checking out some video, so God’s house spent two months on investigations and reviews. It has profoundly disrupted the work of God’s house and offended God’s disposition.” She also said that was what the senior leaders said. These remarks left me reeling in a state of shock. I never imagined my letter would’ve caused such severe disruption to the work of God’s house and offended God’s disposition. If things were as she said, then I really had committed a great evil. I suddenly felt sapped of all energy and couldn’t stop myself from crying. Leader Li then said, “Get your things, go home, and reflect on what you’ve done. Once you’re done reflecting, you can start doing your duty again.” I sat on the bus home with my mind in a whirl and a great weight on my heart. I’d believed in God for so many years yet I’d become an evildoer who’d severely disrupted the work of God’s house. I was consumed with self-blame and remorse and had no idea what the future might hold for me. I called on God and asked Him to protect my heart. No matter how God dealt with me, I would obey His arrangements. I’d never blame God. After praying, I gradually calmed down. Three days after I got home, I thought about what Li had said and I began to have some questions: Christ and the truth rule in God’s house, and there are principles to everything it does, including how it handles people. It wouldn’t just go by some temporary behavior in a person. So what principles were Li and the others going by to treat me this way? Was what Leader Li said really true? I just couldn’t figure it out but I knew that, whatever the truth was, God was allowing it all to happen so I had to submit to His arrangements. It wasn’t long before a church leader assigned me a group for gatherings. More than a month after that, I was assigned to attend gatherings at home with my mom, and we weren’t allowed to do our duties anymore. I knew then that we were being ostracized. I’d believed in God all this time, but now not only was I being isolated at home, but I couldn’t even do my duty anymore. I felt so bereft. During that time, I dreamed almost every night of gathering and doing duty with my brothers and sisters. I’d wake up and I wouldn’t be able to sleep again. Every night felt so long, so unbearable. My mom suffered alongside me during those days. Especially when I heard her crying at night as she prayed to God, I would blame myself and feel really low. I felt like I’d brought it on her. Those days were the most painful and the hardest I’d been through since I started believing in God. Besides constantly praying to God, I had no other way to relieve the pain in my heart. I later asked my church leader whether I could go do my duty again. She said, “You still want to do your duty? If you don’t reflect on yourself as you should, you’ll end up expelled!” Hearing her say this, I felt overwhelmed with despair. I knew then that doing my duty was nothing more than a pipe dream. The leaders came to our house for a meeting every week, but really they just came to ask about me to see if I’d been spreading negativity or forming cliques. So every time they came to ask about me, I would get incredibly depressed. Sometimes I wanted to ask them, “Why are you treating me this way? I reported Yan Zhuo based on the principles. But instead of investigating her, you’ve kept me at home. Is there something wrong with practicing the truth?” I felt really upset. Sometimes, I would think: “Why has practicing the truth led to this? I believe God is righteous but I can’t see His righteousness in what’s happening now.” I was so confused. I was just holding on to the bare minimum, not speaking sinfully or blaming God. I often came before God to pray, asking Him to guide me to understand His will and not misunderstand Him.
It was at that hardest, most painful of times that I read some of God’s words. “Exactly how should people come to know and grasp God’s righteous disposition? When the righteous receive His blessings and when the wicked are cursed by Him—these are examples of God’s righteousness. Is this correct? It is said that God rewards good and punishes evil, and that He recompenses every man according to his deeds. That is correct, is it not? These days, however, those who worship God are killed or cursed, or have never been blessed or acknowledged by Him; no matter how much they worship Him, He ignores them. God neither blesses the wicked, nor punishes them, yet they are rich and have many offspring, and all goes well for them; they are successful in everything. Is this God’s righteousness? As a result, some people say, ‘God is not righteous. We worship Him, but He has never blessed us, whereas in all things, the wicked who resist and do not worship Him are better off and have higher positions than we. God is not righteous!’ What does this show you? I just gave you two examples. Which one speaks to God’s righteousness? Some people say, ‘They are both manifestations of God’s righteousness!’ Why do they say this? People’s knowledge of God’s disposition is erroneous; it exists amongst their own thoughts and viewpoints, within a transactional perspective, or within a perspective of good and evil, a perspective of right and wrong, or a logical perspective. These are the perspectives they bring to their knowledge of God; such people are incompatible with God, and are bound to resist Him and complain about Him” (“How to Know God’s Righteous Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks).
“God will do what He ought to do, and His disposition is righteous. Righteousness is by no means fair or reasonable; it is not egalitarianism, or a matter of allocating to you what you deserve in accordance with how much work you have completed, or paying you for whatever work you have done, or giving you your due according to what effort you expend. This is not righteousness. Suppose God had eliminated Job after Job bore witness for Him: God would have been righteous then, too. Why is this called righteousness? From a human point of view, if something is in line with people’s notions, it is then very easy for them to say that God is righteous; however, if they do not see that thing as being in line with their notions—if it is something that they are incapable of comprehending—then it would be difficult for them to say that God is righteous. … God’s essence is righteousness. Though it is not easy to comprehend what He does, all that He does is righteous; it is simply that people do not understand. When God gave Peter to Satan, how did Peter respond? ‘Mankind is unable to fathom what You do, but all of what You do contains Your good will; there is righteousness in all of it. How can I not utter praise for Your wise deeds?’ Today, you should see that God does not destroy Satan in order to show humans how Satan has corrupted them and how God saves them; ultimately, due to the degree to which Satan has corrupted people, they shall behold the monstrous sin of Satan’s corruption of them, and when God destroys Satan, they shall behold God’s righteousness and see that it contains God’s disposition. Everything that God does is righteous. Though it might be unfathomable to you, you should not make judgments at will. If something He does appears to you as unreasonable, or if you have any notions about it, and that leads you to say that He is not righteous, then you are being most unreasonable. You see that Peter found some things to be incomprehensible, but he was sure that God’s wisdom was present and that His good will was in those things. Humans cannot fathom everything; there are so many things that they cannot grasp. Thus, to know God’s disposition is not an easy thing” (“How to Know God’s Righteous Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words shone like a lantern in the dark and I suddenly understood. I couldn’t see God’s righteousness because I’d been trying to understand it using my notions and imaginings. When I saw those antichrists and false leaders disrupting the work of God’s house, I believed that truthfully reporting them was a good and righteous deed that should earn me God’s favor and protection. I thought they’d be handled right away, and only that was God’s righteousness. But after I reported these issues, they kept their positions and still acted wantonly, while I was the one stifled and ostracized. I’d begun to doubt God’s righteousness at that point. After reading God’s words, I finally understood that God’s essence is righteous. Whether His actions meet with our notions or not, they always express His righteousness. It’s just like Job’s trials. He was a perfect man in God’s eyes but God handed him over to Satan and took away all his wealth and children. This was God’s righteousness. Job feared God and shunned evil and he relied on his faith to bear staunch, resounding witness to God. God then blessed him with a long life and much more wealth, and better children, too. This was also God’s righteousness. Suppose after Job bore witness to God, God didn’t bless him, but destroyed him instead. That would’ve been God’s righteousness, too. God’s essence and disposition are inherently righteous so everything He does is righteous. I then thought about Peter who went through several hundred trials and refinements, but still praised God’s righteousness. He couldn’t understand everything that happened but he trusted that God’s righteousness and wisdom were behind it all. Then there’s me—I didn’t truly understand God’s righteousness but instead appraised it by whether how things appeared and the outcome accorded with my notions or not. When what God did fit my notions and benefited me, I believed in His righteousness. But when He arranged situations that didn’t benefit me, I began to doubt His righteousness, believing the things He’d arranged to be unfair. Although I never blamed God openly, I was constantly arguing with Him in my heart. I saw just how senseless I’d been. God wasn’t being unrighteous. It was me who didn’t understand God. I was being too selfish and deceitful. I wasn’t seeking the truth or learning from the situation He’d arranged for me. Instead, I was arguing and obsessing over my own future and interests, so how could I not feel terrible and fall into darkness and pain? I finally understood God’s will. God was using this situation to remedy my wrong views so that I wasn’t trying to understand His righteousness through my own notions anymore. I felt like I finally understood what was happening. I came before God in prayer, willing to submit to His arrangements and understand Him in this situation.
I then read these words of God: “Most people do not understand God’s work. It is indeed not an easy thing to understand; one must first know that there is a plan to all God’s work and it is all done on God’s time. Man is eternally unable to fathom what and when God works; God does certain work at a certain time, and He does not delay; no one can destroy His work. To work according to His plan and according to His intention is the principle by which He does His work, and no person can change this. Therein, you should see God’s disposition” (“Only by Knowing God’s Almightiness Can You Have a True Belief” in Records of Christ’s Talks). “Everything that God does is necessary and possessed of extraordinary significance, for all that He does in man concerns His management and the salvation of mankind. Naturally, the work that God did in Job is no different, even though Job was perfect and upright in the eyes of God. In other words, regardless of what God does or the means by which He does it, regardless of the cost, regardless of His objective, the purpose of His actions does not change. His purpose is to work God’s words into man, as well as God’s requirements and will for man; in other words, it is to work into man all that God believes to be positive in accordance with His steps, enabling man to understand God’s heart and comprehend God’s essence, and allowing man to obey God’s sovereignty and arrangements, thus allowing man to attain fear of God and shunning of evil—all of this is one aspect of God’s purpose in all He does. The other aspect is that, because Satan is the foil and service object in God’s work, man is often given to Satan; this is the means God uses to allow people to see in Satan’s temptations and attacks the wickedness, ugliness, and contemptibility of Satan, thus causing people to hate Satan and be able to know and recognize that which is negative. This process allows them to gradually free themselves from Satan’s control and accusations, interference, and attacks—until, thanks to God’s words, their knowledge and obedience of God, and their faith in God and fear of Him, they triumph over the attacks and accusations of Satan; only then will they have been completely delivered from the domain of Satan” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words showed me that He acts with principle and always in His own good time, and His righteousness and wisdom are behind all this. I’d imagined that God’s righteousness meant immediate retribution and that evildoers should be punished right away. But if things happened as I imagined, then how would God expose all kinds of people and allow His chosen ones to gain discernment? God actually allows antichrists and false leaders to arise in the Church in order to use these people to help us grow in life, to drive us to seek the truth and develop discernment. When we’re able to discern these people using the principles of the truth is when we understand and enter into the truth. When that happens, the antichrists and false leaders have served their purpose. Although some antichrists and false leaders were in positions of power in the church at that time and seemed able to control and deceive some people, Christ and the truth still reigned in the Church so they’d all be exposed and cast out sooner or later.
I also realized just how insidious and malicious antichrists’ nature is, totally devoid of humanity. They care only about prestige and status and not about God’s chosen at all. Whoever infringes on their interests becomes a thorn in their side. They’ll attack and take revenge on that person, not stopping until they’re done in. They behave exactly as the devil Satan does. Until antichrists are expelled, God’s chosen won’t have a moment’s rest to live the church life or do their duty. God had allowed this to happen to me so that I could really see from these people just how they deceived and harmed others, recognize their nature and essence, discern their heretical fallacies and escape their control and deception. God also wanted me to learn from their mistakes so that I wouldn’t take the wrong path. All this showed me God truly was arranging this situation to save and perfect me. As God’s words say: “With the service of many contrary and negative things, and by employing all sorts of Satan’s manifestations—its actions, its accusations, its disturbances and deceptions—God shows you Satan’s hideous face clearly, and thereby perfects your ability to distinguish Satan, that you may hate Satan and forsake it” (“Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I thank God for guiding me to understand His painstaking efforts and for leading me out from the dark.
In January 2015, I wrote another letter reporting Yan Zhuo. I waited anxiously again every day for God’s house to send someone to investigate her. But two months went by and I was still waiting for someone to come look into it. Our church leader came to question me repeatedly. “Have you got some problem with God or with God’s house?” I began to feel worried when she said that. I thought, “I wonder what will happen to me now that I’ve written this letter. I’m already being isolated so if anything else happens, I’m bound to be expelled from the Church.” I suddenly realized that I’d begun to doubt God’s righteousness again. I hurriedly came before God to pray, “Dear God, I verbally acknowledge Your righteousness and I believe Christ and the truth rule in God’s house. But when tested by time and facts, I see how little faith I have and that I still don’t truly understand Your righteousness. I wish now to let go of my interests and submit to Your arrangements. Please guide me to understand Your will.” I then read a passage of God’s words “For everyone who aspires to love God, there are no unobtainable truths and no justice for which they cannot stand firm. How should you live your life? How should you love God, and use this love to satisfy His desire? There is no greater matter in your life. Above all, you must have such aspirations and perseverance, and should not be like those who are spineless, those who are weaklings. You must learn how to experience a meaningful life and experience meaningful truths, and should not treat yourself perfunctorily in that way. Without you realizing it, your life will pass you by; after that, will you have another opportunity to love God? Can man love God after he is dead? You must have the same aspirations and conscience as Peter; your life must be meaningful, and you must not play games with yourself” (“The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words showed me that what He perfects is our yearning for the truth and righteousness, and our resolve to love God. No matter what hardships, setbacks, or attacks we encounter, we can’t retreat, but should live for God and the truth. We cannot bow to any force of Satan. Only then can we gain the truth and be perfected. I just didn’t possess that kind of resolve and willpower. Although I’d prayed and resolved to God to protect the work of His house and practice the truth, the moment I saw evil forces arising, I became afraid to be stifled and chickened out. I realized I still didn’t truly understand God’s righteousness and I only thought of myself when things happened. Something God said then came to mind: “The wicked will surely be punished.” “God’s words will be accomplished, and what He accomplishes lasts forever. Every evildoer will suffer the punishment of God’s righteousness. No matter how long it takes or how it happens, things will always turn out as God’s words say in the end.” So I thought, “I have to let go of my notions, forsake my deceitful satanic disposition, trust in God’s words and trust that God is righteous. I won’t bow to any force of Satan!” Once I’d realized this, I gradually calmed down and stopped worrying.
By April 2015, I was receiving letters from Leader Li and other leaders and workers about how Yan Zhuo had pulled the wool over their eyes, and how they had caused me great harm. They all apologized. In her letter, Leader Li admitted, “It wasn’t the senior leaders who accused you of severely disrupting church work, it was Yan Zhuo.” I knew then that Yan Zhuo had read both of my letters reporting her. To save her own skin, she’d been preparing evidence to get me expelled, but then some leaders and workers saw her issues, so they sent a joint letter to God’s house reporting her. As I read through all these letters, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I knelt before God and cried. I felt so indebted to God in that moment. I’d believed in God for so many years but had always seen His righteousness through the lens of my imagination. When issues cropped up, I tried to fit them into what I imagined, and when that didn’t work, I misunderstood and blamed God. But He disregarded my weakness and corruption and guided me through that most painful, unbearable time. This experience showed me that God was using this spiritual battle of discerning and reporting those false leaders to remedy my misguided notions and give me true understanding of His righteousness. I also came to realize that I was looking at everything God did through the lens of my imagination. I was actually blaspheming and delimiting God, and I offended His disposition. This experience showed me that God’s essence is righteous. Everything God says and does, whether it meets with people’s notions or not, is a revelation of His righteous disposition. Almighty God says, “God’s righteous disposition is God’s own true essence. It is not something written or shaped by man. His righteous disposition is His righteous disposition and has no relation or connection to anything of creation. God Himself is God Himself. He will never become a part of creation, and even if He becomes a member of the created beings, His inherent disposition and essence will not change. Therefore, knowing God is not the same as knowing an object; to know God is not to dissect something, nor is it the same as understanding a person. If man uses his concept or method of knowing an object or understanding a person to know God, then you will never be able to attain knowledge of God. Knowing God is not reliant on experience or imagination, and therefore you must never impose your experience or imagination on God; no matter how rich your experience and imagination may be, they are still limited. What is more, your imagination does not correspond to facts, and much less to the truth, and it is incompatible with God’s true disposition and essence. You will never succeed if you rely on your imagination to understand God’s essence. The only path is this: Accept all that comes from God, then gradually experience and understand it. There will be a day when God will enlighten you to truly understand and know Him because of your cooperation and because of your hunger and thirst for the truth” (“God Himself, the Unique II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
In May 2015, the antichrist Yan Zhuo was expelled from the Church for doing a great deal of evil. Her cronies and accomplices were also dealt with. When I read that notice of expulsion, I felt from the bottom of my heart how truly righteous God is! The truth and Christ rule in God’s house! Thank God!