2. Amid the Trial of Death
Almighty God says, “God has come to work on earth in order to save corrupt mankind; there is no falsehood in this. If there were, He would certainly not have come to do His work in person. In the past, His means of salvation involved showing the utmost love and compassion, such that He gave His all to Satan in exchange for the whole of mankind. The present is nothing like the past: The salvation bestowed upon you today occurs at the time of the last days, during the classification of each according to kind; the means of your salvation is not love or compassion, but chastisement and judgment, in order that man may be more thoroughly saved. Thus, all that you receive is chastisement, judgment, and merciless smiting, but know this: In this heartless smiting there is not the slightest punishment. Regardless of how harsh My words might be, what befall you are but a few words that might appear utterly heartless to you, and no matter how angry I might be, what rain upon you are still words of teaching, and I do not mean to harm you or put you to death. Is this not all fact? Know that nowadays, whether it be righteous judgment or heartless refinement and chastisement, everything is for the sake of salvation. Regardless of whether today each is classified according to kind or the categories of man are laid bare, the purpose of all of God’s words and work is to save those who truly love God. Righteous judgment is brought to purify man, and heartless refinement is done to cleanse them; harsh words or chastening are both done to purify and are for the sake of salvation” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. You Should Put Aside the Blessings of Status and Understand God’s Will to Bring Salvation to Man). God’s words really move me and make me think of the unforgettable experience I had over 20 years ago during the trial of death. I truly came to appreciate that God’s judgment and chastisement are His love and salvation for man. No matter how harsh or upsetting God’s words may be, they are only to cleanse and transform us.
It was February 1992. After the trial of the service-doers, God raised us up to be people of the Age of Kingdom and He gave us His requirements: focus on reading His words and putting them into practice, seek to know God, bear witness to God through trials and achieve the standard of the people of the kingdom as soon as possible. Back then, God’s words often mentioned “the people of My household” and “the people of My kingdom.” These words always made me feel like God saw us as His own family. I had such a sense of warmth and encouragement, so I strived to be one of God’s people. I pray-read God’s words and pondered His will from His words. I did my duty as best I could and resolved to follow God all my life. I was 22 years old. The guys my age were mostly married with kids by then. My unbelieving family kept trying to find me a wife, but I turned them all down.
I used to really love singing “Kingdom Anthem,” especially this bit: “In the sound of the kingdom’s salute, Satan’s kingdom topples down, annihilated in the thundering of the kingdom anthem, never to rise again!” “Who on the earth dares to rise and resist? As God descends to earth, He brings burning, brings wrath, brings catastrophes of all kinds. The earthly kingdoms are now God’s kingdom!” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs, Kingdom Anthem (I) The Kingdom Descends Upon the World). I would think of how God’s kingdom will manifest on earth, and when God’s work is finished, the great disasters will come and everyone who opposes God will be destroyed. We who follow God, however, will survive and God will lead us into the kingdom to enjoy everlasting blessings. It was so wonderful to think of all this. Back then, I thought that accepting Almighty God’s name and being raised up to join the kingdom’s people meant that getting into God’s kingdom in this life was a done deal that no one could take from me. I was incredibly thrilled. Our spirits were revived and we were filled with joy. We expended ourselves for God tirelessly.
But God is righteous and holy, He sees into our very hearts, and He knows the notions, imaginings, and wild desires we harbor. Just when we were filled with hope that we’d get into the kingdom and revel in God’s blessings, in late April, God uttered new words, ushering us all into the trial of death.
One day, a church leader held a gathering and read God’s words: “Whilst people are dreaming, I travel the countries of the world spreading the ‘odor of death’ in My hands among man. All people immediately leave behind vitality and enter the next tier of human life. Amongst mankind, no longer can any living things be seen, corpses are scattered everywhere, things that are filled with vitality immediately disappear without a trace, and the suffocating smell of corpses pervades the land. … Today, here, the corpses of all people lie about in disarray. Without people knowing, I release the pestilence in My hands, and the bodies of man decay, leaving not a trace of flesh from head to toe, and I go far away from man. Never again will I congregate with man, never again will I come among man, for the final stage of My entire management has come to an end, and I will not create mankind again, will not pay any heed to man again. After reading the words from My mouth, people all lose hope, for they do not want to die—but who does not ‘die’ for the sake of ‘coming alive’? When I tell people I lack the magic to make them come alive, they burst out crying in pain; indeed, although I am the Creator, I only have the power to make people die, and lack the capability to make them come alive. In this, I apologize to man. Thus, I told man in advance that ‘I owe him an unpayable debt’—yet he thought I was being polite. Today, with the advent of the facts, I still say this. I will not betray the facts when I speak. In their notions, people believe there are too many ways by which I speak, and so they always clutch the words I give them whilst hoping for something else. Are these not the erroneous motivations of man? It is under these circumstances that I dare to ‘boldly’ say that man does not truly love Me. I would not turn My back on conscience and distort the facts, for I would not take people into their ideal land; in the end, when My work finishes, I shall lead them to the land of death” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Words to the Entire Universe, Chapter 40). When I read “although I am the Creator, I only have the power to make people die, and lack the capability to make them come alive,” I felt so confused. “Why would God say such a thing?” I thought. “Man’s life and death are in God’s hands. Why say He lacks the ‘capability’ to make man come alive? Will we believers really still die in the end? We’re the people of the kingdom, so how could we die? It can’t be! But God wouldn’t joke with us. His words clearly state, ‘When My work finishes, I shall lead them to the land of death.’ Doesn’t that mean we’ll end up facing death? What is this all about?” I just couldn’t figure out why God would say such a thing. The other brothers and sisters around me looked like they were at a loss, too. The church leader then gave us fellowship: “Our flesh has been so deeply corrupted by Satan. It’s filled with satanic dispositions. We are arrogant, deceitful, selfish, and greedy, and we still lie and cheat all the time. We may believe in God and expend ourselves for Him, but we can’t put His words into practice. We still judge and blame Him when trials and tribulations come. This shows that our flesh is of Satan and resistant to God. God’s disposition is righteous, holy, and unoffendable. How could He let people who belong to Satan enter His kingdom? So when His work finishes, the great disasters will come, and if we as believers haven’t gained the truth, if our life dispositions haven’t changed, then we will still die.”
Hearing this fellowship from the leader, I was flooded with emotions and didn’t know how I was supposed to feel. I felt like heaven had suddenly come crashing down—I was in shock. Confusion and resentment filled my mind, and I thought, “As the last generation, aren’t we the most blessed? God has raised us up to be the people of the Age of Kingdom. We’re the pillars of God’s kingdom. How could we die at the very end? I gave up my youth and hopes of marriage to follow God. I’ve run around, expended myself for God, and suffered a lot. I’ve been arrested and persecuted by the CCP, mocked and slandered by unbelievers. Why must I still die at the very end? Has all my suffering been in vain?” Thinking this hurt a lot. I felt a great weight bearing down on me and I could hardly breathe. I noticed everyone around me was feeling the same way. Some were quietly crying, while others buried their faces in their hands and wailed. After the gathering, my mother said with a sigh, “I’m over 60 years old, and I’ve accepted death. But you’re so young, your life has just started….” Hearing her say this upset me even more and I couldn’t hold back the tears. I tossed and turned in bed that night, unable to sleep a wink. I just couldn’t figure it out. I’d expended myself so ardently for God and given up everything to follow Him, so why did I have to die in the great disasters? I really couldn’t accept it, so I began thumbing through God’s words hoping to find a clue, to see whether our outcomes could be changed. But I didn’t find the answers I wanted. Dumbfounded, I thought, “Looks as though God really has condemned us and our deaths are certain. No one can change it. It’s what Heaven has decreed.”
Over the next few days, I felt really low. I was barely audible when I spoke and didn’t want to do anything. I always used to work extra-long hours transcribing God’s words until my hand hurt, but it never bothered me. I just wanted the brothers and sisters to read God’s new utterances as soon as possible, but that sense of responsibility was now gone. My blazing hot fervor had suddenly cooled. When I transcribed God’s words now, I would think, “I’m still young and haven’t enjoyed the blessings of the kingdom of heaven yet. I really don’t want to die like this!” I started to cry as I thought it all through. My heart was heavy during that time, and hurt just as if a knife had been put through it. The world had lost its savor for me. I felt as though the great disasters could come at any minute, and I didn’t know when I was going to die. I felt like the world had ended.
Later, I read God’s words and gained some self-knowledge, then slowly, over time, I felt free. I read this in God’s words: “Today, at the time of advancing toward the gate of the kingdom, all people start forging ahead—but when they arrive before the gate, I close the gate, I shut people outside, and demand that they show their entry passes. Such an odd move is completely counter to people’s expectations, and they are all astonished. Why has the gate—which has always been wide open—suddenly been shut tight today? People stamp their feet and pace about. They imagine that they can worm their way in, but when they hand Me their false entry passes, I cast them into the pit of fire there and then, and seeing their own ‘painstaking efforts’ in flames, they lose hope. They clutch their heads, crying, watching the beautiful scenes within the kingdom but unable to enter. Yet I do not let them in because of their piteous state—who may upset My plan as they please? Are the blessings of the future given in exchange for people’s zeal? Does the meaning of human existence lie in entering My kingdom as one pleases? … I have long since lost faith in man and I have long since lost hope in people, for they lack ambition, they have never been able to give Me a heart that loves God, and always give Me their motivations instead. I have said much to man, and since people still ignore My advice today, I tell them of My view in order to prevent them misunderstanding My heart in the future; whether they live or die in the times to come is their business; I have no control over this. I hope they find their own path to survival. I am powerless in this” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Words to the Entire Universe, Chapter 46). “When people are ready to sacrifice their lives, everything becomes trifling, and no one can get the better of them. What could be more important than life? Thus, Satan becomes incapable of doing any more in people, there is nothing it can do with man. Although, in the definition of the ‘flesh’ it is said that the flesh is corrupted by Satan, if people truly give themselves over, and are not driven by Satan, then no one can get the better of them—and at this moment, the flesh will perform its another function, and begin to formally receive the direction of the Spirit of God. This is a necessary process, it must happen step-by-step; if not, God would have no means of working in the stubborn flesh. Such is the wisdom of God” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Interpretations of the Mysteries of “God’s Words to the Entire Universe”, Chapter 36). I was so distressed as I contemplated God’s words. Wasn’t I feeling that negative and pained because I feared death and desired blessings too much? In the early days, I’d believed in God for blessings and to get into the kingdom of heaven. Though I’d been through the trial of the service-doers, and could let go of my desire for blessings a little and was resolved to do service for God, my deceitful and evil satanic nature was deeply rooted. Once God made us His people, my heart once again leapt in anticipation. I thought I’d surely be able to get into the kingdom of heaven this time. I thought that by accepting God’s name, being raised up by God to be one of the kingdom’s people, giving everything up, and expending myself, then of course I would get into the kingdom of heaven. It was a dead cert. When God’s work smashed my notions and took away my prospects and destination, I became weak and negative and complained to God. I even regretted the sacrifices I’d made in the past. I saw that all my efforts had been to get the blessings of the kingdom of heaven in return. Hadn’t I been making deals with God, cheating Him and using Him? I revealed nothing but rebelliousness and complaints in the face of every trial. I wanted to obey Him but couldn’t, and I couldn’t practice truths I knew well. I realized that I was resistant to God by nature, that I was of Satan. Someone like me, so filled with satanic dispositions, should die and be destroyed. I was totally unfit to enter God’s kingdom. This was determined by His righteous disposition. Having had the chance to follow God and know His righteous disposition meant that my life had not been wasted! I then said a prayer to God: “I don’t want to live for my flesh anymore, but wish to submit to Your rule and arrangements. Whatever my end turns out to be, even if I die, I will still praise Your righteousness.” When I stopped thinking about my end and destination and wished to obey God’s arrangements even at the cost of my own life, I felt a wonderful sense of release.
But at that time, although we were able to obey and follow God regardless of our outcome, we didn’t have a goal to pursue. But in May 1992, God expressed more words, telling us to seek to love God while alive and to live out meaningful lives. God had ushered us into the time of loving God, and the trial of death was over. Through reading God’s words, gathering and fellowshiping, I realized that although man’s fate is in God’s hands and no one can escape death, God’s will isn’t for us to face death negatively. He wants us to seek to love Him while we are alive, to be able to practice the truth, cast off our corrupt dispositions, and be fully saved. Only then will we be fit to enter His kingdom. I finally understood that by leading us into the trial of death, God wasn’t leading us to our deaths, but revealing His righteous disposition to us. He did this so we could understand who He saves, who He destroys, and who is fit to enter His kingdom. I also saw just how corrupted by Satan I was and was able to let go of my notions, imaginings, and my desire for blessings. I became able to submit to God’s rule and arrangements and really started pursuing the truth. This was God’s salvation for me! I saw even more that God doesn’t judge and chastise people because He hates us or wants to torment us, but to lead us onto the right path of pursuing the truth and being saved! Everything God does in us is not by the advent of facts. He gets results simply by expressing words that judge, chastise, test and refine us. God’s work is so wise and His love and salvation for man are so real!