26. Opening the Door to My Heart and Welcoming the Lord’s Return
By Yongyuan, United States
In November of 1982, our whole family emigrated to the USA. We had all had faith in the Lord since my grandfather’s generation, so we found a Chinese church in New York’s Chinatown soon after arriving in the United States so we could attend mass. We never missed a single mass, and my mother and sister were especially good about reading the scriptures whenever they had time in order to seek God’s blessing and protection. The priest would often say: “When the Lord comes, He will judge people publicly and divide them into categories: Those who truly repent and confess and practice their faith will be able to go to heaven; those who commit minor sins but not grave ones will suffer the torment of purgatory, but they will still be able to be saved and ascend to heaven; those who do not believe in God or commit sins that are too grave will suffer the punishment of hell.” These words left a deep impression on my heart, just as if they had been branded there. They spurred me to believe in God enthusiastically, and no matter how busy I was, I never failed to go to mass.
In seemingly no time at all, 2014 arrived. One day, a parishioner told me out of the blue, “Your sister now believes in Almighty God….” And he said many things besides, slandering and condemning Almighty God and The Church of Almighty God. Hearing this unexpected news, I felt very anxious, and became very worried that my sister had gone astray. The news of my sister having accepted the work of Almighty God in the last days quickly spread throughout the whole church. The priest exhorted me to keep my distance from her, and there were several other church members who also said a number of things slandering and condemning Almighty God to my face. After the father and other parishioners “helped” me a number of times, I started to believe their words and determined that my sister had gone astray. I told the father and the parishioners that I wouldn’t listen to my sister anymore, and that if given the opportunity, I would try to bring her back into the fold so she could repent to the Lord. I called my brothers after I got home, and they stood by me. We all tried persuading my sister together, but not only was she resolute in her faith in Almighty God, but she also bore witness to us that Almighty God is the returned Lord. She tried to persuade us to accept God’s work in the last days so that we wouldn’t miss our opportunity to attain God’s salvation. But my heart had already been filled with negative ideas that were instilled in me by the father and parishioners. No matter how my sister fellowshiped with me or how she bore witness, I just would not listen.
Later, my mother and I had several arguments with my sister because of her belief in Almighty God, but no matter what she said, I continued to believe the father and the rumors I had read on the Internet, never daring to seek or investigate the work of Almighty God. There was never any resolution to our arguments, but I realized that my mother was gradually starting to agree with my sister’s fellowship and testimony. She actually formed a “united front” with my sister and ultimately accepted the work of Almighty God in the last days. Seeing this, I started to get worried. If things really were as the father and parishioners claimed, what if something happened to my family? Desperate, I went to find Sister Qianhe who was on good terms with both my sister and me, and got her to try and persuade my mother and sister. But not only did she fail to persuade them, but she herself also came to believe in Almighty God. This was very puzzling for me: This sister was upstanding and she was an enthusiastic seeker, so how could it be that she wasn’t able to persuade them, but actually came to believe in Almighty God herself? Does the word of Almighty God really possess so much power? Could it be that the word of Almighty God really can provide sustenance for human life? However, as soon as I thought of the words of the father and parishioners attacking Almighty God as well as what I had seen online opposing and condemning The Church of Almighty God, I once again felt fear in my heart and didn’t come into contact with them anymore. After that, I rarely went to see my mother. I would occasionally go just to pay a visit and then leave in a hurry, and I refused to listen to the fellowship of my mother and sister. This “cold war” with my mother and sister went on like this for a year and a half.
One day in March of 2016, I heard that some prominent members of the church had also gone to persuade my sister, so I wanted to go see whether or not she had had a change of heart. When I saw her, I asked her about what she thought. She said to me, “I have caught up with the footsteps of the Lamb and affirmed that the way of Almighty God is the true way. Almighty God is the returned Lord and I absolutely will not depart from Him.” My sister’s steady gaze and resounding, strong answer made my heart waver somewhat and aroused my curiosity. I thought: Out of the believers in our family, my sister was the most ardent seeker, and within the church Sister Qianhe was also someone who was a seeker and possessed discernment. My mother, too, had always had firm faith in the Lord. Now, they were all believers in Almighty God, and their faith had grown all the more after following Him. They spoke with more and more insight and no one could shake or refute them. What power was it that could allow them to maintain such great faith in the face of the opposition of so many? Could the work of Almighty God in the last days really be the true way? Could Almighty God really be the second coming of the Lord? It had been nearly two years since my sister, Sister Qianhe, and my mother had accepted the work of Almighty God, but when I saw that everything was going fine for them, I could see that the alarmism and scare tactics of the father and what I had read online had not come true in their case…. Realizing this, my heart softened a bit and I also wanted to investigate the word and work of Almighty God. I shared my thoughts with my sister. She agreed very happily and invited me to my mother’s house so that a sister from The Church of Almighty God could fellowship with me and bear witness to Almighty God’s work in the last days.
I drove to my mother’s house that weekend. My sister, Sister Qianhe, and Zhang Xiao, a sister from The Church of Almighty God, were all there. Sister Qianhe was particularly happy when she heard that I wanted to seek and investigate. She fellowshiped with me: “The main reason for God coming in the last days is to express the word and do the work of judging and cleansing people in order to save us from the bondage of sin. At present, those in the Age of Grace are living in a cycle of committing and then confessing sin. Even though we persevere in attending mass and reading the scriptures, as well as confessing to the father, we still continue to lie and deceive, and to live within our corrupt dispositions such as arrogance, greed, and selfishness. In spite of ourselves, we commit sins and resist God, and there is no one who is able to break free of the bondage of this sinful nature, nor anyone able to attain to purity and holiness by relying on confession and repentance. That is why we still need to accept the work God has come to do in the last days of judging and cleansing people. Only by doing so can we completely break free from the bondage of sin, be cleansed and transformed, and attain salvation from God.” Hearing this, I asked in confusion: “The father often says: ‘If people commit minor sins, then when the Lord returns to openly judge people, once they complete their suffering in purgatory they will be able to ascend to heaven. Those who commit major sins will go straight to hell to be punished.’ How can you say that the work of judgment God will do upon His return is to cleanse and save people?” Sister Qianhe said: “I too used to believe the words of the father. I had the same notions as you about how the Lord will return to do the work of judgment, but thinking about it now, does what the father says actually accord with the Bible? Is it based on the word of God? Did the Lord Jesus say that there is a purgatory? Did He say anything about people who commit minor sins being able to ascend to heaven after concluding their suffering in purgatory, and that only those who commit major sins go to hell? Of course not! So where have these words come from? They have obviously come out of people’s notions and imaginations, and are just man’s speculation and conjecture. They do not accord whatsoever with the words of God, nor do they accord with the reality of God’s work. What use is it for us to uphold this?” Listening to her fellowship, I nodded in silence. She continued: “At present, all of us are filled with sin, and there is no one who is pure. Based on what the father said, when the Lord returns to publicly judge all peoples, those who commit minor sins will go to purgatory whereas those who commit major sins will go to hell. In that case, wouldn’t we all be condemned and suffer the punishment of going to hell? Wouldn’t God’s work of saving mankind be all for naught? Would there be any meaning in the Lord’s coming?” What the sister fellowshiped touched my heart. It’s true—even if we believe in God, if all we do is constantly commit sins and then confess them, no one will be cleansed. Indeed, no one will be fit to see God, and if God has come to openly judge, condemn, and punish people, then everyone will have to go to hell. No one could attain salvation…. It was only then that I realized how unrealistic the words are that “when the Lord comes again to openly judge all peoples, those who commit major sins will go directly to hell whereas those who commit minor sins will go into purgatory, and after completing their suffering there will ascend into heaven.” It is not at all in keeping with God’s will to save mankind. Sister Qianhe then said: “As for God’s work of judgment in the last days, let us all take a look at how it is described in the word of Almighty God! Almighty God says: ‘God has not come to kill or destroy, but to judge, curse, chastise, and save. Until His 6,000-year management plan comes to a close—before He reveals the outcome of each category of man—God’s work on earth will be for the sake of salvation; its purpose is purely to make those who love Him complete—thoroughly so—and to bring them into submission under His dominion. No matter how God saves people, it is all done by making them break away from their old satanic nature; that is, He saves them by having them seek life. If they do not do so, then they will have no way to accept God’s salvation’ (“You Should Put Aside the Blessings of Status and Understand God’s Will to Bring Salvation to Man” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). ‘In the last days, Christ uses a variety of truths to teach man, to expose the substance of man, and to dissect the words and deeds of man. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the substance of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, the words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan, and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth of which man is utterly bereft. Only methods such as these can be called judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced into submission to God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God. What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt essence and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the essence of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him. This work is the work of judgment done by God’ (“Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).”
After reading the word of God, Sister Zhang Xiao gave fellowship, saying, “The word of Almighty God makes the significance of the work of judgment in the last days, the exact nature of judgment, and the outcomes of the work of judgment among man entirely clear. God’s work of judgment is not to kill or punish people like in our notions and imaginations. Instead, this work makes use of the word to expose people’s thoughts, speech, and actions, to root out our deeply-entrenched satanic nature and corrupt dispositions that resist God. It allows us to recognize the truth of how we have been corrupted by Satan while also allowing us to know God’s righteous and holy disposition. When we get an understanding of these things, we begin to hate ourselves, and this produces true repentance and a true heart of reverence for God. Through the judgment of the word of God we can better understand and gain access to the truth, and naturally live relying on the truth. This way, whatever satanic things we hold within will gradually be cast away, and we will be able to be in harmony with God. From then on we will no longer rebel against or resist God, but will be able to truly obey Him—only this is attaining salvation. After being corrupted by Satan, we no longer have the likeness of a human and we lose the conscience and reason that a proper person ought to have. Instead, we are filled with arrogance, self-assuredness, selfishness, and other aspects of a satanic disposition. Our attitudes and notions toward things are also no longer compatible with God. For example: When faced with God’s work of judgment in the last days, we all have different things that we accept and we all cling to our own notions regardless of whether there is a basis in God’s word. We do not seek God’s will, but blindly believe that our own way of thinking is correct. When God’s work doesn’t conform to our notions and imagination, we make our own judgments about God, and we deny, attack, and condemn Him. This is the result of our arrogant disposition. With such a satanic nature we are all too prone to resisting God, so we are in urgent need of God coming to carry out a stage of the work of judgment, and of Him cleansing and transforming our satanic disposition. Without that, no one will be able to break free of corruption and attain salvation.”
After listening to the word of Almighty God and the fellowship of this sister, my heart suddenly became clear and open, and I felt that this was very well put. Although there were some things I didn’t quite understand, it still gave me a sense of the wisdom within God’s work as well as how much love God has for man. In the past, when it came to God coming to judge mankind, I thought that people would either go to hell or suffer the torment of purgatory. In fact, God’s work of judgment is not at all what we imagined, but rather, it is God coming in the flesh to practically express the truth and carry out the work of judgment. This is how He cleanses and saves people. God’s work of judgment is so full of meaning. It is exactly what we corrupt mankind needs!
While I was listening to all this with keen interest, my husband suddenly called to say he wanted to use the car. Seeing that this time I was able to hear all of this, just as I was about to leave my mother gave me a book called The Scroll Opened by the Lamb and said that the words within it were the voice of God Himself. She also strongly advised me to read the word of Almighty God. After going back home, I would read that book whenever I had time. Through reading the word of Almighty God, I understood many truths and gained quite a lot of knowledge. At the same time, I also truly experienced God’s scrutiny of the depths of men’s souls. Every word of Almighty God pierced me straight through the heart, revealing my inner corrupt nature. Sometimes when I saw how the word of God reveals our corruption, I felt how He particularly loathes it. It seemed that God is expressing His anger with us, and my numb and unfeeling heart was stirred immediately. I developed awe for God in my heart, and I was no longer like I had been before, when I had committed sins without fear. Through many experiences and the enlightenment and guidance of God’s words, I saw that Almighty God’s work of judgment could indeed save people from sin and allow them to break away from sin. How practical are God’s work and words! I felt great remorse when I thought back on how I had resisted God’s work of the last days over the last two years. I hated myself for being so foolish and ignorant, not seeking to understand or investigating a matter as great as the second coming of the Lord. But no, I listened blindly to those rumors, I shut God out, I condemned God, and I resisted God. I nearly missed the Lord’s salvation in the last days. I really was so blind! I saw clearly that the slander, judgments, and blasphemy against Almighty God and the defamation of The Church of Almighty God were all just falsehoods from Satan. Those are tricks used by Satan particularly to confuse and entrap people, and hinder them from accepting God’s work in the last days. No longer will I believe in the falsehoods of Satan. No matter what I encounter or hear in the future, I will always judge right from wrong according to the word of God and reality. I will no longer listen to Satan’s lies and deceit—only in so doing can one be in accord with the will of God. With this in mind, I sincerely gave thanks to Almighty God for the mercy and salvation He has provided to me. God did not give up on saving me because of my rebellion and resistance, but continued to arrange for people to spread the gospel to me and bring me back into the house of God. How great is God’s love! Every time I hear the lyrics of the music video Song of Heartfelt Attachment, which go: “Here is One, He is God in the flesh. What He says, what He does, all is the truth. His wisdom, His righteousness, I love them all. Meeting Him, obeying Him, I am so blessed,” my heart is particularly touched and inspired. I feel how fortunate I am to welcome the return of the Lord and to encounter the word of God directly. What a great blessing this is!
I later started participating in the church life of The Church of Almighty God. Brothers and sisters sing hymns, dance, and give praise to God together. They read the word of God, and if there is any corruption to reveal open up their hearts and have fellowship on it. Everyone discusses their knowledge and experience of the word of Almighty God and seeks a path of practice and entering in. This kind of life in the church is particularly liberating and I gain great sustenance from it. I have truly realized that only such a church in which the Holy Spirit is at work can be the house of God. This is where I belong. I am now entirely determined that Almighty God is the second coming of the Lord, and I am determined to follow Almighty God to the very end!