5. A Wandering Heart Comes Home
By Novo, Philippines
My name is Novo, and I’m from the Philippines. I have followed my mom in her belief in God since I was little, and would go listen to sermons at church with my siblings. Although I had believed in the Lord for many years, I felt that I hadn’t undergone any change and that I was the same as an unbeliever. Within my heart I was constantly thinking about how to make more money, and about how to spend my days in comfort and enjoy the good life. On top of that, I would also go out drinking with my friends all the time, and the moment I had any spare cash I’d go gambling. I knew that doing these things was at odds with the Lord’s will—I would often pray to the Lord and confess my sins, and I would firmly resolve to Him that I would give up these bad habits and never sin again from that day on. But with the cajoling and enticement of my friends, I simply couldn’t control myself. And so it was that I became more and more degenerate, my heart grew farther and farther away from God, there was no longer any sincerity in my prayers. Every week I would just say a few simple prayers to get it over and done with. Sometimes I felt real despair as I knew that when the Lord returned He would judge each and every person based on their actions and behavior, and then whether they would go up to heaven or down to hell. I felt I was so degenerate that God would not forgive me again. I later married and had kids, and all I thought about was my wife and my children. I had pushed my faith to the back of my mind long before. In order to provide a better future for my children and to realize my desire to become rich, I decided to go work abroad, which is what brought me to Taiwan. After finding a job I still didn’t make any lifestyle changes. In my leisure time I would go with my workmates to drink and sing karaoke, living a life of revelry; I’d long since relegated my belief in God to the back of my mind.
In 2011, I worked as a welder in a factory in Taiwan. One day in 2012, a colleague in Taiwan learned that I was a Catholic, so she invited me to Mass at her church. One Sunday morning, she came to fetch me from the factory and took me to her friend’s house. It was there that I met Brother Joseph. He asked me, “Brother, do you believe in the second coming of the Lord Jesus?” I said that I did. He then asked me, “Do you know what work the Lord Jesus will do when He returns?” I replied, “I believe that when the Lord Jesus returns, He will sit upon a great white throne and judge mankind. Everyone will account for their sins kneeling before the judgment seat, and then the Lord will decide whether they are to go up to heaven or down into hell based on their actions and deeds.” Brother Joseph continued to ask me, “If we told you that the Lord Jesus has already come and is currently doing His work of judgment of the last days, thus fulfilling the prophecy that ‘judgment must begin at the house of God,’ would you believe this?” I was quite surprised when I heard him say this. I thought: “Has the Lord Jesus already returned? How is this possible? I haven’t seen the great white throne appear in the sky, and I haven’t seen the Lord descending on a white cloud. And yet he says that the Lord has returned to do His work of judgment, thus fulfilling the prophecy that ‘judgment must begin at the house of God.’ It makes sense. God’s wisdom is unfathomable to man, so I’d better keep seeking.” I then replied, “Brother, I wouldn’t dare say whether the Lord Jesus has or has not returned, so please fellowship this with me.” They then found a number of passages within the Bible concerning prophecies of the Lord’s return and His doing His work of judgment that they read to me. For instance, there was chapter 4, verse 17 in the First Epistle of Peter which says: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.” And also chapter 16, verses 12–13 in the Gospel of John: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come.” Brother Joseph said this “Spirit of truth” refers to the return of the Lord and His expressing the truth and doing His work of judgment. God of the last days has returned in the flesh as the Son of man. On the foundation of His work of redemption in the Age of Grace, He expresses the truth and does the stage of His work of judgment beginning with the house of God. In reality, this work of judgment is the work to thoroughly purify and save man. This precisely fulfills the Lord Jesus’ prophecies: “And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:47–48). “For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son…. And He has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man” (John 5:22–27). I listened attentively to the brother’s fellowship, and I believed that all these messages he was sharing with me were true because I believe that all the Lord’s prophecies have to be fulfilled, that they must come true.
Afterward, Brother Joseph read two passages of Almighty God’s word in “Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” to me: “The work of judgment is God’s own work, so it must naturally be carried out by God Himself; it cannot be done by man in His stead. Because judgment is the use of the truth to conquer humankind, there is no question that God would still appear in the incarnate image to perform this work among man. That is to say, Christ of the last days shall use the truth to teach people across the world and make all truths known to them. This is God’s work of judgment” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God). “Christ of the last days 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. All these different 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 about 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” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God).
After reading these words, Brother Joseph fellowshiped with me many truths regarding God’s work of judgment of the last days. I came to understand that God’s work is very practical and that it isn’t supernatural at all, that God’s work of judgment of the last days is not at all like I had imagined. I had imagined God placing a gigantic table in mid-air, with God sitting on a great white throne and all of mankind kneeling before Him. Then God would list our sins one by one in order to determine whether we were good or wicked, and would decide whether we went up to heaven or down to hell. Instead, God has become flesh and has come to the world to express the truth in a practical way, to judge man’s sins, and expose the truth of man’s corruption as well as his nature and essence. Brother Joseph went on in fellowship to tell us that our satanic dispositions, such as our arrogance and self-importance, our crookedness and cunning, and our selfishness and baseness, must all undergo God’s judgment before we can be purified. The ultimate outcome of God’s work of judgment is so that we may see our own filth and corruption, our ugliness and wickedness, and see our essence that defies and betrays God, that we may know that we have been corrupted so deeply by Satan, that we are filled with satanic dispositions, that we are the embodiment of Satan, and that we should perish. Only in this way can we come to hate and curse ourselves, and forsake Satan once and for all. Moreover, it is so that, within the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, we may come to know God’s righteous, holy and unoffendable disposition. We can then unconsciously develop a God-fearing heart, never again dare to recklessly disobey and defy God, and become able to forsake our flesh, and practice the truth. Once our life disposition has undergone change we will then be able to truly obey and worship God. And once we have gained various aspects of the truth expressed by God in the last days, we will then be thoroughly purified and saved by God, and qualified to be brought by God into His kingdom. Those who refuse to accept God’s work of judgment of the last days are incapable of gaining God’s purification—in the end they can only be eliminated by God’s work, and will have lost the opportunity to be saved and enter into the kingdom of heaven. Hearing Brother Joseph’s fellowship, I felt that God’s work to save man is so very true and practical!
I thought of how I had believed in the Lord for many years and although I often confessed my sins to the Lord and repented, I would then continue sinning, lying, cheating, being crooked and cunning, and would even often reveal my wildly self-important, arrogant and self-righteous satanic disposition. I was constantly living in a cycle of sinning and confessing, confessing and sinning—I was living in such pain. God has now come to do His work of judgment and purification of the last days, and this is sorely needed by corrupt mankind. Those who believe in the Lord and have had their sins absolved still need the purification of God’s work of judgment in the last days. The Bible says, “Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). The Lord is holy. If we only have our sins absolved, but our sinful nature and satanic dispositions are not purified, then at any moment we are still capable of sinning and defying God, of frequently complaining or even betraying God. How could we, filled with such defilement and corruption, be qualified to look upon the Lord’s face? Only then did I feel in my heart how very necessary God’s work of judgment in the last days is! It would be so unrealistic, so impractical if the Lord came and took everyone up into the air to meet Him in accordance with people’s notions and imaginings! Brother Joseph then fellowshiped with me his experiences and testimony of how he accepted God’s judgment and chastisement. I really felt that his fellowship contained the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit. Listening to it was very edifying, and I believed that the Lord Jesus must really have returned. I thus decided to seek and investigate God’s work of the last days so that I wouldn’t miss my chance to welcome the Lord’s coming.
Afterward, Brother Joseph gave me a copy of The Word Appears in the Flesh, and I was thrilled. When I got back to my dormitory that evening, I began to read God’s words and I read them all night long. I read these words of Almighty God: “Your mouths are filled with words of deceit and filth, of betrayal and arrogance. Never have you spoken words of sincerity to Me, no holy words, no words of submission to Me upon experiencing My word. What, in the end, is your faith like? There is nothing but desire and money in your hearts, and nothing but material things in your minds. Every day, you calculate how to get something from Me. Every day, you count how much wealth and how many material things you have gained from Me. Every day, you await ever more blessings to come down upon you so that you may enjoy, in greater quantities and of a higher standard, the things that may be enjoyed. It is not Me who is in your thoughts at each and every moment, nor the truth that comes from Me, but rather your husband or wife, your sons, daughters, and the things you eat and wear. You think of how you can gain ever greater, ever higher enjoyment. But even when you have filled your stomach to bursting, are you still not a corpse? Even when, outwardly, you adorn yourselves in such beautiful apparel, are you not still a walking corpse devoid of life? You toil for the sake of your stomach, until your hair is streaked with gray, yet none of you sacrifice a single hair for My work. You are constantly on the go, taxing your body and racking your brain, for the sake of your own flesh, and for your sons and daughters—yet not one of you shows any worry or concern for My will. What is it that you still hope to gain from Me?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Many Are Called, but Few Are Chosen).
What these words revealed was exactly the situation in my life, and they were how I truly felt in my heart. The words were like a double-edged sword that cut through into my numb heart. I knew that only God could examine man’s innermost heart, and only God could reveal the truth of mankind’s corruption as well as what’s hidden deep within man. I felt that these words were the Holy Spirit’s utterances, and they were God’s voice. From God’s words, I came to know that although I had believed in the Lord for many years and I often confessed and repented to the Lord, my sinful nature and satanic disposition had not been purified and had not changed at all. I was only acknowledging the Lord’s name, but there was no place for the Lord in my heart, nor did I expend myself or work for the Lord. I was constantly caught up in how to make more money, how to enhance my pleasures of the flesh, and how I could get my family to live more prosperously, never once concerning myself with God’s will. I even knew that I lied and sinned often but thought nothing of this. I had always believed that God was the forever loving, forever merciful God, and even if I sinned, He would absolve me of my sins, be merciful to me and bless me. Only after having read these utterances expressed by God in the last days did I see God’s righteous and holy disposition, and I knew that God’s disposition is something that no one may offend. The judgment and chastisement of God’s words gave rise to reverence for Him within me and I lamented my own past. I fell down before God and wept bitterly: “O God, I have rebelled against You, cheated You and defied You in many things, and I am unworthy to come before You. All I’ve done only merits punishment. O God, thank You for giving me the opportunity to repent and be saved. From now on, I shall do all in my power to pursue the truth, perform my duty well and repay Your love.” After I prayed, I made firm my resolution: I must accept God’s judgment and change my life of sinning and confessing; I must read God’s words more and contemplate them more so that I may understand more of the truth and have the strength to forsake my flesh, practice the truth and meet God’s will.
From that time on, I took The Word Appears in the Flesh with me to work so that I could read and contemplate God’s words during my work breaks. From Almighty God’s words, I saw how corrupt and rebellious my behavior and thoughts were. Later, I read these words of God that say: “Your prayer should proceed step by step, in line with the true state of your heart and the work of the Holy Spirit; you come to commune with God in accordance with His will and with what He requires of man. When you begin the practice of prayer, first give your heart to God. Do not attempt to grasp God’s will—only try to speak the words within your heart to God. When you come before God, speak in this way: ‘Oh God, only today do I realize that I used to disobey You. I am truly corrupt and despicable. I have only been wasting my life. From today I will live for You. I will live a life of meaning and will satisfy Your will. May Your Spirit always work in me, continuously illuminating and enlightening me. Let me bear strong and resounding testimony before You. Let Satan see Your glory, Your testimony, and the proof of Your triumph, manifest in us.’ When you pray in this way, your heart will be completely set free. Having prayed in this way, your heart will be closer to God, and if you can pray in this way often, the Holy Spirit will inevitably work in you” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Concerning the Practice of Prayer). Within God’s words, I found a path of practice to resolve my corrupt disposition, and I began to earnestly pray to God with a sincere heart, opening up to God about my corrupt disposition and telling God about what I hoped within my heart to achieve. I asked Him to guide me that I may live by His words. Through these kinds of prayers, I often felt that God was leading me and enlightening me, and my heart became filled with faith and strength. I no longer lived the way I had before, nor did I act any longer in accordance with those corrupt thoughts and ideas I had in my heart. My life had changed; it was no longer the degenerate life I had led before of sinning and confessing, but instead I was truly living before God, and I had gained God’s care and protection.
In July 2014, I returned to the Philippines, and only then did I become aware that God had also chosen many brothers and sisters in the Philippines. I was so happy. Now I fellowship God’s words with my brothers and sisters in the church, we live a life of the church, and we help and support one another. We all pursue the truth; we seek to change our dispositions and be saved by God. We also bear witness to Almighty God’s work of the last days to the people of our own country as well as to those of other countries so that they know that the Lord Jesus has already returned and they may, like us, gain God’s salvation of the last days. Thank Almighty God! I now live a very enriched and happy life. I have completely rid myself of the kind of degenerate, decadent life I had before. It is Almighty God who has led me to find my life goal and direction. I feel that this is the only way to live a life of meaning!