10. I’ve Witnessed God’s Appearance
By Martin, South Korea
I used to be part of a Korean Presbyterian church. Everyone in my family became believers when my daughter fell ill. After that, she started improving day by day. I was incredibly grateful for the Lord Jesus’ mercy. I swore I’d faithfully follow the Lord from then on, work hard to be the sort of person He requires and brings Him joy. I never missed a church service, no matter how busy I was with work, I was always giving alms and offerings, and actively participated in church activities. Most of my time went into reading the Bible and participating in church activities, and I hardly ever went to dinner parties and get-togethers organized by my relatives, friends, colleagues and such. They got frustrated with me for that. When I stopped drinking alcohol and smoking after becoming a believer, and didn’t go party with them anymore, some of my friends often taunted me, saying things like, “You love going to church so much, so tell us, what does going to church every day do for you? What’s the point of this faith of yours?” To tell the truth, barraged with question after question, I didn’t really know what to say. But it was because of their questions that I started to really ponder: What is my faith really for? Is it to ask God to cure my daughter, or to keep my family well? Is having faith just reading the Bible and going to church every day? I really didn’t know. I brought these questions to the clergy of my church. Their responses were all pretty much the same: Our faith is for the grace of the Lord’s salvation, and when He returns He’ll take us up into heaven for eternal life. That sort of response seemed to resolve my confusion, but it brought up another question: Then how do I get into heaven? They told me, “Romans 10:10 says, ‘For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.’ This means our sins are forgiven by the Lord, so we’re saved by faith, and the Lord will take us straight up into the kingdom when He returns. So, you don’t need to worry about getting into heaven as long as you have faith.” I thought of the Bible verse: “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). God is holy, and He requires us to become holy, but I was living in sin and couldn’t put His words into practice. How was I worthy of the kingdom? The Lord Jesus told us: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like to it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39). But in daily life, just that simple requirement to love was something I couldn’t do, no matter how hard I tried. I loved my family much more than I loved the Lord, and I couldn’t truly love others like myself. When my friends and relatives made fun of me, I resented them for it, instead of being tolerant and patient. I also thought of Hebrews 10:26 that says: “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins.” I knew what the Lord required but I couldn’t carry it out. I kept living in sin, so I didn’t see how my outcome would be any different from unbelievers’. This made me think that getting into the kingdom couldn’t be as simple as the clergy said, but I still didn’t know how I could enter heaven and gain eternal life. I still didn’t have a path. I kept asking the clergy and my church friends questions, but none of them had a clear answer. They just asked me why I was asking these weird questions, and said this is how people have practiced faith for ages. I was still just as puzzled as always, so I decided to reread all four of the Gospels, thinking that there must be an answer in the Lord Jesus’ words.
One day in 2008, I read these verses: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25–26). These verses puzzled me when I read them. Why would the Lord say that we should live and believe in Him? As believers, weren’t we all alive and believing in Him? Would the Lord see us as dead for some reason? It brought up lots of questions for me. For a while, I spent every spare moment puzzling over this, but I never could figure out its true meaning. I went to the clergy and other church members again with my questions, and not only did they not have an answer, but had a laugh at my expense. But I kept on feeling like there was some deeper meaning hidden in what the Lord said.
Then one time I read this in the Gospel of Matthew: “And another of His disciples said to Him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said to him, Follow Me; and let the dead bury their dead” (Matthew 8:21–22). When I saw the phrase “let the dead bury their dead,” I was a little confused. Why would the Lord call people dead, who were alive at the time? Did the Lord see us as living, or as dead? I thought of the Bible saying the wages of sin is death. I was living in sin, and was that what the Lord meant by “the dead”? If so, how could I come to life, and how could I get into the kingdom? My heart was full of questions that I couldn’t make heads or tails of. But deep down I was clear on one thing: Since the Lord said these things, the answer must be in the Bible somewhere. So I didn’t lose faith, but kept looking for the answer.
Thanks to the Lord’s guidance, a few months later, I read another thing He said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:25). It immediately became clear to me that the dead come back to life when they hear God’s voice. I was certain that this was the answer I’d been looking for! But I was still a little confused, thinking that I’d heard the Lord’s voice a long time ago, but I still wasn’t free from the bonds of sin. Did I count as living? What was “they that hear shall live” really referring to? How do people come to life? Was the Lord going to have more to say when He returned that we needed to hear? And if so, how could we hear God’s voice? Where could we hear it? I couldn’t figure it out, so I prayed to the Lord, “Oh Lord, please let me hear Your voice as soon as possible. I don’t want to be dead. Please help me live.”
After that, when I went to church services, I started to pay attention to whether the pastors ever said anything about the Lord’s return or the Lord’s voice in their sermons. I was really disappointed that all they did was tell us to guard against heresy, and to watch and wait, but said nothing at all about the Lord’s return. I also asked some of the key people in charge of the church about these things, but they said my constantly asking these questions was from a lack of faith, that I was just like Thomas. They started ostracizing me. Then other church members that I’d always gotten along with started distancing themselves, and some excluded me. I ended up leaving that church that I’d been a part of for 18 years. I was watching programs from the major Christian networks all day long, hoping to hear God’s voice from the sermons of famous pastors. I did this for nearly six months, watching 10 hours or more of these programs practically every day, but I still didn’t find the answers I wanted. The pastors were just saying that the Lord was going to return very soon and we should watch and wait. But I was overflowing with questions. The Lord was about to return, but when? And why hadn’t we welcomed Him yet? I was constantly praying to the Lord in those days, saying, “Lord! I’ve been waiting for You all this time, hoping so much to welcome You in my lifetime, to hear Your voice. Oh Lord, when are You coming? Please let me hear Your voice.”
One day in March of 2013, at the entrance to our building, an elderly man who looked like he was 70 something walked toward me, asking me if I wanted to subscribe to a Chosun Ilbo newspaper. I was really dismissive, thinking that now that everyone has cellphones and computers, who reads the newspaper? So I turned him down pretty summarily. But for several days every time he saw me, he kept asking me to subscribe. I kept turning him down. But to my surprise, I ran into that same man a month later by the elevator. It was as if he’d been waiting for me. When he saw me, he smiled and said hello, then asked me to subscribe. I was wondering why this man had been trying to sell me a newspaper for so long. Trying to be nice, I did end up buying a subscription, but for various reasons, I didn’t have time to read it for a while. Then one morning in early May after the paper had come, I grabbed it and quickly scanned the headlines like I always did. And there was one that really jumped out at me. It said, “The Lord Jesus Has Returned—Almighty God Has Expressed Words in the Age of Kingdom.” I was shocked—what? The Lord has returned? Almighty God? The Age of Kingdom? Could that really be true? I had a whole tangle of emotions at the time—I was really worked up. I finally found news of the Lord’s return. But then I wondered if it could be fake news. I looked at the bottom of the page and saw a number and address for The Church of Almighty God, and some names of books from the Church. I felt like it was important to carefully look into this, because the Lord’s return is a really big deal. I called the number I’d found on the paper right away. I heard the voice of a sister answer the call and I asked her eagerly, “Can I ask, is what’s printed in this paper really true? Has the Lord returned? Are these words really words from God?” She said, “It’s true.”
Sisters Kathy and Zena from The Church of Almighty God set up a time to gather with me and they fellowshiped with me on God’s three stages of work. Kathy said, “Ever since Adam and Eve were corrupted by Satan, man has been living in sin, under Satan’s forces, toyed with and hurt by Satan. God has done three stages of work to fully save mankind from Satan’s sway, which are the Age of Law, the Age of Grace, and the Age of Kingdom. These are three different stages of work, but they’re all done by the same God. Each stage of God’s work is based on what’s needed for corrupt humanity, and each one is built upon the previous one, to perform more profound and elevated work.” Then she read a passage of Almighty God’s words: “The six-thousand-year management plan is divided into three stages of work. No one stage alone can represent the work of the three ages, but only one part of a whole. The name Jehovah cannot represent the whole of God’s disposition. The fact that He carried out His work in the Age of Law does not prove that God can only be God under the law. Jehovah set forth laws for man and handed down commandments to him, asking man to build the temple and the altars; the work He did represents only the Age of Law. This work that He did does not prove that God is only a God who asks man to keep the law, or that He is the God in the temple, or that He is the God before the altar. To say this would be untrue. The work done under the law can only represent one age. Therefore, if God only did the work in the Age of Law, then man would confine God within the following definition, saying, ‘God is the God in the temple, and, in order to serve God we must put on priestly robes and enter the temple.’ If the work in the Age of Grace had never been carried out and the Age of Law had continued until the present, man would not know that God is also merciful and loving. If the work in the Age of Law had not been done, and instead only the work in the Age of Grace, then all man would know is that God can only redeem man and forgive man’s sins. Man would know only that He is holy and innocent, and that for man’s sake He is able to sacrifice Himself and be crucified. Man would know only these things but have no understanding of anything else. Each age therefore represents one part of God’s disposition. As for which aspects of God’s disposition are represented in the Age of Law, which in the Age of Grace, and which in this present stage: only when all three stages have been integrated into one whole can they reveal the entirety of God’s disposition. Only when man has come to know all three stages can he understand it fully. None of the three stages can be omitted. You will only see the disposition of God in its entirety after coming to know these three stages of work. The fact that God completed His work in the Age of Law does not prove that He is only the God under the law, and the fact that He completed His work of redemption does not mean that God will forever redeem mankind. These are all conclusions drawn by man. The Age of Grace having come to an end, you cannot then say that God belongs only to the cross and that the cross alone represents the salvation of God. To do so would be to define God. In the present stage, God is mainly doing the work of the word, but you cannot say then that God has never been merciful to man and that all He has brought is chastisement and judgment. The work in the last days lays bare the work of Jehovah and Jesus and all mysteries not understood by man, so as to reveal the destination and the end of mankind and end all the work of salvation among mankind. This stage of work in the last days brings everything to a close. All mysteries not understood by man need to be unraveled to allow man to plumb them to their depths and have a completely clear understanding in his heart. Only then can the human race be classed according to kind. Only after the six-thousand-year management plan is completed will man come to understand the disposition of God in its entirety, for His management will then have come to an end” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)). Then Kathy shared so much more fellowship with me and I learned that God’s 6,000-year management plan is divided into three ages, three stages—the Age of Law, the Age of Grace, and the Age of Kingdom. In the Age of Law, Jehovah issued the law mainly to lead people to live on earth and let them know what sin is. In the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus completed the work of redemption. He was crucified for mankind, redeeming us of sin. As long as we believed in the Lord, confessed our sins and repented, our sins would be forgiven, and we’d no longer be condemned and punished for sinning under the law. In the Age of Kingdom, Almighty God is expressing truths, doing the work of judgment, cleansing people’s corrupt dispositions, saving people from Satan’s dominion, from sin, so that we can submit to and worship God, no longer live in sin, and be taken into the kingdom of heaven by God. The three stages of work occur in different ages, God’s names change, He appears to mankind in different ways, His work includes different things, and He carries it out in different places, but it’s all done by one God. It’s a single God doing different work in different ages. Understanding this was really enlightening for me.
Then Zena gave me fellowship on how Almighty God cleanses and changes people through His work of judgment. She shared this passage of God’s words: “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. Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth). Then Zena told me, “Almighty God uses the truth to judge and cleanse people. He has expressed millions of words that reveal the mysteries of the Bible and bear witness to God’s work, and they expose the root of man’s sinfulness and the truth of our corruption. Some are about how to be freed from sin to achieve dispositional change, and some are about determining people’s outcomes, etc. It’s all the truth and it all comes from God. Almighty God has expressed all the truths people need to possess in order to be cleansed and fully saved, while also displaying God’s righteous disposition and His almightiness and wisdom. Anyone who reads Almighty God’s words can feel their authority and power. God sees all, and only God knows corrupt mankind backward and forward. God exposes people’s every thought, viewpoint, idea and corrupt disposition, fully resolving mankind’s sinfulness and opposition to God from its root. Through the judgment, revelations and refinements of God’s words, we gain some understanding of the truth of our satanic corruption. Then we see how arrogant and crooked we are, that everything we say and do reveals our corrupt dispositions. We fight for name and status, engage in intrigue, lie and cheat, get into jealous struggles, and don’t submit to God whatsoever. We don’t remotely live out a human likeness. Then we’re full of heartfelt regret and hate ourselves, we become able to repent, accept His judgment and chastisement, and carry out His words. We are gradually freed from the bonds of sin and have some changes in our corrupt dispositions. Without God’s words exposing and judging us, but just relying on prayer and confession, we’d never resolve the root of our sin. Through experience we also see that without God’s judgment and chastisement, our corrupt dispositions could never be cleansed and transformed. That’s why accepting God’s judgment work of the last days is the only path into the kingdom.” Then the two sisters told me about their personal testimony of experiencing the judgment and chastisement of God’s words. It was all so practical. I could tell that Almighty God’s work was exactly what I needed spiritually, that God’s work of the last days really can change and cleanse people, and the only way to get into the kingdom is by accepting God’s judgment of the last days.
Over the next few days the sisters also told me about why the religious world is so desolate now and pastors’ sermons are running dry. They also shared with me the real story behind the Bible and the mysteries and meaning of God’s incarnations. I felt like Almighty God’s words contained so much and opened my eyes to so many mysteries of the truth. After looking into it, I became certain that Almighty God’s words are the voice of God, that He is the Lord Jesus returned, and I happily accepted Almighty God’s salvation of the last days.
Later, the sisters gave me a couple books of God’s words. I opened up one of them when I got home, The Scroll Opened by the Lamb. The first thing I saw was some of God’s words in Preface: “Though many people believe in God, few understand what faith in God means, and what they must do to conform to God’s will. This is because, though people are familiar with the word ‘God’ and phrases such as ‘the work of God,’ they do not know God, and still less do they know His work. No wonder, then, that all those who do not know God are muddled in their belief of Him. People do not take belief in God seriously, and this is entirely because believing in God is too unfamiliar, too strange for them. In this way, they fall short of God’s demands. In other words, if people do not know God, and do not know His work, then they are not fit for God’s use, and still less are they able to satisfy His will. ‘Belief in God’ means believing that there is a God; this is the simplest concept as regards believing in God. What’s more, believing that there is a God is not the same as truly believing in God; rather, it is a kind of simple faith with strong religious overtones. True faith in God means the following: On the basis of the belief that God holds sovereignty over all things, one experiences His words and His work, purges one’s corrupt disposition, satisfies the will of God, and comes to know God. Only a journey of this kind may be called ‘faith in God’” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God). Almighty God’s words are detailed and practical, and show the true meaning of faith in God. I realized that faith requires experiencing God’s words and work so we can cast off corruption, gain the truth and know God. Only that is true faith. I used to think faith meant praying every day and going to church a lot. Sadly, I could never figure out if I was on the right path of faith or not, so I just stumbled along until then. Reading Almighty God’s words, I realized that the path I’d taken in my faith before was entirely wrong. Then I saw in the table of contents the title “Are You Someone Who Has Come to Life?” It drew me in and I turned to it right away. It had these words from God: “God created man, but then man was corrupted by Satan, such that people became ‘dead men.’ So, after you have changed, you will no longer be like these ‘dead men.’ It is the words of God that set people’s spirits alight and cause them to be reborn, and when people’s spirits are reborn, then they will have come to life. When I speak of ‘dead men,’ I am referring to corpses that have no spirit, to people whose spirits have died within them. When the spark of life is lit in people’s spirits, then people come to life. The saints that were spoken of before refer to people who have come to life, those who were under Satan’s influence but defeated Satan” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God). “‘The dead’ are those who oppose and rebel against God; they are those who are numb in spirit and do not understand God’s words; they are those who do not put the truth into practice and have not the slightest loyalty to God, and they are those who live under the domain of Satan and are exploited by Satan. The dead manifest themselves by standing in opposition to the truth, by rebelling against God, and by being lowly, contemptible, malicious, brutish, deceitful, and insidious. Even if such people eat and drink the words of God, they are unable to live out the words of God; though they are alive, they are just walking, breathing corpses. The dead are totally incapable of satisfying God, much less of being utterly obedient to Him. They can only deceive Him, blaspheme against Him, and betray Him, and all that they bring forth by the way they live reveals the nature of Satan. If people wish to become living beings and to bear testimony to God, and to be approved of by God, then they must accept God’s salvation; they must gladly submit to His judgment and chastisement and must gladly accept the pruning of God and being dealt with by Him. Only then will they be able to put all of the truths required by God into practice, and only then will they gain God’s salvation and truly become living beings. The living are saved by God; they have been judged and chastised by God, they are willing to devote themselves and are happy to lay down their lives for God, and they would gladly dedicate their whole lives to God. Only when the living bear testimony to God can Satan be shamed; only the living can spread the gospel work of God, only the living are after God’s heart, and only the living are real people” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God). After reading this, I knew in my heart that this was the answer I’d been seeking all those years. I finally knew what it meant to be “dead” or to “live.” When God created Adam and Eve, they could listen to God, manifest and glorify Him. They were living people with spirits. Then Satan tempted them to betray God and they started living in sin, under Satan’s power, and that’s how mankind became more and more corrupt, with all sorts of Satan’s poisons seeping into us. We’ve sunk deeper into sin, denying God, disobeying and resisting Him, living out satanic dispositions. We’re nothing like how God made us in the beginning. God sees everyone who lives in sin and under Satan’s power as dead, and the dead belong to Satan, they oppose God. They aren’t worthy of His kingdom. The living are those saved by God. Their corruption is cleansed through God’s judgment and chastisement. They cast off sin, Satan’s forces, and stop rebelling against and opposing God. No matter how God speaks and works, they can listen and obey. The living can bear witness to and glorify God, and they are the only ones who can gain God’s approval and enter His kingdom. To become living, we have to accept the truths Almighty God expresses and experience His judgment, ultimately be freed from sin, become cleansed and regain our conscience and reason, obey the Creator and put God’s words into practice, and worship and bear witness to God. This is someone who has truly come back to life, who can enter the kingdom and gain eternal life. At that point I really understood what the Lord meant by “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25–26). My heart brightened once I understood all that.
After that, I read another article, “Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life.” It was really mind-blowing for me. God says, “Christ of the last days brings life, and brings the enduring and everlasting way of truth. This truth is the path by which man gains life, and it is the only path by which man shall know God and be approved by God. If you do not seek the way of life provided by Christ of the last days, then you shall never gain the approval of Jesus, and shall never be qualified to enter the gate of the kingdom of heaven, for you are both a puppet and prisoner of history. Those who are controlled by regulations, by letters, and shackled by history will never be able to gain life nor gain the perpetual way of life. This is because all they have is turbid water which has been clung to for thousands of years instead of the water of life that flows from the throne. Those who are not supplied with the water of life will forever remain corpses, playthings of Satan, and sons of hell. How, then, can they behold God? If you only try to hold on to the past, only try to keep things as they are by standing still, and do not try to change the status quo and discard history, then will you not always be against God? The steps of God’s work are vast and mighty, like surging waves and rolling thunders—yet you sit passively awaiting destruction, clinging to your folly and doing nothing. In this way, how can you be considered someone who follows the footsteps of the Lamb? How can you justify the God that you hold on to as a God who is always new and never old? And how can the words of your yellowed books carry you across into a new age? How can they lead you to seek the steps of God’s work? And how can they take you up to heaven? What you hold in your hands are letters that can provide but temporary solace, not truths that are capable of giving life. The scriptures you read can only enrich your tongue and are not words of philosophy that can help you know human life, much less the paths that can lead you to perfection. Does this discrepancy not give you cause for reflection? Does it not make you realize the mysteries contained within? Are you capable of delivering yourself to heaven to meet God on your own? Without the coming of God, can you take yourself into heaven to enjoy family happiness with God? Are you still dreaming now? I suggest, then, that you stop dreaming and look at who is working now—look to see who is now carrying out the work of saving man during the last days. If you do not, you shall never gain the truth, and shall never gain life” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God). This was so authoritative and powerful, and those words could only come from God. I remembered the Lord Jesus saying, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6). Aside from God, who could possibly rule over the gate of the kingdom? If we want to enter the kingdom of heaven and gain eternal life, we have to accept the way of eternal life brought by Christ of the last days. That means accepting the truths expressed by the Lord Jesus returned, and that’s the only way to realize our hopes of entering the kingdom and gaining eternal life. I felt so fortunate that I was able to find the path into the kingdom. I was so excited. I read Almighty God’s words like they were food for a starving man, and they had such a deep impact on me. The more I read, the more I knew they were the truth, that they couldn’t have come from any pastor or theologian. Almighty God’s words nurtured my thirsty soul, and I thought back to that old man selling newspapers. He kept asking me to buy a subscription, and that’s why I finally heard God’s voice. Then I realized it was God’s wonderful deeds that allowed for it. I’m truly grateful to God. I feel so incredibly blessed that I’ve been able to hear God’s voice and witness His appearance in my lifetime. This is God’s tremendous mercy and grace, and even more, His salvation for me. Thanks be to Almighty God!