68. Now I Know How to Bear Witness to God
By Xu Lu, China
In April 2021, I began work spreading the gospel with Sister Chen Zhengxin. Because I had already spread the gospel in the past and had some relevant experience, I started to get better results than her after a period of time. I would often brag about how I spread the gospel and answered potential gospel recipients’ questions, going into a great amount of detail. Zhengxin was really in awe. Once, after I fellowshiped with some new believers that weren’t attending gatherings, they all started attending as usual. I knew it was God guiding them and moving their hearts, but I was still quite pleased with myself, thinking I’d had my own part. Upon returning from fellowship, I couldn’t help but brag to Zhengxin, saying, “I leaned on God and after just fellowshiping a few words, they all agreed to attend gatherings.” Seeing how she looked at me with such admiration, I felt even better. Another time, she came back with her head hung in dejection because she couldn’t answer the question of someone she was preaching to. I asked her what she had said to them, and she gave me a rundown. I thought to myself: “You don’t have enough experience yet. This was not a difficult question to answer and I would have taken care of it in no time. I need to bring you up to speed and show you how sharing the gospel is really done.” With that, I told her how to fellowship more effectively. Zhengxin agreed with what I had to say, saying she was really lacking, and asked me to help her out more. I told her we had to lean on God, but in my heart I was very pleased with myself, thinking of how talented I was at sharing the gospel.
In a gathering, a leader asked us what we’d learned and what experiences we’d had recently while spreading the gospel. Zhengxin said: “I’ve learned through spreading the gospel that I still have so many inadequacies. There were so many questions from the potential gospel recipients that I couldn’t answer. Xu Lu seems to be able to find God’s words to fellowship and resolve their questions so quickly.” The leader smiled at me and nodded her head. I wanted to show the leader how much I knew and could answer any question with ease, so I intentionally took over speaking for Zhengxin, saying, “Some of the potential gospel recipients’ questions really were quite difficult to answer.” The leader asked, “Which questions?” I rapidly sifted through a number of questions, thinking that I should pick a difficult question to show the leader how talented I was. So, with lively gesticulations and a lively, excited demeanor, I recounted the potential gospel recipients’ questions, how I had fellowshiped to resolve them and how I had ultimately sincerely convinced them. I exaggerated, portraying things as more difficult than they were, as if others could never resolve these issues and I was the only one who could. I wanted the leader to think I had some reality of the truth, that I was the best among everyone sharing the gospel. The leader and other brothers and sisters all approved of me, and I was eating it up. After asking about our work sharing the gospel, the leader fellowshiped on the principles of sharing the gospel with respect to our recent issues. After the leader had only just begun her remarks, I thought to myself: “I have some relevant experience that I really should share right away. If we move on to another topic, I’ll miss my opportunity to speak.” So I cut in, saying: “There’s a lot more to it.” Then I launched into an extensive discussion, drawing from my own experience to elucidate how I had achieved results while spreading the gospel. Seeing everyone nod their heads in agreement, I spoke with even greater enthusiasm. The other brothers and sisters interjected with their own opinions but I wasn’t really taking anything in. I felt like they didn’t have any real insight or valuable thoughts. I just kept sharing my views, not giving others a chance to talk. I just wanted to unload all of my experience all at once, so the leader would see I had caliber and gifts, could seek principles in my duty, and was a rare talent. While talking, it did occur to me that I might be showing off, so I tried to slow down and talk a bit about my corruption and errors. But I was also thinking that these practical methods should be fellowshiped for the greater good. This was all my own first-hand experience and I couldn’t not fellowship out of fear of showing off. At that thought, I just kept rambling on. When I finished, the leader nodded her head in agreement and the others seemed to look at me with admiration. It was a wonderful feeling. So for that gathering, everyone was basically just listening to me talk. Not only that, but in gatherings and fellowship I hardly told the others about my negative states or examples of my failures in sharing the gospel. I felt like it would ruin my image, so I cherry-picked my successes. Everyone thought I was great at sharing the gospel after a few gatherings, and some other people in that duty started to rely on me. They’d directly ask me to speak with people really stuck in their notions. This all gave me an even higher opinion of myself, and I enjoyed the feeling of being looked up to. Just as I was feeling so pleased with myself, I was confronted with God’s chastening and discipline.
I started running into lots of roadblocks and wasn’t achieving any results while spreading the gospel. I thought to myself: “I’m always boasting and showing off in gatherings with the brothers and sisters, and now I’ve become ineffective at spreading the gospel. Is God disgusted with me and hiding Himself from me?” I opened up to Zhengxin about the state I was in and she said, “Over the time I’ve known you, I’ve noticed you tend to brag. You talked the whole time when the leader joined our gathering. You cut her off before she could finish speaking, and I couldn’t even ask a question. I felt so inferior after hearing about all of your experiences spreading the gospel and how effective you’ve been in resolving people’s problems.” As she spoke, she began to cry and I felt simply awful. I’d never imagined that my showing off had been so damaging to her. Wasn’t that doing evil? I came before God to seriously reflect on myself, and then read these words of God: “All of those who walk the path of antichrists exalt themselves and bear testimony to themselves. They go around boasting about themselves and self-aggrandizing, and they have not taken God to heart at all. Do you have any experience of what I am talking about? Many people are constantly bearing testimony to themselves: ‘I’ve suffered in this way and that; I’ve done this work and that; God thinks especially highly of me; He asked me to do such and such; now I’m like this and that.’ They deliberately speak in a certain tone and adopt certain postures. Ultimately, some people end up thinking that these people are God. Once they have gotten to that point, the Holy Spirit will long since have abandoned them. Although, for the meantime, they are not cleared out or expelled, and they are kept around to render service, their fate is set, and all they can do is to await their punishment” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. People Make Too Many Demands of God). The revelation of God’s words cut to the quick and I felt truly awful. I realized that the reason I’d been hitting lots of stumbling blocks and couldn’t feel God’s guidance was because I had disgusted God with my boasting. God’s disposition is so righteous and holy! I felt kind of scared. I knew that if I kept on that way, God would abandon and cast me out in disgust. I had to seek the truth to resolve this problem.
After that, I came across a passage of God’s words exposing those that exalt themselves and show off. God says, “Exalting and testifying to themselves, flaunting themselves, trying to make people think highly of them—corrupt mankind is capable of these things. This is how people instinctively react when they are governed by their satanic natures, and it is common to all of corrupt mankind. How do people usually exalt and testify to themselves? How do they achieve this aim? They testify to how much work they have done, how much they have suffered, how much they have expended themselves, and what price they have paid. They use these things as the capital by which they exalt themselves, which gives them a higher, firmer, more secure place in people’s minds, so that more people esteem, admire, respect, and even venerate, idolize, and follow them. To achieve this aim, people do many things that testify to God on the surface, but essentially exalt and testify to themselves. Is acting that way reasonable? They are beyond the purview of rationality. These people have no shame: They unabashedly testify to what they have done for God and how much they have suffered for Him. They even flaunt their gifts, talents, experience, special skills, their clever techniques for conducting themselves, the means they use to toy with people, and so on. Their method of exalting and testifying to themselves is to flaunt themselves and belittle others. They also dissemble and camouflage themselves, hiding their weaknesses, shortcomings, and deficiencies from people so that they only ever see their brilliance. They do not even dare to tell other people when they feel negative; they lack the courage to open up and fellowship with them, and when they do something wrong, they do their utmost to conceal it and cover it up. Never do they mention the harm they have caused to the work of the church in the course of doing their duty. When they have made some minor contribution or achieved some small success, however, they are quick to show it off. They cannot wait to let the whole world know how capable they are, how high their caliber is, how exceptional they are, and how much better they are than normal people. Is this not a way of exalting and testifying to themselves?” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Four). Hadn’t I shown off and exalted myself just like God described? In performing my duty, I was showing off to gain the admiration of others instead of bearing witness to and exalting God. I was using my gospel experience like personal capital, thinking I was smart and eloquent. I showed off and thrust myself into the spotlight at every opportunity. When I had some successes in sharing the gospel, I boasted to Zhengxin about my ability to fellowship about the truth and solve problems, and when I saw her face some failures, I told her all about my experiences. I was acting under the guise of helping her out, but in fact it was just to flaunt myself and make a display of my abilities. I wanted her to think I was better than her, and as a result, she ended up feeling inferior to me and descending into negativity. When the leader came to our gathering, I was grandstanding and showing off the whole time, exaggerating about how difficult the problems I’d resolved were to highlight my abilities. I also interrupted people and turned the gathering into my own personal lecture session, going on and on about how I had achieved results in sharing the gospel to highlight my accomplishments and win the admiration of others. I was really despicable and shameless! Because I was always interrupting and showing off, I deprived my brothers and sisters of the opportunity to seek and fellowship the truth. As a result, their issues and hardships were not promptly resolved. I had completely disrupted the gathering. What’s more, because I only cared about showing myself off, I didn’t put any effort into pondering God’s words and listening to other people’s experiences and knowledge. As a result, I didn’t get anything out of the gathering either. I knew I had plenty of faults and failures, but I was afraid of damaging the image others held of me, so I covered up those shortcomings and failings, only talking about my successes. As a result, some brothers and sisters came to admire and rely on me. I was bringing them before myself, and not only was I not afraid, but I reveled in it. Reflecting on my behavior, I realized that I didn’t try to do my duty well and satisfy God, but was only deceiving and ensnaring people.
Later, I read this passage of God’s words that helped me understand my nature and essence. God’s words say, “Some people particularly idolize Paul. They like to go out and give speeches and do work, they like to attend gatherings and preach, and they like people listening to them, worshiping them, and revolving around them. They like to have status in the minds of others, and they appreciate it when others value the image they present. Let us analyze their nature from these behaviors: What is their nature? If they really behave like this, then it is enough to show that they are arrogant and conceited. They do not worship God at all; they seek a higher status and wish to have authority over others, to possess them, and to have status in their minds. This is the classic image of Satan. The aspects of their nature that stand out are arrogance and conceit, an unwillingness to worship God, and a desire to be worshiped by others. Such behaviors can give you a very clear view into their nature” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. How to Know Man’s Nature). This made me realize that constant bragging is the result of being controlled by an arrogant nature. I’d loved the feeling of being admired and supported since I was little—there was such a sense of prestige and enjoyment—so that was something I always pursued in life. I kept doing that even after gaining faith, boasting and showing off whenever I had the chance. I reveled in it and was delighted whenever I saw someone’s look of admiration. Spreading the gospel was my responsibility, my duty, and any successes were thanks to God’s guidance. But I was controlled by my arrogant nature, using gifts, experience, and the few results I had in spreading the gospel as personal capital. I felt like I was an indispensable talent, and I was dismissive of everyone else. I was also seizing every chance to boast in front of my brothers and sisters, how I’d been successful in sharing the gospel, but never mentioning my shortcomings or failures. As a result, my brothers and sisters started relying on me instead of looking to and relying upon God. God should hold a sacred place in people’s hearts, but I was bringing others before myself, so there was only room for me in their hearts. Wasn’t I resisting God? I thought of Paul in the Age of Grace, who was so arrogant. He never exalted or testified to the Lord Jesus Christ in his epistles, and he didn’t bear witness to what the Lord Jesus’ work did for mankind. He was just boasting about his gifts and caliber, ensnaring others so they’d admire and follow him. He testified that he wasn’t inferior to any other apostle, and ultimately said he lived as Christ, which seriously offended God’s disposition. Paul’s constant exaltation of himself made other people adulate him, to the point that for 2,000 years believers have treated his words like God’s own words, as the basis for their faith, and the principles to put into practice. His words surpass God’s own words to them, making God just a figurehead. Paul ended up becoming the primary antichrist and was punished by God. Was I not just like Paul? I wasn’t exalting and testifying to God in my duty, but was just showing off and ensnaring people’s hearts. How was I performing my duty? I was simply running my own enterprise. At that point, I became horrified by my actions and realized that continuing in this way would be truly dangerous. I came before God and prayed, “God, I don’t want to live against You, within my corrupt disposition. Please discipline and chasten me if I show off again. God, please guide me to gain a deeper understanding of myself.” Later I came across another passage of God’s words in which He judges and exposes mankind: “Do not think that you understand everything. I tell you that all you have seen and experienced is insufficient for you to understand even a thousandth of My management plan. So why then do you act so haughty? That little bit of talent and tiny bit of knowledge you have are insufficient for Jesus to use in even a single second of His work! How much experience do you actually possess? What you have seen and all that you have heard in your lifetime and what you have imagined are less than the work I do in a single moment! You had best not nitpick and find fault. You can be as arrogant as you want, but you are nothing more than a creature not even the equal of an ant! All that you hold within your belly is less than what is in an ant’s belly! Do not think, just because you have gained some experience and seniority, that this entitles you to gesticulate wildly and talk big. Are not your experience and your seniority the product of the words I have uttered? Do you believe that they were in exchange for your own labor and toil? Today, you see that I have become flesh, and on this account alone there is in you a glut of concepts, and no end of notions therefrom. If not for My incarnation, even if you were possessed of extraordinary talents, you would not have so many concepts; and is it not from these that your notions arise?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Two Incarnations Complete the Significance of the Incarnation). I didn’t have the reality of the truth and was only able to contribute doctrinal knowledge. After gaining just a little experience and doing a bit of work, I promptly disregarded everyone else, even God. I was stealing God’s glory, was unreasonably arrogant and lacking even a modicum of rationality! While sharing the gospel, I was actually keenly aware that it was God upholding His own work. Sometimes someone would ask a question I didn’t know how to answer, so I’d pray to God and lean on Him. Then the answer would come to me and I’d know how to address the problem through the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment. Sometimes I wouldn’t even say that much, just a passage of God’s words, but people would be moved, recognize God’s voice, and be ready to seek and accept His last days’ work. This was all achieved by God’s words; it was He that was moving people’s hearts. Once, I shared the gospel with the brother of a sister in the church. Quite a few people had fellowshiped with him before, but he was constrained by his notions and wasn’t willing to seek and investigate. I didn’t feel too confident, but I just prepared a bit based on my previous experience. When I talked to him about what I’d already thought through, he not only had no positive reaction, but brought up some notions he had. I didn’t know how to fellowship, so I prayed, asking God to move and enlighten him. I just showed him a testimony video and didn’t fellowship much with him, but he was really moved by the fellowship in the video and wanted to look into God’s new work. I was so surprised: He’d made a complete turnaround in just a little over 30 minutes. I knew it wasn’t because I’d fellowshiped so well, but because God had moved him. When my motives were wrong in my duty, no matter how much I talked, no one wanted to accept the gospel. My experience showed me that in my duties, God’s words and the work of the Holy Spirit played the decisive role, my talents and caliber were not the defining factor. God’s sheep hear His voice. Those God has preselected recognize His voice in His words and want to investigate the true way. If it’s not someone God has selected, no amount of fellowship will make any difference. Even without any talent or good caliber, if someone’s heart is in the right place, and they truly look to and rely on God, they can gain His guidance, and they will be successful in their duties all the same. Yet I was blind to this fact, didn’t have the slightest recognition of the Holy Spirit’s work, and didn’t fear God in my heart. I gave myself all the glory for the slightest achievement, using that as an excuse to boast. I really was shameless. Thinking back on the ways I’d been showing off, I felt so vile and ashamed. I really was a buffoon, blindly putting on a show and exposing my wretched state to all without the least bit of self-awareness. If I hadn’t run into the roadblocks while spreading the gospel, and if my sister hadn’t dealt with and pruned me, I’d have remained numb, without any self-knowledge. At this realization, I prayed to God, wanting to repent, to stop exalting myself and showing off.
Later, I consciously sought how I should practice in order to exalt and bear witness to God. I read a passage of God’s words that said: “When bearing testimony for God, you should mainly talk more about how God judges and chastises people, what trials He uses to refine people and change their dispositions. You should also talk about how much corruption has been revealed in your experience, how much you have endured, how many things you did to resist God, and how you were eventually conquered by God; talk about how much real knowledge of God’s work you have, and how you should bear witness for God and repay Him for His love. You should put substance into this kind of language, while putting it in a simple manner. Do not talk about empty theories. Speak more down-to-earth; speak from the heart. This is how you should experience. Do not equip yourselves with profound-seeming, empty theories in an effort to show off; doing so makes you appear quite arrogant and senseless. You should speak more of real things from your actual experience, and speak more from the heart; this is most beneficial to others, and most appropriate for them to see” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition). God’s words showed me that the way to exalt and bear witness to God is by testifying to His work and His disposition, talking about our own corruption and rebelliousness and how we’ve learned about ourselves through the judgment and chastisement of His words. Then others can come to see God’s righteous disposition as well as His love and salvation of us. But I’d just been talking about my successes in sharing the gospel, hardly ever talking about corruption I’d shown or how I’d resisted and rebelled against God. As a result, people began to admire me and rely upon me. I needed to show my true self, reveal how I’d been exalting myself and showing off and how God had chastened and disciplined me to guide me to know myself. I should also lay bare my struggles and deficiencies in preaching the gospel, and share how the Holy Spirit guided me. I needed to fellowship all of that, so that the others could see me clearly and also see how God works. Then they’d have the faith to rely on and look to God in their duty and gain His guidance. When I opened up that way, everyone realized they really didn’t have God in their hearts. They wanted to make a change, to lean on God in their duty.
I read this in God’s words after that, “How should people know God’s disposition and what He has and is? And how should they know His authority, and His omnipotence and wisdom? Does anyone know how many years God has been working among all humanity and all things? No one knows the exact number of years for which God has been working and managing all mankind, no one has an accurate figure. God does not report such things to mankind. Yet if Satan were to do this for a bit, would it declare it? It would certainly declare it. Satan wants to show off itself, that it may deceive more people and have more of them give it credit. Why does God not report this undertaking? There is an aspect of God’s essence that is humble and hidden. What things are in opposition to humility and hiddenness? Arrogance and showing off. … Antichrists are no different from Satan: They boast about every little thing they do in front of everyone. Hearing them, it seems like they are testifying to God—but if you listen closely you’ll discover that they’re not testifying to God, but showing off, building themselves up. The motivation and essence behind what they say is to vie with God for the chosen ones, and for status. God is humble and hidden, and Satan flaunts itself. Is there a difference? Showing off versus humility and hiddenness: which are positive things? (Humility and hiddenness.) Could Satan be described as humble? (No.) Why? Judging by its wicked nature and essence, it is a worthless piece of trash; it would be extraordinary for Satan to not flaunt itself. How could Satan be called ‘humble’? ‘Humility’ is said of God. God’s identity, essence, and disposition are lofty and honorable, but He never shows off. God is humble and hidden, He does not let people see what He has done, but as He works in such obscurity, humankind is unceasingly provided for, nourished, and guided—and this is all arranged by God. Is it hiddenness and humility, that God never divulges these things, never mentions them? God is humble precisely because He is able to do these things but never mentions or divulges them, does not discuss them with people. What right have you to speak of humility when you are incapable of such things? You didn’t do any of those things, yet insist on taking credit for them—this is called being shameless. Guiding mankind, God carries out such great work, and He presides over the entire universe. His authority and power are so vast, yet He has never said, ‘My ability is extraordinary.’ He remains hidden among all things, presiding over everything, nourishing and providing for humankind, allowing all humankind to continue for generation after generation. Take the air and the sunshine, for example, or all the material things necessary for human existence—they all flow forth without cease. That God provides for man is beyond question. So if Satan did something good, would it keep it quiet, and remain an unsung hero? Never. It’s like how there are some antichrists in the church who previously undertook dangerous work, who made sacrifices and endured suffering, who may have even gone to prison; there are also some who once contributed to one aspect of the work of the house of God. They never forget these things, they think they deserve lifelong credit for them, they think these are their lifetime’s capital—which shows how small people are! People are truly small, and Satan is shameless” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Seven (Part Two)). I was moved by God’s humility and hiddenness. When I compared His demeanor with my own, I became deeply ashamed. God is so supreme, but He still underwent such great suffering and humiliation in becoming flesh and coming to earth, expressing truths to save mankind. No matter how great His work or how many truths He expresses, He never boasts. He just silently supplies and saves mankind. God’s essence is incredibly beautiful. But I’m just a speck of dust and have been deeply corrupted by Satan. I’m nothing special and yet I was dying for admiration. I bragged about any little thing I did, worrying that others wouldn’t notice. Though clearly this was all work of God’s doing and I just cooperated a little, I still shamelessly sought to steal God’s glory, constantly showing myself off. The more I thought about it the more lowly and despicable I felt—it was so disgusting to God. I didn’t want to be that kind of person anymore.
In gatherings after that, I intentionally exalted and bore witness to God, talking about my corruption and rebelliousness, which despicable intentions had led to my failures, and about how God had disciplined and guided me to understand principles and gain a path of practice. This allowed the brothers and sisters to learn from my failures and recognize God’s righteous disposition and salvation. At times, I still have a bit of a desire to show off, but after I realize that, I pray and forsake myself right away. I’ve felt so much better after putting that into practice. It was thanks to God’s love and salvation that I could have this transformation.