27. Reunited With the Lord
By Jianding, United States
I was born into a Catholic family, and from an early age my mother taught me to read the Bible. That was during the time the Chinese Communist Party was building up the nation after the civil war, and since the CCP government was suppressing all religions, I was 20 years old before I finally got the chance to go to church and listen to sermons. The priest often said to us: “We Catholics must properly confess our sins and repent. We must do good, not evil, and always go to Mass. During the last days, the Lord is going to come and judge everyone and send people to heaven or to hell based on their behavior. The greatest sinners will suffer eternal punishment in hell, whereas those who commit minor sins can still go to heaven as long as they confess their sins to the Lord and repent. Anyone who doesn’t believe in the Lord will never get to heaven, no matter how good they are.” When I heard this, I rejoiced that I had the good fortune to be born into the Catholic faith. I told myself to be serious in my seeking, attend Mass more often, and confess my sins and repent to the Lord more so that I could go to heaven and not suffer in hell. That’s when I developed the determination to go to church and participate in Mass regularly. The priest also told us then that the Lord would return in the year 2000—we were all elated to hear that, and we all became very earnest in our pursuit, awaiting the Lord’s return. But the year 2000 came and went and we didn’t see any sign of the Lord’s return. Many in our congregation lost their faith, and fewer and fewer people attended Mass. I also felt a sense of disappointment, but I still felt that my faith in the Lord wouldn’t be shaken, no matter what others did. That was because there had been many times when I’d been in danger when the Lord had protected me and I had emerged safely. If it hadn’t been for the Lord’s protection I’d have died long before, so I wasn’t going to be so ungrateful as to lose faith in the Lord.
In the following years I heard from people around me that the USA was “heaven on earth,” and so a strong desire to come here grew in me. In December 2014 my entire family immigrated to the U.S., but the reality of life here was nothing like the beautiful picture I’d painted in my mind. At first, everything in the U.S. seemed unfamiliar—we were strangers in a strange land. The environment and climate were very different from what I was used to in China, and I soon began to suffer some physical complaints. I often felt weak and listless, completely devoid of energy, but when I went to see doctors they couldn’t find anything wrong with me. I was at my wit’s end, so I started praying even more sincerely to the Lord, hoping to gain His protection. While keeping up my prayers I began looking for a church where I could attend Mass and eventually found one for Chinese Christians. But after going to the church a few times I discovered that it wasn’t much different from what was going on in everyday society: Members of the congregation were superficially friendly but their interactions were governed by power and money. Seeing this situation in the church was really disappointing for me. I thought to myself: “Oh Lord, when will You return? When You return, the good will be separated from the wicked and the world will be cleansed.” Although I still kept on going to Mass I was never able to feel God’s presence in the church; this left me frequently feeling disappointed and depressed, and it impacted my faith.
One day in July 2015 when I was working out of state, I got a phone call from my wife. She said to me excitedly: “The Lord has returned. He has uttered words and is doing the work of judgment of the last days! Hurry back so that we can accept God’s new work together.” Hearing this, I couldn’t help but feel a bit suspicious. I thought: “The Lord has returned? How is that possible? When the Lord returns it will be to judge the world, and to separate the good from the evil. But now the good and the evil are still mixed together, so why is my wife saying that the Lord has returned? Does she have a different belief system now? We’ve been Catholics for most of our lives, there’s no way we can stray from this path now!” So I finished up my work as quickly as I could and returned home.
Upon returning I asked my wife: “How do you know that the Lord has returned? You haven’t strayed from the path, have you? You’re saying that the Lord has returned to do the work of judgment, but right now the good and the evil are still mixed together, so how could it be that the Lord has already returned? We may long for the Lord’s return, but we can’t be disloyal to Him!” She heard me out and then patiently replied: “It’s okay, don’t worry. I only just found out myself about the Lord’s return. The Church of Almighty God is now bearing witness to the Lord’s return and Almighty God is expressing truths to do the work of judgment beginning with the house of God. I’m not clear on the specifics, but I’ve been reading a lot of the words that Almighty God has expressed online and I’m sure that they are all the voice of God. The Lord once said: ‘My sheep hear my voice: and I know them, and they follow me’ (John 10:27). We can find out whether Almighty God is the returned Lord by going to The Church of Almighty God together to look into it, right?” What my wife said sounded reasonable, and the Lord’s return to do the work of judgment is in line with biblical prophecies, so I figured there was no harm in me going along with her to the church to take a look, and then I could make up my mind.
So, my wife and I went to the home of Brother Zhang, one of the members of The Church of Almighty God. Brother Wang, Sister Li, and some other fellow Catholics also came. Seeing that I had plenty of company greatly put my mind at ease. After a little polite chit-chat we all sat down and I asked the brothers and sisters this: “My understanding of the Lord’s return is this: When He returns to do the work of judgment, the good will be separated from the wicked, and then the good people will be accepted into heaven by the Lord and will meet with Him, while the wicked will be sent to hell and punished. You say that the Lord has returned and He is doing the work of judgment, so how come we haven’t seen any of these things happening?” Brother Wang replied: “Brother, I used to think the same thing. I also thought that the Lord’s return meant that good people would be separated from wicked people, that good people would live in heaven eternally and the wicked would be punished, and that if we didn’t see this happen then that proved that the Lord hadn’t returned. But after reading Almighty God’s words I realized that is only our notions and imaginings—it isn’t the reality of God’s work. God’s way of undertaking the work of judgment in the last days is something that God alone plans and organizes. God’s wisdom surpasses the heavens, and in God’s eyes humans are as small as a speck of dust, so how can we fathom God’s work? In the Bible it says: ‘Who hath forwarded the spirit of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor, and hath taught him?’ (Isaiah 40:13). ‘Behold the Gentiles are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the smallest grain of a balance: behold the islands are as a little dust’ (Isaiah 40:15). Every one of us has thoughts in our heads, so we can speculate about God’s work as we like, but God never does His work according to what we imagine. If we use our imaginations to delimit God’s work, isn’t that extremely arrogant? So then, how does God do His work of judgment? How does He separate the good from the wicked? Let’s read several passages of Almighty God’s words to help us understand. Almighty God said: ‘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, in the last days, Christ shall use the truth to teach people across the world and make all truths known to them. This is God’s work of judgment’ (“Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). ‘The last days have already arrived. All things in creation will be separated according to their kind, and divided into different categories based on their nature. This is the moment when God reveals humanity’s outcome and their destination. If people do not undergo chastisement and judgment, then there will be no way of exposing their disobedience and unrighteousness. Only through chastisement and judgment can the outcome of all creation be revealed. Man only shows his true colors when he is chastised and judged. Evil shall be put with evil, good with good, and all humanity shall be separated according to their kind. Through chastisement and judgment, the outcome of all creation will be revealed, so that the evil may be punished and the good rewarded, and all people become subject to the dominion of God. All this work must be achieved through righteous chastisement and judgment. Because man’s corruption has reached its peak and his disobedience become exceedingly severe, only God’s righteous disposition, one that is principally compounded of chastisement and judgment and is revealed during the last days, can fully transform and complete man. Only this disposition can expose evil and thus severely punish all the unrighteous’ (“The Vision of God’s Work (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). ‘My purpose in doing the work of conquest is not solely to conquer for the sake of conquest, but to conquer so as to reveal righteousness and unrighteousness, to obtain proof for the punishment of man, to condemn the wicked, and, furthermore, to conquer for the sake of perfecting those who willingly obey. In the end, all will be separated according to kind, and the ones who are perfected will be the ones whose thoughts and ideas are filled with obedience. This is the work that shall ultimately be accomplished. Those whose every action is rebellious, meanwhile, will be punished and sent to burn in the fires, the objects of eternal curse’ (“Those Who Obey God With a True Heart Shall Surely Be Gained by God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). We have the notion that God coming to do the work of judgment is to directly separate the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats, the good servants from the wicked servants. In other words, it is to classify all people according to their kind. But if we give it some thought, there are at present over 2 billion Christians around the world—and they all say they have true faith in God and love God—so how are we to discern good from bad, righteous from evil? If God determines that you are good and that I’m evil, I’ll certainly have an issue with that because I’ll feel that I’m also a good person. If God determines that I’m good and that someone else is evil, they’ll have an issue with it too. So how on earth are we supposed to know who is good and who is evil? We can’t, because we humans don’t have the principles or standards to gauge this. If God were to determine things this way we certainly wouldn’t submit and would have notions about it, believing God to be unfair and unjust. So how could the work of classifying each according to his own kind thus proceed? The Lord who has returned in the last days, that is, Christ of the last days—Almighty God—uses truths to do the work of judgment. For all Christians, who are the wheat and who are the tares, who are the goats and who are the sheep, who are the good servants and who are the wicked servants, who are the wise virgins and who are the foolish virgins, is all revealed through the truth, through God’s words. The wise virgins are those who truly believe in God and love the truth. When they hear that someone is bearing testimony of God’s coming they go out to welcome it and actively investigate God’s words and work. They recognize God’s voice and accept His work of the last days, and they will ultimately gain purification and full salvation through God’s judgment. They will have God’s protection through the great disasters and will remain, and in the end will be taken into God’s kingdom. By contrast, the foolish virgins do not love the truth, they insist on holding onto their own notions and imaginings or believing in rumors. They don’t seek or investigate God’s work of the last days, and some of them even follow religious leaders in resisting and condemning God and refusing God’s salvation of the last days. For all of these reasons, they will be revealed as evildoers by God’s work of the last days and will be eliminated. Their fate will be to suffer punishments during the great disasters. We can see from this that God’s work of putting each with its own kind during the last days is not done according to our notions and imaginings. Instead, God uses the method of judgment to do the work of exposing people, and the ultimate outcome is that everyone is thoroughly revealed and sorted according to their own kind based on whether they accept or resist the truth. Isn’t this exactly God’s wisdom, God’s fairness, God’s righteousness?”
After listening to Almighty God’s words and Brother Wang’s fellowship, I recalled what the priest in our church had said about “When the Lord comes the good will be separated from the bad” and realized that this notion is just too vague, too impractical, and doesn’t match the reality of God’s work at all. We all live in sin, we continue to commit sins and then confess but can’t escape from this cycle, so who are the truly good people? When the Lord returns, if we haven’t been cleansed of our sins, will we be allowed to enter the kingdom of heaven? Thinking of this was like turning on a light in my heart, and I thanked the Lord for His leadership. I hadn’t gone to that gathering in vain, because I then understood that God distinguishes good from evil according to how people approach the truth. In other words, people are good or evil depending on whether or not they accept and obey the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, and this is God’s righteousness being wholly manifested. Through His words and work, God separates the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats, the wise virgins from the foolish virgins, the true believers from the false believers, and the lovers of the truth from the haters of the truth. God is so incredibly wise! However, I also recalled the priest saying that when the Lord returns to judge people He does it one by one, and each individual’s sins are also listed and judged one by one before He decides if that person will go to heaven or to hell. But now Almighty God is saying that God’s work of judgment of the last days is being done through His words, so just how are these words being used to judge people?
I then raised this question and Brother Zhang answered it by reading two passages of Almighty God’s words to me: “Some believe that God may at some unknown time come to earth and appear to man, whereupon He shall personally judge the whole of mankind, testing them one by one without anyone being left out. Those who think in this way do not know this stage of work of the incarnation. God does not judge man one by one, and He does not test man one by one; to do thus would not be the work of judgment. Is not the corruption of all mankind the same? Is not the essence of all mankind the same? What is judged is mankind’s corrupt essence, man’s essence corrupted by Satan, and all the sins of man. God does not judge the trifling and insignificant faults of man. The work of judgment is representative, and it is not carried out especially for a certain person. Rather, it is work in which a group of people are judged in order to represent the judgment of all of mankind. By personally carrying out His work on a group of people, God in the flesh uses His work to represent the work of the whole of mankind, after which it is gradually spread. This is also how the work of judgment is. God does not judge a certain kind of person or a certain group of people, but instead judges the unrighteousness of the whole of mankind—man’s opposition to God, for example, or man’s irreverence toward Him, or man’s disturbance of the work of God, and so on. What is judged is mankind’s essence of opposition to God, and this work is the work of conquest of the last days” (“Corrupt Mankind Is More in Need of the Salvation of the Incarnate God” 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” (“Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Brother Zhang then fellowshiped this with me: “We have the notion that during God’s work of judgment in the last days He will call each and every person to come before His white throne in order to judge them. Every person will have to kneel on the ground and then confess to every single one of the sins they’ve committed throughout their lifetime, and then God will decide whether they will go to heaven or to hell depending upon the severity of their sins. We think that God judges people according to sins such as physically or verbally abusing people, not being filial to their parents, or stealing from or robbing others. But in fact, God’s work of judgment in the last days is not concerned with these external behaviors or flaws of ours, but is instead aimed at judging mankind’s satanic nature of resisting God and each one of our corrupt dispositions. These include our arrogance and self-importance, our crookedness and craftiness, our selfishness and baseness, our greed and evil, and so on. We also have many viewpoints that are not compatible with God, many outdated religious notions and feudal ideas. These things are all sources of our resistance to God, they are all problems that are shared by all of corrupt mankind, and so are the things that God’s work of judgment aims to purify and transform. So, the words that God expresses reveal mankind’s nature and essence and every corrupt member of humanity on earth is a part of this, without exception. Or to put it another way, God’s words of judgment are directed at the whole of mankind and so there is no need to judge people individually. By reading the words of Almighty God and accepting the judgment and chastisement of God’s words we can understand many truths and clearly see the essence, nature and truth of our being corrupted by Satan. Doing this will also allow us to recognize God’s righteous disposition and develop hearts of reverence for God, and we can start to despise ourselves so that we’ll be willing to betray our flesh and practice the truth. In this way, our corrupt satanic disposition will gradually be purified and our viewpoints and outlook on life will also change. When we start to live by God’s words, when we cease to oppose and resist God, instead truly obeying and revering Him and shunning evil, then we will gain God’s salvation and become people who are compatible with God’s will. This is the reality of and the purpose of God expressing truths to do the work of judgment during the last days.”
Listening to Brother Zhang’s fellowship left me with a sense of just how practical and realistic God’s work of judgment is! I was able to accept what he said—it resonated with me deep in my heart. Yes, people are arrogant, they seek fame and fortune and status, and they live mired in their various corrupt dispositions. God uses the judgment of His words to rid us of all of the filth and corruption inside of us. Our nature of resisting God can thus be resolved and our corrupt disposition transformed, and then we can become truly good people. Looking at it this way, I could see that when the priest had spoken of people being judged one by one and each one of their sins being judged when the Lord returns to judge mankind is nothing but human notions and imaginings. It has nothing to do with the way God actually does His work. Almighty God’s words really do contain truths; they really are the voice of God! I then decided to thoroughly examine the work of Almighty God.
While I was looking into this, I watched a number of gospel movies produced by The Church of Almighty God, including The Days of Noah Have Come, The Mystery of Godliness, and Caught the Last Train, as well as some hymnal videos of God’s word such as How Important God’s Love for Man Is. I also read a lot of Almighty God’s words and listened to brothers and sisters fellowshiping on a number of aspects of the truth. This helped me determine that Almighty God is indeed the returned Lord Jesus, and that Almighty God is the one true God and is the returned Lord that we have been awaiting! I very happily accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days.
Since believing in Almighty God I’ve been frequently gathering with other brothers and sisters or listening to sermons with them. Every day is filled with joy for me and I feel that I’m gaining spiritual sustenance. I’m enjoying the comfort that comes from the work of the Holy Spirit, and I’m starting to understand more and more truths. In The Church of Almighty God, the brothers and sisters are all very warm and honest with each other, and nobody tries to deceive anyone else or keeps their guard up. Everybody is simple, open and sincere, and even when they reveal their corrupt dispositions they are each able to know themselves through God’s words and seek the truth to resolve their corrupt dispositions. I feel that this is the only kind of true brotherhood and sisterhood in Christ. I’m particularly impressed by the hymnal videos, music videos, dance and song videos, and gospel movies produced by The Church of Almighty God, which all hold the truth on high and bear witness to God and His work of the last days. This is all so that people may submit to and worship God, and the church really does feel like a place where God does His work! Having seen, heard, and experienced all of this is proof within my heart that The Church of Almighty God is a true church where God personally nurtures and shepherds His flock. The fact that I’ve been able to enter God’s house and live a life face-to-face with God is being exceptionally exalted by God. I really am so fortunate! Thank You, Almighty God!