3. The Light of Judgment
“He surveys the whole earth, and commands all things, and beholds all the words and deeds of man. He conducts His management with measured steps and according to His plan, silently and without dramatic effect, yet His footsteps advance, one by one, ever closer to mankind, and His judgment seat is deployed in the universe at the speed of lightning, following which His throne immediately descends into our midst. What a majestic scene that is, what a stately and solemn tableau! Like a dove, and like a roaring lion, the Spirit comes into our midst. He is wisdom, He is righteousness and majesty, and He comes surreptitiously into our midst, wielding authority and filled with love and mercy” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs, God Quietly Arrives Among Us). Singing this hymn of God’s words reminds me of when I believed in the Lord Jesus before. The pastor and elders always said that God will judge us in the last days from a giant desk in the sky, that the Lord Jesus will be on a great white throne where He’ll judge people based on what we’ve done, rewarding the good and punishing the wicked. I always believed that. It wasn’t until I read Almighty God’s words and investigated His work of the last days that I really woke up and saw that was all human notions and imaginings. In fact, God has already come among mankind to express truths for His last-days judgment and the judgment before the seat of Christ began long ago.
It was 2015 and I’d been a believer for over 20 years. In October, my colleagues got me to start using Facebook to find friends and chat. Whenever I had time I’d look at posts made by brothers and sisters, and I’d like and share everything I saw that appealed to me. One day in February 2016 I was browsing Facebook as usual when I noticed a group discussing God’s judgment of the last days. Everyone had something different to say. Someone said that they didn’t know what the judgment was, so they didn’t dare speak casually, and that we couldn’t speculate on God’s future actions. Another person mentioned Psalm 75:2: “When I shall receive the congregation I will judge uprightly.” They said that means God has a record of what everyone’s done and when the Lord Jesus judges people in the last days, He’ll show it to everyone like a movie, so we should behave well, be upright, and never do evil and then God won’t send us to hell. Another person said that based on what’s in Revelation, when God judges us in the last days, He’ll do it from a great white throne in the sky where the Lord Jesus will set up a big desk, sit at it, and open a book on each person’s life, then judge them one by one according to what they’ve done. Those who’ve done good will be taken into God’s kingdom while those who’ve done evil will be sent to hell. After reading all these posts I started mentally outlining all those ideas of the Lord Jesus judging people in the last days. The Lord Jesus will sit on a great white throne in the sky with people kneeling before Him to be judged. The Lord Jesus will determine if people are going to heaven or hell based on how much good and how much evil they’d done. I’d believed in the Lord for over 20 years and had followed Him and spread the gospel enthusiastically, and I’d worked hard to live by His teachings. I figured He’d definitely see my sincerity and take me into His kingdom.
I kept thinking about it and it occurred to me that I could search for “judgment” online and see what came up. I saw this in my search: “God’s Chastisement and Judgment Is the Light of Man’s Salvation.” This immediately caught my attention. I clicked on the link, excited to see what was there. It turned out to be a lovely and thought-provoking hymn: “In his life, if man wishes to be cleansed and achieve changes in his disposition, if he wishes to live out a life of meaning and fulfill his duty as a creature, then he must accept God’s chastisement and judgment, and must not allow God’s discipline and God’s smiting to depart from him, in order that he may free himself from the manipulation and influence of Satan, and live in the light of God. Know that God’s chastisement and judgment is the light, and the light of man’s salvation, and that there is no better blessing, grace or protection for man” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). The lyrics piqued my curiosity. They said that God’s judgment and chastisement are the light of man’s salvation, that they’re the best protection and the greatest grace for us. I wondered what that meant. It also said that to be cleansed and live a meaningful life we have to accept God’s judgment and chastisement. Pondering this brought some questions to mind: Doesn’t the judgment just determine our outcomes? How could it be the light of our salvation? I’d never heard that before. That kind of judgment was different from what I’d thought of as judgment, but I had a vague sense that it wasn’t as simple as I’d thought. I looked for the hymn’s source and saw it was from The Church of Almighty God. I went to their website. It had an interesting design and a huge array of content. I saw all sorts of books, hymns praising God, and gospel movies and other videos, as well as written testimonies. I went to the Books section first where I saw some titles like Judgment Begins With the House of God and Testimonies of Experiences Before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Both of them mentioned “judgment.” In Testimonies of Experiences Before the Judgment Seat of Christ there were a lot of articles about the judgment, like “Transformation Through Judgment” and “Judgment Is the Light.” I read a few articles, and they were all about how Christians experienced the judgment of God’s words and then their views on faith and their corrupt dispositions were changed. Reading this made me even more curious. I wondered: “Is it possible that judgment isn’t condemnation or determining outcomes, but salvation? What does ‘God’s chastisement and judgment is the light of man’s salvation’ mean?” It looked like these books about judgment would be really helpful and I wanted to read them carefully. But it was time to go to work, so I had to turn off my computer and leave. But the whole day I couldn’t stop thinking about The Church of Almighty God’s website, especially “God’s chastisement and judgment is the light of man’s salvation.” I simply couldn’t figure out what the judgment really meant there.
When I got home that evening I went back to that site and searched for “judgment.” I then read “Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth.” There was a passage in it that really moved me. “In the judgment beginning at the house of God spoken of in times past, the ‘judgment’ of these words refers to the judgment that God today passes on those who come before His throne in the last days. There are, perhaps, those who believe in such supernatural imaginings as that, when the last days have arrived, God will erect a big table in the heavens, upon which a white tablecloth will be spread, and then, sitting upon a great throne with all men kneeling on the ground, He will reveal the sins of each man and thereby determine whether they are to ascend to heaven or be sent down to the lake of fire and brimstone. No matter what man imagines, it cannot alter the essence of God’s work. The imaginings of man are nothing but the constructs of man’s thoughts; they come from the brain of man, summed up and pieced together from what man has seen and heard. Therefore I say, however brilliant the images conceived, they are but cartoon drawings, and are incapable of substituting the plan of God’s work. Man, after all, has been corrupted by Satan, so how could he fathom the thoughts of God? Man conceives God’s work of judgment as something fantastic. He believes that since it is God Himself who does the work of judgment, then this work must be of the most tremendous scale, and incomprehensible to mortals, and must resound throughout the heavens and shake the earth; if not, how could it be the work of judgment by God? He believes that, as this is the work of judgment, then God must be particularly imposing and majestic as He works, and those being judged must be howling with tears and on their knees begging for mercy. Such scenes would surely be spectacular, and deeply affecting…. Everyone imagines God’s work of judgment to be miraculous. Do you know, however, that, at the time when God has long since begun His work of judgment among man, you remain nestled in lethargic slumber? That at the time when you think God’s work of judgment has formally begun, God will have already made heaven and earth anew? At that time, perhaps, you will have only just come to understand the meaning of life, but God’s merciless work of punishment shall bring you, still deep in sleep, into hell. Only then will you suddenly realize that God’s work of judgment has already concluded” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God). Reading this left me astounded. My exact deeply held thoughts and perspectives on God’s judgment of the last days were so clearly revealed. Was my belief that God would perform judgment in the sky really just supernatural thinking? It also said that God’s judgment work of the last days had already begun and was about to end, and it warned people to seek God’s appearance right away. I wondered: “Could this be God’s voice?” That thought left me all aflutter and I wanted to figure it out right away. And so I sent a message through The Church of Almighty God’s chat function and told them I was interested in God’s judgment of the last days. I was surprised to receive a response really quickly and Sister Liu and Sister Li with the Church were brought into the chat.
After some quick introductions I shared my confusion with them. I said, “Based on Revelation, God will be in the sky on a great white throne to carry out His judgment in the last days, but in ‘Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth’ it says that’s just a human notion and that God’s judgment work of the last days has already begun. What does all of this mean?”
Sister Liu responded with this fellowship: “What it says in Revelation about John seeing a great white throne in the sky on Patmos Island was just a vision, a prophecy about God’s judgment in the last days. It’s not something that will really happen. That is, no one can know or determine exactly how God will do His judgment work before He has done it. We can only know once the prophecy has been fulfilled.” She also said that there are a lot of prophecies in the Bible about the judgment work, like Revelation 14:6–7: “And I saw another angel fly in the middle of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.” There’s also John 9:39: “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see.” She said these verses saying “having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth” and “For judgment I am come into this world” shows that God will definitely come to earth and do His judgment work here in the last days. She also mentioned John 5:22. The Lord Jesus said, “For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son.” And Verse 27: “And has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man” (John 5:27). Also, 1 Peter 4:17 says: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.” She said, “These verses say that judgment will be done by the Son. Any reference to the Son or the Son of man means He’s born of man and has normal humanity. The Spirit of God wouldn’t be called the Son of man. So this is adequate proof that God does the judgment work of the last days in the flesh as the Son of man. It’s also written that judgment begins with the house of God. That is, God’s judgment work of the last days starts with believers.”
I was startled at this point and thought, “I’ve been a believer all these years and I’ve read these Bible verses she’s referencing before. Why haven’t I ever noticed that God will incarnate as the Son of man to do His judgment work on earth? I’ve just gone by John’s vision on Patmos Island, imagining that’s how God would perform His judgment while overlooking the other verses about the judgment. I’ve had such a limited understanding.” As I looked through these verses, I pondered Sister Liu’s fellowship.
Just then, I heard Sister Li continue the fellowship: “Almighty God does the work of judgment in the last days to purify and save mankind while also revealing everyone’s outcomes and sorting us according to our kind. This is the judgment before the great white throne in the last days and this completely fulfills those biblical prophecies. God incarnate expresses the truth and does the judgment work in the last days mainly to make a group of overcomers before the disasters. Those who truly long for God’s appearance from every denomination read Almighty God’s words and see that they’re the truth, that they’re God’s voice, and they turn toward Almighty God. They are the wise virgins who are taken up before God’s throne where they’re judged and cleansed through God’s words. When a group of overcomers is made God will begin to rain down great disasters and will reward good and punish evil, utterly destroying the wicked ones who madly resist God. That’s when God’s judgment work of the last days will fully come to a close. Disasters are getting worse and worse and the four blood moons have appeared. There’ve been locusts, floods, droughts, famines, and plagues. The great disasters are very close. When they come, all who have done evil and been enemies of God and all who belong to Satan will be destroyed. Those who’ve accepted the judgment of God’s words and been cleansed will be protected and survive and be taken into the kingdom of God. Isn’t that precisely the last-days judgment before the great white throne?”
Listening to her fellowship was enlightening for me. I realized that Almighty God expressing the truth to do the judgment work is the last-days judgment of the great white throne. But my confusion wasn’t entirely resolved. They’d said that God expresses the truth and does the judgment work in the last days to cleanse and save mankind but I thought, “The Lord has already forgiven our sins and no longer sees us as sinful. Why would God still need to cleanse and save mankind with the work of judgment in the last days?” I brought that question up with the sisters, who read two more passages of Almighty God’s words: “Though Jesus did much work among man, He only completed the redemption of all mankind and became man’s sin offering; He did not rid man of all his corrupt disposition. Fully saving man from the influence of Satan not only required Jesus to become the sin offering and bear the sins of man, but it also required God to do even greater work to rid man completely of his satanically corrupted disposition. And so, now that man has been forgiven of his sins, God has returned to the flesh to lead man into the new age, and begun the work of chastisement and judgment. This work has brought man into a higher realm. All those who submit under His dominion shall enjoy higher truth and receive greater blessings. They shall truly live in the light, and they shall gain the truth, the way, and the life” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Preface). “You only know that Jesus shall descend during the last days, but how exactly will He descend? A sinner such as you, who has just been redeemed, and has not been changed, or been perfected by God, can you be after God’s heart? For you, you who are still of your old self, it is true that you were saved by Jesus, and that you are not counted as a sinner because of the salvation of God, but this does not prove that you are not sinful, and are not impure. How can you be saintly if you have not been changed? Within, you are beset by impurity, selfish and mean, yet you still wish to descend with Jesus—you should be so lucky! You have missed a step in your belief in God: You have merely been redeemed, but you have not been changed. For you to be after God’s heart, God must personally do the work of changing and cleansing you; if you are only redeemed, you will be incapable of attaining sanctity. In this way you will be unqualified to share in the good blessings of God, for you have missed out a step in God’s work of managing man, which is the key step of changing and perfecting. You, a sinner who has just been redeemed, are therefore incapable of directly inheriting God’s inheritance” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Concerning Appellations and Identity).
After reading this, Sister Li continued her fellowship: “In the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus did the work of redemption, which was just to forgive mankind’s sins. He didn’t resolve our corrupt dispositions. Our sins are forgiven, and we’re saved and justified by our faith in the Lord, which means we’re not condemned and cursed by the law, but our satanic nature of sinning and resisting God remains within us. Our sinful nature has not been uprooted. That’s why we’re still bound by our sinful nature and we keep sinning and lying. Some people with some caliber and strengths become arrogant and unyielding and just because they can do a little work, they show off, fight for name and status, and engage in intrigue. It looks like they work hard and make sacrifices and they say it’s to love and satisfy God, but in fact it’s to be blessed, to gain a crown. In the face of adversity or trials they argue with God and become disgruntled or even say God’s unrighteous, and they deny and betray Him. How could someone like this who can’t escape their sin, who always opposes and judges God, be worthy of God’s kingdom? The Lord is holy: ‘Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14). That’s why the Lord Jesus promised He’d come again. Almighty God has come in the last days to work on the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ redemption. He expresses truths and does the judgment work of the last days to cleanse and save man once and for all, so we can be freed from our sins and our corrupt dispositions, and be fully saved and gained by God.”
That really did sound right to me. Even though our sins are forgiven through our faith, our sinful nature hasn’t been resolved. I thought about the state of affairs in our church. The pastor and elders just preached on biblical doctrine in services without providing any sustenance for life and they were greedy for money and vied for power. They even formed factions, and judged and undermined each other. Brothers and sisters felt weak, and their faith and love were fading. Lots of people pursued worldly trends and were greedy for pleasures of the flesh. They couldn’t extricate themselves from sin. I also thought about how I couldn’t stop myself from lying and sinning. I couldn’t put the Lord’s words into practice, and lived in a state of sinning and confessing. How could I get into God’s kingdom that way? We really do need God to come again and do the work to judge and cleanse us. I eagerly asked the sisters, “How does God cleanse and save people in the last days through His judgment?”
They read me another passage of Almighty 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. If you do not regard these truths as important, if you think of nothing but how to avoid them, or how to find a new way out that does not involve them, then I say you are a grievous sinner. If you have faith in God, yet seek not the truth or the will of God, nor love the way that brings you closer to God, then I say that you are one who is trying to evade judgment, and that you are a puppet and a traitor who flees from the great white throne. God will not spare any of the rebellious who escape from under His eyes. Such men shall receive even more severe punishment. Those who come before God to be judged, and have moreover been purified, shall forever live in the kingdom of God. Of course, this is something that belongs to the future” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth).
Sister Li went on with her fellowship: “Almighty God uses words to do the work of judgment in the last days to fully cleanse and save mankind. He expresses all the truths corrupt humanity needs to understand and enter into to be fully saved and cleansed. Almighty God not only exposes the essence and truth of humanity’s corruption, but also the root of all darkness and evil in the world. Not only do His words point people onto the path of salvation and freedom from corruption, but they openly reveal God’s will and requirements for mankind. Not only do they reveal the mysteries of God’s 6,000-year management plan, but they tell people about the outcomes and destinations that await them. Almighty God’s words very thoroughly expose the essence of man’s corruption, so we can’t help but be convinced. The more we experience the judgment of God’s words the more we see how deeply all of humanity has been corrupted by Satan. When we fully see our own satanic dispositions and the truth of our corruption, we see how utterly holy and righteous God is. Then we develop reverence and love for God in our hearts and really see how corrupt and lacking in humanity we are. We see we’re not worthy of living before God. Then we start to hate ourselves and don’t want to live by our satanic dispositions anymore. We submit to God’s judgment willingly, truly repent, and change. If it weren’t for the judgment and revelation of God’s words, could our satanic nature be resolved only through praying, confessing, and trying to control ourselves? Could we escape the shackles of sin? We can’t escape sin, so how can we truly repent and be worthy of entering God’s kingdom? That’s why God’s judgment and chastisement are salvation. They’re the light of salvation. Those who don’t want to accept the judgment of God’s words will succumb to the great disasters when they arrive, weeping and gnashing their teeth.”
By reading Almighty God’s words and after a few days of fellowship from these sisters, I knew within my heart just how essential Almighty God’s judgment of the last days is to cleanse and save mankind! I hadn’t experienced the judgment and chastisement of God’s words at that point, but through the sisters’ fellowship and the testimonies from others, I saw that Almighty God’s judgment work really can change and cleanse people and it’s just what we need as corrupt mankind. I always used to think that in the last days God would perform judgment in the sky from an imposing, great white throne and believers would be taken up to meet with the Lord. Now that seems utterly fanciful. Now I’ve realized that God becomes flesh in the last days to do the work of judgment on earth with words, cleansing and saving all true believers. Only then will He use the disasters to destroy all who oppose Him. God’s work of judgment is so practical! I read a lot of Almighty God’s words after that and I’ve read a lot of mysteries and truths revealed in them, like the inside story of His three stages of work in the Ages of Law, Grace, and Kingdom and what they achieve, how Satan corrupts mankind, how God saves and purifies us with His work of judgment, what everyone’s destination and outcome will be, how God’s kingdom is realized on earth, and more. It’s so eye-opening and fulfilling! Now I’ve experienced what Almighty God said: “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.” What practical words these are! I’ve heard God’s voice in the words uttered by Almighty God and have come before God’s throne. This is God elevating me and showing me kindness. Thanks be to Almighty God!