3. Uncovering the Mystery of Judgment
By Enhui, Malaysia
My name is Enhui; I’m 46 years old. I live in Malaysia, and I have been a believer in the Lord for 27 years. In October 2015, I moved to another city to take up a job. My new colleagues were all really into Facebook, which they used for chatting, finding new friends, and making posts. Seeing that I didn’t have a Facebook account they set one up for me, and I gradually learned how to go online and use it. When I had the time, I would take a look at the postings of some brothers and sisters in the Lord and I’d share them and like them. Sometimes I’d make some posts about praising the Lord or share the Lord’s grace with the people in my friends group. Every day was really fulfilling for me.
One day in February 2016 when I was browsing the profile of one of my Facebook friends, I saw this post: “We discussed the issue of judgment today in our group. We all said different things but agreed on the major points. Someone said: ‘If I don’t understand something, I don’t dare spout some old nonsense—it’s something that God will do in the future and we shouldn’t try to make wild conjectures.’ Someone else said: ‘Psalm 75:2 says “When I shall receive the congregation I will judge uprightly.” God takes note of everything that every single person does, so when the Lord Jesus returns to judge all humans He will reveal our deeds to all, just like playing a movie. So we should always be upright in our behavior and absolutely never do evil so that God doesn’t judge us and then cast us into hell.’ Someone else said: ‘It says in the Bible: “And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Revelation 20:11–12). From the scriptures we can see that when the Lord Jesus returns in the last days He will set up a giant desk in the sky, take a seat behind it, and open the books. Then, with all of mankind kneeling on the ground, He’ll call out the name of every individual and judge each of them one by one according to their deeds. Good people will be taken up to the kingdom of heaven by the Lord, while the wicked will be cast into hell.’”
After reading this post I continued sitting in my chair, and sketched out a mental image of the Lord Jesus judging mankind: The Lord sitting on a throne, people all kneeling in front of His desk and coming clean on all their sins for God to judge, and the Lord sending each one of them to heaven or to hell according to their deeds. I thought about how I’d been a loyal follower of the Lord for over 20 years and had tried my best to put His teachings into practice. I believed that the Lord would see my piety and take me up to the kingdom of heaven. But as I thought it over more and more, I suddenly had an idea: Now that I knew how to use the Internet why not do a search for “judgment” and see what came up? I opened up a browser and typed in the word; I can’t remember which link I clicked on but to my surprise, this sentence popped up: “God’s Chastisement and Judgment Is the Light of Man’s Salvation.” This piqued my interest immediately, and so I went to the website to read more. As the webpage loaded I heard this hymn that was both pleasing and thought-provoking: “God’s Chastisement and Judgment Is the Light of Man’s Salvation.” The lyrics included: “… 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).
I pondered the lyrics after the hymn had ended; I found it quite moving. I began to think: “Is God’s chastisement and judgment the light of our salvation? Is it mankind’s greatest protection and grace? How are we to understand this? If people want to be purified and live meaningful lives, does that mean they have to accept God’s chastisement and judgment?” As I mulled over these lyrics, many questions circled around my brain. I also thought: “If God were to judge man, wouldn’t man be condemned? And how come judgment becomes a light of salvation?” I was both curious and excited because I had never heard anything like this before. Even though the judgment being talked about in the hymn was not how I understood judgment to be, I still had this vague feeling that judgment possesses really deep significance, and is relevant to a person’s future and fate. When I checked the source of the hymn I saw that it was from The Church of Almighty God, so I went to their website. I saw that not only was the homepage novel and aesthetically pleasing, but the content was also rich and varied. There were things to listen to, things to read, songs, discussions and lots of other stuff. I thought to myself: “How come no one ever told me about this website? It’s so great, but could it be that no one’s shared it because they haven’t found it yet?” I clicked on the “Books” link and as I was scrolling down the list I saw this title: Testimonies of Experiences in Entry Into Life. Clicking on it, I saw that they were mostly testimonies about God’s judgment, for example: “God’s Judgment and Chastisement Saved Me,” “God’s Judgment and Chastisement Was a Great Salvation for Me,” “I Saw God’s Love in His Judgment and Chastisement,” “God’s Judgment and Chastisement Awoke My Sinful Heart,” “God’s Judgment and Chastisement Put Me on the Right Path.” It was almost time for me to go to work, so I only had time to quickly skim through a few of these testimonies. They were all written by believers describing how their corrupt dispositions were purified, and also talking about their deficiencies, corruption, mistaken views in faith, etc., and how these were somewhat changed through the words of judgment of Almighty God. This made me even more curious about “God’s Chastisement and Judgment Is the Light of Man’s Salvation.” Could it be that judgment wasn’t about being condemned? That it wasn’t about determining each person’s ending? I started to feel really unsettled, and I knew I had to get to the bottom of what “God’s Chastisement and Judgment Is the Light of Man’s Salvation” was talking about. I came to the conclusion that Testimonies of Experiences in Entry Into Life was probably an extremely helpful book for people in their faith, and that I should take a good look at it. But time was running short, so I turned off my computer and went to work.
That night I was tossing and turning in bed, unable to sleep; images of The Church of Almighty God’s website kept on popping into my head. I especially couldn’t get my head around the sentence “God’s Chastisement and Judgment Is the Light of Man’s Salvation,” and I really wanted to know what was meant by the “judgment.”
I got up early the next morning, opened up The Church of Almighty God’s website and started searching for the word “judgment.” I saw an article titled “Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth,” opened it, and read these words: “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 depictions, 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.” I was really amazed by these words. They so accurately revealed people’s innermost thoughts and views on God’s judgment work of the last days—they were also so real and practical. I wondered, “Could it be that the idea of a judgment in the sky that I’d been holding on to was just my imagination? This passage shows that people all imagine the work of God’s judgment to be mysterious and supernatural. It also indicates that the work of judgment began long ago and will soon conclude, and it exhorts people to waste no time seeking the manifestation of God. Could that be the voice of God?” That thought left me unsettled and I really wanted immediate clarity on what the meaning of God’s judgment really is. But there was just too much content on The Church of Almighty God’s website and at the time I didn’t know where to start looking, so I decided to seek out the church members themselves and see if they could help me understand things.
Using the online chat function on The Church of Almighty God’s website, I sent a message telling them that I was interested in learning more about judgment. Someone answered me very quickly, and introduced two sisters from The Church of Almighty God who connected with me: Liu Hui and Li Mei. Over the course of our exchange, I discovered that these two sisters had an open and honest approach, and were very straightforward; I wanted to have a heart-to-heart chat with them. I said to them: “I really like The Church of Almighty God’s website. There are all sorts of spiritual books, hymns of praise, music videos, gospel movies, recitations of God’s words, and more. There really is a lot of content, but I just don’t understand what is meant by God’s judgment. I just read ‘Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth’ which seems to say that God’s work of judgment has already begun and that the idea of judgment in heaven is just a product of human notions and imagination. This is quite different from my usual understanding of judgment. Could you share your understanding of this with me?”
Sister Liu Hui replied: “Praise God! Let’s seek and fellowship together! I used to think of it that way too, believing that God’s work of judgment of the last days would be carried out up in heaven. But after reading Almighty God’s words and fellowshiping with brothers and sisters I came to realize that this really was just my own notion, my own imagining. Whether God’s work of judgment will be done in heaven or on earth is stated very clearly in some of the prophecies in the Bible. For example, Revelation 14:6–7 say: ‘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: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.’ In Psalm 96:13 it says: ‘For He comes, for He comes to judge the earth: He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth.’ In John 9:39 it says: ‘For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see.’ In these biblical verses it mentions ‘having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth,’ ‘for He comes to judge the earth’ and ‘For judgment I am come into this world.’ From this we can see that in the last days, God must personally come into the world, and He will come to the earth to do the work of judgment, to judge all peoples and all nations. In addition, from reading the Bible we know that before God created mankind He created the heavens and earth and all things in order to prepare a suitable living environment for us. God then created mankind and arranged for us to live on earth, not in heaven. So how could we possibly ascend up into heaven? Corrupt mankind has no choice but to accept God’s judgment here on earth. Plus, it’s recorded in the Book of Revelation that John saw a great white throne in the sky on the island of Patmos. In fact, this was just one of John’s visions, but some people have interpreted this to literally mean that when God returns in the last days He will judge people in the sky. This is nothing but our own notions and imaginings, and it’s a misinterpretation of the prophecies—it’s not at all a reality of God’s work.”
I was stunned by what I heard: I’d read all of the Bible verses that the sister was sharing with me, so how come I’d never noticed the real meaning of those words? Yes! God had created mankind to live on earth, so how could it be possible for us to go up to heaven? My faith really was full of vagueness and ignorance!
Sister Li Mei then fellowshiped this with me: “In the last days God has not only incarnated to do the work of judgment on earth, but His work started a long time ago and will soon conclude. God’s work of judgment isn’t done in heaven as people imagine, and it’s not directly condemning people as they believe. In fact, before God’s work of judgment concludes, all those who come before God’s throne are those who can be judged, tried, and cleansed by God’s words. All those who accept God’s judgment and are purified will be taken by God into His kingdom. But for those who refuse to accept the judgment of God’s words, since their sinful natures won’t have been judged and cleansed by God, they will continue to live in sin, continuing to constantly sin. They will lie, cheat, rebel against God and resist God. They will be annihilated in hell for their sins—this is a true manifestation of God’s righteous disposition. Those of us who have followed the Lord for many years have deeply experienced that though we have been redeemed of our sins because of our faith, the problem of our sinful nature hasn’t been resolved. We follow the Lord, yet at the same time we often go against the Lord’s teachings and instead give free rein to our fleshly desires to commit sins such as lying, cheating, engage in intrigues, and struggle for fame and fortune. We thirst after empty vanities and chase after the evil trends of the material world. And so on. Particularly when we’re faced with trials, accidents, and disasters, we misunderstand God, blame Him, and even betray Him. We could say that we are living in a constant state of sinning and then confessing our sins, but never shaking off the shackles of our sinful nature. In the Bible it says: ‘Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14). How can people who are as corrupt as we are enter God’s kingdom? Almighty God has said: ‘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’ (“Concerning Appellations and Identity” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). So, during the last days, God is implementing His management plan, carrying out the stage of work of judging, chastising, and cleansing people in accordance with what corrupt mankind needs. The purpose is to thoroughly save us from Satan’s domain, and to remove the shackles of our sinful nature so that we can be purified and saved. From this we can see that God’s work of judgment of the last days is all about cleansing and salvation. It’s not about condemning us, as people imagine.”
Sister Liu Hui went on in fellowship with me: “That’s right, Sister Enhui. Let’s think about it, if God’s work of judgment was to condemn and punish us, then not a single one of us, who have all been deeply corrupted by Satan, would ever be saved or be able to enter God’s kingdom. If that were the case, what would be the point of God’s work of judgment? The words of Almighty God clearly state why God does the work of judgment in the last days, and what its significance is. Let’s read two passages of Almighty God’s words: ‘Man’s entire life is lived under the domain of Satan, and there is not a single person who can free themselves from the influence of Satan on their own. All live in a filthy world, in corruption and emptiness, without the slightest meaning or value; they live such carefree lives for the flesh, for lust, and for Satan. There is not the slightest value to their existence. Man is incapable of finding the truth that will free him from the influence of Satan. Even though man believes in God and reads the Bible, he does not understand how to free himself of the control of Satan’s influence. Throughout the ages, very few people have discovered this secret, very few have grasped it. … If man is not cleansed, then he is of the filth; if he is not protected and cared for by God, then he is still a captive of Satan; if he is not judged and chastised, then he will have no means of escaping the oppression of the dark influence of Satan. The corrupt disposition that you show forth and the disobedient behavior that you live out are sufficient to prove that you are still living under the domain of Satan. If your mind and thoughts have not been cleansed, and your disposition has not been judged and chastised, then your entire being is still controlled by the domain of Satan, your mind is controlled by Satan, your thoughts are manipulated by Satan, and your entire being is controlled by the hands of Satan’ (“The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). ‘By means of this work of judgment and chastisement, man will fully come to know the filthy and corrupt essence within his own self, and he will be able to change completely and become clean. Only in this way can man become worthy to return before the throne of God. All the work done this day is so that man can be made clean and be changed; through judgment and chastisement by the word, as well as through refinement, man can purge away his corruption and be made pure.’ (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). So what can we experience from God’s words? Looking at them from one angle, we can see that God’s words are extremely practical and reflect our real-life situation very well. From another angle, we could see that we first have to experience God’s judgment and cleansing to rid ourselves of filth and corruption, and to escape from Satan’s dark influence. Only then will we be qualified to be taken by God into His kingdom. Without God’s work of judgment of the last days we couldn’t be cleansed enough to become people who are after God’s heart, and we certainly wouldn’t be able to enter God’s kingdom. We would just never stop sinning and resisting God, and ultimately, we’d be annihilated by God in hell. In fact, from the real-life testimonies of the brothers and sisters of The Church of Almighty God we can see that God’s judgment and chastisement is the light of salvation for mankind. Every one of us has been corrupted by Satan, but because we can come before Almighty God and receive the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, our life disposition gradually changes. We go from rebellion and resistance to acceptance and submission; we go from arrogance, self-righteousness and giving in to no one, to becoming willing to put aside our own egos and submitting to what is right, submitting to the truth. In addition, all that is expressed in God’s judgment and chastisement is the truth, and it is also an expression of God’s righteous and holy disposition, so the more we experience God’s judgment and chastisement, the more we know God. And the more we know God, the more clearly we can see into people, things, and events in the world. Accordingly, our viewpoints and values change to varying degrees. We gain more reverence of and submission to God. This is what Almighty God’s judgment and chastisement achieve in us. Without the judgment of the light of truth in God’s words, we would all live in darkness, committing sins and then confessing them, confessing them and then committing them again every day, never shaking off the shackles of sin. Then how could we ever be taken by God into His kingdom?”
After fellowshiping with Sisters Li and Liu it felt like a bright light had been turned on in my heart. What they said was true: The pastor, the elders, and the brothers and sisters in my church were all unable to extricate themselves from the bondage of sin. I myself also often sinned in spite of myself and was unable to put the Lord’s words into practice. We are all living in a state of committing sins and then confessing—we truly do need God to return and do a stage of work of judgment and cleansing. If I hadn’t looked into Almighty God’s work of the last days I would never have come to understand these truths. I felt so grateful for God’s guidance. By reading the words of Almighty God and listening to the sisters’ fellowship, plus reading the written testimonies of the brothers and sisters of The Church of Almighty God describing how their corrupt dispositions were purified through the judgment of God’s words, I had gained a bit of understanding of God’s work of judgment of the last days. My own notions had been dispelled, and I now knew that God’s judgment and chastisement are essential for us to escape from sin and gain purification.
Then Sister Liu Hui said: “Let’s read two more passages of Almighty God’s words. Almighty God said: ‘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. 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’ (“Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). ‘Those who wish to gain life without relying on the truth spoken by Christ are the most ridiculous people on earth, and those who do not accept the way of life brought by Christ are lost in fantasy. And so I say that those who do not accept Christ of the last days shall forever be despised by God. Christ is man’s gateway to the kingdom during the last days, and there are none who can go around Him. None may be perfected by God except through Christ. You believe in God, and so you must accept His words and obey His way. You cannot only think of gaining blessings while being incapable of receiving the truth and incapable of accepting the provision of life. Christ comes during the last days so that all those who truly believe in Him may be provided with life. His work is for the sake of concluding the old age and entering the new one, and His work is the path that must be taken by all those who would enter the new age. If you are incapable of acknowledging Him, and instead condemn, blaspheme, or even persecute Him, then you are bound to burn for eternity and shall never enter the kingdom of God’ (“Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). From the words of Almighty God it can be seen that in the last days God has become flesh in order to express all truths to cleanse and save humanity, in accordance with mankind’s needs. He reveals God’s righteous disposition which will tolerate no offense to mankind. Through His words, God reveals people’s nature and essence, and the true state of their corruption. Only through accepting the words of judgment that Almighty God has expressed can we know our own arrogance, cunningness, selfishness, evil, etc., which are all part of our satanic nature and corrupt dispositions. Only through accepting God’s judgment and chastisement can we know God’s righteous disposition and develop hearts of reverence for God and true repentance. Thus we can attain transformation and cleansing of our corrupt disposition. This is the significance of God’s judgment, and it is also our only road to salvation. Sister Enhui, as long as we earnestly read as much of Almighty God’s words as we can, then the significance of God’s work of judgment of the last days will become clear to us and even more, we’ll see that only Christ of the last days can bestow the way of eternal life upon people.”
Praise the Lord! I gained an enormous amount from communicating with the sisters. Even though I’ve yet to experience God’s judgment and chastisement, through fellowshiping with them and reading Testimonies of Experiences in Entry Into Life, I’ve felt that Almighty God’s judgment and chastisement really can change people. I also feel that I really need God to perform His stage of judgment and chastisement work to transform and purify me so that I will be qualified to be taken up into the kingdom of heaven. At a later date, after a few more days of fellowshiping, I came to understand more of the significance of God’s work of judgment and the truth concerning God’s names. I also learned truths to discern the true Christ from false ones, and real churches from false ones. I learned truths about God’s incarnation, the difference between God’s work and human work, how Satan corrupts mankind, how God saves us, and more. I came to the firm conclusion that Almighty God really is the returned Lord Jesus, and with a happy heart I accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days. Praise God! Since then I’ve had an unquenchable thirst for reading the words of God. By living a church life, fellowshiping truths with the brothers and sisters, and accepting the watering and feeding of God’s words I feel that my spirit is gaining a great deal of sustenance. This has allowed me to witness the total fulfillment of this prophecy in the Book of Revelation in the Bible: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). I’ve also felt it being fulfilled in me personally. The words of Almighty God have knocked open my heart’s door and allowed me to hear the voice of God, know God’s work of judgment, and return before Him. Praise be to God!