11. Notifications From YouTube Reunited Me With the Lord
By Li Lan, South Korea
In life, sometimes chance occurrences can have unforeseen consequences. Something unexpected and amazing happened to me a few months ago: Notifications from YouTube reunited me with the Lord.
One morning in June, I woke early and began to gently thumb through the Bible that I kept near my pillow, and I read what the Lord Jesus said when He rebuked the Pharisees: “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves” (Matthew 21:13). I couldn’t help but worry when I read this, as the situation in my church had become just the same as that in the temple toward the end of the Age of Law: In my church, the pastors and elders often preached to us that believers had to love one another, but they themselves actually accepted small gifts of money when they prayed for members of their congregation, and sometimes the amount of money given would determine how long they prayed for the giver. The church was supposed to be a place where people worship God, and yet now it had become just somewhere where believers got married. The faithful were growing fewer by the day, and the pastors and elders weren’t putting much effort into their sermons or seeking how they could best shepherd the Lord’s flock but were instead finding endless enjoyment in performing wedding ceremonies. I couldn’t help but think: “The pastors and elders have deviated from the Lord’s way and the church is now no different from the world outside. It has become a den of thieves, just like the temple at the end of the Age of Law. Will the Lord still appear in such a church as this when He returns?”
“Beep, beep, beep …” An alarm broke my chain of thought. I picked up my cellphone and turned the alarm off, and by chance I noticed a notification on my phone sent from YouTube. The seemingly familiar words “The Church of Almighty God” caught my eye and I felt as though I’d heard them somewhere before, but I couldn’t think of where just then. I felt very puzzled, and thought: “I’ve never subscribed to The Church of Almighty God’s videos on YouTube, so why would YouTube send me a notification about this church?” I suddenly remembered that, about a month ago, a friend had taken me to The Church of Almighty God to hear one of their sermons. Their sermon was fresh and illuminating, it was in keeping with the Bible, and it sounded very refreshing to me. I had wanted to continue investigating it, but my friend had said to me that The Church of Almighty God testified that the Lord had returned already as the incarnated Almighty God, and that He was performing a new stage of work in the last days and expressing many truths. My friend also told me that believers in The Church of Almighty God all read the words expressed by Almighty God, and not the Bible, and so I thought: “The pastors and elders often say at our gatherings that the words of God are all in the Bible, and there can’t possibly be any words or work of God outside the Bible. What’s more, believers throughout the ages have all believed in the Lord through the Bible—to have faith in the Lord is to have faith in the Bible, so how could anyone depart from the Bible and still believe in the Lord?” My friend had invited me to go listen to more sermons at The Church of Almighty God, but I always refused. Looking at this notification on my cellphone, I couldn’t help but wonder: “I’ve never subscribed to their videos, and yet I’ve received a notification about The Church of Almighty God. Could the Lord have arranged this?” Because I clung to my notions, however, I did not open the link and watch The Church of Almighty God’s video.
To my surprise, however, for several days afterward I often received notifications from YouTube recommending new movies and hymn videos uploaded by The Church of Almighty God. I thought to myself: “Could the Lord really be guiding me? Is it the Lord’s will that I watch The Church of Almighty God’s videos?” And so, I said a prayer to the Lord: “Dear Lord, why am I getting notifications about The Church of Almighty God on my cellphone? They testify that You have returned already, but is this really true? Should I watch these videos? O Lord, please guide me.” Afterward, I thought of the Lord Jesus’ words: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). “Yes,” I thought. “The Lord’s coming is so important. Now that I’ve heard the news that the Lord has returned, I ought to seek with an open mind, investigate in earnest, be wise in my discrimination, and see whether Almighty God truly is the Lord Jesus returned or not. If I don’t seek or investigate it and it just so happens that the Lord really has returned, won’t I then have missed my chance to be reunited with the Lord?” Thinking this, I decided to watch The Church of Almighty God’s videos. Thank the Lord! If I hadn’t watched them, I would never have known. Only when I watched the videos did I discover that the YouTube channel of The Church of Almighty God has everything one could wish for, and it has it in plenty! There are gospel movies, choral performances, music videos, hymns, and more. All the different songs and gospel movies captured my attention immediately, and in particular I felt deeply moved by the music video of the hymn My Beloved, Please Wait for Me. When I watched it, I couldn’t help but think of my experiences over the past few years, searching everywhere for a church with the Holy Spirit’s work due to the desolation in my own. The more videos I watched, the more I wanted to see. I felt incredibly sustained, and I wished to understand and look into The Church of Almighty God even more.
One day, I watched a wonderful clip entitled What Is the Relationship Between God and the Bible? taken from the gospel movie Who Is My Lord. A passage of Almighty God’s words in this video left me with a very deep impression: “They believe in My existence only within the scope of the Bible, and they equate Me with the Bible; without the Bible there is no Me, and without Me there is no Bible. They pay no heed to My existence or actions, but instead devote extreme and special attention to each and every word of Scripture. Many more even believe that I should not do anything I wish to do unless it is foretold by Scripture. They attach too much importance to Scripture. It can be said that they see words and expressions as too important, to the extent that they use verses from the Bible to measure every word I say and to condemn Me. What they seek is not the way of compatibility with Me or the way of compatibility with the truth, but the way of compatibility with the words of the Bible, and they believe that anything that does not conform to the Bible is, without exception, not My work. Are such people not the dutiful descendants of the Pharisees? The Jewish Pharisees used the law of Moses to condemn Jesus. They did not seek compatibility with the Jesus of that time, but diligently followed the law to the letter, to the extent that—after having charged Him with not following the law of the Old Testament and not being the Messiah—they ultimately nailed the innocent Jesus to the cross. What was their substance? Was it not that they didn’t seek the way of compatibility with the truth? They obsessed over each and every word of Scripture while paying heed neither to My will nor to the steps and methods of My work. They were not people who sought the truth, but people who rigidly clung to words; they were not people who believed in God, but people who believed in the Bible. Essentially, they were watchdogs of the Bible” (“You Should Seek the Way of Compatibility With Christ” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Almighty God’s words revealed our attitude toward the Bible in perfect clarity. In my heart, I did indeed regard the Bible as being above everything else; I believed that the Lord’s words were all within the Bible and that therefore the Bible represented the Lord, that to have faith in the Lord was to have faith in the Bible, and that departing from the Bible meant that one couldn’t possibly believe in the Lord. There was something I didn’t understand, however: The Bible is a testimony to the Lord, it forms the basis of our faith, we Christians have based our belief in the Lord on the Bible for two thousand years, and no one has ever separated the Bible from faith in the Lord—why then did it say in Almighty God’s words that the Bible could not be equated with God? What did this mean?
I continued to watch the video and, next, a brother from The Church of Almighty God gave fellowship, saying, “Let us ponder together: What does it mean to believe in the Lord? What does it mean to believe in the Bible? What is the relationship between the Bible and the Lord? Which came first, the Bible or the Lord? Who is it that does the work of salvation? Then, can the Bible stand in for the Lord in doing His work? Can the Bible represent the Lord? If people put blind faith in the Bible and worship the Bible, does this mean that they believe in and worship God? Is holding onto the Bible tantamount to practicing and experiencing God’s word? Does holding onto the Bible necessarily mean that one is following the Lord’s way? If people place the Bible before everything else, does this mean that they are worshiping the Lord as great, that they are reverent of and obedient to the Lord? … For thousands of years, people have been blindly worshiping the Bible and affording the same status to the Bible as they do to the Lord. Some even use the Bible to substitute for the Lord and His work. But no one truly knows the Lord and is obedient to Him. The Pharisees held onto the Bible, yet nailed the Lord Jesus to the cross. What was the issue? Does understanding the Bible mean knowing God? Does holding onto the Bible mean following the Lord’s way? The Pharisees were experts of biblical exegesis, but they didn’t know God. Instead, they nailed the Lord Jesus who expressed the truth and did the redemptive work, to the cross. Have we actually forgotten this? Exactly what does it mean to really know God? Does just being able to interpret the Bible and understanding the Bible knowledge qualify as knowing God? If that’s the case, then why would the Pharisees condemn and oppose the Lord Jesus even as they interpreted the Bible? The key of whether one is able to truly know and obey God is whether or not he knows and obeys the incarnate Christ.”
As I contemplated the brother’s questions, I answered them myself in my heart: “Surely the Lord came first and then the Bible, and the Bible cannot perform the work of saving mankind. The Bible is the Bible, and the Lord is the Lord. I always believed that the Bible represented the Lord, so haven’t I been regarding the Bible as being above the Lord?” As I thought this, I suddenly startled, and thought: “Since the Lord is the Lord and the Bible is the Bible, have I been practicing in accordance with the Lord’s will by following what the pastors and elders say, idolizing the Bible, and regarding the Bible as above everything else?” But then I thought: “How could faith in the Lord truly be called faith in the Lord if one departs from the Bible? Could it be wrong that we have clung to the Bible in our belief in the Lord?” Just then, these words spoken by the Lord Jesus came to mind: “Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me. And you will not come to Me, that you might have life” (John 5:39–40). Pondering these words, I realized that the Bible was just a testimony for God, and that if one wanted to gain the Lord’s approval and obtain life, then one had to seek the Lord! “It seems as though the Bible really can’t represent the Lord,” I thought. “The One who provides for our lives is the Lord, not the Bible, and faith in the Bible does not mean that one has faith in the Lord or that one follows the Lord. If I just keep on blindly clinging to the Bible and idolizing it, and I do not seek or submit to God’s new work, then I will more than likely end up just like the Pharisees and will nail God to the cross once again! The words of Almighty God are possessed of the truth, and they are able to unravel my notions and perplexities. I must investigate and seek in earnest so that I don’t miss my chance to welcome the coming of the Lord.” Thinking this, I decided to ask my friend to take me to The Church of Almighty God so that I might look into it.
After my friend and I arrived at The Church of Almighty God, the brothers and sisters gave us a warm welcome, after which they fellowshiped patiently with us. I asked, “I’ve recently gained a lot from watching the movies and videos on your church’s website, and I see that the words of Almighty God are possessed of truth, that they can resolve my problems and perplexities, and allow me to understand the truth. But there is something that I still don’t understand. The pastors and elders often say to us that God’s words are all within the Bible, that the Bible is the foundation of our faith in God, and that believers in the Lord cannot depart from the Bible. And yet you testify that the Lord Jesus has returned as Almighty God, and that He is performing a new stage of work in the last days and expressing new words—what is the meaning of all this? Please could you fellowship with me regarding this issue?”
Sister Zhou then responded to my question by playing a wonderful clip entitled Are All of God’s Work and Words in the Bible? taken from the movie Who Is My Lord. The preacher in the movie gave fellowship, saying, “We all know, the New and Old Testaments of the Bible are only a record of two stages of God’s work. As for the words and work of God during the Age of Law and the Age of Grace, do any here dare say that the Bible holds a complete record? Does anyone here dare say that all of the words of God delivered through the prophets during the Age of Law and all of the Lord Jesus’ words during the Age of Grace are recorded in the Bible? Actually, you’re all well aware many of the Lord Jesus’ words are not recorded in the Bible. The words of the Lord Jesus recorded in the Bible are just the tip of the iceberg! Many of the prophets’ books in the Age of Law are also not included in the Bible. This is commonly acknowledged! How could you say that all of God’s words and work are recorded in the Bible? Is this not in clear contradiction to fact? In this sense, are you not liars? The Lord Jesus foretold many times that He would come again. How could the words of the returned Lord Jesus be recorded in the Bible ahead of time? We should be very clear that the Bible is a record of God’s work in the past. So many years after the writing of the Old Testament, the Lord Jesus came and carried out the work of redemption during the Age of Grace. Isn’t that right? Tell me, would the Lord Jesus’ words and work automatically get written down in the Bible? God’s words and work had to be compiled before they could be the text in the Bible. In the last days, Almighty God has come to do the work of judgment starting from God’s house, and expressed all the truths to purify and save mankind. Could these truths automatically appear in the Bible? The Church of Almighty God compiles all the truths expressed by Almighty God into the Bible of the Age of Kingdom, that is, The Word Appears in the Flesh. This Bible of the Age of Kingdom contains only the expression of God. You could say The Word Appears in the Flesh is the eternal way of life gifted to man by God in the last days. So the view that God’s words and work are all recorded in the Bible and that God’s words and work will not appear elsewhere outside the Bible is erroneous, absurd and completely the product of man’s notions and imaginations.”
After listening to the preacher’s fellowship, I felt that what he’d said was true to the facts: The Bible can be a reference book for us to use in our belief in God, but it cannot represent the Lord, much less can it represent the Lord’s words or work. I knew that I must take the correct approach to the Bible, and not regard the Bible and the Lord as being of equal status, much less limit God’s work and words to within the pages of the Bible. The Bible is merely a record of God’s previous two stages of work, and it records the work of God in the Age of Law and the Age of Grace. But God is so great and overflowing, so how could just this one book, the Bible, possibly contain everything about God? The Gospel of John says: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25). It now seemed as though the Lord Jesus’ work and words were not all recorded in the Bible, and yet I had gone along with the interpretations given by the pastors and elders of the religious world, and had believed that there was no work or words of God beyond those that are in the Bible—what a blind fool I’d been, clinging to the notions and imaginings of man! This position was simply untenable!
I kept on watching the video, and the preacher read out several passages of Almighty God’s words: “The things that are recorded in the Bible are limited; they cannot represent the work of God in its entirety. The Four Gospels have fewer than one hundred chapters altogether, in which are written a finite number of happenings, such as Jesus cursing the fig tree, Peter’s three denials of the Lord, Jesus appearing to the disciples following His crucifixion and resurrection, teaching about fasting, teaching about prayer, teaching about divorce, the birth and genealogy of Jesus, Jesus’ appointment of the disciples, and so forth. However, man values them as treasures, even comparing the work of today against them. They even believe that all the work Jesus did in His life amounted only to so much, as if God were only capable of doing this much and nothing further. Is this not absurd?” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “At the time, Jesus only gave His disciples a series of sermons in the Age of Grace on such subjects as how to practice, how to gather together, how to supplicate in prayer, how to treat others, and so forth. The work He carried out was that of the Age of Grace, and He expounded only on how the disciples and those who followed Him ought to practice. He only did the work of the Age of Grace, and none of the work of the last days. … The work of God in each age has clear boundaries; He does only the work of the current age, and never carries out the next stage of work in advance. Only thus can His representative work of each age be brought to the fore. Jesus spoke only of the signs of the last days, of how to be patient and how to be saved, of how to repent and confess, and of how to bear the cross and endure suffering; never did He speak of how man in the last days should achieve entry, nor of how he should seek to satisfy God’s will. As such, is it not ridiculous to search the Bible for God’s work of the last days? What can you see by merely clutching the Bible? Be it an expositor of the Bible or a preacher, who could have seen the work of today in advance?” (“How Can Man Who Has Delimited God in His Notions Receive the Revelations of God?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “If you wish to see the work of the Age of Law, and to see how the Israelites followed the way of Jehovah, then you must read the Old Testament; if you wish to understand the work of the Age of Grace, then you must read the New Testament. But how do you see the work of the last days? You must accept the leadership of the God of today, and enter into the work of today, for this is the new work, and no one has previously recorded it in the Bible. Today, God has become flesh and selected other chosen ones in China. God works in these people, He continues on from His work on earth, and continues on from the work of the Age of Grace. The work of today is a path that man has never walked, and a way that no one has ever seen. It is work that has never been done before—it is God’s latest work on earth. … How could the Bible contain explicit records of such work? Who could have recorded every single bit of today’s work, without omission, in advance? Who could have recorded this mightier, wiser work that defies convention, in that moldy old book? The work of today is not history, and as such, if you wish to walk the new path of today, then you must depart from the Bible, you must go beyond the books of prophecy or history in the Bible. Only then will you be able to walk the new path properly, and only then will you be able to enter into the new realm and the new work” (“Concerning the Bible (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
After the preacher had finished reading God’s words, a brother in the movie gave fellowship, saying, “Almighty God’s word is completely in line with fact. The Bible is just a record of the words and work of God during the Age of Law and the Age of Grace. The words and work of God in the last days couldn’t be written into the Bible in advance. We used to claim that all of God’s words and work could be found within the Bible only. But this really doesn’t line up with the fact of God’s work.” I couldn’t help but nod my head in agreement after I’d listened to God’s words and the brother’s fellowship. I thought to myself: “That’s right. How could anyone write in the Bible about work God had yet to do? Only now do I understand chapter 5, verse 5 in Revelation that states: ‘And one of the elders said to me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.’ Here it says that the book sealed with seven seals can only be opened when the Lord returns in the last days, so doesn’t that show that the Lord still has words to say and work to perform that are not recorded in the Bible?” Thinking this, I regretted not having investigated The Church of Almighty God sooner. I really shouldn’t have blindly followed the pastors and elders and delimited God’s work by relying on my own notions and imaginings!
Sister Zhou then gave fellowship, saying, “Sister, now that we have watched this video, we understand that the Bible is merely a record of God’s past work and a testimony to God’s work, and it cannot take God’s place in performing the work to save mankind in the last days. God’s work is always forging onward, and today Almighty God is performing a new stage of work—that is, the work of using words to judge and chastise in the Age of Kingdom—upon the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption. This entirely fulfills the biblical prophecies, ‘And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day’ (John 12:47–48). ‘For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God’ (1 Peter 4:17). The words and work of Almighty God in the last days do not negate the Bible, but instead are on a higher, more profound level than God’s words and work in the Age of Law and the Age of Grace, and Almighty God’s work is more fitting for our current needs. The words of Almighty God form the Bible of the Age of Kingdom—The Word Appears in the Flesh. These words are the way of eternal life which God gives to mankind in the last days, they reveal the mystery of God’s three stages of work and the mystery of God’s incarnation, and they express God’s disposition, what He has and is, and His almightiness and wisdom. Among other things, they also show us the path to exalt God, testify to God, and serve God, the path to enter into the reality of the truth, and the path to attain full salvation and be perfected. Only when we accept Almighty God’s work of the last days, keep pace with God’s work, and obtain provision from God’s current words, can we gain the work of the Holy Spirit. If we always cling to the Bible, and refuse to accept God’s work and utterances in the last days or follow the steps of God’s work, then we will be unable to obtain the provision of the living water of life which God bestows on us, and we will just be weeded out and abandoned. Now, all religions and denominations are becoming increasingly desolate. Because they have not kept pace with God’s work of the last days, they have not obtained provision from God’s current words, and so they find themselves lost in the wilderness with no way out….”
Through the fellowships given by the brothers and sisters at The Church of Almighty God, I realized that Almighty God’s work of the last days entirely accords with biblical prophecies and does not deviate from the Bible at all. Instead, God performs a newer, higher stage of work according to our needs, so that we might cast off the bonds of sin once and for all, be purified and saved by God, and obtain from God truth and life. I also came to understand why the religious world is becoming more and more desolate and debased and why my spirit always felt so parched. It is because we are arrogant and conceited and we cling to our own notions, limiting God’s words and work within the pages of the Bible, and not seeking or accepting God’s new work in the last days, and not keeping pace with the footsteps of the Lamb. The brothers and sisters then gave me fellowship on all manner of truths and, one by one, God’s words resolved my problems and perplexities. I became absolutely certain that Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned, and my heart was filled with gratitude for the Lord.
After I’d accepted God’s work of the last days, I actively participated in the church life, and through being watered and supplied by God’s words and fellowshiping with the brothers and sisters, I came to understand many truths and mysteries I’d never before understood, and my spirit was content. I felt as though I was drawing closer and closer to God, my heart was filling with more and more light, and every day I felt an abundance of peace and joy. Sometimes, when I thought about how I’d clung to the Bible, about how I’d delimited God’s words and work within the pages of the Bible and refused to seek or investigate God’s work of the last days, I would feel incredibly remorseful and very indebted to God—I saw how truly blind and ignorant I’d been! If God hadn’t shown me mercy and saved me by using YouTube to send me notifications about The Church of Almighty God, thus leading me to hear God’s voice, I would still be blindly following the pastors and elders, and would not have sought or investigated God’s work of the last days. In that case, I could have read the Bible for a hundred years and would still have been unable to welcome the return of the Lord. That I have today been able to receive God’s salvation in the last days is entirely due to God’s leadership and guidance, and it is the wondrous salvation of God. Thanks be to God!