11. I Am Reunited With the Lord
By Li Lan, South Korea
Almighty God says, “Christ of the last days brings life, and brings the enduring and everlasting way of truth. This truth is the path by which man gains life, and it is the only path by which man shall know God and be approved by God. If you do not seek the way of life provided by Christ of the last days, then you shall never gain the approval of Jesus, and shall never be qualified to enter the gate of the kingdom of heaven, for you are both a puppet and prisoner of history. Those who are controlled by regulations, by letters, and shackled by history will never be able to gain life nor gain the perpetual way of life. This is because all they have is turbid water which has been clung to for thousands of years instead of the water of life that flows from the throne. … The steps of God’s work are vast and mighty, like surging waves and rolling thunders—yet you sit passively awaiting destruction, clinging to your folly and doing nothing. In this way, how can you be considered someone who follows the footsteps of the Lamb? How can you justify the God that you hold on to as a God who is always new and never old? And how can the words of your yellowed books carry you across into a new age? How can they lead you to seek the steps of God’s work? And how can they take you up to heaven? What you hold in your hands are letters that can provide but temporary solace, not truths that are capable of giving life. The scriptures you read can only enrich your tongue and are not words of philosophy that can help you know human life, much less the paths that can lead you to perfection. Does this discrepancy not give you cause for reflection? Does it not make you realize the mysteries contained within? Are you capable of delivering yourself to heaven to meet God on your own? Without the coming of God, can you take yourself into heaven to enjoy family happiness with God? Are you still dreaming now? I suggest, then, that you stop dreaming and look at who is working now—look to see who is now carrying out the work of saving man during the last days. If you do not, you shall never gain the truth, and shall never gain life” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life). This passage of Almighty God’s words made me think back on my faith before. Since I clung to religious notions and the words of the Bible, I nearly shut the door on God’s salvation of the last days. God used wondrous means so that I could be fortunate enough to hear His voice and greet the Lord’s return.
One morning a couple of years ago, I woke up really early and opened up the Bible by my pillow. I read about the Lord Jesus rebuking the Pharisees: “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said to them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves” (Matthew 21:12–13). I was a little sad at the time. I felt like the current state of the church was no different from that of the temple at the end of the Age of Law. The pastors and elders in the church were always saying that believers should love each other, but they themselves were always getting into jealous disputes, and arguing over the offerings. They’d even let believers grease their palms to pray for them, and sometimes they decided how long they would pray based on how much they got. Most church members were negative and weak, and less people showed up to gatherings by the day. The pastors and elders didn’t put their hearts into their sermons and they didn’t seek how to shepherd the Lord’s flock well, yet they were never tired of officiating believers’ weddings. The church should be a place of worship, but it had become a wedding venue. I couldn’t help but think, “The pastors and elders have strayed from the Lord’s way. The church has a totally secular feeling. It’s just like the end of the Age of Law, when the temple was desolate and became a den of thieves. Will the Lord appear to this kind of church when He returns?”
The alarm on my phone suddenly went off just as I was thinking this, and when I turned it off, I noticed a recommendation for a YouTube video from The Church of Almighty God. I was really puzzled. I’d never subscribed to that church’s channel, so why would I get that notification? Then I remembered that a month before, a friend had taken me to hear a sermon there, and what I heard was really new and enlightening. I really gained something from it. I’d wanted to keep looking into it, but they testified that the Lord Jesus had already returned, that He was doing the work of judgment in the last days and expressing a lot of truths, and that the book, The Word Appears in the Flesh, was filled with words expressed by Almighty God. They said that in gatherings, they all read and fellowshiped on Almighty God’s words. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. The pastors and elders always told us that all of God’s words and work are in the Bible, and that His words and work don’t exist outside of that. How could they testify that the Lord had uttered new words? In any case, generations of believers had based their faith on the Bible, so belief in the Lord was belief in the Bible. How could anything else be faith in the Lord? Every time my friend asked me to go hear more sermons at that church, I declined. So, when I saw that link from The Church of Almighty God on my phone, I didn’t tap on it.
But to my surprise, for several days after that I kept getting YouTube recommendations for movies and hymns on the church’s channel. I thought, “I haven’t subscribed to their channel, but I keep getting these notifications. Could the Lord be guiding me? Is it the Lord’s will that I look at The Church of Almighty God’s channel?” At this thought I prayed to the Lord: “Oh Lord! Why do these videos keep popping up on my phone? They testify that You’ve already returned. Is that really true? Should I watch these videos? Lord, please guide me.” After my prayer, these words from the Lord Jesus came to mind: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). The coming of the Lord is a huge deal, so I thought, when I hear about it, I should seek with humility, investigate it, and give it careful thought to see if Almighty God really is the Lord Jesus returned. If I didn’t seek or investigate it, and the Lord really had returned, wouldn’t I be missing my chance to welcome His coming? At this thought, I decided I should watch some of the church’s videos. When I checked out its website, I saw that there was such a wide variety of content, including movies, hymn videos, choral specials, and articles on experiences and testimonies. One of the hymn videos, “O My Beloved, Please Wait for Me,” had lyrics that were so moving for me. They made me think of all the time I’d been in a desolate church, looking everywhere for a church that had the work of the Holy Spirit. The more I looked through the site, the more sustenance I gained from it. I wanted to understand and look into the church, so I found more movies to watch on their website.
One day I watched a gospel movie that was mostly about the relationship between God and the Bible. There was a passage of God’s words in there that I’ll never forget: “From the time when there was the Bible, people’s belief in the Lord has been the belief in the Bible. Instead of saying people believe in the Lord, it is better to say they believe in the Bible; rather than saying they have begun reading the Bible, it is better to say they have begun believing in the Bible; and rather than saying they have returned before the Lord, it would be better to say they have returned before the Bible. In this way, people worship the Bible as if it were God, as if it were their lifeblood, and losing it would be the same as losing their life. People see the Bible as being as high as God, and there are even those who see it as higher than God. If people are without the work of the Holy Spirit, if they cannot feel God, they can carry on living—but as soon as they lose the Bible, or lose the famous chapters and sayings from the Bible, then it is as if they have lost their life. … Most people simply do not understand why they should believe in God, nor how to believe in God, and do nothing but search blindly for clues to decipher the chapters of the Bible. People have never pursued the direction of the work of the Holy Spirit; all along, they have done nothing but desperately study and investigate the Bible, and no one has ever found newer work of the Holy Spirit outside of the Bible. No one has ever departed from the Bible, nor have they ever dared to do so” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Concerning the Bible (1)). After watching this part, I thought, “That’s precisely my attitude toward the Bible. I feel like it represents the Lord, that belief in Him is belief in the Bible, and the two are inseparable. But what I don’t understand is this: The Bible is testimony of the Lord and the foundation of our faith. As Christians, we’ve based our faith on the Bible for two thousand years, so could it really be that this isn’t in line with the Lord’s will? What’s really going on here?”
I kept watching the movie, eager to get these questions answered. The character sharing the gospel read another passage of God’s words: “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” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. You Should Seek the Way of Compatibility With Christ). After reading these words from Almighty God, they went on in fellowship. They said people of faith all think belief in the Lord is belief in the Bible, otherwise, it’s not faith in the Lord, but this view is wrong. They also said, “When the Lord Jesus was preaching and working, His followers departed from the Scriptures to accept His work and words, so could we then say they weren’t really believers in the Lord? The Pharisees of Judaism all clung to the Scriptures, but they crucified the Lord Jesus, who expressed the truth and did the work of redemption. What was the problem there? Does clinging to the Scriptures mean a person knows the Lord? Does it mean they adhere to the Lord’s way, that they revere and submit to Him? God is the Lord of creation, the source of life for all things, while the Bible is just a record of God’s past work and words. How could it be placed on par with God? Believers in the Lord blindly believe in and worship the Bible and treat it as equal to God, even supplanting the Lord and His work with the Bible. Isn’t that devaluing and blaspheming the Lord? Is someone who clings to the Bible without seeking the Lord’s appearance and work really a believer or follower of the Lord? This is what the Lord Jesus said to the Pharisees: ‘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). He also said: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by Me’ (John 14:6). The Lord Jesus was very clear on the relationship between God and the Scriptures. The Scriptures merely testify to God—they do not represent the Lord, nor can they replace His work of salvation. Holding to the Bible alone can’t bring us eternal life. Only Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. To gain life, we have to seek the Lord!”
I was so moved after I finished the movie. I felt that everything it said was right and accorded with the Lord Jesus’ words. I realized that the Bible really doesn’t represent the Lord. He’s the One who supplies us with life, not the Bible. Believing in it is not the same as believing in and following the Lord! But I’d always thought the Bible did represent Him. Hadn’t I been regarding the Bible as higher than the Lord? The more I thought about it, the more I felt there was truth in Almighty God’s words, that they could resolve my confusion. I knew I had to seriously seek and investigate so I didn’t miss my chance to welcome the Lord. I then decided to go back to The Church of Almighty God with my friend. The brothers and sisters all received us warmly when we got to the church and fellowshiped with us really patiently. I explained my confusion to them, saying, “The pastors and elders always tell us in gatherings that all of God’s work and words are in the Bible, and so anything outside of that can’t contain His work or words. But you’re bearing witness that the Lord Jesus has returned as Almighty God and that He’s doing new work in the last days, and expressing new words. What’s really going on?”
Sister Zhou read a few passages of Almighty God’s words in response. “Many people believe that understanding and being able to interpret the Bible is the same as finding the true way—but in fact, are things really so simple? No one knows the reality of the Bible: that it is nothing more than a historical record of God’s work, and a testament to the previous two stages of God’s work, and that it offers you no understanding of the aims of God’s work. Everyone who has read the Bible knows that it documents the two stages of God’s work during the Age of Law and the Age of Grace. The Old Testament chronicles the history of Israel and Jehovah’s work from the time of creation until the end of the Age of Law. The New Testament records Jesus’ work on earth, which is in the Four Gospels, as well as the work of Paul—are these not historical records?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Concerning the Bible (4)). “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 Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Mystery of the Incarnation (1)). “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?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. How Can Man Who Has Delimited God in His Notions Receive the Revelations of God?). “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. … 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. … 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” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Concerning the Bible (1)).
After reading Almighty God’s words, Sister Zhou continued her fellowship. She said, “Everyone familiar with the Bible knows that the Old and the New Testaments are only a record of God’s two stages of work in the Age of Law and the Age of Grace. They are a testimony to God’s work. Every time God completed a stage of work, the people who experienced it recorded His work and words, and then these records were later compiled into the Bible. But God’s work and words in both of those ages weren’t fully recorded in the Bible. The Lord Jesus’ words in the Bible are just the tip of the iceberg. Just as it says in the Gospel of John: ‘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). There were some prophets’ prophecies in the Age of Law that weren’t fully recorded in the Scriptures. This is common knowledge. So when the pastors and elders say that all of God’s words are in the Bible, and none of His work and words exist outside of it, are they not contradicting the facts? Aren’t they lying and being deceitful? God is the Lord of creation. He’s so great and abundant, how could one book, the Bible, fully encompass His work and words?” She then read from the Book of Revelation: “And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals” (Revelation 5:1). “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” (Revelation 5:5). She fellowshiped, “It says here that there’s writing inside and outside of this book, only that it’s sealed with seven seals, and only the returned Lord of the last days can open the book and loose the seven seals. That’s the only way we can see what’s written inside the book. It is also prophesied many times in Revelation: ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches’ (Revelation Chapters 2–3). These biblical prophecies prove that the Lord will utter more words when He returns. So could the returned Lord’s work and words really be recorded in the Bible in advance? Could the words of God in the Bible take the place of what the Holy Spirit says to the churches in the last days? Could they replace the book opened by the Lamb? Could they replace God’s work of judgment in the last days?” Hearing this, I thought to myself, “I’ve read these verses quite a bit. Why haven’t these questions ever occurred to me?” The sister then went on in fellowship: “The Bible is a record of God’s past work. Many years after the Old Testament was produced, the Lord Jesus came and did the work of redemption for the Age of Grace. So did His work and words just automatically insert themselves into the Scriptures? God’s work and words had to have been compiled and made into the Bible. Almighty God has come in the last days and He has expressed all truths to purify and save mankind. Could these truths just automatically insert themselves into the Bible? So claiming that all of God’s work and words are recorded in the Bible, and that there can be none outside of that, is an erroneous, absurd view, and it’s entirely a result of human notions and imaginings.”
Hearing Sister Zhou’s fellowship was really enlightening for me. I felt that everything she fellowshiped lined up with the facts. The Bible is just a record of two stages of God’s work: The Age of Law and the Age of Grace. It’s a testimony to His work, but it can’t represent the Lord or His work and words in the last days. The Lord Jesus’ work and words weren’t even fully recorded in the Bible, so how could the work and words of God in the last days be recorded in the Bible ahead of time? I followed the pastors’ and elders’ words, limiting God’s work and words to what’s in the Bible, and believing that nothing outside of that came from God. Wasn’t I just talking nonsense with my eyes wide open? Wasn’t I delimiting and blaspheming the Lord? I was full of regret at this thought. Why hadn’t I read Almighty God’s words earlier? I really shouldn’t have blindly followed the pastors and elders, delimiting God’s work based on notions and imaginings. These views are so harmful!
Sister Zhou then brought up another point for discussion: Why is it that just upholding the Bible without accepting God’s work and words of the last days means people can’t get into God’s kingdom and gain eternal life? She said, “The Bible is just a record of two stages of God’s work. It can’t replace God’s work of judging and purifying mankind in the last days. In the Age of Law, God’s main work was to proclaim the law and commandments to guide people’s lives on earth. In the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus just did the work of redemption. He was crucified to redeem mankind from Satan’s domain, redeem us of our sins, and make us qualified to pray to God so we could enjoy all of God’s grace. But our sinful nature and the root of our sin were not resolved. That’s why we still constantly lie, sin, rebel against and resist God, and we’re not worthy to enter God’s kingdom. That’s why the Lord Jesus prophesied that He would return and express truths in the last days to judge and fully save man. It says in the Gospel of John, ‘I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth’ (John 16:12–13). It also says, ‘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 12:48). Almighty God coming in the last days to express the truth and do the work of judgment perfectly fulfills the Lord Jesus’ prophecies. Almighty God has expressed millions of words and these words cover everything. Mysteries of the Bible are unveiled, there are prophecies for the future of the kingdom, some discuss mankind’s destination, and others dissect the root of mankind’s opposition to God. God also very clearly reveals the truths people need to attain full salvation. That includes the inside story of God’s three stages of work to save man, the mysteries of God’s work of judgment in the last days, and the mysteries of God’s incarnations. God reveals how Satan corrupts mankind, how God works to save man, the essence and truth of mankind’s corruption by Satan, what true faith, submission, and love for God are, how to live out a life of meaning, and more. The truths expressed by Almighty God are the way of eternal life He gives us in the last days. If we just cling to the Bible without accepting God’s judgment and purification in the last days, we’ll never gain the truth, cast off sin, be fully saved, and get into the kingdom of heaven.”
The fellowship from the brothers and sisters of The Church of Almighty God helped me see that Almighty God’s judgment work in the last days completely fulfills biblical prophecies. Almighty God’s words are the truth, they are the voice of God, and they are the way of eternal life God gives us in the last days! I’d thought God’s work and words were limited to the Bible because I’d listened to the pastors and elders, and held to religious notions. I refused to accept or seek God’s work of the last days. I couldn’t gain the sustenance of God’s current words and fell into darkness. Without God’s mercy and salvation of having YouTube recommend The Church of Almighty God’s videos to me, giving me the good fortune to hear God’s voice, I’d still be following the pastors and elders, and I wouldn’t have sought or investigated God’s work in the last days. If that were the case, I could read the Bible for a hundred years but I’d never welcome the Lord’s return. I see that my being able to gain God’s salvation in the last days is entirely down to His guidance. This is God’s wondrous salvation!