38. A Different Kind of Salvation
By Huang Lin, China
I used to be an ordinary believer in Charismatic Christianity, and ever since I started believing in the Lord I never once missed a service. It was particularly because I knew we were in the last days and the prophecies in the Bible about the Lord’s return had basically been fulfilled; the Lord would soon return, and so I attended services even more enthusiastically, eagerly looking forward to His return, lest I miss my chance to meet with the Lord.
One day, my younger sister came and said happily to me, “Hey, I’ve come today to tell you the absolute best news ever—the Lord Jesus has returned! And what’s more, He has returned in the flesh; He’s expressing the truth and performing His work of the last days to judge and cleanse man, thus fulfilling the prophecy in the Bible ‘For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God’ (1 Peter 4:17). Don’t waste any time—follow God’s new work!” When I heard the news that the Lord had returned, I was both shocked and full of doubt. I said, “It says in the Book of Revelation, ‘Behold, He comes with clouds; and every eye shall see Him’ (Revelation 1:7). And the pastors and elders often tell us that when the Lord returns, He will come to us on a white cloud. You say the Lord has returned and that He has come in the flesh. How is that possible?” My sister said solemnly, “You say that the Lord Jesus will return with the clouds, but are you sure about this? It also prophesies in the Bible: ‘Behold, I come as a thief’ (Revelation 16:15), and ‘And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him’ (Matthew 25:6). Do you dare say that the Lord could not possibly come in secret? There is a mystery in the Lord’s return, so we must seek with an open mind! If we cling to our own notions and imaginings, how could we then welcome the Lord’s return?” But no matter how she gave fellowship, I remained unconvinced, believing instead that the Lord would return on a white cloud and that He couldn’t possibly come in the flesh. She later preached the gospel to the rest of the family, and after sharing her fellowship several times, my husband, my younger son and his wife (who had been unbelievers) all accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days. Yet I continued to cling to my own notions, refusing to accept it.
After that, I continued attending services at my old church, while my husband, younger son and his wife all attended gatherings at The Church of Almighty God. Every time I came home from service, I felt listless and felt that they were all done by rote; my heart was empty and I was gaining nothing. They, on the other hand, were always so happy when they returned from a gathering, and they would often have fellowship and seek together on things like which corrupt dispositions they revealed when they encountered issues, how they should seek God’s will, and how they should know and reflect on themselves. They would also discuss how to practice the truth and live by God’s words, how to cast off their corrupt dispositions and be purified, and so on. Hearing them discuss these things left me puzzled, and I thought: “They’ve had faith for hardly any time at all; how is it that they know they need to seek God’s will when they encounter issues, that they’re able to find a path of practice, and everything they say is so well-reasoned? I’ve believed in the Lord Jesus for all these years; I’ve prayed, attended service and read the Bible consistently, so why am I never able to understand the Lord’s will when things happen to me? And it’s not just me—all my brothers and sisters in my church are the same. We are bound by all manner of sins and cannot free ourselves; our spirits are withered, dark and hopeless, and we feel like we’re getting further and further away from the Lord. What on earth’s going on?” The topics they were discussing were so fresh and new, talking about what corrupt dispositions they were revealing, about how to reflect on and know themselves, about being purified, and so on. I’d believed in the Lord for so many years but had never heard the pastors or the elders in my church preach about that stuff, and I just couldn’t understand how they had come to understand so much! I was at a loss.
In the blink of an eye, harvest time had arrived; my two sons harvested their corn and brought it home. In past years, I would always help my elder son shuck the corn first and then help my younger son, but this year my younger son and his family did it themselves. I thought to myself: “I haven’t helped my younger son’s family with their work this time, so his wife must surely be angry with me. She’ll say that I’m showing favoritism.” But to my surprise, not only was she not angry, but she said to me cheerfully, “Mom, you and dad aren’t getting any younger. Don’t worry yourselves anymore about helping us with our work. Just take care of your health!” I was very surprised to hear her say this. It was indeed the first time she had ever said something so considerate of us. She had never said anything like this before! And later it happened again—I said to my sons and their wives, “Your children are going to start middle school, so I’m going to buy each of them a bicycle.” So I bought a bicycle for my elder son’s child, but then something came up and I had to spend all the money I had left over; I could no longer afford to buy a bicycle for my younger son’s child. My daughter-in-law’s mother ended up buying him a bicycle. I felt bad and thought: “My daughter-in-law has to be upset with me and she’s going to say that I don’t follow through on what I say.” But to my surprise, not only was she not upset but she comforted me by saying, “Mom, there’s no need to be sorry for not buying my child a bicycle. You and dad keep your money from now on and spend it on yourselves. Don’t worry about us!” I was really surprised by these two events. Ever since my daughter-in-law had begun believing in Almighty God, she no longer wrangled with me over things, but instead showed care and consideration for us—she really had changed. And my husband always used to lose his temper with me at the drop of a hat—the slightest thing would set him off. But now he always had a smile when he spoke to me, and even sometimes when I was angry at him, he would endure it patiently and would say calmly to me, “We believe in the same God. Our fleshly relationship is that of husband and wife, but spiritually speaking we are brother and sister. We should love each other, be understanding and forgiving of each other, and live by God’s word. Don’t you think so? I used to have a bad temper and would get angry really easily, and this was the result of my satanic corrupt disposition. I was too arrogant and conceited and lacked proper humanity. Now, I have read a lot of Almighty God’s words, and I have come to understand that God’s work of the last days is to save mankind by expressing His words. In seeking to attain God’s salvation, people need to put God’s words into practice in real life, and handle every matter in accordance with the principles of the truth. I have to forsake my flesh, practice in accordance with God’s words, and live out proper humanity.” Looking at my husband, my son and his wife, I kept pondering in my heart: “They only accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days two short years ago, so how have they changed so much? I can’t help but be convinced by this. I’ve believed in the Lord for so many years now, and I read the Bible and pray every single day, so why haven’t I changed at all in all this time? When something happens to me, why do I always sink into sin that I can’t extricate myself from? Only God has the power to change people. Could it be that the Almighty God they believe in is the Lord Jesus returned? If this really is true and I keep refusing to accept it, won’t the Lord abandon me? Wouldn’t I be a fool to have such great salvation laid out before me but fail to attain it?” Thinking this, I couldn’t help but feel some anxiety. I wanted to seek and investigate it, but I was embarrassed to talk to my family about it.
One day when my husband was out, I secretly took out the book he was always reading. The moment I looked at the cover, the six large words “The Word Appears in The Flesh” written in glittering gold leaped out at me, and I thought: “What mysteries does this book contain exactly? It can change people so much—I have to read it carefully.” Gingerly, I opened the book and saw these words written there: “This incarnation is God’s second incarnation, which follows upon Jesus’ work. Of course, this incarnation does not occur independently; it is the third stage of work after the Age of Law and the Age of Grace. Every time God initiates a new stage of work, there must always be a new beginning and it must always bring a new age. So too are there corresponding changes in the disposition of God, in the manner of His working, in the location of His work, and in His name. No wonder, then, that it is difficult for man to accept the work of God in the new age. But regardless of how He is opposed by man, God is always doing His work, and is always leading the whole of mankind forward. When Jesus came into the world of man, He ushered in the Age of Grace and ended the Age of Law. During the last days, God once more became flesh, and with this incarnation He ended the Age of Grace and ushered in the Age of Kingdom. All those who are able to accept the second incarnation of God will be led into the Age of Kingdom, and will moreover become able to personally accept the guidance of God” (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh). After reading this, I pondered: If God’s second incarnation brought the work of the Age of Grace to an end, could it be that God is no longer working in churches from the Age of Grace? Have we now entered the Age of Kingdom? It says here: “All those who are able to accept the second incarnation of God will be led into the Age of Kingdom, and will moreover become able to personally accept the guidance of God.” Since my husband, my son and his wife accepted Almighty God’s work, they have really changed a lot. Could it be possible that the Almighty God they believe in truly is the Lord Jesus returned? Are they really following God’s footsteps and accepting God’s personal guidance? Otherwise, how could they understand so many truths and how could they have changed so much? This must be the result of the work of the Holy Spirit—this isn’t something they could achieve on their own, without the work of the Holy Spirit. Just as this thought occurred to me I suddenly saw that my husband was coming home. I hurriedly put the book back where it had been, and thought: He mustn’t know that I’ve been reading his book, or he’ll laugh at me.
The next day when my husband went out to attend a gathering, and I once again took out that book and began to read. I read this passage: “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” (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh). I really mulled over this passage. The Lord Jesus redeemed all of mankind by being crucified, but He did not eliminate man’s corrupt dispositions. A sinful nature remains within man—this is absolutely true. As for those of us who believe in the Lord, we often fail to uphold the Lord’s teachings; and we lie and cheat, and every day we sin and then confess, constantly mired in sin and helpless to free ourselves from the bonds of sin. This is an undeniable fact. Just then these words of God in the Bible came to mind: “You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45). God asks that we achieve holiness, and yet we often sin and displease the Lord—how is that holy? God is holy, and His kingdom cannot be tarnished. So how could we, who sin so often, enter the kingdom of heaven? This thought left me a bit frustrated, and I reread this passage: “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.” Could it be that Almighty God’s work of the last days is an even greater work performed by the returned Lord Jesus? Is it only through accepting and experiencing the judgment of Almighty God that we can rid ourselves of sin, and be purified and transformed? Is it possible that the changes wrought in my husband and my daughter-in-law have come from their experiences of Almighty God’s work of chastisement and judgment? My husband, my son and his wife had believed in God for such a short time and yet had come to understand some truths, plus they could articulate their understanding of their own corrupt dispositions, seek God’s will when things happened to them, and could find a path of practice. Whereas I, on the other hand, had believed in the Lord for many years, and yet if someone had asked me what exactly faith in God was or what exactly God’s will was, to be honest, I would have been tongue-tied, much less able to talk about any changes in my disposition. Thinking of myself compared to them, I felt truly ashamed! It looked to me that I had to investigate Almighty God’s work of the last days in earnest.
From then on, every day I secretly read the book The Word Appears in the Flesh behind my husband’s back, and the more I read it, the brighter I felt within my heart and the more I enjoyed reading it. Sometimes I didn’t even want to attend service at my church, but just stayed home reading this book. Once, I read these words of Almighty God: “I will surely illuminate and enlighten all those who hunger and thirst for righteousness and who search with sincerity. I will show to all of you the mysteries of the spiritual world and the way forward, cause you to cast off your old corrupt dispositions as soon as possible, so that you may achieve life maturity and be fit for My use, and so that the work of the gospel may soon proceed without hindrance. Only then will My will be satisfied, only then will God’s six-thousand-year management plan be accomplished in the shortest possible time. God will gain the kingdom and will come down to earth, and together we will enter into glory!” (“Chapter 8” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I then couldn’t help but think of these words from the Lord Jesus: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). The more I read, the more I felt that the words of Almighty God and the words of the Lord Jesus shared a single source. The words from both of Them possess authority and power, and so it seemed highly likely to me that Almighty God was indeed the Lord Jesus returned! At this thought, I was stunned: I knew that if this was true, I had to hurry to accept Almighty God’s work of the last days, for if I kept refusing to accept it, I would be really left behind by God’s work! But how could I tell my family? They had shared the gospel with me quite a lot in the past, but I’d always refused to accept it. If I said now that I was willing to accept Almighty God’s work of the last days, what would they think of me? Just as I was wavering in indecision, God opened a way for me.
One day, my daughter-in-law and another sister came to share the gospel with me again. I knew then that this was a God-given opportunity, so I told them honestly: “Actually, I’ve been reading a lot of Almighty God’s words in secret and I feel that these words come from God. There is simply no way any human being could utter words that carry such authority and power.” My daughter-in-law was amazed to hear me say this, and she looked at the other sister and laughed with joy. I went on: “But there is something I still don’t quite understand. The Lord Jesus prophesied ‘And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory’ (Luke 21:27). We believers all long for the return of the Lord Jesus, for Him to come down amongst us on a white cloud. But you say that the Lord has already returned, that Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned. So why haven’t we seen the Lord come on a white cloud? Please fellowship with me on this.”
The sister responded earnestly, “Thanks be to God! As we all know, there are many verses in the Bible that prophesy the Lord’s return. But if we look carefully, we will see that the Lord’s return is prophesied in two different ways: One is that the Lord will come openly on a cloud and everyone will see Him, like in Luke 21:27 that says ‘And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.’ The other is that the Lord will come in secret, like a thief, and no one will know, as in Matthew 24:36: ‘But of that day and hour knows no man, not the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but My Father only.’ We can see that the Lord’s coming will happen in two stages: First, He will come in secret, and after He has performed one stage of His work, then His coming will be made known. What you’re talking about is the prophecy of the Lord coming openly, whereas we are currently in the stage of the prophecy of His secret coming being fulfilled. This is the stage in which God becomes flesh to perform His work and save mankind. Once God has finished working in the flesh, He will then come openly so that all may see Him….”
Hearing this fellowship illuminated my heart, and I thought: “As it turns out, it is prophesied in the Bible that the Lord will come in two different ways. First, He will come in secret, and afterward He will come openly—this truly is a mystery! I’ve been reading the Bible all these years, how is that I never discovered this? But now that I think about it, I’m sure this is the case!”
My daughter-in-law said to me, “Mom, the time that Almighty God performs His work in the flesh to judge and purify man with words is the stage in which God comes in secret, and it is when God exposes people and separates us according to our kind. Let’s read the words of Almighty God to better understand this aspect of the truth.” She then read: “Many people may not care what I say, but I still want to tell every so-called saint who follows Jesus that, when you see Jesus descend from the heaven upon a white cloud with your own eyes, this will be the public appearance of the Sun of righteousness. Perhaps that will be a time of great excitement for you, yet you should know that the time when you witness Jesus descend from the heaven is also the time when you go down to hell to be punished. That will be the time of the end of God’s management plan and it will be when God rewards the good and punishes the wicked. For the judgment of God will have ended before man sees signs, when there is only the expression of truth. Those who accept the truth and do not seek signs, and thus have been purified, shall have returned before the throne of God and entered the Creator’s embrace. Only those who persist in the belief that ‘The Jesus who does not ride upon a white cloud is a false Christ’ shall be subjected to everlasting punishment, for they only believe in the Jesus who exhibits signs, but do not acknowledge the Jesus who proclaims severe judgment and releases the true way and life. And so it can only be that Jesus deals with them when He openly returns upon a white cloud. They are too stubborn, too confident in themselves, too arrogant. How could such degenerates be rewarded by Jesus? The return of Jesus is a great salvation for those who are capable of accepting the truth, but for those who are unable to accept the truth it is a sign of condemnation” (“By the Time You Behold the Spiritual Body of Jesus, God Will Have Made Heaven and Earth Anew” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
The sister continued her fellowship. “From God’s words, we can see that while Almighty God is performing His work in secret, He only does the work of judging and chastising people with words. That is to say, He expresses all truths to provide us with what we need in life, and all who accept God’s work of the last days, who go through the chastisement and judgment of God’s words, who come to understand the truth and know God, and whose life dispositions are changed, are the overcomers who will be made by God prior to the disasters. Once these overcomers have been made, God’s great work will be successfully completed, and the work He performs in secret will also come to an end. It is after that that God will come with clouds and appear openly to all nations and peoples. Some people cling blindly to their own notions, waiting only for the Lord Jesus to come with clouds, yet they refuse to accept any of the truths expressed by God while He performs His work in secret. These are all people who rebel against God and defy Him, and if they cannot turn back to God and accept His salvation of the last days, then they will be wailing and gnashing their teeth in the midst of the great disasters. It’s prophesied in Revelation 1:7, ‘Behold, He comes with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen.’ Think about it: When the Lord comes with the clouds, everyone will see Him, and what else would they do other than welcome His coming with great joy? So then why would all peoples wail? It’s because that, when God comes openly, they will see that the Almighty God whom they have defied is indeed the Lord Jesus returned, so how could they not then beat their breasts, wail and gnash their teeth?”
I kept nodding my head as I listened to the sister’s fellowship, and I said, “Ah, I never understood this verse before. I asked the pastor in my church, but he didn’t explain it clearly. It turns out that this verse is referring to all those who refuse to accept Almighty God’s salvation in the last days, to all those who defy Him.” At that moment, I couldn’t help but think of how time after time my family had shared the gospel with me, and yet I had resisted and refused to accept it—I felt very distressed. Remorsefully, I said to the sister, “If I hadn’t read Almighty God’s words, if Almighty God’s words hadn’t opened the door to my heart and allowed me to have a heart of seeking, I fear I still wouldn’t be listening to your fellowships, but would still be obsessed with waiting for the Lord Jesus to come on a white cloud and appear openly to people. I really am so ignorant and foolish! Only now do I understand that the stage of God’s secret work is indeed a wonderful opportunity for us to accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, and to cast off our corrupt dispositions so that we may attain full salvation! When God comes on a cloud and appears openly to man, His work of salvation will have already ended, and He will begin to reward the good and punish the wicked. And when that happens, even if I am utterly gutted with regret, it will be too late. I give thanks to God for not abandoning me and for giving me this chance at salvation. I wish to accept Almighty God’s work of the last days!”
I later took the initiative and asked to join The Church of Almighty God, and like my husband, son and daughter-in-law, I read God’s words and fellowship on the truth every day, and I am experiencing the judgment, chastisement, purification and salvation of God’s words. In the big family of The Church of Almighty God, I live a true life of the church, and my spirit is filled with peace and joy. I truly feel how great God’s love for me is; it’s just that I was so numb and I kept God waiting so long. I thank God for meticulously arranging all sorts of people, events and things to lead and guide me step by step back into God’s family—I thank God for bringing me a different kind of salvation!