Hindered in My Faith
By Pinbo, China
I became a Catholic in 1988. A few years later, I was appointed as a deacon. No matter how busy I was, I actively attended services, and I observed the Sabbath and the holy days. But later, the church gradually became stagnant. Believers’ faith cooled and they stopped keeping the Lord’s Day. People were even snoring while we said the Rosary in services, and lots of believers went out to work and earn money. I couldn’t feel the Holy Spirit’s presence either, but I forced myself to attend services.
Then, in the fall of 2002, a neighbor testified to me about Almighty God’s work of the last days. By eating and drinking Almighty God’s words, I learned about God’s three stages of work, mysteries of the truth about His incarnations, and that the church had become desolate because the Holy Spirit’s work had moved on and God was doing new work. We had to keep up with God’s footsteps and accept His judgment work of the last days to break free of the bonds of sin and have a chance at entering God’s kingdom. By reading Almighty God’s words, my wife and I became certain that He is the Lord returned and happily accepted His work of the last days. What I didn’t expect was that a month later, the deacons and priest began harassing and hindering us.
One day, a few deacons came to our house with my father. Seeing their aggressive bearing made me a bit nervous. I was sure they knew I’d accepted God’s new work and had come to try to stop me. They’d believed in the Lord for many years and some had gone to divinity school, so I wasn’t as well versed in biblical knowledge as they were. I’d just accepted God’s work of the last days and hadn’t learned much of the truth, so I didn’t know how to handle it if they really pressured me. I said a silent prayer to God: “Oh God, I don’t know how to face them. Please guide me, give me faith, and protect me so I can stand strong.” I felt calmer after praying. Then, an older deacon said to me, “You’ve been a Catholic for over 10 years and you’re a deacon. I never imagined you’d accept Eastern Lightning. I’m so disappointed. Those Eastern Lightning people say that the Lord has returned—did you see Him? If He really had returned, how would the priests not know? They know the Bible very well—they’ve devoted their lives to God and suffered so much. If the Lord returned, it’s only right that He would reveal it to them.” I remembered something brothers and sisters with The Church of Almighty God told me: Lots of people think that the Lord Jesus will reveal it to the priests first when He returns, but is that true? Is there any basis for that in God’s words? Did the Lord Jesus ever say that? In fact, the Lord Jesus never said He’d reveal it to the priests first when He returned, or told us to wait for a revelation. And He told us: “My sheep hear My voice: and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). “Behold, I stand at the gate, and knock. If any man shall hear My voice, and open to Me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). The Lord was very clear. If we want to welcome the Lord, the key is to carefully listen for God’s voice and seek expressions of the truth. Just as in the Age of Grace, the disciples didn’t follow the Lord Jesus because they received a revelation, but because they heard the truths the Lord Jesus expressed, and saw that He was the Messiah who was to come, and they gained God’s salvation. But the Jewish leaders refused to accept the truths expressed by the Lord Jesus. They condemned, blasphemed, and judged His work, and in the end had Him crucified. This offended God’s disposition and they were cursed by the Lord Jesus. Now the Lord Jesus has returned as Almighty God, Christ of the last days, expressing so many truths, which are the words of the Holy Spirit. This fulfills the prophecy “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches” (Revelation 3:6). Many brothers and sisters who are true believers have read Almighty God’s words and recognized these words as the truth, as the voice of God, and welcomed the Lord. How many priests chose to look into God’s work and words? Not only did they not seek and investigate, they condemned and judged God’s work of the last days, and kept believers from accepting the true way. They had no desire to seek the truth. They didn’t hear God’s voice and welcome the Lord based on His words, but said He’d reveal His return to them first. How could that be? I shared this understanding with the deacons, but the words were barely out of my mouth when one of them jumped up, pointed at me and said, “You may know a fair bit now, but don’t forget what it says in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 24, verses 23–24: ‘Then if any man shall say to you: Lo here is Christ, or there, do not believe him. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect.’ The Scripture is very clear. All claims that the Lord has come are false. All claims that He has become flesh are false. You’ve been profoundly deceived—you’d better confess and repent without delay! If you don’t turn back, you’re at risk of being expelled, and then it will be too late for regrets.”
I was disgusted by what he said. I thought: “These deacons spend all day interpreting the Scripture for others, but won’t look into something as huge as the coming of the Lord, and even blindly condemn, judge, and attempt to stop me from investigating the true way. Isn’t this just like the Pharisees?” I said to him, “It is true that the Bible says false Christs will appear in the last days, but the Lord long ago prophesied that He would definitely return—this is a fact. According to what you’re saying, all news of the Lord’s coming is false, so isn’t that just flat-out condemning the Lord’s return? Then how would we welcome Him? In fact, the Lord Jesus was telling us the principles for discerning false Christs. False Christs are evil spirits in disguise and they do not possess God’s essence, so they can’t express the truth and they can’t do the work of saving humanity. All they can do is imitate the Lord Jesus’ past work, displaying some paltry signs and wonders to mislead people.” I thought of some of God’s words brothers and sisters had read for me before. “If, during the present day, there is to emerge a person who is able to display signs and wonders, cast out demons, heal the sick, and perform many miracles, and if this person claims that they are Jesus who has come, then this would be a counterfeit produced by evil spirits which imitate Jesus. Remember this! God does not repeat the same work. Jesus’ stage of work has already been completed, and God will never again undertake that stage of work” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Knowing God’s Work Today). “God become flesh is called Christ, and so the Christ that can give people the truth is called God. There is nothing excessive about this, for He possesses the essence of God, and possesses God’s disposition, and wisdom in His work, that are unattainable by man. Those who call themselves Christ, yet cannot do the work of God, are frauds. Christ is not merely the manifestation of God on earth, but also the particular flesh assumed by God as He carries out and completes His work among man. This flesh cannot be supplanted by just any man, but is a flesh that can adequately bear God’s work on earth, and express the disposition of God, and well represent God, and provide man with life. Sooner or later, those who impersonate Christ will all fall, for although they claim to be Christ, they possess none of the essence of Christ. And so I say that the authenticity of Christ cannot be defined by man, but is answered and decided by God Himself” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life). God’s words clarify how to distinguish false Christs from the true Christ. So, I said to them, “Christ is God’s Spirit clothed in the flesh. From the outside, Christ looks just like a regular person, but God’s Spirit resides within—He is the embodiment of the Spirit of God, so He has a divine essence and can express truth anywhere, anytime, showing God’s disposition, and all that He has and is. He can do the work of redeeming and saving humanity. Aside from Christ, no one can express the truth, let alone save mankind. There is no doubt about this. And so, the key to telling the true Christ from false ones is to see if they can express the truth, and if they can perform the work of salvation. This is the key, fundamental principle. It’s just like when the Lord Jesus came to work in the Age of Grace. He expressed truths and showed people the way of repentance, performed many miracles and the work of redeeming all of mankind. By accepting the Lord Jesus’ work, and confessing and repenting to Him, their sins were forgiven and they gained a sense of peace and joy in their hearts. The Lord Jesus’ work and words were full of power and authority. He displayed God’s disposition, and all that He has and is. We all knew from our hearts that He was Christ incarnate, that He was the appearance of God. Now Almighty God, Christ of the last days has come, doing the work of judgment, expressing all truths that cleanse and save mankind. He has not only revealed so many mysteries of the truth, like God’s three stages of work and His incarnations, but He has exposed the root of humanity’s corruption by Satan. Through the judgment and revelations of Almighty God’s words, we can understand the root of our sins and see our own satanic natures, despise ourselves from the heart and repent to God, then ultimately cast off sin, be fully saved, and enter God’s kingdom. Aside from God Himself, who could do the work of judgment in the last days? Who could express all truths that cleanse and save mankind? No human could do that. These facts prove that Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned, the appearance of Christ of the last days. All of you think I’ve been misled, but why won’t you take a look at whether Almighty God’s words are the truth? Why won’t you look into Almighty God’s work to save humanity?”
At that point another deacon said, “The priest has stressed time and again not to read Eastern Lightning’s book because its teachings are very lofty, and many good sheep, leading sheep from all denominations have converted to Eastern Lightning after reading that book. That’s why we can’t read Eastern Lightning’s book or listen to their preaching. It’s so we’re not led astray.” So what I said to them was, “I used to think the same thing as you. Afraid of being misled, I wouldn’t listen to, read, or have contact with anything about the Lord’s coming, but then someone shared the gospel with me. I read Almighty God’s words and saw that this was the wrong approach. Almighty God says, ‘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. You should choose your own path, and should not blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and reject the truth. You should not be an ignorant and arrogant person, but someone who obeys the guidance of the Holy Spirit and longs for and seeks the truth; only in this way will you benefit. I advise you to tread the path of belief in God with care. Do not jump to conclusions; what is more, do not be casual and thoughtless in your belief in God. You should know that, at the very least, those who believe in God should be humble and reverential. Those who have heard the truth and yet turn their nose up at it are foolish and ignorant. Those who have heard the truth and yet carelessly jump to conclusions or condemn it are beset by arrogance. No one who believes in Jesus is qualified to curse or condemn others. You should all be someone with sense and who accepts the truth. … Perhaps, having only read a few sentences, some people will blindly condemn these words, saying, “This is nothing more than some enlightenment of the Holy Spirit,” or, “This is a false Christ come to deceive people.” Those who say such things are blinded by ignorance! You understand too little of the work and wisdom of God, and I advise you to start again from scratch! You must not blindly condemn the words expressed by God because of the appearance of false Christs during the last days, and you must not be someone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit because you fear deception. Would that not be a great pity?’ (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. By the Time You Behold the Spiritual Body of Jesus, God Will Have Made Heaven and Earth Anew). I learned from God’s words that we can’t make blind assumptions about something as momentous as the Lord’s return. Before, when the Lord Jesus came to work, He expressed so many truths, and performed lots of signs and wonders, but the Pharisees didn’t seek or investigate this, or listen to His teachings. They madly resisted and condemned Him. As a result, they offended God’s disposition and ended up cursed and punished by God. In the last days, if we don’t have a heart of seeking about welcoming the Lord, but just blindly judge and condemn, we’re likely to wind up on the Pharisees’ path against God. God tells us to be modest, reasonable people who long to seek the truth. If we don’t do any seeking, but unthinkingly listen to the priests, and don’t welcome the Lord based on His own words, we’re likely to end up resisting God and being punished.” A deacon replied angrily, “Catholicism is the only true way. The Bible is all we need for our faith in the Lord.” My father chimed in with a stern look, “Everyone’s been concerned about you being misled. Also, we’ve been a family of Catholics for generations. How could that be wrong? Why are you so disobedient?” I said to him, “There’s nothing wrong with believing in the Lord, but now He’s doing new work. We’ll be cast aside if we don’t keep up with it. Keeping pace with God’s new work is our only chance at getting into the kingdom of heaven.” But no matter what I said, it all fell on deaf ears. I realized that even though they had status and biblical knowledge, they had no understanding of the voice of God, and no desire to seek. I didn’t bother to say anything more. Seeing how resolute I was in my faith in Almighty God, they just stormed out of the house.
I thought they’d be done bothering me, but to my surprise, an elder deacon of our village fanned the flames with my parents, saying my wife and I were taking the wrong path, and told them to think of a way to get us back into the fold. My mom listened to him, then advised me, “You and your wife believe in Almighty God now. The priests know the Bible better than you two, so why haven’t they converted? Give up that faith.” She went on and on, then started crying. No matter how I fellowshiped, my mom just wouldn’t listen. After that, she kept coming to our house every few days in tears. One time around midnight, I was startled awake by a knocking on the door. Opening the door, I saw my mom, crying and yelling, “Ever since you two started believing in Almighty God, I just haven’t been able to get any sleep. I raised you all those years—why won’t you listen to me? Listen to me and come back to the church….” I said to her, “In the Catholic Church, we believed in the Lord Jesus, and now we believe in the return of the Lord Jesus. This is the same God. The Lord Jesus’ work of redemption was just to forgive us of our sins, not to rid us of our sinful nature. His work didn’t thoroughly save us from sin. The Lord Jesus has returned in the last days as Almighty God. He’s expressing truths and doing the work of judgment on the foundation of the Lord’s work of redemption to fully cleanse and save man. Accepting God’s work of the last days is our only chance to be purified, fully saved, and enter God’s kingdom. I’ve caught up with the Lamb’s footsteps and found the path to the kingdom of heaven. I’m not going back to the church.” But my mom simply wouldn’t listen. Realizing that no matter what she said, I was firm in my faith in Almighty God, she started sobbing. Seeing her in so much pain made me feel awful. I’d always been really close with my parents, but now they just couldn’t understand me, and the deacons were oppressing and harassing me. With this path of faith being so rough, how should I walk it? Then I remembered something Almighty God said: “Do not be discouraged, do not be weak, and I will make things clear for you. The road to the kingdom is not so smooth; nothing is that simple! You want blessings to come to you easily, do you not? Today, everyone will have bitter trials to face. Without such trials, the loving heart you have for Me will not grow stronger and you will not have true love for Me. Even if these trials consist merely of minor circumstances, everyone must pass through them; it’s just that the difficulty of the trials will vary from one person to another. … Those who share in My bitterness will certainly share in My sweetness. That is My promise and My blessing to you” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 41). God’s words shamed me. I’d hoped belief in God would be smooth sailing, that I could be saved without any suffering, but that’s not reality. The path to the kingdom of heaven isn’t smooth, we experience all sorts of oppression, trials, tribulations, and suffering. But God will use these challenging situations to perfect our faith and love for God. I thought of the disciples who followed the Lord Jesus long ago. They hadn’t heard so many truths, but when they faced oppression and hardship, they were able to maintain their faith in the Lord. I had the good fortune to welcome the returned Lord, to read the truths expressed by God in the last days, and find the path to full salvation. I couldn’t give up the true way just because of my mother, and lose my chance to gain the truth and life.
After that, my mom kept crying in front of me all the time, and said that she’d cut off ties with me if I kept my faith in Almighty God, and we’d go our separate ways. To tell the truth, seeing her this way was really painful for me. Bringing me up hadn’t been easy for her. She’d been so loving toward me, always caring for me and showing me so much concern. She was already 66 years old and not in great health. I not only wasn’t being filial to her, but was causing her so much distress all the time. If she fell ill, my conscience wouldn’t be able to bear it. I was feeling some weakness, and felt like I really owed her. I opened up to my brothers and sisters about my state, and they read me a passage of Almighty God’s words: “You must suffer hardship for the truth, you must give yourself to the truth, you must endure humiliation for the truth, and to gain more of the truth you must undergo more suffering. This is what you should do. You must not throw away the truth for the sake of a peaceful family life, and you must not lose your life’s dignity and integrity for the sake of momentary enjoyment. You should pursue all that is beautiful and good, and you should pursue a path in life that is more meaningful” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment). I knew very clearly that God’s words are the truth, and that I should give up everything for my pursuit, but I was held back by emotion. Seeing my mother’s tears and sorrow, I thought that as her son, allowing her to be so sad was being unfilial. But in fact, though my mother raised me into adulthood, loved and cared for me, and I should be filial and take care of her in our home life, my very life was given to me by God, and only God could save me. I had the good fortune to hear God’s voice now, to be graced by God in the last days and have this chance at salvation. I couldn’t give up the true way and betray God because of family strife. The Lord Jesus also said, “If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).
Later, I read another passage of Almighty God’s words. “In every step of work that God does within people, externally it appears to be interactions between people, as if born of human arrangements or from human interference. But behind the scenes, every step of work, and everything that happens, is a wager made by Satan before God, and requires people to stand firm in their testimony to God. Take when Job was tried, for example: Behind the scenes, Satan was making a bet with God, and what happened to Job was the deeds of men and the interference of men. Behind every step of work that God does in you is Satan’s wager with God—behind it all is a battle” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God). After reading this passage I realized that on the outside, it looked like this was my mother obstructing me, but behind that were Satan’s disruptions and manipulations. Satan was attacking me through my affections and my filial piety for my mother, to get me to betray God and lose my chance at salvation. I’d shared fellowship with her so many times on Almighty God’s work of the last days, but she never sought or investigated it. She just adulated status and power, and listened to the priest and deacons. She was so miserable now because she lacked discernment, and blindly believed what others said. It wasn’t because of my faith. This realization was very freeing and I clearly saw how evil and vile Satan is. God’s work saves people, but Satan tries everything to entice people to pull away from God, to betray Him. I couldn’t fall for its tricks, but I had to stand firm in witness.
Later, I went to a church friend’s house to share the gospel, but the priest was there. Seeing me, he clutched both of my arms and said to me somberly, “You’re still preaching Eastern Lightning. If you don’t repent, I’m taking you to the police.” I still didn’t relent. Then he said unctuously, “I’d been planning on training you for an important position. I wanted you to manage all the churches in our northern region. I never thought you’d go over to Eastern Lightning. How disappointing! If you turn back now, I’ll still consider making you a head deacon. If you won’t come to your senses, I’m kicking you out of the church immediately and telling the other parishioners to cut ties with you. All your past efforts, everything you’ve done will be for naught.” When he said that, I thought, he’d never talked about cultivating me before, so why would he do that now that I’d accepted God’s work of the last days? Wasn’t that Satan using the priest to tempt me? The priest wanted to bribe me with status so that I’d betray God. That was Satan’s trick. If I gave up the true way and betrayed God for a position, I’d lose my chance to be saved and get into the kingdom of heaven. Then having rank would be totally meaningless, and in the end I’d be cast out and punished. I said all that to the priest, which made him really angry. Unable to refute what I’d said, he started shooing me off: “Get out of here and don’t preach around here anymore, or I’ll report you to the police.” He pushed me out the door as he spoke. On the way home, I thought: As a priest, not looking into something as important as the Lord’s return, and taking the lead in condemnation, resistance, and stopping believers from investigating, even threatening to have me arrested, he couldn’t be a true believer. Later on, when my mother saw how firm we were in our faith, she stopped trying to stand in our way, and told us that she’d done all that before because an elder deacon had told her to. I was furious. I remembered the Lord condemning the Pharisees: “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men, for you yourselves do not enter in; and those that are going in, you suffer not to enter. … Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you go round about the sea and the land to make one proselyte; and when he is made, you make him the child of hell twofold more than yourselves” (Matthew 23:13, 15). There’s also a passage of Almighty God’s words. “There are those who read the Bible in grand churches and recite it all day long, yet not one among them understands the purpose of God’s work. Not one among them is able to know God; still less can any one among them accord with God’s will. They are all worthless, vile people, each standing on high to lecture God. They willfully oppose God even as they carry His banner. Claiming faith in God, still they eat the flesh and drink the blood of man. All such people are devils that devour the soul of man, head demons that deliberately get in the way of those trying to step onto the right path, and stumbling blocks impeding those who seek God. They may appear of ‘sound constitution,’ but how are their followers to know that they are none other than antichrists who lead people to stand against God? How are their followers to know that they are living devils dedicated to the devouring of human souls?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. All People Who Do Not Know God Are People Who Oppose God). I saw from the revelations of God’s words that today’s leaders in the religious world are just like the Pharisees. They are antichrists who hate the truth and make God their enemy. Before, the Pharisees madly concocted all sorts of rumors, fought against and condemned the Lord Jesus, and misled and kept believers from following Him. It was so they could hold on to their status and source of income. Now, leaders in the religious world see that everything Almighty God expresses is the truth, and as soon as true believers read it, they recognize God’s voice. They’re afraid that everyone will follow God and stop adulating and supporting them. They won’t hesitate to misinterpret the Scripture just to protect their status and livings, and they spread fallacies, saying all news of the Lord’s coming is false, any preaching of God coming in the flesh is false, so that believers won’t listen to, believe, or have contact with those preaching the Lord’s coming. As soon as someone accepts God’s new work, they do everything in their power to stop them, even handing those who share the gospel over to the satanic regime. These religious leaders not only won’t welcome the Lord themselves, but they keep believers firmly controlled within their grasp so everyone follows them in resisting God, falling into disaster, and being punished. They’re so sinister and malicious. They are the antichrists of the last days exposed by God, and they deserve God’s damnation! After that, no matter how they harassed or hindered me, I stayed strong in my faith and kept sharing the gospel.
Throughout that time I was being hindered in my faith, I could feel God’s love. God’s words guided me, allowing me to overcome Satan’s temptations and disruptions time after time. I also clearly saw how the priests and deacons, these religious leaders, are antichrists against God, how they are stumbling blocks keeping people from entering the kingdom. I rejected them from the heart, firm in my faith to follow Almighty God. Thank God!