I Nearly Missed My Chance to Welcome the Lord

January 18, 2022

By Wang Lei, China

My wife and I became Christians in 1995, and we were really eager in our pursuit from then on, and before long we were co-workers for the Sola Fide Church. Then around 2000, lots of members of that church heard Eastern Lightning’s gospel and started believing in Almighty God. From then on, the pastors and elders were constantly preaching against Eastern Lightning in co-workers’ gatherings. One time, Pastor Wang mentioned that in the Bible, Paul said: “I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ to another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:6–8). He also said that we have to follow the way of the Lord, and listening to any other gospel is betraying the Lord and we’ll be damned. He said that Eastern Lightning preached the Lord had already returned and was performing the judgment work of the last days through His words, and that this was another gospel. He said we couldn’t listen to it, and we especially couldn’t believe it—that would be betraying the Lord. He urged us to immediately show someone the door if they told us about Eastern Lightning. Every time our pastors brought up these Bible verses, I’d silently warn myself, “The clergy won’t let us be in contact with Eastern Lightning, and that’s for our own good. I don’t have a good understanding of the Scripture and my stature is small, so I can’t listen to just anything. I’ve enjoyed so much of the Lord’s grace. I can’t betray Him!” I had friends and relatives who shared the gospel with me several times, but I rejected all of them. I figured I had to keep to the Lord’s way, and I couldn’t listen to just anything. What would I do if I were misled and then rejected by the Lord? One day my niece came to share the gospel with me and my wife, and I responded coldly, “It says in the Bible, ‘But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed’ (Galatians 1:8). We believe in the Lord Jesus, and if we follow any other path, that would be apostasy and a betrayal of the Lord. We would be damned. You should confess and repent to the Lord right away.” I was listening to what the pastor had said. No matter who came to share the gospel of God in the last days, I didn’t listen to them no matter what, and I used any excuse whatsoever to get rid of them.

Another time when my wife and I were out working in the fields, she said to me very cautiously, “The Lord Jesus has returned. He is Almighty God.” When she said this I realized that not only had she listened to Eastern Lightning’s gospel, but she had accepted it. I was furious, and lashed out at her, saying, “The clergy have stressed time and again that we can’t listen to Eastern Lightning. Why didn’t you listen to them? Accepting another way is betraying the Lord, and you won’t be able to get into God’s kingdom!” I was getting more and more upset, and thought of this Bible verse: “Neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep yourself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22). I thought that since she had accepted Eastern Lightning and betrayed the Lord, I couldn’t have a part in her sins. I told the pastor about it right away so that he could urge her to turn back. He was really upset to hear this and said, “Listening to people preach other beliefs is a betrayal of the Lord, and she’ll be kicked out of the church. See if she has any books, and destroy them if you find any. Get back home right away to keep an eye on her. You absolutely cannot let her go out and listen to those people.” Hearing this, I thought, “Yeah! The only way to save my wife is to do what the pastor says. Otherwise, she’ll be rejected by the Lord and she’ll lose her chance to go to heaven.” From then on, I kept a close eye on my wife and wouldn’t let her have any contact with people from Eastern Lightning as long as I was around. I had our two daughters keep watch over her when I went to work. But she was still sneaking out to gatherings. I came home from work one day and when I didn’t see my wife, I knew she was at another gathering. I was really mad. I couldn’t keep her reined in no matter what I did, so I figured I should use a heavier hand. I couldn’t just stand by and watch her betray the Lord and be cast out by Him. When she came back, I raised a hand against her. I’d never hit her before in all our years of marriage. I felt terrible about it, but then I figured, I was just afraid she’d end up on the wrong path and lose out on the Lord’s salvation. But no matter what I did, she stayed strong in her belief in Eastern Lightning. Not knowing what to do, I thought of what Pastor Wang had said about destroying her books. I thought he was right, that without books to read, how could she practice her faith? In a rage, I secretly found her books and destroyed them, but she still had no intention of turning back. She always found a way to escape my watch and go to gatherings, and she was always telling me I should read Almighty God’s words to see for myself if it was the voice of God. To tell the truth, I was wavering. My wife has always been really easygoing—she’s never been a really headstrong person. I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t give an inch this time. I wondered what Eastern Lightning really was preaching, and why it had drawn her in so strongly. I did want to read Almighty God’s words. But when I remembered what the pastor had said, I warned myself, “We have to stay on the Lord’s way in our faith. Straying would be a betrayal of the Lord!” So I firmly refused.

One day when I was down in the coal mine, a detonator that a co-worker was lighting suddenly exploded on him, and he was blinded right on the spot. I wasn’t far away, but I was totally fine. I was shaking with fear. I really felt bad for my co-worker, but at the same time, I was so happy that God had protected me. My nerves still hadn’t settled when I got home and I told my wife about what had happened. Her response was, “He’s physically blind, but you’re spiritually blind. I’m always telling you that you should read Almighty God’s words, but you refuse and even condemn Him. You came out unscathed because of God’s protection, but it was also His warning for you!” Hearing her say this affected me. What if it really was God warning me? A few days later when I was inspecting the conveyor belt in the mine, I suddenly got really dizzy and nearly fell onto the belt. I broke out in a cold sweat, and knew that if I’d fallen, I would have turned into mincemeat. I had this sense of panic that I can’t describe and I told my wife about it when I got home. I asked her, “As a believer, why aren’t I being kept safe? What’s going on?” She said, “The Lord Jesus really has returned. He’s Almighty God. You keep resisting Him, so this is God warning you! You have to stop fighting Him.” I did feel afraid at the time and felt that I shouldn’t keep stopping her. But then I thought about the pastor saying that she was following another path, betraying the Lord, and it was God testing me, and I absolutely had to stand on His side. I didn’t dare give it more thought, afraid she’d convince me and I’d waver. I kept on standing in the way of her attending gatherings and urging her to confess and repent. But when I tried to stop her, for some odd reason I went weak and limp all over. I didn’t have a drop of strength and couldn’t even go to work. I just lay in bed like a corpse. I prayed to the Lord over and over, but didn’t get better. My wife told me to call on Almighty God, saying that only He could save me. At my wits’ end, I decided to try it. I silently called out from my heart: “Oh, Almighty God! Almighty God …” I was shocked when, as soon as I called out to Almighty God, I started slowly regaining my strength. This happened a few more times. The moment I stood in her way, I’d completely lose all my strength, and I couldn’t even work. But the second I prayed to Almighty God, my strength would slowly return. After that, I wasn’t so rigid anymore, and I started to give in. I wondered if Almighty God really could be the Lord Jesus returned? The next time my wife urged me to look into the true way, I agreed.

That same day I saw some people sharing Eastern Lightning’s gospel at my sister-in-law’s house. A sister talked about God’s work starting from the Age of Law all the way through the Age of Grace, about the Lord Jesus’ work of being crucified, redeeming mankind from our sins. Then she tied in the Lord Jesus’ words and also the prophecies in the Bible to fellowship on God returning in the last days, expressing the truth and doing the work of judgment, getting rid of man’s sinful nature, thoroughly cleansing and saving us, and taking us into His kingdom. She also talked about what the rapture is, the wise and foolish virgins, and more. Their fellowship was really clear and entirely in line with the Bible. It really filled my heart with light. I’d never heard anything like it in all my years as a Christian. I thought to myself that the sermons of Eastern Lightning obviously had the work of the Holy Spirit and it felt really nourishing for me. I wondered why the church clergy kept us away from it, and wanted to fellowship with them when I went to church so they could hear all about Eastern Lightning, too, and consider whether it’s the true way. Before I had a chance to go see them, they came to my house, insisting that my wife leave Eastern Lightning. She debated with them for two or three hours, and seeing she was determined to keep her faith in it, Pastor Wang yelled at her, “You refuse to listen, but insist on believing Eastern Lightning. This is apostasy and a betrayal of the Lord! You won’t be safe if you stray from the Lord, and if anything happens to you, the church won’t be there for you!” Another pastor scolded her loudly: “You’re turning your back on the Lord, and you need to confess and repent right away. Otherwise, you’ll be kicked out of the church!” They also wanted to force my wife to kneel down on the ground and confess to the Lord. I was really irritated by their aggressive approach and I thought, “Even if her faith isn’t correct, you can’t just arbitrarily judge and condemn it. You should be forgiving, loving, and helpful, and patiently fellowship with her. That’s what the Lord’s will is. How can you be so domineering?”

I was tossing and turning that night, unable to sleep. I just couldn’t make sense of why they, as pastors, would treat brothers and sisters that way. They didn’t have a bit of the love, compassion, and tolerance that the Lord taught us we should have. What kind of clergy were they? What really surprised me was that rumors about my wife got around the church really fast, with everyone saying that she believed in Eastern Lightning and had lost her mind. I was so mad. In a gathering, I asked Pastor Wang: “There’s clearly nothing wrong with my wife, so why are you calling her crazy? How can you just make up these rumors out of thin air?” I was shocked when he said indifferently, “We’re afraid other believers will also follow Eastern Lightning and betray the Lord, so this is just because we care about their lives …” I just couldn’t believe that that had come out of a pastor’s mouth. The Lord Jesus clearly said: “But let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no: for whatever is more than these comes of evil” (Matthew 5:37). He taught us to speak honestly, to call a spade a spade, that we can’t lie, cheat, or make things up. But the pastors were not just telling bald-faced lies, but they didn’t even feel bad about it. Pastor Wang just audaciously said it was out of thought for the congregation. They weren’t acting like believers at all. I couldn’t focus on a single word from that gathering and I took off really early. Lots of relatives and friends came by to ask about my wife because of the lies the pastors had spread and the whole neighborhood was whispering about it. It really put me and my wife in a difficult situation. I was hurt and disappointed by the pastors’ behavior and was constantly praying: “Oh Lord, the pastors are twisting the truth and spreading lies about my wife to keep believers from looking into Eastern Lightning. I do not approve of their actions one bit. Lord, I’ve heard what Eastern Lightning preaches and I feel it’s wonderful, and really practical, but I’m afraid of betraying You. I don’t know what to do. Please enlighten me and grant me discernment.”

I felt really lost for a while and kept thinking about the fellowship I’d had with the folks from Eastern Lightning. They were all so dignified and spoke really warmly. They seemed really pious, plus their fellowship on the Lord’s words was really enlightening. It wasn’t like listening to the pastors speak at all. But if it was the true way, why wouldn’t the pastors and elders accept it, or let believers look into it? Just as I was puzzling over this, going back and forth, I suddenly felt this voice full of majesty and authority say, “Do not doubt, but always have faith!” Hearing that voice felt like I was face to face with God, listening to Him. It totally stunned me. I just stayed there and felt kind of afraid. I thought of the prophecy in Revelation, “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7). I also thought about what my wife was always saying, that Almighty God had expressed many words. Could those words be what the Spirit says to the churches? Right then, I decided to investigate Eastern Lightning. My wife invited Brother Zhou from The Church of Almighty God to our home so he could share testimony on God’s work in the last days. I asked the brother, “Paul said in the Bible: ‘I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ to another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed’ (Galatians 1:6–8). The pastors and elders always say this means that if we stray from the Lord’s way and listen to another gospel, that is apostasy, and betraying the Lord. I am worried, won’t believing in Almighty God be betraying the Lord?” In response, he asked me, “The pastors and elders interpret this as meaning that believing in Almighty God is straying from the Lord’s way, accepting another gospel, and betraying Him. Is this a correct understanding of what Paul said? Do they dare guarantee that by ‘another gospel,’ Paul was referring to the kingdom gospel of God’s return in the last days? Is that what Paul said?” I was tongue-tied. I realized that Paul never said that. Then he went on and fellowshiped: “The context of Paul’s warning was that he said this soon after the Lord Jesus finished His work of redemption, when His gospel of the kingdom of heaven was being spread. A lot of Galatians had accepted the Lord Jesus, but some were misled and started believing in another gospel. This is what was behind Paul writing this letter, urging the Galatians, warning them that in the Age of Grace, there was just one gospel, which was the gospel of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption. If someone preached any other gospel that is different from the Lord Jesus’, that was ‘another gospel,’ and it was to lead people astray. God hadn’t done His work of the last days and no one was sharing the gospel of the last days when Paul said this. That’s why what Paul said wasn’t referring to the gospel of the Lord’s return in the last days. By arbitrarily using Paul’s words to the churches in the Age of Grace to condemn God’s appearance and work in the last days, they’re taking things out of context and misinterpreting the Scripture. Isn’t that just absurd?”

Brother Zhou’s fellowship gave me some insight into what the pastor had said, but I still had some misgivings. Believing in the Lord means being faithful to His name and to His way. If I accepted Eastern Lightning’s way, wouldn’t that be betraying the Lord? He said, “Think about it. When the Lord Jesus appeared and worked, a lot of people who believed in Jehovah God heard the Lord’s way and started following Him. So were they betraying Jehovah God? Was this apostasy? It clearly wasn’t. They were following the Lamb’s footsteps. They were devout followers of God. But those who stubbornly clung to the Old Testament law and rejected the Lord Jesus seemed to be devoted to Jehovah God, but in fact, they were the ones who rebelled against and resisted God most. They only upheld God’s past work, but they wouldn’t accept or submit to God’s current work and words. They even condemned it and fought against it. That’s why they were the ones who betrayed the Lord, and were then rejected and eliminated by Him.” Brother Zhou also said, “God’s work is always moving forward and He is always doing newer and higher work according to His management plan and the needs of mankind. In the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption was just to redeem us of our sin, so after we sin, we can be forgiven after praying to the Lord Jesus. But that didn’t get rid of the sinful nature we have within us. We’re still living in the bitter cycle of sinning and confessing, confessing and sinning, totally unable to escape the bonds of sin. And what kind of state are believers in the Lord all living in these days? They’re always lying and cheating for name and status, following worldly trends, greedy for money. There is jealousy and infighting, judgment, and no love between believers. Co-workers are engaged in intrigue and power grabs that tear churches apart. Pastors and elders refuse to even look into the work of the returned Lord, instead fabricating rumors, resisting and condemning it, and stopping others from seeking the true way. Some have even cooperated with the CCP, helping police arrest those sharing the gospel of the last days.” He said, “God is righteous and holy, and His kingdom is holy ground. How could God allow those who are always sinning and resisting Him to enter His kingdom? That’s why the Lord Jesus promised that He shall come again. Almighty God has come in the last days, expressing truths and doing the work of judgment on the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption. It’s to resolve our sinful nature so that we can completely cast off sin, be fully saved by God, and He can take us into His kingdom. This completely fulfills the Lord Jesus’ prophecy: ‘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). ‘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: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come’ (John 16:12–13).”

At that point in his fellowship, Brother Zhou read a couple passages of God’s words. Almighty God says, “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). “After the work of Jehovah, Jesus became flesh to do His work amongst man. His work was not carried out in isolation, but was built upon the work of Jehovah. It was work for a new age that God did after He had concluded the Age of Law. Similarly, after the work of Jesus ended, God went on with His work for the next age, because the entire management of God is always progressing forward. When the old age passes, it will be replaced by a new age, and once the old work has been completed, there will be new work to continue God’s management. 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” (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh). After reading this, he said, “Almighty God does the work of judgment, and though it’s different from the Lord Jesus’ redemption work and from Jehovah God’s work in the Age of Law, this work is built upon the foundation of those two stages of work. It’s the stage of work God does in the last days to fully cleanse and save mankind. Each stage of work becomes more elevated than the last, but they’re all done by the same God. Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned, and the only way for us to really be freed from sin and cleansed is to accept Almighty God’s work of judgment. Only then can we be worthy to enter God’s kingdom. Accepting Almighty God is being a wise virgin who hears the Lord’s voice and welcomes Him. It’s being lifted up before the throne and attending the Lord’s wedding feast! How could that be straying from the Lord’s way or betraying Him?” I was really excited to hear this. I realized that the Lord Jesus just did the work of redemption to pardon our sins, but He didn’t resolve our sinful nature. Almighty God has come in the last days for the work of judgment which is the only way to get rid of our sinful nature, cleanse and fully save us, and bring us salvation so we can enter the kingdom of heaven. I knew that listening to Eastern Lightning wasn’t betraying the Lord, but hearing His voice and welcoming Him. It was following the Lamb’s footsteps! That reminds me of this verse in Revelation: “These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Revelation 14:4). Now that the Lord has returned, not accepting the words and work of the returned Lord would be the only betrayal of Him! At the time, my feelings were all over the place. Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned I’d been waiting for for years! I could finally welcome the Lord! I could hear the Lord’s voice and welcome Him within my lifetime—what a great blessing! But I’d never imagined that I’d be welcoming the Lord that way. People had been sharing the gospel with me for years, but I’d been listening to the clergy’s lies, so I’d shut the door on God again and again and done everything I could to keep my wife from believing in Almighty God. And egged on by the clergy, I’d even destroyed my wife’s copies of God’s words. I really deserved damnation. I wasn’t worthy of coming before God!

Well, the pastors and elders all knew the Bible well and had served the Lord for many years. How could they pick and choose Scripture, and misinterpret it to mislead people, and even make up rumors to keep believers from looking into the true way? I was confused about this at the time, too. It made more sense to me after having some fellowship with brothers and sisters in gatherings. Think about when the Lord Jesus came to work. Why did the Pharisees make up lies to condemn and resist Him? In Chapter 11, verses 47 to 48 in the Gospel of John, it says, “Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? For this man does many miracles. If we let Him thus alone, all men will believe on Him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.” And there’s Matthew 23:13–14, where the Lord Jesus rebukes the Pharisees: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore you shall receive the greater damnation.” These Bible passages show us that the Pharisees went crazy with their lies, fighting and condemning the Lord Jesus, and misleading believers so they could hold on to their own status and their livings. They claimed that the Lord Jesus’ way violated the law, that it was heresy and led people astray. They slandered and blasphemed Him, saying He cast out demons through Beelzebub, the prince of demons. They even bribed soldiers to lie and cover up the fact of the Lord Jesus’ resurrection. As a result, most believers were misled and they rejected the Lord Jesus, losing His salvation. Almighty God has appeared and is working in the last days. Clergy in the religious world see how authoritative and powerful Almighty God’s words are, and that people can recognize the voice of God in them right away, and will follow Almighty God. So this is really threatening for pastors and elders. If everyone believed in Almighty God, who would listen to them anymore? Who would keep making offerings to them? That’s why they try to protect their own status and their income by madly slandering and condemning Almighty God, misleading people, and keeping them from hearing God’s voice and welcoming the Lord. How is them condemning and resisting Almighty God any different from what the Pharisees did to the Lord Jesus? Aren’t they antichrists who keep people from turning toward God? Let’s read another passage of Almighty God’s words. It will help us understand the pastors’ essence.

Almighty God says, “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?” (“All People Who Do Not Know God Are People Who Oppose God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Pastors claim they’re protecting their flocks, but in fact, they’re protecting their own status and income. I used to only see how devout the pastors appeared on the outside, but I couldn’t pick up on the motives behind their actions at all. That’s why they could fool me. If we think about it, we know welcoming the Lord is a big deal. As pastors and elders, when they hear someone testify that the Lord has come, they should seek and investigate it right away, and lead brothers and sisters to hear the Lord’s voice and welcome Him. But more concerned with their title and salary, they throw themselves into misinterpreting the Scripture, misleading people, and keeping them from investigating the true way. When someone does accept Almighty God, they twist the facts and sabotage them with slander so other believers condemn and reject them. The church clergy are so insidious, so evil! For their position and their living, they won’t hesitate to destroy brothers’ and sisters’ chances at getting into the kingdom. It’s disgusting! Those church clergy are anti-God antichrists. They are enemies of God. Now I wonder how I could have been so foolish and ignorant before. I believed in the Lord without listening to His words, instead listening to the pastors’ lies, I desperately clung to religious notions and shut God out again and again. I even tried to stop my wife from accepting Almighty God, fighting against God along with the clergy. They almost ruined me. What a scary thought! It was God’s appearance and work in the last days that revealed the church clergy’s true faces so that I could see that they were anti-God Pharisees and antichrists, and then be freed of their deception and control. God’s work is so real!

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