I “Stole” a Priceless Treasure

October 17, 2022

By Zhizhong, China

One day in August 2012, after coming home from work and having dinner, I was resting against the headboard while my wife sat at the foot of the bed listening to music. I could hear some music with a catchy tune from her earphones. Curious, I asked her, “What are you listening to?” She said happily, “It’s a hymn from The Church of Almighty God.” I bolted upright immediately and scolded her, “How could you listen to their songs? You’re not a believer in Almighty God, are you? As Christians, we have to uphold the name of the Lord. Isn’t faith in Almighty God a betrayal of the Lord? Remember what the Bible says: ‘Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever’ (Hebrews 13:8). God’s name never changes.” My wife said patiently, “You say that God’s name never changes, so why is it that God’s name was Jehovah in the Age of Law, then Jesus in the Age of Grace? Wouldn’t you say that God’s name changed?” Startled, I thought, “She’s right! God’s name changed from Jehovah to Jesus—it’s not immutable.” Then she went on: “Do you remember what it says in Revelation 3:12? ‘Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, … and I will write on him My new name.’ And Revelation 1:8 says, ‘I am Alpha and Omega, … which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.’ These verses prophesy that the Lord will have a new name when He returns—the Almighty’—that is Almighty God. So my faith in Him isn’t betraying the Lord. It’s keeping up with the Lamb’s footsteps. just like it says in Revelation: ‘These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes’ (Revelation 14:4).” What she said was well-grounded, but I didn’t take any of it in at the time. I just cut her off angrily, “No matter what you say, the Lord has graced us so much and we have to uphold His name and His way at all times. We can’t be ungrateful or betray the Lord!” No sooner had the words left my mouth than my wife said sternly, “Don’t judge what you don’t understand! Think about it. When the Lord Jesus appeared and worked, lots of people left the temple to follow Him. Would you say they betrayed Jehovah God? Not only did they not betray Jehovah God, but they gained the Lord’s salvation. But on the contrary, the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees clung to the name of Jehovah, and just upheld the literal words and rules of the Scripture, opposing and condemning the Lord Jesus and ultimately having Him nailed to the cross. They thought they were devoted to Jehovah God, but ultimately they were cursed and punished by God. Don’t you know all that? You really should read Almighty God’s words and see if they’re the voice of God, if they’re the truth.” What she said sounded reasonable, but when I thought about all those things the pastors said condemning The Church of Almighty God I didn’t want to hear any more and I walked off in a huff.

Our daughter, hearing my and my wife’s argument, asked me what was wrong. I snapped, “Your mom doesn’t believe in the Lord anymore. She believes in Almighty God now. We have to stop her—we can’t let her betray the Lord! No one can serve two masters!” Our daughter took my side against my wife after I said that. One day, my wife went to a neighbor’s house for a gathering, but since our daughter followed to cause a scene, she ended up not attending and had no choice but to come back home with our daughter. That evening after I got home from work, our daughter told me what had happened and I praised her: “You did great. We must get your mom back into the fold. We absolutely can’t let her believe in Almighty God.” But just a couple days later she had to go back to school, and I was worried that my wife would start going out to gatherings again while I was at work during the day. I secretly told our 10-year-old son, “When you get back home from school, see what Mom is doing at home and then tell me when I get back from work. I’ll buy you your favorite snack. Don’t tell Mom!” He nodded in agreement. From then on, when I came home from work every day our son would report to me on my wife’s activities. I began to relax a little when I heard she’d just been going to work for the past few days. But there was one thing I found strange—why wasn’t she going out to play mahjong in the evenings anymore? She was notorious for being obsessed with mahjong, and neglected the household, and I could never persuade her to stop. and she herself had prayed and confessed to the Lord, but she never changed. Now, not only had she stopped playing mahjong, but she was keeping the house spic and span and even doing work in the fields. What was really going on here? Our neighbors on all sides were asking me, “Why isn’t your wife going out to play mahjong anymore? We call her when we’re short a player but she still won’t come. She wouldn’t give it up, would she? That would be unthinkable!” I was also really puzzled—how did she make that change? One night I woke up to see a tiny sliver of light shining on the curtain, and following that light, I saw it was coming from underneath my wife’s side of the blanket. I was puzzled. It was the middle of the night, so what was she doing? I very carefully crept out of bed and tiptoed over to her—she didn’t notice at all. I peeked under the blanket and saw that she was reading a book with a flashlight! I knew it had to be a book from The Church of Almighty God. Not wanting to frighten her, I slowly crept back into bed and lay down. I was thinking, “I thought she’d given up her faith in Almighty God. I had no idea she was still reading that book. What does it say that’s so enticing to her, that makes her want to hole up in the bedding reading it? And no matter how opposed I am, why is she determined to keep on believing? It’s unbelievable!” I also thought about some of the ways my wife had changed, and wondered: What if it was that book that changed her? I wanted to find a chance to read it in secret and find out what it really said.

One time when I had a day off, after my wife had breakfast and left for work, that book of hers suddenly sprang to mind. Today had to be my chance, right? Since she wasn’t at home, that was my opportunity to see what was written in that book, to see what was drawing her in so much. I turned the place upside-down looking for it, and finally found it slipped between some layers of clothing. I quickly grabbed it and saw The Word Appears in the Flesh printed on the cover. Dying to see what it was all about, I opened it up and was drawn in by the title of this chapter: “God Presides Over the Fate of All Mankind.” I read every line of it. The words in this book deeply shook me, particularly the following two passages. “We trust that no country or power can stand in the way of what God wishes to achieve. Those who obstruct God’s work, resist the word of God and disturb and impair the plan of God shall ultimately be punished by God. He who defies the work of God shall be sent to hell; any country that defies the work of God shall be destroyed; any nation that rises up to oppose the work of God shall be wiped from this earth and shall cease to exist. I urge the people of all nations, of all countries, and even of all industries to listen to the voice of God, to behold the work of God and to pay attention to the fate of mankind, in order to make God the most holy, the most honorable, the highest, and the only object of worship among mankind, and to allow the whole of mankind to live under the blessing of God, just as the descendants of Abraham lived under the promise of Jehovah, and just as Adam and Eve, whom God created first, lived in the Garden of Eden” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God). “The work of God surges onward like a mighty wave. No one can detain Him, and no one can halt His march. Only those who listen carefully to His words, and who seek and thirst for Him, can follow His footsteps and receive His promise. Those who do not shall be subjected to overwhelming disaster and well-deserved punishment” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God). This was so authoritative, so powerful—these words couldn’t have come from just anyone! They did seem like words from God. Could it be that Almighty God really is the Lord Jesus returned? But only the Lord Jesus is the true God—is it possible that Almighty God and the Lord Jesus are the same God? If so, then by standing in my wife’s way, wasn’t I working against God? Reading the words “sent to hell,” “overwhelming disaster,” and “well-deserved punishment” really left me trembling with fear, and I thought, “I can’t stand in the way of my wife’s faith anymore, and I can’t blindly judge and condemn Almighty God’s work. I can’t waste time, but I have to read this book and look into it, then see.”

From that day forward, whenever my wife wasn’t at home I would secretly read The Word Appears in the Flesh. Early one morning she mentioned she needed to work overtime that night, and I was thinking that I’d get to read more of the book. That day I wrapped up my work over two hours early, rushed back home on my bicycle, and grabbed the book as soon as I walked in the door. Almighty God says, “My entire management plan, the six-thousand-year management plan, consists of three stages, or three ages: the Age of Law of the beginning; the Age of Grace (which is also the Age of Redemption); and the Age of Kingdom of the last days” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The True Story Behind the Work of the Age of Redemption). “The work of today has pushed forward the work of the Age of Grace; that is, the work under the entire six-thousand-year management plan has moved forward. Though the Age of Grace has ended, there has been progress in God’s work. Why do I say time and again that this stage of work builds upon the Age of Grace and the Age of Law? Because the work of this day is a continuation of the work done in the Age of Grace, and an advance over that done in the Age of Law. The three stages are tightly interconnected, with each link in the chain closely tied to the next. Why do I also say that this stage of work builds on that done by Jesus? Supposing that this stage did not build on the work done by Jesus, another crucifixion would have to take place in this stage, and the redemptive work of the previous stage would have to be done all over again. This would be meaningless. And so it is not that the work is completely finished, but that the age has moved forward and the level of the work has been raised higher than before. It can be said that this stage of work is built on the foundation of the Age of Law and upon the rock of Jesus’ work. God’s work is built stage by stage, and this stage is not a new beginning. Only the combination of the three stages of work may be deemed the six-thousand-year management plan” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Two Incarnations Complete the Significance of the Incarnation). It turned out that God’s work isn’t eternally unchanging, but it’s always moving forward. The work that Almighty God does is built on the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption. It’s a development of the work of the Age of Grace, and an elevation of the work of the Age of Law. Could this really be the work of one God? I’d never heard any of these mysteries about the work of God. Aside from God Himself, who could so clearly, so unambiguously explain God’s management plan to save mankind as well as the steps of God’s work? I was both curious and admiring of this book, The Word Appears in the Flesh, and I read it in secret every chance I got.

One day, I read this passage in the book. “You only know that Jesus shall descend during the last days, but how exactly will He descend? A sinner such as you, who has just been redeemed, and has not been changed, or been perfected by God, can you be after God’s heart? For you, you who are still of your old self, it is true that you were saved by Jesus, and that you are not counted as a sinner because of the salvation of God, but this does not prove that you are not sinful, and are not impure. How can you be saintly if you have not been changed? Within, you are beset by impurity, selfish and mean, yet you still wish to descend with Jesus—you should be so lucky! You have missed a step in your belief in God: You have merely been redeemed, but you have not been changed. For you to be after God’s heart, God must personally do the work of changing and cleansing you; if you are only redeemed, you will be incapable of attaining sanctity. In this way you will be unqualified to share in the good blessings of God, for you have missed out a step in God’s work of managing man, which is the key step of changing and perfecting. You, a sinner who has just been redeemed, are therefore incapable of directly inheriting God’s inheritance” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Concerning Appellations and Identity). These words very penetratingly revealed my innermost thoughts. I’d been a believer all those years, and though I was always praying and confessing to the Lord, I still couldn’t help but lie and deceive, I was arrogant and I showed off, and I still hadn’t cast off the bonds of sin. Before, I thought that the Lord Jesus had redeemed us of our sins, so when He came we would be taken straight up into the kingdom of heaven. But it had never occurred to me that the Lord is holy, so could those of us who are living in sin enter God’s kingdom and enjoy all the blessings with God? At that point, I really wasn’t sure about my own prospects! I thought, “What if it’s really like it says here? What if I’m still missing a step in my faith, that just accepting the Lord Jesus’ redemption isn’t enough?” The more I read it, the more I felt this was no ordinary book, that Almighty God had opened up so many mysteries, so it very likely came from God, from the Holy Spirit. Could it be that these were the Holy Spirit’s words to the churches prophesied in the Book of Revelation? If that were true, this book was a priceless treasure!

My wife noticed that I wasn’t as opposed to her faith in Almighty God as I had been before, so she stopped going behind my back to read the book. Sometimes she’d even read out loud so that I could hear. One day when I got back from work she was in the middle of reading God’s words. Seeing me walking over, she said happily, “Come listen to Almighty God’s words! This book, The Word Appears in the Flesh, contains the words uttered by God in the last days. It unveils all the mysteries of the truth we’ve never understood in our faith before. How about I read a few passages of it for you?” I was thinking, “You have no idea. I started reading Almighty God’s words ages ago.” Seeing I didn’t turn her down, she picked up the book of God’s words and started reading. 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” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Preface). “Before man was redeemed, many of Satan’s poisons had already been planted within him and, after thousands of years of being corrupted by Satan, he has within him an established nature that resists God. Therefore, when man has been redeemed, it is nothing more than a case of redemption in which man is bought at a high price, but the poisonous nature within him has not been eliminated. Man that is so defiled must undergo a change before becoming worthy to serve God. By means of this work of judgment and chastisement, man will fully come to know the filthy and corrupt essence within his own self, and he will be able to change completely and become clean. Only in this way can man become worthy to return before the throne of God. All the work done this day is so that man can be made clean and be changed; through judgment and chastisement by the word, as well as through refinement, man can purge away his corruption and be made pure. Rather than deeming this stage of work to be that of salvation, it would be more apt to say it is the work of purification” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)). “From the work of Jehovah to that of Jesus, and from the work of Jesus to that of this current stage, these three stages cover in a continuous thread the entire gamut of God’s management, and they are all the work of one Spirit. Since the creation of the world, God has always been at work managing mankind. He is the Beginning and the End, He is the First and the Last, and He is the One who begins an age and the One who brings the age to an end. The three stages of work, in different ages and different locations, are unmistakably the work of one Spirit. All those who separate these three stages stand in opposition to God. Now, it behooves you to understand that all the work from the first stage until today is the work of one God, the work of one Spirit. Of this there can be no doubt” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Vision of God’s Work (3)). After my wife had finished reading, I asked her to explain it to me in detail. She found it a little surprising that I’d had such a big change in my attitude, and happily fellowshiped with me, “You’ve always said that my faith in Almighty God is a betrayal of the Lord Jesus, but in fact, Jehovah, the Lord Jesus, and Almighty God are all one God. God does different work in different ages, based on what humanity needs. In the Age of Law, Jehovah God issued the law and the commandments, leading early mankind in their lives on earth, allowing them to know what sin is and how to worship God. But late in the Age of Law, man’s corruption grew deeper and deeper—no one could follow the law, they were sinning more and more, and were faced with the danger of being executed under the law. To save mankind, God personally became flesh and was crucified as man’s sin offering, redeeming us from sin. That way, after sinning, people just need to pray, confess, and repent, and their sins are forgiven. This was the work of redemption carried out by the Lord Jesus in the Age of Grace. Although our sins are forgiven, and we can enjoy the peace, joy, and grace bestowed by the Lord, and we are able to perform a few good deeds, our sinful nature still hasn’t been resolved. We still can’t help but constantly lie, sin, be arrogant, and show off. Our faith in God is to obtain blessings or get into His kingdom, to strike deals with Him. We blame or even deny and betray God in the face of hardship, trials, or disasters. When God’s work doesn’t fit with our notions, we arbitrarily judge, condemn, and resist Him. God is righteous and holy, so how are we, who are always sinning and resisting God, worthy of entering His kingdom? That’s why the Lord Jesus promised He would return—to fully resolve man’s sinful nature and the root of our sin, and ultimately to bring us into God’s kingdom. Now Almighty God has come and expressed so many truths. He’s doing the work of judgment starting with the house of God to completely cleanse and save mankind. Almighty God has unveiled all the mysteries of God’s work, very clearly sharing truths with us such as how Satan corrupts people, how God saves people, what kinds of people God likes and blesses, what kinds of people God hates and damns, the difference between being saved and being fully saved, what kinds of people can enter the kingdom of heaven, and more. In particular, Almighty God’s words judging and exposing the truth of man’s corruption reveal humanity’s satanic dispositions such as arrogance, crookedness, deceit, sickness of the truth, as well as our various notions, imaginings, and absurd perspectives, and point out a path for us to change our life dispositions. This fulfills the Lord Jesus’ prophecy: ‘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). Some brothers and sisters in The Church of Almighty God have gained true understanding of and loathing for their corrupt dispositions and the truth of their corruption after experiencing God’s judgment, chastisement, trials, refinement, pruning, and dealing. They have also seen God’s righteous disposition that will tolerate no offense; they have developed a heart of reverence for God, and they are no longer willing to live by their corrupt disposition, or to offend or resist God, and they have genuinely repented and changed. And so, God’s work of judgment in the last days is His most crucial step to save mankind, and it is His very last step. Accepting the judgment of Almighty God’s words is the only path to entering God’s kingdom! Although God has done different work in different ages, and He has taken on different names, it is all the work of a single God. The work of these three steps—the Age of Law, the Age of Grace, and the Age of Kingdom—have all become progressively deeper and more elevated, and each step builds upon the work of the last one. Each tightly links with the next, and these three steps of work are the only thing that can fully save mankind from sin.” Then she added, “That is why I’m not betraying the Lord Jesus by accepting Almighty God’s work of the last days, but I am keeping pace with God’s work and welcoming the Lord.” Her fellowship was really enlightening for me. I saw that God performs His work of salvation in steps, that He has a plan, each step of work is extremely well-thought-out, and is done in accordance with mankind’s needs. I was thinking of God’s work too simply. It was so foolish and ignorant of me to think that sticking to the name of the Lord, to the way of the Lord and waiting for Him to come would get me into the kingdom of heaven!

After that, my wife read me another passage of Almighty God’s words. “I was once known as Jehovah. I was also called the Messiah, and people once called Me Jesus the Savior with love and esteem. Today, however, I am no longer the Jehovah or Jesus that people knew in times past; I am the God who has returned in the last days, the God who shall bring the age to an end. I am the God Himself that rises up from the end of the earth, replete with My entire disposition, and full of authority, honor, and glory. People have never engaged with Me, never known Me, and have always been ignorant of My disposition. From the creation of the world until today, not one person has seen Me. This is the God who appears to man in the last days but is hidden among man. He resides among man, true and real, like the burning sun and the blazing flame, filled with power and brimming with authority. There is not a single person or thing that shall not be judged by My words, and not a single person or thing that shall not be purified through the burning of fire. Eventually, all nations shall be blessed because of My words, and also smashed to pieces because of My words. In this way, all people during the last days shall see that I am the Savior returned, and that I am the Almighty God that conquers all of mankind. And all shall see that I was once the sin offering for man, but that in the last days I also become the flames of the sun that incinerate all things, as well as the Sun of righteousness that reveals all things. This is My work in the last days. I took this name and am possessed of this disposition so that all people may see that I am a righteous God, the burning sun, the blazing flame, and so that all may worship Me, the one true God, and so that they may see My true face: I am not only the God of the Israelites, and I am not just the Redeemer; I am the God of all creatures throughout the heavens and the earth and the seas” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Savior Has Already Returned Upon a “White Cloud”). Reading Almighty God’s words brought clarity to my heart. I became entirely certain that Jehovah, the Lord Jesus, and Almighty God are all the same God. My wife’s faith in Almighty God wasn’t a betrayal of the Lord Jesus, but she was keeping up with the Lamb’s footsteps! Before, not only had I tried to stand in her way, I’d also gotten our children to obstruct and monitor her. I truly regretted that—I was going against God, doing evil! But God still had mercy on me, enlightening and guiding me, allowing me to hear His voice and come before His throne. That really is God’s love! That same night, I knelt before God and prayed to Almighty God, thanking Him for choosing me and allowing me to follow His footsteps, to attend the Lamb’s wedding feast. I truly am so blessed! I give thanks for Almighty God’s salvation for me!

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