Meeting the Lord Again
I was born into a Catholic family, and from an early age my mother taught me to read. At the time, the Chinese Communist Party was re-building the nation after the civil war, and as the CCP was suppressing all religions, I was 20 years old before I finally got the chance to go to church and listen to sermons. The priest often said to us: “We Catholics must properly confess our sins and repent. We must do good, not evil, and always go to Mass. During , the Lord is going to come and judge everyone and send people to heaven or to hell according to how they have acted and behaved on earth. The biggest sinners will be punished in hell eternally, whereas those who commit minor sins can still go to heaven as long as they confess their sins to the Lord and repent. Anyone who doesn’t believe in the Lord will never get to heaven, no matter how good they are.” Whenever I heard this, I always congratulated myself for having the good fortune to be a member of the Catholic congregation from birth. I’d always tell myself to pursue hard, attend Mass more, and confess sins and repent to the Lord more, and that way I’d go to heaven and not suffer in hell. So that’s when I developed the determination to go to church and participate in Mass regularly. At that time, the priest also told us that in 2000 the Lord would return, and this news made us all very excited. So we all began to pursue earnestly, waiting for the Lord’s return. But the year 2000 came and went and we didn’t see any sign of the Lord’s return. Many in our congregation lost their faith, and fewer and fewer people attended church for Mass. I also felt a sense of loss, but I still felt that my faith in the Lord wouldn’t be shaken, no matter what others did. That was mainly because there had been many times when I’d been in danger and the Lord had protected me and made the danger disappear. Without the Lord’s protection I’d have died long ago, so I wasn’t going to be so ungrateful as to lose faith in the Lord.
In the following years I heard from people around me that the USA was “heaven on earth,” and so a strong desire to come here grew in me. In December 2014 my whole family and I immigrated to the U.S., but the reality of life here was nothing like the beautiful picture I’d painted in my mind. At first, everything in the U.S. seemed unfamiliar and we didn’t know anyone. The environment and climate were very different from what I was used to in China, and my body soon began to complain. I often felt weak and listless, but the doctors in the hospital couldn’t find anything wrong with me. I was at my wit’s end, so I started praying even more sincerely to the Lord, hoping that the Lord would protect me. I prayed more and began looking for a church where I could do Mass and eventually found a church for Chinese Christians. But after going toa few times I discovered that it wasn’t much different from what was going on in everyday society: Members of the congregation were superficially friendly but their interactions were governed by power and money. Faced with this kind of situation in the church, I became very disappointed. I thought to myself: “Oh Lord, when will You return? When You return, good people will be separated from wicked people and the world will be cleansed.” Although I still kept on going to Mass I was never able to feel God’s presence in the church, and this made me disappointed and depressed and affected my faith in the Lord. But then one day in July 2015, when I was working out of state, I got a phone call from my wife. She said to me excitedly: “The Lord has returned. He is expressing words and doing the work of of the last days! Hurry back so that we can accept God’s new work together.” On hearing this, I couldn’t help but be a bit suspicious: The Lord has returned? How is that possible? When the Lord returns to judge the world the good people will be separated from the bad people. But right now the good and the bad are still mixed together, so why is my wife saying that the Lord has returned? Has my wife joined another denomination? We’ve been Catholics for most of our lives, there’s no way we’re going to deviate now! So I hurriedly finished off the job I was doing and returned home.
When I got home I asked my wife: “How do you know that the Lord has returned? You haven’t deviated from our Catholic beliefs, have you? You’re saying that the Lord has returned to do the work of judgment, but right now the good people and the bad people are still mixed together so how can the Lord have already returned? We can look forward to the Lord’s return, but we can’t be disloyal to Him!” My wife listened to me and then patiently replied: “Don’t get so agitated. I only just found out myself about the Lord’s return. At present,is bearing witness to the Lord’s return and is expressing truths to do the work of judgment that has begun in God’s house. I’m not clear about the specifics of what’s happening, but I’ve been reading online a lot of the words that Almighty God has expressed and I’m sure that they are all the voice of God. The Lord once said: ‘My sheep hear my voice: and I know them, and they follow me’ (Jhn 10:27). We can find out whether Almighty God is the returned Lord by going to The Church of Almighty God to investigate, right?” What my wife said sounded reasonable, and the Lord’s return to do the work of judgment is something that is predicted in the Bible, so there was no harm in me going along with her to the church to take a look and then I could make up my mind.
To this end, my wife and I arranged to visit the home of one of the members of The Church of Almighty God, a man known as Brother Zhang. Brother Wang and Sister Li, and some other fellow Catholics also came. Seeing that I had plenty of company greatly put my mind at ease. After a little polite chit-chat we all sat down and I asked the brothers and sisters this: “Regarding the return of the Lord my understanding is this: When the Lord returns to do the work of judgment, the good people will be separated from the wicked people. Then the good people will be accepted into heaven by the Lord and will meet Him, while the wicked will be sent to hell and punished. You say that the Lord has returned and He is doing the work of judgment, so how come we haven’t seen any of these things happening?” Brother Wang replied: “Brother, my viewpoint used to be the same as yours in that I also believed the Lord’s return meant that good people would be separated from wicked people, that good people would live in heaven eternally and the wicked would be punished, and that if we didn’t see this happen then that proved that the Lord hadn’t returned. But after reading Almighty God’s words I realized that is only our notions and imaginings and isn’t the actual way that God works. How God undertakes the work of judgment in the last days is something that God alone plans and organizes. God’s wisdom is higher than the heavens, and in God’s eyes humans are as small as a speck of dust, so how can we fathom God’s work? In the Bible it says: ‘Who hath forwarded the spirit of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor, and hath taught him? With whom hath he consulted, and who hath instructed him, and taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and shewed him the way of understanding? Behold the Gentiles are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the smallest grain of a balance: behold the islands are as a little dust’ (Isa 40:13-15). Every one of us uses our brains to think, so we can speculate about God’s work as we like but God never does His work according to our imaginings. If we use our imaginings to set parameters for God’s work then aren’t we behaving extremely arrogantly? So, how does God do His work of judgment? How does He separate the good from the wicked? Let’s read several passages of Almighty God’s words to help us understand. Almighty God said: ‘The work of judgment is God’s own work, so it should naturally be done by God Himself; it cannot be done by man in His stead. Because judgment is the conquering of the human race through…. That is to say, in the last days, Christ shall use the truth to teach men around the earth and make all truths known to them. This is God’s work of judgment’ (‘Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh). ‘The last days have already arrived. All things in creation will be classed according to their kind, and divided into different categories based on their nature. This is the moment when God reveals humanity’s outcome and their destination. If people do not undergo chastisement and judgment, then there will be no way of exposing their disobedience and unrighteousness. Only through chastisement and judgment can the outcome of all creation be revealed. Man only shows his true colors when he is chastised and judged. Evil shall be put with evil, good with good, and all humanity shall be classified according to their kind. Through chastisement and judgment, the outcome of all creation will be revealed, so that the evil may be punished and the good rewarded, and all people become subject to the dominion of God. All this work must be achieved through righteous chastisement and judgment. Because man’s corruption has reached its peak and his disobedience become exceedingly severe, only God’s righteous disposition, one that is principally compounded of chastisement and judgment and is revealed during the last days, can fully transform and complete man. Only this disposition can expose evil and thus severely punish all the unrighteous’ (‘The Vision of God’s Work (3)’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh). ‘My purpose in doing the work of conquest is not solely to conquer for the sake of conquest, but to conquer so as to reveal righteousness and unrighteousness, to obtain proof for the punishment of man, to condemn the wicked, and even more, to conquer for the sake of perfecting those who willingly obey. In the end, all will be separated according to kind, and all the ones who are perfected have their thoughts and ideas filled with obedience. This is the work to be completed in the end. But those who are filled with rebellious ways will be punished, sent to burn in the fires and become the object of eternal curse’ (‘Those Who Obey God With a True Heart Shall Surely Be Gained by God’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh). We have the idea that God’s work of judgment is directly to separate the wheat from the tares, the goats from the sheep, the good servants from the wicked servants, in other words, separating the good people from the wicked and putting each with its own kind. But if we think about it, there are at present over 2 billion Christians around the world—and they all say they have true faith in God and love God—so how are we to distinguish good from bad, righteous from evil? If God determines that you are good and that I’m evil, I definitely won’t go along with it because I’ll feel that I’m also a good person. If God determines that I’m good and that someone else is evil, they definitely won’t go along with it. So how on earth are we supposed to know who is good and who is evil? We can’t, because we humans don’t have the principles or standards to gauge this. If God were to gauge us like this we certainly wouldn’t submit and would have notions about it, such as thinking that God was unfair and unjust. So how could the work of putting each with its own kind thus proceed? The Lord that returns during the last days is Christ of the last days—Almighty God—who uses truths to do the work of judgment. For all Christians, revealing who are the wheat, who are the tares, who are the goats, who are the sheep, who are the good servants, who are the wicked servants, who are the wise virgins, who are the foolish virgins, is all done by using truths. God’s words reveal everyone, and the wise virgins are those who truly and love the truth. When they hear that someone is testifying to God’s coming they go out to welcome it and actively investigate God’s words and God’s work. They recognize God’s voice and accept God’s work of the last days, and in the end they gain purification and salvation through God’s judgment. During great catastrophes they have God’s protection and are able to survive, and finally are taken into God’s kingdom. By contrast, because the foolish virgins do not love the truth, because they insist on holding onto their own notions and imaginings or believing in rumors, because they don’t seek or investigate God’s work of the last days—and some of them even follow religious leaders in resisting and condemning God and refusing God’s salvation of the last days—they will be revealed as evildoers by God’s work of the last days and will be eliminated. Their fate will be to suffer punishments during the great catastrophes. From this, we can see that God’s work of putting each with its own kind during the last days is not done according to our notions and imaginings. Instead, God uses the method of judgment to do the work of revealing people, and the final result is that everyone is thoroughly revealed and put with their own kind according to whether they accept the truth or resist the truth. Isn’t this exactly God’s wisdom, God’s fairness, God’s righteousness?”