The Path to God’s Kingdom Isn’t Always Smooth (II)
By Senen, India
At the time, when the pastor said this, I felt a lot of pressure. If I was questioned by the Supreme Council of the church, and faced with a group of people attacking me, could I withstand it? If I insisted on believing in, would they expel me from school? Would they ask all the other believers to reject me? Thinking of this, I was very worried, so I silently prayed to God and asked God to lead me, and said I wished to stand firm in testimony.
After I prayed, I read two more passages of God’s word. “You must be awake and waiting at all times, and you must pray before Me more. You must recognize the various plots and cunning schemes of Satan, recognize the spirits, know people, and be able to discern all kinds of people, events, and things” (“Chapter 17” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in). “Satan is ever present devouring the knowledge of Me in people’s hearts, gnashing its teeth and flexing its claws in its final death throes. Do you wish to fall prey to its cunning schemes at this time? Do you wish to ruin your life at the time when My work is finally completed?” (“Chapter 6” of to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I understood from God’s word that these things happening to me were Satan’s tricks. Satan wanted to disturb and hinder me from following God. Although my stature was small and I knew little truth, I was willing to rely on God to stand firm and humiliate Satan. So, I told them, “I will not stop attending meetings. I will continue to follow Almighty God.” My parents were very angry when I didn’t listen to the pastor. My dad glared at me and shouted, “How dare you say no? Before the pastor leaves, you need to swear you’ll stop believing in Almighty God!” The pastor threatened me again, saying if I didn’t stop attending meetings within a week, he would take me to the Supreme Council for questioning. However, I felt no regret, because I knew very well that my choice was right. Before I accepted the work of Almighty God in the last days, I believed in God, but I didn’t understand the requirements to enter the kingdom of heaven. Sometimes, my mind was full of fantasies, and sometimes, because I often sinned and didn’t know if I could enter the kingdom, I was very confused. Now, I finally understood. Only Almighty God’s work of judgment could resolve our sinful nature, and only then could we be saved from sin, gain salvation, and enter God’s kingdom. Only the words of Almighty God allowed me to see this evil world clearly, and to understand how Satan uses worldly philosophies to corrupt mankind. If I hadn’t read the words of Almighty God, I would have followed satanic worldly philosophies all my life. I wouldn’t have known at all how to escape from Satan’s corruption. So, no matter how they hindered me, I would never give up following Almighty God. Later, the pastor saw that I had no intention of giving up, so he left angrily. My parents were also very angry that I rejected the pastor, and they told me furiously, “You dared to deny the pastor and do something forbidden by the church. By custom, you must be expelled from the village. If the villagers reject you, when you need a certificate issued in the future, the village head will not sign it for you. You won’t be able to find a job either. Have you thought about these consequences? Where will you go then? You are just a student. You have no place to stay, and you won’t be able to work. How will you survive?” My father also said he felt ashamed to have a son like me. He said I brought them great shame, and that I wouldn’t be his son in the future. In all my life, it was the first time I heard my father scold me like this. He even said I was no longer his son. I couldn’t believe my parents would say such things. I was so sad that I didn’t say anything. My father went on to say, “I’ll tell you again, if you continue to believe in Almighty God, you’d better pay me back all the money I spent on raising you.” At that time, I was very humiliated and very sad. My parents had treated me well in the past. Among their ten children, my parents liked me best and had the highest expectations of me. They had never said something so ruthless, but now their attitude had completely changed. I missed my parents’ kindness to me, and I didn’t want to be in trouble with them. I felt very weak, and I didn’t know what to do, so I prayed to God, asking Him to lead me in facing this environment. Later, I thought of 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. If you lead such a vulgar life, and do not pursue any objectives, do you not waste your life? What can you gain from such a life? You should forsake all enjoyments of the flesh for the sake of one truth, and should not throw away all truths for the sake of a little enjoyment. People like this have no integrity or dignity; there is no meaning to their existence!” (“The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s word inspired me. I understood that I should suffer for the truth. Although my family opposed me, the pastor hindered me, and the villagers judged me, and I felt tormented and a little weak, no matter what they said, I couldn’t give up following Almighty God. By reading God’s words and attending meetings, I understood many truths, and had already determined in my heart that Almighty God is the who has returned, Christ of the last days, so I couldn’t stop going to meetings. I knew that if I stopped attending meetings, things would calm down. My family would no longer oppose me and would treat me as well as they did before, and no one would laugh at me anymore, but I would lose the chance to gain the truth and be saved by God. I told myself I couldn’t give up the truth, and I couldn’t betray God because of my family’s disapproval. Almighty God’s word is the truth. Only Almighty God can tell us how Satan corrupts humankind, and only He has pointed out the way for us to escape from sin and be saved by God. That I was able to suffer today for the truth was worth it. So, I resolved to no longer suffer the constraints of my family. Even if they no longer paid my tuition, even if I was kicked out of the village and life became difficult, I wouldn’t give up believing in God and pursuing the truth.
However, for the next week, the pastor arranged for two co-workers to come to our house every night. They repeated the same words every day to make me stop attending meetings. Still, despite what they said, I continued going to meetings. In those days, I often prayed to God, asking Him to quiet my heart and keep me from these disturbances. Later, my uncle was afraid my family would be ridiculed if the matter became too widely known, so he went to the pastor to discuss a new strategy. They took me to a theologian who was a doctor of theology and was familiar with the Bible. After we met, the theologian questioned me. He said, “Why do you believe in Almighty God? Do you realize that Almighty God is just an ordinary person? Why should you believe in a person?” I told him, “Almighty God is God incarnate. He appears to be an ordinary person, but He has God’s Spirit within Him, and He is the incarnation of God’s Spirit, He not only has normal humanity, but also complete divinity. Just like the Lord Jesus; in appearance He was an ordinary man, but He was actually the incarnate Son of man, God Himself. He could express the truth and do the work of redeeming and saving mankind. Almighty God has come in the last days and has expressed many truths, such as God’s six-thousand-year management plan, the mystery of the incarnation and how God does the work of judgment in the last days to purify and save people. He has revealed various mysteries of truth and He has also revealed the root cause of why people sin. Do you think an ordinary person can express so much truth? No famous person or great man in the world can express these truths. Only God Himself can express these truths. No one but God can do it. All the truths expressed by Almighty God are enough to prove that He is God incarnate, God Himself.” After I said these things, the doctor of theology interrupted me and said, “You are wrong to say that. All of God’s words are in the Bible, and there can be no new words outside the Bible. These words of Almighty God simply can’t be the new words of God.” I refuted him by saying, “Do you have any biblical basis for this? Is there proof in the Lord Jesus’ word? The Lord Jesus said, ‘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). The Bible prophesies that the Lamb of the last days will open the scroll. These all show that God will speak when He returns in the last days. If, as you say, God speaks no new words outside the Bible, isn’t that denying all the words and work of the Lord’s return?” At that time, he didn’t listen at all. He said some things to condemn Almighty God and repeatedly asked me to stop listening to. Then he started showing off how lofty his theology degree was, how much he suffered to preach for the Lord, and so on. He also said that I was too young to understand the Bible and should listen to him, and he told me to stop meeting with people from . My uncle joined in and said: “We shouldn’t believe in what the religious circles condemn. This theologian is well known for his biblical knowledge, and you are lucky to have the chance to speak to him. I hope you will listen to him and stop going to meetings.” I told them, “I used to be confused about living in sin. I couldn’t find the reason why people can’t get rid of sin. I didn’t understand until I read the words of Almighty God that it’s all because of the sinful nature within us. If our sinful nature is not eliminated, we will never be free from the bondage of sin.” I also testified to them about the truth of the incarnation. After I said that, the theologian said he was inspired by what I shared. He said it was very good, and he hoped to have the chance to discuss it with me in the future, but he insisted that I shouldn’t accept Almighty God. I saw that although this theologian was familiar with the Bible, had a lot of theological knowledge, and had a good reputation, in reality he was spiritually poor and didn’t understand any truth. He was also very arrogant, didn’t accept the truth, and had no interest in investigating God’s work in the last days. Just like the Pharisees who resisted the Lord Jesus, he kept condemning the work of Almighty God in the last days. That conversation did not change my determination to follow Almighty God. On the contrary, it gave me discernment of these pastors and theologians in the religious world. I stopped looking up to and admiring them. And through attending meetings and reading God’s word during this period, I also gained some discernment of these fallacies in the religious world. This made me even more certain that Almighty God’s word is the truth and that Almighty God is the manifestation of the one true God. Later, at a meeting, I talked with the brothers and sisters about my recent circumstances, and they shared some of God’s words with me that gave me some discernment of false shepherds and antichrists in this spiritual battle. The Lord Jesus said, “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” (Matthew 23:13). “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Matthew 23:15). After reading God’s words and hearing their fellowship, my heart felt much brighter. I saw that these pastors and leaders in the religious world are just like the Pharisees condemned by the Lord Jesus. They resist and condemn Almighty God’s work of the last days and do everything to prevent people from hearing God’s voice and welcoming the Lord. They are stumbling blocks for people to enter God’s kingdom. They are so vicious that beyond not entering themselves, they also stop others from doing so. 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). “Look at the leaders of each denomination—they are all arrogant and self-righteous, and their interpretations of the Bible lack context and are guided by their own imaginings. They all rely on gifts and erudition to do their work. If they could not preach at all, would people follow them? They do, after all, possess some knowledge and can preach on some doctrine, or they know how to win others over and make use of some artifice. They use these to bring people before themselves and deceive them. Nominally, those people believe in God, but in reality, they follow their leaders. When they encounter someone preaching the true way, some of them say, ‘We have to consult our leader about our faith.’ A human is the medium of their faith in God; is that not a problem? What have those leaders become, then? Have they not become Pharisees, false shepherds, antichrists, and stumbling blocks to people’s acceptance of the true way? Such people are of the same ilk as Paul” (“Only to Pursue the Truth Is Truly to Believe in God” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God clearly reveals religious leaders’ essence of hating the truth and resisting God! Almighty God has appeared and expressed so much truth, but they don’t seek at all. Instead of listening to God’s voice, they listen to the words of the atheist party, the CCP, condemn the work of Almighty God, and spread falsities to deceive believers and stop us from hearing God’s voice and welcoming Him. It’s ruining our chance to be saved and enter the kingdom of heaven. Although these pastors and leaders often explain the Bible to people in the church, they don’t have the slightest knowledge of God and His work. They also have no fear of God. Their essence is the same as that of the Pharisees. They are all antichrists who hate the truth and resist God. Then I remembered how the believers in Judaism blindly worshiped religious leaders, and as a result, they followed the Pharisees in resisting the Lord Jesus and lost God’s salvation. My parents also worshiped the pastors and elders. Although they believed in the Lord for many years, they had no place for God in their hearts. They didn’t understand the truth and lacked discernment. They thought those who obeyed pastors and elders were obeying and following the Lord. No matter what the pastors and elders said, my parents listened. In a matter as important as welcoming the Lord, they lacked all discernment and blindly listened to the pastor, yet when I testified to them about Almighty God’s words, they didn’t listen at all, and repeated the words of the pastor and the theologian to condemn Almighty God. They even said, “Even if this is the true way, we won’t accept it unless the pastor does.” I saw my parents were very pitiable. How were they believing in the Lord? Weren’t they just believing in the pastors and elders? I told my parents, “If you were born in the Age of Grace, when the Lord Jesus appeared to work, you would be the same as those believers in Judaism in the past and follow the Pharisees in resisting and condemning the Lord Jesus, because you only listen to the pastor, If the pastors and elders condemn something as false, you say the same, but you yourselves don’t investigate the true way at all, nor do you seek to hear God’s voice. Isn’t this the same as those who followed the Pharisees and resisted the Lord Jesus? Can you get good results like this?” I had a little discernment of my parents, and I was no longer constrained by my emotions, so I had the determination to stand witness for God.
During that time, no matter what I did, my parents watched me. I couldn’t attend meetings at home in peace. At the time, I had to sneak into a small patch of forest near the edge of our village at night for meetings. There were a lot of mosquitoes and insects. I was badly bitten by mosquitoes, and couldn’t find a comfortable place to sit. Sometimes I was still in the woods late at night. To prevent my parents from finding out I was out at meetings, I had to sneak back into the house to sleep, and I had to wake up in the morning earlier than them to make them think I had slept well at night. During the day, I usually had to go to the fields to help my parents. After a while, I would get tired and sleepy. It was utterly exhausting. I began to feel a little weak, and I didn’t know when these days would end. Sometimes I even thought that if I listened to my parents and stopped going to meetings, I wouldn’t suffer so much, my neighbors wouldn’t laugh at me, and it wouldn’t impact my search for a job. Thinking of these things, I was a little shaken. But then I thought that at every meeting, I could understand some truths, and these were truths I had never heard before. I was reluctant to give that up. During that time, there was aof God’s word that gave me great encouragement, I listened to it many times. “The utmost faith and love are required from us in the work of the last days. We may stumble from the slightest carelessness, for this stage of work is different from all the previous ones: What God is perfecting is mankind’s faith, which is both invisible and intangible. What God does is convert words to faith, to love, and to life. People must reach a point where they have endured hundreds of refinements and possess faith greater than Job’s. They must endure incredible suffering and all manner of torture without ever leaving God. When they are obedient unto death, and have great faith in God, then this stage of God’s work is complete” (“What God Makes Perfect Is Faith” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). I understood from this song that my flesh can become weak and miserable in times of trouble, but at these times, I should learn to forsake the flesh. If I followed my own flesh, I couldn’t satisfy God, and I would also lose faith in God. I knew very well that every meeting was beneficial for my life and the truth I gained was a priceless treasure. Although every meeting late at night in the woods was physically tiring and difficult, this was also a test for me, to see if I could suffer for the truth and had true faith. My parents wanted me to pursue fame and fortune in the world and find a good job, to give my family a good life and make them proud. This was what they wanted and what they expected. But if I listened to my parents and stopped going to meetings, although I didn’t have to suffer these things, I wouldn’t gain the truth. I would be the same as I was, only concerned with entertaining myself and pursuits of the flesh, which are meaningless. That I could accept God’s work of the last days and enjoy the supply of so much truth was the greatest blessing for me. The little suffering I endured was nothing next to understanding the truth, and all of it was meaningful. Thinking of this, I was willing to let go of fleshly pleasures and didn’t care what my family said about me. I only hoped that I could rely on God to overcome these difficulties.
Later, by reading Almighty God’s words, my state gradually improved. Slowly, I also understood that only in such a difficult environment could I seek more of God’s will and have true faith in God, and for this, I was very grateful to God! After that, I continued going to meetings in the woods. But once, while I was at a meeting, someone, I don’t know who, found out and told my parents. At breakfast the next day, my mother said to me, “I thought you stopped attending meetings after you met the theologian. I didn’t know you were going to meetings in the woods at night. Aren’t you afraid?” As she spoke, she started to cry. That was the first time I saw my mother cry in front of me. I didn’t know what to say. Tears were welling up in my eyes. I knew I couldn’t give up following Almighty God, but I didn’t want to hurt my parents. This felt like a special battle. Later, I thought of a passage of Almighty God’s words. “God does His work, God cares for a person, looks upon this person, and all the while Satan dogs His every step. Whomever God favors, Satan also watches, trailing along behind. If God wants this person, Satan would do everything in its power to obstruct God, using various evil ploys to tempt, disrupt and wreck the work God does, all in order to achieve its hidden objective. What is this objective? It does not want God to gain anyone; all those that God wants it wants for itself, it wants to occupy them, control them, to take charge of them so they worship it, so they join it in committing evil acts. Is this not Satan’s sinister motive? … In warring with God, and trailing along behind Him, Satan’s objective is to demolish all the work God wants to do, to occupy and control those whom God wants to gain, to completely extinguish those whom God wants to gain. If they are not extinguished, then they come to Satan’s possession, to be used by it—this is its objective” (“God Himself, the Unique IV” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After contemplating God’s words, I understood. God works to save people, while Satan tries its best to hinder God and stop people from following God and accepting God’s salvation. I recalled how Job’s wife tempted Job to forsake God. This was Satan’s trick. During this time, my friends disturbed me, my pastor and family also hindered and threatened me to make me stop believing in God. These were all Satan’s temptations. My family said they feared I would be driven out of the village and would have nowhere to go. My mother also said she was worried about me. These words sounded like she was concerned, but it was actually Satan using my family to prevent me from following God. Satan wanted to force me to give up, continue following the pastor, stay in religion, and lose God’s salvation. I couldn’t fall for Satan’s tricks. After that, I continued attending meetings and reading Almighty God’s word. I know that in the days to come, I may still face many temptations by Satan, and I may experience many setbacks, but I know in my heart that Almighty God’s word is the truth. That I can read Almighty God’s word, experience God’s work, and gain the truth is deeply meaningful for me. No matter how much I suffer, it is worth it!