Truth Can’t Be Gained in Religion
By Meixiang, Taiwan
I followed my parents in believing in the Lord as a child, and I zealously pursued my belief. I actively took part in all church activities, no matter what they were. I gave a tenth of my income as a tithe, and I always joined in church ministry. Because of my zealous pursuit, I became a church deacon, and at 30, I became a church elder. But even after many years of belief, there was something that always bothered me. I saw the words of the, “Not every one that said to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and in Your name have cast out devils, and in Your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you that work iniquity” (Mat 7:21–23). This confused me. Weren’t we the people who preached and worked in the name of the Lord, and who called out “Lord, Lord”? Why did the Lord say He does not know such people, and say that such people are evildoers? Was it not His will for us to labor for Him in this way? Then what was the Lord’s will? I was never able to find an answer.
In March of 2020, one day, a sister invited me to listen to a sermon online. I thought, “During the pandemic, we can’t go to church, so this is a good thing.” I happily agreed to do it. In that online gathering, Sister Weiwei fellowshiped about the meaning of wise and foolish virgins, what Christ is, whether the kingdom of heaven is in heaven or on earth, and so on. I thought she spoke about these things very well. These were all issues I couldn’t fellowship clearly in my sermons, so her fellowship was very appealing to me. She also said, “We believers in the Lord all hope to enter the kingdom of heaven, but what kind of people can enter the kingdom of heaven?” Then she read these Bible verses, “Not every one that said to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and in Your name have cast out devils, and in Your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you that work iniquity” (Mat 7:21–23). She said, “The Lord says not all believers can enter the kingdom of heaven. Only those who do God’s will can enter. So what does it mean to do God’s will? Many people think that as long as they do more ministry, read the Bible, pray, and do many good deeds, they are doing God’s will, and when the Lord returns, they will enter the kingdom. Is this view correct? Is it in line with God’s will? The Pharisees of Judaism had many good behaviors, but when the Lord Jesus came and expressed so much truth, they didn’t recognize the Lord, they frantically resisted and condemned Him, they even nailed the Lord Jesus to the cross, and finally became evildoers. From this, we can see that doing the Father’s will is not merely, as we imagine, preaching the gospel, reading the Bible, praying, and doing good deeds. This is just one aspect of what a Christian should do. So what exactly does it mean to do the Father’s will? The Bible says, ‘You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy’ (Lev 11:45). ‘Without holiness no man shall see the Lord’ (Heb 12:14). From this, we can see that God’s requirement for people is to achieve holiness and be free from sin, which means to be able to obey God, listen to His words, no longer sin and resist God, no longer betray God, and even when God’s work is inconsistent with human notions, to be able to obey and accept it. Only this is someone who does God’s will, and someone who will remain in God’s kingdom. Although we believe in the Lord, and we forsake and expend for the Lord, we often lie and sin, there is often jealousy and strife among co-workers, and when we face disasters and illnesses, we can still complain against, judge, and even betray God. Is this really doing God’s will?” After she fellowshiped, I had a sudden awakening: Doing God’s will does not depend on how outwardly busy we are, it depends on whether we listen to, obey God, and stop sinning and resisting God. But we still often sin, we live in a state of sinning by day and confessing at night, we have not escaped from sin, we can’t practice God’s word, and when something unsatisfactory happens, we resent and complain about the Lord. How can we say we do God’s will?
Later, at every gathering, Sister Weiwei shared some words with me. I thought these words were good, fresh, and very bright. Gradually, I began to love gatherings like this, and I always looked forward to the next one. This was the moment I discovered that the sermons I once preached, as well as many pastors’ sermons, were simply words of doctrine that we used to encourage people. Honestly, we had no understanding of God and the truth at all. But when I met with brothers and sisters online and listened to their fellowship, I felt very deeply that I was being supplied, and I felt freedom and release. I could ask questions if I didn’t understand Scripture or if I didn’t know things, and I always found answers there. I had never gained so much at my church gatherings.
During one gathering, Sister Weiwei sent a passage for me to read. “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 thethat 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 Savior Has Already Returned Upon a ‘White Cloud’” in ). After I read this passage, Sister Weiwei asked me, “Who do you think said this?” I quickly read it again to myself. I felt these words had authority and power, and from the words “I am the Almighty God that conquers all of mankind,” I sensed the majesty of God. I was certain God had spoken these words, because no human could say such things. No famous person, great man, or religious leader could say such words. I said to Sister Weiwei, “Clearly, God said this, because only God Himself knows what God is going to do, and no person would dare say, ‘I was once known as Jehovah. I was also called the Messiah, and people once called Me Jesus the Savior with love and esteem.’” After she heard my answer, she said excitedly, “Amen! This is the voice of God! Those who can recognize God’s words are blessed by God.” I had never read these words in the Bible, so I was curious where these words had come from. This was when she told me that the Lord Jesus had returned as Almighty God, the Savior. Almighty God had already opened the scroll and broken the seven seals, these words were from the scroll, and they are the truth expressed by God in the last days. I was very excited when I heard this, and thought, “The scroll has been opened? Then I need to hurry up and read God’s word!” Then, she continued her fellowship, “The Lord Jesus returns in the last days. He appears and works under the name ‘Almighty God.’ He has expressed many truths, and does the work of judgment beginning with the house of God, which is the work of thoroughly cleansing and saving people. Only if we accept the judgment in God’s word can we cast off sin and corruption and be purified, be saved, and enter the kingdom of heaven. God’s new name in the last days, Almighty God, fulfills the prophecy in Revelation, ‘I am Alpha and Omega, … which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty’ (Rev 1:8). ‘Alleluia: for the Lord God Almighty reigns’ (Rev 19:6). Jehovah, Jesus, and Almighty God are the names of God. Although God has different names in each age, He is one God and one Spirit.” Only after hearing her fellowship did I realize that God’s new name in the last days was prophesied long ago in Revelation, but I hadn’t noticed. I only knew that God was innately almighty. It never occurred to me that “Almighty God” is the name God uses when He returns in the last days. I was very happy and excited. It turned out that God has returned, and He is Almighty God! She also told me, “Almighty God appeared and started to work in 1991, thirty years ago. Almighty God expressed much truth and millions of words, all publicly posted on the internet. Now His words have spread from East to West, to many countries in the world. More and more people hear God’s voice and accept Almighty God’s work in the last days. This completely fulfills the prophecy of the Lord Jesus, ‘For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even to the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be’ (Mat 24:27).” When I heard this, I was very surprised. It turned out that was the appearance and work of God. A few years ago, I read in the newspaper that Eastern Lightning testified the Lord’s return. But at that time, I saw that most pastors and elders condemned it, and didn’t let the believers listen to their preaching, so I thought this wasn’t the true way, I didn’t seek and investigate, and I certainly didn’t read Almighty God’s word. I never imagined that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus, and has appeared and worked for thirty years. I was a little nervous, and felt I was too far behind, so I wanted to read more of God’s word. After a period of time, through gatherings and fellowship on God’s word with my sister, I came to understand more about why God has to come incarnate to work in the last days, how God uses His words to do the work of judgment, how we must experience judgment to be cleansed and enter the kingdom of heaven, and more. Almighty God has revealed all these mysteries, and expressed so much truth, which fulfills the prophecy of the Lord Jesus, “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth” (Jhn 16:13). I felt ever more certain that Almighty God is the second coming of the Lord Jesus. After that, she sent me a book of God’s words. I read God’s word every day, and I found spiritual provision.
Later, I went to nearly every gathering I could. But because I still attended services in my church, gathering times often conflicted. I thought, “Should I leave my church?” But I had been an elder for eighteen years. Each term was four years, and the end of my current term was still over a year away. What would my brothers and sisters think of me if I left the church in the middle of my term? Would they think I left so casually and had no loyalty to the Lord? But then I thought, the Lord had returned, so should I remain in religion? I knew very well that what the pastors said at the pulpit could no longer supply the believers. They talked about the Lord Jesus’ signs and wonders over and over again, and they often discussed imitating the Lord, loving your neighbor as yourself, being patient, and so on. For decades, the pastors had been preaching these old, worn-out words of doctrine. They were stale and dry, and I couldn’t supply my brothers and sisters either. I knew very well that the religious world was already desolate. At the time, I was very conflicted, so I prayed to God, “God, I want to leave the church, but I still have concerns, and I worry my brothers and sisters will gossip about me. God, what should I do? Please guide me.” As I prayed, I thought of what the Bible says, “Behold, the days come, … I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Jehovah” (Amo 8:11). “And also I have withheld the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain on one city, and caused it not to rain on another city: one piece was rained on, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered” (Amo 4:7). I thought of Israel’s seven years of famine, when there was no food, and Joseph’s brothers all went to Egypt to ask him for food. Now the entire religious world was suffering from famine, and lacked the work of the Holy Spirit, but what I ate and drank inwere God’s current words, what I gained was real light, and I obviously had the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If I couldn’t keep up, I would be cast out by the work of the Holy Spirit. Now, I had found the church with the work of the Holy Spirit, I had heard God’s voice, and I had welcomed the Lord, so I shouldn’t continue to remain in the desolation of religion. After that, as long as the church didn’t arrange for me to work, I didn’t go there, but because I was an elder, I occasionally went to worship.
One day, half a year later, I watched a stage play on the internet, A Wise Choice. The story deeply moved me. The protagonist, Li Mingzhi, was a town government cadre. After accepting the work of Almighty God in the last days, he understood some truth. He reflected on his years of service to the CCP and how he followed it in doing evil. He realized he was walking the road to ruin and saw clearly that only by following Christ and expending for God could he gain the truth and life. He prayed to God, saying he was determined to quit his job and devote himself to God. After the wife found out, she strongly opposed it, and then his family tried to force him to stop believing in God. Besieged by his whole family, he didn’t compromise, he debated with his family, and in the end, he resolutely quit his job and chose to follow God. Then I thought of myself. If I stayed in religion and didn’t follow God wholeheartedly, I would never gain the truth, and I would be cast out by God. Also, through fellowship on the truth, I saw more and more clearly the true fact of the religious world’s resistance to God. I felt like God was guiding me and it was time for me to leave religion.
After I accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days, I recalled, a few years ago, God’s work of the last days spread to Taiwan. At the time, Almighty God’s words were published in the newspapers, but Taiwan’s religious circles jointly declared their boycott of Eastern Lightning, a statement many pastors co-signed. These pastors knew long ago that the Lord returned, but they didn’t seek or investigate, nor did they tell their believers the news of the Lord’s return. They also united to resist God and prevent the spread of God’s kingdom gospel in Taiwan. This reminded me of the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees two thousand years ago. They clearly saw that the words and work of the Lord Jesus had authority and power, but they didn’t admit that the Lord Jesus is the Messiah because they worried that all the believers would follow the Lord Jesus, and they would lose their status and income. Therefore, they made up false judgments and condemned the Lord Jesus. The same is true in today’s religious world. The pastors fear that if people all believe in Almighty God and don’t go to church, no one will give offerings, and they won’t get a salary, so to keep their status and income, they jointly condemned and resisted the work of Almighty God in the last days. This reminded me of what the Lord Jesus said when he cursed the Pharisees, “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 compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Mat 23:13–15). These pastors in religion know clearly that the Lord has returned and expressed much truth, but they don’t investigate, and they deceive and restrict others from investigating God’s new work, and prevent believers from welcoming the Lord. These religious leaders are so hateful! They are not people who genuinely follow the Lord, they are modern-day Pharisees.
During a gathering, I read these words of Almighty God, “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). As I pondered God’s word, I realized that pastors in the religious world are paid from the offerings of the brothers and sisters to God, yet they stop people from turning to God, and thereby ruin people’s chance to welcome the Lord and enter the kingdom of heaven. Aren’t they just devils that devour people’s souls? I also thought that due to the pandemic, churches suspended all services. During a gathering, the pastors discussed putting the brothers’ and sisters’ agricultural products outside our committee office to sell as a way to increase the income of the believers. That way, the brothers and sisters could continue their tithes. I was very angry when I heard this, and I strongly objected. I said, “As pastors, you should care about people’s lives. How can you only be concerned about money?” The general secretary said to me, “When the church suspends gatherings, the offerings from the brothers and sisters decrease, which significantly reduces church income.” I saw that the pastors cared only about their salary and income, and not watering the brothers and sisters and strengthening their faith. They were the hypocritical Pharisees the Lord Jesus spoke about. They coveted the sacrifices offered by brothers and sisters to God. They didn’t care about the lives of their believers, they hindered people from welcoming the Lord, and they tried to keep a firm grip on their believers. I saw the true face of the pastors more clearly. These religious pastors were nothing but antichrists who deny and resist God. After many years of belief in the Lord, I finally discerned them. I finally woke up. I thanked God for His mercy, and for giving me the chance to hear His voice and accept His work in the last days. Otherwise, I would follow the pastors in doing evil and resisting God, and I would lose my chance at salvation.
Later, I saw a video reading of Almighty God’s word. “Right now, do you truly understand what faith in religion and faith in God are? Is there a difference between faith in religion and faith in God? Where does the difference lie? Have you figured out these questions? What are believers in religion usually like? What is their focus? How can faith in religion be defined? When people believe in religion, they acknowledge that there is a God, and they make certain changes to their behavior: They don’t hit or swear at people, they don’t do bad things that harm people, and they don’t commit various crimes or break the law. On Sundays, they go to assembly. This is someone who believes in religion. Behaving well and often attending assembly, then, is proof that someone believes in religion. When someone believes in religion, they acknowledge that there is a God, and they think that to believe in God is to be a good person; as long as they do not sin or do bad things, they will go to heaven after they die, they will have a good end. Their faith gives them spiritual sustenance. As such, belief in religion can also be defined as follows: To believe in religion is to acknowledge, in your heart, that there is a God, to trust that after you die you will go to heaven, it means having an emotional crutch in your heart, as well as changing some of your behavior—being good, and nothing more. As for whether or not the God they believe in exists or not, what this God is doing now, what this God asks of them—they have no idea, they infer and imagine all of this based on the doctrines of the Bible. This is belief in religion. Faith in religion is primarily the pursuit of behavioral changes and spiritual sustenance. But the path that these people walk—the path of pursuing blessings—has not changed. There has been no alteration in their mistaken views, notions and imaginings about the faith in God. The basis of their existence, and the life goals and direction that they pursue, are mistaken things aligned with traditional culture, and have not changed at all. Such is the state of everyone who believes in religion. So what is faith in God? What is God’s definition of faith in God? (Trust in the sovereignty of God.) It is trust in the existence of God, and trust in the sovereignty of God—these are most fundamental. To believe in God is to listen to God’s words, to exist, live, perform one’s duty, and engage in all activities of normal humanity as God’s words ask. The implication is that to believe in God is to follow God, to do what God asks, to live as God asks; to believe in God is to follow the way of God. Are the life goals and direction of people who believe in God not completely different from people who believe in religion? What does belief in God relate to? It relates to people’s life direction and goals, to the path they choose; these have a direct correlation with whether or not they can be saved. …faith in God must be according to God’s words and what God asks, people must practice according to what God asks; only this is the true faith in God—this is getting to the root of the matter. Practicing the truth, following the words of God, and living according to God’s words: this is the right way of human life; faith in God relates to the path of human life. Faith in God relates to so many truths, and followers of God must understand these truths; how can they follow God if they do not understand and accept them? People who believe in religion merely acknowledge that there is a God, and they trust that there is a God—but they do not understand these truths, nor do they accept them, and so people who believe in religion are not followers of God” (“Belief in Religion Will Never Lead to Salvation” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words are so true! I thought of myself in religion, without the Holy Spirit’s work, and without the supply of God’s current words. I could only abide by religious rules and rites, and outwardly do some good deeds. When I saw a brother or sister was negative, I’d support them. I often laid hands on them and prayed, and actively took part in the ministry, and I thought this was in line with God’s will. Only after reading God’s words did I know that I was believing in religion, not believing in God. These were only outward good deeds, not practicing God’s words and obeying God, and it wouldn’t change my disposition. Our hard work and labor are just our own wishful thinking, and are not in line with God’s will. I also remembered that I often used to tell my brothers and sisters to pursue and work hard for the Lord. When they entered heaven, they would manage five or ten cities. Now, after reading God’s word, I felt my preaching was absurd and unrealistic. None of us had experienced God’s judgment in the last days, our corrupt dispositions had not been purified, and we weren’t qualified to enter God’s kingdom at all. Outward good deeds aren’t enough in belief in God. The key is to experience God’s work and words, achieve a change in disposition, and obey and. This is in line with God’s will. I saw that in the past, my belief in the Lord in religion was just confused belief, and not something God would praise. If I continued to believe in God and gather in religion, I would never gain the truth. But then I thought, I had my job as an elder, so I still had to go to church. If I left the church, I would surely be cast aside and despised, and others would disrespect me and think I was unfaithful to the Lord. When I thought of this, I hesitated. I also thought about telling them I had welcomed the Lord and accepted Almighty God, but I knew the moment I said it, I would be persecuted and hindered by the pastor and the other co-workers. I went back and forth in my heart. I knew that sooner or later I would leave religion, but I didn’t know how to offer them my resignation. I often prayed and sought with God over this.
Later, I read a passage of Almighty God’s words, “God seeks those who long for Him to appear. He seeks those who are able to hear His words, those who have not forgotten His commission and offer up their hearts and bodies to Him. He seeks those who are as obedient as babes before Him and do not resist Him. If you devote yourself to God, unimpeded by any power or force, then God shall look upon you with favor and shall bestow His blessings upon you. If you are of high station, of honorable reputation, possessed of abundant knowledge, the owner of plentiful assets, and supported by many people, yet these things do not prevent you from coming before God to accept His calling and His commission and to do what God asks of you, then all that you do shall be the most meaningful cause on earth and the most righteous undertaking of mankind. If you reject the call of God for the sake of status and your own goals, all that you do shall be cursed and even despised by God” (“God Presides Over the Fate of All Mankind” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). From God’s word, I understood that I hesitated several times about leaving the church because I couldn’t let go of my position as elder. Thanks to my status, my brothers and sisters looked up to me and respected me. They treated me differently, and they always thought of me when there were benefits. I worried that I would lose all of this when I left the church. I craved status and coveted the benefits of status. This was not the proper path, and it displeased God. I knew clearly that I had to free myself from the shackles of status. If I didn’t change things, I would walk the path of resisting God. This wasn’t the result I wanted. I could no longer concern myself with the high regard of my brothers and sisters. It didn’t matter whether others thought highly of me. What mattered was whether I could gain God’s approval. I had to be loyal to God, not to status. Knowing this, my determination to leave the church was stronger.
One day, I went to church as usual, and after the Sunday service, I told everyone I was quitting my job as an elder. Everyone was surprised when they heard this, and they all tried to convince me to stay. After that, some pastors called me, saying that being an elder was a covenant with God that couldn’t be broken. I thought, “The Lord has returned, expressed many truths, and done new work. Do I still need to keep this covenant and not welcome the Lord?” I remembered how the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees served God in the temple all year round, but when the Lord Jesus came to work, they condemned, resisted, and nailed the Lord Jesus to the cross. Is this loyalty to God? They were not people who were loyal to God at all. They resisted God. Today the Lord Jesus had returned, and had expressed new words. If I kept this so-called “covenant” and remained in the church, and didn’t keep up with God’s current words and work, then I wasn’t loyal to God! I thought of how the Lord Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (Jhn 10:27). God’s sheep should listen to God’s words and follow Him without any hesitation. So, no matter how the pastors tried to persuade me, I didn’t waver. I am very grateful to God for leading me out of religion, letting me eat and drink God’s practical words, and granting me the work of the Holy Spirit, which allowed me to experience unprecedented ease and release. With my elder status gone, I no longer spoke dry and empty words of doctrine from the pulpit. Instead, I focused on equipping myself with Almighty God’s word, and every day felt very fulfilling and joyous.
Before long, word spread that I had left the church. Two months later, I learned that a sister had posted a video from The Church of Almighty God in a group online, so the pastors had begun to seal up the church and released a message saying that because someone left the church, the church had to take precautions against Eastern Lightning. I was sad to hear this news, and sad for the pastors, but I was more certain than ever that most pastors in the religious world don’t like the truth. By nature, they’re sick of and hate the truth. They think they know the Bible and God, but actually they are the blind leading the blind into the pit. There are still many of God’s sheep wandering outside and not welcoming the Lord’s return. I had to preach the gospel of kingdom to them, fulfill my responsibilities, and repay God’s love. So, I began to preach God’s gospel of the last days, and I saw that people who truly believe in God are returning to God one after another, which makes me very happy and excited. I also feel that every day is full and meaningful. I thank God for leading me out of religion, letting me follow His footsteps, and letting me experience God’s work in the last days, For this, I truly feel blessed.