2. The Road to Purification
By Christopher, Philippines
My name is Christopher, and I’m a pastor of a house church in the Philippines. In 1987, I was baptized and turned to the Lord Jesus and then by the Lord’s grace, in 1996 I became a pastor in a local church. At that time, I was not only working and preaching in many places around the Philippines, but I was also preaching in places such as Hong Kong and Malaysia. Through the work and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I felt that I had inexhaustible energy in my work for the Lord and endless inspiration for my sermons. I would often offer support to brothers and sisters who were feeling negative and weak. Sometimes when their nonbeliever family members were unfriendly toward me, I was still able to be tolerant and patient; I didn’t lose faith in the Lord and believed that the Lord could change them. So, I felt like I had changed a great deal since becoming a believer. However, starting in 2011, I was no longer able to feel the work of the Holy Spirit as strongly as before. I gradually lost new enlightenment for my sermons and lacked the strength to break free from living in sin. I could not help losing my temper with my wife and daughter when I saw them doing things I didn’t like and scolded them out of anger. I knew that this was not in keeping with the will of the Lord, but often I could not help myself. This was particularly distressing for me. In order to free myself from a life of sinning and then confessing, I put more effort into reading the Bible, fasting and praying, and looked everywhere for spiritual pastors so we could seek and explore this together. But all of my efforts came to naught; there was no change to my life of sin and the darkness within my soul.
Then one evening in spring 2016, my wife asked me, “Christopher, I’ve noticed you’ve been really troubled recently. What’s on your mind?” I told her what was troubling me, “I’ve been wondering these last few years why I can’t break free from living in sin despite being a pastor and having believed in the Lord for many years. I’m no longer able to feel the Lord—it’s as if He has forsaken me. Even though I go all over the place to preach, as soon as I have a moment to myself, especially in the dead of night, I always feel a kind of emptiness and anxiety, and this feeling is just growing. I think about how I’ve believed in the Lord all these years, I’ve read the Bible so much, I’ve listened to so many of the Lord’s sermons, and I’ve often resolved to bear the cross and conquer myself, but I’m always bound by sin. I’m capable of telling lies to protect my own interests and face, and I fail to live up to ‘And in their mouth was found no guile’ (Revelation 14:5). When facing hardships and refinement, although I know these happen with the Lord’s consent, I still cannot stop myself from complaining about the Lord and misunderstanding Him. I utterly fail at willing self-renunciation. I’m afraid that, living in sin this way, when the Lord comes, I won’t be able to enter the kingdom of heaven!”
Hearing this, my wife said, “Christopher, how can you think like this? You must have faith; you are a pastor! Although we live in sin and have not broken free from the binds of sin, the Bible says, ‘That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved’ (Romans 10:9). ‘For whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved’ (Romans 10:13). As long as we keep reading the Bible, attending gatherings, praying to the Lord, and we bear the cross, unerringly following Him until the second coming of the Lord, we’ll be able to enter the kingdom of heaven and receive the Lord’s blessing.”
I then said to my wife, “I thought so before, but in 1 Peter 1:16 it says: ‘Because it is written, Be you holy; for I am holy.’ I have believed in the Lord for thirty years, yet I cannot keep to the Lord’s way and, living in sin, I am still capable of often resisting the Lord. I don’t remotely meet the Lord’s requirements. Ugh! How many times have I resolved to obey the teachings of the Lord, yet I haven’t been able to put His words into practice. How could I be worthy of entering the kingdom of heaven this way? The Lord Jesus said: ‘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’ (Matthew 7:21). According to the Lord’s words, entering the kingdom of heaven is not as simple as we think. The Lord is holy, so how can people who cannot practice His word and who frequently oppose Him be raptured into the kingdom of heaven? Only those who have transformed and who do God’s will can enter the kingdom of heaven!”
My wife thought for a moment and said, “What you’re saying makes sense. The Lord is holy and we are still sinful. We are not worthy of entering God’s kingdom. It’s just that … I suddenly remembered … didn’t Pastor Liu invite a Korean Pastor Kim to the church? How about we do some seeking on this issue?” I said: “Yeah, that’s a good idea. The Lord Jesus said: ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you’ (Matthew 7:7). As long as we seek, I believe that the Lord will lead us. As a pastor, I have to consider the lives of our brothers and sisters. If I’m cavalier in my faith, I’ll be doing them as well as myself a disservice. Let’s wait until Pastor Kim comes and then seek from him on this issue.”
Since I was planning to seek out Pastor Kim, I wanted to know a little about his background. I went online to search for the Korean church he was with. On the pages that popped up, I saw the website https://www.holyspiritspeaks.org. Opening it, these words drew me in: “Man received much grace, such as the peace and happiness of the flesh, the faith of one member bringing blessing on an entire family, the healing of sickness, and so on. The rest were the good deeds of man and his godly appearance; if someone could live on the basis of these, they were considered an acceptable believer. Only believers of this kind could enter heaven after death, which meant that they were saved. But, in their lifetime, these people did not understand at all the way of life. All they did was to commit sins and then confess their sins in a constant cycle without any path to change their disposition: Such was the condition of man in the Age of Grace. Has man received complete salvation? No!” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). These were so well put that I absolutely had to keep reading: “Therefore, after that stage of work was finished, there still remained the work of judgment and chastisement. This stage is to make man pure by means of the word, and thereby give him a path to follow. This stage would not be fruitful or meaningful if it continued with the casting out of demons, for it would fail to extirpate man’s sinful nature, and man would come to a standstill at the forgiveness of his sins. Through the sin offering, man has been forgiven his sins, for the work of the crucifixion has already come to an end and God has prevailed over Satan. But the corrupt disposition of man still remaining within him, man can still sin and resist God, and God has not gained mankind. That is why in this stage of work God uses the word to expose the corrupt disposition of man, causing him to practice in accordance with the right path. This stage is more meaningful than the previous one, as well as more fruitful, for now it is the word that directly supplies man’s life and enables the disposition of man to be completely renewed; it is a much more thorough stage of work” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Reading this was incredibly exciting for me. Although I couldn’t entirely understand it and some of it was even puzzling for me, these words allowed me to see some hope. I felt that within this I could find a path to purify and change myself. I thanked God from the bottom of my heart for hearing my prayer. As I went on reading, I felt that these really were wonderful words that watered and shepherded my thirsty soul. I saw this on the website: “If you can’t find the Gospel Hotline in your country or region, please leave us a message and we will contact you as soon as possible.” I took a quick look and didn’t see a hotline for the Philippines, so I immediately left a message, and wrote down my contact number and email address with no hesitation.
After I got home that evening, I told my wife about it and after hearing what I had to say, she was willing to seek as well. I really thank the Lord that they responded to my message the next day and arranged to connect with us online that very same afternoon. That afternoon, we spoke to Sister Liu and Sister Su. From that conversation, I felt that they spoke simply, deftly and with insight. My wife was even more anxious than me and said, “Do you mind if I ask a question?” They enthusiastically said, “Of course.” My wife replied, “On your church’s website it says, ‘God of the last days has done a stage of the work of judgment and chastisement.’ My husband and I know that no unholy person will see the Lord because He is holy, but in Romans it says, ‘That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved’ (Romans 10:9). ‘For whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved’ (Romans 10:13). If we believe in the Lord Jesus then we are already saved and can enter the kingdom of heaven, so why is God of the last days doing a stage of the work of judgment and chastisement? I’m not really clear on this and I hope to hear your thoughts.”
Sister Liu replied, “Thanks be to God! Let’s fellowship together and let God guide us. Let’s first take a look at what ‘being saved’ means here. In the latter period of the Age of Law, people had all grown far from God and no longer had God-fearing hearts. They had become more and more sinful and went so far as to offer up blind, lame and diseased livestock and birds as sacrifices. The people of that time no longer upheld the law and they were all in danger of being condemned to death for violating the law. Given the situation, in order to save those living under the law from certain death, God Himself became flesh and undertook the work of redemption, and was ultimately crucified to redeem the whole of mankind from sin. People could be forgiven of their sins by believing in the Lord Jesus, thus becoming qualified to come before God in prayer and enjoy the grace and blessings of God. This is the true meaning of ‘being saved’ in the Age of Grace. In other words, ‘being saved’ is nothing more than a person’s sins being forgiven. That is, God doesn’t regard people as being tainted by sin anymore, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not inherently sinful. Therefore, being saved does not mean that we are completely purified and have attained complete salvation. If we want to be purified, we have to accept God’s judgment work of the last days.”
Only after hearing their fellowship did my wife and I understand that “being saved,” as spoken of in the Epistle of the Romans, referred to the acceptance of the Lord Jesus’ salvation and to no longer being condemned to death for violating the law. It was not the “being saved” that we had imagined, of being thoroughly purified. What they said made sense. That explanation of “being saved” is in line with our situation of living in a state of committing sins and then confessing those sins. So, what the Lord Jesus did was just the work of redemption, not the work of thoroughly purifying and saving man. Although once people believe in the Lord they are saved, this does not mean that they have been thoroughly purified. Listening to their fellowship, I felt that there was truth to be sought from within it, so I expressed my willingness to continue on. I said, “Thanks be to the Lord! What you’re saying is wonderful. From this fellowship with you now we understand the true meaning of ‘being saved.’ Please continue on with your fellowship, and may the Lord guide us.” Sister Su went on to say, “Great, let’s read a few passages of the word of Almighty God and it will all become clearer. Almighty God said: ‘At the time, Jesus’ work was the work to redeem all mankind. The sins of all who believed in Him were forgiven; as long as you believed in Him, He would redeem you; if you believed in Him, you were no longer a sinner, you were relieved of your sins. This is what it meant to be saved, and to be justified by faith. Yet in those who believed, there remained that which was rebellious and opposed God, and which still had to be slowly removed. Salvation did not mean man had been completely gained by Jesus, but that man was no longer of sin, that he had been forgiven his sins. Provided you believed, you would never more be of sin’ (“The Vision of God’s Work (2)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). ‘The work of the last days is to speak words. Great changes can be effected in man by means of words. The changes now effected in these people upon their accepting these words are much greater than those effected in people upon their accepting the signs and wonders of the Age of Grace. For, in the Age of Grace, the demons were cast out from man with the laying on of hands and prayer, but the corrupt dispositions within man still remained. Man was healed of his sickness and forgiven his sins, but as for just how man was to be purged of the corrupt satanic dispositions within him, this work had yet to be done. Man was only saved and forgiven his sins for his faith, but the sinful nature of man was not extirpated and still remained within him. The sins of man were forgiven through the agency of the incarnate God, but this did not mean that man no longer had sin within him. The sins of man could be forgiven through the sin offering, but as for just how man can be made to sin no more, and how his sinful nature may be extirpated completely and transformed, he has no way of solving this problem. The sins of man were forgiven, and this is because of the work of God’s crucifixion, but man continued to live within his corrupt satanic disposition of old. This being so, man must be completely saved from his corrupt satanic disposition, so that his sinful nature may be completely extirpated, never to develop again, thus enabling the disposition of man to be transformed. This would require man to grasp the path of growth in life, to grasp the way of life, and to grasp the way to change his disposition. Furthermore, it would require man to act in accordance with this path, so that his disposition may gradually be changed and he may live under the shining of the light, so that all that he does may be in accord with the will of God, so that he may cast away his corrupt satanic disposition, and so that he may break free from Satan’s influence of darkness, thereby emerging fully from sin. Only then will man receive complete salvation’ (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). ‘Though Jesus did much work among man, He only completed the redemption of all mankind and became man’s sin offering; He did not rid man of all his corrupt disposition. Fully saving man from the influence of Satan not only required Jesus to become the sin offering and bear the sins of man, but it also required God to do even greater work to rid man completely of his satanically corrupted disposition. And so, now that man has been forgiven of his sins, God has returned to the flesh to lead man into the new age, and begun the work of chastisement and judgment. This work has brought man into a higher realm. All those who submit under His dominion shall enjoy higher truth and receive greater blessings. They shall truly live in the light, and they shall gain the truth, the way, and the life’ (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh). We can see from the words of Almighty God that if we adhere to God’s redemptive work from the Age of Grace and do not accept His judgment work of the last days, then the root of our sinfulness cannot be resolved. Almighty God of the last days has arrived and is carrying out a step of work on the foundation of the work of redemption, judging and purifying man. He is uttering truths to reveal the truth of man’s corruption, judging man’s satanic nature. He has come to transform people’s satanic disposition, to completely free them from Satan’s influence so they may attain full salvation. It is evident that Almighty God’s judgment work of the last days is the most critical and fundamental work for purifying, saving and perfecting people. Therefore, it is only by accepting Almighty God’s judgment work of the last days that we can gain a true understanding of our own corrupt essence and God’s righteous disposition, completely break free from Satan’s influence, be fully saved by God and become people who obey, worship and are compatible with God.”
My heart really brightened from hearing all of this fellowship, and I felt like my long-standing confusions had finally been resolved. It turns out that God just carried out the work of redemption in the Age of Grace, not the work of ridding people of their corrupt satanic disposition. God’s judgment work of revealing the truth through His incarnation in the last days is the work of the thorough purification and salvation of mankind. So how does God actually purify, transform people and completely save them? I was eager to know the answer to this question, so I couldn’t wait to ask, “I understand what you just said, and now I know that we can only attain purification through the returned Lord carrying out the step of the work of judgment. This is what I’ve been longing for for quite some time. What I really want to know now is how Almighty God does His work of judgment to purify and save people? Please share your fellowship.”
Sister Su continued on, “The question of how Almighty God does His judgment work to cleanse and save people is particularly important for anyone who wants to achieve change and purification. Almighty God’s words provide particular clarity on this aspect of the truth. I’ll send them to you. Brother, please read them!”
Thrilled, I read out Almighty God’s words: “In the last days, Christ uses a variety of truths to teach man, to expose the substance of man, and to dissect the words and deeds of man. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the substance of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, the words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan, and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth of which man is utterly bereft. Only methods such as these can be called judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced into submission to God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God. What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt essence and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the essence of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him. This work is the work of judgment done by God” (“Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
After I had finished reading God’s words, Sister Su continued with her fellowship, “Almighty God’s words explain so clearly how God judges and purifies people. God in the last days is primarily uttering truths to target man’s corrupt disposition and satanic nature of resisting God in order to judge, purify and save mankind. Almighty God has uttered so many aspects of the truths—how Satan corrupts people, how God saves people, what it is to just follow man and what it is to obey God, what perspectives we should have in our faith, what a dispositional change is, what fearing God and shunning evil is, what offending God’s disposition is, how to be an honest person, etc. These truths all possess authority and power, and can provide people with sustenance for their lives. They are the path to eternal life that God has bestowed upon mankind. As long as people accept and practice the word of God, they can attain purification and salvation. After undergoing several years of Almighty God’s work of judgment we have personally experienced all of this. When we read Almighty God’s words of judging, chastising, and exposing man, we feel that they are like a double-edged sword, revealing our rebelliousness, corruption, resistance, wrong intentions, notions and imaginations and even Satan’s toxins hidden in the depths of our hearts. It makes us see that we are indeed corrupted by Satan too deeply and we are filled with satanic dispositions such as being arrogant and self-righteous, crooked and cunning, selfish, mean and blind to all but our own interests, with no fear at all for God. We see we are filled with filth and corruption in our actions, hearts, and minds, without any human likeness. We feel too ashamed to show our faces and realize that if we continue to live by our corrupt satanic dispositions, we will always be people who disgust God, we will never be able to win God’s praise and we will be destined for elimination and punishment. The judgment and revelations of Almighty God’s words make us recognize God’s majestic, wrathful and righteous disposition and gradually develop a God-fearing heart as well as true repentance and change. We now feel that we are living out a bit of a human likeness and we see that we have indeed attained God’s great salvation. If God’s judgment hadn’t come upon us, we wouldn’t have had the chance to know God’s righteous disposition which does not tolerate man’s offenses and His holy and benevolent essence. We wouldn’t be able to come to hate our own rebelliousness and corruption, nor would we be able to cast aside our corruption and be purified. So, the more we experience God’s judgment and chastisement, the more we see that God’s judgment and chastisement is the best care for us, our greatest blessing and the truest salvation!”
Sister Liu also shared this in fellowship, “Almighty God’s judgment and chastisement work of the last days is the work of thoroughly purifying, saving and perfecting people. If we do not accept judgment before the seat of Christ of the last days, then we won’t be able to attain purification and changes to our life disposition. Our outcome will most certainly be rejection and elimination by God; we will suffer perdition and will perish. We will never have a chance at salvation and entering the kingdom of heaven. This is an absolute.”
I happily said, “Thanks be to God! My heart is so brightened by your fellowship. I’ve believed in the Lord for so many years but in fact I’ve been living in sin and have been powerless to break free. Now I understand that if I do not experience God’s judgment and chastisement in the last days, I won’t be able to break free from the bondage and constraints of sin. I have now found the path to purification and complete salvation.” After several days’ fellowship, my wife and I came to understand some truths and we accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days.
I give thanks to Almighty God for His love and salvation for me! As a pastor, I have the responsibility and the obligation to bring all the other pastors and the brothers and sisters that I know before God. After working with these brothers and sisters for a period of time, not only did dozens of brothers and sisters in the church who often attend gatherings all accept Almighty God, but I also brought a pastor of another house church into God’s family, and the majority of the brothers and sisters from his church also turned toward God. I was delighted seeing those brothers and sisters accepting God’s salvation of the last days and being raised up before the throne of God. This is all the fruit of the work of Almighty God: May all glory be to Almighty God!