2. The Path to Purification
By Allie, the United States
I was baptized in the Lord Jesus’ name in 1990 and by 1998 I had become a church co-worker. Thanks to the work and guidance of the Holy Spirit, I had inexhaustible energy to work for the Lord and my well for sermons never ran dry. I often supported brothers and sisters who felt weak or negative and I remained patient and tolerant when their nonbeliever families were unkind to me. I felt that I’d changed a lot since becoming a Christian. But starting in 2010, I couldn’t sense the Lord’s guidance anymore and I didn’t have as much energy for my work. I preached on the same old things without any new enlightenment. When my husband or daughter did something I didn’t like, I couldn’t help but lose my temper and scold them. I knew that wasn’t the Lord’s will, and I did pray, confess, and repent, but I couldn’t help but sin again and be impatient and intolerant. This made me miserable. I diligently read the Bible, fasted, and prayed to escape that life of just sinning and confessing. I sought out pastors to help me explore this, but they couldn’t help at all.
By 2017, I was still working and preaching all over the place, but I felt a sense of emptiness and unease because I was always living in sin, and that feeling was getting stronger. One day, my husband asked me, “You’ve seemed really down lately. Is there something wrong?” I shared my concerns with him in answer to his question, saying, “I’ve been thinking, I’ve been a believer all these years and I’m a preacher, so why can’t I stop living in sin? I can’t sense the Lord’s presence. It’s as if He’s left me. I’ve believed in the Lord for years, read the Bible a lot, and listened a lot to the Lord’s way. I often resolve to bear my cross and overcome myself, but I’m always bound by sin. I lie for my own benefit and prestige, and can’t achieve ‘In their mouth was found no guile’ (Revelation 14:5). I know the Lord permits the difficulties and refinements I face but I can’t help but blame and misunderstand Him. I can’t happily submit. I’m afraid that if I keep living in sin this way, I won’t get into His kingdom when the Lord comes!”
In response, he said, “How could you think that? Have faith, you’re a preacher! Don’t you always say that? Though we live in sin and haven’t escaped it, yet it says in the Bible: ‘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. For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation’ (Romans 10:9–10), and ‘For whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved’ (Romans 10:13). We live in sin and aren’t free from it but our sins are forgiven. We’re justified and saved by faith. As long as we attend services, read the Bible, bear our cross and follow the Lord, we’ll get into the kingdom of heaven and be blessed.” I said to him, “I used to think that, but recently I read 1 Peter 1:16, ‘Be you holy; for I am holy’ and Hebrews 12:14, ‘Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.’ We’ve been saved, but we’re always sinning and confessing. We haven’t achieved holiness. I’m concerned—can we get into the kingdom of heaven in the state we’re in?”
After hearing me out, he agreed with me and said that the church had invited a Pastor Chen from Hong Kong and suggested I ask him about it. I figured I had to gain clarity on this, that I couldn’t be careless in my faith, or else I’d cause harm to myself as well as to my brothers and sisters. Later on, I looked up Pastor Chen online and in the page that came up, I saw the website Gospel of the Descent of the Kingdom. I went to that site and saw some words that 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! 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. Therefore, the incarnation in the last days has completed the significance of God’s incarnation and completely finished God’s management plan for man’s salvation” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I was so excited to read this. It perfectly described our condition as believers, and even though I didn’t completely understand it I saw hope in it. I felt I could find the path here to being cleansed and transformed. I gave heartfelt thanks to God for hearing my prayers. As I read on, I felt that it was all so wonderfully written, and that my parched spirit was being watered and shepherded. I wondered if these people could resolve my confusion. It said on the site “Should you have any questions, please leave us a message here,” so I sent them a message without the slightest hesitation and gave them my number and email.
I told my husband about this and he said he was interested in seeking, too. Members of The Church of Almighty God contacted me the next day. We chatted online that afternoon, and I shared what was puzzling me. “We’ve always gone by this verse in Romans that says ‘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). We think our sins are forgiven by the Lord Jesus, so we’ve been saved and we’ll get into the kingdom of heaven when He returns. But we’re still living in sin, we can’t keep the Lord’s teachings or escape from sin. It says in the Bible that without holiness we can’t see the Lord. I’m confused: Can someone like me who’s constantly sinning get into the kingdom? It says on The Church of Almighty God website that God is doing the work of judgment and chastisement in the last days. Is that related to escaping a sinful nature and entering the kingdom?”
Brother Chen shared this fellowship with us: “To understand this, first we have to know what ‘being saved’ is. Late in the Age of Law, people had grown farther from God and they didn’t fear Him anymore. Since no one kept the law and they were sinning more and more, they were all in danger of being condemned and put to death. God personally became flesh and was crucified as a sin offering for mankind to save people from death under the law. He redeemed all mankind from sin, so all we have to do is pray in the Lord Jesus’ name, confess and repent to Him, and our sins are forgiven. Then we can enjoy God’s grace and blessings without being condemned by the law. This is the true meaning of ‘being saved’ in the Age of Grace. That is, it just means our sins are forgiven, so we won’t be condemned and put to death under the law, and that God doesn’t see those sins anymore. But it doesn’t mean that we’re not sinful, that we don’t sin or resist God anymore. Being saved doesn’t mean we’re not corrupt or that we’re cleansed, and it especially doesn’t mean we’re fit to enter God’s kingdom. To be cleansed, we have to accept God’s judgment work in the last days.”
I understood from Brother Chen’s fellowship that being “saved” in Romans means accepting the Lord Jesus’ salvation and no longer being condemned and put to death under the law, but it’s not being purified. I felt there was truth to seek in this.
Brother Chen went on to read us several passages of Almighty God’s words. “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 of sin, 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). “Man was … 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).
Then Brother Chen shared this fellowship with us: “God’s words are clear on the reason for His work of judgment in the last days. The Lord Jesus only did the work of redemption in the Age of Grace, and even though He forgave our sins, our sinful nature is really deeply entrenched, and we still have satanic dispositions. We lie and cheat for our own benefit, we’re jealous and hateful, we follow worldly trends, we’re greedy, and we delight in injustice. If our satanic nature isn’t resolved, we may sin and resist God at any time. The Lord Jesus said, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant stays not in the house for ever: but the son stays ever’ (John 8:34–35). God is holy and His righteous disposition will brook no offense. How could He let people who constantly sin and oppose Him into His kingdom? So, God has become flesh again in the last days to fully save mankind. He expresses truths to judge and purify man on the foundation of the redemption work so we humans can be fully freed from sin, be cleansed, and get into God’s kingdom. This fulfills the Lord Jesus’ prophecies: ‘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). ‘He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day’ (John 12:48). And in 1 Peter, it says: ‘For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God’ (1 Peter 4:17). If we just cling to the redemption work of the Age of Grace without accepting God’s judgment in the last days, the root of our sinfulness can never be resolved. Accepting Almighty God’s judgment work in the last days is the only way we can be cleansed of corruption and enter God’s kingdom.”
Hearing Brother Chen’s fellowship brightened my heart. No wonder I couldn’t help but sin no matter how I prayed, read the Bible or tried to control myself. It was because my sinfulness hadn’t been uprooted. I hadn’t experienced God’s work of judgment in the last days! How does God’s judgment work purify, transform, and fully save people? I asked him this really eagerly.
He read another passage of Almighty God’s words for us. “Christ of the last days 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. All these different 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 about 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). Brother Chen then continued his fellowship with us. “In the last days, God mainly expresses truths to judge and cleanse people. Almighty God has expressed all truths that purify and fully save mankind, unlocking the mysteries of His plan to save humanity, revealing the root of evil and darkness in the world, how Satan corrupts man and how God saves man, the truth of Satan’s corruption of man, people’s satanic nature of sinning and resisting God and their various satanic dispositions, how people are cleansed through the judgment, chastisement, trials, and refinement of God’s words, and more. After undergoing the judgment and chastisement of God’s words for a few years, we feel God’s words that judge and expose mankind are like a razor-sharp sword, revealing our rebelliousness, corruption, and wrong motives, It’s true. and showing us how we’ve been so deeply corrupted by Satan. We’re full of satanic dispositions like arrogance, deceit, hardness, evil, and viciousness, without any human likeness. Even if we make sacrifices in our faith, we do it just to be blessed and get into the kingdom of heaven. We do it to make a deal with God to get His grace and blessings. We don’t do it to obey and satisfy Him. When some disaster befalls us or we encounter some other difficulty, we blame God and don’t truly submit to Him. If we have some caliber, gifts, or accomplishments in our duty, we show off so others will look up to us, and we even scold people haughtily. When God’s work and words don’t fit with our notions, we judge and resist God. We don’t fear God. When we’re exposed by God’s words and the facts, we feel ashamed, like we have nowhere to hide. We truly repent and hate ourselves and don’t want to live by our corrupt, satanic dispositions anymore. We also gain understanding of God’s righteous disposition and our reverence for Him grows. We’re willing to accept and submit to God’s judgment and chastisement, and practice the truth to cast off corruption. Our life dispositions gradually begin to change. All of this is achieved by experiencing God’s judgment in the last days.”
Hearing his fellowship was touching for me. I saw how meaningful God’s judgment work in the last days is, how He expresses truths to judge and expose man in very practical ways. It’s all to cleanse and fully save us. Our corrupt dispositions will never be cleansed without experiencing God’s judgment work of the last days and we’ll be totally unfit for God’s kingdom. After a few days of fellowship, I became certain that Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned and that His words are what the Holy Spirit says to the churches. I accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days without hesitation. All those years as a believer, I was trapped living in sin, but now I’ve finally found the path to purification and full salvation. Thanks be to Almighty God!