24. Who Is the Obstacle on the Road to the Heavenly Kingdom?
By Meng’ai, Malaysia
The year my husband died, I was deep in despair, and on top of that I had the added burden of raising my children. Hardship had suddenly befallen my life, but I had the love of the Lord with me all along and, with the help of my brothers and sisters, I got through this difficult time. To repay the Lord’s love, I continued to make donations and serve the church, and have been doing so for over thirty years. In this time, I have experienced the thriving of the church and seen the glorious event of the spreading of the gospel of the Lord Jesus. I’ve also witnessed desolation and helplessness in the church. I thought back to when the Holy Spirit first began to do the great work in the church, when we experienced enjoyment and gained much from listening to the pastor’s preaching. There was mutual love among the brothers and sisters just as if we were all one family, and everyone was united in spreading the gospel and bearing witness to the Lord. Later, without knowing what had happened, there was no longer any light in what the pastor preached. It was like everything was just the same old story repeated again and again, and the believers simply could not derive any nourishment or supply. Their faith and love gradually waned, and there were fewer and fewer people coming to gatherings. Those of us who participated in service were also just going through the motions. We all acted according to the wishes of the people in the ministry and not at all in the service of God, but rather we just exerted ourselves in front of other people and tried to please them. I knew that this kind of service was not in line with God’s will, and so it was very painful for me. I also felt helpless, with no idea how to walk the path ahead of me. I therefore hoped all the more for the Lord to return as soon as possible, so that all these problems would be solved.
Just when I was feeling at a loss, in 2016 I looked into the work of Almighty God in the last days. I read a great deal of the word of Almighty God and I listened to what the brothers and sisters of The Church of Almighty God fellowshiped and what they bore witness to, and finally I understood that the Lord Jesus had long since incarnated and come into the world to express His words and perform the last days’ work of judgment beginning at the house of God, and He was doing all this to completely purify and save mankind and to bring mankind into the heavenly kingdom. The word of Almighty God made clear to me the mystery of the Lord’s return which I had thought about for so many years. I understood that the Lord’s return was divided into the two forms of the hidden advent and of coming openly. The Lord first becomes incarnate as the Son of man at the hidden advent to express His words and to judge and cleanse man, and to make a group of overcomers before the disasters. When the great disasters descend, He will reward the good and punish the evil, and He will come openly, appearing to all nations and peoples. At that time, the work of God incarnate at the hidden advent will already have ended, and all who resist and condemn God’s work in the last days will meet the disasters with much weeping and gnashing of teeth. The brothers and sisters also fellowshiped to me such truths as the three stages of God’s work to save mankind, the significance of God’s incarnation, and how God performs the work of judgment in the last days. I then understood why before, in serving the church, we had not had God’s guidance, and why there was no path forward for us in reading the Scripture, prayer, and Bible study. I understood why we had not felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. God had already performed new work, concluded the Age of Grace and brought about the Age of Kingdom. The Holy Spirit was no longer working within the churches of the Age of Grace, so people’s spirits had withered and grown dark, devoid of any joy or contentment, and they could not obtain any sustenance in their spiritual lives. It was thanks to God’s guidance and direction that I was able to recognize God’s voice in the word of Almighty God, and I happily accepted the work of God in the last days. Afterward, the brothers and sisters would frequently share the word of Almighty God with me online. Seeing the movies, videos of choral dances, and music videos produced by The Church of Almighty God provided great sustenance to me, and I thanked God from the bottom of my heart for leading me before His throne. I enjoyed being shepherded and nourished by the word of God, and I entered a blissful life of living face to face with God.
One day, a wife of one of the pastors in the church sent me a message out of the blue, saying: “Why did you like a post by Eastern Lightning? You also allowed it to be posted on your timeline, and it goes against the Lord’s will to do so. If our parishioners see the post about Eastern Lightning, and become interested in the words of Almighty God, they’ll all go read up on Eastern Lightning, and then what will we do? You mustn’t get in touch with the people from Eastern Lightning again. You should delete their contact information right away….” I replied: “The gospel movies, hymns, and music videos of The Church of Almighty God are all quite good, and I’ve gotten a lot out of them. I should give it a like!” I wanted to send more messages to the pastor’s wife, but before I’d even finished my message, she said many things attacking and condemning Almighty God, and slandering The Church of Almighty God. I saw that she had no desire whatsoever to investigate this great matter of the Lord’s return, but just made whatever judgments and condemnatory remarks she saw fit. I didn’t want to talk about this with her anymore, so I just changed the subject.
A few days after this happened, Pastor Yang came looking for me to have a talk. After some pleasantries, Pastor Yang asked me, “Have you looked into any other religious groups online?” I didn’t know why Pastor Yang would ask me such a question, and I said, “My friends on Facebook belong to many different denominations, and if I think the articles they post are correct and good, I always try to understand them and see if there’s any new light in them. Are you saying it’s wrong to do this?” Pastor Yang asked me again, “Did you convert to Eastern Lightning two years ago? Why do you want to investigate Eastern Lightning? Also, do you frequently go looking for so-and-so (a sister who had accepted God’s work in the last days, whose pictures had been posted and who had been condemned and abandoned by the pastor of her original church)? …” Hearing the barrage of questions from Pastor Yang, I started to get annoyed, and said, “The Church of Almighty God is good, and within it there is the truth and the work of the Holy Spirit. I will follow along wherever there is the truth and the work of the Holy Spirit, and this is only proper. There is no new light in our church, and my spirit is darkened and can’t find any sustenance there. I want to find a church that has the work of the Holy Spirit, where my life can receive the nourishment of the truth. The teachings of Eastern Lightning appeal to me, and the words of Almighty God are all the truth. They allow me to obtain sustenance. I wasn’t wrong to investigate Eastern Lightning, and I am free to do so.” Pastor Yang said, “What the people from Eastern Lightning preach oversteps the Bible, and there are no other words of God than those that are within the Bible. If what they preach deviates from the Bible, then it is wrong.” I said, “I once heard a preacher say the same thing, and I used to be of the same viewpoint myself. But after reading the word of Almighty God, and hearing what the brothers and sisters of The Church of Almighty God fellowshiped, I have come to know that this view is just our own notions and imaginings. It is not at all in accord with the truth and it does not tally with the facts. God is all-encompassing, and God is rich in wisdom. How can we delimit God’s words and work to just the Bible? The Bible says: ‘And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written’ (John 21:25). We can see here that the words and work of God recorded in the Bible are too limited in scope. Not all that the Lord Jesus said at the time was written down in the Bible, much less the words spoken by the returned Lord. On top of that, the work of Almighty God is built on the foundation laid by the Lord Jesus. The work of Almighty God and that of the Lord Jesus are the work of one God….” Pastor Yang didn’t listen to a word I said and had no interest whatsoever in seeking and investigating. He just continued to say things resisting and condemning Almighty God and The Church of Almighty God, and he asked me, “How did you learn about the website of The Church of Almighty God? Do you have their books? Have you preached the work of Almighty God to anyone else? Have you preached it to your children? Give me the names of the people in The Church of Almighty God….” He also demanded that I never again attend a gathering with people from The Church of Almighty God. If I didn’t listen to him and continued to be in contact with The Church of Almighty God, then he would expel me from the church, he would never again let me go to any church and would thoroughly smear my reputation. I was shocked by the Pastor Yang I saw right in front of me. How had Pastor Yang, who was always so good-natured and humble, and always spoke such gentle words, transformed into such a barbaric and unreasonable person? I told him, “It is my right to investigate the truth, and no one has any right to interfere with this. As for whether or not the teachings of Eastern Lightning are the true way, you should first of all not judge and condemn it blindly. You can go and investigate for yourself on the website of The Church of Almighty God, where they have a lot of content. There are all kinds of books of God’s words. Go see for yourself whether the word of Almighty God is the voice of the returned Lord Jesus….” Pastor Yang absolutely would not listen to what I was saying, but just kept on resisting and condemning. He threatened me, saying I must leave The Church of Almighty God. The more he spoke, the more Pastor Yang crossed the line. I became extremely indignant and said to him, “The Lord Jesus said: ‘Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged’ (Matthew 7:1–2). If you have never investigated the words and work of Almighty God, then how can you just make whatever judgments and condemnatory remarks you want? When you act like this, is it in a way that reveres the Lord?” Pastor Yang saw that I wasn’t listening to him and that I had refuted him, and so he didn’t say anything else.
In the following days, Pastor Yang started to keep an eye on me. This filled me with worry, and I lost my freedom of faith as well. In the church, there was only a hallway separating Pastor Yang’s office from my own. He kept popping into my office to see what I was up to, and sometimes he would say he was going to the toilet and then watch me from the corridor. One day, two sisters of The Church of Almighty God came to my office to chat. Once the sisters left, Pastor Yang went to find my assistant. My assistant later told me that Pastor Yang had asked her who these two people were, and why they had come…. Pastor Yang watched me the whole day as if he were keeping an eye on a criminal. It made me feel very oppressed and completely without freedom. One day, I did not go to the church, and was taking part in a gathering online with some brothers and sisters. Just then, as I was earnestly taking the meeting notes in my living room, Pastor Yang suddenly appeared behind me (the door was ajar, and whoever came could enter the room) and said, “What are you doing? What are you writing?” I jumped up in fright at the sudden and unexpected voice. I felt inwardly ill at ease at being disturbed by him in such a way, and whatever I did I could not return to a state of tranquility. I resented him intensely, and thought: “Investigating the true way in one’s belief in God is right and proper, and is a right that a Christian should have.” The Holy Spirit was no longer working within our church, and the parishioners were all negative, weak, and withered in spirit. They were living in an environment that had sunk down into darkness, and I was looking for a church in which the Holy Spirit was at work. How was it wrong to look for the footsteps of God? Why did he want to keep an eye on me? Why wouldn’t he let me be?
Not only was the pastor monitoring and disturbing me, but one elder even called me up to harass me. He told me: “What the people from The Church of Almighty God preach has overstepped the Bible. If you believe in the Lord, you cannot betray the Lord, who has given you so much kindness. You can’t be without a conscience….” I said in retort, “Almighty God and the Lord Jesus are one and the same God, and I have certainly not betrayed the Lord Jesus by believing in Almighty God. I am merely keeping up with the footprints of the Lamb….” However, no matter how I tried to explain it, the elder was just the same as the pastor. Other than saying condemnatory and blasphemous things, and obstructing me from accepting the work of Almighty God in the last days, he didn’t listen to one word of what I fellowshiped or advised. I didn’t want to talk with him anymore, so I just thought of some excuse to hang up. But the elder didn’t let me off the hook. He kept calling to harass me and said that, by my belief in Almighty God, I had forgotten the grace of the Lord and had betrayed Him. I remembered what was said in Revelation: “These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Revelation 14:4). On the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption, Almighty God is performing the stage of the work of judging and purifying people through words, and my acceptance of Almighty God’s work in the last days clearly showed that I was keeping up with the footprints of the Lamb. How could anyone say I was betraying the Lord Jesus? At first, when the Lord Jesus came to do work, the people who had believed in Jehovah left the law behind and they accepted the gospel of the kingdom of heaven that was being preached by the Lord Jesus. They followed the Lord Jesus, but had they forgotten the salvation of Jehovah? Was this a betrayal of Jehovah? Isn’t this a fallacy? After this took place, the pastor once again sent me some messages online blaspheming, resisting, and condemning Almighty God. Reading such hideous words made me feel disgusted and furious again. Only Satan was capable of uttering such blasphemies, and in their capacity as leaders in the church, how was it that they had no fear whatsoever of God and dared to say all manner of blasphemies? It reminded me of the words of the Lord Jesus: “But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matthew 12:32). Blaspheming against God is a major and terrible sin! I felt a lingering sense of dread on their behalf, but no matter what I said, they just closed their ears and refused to hear anything. They just kept condemning, resisting, and blaspheming. I just could not understand it: The elder and the pastor both had knowledge of the Bible and had studied theology, and the words of Almighty God were spoken with such clarity, so why was it that they would not seek or investigate His words? Why did they absolutely insist on condemning and resisting Almighty God?
Bearing this question in mind, I went to find the brothers and sisters of The Church of Almighty God. Sister Lin fellowshiped to me, saying, “As for why it is that the elder and the pastor do not seek or investigate Almighty God’s work in the last days, but instead frantically condemn and resist Him, Almighty God long ago made clear the essence and origin of this problem. Almighty God says: ‘Do you wish to know the root of why the Pharisees opposed Jesus? Do you wish to know the essence of the Pharisees? They were full of fantasies about the Messiah. What is more, they believed only that the Messiah would come, yet did not seek the life truth. And so, even today they still await the Messiah, for they have no knowledge of the way of life, and do not know what the way of truth is. How, say you, could such foolish, stubborn and ignorant people gain God’s blessing? How could they behold the Messiah? They opposed Jesus because they did not know the direction of the Holy Spirit’s work, because they did not know the way of truth spoken by Jesus, and, furthermore, because they did not understand the Messiah. And since they had never seen the Messiah and had never been in the company of the Messiah, they made the mistake of clinging in vain to the name of the Messiah while opposing the essence of the Messiah by any means possible. These Pharisees in essence were stubborn, arrogant, and did not obey the truth. The principle of their belief in God was: No matter how profound Your preaching, no matter how high Your authority, You are not Christ unless You are called the Messiah. Are these views not preposterous and ridiculous?’ (“By the Time You Behold the Spiritual Body of Jesus, God Will Have Made Heaven and Earth Anew” 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?’ (“Only to Pursue the Truth Is Truly to Believe in God” in Records of Christ’s Talks). When the Lord Jesus had first come to do His work, He was beset by the frantic condemnation and resistance of the Jewish leaders—the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees. In the end, they crucified the Lord Jesus. The ancestors of the Pharisees believed in God and were expert in the law. So why would they resist and condemn the Lord Jesus, and nail Him to the cross? We can see from the word of God that this was brought about by their satanic nature of being arrogant, conceited and not submitting to the truth. The Lord Jesus expressed so much truth, and they did not seek after or investigate it, but rather adhered to their own viewpoints. Their belief in God relied only on their own notions and imaginings, and they interpreted the Bible by taking verses out of context. This caused them to be blind, and not to obtain any enlightenment from God. They did not know the work of the Holy Spirit, and did not understand the truth, nor could they understand God’s voice. This truly caused the words of the Bible to come true: ‘By hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed’ (Matthew 13:14–15). The pastors and elders in religious circles in the last days are the same as the Pharisees of that time, as what they place importance on is knowledge of the Bible and theological theory. They rely on their own thinking and imaginings to interpret the word of the Lord, and to delimit the way the Lord will return. They stubbornly cling to their own notions and imaginings, and they do not seek the truth whatsoever. Not only do they not investigate the work of God in the last days, but they blindly resist and condemn Him, thus exposing their stubbornness and their satanic nature of arrogance and hostility to the truth. They study theology, equipping themselves with knowledge of the Bible, but that does not mean that they have any love for the truth, nor does it mean that they are able to accept and obey the truth. They expound Bible knowledge and theological theory, their only goal being to increase their own renown and reputation. They do so to safeguard their own status, and make believers look up to them reverently, adore them, and follow them. They see that the words which Almighty God expresses are the truth, and that they are able to conquer and save people, and that many people who have a love for the truth and who yearn for God’s appearance have read the word of Almighty God and have turned to Almighty God. They believe that the work of Almighty God is a threat to their status and livelihood, and so they fight back frantically and do their utmost to condemn and resist Almighty God. They take whatever means necessary to obstruct and disrupt believers from turning to Almighty God in an attempt to dominate God’s chosen people for all time. This is the root cause why elders and preachers do not seek or investigate the work of Almighty God and why they frantically resist and condemn Almighty God. It can be seen in the evil deeds of the preachers and elders who resist God that they are the Pharisees of our time, and that they are the obstacles and the stumbling blocks preventing believers from accepting the true way and being raised up into the heavenly kingdom. They are the antichrists, who resist God and make God their enemy, and who have been revealed by God’s work in the last days.”
After hearing the word of Almighty God and what the sisters fellowshiped, I compared it to what the pastor and elder had said and done. I saw that the word of Almighty God was spoken in a very practical way and that, even though the pastor and elder were well-versed in the Bible and could expound on the Bible, it still did not mean that they had any knowledge of God. They relied on natural talent and knowledge in their work to elevate themselves so that others would worship them and follow them. On the surface, they seemed to be serving God, but in reality, what they were serving were their own notions and imaginings, their own status and livelihood. Through the pastor and elder repeatedly harassing and obstructing me, I was able to see through to who they truly were. They were antichrists who believed in God but did not seek the truth, and who served God yet resisted Him. Even though the pastor and elder have still not given up harassing me to this day, I have already seen clearly their true antichrist essence of hostility for the truth and resistance to God. I will no longer allow myself to be harassed or controlled by them, and I am completely certain that the work of Almighty God in the last days is true. I wish to follow Almighty God to the very end, and never give up! Amen!