Letting Go of My Notion, I Welcomed the Lord’s Return
My Problems Couldn’t Be Solved in the Church
I am a Christian who has believed in the Lord for twenty years. During this period, I’ve enjoyed the abundant grace of the Lord, and my life and business both went smoothly. When my husband and I went to Brazil to do business in September of 2014, I was defrauded of lots of money by my church leader; besides, when relocating the shop, I was falsely accused of breaking the agreement by my former landlord because I didn’t understand the local law. As I encountered such things, my pastor not only did not communicate the Lord’s will to me, but told me that in Brazil, I would have to make restitution once I was charged. Later, through relying on the Lord, I saw the Lord’s deeds that I didn’t pay any compensation. But from this matter, I realized that my pastor had no place at all for the Lord in his heart, and had no knowledge of the Lord in the slightest; furthermore, his fellowship couldn’t solve the problems I encountered in life.
The Flattery in the Church Made Me Puzzled
When living the church life, I also saw the depraved situation of the church. No matter what my pastor preached, even if he had never preached the way of knowing the Lord, the group leaders always flattered and exalted him; didn’t they make us have a place for man in our hearts? Their actions were simply the same as those of the unbelievers. That wasn’t supposed to happen in the church, for the Lord said: “But be not you called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all you are brothers. And call no man your father on the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be you called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ” (Matthew 23:8–10). I felt very indignant at their actions, so I told them that what they did was not beneficial to brothers and sisters, and was the manifestation of resisting God. However, some of them neither paid any notice of my opinion nor accepted the restraints of the Lord’s words, and instead persisted in their old ways.
I Really Couldn’t Understand Why Our Church Became Like the Secular Society
Once, I went to the church for Christmas with an unbelieving friend. While a sister was preaching on the platform, my friend asked me: “Is she a believer?” Before I could say anything, a church member beside us replied: “Yes, she is a capable deacon in our church.” My friend said with irony: “Is such a person worthy of belief in the Lord? She’s changed her husband four or five times.” Hearing these words, I was very ashamed and felt disgusted with these hypocritical preachers from my heart. In fact, we believers in the Lord should be separated from the world, but in our church, not only the believers but also the deacons married wives, and were given in marriage, which made me feel that their living out was even worse than that of the unbelievers. How could people who served the Lord do such things? I really couldn’t figure it out.
In Confusion, I Could Only Earnestly Pray to the Lord
After returning home that day, I knelt down and prayed: “O Lord, I don’t know why the behaviors of us believers are so bad that even the unbeliever accused us. O Lord, You are not only loving and merciful, but You are also righteous. Then why haven’t the brothers and sisters been disciplined for their sins? O Lord, where are You? May You have mercy on them and change them.” After praying, I thought of my own performance: I didn’t commit major sins but never stopped committing small sins, and I had no patience or tolerance for others and also couldn’t love others as myself, so I was actually not better than my sisters and brothers. If we believers’ living out is even worse than that of unbelievers, then wouldn’t we be ridiculed by Satan? The more I thought about it, the more depressed I felt. I couldn’t help praying to the Lord in my heart: “O Lord, when will You return?”
I Got a Surprising Gain Through Studying the Bible Online
By chance, through Brother Zhang and Sister Wang, I got acquainted with Brother Chen, a preacher. When we were free, we often had meetings and studied the Bible online, and the topic we usually discussed was the return of the Lord. Brother Chen integrated the Bible and communicated the way for the Lord to return to us. The more I listened, the more I felt that his sermon was so enlightening. Later, as we talked about the conditions of the churches and the signs of the last days, I said emotionally: “Our church used to be pure; brothers and sisters were intimate to each other in spirit. But now they are only enthusiastic on the outside, and in fact all take advantage of each other, saying one thing and then doing another. Besides, in the church few believers pursue to be spiritual or fellowship how they practice the Lord’s words in their lives; most of them usually talk about their business and personal lives. Even if I spent three or four hours in having a meeting, I still got nothing; it’s just a waste of time, so I’d rather read the Bible at home myself.” After hearing my words, Brother Chen said: “Nowadays, the disasters of the world and the chaos in churches all fulfill the prophecies about the last days in the Bible; thus we can be certain that it is the end of the world, and that the coming of the Lord draws near. There is no Holy Spirit’s work in churches now.” When I heard this, I was shocked and said: “What? There is no Holy Spirit’s work in the churches? Really?” Then, no matter what Brother Chen said, I couldn’t calm down and had a little guardedness toward him.
Brother Chen seemed to have read my thoughts and said: “Actually, we all know that, nowadays most believers indulge in eating, drinking, and having fun, attend the meetings just as a formality, and have no true love for each other; even the pastors and elders have no fear of God, and their behaviors are as debauched and unrestrained as those of unbelievers; they tell lies, deceive others, and even sin with the opposite sex. From these common phenomena, we can see that there is no Holy Spirit’s work in churches, and such desolation exactly fulfills the biblical prophecy: ‘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. So two or three cities wandered to one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have you not returned to me’ (Amos 4:7–8). Every time God does a new stage of work, the Holy Spirit moves to the new age to perform His work, and those who remain in the old age feel their souls withered. Just like when the Lord Jesus came to work, the Holy Spirit no longer worked within the temple, so, regardless of what the people of that time did, they felt no discipline. Now it’s the last days; the Lord has returned to do the work of the Age of Kingdom and withdrawn the Holy Spirit’s work from the churches of the Age of Grace, which is like the rain is withheld before three months to the harvest.” Hearing these words, I thought: It turns out that my pastor and elders have already lost the work of the Holy Spirit. But we are different from them, for we have meetings regularly, make offerings actively, and support brothers and sisters passionately, so we still have the work of the Holy Spirit. After the gathering, I told Brother Zhang and Sister Wang in private: “I can accept Brother Chen’s fellowship which is in line with the Bible, but he said there is no Holy Spirit’s work in churches and that the Lord has already returned. Is this right? There are so many heresies today, and we must stay alert. If we take the wrong path, wouldn’t our many years of belief in God be in vain?” Sister Wang replied: “I think Brother Chen’s fellowship is in accord with the Bible; we should seek earnestly, pray more, and listen more to his fellowship to see whether it is the true way.”
It Turned Out That Our Church Had Lost the Work of the Holy Spirit
In the next meeting, I asked Brother Chen directly: “Brother Chen, I agree with you that most believers in churches have lost the Holy Spirit’s work, which is because they don’t practice the Lord’s words. However, there are still some true believers in God who make many offerings sincerely; before, when I relied on God to go court with my landlord, I had the Lord’s guidance as well. So I think only those who disobey the Lord’s words have lost the Holy Spirit’s work, but not all believers in the church. If the whole church has lost the work of the Holy Spirit, then what’s the meaning of our faith in the Lord?” Brother Chen said to me: “Sister, what you’ve tasted is the presence of the Holy Spirit, but not the work of the Holy Spirit; we should know the difference between the Holy Spirit’s work and the Holy Spirit’s maintenance. God’s words say: ‘Those who are possessed of the work of the Holy Spirit live out the love of God and the love of their brothers and sisters; they delight in the things that delight God and loathe the things that God loathes.’ ‘If it is the work of the Holy Spirit, people become ever more normal, and their humanity becomes ever more normal. People gain an increasing knowledge of their corrupt satanic disposition, and of the substance of man, and they also gain an ever greater longing for the truth. That is to say, the life of man grows and grows, and the corrupt disposition of man becomes more and more capable of change.’ From God’s words we can see that those who are possessed of the Holy Spirit’s work would be disciplined and reprimanded once they do something wrong, and that they hate sins, have growth in life, and have an increasing knowledge of God. In churches at present, only the minority truly believe in the Lord and pay attention to practicing the Lord’s words, and they are upheld by the Holy Spirit; as for those who merely follow the herd and attend the meetings just as a formality, God doesn’t work within them.” After hearing Brother Chen’s fellowship, I got a little understanding: Turns out that what I’ve experienced was only the maintenance of the Holy Spirit, but not the work of the Holy Spirit. It’s true! If the church had the work of the Holy Spirit, who would dare to engage in intrigue for money? Who would dare to exalt man higher than God? And who would dare to sin blatantly? So, has the Lord really returned and performed the new work?
My Conception Obstructed Me From Accepting God’s New Work
Afterward, Brother Chen sent us some God’s words online. After reading them, I felt these words have authority, which are beneficial to us and cannot be spoken by any human being. Nevertheless, I still had confusion in my mind: Is it OK that we don’t read the Bible but read these words at the meetings? If we Christians don’t read the Bible, could that even be called faith in the Lord? However, Brother Chen’s fellowship indeed conforms with the truth, and the Lord Jesus also predicted He would come again. If this is really the appearance and work of the Lord Jesus’ return and yet I don’t take the chance to seek and investigate, then I will regret for the rest of my life. After careful consideration, I decided to continue investigating with Brother Zhang and Sister Wang.
In the next meeting, I had a serious headache after I had just listened for a little while. To relieve the pain, I went to the kitchen for a change of air; still I didn’t feel well when coming back. Seeing that I couldn’t calm down for the headache, Brother Chen told me it was Satan’s disruption, and then he led us to pray and entrust this to God. After praying, I felt better and told them my confusion. Brother Chen fellowshiped: “In the Age of Kingdom, God has expressed millions of words, which have revealed all mysteries of the Bible. When we finish reading these words, we will understand the inside truth of the Bible. Just as when we go to high school, there is no meaning reading primary school textbooks; now is a new age, we should read God’s newest utterances.” Hearing his words, I understood much more clearly: Brother Chen not only hasn’t strayed from the Bible, but communicated the Bible very clearly. It seems that I should read more of God’s words in the new age. From then on, I actively attended gatherings of the Church of Almighty God.
One Sunday morning, a friend from my original church came to my house and asked me why I hadn’t been attending gatherings recently. I answered: “Recently I have online meetings with some brothers and sisters, for I had no enjoyment at the group meetings.” My friend, after hearing my words, warned me, “Is their preaching according to the Bible? There are many heresies now, if their preaching goes beyond the Bible, you must be careful.” While hearing that, I felt a little shaken; recalling that Brother Chen said today we need not read the Bible, I couldn’t help feeling puzzled: Is it correct to investigate this way?
Just as I was in a dither, Xiaojia (a sister who had meetings with me online) learned of my headache and came to my house to communicate with me about the truth regarding how to discern Satan’s disruption. She said: “Now is the critical time for investigating God’s work of the last days. What Satan really hates to see is that we all follow the footprints of God’s work and receive God’s guidance; therefore, it is doing everything in its power, exploiting family disharmony or physical discomfort to obstruct us from returning to God. Its goal is to make us doubt God’s work and give up investigating the true way, thereby losing God’s salvation. We should see through its scheme.” Subsequently, Xiaojia told me that her mother also experienced Satan’s disruption when she had just accepted the work of Almighty God. As I listened to her fellowship, I knew that wherever there is the true God’s work there will be Satan’s disturbance. In the past, as I was about to be baptized, Satan constantly caused disruptions for me when I was sleeping; as I made up my mind to follow the Lord, Satan then drew back. Today when I was going to look into the work of Almighty God, Satan came to disturb me again. So what Brother Chen preached might be the true way. At that moment, I felt my heart gradually brighten up, and said to Xiaojia: “No wonder I had a headache; it turns out that it was Satan’s disruption. Actually, the reason why Satan had the opportunity to disturb me is because my confusion hasn’t been resolved yet. I don’t understand why today we don’t read the Bible. As we know, all those who believe in the Lord read the Bible; if I stop reading it, wouldn’t my years of belief have been in vain? I always thought moving away from the Bible is not believing in God.”
Putting Aside My Own Conception, I Gained the Supply of Living Water of Life
When I told Xiaojia the confusion in my heart, she read two passages of God’s word to me: “How should the Bible be approached in the belief in God? This is a question of principle. … For many years, people’s traditional means of belief (that of Christianity, one of the world’s three major religions) has been to read the Bible; departure from the Bible is not a belief in the Lord, departure from the Bible is heterodoxy and heresy, and even when people read other books, the foundation of these books must be the explanation of the Bible. Which is to say, if you believe in the Lord, then you must read the Bible, and outside the Bible you must not worship any book that does not involve the Bible. If you do, then you are betraying God. … In this way, people worship the Bible as if it were God, as if it were their lifeblood, and losing it would be the same as losing their life. People see the Bible as being as high as God, and there are even those who see it as higher than God. If people are without the work of the Holy Spirit, if they cannot feel God, they can carry on living—but as soon as they lose the Bible, or lose the famous chapters and sayings from the Bible, then it is as if they have lost their life. … In people’s notions, they think that only the Bible can bring the work of the Holy Spirit; only in the Bible can they find the footsteps of God; only in the Bible are hidden the mysteries of God’s work; only the Bible—not other books or people—can clarify God’s everything and the entirety of His work; the Bible can bring the work of heaven to earth; and the Bible can both begin and conclude the ages. With these notions, people have no inclination to search for the work of the Holy Spirit. So, regardless of how much of a help the Bible was to people in the past, it has become an obstacle to God’s latest work. … The Bible has become an idol in people’s minds, it has become a puzzle in their brains, and they are simply incapable of believing that God can work outside of the Bible, they are incapable of believing that people can find God outside of the Bible, much less are they able to believe that God could depart from the Bible during the final work and start anew. This is unthinkable to people; they cannot believe it, and neither can they imagine it” (“Concerning the Bible (1)”).
“Many people believe that understanding and being able to interpret the Bible is the same as finding the true way—but in fact, are things really so simple? No one knows the reality of the Bible: that it is nothing more than a historical record of God’s work, and a testament to the previous two stages of God’s work, and that it offers you no understanding of the aims of God’s work. Everyone who has read the Bible knows that it documents the two stages of God’s work during the Age of Law and the Age of Grace. The Old Testament chronicles the history of Israel and Jehovah’s work from the time of creation until the end of the Age of Law. The New Testament records Jesus’ work on earth, which is in the Four Gospels, as well as the work of Paul—are these not historical records? Bringing up the things of the past today makes them history, and no matter how true or real they might be, they are still history—and history cannot address the present, for God does not look back on history! And so, if you only understand the Bible, and understand nothing of the work God intends to do today, and if you believe in God but do not seek the work of the Holy Spirit, then you do not understand what it means to seek God. If you read the Bible in order to study the history of Israel, to research the history of God’s creation of all the heavens and earth, then you do not believe in God. But today, since you believe in God, and pursue life, since you pursue the knowledge of God, and do not pursue dead letters and doctrines or an understanding of history, you must seek God’s will of today, and you must look for the direction of the Holy Spirit’s work” (“Concerning the Bible (4)”).
Then Xiaojia started fellowshiping: “Sister, from God’s words we can see that there is the principle of the truth in how the Bible should be approached. Now we all know that Almighty God’s word is the truth and has authority; however, when asked not to read the Bible but to read the words expressed by God in the Age of Kingdom, we feel uncomfortable and think all these years of our believing in the Lord would have been in vain. According to the revelation of Almighty God’s words, we can know that when we hold this notion, we see the Bible as higher than God, and that what we believe in is the Bible but not God. Could God’s work only be confined to the Bible? Let me ask you a question: Which came first, the Bible or God?” “Of course God came first.” I answered. Xiaojia continued, “Yes. We all know, before the Bible existed, God had created the world; when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, there was no Old Testament; when the Lord Jesus worked in the Age of Grace, there was also no New Testament, which wasn’t compiled until over 300 years AD. Therefore, God’s work came first, and then the Bible. The Lord Jesus once prophesied that He would come again, and the work of God in the last days couldn’t be written into the Bible in advance. It’s because that the Bible is merely a record of God’s previous work and prophecies about the last days. If we want to know what work God will do and how God will do His work in the last days, we must read the word of God expressed in the new age. Now we have investigated Almighty God’s work of the last days for a period of time, and have read some words of Almighty God; we all feel that these words have authority and can’t be spoken by any man, and that they are beneficial to us knowing the mysteries of the Bible and the work of God today, so we should keep up with the work of the Holy Spirit and read God’s newest utterances. In addition, it’s not denying God’s past work that we don’t read the Bible today; it’s just that God’s work has forged onward on the foundation of the work of the Age of Grace. The words of the Lord Jesus are only suited to the believers in that age, while in the last days, the new words expressed by Almighty God are more suitable for our present needs. Just as we don’t use the old calendar because the old year has passed, but not because it is wrong.” After hearing the sister’s fellowship, I completely understood: God’s work comes first, and then the Bible. Since I have read the words of Almighty God and known that God is now doing new work, I ought to continue forward and seek according to God’s present words. Only then can I closely follow the footsteps of the Lamb and be after God’s heart. Thinking back on my faith over 20 years, reading the Bible has been a habit for me, as well as a formality, so that I felt moving away from the Bible was not believing in God; turns out that I was wrong. If I continue holding on my conception, won’t I be eliminated by God’s work just as the Pharisees of the past? After this fellowship, my conception was completely resolved, and my heart felt much brighter.
Following the Footsteps of the Lamb, I Enjoyed God’s Great Blessing
In one gathering, a sister read these words of Almighty God: “Today, God has returned to the world to do His work. His first stop is the exemplar of dictatorial rulership: China, the staunch bastion of atheism. God has gained a group of people by His wisdom and power. During this period, He has been hunted by China’s ruling party by every means and subjected to great suffering, with no place to rest His head, unable to find shelter. Despite this, God still continues the work He intends to do: He utters His voice and spreads the gospel” (“God Presides Over the Fate of All Mankind”). When hearing that God has incarnated in China, uttering His voice and spreading the gospel, I said excitedly: “Oh, right. When I believed in the Lord, a preacher once told us: ‘In the past, the Westerners spread the gospel to us Easterners; in the future, we will then in turn spread the gospel to them, and even to Jerusalem. When the day comes, the burden we shoulder is the heaviest.’ At that time, I didn’t know what he meant and thought: Since the Westerners all believe in the Lord, what will we preach to them? Now I finally understand that what we will preach to them is the gospel of the Lord Jesus’ return—the work of Almighty God in the last days.” Having recognized all these, I was so excited. Today I can welcome the return of the Lord and follow the footsteps of the Lamp, live the church life with my brothers and sisters and enjoy God’s words every day, and then one day, I can expend myself for the sake of spreading the gospel; I am truly blessed!