Brushing Away the Fog
I was an ordinary believer of a house church. Around 2000, our church began to become desolate, and we felt no enjoyment in the meetings. But our leaders restricted us from going out to listen to other messages and receiving strangers. And they often said to us, “The Lord Jesus is our only Savior, and only the way of the Lord Jesus is the true way. Any way that does not preach the Lord Jesus is false. Now the Eastern Lightning followers are preaching that the Lord Jesus has come back, who is called Almighty God. This is an impossible thing. You should have discernment so that you will not be deceived and betray the Lord Jesus. Whoever is found to have listened to their preaching and been deceived will be expelled from the church at once. …” These words made us live in fear every day. No one dared to contact any strangers or go out to listen to other messages.
In September 2003, Sister Zhao of our church, who pursued actively, invited me to investigate the words of Almighty God along with her, because she felt there was light in Almighty God’s words after hearing them. At first I was afraid of being deceived, but then I thought: There is no light in the preaching of our leaders, and I have felt no presence of the Lord for a long time when praying. Is it that I have been forsaken by God and haven’t kept up with God’s work as Sister Zhao said? If it continues, I’m afraid I will miss the Lord’s return. Sister Zhao is a person who pursues the Lord. Since she dares to investigate, I should also actively seek the footprints of the Lord, and can’t passively wait anymore. So I let my guard down and went with Sister Zhao to the Church of Almighty God to listen to the preaching. When Sister Chen fellowshiped about the words expressed by Almighty God, I felt her fellowship was novel and practical, and that Almighty God’s words were indeed the truth. Sister Chen told us, “God’s work of saving mankind is divided into three stages. The Lord Jesus’ work of redeeming man is the second stage. In the last days Almighty God expresses His word to judge and purify people—this is the third stage of God’s work, newer and higher work upon the foundation of the Lord Jesus’s work of redemption. The stage of work done by the Lord Jesus was the redemption of mankind from the cross. As long as people accepted the name Jesus and confessed and repented before Him, they would be forgiven of their sins. However, man’s sinful nature is still deep-rooted within and is not eradicated, so they often sin in the day only to confess in the evening, bound by sins, and they are not qualified to enter into God’s kingdom. Man has to accept the work of judgment and chastisement that God does in the last days in order to be saved and enter into the kingdom of heaven. Only by doing so can man get rid of the sinful nature and corrupt disposition, be purified and transformed, and be saved by God and enter into the kingdom of heaven.” After hearing her testimony, Sister Zhao and I both felt that Almighty God was the returned Lord Jesus.
Afterward, we took Sister Chen to preach the good news of the Lord’s return to Sister Zhu of our church. She also wanted to investigate after hearing it. But due to the deception and disturbance of our leaders, when Sister Chen went to testify to her again, Sister Zhu said our leaders didn’t allow her to accept the kingdom gospel and rejected Sister Chen, and also didn’t allow us to go to her home again. We had a premonition that our church leaders would come to disturb us too.
One day after lunch, Sister Zhao, Sister Chen, and I were reading God’s words at my home, when suddenly we heard sharp knocks on the door, and then someone called my name. I went to the door to listen carefully. The outside was noisy. The church leaders and co-workers had come. My heart rose into my throat. I thought that they must have come to disturb me and stop me believing in Almighty God. Being of small stature and afraid of their disturbance, I didn’t dare to open the door. At the time, Sister Chen calmed us, saying that it was Satan’s disturbance and that we should not be afraid, and she asked us to pray to Almighty God for protecting us from being deceived by our leaders. After a while, seeing that we didn’t open the door, they shouted from behind our house, “Sister Yang, Sister Zhao, you have received so much grace from the Lord; how can you betray the Lord and follow them? That’s not the true way. Turn back quickly, or else you will be abandoned by the Lord!” At least four or five people were shouting, and the voice was more and more urgent. I began to be a little frightened. I thought, “The leaders and co-workers all came to persuade us, placing so much importance on the matter; could it be that the way is actually wrong? It seems that I shouldn’t accept the way.” I couldn’t help guarding against Sister Chen. “But the word of Almighty God sounds like the voice of the Lord Jesus. It states God’s work so clearly, and conforms with the Bible. In addition, after listening to the sister’s fellowship about Almighty God’s words, I felt the peace and joy in the heart and had strength in believing in God. This should be the confirmation of the work of the Holy Spirit, and the way should be the true way. If I don’t accept it and can’t be saved in the future, what will happen to me?” My mind was in turmoil. When I noticed that Sister Chen was still kneeling on the floor and praying for us with sincerity, I recalled the days I got along with her. She was very simple and honest, and full of love for us, unlike what the leaders and co-workers said. Then my guard against her died away. The leaders and co-workers kept shouting for about two or three hours. As we still gave no response, they left with sighs of despair.
In the evening, Sister Chen, my husband, and I finished dinner in haste. We were ready to read God’s words together, when Sister Liu, a host sister of my former church, came to disturb us together with three sisters. At the sight of Sister Chen, Sister Liu yelled at her, “Where are you from? Why are you stealing sheep in our church?” Sister Chen said calmly, “Sister, we all know that only the Lord is the Shepherd and that all believers in God are the Lord’s sheep, not of someone or some church. Besides, I am here preaching God’s kingdom gospel and bringing God’s sheep back to God, which is completely after the Lord’s heart. Sister, let us sit down and have some fellowship together.” Sister Liu gave an oblique glare at Sister Chen, refused to fellowship, and peremptorily said to my husband, “Drive this woman away quickly; don’t let her deceive your wife. …” She was so rude and impolite, and my husband ignored her. So she tried to persuade me, “Don’t listen to them. What we believe is the true way. What they preach is not the true way and is misleading people….” Seeing her so wild, I felt very disgusted with her. I didn’t want to talk to her, and she turned to my husband. She urged him to drive away Sister Chen. My husband said angrily to her, “My wife didn’t understand much truth after years of belief with you. The sister from the Church of Almighty God spoke about God’s work so clearly. But you always say what they preach is a false way. Then you might as well argue with the sister now. If what you say has a basis and is in accord with the Bible, making us convinced, we’ll drive her away at once; if you can’t speak clearly, then you go away at once, and don’t come to disturb us again!” As soon as he said that, Sister Liu turned red and left in dejection with those sisters.
After that, when I was ready to follow Almighty God with full confidence, Sister Hu in our former church, who was on close terms with us, began to stay away from us after knowing that the leaders and co-workers had rejected us. What’s more, she slanderously said everywhere that we had been deceived into believing in the Eastern Lightning, betraying the Lord Jesus, and so on. As a result, all our villagers stayed away from us—even the unbelievers ignored us, not to mention the brothers and sisters in our former church. They all despised, rejected, and slandered us. In the beginning, by praying to God we were not troubled, and we tried to preach the kingdom gospel to those deceived brothers and sisters. But because of the leaders’ slander and smear against the Church of Almighty God, everywhere we went, the brothers and sisters there said that we were ungrateful to betray the Lord to follow a false way and asked us to turn back quickly. Time after time of frustrations and failures made Sister Zhao and me feel much pressure, and we were distressed and weak. Once again I thought of the words of the leaders, “The Lord Jesus is our only Savior, and only the way of the Lord Jesus is the true way. Any way that departs from the Lord Jesus is false….” And my heart kept being troubled by that.
Later, Sister Chen learned that as we could not distinguish between the true way and the false way, we became weak after being disturbed by our former church leaders. So she and another two sisters came and gave us fellowship. They told us their experiences of how they accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days and what they reaped from it. A young sister told her story. When she had just accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days, she went with another sister of the Church of Almighty God to preach the gospel to the brothers and sisters in her former church, but their leaders prevented them investigating the true way and called the police. That sister was taken away and detained for three days and nights by the police. The young sister and her brothers and sisters who had just accepted Almighty God’s work prayed to God together for the rescue of that sister. In the end, under the leadership of Almighty God, they rescued the sister from the jail in time. Meanwhile, they all saw clearly that the religious leaders were hypocritical Pharisees in essence. Under the banner of serving God, they prevented the brothers and sisters from examining God’s work of the last days and even delivered the gospel preachers into the hand of the CCP government. Their essence is one of hating the truth and resisting God. Through this, the brothers and sisters became more certain that the way of Almighty God is the true way. Then Sister Zhao and I talked about our uncertainty about this way because of the deception and disturbance of our former church leaders. They encouraged and comforted us with great faith and read God’s words to us so that we could see through Satan’s schemes. Almighty God said: “In every step of work that God does within people, externally it appears to be interactions between people, as if born of human arrangements, or from human interference. But behind the scenes, every step of work, and everything that happens, is a wager made by Satan before God, and requires people to stand firm in their testimony to God. … Behind every step that God does in you is Satan’s wager with God—behind it all is a battle” (“Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After reading these words, a sister fellowshiped that behind the disturbance of the religious leaders was Satan’s scheme and that we were required to have discernment and bear testimony to God. Hearing that, my heart gradually lit up, and I thought that was true. When we recognized God’s voice after listening to the words of Almighty God, and were willing to accept Almighty God’s work of the last days, Satan would not let us go. It wouldn’t allow us to escape from its dark influence to receive the way of life that God bestowed upon humanity, so it carried out schemes to disrupt and impair God’s work. Externally, it appeared that our former leaders were disturbing us and the worldly people were rejecting us, but in actual fact, behind it was a spiritual battle. As Satan was not happy that we accepted the true way, it used our leaders to misinterpret the Bible and start rumors and slanders to threaten and frighten us, attempting to make us remain under its control and stray from God’s salvation. I should not fall prey to Satan’s scheme—be deceived by the leaders.
Then the other sister fellowshiped, “In the last days Almighty God expressed all the truths for man to be saved, and by these truths we can tell whether the way of Almighty God is the true way or not. Almighty God said: ‘What is the most basic principle in seeking the true way? You have to look at whether or not there is the work of the Holy Spirit, whether or not these words are the expression of the truth, who is testified to, and what it can bring you. Distinguishing between the true way and the false way requires several aspects of basic knowledge, the most fundamental of which is to tell whether or not there is the work of the Holy Spirit. For the substance of man’s belief in God is the belief in the Spirit of God, and even his belief in God incarnate is because this flesh is the embodiment of the Spirit of God, which means that such belief is still the belief in the Spirit. There are differences between the Spirit and the flesh, but because this flesh comes from the Spirit, and is the Word become flesh, thus what man believes in is still the inherent substance of God. And so, in distinguishing whether or not it is the true way, above all you must look at whether or not there is the work of the Holy Spirit, after which you must look at whether or not there is the truth in this way. This truth is the life disposition of normal humanity, which is to say, that which was required of man when God created him in the beginning, namely, all of normal humanity (including human sense, insight, wisdom, and the basic knowledge of being man). That is, you need to look at whether or not this way takes man into a life of normal humanity, whether or not the truth that is spoken of is required according to the reality of normal humanity, whether or not this truth is practical and real, and whether or not it is most timely. If there is truth, then it is able to take man into normal and real experiences; man, furthermore, becomes ever more normal, man’s human sense becomes ever more complete, man’s life in the flesh and the spiritual life become ever more orderly, and man’s emotions become ever more normal. This is the second principle. There is one other principle, which is whether or not man has an increasing knowledge of God, whether or not experiencing such work and truth can inspire a love of God in him, and bring him ever closer to God. In this can be measured whether or not it is the true way. Most fundamental is whether this way is realistic rather than supernatural, and whether or not it is able to provide the life of man. If it conforms to these principles, the conclusion can be drawn that this way is the true way.’ (‘Only Those Who Know God and His Work Can Satisfy God’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh).”
She continued, “The most crucial thing in distinguishing between the true way and the false way is to seek and investigate whether or not there is the work of the Holy Spirit and the expression of the truth in this way, whether or not it can bring man the path of practice, whether or not it can cause man to have an increasing knowledge of God, and whether or not experiencing such work can inspire man’s love for God and bring man ever closer to God. If it conforms to these principles, then the conclusion can be drawn that it is the true way. This is just as when the Lord Jesus came to do His work; the followers of the Lord were full of the presence of the Holy Spirit. They could heal the sick and drive out demons in the name of the Lord, and could give everything up to spend for the Lord. Although they were persecuted by the Judaism and the Roman government, they testified for the Lord Jesus with great faith, and their work was effective. The Lord Jesus did the work of the redemption of mankind, and expressed the truth to make people confess and repent before Him so that they could be forgiven of their sins. He was full of grace and blessings. And He taught people that they should love each other and love their enemies, that blessed are the poor in spirit, are those that do hunger and thirst after righteousness, and are those that are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, and so forth. These truths met the needs of people in that age and provided the life of man. From the work and word of the Lord Jesus, people gained a true knowledge of God’s lovingkindness and mercy, got closer to God, and had the heart to love and satisfy God. Therefore, the way of the Lord Jesus is the true way. But God’s work is always progressing forward. The redemptive work of the Lord Jesus forgave man’s sins, but it didn’t forgive man’s sinful nature. As a result, man can still sin and resist God. Only if man totally breaks free from the bondage of sins and attains purification and transformation and is saved will they be qualified to be taken to a wonderful destination by God. In the last days, God becomes flesh again—descends secretly as the Son of man, brings the Age of Grace to an end and ushers in the Age of Kingdom, and does a stage of new work of judging and purifying people with the word. The work of Almighty God is the present work of God, and the truth expressed by Almighty God is our actual needs in life. Through reading the words of Almighty God, our brothers and sisters receive much enlightenment and illumination from the Holy Spirit, understand the truth and mysteries that the saints of ages past did not understand, and are nourished in the spirit. We are no longer hungry and thirsty or having no way to walk on, but instead, we have found the right path of human life, had a wonderful hope, and recovered our former faith and love. Experiencing the work of Almighty God has made us have more and more knowledge of God and inspired us to love and satisfy God, and we all can care for God’s heart and actively perform our duties.”
Their fellowship set my heart free little by little. Looking back on our contact with Sister Chen and other sisters of the Church of Almighty God during that period of time, from them I truly saw: The way of Almighty God is full of the work of the Holy Spirit. There is enlightenment and reality in their preaching, and they have a loving heart and have evangelized effectively. Although the leaders in our former church frenziedly oppose Almighty God and hinder the believers from accepting God’s kingdom gospel, the sisters in the Church of Almighty God do not lose faith and still help us with a loving heart time after time. No matter how the leaders and believers in our former church treat them, either refuse or persecute them, they are willing to endure the sufferings and persevere in preaching the kingdom gospel of Almighty God to satisfy God’s heart, so that more people will be fully convinced that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus and accept His work of the last days. If not for the work of the Holy Spirit, who could have such great love and faith by himself? In contrast, in our former church, the leaders and co-workers are not in one mind. They engage in jealousy and strife and form cliques. Such situation shows that there has been no work of the Holy Spirit in our former church. Besides, during these days, through listening to Almighty God’s words, I have received the supply of the truth and known what the true way is, and I feel assured and released in my heart. But in our former church, there is no work of the Holy Spirit. The leaders can’t speak about anything clearly, and they can only make rules to restrain the believers and spread rumors and fallacies to deceive and control the believers, so that they are bound and feel no peace and joy. The truth expressed by Almighty God allows us to be able to distinguish between the true way and the false way, and we find a way to walk upon after hearing it. All this shows that the way of Almighty God is the true way and that this is the work done by the returned Lord Jesus.
Afterward, the sisters fellowshiped with us about another passage of words of Almighty God: “The church is being built and Satan is trying its utmost to demolish it. It wants to demolish My construction by any means possible. … You must be awake and waiting at every moment, and you must come before Me more. You must recognize the various plots and cunning schemes of Satan, know the spirit, know people and be able to discern all kinds of people, matters and things. … When the church enters its construction phase, a battle of the saints against Satan ensues. Satan’s various hideous features are set before you; do you stop and backslide, or do you stand up and walk onward, relying on Me? Thoroughly expose Satan’s corrupt and ugly features, spare no feelings and show no mercy! Fight Satan to the death!” (“The Seventeenth Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Through their fellowship I understood: Almighty God is doing the work of complete salvation of man in the last days, but Satan is trying to tear down God’s church at all times. It especially uses the leaders and co-workers in the religion to trap and control the believers and uses the wicked and unbelievers to interfere, vainly attempting to demolish God’s work of the last days. Meanwhile, it tries to entrap people into resisting God together with it, so that in the end they will be destroyed by God because of offending God’s disposition. At this crucial moment of the spiritual battle, only if one reads more words of God and equips himself with the truth can he have discernment so as not to be deceived by the religious leaders and lose God’s salvation.
At the time, my fear and worry all disappeared and I could not help shedding grateful tears. In the depths of my heart I was sure that the way of Almighty God is the true way and I gave thanks to Almighty God for taking us back to His house. Sister Zhao also understood what the sisters fellowshiped. We together made a resolution: In the future, no matter how our former leaders disturb and reject us, we will follow Almighty God—Christ of the last days—to the very end and fulfill our duty as a creature in the church.
Later, the leaders of our former church came again to disturb us, but because Sister Zhao and I saw through Satan’s scheme, saw clearly their substance of the Pharisees, and showed our firm determination to follow Almighty God, they failed in humiliation, and after that they never came to disturb us again. From then on, we began to live the church life regularly, read God’s words and sang hymns to praise God together with our brothers and sisters. I felt the happiness and sweetness that I had never felt since I believed in the Lord. Encouraged by God’s love, Sister Zhao and I worked together to preach the kingdom gospel to several sisters in our former church who pursued actively. We carried burdens to testify to them about God’s three stages of work and told them our experiences. Before long, moved by the Holy Spirit, two of them saw through the scheme of the leaders, broke free from the bondage of these religious Pharisees, and accepted the kingdom gospel of Almighty God. When I saw them living the church life and reading God’s words together and performing their duty as a creature, and their face brimming with happy smile every day, I once again felt the happiness brought by the work of the Holy Spirit and the great love of God’s salvation for man. We all saw the reappearance of the Redeemer, as if breaking through the mist and seeing the appearance of true light. I made up my mind: I will not fail to live up to God’s expectations for me. I will continue to strive to build a good foundation on the true way and bring more people to God to fulfill my duty adequately and satisfy God. I will pursue the truth and live out the likeness of humanity to bear testimony to God, so that God will gain glory forever, and Satan will suffer a humiliating defeat forever! May all the glory be to Almighty God!