By Mingzhi, United States
After my arrival in America, what impressed me most were many towering churches and neat rows of European-style houses. Many kinds of flowers were planted in the yard of these houses. Many small ceramic animals were placed on small lawns, and they were lifelike and cute.
I heard a friend say that the main reason why America is especially rich and powerful is that American worship God and have His blessings. “IN GOD WE TRUST” was even printed on their money. I was drawn to my friend’s narration deeply, and I felt that it was a great thing toand have God’s blessings. Therefore, I went to his church and believed in the Lord after him.
At first, I was especially enthusiastic. I seriously read the Bible and attended gatherings. Besides, I often watched Christian videos and listened to sermons online. Gradually, I understood that thehad not only atoned for mankind by being crucified but given them greater blessings and promises—to and to receive eternal life. Pondering God’s love, I was often moved to tears. So, I worked harder in my pursuit, strictly observed the Lord’s teachings and acted according to His words.
However, unknowingly, our church changed. The pastor’s sermons didn’t have enlightenment; it often happened that the workers fought both openly and in secret, excluded each other and formed cliques; many believers gambled at cards, drank and quarreled with others. And I couldn’t follow the Lord’s teachings, either. When my children didn’t obey me, I couldn’t help scolding them angrily; when encountering something not to my liking, I would complain to God. These things made me feel troubled. Moreover, our pastor often reminded us: “We are in the last days and the crucial moment when the Lord returns and brings us to the kingdom of heaven, so we must be alert. In addition, now there are many people preaching false ways outside our church, so never ever listen to them or come into contact with strangers.” At his plausible words, I felt very nervous, so that even though I was very dry in my spirit, I didn’t dare to get in touch with other churches, much less easily talk to strangers. In this way, I remained in my church with lots of doubts because I was afraid of missing the opportunity to be raptured by the Lord.
One day, I saw these scriptures: “Be you holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). I suddenly realized: My pastor often said, “As long as we pray, worship and contribute money every week, we can enter into the kingdom of heaven.” However, entering the kingdom of heaven wasn’t as simple as he said it to be. Rather, we need to attain purification. Judging from the current situation of the church and my spiritual condition of repeatedly committing sins and confessing them, I haven’t been purified at all. I was anxious and confused by this. Therefore, I asked my pastor about the way of no longer committing sins and confessing them. But he said: “You will attain purification and enter into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord returns, as long as you remain in the church, listen to the sermons, and repent.” Later, someone introduced some online famous pastors to me, and advised me to listen to the sermons about entering into the kingdom of heaven. At first, I felt their sermons seemed to make some sense. However, after pondering carefully, I felt their words were ambiguous and gave no path. Instead, the more I listened, the more confused I was.
One day in December 2017, I met a sister on the street. We hit it right off. I found the sister’s views and opinions of some things were really insightful and were beyond my thoughts. Thereupon, I told her about my doubts that I had had for many years, and then the sister invited me to join their Bible study group so that we could discuss about these questions together. I was happy to accept her invitation.
In New York in December, the warm sun was shining on the earth, bringing warmth to those people who traveled in cold winter. Bathed in the sunshine, I felt especially released and happy. At the appointed time, I came to the Bible study group with the sister and met several brothers and sisters there. They each gave a warm introduction about their own backgrounds and experiences of faith in the Lord. Gradually, I became one of them and told them what confused me: “My pastor said that, as long as we pray, repent and contribute money in the church, we can be raptured into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord returns. What do you think of this?”
At that time, a brother suggested that before starting the formal fellowship we first pray to God and let God lead our gatherings and fellowships. Seeing their attitudes of piety and hearts of revering God, I felt released somewhat in my heart.
After praying, Brother Liu, a preacher, said: “As believers in the Lord, we should listen to His words and act according to His words. In this way, we cannot possibly be wrong. As to who may enter into the kingdom of heaven, the Lord Jesus had made it very clear. Let’s read these words together: ‘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). God’s word also says, ‘Be you holy; for I am holy’ (1 Peter 1:16). From God’s words, we can understand that we must attain purification and followif we want to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Apparently, the pastor’s saying doesn’t conform with the criterion of entering into the kingdom of heaven that the Lord Jesus set. Just think: Do these people who pray, repent and contribute money free from the bonds of sin? Are they those who do God’s will? We all know: The people in the churches widely pray, repent and contribute money, but these people can’t still extricate themselves from living in the conditions of confessing sins and committing them. This is an undeniable fact. Perhaps someone says that God will forgive all sins of man as long as we confess sins and repent. In fact, the Lord Jesus’ forgiveness of our sins only means that we are not of sin. But our satanic corrupt dispositions, namely, arrogance, selfishness, deceit, evil, and so on, still remain inside us. These things are deeper and more tenacious than sin. If these corrupt dispositions and satanic nature haven’t been solved, we cannot help but commit sins or resist God. 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). The Bible also says: ‘… holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14). All people who pray, repent and kept contributing money still have sinful nature. Even though they seem reverent from the outside, their hearts are filled with filth, and they often commit sins and resist God. This is a fact. So, the opinion “as long as we stay in the church, pray to the Lord and repent, we needn’t resolve our sinful nature and can enter into the kingdom of heaven” is only our human notion and imagination and isn’t in accordance with the truth or God’s word.”
“What the brother fellowshiped conforms with the Bible and God’s will. God is holy, so His kingdom must also want people without filth. How are we fit to enter into God’s kingdom who commit sins and confess them every day? Through the fellowship I also understand this: The reason why we live in sin all the time is that we have sinful nature; as long as we resolve it, we can attain purification. Then, how can we resolve our sinful nature and free ourselves from sin?” At this thought, I said: “Brother Liu, I can understand and agree with your fellowship. The pastor’s opinion indeed has no biblical basis and is unbelievable. But there is still a question: How can we free ourselves from sin and attain purification?”
The brother nodded, and opened his lectures with various pictures on his computer, saying: “If we want to get rid of sin, we must understand several points: First, the source of sin; second, whether we can get rid of sin by ourselves or not; third, how God works to resolve our sins when we cannot extricate ourselves from living in sin.”
I was very interested in these questions that the brother just raised. The fellowship of integrating the words, pictures, and chapters of the Bible had a good visual effect. I never had so lively and vivid a meeting, so all that he fellowshiped was very refreshing to me. He clicked with his mouse on the picture of Adam and Eve eating the fruits of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden, and said: “Adam and Eve didn’t listen to God’s words, and they were tempted by the devil to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so that sin entered man’s heart. This was the source of sin. From then on, man became deceitful, vicious, greedy, evil and arrogant, denying God and being enemies of God. Under such circumstances, God set forth more than six hundred commandments through Moses. When one committed sins, he must offer corresponding sacrifices according to the laws. Only in this way could his sins be forgiven, that is to say, God demanded that man resolved the problem of sin through offering sacrifices. This was the way to resolve the sin during the Old Testament age. At the end of the Age of Law, mankind committed more and more sins, so that they couldn’t offer qualified sin offerings according to the laws and all mankind were facing death. Under the circumstances, the Lord Jesus was incarnated to be among people, willingly assumed the sins of man by being nailed to cross, and finally redeemed all of mankind. At that time, man would no longer be condemned by laws and man’s sin would be forgiven as long as he accepted the work of the Lord Jesus and prayed in the name of the Lord Jesus in all things. This was the true meaning of sin being forgiven, and was also a way to resolve the condemnation of man by laws in the New Testament era. But, it only meant that man’s sins were pardoned, while it didn’t mean that man would no longer commit sin. Judging from ourselves, we still often tell lies and deceive others for our interests, fame, and status; when problems arise, we use sophistry, even shirk responsibility and get other people in trouble; when confronted with natural and man-made disasters, or trials and tribulations, we complained against God, and judged and resisted God. Although we believed in God, we often made deals with Him: We do our work and run the course to enter the kingdom of heaven and enjoy eternal blessings, and in our hearts, we neither love God nor fear God; after having positions, we will exalt and bear witness to ourselves, or form gangs and bands, establish our own independent kingdoms and so on. The fact that we can still commit sins and resist God shows that we still belong to Satan, are enemies of God, and will definitely be condemned and punished by Him. Just as the Bible says: ‘For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries’ (Hebrews 10:26-27). But God didn’t hope that the mankind created by Him was destroyed in this way. So the Lord Jesus had long ago prophesied that He would definitely return and save us in the last days.
“Then, how would God save us from sin? We continued to read the several verses: ‘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: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come’ (John 16: 12-13). ‘Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth’ (John 17:17). ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the middle of the paradise of God’ (Revelation 2:7). ‘And I saw another angel fly in the middle of heaven, having the everlastingto preach to them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters’ (Revelation 14:6-7). These verses and prophecies in Revelation tell us an important message—the truth can rid us of our corrupt disposition and cleanse us. These words ‘what the Spirit says to the churches’ ‘having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth’ ‘his judgment’ tell us that, when the Lord Jesus returns, there will be another stage of work and He will speak His word, express the truth to carry out the work of judgment beginning with God’s house, and use the truth to eliminate the root of man’s sin and to carry out the work of chastising, judging, purifying and changing man. Let’s read several passages: ‘In the last days, uses a variety of truths to teach man, expose the essence of man, and dissect his words and deeds. 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 the normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the essence of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, those 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 just a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes it over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth that man does not possess at all. Only methods of this kind are deemed 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 substance 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 substance 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.’
“‘By means of this work of judgment and chastisement, man will fully come to know the filthy and corrupt substance within his own self, and he will be able to change completely and become clean. Only in this way can man become worthy to return before the throne of God. All the work done this day is so that man can be made clean and be changed; through judgment and chastisement by the word, as well as through refinement, man can purge away his corruption and be made pure. Rather than deeming this stage of work to be that of salvation, it would be more apt to say it is the work of purification.’”
After reading these passages, I felt the words were unusual, having authority and showing us how God saved us from sin.
The brother continued to say: “From these two passages, we can see that in the last days, God judges and chastises corrupt mankind through expressing the truth. All the words God judges man with are the expression of His righteous disposition and of what He has and is, and they are the words that can be man’s life. For corrupt mankind, these words of truth are judgment, condemnation, chastisement, searching, and purification. God uses the words to purify the satanic disposition within corrupt mankind, and to resolve their nature and substance of resisting God. In the judgment work of the last days, Christ of the last days expresses truth to reveal all the mysteries of God’s six-thousand-year management plan, clearly reveal the purpose of God’s three-stage work of salvation and the substance of each stage of work, and especially point out the path for man to transform in disposition and attain purification. Meanwhile, He thoroughly reveals man’s nature and substance corrupted by Satan, the truth of his corruption, and the root of his sin. Then man understands that his nature is the nature of Satan, and sees that he is living in the likeness of Satan the devil, so he truly repents, willingly accepts God’s judgment, chastisement, trials and refinement, and pursues the truth and the transformation of his disposition according to God’s words’ guidance. And he gradually frees himself from the controls and bondage of his satanic corrupt disposition, thoroughly forsakes Satan and returns to God. In this way, man’s sinful nature is resolved at the root. What’s more, by experiencing and practicing God’s word, man unknowingly understands many truths, such as what is being saved, what is salvation, what is doing God’s will, what is following God, what is following man, whom God saves, and whom God eliminates, and so on. Most importantly, in the judgment and chastisement of God’s word, man practically experiences that God’s righteous disposition is intolerant of offense. Because of knowing God, man comes to fear God and shun evil and live by God’s word. As man understands the truth and knows God more deeply, he’s more obedient to God and has more reality of practicing the truth. So man unknowingly gets rid of sin completely and becomes cleansed. This result can never be achieved by the Lord’s believers who refuse to accept God’s work of the last days. So, only by accepting the judgment and chastisement of God’s word in the last days can man understand the truth and know God, thoroughly break free from the influence of Satan, cast off his satanic disposition and attain purification.”
At his fellowship, I felt clear and bright in my heart. I got answers to the questions that made me confused all the time, and I had the path to getting rid of sin. Therefore I was more grateful that God arranged meeting the sister for me. This encounter made me find the church that has truth, and I had the hope of getting rid of sin and attaining purification. All of this was God’s mercy and grace.
In the subsequent gatherings, the brother fellowshiped different aspects of truth to us, such as incarnation, three stages of work, how to hear God’s voice, how to distinguish between true and false churches and so on. I understood God’s six-thousand-year management plan of saving man and the purpose and meaning of God creating man and saving man. Their fellowships over the past few days made me gain many harvests and satisfied my spirit. Finally, the brother bore witness to God’s name. At that time, I suddenly realized: It turned out that the Lord Jesus had already returned, and that He was Almighty God who was rumored and condemned by CCP, pastors and elders. I was very excited. God’s work had expanded vigorously throughout the universe, and there were all kinds of testimonies, such as movies, videos, gospel choir, hymns, experience testimonies, and so on. However, owing to being deceived by pastors, I didn’t dare to investigate, and almost lost the opportunity to be raptured.
I said to my brothers and sisters: “In the beginning, I was afraid of meeting the people of Eastern Lightning. Over these last few days of seeking and fellowshiping, I know that Eastern Lightning is exactly the true way. I’m so in danger that I almost lose the opportunity to enter into the kingdom of heaven because of being deceived by pastors. Thank God! I’m willing to accept the work of Almighty God in the last days and follow the footsteps of the Lamb.”
Now, it has been almost six months since I accepted the work of Almighty God in the last days. I attend gatherings, enjoy God’s word and fulfill the duty of a creation with my brothers and sisters every day. When some things fall upon me, I will know my corruptions through reading God’s words. So I lead a full and happy life every day.