By Jiahui, the United States
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; 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 theOnline
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 thecame 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, the love of their brothers and sisters, and delight in the things that delight God, and loathe the things that God loathes.’ ‘If it is the work of the Holy Spirit, man becomes ever more normal, and his humanity becomes ever more normal. Man has an increasing knowledge of his disposition, which has been corrupted by Satan, and of the essence of man, and he has 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 capable of more and more changes.’ 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?