Church in Desolation, Seeking a Way Out
In 1999, I was baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus, and I enthusiastically participated in all aspects of the church’s work. But gradually, I found that there were many practices in the church that were not in line with the Lord’s will. For example: The pastor’s nephew wanted to be a theologian, so the pastor, paying no heed to the church’s regulations for offering subsidies and the objections of multiple co-workers, overturned all the past regulations, and privately made the decision that all of his nephew’s tuition fees would be subsidized by the church. Also, when doing church work, co-workers scrambled for power and personal profit, and plotted against each other without harmonious cooperation. Some co-workers would even not attend the monthly co-worker meeting because they had something to do at home, and would stop doing their church work. These are but a few of many examples. Seeing all this, I was very disappointed. I felt that such a church would not be commended by the Lord, so I decided to stop my service in the church.
In the years that followed, I read the Bible, prayed, and also held a worldly job. Though I had some success in my job, I always felt that something was missing deep within my heart, and I felt especially empty when I was alone. Suddenly, one day, I realized that if I continued in this way I would end up belonging completely to the world, and would become someone with no relation to God. Therefore, I began to search for a way out. I invested my hope in Facebook, looking forward to meeting someone who could fill the emptiness in my heart. However, I also thought of what the pastors had declared in the church in the past: They didn’t allow us to associate with people from The Church of Almighty God, saying that their sermons deviated from the Bible. As such, I was especially cautious, and never added friends on Facebook lightly. In 2017, after much consideration, I added Sister Linda as a friend. We talked about one another’s gains in the church and our spiritual state, and also prayed for each other.
Hearing of the Lord’s Return for the First Time, Not Knowing What to Do
One day in July, 2018, Sister Linda told me that a brother whom she knew was investigating The Church of Almighty God, and he said that the Lord Jesus had returned as the incarnated Almighty God. Hearing this, I was quite shocked. I thought: “I painstakingly selected friends on Facebook just for the sake of not coming into contact with people from The Church of Almighty God. Who would have thought the sister would know a brother that is investigating the church? She even tried to persuade me to investigate together. No, I can’t do that. The pastors and elders always say that sermons of The Church of Almighty God have deviated from the Bible, and tell us believers not to associate with people from the church, if not we will be betraying the Lord.” Therefore, I rejected the sister.
The next day, Sister Linda called me again to investigate The Church of Almighty God. Because we had always mutually supported each other’s spiritual lives, and because I didn’t want to lose face, I agreed. But in my heart I was thinking, “Since it’s just listening to a sermon online, if I don’t like it I can just turn it off.” Because I listened with a guarded and resistant attitude, I took nothing away from the entire sermon. After the meeting, I said to everyone, “There’s no need to invite me to the next meeting.” and quickly went offline.
After signing off, I lay in my bed but couldn’t calm myself down. I thought, “The Lord’s return is an important matter. I shouldn’t blindly reject this news upon hearing it, but should seek and investigate. However, in the past the pastors and elders always said, ‘The Bible is the canon of Christianity, and is the ultimate authority. Our belief in God should mainly be based on the Bible and anything that goes beyond the Bible is heresy.’ The sermons of The Church of Almighty God have already gone beyond the Bible.” I didn’t sleep a wink that whole night. I was feeling conflicted, not knowing what to do to. In my confusion, I could only come before the Lord and pray, “Oh Lord! I don’t know what to do now. If I choose wrongly, then that means I’m betraying You. If I choose correctly, then I will have received Your blessing. Lord, I don’t know how to decide, I can only look up to You. Oh Lord, if You truly have returned as Almighty God, please lead and guide me.”
In the days that followed, I searched online for any related materials and information regarding The Church of Almighty God. When I saw some negative news, I comforted myself by saying, “My decision not to investigate was right.” However, I also thought to myself, “There are both positive and negative aspects to all things. How could there only be negative comments about The Church of Almighty God and not be a single positive one? No, I must figure this out.” Therefore, I decided to search for the website of The Church of Almighty God. Thinking of the hymn video Christ’s Kingdom Is a Warm Home, which was sent to me by Sister Linda in the past, I clicked on it to listen again. After listening, I found the hymn to be very heartwarming, and felt it was also quite helpful to me. I thus grew interested in The Church of Almighty God. After that, I kept finding videos to watch on the website of The Church of Almighty God. I found that they had a lot of videos and movies, and in great variety. There were choir videos, music videos, hymn videos, videos of recitations of God’s words, gospel movies, and experience and testimony videos among others. I would stay up watching videos into the wee hours nearly every day, sometimes becoming so absorbed that I’d forget to sleep entirely and would look up only to see the sun rising.
The movie that moved me the most was I Am a Good Person! This movie tells the story of a good person in the eyes of worldly people. However, she does not act or conduct herself in accordance with the principles of the truth. Instead, she lives according to satanic philosophies such as “Refrain from speaking out against observed iniquities,” “Stay quiet for self-protection and seek only to escape blame,” “Speak good words in harmony with others’ feelings and reason, as being frank annoys others,” “Keeping silent on the faults of good friends makes for a long and good friendship,” and so on. So this type of person is not a genuinely good person in the eyes of God, but is a selfish and deceitful yes-man. Indeed, we should live in accordance with the Lord’s words and approach things from the perspective of the truth — right is right, wrong is wrong. Just like what the Lord Jesus said, “But let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no” (Matthew 5:37). We must be upright and honest people. After seeing this movie, I had a profound realization: It occurred to me that I was also not a genuinely good person. In the past, I treated people nicely for the sake of keeping a foothold in society. I was constantly ingratiating and sycophantic to others and said things that were often contrary to my own convictions in order not to offend people. Much of what I did was not pleasing to God. I watched this movie five times, and each time my heart ached — I was moved and cried unceasingly.
“Watching all these movies produced by The Church of Almighty God these days, I’ve found these movies are actually really positive. The Church of Almighty God doesn’t seem heretical! If The Church of Almighty God was not a good church, how could it have produced so many movies that can supply people’s lives? Other denominations out there all claim themselves to be legitimate, and denominations of the Lord Jesus Christ, but none of them have made so many good movies that bear witness to God! If The Church of Almighty God did not come from God, who would be willing to spend that much effort, time, and money to make these movies, and provide them to people without compensation?” I again thought of how in the past the pastors and elders had said that many people from different denominations in China have accepted Almighty God’s work, and that The Church of the Almighty God has churches in many countries overseas. If this was not the work of God Himself, who would have the ability to do so? Just as Gamaliel said, “For if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nothing: But if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it; lest haply you be found even to fight against God” (Acts 5:38–39). However, there were still many questions left unanswered: “The book The Word Appears in the Flesh always appeared in the movies I watched. Why do believers in The Church of Almighty God not read the Bible but The Word Appears in the Flesh? Anything that departs from the Bible is heresy!” After pondering this question for a while, I told myself, “Given that there are people testifying that the Lord Jesus has returned, then regardless of how many doubts I may have, and even if there’s only a 1% chance that the news is true, I have to seek this glimmer of hope. I must not miss the chance to welcome the Lord. As the Lord Jesus said, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you’ (Matthew 7:7).”
Why the Viewpoint “Any Belief That Departs From the Bible Is a Heresy” Is Untenable
One day, I was scrolling through movies produced by The Church of Almighty God when a wonderful clip from the movie Does God Work According to the Bible? suddenly flashed before my eyes. I was immediately drawn to it and stopped scrolling. I thought, “In the past, pastors and elders always preached that ‘God works according to the Bible, believers in the Lord must read the Bible. Any belief that departs from the Bible is a heresy.’ I had also always held this belief, so when the pastor said that believers in Almighty God don’t read the Bible but another book, I became resistant to The Church of Almighty God, not willing to come into contact with them, much less listen to their sermons. However, this period of time, through watching various videos and movies produced by The Church of Almighty God, I’ve come to realize that The Church of Almighty God is actually quite positive and not heretical at all. Since this movie also addresses this point, I should see what exactly it is saying to gain a clear understanding of this issue.” Having come to this conclusion, I excitedly put on the movie, in which I saw Sister Wang from The Church of Almighty God question a pastor, “You just said that God wouldn’t depart from the Bible to do the work of salvation, and anything that does is heresy. This brings to mind a question for me: Which was first, the Bible, or God’s work?”
Hearing the sister ask this question, I muttered to myself, “Of course God’s work came first, and the Bible came after!”
“That’s right! In the beginning, Jehovah God created heaven and earth, all things. He carried out work such as destroying the world with the flood, and destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. When God did these things, did the Old Testament exist?” Sister Wang in the movie asked again.
“No. God is the Beginning, and the Creator of all things. At that time there was no written language, how could there be a Bible?” I silently answered in my heart.
Then, Sister Wang began to fellowship, “That’s right, when God was doing these things there really was no Bible. That is to say, God’s work came first, and only after that was it recorded in the Bible. And in the Age of Grace, when the Lord Jesus came to work there was no New Testament of the Bible. More than three hundred years AD, religious leaders from all over the world gathered in a conference and selected Four Gospels from the disciples’ records of the facts of the Lord Jesus’ work. They also added some of the letters the apostles wrote to the churches, as well as the Book of Revelation written by the disciple John. They compiled all of these things to make up the New Testament of the Bible. Brothers and sisters, from the process of the Bible becoming the book that it is, we can know that it is only a record of God’s past work. Without God’s work, we would not have the record of the Bible, which is to say that God would not work based on what is in the Bible. He is not restricted by the Bible because God just carries out His work of salvation according to His own plan and mankind’s needs. So, we cannot limit God’s work to just what is within the Bible, nor can we use the Bible to define His work. We particularly cannot say ‘Anything that departs from the Bible is a heresy,’ because God has the right to do His own work, and He has the right to depart from the Bible and do His work.”
Listening to Sister Wang’s fellowship I had a sudden epiphany. I thought, “Yes. God’s work came first and then the Bible. How had I not realized this very simple truth before? When the Lord Jesus came to work, the New Testament hadn’t been written. The New Testament was created three hundred years AD when religious leaders from various countries selected passages from the apostles’ and disciples’ written accounts and epistles to be compiled into a single book. Only then was the Bible completed. If God hadn’t done any work, how could there have been a Bible? What Sister Wang fellowshiped are all facts, all accord with reason and are irrefutable. In addition, God is the Lord of creation, how He works is His own business. We are just tiny created beings, so how are we qualified in any way to demand God to do as we say? If we make demands of God, aren’t we implying that we are greater than God? Isn’t this irrational?”
Thinking of this, I continued watching the movie. Sister Yang from The Church of Almighty God fellowshiped the following: “That’s right, if we say that ‘Anything that departs from the Bible is a heresy,’ then aren’t we condemning God’s work throughout the ages? Everyone knows that at that time, the work of the Lord Jesus was not based on the Old Testament. He preached the way of repentance, He healed the sick, cast out demons, did not observe the Sabbath, forgave others seventy times seven times, and more. None of these things appeared in the Old Testament, and they were even completely contradictory to the laws of the Old Testament. The Jewish priests, elders, and scribes of the time condemned the work of the Lord Jesus as heresy precisely because His work was not carried out according to the Old Testament. I remember that in Acts 24:14, Paul said, ‘But this I confess to you, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.’ Everyone think for a moment: If we were to weigh this based on our own perspectives, what Paul preached would have been heresy, so how could we not condemn the way of the Lord Jesus that we believe in today?”
Upon hearing this, I was shocked. I thought, “It’s true. The Lord Jesus did not work according to the Old Testament. He preached and worked on the Sabbath, healed the sick and cast out demons, none of which was in accord with the Old Testament. On the basis of these actions, the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees condemned the Lord Jesus, claiming that His work went beyond the law and was heretical. If I also believe that departing from the Bible is heresy, am I also not condemning the Lord Jesus’ work? How am I different from the Pharisees of that age? What’s more, if Almighty God really is the returned Lord, but I still cling to the notion that departing from the Bible is heresy, then does that not make me a modern-day Pharisee? This is displeasing to God!” Thinking of all this, I became afraid. I no longer dared to stubbornly cling to my own views, and I continued watching the movie.
Finding the Answer
I continued watching the movie, only to see Sister Wang fellowship, “As for the issue we’ve discussed today, please allow us to read some of Almighty God’s words together. ‘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 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 they not historical records?’ (‘Concerning the Bible (4)’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“‘The Bible is a historical book, and if you had eaten and drunk the Old Testament during the Age of Grace — if you had put into practice what was required in the time of the Old Testament during the Age of Grace — Jesus would have rejected you, and condemned you; if you had applied the Old Testament to the work of Jesus, you would have been a Pharisee. … During the time of Jesus, Jesus led the Jews and all those who followed Him according to the Holy Spirit’s work in Him at the time. He didn’t take the Bible as the basis of what He did, but spoke according to His work; He paid no heed to what the Bible said, nor did He search in the Bible for a path to lead His followers. Right from when He began to work, He spread the way of repentance — a word of which there was absolutely no mention in the prophecies of the Old Testament. Not only did He not act according to the Bible, but He also led a new path, and did new work. Never did He refer to the Bible when He preached. During the Age of Law, no one had ever been able to perform His miracles of healing the sick and casting out demons. So, too, were His work, His teachings, and the authority and power of His words beyond any man during the Age of Law. Jesus simply did His newer work, and even though many people condemned Him using the Bible — and even used the Old Testament to crucify Him — His work surpassed the Old Testament; if this were not so, why did people nail Him to the cross? Was it not because it said nothing in the Old Testament of His teaching, and His ability to heal the sick and cast out demons? His work was in order to lead a new path, it was not to deliberately pick a fight against the Bible, or to deliberately dispense with the Old Testament. He simply came to perform His ministry, to bring the new work to those who yearned for and sought Him. He didn’t come to explain the Old Testament or uphold its work. His work was not in order to allow the Age of Law to continue developing, for His work gave no consideration to whether it had the Bible as its base; Jesus simply came to do the work that He ought to do. … After all, which is greater: God or the Bible? Why must God’s work be according to the Bible? Could it be that God has no right to exceed the Bible? Can God not depart from the Bible and do other work? Why did Jesus and His disciples not keep the Sabbath? If He were to keep the Sabbath and practice according to the commandments of the Old Testament, why did Jesus not keep the Sabbath after He came, but instead washed feet, covered head, broke bread, and drank wine? Isn’t this all absent from the commandments of the Old Testament? If Jesus honored the Old Testament, why did He defy these doctrines? You should know which came first, God or the Bible!’” (‘Concerning the Bible (1)’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Sister Wang then gave fellowship, saying, “Through God’s words, we have understood that for many years, we have all conflated God with the Bible. We have all thought that all believers in God must believe in the Bible, and all those who depart from the Bible cannot be called believers, that it is heresy. The truth is that the Bible only encompasses a true record of God’s first two stages of work. That is, the Bible is a true testimony of God’s two stages of work of guiding and redeeming mankind after He created heaven and earth and all things, and mankind. It does not represent all of God’s work for saving mankind. The words of God that are recorded in the Bible are too limited! They are just a tiny fraction of the expression of His life disposition, and they do not represent all of it! God’s work is not based on the Bible, and it does not refer to the Bible, and He particularly does not find His way from within the Bible to lead His followers. God’s work is always moving forward. He opens up a new age, and He does new work. That is, He indicates a new path for mankind, bestows even higher truths upon us, and allows us to gain greater salvation from Him! That is why He will not lead mankind based on His old work. He will not work based on the Bible because He is not merely the Lord of the Sabbath, but He is also the Lord of the Bible! He fully has the right to step outside the bounds of the Bible and to do new work according to His own plan and the current needs of mankind! God’s work in the new age and His work in the old ages recorded in the Bible couldn’t possibly be the same. So saying that ‘Departing from the Bible is heresy’ does not stand at all!”
After watching this, I was ashamed. I thought, “Yes. God’s work came first and then the Bible. The Bible is only a testimony of God’s two previous stages of work. This fellowship conforms to the facts. In the Age of Grace, the work the Lord Jesus did was different from the work Jehovah God did during the time of the Old Testament. Isn’t this telling us that God is the Lord of creation, and has every right to go beyond the Bible to perform His work? Why hadn’t this simple question ever occurred to me before? Now it seems that the notion ‘departing from the Bible is heresy’ does not hold up. I’m so foolish and ignorant! In the past, I blindly listened to the words of pastors and elders, I foolishly followed along without discernment. I also blindly clung to my own notions, I delimited God to the Bible, and replaced God with the Bible. As a result, I almost lost the opportunity to welcome the Lord’s return and very nearly became a modern-day Pharisee that resists God. Thank God for not abandoning me, and for allowing me to understand this aspect of the truth, so that I was able to cast aside my mistaken views.”
Following God’s Footsteps, Obtaining the Supply of the Living Water of Life
One day, I was watching the movie Come Out of the Bible, and the fellowship of Sister Wang in the movie drew me in. “There’s no eternal life in the Bible. Even though this doesn’t accord with our own notions, this is a fact that cannot be denied because when the Lord Jesus rebuked the Pharisees long ago, He warned people: ‘Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me. And you will not come to Me, that you might have life’ (John 5:39–40). The Lord Jesus clearly indicated that there is no eternal life in the Bible, and if people want to gain eternal life by relying on the Bible, that is wrong! The Bible just bears witness to God, but if people want to gain the truth and life in their belief in God, just relying on the Bible is not enough. Gaining the truth, and gaining life must come from Christ!”
After hearing this fellowship, I was totally convinced. I thought, “It turns out that the Lord Jesus has told us long ago that the Bible does not contain eternal life, it is only a testimony of God. It can’t give human beings eternal life. Only God is the truth, the way, and the life, and only God can give us eternal life. Why did I not gain illumination when I read the Bible in the past?”
I continued to watch and saw a preacher say, “Let’s look at another passage from Almighty God’s words! ‘Since there is a higher way, why study that low, outdated way? Since there are newer utterances, and newer work, why live amid old historical records? The new utterances can provide for you, which proves that this is the new work; the old records can’t sate you, or satisfy your current needs, which proves that they are history, and not the work of the here and now. The highest way is the newest work, and with the new work, no matter how high the way of the past, it is still the history of people’s reflections, and no matter its value as reference, it is still the old way. Even though it is recorded in the ‘holy book,’ the old way is history; even though there is no record of it in the ‘holy book,’ the new way is of the here and now. This way can save you, and this way can change you, for this is the work of the Holy Spirit’” (“Concerning the Bible (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Then, she fellowshiped, “Although God’s work in the last days was only prophesied in the Bible, and there were no actual records of it, it is based on mankind’s actual needs and it is work that is deepened and made loftier based on the foundation of the Bible. Just like when the Lord Jesus came, although He didn’t work according to the Old Testament, He did work according to mankind’s requirements and God’s own plan. He completed a stage of the work of redemption on the foundation of the work of the law, that is, He completed a new, loftier stage of work on the foundation of the Old Testament. In that stage of work, He didn’t revoke the old law, but perfected it. Likewise, in the last days today, God is doing another stage of newer, loftier work on the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption based on mankind’s needs, based on God’s management plan, uttering so many words that can purify and save mankind. He is also revealing all the mysteries of God’s management plan. These are things that God never said in the Age of Law or in the Age of Grace. They are also the scroll, the seven seals that God is opening up in the last days.
“This fulfills the prophecy in the Book of Revelation: ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches’ (Revelation 2:7). It is also written in Revelation 5:1–5: ‘And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders said to me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.’ These prophecies only existed after the Lord Jesus had completed His work. It goes without saying that these prophecies are certainly the things that God is going to achieve, as well as the work of salvation that God is going to do in the last days. Now, God has become flesh and has come to utter words. He has done a stage of the work of judgment and purification, and has uttered many words that can allow people to be saved. These words are not in the Bible, but are words that are outside of the Bible. These enriching words of life are the way of life God has bestowed upon mankind in the last days, and they are the only path for man’s salvation. If we refuse to accept them, we will never be able to be truly watered by the living water of God’s life, and we will never be able to gain the truth or life from God.”
Having watched the movie to this point, I understood that if one wants to gain life, they have to come out of the Bible and follow God’s footsteps. Only then can one gain full salvation from God. I also understood that God’s work always progresses forward. In the Age of Law, Jehovah God issued laws to guide mankind’s life on earth, teaching man how to worship God; in the Age of Grace, God personally incarnated, and on the basis of the work of the law, He did a stage of redemptive work; in the last days, Almighty God is doing the work of judgment, it is a newer and loftier work built on the foundation of God’s work in the Age of Law and the Age of Grace. The Word Appears in the Flesh that Almighty God has expressed, does not deny the Bible, rather, it is the way of eternal life that God bestows upon man in the last days. Now, The Church of Almighty God is testifying that the Lord Jesus has returned, only if I keep up with God’s new work can I obtain the supply of the living water of life. If I cling to the Bible and am not able to keep up with God’s new work, I will be ravished by famine and ultimately eliminated by God.
Immediately, I contacted brothers and sisters from The Church of Almighty God, and began living life in the church. Thinking back to the past, because I was deceived by the mistaken viewpoints the pastors and elders had instilled in me, I delimited God’s words and work to the Bible, thinking that departing from the Bible is heresy. When I heard brothers and sisters from The Church of Almighty God testify that the Lord Jesus has returned, not only did I not investigate, I even blindly heeded the words of the pastors and elders, clung to my notions, refused to accept God’s work and became a person that believes in God while opposing Him. How foolish and blind I was! It was God’s guidance that allowed me to hear His voice through watching The Church of Almighty God’s movies and allowed me to understand the truth, put aside my notions, and welcome the Lord’s appearance. This is all God’s grace and blessings. Thanks be to God for showing me mercy and saving me! Amen!
Source from: find the shepherd