133. I, the Foremost of Sinners, Finally Fell Before God’s Word
Shuangyashan City, Heilongjiang Province
Paul once said, “I am the foremost of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). I today feel very much the same, because I was once an “activist” who resisted Almighty God’s end-time new work. For as long as six years, I had frenziedly resisted and condemned God’s new work and never made any investigation, shutting the door on the salvation coming upon me over and over again. … Looking back to the past, I feel extremely regretful. No words can express the feeling of indebtedness in my heart.
I was formerly a preacher of the Slain Church. In the first month of the lunar year of 1993, I turned to the Lord through grace. Just two years later, I became a well-known preacher in the neighborhood. At that time, I was busy visiting the churches in the daytime and reading the Bible and writing sermons in the nighttime, often far into the night. I felt that believing in the Lord was extremely meaningful, and I was especially enriched and had great enjoyment in my heart.
One day in early May 1996, two sisters who preached Almighty God’s end-time work came to our church. We fellowshipped about many verses of the Bible together. Later, a sister said, “God has come now and has done a new work of salvation on earth.” On hearing that, I immediately got heated. Before the sister finished her words, I cut her short angrily, saying, “Nonsense! That’s sheer nonsense. Who told you that God had come? Before the Lord comes, we must be slain first. Only when we are resurrected after lying in the street for three and a half days can the Lord come. We haven’t been slain yet, so how could the Lord have come? I think you have accepted a heresy. Stop there. Get out now!” So, I “invited” them out fiercely. From then on, I started my evil deeds of sharply resisting Almighty God’s new work time and time again.
In the fall of 1997, a sister of our church came with a book called The Lightning Coming from the East, and asked me what to do with it. I said to her sternly, “Burn it up quickly lest they take it to deceive others.” In the first half of 1998, those from “the Eastern Lightning” came many times to preach Almighty God’s end-time gospel to me, but every time I refused it ruthlessly. In October of the same year, when I was very zealous in supporting the churches for the Lord, two senior co-workers in the head church in Shuangyashan City were divided. Moreover, each of them on the platform declared himself to be the David hunted by Saul and disparaged the other side as one of the flesh and the Saul occupied by the devil. They fought with each other fiercely. Seeing that, I felt quite uneasy. I often pondered, “We are the true way and the church in Philadelphia in the last days. How could this kind of thing have happened?” When I was still perplexed by it, I heard that quite a lot of people in many of our churches had been “taken captive” by “the Eastern Lightning.” I thought to myself, “This is just as the saying goes—if a house is divided against itself, outsiders will take advantage of it.”
In 1999, Brother Zhao Yiyuan, our “great prophet” in Jinan City, Shandong Province, came to Shuangyashan City to personally settle the conflict between the two senior co-workers. He even held a three-day conference especially for that, but it did not help. Later, their conflict grew more and more acute and, in the end, they each led away a group of their own supporters and set up their own groups. Together with the group who remained, they caused the church in Shuangyashan to be in the situation of tripartite confrontation. Because of that, most of the brothers and sisters became weak and fell away one after another. I, of course, was no exception. However, as a key co-worker in the church, I could not simply console my own wounded heart without caring about the whole church’s situation. So I forced myself to go on doing some superficial work.
Later, at a co-worker meeting, our leader specially spoke to us something about how to guard against “the Eastern Lightning”: “Two thousand people in the area of Taian, Shandong Province, have been taken captive by ‘the Eastern Lightning.’ You must be very careful and must not take it lightly. ‘The Eastern Lightning’ is an underworld gang. They are extremely vicious and have guns and knives. They preach that God has come. If you don’t accept what they preach, they will break your legs or gouge out your eyes. And they only accept good-looking young people and not old ones. You should never contact them. Once you go in, you won’t be able to withdraw. …” Those words made my hair stand on end. I felt much hatred towards “the Eastern Lightning” in my heart, and firmly believed that it was a cult, a heresy. I thought to myself, “You even preach that God has come. This has gone too far. It’s completely against the prophecies in the Bible. I’ll be dead set against you even if I have to die.” At the meeting, the leader distributed to each of us a booklet on twenty-one ways to guard against “the Eastern Lightning.” When the meeting was over, I, a deflated balloon, was pumped up again because of being entrusted with the great task of “protecting the flock.” I made a decision to myself that I must protect the churches properly. I rushed to seal all the churches without a stop, telling the brothers and sisters not to receive strangers in private. To prevent them from accepting “the Eastern Lightning,” I even invented some false testimonies myself on the platform to frighten them. I said, “In Lingdong District, an over 50 year old sister was shot dead by them with a silencer pistol because she didn’t accept the way they preached.” The brothers and sisters were all shocked at that, with their eyes wide open. Seeing that my words had taken effect, I continued, “From now on, no one is allowed to receive strangers. If anyone comes to preach that God has come, drive him out immediately. If he doesn’t leave, beat him with a stick. If he still doesn’t leave, just call the police. Don’t call them brothers or sisters, much less receive them, lest you share in their evil deeds. If any strangers come to attend our meetings, you must have them curse ‘the Eastern Lightning’ before accepting them.” After hearing my fellowship, the brothers and sisters all became alert and energetic. Seeing that, I was very pleased in my heart. I thought to myself, “The brothers and sisters have finally become enthusiastic.” After that, I wildly blasphemed “the Eastern Lightning” in every church and worked out some measures on how to guard against “the Eastern Lightning.” But in the end, things went contrary to my wishes. The brothers and sisters not only did not become stronger after my much preaching, but on the contrary, many of them became weak, and those who came to the meetings were all listless. What puzzled me more was that two co-workers, who had pursued very zealously before, left God and returned to the world to run business. Faced with such a condition of the church, I was at a loss what to do. So I came before the Lord and called, “O Lord Jesus! What’s this all about? Do you not take care of us anymore? I’m guarding the church and protecting the flock for you with all my heart and all my strength, but how come I cannot feel your presence? O Lord! I don’t know how I should serve you so that I can see the beautiful scene of the church’s revival again. O Lord! How I wish I can be as strong as before. And I am sure that this is what you wish for. O Lord! What should I do? How should I serve you? …” Because of that matter, I had no appetite for food or drink and lost my sleep every night, feeling anxious and very unpeaceful in my heart. In desperation, I took a train in the early spring of 2000 to the home of a co-worker whom I had looked up to, and sought her advice on how to solve the desolation of the churches. She said, “Now churches everywhere are like that. We can only maintain our service in this way. Our preaching has reached the top and we can do nothing but wait to offer ourselves to be slain at the time when the temple is purified and be resurrected and taken up by the Lord to heaven.” At these words, I felt even more perplexed and did not know what to do. Thus, I returned home with disappointment and resignation. After that, I collapsed completely….
By the end of August 2002, I had grown weak to the extent that I had long since become a nominal preacher and was in no mood to attend to the church affairs at all. At that time, a church needed me to go to support it, because there was Macedonian call there. In my heart I did not feel like going, but at the thought of the Lord’s commission to me and the grace he had given to me, I felt that I should not be ungrateful. So I went to that church with a co-worker. When we arrived at the meeting home, I saw that two out-of-town brothers were there. Then I began to fellowship with them. A brother fellowshipped from Genesis to Revelation, and I felt that I had received great supply in my spirit after listening. However, when he said that God had come and done a new work, I could not agree with him anymore. I stood up and shouted, “Impossible! If the Lord is to come, he will come according to our seven-year chart of the end time! Revelation 11:8-11 clearly says that only after the ‘two witnesses’ lie in the street and are resurrected in three and a half days can the Lord come. We haven’t seen such a scene yet, so how could the Lord have come now?” The brother said calmly with a smile, “Sister, we all know that Revelation is a book of prophecy. About ‘prophecy,’ 2 Peter 1:20-21 says: ‘Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.’ Here ‘interpreted’ and ‘spoke’ are different. ‘Spoke’ means that men were carried along by the Holy Spirit and spoke according to the original intention of God without mixing their interpretations. For example, the prophecies that the prophets Isaiah and Daniel spoke were all the words that they spoke from God when they were carried along by the Holy Spirit, and they did not add their interpretations. The Bible also says, ‘…for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’ (cf. Revelation 19:10). When ‘the spirit’ is mentioned, it refers to the inner meaning of God’s word. This tells us that the prophecies in the Bible all have their spirit and are not what we can understand. We human beings cannot fathom the mind of the Holy Spirit at all. For example, Jeremiah 31:15 says: ‘Thus said the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.’ This is a prophecy. If we interpret this prophecy according to our own mind, we can only interpret it as that Rachel’s children were no more, so she was mourning and weeping. We don’t know for what reason her children were no more, much less know how old her children were when they were no more. So, no matter how we interpret it, we can’t make its meaning clear. Only after it is fulfilled can we know. This prophecy is fulfilled in Matthew 2:16: ‘Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.’ If we interpret it according to our own mind, we will never be able to tell that this prophecy referred to the matter of King Herod’s killing of the boys because of Jesus’ birth. So, prophecy is not to be interpreted by men according to their own mind, and only after it is fulfilled can men know what it is all about. All sects and denominations around the world are interpreting the book of Revelation. One denomination has one interpretation, one denomination one chart. According to whose interpretation do you think God shall come? If he came according to ours, wouldn’t others’ fall through? Aren’t they also believers in Jesus? If he came according to theirs, what about ours? God is the Creator, and he cannot be restricted by man’s notions in doing his work. He has come according to his own plan, because God is a God of all mankind, and he wants to save all mankind created by him rather than one particular denomination alone. When men all see the fact that God has accomplished, they will all know how ridiculous their interpretations of the verses prophesying the Lord’s coming are. And they will understand the real meaning of the word in Revelation Chapter 5: Only the slain Lamb can break the seven seals and open the scroll; except the Lamb no one can open the little scroll.” The brother’s fellowship was reasonable and well-founded. After listening, I was stunned. I thought to myself, “That’s right! Only the slain Lamb can break the seven seals and open the scroll. Only God Godself can unlock the mysteries. Our ‘great prophet’ Zhao is only a created being and a believer in God like us. How could he break the seven seals and open the little scroll?” At this time, I had been somewhat convinced in my heart, but outwardly I remained unconvinced and said, “Then, on what basis do you say that God has come? No one knows about the day of God’s coming. How do you know?” The brother said, “It’s true that we human beings don’t know the day of God’s coming. But when God starts to do his work after his coming, men can know that God has already come. Matthew 25:6 says: ‘And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him.’ ‘Here’s the bridegroom’ mentioned here means that when God has come and started his work, men will know. In Acts 8:26-34, it is mentioned that Philip preached Jesus to the eunuch. They were both under the law at first, but how come Philip knew about Jesus while the eunuch did not? That is because Philip saw the fulfillment of the prophecies. Today, we say that God has come, because we have seen the fulfillment of the prophecies in the Bible concerning ‘the Lord’s coming the second time to do the work of unifying, reaping, chastisement, and judgment.’ That’s why we say God has come.” Then, he took out the book of God’s word and read these words: “I was once called Jehovah and was also once called Messiah by people, and people also once called me the Savior Jesus out of love and esteem for me. Today, I am no longer Jehovah or Jesus whom people knew before but the God who has returned in the end time and who will end the age and the God Godself who arises in the ends of the earth, laden with all my disposition and full of authority, honor, and glory. People have never contacted me nor known me or known about my disposition. From the creation of the world until now, no one has ever seen me. This is the God who appears to people in the end time and yet is hidden among them, living among them true and real, like a burning sun and like a flaming fire, full of power and full of authority. No man and no thing will not be judged in my word. Under the burning of fire, no man and no thing will not be purified. In the end, all nations will be blessed because of my word and will also be crushed because of my word, so that all people in the end time will see that I am the Return of the Savior and I am the Almighty God who conquers all mankind, and that all people will see that I was once man’s sin offering, but in the end time I become the fire of the burning sun that burns all things and the Sun of righteousness that reveals all things. This is my work in the end time.” These words with authority and power shocked my heart. I could not help thinking to myself, “Could ‘the Eastern Lightning’ I have been resisting be the work done by the true God? If so, haven’t I become a blind evil servant?” I felt somewhat afraid, so I stood up, staggered into the inner room, and knelt down on the floor. Choking with sobs, I prayed to the Lord, “O Lord! If you have come back, may you inspire me and let me understand your work. I do not want to lead the brothers and sisters astray and become a sinner in the end. May you give me a cool head and a spirit of distinguishing between right and wrong. As long as it’s your work, I’m willing to drop myself and bring the brothers and sisters before you. …” After the prayer, I felt much calmer but was still not assured in my heart. So, the brother took me to attend a meeting. At the meeting home, the brothers and sisters were all very warm to me, but soon my eyes settled on a person—a silver-haired old sister. My heart was struck by a thought: “Hasn’t our leader said that ‘the Eastern Lightning’ doesn’t accept old people?” The fact I saw with my own eyes completely overturned the rumor I had heard. At this time, I could not help stepping forward to take hold of that old sister’s hands, and my tears dropped like pearls with a broken string. What could I say? … During the meeting, the brothers and sisters all opened their hearts and fellowshipped about the true experiences of their going “from resistance to obedience, from persecution to acceptance, from notion to knowledge, and from rejection to love” toward the incarnated God. They talked about God’s great selfless love and man’s corruptions. Moreover, they all made resolutions to expend for God. Even that over seventy year old sister prayed with weeping and tears and expressed her willingness to offer up everything to God. In them, I found the first love. During the meeting, I saw the scene of the Holy Spirit’s working. I did not see them behave like gangsters, but instead, I found they were all true believers in God. There, I tasted a life on earth as if in heaven. At this time, I choked with sobs. A feeling of remorse welled up inside me. I bitterly hated myself for being foolish and blind—anxiously expecting God’s coming yet shutting the door on him indiscriminately when he came. And I even made up lies to entrap the brothers and sisters and caused them to reject the true God. Wasn’t I today exactly the reappearing of the Pharisees two thousand years ago? The Pharisees had obstinately kept the prophecies in the Scripture and become evil servants who resisted God. Didn’t I today also hold on to the letters of the prophecies and repeat the Pharisees’ mistake of resisting and blaspheming God? “O God! According to my sins, I deserve to be torn to shreds and dismembered by five horses. However, you have not burned me up with your fire of wrath and have not destroyed me, the foremost of sinners guilty beyond forgiveness. Instead, you stretch out your hand and save me again. O God! Your love is so great that I deeply feel that I am unworthy of it. I’m willing to offer up my whole body and whole heart to you and let you use me as you wish. I’ll do my utmost to spread your end-time gospel to repay your great love.” From then on, I actively cooperated with God and brought all of over one hundred brothers and sisters in my church back to God’s family.
Dear brothers and sisters, dear spiritual compatriots, this time when I was at the crossroads of life and death, it was purely God’s love that guided me to choose the way of life and to step onto the bright path of being purified and perfected by God. I sincerely hope that all the brothers and sisters who are still wavering in confusion can have a humble and seeking heart and give God a chance to work. Then, you will surely “cross over from death to life,” because only Almighty God can bestow eternal life upon us.