33. God Is a Consuming Fire and Does Not Tolerate Man’s Offense
—the change of a person who frenziedly resisted Almighty God’s work because of her blind trust in the leaders’ words
Nanyang City, Henan Province
“Xia X, female, aged 33, a junior leader of the Praise Church. In spring 1999, when God’s work of the last days was preached to her, she didn’t accept it but slandered and blasphemed Almighty God everywhere with her upper leaders and hindered the believers under her from having contact with the gospel preachers. In May of the same year, her husband was crushed to death by a car. In September, her son had his leg broken. In July 2000, Xia’s house (a wing-room) was on fire without any reason, and everything in the room was burned up. That her family encountered the disasters one after another shows that the wicked shall be filled with mischief.” (from Typical Cases of Punishment for Resisting Almighty God)
These are indeed things that happened to my family. Reading this case, I cried bitterly, and my remorse couldn’t be put into words. All these were the retributions I deserved for resisting God on account of my lack of discernment. Thank God for giving me an opportunity today to atone for my sins and make public the details of my resistance against God. I hope that brothers and sisters will see God’s righteous disposition that cannot tolerate man’s offense from the case of my disobedience, take warning from it, and stop doing evil and turn from the wrong way and return to God’s family sooner.
I followed the Lord Jesus because of illness in 1989. In early 1998, our senior leader Wang X warned us, “There is a sect called the ‘Eastern Lightning,’ and it is a false way from a false Christ. They have abandoned the Bible. You should never listen to their messages. Otherwise, you will gain nothing.” Hearing this, I was determined that I must hold on to the Lord’s name and stand testimony in any case. As the leader’s words were engraved in my mind, I stepped onto the way of antichrists and suffered many mischiefs.
In fall 1998, a sister preached Almighty God’s gospel to me three times in succession, but I refused it every time without sparing her feeling, because the “teachings” of the leader were deeply engraved in my mind. Every time the sister came, I deceived her by saying, “You should go to preach to our leaders. If they accept your way, I will accept. If they don’t accept, I won’t either.”
The day before the Spring Festival in 1999, two sisters in my village invited me to go listen to the testimony of God’s gospel of the last days with them. As I didn’t want to hurt their feelings, I went with them. There, a sister first fellowshipped about God’s first two stages of work, the work of the Age of Law and the work of the Age of Grace. Then, she said that God has done the third stage of His work, the work of the Age of Kingdom, and that as the age is different, God’s name is also changed, but the three stages of work are done by one God in different ages, and the purpose is to save corrupt mankind thoroughly. The more I listened, the more I felt a thirst for it, and I felt very brightened in my heart. But when she fellowshipped that God had returned in the flesh as a female, doubts crowded into my mind, and I didn’t want to hear any more. The sister kept explaining to me, but I was already full of notions and couldn’t believe it. At that time, I thought of the words of Leader Wang, “That is a false way and is the work of an evil spirit. Once you read their book, your family will have troubles…” So I began to feel afraid. “Even Leader Wang said it was a false way. She can’t possibly have no discernment! What’s more, even if it is the true way, I can’t believe in it. Leader Wang thinks highly of me all along, and I believed in the Lord under her in the beginning. If now I don’t follow her, I will let her down, and others will curse me behind my back.” Thinking of this, I didn’t continue to listen. After I returned home, I always felt sorry for Leader Wang. I thought, “I’d better confess that I had been out to listen to their message. Leader Wang knows more than me after all. I’ll ask her to discern whether it is true or false.” So, right after the Spring Festival, I told her what the sister had fellowshipped about. She said very angrily, “Those preachers of the new work just split hairs over letters and interpret the Bible out of context. They do things craftily. At first they will be kind to you, and then they will abet you in doing evil. …” The next day, Leader Wang preached in the co-workers’ meeting, “That’s an evil spirit. He has a captivating spirit which can control you and obsess you.” The more I listened, the more I felt frightened. And finally I was “taken captive” by her words.
A few days later, Leader Wang sent me a “letter of exhortation.” I thought that it must be written by a leader superior to her, who knew more about the Bible and was more capable of discerning whether a way is true or false. So I hastily opened it and saw these words, “The ‘Eastern Lightning’ is a mafia. Its followers must have sex with its leaders…” After reading the letter, I deeply drew in my breath with a hiss. I felt frightened and yet was thankful that I wasn’t taken in. Then, as if getting a precious treasure, I took the letter with me and went to the two sisters who had just accepted God’s new work, and I said to them, “You’re deceived. It’s a mafia. You will be forced to have sex with its leaders some day. Get out of it quickly. Read this letter and you will be more clear.” They believed my words undoubtedly and said then that they would no longer believe in it. More than ten brothers and sisters were also disturbed away by me at that time. From then on, I began to frenziedly seal off the church by spreading the words in the letter and told the brothers and sisters not to receive strangers. I also said to them, “These people are very wicked. They fool around all day and do evil things. We should go together when we go out lest we be harmed by them secretly…” Just like this, I gradually fell into the abyss of evil…
After a few days, my co-workers Zhang X and his wife came to me and said, “We heard that some followers of the ‘Eastern Lightning’ are preaching to our believers at XX’s…” Before they finished, I said, “Let’s go. I’ll lead the way.” With that, I hurried toward the place of testimony…
As I was very zealous in resisting God like this, Leader Wang thought more highly of me. The number of the churches entrusted to my charge increased from one to eight. I was really overwhelmed by this unexpected favor. To repay the leader’s “favor,” I even more took sealing off the churches and slandering and condemning God’s new work as my first important thing. In a co-workers’ meeting on March 18, 1999, Wang gave an order, “After you go back, ask all the brothers and sisters to pray to curse the followers of the ‘Eastern Lightning,’ asking the Lord to repay them soon. We can kneel in front of or behind their houses and curse them or make curses while walking around their villages. Anyhow, there must be believers cursing them at every hour of the day.” That night, I led several sisters to curse the believers in Almighty God, and we did that for more than ten days. I was full of confidence and just waited for the day when the Lord repaid them with punishment. At that time, a song was sung in the church, which goes, “Lord, I earnestly pray to You to discipline me in these years. If I commit sins, please chasten me so that I won’t act at my will…” I also often prayed these lyrics with tears in my personal prayers. But little did I know that I was just “heading toward” the state described in the lyrics.
On May 4, 1999, my husband was unexpectedly crushed to death by a car. The sad news struck me like a bolt from the blue, and I crumpled to the floor at once and almost fainted away. I cried heartrendingly, “My Lord, my Abba, Father, please save him and don’t let it be a fact. Please don’t take him away… O Lord, You will not have the heart to treat me this way. Yesterday a few dozen people just had a meeting at my home. I’ve been serving You with all my heart and soul. Why do You allow such a great misfortune to befall me? Did I commit any offense against You? What’s this all about?” Afterward, Leader Zhang said to me, “This is a trial to you from the Lord. God has a good purpose in taking away his life. Just think about Job…” I thought, “Perhaps he who has a great faith has to suffer a greater trial.” Later, other co-workers said to me, “It’s all because you went to listen to the message of the ‘Eastern Lightning.’ That’s the work of an evil spirit. Whoever listens to it will have troubles.” Hearing their words, I believed more firmly that it was God’s trial to me. So, my husband’s death not only didn’t wake me up, but on the contrary, I sealed off the churches more frenziedly. I continued to curse the believers in Almighty God, and every month I prayed with fasting for a day according to the leader’s order. Just in this way, I fell deeper and deeper into evil.
One evening in September 1999, I had just come back from a meeting when my neighbor said to me at my door, “Your son had his leg broken and has been sent to hospital.” Hearing the news, I was seized with panic, fearing that my son’s life might also be taken away. So, I went to the hospital hurriedly. When I saw that my son fainted from pain, I was torn with grief and almost in despair, and I even wanted to die to end everything… I cried sorrowfully, “O Lord, what offense did I commit? Why do You treat me this way? Is it that I killed someone in a past life and have to suffer the retribution myself? Today I just fasted for a day. Why did it happen to me? …” Leader Wang and Leader Zhang came to comfort me again, and they still said that it was a trial from the Lord and He had a good purpose in it. At that time, the radio was just broadcasting that Pastor Zhang was still spreading the gospel for the Lord out of town though his son fell into a well and was drowned. So his “faith” became a lesson to me. In my opinion, they would never be wrong. Although God guided me within at that time, “Is it because I resisted the way the sister preached and offended the true God that all these things befell me?”, I still had so blind a trust in the leaders, the “great figures.” As a result, Almighty God’s wrath came upon my family again.
At the end of July 2002, one of my wing-rooms was on fire without any reason and everything in it was burned up. Facing the repeated “trials,” I lost hope and was overwhelmed with grief. I no longer dared to say to the Lord, “If I commit sins, please chasten me.” Instead, I prayed, “If I commit sins, please forgive me.” Seeing that I received no keeping from the Lord despite my faithful service and that I was ridiculed by the unbelievers and had difficulties in life, I broke down within and even began to doubt the Lord. No matter how Wang and Zhang “consoled” me, I couldn’t recover my former faith, but I dared not forsake the Lord.
Later, I saw that the condition of the churches was even worse than before. The believers became fewer and fewer, the co-workers had jealousy and strife, and two sisters who were zealous in “serving” the Lord lost their husbands. By then, I had countless “whys” in my heart. Just when I was extremely weak, God enlightened me. I suddenly remembered the words of the sister who preached God’s new work, “Now God has done a new work, and He no longer does the work of the Age of Grace. The churches are already desolate.” I pondered, “Have I really been resisting the true God?” At the thought of this, I at once knelt down before the Lord and prayed to Him bitterly, “O Lord, are You no longer in the churches? Have You done a new work outside the churches? Were the disasters that happened to my family Your punishment? I don’t understand. May You enlighten me…” Thank God! After prayer, I unexpectedly remembered these words of God the sister read to me: “If, after much examination, you still believe that these words are not the truth, are not the way, and are not the expression of God, then you shall ultimately be punished, and be without blessings.” At that point, I was really regretful. “Why didn’t I make a careful investigation before? If I meet the brothers and sisters who preach the new work next time, I must listen carefully.”
One day, in a co-workers’ meeting, Wang said complacently, “Recently our prayers have been effective. The ‘Eastern Lightning’ followers aren’t so rampant as before.” Hearing that, I regained my “strength” and prayed to curse them with others again. After that, my liver and stomach problems recurred, and I also had cervical spondylosis. I was plunged into agony once again. Just as God’s word says: “Man constantly wishes to contend with God, but it goes without saying who stands to lose in the end.”
I was so corrupt and obstinate, but Almighty God didn’t abandon me and still kept saving me.
At the end of September 2002, I went to a host family with a sister. There, a brother fellowshipped with us again according to God’s word about many truths concerning God’s work of the last days, God’s return in a hidden way, God’s two incarnations and the gender of His flesh, and so on. As I listened, I felt that every word was reasonable, and I was captured and truly convinced. Then I asked the brother for the book. But suddenly the leader’s words came to me, “Once you read the book, your family will have troubles.” So I was plunged into fear and misgivings. “What if my new family, which is not easily built, is broken after I accept the book of God’s word? What if the life of my new husband is taken away?” Just at that time, the brother continued, “We’re believing in the only true God. Don’t be afraid. As long as we are certain about God’s work, God will surely keep us and help us stand the ground! Satan will have no chance at all.” Hearing his words, I thought, “Right! As long as I rely on God, I will be able to overcome!” Two days later, a sister brought me a book of God’s word. I read several pieces of God’s word at one sitting, as if getting the most precious treasure. The more I read, the more I felt that it was God’s word, each word stirring my soul and hitting me to the marrow of my bones. God says: “Those who do not understand the truth always follow others: if people say that this is the work of the Holy Spirit, then you, too, say it is the work of the Holy Spirit; if people say it is the work of an evil spirit, then you, too, become doubtful, or also say it is the work of an evil spirit. You always parrot the words of others, and are incapable of distinguishing anything by yourself, nor are you able to think for yourself. This is someone without a position, who is unable to differentiate—such a person is a worthless wretch! Such people always repeat the words of others: today it is said that this is the work of the Holy Spirit, but chances are one day someone will say it isn’t the work of the Holy Spirit, and nothing but the deeds of man—yet you can’t see through this, and when you witness it said by others, you say the same thing. It is actually the work of the Holy Spirit, but you say it is the work of man; have you not become one of those who blaspheme against the work of the Holy Spirit? In this, have you not opposed God because you cannot differentiate?” “What you admire is not the humility of Christ, but those false shepherds of prominent standing. You do not love the adorableness or wisdom of Christ, but those wantons who associate with the vile world. You laugh at the pain of Christ who has no place to lay His head, but admire those corpses that seize offerings and live in debauchery. You are not willing to suffer alongside Christ, but gladly go into the arms of those reckless antichrists though they supply to you only flesh, only letters, and only control. Even now your heart still turns toward them, toward their reputation, toward their standing in the hearts of all the Satans, and toward their influence and authority. And yet you continue to hold an attitude of resisting and refusing to accept the work of Christ.” God’s words pierced through my vital spot like a sharp double-edged sword. When I thought of my evil deeds of resisting God, shame, regret, and guilt gushed up inside me. I fell down before God and prayed in tears, “O God! I was so foolish and blind that I blindly believed the leaders’ words and have resisted You for four years. Only today have I seen clearly that I wasn’t believing in You but the leaders. O God! Facing Your today’s work, I didn’t seek in the slightest but blindly believed the leaders and was totally dominated by them. I thought that these years I had been ‘looking after’ the flock faithfully for You and was a good steward in Your household. I never thought that I had been resisting You and my deeds were exactly the deeds of the Pharisees! O God! I am so disobedient and really deserve more than death and am unworthy to come before You. But You didn’t forsake me and spared no effort to save me. God, I thank You for Your punishment to me. This is Your most real love for me. If Your punishment didn’t come upon me, I would still be in the abyss of sin doing things of resisting You every day without knowing it.”
Brothers and sisters, the misfortunes that happened to my family were all the punishments from God, because God is a consuming fire and doesn’t tolerate man’s offense. Just as it says in Typical Cases of Punishment for Resisting Almighty God, “If the One they resisted were not God, who could punish them and take away their lives? … Do you not acknowledge that God is righteous?” According to what the book says, I belonged to the kind of people who resisted God ferociously: “… because they themselves had no discernment due to their ignorance of the Holy Spirit’s work, they were deceived by others or restrained by the wicked servants, and followed them to do evil and echoed what they said, and they spoke many words against God and did evil to hinder others from accepting God’s work. God only gave this kind of people slight punishment and did not take away their lives. Some of them got strange diseases, some suffered disasters themselves, and some brought misfortune upon their family members. To this kind of people, God gave them a chance to repent. Of course, there were some stubborn ones who still refused to repent even after being punished and continued doing evil, and thus they were cut off.” Today, I’m fortunate to receive God’s grace, and this is God’s favor. If God treated me according to my past deeds, even if my family were all taken away, it would be a proper punishment, for God’s disposition doesn’t tolerate man’s offense.