70. Holding Fast to the “Bible” Made Me a Pharisee of the Present Age
Yingkou City, Liaoning Province
I was once a preacher in the “Sanctified Sect.” In 1992, I believed in the Lord because of my illness. After I believed in the Lord, my illness was cured. So I was very grateful to the Lord, and I treated the “Bible” as a heavenly book. If anyone spoke against the Lord or the “Bible,” I would be at daggers with them.
One day in August, 1999, a brother of our sect fellowshipped with me, “God has returned in the flesh and done a new work and expressed many words. Everyone who truly believes in God should accept God’s new work, for God’s word has brought man the truth, the way, and the life.” Upon hearing this, I cried, “That’s absurd! Hasn’t it departed from the Bible? Anyone who departs from the Bible isn’t a believer in God. The Bible is a heavenly book. What you said contradicts the Bible. You’ve gone astray! Whatever you say, I won’t accept it.” But I never expected that soon afterward, a large number of people in our sect followed that brother and accepted God’s new work of the last days. When I heard the news, I flew into a rage, and I condemned and blasphemed wildly while preaching on the platform, saying, “The ‘Eastern Lightning’ has departed from the Bible; this is abandoning the true way. Reading another book is betraying the Bible and the Lord Jesus. We must never fall into their trap, never be deceived by the ‘false Christ’ or receive them, lest we share in their sins. Except for the ‘Sanctified Church,’ others are all false. From now on, if those who preach God’s new work come to your home, tell me immediately…” Since then, on the platform, I vigorously preached to seal off the church and condemned Almighty God’s new work; off the platform, I resisted and disturbed it desperately.
Once, a young sister’s husband hurried to my home and told me that two preachers came to their home. I hastily went there and shouted angrily to the sisters who preached the gospel of the last days, “Don’t talk nonsense! Go away quickly! Don’t deceive people here!” After they left, I pacified the young sister, saying, “Don’t be afraid! If they come again, just drive them away. You mustn’t listen to their fellowship.”
On another occasion, two sisters, who were formerly in our sect, came to preach God’s new work of the last days to me. As soon as I saw them, my anger rose. I stood at the gate and didn’t let them in, shouting at them, “You’ve drawn people away. How can you have the face to come to my house?” One sister said, “Shall we go into the house and have a fellowship?” “Go into my house? Don’t you even expect to come into my courtyard. Go away quickly! I have nothing to talk to you…” Seeing I was so unreasonable, the two sisters could only leave.
Still another time, two brothers who preached Almighty God’s new work came to our church, when we were having a meeting. I suppressed my anger and asked them rudely, “We don’t pursue and believe in the same way. What do you come here for? Get out! …” Seeing that they didn’t leave, I exasperatedly went forward, violently took hold of the bench they sat on, and overturned it with all my might, throwing them to the ground. They got up and gave me a smile, and left reluctantly.
Although I sealed off the church and resisted wildly, Almighty God’s gospel of the last days wasn’t hindered. Although I drove away many preachers of Almighty God’s new work, the number of whom I didn’t know exactly, more and more people accepted Almighty God’s new work. I thought that if I held fast to the “Bible,” guarded the flock for the Lord, and kept faithful to the Lord, the Lord would bless me and the church would prosper. But contrary to my wish, instead of being revived, the church became more and more desolate, and envy, strife, and cliques arose among the brothers and sisters. The church had sunk into a declining state.
At the end of 2001, the church I was in disbanded completely. Looking at the cold, empty meeting room, I prayed in bitter tears, “O Lord! Why has the church come to such an end? It was established through twelve years’ difficulties and hardships, but why has it fallen apart? Why? O Lord, please let me know why…” I prayed persistently for three months but there was no result. Despite this, I still didn’t wake up and refused to accept Almighty God’s new work. Finally God’s rod came upon me.
I started feeling a pain in my chest and coughing, and sometimes I even could hardly breathe. Medicine and intravenous injection didn’t work on me. One day, right after I drove away the sisters who preached the gospel of the last days, I got a headache, and my head was too heavy to lift up. However, my heart was hardened like Pharaoh’s. I still remained impenitent and resistant.
In early April, 2002, after I once again rudely drove away the sisters who preached the gospel of the last days, I suddenly had a sore throat. It became worse and worse, and the pain was unbearable. I felt there was something in my throat, which could be neither spit out nor swallowed. Soon, my throat was choked. At that time I was afraid and began to examine myself in spirit: Why does such a thing come upon me? Why doesn’t God keep me? Then I couldn’t help remembering that it was after I drove away the brothers and sisters who preached the gospel of the last days that these troubles came. “Was I wrong in driving them away? Is what they preach the true way?” At the thought of this, I hurriedly knelt down and prayed, “O God! If You have really come and want to wake me up by the illness, the discipline, please enlighten me and send sisters to my home again so that I will know that You have returned in the flesh and done a new work. I don’t dare to resist You anymore and I’m willing to follow You.” After prayer, my throat felt much better.
A few days later, Almighty God sent a sister to my home again. I held her in my arms and burst out crying. Tears of regret, indebtedness, and gratitude were mingled together… After that, I anxiously asked the sister why they didn’t read the Bible now. She opened the book of God’s word, and I read these words: “The two components of God’s work recorded in the Old Testament—the creation of the world and the promulgation of the law—were both done by Jehovah. …” “To understand God’s work in the Age of Law and how the Israelites followed Jehovah’s way, you must read the Old Testament. To understand His work in the Age of Grace, you must read the New Testament. How will you understand the work of the last days, then? You have to accept God’s guidance and enter into His work today, because this is the new work, which no one could ‘record’ beforehand in the Bible. Today God has been incarnated and elected some chosen people in China. In these people God is performing His work, continuing His work on earth, continuing the work of the Age of Grace. The work of today is a path that no one has ever walked before, a way that no one has ever seen. It is a work that has never been done before; it is God’s latest work on earth. So, the work that has not yet been done is not history, as the present is present, and it is not yet past. Few know that God is now undertaking a greater, newer work on earth outside of Israel, exceeding the scope of Israel and the predictions of the prophets. It is a singular new work, untold of in prophecy, a new work taking place outside of Israel, which man cannot fathom and never could have thought of. How could such work be recorded explicitly in the Bible? Who could have recorded every single detail of today’s work in advance?” “The work of today is not history. Hence, if you want to walk the new path today, you have to come out of the Bible, step beyond the limits of the books of prophecy and history. Only in this way can you follow the new path successfully, enter into the new realm, the new work.” “Now that there is new word, a new work, why live in the old history record? The new word can supply you; it shows that this is a new work. The old records cannot sate you, cannot satisfy your present desires; it proves that they are history, not today’s work. The highest way is the newest work. And when there is a new work, the old way, no matter how high, becomes history to be recalled by men. No matter how valuable it is as a reference, it is still an old way. The old way is history, even if recorded in the ‘holy book.’ The new way is reality, even if it is not mentioned on a single page of the ‘holy book.’ This way can save you and transform you, for it is the work of the Holy Spirit.” (from “Concerning the Bible (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh) “If you do not seek the way of life provided by Christ of the last days, then you shall never gain the approval of Jesus, and shall never be qualified to enter the gate of the kingdom of heaven, for you are both a puppet and prisoner of history. Those who are controlled by regulations, by letters, and shackled by history will never be able to gain life, and will never be able to gain the perpetual way of life. That is because all they have is turbid water that has lain stagnant for thousands of years, instead of the water of life that flows from the throne. Those who are not supplied with the water of life will forever remain corpses, playthings of Satan, and sons of hell. How, then, can they behold God? If you only try to hold on to the past, only try to keep things as they are by standing still, and do not try to change the status quo and discard history, then will you not always be against God?” (from “Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh)
After reading God’s words, I knew that the Bible is only the record of the first two stages of work God did in managing mankind and after the work of the Age of Grace, God does a new work in the last days and has new requirements for men, which are not included in the Bible, so there is no need to read the Bible anymore. God’s words also made me know that not all the words in the Bible are God’s words and the Bible isn’t a heavenly book. It was really foolish of me to treat the Bible as God. When Noah, Abraham, Issac, Jacob, and Joseph believed in God and followed God, there wasn’t the Bible, but they all could obey God’s work. However, when the Age of Grace came and God did a new work, people used the Bible to resist God, circumscribing God in the letters of the Bible. They resisted and condemned the incarnate Lord Jesus according to God’s old work recorded in the Bible and in the end crucified Him. Who is wrong, the Bible or men? It is absolutely not that the Bible is wrong but that men are too dogmatic. Men all hold fast to the old work God did but don’t accept God’s new work. They all hold fast to the history recorded in the Bible and resist God’s present work. It is because they can’t treat the Bible properly. The Bible is not the record of all God’s personal utterance but the record of the first two stages of work God has done. Part of it is the record of the prophets’ prophecies, and part of it is the experience and knowledge written by the men used by God throughout the ages, which cannot represent God’s present will. Having believed in the Lord and read the Bible for only a few years, I dared to circumscribe God within the Bible and stubbornly refused God’s new work and became a person who resisted God. If Almighty God didn’t disclose the mysteries about the Bible, I would go to the hell holding the “Bible.” God’s words opened my ignorant heart and made me have a correct knowledge of the Bible. With great interest, I asked the sister, “What is your church life like?” The sister said, “In the meetings, we eat and drink God’s word and examine ourselves according to God’s word to know ourselves and know God. In practical life, we practice living out God’s word to be transformed in our disposition.” Hearing this, I couldn’t help saying “Amen,” thinking that this exactly fulfilled the prophecy in the Bible: “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” (John 16:8) So I said hurriedly, “Please take me to attend your meeting!”
The next day, the sister came early to take me to the meeting. At the meeting place, I saw that the brothers and sisters sit orderly, the brothers on one side and the sisters on the other, and they were all in good spirit, with admirable living out and humanity. They began the meeting with singing hymns. Under the leading of the Holy Spirit, they sang hymns of God’s word and of life experience. Every hymn was very moving and refreshing. After singing hymns, they prayed. They were all very humble before God. They thanked God for His chastisement and judgment on them, prayed for the spreading of Almighty God’s gospel, and prayed in tears for the brothers and sisters in all denominations and sects who hadn’t come before God. After prayer, they ate and drank God’s words and fellowshipped about them. They fellowshipped about their knowledge of God’s word, of God’s work, and of themselves in turn. The elderly brothers and sisters also spoke and fellowshipped about their knowledge actively. Everyone was released and free, and their words were honest and sincere. I was fascinated by that and felt great enjoyment. I deeply felt that only this was the meeting led by God. Such a meeting supplied me with life and nourished my spirit and made me truly enjoy the pleasure brought by the work of the Holy Spirit, which really made me linger on. At that time I suddenly realized that the reason why our church disbanded was that we didn’t keep up with the Lamb’s footsteps and lost the work of the Holy Spirit and lost God’s care and keeping. Just as it was written in Psalm 127:1, “Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman wakes but in vain.” After the meeting, I learned that these more than ten brothers and sisters came from different denominations, and when they came together, they didn’t belittle one another or dispute about right and wrong as they did in their former denominations. They were all close as family members and there weren’t envy and strife among them.
During the meeting, this hymn impressed me most: “… God does His work with difficulty; He suffers all kinds of humiliations. … What Jesus encountered has reoccurred today. … When we try to testify God to others, we meet with disasters instead; lifting up swords and bludgeons, they drive us out of their houses. …” When I heard it, my heart shuddered, “O God! Wasn’t I like what the hymn says?” The more I listened to it, the more I felt it piercing to my heart. Tears ran down my face, and the past scenes floated before my eyes: I resisted, slandered, blasphemed, and rejected God’s coming, and hindered the brothers and sisters from accepting Almighty God’s new work… Those memories were intolerable to me, and I dared not think further. I covered my face with my hands, feeling too ashamed to see others and see God. I was too wicked and vicious. I was precisely a Pharisee of the present age. I was in enmity with God and deserved the harshest punishment, and even death would not expiate all my sins! Thank God for not treating me according to my sins. Through God’s deeds and the burning love of the brothers and sisters who preached Almighty God’s new work, my cold, hardened heart was melt finally, so that I, an unpardonably wicked person, could be fortunate to come before Almighty God and attend the kingdom meeting. This blessing was given by God and was the great uplifting and salvation of Almighty God. Through eating and drinking God’s word and having the kingdom meeting, I knew for certain that Almighty God is Christ of the last days, the Spirit of truth, the undertaker of God’s work of the last days, and the only true God who will bring mankind into the pleasant destination, and that only Almighty God can bring eternal way of life to man. I only wish to devote my second life given by God to repaying His great love, obey His every arrangement, and expend all I have for God in the rest of my life!
Dear brothers and sisters: “The work of God is like mightily surging waves. No one can detain Him, and no one can halt His footsteps. Only those who listen carefully to His words, and who seek and thirst for Him, can follow His footsteps and receive His promise. Those who do not shall be subjected to overwhelming disaster and deserved punishment.” (from “God Presides Over the Fate of All Mankind” in The Word Appears in the Flesh) I hope that you will take warning from me, drop all your notions quickly, and investigate God’s new work boldly with a seeking heart.