Breaking Through Satan’s Tight Encirclement (Audio Essay, Part 1)
It was bitterly cold this past November in Northeast China, none of the snow that fell to the ground melted away, and many people who walked outside were so cold that they stuffed their hands into their armpits and walked along cautiously, bodies bent over. The other day in the early morning the winds were blowing from the northwest, when I, my brother-in-law and his wife and about a dozen brothers and sisters were sitting in my home on the warm kang (a heatable brick bed). Everyone had a copy of the Bible beside them and in their hands everyone was holding a copy of the book Judgment Begins With the House of God. Two sisters from The Church of Almighty God were fellowshiping on the truth concerning God’s three stages of work. The two sisters were drawing pictures of the three stages of work as they fellowshiped: “God’s work for the salvation of mankind can be divided into three stages, from the Age of Law to the Age of Grace and then to the Age of Kingdom. Each stage of work is newer and more improved and also more profound than the previous stage. The work done in the last days is the final stage of work, in which God expresses words to judge and cleanse man….” We nodded our heads as we listened, and our minds felt especially clear: Who would’ve thought that God’s management plan for the salvation of mankind would have so many mysteries! Besides God Himself, who else could speak of the mysteries of these three stages of God’s work so clearly? This truly is the work of God! We fellowshiped into the evening of the following day, and our whole group expressed a willingness to seek out and look into Almighty God’s work of the last days.
After this the two sisters then fellowshiped on the truth regarding the significance of the incarnation of God, and the rest of us were listening attentively when all of a sudden our church leader Wang Ping showed up. When she entered the house she pointed a harsh finger at the two sisters from The Church of Almighty God and asked me: “What are these two doing?” I spoke frankly: “These are Sister Zhang and Sister Mu …” But before I could even finish speaking she said in an exasperated tone: “Who are Sister Zhang and Sister Mu? I see that they are preachers of the Eastern Lightning, they are sheep-stealers….” After Wang Ping finished talking, we all sat there in shock. I thought to myself: Sister Wang Ping has almost always talked about loving others as you love yourself and loving your enemies; why is it that today she comes in here saying such unreasonable things? Why is she judging and condemning these two sisters? I was thinking this over when I heard Sister Zhang calmly say to Wang Ping: “Sister, there are no hidden intentions in us coming here today. We just want to spread the gospel of the Lord’s return to you …” Wang Ping interrupted Sister Zhang and yelled out: “The Lord’s return? Not even those of us who serve as leaders know anything about the Lord’s return, so how could you know anything about it? That is not possible! The Lord Jesus said: ‘All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them’ (John 10:8). You both need to leave right now and never come back here.” When I heard Wang Ping say this I felt disgusted inside: Usually she always preaches well; how is it that she can be so compassionless all of a sudden? So I asked Wang Ping: “Sister Wang, it’s late. Where are you asking them to go? The Lord teaches us that we must love even our enemies, to say nothing of these two sisters who believe in God. If we treat these two in this way, we would in no way resemble believers in the Lord …” But before I could even finish what I was saying Wang Ping anxiously grabbed the hand of my brother-in-law’s wife and said to her and her husband: “If Zhao Gang doesn’t want these two women to leave then let’s go. We won’t listen to them!” When she finished saying this she furiously grabbed a hold of these two and walked out.
After they left Sister Mu turned to us and asked: “Brothers and sisters, how do you all feel about the scene that we just witnessed? Let’s discuss this together!” The brothers and sisters all turned their heads toward me, without anyone saying a word. I said frankly: “Sister, through our readings of the word of God over these past two days, and through listening to your fellowship, I firmly believe that Almighty God’s words are the truth, and that Almighty God is the return of the Lord Jesus. However, the things that Wang Ping said aren’t without reason. After all, she is our leader and she has had faith in the Lord for a long time. She is very familiar with the Bible and she has always used her energy to run around serving the Lord. If the Lord has returned, she ought to be the first to know.” Sister Zhang replied kindly: “People believe that God’s return should first be known by leaders who then tell believers about it, but is there really any kind of basis in the word of God for this kind of thinking? Is this a fact that conforms to the truth and to God’s work or is it not? Let us think back to the previous time that the Lord Jesus came to carry out His work. Those Jewish Pharisees also believed that they who had served God for generations certainly ought to be the first people that the Messiah should appear before if He came. The thought never crossed their minds that the Lord Jesus did not first reveal Himself to them, but rather first had those fishermen and publicans who were looked down upon listen to the gospel and come before the Lord. This fact should make us realize that God does not only enlighten those who serve as leaders. It’s not as though He does not enlighten the ordinary believers who follow them, for God is righteous and He certainly does not favor anyone. God approves kind-hearted people who thirst to seek out the truth. It’s just as the Lord Jesus said: ‘Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. … Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God’ (Matthew 5:6,8). Almighty God also said: ‘God seeks those who long for Him to appear. He seeks those who are able to hear His words, those who have not forgotten His commission and offer up their heart and body to Him. He seeks those who are as obedient as babes before Him, and do not resist Him’ (“God Presides Over the Fate of All Mankind” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). This allows us to see that so long as we love the truth and thirst for the truth, regardless of whether or not we have any status, regardless of how much we know about the Bible, God will enlighten and guide all of us. He will allow us to listen to His voice and witness His appearance. If those who serve as leaders think that God must first give revelation to them when He returns, then this shows that they do not have any understanding of the work of God, they do not know God’s righteous disposition. It also shows that they are very arrogant. Just as it is said in the word of Almighty God: “And so I say that those who have ‘seen through’ God and His work are ineffectual, they are all arrogant and ignorant. Man should not define the work of God; moreover, man cannot define the work of God. In the eyes of God, man is smaller than an ant, so how can man fathom God’s work? Those who are constantly saying, ‘God does not work in this or that way’ or ‘God is like this or that’—are they not all arrogant?” (“Preface” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s almightiness and wisdom are deep and immeasurable. People are just little creatures. Their minds, their thoughts are finite. How could they be able to fathom the work of the Creator? So, as we wait for the Lord to return we ought to keep reverence for God in our hearts and search and investigate carefully. We ought not to use our own conceptions and imaginations to confine God and judge God according to our wishes, for this will offend God’s disposition, and it will also ruin one’s own chances of receiving salvation.” After listening to the sister’s fellowship I understood that we are so insignificant in the presence of God. We are even smaller than ants, and furthermore we have been corrupted by Satan to the point that we are full of corrupt disposition of arrogance and self-conceitedness. We love to always rely on our imaginations and conceptions to confine God. Whenever God’s work does not conform to our conceptions we even deny God, condemn God and resist God. Apparently if man does not understand the truth and does not have a single speck of reverence for God in his heart, it is possible for him to do whatever he wants. It’s very dangerous! This made me remember that the Lord Jesus once said: “I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in your sight” (Matthew 11: 25-26). It wasn’t until today that I saw that this really is how things are! Sister Zhang’s fellowship allowed me to recognize that this idea that “leaders ought to be the first ones to receive revelation when the Lord returns” is false and absurd, it simply does not conform to the truth, and it’s absolutely the conception and imagination of man. In reality, only those who thirst for the truth and seek the voice of God will have the opportunity to receive God’s work and His guidance and be brought before God. This gave me a new understanding of God’s fairness and righteousness. Thanks be to God!
Early in the morning on the following day, after Sister Zhang and Sister Mu had left, my fellow Brother Guan who is higher up than me in our church came to me and asked: “Brother Zhao, I heard that you all believe in Eastern Lightning?” I told him solemnly: “Yes, I accept Almighty God’s work in the last days, because through the words of Almighty God I have come to understand many truths that I previously didn’t understand, such as the mysteries of His three stages of work and the significance of the incarnation of God. I see that the words of Almighty God are ‘the words spoken by the Holy Spirit to the churches’ as prophesied in the Book of Revelation.” Brother Guan glanced over at me and said: “Brother Zhao, are you really going to follow what these people believe? Do you know what kind of people they are?” I said: “I see that their humanity is great and that they fellowship about the truth very clearly. Everything they discuss has to do with the truths of God’s work. I truly have gained a lot these past two days.” Brother Guan said to me angrily: “How can you be so stubborn? Hebrews 6:6-8 tells us: ‘If they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that comes oft on it, and brings forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receives blessing from God: But that which bears thorns and briers is rejected, and is near to cursing; whose end is to be burned.’ You are a preacher, you enjoy so much of the Lord’s grace, but not only are you not leading brothers and sisters to believe in the Lord, rather you are leading them to depart the church. Could it be that you are not afraid of being punished? If you do not turn around you might lose the Lord’s protection, and you will not be able to wish for the good days of old. Your previous sicknesses will recur, and your two children will not have good jobs….”
After brother Guan left I felt a little nervous, and I thought to myself: The things he said seem to have some reason to them, so what should I do just in case my faith in Almighty God causes me to lose the Lord’s grace? When I thought about this I felt my heart grow weak, so I hurriedly got down on my knees and prayed to God: “Almighty God! Brother Guan’s words have made me weak. God! Are the things he said actually true or not? I really don’t know what to do now….” As I was praying to God my wife came back, and I told her about what had just happened. After hearing this she said nervously: “Is that really what he said?” I nodded my head, and my wife said worriedly: “He has been a major leader who has believed in the Lord for many years, and he’s very familiar with the Bible. I feel that he would not tell lies. If it’s really going to be like what he says then what should we do?” At this time I suddenly thought of the truth of God’s three stages of work that Sister Zhang and Sister Mu had fellowshiped about: God’s work for the salvation of mankind is divided into three stages, but all three stages of work are carried out by one God. As I thought about this it suddenly became clear to me, and I blurted out to my wife: “I know that what Brother Guan said doesn’t seem right. He said that by accepting God’s work in the last days we are leaving the way of the Lord and betraying the Lord Jesus, but the words of Almighty God that we have been reading these few days are truly God’s voice. Almighty God is the return of the Lord Jesus. By following Almighty God we are actually following the footsteps of the Lamb. We are the ones who are the wise virgins. Why would the Lord punish us? …” We were in the middle of discussing this when Sister Zhang and Sister Mu came in …