Rongguang Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province
In 1991, by the grace of God, I began to follow Almighty God because of an illness. At that time I didn’t know anything about believing in God, but the interesting thing is that, when eating and drinking of the words expressed by Almighty God, I enjoyed it. I felt that His words were so good, and when I sang or prayed I was frequently moved by the Holy Spirit to the point of weeping. That sweetness in my heart, that enjoyment was as if a joyous event had come upon me. Particularly in get-togethers during the great work of the Holy Spirit, I felt as if I had transcended the flesh and I was living in the third heaven, that everything belonging to the world had been cast to the winds. I can’t say how joyful, how happy I was in my heart. I felt that I was the happiest person in the world. So at that time I believed that believing in God was just enjoying His grace.
As more and more of God’s words were being released (at the time they were being continuously sent to the church, passage after passage), I also knew more and more. Then, I was no longer fulfilled by merely enjoying God’s grace. When I saw “firstborn sons” mentioned in His words and I learned that God bestows great blessings on His firstborn sons, I sought to become one, hoping that in the future I could reign with God. Later on, when I saw in His words that His time was coming soon, I felt even more urgency, and thought: I started believing in God so late; will I be unable to gain this blessing? I need to put more effort into it. So when the house of God arranged for me to copy out documents, I was very proactive. I wasn’t afraid of hardship. I decided I wasn’t going to find a partner or a job so that I would be able to gain the blessing of being a firstborn son. If I could become a firstborn son, I was willing to throw anything out, to pay any price. In truth, God had never said definitively in His words that we could be firstborn sons. It was just because we were ambitious and had extravagant desires, we believed that because God had called us His “sons” and that He now uplifted us, that we would certainly become the firstborn. This was how I believed that I had, naturally, become a firstborn son. Later I saw words of God that had just been released that frequently mentioned “service-doers,” and there were more and more mentions of the judgment of service-doers. I thought to myself: Luckily I am following Almighty God, otherwise I would become a service-doer. When I read about God’s blessings and promises for firstborn sons, I believed that a portion of that would be mine. When I read His words of comfort and exhortation for His firstborn, I also felt that they were addressed to me. I felt even more delighted particularly when I saw the following: “The great disasters will certainly not befall upon My sons, My beloved. I will look after My sons in every moment and in every second. You certainly will not endure that pain and suffering; rather, it is for the sake of the perfection of My sons and the fulfillment of My word in them, so that you may recognize My omnipotence, further grow in life, shoulder burdens for Me sooner, and devote your entire selves for the completion of My management plan. You should be glad and happy and rejoice because of this. I will hand over everything to you, allowing you to take control. I will place it in your hands. If a son inherits his father’s entire estate, how much more so with you, My firstborn sons? You are truly blessed. Instead of suffering from the great disasters, you will enjoy everlasting blessings. What glory! What glory!” (“The Sixty-eighth Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I thought: Am I dreaming? Such incredible manna from heaven has landed upon me? I couldn’t completely dare to believe it, but I was afraid my brothers and sisters would say that my faith was too small, so I didn’t dare to not believe it.
One day, I excitedly went to participate in a meeting, and I saw that two workers had come to the church. When I was in fellowship with them, they said that they were service-doers. After hearing this, I was shocked, and asked them: “If you are service-doers, aren’t we all service-doers?” They spoke the truth without holding back: “Nearly all of us in China are service-doers.” Hearing them say this, my heart sank. It couldn’t be! Is this the truth? But when I saw their heavy, pained expressions and that the others’ faces were also very somber, I couldn’t not believe it. But then I changed my mind and thought: As workers, they had given up their families and careers, had suffered so much and paid such a great price for God’s work. I was quite lacking compared to them; if they are service-doers, what else could I say? A service-doer is a service-doer, so at the time, I didn’t feel too terrible.
After going home, I once again took up the word of God and looked at what God had to say about service-doers, and I saw this: “Those who do service for Me, listen! You can receive some of My grace when doing service for Me. That is, you will know for a time about My later work and the things that will happen in the future, but you will absolutely not enjoy that. This is My grace. When your service is complete, leave at once and do not linger. Those who are My firstborn sons should not be arrogant, but you may be proud, for I have bestowed endless blessings upon you. Those who are targets for destructions should not bring trouble on yourselves or feel sorrow for your destiny; who made you a descendant of Satan? After you have done your service for Me, you may once again return to the bottomless pit because you will no longer be of use to Me and I shall begin to deal with you with My chastisement. Once I begin My work I do not ever stop; what I do shall be accomplished and what I accomplish shall last forever. This is applicable to My firstborn sons, My sons, My people, and this goes for you as well—My chastisements of you are everlasting” (“The Eighty-sixth Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). As soon as I read these words I was beset by a pain I had never felt before. I quickly closed the book of God’s words and didn’t dare to look at it again. In one moment feelings of aggrievement, of confusion, of discontent all welled up in my heart at once. I thought: Yesterday I was in a cradle of happiness, but today I have been pushed out of God’s house. Yesterday I was God’s son, but today I have become God’s enemy, Satan’s descendant. Yesterday, the limitless blessings of God were awaiting me, but today the bottomless pit is my destination, and I will be punished into eternity. If He’s not bestowing blessings, then no matter, but why does He still have to chastise me? What on earth have I done wrong? What on earth is all of this for? I wasn’t willing to face this reality; I was unable to face this type of reality. I closed my eyes and wasn’t willing to think about it anymore. I hoped so much that it was just a dream.
From then on, as soon as I thought of myself as a service-doer, I felt an unspeakable pain in my heart, and I didn’t dare to read the words of God again. But God is very wise, and His words which chastise and reveal people are not only permeated with mystery, but there are also prophecies of the future catastrophe as well as the kingdom outlook and similar things. These were all things that I wanted to know, so I still could not turn my back on His words. When reading God’s words, His razor-sharp words repeatedly pierced my heart, and I couldn’t help but accept His judgment and chastisement. I felt that the majestic wrath of God’s judgment was always upon me. Aside from the pain, I knew the actual truth of my having been corrupted by Satan. It turned out that I was the child of the great red dragon, Satan’s descendant, and the target of destruction. In despair, I no longer dared to greedily hope for any blessings, and I was willing to accept God’s predestination that I was a service-doer. When I felt that I could put my heart into being a service-doer, God once again brought out some things that had been hidden in me. One day when reading God’s words, I saw: “After I have returned to Zion, those on earth will continue to praise Me as in the past. Those loyal service-doers remain waiting to render service to Me but their function will have come to an end. The best that they can do is to contemplate the circumstance of Me being on the earth. At that time I will begin to bring down disaster upon those who will suffer calamity, but just as[a] all believe that I am a righteous God, I will certainly not punish those loyal service-doers and they will only receive My grace” (“The One Hundred and Twentieth Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Seeing this, I secretly thought to myself: I will no longer think of the birthright of the firstborn and I will no longer want great blessings. Now I will only pursue being a devout service-doer. This is now my sole pursuit. In the future, no matter what the household of God arranges for me to do, I will do it as devoutly as I can. I absolutely cannot lose the opportunity to be a devout service-doer again. If I am not even capable of being a devout service-doer but am simply a service-doer, after I have completed my service I must return to the bottomless pit or the lake of fire and brimstone. In that case what is it all for? Then it’s better to not believe! I didn’t dare to express this thought to anyone, but I couldn’t escape the searching from the eyes of God. God used words as sharp as swords to pierce my heart and cut open my soul. His words were: “No one can fathom the nature of man except Me, and they all think that they are ‘loyal’ to Me, not knowing that their ‘loyalty’ is impure. These impurities will ruin people for they are a scheme of the great red dragon. It was long ago laid bare by Me; I am the almighty God, and would I not understand something so simple? I am able to penetrate your blood and your flesh to see your intentions. It is not hard for Me to fathom man’s nature, but people try to be smart alecks, thinking that no one but themselves know their intentions. Don’t they know that the almighty God exists within the heavens and earth and all things?” “Most people now harbor a small hope, but when that hope turns to disappointment they become unwilling to go any further and ask to turn back. I have said before that I don’t keep anyone here against their will, but take care to think about what the consequences will be for you, and this is a fact, it is not Me threatening you” (“The One Hundred and Eighteenth Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After reading this, my heart was pounding. I felt that God truly does see into every facet of man’s being. We think of something and God knows; we secretly hold some little hope in our hearts and God is disgusted; He does not allow this. Only at that time did I have a bit of a heart of reverence for God. I determined that I would no longer conduct transactions with God, but I would honestly act as a service-doer and obey His designs.
Only later did I know that my experience through these three months was the trial of service-doers. It was the first work God completed in people of a trial by His words. After undergoing the trial of service-doers, I understood that God is not only a merciful and loving God, but He is a righteous, majestic God who does not tolerate the offenses of mankind. His words contain authority and power, which cannot help but produce a heart of fear in man. I also knew that mankind is God’s creation, that we should believe in God and worship Him. This is what is right and proper. There need be no reasons, no conditions, and there must not be ambition or extravagant desires. If people believe in God in order to gain something from Him, then this type of belief is exploiting and cheating Him. It is an expression of lacking a conscience and reason. Even if people believe in God but gain nothing and later gain His punishment, they should believe in Him. Mankind should believe in and obey God because He is God. I also recognized that I myself am a son of the great red dragon, Satan’s descendant, and one of those who will perish. God is the Lord of all creation, and no matter how He treats me it is deserved. All of it is righteous, and I should obey His designs and arrangements without conditions. I should not try to reason with Him, and even more I should not resist Him. Thinking back to my own idiocy revealed in this trial, I saw that I truly was shameful, and that I was a genuine descendant of Satan, arrogant and unreasonable. I only wanted to gain some high status, great blessings, or even sit side-by-side with God and rule with Him, but I didn’t even know what I was or if I was qualified; I just shamelessly, greedily fought for it. When I saw that I would not gain the blessings I had hoped for but instead would suffer catastrophe, I thought of no longer believing in God and of betraying Him. These utterly transparent demonstrations made me clearly see that my goal in believing in God was to be blessed. I was clearly trying to conduct transactions with God; I truly was arrogant to the extreme, and I had completely lost the reason that a person should have. If it had not been for such wisdom in God’s work—using the trial of service-doers to conquer me, to break my ambition of gaining blessings—my conscience and reason would not possibly have recovered. I could not possibly have honestly accepted the truth, the way, and the life from God. In that case, I would never have been able to be saved or perfected.
After undergoing the trial of service-doers, I thought I no longer dared to believe in God and fulfill my duty in order to gain blessings, and I thought I no longer dared to do things with the intention of conducting transactions with God. I felt that exploiting and cheating God in this way was too despicable. But at the same time, I had a superficial understanding that God using this trial to save mankind is His kind intention, and I knew that there is no part of Him that hates man. His love for mankind has not changed since He created the world, so, in my heart, I was willing to pursue a path of satisfying and repaying God’s love in my future faith in Him and fulfillment of my duty. However, because the intention of gaining blessings and conducting transactions with God is too entrenched in people’s hearts, it’s not possible to completely resolve it by experiencing just one trial. After some time has passed, these things will show themselves again. So, in order to more deeply and completely conquer and save us, He performs several successive trials on us—the trial of the times of chastisement, the trial of death, and the seven-year trial. Of these trials, the one that I suffered the most from and gained the most from was the seven-year trial of 1999.
In 1999, I was arranged to go to a new district to act as a church leader. This happened to be the year that the gospel of the kingdom was greatly expanded, and the house of God required that we try to save everyone who had the possibility of being saved. When I saw this arrangement from the house of God, I thought that God’s work would be done in 2000. In order to get more souls and to obtain a favorable destination for myself when the time came, I made myself busy with the work of the gospel from early morning to late at night. As for the life of the church, I was just making an appearance and going through the motions. Even though I realized that my intentions were wrong, I just could not control my desire for gaining blessings. At the time I was quite busy, and I felt that doing anything aside from the work of the gospel was just holding me up, even eating and drinking the word of God. It was this way that I threw myself into a fervor of work, and before I knew it the year was over. The house of God had selected a local person to help with the work, so I returned to the area of my hometown.
I imagined that when God’s work was done, the great catastrophe would certainly occur, so after I went back home, I just waited at home every day for the disaster, waiting for the end of God’s work. When I saw that the Spring Festival was coming, my own problems emerged. Before, in order to avoid the issue of my family and friends asking me about getting married, I would always say that I’d get married in the year 2000. At that time, I thought that God’s work would certainly conclude in the year 2000, and as far as marriage goes, I could only hold on until 2000. I hadn’t imagined that 2000 would arrive so quickly—they would all come for the Spring Festival, and how would I respond to them then? Just as I was fretting over this issue, there was fellowship from the house of God saying that it is necessary to undergo seven years of trials. After hearing this message, I felt shaken and my heart was in turmoil. I couldn’t help but start to reason with God: Right now, I don’t even have a place to live with my family. They won’t allow me to stay at home long term—even one day at home like this is difficult. Another seven years is upon me—how is this any way to live? Oh God, I beg You to extinguish me. I no longer want to be perfected by You, I truly cannot endure this suffering anymore! The next day, I still could not escape from my depression. I thought: Anyway, it has been seven years. Tomorrow is another day—I’ll go out and get this off my mind. As soon as I got in the bus, I felt the Holy Spirit was inside of me reproaching me: At the time you were willingly seeking, you had paid your price, and said that you would love God to the end, that you would never leave Him, that you would bear any hardships and share any joys. You were a hypocrite who fooled yourself! Facing the Holy Spirit’s reproach, I couldn’t help but hang my head. It was true. Before, when I had enjoyed God’s grace, I made promises to Him, but now when there are difficulties and I must suffer, I want to go back on my word. So aren’t my promises just lies? God gave me so much love, and now when I encounter an environment that is not entirely as I wish I have such great resentment to the point that I want to turn my back on God. I truly am an ungrateful beast, no better than an animal! When I thought of this, I was no longer in the mood to go out, but returned home with a heavy heart. Even though I had been forced into being “obedient,” every time I faced the dissatisfaction of my family and the odd looks from those around me, I felt that believing in God was too painful, too difficult. When I thought of the fact that there were still seven years remaining in God’s work, I let go in my heart and whatever I did, I was not hurried or worried. I slogged through every day of fulfilling my duty like it was just another day on the clock. This type of negative and confrontational condition made me gradually lose hold of the work of the Holy Spirit, and although I wanted to transform my own condition, I was unable to.
One day, when I was eating and drinking the word of God, I saw His words that said: “When some people first started out they were full of energy, as though they would never run out when they began performing their duty. But how come as they go along they seem to lose that energy? The person they were then and the person they are now are like two different people. Why did they change? What was the reason? It is because their faith in God went the wrong way before it got on the right track. They chose the wrong path. There was something hidden inside their initial pursuit, and at a key moment that thing emerged. What was hidden? It’s an anticipation that lies inside their hearts while they believe in God, the anticipation that the day of God is arriving soon so that their misery will be at an end; the anticipation that God will be transfigured and that all of their suffering will be over” (“Those Who Have Lost the Work of the Holy Spirit Are Most at Risk” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words caused me to seek the root of the problem. It turned out that I had a concealed hope within my pursuits, hoping that God’s day would come soon and that I would no longer suffer, that I would have a good destination. All along, my pursuits were dominated by this hope, and when my hope came to nothing, I suffered and fell apart to the point of betraying God, even thinking of escaping through death. Only at that time did I see that I had followed God for so many years, but its essence wasn’t pursuing the path of the truth; I had always had my eye on the day of God, and I had been conducting transactions with Him in order to gain His blessings. Even though then I could not help but stay within God’s household and not leave Him, if I did not resolve the contamination within me, sooner or later I would resist and betray God. After seeing this hidden danger within myself, within my heart I asked of God: What can I do to get rid of the contamination of hoping for the day? Then, I once again read God’s words, which said: “Do you know that in this country, while you can undergo these sufferings and enjoy the work of God, foreigners really envy you all? The wishes of foreigners are: We also want to experience the work of God, we will suffer anything for it. We want to obtain the truth too! We also want to gain some insight, gain some stature, but unfortunately we do not have that chance. … Making this group of people complete in the country of the great red dragon, making them endure this suffering, can be said to be the greatest exaltation. It was once said: ‘I have moved the glory of Israel to the East.’ Do you all understand the meaning of this statement now? How should you walk the path ahead? How should you seek the truth? If you do not seek the truth then how can you obtain the work of the Holy Spirit? Once you lose the work of the Holy Spirit, then you will be in the most danger. The suffering at present is insignificant. Do you know what it will do for you?” (“Those Who Have Lost the Work of the Holy Spirit Are Most at Risk” in Records of Christ’s Talks). From these words of God, I could see that there is great meaning in people today being able to suffer, but I could not put my finger on what the meaning of that suffering actually was. I just knew that only if I could see into the meaning of the suffering would I be able to truly transform my condition of hoping for the day of God. This was a path toward resolution. Although I did not understand the meaning of suffering at that time, the only thing I could do was to really pursue the truth, to seek the truth more, because only if I gained the truth could I truly understand the meaning of suffering, and only then could I be rid of this contamination within me.
As if time had been sped up, I blinked and it was already 2009. Those seven years were long gone, without me realizing it. I had come that far and finally felt that those seven years had not been as long as I had imagined. Those few years, in the judgment revealed in God’s words, in the revelations of God’s trials and refinements, I had seen my true face. I had seen that I was, through and through, a child of the great red dragon, because I was full of its poisons, such as the poison of “Don’t get up early if there’s no benefit, benefit takes the lead in everything.” This is a classic representation of the form of the great red dragon. Under the domination of this poison, my belief in God was only to be blessed. What I expended for God had a time limit, and I desired to suffer little and gain great blessings. In order to rid me of this strong intention to be blessed and transactional attitude within me, God completed multiple trials and refinements on me. Only then was the contamination in my belief in God purified. And I saw within God’s revelations that I was full of Satan’s corrupt disposition. I was arrogant, deceitful, selfish and despicable, reckless, and half-hearted. They made me see more and more clearly my own true colors, see that I had been too deeply corrupted by Satan, that I was the son of hell. That I could believe in God and follow God at that time was truly His uplifting and grace, and that I could accept His judgment and chastisement was an even greater blessing. My gratitude to God grew, my requirements shrank, my obedience to Him grew, and my love of myself shrank. I only asked to be able to throw off my corrupt satanic disposition, to be a person who truly obeys and worships God. This small fruit was achieved after who-knows-how-much of God’s work, including too much of His painstaking effort. To this day, experiencing God’s work, I have finally understood that God’s salvation of mankind truly is not easy. His work is too practical—His work of changing and saving mankind is not as simple as people would imagine. So, now I am no longer like a naive child, just hoping that the day of God will come quickly, but I always feel that my own corruption is too deep, that I am too much in need of God’s salvation and too much in need of experiencing His judgment and chastisement, His trials and refinements. I must now possess a bit of the conscience and reason that should be present in normal humanity, and properly experiencing God’s work of salvation of mankind. In the end when I can live out the model of a true person and receive God’s joy, my heart will be fulfilled. Now, when I look back and think of what I revealed of myself when those seven years of trials came upon me, I feel that I am too indebted to God, that I wounded His heart too much. If God’s work had concluded in 2000, I certainly would have been a target of destruction. The seven years of trials really were God’s tolerance and compassion for me.
Once I had come out of those seven years and I reflected on those words from God that I hadn’t understood before: “Do you know that in this country, while you can undergo these sufferings and enjoy the work of God, foreigners really envy you all? The wishes of foreigners are: We also want to experience the work of God, we will suffer anything for it. We want to obtain the truth too! We also want to gain some insight, gain some stature, but unfortunately we do not have that chance. … Making this group of people complete in the country of the great red dragon, making them endure this suffering, can be said to be the greatest exaltation. It was once said: ‘I have moved the glory of Israel to the East.’ Do you all understand the meaning of this statement now?” (“Those Who Have Lost the Work of the Holy Spirit Are Most at Risk” in Records of Christ’s Talks). I could understand a bit of the meaning of these words; I could finally feel that suffering truly is meaningful. Even though I suffered while experiencing these trials, only after suffering did I see that what I had gained was so precious, so valuable. Through experiencing these trials, I saw the righteous disposition of the Almighty and God’s almightiness and wisdom. I understood God’s benevolence, and I tasted God’s deep, paternal love for His children. I also experienced the authority and power in His words, and I saw the truth of my own corruption by Satan. I saw God’s hardships in His work of salvation, that He is holy and honored, and that humans are ugly and despicable. I also experienced how God conquers and saves mankind to bring them onto the correct path of believing in Him. When I think of it now, if God had not performed this arduous work on me of trial after trial, I could not possibly have these understandings. Hardships and refinements are so beneficial for people’s growth in their lives. Through them, people can gain the most practical and precious thing in their course of believing in God—the truth. After seeing the value and meaning of suffering, I no longer dream of entering the kingdom riding on a sedan, but I am willing to firmly plant my feet on the ground and experience the work of God, to truly pursue the truth to change myself.
Through experiencing several years of God’s work, only now do I have a bit of practical understanding of these words from God: “True faith in God means experiencing the words and work of God based on a belief that God holds sovereignty over all things. So you shall be freed of your corrupt disposition, shall fulfill the desire of God, and shall come to know God. Only through such a journey can you be said to believe in God.” Before I had experienced these trials from God, I was full of a strong intention to be blessed and a transactional outlook. Even though I knew in principle what it was to believe in God and what the goal of belief in God was, I still only had my eyes on being blessed. I paid no mind to the truth, I did not take ridding myself of my corrupt disposition to satisfy God’s will, or recognizing God as the goal of my pursuit. Only at that time did I understand that when God became flesh His primary work was to resolve mankind’s intention to be blessed and their transactional attitude. It was because these things truly are the stumbling blocks between man and their entering into the correct path of believing in God. When these things are harbored within mankind, they will not pursue the truth. They will not have a correct goal in their pursuit; they will walk an incorrect path. This is a path that is not recognized by God. Now, God’s work of conquering and salvation has destroyed Satan’s fortress within me. I am finally no longer worried, no longer preoccupied by thoughts of gaining blessings or suffering catastrophe. I am no longer bitterly pursuing extravagant desires, and I am no longer discussing conditions or making requirements in order to escape the catastrophe. Without this contamination, I feel lighter, freer. I can calmly and properly pursue the truth. This is the fruit borne of the trials and refinements of Almighty God. It is Almighty God’s work of trials and refinements that has led me onto the true path of believing in God. From now on, no matter what more work of trials God performs, no matter how great the painful refinements I suffer, I will obey and accept, and truly experience them. I will seek the truth from them, and achieve a disposition free from corruption to satisfy God’s will, in order to repay God’s many years of painstaking effort.
a. The original text omits “just as.”