8. My Practice of Exaltation and Testimony to God Was So Absurd
By Zhang Cheng, Shandong Province
Each time I saw some leaders and co-workers in the church become antichrists, and be eliminated by God, because they always testified to themselves and brought the brothers and sisters before themselves, I warned myself: I must be sure to exalt and testify to God in all matters; I must not, under any circumstances, show off or exalt myself, lest I set foot on the path of the losers. And so, every time I fellowshiped, I focused only on the revelation of my own corruption and never talked about practice or entry from the positive aspect. When others said there had been a little entry or change in me, I denied it outright. Practicing thus, I believed, was exalting and testifying to God.
One day, I heard these words from a fellowship: “Some people’s knowledge of exalting and testifying to God is incomplete, so what they practice is not entirely correct. They think that talking about experiencing God’s work chiefly means talking of knowing their own corruption, exposing their own corruption, and practicing opening up, and dissecting the revelation of their own corruption—that only this is exalting and testifying to God. To talk of such aspects of experience and testimony as changes in yourself and the process by which you change, or your entry into reality, is as if you’re testifying to yourself, not God. Is such knowledge correct? Does talking about the process by which you experienced change amount to testifying to yourself? It does not. … What we must understand is that to be most effective at bringing people before God, when you speak only of negative experiences, and say nothing of positive entry, the effect is limited, and not ideal, and people will still be without a path. During your fellowships, other people only see how you open yourself up, how you dissect yourself, and how you lay yourself bare. What about your positive entry, what about your practice? What path to practice do you offer people? You haven’t told people how they should practice from now on. … Some people don’t understand what testifying to oneself is. They think that talking about their positive aspects and about the aspect of their entry into reality, is testifying to themselves—but this is actually better testimony to God, more perfect testimony to God. That we are capable of a little reality, of some good deeds, of some faithfulness in performing our duties—is this not the love of God? Is this not the grace of God? Is this not the effect of the Holy Spirit’s work? By fellowshiping about such things, you are more able to testify to the omnipotence of God, to how the work of God is the work of man’s salvation, to how the words of God can change people, and make them perfect, and save them. Thus, testimony to the work of God also requires speaking of your own positive entry, of how you went from not being able to enter to ultimately being able to; of how you went from not being able to know yourself to ultimately being able to, and being able to know the essence of your nature; of how you went from resisting and rebelling against God to being able to obey Him, satisfy Him, and testify to Him. If you can fellowship such experiences and testimony in their entirety, then your testimony to God is whole and complete. Only this is exalting and testifying to God in the true sense. … If all you go on about is your own corruption and ugliness, and if, after a decade or more, you can say nothing of changes in yourself, is this exalting and testifying to God? Is this glorifying God? Can it testify to the omnipotence of God’s work? … If your testimony causes people to become negative and stray from God, then it is not testimony. Your work opposes God, it is the work of Satan; it is the work that opposes God” (“Questions & Answers” in Sermons and Fellowship III). When I heard this I suddenly came to realize that doggedly exposing myself and talking about the revelation of my own corruption was not exalting and testifying to God; true testimony and exaltation of God doesn’t just involve talking about coming to know your own corrupt substance whilst experiencing God’s work of judgment and chastisement; what’s more important is saying something about your positive practice and entry. For example: What truths you have come to know, what you have come to know about God, what effects God’s work has had in you, what changes there have been in your old disposition, and so on. If you genuinely speak of these aspects of experience and knowledge, through the actual experiences that you fellowship you will allow the brothers and sisters to attain the knowledge of God, and to see that God’s work really can save people and change them, thus producing in them true faith toward God, and, at the same time, giving them a path of practice and entry, and informing them of how to satisfy God, and how to enter the reality of God’s words. Only this is truly exalting and testifying to God, and only such testimony can bring shame upon Satan. My understanding of exalting and testifying to God, on the other hand, had been too one-sided, too absurd. I thought that saying more about my own corruption before the brothers and sisters, so that they thought little of me, was exalting and testifying to God. I thought that talking about my positive aspects of entry was exalting and testifying to myself. How stupid I was! At this point, I can’t help but think about my practice and the effect of exalting and testifying to God.
One time, I remember how a sister who was hosting me said, “You leaders have given up your families and careers to perform your duty away from home, you have suffered much hardship, experienced many things, and come to understand many truths. In all of you, there has been some entry and change. But staying in home, I am too constrained by the flesh, the times when my heart is at peace before God are too few, I understand too few truths, and there has been no change in me. I’d love to be like you.” Hearing this, I thought to myself, “I must exalt and testify to God, I must fellowship my own corruption, and not speak of my own changes, or else this sister will hold me in high regard.” As a result, I made sure to speak of how, in the past, I was arrogant and disobedient of the church’s arrangements when performing my duty, of how I was incapable of getting along with my brothers and sisters, of how much of what I said was tainted with untruth, of how I tried to deceive and harbor suspicion about people…. After hearing my fellowship, the sister said, “I thought you had all changed more or less completely—but it turns out that you, too, haven’t changed. Huh! None of you have changed, which makes me even worse.” After that, though the sister no longer held me in high regard and did not look up to me, she became negative as a result, and thought she had no hope of salvation. Once, during assembly, I talked to the brothers and sisters of one aspect of my corruption: how I had conceptions about God. I talked only about how I had conceptions about God, not about how I solved these conceptions, and it turned out that the brothers and sisters hadn’t had such conceptions, yet they did after hearing my fellowship. And so on. Such was the effect of my supposed exaltation and testimony to God. The exaltation and testimony to God that I practiced not only didn’t testify to the authority and majesty of God’s words, but instead gave the brothers and sisters doubts and conceptions about God’s work of saving, changing, and perfecting people; they lost faith in salvation, nor did they have the motivation to pursue the truth or the resolve to actively cooperate. The exaltation and testimony to God that I practiced did not testify to people of the kindness, loveliness, and righteousness of God, it did not testify of God’s benevolent intentions in saving man, showing people God’s love, and allowing them to know God; instead, there were produced in the brothers and sisters conceptions and misunderstandings about God, and they lived in the wrong state. How was I exalting and testifying to God? I was simply spreading negativity and releasing death. In essence, I was hurting people and bringing destruction upon them. Although, from the outside, it didn’t seem as if I had done anything obviously evil, the essence of my actions was in opposition to God, it was sowing disaffection in people’s relationship with God, it was an attack on the positivity of the brothers and sisters, and it caused them to stray from God. I was committing evil, pure and simple! This is truly despised and hated by God!
Thanks be to God for enlightening me as to what it is to truly exalt and testify to God, for allowing me to know just how absurd my own understanding of the exaltation and testimony to God was, for allowing me to see that in essence, my supposed exaltation and testimony to God were grievous resistance toward God. If I had carried on like that, ultimately all that would have happened to me is that I would have been eliminated and punished because I had served God but resisted Him. Starting from that day, I aspired to turn around my absurd means of practice; when I fellowshiped about knowing myself, I must speak more of the path to positive entry, and of testimony to experiencing and practicing God’s words. I must testify to all that I have come to know—so that, with the help of my experiences and knowledge, the brothers and sisters could understand the will of God, be able to experience the work of God, and attain the knowledge of God, truly bringing them before God.