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Gospel Reader

Reunited With the Lord

476

By Jianding, United States

I was born into a Catholic family, and from an early age my mother taught me to read the Bible. That was during the time the Chinese Communist Party was building up the nation after the civil war, and since the CCP government was suppressing all religions, I was 20 years old before I finally got the chance to go to church and listen to sermons. The priest often said to us: “We Catholics must properly confess our sins and repent. We must do good, not evil, and always go to Mass. During the last days, the Lord is going to come and judge everyone and send people to heaven or to hell based on their behavior. The greatest sinners will suffer eternal punishment in hell, whereas those who commit minor sins can still go to heaven as long as they confess their sins to the Lord and repent. Anyone who doesn’t believe in the Lord will never get to heaven, no matter how good they are.” When I heard this, I rejoiced that I had the good fortune to be born into the Catholic faith. I told myself to be serious in my seeking, attend Mass more often, and confess my sins and repent to the Lord more so that I could go to heaven and not suffer in hell. That’s when I developed the determination to go to church and participate in Mass regularly. The priest also told us then that the Lord would return in the year 2000—we were all elated to hear that, and we all became very earnest in our pursuit, awaiting the Lord’s return. But the year 2000 came and went and we didn’t see any sign of the Lord’s return. Many in our congregation lost their faith, and fewer and fewer people attended Mass. I also felt a sense of disappointment, but I still felt that my faith in the Lord wouldn’t be shaken, no matter what others did. That was because there had been many times when I’d been in danger when the Lord had protected me and I had emerged safely. If it hadn’t been for the Lord’s protection I’d have died long before, so I wasn’t going to be so ungrateful as to lose faith in the Lord.

Meeting the Lord Again

In the following years I heard from people around me that the USA was “heaven on earth,” and so a strong desire to come here grew in me. In December 2014 my entire family immigrated to the U.S., but the reality of life here was nothing like the beautiful picture I’d painted in my mind. At first, everything in the U.S. seemed unfamiliar—we were strangers in a strange land. The environment and climate were very different from what I was used to in China, and I soon began to suffer some physical complaints. I often felt weak and listless, completely devoid of energy, but when I went to see doctors they couldn’t find anything wrong with me. I was at my wit’s end, so I started praying even more sincerely to the Lord, hoping to gain His protection. While keeping up my prayers I began looking for a church where I could attend Mass and eventually found one for Chinese Christians. But after going to the church a few times I discovered that it wasn’t much different from what was going on in everyday society: Members of the congregation were superficially friendly but their interactions were governed by power and money. Seeing this situation in the church was really disappointing for me. I thought to myself: “Oh Lord, when will You return? When You return, the good will be separated from the wicked and the world will be cleansed.” Although I still kept on going to Mass I was never able to feel God’s presence in the church; this left me frequently feeling disappointed and depressed, and it impacted my faith.

One day in July 2015 when I was working out of state, I got a phone call from my wife. She said to me excitedly: “The Lord has returned. He has uttered words and is doing the work of judgment of the last days! Hurry back so that we can accept God’s new work together.” Hearing this, I couldn’t help but feel a bit suspicious. I thought: “The Lord has returned? How is that possible? When the Lord returns it will be to judge the world, and to separate the good from the evil. But now the good and the evil are still mixed together, so why is my wife saying that the Lord has returned? Does she have a different belief system now? We’ve been Catholics for most of our lives, there’s no way we can stray from this path now!” So I finished up my work as quickly as I could and returned home.

Upon returning I asked my wife: “How do you know that the Lord has returned? You haven’t strayed from the path, have you? You’re saying that the Lord has returned to do the work of judgment, but right now the good and the evil are still mixed together, so how could it be that the Lord has already returned? We may long for the Lord’s return, but we can’t be disloyal to Him!” She heard me out and then patiently replied: “It’s okay, don’t worry. I only just found out myself about the Lord’s return. The Church of Almighty God is now bearing witness to the Lord’s return and Almighty God is expressing truths to do the work of judgment beginning with the house of God. I’m not clear on the specifics, but I’ve been reading a lot of the words that Almighty God has expressed online and I’m sure that they are all the voice of God. The Lord once said: ‘My sheep hear my voice: and I know them, and they follow me’ (John 10:27). We can find out whether Almighty God is the returned Lord by going to The Church of Almighty God together to look into it, right?” What my wife said sounded reasonable, and the Lord’s return to do the work of judgment is in line with biblical prophecies, so I figured there was no harm in me going along with her to the church to take a look, and then I could make up my mind.

Meeting the Lord Again

So, my wife and I went to the home of Brother Zhang, one of the members of The Church of Almighty God. Brother Wang, Sister Li, and some other fellow Catholics also came. Seeing that I had plenty of company greatly put my mind at ease. After a little polite chit-chat we all sat down and I asked the brothers and sisters this: “My understanding of the Lord’s return is this: When He returns to do the work of judgment, the good will be separated from the wicked, and then the good people will be accepted into heaven by the Lord and will meet with Him, while the wicked will be sent to hell and punished. You say that the Lord has returned and He is doing the work of judgment, so how come we haven’t seen any of these things happening?” Brother Wang replied: “Brother, I used to think the same thing. I also thought that the Lord’s return meant that good people would be separated from wicked people, that good people would live in heaven eternally and the wicked would be punished, and that if we didn’t see this happen then that proved that the Lord hadn’t returned. But after reading Almighty God’s words I realized that is only our notions and imaginings—it isn’t the reality of God’s work. God’s way of undertaking the work of judgment in the last days is something that God alone plans and organizes. God’s wisdom surpasses the heavens, and in God’s eyes humans are as small as a speck of dust, so how can we fathom God’s work? In the Bible it says: ‘Who hath forwarded the spirit of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor, and hath taught him?’ (Isaiah 40:13). ‘Behold the Gentiles are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the smallest grain of a balance: behold the islands are as a little dust’ (Isaiah 40:15). Every one of us has thoughts in our heads, so we can speculate about God’s work as we like, but God never does His work according to what we imagine. If we use our imaginations to delimit God’s work, isn’t that extremely arrogant? So then, how does God do His work of judgment? How does He separate the good from the wicked? Let’s read several passages of Almighty God’s words to help us understand. Almighty God said: ‘The work of judgment is God’s own work, so it should naturally be done by God Himself; it cannot be done by man in His stead. Because judgment is the conquering of the human race through the truth, there is no question that God would still appear in the incarnate image to perform this work among man. That is to say, in the last days, Christ shall use the truth to teach men around the earth and make all truths known to them. This is God’s work of judgment’ (“Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). ‘The last days have already arrived. All things in creation will be classed according to their kind, and divided into different categories based on their nature. This is the moment when God reveals humanity’s outcome and their destination. If people do not undergo chastisement and judgment, then there will be no way of exposing their disobedience and unrighteousness. Only through chastisement and judgment can the outcome of all creation be revealed. Man only shows his true colors when he is chastised and judged. Evil shall be put with evil, good with good, and all humanity shall be classified according to their kind. Through chastisement and judgment, the outcome of all creation will be revealed, so that the evil may be punished and the good rewarded, and all people become subject to the dominion of God. All this work must be achieved through righteous chastisement and judgment. Because man’s corruption has reached its peak and his disobedience become exceedingly severe, only God’s righteous disposition, one that is principally compounded of chastisement and judgment and is revealed during the last days, can fully transform and complete man. Only this disposition can expose evil and thus severely punish all the unrighteous’ (“The Vision of God’s Work (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). ‘My purpose in doing the work of conquest is not solely to conquer for the sake of conquest, but to conquer so as to reveal righteousness and unrighteousness, to obtain proof for the punishment of man, to condemn the wicked, and even more, to conquer for the sake of perfecting those who willingly obey. In the end, all will be separated according to kind, and all the ones who are perfected have their thoughts and ideas filled with obedience. This is the work to be completed in the end. But those who are filled with rebellious ways will be punished, sent to burn in the fires and become the object of eternal curse’ (“Those Who Obey God With a True Heart Shall Surely Be Gained by God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). We have the notion that God coming to do the work of judgment is to directly separate the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats, the good servants from the wicked servants. In other words, it is to classify all people according to their kind. But if we give it some thought, there are at present over 2 billion Christians around the world—and they all say they have true faith in God and love God—so how are we to discern good from bad, righteous from evil? If God determines that you are good and that I’m evil, I’ll certainly have an issue with that because I’ll feel that I’m also a good person. If God determines that I’m good and that someone else is evil, they’ll have an issue with it too. So how on earth are we supposed to know who is good and who is evil? We can’t, because we humans don’t have the principles or standards to gauge this. If God were to determine things this way we certainly wouldn’t submit and would have notions about it, believing God to be unfair and unjust. So how could the work of classifying each according to his own kind thus proceed? The Lord who has returned in the last days, that is, Christ of the last days—Almighty God—uses truths to do the work of judgment. For all Christians, who are the wheat and who are the tares, who are the goats and who are the sheep, who are the good servants and who are the wicked servants, who are the wise virgins and who are the foolish virgins, is all revealed through the truth, through God’s words. The wise virgins are those who truly believe in God and love the truth. When they hear that someone is bearing testimony of God’s coming they go out to welcome it and actively investigate God’s words and work. They recognize God’s voice and accept His work of the last days, and they will ultimately gain purification and full salvation through God’s judgment. They will have God’s protection through the great disasters and will remain, and in the end will be taken into God’s kingdom. By contrast, the foolish virgins do not love the truth, they insist on holding onto their own notions and imaginings or believing in rumors. They don’t seek or investigate God’s work of the last days, and some of them even follow religious leaders in resisting and condemning God and refusing God’s salvation of the last days. For all of these reasons, they will be revealed as evildoers by God’s work of the last days and will be eliminated. Their fate will be to suffer punishments during the great disasters. We can see from this that God’s work of putting each with its own kind during the last days is not done according to our notions and imaginings. Instead, God uses the method of judgment to do the work of exposing people, and the ultimate outcome is that everyone is thoroughly revealed and sorted according to their own kind based on whether they accept or resist the truth. Isn’t this exactly God’s wisdom, God’s fairness, God’s righteousness?”

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