Meeting the Lord Again
I was born into a Catholic family, and from an early age my mother taught me to read the Bible. At the time, the Chinese Communist Party was re-building the nation after the civil war, and as the CCP 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 according to how they have acted and behaved on earth. The biggest sinners will be punished in hell eternally, 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.” Whenever I heard this, I always congratulated myself for having the good fortune to be a member of the Catholic congregation from birth. I’d always tell myself to pursue hard, attend Mass more, and confess sins and repent to the Lord more, and that way I’d go to heaven and not suffer in hell. So that’s when I developed the determination to go to church and participate in Mass regularly. At that time, the priest also told us that in 2000 the Lord would return, and this news made us all very excited. So we all began to pursue earnestly, waiting for 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 church for Mass. I also felt a sense of loss, but I still felt that my faith in the Lord wouldn’t be shaken, no matter what others did. That was mainly because there had been many times when I’d been in danger and the Lord had protected me and made the danger disappear. Without the Lord’s protection I’d have died long ago, so I wasn’t going to be so ungrateful as to lose faith in the Lord.
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 whole family and I 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 and we didn’t know anyone. The environment and climate were very different from what I was used to in China, and my body soon began to complain. I often felt weak and listless, but the doctors in the hospital 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 that the Lord would protect me. I prayed more and began looking for a church where I could do Mass and eventually found a church 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. Faced with this kind of situation in the church, I became very disappointed. I thought to myself: “Oh Lord, when will You return? When You return, good people will be separated from wicked people 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, and this made me disappointed and depressed and affected my faith in the Lord. But then 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 is expressing words and doing the work of judgment of the last days! Hurry back so that we can accept God’s new work together.” On hearing this, I couldn’t help but be a bit suspicious: The Lord has returned? How is that possible? When the Lord returns to judge the world the good people will be separated from the bad people. But right now the good and the bad are still mixed together, so why is my wife saying that the Lord has returned? Has my wife joined another denomination? We’ve been Catholics for most of our lives, there’s no way we’re going to deviate now! So I hurriedly finished off the job I was doing and returned home.
When I got home I asked my wife: “How do you know that the Lord has returned? You haven’t deviated from our Catholic beliefs, have you? You’re saying that the Lord has returned to do the work of judgment, but right now the good people and the bad people are still mixed together so how can the Lord have already returned? We can look forward to the Lord’s return, but we can’t be disloyal to Him!” My wife listened to me and then patiently replied: “Don’t get so agitated. I only just found out myself about the Lord’s return. At present, The Church of Almighty God is bearing witness to the Lord’s return and Almighty God is expressing truths to do the work of judgment that has begun in God’s house. I’m not clear about the specifics of what’s happening, but I’ve been reading online a lot of the words that Almighty God has expressed 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’ (Jhn 10:27). We can find out whether Almighty God is the returned Lord by going to The Church of Almighty God to investigate, right?” What my wife said sounded reasonable, and the Lord’s return to do the work of judgment is something that is predicted in the Bible, so 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.
To this end, my wife and I arranged to visit the home of one of the members of The Church of Almighty God, a man known as Brother Zhang. Brother Wang and 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: “Regarding the return of the Lord my understanding is this: When the Lord returns to do the work of judgment, the good people will be separated from the wicked people. Then the good people will be accepted into heaven by the Lord and will meet 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, my viewpoint used to be the same as yours in that I also believed 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 and isn’t the actual way that God works. How God undertakes the work of judgment in the last days is something that God alone plans and organizes. God’s wisdom is higher than 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? With whom hath he consulted, and who hath instructed him, and taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and shewed him the way of understanding? 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’ (Isa 40:13-15). Every one of us uses our brains to think, so we can speculate about God’s work as we like but God never does His work according to our imaginings. If we use our imaginings to set parameters for God’s work then aren’t we behaving extremely arrogantly? So, 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…. 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 idea that God’s work of judgment is directly to separate the wheat from the tares, the goats from the sheep, the good servants from the wicked servants, in other words, separating the good people from the wicked and putting each with its own kind. But if we think about it, 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 distinguish good from bad, righteous from evil? If God determines that you are good and that I’m evil, I definitely won’t go along with it 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 definitely won’t go along with it. 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 gauge us like this we certainly wouldn’t submit and would have notions about it, such as thinking that God was unfair and unjust. So how could the work of putting each with its own kind thus proceed? The Lord that returns during the last days is Christ of the last days—Almighty God—who uses truths to do the work of judgment. For all Christians, revealing who are the wheat, who are the tares, who are the goats, who are the sheep, who are the good servants, who are the wicked servants, who are the wise virgins, who are the foolish virgins, is all done by using truths. God’s words reveal everyone, and the wise virgins are those who truly believe in God and love the truth. When they hear that someone is testifying to God’s coming they go out to welcome it and actively investigate God’s words and God’s work. They recognize God’s voice and accept God’s work of the last days, and in the end they gain purification and salvation through God’s judgment. During great catastrophes they have God’s protection and are able to survive, and finally are taken into God’s kingdom. By contrast, because the foolish virgins do not love the truth, because they insist on holding onto their own notions and imaginings or believing in rumors, because 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—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 catastrophes. From this, we can see 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 revealing people, and the final result is that everyone is thoroughly revealed and put with their own kind according to whether they accept the truth or resist the truth. Isn’t this exactly God’s wisdom, God’s fairness, God’s righteousness?”
After listening to Almighty God’s words and Brother Wang’s fellowship, I recalled what the priest in our church had said about “When the Lord comes good people will be separated from the bad people” and realized that this notion is just too vague, too impractical, and doesn’t match the reality of God’s work at all. We all live in sin, we continuously commit sins and repent without being able to escape from this cycle, so who are the truly good people? When the Lord returns, if we haven’t been cleansed of our sins, will we be allowed to enter the kingdom of heaven? Thinking of this was like turning on a light in my heart, and I thanked the Lord for His leadership. My visit hadn’t been in vain, because now I understood that God distinguishes good from evil according to how people treat the truth. In other words, people are good or evil depending on whether or not they accept and obey the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, and this is God’s righteousness being wholly manifested. God employs words and work to separate the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats, the wise virgins from the foolish virgins, the true believers from the fake believers, and the lovers of the truth from the haters of the truth. God is so incredibly wise! However, I also recalled the priest saying that when the Lord returns to judge people He does it one by one, and each individual’s sins are also listed and judged one by one, before He decides if the individual will go to heaven or to hell. But now Almighty God is saying that God’s work of judgment of the last days is being done through His words, so just how are these words being used to judge people?
So I raised this question with the group and Brother Zhang answered it by reading two passages of Almighty God’s words to me: “Some believe that God may sometime come to earth and appear to man, whereupon He shall personally judge the whole of mankind, testing them one by one without anyone being omitted. Those who think in this way do not know this stage of work of incarnation. God does not judge man one by one, and does not test man one by one; to do thus would not be the work of judgment. Is not the corruption of all mankind the same? Is not the substance of man all the same? What is judged is mankind’s corrupt substance, man’s substance corrupted by Satan, and all the sins of man. God does not judge the trifling and insignificant faults of man. … but judges the unrighteousness of the whole of mankind—man’s opposition to God, for example, or man’s irreverence against Him, or disturbance of the work of God, and so on. What is judged is mankind’s substance of opposition to God, and this work is the work of conquest of the last days” (“Corrupt Mankind Is More in Need of the Salvation of God Become Flesh” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “In the last days, Christ uses a variety of truths to teach man, expose the essence of man, and dissect his words and deeds. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out the normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the essence of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, those words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with just a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes it over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth that man does not possess at all. Only methods of this kind are deemed judgment” (“Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Brother Zhang then fellowshiped this with me: “We have the notion that during God’s work of judgment of the last days He will call each and every person to come before His white throne and then will judge them. Every person will have to kneel on the ground and then confess to every single one of their sins committed throughout their lifetime. Then God will decide whether each person will go to heaven or to hell depending upon the severity of their sins. We think that God judges people according to sins such as physically or verbally abusing people, not being filial to parents, stealing and robbing, etc. But in fact God’s work of judgment of the last days is not concerned with these external behaviors or character flaws that we have but instead is aimed at judging mankind’s satanic nature of resisting God and each of the corrupt dispositions. These include our arrogance and self-conceit, our crookedness and craftiness, our selfishness and baseness, our greed and evil, etc. We also have many viewpoints that are not compatible with God, many outdated religious notions and feudal thinking. These things are all sources of our resistance to God. They are problems that are common to all of corrupt mankind, and so are the things that God’s work of judgment aims to purify and transform. So, the words that God expresses reveal mankind’s nature and essence and every corrupt person on earth is a part of this, without exception. Or to put it another way, God’s words are directed at the whole of mankind and so there is no need to judge people individually. By reading the words of Almighty God and accepting the judgment and chastisement of God’s words we can understand many truths and clearly see our nature, substance, and real situation of our being corrupted by Satan. Doing this will also allow us to recognize God’s righteous disposition and develop hearts that revere God and despise ourselves so that we’ll be willing to betray our flesh and practice truths. In this way, our corrupt satanic disposition will gradually be purified and our viewpoints and outlook on life will also change. When we start to live by God’s words, when we cease to oppose and resist God and instead really obey and revere God and shun evil, then we will gain God’s salvation and become people who are compatible with God’s intentions. This is the actual situation with, and purpose of, God expressing truths to do the work of judgment during the last days.”
After listening to Brother Zhang’s fellowship, I came to feel that God’s work of judgment is just so practical and based in reality! I was able to accept what he said, and it resonated with me deep in my heart. Yes, people are arrogant, they seek fame and fortune and status, and they live in their various corrupt dispositions. God uses the judgment of His words to rid us of all of the filth and corruption inside of us. Our nature of resisting God is thus resolved and our corrupt disposition is transformed, and we become truly good people. Looking at it this way, I could see that this idea that the priest talked about of people being judged individually and sins being judged one by one when the Lord returns to judge mankind is just human notions and imaginings and has nothing to do with the way God actually does His work. Almighty God’s words really do contain truths; they really are the voice of God! What I heard on that day made me decide to thoroughly examine the work of Almighty God.
During my investigations, I watched a number of gospel movies produced by The Church of Almighty God, including The Days of Noah Have Come, The Mystery of Godliness, and Caught the Last Train, as well as some hymn videos of God’s word such as How Important God’s Love for Man Is. I also read a lot of Almighty God’s words and listened to the brothers and sisters fellowshiping about all aspects of the truth. This helped me to verify that Almighty God is indeed the returned Lord Jesus! Almighty God is the one true God and is the returned Lord that we have been waiting for! I was so happy to accept Almighty God’s work of the last days.
Since believing in Almighty God I’ve often been getting together with the brothers and sisters or listening to sermons with them, and now every day I feel happy and feel that I’m gaining spiritual sustenance. I’m enjoying the comfort that comes from the work of the Holy Spirit, and I’m starting to understand more and more truths. In The Church of Almighty God, the brothers and sisters are all familiar and honest with each other, and nobody tries to deceive anyone else or keeps their guard up. Everybody is simple, open and sincere, and even when they reveal their corrupt dispositions they are each able to know themselves through God’s words and seek truths to resolve their corrupt dispositions. To me, they are true Christian brothers and sisters. What especially impresses me are the hymn videos, music videos, dance and song videos, gospel movies, etc. produced by The Church of Almighty God, which all hold the truth in the highest esteem and bear witness to God and God’s work of the last days. The purpose of all these productions is to help people to submit to God, worship God, and the church really does feel like a place where God does His work! What I’ve seen, heard, and experienced is proof for my heart that The Church of Almighty God is a true church where God personally nurtures and shepherds His flock. The fact that I’ve been able to enter God’s house and live a life face-to-face with God means that I’ve been exceptionally exalted by God. I really am so fortunate! Thank You, Almighty God!