This Is How I Welcomed the Lord
When I was six years old my mother believed in the Lord Jesus, and she would often bring me to church gatherings. I slowly became aware of the fact that man was created by God, that if we are in trouble we should pray to God and rely on God, and that we should thank God for everything. My mother told me: “God loves people, so long as we pray to God and entrust Him with what’s on our mind and truly rely on Him, then He will solve our problems and bestow us with bountiful grace. As long as we truly believe in the Lord then He will come in the future to receive us into the kingdom of heaven!” Listening to mother’s words, my heart felt at peace and free from anxiety, I felt like I had something to rely on, and I firmly believed that one day the Lord Jesus would return to bring us into the kingdom of heaven. I looked forward to and dreamed of the arrival of this day.
Later on, because of unforeseen events in my life, I started working at a clothing factory in my hometown before graduating from junior high school. At the factory, since I was young and had a particularly introverted personality, I didn’t dare to take the initiative to talk with people, and I would often be bullied by my coworkers. My mother would often explain to me: “We are believers in the Lord, no matter what happens to us in the world we must learn to exercise patience, we must do everything according to the word of the Lord, we cannot quarrel with others….” I took mother’s words to heart, so I told myself to show patience and tolerance in all things. Sometimes I would encounter a situation that I felt was really unfair, and there would be a lot of pain in my heart, but any time this happened, I would hum the hymn “Lord, You Are My Closest Friend,” and I would tell the Lord about the pain I was feeling. I felt that only the Lord was my closest friend, and if today I practiced my faith in the Lord and relied on Him then in the future I’d be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whenever I had these kinds of thoughts I wouldn’t feel so much pain in my heart. Thanks be to the Lord, for I have leaned on these convictions to get through these past many years.
In 2013, right when I turned 21, I left the clothing factory to find work in a big city. There was a kind of strangeness in everything in this place. Every morning I would face the throngs of people and unending flow of cars. It took a great effort just to squeeze onto a bus and rush to work, and then I would be constantly busy working up until lunch time, where I would always scarf something down and then get right back to work. I toiled like this for a month but after my daily expenses I didn’t really have any spending money left over. Facing this kind of life pressure made me feel bitter, like I had been wronged, and I couldn’t help but complain: Everyone else lives so naturally and unrestrained, why is it that I’m so worn out? When will days like this come to an end? I felt deeply that life in the big city was not at all as good as how I imagined it would be, this fast-paced life was stifling, and it gave me little time to get close to God. Every time I would get a call from home, my mother would never forget to remind me: “Sweetheart, you must be sure to pray to the Lord often…. You must remember, the Lord will soon come to receive us and bring us into the kingdom of heaven.” I kept my mother’s words in my heart, looking forward to the Lord arriving soon to receive us and bring us into the kingdom of heaven.
In 2014 I got an opportunity to go to Japan for work, and I hoped to be able to complete my three-year contract over there. As soon as I got to Japan everything around me felt so new and odd, but over time I discovered that life here was not as good as back home. At work in the factory I would often be scolded, and there was also a language barrier. Among my coworkers there was constant infighting, everyone was ambitious and aggressive, and everyone vied to show off in front of the boss. What was even more difficult for me to accept was that some of my coworkers were double-tongued, they would act one way in front of people and then another way behind their backs, so I was often being deceived and judged. Because we were spurred on in the name of self-interest, there were no feelings between us, I didn’t have true friends, it was our own interests above all else. For the sake of our own interests, friendships could be calculated and close relatives could be betrayed, everything could be set aside, and this made me feel like the world was so desolate. I really wanted to get away from them, but in reality I had no choice but to accept this way of living. As the saying goes, “survival of the fittest,” I had no choice, and after a while I learned what to say to the people I saw. In order to have good relations, I would accompany them to KTV and to bars. I saw that the people around me were all vying for their own interests and fighting for fame and fortune. They would even quarrel nonstop about the little things in life like paying utilities. Living in this kind of environment, I too didn’t want to be at a disadvantage, so I lived with no regard for others, I didn’t show tolerance or patience toward others, and I absolutely did not practice the Lord’s teachings. In this foreign land I didn’t have any close relatives, and I didn’t have any true friends, so I felt lonely, and I gradually discovered that I didn’t feel the Lord by my side through my prayers. This brought me even more sorrow, and often when I got off work I’d lock myself in my room without eating or speaking to anyone else. I’d sit on the floor, shedding tears in silence. At that time I felt that there was not a single person in this world who sincerely cared for me, my life had no significance, and I even thought about committing suicide, but I didn’t have the courage to go through with it. Every time that I felt lost in a situation I always thought about the Lord’s promise to us, that He would come receive us and bring us back to the heavenly home, and I thought that maybe this place that the Lord was preparing for us was the only true pure land, and I really wanted that day to arrive soon!
Just when I started to feel the plight of solitude and suffering, Guo, a new coworker of mine, spread the gospel of Almighty God in the last days to me. She told me that the Lord Jesus has returned, and that He is carrying out the work of judging man and cleansing man. When I heard this news my heart jumped, but I also felt like I couldn’t dare accept it to be true. It excited me that the Lord had returned, it felt like I could once again see hope in my life, but I couldn’t dare accept it to be true. Could it be true? I had always looked forward to the Lord coming, but the Lord never came. I had originally thought that I would wait my entire life without the Lord coming, but now I’ve heard all of a sudden that the Lord has returned. This astonished me, it was hard to believe. Seeing my suspicion and astonishment, Guo said to me: “God has been incarnated as the Son of man to appear on earth and carry out His work, and He is called by a new name, Almighty God.” After telling me this she handed me a copy of Classic Words of Almighty God on the Gospel of the Kingdom (Selections), and told me that the words in this book were spoken by God Himself, and that they are the truth expressed by Almighty God enabling mankind to be cleansed and attain salvation. She gave it to me to take home and read carefully. Seeing how sincere she was, I accepted the book from her. Since I do not want to miss the opportunity of welcoming the Lord’s arrival, I decided to carefully investigate the work of Almighty God in the last days.
As I read Classic Words of Almighty God on the Gospel of the Kingdom (Selections) I thought to myself: I never heard about the word of God being anywhere besides the Bible, what is being written about in this book? I opened the book with a heart that carried both impatience and curiosity, and I read this passage: “Many of those who follow God are only concerned with how to gain blessings or avoid disaster. At the mention of the work and management of God, they fall silent and lose all interest. They believe that knowing such tedious questions will not grow their lives or be of any benefit, and so although they have heard messages about the management of God, they treat them casually. And they do not see them as something precious to be accepted, much less do they receive them as part of their lives. Such people have one very simple aim in following God: to gain blessing, and they are too lazy to attend to anything that doesn’t involve this aim. For them, believing in God to gain blessings is the most legitimate of goals and the very value of their faith. They are unaffected by anything that cannot achieve this objective. Such is the case with most of those who believe in God today” (“Man Can Only Be Saved Amidst the Management of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). When I read this passage I felt a painful heat on my face, as if I’d been slapped, and I was at a loss for what to do. I felt that the words spoken by Almighty God were very harsh, and also very blunt. These words hit the nail on the head with my intentions and viewpoints these past many years regarding my faith in God. Until now I thought that to believe in God was to receive blessings and grace, that when something was the matter we can turn to God to seek and request things from Him, and that God ought to bestow such things to man free of charge. I also thought that if I believe in God then isn’t God’s blessing something that I ought to have? I thought this over carefully, if God didn’t promise that I would go to heaven and obtain eternal life, then I certainly would not believe in Him. It was in this moment that I finally recognized that my viewpoint of faith in God was incorrect, and that it did not conform to the will of God, but I didn’t understand what the proper viewpoint of faith in God was, and at the same time I still had doubts: If Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus, then why hasn’t He raptured me into the kingdom of heaven?
Later on, when I met with brothers and sisters from The Church of Almighty God I looked to them for answers to these two questions. Sister Huixin fellowshiped to me: “God created mankind, He gave us the air we breathe, and He gave us life. In order to allow us to live an even better existence, He gave us everything. We are breathing air created by God, enjoying sunshine and rain given to us by God and eating meals with all kinds of fruits and vegetables given to us by God. We are creatures, it is proper and right to believe in God and worship God. It’s just like children being obedient to their parents. We should not emphasize conditions or try to make deals, nor should we demand God’s grace and blessing. No matter whether we receive blessings or misfortune we should always believe in God and worship God. This is how it was with Job, it was because of his faith that he received blessings, but it was also because of his faith that he came across trials and calamities, but he was always able to praise God, so Job’s faith attained the praise of God.” Through this sister’s fellowship I finally came to some understanding of how man was created by God, how believing in God is proper and right, how it’s just like children being obedient to their parents, how we shouldn’t emphasize conditions, and how no matter whether or not God blesses us, we should always believe in God and worship God. Thinking about these things, I said to the sister: “I’m willing to set aside my conceptions to examine Almighty God’s word and work.” Sister Guo replied: “Thanks be to God! As long as we thirst to seek in our hearts, God will enlighten and guide us, allowing us to see His appearance in the word of God. On The Church of Almighty God’s website you can read more of the word of God and there are also gospel videos and music videos….” As she was saying this she opened the Gospel of the Descent of Kingdom web page and had me look at the content on The Church of Almighty God’s website. I was pleasantly surprised: Wow! There were so many videos and movies! They even had collections of the word of God and hymn videos of God’s word, and testimony articles of brothers and sisters…. It really was abundant, a feast for the eyes. I didn’t know where to start. As I was browsing the web page, one movie—Awakening From the Dream—really caught my attention, and its content really was great. This film remains fresh in my memory to this day. The main character, holding on to her childhood dream of entering the kingdom of heaven through her faith in the Lord, followed the Lord, working for the Lord, spending and sacrificing for Him, but when the Lord returned to express the truth and carry out the work of judgment in the last days, she held on to her convictions and did not accept God’s new work, holding on to her dream of being raptured into the kingdom of heaven. Through fellowships about the truth by sisters from The Church of Almighty God, she came to understand the mystery behind being raptured into the kingdom of heaven, and recognized that she herself was a Pharisee, that she believed in the Lord but did not welcome Him or submit to Him, and that she even resisted His arrival. Through the judgment and chastisement of God’s word, she set aside her convictions and truly turned to God to repent, shedding tears of indebtedness and guilt. This film is so real! I thought about my own experience, how I also had a childhood dream of the kingdom of heaven, and how I had imagined that one day I would wear pure white robes, grow a pair of wings and be able to fly anywhere I wanted to…. For the sake of this dream there have been so many Christians who have looked forward to the day when the Lord will come to rapture them into the kingdom of heaven, but none of them realized that this was just the dream of man, and not the actual situation of God coming to rapture us into the kingdom of heaven, because to actually be raptured means to accept God’s work in the last days and come to God!
In this film there is a scene where Sister Yang says: “Let’s read some words from Almighty God, ‘At the time Jesus’ work was the redemption of all mankind. The sins of all who believed in Him were forgiven; as long as you believed in Him, He would redeem you; if you believed in Him, you were no longer a sinner, you were relieved of your sins. This is what it meant to be saved, and to be justified by faith. Yet in those who believed, there remained that which was rebellious and opposed God, and which still had to be slowly removed. Salvation did not mean man had been completely gained by Jesus, but that man was no longer of sin, that he had been forgiven his sins: Provided you believed, you would never more be of sin’ (‘The Vision of God’s Work (2)’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh). ‘Before man was redeemed, many of Satan’s poisons were already planted within him. After thousands of years of Satan’s corruption, man already has within him a nature that resists God. Therefore, when man has been redeemed, it is nothing more than redemption, where man is bought at a high price, but the poisonous nature within has not been eliminated. Man that is so defiled must undergo a change before being worthy to serve God. Through this work of judgment and chastisement, man will fully come to know the filthy and corrupt substance within him, and he will be able to completely change and become clean. Only in this way can man be worthy to return before the throne of God. … Though man has been redeemed and forgiven of his sins, it is only considered as God not remembering the transgressions of man and not treating man in accordance with man’s transgressions. However, when man lives in the flesh and he has not been set free from sin, he can only continue to sin, endlessly revealing the corrupt satanic disposition. This is the life that man leads, an endless cycle of sin and forgiveness. The majority of men sin in the day only to confess in the evening. As such, even if the sin offering is forever effective for man, it would not be able to save man from sin. Only half the work of salvation has been completed, for man still has corrupt disposition’ (‘The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh). These words of God really explain it quite clearly with no doubt. They’re so easy to understand! In the Age of Grace, Lord Jesus only did redemptive work. Man’s sins were forgiven. They were justified and saved by faith. But Lord Jesus never said that man could enter His kingdom this way. That’s because Lord Jesus had forgiven man’s sins, but not mankind’s satanic nature. Arrogance and deceit, selfishness, and evil, all these corruptions still exist within us today. And these are much deeper and more stubborn than sins. If our satanic nature of opposing God and our corruption remain unresolved, we could still commit sins not of our own volition, even worse, sins than simply violating the laws of God. We ask: Why did the Pharisees condemn the Lord Jesus and stand against Him, even nail Him to the cross? This proves to us that with man’s satanic nature, they can still disobey God, sin, and betray Him.”
Through listening to this passage from the video, I came to understand that accepting the Lord Jesus’ salvation only absolves us of our sins, it does not enable us to escape from our sinful nature, and this is the reason why once we have faith in the Lord, even if we often confess our sins and repent, we still frequently commit sins. This is because God’s work in the Age of Grace only absolved man of his sins and saved man by his faith, but there is still not a path for how to escape from our sins and be cleansed, it is still necessary for God to carry out a stage of work to eliminate our sins, only then will we be able to completely escape from the binds of our sins and be cleansed and attain salvation. I thought about myself and how if I hadn’t read Almighty God’s words of judgment and chastisement and seen God reveal man’s erroneous viewpoints on faith in God, then I wouldn’t have recognized that my intention and viewpoint to believe in God just to receive blessings were mistaken, I wouldn’t have been able to see my own corruption, I wouldn’t have recognized that my way of pursuit was an expression of my selfishness and despicableness, and I would have kept on thinking that it was okay to seek grace and blessings through faith in the Lord. In addition, although I believed in the Lord, I still followed the trends of the world, I still coveted wealth and sought to eat, drink and have fun, I still scrambled for reputation and fortune and plotted against others, I was still living in sin, unable to free myself, and I only came to some sort of understanding of these corruptions through the judgment and revelations of Almighty God’s words. I feel that God’s carrying out the work of judgment and chastisement by the word in the last days is absolutely essential, and that it really can cleanse people and save people! How else could people like me who are filthy and corrupt be qualified to enter into the kingdom of heaven?
Thanks be to God! Never in my dreams did I think when I came to Japan to find work that I would actually be welcoming the return of our Savior and witnessing the appearance of God. I started to eagerly read Almighty God’s words, actively take part in church life, and gather together with brothers and sisters to fellowship about the word of God. Whenever I had time I watched gospel movies, choir videos, music videos and other videos from The Church of Almighty God. Thanks be to God for His guidance, for I am understanding more and more truths, and my spirit is enjoying peace and stability. Nowadays I am no longer living with worries nor am I in pain, and I certainly do not have suicidal thoughts. It was the word of God that strengthened my faith and allowed me to see a bright and beautiful future. I am ready to pursue the truth along with my brothers and sisters, and to seek out how to best fulfill the duties of a creature in order to repay God’s love, for only by living in this way can I have a truly meaningful life!