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Finding a Church With the Holy Spirit’s Work and Returning to God’s House
By Ruth, United States
I used to be a genuine atheist, but due to the predestination and orchestrations of the Heaven, after coming to America in 2014, I met and married my husband whose family had been believers in the Lord for generations. Under his influence, I began to believe in the Lord and serve in the church with other sisters.
My Church Was Desolate and Unable to Revive
Gradually, I discovered that the majority of what my pastor was saying was outdated and repetitious, and sometimes he even got off topic, unable to provide for the spiritual life needs of us believers at all. During meetings, most brothers and sisters would doze off, I was no exception, and sometimes I found my pastor’s sermons so dry and would play on my phone to pass the time. Fewer and fewer people came to attend church gatherings, and other believers would only come but just for fun at Christmas, the Mid-Autumn Festival, or the Spring Festival, when there were big shows and dinner parties. Once these holidays passed, the church would become stagnant again.
My pastor led us to pray for the church, but as time went by, despite our tireless efforts to do so, there was never any real improvement in the condition of the church. This made me very anxious and confused: Why didn’t the Lord hear our prayers? In order to revive the church, I constantly preached the gospel to my colleagues and friends and brought them to the church. However, as they saw the desolate and lifeless church and were unsatisfied with making a donation in each meeting, they gradually didn’t come. Out of burden to the church, I gave some advice to my pastor and discussed with him how to preach to retain believers. However, he disregarded my suggestions and even revealed in his words that his sermons had the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Seeing that he stubbornly clung to himself and didn’t listen to my advice, I felt desperate and I thought, “If our church really had the work of the Holy Spirit, it wouldn’t be in such a mess now and believers wouldn’t doze off during meetings. If this carries on, then the church will be finished.” Afterward, some brothers and sisters suggested merging our church with the one that had split from ours, but our pastor refused with the excuse that some coworkers in that church had wronged him. At this time, I saw clearly that although he always preached at meetings about being tolerant and patient and forgiving others’ transgressions, he actually didn’t practice these things; he was deceiving others. He would rather let the church remain desolate and continue to lose believers than put aside his personal grudges to care for the Lord’s will—he was truly too selfish and despicable. What could I gain from gathering in such a church?
In order to look for a church with the Holy Spirit’s work, I went to other churches that had many Chinese members, but I found the condition there was more or less the same. The sermons there were also cut from the same cloth, and aside from interpreting the Bible at Bible study time and worship time, pastors and elders would spend the rest of the meeting time leading believers to sing hymns. Later, I went to an English-speaking church which had a lot of people. I saw that the choir there would sing on each worship day, like a concert was going on; pastors there only preached for half an hour but their speaking was humorous and jestful. So, with a sliver of hope, I once again suggested my pastor form a choir and learn from other churches’ strengths, but he rejected my suggestion again. Moreover, after learning that I was looking everywhere for a church with the Holy Spirit’s work, my pastor’s wife said very emphatically at a Bible study, “We must stick to our own church. All those who don’t do so and go to other churches at will are spiritual whores and prostitutes, and God won’t save them.” Although these words made me feel quite restrained and afraid, my enthusiasm for reviving the church didn’t change.
One day, I read online a spiritual essay, saying that pastors should obey the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and if they did everything their own way and never sought the will of the Holy Spirit, they would certainly be forsaken by the Holy Spirit. I thought this essay very good and so shared it with my brothers and sisters, and I also told them about our church’s current condition and my suggestions, hoping that the condition of the church could be improved. However, unexpectedly, they not only didn’t understand me, but said that I was attacking and disobeying our pastor and trying to split the church. In an instant, I found myself isolated and excluded, and felt great suffering. I really wanted to leave this church, but I was afraid that if I did so, I would become a spiritual whore and God wouldn’t save me, as my pastor’s wife said. However, I didn’t want to continue to stay in this church, for I had lost hope for my pastor. I felt helpless and cried out to the Lord, “O Lord, I always feel that they are locking You outside, not letting You in. If this continues, the church will be finished. Lord, what should I do, leave or stay? If I leave, where should I go?” During that period, I lived in great pain and felt caught between a rock and a hard place.
Finding the Root of My Church’s Desolation
One day in May 2018, I met Sister Li on Facebook. After that, we often talked about belief together and I gained a lot of new knowledge from her fellowship. We regretted that we had not met before. Later, I opened up to her and told her about how I wanted to find a church with the Holy Spirit’s work and what I had encountered. And I asked her, “Why is the church lifeless now? Why does the Lord Jesus not listen no matter how we pray?”
Sister Li fellowshiped, “Sister, your questions are actual problems that all the religious churches are faced with, and they are also important issues for all true believers in the Lord. Speaking of the churches’ desolation, let’s recall the reason for the desolation of the temple at the end of the Age of Law. The temple in the beginning was filled with Jehovah God’s glory. Those who served Jehovah God in the temple had to be respectful and reverential, no one would have dared to act wantonly in any way, and even the priests were no exception; otherwise, they would definitely be burned to death by fire falling down from the pinnacle of the temple. At the end of the Age of Law, the Jewish leaders strayed from God’s way, didn’t adhere to God’s commandments and went against God’s will, the priests made poor sacrifices, and the temple became a marketplace and a den of thieves; especially when the Lord Jesus appeared to do His work, the Jewish leaders wildly judged and condemned Him. This is the main reason why the temple became desolate and lost the work of the Holy Spirit. The other reason is because God had incarnated and begun the work of redemption in the Age of Grace, God’s work progressed upon the basis of His work in the Age of Law, and the focus of the Holy Spirit’s work had shifted to the work of redemption in the Age of Grace. All those who accepted and followed the Lord Jesus gained the provision of the water of life and found new paths of practice. Those who refused to accept the Lord Jesus’ work and even condemned and resisted Him, however, were eliminated by God’s work and fell into darkness and desolation. The desolation of the temple completely fulfills this biblical prophecy, ‘And also I have withheld the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain on one city, and caused it not to rain on another city: one piece was rained on, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered. So two or three cities wandered to one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have you not returned to Me’ (Amos 4:7–8). In this prophecy, the phrase ‘to rain on one city’ refers to the church led by God Himself, and the phrase ‘not to rain on another city’ refers to the temple without God’s guidance.”
As I listened to the sister’s fellowship, I kept nodding my head and felt bright in my heart; I had never heard such a sermon before.
Sister Li continued, “Nowadays, the situation in the religious churches is far beyond that in the temple at that time. Nominally, the church is a place to worship God, but pastors and elders don’t testify to God or exalt God at all, nor do they practice God’s words. Instead, they just explain biblical knowledge and theological theories to show themselves off, build themselves up and make people look up to and worship them. They are completely unable to supply believers’ spiritual needs, nor can they bring people before God. The more they preach that way, the further believers grow from God. Ultimately, believers have no place for God in their hearts—they lose their faith and love, are unwilling to attend gatherings, and can’t live out the Lord’s teachings. As can be seen, the churches’ desolation is caused by the religious leaders. Especially, when seeing some believers leave their church and go out to look for one with the Holy Spirit’s work, some pastors and elders use some fallacies and heresies to obstruct them, saying that they should stick to their own church and not carelessly listen to other sermons or go to other churches, vainly hoping to keep a tight hold on believers. They would rather let believers die of exhaustion than allow them to search for the Holy Spirit’s work. This kind of service has completely deviated from the Lord’s way, and because of all of their actions and deeds, they have been detested and rejected by God. This is the main reason for the religious churches being desolate and having lost the Holy Spirit’s work. Another reason is that the Lord Jesus has returned in the flesh to perform His judgment work of the last days beginning in God’s house, opening up the Age of Kingdom and concluding the Age of Grace, and the Holy Spirit’s work has shifted to God’s work of the last days. Almighty God, Christ of the last days, has expressed all truths for the salvation of mankind to purify and perfect all those who accept God’s work of the last days. Those who have kept up with Almighty God’s work of the last days have received the Holy Spirit’s work and gained the watering and provision of the water of life. But those who are stuck in the religious churches and have refused to accept God’s work of the last days have fallen into darkness and desolation. So, no matter how people pray or how they use various means such as singing hymns, holding festival activities or organizing all sorts of rituals to raise spirits and attract believers, it is of no use and is just ‘treating the symptoms but not the root cause.’ Just as God’s words say, ‘God will accomplish this fact: He will make all people throughout the universe come before Him and worship the God on earth, and His work in other places will cease, and people will be forced to seek the true way. It will be like Joseph: Everyone came to him for food, and bowed down to him, for he had things to eat. In order to avoid famine, people will be forced to seek the true way. The entire religious community will suffer severe famine, and only the God of today is the wellspring of living water, possessed of the ever-flowing wellspring provided for the enjoyment of man, and people will come and depend on Him.’
“God’s will is behind the churches’ desolation. This is so that those who truly believe in God and yearn for the truth will seek God’s new work. So, we must leave the churches in the Age of Grace and follow God’s new work. Only in this way can we receive the Holy Spirit’s work.”
Hearing the sister’s fellowship, deep inside me I felt the same way. I thought, “The current condition of most of the religious churches is indeed like this. Pastors and elders have nothing to preach, believers can’t gain any sustenance from gatherings and many have run off into the world. No matter how people pray, this situation can’t be turned around. It turns out that the Holy Spirit’s work has departed from the religious churches.” But then another thought occurred to me, “Some other churches appear very fervent and have many people attending gatherings, so can such churches be said to lack the Holy Spirit’s work? Is Almighty God really the returned Lord Jesus?” I felt uncertain in my heart. However, I recalled how I felt so bright in my heart after listening to the sister’s fellowship these days. She could thoroughly explain the root of some problems; I gained more in these days than I had done in all my years of faith, and my heart felt enjoyment and was filled with peace and joy—all these were facts. Thinking of this, I couldn’t help but pray to the Lord, “O Lord Jesus, today Sister Li said that You have come back and are performing new work. I don’t know whether this is from You. If so, please guide me to understand her following fellowship. If not, please prevent me.” After this prayer, I no longer felt conflicted or afraid, and instead felt calm and confident.
Learning How to Discern Whether a Church Has the Holy Spirit’s Work
I then asked Sister Li, “I can accept your fellowship about the root of the desolation of the temple in the time of the Old Testament. But I can’t accept your fellowship about how God is performing new work and has withdrawn all of the Holy Spirit’s work throughout the universe and is working on those who have accepted Almighty God’s work. I acknowledge that my church doesn’t have the Holy Spirit’s work. But some other churches have lots of people and look lively, can you say that they lack the Holy Spirit’s work as well? How can you prove that The Church of Almighty God is from God and has the Holy Spirit’s work?”
Hearing that, Sister Li said patiently, “Whether a church has the Holy Spirit’s work doesn’t depend on how many people it has or whether it appears fervent. Instead, it is determined by whether this church has God’s guidance and whether followers can obtain the provision of life, gain new knowledge of God and have changes in their life disposition. If they only understand some letters and rules, can’t gain spiritual supply and never have any new knowledge of God and their real problems are never resolved, then this kind of church is one without the Holy Spirit’s work. As for how to discern whether a church has the Holy Spirit’s work, let’s read a passage of Almighty God’s words and then we’ll understand it better. Almighty God says, ‘All those who are within the stream of the Holy Spirit are possessed of the presence and discipline of the Holy Spirit, and those who are not within the stream of the Holy Spirit are under the command of Satan, and without any of the work of the Holy Spirit. … Those who accept the new work of the Holy Spirit, will live within the stream of the Holy Spirit, and they will receive the care and protection of the Holy Spirit. Those who are willing to put the truth into practice are enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and those who are unwilling to put the truth into practice are disciplined by the Holy Spirit, and may even be punished. Regardless of what kind of person they are, provided that they are within the stream of the Holy Spirit, God will take responsibility for all those who accept His new work for the sake of His name. Those who glorify His name and are willing to put His words into practice will receive His blessings; those who disobey Him and do not put His words into practice will receive His punishment. … Not so for the people who do not accept the new work: They are outside the stream of the Holy Spirit, and the discipline and reproach of the Holy Spirit do not apply to them. All day, these people live within the flesh, they live within their minds, and all that they do is according to the doctrine produced by the analysis and research of their own brains. This is not what is required by the Holy Spirit’s new work, much less is it cooperation with God. Those who do not accept the new work of God are bereft of the presence of God, and, moreover, devoid of the blessings and protection of God. Most of their words and actions hold to the past requirements of the Holy Spirit’s work; they are doctrine, not truth. Such doctrine and regulation are sufficient to prove that the gathering together of these people is nothing but religion; they are not the chosen ones, or the objects of God’s work. The assembly of all those among them can only be called a grand congress of religion, and cannot be called a church. This is an unalterable fact.’”
The sister continued with her fellowship, “We can see from Almighty God’s words that, the church led by God Himself has the Holy Spirit’s work and is a congregation of those who accept God’s new work and follow the stream of the Holy Spirit. They all have God’s guidance, leadership, care and protection. Those who practice God’s words will have God’s blessings; those who don’t practice the truth will be reprimanded and disciplined by God and may even be punished. Those who don’t accept God’s new work, however, don’t have God’s guidance, much less the Holy Spirit’s work. So, the assembly of them can’t be called a church, but just a religion. For example, in churches of various denominations, pastors and elders preach based on their gifts, notions and imaginations, what they fellowship about isn’t the truth but the doctrines and rules without light, and it can’t resolve believers’ difficulties. Besides, they are especially arrogant and self-righteous and are completely unable to accept others’ suggestions. They pay attention to status and power, strive against their co-workers for profit and status, engage in disputes and divide the churches. The path they are on is entirely a God-opposing path. Because they are outside the stream of the Holy Spirit, God’s discipline can’t be seen in them. As for some religious churches, although they have many people and appear fervent, actually it is just because pastors here are using human methods to retain believers. Although the atmosphere seems lively and fervent at that time, after the fact the churches also become quite desolate as usual and the believers’ enthusiasm fades again. That’s because the believers only get enjoyment from a momentary flourish of excitement, but they can’t gain the watering and provision of the truth at all, and their spirits are still withered and dark. I believe most of those with heart and spirit have this realization. Therefore, such churches are absolutely not ones with the Holy Spirit’s work.”
Hearing this, I understood why the pastors and elders lacked God’s discipline when they did whatever they wanted and attacked and excluded each other. It turned out that God had already forsaken them. As for why some churches had many people and appeared ardent, it was just because pastors adopted some means based on their imaginations to attract believers, but this couldn’t provide the slightest help to the believers’ life. The more I thought about that, the clearer it became. I felt that if the pastors and elders didn’t follow the stream of the Holy Spirit and accept Almighty God’s work, ultimately they could only be eliminated by the Holy Spirit’s work.
The sister went on to fellowship, “Let’s look at The Church of Almighty God (CAG). Since Almighty God appeared to do His work in China, He has suffered frenzied persecution from the atheistic CCP government, as well as the condemnation and resistance of the religious world, but Almighty God’s kingdom gospel has still spread across the Chinese mainland and even expanded to a multitude of countries overseas. Nowadays, Almighty God’s words have been translated into more than 20 languages and published online for people all over the world to seek and investigate. The gospel movies, dance and song videos, musicals, crosstalks and short sketches produced by CAG have been gradually put online for people to watch and investigate, and many of the videos have received awards at film festivals in a number of countries. All this is inseparable from the Holy Spirit’s work and guidance. People of all nations who thirst for and seek the truth have recognized God’s voice from reading Almighty God’s words and determined that Almighty God really is the returned Lord Jesus. One by one, they have returned to Almighty God under His name. After accepting Almighty God’s work, we not only enjoy the sustenance of God’s current words, but also begin to have some changes in our corrupt dispositions through experiencing the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, and more and more live out a true human likeness. Many articles of testimony written by our brothers and sisters also have been posted on The Church of Almighty God website. All this is the result of the Holy Spirit’s work and is completely God’s deeds. This fulfills the following prophecy from the Bible, ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of Jehovah’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem’ (Isaiah 2:2–3). Almighty God’s work has accomplished this fact. If people are never able to relinquish their notions and follow God’s work, finally they can only fall into darkness and be abandoned by God.”
Hearing Sister Li’s fellowship, I felt that none of the pastors in the religious churches had ever preached so well, and I acknowledged from my heart that The Church of Almighty God was indeed a church led by God Himself. No wonder many true believers in God in all religions and denominations started believing in Almighty God. It turned out that The Church of Almighty God indeed had the Holy Spirit’s work. Meanwhile, the sister’s fellowship shifted my incorrect perspectives. I used to think that God was still at work in the religious churches, so I kept visiting these churches to search for the Holy Spirit’s work. Only now did I understand that when Almighty God came to do new work, the Holy Spirit was no longer working within the religious churches, just like when the Lord Jesus came, the Holy Spirit ceased to work within the temple, and that Almighty God was to call His sheep out of various religions and bring them into His own church.
Returning to God’s House and Obtaining the Provision of the Living Water
Later on, after a period of investigating, meeting and fellowship, I understood many aspects of the truth such as God’s three stages of work, the incarnation of God, and discerning the true Christ from the false ones, and I benefited a lot. Almighty God’s work completely fulfills the Lord Jesus’ prophecy, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come” (John 16:12–13).
Then I accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days and joined a local church. When gathering with my brothers and sisters there, I discovered that the meeting in The Church of Almighty God was completely different from that in the religious churches. In the past, the pastors and elders always preached that God was love and He would bestow everything upon us as long as we trusted in Him, and they also taught us tofor material blessings and peace. In The Church of Almighty God, however, no one prays to God for fleshly comforts, but instead they seek how to love and satisfy God and how to achieve dispositional change. Moreover, at meetings, everyone fellowships, not just one person preaching; brothers and sisters communicate God’s words in light of their practical experiences, and they fellowship with sincerity about whatever difficulties they have. The Church of Almighty God is full of the positive and harmonious atmosphere of pursuing the truth. I am so fortunate to have gained the Lord Jesus’ grace—I’ve found the light, returned to God’s house and received the watering and provision from the wellspring of the living waters.
I now perform my duty of spreading the gospel so that, together with my brothers and sisters, I can bring more people who yearn for and seek the truth before God, and help them follow God’s new work and enter the Age of Kingdom.
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