In August of 2012, I came to Canada with my son. When I first arrived in this strange country I faced various challenges. In addition to solving the primary problem of food and housing, I had to find a school for my son to study in and hunt for a job to make a living. Numerous difficulties occurred as I looked for jobs, and constant troubles in my life also followed on. No one, however, I could pour out my misery to and no friends I could rely on. I felt much suffering and exhausted. Just then my landlord preached the gospel of the Lord to me. I was deeply touched by her experience of believing in the Lord, and thus I started to go to church with her.
One day, I went to a supermarket for vegetables. When I came out from there, I saw that two people were setting up a stall for something not far away. Out of curiosity, I came near and found many gospel booklets spreading out on a small table. I picked up one at random and flipped it through, feeling that the words inside were very good. Then the two sisters greeted me enthusiastically, and we got to talking. Sister Lisa asked whether I believed in the Lord. I answered, “Yes. But I’ve just been here and I am looking for a job. I have few relatives or friends here. I really hope to make the acquaintance of my fellow villagers.” Then we gave our telephone numbers to each other. Later, Sister Lisa phoned me and asked me out for dinner with my fellow villagers. But I was rather worried: I don’t know anyone here, what if I am cheated by contacting strangers easily? I then remembered Sister Meirong who believed in the Lord for many years and served the church zealously, and so I told her this matter in the worship service on the Lord’s Day. After hearing that, she said seriously, “Don’t easily listen to others’ preaching. Those sermons outside are all impure. They don’t preach according to the Bible….” On hearing this, I was very afraid: I only believe in the Lord Jesus and read the Bible. If they don’t preach in accordance with the Bible, it’s not right. And if so, aren’t they taking the wrong path? I completely believed in what Sister Meirong said and declined the invitation of Sister Lisa.
Afterward, a new neighbor, Sister Zhenshi, moved in. We both were like old friends from the start. When we chatted, I learned that she also believed in the Lord. That made us feel more congenial and cordial to each other. She then invited me to conduct Bible studies with her. At the thought of how little I understood of the Bible, I readily accepted. A few days later, Sister Zhenshi took me to the house of Sister Chen to conduct Bible studies. After I listened to their fellowship about their understanding of some verses in the Bible and their experience of believing in the Lord, I felt they were so well and so real. It allowed me to gain more knowledge of the Lord than ever. After that, I told Sister Meirong that people in other churches also conducted Bible studies according to the Bible, and that what they preached had light and conformed to the Bible. Out of my expectation, she was very unhappy and scolded me, “I’ve told you not to listen to others’ preaching at will. All those churches don’t preach in accordance with the Bible. Why don’t you listen to me?” What made me more unexpected was that she told this matter to Pastor Li. That day after the worship service on the Lord’s day, Pastor Li directly came to chide me, “Do you know? Believers of Eastern Lightning testify that God has been incarnated again and expressed the truth to carry out the work of judgment. Their sermons are different from the Bible. You mustn’t go to listen to their sermons. Once you listen, you’ll be fooled….” After hearing the words I was rather scared. Since then, once Sister Zhenshi asked me to attend the Bible studies, I would refuse her on various excuses. In spite of my refusal one after another, they still often cared for me and asked about my situation. Sister Chen frequently sent me messages, inviting me to take my child to her house. I was moved by her kindness. But at thought of the pastor’s words, I was afraid that they might be believers of Eastern Lightning. So, I didn’t dare to approach them but continued to attend meetings in our church.
One month later, after the church worship was over, I heard a piece of news: On next Sunday worship, if anyone wants to be a member of the church, he just need to stay behind and put his signature, and then he will become a member of the church. Because I desired to become a member in the church, I specially asked the wife of the pastor about it. She said to me, “It’s OK. Next week you bring your lunch and some bread here. After the worship service, you can stay behind and apply for membership of our church.” Later when the day came for us to attend Sunday worship, I prepared the lunch with joy and was ready to apply for membership after the worship service. However, when the worship service ended, the pastor told me, “If you want to be a member of our church, you have to wait till next year.” Hearing this, my joy was lost at once and I was very puzzled about it. Especially when I saw two sisters, who believed in the Lord at the same time with me, became members, I was much more bewildered: In what aspects are they better than me? Why can they become the members, but I can’t? At this point I suddenly recollected that the income of their families was higher than that of mine, and that the pastor treated them very well in ordinary days. Is it because they have high income and donate much money to the church that the pastor permitted them to be the members? If it is truly so, such behavior of the pastor doesn’t conform to the teachings of the Lord. Aren’t the viewpoints on things of believers in the Lord the same as that of the worldly people? They put money above everything else and disdain for the poor and fawn over the rich, this isn’t after the Lord’s will. The Lord teaches us to love each other and to separate ourselves from the world to be holy. Just as the Bible said, “And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called to him his disciples, and said to them, Truly I say to you, That this poor widow has cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living” (Mar 12:42–44). The Lord doesn’t see how much money one donates but sees whether one has a true heart. However, when we made donation in the church, I often saw some brothers and sisters wrote their names on the envelopes with donated money. But I didn’t. For I remembered the Lord’s words, “Take heed that you do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise you have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when you do your alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward. But when you do alms, let not your left hand know what your right hand does” (Matthew 6:1–3). For this reason, I didn’t write down my name on the envelope when I gave offerings. So the pastor couldn’t know whether I made offerings. This might be the reason that he refused my application for membership. Thinking of this, I was very sad: Since I came abroad here, I’ve experienced a number of difficulties. The only thing I wanted to do was truly believe in the Lord and follow Him. In my heart, I have always thought the big church should be good. So when other sisters asked me to conduct Bible studies, I refused them again and again because I trusted the words of the pastors. But the more I trusted them, the more I saw their dark side. I was really deceived and blinded by their outwardly good behavior and false images. I couldn’t help crying and felt much bitter and perplexed in my heart. Not knowing how to walk forward, I kept praying to the Lord, “Oh, Lord, where are You? Where are You? I want to follow You….”
I thanked the Lord for hearing my prayer. In my confusion and helplessness, He stretched out His hand of salvation to me. That afternoon, when I went out of the supermarket, I met Sister Zhenshi. I wanted to approach and greet her, pouring out the sorrow in my heart. But when I thought that I had believed the pastor’s words and thereby refused her sincere invitation time and time again, I felt sad and miserable, uncertain about whether she would like to talk with me. After I thought and thought, I still walked actively toward her and talked to her. She was pleased to see me and cared for me as before. She then invited me to conduct Bible studies this Sunday.
On the day of Bible studying, the brothers and sisters welcomed us with great enthusiasm. Although we met each other for the first time, I felt they were very intimate with people, and we also conversed with each other in relief and freedom. Later, some brothers and sisters said they have been to many churches where pastors and elders generally gave sermons about offerings and where pastors thought highly of those believers who were well-dressed but gave the cold shoulder to those without money or power. Hearing this, I felt as if I were wakening from a dream. I had thought that only my church was like this, but I never expected that it was the same in other churches. I sighed with emotion, “If God sees our churches become like this, how sad He will be! Where is the really good church?” And then I told them about my confusion in my heart, “Our pastors always give sermons about offerings and ask us to store up treasures in heaven. Isn’t believing in the Lord reading frequently the Bible and reading more of the Lord’s words? But they always give sermons about offerings like this, is it after the Lord’s will?”
After Brother Kuozhan heard my words, he opened the Bible and read, “And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say to them, Thus said the Lord GOD to the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat, and you clothe you with the wool, you kill them that are fed: but you feed not the flock. The diseased have you not strengthened, neither have you healed that which was sick, neither have you bound up that which was broken, neither have you brought again that which was driven away, neither have you sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have you ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered” (Ezekiel 34:1–5). He continued to communicate with us, saying, “The responsibility of shepherds is to feed the flocks. If they don’t fulfill their responsibility but only care about their own profit by eating constantly the fat of the flocks instead of feeding them, then the flocks will be short of food and care, trapped in famine and some of them will be even captured by the beasts.” Hearing these words, I thought: That’s right. Our pastors and elders only give sermons about offerings in order to ask us believers to make donation. Besides, they hold various activities, attempting to collect money to meet their own profit, reputation and gratification. They turn a blind eye to the believers who are poor and thirsty in spirit, without paying any heed to them, and they don’t even care for those who turn back to the fleshly world. Those pastors always give sermons about offerings, can it help brothers and sisters to solve the problem of weakness in the spirit? Can it make them know God? Can it resolve the actual problems in the church? It’s no wonder that some new believers leave the church as they are fed up with listening to their sermons about giving offerings.
Brother Kuozhan said again, “Many pastors always require believers to make donation according to the verse: ‘But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust does corrupt’ (Matt 6:20). They say that the more people donate, the more they will get blessings from God and the more they can return to the heavenly home. In reality, this is distorting and misinterpreting the words of the Lord Jesus. It is not the Lord’s intention that He needs people’s money, or that whoever donates more can enter into the heavenly kingdom. As for the matter of entering the heavenly kingdom, the Lord Jesus said like this: ‘Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven’ (Matt 7:21). It clearly shows that only those who do the will of God can enter into the kingdom of heaven, and that whether we can enter into it is not based on how much we donate. Besides, whether we can enter into it isn’t decided by pastors, but should be based on whether we practice according to words of the Lord Jesus. In fact, what God wants is our true hearts, which are far above all jewels and cannot be exchanged for them. Man’s true heart is most valuable! We who believe in God should pursue how to obtain the truth and the life. That is most significant. To gain the truth is to receive the life. Only by getting the truth can we know God, genuinely follow God, and obey Him. This is obtaining heavenly blessings.” After hearing the fellowship of the brother, I felt clear and bright in my heart and came to understand some of God’s will.
And then I asked the brother, “If I don’t attend meetings in the church, will the Lord forsake me?” Hearing my words, the brother opened the Bible quickly and began to read, “The woman said to him, Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and you say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus said to her, Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when you shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship you know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him” (John 4:19–23). And then he continued, “Again I say to you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the middle of them” (Matt 18:19–20). He then fellowshiped, “Believing in and worshiping God doesn’t mean that we must go to the church. In other words, it doesn’t mean that only by worshiping God in a material room can we be approved by God and prove ourselves the believers with true faith in God. These are man’s opinions. Only by worshiping God in spirit and in truth can we be after God’s will. During the Old Testament age, the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees were those who served God in the temple. But when the Lord Jesus came to do His work, did they investigate or seek humbly? They not only didn’t seek or investigate, but also slandered, accused His work and ultimately united the Roman government to nail the Lord Jesus onto the cross. Though they served Jehovah in the temple for their entire lives, could it represent that they were those who truly worshiped God? Could it represent that they knew God and were approved by God? At last, the Lord Jesus even condemned them as hypocritical Pharisees, as devils who devour people’s souls, and as the evildoers. God didn’t praise their service; whereas those ordinary people, like Peter, John, and Matthew, they each had an honest heart and a heart of seeking the truth. When the Lord Jesus did His work, they followed His footsteps, listened to the sermons given by Him and left the temple where they worshiped God from generation to generation. Only then did they receive the salvation from the Lord. God sees man’s sincere heart. So those who believe in God with their sincere hearts gathering together to worship God can gain the work of the Holy Spirit and be in the presence of God. Moreover, the sermons they give will be able to edify others, provide benefit for their lives, and allow man to know God. Only such people gathering together can form a real church. If shepherds bear burden for the believers’ lives, that is to say, when they see believers are weak and negative they can provide them with assistance and supply in time, or fellowship the truth according to God’s words to resolve their practical problems. They are the good shepherds. On the contrary, the false shepherds can only bind people rather than consider God’s will. They preach merely according to their own notions and imagination, and what they preach are all empty letters and doctrines, which leads to believers failing to get any supply from them. The church led by good shepherds can possibly have good church life and have the work of the Holy Spirit. God approves such a church.” Afterward, my brothers and sisters fellowshiped a lot to me and resolved all problems I raised. I felt it benefited me spiritually. And the more I listened, the more my heart brightened, and the more I understood God’s will. I really liked to attend such meetings of Bible studies.
A few days later, I went to conduct Bible studies again. Sister Danyi said, “The topic for today’s Bible studies is: What we should be alert and prepare for on the matter of welcoming the Lord’s return.” On hearing that we would study such a topic, I was particularly interested in and attracted by it, for this was the very problem which I had been most concerned but confused about. Sister Danyi opened the Bible and said, “Let’s read several verses first, ‘And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him’ (Matt 25:6). ‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me’ (John 10:27). ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me’ (Revelation 3:20). From the words of the Lord we can clearly see that the key to welcoming the Lord’s return is to pay attention to listening to God’s voice and seek the truth humbly. Only in this way can we recognize the Lord and attend the feast with Him. However, a lot of people think that as long as we do much work and spread gospels frequently for the Lord, confess more to Him and donate more to Him, we will be able to welcome Him, and then, when the Lord returns, we will be raptured to the heavenly kingdom. In fact, this kind of opinion doesn’t conform to the Lord’s will. Looking back, the Jewish chief priests, scribes and Pharisees were all those who labored in their work for God; but when the Lord Jesus appeared to do His work, gave so many sermons, expressed so many truths, and also displayed so many signs and wonders, which shook all of Judea, although they obviously saw that the words of the Lord Jesus carried authority and power, they didn’t accept the truth He expressed, and even condemned that the Lord Jesus was blasphemous. They didn’t recognize the Lord Jesus was just Messiah, and even crucified Him, and thus became those who believed in God but were hostile to God instead. Whereas those apostles, who followed the Lord Jesus, were different from them. Take Peter as an example, he could hear the Lord’s voice and obey the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Although he also had confusion inside, he could humbly seek the truth, accept and obey all that was from God. Because Peter sought the truth and sought to know the Lord, he ultimately gained God’s enlightenment and understood from the work and words of the Lord that the Lord Jesus is Christ, the Son of God. To those who followed the Lord Jesus, after they heard His words contained authority and power, and that they are all the truth and the voice of God, they cast aside everything and followed the Lord. We can also see that some Jewish people didn’t heed the words of the Lord but believed those of the religious leaders, thus being deceived by them, following them to resist and condemn the Lord, and losing God’s salvation.” After hearing the sister’s fellowship, I was very shameful and felt I was just like those believers who had no will of their own—whenever I encountered problems I would go to ask pastors or the people serving in the church and blindly obeyed their words instead of seeking the Lord’s will. This meeting was quite helpful to me and allowed me to find the path of practice on the matter of welcoming the Lord’s return. After talking about this topic, the sister played a hymn to us “How Important God’s Love For Man Is.” Listening to the hymn, I felt very warm in my heart. I also sensed God’s love, God’s concern and His care for mankind.
In another Bible study meeting, Sister Jianxin asked me, “Sister, do you know what belief in God is?” Frankly speaking, I was stunned by her question. I hesitated a moment, then said, “Believing in God is to attend meetings, read the Bible and believe God’s existence in our hearts. Is such an opinion right?” The sister smiled but didn’t answer me at once. She opened a book and asked me to read it, “Though many people believe in God, few understand what faith in God means, and what they must do to be after God’s heart. This is because, though people are familiar with the word ‘God’ and phrases such as ‘the work of God,’ they do not know God, much less do they know His work. No wonder, then, that all those who do not know God are possessed of a muddled belief. People do not take belief in God seriously because believing in God is too unfamiliar, too strange for them. In this way, they fall short of the demands of God. In other words, if people do not know God, do not know His work, then they are not fit for God’s use, much less can they fulfill the desire of God. ‘Belief in God’ means believing that there is a God; this is the simplest concept of faith in God. What’s more, believing that there is a God is not the same as truly believing in God; rather, it is a kind of simple faith with strong religious overtones. True faith in God means experiencing the words and work of God based on a belief that God holds sovereignty over all things. So you shall be freed of your corrupt disposition, shall fulfill the desire of God, and shall come to know God. Only through such a journey can you be said to believe in God. Yet people often see belief in God as something very simple and frivolous. The belief of such people is meaningless and shall never gain the approval of God, because they tread the wrong path. Today, there are still those who believe in God in letters, in hollow doctrines. They are unaware that their belief in God has no substance, and that they are unable to gain the approval of God, and they still pray for peace and sufficient grace from God. We should stop and ask ourselves: Could believing in God really be the easiest thing on earth? Does believing in God mean nothing more than receiving much grace from God? Can people who believe in God but do not know Him, and believe in God yet oppose Him, really fulfill the desire of God?” (“Preface”). After reading those words, I was touched and said, “Wow, these words are so good, and they explain the matter of believing in God so clearly and plainly. In the past, I thought believing in God is just attending meetings, reading the Bible, acknowledging the existence of God in my heart, or doing some service in the church. But now, it seems that it is not as simple as I imagined. Believing in God must experience God’s words and work so as to reach an understanding of God and to throw off our corrupt disposition within us, such a journey is true belief in God.” After that, the sisters fellowshiped a lot to me. I felt that I benefited much from it. Thinking back to the past when I often listened to pastors’ preaching in the church, I received nothing; while through several Bible studies with these sisters, I came to understand a lot of the words and will of the Lord recoded in the Bible, I also found the way how to walk the path of believing in God. I felt what they talked had enlightenment and light of the Holy Spirit. I thought to myself: How can they understand so much? Could it be that they believe in God for many years and read the Bible for so many times? With such suspicion, I continued to listen to their sharing of Bible studies.
In the fifth Bible studies, they fellowshiped to me about the three stages of God’s work, what work God did and what God’s disposition is in each stage, and so on. At last the sister bore witness: The Lord has come back to express words and do the work of judgment. Only by accepting God’s new work can we obtain the work of the Holy Spirit. When I read the piece of God’s words “The Savior Has Already Returned Upon a ‘White Cloud,’” I was much moved. God’s words are full of authority and power, each and every one of them touches my heart. No one can speak out such words. This is God’s voice. Only God can see into man’s heart; only God knows man’s corruption like the palm of His hand; only God can explain the situation of how we yearn for God’s coming so clearly; and only God can tell man the mystery of God’s names, God’s disposition and His work. At that point, my doubts were removed. No wonder the brothers and sisters could interpret the Bible so clearly, it turns out that they read the words of Almighty God and thus came to know so many truths. For Almighty God’s words have revealed all mysteries of God’s management plan and explained the truth we need to be saved. In the past, I thought that anyone who didn’t preach according to the Bible was the one who took the wrong path, but when I thought of it now, this opinion was too absurd—I constrained God’s words and work within the Bible. That’s not after God’s will. Through attending meetings and fellowshiping with the brothers and sisters and reading God’s words, I confirmed that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus. I was extremely excited because I absolutely had never imagined that I could welcome the return of the Lord Jesus and gain God’s salvation in the last days. I felt deeply honored and truly blessed.
One day, three months later after I accepted God’s new work, I received a call from the wife of the pastor. She asked me, “You haven’t come to church for a long time. On the matter of the membership last time, you may not be so clear. In our church, believers should donate money once a month.” Hearing her words, I understood at once. The reason why I was refused to join the church was due to the donation. They didn’t think that I give offerings to them. After I hung up, I felt very calm. I didn’t feel sad for my failure to become a member, but rather, I thanked God very much that I gained some discernment about their behavior through this matter. I no longer looked up to and admired them because I saw clearly from their true face that what they believed in was money but not God, and that their calling me was not to care for my spiritual life but for the matter of donation. I then read the words of God, “Those who read the Bible in grand churches recite the Bible every day, yet not one understands the purpose of God’s work. Not one is able to know God; moreover, not one is in accord with the heart of God. They are all worthless, vile men, each standing on high to teach God. Though they brandish the name of God, they willfully oppose Him. Though they label themselves believers of God, they are ones who eat the flesh and drink the blood of man. All such men are devils who devour the soul of man, demons who purposefully disturb those who try to step onto the right path, and stumbling blocks that impede the path of those who seek God. Though they are of ‘robust flesh,’ how are their followers to know that they are antichrists who lead man in opposition to God? How are they to know that they are living devils who specially seek souls to devour?” (“All Who Do Not Know God Are Those Who Oppose God”). God’s words revealed the pastors’ nature and substance of resisting God. Externally, they often explained the Bible to believers, which seemed very spiritual. However, when God came to do the new work, their ugly face of being in enmity to the truth and resisting God was completely revealed. They blindly condemned and judged God’s work before seeking and investigating it and even stopped believers from investigating the true way. Weren’t they the stumbling blocks that obstructed people from accepting the true way? Think about the pastors in our church, weren’t they such persons too? Once they learned that I conducted Bible studies with other sisters outside, they started to inculcate those negative informations in me so that I was frightened and didn’t dare to listen to the preaching outside. It was said in the Bible, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). So if we don’t listen to preaching, how can we discern whether it is the true way or not? However, the pastors even deprive the believers of their rights to listen to the preaching. How can they be the people who obey the Lord’s words? Aren’t they the stumbling blocks that obstruct people from investigating the true way? Aren’t they those who stop people from welcoming the Lord to receive them to the heavenly kingdom?
Half a year later, I took my son to a sister’s house to attend a meeting. Just when I arrived there I saw a sister who looked familiar. I finally recognized her during our conversation. She is Sister Lisa who spread the gospel to me near the supermarket before. We were both astonished. Little had I expected that God arranged for us to meet each other here. God loves us too much! He arranged so many people around me in order to allow me to follow God’s footsteps and obtain salvation of God’s work in the last days. That I could meet Sister Lisa and Sister Zhenshi incorporates God’s orchestration and arrangement, and it contains God’s earnest intention. I am grateful to God for leading and guiding me. It is God’s inseparable love that saves me and wakes my numbed soul. It is Almighty God’s words that allow me to gain discernment, attend the feast of the lamb and enjoy the wellspring of living water of life. From now on, I am willing to know God more and fulfil my duty as a created being to repay God’s love. All glory be to Almighty God.
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I Welcomed the Second Coming of the Lord After Studying Bible Five Times was last modified: July 28th, 2019 by Find the Shepherd
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