Letters Carrying Good News
I was a junior leader of the Justification by Faith Church. In order to look after the Lord’s flock well, I read the and recited its famous chapters and verses every day, and the Bible became my lifeblood. In a co-workers meeting, Elder Chang of our Church said loudly, “Brothers and sisters, the foundation of our belief in the Lord is the Bible. We should never depart from the Bible, and departure from the Bible is not belief in the Lord. Now the followers are testifying everywhere that the Lord has come back, and they also come to the churches specially to steal good sheep. They read the words spoken by and no longer read the Bible. You must take precautions lest our sheep be stolen away by them. …” I thought then: How could one believe in God without reading the Bible?
One day in June 2003, I was reading the Bible at home, when two sisters in our village who believed in Almighty God came to preach the kingdom to me. I thought, “How dare they come to convert me!” I meant to drive them out, but then changed my mind. I thought, “I know the Bible well; they can’t steal me. It is said that the preaching of the Eastern Lightning followers is high. Today I will debate with them and see what makes it high.” As I thought of that, they entered the room. They said they wanted to have some fellowship with me. I said haughtily, “The Bible is inspired by God. All the words in the Bible are . So belief in the Lord means belief in the Bible, and departure from the Bible is not belief in the Lord. Since you do not read the Bible anymore, I have nothing to share with you.” Sister Wang said, “We all know that the New Testament of the Bible was compiled after A.D. 300. Paul said that ‘all scripture is given by inspiration of God’; it refers to the Old Testament. Besides, not all the words in the Old Testament are inspired by God or the words of God. Only the laws decreed by God through Moses and the words of God told by the prophets are given by inspiration of God and are God’s words. In the New Testament, only the words of Jesus and the words in Revelation revealed to John by God are God’s words, and the rest are all man’s words, which are man’s experiences and knowledge as well as the historical records of God’s work. So, God’s words are God’s words and man’s words are man’s words. If we insist that man’s words are God’s words, that’s blasphemy against God!” At her words, I was speechlessly surprised: They have such a clear discernment between God’s words and man’s words in the Bible; I have never heard it before. No wonder the pastors and elders all say that the preaching of the Eastern Lightning followers is high. That’s true. Their understanding of the Bible accords with the fact indeed. Although I felt what they said was reasonable, I wouldn’t give in. I competed with them inwardly, trying to pick holes in their words and counterattack them. At that time, Sister Chen took out a book with a smile and began to read, “From the time when there was the Bible, people’s belief in the Lord has been the belief in the Bible. Instead of saying people believe in the Lord, it is better to say they believe in the Bible; rather than saying they have begun reading the Bible, it is better to say they have begun believing in the Bible; and rather than saying they have returned before the Lord, it would be better to say they have returned before the Bible. In this way, people worship the Bible as if it were God, as if it were their lifeblood and losing it would be the same as losing their life. People see the Bible as being as high as God, and there are even those who see it as higher than God. If people are without the work of the , if they cannot feel God, they can carry on living—but as soon as they lose the Bible, or lose the famous chapters and sayings from the Bible, then it is as if they have lost their life. … Most people simply don’t understand why they should believe in God, nor how to believe in God, and do nothing but search blindly for clues to decipher the chapters of the Bible. They have never pursued the direction of the work of the Holy Spirit; all along, they have done nothing but desperately study and investigate the Bible, and no one has ever found newer work of the Holy Spirit outside of the Bible, no one has ever departed from the Bible, nor have they ever dared to depart from the Bible” (“Concerning the Bible (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Then she said, “God’s words have revealed people’s true situation. Let us consider: Who is our Lord, God or the Bible? If we say that belief in the Lord is belief in the Bible, does it not mean that we treat the Bible as the Lord? Does it not mean that the Bible has become an idol in our heart? Then do we have a place for God in our heart?” Before the sister had finished her speaking, I interrupted her in annoyance, “I don’t agree with whatever you say. Since the ancient times, believers in God have been reading the Bible. Only those who read the Bible are believers in God. I won’t believe anything beyond the Bible! The Bible says, ‘I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ to another gospel’ (Galatians 1:6). So, say no more about it. Since you have abandoned your faith in the and turned to another gospel, I won’t fellowship with you.” Sister Chen said, “The verse you mentioned is from Paul’s letter to the Galatians who had just received the salvation of the Lord Jesus. At that time, some of them, troubled by the Jews, forsook the Lord Jesus and turned to the Judaism. That’s why Paul wrote the letter to exhort them. ‘Another gospel’ refers to Judaism, not to the kingdom gospel of Almighty God. The kingdom gospel of Almighty God is ‘the everlasting gospel’ prophesied in Revelation 14:6. You are wrong in applying Paul’s words to the believers thousands of years ago to the work of God today.” Finally, because of clinging to the Bible, I didn’t accept the kingdom gospel they preached, and they had to leave. After they had gone, I thought, “Their fellowship about ‘all scripture is given by inspiration of God’ and ‘another gospel’ were practical and factual. Almighty God’s words they read to me also speak about people’s actual situation, very accurate and practical; no man can speak them. The messages of the Eastern Lightning are out of the ordinary indeed.”
Three days later, I suddenly noticed a letter on my writing desk. It seemed passed through the window. I thought, “Who did it? No one would have sent a letter to me this way. Is it from the Eastern Lightning followers?” Very curious, I wanted to open it, but then I thought, “No. I must be careful; if it is from the Eastern Lightning followers …” I prayed to the Lord, “O Lord! Now faced with this matter, I don’t know what I should do. Lord! If it is from You, may You give me guidance. If it is not from You, please give me discernment.” After the prayer, I felt very peaceful within, so I opened the letter. It read, “No one knows the reality of the Bible: that it is nothing more than a historical record of God’s work, and a testament to the previous two stages of God’s work, and offers you no understanding of the aims of God’s work. Everyone who has read the Bible knows that it documents the two stages of God’s work during the Age of Law and the Age of Grace. The Old Testament chronicles the history of Israel and Jehovah’s work from the time of creation until the end of the Age of Law. The New Testament records Jesus’ work on earth, which is in the Four Gospels, as well as the work of Paul; are they not historical records? Bringing up the things of the past today makes them history, and no matter how true or real they might be, they are still history—and history cannot address the present” (“Concerning the Bible (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “What they recorded, it can be said, was according to their level of education and caliber. What they recorded was the experiences of men, and each had their own means of recording and knowing, and each record was different. Thus, if you worship the Bible as God you are extremely ignorant and stupid!” (“Concerning the Bible (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After reading them, my heart began to waver. I kept contemplating the two passages of words, and came to realize: It is through reading the Bible that I knew about God’s original creation, the laws of the Old Testament, and the Lord Jesus’ crucifixion for mankind. In this letter, it says that the Bible is a testimony for God; this is right. The Lord Jesus also said, “… they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). It seems that the Bible is only a testament to God’s work. Then I thought, “The letter says that the Bible is a historical record of God’s work. So the Bible came after God’s work. That is to say, the Bible was written by those who had experienced God’s work after its completion. If Jehovah God had not done the work of setting forth laws, there wouldn’t have been the Old Testament; if the Lord Jesus had not carried out the work of redemption, there wouldn’t have been the New Testament. The Bible is indeed a historical book that records God’s work. Who could explain about the Bible so clearly? I have read many spiritual books but found no one has ever fellowshiped these things. The words in the letter are definitely not spoken by man. Do they come from God?” In the following days, I always pondered the words of the letter, whether when I was working in the field or walking on the way.
After a few days, I saw another letter on the desk. This time I no longer guarded against it. I wanted to know more mysteries about the Bible. So I opened the letter. It said, “After all, which is greater: God or the Bible? Why must God’s work be according to the Bible? Could it be that God has no right to exceed the Bible? Can God not depart from the Bible and do other work? Why did Jesus and His disciples not keep the Sabbath? If He were to keep the Sabbath and practice according to the commandments of the Old Testament, why did Jesus not keep the Sabbath after He came, but instead washed feet, covered head, broke bread, and drank wine? Isn’t this all absent from the commandments of the Old Testament? If Jesus honored the Old Testament, why did He defy these doctrines? You should know which came first, God or the Bible! Being the Lord of the Sabbath, could He not also be the Lord of the Bible?” (“Concerning the Bible (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After reading these words, I thought, “Yes, the Lord is the Lord of the Sabbath, and of course the Lord of the Bible as well. So the Bible can’t be equated with the Lord, and belief in the Lord is not belief in the Bible. How could the work that God hasn’t done be recorded in the Bible in advance? The work of the Lord Jesus at that time transcended the laws of the Old Testament. Since God had done such a thing before, God can also do His work beyond the Bible in the final age. Are these words really from God? If they are really God’s words, have I not offended God?” I felt a little afraid, so I put the letter into the box carefully. Then I knelt down and prayed to the Lord for His guidance.
A few days passed, and Sister Chen and Sister Wang came again. Sister Wang handed me a book smilingly, and she said, “Brother, the book The Word Appears in the Flesh is the words God has expressed in the Age of Kingdom. It is also the Bible in the Age of Kingdom. If you seek and investigate, you will know that the Lord Jesus has indeed come back. He has returned as the incarnate Almighty God, who is doing the work of judgment with the words to purify and save us. As a matter of fact, we have never denied the Bible. The Bible is a record of the work that God has done before. When the Lord Jesus has returned and done a new work, how could you know it if you don’t investigate?” I intended to have a good fellowship with them, but it occurred to me, “If I accept, not only will my brothers and sisters reject me, but my leaders will expel me from the church, and they will say I am a traitor. So I’d better wait for some time.” As I still refused to accept, the two sisters had to go away.