Guarding Against the Stumbling Blocks on the Path to the Heavenly Kingdom
By Qianheng, Germany
In October 2014, I came to Germany to study. At first, I was full of confidence about fitting into life in a foreign country, but due to the language barrier and enormous study stress, gradually my original confidence faded away. Just when I was in my most depressed state, one of my classmates took me to a Chinese church. The brothers and sisters there greeted me very cordially, actively invited me to have meals with them, and blessed me, which made me feel very liberated from my worries. Afterward, I often attended Bible study meetings and Saturday worship, and thus became a Christian.
Gradually, I discovered that there was no illumination in the sermons preached by the pastor. Many of the believers were engaged in physical relationships with each other, and they ate snacks or chatted during meetings. Thus, I didn’t enjoy the meetings anymore. Meanwhile, the pastor and his wife often said that their spirit had withered long ago, that their lives hadn’t been renewed, and they didn’t know what to do. Besides, they didn’t have God-fearing hearts: When they spoke indulgently or saw some brothers or sisters do things not in line with God’s will, they didn’t take it seriously and said laughingly: “No big deal. The Lord Jesus has forgiven all our sins.” The church also organized all kinds of activities and dinner parties which looked lively outwardly, but didn’t make me feel the presence of the Lord. Later, my spirit withered to a certain extent, and I couldn’t help but begin to live in the flesh again: I lost myself in online games.
In early 2017, I got acquainted with Sister Sun on the Internet. When talking with her, I found that she was someone who truly believes in God, because she could talk about God’s intentions in many matters, which brought me much help. One day, when we talked about our experiences of prayer, I said embarrassedly: “I don’t know how to pray. The brothers and sisters can pray for a long time, while I can only utter a few prayers.” Then she said: “It doesn’t matter how many words there are in our prayer; what is key is whether or not our prayer is accepted by God.” Then she sent me a passage and told me: “It is about the practice of prayer. You should read it.” After quickly browsing it, I found that it wasn’t from the Bible. I thought maybe it was from another book, and then began to read: “What does it mean to truly pray? … Prayer is not a case of going through the formalities, or following procedure, or reciting the words of God, which is to say, prayer does not mean parroting words and copying others. In prayer, you must give your heart to God, sharing the words in your heart with God so that you may be touched by God. If your prayers are to be effective, then they must be based on your reading of God’s words. Only by praying amid God’s words will you be able to receive more enlightenment and illumination.” The more I read these words, the more I felt they were fresh and enlightening and could give me a path to follow; I was very inspired. I had never heard of such a way to pray, nor had I heard the pastor or elders say such things. I felt that there was no way that these words could have been spoken by a normal person. I thought: “Where did Sister Sun get this from? Is it really from a spiritual work?” Out of curiosity, I looked up the passage online, and found to my surprise that it was from The Church of Almighty God. I stared at the computer and felt shocked, remembering that some time ago the church had informed us about a sect named Eastern Lightning on the Internet, and that when we see it, we should block it. Unexpectedly, I was actually chatting with them, and didn’t know what to do. I became nervous, but felt that the passage sent by Sister Sun was really good, for it had pointed out the right ways of practice and given me clarity. And in my interactions with Sister Sun in the following days, she patiently helped me and told me how to practice to satisfy God in the matters I encountered. I felt she was really sincere, and that there was nothing wrong about her. The more I thought, the more confused I felt. “Is it because I have no discernment? No, I can’t blindly refuse her. I must figure this out”, I thought. So I said to Sister Sun, as if nothing had happened, “These teachings are very good. I like them very much.”
In the following days, all that Sister Sun fellowshiped with me about was our belief in God. When we talked about some problems, she would send me some relevant material, and patiently fellowship with me to help me understand it, which greatly benefited me. I felt that she had the work of the Holy Spirit. One day, I couldn’t help but ask her, “These passages sent by you are from The Church of Almighty God, aren’t they?” She answered, “Yes, they are.” And then I said, “I heard you bearing witness to the Lord Jesus’ return, but some people don’t believe it. So how can I confirm that the gospel you spread comes from God?” Sister Sun said, “If we want to distinguish whether or not anything comes from God’s work and words, and whether it is the true way, first, we should know that God’s work and words certainly achieve some practical results. If we learn about these, we will grasp the principles of discerning the true way from the false way, and thus we can tell the difference.” After that, Sister Sun shared a passage of Almighty God’s words with me: “In distinguishing whether or not it is the true way, above all you must look at whether or not there is the work of the Holy Spirit, after which you must look at whether or not there is the truth in this way. This truth is the life disposition of normal humanity, which is to say, that which was required of man when God created him in the beginning, namely, all of normal humanity (including human sense, insight, wisdom, and the basic knowledge of being man). That is, you need to look at whether or not this way takes man into a life of normal humanity, whether or not the truth that is spoken of is required according to the reality of normal humanity, whether or not this truth is practical and real, and whether or not it is most timely. If there is truth, then it is able to take man into normal and real experiences; man, furthermore, becomes ever more normal, man’s human sense becomes ever more complete, man’s life in the flesh and the spiritual life become ever more orderly, and man’s emotions become ever more normal. This is the second principle. There is one other principle, which is whether or not man has an increasing knowledge of God, whether or not experiencing such work and truth can inspire a love of God in him, and bring him ever closer to God. In this can be measured whether or not it is the true way. Most fundamental is whether this way is realistic rather than supernatural, and whether or not it is able to provide the life of man. If it conforms to these principles, the conclusion can be drawn that this way is the true way.”
Sister Sun then fellowshiped this, “Through the words of God, we know that whether something is the true way or not can be assessed from three aspects. First, we should discern whether there is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus’ work is from God. At that time, after seeing His authoritative and powerful words and work, many people followed Him. Finally, His work of redemption spread throughout the world. Similarly, today Almighty God’s work of the last days has not only spread all over Mainland China, but also expanded to all the nations of the world. And most importantly, after reading God’s words, His chosen people can throw off their weaknesses and increasingly have faith in God. This is the result achieved by the work of the Holy Spirit.” After hearing Sister Sun’s fellowship, I thought of the actual circumstances in our church: There was no illumination in the sermons preached by the pastor; the faith of the believers had grown cold; we all followed the flesh and the evil trends of the world in our daily lives. In order to rejuvenate the church, our church often organized all kinds of activities, but our problems didn’t improve at all. By contrast, in my interactions with Sister Sun those days, I no longer felt negative or weak. And, more importantly, after reading the words of Almighty God I also knew how to pray in a way that conforms to God’s will and began to have a heart that wanted to pursue. I could feel the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Sister Sun continued, “Second, we should look at whether or not the way has the truth, and whether it can bring change to our life dispositions. We all know that after being corrupted by Satan, we humans have been the servants of sin. The Lord Jesus’ work of redemption only redeemed us from the bindings of the law, but the sinful nature of us hasn’t changed. Today, God has returned in the flesh and is uttering millions of words, and is doing the work of judgment beginning with God’s house on the foundation of the redemption work of the Lord Jesus. Through reading God’s words and experiencing the judgment and chastisement of His words, we gradually come to know and have a real hatred of our own corrupt nature; our motivations and views concerning the belief in God gradually become cleansed and changed. And many videos of these true testimonies have been produced and released online: these are all facts visible to all. It can thus be seen that the truth expressed by Almighty God can really change us.
“Third, we should look at whether or not this stage of work can give us new knowledge of God. As we all know, we humans are incapable of penetrating the spiritual realm, so only when God Himself reveals His deeds to us can we come to know Him. It is just like in the Age of Law when Jehovah God proclaimed laws to guide the people’s lives. The people who complied with the laws had God’s protection and grace, and the people who broke the laws were struck down and accursed of God. From this, we have some knowledge of Jehovah’s disposition of majesty and wrath. In the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus was nailed to a cross in order to redeem mankind, from which we know His disposition of love and compassion. Today, through experiencing Almighty God’s work and His words, we know that God’s disposition is primarily righteous: When we obey God and revere God, He protects and cares for us in every situation; when we defy God and oppose God, He will immediately conceal Himself from us, and judge and refine us; when Satan’s evil forces disrupt and destroy God’s work, they will immediately be met with God’s fire and punishment. From God’s various works, we can see that He has different dispositions. He is not only merciful and kind, but even more so is holy and majestic. It is through reading Almighty God’s words and experiencing His work that we can have this understanding of God.”
After hearing the sister’s fellowship, I felt what she said was reasonable, and I also felt brightened in my heart. After grasping the principles of discerning the true way from the false way, I wasn’t afraid of being deceived anymore. Afterward, Sister Sun fellowshiped with me about the three stages of God’s work. Then I watched the various dance and song videos and gospel movies produced by The Church of Almighty God, which renewed my life and spirit. After many days of investigation, seeking, and fellowshiping in gatherings, I was sure that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus. Thereupon, I joined The Church of Almighty God, and now live a church life with the brothers and sisters.
One day, the brothers and sisters from my original church invited me to attend a gospel camp. I thought I could take advantage of this opportunity to preach the gospel to them, and so I went there with them. The next day, I saw there were some books critical of other churches on a shelf, and when I opened one of them I saw some negative information about The Church of Almighty God. Before, I had heard some negative rumors, but at that time I was sucked in by Almighty God’s words during my investigation and never looked up the relevant information on the Internet. That day, when reading the information, I became flustered. Suddenly, I saw a piece of information: “When people believe in Almighty God, they will abandon their families.” At that time, I couldn’t help thinking: “The brothers and sisters from my original church are busy looking after their families, and sometimes even have no time to attend gatherings. Why do the people from The Church of Almighty God have so much time to preach the gospel? Have they really abandoned their families? But I feel they are the people who truly believe in God. It is impossible for them to do such things. The information on the Internet is not trustworthy.” At that time, I thought of a pastor I know who has a lot of prestige, Pastor Zhang. “He has believed in the Lord for many years and understands the teachings of the Lord, so he won’t tell lies to deceive me. If he reads the words of Almighty God, he can surely discern whether or not Almighty God is the Lord Jesus’ return.” Thereupon, I decided to consult Pastor Zhang.
After the gathering, I asked Pastor Zhang, “There is a church testifying to the Lord Jesus’ return. Do you know about it?” He said in astonishment, “You mean Eastern Lightning?” “Yes,” I said. “I feel Almighty God’s words are really good …” But before I completed my sentence, he quickly asked me, “Did you read their books?” I said, “Yes.” Unexpectedly, he stared at me with glaring eyes, saying, “What’s so good about them? They don’t have truth at all.” Then, he inculcated me with a lot of negative information about them. After I heard it, my heart felt as if it had been emptied, but I couldn’t completely believe what he said. Then I urgently said to him, “Many rumors are fabricated by the CCP.” But he said, “Although the CCP is good at making up lies and skewing facts, their condemnation of Eastern Lightning is believable. I feel you have been enthralled by the teachings of Eastern Lightning. So I advise you not to read their material anymore, or you will be left in a sorry state.” After saying this, he left, shaking his head. His expression threw me into a panic. I thought, “He has believed in the Lord his whole life, knows the Bible very well, and understands the teachings of the Lord. He wouldn’t lie to me.”
As soon as I returned home the next day, I turned on my computer, contacted a sister from The Church of Almighty God, and questioned her, “Do you still love your mother? Have you abandoned your family? I’ve always thought that The Church of Almighty God is the best and most righteous church. So I joined it without any hesitation. But if you are really like what the rumors say, then you are quite despicable. Now, I don’t know whom I should believe. You must give me an explanation.” After hearing what I said, the sister said an earnest prayer, and then communicated this with me patiently, “Brother, you’ve always thought that The Church of Almighty God is the best and most righteous church. This was confirmed from within your heart after you read the truths expressed by Almighty God. Since you’ve been in contact with the brothers and sisters in The Church of Almighty God for a period of time, if they were really like what the rumors say, why didn’t your heart tell you? Why do you negate your past knowledge just because of some rumors and hearsay? Who is responsible for your present feelings? All that comes from God makes our hearts quiet, while all that comes from Satan makes us restless, uneasy, unclear and indistinct about visions, unable to stand our ground, and even suspicious of God. If we selectively listen to and believe those rumors instead of quieting our hearts before God to seek the truth, then we’ll be easily disturbed by Satan.” What the sister said dumbfounded me for a moment. Then I thought, “That’s right! All that from comes God makes our hearts quiet. In the course of my investigations, what God’s words and the brothers and sisters’ fellowships brought me was steadiness and enjoyment, while the negative information I saw online only brought me unease and doubts. Could it be that I’ve really been disturbed by the rumors and fallen for Satan’s tricks?” So, I immediately prayed to God in my heart and asked Him to quiet my heart. At that time, the sister fellowshiped this with me, “For every believer in God, it is the law of heaven and earth to preach the gospel and bear witness for God. So the stuff online that we don’t want our families because of believing in God is pure rumor and fallacy. All of us know the Lord Jesus’ teachings in the Bible: ‘He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me’ (Matthew 10:37). ‘So likewise, whoever he be of you that forsakes not all that he has, he cannot be my disciple’ (Luke 14:33). From the Lord Jesus’ words we can see that God requires us to love Him above all else, including our husbands or wives. Let’s think back to the past: To spread the gospel and witness God, all the apostles and disciples throughout the ages cast aside their families and gave up jobs, and some of them were even martyred for God. Can we say that they didn’t want their families or that their faith was wrong? Noah sold all of his property to make the ark, preached the gospel for one hundred and twenty years, and never stopped preaching in spite of being ridiculed and despised by people. Peter was another example: He left his parents and sacrificed his youth to follow the Lord Jesus to preach everywhere. These people all acted according to God’s requirements and will. What they did were good deeds and righteous actions, and they are the examples we should follow. No one blames or judges them for not wanting their families. From their experiences, we can see that everyone who expends themselves for God can stand up and cooperate with Him precisely because they have heard God’s voice and known His will. We also have human weaknesses and don’t want to be insulted by others; if it hadn’t been for God’s words and love conquering us, could we have put aside the pleasures of the flesh and forsaken our own families? It’s from God’s words and work that we know God loves mankind so much and that He is eager for everyone to be saved by Him. So in order to let everyone know this good news and be able to welcome the return of the Lord Jesus in the last days, we have the responsibility and obligation to testify to more people about God’s work. If we only cared about our own families and satisfied our own interests, how could God’s gospel be expanded? The Lord Jesus once said, ‘Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature’ (Mark 16:15). Preaching the gospel is God’s requirement for us as well as our moral imperative. So, if you say that our forsaking our families and careers to spread the gospel means that we don’t want our families and that our faith is wrong, isn’t this a gross distortion of facts? We should learn to discern those rumors and cunning schemes that come from Satan and must never arbitrarily judge God’s work.”
After hearing the sister’s fellowship, I felt very ashamed. It’s not only everyone’s responsibility but also the Lord Jesus’ requirement for us to preach the gospel and bear witness for God. What’s more, all the saints throughout the ages forsook many things for God’s work; these brothers and sisters in The Church of Almighty God, who have given up their families and jobs to preach the gospel, are also practicing the Lord’s words. After hearing God’s words and knowing God’s intention of saving mankind, they willingly abandoned everything and endure persecution and humiliation to spread the gospel of God’s work and bring more people before God. This is after God’s heart and is the most righteous thing. Don’t those who slander them undoubtedly come from Satan? Look at those people in my former church: They not only don’t sacrifice anything, but covet the comforts of the flesh instead and always ask God to keep their families safe and careers prosperous. They just care about their own interests without any consideration for God’s will. Do such people have any conscience or rationality at all?
Through the sister’s fellowship, I gained discrimination of what constitutes Satan’s rumors and also understood God’s will in His working to save mankind. After the meeting, I came before Almighty God, gave a prayer of repentance, and begged God to forgive my ignorance. At night, lying on the bed, I kept thinking about one question: “The words of Almighty God are all the truth, which can be confirmed when one reads them. Pastor Zhang has believed in the Lord for a lifetime and is supposed to understand the truth, but why does he fail to recognize that Almighty God’s word is the truth, and even spreads rumors and condemns The Church of Almighty God?”
At the gathering the next day, I spoke about my confusion, “Now, I can be sure that the various kinds of negative messages are all baseless rumors. In the course of my investigations, I have been able to feel that Almighty God’s words are all the truth. But the thing I do not understand is why the pastors — who all graduated from seminaries, have believed in God for a long time, know the Bible very well, and appear very pious — fail to recognize God’s voice when reading Almighty God’s words, and even condemn and resist Him?” After hearing my words, a sister communicated this with me, “Although they have been to seminary school and know the Bible well, it doesn’t mean they have hearts that fear God, nor that they are those who know God and understand the truth. Almighty God is now doing the work of judgment beginning with the house of God, and has expressed several million words to cleanse and save mankind. Hundreds of videos of witnessing produced by The Church of Almighty God have already been published online, for people from all nations and all lands to seek and investigate. This has shaken the whole religious community. Brothers and sisters from all denominations and sects who love the truth, all recognize after reading the words of Almighty God that this is precisely the voice of God and the truth. One after another they have accepted the gospel of God’s kingdom. We also can confirm that this is God’s voice after reading Almighty God’s words. However, when the pastors and elders in the religious community see Almighty God’s words, some of them don’t seek or investigate; some even spread rumors, publicly condemn, deny, resist, and blaspheme God after reading Almighty God’s words. What is the problem here? In regard to this question, let’s first take a look at a passage of Almighty God’s words. Almighty God says, ‘Any who do not understand the purpose of God’s work are those who stand against God, and even more so are those who are aware of the purpose of God’s work yet do not seek to satisfy 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?’
“From the words of Almighty God we can see that even though someone might have believed in God for years and knows the Bible very well, it doesn’t mean that he or she understands the truth and knows God. When the Lord Jesus came to do His work, He revealed many deeds. According to conventional notions, the chief priests, scribes and elders — who were familiar with the Scripture, proficient in the law, and rendered pious service to Jehovah — should have been able to recognize the Messiah’s voice and that the Lord Jesus was the coming Messiah foretold in the Old Testament. And they should have persuaded the believers to accept the Lord Jesus’ new work. But the facts are exactly the opposite of that: After the chief priests and scribes heard the Lord Jesus’ words and saw the miracles performed by Him, they had no intention to seek and accept but instead conjured up all kinds of accusations against the Lord Jesus and resisted and slandered the Lord Jesus’ work. Why was this? According to what is recorded in the Bible, we know that the preaching and work of the Lord Jesus at that time shook up the whole Jewish state. Many people were witnessing the name of the Lord Jesus, and then more and more people followed Him. Those chief priests, scribes and Pharisees knew clearly in their hearts that if the Lord Jesus continued what He was doing, then all Jewish believers would soon be following the Lord Jesus and Judaism would come to an end. Therefore, to protect the survival of Judaism, to protect the sanctity of the Bible, and actually also to protect their status and livelihoods, they did all they could to make up rumors about, condemn and frame the Lord Jesus. In the end they even colluded with the Roman government to nail the Lord Jesus to the cross. Similarly, today’s religious pastors and elders see that the words expressed by Almighty God are all the truth and carry authority and power. If these words are spread to all those in the religious community who love the truth, they will all acknowledge that this is the word of God and the voice of God and thus will return before Almighty God. Therefore, the pastors and elders are extremely afraid of believers reading Almighty God’s words and hearing God’s voice. They’re even more afraid that believers will all follow Almighty God, as this will make them lose their status and livelihoods. As a result, they especially despise Almighty God and furiously make up rumors about, judge, resist and condemn Almighty God, doing all they can to disrupt and block believers from investigating the true way. This is a fact that all discerning people can see clearly. It shows that the root of the religious pastors’ and elders’ resistance to and condemnation of Almighty God is the same as that of Jewish Pharisees’ resistance to the Lord Jesus. Although they all know the Bible very well and have believed in God for years, they have a nature that is fed up with and despises the truth. They are all like the genuinely hypocritical Pharisees. They are all antichrists!”
Hearing her fellowship, I suddenly became enlightened: It turns out that in substance the pastors and elders are the same as that of the Pharisees! Although they all know the Bible well and often expound it, essentially they hate the truth and God; they seem very spiritual, but in substance they are hypocritical. In order to stop believers from accepting Almighty God’s work, they actually fabricate rumors, slander and blaspheme Almighty God. Is there any fear of God in their hearts? I finally understood that when discerning between people, we shouldn’t just judge them by external appearances but should look at their hearts and essence.
That night, I turned on my computer and found to my surprise that I had been expelled from my former church by the pastor there. I thought: Pastor Zhang must have told the pastor about my investigating Almighty God’s work in the last days. I never expected that they were afraid of the believers accepting Almighty God’s work in the last days to the extent that they would rather expel me than allow me to contact the brothers and sisters again. They are so treacherous and so malicious! Based on this, I clearly saw their true face.
Thank God for His guidance. Now I have real discernment regarding the pastors and elders, and can quiet my heart before God. Thinking back on the road I had walked, I found that though I had undergone delusion and disruption, my heart was awakened by God bit by bit. Afterward, through continuously reading God’s words, and frequently gathering and fellowshiping His words with my brothers and sisters, I broke away from the bondage of my obsession with online games almost without realizing it and now had the likeness of a Christian who lives an ever more orderly life. All the glory be to God!