By Kemu, Taiwan
In 1999, I was baptized into the name of the, and I enthusiastically participated in all aspects of the church’s work. But gradually, I found that there were many practices in the church that were not in line with the Lord’s will. For example: The pastor’s nephew wanted to be a theologian, so the pastor, paying no heed to the church’s regulations for offering subsidies and the objections of multiple co-workers, overturned all the past regulations, and privately made the decision that all of his nephew’s tuition fees would be subsidized by the church. Also, when doing church work, co-workers scrambled for power and personal profit, and plotted against each other without harmonious cooperation. Some co-workers would even not attend the monthly co-worker meeting because they had something to do at home, and would stop doing their church work. These are but a few of many examples. Seeing all this, I was very disappointed. I felt that such a church would not be commended by the Lord, so I decided to stop my service in the church.
In the years that followed, I read, prayed, and also held a worldly job. Though I had some success in my job, I always felt that something was missing deep within my heart, and I felt especially empty when I was alone. Suddenly, one day, I realized that if I continued in this way I would end up belonging completely to the world, and would become someone with no relation to God. Therefore, I began to search for a way out. I invested my hope in Facebook, looking forward to meeting someone who could fill the emptiness in my heart. However, I also thought of what the pastors had declared in the church in the past: They didn’t allow us to associate with people from The Church of , saying that their sermons deviated from the Bible. As such, I was especially cautious, and never added friends on Facebook lightly. In 2017, after much consideration, I added Sister Linda as a friend. We talked about one another’s gains in the church and our spiritual state, and also prayed for each other.
One day in July, 2018, Sister Linda told me that a brother whom she knew was investigating The Church of Almighty God, and he said that the Lord Jesus had returned as the incarnated Almighty God. Hearing this, I was quite shocked. I thought: “I painstakingly selected friends on Facebook just for the sake of not coming into contact with people from The Church of Almighty God. Who would have thought the sister would know a brother that is investigating the church? She even tried to persuade me to investigate together. No, I can’t do that. The pastors and elders always say that sermons of The Church of Almighty God have deviated from the Bible, and tell us believers not to associate with people from the church, if not we will be betraying the Lord.” Therefore, I rejected the sister.
The next day, Sister Linda called me again to investigate The Church of Almighty God. Because we had always mutually supported each other’s spiritual lives, and because I didn’t want to lose face, I agreed. But in my heart I was thinking, “Since it’s just listening to a sermon online, if I don’t like it I can just turn it off.” Because I listened with a guarded and resistant attitude, I took nothing away from the entire sermon. After the meeting, I said to everyone, “There’s no need to invite me to the next meeting.” and quickly went offline.
After signing off, I lay in my bed but couldn’t calm myself down. I thought, “The Lord’s return is an important matter. I shouldn’t blindly reject this news upon hearing it, but should seek and investigate. However, in the past the pastors and elders always said, ‘The Bible is the canon of Christianity, and is the ultimate authority. Our belief in God should mainly be based on the Bible and anything that goes beyond the Bible is heresy.’ The sermons of The Church of Almighty God have already gone beyond the Bible.” I didn’t sleep a wink that whole night. I was feeling conflicted, not knowing what to do to. In my confusion, I could only come before the Lord and pray, “Oh Lord! I don’t know what to do now. If I choose wrongly, then that means I’m betraying You. If I choose correctly, then I will have received Your blessing. Lord, I don’t know how to decide, I can only look up to You. Oh Lord, if You truly have returned as Almighty God, please lead and guide me.”
In the days that followed, I searched online for any related materials and information regarding The Church of Almighty God. When I saw some negative news, I comforted myself by saying, “My decision not to investigate was right.” However, I also thought to myself, “There are both positive and negative aspects to all things. How could there only be negative comments about The Church of Almighty God and not be a single positive one? No, I must figure this out.” Therefore, I decided to search for the website of The Church of Almighty God. Thinking of the hymn video Christ’s Kingdom Is a Warm Home, which was sent to me by Sister Linda in the past, I clicked on it to listen again. After listening, I found the hymn to be very heartwarming, and felt it was also quite helpful to me. I thus grew interested in The Church of Almighty God. After that, I kept finding videos to watch on the website of The Church of Almighty God. I found that they had a lot of videos and movies, and in great variety. There were choir videos, music videos, hymn videos, videos of recitations of, gospel movies, and experience and testimony videos among others. I would stay up watching videos into the wee hours nearly every day, sometimes becoming so absorbed that I’d forget to sleep entirely and would look up only to see the sun rising.
The movie that moved me the most was I Am a Good Person! This movie tells the story of a good person in the eyes of worldly people. However, she does not act or conduct herself in accordance with the principles of the truth. Instead, she lives according to satanic philosophies such as “Refrain from speaking out against observed iniquities,” “Stay quiet for self-protection and seek only to escape blame,” “Speak good words in harmony with others’ feelings and reason, as being frank annoys others,” “Keeping silent on the faults of good friends makes for a long and good friendship,” and so on. So this type of person is not a genuinely good person in the eyes of God, but is a selfish and deceitful yes-man. Indeed, we should live in accordance with the Lord’s words and approach things from the perspective of the truth—right is right, wrong is wrong. Just like what the Lord Jesus said, “But let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no” (Matthew 5:37). We must be upright and honest people. After seeing this movie, I had a profound realization: It occurred to me that I was also not a genuinely good person. In the past, I treated people nicely for the sake of keeping a foothold in society. I was constantly ingratiating and sycophantic to others and said things that were often contrary to my own convictions in order not to offend people. Much of what I did was not pleasing to God. I watched this movie five times, and each time my heart ached—I was moved and cried unceasingly.
During that week, I watched dozens of movies. I couldn’t help thinking, “Watching all these movies produced by The Church of Almighty God these days, I’ve found these movies are actually really positive. The Church of Almighty God doesn’t seem heretical! If The Church of Almighty God is not a good church, how could it have produced so many movies that can supply people’s lives? Other denominations out there all claim themselves to be legitimate, and denominations of the Lord, but none of them have made so many good movies that bear witness to God! If The Church of Almighty God does not come from God, who would be willing to spend that much effort, time, and money to make these movies, and provide them to people without compensation?” I again thought of how in the past the pastors and elders had said that many people from different denominations in China have accepted Almighty God’s work, and that The Church of the Almighty God had churches in many countries overseas. If this was not the work of God Himself, who would have the ability to do so? Just as Gamaliel said, “For if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nothing: But if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it; lest haply you be found even to fight against God” (Acts 5:38–39). However, there were still many questions left unanswered: “The book The Word Appears in the Flesh always appeared in the movies I watched. Why do believers in The Church of Almighty God not read the Bible but The Word Appears in the Flesh? Anything that departs from the Bible is heresy!” After pondering this question for a while, I told myself, “Given that there are people testifying that the Lord Jesus has returned, then regardless of how many doubts I may have, and even if there’s only a 1% chance that the news is true, I have to seek this glimmer of hope. I must not miss the chance to welcome the Lord. As the Lord Jesus said, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you’ (Matthew 7:7).”
One day, I was scrolling through movies produced by The Church of Almighty God when a wonderful clip from the movie Does God Work According to the Bible? suddenly flashed before my eyes. I was immediately drawn to it and stopped scrolling. I thought, “In the past, pastors and elders always preached that ‘God works according to the Bible, believers in the Lord must read the Bible. Any belief that departs from the Bible is a heresy.’ I had also always held this belief, so when the pastor said that believers in Almighty God don’t read the Bible but another book, I became resistant to The Church of Almighty God, not willing to come into contact with them, much less listen to their sermons. However, this period of time, through watching various videos and movies produced by The Church of Almighty God, I’ve come to realize that The Church of Almighty God is actually quite positive and not heretical at all. Since this movie also addresses this point, I should see what exactly it is saying to gain a clear understanding of this issue.” Having come to this conclusion, I excitedly put on the movie, in which I saw Sister Wang from The Church of Almighty God question a pastor, “You just said that God wouldn’t depart from the Bible to do the work of salvation, and anything that does is heresy. This brings to mind a question for me: Which was first, the Bible, or God’s work?”
Hearing the sister ask this question, I muttered to myself, “Of course God’s work came first, and the Bible came after!”
“That’s right! In the beginning, Jehovah God created heaven and earth, all things. He carried out work such as destroying the world with the flood, and destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. When God did these things, did the Old Testament exist?” Sister Wang in the movie asked again.
“No. God is the Beginning, and the Creator of all things. At that time there was no written language, how could there be a Bible?” I silently answered in my heart.
Then, Sister Wang began to fellowship, “That’s right, when God was doing these things there really was no Bible. That is to say, God’s work came first, and only after that was it recorded in the Bible. And in the Age of Grace, when the Lord Jesus came to work there was no New Testament of the Bible. More than three hundred years AD, religious leaders from all over the world gathered in a conference and selected Four Gospels from the disciples’ records of the facts of the Lord Jesus’ work. They also added some of the letters the apostles wrote to the churches, as well as the Book of Revelation written by the disciple John. They compiled all of these things to make up the New Testament of the Bible. Brothers and sisters, from the process of the Bible becoming the book that it is, we can know that it is only a record of God’s past work. Without God’s work, we would not have the record of the Bible, which is to say that God would not work based on what is in the Bible. He is not restricted by the Bible because God just carries out His work of salvation according to His own plan and mankind’s needs. So, we cannot limit God’s work to just what is within the Bible, nor can we use the Bible to define His work. We particularly cannot say ‘Anything that departs from the Bible is a heresy,’ because God has the right to do His own work, and He has the right to depart from the Bible and do His work.”
Listening to Sister Wang’s fellowship I had a sudden epiphany. I thought, “Yes. God’s work came first and then the Bible. How had I not realized this very simple truth before? When the Lord Jesus came to work, the New Testament hadn’t been written. The New Testament was created three hundred years AD when religious leaders from various countries selected passages from the apostles’ and disciples’ written accounts and epistles to be compiled into a single book. Only then was the Bible completed. If God hadn’t done any work, how could there have been a Bible? What Sister Wang fellowshiped are all facts, all accord with reason and are irrefutable. In addition, God is the Lord of creation, how He works is His own business. We are just tiny created beings, so how are we qualified in any way to demand God to do as we say? If we make demands of God, aren’t we implying that we are greater than God? Isn’t this irrational?”
Thinking of this, I continued watching the movie. Sister Yang from The Church of Almighty God fellowshiped the following: “That’s right, if we say that ‘Anything that departs from the Bible is a heresy,’ then aren’t we condemning God’s work throughout the ages? Everyone knows that at that time, the work of the Lord Jesus was not based on the Old Testament. He preached the way of, He healed the sick, cast out demons, did not observe the Sabbath, forgave others seventy times seven times, and more. None of these things appeared in the Old Testament, and they were even completely contradictory to the laws of the Old Testament. The Jewish priests, elders, and scribes of the time condemned the work of the Lord Jesus as heresy precisely because His work was not carried out according to the Old Testament. I remember that in Acts 24:14, Paul said, ‘But this I confess to you, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.’ Everyone think for a moment: If we were to weigh this based on our own perspectives, what Paul preached would have been heresy, so how could we not condemn the way of the Lord Jesus that we believe in today?”
Upon hearing this, I was shocked. I thought, “It’s true. The Lord Jesus did not work according to the Old Testament. He preached and worked on the Sabbath, healed the sick and cast out demons, none of which was in accord with the Old Testament. On the basis of these actions, the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees condemned the Lord Jesus, claiming that His work went beyond the law and was heretical. If I also believe that departing from the Bible is heresy, am I also not condemning the Lord Jesus’ work? How am I different from the Pharisees of that age? What’s more, if Almighty God really is the returned Lord, but I still cling to the notion that departing from the Bible is heresy, then does that not make me a modern-day Pharisee? This is displeasing to God!” Thinking of all this, I became afraid. I no longer dared to stubbornly cling to my own views, and I continued watching the movie.
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