The Lord has come secretly before disasters. How can we welcome Him?
When I was in high school, I suddenly got tuberculosis. Tortured by the disease, I was miserable and helpless, and felt so close to death. In 1980, I started to believe in the Lord in a church near my home. Through reading, I came to know that it was God who created the heavens and earth and all things. Afterward, I persisted in attending meetings in the church and reading the Bible.
Later, I attended the theology classes held by the church. To my surprise, not long after that, the lung disease that had tortured me for years healed without treatment. I gave true thanks and praise to the Lord from the bottom of my heart. After that, my faith of expending for the Lord became greater, and I wrote a lot of testimony articles about how I was saved and called upon by the Lord. In 1994, I quit my job, and donated all my retirement pay and savings to the church. After a year of training, I formally became a preacher. Since then, I had been energetically preaching, working, and sustaining the church. Such situation lasted for four years.
As time went by, I gradually discovered that the once-thriving condition of the church disappeared. Not only did the pastors always give repeated sermons, but they also often showed off and bore witness to themselves. The brothers and sisters couldn’t receive any supply, so the number of people who attended meetings gradually diminished. Even if some attended services, they were just going through formalities. They either talked about their lives or careers in the meetings. I couldn’t see their love for the Lord. Later, the pastors even open a factory and publicly sold stocks in the church. Induced and encouraged by them, the brothers and sisters all joined in. For the sake of interests, the brothers and sisters often schemed against each other and haggled over every penny. Some even took the pastors to court at last because they neither got the dividend nor claimed back the money they had invested. At that time, seeing the church becoming degenerate and secularized, I, as the pastor’s assistant, was bitterly disappointed. My spirit became dark and depressed, and my enthusiasm of expending for the Lord also gradually faded.
Later on, I told the pastors about the unlawful deeds occurring in the church, and hoped they could reflect on their actions. However, they not only paid no heed to my words but even began to exclude me. Helplessly, I left the church and found a steady job in my hometown. When I had time, I would watch videos of sermons on the Internet. Sometimes I would think: “I should fulfill my mission as a preacher. I should be working in the church supporting my brothers and sisters. But now I’m living for my flesh.” When thinking of this, I would feel guilty in my heart. But as I didn’t have the guidance or watering of the Holy Spirit, even if I had a burden toward the church, it wouldn’t last long. Most of the time, I just lived a life of comfort and ease, and sometimes even spent the night drinking and chatting with my friends.
Those days, I gained the comfort and satisfaction of the flesh, but I had no peace or joy in my heart. In the dead of night, I would feel a kind of indescribable emptiness. I asked myself: “I’m unable to keep the Lord’s teachings, and still involuntarily commit sins, even though I clearly know it is at odds with the Lord’s will. Can I still gain the approval of the Lord in the end? The Bible says, ‘For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins’ (Hebrews 10:26). If I continue like this, will the Lord forgive my sins because of my faith in Him? Though the Bible tells us that we have been justified by faith, can my actions really be judged as righteous by the Lord? Could it be that I don’t believe in the Lord properly? If not, why do I still live in sin? How should I conduct my faith to avoid sinning?” These questions kept bothering me.
In order to solve the confusion in my heart, I watched a lot of videos of foreign preacher’s sermons on the Internet, hoping to gain some new light. But all I got was disappointment. Then I went to the bookshop to read some spiritual books, only to find what they say was virtually the same as my understanding and knowledge. I had tried many ways, but still could not solve my puzzlement, nor did I find the way to escape from sin. I felt even more frustrated, and my faith became weaker and weaker. I thought to myself: “Maybe a sinner like me really cannot receive the Lord’s approval or enter into God’s kingdom when the Lord comes back.” With that thought, I began to give myself up to despair, and no longer went to the church. When I had time, I would read the Bible and pray to the Lord to barely maintain my spiritual life.
On January 17, 2018, on my way to work, I came across a co-worker who I met ten years ago. When he talked about the topics of the church’s situation as well as how the pastors led the believers down the path of pursuing the world, I felt the same way deep inside me. I said: “I feel that the church has lost the presence of the Holy Spirit. I’m very perplexed about whether I can be saved if I continue to conduct my belief like this.” After hearing my words, the co-worker said to me, “Several months ago, I went to a church and heard their sermons, which I feel are full of light. And I also read the book they gave me, from which I understood many truths that I didn’t understand when reading the Bible before. You used to do the church work and have read the Bible many times. How about we go listen to their sermons together and see whether their church has the work of the Holy Spirit?” My curiosity was piqued instantly at his words, and I wanted to go have a listen. Then we scheduled a meeting to get together to make an investigation.
On January 21, 2018, led by the co-worker, I went to the church which I was very curious about. The brothers and sisters there received me with enthusiasm. During the meeting, Brother Park asked me: “Brother, you have believed in the Lord for a long time. You must have seen clearly the situation in the religious world now. Do you think that most believers of the Lord are living a life of sinning in the day and confessing at night? Aren’t they all distressed for being unable to break free from the bondage of sin?” I was surprised when hearing this, and thought: “In recent years, the church’s situation is exactly like this. I myself also become depraved and live a decadent life. His words are so accurate!” Then I asked him: “Brother, what you said is indeed the truth. Today the situation of the whole religious world is truly thus, so is my church. I’m also distressed for being unable to escape sin. Can you tell me what is going on?”
Brother Park said: “The main reason behind the desolation in the religious world is that the pastors do not follow the Lord’s way but lead believers to walk the worldly path. So the Holy Spirit does not work in the religious churches anymore. Another reason is that God has done new work, and the work of the Holy Spirit has transferred. As for the root cause why we still sin involuntarily, it is because there is the root of sin and Satan’s poisons inside us. The root of sin hasn’t been removed, so we cannot solve the problem of sinning.”
“Why do you say that there are still Satan’s poisons within us?” I continued asking. “Hasn’t theborn our sins two thousand years ago?”
Brother Park continued to fellowship with patience, “In the beginning, after Adam and Eve sinned, we humans began to be corrupted by Satan, and then Satan’s poisons were planted within us and we started to sin. The closer it gets to the last days, the more deeply we are corrupted by Satan. So, today the whole mankind all lives in sins, advocates wickedness, and follows the evil trend of the world. Everyone scrambles for fame and profit, and no one pursues the truth and the light. All mankind is becoming more and more selfish and despicable, licentious and wicked. Though we have received the Lord Jesus’ salvation and have our sins forgiven, our sinful nature is still within us. And we still live a cyclical life of sinning in the day and confessing in the evening, having no way to break away from the bondage of sin. The Bible says, ‘Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14). If the sinful nature is not resolved, what we live out is nothing but Satan’s image. Then how can we be qualified to see the Lord? Therefore, we need God to do the work of purification and transformation; only thus can the problem of our sinning be resolved at the root.” The brother’s fellowship was well-founded and irrefutable. And this was the first time that I had listened to such a fellowship over the years of my faith in the Lord, and I wanted to keep listening.
The brother then showed me a picture of God’s three stages of work. He integrated the Bible to fellowship with me the content, significance and result of God’s work in the Age of Law, the Age of Grace, and the Age of Kingdom. Only then did I come to realize: God did the work of tilling the land in the Age of Law, the Lord Jesus did the work of sowing the seeds in the Age of Grace, and in the last days, God brings the Age of Kingdom and does the work of reaping and rewarding the good and punishing the evil. Then I thought to myself: “I haven’t yet received God’s work in the last days. Doesn’t this mean that I still remain in the Age of Grace? But when the Lord Jesus was crucified, didn’t He say that ‘It is finished’? So when He comes back, we will be directly brought into the kingdom of heaven. Why does the Lord still need to do a stage of work?” With that thought, I told Brother Park my puzzlement.
Brother Park said: “In fact, there are many verses in the Bible predicting that the Lord will do new work on His return. For example, Hebrews 9:28 says: ‘So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin to salvation.’ John 16:12-13 says: ‘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.’ And in John 12:47-48 the Lord Jesus also said: ‘And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects me, and receives not my words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.’ These verses all mention that God will perform a stage of work of judgment in the last days. If all the work of saving mankind has been finished when the Lord Jesus was crucified, then how will His prophecies be fulfilled? It’s true that our sins have been forgiven after we believed in the Lord Jesus, and that we have some good behaviors and no longer commit obvious sins, but we haven’t completely broken away from sin. We still can tell lies to cheat others, have greed and evil thoughts, envy and hate others, follow the trends of the world, covet money, and pursue vanity. According to our present situation, we absolutely have no qualification to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, in saying that ‘It is finished’ when He was nailed to the cross, the Lord Jesus meant that His work of redeeming mankind was finished. Most certainly, He was not saying that all of the work of saving the human was complete.”