Breaking Through Encirclements

The northeastern China was freezing cold in November. The snow even did not melt when it touched the ground. Hunched and tucking their hands under the armpits because of cold, many pedestrians walked forward with caution. One morning, with the northwesterly wind howling, there were me, my brother-in-law and his wife, and more than a dozen brothers and sisters in my home, sitting on the warm kang. Every one of us was holding a book titled Judgment Begins With the House of God, with the Bible laid alongside. Two sisters from the Church of Almighty God were communicating with us about the truth of the three stages of God’s work. While drawing the picture of the three stages of God’s work they fellowshiped, “God’s work is from the Age of Law to the Age of Grace, and then to the Age of Kingdom, rising higher and deeper with each stage. During the last stage God expresses His words to judge, chastise and purify man….” I listened and nodded. My heart was so enlightened: It turns out that there are many mysteries about God’s management plan to save mankind. Who can illustrate them so clearly other than God Himself? So it must be the work of the true God. At the sunset of the next day, we all agreed to seek and investigate Almighty God’s work in the last days.

Later, they two communicated about the truth concerning the significance of God’s incarnation. As we were listening with keen attention, our church leader, Wang Ping, dropped by suddenly. She pointed at the two sisters from the Church of Almighty God the moment she stepped in and asked me, “What are they doing here?” I replied frankly, “They are Sister Zhang and Sister Mu….” Before I could finish my words, she became flustered, saying, “Sister Zhang? Sister Mu? I think they are just the preachers of the Eastern Lightening, just thieves of stealing sheep, just robbers….” What she said totally shocked everyone present. I thought: Sister Wang Ping always talks about loving your neighbor as yourself and loving your enemies. How could she make such far-fetched remarks just after entering the room and even judge and condemn the two sisters? As I thought of this, I heard Sister Zhang calmly talk to Wang Ping, “Sister, today we come only for preaching the gospel of the Lord’s return to you, nothing else….” But Wang Ping interrupted her, saying, “The Lord has come back? The leaders like me don’t even know; how could you know it? That’s impossible. The Lord Jesus has said, ‘All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them’ (John 10:8). You two get away immediately and never set foot here again.” Hearing Wang Ping’s words, I felt an aversion to her. How could she have no compassion? Then I said to her, “Sister Wang, it’s so late today. How could you let them go? The Lord taught us to even love our enemies, not to mention the two sisters who are also believers in God. If we treat them like that, do we still count as believers in God? …” Wang Ping became angry before I could get my words out. She pulled the hand of my brother-in-law’s wife and said to them, “Zhao Gang doesn’t tell them go away, then let’s go. Stop listening to them.” Then, she left in a rage with the couple.

After they left, Sister Mu asked us, “Brothers and sisters, what do you think about what just happened? Let’s talk about it.” They all glanced over their shoulders and looked at me, without saying a word. I said directly, “Through reading Almighty God’s words and listening to your fellowship in these two days, I can recognize that the words of Almighty God are all the truth and He is the second coming of the Lord Jesus. But there is something in what Wang Ping said. She is our leader after all. She has believed in the Lord for years, knows the Bible very well and has always run around and spent for the Lord. When the Lord comes back, she should have known it first.” Sister Zhang replied graciously, “Brothers and sisters, man has the notion that the Lord should first give revelation to the leaders when He comes again and then make it known to ordinary believers. Does this conception accord with the truth or the fact? Let’s recall the time that the Lord Jesus came to do His work. Those Jewish Pharisees believed that when the Messiah came, He would surely appear to them first. However, they never would have thought in a million years that the Lord Jesus did not inform them first when He came. Rather, He first let the fisher men and the tax collectors whom people looked down upon hear the gospel. This shows us that God does not give revelations to the leaders alone and He also enlightens those ordinary believers who follow Him. For God is righteous and absolutely impartial toward all men. The people that bring God joy are those who are good-hearted and who long for and seek the truth. God will enlighten and guide this type of people regardless of whether they have status. Just as the Lord Jesus said, ‘Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled’ (Matthew 5:6) and ‘Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God’ (Matthew 5:8). As long as man yearns after the truth, God will enlighten and lead him to come before Him. If any leader claims to be given revelation first when the Lord comes back, his nature is too arrogant. Just as Almighty God says, And so I say that those who have “seen through” God and His work are ineffectual, they are all arrogant and ignorant. Man should not define the work of God; moreover, man cannot define the work of God. In the eyes of God, man is smaller than an ant, so how can man fathom God’s work? Those who are constantly saying, “God does not work in this or that way” or “God is like this or that”—are they not all arrogant? (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh). From God’s words, we can see that His almightiness and wisdom are unfathomable. Man is only a tiny creature with limited mind and intellect. How can he then fathom the work of the Creator? Therefore, we should maintain a heart of reverence on the matter of waiting for the Lord’s second coming and seek and investigate it carefully. We should not casually define or judge God by our notions and imaginations, which will offend God’s disposition.” Hearing her fellowship, I realized that man is so insignificant before God, even less than an ant. Moreover, corrupted by Satan, full of arrogant corrupt disposition, man always defines God according to his notions and imaginations. And when God’s work conflicts with the conceptions of man, man will even deny and condemn God. It turns out that man dares to do anything without the knowledge of the truth or the heart that fears God. It is really too dangerous. I then thought that the Lord Jesus once said, “I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in your sight” (Matthew 11:25-26). I now finally saw that it was indeed the fact. Sister Zhang’s fellowship made me realize that the viewpoint that the Lord should give revelation to leaders first when He comes back was wrong and ridiculous. Meanwhile, I have gained a new knowledge of God’s fairness and righteousness.

The next morning after Sister Zhang and Sister Mu left, Brother Guan, who was the high-level co-worker of our church, came to my home. He asked me, “Brother Zhao, I heard that you had accepted the Eastern Lightening.” I said seriously, “Yes, I have. Because from Almighty God’s words I come to understand many truths I did not understand before, such as the mystery of God’s three stages of work, the significance of God’s incarnation and so on. From them I see that Almighty God’s words are indeed what the Spirit said to the churches prophesied in Revelation.” He cast a glance at me, saying, “Brother Zhao, do you just convert to their belief? Do you know who they are?” I replied, “I think they are quite humane, and their communication of the truth is clear and illuminating. What they talked about were the truths regarding God’s work. I have gained a lot these two days.” He said angrily, “Why are you so stubborn? It is said in Hebrews 6:6-8, ‘If they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that comes oft on it, and brings forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receives blessing from God: But that which bears thorns and briers is rejected, and is near to cursing; whose end is to be burned.’ As a preacher, you have enjoyed so much grace from the Lord. Instead of leading brothers and sisters to believe in the Lord properly, you actually led them to leave the church. Aren’t you afraid of being punished? If you still don’t turn around, you will lose the Lord’s keeping. Your good life will be over, your former illness will recur and your two children won’t find good jobs….”

After Brother Guan went away, I became a little uncertain, thinking: What he said seems somewhat reasonable. I have believed in Almighty God; what if I lose the Lord’s grace? Thinking of this, I had some weakness in my heart. So I quickly knelt down and prayed to God: “Almighty God! Brother Guan’s words made me feel a bit weak. O God! I am wondering if what he said is true. I really don’t know what to do next….” In the middle of my prayer, my wife came back. Then I told her what had passed. After listening to me, she asked nervously, “Did he really say this?” I nodded. My wife said with a little worry, “He is a great leader who believes in the Lord for many years. Besides, he is familiar with the Bible very well. I think he is truthful. What will we do then if something happens as he said?” At that point, I suddenly remembered the truth of the three stages of God’s work which Sister Zhang and Sister Mu had communicated with us. Then I said to my wife, “Nevertheless, there is something wrong with Brother Guan’s viewpoint. He said that We had departed from the Lord’s way and betrayed the Lord Jesus. In fact, when we have followed Almighty God, we have kept pace with the footsteps of the Lamb. We are wise virgins. How could the Lord punish us? …” During our communication, Sister Zhang and Sister Mu showed up….

Then my wife let the two sisters know that Brother Guan had come and spoken something. Sister Zhang asked me what I thought when I came face-to-face with this matter. Then I told her my weakness in my heart and my understanding a moment ago. She smiled and said, “Thanks be to God! Your understanding is pure. This is God’s guidance to you.” My wife said in disbelief, “Given that we don’t take the wrong way, why did Brother Guan say that? He is a great leader who has believed in the Lord for many years.” I looked at her and said, “Oh, he just wanted us to return to the former church.” Sister Zhang said to us with a smile, “All that we see today is their external appearance. But we haven’t seen through their nature and essence. The Lord Jesus once said, ‘But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in’ (Matthew 23:13). And ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like to white washed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness’ (Matthew 23:27). Externally, the Pharisees served God with loyalty. However, when the Lord Jesus came to do His work, their nature in resisting God was revealed. They wildly opposed and condemned the work of the Lord Jesus, releasing various fallacies to deceive the Jewish people, and using many sorts of methods to hinder people from seeking and investigating the true way. Their intent and purpose was to ban God’s work and appropriate God’s chosen people forever. Let’s take a look at what are the differences between religious leaders nowadays and them.” Then she asked me to read some text of Almighty God’s word, “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” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Through God’s words and the sister’s fellowship, I came to understand in my heart that the reason these leaders persistently disturbed and obstructed our belief in Almighty God was because they were antichrists in nature who opposed God. God wishes to save us today, but they did everything they could to drag us into hell. If their substance had not been revealed by God’s words, I had nearly been cheated by them. At that time, my wife said in surprise, “It turns out they came to harm us. Well, they won’t stop until they drag man to hell. From today forward, I won’t believe in their words.”

Then Sister Mu read another passage of God’s words for us, “In every step of work that God does within people, externally it appears to be interactions between people, as if born of human arrangements, or from human interference. But behind the scenes, every step of work, and everything that happens, is a wager made by Satan before God, and requires people to stand firm in their testimony to God. Take when Job was tried, for example: Behind the scenes, Satan was making a bet with God, and what happened to Job was the deeds of men, and the interference of men. Behind every step that God does in you is Satan’s wager with God—behind it all is a battle” (“Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Sister Zhang fellowshiped, “From God’s words, we see that when anything crops up, externally it appears to be the deeds of men. In fact, Satan is making a bet with God behind the scenes. For instance, when Satan tempted Job, although his wife advised him to curse Jehovah God, he penetrated Satan’s deception and stood witness for God by his confidence in Him. Moreover, he reprimanded his wife that she was a foolish woman. Through Job’s experience, we should know that, for each man that God looks upon with favor and wants to save, Satan will test and disturb him frenziedly, as well as attack him by all sorts of methods so as to cause him to forsake and betray God, losing the chance of salvation finally.”

Sister Mu also fellowshiped, “Right. Satan used these leaders to attack and threaten you over and over again, that was meant to cause you to deny God and betray Him and forsake the true way, which is exactly Satan’s plot. We must see clearly the battle in the spiritual realm.” After hearing the two sisters’ communication, I thought it over and said, “Actually, Satan is making a wager with God. Satan attacked our weakness through the words of these leaders with the intention of letting us forsake the true way and leave God out of timidness. Satan is too insidious.” My wife added, “Satan is purely evil! If it were not for God’s words and your fellowship, how could we know it is Satan’s trick?” I said happily, “Since we have learned about it, we should break through Satan’s encirclement by depending on God, stand witness for Him and take practical action to shame Satan.” Sister Zhang was also pleased to say, “Brother, sister, shall we get together to communicate about God’s words more in the future? It is only through this way that we can equip ourselves with more truths and be confident in God’s work in the last days soon.” I responded, “Great. How much better it would be if you could come to communicate with us every day.” Sister Mu said with smile, “Then this is it.”

One morning several days later, when I got up and went to the window, I found everything outside covered in heavy snow, and could not help rubbing my hands. Then I put on my lambskin hat and cotton gloves, went straight to the courtyard, and began to sweep the snow to the gate. After the snow removal, I walked into the room, lighted the coal stove and made the fire burn up, while my wife was cleaning our home. Just at that moment, my brother-in-law came with his wife. His wife said impatiently as soon as she got indoors, “How could you behave like that? Leader Wang and Co-worker Guan have spoken so much to you; why did you not listen to them? Today they especially asked us to come and advise you against believing in the Eastern Lightening. This shows that they take care of our life.” Hearing her words, I firmly said, “If they were really responsible for our life, they should lead us to investigate the work of Almighty God and meet the return of the Lord.” My wife then said frankly, “How could they possibly do us a good turn? They only fear that we won’t listen to them after believing in Almighty God.” Upon hearing this, the wife of my brother-in-law said in an irritable voice, “What makes you say so? Actually, they simply ask you to return to the church, nothing else. Just take my advice. With our relationship, never will I harm you.” My brother-in-law added, “Think about how we treated you these years. Don’t you cherish our kinship just for believing in Almighty God? Do you know how much we have given to you? Do you have the heart to separate yourselves from us now? Does your conscience allow you to do so?” After hearing what they said, I felt awful sorry, thinking: The couple indeed helped us a lot. They must be particularly bitter right now. What would I do? Anyway, they will absolutely not make me give up the true way, for I’m sure that Almighty God is the coming of the Lord Jesus. But how will they see me if I insist on believing in Almighty God? Will they say I am ungrateful? At that point, there was a seesaw battle in my heart, making me feel miserable. I silently prayed for God to give me a way out. Suddenly, one of God’s phrases came across my mind, “Everything that happens to people is when God needs them to stand firm in their testimony to Him” (“Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Then I thought back to the communications of Sister Zhang and Sister Mu a few days ago. Whenever we are faced with something, it bears a relationship to the spiritual battle, that is, Satan is making a bet with God and we should stand firm in our testimony to God. Thinking about this, my heart suddenly brightened. I said, “Brother, sister, I understand you are doing for our good. Just for this reason, I even more need to tell you that Almighty God is the very return of the Lord Jesus. Only when we keep pace with the work of Almighty God in the last days can we be saved by God. How about I read a passage of God’s words for you? You will know whether it is the utterance from the return of the Lord Jesus.” Then I took up the book of God’s words to read, but my sister-in-law suddenly got to her feet, saying gruffly, “We come here to persuade you. You don’t turn back but preach the gospel to us. We won’t listen to you.” With this said, she left in anger holding her husband’s hand.

Behind them, I went out to close the door. Then I walked to the courtyard and saw the sky had cleared up. With the beautiful sunlight shining on the pines outside the courtyard, the snow on the trees began to melt. The pines seemed to have just undergone a baptism, looking exceptionally green tall and straight in sharp relief against the snow-covered ground. I felt very glad in my heart and knew it was God’s word that led me to break through the encirclement and stand firm in my testimony. I give thanks to Almighty God! All the glory goes to Him!

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