By Qing Ting, China
In 1989, I followed along with my mother in accepting the gospel of the Lord Jesus. After I began to believe in the Lord, through often attending gatherings and reading the Scriptures, I came to know that it was God who created the heaven, the earth, and everything therein, and that He had created mankind, and that it is God who provides everything for mankind. At that time the preacher would often tell us, “No matter how many difficulties there are, as long as we pray to God, God will help us. This is because the Lord said, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you: For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened’ (Matthew 7:7–8). The Lord is trustworthy, so if we have difficulties and pray to the Lord, the Lord will listen to our prayers. He speaks to us through the words of the Bible, and leads us through all difficulties….” After that, I entrusted everything to the Lord, no matter if they were the great or small matters in life. The Lord in fact listened to my prayers and guided me through the words of the Bible, and made all the things I sought come to fruition. Because of this I treasured the Bible more and more, and it was something inseparable from me that I would carry everywhere.
One Sunday in September of 1997, I came to a gathering just as I always had, and the elderly sister who was preaching said, “Give thanks to the Lord for His Grace. Today I have invited these two young sisters to fellowship to us, and you can ask whatever questions you have in mind….” All along, I had adored this elderly sister who had begun to believe in the Lord when she was 18 years old, and who was now 68. In her 50 years of belief, she had read the Bible with such vigor that she had worn out three copies, and she was quite proficient in the Bible, but today to my surprise she was letting these two twenty-something-year-old sisters preach to us. How long had they believed in the Lord? What message were they able to tell us? I wasn’t convinced, but because the elderly sister had recommended it, I didn’t say anything. When the young sisters taught us to sing a verse originated from Revelation 22:1–5, “A River of Water of Life,” I thought this verse was quite fresh and nice to listen to, so my heart was calmed. After that they also got us to sing another new verse, called “Has Already Appeared in the East,” and I thought that this hymn was also very good, and that it had character and energy. I thought it was more able to give people faith than the verses we had sung before in church. At that moment my heart was no longer conflicted about those two young sisters. But soon, one of the young sisters bore witness to the Lord Jesus having already returned, and also said that in the last days God has come again incarnate, appearing and working as the Son of man. She said that on the basis of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption, He has performed a stage of the work of word that judges and cleanses people, and that He has personally opened the little scroll…. As she was speaking, she set down the Bible and took out a book called The Scroll Opened by the Lamb, and my insides started to turn: “These people believe in God but actually put down the Bible. That definitely couldn’t be right! Where is the sense in believing in the Lord, but not reading the Bible? We base our faith in the Lord on the Bible, and we must read it at all times!” Just when I wanted to refute them, I saw the elderly sister nodding her head over and over, and I swallowed the words I was going to use to refute them. I thought, “If the elderly sister would approve of what they are preaching, with what knowledge I understand about the Bible I might not be able to refute them, and I would end up being embarrassed. It would be better to wait until they have left and then talk with the elderly sister. It is definitely not right to believe in God but leave the Bible behind, because in the Bible it says: ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God’ (2 Timothy 3:16). Since the Bible is given by inspiration of God, it represents the voice of God. Whether or not we abide by the Bible, indeed, is with regard to the great matter of whether we receive blessing or suffer misfortune, and I have to get a clear understanding of this matter. I must not let these two sisters mislead and deceive us.” I was panicked the whole time, carrying a belly full of worry. It wasn’t easy to wait until the gathering finished. I kept looking over at the elderly sister, seeing how she apparently approved of what the young sisters were fellowshiping. The whole time, she seemed calm and happy, and I couldn’t help but whisper to myself: “Why are you not saying anything? Are you just going to let them preach like this, abandoning the Bible? Is this what you call being a good steward for the Lord?”
On the way back home, the more I thought about it the more anxious I became. “I have read the Bible for seven or eight years, and now there are people getting me to abandon the Bible. Also, the elderly sister unexpectedly seems to think there is nothing wrong with it, but how is this in accordance with the demands of the Lord? But most of the brothers and sisters of the church have accepted Almighty God’s work in the last days, and if I do not accept it, on the off chance that the Lord really has returned and is in fact Almighty God, won’t I be missing the opportunity to welcome the Lord’s return?” Still, I had second thoughts about it. I couldn’t just accept the words of Almighty God and abandon the Bible as they had done, but what could I do? Because I was ill at ease in my heart, and the road under my feet seemed to be bumpy and uneven, I returned home all flustered. When my husband saw my bewildered expression, he quickly asked me, “Why are you so distracted? What is it that’s on your mind?” “Ah! Forget it, today two young sisters came to the church and preached to us, and said that the Lord Jesus had already returned and opened up the little scroll. They also gave each of us a book, and said that this is the new word of God. In the future, they’re getting us to only read this book called The Scroll Opened by the Lamb. What do you think? We have believed in the Lord for so many years, and all along have read the Bible, and the Bible has brought so much benefit to us. We can never abandon the Bible!” My husband also said in amazement, “Oh? Is that what’s going on?” After being in deep thought for a moment, he said, “I think you’re right. We must have a conscience toward the Lord, and we have to read the Bible in our belief in God. We can never abandon the Bible.” My husband’s certain answer strengthened my conviction in guarding the Bible.
In the evening, I knelt before the Bible and prayed impatiently to the Lord, beseeching the Lord to watch over His flock and not let people steal them away. A few days after this, I read the Bible just as before, and when Sunday came I got my Bible and set out in advance. I also put that book, The Scroll Opened by the Lamb, into my bag. Because I didn’t know how I should treat this book, I wanted to hear the opinions of the elderly sister and others. When I saw the elderly sister, I told her all of my notions about it. After she heard it, the elderly sister smiled and said, “Sister, this is certainly not a trivial matter, and is something we must treat with great caution. If we blindly come up with a judgment in treating the matter of the Lord’s return, it is very easy to commit an offense against the Lord. Sincerely pray in the presence of the Lord a bit more, and I have faith that the Lord will illuminate and enlighten us, so that we will understand His will.” I never thought that the elderly sister would say this, but when I looked at her attitude, it was as if she already had come to a final conclusion about this matter. That evening, I tossed and turned restlessly in my bed, and I could not get to sleep. I thought of how the elderly sister had believed in the Lord for so many years, and was a person with great discrimination. In those years the church was in great chaos, and she was able, in the midst of being coerced and pushed aside by pastors and elders, to firmly and decisively set aside her position in the Three-Self Patriotic Movement church and enter into the house church environment through praying and seeking the will of God. Living under the threat of imprisonment, she continued to serve the Lord. I greatly respected and admired her, and I believed that she would not this time just accept at will the work of Almighty God in the last days without prayer and seeking. “But this book, The Scroll Opened by the Lamb, has abandoned the Bible. No matter which way you look at it, that’s still wrong! Lord, what should I do?” At that time, I remembered the injunction of the elderly sister that one must pray and seek more about things he doesn’t understand well. At that, I knelt before the Lord in His presence and prayed: “Lord Jesus Christ of grace, our author and perfecter, the brothers and sisters of the church have all abandoned the Bible, and have begun reading a book called The Scroll Opened by the Lamb. They also say that this is Your new word, Lord! For so many years, when was there ever a person who believed in the Lord and abandoned the Bible? Yet today, all that is fellowshiped in gatherings is something other than the contents of the Bible. Lord! In what way am I to believe in You? I beseech You to show me the way forward, because You are the lamplight before me, the light on the road, and I await Your guidance.”
After that, I still brought the Bible with me to gatherings, and when I heard that the content communicated at gatherings was in keeping with the word of the Bible, I would reluctantly accept a little of it. I pretended not to hear whatever was not in keeping with the Bible, all the while waiting for the day when the brothers and sisters would awaken to the truth. But continuing on, I found that the condition of the brothers and sisters was becoming better and better, and each of their faces was brimming with happiness. On the other hand, my own mood was gradually sinking ever lower, and I would have to force myself to smile when responding to the brothers and sisters. One day at a gathering, I saw the brothers and sisters in high spirits fellowshiping what they had accepted and learned from the word of Almighty God, and every one of them seemed as elated as if he had just found a treasure. As for me, it was as if I could hardly understand what they fellowshiped, and that I was as dumb as a brick. I didn’t even have one sentence to add, and could only stand stupidly to one side. I felt very sorrowful and upset in my heart. I could only cry out to the Lord in my heart: “Lord! Before, You treated me with so much grace, and would often enlighten me. Why is it that You aren’t enlightening me now? Could it be that You don’t want me? Lord, You are my only hope, and I beseech You not to forsake me….” Even though I cried out to the Lord with great effort, I still felt no response or consolation from the Lord whatsoever. My heart grew cold: The Lord does not want me …
When I returned home, I could no longer bear the grief in my heart. I lay prostrate on my bed and involuntarily cried out to the Lord: “Lord, You know I love You, and no matter what circumstances arise, I just can’t abandon the Bible and shun You. But I have believed in You for many years, and I’ve never felt such a darkness in my spirit. Lord! I ask You not to turn Your face away from me. May You have pity on me. The brothers and sisters all say that the new words are Your voice, having returned. In reading these words they have all received a great harvest, and are all living in joy and happiness, yet I have fallen down into darkness and can no longer feel Your presence. Lord! I am suffering deeply in my heart, and I’m also perplexed, not knowing how to face all of this. Lord! Is this book, The Scroll Opened by the Lamb, really Your voice, having returned? If so, I beseech You to enlighten and guide me! Allow me to understand Your voice, as I too want to follow You!” At that point in my prayer, an image of the Lord Jesus standing outside knocking at my door suddenly appeared in my mind, and it was as if the Lord had already been outside waiting for me for a long time. I was startled, and suddenly realized that by continuing to uphold the Bible and not accepting Almighty God, I was closing the door on the Lord Jesus. I immediately blamed myself, repented, and felt tears of indebtedness force their way out of my eyes…. I couldn’t even wipe the tears away, and hurried to get up off the floor. I took out my Bible and read Revelation 3:20–22: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me. To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” I was certain this was the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. At this, I knelt again in the presence of the Lord, my tears of repentance flowing nonstop: “My Lord, Almighty God, I didn’t think I would treat Your arrival in a way such as this … it was that I was blind and ignorant, and couldn’t understand Your voice when You knocked at my door, and shut You outside the door … I caused You to feel hurt and disappointed … if it weren’t for Your mercy, I might still be forsaking Your voice, and living in darkness. Almighty God! I want to come around to You, accept Your word, and ask for You to continue to work Your salvation on me.” After my prayer, in my heart I felt a sense of unparalleled liberation, and it seemed that the massive stone that had been pressing down on my heart had been lifted. My heart felt so light! After this, as long as I had time I would read the word of Almighty God. I was eager to make up for all the time I lost, but I still felt perplexed in the depths of my spirit about the matter of God’s work leaving behind the Bible.
One day, I opened up the word of God, and read: “How should the Bible be approached in the belief in God? This is a question of principle. … For many years, people’s traditional means of belief (that of Christianity, one of the world’s three major religions) has been to read the Bible; departure from the Bible is not the belief in the Lord, departure from the Bible is heterodoxy and heresy, and even when people read other books, the foundation of these books must be the explanation of the Bible. Which is to say, if you say you believe in the Lord, then you must read the Bible, you must eat and drink the Bible, and outside the Bible you must not worship any book that does not involve the Bible. If you do, then you are betraying God. 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” (“Concerning the Bible (1)” in). After reading this passage of God’s word, it was as if I were face to face with God. Yes, what I was thinking was the same as what God revealed; I thought that one needed to read the Bible to believe in God and could not read any other books besides the Bible, or else he was betraying God. But I was still confused: “Isn’t the Bible given by inspiration of God? In believing in the Lord, aren’t we following the Bible? Then, how great a difference is there really between returning to the presence of the Bible and returning to the presence of God?” I continued to search for an answer in the word of God. Soon after, I saw that the word of God says: “The Bible is a historical record of God’s work in Israel, and documents many of the foretellings of ancient prophets as well as some of the utterances of in His work at that time. Thus, people all look upon this book as holy (for God is holy and great). Of course, this is all a result of their reverence for Jehovah and their adoration for God. People refer to this book in this way only because the creatures of God are so adoring of their Creator, and there are even those who call this book a heavenly book. In fact, it is merely a human record. It was not personally named by Jehovah, nor did Jehovah personally guide its creation. In other words, the author of this book is not God, but men. The Holy Bible is only the respectful title given to it by man. This title was not decided by Jehovah and Jesus after They had a discussion amongst each other; it is nothing more than a human idea” (“Concerning the Bible (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). The word of Almighty God has revealed the eternal mystery, and has explained the enigmas of the Bible. It has also explained the difficulties in my heart. God’s word says: “The Bible is a historical record of God’s work in Israel.” Thinking about it carefully, I concluded: “It really is this way, and all that is recorded in the Bible is indeed the history of God’s work done in Israel. It is the work that God did in the Age of Law and the Age of Grace, but God is the God who created the heaven, the earth, and everything, and also rules over all mankind. God is always guiding and providing for mankind, so how can He only work in Israel? How could He say only what is in the Bible? The Bible is called the ‘Holy Book’ by people, because it records much of what God said. They give it this honorary title because of their reverence for God, but in fact the authors of the Bible are those ancient saints, prophets, and apostles, not God. It appears that the Bible is not all given by inspiration of God, and not all of it is the word of God. It is only a historical book for bearing witness to God. No wonder the Lord Jesus said: ‘Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me. And you will not come to Me, that you might have life’ (John 5:39–40).” Reading the word of Almighty God in comparison with the word of the Lord Jesus, I understood those words of the Lord all of a sudden. At this, I asked myself: “God is the Creator, and is the fountainhead of life. God can create the heaven, the earth, and everything therein, and rules over all things. Can the Bible do this work? It can’t. Looking at it like this, it seems the Bible certainly can’t represent God. God and the Bible are not on an equal level. I should follow the footsteps of God, and shouldn’t uphold the Bible and reject God’s new work.” The more I pondered God’s word, the more knowledge I had about the essence and inside story of the Bible, and the more I felt humiliated and ashamed. I thought about the notions I had cherished for so many years in believing in God, and I thought the Bible was as important as God. I treated them equally, and thought that leaving behind the Bible meant not believing in God. But in fact, I was not clear as to the essence of the Bible and its original value, and had never thought about what difference there was between believing in the Lord and believing in the Bible. The practical meaning of believing in God was all unknown, and in fact I regarded my own notions as the truth, and spoke nonsense. I rejected God’s work and word in the last days, and was really too foolish and ignorant, too arrogant and without reason. But God did not treat me on the basis of my ignorance, and did not condemn me, but still enlightened and guided me. He brought me step by step away from the Bible, and I came before the throne of God, so that I could receive the nurturing and sustenance of the word of Almighty God and gradually understand some of the truth and know the essence of the Bible. The door of my heart that had been sealed for so long was finally opened to God, and I could no longer evade God’s salvation. Rather, in the new voice of God, I enjoy as much as I like of the provision of water of life that flows from the throne. I sincerely offer up thanks and praise to God!