By Ding Feng, China
Over the past few years, I have always toiled and busied myself in order to “protect the Bible and guard the flock,” yet I never expected that my wife, my mother and my father-in-law would be stolen away by, one after another. My wife also preached the way of Eastern Lightning to me, but I refused to accept it. In order to prove my loyalty to the Lord and, more importantly, to safeguard the Bible’s absolute authority, I took a devout oath before my brothers and sisters, saying, “God’s words and work are all recorded in the Bible and the Bible contains the whole truth. There are no words or work of God outside the Bible, and we must not betray the Bible no matter what!” In this way, I remained clinging to my own convictions, and I did not study the way of Eastern Lightning.
My Heart Begins to Waver When I First Hear God’s Words
One evening, I was pacing back and forth in my room thinking of the next day’s meeting and feeling a little concerned. I thought to myself: “These past couple of years, all I do is hold the Bible and spout tired old clichés that even I find dry and dull. The brothers and sisters don’t want to hear this either, so what should I do?” I thought deeply about this for a long time but still didn’t come up with any way to solve the problem. And yet I couldn’t not preach to my congregation, so all I could do was stubbornly take up my Bible and prepare my sermon for the next day. When I opened the Bible, I found a piece of paper covered in writing that had been hidden within the pages. I lifted it out and read these words: “God will accomplish this fact: He will make all people throughout the universe come before Him, and worship the God on earth, and His work in other places will cease, and people will be forced to seek the true way. It will be like Joseph: Everyone came to him for food, and bowed down to him, for he had things to eat. In order to avoid famine people will be forced to seek the true way. The entire religious community is suffering severe famine, and only the God of today is the wellspring of living water, possessed of the ever-flowing wellspring provided for the enjoyment of man, and people will come and depend on Him. That will be the time when the deeds of God are revealed, and God is glorified; all people throughout the universe will worship this unremarkable ‘man.’ Will this not be the day of God’s glory?” (“The Millennial Kingdom Has Arrived” in).
After reading these words, I knew that my wife had put them here for me to see, and that she had done it to get me to study Eastern Lightning. But we took different views and I just couldn’t bring myself to study it. I pondered deeply for a moment, however, and I contemplated the words carefully. I thought that they did indeed make sense—the religious world was now entirely desolate, pastors and elders worked and preached in such tired, old ways without a shred of new light, and the enthusiasm and energy believers had when they first began to believe had disappeared. They could not keep the Lord’s teachings, they lived in a vicious cycle of sinning and confessing, and their sins grew and grew to the point where many believers couldn’t resist the seductions of the dazzling world any longer, and they took their leave from the Lord … These were all facts! Only Eastern Lightning testified that the Lord had returned to perform a new work and to express new words. This was at odds with my own understanding, however, and I could only believe in the Bible, and I was unable to accept any word or work that was not to be found within the pages of the Bible. Then I thought of how the pastors always used great emphasis when they said, “God’s words and work are all recorded in the Bible, and we can see God’s words and work from Genesis to the Book of Revelation. There cannot possibly be a second book beyond the Bible that records God’s work and words!” All of God’s words and work are recorded in the Bible and there are none outside the Bible. What Eastern Lightning was saying sounded good and authoritative, and I felt that these words could not have been spoken by an ordinary person. It was just that they went beyond the Bible, however, and so I felt like I couldn’t listen to them. Thinking this, I stuffed the piece of paper into the very bottom of my drawer.
I Question Every Word and Hear a Knocking at the Door to My Heart
Several days later, I found out that Sister Li had also accepted Eastern Lightning, and I felt very worried. I thought about how Sister Li was such a sincere believer in the Lord and how she had such a good understanding of spiritual matters. She was also very loving to her brothers and sisters, and I just couldn’t let her be stolen away by Eastern Lightning. And so, I hurried to Sister Li’s home and expounded to her a little on the Bible, and I said to her, “Sister Li, God’s words and work are all recorded in the Bible and there are none outside the Bible. If we believe in God, then we cannot depart from the Bible. Eastern Lightning testifies that God is performing a new work, and this clearly goes beyond the Bible. We cannot believe it….” To my surprise, without waiting for me to finish what I was saying, Sister Li retorted with a question: “Brother, I have a question I’d like to ask you. You always say that God’s words and work are recorded in the Bible, but which is the greater—God or the Bible? Did God’s words and work come first, or did the Bible come first?” Hearing this, my heart began to thump, and I thought to myself: “Which is greater, God or the Bible? Did God’s words and work come first or did the Bible come first? These questions were completely new to my ears and I had never heard or thought such things before! No human mind could have come up with these words, so these questions must have come from Eastern Lightning’s book. It seemed that Eastern Lightning was special!” But then I thought, “No! Isn’t she saying this just so that I will diverge from the Bible?”
I then said to Sister Li, “There is no differentiation in greatness between God and the Bible. A belief in God is a belief in the Bible, and vice versa. Believing in God in accordance with the Bible can never be wrong.” Unexpectedly, Sister Li once again retorted with a question: “There was no Bible at the time of Moses, so was he a believer in God? Did Jesus’ disciples follow Him on the basis of the Old Testament? The Pharisees held to the Old Testament and yet they were condemned by Jesus. Why was that? Can you explain it?” Sister Li’s questions astonished me, and I was momentarily stumped. I thought it over: “Sister Li only accepted Eastern Lightning a few days ago and everything she says goes far beyond the Bible. She says things that I have never before heard or even considered. Even if I brought all my knowledge of the Bible to bear, I still wouldn’t be able to answer her questions!”
Looking at Sister Li, I felt a little embarrassed, but if I didn’t reply then I would look like I didn’t know anything. So I diverged from the topic at hand, said a little on another subject and then went home.
My attempt to advise Sister Li had failed, and I felt upset, but I also felt very confused: “Pastors and elders are now slandering and condemning Eastern Lightning wherever they go, and I toil and busy myself every day in order to ‘guard the flock.’ My church is sealed so tightly, and yet some believers with good spiritual understandings and who are pretty good pursuers of the truth are constantly accepting Eastern Lightning. Where on earth do these Eastern Lightning believers get such great faith from? They tirelessly go to any trouble to preach the gospel to others and are so loving and patient. What on earth is this all about?”
God’s Words Guide Me and My Heart Is Stirred
Toward evening one day, I returned home to find a sister there who was unknown to me, and I thought this must surely be someone my wife had asked over to preach the gospel to me. Thinking of how more and more brothers and sisters were accepting Eastern Lightning nowadays, I was extremely curious about the sermons preached by Eastern Lightning, and why they seemed to hold such power, so I decided to listen.
After dinner, the sister spoke to me about the desolation in the religious world, saying that instances of unlawful activity in the religious world were becoming more and more numerous. Religious leaders were not following the way of the Lord and neither were they practicing the Lord’s words; they just preached about biblical knowledge and theological theories so as to show themselves off and testify to themselves. They were not exalting God or testifying to God in the slightest, they had completely strayed from the Lord’s way, and many believers grew cold in their faith and love. No one kept the Lord’s teachings anymore, but instead everyone was now living in a state of sinning and confessing, and this precisely fulfilled the Lord’s prophecy about the last days: “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12). The sister told the facts, but I thought that if she continued to preach to me, she would surely get to God’s work of the last days, and so I said hastily, “Sister, you can fellowship about the Bible, but if you fellowship about the Lord Jesus returning to speak words and perform work then you can stop right there. All of God’s words and work are in the Bible and the Bible contains the whole of God’s salvation. There are none of God’s words or work outside the Bible, and I will not listen to any sermon that goes beyond the Bible.” The sister saw how resistant I was, and so she said a silent prayer and then read to me a passage of God’s words: “Today, God has new work. You may not accept these words, they may feel odd to you, but I advise you not to reveal your naturalness, for only those who truly hunger and thirst for righteousness before God can obtain the truth, and only those who are truly devout can be enlightened and guided by God. Nothing will come of seeking the truth through quarreling. Only by seeking calmly can we obtain results. When I say that ‘Today, God has new work,’ I am referring to God’s return to flesh. Perhaps you do not mind these words, perhaps you despise them, or perhaps they are of great interest to you. Whatever the case, I hope that all those who truly yearn for the appearance of God can face this fact and give it careful consideration. It is best not to jump to conclusions. This is the way that wise people should act” (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh).
After listening to her, I thought to myself: “These words are sincere and earnest and they speak the thoughts that are in my heart. What’s more, they ask people to seek in all things, and this is in accord with the Lord Jesus’ teachings: ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you’ (Matthew 7:7). Should I be approaching Eastern Lightning with a seeking heart?”
Just then, my wife read another passage of God’s words to me: “Not ever does the work of God conform to the conceptions of man, for His work is always new and never old. Not ever does He repeat work of old but rather forges ahead with work never before done. As God does not repeat His work and man invariably judges the work of God today based on His work of the past, it is exceedingly difficult for God to carry out each stage of work of the new age. Man presents far too many hindrances! The thinking of man is too hidebound! No man knows the work of God, yet they all define such work. Away from God, man loses life, truth, and the blessings of God, yet neither does man accept life nor truth, much less the greater blessings God bestows upon mankind. All men wish to gain God yet are unable to tolerate any changes in God’s work. Those who do not accept the new work of God believe that the work of God is changeless, and that the work of God forever remains at a standstill. In their belief, all that is needed to gain eternal salvation from God is to keep the law, and as long as they repent and confess their sins, the will of God will be forever satisfied. They are of the opinion that God can only be the God under the law and the God who was nailed on the cross for man; it is their opinion too that God should not and cannot exceed the Bible. It is precisely these opinions that have shackled them firmly to the law of old and kept them fettered by rigid regulations” (“How Can Man Who Has Defined God in His Conceptions Receive the Revelations of God?”).
After my wife had read this passage of God’s words, the sister then gave me fellowship: “Brother, why is it that every time God begins a new stage of work, there are some people who always resist and condemn it? God’s words now reveal the root cause of this issue, and it is mainly because people are arrogant and conceited, because they always cling to their own misconceptions and delimit God to the Bible in the belief that God could not possibly depart from the Bible to perform any new work, and that any departure from the Bible is not a real belief in God. Therefore, when they encounter God’s new words and work, they don’t heed it, they don’t see it, and they don’t get close to it. Instead, they just blindly condemn it as not being God’s new work, and doesn’t that make them no different from the Pharisees at the time of Jesus? God is ever new and never old, and He performs a different work in each age. When the Lord Jesus came, for example, He ushered in the Age of Grace and brought the Age of Law to a close. He performed the stage of work of the redemption of mankind, proclaimed the way of repentance and was crucified upon the cross in order to take upon Himself the sins of mankind. He thereby redeemed man from being condemned by the laws and allowed them to continue to enjoy God’s guidance and blessings. Although our sins were forgiven, our sinful nature remained, and we are still capable of uncontrollably committing sins and resisting God, which makes us simply unqualified to see the Lord face to face or enter into God’s kingdom. Therefore, in order to purify and save us completely, God has once again returned in the flesh in the last days and, on the foundation of Jesus’ work of redemption, He expresses the truth and performs the work of judgment so that our satanic dispositions may be cleansed and changed, and to enable us to thoroughly cast off the bonds of sin and ultimately attain God’s salvation. From this, we can see that God’s work is not something that never changes, but rather is something that forges ever onward according to our needs as corrupt mankind; it grows in profundity with each stage, and every stage of work is a higher work than the stage which preceded it. Only by humbly seeking, by letting go of our own misconceptions and imaginings and by closely following the steps of God’s work can we attain both truth and life.
“We human beings don’t know God’s work, however, and we don’t seek the truth. When God’s work seems at odds with our misconceptions, we then condemn God and resist Him. But what are the consequences of treating God’s new work in this way? Thinking back to when the Lord Jesus came to perform His work, we can see that He not only went beyond the laws of the Old Testament, but that He also expressed many truths besides the laws, He healed the sick and cast out demons and performed many signs and wonders. The words and work of the Lord Jesus possessed authority and power, and many people recognized within His words and work that the Lord Jesus was the foretold Messiah, and so they followed the Lord and received His redemption. Those Pharisees who knew the Bible well and who served God in the temple, however, had no shred of a seeking heart; they were arrogant and conceited, they delimited God’s words and work to the Old Testament, and they used the fact that the Lord Jesus’ words and work went beyond the Old Testament to deny and condemn it. They stubbornly clung to the Old Testament and refused to accept the Lord Jesus’ words and work. They also crucified the Lord Jesus upon the cross, thus committing a heinous sin, and they were cursed and punished by God—the lesson of the Pharisees’ believing in God and yet resisting Him must be taken as a warning! God now speaks of the root cause of why we human beings resist Him, in the hope that we will be able to let go of our own misconceptions and imaginings and no longer delimit His work. We must learn to seek the truth and focus on listening to God’s voice, for only in that way will we be able to keep up with the footsteps of the Lamb and gain the truth that God bestows upon us!”
Hearing the words ofand the sister’s fellowship gave me a feeling I had never felt before. Although the words of Almighty God are not recorded in the Bible, yet they overflow with authority and power and they completely reveal the root cause of why people resist God. These are not words that could have been spoken by any human being, but are quite possibly inspired by the Holy Spirit, I thought. I should no longer blindly condemn Eastern Lightning. But I thought then of the oath I had sworn before my brothers and sisters, and my heart once again became mired in indecision …