By Li Yinghua, South Korea
Editor’s Note: In recent years lots of brothers and sisters who are genuine believers in the Lord have very clearly felt that their churches have become more and more desolate, and that their pastors are always preaching about the same old things that can’t resolve people’s practical difficulties. Brothers and sisters are becoming weak and negative, and living in sin; they can’t feel the presence of the Lord, and thus quite a few of them wish to seek out a church with the work of the Holy Spirit. So then, what kind of church really does possess the Holy Spirit’s work, and how can we find one? I believe that Sister Li Yinghua’s experience can show us the way.
My Faith Waned When I Couldn’t Find a Church With the Holy Spirit’s Work
I was baptized and became a Christian in 1990, and from then on I was consistent in my enthusiastic service for the church. For the first few years the gospel was thriving in our church; brothers and sisters were bursting with faith, had love for each other, and had great enjoyment in gatherings. Everyone was incredibly enthusiastic and we could feel the presence of the Lord. But over time I realized that the church had become more and more desolate; the pastors were always preaching about the same old stuff and there was never any new enlightenment; the sermons couldn’t resolve brothers’ and sisters’ practical difficulties. They would frequently exalt themselves, talking about how they had given up so much and expended themselves for the Lord, fully dedicating themselves in their work for the Lord. A lot of brothers and sisters adulated them and looked up to them. Plus, there were often a lot of conflicts between church members over petty little things—when together, if they weren’t judging each other, they were just engaging in chit-chat. Our team leader would often vie with other districts over the gospel team’s number of conversions in order to please the church founder and would even have believers take on fake names to bolster the number of baptisms performed. This turned the church into a battlefield in a struggle for name and gain. In that kind of church I couldn’t feel the work of the Holy Spirit at all. My heart was full of emptiness and helplessness, and my spiritual hunger and thirst became practically unbearable. This is why I got the idea to go out and look for a church with the Holy Spirit’s work.
Some time later a deacon I knew gave me a booklet and an audio tape from a church in another area that had a great deal of content that was totally new for me. I really felt that that church appeared to have the work of the Holy Spirit, so I left the church I had been attending. But before long I realized that in their gatherings they never talked about the words of the Lord Jesus, but instead focused on explaining biblical prophecies and looking into deep, profound mysteries. All that did was satisfy passing curiosity for me, but it couldn’t provide me with sustenance in life, so I decided to leave that church behind, too. I found another church after that but all their fellowship in gatherings was about books written by spiritual personages and the Bible was just used as a reference book. I felt that really wasn’t in line with the Lord’s will, plus their sermons never filled my soul. I completely lost my direction and lost faith in the Lord—I was living in a tepid state. I would then ask myself if I was wheat or a tare every time I thought of the Lord Jesus saying, “And in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather you together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn” (Matthew 13:30). I knew that if I continued to be so remiss in my faith I would never gain the Lord’s approval, so wasn’t I a tare? The more I thought about it the more negative I felt—I became really upset. All I knew to do was keep praying and pleading with the Lord, asking Him to lead me to find a true church with the work of the Holy Spirit.
A Gathering With Fellowship That Contains Light, Maybe Their Church Has the Holy Spirit’s Work?
In August 2018 a friend learned that I was looking for a church with the work of the Holy Spirit and said she had been to such a church where the brothers and sisters integrated the Bible with their fellowship in a way that was enlightening and illuminating. They fellowshiped very clearly on the Lord’s will and their path of practice when encountering issues. This sister asked me if I wanted to go check it out—I agreed right away.
My friend arranged to have Brother Zhongcheng share fellowship with me the following day. When our conversation got to the topic of the Lord Jesus returning in the last days, he asked me if I had ever thought about how I should welcome the Lord’s second coming. I said I hadn’t and asked him to share his fellowship. Brother Zhongcheng read some prophecies from Scripture for me. “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” (Revelation 3:20). “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7). He then shared this fellowship: “In fact, the Lord Jesus long ago shared with us the way to welcoming the Lord through these prophecies. When the Lord returns in the last days He will utter more words to the churches—He will knock on the doors of our hearts with His words. If we do long for the Lord’s coming we should pay close attention to heeding God’s voice; we should be able to recognize His voice from His words and accept and submit to this. This way we’ll be able to welcome the Lord’s return and attend the banquet with Him. Just like the Lord Jesus’ disciples like Peter, John, and Matthew—they heard the Lord Jesus’ sermons and saw that His words contained power and authority; they recognized God’s voice within that and determined that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah they had been awaiting. And so, they followed the Lord and gained the watering and sustenance of God’s waters of life; they enjoyed the guidance of the Holy Spirit’s work. The Lord Jesus also prophesied, ‘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’ (John 12:48). ‘Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come’ (Revelation 14:7). We can see from this that when God comes in the last days He’s going to do the work of judgment beginning with the house of God; He’ll utter words, judging and cleansing all those who follow Him. We are now in the last days and the prophecies of the Lord’s second coming have basically all been fulfilled. As long as we are wise virgins, actively seeking and investigating when we hear someone bear witness that the Lord has returned, spoken, and done the work of judgment, if we can confirm that it is God’s voice and an expression of the truth, we should accept and obey it. That’s the only way we’ll be able to keep up with God’s new work and obtain the work of the Holy Spirit.”
Brother Zhongcheng’s fellowship, integrating Bible prophecies with practical examples was very well-founded; it was both novel and surprising for me. After believing in the Lord for most of my life, that was the first time I had heard such enlightening fellowship. I thought, “Their church might have the Holy Spirit’s work. I should really look into it.” When I was about to leave Brother Zhongcheng gave me a book, God’s Sheep Hear the Voice of God, and told me I should read and ponder what it says.
This Church With the Holy Spirit’s Work Is Worth Investigating
After getting home I eagerly opened the book, and what I saw in the table of contents immediately caught my eye—I saw written there “The Appearance of God Has Ushered in a New Age,” “You Must Know the Truths of God’s Names,” “You Must Know the Truths About the Three Stages of God’s Work,” “You Must Know the Truths About the Incarnation of God,” “Several Forms of Differentiation That You Should Possess in Your Belief in God,” and so on. They were all truths about how we should know God and His work. Most of the spiritual books I had read before were all about the experiences and understandings of spiritual personages and hardly ever had anything teaching people to know God and His work or how to gain discernment. I felt this book, God’s Sheep Hear the Voice of God, was really wonderful. I eagerly read on. I saw this passage in it: “All those who are within the stream of the Holy Spirit are possessed of the presence and discipline of the Holy Spirit, and those who are not within the stream of the Holy Spirit are under the command of Satan, and without any of the work of the Holy Spirit. People who are in the stream of the Holy Spirit are those who accept the new work of God, the ones who cooperate in the new work of God. … Those who accept the new work of the Holy Spirit, will live within the stream of the Holy Spirit, receive the care and protection of the Holy Spirit. Those who are willing to put the truth into practice are enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and those who are unwilling to put the truth into practice are disciplined by the Holy Spirit, and may even be punished. Regardless of what kind of person they are, provided that they are within the stream of the Holy Spirit, God will take responsibility for all those who accept His new work for the sake of His name. Those who glorify His name and are willing to put His words into practice will receive His blessings; those who disobey Him and do not put His words into practice will receive His punishment. … Not so for the people who do not accept the new work: They are outside the stream of the Holy Spirit, and the discipline and reproach of the Holy Spirit do not apply to them. All day, these people live within the flesh, they live within their minds, and all that they do is according to the doctrine produced by the analysis and research of their own brains. It is not the requirements of the Holy Spirit’s new work, much less is it cooperation with God. Those who do not accept the new work of God are bereft of the presence of God, and, moreover, devoid of the blessings and protection of God. Most of their words and actions hold to the past requirements of the Holy Spirit’s work; they are doctrine, not truth. Such doctrine and regulation are sufficient to prove that the only thing that brings them together is religion; they are not the chosen ones, or the objects of God’s work. The assembly of all those among them can only be called a grand congress of religion, and cannot be called a church. This is an unalterable fact” (“God’s Work and Man’s Practice” in).
Pondering these words I had a bit of an understanding that only those who accept God’s new work can live within the stream of the Holy Spirit, have the Holy Spirit’s accompaniment and work, and only when people like that gather together can it be called a church. Within that kind of church people who put the truth into practice are able to gain the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit, and they have God’s care and protection, while those who don’t put the truth into practice only receive the Holy Spirit’s discipline and punishment. However, those who do not accept God’s new work exist outside of the stream of the Holy Spirit and thus do not have God with them, and they particularly don’t have the Holy Spirit’s discipline. No wonder I hadn’t been able to feel the Holy Spirit’s work no matter what church I went to, and the pastors and elders weren’t subjected to the Holy Spirit’s discipline no matter how much they engaged in intrigue and cheated the Lord. It was because God has done new work and they had not kept up with God’s footsteps and were no longer within the stream of the Holy Spirit. That’s why they couldn’t gain God’s discipline. In addition, this passage talked about how because people who don’t accept God’s new work don’t have the work of the Holy Spirit, everything they do depends on human intellectual analysis and research. Their heads are full of doctrines, not truths, so that’s why it can’t be called a church, but just a religion. I thought of how the pastors and elders had nothing to preach about, but just exhaustively talked about the same biblical doctrines to exhort people, but it was completely lacking in light and couldn’t resolve our practical difficulties at all. Plus the pastors would even have believers be baptized under fake names to pad their numbers. Those kinds of actions weren’t from God at all, but were things they thought of themselves. Brothers and sisters also rarely had fellowship on the Lord’s will when they were together, but just chatted about worldly things. How could the Lord approve of that sort of church? Apparently our church really had become just a religious venue.
Reading further, I saw this passage from sermons and fellowship: “For there is nothing of the work of the Holy Spirit in religious venues, and they are places which disgust God, which are loathed by God, and are condemned and cursed by Him. God has never recognized religion, much less has He ever praised it, and from the time of the Lord Jesus the religious community has been condemned by God. Thus, when you believe in God you must find places that contain the work of the Holy Spirit; only these are true churches, and only in true churches will you be able to hear the voice of God, and discover the footprints of the work of God. Such is the means by which God is sought” (“Results That Can Be Achieved Through a Genuine Understanding of the Truth” in Collection of Sermons—Supply for Life).
Reading this passage of fellowship further clarified for me that a religious venue is a place abandoned by God, and when He comes He will not appear and work in those places. I knew I had to find a church that truly has the work of the Holy Spirit in order to hear God’s voice and welcome the Lord’s second coming. I felt that these are such wonderful words—reading them was enjoyable and brightened my heart, so I continued on. Through reading this book, God’s Sheep Hear the Voice of God, I gained some understanding of all sorts of mysteries of the truth such as why God was called Jehovah in the Age of Law and Jesus in the Age of Grace, and the fruit borne by His work both ages. Those were things I had never heard before in the religious community—I saw that the Holy Spirit really is working in that church and it would be very worthwhile for me to go look into it. I lost no time getting in touch with my friend and asking her to go to that church with me to have a look.