God says, “No matter what kind of refinement you undergo in your experiences from God’s words, God requires mankind’s faith. This way, what is perfected are people’s faith and aspirations. You cannot touch or see it; it is under these circumstances that your faith is required. People’s faith is required for when something cannot be seen by the naked eye, and your faith is required for when you cannot let go of your own notions. When you are not clear on God’s work, what is required is your faith and that you take a firm stance and stand witness. When Job reached this point, God appeared to him and spoke to him. That is, it is only from within your faith that you will be able to see God, and when you have faith God will perfect you. Without faith, He cannot do this. God will bestow upon you whatever you hope to gain.”
from The Word Appears in the Flesh
Embarking on the Path of Belief in God
By Rongguang, Heilongjiang Province
In 1991, by the grace of God, I began to follow Almighty God because of an illness. At that time I didn’t know anything about believing in God, but the amazing thing is that, when reading the words expressed by Almighty God, I enjoyed it. I felt that His words were so good, and when I sang or prayed I was frequently moved by the Holy Spirit to the point of weeping. That sweetness in my heart, that enjoyment was as if a joyous event had come upon me. Particularly when I was in gatherings with brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit would do such great work, and through singing hymns, reading God’s words, and fellowshiping on the truth, I felt so bright and at ease in my heart. I felt as if I had transcended the flesh and I was living in the third heaven, that everything belonging to the world had been cast to the winds. I was very joyful and happy. So at that time I believed that believing in God was just enjoying His grace and blessings.
As more and more of God’s words were being released (at the time they were being continuously sent to the churches, passage after passage), I also knew more and more. When I saw “firstborn sons” mentioned in His words and I learned that God bestows great blessings on His firstborn sons, I sought to become one, hoping that in the future I could reign with God. Later on, I saw His words as follows: “The days will come to an end; all things in the world will come to nothing, and all things will be born anew. Remember this! Remember this! There can be no ambiguity! Heaven and earth shall pass away but My words shall not pass away!” (“Chapter 15” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I felt even more urgency, and thought: I started believing in God so late; will I be unable to gain this blessing? I need to put more effort into it. So when the church arranged for me to perform a duty, I was very proactive. I wasn’t afraid of hardship. I decided to forsake everything to follow God so that I would be able to gain the blessing of being a firstborn son. In truth, God had never said definitively in His words that we could be firstborn sons. It was just because we were ambitious and had extravagant desires, we believed that because God had called us His sons and that He now uplifted us, that we would certainly become the firstborn. This was how I believed that I had, naturally, become a firstborn son. Later I saw words of God that had just been released that frequently mentioned “service-doers,” and there were more and more mentions of the judgment of service-doers. I didn’t take that to heart, but just thought happily: Luckily I am following Almighty God, otherwise I would become a service-doer. This is how, when I read about God’s blessings and promises for firstborn sons, I believed that a portion of that would be mine. When I read His words of comfort and exhortation for His firstborn, I also felt that they were addressed to me. I felt even more delighted particularly when I saw the following: “The great disasters will certainly not befall upon My sons, My beloved. I will look after My sons in every moment and in every second. You certainly will not endure that pain and suffering; rather, it is for the sake of the perfection of My sons and the fulfillment of My word in them, so that you may recognize My omnipotence, further grow in life, shoulder burdens for Me sooner, and devote your entire selves for the completion of My management plan. You should be glad and happy and rejoice because of this. I will hand over everything to you, allowing you to take control. I will place it in your hands. If a son inherits his father’s entire estate, how much more so with you, My firstborn sons? You are truly blessed. Instead of suffering from the great disasters, you will enjoy everlasting blessings. What glory! What glory!” (“Chapter 68” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I thought: Am I dreaming? Such incredible manna from heaven has landed upon me? I couldn’t completely dare to believe it, but I was afraid my brothers and sisters would say that my faith was too small, so I didn’t dare to not believe it.
One day, I excitedly went to participate in a meeting, and I saw that two leaders had come to the church. When I was in fellowship with them, they said that they were service-doers. After hearing this, I was shocked, and asked them: “If you are service-doers, aren’t we all service-doers?” They spoke the truth: “Nearly all of us in China are service-doers.” Hearing them say this, my heart sank: “It couldn’t be! Is this the truth?” But when I saw their heavy, pained expressions and that the others’ faces were also very somber, I couldn’t not believe it. I thought: As leaders, they have given up their families and careers, have suffered so much and paid such a great price for God’s work. I am quite lacking compared to them; if they are service-doers, what else could I say? I’ll just be a service-doer.
After going home, I once again took up the word of God and looked at what God had to say about service-doers, and I saw this: “Those who do service for Me, listen! You can receive some of My grace when doing service for Me. That is, you will know for a time about My later work and the things that will happen in the future, but you will absolutely not enjoy that. This is My grace. When your service is complete, leave at once and do not linger. Those who are My firstborn sons should not be arrogant, but you may be proud, for I have bestowed endless blessings upon you. Those who are targets for destructions should not bring trouble on yourselves or feel sorrow for your destiny; who made you a descendant of Satan? After you have done your service for Me, you may once again return to the bottomless pit because you will no longer be of use to Me and I shall begin to deal with you with My chastisement. Once I begin My work I do not ever stop; what I do shall be accomplished and what I accomplish shall last forever. This is applicable to My firstborn sons, My sons, My people, and this goes for you as well—My chastisements of you are everlasting” (“Chapter 86” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). As soon as I read these words I was beset by a pain I had never felt before. I quickly closed the booklet of God’s words and didn’t dare to look at it again. In one moment feelings of aggrievement, of confusion, of discontent all welled up in my heart. I thought: Yesterday I was in a cradle of happiness, but today I have been pushed out of God’s house. Yesterday I was God’s son, but today I have become God’s enemy, Satan’s descendant. Yesterday, the limitless blessings of God were awaiting me, but today the bottomless pit is my destination, and I will be punished into eternity. If He’s not bestowing blessings, then no matter, but why does He still have to chastise me? What on earth have I done wrong? What on earth is all of this for? The more I thought, the more I felt I couldn’t face this reality. I closed my eyes and wasn’t willing to think about it anymore. I hoped so much that it was just a dream.
From then on, as soon as I thought of myself as a service-doer, I felt an unspeakable pain in my heart, and I didn’t dare to read the words of God again. But God is very wise, and His words which chastise and reveal people are not only permeated with mystery, but there are also prophecies of the future catastrophe as well as the kingdom outlook and similar things. These were all things that I wanted to know, so I still could not turn my back on His words. When reading God’s words of revelation, His razor-sharp words repeatedly pierced my heart, and I couldn’t help but accept His judgment and chastisement. I felt that His majestic and wrathful judgment was always upon me. Aside from the pain, I knew the actual truth of my having been corrupted by Satan. It turned out that I was the child of the great red dragon, Satan’s descendant, and the target of destruction. In despair, I no longer dared to greedily hope for any blessings, and I was willing to accept God’s predestination that I was a service-doer. However, God examines people’s innermost hearts, and He knew that I had not truly let go of the motive to gain blessings. When I felt that I was willing to be a service-doer, God once again arranged an environment that brought out the corrupt disposition that had been hidden in me. One day when reading God’s words, I saw: “After I have returned to Zion, those on earth will continue to praise Me as in the past. Those loyal service-doers remain waiting to render service to Me but their function will have come to an end. The best that they can do is to contemplate the circumstance of Me being on the earth. At that time I will begin to bring down disaster upon those who will suffer calamity, but just as[a] all believe that I am a righteous God, I will certainly not punish those loyal service-doers and they will only receive My grace” (“Chapter 120” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Seeing this, I thought to myself: I will no longer think of the status of firstborn son and I will no longer want great blessings. Now I will only pursue being a loyal service-doer. This is now my sole pursuit. In the future, no matter what the church arranges for me to do, I will do it as devoutly as I can. I absolutely cannot lose the opportunity to be a loyal service-doer. If I am not even capable of being a loyal service-doer but am simply a service-doer, after I have completed my service I must return to the bottomless pit or the lake of fire and brimstone. In that case what is it all for? I didn’t dare to express this thought to anyone, but I couldn’t escape the searching from the eyes of God. I read God’s words saying: “No one can fathom the nature of man except Me, and they all think that they are loyal to Me, not knowing that their loyalty is impure. These impurities will ruin people for they are a scheme of the great red dragon. It was long ago laid bare by Me; I am the almighty God, and would I not understand something so simple? I am able to penetrate your blood and your flesh to see your intentions. It is not hard for Me to fathom man’s nature, but people try to be smart alecks, thinking that no one but themselves knows their intentions. Don’t they know that the almighty God exists within the heavens and earth and all things?” (“Chapter 118” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Most people now harbor a small hope, but when that hope turns to disappointment they become unwilling to go any further and ask to turn back. I have said before that I don’t keep anyone here against their will, but take care to think about what the consequences will be for you, and this is a fact, it is not Me threatening you” (“Chapter 118” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After reading this, my heart was pounding. I felt that God truly examines the deepest parts of man’s heart and has a thorough understanding of man. Whatever thoughts I have within me, God knows; I secretly hold some little hope in my heart and God hates it and is disgusted by it. Only at that time did I have a bit of a heart of reverence for God. I determined that I would no longer conduct transactions with God, but I would honestly act as a service-doer and obey His designs.
Only later did I know that my experience through these three months was the trial of service-doers. It was the first work God completed in people of a trial by His words. After undergoing the trial of service-doers, I understood that God is not only a merciful and loving God, but He is a righteous, majestic God who does not tolerate the offenses of mankind. His words contain authority and power, so people cannot help but develop a heart of reverence and fear. I also came to know that mankind is God’s creation, that we should believe in God and worship Him. This is what is right and proper. There need be no reasons, no conditions, and there must not be ambition or extravagant desires. If people believe in God in order to gain something from Him, then this type of belief is exploiting and cheating Him. It is an expression of lacking a conscience and reason and is even more treacherous. Even if people believe in God but gain nothing and later gain His punishment, they should believe in Him. Mankind should believe in and obey God because He is God. I also recognized that I myself am a son of the great red dragon, Satan’s descendant, and one of those who will perish. God is the Lord of all creation, and no matter how He treats me it is deserved. All of it is righteous, and I should obey His designs and arrangements without conditions. I should not try to reason with Him, and even more I should not resist Him. Thinking back to my own ugliness revealed in this trial, I felt truly shameful. I only wanted to gain some high status, great blessings, or even sit side-by-side with God and rule with Him. When I saw that I would not gain the blessings I had hoped for but instead would suffer catastrophe, I thought of betraying God and of leaving Him. These utterly transparent demonstrations made me clearly see that my goal in believing in God was to be blessed. I was trying to conduct transactions with God. I really was shameless, and I had completely lost the reason that a person should have. I truly was a descendant of Satan. If it had not been for such wisdom in God’s work—using the trial of service-doers to conquer me, to break my ambition of gaining blessings—I would still be racing down the false path of seeking blessings. I would not possibly have understood my own corrupt essence, and I particularly would not have obediently accepted the judgment and chastisement of God’s words. In the end, I certainly would have been done in by my own ambitions and desires, and the chance to be saved would have been forever lost to me.
After undergoing the trial of service-doers, I no longer dared to believe in God and fulfill my duty in order to gain blessings, and I no longer dared to do things with the intention of conducting transactions with God. I felt that exploiting and cheating God in this way was too despicable and evil. At the same time, I had an understanding that God using this trial to save mankind is His kind intention, and I knew that there is no part of Him that hates man, and His love for mankind has not changed since He created the world. In my heart, I was willing to pursue a path of loving God and satisfying God and repaying God’s love in my future faith in Him and fulfillment of my duty. However, because the intention of gaining blessings and conducting transactions with God was too entrenched in my heart, it was not possible to completely resolve it by experiencing just one trial. Later, God performed several successive trials—the trial of the times of chastisement, the trial of death, and the seven-year trial. Of these trials, the one that I suffered the most from and gained the most from was the seven-year trial of 1999.
In 1999, I was elected as a church leader. This happened to be the year that the gospel of the kingdom was greatly expanded, and the work arrangement required that we try to save everyone who had the possibility of being saved. When I saw this arrangement, I thought that God’s work would be done in 2000. So in order to obtain a favorable destination for myself when the time came, I made myself busy with the work of the gospel from early morning to late at night. As for the life of the church, I would just briefly involve myself and go through the motions. Even though I realized that my intentions were wrong, I just could not control my desire for gaining blessings, even to the extent that I felt that doing anything aside from the work of the gospel was just holding me up, even reading the word of God. It was this way that I threw myself into a fervor of work.
Before I knew it the year was over. I imagined that when God’s work was done, the great catastrophe would certainly occur, and so I just waited every day for the disaster, waiting for the end of God’s work. When the Spring Festival was right around the corner, there was fellowship from the church leader saying that it was necessary to undergo the seven-year trial. After hearing this message, I felt shaken and my heart was in turmoil. I couldn’t help but start to reason with God: A seven-year trial? How could another seven years be upon me—how can I live through this? Oh God, I beg You to extinguish me. I truly cannot endure this suffering anymore! The next day, I still could not escape from my depression. I thought: Anyway, there are seven years to go. Tomorrow is another day—I’ll go out and get this off my mind. As soon as I got on the bus, I felt the Holy Spirit was inside of me reproaching me: At the time you were willingly seeking, you had paid your price, and said that you would love God to the end, that you would never leave Him, that you would bear any hardships and share any joys. You were a hypocrite who fooled yourself! Facing the Holy Spirit’s reproach, I couldn’t help but hang my head, thinking: “It is true. Before, when I enjoyed God’s grace, I made promises to Him to expend myself for Him for my entire life, but now when there are difficulties and I must suffer, I want to go back on my word. So aren’t my promises just lies? God gave me so much love, and now when I encounter an environment that is not as I wish I have such great resentment to the point that I want to turn my back on God. I truly lack a conscience and reason!” When I thought of this, I was no longer in the mood to go out, but returned home with a heavy heart. Even though I had been forced into being “obedient,” when I thought of the fact that there were still seven years remaining in God’s work, I felt that believing in God was too painful, too difficult. I just indulged myself and whatever I did, I was not hurried or worried. I slogged through every day of fulfilling my duty like it was just another day on the clock. I lived in a negative and confrontational condition. Gradually, I lost the work of the Holy Spirit, and although I wanted to transform my own condition, I was unable to.
One day, I saw these words of God: “When some people first performed their duty, they were full of energy, as though it would never run out. But how come as they go along they seem to lose that energy? The person they were then and the person they are now are like two different people. Why did they change? What was the reason? It is because their faith in God went the wrong way before it got on the right track. They chose the wrong path. There was something hidden inside their initial pursuit, and at a key moment that thing emerged. What was hidden? It’s an anticipation that lies inside their hearts while they believe in God, the anticipation that the day of God is arriving soon so that their misery will be at an end; the anticipation that God will be transfigured and that all of their suffering will be over” (“Those Who Have Lost the Work of the Holy Spirit Are Most at Risk” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words caused me to seek the root of my problem. It turned out that I had a concealed hope within my pursuits, hoping that God’s day would come soon and that I would no longer suffer, that I would have a good destination. All along, my pursuits were dominated by this hope, and when my hope came to nothing, I suffered and fell apart to the point of wanting to betray God, even thinking of escaping through death. Only at that time did I see that I had followed God for so many years, but its essence wasn’t walking the path of pursuing the truth; I had always had my eye on the day of God, and I had been conducting transactions with Him in order to gain His blessings. Even though then I could not help but stay within God’s household and did not leave Him, if I did not resolve the contamination within me, sooner or later I would resist and betray God. After seeing the dangerous state I was in, within my heart I prayed to God: What can I do to get rid of the contamination of hoping for the day? Then, I once again read God’s words, which said: “Did you know that by believing in God in China, being able to undergo these sufferings and enjoy the work of God, that foreigners really envy you all? The wishes of foreigners are: We also want to experience the work of God, we will suffer anything for it. We want to obtain the truth too! We also want to gain some insight, gain some stature, but unfortunately we do not have that environment. … Making this group of people complete in the country of the great red dragon, making them endure this suffering, can be said to be God’s greatest exaltation. It was once said: ‘I have long ago brought My glory from Israel to the East.’ Do you all understand the meaning of this statement now? How should you walk the path ahead? How should you pursue the truth? If you do not pursue the truth then how can you obtain the work of the Holy Spirit? Once you lose the work of the Holy Spirit, then you will be in the most danger. The suffering at present is insignificant. Do you know what it will do for you?” (“Those Who Have Lost the Work of the Holy Spirit Are Most at Risk” in Records of Christ’s Talks). From these words of God, I could see that there is great meaning in people today being able to suffer. It is to allow people to gain the truth, and the suffering occurs because of God’s work, even more because of God’s grace and elevation—it is a special favor for us. Just as God said, “The suffering at present is insignificant. Do you know what it will do for you?” Pondering these words, although I was aware that suffering has value and meaning, I wasn’t at all clear on what God wanted to accomplish in me through this suffering. I considered this: Although I do not understand the meaning of suffering at this time, the only thing I can do is to really pursue the truth, to seek the truth more, because only if I gain the truth can I truly understand the meaning of suffering, and only then can I be rid of this contamination within me.
I blinked and it was already 2009. Those seven years were gone without me realizing it. I had come that far and finally felt that those seven years had not been as long as I had imagined. Those few years, in God’s words of judgment and revelation, in the revelations of God’s trials and refinements, I had seen my true face. I had seen that I was, through and through, a child of the great red dragon, because I was full of its poisons, such as the poison of “Don’t get up early if there’s no benefit, benefit takes the lead in everything.” This is a classic representation of the great red dragon. Under the domination of this poison, my belief in God was only to be blessed. Expending myself for God had a time limit, and I desired to suffer little and gain great blessings. In order to rid me of this strong intention to be blessed and transactional attitude within me, God completed multiple trials and refinements on me. Only then was the contamination in my belief in God purified. And I saw within God’s revelations that I was full of Satan’s corrupt disposition. I was arrogant, deceitful, selfish and despicable, reckless, and perfunctory. They made me see more and more clearly my own true colors, see that I had been too deeply corrupted by Satan, that I was the son of hell. Through His work of judgment and chastisement, my gratitude to God grew, my requirements shrank, my obedience to Him grew, and my love of myself shrank. I only asked to be able to throw off my corrupt satanic disposition, to be a person who truly obeys and worships God. Following God to this day, I have finally understood that God’s salvation of mankind truly is not easy. His work is too practical—His work of changing and saving mankind is not as simple as people would imagine. Now I am no longer like a naive child, just hoping that the day of God will come quickly, but I always feel that my own corruption is too deep, that I am too much in need of God’s salvation and too much in need of experiencing more of His judgment and chastisement, His trials and refinements. If I can possess the conscience and reason that should be present in normal humanity, and properly experience God’s work, and in the end I can live out the likeness of a true person, my heart will be fulfilled. Now, when I think of what I revealed of myself when the seven-year trial came upon me, I feel that I am too indebted to God, that I wounded His heart too much. If God’s work had concluded in 2000, I, who was utterly filthy, certainly would have been a target of perdition and destruction. The seven-year trial really was God’s tolerance and compassion for me, and moreover, it was God’s truest and realest salvation for me.
Once I had come out of those seven years and I reflected on those words from God that I hadn’t understood before: “Did you know that by believing in God in China, being able to undergo these sufferings and enjoy the work of God, that foreigners really envy you all? The wishes of foreigners are: We also want to experience the work of God, we will suffer anything for it. We want to obtain the truth too! We also want to gain some insight, gain some stature, but unfortunately we do not have that environment. … Making this group of people complete in the country of the great red dragon, making them endure this suffering, can be said to be God’s greatest exaltation. It was once said: ‘I have long ago brought My glory from Israel to the East.’ Do you all understand the meaning of this statement now?” I could understand a bit of the meaning of these words; I could finally feel that suffering truly is meaningful. Even though I suffered while experiencing these trials, only after suffering did I see that what I had gained was so precious, so valuable. Through experiencing these trials, I saw the righteous disposition of Almighty God and His almightiness and wisdom. I understood God’s kind intentions, and I had a taste that it was God’s profound love for mankind, just like when a father teaches his child. I also experienced the authority and power in His words, and I saw the truth of my own corruption by Satan. I appreciated God’s hardships in His work of salvation, and saw that He is holy and honored, and that humans are ugly and despicable. I also experienced how God conquers and saves mankind to bring them onto the correct path of believing in Him. When I think of it now, if God had not performed the work on me of one agonizing trial after another, I could not possibly have gained understanding of these things. Hardships and refinements are so beneficial for people’s growth in their lives. Through them, people can gain the most practical and precious thing in their course of believing in God—the truth. After seeing the value and meaning of suffering, I no longer dream of entering the kingdom riding on a sedan, but I am willing to firmly plant my feet on the ground and experience the work of God, to truly pursue the truth to change myself.
Through experiencing several years of God’s work, only now do I have a bit of practical understanding of these words from God: “True faith in God means the following: On the basis of the belief that God holds sovereignty over all things, one experiences His words and His work, purges one’s corrupt disposition, satisfies the will of God, and comes to know God. Only a journey of this kind may be called ‘faith in God.’” (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh). Before I had experienced these trials from God, I was full of a strong intention to be blessed and a transactional attitude. Even though I knew in principle what it was to believe in God and what the goal of belief in God was, I still only had my eyes on being blessed. I paid no mind to the truth, I did not take ridding myself of my corrupt disposition to satisfy God’s will and knowing God as the goal of my pursuit. Only now do I understand that when God becomes flesh His primary work is to resolve mankind’s intention to be blessed and their transactional attitude. It is because these things truly are obstacles and stumbling blocks between man and their entering into the correct path of believing in God. When these things are harbored within mankind, they will not pursue the truth. They will not have a correct goal in their pursuit; they will walk an incorrect path. This is a path that is not recognized by God. Now, God’s work of conquering and salvation has destroyed Satan’s fortress within me. I am no longer worried, no longer preoccupied with thoughts of gaining blessings or suffering catastrophe. I am no longer bitterly pursuing extravagant desires, and I am no longer discussing conditions or making requirements about the day of God in order to escape the catastrophe. Without this contamination, I feel much lighter, freer. I can begin to pursue the truth with my feet firmly on the ground. Being able to change this way is the fruit borne of the trials and refinements of Almighty God. It is Almighty God who has led me onto the true path of believing in God. From now on, no matter what kind of trial God performs, no matter how great the painful refinements I suffer, I will accept and obey, and truly experience them. I will seek the truth from them, and achieve a disposition free from corruption to satisfy God’s will, in order to repay God’s many years of grace of salvation.
a. The original text does not contain the phrase “just as.”