Is Faith in the Bible the Same as Faith in God?
Almighty God says, “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 a 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 believe in the Lord, then you must read 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. In this way, people worship the Bible as if it were God, as if it were their lifeblood, and losing it would be the same as losing their life. People see the Bible as being as high as God, and there are even those who see it as higher than God. If people are without the work of the Holy Spirit, if they cannot feel God, they can carry on living—but as soon as they lose the Bible, or lose the famous chapters and sayings from the Bible, then it is as if they have lost their life. … The Bible has become an idol in people’s minds, it has become a puzzle in their brains, and they are simply incapable of believing that God can work outside of the Bible, they are incapable of believing that people can find God outside of the Bible, much less are they able to believe that God could depart from the Bible during the final work and start anew. This is unthinkable to people; they cannot believe it, and neither can they imagine it. The Bible has become a great obstacle to people’s acceptance of God’s new work, and a difficulty to God’s broadening this new work” (The Word Appears in the Flesh). Almighty God’s words expose our previous state of faith in the Lord. When I was in religion before, I thought that faith in the Bible was faith in God. I even saw the Bible as higher than God. Some classic Bible verses were more important to me than anything, and I clung to the Bible without listening for God’s voice especially on the matter of welcoming the Lord. I heard someone testify that the Lord Jesus had returned as Almighty God and was expressing truths to do the judgment work of the last days, but I didn’t seek it. I nearly missed my chance to welcome the Lord. God’s wondrous guidance allowed me to greet the Lord and accept Almighty God’s work of the last days.
I was baptized and formally accepted the Lord Jesus in 2001, then became active in service to the church. But I gradually discovered that the pastor always said the same old things and there was no new light. He also misappropriated church funds. Co-workers vied for name and gain and engaged in intrigue. All of this was so disappointing for me and I withdrew from my service in the church. Over the next few years, I kept reading the Bible and praying, but I always felt this deep spiritual emptiness. I started looking for a better way, hoping to find a church or spiritual person with the work of the Holy Spirit that could resolve my spiritual emptiness.
I met Sister Li online in 2018. She told me she was looking into The Church of Almighty God, that the Lord Jesus had returned as Almighty God, and that I should look into it, too. I was taken aback, thinking, “The pastor and elders always say the Bible is the Christian canon and it has absolute authority, that faith in God is based in the Bible, and anything else is heresy. The Church of Almighty God’s way goes beyond the Bible, so no matter how great it sounds, we can’t listen to, read or get in touch with it.” I turned Sister Li down. But then I felt uneasy and thought, “The Lord’s return is a big deal. Is it the Lord’s will for me to just blindly refuse to look into it? The Lord Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 5:3). I should seek with an open mind when I hear the Lord has returned.” But when I thought about the pastor’s and elders’ words, I didn’t dare. I tossed and turned that night, unable to sleep. I felt really conflicted and didn’t know what I should do. Feeling lost, I came before the Lord in prayer, asking Him to guide me to make the right choice. Over the next few days, I found some information online about The Church of Almighty God. I hesitated when I saw some negative press. I wondered, “Should I look into it?” But then I thought of how important the Lord’s return is. I couldn’t blindly listen to other people or follow the crowd. I had to really investigate it. I checked out the Church’s own website. I found a music video of a hymn called “Christ’s Kingdom Is a Warm Home.” It was so heart-warming—I was drawn right in. I kept looking around the site and found all sorts of videos and movies by The Church of Almighty God, including choral works, music videos, hymns, recitations of God’s words, and gospel movies, plus videos of experiential testimony. They were all so novel and practical. They really moved me. I started watching them one by one,
watching over a dozen that week. I found the fellowship in them to be really practical and enlightening. Why the religious world is desolate and lacks the Holy Spirit’s work and how exactly we should welcome the Lord were all made so clear. There was also fellowship on who God blesses and who He punishes. Lots of confusions and difficulties I’d had in my faith for years were cleared up. I felt that the Church’s movies were just so beneficial and edifying. It really got me thinking. The Church of Almighty God didn’t seem heretical! If it was no good, how could they make these movies that provide such sustenance for life? All denominations claim to be the orthodox one, to be of the Lord Jesus Christ, but they’d never made so many wonderful movies bearing witness to God. I also thought about the pastor and elders saying that lots of true believers from all denominations have accepted Almighty God and The Church of Almighty God could now be found in many countries. It reminded me of what Gamaliel said: “If this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nothing: But if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it; lest haply you be found even to fight against God” (Acts 5:38–39). What comes from God must thrive, and it seemed highly likely that The Church of Almighty God was from God. But I still had so many questions: “This book, The Word Appears in the Flesh, is always mentioned in their movies. Why don’t their church members read the Bible? Isn’t that going beyond the Bible? The pastor and elders have always said that the Bible is the canon of Christianity and it has absolute authority, and that what’s most important as believers is following the Bible, and anything else is heresy.” I thought and thought but just couldn’t figure it out. These words from the Lord Jesus occurred to me just then: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). I told myself, “Since people are saying the Lord Jesus has returned, no matter how many doubts I may have, if there’s the slightest chance, I have to go seek that shred of hope. I can’t miss my chance to welcome the Lord.”
Once as I was browsing The Church of Almighty God’s website, I saw a clip from the movie Come Out of the Bible. The topic “Does God Work According to the Bible?” jumped out at me right away. I just couldn’t wait—I started to watch the movie and saw Sister Wang, an evangelist, ask a pastor: “You just said that God can’t depart from the Bible to do His work of salvation, that anything outside the Bible is heresy. Which came first, the Bible, or God’s work?” When I heard that question, a quiet voice said in my heart, “Of course God’s work came before the Bible!” Sister Wang said, “In the beginning, Jehovah God created heaven, earth, and all things. He destroyed the world with a flood, He burned Sodom and Gomorrah, and more. Did the Old Testament exist when He did these things?” The answer in my heart was: “No. God is the Beginning. He created all things before there was even writing, much less the Bible!” Sister Wang went on: “There were no Scriptures when God did this work. That is, God’s work came first, and then it was recorded in the Scriptures. And when the Lord Jesus came to work in the Age of Grace, there was no New Testament. Over three hundred years later there was a conference with religious leaders from all over the world. They chose the Four Gospels as records of the Lord Jesus’ work and they added some of the apostles’ letters to the churches and Revelation recorded by John. They compiled all this into the New Testament. We can see from the process of putting the Bible together that God’s work came first, and then it was recorded in the Bible. Without God’s work, there would be nothing in the Bible. That is, God doesn’t work according to the Bible and He’s not limited by it. He works according to His own plan and the needs of mankind. And so we cannot confine God’s work to what’s in the Bible or use the Bible to delimit His work. We really can’t claim that anything outside the Bible is heresy.”
Sister Yang in the movie shared more fellowship after that: “The Lord Jesus didn’t work according to the Old Testament. He preached the way of repentance, healed the sick and cast out demons, didn’t keep the Sabbath, and forgave others seventy times seven times. None of that was in the Scriptures at the time. It even looked like it contradicted the Old Testament laws. The chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees condemned and resisted the Lord Jesus because His work and words were at odds with the Scriptures. If we say everything outside the Bible is heresy, wouldn’t that be condemning all of God’s work through the ages?”
Startled, I suddenly realized that that was true. The Lord Jesus preached and worked on the Sabbath, healed the sick and cast out demons. None of that was in the Old Testament. Since His work went beyond the Scriptures, the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees condemned the Lord Jesus’ work as heretical and ultimately had Him crucified. They were punished by God. If Almighty God really is the Lord Jesus returned and we insist that anything but the Bible is heresy, wouldn’t that be condemning God’s work? That would be an offense to God! This thought scared me a bit. I knew I couldn’t cling to my old ideas any longer. I kept watching.
The sister in the movie read a few passages of Almighty God’s words. “No one knows the reality of the Bible: that it is nothing more than a historical record of God’s work, and a testament to the previous two stages of God’s work, and that it offers you no understanding of the aims of God’s work. Everyone who has read the Bible knows that it documents the two stages of God’s work during the Age of Law and the Age of Grace. The Old Testament chronicles the history of Israel and Jehovah’s work from the time of creation until the end of the Age of Law. The New Testament records Jesus’ work on earth, which is in the Four Gospels, as well as the work of Paul—are these not historical records?” “The Bible is a historical book, and if you had eaten and drunk the Old Testament during the Age of Grace—if you had put into practice what was required in the time of the Old Testament during the Age of Grace—Jesus would have rejected you, and condemned you; if you had applied the Old Testament to the work of Jesus, you would have been a Pharisee. If, today, you put the Old and New Testament together to eat and drink, and practice, then the God of today will condemn you; you will have fallen behind the Holy Spirit’s work of today! If you eat and drink the Old Testament and the New Testament, then you are outside the stream of the Holy Spirit! During the time of Jesus, Jesus led the Jews and all those who followed Him according to the Holy Spirit’s work in Him at the time. He did not take the Bible as the basis of what He did, but spoke according to His work; He paid no heed to what the Bible said, nor did He search in the Bible for a path to lead His followers. Right from when He began to work, He spread the way of repentance—a word of which there was absolutely no mention in the prophecies of the Old Testament. Not only did He not act according to the Bible, but He also led a new path, and did new work. Never did He refer to the Bible when He preached. During the Age of Law, no one had ever been able to perform His miracles of healing the sick and casting out demons. So, too, were His work, His teachings, and the authority and power of His words beyond any man in the Age of Law. Jesus simply did His newer work, and even though many people condemned Him using the Bible—and even used the Old Testament to crucify Him—His work surpassed the Old Testament; if this were not so, why did people nail Him to the cross? Was it not because it said nothing in the Old Testament of His teaching, and His ability to heal the sick and cast out demons? His work was done to lead a new path, it was not to deliberately pick a fight against the Bible, or to deliberately dispense with the Old Testament. He simply came to perform His ministry, to bring the new work to those who yearned for and sought Him. He did not come to explain the Old Testament or uphold its work. His work was not in order to allow the Age of Law to continue developing, for His work gave no consideration to whether it had the Bible as its base; Jesus simply came to do the work that He ought to do. Thus, He did not explain the prophecies of the Old Testament, nor did He work according to the words of the Old Testament Age of Law. He ignored what the Old Testament said, He cared not whether it agreed with His work or not, and cared not what others knew of His work, or how they condemned it. He simply kept doing the work that He ought to do, even though many people used the foretelling of the prophets of the Old Testament to condemn Him. To people, it appeared as if His work had no basis, and there was much of it that was at odds with the records of the Old Testament. Was this not man’s error? Does doctrine need to be applied to the work of God? And must God work according to the foretelling of prophets? After all, which is greater: God or the Bible? Why must God work according to the Bible? Could it be that God has no right to exceed the Bible? Can God not depart from the Bible and do other work? Why did Jesus and His disciples not keep the Sabbath? If He were to keep the Sabbath and practice according to the commandments of the Old Testament, why did Jesus not keep the Sabbath after He came, but instead washed feet, covered head, broke bread, and drank wine? Is this not all absent from the commandments of the Old Testament? If Jesus honored the Old Testament, why did He break with these doctrines? You should know which came first, God or the Bible!” (The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Sister Wang shared this fellowship: “We’ve placed God and the Bible on par for years, thinking that His work can’t depart from the Bible and that any faith outside the Bible can’t be called faith, but heresy. In fact, the Bible is just a record of the first two stages of God’s work. It’s testimony of God’s two stages of work to guide and save mankind after He created heaven, earth, all things, and mankind. It doesn’t represent all of His work to save man. God’s words recorded in the Bible are so limited. It just has little hints of God’s life disposition—it doesn’t contain all of it. God doesn’t work according to the Bible or refer to it in His work. He doesn’t use it to find the path to guide His followers. His work is always moving forward. God has begun a new age and He’s doing new work. He’s giving people a new path and greater truths so that we can gain even greater salvation. So, God doesn’t lead mankind based on His old work. That is, God doesn’t work according to the Bible. He’s not only the Lord of the Sabbath, but also of the Bible. He has every right to work outside of the Bible, to do new work according to His own plan and what mankind needs at the time. God’s work definitely can’t be the same from one age to another. Claiming anything outside the Bible is heresy simply doesn’t hold water.”
I was ashamed when I saw this. Her fellowship was in line with the facts. The Lord Jesus’ work in the Age of Grace went beyond the Old Testament. Doesn’t that tell us that as the Lord of creation, God is fully capable of working outside the Bible? Why had I never thought about such a simple issue before? Saying that “anything outside the Bible is heresy” really doesn’t stand. I was so foolish and ignorant!
As I kept watching, the sister’s fellowship really drew me in. She said, “The Bible is just testimony, a record of God’s work. It does not contain eternal life. Though this doesn’t conform to our notions, it is indisputable, as the Lord Jesus rebuked the Pharisees long ago, saying, ‘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). The Lord Jesus clearly told us that there is no eternal life in the Scriptures and trying to find eternal life in them is wrong. The Bible on its own isn’t enough to gain the truth and the life. We can only gain those from Christ Himself.” Hearing this really opened my eyes. I saw that the Lord Jesus told us a long time ago that there’s no eternal life in the Bible. Only God is the truth, the way, and the life, and only God can give us eternal life. Why hadn’t I ever seen this when I’d read that before?
The sister read another passage of God’s words then. “Since there is a higher way, why study that low, outdated way? Since there are newer utterances, and newer work, why live amid old historical records? The new utterances can provide for you, which proves that this is the new work; the old records cannot sate you, or satisfy your current needs, which proves that they are history, and not the work of the here and now. The highest way is the newest work, and with the new work, no matter how high the way of the past, it is still the history of people’s reflections, and no matter its value as reference, it is still the old way. Even though it is recorded in the ‘holy book,’ the old way is history; even though there is no record of it in the ‘holy book,’ the new way is of the here and now. This way can save you, and this way can change you, for this is the work of the Holy Spirit” (The Word Appears in the Flesh). Then she shared this fellowship: “The Bible only has prophecies of God’s work in the last days, not records of it, but it really is a deeper, more elevated step of work based on mankind’s needs. Late in the Age of Law, everyone was so deeply corrupted and in danger of being put to death under the law. God personally became flesh, came to earth, and was crucified as a sin offering for man. God did His work of redemption on the foundation of the work of law. Even though it wasn’t recorded in the Old Testament, He worked according to mankind’s needs and His own plan. He didn’t do away with the law, but fulfilled the law. Now in the last days, God is also working according to His plan and man’s needs on the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ redemption work. He’s doing His work of judgment starting with God’s house to get rid of our sinful nature, fully save us from the bonds of sin, and lead us into an eternally beautiful destination. Almighty God expresses all truths to cleanse and save mankind and He reveals all the mysteries of His management plan. He never spoke these words in the Age of Law or the Age of Grace. This is the scroll, the seven seals opened in the last days, fulfilling this prophecy in Revelation: ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches’ (Revelation 2:7). And this one, too: ‘Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof’ (Revelation 5:5). Almighty God’s words are collected in the Bible for the Age of Kingdom: The Word Appears in the Flesh. These rich words for life are the way of eternal life that God gives man and the only path to full salvation. If we refuse to accept this, we’ll never gain the sustenance of God’s living waters or His truth and life.”
I later saw more of Almighty God’s words in another movie “Christ of the last days brings life, and brings the enduring and everlasting way of truth. This truth is the path by which man gains life, and it is the only path by which man shall know God and be approved by God. If you do not seek the way of life provided by Christ of the last days, then you shall never gain the approval of Jesus, and shall never be qualified to enter the gate of the kingdom of heaven, for you are both a puppet and prisoner of history. Those who are controlled by regulations, by letters, and shackled by history will never be able to gain life nor gain the perpetual way of life. This is because all they have is turbid water which has been clung to for thousands of years instead of the water of life that flows from the throne” (The Word Appears in the Flesh). The brother in that movie fellowshiped: “Almighty God, Christ of the last days, expresses all truths to cleanse and save man. They’re abundant and exhaustive, and are complete sustenance from God. They’re eye-opening and enlightening. They really show that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life and the way of eternal life. God’s words in the Age of Kingdom go far beyond His words from the Ages of Law and Grace put together. In particular, ‘God’s Words to the Entire Universe’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh is God’s first open statement to humanity and it’s the first time human beings heard the Lord of creation’s words to all humanity. They really rocked the universe and opened our eyes. The Age of Kingdom is when God does His judgment work and when He reveals His righteous disposition to mankind. That’s why He utters words to judge, cleanse, and perfect man in this age, He rains down disasters to reward the good and punish the wicked, and He reveals His righteousness, majesty, and wrath. The truths Almighty God expresses to cleanse, save, and perfect man are the way of eternal life He bestows upon man in the last days. They are the waters of life that flow from His throne.”
At this point I realized that The Word Appears in the Flesh from Almighty God is the way of eternal life God gives man in the last days. I knew I had to keep up with God’s new work and read His new words to gain the sustenance of His living waters and His complete salvation. Soon after, I got in touch with The Church of Almighty God and read a lot more of Almighty God’s words. I saw that Almighty God reveals all mysteries. The mysteries of God’s 6,000-year management plan, of His incarnation, the inside story of the Bible, and all aspects of the truth are all revealed. I learned so much more than I had in over a decade of faith in God! I officially accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days.
I thought back on how I’d been misled by the pastor and elders. I’d confined God’s work and words to the Bible, thinking anything else was heresy. I heard people from The Church of Almighty God bear witness to the Lord Jesus’ return but I didn’t seek it. I just blindly listened to the church clergy and rejected God’s work because of my notions. I was a believer but resisted God. I was so blind and foolish! God’s guidance allowed me to hear His voice through The Church of Almighty God’s movies, and to understand the truth and let go of my notions. I no longer blindly worshiped the Bible. I learned that’s not really faith and the Bible doesn’t contain eternal life. Only Christ is the truth, the way, and the life. Only Christ of the last days can give us the way of eternal life, and we can only gain the truth and the life by believing in Almighty God, Christ of the last days. That’s the only kind of faith that God approves of. Welcoming the Lord was entirely God’s grace and blessing. I’m grateful for God’s mercy and salvation for me!