By Wu Yan
After it had rained, the night was especially quiet. However, the silence was suddenly broken by a screech of brakes. Several police cars stopped outside Zhang Ming’s house and over a dozen well-trained armed police, tactical police, and undercover police jumped out of their cars with their guns and broke into Zhang Ming’s house. Soon, with their hands handcuffed behind the backs, Zhang Ming and his wife Wang Yun were pushed and shoved out of their house. Wang Yun asked angrily, “We believers in God don’t break the law. What reason do you have for arresting us?” One policeman said fiercely while gagging her mouth, “Shut up! You believers in God are exactly the ones we are catching!” and pushed her harshly into a police car. Then the cars drove away. Behind the cars, a girl aged 8 or 9 in pyjamas was staggering and kept crying, “Mom, mom …”
At this moment, Sun Yuan, on his way home from his night job, was dumbfounded by the thrilling scene in front of him. He hid himself in the corner with his heart leaping into his throat. Not until the police cars left did he feel composed and enter his house. As he came into the room, he saw his wife Yulian standing by the window and watching outside through a chink in the curtains. He hurried to seize by the lappets of her coat, and said in a low voice, “Stop looking. They’ve been taken away.” When Yulian looked back at his husband, she said, patting her chest, “Oh my! You’re back! It really scares me that the police arrested Zhang Ming and his wife just now! I was afraid that they would see you and arrest you. So I prayed to the Lord unceasingly. Thank the Lord!” Just then, Sun’s father came out of another room. Seeing his father, Sun Yuan asked, “Dad, it’s nearly 11 p.m. Why are you still awake?” “Such a major event happened to the neighborhood. How could I fall asleep?” Saying this, Sun’s father sat down on the sofa. Then he went on saying, “Well, in China, with the Communist Party in power, it sure is difficult to! Ever since the Chinese Communist Party took control, they have ceaselessly arrested and persecuted believers. During the time of the Cultural Revolution alone, a lot of Christians were persecuted to death. It’s unknown this time how many beatings Zhang Ming will take and how long he will be sentenced for.” After hearing his father’s words, Sun Yuan lowered his head, sighing helplessly. Yulian hurriedly went to them. “Now a number of house-church people are arrested and put in jail. The CCP has been ruthless in their arrest of believers in Eastern Lightning in particular. They have been persecuted worst of all. The CCP’s slogan is ‘We won’t put down our arms until they’re eliminated!’ Moreover, villagers’ committee publicly states that there are rewards for informers! It looks like the Chinese Communist Party is set upon banning Eastern Lightning.” At this time, Sun’s mother also walked out of her room. As she entered the living room, she began to speak, “Why does the Chinese Communist government arrest and persecute Eastern Lightning believers in particular? I just don’t understand it.” When Sun Yuan saw his mother coming, he asked her to sit down, and said, “Mom, you don’t know. During these past few years, people in Eastern Lightning have been spreading the gospel, and they bear witness that the has returned as none other than Almighty God, expressing the truth and doing the work of judgment of . Many good sheep and head sheep of various denominations have heard the words issued by Almighty God, and firmly believe that it truly is the voice of God, and have become followers of Almighty God in succession. More and more people these days are accepting Eastern Lightning. The Eastern Lighting church has developed so quickly. Wouldn’t the Chinese Communist government panic? If Eastern Lightning goes on bearing witness like this, maybe most people of various denominations will accept Almighty God, and many non-believers will accept Almighty God as well. Can you say that the Chinese Communist government would not be afraid? Could they not take Eastern Lightning as the key target for their crackdown?”
Sun’s mother sat down and pondered for a while. “To tell the truth, I really admire those people who believe in Eastern Lightning. No matter how many have been arrested and put in jail, they go on spreading the gospel and bearing witness for God as always. On this point, we have no way to compare with them!” Yulian retorted, when hearing the words of her mother-in-law, “What is there to admire? As I see it, these Eastern Lightning people are fools. Isn’t it just fine to earnestly practice their faith in their homes? They are always out spreading the gospel and bearing witness. How can the CCP not arrest them? As of now, the witnessing from Eastern Lightning has shaken all of mainland China, and even some foreigners also accepted it. They are so powerful. How can the CCP not arrest them? They are to blame. If not for them spreading the gospel, the CCP would not have ramped up the attacks on religious belief. Practicing our faith in the Three-Self church is wonderful. Without effort and naturally meeting no hardship or annoyances, when the Lord returns one day, we will be brought into the kingdom of heaven anyway, that’s great!” Sun’s father raised his head and rebuked his daughter-in-law, “Yulian, you can’t say that. Back then, to bear witness for the Lord, the followers of the Lord Jesus met with wild arrests and persecution at the hands of the Roman government and the Pharisees. Many people sacrificed their lives for the Lord. That was suffering for righteousness, which are good deeds. Now, those Eastern Lightning people, despite the widespread arrests and persecution by the CCP, still persist in spreading the gospel and bearing witness that the Lord has returned. This is confidence. This is courage and insight! Upon seeing them bear witness, how do I feel? Two words, ‘I’m ashamed!’ You say that Eastern Lightning has implicated us, and brought us trouble. What would the Lord think if He heard these words? Don’t speak carelessly, lest you offend God! The Lord Jesus said, ‘Whoever he be of you that forsakes not all that he has, he cannot be my disciple’ (Luke 14:33). Though we all believe in God, those Eastern Lightning people can abandon everything, put the cross on their backs, and follow God. They are living out the words of the Lord Jesus, and give no thought to their own lives to follow the Lamb. But us? None of us has done that!” Yulian argued unyieldingly, “Dad, with the CCP government persecuting religious belief so ruthlessly, how many will dare to risk their lives to follow the Lord? Have we not done it and even more have the pastors and elders not done it.” Sun’s father said solemnly with justice, “Yet those Eastern Lightning people have done it. Wave upon wave of them move courageously forward in teaching about the name of the Lord, and bearing His witness. They have spread the gospel of the kingdom of Almighty God all over China and even all over the world. Therefore, they are the ones who earn God’s praise!”
Listening to his father’s words, Sun Yuan thought that they are very reasonable. He thought: Indeed, since Zhang Ming and his family believed in Eastern Lightning, their will and enthusiasm to spread the gospel and suffer pain have become greater than those in the time when they believed in the Lord. They clearly know that the CCP is fully opposing and persecuting Eastern Lightning, but they still persist in spreading the gospel at the cost of their lives. Their enthusiasm to spread the Lord’s name is really admirable! At this moment, Yulian felt her father-in-law was speaking on the side of Eastern Lightning, so she asked, with a look of doubt, “Dad, from the tone of your voice, have you investigated Eastern Lightning? I’m telling you, you can’t accept it. Your grandson is about to take the college entrance examination. If the CCP knows that you believe in Eastern Lightning, your grandson will be disqualified from all his exams. That way, his future will be ruined. Besides, if you accept Eastern Lightning, got arrested and put in jail, not to mention hardships, you really could be tortured to death by the CCP, that would not be worth your effort! Shouldn’t we seek peace and safety in our faith in the Lord?” Sun’s father said helplessly, “You don’t have to always tell me. I know. If not for this worry, I would have investigated Eastern Lightning.” Sun’s mother sitting aside asked, “When the Lord returns, can the people like us who fear death and choose to practice our faith in the Three-Self Church be taken into the kingdom of heaven?” Sun’s father shook his head and said, “It seems quite unlikely! I feel that our belief in the Lord within the Three-Self Church is bringing shame to Him! Think about it. We all believe in God. How is it that Eastern Lightning people are so confident, and we have no confidence? Why do they dare to bear witness for God, and we do not? Why, then, do none of us have courage and confidence? It proves that the Holy Spirit is at work in their church, and that they have the blessings of God. Let’s look at the Three-Self Church. Is it a church? It was set up by the CCP United Front Work Department; the gatherings and sermons are supervised under the United Front Work Department; speaking pure truth and talking of Revelation is not allowed in the Three-Self Church. How is it possible to attain truth and life in this way? The Three-Self Church is full of secularism, following world trends, without. It is hard to say whether the Lord would really recognize the Three-Self Church as a church at all.” Sun Yuan was very surprised at his father’s words. When he was about to say something, Yulian asked anxiously, “How could He not? Aren’t all who call on the Lord’s name recognized? In the Three-Self Church, we believe in the Lord, not in the Communist Party. As long as we hold onto the name of the Lord, and endure to the end, the Lord won’t abandon us!”
Sun’s father took a drink and said, “I used to think the way you do. Later I read what the Lord Jesus said in, ‘Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven’ (Matthew 7:21). I began to ponder, getting into the kingdom of heaven is conditional. More is required to get into the kingdom of heaven than holding onto the Lord’s name and having places to gather. We believe in the Lord in the Three-Self church, not daring to spread the gospel and bear witness for the Lord. Is this doing according to God’s will? Would we be qualified to be taken into the heavenly kingdom in the future?” After saying these words, Sun’s father looked up at his wife and son, and went on saying, “I won’t hide it from you. In fact, Zhang Ming has been preaching Eastern Lightning to me these days. Although I didn’t accept it, I have taken in what he preached. Now is a key time for welcoming the arrival of the Lord. If we cannot hear the voice of the Lord, and can’t follow God’s footsteps and attend the wedding feast of the Lamb, we most certainly will not get into the kingdom of heaven. Peter once said, ‘For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God’ (1Peter 4:17). It turns out that judgment beginning with God’s house refers to the work done when the Lord returns to express truth, and to judge and purify people. Those people who hear God’s voice, who come before God’s throne are the ones who will first go through judgment and be purified. These people who follow the Lamb will certainly suffer hardships, and be rejected by the generation. This is the fulfillment of verses from Revelation, ‘These are they which came out of great tribulation …’ (Revelation 7:14), ‘These are they which follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits to God and to the Lamb’ (Revelation 14:4), and ‘… there shall in no wise enter into it … but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life’ (Revelation 21:27). These verses of scripture say that only those who are in the Lamb’s book of life will have a place in the kingdom of heaven. As I see it, the people in The Church of Almighty God who endure the frantic arrests and persecution by the CCP and are able to resolutely follow , and bear witness for Christ, must be the ones who emerge from the great tribulation. Only they are the overcomers whom God wishes to make. Only they are the ones who have a place in the Lamb’s book of life. Only they are qualified to enter the kingdom of heaven. We in the Three Self Church drag out a shameful existence, not bearing any witness. All we do is keep the name of the Lord Jesus, but we don’t follow Christ. Yet still we expect the Lord to come and receive us into the kingdom of heaven. This is like getting married in dreams. It’s wishful thinking!” Hearing his father’s words, Sun Yuan seemed worried. “Are all those who believe in the Lord within the Three-Self Church cowardly people? But we also recognize the name of the Lord, pray to the Lord, and read the Bible. We truly believe in the Lord, too. Then why are we cowardly people? Dad, our joining the Three-Self Church has the words of Paul in the Bible as its foundation, ‘Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God’ (Romans 13:1). Could the Lord condemn us as cowardly people?” Seeing her son seemed a little disappointed, Sun’s mother asked her husband right away, “Do you understand what it ultimately means to be cowardly? It cannot be explained literally, and rules can’t be applied carelessly. Is there a basis for this in the Bible?”
Sun’s father thought it over and said, “Revelation 21:8 says, ‘But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.’ The words of God say very clearly that cowardly people will not only not get into the kingdom of heaven, they will ultimately descend into the lake of fire and brimstone, and suffer eternal punishment. If you ask me what really a cowardly person is, my understanding of this is: First, they don’t dare to acknowledge the name of the Lord in front of others, and don’t dare to follow the Lord. This certainly is cowardly. Second, they don’t dare to spread the gospel. They fear humiliation, or they fear being arrested and put in jail. This is a cowardly person. Third, according to the Lord’s prophecy: ‘For as the lightning, that lightens out of the one part under heaven, shines to the other part under heaven; so shall alsobe in his day. But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation’ (Luke 17:24-25). From the Lord’s words we can be certain that when the Lord returns He will certainly suffer persecution, and be forsaken by the generation. If we fear to suffer persecution, and are not daring to accept Christ of the last days, and not daring to follow the Lord, definitely, this is cowardly. I believe that any person who fits one of these descriptions is a cowardly person. It is obvious that a cowardly person is not following the and also doesn’t have glorious and resounding witness, much less can that person enter into the heavenly kingdom!” Yulian said disapprovingly, “Dad, you say that those who does not dare to recognize the name of the Lord in front of others are cowardly people. I endorse this. But to say that a person who does not accept Eastern Lightning is a cowardly person, I cannot accept this.” Sun’s father said sincerely, “The Lord Jesus said plainly in the Bible, ‘Whoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven’ (Matthew 10:32-33). What I gather from the words of the Lord Jesus is this: This not only refers to us not acknowledging the Lord in front of others, it mainly refers to how we do not seek and investigate for fear of persecution when the Lord Jesus has come. Many people in religious circles now know that Eastern Lightning has truth, and is the true way, and that Almighty God is the return of the Lord Jesus, yet because the CCP madly persecutes Eastern Lightning, they dare not accept it. Wouldn’t you say that this is not daring to acknowledge the Lord in front of others? Isn’t such a person a cowardly person? Therefore, if we want to get into the kingdom of heaven, we must risk our lives! Just as the Lord Jesus said, ‘For whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it’” (Matthew 16:25). After hearing what her husband said, Sun’s mother also felt sorrow. She lowered her head and thought for a moment. “Though we are not persecuted by the CCP as we believe in the Lord within the Three Self Church, we will not be able to welcome the Lord, and ultimately will not get into the kingdom of heaven. Is this not fetching water with a bamboo basket? Completely empty! This is practicing faith in vain! If we always value our lives too highly and dare not accept Christ in the last days, we’ll not only lose our life, but we’ll also miss the blessing of going to the kingdom of heaven. It appears that if we want to get into the kingdom of heaven we must risk our life and follow the Lord.” After that, the family of four all became silent. At that moment, the heart of each person was not at peace …
Just then, the clock on the wall chimed. Sun Yuan seemed to be awakened by the sound, and so he decided to investigate Eastern Lightning …
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