Listen! Who Is Speaking?
Being a preacher of the Three Grades of Servants Church, I felt quite helpless when seeing that fewer and fewer brothers and sisters came to the meetings. I had prayed to the Lord countless times, asking Him to strengthen the faith of the brothers and sisters, but the desolation of our church didn’t change at all, and even I myself was mired in weakness. … One day, when I was doing the housework, two co-workers of our church, Brother Wang and Brother Lin, came. Seeing them, I was happy and let them into the room. After an exchange of greetings, Brother Wang said, “Sister Zhou, how is your spiritual condition?” I gave a sigh and said, “Don’t mention it. I’m weak and have nothing to preach in the meetings. The brothers and sisters are also passive and weak, and there are only a few left in the church.” At this, they looked at each other, and Brother Lin said, “Sister Zhou, do you know why we are no longer able to preach, and why there are only a few believers left in the church?” Hearing that, I thought, “This is just what I want to know. Do they know the reason?” So I asked quickly, “Why?” Brother Wang said, “Because the Lord has come back and become flesh for the second time to speak and carry out new work. Many brothers and sisters have accepted God’s new work and have lived in the stream of the present work of the Holy Spirit, and their condition is growing better. We also should hurry up and follow God’s footsteps!” His words reminded me of what our senior co-workers had said, “If anyone preaches that God has carried out new work and expressed new words, he has departed from the Bible. Departure from the Bible is not belief in God, but is deviation from the Lord’s way, and is apostasy.” As I thought of that, I said gravely, “Haven’t our senior co-workers told us many times that departure from the Bible is not belief in God? You should have remembered it. Departure from the Bible is departure from the Lord’s way. You are so bold to preach that to me.” As I spoke, I got up. At the time, Brother Lin said, “Take it easy, Sister Zhou. We know you are a true believer of God and pursue hard, so we preach God’s new work to you. You should examine it carefully, and not miss this opportunity! …” I raised my hand before he finished his speaking, and said, “Stop! Stop! Don’t talk about it anymore. I won’t believe in whatever departs from the Bible. You gave up the Lord’s way, but I will hold it fast.” Seeing me obstinately refuse to listen, they had to leave. After that, they came a few times, but I gave them the cold shoulder.
One day, Brother Wang and Brother Lin came with two sisters. At that time, I was in the room picking over beans, and my husband was working outside the house. He let them into the room. At the sight of them, my heart skipped a beat, “You came again and also brought along two helpers.” They entered the room and greeted me. Then they began to fellowship with my husband. I was dreadfully worried, thinking, “What they preach departs from the Bible. I must keep watch over my husband lest he be tempted by them.” I wanted to drive them away, but I was afraid that my husband would get annoyed, so I had to keep silent. I didn’t take in anything they preached, while he kept nodding his head, saying, “Yes, it’s right. That’s it. That’s it. It sounds reasonable. What you are saying is great!” Seeing him so attracted by their preaching, I got furious and said sarcastically with my finger pointing at him, “Is it really right? How much have you read the Bible? How many days have you believed in God? Did you rely on God? You said ‘right, right, right’; how much have you understood?” My rude words and manner brought the room into complete silence. They looked at one another, and my husband said to me at once, “Knock it off! Let’s listen first. It is good for us. How could you know whether it is right or not without hearing it?” Knowing that I couldn’t stop him, I moved the beans back and forth angrily to make noises, thinking in a fit of pique, “Want to listen! I won’t let you hear anything. I must disturb you!” However, my act didn’t disturb my husband from hearing their fellowship at all, and instead, he talked with them happily while listening. After some time, my husband said to me joyfully, “Xiaoli, the Lord has truly come back! The words in this book are personally spoken by God. They are so wonderful! Xiaoli, go and prepare the dinner.” I cast him an angry look and said, “You cook if you like. I have no time.” Later, my husband and Brother Lin cooked the dinner. After the meal, they gave him a book, some tapes, and a hymn book, and then left. I couldn’t bear it anymore and said to my husband, “Our senior co-workers said many times that believers in God can’t depart from the Bible. Departure from the Bible is not belief in God. Have you forgotten it? You have no stand at all!” But my husband said calmly, “What they preached doesn’t depart from the Bible but goes higher on the basis of the Bible. And moreover, Almighty God’s new work they preached has fulfilled the words in the Bible. As you see, there are only a few people left in our church. You also need to investigate it quickly.” Hearing his words, I responded crossly, “What do you know? Departure from the Bible means betrayal of the Lord. You don’t hold on to the Bible, but I will keep to it.”
From then on, my husband would read the book given by Brother Lin whenever he had time. One early morning, at about three o’clock, my husband got up and began to read the book. I, half awake, heard him reading: “… have you forgotten? … have you really forgotten?” (“How Peter Came to Know Jesus” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I was annoyed at his reading aloud, thinking, “You got up so early and have disturbed my sleep!” After a little while, I dimly heard: “… because before Jesus was crucified, He had told Peter: ‘I am not of this world, and you too are not of this world’” (“How Peter Came to Know Jesus” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “It’s so strange that this book mentions the! Did I mishear?” I thought. Then I clearly heard: “… have you forgotten? … have you really forgotten?” (“How Peter Came to Know Jesus” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). At that moment, my heart was moved, and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I said to myself, “Who has said that? O Lord, is it You who is speaking to me? These words seem to be said to me by You. How gentle they are!” And then I thought, “I must get up quickly to cook the meal, and after breakfast I will read that book and see what it says about and whether it departs from the Bible.”
Having finished the breakfast, my husband went to read the book. I thought, “Why didn’t he ask me to read it together with him?” I stood at the door for quite a while, but he immersed himself in the book and didn’t notice me at all. I walked in the kitchen back and forth restlessly, anxious to see what was written in the book. I looked into the room, and he was still absorbed in reading the book. I really wanted to go into the room and read that book with him. But then I thought, “The brothers and sisters came to preach to me many times, but I didn’t accept it. If I ask him to let me read the book, would he reproach me? If so, how embarrassed I would be!” At the thought of that, I withdrew my head. I paced up and down the outer room. When I remembered the words my husband read aloud in the early morning, I grew more anxious, thinking, “I must go in to see what that book talks about.” So I walked to the door, but drew back again. Like a cat on hot bricks, I didn’t know what to do. At last, I steeled myself and thought, “Well, if he says something unpleasant to me, let him do it. I shouldn’t have rejected them so stubbornly or have turned a deaf ear to his advice.” I got up the courage and walked into the room, and said embarrassedly, “Shall we read it together?” He raised his head with a surprised look and said joyfully, “OK! Come! Let’s read it together.” I was much moved, as he didn’t reproach me as I had expected. My uneasiness now vanished. I was so happy and began to read the book with my husband. But what we read were not the words I overheard in the early morning. Just then my husband went out, and I hurriedly turned back the pages. I found the very words I wanted! I read these words aloud with joy: “Peter was greatly encouraged by Jesus’ words, because before Jesus was crucified, He had told Peter: ‘I am not of this world, and you too are not of this world.’ Later, when Peter reached a point of great pain, Jesus reminded him: ‘Peter, have you forgotten? I am not of the world, and it was only for My work that I departed earlier. You too are not of the world, have you really forgotten? I have told you twice, do you not remember?’ Hearing this, Peter said: ‘I have not forgotten!’ Jesus then said: ‘You once spent a happy time gathered with Me in heaven and a period of time by My side. You miss Me, and I miss you. Although the creations are not worth mentioning in My eyes, how can I not love one who is innocent and lovable? Have you forgotten My promise? You must accept My commission on earth; you must fulfill the task I entrusted to you. One day I will certainly lead you to be by My side’” (“How Peter Came to Know Jesus” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I read them over and over again. The more I read, the more I felt they didn’t deviate from the Bible. I wondered then, “Why do my senior co-workers say whoever preaches that the Lord has come back and done new work and spoken new words has departed from the Bible and that departure from the Bible means departure from the Lord’s way?” I prayed in my heart, “O Lord, what is all this about? May You enlighten me and guide me so that I can understand Your will.”
Afterward, I read these words of Almighty God: “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” (“Concerning the Bible (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). These words touched my heart. “Aren’t they directed at me? I have been holding to the Bible like this since I began to believe in the Lord. I see the Bible as my lifeblood. Every time after I read it, I put it on a high place beyond the reach of my children. I consider it above everything else, and even think that departure from the Bible means betrayal of the Lord. But, am I wrong?” I read on with a seeking heart, from “Concerning the Bible (1)” to “Concerning the Bible (4).” The more I read, the more I became enlightened. Almighty God’s words made me completely understand this: Actually, the Bible is nothing more than a historical record of God’s work, a testament to the previous two stages of God’s work. The Old Testament records Jehovah’s work from the time of creation until the end of the Age of Law, and the New Testament records the Lord Jesus’ work in the Age of Grace. God’s work is always new and never old, and is ceaselessly progressing onward. Today God has done a new stage of work outside the Bible—the work of the Age of Kingdom, which is the last stage of God’s work of saving man. These three stages of work are done by one God. “That’s right!” I thought, “God is so almighty, so wise; it is impossible for Him to have just done the limited work recorded in the Bible. Besides, I have personally seen from Almighty God’s words that God’s words and work indo not deny the Bible, but become higher and deeper on the basis of the work of the Age of Law and the Age of Grace recorded in the Bible, and are more in line with man’s actual needs. It is just as this passage of Almighty says: “You must understand why, today, you are asked not to read the Bible, why there is another work that is separate from the Bible, why God does not look for newer, more detailed practice in the Bible, and why there is instead mightier work outside of the Bible. This is all what you should understand. You must know the difference between the old and new work, and even though you do not read the Bible, you must be able to dissect it; if not, you will still worship the Bible, and it will be difficult for you to enter into the new work and undergo new changes. 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 ’” (“Concerning the Bible (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). At that moment, I was suddenly enlightened: Now I know why I have grown increasingly passive in spirit although I have held to the Bible all the time and why my brothers and sisters have become ever weaker and some of them have even stopped attending the meetings although they haven’t departed from the Bible under my leading; why those brothers and sisters who have accepted the kingdom gospel of Almighty God are full of faith, and no matter how I have treated them, they are not disheartened but still come to preach the gospel to me again and again. The reason is this: What I have held to is the old way and I have long lost the work of the Holy Spirit; whereas the brothers and sisters of the Church of Almighty God are guided by the new way and watered by God’s new words, thereby gaining the work of the Holy Spirit. This is how the new way and the old way differ.
At that time, I had a mixed feeling of happiness and sadness. I was happy because although I had been so disobedient and resistant to Him, God didn’t abandon me but allowed me to overhear His voice through my husband reading His words out in early morning. That was reallyfor me. And I was sad because every time the brothers and sisters came from afar to preach the gospel to me, I ignored them, and I even spoke cold words when they fellowshiped with my husband. Thinking of God’s love and my resistance to God’s work, I couldn’t restrain my tears. I knelt down before God and prayed, “O Almighty God, I know I am wrong. I’m willing to put aside the Bible, keep up with Your new work, and listen to Your words in the new age. I will never again oppose You, nor do I want my life to be ruined by my notions and imaginations. O God, I’m resolved to cooperate with You and bring those true believers in You to Your house, so as to make up for my indebtedness to You. Thank Almighty God! May all the glory be to Almighty God!”