2. Concerning the return of the Lord, the Bible clearly states, “But of that day and hour knows no man, not the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but My Father only” (Mat 24:36). No one knows when the Lord will come, yet The Church of Almighty God is testifying that the Lord Jesus has already returned. How do you know this?
Bible Verses for Reference:
“And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him” (Mat 25:6).
“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” (Rev 3:20).
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (Jhn 10:27).
Relevant Words of God:
Since we are searching for the footprints of God, it behooves us to search for God’s will, for the words of God, for His utterances—because wherever there are new words spoken by God, the voice of God is there, and wherever there are the footsteps of God, God’s deeds are there. Wherever there is the expression of God, there God appears, and wherever God appears, there the truth, the way, and the life exist. In seeking God’s footprints, you have ignored the words “God is the truth, the way, and the life.” And so, many people, even when they receive the truth, do not believe that they have found God’s footprints, and still less do they acknowledge the appearance of God. What a grave mistake! The appearance of God cannot be reconciled with man’s notions, still less can God appear at the behest of man. God makes His own choices and His own plans when He does His work; moreover, He has His own objectives and His own methods. Whatever work He does, He has no need to discuss it with man or seek his advice, much less to notify each and every person of His work. This is the disposition of God, which should, moreover, be recognized by everyone. If you desire to witness the appearance of God, to follow God’s footsteps, then you must first walk away from your own notions. You must not demand that God do this or that, much less should you place Him within your own confines and limit Him to your own notions. Instead, you should ask how you are to seek God’s footprints, how you are to accept God’s appearance, and how you are to submit to the new work of God: This is what man should do. Since man is not the truth, and is not possessed of the truth, he should seek, accept, and obey.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Appendix 1: The Appearance of God Has Ushered in a New Age
Today, God has done new work. You may not be able to accept these words, and they may seem odd to you, but I would advise you not to expose your naturalness, for only those who truly hunger and thirst for righteousness before God can obtain the truth, and only those who are truly devout can be enlightened and guided by Him. Results are obtained by seeking the truth with sober tranquility, not with quarrel and contention. When I say that “today, God has done new work,” I am referring to the matter of God’s returning to the flesh. Perhaps these words do not bother you; perhaps you despise them; or even perhaps they are of great interest to you. Whatever the case, I hope that all those who truly yearn for God to appear can face this fact and give it their careful scrutiny, rather than jump to conclusions about it; that is what a wise person should do.
It is not difficult to inquire into such a thing, but it requires each of us to know this one truth: He who is God incarnate shall possess the essence of God, and He who is God incarnate shall possess the expression of God. Since God becomes flesh, He shall bring forth the work He intends to do, and since God becomes flesh, He shall express what He is, and shall be able to bring the truth to man, bestow life upon him, and point the way for him. Flesh that does not have the essence of God is decidedly not the incarnate God; of this there is no doubt. If man intends to inquire into whether it is God’s incarnate flesh, then he must corroborate this from the disposition He expresses and the words He speaks. Which is to say, to corroborate whether or not it is God’s incarnate flesh, and whether or not it is the true way, one must discriminate on the basis of His essence. And so, in determining whether it is the flesh of God incarnate, the key lies in His essence (His work, His utterances, His disposition, and many other aspects), rather than external appearance. If man scrutinizes only His external appearance, and as a result overlooks His essence, this shows that man is benighted and ignorant.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Preface
God is silent, and has never appeared to us, yet His work has never stopped. He surveys the whole earth, and commands all things, and beholds all the words and deeds of man. He conducts His management with measured steps and according to His plan, silently and without dramatic effect, yet His footsteps advance, one by one, ever closer to mankind, and His judgment seat is deployed in the universe at the speed of lightning, following which His throne immediately descends into our midst. What a majestic scene that is, what a stately and solemn tableau! Like a dove, and like a roaring lion, the Spirit comes into our midst. He is wisdom, He is righteousness and majesty, and He comes surreptitiously into our midst, wielding authority and filled with love and mercy. No one is aware of His arrival, no one welcomes His arrival, and, what is more, no one knows all that He is about to do. Man’s life goes on as before, his heart no different, and the days go by as usual. God lives among us, a man like other men, as one of the most insignificant of the followers and an ordinary believer. He has His own pursuits, His own goals; and, what is more, He has divinity not possessed by ordinary men. No one has noticed the existence of His divinity, and no one has perceived the difference between His essence and that of man. We live together with Him, unconstrained and unafraid, for in our eyes He is but an insignificant believer. He watches our every move, and all of our thoughts and ideas are laid bare before Him. No one takes an interest in His existence, no one imagines anything about His function, and, what is more, no one has the faintest suspicion about His identity. All we do is carry on our pursuits, as if He has nothing to do with us …
By chance, the Holy Spirit expresses a passage of words “through” Him, and even though it feels very unexpected, we nevertheless recognize it as an utterance coming from God and readily accept it from God. That is because, regardless of who expresses these words, as long as they come from the Holy Spirit, we should accept them and may not deny them. The next utterance could come through me, or through you, or through someone else. Whoever it is, all is the grace of God. Yet no matter who it is, we may not worship this person, for no matter what, this person cannot possibly be God, nor would we by any means choose an ordinary person like this to be our God. Our God is so great and honorable; how could such an insignificant person stand in His place? What is more, we are waiting for God to come and take us back to the kingdom of heaven, so how could someone so insignificant be up to such an important and arduous task? If the Lord comes again, it must be upon a white cloud, so that all the multitudes may see. How glorious that will be! How is it possible that He can hide surreptitiously among a group of ordinary people?
And yet it is this ordinary person, hidden in the midst of people, who is doing the new work of saving us. He offers us no explanations, nor does He tell us why He has come, but simply does the work He intends to do with measured steps and according to His plan. His words and utterances become ever more frequent. From consoling, exhorting, reminding, and warning, to reproaching and disciplining; from a tone that is gentle and mild, to words that are fierce and majestic—all of it confers mercy on man and instills trepidation in him. Everything that He says hits home at the secrets hidden deep within us; His words sting our hearts, sting our spirits, and leave us filled with unbearable shame, hardly knowing where to hide ourselves. We begin to wonder whether the God in this person’s heart truly loves us and what exactly He is up to. Perhaps we can only be raptured after enduring these sufferings? In our heads, we are calculating … about the destination to come and about our future fate. Still, as before, none of us believes that God has already assumed flesh to work in our midst. Even though He has accompanied us for such a long time, even though He has already spoken so many words face to face with us, we remain unwilling to accept such an ordinary man as the God of our future, and still less are we willing to entrust control of our future and our fate to this insignificant person. From Him we enjoy an unending supply of living water, and through Him we live face-to-face with God. But we are only thankful for the grace of the Lord Jesus in heaven, and have never paid any heed to the feelings of this ordinary person who is possessed of divinity. Still, as before, He does His work humbly hidden in the flesh, giving expression to His inmost heart, as though insensible to mankind’s rejection of Him, as though eternally forgiving of man’s childishness and ignorance, and forever tolerant of man’s irreverent attitude toward Him.
Unbeknownst to us, this insignificant man has led us into one step after another of God’s work. We undergo countless trials, bear innumerable chastenings, and are tested by death. We learn of God’s righteous and majestic disposition, enjoy, too, His love and mercy, come to appreciate God’s great power and wisdom, witness the loveliness of God, and behold God’s eager desire to save man. In the words of this ordinary person, we come to know the disposition and essence of God, to understand God’s will, to know the nature essence of man, and see the way to salvation and perfection. His words cause us to “die,” and they cause us to be “reborn”; His words bring us comfort, yet also leave us wracked with guilt and a sense of indebtedness; His words bring us joy and peace, but also infinite pain. Sometimes we are as lambs to the slaughter in His hands; sometimes we are like the apple of His eye, and enjoy His tender love; sometimes we are like His enemy, and under His gaze are turned to ashes by His wrath. We are the human race saved by Him, we are the maggots in His eyes, and we are the lost lambs that, day and night, He is bent on finding. He is merciful toward us, He despises us, He raises us up, He comforts and exhorts us, He guides us, He enlightens us, He chastens and disciplines us, and He even curses us. Night and day, He never ceases to worry about us, and protects and cares for us, night and day, never leaving our side, but spills His heart’s blood for our sake and pays any price for us. Within the utterances of this small and ordinary body of flesh, we have enjoyed the entirety of God and beheld the destination that God has bestowed upon us. Notwithstanding this, vanity still stirs up trouble within our hearts, and we are still unwilling actively to accept a person like this as our God. Though He has given us so much manna, so much to enjoy, none of this can take the Lord’s place in our hearts. We honor this person’s special identity and status only with great reluctance. As long as He does not open His mouth to ask us to acknowledge that He is God, we will never take it upon ourselves to acknowledge Him as the God that is soon to arrive and yet has long been working in our midst.
God continues His utterances, employing various methods and perspectives to admonish us about what we should do while, at the same time, giving voice to His heart. His words carry life power, show us the way we should walk, and enable us to understand what the truth is. We begin to be drawn by His words, we begin to focus on the tone and manner of His speaking, and subconsciously we begin to take an interest in the innermost feelings of this unremarkable person. He spits up His heart’s blood in working on our behalf, loses sleep and appetite on our account, weeps for us, sighs for us, groans in sickness for us, suffers humiliation for the sake of our destination and salvation, and our numbness and rebelliousness draw tears and blood from His heart. This way of being and of having belongs to no ordinary person, nor can it be possessed or attained by any corrupted human being. He shows tolerance and patience possessed by no ordinary person, and His love is not something with which any created being is endowed. No one apart from Him can know all of our thoughts, or have such a clear and complete grasp of our nature and essence, or judge the rebelliousness and corruption of mankind, or speak to us and work among us like this on behalf of God in heaven. No one apart from Him is endowed with the authority, wisdom, and dignity of God; the disposition of God and what God has and is are brought forth, in their entirety, in Him. No one apart from Him can show us the way and bring us light. No one apart from Him can reveal the mysteries that God has not disclosed since creation until today. No one apart from Him can save us from Satan’s bondage and our own corrupt disposition. He represents God. He expresses the inmost heart of God, the exhortations of God, and God’s words of judgment toward all mankind. He has begun a new age, a new era, and ushered in a new heaven and earth and new work, and He has brought us hope, ending the life we led in vagueness and enabling our whole being to behold, in total clarity, the path to salvation. He has conquered our whole being and gained our hearts. From that moment onward, our minds have become conscious, and our spirits seem to be revived: This ordinary, insignificant person, who lives among us and has long been rejected by us—is this not the Lord Jesus, who is ever in our thoughts, waking or dreaming, and for whom we long night and day? It is He! It really is He! He is our God! He is the truth, the way, and the life! He has enabled us to live again and to see the light and has stopped our hearts from wandering. We have returned to the home of God, we have returned before His throne, we are face-to-face with Him, we have witnessed His countenance, and we have seen the road that lies ahead. At this time, our hearts are completely conquered by Him; we no longer doubt who He is, no longer oppose His work and His word, and we fall down prostrate before Him. We wish for nothing more than to follow the footprints of God for the rest of our lives, and to be made perfect by Him, and to repay His grace, and repay His love for us, and to obey His orchestrations and arrangements, and to cooperate with His work, and to do everything we can to complete what He entrusts to us.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Appendix 4: Beholding the Appearance of God in His Judgment and Chastisement