7. In the Bible it is written, “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1Ts 4:16). You testify that the Lord Jesus has returned, but we have not heard the shout, or the voice of the archangel, or the trump of God, nor have we beheld the dead saints rise again. So how can it be proven that the Lord has returned?
Is it right for you to judge whether the Lord has returned based upon the words of Paul in the Bible that say, “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1Ts 4:16)? It is a plain fact that the Bible contains the words of God, the words of man, and even the words of the devil Satan. When it comes to welcoming the Lord, why do you not go by the words of God, but go by the words of man? Do you believe the words of man to all be the truth? And that they all accord with the truth? The words you are referencing were uttered by Paul. Paul was a man, he was not God, so how could his words be used as a basis for welcoming the Lord? Only the words of God can provide a basis for matters involving the Lord’s return. No basis is more accurate than the prophecies personally spoken by the Lord Jesus, for only God’s words are the truth. Man is without the truth, and even when his words are enlightened and illuminated by the Holy Spirit, they are not the truth, much less should they be taken and adhered to as the truth. So what did the Lord Jesus say about His return? The Lord Jesus said, “But of that day and hour knows no man, not the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but My Father only” (Mat 24:36). The Lord Jesus said this with absolute unambiguity and directness. No one knows when the Lord will return, not even the angels in heaven or the incarnated Son of man Himself. Only the Father—the Holy Spirit—knows. And this being the case, in welcoming the Lord, the most accurate thing to do is to seek and investigate based only on the words of the Lord Jesus. None of the prophecies of man are accurate, much less can they serve as any kind of basis. So do the words of the Lord Jesus say that He will return with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and that the dead will rise? No. And so your conclusion, based on the words of Paul, that the Lord has not returned because these phenomena have not occurred—is utterly ridiculous.
We welcome the return of the Lord based on the words of the Lord. The Lord said, “Behold, I come as a thief” (Rev 16:15). “Be you therefore ready also: for the Son of man comes at an hour when you think not” (Luk 12:40). “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). “For as the lightning, that lightens out of the one part under heaven, shines to the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in His day. But first must He suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation” (Luk 17:24–25). The Lord’s words are clear: He comes at a time unexpected by man and expresses the truth under circumstances unknown by any person or angel, causing God’s chosen people to hear the voice of God. When God’s chosen people hear the voice of God and recognize the Lord is when they are raised before the throne of God. It is these people who are raised up who then begin to testify that the Lord has returned and that He has appeared and begun to work, thus fulfilling the prophecy of the Lord Jesus: “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him” (Mat 25:6). Welcoming the arrival of the Lord is that simple. It is entirely based on the prophecies of the Lord Jesus, and this is not the slightest bit in error; there is no need for people to focus on hearing a shout, the voice of the archangel, or the trump of God, or beholding the dead rise—all that is ridiculous. There is only one basis for proof of the Lord’s return, which is hearing the voice of God, and people seeing that the words expressed by God are the truth, and the voice of God—this is the best proof. If you do not believe that, look with your own eyes at all the words expressed by Almighty God. If you recognize that they are the voice of God, and you accept them, then you are a wise virgin who has heard the voice of the Lord and welcomed the Lord. As Almighty God says, “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” (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh). You can also wait until you see the fact of God’s work perfecting a group of people into overcomers and of the fulfillment of every one of Almighty God’s words. But if you wait until that day to accept Almighty God, it will be too late, and God will have already openly appeared.