36. Listening to God’s Voice and Welcoming the Lord
Almighty God says, “Many people may not care what I say, but I still want to tell every so-called saint who follows Jesus that, when you see Jesus descend from the heaven upon a white cloud with your own eyes, this will be the public appearance of the Sun of righteousness. Perhaps that will be a time of great excitement for you, yet you should know that the time when you witness Jesus descend from the heaven is also the time when you go down to hell to be punished. That will be the time of the end of God’s management plan and it will be when God rewards the good and punishes the wicked. For the judgment of God will have ended before man sees signs, when there is only the expression of truth. Those who accept the truth and do not seek signs, and thus have been purified, shall have returned before the throne of God and entered the Creator’s embrace. Only those who persist in the belief that ‘The Jesus who does not ride upon a white cloud is a false Christ’ shall be subjected to everlasting punishment, for they only believe in the Jesus who exhibits signs, but do not acknowledge the Jesus who proclaims severe judgment and releases the true way and life. And so it can only be that Jesus deals with them when He openly returns upon a white cloud” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. By the Time You Behold the Spiritual Body of Jesus, God Will Have Made Heaven and Earth Anew). Almighty God’s words reveal that the greatest mistake shared by believers in welcoming the Lord is clinging to the literal Bible and waiting for Him to come on a cloud as they imagine. Even when they hear that He’s returned, that He is expressing truths and doing the judgment work in the last days, they don’t investigate or try to listen for God’s voice. As a result, they miss out on their chance to be taken up into the kingdom of heaven by the Lord. When the day comes that people do see the Lord Jesus come down on a cloud, God’s work of cleansing and saving mankind will already be done. They’ll be punished, weeping and gnashing their teeth. Clinging to their own notions and imaginings without seeking the truth or listening for God’s voice is so dangerous! Stuck in these sorts of notions and imaginings, I nearly missed my chance to welcome the Lord.
I used to be a preacher in a house church. By 1996, I felt empty and could not get any sustenance, so I often traveled to listen to other sermons. One time, I heard someone say that Eastern Lightning was bearing witness that the Lord Jesus had returned in the flesh, that He was expressing truths and doing the judgment work of the last days, and quite a few brothers and sisters had already joined Eastern Lightning. I was really taken aback, and thought, “The Lord has returned? How could that be possible? It says in the Bible, ‘You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven’ (Acts 1:11). The Lord should return as His resurrected spiritual body on a cloud, appearing to us openly. Since we haven’t seen anything like that, how could anyone say He’s come back? The part about God’s work of judgment in the flesh is even less believable.” So, I never listened to or looked into the sermons of Eastern Lightning.
One day, Brother Weston from our church invited a couple of other preachers. He said their sermons had the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and we could all learn something. I was thrilled and invited the other brothers and sisters to attend. In the gathering, Sisters Leila and Zoe integrated the Bible into their fellowship on the meaning of God’s work in the Ages of Law and Grace, and the mystery of God’s names. They talked about how we’re living in a vicious cycle of sinning and confessing, how we’re filthy and corrupt and unfit to see the Lord. They also said the Bible prophesied the Lord would judge and cleanse mankind when He returns in the last days to resolve our sinful nature. That’s the only way for us to be totally free of sin and worthy of the kingdom of heaven. Just like the Lord Jesus said, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:12–13). “For I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:47–48). The sisters’ fellowship was very enlightening. I’d never heard anything like it in my over ten years of faith. I needed to hear more, so I invited them into my home to share more fellowship. One evening, Leila spoke of Almighty God’s words, “The Seven Thunders Peal—Prophesying That the Gospel of the Kingdom Shall Spread Throughout the Universe.” She testified that the Lord Jesus had returned as Almighty God, Christ of the last days. Particularly when I heard God’s words mention “the lightning flashes straight from East to West,” I realized this was Eastern Lightning. I was shocked but also disappointed. How could that be the case? I hadn’t heard such enlightening sermons for years. I’d been delighted, thinking I’d found the Holy Spirit’s work and could finally gain the living water’s sustenance. I’d never imagined it would turn out to be Eastern Lightning! It’s written in the Bible that the Lord will return on a cloud, so He should take us straight up into heaven. How could they say the Lord had returned in the flesh? I didn’t want to hear another word. If I let them lead me astray, I figured everything I’d endured over my years of faith would have been in vain. I just wanted to usher them out. But then again, over about two weeks with them, I’d seen they lived out really good humanity. It was the dead of winter, so cold, and past midnight. I felt just rushing them out would be so inhumane. I was really conflicted. It was like an internal tug-of-war—I didn’t know what God’s will was. I made some excuse to go back into my bedroom where I kneeled before the Lord in prayer: “Oh Lord, there really is light in these sisters’ fellowship, but I’m afraid of being misled. I’m so lost. I don’t know what I should do. Lord, please guide me.” I remembered after praying that the Lord Jesus taught us to treat people with love. Kicking them out wouldn’t be in line with the Lord’s will. Even though I let them stay, facing those two sisters was overwhelming for me. I knew their fellowship was enlightening and came from the Holy Spirit’s work, but their fellowship that God had returned in the flesh was so at odds with my own notions. It occurred to me that I could just raise my question with them and see what they said. So I asked them: “You testify that the Lord Jesus has returned in the flesh. I can’t really accept this. It’s clearly written in the Bible, ‘You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven’ (Acts 1:11). It was the Lord Jesus’ spiritual body that ascended to heaven after His resurrection, so it should be His spiritual body that comes back down on a cloud when He returns. How can you say that He’s returned in the flesh?”
Leila patiently responded, “There are a number of biblical prophecies about the Lord returning in the flesh. The Lord Jesus said: ‘For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even to the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be’ (Matthew 24:27). ‘Be you therefore ready also: for the Son of man comes at an hour when you think not’ (Luke 12:40). ‘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’ (Luke 17:24–25). In the Lord Jesus’ prophecies about His return, He mentioned ‘the Son of man comes,’ ‘the coming of the Son of man,’ and ‘the Son of man in His day’ a number of times. ‘The Son of man’ means One who is born of man and possesses normal humanity. If He were in spiritual form, He wouldn’t be called the Son of man. Jehovah God was in spiritual form, so He couldn’t be called the Son of man. Angels are spirits, so they can’t be called the Son of man. The Lord Jesus was called Christ, the Son of man, because He was God’s Spirit become flesh and He was the Son of man possessed of normal humanity. So when the Lord Jesus said ‘the coming of the Son of man’ and ‘the Son of man comes,’ it was a reference to the Lord returning in the flesh in the last days.”
Then Zoe said, “The Lord Jesus prophesied His own return: ‘But first must He suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.’ God has appeared and performs His work in the flesh as the Son of man in the last days. Just like the Lord Jesus Christ, He looks like a regular son of man from the outside. People don’t recognize Him as Christ and treat Him as an ordinary person. Those in the religious world and those part of Satan’s regime also in particular band together to condemn and resist Christ of the last days. This perfectly fulfills the Lord’s prophecy: ‘But first must He suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.’ If it were like human ideas and the Lord came in His spiritual form in the last days, appearing on a cloud with all glory and openly showing Himself to all peoples, everyone would fall before Him, bowing down and worshiping Him, and no one would oppose Him. Then how would this prophecy be fulfilled?”
This helped me begin to understand that if the Lord did appear directly in His spiritual form in the last days, everyone who saw Him would fall to the ground, and no one would go against Him. Then this prophecy, “But first must He suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation,” couldn’t possibly be fulfilled. I thought about how Eastern Lightning is testifying that the Lord Jesus has returned and the religious world and CCP government are throwing everything into resisting and condemning it. Doesn’t that fulfill the Lord’s prophecy of being rejected of this generation? Could Almighty God really be the Lord Jesus returned? The Bible really does prophesy the coming of the Son of man, but there were still some things I didn’t get. The Lord also said: “Behold, He comes with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him” (Revelation 1:7). I wondered how that prophecy could be fulfilled if the Lord did return in incarnate form as the Son of man. So I told them about my confusion.
Leila shared this fellowship: “The Lord is faithful. Every single word of His will be fulfilled. It’s just a matter of time. There are a lot of biblical prophecies about the Lord’s return. Besides Him coming on a cloud, there are also prophecies about Him becoming flesh and coming in secret. For example, the Lord said, ‘And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him’ (Matthew 25:6). ‘But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only’ (Matthew 24:36). And there’s the prophecy in Revelation, ‘Behold, I come as a thief’ (Revelation 16:15). In the prophecies mentioning ‘as a thief,’ ‘at midnight there was a cry made,’ and ‘knows no man,’ He was talking about returning in secret. The Lord comes in two different ways in the last days. He incarnates in secret as the Son of man, and He also comes openly on a cloud. That is, He first comes in the flesh in secret to express the truth and judge and cleanse mankind, and to make a group of overcomers before the disasters. Once God in the flesh has finished His work of saving mankind in secret, the disasters will befall, and He’ll reward the good and punish the evil. Only then will God come openly on a cloud, revealing Himself to all nations and peoples. That’s when the prophecies of the Lord coming openly will be completely fulfilled. All who accept Almighty God’s work of judgment, who are cleansed of their corrupt dispositions will be protected by God and saved from the disasters. They’ll get into God’s kingdom. But those who reject Almighty God’s work of the last days, who do all they can to oppose and condemn it, will be punished in the disasters, weeping and gnashing their teeth. This will fulfill this prophecy in Revelation: ‘Behold, He comes with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him’ (Revelation 1:7).” Then she read a passage of Almighty God’s words for me. “Many people may not care what I say, but I still want to tell every so-called saint who follows Jesus that, when you see Jesus descend from the heaven upon a white cloud with your own eyes, this will be the public appearance of the Sun of righteousness. Perhaps that will be a time of great excitement for you, yet you should know that the time when you witness Jesus descend from the heaven is also the time when you go down to hell to be punished. That will be the time of the end of God’s management plan and it will be when God rewards the good and punishes the wicked. For the judgment of God will have ended before man sees signs, when there is only the expression of truth. Those who accept the truth and do not seek signs, and thus have been purified, shall have returned before the throne of God and entered the Creator’s embrace. Only those who persist in the belief that ‘The Jesus who does not ride upon a white cloud is a false Christ’ shall be subjected to everlasting punishment, for they only believe in the Jesus who exhibits signs, but do not acknowledge the Jesus who proclaims severe judgment and releases the true way and life. And so it can only be that Jesus deals with them when He openly returns upon a white cloud. They are too stubborn, too confident in themselves, too arrogant. How could such degenerates be rewarded by Jesus? The return of Jesus is a great salvation for those who are capable of accepting the truth, but for those who are unable to accept the truth it is a sign of condemnation. You should choose your own path, and should not blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and reject the truth. You should not be an ignorant and arrogant person, but someone who obeys the guidance of the Holy Spirit and longs for and seeks the truth; only in this way will you benefit” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. By the Time You Behold the Spiritual Body of Jesus, God Will Have Made Heaven and Earth Anew).
My eyes were suddenly opened. I saw that the Lord’s return happens in stages. First, He becomes flesh and speaks and works in secret, and then He comes openly on a cloud, appearing to all peoples. I saw that I’d been delimiting the Lord’s coming to just the last way because of my notions and imaginings. The idea that He couldn’t possibly come in the flesh was wrong. I couldn’t keep insisting on that anymore. I thought of these words from the Lord Jesus: “For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:8). Now faced with the Lord’s return, I had to have a God-fearing heart and seriously investigate this to meet the Lord’s will. Otherwise, I’d probably be cast out by the Lord!
Then I asked them, “Since the Lord first becomes flesh to work in secret when He returns, how can we be sure Almighty God is God in the flesh, Christ of the last days?” Leila responded very happily, “For thousands of years, no one has understood the mysteries, the truths about what the incarnation is and how we can know God in the flesh. Now Almighty God has unveiled all of these mysteries and truths to us.” Then she read a few passages of Almighty God’s words to me. “The ‘incarnation’ is God’s appearance in the flesh; God works among created mankind in the image of the flesh. So for God to be incarnated, He must first be flesh, flesh with normal humanity; this is the most basic prerequisite. In fact, the implication of God’s incarnation is that God lives and works in the flesh, that God in His very essence becomes flesh, becomes a man” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Essence of the Flesh Inhabited by God). “Incarnation means that God’s Spirit becomes a flesh, that is, God becomes flesh; the work that the flesh does is the work of the Spirit, which is realized in the flesh, expressed by the flesh. No one except God’s flesh can fulfill the ministry of the incarnate God; that is, only God’s incarnate flesh, this normal humanity—and no one else—can express the divine work” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Essence of the Flesh Inhabited by God). “The incarnate God is called Christ, and Christ is the flesh donned by the Spirit of God. This flesh is unlike any man that is of the flesh. This difference is because Christ is not of flesh and blood; He is the incarnation of the Spirit. He has both a normal humanity and a complete divinity. His divinity is not possessed by any man. His normal humanity sustains all His normal activities in the flesh, while His divinity carries out the work of God Himself” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Essence of Christ Is Obedience to the Will of the Heavenly Father). “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).
Leila continued her fellowship after reading Almighty God’s words. “Christ is God in the flesh. He is God’s Spirit clothed in flesh who has become a normal person, working and uttering words among man. God incarnate looks like a regular person, not lofty or supernatural. He has all the reason, thinking, and emotions of a normal person. He eats, sleeps, and wears clothing just like a normal person, and He lives among people and interacts with them in a very real way. But aside from normal humanity, He also possesses a divine essence, which people don’t have. That’s why Christ can do God’s own work. He can end an old age and begin a new one. His essence is the truth, the way, and the life. He can express the truth, and guide and sustain people anywhere, anytime—He can give us a path of practice. Christ can also reveal mysteries, express God’s disposition, what He has and is, and His almightiness and wisdom. Christ’s words can accomplish all. There’s no human who can do this. The Lord Jesus looked like an ordinary man, but He had a divine essence. His appearance and work started the Age of Grace and ended the Age of Law. He expressed the truth, gave us the way of repentance, and forgave our sins. He was tolerant and patient, and told us to forgive seventy times seven times. He showed God’s disposition of lovingkindness and mercy. He also showed many signs and wonders while He worked, like healing the blind, making the lame walk, quieting the seas with a word, raising the dead, feeding 5,000 people with five loaves and two fishes, and more. This fully revealed God’s authority and power. The Lord Jesus’ work and words and the disposition He expressed were adequate proof that He was God in the flesh. Only God can express the truth, end an old age and begin a new one, express God’s disposition and the wisdom of His work. Besides Christ, no one can express the truth, express what God has and is, or complete God’s own work. This is also how we can determine whether Almighty God is God in the flesh, Christ of the last days. It’s not based on what He looks like, what sort of family He was born into, what His social status is, or whether He has any prestige. None of that matters. What’s most important is seeking and investigating Almighty God’s work and words, seeing if He can express the truth and do the work of God. If He expresses the truth and God’s disposition, if He does God’s work to save mankind, then though He may appear very ordinary without any particular status or power, and in spite of people’s condemnation and rejection, He is God in the flesh. He is Christ.”
Through her fellowship, I understood better that God in the flesh can express the truth and do God’s work. That’s the only basis for determining if someone is Christ. Zoe continued the fellowship: “In confirming whether Almighty God is God in the flesh, we can’t just look at appearances. We have to be sure from His words, His work, and the disposition He expresses. In the last days, Almighty God is expressing truths and doing the work of judgment beginning with the house of God on the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption. He’s ended the Age of Grace and ushered in the Age of Kingdom. Almighty God has uttered millions of words. He’s unveiled the mystery of God’s 6,000-year management plan, the mystery of His three stages of work, the mystery of God’s incarnation and the inside story of the Bible. He’s revealed how Satan corrupts mankind, how God saves mankind, how God does the work of judging and cleansing people in the last days, how He sorts people according to their kind and determines people’s end and destination, and more. Almighty God expresses His disposition that is principally righteous, judging and exposing our satanic nature of opposing God and our corrupt dispositions. He shows us the path to cast off sin and be cleansed, too.” Zoe also shared her own experience of being judged and chastised through God’s words. She said, “I didn’t see how arrogant, selfish, and cunning I was until I was judged, chastised, tested, refined, dealt with, and pruned through God’s words. I had faith and expended myself for God, but I still sinned and resisted God all the time because of my satanic nature. For example, I always loved to show off and have people look up to me. I would haughtily scold others and have them do what I said. I lied and deceived others to protect my own name and status. The list goes on. Through the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, I saw that I was living by my satanic disposition and totally lacked a human likeness. I also realized that His righteous disposition tolerates no offense and I began to have some reverence for Him in my heart. I also developed regret and self-hatred, and started to focus on practicing the truth to resolve my satanic disposition and truly repented to God. There was some gradual change in my corrupt disposition. The achievements of Almighty God’s work and words are enough to be certain that He is God incarnate, that He is Christ of the last days.”
The sisters’ fellowship brightened my heart. I saw that the key to confirming the Son of man’s appearance, and confirming Him to be Christ in the flesh is to see whether He can express God’s words and disposition, and whether He can perform work to end the old age and start the new one. Almighty God has expressed so many truths and is doing the work to judge and cleanse mankind. He’s begun the Age of Kingdom and ended the Age of Grace. Surely that means He’s Christ, the return of the Lord! I never understood the truth before. I just blindly waited for the Lord to come on a cloud in His spiritual form and then take believers straight up into the kingdom of heaven, so I didn’t bother to seek or investigate when I heard He’d already returned. I nearly lost my chance to be reunited with the Lord. What a fool I was!
After that, I avidly read Almighty God’s words. I learned lots of truths and mysteries I’d never understood before, and became absolutely certain that Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned! I shared Almighty God’s work of the last days with over 100 brothers and sisters within my network. When they read His words and heard His voice, they were moved to tears of joy. They turned to Almighty God and accepted His work of the last days, and attended the feast of the Lamb!