4. The Notion of the Religious World That: “When the Lord Returns, People Will Be Directly Raptured Into the Clouds and Meet With Him in the Sky”
Based on the Lord Jesus’ words, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2–3), and these words of Paul from the Bible, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17), the religious world believes that when the Lord returns, they will be raptured directly into the clouds, and meet with Him in the sky.
God’s Words From the Bible
“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).
“Therefore be you also ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes” (Matthew 24:44).
“He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7).
“And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him” (Matthew 25:6).
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears My voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).
“After this manner therefore pray you: Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9–10).
“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Revelation 21:3).
“The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
“And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the middle of the seven candlesticks one like to the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle. His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; And His feet like to fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shines in its strength” (Revelation 1:12–16).
“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: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come” (John 16:12–13).
“And if any man hears My words, and believes not, I judge him not: 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).
Words of Almighty God of the Last Days
When Jesus came into the world of man, He ushered in the Age of Grace and ended the Age of Law. During the last days, God once more became flesh, and with this incarnation He ended the Age of Grace and ushered in the Age of Kingdom. All those who are able to accept the second incarnation of God will be led into the Age of Kingdom, and will moreover become able to personally accept the guidance of God. Though Jesus did much work among man, He only completed the redemption of all mankind and became man’s sin offering; He did not rid man of all his corrupt disposition. Fully saving man from the influence of Satan not only required Jesus to become the sin offering and bear the sins of man, but it also required God to do even greater work to rid man completely of his satanically corrupted disposition. And so, now that man has been forgiven of his sins, God has returned to the flesh to lead man into the new age, and begun the work of chastisement and judgment. This work has brought man into a higher realm. All those who submit under His dominion shall enjoy higher truth and receive greater blessings. They shall truly live in the light, and they shall gain the truth, the way, and the life.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Preface
You only know that Jesus shall descend during the last days, but how exactly will He descend? A sinner such as you, who has just been redeemed, and has not been changed, or been perfected by God, can you be after God’s heart? For you, you who are still of your old self, it is true that you were saved by Jesus, and that you are not counted as a sinner because of the salvation of God, but this does not prove that you are not sinful, and are not impure. How can you be saintly if you have not been changed? Within, you are beset by impurity, selfish and mean, yet you still wish to descend with Jesus—you should be so lucky! You have missed a step in your belief in God: You have merely been redeemed, but you have not been changed. For you to be after God’s heart, God must personally do the work of changing and cleansing you; if you are only redeemed, you will be incapable of attaining sanctity. In this way you will be unqualified to share in the good blessings of God, for you have missed out a step in God’s work of managing man, which is the key step of changing and perfecting. You, a sinner who has just been redeemed, are therefore incapable of directly inheriting God’s inheritance.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Concerning Appellations and Identity
Christ of the last days uses a variety of truths to teach man, to expose the substance of man, and to dissect the words and deeds of man. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the substance of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, the words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan, and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes over the long term. All these different methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth of which man is utterly bereft. Only methods such as these can be called judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced about God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God. What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt essence and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the essence of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him. This work is the work of judgment done by God. …
The work of judgment is God’s own work, so it must naturally be carried out by God Himself; it cannot be done by man in His stead. Because judgment is the use of the truth to conquer humankind, there is no question that God would still appear in the incarnate image to perform this work among man. That is to say, Christ of the last days shall use the truth to teach people across the world and make all truths known to them. This is God’s work of judgment.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth
During the last days, God incarnate has come to earth chiefly in order to speak words. When Jesus came, He spread the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, and He accomplished the work of redemption of the crucifixion. He brought an end to the Age of Law and abolished all that was old. The arrival of Jesus ended the Age of Law and ushered in the Age of Grace; the arrival of God incarnate of the last days has brought an end to the Age of Grace. He has come chiefly to speak His words, to use words to make man perfect, to illuminate and enlighten man, and to remove the place of the vague God within man’s heart. This is not the stage of work that Jesus did when He came. When Jesus came, He performed many miracles, He healed the sick and cast out demons, and He did the work of redemption of the crucifixion. As a consequence, in people’s notions, they believe that this is how God should be. For when Jesus came, He did not do the work of removing the image of the vague God from man’s heart; when He came, He was crucified, He healed the sick and cast out demons, and He spread the gospel of the kingdom of heaven. In one regard, the incarnation of God during the last days removes the place held by the vague God in the notions of man, so that there is no longer the image of the vague God in man’s heart. Through His actual words and actual work, His movement across all lands, and the exceptionally real and normal work that He does among man, He causes man to know the reality of God, and removes the place of the vague God in man’s heart. In another regard, God uses the words spoken by His flesh to make man complete, and to accomplish all things. This is the work that God will accomplish during the last days.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Knowing God’s Work Today
During the last days, when God becomes flesh, He principally uses the word to accomplish all and make all clear. Only in His words can you see what He is; only in His words can you see that He is God Himself. When God incarnate comes to earth, He does no other work but the speaking of words—thus there is no need for facts; words suffice. That is because He has principally come to do this work, to allow man to behold His power and supremacy in His words, to allow man to see in His words how He humbly hides Himself, and to allow man to know His entirety in His words. All that He has and all that He is are in His words. His wisdom and wondrousness are in His words. In this are you made to see the many methods with which God speaks His words. Most of God’s work during all this time has been provision, revelation, and dealing to man. He does not curse a person lightly, and even when He does, it is through the word that He curses them. And so, in this age of God become flesh, do not try to see God heal the sick and cast out demons again, and stop constantly looking for signs—there is no point! Those signs cannot make man perfect! To speak plainly: Today, the practical God Himself of the flesh does not act; He only speaks. This is the truth! He uses words to make you perfect, and uses words to feed and water you. He also uses words to work, and He uses words in place of facts to make you know His reality. If you are capable of perceiving this manner of God’s work, then it is difficult to be negative. Instead of focusing on things that are negative, you should focus only on that which is positive—which is to say, regardless of whether or not the words of God are fulfilled, or whether or not there is the advent of facts, God causes man to gain life from His words, and this is the greatest of all signs; and even more so, it is an undisputable fact. This is the best evidence through which to know God, and is an even greater sign than signs. Only these words can make man perfect.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. All Is Achieved by the Word of God
In fact, when God makes people perfect and gains them, He is letting them know the deeds of the practical God; He is using the work of the practical God to show people the actual significance of the incarnation, to show them that the Spirit of God has actually appeared before man. When people are gained and made perfect by God, the expressions of the practical God have conquered them; the words of the practical God have changed them and worked His own life into them, filling them with what He is (whether it be what He is in His humanity or what He is in His divinity), filling them with the essence of His words, and making people live out His words. When God gains people, He does so primarily by using the words and utterances of the practical God as a way to deal with people’s deficiencies and to judge and reveal their rebellious disposition, causing them to gain what they need and showing them that God has come among man. Most important of all, the work done by the practical God is that of saving every person from the influence of Satan, taking them away from the land of filth, and dispelling their corrupt disposition. The most profound significance of being gained by the practical God is being able to live out normal humanity with the practical God as an exemplar and a model, being able to practice according to the words and requirements of the practical God without the slightest deviation or departure, practicing in whatever way He says, and being able to achieve whatever He asks. In this way, you will have been gained by God. When you are gained by God, you do not only possess the work of the Holy Spirit; principally, you are able to live out the requirements of the practical God. Merely having the work of the Holy Spirit does not mean you have life. The crux is whether you are able to act according to the practical God’s requirements of you, which relates to whether you are able to be gained by God. These are the greatest meaning of the practical God’s work in the flesh. This is to say that God gains a group of people by really and actually appearing in the flesh and being vivid and lifelike, being seen by people, actually doing the work of the Spirit in the flesh, and by acting as an exemplar for people in the flesh. God’s arrival in the flesh is primarily meant to enable people to see the real deeds of God, to give fleshly form to the formless Spirit, and to allow people to see and touch Him. In this way, those who are made complete by Him will live Him out, will be gained by Him, and will be after His heart. If God only spoke in heaven and had not actually come onto the earth, then people would yet be incapable of knowing God; they would only be able to preach God’s deeds using empty theory and would not have God’s words as reality. God has come onto the earth primarily to act as an exemplar and a model for those whom He is to gain; only thus can people actually know God, touch God, and see Him, and only then can they truly be gained by God.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. You Should Know That the Practical God Is God Himself
“Being caught up” does not mean being taken from a low place to a high place, as people might imagine; that is a huge misconception. “Being caught up” refers to My predestining and then selecting. It is directed at all those I have predestined and chosen. All those who are caught up are people who have gained the status of firstborn sons or sons, or who are God’s people. This is most incompatible with people’s notions. Those who will have a share in My house in the future are all ones who have been caught up before Me. This is absolutely true, never-changing, and irrefutable. It is a counterattack against Satan. Anyone I predestined shall be caught up before Me.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 104
The appearance of God refers to His arrival on earth to do His work in person. With His own identity and disposition, and in the way that is innate to Him, He descends among mankind to conduct the work of initiating an age and ending an age. This kind of appearance is not a form of ceremony. It is not a sign, a picture, a miracle, or some kind of a grand vision, and even less is it a kind of religious process. It is a real and actual fact that can be touched and beheld by anyone. This kind of appearance is not for the sake of going through the motions, or for any short-term undertaking; it is, rather, for a stage of work in His management plan. The appearance of God is always meaningful and always bears some relation to His management plan. What is called appearance here is completely different from the kind of “appearance” in which God guides, leads, and enlightens man. God carries out a stage of His great work each time He reveals Himself. This work is different from that of any other age. It is unimaginable to man, and has never been experienced by man. It is work that starts a new age and concludes the old age, and it is a new and improved form of work for the salvation of mankind; moreover, it is work that brings mankind into the new age. This is what the appearance of God signifies.
… 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 demand of yourselves how you ought to seek God’s footprints, how you ought to accept God’s appearance, and how you ought 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
If people remain stuck in the Age of Grace, then they shall never be rid of their corrupt disposition, let alone know the inherent disposition of God. If people always live in the midst of an abundance of grace, but do not have the way of life that allows them to know God or to satisfy Him, then they will never truly gain Him in their belief in Him. This type of belief is pitiful indeed. When you have finished reading this book, when you have experienced each step of the work of God incarnate in the Age of Kingdom, you will feel that desires you have had for many years have finally been realized. You will feel that only now have you truly seen God face to face; only now have you gazed upon His countenance, heard His personal utterances, appreciated the wisdom of His work, and truly sensed how real and almighty He is. You will feel that you have gained many things that people in times past had never seen nor possessed. At this time, you will clearly know what it is to believe in God, and what it is to conform to God’s will. Of course, if you cling to views of the past, and reject or deny the fact of the second incarnation of God, then you will remain empty-handed, acquiring nothing, and ultimately you will be pronounced guilty of opposing God. Those who are able to obey the truth and submit to the work of God shall be claimed under the name of the second incarnate God—the Almighty. They will be able to accept God’s personal guidance, gaining more and higher truths, as well as real life. They shall behold the vision never seen before by people of the past: “And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the middle of the seven candlesticks one like to the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle. His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; And His feet like to fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shines in its strength” (Revelation 1:12–16). This vision is the expression of God’s entire disposition, and the expression of His entire disposition is also the expression of the work of God in His present incarnation. In the torrents of chastisements and judgments, the Son of man expresses His inherent disposition by means of utterances, allowing all those who accept His chastisement and judgment to see the true face of the Son of man, which is a faithful depiction of the face of the Son of man seen by John. (Of course, all of this will be invisible to those who do not accept the work of God in the Age of Kingdom.) The true face of God cannot be fully articulated using human language, and so God uses the means by which He expresses His inherent disposition to show His true face to man. Which is to say that all those who have appreciated the inherent disposition of the Son of man have seen the true face of the Son of man, for God is too great and cannot be fully articulated using human language. Once man has experienced each step of God’s work in the Age of Kingdom, then he shall know the true meaning of John’s words when he spoke of the Son of man among the lampstands: “His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; And His feet like to fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shines in its strength.” At that time, you shall know beyond all doubt that this ordinary flesh that has said so much is undeniably the second incarnate God. Moreover, you shall truly sense how blessed you are, and feel yourself to be the most fortunate. Are you not willing to accept this blessing?
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Preface
God created humans and placed them upon earth, and He has led them ever since. He then saved them and served as a sin offering for humanity. At the end, He still must conquer humanity, save humans entirely, and restore them to their original likeness. This is the work that He has been engaged in ever since the beginning—restoring humanity to their original image and likeness. God will establish His kingdom and restore the original likeness of human beings, which means that God will restore His authority upon earth and among all creation. Humanity lost their God-fearing heart as well as the function incumbent upon God’s creatures after being corrupted by Satan, thereby becoming an enemy disobedient to God. Humanity then lived under Satan’s power and followed Satan’s orders; thus, God had no way to work among His creatures, and became all the more unable to gain their fear. Humans were created by God, and ought to worship God, but they actually turned their backs on Him and worshiped Satan instead. Satan became the idol in their hearts. Thus, God lost His standing in their hearts, which is to say that He lost the meaning behind His creation of humanity. Therefore, to restore the meaning behind His creation of humanity, He must restore their original likeness and rid humanity of their corrupt dispositions. To reclaim humans from Satan, He must save them from sin. Only in this way can God gradually restore their original likeness and function, and finally, restore His kingdom. The ultimate destruction of those sons of disobedience will also be carried out in order to allow humans to better worship God and better live upon the earth. Because God created humans, He will make them worship Him; because He wishes to restore humanity’s original function, He will restore it completely and without any adulteration. Restoring His authority means making humans worship Him and submit to Him; it means that God will make humans live because of Him and cause His enemies to perish as a result of His authority. It means that God will cause everything about Him to persist among humans without resistance from anybody. The kingdom God wishes to establish is His own kingdom. The humanity He desires is one that will worship Him, one that will submit to Him completely and manifest His glory. If God does not save corrupt humanity, then the meaning behind His creation of humanity will be lost; He will have no more authority among humans, and His kingdom will no longer be able to exist upon the earth. If God does not destroy those enemies who are disobedient to Him, He will be unable to obtain His complete glory, nor will He be able to establish His kingdom upon the earth. These will be marks of the completion of His work and of His great accomplishment: to utterly destroy those among humanity who are disobedient to Him, and to bring into rest those who have been made complete. When humans have been restored to their original likeness, and when they can fulfill their respective duties, keep to their own proper places and submit to all of God’s arrangements, God will have obtained a group of people upon the earth who worship Him, and He will also have established a kingdom upon the earth that worships Him. He will have eternal victory upon the earth, and all those who are opposed to Him will perish for all eternity. This will restore His original intention in creating humanity; it will restore His intention in creating all things, and it will also restore His authority upon earth, among all things, and among His enemies. These will be the symbols of His total victory. Thenceforth, humanity will enter into rest and begin a life that is on the right track. God will also enter into eternal rest with humanity, and commence an eternal life shared by both Himself and humans. The filth and disobedience upon the earth will have disappeared, and all the wailing will have dissipated, and everything in this world that opposes God will have ceased to exist. Only God and those people to whom He has brought salvation will remain; only His creation will remain.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together
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