Understanding the True Meaning of the Rapture and Joyfully Welcoming the Lord’s Return
By Damaris, Kenya
Hello, brothers and sisters! I’m sure every one of us is eagerly awaiting the Lord’s return, for Him to bring us up into the heavens where we will meet with Him. But will He rapture us straight up when He returns, as we imagine? It was only through a period of time of seeking that I found the right answer and understood what the “rapture” really refers to, and then welcomed the Lord’s return. Today I’d like to share this joyful experience with everyone.
Unable to Gain Sustenance From Sermons and Longing for God to Return Soon
I was born in Kenya and attended Catholic Mass since I was little. Once I grew up I slowly found that the Fathers just preached about lofty biblical theory and knowledge, but it was totally lacking the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit. Their sermons never gave us any sustenance, either, and we were all very spiritually weak.
Since the Fathers were always preaching about the same old things, I stopped going to church; I read the Bible and listened to hymns at home. Sometimes I’d watch a sermon on television, but I found that that was all platitudes without any new light. My soul was so hungry that I felt lost and in pain; I often prayed to God, asking Him to come back soon. My husband later introduced some brothers and sisters from The Church of Almighty God to me, telling me that their preaching did contain light and was really enjoyable; he said that he got a lot of spiritual sustenance. So, I started attending online gatherings with them.
The Lord Jesus Has Already Returned?
In the first gathering we talked about the return of the Lord Jesus. Brother Jack bore witness that the Lord Jesus has already returned, that He is Almighty God incarnate. He also shared fellowship that the key to welcoming the Lord’s return is being able to hear God’s voice, and he said that in the last days, the returned Lord is doing the work of judgment starting with the house of God. I was really surprised to hear this and thought, “The Lord has returned? But in the Bible, the Lord clearly said, ‘But of that day and hour no one knoweth, not the angels of heaven, but the Father alone’ (Matthew 24:36). No one knows when the Lord will return, not even the Son. How could they know?” So, I shared this confusion with him.
This was his response: “Sister, when the Lord Jesus said ‘But of that day and hour no one knoweth, not the angels of heaven,’ He wasn’t saying that no one will know when the Lord returns in the last days to appear and do work, but He was saying no one knows the exact time He comes among us. That is, the day, the moment that the Lord comes down, no one will know, not even the angels in heaven or the Son. Just as Almighty God says, ‘At the break of dawn, unbeknownst to the multitudes of humanity, God came to earth and began His life in the flesh. People were unaware of the coming of this moment. Maybe they were all fast asleep; maybe many who were watchfully awake were waiting, and maybe many were praying silently to God in heaven. Yet among all these many people, not a single one knew that God had already arrived on earth’ (‘Work and Entry (4)’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh). By reading Almighty God’s words we can gain a better understanding that ‘But of that day and hour no one knoweth’ only means that no one knows the moment of the Lord’s coming, but God will certainly let people know about the truths He expresses and His work to save mankind. The Lord’s return to earth in the flesh to do work in the last days is specifically to save mankind, so if no one learned the news of His coming, how could we welcome the Lord and gain the salvation of God’s appearance in the last days? There are a number of prophecies in the Book of Revelation that the Spirit will speak to all churches, that tell us to be sure to listen for God’s utterances. It’s also prophesied that God will knock at the door, and that those who hear and recognize God’s voice will attend the feast with Him. These prophecies tell us that the way to welcome God’s return is to be careful to listen for God’s voice. When we hear someone spreading the news and bearing witness that God has returned, we can determine whether it really is the return of the Lord Jesus by seeing if the words they’re preaching are the truth, if these words contain authority and power, and if they reveal mysteries. We have now accepted and followed Almighty God because we’ve read the words uttered by Him and have seen that these words reveal all mysteries of the truth such as God’s 6,000-year management plan plus mankind’s final destination and outcome. We’ve recognized God’s voice in this and have determined that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus—we have welcomed the Lord’s second coming.”
My heart brightened after hearing Brother Jack’s fellowship. I thought, “That’s true—if the Lord returned and nobody knew, then how could we receive His salvation? God prophesied that He would utter more words in the last days, and brothers and sisters from The Church of Almighty God have recognized God’s voice in Almighty God’s words. They’ve determined that Almighty God is the second coming of the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus said that all of His sheep can hear His voice, so then can’t I determine whether Almighty God is the returned Lord by reading what He’s said?” This made me want to investigate Almighty God’s work of the last days, and so we arranged to continue meeting for fellowship.
When the Lord Returns Will He Take People Up Into the Sky?
The next day at work, I mentioned to my colleagues that all the prophecies of the Lord’s return had all pretty much been fulfilled and that brothers and sisters from The Church of Almighty God are bearing witness that He has already come back. One of them just couldn’t accept that; she got a Bible out of her bag and read this: “Then we who are alive, who are left, shall be taken up together with them in the clouds to meet Christ, into the air, and so shall we be always with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). She then said, “In the epistles of Paul, he clearly stated that when the Lord Jesus returns we will be taken up into the air to meet with the Lord but we’re still on the earth, so how could you say that He has come again?” When she said this I thought to myself, “That’s right, we’re still on the earth. If the Lord had returned we should have already been raptured up into the heavens and have seen the Lord!”
I shared my quandary in the gathering that evening, and Brother Jack had this fellowship: “Many believers think that, based on what Paul said, when the Lord returns He’ll lift us up into the sky to meet with Him, but does this idea have any basis in the Lord Jesus’ words? If we go by Paul’s words rather than the Lord Jesus’ own words on the matter of welcoming His second coming, is this in line with God’s will? Paul was just an apostle in the Age of Grace who preached for God; he was a regular person. How could he fathom the mysteries of God’s second coming in the end times? In fact, the Lord Jesus never said that He would lift us up into the heavens when He returns, but instead, He told us clearly, ‘And no man hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven’ (John 3:13). We can see that heaven is God’s abode and only God, no human being can ascend into heaven. How could we be brought up into the sky?
“We all know that in the beginning, after God created Adam and Eve, He put them in the Garden of Eden to have them watch over all things and live properly on the earth. After mankind was corrupted by Satan and the world became full of violence, God wiped out that evil world with a flood. At the time He didn’t take Noah and his seven family members straight up into heaven, but He commanded Noah to build an ark, where he and his family avoided the flood waters and were able to survive. In the Age of Law God worked in Israel; He issued the law and the commandments through Moses to guide people’s lives on earth. But late in the Age of Law people’s corruption by Satan had grown deeper and deeper and they were unable to keep the law—they were all faced with the danger of being condemned and executed under the law. In order to redeem humanity, He became flesh for the first time as the Lord Jesus and came to walk among mankind, and He was nailed to the cross for us. The Lord Jesus’ work to redeem mankind was also done on the earth. Now in the last days, God has once again come in the flesh, expressing truths to judge and cleanse mankind; He is also doing very concrete work on earth to fully save humanity. We can see from the facts of God’s work that He created humanity on earth, He prepared a suitable environment for human beings’ survival on earth, He did the work of saving mankind on earth, and for millennia humans have always lived on earth. And yet, we always think we’re going to be brought up into heaven. Isn’t that contrary to God’s will?”
I silently pondered Brother Jack’s fellowship within my heart. “It’s true. When God created mankind He put us on the earth and had us watch over all things here, and His work of salvation has also been entirely carried out on earth all along. We, human beings, have always lived on earth, and what the Lord Jesus said is true, ‘And no man hath ascended into heaven.’ However, we’ve always thought about living in heaven—that really does go against God’s will in creating humanity!”
Just then, Brother Jack smiled and said, “Sister, as for whether God will take us up into heaven when He returns, we should look at this based on the Lord Jesus’ words. The Lord’s Prayer that the Lord Jesus taught us has this in it: ‘Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ (Matthew 6:10). The Lord had us pray for God’s kingdom to come to earth, and pray that God’s will be done on earth just as it’s done in heaven—He did not have us pray to be taken up into heaven. There are also some prophecies in the Book of Revelation about God’s kingdom being realized on earth, such as the New Jerusalem coming down from the sky, God’s tabernacle coming to the world, and all ruling power belonging to Christ, making the world God’s kingdom. God prophesied long ago that His kingdom would come to earth—humanity’s final destination is on earth, not in heaven. If being raptured were what we thought, being taken up into the sky, then wouldn’t all of those prophecies just come to nothing? Let’s read another passage of Almighty God’s words, and then this aspect of the truth will be clearer.
“Almighty God says, ‘When God and humanity enter into rest together, it means that humanity has been saved and that Satan has been destroyed, that God’s work in humans is entirely complete. God will no longer continue to work in humans, and they will no longer live under Satan’s domain. As such, God will no longer be busy, and humans will no longer be constantly on the move; God and humanity will enter into rest simultaneously. God will return to His original place, and each person will return to their respective place. These are the destinations in which God and humans will reside once God’s entire management is finished. God has God’s destination, and humanity has humanity’s destination. While resting, God will continue to guide all humans in their lives upon earth, and while in His light, they will worship the one true God in heaven. God will no longer live among humanity, nor will humans be able to live with God in His destination. God and humans cannot live within the same realm; rather, both have their own respective manners of living. God is the One who guides all of humanity, and all of humanity is the crystallization of God’s management work. Humans are the ones who are led, and are not of the same substance as God. To “rest” means to return to one’s original place. Therefore, when God enters into rest, it means He has returned to His original place. He will no longer live upon the earth or be among humanity to share in their joy and suffering. When humans enter into rest, it means that they have become true objects of creation; they will worship God from upon the earth, and live normal human lives. People will no longer be disobedient to God or resist Him, and will return to the original life of Adam and Eve. These will be the respective lives and destinations of God and humans after they enter into rest. Satan’s defeat is an inevitable trend in the war between it and God. As such, God’s entering into rest after the completion of His management work and humanity’s complete salvation and entrance into rest have likewise become inevitable trends. Humanity’s place of rest is on earth, and God’s place of rest is in heaven. While humans worship God in rest, they will live upon the earth, and while God leads the rest of humanity in rest, He will lead them from heaven, not from earth’ (‘God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“Almighty God’s words tell us very clearly that once His work of saving mankind has been completely finished, He and humanity will enter into rest together. God will go back to heaven to continue guiding the people who are left, while human beings will live properly on earth. But what will be different is that even though people at that time will still be living on earth, they’ll no longer be disturbed or corrupted by Satan. They will have been fully cleansed and saved by God and will no longer rebel against or resist God. They will all be living in God’s light, listening to, obeying, and worshiping God. They’ll have God’s blessings and guidance. They’ll no longer suffer from old age, illness, and death or cry out in pain. They’ll be face to face with God every day, leading lives on earth just as if they were in heaven. This is the beautiful destination that God has prepared for mankind, and it is God’s kingdom being fully realized on earth.”
Hearing this, I thought to myself, “Even though I recite the Lord’s Prayer all the time I’ve never understood what it means. So God told us a long time ago that His kingdom will come down to earth, and the place that He has prepared for us is also on earth. Almighty God’s words unveil the mysteries behind this aspect of the truth—in the last days, God comes to earth to cleanse and save humanity, and our destination in the future will be on earth as well. We always want to be taken up into heaven but this isn’t remotely realistic. If it hadn’t been for this fellowship I never would have understood the truth in the Lord’s words. Thanks be to God! So then, what does ‘being caught up’ in the Bible actually refer to?” I went on to ask Brother Jack about this.
The True Meaning of “Being Caught Up” Revealed in God’s Words
Brother Jack heard me out and then patiently shared more fellowship with me. “What does ‘being caught up’ truly refer to? God’s words unveil this mystery. Let’s read a passage and you’ll understand. Almighty God says, ‘“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’ (‘Chapter 104’ of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“In the past we all erroneously took ‘being caught up’ as referring to being raptured up into the sky by God to meet with the Lord, but now the Lord has returned and has uttered words to reveal the true meaning of this. Now we finally understand that that has always referred to the present day, now that the Lord has come again to speak and work on the earth, and that when we hear God’s voice we can accept and submit to His work of the last days, and return before His throne. It’s just like when the Lord Jesus came to work, Peter, John, James and others saw the authority and power of God from His work and words and recognized the Lord as the Messiah they were awaiting. They came out from the law and accepted the Lord’s work, submitting to and abiding by His new words. They basked in the peace and joy that came from the Lord. These people were caught up before God. In the last days the Lord Jesus has returned with the name Almighty God and has begun the work of the Age of Kingdom, expressed truths to judge and cleanse mankind, save mankind to fully cast off the bonds and strictures of sin, and bring those who have been cleansed into God’s kingdom where they can enjoy God’s blessings and promises. Right now, true believers from across the world, who long for God’s appearance have recognized God’s voice from reading Almighty God’s words; they’ve seen that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus and have come before God one after another, gaining sustenance and nourishment from God’s words. This is what being caught up truly is! On the other hand, those who reject Almighty God’s work of the last days and continue to cling to their own notions and imaginings, foolishly waiting for God to come and take them up into heaven, miss out on their chance to be lifted up before God. They will never gain the watering and sustenance of God’s words; their souls will remain parched and in darkness. All of them are foolish virgins and will be cast aside by God. Ultimately, they will inevitably sink into the great disaster, weeping and gnashing their teeth.”
Hearing Almighty God’s words and Brother Jack’s fellowship completely brightened up my heart. I said happily, “So a true ‘rapture’ refers to accepting God’s judgment work of the last days, not being taken up into heaven like we imagine. What I used to think of as being raptured was just my own imagination—it was too supernatural and completely out of line with the reality of God’s work. Now I understand that in order to welcome God and be caught up before His throne I have to be one of the wise virgins and be sure to listen for God’s voice. That’s really the key. Otherwise, I’ll become a foolish virgin and be cast out!”
Smiling, the brothers and sisters said, “Amen!”
After that I read a lot more of Almighty God’s words and saw that they were so full of authority and power, plus they open up all the mysteries of the Bible such as the mysteries behind God’s names, behind His work in the flesh and His three stages of work to save mankind, and so on. All these mysteries of God’s management plan are things that only God Himself could reveal. From His words I was able to determine that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus—I very happily accepted God’s work of the last days.
Since then I have been gathering frequently with brothers and sisters to read Almighty God’s words and share fellowship on our individual experiences and understandings. My soul has been sated, and I really enjoy this kind of church life. I think about all the brothers and sisters out there longing for the Lord’s return, but who lack the work of the Holy Spirit, leaving their spirits thirsty and in darkness, all because they are clinging to religious notions and remaining in their churches and thus living in pain. That’s why I’ve joined other brothers and sisters to share the gospel of God’s salvation for mankind in the last days so that just like me, they can be reunited with the Lord, be caught up before God, and gain His salvation of the last days. Thanks be to God!