Regarding the Lord’s Return, to Whom Should One Listen?
By Hanmei, Burma
What’s the key to welcoming the Lord’s coming? The Lord Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice” (John 10:27). “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him” (Matthew 25:6). Revelation prophesied: “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” (Revelation 3:20). “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7). These prophecies show that listening for God’s voice is the key to welcoming the Lord. Hearing the voice of God is the only way. But a lot of believers think that since the clergy know the Bible and expound on it all the time they should be the gatekeepers for something as important as this. So when they hear testimony that the Lord has returned, they don’t look into it and when they see Almighty God’s words are the truth, they still disregard them. Do people like that believe in God, or believe in the clergy? Who should we listen to regarding the Lord’s coming? Should we listen to the voice of God, or our pastors? I never understood this in my faith before, but blindly listened to my pastor and nearly missed my chance to welcome the Lord’s return.
In June 2017, I met Sister Liu and Brother Duan from Germany on Facebook. Through our communication, I saw that they were modest and dependable people with a pure understanding of the Bible and enlightening fellowship. I gained a lot. We had a few gatherings and I learned a lot of truths I’d never understood before, like what true faith and true repentance are, what following and submitting to God is, what following and submitting to people is, the essence and root of the Pharisees resisting the Lord Jesus, how to listen for God’s voice and welcome the Lord, and more. I felt like I gained a lot of sustenance from this and it brightened my heart. I enjoyed these gatherings. In one of them, Brother Duan read a couple of Bible verses: “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). He said that in the last days, the Lord incarnates again as the Son of man to come and work and that this prophecy was fulfilled some time ago. He said, “The Lord has returned as Almighty God incarnate, and He’s expressing truths and doing the work of judgment beginning with God’s house. Almighty God has expressed all truths which purify and save mankind and it’s like a great light shining from the East, and this is the ‘lightning’ from the East.” I was a bit shocked to hear this. I thought, “The Lord Jesus already returned?” Then I remembered what the clergy said, that only Eastern Lightning bears witness that God has returned in the flesh and that we shouldn’t believe it because only the Lord Jesus is Christ. I was really unsettled after that and couldn’t focus on Brother Duan’s fellowship. I thought, “The pastor and elders serve the Lord and know the Bible well. They should know all about something this important, so I’ll go ask them first.”
I went to church and asked the pastor that Sunday, and he said, “There’s value in what believers in Almighty God preach but they testify that the Lord has returned as Almighty God in the flesh. That’s not possible. Only the Lord Jesus was God incarnate, so they believe in a human being. Their church is oppressed by the Chinese Communist government and believing in Eastern Lightning would be a betrayal of the Lord Jesus.” Hearing this sent a wave of fear through me. I figured if that was the case then Sister Liu and Brother Duan must have strayed from the Lord. I started to develop doubts about them and got my guard up and didn’t want to meet with them anymore. But I hesitated when I thought about their testimony that the Lord Jesus has returned. If that were true and I didn’t look into it, wouldn’t the Lord cast me out? But then again, if Almighty God were God incarnate, why wouldn’t the pastor accept that, but say they believe in a person? I figured the pastor knew the Bible and understood more than me so I should stay away from them to avoid going astray. But after I got home I felt really restless and ill-at-ease. I was miserable and felt gloomy. I said a prayer to the Lord: “Oh Lord, I listened to the pastor today and now I’ve begun to doubt Sister Liu and Brother Duan. I’m afraid to look into Eastern Lightning any further. Lord, I’m longing for Your return, but I’m afraid of taking the wrong path and betraying You. I really don’t know what I should do. Please enlighten and guide me so I know right from wrong.”
I gradually gained a sense of peace after my prayer and then something Sister Liu once fellowshiped sprung to mind: “God is paramount in our faith and all things must be based on God’s words, especially for something as important as investigating the true way. If we just listen to other people in everything, we believe in and follow people, then we’ll stray from the Lord’s way.” I started reflecting on myself. When I heard the Lord had returned, I didn’t seek the Lord’s will first or see what the Lord’s words say about it or whether this came from God. Instead I worshiped the pastor and listened to him. That’s not the Lord’s will. In every gathering I’d been in with The Church of Almighty God members, their fellowship was enlightening and in line with the Bible and their explanations of God’s will were clear. I’d understood so many truths I’d never known before from just a few gatherings and I felt I’d become closer to God and that my faith had grown. This was clearly from God and had the Holy Spirit’s work. But I didn’t look at whether the Church had the Holy Spirit’s work or the sustenance of the truth. I just figured the pastor knew the Bible well so I believed him that the Lord hadn’t returned. I was certain The Church of Almighty God had the truth and the Holy Spirit’s work but I still didn’t look into it. Wasn’t that having faith in the pastor? How was that believing in or following God? I thought of when the Lord Jesus appeared and worked. The chief priests, scribes and Pharisees who served God in the temple all knew the Scriptures and the laws inside and out but they didn’t recognize the Lord Jesus as the Messiah. Instead, they madly opposed and condemned Him and had Him crucified. I realized that being well-versed in the Bible isn’t the same as knowing God, and if I blindly listened to the pastor, that would go against God’s will and I might oppose Him! I decided to keep attending gatherings with Sister Liu and Brother Duan and if I determined that Almighty God is the Lord returned, I would accept and follow Him.
In the next gathering I shared my confusions with them. Brother Duan said, “Is there any basis for what your pastor said, that The Church of Almighty God believes in a person? Has he read Almighty God’s words or looked into His work? Isn’t he afraid of resisting God by condemning the Church like this? The Pharisees judged the Lord Jesus to be just a regular person. They didn’t listen to the truths He expressed, but wildly opposed and condemned Him and ended up colluding in His crucifixion, earning God’s punishment. Today’s clergy members don’t look at whether Almighty God’s words are the truth, whether they’re the voice of God, but just deny and condemn Him. Isn’t that the same mistake the Pharisees made? Whether Almighty God really is God incarnate, whether He is the Lord Jesus returned isn’t determined by the religious world’s or the government’s approval. We have to see whether Almighty God’s words are the truth and if He does God’s work. This is the key.” To better explain the incarnation Brother Duan read me a few passages of Almighty God’s words: “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 Essence of the Flesh Inhabited by God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “God become flesh is called Christ, and so the Christ that can give people the truth is called God. There is nothing excessive about this, for He possesses the substance of God, and possesses God’s disposition, and wisdom in His work, that are unattainable by man. Those who call themselves Christ, yet cannot do the work of God, are frauds. Christ is not merely the manifestation of God on earth, but also the particular flesh assumed by God as He carries out and completes His work among man. This flesh cannot be supplanted by just any man, but is a flesh that can adequately bear God’s work on earth, and express the disposition of God, and well represent God, and provide man with life” (“Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “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” (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Brother Duan then shared this fellowship: “God incarnate is God’s Spirit clothed in flesh. He becomes a regular person, speaking and working on earth to save mankind. God incarnate appears very normal, very ordinary. He possesses normal humanity and eats and dresses just like anyone else, and He has normal human emotions. However, His essence is divine. He can express the truth to nourish man at any time and any place. He does God’s own work and He expresses God’s disposition and what God has and is. This is something no created being could do. That’s just like the Lord Jesus, who looked like a regular person, but expressed the truth and brought the way of repentance. He forgave man’s sins and expressed God’s dispositions of mercy and love. He healed the sick, cast out demons, and performed many signs and wonders like feeding the 5,000 with five loaves and two fishes, calming the seas with a single word, raising the dead, and more. He displayed the power and authority of God. He was ultimately nailed to the cross, completing His work of redeeming mankind from sin. We can see from the Lord’s work and words and the dispositions He expressed that He was God incarnate—He was Christ. God has once again become flesh in the last days as Almighty God. Just like the Lord Jesus, He looks like a normal person from the outside. He really lives among mankind and is not supernatural at all, but Almighty God expresses all truths which cleanse and save mankind. He does God’s judgment work of the last days to purify and completely save mankind from sin and lead us into God’s kingdom. Almighty God’s words unlock all the mysteries of God’s management plan to save mankind. That includes the truth of God’s three stages of work in the Ages of Law, Grace, and Kingdom and what they achieve, the mysteries of God’s names and His incarnation, the significance of God’s judgment in the last days, how God ends an age and sorts people according to their kind, different people’s outcomes, how Christ’s kingdom will be realized on earth, and more. Almighty God has also revealed the truth of our corruption by Satan and our God-resisting satanic nature, so we can see our own arrogance, deceitfulness, selfishness, and other satanic dispositions. He has also revealed God’s righteous, unoffendable disposition to us and shown us the specific path to change our dispositions, and much more. Who aside from God could express the truth and reveal the mysteries of God’s management plan? Who else could do judgment work to cleanse and save mankind? Who else could reveal God’s righteous, unoffendable disposition? And who else could determine people’s outcomes? Only God in the flesh can do this kind of practical work for mankind’s salvation. Almighty God’s work and words are all done on the foundation of the Lord’s work of redemption. This is a newer, higher stage of work. This completely fulfills the Lord’s prophecies: ‘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). ‘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 truths expressed by Almighty God, His judgment work, and the dispositions He shows all prove that Almighty God is God in the flesh, He is the Lord Jesus returned. He is Christ of the last days. We can’t go by appearance when determining if He’s Christ. What’s key is whether He expresses the truth, whether He can redeem and save mankind.”
Brother Duan’s fellowship was really uplifting for me. The incarnation is God in heaven clothed in the flesh of a regular person. He looks just like anyone, but He has God’s essence. He can express the truth and do God’s own work. This is something no human being could do. It made me think of this Bible verse: “[T]he things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11). Who else but God incarnate could so clearly explain the mysteries of the incarnation? Without reading Almighty God’s truths, from the outside you could mistake Christ for a regular person, then you might reject and oppose God!
Then Sister Liu shared some fellowship. She said, “Almighty God’s appearance and work totally fulfill the Bible’s prophecies. He is the Lord Jesus returned. A lot of true believers from many denominations have read Almighty God’s words and have seen that they’re the truth and God’s voice, and they’ve turned toward Almighty God. His work and words have rocked the entire religious world. Clergy members have definitely heard about this, so why wouldn’t they look into it and read Almighty God’s words? Why do they insist on resisting it? The Pharisees knew the Lord Jesus healed the sick, cast out demons, preached the way of repentance, and that it came from God, but they consciously denied Him, saying He was a Nazarene, a son of a carpenter. They madly opposed and condemned Him and colluded with the Roman government to have Him crucified. They denied and condemned Christ. They were His enemies. They were antichrists exposed by God’s work. Almighty God has appeared in the last days and now pastors and elders know that He expresses truths to do the work of judgment. Not only do they refuse to investigate it, but they spread rumors to deny and condemn Almighty God. In their churches they spread the CCP’s rumors and lies slandering The Church of Almighty God and they join forces with the atheistic Party to oppose Him. How are they any different from the Pharisees who opposed the Lord Jesus? The Bible says ‘For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist’ (2 John 1:7). ‘And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world’ (1 John 4:3). The clergy deny Christ, condemning Christ of the last days and stubbornly resisting God. Aren’t they antichrists exposed by God’s work in the last days?”
My misgivings were finally cleared up by Sister Liu’s fellowship. I realized the clergy members know nothing about Christ or the incarnation. They believe in the Lord Jesus, but they don’t know His essence at all. The Lord Jesus has returned to work in the flesh, expressing so many truths, but they won’t look into it or even acknowledge Him. They just recklessly condemn and oppose Him. They are enemies of God! I knew I couldn’t follow them anymore but had to accept Almighty God’s work and keep pace with God’s footsteps. I was resolved to follow Almighty God no matter what my pastor might do.
My pastor found out about my faith in Almighty God before long. He immediately flew into a rage, berating me for believing in Almighty God. He said I was believing in a person, that it was wrong, and got my husband to try to change my mind. My husband had no discernment over the pastor’s lies, so he started standing in the way of my faith. It was like he was a different person. He’d blow his top and throw things around whenever he found out I’d been in a gathering and he even neglected our family business trying to force me to give up my faith. That was really painful for me. The pastor’s wife was trying to stop me, too. She’d stay at our house for hours at a time and I couldn’t read God’s words because I had to keep her company. I couldn’t even keep up with housework. It was all really unsettling for me.
The pastor’s actions really made me mad. He wouldn’t look into the Lord Jesus’ return and he tried to deceive me with lies, to keep me from accepting the true way. He even used my husband to get in my way so that I would lose God’s salvation. How despicable! I thought of the Lord Jesus exposing and condemning the Pharisees: “[W]oe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13). I felt like modern-day pastors and elders are just like that. They won’t hear God’s voice and welcome the Lord and they spread lies to hinder those of us who want to welcome the Lord and enter God’s kingdom. They want us to go to hell and be punished with them, to be buried along with them. They’re our stumbling blocks on the path to the kingdom. They’re soul-devouring antichrists and demons! Just as Almighty God says: “There are those who read the Bible in grand churches and recite it all day long, yet not one among them understands the purpose of God’s work. Not one among them is able to know God; still less can any one among them accord with God’s will. They are all worthless, vile people, each standing on high to lecture God. They willfully oppose God even as they carry His banner. Claiming faith in God, still they eat the flesh and drink the blood of man. All such people are devils that devour the soul of man, head demons that deliberately get in the way of those trying to step onto the right path, and stumbling blocks impeding those who seek God. They may appear of ‘sound constitution,’ but how are their followers to know that they are none other than antichrists who lead people to stand against God? How are their followers to know that they are living devils dedicated to the devouring of human souls?” (“All People Who Do Not Know God Are People Who Oppose God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I saw through the pastor’s hypocritical, truth-hating essence and became even more motivated to follow Almighty God. I’d always idolized the pastors, and I never imagined that these people who know the Bible and serve God are actually truth-hating antichrists who block believers’ entry into God’s kingdom. If it hadn’t been for Almighty God appearing and working in the flesh, exposing these evil servants and antichrists hidden in the churches, the pastor would’ve ruined me without me even knowing it. It’s God’s mercy and salvation that I’ve accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days!
After that, I leaned on God and stood witness, and my husband stopped standing in my way. Now I attend gatherings with brothers and sisters and do my duty in the church. I’m filled with peace and joy. Thanks be to Almighty God!