Can the Lord Jesus Only Return by “Coming With Clouds”? I’ve Found the Answer
By Anick, France
Editor’s Note: In the last days, many Christians hold their heads to the heavens, anticipating the day when the Lord will come with clouds to take them into the kingdom of heaven. However, is the Lord’s returning with clouds the only means by which He can return? If God may only return with clouds, then how should the prophecy of the Lord returning like a thief be fulfilled? We should strive for an accurate understanding of the way in which God returns, and to welcome God. Let’s read on about Anick’s experience.
- Not According With My Notions, I Abandoned Investigation
- After Much Thought, I Decided to Continue Seeking and Investigating
- Just How Will the Lord Come?
- What Is Incarnation in the Flesh?
- Why the Lord Must Incarnate in Flesh When He Returns
Not According With My Notions, I Abandoned Investigation
“Mireille, look at this! It says here that Christ of the last days has appeared!”
“Really?” Mireille asked.
After watching The Church of Almighty God’s movie, Where Is My Home, Mireille and I navigated to The Church of Almighty God’s website and read about how the Lord Jesus had already appeared. This was absolutely unbelievable news! I remembered how it says in chapter 1, verse 11 of the Acts of the Apostles, “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.” In that time, the Lord Jesus left with the clouds, so He will return with the clouds in great glory in the last days. Here it said that the Lord Jesus has already appeared, but we never saw Him come with the clouds! It seemed to me that what they were saying was not in keeping with the Bible. I told Mireille what I was thinking and she agreed with my viewpoint. After that, we went a long time without watching any of The Church of Almighty God’s movies.
After Much Thought, I Decided to Continue Seeking and Investigating
Though I had abandoned my investigation of Almighty God’s work in the last days, I couldn’t get the idea that the Lord had returned out of my head. Mireille and I often conversed on the subject of the Lord’s return. We both had high hopes that we would be able to welcome the Lord’s return within our lifetime. Given that we are already in the last days, that calamities occur with great frequency throughout the world and the prophecies of the Lord’s return have mostly been fulfilled, it stood to reason that the Lord must have returned. Yet despite all that, we still hadn’t witnessed God coming with the clouds. At the present time, only The Church of Almighty God had testified to the Lord Jesus’ return. We had, however, abandoned our investigation because they testified that when the Lord returned, He did not come with the clouds. Were we right to do so? I felt deeply conflicted and so I prayed to God with Mireille, asking that God guide us to make the right choice. Later, it occurred to me that God is the Master of all things, He can do whatever it is that He wants, so how could I delimit God’s work within my own thoughts and notions? What’s more, the Lord Jesus has said, “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him” (Matthew 25:6). The Lord tells us, if we hear that God has returned, we should go and welcome Him. We saw news online saying that God had returned, and yet we didn’t pay heed to or investigate these claims, so how would we know if God had returned? As such, Mireille and I decided to continue watching The Church of Almighty God’s movies and investigating Almighty God’s work in the last days.
Later on, I saw many videos depicting the persecution of The Church of Almighty God Christians by the CCP. I saw how despite being subjected to unimaginably cruel torture, by using prayer, reliance upon God and the faith and power they derived from Almighty God’s word they gained the courage to say that they would rather die than deny or betray God. This was extremely inspirational to me. I saw how the Christians of The Church of Almighty God really had immense faith in God. This was not the kind of faith that paid lip-service, but, rather, was expressed through taking action. I was deeply moved—it seemed to me that if God had not invested them with strength, they never would have been able to withstand the cruel torture of the CCP. I watched even more videos of life experiences and testimonies of The Church of Almighty God Christians. The words of God read in these videos exposed the deepest elements of our hearts and souls, as if Almighty God could see directly into the hearts of men. By reflecting on and understanding themselves through Almighty God’s word, the Christians of The Church of Almighty God achieved some transformation and purification of their corrupt dispositions. This further impressed upon me the feeling that Almighty God’s word has authority and power and really can change people. I was deeply and profoundly shocked to realize this! I thought to myself, if not God, who else could effect change in corrupted men? The more I read, the more I felt that Almighty God’s words could not be uttered by any mere man—they seemed to be the words of God. I felt that Almighty God might very well be the returned Lord Jesus! To understand more of Almighty God’s work, I continued watching The Church of Almighty God’s movies.
One time, I saw a movie called Break the Shackles and Run, in which the main character is unwilling to investigate Almighty God’s work in the last days because he clings to the Bible. Later, after having a few debates and reading Almighty God’s word, he finally comes to know the inside story of the Bible and learns how he should understand scriptures. In the end, he stops clinging to the Bible and accepts the work of Almighty God in the last days. I thought of how I also clung to Bible scriptures, believing that when the Lord returned He would come with clouds and, thus, wouldn’t accept the Lord Jesus that didn’t come with clouds. After watching this film, I thought to myself that I too ought to break free from the fetters of Bible scriptures and seek God’s new work.
Having come to this conclusion, Mireille and I went through The Church of Almighty God website to contact Sister Anna and told her all of our thoughts and confusions. Sister Anna fellowshiped: “Sister, having the desire to seek with relation to the question of welcoming the Lord is a sign of God’s guidance, thanks be to God! The Lord Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 5:3). The Lord rejoices in those that seek the truth with an open mind. As long as we approach seeking and investigating God’s work in the last days with a humble heart, we can attain God’s enlightenment and guidance.” I thought to myself, “Indeed, the Lord’s coming is a major event and so I shouldn’t blindly delimit. If Almighty God really is the returned Lord Jesus and, because I failed to humbly seek and investigate, I miss out on the opportunity to welcome the Lord’s return, will I not regret it for the rest of my life?” Having realized this, my determination to investigate Almighty God’s work in the last days grew even greater.
Just How Will the Lord Come?
By way of Sister Anna’s introduction, we also met up with Brother Pierre and discussed the Lord’s coming with him.
Brother Pierre said, “The Lord Jesus has already returned, having incarnated in the flesh to appear and do work among us. However, there are some who just don’t understand this—they believe that when the Lord returns He will come in clouds and if He doesn’t return in this way then they won’t accept Him. What do you guys think about this?”
I hurriedly replied, “In the Acts of the Apostles chapter 1, verse 11, does it not say that as God went, so shall He return? Given that God left with the clouds, when He returns, He should also come with clouds. The pastors and elders of our church have always said as much and we also believe this.”
Mireille said, “That’s right! The Lord’s coming in clouds is the prophecy of God as spoken through angels, it can’t be wrong!”
Brother Pierre replied, “The prophecy that the Lord will come in clouds will certainly be fulfilled, but we can’t limit the way that God returns to “coming in clouds” only. For, the Lord Jesus prophesied that He would come again in another way.”
“There is another way in which the Lord may return?” Mireille and I both asked with surprise.
Brother Pierre said, “That’s right. Besides the prophecy that God will come with clouds, there are also some prophecies which say that God will come in secret. This is stated in chapter 3, verse 3 of Revelation, ‘If therefore you shall not watch, I will come on you as a thief, and you shall not know what hour I will come on you.’ In chapter 16, verse 15 of Revelation it says, ‘Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.’ And in chapter 13, verse 32 of the Gospel of Mark it says, ‘But of that day and that hour knows no man, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.’ These prophecies speak of how the Lord will return “like a thief.” As soon as we hear the phrase “as a thief,” we must know that means He will return in secret, without the slightest sound and without anyone having any knowledge of His return. The Bible also has many prophecies which speak of “the coming of the Son of man” and “the Son of man will come,” such as in chapter 12, verse 40 of the Gospel of Luke, it says, ‘Be you therefore ready also: for the Son of man comes at an hour when you think not.’ And chapter 17, verses 24–25 say, ‘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.’ The ‘Son of man’ refers to a man who is born of man, and who has a normal humanity. If it referred to the ‘Spirit,’ then it wouldn’t say the ‘Son of man.’ For example, Jehovah is the Spirit, and so can’t be called the ‘Son of man’; angels are spiritual beings, and so can’t be called the ‘Son of man’; all that has the image of man, and yet is a spiritual being, cannot be called the ‘Son of man.’ The incarnated Lord Jesus is called the Son of man, and Christ, because He is the incarnation of the Spirit of God, and He became an ordinary, normal man and lived amongst man. Therefore, the ‘coming of the Son of man’ and ‘the Son of man will come’ that the Lord Jesus spoke of, mean that the Lord will come in the flesh when He returns in the last days. Especially that last line, which says, ‘But first must He suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation,’ this proves even more that when the Lord returns, He will do so in incarnated form. If He doesn’t incarnate in the flesh, but appears in a supernatural, spiritual form, He would strike fear in the hearts of men, they would shudder and be frightened and no one would dare resist or condemn. In this case, He certainly wouldn’t have to suffer many things, much less be rejected by this generation. So, you see, when the Lord comes in the last days in the flesh as the Son of man, He definitely does so in secret, appearing to do His work among men.”
When I heard this, I thought to myself: “This is just unbelievable, I never would have imagined this in my wildest dreams! And yet, Brother Pierre has fellowshiped with reason and proof and all the scriptures that he mentioned were the Lord Jesus’ own prophecies. It is all quite convincing.”
Accordingly, with deep feeling I remarked, “Before, in the many times that I’ve read these scriptures, it never occurred to me that what they were saying is that when the Lord returns He will incarnate in the flesh. This completely contradicted my prior beliefs.”
Mireille said, “That’s right, this fellowship is in line with God’s word!”
With some confusion, I replied, “But, if when God returns, He incarnates in the flesh and comes in secret, then how will the prophecy of God’s coming in clouds as depicted in the Bible be fulfilled? Aren’t these contradictory accounts?”
Brother Pierre chuckled and said, “As for these two kinds of prophecies of the Lord’s return, it would appear on the surface that they are contradictory, but actually they are not. This is because the Lord Jesus returns and appears to do work in stages. First, He incarnates in the flesh as the Son of man and comes among men in secret. Only after this, does He come with the clouds to appear to man openly.”
Mireille and I were very confused by this statement. I asked uncomprehendingly, “First He comes in secret and only after this does He appear to man openly? Brother, would you mind fellowshiping with us in a bit more detail?”
Brother Pierre continued saying, “Alright. Actually, the Bible prophesies that God will gain a group of overcomers in the last days. The assembly of this group of overcomers is directly related to the work that God has come to do in secret. The God of the last days has first incarnated in the flesh and come in secret to utter His words, carry out the work of purification and judgment and perfect a group of overcomers. Later, God will rain down great calamities on the earth and reward the virtuous and punish the wicked. When the calamities have finished, God will come with the clouds, revealing Himself to the people of all nations. In the period when God incarnates in the flesh to do His work in secret, all those that truly believe in God and love the truth will all accept God’s work in the last days when they hear His voice. These people are the wheat, the sheep and the good servants. They have been purified through experiencing the judgment of God’s words and have been made by God into overcomers. As for those who, during God’s period of secret work, don’t seek to hear the voice of God and hold fast to their old notions and conceptions in resisting and condemning God’s incarnation, they are the weeds, the goats and the evil servants. When God comes in clouds and reveals Himself publicly to all, and they realize that the Almighty God they resisted and condemned is in fact the returned Lord Jesus, they will beat their chests and stamp their feet, they’ll weep in sorrow and gnash their teeth. This is complete fulfillment of prophecies such as, ‘And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory’ (Matthew 24:30). ‘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).”
Having heard all this, I suddenly understood and said excitedly, “So, it turns out that the Lord has first returned in secret to make a group of overcomers, and afterward He will rain down calamities upon earth, reward the virtuous and punish the wicked, and cast all the weeds and evil servants who have been exposed into the calamities to bear their punishment. Only then will God come with the clouds in all His glory to reveal Himself to the people of all nations on earth! In this way, it appears that these two kinds of prophecies regarding the Lord’s return are not contradictory.”
Mireille also said excitedly, “Yes, how wise God is to work in this way!”
With some embarrassment, I said, “Oh dear! We’ve believed in the Lord for so many years, read the Bible every day, but we never realized the true meaning of these prophecies. We even clung to the notion that when the Lord returns He must come with the clouds, and, as a result, we nearly missed the opportunity to welcome God’s return. Good thing!”
Mireille nodded her head and said, “That’s right!”
What Is Incarnation in the Flesh?
With some confusion I asked, “Right, Brother Pierre, you have always testified that the Lord has returned in the last days incarnated in the flesh, what exactly do you mean by incarnation? There is not much about this in the Bible, could you fellowship with us on this topic?”
Brother Pierre patiently replied, “Thanks be to God! With regard to this aspect of the truth concerning incarnation, Almighty God’s words provide a clear explanation. Let me read two passages for you all. Almighty God says, ‘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). ‘The Christ with normal humanity is a flesh in which the Spirit is realized, and is possessed of normal humanity, normal sense, and human thought. “Being realized” means God becoming man, the Spirit becoming flesh; to put it more plainly, it is when God Himself inhabits a flesh with normal humanity, and through it expresses His divine work—this is what it means to be realized, or incarnated’ (“The Essence of the Flesh Inhabited by God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“From God’s word, I learned that what is meant by God’s incarnation is that God’s Spirit becomes clothed in flesh; that is, the God of heaven becomes man and descends among man to do His work, speak His words, and save mankind. God’s disposition and what He has and is become realized in the flesh. On the surface, God’s incarnation looks as normal and average as any other fleshly body and has normal humanity, but Christ is the embodiment of God’s Spirit. As such, Christ has complete divinity, can do the work of God Himself, can express God’s disposition and what He has and is, and bestow humanity with the truth, the way and the life. No mortal man is capable of such things. This is just like how the incarnated Lord Jesus had a normal human appearance, but in substance He was the realization of God’s Spirit in flesh. He could issue forth the truth to water and supply people at will, could do the work of God Himself, redeem mankind from their sinfulness, and lead mankind into a new age. Therefore, God’s incarnation is different from any created being, His substance is that of God Himself.”
Having heard this, I excitedly replied, “So incarnation refers to God becoming human and descending among men to do His work and speak His words. This fleshly body has normal humanity and complete divinity. Despite having a normal, average appearance, He can issue forth the truth and do the work of salvation of mankind—this is Christ indeed! Before we would cry out, ‘Jesus Christ,’ but we never knew what was meant by ‘Christ.’ After this fellowship, I finally understand.”
Mireille also exclaimed happily, “That’s right, God’s incarnation really is quite profound and mysterious. If Almighty God hadn’t issued forth the truth and unraveled this mystery, we never would have learned about all of this!”
Why the Lord Must Incarnate in Flesh When He Returns
“So why does God have to incarnate in the flesh in the last days to appear and do His work? What is God’s purpose?” I said, voicing some of my lingering confusion.
Brother Pierre replied, “Sister, this is a crucial question! We all know that God never does anything without a purpose. Whatever kind of work God is doing, He always does so with His best intentions. Let’s have a look at this passage to understand the meaning of God’s coming again to work incarnated in the flesh. God’s word says, ‘God’s saving of man is not done directly using the method of the Spirit and the identity of the Spirit, for His Spirit can neither be touched nor seen by man, neither can man draw near. If He tried to save man directly using the perspective of the Spirit, man would be unable to receive His salvation. If God did not put on the outward form of a created man, there would be no way for man to receive this salvation. For man has no way of approaching Him, much as no one was able to go near the cloud of Jehovah. Only by becoming a created human being, that is, only by putting His word into the body of flesh that He is about to become, can He personally work the word into all who follow Him. Only then can man personally see and hear His word, and moreover enter into possession of His word, and by this means come to be fully saved. If God did not become flesh, no one of flesh and blood would be able to receive such great salvation, nor would a single person be saved. If the Spirit of God worked directly in the midst of mankind, all humanity would be struck down, or else, with no way of coming into touch with God, they would be completely carried away captive by Satan. The first incarnation was to redeem man from sin, to redeem him by means of the fleshly body of Jesus, that is, He saved man from the cross, but the corrupt satanic disposition still remained within man. The second incarnation is no longer to serve as a sin offering but rather to save fully those who were redeemed from sin. This is done so that those who have been forgiven may be delivered from their sins and made fully clean, and by attaining a changed disposition, break free of Satan’s influence of darkness and return before the throne of God. Only in this way can man be fully sanctified’ (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“God’s word is very clear: Though the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption allowed us to be forgiven for our sins, we have been utterly corrupted by Satan and our satanic nature is deeply rooted. As such, we live in an endless cycle of committing and then confessing to our sins and we are incapable of extricating ourselves from this cycle. Though we believe in God, we live in arrogance, selfishness, crafty, avarice and all other manner of satanic corrupt dispositions. In spite of ourselves, we often commit sins and resist God. Though on the surface we abandon things, expend ourselves, suffer and sacrifice, we are really doing this with the expectation of getting something in return from God. We do these things so that we may attain the blessings of the kingdom of heaven and not at all because we are doing God’s will. God is holy—we filthy, corrupt humans are absolutely unqualified to enter God’s kingdom. So, in the last days God has incarnated in the flesh and descended among men once more to thoroughly deliver us from the fetters of sinfulness, interact with us in a practical way, issuing forth the truth and judging and exposing our corrupt disposition and satanic nature. Concurrently, God shows us the path toward dispositional transformation, instructs in how to live out normal humanity, and how to be an honest person in whom God rejoices. In the judgment and chastisement of God’s word, we come to have real understanding of and disgust for the truth of our corruption by Satan as well as our satanic nature. We become willing to repent before God, live and work according to God’s word, and gradually cast off some our corrupt disposition and live with some semblance of humanity. Only the incarnated God could achieve such an effect in His work.
“If God were to do His work in the last days as Jehovah God did, working in the form of the Spirit, He would be unable to achieve the effect of purifying our corrupted dispositions. This is because we humans cannot see or touch God’s Spirit, and when the Spirit speaks to us we are incapable of comprehending Him. What’s more, God’s Spirit is too holy, we corrupt humans cannot draw too near. For example, in the Old Testament, when Jehovah God appeared on Mount Sinai, the Israelis saw how smoke rose up from the mountain’s peak accompanied by thunder, lightning and the noise of the trumpet and so they stayed far away and said to Moses, ‘Speak you with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die’ (Exodus 20:19). Again, there is the story of how when David was leading the Israelis from Baalah of Judah to bring the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem, one of the oxen pulling the cart carrying the ark stumbled, but when Uzzah steadied the ark with his hand he was killed by Jehovah (See 1 Chronicles 13: 9–10). In the last days, mankind has already been deeply corrupted by Satan, so if God were to come do His work in the form of the Spirit, not one of us would survive. We would all be killed by God because of our corruption and filthiness. According to the needs of corrupt man, God has chosen to appear in the form that is most beneficial for man’s salvation in the last days. Incarnating in the flesh to issue forth the truths and judge and purify mankind—this is truly God’s immense love and salvation!”
Having heard all this, tears welled in my eyes and, with great emotion, I said, “Yes! Even though we gained the Lord Jesus’ redemption, we have yet to escape the fetters of sin and live in a constant state of committing and confessing to our sins. If God didn’t come again incarnated in the flesh to do His work and save us, we certainly would not be able to cast off sin and evil and be purified. What’s more, given how filthy and corrupt we are, if God were to appear and do His work in the form of the Spirit in the last days, not only would we be unable to comprehend God’s voice, we would also be killed for offending God with our sinfulness. So it seems the Lord’s coming again incarnated in the flesh to do His work is truly meaningful. This is His love and salvation of us. Thanks be to Almighty God!”
Mireille also said excitedly, “That’s right, the Lord’s coming in the last days incarnated in the flesh to do His work and save mankind is, indeed, very important for us!”
God’s words lit up my heart, and resolved all of my confusion. I also saw how I was a corrupted person who was utterly lacking in truth and that, with regard to the Lord’s return, one must seek with a humble heart. We can’t delimit God’s work with our notions and conceptions, or else we are liable to resist God and miss out on the opportunity to welcome the Lord’s return and receive His salvation in the last days.
Later, I read much more of Almighty God’s word and came to firmly believe that Almighty God’s word is, as Revelation says, “What the Spirit says to the churches.” Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus, thanks be to Almighty God for guiding me back to the house of God! Amen!