I Relinquish My Notions and Welcome the Lord’s Return
By Renshi, USA
My whole family believes in God. I attended mass with my mom from the time I was a little girl and God bestowed so much grace on us—we were full of gratitude toward Him and we were also longing for the Lord’s return. But I never imagined that when the Lord really did return to work and save us, I wouldn’t recognize His work but would instead rely on my arrogant nature and cling to my old notions, nearly missing out on the Lord’s salvation. Every time I think of this I feel self-reproach but I also rejoice. The Lord Jesus had mercy on me and through my brothers’ and sisters’ patient fellowship on the Lord’s new words I have gained an understanding of His new work, thus becoming able to follow His footsteps. I am grateful for the Lord’s salvation for me that allowed me to catch the very last train for the Age of Kingdom. Now all sorts of scenes of me accepting the Lord are playing in my head….
One day my mom’s church friend, Auntie Li, took several other church friends to our home to share God’s gospel of the last days. I thought they were coming to convert us to Christianity so I wasn’t very receptive to them, but Auntie Li said: “The Lord has already returned; He is Almighty God, Christ of the last days. Almighty God has expressed truths and done the work of judgment beginning with the house of God. The Age of Grace is over and we’re now in the Age of Kingdom. When we sin we no longer need to go to a priest to confess but we can directly read Almighty God’s words and accept their judgment and chastisement, reflect on and know our own corrupt dispositions from His words, and conduct ourselves in accordance with God’s requirements. This way we can gradually be freed from the bonds of sin, be purified, and become people after God’s heart.” Hearing all of this, I was shocked, and I thought to myself: “Almighty God is the appearance of the Lord? But I’ve believed in the Lord all these years and have enjoyed so much of His grace. If I were to accept Almighty God’s new work wouldn’t it be forsaking the Lord Jesus?” I was a little confused. I didn’t express any of that, so after seeing what my attitude was they didn’t say anything further.
After that I saw that my older sister would often go out alone and after coming back, she and my mom would be whispering to each other. Later on both of them started going out together and every time they came home they’d be full of smiles—it looked like they felt much better than before. I was really confounded and figured that they were keeping something from me. After a period of time they told me very seriously that they had accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days and had determined that Almighty God is the appearance of the Lord. They advised me to seriously look into it. Hearing them say this, I had a hard time understanding. I thought: “My mom and sister are such devout believers, how come they both believe in Almighty God now? Isn’t this departing from the way of the Lord and forsaking their Catholic beliefs? They changed with just a few days’ time?” I frowned and didn’t say a word. Seeing I wasn’t saying anything, my sister said: “I understand how you feel. When Auntie Li came and shared the gospel of the last days with us I was also afraid of adopting the wrong faith, but I found that what they were preaching made a lot of sense and was also in line with biblical prophecies. I’ve also seen that disasters throughout the world are getting bigger and bigger. All signs point to the return of the Lord. If Almighty God really is the Lord returned, wouldn’t I lose the grace of His salvation if I refused to accept Him? So, I prayed to the Lord every day: If Almighty God really is the Lord returned, may the Lord enlighten and guide me so that I can follow His footsteps and allow me to run into the sisters who had shared the gospel of Almighty God with me. Wonderfully, they came again to share Almighty God’s gospel of the kingdom with me and I knew that this was the Lord’s design and arrangement, so I began to investigate Almighty God’s work of the last days. They later had me read many of Almighty God’s words. I saw that it all possessed authority and power, that it was all the truth and was God’s voice. Almighty God has told us everything: the purpose of God’s management plan, how God saves people, the root of mankind’s corruption, how human beings should cast off evil and be saved, and our final outcome and destination. Through reading Almighty God’s words, I came to understand many truths and many mysteries of the Bible. My heart really brightened and I determined within my heart that Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned.” After hearing what she had to say the knots in my heart loosened a bit. It turned out she hadn’t just blindly accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days, but had continued seeking the Lord’s leadership and guidance. I then felt a little ashamed and reproachful of myself, thinking that I had never stopped longing for the Lord’s return but when I heard people bear witness that He really had returned, I did not have a humble heart of seeking. How could I gain the Lord’s enlightenment and guidance that way? If Almighty God really was the Lord returned and I didn’t seek and investigate this, wouldn’t I truly miss out on His salvation? When that occurred to me I promised my sister that I was willing to investigate Almighty God’s work of the last days.
Two days later my mom and sister took me to The Church of Almighty God so that I could look into it. Since I was still a bit guarded, when I was listening to people share fellowship I simply could not quiet myself, but since my mom and sister were there for the sake of saving face I had to force myself to “earnestly” listen. During this time I heard a brother with the Church say: “Now most people have felt while attending mass that what the priest talks about is just the same old stuff from the Bible—it’s dry, there’s no new light, and parishioners get no enjoyment out of it. They confess every day but still live in sin they cannot extricate themselves from. Many people have lost their faith and fallen into darkness. We have all seen that the entire religious world has become desolate and lacks the work of the Holy Spirit. This is a widely recognized fact! But do you know the reason for the desolation in religious circles? This is directly related to whether or not we are able to welcome the return of the Lord Jesus. In fact, there are two main reasons for the religious world losing the Holy Spirit’s work and becoming so desolate. One is that because the priests and leaders don’t follow the Lord’s commandments or practice His words, instead only upholding human traditions and focusing on theological discussions and biblical knowledge. They use this to show themselves off and bear witness to themselves so that others admire them. They don’t remotely bear witness to or elevate the Lord, nor do they lead others to practice and experience the Lord’s word so that people may achieve understanding of the truth and know the Lord. They have completely veered off the Lord’s path, which is why they have been abandoned and eliminated by Him. This is the primary reason for the desolation in religious circles. Another reason is because the Lord Jesus has returned—He is Almighty God in the flesh, and He has done the work of judgment beginning with the house of God on the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption, expressing truths to judge and purify all those who have accepted His work of the last days. Accordingly, the Holy Spirit’s work has shifted to God’s work of judgment in the last days. Those who accept this work are able to gain the work of the Holy Spirit as well as the sustenance and watering of the living waters. However, those who are stuck in the religious sphere and refuse to accept God’s work of the last days have lost the Holy Spirit’s work and fallen into darkness, becoming negative and weak. This fulfills the biblical prophecy: ‘When there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon: and the piece whereupon I rained not, withered’ (Amos 4:7).”
Although I forced myself to “earnestly” listen, I really didn’t take much in from that brother’s fellowship because of my apprehensions. After returning home I continued to go to church to pray, read the Bible, and attend mass, but I was totally unable to settle my heart. The fellowship from that day kept surfacing in my mind. I thought: “That brother’s fellowship made sense and I’ve also felt that the church is lacking the work of the Holy Spirit. Could it be that the Lord really has returned to do new work? But I’ve believed in the Lord all these years and He’s bestowed so much grace upon me. I cannot betray Him!” I was intensely conflicted and I didn’t know if I wanted to continue to investigate Almighty God’s work of the last days or not.
One time I went to attend service and when I got to church, I was dumbfounded. At the time I arrived, in the past mass had always already begun, but that day some of the lights in the church weren’t even on yet and it was really dark inside. There were just a few people scattered here and there and they were just sitting there chatting about secular things. I didn’t see any sign of a priest anywhere. The scene in front of me was really disappointing for me, and I thought: “The church really is becoming more and more desolate! Could it really be just like the brothers and sisters from The Church of Almighty God said, that the Lord has returned and done new work, and those who have not kept up with it have lost the work of the Holy Spirit? Oh, has the Lord’s work really shifted?” After service I went home and stood in front of a portrait of the Lord Jesus and silently prayed: “Oh Lord! Have You really become flesh and done new work? Is Almighty God really Your return? Lord! I implore You to guide me….” After this prayer it felt like the great weight pressing down on me was lifted. I let out a breath, and thought: “Since this church no longer has the Holy Spirit’s work I should seek out a church that does have it! Yes, I do need to continue to look into Almighty God’s work of the last days. If Almighty God really is the Lord Jesus returned I must accept Him!” I felt much more at ease when I thought of that.
After that I continued to look into Almighty God’s work of the last days alongside my mom and my sister. I was surprised to find that when I went to listen to sermons again I was able to quiet my heart. I then spoke out about the confusion within myself: “When I heard your fellowship before about the reason for the desolation in the churches I was in complete agreement. They really are desolate and are lacking the work of the Holy Spirit. But I still have reservations—I’ve believed in the Lord all these years and have enjoyed so much of His grace. If I stray from the Lord Jesus and believe in Almighty God, wouldn’t that be betraying the Lord Jesus? Could you address this topic?”
Hearing my question, Sister Liu smiled and said: “Sister, this is a really important question that you’ve brought up. Having that concern mainly stems from a lack of understanding of God’s work. It’s just like the end of the Age of Law when God became flesh as the Lord Jesus and then completed the work of the Age of Grace on the foundation of the Age of Law. Those who heard His word, recognized that it was God’s voice and accepted His work were all those who were keeping pace with the Lord. Just like Peter, John, and the Samaritan woman, they heard the Lord Jesus’ message and realized that He was the Messiah. They followed God’s steps and enjoyed the watering and sustenance of God’s words, gaining the work of the Holy Spirit. Not only did they not betray Jehovah, but they followed God’s footsteps; that was the only way they could be faithful to Jehovah God. But those, such as the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees, who clung to the law and refused to accept the Lord Jesus’ words and work not only failed to gain Jehovah God’s praise, but actually became people who resisted God and were eliminated through His work. Just the same, according to His management plan and in accordance with mankind’s needs, the Lord of the last days has done the stage of work of judgment and purification on the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work. Accepting Almighty God’s work of the last days is not betraying the Lord Jesus, but is following God’s footsteps. It’s upholding the way of God and devoutly following Him. This fulfills the prophecy in the Book of Revelation: ‘These follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth’ (Revelation 14:4). We’ll understand this better after reading a few passages from Almighty God’s words. He said:‘The work of managing mankind is divided into three stages, which means that the work of saving mankind is divided into three stages. These three stages do not include the work of creating the world, but are rather the three stages of the work of the Age of Law, the Age of Grace, and the Age of Kingdom’ (“Knowing the Three Stages of God’s Work Is the Path to Knowing God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). ‘From the work of Jehovah to that of Jesus, and from the work of Jesus to that of this current stage, these three stages cover in a continuous thread the entire gamut of God’s management, and they are all the work of one Spirit. Since the creation of the world, God has always been at work managing mankind. He is the Beginning and the End, He is the First and the Last, and He is the One who begins an age and the One who brings the age to an end. The three stages of work, in different ages and different locations, are unmistakably the work of one Spirit. All those who separate these three stages stand in opposition to God’ (“The Vision of God’s Work (3) ” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). ‘The work of today has pushed forward the work of the Age of Grace; that is, the work under the entire six-thousand-year management plan has moved forward. Though the Age of Grace has ended, there has been progress in God’s work. Why do I say time and again that this stage of work builds upon the Age of Grace and the Age of Law? Because the work of this day is a continuation of the work done in the Age of Grace, and an advance over that done in the Age of Law. The three stages are tightly interconnected, with each link in the chain closely tied to the next. Why do I also say that this stage of work builds on that done by Jesus? Supposing that this stage did not build on the work done by Jesus, another crucifixion would have to take place in this stage, and the redemptive work of the previous stage would have to be done all over again. This would be meaningless. And so it is not that the work is completely finished, but that the age has moved forward and the level of the work has been raised higher than before. It can be said that this stage of work is built on the foundation of the Age of Law and upon the rock of Jesus’ work. God’s work is built stage by stage, and this stage is not a new beginning. Only the combination of the three stages of work may be deemed the six-thousand-year management plan’ (“The Two Incarnations Complete the Significance of the Incarnation” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).”
“The three stages are tightly interconnected, with each link in the chain closely tied to the next.” “they are all the work of one Spirit.” It was the first time I had heard something so refreshing and I was deeply drawn by it. I thought: “These three stages of work are the Age of Law, the Age of Grace, and the Age of Kingdom; are all three stages done by the Lord? Why does He have three stages of work? How are these three stages completed?” I felt really excited and wanted to understand the mystery within this, so I explained my confusion.
Sister Li opened an image on her computer of the three stages of work and fellowshiped with me: “Almighty God’s words tell us that there are a total of three stages in His work to save mankind. The first was the Age of Law of the Old Testament, the second was the Age of Grace of the New Testament, and the third is the Age of Kingdom as prophesied in the Book of Revelation. These three stages are God’s different work in different ages, and although the ages, the work, God’s name, and the disposition that He expresses are all different, it is all the work of a single Spirit. Each of the three stages closely follows the next stage and each is higher and deeper than the last. Without any given stage, it wouldn’t be possible to entirely save humanity from Satan’s dominion. During the Old Testament Age of Law God worked under the name of Jehovah. The disposition He expressed was that of majesty, wrath, mercy, and curse; He issued the commandments and the law through Moses, and led the lives of recently-created humans on earth so that they knew what was a sin, how they should worship God, and that by observing Jehovah’s laws God’s blessing and grace would follow. Anyone who violated the law would be stoned to death or burned alive. Toward the end of the Age of Law people became more and more corrupt and sinful and were no longer observing the law. They were all facing the danger of being condemned and executed according to the law. God performed a new stage of work in accordance with mankind’s needs, becoming flesh as Jesus to work. He ushered in the Age of Grace, ending the Age of Law. The disposition He expressed was that of love and mercy; He brought the way of repentance, taught people to be tolerant and patient, to love their enemies and forgive others seventy times seven times. He also bestowed rich grace upon people and in the end was crucified in order to save mankind, rescuing us from Satan’s grasp. From then on whenever we sinned we could call out to the Lord Jesus, confess and repent, and our sins would be forgiven, allowing us to enjoy the peace and joy bestowed by God. Although our sins are erased because of the Lord Jesus’ redemption, we still have not escaped our corrupt satanic dispositions so we still frequently sin and have not been gained by God. In order to fully save us from sin, God has once again become flesh and has done the work of judgment beginning with the house of God in the name of Almighty God, expressing millions of words to expose mankind’s corrupt natures, judge our unrighteousness, have us know our own natures through God’s words, clearly see the truth of how deeply we have been corrupted by Satan, know the root of our corruption, and recognize God’s righteous disposition which will tolerate no offense. God’s words also point out a path of practice for us to free ourselves from our satanic dispositions. If we accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, reflect on ourselves and know our satanic dispositions through the revelation of God’s words, and then practice the truth, we will gradually be able to cast off the bonds of sin, our perspectives on things will slowly change, and our life dispositions will transform over time. In the end, we will be able to fear God and shun evil and become people who are in line with God’s will, and finally be brought into a wonderful destination by God. The three stages of work have been done based on God’s management plan as well as humanity’s corruption. Each stage has been built upon the foundation of the last; each stage is higher and deeper than the last. If God had only done one or two stages of work He would not be able to thoroughly save mankind. It is only through doing three stages of work that He can completely save mankind from Satan’s dominion. It is only the three stages of work that are God’s complete work of salvation for mankind. This is why accepting Almighty God’s work of the last days is not forsaking the Lord Jesus but is following the footsteps of the Lamb. Only someone who does this is truly faithful to God.”
After hearing God’s words and that sister’s fellowship my heart brightened considerably. I said happily: “So all three stages of work have been done by one God, but it’s just because they’ve been in different ages that God’s work, His name, and the disposition He expresses have not been the same. God has only done three stages of work in order to thoroughly save us from Satan’s dominion. Almighty God’s work in the Age of Kingdom was built upon the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work. It’s a new step of higher work, and as long as we accept Almighty God’s new work we’ll be able to cast off our sinful nature, achieve purification and be saved by God! This time I understand that believing in Almighty God is not forsaking the Lord Jesus, but it is keeping up with God’s new work and welcoming the Lord.”
Hearing this, Sister Li said happily: “Being able to have this kind of understanding is God’s guidance. Thanks be to the Lord! In the last days, God has incarnated and expressed all truths to purify and save man, unveiling the mysteries of His six-thousand-year management plan to save mankind. He has told us all truths including the goal of His three stages of work to save mankind, mysteries of His incarnation, how Satan has corrupted mankind, how God saves mankind, what mankind’s final destination is, and how we should seek to be saved and enter the kingdom of heaven. Those who love the truth and are able to hear God’s voice can hear from His words that they are the Lord’s voice and return to stand before His throne. By seeking the truth we can achieve purification and be perfected by God. However, those who do not love the truth and refuse to accept Almighty God’s work of judgment in the last days, who still resist and condemn Christ of the last days, can only fall into disaster, weeping and gnashing their teeth; they are exposed and eliminated. It’s through this kind of practical work that God sorts people according to their kind, in the end rewarding good and punishing evil. All of the work in His management plan has been done by God Himself. No man could take that place.”
Brother Yang then read two passages from God’s words: “If you have a clear knowledge of the three stages of work—which is to say, of God’s entire plan of management—and if you can fully correlate the previous two stages of God’s work with the present stage, and see that it is work done by one God, then you will have an incomparably sturdy foundation. The three stages of work were done by one God; this is the greatest vision, and this is the only path to knowing God. The three stages of work could only have been done by God Himself, and no man could do such work on His behalf—this is to say that only God Himself could have done His own work from the beginning until today” (“Knowing the Three Stages of God’s Work Is the Path to Knowing God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Only those who know and appreciate the three stages of work can fully and accurately know God. At the very least, they will not define God as the God of the Israelites, or the Jews, and will not see Him as a God who will be forever nailed to the cross for the sake of man. If one only comes to know God from one stage of His work, then their knowledge is far too small, and amounts to no more than a drop in the ocean. If not, why would many of the religious old guard nail God to the cross alive? Is it not because man confines God within certain parameters?” (“Knowing the Three Stages of God’s Work Is the Path to Knowing God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
The brother said in fellowship: “Knowing the three stages of work is the greatest vision in our faith and it is also our only path for knowing God. If we do not understand God’s three stages of work or we only know God through one stage of His work, believing that He is just the God of redeeming mankind and bestowing grace upon us, or believing that His only name is Jesus, and so forth, we will be likely to delimit God and limit Him within our own notions and imaginings. Just like when the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees of the Jewish faith arrogantly relied upon their own notions and imaginings to delimit the Lord Jesus’ work, believing that if He wasn’t called ‘Messiah’ He couldn’t be God. And they seized upon every chance to resist and judge the Lord Jesus, in the end nailing Him to the cross, committing a most heinous sin and thus being punished by God. This led to the Israelites losing their country for nearly two thousand years. Now many pastors, elders, priests, and leaders across the religious world do not recognize God’s work and rely on their arrogant natures, upholding their own notions and imaginations to resist and condemn Almighty God’s work. Aren’t they making the same mistake that the Pharisees did? If we are unable to recognize the vision of God’s three stages of work we will be prone to following the priests and leaders of the religious world in judging and condemning God’s work, and doing things that are resistant to God. This is extremely serious and will certainly result in losing the chance to be saved by God!”
After hearing God’s words and this brother’s fellowship, I said excitedly: “Now I’ve really understood. It is only God Himself who is able to do the three stages of work to save mankind, and without understanding God’s three stages of work you can only use your own notions and imaginings to delimit and resist God, and then you will be extremely likely to lose the salvation of His return. So hasn’t my faith in God over these years been in vain? Not only could I not gain God’s approval that way but I became someone who believes in Him but still resists Him! It’s frightening to think of it. I must become a humble, obedient person, let go of my own notions and imaginings, and hurry to investigate and accept Almighty God’s work of the last days.” After hearing me say this my mom said with joy: “That’s so right!” My older sister and the other brothers and sisters also happily applauded me.
After that I started to proactively read Almighty God’s words, watch gospel films from The Church of Almighty God’s website, have gatherings with brothers and sisters to read Almighty God’s words, and have fellowship together on our understanding of God’s words. I gradually came to understand many truths I had never grasped in my faith before, such as: mysteries of God in the flesh appearing and doing work, how God does His work of judgment, and the significance of God changing His name. Through attending gatherings and watching gospel films from The Church of Almighty God I no longer doubted God’s new work and felt that my relationship with Him was growing closer and closer. I also felt freer and freer in my heart and determined that Almighty God really is the Lord Jesus returned! Although it hasn’t been long since I accepted Almighty God’s gospel of the kingdom, I feel that in this time I’ve understood more truths than I did in the 20-odd years I believed in God before this. I give thanks to God for His salvation for me!
Editors’ Note: After reading this essay we finally understood the reason today’s churches are all so desolate as well as how we should welcome the Lord’s return. We hope that all faithful brothers and sisters may gain the Holy Spirit’s work and follow the footsteps of God, just as the protagonist has. So how should we watch and wait to welcome the Lord’s return? We would like to recommend a clip from a wonderful film “Waiting”: How Should We Watch and Wait for the Lord’s Second Coming?
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