The Mystery of the Lord’s Return
By Li Chunmei, South Korea
I gained faith in the Lord in 2012. I often heard the pastor say in gatherings, “The Bible says, ‘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’ (Acts 1:11). ‘And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory’ (Luke 21:27). The Lord Jesus went up into heaven ascending on a cloud in His spiritual body, so He’ll certainly return in the same way, appearing to us on a cloud. Many biblical prophecies have now been fulfilled—the Lord will soon return. We must believe He will come on a cloud. Any news the Lord has incarnated is fake and we must not believe it, or we’ll be deceived and miss our chance at heaven.” I always kept the pastor’s words in mind. Later, I served in the church. I constantly reminded myself that I had to be a good steward and watch over the Lord’s sheep.
One day in June 2018, two other sisters and I went to read the Bible at Sister Li’s house. Her niece, Sister Jin, was there too, so we all delved into the Scripture together. Sister Jin spoke of these prophecies of the Lord’s return: “For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22). “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). She said the Lord will do the work of judgment when He returns. He will separate the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats, and the good from the evil servants through His work of judgment. Sister Jin’s fellowship was really new and enlightening. It was enjoyable and I gained a lot. As we were wrapping up, Sister Jin said to us, “The Lord Jesus has already returned. He is Almighty God, Christ of the last days. God has become flesh and come to the earth, expressing truths and doing the work of judgment beginning with the house of God….” Hearing her say this immediately took the smile off my face. The Lord Jesus has returned and He’s working in the flesh? How could that be possible? The pastor always said the Lord would return in His spiritual form and any news of His incarnation was fake. I immediately put up my guard with Sister Jin. I didn’t want to hear anything more. As we were leaving, she gave me a copy of The Scroll Opened by the Lamb and sincerely urged me to read it thoroughly. I accepted the book for the sake of appearances.
After getting home I looked at a few pages of the book out of curiosity; I thought these words were authoritative and powerful but I stopped reading as soon as I thought of the pastor’s words. The next day, two sisters invited me to hear Sister Jin’s fellowship, so I shared my concerns. They responded that the Lord’s coming was a major event and that since her fellowship had been enlightening, we should really seek and look into it. They said that was the only way to determine if the Lord really had returned. I figured what they said was reasonable, so I went to Sister Li’s house again.
When I saw Sister Jin, I asked her, “You say the Lord Jesus has become flesh and returned. How do you know? Have you seen God?” She smiled and responded, “The Lord Jesus said, ‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me’ (John 10:27). ‘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). These prophecies are really clear that the Lord will return in the last days and utter words, and God’s sheep will hear His voice and come before Him. To welcome the Lord, we can’t just go by what we see, but we have to listen for God’s voice to recognize and welcome the Lord. Hearing God’s voice is witnessing His appearance. When Job heard Jehovah God speak from the whirlwind, he said ‘I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees You’ (Job 42:5). Job said he’d seen Him, but did he see Jehovah God with his eyes? He just heard Jehovah’s voice from the whirlwind and he knew in his heart that it was God. It was just like seeing God. And when the Lord Jesus came and did His work, Peter, Nathanael, the Samaritan woman, and others could all recognize God’s voice from the Lord’s words and so became sure that He was the Messiah and they began to follow the Lord. If we don’t listen for God’s voice even if we do see Him, if we’re face-to-face, we won’t know Him. It’s just like when the Pharisees saw the Lord Jesus. They didn’t acknowledge Him as the Messiah, but resisted and condemned Him. That’s why we can’t rely on our eyes in the Lord’s appearance. The key is to hear God’s voice and verify it in our hearts. We accept God’s work of the last days from reading Almighty God’s words and seeing that they’re the truth, they’re God’s voice, then we know from our hearts that He is the Lord Jesus returned.” This really resonated with me. But as soon as I thought about what the pastor said, I just couldn’t entirely believe that the Lord had come back in the flesh and said, “I need to look into it first.” That night I was tossing and turning, unable to get to sleep. I kept thinking about Sister Jin’s fellowship and I thought to myself, “Her fellowship really did contain light. I’ve never heard such wonderful fellowship before. What if Almighty God is really the returned Lord Jesus? If I refuse to investigate it, won’t I miss out on the Lord’s coming? But the pastor has told us very clearly that the Lord will return in His spiritual body, and not in the flesh. If I took the wrong path I may bring others to ruin!” At that point I kneeled down to pray to the Lord: “Oh Lord Jesus, I’m really at a loss right now. I have no idea if Almighty God really is Your return. Please enlighten me and give me discernment so I don’t stray from Your way.”
The following day I ran into Brother Wang, who’d been a believer for years and was well-versed in the Bible. He was a devoted seeker. I told him about the Lord’s return. Hearing this, Brother Wang said, “This is the critical time of the Lord’s coming. If we hear someone spread the news that He has returned, we should seek this with an open mind. We can’t just lightly make a judgment. The Lord Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 5:3). Romans 10:17 says, ‘So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.’ We can only know if Almighty God is the Lord returned through seeking and investigation. If the Lord really has returned wouldn’t we miss our chance to be raptured if we don’t?” I felt what Brother Wang said was reasonable, and we should approach the Lord’s coming with reverence for God, not just blindly pass judgment. So, I decided to go look into The Church of Almighty God.
A few days later, Brother Wang and I went to The Church of Almighty God along with a couple of other sisters. I shared my concern: “The fellowship that Sister Jin shared last time was all in line with the Bible and it really contained light, but I just can’t accept your testimony that the Lord has returned in the flesh, because it says in the Bible: ‘And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory’ (Luke 21:27). When the Lord returns, He should appear to us with great glory in His spiritual body. How could He come back in the flesh?”
A brother shared this fellowship: “As for how the Lord appears in the last days, aside from biblical prophecies of Him coming openly on a cloud, there are also a lot of prophecies of Him returning in the flesh, as the Son of man.” I was really surprised to hear this. There were prophecies of the Lord returning in the flesh? How had I never noticed that? Then the brother said, “For example, ‘Be you therefore ready also: for the Son of man comes at an hour when you think not’ (Luke 12:40). ‘For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even to the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be’ (Matthew 24:27). And ‘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). These prophecies mention the Son of man and the coming of the Son of man—by saying the Son of man, that means He is born of man and possesses normal humanity. If He appeared in His spiritual body, He wouldn’t be referred to as the Son of man. For example, Jehovah God was a Spirit and wasn’t called the Son of man. The Lord Jesus in the flesh was the Son of man, He was Christ, and this was because He was the Spirit of God clothed in flesh. He looked very ordinary on the outside, but He was entirely divine and could do God’s own work. And so, when the Lord Jesus mentioned ‘the Son of man comes’ and ‘the coming of the Son of man,’ He was referring to God returning in the last days in the flesh. This verse in particular—‘But first must He suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation’—is a prophecy of what happens when the Lord Jesus returns. It’s not about what the Lord Jesus suffered the first time He became flesh. If the Lord Jesus came down on a cloud with great glory in His spiritual body, it would rock the whole world. Everyone would fall prostrate, trembling. Who would dare oppose Him? He wouldn’t suffer or be rejected by this generation. It’s only when God appears and works in the flesh as the Son of man, when He looks very normal, that people don’t know He is God and they treat Him like a regular person. They oppose and condemn Him based on their notions, and that fulfills what the Bible says: ‘But first must He suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.’ When we’re looking into the Lord’s return if we just go by one or two verses and determine that He’ll come down on a cloud, we’re likely to oppose God and miss our chance at salvation in the last days.”
I couldn’t refute his fellowship. Those verses really did prophesy that the Lord would return as the Son of man, in the flesh. I’d read the Bible so many times—why hadn’t I seen that? I let my guard down a bit but then I thought, “If the Lord comes in the flesh then how would the prophecy that He’d come on a cloud and everyone would see Him be fulfilled?” He then played a video called The Mystery of the Coming of the Son of Man from a movie called The Mystery of Godliness by The Church of Almighty God. Then I understood that the Lord comes in two ways in the last days. One is openly on a cloud, and one is in secret. That’s not contradictory at all. The prophecies are fulfilled as God’s work progresses. In the last days, God first becomes flesh and lives among man in secret expressing truths and doing the work of judging and cleansing mankind. Those who hear God’s voice and accept God’s judgment of the last days are the wise virgins and are brought up before God’s throne. They undergo the judgment and chastisement of God’s words and their corruption is cleansed. God makes them into overcomers before the disasters. After this group of overcomers is made, God’s work in secret will conclude and He’ll rain down disasters to reward good and punish evil. Then He’ll appear openly to all peoples and all nations. Those who accepted God’s judgment and were cleansed are taken into His kingdom while those who refused God’s judgment of the last days and opposed and condemned Christ will succumb to the disasters, weeping and gnashing their teeth. That will fulfill this prophecy: “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).
There was a passage of Almighty God’s words in the movie that really moved me. Almighty God says, “Many people may not care what I say, but I still want to tell every so-called saint who follows Jesus that, when you see Jesus descend from the heaven upon a white cloud with your own eyes, this will be the public appearance of the Sun of righteousness. Perhaps that will be a time of great excitement for you, yet you should know that the time when you witness Jesus descend from the heaven is also the time when you go down to hell to be punished. That will be the time of the end of God’s management plan and it will be when God rewards the good and punishes the wicked. For the judgment of God will have ended before man sees signs, when there is only the expression of truth. Those who accept the truth and do not seek signs, and thus have been purified, shall have returned before the throne of God and entered the Creator’s embrace. Only those who persist in the belief that ‘The Jesus who does not ride upon a white cloud is a false Christ’ shall be subjected to everlasting punishment, for they only believe in the Jesus who exhibits signs, but do not acknowledge the Jesus who proclaims severe judgment and releases the true way of life. And so it can only be that Jesus deals with them when He openly returns upon a white cloud. … The return of Jesus is a great salvation for those who are capable of accepting the truth, but for those who are unable to accept the truth it is a sign of condemnation. You should choose your own path, and should not blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and reject the truth. You should not be an ignorant and arrogant person, but someone who obeys the guidance of the Holy Spirit and longs for and seeks the truth; only in this way will you benefit” (“By the Time You Behold the Spiritual Body of Jesus, God Will Have Made Heaven and Earth Anew” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). These words felt like God warning me. If I clung to the idea of the cloud and didn’t accept God’s work of the last days, once I saw God appear openly, it would be too late. Then I fully let my guard down, but I still didn’t understand why God came in the flesh to save mankind instead of in His spiritual form. I shared my confusion.
The brother read a couple more passages of Almighty God’s words. “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 Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Because the one who is judged is man, man who is of the flesh and has been corrupted, and it is not the spirit of Satan that is judged directly, the work of judgment is therefore not carried out in the spiritual world, but among man. No one is more suitable, and qualified, than God in the flesh for the work of judging the corruption of man’s flesh. If judgment were carried out directly by the Spirit of God, then it would not be all-embracing. Furthermore, such work would be difficult for man to accept, for the Spirit is unable to come face-to-face with man, and because of this, the effects would not be immediate, much less would man be able to behold the unoffendable disposition of God more clearly. … If this work were done by the Spirit of God, then it would not mean victory over Satan. The Spirit is inherently more exalted than mortal beings, and the Spirit of God is inherently holy, and triumphant over the flesh. If the Spirit did this work directly, He would not be able to judge all of man’s disobedience and could not reveal all of man’s unrighteousness. For the work of judgment is also carried out through man’s notions about God, and man has never had any notions about the Spirit, and so the Spirit is incapable of better revealing the unrighteousness of man, much less of completely disclosing such unrighteousness. The incarnate God is the enemy of all those who do not know Him. Through judging man’s notions and opposition to Him, He discloses all the disobedience of mankind. The effects of His work in the flesh are more apparent than those of the work of the Spirit. And so, the judgment of all mankind is not carried out directly by the Spirit but is the work of the incarnate God” (“Corrupt Mankind Is More in Need of the Salvation of the Incarnate God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Then he said, “Whether God works in the Spirit or in the flesh, it is always significant. It’s based on what God needs for His work and how corrupt human beings are. God chooses whichever method will be most beneficial for His work and corrupt mankind. As believers, we’re all deeply aware that even though the Lord Jesus forgave us our sins, the root of our sinfulness and our satanic nature still exist. We often reveal satanic dispositions like arrogance, selfishness, deceitfulness, and greed. We lie and cheat for our own benefit and fight with others over money and status. We just can’t help but sin and resist God. God is holy, so how could filthy people like us be fit to see the Lord and enter His kingdom? In the last days, God incarnate expresses the truth and does the work of judgment to solve mankind’s corrupt nature, and fully cleanse and save us. Only God in the flesh as the Son of man really living amongst us could achieve all of this. He expresses truth at any time based on what we need. He exposes and judges our corrupt dispositions and satanic nature, and directly communicates God’s will to us. This includes who God loves and who He detests, how to be an honest person, how to love and obey God, etc. So we can correctly understand God’s will and requirements. The only way to cast off sin is to undergo the judgment and chastisement of God’s words. Our corruption is then cleansed and we are able to truly love and submit to God. Ultimately we’re saved and can enter God’s kingdom. If God worked directly in the Spirit, His voice would be like thunder. It would frighten everyone and they wouldn’t be able to get close to God. No one would understand His will. People’s notions of God and corruption wouldn’t be exposed and they wouldn’t know themselves or truly repent and change. Also, if God appeared in the Spirit, people would be afraid and no one would have notions or oppose Him. Then good and evil people would all fall before Him, so how could they be differentiated? How could people be sorted according to their kind?”
This brother’s fellowship gave me a sense of how wise and meaningful God incarnating in the last days is. If God appeared and worked in the Spirit, not in the flesh, He couldn’t expose people’s rebelliousness or insincere faith or purify, eliminate, and save people, sorting each according to their kind. After that we watched a lot of videos of the reading of God’s words and gospel movies. After some time seeking and investigating, we determined that Almighty God truly is the returned Lord Jesus. We accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days. We felt so excited and grateful—we couldn’t stop offering our thanks and praise up to God. I thought back to when I didn’t understand God’s work, but just blindly believed the pastor that the Lord would come on a cloud in spiritual form. I was on guard against God’s work of the last days—I was so foolish. Without God using those brothers and sisters to fellowship over and over, I certainly would have missed out on God’s salvation of the last days because of my notions—what a danger! I thank God’s guidance for allowing me to hear God’s voice, welcome the Lord’s return, and follow the footsteps of the Lamb.