I Have Been Raptured Before God
By Zhang Yue, Indonesia
At the age of 20, I was baptized and turned to the Lord Jesus. The pastor’s sermons on the Lord Jesus’ love and teachings warmed my heart, and all my brothers and sisters in the church were very helpful to one another, so I really enjoyed attending that church. I would often hear the pastor say, “The Lord Jesus was crucified to redeem us, He resurrected and ascended into heaven to prepare a place for us. Once His preparations are complete, He will come for us and escort us into heaven. For the Lord Jesus promised: ‘I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also’ (John 14:2–3). And again in 1 Thessalonians 4:17: ‘Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.’” The pastor would often say to us: “As long as we place our trust in the Lord, when the Lord comes, He’ll take us up into heaven and we’ll be with Him forever. In heaven, there is no sadness, no sickness, and no tears. There is only joy and peace …” I found hope and support in these verses. I believed that as long as I followed the Lord and endured until the very end, I would certainly be raptured into heaven and enjoy the Lord’s blessings. I was always hoping that the Lord would come soon to rapture me into heaven.
Until one September day in 2017, I met Brother Wang through Facebook. He told me: “The Lord Jesus has already returned as Almighty God to express truth and do the work of judgment and purification in the last days.” When I heard this news, I was really taken aback: The Lord Jesus has already returned? How could that be? The Lord’s promise has not yet come to pass, so how could He have already returned? Before Brother Wang had finished speaking, I broke in, saying: “When the Lord Jesus returns, we will all be raptured up into the clouds to meet the Lord. But we’re all still here on earth, none of us have been raptured, so how could the Lord Jesus have returned?” Brother Wang advised me to seek and investigate Almighty God’s work in the last days. He also said he would fellowship with me if I had any questions. But because what he said was different from my understanding, and also because I was fairly busy with work, I never got back in touch with Brother Wang.
Later on, in November, I was put on a one-month hiatus while my company underwent renovations, and so I suddenly had all this free time. I would often go on Facebook and chat with friends. I noticed that a lot of my friends were posting movies, videos, testimonial articles, music videos and hymns from The Church of Almighty God. I was reminded of how Brother Wang had told me that the Lord Jesus had already returned. So I became curious: Exactly what kind of church is The Church of Almighty God? Why does it seem to be growing so quickly? A familiar adage appeared in my mind: “That which comes from God must flourish!” Could it be that Almighty God truly is the returned Lord Jesus? But then I thought, “We haven’t been raptured yet and God’s promise has yet to be fulfilled. So what exactly is going on?” I felt very confused. Then one day, while I was chatting with my friend Sister Li on Facebook, I asked her: “Have you heard of The Church of Almighty God?” She said she knew about the Church, and that it is the only church to openly testify that the Lord Jesus has already returned and that her cousin had just accepted Almighty God and had taken her twice to listen to sermons. The sermons she’d heard at the Church were so fresh and enlightening, they helped clear up many questions she had about her faith. So she decided to investigate The Church of Almighty God.
When I heard that Sister Li was about to investigate the Church, I became a bit anxious, and hurriedly replied to her: “In 1 Thessalonians 4:17 it says: ‘Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.’ But we’re all still here on earth, we haven’t been caught up, so how could the Lord have already returned? You mustn’t be blinkered and be led astray.” Sister Li said, “We mustn’t be blinkered, but it would also be wrong to blindly reject it without looking into it first. That’s not the Lord’s will! If Almighty God truly is the returned Lord Jesus, and we pass Him by because we refuse to investigate, we’ll really come to regret it. The Lord Jesus said, ‘He that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened’ (Matthew 7:8). As long as we seek with an open mind, we will certainly be rewarded.” I thought what Sister Li said made a lot of sense. Welcoming the Lord has a direct bearing on our entry into the kingdom of heaven and it’s not to be taken lightly.
So, I went on The Church of Almighty God’s website with Sister Li to look into it further. We watched a movie called Rapture in Peril, in which a conversation between three people left a deep impression on me. In that scene, Brother Guo read some prophecies from Revelation: “And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the middle of the seven candlesticks one like to the Son of man” (Revelation 1:12–13). “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation Chapters 2, 3). He said, “These verses show us that when the Lord returns during the last days, He will be incarnated as the Son of man to speak to the churches. The Lord Jesus also said, ‘My sheep hear My voice’ (John 10:27). We should be wise virgins and seek out the voice of God. Wherever the Holy Spirit speaks to the churches, there will be the voice of God, as well as God’s appearance and work. Only after we hear God’s voice, accept His work, and return before God’s throne will we be raptured! I understand that the ‘rapture’ involves hearing God’s voice, accepting the incarnate Son of man, and coming before God. This is the true meaning of the rapture. We won’t be raptured if we don’t accept the Lord’s return. God will forsake us.” Brother Zhou then fellowshiped, “The Lord becomes flesh as the Son of man to do His work on earth in the last days. We are raptured when we accept the incarnated Son of man. We must be wise virgins and seek out the voice of God. Finding the Holy Spirit’s utterances and accepting God means we are truly raptured!” Then Brother Zheng said, “Now we know the true meaning of the rapture. The rapture is when the Lord comes to earth to find us, when we hear His voice and finally return before Him. It has nothing to do with being caught up from a low place to a high place. We believed that the Lord is in heaven and will rapture us into heaven, but this rapture is a figment of our imagination. It simply doesn’t stand!”
When I’d watched to that point in the movie, I became a bit confused, so I asked Sister Li: “This is different from my understanding of rapture. Does this mean I’ve misunderstood the idea of rapture all along? My pastor always described rapture in this way. Rapture just refers to the Lord Jesus raising us up into the air to be with Him upon His return. Could this understanding really be wrong?”
Sister Li replied: “What they’re saying is enlightening. After all, it says in the Bible that only the holy may see the Lord. Still caught in the cycle of sinning and confessing as we are, are we fit to lay eyes upon the Lord? Isn’t our idea of being raptured into the air to meet with the Lord a little too vague? I’ve heard brothers and sisters from The Church of Almighty God say that the Lord Jesus only did the work of redemption, which forgave mankind their sins, but man’s corrupt disposition and sinful nature have yet to be resolved. People still often commit sins and resist God and so they cannot enter His kingdom. To save mankind, God has come in the flesh in the last days. Building on the work of the Lord Jesus, He’s expressing the truth and judging and cleansing man to uproot the cause of man’s sins, so that man can be freed from sin, be saved and enter into God’s kingdom. So I don’t think the rapture is quite as simple as we imagine.”
After hearing Sister Li speak, it also seemed to me that there was some mystery to the idea of the rapture and I too wanted to figure this out. So we reached out to Brother Wang of The Church of Almighty God and told him about our confusion. I said, “1 Thessalonians 4:17 states: ‘Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.’ We saw how in the movie Rapture in Peril, rapture means hearing the Lord’s voice here on earth, and accepting His words and work when He returns. It doesn’t mean what the Bible says, being caught up into the air to meet the Lord. Doesn’t this go against the Bible’s word?”
He said this: “As for the mystery of the rapture, no man can fully comprehend it. Only God knows. We ought to seek the truth based on the Lord’s words and the prophecies in Revelation. Only this is correct. What does it say in the Lord’s prayer? ‘Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven’ (Matthew 6:9–10). The Lord Jesus clearly told us, God’s kingdom will descend upon earth in the last days. It will not be in heaven. God’s will shall be carried out on earth as it is in heaven. Also, in Revelation it says: ‘And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven…. Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God’ (Revelation 21:2–3). ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever’ (Revelation 11:15). These prophecies mention ‘the tabernacle of God is with men,’ ‘the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ,’ and ‘new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven.’ These words prove that God will construct His kingdom on earth in the last days, He will live among men and all the nations of the world will become the kingdom of Christ. If we maintain that according to our belief, God’s kingdom is in heaven and when the Lord returns He will rapture us into heaven, wouldn’t those prophecies come to nothing?”
At this, I thought to myself: “In my years as a Christian, I’ve always prayed the Lord’s prayer, that God’s kingdom may come, and that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Revelation clearly states, ‘The tabernacle of God is with men,’ ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ,’ and ‘New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven.’ This all spells it out as clear as day, how didn’t I realize this myself? Why didn’t the pastor or preachers talk about these chapters? The sermons of these people from The Church of Almighty God are so enlightening. They’ve spelled everything out so clearly and plainly, the more I hear the more interested I am.” But I still had some lingering questions, so I asked Brother Wang: “Your discussion of God building His kingdom on earth is fresh and new, and in keeping with the Bible. But the Lord Jesus also promised: ‘I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also’ (John 14:2–3). When the Lord Jesus resurrected and ascended into heaven, He prepared a place for us, so that place should be in heaven. How else could this passage be understood?”
Brother Wang responded with this fellowship: “There is mystery in all of the Lord’s words. We cannot delimit God’s work based upon our own notions and imaginings, for God’s work is unfathomable. Only after God has finished all His work and manifested it before us will we be able to see it clearly. Only after I accepted Almighty God’s work in the last days, and saw the fruits of God’s work did I realize what the Lord preparing a place for us means. It means God becoming flesh in the last days to do His work on earth and also preordaining that we would be born in the last days to accept His work. This fulfills what the Lord Jesus said: ‘That where I am, there you may be also’ (John 14:3). So you can see, the place that the Lord Jesus has prepared for us is on earth, not in heaven.” Hearing this, I realized how ignorant I’d been. The Lord had come to earth in the last days to speak and do His work, yet there I was, still gazing up at the clouds, waiting for the Lord to rapture me up into the air. I’d completely misunderstood! How could I possibly have welcomed the Lord and been raptured?
Brother Wang then read a passage of Almighty God’s words. Almighty God says, “When God and humanity enter into rest together, it means that humanity has been saved and that Satan has been destroyed, that God’s work in humans is entirely complete. God will no longer continue to work in humans, and they will no longer live under Satan’s domain. As such, God will no longer be busy, and humans will no longer be constantly on the move; God and humanity will enter into rest simultaneously. God will return to His original place, and each person will return to their respective place. These are the destinations in which God and humans will reside once God’s entire management is finished. God has God’s destination, and humanity has humanity’s destination. While resting, God will continue to guide all humans in their lives upon earth, and while in His light, they will worship the one true God in heaven. God will no longer live among humanity, nor will humans be able to live with God in His destination. God and humans cannot live within the same realm; rather, both have their own respective manners of living. God is the One who guides all of humanity, and all of humanity is the crystallization of God’s management work. Humans are the ones who are led, and are not of the same essence as God. To ‘rest’ means to return to one’s original place. Therefore, when God enters into rest, it means He has returned to His original place. He will no longer live upon the earth or be among humanity to share in their joy and suffering. When humans enter into rest, it means that they have become true objects of creation; they will worship God from upon the earth, and live normal human lives. People will no longer be disobedient to God or resist Him, and will return to the original life of Adam and Eve. These will be the respective lives and destinations of God and humans after they enter into rest. Satan’s defeat is an inevitable trend in the war between it and God. As such, God’s entering into rest after the completion of His management work and humanity’s complete salvation and entrance into rest have likewise become inevitable trends. Humanity’s place of rest is on earth, and God’s place of rest is in heaven. While humans worship God in rest, they will live upon the earth, and while God leads the rest of humanity in rest, He will lead them from heaven, not from earth” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together).
Brother Wang then said: “It was on earth that, in the beginning, God first made man from dust, and when man was corrupted by Satan, it was on earth that God guided and redeemed mankind through His work. Now, in the last days, God has once again incarnated in flesh, expressing the truth to judge and cleanse man, in order to resolve man’s sinfulness and make a group of overcomers. These overcomers can listen to God’s words, submit to Him, and follow His way. God’s will shall be carried out and Christ’s kingdom shall be realized here on earth, bringing glory to God. When God’s management work for man’s salvation is complete, He will have defeated Satan. Satan’s forces can disrupt the world no longer, all that remains will be the ones God has saved, and man will no longer resist and rebel against God. Mankind will live in peace, there will be no more war, and God and man may enter into rest together. God’s place of rest is in heaven, while man’s ultimate resting place is on earth. God will guide mankind from His place in heaven, and man will worship God on earth, enjoying a heaven-like existence. This is the harmonious and wonderful life that God has prepared for mankind. It is what God will ultimately achieve.”
There was something very practical about what Brother Wang was saying. When Satan is destroyed, the world will be free of dark and evil forces, and the life God has planned for us will be the most wonderful life! My notion of rapture had been so vague. God made man to live on earth, how could man just go up to heaven so easily? If God truly did rapture man up into the air, how would they survive without food or shelter? This idea of meeting the Lord in the air is truly a product of man’s notions and imaginings. It’s such a childish way of thinking. I often used to hear the pastor talk about how God’s kingdom is in heaven, and I really believed it and yearned to be raptured into heaven. I guess the pastor and preachers don’t understand the Bible either! They misinterpret God’s word according to their own notions. They really are misleading people!
Brother Wang continued his fellowship, saying: “As for the true meaning of rapture, let’s see what Almighty God’s words have to say. Almighty God says, ‘“Being caught up” does not mean being taken from a low place to a high place, as people might imagine; that is a huge misconception. “Being caught up” refers to My predestining and then selecting. It is directed at all those I have predestined and chosen. All those who are caught up are people who have gained the status of firstborn sons or sons, or who are God’s people. This is most incompatible with people’s notions. Those who will have a share in My house in the future are all ones who have been caught up before Me. This is absolutely true, never-changing, and irrefutable. It is a counterattack against Satan. Anyone I predestined shall be caught up before Me’” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 104). Brother Wang fellowshiped, saying: “Rapture is not as we imagine. It doesn’t mean being caught up from earth into the clouds to meet with the Lord, and it certainly doesn’t refer to being caught up into heaven. This idea arose through people’s conceptions and literal interpretations of those verses. Being raptured actually refers to welcoming the Lord and being brought before God. It means being able to hear God’s voice, to accept and submit to God’s new work and follow the footsteps of the Lamb when God comes to earth to speak and do His work. Almighty God has come in the flesh to express truth and do the work of judgment and purification. All those that hear God’s voice and follow God’s new work in the last days are raptured before God’s throne. These people are the wise virgins, they are the ‘gold, silver and gems’ the Lord takes back to the house of God. These people are all of good caliber, they can accept and comprehend the truth and they understand God’s voice. They are truly raptured. They accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, gain a real understanding of God and their corrupt dispositions are purified. These people are the overcomers made by God before the great disasters and God will lead them in the end to their wondrous final destination. This is the real meaning of being raptured into heaven. Those who cling to their notions, and wait for the Lord to catch them up, who refuse to accept God’s judgment work in the last days are the foolish virgins. They are cast aside by the Lord and will fall into the disasters, weeping and gnashing their teeth. Just as Almighty God’s words say: ‘Those who are able to stand firm during God’s work of judgment and chastisement during the last days—that is, during the final work of purification—will be the ones who will enter into the final rest alongside God; as such, all those who enter into rest will have broken free of Satan’s influence and been obtained by God after having undergone His final work of purification. These humans, who will have been finally obtained by God, will enter into the final rest. The essential purpose of God’s work of chastisement and judgment is to purify humanity and to prepare them for their ultimate rest; without such cleansing, none of humanity could be classified into different categories according to kind, or enter into rest. This work is humanity’s only path to enter into rest. …When this work ends, those people who are allowed to remain will all be cleansed and enter a higher state of humanity in which they will enjoy a more wonderful second human life upon the earth; in other words, they will commence their human day of rest, and coexist with God. After those who are not allowed to remain have been chastised and judged, their true colors will be entirely exposed, after which they will all be destroyed and, like Satan, will no longer be permitted to survive upon the earth. The humanity of the future will no longer include any of this type of people; such people are not fit to enter the land of the ultimate rest, nor are they fit to join in the day of rest that God and humanity will share, for they are the targets of punishment and are wicked, unrighteous people’” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together). Brother Wang then said: “All people who truly believe in God and yearn for God to appear have accepted Almighty God upon reading His words and hearing His voice and have been caught up before God’s throne. They receive the provision of God’s words and their spirits no longer thirst. They are no longer weak and negative, and no longer live bound by the fetters of sin with no path to walk. Now they live in God’s light. Having accepted the judgment of God’s words, their corrupt dispositions gradually improve, and over time they cast off the bonds of sin and abide in the realm of unfettered freedom. Isn’t this the life of one who has been raptured?”
Brother Wang’s fellowship helped clear up my confusion. Being raptured means hearing the voice of God and returning before God’s throne. I finally understood the true meaning of rapture. These years, I only understood the literal meaning of the Scriptures. Based on my notions, I believed the Lord would come to catch us up to meet with Him. I didn’t focus on listening for God’s voice and almost missed my chance to be raptured. How ignorant I was! Only now have I realized that only those who are raptured before God’s throne, accept the judgment of God’s word, and are purified and transformed are fit to enter God’s kingdom and receive His promises. God’s work is truly wise and meaningful. After seeking and investigating, and by reading Almighty God’s words, I became sure that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus and accepted Almighty God’s work in the last days! I was raptured before God’s throne and attended the feast of the Lamb. Thank God for His salvation!
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