After Understanding the True Meaning of Revelation 22:18–19, I Happily Received the Returned Lord
By Yuting, Japan
Hesitating After Hearing the Lord Has Come
After I believed in the Lord, I often heard my pastors say, “Now, we live in the last days. The Lord’s return is imminent, and outside the church many preach false ways, so we must not listen to them. This is because in Revelation 22:18–19 it says, ‘For I testify to every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add to these things, God shall add to him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.’ All of God’s words are in the Bible, and nothing can be added to or taken away from the Bible. If anyone adds to or takes away from whatever is in the Bible, they will be unable to enter the kingdom of heaven. In our belief in God, we only need to read the Bible. We don’t need to go outside the church to hear sermons.” The pastors’ words took root deep in my heart, and I kept their admonishment not to listen to sermons outside the church.
One day in December of 2017, I went with a sister to visit her sick friend’s house, and there I met three brothers and sisters. When we all began talking, I learned that they all believed in the Lord, so we decided to fellowship on the Bible. One of the brothers fellowshiped to us on the relationship between the New Testament, Old Testament, and the Book of Revelation, and also very clearly explained the background and significance of the work of the Age of Law and the Age of Grace. From his fellowship, I understood that God’s work in the Old Testament era was to issue the laws. People at the time lacked common sense about life, and did not know how to worship God, so God used Moses to issue the laws and commandments, and also led early mankind in living upon the earth. In the New Testament era God did the work of redemption. Because people were sinning more and more, and all faced being condemned to death by the law, God came personally as the incarnate Lord Jesus, expressed the way of repentance, taught people to be tolerant, patient, and love their enemies, as well as cured the sick, cast out demons, did many miraculous deeds, and bestowed bountiful grace upon man, after which He was finally crucified and redeemed mankind from sin. If people accepted the Lord Jesus’ grace, they only had to confess their sins and repent, and their sins would be forgiven. The prophecies in the Book of Revelation, meanwhile, describe the work God will do in the last days. I realized that despite believing in the Lord for many years, and often reading the Bible and listening to my pastors’ sermons, I possessed only a shallow understanding of the doctrines in the Bible, and I didn’t understand the intention behind many of the things God did or the relationship between the two stages of work in the Age of Law and the Age of Grace. But, after hearing my brother’s fellowship, my heart felt much less confusion, and I understood truths I hadn’t been able to despite years of believing in the Lord. On our way home, my sister and I discussed what we had gained that day. We both felt there was much light in this brother’s fellowship, and that in all our years of believing in the Lord, we had never heard such practical fellowship.
After that, we went to hear this brother preach several more times. Each time we understood mysteries we hadn’t in the past, and our spirits were provisioned. I enjoyed hearing this brother’s fellowship very much. Once, as a meeting was about to end, he said seriously, “Actually, the Lord Jesus we have longed to see has already returned, and He has uttered over a million words and opened the scroll as prophesied in the Book of Revelation. I came to understand everything I speak about through the new words expressed by God.” When he finished, he took out a book from his backpack and showed it to us, then said, “This book, The Word Appears in the Flesh, is the scroll opened by the Lamb. These are the words spoken by the incarnate God in the last days.” When I heard what he said, it was as if a chime went off in my head. I thought, “God’s new words? Aren’t all God’s words in the Bible? The Bible can’t be added to or taken away from, how can you say God has spoken new words outside the Bible?” Confusion overcame me, and I also felt so deeply conflicted that I couldn’t listen to another word of his fellowship. Before we left, he said we could borrow the book and read it. Politeness dictated that I had no choice but to accept.
When I got home, I put the book on my table. I couldn’t help but remember that my pastors often said all of God’s word was in the Bible, and that nothing could be added to or taken away from the Bible. Anything that went beyond the Bible was heresy and false teaching. But the brother had said this book contained God’s new words. Wasn’t this going beyond the Bible and adding to the Bible? But then I thought, after so many years in the church, I hadn’t heard any light in their sermons, and the spiritual negativity and weakness I felt hadn’t been resolved, yet my brother’s fellowship was clear and sensible. It gave me a great deal of understanding of the background and significance of God’s work, allowed me to understand many truths I hadn’t in the past, and supplied my spirit. I felt that his sermons originated with the Holy Spirit, and since the Book of Revelation prophesied that when God returned, He would open the scroll, was there a possibility that the book my brother had given me truly was the word of the returned God? Should I read it? I was very conflicted, and didn’t know what to do. Helpless, I prayed to God and asked Him to guide me to the correct choice, so that I wouldn’t lose God’s salvation.
Two days later, the sister with whom I had heard the sermons invited us to her house to discuss the Bible, and I knew God had heard my prayer. To seek understanding of the question and receive the Lord’s return, I accepted her invitation.
The True Meaning of “Cannot Be Added to or Taken Away From”
At the meeting, I asked the brother, “Our pastors often speak to us about Revelation 22:18–19, ‘For I testify to every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add to these things, God shall add to him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.’ They tell us that all of God’s word is contained in the Bible, and that the Bible cannot be added to or take away from, yet you testify that the Lord has returned and spoken new words. Isn’t this adding to the Bible? I’d like to hear your understanding about this question.”
When he heard what I said, he smiled and answered, “Many people read these words and believe that all of God’s words are in the Bible, that God has never spoken any words outside the Bible, and that if anyone claims He has, they are adding to the Bible. But often, we don’t consider whether this view accords with the facts. What is the real meaning of ‘cannot be added to or taken away from’ implied in these verses? From the text we know that John was referring to people adding anything to ‘this prophecy.’ He did not mention anything about adding to ‘the Bible.’ Also, when John said these words, there was no New Testament in the Bible, much less were the New and Old Testaments in the Bible. The New Testament was compiled in over 300 AD, and the Lord Jesus inspired John to write the Book of Revelation roughly 90 years after He left. Obviously, what John meant by ‘this book’ was the Book of Revelation, not the entire Bible, and ‘cannot be added to or taken away from’ means that the prophecies in the Book of Revelation cannot be added to or taken away from. But some people don’t understand the true meaning of these verses, instead thinking it means that nothing can be added to the Bible. They also claim that all of God’s word is in the Bible and that God’s words and work don’t exist outside the Bible, so they don’t dare seek the words spoken by the Holy Spirit to the churches outside the Bible or investigate God’s new work, which leads to them failing to follow the footsteps of the Lamb, and leaving God’s salvation in the last days outside the door. These are the results of people’s impure understanding of these verses!” It was only after hearing his fellowship that I finally understood that by “this book,” John was referring the Book of Revelation, not the Bible, and that when John wrote the Book of Revelation, there was no New Testament, much less the Old and New Testaments. Also, by “cannot be added to or taken away from,” he meant that the prophecies in the Book of Revelation could not be added to or taken away from. But we had actually believed this referred to the entire Bible! We were so ignorant!
He continued his fellowship, saying, “We all know that, beyond Revelation, there are many places in the Bible which warn they ‘shall not be added to or taken away from.’ For example, ‘You shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish ought from it, that you may keep the commandments of Jehovah your God which I command you’ (Deuteronomy 4:2). ‘What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: you shall not add thereto, nor diminish from it’ (Deuteronomy 12:32). ‘Add you not to His words, lest He reprove you, and you be found a liar’ (Proverbs 30:6). If we look carefully at these verses, we see that during the Age of Law, in the Old Testament, Jehovah said similar things to mankind, all in regard to God’s commands, which is to say that where the laws, the commandments, God’s teachings, or things God told the prophets are concerned, as long as the words were spoken by God, people are not to add to or take away from them. God is the Creator, His words are the truth, the permanent, unchangeable maxims by which we must live. All created beings must strictly abide by them, and no one may add to, take away from, or falsify God’s words, or they will offend God’s disposition and be cursed by God. So, if we take ‘God’s words shall not be added to or taken away from’ to mean ‘the Bible shall not be added to or taken away from,’ aren’t we falsifying the original meaning of God’s words by adding our own human meaning? To do this offends God’s disposition, and is something that deceives people and leads us to be cursed by God. The essence of the matter is very serious, isn’t it? Moreover, ‘God’s words shall not be added to or taken away from’ is an exhortation that God wants us to adhere to and it serves as a warning to mankind. We mustn’t use these words to place limitations on God, much less use them to determine that God can speak no new words nor perform any new work that is not already in the Bible. If we do that, then we would be offending God’s disposition, for He is the Sovereign of all things and He can express new words according to the needs of mankind at any time.”
I nodded repeatedly as I listened to his fellowship, and thought, “Yes, John clearly stated that the prophecies in the Book of Revelation ‘cannot be added to or taken away from’ because these prophecies were directly revealed to John by God, they are God’s words, yet we have distorted them to mean the entire Bible cannot be added to or taken away from. This absolutely goes against the original meaning of God’s words, and definitely offends God’s disposition!”
Do God’s Words Exist Outside the Bible?
He continued, “The pastors and elders often say all of God’s word is contained in the Bible, and that if any of God’s words exist outside the Bible, this is adding to the Bible, which is heresy and false preaching, does this accord with the facts? Also, the Lord Jesus also prophesied, ‘I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come’ (John 16:12–13). And in Revelation 2:17, He prophesied, ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna….’ The Lord Jesus clearly told us that He has many things yet to say to us, and asked that we wait for the Spirit of truth to come and guide us into all truth. The Book of Revelation also prophesies that the Lord Jesus will return to speak new words, do the work of judgment, and sort each according to his kind, but there are no detailed records regarding how God will do the work of judgment or the work of separating the wheat from the chaff and the goats from the sheep. Only when God comes to do this work will we understand the specific process. These words are to be spoken and this work done in the last days, so how could these words automatically be classified as ‘inside the Bible’? If we don’t seek the voice of the Holy Spirit, and instead delimit God’s words and work outside the Bible by saying ‘the words in the Bible cannot be added to or taken away from,’ doesn’t that mean we condemn God’s utterances in the last days? If we stubbornly keep to these mistaken, fallacious views, and if we don’t actively seek and investigate when others preach God’s work in the last days, listen for God’s voice, or even delimit God’s utterances in the last days, we could very easily lose God’s salvation in the last days.”
Hearing his fellowship was like a sudden awakening for me. “That’s right,” I said, “the Lord Jesus prophesied that He would come again and speak new words. But, the Book of Revelation also only states that the Lord will return to do work in the last days, but not the new words that He will speak. When He returns, the new words He speaks will be entirely outside the Bible. How could we possibly say that ‘all of God’s words are contained in the Bible, and if you say any of God’s words exist outside the Bible you are adding them to the Bible’? That view doesn’t accord with the facts or the Lord’s words! For all these years, I’ve believed the words of the pastors, clung to this viewpoint, never listened to sermons outside the church, and delimited God’s words to what is in the Bible. This is resisting God, and by doing this, I’m nearly certain to lose God’s salvation in the last days!”
After I finished, my brother happily said, “Thanks be to God! That we have this level of understanding is entirely thanks to God’s guidance! Let’s read a few passages of God’s words, and we’ll understand even more clearly. God says, ‘The things that are recorded in the Bible are limited; they cannot represent the work of God in its entirety. The Four Gospels have fewer than one hundred chapters altogether, in which are written a finite number of happenings, such as Jesus cursing the fig tree, Peter’s three denials of the Lord, Jesus appearing to the disciples following His crucifixion and resurrection, teaching about fasting, teaching about prayer, teaching about divorce, the birth and genealogy of Jesus, Jesus’ appointment of the disciples, and so forth. However, man values them as treasures, even comparing the work of today against them. They even believe that all the work Jesus did in His life amounted only to so much, as if God were only capable of doing this much and nothing further. Is this not absurd?’ (‘The Mystery of the Incarnation (1)’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh). ‘After all, which is greater: God or the Bible? Why must God work according to the Bible? Could it be that God has no right to exceed the Bible? Can God not depart from the Bible and do other work? Why did Jesus and His disciples not keep the Sabbath? If He were to keep the Sabbath and practice according to the commandments of the Old Testament, why did Jesus not keep the Sabbath after He came, but instead washed feet, covered head, broke bread, and drank wine? Is this not all absent from the commandments of the Old Testament? If Jesus honored the Old Testament, why did He break with these doctrines? You should know which came first, God or the Bible! Being the Lord of the Sabbath, could He not also be the Lord of the Bible?’ (‘Concerning the Bible (1)’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh). ‘Those who only care about the words of the Bible and are concerned neither with the truth nor with seeking My footsteps—they are against Me, for they limit Me according to the Bible, constrain Me within the Bible, and so are blasphemous in the extreme toward Me. How could such people come before Me? They pay no heed to My deeds, or My will, or the truth, but instead obsess over words—words that kill. How could such people be compatible with Me?’ (‘You Should Seek the Way of Compatibility With Christ’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
We all know that the Bible was written down and compiled by people after God did His work. If God hadn’t worked and spoken, there would be no Bible. This is to say, the Bible is only testimony of God’s words and work in the past, and the scope of God’s work and words recorded in it are very limited. God is the Lord of creation, and He created and rules over all things. He can incarnate as a humble fleshly body, but He is also the Spirit that dwells everywhere. He is the real, living God Himself. All that He has and is, His omnipotence, and His wisdom are unfathomable to man, nor are they things man can delimit, and His words and work are not things the Bible alone can record or contain. In addition, if we use our own meager knowledge of the Bible to delimit God’s words and work, if we limit God to the Bible and disallow Him from working or speaking outside it, isn’t that arrogant, self-righteous, and unreasonable? This is something that offends God’s disposition, and something God loathes. So, we need to let go of our own notions and imaginings, go outside the Bible, and humbly seek and investigate God’s work and words in the last days if we hope to follow the footsteps of the Lamb!”
God’s Utterances in the Last Days Aren’t Addition to Prophecies, But Are the Fulfilment of Prophecies
I nodded and said, “Brother, your fellowship is entirely correct. God is an omnipotent and wise God. How could He have only done the work contained in the Bible? If we delimit God’s words and work, and say that the limit amount of God’s work and words in the Bible are all He does and says, it’s ridiculous!”
He nodded and said, “Thanks be to God! The fact is, God’s work is always progressing, and God has always updated and improved His work based on the needs of mankind. Today, the Lord Jesus has returned as the incarnate Almighty God. He has spoken words that break the seven seals and open the scroll, which brings us the way of truth to attain complete salvation. If we read another passage of God’s word, you’ll understand more clearly.” Then he read, “When you have finished reading this book, when you have experienced each step of the work of God incarnate in the Age of Kingdom, you will feel that desires you have had for many years have finally been realized. You will feel that only now have you truly seen God face to face; only now have you gazed upon His countenance, heard His personal utterances, appreciated the wisdom of His work, and truly sensed how real and almighty He is. You will feel that you have gained many things that people in times past had never seen nor possessed. At this time, you will clearly know what it is to believe in God, and what it is to conform to God’s will. Of course, if you cling to views of the past, and reject or deny the fact of the second incarnation of God, then you will remain empty-handed, acquiring nothing, and ultimately you will be pronounced guilty of opposing God. Those who are able to obey the truth and submit to the work of God shall be claimed under the name of the second incarnate God—the Almighty. They will be able to accept God’s personal guidance, gaining more and higher truths, as well as real life. They shall behold the vision never seen before by people of the past: ‘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, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle. His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; And His feet like to fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shines in its strength’ (Revelation 1:12–16). This vision is the expression of God’s entire disposition, and the expression of His entire disposition is also the expression of the work of God in His present incarnation. In the torrents of chastisements and judgments, the Son of man expresses His inherent disposition by means of utterances, allowing all those who accept His chastisement and judgment to see the true face of the Son of man, which is a faithful depiction of the face of the Son of man seen by John” (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh).
He then fellowshiped, “Almighty God, Christ of the last days, has expressed more than a million words, thus unveiling all the truths and mysteries which mankind has never understood throughout all the ages of the world. These words are truly the utterances of the seven thunders, and they are what the Spirit says to the churches. For example, Almighty God’s words reveal the mystery of God’s six-thousand year management plan, the mystery of the three stages of His work, the mystery of God’s incarnation, the significance of His name, the inside stories and essence of the Bible, and all the other mysteries we still don’t understand. He also reveals how God saves people, how Satan corrupts people, the true fact of mankind’s corruption by Satan, the root of rebelliousness and resistance toward God. He tells us what kind of people God likes and perfects, as well as what kind of people God hates and eliminates, and also points out the paths for life entry, such as how to obey God, how to be honest people, what genuine faith in God is, what full salvation is, and more. Almighty God’s words also describe the beauty of kingdom, tell us how Christ’s kingdom will appear, mankind’s future destination, and much more. Almighty God’s words and work completely fulfill the Lord Jesus’ words and the prophecies in the Book of Revelation. From the work and words of Almighty God, we can be certain that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus, and that only by accepting the work of judging and purifying people with words done by Almighty God can we completely escape the bondage of sin, be purified, and be brought by God into the kingdom of heaven. However those who are false believers and who despise the truth, the people who hear God’s voice, clearly know it is the truth, and yet refuse to accept it, but instead stubbornly cling to their own notions and imaginings, or even judge and delimit God’s words and work out of their own arrogance. Such people are revealed and eliminated by God’s work.”
After hearing Almighty God’s words and my brother’s fellowship, I finally understood that the Lord returning in the last days to express His words and to perform the work of judging and purifying man is not addition to the prophecies in the Book of Revelation, but is rather the fulfillment of those same prophecies. Furthermore, Almighty God’s words reveal many mysteries, and give us paths of practice to gain life entry. It appeared that Almighty God’s words truly are the words spoken to the churches by the Holy Spirit, and that Almighty God is indeed the returned Lord Jesus. The Lord has returned. When I realized this, I felt very excited, and I thanked God for His grace in allowing me to hear His voice. Then, I thought of how I had blindly believed the words of my pastors, refused to investigate or accept God’s new work, and nearly lost God’s salvation. I truly had been ignorant!
After that, I watched a gospel film called Disclose the Mystery About the Bible, and I was very moved, because the protagonist’s notions were the same notions I held in the past—the notions that all of God’s words are in the Bible, that we can’t depart from the Bible in our belief in God, etc. As I read God’s word and fellowshiped further with my brothers and sisters on every aspect of truth about the Bible, I developed a more comprehensive and detailed understanding of it. I learned that the Bible is only a historical record of God’s work, merely a history book, and that it is not the complete compendium of God’s work. I learned that we can’t use the Bible to evaluate and judge God’s words and work in the last days, nor can we use it to delimit or resist God. Instead, we should be wise virgins, listen for God’s voice, and humbly seek and investigate God’s work in the last days. The protagonist in the film clung to her own notions and refused to accept God’s work, until finally she was conquered by God’s words, and then in tears of agony, she repented to God. This showed me that God’s sheep hear His voice, that the authority of God’s word is above all, and that no human notion can stand before God’s word. This made me even more certain that Almighty God’s word is the truth, the way, and the life, and also that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus. I am grateful for Almighty God’s guidance in allowing me to hear God’s voice and follow God’s footsteps. In the future, I plan to pursue the truth and knowledge of God and fulfill the duties of a created being to repay God’s love.