When the Lord returns, how can we recognize His voice and welcome Him?
One day, Sister Zhou told me that Sister Wang had invited a preacher to come and preach to us, and I was asked to attend our co-workers’ meeting. I hurried to the meeting place after receiving the message, where Sister Wang introduced us to the preacher, Sister Ma Yan. Once we’d exchanged greetings, Sister Ma spoke of the reasons behind the church’s desolation, integrating some Bible verses into her fellowship. We all thought that she’d fellowshiped very clearly, that her fellowship had come from the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment, and that it had resolved questions that had perplexed us for a long time.
Sister Ma then continued her fellowship, saying, “Brothers and sisters, thewe have longed for for so long has returned. He is Almighty God, Christ of the last days, and Almighty God expresses His words and performs the work of judgment beginning in God’s house upon the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption; this is to save us utterly from the bonds of sin, and to enable us to be purified so that we may enter into the kingdom of heaven. This fulfills the Lord Jesus’ word, ‘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’ (John 16:12–13). ‘And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day’ (John 12:47–48). Almighty God has ended the work of the Age of Grace and begun the work of the Age of Kingdom….”
A senior leader in our church, Sister Li, immediately leapt to her feet and interrupted Sister Ma, saying, “Don’t say another word. False Christs will appear in the last days to deceive people, and we can’t listen to anyone who preaches that the Lord has come!” She then turned to us and said, “Brothers and sisters, the Lord Jesus said, ‘Then if any man shall say to you, See, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect’ (Matthew 24:23–24). We are now in the last days; we have to bear the Lord Jesus’ words in mind and be on our guard against the deceptions of false Christs. We must not listen to anyone who preaches that the Lord has come, or else we will betray the Lord!” Sister Li then moved to see Sister Ma out.
At that moment, Sister Ma said amiably: “Sister, in Revelation 22:12, there’s the prophecy: ‘I come quickly.’ There’s another one in Chapter 14:6: ‘And I saw another angel fly in the middle of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.’ The Lord Jesus prophesied long ago that He would return in the last days, and that He would bring the everlasting gospel to the people of the world. Now that the Lord Jesus has returned, if we do not investigate the true way for fear of being deceived by false Christs, then that’s just cutting of your nose to spite your face. Wouldn’t we then be shutting our doors on the Lord Jesus who has returned in the last days? Would that accord with the Lord’s will?” Hearing her say this stirred my heart, and I thought: “Yes, if we only focus on guarding against false Christs and not on seeking or investigating the Lord’s gospel in the last days, how then will we be able to welcome the Lord’s return?”
Sister Ma went on with her fellowship: “It also prophesies in‘These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes’ (Revelation 14:4). The Lord’s will is that He hopes we will keep watch and await His return, and closely follow the steps of His work. The Lord Jesus has now returned as Christ of the last days, Almighty God, and we are not betraying the Lord by accepting Almighty God’s work of the last days, but rather we are keeping pace with the footsteps of the Lamb. When the Lord Jesus performed His work all those years ago, those who left the temple and accepted the Lord’s salvation were not betraying Jehovah, but rather they were keeping pace with God’s footsteps. Only people like that are wise virgins!”
As I listened to Sister Ma’s fellowship, I thought to myself: “This sister’s fellowship tallies with the Bible. We should follow closely behind the Lamb wherever He may lead us. If Almighty God truly is the Lord Jesus returned, then by accepting Almighty God’s work we would not be betraying the Lord but would be keeping pace with the footsteps of the Lamb. But how can we verify that Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned?”
Just as I was about to ask this question, Sister Li once again suddenly leapt to her feet and said, “Brothers and sisters, you have not believed in the Lord for long and you are all of small stature, so you lack discernment of what you’re hearing. If what you want is a sermon, then I’ll give you one. The Lord has entrusted me with His flock, so I must take responsibility for your lives! Don’t ever listen to another stranger’s sermon!” Sister Li then said fiercely to Sister Ma, “Are you going or not? If not, then I may forget my manners!” Sister Ma wanted to continue to give us fellowship, but Sister Li pushed her out the door.
Sister Li then said to us, “You are not to receive any more strangers. Whoever does so will be expelled from the church! Also, if anyone from The Church of Almighty God comes again to evangelize to you, you must tell me straight away!”
I was not happy with Sister Li’s approach, so I refuted her in no uncertain terms, saying, “Sister Li, the One we place our trust in is the Lord Jesus and the way we hold to is the way of the Lord. So what deception is there to be afraid of? Moreover, you are a senior leader in our church and you’re always saying you have to take responsibility for our lives. Now we’ve heard someone testifying that the Lord has returned, so shouldn’t you be taking the lead in seeking and investigating it? If it so happens that the Lord Jesus really has returned and we don’t seek or investigate it, wouldn’t you then be leading brothers and sisters to shut the door on the Lord?”
Sister Li did not give me a direct response, but instead just said, “This is for your own good. As your stature is small, if I hadn’t driven her out and you ended up being stolen away by Eastern Lightning because you don’t have discernment over what they’re preaching, then wouldn’t your faith just be in vain?”
I really didn’t understand why Sister Li had made Sister Ma leave, and I thought to myself: “The Bible says: ‘Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares’ (Hebrews 13:2). The Bible tells us plainly that we must receive our brothers and sisters with love, and yet Sister Li is saying that we must receive no strangers at all. Doesn’t that go against what it says in the Bible?” I thought carefully about what Sister Ma had preached and I felt that what she had said was very enlightened; her sermon had been really edifying and allowed us to understand truths we had not understood before. Sister Ma, moreover, had acted with godliness; when Sister Li treated her that way, she was still able to fellowship with love, and the way she preached seemed to be from God. Sister Li, on the other hand, was a senior leader in our church, and when she heard Sister Ma testifying to the Lord’s return, not only did she not seek or investigate it, but instead immediately drove her out—her behavior showed that she was completely lacking in humility or an attitude of seeking. She had behaved like a completely different person who had been preaching to us from the podium!
That evening, I lay in bed thinking back over everything that had happened that day. I felt that Sister Ma’s fellowship had tallied with the Bible and the Lord’s words, and I wished to continue investigating it. But then I thought of what Sister Li had said, that in the last days false Christs would appear. If by chance I failed in my discernment and was deceived, and ended up betraying the Lord, then all my faith would be for nothing. But then I thought again that if what Sister Ma was preaching truly was the gospel of the Lord Jesus’ return and I refused to investigate it for fear of being deceived, then wouldn’t I miss my chance to welcome the Lord? I’d believed in the Lord for all those years and had longed for His return every single day. I’d finally heard someone delivering the joyous news of the Lord’s return, so I decided that I must take responsibility for my own life and no longer just blindly do what my leader said. Should I find Sister Ma for further seeking? I didn’t know what to do, so I called on the Lord in my heart and asked Him to show me the way forward. After the prayer, I thought of the Lord’s words: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you” (Luke 11:9). “Yes,” I thought. “The Lord does not will us to close the doors to our hearts and stay guarded. We should pray to the Lord and seek in earnest, and as long as we yearn and seek, then the Lord will enlighten and guide us.” I then kneeled and said a prayer to the Lord: “O Lord! If it really is You who has returned, I ask that You lead me to recognize You and to welcome Your return. Amen!”
After that, I thought of Matthew 15:14: “They be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” The Lord Jesus’ words made me think of when He appeared and performed His work all those years ago. The Pharisees at that time not only clung to their own notions and refused to seek or investigate the Lord Jesus’ way, but they also led the faithful into condemning, resisting and rejecting the Lord Jesus. In the end, they crucified the Lord Jesus upon the cross, and thus suffered God’s damnation and punishment. As a co-worker in my church, now that I had heard someone sharing the news of the Lord’s return, I needed to take the initiative to seek and investigate this way. I knew that I should absolutely not be as the Pharisees who stubbornly clung to their own notions and did not seek or investigate, but instead just rejected the Lord Jesus’ way out of hand. If I did that, I would very likely miss my chance to welcome the Lord, and not only harm myself, but possibly ruin the lives of my brothers and sisters! I could not become someone who resisted God, but I realized that instead, I had to take responsibility for the lives of my brothers and sisters as well as for myself. Thinking through this, my heart suddenly became clear and I decided to go find the sister from The Church of Almighty God and continue seeking and investigating the gospel of the Lord Jesus’ return.