When the Lord returns, how can we recognize His voice and welcome Him?
By Chenwen, South Korea
In the fall of 1987 I accepted the’ grace. At the time, I was totally willing to expend myself for the Lord and looked forward to the day the Lord would return and take me up to heaven. In the blink of an eye, a dozen or so years passed and I’d discovered that my church was becoming more and more desolate, and that wrongdoings were becoming more common. The pastor’s sermons were always the same old stuff, and I felt I was tightly bound by my sins. I couldn’t follow the Lord’s teachings, and I started to doubt that my faith was really capable of gaining me salvation and whether I would be taken to the kingdom of heaven when the Lord returned. So I asked the pastor about this and he found a passage in to encourage me. He said: “‘For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation’ (Romans 10:10), which means when the Lord comes we’ll surely be taken to heaven.” But I couldn’t help remembering another passage in the Bible, “Be you holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16), and so I remained bemused and often suffered because I felt I was living sinfully.
One day I went to a meeting of another church and met a sister there. She was also worried about the way she was trapped in living sinfully, and we had a good chat about it and agreed to call each other sister. Seeing the situation in the church getting worse and worse, we decided to look everywhere to seek out a congregation that had the work of the Holy Spirit. We wanted a way out of our sins. After that, I went to over 20 different church meetings, but I was still left disappointed. At the time, I felt physically and mentally exhausted and could feel my faith growing smaller by the day. Even when I heard there was a congregation that had the work of the Holy Spirit I couldn’t be bothered to go. I decided to devote all my energy to getting on in the material world, and I soon began to notice that my behavior and mindset were not much different from the unbelievers. The agony in my heart made me sometimes cry out to the Lord, “Lord! Where are You? My heart is weak, so I beg You to show me the right direction …”
One day in 2017, at the wedding of my son, I saw the sister who I had once gone to the church meeting with. She told me that the Lord has already returned, but I didn’t believe it. Three days later, my sister came to my house and gave me a small pamphlet which she said contained the words that the Lord has been uttering since His return. Because I hadn’t been able to find a congregation that had the work of the Holy Spirit even after many years of looking, my spirit had become deadened. So when I heard my sister talking about the Lord’s return, it all sounded a bit like a fairy tale. After my sister left I immediately put the pamphlet on the bookcase.
One day when I had nothing to do I suddenly thought of the pamphlet that my sister had brought over and decided to take a look. Its content described how God’s rule and arrangements are in everything, from the macro to the micro. This includes our birth, growing up, independence, marriage, progeny and death. These 6 junctures in life are all ruled over and arranged by God. To me, the words in the pamphlet were full of authority and majesty; they were definitely not words that any human being could utter! I immediately asked my sister to send me another of that type of book. When I got it and read it, I found the content to be even more absorbing. It explained well-known events such as the Lord feeding five thousand with five loaves and two fish, and the Lord eating bread and explaining the scriptures after His resurrection. I was so excited I called my sister straight away to ask her to send more books as soon as possible. My sister told me that there was The Church of Almighty God in Seoul and suggested that I go take a look when I had time. So I set a time and date with her to The Church of Almighty God.
When my sister and I got to The Church of Almighty God the brothers and sisters there received us very warmly. When they found out that I’d been looking everywhere for many years for a congregation that had the work of the Holy Spirit, one of the brothers summarized the reason for the desolation of the temples in the Age of Law and then fellowshiped with me the reasons why the religious community today was also so desolate. He said it was because God is building on the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption to do a stage of His work that involves judgment and cleansing, and the focus of the work of the Holy Spirit has turned to God’s work of the last days. To avoid falling into desolation, the religious community must keep up with God’s work, and only then will they be provided with the living water of life.
After listening to the brother’s fellowshiping, I became extremely excited and couldn’t help shedding a few tears. I’d finally understood why, after going to so many churches and listening to so many pastors giving sermons, I hadn’t been able to find provision for my life. It was because God is doing new work and the work of the Holy Spirit has shifted! I also remembered how my pastor had often talked about the doctrines of “justification by faith alone” and “once saved, always saved,” saying that this guaranteed that when the Lord returned we would be taken by Him to heaven. But that day the brother was saying that to enter the kingdom of heaven we first have to undergo judgment and chastisement. I was a bit confused, but when I remembered how Almightycarry such authority and majesty and that I’d never heard such illuminating fellowshiping anywhere before, I thought carefully for a while and then decided to stay and continue to investigate more. So I sincerely prayed to the Lord in my heart: “Lord! Is Almighty God really Your return? I beg You to give me guidance and give me a heart that knows right from wrong.”
After praying, I asked the brother: “Brother, there is a question that has been troubling me for a long time. All these years I’ve been living sinfully, following worldly trends, and not abiding by the Lord’s teachings, and so I’ve never been sure whether or not I can get into heaven. But the pastors often say that because we believe in the Lord Jesus we are already saved and once saved always saved, so when the Lord returns we will automatically enter the kingdom of heaven with Him. It’s also written in the Bible that, ‘For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation’ (Romans 10:10). What on earth is it all about? For sinners like us, will we be able to enter the kingdom of heaven or not?”
The brother said: “In religious circles, many people believe that the Lord Jesus’ crucifixion was to redeem our sins. So we have justification by faith alone, once we are saved, we are saved forever, and when the Lord returns we’ll be immediately raptured to the kingdom of heaven. But in fact this is all just our notions and imaginings and doesn’t accord with God’s words. The Lord Jesus never said that justification by faith would be enough to get us into the kingdom of heaven. The Bible says, ‘Be you holy; for I am holy’ (1 Peter 1:16). And the Lord Jesus said, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant stays not in the house for ever: but the Son stays ever’ (John 8:34-35). From these verses we can see that to enter the kingdom of heaven we have to rid ourselves of sin and be cleansed. But we still usually live sinfully; we still commit sins in the daytime and confess our sins at night. We are not qualified to enter the kingdom of heaven.”
When I heard this, it was like a bright light was illuminating my heart. I thought: “Yes, regarding entering the kingdom of heaven I really ought to evaluate the situation correctly using the Lord Jesus’ words.”
The brother then fellowshiped the following with me: “What does it mean to be saved? Chapter 2 verse 32 in the Book of Joel says: ‘Whoever shall call on the name of Jehovah shall be delivered.’ Here it mentions ‘delivered.’ We all know that in the Age of Law, Jehovah laid down the commandments and demanded that people give offerings when they sinned. In that era, people gained Jehovah’s protection from perishing in heavenly fire, being crushed by rocks, etc. by praying to Him and abiding by His commandments. Actually, this is what being saved meant in the Age of Law. Toward the end of the Age of Law, people could no longer keep the law and didn’t have enough sin offerings to atone for their sins, so they were in danger of violating the laws and being punished with death. In order to save mankind, the Lord Jesus became flesh and came to earth in the Age of Grace and was nailed to the cross in order to complete the work of redeeming mankind. After that, as long as people confessed their sins and repented they wouldn’t be condemned by the law and could have their sins redeemed. This is the meaning of being saved in the Age of Grace, as is said in Ephesians chapter 2 verse 8: ‘For by grace are you saved through faith.’ But being saved doesn’t mean that we automatically gain admittance to the kingdom of heaven, because our sinful nature has not been eliminated. Let’s read a couple of passages of Almighty God’s words to help clarify this point.
“Almighty God says, ‘At the time Jesus’ work was the redemption of all mankind. The sins of all who believed in Him were forgiven; as long as you believed in Him, He would redeem you; if you believed in Him, you were no longer a sinner, you were relieved of your sins. This is what it meant to be saved, and to be justified by faith. Yet in those who believed, there remained that which was rebellious and opposed God, and which still had to be slowly removed. Salvation did not mean man had been completely gained by Jesus, but that man was no longer of sin, that he had been forgiven his sins: Provided you believed, you would never more be of sin.’
“‘A sinner such as you, who has just been redeemed, and has not been changed, or been perfected by God, can you be after God’s heart? For you, you who are still of your old self, it is true that you were saved by Jesus, and that you are not counted as a sinner because of the salvation of God, but this does not prove that you are not sinful, and are not impure. How can you be saintly if you have not been changed? Within, you are beset by impurity, selfish and mean, yet you still wish to descend with Jesus—you should be so lucky! You have missed a step in your belief in God: You have merely been redeemed, but have not been changed. For you to be after God’s heart, God must personally do the work of changing and cleansing you; if you are only redeemed, you will be incapable of attaining sanctity. In this way you will be unqualified to share in the good blessings of God, for you have missed out a step in God’s work of managing man, which is the key step of changing and perfecting. And so you, a sinner who has just been redeemed, are incapable of directly inheriting God’s inheritance.’”
The brother then fellowshiped this with me: “From God’s words we are able to understand that in the Age of Grace although the Lord Jesus redeemed our sins and no longer looked upon us as sinners, it doesn’t mean that we no longer sin. That’s because our nature to sin is firmly rooted within us. We are dominated by satanic dispositions such as arrogance, cunning, deceit, selfishness, despicability, greed and evil. We are unable to stick to the Lord’s teachings, and usually live bound by sin. We commit sins and resist God. For example, we know that magnanimity, patience, and loving kindness are all God’s requirements, but whenever someone infringes upon our interests or our dignity then we develop prejudices against them. We are no longer so tolerant, patient and forgiving, and sometimes even start to hate that person. We also follow the trends and fashions of the world and, almost unwittingly, seek wealth and reputation and status. We want physical enjoyments and are greedy for sinful pleasures. In order to protect our dignity and status, we are willing to deceive and tell lies whenever necessary. We live sinfully, we are shackled by sin, and this explains why we have not yet been cleansed. So, accepting the Lord Jesus’ redemption just means we’ve been saved but it doesn’t mean that we’ve attained salvation. We still have to accept the judgment and cleansing of God’s work of the last days. We have to rid ourselves of our corrupt satanic disposition, achieve transformation in our life disposition, and then we attain salvation and enter the kingdom of heaven.
“Let’s read some more words of Almighty God. ‘When people leave behind the filthy, corrupt things of Satan, they gain God’s salvation. But if they remain incapable of divesting themselves of filth and corruption, then they will still be under the domain of Satan. People’s conniving, deceitfulness, and crookedness are things of Satan; by saving you, God separates you from these things and God’s work cannot be wrong, and is all in order to save people from darkness. When you have believed to a certain point and can divest yourself of the corruption of the flesh, and are no longer enshackled by this corruption, will you not have been saved? When you live under Satan’s domain you are incapable of manifesting God, you are something filthy, and shall not receive God’s inheritance. Once you have been cleansed and made perfect, you will be holy, and you will be normal, and you will be blessed by God and delightful to God.’
“‘The stage of the last days, in which man is to be conquered, is the last stage in the battle with Satan, and also the work of man’s complete salvation from the domain of Satan. The inner meaning of man’s conquest is the return of the embodiment of Satan, man who has been corrupted by Satan, to the Creator following his conquest, through which he will forsake Satan and completely return to God. In this way, man will have been completely saved.’”
The brother continued fellowshiping with me: “From God’s words we can see that true salvation is gained after we have undergone God’s judgment and cleansing to the extent that our various corrupt satanic dispositions are cleansed and transformed. Satan’s poisons, its rules of survival such as ‘Kingdom of heaven destroys those who are not for themselves,’ ‘Life is just about eating and dressing,’ ‘Money makes the world go round,’ ‘People need face like trees need bark,’ etc. and anything else satanic have to be removed from our hearts and substituted with truths so that we can live by these truths and no longer resist or betray God but truly worship and obey Him. This is what real salvation is.”
After the brother had finished fellowshiping, I felt much clearer in my mind about the difference between being saved and attaining full salvation. 20 years previously I’d had doubts that I could enter the kingdom of heaven because of living sinfully, and now I finally had the answer. With a sigh of relief I said: “So it turns out that the Lord Jesus was doing the work of redemption, and when we pray in the name of the Lord, our sins are forgiven by the Lord. This is what being saved means in the Age of Grace. But being saved is not the same as attaining full salvation. For that, we have to accept God’s judgment and cleansing, rid ourselves of corrupt dispositions, gain the truths as the basis of our lives, and only then will we attain full salvation and enter the kingdom of heaven.”
I then asked: “Brother, please hurry up and tell me how it is that God’s work of judgment and cleansing of the last days leads us to attain salvation?”
The brother read two passages of God’s words for me, “The work done by God during this age is chiefly the provision of the words for the life of man, the disclosure of the substance of the nature of man and the corrupt disposition of man, the elimination of religious conceptions, feudal thinking, outdated thinking, as well as the knowledge and culture of man. This must all be laid bare and cleansed away through the words of God. In the last days, God uses words, and not signs and wonders, to make man perfect. He uses His words to expose man, to judge man, to chastise man, and to make man perfect, so that in the words of God, man comes to see the wisdom and loveliness of God, and comes to understand the disposition of God, so that through the words of God, man beholds the deeds of God.”
“By means of this work of judgment and chastisement, man will fully come to know the filthy and corrupt substance within his own self, and he will be able to change completely and become clean. Only in this way can man become worthy to return before the throne of God. All the work done this day is so that man can be made clean and be changed; through judgment and chastisement by the word, as well as through refinement, man can purge away his corruption and be made pure.”
The brother also fellowshiped this: “From God’s words we understand that Almighty God of the last days has mainly come to utter truths that will judge all of our corrupt satanic dispositions, and through His words reveal and dissect our speech, thoughts, behaviors and every mistaken viewpoint that we hold onto. In our lives, He will arrange all manner of testing situations to refine us and reveal our defects and deficiencies so that we’ll know the essence of our corruption and His righteous disposition. At the same time, through His words of judgment and chastisement, He will tell us all of the truths that we need and show us the way to transforming our dispositions. The more truths we understand, the clearer we’ll understand the reality and substance of our own corruption. When we are capable of hating ourselves then we are capable of betraying all those satanic dispositions and poisons and rules. This way, all of the things in our hearts that belong to Satan will gradually be uprooted and we’ll slowly start to live by the truths and gain cleansing and transformation. After the cleansing of our corrupt dispositions, we can become people who truly obey and love God and only then will we gain full salvation.”
Following the brother’s fellowshiping I understood a little more about God’s work of the last days. I then knew that to gain entry to the kingdom of heaven one has to undergo God’s judgment, chastisement, trials, and refinement in order to thoroughly know one’s own corrupt disposition and be cleansed and transformed. I felt enormously excited by all this, and felt that Almighty God’s work of judgment in the last days was extremely practical.
After a period of regularly attending meetings with the brothers and sisters and reading God’s words I came to completely verify Almighty God’s work of the last days. I’m grateful to God for allowing me to find the road to salvation and entry to the kingdom of heaven while I’m still alive. All the glory be to Almighty God!
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