When the Lord returns, how can we recognize His voice and welcome Him?
By Ranjana, India
I am an Indian Christian. In 2007, I began to believe in the Lord because of an illness, and afterward, my condition gradually improved. In order to repay the Lord’s love, I started spreading the gospel to people around me. Several years later, locally, a church was established and I took on various aspects of the church’s ministerial work with our pastor. At that time, the pastor also opened up a drug rehabilitation center and preached the gospel to drug addicts, many of whom believed in the Lord and went to the church. Gradually, the pastor spent much of his time in the drug rehabilitation center and didn’t focus on shepherding the brothers and sisters or resolving their states. Later on, I discovered that the pastor had already been in charge of all the money of the drug rehabilitation center and that he hadn’t kept any accounts, causing brothers and sisters to argue about this and to be suspicious with each other. From then on, our church gradually fell into desolation. The pastor focused only on preaching about donation; his sermons were always the same old staff that lacked illumination, and could not move brothers and sisters; he just read some verses and talked about his own literal interpretations and paid no attention to preaching the Lord’s word, so brothers and sisters couldn’t get sustenance and fewer and fewer of them were coming to gatherings. He had no choice but to invite pastors from other churches to preach sermons, but they too preached on the same old things and spoke of theological theory, and thus many brothers and sisters still did not attend gatherings. Not only that, the pastor participated in political activities and ran for office and even lent the church’s money to the believers to earn interest. As a result, when the church demanded repayment of debts from the believers who failed to pay back the money, they even didn’t go to the church because of their inability to pay debts. Faced with this kind of situation in the church, I prayed and fasted but it was to no avail. Seeing that the church was becoming increasingly desolate, I had no desire to go there. I simply stayed at home where I prayed and read the scriptures by myself. My faith was gradually whittled away and later I began to be busy with my work.
At the end of 2017, I saw that my elder sister attended online gatherings, and although sometimes I heard her fellowshiping with her brothers and sisters, I had no inclination to ask what she had fellowshiped about because I had become so busy with my work. One day, when I saw my elder sister attending a meeting and fellowshiping with her brothers and sisters, I suddenly felt unease and couldn’t help but recall the story of Martha and Mary. I thought to myself, “My sister often quiets before God like Mary did, attend gatherings and readevery day, while I’m caught up in various affairs, busy with doing things instead of paying attention to listening to God’s words like Martha. So how could I gain God’s approval?” Thinking of this made me very upset. I told myself that I could no longer go on like this—I had to attend gatherings.
One day, I asked my elder sister to drive me to the church but she said to me, “Don’t go to the church. There are too many arguments and suspicions between brothers and sisters. Our church has already become desolate and is without the work of the Holy Spirit.” Hearing this, I didn’t agree with her. I felt confused and thought, “Why did my sister tell me not to go to the church? Our church is indeed desolate now, but the closer to this time the more we should keep going to the church. Generally speaking, believers in the Lord always encourage people to go to church, but why did she say that we don’t need to go there after she has had online meetings with several believers? Have they told some message to her?” I couldn’t help remembering some verses, “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. Behold, I have told you before. Why if they shall say to you, Behold, He is in the desert; go not forth: behold, He is in the secret chambers; believe it not” (Matthew 24:24–26). The scriptures said false Christs would appear in the last days to deceive people. My sister hadn’t gone to the church for gatherings, so was she deceived? Thinking this, I felt a little worried about her. But due to her bad temper, I didn’t dare talk with her about that and I planned to secretly observe her in the following days.
After some time, I found that my sister had changed a great deal. In the past, she had no idea how to pray, was uninterested in God’s words, and was preoccupied with her business. But after attending online gatherings, she wasn’t so busy with her business as before but took her belief in God to heart, came to know how to pray and enjoy communicating God’s words, and even discussedwith me. Seeing her changes, my worry melted away. I felt that there must be something different about her meetings, so I thought, “Maybe I should go to listen?” Remembering the scriptures related to the wise virgins and foolish virgins, I began to think: Once I was a church leader, but I was never like my sister, who was so desirous to have meetings and fellowship and who had the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. Although I persisted in reading the Bible, I didn’t gain any enlightenment and illumination. If I continued like this, my spirit would become ever more withered. So, I decided to attend one of my sister’s gatherings.
At the first meeting, a sister fellowshiped about the situation in churches, saying, “Every church is empty and desolate. The conditions of every one of us who believe in the Lord have been deteriorating. The pastors sermonize about nothing but stale truisms and there is no enjoyment in listening to them. After some time, some believers leave the church. Others don’t leave, but they can’t put the Lord’s word into practice in their lives. They fight and squabble amongst themselves, and some of them wrap themselves up with mundane affairs, lusting after wealth and fleshly enjoyment—they live in sin without thinking it is sin. … Nowadays, the extent of people’s corruption is far beyond that of the time of Noah. Also, countries all over the world constantly go to war against each other; disasters are occurring frequently around the world. All kinds of signs remind us that the time of the Lord’s return has already arrived. Sister, what do you think about the Lord’s return?”
After hearing this, I didn’t answer at once but thought to myself, “The Bible says, ‘But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be’ (Matthew 24:37–39). ‘For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows’ (Matthew 24:7–8). Comparing this with reality, I see that our church has become increasingly desolate, that the pastor is obsessed with money, and that the believers argue about money. We are all living in sin. Besides, worldly trends are becoming more and more evil, which causes people to become increasingly promiscuous and corrupt, sick of the truth and uninterested in believing in God. This is as in the days of Noah. Moreover, various disasters, such as wars, earthquakes, and diseases occur frequently and blood moons are now appearing regularly. All this fulfills the prophecies in the Bible. The Lord indeed has returned.”
Seeing that I was not speaking, the sister then asked, “Do you believe the Lord has returned?”
I told her, “Yes, I do.”
She said with a smile, “Today I want to tell you this good news. The, whom we have yearned for, has now returned as the incarnated Almighty God. He expresses the truth, does His work of judgment beginning with God’s family, reveals the mysteries in Revelation and brings us the path of attaining complete salvation …” Hearing this news, I felt both excited and happy. The Lord said, “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). Every one of us who believes in the Lord is waiting for the Lord’s return. Just when we are unable to feel His presence and can’t see any way out of the situation no matter how we pray, the Lord has come. This is our hope! However, I was a little worried because the scriptures said false Christs would appear in the last days to deceive people. So was what the sister said true? But thinking of my elder sister’s changes, I thought it was better to listen more. In order to seek understanding of the question, I decided to attend their meetings and continue to investigate more.
Later, in a meeting, I told a sister about my confusion, “Now we are in the last days, and the prophecies concerning the Lord’s return have basically all now been fulfilled. I believe that God has returned, but the scriptures say that false Christs will appear in the last days to deceive people. You say that Almighty God is theof the Lord Jesus. How can I be sure of this? How should I discern the true Christ from the false?”
The sister listened, then fellowshiped, “Sister, you’ve raised a very good question. In the last days, not only false Christs will appear, but Christ will also come. So if we want to welcome Christ, it is imperative to understand the truth about how to differentiate between the true Christ and false Christs. First, let’s take a look at a passage of God’s words. Almighty God said, ‘To study such a thing is not difficult, but requires each of us to know this truth: He who isshall hold the substance of God, and He who is God’s incarnation shall hold the expression of God. Since God becomes flesh, He shall bring forth the work He must do, and since God becomes flesh, He shall express what He is, and shall be able to bring the truth to man, bestow life upon man, and show man the way. Flesh that does not contain the substance of God is surely not the incarnate God; of this there is no doubt. To investigate whether it is God’s incarnate flesh, man must determine this from the disposition He expresses and the words He speaks. Which is to say, whether or not it is God’s incarnate flesh, and whether or not it is the true way, must be judged from His substance. And so, in determining[a] whether it is the flesh of God incarnate, the key is to pay attention to His substance (His work, His words, His disposition, and many more), rather than external appearance. If man sees only His external appearance, and overlooks His substance, then that shows the ignorance and naivety of man.’
“Almighty God’s words have made it very clear. Christ is the incarnation of God Himself. We can see what God has and is from His work and word. Therefore, if we wish to be sure whether someone is or is not God’s incarnate flesh, the key is to see whether he has the substance of God, whether he can express God’s disposition and bring forth the work God must do. Just like when the Lord Jesus came to carry out work, He appeared to be an ordinary, normal human from the outside, but He had the essence of Christ. He was the embodiment of the Spirit of God. He began the Age of Grace, expressing a disposition of mercy and love, bringing us the way of, and pointing out the path of practice for the new age. He also revealed many signs and wonders, bringing people back from the dead, calming the wind and the waves, curing diseases, casting out demons, and so on. At that time, Peter recognized from the Lord Jesus’ utterances and work that He is God Himself.
“Nowadays, Almighty God has arrived, has concluded the Age of Grace, begun the Age of Kingdom, and is doing the stage of work of judging and purifying mankind on the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption. Although He appears to be an ordinary and normal man from the outside, He is the embodiment of God’s Spirit and His expression is all the truth. He has unveiled the mysteries of God’s 6,000-year management plan as well as the mysteries of the incarnation and the Bible, and so on. He has also told us what genuineis, how to worship God, how to perform the duty of a created being, what a change in disposition is, and so forth. He has shown us a path of practice in the new age and ensures we know how to be free from sin and how to to obtain God’s praise. In God’s words, we see God’s righteous, holy, and inviolable disposition, have true knowledge of our satanic natures, such as being arrogant and conceited, selfish and base and crooked and treacherous, and find the path to rid ourselves of our corrupt dispositions. Almighty God’s work of judgment in the last days precisely fulfills the Lord Jesus’ prophecy, ‘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). Only Christ in the flesh can come to express truths and God’s disposition, and can perform the judgment work of the last days. Through the words and work of Almighty God, we can be sure that Almighty God is God incarnate and that He is the Lord Jesus returned.
“The essence of false Christs, however, is evil and deceitful. They don’t possess the essence of God, cannot do God’s work at all, nor can they express God’s disposition, much less reveal the mysteries of God’s management plan. They can neither end an old age nor begin a new one, and cannot show us the direction of the path in the new age.”
After the sister had finished fellowshiping, my heart felt filled with light and my doubts dispelled. I knew that discerning false Christs involves inspecting whether they possess God’s essence, and whether they can express God’s disposition and express the truth to provide to man. Just when the Lord Jesus became flesh for the first time to work, He expressed His disposition of love and mercy, provided us mankind with the way of repentance, and redeemed us from our sinfulness. Apart from the Lord Jesus, no human being can perform this kind of work. Then I thought of how the Lord Jesus’ disciples recognized through His word and His work that He was Christ, the Messiah. Similarly, if I wanted to verify whether Almighty God is God Himself, I also needed to seek and investigate based on His words and work. The words of Almighty God the sister had read did indeed have authority, I had never heard anything like this, and they seemed to be God’s words. I decided to listen carefully.
Then, the sister went on to fellowship: “There is another aspect to distinguishing between the true Christ and false Christs, that is, God never repeats His work. This is because God is always new and never old. 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). From this we can know that, actually, the Lord Jesus told us two thousand years ago that when He returns in the last days He will no longer show signs and wonders, and that whosoever shows great signs and displays miracles, who proclaims themselves to be the Lord Jesus returned, are undoubtedly false Christs and false prophets. They mainly rely on imitating the Lord Jesus’ signs and wonders to deceive people and make them think that they are the returned Lord Jesus. Let’s read another passage of Almighty God’s words, and you’ll understand more clearly.
“Almighty God says, ‘If, during the present day, there is to emerge a person who is able to display signs and wonders, cast out demons, heal the sick, and perform many miracles, and if this person claims that they are Jesus who has come, then this would be the counterfeit of evil spirits, and their imitation of Jesus. Remember this! God does not repeat the same work. Jesus’ stage of work has already been completed, and God will never again undertake that stage of work. The work of God is irreconcilable with the conceptions of man; for example, the Old Testament foretold the coming of a Messiah, but it turned out that Jesus came, so it would be wrong for another Messiah to come again. Jesus has already come once, and it would be wrong if Jesus were to come again this time. There is one name for every age, and each name is characterized by the age. In the conceptions of man, God must always display signs and wonders, must always heal the sick and cast out demons, and must always be just like Jesus, yet this time God is not like that at all. If, during the last days, God still displayed signs and wonders, and still cast out demons and healed the sick—if He did exactly the same as Jesus—then God would be repeating the same work, and the work of Jesus would have no significance or value. Thus, God carries out one stage of work in every age. Once each stage of His work has been completed, it is soon imitated by evil spirits, and after Satan begins to follow on the heels of God, God changes to a different method. Once God has completed a stage of His work, it is imitated by evil spirits. You must be clear about this.’ God’s words are very clear. God’s work eternally renews itself and moves ever onward, getting higher and more profound with each stage, and without any stage ever being repeated, and every step of His work is based on the needs of corrupt mankind. In the Age of Law, for example, God proclaimed laws and commandments to lead people in their lives on earth. When the Lord Jesus came, however, He did not do the work of the Age of Law again, but instead He performed the work of redemption based on people’s requirements, took on all of humanity’s sins, and thereby redeemed mankind from the bonds of the law. All those who accepted the name of the Lord were forgiven their sins and lived in peace and happiness granted by the Lord. The Lord Jesus’ work of redemption was already accomplished, so if this time God came to repeat the work that the Lord Jesus has already done, then it would have no significance. On the basis of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption, Christ of the last days, Almighty God, has been performing a stage of the work of word that judges and cleanses people, to resolve man’s corrupt disposition and thoroughly save man from sin. But false Christs do not have the essence, authority, or power of God, and they can only trail behind and imitate God’s past work and show some simple signs and wonders to deceive those muddle-headed people without discernment. Those great miracles, however, such as feeding the five thousand with five loaves and two fish, calming the winds and seas with a word, and bringing the dead back to life, are quite simply beyond false Christs’ ability to perform.”
After listening to her, I was thrilled, and said, “Now I understand more clearly that God’s work is ever new and never old, and that God carries out every stage of work according to man’s realistic needs and does not do repeated work. False Christs, on the other hand, lack the truth and they can only imitate the past work of the Lord Jesus and show miracles to deceive people. I never thought that the Lord Jesus had already told us how to discern false Christs. In the past, I didn’t understandwhen reading these verses, and I blindly guarded against false Christs and didn’t take heed to listen to , nor did I dare to seek and investigate the true way, which nearly caused me to miss the opportunity to receive the Lord’s return. Without communicating like this, I really couldn’t have distinguished false Christs, and I would probably be deceived by them when they perform some signs and wonders. Thank God! God’s words are so good and are very clear about how to discern the true Christ from the false. Only God can unveil this mystery.”
Following that, the brothers and sisters from The Church of Almighty God fellowshiped with me about the difference between the wise virgins and the foolish virgins, God’s three stages of work, the mysteries of the incarnation, the significance of God’s work of judgment in the last days, and many other aspects of the truth. This allowed me to understand more and more about God’s work and God’s will. Also, I knew that the reason for the desolation in the churches was caused by religious pastors and elders not following the way of the Lord and thus being detested and rejected by God. It was also because God has come to perform new work, and the Holy Spirit’s work has shifted. Only by accepting Almighty God’s work of judgment in the last days can we receive the Holy Spirit’s work. Almighty God’s utterances are all truths and only God is capable of opening up these mysteries of His work. I became certain that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus, and I gladly followed God’s new work.
After accepting Almighty God’s work, I began frequently reading God’s words, and attending gatherings and fellowshiping with brothers and sisters. I came to understand more and more truths; I started to feel peace and joy within my soul. Whenever there were problems that I didn’t understand, my brothers and sisters patiently solved them one by one. And ordinarily, they often cared for me and fellowshiped about the truth to resolve any difficulties I was having. In all my contact with them, I could feel their sincerity and kindheartedness. When I compared that to how the brothers and sisters from my previous church lived out their lives, I realized that my brothers and sisters in The Church of Almighty God showing compassion and concern for me was a result achieved through the Holy Spirit’s work. Just as the Bible says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22–23). The Church of Almighty God possesses the work of the Holy Spirit, where I feel God’s love and warmth. I thank Almighty God for bringing me back into God’s family.