When the Lord returns, how can we recognize His voice and welcome Him?
By Jiang Ping
Introduction: The most regrettable thing in life is to obtain a treasure, only to throw it away. I welcomed the Lord in the last days but because I was bound by my own notions, I passed God’s salvation by and was left wallowing in my regrets. However, thanks to the Lord’s mercy I was able to regain the salvation that I had lost and had the good fortune to meet with the Lord again.
I used to be a preacher. Thehealed my wife’s illness, so I was incredibly motivated to give things up and expend myself to repay His grace. During the first few years of preaching I was blessed with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and everyone could benefit from my sermons. But then starting in 2000 I felt that I no longer had the Lord with me—my sermons became dry and lacking in light, and fewer and fewer people attended. Some younger believers in the church started longing for worldly things and went off to work and earn money, just leaving a few old brothers and sisters who would attend services when they pleased. On top of that, the believers were largely living in a cycle of sinning and confessing. Seeing all of this engendered a deep confusion that I couldn’t put words to—why was the church so desolate? Could it really be that the Lord had cast us aside?
In April 2012, a brother named Zhou came to my house to share God’s work of the last days with me, and when the conversation turned to the desolation of the church, I shared the confusion I had in my heart.
Brother Zhou smiled and said, “As for the issue of the church’s desolation, let’s take a look at the reason that happened in the temple at the end of the Age of Law. Since the people of the time were unable to adhere to the law promulgated by Jehovah God and were sinning more and more, priests were offering inferior sacrifices, and the temple was becoming a marketplace. If things had continued that way everyone would have been condemned to death under the law. God became flesh as the Lord Jesus to meet the needs of humanity at that age and did the work of redemption outside the temple, being nailed to the cross. When the Lord Jesus did this new work, the Holy Spirit no longer worked in the temple as before. That’s why the Pharisees who stayed in the temple and did not keep up with God’s new work lost the work of the Holy Spirit and gained none of God’s sustenance; their souls became hungry and thirsty, they were not disciplined when they sinned, and they became more and more depraved. That was the reason for the desolation of the temple at that time. Likewise, today we are facing desolation in the churches; the reason for this is that God has departed from the churches of the Age of Grace and is doing a new stage of work. It’s only because the churches are lacking the guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit’s work that issues such as preachers having nothing to say in their sermons, jealousy and rivalries occurring between coworkers, believers’ souls going hungry, and believers growing cold in their faith are occurring. That’s why, if we want to gain the work of the Holy Spirit, we must keep up with God’s new work.”
I felt that Brother Zhou’s fellowship was very reasonable, that the church had become desolate because it had lost the Holy Spirit’s work. This was something that I had never realized before! Could it be that the Lord really had departed from us?
He paused for a moment and then told me happily, “I have good news for you. The Lord has already become flesh and returned and has uttered millions of words; He’s doing the work of a new age!”
This was quite shocking for me, and I blurted out, “What basis do you have for saying that the Lord has returned?”
Brother Zhou said, “It is prophesied many times in Revelation: ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Plus the Lord Jesus said, ‘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 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). And 1 Peter 4:17 says, ‘For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.’ We can see from these verses that when God returns He will utter new words and do a stage of the work of judgment beginning with the house of God to thoroughly cleanse us of our corrupt dispositions and bring us into a beautiful destination. As long as we have a heart of seeking and are very careful to listen for God’s utterances, we’ll recognize the voice of God and see that He has already appeared.”
I did acknowledge Brother Zhou’s fellowship about the Lord departing from religious venues and churches lacking the Holy Spirit’s work, which is why churches had become desolate and there was no new light in any sermons. However, I simply could not accept what he said about the Lord having already returned and doing a new stage of work. But I didn’t dare deny it, because I figured if the Lord really had returned and I rejected it without seeking and investigating it, wouldn’t that be a missed opportunity? I felt a bit conflicted, so I didn’t say anything more. As he left, Brother Zhou gave me a copy of a book of, Judgment Begins With the House of God, and told me I should read it carefully.
Serious Investigation Brings Light to My Soul
After he left, I opened up the book and read, “The appearance of God refers to His arrival on earth to do His work in person. With His own identity and disposition, and in the way that is innate to Him, He descends into mankind to conduct the work of initiating an age and ending an age.” “Today, God has new work. You may not accept these words, they may feel odd to you, but I advise you not to reveal your naturalness, for only those who truly hunger and thirst for righteousness before God can obtain the truth, and only those who are truly devout can be enlightened and guided by God. Nothing will come of seeking the truth through quarreling. Only by seeking calmly can we obtain results. When I say that ‘Today, God has new work,’ I am referring to God’s return to flesh. Perhaps you do not mind these words, perhaps you despise them, or perhaps they are of great interest to you. Whatever the case, I hope that all those who truly yearn for the appearance of God can face this fact and give it careful consideration. It is best not to jump to conclusions. This is the way that wise people should act.”
These incisive words spoke to my innermost thoughts; they were gentle and kind, encouraging all true believers who thirst for the truth to take the initiative to seek and investigate God’s new work. This also gave me a direction in my seeking. After reading this I felt that God really had come and was among us, that He had begun a new age and that’s why He was no longer doing work in the old age. No wonder I had lost inspiration in my sermons—it was because the Holy Spirit had departed from religious venues and was doing new work, and that’s why my soul was so hungry and thirsty and why the church was so desolate. The more I read the more my heart brightened; I was also really moved and felt those words couldn’t have come from any human being. It really seemed to be the voice of the Holy Spirit, and I wanted to continue looking into it.
Brother Zhou visited me again a few days later and shared fellowship with me on the three stages of work in God’s 6,000-year management plan, mysteries of the incarnations, and other aspects of the truth. He also read this passage of God’s words to me: “God will accomplish this fact: He will make all people throughout the universe come before Him, and worship the God on earth, and His work in other places will cease, and people will be forced to seek the true way. It will be like Joseph: Everyone came to him for food, and bowed down to him, for he had things to eat. In order to avoid famine people will be forced to seek the true way. The entire religious community is suffering severe famine, and only the God of today is the wellspring of living water, possessed of the ever-flowing wellspring provided for the enjoyment of man, and people will come and depend on Him.”
He then fellowshiped, “God’s words clearly tell us that He has come to earth and is doing new work, and the Holy Spirit’s work in other places has stopped. He is now working in the people who have accepted His new work, and that’s why whatever human means we use to try to reinvigorate the churches, nothing ever comes of it. Plus,is within the issue of the desolation of the churches. This is so that true believers, people who love the truth, will step out of their religious communities and seek the true way. It’s just like when there was a famine across all of Israel and so everyone went to Joseph in Egypt in search of food. And today, Almighty God is the only source of the waters of life, so only by coming before Almighty God and accepting His work of the last days can we gain the sustenance of the living waters. We have seen the religious world grow desolate and believers’ faith become tepid, but The Church of Almighty God is different. In spite of the CCP’s brutal suppression and persecution, the religious world’s slander and condemnation, people’s drive to follow Almighty God and spread the gospel to bear witness to God is just becoming greater and greater. Not only has The Church of Almighty God not collapsed, but more and more people are joining it. This shows that The Church of Almighty God does have the work of the Holy Spirit! And this precisely fulfills what is written in : ‘For if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nothing: But if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it’ (Acts 5:38–39).”
Hearing God’s words and Brother Zhou’s fellowship continued to brighten my heart. I thought about how The Church of Almighty God was the only church bearing witness that the Lord Jesus had returned and it suffered the most severe persecution by the CCP, but surprisingly, it was the church growing the most quickly. Anything that comes from God will certainly thrive; if it hadn’t come from God’s guidance its development would have stagnated long before—The Church of Almighty God truly did have the Holy Spirit’s work! Seeing this reality, my desire to investigate this became greater. Since I didn’t have anything left to preach about I didn’t go to the church to deliver any sermons, but just stayed at home reading God’s words. Brother Zhou also came by frequently to share fellowship with me.