How Not to Miss the Salvation of the Lord in the Last Days
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.
The Church Becomes Desolate, No Sermons Left to Preach
I used to be a preacher. The Lord Jesus healed 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?
Discovering the Reason for the Church’s Desolation: The Lord Is Doing New Work
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 God’s words, 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 among mankind to conduct the work of initiating an age and ending an age.” “Today, God has done new work. You may not be able to accept these words, and they may seem odd to you, but I would advise you not to expose 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 Him. Results are obtained by seeking the truth with sober tranquility, not with quarrel and contention. When I say that ‘today, God has done new work,’ I am referring to the matter of God’s returning to the flesh. Perhaps these words do not bother you; perhaps you despise them; or even perhaps they are of great interest to you. Whatever the case, I hope that all those who truly yearn for God to appear can face this fact and give it their careful scrutiny, rather than jump to conclusions about it; that is what a wise person should do.”
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 will suffer 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, God’s will 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 the Bible: ‘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.
Unsteady in My New Faith, I’m Disrupted by Church Friends and Stop Investigating the True Way
One day a few weeks later, my old church friends who had first shared the gospel with me, a husband and wife, came to my house and said angrily, “You haven’t delivered a sermon at the church for over a month, and we’ve heard you believe in Eastern Lightning now. How could that possibly be okay? The Lord healed your wife’s illness, but you don’t believe in Him anymore — isn’t that being totally ungrateful?” They went on to say, “In the Bible, 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). You’re one of the church’s preachers, so you of all people should be clear on the words of the Lord Jesus. He told us that if we hear people saying that Christ is in this place or that place, we can’t believe them. This way we won’t be misled. Could it be that you won’t even listen to the Lord Jesus’ words anymore? You have to turn back right away, come before the Lord to confess and repent. He forgives our foolishness and ignorance, but if you don’t do this, you’ll be expelled by the church.”
After hearing them say all this I really didn’t know what I should do — I was really upset. The Lord Jesus really did say that there would be false Christs in the last days that mislead people, but I did feel from reading Almighty God’s words that this had come from the Holy Spirit, plus Brother Zhou had shared fellowship with me that the reason for the desolation of the church was that God was doing new work and so was no longer working in our church. That was the truth! I really didn’t know what to do. Just when I found myself between a rock and a hard place and didn’t know what choice to make, my wife advised me, “They’re right. There are false Christs in the last days, so we have to be careful. Besides, it was the Lord Jesus who saved my life, so we should listen to them.”
This threw me into an intense internal battle. When I thought of how enlightening Brother Zhou’s fellowship had been as well as how wonderful Almighty God’s words were, I felt that the Lord really had come to walk among mankind. But the Bible does very clearly state that there will be false Christs and false prophets in the last days who come to mislead people, and I was lacking discernment. If I were led astray, wouldn’t I be rejected and cast aside by the Lord, and then wouldn’t my two decades of faith have been in vain? I was really concerned about being misled. I turned it over and over in my mind, and finally decided to go back to the church and think about what I had been investigating at a later time.
Brother Zhou came around again a few days after that; I gave the book back to him and told him to stop coming. He wanted to have fellowship with both me and my wife, but neither of us were listening to what he had to say. I insisted that he take the book back, and he advised us, “Brother and sister, this is God’s words — it’s the truth, and it can provide us with sustenance. You’ll come to regret rejecting this. Where will you ever find it again?” His words gave me pause, but I still gave the book back to him.
Awash in Suffering, I Implore God for Guidance and Seek the Lord’s Footsteps Again
I started feeling really unhappy after Brother Zhou’s last visit. When I stood at the podium in the church I had no idea what to talk about — my spirits sank. I often thought back on what he had said, that Almighty God was the returned Lord Jesus, and that I would end up regretting refusing to accept the true way. Sometimes this left me sleepless all night, tossing and turning, thinking about how I had had faith in the Lord for all those years and was constantly hoping for His return, so if Almighty God really was the Lord Jesus returned and I didn’t keep up with God’s footsteps, wouldn’t my faith be for nothing? In my suffering I came before the Lord in prayer: “Oh Lord! I’m really tied up in knots and lost right now. I heard that You have returned but I’m afraid of being led onto the wrong path by a false Christ, so I’m afraid to continue this seeking and investigation. Lord, there’s darkness in my soul now and I cannot feel Your presence. Please guide me and show me the path I need to take.”
After that I found a prophecy in the Bible about the Lord’s return that really gave me food for thought. “And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders said to me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” (Revelation 5:1–5). It was clearly stated in Revelation — only God can open the scroll and the seven seals. I thought of what was written in that book that Brother Zhou had given me — none of it was in the Bible and it did reveal many of the mysteries of the Bible. If that wasn’t the returned Lord Jesus, who else could open up these biblical mysteries of millennia? The Lord Jesus did say, “Therefore be you also ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes” (Matthew 24:44). The Lord Jesus’ words were very clear. It’s just when we least expect it that the Lord will come, and since there are people now bearing witness to the Lord’s return, why wouldn’t I look into it? And Brother Zhou’s fellowship on the reason for the church’s desolation was particularly accurate! It had really resolved that confusion within me. The more I thought about it the more regret I felt; I knew I shouldn’t have listened to my church friends and given the book back. I didn’t know where to find Brother Zhou anymore — what could I do?
I was in really low spirits in the days that followed. I’d occasionally pick up a Bible and flip through it without knowing what to read and sometimes even nodded off. At those moments I really wished I could see Brother Zhou! I started going to the town entrance every day to look around and sometimes just stood there for who knows how long, hoping he’d appear before me. But after a few days of that I never saw any sign of him; I became really discouraged. All I could do was pray to the Lord and plead, “Lord, I feel that You have incarnated and come among us again, but I missed the opportunity because of my ignorance and foolishness. I really hope for Brother Zhou to come share more fellowship with me so that I have another chance to seek and investigate this. If I have this opportunity again I definitely won’t pass it by.”
I give thanks to the Lord that He heard my prayer. One day I ran into a sister I used to know from the church in the street and told her what Brother Zhou had said about the Lord becoming flesh again and doing the work of the Age of Kingdom. Surprisingly, I found that she had already accepted the Lord’s work of the last days and she said very happily, “You’re so fortunate to have heard about the Lord’s return. Since you do have the desire to seek and investigate this I’ll come over tomorrow with another sister so that we can have fellowship.” I was elated.
Learning How to Discern the True Christ From False Christs and Losing My Fear of Going Astray in My Investigation
The next day, those two sisters came over and I shared my experience with my church friends as well as my fear of being misled by a false Christ, leaving me unwilling to continue my investigation. One of them had this to say about my confusion: “We must have a pure understanding of Scripture. 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). This tells us that when the Lord comes in the last days there will be false Christs who appear. All those who imitate God’s work of the past and use signs and wonders to mislead people are false Christs. The Lord Jesus told us to be on guard against being led astray by false Christs, but He did not tell us to refuse to look into any news we hear of the Lord’s coming. If we rejected that without exception, wouldn’t that be throwing out the baby with the bathwater? That way how could you possibly welcome the return of the Lord Jesus in the last days? The crux now is that we have to learn to discern the true Christ from false Christs, and once we understand that aspect of the truth we no longer need to be afraid of being misled.”
She then went on to read these two passages of God’s words. “God become flesh is called Christ, and so the Christ that can give people the truth is called God. There is nothing excessive about this, for He possesses the essence of God, and possesses God’s disposition, and wisdom in His work, that are unattainable by man. Those who call themselves Christ, yet cannot do the work of God, are frauds. Christ is not merely the manifestation of God on earth, but also the particular flesh assumed by God as He carries out and completes His work among man. This flesh cannot be supplanted by just any man, but is a flesh that can adequately bear God’s work on earth, and express the disposition of God, and well represent God, and provide man with life. Sooner or later, those who impersonate Christ will all fall, for although they claim to be Christ, they possess none of the essence of Christ. And so I say that the authenticity of Christ cannot be defined by man, but is answered and decided by God Himself.”
“Apart from Christ, those who falsely claim to be Christ do not possess His qualities. When juxtaposed against the arrogant and self-exalting disposition of those false Christs, it becomes apparent what manner of flesh is truly Christ. The falser they are, the more such false Christs flaunt themselves, and the more capable they are of working signs and wonders to deceive man. False Christs do not have the qualities of God; Christ is not tainted by any element belonging to false Christs. God becomes flesh only to complete the work of the flesh, not to merely allow men to see Him. Rather, He lets His work affirm His identity, and lets that which He reveals attest to His essence. His essence is not baseless; His identity was not seized by His hand; it is determined by His work and His essence.”
She went on to share this fellowship: “God tells us here the truth regarding how to discern the true Christ from false Christs. If it is God in the flesh, He will have the essence of God, be able to express God’s disposition and what God has and is; He’ll usher in God’s new work. We know that the words uttered by God are replete with authority and power, and God can not only create the heavens, the earth, and all things with His words, but He can also use words to save mankind, and to bestow the truth, the way, and the life upon us. God in the flesh is also able to bring an old age to a close and usher in a new age. He can do the work of redeeming mankind, and in particular He can do the work of fully saving humanity. This is determined by God’s very essence. It’s just like the Lord Jesus — He was a common man, but He had the essence of Christ. He was the embodiment of the Spirit of God. He began the Age of Grace and brought an end to the Age of Law, bringing us the way of repentance and pointing out the path of practice for the new age. He expressed a disposition of mercy and love, revealed many signs and wonders, curing diseases, casting out demons, bringing people back from the dead, calming the wind and the waves, and so on. Ultimately He was crucified, completing the work of redeeming all humanity. Just the same, Almighty God who has become flesh in the last days appears to be a common and normal person on the outside, but He possesses the essence of God. He brought an end to the Age of Grace and began the Age of Kingdom. He’s doing the stage of work of judging and purifying mankind on the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption. Almighty God has expressed all truths to fully save mankind; He has unveiled the mysteries of God’s 6,000-year management plan as well as the mysteries of the incarnation and the Bible. He has also told us myriad aspects of the truth including how to have faith in and worship God, how to fulfill the duty of a created being, and how to cast off our corrupt dispositions. He has pointed out for us the path to attain salvation and has expressed His righteous disposition. We can fully recognize that Almighty God is God incarnate Himself from His work and His words.
“False Christs, on the other hand, do not have the essence of God and they are unable to express the truth. They cannot reveal the mysteries of God’s management plan; they cannot show us the path to cleanse our corruption, nor can they open up a new age or bring an old one to a close. That’s why all they can do is imitate work God has already done, misleading people by showing signs and wonders. However, they absolutely cannot perform major miracles such as bringing people back from the dead or feeding 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fishes. That’s because they lack the power and authority of God. That’s why the key to discerning between the true Christ and false Christs is to see whether they are able to express the truth and do the work of God.”
Hearing this, I responded with excitement, “By reading God’s words and hearing your fellowship I’ve learned how to distinguish between the true Christ and a false Christ. It has to be judged from their work and words — a false Christ lacks the essence of God and is unable to express the truth. All they can do is lead people astray by showing off some strange abilities. The Lord Jesus prophesied that false Christs would appear in the last days, concerned that they would mislead us — it wasn’t at all so have us refuse to investigate the work of the Lord returned. But even though I very clearly saw that Almighty God’s words are powerful and authoritative and they brought light into my heart, I just blindly listened to my church friends’ misinterpretation of the Lord’s words and so refused to investigate Almighty God’s words — that was so foolish. If it hadn’t been for God’s mercy, through you two coming here to share fellowship with me, I would have lost God’s salvation of the last days and would have regretted it for the rest of my life. Now I know how to discern the true Christ from a false one and I no longer need to be afraid of being misled. I can confidently investigate Almighty God’s work.” The sisters happily nodded when they heard that I was willing to look into God’s work and left me with another book of God’s words before they left. I felt like it was a priceless treasure.
Returning Before God and Recalling God’s Love
After some time, by reading God’s words I came to understand more and more truths; I started to feel peace and joy within my soul. In gatherings brothers and sisters are all open and honest. They all share fellowship on their personal experiences of the judgment and cleansing of God’s words, supporting and providing sustenance for each other. Whenever I have some sort of difficulty they all patiently share fellowship on God’s words so that I can find a path of practice. I’ve tasted the joy of the Holy Spirit’s work and guidance, and I am absolutely certain that Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned.
Thinking back on my process of investigating the true way, although there were ups and downs, my takeaway is that God will guide us as long as we genuinely seek. I give thanks to God for allowing me to once again find the salvation that I had lost and to meet with the Lord again!
Source: Walk in the Light
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