By Piao Zhenhui, South Korea
Confusion: Seeking the Footsteps of the Lord
In 2008, I received the Lord’s gospel spread by Aunt Hao. After that, I often went to church with her. From the Bible, I learned that it was God who created the heavens and the earth and all things, and human beings as well, and that after mankind became corrupt, the Lord Jesus was crucified on the cross as a sin offering to redeem mankind. I was deeply moved by the great love of the Lord, so I pursued enthusiastically in accordance with God’s words, being honest, tolerant, and magnanimous. I had also been very keen on participating in all kinds of church activities. At that time, I had a strong faith in the Lord: Wherever I went, I would first find a church to worship the Lord; and whatever I did, I would always take the Lord Jesus as my reliance. I had also been expecting the day that I could welcome the return of the Lord.
But a few years later, I found that whichever church I went to, the priests’ sermons there were old and boring, having no new light. In addition, my church friends paid little attention to practicing the Lord’s words. They even had no heart of reverence for the Lord when gathering. Some of them came to find a partner, and some to sell things; they were always competing over status and wealth, and their words and behaviors didn’t befit saintly propriety at all. The priest, however, turned a blind eye to such matters and even gave them free reign. What made me even more pained was that I was increasingly unable to keep the commandments of the Lord. When praying, I couldn’t feel the Lord’s presence, and I was continuously committing and confessing sins every day. Every time after I confessed to the priest, he would tell me to recite the rosary, saying that in this way my sins would be spared by the Lord. But after I did that, I still couldn’t rid myself of the bondage of sins. So I couldn’t help but feel a little worried: I always commit and confess sins; will the Lord Jesus forgive such a sinner like me? Could I still have a chance to welcome the return of the Lord?
In 2013, I came to South Korea. In hope of finding my original heart of loving the Lord, I visited several churches here, and wanted to know how the faith of the believers in South Korea was and whether their churches were more thriving than those in China. However, every time I went to a church with joy, I came back with disappointment. I found the priests and believers here behaved the same way as those in China did; they all lived in sins and couldn’t keep the teachings of the Lord. I felt so depressed and gradually was unwilling to go to church. However, whenever I saw disasters occurring one after another all over the world from the news report, I would think: “The prophecies of the return of the Lord have basically come true, and the Lord might have come back already, but where is He?” I constantly prayed to the Lord in my heart: “Oh, Lord, where are You? How can I find You?”
Discussion: The Reasons for the Desolation of the Church
I will never forget one day in March of 2018. That day, when visiting one of my workmates, I got acquainted with her younger brother, Brother Zhang. He is also a believer of the Lord, and we were actually baptized in the same church. This made me feel a sort of closeness to him. In our conversation, when we talked about the widespread desolation of the church at present, Brother Zhang said, “The reason why the church is desolate nowadays, on the one hand, is that the priests and bishops no longer obey the way of the Lord and practice His words, or lead the believers to keep the commandments of the Lord; instead, they always exalt themselves and bear witness to themselves, and make people keep the instructions and
rules summarized by them. The church was originally a place where people worshiped God, but because people don’t possess a heart of reverence and don’t respect God above all others, the church has become a religious venue, losing the work of the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, it is because God has begun a new work and the work of the Holy Spirit has turned to it. Just as when the Lord Jesus launched the work of redemption in the Age of Grace, the temple was no longer upheld by the Holy Spirit, so it became a place for doing business. Those who accepted and followed the Lord Jesus all kept pace with the footsteps of the Lamb, obtained the work of the Holy Spirit and enjoyed the watering and supply of the wellspring of living water of God. And those who failed to follow the work of the Lord Jesus, however, lost the work of the Holy Spirit and fell into darkness and desolation. From these facts we can see that when the church gets desolate, we should seek God’s will and consider whether God has launched a new work in other places, and whether we should get out of the church and seek the work of the Holy Spirit. Just as Amos 4:7–8 in the Old Testament says: ‘I also withheld rain from you when the harvest was still three months away. I sent rain on one town, but withheld it from another. One field had rain; another had none and dried up. People staggered from town to town for water. but did not get enough to drink.’ From the scripture we can see: When our church has no ‘rain,’ that is, has no work of the Holy Spirit, there is a church out there with ‘rain.’ Therefore, on the matter of the church’s desolation, we should hold a heart of longing to seek the footsteps of God. Only in this way can we regain the work of the Holy Spirit and recover our former faith and love.”
The words of Brother Zhang made me suddenly see the light: “It turns out that the Holy Spirit doesn’t work in the church anymore, and that God has started new work. What Brother Zhang fellowshiped is really enlightening. I’ve never heard that before. Does his church have the work of the Holy Spirit? Why not go to his church to make an investigation?” So I told Brother Zhang about my thoughts, and he said happily: “Our church welcomes those who truly thirst for God’s appearance to come and investigate.”
Seeking: Understanding the Mystery of God’s Name
The next day, I went to Brother Zhang’s church full of hope, and when I got there the first object leaping to my eyes was the name and symbol of The Church of Almighty God, which I had never seen before. I felt confused: “How come the name of the church which Brother Zhang is in isn’t Catholic Church? Why is the symbol not the cross?” Just when I was in doubt, Brother Zhang led me to a room where there were several brothers and sisters. After we sat down, I spoke out the confusion in my mind. Brother Zhang explained with a smile: “Sister, actually, Almighty God is the return of the Lord Jesus. Based upon the foundation of the work of redemption in the Age of Grace, God has carried out the work of judgment beginning from the house of God, bringing the Age of Kingdom….” Upon hearing this, I couldn’t accept it for a moment, considering: “It is clearly said in Acts 4:12 that ‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”’ Since the name of the Lord Jesus is everlasting, how could they say that the Lord is called Almighty God when He comes back?” Then I told my doubt to them.
“On this issue, let’s first look at what the Bible says,” said Brother Zhang. “‘The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name’ (Revelation 3:12). ‘“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty”’ (Revelation 1:8). From these passages of scriptures, we can know that the Lord Jesus will have a new name at His return. Since it is a new name, will He still be called Jesus when He returns? In addition, there are many scriptures mentioning the name — the Almighty, which is the name of the returned Lord in the last days prophesied in the Bible. And Almighty God’s words also explain this mystery very clearly. Let’s read the words of Almighty God: ‘Some say that the name of God does not change, so why then did the name of Jehovah become Jesus? It was prophesied of the coming of the Messiah, so why then did a man by the name of Jesus come? Why did the name of God change? Was not such work carried out long ago? Cannot God this day do a new work? The work of yesterday can be altered, and the work of Jesus can follow on from that of Jehovah. Cannot then the work of Jesus be succeeded by another work? If the name of Jehovah can be changed to Jesus, then cannot the name of Jesus also be changed? This is not unusual, and people think so[a] only due to their simple-mindedness. ’
“‘In each age, God does new work and is called by a new name; how could He do the same work in different ages? How could He cling to the old? The name of Jesus was taken for the sake of the work of redemption, so would He still be called by the same name when He returns in the last days? Would He still be doing the work of redemption? Why is it that Jehovah and Jesus are one, yet They are called by different names in different ages? Is it not because the ages of Their work are different? Could a single name represent God in His entirety? This being so, God must be called by a different name in a different age, and must use the name to change the age and to represent the age. For no one name can fully represent God Himself, and each name is able only to represent the temporal aspect of God’s disposition in a given age; all it needs to do is to represent His work. Therefore, God can choose whatever name befits His disposition to represent the entire age.’
“From the words of Almighty God, we know that God takes a name based on the needs of His work, and that He uses the name to change the age, and represent the work and the dispositions He expresses in a given age. Whenever God changes the age and His work, He will change His name, which is the principle of God’s working. The name Jehovah was taken when God led the Israelites out of Egypt and did the work of the Age of Law. It also represents God’s dispositions in that age, which means a God who can have mercy on people, can curse people, and can also promulgate laws to lead people’s lives. At that time, all Israelites worshiped Jehovah God, and they called on the name of Jehovah God in all things and sanctified His name. The name Jesus was taken in the Age of Grace according to the work He did and the dispositions He expressed in that age. This name represents God’s dispositions of mercy and love. As long as people in that age called on the name of the Lord Jesus, they could gain abundant blessings and grace from God; those who had committed sins, after praying to the Lord to confess their sins, could obtain the forgiveness of the Lord. From this we can know that the name of God changes along with His work. Allow me to give you an example that may not be very appropriate. When a man originally teaches at a school, people call him ‘teacher’; later, he goes to work in a hospital, so people call him ‘doctor.’ Because his job changes, what people call him changes as well. But no matter what people call him, he has not changed and is still the same person. However, the Israelites at the time didn’t permit God to change to a new name, and they relied on their notions and imaginations to determine God, believing that the name of God could only be Jehovah and that who was called Jesus was not God. In their hearts, only Jehovah was their God and Savior. They held on to this scripture verse ‘I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.’ (Isaiah 43:11), so when God changed the age and did new work to save man with a new name, they rejected and condemned the Lord Jesus and nailed the merciful Savior to the cross. They had never expected that the Lord Jesus should be the appearance of Jehovah God and the coming Messiah. As a result, they committed a heinous crime and received the retribution they deserved — the pain of losing their kingdom!”
After that, a sister fellowshiped: “It is the same with today’s situation. The last days have already arrived. Based on the needs of people in the last days, God has carried out the work of judgment beginning from His house. This stage of work is to end the age, to separate the good from the evil and to separate all according to their kind. The disposition of God is no longer compassion and love, but righteousness, majesty and wrath. Because of the change of the age, God’s name changes as well. His name isn’t Jesus anymore, but Almighty God, which is taken according to the work He performs and the dispositions He expresses, and it is with this name that He concludes the work of His entire six-thousand-year management plan. Although God’s name has changed in the Age of Kingdom, His work is still that of God Himself and His substance has not changed. Jehovah, Jesus and Almighty God are all one and the same. Just as Almighty God says: ‘In each age and each stage of work, My name is not baseless, but holds representative significance: Each name represents one age. “Jehovah” represents the Age of Law, and is the honorific for the God worshiped by the people of Israel. “Jesus” represents the Age of Grace, and is the name of the God of all those who were redeemed during the Age of Grace. If man still longs for the arrival of Jesus the Savior during the last days, and still expects Him to arrive in the image He bore in Judea, then the entire six-thousand-year management plan would stop in the Age of Redemption, and would be incapable of progressing any further. The last days, furthermore, would never arrive, and the age would never be brought to an end. That is because Jesus the Savior is only for the redemption and salvation of mankind. I took the name of Jesus for the sake of all the sinners in the Age of Grace, and it is not the name by which I shall bring the whole of mankind to an end. Although Jehovah, Jesus, and the Messiah all represent My Spirit, these names only denote the different ages in My management plan, and do not represent Me in My entirety. The names by which people on earth call Me cannot articulate My entire disposition and all that I am. They are merely different names by which I am called during different ages. And so, when the final age — the age of the last days — arrives, My name shall change again. I shall not be called Jehovah, or Jesus, much less the Messiah, but shall be called the powerful Almighty God Himself, and under this name I shall bring the entire age to an end.’ If we do not know the trend of the work of the Holy Spirit, do not seek and investigate the relationship between God’s name and His work, but still stick to our notions that God is merely called Jesus and cannot have another name, aren’t we the same as the Pharisees of that time who opposed the Lord Jesus? Isn’t this defining God and nailing God on the cross again? In that case, the tragedy of Israel shall be re-enacted on us! Therefore, we shouldn’t delimit God, but should learn from the failure of the Pharisees and maintain a humble heart to sincerely seek in the mystery revealed by God. I believe that God will enlighten us to recognize that Almighty God is Jehovah God, and is the Lord Jesus whom we have been long waiting for.”
Realization: The Lord Has Already Returned
God’s words and brothers and sisters’ fellowship made me become enlightened and understand some truths about God’s name. Later on, we watched a Christian movie named “God’s Name Has Changed,” in which the truth of God’s name was fellowshiped very clearly. So I put aside my notions, and understood that the Lord Jesus and Almighty God are one God, and that following Almighty God is not betraying the Lord Jesus, but is following the new work of God. I was no longer confused and became quite clear within.
At the same time, I realized: God is wise and God’s way of working is never in keeping with man’s conceptions. If man doesn’t have a heart of humble seeking, he will be apt to keep his own notions and define God. Thank God for His protection. As for the return of the Lord, I had some notions before. But through seeking the truth, they were eventually resolved, and I welcomed the return of the Lord. Just as Matthew 7:7–8 says: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Now I have followed Almighty God for three months. During this period of time, through gathering, reading Almighty God’s words and watching lots of movies and videos of God’s house, I’ve understood some truths and gained some knowledge of God, and I am being supplied with living water of life. I really thank Almighty God. It was God’s love that brought me before Him so that I could follow His footsteps and no longer wander aimlessly in the world. Now, I am performing my duty as a created being in the church. Thank God!
Now we’re in the last days. The day of the Lord is coming. When He returns, how can we recognize Him? Read the related content to find the way and welcome the Lord’s return.