By Li Xun
Insistence represents persistence, means waiting, and even more is spiritual yearning…. But if the direction of our insistence is wrong, then won’t we go astray?
One afternoon in June, it was stifling, without a breath of wind. At that time, I was resting on a bamboo chair at home.
Suddenly I heard someone call “Auntie.” I saw that it was my nephew Xiaofang, who was accompanied by one of his friends who dressed elegantly and looked affable. Then I welcomed them into the room. As I poured some water, I said, “Do you have reasons for coming here on such a hot day?” Xiaofang happily said, “I have a piece of good news to tell you. The Lord Jesus we’ve long yearned for has returned.” Upon hearing this, I was dumbfounded and thought, “Only Eastern Lightning is testifying that the Lord has returned. Could it be that they have believed in it? I often heard my pastor say that right now, there are some people who are saying that the Lord Jesus has returned and done the work of judgment and chastisement. He asked us not to listen to them and told us that it was enough to only believe that the Lord would come with a cloud.” So I said to him warily, “You say that the Lord Jesus has returned. Where is He? How come I haven’t seen Him? The Bible says, ‘Behold, he comes with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him’ (Revelation 1:7). ‘Why stand you gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven’ (Acts 1:11). Therefore, I think the Lord will return on a cloud and will be seen by us.” Then he said, “Auntie, we shouldn’t just rely on these verses to believe that the Lord will certainly come in this way. Actually, many parts of the Bible contain prophecies about the Lord’s arrival …” But before he could even finish speaking I immediately said, “Xiaofang, I’ve believed in God for longer than you have, and I know more than you do. So how could I not know the method of the Lord’s arrival? All right, you can come to see me, but if you try to get me to believe in Eastern Lightning, you should go back. If who they testify to is not the Lord Jesus who will descend with clouds, I won’t accept Him.” After that, his friend also fellowshiped to me, but I still did not listen, choosing to intentionally ignore him and began to do housework. Seeing that, they had to leave.
Several months later, Sister Liu and Sister Wang from my church also started to believe in Almighty God, and they also came to my house to preach the gospel of the Lord’s return. But no matter what they said to me, I still stubbornly insisted that the Lord would descend upon the clouds to take us into the kingdom of heaven, and afterward send the great disasters to destroy this old world. Holding on to my notions, when my nephew and my sisters from my church preached the gospel of the kingdom to me, I refused them all.
In the blink of an eye, nine years passed, but I didn’t see any sign of the Lord’s return. Gradually, my spirit became very weak and I felt puzzled: “Now is the time of the last days, and the prophecies of the Lord’s return have basically been fulfilled, but why has the Lord we’ve been waiting for still not returned on a cloud to receive us?” Afterward, I saw the brothers and sisters in my church also losing their faith. The preachers’ sermons were always the same old stuff, and there was no pleasure to be had in the gatherings. So I gradually did not attend meetings, but only read the Bible and prayed at home, vigilantly awaiting the Lord’s coming.
One day in August 2012, Sister Huang, whom I had not talked to for a long time and who is my fellow villager, suddenly came to my house. I was very happy to see her and so immediately let her in. I also prepared some fruits and water for her. After we made some small talk, she asked me with concern, “Sister, how is your condition at present? Do you still attend meetings?” I replied, “I don’t know what is going on now. There is no pleasure to be had in the gatherings. The faith of the brothers and sisters has grown cold. I haven’t been attending gatherings for several months, but just keep on praying and reading the Bible at home, waiting for the Lord’s coming.” Hearing this, she said solemnly, “Yes! Now, the faith of most brothers and sisters has generally become weak and insipid, and the preachers have nothing to preach, or talk about the same old platitudes. But do you know the reason? Actually, it is primarily because the work of the Holy Spirit has moved, and the Lord has returned and done the new work of judging, chastising, and cleansing mankind. This precisely fulfills the Bible’s words, ‘For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God’ (1 Peter 4:17). So the churches no longer have the Holy Spirit’s work. Just as when the Lord Jesus came to do His new work in the Age of Grace, God didn’t perform work in the temple.” When hearing her say, “The Lord has returned,” I felt very surprised and thought, “Could it be that Sister Huang has also converted to Eastern Lightning?” So I asked unhappily, “Sister, do you believe in Eastern Lightning?” “Yes, I do,” she answered. On hearing this, I pulled a long face and no longer wanted to speak to her. Seeing me like this, she patiently asked, “Sister Li, you can raise any questions you have, and then we can solve them together by seeking the truth.” Then I said, “I admit what you fellowshiped makes sense. In fact, nine years ago some people told me that the Lord has returned, but I didn’t accept it because it is clearly stated in the Bible, ‘Behold, he comes with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him’ (Revelation 1:7). ‘This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven’ (Acts 1:11). These verses prophesied that the Lord will arrive upon a white cloud. But you say that the Lord has returned, how come I haven’t seen the Lord return?”
After listening to me say this, she said earnestly and gravely, “It’s because we’re unwilling to study and investigate when we hear someone spreading the news about the Lord’s coming, and thus we couldn’t receive the enlightenment and guidance of the Holy Spirit. In such a case, how could we see the fact that the Lord has returned? Sister, we should have the intention of seeking and investigating and shouldn’t hold on to our own notions. Just as the Lord Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 5:3). But if we still stick to our own notions, we will miss the chance to welcome the Lord’s return. Sister Li, do you agree with me?” Hearing what she said, I pondered for a few moments and thought it made sense. Then, she took from her bag a book, The Scroll Opened by the Lamb, and said to me, “Sister Li, in the Book of Revelation, there are a lot of places with prophecies that say, ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches’ (See Revelation 2–3). The words in this book are what God says to the churches, and are spoken by God upon His return. I’ll leave the book here and hope you can read and investigate it when you have time.” Seeing that she spoke sincerely, I did not refuse. After she left, I was hesitant about whether or not to read it. At that time, I started to wonder: Why do many brothers and sisters who have true faith in the Lord all begin to believe in Almighty God? What on earth has Almighty God said so that they are willing to follow Him? Out of curiosity, I picked up the book to have a read. Seeing its name, The Scroll Opened by the Lamb, I thought, “The Book of Revelation in the Bible states that the Lamb refers to the Lord Jesus, and that only the Lamb is worthy of opening up the scroll and loosing the seven seals. Could it be that the words in this book really are spoken by the Lord Jesus upon His return?”
I opened the book and inadvertently saw a passage, “All those who were saved by the grace of Jesus Christ during the Age of Grace have been longing for that joyful day during the last days, when Jesus the Savior arrives on a white cloud and appears among man. Of course, this is also the collective wish of all those who accept the name of Jesus the Savior today. Throughout the universe, all those who know of the salvation of Jesus the Savior have been desperately yearning for the sudden arrival of Jesus Christ, to fulfill the words of Jesus when on earth: ‘I shall arrive just as I departed.’ Man believes that, following the crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus went back to heaven upon a white cloud, and took His place at the Most High’s right hand. Man conceives that similarly, in the last days Jesus shall descend, again upon a white cloud (this cloud refers to the cloud that Jesus rode upon when He returned to heaven), among those who have desperately yearned for Him for thousands of years, and that He shall bear the image and clothes of the Jews. After appearing to man, He shall bestow food upon them, and cause living water to gush forth for them, and shall live among man, full of grace and love, living and real. And so on. Yet Jesus the Savior did not do this; He did the opposite of what man conceived. He did not arrive among those who had yearned for His return, and did not appear to all men while riding upon the white cloud. He has already arrived, but man does not know Him, and remains ignorant of His arrival. Man is only aimlessly awaiting Him….” After I read this, it really touched my heart. I felt these words all pierced me to the core of my being. In all these years of my faith in the Lord I had been waiting and longing for the Lord to return just like this. I also felt these words that can reveal our human situation of awaiting the Lord’s coming aren’t words that just anyone could come up with. So I thought, “Could it be that the Lord has really returned? Could it be that He has expressed words and done a stage of the work of judgment?” But then I remembered that the Bible clearly said that the Lord would come with clouds. So I still felt confused about this.
Two days later Sister Huang came again, who was accompanied by Sister Tang. They asked me with concern, “Sister Li, have you read the book?” I replied, “Yes, I have. But I still feel puzzled. You say the Lord has returned. But the Bible clearly states that the Lord will come with clouds, how do you explain that?” Sister Huang fellowshiped this to me, “When it comes to the matter of the Lord’s return on a cloud, we can’t rely on our notions to interpret it. Actually, there is a deep mystery to this. Let’s first read a passage of God’s words. God says, ‘Jesus said that He would arrive as He had departed, but do you know the true meaning of His words? Can it be that He told this group of you? All you know is that He will arrive as He left, riding on a cloud, but do you know exactly how God Himself does His work? If you were truly able to see, then how are the words that Jesus spoke to be explained? He said: When the Son of man comes in the last days, He Himself will not know, the angels will not know, the messengers in heaven will not know, and all humanity will not know. Only the Father will know, that is, only the Spirit shall know. Even the Son of man Himself does not know, yet you are able to see and know? If you were capable of knowing and seeing with your own eyes, wouldn’t these words have been spoken in vain?’”
After finished reading, she went on to say, “From these words we can see that all of God’s words are mysteries, so we can’t explain and define the way for the Lord to return only based on the literal meaning of them; if they were fulfilled according to the literal meaning, wouldn’t many other words spoken by God come to naught? In fact, there are many prophecies in the Bible about the Lord’s coming. If we only hold on to the prophecy that the Lord will descend with the clouds but don’t seek and investigate other prophecies spoken by the Lord, this will make it easy for us to have a one-sided understanding. Careful people can discover that there is actually not just the ‘descend with the clouds’ prophecy in the Bible. There are also many prophecies like that the Lord will come as a thief and descend secretly. For instance, Revelation 16:15, “Behold, I come as a thief.” Matthew 25:6, “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him.” Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” All these prophecies refer to God becoming flesh as the Son of man and descending in secret. “As a thief” means coming quietly, secretly. Just as it was back when the Lord Jesus appeared and performed His work during His incarnation as the Son of man, from the outside, the Lord Jesus was just an ordinary Son of man and nobody knew He is God, which is why the Lord Jesus used “as a thief” as an analogy for the Son of man’s appearance and work. Those who do not love the truth, no matter how God in the flesh speaks or works, or how many truths He expresses, they do not accept Him. Instead, they treat God in the flesh as a normal person and condemn and abandon Him. That is why the Lord Jesus prophesied, ‘For as the lightning, that lightens out of the one part under heaven, shines to the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation’ (Luke 17:24–25). We know that the Lord is faithful, so His words won’t be unfulfilled. If we always hold on to the prophecy that the Lord will descend on a cloud, then how will these words of the Lord be fulfilled?”
Afterward, Sister Tang added, “Yes, Sister Li, now God has already been incarnated and secretly descended among us. He is expressing the truth and carrying out the work of judgment beginning from the house of God. All those, who accept God’s work of judgment and chastisement in the last days, whose corrupt disposition is purified, and who achieve transformation in their life disposition, are the group of overcomers made by God before the disasters. After God makes these overcomers, His great work will be complete. Only after that will God openly appear before all people. That is, God first becomes flesh and secretly descends among us to do His work, and after finishing His work of saving mankind, He will openly descend to appear to all nations and peoples, and allow them to see Him. But no matter how God comes, it contains His wisdom within. We are just corrupt humans, so we can’t rely on our notions to define that God will certainly come with clouds when He returns. Otherwise, this will make it easy for us to lose God’s salvation in the last days. Almighty God says, ‘The time when you witness Jesus descend from the heaven is also the time when you go down to hell to be punished. It will herald the end of God’s management plan, and will be when God rewards the good and punishes the wicked. For the judgment of God will have ended before man sees signs, when there is only the expression of truth. Those who accept the truth and do not seek signs, and thus have been purified, shall have returned before the throne of God and entered the Creator’s embrace. Only those who persist in the belief that “The Jesus who does not ride upon a white cloud is a false Christ” shall be subjected to everlasting punishment, for they only believe in the Jesus who exhibits signs, but do not acknowledge the Jesus who proclaims severe judgment and releases the true way of life. And so it can only be that Jesus deals with them when He openly returns upon a white cloud.’ From God’s words we see that when we see God appear to all of humanity in public, His work will have already ended. Those who accept God’s work in the last days all come back before God, while those who resist and condemn God will receive deserved punishment. At that time, the prophecy in the Book of Revelation will truly be fulfilled, ‘Behold, he comes with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him’ (Revelation 1:7). When God appears openly, those who refused to accept God’s work in the last days and resisted God shall be stunned, because they will see that the Almighty God they have resisted is precisely the returned Lord Jesus. This way, how could they not weep and gnash their teeth? Sister, are you able to accept this fellowshiping?”
At that moment, I felt upset and remorseful. So I responded, a little embarrassed, “You communed very clearly. I can accept it. Only now have I come to understand that when the Lord returns, He will first be incarnated as the Son of man and descend in secret among men to do the work of judging and cleansing man. And after having made a group of overcomers, God will openly appear before all people. That will be the time when God punishes all those who resist His work. I’m too foolish. I stubbornly clung to my own conception and defined that Jesus would descend upon a white cloud, so I didn’t accept Him who doesn’t come in this way. As a result, I shut outside the Lord Jesus who has already come and I almost lost God’s salvation of the last days.”
Afterward, they communicated to me about God’s three-stage work, the incarnation, the mystery of God’s name and other aspects of the truth. And they read much of Almighty God’s word, which resolved many of my problems and difficulties. After a period of time of investigation and seeking, I understood many truths I had never heard before in my church; my condition got better and better, and peace and joy filled my heart. So I became convinced that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus.
These years when the Lord knocked on my door through brothers and sisters preaching the gospel to me time after time, I stubbornly held on to my notion and refused them again and again. My heart really was too rigid! Thinking of this, I deeply repented in my heart and could not help but kneel before God to pray, “O God! I’ve relied on my own notion and imaginations in treating Your coming but didn’t seek the truth. I really am too arrogant. Yet You did not abandon me. After nine years, You awakened my heart through the sister preaching the gospel to me. O God, I only wish to spend the rest of my life repaying Your love for me.”