By Yan Xi, Japan
The notion of God’s gender was deeply rooted in my heart.
I grew up in a Christian family. Every year when the Spring Festival came, my father would buy some calendars from the church, most of which were printed with the portrait of the, so in my mind the Lord Jesus was a male. One day, my mother said, “There were some people coming to our church preaching the way of the last days. And they said that God has once again become flesh and come to do the work of salvation as a female. This is impossible. The Lord Jesus is a male, so God’s incarnation can only be a male, and He cannot possibly incarnate as a female.” What my mother said was deeply engraved in my heart. Besides, when I read the Bible I saw Matthew 1:21 say, “And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.” Since it is said He is a son, I thought, He must be male in gender. I therefore maintained that only male could represent God, that God could only incarnate as a male, and that any preaching saying God had incarnated as a female was going against the Bible.
After growing up, I attended a seminary. In teaching religious theory, our pastor used great emphasis when he said, “The only Son implies that God is a male.” And he told us, “Eastern Lightning preaches that the Lord Jesus has returned, and that this time He has incarnated as a woman. This doesn’t accord with the Bible.” What the pastor said made me believe even more strongly thatcould only be a male, and that it was impossible for God to incarnate as a female when He returned.
Clinging to my notions, I rejected the work of the returned Lord.
After I graduated from the seminary, I began to preach and serve in the church. Later when I learned that several brothers and sisters in our church went to investigate the way of Eastern Lightning, fearing that they would take the wrong path, I hurriedly went to advise them to keep the Lord Jesus’ way, and tried to persuade them by saying that there was no prophecy in the Bible that the Lord Jesus would return as a female. A sister then explained to me, “The Bible says, ‘O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? or who has been His counselor?’ (Romans 11:33–34). God’s work is wonderful and unforeseen, so we mustn’t rely on our notions and imaginings to delimit the gender of the returned Lord! As believers in the Lord, aren’t we all looking forward to His coming? Right now, there are some people preaching that the Lord has already returned. We should seek and investigate it with a humble heart….” Hearing the sister’s fellowship, I wasn’t convinced and thought: “Usually, I am the one who gives sermons to you, and it was through my fellowship that you learned that the Lord Jesus is God incarnate. What’s more, you haven’t read through the Bible once! How are you qualified to discuss the Bible with me?” Thinking of this, I interrupted the sister and said, “Any preaching that says God has come in the form of a female is false. I advise you to repent quickly.” But no matter how I tried to persuade them or interpreted the Bible, they still firmly believed that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus, the appearance of Christ of the last days. Seeing them with such a resolute attitude, I felt the way of Eastern Lightning was not that simple, and I was worried that other brothers and sisters would also accept Eastern Lightning. I thought: “I am someone who works for the Lord, so I must protect His flock; otherwise, I can’t be considered as a loyal servant of God.” So in order to “defend the Lord’s way,” I, “with a great burden,” repeatedly went to advise the brothers and sisters who had accepted God’s work of the last days to repent to the Lord, but there still continued to be brothers and sisters who accepted the work of Almighty God.
Gradually, I discovered that the pastors and leaders in our church engaged in jealous disputes and fought each other for power and status, and that there emerged many deeds that were against the Lord’s teaching in the church. And I myself felt drier and drier in my spirit: I had no illumination from reading the Bible, my sermons were dull, and I was frequently overcome by sins, feeling accused in spirit. I began to feel perplexed about my future path of serving the Lord and didn’t know what I should do. In the midst of my pain, I prostrated myself before the Lord Jesus and prayed to Him, begging Him to help and lead me, and I hoped all the more for the Lord to return as soon as possible.
When I heard the news of the Lord’s return again, I still clung to my notions.
One year later, I received a call from Sister Ma, who told me that her cousin (Brother Zhao) knew the Bible well, and she invited me to go and communicate with them. Because my spirit felt quite parched, I also wanted to communicate more with the brothers and sisters, and so I gladly went there. After I arrived at the sister’s house, I noticed that there were two other sisters there. As we chatted, I told Brother Zhao about my problems, such as the desolate situation in my church and how my sermons had become dull, and I asked him what was going on. After hearing this, Brother Zhao said that this kind of situation wasn’t just at certain churches anymore, but was a widespread phenomenon throughout the religious world. Afterward he integrated some biblical prophecies and fellowshiped, “The churches in the last days are generally desolate because the religious leaders have deviated from God’s teaching, causing the Holy Spirit to cease His work. The other reason is that God has begun a new work in another place and the work of the Holy Spirit has transferred. If we fail to follow God’s new work, we won’t be able to obtain God’s leadership, and accordingly our spirits will grow withered.” Brother Zhao then read a passage of God’s new words to me, and my heart felt very brightened as I listened. He also fellowshiped with me the inside story of God’s work in the Age of Law and the Age of Grace, and used the prophecies of the Lord’sto testify that the Lord Jesus had already returned. When I saw that the prophecies in the Bible had basically been fulfilled, I felt it was possible that the Lord had returned. Therefore, I continued listening to Brother Zhao’s fellowship.
After that, Brother Zhao talked about the image of God. He leaned upon the verse “Take you therefore good heed to yourselves; for you saw no manner of similitude on the day that Jehovah spoke to you in Horeb out of the middle of the fire” (Deuteronomy 4:15) to fellowship with us, “This verse tells us that none of us have seen God’s form, so we shouldn’t delimit it. God is omnipotent and we can never fathom Him, nor can we fathom how He will appear to us. It is recorded in the Bible that God once appeared to man in a burning bush, in the form of pillars of cloud and fire, within a whirlwind, and that He also appeared to people in the image of a Jew. So in what form will the Lord appear to us when He returns in the last days is not something we can delimit. This is because God is too wise. Just as Jehovah God said, ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways…. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’ (Isaiah 55:8–9).” Hearing this, I sighed in my heart: “It’s true! God is a wonderful God, who is unfathomable to us humans. He could appear to man in a burning bush, and He also once appeared to people in the form of pillars of cloud and fire. So how can we delimit what image God will take to appear to us in the last days?” I felt what Brother Zhao fellowshiped was both clear and pure.
Subsequently, Brother Zhao fellowshiped with me that God is always new and never old, that He does not do repeated work, and that in the last days He would become flesh again to express the truth and do a stage of work of judging, chastising and cleansing man on the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption. He then asked me, “Sister, what image do you think God will take when He comes to work this time? Will it still be a male?” I thought: “God is always new and never old, and He does not repeat the same work, so He won’t be a male this time He comes.” At that point, I suddenly thought of Eastern Lightning—they testify that God has incarnated as a woman. I then realized that Brother Zhao was probably a believer of Eastern Lightning. Afterward, no matter what Brother Zhao said, I wasn’t interested in hearing any of it. I just wanted to be alone for a while. After lunch, I kept pondering this over in my mind: What Brother Zhao said is in line with the Bible and the truth, which made me totally convinced. But doesn’t the onlyin the Bible imply the male gender? So how could God appear in the form of a female? This is too incompatible with our conceptions. Should I keep on listening to the sermon, or should I consider a bit more? Given the widespread desolation in the churches now, if this is the true way and I don’t follow it, then won’t I be eliminated? But it is an ever-unchanging fact that the Lord Jesus incarnated as a man, and no one can deny it. Though I know God is always new and never old, I just can’t accept that He has incarnated as a female. The more I thought about it, the more conflicted I was, and I felt an inexpressible discomfort.
So, “The only Son” doesn’t indicate that God is male.
Brother Zhao seemed to see the struggle in my heart and he offered to read a passage of God’s words to me. Too embarrassed to refuse him, I agreed. Then he opened up the word of God and read: “If only the work of Jesus had been done without being complemented by work in this stage of the last days, then man would forever hold onto the notion that Jesus alone is the only Son of God, that is, that God has only one son, and that anyone who comes thereafter by another name would not be the only Son of God, much less God Himself. Man has the notion that anyone who serves as a sin offering or who assumes power in God’s behalf and redeems all mankind, is the only Son of God. There are some who believe that as long as the One who comes is a male, He may be deemed the only Son of God and God’s representative, and there are even those who say that Jesus is the Son of Jehovah, His only Son. Is this not a seriously overblown notion of man?” After finishing reading, Brother Zhao looked at me and said with a smile, “God’s words make it clear that it is simply our notion about God that only the One who comes as a male can be deemed the only Son of God and God’s representative, and it actually doesn’t accord with the truth. Genesis 1:27 says, ‘So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.’ From this verse we can see that God created both man and woman in His own image and that man and woman are equal before God. If, as we imagine, God can only incarnate as a male, then what about women? They are also made in God’s image. So we mustn’t define that the incarnation of God can only be male.” God’s words and Brother Zhao’s fellowship countered the long-standing conceptions in my heart. It turned out that it was not appropriate to delimit the gender of God’s incarnation on the basis that the Lord Jesus incarnated as a man. But at that moment it was still hard for me to accept the fact that God had incarnated as a woman this time.
Seeing that I was still conflicted, Brother Zhao then asked, “Sister, the Bible says, ‘God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth’ (John 4:24), so do you think God can be differentiated by gender?” I thought for a while and said, “God is a Spirit, and so there should be no distinction of gender. But, I’m still not clear about this issue.” Brother Zhao said smilingly, “Then let’s read a passage of God’s words!” I nodded my head and then he read these two passages of God’s words, “Each stage of work done by God has its own practical significance. Back then, when Jesus came, He was male, but when God comes this time, He is female. From this, you can see that God created both male and female for the sake of His work, and with Him there is no distinction of gender. When His Spirit comes, He can take on any kind of flesh at will and that flesh can represent Him. Whether male or female, it can represent God as long as it is His incarnate flesh. If Jesus had appeared as a female when He came, in other words, if an infant girl, and not a boy, had been conceived by the Holy Spirit, that stage of work would have been completed all the same. If such had been the case, then the present stage of work would have to be completed by a male instead, but the work would be completed all the same. The work done in either stage is equally significant; neither stage of work is repeated nor conflicts with the other. At the time, Jesus in doing His work was called the only Son, and ‘Son’ implies the male gender. Then why is the only Son not mentioned in this stage? This is because the requirements of the work have necessitated a change in gender different from that of Jesus. With God there is no distinction of gender. He does His work as He wishes and in doing His work He is not subject to any restrictions, but is especially free. However, every stage of work has its own practical significance. God became flesh twice, and it goes without saying that His incarnation in the last days is the last time. He has come to reveal all His deeds. If in this stage He did not become flesh in order personally to do work for man to witness, man would forever hold on to the notion that God is only male, not female.” “If God came into the flesh only as a male, people would define Him as male, as the God of men, and would never believe Him to be the God of women. Men would then hold that God is of the same gender as men, that God is the head of men—but what then of women? This is unfair; is it not preferential treatment? If this were the case, then all those whom God saved would be men like Him, and not one woman would. When God created mankind, He created Adam and He created Eve. He did not only create Adam, but made both male and female in His image. God is not only the God of men—He is also the God of women.”
Brother Zhao continued fellowshiping, “God’s essence is Spirit and He is not differentiated by gender. It is for the sake of mankind’s salvation that He becomes flesh and takes the image of a created being. The Lord Jesus appeared in the image of a male, and this image only existed during the time when God was in the flesh. After God completed His work, He went back to the spiritual realm and returned to His person, and then there was no distinction of gender with Him. Therefore, the gender of God is only dependent on the period of time in which God is clothed in the flesh and does the work of salvation on earth. Since God created both man and woman, He can incarnate as either a man or a woman. If God had taken the image of a female in the Age of Grace, the work of redemption would have been completed all the same, and then in the last days God would incarnate as a male. But whether God’s incarnation is male or female, He is Christ and God Himself as long as He is the incarnate flesh of God’s Spirit. The gender of God’s incarnation can change, but God’s essence will never change. No matter what gender the incarnation of God takes, it doesn’t interrupt or affect God’s work of salvation in the least. In the last days, God takes a gender different from that in the Age of Grace—this is for the need of the work of saving mankind, and also to reveal the misconceptions and imaginings of us corrupt mankind about God and to prevent us from delimiting God. Otherwise, we may define God as male and even believe that God is only the God of men—this is unfair to women. Therefore, we cannot delimit God’s gender—this is a blasphemy against God.”
After listening to God’s words and Brother Zhao’s fellowship, I suddenly awakened: As it turns out, God is a Spirit and He is not differentiated by gender. Even though the incarnation of God is a female, His essence is still God Himself and He is also capable of doing the work of saving mankind. God’s taking the image of a female greatly counters our notions, reveals our misconceptions about God, and allows us to see that God is not only the God of men, but also the God of women. At that time, I suddenly felt brightened within as if the clouds had passed in my heart. I saw how almighty and great God is and meanwhile witnessed His wondrousness and wisdom. If God hadn’t incarnated as a female, my notion that God’s incarnation can only be male would never be dispelled, and I would eventually become the one who believes in God but delimits and blasphemes God, and I would never be approved by God.
Recalling the past, I deeply felt God’s loveliness.
Then I recalled how I heard the news that God has incarnated as a woman to do new work, how I didn’t seek or investigate it at all because of my definition of the gender of God’s incarnation, and how I even spread notions to disrupt the brothers and sisters, obstructing them from investigating God’s work of the last days. I actually became a stumbling block that prevented them from entering the kingdom of heaven. I thought of what the Lord Jesus said, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13). God comes to save man but I actually obstructed and resisted His work, fighting against Him. Wasn’t I just a modern Pharisee who deserved to be cursed? The more I thought of this, the more I felt afraid. I thought: “I am someone who has condemned and blasphemed God and who has obstructed many brothers and sisters from accepting God’s. Given those evil deeds I have done, will God still save me? I bet Almighty God won’t forgive a grievous sinner like me.” At this thought, I was filled with remorse and self-reproach, and couldn’t help bursting out crying.
A sister hurriedly handed a tissue to me and another sister came to comfort me. Seeing how sad I was, Brother Zhao read me a passage of Almighty God’s words, “Each and every person who has accepted the conquering of words will have ample opportunity for salvation. God’s salvation of each one of these people shows them His utmost leniency, meaning that they are showed the utmost tolerance. So long as people turn back from the wrong path, so long as they can repent, then God will give them the opportunity to obtain His salvation. When people first rebel against God, God has no desire to put them to death, but instead does all He can to save them. If someone really has no room for salvation, then God will cast them aside. That God is slow to punish someone is because He wants to save all those who can be saved.”
Then he fellowshiped this with me, “God does the utmost to save man. We have notions about God, and have rebelled and resisted God because we have no knowledge of God, but if we can accept the truth and return to God after hearing His words, God will continue to save us—this is God’s utmost love for us mankind. Although you have prevented the brothers and sisters from accepting God’s work of the last days, you were not intentionally resisting God. God looks at our intentions. You did that because you harbored notions and had no knowledge of God. It’s different from the Pharisees deliberately opposing the Lord Jesus in order to protect their own status and livelihood. God won’t decide our ends and destination because of our temporary foolishness and ignorance.” After listening to Almighty God’s words and Brother Zhao’s fellowship, I finally got rid of my misunderstanding of God and came to know that God hadn’t given up on my salvation, which made me feel both moved and indebted. I appreciated that the essence of Almighty God is love and salvation and, at the same time, I also realized that if we hold on to our conceptions of God and don’t resolve them, we will resist God, and not only can we not welcome the Lord’s return but we will eventually suffer God’s righteous punishment.
Afterward, the brothers and sisters gave me a book of God’s words. After returning home, I hungrily devoured the truth expressed by Almighty God and my spirit was no longer withered. God’s words have clearly explained all aspects of the truth such as the inside story of God’s six-thousand-year management plan, the mystery of incarnation, how to cast off sin and attain purification, and mankind’s final destination, which really opened my eyes. I saw that the words of Almighty God are indeed the truth and became completely certain that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus, and thus I gladly accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days. When I thought of how many brothers and sisters in my church hadn’t followed God’s new work because of my obstruction, I felt very indebted to God and the brothers and sisters, so I hurriedly invited Brother Zhao to bear witness to Almighty God’s work of the last days to the brothers and sisters in my church. Later, I also threw myself into the ranks of spreading the gospel. Thanks be to Almighty God!