One day, Sister Zhou told me that Sister Wang had invited a preacher to come and preach to us, and I was asked to attend our co-workers’ meeting. I hurried to the meeting place after receiving the message, where Sister Wang introduced us to the preacher, Sister Ma Yan. Once we’d exchanged greetings, Sister Ma spoke of the reasons behind the church’s desolation, integrating someverses into her fellowship. We all thought that she’d fellowshiped very clearly, that her fellowship had come from the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment, and that it had resolved questions that had perplexed us for a long time.
Sister Ma then continued her fellowship, saying, “Brothers and sisters, thewe have longed for for so long has returned. He is Almighty God, of the last days, and Almighty God expresses His words and performs the work of judgment beginning in God’s house upon the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption; this is to save us utterly from the bonds of sin, and to enable us to be purified so that we may enter into the kingdom of heaven. This fulfills the Lord Jesus’ word, ‘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’ (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). Almighty God has ended the work of the Age of Grace and begun the work of the Age of Kingdom….”
A senior leader in our church, Sister Li, immediately leapt to her feet and interrupted Sister Ma, saying, “Don’t say another word. False Christs will appear in the last days to deceive people, and we can’t listen to anyone who preaches that the Lord has come!” She then turned to us and said, “Brothers and sisters, 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). We are now in the last days; we have to bear the Lord Jesus’ words in mind and be on our guard against the deceptions of false Christs. We must not listen to anyone who preaches that the Lord has come, or else we will betray the Lord!” Sister Li then moved to see Sister Ma out.
At that moment, Sister Ma said amiably: “Sister, in Revelation 22:12, there’s the prophecy: ‘I come quickly.’ There’s another one in Chapter 14:6: ‘And I saw another angel fly in the middle of heaven, having the everlastingto preach to them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.’ The Lord Jesus prophesied long ago that He would return in the last days, and that He would bring the everlasting gospel to the people of the world. Now that the Lord Jesus has returned, if we do not investigate the true way for fear of being deceived by false Christs, then that’s just cutting of your nose to spite your face. Wouldn’t we then be shutting our doors on the Lord Jesus who has returned in the last days? Would that accord with the Lord’s will?” Hearing her say this stirred my heart, and I thought: “Yes, if we only focus on guarding against false Christs and not on seeking or investigating the Lord’s gospel in the last days, how then will we be able to welcome the Lord’s return?”
Sister Ma went on with her fellowship: “It also prophesies in the Bible ‘These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes’ (Revelation 14:4). The Lord’s will is that He hopes we will keep watch and await His return, and closely follow the steps of His work. The Lord Jesus has now returned as Christ of the last days, Almighty God, and we are not betraying the Lord by accepting Almighty God’s work of the last days, but rather we are keeping pace with the footsteps of the Lamb. When the Lord Jesus performed His work all those years ago, those who left the temple and accepted the Lord’s salvation were not betraying Jehovah, but rather they were keeping pace with God’s footsteps. Only people like that are wise virgins!”
As I listened to Sister Ma’s fellowship, I thought to myself: “This sister’s fellowship tallies with the Bible. We should follow closely behind the Lamb wherever He may lead us. If Almighty God truly is the Lord Jesus returned, then by accepting Almighty God’s work we would not be betraying the Lord but would be keeping pace with the footsteps of the Lamb. But how can we verify that Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned?”
Just as I was about to ask this question, Sister Li once again suddenly leapt to her feet and said, “Brothers and sisters, you have not believed in the Lord for long and you are all of small stature, so you lack discernment of what you’re hearing. If what you want is a sermon, then I’ll give you one. The Lord has entrusted me with His flock, so I must take responsibility for your lives! Don’t ever listen to another stranger’s sermon!” Sister Li then said fiercely to Sister Ma, “Are you going or not? If not, then I may forget my manners!” Sister Ma wanted to continue to give us fellowship, but Sister Li pushed her out the door.
Sister Li then said to us, “You are not to receive any more strangers. Whoever does so will be expelled from the church! Also, if anyone from The Church of Almighty God comes again to evangelize to you, you must tell me straight away!”
I was not happy with Sister Li’s approach, so I refuted her in no uncertain terms, saying, “Sister Li, the One we place our trust in is the Lord Jesus and the way we hold to is the way of the Lord. So what deception is there to be afraid of? Moreover, you are a senior leader in our church and you’re always saying you have to take responsibility for our lives. Now we’ve heard someone testifying that the Lord has returned, so shouldn’t you be taking the lead in seeking and investigating it? If it so happens that the Lord Jesus really has returned and we don’t seek or investigate it, wouldn’t you then be leading brothers and sisters to shut the door on the Lord?”
Sister Li did not give me a direct response, but instead just said, “This is for your own good. As your stature is small, if I hadn’t driven her out and you ended up being stolen away by Eastern Lightning because you don’t have discernment over what they’re preaching, then wouldn’t your faith just be in vain?”
I really didn’t understand why Sister Li had made Sister Ma leave, and I thought to myself: “The Bible says: ‘Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares’ (Hebrews 13:2). The Bible tells us plainly that we must receive our brothers and sisters with love, and yet Sister Li is saying that we must receive no strangers at all. Doesn’t that go against what it says in the Bible?” I thought carefully about what Sister Ma had preached and I felt that what she had said was very enlightened; her sermon had been really edifying and allowed us to understand truths we had not understood before. Sister Ma, moreover, had acted with godliness; when Sister Li treated her that way, she was still able to fellowship with love, and the way she preached seemed to be from God. Sister Li, on the other hand, was a senior leader in our church, and when she heard Sister Ma testifying to the Lord’s return, not only did she not seek or investigate it, but instead immediately drove her out—her behavior showed that she was completely lacking in humility or an attitude of seeking. She had behaved like a completely different person who had been preaching to us from the podium!
That evening, I lay in bed thinking back over everything that had happened that day. I felt that Sister Ma’s fellowship had tallied with the Bible and the Lord’s words, and I wished to continue investigating it. But then I thought of what Sister Li had said, that in the last days false Christs would appear. If by chance I failed in my discernment and was deceived, and ended up betraying the Lord, then all my faith would be for nothing. But then I thought again that if what Sister Ma was preaching truly was the gospel of the Lord Jesus’ return and I refused to investigate it for fear of being deceived, then wouldn’t I miss my chance to welcome the Lord? I’d believed in the Lord for all those years and had longed for His return every single day. I’d finally heard someone delivering the joyous news of the Lord’s return, so I decided that I must take responsibility for my own life and no longer just blindly do what my leader said. Should I find Sister Ma for further seeking? I didn’t know what to do, so I called on the Lord in my heart and asked Him to show me the way forward. After the, I thought of the Lord’s words: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you” (Luke 11:9). “Yes,” I thought. “The Lord does not will us to close the doors to our hearts and stay guarded. We should pray to the Lord and seek in earnest, and as long as we yearn and seek, then the Lord will enlighten and guide us.” I then kneeled and said a prayer to the Lord: “O Lord! If it really is You who has returned, I ask that You lead me to recognize You and to welcome Your return. Amen!”
After that, I thought of Matthew 15:14: “They be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” The Lord Jesus’ words made me think of when He appeared and performed His work all those years ago. The Pharisees at that time not only clung to their own notions and refused to seek or investigate the Lord Jesus’ way, but they also led the faithful into condemning, resisting and rejecting the Lord Jesus. In the end, they crucified the Lord Jesus upon the cross, and thus suffered God’s damnation and punishment. As a co-worker in my church, now that I had heard someone sharing the news of the Lord’s return, I needed to take the initiative to seek and investigate this way. I knew that I should absolutely not be as the Pharisees who stubbornly clung to their own notions and did not seek or investigate, but instead just rejected the Lord Jesus’ way out of hand. If I did that, I would very likely miss my chance to welcome the Lord, and not only harm myself, but possibly ruin the lives of my brothers and sisters! I could not become someone who resisted God, but I realized that instead, I had to take responsibility for the lives of my brothers and sisters as well as for myself. Thinking through this, my heart suddenly became clear and I decided to go find the sister from The Church of Almighty God and continue seeking and investigating the gospel of the Lord Jesus’ return.
The next day, after I’d met with the sisters from The Church of Almighty God, I told them all about the perplexities and confusion I had in my heart. “Sister Ma, 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). From the Lord’s words, we can see that false Christs will appear in the last days. We always used to hold to these two verses and we never investigated or would have any contact with anyone who preached that the Lord had come. But after listening to your fellowship last time, I feel a little confused. The Lord will come in the last days, and He has asked us to remain watchful and await His return, so if we don’t investigate or have anything to do with anyone who preaches the gospel of the Lord’s return, then we will be apt to shut out the Lord! When it comes to the matter of welcoming the Lord, therefore, how exactly should we practice in order to conform to the Lord’s will? How can we welcome the Lord’s return whilst at the same time guarding against false Christs? Please could you give me fellowship on these issues?”
Sister Ma smiled and said, “Sister, it’s true that the Lord prophesied that false Christs will arise in the last days to deceive people, but because we are afraid of being deceived by false Christs, we remain only passive and guarded. What’s more, we believe that anyone who preaches that the Lord has come must be false, and the moment we hear someone preaching that the Lord has returned, we don’t listen, we don’t look, and we don’t investigate, and we even condemn and reject it. How can we welcome the Lord’s return by doing that? Actually, by saying these words, the Lord Jesus was telling us that when He returns in the last days, false Christs will also appear to deceive people. In other words, when false Christs appear to deceive people, that is when the Lord Jesus will have already returned. The Lord Jesus was afraid that we would be deceived, and so He reminded us that we must learn to discern false Christs, and He also told us the characteristics and behaviors of false Christs. Let’s read the Lord’s words again carefully: ‘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.’ We can see that the most important characteristic of false Christs is that they will use signs and wonders to deceive people, and so if we have discernment of false Christs, then we no longer need be afraid of being deceived by them.” When I heard the sister’s fellowship, I suddenly saw the light and all became clear. It turned out that the Lord had not said these words so that we would close our doors and remain guarded, and not investigate the words or work of the returned Lord. Instead, He had said these words to tell us the behaviors of false Christs so that we would beware of the deceptions of false Christs and be able to discriminate wisely, for only then would we be able to welcome the return of the Lord Jesus. And yet we had not understood the Lord’s will, but instead had mistakenly believed that all who preached the coming of the Lord were false and we had refused to seek or investigate the gospel of the Lord’s coming. By doing this, had we not shut out the return of Christ? We really had been so foolish!
Sister Ma went on, saying, “Almighty God’s words tell us very clearly how to discern false Christs. Let’s read a passage of Almighty God’s words together. God says: ‘The God of today does not display signs and wonders, nor does He heal the sick and cast out demons. When Jesus came, the work He did represented one part of God, but this time God has come to do the stage of work that is due, for God does not repeat the same work; He is the God that is always new and never old, and so all that you see today is the words and work of the practical God. … If, during the present day, there is to emerge a person who is able to display signs and wonders, cast out demons, heal the sick, and perform many miracles, and if this person claims that they are Jesus who has come, then this would be the counterfeit of evil spirits, and their imitation of Jesus. Remember this! God does not repeat the same work. Jesus’ stage of work has already been completed, and God will never again undertake that stage of work’” (“Knowing God’s Work Today” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
After we’d read this passage, Sister Ma continued with her fellowship. “God is ever-new and never old, and He does not repeat the same work twice. When the Lord Jesus came to perform His work, for example, He did not repeat the work of the Age of Law, but instead performed the work of redeeming mankind upon the foundation of the work of the Age of Law. By doing so, He brought the Age of Law to an end and began the Age of Grace. Almighty God has come in the last days and has brought the Age of Grace to an end and He has begun the Age of Kingdom. Upon the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption, Almighty God performs the work of judgment beginning in God’s house, He expresses all truths to purify and save mankind, to resolve man’s satanic dispositions and the root cause of man’s sins, to utterly save man from the influence of Satan, and finally to purify man and lead them into His kingdom. From this, we can see that God’s work moves ever onward, getting higher and more profound with each stage, and without any stage ever being repeated. The essence of false Christs, however, is evil and demonic. They cannot express the truth and cannot begin new ages, much less bring ages to an end. They can only rely on spreading some fallacies and heresies to confound and deceive people, or else they imitate God’s past works and show some signs and wonders in order to deceive those who are muddled and without discernment. Although false Christs are able to show some simple signs and wonders, they are simply devoid of the authority and power of God, and therefore they are absolutely incapable of performing the kind of great miracles the Lord Jesus performed, such as calming the winds and the waters with a word, bringing the dead back to life and feeding the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish. Therefore, whosoever proclaims themselves to be the Lord Jesus returned, who heals the sick, casts out demons and who shows signs and wonders, are absolutely evil spirits trying to pass themselves off as Christ, and they are false Christs who deceive people. By mastering this principle, then we will be able to easily discern false Christs.”
After listening to Almighty God’s words and the sister’s fellowship, I came to understand that God does not repeat the same work twice and that, when the Lord Jesus performed the work of redeeming mankind, He showed some signs and wonders, but that when He returns and performs His work He will no longer show signs and wonders. I also understood that the essence of false Christs is that of evil spirits, and that they are unable to express the truth and cannot perform the work of God Himself. All they can do is imitate God’s past works and show a few simple signs and wonders in order to deceive us. Thanks be to God! Almighty God’s words are very clear, and I now knew how to discern false Christs!
At that point, another sister spoke, saying, “We now know how to discern false Christs. So now that the Lord Jesus has returned, how can we become certain that this Son of man who expresses His words and performs the work of judgment is indeed Christ and is indeed the appearance of God Himself? God’s words show us the way. Almighty God says: ‘To study such a thing is not difficult, but requires each of us to know this truth: He who is God’s incarnation shall hold the substance of God, and He who is God’s incarnation shall hold the expression of God. Since God becomes flesh, He shall bring forth the work He must do, and since God becomes flesh, He shall express what He is, and shall be able to bring the truth to man, bestow life upon man, and show man the way. Flesh that does not contain the substance of God is surely not the incarnate God; of this there is no doubt. To investigate whether it is God’s incarnate flesh, man must determine this from the disposition He expresses and the words He speaks. Which is to say, whether or not it is God’s incarnate flesh, and whether or not it is the true way, must be judged from His substance. And so, in determining [a] whether it is the flesh of God incarnate, the key is to pay attention to His substance (His work, His words, His disposition, and many more), rather than external appearance’ (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh). ‘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 substance 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. The real 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 is not one that can be replaced by just any man, but one 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 substance of Christ. And so I say that the authenticity of Christ cannot be defined by man, but is answered and decided by God Himself’” (“Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
The sister went on with her fellowship, saying, “We understand from God’s words that, if we wish to be certain that this Son of man who expresses His words and who appears and works is indeed Christ, then the key is to distinguish Him by His essence. Which is to say, we must ascertain this from His work, His words and His disposition. Christ is God incarnate and from the outside He looks like an ordinary person. He experiences the same joys and sorrows of normal people and He lives a normal life. Yet He possesses something which people do not—complete divinity. He is the Spirit of God realized in the flesh and He possesses a divine essence. Christ is able to end the old age and begin the new age, He can perform the work of God Himself, He can express the truth and provide for people, and He can express God’s disposition as well as what God has and is. When the Lord Jesus came to perform His work, for example, He ended the Age of Law and began the Age of Grace, and He brought the way of ‘Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matthew 4:17). He expressed His disposition of mercy and lovingkindness, performed many signs and wonders, and ultimately was crucified upon the cross, thus redeeming all of mankind from sin. All of this was the work of God Himself, and only God incarnate could have done it. Now Almighty God has come in the last days and He has ended the Age of Grace and begun the Age of Kingdom. Upon the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption, Almighty God performs the work of judging and purifying man, He bestows on us all the truths we need to attain true salvation and He reveals all the mysteries concerning God’s six-thousand-year management plan. Such truths and mysteries include the purpose and significance of God’s three stages of work, the mystery of God’s name, the mystery of God’s incarnation, what kind of people God saves, what kind of people He perfects, what kind of people God hates and eliminates, God’s promise to those He perfects, mankind’s future end and destination, and so on. At the same time, Almighty God also expresses His words in order to expose our corruption, to judge our sins and injustice and to show us the path to cleansing our corrupt dispositions away. When they read the words of Almighty God, all who possess both heart and spirit will clearly feel that these words possess authority and power, and are not words that could have been spoken by we human beings. Furthermore, all who accept Almighty God’s work of the last days and who truly experience the judgement and chastisement of God’s words, come to have some understanding of their own satanic corrupt dispositions, such as being arrogant and conceited, selfish and contemptible, crooked and deceitful. They also come to see that mankind has been so deeply corrupted by Satan, that people live by their satanic corrupt dispositions without any semblance of a genuine human being, and there arises in them true hatred and loathing for their own corrupt dispositions. Through the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, we also come to have some true appreciation and understanding of God’s righteous disposition, we gradually generate a heart which reveres God, and we become willing to accept more of the judgment and chastisement of God’s words and to practice the truth. When we pursue the truth and practice in accordance with God’s words, we gradually remove our satanic corrupt dispositions little by little, our life dispositions change to varying degrees, we come to have some true reverence for God and some obedience toward God, and we begin to live out a genuine human likeness. From this, we can see that only the incarnation of God Himself can perform the work of thoroughly purifying and saving man, and that only God possesses this kind of unique authority and power.”
After listening to Almighty God’s words and the sister’s fellowship, my heart felt much moved, and I thought: “Yes, Christ has a divine essence and He is the Spirit of God clothed in flesh. Christ can perform the work of God, express the truth and give us life. False Christs, on the other hand, are evil spirits, they are filthy and corrupt, and they are simply devoid of truth. They cannot express the truth, much less perform the work of judging and purifying man. All they can do is perform some simple signs and wonders in order to deceive people. It seems as though discerning whether or not someone is the Lord Jesus returned must be determined by their work, their words and by the disposition they express!” I silently thanked God in my heart and was grateful to God for moving me to come listen to this sermon. If I’d listened to my leader and refused to investigate God’s work of the last days, then I would have lost this once-in-a-lifetime chance to attain salvation! Thinking this, I said cheerfully, “Sister, I’ve gained such a lot from today’s gathering. I now finally understand the principle of how to distinguish the true Christ from false Christs, I know how false Christs deceive people, and I now know how to recognize Christ from the work and words of God. Thanks be to God! Through reading Almighty God’s words, I am sure in my heart that the words of Almighty God are the truth, that they can resolve our difficulties and confusion, and that they can show us the clear path of practice as well as the principles to follow. Almighty God is the incarnate Christ of the last days and He is the Lord Jesus returned. We used to be deceived by the fallacies religious leaders told us and we just blindly guarded ourselves against false Christs. The result was that the Lord returned and began to perform a new work, but we did not investigate it or go to welcome Him, and we did not take heed to listen to God’s voice—we were so foolish! If we’d carried on that way, we would have been abandoned by the Lord and we wouldn’t even have known it! There are still many brothers and sisters in our church who don’t understand how to distinguish between the true Christ and false Christs, and who don’t dare to seek or investigate Almighty God’s work of the last days. I must read them the words of Almighty God as soon as possible so that they come to understand this truth about distinguishing between the true Christ and false Christs. God’s words will allow them to develop discernment, so they are no longer deceived and fettered by fallacies, so that they return before Almighty God and accept God’s salvation as soon as may be, and so that they can keep pace with the work of the Holy Spirit.” Sister Ma said happily, “That’s wonderful! We will rely on God to lead them before Almighty God together!” I nodded and everyone laughed for joy.
After some time had gone by, some brothers and sisters from my church who sincerely believed in the Lord accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days. We now attend gatherings together and read God’s words, and we now understand many truths and our spirits enjoy a sense of liberation we never felt before. I rejoice that I have been able to welcome the Lord Jesus’ return in the last days and attend the wedding feast of the Lamb! Thank God!
a. The original text reads “as for.”