Disasters such as earthquakes, famines and plagues have become more and more frequent in recent years. The prophecies inconcerning the coming of the Lord have basically now been fulfilled, and many brothers and sisters who sincerely long for the Lord’s appearance have sensed that He has most likely returned already. So why haven’t we greeted Him yet? Where is He? How should we seek His appearance? On this subject, some people think the Lord has not yet returned, and they believe they do not need to go out looking for Him, for it is said in the Bible, “And then shall appear the sign of in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). They believe that when the Lord returns, He will come upon a cloud with great majesty and strength, and that because these phenomena have not yet been seen, this proves that the Lord has not returned.
There are now two divergent views on this subject, so has the Lord really returned or not? How will the Lord appear to man when He returns? Can waiting for the Lord to descend upon a cloud guarantee that we will see God and greet Him? Let’s fellowship together on these questions.
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Will We Witness the Appearance of God by Waiting for the Lord to Come on a Cloud?
“You men of Galilee, 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). Based on this passage of Scripture, there are many brothers and sisters who believe that, when the Lord was resurrected, He ascended to heaven on a white cloud, and that when He returns He will likewise do so as His resurrected spiritual body riding a white cloud. They believe that, as long as they have not seen this phenomenon of the Lord descending upon a cloud, then this shows that the Lord has not yet come. But can we be sure that this understanding entirely accords with God’s will? The Bible says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, said Jehovah. 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). God’s wisdom reaches higher than the heavens, so how can we created mankind ever fathom God’s work? How the Lord will appear and work inis something we human beings can never determine. For example, in the beginning the Bible prophesied the coming of the Messiah, but then the came—was this something we human beings could have imagined? Because the Pharisees at that time were so arrogant and conceited, and because they clung to their own notions and imaginings, they defied God. No matter how authoritative or powerful the Lord Jesus’ words and work were, still they went by their own notions and imaginings to delimit God’s work. They believed that the Messiah would wield political power, that He would surely be born in a palace, and that He would be awe-inspiring in His appearance. When they laid eyes on the Lord Jesus, therefore, and saw that He was just an ordinary Jew, that He was not named Messiah and had not been born in a palace, they refused to accept the Lord’s work, and even went so far as to collude with the Roman authorities to nail the Lord Jesus upon the cross, and thus they were punished by God. No matter how the Pharisees condemned or resisted the Lord, however, the Lord appearing and working are facts, and He completed the work of redeeming the whole of mankind. Therefore, whether God has appeared and is working cannot be determined based on whether or not people acknowledge it, but on the facts of God’s work. Disasters are now a frequent occurrence, the state of Israel has risen again, and four blood moons have been seen—all of these things are the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Lord’s coming. If the Lord has returned and yet we still wait passively for Him to descend on a cloud, would we not be greatly at risk of repeating the same mistakes as the Pharisees when they resisted the Lord Jesus? Just as God’s words say: “I’ll ask you further: Is it not extremely easy for you to commit the mistakes of the earliest Pharisees, given that you have not the slightest understanding of Jesus? Are you able to discern the way of truth? Can you truly guarantee that you will not oppose ? Are you able to follow ? If you do not know whether you will oppose Christ, then I say that you are already living on the brink of death. Those who did not know the Messiah were all capable of opposing Jesus, of rejecting Jesus, of slandering Him. People who do not understand Jesus are all capable of rejecting Him and reviling Him. Moreover, they are capable of seeing the return of Jesus as the deceit of Satan, and more people shall condemn Jesus returned to flesh. Does not all of this make you afraid?”
In fact, as for how exactly the Lord will come in the last days, besides the prophecies in the Bible concerning the Lord descending on a cloud, there are other prophecies which tell of the Lord coming in secret: “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him” (Matthew 25:6). “If therefore you shall not watch, I will come on you as a thief, and you shall not know what hour I will come on you” (Revelation 3:3). “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” (Revelation 3:20). The words in these verses of Scripture, “at midnight there was a cry made” and “I will come on you as a thief,” show that when the Lord returns He shall come silently, that He shall descend in secret among mankind, and shall knock upon our doors with His words. Were the Lord to appear to us in the last days by descending upon a cloud, how would these prophecies be fulfilled? If the Lord came on a cloud, would He have any need to knock on our doors? If the Lord appeared to all who believe in Him by coming on a cloud, then no one would dare resist Him, and all would fall at His feet. If that happened, how then would the prophecies in the Bible about the Lord’s work of separating the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats, and thefrom the foolish virgins when He returns come to pass? We therefore cannot take a couple of verses of prophecy and use them to determine that the Lord will appear to us by descending on a white cloud when He returns, for by doing that we will be apt to misunderstand God’s will.
How Are We to Seek the Appearance of God?
Basing our discussion on biblical prophecies, we just talked about how the Lord will return in another way, that of coming in secret. So how should we seek the appearance of God? The Lord Jesus said: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). And in Revelation, it is prophesied many times that “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2, 3). We can see from the Lord’s words and the prophecies in Revelation that, in order to seek the Lord’s appearance, we cannot just wait passively for the Lord to descend on a cloud. Instead, we must learn to listen to God’s voice and seek out for what the Holy Spirit says to the churches. Let’s take a look at what the words of God say: “Where does God appear? Where are God’s footprints? Have you got the answer? Many people would reply in this way: ‘God appears among all those who follow Him and His footprints are in our midst; it’s that simple!’ Anyone can provide a formulaic answer, but do you understand what is meant by the appearance of God or His footprints? 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. This kind of appearance is not a form of ceremony. It is not a sign, a picture, a miracle, or some kind of a grand vision, and even less is it a kind of religious process. It is a real and actual fact that can be touched and beheld by anyone. This kind of appearance is not for the sake of going through the motions, or for any short-term undertaking; it is, rather, for a stage of work in His management plan.
“For this reason, since we are searching for the footprints of God, it behooves us to search for God’s will, for the words of God, for His utterances—because wherever there are new words spoken by God, the voice of God is there, and wherever there are the footsteps of God, God’s deeds are there. Wherever there is the expression of God, there God appears, and wherever God appears, there the truth, the way, and the life exist. In seeking God’s footprints, you have ignored the words ‘God is the truth, the way, and the life.’ And so, many people, even when they receive the truth, do not believe that they have found God’s footprints, and still less do they acknowledge the appearance of God. What a grave mistake! The appearance of God cannot be reconciled with man’s notions, still less can God appear at the behest of man. God makes His own choices and His own plans when He does His work; moreover, He has His own objectives and His own methods. Whatever work He does, He has no need to discuss it with man or seek his advice, much less to notify each and every person of His work. This is the disposition of God, which should, moreover, be recognized by everyone.”
God’s words allow us to understand that if we want to witness the appearance of God and find God’s footsteps, then what is most important is that we seek out God’s utterances. We used to believe that witnessing the appearance of God meant seeing the Lord’s spiritual body riding on a white cloud and appearing suddenly before us. In fact, God appearing to man is not a sign of anything, and it is not a momentary appearance. Instead, God Himself descends among man to perform the work of saving mankind, to bring the old age to a close, to bestow the truth upon man and to lead man into the new age. If we find God’s new utterances, therefore, we will then hear His voice and witness His appearance. When the Lord Jesus appeared and worked, He ended the work of the Age of Law, began the new age, expressed the way of repentance, taught people to confess and repent, to be tolerant and patient, and to love their enemies, and more. He also revealed the mysteries of the heavenly kingdom and the conditions for entry into heaven, and so on. He said such things as, “Repent you: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17) and “Not every one that said to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). These words relate to how we get into the kingdom of heaven, and they sound incredibly profound, as well as both authoritative and powerful. No human being could have said such words, but rather they are the expressions of the incarnate God on earth. Those who heard the Lord Jesus’ sermons, who were able to recognize them as the voice of God and accept the Lord Jesus’ work were the ones who witnessed the appearance of God and followed His footsteps. Those, on the other hand, who stubbornly clung to the laws and merely awaited the coming of the Messiah, still refused to acknowledge that He was the appearance of God despite having heard the Lord Jesus’ words and seen that the miracles He performed could not have been done by man. But instead they judged and condemned the Lord Jesus, saying that He spoke blasphemy and that He cast out devils by the power of Beelzebub. These people were unable to recognize God’s voice and were the foolish virgins, and they were those whom God exposed and eliminated. In order to greet the Lord’s appearance, therefore, it is crucial for us to take care to listen to God’s voice. The Lord Jesus prophesied long ago that He would express more truths when He returned, for example: “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). “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 12:48). In John 17:17, He said, “Sanctify them through Your truth: Your word is truth.” And 1 Peter 4:17 says, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.” These verses show us that when the Lord returns, He will express more and higher truths than those were expressed in the Age of Grace, according to our stature. That is, He will express “what the Spirit says to the churches” and He will perform the work of judgment beginning in God’s house. He will use the truths He expresses to cleanse us of our corruptions, to free us from the bonds of sin, and to purify us so that we may enter into God’s kingdom. To greet the appearance of the Lord, therefore, our urgent task is to seek out what the Holy Spirit says to the churches.
God Has Now Appeared and Is Working—Have You Recognized His Voice?
Where then do we go to seek out what the Holy Spirit says to the churches? The truth is that the Lord returned long ago as Almighty God, the Christ of the last days. In 1991, He incarnated as the Son of man and appeared in China to perform His work. He has expressed all the truths to purify and save mankind, He has performed the work of judgment beginning in God’s house, and He has brought the Age of Grace to an end and begun the Age of Kingdom. Almighty God’s kingdom gospel has now reached the West, and Almighty God’s words have been translated into over 20 languages which are published online for all mankind to seek and investigate. This has fulfilled the prophecy in the Bible that says, “For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even to the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:27). In the last days, Almighty God has unveiled the mystery of God’s six-thousand-year management work, revealed the sinful root of humans’ resistance to God, and showed us the path to be purified and saved. These truths are the true light that comes out of the East and shines even to the West. Let’s now read some passages of Almighty God’s words, and we will see for ourselves whether they are the truth, and whether they are the voice of God.
Almighty God says, “During the many years of My work, people have gained much, and forsaken much, yet still I say that they do not truly believe in Me. For people merely acknowledge that I am God with their mouths, but they disagree with the truths I speak, and, moreover, do not practice the truths that I ask of them. Which is to say, people acknowledge only the existence of God, but not that of the truth; people acknowledge only the existence of God, but not that of the life; people acknowledge only, but not His substance. I despise them for their zeal, for they only use nice-sounding words to deceive Me; none of them truly worship Me. Your words contain the temptation of the serpent; further, they are conceited in the extreme, a veritable proclamation by the archangel. What is more, your deeds are tattered and torn to a disgraceful degree; your immoderate desires and covetous intentions are offensive to the ear. You have all become moths in My house, objects to be discarded with loathing. For none of you love the truth; instead, you desire to be blessed, to ascend to heaven, to behold the magnificent vision of Christ wielding His power on earth. But have you ever thought how someone like you, someone so deeply corrupted, who has no idea what God is, could be worthy of following God? How could you ascend to heaven? How could you be worthy of beholding such magnificent scenes, scenes without precedent in their splendor?”
“The purpose of youris to use Him to achieve your own aims. Is this not further a fact of your offense against the disposition of God? You believe in the existence of the God in heaven and deny that of the God on earth, yet I do not recognize your views; I commend only those people who keep their feet on the ground and serve the God on earth, but never those who never acknowledge the Christ who is on earth. No matter how loyal such people are to the God in heaven, in the end they will not escape My hand that punishes the wicked. These people are the wicked; they are the evil ones who oppose God and have never gladly obeyed Christ. Of course, their number includes all those who do not know and, further, do not acknowledge Christ.”
“I tell you, those whobecause of the signs are surely the category that shall be destroyed. Those who are incapable of receiving the words of Jesus who has returned to flesh are surely the progeny of hell, the descendants of the archangel, the category that shall be subjected to everlasting destruction. Many people may not care what I say, but I still want to tell every so-called saint who follows Jesus that, when you see Jesus descend from the heaven upon a white cloud with your own eyes, this will be the public appearance of the Sun of righteousness. Perhaps that will be a time of great excitement for you, yet you should know that the time when you witness Jesus descend from the heaven is also the time when you go down to hell to be punished. That will be the time of the end of God’s management plan and it 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. They are too stubborn, too confident in themselves, too arrogant. How could such degenerates be rewarded by Jesus?”
Now that we’ve read these words of Almighty God which judge and expose man, I trust that those brothers and sisters who are possessed of both heart and spirit will be able to perceive the authority and power in God’s words and see the appearance of God’s righteous disposition. The words of Almighty God expose our corrupt dispositions of being sick of the truth, of being greedy, of being deceitful, of being arrogant and conceited, and more, as well as the incorrect views we hold in our faith in God. We used to believe that by toiling and working hard, by giving up everything, and by suffering and paying the price, we were the ones who loved God most. Only by accepting the judgment of God’s words do we see that our dispositions are too arrogant, and when the appearance and work of God fail to conform to our own notions, we go so far as to delimit God’s work with our own notions and imaginings. We can also see that our faith in God is too tainted; we do not believe in God so that we may gain the truth and repay His love, but rather so that we may gain blessings, evade the disasters and get into the kingdom of heaven. Though we may be able to expend ourselves for God, yet we do not truly obey God or love God. When God blesses us, we wish to expend ourselves for Him, but when adversity and trials befall us, we are unable to stop ourselves from complaining and blaming God, and we even doubt God and deny Him. Without the judgment of these words, we would have no self-knowledge at all, and we would still be singing our own praises, believing ourselves to be people who love and obey God, and who will be raised up into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord returns. After we have accepted the judgment of God’s words, however, we come to perceive how holy and righteous God is. We become aware that not to pursue the truth or seek to rid ourselves of sin in our faith in God, but instead believe in Him merely to receive blessings and gain grace, is to use God and offend His disposition. We then no longer dare to say we are obedient to God, and we feel that we have been corrupted too deeply, and that we must hurry to pursue the truth, forsake our flesh, and cast off our corrupt dispositions. At the same time, we come to understand the great care and thought Christ of the last days puts into expressing the truth and judging mankind. We come to understand that, although God’s words of judgment for man may be stern, they are all spoken so that we may reflect on ourselves and achieve true repentance and change. Within God’s righteous disposition there can be found God’s mercy for us. If we do not experience God’s judgment and chastisement, we will never be able to see just how deeply Satan has corrupted us, we will never be able to know God’s righteous, majestic disposition that brooks no offense, a God-fearing heart will not arise within us, and we will never be able to free ourselves from the bonds of sin and become people truly obedient to God. Were it not forexpressing His words, whose words could reveal God’s holy and righteous disposition that brooks no offense? Who else could judge and reveal our corrupt essence with their words? All the truths Almighty God expresses in the last days which judge and purify man entirely reveal God’s identity and position; His truths are judgment and condemnation for man, but they are also purification and salvation. In the last days and before the arrival of the great tribulation, God uses His words to seek those who yearn for His appearance. It’s just as in the time of Noah. Before the great flood descended, God commanded Noah to spread the gospel to save people, and those who were able to accept the gospel and who believed God’s words survived. The eight members of Noah’s family heard His words and obeyed. They boarded the ark and so survived, whereas those who did not see the facts and therefore did not believe were destroyed by the flood. Now in the last days, those who accept the judgment of the words of Christ of the last days are purified and changed. They are made into overcomers by God before the great tribulation arrives, they are led by God into the next age and they inherit God’s blessings and promises. Once God has made a group of overcomers, God will unleash the great tribulation and He will reward the good and punish the wicked. He will come on a cloud and reveal Himself openly to man, and those who have just waited for the Lord to descend on a cloud and who have refused to accept God’s secret work will at this time be swept up in the disasters and punished, and there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth. This will be the fulfillment of the prophecy in the Bible which says, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).
How then must we approach God’s work in the last days so that we may conform with God’s will? Almighty God says, “The return of Jesus is a great salvation for those who are capable of accepting the truth, but for those who are unable to accept the truth it is a sign of condemnation. You should choose your own path, and should not blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and reject the truth. You should not be an ignorant and arrogant person, but someone who obeys the guidance of the Holy Spirit and longs for and seeks the truth; only in this way will you benefit. I advise you to tread the path of belief in God with care. Do not jump to conclusions; what is more, do not be casual and thoughtless in your belief in God. You should know that, at the very least, those who believe in God should be humble and reverential. Those who have heard the truth and yet turn their nose up at it are foolish and ignorant. Those who have heard the truth and yet carelessly jump to conclusions or condemn it are beset by arrogance. No one who believes in Jesus is qualified to curse or condemn others. You should all be someone with sense and who accepts the truth. Perhaps, having heard the way of truth and having read the word of life, you believe that only one in 10,000 of these words are in line with your convictions and the Bible, and then you should continue to seek in that 10,000th of these words. I still advise you to be humble, to not be over-confident, and to not exalt yourself too highly. With your heart holding such meager reverence for God, you will gain greater light. If you carefully examine and repeatedly contemplate these words, you shall understand whether or not they are the truth, and whether or not they are life.” Within Almighty God’s words lie His expectations for us. God hopes that, when we encounter His work of the last days, we do not delimit it with our notions and imaginings, but rather that we become humble seekers of the truth, that we listen to the truths God expresses, and seek to discover whether these truths are indeed the voice of God. Only by doing this will we be able to greet the appearance of the Lord, for if we do not, then we will have spent many years believing in God only to miss this opportunity to greet the Lord, and it will be too late for regret.
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