Question 3: Speaking of the return of the Lord, it is written in Matthew 24:36: “But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” No one can know when the Lord Jesus will return, so how do you know that the Lord Jesus has returned already? It really seems inconceivable to us!
The Bible reads: “But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Mat 24:36). Some brothers and sisters take this to mean that the Lord has not come back. They don’t believe the Lord now has already come back. Actually, such reasoning doesn’t make sense. For the Lord comes to save man. If the Lord does not let man know of His coming, then how can men follow Him and believe in Him? How can God accomplish His work of salvation? If we always hold to this statement, then won’t we be waiting forever for the second coming of the Lord? So, what does this verse really say? In fact, when we read this verse together with the preceding few verses, it becomes clear. Matthew 24:32-36 states: “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near: So likewise you, when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Truly I say to you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” We all know these verses speak of the sign of the second coming of the Lord, and from “it is near, even at the doors” we know the Son of man is already at the doors. But when He will enter, the day, the moment He will enter we really do not know. That is to say, “that day and hour” no one knows. Further, no one knows when “the Son of man” (God incarnate) will come among men, meaning that no one knows the day, the moment of God’s arrival. The angels of heaven do not know, man does not know, only the Father (the Spirit) knows. Just as Almighty God says: “At the break of dawn, unbeknownst to any, God came to earth and began His life in the flesh. People were unaware of this moment. Maybe they were all fast asleep, maybe many who were watchfully awake were waiting, and maybe many were praying silently to God in heaven. Yet among all these many people, not one knew that God had already arrived on earth” (“Work and Entry (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
The word of Almighty God helps us to see more clearly. “But of that day and hour knows no man,” these words mean that no man knows the moment of Christ’s coming. But when Christ has come it will certainly be known by men, because the purpose of God incarnate coming among men is to save men. If He comes and does not let men know, then how can men gain salvation through Him? The Lord Jesus speaks of His second coming thus: “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him” (Mat 25:6). “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” (Rev 3:20). From these two verses we see, after the Lord has come, some people know it. And since He has come, we are asked to welcome Him. He wants to sup with those who hear His voice and open the door. This shows that if we take the words in Matthew 24:36—“of that day and hour knows no man”—to mean no man will know when the Lord has come, it’s completely mistaken.
from Questions and Answers on the Testimony of the Kingdom Gospel
Some brothers and sisters may ask: You say the Lord has returned, but how do you know this yourselves? On what basis do you come to know that He is God Himself? Brothers and sisters, if we want to know whether or not God has come, we must on the one hand rely on the testimony of the Holy Spirit, and on the other we must base it on the work God has done. We all know that before the Lord Jesus performed His ministry, no one knew that He was the Messiah who would come. But when the Lord Jesus began to perform His ministry, the Holy Spirit personally bore witness to Him so that man knew the Lord Jesus’ true identity. If it were not for the Holy Spirit’s testimony, man would not have recognized that He was the incarnate God. Therefore, man’s knowledge that the Lord Jesus is the Christ was based on the testimony of the Holy Spirit. Almighty God’s words regarding this aspect of the truth are very clear: “At the beginning, when Jesus had yet to officially perform His ministry, like the disciples that followed Him, sometimes He also attended meetings, and sang hymns, gave praise, and read the Old Testament in the temple. After He was baptized and came up, the Spirit officially descended upon Him and began to work, revealing His identity and the ministry that He was to undertake. Prior to this, no one knew His identity…. Jesus was 29 when He was baptized. After His baptism was completed, the heavens were opened, and a voice said: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ … If Jesus had done great work before the Holy Spirit bore testimony to Him, but without the testimony of God Himself, then regardless of how great His work, people would never have known of His identity, for the human eye would have been incapable of seeing it. Without the step of the Holy Spirit’s testimony, no one could have recognized Him as God incarnate” (“Concerning Appellations and Identity” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “At the time, Jesus asked those around Him, ‘Who do you say I am?’ They replied, ‘You are the greatest of prophets and our good physician.’ And some answered, ‘You are our high priest.’ … Various kinds of answers were given; some said that He was John, that He was Elijah. Jesus then turned to Simon Peter and asked, ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ From then on the people became aware that He was God. When this was made known, it was Peter who first came to this realization and from his mouth was such spoken. Then Jesus stated, ‘What you said was not directed by any of flesh and blood, but by My Father’” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Through Almighty God’s words we can see that, before the Lord Jesus was baptized, nobody knew that He was God. It was only until after the Lord Jesus was baptized, the heavens were opened, and a voice said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” and after the Holy Spirit enlightened Peter to speak out about the true identity of the Lord Jesus, that people knew that He was God and the Christ. That is to say, it was only because of the testimony of the Holy Spirit that people understood that the Lord Jesus was Christ and the incarnation of God Himself. From this, we can see that man’s knowledge that the Lord Jesus is God incarnate was based on the testimony of the Holy Spirit. After the Holy Spirit bore witness to Him, the Lord Jesus began to perform His ministry, heal the sick, cast out demons, and perform miracles and wonders. He ended the Age of Law and brought about the Age of Grace. He promulgated new commandments, pointed out the path of practice in the new age, brought people rich and abundant grace, and bestowed upon them infinite love and mercy. In the end, He was nailed to the cross for mankind, completing His work of redeeming mankind. Brothers and sisters, we can see from such work performed by the Lord Jesus that all of the work He performed did not exist in the Age of Law. It was work God had not performed in the past. It was a new stage of work performed on the foundations of His work from the Age of Law in order to bring people new provisions and give them new knowledge of God. The words and work of the Lord Jesus were full of authority and power. He raised the dead, filled five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish, and so forth—such work could not have been done by any man. In the end, the Lord Jesus completed His work on the cross and redeemed all mankind. Back then, it was only because of such work performed by the Lord that the people who followed the Lord Jesus knew that He was the Redeemer of mankind. Through this, we can see that mankind needs the work performed by the Lord as the basis to know that the Lord Jesus was the incarnation of God.
Similarly, if we want to be certain today that Almighty God is the second coming of the Lord Jesus and know that He is God incarnate Himself, we must also base it on the testimony of the Holy Spirit and the work performed by Almighty God. Next, let’s listen together to how the Holy Spirit bore witness to Almighty God:
“Praises have come to Zion and God’s dwelling place has appeared. The glorious holy name is praised by all peoples, and is spreading. Ah, Almighty God! The Head of the universe, Christ of the last days—He is the shining Sun, and has risen over the majestic and magnificent Mount Zion in the entire universe …
“Almighty God! We cheer for You; we dance and sing. You are truly our Redeemer, the great King of the universe! You have made a group of overcomers, and have fulfilled God’s management plan. All peoples shall flow to this mountain. All peoples shall kneel before the throne! You are the one and only true God and You deserve glory and honor. All glory, praise, and authority be to the throne!” (“The First Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“Almighty God! His glorious body appears openly, the holy spiritual body arises and He is the utterly complete God Himself! … He wears the golden crown on His head, His clothing is pure white, across the breasts is a golden girdle and all things in the world are His footstool. His eyes are like a flame of fire, the two-edged sword is within His mouth and He has the seven stars in His right hand. The way to the kingdom is boundlessly bright and His glory arises and shines; the mountains are joyful and the waters laugh, the sun, the moon and the stars all revolve in their orderly arrangement, welcoming the unique, true God whose triumphant return heralds the completion of His six-thousand-year management plan! All leap and dance with joy! Cheer! The almighty God sits on His glorious throne! Sing! The victorious banner of the Almighty is raised high upon the majestic, magnificent Mount Zion! All nations are cheering, all peoples are singing, Mount Zion is laughing joyfully, the glory of God has arisen!” (“The Fifteenth Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“After the witnessing of the Son of man, Almighty God revealed publicly to us as the Sun of righteousness. This is the transfiguration! It is now becoming more and more real, and more of a reality. We have seen the method of the work of the Holy Spirit, God Himself has emerged from the fleshly body. He is under the control of neither man, nor space, nor geography; He transcends the boundaries of earth and sea, He reaches to the very ends of the universe, and all nations and all peoples are listening quietly to His voice. As we open our spiritual eyes we see that the word of God has emanated from His glorious body; it is God Himself emerging from the flesh. He is completely and without a doubt God Himself. He speaks to us publicly, He is face-to-face with us, He advises us, He pities us, He waits for us, He comforts us, He disciplines us and judges us. He leads us by the hand and His concern for us burns like a flame within Him, with an eager heart He hastens us to awaken and enter into Him. His transcendent life has been wrought into all of us, and all who enter into Him shall transcend and overcome the world and all the evil ones, and rule together with Him! Almighty God is the spiritual body of God. If He ordains it, thus it shall be; if He speaks it, it will be, and if He commands it, then it is; He is the one true God! Satan is under the feet of God, in the bottomless pit. Everything in the universe is in the hands of God; the time has come, and all shall return to nothingness and be born anew” (“The Sixteenth Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“The one true God who administers all things in the universe—the almighty Christ! This is the testimony of the Holy Spirit, it is irrefutable proof! The Holy Spirit is working to bear testimony everywhere, so that no one will have any doubt. The triumphant King, Almighty God! He has prevailed over the world, He has prevailed over sin and accomplished redemption! He saves us, this group of people who have been corrupted by Satan, and He makes us complete to do His will. He reigns over the whole earth, takes it back and chases Satan into a bottomless pit. He is judging the world, and no one can escape from His hands. He reigns as King.
“The whole earth shall rejoice! Praise the triumphant King—Almighty God! For ever and ever! You are worthy of honor and praise. Authority and glory be to the great King of the universe!” (“The Twenty-seventh Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Brothers and sisters, we have merely selected a small portion of the Holy Spirit’s testimony to read, but it is sufficient to see from this that the Holy Spirit has testified that Almighty God is the King of the kingdom and the second coming of the Lord Jesus! As long as we humble ourselves and listen to these words with a seeking heart, we will gain the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and be able to know that Almighty God is the one true God and is the return of the Lord Jesus.
What God performs in the last days is the work of the word; He uses His words to openly express all that God has and is to mankind. God’s disposition and wisdom are also revealed through His word. God is using His word to judge man, to chastise man, and to supply to man all the truths for purifying and saving corrupt mankind, so that man can be cleansed and thoroughly saved and God can conclude His entire management plan. In these words of life expressed by Almighty God, there are words that prophesy the future of the kingdom, words that reveal the mysteries of God’s management plan, and words that expose human nature, as well as words that discuss human life, life entry, and so forth. All those who accept Almighty God’s work of the last days have, through eating and drinking the words expressed by Almighty God, understood the mysteries of God’s six-thousand-year management plan, the purpose and meaning of God’s creation of mankind, the mysteries of God becoming flesh, the difference between God’s work and man’s work, the inside story of God’s work in the Age of Law and the Age of Grace, and how all mankind has developed until today as well as their future destination, etc. Through the revelations and judgment of Almighty God’s word, people have also understood the origins of mankind’s corruption and their corrupt essence, and why man always sins by day and confesses by night, never able to break free from sin. Moreover, they have also understood how to pursue in order to cast away their sinful nature and corrupt satanic disposition to become sanctified. And so forth. Brothers and sisters, the truth expressed by Almighty God has made all those who follow Him truly experience what is called the spring of the living water and how life is provided to us. It has also made people truly see the fact that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” More importantly, the chastisement and judgment work Almighty God performed on people has helped them to no longer live in the cycle of sinning by day and confessing by night; instead, they live a new life of overcoming Satan and transcending sins, becoming more and more knowledgeable about God, more and more obedient, and more and more like new people. Through such work of Almighty God, we can see that all of this work performed by Almighty God in the last days did not exist in the Age of Grace. It is work God had never performed before, and it is a new stage of work performed on the foundations of His work during the Age of Grace. The work performed by Almighty God has brought man new provisions and given man new knowledge of God. The work He performs cannot be done or replaced by any man. Aren’t such work and the results of such work the best testimony of God’s work in the last days? Brothers and sisters, after going through the testimony of the Holy Spirit and the work performed by Almighty God, can we now still say that the Lord has not returned?
We can see from the testimony of the Holy Spirit, and all the truths expressed by Almighty God to cleanse and save man, that Almighty God is Christ of the last days and the second coming of the Lord Jesus. God has long returned to the flesh and commenced His work of judging and cleansing in the last days. In the face of this reality, can we still say that the Lord has not returned? Haven’t we been waiting for this day to arrive in our years of belief? And now, Almighty God’s work of the last days on the Chinese mainland has basically finished and is expanding throughout the entire universe at the speed of lightning. The several millions of words expressed by Almighty God have been published online along with all kinds of gospel movies and videos and so forth for investigation by people of all nations and tongues around the world who hunger for and seek God’s appearance. God’s deeds have already been revealed publicly to all nations and peoples. Brothers and sisters, at this key moment, should you still continue to wait and observe? Are you willing to lose your last chance to be saved by God? I hope we can all gain God’s enlightenment, soon follow God’s footsteps and enter the new age. I hope we can all enter the wonderful new heaven and earth God has prepared for us.
from Collection of the Sermons of the Kingdom Gospel
Some people say, “How could we possibly not know if the Lord has come? How would we receive no sign whatsoever?” Let’s look at the Lord’s prophecy in the Bible to see how He will come when He returns. “But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation” (Luk 17:25). It is also prophesied that the Lord will come in a hidden way, which nobody knows. “Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord does come. But know this, that if the manager of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be you also ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes” (Mat 24:42-44). This just testifies to the fact that God’s second coming is unknown, and when nothing is known of His coming, that is when the Son of man comes. The Lord’s prophecy also says, “But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Mat 24:36). The angels don’t know, not even the Son knows. How could the Son not know? That the Son does not know means that Christ incarnate, Himself, does not know. This is also to say that in the beginning the Son of man incarnate does not know who He is. To give an example, when the Lord Jesus came, at the start He had no idea that He was God. “I am in the Father, and the Father in me” (Jhn 14:10). “I and my Father are one” (Jhn 10:30). Our Lord Jesus only knew this three years before the crucifixion. Prior to three years before the crucifixion, the Lord Jesus did not know that He was the incarnate God Himself. In the last days, Almighty God has arrived, but from the beginning He didn’t even know that He is God. When did He know of this? After expressing the truth to a certain extent, as He spoke of the incarnation, at this time He knew it. When He began expressing the word, He did not know. These two events testify to the fact that the Lord’s second coming is unknown by all. The angels do not know. The Son, Himself, does not know; only the Holy Spirit knows, only the Spirit of God knows. So, people say, “No wonder that I do not know of God’s coming.” “No wonder we Americans don’t know.” “No wonder we British people don’t know.” “No wonder no one in the whole world knows. The Lord comes as a thief, so no one knows of it.” The Lord comes as a thief, certainly no one knows of it. If the Lord’s coming was a public descent, of course everyone would know of it. The Lord’s coming is not openly known; it is a secret descent. That nobody knows is to be expected. It is not only we who do not know: Nobody does. Some people say, “That’s not right. If you say that nobody knows, then how do you know?” This is because people hear the gospel on different occasions from those who testify to God’s word. There are those that accept first, and those who accept later on. There is this distinction. Those who accept first know a bit earlier; those who accept later know a bit later. It’s like when the Lord Jesus appeared and worked after being incarnated: It was people like Peter and John who first accepted the Lord Jesus. Later when the Lord Jesus’ word and work were spread and testified to, more and more people came to accept the Lord Jesus. Isn’t this how it was? Has this question been explained clearly enough? (Yes, it has.)
from “The Twenty Truths of Spreading the Gospel and Bearing Witness to God” in Selected Annals of the Work Arrangements of The Church of Almighty God