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Gospel Reader

I Learned to Discern Between the True Christ and False Christs and Welcomed the Return of Jesus (Part 1)

178

By Xiangwang, Malaysia

Editor’s Note: We are now at the crucial time of the Lord’s return. Because they believe in what the pastors and elders say, some believers fear being deceived by false Christs and so have become passive and guarded to the point where, even when they hear someone testifying that the Lord has returned, they still won’t dare to seek the way. Although by doing this they avoid being deceived by false Christs, they also become prone to rejecting the true Christ. So then, how exactly can one welcome the Lord’s return whilst at the same time be on one’s guard against false Christs? Sister Xiangwang found the answer, so let’s have a look together at her experiences.

The Pastor Won’t Let Us Listen to Sermons From Other Churches Because False Christs Have Appeared in the Last Days

From a young age I’ve followed along with my mother, a church deacon and Sunday school teacher, in believing in the Lord. I often attended gatherings and read the Bible with her and, as I got older, I moved from the children’s group into the teen group.

Discern Between the True Christ and False Christs

(Source: Depositphotos)

The pastor responsible for giving sermons to the teen group was a doctor of theology. He often told us that being a pastor was not easy and that without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it was very difficult to persevere in the work of the pastorship. We therefore idolized him, believing him to be one in whom God delighted and who received inspiration from the Holy Spirit. When he would preach to us, he would often use two verses from the Bible: “And then if any man shall say to you, See, here is Christ; or, see, he is there; believe him not: For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect” (Mark 13:21–22). He would tell us that there would be many false Christs appearing in the last days and would exhort us to always be careful and not just casually go and listen to other sermons. Especially for those of us who did not yet have a strong foundation in the Bible and whose statures were too small, he said it was best for us not to listen to, read or investigate any sermon preached by anyone from another denomination, so as to avoid being deceived.

Besides this, the pastor would also often mention certain churches that we absolutely had to avoid at all costs, including Eastern Lightning, and he related to us some of the negative publicity that was circulating about Eastern Lightning. When the members of my group heard this, they all said that they would avoid that church. The pastor would often preach to us that, as long as we often read the Bible, maintained our regular attendance at gatherings and regularly performed spiritual devotions, confessed and repented our sins to the Lord every day and kept a patient watch at all times, then when the Lord came we would be raptured into the heavenly kingdom. I strongly believed in what he said, didn’t dare to casually go listen to sermons preached in other churches, and acted in exact accordance with the pastor’s instructions. As such, I felt I had already secured a position among those awaiting the Lord’s return.

One day in August 2017, Brother Hu from our church suddenly came to visit me at school and said to me in a very earnest tone, “I’ve got something very important to tell you. It seems as though your mom and your sister are now believing in Eastern Lightning.” I was stunned when I heard this news, and I thought to myself: “Isn’t the pastor always exhorting us not to have anything to do with Eastern Lightning? How could my mom start believing in it?” Brother Hu then told me about some of the negative publicity surrounding Eastern Lightning, and the more I heard, the more afraid and panicked I became. I couldn’t stop thinking: “What can I do? What can I do?” Just then, Brother Hu said, “Hurry home and ask your mom if she really has started to believe in Eastern Lightning. But when you ask her, pretend that you don’t know anything. First listen to what she has to say, then give me a recording of your conversation.” Because I was afraid that my mom had gone astray, I agreed.

I Argue With My Mom

Sure enough, no sooner had I returned home than my mom told me that the Lord Jesus had returned as Almighty God and that, in the last days, Almighty God was expressing many words and was performing the work of judgment beginning from the house of God in order to purify and change man, and to save man utterly from the bonds of sin. She went on to say that this was the last stage of God’s work to save mankind and that, if we missed it, we would not have another chance to be saved. She said that she hoped I would also make haste to look into God’s work of the last days and attend a gathering with The Church of Almighty God. When she’d said this, I immediately thought of the negative publicity concerning Eastern Lightning that Brother Hu had told me about and felt a strong aversion to what she was saying. But in order to secretly record our conversation, I restrained my feelings and continued to listen to her.

The next day, my mom asked me to go online for a gathering with people from The Church of Almighty God, but I immediately cut her off and said, “Mom, I won’t attend their gatherings, and you shouldn’t attend them anymore either. You seem to be leaning more and more toward them.” My mom gently replied, “Since I’ve been attending gatherings and fellowshiping with brothers and sisters from The Church of Almighty God, I’ve gained new insight into and understanding of God’s words in the Bible, and I feel certain in my heart that their fellowships are filled with light and that they arise from the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. What’s more, the words of Almighty God have resolved much of my confusion, and I am now absolutely certain that The Church of Almighty God definitely has the work of the Holy Spirit and that the words expressed by Almighty God are the truth….” At that point, my mind was filled with notions about Eastern Lightning and I simply couldn’t accept anything my mom said. Afterward, I went online to show my mom some of the negative publicity surrounding Eastern Lightning that Brother Hu had told me about, and I said, “You see, mom? It’s all stated very clearly here online, and our pastor often tells us not to look into Eastern Lightning as well. Please tell me you won’t have anything to do with them from now on.”

My mom didn’t look at the negative publicity, but just continued to speak patiently to me, saying, “My dear daughter, the Chinese Communist government is an atheist organization that despises the appearance and work of God and despises anyone who has a religious belief. In China, Protestantism and Catholicism are condemned by the CCP government as cults, and the Bible is condemned as being a cultist book, with countless copies burned or destroyed, and now it is even banned from being sold in China. Many Protestants and Catholics have been arrested, persecuted and imprisoned by the CCP government, and some have even been maimed or killed. International human rights groups and western nations have vehemently denounced the Chinese Communist government many times. Can you really believe the words of such a God-opposing satanic regime? Is it qualified to assess and condemn the appearance and work of God? And why don’t the pastors and elders allow us to look into God’s work of the last days? Do their actions conform to the Lord’s teachings? The Lord Jesus told us, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 5:3). We can see from the Lord’s words that the Lord wants us to be open-minded seekers who actively investigate when we hear someone testifying the Lord’s return, for only then can we welcome the return of the Lord. My dear daughter, as believers in the Lord, why is it that we listen to the opinions of other people but don’t heed the Lord’s words? If we believe what the pastor says and the negative publicity released by that satanic regime, and we become passive and guarded when hearing someone testifying the Lord’s return, does that accord with the Lord’s will? By doing so, aren’t we going against the Lord’s words? The Jewish believers at the time of Jesus did not seek or look into the Lord’s words and work, but instead blindly believed the rumors fabricated about the Lord by the Pharisees, and so they resisted and condemned the Lord Jesus and finally they crucified Him upon the cross and were thus punished by God. We must learn the lesson of the failure of the Jews and avoid missing our chance to welcome the Lord. It is prophesied many times in Revelation: ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches’ (Revelation 2, 3). From this verse we can see that, when the Lord returns, He will also express His words, and if we wish to welcome His return, then we must learn to listen to God’s voice. Only by reading and investigating the words of Almighty God will you know whether or not they are the voice of God.” Having said her piece, my mom picked up a book entitled Utterances of Christ of the Last Days and handed it to me.

I looked at the book in her hands but didn’t take it. Because I still couldn’t accept what she was saying, I just said, “I don’t want to read it,” then turned and went to my bedroom.

As I Was Conflicted, I Sought the Lord’s Will

Sitting at my desk, I recovered my calm and reflected on what my mom had just said. I thought to myself: “What mom said actually wasn’t wrong. Eastern Lightning testifies that the Lord has returned, yet I have just blindly believed what the pastor says and believed the negative publicity put out about Eastern Lightning by the Chinese Communist government without having even read the words expressed by Almighty God. I suppose that was a rather arbitrary decision on my part. If Almighty God truly is the Lord Jesus returned and I refuse to accept Him, then I will miss my chance to welcome the Lord. But the pastor always preaches to us that false Christs will appear in the last days, and if I happen to go astray, won’t my belief in the Lord all be for nothing?” My heart swayed back and forth, and I just didn’t know whom to believe, so I called on the Lord: “O Lord! I’ve always yearned for Your return but now I’m afraid of being deceived by the false Christs that appear in the last days. O Lord! People from Eastern Lightning are now testifying that You have returned, so if You truly have returned as Almighty God, then I ask that You enlighten and guide me, and allow me to recognize Your voice.”

The next day, my mom encouraged me again to attend one of her gatherings. After some hesitation, I decided to go online and listen to what they had to say. When the gathering had just begun, I felt very agitated and I didn’t really listen to what the brothers and sisters were fellowshiping about. Later on, Brother Zhang gave fellowship about aspects of the truth such as God’s management plan to save mankind, the mystery of God’s three stages of work as well as the work of judgment God performs in the last days; my heart was drawn in and the more I listened, the fresher and newer it all felt. Although I had previously attended Bible study classes, the preachers had only talked about the miraculous nature of God’s work by mentioning the miracles He performed, or else talked about how saints of the past had obeyed God to accomplish God’s commissions, and so on. They had never once mentioned anything about God’s management plan to save mankind. Brother Zhang’s fellowship allowed me to gain some understanding regarding God’s work of managing mankind; these were all things I’d never before understood despite having read the Bible for so many years. By the time the gathering was over, I’d changed my mind. I decided that I would first investigate Almighty God’s work of the last days and that I would delete the recording I had made of my conversation with my mom.

Wise Virgins Hear the Voice of God

During our gathering on the third day, we discussed the difference between the wise virgins and the foolish virgins. Brother Zhang said, “The wise virgins are wise because they yearn for the appearance of God and know how to listen to God’s voice. They are intelligent, possess caliber, and they are people who love and seek the truth. Consequently, when they hear the news that the Lord has come, they actively seek and investigate—people like this cannot be deceived by false Christs. The foolish virgins do not love the truth, they pay no attention to listening to God’s voice, nor do they know how; they are confused and have no discernment and, concerning the coming of the Lord, they can only cling to their own notions and imaginings to resist and condemn God’s work. For example, some brothers and sisters don’t place importance on listening to the Lord’s words in their belief in Him, but instead they believe what the pastors and elders say. Whatever the pastors and elders say, that is what they believe and, although they believe in the Lord in name, in truth they follow and obey the pastors and elders. Then there are some brothers and sisters who focus solely on blindly guarding against false Christs, and they don’t seek or investigate even when they hear someone spreading the news of the Lord’s return—isn’t this like giving up eating for fear of choking? Are people like this capable of welcoming the Lord’s return?”

Brother Zhang’s words gave me a sudden burst of insight, and I thought, “That’s right! For such a long time now, I’ve believed in what my pastor preaches, and I haven’t looked into God’s work of the last days. If Almighty God truly is the Lord Jesus returned, then have I not been exposed as a foolish virgin? The Lord Jesus said, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you’ (Matthew 7:7). I’ve always looked forward to welcoming the Lord and now The Church of Almighty God is testifying that the Lord has returned. I should be a wise virgin and actively seek and investigate Almighty God’s work of the last days, for only that accords with God’s will.” And so, I decided to carry on looking into Almighty God’s work of the last days.

How to Discern Between the True Christ and False Christs

At a gathering the next day, I asked, “Brother, you fellowshiped yesterday that the key to being a wise virgin is to focus on listening to God’s voice. I feel like I now have a path to follow to investigate God’s work of the last days, but my pastor often says in his sermons that false Christs will appear in the last days to deceive people, so how should we discern between the true Christ and false Christs? I don’t understand this aspect of the truth, so I was wondering if you could share your fellowship with me?”

Brother Zhang said, “The question you’ve asked is crucial as it relates directly to whether or not we can welcome the Lord’s return. As long as we can understand the truth about discerning between the true Christ and false Christs, then no matter how false Christs may try to impersonate God, we will remain undeceived by them. In relation to how to discern between the true Christ and false Christs, the Lord says, ‘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). The Lord’s words tell us clearly that false Christs in the last days will mostly use signs and wonders to deceive people. Because false Christs are devoid of truth and their essence is that of evil spirits and demons, they can only imitate the past work of God and perform some simple signs and wonders, or else misinterpret the Bible to confound people with arcane theories. Only Christ is the truth, the way and the life, and only He can express the truth, show us the way and give us life. All who call themselves Christ but who cannot express the truth, are certainly false Christs and impostors, and this is the principle by which we can possess basic discrimination of false Christs.”

After listening to the brother’s fellowship, I carefully read this passage of Scripture again and then it suddenly all became clear: “Yes, it really does say in the Bible that false Christs will perform great signs and wonders to deceive people. So then how could those pastors who are so well-versed in the Bible not have seen this principle by which we can discern false Christs?”

Brother Zhang then sent over a passage of Almighty God’s words: “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. … If, during the last days, God still displayed signs and wonders, and still cast out demons and healed the sick—if He did exactly the same as Jesus—then God would be repeating the same work, and the work of Jesus would have no significance or value. Thus, God carries out one stage of work in every age. Once each stage of His work has been completed, it is soon imitated by evil spirits, and after Satan begins to follow on the heels of God, God changes to a different method. Once God has completed a stage of His work, it is imitated by evil spirits. You must be clear about this” (“Knowing God’s Work Today” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).

Brother Zhang gave fellowship, saying, “We can see from the words of Almighty God that God is an ever new and never old God, and He has never done the same work twice. Each time God launches a new stage of work, He expresses new words and gives man new paths of practice. When the Lord Jesus came, for example, He did not repeat the work of promulgating the laws and commandments, but instead He used that work as a basis to perform the work of redeeming all mankind, and He gave the people of that time new ways to practice. For example, He taught people to confess and repent, to love their enemies, to learn to forgive, to love one another, and so on. Now Almighty God has come in the last days and He does not express the way of repentance all over again, but instead He uses the work of redemption as a basis upon which to perform the work of judging and purifying man through words. During this stage of work, God does not perform signs and wonders, but instead expresses His words practically in order to reveal our corrupt dispositions and to judge our unrighteousness. At the same time, God bestows on us all the truths we need to attain true salvation and He enables us to understand the path to dispositional change, through which we can cast off our corrupt dispositions and be led by God into His kingdom. The majority of false Christs, on the other hand, are possessed by evil spirits and are all exceptionally arrogant and absurd. They are unable to begin new ages, neither can they bring ages to an end, much less express the truth to show people the path to dispositional change. All they can do is imitate the past work of the Lord Jesus and perform a few simple signs and wonders to deceive people. However, as for the great miracles which the Lord Jesus performed, such as bringing the dead back to life and feeding five thousand with two fish and five loaves of bread, false Christs are simply unable to imitate these deeds, for only God possesses such authority and power, and false Christs could never achieve such things.”

Only through the brother’s fellowship did I come to understand that God’s work is ever new and never old, and false Christs are only capable of imitating God’s past work and performing a few simple signs and wonders. They are incapable, however, of doing God’s work, and as long as we understand the principles behind God’s work, then we will not be deceived. In the past, I had always been afraid of being deceived and so I’d dared not listen to any sermon given by Eastern Lightning, much less seek and investigate Almighty God’s work of the last days. Instead, I cloistered myself in the church, listened to sermons there and praised the Lord, thinking that was the safest way to go, and that I would be reunited with the Lord in the future. Thinking about it now, however, being so passive and guarded and not proactively seeking the Lord’s utterances in the last days had really made me prone to missing my chance to welcome the Lord.

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