The Kingdom of Heaven Is Actually Upon the Earth
By Chen Bo, China
The greatest longing we believers have is to be able to enter the kingdom of heaven and to enjoy the eternal bliss bestowed on man by the Lord. Each time I heard a pastor preach that the place the Lord will prepare for us in the future is in heaven, and there will be fields of gold and walls of jade, gems will glisten everywhere, and we can eat the fruit of the tree of life and drink the water of the river of life, that there will be no more pain, no more tears and no more sorrow, and all will be free and liberated, I would feel a surge of such emotion and such joy. This is a place I longed for so much, and my life on earth of toil and sorrow did indeed make me feel so weary. I would then rush all around and expend myself enthusiastically for the Lord; I would spread the gospel and establish churches, and I never stopped no matter how painful or difficult it got. Especially now that we’re in the last days and the Lord would soon return and take us all back to the heavenly home, I worked and expended myself even more actively.
One day, I went to my sister’s house to check on our mom. Before leaving, my sister gave me a book, urging me to be sure to read it carefully. I thought to myself: This book that my sister gave me is certainly a spiritual work. It just so happens that my spirit feels quite parched right now, it does not feel like the Lord is with me, and I do not feel illuminated from reading the Bible. When I get back, I ought to read this book carefully. Perhaps it will give me something. After returning home, I opened the book and started reading, and before I knew it I was sucked in by the words in the book. The more I read it the more I enjoyed it, the more I read it the more I felt there was light in these words, that they were enlightened by the Holy Spirit, that there was no way that these words could be spoken by a normal person. Since reading this book, I’ve come to understand some truths that I did not understand before from reading the Bible, and in my mind I feel clarity and joy. I’m willing to pray to get close to the Lord, and my faith has grown. My spiritual condition has gotten better and better. I thought: Only the work of the Holy Spirit can provide man with faith and strength, and provide for and nourish man’s spirit. The words in this book certainly come from the Holy Spirit. As a result, the first thing I do every morning when I wake up is read this book.
One day, I opened the book and read the following passage: “God entering into rest means that He will no longer carry out His work of humanity’s salvation. Humanity entering into rest means that all of humanity will live within God’s light and under His blessings; there will be none of Satan’s corruption, nor will any unrighteous things occur. Humanity will live normally upon earth, and they will live under God’s care” (“God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I stopped there. My heart jumped, and I thought to myself: In the future man is going to live upon the earth? Didn’t the Lord Jesus promise that in the future we would live in heaven? How are these words talking about being on the earth? How could this be possible? Am I misreading this? So I carefully re-read the passage, and the words really were saying that in the future man was going to live upon the earth. Then what does that actually mean? This wouldn’t do. I had to understand what this actually meant. So I continued reading: “God has God’s destination, and man has man’s destination. While resting, God will continue to guide all of humanity in their lives upon earth. While in God’s light, man will worship the one true God in heaven. … When humanity enters into rest, it means that man has become a true creation; humanity will worship God from upon the earth and have normal human lives. People will no longer be disobedient to God or resist God; they will return to the original life of Adam and Eve” (“God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). The more I read the more I felt confused: Man will worship God from upon the earth? How is this going to happen? In the Bible doesn’t it say this will happen in heaven? How could it be upon the earth? I rushed over to my Bible, opening it to John 14:2–3, and read where the Lord Jesus says: “In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” The Lord Jesus clearly says that His resurrection and ascent into heaven was to prepare a place for us, so our destination should be in heaven. This is the Lord’s promise! I thought to myself: What this book is saying is different from what the Lord says, so I cannot keep reading it. After closing the book I was in a very confused state of mind, I didn’t know what was right, so I persistently prayed to the Lord: “Oh Lord, please guide me and lead me. What should I do? Should I read this book or not? Oh Lord, please enlighten me, guide me….” After praying I thought about how after reading this book I felt closer in my relationship to the Lord, more enthusiastic about my faith in the Lord, and that my spirit was being provided for. If I put down this book and stopped reading it then I would go back to my previous condition where my spirit felt parched. Since this book did so much for me, since I could be sure that it came from the Holy Spirit, that it couldn’t be mistaken as it came from the Holy Spirit, even though these words did not conform to my conceptions I shouldn’t renounce them for this reason and not read them. As I thought about this, I decided I better keep reading before making up my mind.
Thereupon I picked up the book again and continued reading: “Man’s place of rest is on earth, and God’s place of rest is in heaven. While man worships God in rest, he will live upon earth, and while God leads the remaining portion of humanity in rest, He will lead them from heaven, not from earth” (“God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I kept pondering this over in my mind: This passage now says that God’s place of rest is in heaven, and that while man rests he will worship God upon the earth. Could it be that man’s place of rest really is upon the earth like these words are saying? That’s impossible! The Lord Jesus has already said that we will be wherever the Lord is, and the Lord Jesus was resurrected and ascended up to heaven, so we will also surely ascend to heaven! I thought back on years past, how I had gone down so many roads for the Lord, how I had endured so much suffering. Was it not so that I would ascend up to heaven and no longer endure the suffering on earth? If it’s really like what this book is saying, that in the future man will still be living upon the earth, then won’t my hopes come to nothing? I lay paralyzed upon my kang bed. I felt weak from head to toe. The more I thought about this the more I couldn’t quiet down. So, in order to figure this out, I rushed over to my sister’s house.
When I arrived at my sister’s house, I met a middle-aged woman, and through my sister introducing us I learned that this was Sister Li. Before long, I talked with them about my thoughts after reading this book. After listening, Sister Li fellowshiped with me, saying: “Sister, all of us who believe in the Lord think that the Lord Jesus has promised to prepare a place for man, and that wherever He is He will ask for us to come there. The Lord has ascended to heaven, so in the future when the Lord returns He certainly will welcome us in heaven to live together with Him. But have any of us thought about whether this kind of imagining and reasoning is tenable? If it was how we imagine it that the Lord would come and bring us to live in heaven, then wouldn’t the words in the Lord’s Prayer ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven’ (Matthew 6:10) and the prophecy in the Revelation ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God’ (Revelation 21:3) come to naught? How could these things come about as predicted? If the final destination that God gives us was in heaven, then when God originally created man, what was the significance of Him having us live upon the earth?” I was not convinced in the least, and retorted: “Even though these sacred texts say these things, the Lord Himself said: ‘I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also’ (John 14:2–3). After the Lord Jesus was resurrected, He ascended to heaven, and here the Lord is saying that He will go prepare a place for us. He says that where He is, we may also be. So this proves that God promised us that we will ascend to heaven to obtain eternal life, not that we will obtain eternal life upon the earth. This is something that no one can deny!” Sister Li continued to speak patiently: “Sister, it is true that the Lord is preparing a place for those who believe in Him, but is this place actually upon the earth or in heaven? The Lord does not say so in these words, so what are we basing it on when we say that the place He is preparing for us is in heaven? Is this actually the Lord’s promise or is it our own conception and imagination? For those of us who believe in God, all things should be based on the word of the Lord, we should not mix our own conceptions and imaginations with the word of the Lord and then say that this is the meaning of the Lord. Is this not relying on our own ideas to explain the word of the Lord? Is this not distorting the word of the Lord? So, we cannot rely on the imaginations in our heads and our own thoughts and preferences to explain the word of the Lord. If so, we will make a mistake. In Genesis 2:7–8 it says: ‘And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And Jehovah God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed.’ It’s clear that in the beginning God created man on the earth, and before God created man He first created all things in order to prepare a good environment for man to exist in. So we can see that it is the will of God to have us live upon the earth. In addition, in the Lord’s Prayer, the Lord has us pray to God that His kingdom come to earth. It is prophesied in the Book of Revelation, ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ’ (Revelation 11:15) and ‘The tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them’ (Revelation 21:3). From these lines of Scripture and prophecy we can see that the place that God is preparing for us is on the earth, and that our final destination in the future is on the earth not in heaven….” Sister Li’s fellowship went completely against my conceptions. I simply did not listen to what she said. I stood up and said to her angrily: “Stop talking! Over the years I have run, expended and suffered for the Lord so that I can ascend to heaven! All along I have been looking forward to the Lord bringing me back to the heavenly home, so that I would no longer suffer on earth. You say that our final destination is on earth. I cannot accept this.” After saying this I turned around to leave. My younger sister rushed over to try to talk to me: “Sis, how can you be so stubborn? Is this standpoint you hold on to correct? The Lord says ‘go to prepare a place for you,’ you do not know the true meaning of these words, and you are maintaining your own thoughts. Isn’t that being foolish? This is not the kind of attitude people who seek the truth should have! The Lord Jesus that we look forward to has already returned, Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus! That book that I gave you to read is the personal utterances and words of God! The Lord, who every day we have expected to come to take us, has now returned. We must listen carefully. We absolutely must not mess up this extremely rare opportunity!”
I was amazed to hear my sister say these words. I simply could not dare believe what I just heard: The Lord has returned? Is this true? Then my sister said: “Weren’t you the one that said before that the words in this book come from the Holy Spirit? When you read it, you felt you had been provided with a lot, you had the work of the Holy Spirit, and your relationship with the Lord grew closer. Now think about it: Apart from the word of the Lord, who else speaks in a way that achieves this kind of effect? Now the Lord has returned to carry out work and express new words, and we are able to enjoy the sweetness of the words of God. If we don’t seek and examine, if we just blindly hold on to our own conceptions and imaginations, and hold on to the literal meaning of the Bible without letting go, then eventually we will ruin ourselves. In their time, Pharisees who were proficient in the Bible blindly held on to words in the Bible, they didn’t try at all to question whether or not their own understanding of the Bible was correct, or whether or not it conformed to God’s will. Rather they thought that man not called the Messiah was not the Savior that was going to come, they simply did not examine whether or not the way of the Lord Jesus could supply the life of man, or if it could show man a path to practice. They just stubbornly held on to their conceptions and imaginations and blindly refused the salvation of the Lord Jesus, ultimately committing the heinous crime of nailing the Lord to the cross. We cannot follow in the footsteps of the Pharisees and go down their path of resisting God!” After listening to my sister’s words I thought to myself: What my sister is saying is reasonable. The Lord’s word is the only solution when a man’s spirit is parched. I thought back to how, since I started reading the words in this book, the condition of my spirit really got better and better, how it had given me faith in God, and how it had made me feel that God is with me. I even felt like I understood some truths. Could it be that the words in this book really were the utterances of the returned Lord? The Lord returning is a big deal. I had best not blindly refuse and judge, I must make an effort to examine and seek, I cannot be like those Pharisees who did not seek the truth, who held on to their conceptions in resistance to God! In this moment I felt both pleasantly surprised and scared. I was pleasantly surprised because I believed in the Lord and looked forward to Him returning to accept me into the kingdom of heaven, where I could live a life free of worries, no longer needing to experience hard times upon the earth, and today I heard the news of the Lord returning. This truly is an enormous and joyous occasion. I was scared because if Almighty God is the returned Lord then my dream of waiting for the Lord to accept me into the kingdom of heaven would be shattered…. In my heart I felt all kinds of mixed emotions, I didn’t know how to feel. I felt helpless. All I could do was turn to the Lord in prayer: “Oh Lord! Every day I have looked forward to You coming to bring me into Your heavenly home, but they are saying that the place You have prepared for my final destination is here upon the earth. I really am incapable of confronting this fact. I really do not want to experience these kinds of hard times upon the earth. Oh Lord! I feel such a suffering in my heart now, please help me, and guide me on the path ahead.” After praying I thought about the Lord Jesus’ words where He says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). It’s true! The Lord likes and only allows those who are poor in spirit and who seek the truth to enter the kingdom of heaven. I should be someone who is poor in spirit. Only by carefully listening to their fellowship will I conform to the will of the Lord.
At this moment, Sister Li said: “The Lord said: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God’ (Matthew 5:8). We ought to listen to the word of the Lord, and act as people who are pure of heart as we welcome the return of the Lord. Although the work that God carries out today does not conform to our conceptions and imaginations, still everything that God does is good, it is all for man, and among it all is the will of God, where the truth can be sought. If we don’t understand it thoroughly then we must first set aside ourselves and make an effort to seek the truth, so that we can receive the enlightenment of God and understand God’s will. Sister, open up your heart and speak about the things you still don’t understand, and we can seek together through fellowshiping.” I felt like what Sister Li had said made sense, I ought to calm down and seek, so, I said: “Sister, there’s one thing I don’t understand. Why is it that our final destination is not in heaven but rather here on earth?” Sister Li found John 3:13 “And no man has ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven” and Isaiah 66:1 “The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool,” and gave me these two passages to read. Then she fellowshiped on the meaning of these two passages. Through the sister’s fellowship I felt my mind was all of a sudden clear. I also knew these passages from Scripture, so why was it that I never pondered over them before? The Lord clearly says that except for the Son of man who came down from heaven no man can ascend up to heaven, for heaven is God’s throne and earth is God’s footstool, so how could man deserve to ascend up to heaven? God created man on earth, and had him live on earth. From the day that God created man, man has inhabited the earth generation after generation, gradually increasing in number. All work that God has carried out to save man has also been on earth. This was something that God predestined long ago. It is something that no man can change. The sister then fellowshiped on the Bible, about how the Lord said He would prepare a place for us. She explained that this meant God incarnate’s appearance and work on earth in the last days, and that He had predestined that we would be born into the last days, that we would hear God’s voice, be caught up before God’s throne, accept God’s judgment and purification of the last days, and finally be led into the kingdom of God. This is the true meaning of the words, “where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3). It seems that God’s kingdom is actually upon the earth, and that mankind’s final destination is on the earth and not in heaven! This whole time I had been living within my own conceptions and imagination, I delimited that God would return to bring me to heaven to live, but this really does not conform to the will of the Lord, this does not conform to the facts! However, I was still not willing to live this kind of life on earth where I was afflicted by Satan. So shortly after, I explained the thoughts I was having to Sister Li.
After listening to me, Sister Li opened up the book of The Word Appears in the Flesh, and read to me a passage from the word of Almighty God: “The life in rest is one without war, without filth, without persisting unrighteousness. This is to say that it lacks Satan’s harassment (here ‘Satan’ refers to hostile forces), Satan’s corruption, as well as the invasion of any force opposed to God. Everything follows its own kind and worships the Lord of creation. Heaven and earth are entirely tranquil. This is humanity’s restful life. … After God and man enter into rest, Satan will no longer exist, and like Satan, those wicked people will also no longer exist. Before God and man enter into rest, those wicked individuals who once persecuted God upon earth and the enemies who were disobedient to Him upon earth will have already been destroyed; they will have been destroyed by the great disasters of the last days. After those wicked individuals have been completely destroyed, earth will never again know Satan’s harassment. Humanity will obtain complete salvation, and it will only be then that God’s work ends completely. These are the prerequisites for God and man to enter into rest” (“God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Through reading the words of Almighty God I came to understand that, although in the future our lives are still on earth, once God finishes His final stage of work in saving mankind Satan will be destroyed, and our lives upon the earth will never again be harassed by Satan, nor will we worry or toil, or shed tears, or let out sighs. It will be just like the time when Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden. We will be free to worship God, living a beautiful and blessed life where God is with man. This is mankind’s final destination, and this is the final thing that God will accomplish in His work in the last days. It truly is great! At that very moment I released a sigh: “Who could speak with such a clear way about mankind’s final destination? Who could arrange mankind’s end? Only God could do this!” Within the word of Almighty God I recognized God’s voice, and saw that the work of Almighty God is God appearing to carry out work! I had finally gotten rid of the conceptions in my mind, and happily accepted Almighty God’s work in the last days, returning before God’s throne. All the glory be to Almighty God!