By Baoda, Australia
The world is in a state of turmoil, with all kinds of disasters befalling mankind. Many people are wondering: “Has the Lord returned already? And if He has, why haven’t we been raptured before the great disasters?” Some see their pastors and elders always preaching about the same old things, believers’ faith growing cold, believers following worldly trends and unable to live out the Lord’s words. They then wonder whether the Christian church is like the church of Laodicea that was abandoned by the Lord. In the letter to the church of Philadelphia in Revelation, it says, “I know your works: behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it: for you have a little strength, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name” (Revelation 3:8). We can see that only those in the church of Philadelphia can keep to the Lord’s words under any circumstances and have the work of the Holy Spirit. They are the only ones who are truly raptured before the great disasters, and only this kind of church, which has the work of the Holy Spirit, is the one true church. Some people compare this to the current state of the Christian church and wish to leave in search of the true church. There are others, however, who believe that the church is thriving, with competitions on people’s knowledge of the Bible being held and a vibrant atmosphere at all manner of holiday celebrations. They think, “Isn’t this the work of the Holy Spirit? This kind of church is the true church and it will surely be raptured.” But which view is correct? What is the true church? And how should we distinguish between the true church and false churches? Let’s fellowship on these questions.
The first principle for discerning between the true church and false churches: Does it have the work of the Holy Spirit and do its members pursue the truth?
The Bible says, “[The church] is His body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:23). Jehovah God said to Solomon, “For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there for ever: and My eyes and My heart shall be there perpetually” (2 Chronicles 7:16). And God’s words say, “In each stage of God’s work there are also corresponding requirements of man. All those who are within the stream of the Holy Spirit are possessed of the presence and discipline of the Holy Spirit, and those who are not within the stream of the Holy Spirit are under the command of Satan, and without any of the work of the Holy Spirit. People who are in the stream of the Holy Spirit are those who accept the new work of God, and who cooperate in the new work of God. If those who are within this stream are incapable of cooperating, and unable to put into practice the truth required by God during this time, then they will be disciplined, and at worst will be forsaken by the Holy Spirit. Those who accept the new work of the Holy Spirit, will live within the stream of the Holy Spirit, and they will receive the care and protection of the Holy Spirit. Those who are willing to put the truth into practice are enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and those who are unwilling to put the truth into practice are disciplined by the Holy Spirit, and may even be punished. Regardless of what kind of person they are, provided that they are within the stream of the Holy Spirit, God will take responsibility for all those who accept His new work for the sake of His name” (“God’s Work and Man’s Practice” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
We can see from God’s words that the church is God’s temple, that God maintains it and that it has God’s recognition. The true church has the work of the Holy Spirit; it is made up of people who accept God’s current work, and who live within the stream of the Holy Spirit and pursue the truth. In such a church as this, the faithful gather together to fellowship on God’s current utterances; they obtain enlightenment and light from the Holy Spirit, they understand God’s will and requirements, they progress more and more in their lives, and they are able to share testimonies on practicing God’s words in their daily lives. When the Lord Jesus came to perform His work, those who sincerely believed in God and followed the Lord Jesus came together to form the church. They accepted the way of repentance preached by the Lord and were no longer subject to the strictures of the laws as they had been before. Their conduct was carried out according to the Lord’s words, showing tolerance, patience and forgiveness to others, and so on. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit’s current work, their humanity and what they lived out in their lives became more and more proper. They also saw how the Lord endured enormous suffering and humiliation and was crucified for man’s sake, how He redeemed mankind, and they understood that God’s disposition is merciful and loving. Their faith in God grew and grew. This tells us that this kind of church has the work of the Holy Spirit, that it is the true church. Conversely, any church that lacks the work of the Holy Spirit is a false church. At the end of the Age of Law, for example, the Lord Jesus came to perform His work, and the work of the Holy Spirit then shifted. The temple became desolate. The Jewish chief priests, scribes and Pharisees did not accept the current work and words of the Lord Jesus. Though they appeared to keep the laws and commandments, they lacked the work of the Holy Spirit, until finally they were not even able to keep to their own rules. Unlawful acts such as theft, murder and sexual promiscuity were rampant. The temple was no longer a place of worship, but instead became a den of thieves where money was exchanged and cattle and doves were bought and sold. Now let’s take a look at the state of the Christian church today: Pastors can only expound some biblical knowledge and doctrine in their sermons, and they are without the enlightenment and light of the Holy Spirit; believers find themselves without true watering and sustenance, they become negative and passive, and their faith grows cold; in gatherings people just go through the motions without enjoying God’s words; whether pastor or elder, or just an ordinary believer, most of the time no one is even able to keep the Lord’s teachings. In the church, pastors and elders increasingly engage in jealous disputes, they fight over the podium, are greedy, and they entirely lack a God-fearing heart. Many of the faithful slide back into the world and busy themselves making money, they covet the pleasures of the flesh, and fewer and fewer people attend services. People only go to church when there is some event or meal being held, or if they face some great danger. They do not genuinely seek the truth, but for the most part, just want to be part of the fun, or gain grace and ensure peace in their lives. No matter how vibrant such a church appears to be from the outside, it is nothing but a pool of stagnant water, identical to the temple at the end of the Age of Law. Clearly, the Holy Spirit does not work in such a church, and God does not maintain it.
Therefore, to distinguish between the true church and false churches, we must primarily look at whether it has the work of the Holy Spirit, whether the Holy Spirit maintains it, whether the people read God’s current utterances, and whether, by reading God’s words, they understand more of the truth and grow their faith in God. If a church does not keep pace with God’s current work and does not have the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then no matter how many members it has or how great its momentum seems as it holds all kinds of events, it is still a false church and will be abandoned by God soon enough. Just as God inspired John to write in his letter to the church of Laodicea: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I would you were cold or hot. So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:15–16).
The second principle for discerning between the true church and false churches: Does the truth or do false shepherds hold sway?
There is another crucial principle to distinguishing between the true church and false churches, which is to see whether the truth holds sway or whether false shepherds hold sway. A church is a place for people who seek the truth to live a life of the church and worship God, and any church that is made up of people who sincerely believe in God and in whom the Holy Spirit works is the true church. The truth holds sway in this kind of church; everyone reads and practices God’s words, and they submit to the truth. It is led by those who pursue the truth, and pursuers of the truth are supported. Anyone who goes against God’s words and the truth, who does evil and runs amok in the church, is rejected and driven out. Because those who pursue the truth have the work and guidance of the Holy Spirit, God’s will is carried out in a church made up of such people, and it has the presence of God. When the Lord Jesus came to work and speak in the Age of Grace, He hand-picked 12 apostles, and He personally testified to and appointed Peter as the shepherd of the churches. The apostles led the faithful of that time in accordance with the Lord’s words and they shared the gospel of the Lord Jesus’ salvation. God’s will was thereby carried out and the Lord Jesus’ holy name spread far and wide.
Now in the last days, believers in the Lord Jesus are divided between various denominations, each with their own leaders. In the Bible, however, God did not personally testify to these pastors and leaders, much less did He claim to have appointed them as leaders. Most of the pastors and elders in these denominations are graduates from seminary schools who become leaders and pastors once they are certified—they do not arise through being perfected and edified by the Holy Spirit while experiencing God’s work. In their work and sermons, they never testify or exalt the Lord’s words, nor do they fellowship about the Lord’s will. They generally work relying on their own gifts and caliber, and all they talk about is biblical knowledge and spiritual theory. They exalt and testify to the Bible and they put words from the Bible in the Lord Jesus’ place. Such work is in defiance of the Lord. How then could the Holy Spirit maintain their churches? They are incapable of fellowshiping true knowledge of God and of leading people into the reality of the truth. All they know how to do is lead people in rules and doctrine, leading them astray, to their ruin. Moreover, in their work in the church they always exalt themselves and build up their own prestige to have others look to them; they do not act or treat people according to God’s words, but instead they fawn on whoever donates the most money, and appoint their favorites to important positions. Some brothers and sisters do not understand the truth. They’re confused and have no discernment, so they blindly idolize these pastors and elders and seek them out to ask them about every matter under the Sun, as though only they could lead people into the kingdom of God. Though these believers appear to believe in God and follow God, in essence, they actually believe in the pastors and elders. In particular, when a church becomes desolate and the brothers and sisters who are more engaged in their pursuit go in search of a church that has the work of the Holy Spirit, and in search of the utterances of the returned Lord, the pastors and elders do all they can to stand in their way and condemn them. They would rather the believers die of spiritual hunger and thirst than allow them to escape their dominion. It is clear that the truth does not hold sway in such churches, but rather they are controlled by those false shepherds, antichrists and wicked servants who are without the work of the Holy Spirit. Such churches as these offended God’s disposition long ago and have been abandoned by the Holy Spirit, and sooner or later they will be eliminated altogether. As the Bible says, “And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies” (Revelation 18:2–3).
How to Find the True Church
At this point in our fellowship, perhaps many of you now realize that the churches of the religious world no longer have the work of the Holy Spirit. So how then can we find a church that does have the work of the Holy Spirit and the presence of God? We can look to history to find the answer to this question. When the Lord Jesus appeared to work and speak all those years ago, the temple had become desolate. One part of it was that the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees were not leading believers onto the right path, which in turn caused the Holy Spirit to abandon them; the other part was that the Lord Jesus was performing new work, so the Holy Spirit withdrew His work from the temple and began to work in those people who kept pace with God’s footsteps. When those who followed the Lord Jesus heard His current utterances, they received the sustenance of the living waters, whereas those who remained in the temple fell into darkness. The same thing is happening now in the last days. Religion has become desolate and is without the work of the Holy Spirit, so we should seek out the Holy Spirit’s utterances and keep pace with the footsteps of the Lamb, just as it says in the Bible: “And also I have withheld the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain on one city, and caused it not to rain on another city: one piece was rained on, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered. So two or three cities wandered to one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have you not returned to Me” (Amos 4:7–8). We can therefore see that when God comes to unfold new work, the churches of the old age are bound to become desolate. God’s will is within this; that is, it is through the desolation of the churches that we are forced to go in search of His footsteps. Disasters are growing in scale and the prophecies of the Lord’s coming have now largely been fulfilled. It is highly probable that the Lord has already returned, that He has appeared and is working in a church. If we can find God’s footsteps, then we will find the true church as a matter of course.
So how can we find the footsteps of God? There is a passage of God’s words which explains this clearly: “[S]ince 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” (“The Appearance of God Has Ushered in a New Age” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). This means that if we want to find the true church that is to be raptured before the disasters, then we must seek God’s footsteps, seek God’s utterances, and focus on listening for God’s voice. Just as the Bible says: “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7). “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).
We can see from God’s words that when the Lord returns, He will express new words to the churches. Throughout the entire world, today there is only The Church of Almighty God testifying that the Lord has returned, that He is doing the work of judgment beginning with God’s house, and that He has expressed millions of words and unveiled all mysteries of God’s management plan. Such mysteries include the real circumstances of His three stages of work, the mystery of the incarnations, the significance of God’s names, the inside story of the Bible, how Satan corrupts mankind, how God saves people, the final destination of every type of person, how people can attain full salvation, and more. These mysteries are unveiled so that our eyes may be opened and we may feast our eyes on what we see. Almighty God has come in the last days to do His work of judgment, and so The Church of Almighty God has come into being, just as the church of the Age of Grace came into being after the Lord Jesus came to work in the Age of Grace. The Church of Almighty God is made up of people who accept God’s judgment work of the last days, who sincerely believe in God, and who pursue the truth. They accept the watering and shepherding of Almighty God’s words, they read God’s current words, and they pray to and worship Almighty God, the Lord Jesus returned. This group of people has undergone the CCP’s persecution and oppression; some have been arrested and imprisoned, subjected to its brutality and torture, yet they resolutely follow Almighty God and have borne the testimony of the overcomers. After undergoing the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, this group has come to know their own satanic nature. They have felt true remorse and true hatred for themselves. Their corrupt dispositions have been transformed, and they have born many testimonies about their corrupt dispositions being purified through judgment and chastisement. It is evident that God’s work of judgment in the last days has already made a group of overcomers; it is these overcomers who are raptured before the disasters and who are fit to inherit God’s promises and blessings. The book expressed by Almighty God, The Word Appears in the Flesh, is now openly available online, and the experiential testimonies of God’s chosen as well as a wide variety of movies and videos produced by The Church of Almighty God can be found in abundance online. Many who long for the truth become certain that Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned after reading Almighty God’s words and the many experiential testimonies of God’s chosen. They gain a new understanding of God’s work and how to practice the truth. We can see, then, that The Church of Almighty God does indeed have the work of the Holy Spirit; The Church of Almighty God is the church of Philadelphia—it is the church that is raptured before the disasters! Nowadays, the entire religious world has fallen into desolation; it is only The Church of Almighty God that grows stronger by the day. There are new branches of The Church of Almighty God being established one after another in countries all over the world. They continue to grow and become stronger, showing us that all that comes from God must flourish!
As there are greater and greater disasters, and it is crucial that we find the church of Philadelphia that will be raptured before the great disasters. This has direct bearing on the momentous matter of whether or not we will be able to enter the kingdom of heaven. If we cannot keep pace with God’s footsteps and find the true church, we will ultimately be swept away by the disasters with much weeping and gnashing of teeth. At this critical time, we should listen to Almighty God’s words to determine whether they are the voice of God. If we recognize them to be God’s voice, we must hurry to accept them, for only by doing so can we keep up with the Lamb’s footsteps.
Has this fellowship shown you the path to discerning the true church from false churches, and to finding the church of Philadelphia that will be raptured before the disasters, as prophesied in the Bible? If this article has been helpful to you, please share it with your friends so that more people may find the true church amidst the disasters, and so that they may one day soon be raptured before God to receive His care and protection.
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