Hello, Brothers and Sisters of Find the Shepherd!
In the last few years, the pastors and elders have told us, “Now we are in the late period of the last days. All sorts of disasters are occurring more frequently and are getting worse and worse, and the prophecies of the Lord’s return have basically been fulfilled already. This shows that the Lord will return soon.
However, there arise more and more heresies and false ways as well, so we must watch and pray and adhere to the way of the Lord. If someone preaches that the Lord has returned, we must refuse to listen to, read, or get in touch with it, lest we be deceived and thus be abandoned by the Lord.” But many brothers and sisters are confused: “If we do not listen to, read, or get in touch with the messages of the Lord’s return for fear of being deceived, will we not be locking the door, refusing to let the Lord in? If we give up eating for fear of choking like this, can we welcome the Lord’s return?” So I want to ask a question: Is it right that we close our doors and wait alone for fear of being deceived? What are your opinions on this question? Please share with me.
Hello Brother Guangming:
I’ve received your e-mail, and the question you’ve brought up is very crucial because it is directly connected to whether or not we can welcome the Lord’s return. In fact, it is also the common confusion of many brothers and sisters in the Lord. Now let’s have a fellowship about it.
Things that come from God make us resolute and courageous; fear comes from Satan.
In the last days, the Lord will come again, and all manner of heresies and false ways will appear. These are facts. At this critical juncture of welcoming the Lord’s arrival, for fear of being deceived, we refuse to listen to, read or get in touch with any messages about the Lord’s return. In this way, although we won’t be deceived by false ways, we’ll easily close the door on the true God. It appears safe, but in fact, there is Satan’s plot in it. Satan is afraid that we actively seek the footprints of God and return before Him, so it does its utmost to send us its thoughts or spread heresies and lies to deceive and constrain us. As a result, we do nothing but defend passively and moreover, even if we’ve heard someone bearing witness to the Lord Jesus’ return, we don’t dare to seek or investigate. Then how could we welcome the Lord’s return this way? In welcoming the second coming of the Lord, if we take the defense against heresy and false doctrine as our primary mission but don’t attach importance to seeking and investigating the true way, isn’t it a case of being penny-wise and pound-foolish? As a matter of fact, no matter how we guard against heresy and false doctrine, if we do not welcome the return of the Lord and cannot be taken before God’s throne, we are foolish virgins who will be eliminated and forsaken by God in the end. We all know that God is almighty and that everything in the world is in God’s hands. Jehovah God said: “And lest your heart faint, and you fear for the rumor that shall be heard in the land” (Jeremiah 51:46). 2 Timothy 1:7 also says: “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” From these verses, we can see that what God gives us are strength and courage and that the source of fear is Satan. We have God’s care and protection and have the presence and leadership of the Holy Spirit; is there any need for us to worry about or be afraid of being deceived? The sheep of God hear God’s voice. Those who truly have brains and caliber will not be deceived by heresies and false ways. Only those who are confused and brainless can be deceived by heresies and false ways. I believe that, when we seek and examine the Lord’s return, as long as we sincerely rely on and look up to God, and seek the truth, we will obtain God’s leadership and guidance and be able to discern between the true way and false ways according to God’s words, and won’t be deceived by the false ways. Yet the pastors and elders ask us not to listen to, read or get in touch with the gospel of the Lord’s return. Obviously, it is in complete opposition to the will of the Lord. They are blocking us from investigating the true way and ruining the chance for us to welcome the Lord’s return. We must be clear about this.
Faith comes by hearing, so only by seeking and investigating can we gain the true way.
The Bible says: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). So we must hear the way first before believing in it. Only through hearing the way can we judge whether or not it is the true way and the appearance and work of God. Thinking back to the time when the Lord Jesus did His work, the Pharisees widely slandered and condemned Him and denied that His work is the true way; moreover, they deceived the Jewish people into not seeking or investigating. Unable to distinguish them, the Jewish people blindly listened to their words, thus refused to hear the Lord Jesus’ preaching, and committed the greatest of sins in following them to nail the Lord Jesus to the cross. But some people, such as Peter, Matthew, Mark, John, and so on, didn’t believe the rumors of the Pharisees, nor did they allow the fear of being deceived prevent them from hearing the gospel of the Lord. Instead, they listened to the Lord Jesus’ sermons with a heart of longing to seek, and listened to the Lord Jesus’ sermons wherever He was preaching. It was because they had a seeking and yearning heart that they recognized that the Lord Jesus’ words are authoritative and are the voice of God, finally ascertaining that He was the Messiah. They gained the salvation and blessings of God. Was all of this not because of their going out to hear sermons with a heart that seeks the truth?
It is mentioned many times in Revelation: “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (See Revelation 2–3). The Lord Jesus also said: “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him” (Matthew 25:6). The Lord Jesus clearly told us that He will speak again when He returns in the last days. And He will tell us He has come through someone’s calling. So, in the matter of welcoming the Lord’s return, we need to have a seeking heart. When we hear someone preaching that the Lord has returned, this is the Lord knocking at our door. We should be wise virgins, actively seek and investigate, pay attention to hearing God’s voice, and see whether or not this way has the truth and the Holy Spirit’s work. Only in this way can we welcome the Lord’s return.
It is key to learn how to distinguish the true way from false ways.
Now we know that if we want to welcome the Lord’s return, we need to actively seek instead of passively defending. In addition, the most critical aspect is that we must grasp the principles of distinguishing between the true way and the false ways. Only in this way will we not be deceived. So how should we discern between them? Let’s first take a look at a piece of words, “What is the most basic principle in seeking the true way? You have to look at whether or not there is the work of the Holy Spirit, whether or not these words are the expression of the truth, who is testified to, and what it can bring you. Distinguishing between the true way and the false way requires several aspects of basic knowledge, the most fundamental of which is to tell whether or not there is the work of the Holy Spirit. For the substance of man’s belief in God is the belief in the Spirit of God, and even his belief in God incarnate is because this flesh is the embodiment of the Spirit of God, which means that such belief is still the belief in the Spirit. There are differences between the Spirit and the flesh, but because this flesh comes from the Spirit, and is the Word become flesh, thus what man believes in is still the inherent substance of God. And so, in distinguishing whether or not it is the true way, above all you must look at whether or not there is the work of the Holy Spirit, after which you must look at whether or not there is the truth in this way. This truth is the life disposition of normal humanity, which is to say, that which was required of man when God created him in the beginning, namely, all of normal humanity (including human sense, insight, wisdom, and the basic knowledge of being man). That is, you need to look at whether or not this way takes man into a life of normal humanity, whether or not the truth that is spoken of is required according to the reality of normal humanity, whether or not this truth is practical and real, and whether or not it is most timely. If there is truth, then it is able to take man into normal and real experiences; man, furthermore, becomes ever more normal, man’s human sense becomes ever more complete, man’s life in the flesh and the spiritual life become ever more orderly, and man’s emotions become ever more normal. This is the second principle. There is one other principle, which is whether or not man has an increasing knowledge of God, whether or not experiencing such work and truth can inspire a love of God in him, and bring him ever closer to God. In this can be measured whether or not it is the true way. Most fundamental is whether this way is realistic rather than supernatural, and whether or not it is able to provide the life of man. If it conforms to these principles, the conclusion can be drawn that this way is the true way.” “If it is the work of the Holy Spirit, man becomes ever more normal, and his humanity becomes ever more normal. Man has an increasing knowledge of his disposition, which has been corrupted by Satan, and of the essence of man, and he has an ever greater longing for the truth. That is to say, the life of man grows and grows, and the corrupt disposition of man becomes capable of more and more changes — all of which is the meaning of God becoming the life of man. If a way is incapable of revealing those things that are the essence of man, is incapable of changing the disposition of man, and, moreover, is incapable of bringing him before God or giving him a true understanding of God, and even causes his humanity to become ever more lowly and his sense ever more abnormal, then this way must not be the true way, and it may be the work of an evil spirit, or the old way. In short, it cannot be the present work of the Holy Spirit.”
From this passage, we can see that if it is the true way, there must be the work of the Holy Spirit. This is the key to distinguishing the true way from false ways. Since it is the true way, it is surely the work of God Himself, and it must be upheld by the Holy Spirit. For example, when the Lord Jesus came to work, He ended the Age of Law, began the Age of Grace, and brought the way of repentance. All those who followed the Lord Jesus, as long as they sincerely call out to Him, would receive the work of the Holy Spirit and enjoy the abundant grace bestowed by the Lord. If people sinned, as long as they sincerely prayed to the Lord, their sins would be pardoned and their hearts would be full of peace and happiness. No matter what difficulties and problems people encountered, as long as they practiced according to the Lord’s words, their souls would gain freedom and release. If they didn’t do so, they would be filled with guilt and be indebted to the Lord in their hearts. As people continually experienced the Lord’s words and work, they had greater and greater faith in the Lord and their love for the Lord gradually grew deeper, so they were willing to put everything aside for the Lord and offer up their entire being to the Lord Jesus by spreading His gospel. Thus although the Lord Jesus’ work met with the unbridled condemnation and persecution of the Roman government and the Jewish religious world, His gospel still spectacularly spread throughout the entirety of Judea. All people who truly believed in God and yearned for the appearance of God accepted the Lord Jesus’ salvation and returned before God. After two thousand years, the Lord Jesus’ gospel has been preached to the ends of the universe and Christianity has been formalized as the state religion in many countries. And all of this is the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work. On the contrary, the false ways have no guidance or protection of the work of the Holy Spirit, so their followers won’t have true faith in God or true love for God. Moreover, no matter how passionate they are at the start in outward form, they will leave before long. This is as what we often say “What is from God will thrive and what is from man will perish.” Thus, we can discern whether it is the true way according to whether there is the work of the Holy Spirit or not.
In addition, if it is the true way, there must be the expression of the truth and life. The Lord Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). God is the source of life. Only God can express the truth, give life to us and provide for our present needs, and only God can point out to us practical paths, resolve all of our problems, puzzles and difficulties. For example, at the end of the Age of Law, no one could hold to God’s laws and commandments, and didn’t have enough sin offerings to atone for their sins, so they all faced the danger of being lawfully condemned and executed. Thus, in answer to the needs of the people of that time, God began the work of redeeming humanity. The Lord Jesus expressed many truths, taught us humans to love each other, be tolerant and patient, love our enemies, forgive others seventy times seven, and He also told us that, those who thirst and hunger for righteousness and are persecuted for righteousness’ sake are blessed and are people approved by God, while those who are hypocritical, deceive others and hate the truth will be hated and condemned by God. Besides, the Lord Jesus made various demands of us humans, such as bearing the cross to follow the Lord, worshiping the Lord in spirit and in truth, loving God with all our heart and soul, following God’s will, being honest people, and so on. From the Lord Jesus’ words we can understand God’s will and demands, and know what kind of person God likes and dislikes, what kind of people can enter the kingdom of heaven, how people should pursue to love God, how to treat others, etc. When we practice according to the Lord’s words, our difficulties, problems and puzzles are resolved, we grow to understand the truth more and more, our humanity becomes more and more normal, and our relationship with God grows closer. All of this is the effect of the Lord’s words upon us. From this we can see that the true way has the expression of the truth and life, and it can provide for people’s needs and can bring people new paths for practice. If a way can’t bring people the truth or point out to them new way to practice, but only repeats God’s previous work and words, only lets people understand some doctrines that appear true but are actually false, or just lets people stand by a few old rules, then it is not the true way; maybe it is the old way or the false way, or maybe it is the work of evil spirits and Satan that imitate God’s past work to deceive people.
The third principle we must consider in distinguishing the true way is to see whether this way gives people an increasing knowledge of God and whether it inspires a love of God in them. We all know that since God comes to do work, He will inevitably issue forth His disposition as well as all that He has and is. When people experience God’s work, they will naturally arrive at a genuine understanding of God. This is just as in the Age of Law, when Jehovah God issued forth laws to guide the lives of the people on earth. Regardless of whether someone was a priest who served God or a common person, as long as they complied with the law and the commandments, and acted according to the requirements of God, they would receive God’s blessings and approval. On the contrary, if the priests didn’t comply with the law and commandments, they would be incinerated by the fires of heaven; if someone among the common people violated the laws and commandments, they would be stoned to death. From their experience with God’s work, they recognized that God is Spirit and is everywhere, that God watches over the whole earth and looks within the depths of people’s hearts, and that God’s disposition is majesty, wrath, curse, burning, and is unoffendable by anyone. Thereby they developed a heart of reverence for God. In the Age of Grace, God incarnate came to earth to do a stage of work to redeem mankind. The Lord Jesus healed the sick and cast out demons, bestowed upon us people abundant grace, taught us to be tolerant and patient, love our enemies, forgive others seventy times seven, and so on. And He also personally acted as an exemplar for man. Through our experience with the Lord Jesus’ work, we recognized that apart from wrath, curse and burning, God’s disposition is also lovingkindness and mercy. We also saw that God could not only do work in the Spirit, but He could also take a humble human form, and speak face to face with us. He is full of love for people. He is full of tolerance…. And all this made us come to a new understanding of God and allowed us to see God’s humility and adorableness. The more we experience God’s work, the more we feel God’s supremacy and greatness, and feel that we are insignificant, and moreover we are able to achieve a true understanding of God’s holy and righteous disposition that is intolerant of offense. Thus, it is confirmed to us in our hearts that God’s disposition and all that He has and is are extremely deserving of man’s love. Then, we can’t help but develop a heart of genuine adoration, reverence and submission for God, and we increasingly long to live out the truth and become those of the same mind as God. Therefore, if it is the true way, it will make people understand more about God, and inspire greater understanding about God’s disposition, and thus they develop a heart of genuine love and reverence for God. However, the false way isn’t the work of God. It doesn’t contain God’s disposition or all that God has and is in the slightest, nor can it allow people to have any genuine or practical understanding of God, much less can it bring people any positive fruits or inspire people to love God.
These are the three principles of distinguishing between the true way and the false way. The Lord Jesus said: “Seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). I believe that, as long as we seek the truth sincerely, actively investigate, weigh and distinguish based on these three principles when hearing someone preaching the coming of the Lord, we will gain God’s guidance and enlightenment, hear God’s voice and welcome the Lord’s return. Oppositely, if we blindly adopt an approach whereby we don’t listen, don’t read, don’t get in touch, and isolate ourselves behind closed doors for fear of being deceived by the false ways, then we will never welcome the Lord’s return because of not eating for fear of choking.
Brother Guangming, I hope this fellowship will be of help to you. If you have any other problems, please write back.
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