By Chu Keen Pong, Malaysia
I believed in the Lord for over a decade and served in the church for two years, and then left my church behind to go abroad for work. I went to quite a few places, including Singapore, and earned a decent amount of money, but living in this existence in modern society where might makes right, everyone’s scheming against each other, and there’s treachery everywhere. In the face of all manner of complex interpersonal dealings, I was always on my guard against others. They were also always on their guard against me, leaving me with a feeling deep down inside that I couldn’t find any stable ground to stand on. That kind of life left me exhausted in body and spirit. The only thing that offered me any consolation was the diary I carried with me in which I had copied some passages of Scripture. Sometimes I would read them and they would fill an emptiness in my soul. I hadn’t been to a church gathering in a number of years but over the past year I had just had one thing in mind: to find a church in which I could serve the Lord in earnest. I later took advantage of some free time to go to a number of churches in Malaysia, both large and small, but every time I trotted in merrily and left feeling dejected. I always felt something was lacking inside, but I could never put words to exactly what it was. Faced with this conflict I went to another extreme, just playing video games and watching movies online, sometimes staying up playing until dawn or watching one movie after another. My sleep schedule was a mess. When I first started doing this I had a bit of awareness, feeling that the Lord wouldn’t be pleased, but I gradually became numb. It was during that time that I lost my cell phone. At the time, I felt really put out—my cell phone was gone and a lot of data had gone with it, plus I had no way to log in to Facebook. On the surface, this was a bad thing, but I never expected that it would be a turning point for my life. It’s just like the old saying, “a blessing in disguise.”
I bought a new cell phone in early 2017. One day in late February, I logged into Facebook and then inadvertently clicked on the timeline of an English-language profile, and saw that there was scripture in the posts. I also saw quotes that were not from the Bible, yet they were really inspiring for me, and they really drew me in emotionally. I kept my eye on that Facebook account for the next few days, and even spent some time looking up some words. Finally, I finished reading the post that I was interested in. Only after reading it did I realize that the main content of this post was an interpretation of the passage of Scripture in which the Lord Jesus says: “Not every one that said to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 7:21). I felt that this was quite a unique interpretation, and that it was full of inspiration and light. I hadn’t added that person as a friend, so though I wanted to see more posts on their timeline, I wasn’t able to. What I was able to see on their timeline, however, was that this Facebook user was from South Korea and was a sister named Susan. I sent her a friend request, but she probably wasn’t online at the time and so didn’t accept my request right away. Two days later, I added another Chinese-speaking person on Facebook named Qi Fei, another Christian from South Korea. She chatted with me about some of her experiences in her faith, and I really liked what she had to say. To my surprise, Sister Qi Fei was also friends with Sister Susan, so this time we added each other as friends. By reading their Facebook posts and through our occasional chats, I came to feel that they understood a lot about faith in God.
After some time of discussing the Bible and chatting about things in our lives, I really felt that their approach to helping me address some of my vexations was really unique, and that there was a lot of reason and insight in what they said. I could see firsthand that they were different from other people. I felt more stable and at peace within my heart through being in contact with them, and even though I didn’t know them very well, before I realized it, I had started to think of them as close friends because of their simplicity and honesty. I wanted to lay my heart bare to them. Gradually, I started to make some changes in how I lived my life.
About a week later on the evening of March 11, I got on Facebook and saw that Susan was online. I chatted with her about some work stuff first, then told her about my heart’s desire, to find a church to serve in, and that I wanted to hear her suggestions. Sister Susan said that everything is arranged and ruled by God, and that I should pray more to God and engage in seeking on this issue. She said that everything has a time appointed by God, and we should all learn to wait and submit. She then brought up the current situation in many of the churches: The preachers have nothing left to preach about, some churches don’t have anyone attending gatherings, and in others, even if there are some people there, they’re all just talking about making money, making business connections, and other things totally unrelated to faith. She said that these things are actually all manifestations of churches no longer having the work of the Holy Spirit, and having become desolate. I could really identify with everything she had said. When I was serving in the church before, co-workers were scrambling to make a name and make some money for themselves, scheming against each other, slandering each other, and trying to lord over their own little territories. There was even licentious behavior. Seeing these things happening one after another, I felt both depressed and indignant. At the time, I asked the pastor and some of my co-workers how I should look at all of this, but they couldn’t offer a clear explanation. To my great surprise, it was Sister Susan who resolved this confusion that had vexed me for so long. I felt an inexpressible sort of happiness within my heart.
We also explored the topic of the various disasters and wars occurring at the time, and judging by the signs of disasters all around and of imminent wars, the biblical prophecies of the Lord’s second coming had basically all been fulfilled, and the Lord would soon return. That reminded me of a believer I had met online around midday who said that the Lord had returned in 1991, but I really had my doubts about that. I simply had to ask Susan about this. When she asked me what I thought about it, I said: “There’s no way. When the Lord returns He’ll definitely descend upon a cloud and will be seen by everyone. But we haven’t seen the Lord descending on a cloud, so how could anyone say that the Lord has already returned?”
Susan responded, “Brother, you’re well-versed in the Bible. If you examine the words of the Bible closely, I’m sure you’ll find your answer. In fact, there are a lot of different prophecies regarding the Lord’s second coming. We can all see from the biblical prophecies that they primarily fall into two categories. One is as you just described, prophesying that the Lord will openly descend on a cloud and be seen by everyone. The other kind prophesies the Lord’s secret advent, which only a certain group of people will be aware of. It is just as the Lord Jesus said: ‘Behold, I come as a thief’ (Revelation 16:15). ‘And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him’ (Matthew 25:6). ‘[A]s a thief’ and ‘at midnight there was a cry made’ mean it will be silent and motionless, unknown to anyone. The heavens will not sound and the earth will not shake—it won’t be something that everyone can see. There is only a small group of people able to hear the Lord’s voice, who are able to welcome Him. These are the prophecies of the Lord coming in secret. If we cling only to the prophecies of the Lord descending openly on a cloud but neglect the prophecies of the Lord coming in secret, is that right? Then wouldn’t we fail to hear the voice of the Lord, and miss our opportunity to welcome the Lord and be raised up into the heavenly kingdom?”
I was stumped by Susan’s question. I read these two passages over and over again, and thought: “Could there be contradictions within the Bible? No, no, no! How could that be? But in fact, there are two different categories of biblical prophecies about how the Lord will return! How can this be explained?” Confused, I asked her to continue with her fellowship. Susan said: “We can see from the prophecies in the Bible that the second coming of the Lord will occur in two different ways. One is the hidden advent, and one is openly appearing. In the last days, God will become flesh in the world as the Son of man, and on the outside Christ will appear to be an ordinary, common person just like the Lord Jesus in the flesh. He will possess humanity, and will eat, dress, live, and act just like an ordinary person. He will live among man, and so this is considered hidden from our perspective because no one will see that He is God, and no one will know His true identity. Once the Son of man begins to work and speak, those who are able to hear God’s voice will see the expression of God’s disposition through the words and work of the Son of man. They will see God’s authority and power, and will recognize that the Lord has come. This will fulfill the Lord Jesus’ prophecy: ‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me’ (John 10:27). Those who are unable to discern the voice of God are sure to treat the incarnate God as an ordinary person based on His outer appearance. They will deny and reject, and even resist, condemn, and blaspheme Christ of the last days. This is just like when the Lord Jesus came to do His work—on the outside, He appeared to be an ordinary, common Son of man, leading the majority of people to deny, resist, and condemn Him. Only a small group of people recognized through His words and work that the Lord Jesus was the incarnate Christ, that He was the manifestation of God, and thus followed the Lord Jesus and attained His redemption.” Hearing the sister’s fellowship, I felt it made a lot of sense because these were all facts—that’s really how it was when the Lord Jesus came to perform His work. But then I thought: It says in Revelation that when the Lord returns He will openly descend on a cloud, and that’s what the pastors and elders all say, too. With this in mind, I immediately asked Susan, full of conviction: “The Lord Jesus Himself said that His second coming would be upon a cloud. How could it be an incarnation? How can you deny those words of the Bible?” Sister Susan said: “You just need to investigate the Bible very carefully and you will discover that there are many places that clearly prophesy that the Lord will return incarnate.” In light of what Sister Susan said, I found some passages of Scripture and began to read: “Be you therefore ready also: for the Son of man comes at an hour when you think not” (Luke 12:40). “For as the lightning, that lightens out of the one part under heaven, shines to the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in His day. But first must He suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation” (Luke 17:24–25).
After I finished reading these scripture passages, Sister Susan said: “These prophecies mention ‘the Son of man comes’ and ‘so shall also the Son of man be.’ The ‘Son of man’ is born of a human and possesses normal humanity. If He manifested in a spiritual body, then He could not be referred to as the Son of man, just as Jehovah God is the Spirit and cannot be called the Son of man. People have also seen angels, which are spiritual beings and so cannot be called the Son of man either. All who have a human form but are spiritual beings cannot be called the Son of man. The incarnate Lord Jesus is called the Son of man and Christ because He was the fleshly incarnation of God’s Spirit, and the realization of the Spirit in the flesh. He became an ordinary, common man, and lived among man. The Lord Jesus was the Son of man, the incarnation of God, so when the Lord Jesus said He would return again as the Son of man, He meant that He will come again in a physical body as the Son of man, and not in spiritual form. Therefore, when the Lord Jesus said He will come again, He meant that He will return in the form of an incarnation. Furthermore, the Scripture says: ‘But first must He suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.’ This further proves that when the Lord comes again it will be in the manner of the incarnation. Think about it: If the Lord appeared to us upon His return in a spiritual body rather than a fleshly body, He wouldn’t suffer as much, much less be rejected by this generation. Who would dare reject the Spirit of God? Who would be able to cause God’s Spirit to suffer? Therefore, as for whether the Lord will return incarnate or come in a spiritual body, doesn’t it go without saying?”
I was astonished at reading the words “Son of man.” I had thought in the past about the question of the “Son of man,” but it had never been clear to me. Sister Susan’s explanation completely resolved all my doubts, and I was overcome with emotion when I heard it. It had gotten late, so we said our goodbyes and logged off. I was so excited that night that I couldn’t sleep until it was very late. I thought about how I had believed in the Lord for so many years, but had never heard such wonderful fellowship. I was stunned, and there was a kind of blissful clarity in my heart that I could not put into words.