By Joey, the United States
Editor’s Note: Many people have seen in the Bible how the God of heaven refers to the Lord Jesus as His beloved Son and how the Lord Jesus prays to the God of heaven calling Him Father. As such, they come to believe that the gender of God is male and that when the Lord returns, He must do so as a man. However, does this idea accord with the truth? Will the Lord appear and do work according to people’s notions? Today, let us look for the answer together in Joey’s experiences.
An Outdoor Movie Provided a Spiritual Awakening
One evening in June of 2018 while supervising my son as he played in the park, I happened to notice that some people were projecting a movie nearby, so, curious, I walked over to see what movie was playing. It turned out they were showing the Christian documentary, The One Who Holds Sovereignty Over Everything. The film featured majestic and beautiful scenes and the music was as melodious as the singing of angels. I was immediately drawn in and took out my phone to record the movie as I watched. I couldn’t help but gasp with admiration. In just ninety short minutes, the movie covered how God has commanded and ruled man’s fate from the time of genesis up until the present day. What a magnificent film!
I saw in the end credits that the film had been produced by The Church of Almighty God and thought to myself that this must be a very good church to be able to bear such great testament to God. This led me to think of my own church by comparison: The pastors’ sermons were uninspired and they only talked about making donations to the church and being wary of other denominations. The sermons were so boring that many parishioners would end up falling asleep while listening. The pastors were also very money-minded—they didn’t pay the least bit of attention to the poorer parishioners, but would pull out all the stops for the richer parishioners, greeting them as they came and seeing them out after services. I very much disliked how the pastors went against God’s teachings and failed to treat people equally. Later, I went to a different church to investigate, but the situation there was more or less the same. Having thought of all this, I became very sad—it was as if the church no longer had the presence of God. I thought of how the pastors would often say that these are the end times, the prophecies of the Lord’s coming have been fulfilled and He will soon return. Yet, the only church in the world to bear testimony to the news of the Lord’s return is Eastern Lightning and they say that He has come back as a woman to appear and do work. This is impossible! The Bible clearly states that the relationship between Jehovah God and the Lord Jesus is “Father and Son”—this proves that God is male and that when He comes back, He will also definitely be male. How could He become a woman?
Feeling Conflicted After an Encounter With Eastern Lightning
Half a year later, I attended a birthday celebration for a friend of mine. At the celebration, I met a preacher named Brother Liu and several other brothers and sisters with whom I was unacquainted. Because the pastors had always warned us to be wary of strangers preaching the way of Eastern Lightning, I was, at the time, careful to keep them at arm’s length. Despite that, everyone was speaking in a free and unrestrained manner about their experiences with their belief in God as well as the dire state of the church. When it was time to eat, the preacher Brother Liu said grace and led prayer, saying, “Dear God! We all feel as though the church is in a bleak and desolate state and has encountered all manner of difficulties. We all anxiously await Your appearance and yearn to find a church that has the work of the Holy Spirit. Oh God! We are willing to hand this problem over to You and ask that You guide us! We believe that our meeting here today is with Your kind intentions and ask that You guide us brothers and sisters as we fellowship.” In stark contrast to the high-flown rhetoric that I was used to hearing in the pastors’ prayers, the brother’s prayer felt very kind and sincere—each word seemed to speak my innermost thoughts. Just this short prayer had already drawn me much closer to the brothers and sisters and had allowed me to open up after initially having been very closed off. It was as if these brothers and sisters that I had just met were already very close friends.
While we were eating, I confided to the brothers and sisters how I had been confused over the bleakness and desolation in the church. Brother Liu said that the reason for the bleakness and desolation in the church was that most of the religious leaders failed to respect and follow the Lord’s word, didn’t guide believers in practicing the Lord’s word, didn’t take lawless acts in the church seriously, only explained biblical knowledge to show themselves off, didn’t testify to or exalt God in the least, and had completely diverged from God’s way. As such, they had lost the work of the Holy Spirit. He also discussed how the fact that so many lawless acts went on in the church was a sign that God had already left the religious places and that the Holy Spirit no longer worked there. He said that if one wanted to attain the work of the Holy Spirit, they must search for God’s footsteps. I felt that Brother Liu’s fellowship was very insightful and had the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and so I hurriedly took out a pen and paper and took notes as he spoke.
After dinner, Brother Liu fellowshiped with us regarding the way in which the Lord returns, the mystery and truth of the incarnation, the truth of the three stages of God’s work, and how to discern between the true Christ and false Christs, among other topics. From listening to the brother’s fellowship, it seemed to me that he was testifying that the Lord Jesus had already returned. I also heard the brother mention the phrase “the lightning comes out of the east” several times. I was shocked and couldn’t help but ask: “Brother Liu, is what you’ve said today the preaching of Eastern Lightning? I’ve heard that only people from Eastern Lightning testify that the Lord has returned.”
The brother smiled and nodded his head saying, “That’s right, sister, the Lord Jesus truly has returned. The name Eastern Lightning comes precisely from Lord Jesus’ prophecy, ‘For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even to the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be’ (Matthew 24:27). What this prophecy is saying is that God’s work in the last days will be short and quick, just like a bolt of lightning—”
Before Brother Liu had finished speaking, I could already tell that he was indeed preaching an Eastern Lightning sermon, and so I made an excuse to leave. When I returned home, I felt conflicted and very unhappy—I didn’t want to acknowledge that the sermon which Brother Liu had preached was that of Eastern Lightning. I thought to myself, “Brother Liu’s fellowship was so insightful and illuminating, nothing like the heresies the pastors spout. Did I misunderstand Brother Liu?” I couldn’t help but go online and search for Eastern Lightning. The information I found said that Eastern Lightning does indeed testify that the Lord has returned as a woman. I felt deeply unsettled, thinking to myself, “If that’s the case then the preachings of Eastern Lightning certainly can’t be right. There is just no way that the Lord will return as a woman. If you take the wrong road you can always turn around and go back, but if you betray God, there’s no taking it back. In the future, I shouldn’t listen to any more of their preaching.”
However, I couldn’t get the news of the Lord’s return out of my mind. That night, I absentmindedly opened up the notebook containing the notes I had made that day during the birthday celebration and thought back on Brother Liu’s fellowship. I thought to myself, “In all my years in the church, I never understood the truths that Brother Liu fellowshiped on today. Could it be that the God to which Eastern Lightning testifies truly is the returned Lord Jesus? If I don’t go and listen and miss out on the opportunity to welcome the Lord’s return, will I have not practiced faith in vain all these years? But Eastern Lightning is clearly wrong to testify that the Lord has returned as a woman. The Bible says that Jehovah is God the Father and the Lord Jesus is the Holy Son, They are both men. So when the Lord comes back, He should be a man, and cannot possibly be a woman….” I went back and forth arguing with myself and, not knowing what to do, I silently prayed to God saying, “Lord! I think Brother Liu fellowshiped very well and his preaching was in keeping with the Bible. I’m worried that if I don’t continue to listen and You do really come, I’ll have missed my opportunity. Yet, I also worry that maybe I’m wrong to continue listening and may, in this way, betray You. I just don’t know what to do now. Dear God, please help and guide me.”
Notions Are the Root Cause of Delimitation of God
Thanks be to God, not long after I finished my prayer, a friend called me and invited me to come listen to a sermon together. The friend also recommended that I directly voice my confusions to Brother Liu and seek to understand the relevant truth, and only make a decision about whether I would continue to listen after my confusions had been resolved. The friend’s words were a total revelation for me. Of course! Wrong or right, I should wait until I had sought and understood before coming to a decision. In this way, I wouldn’t have to go back and forth with myself as I had been. If I never resolved my confusions and lived blindly through my own notions without listening to this other perspective and it turned out that the God to whom Eastern Lightning bears witness truly is the returned Lord Jesus, then I would be resisting and abandoning God and my regret would come too late. As such, I decided to go and listen to Brother Liu’s fellowship with my friend.
On this, my second time meeting Brother Liu, I asked him, “Brother, you say that Eastern Lightning is the appearance and work of the returned Lord Jesus, but I’ve heard that Eastern Lightning claims that the Lord Jesus has come again as a woman, how can this be?”
The brother smiled and said, “Sister, is there any evidence in the Bible to support our belief that when the Lord comes again He will not do so in female form? Did the Lord Jesus say this? Did the prophets prophesy this? If not, then is this belief not based on our notions and imagination? Is it not our own delimitation? God has said: ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, said Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’ (Isaiah 55:8–9). God is the Lord of creation, His ways are wondrous and unpredictable. Thus, each time God performs a stage of work, it will invariably exceed our notions and imagination. Especially with something as important as the Lord’s return, would it not be even more likely to be invested with God’s wisdom? If we always delimit and measure God’s work according to our own thoughts, we will invariably resist God! This would be just like how the Pharisees, having read in Scripture that the Messiah would be their salvation, went by their own notions and imagination in thinking that when God returned, His name must be Messiah and He must be of royal birth. However, when the Lord Jesus came to do His work, the circumstances of His arrival profoundly contradicted people’s prior notions—He was not called the Messiah, was born in a manger (not in the royal palace) and grew up in a family of carpenters. Though the Pharisees clearly knew that the Lord Jesus’ words and work had authority and power, they didn’t investigate or seek. Rather, because the Lord Jesus’ work didn’t fit with their notions and imagination, they did not recognize Him as the Messiah and nailed Him to the cross, ultimately offending God’s disposition and becoming evil-doing resistors of God. Thus, we ought to take the Pharisees as an example and refrain from delimiting God’s work as they did at all costs. No matter how much God’s work doesn’t accord with our notions, we ought to humbly and modestly seek with regard to His work.”
After hearing Brother Liu’s fellowship, I felt thoroughly convinced and ashamed. I thought, “That’s right, God is the Creator. How could I, a human being as insignificant as a mote of dust, ever comprehend and delimit the work of God in all His exaltedness? If I don’t understand, I can first submit and begin seeking!”
Learning the True Meaning of “The Father and the Son”
Having realized all this, I said, “Brother Liu, what you’ve fellowshiped is true, no one can fathom God’s thoughts. If we delimit God based upon our notions, we are likely to resist God. I shouldn’t cling to my own notions and should seek the truth with regard to that which I don’t understand. Because in the past I had seen that, in the Bible, the Lord Jesus refers to Jehovah God as Father and Jehovah God refers to the Lord Jesus as His beloved Son, I thought that when the Lord returns He will come as a man and not as a woman because “Father” and “Son” are both male appellations. If my understanding is incorrect, why does the Bible record it as such? I don’t understand this, could you fellowship for us on this point?”
Brother Liu smiled and nodded his head, saying, “Sister, you’ve raised a good question. Many people believe that God must be male based on the fact that the Bible records how the Holy Spirit testifies that the Lord Jesus is the “beloved Son” and the Lord Jesus prays to the God of heaven as “Father.” Actually, this is entirely because we don’t understand God’s will and interpret scriptures based upon our literal understanding of the text. So what is meant by “Father and Son” as is written in the Bible? Almighty God’s word has revealed this aspect of the truth and mystery for us. Let’s see what Almighty God has to say on this issue. Sister, do you mind reading this passage?”
I read: “When Jesus called God in heaven by the name of Father as He prayed, this was done only from the perspective of a created man, only because the Spirit of God had put on an ordinary and normal flesh and had the exterior cover of a created being. Even if within Him was the Spirit of God, His exterior appearance was still that of an ordinary man; in other words, He had become the ‘Son of man’ of which all men, including Jesus Himself, spoke. Given that He is called the Son of man, He is a person (whether man or woman, in any case one with the exterior shell of a human being) born into a normal family of ordinary people. Therefore, Jesus calling God in heaven by the name of Father was the same as how you at first called Him Father; He did so from the perspective of a man of creation. Do you still remember the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus taught you to memorize? ‘Our Father in heaven….’ He asked all man to call God in heaven by the name of Father. And since He too called Him Father, He did so from the perspective of one who stands on an equal footing with you all.” “There are still those who say, ‘Did not God expressly state that Jesus was His beloved Son?’ Jesus is the beloved Son of God, in whom He is well pleased—this was certainly spoken by God Himself. That was God bearing witness to Himself, but merely from a different perspective, that of the Spirit in heaven bearing witness to His own incarnation. Jesus is His incarnation, not His Son in heaven. Do you understand? Do not the words of Jesus, ‘I am in the Father, and the Father in Me,’ indicate that They are one Spirit? And is it not because of the incarnation that They were separated between heaven and earth? In reality, They are still one; no matter what, it is simply God bearing witness to Himself.”
When I finished reading God’s word, Brother Liu fellowshiped saying: “Almighty God’s word states very clearly, the Lord Jesus is the incarnation of God Himself, He is God’s Spirit in human form and is Jehovah God coming to earth to do His work. As for when the Lord Jesus was baptized and a voice called out saying “This is My beloved Son,” this was God speaking from the perspective of the Spirit to bear witness to the fact that the Lord Jesus is the incarnation of God Himself. This is because, at the time, this was the first time that God had incarnated in the flesh to do His work and man was not yet acquainted with God incarnate. They even treated God incarnate like a normal human being. As such, if the Holy Spirit had testified that the Lord Jesus was God Himself, no one at the time would have accepted it and this would have had a negative influence on the development of God’s work of redemption. Thus, God adjusted His testimony to the stature of the people at that time, testifying that the Lord Jesus is the beloved Son of God. This facilitated people’s acceptance of the Lord Jesus’ salvation. As for why the Lord Jesus called Jehovah God “Father” in His prayers, this was because the Lord Jesus was incarnated as the Son of man, and so He prayed to the Spirit of God from the perspective of a created being. From this, we can see that God was particularly humble and hidden and didn’t reveal Himself as God the Creator. In this way, He didn’t give people the impression that God is unfathomable and unapproachable, which allowed people to draw closer to Him. However, we cannot claim that the Lord Jesus and the God of heaven are “Father and Son” just because the Lord Jesus called God “Father.” This is unsuitable. What’s more, as soon as God’s work in incarnated form was finished and the Lord Jesus ascended into heaven, there was no longer any “Father and Son” relationship to speak of. Thus, these names do not refer to God being male—we must understand the true meaning of the scriptures. Gender is a distinction which can be made among created beings, but if we say God is a man or woman, this is tantamount to treating God like any normal human being. This is blasphemous to God, and He detests such behavior.”
After hearing God’s word and Brother Liu’s fellowship, everything suddenly made sense. I said, “As it turns out, this passage of scripture is not talking about God’s gender. When the Lord Jesus referred to Jehovah God as “Father,” He did so from the perspective of a created being. The notion that God is a man was merely the product of my imagination. I really was delimiting God!”
Doing Away With Past Notions, I Learned of the Mystery of God’s Gender
Brother smiled and continued his fellowship, saying, “Now let us fellowship a little more. Why is it that God has incarnated in the last days to do His work as a woman? What is the meaning of this? Let us see what Almighty God has to say about this. Sister, why don’t you read a little more for us!”
I looked at my computer and with much concentration, I read the following passage, “Each stage of work done by God has its own practical significance. Back then, when Jesus came, He was male, and when God comes this time, He is female. From this, you can see that God created both male and female for the sake of His work, and with Him there is no distinction of gender. When His Spirit comes, He can take on any flesh He pleases, and that flesh can represent Him; whether male or female, it can represent God as long as it is His incarnate flesh. If Jesus had appeared as a female when He came, in other words, if an infant girl, and not a boy, had been conceived by the Holy Spirit, that stage of work would have been completed all the same. If that had been the case, then the present stage of work would have to be completed by a male instead, but the work would be completed all the same. The work done in either stage is equally significant; neither stage of work is repeated, nor does it conflict with the other. At the time, Jesus, in doing His work, was called the only Son, and ‘Son’ implies the male gender. Why is the only Son not mentioned in this current stage? Because the requirements of the work have necessitated a change in gender from that of Jesus. With God there is no distinction of gender. He does His work as He wishes, and in doing His work He is not subject to any restrictions, but is especially free. Yet every stage of work has its own practical significance. God became flesh twice, and it is self-evident that His incarnation during the last days is the final time. He has come to make known all His deeds. If in this stage He did not become flesh in order personally to do work for man to witness, man would forever cling to the notion that God is only male, not female.”
“If God came into the flesh only as a male, people would define Him as male, as the God of men, and would never believe Him to be the God of women. Men would then hold that God is of the same gender as men, that God is the head of men—but what then of women? This is unfair; is it not preferential treatment? If this were the case, then all those whom God saved would be men like Him, and not one woman would be saved. When God created mankind, He created Adam and He created Eve. He did not only create Adam, but made both male and female in His image. God is not only the God of men—He is also the God of women.”
Brother Liu fellowshiped saying, “Actually, God was originally the Spirit, and had no gender to speak of. It was only because of the particular requirements of the work of salvation that God became flesh and took on male or female form. However, no matter whether God incarnates as a male or a female, in essence He is still God Himself and is capable of issuing the truth and completing God’s work of salvation of mankind. If the Lord Jesus had carried out that stage of work in female form, He still would have completed the work of redemption of mankind. God’s work is not at all restricted by gender. What’s more, God has a complete understanding of our nature and knows that we are liable to delimit Him, so He knew that if He had once again incarnated in male form, people would develop the notion that God is eternally male and this would be a blasphemy to God. We would also come to believe that men are more important than women and, as such, women would always think of themselves as inferior to men. This would be in complete contradiction to God’s original intent in creating mankind. God is the Lord of all created beings. Not only did He create men, He also created women. Not only does He save men, He also saves women. So God’s incarnation in the last days as a woman, is a refutation of man’s notions and helps us to resolve our conceptions of God and no longer delimit God. We can see from this that God’s incarnation in the last days as a woman is extremely meaningful and is done so that He may save mankind more efficaciously. From this, we can observe God’s love and, even more so, His almightiness and wisdom.”
After hearing God’s words and Brother Liu’s fellowship, I attained a clear understanding. I knew that God has no gender and only incarnates and takes on male or female form to save mankind. However, no matter whether His fleshly body is male or female, in essence, He is still God Himself and can carry out God’s work of salvation of mankind. At the same time, God’s incarnation as a woman truly is a retort against our notions. Just as how, insofar as I always believed that God is male, if God didn’t change His gender this time, I would have delimited God as being male, which is tantamount to regarding the incarnated Christ as a mere man. This is a blasphemy to God. Thanks be to God for guiding me to reverse my ridiculous conceptions regarding God.
I excitedly said, “Brother Liu, now I completely understand—no matter whether the incarnation of God is a man or a woman, He always is an incarnation of the Spirit of God and is capable of doing the work of salvation of mankind. Thanks be to God. I always thought that your fellowship of the truth was great and insightful, but I just couldn’t get the notion out of my head that ‘God could not become a woman.’ As a result, I almost failed to investigate. Thanks be to God! It’s a good thing I came, because now I completely understand.”
The sisters and brothers were all very happy to hear what I had said and after we had all discussed our thoughts and reflections, Brother Liu suggested that we watch a movie. When I saw that the movie he wanted to play was The One Who Holds Sovereignty Over Everything, I was so surprised and excitedly remarked: “I’ve seen this movie, it’s beautifully filmed! Before, I didn’t know that The Church of Almighty God is what people often call Eastern Lightning and really wanted to know where this Church of Almighty God was. As it turns out, you are all brothers and sisters of The Church of Almighty God. Thanks be to God!”
Putting Faith in Almighty God, Starting a New Life
After that, I began participating in The Church of Almighty God’s church life. This church life is full of God’s abundant supply—there are movies, videos, song and dance videos, stage musicals, music videos, skits, cross talk and more. They have everything you could possibly think of and so there’s no end to the enjoyment. During meetings, my brothers and sisters all fellowship about their understanding of God’s word, everyone lays bare their own corruption and seeks the truth to find the resolution. This kind of church life is just great and is very beneficial for my life entry. In this short time, I’ve already noticed clear improvements in my life entry and my relationship with God is more and more normal. Thanks and praise be to Almighty God!