Several clusters of white clouds drifting in the blue sky, Bai Hua was on the way to the church, descrying the red roof of it. She felt blue now, with her heart overflowing with puzzle and confusion.
A little while later, she arrived at the door of the church. After calming down, with slow steps, she walked into the church. In the spacious church sat a dozen people who whispered in twos and threes. Standing at the door and having a look around, she said in a somewhat heavy tone, “Brothers and sisters, this morning Brother Yu was taken back to the heavenly home by our heavenly Father.” Hearing this news, everyone appeared surprised, whispering to each other and discussing about it. Sister Han said, “How is that even possible? I came across him in the market and gave him a greeting the day before yesterday. How come he suddenly passed away?” Bai Hua replied, “Yesterday Brother Yu had a traffic accident on the way to his son’s house. Then he was hurried to the hospital for rescue, but it was too late. This morning he passed away. In addition, there will be a farewell ceremony in the funeral parlour at seven o’clock tomorrow morning. I wish that everyone can attend it.”
Just as brothers and sisters discussed, Bai Hua mounted the pulpit, and said, “Everyone, quiet down.” Then everyone all turned their eyes to her. “Brothers and sisters,” she said seriously, “I often think that though we have believed in the Lord, we still often lie and deceive others, be jealous and disputatious, and cannot treat others fairly. Then, can we, who still commit sins too often, really be raptured into the kingdom of heaven? Can sinners be permitted to enter the kingdom of heaven? I often feel confused about this question.”
Seeing Bai Hua change her previous manner of a preacher, brothers and sisters all felt a bit surprised, and then perked up. The atmosphere of the gathering seemed to be more relaxing than before. Everyone was to say what they liked. Luo Tao said with assurance, “Sister Bai, what’s the matter with you today? Before, you usually interpreted this verse of the Bible to us: ‘Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord’ (1 Thessalonians 4:17). According to Paul’s words, we can know that whether man is dead or alive, he will be caught up into the kingdom of heaven later. What’s there to doubt!” Hearing this, some people nodded in agreement, while Bai Hua frowned, as if in thought.
Then, with doubt, Sister Xia Han said, “It’s Paul’s word. Does it accord with the Lord’s will? Recently, I keep on pondering over the Lord Jesus’ words, ‘Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven’ (Matthew 6:9-10). From these verses, we can see that God’s kingdom will descend on earth and His will also will be done on earth. Don’t they give revelation to us that God’s kingdom will be built on earth? Otherwise, why did the Lord teach us to pray in this way? Yet Paul said that the Lord would take us into the air, so doesn’t his word run counter to the Lord’s will?” Hearing her words, brothers and sisters laid their heads together, and some scratched their heads. Bai Hua thought Xia Han’s fellowship was fresh and in lighting, which she never thought about. She silently pondered in her heart: Right, the Lord’s will is to build His kingdom on earth. I recite the Lord’s Prayer every day, but how come I did not think of this?
Sister Zhang Fang, a co-worker, said, “Sister Xia Han, we have maintained all along that the Lord will take us into the kingdom of heaven when He comes. Why do you have doubts about it today? I don’t understand the Lord Jesus’ words. However, in my view, since it is the kingdom of heaven, it should be in heaven. How can it be on earth? I can’t figure it out.”
Hearing brothers’ and sisters’ discussion, Bai Hua continued to say, “Brothers and sisters, quiet down. Now that we’ve mentioned this today, let’s discuss about it peaceably. What Sister Xia Han fellowshiped is indeed very thought-provoking. In the past, we all pursued to be raptured into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord comes, but we didn’t know where the kingdom of heaven is.Hearing Sister Xia Han’s fellowship, I think of the words in 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) and ‘And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever’ (Revelation 11:15). These prophecies mention ‘the tabernacle of God is with men’ and ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ.’ From this we can see that God’s kingdom will be built on earth. Let Sister Xia Han fellowship more with us.” Then she turned to face Sister Xia Han, continuing saying, “Sister Xia Han, I heard that you had come out of the church to seek and investigate the true way some time ago. Do you find it? Is the light in your fellowship gained from your hearing sermons outside? Please fellowship more with us.” Hearing Bai Hua’s words, everyone turned their eyes on Xia Han.
Xia Han said calmly and collectedly, “Not to conceal anything, these days I did get out to seek the Holy Spirit’s work. Now various signs show that the prophecies of the Lord’s return have been fulfilled. This shows the Lords has returned. Recently, I got a spiritual book from my cousin. The words in this book are beneficial and helpful to me. And I think it’s the voice of the Holy Spirit. When we fellowshiped that the Lord will bring the saints into the kingdom of heaven when He comes in the last days, my cousin fellowshiped to me, ‘The kingdom of heaven means the kingdom of God and of Christ.’ In the past, we all thought that the kingdom of heaven was in heaven. Actually, where God’s kingdom is cannot be defined by us men.”
At these words, the church got in uproar, “The kingdom of heaven means God’s kingdom. It is in accordance with the Lord’s will to comprehend in this way. How come we never thought about it?” “Yes, we thought that the kingdom of heaven was in heaven. How vague it is! There is no water or food in heaven. How can we live in heaven?” “Right. The Lord Jesus said that God’s kingdom was on earth and we have read the Bible many times, yet how come we still didn’t understand it?” “Sister Xia Han fellowshiped more clearly. Let her fellowship more with us …”
At that time, Zhang Fang felt rather embarrassed, but still said defiantly, “If what you said—God’s kingdom will be on earth—is right, then which place actually will the Lord take us to when He comes back? How do you explain the verse mentioning ‘… shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air’?” Without any words to say for a moment, everyone turned their heads to Xia Han. Also, Bai Hua was with evident expectation.
Xia Han continued to fellowship patiently, “With regard to ‘being caught up,’ most people think that when the Lord comes, He will take the saints into the air to meet Him. Similarly, I had yearned and waited for being caught up for many years. However, through seeking and investigating, I gained the enlightenment and illumination from the Holy Spirit and had a different understanding of being caught up. I will read a passage of words, and everyone will understand after hearing it.” Then she took up her notebook and read, “‘Being caught up’ is not being taken from a low place to a high place as people imagine. This is a huge mistake. Being caught up is referring to My predetermining and selecting. It is targeted at all those I have preordained and chosen. Those who have gained the status of firstborn sons, the status of My sons, or My people, are all people who have been caught up. This is most incompatible with people’s notions. Those who have a share in My house in the future are all people who have been caught up before Me. This is absolutely true, never-changing, and cannot be refuted by anybody. This is the counterattack against Satan. Anyone I preordained shall be caught up before Me” (“The One Hundred and Fourth Utterance”).
Then Xia Han continued fellowshiping, “From this we can see that being caught up is neither being taken from a low place to a high place as we imagine, nor being taken into the air from the earth. The true being caught up refers to following the footsteps of God’s work and being taken before His throne to receive His salvation. All those who don’t receive God’s new work are people who are not caught up. And they are abandoned by the Lord. Just like the priests, scribes and Pharisees who served Jehovah God in the temple in the Age of Law, they knew the Bible thoroughly and served God in the temple ardently. However, when God became flesh as the Lord Jesus to work, they refused to investigate and receive the work of the Lord Jesus, and even rejected and condemned it. So these people were not caught up before the Lord, and they were abandoned and eliminated by the Lord. Reversely, those people who followed God when hearing God’s voice were those who were caught up before Him, and they were blessed by God.”
The birds fluttered twittering past the window, while everyone absorbedly listened to the fellowship in silence and nobody noticed the birds. Unconsciously, the meeting was over.
Bai Hua said with a pleased look on her face, “Thank God! Through today’s fellowship, we have had a new understanding and knowledge about the meaning of being caught up, which is God’s grace. And I think of the prophecy in Revelation, ‘These are they which follow the Lamb wherever he goes’ (Revelation 14:4). We follow the footsteps of the Lamb, which is the truest meaning of being caught up. And there is the basis in God’s word!”
Hearing this, brothers and sisters all nodded in agreement. After the gathering, everyone tore themselves away from the church. Also, Bai Hua thought she hadn’t heard such good preaching for a long time. She silently thanked and praised the Lord within herself. When she looked up, Xia Han had packed her bag and was going to walk out of the church. Bai Hua hurried to keep up. She was dying to get that book, for she felt there seemed to be great mystery in the book …
By Miao Xiao, China