Item Thirteen: They Control Church Finances As Well As Controlling People's Hearts (Section One)

I. Antichrists Control People’s Hearts

Today let us fellowship on the thirteenth item of the various manifestations of antichrists—they control church finances as well as controlling people’s hearts. Judging from the many different manifestations of antichrists, every single one of these items touches on their disposition and essence, which is averse to the truth, vicious, and wicked. Item thirteen is no exception to this. “They control church finances as well as controlling people’s hearts”—based on this manifestation, you can see that antichrists are not only ambitious but also greedy; they harbor a lot of needs within their hearts. Are these needs legitimate? (No, they are not.) Is controlling people’s hearts something positive? Obviously, one can see from the word “control” that it is not something positive. In what regard is it not positive? Why is it wrong to wield control? Do you wish to control people’s hearts? (No.) Even though you do not wish to do so, there will be times when you can’t help but act in that way. This is called a “disposition”; this is called an “essence.” Antichrists controlling people’s hearts is not a legitimate need, nor is it fair and reasonable; it is something negative. What does it mean to “control people’s hearts”? Controlling people’s hearts is not abstract; rather, it is something quite concrete and specific, with specific methods, conduct and language, as well as specific thoughts, perspectives, intentions, and motives. This being so, what are the concrete manifestations of antichrists controlling people’s hearts, and how is this control specifically defined? (Using displays such as external suffering and price-paying in order to win the approbation and esteem of others, and to achieve the goal of misleading others.) Antichrists use specific kinds of conduct and manifestations to win people’s favor, thereby gaining a place in people’s hearts, and getting people to esteem them. When antichrists win the esteem of others, this outcome is, by nature, one of misleading people. But in their hearts, it is not truly the antichrists’ subjective wish to use these means to mislead others; what they want is to be esteemed—that is their aim. Is there anything else? (Antichrists use small favors to mislead people and rope them in, and they show off their own capabilities and gifts in order to get others to esteem and admire them and obey their orders, and arrive at their goal of winning people over and gaining control over them.) This is one aspect. (Antichrists put up a pretense of being spiritual. When they are pruned, they fail to understand it, yet they pretend to have understood and to be able to obey it, so that others will feel that they are avidly pursuing the truth and have quite a lot of spiritual understanding. They disguise themselves as people who pursue and understand the truth, in order to achieve the outcome of making other people esteem and look up to them.) This is another aspect. Antichrists always want to make others see how spiritual they are, and that they’re able to pursue and submit to the truth. Actually, they do not possess the faintest understanding, but they still put up the facade of a spiritual person, in order to make others esteem and look up to them. They use such means to control people’s hearts. Is there more? (Antichrists speak about words and doctrines to show off and establish themselves, so that others think they understand the truth and possess stature, and esteem them, worship them, and listen to them. By these means they come to control people.) This is a concrete manifestation, but to say that “they speak about words and doctrines” is not entirely apt. Antichrists are unaware that they’re speaking about words and doctrines; they believe the things they talk about to be the reality, to be lofty theories and sermons, and they use these things to mislead people. If antichrists knew that they were words and doctrines, they would stop speaking about them. Is there anything else? (Antichrists brazenly go against the principles, use the power they have at their disposal and specious spiritual theories to fraudulently obtain everyone’s trust, and thereby arrive at their goal of gaining control over people.) (Antichrists cut off the connection of God’s chosen people with the Above. They do not carry out work arrangements, they hold absolute power within their jurisdiction, and they try to establish their own kingdoms and control people.) This too is a concrete manifestation. To put it more aptly, they deceive the Above, hide things from those below them, and try to win people’s favor, they do not let others see the true situation, and fraudulently obtain their trust, in order to arrive at their goal of controlling people’s hearts. Their aim in deceiving the Above and hiding things from those below them is to prevent the Above and the brothers and sisters from seeing the truth about them, so that the Above and the brothers and sisters will put their trust in them, and in the end the brothers and sisters will come to worship them alone—then they will have arrived at their goal of controlling people’s hearts. Is there more? (Antichrists draw up a bunch of seemingly right regulations for people to observe, and use these to replace the truth, so that people come to believe that observing these regulations is the same as putting the truth into practice. By these means antichrists gain control over people’s hearts and lead people before them.) This should be described as antichrists drawing up a bunch of rules and regulations to take the place of the truth principles, passing themselves off as spiritual, as understanding the truth, so that people will listen to them, and in this way, they arrive at their goal of controlling people’s hearts. If the rules they draw up were beneficial to the church life and to people doing their duties, and if they did not run counter to the truth principles and brought no harm to the interests of the house of God, then there would be nothing wrong with this. In dealing with the various kinds of people in the church, it is necessary, apart from fellowshipping on the truth, to set up some administrative rules to keep people in line. If these administrative rules do not run counter to the truth principles, but rather benefit people, then they are positive things, and this is not controlling people’s hearts. If these rules are being passed off as the truth principles, then there is a problem. Well then, are antichrists able to formulate rules that benefit people and conform to the truth principles? (No, they are not.) Have a go at summarizing how this should be put. (Antichrists formulate some rules that are not in line with the truth principles and feign spirituality and understanding of the truth to make people obey them, and attain their goal of controlling people’s hearts.) That is comparatively apt. Is there more? (Antichrists love to spout high-sounding ideas to show their cleverness and insight, and make people esteem them. For instance, after everyone has already discussed a matter and decided what to do about it, antichrists will speak out a set of theories to refute everybody else’s suggestions, and make everyone listen to them, when in fact their view is scarcely any cleverer. Then, as time goes on, no matter what the matter is, nobody will dare to fellowship the truth or seek the truth principles, and will feel they have to let the antichrists pass the final verdict, and ultimately the antichrists will arrive at their goal of controlling people.) Antichrists spout high-sounding ideas at every turn, refuting the suggestions of others, showing themselves off, and making others believe they’re very clever, and thereby arrive at their goal of misleading and taking control of other people. We have fellowshipped a lot about the manifestations of antichrists controlling and misleading people in the past. When antichrists do this, a great variety of tactics, manifestations, and methods are involved. Sometimes they use actions, sometimes they use speech, and at other times they use a certain kind of perspective to mislead people. In sum, there are goals underlying all these things that antichrists do; none of these actions are pure and open, and none of them conform to the truth. Everything they do is for the sake of misleading people and getting people to esteem and worship them. Whatever antichrists say and do outwardly are just facades—they’re all good conduct and things that people regard as good—but in fact, if one were to investigate the essence of these things, the motives and aims underlying the approaches of antichrists are without exception unspeakable, contrary to the truth, and abhorred by God.

Judging from their approach of controlling people’s hearts, the humanity of antichrists is despicable and selfish, and their disposition is averse to the truth, wicked, and vicious. Antichrists use all manner of despicable and underhanded tricks to achieve their aims, without any sense of shame—this is a characteristic of their wicked nature. Additionally, without paying any regard to whether people are willing or not, without informing them or acquiring their consent, they always want to control people, manipulate them and dominate them. They want everything that people think about and wish for in their hearts to be subject to their manipulations, they want people to hold a place for them in their hearts, worship them, and look up to them in all things. They want to circumscribe and influence people with their words and viewpoints, and manipulate and control them based on their own wishes. What kind of disposition is this? Is it not viciousness? It’s just like a tiger trapping your neck in its jaws—try as you might to gasp for breath and struggle to move, you cannot do as you wish, instead you are under the firm, deathly grip of its ferocious mouth. Try as you might to struggle free, you cannot, and though you plead with the tiger to loosen its jaw, that’s impossible, there is no room for discussion. Antichrists have just such a disposition. Suppose that you engage them in discussion, saying, “Can’t you please stop trying to work out ways to control people? Can’t you behave yourself and be a follower? Can’t you behave yourself and fulfill your duties and keep to your position?” Would they be able to agree to this? Would you, using good conduct or what you understand of the truth, be able to dissuade them from continuing on their course? Is there anyone who could change their point of view? Judging from the vicious disposition of antichrists, no one would be able to change their thoughts and perspectives, nor would anyone be able to change their desire to control people’s hearts. No one can change them, and there is no negotiating with them—this is called “viciousness.” Antichrists’ ambition and desire to control people is a manifestation of their essence. If you used good conduct to reform them, would that work? If you used your practical experience of accepting being pruned, judged, and chastised to help and support them—could they transform? Would they stop what they’re doing? (No, they would not.) Have you met this kind of person before? (Yes. With this kind of person, regardless of where they do their duties, and though they may fail and stumble a few times, or even undergo the discipline of illness, their desire to pursue status cannot be changed. Wherever they go, they wish to gain status and power.) If a change of place or group would not transform them, how about waiting until they are older—would they change a little then? Would they relinquish a little of their pursuit of power and authority, would it grow a little weaker? (No. This has nothing to do with age; this disposition of theirs cannot be altered.) A vicious disposition governs and controls antichrists, so they cannot change. It seems that the vicious disposition of antichrists is something that a number of people have had a taste of and seen for themselves. Antichrists controlling people’s hearts is a reality and it is backed by factual evidence—it is quite a serious matter. People like this are incapable of forgetting or setting aside the matter of controlling people’s hearts. Such is the nature essence of antichrists. From a subjective perspective, they are unable to set it aside; from an objective perspective, no one is able to transform them—they are antichrists, through and through. Tell Me, are there any antichrists who, after they have been expelled and are no longer in the company of the brothers and sisters, lose the desire to control the hearts of others? Would antichrists change on the basis of changes in their environment or geographical position? (No, they would not.) They would not change along with changes of time and place—this is determined by their nature essence. In controlling people’s hearts, antichrists are actually trying to wield power among people—the power to call the shots, to make decisions, and to control people and manipulate people’s hearts—this power is what they wish to gain. To control people’s hearts, antichrists will use all manner of ways and means to get people to esteem them, to trick and mislead people, to present people with false appearances, and even use certain ways and means to cover up their corrupt dispositions and character, and stop people from discerning or seeing through to their essence that is averse to the truth and of antichrists. Externally, they pass themselves off as people who are spiritual and perfect, who are without flaws or defects, or any trace of a corrupt disposition, and in this way, they arrive at their goals of getting others to esteem, look up to, admire, worship, and even rely on them. Arriving at these goals is, in essence, a consequence of them controlling people’s hearts. Within our fellowship about all of antichrists’ dispositions and manifestations, antichrists controlling people’s hearts and scrambling for power and profit has taken up the absolute majority of the discussion. Since we have already fellowshipped a great deal on this subject, let us leave it at that for today.

II. Antichrists Control Church Finances

The main point which we will be fellowshipping about today is that, apart from trying to control people’s hearts, and their ambition and desire for power, antichrists have another deadly manifestation. That is, they also display a great desire for the church’s finances, a desire that can also be called greed. In addition to their love for status, antichrists also have a special love for finances. The interest and pleasure they take in finances are ample and unmitigated; we define this as antichrists controlling the finances of the church. Antichrists trying to control church finances and trying to control people’s hearts are the same—both are equally illegitimate and unreasonable endeavors. Clearly this is something dishonorable. To have the ambition and desire to control people’s hearts is already revolting enough, it is already terribly dishonorable, yet antichrists want to control church finances as well—that is an even more despicable thing that happens with them. Well then, when antichrists seek to control the finances of the church, what are the concrete manifestations of this? Would this be more readily discernible than when they seek to control people’s hearts? When antichrists are seeking to control people’s hearts, some of the approaches and dispositions they bring into play can be discerned by people. But if they are very secretive and devious, and there are some statements, tactics, or satanic tricks behind them, which antichrists do not reveal on the surface, but only think in their private thoughts, then these things will not be readily discernible. However, trying to control church finances should have some concrete manifestations and approaches. Do you find these approaches easy to discern? When you have seen these things with your own eyes and heard about them with your own ears, can you discern that these are the actions of antichrists? (If they’re obvious behaviors, then yes. For example, antichrists will make inquiries about who is in charge of safekeeping offerings and the like.) This would be readily discernible because finances are a sensitive matter, and most people would not inquire into them, unless they were covetous people with designs on the finances, in which case they would take an interest in and make inquiries about this kind of information. So let us fellowship about what concrete manifestations there are of antichrists trying to control church finances.

When it comes to the subject of antichrists controlling the finances of the church, most people will associate this in their minds with examples they have seen in the past of fraud or misuse of the church’s property, won’t they? Or perhaps there are some people who, being young or having only believed in God for a short time, are not too concerned about these things and do not think about them at all. So let us fellowship in detail about this, so that you can come to understand some of the issues, rules, as well as taboos relating to the finances of the church. There are some who say, “I have never taken an interest in or inquired into matters about the church’s finances. I don’t harbor that kind of greed. This has nothing to do with me, and it is a rather sensitive topic in the church, so I’m fine with knowing or not knowing about it.” Is this point of view correct? (No, it is not.) How so? Regardless of what you may think, the topic we are fellowshipping on today touches on the disposition of antichrists, and from the standpoint of analyzing and dissecting the disposition of antichrists, it will be worthwhile for each and every one of you to understand this all and understand it clearly. We will use this matter to dissect the disposition of antichrists, so let us first fellowship on how antichrists treat the property of the church, what exactly church property means and who it belongs to in their minds, as well as how antichrists regard this property and allocate it in their private thoughts. First of all, how do antichrists define the money and various goods offered up by the church’s brothers and sisters? Judging from their character, antichrists are greedy, and their greed is immense, so they won’t be indifferent to this property. Rather, they will be very interested in it, paying careful attention to examining and figuring out how much church property there is, who is in charge of its safekeeping, where it is being kept, and how many people know about it. When it comes to fundamental information about church finances, antichrists will first show the utmost interest in this, giving it their special attention, making inquiries, and asking around, trying to the best of their ability to get hold of this information. If they had no greed and if they harbored no designs, would they be interested in these things? (Definitely not.) Antichrists are different from people with normal humanity, in that there is an ulterior motive to their concern. Their concern isn’t about safekeeping this property, instead they want to gain possession of it, or to be able to use it as they wish. Therefore, the first manifestation of antichrists controlling church finances is prioritizing their possession and use of church property.

A. Prioritizing Their Possession and Use of Church Property

Once antichrists gain status, a mistaken and shameless idea arises deep within them: Becoming a leader should win them not only the right to knowledge about church finances but also absolute power to control them. What is their aim in having control over church finances? To have the power to prioritize their possession and use of church property. What does prioritizing their possession and use of church property mean? It means that, so long as they are in charge of a church, the money and items offered up by the brothers and sisters under their supervision all come under their management, use, and ownership. Is this idea correct or incorrect? Obviously, it is incorrect, but that is how antichrists think. The first thing they do after becoming a leader is to make efforts and hatch plans regarding finances. First, they find out who is managing the finances, how many people are managing the finances, how much money is on the books, and whether the ones managing these finances are their able right hands or trusted agents. If not, they make haste to dismiss them on some pretext or other and then replace them with their own agents. Do they stop at switching out the people in charge of managing finances? No, it’s not as simple as that. Their ambitions extend far beyond this; they absolutely have to get a clear understanding of the figures regarding the church’s property. In addition to calling on people to make offerings, how do antichrists handle this property? They take money from the church when they need to buy something to wear, and again when they’re going to the doctor, and if they lack clothing, they pick out a few of the better items from those donated by the brothers and sisters. And they’re still not done after making their selection; they have to try out every single piece of clothing, keeping the best ones for themselves, and leaving only the most inferior ones that they don’t want for the church. In short, they will use the church’s money to cover their own meals and expenses, even down to 0.2 RMB travel expenses, and some of them will even go so far as to use the church’s money to buy luxury items, health supplements, cosmetics, and all manner of items for their personal use. As soon as antichrists get into positions of leadership, and before they do a lick of work, they are very proactive when it comes to enjoying the property of the church, and they make this a priority. After antichrists enjoy this property, their whole spiritual outlook and quality of life undergo a wholesale transformation and become completely different from before. At any opportunity, they will get their hair styled, and their bodies massaged, they will pamper themselves, do things to take care of their health, and make themselves tonic soup—even the various electrical appliances they use will get an upgrade. As soon as they become leaders, antichrists make a note of the rich people in the church and those who are capable of making offerings. These wealthy people are then going to hemorrhage money, and those who make frequent offerings become treasured members of the church, and petted favorites in the eyes of the antichrists. When antichrists enter the church, it is the same as when a fox gets into a vineyard—the vineyard is in for disaster. Not only will the fox eat up the good grapes, it will also trash the whole place.

In the minds of antichrists, the money and goods offered up by the brothers and sisters, which are collectively known as “offerings,” are all the “public” property of the church. This does not mean that this public property is for communal use; rather it refers to the fact that it is a communal offering that comes from everyone but whose usage rights have, for all practical purposes, accrued to the leaders. From the point of view of antichrists, they are duty-bound to prioritize their possession and use of the church’s property, because they are leaders, they stand at the head, and everything in the church, especially good stuff, has to belong to them, and come under their authority. Antichrists believe: “To say that the money and items that the brothers and sisters offer are being given to God is just a superficial expression. How many of these things can God use? Can God come down from heaven to share these offerings with people? And so, shouldn’t it be up to people to decide how these offerings are to be expended, allocated, and put to use?” Such is the shameless idea that antichrists harbor regarding church property. What’s even more shameless? They say: “God in heaven is unable to enjoy the money and items that people have offered on earth, so how are these things to be allocated and used? Shouldn’t the church’s leaders help with consuming, using, and enjoying them? That would be equivalent to God in heaven using them.” And so, antichrists, as a matter of course, make the offerings of the brothers and sisters their own personal property. They are perfectly clear on who offers what and when—these things must be reported to them and known by them. They are not bothered about other matters. There is one thing of utmost importance to them besides keeping a firm grip on their own power—and that is controlling the finances of the church. This is what makes being a leader worth their while. In the way that antichrists view and deal with church property, is there a single aspect that is in keeping with the truth or with God’s demands? (No, there is not.) From the very beginning until the present day, has God ever said which person should possess or use the offerings given to Him by brothers and sisters? Has God ever stated that church leaders and workers, apostles, and prophets should have the authority to prioritize their possession and use of church property? Has God said that the use and ownership of the church’s property falls to whomever becomes a leader? (No, He has not.) Then why do antichrists have this kind of misconception? Since God’s words contain no express stipulations to this effect about the church’s property, why do antichrists harbor this view toward it? (They lack God-fearing hearts.) Is it as simple as that? To say in this context that they lack God-fearing hearts is but empty words. These words fail to touch on the disposition of antichrists. Do antichrists covet the church’s property when they are not in positions of leadership? (They do.) Then could you say that they lose their God-fearing hearts after they become leaders? Surely it isn’t that they have God-fearing hearts before they become leaders? Could one say this? (No.) Therefore, this explanation does not hold. Antichrists covet the property of the church: Why is this? (They have a wicked disposition.) (They are greedy by nature.) (They seek profit above all else by nature.) Is the disposition essence of antichrists that they seek profit above all else? (No.) This is just a manifestation of their character. So, let’s dissect what the inner disposition of antichrists is. (It is wicked and vicious.) It is, first and foremost, vicious, and then it is wicked. What is meant by vicious? It means that they are going to seize by force things that aren’t supposed to be theirs or to belong to them, regardless of whether other people agree to this or what they think: This is a vicious disposition. The inborn nature essence of antichrists, these devils and Satans, is to vie with God for all things. Within the church, apart from fighting with God over His chosen people, antichrists also try to wrest away the offerings that people have made to Him. On the surface, it would appear that antichrists are being covetous, but in reality, it is because they have the disposition and essence of antichrists. That they should wish to seize hold of and devour the money and items that people offer to God—this, in its essence, is viciousness. It is the same as if, for instance, you buy a new padded jacket, that is stylish and of good quality, and then someone sees it and says, “This padded jacket of yours is better than mine. The ratty one I’m wearing has holes in it, and it’s out of style. How come yours is so nice?” and when he’s done speaking, he forcibly pulls your padded jacket right off you, and then gives his damaged one to you. You can’t refuse to trade with him—he would make you suffer, give you a hard time, beat you up, and he might even kill you. Would you dare to resist him? You wouldn’t dare to resist him, and he would take your stuff against your wishes. So, what is this person’s disposition? It is a vicious disposition. Is there any difference between this and the disposition of antichrists in taking possession of and using church property? (No, there is not.) According to the antichrists’ perspective on property, as soon as they become leaders and “officials,” and have the property of the church in their grasp, the church’s property belongs to them. Regardless of who made the offering, or what they gave as an offering, antichrists will seize hold of it for themselves. What does it mean to seize hold of something? It means that after the property of the church—which should be properly used and allocated in accordance with church regulations—comes under the control of antichrists, they alone have the exclusive power to use it. Even when this property is needed for the work of the church or by workers in the church, antichrists do not permit it to be used. They alone are allowed to use it. As for how the church’s property is used and allocated, the antichrists have the final say; if they wish to let you use it, you may use it, and if not, then you may not. If the church offering funds are not plentiful and get completely used up for the antichrists’ personal expenses after they take possession of them, they don’t care that there’s no money left for the church work. They don’t take either the church’s work or the normal expenditures of the church into consideration. All they want is to take these funds and spend them themselves, treating them like their own earnings. Isn’t this way of doing things shameful? (Yes, it is.) In some churches located in relatively affluent areas, antichrists think: “This place is quite nice. When it comes to expenditures, I can splurge and do as I please, and there’s no need to stick to the church regulations and principles. I can spend money however I want. Ever since I became a leader, I’ve finally been able to enjoy a life of spending money without needing to run the numbers. All I have to do is say the word if I want to spend money on something, I don’t need to worry about it, and I certainly don’t have to talk it over with anyone.” When it comes to spending the church’s wealth, antichrists wield all the power themselves, they act recklessly, and they spend money like water. In addition to not doing any work in accordance with the church’s principles or the work arrangements, antichrists treat church property the same way, without any principles. Could it be that they do not understand the principles? No, they know full well the principles governing the allocation and expenditure of church property, but they cannot keep their own greed and desires under control. When they are ordinary people without any status, they’re humble and live simple day-to-day lives, but as soon as they become leaders, they think themselves to be a big deal. They become particular about how they dress and eat—they no longer eat ordinary meals, and they learn how to look for quality and famous brands while dressing themselves. Everything has to be high-end; only then do they feel it’s compatible with their identity and status. As soon as antichrists become leaders, it is as if the brothers and sisters all owe them a debt, and must offer up gifts to them. If anything good comes along, they must be given priority, and the brothers and sisters are expected to spend their money on them. Antichrists believe that becoming a leader means they should have the power to prioritize their possession and use of the property of the church. Not only do they think in this way, they also behave in this way. What’s more, they take it very far, to the disgust of other people. Viewed from this perspective, what is the character of antichrists like? After becoming leaders, and without doing a lick of work, they want to take possession of offerings and prioritize their use of them. What kind of person is capable of doing such things? Only a brigand, a tyrant, or a local bully would do these things.

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