d. Whether religious pastors and elders are really established by God, and whether obeying pastors and elders is obeying and following God
Words of Almighty God of the Last Days
In selecting a person to serve Him, God always has His own principles. Serving God is by no means, as people imagine, that it is simply a matter of enthusiasm. Today, you see that all who serve before God do so because they have the guidance of God and the work of the Holy Spirit, and because they are people who pursue the truth. These are the minimum conditions for all those who serve God.
Serving God is no simple task. Those whose corrupt disposition remains unchanged can never serve God. If your disposition has not been judged and chastised by God’s words, then your disposition still represents Satan, which proves that you serve God out of your own good intentions, that your service is based on your satanic nature. You serve God with your natural character, and according to your personal preferences. What’s more, you always think that the things you are willing to do are what are delightful to God, and that the things you do not wish to do are what are hateful to God; you work entirely according to your own preferences. Can this be called serving God? Ultimately, there will not be the slightest change in your life disposition; instead, your service will make you even more stubborn, thus deeply ingraining your corrupt disposition, and as such, there will be formed within you rules about service to God that are primarily based on your own character, and experiences derived from your service according to your own disposition. These are the experiences and lessons of man. It is man’s philosophy of living in the world. People like this can be classed as Pharisees and religious officials. If they never wake up and repent, then they will surely turn into the false Christs and the antichrists who deceive people in the last days. The false Christs and the antichrists that were spoken of will arise from among such people. If those who serve God follow their own character and act according to their own will, they run the risk of being cast out at any time. Those who apply their many years of experience acquired to serving God in order to win the hearts of others, to lecture them and control them, and to stand on high—and who never repent, never confess their sins, never renounce the benefits of position—these people shall fall before God. They are of the same kind as Paul, presuming upon their seniority and flaunting their qualifications. God will not bring people like this to perfection. Such service disrupts the work of God. People always cling to the old. They cling to the notions of the past, to everything from times gone by. This is a great obstacle to their service. If you cannot throw them off, these things will throttle your whole life. God will not commend you, not in the slightest, not even if you break your legs running or your back with labor, not even if you are martyred in your service of God. Quite the contrary: He will say that you are an evildoer.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Religious Service Must Be Purged
Those in churches who preach and have status, position, and prestige are a group of people trained in theological seminaries to possess theological knowledge and theories, and they are essentially the main body holding up Christianity. Christianity trains such people to get on stage and preach, to spread the gospel and do work everywhere. They believe that with talents such as these theology students, preaching pastors, and theologians, the existence of Christianity is ensured to this day, and these people become the value and capital of Christianity’s existence. If a church’s pastor is a graduate of a theological seminary, discusses the Bible well, has read some spiritual books, and has some knowledge and eloquence, then that church’s attendance will flourish and it will become much more famous than other churches. What do these people in Christianity esteem? Knowledge, theological knowledge. Where does this knowledge come from? Isn’t it passed down from ancient times? There have been scriptures since ancient times, passed down from generation to generation, and that’s how everyone reads and learns them to this day. People divide the Bible into various sections, compile different versions, and encourage study and learning, but their study of the Bible is not to understand the truth in order to know God, nor is it to understand God’s will in order to fear God and shun evil; rather it is to study the knowledge and mysteries of the Bible, to figure out which events at what times have fulfilled which prophecy of Revelation, and when the great disasters and the millennium will come—they study these. Does their study relate to the truth? (No, it doesn’t.) Why do they study things that have nothing to do with the truth? It is because the more they study, the more they feel they understand, and the more words and doctrines they are equipped with, the higher their qualifications become. The higher their qualifications, the greater they feel their abilities are, and the more they believe that they will finally be blessed in their faith, that they will go to heaven after death, or that the living will be caught up in the air to meet the Lord. These are their religious notions, which are not at all in line with God’s words.
—The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Seven: They Are Evil, Insidious, and Deceitful (Part Three)
Work in the mind of man is too easy for man to achieve. Pastors and leaders in the religious world, for example, rely on their gifts and positions to do their work. People who follow them for a long time will be infected by their gifts and influenced by some of their being. They focus on people’s gifts, abilities and knowledge, and they pay attention to supernatural things and many profound, unrealistic doctrines (of course, these profound doctrines are unattainable). They do not focus on changes in people’s dispositions, but rather on training people to preach and work, improving people’s knowledge and their abundant religious doctrines. They do not focus on how much people’s disposition is changed nor on how much people understand of the truth. They do not concern themselves with people’s essence, and much less do they try to know people’s normal and abnormal states. They do not counter people’s notions, nor do they reveal their notions, much less do they prune people for their deficiencies or corruptions. Most who follow them serve with their gifts, and all they release is religious notions and theological theories, which are out of touch with reality and completely unable to confer life onto people. In fact, the essence of their work is nurturing talent, nurturing a person with nothing into a talented seminary graduate who later goes on to work and lead.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Work and Man’s Work
The pastors and elders of the religious world are all people who study biblical knowledge and theology; they are hypocritical Pharisees resisting God. … Are those in Christianity and Catholicism who study the Bible, theology, and even the history of God’s work truly believers? Are they different from the believers and followers of God about whom He speaks? In God’s eyes, are they believers? No, they study theology, they study God, but they do not follow God or bear witness to Him. Their study of God is the same as those who study history, philosophy, law, biology, or astronomy. It’s just that they don’t like science or other subjects—they specifically like to study theology. What is the outcome of their seeking out bits and pieces of God’s work to study God? Can they discover God’s existence? No, never. Can they understand God’s will? (No.) Why? Because they live in words, in knowledge, in philosophy, in the human mind and in human thoughts; they will never see God or be enlightened by the Holy Spirit. How does God classify them? As nonbelievers, as unbelievers. These unbelievers and nonbelievers mingle within the so-called Christian community, acting as believers in God, as Christians, but in reality do they have true worship for God? Do they have true submission? (No.) Why is that? One thing is certain: A considerable number of them do not believe in God’s existence in their hearts; they do not believe that God created the world and is sovereign over all things, and they believe even less that God can become flesh. What does this unbelief mean? It means to doubt and deny. They even adopt an attitude of not hoping that the prophecies spoken by God, especially those concerning disasters, will be fulfilled or come to pass. This is their attitude toward belief in God, and it is the essence and true face of their so-called faith. These people study God because they are particularly interested in the subject and knowledge of theology, and in the historical facts of God’s work; they are purely a group of intellectuals studying theology. These intellectuals do not believe in the existence of God, so how do they react when God comes to work, when God’s words are fulfilled? What is their first reaction when they hear that God has become flesh and started a new work? “Impossible!” Whoever preaches God’s new name and God’s new work, they condemn that person, and they even want to kill or eliminate him. What kind of manifestation is this? Is this not the manifestation of a typical antichrist? What difference is there between them and the Pharisees, chief priests, and scribes of old? They are hostile toward God’s work, toward God’s judgment in the last days, toward God becoming flesh, and even more so, they are hostile to the fulfillment of God’s prophecies. They believe, “If You do not become flesh, if You are in the form of a spiritual body, then You are God; if You are incarnated and become a person, then You are not God, and we do not acknowledge You.” What does this imply? It means that as long as they are here, they will not allow God to become flesh. Isn’t this a typical antichrist? This is a genuine antichrist.
—The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Seven: They Are Evil, Insidious, and Deceitful (Part Three)
Those Jewish Pharisees, head priests, and scribes of the Age of Law nominally believed in God, but they turned their backs on His way, and even crucified the incarnate God. Could their belief, then, have gained God’s approval? (No.) God had already designated them as people of the Jewish faith, as members of a religious group. And God likewise sees those today who believe in Jesus as members of a religious group, in that He does not acknowledge them as members of His church or as believers in Him. Why would God condemn the religious world so? Because all members of religious groups, especially the high-level leaders of various denominations, lack a God-fearing heart, nor are they followers of God’s will. They are all nonbelievers. They do not believe in the incarnation, much less accept the truth. They never seek, ask after, examine, or accept God’s work in the last days or the truths He expresses, instead going straight to condemning and blaspheming the work of God’s incarnation in the last days. One can see clearly in this that they may nominally believe in God, but God does not acknowledge them as believers in Him; He says that they are evildoers, that none of what they do has the least relation to His work of salvation, that they are unbelievers who are outside of His words. If you believe in God as you do now, will the day not come when you, too, are reduced to religious adherents? Belief in God from within religion cannot attain salvation—why is this, exactly? If you cannot tell why this is, it shows that you understand neither the truth nor God’s will in the least. The most tragic thing that can happen to belief in God is its reduction to religion and its being cast out by God. This is an unimaginable thing to man, and those who do not understand the truth can never see this matter clearly. Tell Me, when a church has gradually turned into a religion in God’s eyes and become a denomination over the many long years since its inception, are the people in it candidates for God’s salvation? Are they members of His family? (No.) They are not. What road is it they walk, these people who nominally believe in the true God, yet are thought by Him to be religious people? The road they walk is one on which they bear the banner of belief in God yet never follow His way; it is one on which they believe in Him yet do not worship Him, and even forsake Him; it is one on which they claim to believe in God yet resist Him, nominally believing in the name of God, in the true God, yet worshiping Satan the devil, and engaging in human operations, and establishing an independent, human kingdom. That is the road they walk. To look at the road they walk, it is apparent that they are a bunch of nonbelievers, a gang of antichrists, a group of Satans and devils that set out explicitly to resist God and disrupt His work. That is the essence of the religious world. Does a group of such people have anything to do with God’s management plan for the salvation of man? (No.) Once believers in God, however many they may be, have their mode of faith defined by God as a denomination or a group, then they, too, are defined by God as those who cannot be saved. Why do I say this? A group without God’s work or guidance that does not submit to Him or worship Him at all may nominally believe in God, but it is the priests and elders of religion whom they follow and obey, and the priests and elders of religion are by their essence satanic and hypocritical. Therefore, what those people follow and obey are Satan and devils. In their hearts, they are practicing belief in God, but in fact, they are being manipulated by man, subject to human orchestrations and mastery. So, in essential terms, what they follow and obey is Satan, and devils, and forces of evil which resist God, and the enemies of God. Would God save a gang of people like this? (No.) Why not? Well, are such people capable of repentance? No; they will not repent. They engage in human operations and human enterprises under the banner of faith in God, running counter to God’s management plan for the salvation of man, with the ultimate outcome being that they will meet with God’s detestation and rejection. It is impossible that God would save these people; they are incapable of repentance, and as they have been carried off by Satan, God hands them over to it.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only With Fear of God Can One Tread Upon the Path of Salvation
Some people do not rejoice in the truth, much less judgment. Instead, they rejoice in power and riches; such people are called power seekers. They search only for those denominations in the world with influence, and they search only for pastors and teachers that come from seminaries. Though they have accepted the way of truth, they are only half-believing; they are incapable of giving all of their hearts and minds, their mouths speak words of expending themselves for God, but their eyes are focused on the great pastors and teachers, and they do not spare Christ a second glance. Their hearts are fixated upon fame, fortune, and glory. They think it out of the question that such a meager person could be capable of conquering so many, that one so unremarkable could perfect man. They think it out of the question that these nobodies among the dust and dunghills are the people chosen by God. They believe that if such people were the objects of God’s salvation, then heaven and earth would be turned upside down, and all people would laugh themselves silly. They believe that if God chose such nobodies to be perfected, then those great men would become God Himself. Their perspectives are tainted with unbelief; more than not believing, they are simply preposterous beasts. For they value only status, prestige, and power, and they esteem only large groups and denominations. They have not the slightest regard for those led by Christ; they are simply traitors who have turned their backs on Christ, on truth, and on life.
What you admire is not the humility of Christ, but those false shepherds of prominent standing. You do not adore the loveliness or wisdom of Christ, but those libertines who wallow in the filth of the world. You laugh at the pain of Christ who has no place to lay His head, but you admire those corpses that hunt for offerings and live in debauchery. You are not willing to suffer alongside Christ, but you gladly throw yourself into the arms of those reckless antichrists, though they only supply you with flesh, words, and control. Even now, your heart still turns toward them, toward their reputation, toward their status, toward their influence. And yet you continue to hold an attitude whereby you find the work of Christ hard to swallow and you are unwilling to accept it. This is why I say that you lack the faith to acknowledge Christ. The reason you have followed Him to this day is only because you had no other option. A series of lofty images are forever towering in your heart; you cannot forget their every word and deed, nor their influential words and hands. They are, in your heart, forever supreme and forever heroes. But this is not so for the Christ of today. He is forever insignificant in your heart, and forever undeserving of fear. For He is far too ordinary, has far too little influence, and is far from lofty.
In any case, I say that all those who do not value the truth are nonbelievers and traitors to the truth. Such men shall never receive the approval of Christ. Have you now identified how much unbelief is within you, and how much betrayal of Christ you have? I exhort you thus: Since you have chosen the way of truth, then you should devote yourself wholeheartedly; do not be ambivalent or half-hearted. You should understand that God does not belong to the world nor any one person, but to all those who truly believe in Him, all those who worship Him, and all those who are devoted and faithful to Him.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Are You a True Believer in God?
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