Question 34: Religious pastors and elders have a strong knowledge of the Bible; they often interpret the scripture for others and have them adhere to the Bible. So is expounding upon and elevating the Bible really bearing witness to and exalting the Lord? Why is it said that religious pastors and elders are hypocritical Pharisees? We’re still not clear on this issue—could you answer this for us?
To people, explaining the Bible should not be wrong, but at the same time as explaining the Bible, what they actually do are acts that resist God. What kind of people are these? Aren’t they hypocritical Pharisees? Aren’t they God-resisting antichrists? Why is the pastors and elders’ explanation of the Bible resisting God? Why is it condemning God? There are still people who don’t understand and still think that explaining the Bible is exalting and bearing witness to God. The Jewish chief priests, scribes and Pharisees back then were all scripture scholars and experts who often explained the scriptures to people. If explaining the Bible is exalting and bearing witness to God, then why is it that when the Lord Jesus came to preach and work, they instead furiously resisted and condemned the Lord Jesus, and in the end colluded with the government to nail the Lord Jesus to the cross? Modern religious pastors and elders are all people who are familiar with the Bible and have explained the Bible for many years. If explaining the Bible is exalting and bearing witness to God, then why is it that when Almighty God has come to express truths and perform His judgment work, they not only fail to seek and investigate, but instead furiously resist and condemn? What’s the problem here? Isn’t this a serious problem that all believers should reflect on? Furthermore, if religious leaders explaining the Bible is the same as exalting and bearing witness to God, then in the Age of Grace, why is it that the Lord Jesus did not work in the temple when He came? Why is it that Almighty God of the last days doesn’t work in the religious church when He has come? It’s because religious leaders don’t exalt and bear witness to God at all and are all hypocritical, arrogant Pharisees. They are all antichrists who control religion and oppose God! How could they possibly allow God to exist or allow the religious world to have voices that bear witness to God? If the incarnate Christ came into religion and worked and preached in the religious church, then He would surely be arrested and handed over to the ruling party and crucified. If people went to religious churches to bear witness to God, then they would also surely be arrested and persecuted. As the Lord Jesus said, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the middle of wolves” (Mat 10:16). Can we still not see this fact clearly? Based on the fact of religious Pharisees’ resisting and condemning God, we should be able to see clearly whether or not exalting the Bible is bearing witness to God. Can people who truly exalt and bear witness to God resist God? Can they see God as their enemy? Additionally, we should all know that the Bible does not contain only God’s words but also many words of man. Therefore, exalting the Bible and exalting God are not the same thing. Upholding the Bible and upholding the Lord’s commandments are not the same thing. When religious Pharisees explain the Bible, they only focus on explaining man’s words in the Bible, explaining Bible knowledge and theological theory, and preaching and bearing witness to man’s words, but do not focus on spreading and bearing witness to God’s words and the truth expressed by God in the Bible. Can this still be said to exalt and bear witness to God? Is this not resisting and betraying God? Therefore, all those who think explaining the Bible is exalting and bearing witness to God don’t understand spiritual matters and cannot see through the essence of the problem. They are all confused people, people who worship and blindly believe in and follow religious leaders. Is this not a fact?
Back then, those Jewish Pharisees only focused on explaining Bible knowledge and doctrines, as well as engaging in religious rituals and observing religious rules and human traditions, but instead abandoned God’s commandments and veered off God’s way, such that when the Lord Jesus came, they furiously resisted, condemned the Lord Jesus and nailed Him to the cross. As a result, they were cursed and punished by God. Although today’s religious pastors and elders often explain the Bible and bear witness to the Bible to people, they do not pay attention to spreading and bearing witness to God’s word, or pay attention to preaching the Lord Jesus’ will and His requirements of man, and also rarely bear witness to the Lord Jesus’ divine substance and loveliness. They don’t guide people to practice and experience the Lord’s word, and moreover do not pay attention to communing how to uphold the Lord’s commandments and follow God’s will. They only focus on explaining and exalting the words of man in the Bible, making others treat man’s words in the Bible as God’s words and as the truth to practice and uphold. When they resolve problems it is also mostly based on man’s words in the Bible instead of God’s words in the Bible. They use man’s words in the Bible to reject and resist God’s words. On the issue of entry into the kingdom of heaven, for instance, the Lord Jesus clearly told people: “Not every one that said to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven” (Mat 7:21). But pastors and elders instead put the words of the Lord Jesus aside and treat man’s words in the Bible as the truth and as the standard for man’s entry into the kingdom of heaven, teaching people that they only need to toil and work for the Lord to enter the kingdom of heaven. They use man’s words to replace God’s words and reject God’s words, and as a result lead people astray. This is the most treacherous, malicious aspect of religious pastors’ and elders’ resistance of God! They interpret the Bible out of context, using man’s words in the Bible to resist and condemn Almighty God, and stopping at nothing to deceive, bind, and control believers, and block them from investigating and accepting Almighty God’s work of the last days, putting them all firmly under their own control. It’s just as Almighty God says, “Just look at the leaders of every denomination—they are all arrogant and self-righteous, and they interpret the Bible out of context and according to their own imagination. They all rely on gifts and erudition to do their work. If they were incapable of preaching anything, would those people follow them? They do, after all, possess some knowledge, and can preach on some doctrine, or know how to win over others and how to use some artifices. They use these to bring people before themselves and deceive them. Nominally, those people believe in God, but in reality they follow their leaders. If they encounter someone preaching the true way, some of them say, ‘We have to consult our leader about our faith.’ Their faith has to go through a human being; is that not a problem? What have those leaders become, then? Have they not become Pharisees, false shepherds, antichrists, and stumbling blocks to people’s acceptance of the true way?” (“Only the Pursuit of the Truth Is the True Belief in God” in Records of Christ’s Talks). Based on these facts, how can we say that religious pastors and elders explaining the Bible is exalting and bearing witness to God? Are they not taking advantage of the opportunity of explaining the Bible to misinterpret the Bible and take things out of context to resist God? They have long become obstacles and stumbling blocks to people accepting the true way and returning to God, and are precisely the antichrists exposed by the work of Almighty God in the last days. Can we still not see this fact clearly?
According to people’s conceptions, explaining the Bible is the same as exalting and bearing witness to God, but from the Pharisees’ and religious leaders’ explaining of the Bible, we can see that this is not really the case. What religious Pharisees are exalting and bearing witness to is the Bible and not God. Their preaching is mainly explaining man’s words in the Bible and not God’s words. They use man’s words in the Bible to replace and resist God’s words, and take the words of man in the Bible out of context to resist and draw conclusions about God. The purpose of their explaining of the Bible is not to exalt and bear witness to God, but to deceive and control people and achieve their despicable purposes. Such explaining of the Bible is resisting God and doing evil! That is why, when God comes to work, they use the Bible to keep a tight grip on people, making them blindly believe in the Bible and hold on to the Bible, taking them all on the road to resisting God. This shows that Pharisees’ and religious leaders’ explaining of the Bible is a means of resisting God. They are completely taking the words of man in the Bible out of context to resist and oppose God, to set up their own independent kingdom. Then how should one explain the Bible to be exalting and bearing witness to God? What the Bible records is God’s work and testimonies of God. Explaining the Bible means to exalt and bear witness to God in accordance with God’s words in the Bible and the truths in the Bible. It is to spread and bear witness to God’s words in the Bible. It is to communicate God’s intentions in accordance with God’s requirements and based on God’s words and communicate the truth in God’s words. It is to testify about God’s work and His disposition to people, and to bear witness to God’s essence and His loveliness. It is to lead people to practice and experience God’s words, thus allowing them to achieve entry into the reality of God’s words. It is to exalt the Lord Jesus and bear witness to Him in all things. Only by explaining the Bible in such ways is one exalting and bearing witness to God, being after God’s heart, and genuinely serving God. The words of man in the Bible can only be used as reference and supplement, and can never be compared to God’s words. Yet religious pastors and elders only care about explaining the words of man in the Bible. They treat the words of man in the Bible as God’s words, as the truth, using it as a guideline for their conduct and behavior, as the basis of the way they handle problems. But they rarely mention God’s words, and they use the words of man to replace God’s words and leave God’s words behind. Is explaining the Bible like that bearing witness to God? Isn’t this just exalting and bearing witness to man? Additionally, when they explain the Bible they only focus on explaining theological theory, explaining characters, locations, and historical backgrounds in the Bible to show off. Isn’t this just deceiving and trapping people? Isn’t this making people worship and follow them? Back then, those hypocritical Pharisees took advantage of their opportunity of explaining the Scriptures to misinterpret the Scriptures in order to deceive and control people, and in the end they took believers on the road to following man and resisting God, and turned Judaism into a God-opposing independent kingdom. In the last days, religious pastors and elders are also taking advantage of explaining the Bible to make people blindly believe in and worship the Bible, and are using the Bible to replace God’s place in people’s hearts, unwittingly taking believers on the road to betraying the Lord’s word and resisting God, also turning the religious world into a God-opposing independent kingdom, a staunch bastion of resistance to God’s work. Isn’t explaining the Bible like they do resisting and blaspheming God? Isn’t this precisely the deception of the antichrist Pharisees in opposing God and setting up their own independent kingdom? How could it be said to be exalting and bearing witness to God? The cunningness of religious Pharisees in resisting God lies in using their opportunity to explain the Bible to misinterpret the Bible in order to deceive and control people. The Bible was originally a testimony of God; in our conceptions, one is always bearing witness to God no matter how they explain the Bible. However, the hypocritical Pharisees take advantage of this conception of ours and do their utmost in exalting and bearing witness to the Bible. They use the Bible to replace God and to resist God and deceive us. This makes us all blindly believe in and worship the Bible, and makes us worship and follow Bible scholars like them and thus betray God. This is Satan’s most treacherous, cunning deception to resist God and deceive people, and the aspect that is most difficult for us to see through and the easiest for us to be deceived with.
Let’s take a look at two passages of Almighty God’s words: “There are those who read the Bible in grand churches and recite it all day long, yet not one among them understands the purpose of God’s work. Not one among them is able to know God; still less can any one among them accord with God’s will. They are all worthless, vile people, each standing on high to lecture God. They willfully oppose God even as they carry His banner. Claiming faith in God, still they eat the flesh and drink the blood of man. All such people are devils that devour the soul of man, demons that deliberately get in the way of those trying to step onto the right path, and stumbling blocks impeding those who seek God. They may appear of ‘sound constitution,’ but how are their followers to know that they are none other than antichrists who lead people to stand against God? How are their followers to know that they are living devils dedicated to the devouring of human souls?” (“All People Who Do Not Know God Are People Who Oppose God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “If you have believed in God for many years, and yet have never obeyed Him, and do not accept the entirety of His words, and instead ask that God submit to you and act according to your notions, then you are the most rebellious of all, you are a nonbeliever. How could such people be able to obey the work and words of God that do not conform to the notions of man? Most rebellious of all are those who intentionally defy and resist God. They are the enemies of God, the antichrists. Theirs is always an attitude of hostility toward the new work of God; they never have the slightest inclination to submit, nor have they ever gladly submitted or humbled themselves. They exalt themselves before others and never submit to anyone. Before God, they consider themselves the best at preaching the word, and the most skillful in working on others. Never do they discard the ‘treasures’ in their possession, but treat them as family heirlooms for worship, for preaching about to others, and they use them to lecture those fools who idolize them. There are indeed a certain number of people like this in the church. It can be said that they are ‘indomitable heroes,’ generation after generation sojourning in the house of God. They take preaching the word (doctrine) to be their highest duty. Year after year, generation after generation, they go about vigorously enforcing their ‘sacred and inviolable’ duty. None dare touch them; not a single person dares openly reproach them. They become ‘kings’ in the house of God, running rampant as they tyrannize others from age to age. This pack of demons seeks to join hands and demolish My work; how can I allow these living devils to exist before My eyes?” (“Those Who Obey God With a True Heart Shall Surely Be Gained by God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Evidently, even though religious pastors and elders often explain the Bible, they are not people who understand the truth and know God. They are precisely the hypocritical Pharisees. They are false shepherds and workers who deceive, control, bind and harm people. They lead people to deny Christ, condemn Christ, to the extent of resisting God and being hostile to Him, making them all into Satan’s accomplices and puppets. Isn’t this an obvious fact?
Excerpted from Classic Questions and Answers on the Gospel of the Kingdom
Since the pastors and elders’ explaining and exalting the Bible is not the same as exalting and bearing witness to the Lord, then what is truly exalting and bearing witness to the Lord? Truly witnessing the Lord and exalting Him isn’t about how we interpret the Bible. The key is whether or not we can practice God’s words, experience His work, and obtain true knowledge of God. If people love and pursue the truth, they will obtain the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and true experience and knowledge of God’s words. This knowledge is created by practicing and experiencing God’s words. It is true knowledge of God. Communicating these real experiences and testimonies is what it means to truly exalt God and bear witness to Him. What those who exalt and bear witness to God speak of does not come from their own conceptions, imaginings or logic; it definitely does not come from their literal interpretation of God’s words or empty theological theories. They focus on communicating God’s words as stated in the Bible, communicating God’s will, His demands toward people, His disposition, and all that He has and is, allowing us to understand God’s will and disposition and truly know God. It allows us to obey God, fear God and shun evil. These kinds of biblical interpretations and communications about God’s words are how they can truly exalt God and bear witness to God. However, when the pastors and elders interpret the Bible, can they really communicate the reality of the truth of God’s words? Can they communicate God’s will? Can they bear witness to God’s disposition? Can they make us know, obey or revere God? The facts have shown us that most of the pastors and elders in the religious community hate the truth and resist God; that is their true nature. They do not practice God’s words or experience His work. They do not understand His will or demands at all, and they certainly do not understand His disposition, all that He has, or all that He is. Therefore, they cannot communicate any true knowledge of God, and they cannot bear witness to the Lord Jesus’ divine substance or lovable qualities. They just interpret dead words in the Bible and theological theories, or some of the stories about biblical characters and their historical backgrounds, to make people admire and look up to them. They’re not exalting or bearing witness to the Lord at all.
Not only that, but most of the time the religious pastors and elders are interpreting man’s words, like Paul’s words in the Bible. According to Paul, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2Ti 3:16), they take all the words of the Bible as if they were God’s words. This has caused the entire religious community to take the words of the apostles as the words of God and tell believers to practice and observe them. They’re quoting the words of the apostles more and more frequently when they give sermons, fellowship, or bear witness. However, they’re quoting the words of God and the Lord Jesus less and less. What result does this bring? The end result is that God and the Lord Jesus’ words in the Bible have all been replaced and nullified by the words of human beings. The Lord Jesus’ place in our hearts is continually diminishing, while the status of Paul and other men in our hearts continues to grow bigger. This has allowed Paul’s and the other men’s words in the Bible to occupy our hearts. We believe in the Lord Jesus in name, but in reality we’re just proceeding according to the writings of some men in the Bible, like Paul’s. We are traveling along our own path of faith in God, with men’s words, especially Paul’s words, replacing the Lord Jesus’ words. If we believe in God this way won’t we stray from the Lord’s way? How can this type of service be in accordance with God’s will? For instance, the Lord Jesus once said this regarding entering the kingdom of heaven: “but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven” (Mat 7:21). However, the pastors and elders always prefer to use Paul’s words, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” (2Ti 4:7–8). They teach us that as long as we labor for the Lord like Paul did, we can enter the heavenly kingdom. This is a complete betrayal of the Lord Jesus’ words. The result is that most of us believers do not know how to follow God’s will. We’re even less clear of what kind of people can enter the kingdom of heaven. We use Paul’s words as our maxims. The pastors and elders substitute the words of men for the words of the Lord. In doing so, they exclude the words of the Lord. The result is that they lead people astray. When they interpret the Bible this way, are they helping us understand the Lord’s words? Are they exalting or bearing witness to the Lord? Are they guiding us to enter the reality of God’s words? I think they are in direct opposition to God, and this problem is very serious! The religious pastors and elders often substitute men’s words in the Bible for God’s words. We should now be clear about the consequences of this, right? How can so many people believe in the Lord for years and still not know Him? Why do they never really experience the Lord’s words? How can people that believe in the Lord this way ever obtain the truth or life? Isn’t this because the pastors and elders continually interpret the words of men from the Bible and urge us to stick to their interpretations?
Almighty God’s work in the last days exposed these pastors and elders, these antichrist demons in the religious community. Otherwise, no one would be able to see that their exaltations and interpretations of the Bible are actually their insidious ways to deceive and control people, nor would anyone be able to see the truth: They are enemies of God bent on establishing their own independent kingdom. As is known to all, in the Lord Jesus’ time the Pharisees exalted and bore witness to the Bible; they tried to keep God within their scriptures. They never sought the truth or searched for God’s footsteps, and wantonly condemned and opposed the Lord Jesus because of the fact that the Lord Jesus’ words and work went beyond the Bible. The pastors and elders in the last days are just like those Pharisees: They exalt and bear witness to the Bible; they define God as being the God in the Bible. They also disseminate lies, saying, “None of God’s words and work exist outside of the Bible,” “To believe in the Bible is to believe in God. If someone strays from the Bible, they no longer believe in God.” They say this to mislead us into blindly believing in and worshiping the Bible. The pastors and elders are using these secret, underhanded methods to steal us from God, and make us kneel before the Bible. This causes us to subconsciously lose our relationship with God. We who once believed in God now only believe in the Bible. The Bible has become the Lord in our hearts, God in our hearts. God’s place in believers’ hearts is unknowingly diminishing, and so their blind belief in and worshiping of the Bible causes them to worship and follow the biblical scholars, the pastors and elders. Is the religious pastors and leaders’ exalting and bearing witness to the Bible any different from that of the Jewish chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees? No, not at all. The pastors and elders use the Bible as a tool to control the religious community and achieve their own ambitions. They exalt the Bible and interpret it out of context to deceive and control us. They subconsciously lead us down the path of following and worshiping men and being enemies of God. They mislead many people into thinking that worshiping the Bible and adhering to the Bible is the same as believing in God and having the presence of God. Therefore, these people do not seek or study God’s work in the last days, and miss their chance of meeting the Lord’s return and being raptured into the kingdom of heaven. This really is Satan’s most insidious and cunning plan. Therefore, we can see that the pastors and elders in the religious community are a group of genuine conmen and Pharisees! They are false shepherds and antichrists that mislead and control God’s chosen people! The religious community is controlled by a group of Pharisees and antichrist demons that resist God. It ceased to be a community where God could do His work long ago. It has become a satanic camp that takes God as its enemy. It became the great city Babylon long ago! How can the religious Babylon not fall under God’s wrath?
Excerpted from Classic Questions and Answers on the Gospel of the Kingdom