2. The pastors and elders of the religious world are all well-versed in the Bible and often expound on it to others, asking that people adhere to the Bible. In so doing, do they not elevate and testify to the Lord? How can you say that they are deceiving people, that they are hypocritical Pharisees?
Relevant Words of God:
Look at the leaders of each denomination—they are all arrogant and self-righteous, and their interpretations of the Bible lack context and are guided by their own imaginings. They all rely on gifts and erudition to do their work. If they could not preach at all, would people follow them? They do, after all, possess some knowledge and can preach on some doctrine, or they know how to win others over and make use of some artifice. They use these to bring people before themselves and deceive them. Nominally, those people believe in God, but in reality, they follow their leaders. When they encounter someone preaching the true way, some of them say, “We have to consult our leader about our faith.” A human is the medium of their faith in God; 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?
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three
Anyone who does not understand the purpose of God’s work is one who opposes Him, and one who has come to understand the purpose of God’s work but still does not seek to satisfy God is even more to be deemed an opponent of God. 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, head 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? Those who hold themselves in high esteem in God’s presence are the most abject of men, while those who humble themselves are the most honored. And those who think they know the work of God and who are, moreover, capable of proclaiming the work of God to others with great fanfare even as they look directly at Him—these are the most ignorant of men. Such people are without the testimony of God, arrogant and full of conceit. Those who believe that they have too little knowledge of God, despite having actual experience and practical knowledge of Him, are those most beloved by Him. Only such people truly have testimony and are truly capable of being perfected by God.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. All People Who Do Not Know God Are People Who Oppose God
Since you believe in God, you must put faith in all of the words of God and in all of His work. Which is to say, since you believe in God, you must obey Him. If you are unable to do this, then it does not matter whether you believe in God or not. 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? Even those who are only half obedient cannot carry on until the end, much less these tyrants without the slightest obedience in their hearts! The work of God is not easily gained by man. Even using all the strength they have, people can only gain a mere portion of it, ultimately allowing them to be made perfect. What, then, of the children of the archangel, who seek to destroy the work of God? Do they not have even less hope of being gained by God?
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Those Who Obey God With a True Heart Shall Surely Be Gained by God
You are able to speak as much knowledge as there is sand on a beach, yet none of it contains any real path. Are you not trying to fool people by doing this? Are you not making an empty show, with no substance to back it up? All such behavior is harmful to people! The higher the theory and the more it is devoid of reality, the more it is incapable of taking people into reality; the higher the theory, the more it makes you defy and oppose God. Do not treat the loftiest theories like precious treasure; they are pernicious and serve no purpose! Perhaps some people are able to talk of the loftiest theories—but these contain nothing of reality, for these people have not personally experienced them, and therefore have no path to practice. Such people are incapable of taking others onto the right track and will only lead them astray. Is this not harmful to people? At the very least, you must be able to solve people’s present troubles and allow them to achieve entry; only this counts as dedication, and only then will you be qualified to work for God. Do not always speak grandiose, fanciful words, and do not use a bunch of unsuitable practices to bind others into obeying you. Doing so will have no effect and can only increase their confusion. Carrying on like this will produce much doctrine, which will make people loathe you. Such is the shortcoming of man, and it truly is mortifying.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Focus More on Reality
What was the chief manifestation of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees? They only pored over Scripture and did not seek the truth. When they read God’s words, they did not pray or seek; instead, they studied the words of God, they studied what God said and did, and so turned His words into a kind of theory, into a doctrine that they taught to others. This is what poring over God’s words is. So why did they do that? What was it they pored over? In their eyes, these were not the words of God, they were not the expressions of God, much less were they the truth, but rather a form of scholarship. Such scholarship, in their eyes, should be passed on, it should be spread, and only this would have been spreading the way of God and the gospel. This is what they called “preaching,” and the sermon they preached was theology.
… The Pharisees treated the theology and theory they had mastered as a kind of knowledge, as a tool for condemning people and measuring whether they were right or wrong. They even used it on the Lord Jesus—that was how the Lord Jesus was condemned. Their appraisal of people, and the way they treated them, was never based on their essence, or on whether what they said was right or wrong, much less on the source or provenance of their words. They just condemned and measured people based on unyielding words and doctrines that they had mastered. And so, even though these Pharisees knew that what the Lord Jesus did was not a sin, and did not contravene the law, they still condemned Him, because what the Lord Jesus said appeared to be at odds with the knowledge and scholarship they had mastered and the theological theory they expounded. And the Pharisees just would not loosen their grip on these words and phrases, they clung onto this knowledge and would not let it go. What was the only possible outcome in the end? They would not acknowledge that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah who would come, or that there was truth in what the Lord Jesus said, much less that what the Lord Jesus did was in keeping with the truth. They found some unsubstantiated charges to condemn the Lord Jesus with—but in fact, in their hearts, did they know whether these sins they condemned Him with were valid? They did. So why did they still condemn Him thus? (They did not want to believe that the high and mighty God in their minds could have been the Lord Jesus, this image of an ordinary Son of man.) They did not want to accept this fact. And what was the nature of their refusal to accept this? Was there not something of trying to reason with God in this? What they meant was, “Could God do that? If God were incarnated, He must surely be born of distinguished lineage. What’s more, He must accept the tutelage of scribes and Pharisees, learn this knowledge, and read much Scripture. Only after He possesses this knowledge can He take on the title of ‘incarnation’.” They believed that, firstly, You are not thus qualified, so You are not God; secondly, without this knowledge You cannot do the work of God, much less can You be God; thirdly, You cannot work outside the temple—You are not in the temple now, You are always among the sinners, so the work You do is beyond the scope of God’s work. Where did the basis of their condemnation come from? From Scripture, from the mind of man, and from the theological education they had received. Because they were swollen with notions, imaginings, and knowledge, they believed this knowledge to be right, to be the truth, to be the basis, and at no time could God contravene these things. Did they seek the truth? They did not. What they sought were their own notions and imaginings, and their own experiences, and they tried to use these to define God and determine whether He was right or wrong. What was the ultimate outcome of this? They condemned the work of God and nailed Him to the cross.
—The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Seven: They Are Evil, Insidious, and Deceitful (Part Three)
Many people hold up God’s words to read day by day, even to the point of carefully committing to memory all the classic passages therein as their most prized possession, and moreover preach God’s words everywhere, providing and aiding others with God’s words. They think that to do this is to bear witness to God, to bear witness to His words, that to do this is to follow God’s way; they think that to do this is to live by God’s words, that to do this is to bring His words into their actual lives, that doing this will enable them to receive God’s commendation, and to be saved and perfected. But, even as they preach the words of God, they never comply with God’s words in practice, or try to bring themselves in line with what is revealed in God’s words. Rather, they use God’s words to gain the adoration and trust of others by trickery, to enter into management on their own, and to embezzle and steal God’s glory. They hope, vainly, to exploit the opportunity afforded by spreading God’s words so as to be awarded God’s working and His commendation. How many years have gone by, but not only have these people been incapable of earning God’s commendation in the process of preaching God’s words, and not only have they been incapable of discovering the way that they should follow in the process of bearing witness to God’s words, and not only have they not aided or provided for themselves in the process of aiding and providing others with God’s words, and not only have they been incapable of knowing God, or awakening in themselves genuine reverence for God, in the process of doing all these things; but, on the contrary, their misunderstandings about God grow ever deeper, their mistrust of Him ever graver, and their imaginings about Him ever more hyperbolic. Supplied and guided by their theories about God’s words, they appear as if completely in their element, as if plying their skills with effortless ease, as if they have found their purpose in life, their mission, and as if they have won new life and been saved, as if, with God’s words rolling crisply off their tongue in recital, they have gained the truth, grasped God’s intentions, and discovered the path to knowing God, as if, in the process of preaching God’s words, they often have come face to face with God. Also, they are often “moved” to bouts of weeping, and, often led by the “God” in God’s words, they appear to be ceaselessly grasping at His earnest solicitude and kind intention, and at the same time to have grasped God’s salvation of man and His management, to have come to know His essence, and to have understood His righteous disposition. Based on this foundation, they seem to believe even more firmly in God’s existence, to be more cognizant of His exalted state, and to feel even more deeply His grandeur and transcendence. Steeped in superficial knowledge of God’s words, it would appear that their faith has grown, their resolve to endure suffering has strengthened, and their knowledge of God has deepened. Little do they know that, until they actually experience God’s words, all their knowledge of God and their ideas about Him come out of their own wishful imaginings and conjecture. Their faith would not hold up under any kind of test from God, their so-called spirituality and stature would simply not hold up under God’s trial or inspection, their resolution is but a castle built upon the sand, and their so-called knowledge of God no more than a figment of their imagination. In fact, these people, who have, as it were, put a lot of effort into God’s words, have never ever realized what is real faith, what is real obedience, what is real caring, or what is real knowledge of God. They take theory, imagination, knowledge, gift, tradition, superstition, and even the moral values of humanity, and make them into “capital” and “weaponry” for believing in God and following Him, even making them into the foundations of their belief in God and their following Him. At the same time, they also take this capital and weaponry and make them into magic talismans through which they know God, for facing and dealing with God’s inspections, trials, chastisement, and judgment. In the end, what they garner still consists of nothing more than conclusions about God that are steeped in religious connotation, in feudal superstition, and in all that is romantic, grotesque, and enigmatic. Their way of knowing and defining God is stamped in the same mold as that of people who believe only in Heaven Above, or the Old Man in the Sky, while God’s realness, His essence, His disposition, His possessions and being, and so forth—all that relates to the real God Himself—are things that their knowledge has failed to grasp, from which their knowledge is completely divorced, and even as far apart as the north and south poles. In this way, although these people live under the provision and nourishment of God’s words, they are nevertheless unable truly to tread the path of fearing God and shunning evil. The true reason for this is that they have never become acquainted with God, neither have they ever had genuine contact or communion with Him, and so it is impossible for them to arrive at mutual understanding with God, or to awaken in themselves genuine belief in, following of, or worship for God. That they should thus regard God’s words, that they should thus regard God—this perspective and attitude has doomed them to return empty-handed from their endeavors, has doomed them to never in all eternity be able to tread the path of fearing God and shunning evil. The goal for which they are aiming, and the direction in which they are going, signifies that they are God’s enemies through eternity, and that through eternity they will never be able to receive salvation.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. Preface