110. The Principles of Distinguishing Between Real and False Churches
(1) Determine whether the Holy Spirit is at work in the life of a church; whether its congregation eats and drinks of God’s words and genuinely fellowships on the truth; and whether or not this yields a practical effect;
(2) Determine whether the leaders of the church love and pursue the truth; whether they are possessed of the work of the Holy Spirit; and whether they genuinely understand the truth and put it into practice;
(3) Determine whether it is, in fact, the truth that reigns in the church, or evil people; and whether it is pursuers of the truth who reign there, or evil people and troublemakers;
(4) Only an assembly of people who pursue the truth and are possessed of the work of the Holy Spirit qualify as a church; where evil and muddled people gather is a venue of religion, not a church.
Relevant Words of God:
In each stage of God’s work there are also corresponding requirements of man. All those who are within the stream of the Holy Spirit are possessed of the presence and discipline of the Holy Spirit, and those who are not within the stream of the Holy Spirit are under the command of Satan, and without any of the work of the Holy Spirit. People who are in the stream of the Holy Spirit are those who accept the new work of God, and who cooperate in the new work of God. If those who are within this stream are incapable of cooperating, and unable to put into practice the truth required by God during this time, then they will be disciplined, and at worst will be forsaken by the Holy Spirit. Those who accept the new work of the Holy Spirit, will live within the stream of the Holy Spirit, and they will receive the care and protection of the Holy Spirit. Those who are willing to put the truth into practice are enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and those who are unwilling to put the truth into practice are disciplined by the Holy Spirit, and may even be punished. Regardless of what kind of person they are, provided that they are within the stream of the Holy Spirit, God will take responsibility for all those who accept His new work for the sake of His name. Those who glorify His name and are willing to put His words into practice will receive His blessings; those who disobey Him and do not put His words into practice will receive His punishment. People who are in the stream of the Holy Spirit are those who accept the new work, and since they have accepted the new work, they should cooperate appropriately with God, and should not act as rebels who do not perform their duty. This is God’s only requirement of man. Not so for the people who do not accept the new work: They are outside the stream of the Holy Spirit, and the discipline and reproach of the Holy Spirit do not apply to them. All day, these people live within the flesh, they live within their minds, and all that they do is according to the doctrine produced by the analysis and research of their own brains. This is not what is required by the Holy Spirit’s new work, much less is it cooperation with God. Those who do not accept the new work of God are bereft of the presence of God, and, moreover, devoid of the blessings and protection of God. Most of their words and actions hold to the past requirements of the Holy Spirit’s work; they are doctrine, not truth. Such doctrine and regulation are sufficient to prove that the gathering together of these people is nothing but religion; they are not the chosen ones, or the objects of God’s work. The assembly of all those among them can only be called a grand congress of religion, and cannot be called a church. This is an unalterable fact. They do not have the Holy Spirit’s new work; what they do seems redolent of religion, what they live out seems replete with religion; they do not possess the presence and work of the Holy Spirit, much less are they eligible to receive the discipline or enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. These people are all lifeless corpses, and maggots that are devoid of spirituality. They have no knowledge of man’s rebelliousness and opposition, have no knowledge of all of man’s evildoing, much less do they know all of God’s work and God’s present will. They are all ignorant, base people, and they are scum that are unfit to be called believers! Nothing they do has any bearing on the management of God, much less can it impair God’s plans. Their words and actions are too disgusting, too pathetic, and simply unworthy of mention. Nothing done by those who are not within the stream of the Holy Spirit has anything to do with the new work of the Holy Spirit. Because of this, no matter what they do, they are without the discipline of the Holy Spirit, and, moreover, without the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. For they are all people who have no love for the truth, and who have been detested and rejected by the Holy Spirit. They are called evildoers because they walk in the flesh and do whatever pleases them under the signboard of God. While God works, they are deliberately hostile to Him, and run in the opposite direction to Him. Man’s failure to cooperate with God is supremely rebellious in itself, so will not those people who deliberately run counter to God particularly receive their just retribution? At the mention of these people’s evildoing, some people are eager to curse them, whereas God ignores them. To man, it appears that their actions concern God’s name, but in fact, to God, they bear no relation to His name or to the testimony to Him. No matter what these people do, it is unrelated to God: It is unrelated to both His name and His current work. These people humiliate themselves, and manifest Satan; they are evildoers who are hoarding for the day of wrath.
Excerpted from “God’s Work and Man’s Practice” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
What name does God give to the religion of those who believed in Jehovah? Judaism. They became a kind of religious group. And how does God designate the religion of those who believe in Jesus? (Christianity.) In God’s eyes, Judaism and Christianity represent religious groups. Why does God define them as such? Among all those who are members of these religious bodies defined by God, are there any who fear Him and shun evil, do His will, and follow His way? (No.) This makes it clear. In God’s eyes, can all those who nominally follow Him be ones whom He acknowledges to be believers? Do they all have a connection with God? Could they all be targets for His salvation? (No.) So, will a day come when you are reduced to what God views as a religious group? (It’s possible.) Being reduced to a religious group—that seems inconceivable. If people become part of a religious group in God’s eyes, will they be saved by Him? Are they of His house? (No, they aren’t.) So, let us try to summarize: These people who nominally believe in the true God, but whom He believes to belong to religious groups—what path do they walk? Could it be said that such people walk the path of waving the flag of faith without ever following God’s way, and of believing in Him yet never worshiping Him, instead forsaking Him? That is, they walk the path of believing in God but forsaking Him and not following His way; their way is one in which they believe in God but worship Satan, they worship the devil, they try to carry out their own management, and try to establish their own kingdom. Is this not the essence of it? Do people like this have any connection to God’s management plan for the salvation of humanity? (No.) No matter how many people believe in God, as soon as their beliefs are defined by Him as being those of a religion or group, He has already determined that they cannot be saved. Why do I say this? In a gang or crowd of people who are without the work and guidance of God, and who do not worship Him at all, whom do they worship? Whom do they follow? In form and name, they follow a person, but whom do they essentially follow? Deep down, they acknowledge God, but in fact, they are subject to human manipulation, arrangements, and control. They follow Satan, the devil; they follow the forces that are hostile to God and that are His enemies. Would God save a pack of people such as this? (No.) Why not? Are they capable of repentance? (No.) They wave the flag of faith, carrying out human enterprises and conducting their own management, and they run counter to God’s management plan for mankind’s salvation. Their final outcome is one of being detested and rejected by God; He could not possibly save these people, they could not possibly repent, they have already been captured by Satan—they are entirely in Satan’s hands. In your faith, does how many years you have believed in God matter to whether or not you are praised by Him? Do the rituals and regulations you abide by matter? Does God look at people’s methods of practice? Does He look at how many people there are? He has selected one portion of mankind; how does He measure whether they can and should be saved? He bases this decision on the paths these people walk. In the Age of Grace, although the truths that God told people were less numerous than today, and not as specific, He could still perfect people at the time, and salvation was still possible. Thus, as for the people of this age who have heard many truths and have come to understand God’s will, if they are incapable of following His way and unable to walk the path of salvation, then what will their final outcome be? Their final outcome will be the same as that of believers in Christianity and Judaism; there will be no difference. This is God’s righteous disposition! Regardless of how many sermons you have heard or how many truths you have understood, if, ultimately, you still follow humans and Satan, and in the end, if you are still incapable of following God’s way and unable to fear Him and shun evil, then such people will be detested and rejected by God. To all appearances, such people who are detested and rejected by God can talk much about letters and doctrines, and may have come to understand many truths, yet they are incapable of worshiping God; they cannot fear God and shun evil, and are incapable of total submission to Him. In God’s eyes, He defines them as part of a religion, as just a group of humans—a gang of humans—and as a lodging place for Satan. They are collectively referred to as Satan’s gang, and these people are utterly despised by God.
Excerpted from “Only by Constantly Living Before God Can One Walk the Path to Salvation” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
What exactly is the house of God? If it were defined theoretically, the house of God is a place where the truth reigns, an assemblage of people whose principles of practice are the words of God. … The house of God is the place where God works and speaks, where God saves people, where God’s words are practiced and brought to fruition by people, where God’s purpose and will can be carried out unobstructed, and where God’s management plan is implemented and accomplished. In sum, the house of God is the place where God holds power, where God’s words and the truth reign; it is not the place where any individual exercises authority, conducts their own operation, or achieves their own desires, schemes, or grand designs.
Excerpted from “They Treat the House of God Like Their Personal Domain” in Exposing Antichrists
No matter how many people perform their duties in a church, whether there are two or dozens, the moment they lose the work of the Holy Spirit, they are not experiencing the work of God, and they have no connection to and no part in God’s work. They have become a religious group. Aren’t these people in great danger? They never seek the truth when faced with problems and they don’t act according to the truth principles, but are subject to the arrangements and manipulations of human beings. There are even many who, while performing their duty, never pray or seek the truth principles; they only ask others and do as others say, acting on cues from others. Wherever other people may point, there they themselves go. In their faith, they feel that truth-seeking is vague and troublesome, while relying on others and doing what others say is easy and most practical, and so they do what is most straightforward and painless, asking others and doing as they say in everything. As a result, even after believing for many years, when faced with a problem, they have never once come before God, praying and seeking His will and the truth, and then achieving an understanding of the truth, and acting and behaving according to God’s will—they’ve never had such an experience. Do such people really practice faith in God? I wonder: Why, as soon as some people become part of a group, is it easy for them—in form—to instantly change from being someone who believes in God to someone who believes in man, and from being someone who follows God to someone who follows man? Why do they change so quickly? Why do they behave that way even after believing in God for so many years? They’ve believed in God all these years, but oddly, God has never had a place in their hearts. They’ve never had any connection to God. Their actions, words, life, their conduct and handling of matters, even the performance of their duty and their service to God—all that they do, all of the behaviors they reveal, all that they express, and even their every thought or idea—none of this has any connection to faith in God. So is this person one of the true believers? Can the sum of someone’s years in the faith reveal how great their stature in their belief in God is? Is it proof of whether they have a normal relationship with God? Absolutely not.
Excerpted from “Only by Constantly Living Before God Can One Walk the Path to Salvation” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
False leaders often say things that seem correct on the surface, in order to confuse and mislead people, which in turn has a negative impact on those people’s life entry. This also leads to some consequences that should never occur. False leaders’ so-called spiritual sayings and turns of phrase may be called heresies and fallacies. It does not superficially sound like there is anything wrong with them, but they actually serve as obstacles, disruptions, and confusion in people’s life entry and on the path they walk. They even cause some people to develop misunderstandings toward God and to form doubts and resistance toward God’s words. These are the effects that false leaders’ words have on people. False leaders use such heresies and fallacies to guide others, so that at the very time these people are following God, they are constantly giving rise to notions, defenses, and doubts about Him. So, under the false leaders’ confusion and influence, a new religion takes hold. This sort of new religion is just like the Christianity of 2,000 years ago, which only upholds human words and human teachings, such as the teachings of Paul or some other disciple, without adhering to God’s own way. What false leaders do is misleading, and they stand in the way of people taking the normal and proper path of pursuing the truth. They wrest people off the right track of pursuing the truth and onto a pseudo-spiritual path; they bring them into faith in the religious mode. When people are confused, led, and guided by false leaders, they constantly come up with theories, sayings, actions, or perspectives that have nothing to do with the truth, though they appear totally correct. These things are utterly at odds with and utterly unrelated to the truth. But under the guidance of false leaders, everyone takes these things as the truth and they all mistakenly believe that they really are the truth. They think that as long as someone speaks well and has belief in their heart and professes faith with their mouth, that person has gained the truth. Misled by these thoughts and views, people not only become unable to enter into the truth reality, or to enter into God’s words, or to put them into practice, or to live within His words, but instead end up growing ever further from God’s words. They seem to be doing everything in accordance with God’s words, but these so-called words of God bear no relation whatsoever to God’s requirements and His will. They have nothing to do with the truth principles. What, then, do they have to do with? The teachings of false leaders, the intentions of false leaders, and those false leaders’ own personal desires and understandings. Their way of leading brings more people into religious rituals and rigid rules, into the mere letter of doctrine, toward knowledge and philosophy. Although, in contrast with antichrists, false leaders do not bring others before themselves or before Satan, people’s hearts become taken over by these heresies and fallacies all the same. When people, consumed by these heresies and fallacies, mistakenly believe that they have already gained life, they become dyed-in-the-wool, unmitigated enemies to the truth, to God’s words, and to what God demands.
Excerpted from “Identifying False Leaders (2)” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Any church ruled by antichrists cannot be called a church, and anyone who has experienced this will understand it. There is no peaceful, happy, dynamic atmosphere; instead, an atmosphere of pandemonium prevails, in which everyone’s heart is deeply troubled with a sense of restlessness and unease, and they have a queasy feeling, as if a major disaster were about to occur. The speech and actions of antichrists can bring about a certain atmosphere, muddying people’s hearts, making them unable to distinguish between positive and negative things. In addition, when antichrists have deceived people for a long time, their hearts grow ever further from God, and their relationship with God is no longer a normal one, as though they are living within religion; nominally, they believe in God, yet God is not within their hearts. There is also a practical problem, which is that divisions appear in the church, and all those who love the truth neither enjoy meeting there nor gain a release, and they would like to leave the church and hold their own meetings. When the Holy Spirit is at work in a church, regardless of whether people understand the truth, everyone comes together to work toward a single endpoint, and the atmosphere is peaceful, stable, and undisturbed. However, as soon as the antichrists make a move, the atmosphere becomes restless and grotesque. Wherever they stir up trouble, cliques appear; people are on guard against each other, are judgmental of each other, attack each other, and undermine each other behind their back. What role are the antichrists obviously playing here? Their role is that of Satan’s lackeys. The consequences of the antichrists’ actions: One is that brothers and sisters judge each other, are suspicious of each other, and are on guard against each other; additionally, there are no longer any boundaries between men and women, and they gradually become close; another is that the visions in people’s hearts become blurred, and they no longer focus on practicing the truth, nor do they any longer know how to work in accordance with the truth principles. The few things they once understood are now gone, their thoughts are muddled, and they blindly follow the antichrists, focusing on outward displays and bustling about. Some people can sense that following the antichrists really is walking up a dead-end street, and they can sense how enjoyable it would be if everyone who pursued the truth were to meet together and perform their duty. When the antichrists seize power, the Holy Spirit is no longer at work, and brothers and sisters all fall into darkness inside, and they are no longer driven to believe in God or do their duty. If this continues for an extended period, will God not cast them out?
Excerpted from “They Behave in Strange and Mysterious Ways, They Are Arbitrary and Dictatorial, They Never Fellowship With Others, and They Force Others to Obey Them” in Exposing Antichrists
An antichrist turns their domain into a social group, into a gang of antichrists. They engage in abominable, destructive acts, and conduct themselves in speech and act as unbelievers. All of them are silver-tongued and glib, miscreants through and through, and they are insidious and evil. None of them accepts the truth. Outwardly, they pretend to be courteous, seem civilized, follow etiquette and the rules of comportment, and may even be educated, of good caliber and character. In reality, however, each of them is insidious, vile, deceitful, and evil. They conspire with one another, pulling strings. They care about power and prestige, about the relationships between ethnicities in society, about whose social power is greater, about whose status and renown is highest, and about who is best at social artifice. Hardly evident in this are God’s words, truth, and administrative decrees, as well as their faith. Their faith is but a game and a ruse. Such evil people turn the house of God into a social group, into the domain of evil people who conspire with one another, yet over and over, they say, “We believe in God and perform our duties in God’s house. We have done so-and-so in God’s house and followed God in such-and-such a way; we have done this for our brothers’ and sisters’ welfare, and that to help and support them, and the other to come together as a group,” and other grandiose statements like these. They treat their brothers and sisters with evil ways and human techniques and with satanic philosophies for living, in the ways that Satan treats evil people, and they replicate this formula in the house of God. All the while, they actually believe that they are acting for the sake of God’s house, helping their brothers and sisters, glorifying God, and bearing witness to Him. However, are these behaviors and tactics, in essence, not the behind-the-scenes manipulations of antichrists? The antichrists bring the followers of God under their sway, turning the church into their domain, into a social group, into a group of people who are under Satan’s domain. Could such a group be part of God’s family? (No.) Is it not disgusting that the antichrists do this? (It is.) Have you ever seen such a rabble of antichrists like this? What do you feel when you are among them? On the outside, they seem to be all gentleness—but when you fellowship the truth and the will of God with them, the attitude they display is diametrically opposed to their outward gentleness, that is, they are extremely repulsed and utterly uninterested. When you fellowship the truth with them, they feel you to be an outsider, and when you fellowship the work of the church, they feel so all the more; when you fellowship whether specific details of the work of the church have been carried out, and how well they have been carried out, they are likely to start nodding off and revealing a demonic likeness, they scratch their heads and pick their ears, they yawn, their eyes water, they might even sneeze. Is this not possession by an evil spirit? Why does their demonic likeness emerge as soon as you fellowship the truth? Does not each of them have much love in their hearts? How could they lose interest when you start to fellowship about the truth? Are they not thereby revealed? Do they not have great enthusiasm and commitment toward carrying out external tasks? And if they are committed, are they not possessed of reality? If they have reality, then they should be happy when they hear people fellowshiping the truth, they should yearn for it. So why does the phenomenon of possession by evil spirits arise? This proves that their usual gentleness is totally false—the truth has exposed them.
Excerpted from “They Treat the House of God Like Their Personal Domain” in Exposing Antichrists
Every church has people who cause trouble for the church or meddle in the work of God. They are all Satans who have infiltrated the house of God in disguise. Such people are good at acting: They come before Me with great reverence, bowing and scraping, living like mangy dogs, and devoting their “all” to achieve their own objectives—but in front of the brothers and sisters, they show their ugly side. When they see people who practice the truth, they strike out at them and shove them aside; when they see people more formidable than themselves, they flatter and fawn upon them. They run wild in the church. It can be said that such “local bullies,” such “lapdogs,” exist in the majority of churches. They act devilishly together, sending each other winks and secret signals, and none of them practices the truth. Whoever has the most venom is the “head demon,” and whoever has the highest prestige leads them, bearing their flag aloft. These people rampage through the church, spreading their negativity, venting death, doing as they please, saying what they please, and no one dares to stop them. They brim with the disposition of Satan. No sooner do they cause a disturbance than an air of death enters the church. Those within the church who practice the truth are cast out, unable to give their all, while those who disturb the church and spread death run rampage within—and, what’s more, most people follow them. Such churches are ruled by Satan, plain and simple; the devil is their king. If the congregants do not rise up and reject the head demons, then they, too, will sooner or later come to ruin. From now on, measures must be taken against such churches. If those who are capable of practicing a little of the truth do not seek to, then that church will be expunged. If a church contains no one who is willing to practice the truth and no one who can stand witness for God, then that church should be completely isolated, and its connections with other churches must be severed. This is called “burying death”; this is what it means to cast out Satan. If a church contains several local bullies, and they are followed by “little flies” that entirely lack discernment, and if the congregants, even after having seen the truth, are still incapable of rejecting the binds and manipulation of these bullies, then all those fools will be eliminated in the end. These little flies might not have done anything terrible, but they are even more deceitful, even more slick and evasive, and everyone like this will be eliminated. Not a single one shall remain! Those who belong to Satan will be returned to Satan, while those who belong to God will surely go in search of the truth; this is decided by their natures. Let all those who follow Satan perish! No pity will be shown to such people. Let those who search for the truth be provided for, and may they take pleasure in God’s word to their hearts’ content. God is righteous; He would not show favoritism to anyone. If you are a devil, then you are incapable of practicing the truth; if you are someone who searches for the truth, then it is certain that you will not be taken captive by Satan. This is beyond all doubt.
Excerpted from “A Warning to Those Who Do Not Practice the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh