17. The Notion of the Religious World That: “Pastors and Elders Are Established by the Lord”

The religious world uses these words in the Bible, “Take heed therefore to yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to feed the church of God” (Acts 20:28), as a basis for believing that pastors and elders were established by the Lord, and that they should take the wheel and have the last word when it comes to the Lord’s return.

Words From the Bible

“And Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Barjona…. And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:17–19).

“He said to him, Feed My lambs” (John 21:15).

“You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve” (Matthew 4:10).

“We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

“Cursed be the man that trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from Jehovah” (Jeremiah 17:5).

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13).

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Matthew 23:15).

“Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14).

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)

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)

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 disturb 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?

—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. All People Who Do Not Know God Are People Who Oppose God

Look at the leaders of each religion and each denomination—they are all arrogant and self-righteous, and their interpretations of the Bible lack context and are guided by their own notions and imaginings. They all rely on gifts and knowledge 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 some doctrines, or they know how to win others over and make use of some tricks. They use these things to deceive people, and to bring people before themselves. Nominally, those people believe in God, but in reality, they follow these leaders. When they encounter someone preaching the true way, some of them say, “We have to consult our leader about matters of faith.” See how people need the agreement and approval of others when it comes to believing in God and accepting the true way—is this 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? Such people are of the same kind as Paul.

—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three

People who believe in God should obey God and worship Him. Do not exalt or look up to any person; do not put God first, the people you look up to second, and yourself third. No person should hold a place in your heart, and you should not consider people—particularly those you venerate—to be on a par with God or to be His equal. This is intolerable to God.

—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Ten Administrative Decrees That Must Be Obeyed by God’s Chosen People in the Age of Kingdom

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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Previous: 16. The Notion of the Religious World That: “When the Lord Returns, He Could Not Possibly Appear and Work in China”

Next: 18. The Notion of the Religious World That: “The Pope Is God’s Representative on Earth, When the Lord Returns, He Will First Reveal It to the Pope”

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Question 2: You say Paul’s words are not the truth. Then why are his words in the Bible? Paul’s words are written in the Bible. Therefore, they were inspired by God; they represent God’s words. We should pursue them!

Almighty God says, “… Paul’s letters in the New Testament to the churches were not the revelation of the Holy Spirit, nor words directly from the Holy Spirit; they were simply Paul’s exhortation, consolation, and encouragement to the churches during the time he worked, as well as a record of much work done by him. … Everything he said that edified others and had a positive effect was correct, but his words did not represent the words of the Holy Spirit, and did not represent God."

Question 1: The Lord’s promise is that He will come again to take us into the kingdom of heaven, and yet you testify that the Lord has already been incarnated to do the work of judgment in the last days. The Bible clearly prophesies that the Lord will descend with power and great glory on clouds. This is quite different from what you’ve testified, that the Lord has already been incarnated and secretly descended among men.

“And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him.” (Matthew 25:6) “… I come as a thief.” (Revelation 16:15) “Behold, he comes with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.” (Revelation 1:7)

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