Is Following Religious Leaders Following God?
2,000 years ago, our Savior thecame to do the work of redemption and was madly condemned by the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees of the Jewish faith. Because most of the Judaists adored their religious leaders, they went along with those antichrists in condemning and rejecting the Lord Jesus, ultimately having a hand in crucifying Him. This was a tremendous sin and earned them God’s damnation and punishment, dooming the nation of Israel for 2,000 years. The Lord Jesus has returned in the last days as incarnate, expressing truths and doing judgment work to fully cleanse and save mankind. He also faces the crazed condemnation and resistance of religious leaders. They seal off their churches, standing in the way of believers looking into the true way, leaving many people afraid to investigate and accept it even though they’ve clearly seen that Almighty are the truth, that they’re powerful, authoritative, and come from God. As a result, many are losing their chance to welcome the Lord and are falling into disasters. Where have they gone wrong as far as welcoming the Lord goes? It’s because they adulate their religious leaders! They believe religious leaders were put in place by God and are used by God, that obeying them is obeying God, so they follow along completely with them, submitting to their words as if they’d come from God. Many also think that the Lord Jesus is certain to tell the clergy first when He returns, so not hearing it from them proves that He hasn’t come back. Then they don’t even attempt to investigate Almighty God’s work, but follow the religious leaders in condemning Him. And so they’re falling into the disasters, losing their chance at being raptured. Whose fault is this? There’s no simple answer. The Pharisees who long ago resisted and condemned the Lord Jesus were damned by God, and many in the religious world today haven’t learned that painful lesson from them. Because they blindly worship their clergy, they’re going along with them in condemning the Lord Jesus returned, nailing God to the cross once again. This really is a shame! So then, have the religious leaders actually been put in place by God? Is submitting to them the same as following God? Gaining clarity on this is a pressing matter.
Many believers think the religious leaders, clergy such as the Pope, bishops, pastors, and elders, are appointed and used by the Lord Jesus and have the authority to lead believers, so obeying them is obeying God. What is the basis of this belief? Did the Lord Jesus ever say that all religious leaders were put in place by God? He never did. Do they have the Holy Spirit’s testimony, or proof of the Spirit’s work? No. This means this idea is purely a human notion. Let’s think about it. According to this human idea that religious leaders are all put in place by God, then could that also be true about the Jewish chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees who resisted and condemned the Lord Jesus? Was following them in crucifying the Lord Jesus also submitting to God? This is clearly an absurd way to treat clergy! We can also see from the Bible that in God’s work in every age, He does appoint people to help with His work. All those people are personally called on and testified to by God and God’s words show this. They are never appointed by other humans, and they aren’t trained by humans. Think of the Age of Law, when God used Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Jehovah God’s own words bore witness to this. Jehovah God said to Moses, “Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come to Me: and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring forth My people the children of Israel out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:9–10). In the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus used Peter to shepherd the churches, and He bore witness to Peter, too. The Lord Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, son of John, love you Me? … Feed My sheep” (John 21:17). “And I say also to you, That you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 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 16:18–19). God personally puts in place and bears witness to the people He uses in each age, and this is verified by the Holy Spirit’s work. In the Ages of Law and Grace, sometimes those God used were personally established and borne witness to by Him. Sometimes He used other methods. Without His direct appointment, He’d reveal this through prophets, or there was proof of the Holy Spirit’s work. This is undeniable. In today’s religious world, who gave the Pope, bishops, priests, pastors, and elders the positions they hold? Is there proof of God’s words or the Holy Spirit’s work? Has the Spirit borne witness to them? Hardly at all! In fact, all those religious leaders within the churches have mostly graduated from seminaries and theological schools and have degrees in theology. Diploma in hand, they are assigned to churches to lead believers. Some are gifted and eloquent, and learn their work well, so they are appointed or recommended by upper leadership and rise in the ranks. Nearly all the religious world’s clergy gain their posts this way, but most lack the Holy Spirit’s work. A small percentage of them may have some of the Spirit’s work, but they don’t have His testimony. So we can be sure that they are not people God bears witness to or uses. They are very clearly fostered and chosen by other people, so why would they insist that they’re put in place by God? Isn’t that going against the facts? Isn’t that brazenly lying and testifying to themselves? What are the consequences of this? Isn’t that deceiving and harming believers? Some religious leaders even quote the Lord Jesus’ words calling on Peter to shamelessly claim that the authority the Lord Jesus bestowed upon Peter is handed down to the Pope, so the Pope is authorized by God and can represent the Lord Jesus, and since the priests follow the Pope, they’re also authorized by God, so they can forgive sins. Isn’t that ludicrous? Did the Lord Jesus ever tell Peter to pass down the authority bestowed upon him to generations of clergy? The Lord Jesus never said that! Did Peter ever convey such things? Absolutely not! No such thing is written in the Bible. It’s also a fact that there was no Pope, there were no priests at that time. So those religious leaders who proclaim they’re authorized by God and can represent the Lord Jesus are pretending to be God and misleading people, right? Aren’t those who obey and bow down to them worshiping idols? Isn’t that working against God? Many people don’t understand this, and they keep blindly worshiping their leaders, thinking they were put in place by God. Can you see how foolish and ignorant this is? How is this different from unbelievers worshiping idols? If you’re a believer but don’t follow the word of God, if you worship and kneel before other humans to confess your sins as if they are God, aren’t you disrespecting and blaspheming God? Can those who foolishly do this be saved by God? Probably not. Those who foolishly do this cannot gain God’s approval.
We need to be clear that God appointing someone isn’t casual or arbitrary. There has to be proof. There was proof of God appointing Moses, and at least the Israelites knew that. The Lord Jesus’ appointment of Peter was also real, which was known by the apostles. So, a claim that God has put someone in place needs a factual basis. No human can arbitrarily claim this. We can also see that anyone God puts in place will have the Holy Spirit’s guidance and verification from the Holy Spirit. Their work can carry out God’s will and it will achieve very clear results. They can carry out God’s commission. Let’s see what Almighty God has to say. “In terms of the essence of his work and the background of his use, the man who is used by God is raised up by Him, he is prepared by God for God’s work, and he cooperates in the work of God Himself. No person could ever do his work in his stead—this is human cooperation that is indispensable alongside the divine work. The work carried out by other workers or apostles, meanwhile, is but the conveyance and implementation of the many aspects of the arrangements for the churches during each period, or else the work of some simple provision of life in order to maintain the church life. These workers and apostles are not appointed by God, much less can they be called those who are used by the Holy Spirit. They are selected from among the churches and, after they have been trained and cultivated for a period of time, those who are fit are kept on, while those who are unfit are sent back to where they came from. Because these people are selected from among the churches, some show their true colors after becoming leaders, and some even do many bad things and end up being eliminated. The man who is used by God, on the other hand, is someone who has been prepared by God, and who possesses a certain caliber, and has humanity. He has been prepared and made perfect in advance by the Holy Spirit, and is completely led by the Holy Spirit, and, particularly when it comes to his work, he is directed and commanded by the Holy Spirit—as a result of this there is no deviation on the path of leading God’s chosen ones, for God surely takes responsibility for His own work, and God does His own work at all times” (“Concerning God’s Use of Man” in).
Almighty God’s words show us that God prepares far in advance those He appoints and uses for His work, that they are the ones God raises up to lead His chosen people. Their work and sermons are entirely through the Holy Spirit’s provision and guidance, and anyone who hasn’t been personally appointed by God could never replace them. Moses in the Age of Law and Peter in the Age of Grace strictly adhered to God’s words and demands to lead His chosen people, and God was always with them, guiding them at every single turn. God never uses a wrong person or someone who works against Him. He is always responsible for His own work. Those God uses are constantly enlightened by the Holy Spirit in their work and words and can share a pure understanding of God’s words to help God’s chosen people understand His utterances, His will, and His demands. They can always use the truth to help God’s chosen people with their practical struggles with entering into the reality of God’s words and the right track in their faith. When God’s chosen people accept and submit to the shepherding of those used by God they can gain true sustenance for their lives, gradually gain more understanding of the truth, know God’s work and disposition better, and expand their faith and love for God. That’s why they’re supported by God’s chosen people who know in their hearts that those people are put in place by God and are after God’s heart. When we accept and submit to their leadership, this is following and submitting to God and is in line with God’s will. Those God uses are put in place in order to lead His chosen people to experience God’s work and follow Him, and their work and sermons are entirely from the Holy Spirit’s leadership and enlightenment. Accepting and submitting to their leadership is actually submitting to God. Resisting them is resisting God, and will result in being exposed and eliminated by God, or maybe even damned and punished. Just like when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, the band of Korah and Dathan who fought against him were punished by God. That’s a clear fact.
Let’s take a look at today’s religious leaders, the Pope, the bishops and priests in Catholicism, and the pastors, elders, and other clergy in Christianity. Have they been put in place by God? Has God spoken in support of them? Do they have proof from the Holy Spirit’s work? Do they have proof from the fruits of their work? They have none of this. This proves that they were chosen by humans, not appointed by God. Since we’ve seen that they were fostered within seminaries and appointed by official religious institutes, we know to be very cautious. Most of them don’t believe in the truth or have genuine faith in God. They believe in theology, in their position and title, in the living they make from it. No matter how elevated their biblical knowledge is or how good their sermons are, they don’t have the Holy Spirit’s work and guidance, or the Spirit’s enlightenment. This shows us that they are false shepherds, nonbelievers and God does not acknowledge them. So isn’t worshiping and following them incredibly foolish? On top of them lacking the testimony of God’s words and proof from the Holy Spirit, there is one critical piece of evidence that can help us see them for what they are. Almighty God has expressed so many truths, openly revealing people’s true colors, if they love the truth or not, if they acknowledge the truth or not, if they accept the truth or not, and if they hate and reject the truth. It’s all revealed. Those who acknowledge Almighty God’s words are the truth, that He is God in the flesh, are those that love the truth and have God’s approval. They are the wise virgins who hear God’s voice and are raptured up before His throne. If someone sees that Almighty God has expressed so many truths but keeps opposing, condemning, and denying God’s appearance and work, this means they despise the truth, and they are antichrists who resist and condemn God. They have already fallen into the disasters and are bound to be punished by God. It’s not just Catholic and Christian leaders, but leaders and personages from all denominations who are working against Almighty God, almost without exception. The religious world is in the clutches of this gang of antichrists. This is a well-known fact that no one can deny. So if we know that these bishops, priests, pastors, and elders are part of a gang of antichrists resisting and condemning Almighty God’s work, how should we approach that? We should reject and curse them, and free ourselves from their strictures. That is being wise. If we continue looking to them for the true way, keep expecting them to tell us what’s right or wrong, that is incredibly foolish, and it’s blind and ignorant! The blind leading the blind will end up in ruin. This fulfills the Bible verses: “Fools die for want of wisdom” (Proverbs 10:21). “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).
It’s perfectly clear that Catholic and Christian leaders, along with leaders from all other denominations, are openly condemning Almighty God. To keep their status and paycheck, they’re keeping believers firmly within their grasp, taking their money, feeding off believers like parasites, like demons feasting on their corpses. These antichrists spread all sorts of evil lies in order to maintain their positions and livelihoods, saying any news of the Lord’s coming is false, that the Lord Jesus absolutely has to come on a cloud, that accepting the Lord’s second incarnation is accepting a false Christ. They tell lies to mislead people, doing all they can to keep believers from investigating the true way. They even align themselves with the CCP to arrest and persecute those sharing the kingdom gospel. How are these religious leaders any different from the Pharisees who opposed the Lord Jesus in His day? Aren’t they all people who crucify God? Aren’t they all false shepherds and antichrists who lead people astray and ruin them? Think of the Lord Jesus’ words condemning the Pharisees: “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). We can see that most religious leaders today are no different from the Pharisees who madly resisted the Lord Jesus and stood in the way of believers. They all hate God and work against Him, and they are the antichrist demons of the last days.
Here are some more passages of Almighty God’s words. Almighty God says, “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?” (“Only to Pursue the Truth Is Truly to Believe in God” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days).
“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?” (“All People Who Do Not Know God Are People Who Oppose God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“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).
Now I’m sure we’re all clear that most religious leaders are antichrists who hate the truth, hate God, evil servants and false shepherds who lead people astray. Listening to them and submitting to them is not submitting to God, and it isn’t following God. It’s following Satan and opposing God, becoming Satan’s accomplice, someone who God detests and damns. So as believers, we have to be aware that we have to magnify God, fear Him, submit to Him and the truth. We can’t ever worship or follow humans. Just as the Lord Jesus said, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve” (Matthew 4:10). If a religious leader is someone who loves the truth, if their words accord with the Lord’s and they lead us to fear God and shun evil, then following and submitting to those words that accord with the truth is submitting to God. If their words don’t accord with the truth, if they go against the Lord’s words, we have to reject them. If we keep following them, that’s following a person, following Satan. If a religious leader rejects and despises the truth, and keeps others from investigating the true way, they are an antichrist and we should stand on God’s side, exposing and rejecting them, and dare to say “No,” escape their control, seek and accept the true way, and keep up with God’s footsteps. That is true faith, truly following God, and is in line with His will. Just like Peter said when he was taken by the chief priests and Pharisees: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
Let’s read another passage from Almighty God. “Of principal importance in following God is that everything should be according to the words of God today: Whether you are pursuing entry into life or the fulfillment of God’s will, everything should be centered around the words of God today. If what you commune and pursue are not centered around the words of God today, then you are a stranger to the words of God, and totally bereft of the work of the Holy Spirit. What God wants are people who follow His footsteps. No matter how wonderful and pure what you understood before is, God does not want it, and if you are unable to put aside such things, then they will be a tremendous obstacle to your entry in the future. All those who are able to follow the present light of the Holy Spirit are blessed. The people of ages past also followed the footsteps of God, yet they could not follow until today; this is the blessing of the people of the last days. Those who can follow the present work of the Holy Spirit, and who are able to follow the footsteps of God, such that they follow God wherever He leads them—these are people who are blessed by God. Those who do not follow the present work of the Holy Spirit have not entered into the work of God’s words, and no matter how much they work, or how great their suffering, or how much they run about, none of it means anything to God, and He will not commend them. … ‘Following the work of the Holy Spirit’ means understanding the will of God today, being able to act in accordance with the present requirements of God, being able to obey and follow the God of today, and entering in accordance with the newest utterances of God. Only this is someone who follows the work of the Holy Spirit and is in the stream of the Holy Spirit. Such people are not only capable of receiving God’s praise and seeing God, but can also know God’s disposition from the latest work of God, and can know man’s notions and disobedience, and man’s nature and essence, from His latest work; furthermore, they are able to gradually achieve changes in their disposition during their service. Only people such as this are those who are able to gain God, and who have genuinely found the true way” (“Know God’s Newest Work and Follow His Footsteps” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Now I’m sure we’re clearer that having faith and following God is about submitting to and accepting the truth, accepting God’s current work and words, and keeping up with His footsteps. No matter how far God’s work is from people’s notions or how many people resist and condemn it, as long as it’s the truth and God’s work, we have to accept and submit to it. Only that is having faith and following God. As it says in Revelation: “These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Revelation 14:4). In the last days, Almighty God is here working and has expressed many truths. He does the work of judgment beginning with God’s house to fully cleanse and save mankind, saving us from evil and Satan’s forces. This is an unmissable opportunity and our only path to being saved and entering God’s kingdom. Now more and more people across the world who long for God’s appearance have been looking into Almighty God’s work online. They’ve seen that His words are all the truth, that they’re God’s voice. They’re freeing themselves from the bonds of religious leaders, coming out from their churches’ control and coming before God’s throne to attend the Lamb’s wedding feast. But there are still many in the religious world who blindly follow and worship the clergy, who are constrained and taken in by antichrist forces. They are tightly controlled within the wasteland, waiting in vain for the Lord to come on a cloud, long ago rejected and eliminated by God, weeping and gnashing their teeth in the disasters. This is the fulfillment of the Lord Jesus’ words “And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14). They claim to believe in God, but in fact, they go against God and follow people. God sees them as nonbelievers. God is a holy God who hates evil and His righteousness is unoffendable. He would never save those who adulate humans, who follow antichrists in opposing and blaspheming God. God would never save anyone who doesn’t love or accept the truth, but blindly clings to the Bible. God’s will is to set people free from religious Babylon, so we’re no longer constrained by the religious world’s antichrist forces’ restrictions, and we can come out from religion to seek the truth and seek God’s work so we have hope of welcoming God’s appearance and work.
Let’s look at more of Almighty God’s words. “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 reverence. 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” (“Are You a True Believer in God?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).