A Pastor’s True Colors
By Yangmu, Malaysia
I really used to look up to Pastor Li in my old church. He gave up his family and career and traveled all over to work for the Lord. I thought he was really devoted and a good servant. I’d help him with transportation expenses and my husband and I drove him to a lot of places where he shared the gospel. I also tithed ten percent of my earnings to him. He’d stay with us every time he came to visit the church and every evening he’d discuss the Bible and pray with us when he had time. He’d give us his blessings and he was just like a member of the family. At the time I felt God would definitely approve of me following Pastor Li in my faith, that I couldn’t go wrong. But then I accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days and gradually began to see his true colors as the facts revealed themselves.
Five years ago, I had the good fortune to hear Almighty God’s kingdom gospel. I recognized God’s voice in Almighty God’s words and determined that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus I’d been hoping for. Our whole family happily accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days. I was eager to share this wonderful news with Pastor Li, thinking how great it would be if he accepted God’s work of the last days, too, and led everyone in the Lamb’s footsteps. But then I remembered he’d told us plenty of times not to explore Eastern Lightning or have anything to do with members of The Church of Almighty God. He was always saying that the Lord will come on a cloud and any testimony that He’s come in the flesh is definitely false. And he said, “Absolutely never accept anything that’s not the Lord Jesus coming on a cloud.” This concerned me. Would he accept the gospel if I shared it with him? But then I thought of it another way: He was a long-time, hard-working believer. Surely he longed for the Lord’s return? I figured he’d recognize God’s voice if I just read Almighty God’s words to him.
Pastor Li came to stay with us about a month later and I said to him, “Pastor Li, I’ve gained some new understanding of the prophecies about the Lord’s return. Luke 17:24–25 says, ‘For as the lightning, that lightens out of the one part under heaven, shines to the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in His day. But first must He suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.’ And Matthew 24:27 says, ‘For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even to the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.’ These verses clearly mention the coming of the Son of man. This shows that the Lord will return in the last days to appear and work as the Son of man. The Son of man is born of man and possesses normal humanity. That’s a reference to God in the flesh. God’s spirit or spiritual body wouldn’t be called ‘the Son of man.’ ‘The coming of the Son of man’ refers to the Lord returning in the last days in the flesh to work.” At this point in my fellowship I thought Pastor Li would give it some thought, or want to know more about it, but to my surprise he just shot me down. He said, “There’s no way! Revelation clearly prophesies, ‘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). The Lord will come on a cloud for everyone to see. How could He come in the flesh?” I responded, “Pastor Li, that’s not the only biblical prophecy about His coming. There are also a lot of prophecies that He’ll come in the flesh, in secret. For example, ‘And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him’ (Matthew 25:6). ‘Behold, I come as a thief’ (Revelation 16:15). There’s also Revelation 3:20: ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.’ These mention ‘at midnight there was a cry made,’ ‘I come as a thief,’ and ‘I stand at the door, and knock.’ These all say He’ll come quietly, in secret. Taken together with the verses about Him coming as the Son of man, we can see that when the Lord returns in the last days, He’ll come in the flesh, in secret as the Son of man. If He came openly for all to see, why would people shout ‘behold, the bridegroom comes’? If the Lord came on a cloud, why would He knock at the door? If He came on a cloud and not any other way, how would these prophecies of the Lord coming in secret be fulfilled? It’s clear that His coming is in two stages. First He comes secretly in the flesh and then He appears openly on a cloud. The appearance and work of Almighty God in the last days fulfill the prophecies about the Lord coming in secret.” As soon as I said that, Pastor Li’s expression radically changed. He interrupted me angrily, saying, “You’ve joined Eastern Lightning, haven’t you?” I told him frankly, “Yes. Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned. He came among man secretly in the flesh long ago. He’s expressed millions of words and is doing the work of judgment beginning with God’s house to purify and save mankind. God’s work in secret is coming to a close and He’s made a group of overcomers in China. The great disasters will soon be here and God will look at people’s actions to reward good and punish evil. After that, He’ll appear to all nations and all peoples on a cloud. At that time everyone who has condemned and opposed Almighty God, Christ of the last days, will fall into the disasters, weeping and gnashing their teeth. People of all nations will cry bitterly, which will fulfill Revelation 1:7: ‘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.’” I was shocked when Pastor Li then shouted at me to hold my tongue. He said, “No matter how reasonable what you say is, I won’t believe anything except the Lord Jesus coming on a cloud. I’d rather die first!” I was dumbfounded to see this attitude from him. How was this the pastor I’d seen weeping in prayer, longing for the Lord’s return? Why didn’t he have the slightest desire to seek, but instead was so resistant to news of the Lord’s coming? I gave him this heartfelt suggestion: “Pastor Li, haven’t we been longing for the Lord to return? Now that He really has come, we should investigate it calmly and earnestly and see if Almighty God’s words are the voice of God. Then you’ll know if He’s the Lord Jesus returned or not. If we only look at the prophecies about Him coming on a cloud while ignoring the other ones, we’ll be likely to miss our chance to welcome Him. Then we wouldn’t be able to get into God’s kingdom! Besides, we’re just specks of dust before God. How could we fathom the work of God? If we just cling to our notions and imaginings, thinking that the Lord will only come on a cloud and not in the flesh as the Son of man, wouldn’t we be delimiting God’s work? Wouldn’t that be really arrogant?” I hadn’t even finished talking when Pastor Li stood up abruptly, his face bright red, and he paced back and forth, waving his hands around. He barked at me, “I’m arrogant? I’ve preached to and baptized thousands of people. I’m sure there are at least five crowns waiting for me in heaven. How could I not get into the kingdom?” Then he just kept maligning Almighty God’s work of the last days and he said, “You claim Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned in the flesh who’s come to China in secret. So can I go see Him? I’ll believe it when I see it.” Then he went back to his room in a huff.
My feelings were all a jumble, so I quickly kneeled before God in prayer, asking Him to guide me through this. I felt much calmer after praying and then I watched a video of a reading of God’s words. It included this passage that really moved me: “If you follow God, but just like Thomas, always want to touch the Lord’s rib and feel His nail marks to confirm, to verify, to speculate on whether or not God exists, then God will forsake you. So, the Lord Jesus requires people to not be like Thomas, only believing what they can see with their own eyes, but to be pure, honest people, to not harbor doubts toward God, but to simply believe in and follow Him. People like this are blessed. This is a very small requirement the Lord Jesus makes of people, and it is a warning for His followers” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). When the Lord Jesus appeared and worked, Thomas heard Him express lots of truths and saw Him perform many miracles. But he still didn’t recognize Him even when He’d resurrected and appeared to His disciples. He insisted on touching the scars on Jesus’ hands before he believed. That’s why the Lord Jesus said, “[B]ecause you have seen Me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Thomas only believed his own eyes, and God doesn’t approve of that kind of belief. When I look at Pastor Li’s behavior, even though Almighty God has expressed lots of truths, he still wouldn’t look into it, insisting he had to see God in the flesh with his own eyes to believe it. Wasn’t that just like Thomas? There is not one follower of the Lord Jesus who believes in Him only after seeing His face. We’ve determined He’s the one true God and we follow Him entirely because of the truths He’s expressed and because He’s done the work of redeeming all of mankind. God has incarnated again in the last days and expresses all truths which cleanse and save mankind. Many people from all denominations have heard God’s voice in Almighty God’s words, and have turned toward Almighty God. Clearly, the key to whether someone can accept the true way is if they love the truth and can hear God’s voice. Going by what Pastor Li said, people wouldn’t believe in God incarnate unless they saw Him. But the Pharisees saw the Lord Jesus’ face, so why didn’t they accept Him? Why did they madly oppose, judge, and blaspheme Him, and ultimately have Him nailed to the cross? I suddenly knew the answer in my heart. Pastor Li didn’t genuinely seek God at all. His hope for the Lord’s coming was only to see Him on a cloud and be taken straight into the kingdom. He didn’t love the truth or genuinely long for God’s appearance.
But I was still unsettled when I thought about how Pastor Li had been like a member of our family, but he’d become like a stranger, an enemy. I also couldn’t understand why he was so resistant to God’s work of the last days and even condemned it. He just didn’t have any reverence for God. I continued praying to God and seeking, and then with God’s enlightenment, I thought of a passage of God exposing the Pharisees’ essence. I rushed to find it. God’s words say, “Do you wish to know the root of why the Pharisees opposed Jesus? Do you wish to know the substance of the Pharisees? They were full of fantasies about the Messiah. What is more, they believed only that the Messiah would come, yet did not seek the truth of life. And so, even today they still await the Messiah, for they have no knowledge of the way of life, and do not know what the way of truth is. How, say you, could such foolish, stubborn and ignorant people gain God’s blessing? How could they behold the Messiah? They opposed Jesus because they did not know the direction of the Holy Spirit’s work, because they did not know the way of truth spoken by Jesus, and, furthermore, because they did not understand the Messiah. And since they had never seen the Messiah and had never been in the company of the Messiah, they made the mistake of clinging in vain to the name of the Messiah while opposing the substance of the Messiah by any means possible. These Pharisees in substance were stubborn, arrogant, and did not obey the truth. The principle of their belief in God was: No matter how profound Your preaching, no matter how high Your authority, You are not Christ unless You are called the Messiah. Are these views not preposterous and ridiculous?” (“By the Time You Behold the Spiritual Body of Jesus, God Will Have Made Heaven and Earth Anew” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words sharply expose the Pharisees’ God-resisting essence in their faith. They were stubborn and arrogant. They didn’t know the work of the Holy Spirit and didn’t seek the truth at all. When the Lord Jesus appeared and worked, they saw very clearly that His work and words were powerful and authoritative, but they didn’t investigate this. Instead, they clung to the Scriptures’ literal meaning. The Lord Jesus wasn’t called Messiah and He didn’t keep the Sabbath, so they took such things as sins and wantonly judged, blasphemed, and condemned Him. Ultimately they had Him crucified. I compared all this to Pastor Li. He was acting exactly like the Pharisees, who God had exposed. He knew the Bible well and he wept and prayed for the Lord’s return in his sermons, but when I bore witness that the Lord had returned he didn’t have any desire to look into it. He just opposed and condemned it and even said that he wouldn’t accept anything unless it was Jesus coming on a cloud, that he’d rather die first! Saying that showed that he wasn’t truly longing for the Lord’s coming. I thought that as long as my testimony was clear enough and I read Almighty God’s words for him, he’d definitely accept it. What I’d told him was irrefutable but he still clung to his notions and imaginings, without a hint of wanting to investigate it. He quibbled over it, just as stubborn and arrogant as the Pharisees had been. He displayed hatred for the truth and for Christ and was exposed as a Pharisee by God’s work in the last days. I used to think that I could get into the kingdom of heaven by following Pastor Li, but now I see how foolish that was. He was just the blind leading the blind, leading everyone into ruin. I knew I had to walk away from that kind of false shepherd.
When Pastor Li left the next day, I didn’t give him my tithe or money for his transportation. He left really disgruntled. He sent a message to my younger brother right away, full of condemnation, saying I’d taken the wrong path and was leading the whole family astray. He also spread some lies and fallacies in a WeChat group condemning and slandering Almighty God’s work of the last days, trying to stop people from investigating the true way. Even more surprising, he went door to door telling brothers and sisters to cut off ties with my family. As a result, all our fellow believers, relatives and good friends in our village began to shun us. Even my best friend would go out of her way to avoid me when she saw me on the street. Back then, the moment I stepped outside there were people behind me pointing at me. Even my younger brother and his kids were judging me behind my back. The rest of my family was impacted by this too, and began to weaken. That was a really hard time for me, so I knelt and prayed to God a lot.
One day these words from God came to mind: “Do not be discouraged, do not be weak, and I will make things clear for you. The road to the kingdom is not so smooth; nothing is that simple! You want blessings to come to you easily, do you not? Today, everyone will have bitter trials to face. Without such trials, the loving heart you have for Me will not grow stronger and you will not have true love for Me. Even if these trials consist merely of minor circumstances, everyone must pass through them; it’s just that the difficulty of the trials will vary from one person to another. …Those who share in My bitterness will certainly share in My sweetness. That is My promise and My blessing to you” (“Chapter 41” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). And the Lord Jesus also said, “Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:11–12). Mulling over these words from God brought me some comfort. I’d been rejected and condemned by the clergy and shunned by relatives and friends, but I was keeping pace with God’s footsteps and experiencing the judgment and cleansing of God’s words. That was an incredible blessing. I saw that no matter what I face or how much I suffer, being certain that this is the true way and it’s God’s work, I have to keep following God. With the guidance of God’s words, I regained my faith to face it all. The rest of my family also gained discernment over the clergy’s God-resisting essence by reading Almighty God’s words. They didn’t feel constrained anymore.
Some time later, I got a message from Pastor Li out of the blue. It said, “Sister Zhang, have you been tithing? Have you been saving up your offerings? I’m about to hold an evangelical rally. Can you contribute anything?” I was nauseated and incensed when I saw this message from him. I said no. But just a couple days later, he sent me a bunch of lies condemning and slandering The Church of Almighty God. He was trying to stand in the way of my faith again, so I ignored him. Seeing him behave that way reminded me of what the Lord Jesus said when He rebuked the Pharisees: “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). The clergy aren’t getting into heaven, and they try every trick in the book to keep us out of the kingdom, too. They’re determined to drag us into hell, to turn us into the children of hell. Isn’t that evil? I then thought of something Almighty God said: “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). Almighty God’s words are so true! Pastor Li knew the Bible inside and out, but he was always expounding on his scriptural and theological knowledge to mislead believers. They thought Pastor Li loved and understood the Lord better than anyone. But in fact, he didn’t remotely understand God’s work and absolutely hated the truth. Facing Almighty God’s appearance and work, he didn’t want to seek at all, but just hysterically opposed and condemned it. He wouldn’t accept it and he also spread lies around to lead believers astray. He tried to seal off the church and stop church members from investigating the true way. After we accepted God’s work of the last days, first he tried to mislead us with lies, and then he got others to reject and ostracize us. That was how he tried to force us into renouncing the true way. I finally realized that all Pastor Li’s preaching wasn’t to elevate and bear witness for God or to bring believers before God, but it was just so people would idolize and follow him. He wanted to control people within the confines of religion and live off the money they gave. He threw himself into condemning and opposing Almighty God’s work of the last days and stealing God’s sheep to keep his status and income. Wasn’t he being an antichrist? Wasn’t he being an evil demon, harming people and devouring their souls? He really deserved to be cursed by God!
Through that experience I saw the clergy’s essence of hating the truth and being enemies of God and completely rejected them. I also experienced that on the road to the kingdom blindly adulating and following a person without seeking the truth makes it easy to be bound and deceived by lies and fallacies, and to lose God’s salvation and be cut off from the kingdom. Being free of the religious world’s antichrist evil servants today and coming before God is entirely because of the discernment God’s words have given me. This is God’s salvation for me. Thanks be to Almighty God!