Who Are the Pharisees of Today?
By Jingmo, Malaysia
In my 22 years as a Christian, I was mainly in charge of church finances and the Sunday school. In May 2017, I met Sister Jane from France on Facebook. She bore witness to Almighty God’s work of the last days and said the Lord Jesus had returned in the flesh to express the truth and to judge and cleanse man. I was thrilled beyond words. I looked into it further and saw that the words expressed by Almighty God are the truth, that they are God’s voice, the spring of living waters flowing from the throne. My spirit was nourished and sustained. My two daughters and I gladly accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days.
One day, I was chatting with a sister when she told me about sharing the gospel with a leader in her old church. She said the pastor clung stubbornly to the literal words of the Bible and refused to investigate God’s work of the last days. He spread all kinds of lies and kept the church sealed up, and even threatened believers. I was amazed and confused by this. “Pastors are church leaders,” I thought. “They’re always telling us to keep watch for the Lord’s arrival. Now they hear the Lord has returned, why aren’t they leading believers to look into it, but trying to stop them? The pastors in our church have studied theology and know the Bible well. They’re pious and loving to brothers and sisters and always teach us to follow the Lord’s teachings and keep watch for the Lord’s coming. If they would only read Almighty God’s words, they’d know them to be the Lord’s voice and happily welcome Him.” To my surprise, however, one day 10 months later, my younger daughter and I preached the gospel to a sister and Pastor Li from our old church found out. He told lies to stop me from following Almighty God and threatened to expel me from the church. Only then did I see his true hypocritical colors.
One day, he called me out of the blue and asked me to meet him at the church. When I got there, he asked me reprovingly, “You’re a church deacon who’s believed for over 20 years. Why now believe in Almighty God? Why didn’t you come ask me about it first? You don’t fully understand the Bible. Without us looking out for you, you’ll be misled easily. How do you know Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned?” I felt really uncomfortable and thought, “I’m free to investigate the true way. Why should I check with you first? And yes, I’ve believed for a long time, and though I don’t know as much as you about the Bible, I know my own mind. I investigated this way for three months and read a lot of Almighty God’s words. I saw that His words possess authority and power—they are the truth. Not only do they uncover the truths and mysteries of the Bible, but they show us the path to be cleansed of corruption. From reading Almighty God’s words, I became certain He is the Lord returned and so I accepted Him.” What I said to the pastor was, “You’ll only know if Almighty God is the Lord returned by looking into it properly and reading His words.”
I then showed him The Church of Almighty God’s app on my phone and played him a video of reading of God’s words. Almighty God says, “Throughout the universe I am doing My work, and in the East, thunderous crashes issue forth endlessly, shaking all nations and denominations. It is My voice that has led all men into the present. I shall cause all men to be conquered by My voice, to fall into this stream, and submit before Me, for I have long since reclaimed My glory from all the earth and issued it forth anew in the East. Who does not long to see My glory? Who does not anxiously await My return? Who does not thirst for My reappearance? Who does not pine for My loveliness? Who would not come to the light? Who would not look upon the richness of Canaan? Who does not long for the return of the Redeemer? Who does not adore the Great Almighty? My voice shall spread throughout the earth; I wish, facing My chosen people, to speak more words to them. Like the mighty thunders that shake the mountains and rivers, I speak My words to the whole universe and to mankind. Hence the words in My mouth have become man’s treasure, and all men cherish My words. The lightning flashes from the East all the way to the West. My words are such that man is loath to give them up and at the same time finds them unfathomable, but rejoices in them all the more. All men are glad and joyful, celebrating My coming, as if an infant had just been born. By means of My voice, I shall bring all men before Me.” (“The Seven Thunders Peal—Prophesying That the Gospel of the Kingdom Shall Spread Throughout the Universe” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Halfway through the video, Pastor Li smiled scornfully and said, “Turn it off. I downloaded this app ages ago, and I’ve already read Almighty God’s words.” I was both surprised and happy to hear this, and I hurriedly said, “You’ve already read Almighty God’s words? Well? Do you think they are the voice of God?” He curled his lip and said, “God’s words are all in the Bible. There are no words of God beyond the Bible. I won’t believe it however good those words sound!” This shocked me, and I shot back, saying, “Pastor Li, are you sure God’s words are all in the Bible? You always read this verse to us: ‘And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written’ (John 21:25). Isn’t that right? The Lord Jesus officially worked for three and a half years, leading His disciples all over to preach and work. He said many things and delivered many sermons, and the Four Gospels in the Bible record only a small part of what the Lord Jesus said. So your claim that God’s words are only in the Bible doesn’t fit with the facts. The Lord Jesus also clearly prophesied He would return in the last days to open the scroll and speak His utterances to the churches. These utterances are the new words expressed by God in the last days. They couldn’t have been recorded in the Bible in advance. That’s why we can’t limit God’s words to the Bible. Almighty God expresses all truths that cleanse and save man. They are ‘what the Spirit says to the churches’ (Revelation 2:7). We should seek humbly for only then will we hear God’s voice and welcome the Lord.”
Pastor Li gave me a scornful look and said enigmatically, “I can see you know a thing or two. We Christians can’t depart from the Bible in any case. No matter how great Almighty God’s words are, if they go beyond the Bible, I can’t accept them. I advise you not to believe in Almighty God anymore, otherwise your service in our church will be revoked, and you’ll come to regret it!” I said, “Don’t we Christians long for the Lord Jesus to return? Only The Church of Almighty God now testifies that He has returned, so shouldn’t we look into it? If we don’t humbly seek, but cling to our notions and imaginings, we’ll miss the Lord’s return, and then we really will regret it!” Before I’d even finished, he burst out, saying, “Enough! That’s enough out of you. I won’t believe in Almighty God. I’ll give you some time to reconsider. If you won’t give it up, you’ll be expelled.” He then stalked out. I was shocked and disappointed by Pastor Li’s reaction. He always used to tell us the Lord approved of people who seek humbly. Now faced with the Lord’s return, I was surprised to see him clinging to the Bible and his own notions instead. He’d even read Almighty God’s words but still had no desire to know more about it. He was totally two-faced. That’s hypocrisy.
That Sunday, I went to church. Before the service, Pastor Hong came up to me and said, “I hear you’ve been looking into The Church of Almighty God. I’ve known about that Church for a while. The things they preach go beyond the Bible. Your belief in Almighty God is a betrayal of the Lord Jesus. Give up that belief, otherwise all your years of faith will be in vain!” I thought, “How does he know I believe in Almighty God? Pastor Li must have told him.” So I asked him, “Did the Lord follow the Old Testament when He came to work? He preached the way of repentance and didn’t keep the Sabbath. Was this recorded in the Old Testament? The Lord’s words and work went beyond the Old Testament, so would you dare say that we’re betraying Jehovah God by believing in the Lord?” Looking awkward, he said nothing, so I asked, “Have you read Almighty God’s words? His words uncover the mysteries of the Bible. He reveals the root cause of why mankind sins and resists God. He expresses all the truths which cleanse and save man. His words are prophesied in Revelation, they are ‘what the Spirit says to the churches’ (Revelation 2:7). I’ve read Almighty God’s words and heard God’s voice and I know that Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned. By believing in Him, I’m keeping pace with God’s footsteps. How can that be a betrayal of the Lord Jesus?” Pastor Hong cut me off impatiently and said, “Enough. If you insist on this path, just make sure you don’t regret it.” He laughed coldly and left. His expression made me shiver, and I wondered what he would do next.
The service started and Pastor Hong played a video of lies slandering The Church of Almighty God. Watching this video of fabrications and false accusations, I got so angry, thinking, “Only The Church of Almighty God testifies that the Lord Jesus has returned. Almighty God has expressed so many truths which are openly available online. Instead of leading believers to look into it, you’re playing this video of lies to discredit The Church of Almighty God. You’re just resisting and blaspheming God!”
Pastor Hong then said loudly, “The Bible says ‘I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ to another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed’ (Galatians 1:6–8). We believe in the Lord Jesus and we must hold to His name and to His way. We can’t listen to any old thing or accept other gospels. We particularly can’t listen to The Church of Almighty God testifying to the Lord’s return, for that would be apostasy. If anyone is found to have accepted Almighty God’s way, they’ll be expelled immediately! If anyone preaches about Almighty God to you, tell me right away or you’ll be betraying the Lord.” Pastor Hong then looked pointedly at me. Seeing him look so triumphant, I couldn’t help but think of the Pharisees standing in the temple, deceiving and inciting the common people to reject the Lord Jesus.
All the brothers and sisters in the church looked afraid. Seeing them all taken in by Pastor Hong, I thought angrily: “He’s really gone too far. He’s willfully misinterpreting the Bible to deceive people and intimidate them into not investigating the true way. If he knows the Bible so well, surely he knows there was a context to what Paul said? What Paul meant was that there was only one gospel in the Age of Grace, the gospel of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption. Following another gospel was betraying the Lord. But Paul never said the kingdom gospel that would be preached when the Lord returned is wrong, or that testifying to the Lord Jesus’ return meant preaching a different gospel.” Pastor Hong was arbitrarily applying Paul’s words to Almighty God’s work of the last days. He was taking the Bible out of context! He was deceiving people and stopping them from looking into the true way, ruining their chances to get into God’s kingdom! I really wanted to refute his fallacies so that everyone in the church would see through him. But I thought if I did that, I’d end up in a deadlock. If he publicly announced that I was to be expelled, it would become harder to preach the gospel to the others. So I decided to stay quiet.
After the service, Pastor Hong warned me again not to preach Almighty God’s gospel to the other members. At this I thought, “The brothers and sisters are God’s sheep, and God has come in search of His sheep, but Pastor Hong won’t let me preach to them or let them hear God’s voice. He’s just deceiving and threatening them to prevent them from investigating Almighty God’s work. By doing this, he’s blocking the path to God’s kingdom.” I thought of what the Lord said to the Pharisees: “[W]oe 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). Pastor Hong was behaving just like the Pharisees. When he heard that the Lord had come, he refused to listen and stopped others from hearing God’s voice and greeting the Lord. This was evil and against God. It offended God’s disposition and earned him God’s curse! The pastor’s words had no effect on me and I kept preaching the gospel to the others.
A week later, Pastor Li asked me to come to church with my daughter. Pastor Li was there, with four other deacons and council members. Pastor Li said, smiling, “Have you reconsidered?” I said earnestly, “As Christians, we’re just constantly sinning and confessing and cannot rid ourselves of sin. Almighty God now expresses the truth and works to judge and cleanse man. Only by accepting His work and undergoing His judgment and chastisement can we be fully cleansed of sin and be fit to enter God’s kingdom. I’ve believed in the Lord for years and have now welcomed His return. I will never betray Almighty God, no matter what.” A deacon suddenly leapt up, stabbed his finger at me and said angrily, “Since you insist on believing in Almighty God, from tomorrow you are no longer our Sunday school teacher nor are you in charge of church finances!” Pastor Li said ingratiatingly, “Our faith in the Lord means our sins are forgiven. We don’t need the Lord to return to judge or cleanse us. You’ve been misled.” I said, “The Lord forgave us our sins when He was crucified, that’s true. But we must understand that our sins being forgiven means we’re redeemed by the Lord Jesus and no longer condemned under the law. It doesn’t mean we are purified and fully saved. The Lord Jesus didn’t absolve us of our sinful nature, so we’re controlled by it and often can’t help but reveal satanic corrupt dispositions such as arrogance, conceit, selfishness, and greed. Hebrews 12:14 says: ‘Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.’ The Lord is holy, so how can we, too filthy to be fit to behold the Lord, be worthy of the kingdom of heaven? That’s why the Lord Jesus promised to return in the last days, to express the truth and do the work to judge and cleanse man. This fulfills the Lord’s prophecies: ‘I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth’ (John 16:12–13). ‘He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day’ (John 12:48).”
Pastor Li said disdainfully, “We’ll wait for the Lord Jesus with nail marks on His hands, who comes on a cloud to take us into His kingdom. Even if Almighty God does express the truth, we still won’t accept Him!” He said other blasphemies against Almighty God while the others joined in the condemnation. Seeing them be so stubborn, I said sternly, “You’re all church leaders who’ve heard people testifying to the Lord’s return and you not only won’t seek humbly but you do all can to stop others from looking into the true way. You spread lies to defy and condemn Almighty God’s work. What kind of deeds are these? What happens in the end to those who resist and condemn God? The Pharisees clung to their notions and imaginings, stubbornly resisting and condemning the Lord Jesus’ work and blaspheming Him. They had Him nailed to the cross in the end, thereby offending God and incurring His curse and punishment. Surely the lesson of the Pharisees’ failure should make us wake up? Listen to Almighty God’s words and then decide!” I then got my phone and read a passage of Almighty God’s words. Almighty God says, “Those who wish to gain life without relying on the truth spoken by Christ are the most ridiculous people on earth, and those who do not accept the way of life brought by Christ are lost in fantasy. And so I say that those who do not accept Christ of the last days shall forever be despised by God. Christ is man’s gateway to the kingdom during the last days, and there are none who can go around Him. None may be perfected by God except through Christ. You believe in God, and so you must accept His words and obey His way. You cannot only think of gaining blessings while being incapable of receiving the truth and incapable of accepting the provision of life. Christ comes during the last days so that all those who truly believe in Him may be provided with life. His work is for the sake of concluding the old age and entering the new one, and His work is the path that must be taken by all those who would enter the new age. If you are incapable of acknowledging Him, and instead condemn, blaspheme, or even persecute Him, then you are bound to burn for eternity and shall never enter the kingdom of God. For this Christ is Himself the expression of the Holy Spirit, the expression of God, the One whom God has entrusted to do His work on earth. And so I say that if you cannot accept all that is done by Christ of the last days, then you blaspheme the Holy Spirit. The retribution to be had by those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit is self-evident to all” (“Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Before I’d finished reading, a council member leapt up and yelled, “Stop! We won’t accept it no matter how true Almighty God’s way is!” I got angry and said, “You’re so arrogant! These words are the words of the Holy Spirit, utterances from God Himself. You really can’t tell? Can’t you understand God’s voice? Are you even God’s sheep?” Pastor Li said with a wicked smile, “We won’t believe anyone who expresses the truth unless it is the Lord Jesus!” I saw they had no desire to seek the truth. They were just clinging to their notions and randomly judging and condemning God’s work. They were being totally unreasonable! I didn’t want to talk to them anymore, so I made to leave with my daughter. Just then, Pastor Li threatened us, saying, “I’ll give you a month to consider your position. If you keep believing in Almighty God, you’ll all be expelled!” I replied angrily, “No need to wait a month. Expel me now! I’m not afraid of being expelled from this church. I’d be more afraid of not hearing God’s voice, not seeing the Lord’s appearance, not greeting the Lord, and losing the blessings of the kingdom of heaven. We’ve heard God’s voice at last and have been raised up before God’s throne to attend the Lamb’s wedding feast. Even if you don’t expel us, we’ll never come back here again!” Pastor Li gave that wicked smile again and said, “We can’t expel you yet. If we did, the others would say we expelled you just because you joined gatherings online. They’d say we didn’t show you compassion. In a month’s time we’ll tell everyone that you’ve betrayed the Lord and want to leave the church. We’ll say we did all we could to advise you but you insist on believing in Almighty God, and that we’ve had to expel you as a last resort.”
His two-faced behavior absolutely disgusted me. When the Lord Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, He said: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like to white washed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:27–28). Turned out Pastor Li and the others’ concern for believers was all pretend, all false. They just wanted to uphold their image and position in the eyes of the brothers and sisters. The brothers and sisters had believed in the Lord for years and longed to welcome His return yet they were being deceived by this hypocrite of a pastor. They believed these lies and were losing their chance to welcome the Lord’s coming. Who would’ve thought these pastors and elders who told us to be on our guard against false Christs and antichrists would end up being exposed as deceitful antichrists themselves? They were the pots calling the kettle black, misleading people. They were so hateful!
After we left the church, my daughter said angrily, “I used to think because they’d served the Lord for years and understood the Bible that they’d happily welcome the Lord when He came. I never thought they could be so arrogant. They won’t seek it themselves and even try to stop and deceive others. They’re blatantly resisting God!” I then remembered God’s words I’d read in a gathering: “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). These pastors and elders always stood on the lectern expounding on the Bible, but they didn’t practice what they preached. They appeared devout and loving on the outside but it was all pretend, all hypocrisy. They expounded on the Bible and relied on theological theories to protect their positions and livelihoods. When they heard someone testify that the Lord had returned, not only did they not seek it, but they clung to their religious notions, misinterpreted the Bible and condemned the Lord’s return. In order to keep believers firmly under their control, they even spread heresies and made up lies to deceive and intimidate them. They did all they could to stop people investigating Almighty God’s work of the last days. They did despicable things like discontinuing my church service and expelling us from the church. They tried to threaten and cow us into giving up the true way. They shouted from the rooftops they had believers’ lives at heart, but really they’d rather we all starved in a wasteland devoid of the Holy Spirit’s work than allow us to hear God’s voice. They want believers to remain under their control forever, to donate money to them and serve them. They are the evil servants exposed by God’s work of the last days, the antichrists who hate the truth and oppose God, the soul-devouring demons who stop people from getting into God’s kingdom. I saw the pastors’ and elders’ true hypocritical, God-resisting colors. I broke free from the religious antichrists’ cage and was able to keep up with the footsteps of the Lamb. Thank Almighty God for His salvation!