Will the Pope and Clergy Be the First to Know When the Lord Jesus Returns?

September 16, 2021

By Wang Gang, the Czech Republic

“The Pope possesses divine authority and is a proxy for God, while the priests listen to the Pope. That’s why the Lord Jesus will enlighten the Pope and priests first when He returns, and then they will spread the news to all believers. That’s because they are the people closest to God and the ones responsible for all of the world’s churches.”

“The Pope, bishops, and priests are just human beings, and they cannot be proxies for God. In all things, we must look to God’s words, and we cannot sit back and wait for enlightenment to welcome the Lord, but we must focus our efforts on listening for the voice of God. This is the only way to welcome the Lord.”

Reading the first statement, you would probably think that it’s the opinion of a Catholic. But you may be surprised to find out that these two statements were made by the same person. What all did he experience, and how did he go through such a major transition?

Let’s take a closer look at his story. Maybe it can do us some good.

1. Priests Are the Most Venerated

The priest said, “It says in the Gospel of Matthew 16:18–19, ‘And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.’ We can see from the Lord Jesus’ words that our Pope in the Catholic Church is established as a successor of Peter. They follow each other, generation after generation. The Lord Jesus bestowed the authority to manage the Catholic Church upon the Pope. So, when the Lord Jesus returns in the last days, He will tell the Pope first, the Pope will tell the bishops and priests, and then they will tell the church members. That is why we absolutely must follow the leadership of the clergy so that we can welcome the Lord Jesus when He returns. If it doesn’t come from the Pope or a bishop, it is false. Do not believe it.”

After hearing the priest’s fellowship, I’d generally think to myself that the Pope held divine authority and was a proxy for God, as well as the head of the church. So when the Lord Jesus returned, He would certainly enlighten the Pope and priests first, and then they would pass the news along to all the believers because they were the people closest to God.

In general, I also loved hearing the priest tell his own stories about how much he’d suffered on his path of faith. While listening, I really felt admiration for how much he’d gone through on his path of faith. I felt like such a great priest was certainly worthy of being one of God’s servants. Without me realizing it, the priest impacted my path in life, and I swore that I would go to seminary and become a priest myself so that I could serve God.

2. The Lord Has Returned—Why Don’t the Priests Know?

One day, a fellow church member came to my house and told me there was a friar who was going to deliver a sermon at her house. She asked me if I wanted to go. I always loved hearing sermons and this seemed like a great opportunity, so I decided to go. This friar, named Xie, had a topic that was new for me: “God’s 6,000-year Management Plan.” I felt it was something really different, and I was listening intently. Friar Xie started from the Old Testament: “During the Old Testament times, that is, the Age of Law, God decreed the law for the Israelites through Moses, teaching them how to follow the law of God. What this achieved was teaching them what sin was through the law. Then toward the end of the Old Testament times, people were becoming more and more corrupt and couldn’t follow the law anymore. The temple had become a den of thieves. Everyone was living in sin and faced the danger of being condemned to death under the law. That’s why the Lord Jesus brought with Him the Age of Grace and completed the stage of work of redemption. He was nailed to the cross as a sin offering for mankind, so that as long as people accepted the gospel of the Lord Jesus, they could be redeemed of their sins and they’d no longer be condemned under the law. What the Lord Jesus’ work achieved was giving people a way to confess and repent so they didn’t have to be damned according to the law. However, God didn’t absolve mankind of our sinful nature. All sorts of satanic dispositions were still really deeply entrenched within people, and this is something that goes even deeper than sin. That’s why the Book of Revelation prophesies that the Lord will return in the last days and do a stage of work to judge and cleanse mankind. This is the work of ridding us of sin, so that we will no longer commit sin, and it is achieved through the work of judgment performed in the last days. This is God’s 6,000-year management plan.”

Friar Xie’s fellowship was really enlightening for me. I saw that God’s work to save mankind happens age-by-age—I’d never realized this before when I was reading the Bible or listening to sermons.

At this point in his sermon, Xie said, “I have good news for all of you today. The Lord Jesus has already returned and He is working among us in the flesh. He has opened the scroll prophesied in the Bible, opened the seven seals, and has spoken to mankind.”

I was stunned, thinking, “How wonderful that the Lord has returned! The Lord Jesus, who we’ve been longing for day and night, has finally come!”

Then he got some copies of a book that he passed out to us, and had us read a section called “The Savior Has Already Returned Upon a ‘White Cloud.’” This really confirmed for me that the Lord Jesus who is always on our minds really has returned in the flesh. I silently rejoiced and thanked God nonstop.

But aside from joy, I also felt some confusion. I wondered, “The Lord Jesus’ return is a really big deal. Why isn’t the Pope spreading this news? And we have our own priest for our church—I really don’t get it. How would this guy Xie find out about it first?”

But then I thought, “He really has explained it clearly, that the Lord Jesus has returned and opened the scroll prophesied in Revelation. Plus I feel like Almighty God’s words really are the voice of the Lord.” So, I called upon the Lord Jesus in my heart to guide me to resolve this confusion.

3. Will the Lord Really Tell the Pope and Clergy When He Returns?

During a gathering, I discussed this question with the brothers and sisters from The Church of Almighty God.

Brother Li shared this fellowship: “We have this kind of notion because our faith in God is subject to all sorts of our own imaginings. We think that when the Lord comes to do His new work, He’ll have to let the Pope and bishops know first because they have higher status, they’re the ones closest to God, and they watch over the church on behalf of God. So, we think that when the Lord returns, they’ll pass the news along to us, and then we can accept it. But in reality, it’s not at all like what we imagine. Let’s think back on the scribes and Pharisees in the time of Jesus—they were the ones who directly served Yahweh within the temple, and they had high status, too. If things had gone according to our notions, the Lord Jesus would have enlightened them first. But in fact, when the Lord Jesus came down, He didn’t tell the chief priests and elders who served in the temple first, like everyone thought He would. Instead, when He began His work, He didn’t select those religious officials, but He selected regular Israelites, like tax collectors, widows, and fishermen. He shared His sermons and performed all sorts of miracles among them so that they were the first to learn about His work. And then the gospel was shared with more people through them. When the Lord Jesus resurrected, it still wasn’t the chief priests, elders, and scribes who served in the temples that He appeared to first, but He appeared to His disciples and the common believers so that they were the ones to see He had come back from the dead. From there, they went to share the news of the Lord Jesus Christ’s redemption. Just like it talks about in 1 Corinthians 1:26–29, when the Lord Jesus was working, there weren’t very many wise, powerful, or wealthy people that He chose, but He chose the weak and the base people in the world, and those who were looked down on by others. Those were the ones He chose. The Lord’s work was a blow to people’s notions and it displayed His fairness and righteousness. We can see from that stage of work performed by the Lord Jesus that God’s work doesn’t follow people’s notions and imaginings. By the same token, now that He’s returned, the Lord doesn’t enlighten the priests, bishops, and the Pope first, and then have them spread the news to all the believers like people imagine. We can’t try to delimit the Lord’s work according to our own notions and imaginings. If everyone just waits for the clergy to tell us about the Lord’s coming and will only believe and accept His new work at that point, we’ll be missing out on a wonderful opportunity, and regrets will come too late.”

Brother Li’s fellowship helped me understand the issue a little better. I realized that the priests’ claim that the Lord Jesus would communicate with them first when He returned was just what we imagined as humans, but it wasn’t at all what the Lord Jesus intended. When the Lord Jesus came and when He was working, He didn’t reveal Himself to the religious leaders. I saw how pathetic I was, that I was just following along with the priests and living based on fantasy. This made me think of the other parishioners who were just like me, living within their own absurd imaginings, not daring to hear about or accept this new stage of God’s work. How foolish!

4. Can the Pope and Clergy Represent God?

One day, I read this passage in Almighty God’s words: “There are several major religions in the world, and each has its own head, or leader, and the followers are spread across different countries and regions all over the world; almost every country, be it large or small, has different religions within it. However, regardless of how many religions there are across the world, all people within the universe ultimately exist under the guidance of one God, and their existence is not guided by religious heads or leaders. This is to say that mankind is not guided by a particular religious head or leader; rather, the whole of mankind is led by the Creator, who created the heavens and earth and all things, and who also created mankind—this is a fact. Although the world has several major religions, regardless of how great they are, they all exist under the dominion of the Creator, and none of them can exceed the scope of this dominion. The development of mankind, the supersedure of society, the development of natural sciences—each is inseparable from the arrangements of the Creator, and this work is not something that can be done by any given religious head. A religious head is merely the leader of a particular religion, and cannot represent God, nor can they represent the One who created the heavens and earth and all things. A religious head can lead all those within the entire religion, but they cannot command all creatures beneath the heavens—this is a universally acknowledged fact. A religious head is merely a leader, and cannot stand equal to God (the Creator). All things are in the hands of the Creator, and in the end they will all return to the hands of the Creator. Mankind was made by God, and regardless of the religion, every person will return under the dominion of God—this is inevitable. Only God is the Most High among all things, and the highest ruler among all creatures must also return under His dominion. No matter how high the status of a man, that man cannot take mankind to a suitable destination, and no one is able to class all things according to kind.

Almighty God’s words helped me understand that God is the Creator of all things, and all things are in His hands—He has guided mankind step by step until today. And the Pope may have a really high position, and he can guide Catholics all across the world, but he can’t create all things or lead all of mankind. Other clergy are the same. They are just created beings in God’s hands, but they can’t represent God, and they cannot be on an equal footing with Him. I realized that ever since I was little, the priest had led me to mistakenly believe that the Pope has divine authority, and that he represents God on earth. I thought the same of the priests, that they were the ones closest to God. I equated them with God, looking up to them, admiring and worshiping them. Through this revelation in Almighty God’s words, I finally understood that they are just miniscule created beings in God’s hands, and they aren’t at all on the same level as God. They especially cannot represent God.

5. Are the Pope and Clergy Appointed by God?

During a gathering one time, Sister Liu shared fellowship on a section of Almighty God’s words called “Concerning God’s Use of Man.” In one passage, God says, “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. …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.

Sister Liu’s fellowship was, “Before, we didn’t understand the difference between the people used by the Holy Spirit and the Pope and priests, thinking that the clergy were appointed by God. But actually, that’s our own mistaken impression. In each age, the Holy Spirit has someone rise up to cooperate with His work, so that His work will be more effective. But the person used by the Holy Spirit is prepared in advance and is confirmed by God’s words. And when this person carries out their work, they have the support of the Holy Spirit; submitting to that person’s work is submitting to God, and anyone who resists that person’s work is resisting God and will be damned and punished. For example, in the Old Testament, during the Age of Law, when God called on Moses, He appeared and spoke to Moses from a burning bush, telling him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. When Korah and his gang rebelled against Moses, they were punished by God—God split the earth open and they were all swallowed up. When the Lord Jesus was working, He appointed Peter to serve as the cornerstone of the church, and there is basis for this in the Lord Jesus’ words as well. That’s in Matthew 16:18–19. But the Catholic Church uses these Bible verses to claim that the Pope is the successor to Peter, and that the Lord Jesus gave him the authority to run the church. But this is actually just something invented by humans and it doesn’t hold water at all. That’s because those verses record something that the Lord Jesus said to Peter, not to those working within the Catholic Church. We’ve never seen God saying something like this to them. On top of that, these clergy members don’t have the Holy Spirit’s support. If they did, then their work would definitely bear fruit, and they would be able to make sure that congregation members have sustenance and shepherding in their lives. But are we getting real spiritual sustenance from them? Most of them don’t understand the truth, but they just know some literal biblical doctrine and theology. And in the matter of the Lord’s return, they don’t have any fear of God—they even misinterpret God’s words and stand in the way of people welcoming the Lord. God is righteous and holy, so how could He possibly appoint someone like that? So then where do the Catholic clergy come from? The reality is that they all started out as regular church members, and if a member of the church has the aspiration to take a path in service to God, they can go study in a seminary. Once they get to a certain age or they’ve gone through enough years of study, they can be ordained as a priest. They’re not perfected through experiencing God’s work and used by the Lord, so they aren’t at all appointed by God. And the Pope is elected by the College of Cardinals—he’s not a successor to Peter, and he does not have God’s testimony.”

This fellowship helped me better understand how someone is used by the Holy Spirit. I saw that that person is personally put in place by God and there are words from God to back this up; they have the support and testimony of the Holy Spirit. Sister Liu’s fellowship was really objective and practical, and giving it careful thought, I could see that the priests weren’t appointed by God, but were just ordained by a bishop after graduating from a seminary. They were put in place by other people. So I saw that the clergy claiming to be appointed by God is just wishful thinking. They’re insisting on applying the Lord Jesus’ words to themselves. After that, I could understand what was actually going on. I was so grateful for God’s guidance that gave me a proper understanding of this aspect of the truth.

6. What Is Most Important for Welcoming the Lord?

After that, I started participating in church life in The Church of Almighty God, gathering with brothers and sisters to read and fellowship on Almighty God’s words. This helped me learn more truths. Through fellowship, I also learned that when the Lord Jesus came down to work, Peter, John, the Samaritan woman and the others like them didn’t wait for the clergy in the temple to acknowledge the Lord before believing, but they heard the Lord Jesus’ words, and saw that His sermons were powerful and authoritative, that they could provide mankind with life and a path to repentance. They realized that He was the Messiah they’d been waiting for, and so they kept up with God’s work and began enjoying the watering and sustenance of the Lord’s words—this allowed them to receive His approval. As for the return of the Lord Jesus in the last days, the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation say that God’s sheep will hear God’s voice, that we should listen for what the Holy Spirit says to the churches, and that those who recognize the voice of God will receive the fruit of the tree of life. And in Revelation 14:4, it says that no matter where the Lamb goes, we should follow. This shows us that we need to let go of our notions and imaginings and learn how to be wise virgins who listen for the voice of God; when we don’t understand something, we can seek more and read God’s words. This is the only way to welcome the Lord’s return. And in the last days, God is carrying out a stage of new work based on His management plan, in accordance with what mankind needs, and on the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work. He has expressed all truths to save mankind, and once we’ve accepted the truths expressed by the Lord in the last days and this stage of new work, this is keeping up with God’s footsteps. But those who cling to their notions, refusing to accept the work and words of the Lord who has returned in the last days, are just like the chief priests and Pharisees in the temple. They not only can’t gain God’s approval, but they become those who resist God and who are eliminated by God’s new work. Thanks to Almighty God’s guidance, I have finally understood that accepting Almighty God’s work of the last days is truly welcoming the return of the Lord Jesus!

7. Gaining a New Understanding of the Clergy

Our priest found out before long that I’d accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days, and he came to my home, telling me not to believe it. When I explained everything to him about the Lord Jesus returning, to my surprise, he didn’t have any interest in seeking or looking into it, but still just wanted to block my access to the church. The other church members were all held back by him and didn’t dare listen to me sharing the kingdom gospel. The priest’s behavior really took me aback—that wasn’t at all what someone who longs for the Lord’s return would do. One time during a gathering, Sister Zhang shared fellowship on a passage of God’s words about this very issue. 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?

Then Sister Zhang said, “Almighty God’s words very clearly reveal the real essence of the church clergy who believe in God but resist Him. They are arrogant by nature, and they misinterpret the Scripture by relying on their own notions and imaginings. They misinterpret God’s words, saying that they have divine authority, and that obeying them is tantamount to obeying God. Not only this, but in their sermons they hardly ever exalt or bear witness to God, or share their understanding of God’s words. Instead, they’re always exalting themselves, playing up how much they’ve suffered and worked for God, and what a burden they have for congregants. They’re always showing off how much doctrine and biblical knowledge they have so that they can capture people’s hearts, so that people will worship and follow them. This is an attempt to bring people under their power, so that people worship them as if they were God. Isn’t this brazenly fighting over people with God? And particularly when the priests see more and more people investigating and accepting the work of the returned Lord, they not only refuse to seek and investigate, but in order to protect their own name and status, they even keep believers under their control and seal off their churches to keep church members from accepting God’s new work. And when believers are lacking discernment, they see the clergy as equal to God, and so even if they do hear the voice of the Lord returned, they won’t accept it until it goes through the clergy. Based on how the clergy behave, we can see that they aren’t people who truly have faith and love the truth at all. They’re exactly the same as the Pharisees who fought against the Lord Jesus back in the day—not only do they personally refuse to accept the Lord’s new work, but they keep other people from accepting it. They are roadblocks, stumbling blocks keeping people from accepting the true way. They are the antichrists who resist God, exposed by the Lord in the last days!”

I was really moved to hear all of this. It was true—they misinterpreted the Bible based on their notions and imaginings, applying what the Lord Jesus said about Peter to themselves, duping all of us Catholics. In Mass, they were always talking about getting everyone to hear what the priest had to say, saying that it was the same as hearing what God had to say. Their goal in applying the Lord Jesus’ words to themselves was to entrench themselves within believers’ hearts so that we would listen to them, so that they would achieve their aim of controlling us. And they were always telling us how much they’d suffered for God and what a burden they had for congregants’ lives, all to put themselves on display for our admiration. Looking back now on all those years of listening to those priests, what did I learn? Nothing! I didn’t even know what I should do to welcome the Lord’s return. Now I’ve finally seen that we really don’t understand the truth—what a shame! Now I’ve really seen that these clergy don’t actually serve God, but they are just hypocritical Pharisees, antichrists who stand in the way of others entering the kingdom of heaven.

Now, I’ve gained some discernment thanks to Almighty God’s words. As believers, we need to follow God and recognize Him as great; we need to submit to Him without question and listen to His words. We cannot listen to other people, be taken in by them or worship them. If we do that, our faith is no longer in God.

Almighty God’s words ended up resolving absolutely all of my confusion. I felt so excited and grateful for God’s guidance from deep within my heart, that I could personally hear the words of the Lord Jesus come back to earth, and welcome the Lord returned.

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