X. How to Discern False Shepherds, Antichrists, and False Christs
1. The work of a qualified worker can bring people to the right way and grant them greater entry into the truth. His work can bring people before God. In addition, the work he does can vary from individual to individual and is not bound by rules, allowing people liberation and freedom, and the capacity gradually to grow in life and to have a more profound entry into the truth. The work of an unqualified worker falls far short. His work is foolish. He can only bring people into rules, and what he demands of people does not vary from individual to individual; he does not work according to people’s actual needs. In this type of work, there are too many rules and too many doctrines, and it cannot bring people into reality, nor into normal practice of growth in life. It can only enable people to adhere to a few worthless rules. Such guidance can only lead people astray. He leads you to become like him; he can bring you into what he has and is. For followers to discern whether leaders are qualified, the key is to look at the path on which they lead and the results of their work, and to see whether followers receive principles in accordance with the truth, and whether they receive ways of practice suitable for their transformation. You should distinguish between the different work of different types of people; you should not be a foolish follower. This bears on the matter of people’s entry. If you are unable to distinguish which person’s leadership has a path and which does not, you will easily be deceived. All of this has a direct bearing on your own life.
Excerpted from “God’s Work and Man’s Work” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
2. 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. Today, all those who follow the present words of God are in the stream of the Holy Spirit; those who are strangers to the words of God today are outside of the stream of the Holy Spirit, and such people are not commended by God. Service that is divorced from the present utterances of the Holy Spirit is service that is of the flesh, and of notions, and it is impossible for it to be in accordance with God’s will. If people live among religious notions, then they are unable to do anything that is fit for God’s will, and even though they serve God, they serve in the midst of their imaginings and notions, and are totally incapable of serving in accordance with the will of God. Those who are unable to follow the work of the Holy Spirit do not understand the will of God, and those who do not understand the will of God cannot serve God. God wants service that is after His own heart; He does not want service that is of notions and the flesh. If people are incapable of following the steps of the Holy Spirit’s work, then they live amid notions. The service of such people interrupts and disturbs, and such service runs contrary to God. Thus those who are unable to follow the footsteps of God are incapable of serving God; those who are unable to follow the footsteps of God most certainly oppose God, and are incapable of being compatible with God.
Excerpted from “Know God’s Newest Work and Follow His Footsteps” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
3. Work in the mind of man is too easy for man to achieve. Pastors and leaders in the religious world, for example, rely on their gifts and positions to do their work. People who follow them for a long time will be infected by their gifts and influenced by some of their being. They focus on people’s gifts, abilities and knowledge, and they pay attention to supernatural things and many profound, unrealistic doctrines (of course, these profound doctrines are unattainable). They do not focus on changes in people’s dispositions, but rather on training people to preach and work, improving people’s knowledge and their abundant religious doctrines. They do not focus on how much people’s disposition is changed nor on how much people understand of the truth. They do not concern themselves with people’s essence, and much less do they try to know people’s normal and abnormal states. They do not counter people’s notions, nor do they reveal their notions, much less do they prune people for their deficiencies or corruptions. Most who follow them serve with their gifts, and all they release is religious notions and theological theories, which are out of touch with reality and completely unable to confer life onto people. In fact, the essence of their work is nurturing talent, nurturing a person with nothing into a talented seminary graduate who later goes on to work and lead.
Excerpted from “God’s Work and Man’s Work” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
4. Many people behind My back covet the blessing of status, they gorge themselves on food, they love to sleep and give every care to the flesh, always afraid that there is no way out for the flesh. They do not perform their proper function in the church, but freeload off the church, or else they admonish their brothers and sisters with My words, lording themselves over others from positions of authority. These people keep saying they are doing God’s will and always say they are God’s intimates—is this not absurd? If you have the right intentions, but are unable to serve in accordance with God’s will, then you are being foolish; but if your intentions are not right, and you still say you serve God, then you are someone who opposes God, and you ought to be punished by God! I have no sympathy for such people! In the house of God, they freeload, always coveting the comforts of the flesh, and give no consideration to the interests of God. They always seek what is good for them, and they pay no heed to God’s will. They do not accept the scrutiny of God’s Spirit in anything they do. They are always maneuvering and deceiving their brothers and sisters, and being two-faced, like a fox in a vineyard, always stealing grapes and trampling over the vineyard. Could such people be God’s intimates? Are you fit to receive God’s blessings? You take no burden for your life and the church, are you fit to receive God’s commission? Who would dare trust someone like you? When you serve like this, could God dare to entrust you with a greater task? Would this not cause delays to the work?
Excerpted from “How to Serve in Harmony With God’s Will” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
5. You serve God with your natural character, and according to your personal preferences. What’s more, you always think that the things you are willing to do are what are delightful to God, and that the things you do not wish to do are what are hateful to God; you work entirely according to your own preferences. Can this be called serving God? Ultimately, there will not be the slightest change in your life disposition; instead, your service will make you even more stubborn, thus deeply ingraining your corrupt disposition, and as such, there will be formed within you rules about service to God that are primarily based on your own character, and experiences derived from your service according to your own disposition. These are the experiences and lessons of man. It is man’s philosophy of living in the world. People like this can be classed as Pharisees and religious officials. If they never wake up and repent, then they will surely turn into the false Christs and the antichrists who deceive people in the last days. The false Christs and the antichrists that were spoken of will arise from among such people. If those who serve God follow their own character and act according to their own will, they run the risk of being cast out at any time. Those who apply their many years of experience acquired to serving God in order to win the hearts of others, to lecture them and control them, and to stand on high—and who never repent, never confess their sins, never renounce the benefits of position—these people shall fall before God. They are of the same kind as Paul, presuming upon their seniority and flaunting their qualifications. God will not bring people like this to perfection. Such service interferes with the work of God.
Excerpted from “Religious Service Must Be Purged” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
6. You are able to speak as much knowledge as there is sand on a beach, yet none of it contains any real path. Are you not trying to fool people by doing this? Are you not making an empty show, with no substance to back it up? All such behavior is harmful to people! The higher the theory and the more it is devoid of reality, the more it is incapable of taking people into reality; the higher the theory, the more it makes you defy and oppose God. Do not treat the loftiest theories like precious treasure; they are pernicious and serve no purpose! Perhaps some people are able to talk of the loftiest theories—but these contain nothing of reality, for these people have not personally experienced them, and therefore have no path to practice. Such people are incapable of taking others onto the right track and will only lead them astray. Is this not harmful to people? At the very least, you must be able to solve people’s present troubles and allow them to achieve entry; only this counts as dedication, and only then will you be qualified to work for God. Do not always speak grandiose, fanciful words, and do not use a bunch of unsuitable practices to bind others into obeying you. Doing so will have no effect and can only increase their confusion. Carrying on like this will produce much doctrine, which will make people loathe you. Such is the shortcoming of man, and it truly is mortifying.
Excerpted from “Focus More on Reality” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
7. 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? Such people are of the same ilk as Paul.
Excerpted from “Only to Pursue the Truth Is Truly to Believe in God” in Records of Christ’s Talks
8. The manifestation of arrogance is rebellion and resistance against God. When people are arrogant, self-important, and self-righteous, they tend to set up their own independent kingdoms and do things however they want. They also bring others into their own hands and draw them into their embraces. For people to be capable of doing such things, it means the essence of their arrogance has become that of the archangel. When their arrogance and self-importance reach a certain level, then that determines that they are the archangel and will put God aside. If you possess such an arrogant disposition, God will have no place in your heart.
We have preached the gospel over and over to many leaders within religious circles, but no matter how we fellowship on the truth with them, they do not accept it. Why is this? It is because their arrogance has become second nature, and God no longer has a place in their hearts! Some people might say, “People under the leadership of certain pastors in the religious world really have a lot of drive; it is as though they have God in their midst!” Do you take having enthusiasm for having drive? No matter how lofty those pastors’ sermons might sound, do they know God? If they truly revered God deep down, would they make people follow them and exalt them? Would they monopolize others? Would they dare to prevent others from seeking the truth and investigating the true way? If they believe that God’s sheep are actually theirs, and that they should all listen to them, then is it not the case that they regard themselves as God? Such people are even worse than the Pharisees. Are they not antichrists? Thus, this arrogant nature of theirs can control them into doing things that betray God.
Excerpted from “An Arrogant Nature Is the Root of Man’s Resistance to God” in Records of Christ’s Talks
9. When God becomes flesh and comes to work among men, all behold Him and hear His words, and all see the deeds that God works from within His body of flesh. At that moment, all man’s notions become foam. As for those who have seen God appearing in the flesh, they shall not be condemned if they willingly obey Him, whereas those who purposefully stand against Him shall be deemed an opponent of God. Such people are antichrists, enemies who willfully stand against God. … Those who willfully stand against the incarnate God shall be punished for their disobedience. With regard to these people that willfully stand against God, their opposition stems from the fact that they harbor notions about God, which leads them in turn into actions that disrupt God’s work. These people intentionally resist and destroy the work of God. They do not merely have notions about God, but they also engage in activities that disrupt His work, and for this reason people of this kind shall be condemned.
Excerpted from “All People Who Do Not Know God Are People Who Oppose God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
10. 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?
Excerpted from “Those Who Obey God With a True Heart Shall Surely Be Gained by God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
11. Your opposition to God and obstruction of the work of the Holy Spirit is caused by your notions and inherent arrogance. It is not because God’s work is wrong, but because you are naturally too disobedient. After finding their belief in God, some people cannot even say with certainty where man came from, yet they dare to make public speeches appraising the rights and wrongs of the Holy Spirit’s work. They even lecture the apostles who have the Holy Spirit’s new work, passing comment and speaking out of turn; their humanity is too low, and there is not the slightest sense in them. Will the day not come when such people are rejected by the work of the Holy Spirit, and burned by the fires of hell? They do not know the work of God, but instead criticize His work, and also try to instruct God how to work. How can such unreasonable people know God? Man comes to know God during the process of seeking and experiencing; it is not through criticizing at whim that man comes to know God through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. The more accurate people’s knowledge of God becomes, the less they oppose Him. In contrast, the less people know of God, the more likely they are to oppose Him. Your notions, your old nature, and your humanity, character and moral outlook are the “capital” with which you resist God, and the more corrupt, degraded and low you become, the more you are the enemy of God. Those who are possessed of strong notions and who have a self-righteous disposition are even more in enmity of God incarnate; such people are the antichrists.
Excerpted from “Knowing the Three Stages of God’s Work Is the Path to Knowing God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
12. 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?
Excerpted from “All People Who Do Not Know God Are People Who Oppose God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
13. He who is God incarnate shall possess the essence of God, and He who is God incarnate shall possess the expression of God. Since God becomes flesh, He shall bring forth the work He intends to do, and since God becomes flesh, He shall express what He is, and shall be able to bring the truth to man, bestow life upon him, and point the way for him. Flesh that does not have the essence of God is decidedly not the incarnate God; of this there is no doubt. If man intends to inquire into whether it is God’s incarnate flesh, then he must corroborate this from the disposition He expresses and the words He speaks. Which is to say, to corroborate whether or not it is God’s incarnate flesh, and whether or not it is the true way, one must discriminate on the basis of His essence. And so, in determining whether it is the flesh of God incarnate, the key lies in His essence (His work, His utterances, His disposition, and many other aspects), rather than external appearance. If man scrutinizes only His external appearance, and as a result overlooks His essence, this shows that man is benighted and ignorant.
Excerpted from Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh
14. God become flesh is called Christ, and so the Christ that can give people the truth is called God. There is nothing excessive about this, for He possesses the essence of God, and possesses God’s disposition, and wisdom in His work, that are unattainable by man. Those who call themselves Christ, yet cannot do the work of God, are frauds. Christ is not merely the manifestation of God on earth, but also the particular flesh assumed by God as He carries out and completes His work among man. This flesh cannot be supplanted by just any man, but is a flesh that can adequately bear God’s work on earth, and express the disposition of God, and well represent God, and provide man with life. Sooner or later, those who impersonate Christ will all fall, for although they claim to be Christ, they possess none of the essence of Christ. And so I say that the authenticity of Christ cannot be defined by man, but is answered and decided by God Himself.
Excerpted from “Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
15. The incarnate God is called Christ, and Christ is the flesh donned by the Spirit of God. This flesh is unlike any man that is of the flesh. This difference is because Christ is not of flesh and blood; He is the incarnation of the Spirit. He has both a normal humanity and a complete divinity. His divinity is not possessed by any man. His normal humanity sustains all His normal activities in the flesh, while His divinity carries out the work of God Himself. Be it His humanity or divinity, both submit to the will of the heavenly Father. The essence of Christ is the Spirit, that is, the divinity. Therefore, His essence is that of God Himself; this essence will not interrupt His own work, and He could not possibly do anything that destroys His own work, nor would He ever utter any words that go against His own will.
Even though Christ represents God Himself in the flesh and carries out in person the work that God Himself ought to do, He does not deny the existence of God in heaven, nor does He feverishly proclaim His own deeds. Rather, He remains hidden, humbly, within His flesh. Apart from Christ, those who falsely claim to be Christ do not possess His qualities. When juxtaposed against the arrogant and self-exalting disposition of those false Christs, it becomes apparent what manner of flesh is truly Christ. The falser they are, the more such false Christs flaunt themselves, and the more capable they are of working signs and wonders to deceive man. False Christs do not have the qualities of God; Christ is not tainted by any element belonging to false Christs. God becomes flesh only to complete the work of the flesh, not to merely allow men to see Him. Rather, He lets His work affirm His identity, and lets that which He reveals attest to His essence. His essence is not baseless; His identity was not seized by His hand; it is determined by His work and His essence. …
The work and expression of Christ determines His essence. He is able to complete with a true heart that which has been entrusted to Him. He is able to worship God in heaven with a true heart, and with a true heart seek the will of God the Father. This is all determined by His essence. And so too is His natural revelation determined by His essence; the reason I call this His “natural revelation” is because His expression is not an imitation, or the result of education by man, or the result of many years of cultivation by man. He did not learn it or adorn Himself with it; rather, it is inherent within Him.
Excerpted from “The Essence of Christ Is Obedience to the Will of the Heavenly Father” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
16. If, during the present day, there is to emerge a person who is able to display signs and wonders, cast out demons, heal the sick, and perform many miracles, and if this person claims that they are Jesus who has come, then this would be a counterfeit produced by evil spirits which imitate Jesus. Remember this! God does not repeat the same work. Jesus’ stage of work has already been completed, and God will never again undertake that stage of work. The work of God is irreconcilable with the notions of man; for example, the Old Testament foretold the coming of a Messiah, and the result of this prophecy was Jesus’ coming. This having already happened, it would be wrong for another Messiah to come again. Jesus has already come once, and it would be wrong if Jesus were to come again this time. There is one name for every age, and each name contains a characterization of that age. In the notions of man, God must always display signs and wonders, must always heal the sick and cast out demons, and must always be just like Jesus. Yet this time, God is not like that at all. If, during the last days, God still displayed signs and wonders, and still cast out demons and healed the sick—if He did exactly the same as Jesus—then God would be repeating the same work, and the work of Jesus would have no significance or value. Thus, God carries out one stage of work in every age. Once each stage of His work has been completed, it is soon imitated by evil spirits, and after Satan begins to follow on the heels of God, God changes to a different method. Once God has completed a stage of His work, it is imitated by evil spirits. You must be clear about this.
Excerpted from “Knowing God’s Work Today” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
17. There are some who are possessed by evil spirits and cry out vociferously, “I am God!” Yet, in the end, they are revealed, for they are wrong in what they represent. They represent Satan, and the Holy Spirit pays them no heed. However highly you exalt yourself or however strongly you cry out, you are still a created being and one that belongs to Satan. I never cry out, “I am God, I am the beloved Son of God!” But the work I do is God’s work. Need I shout? There is no need for exaltation. God does His own work Himself and does not need man to accord Him a status or give Him an honorific title: His work represents His identity and status. Prior to His baptism, was not Jesus God Himself? Was He not the incarnate flesh of God? Surely it cannot be said that it was only after receiving witness that He became the only Son of God? Long before He began His work, was there not already a man by the name of Jesus? You are unable to bring forth new paths or to represent the Spirit. You cannot express the work of the Spirit or the words that He speaks. You are unable to do the work of God Himself, and that of the Spirit you are unable to do. The wisdom, wonder, and unfathomability of God, and the entirety of the disposition by which God chastises man—all of these are beyond your capacity to express. It would therefore be useless to try to claim to be God; you would have only the name and none of the substance. God Himself has come, but no one recognizes Him, yet He continues on in His work and does so in representation of the Spirit. Whether you call Him man or God, the Lord or Christ, or call Her sister, it does not matter. But the work He does is that of the Spirit and represents the work of God Himself. He does not care about the name by which man calls Him. Can that name determine His work? Regardless of what you call Him, as far as God is concerned, He is the incarnate flesh of the Spirit of God; He represents the Spirit and is approved by the Spirit. If you are unable to make way for a new age, or to bring the old to an end, or to usher in a new age, or to do new work, then you cannot be called God!
Excerpted from “The Mystery of the Incarnation (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
18. If a man calls himself God yet is unable to express the being of divinity, do the work of God Himself, or represent God, he is undoubtedly not God, for he has not the substance of God, and that which God can inherently achieve does not exist within him.
Excerpted from “The Difference Between the Ministry of God Incarnate and the Duty of Man” in The Word Appears in the Flesh