Listening to Pastors Is Not Obedience to the Lord
When I see some brothers and sisters in the Lord refuse to hear, see or investigate God’s kingdom gospel, it occurs to me that I had dared not investigate the gospel of the kingdom because I used to look up to the pastors, was snared and controlled by them, which caused me to live in the darkness for several years and almost lose the Lord’s salvation in the last days. Thank God for His guidance. At last I finally broke free from the snare, came before God, and led a new life …
Since I was little, I believed in the Lord and went with my parents to church. At that time, I couldn’t make sense of the sermons of the pastors and preachers, nor understood the Bible. But my parents always said to me, “‘Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God’ (Romans 13:1). So we should listen to the pastors in our belief in the Lord. We cannot retort or doubt their words, because they are all established by God and they are our good shepherds.” These words were branded on my mind.
In my third year in junior high school, I was baptized and formally became a true Christian. After that, I frequently went to church and participated in fellowships. At that time, the pastors could fellowship some understanding of verses in the Bible, and sometimes they would talk about their personal experiences, which was beneficial to me. In particular, when they shared their experiential testimonies of how they worked for the Lord, I felt that they really had a lot of faith. Thus, I concluded in my heart that the pastors and elders were established by God and then started to admire them. I thought to myself: The pastors and elders have suffered so much yet still could work for the Lord, they must truly know the Lord and understand more of God’s will than I do. Therefore, I could not help but worship and look up to them.
When I was in high school, the pastors and elders began to say some negative information about Eastern Lightning and often told us: “Do not contact Eastern Lightning followers. They just believe in an ordinary person. Their sermons are quite profound, but your spiritual lives are still too small. You will be deceived once you listen to their preaching….” I firmly believed these words of the pastors, so I began to adopt the attitude of not contacting or investigating Eastern Lightning. Every time I saw videos, books or articles from Eastern Lightning on YouTube, I would skip over them, afraid of being deceived by them. After entering the university, I joined in some college fellowships where the pastors and preachers also often preached the message of resisting Eastern Lightning to us, and asked us not to listen to or contact it. After hearing these negative messages they released, I was more afraid of contacting Eastern Lightning.
Before I knew it, it was my sophomore year of college. During that time, I found I was always negative and weak; and frequently, I felt no strength in my heart, not knowing what I should say to God in prayer. So the only thing I could do was place all my hopes in the pastors’ preaching in every Sunday, wishing to gain new enlightenment from them. For this reason, every time I attended Sunday’s meeting I would listen attentively. But the pastors’ sermons became more and more lackluster. They all talked about the old things about the Biblical knowledge and how to guard against Eastern Lightning. Every time I had to return in disappointment. Once, our college fellowship planned to invite a preacher who had served the Lord for many years. Everybody said that he was familiar with the Bible and thus we could surely gain a lot from his preaching. So, I was expecting that in my heart. But I never thought that the preacher also spoke about how to guard against Eastern Lightning. Furthermore, not only did he openly curse at the brothers and sisters in Eastern Lightning, he also had us students do the same. I felt uneasy in my heart at that time, thinking: We are all sinners, how could we curse at others? The Lord Jesus taught us to love others as ourselves and to love our enemies; however, this preacher leads us students to curse others, is this in accordance with the Lord’s will? At that moment I thought of the words in the Bible, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1), “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are that judge: for wherein you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you that judge do the same things” (Romans 2:1). These words reminded me that we, who believed in God, should not judge or condemn others at will before we knew the facts. So I did not do as the preacher said.
After that, I gave up the idea of gaining enlightenment through going to the church for gatherings. I began to read spiritual books by myself every day. But after a period of time, I still could not find direction and my spirit grew weak and withered. For those spiritual books only described verses or talked about some stories of the historical figures, without any new path. Then I thought: Have God already left me? Why do I feel I was running out of strength? Sometimes I would sit on the playground and stare upward at the moon lost in thought, thinking: Lord! Where are You? Why I cannot feel Your presence? Why I cannot receive any supply though I went to church gatherings? At the time when I was most confused, I encountered God’s gospel of the kingdom.
One day, I got acquainted with Sister Chen Nuo and Brother Zheng on the Internet. We always had discussion about the Bible verses together, and about how the Lord would return in the last days and so forth. I always could gain new enlightenment from them. Once, when we were studying the Bible, we saw the Bible says, “Be you therefore ready also: for the Son of man comes at an hour when you think not” (Luke 12:40). “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” (Luke 17:24–25). Sister Chen Nuo fellowshiped, “These prophecies all mention ‘the Son of man comes’ or ‘the coming of the Son of man’. The Son of man means that He is born of man with bone and flesh, and has the image of a human and normal humanity. If God’s Spirit comes, He cannot be called the Son of man, since the Spirit is formless and amorphous and can neither be touched nor seen by man. So ‘the Son of man’ tells us that God will be incarnate. The Lord Jesus was called the Son of man, Christ, because He was the incarnate flesh of God’s Spirit, was the Spirit realized in the flesh and so became an ordinary and normal man, living in the company of the people; while Jehovah God worked in Spirit form. He did not incarnate and thus He could not be called the Son of man or Christ. The Lord Jesus said that He would still be the Son of man in His return. It means that when He comes back, He will still be in the flesh and in the identity of the Son of man but not the Spirit. This fulfills the prophecy in the Bible that: ‘But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation’. It further proves that the Lord will come through incarnation in the last days. Have a think: If the Lord returns and appears to us in the Spirit, then He will not suffer as much, let alone be rejected by this generation again. Who dares to reject God’s Spirit? How can God’s Spirit suffer hardship? Then whether the Lord will come back through incarnation or in the Spirit can be seen clearly.”
Sister’s fellowship about the Bible verses surprised me and yet were irrefutable. Formerly, in my opinion and even in the eyes of the whole religious world, it was believed that the Lord would descend on the clouds in the spiritual body when He came back. Today, it wasn’t until after I listened to Sister’s fellowship that I understood that the Bible also prophesied the Lord would return through incarnation. The more I listened, the more I felt that such sermons came from God and had the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I quieted my heart and pondered over sister’s words. I thought to myself, “Now that the incarnate God has the image of a human and normal humanity, then what is the difference between the incarnate God and us ordinary man?” With perplexity, I put forward these questions to seek.
Then, Brother Zhao sent me two passages of God’s words: “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 but 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.” “Because He is a man with the essence of God, He is above any of created humans, above any man who can perform God’s work. And so, among all those with a human shell like His, among all those who possess humanity, only He is the incarnate God Himself — all others are created humans. Though they all have humanity, created humans are nothing but human, while God incarnate is different: In His flesh He not only has humanity but more importantly has divinity.”
Brother Zhao fellowshiped, “In outward appearance, the incarnate God looks like an ordinary and normal man, and does not seem different than anyone else, but He can do God’s work, express God’s disposition, and is equipped with what God has and is. According to our needs, He can express the truth to supply us and save us at any time and place. Just like the Lord Jesus Christ, from the outside, He looked like an ordinary and normal person, but He could perform signs and miracles, such as calming the wind and sea, feeding five thousand people with just five loaves of bread and two fish, resurrecting the dead and so on; He could express the truth, bestow upon men the way of repentance, and do the work of crucifixion to redeem all mankind. All revelations of the Lord Jesus words and work are manifestations of God’s life and disposition and of God’s has and is. Christ has both normal humanity and complete divinity, and His substance is the divinity. While we corrupt mankind has nothing but humanity.”
Brother Zhao’s fellowship edified and benefited me so greatly. In the past, I just knew that the Lord Jesus is God, but I did not know the divine substance of Jesus Christ. It was no wonder that the Jews treated the Lord Jesus as an ordinary man, saying the Lord Jesus was the son of carpenter Joseph, and that they did not acknowledge that the Lord Jesus is God. It turned out that it was all because they did not know the divine substance of Christ but just saw the outward appearance of Christ. These words were spoken so well and talked about the difference between Christ and us ordinary and normal man so plainly and thoroughly. Thinking of this, I asked the brother immediately, “Where are these words from? How can your fellowship be so enlightening? I also study the Bible earnestly every day, but why could I not gain such enlightenment and knowledge?”
Brother Zhao said proudly, “It is because that you haven’t kept up with God’s footsteps. If God had not revealed these truths and mysteries personally, no one would have understood. All of these words are expressed by Almighty God, Christ of the last days. I did not understand that until I read the words expressed by God. Today the Lord has already returned and He is Christ of the last days, Almighty God. Just like the Lord Jesus, He is the practical God incarnate and He can express the truth at any time and place. Almighty God has expressed millions of words and performed work to judge, to cleanse, and to save mankind in the last days. This work cannot be done by any created being and cannot be done by man in His stead….”
When I heard the brother said the Lord has already returned and carried out the work of judgment of the last days, I was suddenly dumbfounded. I could not help but yell in my heart, “O Lord. Is Almighty God really You who have returned? But why is what he said different from what the pastors and elders said?” I was quite confused at that moment and did not know who I should listen to. If Almighty God is really the appearance of the Lord Jesus, then why did the pastors and elders defy and condemn Him? Just when I was confused, I thought of the words in the Bible, “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:29). Like a lamp to my feet, the Lord’s words enlightened me who was lost in the darkness. I decided to investigate the questions I did not understand. Looking back on that time period, I found their fellowship made me have more and more knowledge of God, and solved many puzzles in my faith in the Lord. They had the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit; they were not like some ones who deceived people. Afterward I prayed to the Lord in my heart, “Lord! Please lead me, so that I can understand Your words. I believe that with Your help, there is nothing for me to be afraid of.” And then I asked the brother, “I have a question which I can’t figure out all along. Since the pastors and elders are appointed by God to serve the Lord, by rights, confronted with the Lord’s return in the last days, they should have led us to investigate The Church of Almighty God, and they should have led the way in accepting the true way. But none of the pastors and elders who I contacted investigated and accepted it. Instead, not only did they resist and condemn it, but also they forbade us to investigate. Why is that?”
After hearing my words, Brother Zheng said to me, “Sister, first of all, we should learn to distinguish. That the pastors and elders are all established by God is not in accordance with facts. That is our notion and imagination.” I asked in amazement, “Our notion and imagination? The Bible says clearly, ‘Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God’ (Romans 13:1). Does ‘are ordained of God’ not mean that they are established by God?” Brother Zheng said, “Sister, these words were said by Paul, and the Lord Jesus never testified like that. Since man’s words are blended with human intentions and imaginations, Paul’s words could not represent the Lord’s intentions. From the Bible, we can indeed see that in every age, God appoints some people to coordinate with His work, to shepherd His chosen people. This is true. However, not all people who worked for God are appointed by God. So we should learn to distinguish who are those people that God chooses and appoints and what the marks of those people are. Firstly, people established by God are after God’s will, and have the verification of God’s word. At least, there must have confirmation of the work of the Holy Spirit. For example, in the Age of Law, Moses was chosen and appointed by God. At that time, Jehovah God said to him, ‘Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come to me: and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt’ (Exodus 3:9–10). In the Age of Grace, the Lord appointed Peter to shepherd the churches. This is also evidenced by the Lord’s words. Just as the Lord Jesus said when He appointed Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, love you me? … Feed my sheep’ (John 21:16), and ‘And I say also to you, That you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’ (Matthew 16:18–19). From these facts we can see that anyone anointed and used by God is personally witnessed by God. There is God’s word as proof and the confirmation from the work of the Holy Spirit. All their work is upheld by God. Then let’s have a look at religious pastors and elders in the last days. Most of them are cultivated by theological schools and have graduate certificates in theology, which they relied on to become pastors and begin to work and preach, not because the Holy Spirit personally bore witness to them and used them. In their belief in the Lord, they merely focus on studying theology and the Bible; their work and preaching are according to their caliber and gifts, and only focus on talking about the Bible knowledge, theology, or Bible characters and stories, historical backgrounds and so forth. So how can they make God’s chosen people attain the true shepherding? What’s more, they don’t pay attention to practicing the Lord’s words but constantly betray the Lord’s teachings. For example, the Lord Jesus taught people to be wise virgins: When we hear someone yell ‘Behold, the bridegroom comes,’ we should go out to welcome Him. But after the pastors and elders heard news of the Lord Jesus’ second coming, they instead did all they could to seal off the church and prevent believers from seeking and investigating the true way. The Lord Jesus taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Yet, they incited believers to slander and curse brothers and sisters who testify to Almighty God’s work of the last days. The Lord Jesus asked man not to lie, not to bear false witness, but pastors and elders made up all sorts of lies to slander and condemn Almighty God’s work of the last days. From these we can see that what religious pastors and elders have said and done completely violates the Lord’s teachings. They cannot fellowship any true life experience or true knowledge of God, nor do they know God’s work. They merely hold on to their notions and imaginations in treating God’s work. As a result, they do not seek or investigate the Lord’s return in the last days, and they even treat the incarnate Christ of the last days as an ordinary person, without any slightest reverence for God. They slander Him everywhere, spread rumors, and hinder believers from investigating the true way and listening to God’s voice. They are the same as the Pharisees of that time. When the Lord Jesus preached and taught people, the Pharisees slandered Him, saying He was disturbing the people. When the Lord Jesus said He Himself was sent by Father, they accused Him of blasphemy. And when the Lord Jesus healed and cast out demons for men, they blasphemed that Jesus was relying on Beelzebub, the prince of demons, to cast out the demons. They did not believe in God incarnate, nor did they acknowledge the truths expressed by God incarnate. Instead, they tried to find all kinds of accusations against the Lord Jesus and resisted and slandered Jesus’ work. Likewise, now what the pastors and elders do and say is the same as what the Pharisees who resisted the Lord Jesus of the time did. Are they not exactly the obstacles and the stumbling blocks for people to accept the true way? Would God appoint these truth-hating people who obstruct God’s will to lead God’s chosen people? God is righteous and holy. So those truth-hating and hypocritical Pharisees and religious pastors and elders certainly aren’t anointed by God. If we insist that those pastors and elders in the religious world are appointed and used by the Lord, then isn’t this a distortion of the facts? And isn’t this the extreme slandering and blaspheming of God?
Only after hearing the brother’s fellowship did I realize: Not all of the people who work for God are established by God; for anyone God chooses and appoints, there is God’s word as proof and the confirmation from the work of the Holy Spirit. They are those who are in accordance with God’s will. But I did not know how to distinguish nor did I seek the truth; I always believed that they were appointed by God, and listened to them no matter what they said. As a result, as for such important matters of the investigation of the true way and waiting for the Lord’s coming, I still listened to the rumors and lies spread by them, and thus taking an attitude of not listening, not reading, and not contacting. Thinking that over these years the pastors and elders slandered and condemned Eastern Lightning, hindered us from seeking the true way, I felt extremely angry at their evil deeds. Had I not met the brothers and sisters on the Internet and listened to their testimony, I would have lost the salvation of God in the last days. Only at that time did I understand that how serious the consequences were if in believing in the Lord I didn’t seek truth but admired and followed people.
After a period of time of investigation, I was certain that Almighty God is the return of the Lord Jesus. And then I gladly accepted the work of Almighty God of the last days and lived the church life happily in the house of God. Every day I lived under God’s guidance and my spirit was no longer parched and dark.
Once, I went to my uncle’s home (my uncle was a pastor). I heard he was discussing with some others about how to restrict and prevent believers from investigating and accepting Eastern Lightning. They then said some rumors to deceive me, but I did not listen to them. Afterward, I saw God’s words, “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’s 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 paying empty tribute to the name of the Messiah while opposing the substance of the Messiah by any means. These Pharisees in substance were stubborn, arrogant, and did not obey the truth. The principle of their belief in God is: 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?” “Those who read the Bible in grand churches recite the Bible every day, yet not one understands the purpose of God’s work. Not one is able to know God; moreover, not one is in accord with the heart of God. They are all worthless, vile men, each standing on high to teach God. Though they brandish the name of God, they willfully oppose Him. Though they label themselves believers of God, they are ones who eat the flesh and drink the blood of man. All such men are devils who devour the soul of man, demons who purposefully disturb those who try to step onto the right path, and stumbling blocks that impede the path of those who seek God. Though they are of ‘robust flesh,’ how are their followers to know that they are antichrists who lead man in opposition to God? How are they to know that they are living devils who specially seek souls to devour?”
Through the revelations of God’s words, I saw that the root of religious pastors and elders resisting God was the same as that of the Jewish Pharisees resisting God. Both of them are dominated by their satanic nature of arrogance and conceit, being fed up the truth, and hatred of the truth. At that time what the Lord Jesus did, including the signs and miracles He performed, shocked the entire Jewish nation. Many people spread and testified that the Lord Jesus was the coming Messiah, and more and more people followed the Lord Jesus. But those chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees in order to protect their own status and livelihood, they not only did not seek and investigate the work of the Lord Jesus, but they frantically condemned the Lord Jesus with false accusations, and moreover, they even colluded with the Roman government to crucify the Lord Jesus. Only then did I understand that the religious pastors and elders nowadays were the same to them. When they saw that believers in religious world who truly believed in the Lord, after listening to God’s words, recognized those words as God’s voice and they came before God one by one, in order to protect their status and livelihood, they furiously made up rumors about, judged, resisted and condemned Almighty God. They disrupted and hindered believers from investigating the true way, ruined the chance for people to come before God and to be saved by God. They had become the obstacles and the stumbling blocks to our entering God’s kingdom, and had become living devils who specially seek souls to devour. In the past, I did not understand the truth nor be able to distinguish. When I saw that they could work for the Lord outwardly, believed in the Lord for a long time, and were familiar with the Bible, then I blindly worshiped them. Only now did I see clearly that they were the modern Pharisees and antichrists who were resisting God.
Thank God for His guidance. Without God’s grace and mercy, I would still be deceived and controlled by the pastors and elders, ruining my opportunity of being saved by God. Now, I have finally broken from the snare of religious pastors and elders and come before God. I read God’s words every day and frequently attend gatherings with brothers and sisters to fellowship about our understanding and knowledge of God’s words, which allows me to have more and more understanding of God and His work. Meanwhile, I also have some knowledge of my own corrupt dispositions and have some ways and principles of practice to cast them off. Now I am seeking to know God together with brothers and sisters, seeking to cast off my corrupt dispositions to live out the likeness of a real man. With the direction and goal of pursuit, I feel that my path become brighter and brighter! Thanks be to God!
By Hoisin, Taiwan