Two thousand years ago, when the incarnate Lord Jesus appeared and worked in Judea, He was persecuted and condemned by the Jewish chief priests, scribes and Pharisees; in the last days, as Almighty God incarnated to express the truth and do the work of judging and purifying man, He has also suffered frenzied persecution and condemnation from the religious leaders as well as the rejection of this generation. The two times that God has become flesh to walk the earth and carry out the work of saving man, He has been met with the utmost resistance, condemnation and frantic persecution from leaders in the religious world. This fact has puzzled and even shocked people: Why is it that every time God unfolds a stage of new work He is always met with this kind of treatment? Why is it that those who most frantically and aggressively resist God are the religious leaders who read the Bible over and over again and who have served the Lord for many years? Why is it that those religious leaders that people see as being the most devout, the most faithful and the most obedient to the Lord are actually unable to be compatible with God, but instead are the enemies of God? Could it be that God’s work is wrong? Could it be that God’s actions are not amenable to reason? That is certainly not the case! There are two fundamental reasons why the religious leaders are able to play the role of resisting God and become the enemies of God, and these are: The first reason rests with these people not having knowledge of the work of the Holy Spirit, nor do they have knowledge of the principles of God’s work. They always rely on their limited knowledge of the Bible, theological theories and people’s conceptions and imaginations to delimit God’s work that is always new and never old; the second reason is that, since mankind is so deeply corrupted by Satan, its nature is arrogant and self-conceited, it despises and hates the truth, and it especially values status. Put together, these two reasons have led to the tragedy of mankind forsaking and condemning the true way time and again throughout history.
Looking back to two thousand years ago when the Lord Jesus was amongst the Jewish people, He preached the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, saying, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). He expressed the truth, brought the way of repentance, He helped man by healing the sick and casting out demons, performed many signs, wonders and miracles, and He bestowed upon man plentiful and abundant grace and peace and joy. These are all things that were not recorded in the Old Testament, and it was also work that no one had ever carried out before. Of course, it was also something that no human being could carry out, because besides God there is no person with the authority and power to do such things. What the Lord Jesus did at that time was the work of personally assuming the sins of man by being nailed to the cross and of redeeming man from sin, so that He could lead man out from the bonds of the laws and rules, and exempt man from being punished for not being able to abide by the law; those people under the law could only attain God’s salvation and not be destroyed by accepting the work of the Lord Jesus. But the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees of Judaism did not recognize the work of the Holy Spirit and they did not understand what kind of work the Lord Jesus was carrying out. In their conceptions they believed that anyone who did not pray in the name of Jehovah God was betraying God, anyone who preached a message not in keeping with the law was deceiving people, and anything that went beyond the Bible was heresy. In addition, they flaunted themselves as being well-versed in the laws and as servants of Jehovah God in the temple for many years, and they believed that what they were holding on to was the truth and the purest way. As far as they were concerned, the work of the Lord Jesus violated the law and went beyond the Bible, as a way apart from the Bible. And they even said that the Lord Jesus spoke blasphemy by usurping the name of God and that He was betraying Jehovah God. Because of this, they would rather have died than accept the way that was being preached by the Lord Jesus. They even regarded the work of the Lord Jesus as “heresy,” an “evil cult” and as “deceiving man.” Even though the work and the word of the Lord Jesus had authority, power and wisdom, even though the miracles that the Lord Jesus manifested were unprecedented in history, even though more and more people came to bear witness to the deeds of the Lord Jesus and bear witness to the fact that the Lord Jesus was the coming of the Messiah, they still stubbornly clung to their notions and to God’s work in the Age of Law, and with stiff necks they resisted and condemned God’s new work—the Lord Jesus’ redemptive work. Their attitude toward God’s new work was just as Almighty God has revealed: “Man is only able to accept one kind of work, or one way of practice, and it is difficult for man to accept work, or ways of practice, that are at odds with, or higher than, them. But the Holy Spirit is always doing new work, and so there appear group after group of religious experts that oppose the new work of God. These people have become experts precisely because man has no knowledge of how God is always new and never old, and has no knowledge of the principles of God’s work, and, furthermore, has no knowledge of the many ways in which God saves man. As such, man is utterly unable to tell if it is work that comes from the Holy Spirit, and if it is the work of God Himself. Many people cling to an attitude in which, if something corresponds with the words that came before, then they accept it, and if there are differences with the work of before, then they oppose and reject it” (“Knowing the Three Stages of God’s Work Is the Path to Knowing God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). As someone who believes in God, at the very least one ought to possess a heart that reveres God and have a hunger and a thirst for righteousness. Only in this way will one be able to obtain enlightenment from the Holy Spirit, achieve an understanding of God’s new work and follow closely the footsteps of God. But those Jewish chief priests, scribes and Pharisees came into contact with the Lord Jesus and met Him many times, yet it was simply never in pursuit of the truth. They were devising ways and means to test the Lord Jesus and to get a hold of something to use against the Lord Jesus (see Matthew 22:15–46), attempting to destroy and abolish the Lord Jesus’ work. They were all the same in that they had no knowledge of God, and that they held conceptions about God’s new work, but Nathanael and the Samaritan woman and the disciples and common people who followed the Lord Jesus were able to set aside their conceptions and seek the truth. In this way, they were able to hear God’s voice through the work and words of the Lord Jesus, recognize that the Lord Jesus was the coming of the Messiah, and return to God. Through this comparison we can see that the upper echelons of the religious world of Judaism were not only stubbornly conservative and without knowledge of God’s work, but also arrogant and self-righteous, and they simply refused to accept the truth. This was one of the reasons for their resistance to God.
Another reason was that, as the Lord Jesus’ words and work possessed truth and authority and could supply the needs of man’s life, more and more ordinary Jewish people started following the Lord Jesus, and so the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees grew concerned about the common people all following Him. With people no longer worshiping them or following them they became increasingly anxious, because they knew clearly in their hearts that the authority and power of the words and work of the Lord Jesus were far beyond their reach, and that as long as the Lord Jesus remained on the earth, more and more common people would leave them and go follow the Lord Jesus, and there would be fewer people in the temple, causing them to be unable to continue enjoying their life of supremacy, being supported and provided for by others. Therefore, the Lord Jesus became like a needle in their eye or a thorn in their flesh, and He became a hated enemy that they could not possibly co-exist with. So they discussed Jesus, saying: “What do we? for this man does many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation” (John 11:47–48). In order to safeguard their positions, they thought of everything they could do and used all kinds of despicable methods to bring false charges against the Lord Jesus. They blasphemed and condemned the Lord Jesus’ work, they vilified and slandered the Lord Jesus, saying that He relied on Beelzebub to cast out demons (see Matthew 12:24), and they gave false testimony, accusing and framing the Lord Jesus (see Mark 14:55–58). They even colluded with Roman authorities to ruthlessly nail Him to the cross. When the Lord Jesus was resurrected, He appeared before His disciples for 40 days and then ascended to heaven, and power and miracles accompanied their spreading of the gospel. These facts were sufficient to verify that the Lord Jesus was the true God, that His work contained the work of the Holy Spirit, that it was upheld by the Holy Spirit, and that it was the true way! Under these circumstances, those chief priests, scribes and Pharisees not only did not rethink their situation, but on the contrary they acted in the name of “upholding the law and defending the true way” and they continued to exploit their power by colluding with their rulers to intensify their frantic suppression, persecution and slaughter of the followers of the Lord Jesus. They did everything in their power to stop people from following the Lord Jesus, they even strictly prohibited anyone from spreading the name of the Lord Jesus…. In order to safeguard their own positions and their livelihoods, there truly was no crime they would not commit, which completely exposed their devilish nature of hating the truth and being enemies of Christ. This was the other reason for their frantic resistance and condemnation of the Lord Jesus. Their evil deeds offended God’s disposition and stirred up the wrath of God. In the end, the entire Jewish race was subjected to the unprecedented pain of national subjugation, which was the painful price they paid for resisting God and condemning God.
Now we are in the last days, and God has prepared a greater salvation for those who have been redeemed by Him. This salvation is God once again becoming flesh and expressing the truth to judge and cleanse man. He now performs a new work of judgment beginning with the house of God. This stage of work shall thoroughly rid man of his satanic corrupt disposition. It will free man from the dark influence of Satan and turn mankind into a race that knows God, is compatible with God and truly belongs to God, so that mankind will thereby attain salvation and be obtained by God. This is the final stage of work in God’s six-thousand-year management plan. Since Almighty God appeared and began His work, those from various denominations who love the truth and have longed for the appearance of God, have read Almighty God’s words, and determined that Almighty God’s words carry authority and power, and that they are the expression of the truth, and are truly God’s voice, and so one by one they have accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days. The unprecedented sight of all nations flowing to the mountain has appeared. Now, Almighty God’s kingdom gospel is currently extending across every nation and in every direction all over the world; new branches of The Church of Almighty God are set up one after another in foreign countries and regions; more and more people around the world have begun to accept God’s gospel of the last days. This completely reveals God’s almightiness and wisdom. However, faced with all these truths, faced with so great a wonder and the testimony of the Holy Spirit’s work, the leaders in the religious world have turned a blind eye and are not moved by them in the slightest. These people are the same as the Pharisees, they do not recognize that the work of the Holy Spirit is continuously moving forward, and that God’s work is always new and never old. They only acknowledge one inflexible principle: Any preaching that says the Lord has come in the flesh is false; all who preach about a God who bears a name different to the Lord Jesus are heretics; all the Lord’s words are within the Bible, anything that goes beyond the Bible is not the true way, and not to follow the requirements God had of man in the Age of Grace is to go beyond Christ’s teachings. Moreover, they even believe with extreme self-confidence that they are proficient in the Bible and have gained life after having worked and preached for many years, that only the things that they accept, have knowledge of and hold onto are the true way, and anything beyond this is heresy or an evil cult. These people have firmly delimited God within the Bible, and they have delimited Him within God’s past work. No matter how much truth the work brought by Almighty God contains, how much work of the Holy Spirit it has, how it can provide for people’s needs, and how many facts there are to verify it, they do not acknowledge that it is from God. Not only do they not seek or investigate God’s work of the last days, but they are hostile toward it and they deny it, so much so that they blaspheme the incarnate flesh of God and disparage and condemn the work and the word of Christ in the last days. They are just the same as the old Pharisees—stubborn and arrogant, looking down on the truth and blaspheming the Holy Spirit! It’s just like what Almighty God says: “If one only comes to know God from one stage of His work, then their knowledge is far too small, and amounts to no more than a drop in the ocean. If not, why would many of the religious old guard nail God to the cross alive? Is it not because man confines God within certain parameters? Do many people not oppose God and obstruct the work of the Holy Spirit because they do not know the varied and diverse work of God, and, furthermore, because they possess but a smidgeon of knowledge and doctrine with which to measure the work of the Holy Spirit? Though the experiences of such people are superficial, they are arrogant and indulgent in nature and they regard the work of the Holy Spirit with contempt, ignore the disciplines of the Holy Spirit and, moreover, use their trivial old arguments to ‘confirm’ the work of the Holy Spirit. They also put on an act, and are wholly convinced of their own learning and erudition, and convinced that they are able to travel across the world. Are such people not those who are despised and rejected by the Holy Spirit, and will they not be eliminated by the new age? Are not those who come before God and openly oppose Him ignorant and under-informed little people, who are merely trying to show how brilliant they are? With but a meager knowledge of the Bible, they try to straddle the world’s ‘academia’; with but a superficial doctrine to teach people, they try to reverse the work of the Holy Spirit and attempt to make it revolve around their own thought process. Short-sighted as they are, they try to behold in one glance 6,000 years of God’s work. These people do not have any sense worth mentioning! In fact, the greater people’s knowledge of God, the slower they are to judge His work. Furthermore, they only talk a little of their knowledge of God’s work today, but they are not rash in their judgments. The less people know of God, the more arrogant and overconfident they are and the more wantonly they proclaim God’s being—yet they only talk of theory, and offer no real evidence. Such people are of no value whatsoever. Those who see the work of the Holy Spirit as a game are frivolous! Those who are not cautious when they encounter the new work of the Holy Spirit, who run their mouths off, are quick to judge, who give free rein to their natural instinct to deny the rightness of the Holy Spirit’s work, and who also insult and blaspheme it—are such disrespectful people not ignorant of the Holy Spirit’s work? Are they not, furthermore, people of great arrogance, people who are inherently proud and ungovernable?” (“Knowing the Three Stages of God’s Work Is the Path to Knowing God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
As people who truly believe in the Lord return in large numbers to The Church of Almighty God, the gradual expansion of God’s work in the last days reaches its climax. But even with the work of the Holy Spirit flourishing so much, it has not caused religious leaders who are used to being high and mighty and the religious experts who order others around to reflect on themselves, nor to lower their arrogant heads to seek and investigate. On the contrary, these people realize that their positions are becoming more and more precarious and that they could topple at any minute, and even more so they fear that everyone else will turn to Almighty God and no one will follow them, and their churches will close down and go out of business. As a result, in order to “save the day,” pastors, elders, leaders and co-workers from various denominations act in the name of “watching over the flock for the Lord and upholding the true way.” They have fabricated and distributed propaganda materials that wantonly blaspheme and attack Almighty God, and they have posted them on various kinds of network platforms inciting people to resist God. They even say things that distort and misrepresent facts and vilify The Church of Almighty God as a heretical sect, and they strictly prohibit their believers from reading Eastern Lightning’s books or listening to Eastern Lightning’s sermons. They do not permit believers to receive people who preach God’s salvation in the last days or even any strangers, and they absolutely go against the teachings of God in the Age of Grace when He asked man to host strangers with compassion. These people are fully aware that those who follow Almighty God are good-natured folk who truly believe in God, and they’re even more aware that there is no evil intent whatsoever in these people preaching about God’s salvation in the last days, yet they still insult them and drive them away in an uncivilized and cruel manner, and even physically attack brothers and sisters who spread the gospel. The most shocking thing is that, in spite of being believers in God, these people collude with the satanic regime of the CCP, engaging in the shady and evil business of selling out the Lord and selling out their friends, tracking, monitoring and reporting on brothers and sisters who spread the gospel of the last days, and they even serve as spies within the church to gather information for the CCP’s clandestine capture of Christians. It seems that they can only feel relief from the hatred in their hearts by eliminating those who bear witness to God in one stroke and abolishing God’s new work. Are these religious leaders not the evil servants that the Lord Jesus spoke of? The Lord Jesus said: “There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and dig a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to farmers, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the farmers, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the farmers took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did to them likewise. But last of all he sent to them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the farmers saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the lord therefore of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those farmers? They say to him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard to other farmers, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons” (Matthew 21:33–41). It can therefore be seen that the root cause of the pastors and elders of the religious world condemning and resisting Almighty God in the last days is the same as that of the Jewish Pharisees who resisted the Lord Jesus—they always scheme for the sake of their own positions, rush about for the sake of their own interests, and put all their hearts and strength into satisfying their own desires. Their satanic nature and essence which makes them sick of the truth, hate the truth and resist God is thus exposed. When the Lord Jesus came, He exposed the hypocritical Jewish Pharisees; now Almighty God has come in the last days and He utterly exposes the antichrist forces of the world of religion! Were it not for God appearing and performing His work, no one would be able to see through to the true God-defying face of the pastors and elders of the religious world. The appearance and work of God incarnate truly exposes man.
After this fellowship, I trust that everyone will now have some understanding about the root cause of why the world of religion always resists God’s new work! The ordinary Jewish people in the days of Jesus had no knowledge of the essence of the Pharisees, which resisted God and hated the truth, and so they worshiped and followed them. They did not seek or investigate God’s new work, but just blindly rejected and resisted it and were ultimately punished by God. This led to the nation of Israel being subjugated for almost two thousand years and the slaughter of countless Jews. Now, the work of judgment beginning in the house of God that is being performed by Almighty God has reached an unprecedented event, and will soon end in glory as Almighty God will appear openly to all nations and peoples. Now at this crucial moment, do we heed the words of the pastors and elders, or do we investigate God’s new work? This question is directly related to whether or not we can attain God’s salvation. The Lord Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Are you one of God’s sheep? So how then should you choose?