4. How Can You Tell the Difference Between the True and False Ways, and True and False Churches?
Relevant Words of God:
What is the most basic principle in seeking the true way? You have to look at whether or not there is the work of the Holy Spirit, whether or not these words are the expression of the truth, who is testified to, and what it can bring you. Distinguishing between the true way and the false way requires several aspects of basic knowledge, the most fundamental of which is to tell whether or not there is the work of the Holy Spirit. For the substance of man’s belief in God is the belief in the Spirit of God, and even his belief in God incarnate is because this flesh is the embodiment of the Spirit of God, which means that such belief is still the belief in the Spirit. There are differences between the Spirit and the flesh, but because this flesh comes from the Spirit, and is the Word become flesh, thus what man believes in is still the inherent substance of God. And so, in distinguishing whether or not it is the true way, above all you must look at whether or not there is the work of the Holy Spirit, after which you must look at whether or not there is the truth in this way. This truth is the life disposition of normal humanity, which is to say, that which was required of man when God created him in the beginning, namely, all of normal humanity (including human sense, insight, wisdom, and the basic knowledge of being man). That is, you need to look at whether or not this way takes man into a life of normal humanity, whether or not the truth that is spoken of is required according to the reality of normal humanity, whether or not this truth is practical and real, and whether or not it is most timely. If there is truth, then it is able to take man into normal and real experiences; man, furthermore, becomes ever more normal, man’s human sense becomes ever more complete, man’s life in the flesh and the spiritual life become ever more orderly, and man’s emotions become ever more normal. This is the second principle. There is one other principle, which is whether or not man has an increasing knowledge of God, whether or not experiencing such work and truth can inspire a love of God in him, and bring him ever closer to God. In this can be measured whether or not it is the true way. Most fundamental is whether this way is realistic rather than supernatural, and whether or not it is able to provide the life of man. If it conforms to these principles, the conclusion can be drawn that this way is the true way. … If it is the work of the Holy Spirit, man becomes ever more normal, and his humanity becomes ever more normal. Man has an increasing knowledge of his disposition, which has been corrupted by Satan, and of the essence of man, and he has an ever greater longing for the truth. That is to say, the life of man grows and grows, and the corrupt disposition of man becomes capable of more and more changes—all of which is the meaning of God becoming the life of man. If a way is incapable of revealing those things that are the essence of man, is incapable of changing the disposition of man, and, moreover, is incapable of bringing him before God or giving him a true understanding of God, and even causes his humanity to become ever more lowly and his sense ever more abnormal, then this way must not be the true way, and it may be the work of an evil spirit, or the old way. In short, it cannot be the present work of the Holy Spirit. You have believed in God for all these years, yet you have no inkling of the principles for differentiating between the true way and the false way or for seeking the true way. Most people aren’t even interested in these matters; they merely go where the majority go, and repeat what the majority say. How is this someone who seeks the true way? And how can such people find the true way? If you grasp these several key principles, then whatever happens you will not be deceived.
from “Only Those Who Know God and His Work Can Satisfy God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
All those who are within the stream of the Holy Spirit are possessed of the presence and discipline of the Holy Spirit, and those who are not within the stream of the Holy Spirit are under the command of Satan, and without any of the work of the Holy Spirit. People who are in the stream of the Holy Spirit are those who accept the new work of God, the ones who cooperate in the new work of God. If those who are within this stream are incapable of cooperating, and unable to put into practice the truth required by God during this time, then they will be disciplined, and at worst will be forsaken by the Holy Spirit. Those who accept the new work of the Holy Spirit, will live within the stream of the Holy Spirit, receive the care and protection of the Holy Spirit. Those who are willing to put the truth into practice are enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and those who are unwilling to put the truth into practice are disciplined by the Holy Spirit, and may even be punished. Regardless of what kind of person they are, provided that they are within the stream of the Holy Spirit, God will take responsibility for all those who accept His new work for the sake of His name. Those who glorify His name and are willing to put His words into practice will receive His blessings; those who disobey Him and do not put His words into practice will receive His punishment. … Not so for the people who do not accept the new work: They are outside the stream of the Holy Spirit, and the discipline and reproach of the Holy Spirit do not apply to them. All day, these people live within the flesh, they live within their minds, and all that they do is according to the doctrine produced by the analysis and research of their own brains. It is not the requirements of the Holy Spirit’s new work, much less is it cooperation with God. Those who do not accept the new work of God are bereft of the presence of God, and, moreover, devoid of the blessings and protection of God. Most of their words and actions hold to the past requirements of the Holy Spirit’s work; they are doctrine, not truth. Such doctrine and regulation are sufficient to prove that the only thing that brings them together is religion; they are not the chosen ones, or the objects of God’s work. The assembly of all those among them can only be called a grand congress of religion, and cannot be called a church. This is an unalterable fact.
from “God’s Work and Man’s Practice” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Why is it said that the practice of those in the religious churches is outdated? It is because what they put into practice is divorced from the work of today. In the Age of Grace, what they put into practice was right, but as the age has passed and God’s work has changed, their practice has gradually become outdated. It has been left behind by the new work and the new light. Based upon its original foundation, the work of the Holy Spirit has progressed several steps deeper. Yet those people still remain stuck at the original stage of God’s work, and still cleave to the old practices and the old light. God’s work can change greatly in three or five years, so would not even greater transformations occur over the course of 2,000 years? If man has no new light or practice, it means that he has not kept up with the work of the Holy Spirit. This is the failing of man; the existence of God’s new work cannot be denied because, today, those with the Holy Spirit’s original work still abide by outdated practices. The work of the Holy Spirit is always moving forward, and all those who are in the stream of the Holy Spirit should also be progressing deeper and changing, step-by-step. They should not stop at a single stage. Only those who do not know the work of the Holy Spirit would remain amongst His original work, and not accept the new work of the Holy Spirit. Only those who are disobedient would be incapable of gaining the Holy Spirit’s work. If the practice of man does not keep pace with the new work of the Holy Spirit, then the practice of man is surely dissevered from the work of today, and is surely incompatible with the work of today. Such outdated people as these are simply incapable of accomplishing God’s will, much less could they become those final people that will stand testimony to God. The entire management work, furthermore, could not be concluded amongst such a group of people. For those who once held to the law of Jehovah, and those who once suffered for the cross, if they cannot accept the stage of work of the last days, then all that they did will have been in vain, and useless. … If man remains stuck in one stage, then this proves that he is incapable of keeping up with God’s work and the new light; it does not prove that God’s plan of management has not changed. Those who are outside the stream of the Holy Spirit always think they are right, but in fact, God’s work in them ceased long ago, and the work of the Holy Spirit is absent from them. The work of God was long since transferred to another group of people, a group on whom He intends to complete His new work. Because those in religion are incapable of accepting God’s new work, and only hold to the old work of the past, thus God has forsaken these people, and does His new work on the people who accept this new work. These are people who cooperate in His new work, and only in this way can His management be accomplished. The management of God is always moving forward, and the practice of man is always ascending higher. God is always working, and man is always in need, such that both reach their zenith, God and man are in complete union. This is the expression of the accomplishment of God’s work, and is the final outcome of God’s entire management.
from “God’s Work and Man’s Practice” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The Man’s Fellowship:
The true way is the path that can save people, change people, and enable them to achieve God’s approval and enter into the true destination. Only this is the true way. If people think that they believe in the true way, yet these aims and effects have not been achieved, then it can be said that theirs is a false way, that it is not the true way. Some people say: “How do I tell the difference between the positive and negative?” This is accomplished according to the words of God. All that is approved by God, all that He requires man to possess, and all that God likes man to do is positive; all that God requires people to reject and forsake, and all that is condemned by God, is negative. Evaluating the positive and negative is judged thus, according to God’s words; God’s words are the touchstone that verifies whether anything is true or false, and they are the only standard for whether anything is true or false. How do you evaluate which way is true, and which is false? The way that can bring you the true life, that can make you see the light, that can allow you to rid yourself of the corruption and influence of Satan, and enable you to gain the approval and blessings of God—this is the true way. Is that not right? What has the judgment and chastisement of God brought us? It has brought all of the truths that corrupt mankind must possess to achieve salvation, it has brought the true way of life, it has allowed us to see the light of life, it has given us the greatest salvation, and the true salvation, that was predestined by God at the creation of the world, and it has transformed us from a people who were corrupted by Satan, and belonged to Satan, into a real people who have truly been cleansed by God and are possessed of the truth and humanity. These are all the effects achieved by the judgment and chastisement of God, by God’s work of the last days. Without the judgment and chastisement of God, we would be unable to gain the truth, our corruption would remain unresolved, we would never be able to see the light of life, and would never gain God’s approval. Thus, all of the blessings we have received today result from experiencing and obeying the judgment and chastisement of God.
Some people say: “Hey, if this is the true way, why have so few people joined it? Since it is the true way, shouldn’t it have many believers? Shouldn’t the whole of mankind believe in it?” People who say such things do not understand the truth, they are purblind. The corruption of all mankind has reached a certain point; fewer and fewer people love the truth, more and more pursue their own interests, and regardless of what faith they will accept, they first look at whether it is profitable to them—which means that those who believe in the true way are sure to be few, and those who believe in false ways, and ways that provide grace and benefits, are sure to be many. After hearing my explanation, you will be able to see through to the substance of the issue. The way we believe in does not heal people, or fill their bellies with bread, or give them grace, or exorcize them of demons. But if we added one more thing to the way we believe in—that believers wouldn’t die when any disaster befell them—then all the world’s people would believe in it. Today, this is not included in our way. God has not said, “I guarantee that all who believe in the name of Almighty God shall not die.” Thus, when you spread the gospel you are cautious. People ask, “So will I not die if I believe in Almighty God?” “I don’t know.” “If He can’t stop me from dying, then there’s no point in believing in Him.” People will also ask, “What will I gain from believing in Almighty God?” “You can gain the truth.” “What will gaining the truth get me?” “You will survive.” “Who has seen this? Who can guarantee it? What does it mean to gain the truth?” “I don’t know.” “There’s no way I can believe.” Thus, it is hard for us to bear testimony to Almighty God and spread the gospel, for those who love the truth are extremely few. This is fact. Yet after accepting the work of Almighty God, the more we believe, the more we feel it is real, and the stronger our faith becomes. Why is that? This is the effect of understanding the truth. The more one understands the truth, the more they feel it is the true way, and the work of God. The more they understand the truth, the more they say to themselves, “Oh, God’s salvation of man in this way is so real, understanding the truth really can save me, cause changes in my disposition, make me a true human being, and allow me to live out a real life of normal humanity—and so this way has meaning.” They feel that gaining the truth is more meaningful, worthy, and precious than any profits, or the healing of the sick, or filling people’s bellies with bread. As a result, those who have believed in Almighty God for several years feel that there is nothing precious about any of the grace they might be given, that only gaining the truth is precious—and in this, they have seen the true way. Look, have any of those who believe in Almighty God run off? Although some people do not pursue the truth, as long as they have listened to the preaching for but a few years, would they wish to back out? None of them would. And why wouldn’t they? What they know is that “This is the true way. As long as I work hard, and do my duty well, then it’s highly likely that I will survive, that my end will not be death. To not die is so precious.” Today, people don’t know what is required to avoid death. As soon as they did, then everyone would become believers, and their belief would be strong.
from “Four Fundamental Lessons That Must Be Entered in Order to Obey the Work of God” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life (VI)
If the whole of the religious community were not hostile and opposed to it, then this would not be the true way. Remember: The true way must be opposed by most people, and even the world. When the Lord Jesus first came to work and preach, did the whole of Judaism not oppose Him? Each time God begins new work, the corrupt mankind has the greatest difficulty in accepting it, for the work of God is at odds with and refutes people’s conceptions; people lack the capacity to understand, and are incapable of penetrating the spiritual realm, and if it were not for the work of the Holy Spirit, they would be unable to accept the true way. If it is believed to be the work of God, but it is not opposed by the religious community, and lacks the opposition and hostility of the world, then this proves that this work of God is false. Why is mankind incapable of accepting the truth? Firstly, man is of the flesh, he is of a physical substance. Physical things are unable to penetrate the spiritual realm. What does it mean to be “unable to penetrate the spiritual realm”? It means being unable to see the spirits, the activities of the spirits and the spiritual realm, being unseeing of what God is doing and saying. People would be blind in the spiritual realm. If you close your eyes in the physical world, you see nothing. When you open them, what can you see? The physical world. Can you see which spirit does what work in people? Can you see what the Spirit of God has come to do and say? You cannot. Sometimes you can hear His voice, and read the words of God written in a book, but still you do not know how or when God spoke these words. You can hear His voice, but you do not know from where it comes; you see God’s words printed on the page, but you do not know what they mean. People are unable to penetrate the spiritual realm, or grasp the source of God’s words, and thus they require the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit, and the work of the Holy Spirit, in order to achieve effects. Secondly, mankind has been too profoundly corrupted, and his inside has been filled up with the myriad venom of Satan and myriad knowledge; if he evaluates everything using various satanic philosophies and knowledge, then he will never be able to establish what the truth is. Without the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit, man would be incapable of understanding the truth. Corrupt mankind by instinct is incapable of penetrating the spiritual realm. He has been filled up with satanic philosophies and knowledge, and is unable to identify the truth. And thus the true way is inevitably subjected to the persecution and rejection of man. Why is it easy for people to accept the knowledge and philosophies of Satan? Firstly, it is in line with their conceptions and the interests of their flesh, and it is beneficial to their flesh. They say to themselves, “Accepting knowledge such as this helps me: It will get me a promotion, it will make me successful, and allow me to achieve things. With knowledge such as this people will look up to me.” See how that which benefits people is in line with their conceptions. … Having been corrupted to this extent, and being unable to penetrate the spiritual realm, people can only oppose God, and thus the arrival of God’s work has met with man’s rejection, opposition, and condemnation. Is this not to be expected? If the arrival of God’s work had not been met with the condemnation and opposition of the world and mankind, then this would prove that it is not the truth. If all that was spoken by God were in line with people’s conceptions, would they condemn it? Would they oppose it? They would surely not.
from “Fellowship and Preaching of the Above Concerning Spreading the Gospel”
Only a church that is possessed of the work of the Holy Spirit is a church of God, and only if it has people who truly pursue the truth and obey the work of God can a church be possessed of the work of the Holy Spirit; God recognizes churches that have the work of the Holy Spirit, and does not recognize churches that are without the work of the Holy Spirit. This should be understood by the chosen ones of God.
A real church is made up of those who truly believe in God and love the truth, and is a congregation of all those who fear God. Only then can it be called a church. … Only a congregation of those who have been predestined and chosen by God and are possessed of the work of the Holy Spirit is a church.
from “How to Approach and Resolve Disorder Among Local Churches” in Annals of the Fellowship and Arrangements of the Work of the Church (II)
A church is made up of those who have truly been predestined and chosen by God—it is composed of those who love the truth, pursue the truth, and are possessed of the work of the Holy Spirit. Only when these people assemble to eat and drink the word of God, lead the life of the church, experience the work of God, and perform their duty as creatures of God can it be a church. If a rabble says it truly believes in God, but does not love or pursue the truth, and is without the work of the Holy Spirit, and performs religious ceremonies, and prays, and reads the words of God, then it is not a church. More precisely, churches without the work of the Holy Spirit are not churches; they are but religious venues and people who perform religious ceremonies. They are not people who truly obey God and experience the work of God.
A church is a gathering of people who truly believe in God and pursue the truth, and it absolutely does not contain the wicked—they do not belong to a church. If a group of people who did not pursue the truth and did not do anything to put the truth into practice gathered together, would this be a church? What would it be? It would be a religious venue, or a rabble. A church must be made up of people who truly believe in God and pursue the truth, who eat and drink the words of God, and worship God, perform their duty, and experience the work of God and have acquired the work of the Holy Spirit. Only this is a church. Thus, when you evaluate a church, you must first look at what kind of people it has. Secondly, you must look at whether or not they have the work of the Holy Spirit; if their assembly is without the work of the Holy Spirit, it is not a church, and if it is not a gathering of those who pursue the truth, then it is not a church. If a church has no one who truly pursues the truth, and is utterly without the work of the Holy Spirit, then if there is a person in it who is willing to pursue the truth, and they remain in such a church, could that person be saved? They could not, and they should leave that rabble and look for a church as soon as they can. If, within a church, there are three or five people who pursue the truth, and 30 or 50 people who are but a rabble, then those three or five people who truly believe in God and pursue the truth should come together; if they come together their gathering is still a church, a church with fewest members, but which is pure.
from “Understanding the True Meaning of the Church and Working by the Five Principles of the Church Work Is of Critical Importance During the Final Time” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life (VII)
Many people believe in God but worship cathedrals and place blind credence in pastors—with the result that, after having believed in God for many years, they still haven’t understood the truth or entered into reality, have only gained some religious doctrines and religious ceremonies and practices, and do not truly know God. In consequence, there is not the slightest change in their life disposition. No wonder, then, that those religious leaders and pastors spend their whole lives believing in God and preaching, and yet not a single one of them truly knows God, or even has a heart that fears God; they remain like the Pharisees from earliest times, doing their utmost to oppose Christ, condemn the true way, and ensnare and control God’s chosen people for the sake of their own status and livelihood. The reason why they give the appearance of so loving and treasuring God’s flock is purely in order to protect their own livelihood, just like how businessmen treat their customers like gods to make money and get rich. Everything that the religious community does is a manifestation of its opposition to God; it is nothing but religious ceremony, and contains not the slightest reality of the truth, much less is there any trace of the work of the Holy Spirit. Clearly, the religious community does not worship the true God, but the vague and imaginary God. It preaches religious doctrines, and the literal knowledge of the Bible, and it is utterly devoid of the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the religious community is fundamentally incapable of bringing people before God, it cannot lead them onto the right track of believing in God, and, moreover, it is unable to take people into the reality of the truth, or help them be saved. That is because its leaders and pastors have not been made perfect and built up by the Holy Spirit whilst experiencing the work of God, but have instead become leaders and pastors in the religious community after graduating from a seminary and being given a diploma. They are without the work and confirmation of the Holy Spirit, they have not the slightest true knowledge of God, and their mouths can speak of nothing but theological knowledge and theories. They have not actually experienced anything. Such people are totally unqualified to be used by God; how could they lead man before God? They arrogantly hold up graduation from seminary as proof of their own entitlement, they do everything they can to flaunt their knowledge of the Bible, they are insufferably arrogant—and because of this, they are condemned by God, and loathed by God, and have lost the work of the Holy Spirit. Of this there is no doubt. Why the religious community has become the deadly enemy of Christ is a very thought-provoking question. What does it show that, in the Age of Grace, Judaism nailed Jesus Christ to the cross? In the Age of Kingdom of the last days, the religious community has united and devoted all its efforts to opposing and judging God’s work of the last days, it denies and rejects Christ incarnate of the last days, it has fabricated various rumors about, and attacked, vilified, and blasphemed against God incarnate and the church of God, and it has long since nailed the returned Jesus, Christ of the last days, to the cross. This proves that the religious community has long since degenerated into forces of Satan that oppose and rebel against God. The religious community is not ruled by God, much less is it ruled by the truth; it is totally ruled by the corrupt humans, and moreover, by antichrists.
When people believe in God in a religious venue such as this—one which belongs to Satan and is ruled and controlled by demons and antichrists—they are only capable of understanding religious doctrines, they can only follow religious ceremony and regulation, and they will never understand the truth, will never experience the work of God, and are totally incapable of being saved. This is absolute. For there is nothing of the work of the Holy Spirit in religious venues, and they are places which disgust God, which are loathed by God, and are condemned and cursed by Him. God has never recognized religion, much less has He ever praised it, and from the time of Jesus the religious community has been condemned by God. Thus, when you believe in God you must find places that contain the work of the Holy Spirit; only these are true churches, and only in true churches will you be able to hear the voice of God, and discover the footprints of the work of God. Such is the means by which God is sought.
from “The Effects of Genuinely Understanding the Truth” in Annals of the Fellowship and Arrangements of the Work of the Church (I)