5. The Difference Between Following God and Following People.
Relevant Words of God:
Of principal importance in following God is that everything should be according to the actual words of God: Whether you are pursuing entry into life or the fulfillment of God’s will, everything should be centered around the actual words of God. If what you commune and pursue are not centered around the actual words of God, then you are a stranger to the words of God, and totally bereft of the work of the Holy Spirit.
from “Know the Newest Work of God and Follow the Footsteps of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Some impulsively believe that where there is the work of the Holy Spirit, there is the appearance of God. Or else they believe that where there are spiritual figures, there is the appearance of God. Or else they believe that where people are well-known, there is the appearance of God. For the moment, let us not deliberate whether such beliefs are right or wrong. To explain such question, we must first be clear about an objective: We are searching for the footprints of God. We are not seeking spiritual figures, much less are we following famous figures; we are following the footprints of God. As such, since we are searching for the footprints of God, we must search for God’s will, for the words of God, for the utterances of God—for where there are the new words of God, there is the voice of God, and where there are the footsteps of God, there are the deeds of God. Where there is the expression of God, there is the appearance of God, and where there is the appearance of God, there exists the truth, the way, and the life. While seeking the footprints of God, you ignored the words that “God is the truth, the way, and the life.” So when many people receive the truth, they do not believe that they have found the footprints of God and much less acknowledge the appearance of God. What a serious error that is!
from “The Appearance of God Has Brought a New Age” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Some people do not rejoice in the truth, much less judgment. Rather, they rejoice in power and riches; such people are deemed to be snobs. They exclusively seek out those sects in the world with influence and those pastors and teachers coming from seminaries. Despite having accepted the way of truth, they remain skeptical and are unable to devote themselves fully. They speak of sacrificing for God, but their eyes are focused on the great pastors and teachers, and Christ is brushed aside. Their hearts are filled with fame, fortune, and glory. They do not believe at all that such a meager man is capable of conquering so many, that one so unremarkable is capable of perfecting people. They do not believe at all that these nobodies among the dust and dunghills are the people chosen by God. They believe that if such people were the objects of God’s salvation, then heaven and earth would be turned upside down and all men would laugh their heads off. They believe that if God chose such nobodies to be perfected, then those great men would become God Himself. Their perspectives are tainted with unbelief; indeed, far from unbelief, they are preposterous beasts. For they only value position, prestige, and power; what they hold in high regard are large groups and sects. They have no regard at all for those led by Christ; they are simply traitors who have turned their backs on Christ, on truth, and on life.
What you admire is not the humility of Christ, but those false shepherds of prominent standing. You do not love the loveliness or wisdom of Christ, but those wantons who associate with the vile world. You laugh at the pain of Christ who has no place to lay His head, but admire those corpses that seize offerings and live in debauchery. You are not willing to suffer alongside Christ, but gladly go into the arms of those reckless antichrists though they supply to you only flesh, only letters, and only control. Even now your heart still turns toward them, their reputation, their standing in the hearts of all the Satans, their influence, and their authority, yet you continue to have an attitude of resistance and refusal to accept the work of Christ. This is why I say that you do not have the faith of acknowledging Christ. The reason you have followed Him to this day is entirely because you were forced. In your heart forever tower many lofty images; you cannot forget their every word and deed, nor their influential words and hands. They are, in your heart, forever supreme and forever heroes. But this is not so for the Christ of today. He is forever insignificant in your heart and forever undeserving of reverence. For He is far too ordinary, has far too little influence, and is far from lofty.
from “Are You a True Believer of God?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Look at the leaders of every denomination and sect. They are all arrogant and self-right, and they interpret the Bible out of context and according to their own imagination. They all rely on gifts and erudition to do their work. If they were incapable of preaching anything, would those people follow them? They do, after all, possess some learning, and can speak a little of doctrine, or know how to win over others and how to use some artifices, through which they have brought people before themselves and have deceived them. Nominally, those people believe in God—but in reality they follow their leaders. If they encounter those who preach the true way, some of them would say, “We have to consult him about our belief in God.” See how they require someone’s consent to believe in God; is that not a problem?
from “Only the Pursuit of the Truth Is the True Belief in God” in Records of Christ’s Talks
People who believe in God should obey God and worship Him. You should not exalt or look up to any person; you ought not to give first place to God, second place to the people you look up to, and third place to yourself. No person should hold a place in your heart, and you should not consider people—particularly those you venerate—to be on a par with God, to be His equal. This is intolerable to God.
from “The Ten Administrative Decrees That Must Be Obeyed by God’s Chosen People in the Age of Kingdom” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Those who do not understand the truth always follow others: If people say that this is the work of the Holy Spirit, then you, too, say it is the work of the Holy Spirit; if people say it is the work of an evil spirit, then you, too, become doubtful, or also say it is the work of an evil spirit. You always parrot the words of others, and are incapable of distinguishing anything by yourself, nor are you able to think for yourself. This is someone without a position, who is unable to differentiate—such a person is a worthless wretch! Such people always repeat the words of others: Today it is said that this is the work of the Holy Spirit, but chances are one day someone will say it isn’t the work of the Holy Spirit, and nothing but the deeds of man—yet you can’t see through this, and when you witness it said by others, you say the same thing. It is actually the work of the Holy Spirit, but you say it is the work of man; have you not become one of those who blaspheme against the work of the Holy Spirit? In this, have you not opposed God because you cannot differentiate? Who knows, maybe one day some nitwit will appear who says that “this is the work of an evil spirit,” and when you hear these words you’ll be at a loss, and once again bound up by the words of others. Every time someone stirs up disturbance you’re incapable of standing by your position, and this is all because you do not possess the truth. Believing in God and pursuing the knowledge of God is no simple matter. They cannot be achieved simply by gathering together and listening to preaching, and you cannot be perfected by passion alone. You must experience, and know, and be principled in your actions, and gain the work of the Holy Spirit.
from “Only Those Who Know God and His Work Can Satisfy God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The Man’s Fellowship:
Following God means listening to God in everything, obeying all of the arrangements of God, acting according to the words of God, and accepting all that comes from God. If you believe in God, then you should follow God; yet, without realizing it, when they believe in God most people follow people, which is both ridiculous and tragic. Strictly speaking, whoever people follow is who they believe in. Although some people nominally believe in God, in their hearts there is no God; in their hearts, they worship their leaders. Listening to one’s leaders, and even going so far as to deny the arrangements of God, is the manifestation of believing in God but following people. Before they have gained the truth, everyone’s belief is as muddled and confused as this. They are even completely ignorant of what it means to follow God, and unable to tell the difference between following God and following people. They only believe that whoever speaks doctrines that are good, and high, is their father or mother; for them, whoever has milk is their mother, and whoever has power is their father. That is how pathetic they are. It can be said that, to varying degrees, this is the spiritual state of most people.
What does it mean to follow God? And how do you put it into practice? Following God doesn’t just involve praying to God and praising God; what’s most important is to eat and drink the words of God and live according to the words of God, to act according to the truth, to find the path to experiencing the life amid the words of God, to accept God’s commission, to perform every one of your duties properly, and to walk the path before you as guided by the Holy Spirit. In particular, at critical junctures, when major problems befall you, there is an even greater need to search for God’s meaning, to be wary of being tricked by man’s doctrines, and to not fall under anyone’s control. “That which comes from God I obey and follow, but if it comes from the will of man I staunchly reject it; when what is preached by leaders or workers is in conflict with the arrangements of God, then I absolutely follow God and reject people. If it is in complete accord with the arrangements and will of God, then I can listen to it.” People who practice in this way are those who follow God.
What does it mean to follow people? Following people means one follows the workers or leaders that they worship. God does not have much of a place in their hearts; they have merely hung up a sign saying they believe in God, and in everything they do they imitate or copy people. Particularly when it’s something major, they let people decide, they let people command their fate, they themselves do not search for God’s meaning, and they are unable to discern words that are spoken by people. As long as what they hear sounds reasonable, then regardless of whether it conforms with the truth they still accept it and listen to it. These are the manifestations of following people. Such people’s belief in God has no principles, there is no truth to their actions, they listen to whoever speaks sense, and even if their idols take the wrong path, they follow them to the very end. If God condemns their idols, then they will have conceptions toward God, and cling tightly to their idols. Their reasons are that “we should listen to whoever is in charge of us; the nearer power is better than the higher power.” This is wretched logic, pure and simple, but such is the silliness of those who follow people. Those who follow people are without the truth. Only those who follow God truly believe in God; those who follow people worship idols, they have been beguiled by people, and in their hearts there is neither God nor the truth.
from “Differentiating Between Following God and Following People” in The Fellowship From the Above
Many people believe in God but do not know what it means to obey God, and think that listening to their leaders in all things is the same as obeying God. Such views are totally absurd, because the source of their obedience is wrong. They consider listening to their leaders to be obeying God. To believe in God according to these views is to believe in God in name only; in reality, these people believe in people. …
When we believe in God, God should hold a leading position in our hearts, we should surrender control to God in all matters, we should search for God’s meaning in everything, our actions should be in accordance with God’s words, and in accordance with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and we should obey all that comes from God. If you listen to people, then this proves that God has no place in your heart, that only people have a place in your heart. Nothing is more important for people than to pursue the truth and understand God’s will. If you do not focus on seeking God’s intentions and grasping God’s will, then yours is not true obedience. No matter how right they sound, if you always listen to people, then in substance you are obeying people—which is not at all the same as obeying God. In fact, if those who believe in God are able to understand God’s meaning directly from His words, if they can find their own path to practice in His words, and they commune the truth, and understand the truth, in His words, after which they put it into practice, and if at the key moment, they can pray more, and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and obey the intentions of the Holy Spirit, this is truly obeying God. Those who obey God search for the path in God’s words, their problems are resolved in God’s words, and they act amid the guidance of the Holy Spirit; this is truly obeying God. Those who listen to their leaders in everything are sure to have strayed far from God in their hearts. What’s more, they are not at peace before God, they are not those who live before God and seek the truth, they have no relationship with God, and the principle behind their actions is to listen to whoever says the right things—as long as it is a leader, they will obey. Such practice is ridiculous. They have neither the truth nor the ability to differentiate, and can only establish what is right or wrong according to their conceptions or brains, so how can they know whether it conforms to the truth? If they believe in God according to such views, then in their whole life they will not understand the truth or come to know God. Such forms of belief can be said to be believing in their own brain and walking their own path, and they bear no relation to the practical God.
from “Listening to Your Leaders in Everything Does Not Equal Obeying God” in The Fellowship From the Above
What does “believe only in God” refer to? It means believing only that God is almighty, that God is everything, that God can save man, that God is omnipotent and omniscient, that in God there is nothing that cannot be accomplished. It means believing only in God, and not doubting or distrusting that God is omnipotent and omniscient, or that He is able to accomplish everything. People such as this are able to pray before God no matter what happens to them, and able to depend on God regardless of what troubles befall them. Christ holds pride of place in their hearts, they do not look up to or worship people, they believe only in God, they follow only the practical God, they depend on and look up to none but God, they do not give blind credence to any man, and only God, and no one else, has a place in their hearts. If they have reached that point, then they are possessed of the reality of following and relying on God in their faith. Some people’s belief in God is too meager: They never imagine God as almighty, and thus when something happens to them, it is easy for them to lose their faith. In addition, it is also easy for them to worship and look up to people, and it is as if they use this to make up for the parts of God that aren’t enough for them. Because they are always looking up to and worshiping people, unbeknownst to them God’s place in their hearts becomes ever smaller, and the place of the people they worship becomes ever greater. Ultimately, they unwittingly become those who believe in God in name only, who in reality believe in people, follow people, worship people, and look up to people. Just like those of religion, their belief in God is nominal; in reality, all that they believe in and follow are pastors, and only pastors are their Lord and God. From the path of believing in God, they slide into following and obeying people—is this not depraved? Do such people possess the true faith in God? They do not. Thus, in everything they do not rely on God, but look up to and worship people. They always look for a hint from others, they take their cue from others in searching for the path, they always listen to what people say and look at what they do, and their every word and action is inseparable from these people. Without realizing it, they have become those who believe in and follow people. It is true to say that all those who are overly reverential and worshipful of people actually believe in and follow people.
from “The Ten Realities of God’s Words That Must Be Entered in Order to Be Saved and Made Perfect” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life (IV)
Whoever people worship in their hearts is their idol; anyone who worships their leaders is someone who worships idols. The one who people worship is the one who has a place in their hearts, and the one who will inevitably take possession of them and make them their slaves. During the work of spreading the gospel, we discover that people from various sects and denominations all worship idols, are all controlled by their leaders, that they don’t even dare to accept the truth. They are like pitiable slaves. People who worship their leaders are those who worship idols, their hearts are unquestionably without the truth, and they do not know God at all; thus, God has no place in their hearts, and they are loathed and cursed by God. God is a righteous God, He is a jealous God, and He detests none more than when people worship idols. There is no greater blasphemy than holding leaders equal to God. In fact, in the hearts of those who have returned before God, there should only be God. No one else should have a place in their hearts. For such things to even feature in their thoughts and ideas is filthy and corrupt, and loathed and detested by God. In this, most people are unclean, and to a greater or lesser extent, those whom they worship have a place in their hearts. When it comes to God’s disposition, it is unacceptable that people have the slightest place for a human being in their hearts, and if they cannot achieve purity from start to finish, then they shall be condemned.
There are specific manifestations in all of those who worship their leaders in their hearts. They can be identified as follows: If your obedience to your leader is greater than your obedience to God, then you worship idols; if you pine and yearn for the people you worship more than you pine and yearn for God, then you worship idols; if you are more fervent toward your leader than God, then you worship idols; if, in your heart, you are close to those you worship and distant from God, then you worship idols; if, in your heart, those you worship rank equally with God, then this is even greater proof that you treat the people you worship like God; and if, no matter what happens to you, you are willing to listen to your leader, and are unwilling to come before God to seek the truth, then this is sufficient to prove that you don’t believe in God, but people. Some people, perhaps, will try to defend themselves, saying: “I really admire so and so, they really do have a place in my heart. Without realizing it, I’ve grown a little distant from God in my relationship with Him.” These words demonstrate the truth of the matter; as soon as someone has a place in a person’s heart, that person becomes distant from God. This is dangerous, yet some people take it lightly, they have not the slightest concern, which shows that they do not know God’s disposition. … worshiping people is so ignorant and blind, it is so corrupt and wicked. Worshiping people is worshiping Satan and demons, it is worshiping antichrists, and those who worship people are without the least bit of truth. People like this are surely bereft of even the slightest knowledge of God; they are degenerates who are cursed by God. What say you, are the facts not thus?
from “Those Who Worship Their Leaders in Their Hearts Worship Idols” in The Fellowship From the Above