125. The Principles of Distinguishing Between True and False Churches
1. Whether or not the church life has the work of the Holy Spirit, whether or not they truly fellowship the truth in meetings, and whether or not the lives of God’s chosen people are progressing gradually;
2. Whether or not the church leaders love the truth, pursue the truth and have the work of the Holy Spirit, and whether or not they truly understand the truth and practice the truth;
3. Whether it is the truth that holds sway in the church, or evil people, and whether it is those who pursue the truth who hold sway, or evil people and people who cause disturbance;
4. Only where those who genuinely pursue the truth and have the work of the Holy Spirit assemble is a church. Where evil and muddleheaded people gather is a religious site—not a church.
Relevant Words of God:
People who are in the stream of the Holy Spirit are those who accept the new work, and since they have accepted the new work, they should have the appropriate cooperation with God, and should not act as rebels who do not perform their duty. This is God’s only requirement of man. 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
Those who practice the truth within the church are abandoned and are unable to achieve their potential, while those who disturb the church and spread death run wild within the church. What is more, the majority of people follow them. This kind of church is simply under Satan’s control and the devil is their king. If the people of the church do not rise up and cast out those head demons, then they will also come to ruin sooner or later. From now on measures must be taken against this kind of church. If those who are capable of practicing a little truth are not engaging in seeking, then that church will be banned. If there is no one in a church who is willing to practice the truth, no one who can stand witness for God, then that church should be completely ostracized, and their connections with other churches must be severed. This is called burying death, and casting Satan out.
from “A Warning to Those Who Do Not Practice the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The Man’s Fellowship:
A true church is made up of God’s chosen people; only a church made up of people who truly, genuinely believe in God and who have the work of the Holy Spirit is a true church. Do you and the people you want to join with have the work of the Holy Spirit? Do you think you can join with anyone, anywhere and it will be a true church? You yourself don’t know if you’re a true believer or not, so how could you form a true church? You must be someone who has the work of the Holy Spirit, you must possess the truth and have true discernment on false churches. You must be able to provide enough evidence that God’s chosen people can acknowledge as factual and your words and deeds must allow His chosen people to see that you have genuine faith in God, that you are one who seeks the truth, and you truly possess the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit. The words you share in fellowship must be edifying for God’s chosen people, and the work of the Holy Spirit must be present when you gather with them to eat and drink God’s words; the common consensus should be that it is a gathering with enjoyment, and harvest. When all of you gather together and the Holy Spirit confirms that you are a church, it shows that you are a true church. If you gather together and just speak of literal doctrines without any of the work of the Holy Spirit, how could that be a true church? That is a false church even more so, it is a rabble. It is just a church made up of human dregs; they are all the demons and Satans grouped together that are rejected and eliminated by God’s chosen people. Is that a church? I see it as a clan of Satan. Can those who have been rejected by the majority of God’s chosen people be good people? Aren’t they just the dregs? There are some people in churches who have been eliminated, who have been commonly rejected—they are human dregs. Can a group of the dregs banded together form a true church? Isn’t that just utter nonsense? You’re pretty lucky if you haven’t been expelled, that you’ve been relegated to Group B for gatherings and given a chance to repent. You actually want to form a true church? What is a true church? You yourself are not a true believer, so could you establish a true church? We must first be able to discern what a false church is. First, it must be certain that the church’s gatherings absolutely do not have the work of the Holy Spirit. When there are gatherings no one gains enjoyment from them, and only literal doctrines are fellowshiped on. It’s all a misunderstanding of God’s words and no kind of genuine understanding is discussed. Second, the church leaders are not people who seek the truth and they lack the work of the Holy Spirit, so in gatherings there is no one who genuinely understands the truth who can share it in fellowship to water and give sustenance to God’s chosen people. This determines that the work of the Holy Spirit is not there. Third, some of the people in the church who do seek the truth are limited and suppressed and are unable to perform their duty normally within the church. The entire church is basically under the control of an evil gang, or people who don’t possess the work of the Holy Spirit. That kind of church is a false church. These are the three criteria for a false church. Where is the source of a church’s gatherings lacking the work of the Holy Spirit? It’s that the two leaders of the church do not seek the truth and do not have the work of the Holy Spirit on themselves, bringing the church halfway to being false. When this is the case, it’s easy for the church gatherings to lack the Holy Spirit’s work. If the church leaders do not seek the truth and do not have the Holy Spirit’s work, what will cause the entire church to lack the Holy Spirit’s work? That is when the church is controlled by false leaders, by people who lack the work of the Holy Spirit so that the few people who do have His work are suppressed and limited and cannot fulfill their duty normally. That kind of church has entirely lost the work of the Holy Spirit; it is a false church. If two leaders do not have the Holy Spirit’s work but they do genuinely want God and the people they put in important positions, who they have promoted do have the Holy Spirit’s work, if they are working with several people who possess the Holy Spirit’s work and seek the truth, would you say that this church is false, or not? That is not a false church. Although there is something wrong with those two leaders, they possess some humanity and the people they have promoted and put in important positions seek the truth and possess the work of the Holy Spirit. This way, as soon as those who do possess the work of the Holy Spirit are in gatherings and they speak out in fellowship, perform their duty, that gathering will also gain the work of the Holy Spirit. So determining whether a church is true or false cannot only be based on its leaders. Taking an entire church as false just because its two leaders don’t pursue the truth and do not possess the work of the Holy Spirit is erroneous. You have to look at the second type of situation, which is whether the people in the church who seek the truth and have the work of the Holy Spirit are able to perform their duty normally, and whether they are suppressed or not. The determination should be made according to this. If you can make this determination, if they are suppressed and cannot perform their duty normally, then the entire church is under the control of people who do not possess the work of the Holy Spirit and it has entirely lost His work. That means that church is false. Gaining this discernment between true and false churches isn’t about determining one is false because of a church with leaders who may have done something bad or may be lacking in humanity. It’s not that the leaders are false, so that church is false. That is an error—that is a great mistake.
from the fellowship from the above
A good church leader takes seriously what the church has entrusted to them. They consider the spiritual maturity of the brothers and sisters as their responsibility. Therefore, they often engage in fellowship about God’s word with the brothers and sisters as well as share their own experiences in life, which helps to bring others into the truth. When they find someone who exhibits corruption, they will offer support and aid. When they find someone who is experiencing hardship or deviates in their practice, they will promptly provide counsel and resolve the issues by communicating the truth. Such a church leader evidently has the Holy Spirit working in them constantly so they have real experiences and are able to articulate true knowledge of God. They are able to promptly identify issues that others have and resolve them with God’s word. When a church is led by such a person, the effects of the congregation will be great, and life in the church will only improve. … If a church leader is not a right person, then the path they choose will not be right. They’ll be unable to invite the Holy Spirit to work in them. People will not get support or nurturing in their spiritual life from them. Every action they take will surely disrupt God’s work and God’s chosen people will naturally be under their influence and control. How could life in such a church be considered good?
No one can deny that the quality of life in the church is directly related to the quality of its leaders. If a church has good leaders, life in the church will certainly be fine. Otherwise, life in the church will not be at all fine. … If the Holy Spirit is not at work in a church leader, then it suggests that they fail to truly pursue the truth and are not a good leader. Without the work of the Holy Spirit, a leader will speak and carry out work according to human ideas only. They will lord it over others by talking eloquently about doctrines and texts but won’t solve any issues with the truth. They will only disrupt God’s work and cause trouble to church life and are incapable of creating good quality church life. If a leader does not have the Holy Spirit working in them, everything will be empty talk.
from “Only Good Church Leaders Can Create a Fulfilling Life in the Church” in Selected Annals of the Work Arrangements of the Church of Almighty God
As this occurs, God’s chosen people should wait and watch, and clearly discern all kinds of evil people who do not pursue the truth, and ensure that all those who genuinely believe in God and love the truth, those who can pursue the truth, are able to know each other and unite. This is a real church. 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. People who fear God are people who love the truth, people who can accept and practice the truth. Therefore, real churches will be entirely revealed in the trials and refinement to come. Today, the wheat and the tares are mixed, and the churches controlled by evil people are not churches at all, they are merely rabble. 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. Today, churches everywhere are contaminated by evil people, some even suffer the disturbance of evil people. These churches are contaminated, they are impure churches, but when every kind of evil person is revealed, cleared out and expelled, only those who genuinely love the truth and those with the work of the Holy Spirit will remain and worship God together, and this is a real church.
from “How to Approach and Resolve Disorder in Churches Everywhere” in Selected Annals of the Work Arrangements of the Church of Almighty God
Is it now clear what truly is a church? It is a church of people who truly believe in God and seek the truth; it absolutely is not a church of evil people. They do not belong to churches. If a group of people gather together who do not seek the truth or put it into practice at all, is that really a church? What is it, then? It’s just a religious site or a rabble. A church must be made up of people who truly believe in God and seek the truth, who together eat and drink God’s words, worship God, perform their duty, and undergo God’s work to gain the work of the Holy Spirit—only that is a church. So when sizing up a church, the first thing is to see what that group of people is like, and the second thing is to see if they have the work of the Holy Spirit. If they don’t have His work in gatherings, it’s not a church. If it’s not people who pursue the truth gathered together, then it’s not a church. If a church doesn’t have a single person who seeks the truth or has the Holy Spirit’s work but there’s someone there who is willing to seek the truth, if they stay in that church, can they gain salvation? They cannot. They should not delay in leaving that rabble behind and seeking out a true church.
from the fellowship from the above