Let’s start fellowshiping about the words of God. “I have sought many on earth to be My followers. Among them are those who serve as priests, those who lead, those who form the sons, those who constitute the people, and those who do service.” These words are spoken very clearly. They are saying that God has searched on earth for many men to be His followers; in every stage of God’s work He has searched for men to be His followers. In the Age of Grace during the work of the Lord Jesus, why did He not go into the synagogues? Because the religious leaders of the synagogues persecuted Him. The Pharisees, chief priests and scribes were the ones that held power in the synagogues, and the followers in the synagogues all listened to the chief priests and scribes. It was these religious leaders who did not accept Christ, who defied Christ. So, when the Lord Jesus came, He did not go into the synagogues. Instead, He wandered among the people, among those in the lower strata of society that sought the truth and loved the truth, searching for those who would follow Him. The 12 apostles were followers personally sought out by the Lord. The Lord called out to them saying, “Follow me,” and Peter and the rest of them all followed the Lord Jesus. But for this stage of work, why does Almighty God still not go into the religious churches in search of people? Because the religious leaders of the churches do not accept Christ, they even go so far as to condemn Christ, isn’t this a fact? If those of us who spread the gospel go to the churches to bear witness to the returned Lord Jesus, who is Almighty God incarnate, what then will be the consequence of bearing witness like this? At best the religious people will banish you, at worst they will report you to the police and have you arrested. Furthermore, every sect and denomination follows the great red dragon in condemning Almighty God. The great red dragon frantically suppresses the Church of Almighty God, and how do the various sects and denominations feel about this? “Those that hold power are able to persecute and repress, certainly that is not the true way.” This is the way they think, so they too follow them to condemn and blaspheme Almighty God. There are many religious people that witness pastors and elders condemning Almighty God, and they see that there are many negative things online and that propaganda is disseminated via the web condemning Almighty God, so they don’t look to investigate the true way. If you bear witness to Almighty God among them, they will immediately forsake you, saying, “That is false, our pastors and our elders are telling us, that is heresy! Get away from us! We will not listen to anything you say!” What problem is this? What is this able to prove? This is sufficient enough to prove that people in the churches and other religious people only believe in some vague and unseen God up in heaven. The Lord Jesus has ascended into heaven. Can these people see Him now? They cannot. They say: “We believe that Jehovah God created the heavens and earth and all things, we believe that the Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross for us, as a sin offering, and that Jehovah God and the Lord Jesus are what’s real.” This really is not false, yet God has come again, and He has expressed many truths. How could you not know this? You say that Jehovah God and the Lord Jesus are real, but do you know Them? You do not know Them at all. I have spoken to some Christians, saying: “What kind of God is this Lord Jesus that you all believe in?” And they replied: “The Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross for us, He is a God that loves us.” To which I said: “If the Lord Jesus really comes, will you be able to recognize Him? If you were born in the time that the Lord Jesus preached sermons and carried out His work, would you still be able to believe in Him? You would not necessarily be able to believe, it’s very possible that you might follow the Jews to defy and condemn the Lord Jesus, right? So then what is the reason that you believe in the Lord Jesus? Because the words spoken and the work carried out by the Lord Jesus are recorded very clearly in the Bible. Even though the Lord Jesus has already ascended into heaven, when you prayed in the name of the Lord Jesus, you had the work of the Holy Spirit, your sins were forgiven and you received a lot of grace from God. Therefore, you became certain about the Lord Jesus. However, do you have knowledge of the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, of the essence of the Lord Jesus and that the Lord Jesus is the truth, the way and the life? You do not have this knowledge. So is your believing in the Lord Jesus the same as believing in a vague God? You believe in no more than the two words ‘Lord Jesus,’ you only believe in the name ‘Lord Jesus,’ you simply have no knowledge of the essence of the Lord Jesus, the Spirit of the Lord Jesus and the truth expressed by the Lord Jesus.” Regardless of how many years you have believed in the Lord Jesus or how lovable you think the Lord Jesus is, and even regardless of how much faithfulness you are able to hold in your heart for the Lord Jesus or how much you are able to love Him, is any of this able to show that you have knowledge of the Lord Jesus? Does any of this show that you are completely compatible with the Lord Jesus? This is something that is even more impossible to prove. So how can your faith in the Lord Jesus show that you have knowledge of the Lord Jesus? Say that one day the Lord Jesus comes and appears in another flesh, but as soon as He speaks, you can recognize that this is the voice coming from the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, these words and these truths are the same as the truths that were expressed by the Lord Jesus. The source is one. They are all expressed by the Holy Spirit! If you can recognize this, then your faith is true. How many religious people possess this kind of faith? How many do you all think? Some say not many. Why do you say not many? Since what religious people search for is not the truth, the majority of them have faith because they have witnessed a miracle or in order to obtain good fortunes. Those that seek the truth, that experience the work of the Lord Jesus through His words, there are very few of these kinds of people. Isn’t this so? Many people who believe in the Lord say this: The Lord Jesus is the true God, whenever I pray, God is with me in the spirit; whenever I confess my sins to the Lord, they will be forgiven, and then I will feel peace and joy in my heart. Whenever I pray, the grace of God befalls me, so I believe without a doubt that the Lord Jesus is the true God. This is how much faith I have. So then, in order to obtain blessings, in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, in order to obtain all that the Lord Jesus has promised, I expend myself for the Lord Jesus, do some work for the Lord Jesus, spread the gospel of the Lord Jesus and bear witness to Him. Even if one day I shall suffer or be imprisoned, I still will not deny the name of the Lord Jesus. In this way, I will be able to obtain the praise of the Lord Jesus. When the Lord comes again, I will be able to be raptured and enter into the kingdom of heaven. This is the faith of religious people. Isn’t this the way that religious people practice their faith? They all practice their faith in this way, and I too had this kind of faith for the eight years when I was in the religion. So then, if you practice your faith in this way, will this kind of faith receive the praise of God? Is this an eligible way to practice one’s faith? Is it able to satisfy God?
Some people say: “Every time we gather we study the Bible, our knowledge and understanding of the Bible is not lacking, and especially for those of us who have practiced our faith for three or four decades, we know all the sections and key words of the Bible by heart.” Is this regarded as them having knowledge of the Lord Jesus, the true God? It is not. Why is it not? Can you explain it clearly? Pastors explain the Bible every day, they have to explain the Bible at every gathering of religious worship. Before each time they explain the Bible, they pray for four or five days and fast for one or two days, just in order to deal with the two-hour sermon they will give on that Sunday. Year after year this goes on, every Sunday is like this. Is this regarded as having knowledge of God? When you explain the Bible those are all dead words, without the work of the Holy Spirit it is of no use. Some people refuse to accept this and say: “What you are saying is not true!” So let’s give an example: Did the Jewish chief priests, scribes and Pharisees understand the Bible? The Bible originally refers to the Old Testament, during the time of the work of the Lord Jesus there was only the Old Testament, and the Old Testament was called the Scripture. The Jewish chief priests, scribes and Pharisees, those were the ones who specialized in studying the Old Testament, they had studied it from generation to generation, so when it comes to who truly understood the Bible, that would be these Jewish people. However, there is a fact that has occurred. When Jehovah God became flesh as the Lord Jesus, the Jewish people nailed the Lord Jesus to the cross. What does this fact illustrate? If they truly knew that the Lord Jesus was Jehovah God, they should have said, “God has truly arrived, He has arrived in the flesh, He has arrived to be our Savior, He has arrived to rescue and redeem us!” Would they still have nailed the Lord Jesus to the cross? Who was it that nailed the Lord Jesus to the cross? It was the religious world at that time that nailed Him to the cross; isn’t that right? The religious leaders, the Jewish chief priests, scribes and Pharisees incessantly and fanatically condemned the Lord Jesus. Then, believers in the Jewish faith all followed the religious leaders of Judaism, no one stood by the side of the Lord Jesus. In this way the Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross. It was the leaders of Judaism that plotted the crucifixion, but who were those that spoke in unanimous approval and support, yelling out, “Nail Jesus to the cross, we would rather have a criminal than have Jesus, we would rather free a robber than free Jesus”? It was the ordinary believers of Judaism that yelled this out. If these believers of Judaism truly believed that the Lord Jesus was sent here by God, that He was Christ, the Son of God, then they ought to have betrayed those Jewish chief priests, scribes and Pharisees, they ought to have stood by the side of the Lord Jesus. But the fact is, they went along with the religious leaders of Judaism, they all stood by the side of those chief priests, scribes and Pharisees, in unanimous approval and consent, yelling out in unison to nail the Lord Jesus to the cross. Thus, when I say it was the Jewish faith that nailed the Lord Jesus to the cross, is there any basis in these words? Do they conform to the facts? But then what if some people say: “These things you say are incorrect, it was the leaders of Judaism that decided to nail the Lord Jesus to the cross, but you shouldn’t put the blame for this sin on the religion, you should say it was the leaders of Judaism, it was the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees that nailed the Lord Jesus to the cross, there’s no connection to this with the believers of Judaism.” Are these words tenable? Can you say that there is no connection? They could not escape their responsibility, because they raised their hands, they shouted out those words, because they did not accept the Lord Jesus, and because they did not make a stand and declare, “In this spiritual war, I will not stand on the side of Judaism, nor will I stand on the side of Jesus, I will stand in the middle ground.” Were those kind of people there? They could not be found, isn’t that so? There was one named Nicodemus—a Jewish official, who came to the Lord Jesus in the middle of the night, and he asked Him what rebirth was. What was the intention of him asking this? On one hand it was to feel things out, “I’m seeing if You really are the Lord, if You really are God; if You can answer my questions clearly and make me convinced in heart and by word, then perhaps I may be able to acknowledge You.” In addition, he came to Him in the middle of the night because he was afraid that people would see him, for if he was seen he would have been condemned and captured. It’s like nowadays when some people spread the gospel in the religious community, they also do it secretly. Do they dare to publicly say, “I am a believer in Almighty God, I have come to your church now to listen to the sermon, and perhaps there are those among you who are seeking the true way, so I will bear witness of Almighty God to you”? Some people say they are afraid to say such things. If you want to conduct yourself in a just and honorable way, then why are you afraid to do this? To be a truthful person you must speak truthful words, so why are you afraid to do this? Because it will cause trouble! If you actually speak and act in that way, then religious people will take you away and report you to the police. So many people from the Church of Almighty God that spread the gospel have been captured, why is that? It’s because religious people have reported them to the police.
Now we can see these things clearly. Why does God hate and curse the religion? How did the Lord Jesus say it? “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! … Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! …” (See Matthew 23: 13-33). How many times were these words spoken in the Bible? At least five or six times. These words were continuously repeated. Why would the Lord Jesus need to say these words? Because these Pharisees were the enemy of the Lord Jesus, they continuously condemned the Lord Jesus, they incessantly disparaged and judged the Lord Jesus. As a result, even though the Lord Jesus saw that there were some in the synagogues that truly believed in God, He could not contact them, for as soon as He contacted them He would be captured, and as soon as He was captured He would be nailed to the cross. In His final three years the Lord Jesus knew that He could be captured and nailed to the cross. So, He hid Himself several times, and did not go into the synagogues. Isn’t that how it was? Then the Lord Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” Why did He say this so many times? It’s sufficient to show and to prove that the Lord Jesus hated these Pharisees. He hated these Pharisees, for they were His enemies. He hated them, for everyday they would judge and condemn Him. Isn’t that how it was? Now, for this matter, what purpose did the Lord Jesus have in mind when He condemned the Pharisees? First, to curse those who resisted Him; but second, what was the primary result He wanted to attain? Was it enough to simply curse them and call it quits? What was the ultimate goal? To make religious people discern the Pharisees, abandon them, and no longer follow them, “What you all believe in is the Lord, God, it is not the Pharisees, and it definitely is not the chief priests and scribes. You must distinguish yourselves clearly from them, do not worship them or superstitiously believe in them, do not ask for their opinions on everything. They are not your ancestors, and they certainly are not your Lord, so why do you always listen to them? If you believe in the Lord you ought to follow the Lord, listen to the word of the Lord and seek the truth!” Was this what was meant? So then was the Lord Jesus mistaken in cursing the Pharisees? Some people say: “We cannot judge people!” So was the Lord Jesus wrong in cursing the Pharisees? Could it be that because of this the Lord Jesus is not a loving and merciful Lord? We must distinguish these things.