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Are religious pastors and elders really all established by God? Can an acceptance of and obedience to religious pastors and elders represent one’s obedience to and following of God?

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4. Are religious pastors and elders really all established by God? Can an acceptance of and obedience to religious pastors and elders represent one’s obedience to and following of God?

Bible Verses for Reference:

Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come to me: and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt” (Exo 3:9-10).

Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me more than these? … He said to him, Feed my lambs. He said to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me? … He said to him, Feed my sheep” (Jhn 21:15-16).

And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mat 16:19).

“We ought to obey God rather than men” (Act 5:29).

Relevant Words of God:

The work carried out by the one who is used by God is in order to cooperate with the work of Christ or the Holy Spirit. This man is raised up by God among man, he is there to lead all of God’s chosen ones, and he is also raised up by God in order to do the work of human cooperation. With someone such as this, who is able to do the work of human cooperation, more of God’s requirements toward man and the work that the Holy Spirit must do among man can be achieved through him. Another way of putting it is like this: God’s aim in using this man is so that all those who follow God can better understand God’s will, and can attain more of God’s requirements. Because people are incapable of directly understanding God’s words or God’s will, God has raised someone up who is used to carry out such work. This person who is used by God can also be described as a medium by which God guides people, as the “translator” who communicates between God and people. Thus, such a man is unlike any of those who work in God’s household or who are His apostles. Like them, he can be said to be someone who serves God, yet in the substance of his work and the background of his use by God he differs greatly from the other workers and apostles. In terms of the substance of his work and the background of his use, the man who is used by God is raised up by Him, he is prepared by God for God’s work, and he cooperates in the work of God Himself. No person could ever stand in for his work, it is human cooperation that is integral to the divine work. … He who is used by God, on the other hand, is someone who has been prepared by God, and who possesses a certain caliber, and has humanity. He has been prepared and made perfect in advance by the Holy Spirit, and is completely led by the Holy Spirit, and, particularly when it comes to his work, he is directed and commanded by the Holy Spirit—as a result of which there is no deviation on the path of leading God’s chosen ones, for God surely takes responsibility for His own work, and God does His own work at all times.

from “Concerning God’s Use of Man” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

There are many religious officials who think that serving God is preaching in chapels after studying at the seminary, teaching people by reading chapters of the Bible….

from “How to Serve in Harmony With God’s Will” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Work in the mind of man is too easily achieved by man. Pastors and leaders in the religious world, for example, rely on their gifts and positions to do their work. People who follow them for a long time will be infected by their gifts and be influenced by some of what they are. They focus on people’s gifts, abilities and knowledge, and they pay attention to some supernatural things and many profound unrealistic doctrines (of course, these profound doctrines are unattainable). They do not focus on changes to people’s disposition, but rather they focus on training people’s preaching and working abilities, improving people’s knowledge and rich religious doctrines. They do not focus on how much people’s disposition is changed or how much people understand the truth. They do not concern themselves with the substance of people, much less try to know people’s normal and abnormal states. They do not counter people’s notions or reveal their notions, much less mend their deficiencies or corruptions. Most of the people who follow them serve by their natural gifts, and what they express is knowledge and vague religious truth, which are out of touch with reality and are completely unable to confer people with life. In fact, the substance of their work is nurturing talent, nurturing a person with nothing into a talented seminary graduate who later goes on to work and lead.

from “God’s Work and Man’s Work” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Of principal importance in following God is that everything should be according to the words of God today: Whether you are pursuing entry into life or the fulfillment of God’s will, everything should be centered around the words of God today. If what you commune and pursue are not centered around the words of God today, then you are a stranger to the words of God, and totally bereft of the work of the Holy Spirit. What God wants are people who follow His footsteps. No matter how wonderful and pure what you understood before is, God does not want it, and if you are unable to put aside such things, then they will be a tremendous obstacle to your entry in the future. All those who are able to follow the present light of the Holy Spirit are blessed. The people of ages past also followed the footsteps of God, yet they could not follow until today; this is the blessing of the people of the last days. Those who can follow the present work of the Holy Spirit, and who are able to follow the footsteps of God, such that they follow God wherever He leads them—these are people who are blessed by God. Those who do not follow the present work of the Holy Spirit have not entered into the work of God’s words, and no matter how much they work, or how great their suffering, or how much they run about, none of it means anything to God, and He will not commend them. Today, all those who follow the present words of God are in the stream of the Holy Spirit; those who are strangers to the words of God today are outside of the stream of the Holy Spirit, and such people are not commended by God. Service that is divorced from the present utterances of the Holy Spirit is service that is of the flesh, and of conceptions, and it is incapable of being in accordance with God’s will. If people live among religious conceptions, then they are unable to do anything that is fit for God’s will, and even though they serve God, they serve in the midst of their imagination and conceptions, and are totally incapable of serving in accordance with the will of God. Those who are unable to follow the work of the Holy Spirit do not understand the will of God, and those who do not understand the will of God cannot serve God. God wants service that is after His own heart; He does not want service that is of conceptions and the flesh. If people are incapable of following the steps of the Holy Spirit’s work, then they live amid conceptions, and the service of such people interrupts and disturbs. Such service runs contrary to God, and thus those who are unable to follow the footsteps of God are incapable of serving God; those who are unable to follow the footsteps of God most certainly oppose God, and are incapable of being compatible with God. “Following the work of the Holy Spirit” means understanding the will of God today, being able to act in accordance with the present requirements of God, being able to obey and follow the God of today, and entering in accordance with the newest utterances of God. Only this is someone who follows the work of the Holy Spirit and is in the stream of the Holy Spirit. Such people are not only capable of receiving God’s praise and seeing God, but can also know God’s disposition from the latest work of God, and can know man’s conceptions and disobedience, and man’s nature and substance, from His latest work; furthermore, they are able to gradually achieve changes in their disposition during their service. Only people such as this are those who are able to gain God, and who have genuinely found the true way.

from “Know the Newest Work of God and Follow the Footsteps of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

8. 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

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 denominations 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 denominations. 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, toward their reputation, toward their standing in the hearts of all the Satans, and toward their influence and authority. And yet you continue to hold an attitude of resisting and refusing 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 our leader about our belief in God.” They require someone’s consent to believe in God; is that not a problem? What have those leaders become, then? Have they not become Pharisees, false shepherds, antichrists, and stumbling blocks to people’s acceptance of the true way? …

No matter whether you followed someone else or you didn’t satisfy the will of God when you previously believed in God, you must come before God during this stage of work of the last days. If you continue to follow someone on the basis of experiencing this stage of work, then you will be considered unforgivable, and will end up just like Paul.

from “Only the Pursuit of the Truth Is the True Belief in God” in Records of Christ’s Talks

There are some people who are often deceived by those who outwardly seem spiritual, seem noble, seem to have lofty images. As for those people who can speak of letters and doctrines, and whose speech and actions appear worthy of admiration, their admirers have never looked at the essence of their actions, the principles behind their deeds, what their goals are. And they have never looked at whether these people truly obey God, and whether or not they are someone who truly fears God and shuns evil. They have never discerned the substance of the humanity of these people. Rather, from the first step of getting acquainted, bit by bit, they come to admire these people, venerate these people, and in the end these people become their idols. Moreover, in some people’s minds, the idols who they worship, who they believe can abandon their families and jobs, and pay the price on the surface—these idols are the ones who are really satisfying God, the ones who can really receive a good outcome and a good destination. In their minds, these idols are the people who God praises.

from “How to Know God’s Disposition and the Result of His Work” in Continuation of The Word Appears in the Flesh

It would be best for those people who say they follow God to open their eyes and take a good look to see exactly who they believe in: Is it really God that you believe in, or Satan? If you know that what you believe in is not God but your own idols, then you had best not say you are a believer. If you really do not know who you believe in then, again, you had best not say you are a believer. To say that would be blasphemy! No one is forcing you to believe in God. Do not say you believe in Me, as I heard enough of those words long ago and I do not wish to hear them again, because what you believe in are the idols in your hearts and the local villainous snakes among you. Those who shake their heads when they hear the truth, who smile widely when they hear talk of death are the offspring of Satan, and they are all objects to be eliminated.

from “A Warning to Those Who Do Not Practice the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh