17. What is a false Christ? How can a false Christ be discerned?
Relevant Words of God:
He who is God’s incarnation shall hold the substance of God, and He who is God’s incarnation shall hold the expression of God. Since God becomes flesh, He shall bring forth the work He must do, and since God becomes flesh, He shall express what He is, and shall be able to bring the truth to man, bestow life upon man, and show man the way. Flesh that does not contain the substance of God is surely not the incarnate God; of this there is no doubt. To investigate whether it is God’s incarnate flesh, man must determine this from the disposition He expresses and the words He speaks. Which is to say, whether or not it is God’s incarnate flesh, and whether or not it is the true way, must be judged from His substance. And so, in determining[a] whether it is the flesh of God incarnate, the key is to pay attention to His substance (His work, His words, His disposition, and many more), rather than external appearance.
from Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh
God become flesh is called Christ, and so the Christ that can give people the truth is called God. There is nothing excessive about this, for He possesses the substance of God, and possesses God’s disposition, and wisdom in His work, that are unattainable by man. Those who call themselves Christ, yet cannot do the work of God, are frauds. Christ is not merely the manifestation of God on earth, but also the particular flesh assumed by God as He carries out and completes His work among man. This flesh is not one that can be replaced by just any man, but one that can adequately bear God’s work on earth, and express the disposition of God, and well represent God, and provide man with life. Sooner or later, those who impersonate Christ will all fall, for although they claim to be Christ, they possess none of the substance of Christ. And so I say that the authenticity of Christ cannot be defined by man, but is answered and decided by God Himself.
from “Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Though Christ on earth is able to work on behalf of God Himself, He does not come with the intention of showing all men His image in the flesh. He does not come for all men to see Him; He comes to allow man to be led by His hand, thereby entering into the new age. The function of Christ’s flesh is for the work of God Himself, that is, for the work of God in the flesh, and not to enable man to fully understand the substance of His flesh. No matter how He works, it does not exceed that which is attainable to the flesh. No matter how He works, He does so in the flesh with a normal humanity, and does not fully reveal to man the true countenance of God. Additionally, His work in the flesh is never as supernatural or inestimable as man conceives. Even though Christ represents God Himself in the flesh and carries out in person the work that God Himself ought to do, He does not deny the existence of God in heaven, nor does He feverishly proclaim His own deeds. Rather, He humbly remains hidden within His flesh. Apart from Christ, those who falsely claim to be Christ do not have His qualities. When juxtaposed against the arrogant and self-exalting disposition of those false Christs, it becomes apparent what manner of flesh is truly Christ. The more false they are, the more such false Christs show off themselves, and the more capable they are of working signs and wonders to deceive man. False Christs do not have the qualities of God; Christ is not tainted by any element belonging to false Christs.
from “The Substance of Christ Is Obedience to the Will of the Heavenly Father” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
There are some who are possessed by evil spirits and cry out vociferously, “I am God!” Yet, in the end, they are revealed, for they are wrong in what they represent. They represent Satan, and the Holy Spirit pays them no heed. However highly you exalt yourself or however strongly you cry out, you are still a created being and one that belongs to Satan. I never cry out, “I am God, I am the beloved Son of God!” But the work I do is God’s work. Need I shout? There is no need for exaltation. God does His own work Himself and does not need man to accord Him a status or give Him an honorific title: His work is sufficient to represent His identity and status. Prior to His baptism, was not Jesus God Himself? Was He not the incarnate flesh of God? Surely it cannot be said that it was only after receiving witness that He became the only Son of God? Long before He began His work, was there not already a man by the name of Jesus? You are unable to bring forth new paths or to represent the Spirit. You cannot express the work of the Spirit or the words that He speaks. You are unable to do the work of God Himself, and that of the Spirit you are unable to do. The wisdom, wonder, and unfathomability of God, and the entirety of the disposition by which God chastises man: all of these are beyond your capacity to express. So it would be useless to try to claim to be God; you would have only the name and none of the substance. God Himself has come, but no one recognizes Him, yet He continues on in His work and does so in representation of the Spirit. Whether you call Him man or God, the Lord or Christ, or call Her sister, it does not matter. But the work He does is that of the Spirit and represents the work of God Himself. He does not care about the name by which man calls Him. Can that name determine His work? Regardless of what you call Him, as far as God is concerned, He is the incarnate flesh of the Spirit of God; He represents the Spirit and is approved by the Spirit. If you are unable to make way for a new age, or to bring the old to an end, or to usher in a new age, or to do new work, then you cannot be called God!
from “The Mystery of the Incarnation (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
If, during the present day, there is to emerge a person who is able to display signs and wonders, cast out demons, heal the sick, and perform many miracles, and if this person claims that they are Jesus who has come, then this would be the counterfeit of evil spirits, and their imitation of Jesus. Remember this! God does not repeat the same work. Jesus’ stage of work has already been completed, and God will never again undertake that stage of work. The work of God is irreconcilable with the conceptions of man; for example, the Old Testament foretold the coming of a Messiah, but it turned out that Jesus came, so it would be wrong for another Messiah to come again. Jesus has already come once, and it would be wrong if Jesus were to come again this time. There is one name for every age, and each name is characterized by the age. In the conceptions of man, God must always display signs and wonders, must always heal the sick and cast out demons, and must always be just like Jesus, yet this time God is not like that at all. If, during the last days, God still displayed signs and wonders, and still cast out demons and healed the sick—if He did exactly the same as Jesus—then God would be repeating the same work, and the work of Jesus would have no significance or value. Thus, God carries out one stage of work in every age. Once each stage of His work has been completed, it is soon imitated by evil spirits, and after Satan begins to follow on the heels of God, God changes to a different method. Once God has completed a stage of His work, it is imitated by evil spirits. You must be clear about this.
from “Knowing God’s Work Today” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Sermon and Fellowship Excerpts for Reference:
Anyone who impersonates Christ to speak to deceive people is a false Christ. All false Christs are possessed by evil spirits, and they are deceivers. How can you discern a false Christ who is constantly speaking in order to deceive people? If you merely look at some of the words of a false Christ, you’ll scratch your head and you won’t be able to see through what the evil spirit’s intentions really are. If you continue to track this evil spirit and take everything that it has said into consideration, it is very easy to see what sort of thing it really is, what it is doing, what it is actually saying, what it is plotting to do to people and what path it is offering people—then, discernment becomes easy. We can see that essentially the same characteristics are present in many evil spirits’ words. They can only imitate God’s words, but certainly cannot capture the essence of God’s words. God’s words have a context and a purpose. The ultimate purpose and effects of God’s utterances are very clear and you can see that His words possess authority and power, that they can touch one’s heart and move one’s soul. But the words of evil spirits and of Satan have neither context nor effect—they are like a pool of stagnant water, and people feel murky in their hearts after reading them. They gain nothing from them. So, evil spirits of all kinds entirely lack the truth and are certainly murky and dark inside. Their words cannot bring people light and cannot show them the path they should follow. Evil spirits do not clearly state their aim nor what they are trying to accomplish; there is no mention of anything regarding the essence of the truth or the root. Not in the least. Nothing that people should understand or gain can be found in the words of evil spirits. Therefore, the words of evil spirits can only confuse people and bring them internal murkiness and darkness. They cannot provide people with any sustenance at all. From this we can see that the inherent nature and essence of evil spirits is that of evil and darkness. They lack vitality, instead reeking of death. They truly are negative things that should be cursed. There is no truth at all in their speech; it is complete nonsense that leads to nausea, disgust, and vomiting as if one had just eaten a dead fly.
from “How to Discern the Demonic Speech and Fallacies of Evil Spirits, False Christs and Antichrists” in Selected Annals of the Work Arrangements of The Church of Almighty God
If someone confuses God’s chosen people and says that he is Christ, the flesh of God incarnate, then we need to look at his substance and expression, his work and words, and his revealed disposition, so as to ascertain whether he is Christ. To see his substance from these major aspects, we can make sure whether he is God incarnate. First, from the aspect of work, we should see that if His work is God’s work, He will be able to express God’s word, what God has and is, and God’s righteous disposition. If it is the work of man, he can only speak of all that man has and is, man’s experience and understanding. He is unable to speak of all that God has and is, God’s work, requirements and disposition, let alone God’s management plan and God’s mystery. Second, from the aspect of word, there is a substantial difference between God’s word and human word. The word of God represents all that God has and is, and the word of man represents all that man has and is. The word of God represents God’s disposition. The word of man represents man’s humanity. The word of God is the truth. The word of man is not the truth. It does not belong to the truth. Third, from the aspect of disposition, God’s work can express God’s disposition. Man’s work cannot express God’s disposition; it can only express man’s personality. What does man’s personality have? Does it have any righteousness, majesty, fury or the truth? Man’s personality has none of what God has and is. So the work of man does not involve a hint of God’s disposition. It is very easy to judge from these aspects whether it is God’s word or man’s word, God’s work or man’s work. If man cannot tell the difference from these aspects, it is easy for him to be confused by false Christs and antichrists. If you can tell the difference from these three aspects, you will be able to determine who is God incarnate and who is not. The work, the words and the disposition—it is most accurate to tell the difference from these three aspects, and not to judge by outward appearances.
from “How to Discern the Deception of a False Christ and an Antichrist” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life II
a. The original text reads “as for.”