X. How to Discern False Shepherds, Antichrists, and False Christs
1. The work of a qualified worker can bring people to the right way and allow them to go deeper into the truth. The work he does can bring people before God. In addition, the work he does can vary from individual to individual and is not bound by rules, allowing people release and freedom. Moreover, they can gradually grow in life, go progressively deeper into the truth. The work of an unqualified worker falls far short; his work is foolish. He can only bring people into rules; what he demands of people does not vary from individual to individual; he does not work according to the actual needs of the people. In this type of work, there are too many rules and too many doctrines, and it cannot bring people into reality or into normal practice of growth in life. It can only enable people to stand by a few worthless rules. This kind of guidance can only lead people astray. He leads you to become what he is like; he can bring you into what he has and is. For followers to discern whether leaders are qualified, the key is to look at the path they lead and the results of their work, and look at whether followers receive the principles in accordance with the truth, and whether they receive ways of practice suitable for them to be transformed. You should differentiate between the different work of different types of people; you should not be a foolish follower. This impinges on the matter of your entry. If you are unable to distinguish which person’s leadership has a path and which does not, you will easily be deceived. All these have a direct bearing on your own life.
from “God’s Work and Man’s Work” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
2. 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. The service of such people interrupts and disturbs, and such service runs contrary to God. 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.
from “Know the Newest Work of God and Follow the Footsteps of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
3. 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
4. Many people behind Me covet the blessing of status, they gorge themselves on food, they love to sleep and give every care to the flesh, always afraid that there is no way out of the flesh. They do not perform their normal function in the church, and eat for free, or else admonish their brothers and sisters with My words, they stand up high and lord it over others. These people keep saying they are doing God’s will, they always say they are God’s intimates—is this not absurd? If you have the right motivations, but are unable to serve in accordance with God’s will, then you’re being foolish; but if your motivations aren’t right, and you still say you serve God, then you are someone who opposes God, and you ought to be punished by God! I have no sympathy for such people! In the house of God they eat for free, and always covet the comforts of the flesh, and give no consideration to the interests of God; they always seek what’s good for them, they pay no heed to God’s will, all that they do is not looked upon by God’s Spirit, they’re always maneuvering and plotting against their brothers and sisters, and being two-faced, like a fox in a vineyard, always stealing grapes and trampling over the vineyard. Could such people be God’s intimates? Are you fit to receive God’s blessings? You take no responsibility for your life and the church, are you fit to receive God’s commission? Who would dare trust someone like you? When you serve like this, could God dare to entrust you with a greater task? Are you not delaying things?
from “How to Serve in Harmony With God’s Will” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
5. You serve God with your natural character, and according to your personal preferences; what’s more, you keep thinking that God delights in whatever you wish to do, and hates whatever you do not wish to do, and you are guided entirely by your own preferences in your work. Can this be called serving God? Ultimately, your life disposition will not be changed by one iota; rather, you will become even more stubborn because you have been serving God, and this will make your corrupt disposition deeply ingrained. This way, you will inwardly develop rules about service to God that are primarily based on your own character, and the experience derived from your serving according to your own disposition. This is lesson from human experience. It is man’s philosophy of life. People like this belong to the Pharisees and the religious officials. If they never wake up and repent, then they will ultimately turn into the false Christs who will appear in the last days, and will be deceivers of men. The false Christs and deceivers that were spoken of will arise from among this kind of person. If those who serve God follow their own character and act according to their own will, then they are in danger of being cast out at any time. Those who apply their many years of experience to serving God in order to win the hearts of others, to condescendingly lecture them and restrain them—and who never repent, never confess their sins, never renounce the benefits of position—these people will fall down before God. They are people of the same type as Paul, presuming upon their seniority and flaunting their qualifications. God will not bring people like this to perfection. This kind of service interferes with the work of God.
from “Religious Service Must Be Purged” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
6. You are able to speak as much knowledge as there is sand on a beach, yet none of it contains any real path. In this, are you not fooling people? Are you not making an empty show with no substance to back it up? All such behavior is harmful to people! The higher the theory and the more it is devoid of reality, the more it is incapable of taking people into reality; the higher the theory, the more it makes you defy and oppose God. Do not treat the loftiest theories like precious treasure; they are pernicious, and serve no purpose! Perhaps some people are able to talk of the loftiest theories—but these contain nothing of reality, for these people have not personally experienced them, and therefore have no path to practice. Such people are incapable of taking humanity onto the right track, and will only lead people astray. Is this not harmful to people? At the very least, you must be able to solve their present troubles and allow them to achieve entry; only this counts as dedication, and only then will you be qualified to work for God. Do not always speak grandiose, fanciful words, and do not use a bunch of unsuitable practices to bind others into obeying you. Doing so will have no effect, and can only increase their confusion. Leading people this way will result in many pieces of regulation, which will cause people to loathe you. This is humanity’s shortcoming, and it truly is mortifying.
from “Focus More on Reality” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
7. Just look at the leaders of every denomination—they are all arrogant and self-righteous, 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 knowledge, and can preach on some doctrine, or know how to win over others and how to use some artifices. They use these to bring people before themselves and deceive them. Nominally, those people believe in God, but in reality they follow their leaders. If they encounter someone preaching the true way, some of them say, “We have to consult our leader about our faith.” Their faith has to go through a human being; 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? Such people are of the same ilk as Paul.
from “Only the Pursuit of the Truth Is the True Belief in God” in Records of Christ’s Talks
8. The manifestation of arrogance is rebelling against and opposing God. When people are arrogant, self-important, and self-righteous, they tend to set up their own independent kingdoms and do things however they want. They also draw others over into their own hands and draw them into their embrace. When people are capable of doing these kinds of things, the essence of their arrogance is that of the archangel. When their arrogance and self-importance reaches a certain level, then that determines that they are the archangel and will put God aside. If you have this kind of arrogant disposition, then God will have no place in your heart.
We’ve preached the gospel over and over to many leaders within religious circles, but no matter how we fellowship on the truth with them, they won’t accept it. Why is this? It’s because their arrogance has become second nature and God is no longer in their hearts! Some people may say: “People under the leadership of some pastors in the religious world really have a lot of drive. It seems that they have God in their midst!” No matter how lofty those pastors’ sermons may be, do they know God? If they really revered God in their hearts, would they make people follow them and exalt them? Would they monopolize others? Would they dare to impose restrictions on others seeking the truth and investigating the true way? If they believe that God’s sheep are actually theirs and that His sheep should all listen to them, aren’t they themselves acting as God? That kind of person is even worse than the Pharisees—aren’t they antichrists? Therefore, their arrogant nature can control them to do things that betray God.
from “Man’s Arrogant Nature Is the Root of His Opposition to God” in Records of Christ’s Talks
9. When God becomes flesh and comes to work among men, all behold God and hear His words, and all see the doings of God in the flesh. At that time, all the conceptions of man dissolve into nothing but foam. As for those who see the God appearing in the flesh, all who have obedience in their hearts shall not be condemned, whereas those who purposefully stand against Him shall be deemed an opponent of God. Such men are antichrists and are enemies who willfully stand against God. … Those who willfully stand against the incarnate God shall be punished for their disobedience. Their willful opposition to God stems from their conceptions of Him, which result in their disturbance to the work of God. Such men knowingly resist and destroy the work of God. Not merely do they have conceptions of God, but they do that which disturbs His work, and it is for this reason that such manner of men shall be condemned.
from “All Who Do Not Know God Are Those Who Oppose God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
10. The most rebellious person is one who intentionally defies and resists God. He is the enemy of God and the antichrist. Such a person constantly bears a hostile attitude toward the new work of God, has never shown the smallest intention of submitting, and has never gladly shown submission or humbled himself. He exalts himself before others and never shows submission to anyone. Before God, he considers himself the most proficient in preaching the word and the most skillful in working on others. He never discards the “treasures” already in his possession, but treats them as family heirlooms for worship, for preaching about to others, and uses them to lecture those fools who idolize him. There are indeed a certain number of people like this in the church. It can be said that they are “indomitable heroes,” generation after generation sojourning in the house of God. They take preaching the word (doctrine) to be their highest duty. Year after year and generation by generation, they go about vigorously enforcing their “sacred and inviolable” duty. None dare touch them and not a single person dares openly reproach them. They become “kings” in the house of God, running rampant as they tyrannize over others from age to age. This pack of demons seeks to join hands and demolish My work; how can I allow these living devils to exist before My eyes?
from “Those Who Obey God With a True Heart Shall Surely Be Gained by God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
11. Your opposition to God and obstruction of the work of the Holy Spirit is caused by your conceptions and inherent arrogance. It is not because God’s work is wrong, but because you are naturally too disobedient. After finding their belief in God, some people can’t even say with certainty where man came from, yet they dare to make public speeches appraising the rights and wrongs of the Holy Spirit’s work. And they even lecture the apostles who have the Holy Spirit’s new work, passing comment and speaking out of turn; their humanity is too low, and there is not the slightest sense in them. Will the day not come when such people are rejected by the work of the Holy Spirit, and burned by the fires of hell? They do not know the work of God, but instead criticize His work, and also try to instruct God how to work. How can such unreasonable people know God? Man comes to know God during the process of seeking and experiencing Him; it is not through criticizing Him at whim that he comes to know God through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. The more accurate people’s knowledge of God, the less they oppose Him. In contrast, the less people know of God, the more likely they are to oppose Him. Your conceptions, your old nature, and your humanity, character and moral outlook are the “capital” with which you resist God, and the more corrupt, degraded and low you are, the more you are the enemy of God. Those who are possessed of grievous conceptions and have a self-righteous disposition are even more in enmity of God incarnate, and such people are the antichrists.
from “Knowing the Three Stages of God’s Work Is the Path to Knowing God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
12. Those who read the Bible in grand churches recite the Bible every day, yet not one understands the purpose of God’s work. Not one is able to know God; moreover, not one is in accord with the heart of God. They are all worthless, vile men, each standing on high to teach God. Though they brandish the name of God, they willfully oppose Him. Though they label themselves believers of God, they are ones who eat the flesh and drink the blood of man. All such men are devils who devour the soul of man, head demons who purposefully disturb those who try to step onto the right path, and stumbling blocks that impede the path of those who seek God. Though they are of “robust flesh,” how are their followers to know that they are antichrists who lead man in opposition to God? How are they to know that they are living devils who specially seek souls to devour?
from “All Who Do Not Know God Are Those Who Oppose God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
13. 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. If man sees only His external appearance, and overlooks His substance, then that shows the ignorance and naivety of man.
from Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh
14. 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
15. The incarnate God is called Christ, and Christ is the flesh donned by the Spirit of God. This flesh is unlike any man that is of the flesh. This difference is because Christ is not of flesh and blood but is the incarnation of the Spirit. He has both a normal humanity and a complete divinity. His divinity is not possessed by any man. His normal humanity sustains all His normal activities in the flesh, while His divinity carries out the work of God Himself. Be it His humanity or divinity, both submit to the will of the heavenly Father. The substance of Christ is the Spirit, that is, the divinity. Therefore, His substance is that of God Himself; this substance will not interrupt His own work, and He could not possibly do anything that destroys His own work, nor would He ever utter any words that go against His own will.
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. God becomes flesh only to complete the work of the flesh, not simply to allow all men to see Him. Rather, He lets His work affirm His identity, and allows what He reveals to attest to His substance. His substance is not baseless; His identity was not seized by His hand; it is determined by His work and His substance. …
The work and expression of Christ determines His substance. He is able to complete with a true heart that which has been entrusted to Him. He is able to worship God in heaven with a true heart, and with a true heart seek the will of God the Father. This is all determined by His substance. And so too is His natural revelation determined by His substance; the reason His natural revelation is so called is because His expression is not an imitation, or the result of education by man, or the result of many years of cultivation by man. He did not learn it or adorn Himself with it; rather, it is inherent within Him.
from “The Substance of Christ Is Obedience to the Will of the Heavenly Father” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
16. 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
17. 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
18. If a man calls himself God yet is unable to express the being of divinity, do the work of God Himself, or represent God, he is undoubtedly not God, for he has not the essence of God, and that which God can inherently achieve does not exist within him.
from “The Difference Between the Ministry of the Incarnate God and the Duty of Man” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
a. The original text reads “as for.”