By Kemu, Myanmar
Editor’s Note: Two thousand years ago the Jewish commoners didn’t beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and were deceived by their heretical fallacies, and thus followed them in resisting the Lord Jesus, losing God’s salvation and receiving God’s punishment. Today, at the crucial moment of the Lord Jesus’ return, how should we learn from the failures of those in the past and beware of the leaven of the modern Pharisees? Sister Kemu has first-hand knowledge of this. How did she beware of the leaven of today’s Pharisees and welcome the return of the Lord Jesus? Let’s read her story together.
I once had a serious illness that was beyond cure, so I went to a church for help. When the pastor preached that the Lord Jesus was crucified to redeem us mankind, I was touched by the great love of the Lord. After the pastor prayed for me several times, my illness was miraculously gone. From then on, I was sure that the Lord Jesus is the only true God, who bestows life on us. So, in order to repay the Lord’s love, I often drove Pastor E, who was famous in our local area, everywhere to spread and bear witness. In addition, I gave him my monthly tithe. Seeing that Pastor E had forsaken his family and career to work and expend for the Lord, I frequently paid his travel expenses. Every time he came to visit our church, he stayed at my home, and in the evenings, he read the scriptures and preached to my whole family. We were as close as family. At the time, I thought Pastor E was a good servant loyal to the Lord; many believers worshiped and looked up to him; as long as I cooperated well with Pastor E’s work and did my utmost to expend myself for the Lord, I would be praised by the Lord; and it was certainly not wrong to follow him along the path of believing in the Lord.
In February 2018, I had the fortune to hear Almighty God’s gospel in the last days. Through reading Almighty God’s words, I understood the mystery of God’s six-thousand-year management plan and knew that God’s salvation work for mankind is divided into three stages: the Age of Law, the Age of Grace, and the Age of Kingdom. In the Age of Law, Jehovah God issued laws and commandments through Moses so that people would know what sin is, how to prevent themselves from violating the laws, how to get on with people, how to worship God, and so on. In the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus brought the way of repentance and did the work of redeeming humanity. People would be forgiven of their sins on the condition that they repented to the Lord for their sins. And in the Age of Kingdom, Almighty God does the judgment work by expressing words to root out our sinful nature. When we experience the judgment and chastisement of the words of Almighty God, our corrupt disposition can be purified little by little, and eventually we can gain God’s salvation and perfection and be qualified to receive God’s blessings and promises. These three stages of work complement each other and each stage goes higher and deeper than the last and is carried out on the foundation of the last. If we only accept the redemption of the Lord Jesus but don’t accept the judgment work of Almighty God in the last days, we will be unable to get rid of our sinful nature, and we will continue to commit sins and resist God despite ourselves. In that case, no matter how much we have sacrificed for the Lord, or how much we have suffered, we won’t be eligible to enter the kingdom of heaven. Only by receiving Almighty God’s work in the last days and experiencing His judgment and chastisement so as to break free of our corrupt disposition and be thoroughly transformed and cleansed, can we enter the kingdom of heaven. I was grateful to God for selecting me and giving me the opportunity to be saved, and later I spread the gospel to my family.
Afterward, I wanted to tell the great news that the Lord has returned to those brothers and sisters in my original church who sincerely believed in the Lord. I thought of Pastor E. I said to myself: “If Pastor E accepts God’s work in the last days and brings the brothers and sisters back to Almighty God, everyone will receive blessings and benefit from it. But, Pastor E told us many times in the past that we mustn’t investigate Eastern Lightning or contact brothers and sisters from The Church of Almighty God. Will he accept it when I preach the gospel to him?” At this thought, I was somewhat worried. But then I thought: “Pastor E has believed in the Lord for many years. Isn’t his work and expenditure in order to welcome the return of the Lord? If I preach to him clearly, he should be able to accept.” So, I began to pray for this.
In March, Pastor E came and stayed in my home. I didn’t tell him about my accepting God’s work of the last days, for fear that he would not accept God’s gospel of the last days but obstruct me. Instead, I attended online gatherings with the brothers and sisters from The Church of Almighty God every day. On the fifth night, he asked me why I didn’t seek for fellowship with him about contents of the Bible as before. I thought: “He’ll leave tomorrow and I won’t be seeing him for a while. If I don’t take this chance to tell him about God’s work in the last days, that will delay the brothers and sisters from seeking and investigating it.” Therefore, I said to him: “Pastor E, Luke 17:24–25 says that ‘For as the lightning, that lightens out of the one part under heaven, shines to the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.’ And Matthew 24:27 says, ‘For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even to the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.’ It can be seen that when the Lord comes again, He’ll appear in the form of the Son of man and be rejected by this generation. When ‘the Son of man’ is mentioned, it refers to God incarnate. And ‘first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation’ means that God will appear to us by becoming flesh when He returns in the last days. And Matthew 24:27 mentions ‘the east.’ It is likely referring to China. That’s enough to show that when the Lord returns in the last days, He will be incarnated and will secretly appear in China.”
I thought that Pastor E would give this some consideration or seek the truth in it, and so I was surprised when he denied what I had said at once by saying in a loud voice: “That’s impossible! The Lord will return on a cloud and will be seen by all. How can He become flesh? Have you believed in Eastern Lightning?”
I said: “Pastor E, many parts of the Bible prophesy that the Lord will come secretly. It doesn’t just prophesy that the Lord will come openly on a cloud. For example: ‘And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him’ (Matthew 25:6). ‘Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame’ (Revelation 16:15). In these verses, ‘At midnight’ and ‘I come as a thief’ indicate that the Lord will return secretly. Clearly, the return of the Lord consists of two steps: First He will come down secretly; then after He completes a stage of work He will appear openly. In the last days Almighty God—the returned Lord Jesus—works in China; this fulfills the prophecy that the Lord will come secretly. Almighty God carries out the work of judgment beginning in the house of God by expressing words. He has made a group of overcomers in China, separated the goats from the sheep, the tares from the wheat, and put each with its own kind. Now the judgment work of Almighty God in the last days is drawing to a close. God will send down great disasters the instant He completes the work of purifying and perfecting people, and then He will publicly descend with clouds and appear to all nations and all peoples. At that time, those who have opposed and condemned Almighty God’s work of the last days will see that Almighty God is precisely the returned Lord Jesus and that it is God Himself whom they have resisted and condemned, and will beat their chests, wail, and gnash their teeth. That’s how the scene appears on earth where all the tribes mourn. That also fulfills the words: ‘Behold, he comes with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen’ (Revelation 1:7).”
Unexpectedly, hearing this, Pastor E roared: “Speak no more! What you said is reasonable, but I absolutely can’t accept any Lord Jesus who doesn’t arrive upon a white cloud. Even if I have to die, I won’t believe.”
Seeing his attitude, I was stunned instantly: “Is this the pastor who prayed in tears asking the Lord to come soon? Why is it that he doesn’t have the slightest desire to seek, but is so resistant when hearing the news that the Lord has returned?” Then, I said sincerely: “Pastor E, in dealing with the return of the Lord, we should earnestly seek what the Lord’s words say. Don’t just pay attention to a certain verse and neglect other verses. Or else, we are apt to miss the return of the Lord and be unable to enter the kingdom of heaven. Besides, when we use our notions and imagination to confine God’s work, aren’t we being too arrogant? We humans can’t fathom God’s wisdom, how can we possibly know what the Lord will do?”
Before I could finish my words, Pastor E suddenly stood up with his face red, and walked around in the room, waving his hands around in the air and saying loudly: “Humph, I’ve preached to and baptized thousands of people. I’m sure that I’ve gained at least five crowns in the kingdom of heaven. How could I not enter the kingdom of heaven?” He did not pay any attention to what I said, and just objected to it and condemned it continuously. He even said: “You say Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus who has become flesh and secretly descended in China? I won’t believe it unless I see Him with my own eyes.”
My husband, who didn’t have much discernment, was sitting nearby and chimed in: “Right.” Faced with this situation, I was very confused and did not know how to refute Pastor E. And seeing that my husband was influenced by Pastor E, I stopped the topic immediately, in case he would be deceived more deeply by the fallacies of Pastor E.
Afterward, Pastor E went to his bedroom in anger. Immediately, I went into my bedroom, knelt down, and prayed to God: “O Almighty God! Now my heart is in turmoil. How should I experience this situation? I don’t understand Your will. Please enlighten and illuminate me.” After praying, I opened a recitation video of God’s words and saw these words of God in it: “The Lord Jesus also wanted to use the case of Thomas as a warning for future people: Although you believe in the Lord Jesus, you can neither see nor touch Him, yet you can be blessed by your true faith, and you can see the Lord Jesus through your true faith; this kind of person is blessed. … If you follow God, but just like Thomas, you always want to touch the Lord’s rib and feel His nail marks to confirm, to verify, to speculate on whether or not God exists, God will forsake you. So, the Lord Jesus requires people to not be like Thomas, only believing what they can see with their own eyes, but to be a pure, honest person, to not harbor doubts toward God, but only believe in and follow Him. This type of person is blessed. This is a very small requirement the Lord Jesus has for people, and a warning for His followers” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). That’s right, the Lord Jesus asked us to be pure, honest people. No matter how the appearance, words and work of God are incompatible with our notions and imagination, and whether we can understand or not, we should positively believe. As long as the word and the way come from God and there is the work of the Holy Spirit in them, we should seek and accept, not test or suspect God, and moreover, not look at things based on what we can see with our eyes. Only by doing so can we gain God’s approval and blessing. What about Pastor E’s behavior, though? Because God’s appearance and work don’t conform to his notions, he didn’t seek with a humble heart but said that he must see God with his own eyes before he would believe in Him. Was he not like Thomas? Thomas was not convinced of the identity of the Lord Jesus as Christ; when the resurrected Lord Jesus revealed Himself to His other apostles he still did not believe the fact; and only after seeing the Lord and touching His nail marks with his own hands did he believe it. His kind of faith did not obtain God’s approval. Come to think of it, when we believe in the Lord, though none of us see the Lord Jesus, through His words and work recorded in the Bible, and through enjoying the work of the Holy Spirit, we can determine that the Lord Jesus is the only true God, and thus we follow Him. Similarly, in the last days God returns to flesh as Almighty God. He has expressed all truths for the salvation of mankind. Hearing His utterances, those who sincerely thirst for the truth will recognize they are God’s voice and accept the truth and follow Him. Such people are the wise virgins. So, whether one can accept God’s work is related to whether he likes the truth and whether he can identify God’s voice. If, as Pastor E said, one must see the incarnate God before he can believe in Him, then why is it that the earliest Pharisees, though seeing the Lord Jesus, frantically resisted, judged, blasphemed, and crucified the Lord Jesus instead of accepting Him? After realizing these things, a brightness lit up my heart. Pastor E didn’t want to investigate God’s work of the last days at all. Rather, he was testing God.
In the past, Pastor E and my family were as close as family. However, now we became estranged and were almost like enemies. Thinking of that, I felt very upset. I could not figure out why Pastor E was so resistant to God’s work in the last days, and why he condemned God’s work without any reverence for God. During my seeking, I thought of God’s words that the brothers and sisters of The Church of Almighty God had read to me: “Do you wish to know the root of why the Pharisees opposed Jesus? Do you wish to know the substance of the Pharisees? They were full of fantasies about the Messiah. What’s more, they believed only that the Messiah would come, yet did not seek the truth of life. And so, even today they still await the Messiah, for they have no knowledge of the way of life, and do not know what the way of truth is. How, say you, could such foolish, stubborn and ignorant people gain God’s blessing? How could they behold the Messiah? They opposed Jesus because they did not know the direction of the Holy Spirit’s work, because they did not know the way of truth spoken by Jesus, and, furthermore, because they did not understand the Messiah. And since they had never seen the Messiah, and had never been in the company of the Messiah, they made the mistake of paying empty tribute to the name of the Messiah while opposing the substance of the Messiah by any means. These Pharisees in substance were stubborn, arrogant, and did not obey the truth. The principle of their belief in God is: No matter how profound Your preaching, no matter how high Your authority, You are not Christ unless You are called the Messiah. Are these views not preposterous and ridiculous?” (“When You Behold the Spiritual Body of Jesus Will Be When God Has Made Anew Heaven and Earth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words pinpointed that the Pharisees believed in God and yet resisted God in substance. Their nature was arrogant and stubborn. They didn’t know the work of the Holy Spirit, nor did they seek the truth at all. When the Lord Jesus appeared and did His work, they saw that His words and work carried authority and power, but they didn’t seek or investigate. They, because the Lord Jesus was not called the Messiah and did not keep the Sabbath, judged, condemned, blasphemed, and even crucified the Lord without a trace of fear. Afterward, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus shook up all of Judea and more and more people turned to Him. The Pharisees were afraid that if people all followed the Lord Jesus then no one would follow them, so they bribed the soldiers in an attempt to cover up the fact that the Lord Jesus had resurrected. Furthermore, they frenziedly captured and persecuted Christians and were enemies of God. Pastor E’s manifestations are the same as the Pharisees’ that God’s words reveal. He believes he knows the Bible well, possesses some biblical knowledge, and understands some theological theories, so he blindly holds on to his own notions and imaginings. He thinks the Lord can only come on a cloud, doesn’t acknowledge the Lord will first work secretly and then appear publicly, much less does he accept the reality of God becoming flesh. When I refuted him until he was speechless, he still clung to his notions, without any intention of seeking or investigating. He even shouted such words as “I absolutely can’t accept any Lord Jesus who doesn’t arrive upon a white cloud. Even if I have to die, I won’t believe.” From this it can be seen that his nature is one of arrogance and stubbornness. He doesn’t have the slightest acceptance of the truth. And he is a Pharisee revealed by God’s work in the last days. In the past I thought that I would be able to enter the kingdom of heaven by following him. Now I see he is not at all fit to be the leader of a group of believers. His leading those brothers and sisters is exactly the same as the blind leading the blind and then falling into a pit. He’s a false shepherd, so what is there for me to miss when he leaves? I should stand with God and completely reject him. At that time, I had some discernment of Pastor E’s hatred of the truth.
The second day, when Pastor E left, I did not give him a donation or travel expenses as before. That made him unhappy. Soon, he sent my brother a message, saying I was going down the wrong path, that I had led my family astray, and that he had a way to bring me back into my original church. Previously, Pastor E only came to my home two or three times every year, so I thought: “It’ll be months before he comes back again, so how can he make me return to my original church?” So I did not take it seriously. To my surprise, after that, he began to post messages in our WeChat group, telling brothers and sisters not to believe in Eastern Lightning. Immediately following this, the elders in our locality began to seal off the churches to us and told the believers that my whole family believed in Eastern Lightning and to reject us. In addition, they often looked for opportunities to deceive and rope in my husband. As a result, all the brothers and sisters, my relatives, and friends who believed in the Lord in our village, all shunned us, and some of them slandered us. My best friend pretended not to see me when we met on the street, or crossed the road when she saw me coming. Our neighbors, who were normally like family to us and who also believed in the Lord, no longer came to visit our home. Every time I went out, I would hear someone criticize me. My brother, nephews and nieces all turned their backs on me and gossiped about me. My husband was aggrieved and upset to see our family abandoned, isolated, and even slandered. And he was shaken. Every night he would lose his temper with me without any reason.
Thinking about how the brothers and sisters, who were once like family to me, had abandoned me, and how my family did not understand me, I felt it was so difficult to believe in God. I suffered to a great extent, and I often prayed to God in tears. God is faithful. He listened to my prayers and sympathized my weakness. At that time, God often enlightened me with these words: “Do not be discouraged, do not be weak, I will reveal to you. The road to the kingdom is not that smooth, nothing is that simple! You want blessings to come easy, right? Today everyone will have bitter trials to face, otherwise the loving heart you have for Me will not grow stronger and you will not have true love for Me. Even if it is just minor circumstances, everyone must get through them, it’s just that they differ to some degree” (“The Forty-first Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Every time I pondered these words of God my heart was comforted, and I came to understand the meaning of suffering. I realized that God permitted such afflictions to befall me just to perfect my love for and faith in Him and that they were God’s blessings. As the Lord Jesus said: “Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:11–12). Although I was abandoned and slandered by our relatives and friends, the pastor and elders, and other believers for my faith in Almighty God, I was chosen by God and could come before Him, follow His work in the last days, and have the opportunity to experience His work and be cleansed, which is my greatest blessing. I should not be negative or weak because of suffering, but instead I ought to feel happy. No matter what circumstances I encounter or what suffering I endure, I must follow God’s footsteps and stand witness for God. Moreover, regardless of how difficult things get, God is at my side and He will lead me through them. Thus, under the guidance of God’s words, I had enough faith to face the situation.
Later, the brothers and sisters from The Church of Almighty God read God’s words and fellowshiped the truth with my family. After a month, they changed their minds about God’s work in the last days and gained some discernment of the God-defying nature of the pastor and elders. We often attended meetings together, reading God’s words and communicating our personal knowledge and understanding of them. We enjoyed the sweetness of God’s words and a happy life, and smiles appeared on our faces again.
One day in April, Pastor E sent a message to me: “Sister Kemu, do you still give tithes? Have you saved some money for donations? I’m holding a gospel meeting, can you support me?” After reading this message, I really felt disgusted and angry, so I replied: “No, I can’t.” A few days later, Pastor E sent me another message, again to try to block me from believing in Almighty God, and I didn’t reply. Seeing his behavior, I couldn’t help thinking of these words of God: “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, 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?” (“All Who Do Not Know God Are Those Who Oppose God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
What God’s words reveal is exactly right. Pastor E is versed in the Bible. He often preached biblical knowledge and theological theory to us, making high-sounding speeches. He thinks of himself as a man that knows the Lord best, but in reality he does not know God’s work at all, and he opposes the truth in all things. When he heard about Almighty God’s work of the last days, he did not have a sliver of a seeking heart. Not only did he not accept it, but he also frantically condemned and resisted it and prevented the believers from examining and receiving it. He sealed off the churches and spread fallacies on the Internet so that the believers in my original church guarded against and resisted The Church of Almighty God. After we accepted the last days’ work of Almighty God, he first deceived us with fallacies and asked the brothers and sisters to try to bring us over to their side, and then told them to isolate and abandon us, attempting to force us to give up the true way. Through his actions, I saw that Pastor E preached everywhere not in order to exalt and testify to God or to bring believers before God, but to make them worship, follow, and support him, to keep them under his close control, and to protect his own position and livelihood. When some believers accepted the last days’ work of God, he was afraid that he would lose his position and livelihood, so he openly opposed God and fought over God’s sheep. Isn’t he an antichrist that fights with God for position? Pastor E didn’t bring the believers before God, but instead he made them follow him in resisting God’s work of the last days and lose God’s salvation of the last days. Isn’t he a devil that devours and brings harm to believers? He is a modern Pharisee and deserves to be cursed.
After experiencing these situations, I clearly saw the truth-hating, God-opposing nature of the pastor and elders. I completely rejected them and no longer followed or worshiped them. Meanwhile, I came to appreciate the words of the Lord Jesus: “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.” The Lord saying “the leaven of the Pharisees” refers to the heretical fallacies of the religious leaders. Only then did I understand that on the road to the kingdom of heaven, it’s most important to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. If we blindly worship and follow a man, don’t seek truth, and don’t look at things according to God’s words, we will be easily deceived by various heretical fallacies and lose God’s salvation, having nothing at all to do with the heavenly kingdom. I thank Almighty God for saving me and leading and guiding me with His words to cast off the deceptions and shackles of the evil servants and antichrists in the religious world, to return before God, and to enjoy the provision and watering of the living water of life.