I Developed Discernment After Two Particular Conversations With My Pastor
Not long after I started believing in the Lord, I was made a co-worker in my church. Seeing my pastor expound on the Bible so well and have such theological knowledge, I idolized him a lot, and I hoped to one day be as well-versed in the Bible as him. After several years, however, the pastor was just preaching the same old things, co-workers were scheming against each other, brothers and sisters were splitting into different offshoot groups and the church was in a total state of chaos. My spirit was also not being provided for, and so I left the church. I floundered around for a while and found two churches which were basically exactly the same, and I became very disheartened; all I could do was beseech the Lord Jesus to return as soon as possible. In September 2018, I met Sister Zhang online and she showed me some movies and videos produced by The Church of Almighty God. Through our meetings and by fellowshiping the words of Almighty God, I recognized that Almighty God was the Lord Jesus returned, and I very quickly accepted God’s work of the last days. When Preacher Liu found out that I had begun to believe in Almighty God, he sent me a message warning me to leave my church immediately and telling me that I was not permitted to have any contact with brothers and sisters from my church again, and he stated that I was expelled from the church. In the wake of that message, my pastor began to harass me …
My Pastor Purposefully Comes to Talk With Me Because I Have Accepted the True Way
One day, Sister Zhao called me out of the blue and said, “The pastor wants a word with you.” I was very surprised by this, and I thought to myself: “You lot expelled me from your church and were so unfeeling toward me. What do you want to talk to me now for? Do you want to stop me from believing in Almighty God?” Just then, I thought of two movies I’d watched before, “Deadly Ignorance” and “Break Through the Snare.” These movies talked about pastors and elders disrupting the faithful from accepting the work of Almighty God. At that time, I had still had my doubts, and I’d believed that, because the pastor was well-versed in the Bible and had a lot of theological knowledge, he surely wouldn’t do anything that would defy God, much less obstruct anyone from accepting the true way. Now, however, because I had accepted the work of the returned Lord, I had not only been expelled from the church, but the pastor also wanted to have a word with me, and I couldn’t help but begin to feel a little worried. I thought to myself: “My stature is so small, and I understand too few truths. If I’m without discernment and I end up deceived, then I’ll be in great danger.” I immediately refused to speak with the pastor, but Sister Zhao kept on trying to get me to meet with him. If I didn’t go, I would lose face, and if I did go, I’d be worried that I wouldn’t be able to cope with his questions—what was I to do? In my helpless state, all I could do was pray to God. After praying, I thought of when, in the movie “Break Through the Snare,” the brothers and sisters were faced with the deception and harassment of the Chinese government and the religious world. Not only did they not cower down but, on the contrary, they relied on God to face their situation and, under the guidance of God’s words, they stood firm in their testimony. Now, all I had to deal with was that the pastor wanted to talk with me, so I should be much more able to rely on God to face this situation and I should believe that God would guide me. Just then, I found my confidence and I decided to go meet the pastor so that I could make my position clear.
The First Conversation: The Pastor Tries to Use the Views of the CCP and the Religious World to Make Me Give Up the True Way
The next day, I went to a church meeting. As soon as I walked in, I saw the pastor sitting straight-backed on a chair looking very imposing. I couldn’t help feeling nervous as I tried to guess what he might say. The pastor then cordially poured me a glass of water and, smiling, he said in a soft voice, “Sister Fang, how have you been lately? How are you coping with being expelled from the church?”
I thought to myself: “He’s being so considerate toward me—what’s he up to?” Because I couldn’t figure out his intent, I didn’t want to answer him.
Seeing that I stayed silent, he went on. “Actually, Preacher Liu expelled you from the church so that you would come back to us, and it was done with your best interests in mind. You were a co-worker in our church, chosen by the deaconry. You are highly respected, and the church has been intentionally training you. But you’ve disappointed us so much, now that you’ve gone off to believe in Almighty God.”
I listened to him but didn’t respond. Just then, Sister Zhao, who was standing to one side, said to me with a sad look on her face, “See how good the pastor is being to you. He’s so concerned about you and wants to help you. He sees you as a daughter and he’s trying to be a father to you. You can say anything you want to him and he’ll help you.”
Seeing how worried about me Sister Zhao looked, my heart faltered, and I thought to myself: “If the pastor hadn’t been concerned for me then he would not have talked to me alone. What’s more, he’s given me a glass of water and he speaks softly to me, and I feel like he sees me as a daughter.” Suddenly, I realized that what Sister Zhao had said, that the pastor was trying to be a father to me was wrong, and so I said a hasty prayer in my heart: “O God, please enlighten me and allow me to have discernment as to whether or not the pastor really does mean me well.” Just then, I thought that, if the pastor was genuinely concerned about me, then he should be thinking about what was best for my life. But he clearly hadn’t preached the way, so why wouldn’t he let me accept the true way? How was this trying to be a father to me? They were just trying to fool me, so I paid no heed to them.
The pastor saw that I was completely indifferent to their words, so he tried to intimidate me by saying, “The Church of Almighty God is a church that is condemned and attacked by the CCP. Religious circles in Taiwan all boycott Almighty God, and you must not go near them when you have such a small stature. If you do, then you will be deceived by the sermons they preach, and once you have been deceived by them, there’s no coming back.”
Hearing him say this, I was at a loss as to how to reply and I felt a little ill at ease. I therefore hurriedly called on God to protect my heart so that I would not be deceived by what the pastor was saying. After praying, my flustered heart became calm, and I said to myself, “As I am already certain that the words of Almighty God are the voice of God and are the truth, I can never depart from the true way no matter what they say.” I then thought of a fellowship within the movie “Break Through the Snare,” in which someone said: “Atheist regimes and the majority of religious leaders are all satanic forces that hate God and the truth. This point can be confirmed through what happened with the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. Therefore, as long as it is the true way, it will surely suffer the rejection and condemnation of atheist regimes and religious circles, and those who preach the true way and practice the truth will also surely be framed and persecuted. … In the Age of Grace, for the sake of redeeming mankind, the Lord Jesus in the flesh was crucified by the religious circles and rulers of the time. In the last days, Almighty God expressing truths and judging mankind has also been met with the condemnation and resistance of religious circles and the CCP government, and rejected by this era. This fulfills the Lord Jesus’ words: ‘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’ (Luke 17:24–25).” Thinking about this, I came to have discernment of the pastor’s words. I could see from the attitude the CCP and the religious world adopted toward the truth and toward God that they were all resistant to God and, if someone were to investigate the true way, how could they possibly believe what the CCP and the religious world said? God’s sheep listen to His voice, and those who thirst for the appearance of God read Almighty God’s words and know them to be the truth, and they are naturally able to recognize the voice of God and can keep pace with God’s footsteps, so how could the CCP and the religious world say that people are being deceived?
The pastor saw that I hadn’t yet said a word and, with an expressionless face, he said, “A few years ago, it was reported in Taiwan that The Church of Almighty God was to be boycotted, that people from that church go around stealing believers from other churches and that we must prevent people from The Church of Almighty God from having any contact with people from our church. You must not have anything to do with them anymore.”
Hearing him say this, I became furious, and I thought to myself: “God’s sheep belong to God, not to anyone else, and no one has the right to stop people from coming before God and investigating the true way.”
Sister Zhao smiled and said to me, “Don’t believe in Almighty God anymore. Come back to our church, OK?”
I looked at them both, and then said firmly, “I’ve looked into it and I see that the words expressed by Almighty God are the truth. I’ve come to understand many of the mysteries in the Bible from Almighty God’s words, as well as truths such as the root cause of the desolation found in other churches, God’s six-thousand-year management plan to save mankind and how to cast off the bonds and constraints of sin, and my life is very provided for. In meetings in my old church, however, I never felt provided for and my life was unable to grow. I cannot go back.”
Seeing me so resolute, the pastor remained silent. I watched him and Sister Zhao sitting weakly on their chairs, not knowing how to respond and looking very unhappy. I felt sorry for them just then and I wanted to preach the gospel to them, but I understood too few truths and I didn’t know how to preach to them. I was feeling distressed on their behalf, but at the same time I rejoiced that I had been able to rely on God to overcome this situation.
On my way home, I felt much more relaxed, and in my heart, I thanked God for protecting me and guiding me through. I thought that it was over and that I didn’t need to face the pastor’s questions and harassment ever again. To my surprise, however, three hours later, Sister Zhao suddenly called and said, “The pastor is really worried about you and has arranged for you to meet with two deacons. He’ll contact you tomorrow as he wants to help you understand God’s words in the Bible. You have to talk with the pastor.” Hearing her say this, I knew that the pastor wanted to come and harass me again, so I immediately declined. But Sister Zhao kept calling and sending me messages, urging me to meet with the pastor. I thought that she was one of my good sisters so, because of my feelings for her, I felt I had no choice but to agree.
Why the Pastor Obstructs Believers From Investigating the True Way
Later on, I told Sister Zhang from The Church of Almighty God about what had happened, and she then read to me a passage of God’s words: “God does His work, God cares for a person, looks upon this person, and all the while Satan dogs His every step. Whomever God favors, Satan also watches, trailing along behind. If God wants this person, Satan would do everything in its power to obstruct God, using various evil ploys to tempt, disrupt and wreck the work God does, all in order to achieve its hidden objective. What is this objective? It does not want God to gain anyone; all those that God wants it wants for itself, it wants to occupy them, control them, to take charge of them so they worship it, so they join it in committing evil acts. Is this not Satan’s sinister motive? … In warring with God, and trailing along behind Him, Satan’s objective is to demolish all the work God wants to do, to occupy and control those whom God wants to gain, to completely extinguish those whom God wants to gain. If they are not extinguished, then they come to Satan’s possession, to be used by it—this is its objective.” Sister Zhang then gave fellowship: “God’s words tell us that, wherever He goes to perform His work, there also will Satan be trying to disrupt it. We have accepted the true way and turned back to God, but Satan does not want us to come before God and attain His salvation, and so it uses every means at its disposal to obstruct and disrupt us, aiming to make us deny and betray God, and we end up being possessed and devoured by Satan. The pastor is standing on the side of the CCP and the religious world and he judges and condemns The Church of Almighty God to your face. He does this to make you doubt God’s work, and he pretends to care about you so that you mistakenly believe he genuinely means you well. In fact, he wants to play on your emotions to rope you in, to make you follow him, forsake the true way and lose your chance to attain salvation. Behind all this rages a spiritual war; Satan is making a wager with God to see whether or not you can stand on the side of God when the pastor comes to harass you. Only by seeing through Satan’s deceitful schemes can we keep to the true way, stand witness, and be gained by God.”
After listening to her fellowship, I understood that the pastor coming to harass me was part of Satan’s deceitful scheme. The pastor was indeed playing the part of Satan, and he had said negative things about The Church of Almighty God in an attempt to make me leave the church and so that I would lose my chance to attain God’s salvation. Now he was asking me to go and fellowship about the Bible with him, and his intentions were surely not good. I realized that I must be able to see through Satan’s deceitful schemes, and that I must stand witness and not deny or betray God no matter how the pastor harassed me. But I didn’t understand why the pastor, who was so well-versed in the Bible and had served God for so many years, did not seek or investigate the true way when he heard the news about the Lord’s return, but instead arbitrarily judged and condemned it and refused to allow me to accept it. And so, I told Sister Zhang of my perplexity.
Sister Zhang gave fellowship, saying, “Right now, the majority of pastors and elders in the religious world do not seek or investigate Almighty God’s work in the last days, but instead they condemn and resist it, and they do all manner of things to stop the faithful from investigating it. The reason for this was revealed long ago by Almighty God. Let us look at the words of Almighty God, ‘Do you wish to know the root of why the Pharisees opposed Jesus? Do you wish to know the essence of the Pharisees? They were full of fantasies about the Messiah. What is more, they believed only that the Messiah would come, yet did not pursue the life truth. 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 clinging to the mere name of the Messiah while opposing the essence of the Messiah by any means possible. These Pharisees in essence were stubborn, arrogant, and did not obey the truth. The principle of their belief in God was: No matter how profound Your preaching, no matter how high Your authority, You are not Christ unless You are called the Messiah. Is this belief not preposterous and ridiculous?’ ‘There are those who read the Bible in grand churches and recite it all day long, yet not one among them understands the purpose of God’s work. Not one among them is able to know God; still less can any one among them accord with God’s will. They are all worthless, vile people, each standing on high to lecture God. They willfully oppose God even as they carry His banner. Claiming faith in God, still they eat the flesh and drink the blood of man. All such people are devils that devour the soul of man, head demons that deliberately get in the way of those trying to step onto the right path, and stumbling blocks impeding those who seek God. They may appear of “sound constitution,” but how are their followers to know that they are none other than antichrists who lead people to stand against God? How are their followers to know that they are living devils dedicated to the devouring of human souls?’ From the words of Almighty God, we can see that the pastors and elders of today are just the same as the Jewish chief priests, scribes and Pharisees of two thousand years ago. Although they have served the Lord for many years, are well-versed in the Bible, appear pious and can preach some theological knowledge, they simply do not understand the truth or know God at all, and they have no shred of reverence for God or love for the truth in their hearts. When God comes to perform a new work, they don’t care how many truths Almighty God expresses, but instead they just stubbornly cling to their own notions and imaginings. They don’t seek or investigate the true way, but instead just judge and condemn it arbitrarily, so much so that they even go along with the Chinese government and slander and resist God’s new work. This shows that they simply do not seek the truth sincerely, nor do they welcome the return of the Lord in earnest. Instead, they have arrogant, stubborn natures, and they are sick of the truth. Besides this, we must also be able to see clearly that the work and preaching of the majority of pastors and elders is not done out of consideration for the Lord’s will, but instead is done for the sake of their own positions and livelihoods. Therefore, whenever believers look into God’s work in the last days, the pastors and elders become anxious and afraid that the believers will follow God, and no one will follow them or make donations to them. They therefore think up all manner of ways to obstruct believers from accepting the true way, and they expel from their churches anyone who does. From this, we can see that pastors and elders never take the lives of brothers and sisters into consideration; they would rather brothers and sisters died of exhaustion or hunger than allow them to investigate the true way. Have they therefore not become stumbling blocks which obstruct people from getting into heaven? As the Lord Jesus said: ‘But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in’ (Matthew 23:13). If we have no discernment, then we will be deceived by the hypocrisy of the pastors and elders, we will continue to follow them, and we will end up being brought to ruin by these false shepherds.”
After listening to the sister’s fellowship, I finally came to have some discernment about the pastor’s inner essence. Previously, during my time believing in the Lord, I had believed that the pastors loved the truth because they had served the Lord for many years and were well-versed in the Bible, and so I had idolized them and looked up to them. Only now did I see that the pastors did not truly believe in God or love the truth at all. They had long known that the Lord had returned, but they had no desire to seek the true way at all and, in order to obstruct the faithful from accepting God’s work in the last days, they had actually gone along with the CCP to condemn and resist God’s work—they truly were the modern day Pharisees! Having come to this realization, I made a resolution to never give up the true way no matter what means the pastor employed to deceive or harass me.
The Second Conversation: The Pastor and Deacons Take It in Turns to Question Me in an Attempt to Force Me to Give Up the True Way
The next day, I felt filled with faith and I went to my old church without any fear. When I got there, I saw the pastor, two deacons and Sister Zhao sitting on one side of a large table. In his hands, the pastor held a Bible and the two deacons had notebooks in front of them, like judges about to interrogate a criminal. Faced with this spectacle, I felt stunned, and I thought to myself: “Exactly how many questions are you going to be asking? You’ve arranged such a grand scene.” I thought it was funny, but I didn’t dare relax my guard, so I prayed to God in my heart and asked Him to give me the faith and wisdom I needed to face this situation. After I’d taken my seat, Deacon Zhao immediately asked, “Sister Fang, how did you first come into contact with The Church of Almighty God? Who took you to meet them?”
Just as I was about to answer, Deacon Huang then asked, “How long have you believed in Almighty God? What have they told you? Didn’t you know that they’re heretical? What attracted you to The Church of Almighty God? Why would you accept it…?”
Just then, the pastor raised the Bible and said self-righteously, “The work and words of Almighty God have gone beyond the Bible and anything that goes beyond the Bible is heresy. You must not believe in it!”
Seeing the pastor waving his Bible and condemning the utterances and work of Almighty God, like a reenactment of the Pharisees condemning and resisting the Lord Jesus, I became angry, but I still didn’t know how to respond. At that point, I felt that God was my backup and my support, and I hurriedly prayed to God: “O God! Please protect my heart and give me the words I should say so I can stand firm in my testimony.” After praying, I felt faith and strength come flooding into me, and the truth that my sister had fellowshiped at our meeting concerning the relationship between God and the Bible came into my mind. And so, I said in a loud voice, “Almighty God’s words are the truth and I believe in the true way. You say that anything that goes beyond the Bible is heresy, so let me ask you, did God come first, or did the Bible come first? Which is the greater, God or the Bible? The Bible is just an historical record of God’s past work. Without the work of God, there would be no biblical record. God is the ruler of all things: Not only is He the Lord of the Sabbath, He is the Lord of the Bible as well, and He has every right to go beyond the Bible, to work according to His own plan and to the needs of mankind. You are limiting God’s work to only that which is within the Bible and are using the Bible to delimit God’s work—this is wrong!”
After I’d finished speaking, the pastor was dumbfounded. He lowered his head and said nothing, his face was an expressionless mask and he paid no more heed to me. Just then, Sister Zhao spoke warmly to me, and said, “The pastor and the deacons genuinely care about you. If you wanted to come back to our church, the pastor would give you some money. All you have to do is say how you were deceived by them after you came into contact with The Church of Almighty God and tell the brothers and sisters in our church not to have anything to do with The Church of Almighty God. The pastor has guaranteed that nothing will happen to you, and he will even teach you personally in Bible study.”
This surprised me a great deal, and I thought to myself: “How can you say such things? I trusted you so much, but now it seems that I have seen your true colors. You want to buy people’s hearts with money and make me give up the true way, and you also want me to bear false witness and lay false charges against The Church of Almighty God. You really will go to any lengths to make believers give up the true way. This is so deplorable!” Furiously, I said, “It clearly states in the Ten Commandments: ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor’ (Exodus 20:16). Bearing false witness is an offense against God’s disposition as well as a deed that defies God. The Church of Almighty God has done me no harm whatsoever, and all they’ve done is provide for my life. How can you ask me to say they’ve deceived me? That would be a shameless lie. I will never do anything of the sort. I know which path I should choose; you expelled me from your church, and I shall believe in Almighty God.”
The two deacons saw that I was not about to turn back, and so they said many things that condemned and defied Almighty God. I replied angrily, saying, “You are well-versed in the Bible and you are preachers. And yet when you hear the news that the Lord has returned, you don’t seek the true way at all, but instead you dare to condemn and resist it. Are you truly believers in God?” They made no rebuttal. Just then, the pastor who had stayed silent throughout said helplessly, “Everyone has the right to choose their belief. Seeing as you’ve chosen to believe in Almighty God, then have it your way.” Hearing him say this, I let out a sigh of relief. At that moment, the two deacons and Sister Zhao kept saying things condemning Almighty God and they urged me to leave The Church of Almighty God as soon as possible. Because of God’s guidance, I refused them no matter how they tried to convince me. The pastor and the deacons then said many blasphemous things about Almighty God, and I felt a surge of loathing. Angrily, I said to them, “You are very good at preaching sermons in church, and yet you practice such resistance to God. You really do not know God at all.” I shocked them by saying this, as they didn’t think I could say such things. At that point, I no longer wanted to talk to them, so I stood up and left.
Over the weeks that followed, several sisters from my old church kept calling me on the phone and sending me negative information that condemned The Church of Almighty God. Seeing them resist God in such a way, I got fed up, and I stopped answering their calls or reading their messages. After two weeks of this, their harassment stopped. Later, a sister from my old church sent me a message telling me that the pastor had sealed the church. She said that a lot of information was being circulated around the church that called on believers to resist and guard against Eastern Lightning, and which told the brothers and sisters in the church not to make contact with me.
An Appreciation Born of Experience
I’d seen with my own eyes the pastor’s condemnation and defiance of Almighty God’s work in the last days, and I’d personally experienced his harassment. All this allowed me to see the pastor’s truth-hating and hypocritical essence. Almighty God expresses so many truths and they are all publicly available online, and yet they hadn’t sought or investigated the true way at all. Instead, they just blindly judged and condemned God’s work in the last days. In order to control the faithful and maintain their own positions and livelihoods, they actually used the CCP’s lies to deceive believers, and they sealed the church so that believers would be prevented from investigating or accepting the true way, and all the believers would then be under their control. This resulted in the believers being unable to hear God’s voice and unable to read the words expressed by the returned Lord, and thus they would lose God’s salvation. By doing this, were the pastors not leading the faithful along the path to destruction? No wonder God’s words expose pastors who read the Bible standing high up on their pedestals as living devils who devour people’s souls and as antichrists who defy God—it was all true. Thanks be to God! It was God’s protection and guidance that had enabled me to gain some discernment of my old pastor, as well as become even more certain about the work of Almighty God. After this experience, I saw that I could defeat the deceptions and obstructions of the religious world by relying on God. No matter how pastors or co-workers would harass me in the future, I would never leave Almighty God. I had made up my mind to follow the true way till the very end and never give it up.