After breakfast, brothers and sisters were having a meeting at Yang Keqin’s home. Then, Wang Hui, Yang Keqin’s wife, said happily, “Keqin, look who’s back?” Yang Keqin glanced up and saw his cousin, whom he believed in the Lord together with. He looked somewhat excited, saying, “Ha! Aizhen! You went out to work for the Lord and it has been four years ever since. We all miss you so much.” “I also want to have a meeting with you all. Today, we finally meet again!” Song Aizhen replied excitedly. Brothers and sisters exchanged greetings enthusiastically.
At that time, Brother Liu Yi said earnestly, “Sister Song, your fellowships were so enlightening before. We are all glad to see you coming back. Let’s have a fellowship together.”
Song Aizhen agreed directly, saying, “Thank the Lord. May the Lord guide us. Brothers and sisters, what were you fellowshiping just now?”
Siyu answered quickly, “Sister Song, we were reading the verses that thecursed the Pharisees.”
Song Aizhen took out thefrom her bag, looked through the verses and said, “It is really worthy of a deep consideration of the fact that the Pharisees resisted and condemned the Lord. They were familiar with the Old Testament, taught people according to the law of Jehovah, served God in the holy temple, traveled over sea and land to spread the of God, and led the Jewish people to bitterly wait for the coming of Messiah. But who could know that when the Lord Jesus came to work, they resisted and condemned Him, and even associated with the Roman government to crucify Him. I have no idea whether you have thought why the Pharisees serving God but resisting God.”
Yang Keqin said eagerly, “Yet, we really haven’t thought about it. The chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees always piously served God and labored for Him. Outwardly, they were those who loved God most, but why did they still resist Him though they clearly knew the Lord Jesus’ word had authority and power?”
Liu Yi said in puzzlement, “We really can’t see through it. Aizhen, you have worked and preached outside for many years, so, you must know more than us. Please talk to us about your understanding.”
Song Aizhen said seriously, “Thank the Lord. When I was preaching outside, a sister gave me a book and the content of it made me gain a lot. Let me share it with you. It is said in the book, ‘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”).
These words clearly tell us the source of the Pharisees’ resisting and condemning the Lord Jesus. The essence of the Pharisees’ nature is too stubborn and arrogant. Even though they believed in God, they didn’t have the slightest reverence for God, and moreover, they were extremely bored of the truth and hated the truth. Even though they were familiar with the Old Testament and observed the law of Jehovah God, they just knew the letters and doctrines, and knew nothing about God. When the Lord Jesus came to work, the Pharisees kept their notions and imaginations to resist and condemn Him: No matter how profound the Lord Jesus’ preaching, how much they benefit man, how many truths they contain, or no matter how high the power and authority in these words, as long as the Lord’s name isn’t Messiah, they would resist and condemn Him. They only believed their own notions and imaginations, and only believed the theological theory researched and developed by themselves. So, it can be seen that the essence of the Pharisees’ nature is stubborn, arrogant, as well as in enmity to the truth.
When the Lord Jesus did His work, He expressed many truths and performed a lot of miracles, such as: Making the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers be cleansed, and the dead return; feeding five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish; calming the wind and waves and so on. The Lord Jesus’ work and word have authority and power, which shocked the whole Judean nation at that time. Many people followed and returned to the Lord Jesus after they saw these facts. However, the Pharisees saw it with their eyes and hated it in their heart. They all knew it in their guts: If the Lord Jesus continued to preach and work, many believers in Judaism would go to follow Him. By then, it was probable that the whole Judaism would be desolate and bankrupt, and as a result no one would look up to and worship them, and then they would lose their status and livelihood. In order to keep their status and livelihood and achieve their despicable objective—to be looked up to and worshiped by people, they crazily resisted and condemned the Lord Jesus, saying that He drove out demons by the prince of demons, and they even intimidated and threatened believers that whoever followed the Lord Jesus would be expelled from the synagogue. They also intrigued to kill the Lord Jesus, just as the Bible says, ‘Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man does many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. … Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death’ (John 11:47–48, 53). To achieve their own purpose, the Pharisees went so far as to collude with the Roman government to crucify the Lord Jesus, and saying, ‘His blood be on us, and on our children.’ From this, we can see: The Pharisees hated the truth and hated Christ, and they had long ago reached the point of being frenzied. They would rather forsake their sin offering and let their descendants be cursed than crucify the Lord Jesus who expressed the truth to redeem mankind. This is their true nature in hating the truth. Tell me, isn’t it God’s righteousness that the Lord Jesus cursed the Pharisees?”
After hearing these words, brothers and sisters were very indignant and started talking about it. At the time, Brother Liu Yi said, “In the past, I only knew the Pharisees resisted the Lord Jesus, but I couldn’t see through the essence of their resisting God. Today, after hearing Sister Song’s fellowship in this way, I came to understand: The Pharisees appeared very pious; they sacrificed and labored for God, prayed to God, and read the scriptures, but they didn’t do it for worshiping and serving God sincerely. It turns out that their purpose was to keep their status and livelihood, and was to win over people so that they could be admired and looked up to.”
Yang Keqin nodded thoughtfully and said, “Right. No wonder when they saw that the Lord Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom, taught people to confess and repent toward God and forgave man’s sin, and when they saw that Jewish people all followed the Lord, they flew into a rage and bore Him a grudge, and used every possible means to spread rumors and slander Him, preventing believers from returning to the Lord. They were really the evil servants who hated the truth, hated Christ, and were hostile to God. The Lord Jesus cursed the Pharisees, saying, ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like to white washed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity’ (Matthew 23:27–28). From these words, we can see that the Lord’s cursing the Pharisees completely reveals God’s righteousness.
Song Aizhen continued: “Let’s read some verses that the Lord Jesus exposed the Pharisees: ‘Why do you also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honor your father and mother: and, He that curses father or mother, let him die the death. But you say, Whoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatever you might be profited by me; And honor not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have you made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. You hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draws near to me with their mouth, and honors me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men’ (Mat 15:3–9). Through what the Lord Jesus exposed the Pharisees, we can see: The Pharisees often interpreted the Bible to others in the synagogue and often prayed before people. From man’s perspective, they all observed the Bible and were pious outwardly, but they only cared about performing religious ceremonies and following rules, and only interpreted rules and doctrines in the Bible. They didn’t fear God at all, didn’t obey God’s commandments, and even to the point of replacing God’s commandments with man’s tradition, ignoring God’s commandments and making enemy with God publicly. Wasn’t that irrefutable evidence of how the Pharisees served God yet also resisted God? What they did was completely in opposition to God’s will and demands, and this was the key reason why the Lord Jesus hated and cursed them. God’s commandments clearly say, ‘You shall not kill.’ ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.’ But the Pharisees ignored them, publicly gave false witness to condemn and kill the prophets sent by God, which is directly resisting God. So, the Lord Jesus condemned and cursed them, saying, ‘You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell? Why, behold, I send to you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall you whip in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth…’ (Mat 23:33–35). The Pharisees crazily resisted God, killed the prophets sent by God, destroyed God’s work, and blocked the carrying of God’s will; they seriously enraged God’s disposition. How could they not have suffered God’s curse?”
Siyu indignantly said to the people beside her: “That’s true. The Pharisees ignored God’s commandments, made enemy with God publicly, and even fabricated rumors to give false witness, and killed prophets sent by God. They were too malicious. They really should be cursed by God!”
Song Aizhen continued to fellowship: “Brothers and sisters, we all know: In order to redeem mankind, the Lord Jesus endured humiliations to descend on earth and lived together with sinners. He expressed the truth, performed numerous miracles, and gave man abundant grace and blessings for them to enjoy. The Pharisees neither sought nor investigated, but wildly resisted and condemned the Lord Jesus, and finally, they joined hands with the Roman government to nail Him on the cross. From this, we can see the Pharisees’ antichrist nature in resisting God and being hostile to God. When the Lord Jesus was crucified and resurrected after three days, appearing to His disciples for forty days, which shocked the whole Jewish nation again, many people saw these facts and one after another they confessed and repented and returned to the Lord Jesus. But the chief priest and Pharisees bribed soldiers and told them: ‘Say you, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you’ (Mat 28:13–14). When the Lord Jesus’ disciples saw His resurrection and appearance and then they preached the gospel to all the world to testify the Lord’s name, the Pharisees still went everywhere to hunt, arrest, and afflict them. The Pharisees hated the truth so much and were hostile to God, their purpose was to cancel the Lord Jesus’ work and to achieve their ambition of controlling the whole religious world.”
Yang Keqin said excitedly, “Today, I finally understand. It turns out that the key reason why the Pharisees resisted God is because of their arrogant and stubborn nature. They never accepted the truth form God, and they did everything for the sake of their own profits. Thanks be to the Lord. Ai Zhen, your fellowship is so enlightening. This is the Lord’s guidance. This is the Lord’s leading.”
When Song Aizhen saw his cousin could have discernment about how the Pharisees resisted God, she said happily, “Brother, today, it is completely the Lord’s grace that we can see through the essence of the Pharisees’ resisting God. We thank the Lord. Glory be to the Lord!”
At this time, Siyu couldn’t sit still and said anxiously, “Sister Song, through today’s fellowship, we understand the substance of the Pharisees’ resistance against God. We don’t want to follow in the Pharisees’ footsteps on this great matter of welcoming the Lord’s return. Then, what shall we do to avoid resisting the Lord? Please fellowship with us.”
Song Aizhen said with deep feeling: “Sister, the question you raised is very important. We all don’t want to follow in the Pharisees’ footsteps, so it appears to be particularly important that what attitude we take to wait for the Lord’s coming. Let me read for you another passage from this book. It says, ‘You should choose your own path, and should not blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and reject the truth. You should not be an ignorant and arrogant person, but someone who obeys the guidance of the Holy Spirit and longs for and seeks the truth; only in this way will you benefit. I advise you to tread the path of belief in God with care. Do not jump to conclusions; what’s more, do not be casual and carefree in your belief in God. You should know that, at the very least, those whoshould be humble and reverential. … No one who believes in Jesus is qualified to curse or condemn others. You should all be someone who is rational and accepts the truth. Perhaps, having heard the way of truth and read the word of life, you believe that only one in 10,000 of these words are in line with your convictions and the Bible, and then you should continue to seek in that 10,000th of these words. I still advise you to be humble, to not be over-confident, and to not exalt yourself too highly’ (“When You Behold the Spiritual Body of Jesus Will Be When God Has Made Anew Heaven and Earth”).
The Lord doesn’t want us to follow the Pharisees’ path; He wants us to learn lessons from failures of people of the past; He wants us to be a person who can seek humbly, and to be a person who can obey the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As believers in God, we should have a reverent and humble heart on the matter of faith in God. Regardless of which sect he is from or who he is, as long as their words are in line with God’s word and in line with the truth, we should accept and submit to them; we can’t arbitrarily judge, much less condemn and blaspheme them. Or, we will easily resist God and offend God’s disposition and thus be punished by Him. We should imitate Peter and John. They recognized from the Lord Jesus’ words that He was the coming Messiah and then followed Him, gaining the Lord’s salvation. By contrast, the Pharisees were arrogant and stubborn in their nature. They didn’t accept the truth but hated the truth even condemned and blasphemed the Lord Jesus. Therefore, they were punished and cursed by God. It shows that God loves those who are humble and reasonable, and hates and curses antichrists who are arrogant and stubborn.”
After hearing these words, Siyu said excitedly, “Right. We can’t follow in the Pharisees’ footsteps again but should imitate Peter and John. We should pay attention to hearing God’s voice, be able to seek the truth and accept the truth to be a person who seeks the truth humbly. Just as the Lord Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’” (Mat 5:3).
Brothers and sisters enthusiastically say, “Right. We should follow the example of Peter and John in being a humble and reasonable person. Thanks be to the Lord.”
The parlor was full of laughter, and brothers and sisters were still fellowshiping excitedly …
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