This article, posted on the mainland site Christian Times is a summary of an internet post by a pastor from Xinjiang Autonomous Region on how to discern true and false gods. The context of the article is resurgence of the Eastern Lightning cult last winter. The pastor reminds believers to focus on the attributes of God when discerning false teachings from true teachings. He then spells out five categories of false gods in Chinese culture.
The religious cult Eastern Lightening, which now calls itself "The Church of the Almighty God" has been increasingly active of late, spreading doomsday rumors and harassing local churches and believers throughout China. In response to the cult's disastrous influence on the church one pastor from Xinjiang has used the Internet as a means to help Christians understand "How to distinguish false gods from the one true God".
Regarding those who deny the existence of God, the pastor believes that "persons who sincerely God will eventually acknowledge that He exists. This is a truth which the Bible clearly teaches: "For since the creation of the world Gods invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse" (Rom. 1:20).
In order to enable Christians to better distinguish truth from lies when faced with temptation and rumors, he focused primarily on God's attributes, why people cannot recognize the true God and the origins and characteristics of false gods.
I. Attributes of the True God
The following are essential attributes of the true God:
1. God is spirit. He not only has life but also person-hood.
2. God is infinite, unchanging from everlasting to everlasting and eternally existent.
3. God is complete in himself, faithful, and full of compassion, righteousness, holiness and peace.
4. All things originate and end in God, he is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent.
This is the true God we believe in. He is the source of creation, the maker of both the heavens and the earth. He is sovereign over all and the author of life as well as the giver of the Word of life. He has revealed himself to man and enabled man to understand his ways and become reconciled to him.
II. Why People Cannot Recognize the True God
The main reason that is that the enemy, Satan, has blinded the eyes of man, making it impossible to believe. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Cor. 4:4 The devil will use any means possible to create false Gods and prevent man from recognizing the true Lord of heaven and earth.
III. The Origin of False Gods
Each country has numerous false gods, but here the discussion will focus only on those within China. They fall into five general categories:
1. Material Constructs
This category of false gods are those which have been molded into Buddhist idols or other images using materials such as clay, wood, rock, gold, silver, copper and iron. The most common include the Jade Emperor, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama and the Earth God. The prevailing belief is that these idols posses supernatural power and should not be treated casually. However, as a well-known proverb asserts they are unable to even help themselves. Idols should not be feared, yet we should be on guard against the evil spirits that lie behind them.
2. Mental Constructs
This category of false gods refers to those that have been conceived entirely in the imagination and which no person has ever actually seen. They are neither traditional heroes nor historical figures. Some examples include the Thunder God, the Dragon King of the Sea, the God of the Earth, the Kitchen God, and the God of Wealth.
This group is composed of historical figures such as imperial officials, famous generals, sages, and other outstanding persons. These would include the Song dynasty general Yue Fei, Zhuge Liang, and Guangong. These individuals are revered and recognized for their great contributions to their fellow countrymen, but should in no way be considered gods.
4. Mythological Figures
These are false gods whose origin is found in myth and legend, but were unexpectedly elevated to a god-like status. Pangu, the mythological creator of the universe, the Queen Mother of the West, the Monkey King and the Eight Immortals are some well-known examples.
5. Feared Objects
This is a decidedly bizarre class of false gods, which produce both fear and fascination. For example, people fear tigers and ghosts, while at the same time they worship them.When we reflect on the character of God, we will be able to easily distinguish between true and false gods. Our God is the savior of all – young and old, male and female, rich and poor, wise and ignorant. Faith in him is all that is needed for to receive the free gift of salvation and enjoy Gods love, righteousness, peace and happiness. He is the one, true God.
Original article: 新疆牧者评“东方闪电”猖獗：如何分辨真神与假神
Image source: city god, by neil banas, via Flickr
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