3 One Cannot Step Onto Peter’s Path Only by Willing to Take It
Yang Jing Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province
After Almighty God revealed to men the outcomes of Peter and Paul, a lot of people thought in their heart: I must take the way of Peter and never take the way of Paul. And they believed that as long as they were willing in their heart to take the way of Peter they could step onto it. Therefore, many of them took the good aspect of what they did as the sign of their having stepped onto the way of Peter. For example, some people thought that their having followed Almighty God and gained some knowledge of themselves meant they had stepped onto the way of Peter. Some thought that their having practiced some truths meant they had stepped onto the way of Peter. Some thought that their having some good behavior outwardly and often calling upon God in imitation of Peter’s prayers meant they had stepped onto the way of Peter. Others thought that their reading God’s word every day and being able to speak a little knowledge of it and know themselves in light of it meant they had stepped onto the way of Peter. Still others thought that, because they shed tears whenever God’s love was talked about, they had had love for God and had stepped onto the way of Peter. Furthermore, there were those who thought that as long as they ate and drank God’s word diligently at home without working or running around outside, they were walking the way of Peter. Up to today, however, no real manifestations of Peter’s pursuing the truth and life can be seen in us. What we live out is still our oldness and our naturalness. Then, how can we say that we are walking the way of Peter? Actually, truly stepping onto the way of Peter is not as simple and easy as we have imagined and thought.
The main reason why we say the way we walk is not really the way of Peter is that our viewpoint of pursuing is different from Peter’s. What Peter pursued was the truth and life, was the transformation of his disposition, was to fulfill the duty of a created being, and was to satisfy God and live out a meaningful life. What we pursue, however, is position and reputation, is money and ease, is the peace of the flesh and the harmony of the family, is to avoid disasters and escape God’s punishment, is to have a good destination, is for our flesh to live more comfortably, and so forth. For example, when God’s family commits to us a bigger work, we are not very willing to accept it for fear that we will have no chance to go home and enjoy fleshly happiness, or we find an excuse to refuse the commission for fear that our family will be broken up. When an illness comes upon us, instead of seeking God’s intention in it, we are full of complaints, thinking that as we expend for God the illness should not have come upon us; thus we live in a state of being passive and complaining, no longer wanting to pursue. When we lose position in God’s family, we lose our wits and become passive and weak, feeling that without position we have no way to pursue, and that it is meaningless to believe in God. When we see that the world situation is very chaotic and God’s day is near, we step up our effort to equip ourselves with the truth and expend willingly for God, but when we learn that to gain the transformation of our disposition takes us quite a long time and requires us to undergo many sufferings, we begin to leave ourselves a way out and do not want to give our all to expend for God. When God’s judgment and chastisement come upon us or God has exposed us by arranging circumstances, and we think that we have no hope of being saved and perfected, we fall into a passive state, writing ourselves off as hopeless and acting recklessly. When working, we often work for the sake of working, and we do not pursue to enter in, do not pay attention to examining ourselves and knowing ourselves, do not pay attention to practicing the truth, and do not pursue the transformation of our disposition. In performing our duty, we do not pay attention to seeking God’s will or seeking the principles of doing things, but often act according to our own will and preferences, or we do things in order to receive favorable comments and praises from others and to occupy a place in others’ heart rather than to satisfy God. In reading God’s word, our purpose is not to understand the truth in it, and not to know ourselves and know God in it, but to equip ourselves with some letters and doctrines to speak them to others and thereby show ourselves off. All such manifestations sufficiently show that our original viewpoint of pursuing has not yet been changed. What we pursue are still fleshly ease, position, reputation, and other things outside the truth. Because our original viewpoint of pursuing has not been corrected and we do not have the same viewpoint of pursuing as Peter’s, a prerequisite for walking the way of Peter, the way we are walking now is still our old way, and not the way of pursuing the truth to be perfected that Peter walked. God’s word tells us: “Peter, in believing in God, pursued to satisfy God in everything and to obey everything from God. He could accept chastisement and judgment, and he also accepted refining, tribulation, and poverty in life, without any complaint. These could not change his heart of loving God. …” “Peter pursued life, and in trials, he paid attention to knowing himself, paid attention to the transformation of his disposition, and spared no effort to pursue to know God. Finally, he thought: Since man lives, he should pursue to know God. To know God is the most crucial. If I fail to know God, I will die discontent. After I know God, even if God asks me to die, I will feel it is the most gratifying thing, I will have no complaint, and I will be content with my whole life. That Peter had this knowledge and could reach this point was not achieved at the beginning of his believing in God. He had to experience many trials. Only after he experienced to the extent that he had fully known himself did he feel the preciousness of knowing God. So, he walked the way of life and the way of being perfected. His specific practices were outstanding mainly in this aspect. What is the way you are walking now? If you are unable to pursue life, pursue to know yourselves, and pursue to know God as Peter did, then it is not the way of Peter.”
Looking back on our thoughts and ideas, words and deeds, and intents and motives over the years of our following God, they are actually not much different from Paul’s states and expressions disclosed by God’s word. For example, Paul liked to work outside, on a grand and spectacular scale; we also like to do big works, pursue to be big leaders, and like to work by our brains and qualities. Paul liked to give lectures; we also like to preach to others and like to show off before others, and even if we do not know how to preach, we still preach in imitation of others. Paul liked to let others listen to him, liked to let others surround him, liked to let others adore him, liked to have a place in others’ heart, and liked to let others pay attention to his image; we also like to let the brothers and sisters listen to us, and if any of them does not, we will feel uncomfortable within and unable to do the work. We always want the brothers and sisters to say that we fellowship about the truth clearly and are good at arranging things, and wherever we go, we always want to leave a good impression on others, want them to have a place for us in their heart, and want them to welcome us with a smiling face. If we cannot get these, we will become passive and feel that it is meaningless to live. Therefore, we work hard and do our best to endure hardships. Moreover, we often testify how many years we have believed in God, what works we have done, and how many hardships we have suffered; testify how busy and how tired we are in working, and how many nights we have stayed up late; testify that we are old believers, and that the leaders above think highly of us, promote us, and commit to us important works; testify that we are leaders and can lead so many people, and that no big work can daunt or defeat us; testify that we are quick-witted, have good qualities, and handle matters in an efficient and orderly manner; and testify that we achieved good results in our past work. And some even testify their origins, their social status, and their families being in superior conditions and having power. Like Paul thinking himself not inferior to the greatest apostles, we always feel that we are superior to any of the brothers and sisters and we alone are qualified to be leaders, requiring the brothers and sisters to know and experience as we do. … We have such states and expressions, which sufficiently shows that the way we walk is precisely the way of Paul, and it is far from the way of Peter. This is because our viewpoint of pursuing is the same as Paul’s, our pursuit is completely for our fleshly interests and for our reputation and position, and what we live out is still the image of satan. Many times, in the meetings or in the revealing of facts, we realize that we pursue for position, reputation, future, and destination, and that the way we walk is still the way of Paul; and we make a resolution to willingly drop these things hated by God and pursue to walk the way of Peter, and also find some words of God concerning walking the way of Peter to read. And then we come before God and pray: O God! I am willing to imitate Peter. May you inspire and enlighten me and grace me so that I can step onto the way of Peter. Without your grace and mercy, I can only walk the way of Paul. Today, you have revealed to us the way of being perfected. I am willing to take the way of Peter. Also, we often imitate Peter’s prayers. After practicing so for a period of time, we feel that we have known ourselves somewhat more than before, that we can speak some knowledge about God’s work, and that we can occasionally put some truths into practice under certain circumstances. Then we think that we have stepped onto the way of Peter, feeling that our experience is higher than others’, and we are with complete confidence. However, when we experience in real life, we once again start to consider our position and reputation and plan for our future path of living. For example, when being with others, we always want them to pay attention to our image, always want them to have a regard for us, and always wish them to welcome us with a smiling face, and even when we fellowship about the truth with them, our purpose is to leave a good impression on them. When talking with others, we always show ourselves off, like to talk about our strong points, and like to praise ourselves, wanting to be adored by them. When we work, though we are willing to pay some price and suffer some hardships, our intent is not to satisfy God but to let our leaders say we are competent and let the above have a good opinion of us. When we make mistakes in the work and fail to gain favorable comments from the above, we think that our qualities are too poor and that no matter how we pursue we cannot meet God’s requirements, and then we write ourselves off as hopeless and act recklessly. When an illness comes upon us, we think: When will the illness go away? What if it gets serious so that I cannot do the work? How shall I live then? In a word, whatever we do, our intent and motive is for ourselves; we do nothing for caring for God’s heart or for practicing the truth and satisfying God. From this it can be seen that the way we are walking now is still the way of Paul, and not the way of Peter which we long to take.
Then, why is it that we are all very willing to take the way of Peter but always walk along the way of Paul? Why is it that what we live out is always the likeness of Paul? In fact, such a state of ours is not an occasional expression but a product of our nature. God says: “If he really has such expressions, it is enough to show that this person is arrogant and self-conceited and does not worship God at all, and what he pursues is to stand in a high position; he wants to rule over others, he wants to occupy others, and he wants to have a place in others’ heart. This is the typical satanic image. The especially salient of his disposition is being arrogant and self-conceited, worshiping not God, and letting others worship him. Isn’t this his nature? From these expressions, we can fully discern his nature.” From the disclosure of God’s words, we see that our nature and substance are the same as Paul’s. We are arrogant and self-conceited by nature and have no God in our heart and no truth in our living. What we live out is completely satan’s image, and is entirely controlled by our satanic nature. Although we hate ourselves, we have no way to free ourselves from the restriction of our corrupt nature. As God says: “Although you have not intended to take the way of Paul, your nature just directs so, and in spite of yourself you are walking forward so. Although you are willing in your heart to take the way of Peter, you are unclear about how to walk the way of Peter, and unconsciously you are still walking the way of Paul. This is the fact.” Indeed, we are all willing to take the way of Peter, but directed by our satanic nature, we have not yet stepped onto the way of Peter by now. Specifically speaking, the reason why we have not stepped onto the way of Peter but have stepped onto the way of Paul which we do not want to take, on the one hand, is that satan has corrupted us too deeply. It has planted the root of poison deeply in our heart, with the result that even in our blood and marrow flow the poisons of the great red dragon. Since childhood, we have been instructed and influenced by our parents’ words and deeds: As a human being, one has to make something of himself, do great things, manage great undertakings, and make others think highly of him; he has to know the ways of conducting himself, such as, “It is better to suffer physically than lose face,” “Face is as important to man as the bark is to the tree,” “A man leaves his reputation behind him as a wild goose leaves its sound behind it.” In school, our teachers taught us: You should from youth have ideals, learn from famous persons, great personages, scientists, and heroes, and aim to become famous at home and abroad. These poisons and the like have taken root deeply in our heart, so that our thoughts and minds have been completely confined to them. We believe that all these theories are the most proper and are blameless, and we are willingly manipulated by these things, never having the thought to transcend them, much less the courage and power to surpass ourselves. On the other hand, it is because of our satanic disposition of being arrogant, self-conceited, self-important, self-right, and disobedient to the truth. We always have our future and destiny upon our breast and always make bargains with God and have demands on God. These fleshly extravagant desires and satanic disposition have been deeply rooted in us, so that we do not thirst for the truth, and do not know the way of Peter as the only way to being perfected, even less pay attention to the specific ways to walk the path to success which God points out to people. That is to say, we are not at all clear about the natures of and the differences between the way of Peter and the way of Paul, and do not know what truths we should have to walk the way of Peter, much less master the specific ways of walking the way of Peter. Therefore, we have not yet stepped onto the way of Peter by now. As God says: “How do you say you should walk the way of Peter now? If you cannot distinguish between the way of Peter and the way of Paul or do not know them at all, no matter how you say that you walk the way of Peter, it is empty talk. You have to first discern clearly in your heart what the way of Peter is all about and what the way of Paul is all about. When you really realize that the way of Peter is the way of life and is the only way to being perfected, you will be able to know and grasp the truths essential for walking the way of Peter and the specific ways of walking it. If you do not know the way of Peter, the way you walk is definitely the way of Paul, because you have no other path to take, having no other choice.”
To truly step onto the way of Peter, first of all, we have to know that the way of Peter is a way of pursuing the truth and pursuing life, is the only way to being perfected, and is the only way to success we believers in God should walk, and even more, we have to know the specific ways of practice concerning walking the way of Peter. Then, how to walk the way of Peter? Let’s read God’s fellowship: “To walk the way of Peter, broadly speaking, is to walk the way of pursuing the truth, and is also to walk the way of truly knowing oneself and gaining the transformation of one’s disposition. Only walking the way of Peter is the way of being perfected by God. How to walk the way of Peter practically and what ways of practice there are, these one must be clear about. First of all, one must drop his intents, his improper pursuit, and even his family and all the things of his flesh, and make a wholehearted devotion, that is, throw himself into God’s word completely, concentrating on eating and drinking God’s word, concentrating on seeking the truth and seeking God’s meaning in God’s word, and touching God’s will in everything. This is the most essential and most crucial way of practice. After meeting Jesus, Peter practiced so. Only by practicing so can one achieve the best results. To put all one’s heart and strength into God’s word mainly means to seek the truth, seek God’s meaning, and pay attention to touching God’s will in God’s word, and to understand and gain more truths in God’s word. In reading God’s word, Peter did not put his focus on understanding doctrines, much less on gaining theological knowledge. Rather, he focused on understanding the truth and touching God’s will, so as to know God’s disposition and God’s loveliness. Meanwhile, he tried to know in God’s word man’s various corrupt states, man’s corrupt nature, and man’s real lacks, and tried to meet God’s requirements for man in every aspect so as to satisfy God. He had so many accurate practices in God’s word, which was most after God’s heart and was man’s best cooperation in experiencing God’s work. In his experiencing hundreds of trials from God, every word by which God judged man, every word by which God exposed man, and every word by which God made requirements of man, he strictly checked himself with to examine himself and touch the meaning of them. All the words Jesus said to him, he pondered over seriously and bore them in mind, and he got very good results. By practicing so, he got to know himself in God’s word, not only knowing man’s various corrupt states, but also knowing man’s substance and nature and man’s various deficiencies. This meant that he had truly known himself. In God’s word, on the one hand, he got to truly know himself, and on the other hand, as God in his words expressed God’s righteous disposition, expressed what God has and is, expressed God’s intention in working, and expressed God’s requirements for mankind, from these words he completely knew God, knowing God’s disposition and God’s substance and also having some knowledge and understanding of what God has and is, God’s loveliness, and God’s requirements for man. Although at that time there were not as many God’s words as today, yet in Peter these aspects of results were achieved. This was rare and commendable. In experiencing hundreds of trials, Peter did not suffer in vain. In God’s word and God’s work, Peter not only had known himself but also had known God. Besides, in God’s word, he also paid special attention to God’s requirements for man and the respects in which man should satisfy God and be after God’s heart. In this aspect, he could spend great effort to become fully clear about them. This was of great benefit to his entering in. Whatever God’s words were about, so long as they could be his life and were the truth, he engraved them in his heart and often pondered and digested them. When he heard the words Jesus spoke, he could take them to heart, which showed that he paid special attention to God’s word. Eventually, he did achieve the results, that is, he was able to practice God’s word freely, practice the truth accurately, and act exactly as God desired, and was able to act completely according to God’s mind, giving up his own opinions and imaginations. Thus, he had entered into the reality of God’s word. Peter’s service was after God’s heart mainly because he had done this.”
From God’s words, we can see that to step onto the way of Peter, we have to pay some price. Firstly, we must correct our wrong viewpoint of pursuing, forsake our intent of receiving blessings, our extravagant desires, and even our family and all the things of our flesh, and put all our heart and strength into the word of Almighty God, consciously seeking to understand the truth and touching God’s will in God’s word, and trying to understand the true meaning of God’s word. For example, during Peter’s following Jesus, the Lord Jesus once asked him: Have you ever loved me? After hearing this word, Peter began to ponder it. Finally, he understood that, he loved only the Father in heaven and not the Lord on earth, which was not right. The God on earth was the God in heaven; it was unrealistic to love the God in heaven alone, and only loving the God on earth was realistic. He gained the truth from Jesus’ word. Thereafter, he began to pursue to love the God on earth and finally became a pioneer in loving God. Secondly, we must strictly relate to ourselves the words by which God discloses man’s nature, and know our real lacks, our corrupt disposition, and our corrupt substance in God’s work and God’s revealing. Meanwhile, we must also, in God’s word and work, pursue to know God’s substance, understand God’s disposition, know God’s almightiness and wisdom and God’s righteousness and holiness, and know God’s lovely aspects, God’s salvation for man, and so forth. For example, from the steps of the work such as the trial of the service-doer, the trial of the times of chastisement, and the trial of death, we see that God’s working is based on satan’s schemes. God cut off all of people’s ways of escape by making use of their intent of receiving blessings, and then announced that in China there were no sons of God and that all were service-doers and would be kicked out when finishing their services…. Through this way, God revealed the mixture people had within in their years of believing in God—the intent of receiving blessings and the mind of making bargains, and revealed God’s unfathomableness as well as God’s wisdom and wonder in working. In that trial, before people realized anything, God’s work had achieved the results, and satan had thus been shamed and defeated. After experiencing such work of God, we knew God’s wonder and unfathomableness and at the same time realized that we were too small and lacked too much and our bargaining viewpoint was deeply rooted. Thirdly, we must also pay attention to seeking God’s intention for man in God’s word and do our utmost to pursue to satisfy God in God’s requirements. Through practicing the words by which God makes requirements of man, we can also know our lacks and know our corrupt substance and corrupt disposition, and at the same time can gain some substantive knowledge of God’s word. For example, God requires us to be an honest person. Before we practiced this truth, we felt that we were not very crafty. When we practiced it, we discovered that we had been corrupted by satan so deeply that we were full of lies and even could not speak a true word in our prayers to God. Many times we spoke for our intents, spoke for our face, and even would rather go to hell than speak a true word. Only then did we see that it was so difficult for us to speak an honest word, and that we had really been corrupted by satan too deeply and satan’s nature had become our life. And only then did we deeply realize that to be an honest person was not as simple as we had imagined.
The above several aspects of practice are the most essential and crucial ways of practice concerning walking the way of Peter.
Today, we should all imitate Peter, walk the way that Peter walked, and change our previous wrong viewpoint of pursuing; should truly pursue the truth; should spend more effort on God’s word, pondering it carefully and digesting it seriously, and know ourselves and know God from it; should in God’s word understand God’s requirements and find ways of practice so as to practice the truth accurately in everything; and should in our experience seek to know what God is and has and know God’s almightiness and wisdom. Only thus will we truly step onto the way of Peter and can we gain the transformation in our disposition and become new persons.