38. The Principles of Choosing a Path in One’s Faith
(1) It is necessary to seek to submit to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, to attain the work of the Holy Spirit, and to practice and experience God’s words. Only thus can one set foot upon the right track of believing in God;
(2) It is necessary to know that Christ alone is the truth, the way, and the life. Follow Christ alone; it is never in error to practice according to His words;
(3) It is necessary to emulate Peter by engaging in frequent self-reflection and working toward self-knowledge, seeking to love God with one’s heart, and requiting God’s love by means of practical action;
(4) It is necessary to gain an accurate grasp of God’s will in accordance with His current words, and to seek to understand the truth and come to know God. Only thus can one follow the way of God.
Relevant Words of God:
Most people believe in God for the sake of their future destination, or for temporary enjoyment. For those who have not undergone any dealing, they believe in God in order to enter into heaven, in order to gain rewards. They do not believe in God in order to be made perfect, or to perform the duty of a creature of God. Which is to say that most people do not believe in God in order to fulfill their responsibilities, or to complete their duty. Rarely do people believe in God in order to lead meaningful lives, nor are there those who believe that, since man is alive, he should love God because it is ordained by Heaven and acknowledged by earth to do so, and is the natural vocation of man. In this way, although different people each pursue their own goals, the aim of their pursuit and the motivation behind it are all alike, and, what is more, for most of them the objects of their worship are much the same. Over the last several thousand years, many believers have died, and many have died and been born again. It is not just one or two people who seek after God, nor even one or two thousand, yet most of these people pursue for the sake of their own prospects or their glorious hopes for the future. Those who are devoted to Christ are few and far between. Many devout believers have still died ensnared in their own nets, and the number of people who have been victorious, moreover, is pifflingly small. To this day, the reasons why people fail, or the secrets of their victory, are still unknown to them. Those who are obsessed with seeking after Christ have still not had their moment of sudden insight, they have not gotten to the bottom of these mysteries, because they simply do not know. Though they make painstaking efforts in their pursuit, the path they walk is the path of failure once walked by their predecessors, and not the path of success. In this way, regardless of how they seek, do they not walk the path that leads to darkness? Is what they gain not bitter fruit? It is hard enough to predict whether the people who emulate those who succeeded in times past will ultimately come to fortune or calamity. How much worse are the odds, then, for the people who seek by following in the footsteps of those who failed? Do they not stand an even greater chance of failure? What value is there to the path they walk? Are they not wasting their time? Irrespective of whether people succeed or fail in their pursuit, there is, in short, a reason why they do so, and it is not the case that their success or failure is determined by seeking however they please.
Excerpted from “Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The most fundamental requirement of man’s belief in God is that he have an honest heart, and that he fully devote himself, and truly obey. What is hardest for man is to provide his whole life in exchange for true belief, through which he can gain the entire truth, and fulfill his duty as a creature of God. This is what is unattainable by those who fail, and it is even more unattainable by those who cannot find Christ. Because man is not good at wholly devoting himself to God, because man is not willing to perform his duty to the Creator, because man has seen the truth but avoids it and walks his own path, because man always seeks by following the path of those who have failed, because man always defies Heaven, thus, man always fails, is always taken in by Satan’s trickery, and is ensnared in his own net. Because man does not know Christ, because man is not adept at understanding and experiencing the truth, because man is too worshipful of Paul and too covetous of heaven, because man is always demanding that Christ obey him and ordering God about, thus those great figures and those who have experienced the vicissitudes of the world are still mortal, and still die amid God’s chastisement. All I can say of such people is that they die a tragic death, and that the consequence for them—their death—is not without justification. Is their failure not even more intolerable to the law of Heaven? The truth comes from the world of man, yet the truth among man is passed on by Christ. It originates from Christ, that is, from God Himself, and this is not something man is capable of. Yet Christ provides only the truth; He does not come to decide whether man will be successful in his pursuit of the truth. Thus it follows that success or failure in the truth is all down to man’s pursuit. Man’s success or failure in the truth has never had anything to do with Christ, but is instead determined by his pursuit. Man’s destination and his success or failure cannot be heaped upon the head of God, so that God Himself is made to bear it, because this is not a matter for God Himself, but is directly related to the duty that the creatures of God should perform. Most people do have a little knowledge of the pursuit and destination of Paul and Peter, yet people know nothing more than the outcomes of Peter and Paul, and are ignorant of the secret behind Peter’s success, or the deficiencies that led to Paul’s failure. And so, if you are completely incapable of seeing through to the essence of their pursuit, then the pursuit of most of you will still fail, and even if a small number of you will be successful, still they will not be the equal of Peter. If the path of your pursuit is the right one, then you have a hope of success; if the path you tread in pursuit of the truth is the wrong one, then you will forever be incapable of success, and will meet the same end as Paul.
Excerpted from “Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Peter was a man who was made perfect. Only after experiencing chastisement and judgment, and thus gaining a pure love for God, was he fully made perfect; the path he walked was the path of being made perfect. Which is to say that, from the very beginning, the path that Peter walked was the right one, and his motivation for believing in God was the right one, and so he became someone who was made perfect and he trod a new path that man had never walked upon before. However, the path that Paul had walked upon since the beginning was the path of opposition to Christ, and it was only because the Holy Spirit wished to use him, and to take advantage of his gifts and all his merits for His work, that he worked for Christ for several decades. He was merely someone who was used by the Holy Spirit, and he was not used because Jesus looked favorably upon his humanity, but because of his gifts. He was able to work for Jesus because he was struck down, not because he was happy to do so. He was able to do such work because of the enlightenment and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the work he did by no means represented his pursuit, or his humanity. The work of Paul represented the work of a servant, which is to say that he did the work of an apostle. Peter, though, was different: He also did some work; it was not as great as the work of Paul, but he worked whilst pursuing his own entry, and his work was different from the work of Paul. Peter’s work was the performance of the duty of a creature of God. He did not work in the role of an apostle, but worked whilst pursuing the love for God. The course of Paul’s work also contained his personal pursuit: His pursuit was for the sake of nothing more than his hopes for the future, and his desire for a good destination. He did not accept refinement during his work, nor did he accept pruning and dealing. He believed that as long as the work he did satisfied God’s desire, and all that he did was pleasing to God, then a reward ultimately awaited him. There were no personal experiences in his work—it was all for its own sake, and not carried out amid the pursuit of change. Everything in his work was a transaction, it contained none of the duty or submission of a creature of God. During the course of his work, there occurred no change in Paul’s old disposition. His work was merely of service to others, and was incapable of bringing about changes in his disposition. Paul carried out his work directly, without having been made perfect or dealt with, and he was motivated by reward. Peter was different: He was someone who had undergone pruning and dealing and had undergone refinement. The aim and motivation of the work of Peter were fundamentally different to those of Paul. Although Peter did not do a large amount of work, his disposition underwent many changes, and what he sought was the truth, and real change. His work was not carried out simply for the sake of the work itself. Although Paul did much work, it was all the work of the Holy Spirit, and even though Paul cooperated in this work, he did not experience it. That Peter did much less work was only because the Holy Spirit did not do that much work through him. The quantity of their work did not determine whether they were made perfect; the pursuit of one was in order to receive rewards, and that of the other was in order to achieve an ultimate love for God, and fulfill his duty as a creature of God, to the extent that he could live out a lovely image in order to satisfy God’s desire. Externally they were different, and so too were their essences different. You cannot determine who of them was made perfect based on how much work they did. Peter sought to live out the image of one who loves God, to be someone who obeyed God, to be someone who accepted dealing and pruning, and to be someone who fulfilled his duty as a creature of God. He was able to devote himself to God, to put the entirety of himself in the hands of God, and obey Him until death. That was what he resolved to do and, moreover, that was what he achieved. This is the fundamental reason why finally his end was different to that of Paul. The work that the Holy Spirit did in Peter was to make him perfect, and the work that the Holy Spirit did in Paul was to use him. That is because their natures and their views toward pursuit were not the same. Both had the work of the Holy Spirit. Peter applied this work to himself, and also provided it to others; Paul, meanwhile, only provided the entirety of the work of the Holy Spirit to others, and gained nothing from it himself. In this way, after he had experienced the work of the Holy Spirit for so many years, the changes in Paul were close to non-existent. He still remained almost in his natural state, and he was still the Paul of before. It was merely that after enduring the hardship of many years of work, he had learned how to “work,” and had learned endurance, but his old nature—his highly competitive and mercenary nature—still remained. After working for so many years, he did not know his corrupt disposition, nor had he rid himself of his old disposition, and it was still clearly visible in his work. In him there was merely more work experience, but such little experience alone was incapable of changing him and could not alter his views about existence or the significance of his pursuit. Though he worked many years for Christ, and never again persecuted the Lord Jesus, in his heart there was no change in his knowledge of God. This means that he did not work in order to devote himself to God, but rather he was compelled to work for the sake of his future destination. For, in the beginning, he persecuted Christ, and did not submit to Christ; he was inherently a rebel who deliberately opposed Christ, and someone who had no knowledge of the work of the Holy Spirit. When his work was almost concluded, still he did not know the work of the Holy Spirit, and merely acted of his own accord pursuant to his own character, without paying the slightest attention to the will of the Holy Spirit. And so his nature was in enmity to Christ and did not obey the truth. Someone like this, who had been forsaken by the work of the Holy Spirit, who did not know the work of the Holy Spirit, and who also opposed Christ—how could such a person be saved? Whether or not man can be saved does not depend on how much work he does, or how much he devotes, but is instead determined by whether or not he knows the work of the Holy Spirit, whether or not he can put the truth into practice, and whether or not his views toward pursuit are in conformity with the truth.
Excerpted from “Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Peter was made perfect through experiencing dealing and refinement. He said, “I must satisfy God’s desire at all times. In all that I do I only seek to satisfy God’s desire, and whether I am chastised, or judged, still I am happy to do so.” Peter gave his all to God, and his work, words, and entire life were all for the sake of loving God. He was someone who sought holiness, and the more he experienced, the greater was his love for God deep within his heart. Paul, meanwhile, did only outward work, and though he also worked hard, his labors were for the sake of doing his work properly and thus gaining a reward. Had he known that he would receive no reward, he would have given up his work. What Peter cared about was the true love within his heart, and that which was practical and could be achieved. He did not care about whether he would receive a reward, but about whether his disposition could be changed. Paul cared about working ever harder, he cared about outward work and devotion, and about the doctrines not experienced by normal people. He cared nothing for changes deep within him nor for the true love for God. The experiences of Peter were in order to achieve true love and true knowledge of God. His experiences were in order to gain a closer relationship to God, and to have a practical living out. The work of Paul was done because of that entrusted to him by Jesus, and in order to obtain the things that he longed for, yet these were unrelated to his knowledge of himself and God. His work was solely for the sake of escaping chastisement and judgment. What Peter sought was pure love, and what Paul sought was the crown of righteousness. Peter experienced many years of the work of the Holy Spirit, and had a practical knowledge of Christ, as well as a profound knowledge of himself. And so, his love of God was pure. Many years of refinement had elevated his knowledge of Jesus and life, and his love was an unconditional love, it was a spontaneous love, and he asked for nothing in return, nor did he hope for any benefits. Paul worked for many years, yet he did not possess a great knowledge of Christ, and his knowledge of himself was also pitiably small. He simply had no love for Christ, and his work and the course that he ran were in order to obtain the final laurel. What he sought was the finest crown, not the purest love. He did not seek actively, but passively; he was not performing his duty, but was compelled in his pursuit after having been seized by the work of the Holy Spirit. And so, his pursuit does not prove that he was a qualified creature of God; it was Peter who was a qualified creature of God who performed his duty. Man thinks that all those who make a contribution to God should receive a reward, and that the greater the contribution, the more it is taken for granted that they should receive God’s favor. The essence of man’s viewpoint is transactional, and he does not actively seek to perform his duty as a creature of God. For God, the more that people seek a true love for God and complete obedience to God, which also means seeking to perform their duty as a creature of God, the more they are able to gain God’s approval. God’s viewpoint is to demand that man recover his original duty and status. Man is a creature of God, and so man should not overstep himself by making any demands of God, and should do nothing more than perform his duty as a creature of God. The destinations of Paul and Peter were measured according to whether they could perform their duty as creatures of God, and not according to the size of their contribution; their destinations were determined according to that which they sought from the beginning, not according to how much work they did, or other people’s estimation of them. And so, seeking to actively perform one’s duty as a creature of God is the path to success; seeking the path of the true love for God is the most correct path; seeking changes in one’s old disposition, and seeking the pure love for God, is the path to success. Such a path to success is the path of the recovery of the original duty as well as the original appearance of a creature of God. It is the path of recovery, and it is also the aim of all of God’s work from beginning to end. If the pursuit of man is tainted with personal extravagant demands and irrational longings, then the effect that is achieved will not be changes in man’s disposition. This is at odds with the work of recovery. It is undoubtedly not work done by the Holy Spirit, and so this proves that pursuit of this kind is not approved of by God. What significance has a pursuit that is not approved of by God?
The work done by Paul was exhibited before man, but as for how pure his love for God was and how much He loved God deep down in his heart—these things man cannot see. Man can only behold the work that he did, from which man knows that he was surely used by the Holy Spirit, and so man thinks that Paul was better than Peter, that his work was greater, for he was able to provide to the churches. Peter only looked to his personal experiences and gained but a few people during his occasional work. From him there are but a few little-known epistles, but who knows how great was his love for God deep within his heart? Day in, day out, Paul worked for God: As long as there was work to be done, he did it. He felt that in this way he would be able to gain the crown, and could satisfy God, yet he did not seek ways to change himself through his work. Anything in Peter’s life that did not satisfy God’s desire made him feel uneasy. If it did not satisfy God’s desire, then he would feel remorseful, and would look for a suitable way by which he could strive to satisfy God’s heart. In even the smallest and most inconsequential aspects of his life, still he required himself to satisfy God’s desire. He was no less exacting when it came to his old disposition, ever rigorous in his requirements of himself to progress deeper into the truth. Paul sought only superficial reputation and status. He sought to show himself off before man, and did not seek to make any deeper progress in life entry. What he cared about was doctrine, not reality. Some people say, “Paul did so much work for God, why was he not remembered by God? Peter carried out but a little work for God, and did not make a great contribution to the churches, so why was he made perfect?” Peter loved God to a certain point, which was required by God; only such people as this have testimony. And what of Paul? To what degree did Paul love God? Do you know? What was Paul’s work done for? And what was Peter’s work done for? Peter did not do much work, but do you know what was deep within his heart? The work of Paul pertained to the provision to the churches, and the support of the churches. What Peter experienced were changes in his life disposition; he experienced the love for God. Now that you know the differences in their essences, you can see who, ultimately, truly believed in God, and who did not truly believe in God. One of them truly loved God, and the other did not truly love God; one underwent changes in his disposition, and the other did not; one served humbly, and was not easily noticed by people, and the other was worshiped by people, and was of great image; one sought holiness, and the other did not, and though he was not impure, he was not possessed of a pure love; one was possessed of true humanity, and the other was not; one was possessed of the sense of a creature of God, and the other was not. Such are the differences in the essences of Paul and Peter. The path that Peter walked was the path of success, which was also the path of achieving the recovery of normal humanity and the recovery of the duty of a creature of God. Peter represents all those who are successful. The path walked by Paul was the path of failure, and he represents all those who only submit and expend themselves superficially, and do not genuinely love God. Paul represents all those who do not possess the truth. In his belief in God, Peter sought to satisfy God in everything, and sought to obey all that came from God. Without the slightest complaint, he was able to accept chastisement and judgment, as well as refinement, tribulation and going without in his life, none of which could alter his love for God. Was this not the ultimate love for God? Was this not the fulfillment of the duty of a creature of God? Whether in chastisement, judgment, or tribulation, you are always capable of achieving obedience unto death, and this is what should be achieved by a creature of God, this is the purity of the love for God. If man can achieve this much, then he is a qualified creature of God, and there is nothing which better satisfies the desire of the Creator. Imagine that you are able to work for God, yet you do not obey God, and are incapable of truly loving God. In this way, not only will you not have fulfilled the duty of a creature of God, but you will also be condemned by God, for you are someone who does not possess the truth, who is incapable of obeying God, and who is disobedient to God. You only care about working for God, and do not care about putting the truth into practice or knowing yourself. You do not understand or know the Creator, and do not obey or love the Creator. You are someone who is innately disobedient to God, and so such people are not beloved by the Creator.
When man measures others, he does so according to their contribution. When God measures man, He does so according to man’s nature. Among those who seek life, Paul was someone who did not know his own substance. He was by no means humble or obedient, nor did he know his essence, which was in opposition to God. And so, he was someone who had not undergone detailed experiences, and was someone who did not put the truth into practice. Peter was different. He knew his imperfections, weaknesses, and his corrupt disposition as a creature of God, and so he had a path of practice through which to change his disposition; he was not one of those who only had doctrine but possessed no reality. Those who change are new people who have been saved, they are those who are qualified in pursuing the truth. People who do not change belong to those who are naturally obsolete; they are those who have not been saved, that is, those who are detested and rejected by God. They will not be remembered by God no matter how great their work. When you compare this with your own pursuit, whether you are ultimately the same kind of person as Peter or Paul should be self-evident. If there is still no truth in what you seek, and if even today you are still as arrogant and insolent as Paul, and are still as glib and boastful as him, then you are without doubt a degenerate who fails. If you seek the same as Peter, if you seek practices and true changes, and are not arrogant or willful, but seek to perform your duty, then you will be a creature of God who can achieve victory.
All that Peter sought was after God’s heart. He sought to fulfill God’s desire, and regardless of the suffering and adversity, still he was willing to fulfill God’s desire. There is no greater pursuit by a believer in God. What Paul sought was tainted by his own flesh, by his own notions, and by his own plans and schemes. He was by no means a qualified creature of God, was not someone who sought to fulfill God’s desire. Peter sought to submit to God’s orchestrations, and although the work he did was not great, the motivation behind his pursuit and the path that he walked were right; though he was not able to gain many people, he was able to pursue the way of truth. Because of this it can be said that he was a qualified creature of God. Today, even if you are not a worker, you should be able to perform the duty of a creature of God and seek to submit to all of God’s orchestrations. You should be able to obey whatever God says, and experience all manner of tribulations and refinement, and though you are weak, in your heart you should still be able to love God. Those who take responsibility for their own life are willing to perform the duty of a creature of God, and such people’s viewpoint about pursuit is the right one. These are the people that God needs. If you did much work, and others gained your teachings, but you yourself did not change, and did not bear any testimony, or have any true experience, such that at the end of your life, still none of what you have done bears testimony, then are you someone who has changed? Are you someone who pursues the truth? At the time, the Holy Spirit used you, but when He used you, He used the part of you that could be used to work, and He did not use the part of you that could not be used. If you sought to change, then you would gradually be made perfect during the process of being used. Yet the Holy Spirit accepts no responsibility for whether or not you will ultimately be gained, and this depends on the manner of your pursuit. If there are no changes in your personal disposition, then that is because your viewpoint toward pursuit is wrong. If you are granted no reward, then that is your own problem, and because you yourself have not put the truth into practice and are unable to fulfill God’s desire. And so, nothing is of greater importance than your personal experiences, and nothing is more critical than your personal entry! Some people will end up saying, “I’ve done so much work for You, and though I may not have made any celebrated achievements, still I have been diligent in my efforts. Can’t You just let me into heaven to eat the fruit of life?” You must know what kind of people I desire; those who are impure are not permitted to enter into the kingdom, those who are impure are not permitted to besmirch the holy ground. Though you may have done much work, and worked for many years, in the end if you are still deplorably filthy, then it will be intolerable to the law of Heaven that you wish to enter My kingdom! From the foundation of the world until today, never have I offered easy access to My kingdom to those who curry favor with Me. This is a heavenly rule, and no one can break it! You must seek life. Today, those who will be made perfect are the same kind as Peter: They are those who seek changes in their own disposition, and who are willing to bear testimony to God and perform their duty as a creature of God. Only people such as this will be made perfect. If you only look to rewards, and do not seek to change your own life disposition, then all your efforts will be in vain—this is an unalterable truth!
From the difference in the essences of Peter and Paul you should understand that all those who do not pursue life labor in vain! You believe in God and follow God, and so in your heart you must love God. You must cast aside your corrupt disposition, you must seek to fulfill God’s desire, and you must perform the duty of a creature of God. Since you believe in and follow God, you should offer everything to Him, and should not make personal choices or demands, and you should achieve the fulfillment of God’s desire. Since you were created, you should obey the Lord that created you, for you are inherently without dominion over yourself, and have no ability to control your own destiny. Since you are a person who believes in God, you should seek holiness and change. Since you are a creature of God, you should adhere to your duty, and keep your place, and you must not overstep your duty. This is not to constrain you, or to suppress you through doctrine, but is instead the path through which you can perform your duty, and it can be achieved—and should be achieved—by all those who do righteousness. If you compare the essences of Peter and Paul, then you will know how you should seek. Of the paths walked by Peter and Paul, one is the path of being made perfect, and one is the path of elimination; Peter and Paul represent two different paths. Though each received the work of the Holy Spirit, and each gained the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit, and each accepted that which had been entrusted to them by the Lord Jesus, the fruit borne in each was not the same: One truly bore fruit, and the other did not. From their essences, the work that they did, that which was outwardly expressed by them, and their final ends, you should understand which path you should take, which path you should choose to walk upon. They walked two clearly different paths. Paul and Peter, they were the quintessence of each path, and so from the very start they were held up to typify these two paths. What are the key points of Paul’s experiences, and why did he not make it? What are the key points of Peter’s experiences, and how did he experience being made perfect? If you compare what they each cared about, then you will know what exact kind of person God wants, what the will of God is, what the disposition of God is, what kind of person will ultimately be made perfect, and also what kind of person will not be made perfect; you will know what the disposition is of those who will be made perfect, and what the disposition is of those who will not be made perfect—these issues of essence can be seen in the experiences of Peter and Paul. God created all things, and so He makes all creation come under His dominion and submit to His dominion; He will command all things, so that all things are in His hands. All of God’s creation, including animals, plants, mankind, the mountains and rivers, and the lakes—all must come under His dominion. All things in the skies and on the ground must come under His dominion. They cannot have any choice and must all submit to His orchestrations. This was decreed by God, and it is the authority of God. God commands everything, and orders and ranks all things, with each classed according to kind, and allotted their own position, according to God’s will. No matter how great it is, no thing can surpass God, all things serve the mankind created by God, and no thing dares to disobey God or make any demands of God. Therefore man, as a creature of God, must also perform the duty of man. Regardless of whether he is the lord or caretaker of all things, no matter how high man’s status among all things, still he is but a small human being under the dominion of God, and is no more than an insignificant human being, a creature of God, and he will never be above God. As a creature of God, man should seek to perform the duty of a creature of God, and seek to love God without making other choices, for God is worthy of man’s love. Those who seek to love God should not seek any personal benefits or seek that which they personally long for; this is the most correct means of pursuit. If what you seek is the truth, if what you put into practice is the truth, and if what you attain is a change in your disposition, then the path that you tread is the right one. If what you seek is the blessings of the flesh, and what you put into practice is the truth of your own notions, and if there is no change in your disposition, and you are not at all obedient to God in the flesh, and you still live in vagueness, then what you seek will surely take you to hell, for the path that you walk is the path of failure. Whether you will be made perfect or eliminated depends on your own pursuit, which is also to say that success or failure depends on the path that man walks.