4. What it is to follow God and what it is to follow man
Relevant Words of God:
Of principal importance in following God is that everything should be according to the words of God today: Whether you are pursuing entry into life or the fulfillment of God’s will, everything should be centered around the words of God today. If what you commune and pursue are not centered around the words of God today, then you are a stranger to the words of God, and totally bereft of the work of the Holy Spirit. What God wants are people who follow His footsteps. No matter how wonderful and pure what you understood before is, God does not want it, and if you are unable to put aside such things, then they will be a tremendous obstacle to your entry in the future. All those who are able to follow the present light of the Holy Spirit are blessed. The people of ages past also followed the footsteps of God, yet they could not follow until today; this is the blessing of the people of the last days. Those who can follow the present work of the Holy Spirit, and who are able to follow the footsteps of God, such that they follow God wherever He leads them—these are people who are blessed by God. Those who do not follow the present work of the Holy Spirit have not entered into the work of God’s words, and no matter how much they work, or how great their suffering, or how much they run about, none of it means anything to God, and He will not commend them. Today, all those who follow the present words of God are in the stream of the Holy Spirit; those who are strangers to the words of God today are outside of the stream of the Holy Spirit, and such people are not commended by God.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Know God’s Newest Work and Follow His Footsteps
In the words that “those who follow God to the end will receive salvation,” the meaning of “follow” is to stand firm in the midst of tribulation. Today, many believe that following God is easy, but when God’s work is about to end, you will know the true meaning of “follow.” Just because you are still able to follow God today after being conquered, this does not prove that you are one of those who will be made perfect. Those who are unable to endure the trials, who are incapable of being victorious amid tribulation will, ultimately, be incapable of standing fast, and so will be unable to follow God to the very end. Those who truly follow God are able to withstand the test of their work, whereas those who do not truly follow God are incapable of withstanding any of God’s trials. Sooner or later they will be expelled, while the overcomers will remain in the kingdom. Whether or not man truly seeks God is determined by the test of his work, that is, by God’s trials, and has nothing to do with the decision by man himself. God does not reject any person on a whim; all that He does can utterly convince man. He does not do anything that is invisible to man, or any work that cannot convince man. Whether man’s belief is true or not is proved by the facts and cannot be decided by man.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Work and Man’s Practice
Do you know what following God means? Without visions, what path would you walk? In the work of today, if you have no visions, you will not at all be able to be made complete. In whom do you believe? Why do you believe in Him? Why do you follow Him? Do you see your faith as a sort of a game? Are you handling your life as a kind of a plaything? The God of today is the greatest vision. How much of Him do you know? How much of Him have you seen? Having seen the God of today, is the foundation of your belief in God solid? Do you think that you will attain salvation as long as you follow along in this muddled way? Do you think you can catch fish in muddy water? Is it that simple? How many notions regarding the words God utters today have you set aside? Do you have a vision of the God of today? Wherein does your understanding of the God of today lie? You always believe that you can obtain Him[a] just by following Him, or just by seeing Him, and that no one will be able to get rid of you. Do not assume that following God is such an easy matter. The key is that you must know Him, you must know His work, and you must have the will to endure hardship for His sake, to sacrifice your life for Him, and to be perfected by Him. This is the vision that you should have. It will not do if your thoughts are always bent on enjoying grace. Do not suppose that God is here just for people’s enjoyment, or just to bestow grace upon them. You would be wrong! If one cannot risk their life to follow Him, and if one cannot abandon every worldly possession to follow, then they will certainly not be able to keep following Him to the end! You must have visions as your foundation. If misfortune befalls you one day, what ought you to do? Would you still be able to follow Him? Do not say lightly whether you would be able to follow to the end. You had better first open wide your eyes to see just what time it is now. Though you may currently be like pillars of the temple, a time will come when all such pillars will be gnawed by worms, causing the temple to collapse, for at present, there are so many visions that you lack. You only pay attention to your own little worlds, and you do not know what the most reliable and appropriate way of seeking is. You do not heed the vision of the work of today, nor do you hold these things in your hearts. Have you considered that one day your God will put you in a most unfamiliar place? Can you imagine what would become of you one day when I might snatch everything from you? Would your energy on that day be as it is now? Would your faith reappear? In following God, you must know this greatest vision that is “God”: This is the most important issue.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. You Must Understand the Work—Do Not Follow in Confusion!
When they have no problems, when everything is going smoothly for them, most people feel that God is mighty, and righteous, and lovely. When God tests them, deals with them, chastens them, and disciplines them, when He asks them to put aside their own interests, to turn their backs on the flesh and practice the truth, when God does work on them, and orchestrates and reigns over their fates and their lives, they become rebellious, and create estrangement between themselves and God; they create conflict and a gulf between them and God. At such times, in their hearts, God is not lovely in the least; He is not at all mighty, for what He does does not fulfill their wishes. God makes them sad; He makes them upset; He brings them pain and suffering; He makes them feel unsettled. They therefore do not submit to God at all, instead rebelling against Him and shunning Him. Are they practicing the truth by doing this? Are they following the way of God? Do they follow God? No. So, regardless of how numerous your notions and imaginings about God’s work are, and regardless of how you previously acted according to your own will and rebelled against God, if you truly pursue the truth, and accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, and accept being pruned and dealt with by God’s words; if, in everything He orchestrates, you are able to follow the way of God, obey God’s words, seek His will, practice in accordance with His words and His will, are able to seek to submit, and can put all your own will, desires, considerations, motivations, and antagonism to God aside—only then are you following God! You say you follow God, but all you do, you do according to your own will. In everything you do, you have your own aims, your own plans; you do not leave it up to God. Is God still your God, then? If God is not your God, then, when you say you follow God, are these not empty words? Are such words not an attempt to fool people? You say you follow God, but all your actions and behaviors, your outlook on life, your values, and the attitude and principles with which you approach and handle matters all come from Satan—you handle all this entirely in accordance with the principles and logic of Satan. So, do you follow God?
… The simplest way to describe belief in God is trusting there is a God, and, on this foundation, following Him, obeying Him, accepting His dominion, orchestrations, and arrangements, listening to His words, living in accordance with His words, doing everything according to His words, being a true created being, and fearing Him and shunning evil; only this is true belief in God. This is what it means to follow God. You say you follow God, but, in your heart, you do not accept God’s words, and you do not accept His dominion, orchestrations, and arrangements. If you always have notions of what God does, and you always misunderstand what He does, and complain about it; if you are always dissatisfied, and you always measure and approach what He does using your own notions and imaginings; if you always have your own understandings—this will cause trouble. You are not experiencing God’s work, and you have no way to follow Him truly. Such is not belief in God.
—“Belief in Religion Will Never Lead to Salvation” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Some people do not rejoice in the truth, much less judgment. Instead, they rejoice in power and riches; such people are called power seekers. They search only for those denominations in the world with influence, and they search only for pastors and teachers that come from seminaries. Though they have accepted the way of truth, they are only half-believing; they are incapable of giving all of their hearts and minds, their mouths speak of expending themselves for God, but their eyes are focused on the great pastors and teachers, and they do not spare Christ a second glance. Their hearts are fixated upon fame, fortune, and glory. They think it out of the question that such a meager person could be capable of conquering so many, that one so unremarkable could perfect man. They think it out of the question that these nobodies among the dust and dunghills are the people chosen by God. They believe that if such people were the objects of God’s salvation, then heaven and earth would be turned upside down, and all people would laugh themselves silly. They believe that if God chose such nobodies to be perfected, then those great men would become God Himself. Their perspectives are tainted with unbelief; more than not believing, they are simply preposterous beasts. For they value only status, prestige, and power, and they esteem only large groups and denominations. They have not the slightest regard for those led by Christ; they are simply traitors who have turned their backs on Christ, on truth, and on life.
What you admire is not the humility of Christ, but those false shepherds of prominent standing. You do not adore the loveliness or wisdom of Christ, but those libertines who wallow in the filth of the world. You laugh at the pain of Christ who has no place to lay His head, but you admire those corpses that hunt for offerings and live in debauchery. You are not willing to suffer alongside Christ, but you gladly throw yourself into the arms of those reckless antichrists, though they only supply you with flesh, words, and control. Even now, your heart still turns toward them, toward their reputation, toward their status, toward their influence. And yet you continue to hold an attitude whereby you find the work of Christ hard to swallow and you are unwilling to accept it. This is why I say that you lack the faith to acknowledge Christ. The reason you have followed Him to this day is only because you had no other option. A series of lofty images are forever towering in your heart; you cannot forget their every word and deed, nor their influential words and hands. They are, in your heart, forever supreme and forever heroes. But this is not so for the Christ of today. He is forever insignificant in your heart, and forever undeserving of reverence. For He is far too ordinary, has far too little influence, and is far from lofty.
In any case, I say that all those who do not value the truth are nonbelievers and traitors to the truth. Such men shall never receive the approval of Christ. Have you now identified how much unbelief is within you, and how much betrayal of Christ you have? I exhort you thus: Since you have chosen the way of truth, then you should devote yourself wholeheartedly; do not be ambivalent or half-hearted. You should understand that God does not belong to the world nor any one person, but to all those who truly believe in Him, all those who worship Him, and all those who are devoted and faithful to Him.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Are You a True Believer in God?
No matter the level of leaders and workers within a church, if you always worship them and rely on them for everything in order to believe in God and achieve salvation, this impetus is wrong in itself. Regardless of their rank among the leadership, they are still common people, and if you see them as your superiors, if you feel that they are higher up than you, that they are greater or more competent than you, and that they should lead you, that they are in all ways a cut above anyone else, then that is wrong—it is your delusion. And what are the consequences that this delusion leads to? This delusion, this flawed understanding will lead you unconsciously to measure your leaders against requirements that do not conform with reality; at the same time, without your knowing it, you will also be profoundly drawn to their so-called flair and panache, or their abilities and talents, such that before you know it, you are worshiping them, and they have become your Gods. That path, from the moment they start to become your role model, the object of your worship, to the moment that you become one of their followers, is one that will lead you unconsciously away from God. And even as you gradually move away from God, you will still believe that you are following God, that you are in the house of God, that you are in the presence of God. Without knowing it, however, you will have been drawn away by someone who has been corrupted by Satan, or even an antichrist. This is a very dangerous state of affairs. In order to resolve this problem, you must therefore be able accurately to understand and discern the different dispositions of the antichrists and the ways in which they operate, as well as the nature of their actions and the methods and tricks they like to use; you must also start by working on yourself. Believing in God yet worshiping man is not the correct path. Some might say: “Well, I do have reasons for worshiping the leaders that I do—the ones I worship are in line with my notions and imaginings.” Why do you insist on worshiping man though you believe in God? When all is said and done, who is it who will save you? Who is it who truly loves you and protects you—can you truly not see? You follow God and listen to His word, and if someone speaks and acts correctly, and accords with the truth principles, is obeying the truth not enough for you? Why are you so base? You insist on finding someone whom you worship to follow—why do you like to be Satan’s slave? Why not be a servant of the truth instead? Look herein to see whether a person has sense and dignity. You should begin by working on yourself, equipping yourself with the truths that differentiate different people and events, developing discernment between all the ways in which each sort of event and person manifests, knowing in all cases what nature and disposition are being revealed; you must also understand what kind of person you are, what kind of people those around you are, and what kind of people are leading you. You must be able to regard them accurately. Once you are equipped with the truth, with this kind of stature, you will not fall easily for the antichrists’ tricks, nor will you fear their deceptions.
—The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. They Behave in Strange and Mysterious Ways, They Are Arbitrary and Dictatorial, They Never Fellowship With Others, and They Force Others to Obey Them
No matter how many people perform their duties in a church, whether there are two or dozens, the moment they lose the work of the Holy Spirit, they are not experiencing the work of God, and they have no connection to and no part in God’s work. They have become a religious group. Aren’t these people in great danger? They never seek the truth when faced with problems and they don’t act according to the truth principles, but are subject to the arrangements and manipulations of human beings. There are even many who, while performing their duty, never pray or seek the truth principles; they only ask others and do as others say, acting on cues from others. Wherever other people may point, there they themselves go. In their faith, they feel that truth-seeking is vague and troublesome, while relying on others and doing what others say is easy and most practical, and so they do what is most straightforward and painless, asking others and doing as they say in everything. As a result, even after believing for many years, when faced with a problem, they have never once come before God, praying and seeking His will and the truth, and then achieving an understanding of the truth, and acting and behaving according to God’s will—they’ve never had such an experience. Do such people really practice faith in God? I wonder: Why, as soon as some people become part of a group, is it easy for them—in form—to instantly change from being someone who believes in God to someone who believes in man, and from being someone who follows God to someone who follows man? Why do they change so quickly? Why do they behave that way even after believing in God for so many years? They’ve believed in God all these years, but oddly, God has never had a place in their hearts. They’ve never had any connection to God. Their actions, words, life, their conduct and handling of matters, even the performance of their duty and their service to God—all that they do, all of the behaviors they reveal, all that they express, and even their every thought or idea—none of this has any connection to faith in God. So is this person one of the true believers? Can the sum of someone’s years in the faith reveal how great their stature in their belief in God is? Is it proof of whether they have a normal relationship with God? Absolutely not.
—“Only by Constantly Living Before God Can One Walk the Path to Salvation” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
No matter how many people believe in God, as soon as their beliefs are defined by Him as being those of a religion or group, He has already determined that they cannot be saved. Why do I say this? In a gang or crowd of people who are without the work and guidance of God, and who do not worship Him at all, whom do they worship? Whom do they follow? In form and name, they follow a person, but whom do they essentially follow? Deep down, they acknowledge God, but in fact, they are subject to human manipulation, arrangements, and control. They follow Satan, the devil; they follow the forces that are hostile to God and that are His enemies. Would God save a pack of people such as this? (No.) Why not? Are they capable of repentance? (No.) They wave the flag of faith, carrying out human enterprises and conducting their own management, and they run counter to God’s management plan for mankind’s salvation. Their final outcome is one of being detested and rejected by God; He could not possibly save these people, they could not possibly repent, they have already been captured by Satan—they are entirely in Satan’s hands. In your faith, does how many years you have believed in God matter to whether or not you are praised by Him? Do the rituals and regulations you abide by matter? Does God look at people’s methods of practice? Does He look at how many people there are? He has selected one portion of mankind; how does He measure whether they can and should be saved? He bases this decision on the paths these people walk. In the Age of Grace, although the truths that God told people were less numerous than today, and not as specific, He could still perfect people at the time, and salvation was still possible. Thus, as for the people of this age who have heard many truths and have come to understand God’s will, if they are incapable of following His way and unable to walk the path of salvation, then what will their final outcome be? Their final outcome will be the same as that of believers in Christianity and Judaism; there will be no difference. This is God’s righteous disposition! Regardless of how many sermons you have heard or how many truths you have understood, if, ultimately, you still follow humans and Satan, and in the end, if you are still incapable of following God’s way and unable to fear Him and shun evil, then such people will be detested and rejected by God. To all appearances, such people who are detested and rejected by God can talk much about letters and doctrines, and may have come to understand many truths, yet they are incapable of worshiping God; they cannot fear God and shun evil, and are incapable of total submission to Him. In God’s eyes, He defines them as part of a religion, as just a group of humans—a gang of humans—and as a lodging place for Satan. They are collectively referred to as Satan’s gang, and these people are utterly despised by God.
—“Only by Constantly Living Before God Can One Walk the Path to Salvation” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
It would be best for those people who claim to follow God to open their eyes and take a good look to see exactly who they believe in: Is it really God that you believe in, or Satan? If you know that what you believe in is not God, but your own idols, then it would be best if you did not claim to be a believer. If you really do not know who you believe in, then, again, it would be best if you did not claim to be a believer. To say so would be blasphemy! No one is forcing you to believe in God. Do not say you believe in Me; I have had enough of such talk, and do not wish to hear it again, because what you believe in are the idols in your hearts and the local bullies among you. Those who shake their heads when they hear the truth, who grin when they hear talk of death, are all the spawn of Satan, and they are the ones who will be eliminated. Many in the church have no discernment. When something deceptive occurs, they unexpectedly stand on the side of Satan; they even take offense at being called Satan’s lackeys. Though people might say they have no discernment, they always stand on the side without truth, they never stand on the side of the truth at the critical time, they never stand up and argue for the truth. Do they truly lack discernment? Why do they unexpectedly take the side of Satan? Why do they never say one word that is fair and reasonable in support of the truth? Has this situation genuinely arisen as a result of their momentary confusion? The less discernment people have, the less able they are to stand on the side of truth. What does this show? Does it not show that people without discernment love evil? Does it not show that they are the loyal spawn of Satan? Why is it that they are always able to stand on the side of Satan and speak its language? Their every word and deed, the expressions on their faces, are all sufficient to prove that they are not any kind of lovers of the truth; rather, they are people who detest the truth. That they can stand on the side of Satan is enough to prove that Satan really loves these petty devils who spend their lives fighting for Satan’s sake. Are all these facts not abundantly clear? If you truly are a person who loves the truth, then why have you no regard for those who practice the truth, and why do you immediately follow those who do not practice the truth at the slightest look from them? What kind of problem is this? I do not care whether you have discernment or not. I do not care how great a price you have paid. I do not care how great your forces are, and I do not care whether you are a local bully or a flag-bearing leader. If your forces are great, then that is only with the help of Satan’s strength. If your prestige is high, then that is merely because there are too many around you who do not practice the truth. If you have not been expelled, then that is because now is not the time for the work of expelling; rather, it is time for the work of elimination. There is no rush to expel you now. I am simply waiting for the day when I will punish you after you have been eliminated. Whoever does not practice the truth will be eliminated!
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. A Warning to Those Who Do Not Practice the Truth
a. The original text does not contain the word “Him.”