God Himself, the Unique II
God’s Righteous Disposition
Now that you have heard the previous fellowship about God’s authority, I am confident that you are equipped with a good many words on the matter. How much you can accept, grasp and understand all depends on how much effort you apply to it. It is My hope that you can approach this matter earnestly; by no means should you engage with it half-heartedly! Now, is knowing God’s authority equal to knowing God’s entirety? One can say that knowing God’s authority is the beginning of knowing God Himself, the unique, and one could also say that knowing God’s authority means that one has already stepped through the gate of knowing the substance of God Himself, the unique. This understanding is one part of knowing God. So, what is the other part? This is the subject that I would like to fellowship about today—God’s righteous disposition.
I have selected two sections from the Bible with which to fellowship about today’s topic: The first concerns God’s destruction of Sodom, which can be found in Genesis 19:1–11 and Genesis 19:24–25; the second concerns God’s deliverance of Nineveh, which can be found in Jonah 1:1–2, in addition to the third and fourth chapters of the book of Jonah. I suspect that you are all waiting to hear what I have to say about these two sections. What I say naturally cannot stray beyond the scope of knowing God Himself and knowing His substance, but what will be the focus of today’s fellowship? Do any of you know? Which parts of My fellowship on God’s authority caught your attention? Why did I say that only the One who possesses such authority and power is God Himself? What did I wish to elucidate by saying that? What did I wish for you to learn from it? Are God’s authority and power one aspect of how His substance is expressed? Are they a part of His substance, a part that proves His identity and status? Judging from these questions, can you tell what I am going to say? What do I want you to understand? Think this over carefully.
For Stubbornly Opposing God, Man Is Destroyed by God’s Wrath
First, let us look at several passages of scripture which describe God’s destruction of Sodom.
Gen 19:1–11 And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and you shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, No; but we will abide in the street all night. And he pressed on them greatly; and they turned in to him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat. But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called to Lot, and said to him, Where are the men which came in to you this night? bring them out to us, that we may know them. And Lot went out at the door to them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brothers, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out to you, and do you to them as is good in your eyes: only to these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with you, than with them. And they pressed sore on the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door. But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.
Gen 19:24–25 Then Jehovah rained on Sodom and on Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Jehovah out of heaven; And He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew on the ground.
From these passages, it is not difficult to see that Sodom’s wickedness and corruption had already reached a degree detestable to both man and God, and that in the eyes of God the city therefore deserved to be destroyed. But what happened inside the city before it was destroyed? What inspiration can people draw from these events? What does God’s attitude toward these events show people about His disposition? In order to understand the whole story, let us carefully read what was recorded in the Scripture …
Sodom’s Corruption: Infuriating to Man, Enraging to God
On that night, Lot received two messengers from God and prepared a feast for them. After dining, before they had lain down, people from all over the city surrounded Lot’s residence and called out to him. The Scripture records them as saying, “Where are the men which came in to you this night? bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Who said these words? To whom were they spoken? These were the words of the people of Sodom, yelled outside Lot’s residence and meant for Lot to hear. How does it feel to hear these words? Are you furious? Do these words sicken you? Are you simmering with rage? Do these words not reek of Satan? Through them, can you sense the evil and darkness in this city? Can you sense the brutality and barbarity of these people’s behavior through their words? Can you sense the depth of their corruption through their behavior? Through the content of their speech, it is not difficult to see that their wicked nature and savage disposition had reached a level beyond their own control. Save for Lot, every last person in this city was no different from Satan; the mere sight of another person made these people want to harm and devour them…. These things not only give one a sense of the city’s ghastly and terrifying nature, as well as the aura of death around it, but they also give one a sense of its wickedness and bloodiness.
As he found himself face-to-face with a gang of inhuman thugs, people who were filled with the wild desire to devour human souls, how did Lot respond? According to the Scripture: “I pray you, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out to you, and do you to them as is good in your eyes: only to these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.” What Lot meant by these words was this: He was willing to give up his two daughters in order to protect the messengers. By any reasonable calculation, these people should have agreed to Lot’s conditions and left the two messengers alone; after all, the messengers were perfect strangers to them, people who had absolutely nothing to do with them and had never harmed their interests. However, motivated by their wicked nature, they did not let the matter rest, but rather intensified their efforts. Here, another one of their exchanges can undoubtedly give people further insight into these people’s true, vicious nature, while at the same time it also enables people to comprehend and understand the reason why God wished to destroy this city.
So what did they say next? As the Bible reads: “Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with you, than with them. And they pressed sore on the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.” Why did they want to break down Lot’s door? The reason is that they were anxious to inflict harm on those two messengers. What brought these messengers to Sodom? Their purpose in coming there was to save Lot and his family, but the people of the city mistakenly thought that they had come to assume official posts. Without asking the messengers’ purpose, the people of the city based their desire to savagely harm these two messengers purely on conjecture; they wished to harm two people who had nothing whatsoever to do with them. It is clear that the people of this city had utterly lost their humanity and reason. The degree of their insanity and wildness was already no different from Satan’s vicious nature by which it harms and devours men.
When they demanded that Lot hand over these people, what did Lot do? From the text we know that Lot did not hand them over. Did Lot know these two messengers of God? Of course not! Yet why was he able to save these two people? Did he know what they had come to do? Although he was unaware of their reason for coming, he did know that they were God’s servants, and so he took them into his house. That he could call these servants of God by the title “lord” shows that Lot was a habitual follower of God, unlike the other people of Sodom. Therefore, when God’s messengers came to him, he risked his own life to take these two servants into his house; furthermore, he also offered up his two daughters in exchange in order to protect these two servants. This was Lot’s righteous deed; it was a tangible expression of Lot’s nature and substance, and it was also the reason God sent His servants to save Lot. When faced with peril, Lot protected these two servants without regard for anything else; he even attempted to trade his two daughters in exchange for the servants’ safety. Other than Lot, was there anyone else inside the city who would have done something like this? As the facts prove—no, there was not! Therefore, it goes without saying that everyone inside Sodom, save for Lot, was a target for destruction, and rightly so—they deserved it.
Sodom Is Utterly Annihilated for Offending God’s Wrath
When the people of Sodom saw these two servants, they did not ask their reason for coming, nor did anyone ask whether they had come to spread God’s will. On the contrary, they formed a mob and, without waiting for an explanation, came like wild dogs or vicious wolves to seize these two servants. Did God watch these things as they happened? What was God thinking in His heart about this kind of human behavior, this kind of event? God made up His mind to destroy this city; He would not hesitate or wait, nor would He show any more patience. His day had come, and so He set about the work He wished to do. Thus, Genesis 19:24–25 says, “Then Jehovah rained on Sodom and on Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Jehovah out of heaven; And He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew on the ground.” These two verses tell of the method by which God destroyed this city as well as the things God destroyed. First, the Bible recounts that God burned the city with fire, and that the extent of this fire was enough to destroy all the people and all that which grew on the ground. That is to say, the fire, which fell from heaven, not only destroyed the city, it also destroyed all the people and living things inside it, until not a single trace remained. After the city was destroyed, the land was left bereft of living things; there was no more life, nor any signs of life at all. The city had become a wasteland, an empty place filled with deathly silence. There would be no more evil deeds committed against God in this place, no more slaughter or blood spilled.
Why did God want to burn this city so thoroughly? What can you see here? Could God really bear to watch mankind and nature, His own creations, be destroyed like this? If you can discern Jehovah God’s anger from the fire that was cast down from heaven, then it is not difficult to see how great His rage was, judging by the targets of His destruction and the degree to which this city was annihilated. When God despises a city, He will deliver His punishment upon it. When God is disgusted with a city, He will issue repeated warnings to inform people of His anger. However, when God decides to put an end to and destroy a city—that is, when His wrath and majesty have been offended—He will deliver no further punishments or warnings. Instead, He will directly destroy it. He will make it utterly disappear. This is God’s righteous disposition.
After Sodom’s Repeated Hostility and Resistance Toward Him, God Utterly Eradicates It
Now that we have a general understanding of God’s righteous disposition, we may return our attention to the city of Sodom—a place that God saw as a city of sin. By understanding the substance of this city, we can understand why God wanted to destroy it and why He destroyed it so completely. From this, we can come to know God’s righteous disposition.
From a human perspective, Sodom was a city that could fully satisfy man’s desire and man’s evil. Alluring and bewitching, with music and dancing night after night, its prosperity drove men to fascination and madness. Its evil corroded people’s hearts and bewitched them into depravity. This was a city where unclean and evil spirits ran amok; it brimmed with sin and murder and the air was thick with a bloody, putrid stench. It was a city that made people’s blood run cold, a city from which one would shrink away in horror. No one in this city—neither man nor woman, young nor old—sought the true way; no one yearned for the light or longed to walk away from sin. They lived under Satan’s control, beneath Satan’s corruption and deceit. They had lost their humanity, they had lost their senses, and they had lost man’s original goal of existence. They committed countless wicked deeds of resistance against God; they refused His guidance and opposed His will. It was their wicked deeds that carried these people, the city and every living thing inside it, step by step, down the path of destruction.
Although these two passages do not record all of the details regarding the extent of the corruption of the people of Sodom, instead recording their conduct toward God’s two servants following the latter’s arrival in the city, there is a simple fact that reveals the extent to which the people of Sodom were corrupt, evil and resisted God. With this, the true face and substance of the city’s people are also exposed. These people not only refused to accept God’s warnings, but they also did not fear His punishment. On the contrary, they scorned God’s anger. They blindly resisted God. No matter what He did or how He did it, their vicious nature only intensified, and they repeatedly opposed God. The people of Sodom were hostile toward God’s existence, His coming, His punishment, and even more so, His warnings. They were exceedingly arrogant. They devoured and harmed all people that could be devoured and harmed, and they treated God’s servants no differently. In regard to all of the wicked deeds committed by the people of Sodom, harming God’s servants was only the tip of the iceberg, and their wicked nature that was thus revealed actually amounted to no more than a drop in a vast sea. Therefore, God chose to destroy them with fire. God did not use a flood, nor did He use a hurricane, earthquake, tsunami or any other method to destroy the city. What did God’s use of fire to destroy this city signify? It meant the city’s total destruction; it meant that the city vanished entirely from the earth and from existence. Here, “destruction” not only refers to the vanishing of the city’s form and structure or outer appearance; it also means that the souls of the people inside the city ceased to exist, having been utterly eradicated. Simply put, all people, events and things associated with the city were destroyed. There would be no next life or reincarnation for the people of that city; God had eradicated them from the humanity of His creation, for all eternity. The use of fire signified an end to sin in this place, and that sin had been curbed there; this sin would cease to exist and spread. It meant that Satan’s evil had lost its nurturing soil as well as the graveyard that granted it a place to stay and to live. In the war between God and Satan, God’s use of fire is the brand of His victory with which Satan is marked. Sodom’s destruction is a great misstep in Satan’s ambition to oppose God by corrupting and devouring men, and it is likewise a humiliating sign of a time in humanity’s development when man rejected God’s guidance and abandoned himself to vice. Furthermore, it is a record of a true revelation of God’s righteous disposition.
When the fire sent by God from heaven had reduced Sodom to nothing more than ashes, it meant that the city named “Sodom” thereafter ceased to exist, as did everything within the city. It was destroyed by God’s anger, vanishing within God’s wrath and majesty. Because of God’s righteous disposition, Sodom received its just punishment and its rightful end. The end of Sodom’s existence was due to its evil, and it was also due to God’s desire to never again look upon this city or any of the people who had lived in it or any life that had grown within the city. God’s “desire to never again look upon the city” is His wrath, as well as His majesty. God burned the city because its wickedness and sin caused Him to feel anger, disgust and loathing toward it and to wish never to see it or any of the people or living things inside it ever again. Once the city had finished burning, leaving only ashes behind, it had truly ceased to exist in God’s eyes; even His memory of it was gone, erased. This means that the fire sent from heaven not only destroyed the entire city of Sodom, nor did it only destroy the people inside the city who were so filled with sin, nor did it only destroy all things inside the city that had been tainted by sin; beyond just these things, the fire also destroyed the memory of humanity’s evil and resistance against God. This was God’s purpose in burning the city down.
This humanity had become corrupt in the extreme. These people did not know who God was or where they themselves had come from. If you mentioned God to them, they would attack, slander, and blaspheme. Even when God’s servants had come to spread His warning, these corrupt people not only showed no signs of repentance and did not abandon their wicked conduct, but on the contrary, they brazenly harmed God’s servants. What they expressed and revealed was their nature and their substance of extreme hostility toward God. We can see that these corrupt people’s resistance against God was more than a revelation of their corrupt disposition, just as it was more than an instance of slandering or mocking which simply stemmed from a lack of understanding of the truth. Neither stupidity nor ignorance caused their wicked conduct; they acted in this way not because they had been deceived, and it was certainly not because they had been misled. Their conduct had reached the level of flagrantly brazen antagonism, opposition and clamoring against God. Without a doubt, this kind of human behavior would enrage God, and it would enrage His disposition—a disposition that must not be offended. Therefore, God directly and openly unleashed His wrath and His majesty; this was a true revelation of His righteous disposition. Faced with a city overflowing with sin, God desired to destroy it in the swiftest manner possible, to eradicate the people within it and the entirety of their sins in the most complete way, to make this city’s people cease to exist and to stop the sin within this place from multiplying. The swiftest and most complete way of doing so was to burn it down with fire. God’s attitude toward the people of Sodom was not one of abandonment or disregard. Rather, He used His wrath, majesty and authority to punish, strike down and utterly destroy these people. His attitude toward them was one not only of physical destruction but also of destruction of the soul, an eternal eradication. This is the true implication of what God means by the words, “cease to exist.”
Although God’s Wrath Is Hidden and Unknown to Man, It Tolerates No Offense
God’s treatment of the whole of humanity, foolish and ignorant as humanity is, is primarily based on mercy and tolerance. His wrath, on the other hand, is kept concealed for the vast majority of time and in the vast majority of events, and it is unknown to man. As a result, it is difficult for man to see God express His wrath, and it is also difficult to understand His wrath. As such, man makes light of God’s wrath. When man faces God’s final work and step of tolerance and forgiveness for man—that is, when God’s final instance of mercy and His final warning comes upon mankind—if people still use the same methods to oppose God and do not make any effort to repent, to mend their ways and accept His mercy, then God will no longer bestow His tolerance and patience upon them. On the contrary, God will retract His mercy at this time. Following this, He will only send forth His wrath. He can express His wrath in different ways, just as He can use different methods to punish and destroy people.
God’s use of fire to destroy the city of Sodom is His swiftest method of utterly annihilating a humanity or any other thing. Burning the people of Sodom destroyed more than their physical bodies; it destroyed the entirety of their spirits, their souls and their bodies, ensuring that the people inside the city would cease to exist in both the material world and the world that is invisible to man. This is one way in which God reveals and expresses His wrath. This manner of revelation and expression is one aspect of the substance of God’s wrath, just as it is naturally also a revelation of the substance of God’s righteous disposition. When God sends forth His wrath, He ceases to reveal any mercy or lovingkindness, nor does He display any more of His tolerance or patience; there is no person, thing or reason that can persuade Him to continue to be patient, to give His mercy again, to bestow His tolerance once more. In place of these things, without a moment’s hesitation, God sends forth His wrath and majesty, doing what He desires. He will do these things in a swift and clean manner in accordance with His own wishes. This is the way in which God sends forth His wrath and majesty, which man must not offend, and it is also an expression of one aspect of His righteous disposition. When people witness God showing concern and love toward man, they are unable to detect His wrath, see His majesty or feel His intolerance toward offense. These things have always led people to believe that God’s righteous disposition is one solely of mercy, tolerance and love. However, when one sees God destroy a city or detest a humanity, His rage in the destruction of man and His majesty allow people to glimpse the other side of His righteous disposition. This is God’s intolerance to offense. God’s disposition that tolerates no offense surpasses the imagination of any created being, and among the non-created beings, none is capable of interfering with it or affecting it; even less can it be impersonated or imitated. Thus, this aspect of God’s disposition is the one that humanity should know the most. Only God Himself has this kind of disposition, and only God Himself is possessed of this kind of disposition. God is possessed of this kind of righteous disposition because He detests wickedness, darkness, rebelliousness and Satan’s evil acts—corrupting and devouring mankind—because He detests all acts of sin in opposition to Him and because of His holy and undefiled substance. It is because of this that He will not suffer any of the created or non-created beings to openly oppose or contest Him. Even an individual to whom He had once shown mercy or whom He had chosen, need only provoke His disposition and transgress His principles of patience and tolerance, and God will unleash and reveal His righteous disposition that tolerates no offense without the least bit of mercy or hesitation.
God’s Wrath Is a Safeguard for All the Forces of Justice and All Positive Things
By understanding these examples of God’s speech, thoughts and actions, are you able to understand God’s righteous disposition, a disposition that will not tolerate being offended by man? In short, regardless of how much man can understand of it, this is an aspect of the disposition of God Himself, and it is unique to Him. God’s intolerance of offense is His unique substance; God’s wrath is His unique disposition; God’s majesty is His unique substance. The principle behind God’s anger is the demonstration of His identity and status, which only He possesses. It goes without saying that this principle is also a symbol of the substance of the unique God Himself. God’s disposition is His own inherent substance, which is not changed at all by the passage of time, and nor is it altered by changes of geographical location. His inherent disposition is His intrinsic substance. Regardless of whom He carries out His work upon, His substance does not change, and neither does His righteous disposition. When one angers God, that which God sends forth is His inherent disposition; at this time the principle behind His anger does not change, nor do His unique identity and status. He does not grow angry because of a change in His substance or because different elements arise from His disposition, but because man’s opposition against Him offends His disposition. Man’s flagrant provocation of God is a severe challenge to God’s own identity and status. In God’s view, when man challenges Him, man is contesting Him and testing His anger. When man opposes God, when man contests God, when man continuously tests God’s anger—and it is at such times when sin runs rampant—God’s wrath will naturally reveal and present itself. Therefore, God’s expression of His wrath is a symbol that all evil forces will cease to exist, and it is a symbol that all hostile forces will be destroyed. This is the uniqueness of God’s righteous disposition, and of God’s wrath. When God’s dignity and holiness are challenged, when the forces of justice are obstructed and unseen by man, then God will send forth His wrath. Because of God’s substance, all those forces on earth which contest God, oppose Him and contend with Him, are evil, corrupt and unjust; they come from and belong to Satan. Because God is just and is of the light and flawlessly holy, thus all things evil, corrupt and belonging to Satan will vanish when God’s wrath is unleashed.
Although the outpouring of God’s wrath is one aspect of the expression of His righteous disposition, God’s anger is by no means indiscriminate regarding its target, and nor is it without principle. On the contrary, God is not at all quick to anger, and nor does He reveal His wrath and majesty lightly. Moreover, God’s wrath is quite controlled and measured; it is not at all comparable to how man is wont to flare into a rage or vent his anger. Many conversations between man and God are recorded in the Bible. The words of some of the individual people involved in the conversations were shallow, ignorant and infantile, but God did not strike them down, and nor did He condemn them. In particular, during Job’s trial, how did Jehovah God treat Job’s three friends and the others after He heard the words that they spoke to Job? Did He condemn them? Did He rage at them? He did nothing of the sort! Instead He told Job to make entreaties on their behalf and to pray for them, and God Himself did not take their faults to heart. These instances all represent the primary attitude with which God treats humanity, corrupt and ignorant as it is. Therefore, the unleashing of God’s wrath is by no means an expression of His mood, nor is it a way for Him to give vent to His feelings. Contrary to man’s misunderstanding, God’s wrath is not a full-blown eruption of rage. God does not unleash His wrath because He is unable to control His own mood or because His anger has reached its boiling point and must be vented. On the contrary, His wrath is a display and a genuine expression of His righteous disposition, and it is a symbolic revelation of His holy substance. God is wrath, and He does not tolerate being offended—this is not to say that God’s anger does not distinguish among causes or is unprincipled; it is corrupt humanity that has an exclusive claim on unprincipled, random outbursts of rage, rage of a kind that does not distinguish between causes. Once a man has status, he will often find it difficult to control his mood, and so he will enjoy seizing upon opportunities to express his dissatisfaction and vent his emotions; he will often flare up in rage for no apparent reason, so as to reveal his ability and let others know that his status and identity are different from those of ordinary people. Of course, corrupt people without any status also often lose control. Their anger is frequently caused by damage to their private interests. In order to protect their own status and dignity, corrupt mankind will frequently vent their emotions and reveal their arrogant nature. Man will flare up in anger and vent his emotions in order to defend and uphold the existence of sin, and these actions are the ways in which man expresses his dissatisfaction; they brim with impurities, with schemes and intrigues, with man’s corruption and evil, and more than anything else, they brim with man’s wild ambitions and desires. When justice clashes with wickedness, man’s anger will not flare up in the defense of the existence of justice or to uphold it; on the contrary, when the forces of justice are threatened, persecuted and attacked, man’s attitude is one of overlooking, evading or flinching away. However, when facing the forces of evil, man’s attitude is one of accommodating, of bowing and scraping. Therefore, man’s venting is an escape for evil forces, an expression of the rampant and unstoppable evil conduct of the fleshly man. When God sends forth His wrath, however, all evil forces will be stopped, all sins that harm man will be curbed, all hostile forces that obstruct God’s work will be made apparent, separated and cursed, while all of Satan’s accomplices who oppose God will be punished and rooted out. In their place, God’s work will proceed free of any obstacles, God’s management plan will continue to develop step by step according to schedule, and God’s chosen people will be free of Satan’s disturbance and deceit, while those who follow God will enjoy God’s leadership and provision among tranquil and peaceful surroundings. God’s wrath is a safeguard preventing all evil forces from multiplying and running rampant, and it is also a safeguard that protects the existence and propagation of all things that are just and positive, and eternally guards them from suppression and subversion.
Can you see the substance of God’s wrath in His destruction of Sodom? Is there anything else mingled within His rage? Is God’s rage pure? To use the words of man, is God’s wrath unadulterated? Is there any deception behind His wrath? Is there any conspiracy? Are there any unspeakable secrets? I can tell you sternly and solemnly: There is no part of God’s wrath that can lead one to doubt. His anger is a pure, unadulterated anger that harbors no other intentions or goals. The reasons behind His anger are pure, blameless and above criticism. It is a natural revelation and display of His holy substance; it is something that nothing in all of creation possesses. This is a part of God’s unique righteous disposition, and it is also a striking difference between the respective substances of the Creator and His creation.
Regardless of whether one becomes angry in the sight of others or behind their backs, everyone has a different intention and purpose to their anger. Perhaps they are building up their prestige, or maybe they are defending their own interests, maintaining their image or keeping face. Some exercise restraint in their anger, while others are more rash and allow their rage to flare up whenever they wish without the least bit of restraint. In short, man’s anger derives from his corrupt disposition. No matter what its purpose, it is of the flesh and of nature; it has nothing to do with justice or injustice because nothing in man’s nature and substance corresponds to the truth. Therefore, corrupt humanity’s temper and God’s wrath should not be mentioned in the same breath. Without exception, the behavior of a man corrupted by Satan begins with the desire to safeguard corruption, and indeed it is based on corruption; this is why man’s anger cannot be mentioned in the same breath as God’s wrath, no matter how proper a man’s anger may seem in theory. When God sends forth His rage, evil forces are checked and evil things are destroyed, while just and positive things come to enjoy God’s care and protection and are allowed to continue. God sends forth His wrath because unjust, negative and evil things obstruct, disturb or destroy the normal activity and development of just and positive things. The goal of God’s anger is not to safeguard His own status and identity, but to safeguard the existence of just, positive, beautiful and good things, to safeguard the laws and order of humanity’s normal survival. This is the root cause of God’s wrath. God’s rage is a very proper, natural and true revelation of His disposition. There are no ulterior motives in His rage, and nor is there deceit or plotting, let alone the desires, craftiness, malice, violence, evil or any of corrupt humanity’s other shared traits. Before God sends forth His rage, He has already perceived the substance of every matter quite clearly and completely, and He has already formulated accurate, clear definitions and conclusions. Thus, God’s objective in everything He does is crystal-clear, as is His attitude. He is not muddle-headed, blind, impulsive, or careless, and He is certainly not unprincipled. This is the practical aspect of God’s wrath, and it is because of this practical aspect of God’s wrath that humanity has attained its normal existence. Without God’s wrath, humanity would descend into abnormal living conditions and all things just, beautiful and good would be destroyed and cease to exist. Without God’s wrath, the laws and rules of existence for created beings would be broken or even utterly subverted. Since the creation of man, God has continuously used His righteous disposition to safeguard and sustain humanity’s normal existence. Because His righteous disposition contains wrath and majesty, all evil people, things and objects, and all things that disturb and damage humanity’s normal existence, are punished, controlled and destroyed as a result of His wrath. Over the past several millennia, God has continuously used His righteous disposition to strike down and destroy all kinds of unclean and evil spirits which oppose God and act as Satan’s accomplices and lackeys in God’s work of managing humanity. Thus, God’s work of the salvation of man has always advanced according to His plan. This is to say that because of the existence of God’s wrath, the most righteous causes of men have never been destroyed.
Now that you have an understanding of the substance of God’s wrath, you must certainly have an even better understanding of how to distinguish Satan’s evil!
Although Satan Appears Humane, Just and Virtuous, Satan’s Substance Is Cruel and Evil
Satan builds its reputation through deceiving people, and often establishes itself as a vanguard and role model of righteousness. Under false pretenses of safeguarding righteousness, it harms people, devours their souls, and uses all sorts of means to benumb, deceive and incite man. Its goal is to make man approve of and go along with its evil conduct, to make man join it in opposing God’s authority and sovereignty. However, when one sees through its schemes and plots and sees through to its vile features, and when one does not wish to continue to be trampled upon and fooled by it or to continue slaving away for it, or to be punished and destroyed alongside it, then Satan changes its previously saintly features and tears off its false mask to reveal its true face, which is evil, vicious, ugly and savage. It would love nothing more than to exterminate all those who refuse to follow it and who oppose its evil forces. At this point Satan can no longer assume a trustworthy, gentlemanly appearance; instead, its true ugly and devilish features are revealed under sheep’s clothing. Once Satan’s schemes are brought to light and its true features exposed, it will fly into a rage and expose its barbarity. After this, its desire to harm and devour people will only be intensified. This is because it is enraged when man awakens to the truth, and it develops a powerful vindictiveness toward man for their aspiration to yearn for freedom and light and to break free of its prison. Its rage is intended to defend and uphold its evil, and it is also a true revelation of its savage nature.
In every matter, Satan’s behavior exposes its evil nature. Out of all the evil acts that Satan has carried out upon man—from its early efforts to delude man into following it, to its exploitation of man, in which it drags man into its evil deeds, to its vindictiveness toward man after its true features have been exposed and man has recognized and forsaken it—not one of these acts fails to expose Satan’s evil substance, nor to prove the fact that Satan has no relation to positive things and that Satan is the source of all evil things. Every single one of its actions safeguards its evil, maintains the continuation of its evil acts, goes against just and positive things, and ruins the laws and order of humanity’s normal existence. These acts of Satan are hostile to God, and they will be destroyed by God’s wrath. Although Satan has its own rage, its rage is just a means of venting its evil nature. The reason why Satan is exasperated and furious is this: Its unspeakable schemes have been exposed; its plots are not easily gotten away with; its wild ambition and desire to replace God and act as God have been struck down and blocked; and its goal of controlling all of humanity has now come to nothing and can never be achieved. What has stopped Satan’s plots from coming to fruition and cut short the spread and rampancy of Satan’s evil is God’s repeated summoning of His wrath, time after time. For this reason, Satan both hates and fears God’s wrath. Each time God’s wrath descends, it not only unmasks Satan’s true vile appearance, but also exposes Satan’s evil desires to the light, and in the process, the reasons for Satan’s rage against humanity are laid bare. The eruption of Satan’s rage is a true revelation of its evil nature and an exposure of its schemes. Of course, each time that Satan is enraged heralds the destruction of evil things and the protection and continuation of positive things; it heralds the truth that God’s wrath cannot be offended!
One Must Not Rely on Experience and Imagination to Know God’s Righteous Disposition
When you find yourself facing God’s judgment and chastisement, will you say that God’s word is adulterated? Will you say that there is a story behind God’s rage, and that it is adulterated? Will you slander God, saying that His disposition is not necessarily entirely righteous? When dealing with each of God’s acts, you must first be certain that God’s righteous disposition is free of any other elements, that it is holy and flawless. These acts include God’s striking down, punishment and destruction of humanity. Without exception, every one of God’s acts is made in strict accordance with His inherent disposition and His plan, and includes no part of humanity’s knowledge, tradition and philosophy. Every one of God’s acts is an expression of His disposition and substance, unrelated to anything that belongs to corrupt humanity. Mankind has the notion that only God’s love, mercy and tolerance toward humanity are flawless, unadulterated and holy, and no one knows that God’s rage and His wrath are likewise unadulterated; furthermore, no one has contemplated questions such as why God tolerates no offense or why His rage is so great. On the contrary, some mistake God’s wrath for a bad temper, such as that of corrupt humanity, and misunderstand God’s anger to be the same rage as that of corrupt humanity. They even mistakenly assume that God’s rage is just like the natural revelation of humanity’s corrupt disposition and that the issuing of God’s wrath is just like the anger of corrupt people when they are faced with some unhappy situation, and believe that the issuing of God’s wrath is an expression of His mood. After this fellowship, I hope that every one of you will no longer have any misconceptions, imaginings or speculation regarding God’s righteous disposition. I hope that after hearing My words you can have a true recognition in your hearts of the wrath of God’s righteous disposition, that you can put aside any previous mistaken understandings of God’s wrath, and that you can change your own mistaken beliefs and views of the substance of God’s wrath. Furthermore, I hope that you can have an accurate definition of God’s disposition in your hearts, that you will no longer have any doubts as to God’s righteous disposition, and that you will not impose any human reasoning or imagining onto God’s true disposition. God’s righteous disposition is God’s own true substance. It is not something written or shaped by man. His righteous disposition is His righteous disposition and has no relation or connection to anything of creation. God Himself is God Himself. He will never become a part of creation, and even if He becomes a member of the created beings, His inherent disposition and substance will not change. Therefore, knowing God is not the same as knowing an object; to know God is not to dissect something, nor is it the same as understanding a person. If man uses his concept or method of knowing an object or understanding a person to know God, then you will never be able to attain knowledge of God. Knowing God is not reliant on experience or imagination, and therefore you must never impose your experience or imagination on God; no matter how rich your experience and imagination may be, they are still limited. What is more, your imagination does not correspond to facts, and much less to the truth, and it is incompatible with God’s true disposition and substance. You will never succeed if you rely on your imagination to understand God’s substance. The only path is this: Accept all that comes from God, then gradually experience and understand it. There will be a day when God will enlighten you to truly understand and know Him because of your cooperation and because of your hunger and thirst for the truth. And with this, let us conclude this portion of our conversation.
Humanity Wins God’s Mercy and Tolerance Through Sincere Repentance
What follows is the biblical story of “God’s salvation of Nineveh.”
Jon 1:1–2 Now the word of Jehovah came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before Me.
Jon 3 And the word of Jehovah came to Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the preaching that I bid you. So Jonah arose, and went to Nineveh, according to the word of Jehovah. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came to the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God: yes, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from His fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that He had said that He would do to them; and He did it not.
Jon 4 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. And he prayed to Jehovah, and said, I pray You, O Jehovah, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before to Tarshish: for I knew that You are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repent You of the evil. Therefore now, O Jehovah, take, I beseech You, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live. Then said Jehovah, Do you well to be angry? So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city. And Jehovah God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd. But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live. And God said to Jonah, Do you well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even to death. Then said Jehovah, You have had pity on the gourd, for the which you have not labored, neither made it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?
Synopsis of the Story of Nineveh
Although the story of “God’s salvation of Nineveh” is brief in length, it allows one to glimpse the other side of God’s righteous disposition. In order to understand exactly what that side consists of, we must return to the Scripture and review one of God’s acts which He carried out in the process of His work.
Let us first look at the beginning of this story: “Now the word of Jehovah came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before Me” (Jon 1:1–2). In this passage from the scriptures, we know that Jehovah God commanded Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh. Why did He order Jonah to go to this city? The Bible is very clear about this: The wickedness of the people inside this city had come before Jehovah God, and therefore He sent Jonah to proclaim to them what He intended to do. While there is nothing recorded telling us who Jonah was, this is, of course, unrelated to knowing God, and you therefore need not understand this man, Jonah. You need only know what God ordered Jonah to do and what God’s reasons were for doing such a thing.
Jehovah God’s Warning Reaches the Ninevites
Let us move on to the second passage, the third chapter of the Book of Jonah: “And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” These are the words that God directly passed on to Jonah to tell the Ninevites, so of course, these are the words that Jehovah wished to say to the Ninevites. These words tell people that God began to abhor and hate the people of the city because their wickedness had come before His gaze, and so He wished to destroy this city. However, before God destroyed the city, He would make an announcement to the Ninevites, and at the same time, give them an opportunity to repent of their wickedness and start anew. This opportunity would last forty days, and no longer. In other words, if the people inside the city did not repent, admit their sins and prostrate themselves before Jehovah God within forty days, God would destroy the city as He had destroyed Sodom. This was what Jehovah God wished to tell the people of Nineveh. Clearly, this was no simple declaration. Not only did it convey Jehovah God’s anger, it also conveyed His attitude toward the Ninevites, while at the same time serving as a solemn warning to the people living inside the city. This warning told them that their wicked acts had earned them Jehovah God’s hatred and would soon bring them to the brink of their own annihilation. The life of every inhabitant of Nineveh was therefore in imminent peril.
The Stark Contrast Between Nineveh and Sodom’s Reaction to Jehovah God’s Warning
What does it mean to be overthrown? In colloquial terms, it means to no longer exist. But in what way? Who could overthrow an entire city? It would be impossible for man to perform such an act, of course. The people of Nineveh were no fools; as soon as they heard this proclamation, they got the idea. They knew that the proclamation had come from God, they knew that God was going to perform His work, and they knew that their wickedness had enraged Jehovah God and brought His anger down upon them, so that they would soon be destroyed along with their city. How did the people of the city behave after hearing Jehovah God’s warning? The Bible describes in specific detail how the people reacted, from the king down to the commoners. The following words were recorded in the Scriptures: “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came to the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God: yes, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.”
After hearing Jehovah God’s proclamation, the people of Nineveh displayed an attitude utterly opposite to that of the people of Sodom—whereas the people of Sodom openly opposed God, proceeding from evil to evil, the Ninevites, after hearing these words, did not ignore the matter, and nor did they resist. Instead, they believed God and declared a fast. What does the word, “believed,” mean here? The word itself suggests faith and submission. If we use the Ninevites’ actual behavior to explain this word, it means that they believed God could and would do as He said, and that they were willing to repent. Did the people of Nineveh feel fear in the face of imminent disaster? It was their belief that put fear in their hearts. So, what can we use to prove the Ninevites’ belief and fear? It is as the Bible says: “[T]hey proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.” This is to say that the Ninevites truly believed, and that from this belief came fear, which then led them to fast and don sackcloth. This is how they showed that they were beginning to repent. In utter contrast to the people of Sodom, not only did the Ninevites not oppose God, but they also clearly showed their repentance through their behavior and actions. Of course, this was something all the people of Nineveh did, not just the commoners—the king was no exception.
The Repentance of Nineveh’s King Wins Jehovah God’s Commendation
When the king of Nineveh heard this news, he arose from his throne, took off his robe, dressed himself in sackcloth and sat in ashes. He then proclaimed that no one in the city would be allowed to taste anything, and that no sheep, oxen or any other livestock would be allowed to graze or drink water. Man and livestock alike were to don sackcloth, and the people were to make earnest entreaties to God. The king also proclaimed that every one of them would turn away from their evil ways and forsake the violence in their hands. Judging from this series of actions, the king of Nineveh had true repentance in his heart. This series of actions he took—arising from his throne, casting off his king’s robe, wearing sackcloth and sitting in ashes—tells people that the king of Nineveh was laying aside his royal status and donning sackcloth alongside the common people. This is to say that the king of Nineveh did not occupy his royal post to continue his evil way or the violence in his hands after hearing the announcement from Jehovah God; rather, he laid aside the authority he held and repented before Jehovah God. At this moment the king of Nineveh was not repenting as a king; he had come before God to repent and confess his sins as an ordinary subject of God. Moreover, he also told the entire city to repent and confess their sins before Jehovah God in the same manner as he had; additionally, he had a specific plan for how to do so, as seen in the scriptures: “Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: … and cry mightily to God: yes, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.” As the city’s ruler, the king of Nineveh possessed supreme status and power, and could do anything he wished to. When faced with Jehovah God’s announcement, he could have ignored the matter or simply repented and confessed his sins alone; as for whether or not the people in the city chose to repent, he could have completely ignored the matter. However, the king of Nineveh did not do this at all. Not only did he arise from his throne, wear sackcloth and ashes and repent and confess his sins before Jehovah God, but he also ordered all people and livestock within the city to do the same. He even ordered the people to “cry mightily to God.” Through this series of actions, the king of Nineveh truly accomplished that which a ruler should. His series of actions is one that was difficult for any king in human history to achieve, and indeed, no other king achieved these things. These actions can be called unprecedented in human history, and they are worthy of being both commemorated and imitated by mankind. Since the dawn of man, every king had led his subjects to resist and oppose God. No one had ever led his subjects to entreat God to seek redemption for their wickedness, receive Jehovah God’s pardon and avoid imminent punishment. The king of Nineveh, however, was able to lead his subjects to turn to God, to leave their respective evil ways behind and abandon the violence in their hands. Furthermore, he was also able to put aside his throne, and in return, Jehovah God had a change of mind and felt regret, retracting His wrath and allowing the people of the city to survive, keeping them from destruction. The king’s actions can only be called a rare miracle in human history, and even a model example of corrupt humanity repenting and confessing their sins before God.
God Sees the Sincere Repentance Deep in the Ninevites’ Hearts
After hearing God’s declaration, the king of Nineveh and his subjects performed a series of actions. What was the nature of these actions and of their behavior? In other words, what was the essence of their conduct in its entirety? Why did they do what they did? In God’s eyes they had sincerely repented, not only because they had made earnest entreaties to God and confessed their sins before Him, but also because they had abandoned their wicked conduct. They acted in this way because after hearing God’s words, they were incredibly frightened and believed that He would do as He said. By fasting, wearing sackcloth and sitting in ashes, they wished to express their willingness to reform their ways and refrain from wickedness, and they prayed to Jehovah God to restrain His anger, entreating Him to withdraw His decision and the catastrophe bearing down upon them. If we examine all of their behavior, we can see that they already understood that their previous wicked acts were detestable to Jehovah God, and we can see too that they understood the reason why He would soon destroy them. This is why they all wished to make a full repentance, to turn away from their evil ways and abandon the violence in their hands. In other words, once they became aware of Jehovah God’s declaration, each and every one of them felt fear in their hearts; they discontinued their wicked conduct and no longer committed those acts that were so detestable to Jehovah God. Additionally, they entreated Jehovah God to forgive their past sins and to not treat them according to their past actions. They were willing to never again engage in wickedness and to act according to Jehovah God’s instructions, if only it were possible to never again infuriate Jehovah God. Their repentance was sincere and thorough. It came from deep within their hearts and was unfeigned and intransient.
Once all of the people of Nineveh, from the king to the commoners, learned that Jehovah God was angry with them, God could clearly and plainly see every single one of their subsequent actions and their conduct in its entirety, as well as every one of the decisions and choices that they made. God’s heart changed according to their behavior. What was God’s frame of mind at that very moment? The Bible can answer that question for you. The following words were recorded in the scriptures: “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that He had said that He would do to them; and He did it not.” Although God changed His mind, there was nothing complicated about His frame of mind. He simply went from expressing His anger to calming His anger, and then decided not to bring catastrophe upon the city of Nineveh. The reason why God’s decision—to spare the Ninevites from catastrophe—was so swift is that God observed the heart of every person of Nineveh. He saw what they held deep within their hearts: their sincere repentance and confession for their sins, their sincere belief in Him, their deep sense of how their wicked acts had enraged His disposition, and the resulting fear of Jehovah God’s impending punishment. At the same time, Jehovah God also heard their prayers, which came from deep within their hearts, entreating Him to no longer be angry at them, so that they might avoid this catastrophe. When God observed all these facts, little by little His anger faded away. Regardless of how great His anger had previously been, His heart was touched when He saw the sincere repentance deep within these people’s hearts, and so He could not bear to bring catastrophe upon them, and He ceased to be angry at them. Instead, He continued to extend His mercy and tolerance toward them and continued to guide and provide for them.
If Your Belief in God Is True, You Will Receive His Care Often
God’s changing of His intentions toward the people of Nineveh involved no hesitation or anything that was ambiguous or vague. Rather, it was a transformation from pure anger to pure tolerance. This is a true revelation of God’s substance. God is never irresolute or hesitant in His actions; the principles and purposes behind His actions are all clear and transparent, pure and flawless, with absolutely no ruses or schemes intermingled within. In other words, God’s substance contains no darkness or evil. God became angry with the Ninevites because their wicked acts had come before His gaze; at that time His anger was derived from His substance. However, when God’s anger dissipated and He bestowed His tolerance upon the people of Nineveh once more, everything that He revealed was still His own substance. The entirety of this change was due to a change in man’s attitude toward God. During this entire period of time, God’s unoffendable disposition did not change, God’s tolerant substance did not change, and God’s loving and merciful substance did not change. When people commit wicked acts and offend God, He will bring His anger upon them. When people truly repent, God’s heart will change, and His anger will cease. When people continue to stubbornly oppose God, His rage will be unceasing, and His wrath will press in on them bit by bit until they are destroyed. This is the substance of God’s disposition. Regardless of whether God is expressing wrath or mercy and lovingkindness, it is man’s conduct, behavior, and the attitude man holds toward God deep within his heart that dictate that which is expressed through the revelation of God’s disposition. If God continuously subjects one person to His anger, this person’s heart doubtlessly opposes God. Because this person has never truly repented, bowed their head before God or possessed true belief in God, they have never obtained God’s mercy and tolerance. If someone often receives God’s care, His mercy, and His tolerance, then without a doubt this person has true belief in God in their heart, and their heart is not opposed to God. This person often truly repents before God; therefore, even if God’s discipline often descends upon this person, His wrath will not.
This brief account allows people to see God’s heart, to see the realness of His substance, to see that God’s anger and the changes in His heart are not without cause. Despite the stark contrast that God demonstrated when He was wrathful and when He changed His heart, which makes people believe there is a large disconnect or contrast between these two aspects of God’s substance—His anger and His tolerance—God’s attitude toward the repentance of the Ninevites once again allows people to see another side of God’s true disposition. God’s change of heart truly allows humanity to once again see the truth of God’s mercy and lovingkindness, and to see the true revelation of God’s substance. Humanity has but to acknowledge that God’s mercy and lovingkindness are not myths, nor are they fabrications. This is because God’s feeling at that moment was true, and God’s change of heart was true—God indeed bestowed His mercy and tolerance upon humanity once more.
The True Repentance in the Ninevites’ Hearts Wins Them God’s Mercy and Changes Their Own Outcomes
Was there any contradiction between God’s change of heart and His wrath? Of course not! This is because God’s tolerance at that particular time had its reason. What reason might this be? It is the one given in the Bible: “Every person turned away from his evil way” and “abandoned the violence in their hands.”
This “evil way” does not refer to a handful of evil acts, but to the evil source from which people’s behavior springs. “Turning away from his evil way” means that those in question will never commit these actions again. In other words, they will never again behave in this evil way; the method, source, purpose, intent and principle of their actions have all changed; they will never again use those methods and principles to bring enjoyment and happiness to their hearts. The “abandon” in “abandon the violence in their hands” means to lay down or to cast aside, to fully break with the past and to never turn back. When the people of Nineveh abandoned the violence in their hands, this proved and represented their true repentance. God observes people’s outward appearances as well as their hearts. When God observed the true repentance in the hearts of the Ninevites without question and also observed that they had left their evil ways and abandoned the violence in their hands, He changed His heart. This is to say that these people’s conduct and behavior and various ways of doing things, as well as their true confession and repentance of sins in their hearts, caused God to change His heart, to change His intentions, to retract His decision and not to punish or destroy them. Thus, the people of Nineveh achieved a different outcome for themselves. They redeemed their own lives and at the same time won God’s mercy and tolerance, at which point God also retracted His wrath.
God’s Mercy and Tolerance Are Not Rare—Man’s True Repentance Is
Regardless of how angry God had been with the Ninevites, as soon as they declared a fast and donned sackcloth and ashes, His heart began to soften and He began to change His mind. When He proclaimed to them that He would destroy their city—the moment prior to their confession and repentance for their sins—God was still angry with them. Once they had carried out a series of repentant acts, God’s anger for the people of Nineveh gradually transformed into mercy and tolerance for them. There is nothing contradictory about the coinciding revelation of these two aspects of God’s disposition in the same event. So, how should one understand and know this lack of contradiction? God expressed and revealed each of these two polar-opposite substances in turn as the people of Nineveh repented, allowing people to see the realness and the unoffendableness of God’s substance. God used His attitude to tell people the following: It is not that God does not tolerate people, or that He does not want to show mercy to them; rather, it is that they rarely truly repent to God, and it is rare that people truly turn away from their evil ways and abandon the violence in their hands. In other words, when God is angry with man, He hopes that man will be able to truly repent, and indeed He hopes to see man’s true repentance, in which case He will then liberally continue to bestow His mercy and tolerance upon man. This is to say that man’s evil conduct incurs God’s wrath, whereas God’s mercy and tolerance are bestowed upon those who listen to God and truly repent before Him, upon those who can turn away from their evil ways and abandon the violence in their hands. God’s attitude was very clearly revealed in His treatment of the Ninevites: God’s mercy and tolerance are not at all difficult to obtain, and what He requires is one’s true repentance. As long as people turn away from their evil ways and abandon the violence in their hands, God will change His heart and His attitude toward them.
The Creator’s Righteous Disposition Is Real and Vivid
When God had a change of heart toward the people of Nineveh, were His mercy and tolerance a false front? Of course not! Then what has been shown by the transition between these two aspects of God’s disposition in the course of God dealing with this one situation? God’s disposition is a complete whole—it is not at all divided. Regardless of whether He is expressing anger or mercy and tolerance toward people, these are all expressions of His righteous disposition. God’s disposition is vital and vividly apparent, and He changes His thoughts and attitudes according to the way things develop. The transformation of His attitude toward the Ninevites tells humanity that He has His own thoughts and ideas; He is not a robot or a clay figure, but the living God Himself. He could be angry with the people of Nineveh, just as He could forgive their pasts because of their attitudes. He could decide to bring misfortune upon the Ninevites, and He could also change His decision because of their repentance. People like to rigidly apply rules, and to use such rules to delimit and define God, just as they like to use formulas to attempt to understand God’s disposition. Therefore, as far as the domain of human thought is concerned, God does not think, nor does He have any substantive ideas. But in reality, God’s thoughts are in a state of constant transformation according to changes in things and in environments. While these thoughts are transforming, different aspects of God’s substance are revealed. During this process of transformation, at the precise moment when God has a change of heart, what He shows to mankind is the real existence of His life, and that His righteous disposition is full of dynamic vitality. At the same time, God uses His own true revelations to prove to mankind the truth of the existence of His wrath, His mercy, His lovingkindness, and His tolerance. His substance will be revealed at any time and any place in accordance with how things develop. He possesses a lion’s wrath and a mother’s mercy and tolerance. His righteous disposition allows no questioning, violation, change, or distortion by any person. Among all matters and all things, God’s righteous disposition—that is, God’s wrath and God’s mercy—can be revealed at any time and any place. He gives vital expression to these aspects in every corner of all creation, and He implements them with vitality in every passing moment. God’s righteous disposition is not limited by time or space; in other words, God’s righteous disposition is not mechanically expressed or revealed according to the constraints of time or space, but rather with perfect ease and in all times and places. When you see God have a change of heart and cease to express His wrath and refrain from destroying the city of Nineveh, can you say that God is only merciful and loving? Can you say that God’s wrath consists of empty words? When God rages with fierce wrath and retracts His mercy, can you say that He feels no true love toward humanity? This fierce wrath is expressed by God in response to people’s evil acts; His wrath is not flawed. God’s heart is moved in response to people’s repentance, and it is this repentance that brings about His change of heart. When He feels moved, when He has a change of heart, and when He shows His mercy and tolerance toward man, all of these are utterly without flaw; they are clean, pure, unblemished and unadulterated. God’s tolerance is exactly that: tolerance, just as His mercy is nothing other than mercy. His disposition reveals wrath or mercy and tolerance in accordance with man’s repentance and the variations in man’s conduct. No matter what He reveals and expresses, it is all pure and direct; its substance is distinct from that of anything in creation. When God expresses the principles underlying His actions, they are free from any flaws or blemishes, and so are His thoughts, His ideas, and every single decision He makes and every single action He takes. Since God has thus decided and since He has thus acted, so does He complete His undertakings. The results of His undertakings are correct and faultless precisely because their source is flawless and unblemished. God’s wrath is flawless. Likewise, God’s mercy and tolerance—which are possessed by none among all of creation—are holy and flawless, and can withstand thoughtful deliberation and experience.
Through your understanding of the story of Nineveh, do you now see the other side of the substance of God’s righteous disposition? Do you see the other side of God’s unique righteous disposition? Does anyone among humanity possess this kind of disposition? Does anyone possess this kind of wrath, the wrath of God? Does anyone possess mercy and tolerance such as that which is possessed by God? Who among creation can summon forth such great wrath and decide to destroy or bring disaster upon mankind? And who is qualified to bestow mercy on man, to tolerate and pardon, and thereby change one’s prior decision to destroy man? The Creator expresses His righteous disposition through His own unique methods and principles, and He is not subject to the control or restrictions imposed by any people, events or things. With His unique disposition, no one is able to change His thoughts and ideas, nor is anyone able to persuade Him and change any of His decisions. The entirety of the behavior and thoughts that exist in all of creation exist under the judgment of His righteous disposition. No one can control whether He exercises wrath or mercy; only the substance of the Creator—or in other words, the Creator’s righteous disposition—can decide this. Such is the unique nature of the Creator’s righteous disposition!
Through analyzing and understanding the transformation of God’s attitude toward the people of Nineveh, are you able to use the word “unique” to describe the mercy found within God’s righteous disposition? We previously said that God’s wrath is one aspect of the substance of His unique righteous disposition. Now I shall define two aspects—God’s wrath and God’s mercy—as His righteous disposition. God’s righteous disposition is holy; it does not tolerate being offended or questioned; it is something possessed by none among created or non-created beings. It is both unique and exclusive to God. This is to say that God’s wrath is holy and unoffendable. In the same way, the other aspect of God’s righteous disposition—God’s mercy—is holy and cannot be offended. None of the created or non-created beings can replace or represent God in His actions, nor could anyone have replaced or represented Him in the destruction of Sodom or the salvation of Nineveh. This is the true expression of God’s unique righteous disposition.
The Creator’s Sincere Feelings Toward Mankind
People often say that it is not an easy thing to know God. However, I say that knowing God is not a difficult matter at all, for God frequently displays His deeds for man to see. God has never ceased His dialogue with mankind, and He has never concealed Himself from man, and nor has He hidden Himself. His thoughts, His ideas, His words and His deeds are all revealed to mankind. Therefore, so long as man wishes to know God, he can come to understand and know Him through all sorts of means and methods. The reason why man blindly thinks that God has intentionally avoided him, that God has intentionally hidden Himself from humanity, that God has no intention of allowing man to understand and know Him, is because he does not know who God is and nor does he wish to understand God. Even more than that, man does not concern himself with the Creator’s thoughts, words or deeds…. Truthfully speaking, if a person just uses their spare time to focus upon and understand the Creator’s words or deeds, and if they pay just a little attention to the Creator’s thoughts and the voice of His heart, it will not be difficult for that person to realize that the Creator’s thoughts, words, and deeds are visible and transparent. Likewise, it will take little effort to realize that the Creator is among man at all times, that He is always in conversation with man and the entirety of creation, and that He is performing new deeds every day. His substance and disposition are expressed in His dialogue with man; His thoughts and ideas are revealed completely in His deeds; He accompanies and observes mankind at all times. He speaks quietly to mankind and all of creation with His silent words: “I am in the heavens, and I am amongst My creation. I am keeping watch; I am waiting; I am at your side….” His hands are warm and strong; His footsteps are light; His voice is soft and graceful; His form passes and turns, embracing all of mankind; His countenance is beautiful and gentle. He has never left, never vanished. Day and night, He is mankind’s constant companion, never to leave their side. His devoted care and special affection for humanity, as well as His true concern and love for man, were displayed bit by bit as He saved the city of Nineveh. In particular, the exchange between Jehovah God and Jonah fully revealed the Creator’s tenderness for the mankind He Himself created. Through those words, you can obtain a deep understanding of God’s sincere feelings for humanity …
The following passage was recorded in the Book of Jonah 4:10–11: “Then said Jehovah, You have had pity on the gourd, for the which you have not labored, neither made it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?” These are the actual words of Jehovah God, recorded from a conversation between God and Jonah. Though this exchange is brief, it brims with the Creator’s care for mankind and His reluctance to give mankind up. These words express the true attitude and feelings that God holds within His heart for His creation. Through these words, which are clear and precise such as are rarely heard by man, God states His true intentions for humanity. This exchange represents an attitude God held toward the people of Nineveh—but what kind of attitude is it? It is the attitude He held toward the people of Nineveh before and after their repentance, and the attitude with which He treats mankind. Within these words are His thoughts and His disposition.
What thoughts of God are revealed in these words? If you pay attention to the details as you read, it will not be difficult for you to notice that He uses the word “pity”; the use of this word shows God’s true attitude toward mankind.
On the level of literal meaning, people can interpret the word “pity” in different ways: First, it means “to love and protect, to feel tenderness toward something”; second, it means “to love dearly”; and finally, it means “to be unwilling to hurt something and to be unable to bear doing so.” In short, this word implies tender affection and love, as well as an unwillingness to give up someone or something; it implies God’s mercy and tolerance toward man. God used this word, which is a word commonly spoken by men, and yet it is also able to lay bare the voice of God’s heart and His attitude toward mankind.
Although the city of Nineveh was filled with people just as corrupt, evil and violent as those of Sodom, their repentance caused God to have a change of heart and decide not to destroy them. Because the way they treated God’s words and instructions demonstrated an attitude that starkly contrasted with that of the citizens of Sodom, and because of their honest submission to God and honest repentance for their sins, as well as their true and heartfelt behavior in all regards, God once more expressed His own heartfelt pity and bestowed it upon them. What God bestows upon humanity and His pity for humanity are impossible for anyone to duplicate, and it is impossible for any person to possess God’s mercy, His tolerance, or His sincere feelings toward humanity. Is there anyone whom you deem a great man or woman, or even a superhuman, who would, from a high point, speaking as a great man or woman, or upon the highest point, make this kind of statement to mankind or to creation? Who amongst mankind can know the state of human life like the palm of their hands? Who can bear the burden and responsibility for humanity’s existence? Who is qualified to proclaim the destruction of a city? And who is qualified to pardon a city? Who can say that they cherish their own creation? Only the Creator! Only the Creator has tenderness toward this mankind. Only the Creator shows this mankind compassion and affection. Only the Creator holds a true, unbreakable affection for this mankind. Likewise, only the Creator can bestow mercy on this mankind and cherish all of His creation. His heart leaps and aches at every one of man’s actions: He is angered, distressed and grieved over man’s evil and corruption; He is pleased, joyful, forgiving and jubilant for man’s repentance and belief; every single one of His thoughts and ideas exists for and revolves around mankind; what He is and has is expressed entirely for mankind’s sake; the entirety of His emotions are intertwined with mankind’s existence. For mankind’s sake, He travels and rushes about; He silently gives forth every bit of His life; He dedicates every minute and second of His life…. He has never known how to pity His own life, yet He has always cherished the mankind He Himself created…. He gives all that He has to this humanity…. He grants His mercy and tolerance unconditionally and without expectation of recompense. He does this only so that mankind can continue to survive before His eyes, receiving His provision of life. He does this only so that mankind may one day submit before Him and recognize that He is the One who nourishes man’s existence and supplies the life of all creation.
The Creator Expresses His True Feelings for Humanity
This conversation between Jehovah God and Jonah is without a doubt an expression of the Creator’s true feelings for humanity. On one hand it informs people of the Creator’s understanding of all creation under His sovereignty; as Jehovah God said, “And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?” In other words, God’s understanding of Nineveh was far from cursory. He not only knew the number of living things within the city (including people and livestock), but He also knew how many could not discern between their right and left hands—that is, how many children and youths were present. This is concrete proof of God’s comprehensive understanding of mankind. On the other hand, this conversation informs people of the Creator’s attitude toward humanity, which is to say, the weight of humanity in the Creator’s heart. It is just as Jehovah God said: “You have had pity on the gourd, for the which you have not labored, neither made it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city…?” These are Jehovah God’s words of reproach toward Jonah, but they are all true.
Although Jonah was entrusted with proclaiming Jehovah God’s words to the people of Nineveh, he did not understand Jehovah God’s intentions, nor did he understand His worries and expectations for the people of the city. With this reprimand, God meant to tell him that humanity was the product of God’s own hands, and that He had expended painstaking effort on each and every single person, that each and every person carried God’s expectations upon their shoulders, and that each and every person enjoyed the supply of God’s life; for each and every person, God had paid the price of painstaking effort. This reprimand also told Jonah that God cherished humanity, which was the work of His own hands, just as much as Jonah himself cherished the gourd. God would by no means abandon mankind lightly, or until the last possible moment, not least because there were so many children and innocent livestock inside the city. When dealing with these young and ignorant products of God’s creation who could not even distinguish their right hands from their left, it was even less conceivable that God would end their lives and determine their outcomes in such a hasty manner. God hoped to see them grow up; He hoped that they would not walk the same paths as their elders, that they would not have to hear Jehovah God’s warning again, and that they would bear witness to Nineveh’s past. Even more so, God hoped to see Nineveh after it had repented, to see Nineveh’s future following its repentance, and more importantly, to see Nineveh live under God’s mercy once again. Therefore, in God’s eyes, those objects of creation who could not distinguish between their right and left hands were Nineveh’s future. They would shoulder Nineveh’s despicable past, just as they would shoulder the important duty of bearing witness to both Nineveh’s past and its future under Jehovah God’s guidance. In this declaration of His true feelings, Jehovah God presented the Creator’s mercy for humanity in its entirety. It showed to humanity that “the Creator’s mercy” is not an empty phrase, nor is it a hollow promise; it has concrete principles, methods and objectives. God is true and real, and He uses no falsehoods or disguises, and in this same manner His mercy is endlessly bestowed upon humanity in every time and age. However, to this very day, the Creator’s exchange with Jonah is His sole, exclusive verbal statement of why He shows mercy to humanity, how He shows mercy to humanity, how tolerant He is of humanity and His true feelings for humanity. Jehovah God’s succinct words during this conversation express His thoughts toward humanity as an integral whole; they are a true expression of His heart’s attitude toward humanity, and they are also concrete proof of His bestowal of abundant mercy upon humanity. His mercy is not only bestowed upon humanity’s elder generations, but is also granted to the younger members of humanity, just as it has always been, from one generation to the next. Although God’s wrath frequently comes down upon certain corners and certain eras of humanity, God’s mercy has never ceased. With His mercy, He guides and leads one generation of His creation after the next, and supplies and nourishes one generation of creation after the next, because His true feelings toward humanity will never change. Just as Jehovah God said: “And should not I spare Nineveh…?” He has always cherished His own creation. This is the mercy of the Creator’s righteous disposition, and it is also the full uniqueness of the Creator!
Five Types of People
For the time being, I will leave our fellowship about God’s righteous disposition here. Moving on, I will classify God’s followers into several categories according to their understanding of God and their understanding and experience of His righteous disposition, so that you may know the stage you are in currently, as well as your current stature. In terms of people’s knowledge of God and understanding of His righteous disposition, the different stages and statures which people occupy can generally be separated into five types. This topic is predicated on the basis of knowing the unique God and His righteous disposition. Therefore, as you read the following content, you should carefully attempt to figure out exactly how much understanding and knowledge you have regarding God’s uniqueness and His righteous disposition, and then you should use the result to judge which stage you truly belong in, how large your stature truly is, and which type of person you truly are.
What is meant by “an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes”? An infant wrapped in swaddling clothes is an infant who has just come into this world, a newborn. It is when people are at their most immature.
People in this stage essentially possess no awareness or consciousness about matters of belief in God. They are bewildered and ignorant about everything. These people may have believed in God for a long time or perhaps not a very long time at all, but their bewildered and ignorant state and their true stature place them within the stage of the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes. The precise definition of the conditions of an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes is as such: No matter how long this kind of person has believed in God, they will always be muddle-headed, confused and simple-minded; they do not know why they believe in God, nor do they know who God is or who is God. Although they follow God, there is no exact definition of God in their heart, and they cannot determine whether the One they follow is God, let alone whether they truly should believe in God and follow Him. This is the true state of this type of person. These people’s thoughts are clouded and, simply put, their belief is muddled. They always exist in a state of bewilderment and blankness; “muddle-headedness,” “confusion,” and “simple-mindedness” summarize their state. They have never seen nor felt God’s existence, and therefore, talking to them about knowing God is as much use as making them read a book written in hieroglyphics—they will neither understand nor accept it. For them, knowing God is the same as hearing a fantastical tale. While their thoughts may be clouded, they actually firmly believe that knowing God is an utter waste of time and effort. This is the first type of person: the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes.
Compared to an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, this type of person has made some progress. Regrettably, they still have no understanding of God whatsoever. They still lack a clear understanding of God and insight into God, and they are not very clear as to why they should believe in God, yet in their hearts they have their own purpose and clear ideas. They do not concern themselves with whether it is right to believe in God. The objective and purpose they seek through belief in God is to enjoy His grace, to have joy and peace, to live comfortable lives, to enjoy God’s care and protection, and to live under God’s blessings. They are not concerned with the degree to which they know God; they have no urge to seek an understanding of God, and nor are they concerned with what God is doing or what He wishes to do. They only blindly seek to enjoy His grace and obtain more of His blessings; they seek to gain a hundredfold in the present age, and eternal life in the age to come. Their thoughts, how much they expend themselves, their devotion, as well as their suffering, all share the same objective: to obtain God’s grace and blessings. They have no concern for anything else. This type of person is certain only that God can keep people safe and bestow His grace upon them. One can say that they are not interested in nor very clear about why God wishes to save man or the result God wishes to obtain with His words and work. They have never made any effort to know God’s substance and righteous disposition, nor can they muster the interest to do so. They lack the inclination to pay attention to these things, and nor do they wish to know them. They do not wish to ask about God’s work, God’s requirements of man, God’s will, or anything else related to God, and they too lack the inclination to ask about these things. This is because they believe these matters are unrelated to their enjoyment of God’s grace, and they are only concerned with a God who exists in direct relation to their own interests, and who can bestow grace upon man. They have no interest whatsoever in anything else, and so they cannot enter the reality of the truth, regardless of how many years they have believed in God. Without anyone to frequently water or feed them, it is difficult for them to continue down the path of belief in God. If they cannot enjoy their previous joy and peace or God’s grace, then they are quite liable to walk away. This is the second type of person: the person who exists in the stage of the suckling infant.
This group of people possesses a certain amount of clear awareness. They are aware that enjoying God’s grace does not mean that they themselves possess true experience, and they are aware that even if they never tire of seeking joy and peace, of seeking grace, or if they are able to bear witness by sharing their experiences of enjoying God’s grace or by praising God for the blessings He has bestowed upon them, these things do not mean that they possess life, nor do they mean that they possess the reality of the truth. Beginning from their consciousness, they cease to entertain wild hopes that they will only be accompanied by God’s grace; rather, as they enjoy God’s grace, they simultaneously wish to do something for God. They are willing to perform their duty, to endure a bit of hardship and fatigue, to engage in some degree of cooperation with God. However, because their pursuit in their belief in God is too adulterated, because the individual intentions and desires they harbor are too strong, because their disposition is too wildly arrogant, it is very difficult for them to satisfy God’s desire or to be loyal to God. Therefore, they frequently cannot realize their individual wishes or honor their promises to God. They often find themselves in contradictory states: They very much wish to satisfy God to the greatest possible degree, yet they use all their might to oppose Him, and they often make vows to God but then quickly break their oaths. Even more often they find themselves in other contradictory states: They sincerely believe in God, yet they deny Him and everything that comes from Him; they anxiously hope that God will enlighten them, lead them, supply them and help them, yet they still seek their own way out. They wish to understand and to know God, yet they are unwilling to draw close to Him. Instead, they always avoid God, and their hearts are closed to Him. While they have a superficial understanding and experience of the literal meaning of God’s words and of the truth, and a superficial concept of God and truth, subconsciously they still cannot confirm or determine whether God is the truth, nor confirm whether God is truly righteous. They also cannot determine the realness of God’s disposition and substance, let alone His true existence. Their belief in God always contains doubts and misunderstandings, and it also contains imaginings and notions. As they enjoy God’s grace, they also reluctantly experience or practice some truths that they consider feasible in order to enrich their belief, to augment their experience in believing in God, to verify their understanding of believing in God, and to satisfy their vanity by walking upon the life path that they themselves established and accomplishing a righteous undertaking for mankind. At the same time, they also do these things in order to satisfy their own desire to gain blessings, which is part of a bet that they make in hopes of receiving greater blessings for humanity, and to accomplish their ambitious aspiration and lifelong desire of not resting until they have obtained God. These people are seldom able to obtain God’s enlightenment, for their desire and their intention to gain blessings are too important to them. They have no desire to give this up, and indeed they could not bear to do so. They fear that without the desire to gain blessings, without the long-cherished ambition of not resting until they have obtained God, they will lose the motivation to believe in God. Therefore, they do not wish to face reality. They do not wish to face God’s words or God’s work. They do not wish to face up to God’s disposition or substance, let alone mention the subject of knowing God. This is because once God, His substance, and His righteous disposition replace their imaginings, their dreams will go up in smoke, and their so-called pure faith and “merits” accumulated through years of painstaking work will vanish and come to nothing. Likewise, their “territory” that they have conquered with their sweat and blood over the years will face collapse. All of this will signify that their many years of hard work and effort have been futile, and that they must begin again from nothing. This is the hardest pain for them to bear in their hearts, and it is the result that they least desire to see, which is why they are always locked in this kind of stalemate, refusing to turn back. This is the third type of person: the person who exists in the stage of the weaning infant.
The three types of people described above—meaning the people who exist in these three stages—do not possess any true belief in God’s identity and status or in His righteous disposition, and nor do they have any clear, accurate recognition or affirmation of these things. Therefore, it is very difficult for these three types of people to enter the reality of the truth, and it is also difficult for them to receive God’s mercy, enlightenment or illumination because the manner in which they believe in God and their mistaken attitude toward God make it impossible for Him to perform work within their hearts. Their doubts, misconceptions and imaginings about God exceed their belief and knowledge of God. These are three types of people who are very much at risk, and they are three very dangerous stages. When one maintains an attitude of doubt toward God, God’s substance, God’s identity, the matter of whether God is the truth and the realness of His existence, and when one cannot be sure of these things, how can one accept everything that comes from God? How can one accept the fact that God is the truth, the way and the life? How can one accept God’s chastisement and judgment? How can one accept God’s salvation? How can this kind of person obtain God’s true guidance and provision? Those who are in these three stages can oppose God, pass judgment on God, blaspheme God or betray God at any time. They can abandon the true way and forsake God at any time. One can say that people in these three stages exist in a critical period, for they have not entered the right track of believing in God.
After a person has been weaned—that is, after they have enjoyed an ample amount of grace—they begin to explore what it means to believe in God, they begin to wish to understand different questions, such as why man lives, how man should live, and why God performs His work upon man. When these unclear thoughts and confused thought patterns emerge within them and exist within them, they continuously receive watering, and they are also able to perform their duty. During this period, they no longer have any doubts as to the truth of God’s existence, and they have an accurate grasp of what it means to believe in God. Upon this foundation they gain a gradual knowledge of God, and they gradually obtain some answers to their unclear thoughts and confused thought patterns as to God’s disposition and substance. In terms of their changes in disposition as well as their knowledge of God, people in this stage begin to embark upon the right track, and they enter a transition period. It is within this stage that people begin to have life. Clear indications of possessing life are the gradual solving of the various questions related to knowing God that people have in their hearts—such as misunderstandings, imaginings, notions, and vague definitions of God—and not only do they come to really believe and recognize the realness of God’s existence, but they also come to possess an accurate definition of God and have the correct place for God in their hearts, and truly following God replaces their vague faith. During this stage, people gradually come to know their misconceptions toward God and their mistaken pursuits and ways of belief. They begin to crave the truth, to crave experiencing God’s judgment, chastening and discipline, and to crave a change in their disposition. They gradually leave behind all sorts of notions and imaginings about God during this stage, and at the same time they change and rectify their incorrect knowledge of God and obtain some correct fundamental knowledge of God. Although a portion of the knowledge possessed by people at this stage is not very specific or accurate, at the very least they gradually begin to abandon their notions, mistaken knowledge, and misunderstandings of God; they no longer maintain their own notions and imaginings about God. They begin to learn how to abandon—to abandon things found among their own notions, things from knowledge, and things from Satan; they begin to be willing to submit to correct and positive things, even to things that come from God’s words and which conform to the truth. They also begin to attempt to experience God’s words, to personally know and carry out His words, to accept His words as the principles for their actions and as the basis for changing their disposition. During this period, people unconsciously accept God’s judgment and chastisement, and unconsciously accept God’s words as their life. While they accept God’s judgment, chastisement, and words, they become increasingly aware and able to sense that the God they believe in within their hearts truly exists. In God’s words, in their experiences and their lives, they increasingly feel that God has always presided over man’s fate and has always led and provided for man. Through their association with God, they gradually confirm God’s existence. Therefore, before they realize it, they have already subconsciously approved of and begun to firmly believe in God’s work, and they have approved of God’s words. Once people approve of God’s words and work, they unceasingly deny themselves, deny their own notions, deny their own knowledge, deny their own imaginings, and at the same time also unceasingly seek what the truth is and what God’s will is. People’s knowledge of God is quite superficial during this period of development—they are even unable to clearly elaborate on this knowledge in words, nor can they express it in terms of specific details—and they only have a perception-based understanding; however, when juxtaposed with the preceding three stages, the immature lives of people in this period have already received watering and the supply of God’s words, and thus have already begun to sprout. Their lives are like a seed buried in the ground; after obtaining moisture and nutrients, it will break through the soil, and its sprouting will represent the birth of a new life. This birth allows one to glimpse the signs of life. When people have life, they grow. Therefore, upon these foundations—gradually making their way onto the right track of believing in God, abandoning their own notions, obtaining God’s guidance—people’s lives will inevitably grow little by little. Upon what basis is this growth measured? It is measured according to the person’s experience with God’s words and their true understanding of God’s righteous disposition. Although they find it very difficult to use their own words to accurately describe their knowledge of God and His substance during this period of growth, this group of people is no longer subjectively willing to pursue pleasure through the enjoyment of God’s grace, or to believe in God in order to pursue their own purpose of obtaining His grace. Instead, they are willing to pursue a life lived by God’s word and to become the subjects of God’s salvation. Moreover, they are confident and ready to accept God’s judgment and chastisement. This is the mark of a person in the stage of growth.
Although people in this stage have some knowledge of God’s righteous disposition, this knowledge is very hazy and indistinct. While they cannot clearly elaborate on these things, they feel they have already gained something internally, for they have obtained some measure of knowledge and understanding of God’s righteous disposition through God’s chastisement and judgment. However, it is all rather superficial, and it is still at an elementary stage. This group of people has a specific point of view with which they treat God’s grace, which is expressed in the changes to the objectives they pursue and the way in which they pursue them. They have already seen in God’s words and work, in all kinds of His requirements of man and in His revelations of man, that if they still do not pursue the truth, if they still do not seek to enter reality, if they still do not seek to satisfy and know God as they experience His words, then they will lose the meaning of believing in God. They see that no matter how much they enjoy God’s grace, they cannot change their disposition, satisfy God or know God, and that if people continuously live under God’s grace then they will never achieve growth, obtain life or be able to receive salvation. In summary, if a person cannot truly experience God’s words and is unable to know God through His words, then they will eternally remain at the stage of an infant and never make a single step forward in the growth of their life. If you forever exist in the stage of an infant, if you never enter the reality of God’s word, if you never have God’s word as your life, if you never possess true belief and knowledge of God, then is there any possibility for you to be made complete by God? Therefore, anyone who enters the reality of God’s word, anyone who accepts God’s word as their life, anyone who begins to accept God’s chastisement and judgment, anyone whose corrupt disposition begins to change, and anyone who has a heart that craves the truth, who has a desire to know God and a desire to accept God’s salvation, these are the people who truly possess life. This is truly the fourth type of person, that of the maturing child, the person in the stage of childhood.
After experiencing and toddling through the stage of childhood, a stage of growth full of repeated ups and downs, people’s lives become stabilized, their forward paces no longer pause, and nobody is able to obstruct them. Although the path ahead is still rough and rugged, they are no longer weak or fearful, and they no longer fumble ahead or lose their bearings. Their foundations are rooted deep within the real experience of God’s word, and their hearts have been drawn in by God’s dignity and greatness. They crave to follow God’s footsteps, to know God’s substance, to know everything about God.
People in this stage already know clearly who they believe in, and they know clearly why they should believe in God and the meaning of their own lives, and they know clearly that everything God expresses is the truth. In their many years of experience, they realize that without God’s judgment and chastisement, a person will never be able to satisfy or know God and will never truly be able to come before God. Within these people’s hearts is a strong desire to be tried by God, so that they may see God’s righteous disposition while being tried, and to attain a purer love, and at the same time be able to more truly understand and know God. People in this stage have already entirely bid farewell to the infant stage, and the stage of enjoying God’s grace and eating their fill of bread. They no longer place extravagant hopes on making God tolerate and show mercy to them; rather, they are confident to receive and hope for God’s unceasing chastisement and judgment, so as to separate themselves from their corrupt disposition and satisfy God. Their knowledge of God and their pursuits, or the final goals of their pursuits, are all very clear in their hearts. Therefore, people in the adult stage have already completely bid farewell to the stage of vague faith, to the stage in which they rely on grace for salvation, to the stage of immature life that cannot withstand trials, to the stage of haziness, to the stage of fumbling, to the stage of frequently having no path to walk, to the unstable period of alternating between sudden heat and cold, and to the stage where one follows God with one’s eyes covered. People of this type frequently receive God’s enlightenment and illumination, and frequently engage in true association and communication with God. One can say that people living in this stage have already grasped part of God’s will, that they are able to find the principles of the truth in everything they do, and that they know how to satisfy God’s desire. Furthermore, they have also found the path to knowing God and have begun to bear witness to their knowledge of God. During the process of gradual growth, they gain a gradual understanding and knowledge of God’s will: of God’s will in creating humanity, and of God’s will in managing humanity. They also gradually gain understanding and knowledge of God’s righteous disposition in terms of substance. No human notion or imagining can replace this knowledge. While one cannot say that in the fifth stage a person’s life is completely mature or that this person is righteous or complete, this kind of person has nonetheless already taken a step toward the stage of maturity in life and is already able to come before God, to stand face to face with God’s word and with God. Because this kind of person has experienced so much of God’s word, experienced innumerable trials and experienced innumerable instances of discipline, judgment and chastisement from God, their submission to God is not relative but absolute. Their knowledge of God has transformed from subconscious to clear and precise knowledge, from superficial to deep, from blurry and hazy to meticulous and tangible. They have moved on from strenuous fumbling and passive seeking to effortless knowledge and proactive witnessing. It can be said that people in this stage possess the reality of the truth of God’s word, that they have stepped onto a path to perfection like that path Peter walked. This is the fifth type of person, one who lives in a state of maturation—the adult stage.
December 14, 2013