7. Some people think that believing in God means being committed to attending church on Sundays, making donations and being charitable, and regularly attending church activities. They believe that by doing these things, they can be saved. Are such views in line with God’s will?
Bible Verses for Reference:
“Not every one that said to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? and in Your name have cast out devils? and in Your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you that work iniquity” (Mat 7:21–23).
“The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” (Mat 11:12).
“Truly I say to you, Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 18:3).
Relevant Words of God:
Though many people believe in God, few understand what faith in God means, and what they must do to conform to God’s will. This is because, though people are familiar with the word “God” and phrases such as “the work of God,” they do not know God, and still less do they know His work. No wonder, then, that all those who do not know God are muddled in their belief of Him. People do not take belief in God seriously, and this is entirely because believing in God is too unfamiliar, too strange for them. In this way, they fall short of God’s demands. In other words, if people do not know God, and do not know His work, then they are not fit for God’s use, and still less are they able to satisfy His will. “Belief in God” means believing that there is a God; this is the simplest concept as regards believing in God. What’s more, believing that there is a God is not the same as truly believing in God; rather, it is a kind of simple faith with strong religious overtones. True faith in God means the following: On the basis of the belief that God holds sovereignty over all things, one experiences His words and His work, purges one’s corrupt disposition, satisfies the will of God, and comes to know God. Only a journey of this kind may be called “faith in God.” Yet people often see belief in God as a simple and frivolous matter. People who believe in God in this way have lost what it means to believe in God, and though they may continue to believe until the very end, they shall never gain God’s approval, because they tread upon the wrong path. There are still those today who believe in God according to letters and in hollow doctrine. They do not know that they lack the essence of belief in God, and they cannot receive God’s approval. Still they pray to God for blessings of safety and sufficient grace. Let us stop, quiet our hearts, and ask ourselves: Can it be that believing in God really is the easiest thing on earth? Can it be that believing in God means nothing more than receiving much grace from God? Are people who believe in God without knowing Him or who believe in God and yet oppose Him really able to satisfy the will of God?
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Preface
Some people always think: “Isn’t believing in God simply a matter of attending meetings, singing songs, listening to the word of God, praying, and fulfilling some duties? Isn’t that what it’s all about?” No matter how long you have believed in God, you still have not gained a thorough understanding of the significance of belief in God. In fact, the significance of belief in God is so profound that people are unable to fathom it. In the end, the things within people that are of Satan and the things of their nature must change and must become compatible with the requirements of the truth; only in this way can one truly attain salvation. If, as you used to when you were within the religion, you just spout some words of doctrine or shout out slogans, and then do a few good deeds, exhibit a bit more good behavior and refrain from committing some sins, some obvious sins, this still does not mean that you have set foot upon the right track of believing in God. Does being able to abide by the rules indicate that you are walking the correct path? Does it mean that you have chosen correctly? If the things within your nature have not changed, and in the end you are still resisting and offending God, then this is your biggest problem. If, in your belief in God, you do not resolve this problem, then can you be considered to have been saved? What do I mean by saying this? I mean to make you all understand in your hearts that a belief in God cannot be separated from God’s words, from God, or from the truth. You must choose your path well, put effort into the truth, and put effort into God’s words. Do not just gain half-baked knowledge or obtain more or less of an understanding and then think you are done; if you fool yourself, you will only hurt yourself. People should not deviate in their belief in God; in the end, if they do not have God in their hearts and they merely hold up a book and glance at it fleetingly, yet do not leave room for God in their hearts, then they are finished.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. In Believing in God, Choosing the Right Way Is Most Crucial
The significance of belief in God is to be saved, so what does being saved mean? “Being saved,” “breaking away from the dark influence of Satan”—people talk about these topics often, but they do not know what being saved means. What does being saved mean? It relates to God’s will. Simply speaking, to be saved means you can keep on living, and that you are brought back to life. So before that, are you dead? You can speak, and you can breathe, so how can you be said to be dead? (The spirit is dead.) Why is it said that people are dead if their spirit is dead? What is the basis for this saying? Under whose domain do people live before they have attained salvation? (Under the domain of Satan.) And what do people rely on to live under Satan’s domain? (Satan’s philosophies and poisons.) They rely on their satanic nature and corrupt dispositions to live. When a person lives by these things, is their whole being—their flesh, and all other aspects such as their soul and their thought—alive or dead? From God’s point of view, they are dead. On the surface, you appear to be breathing and thinking, but everything you are constantly thinking about is evil; you think about things that are in defiance of God and in rebellion against God, things that God detests, hates, and condemns. In God’s eyes, all these things not only belong to the flesh, but they entirely belong to Satan and to devils. So what are people in God’s eyes? Are they humans? No, they are not. God sees them as devils, as animals, and as Satans, living Satans! People live by the things and the essence of Satan, and in God’s eyes, they themselves are living Satans wearing human flesh. God defines such people as walking corpses; as dead people. God does His current work of salvation to take such people—these walking corpses who live by their corrupt satanic dispositions and by their corrupt satanic essence—He takes these so-called dead people and turns them into the living. This is what it means to be saved.
The point of believing in God is to attain salvation. Being saved means that you turn from a dead person into a living person. The implication of this is that your breath is revived, and you are alive; you are able to know God, and you are able to bow down to worship Him. In your heart you have no further resistance against God; you no longer defy Him, attack Him, or rebel against Him. Only people like these are genuinely alive in God’s eyes. If someone just says they acknowledge God, are they then one of the living or not? (No, they aren’t.) So what kind of people are the living? What sort of reality do the living possess? At the very least, the living can speak human language. What is that? It means the words they utter involve ideas, thoughts, and discernment. What things do the living frequently think about and do? They are able to engage in human activities and fulfill their duties. What is the nature of what they do and say? It is that everything they reveal, everything they think, and everything they do is done with the nature of fearing God and shunning evil. To put it more aptly, as one of the living, your every deed and every thought are not condemned by God or detested and rejected by God; rather, they are approved and commended by God. This is what the living do, and it is also what the living should do.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only With True Obedience Can One Have Genuine Faith
A normal spiritual life is not limited to such practices as praying, singing hymns, participating in church life, and eating and drinking of God’s words. Rather, it involves living a new and vibrant spiritual life. What matters is not how you practice, but what fruit your practice bears. Most people believe that a normal spiritual life necessarily involves praying, singing hymns, eating and drinking the words of God or pondering His words, regardless of whether such practices actually have any effect or lead to true understanding. These people focus on following superficial procedures without any thought to their results; they are people who live in religious rituals, not people who live within the church, and much less are they people of the kingdom. Their prayers, hymn singing, and eating and drinking of God’s words are all just rule-following, done out of compulsion and to keep up with trends, not out of willingness nor from the heart. However much these people pray or sing, their efforts will bear no fruit, for what they practice is just the rules and rituals of religion; they are not actually practicing God’s words. They focus only on making a fuss over how they practice, and they treat God’s words as rules to follow. Such people are not putting God’s words into practice; they are just gratifying the flesh, and performing for other people to see. These religious rules and rituals are all human in origin; they do not come from God. God does not follow rules, nor is He subject to any law. Rather, He does new things every day, accomplishing practical work. Like people in the Three-Self Church, who limit themselves to practices such as attending morning services every day, offering evening prayers and prayers of gratitude before meals, and giving thanks in all things—however much they do and for however long they do it, they will not have the work of the Holy Spirit. When people live amidst rules and have their hearts fixed on methods of practice, the Holy Spirit cannot work, because their hearts are occupied by rules and human notions. Thus, God is unable to intervene and work on them, and they can only continue living under the control of laws. Such people are forever incapable of receiving God’s praise.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Regarding a Normal Spiritual Life
Since you do believe in God, then you must eat and drink His words, experience His words, and live out His words. Only this can be called belief in God! If you say you believe in God with your mouth and yet are unable to put any of His words into practice or to produce any reality, this is not called believing in God. Rather, it is “seeking bread to satisfy hunger.” Speaking only of trivial testimonies, useless things, and superficial matters, without possessing even the slightest bit of reality: these do not constitute belief in God, and you have simply not grasped the right way of believing in God. Why must you eat and drink as many as possible of God’s words? If you do not eat and drink His words but seek only to ascend to heaven, is that believing in God? What is the first step one who believes in God should take? By what path does God perfect man? Can you be perfected without eating and drinking the words of God? Can you be considered a person of the kingdom without the words of God to serve as your reality? What exactly does belief in God mean? Believers in God should, at the very least, be well-behaved on the outside; most important of all is to be possessed of the words of God. No matter what, you can never turn away from His words. Knowing God and fulfilling His intentions are all achieved through His words. In future, every nation, denomination, religion, and sector will be conquered through God’s words. God will speak directly, and all people will hold the words of God in their hands, and by means of this, humanity will be perfected. Within and without, the words of God pervade throughout: Humanity will speak God’s words with their mouths, practice in accordance with God’s words, and keep the words of God within, remaining steeped in God’s words both inside and out. Thus will humanity be perfected. Those who fulfill the intentions of God and are able to bear witness to Him, these are the people who possess the words of God as their reality.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Age of Kingdom Is the Age of Word
What is real belief in God today? It is the acceptance of God’s word as your life reality and the knowing of God from His word in order to achieve a true love of Him. To be clear: Belief in God is so that you may obey God, love God, and perform the duty that should be performed by a creature of God. This is the aim of believing in God. You must achieve a knowledge of the loveliness of God, of how worthy God is of reverence, of how, in His creatures, God does the work of salvation and making them perfect—these are the bare essentials of your belief in God. Belief in God is principally the switch from a life of the flesh to a life of loving God; from living within corruption to living within the life of God’s words; it is coming out from under the domain of Satan and living under the care and protection of God; it is being able to achieve obedience to God and not obedience to the flesh; it is allowing God to gain your entire heart, allowing God to make you perfect, and freeing yourself from the corrupt satanic disposition. Belief in God is principally so that the power and glory of God may be manifested in you, so that you may do God’s will, and accomplish God’s plan, and be able to bear testimony to God before Satan. Belief in God should not revolve around the desire to behold signs and wonders, nor should it be for the sake of your personal flesh. It should be about the pursuit of knowing God, and being able to obey God, and, like Peter, obeying Him until one’s death. These are the main aims of believing in God. One eats and drinks the word of God in order to know God and satisfy Him. Eating and drinking the word of God gives you a greater knowledge of God, only after which can you obey Him. Only with knowledge of God can you love Him, and this is the goal man should have in his belief in God. If, in your belief in God, you are always trying to behold signs and wonders, then the viewpoint of this belief in God is wrong. Belief in God is principally the acceptance of the word of God as life reality. The aim of God is only attained by putting into practice the words of God from His mouth and carrying them out within yourself. In believing in God, man should strive to be made perfect by God, to be able to submit to God, and for complete obedience to God. If you can obey God without complaint, be mindful of God’s desires, achieve the stature of Peter, and possess the style of Peter spoken of by God, then that will be when you have achieved success in belief in God, and it will signify that you have been gained by God.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. All Is Achieved by the Word of God
You must know what kind of people I desire; those who are impure are not permitted to enter into the kingdom, those who are impure are not permitted to besmirch the holy ground. Though you may have done much work, and worked for many years, in the end if you are still deplorably filthy, then it will be intolerable to the law of Heaven that you wish to enter My kingdom! From the foundation of the world until today, never have I offered easy access to My kingdom to those who curry favor with Me. This is a heavenly rule, and no one can break it! You must seek life. Today, those who will be made perfect are the same kind as Peter: They are those who seek changes in their own disposition, and who are willing to bear testimony to God and perform their duty as a creature of God. Only people such as this will be made perfect. If you only look to rewards, and do not seek to change your own life disposition, then all your efforts will be in vain—this is an unalterable truth!
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks