Chapter 91. How to Know God’s Sovereignty
When it comes to knowing God, most of the time people take a very narrow view. They always look at what’s right in front of them, and they always rely on their viewpoints of true or false, right or wrong, black or white, or on their conceptions and imaginings to weigh things up, saying, “God is wrong to do this, God is wrong to do that.” There is nothing wrong! Everything God does is right. Is it right for God to destroy people? Say God raises up a race and causes them to prosper. You think that race shouldn’t prosper, but how is it then that they do prosper? The Jews were so defiant to God and, from man’s perspective, God should have annihilated them as soon as He became angry and cursed them—this is man’s conception and imagination. After God cursed and punished them, He allowed their race to survive, and their roots to remain, then they were scattered to all the nations of the earth, and in the end, they regained their country. God’s promise could not be altered, and those words of punishment had to be fulfilled—God’s sovereignty is this wondrous.
If you look at it from the viewpoint of true or false, right or wrong, then you will not accept some of the things God does, and will say, “This doesn’t seem like something God would do; that doesn’t seem very reasonable.” Your human conscience, emotions, viewpoint of right and wrong and ethical view will all fail to accept these things. And can your failure to accept these things be considered as the truth? So why do people not accept these things? It is caused by their conceptions; it is that the deeds of God, which they are capable of understanding with their brains and which they are capable of seeing, are limited, as is the truth that they are able to comprehend. How can this “limit” be resolved so that people are able to pass every barrier? You must receive from God; you must not make judgments or be too hasty to make definitions with anything you encounter. This is the sense that man should most have. One: Do not be too rash to make definitions. And two: Do not make judgments. “That isn’t done by God. God wouldn’t do that!” Is this being rational? No, it is not. Although God has said before, “I absolutely would not act that way. This is the truth; that is not the truth,” and although you have perhaps always said in your heart “This is how I know God,” and may now perhaps, based on your stature or the degree of your understanding, see this as correct and as the truth, God does not necessarily do things wholly in accordance with your beliefs or in accordance with the limits of your experience. God is so great and He is so hard to fathom, so profound, so wonderful and so wise! Why do we use this word “so” here? It is because man cannot fathom God. Don’t think to fathom Him—this is rational and you won’t be delimiting Him. Don’t think to delimit God, saying God should do this, that He absolutely does this and absolutely does not do that, that this way is absolutely God’s doing, and that way is absolutely not God’s doing. What do you think about the use of this word “absolutely”? You say that God is so wonderful and so wise, and then you go on to say that God absolutely does not do something—isn’t this a contradiction? This is not a true knowledge, and it is being without reason.
In this stage of work in the last days, who would have thought that God would be incarnated in China? No one would have thought this. You wouldn’t have thought it, this is a restriction on your thinking and your thinking has this limitation. You thought it would have been possible for God to be incarnated in the US or in the UK, and that it would most probably happen in Israel, in Judea, or that at the least it would have had something to do with Judea, amongst white people. You say, “It would be fine if it happened in Europe, in these developed countries like Switzerland or Sweden. How on earth did He get to China? It’s beyond comprehension!” This struck at man’s conceptions, right? China is precisely where God began to do His work, carrying out His final, most important stage of work. This is at odds with man’s conceptions, right? What have you learned from this? (God’s work is so at odds with man’s conceptions.) God’s work is beyond man’s imagination; it is wonderful and hard to fathom, it is wise, and enigmatic. These are human words that man uses to describe what God has and is, His disposition and His essence, and this is considered rational. By God doing these things that are at odds with man’s conceptions, man has come up with this summary of words. It is not that the difference between man and God is as far removed as heaven from earth, and it cannot be likewise described. What lesson have you learned from this? It is that your prior imaginings have now all been repudiated—they are all conceptions. What are conceptions? Are they right or wrong? None of them are right. So, how did your conceptions come about? You have your grounds for these conceptions: “China is poor, backward and remote. The CCP is in power, and Christians suffer cruel oppression; they have no freedom, no human rights. Chinese people are not very educated either. The status of Chinese people is so low throughout the whole world. What’s more, Chinese people are yellow, slight and withered-looking, and they don’t look like dignified people. White people all have high-bridged noses and big eyes, are broad-shouldered and they have an air about them. They are better than yellow people at everything; there’s no way God would wear the exterior of a yellow person to do His work.” Is this not a conception? Now what do you think of this conception? Is it right or wrong? (It is entirely wrong.) We won’t talk about why God wanted to be incarnated in China, whether it is because of His humility and hiddenness, or whether it has some extremely profound meaning, or is of some great value—we won’t talk about this. Instead, is there a great conflict between God doing this and man’s conceptions? There is such a great conflict. Man just cannot imagine it. Even if you found Zhuge Liang, no matter how he tried to figure this out with his fingers he still wouldn’t be able to do it. It is a heavenly mystery that no one can know—it is something that cannot be calculated. If you got together all the expert astronomers, geographers, historians and prophets, would any of them be able to figure this out? None of them would be able to figure it out. If you convened together all the talented people from times both ancient and modern and they wrote theses, they analyzed, investigated, or they used foresight, or viewed astrological phenomena through a telescope, they still wouldn’t be able to figure it out or fathom this out no matter how hard they tried. What issue does their inability to fathom this out show? It shows that mankind is so insignificant and so ignorant, and they are lacking insights, without any way to fathom God’s deeds; so don’t even try—this is what it means. If I tell you not to try and fathom it, what will the final result be if you do try again? Your conceptions do not equate to the truth, and they differ too greatly from the deeds God actually wants to do. They are simply not the same thing. After people have learned this lesson, do they then have some understanding in their hearts? Do they have some knowledge of God? Some people say: “God doesn’t discuss the things He does with us. Even if He gives us an astrological phenomenon to look at, it’s OK, and so we can understand how God does something and how He plans to do it. Even if He inspires some prophet to make prophecies for us, it will be fine.” Even were you shown an astrological phenomenon, you still wouldn’t be able to figure it out, and no prophet has that ability. Of the things God does in the spiritual world, not one secret has He divulged from ancient times up till the present. No one amongst mankind can know them, they are so secret. No matter how adept a prophet, or expert astronomer, or researcher or scientist from any industry, they would not be able to fathom God’s deeds however they researched it. You can research God’s previous work, and through analysis then maybe you would be able to discern some tiny part of a mystery or the content of His work, which may conform a little with God’s will in His work; but how God plans to work thereafter, what He wants to do or what plans He makes in His heart, these things no one knows. Therefore, don’t always be trying to fathom God before Him and don’t always be trying to fathom how God works by undergoing research and observation, by adopting long-term investigation, personal experience and comprehensive analysis, and by putting your heart into it and making efforts. It is impossible; it is not possible to reap results from doing this.
It is not possible for man to reap results by researching God, so what should they do? (Just obey.) Obedience is the best practice; obedience is the prerequisite. What is the aim of obedience? It is to be able to have more knowledge of God based on the things He does. This is something that you ought to obtain and it is the treasure you must gain. If you are able to know how God works the great events of the outside world (e.g. the international situation) or how He leads mankind, then this is better. If you say “I don’t really care about that, I don’t possess such insight, such quality or such mental ability. I just care about how God supplies me with the truth and how He changes my disposition,” then this is fine. No matter what God does, so long as you have a heart that is obedient to God, that follows God and that reveres Him, then what you will gain from God in the end will be twofold—you will gain the truth and you will also gain wisdom. There is no need to talk about the truth. The truth is that which changes man’s disposition, and it is the way man should follow. As for wisdom, what do I mean by wisdom? It is that you are unknowingly able to ascertain the ways in which God does many things. Why He does things the way He does, what His purpose is, what His aim is and what the principles are behind some things He does—through experiencing the truth and God’s words, you are unknowingly able to come to an appreciation of them. Maybe these words and these matters are so profound that you have no way to express them by using language, but you feel them in your heart and you perceive them unconsciously.
First, let’s start with the world situation. Abraham had no sons at that time, and God promised to give him a son. His wife, Sarah, thought that she couldn’t have children, so what means did she adopt? “Since God has promised to give Abraham a son and I am incapable of bearing children, I will use a human method and will find for him a young woman able to have children, and get her to bear him a son.” Did God see her doing this? God knew. Sarah’s maidservant, Hagar, bore for Abraham a son named Ishmael, and afterward, Sarah also bore a son named Isaac. Isaac was born of the mistress of the house, and was to inherit property, and Ishmael was the child born to the maidservant, and was not party to any inheritance. Afterward, Hagar was cast out and, alone and helpless, she took her child and fled to the desert. There was no water and nothing to eat in the desert, and they were close to death. At that time, Hagar prayed to Jehovah God, saying: “I have no way out, but I still have my child and I want to live on.” And what did Jehovah God do? (He sent messengers to give them water to drink.) He gave them water to drink and they lived. Thereafter, the desert became the land in which they lived. They put down roots and multiplied there, and their descendants are the Arabs of today. This is the overall situation in the outside world that no one has looked into, but that doesn’t mean that God’s deeds were not involved here. The deeds of God were involved here. It was not that someone did something in secret and God didn’t see them do it. That is absolutely not the case. God’s good will was involved here. He gave permission and He promised that the tribe of Ishmael would live on, to be used by God to bring balance to the situation in the world, and so that they would be of use when necessary. They have always contended with the Israelites for the Gaza Strip and for Jerusalem. From this, you must see that God’s deeds are involved here. God did something that, to man, is not a good thing, and they may think that God miscalculated, or that He was not in control and man took advantage of this opening. This is what most people can come up with and imagine. They think there will be times when the tiger will doze off, so they see God as a tiger, and they think that He was dozing and was not in control. In the end, Hagar gave birth to Ishmael, and God saw how pitiful this mother and son were and He allowed them to live on, then arranged for them to go into the desert to live. Is that actually what happened? God had a plan, and the birth and existence of every race play a role in balancing the whole of mankind, which means every race and people of every skin color. To see exactly what role they play, you have only to look at the situation in the world to know. Was this not God’s deed? How quickly a race propagates, what the speed of their propagation is like, how many people on earth are in this race, what role they play on earth and in all mankind, as well as the things they do, including the good things and the bad things, God is in charge of all this. When it is said that this includes the bad things they do, people think that it is not God who does the bad things, but that they are all done by Satan. Then is Satan not in God’s hands? “Satan does what it likes and God cannot control it.” Can bad things be explained in this way? It is wrong to go by logical reckoning, and this cannot be reckoned by logic. Some things appear to be bad on the surface but they all happen under God’s sovereignty, and yet you are unable to say that bad things happen by God’s design. Good things and bad things are all orchestrated and controlled within God’s hands, and they all contain God’s good will—this is the truth. You cannot look at God’s deeds from the perspective of something bad; God’s good will is within the deeds He does. What is God’s good will? People can only see something bad happening before their eyes. They can never see what will happen 10 years, 20 years or even a thousand years or two thousand years after the bad thing has happened, what position it will occupy or what decisive role it will play in the world situation or in the whole of mankind. People cannot see these things, which are under the sovereignty of God. Look at the development of the world situation and the development of all mankind—are these simple matters? What will happen where, where great events will occur, where a plague will occur and where an earthquake will happen—God is in charge of all this. Some absurd people who don’t understand spiritual matters think, “God is in charge of all things, so is He in charge of some terrorist attacks as well? Are these attacks maneuvered by God?” They see the matter from this angle, and regard it as the truth. Is this perspective correct? (No, it isn’t.) What is the contradiction in this matter? When you look at it this way, you make God play the part of the villain, and this is wrong. How should you see this matter? It is that God maneuvers all things. What is included in all things? It includes everything—the things people can see with their physical eyes, mountains and rivers, streams, trees, plants, mankind, as well as the living things that man cannot see, and the demons, Satan and all manner of spirits and ghosts in the spiritual world. All these things are in God’s charge. Whatever God causes them to do they do, whoever should come forth at which time comes forth, and they do what they should do—this is the sovereignty of God. When God does something, perhaps people are not currently able to perceive the effect it has or know what role it plays, or know why God has done it, or know God’s will, and maybe after two hundred years they may still not be able to perceive it and they will still be unaware. But after one thousand years, mankind is then convinced, and they say, “It was so right, so great for God to do this. God truly is God!” They realize that everything God does is the truth, and nothing He does is wrong.
For another example, we can take the matter of the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. The worldly people at that time thought, “It’s over. The incarnation has met His end here, He has failed, He has been crucified! Now that the Lord Jesus has been crucified, this stage of work is over, it is finished.” What did the crucifixion signify to man? It signified that this work had not been completed. “You see, Lord Jesus did not die from illness or old age, as should happen naturally. He hadn’t done much work before He was sold out by His disciple Judas and was then captured by soldiers. They whipped Him, made Him wear a crown of thorns and mocked Him, then made Him carry the cross on His back up the mountain and finally He was nailed to the cross. Hasn’t He failed?” How could they think He had failed? Was His being nailed to the cross a failure? First of all, Judas sold the Lord Jesus out and handed Him over to the government, and the government represented devils and Satan, and the forces of Satan. Was Christ being given over into Satan’s hands a good thing or a bad thing? People thought: “Oh, no! To be disturbed by devils! This is not a good thing and it is not a good omen. It is God not being in control. God does not have that great a power! How could the incarnated Christ be captured by Satan? How could He be sold out by man and given over into the hands of those in power? Isn’t this clearly Him being given over into Satan’s hands to be arbitrarily manipulated? The Lord Jesus should look for a chance to escape! And by not escaping, then doesn’t His work end there? Christ still has unfinished ministries!” Didn’t people think this way? And so Peter said: “Be it far from you, Lord: this shall not be to you” (Mat 16:22). People’s conceptions arose, didn’t they? “God can’t be given over into the hands of those in power. If He is given over to them, then He isn’t God.” Wasn’t this a conception of man? Because man had this kind of conception, they were able to say things like this, and were able to have this kind of behavior and these kinds of actions, that got in the way of God’s will being carried out. The Lord Jesus said to Peter: “Get you behind me, Satan!” (Mat 16:23) He regarded Peter as Satan. In the end, the Lord Jesus was given over into the hands of Satan, and those people became the serving objects that helped to accomplish the work of the Lord Jesus’ crucifixion. Was it a good thing or a bad thing for the Lord Jesus to be given over into Satan’s hands? Looking at it this way, it was a good thing, not a bad thing. Through this method, God’s work was accomplished. From the time Judas sold the Lord Jesus out to Him being nailed to the cross, what did God do? Did God want to escape or get anyone to come and save Him? (No.) Did He think of some way to display signs and wonders to raise the Lord Jesus up into heaven in an instant, covering Him in clouds so that the Lord Jesus would disappear? How glorious, how magnificent, to rise up into heaven! No one saw that happen, and God didn’t do that. Did God not doing that prove that He couldn’t do it? Could God have done this? (Yes.) So why didn’t He? (It was God’s good will, and He had a plan.) What was God’s plan? His plan was to have Himself given over into Satan’s hands and then to be nailed to the cross in place of those sinners, to give His precious blood and then to redeem those people; this is what He wanted to do. He didn’t do the things people imagined in their conceptions, who thought, “Strike these people down with a flash of lightning, and afterward, won’t the Lord Jesus be able to rise up into heaven and be saved? That would be so glorious, so impressive, and that would really reveal the authority of God! Make devils and Satan and those people see the consequences of wanting to nail God to the cross, and wouldn’t they then not dare to do it?” Man would not have dared to defy God, but then God’s work would not have been accomplished. Are man’s imaginings useful? Man’s conceptions are useless and they always cause interruptions to God’s work, and their good intentions are of no use either. Some people did believe in the Lord Jesus, and they believed He was the Lord Jesus even though He was nailed to the cross. But they still relied on their good intentions, saying, “He shouldn’t be crucified, it’s too pitiful. It wasn’t easy for Him to become flesh. He is so humble and hidden, He has done all this work, and He was rejected by man, misunderstood by man, and those scribes and Pharisees all vilified Him. This is so pitiful. Let Him not be crucified. He doesn’t need to humble Himself to such a level. He doesn’t have to do this.” This was how they saw things. Is it right or wrong to see things this way? Looking at it now after two thousand years, it is wrong to think that way. Do people have the truth in their minds? (No.) So what do they have in their minds? Imaginings, conceptions, their good intentions, as well as sentiment and sympathy, and some selfish motives. Can these things help to accomplish God’s work? Can they help to carry out God’s will? No, they cannot. Therefore, the Lord Jesus said: “Get you behind me, Satan!” God had to give Himself over into Satan’s hands, for Satan to nail Christ to the cross. And by means of the crucifixion He accomplished His work of redemption, without displaying any signs or wonders.
There is something often said in God’s words: “God keeps silent.” What does this mean? Does it mean that God doesn’t see, doesn’t pay attention and doesn’t know what’s going on? Is this the view and the attitude that explains it? (No.) So what then does keeping silent mean? It involves God’s will, God’s deeds and God’s disposition. What disposition of God is expressed by His keeping silent? It involves God’s wisdom. When God wants to accomplish a part of His work, no matter how many conceptions or imaginings people have, He doesn’t give any explanation, He just actually does it. And after it is done, His will is carried out, the work reaps results, He defeats Satan and gains glory, and His work on man is accomplished. He uses this kind of fact, this result, to prove to the whole of mankind and to Satan. This is His disposition and His will that are expressed by God keeping silent. What aspect of disposition is this? Can you say it clearly? (It is humble and hidden.) Does it involve God’s patience? (Yes.) Why was God patient during that time? Why did He keep silent? No created beings or non-created beings, or even angels, can comprehend God’s heart, so would it have been helpful for God to say one more word? It would not have been helpful, they would not have understood. If, two thousand years ago, God had said to mankind “I am to be crucified and I will give My precious blood, and by being the likeness of sinful flesh I shall redeem mankind,” would they have understood? (No.) What did God say? He said: “Repent you: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mat 4:17). He asked people to be patient and tolerant. Did He say anything else to them? (No, He didn’t.) Why not? (They wouldn’t have understood.) By keeping silent, God expressed His disposition and His thinking, and He had His reasons for this. If God had spoken to any created being or non-created being, they wouldn’t have understood. Therefore, God could only use His deeds and the facts to prove to mankind and to carry out His will, and He has done this all the way up to today. Two thousand years have passed, and when God speaks today, people understand Him. When people look back at the things that happened two thousand years ago, they understand the significance of the Lord Jesus being nailed to the cross, they understand why God had to be crucified, why He had to be handed over to Satan, why in that context He was sold out by Judas, why the Lord Jesus suffered so much pain after being sold out and gave every last drop of blood to accomplish His will; all this can be found in God’s words concerning the significance of the incarnation, and it can also be found in the words concerning the will of God and the mysteries of God’s management plan. People now see that the three stages of work are correlated, and they know the vision of the management plan, they understand the relevant truths and they understand God’s care and thought. If God had spoken these things to man one thousand years ago, would they have understood? No, they wouldn’t have. Therefore, most of the time that God has been doing all this work can be described by three words: He keeps silent. What are the reasons for His keeping silent? It is that God is so wise, so wonderful, so profound in doing this work, that man cannot understand it, they cannot see it clearly and they cannot comprehend it. If God had spoken of these things prematurely, then no matter how He tried people would not have understood and would not have comprehended. God can therefore only keep working, managing His work and leading mankind, and it is right so long as mankind follows after God. It’s correct for you to follow after God. He won’t lead you into a ditch. Even if He hands you over to Satan, He will take responsibility for you till the end, and you must have this faith. This is the attitude a created being should have to God: “Even if God hands me over to Satan to be its plaything, He is still God, and I cannot change my resolution to follow Him, and I cannot change my faith in Him.” This is the correct attitude to have.
It has been two thousand years since the Lord Jesus’ crucifixion, and now these people who accept God’s new work are always listening to the truth, and they understand the significance of the Lord Jesus’ work. Apart from these people, then, do those others who follow the Lord Jesus Christ understand it? They don’t understand it even now, still clinging obstinately to their imaginations, and clinging obstinately to their human conceptions of right or wrong, true or false. When some people say that the Lord Jesus was the son of a poor carpenter, and that the Lord they believe in was like this or like that, they run out of ammunition; they are unable to bear witness for God and they are so lowly! God did such a great thing for mankind, and if God did not tell people in person of the significance and the value of this event and the truth within it, then no one would be able to stand up and speak one word on God’s behalf. What do I mean by “speaking on God’s behalf”? I mean bearing witness for God’s deeds and for His sovereignty, and bearing witness for the price God paid and the thought He expended to redeem mankind, and for the significance of all these things He has done. No one comes forward to say these things, right? What do you comprehend from this? (God’s work is unimaginable to man.) It is unimaginable to man, and it is unfathomable to man. Therefore, man must take a correct position and take a correct view in their regard or their approach to God’s work, God’s guidance of man and God’s will. This correct position is crucial. You have to know who you are and who God is, what things you must possess that enable you to understand the words God says and the work He does, and what kind of attitude you should take toward the areas you simply cannot understand or fathom—this is the rationality you should have. In this way, man’s relationship with God will be relatively normal and harmonious. If you always scrutinize God, speculate about God or investigate all these things God does with an attitude of wait and see, of conjecture, of doubt or even of opposition, then you will be in trouble. This is being an academic or a researcher, and these kinds of people are not believers. You must harbor an obedient, seeking and reverential view and attitude in your approach to God’s sovereignty. This can then give rise to true knowledge and to an understanding of God. Once you understand God, you are no longer standing in opposition to Him. At the very least, you will no longer misunderstand God, and you will be able to obey, saying: “I still don’t understand exactly what the significance is of this thing God does, but I understand that everything God does is right.” What kind of understanding is this? It is an understanding in a broad sense; it is not an understanding and acceptance specific to some matter or something God says. This understanding takes vision as its foundation, and no matter what God does, it is all good, and it is all right.
Let’s take an example of this. The Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself over into Satan’s hands and was crucified by Satan, which amounted to Him being executed. “Executed” is not a pleasant word, and yet it accomplished God’s will and this was a great event, an event that had much significance and much value for the whole of mankind. Have you understood this matter thoroughly? Mankind did not understand it thoroughly, they did not see God’s will in this event, they did not comprehend the significance and value of God doing this and they did not see the great benefit God doing this had for mankind. What they did see was that, three days after the Lord Jesus’ crucifixion, He rose again and appeared to man; He met with people, He spoke with them, reminisced about times past with them and then was gone. God’s will was accomplished, however. Was this something of great significance? Have you fathomed this out? (No.) As man hasn’t fathomed this out, they must then make an accurate appraisal of themselves, and their attitude to God must also be accurate. No matter whether man understands the things God does or not, they must clap their hands over their mouths, and this is then correct. Don’t look to conduct research into everything, and that won’t do. Why won’t it do? No one is stipulating that you are not allowed to do it, it’s just that you would run up against a brick wall, and you would be in danger. You cannot thoroughly understand the things God does, you don’t know about them, and you can’t comprehend them right now. You always want to conduct research and always stand in opposition to God, yet you cannot find anything through research and you do not seek the truth, so what problems will easily arise? You will easily misunderstand God. At first, you will misunderstand, and after many misunderstandings you will think, “Why can’t I ever understand this matter?” There are many things that cannot be understood within one or two years; the truth is too profound. Even if God enlightens you now, how big is your brain? No matter how big your brain is, your brain cells are still finite. Can a dependence on brain cells allow you to thoroughly comprehend the truth? Having a large number of brain cells does not equate to being able to understand the truth. They are not proportional. You say, “I have a well-developed brain,” or “I have two brains.” But does that mean that you can understand the truth? You say, “I know about universal gravitation, and why all the things on earth fall downward and not upward. And I know that when things break free from the atmosphere they go upward, as they have broken free from the earth’s gravitational force. Then have I not fathomed God’s deeds?” How exactly God rules this gravitational force is something you do not know. You merely understand a phenomenon, but this doesn’t equate to you fathoming the way in which God rules this matter. Even if you did fathom it, would you be able to rule it? You cannot create another gravitational force outside of the atmosphere. People there just float constantly; floating, they eat biscuits and drink water, and fly all around. What can you see from this matter? (There are many things which man cannot fathom.) Correct, man cannot fathom them. Without being able to fathom these things, you still always stand in opposition to God, conducting research and investigation, always looking into these things, always thinking suspiciously, and saying, “I cannot fathom this matter, so You are not God.” What do you think of this viewpoint? It’s wrong again, isn’t it? This is again confusion arising in man’s brain. This viewpoint and this position are wrong, and they are you standing in opposition to God. Always wanting to conduct research into God is wrong. You must understand God, and say, “I am unable to understand this matter, it is too profound. Even if God enlightened me now, I still wouldn’t understand it, so I shall harbor an obedient heart and seek for several years. If God doesn’t give me the answer, I shall place this matter to one side. I shall not be estranged from God, and I shall not misunderstand Him. If I don’t have misunderstandings, then I can’t complain about God. If I don’t complain about God, then I can’t defy Him. If I don’t defy God, then I can’t be rebellious. If I’m not rebellious, then I will not abandon God, and I will not leave God. I am forever a follower of God.” On what basis does one establish oneself as forever a follower of God? It is that, whether or not the things God does conform to my conceptions, I shall obey and I shall follow Him. God is still my God, I am still a created being, and I am still a human. No matter how God treats me, wherever He may cast me, whether He casts me into a pit of fire or of mud, or He throws me to Satan or throws me to devils, I shall obey, I shall not complain to God. God’s position cannot change, my identity as a created being cannot change and, as long as this fact remains unchanged, I should follow God—God is my God forever. Once you have laid this foundation, then you will not run away. That is, the relationship between God and you with your identity as a created being, the status and identity of God in your heart and the status and identity of you as a created being—when the things you are capable of knowing have put down roots in your heart, then you will not leave God. When you are unable to leave God, then sometimes if you are weak, negative or sad, if you cannot entirely fathom God or understand Him, are these things able to influence your relationship with God? No, they are not. Your general direction has already been fixed. That is, in major areas, from external events and in your personal experiences, you have come to appreciate that every single thing God does has meaning. Perhaps there are times when someone sees this, and they say: “Everything God does has meaning and it is all good. So this means that everything God does is beneficial to me. Now let me look for something that is of no benefit to me—would it not be done by God? Would it be done by Satan who takes advantage of it? Or from this, could we say that He is not God?” This is wrong again, isn’t it? A problem has arisen here again, and you must continue to seek the truth; you have not yet passed through this aspect.
Within man, there are many thoughts, ideas and states that are often able to control their thinking, their views and the positions they take. You are capable of resolving these thoughts, ideas and states one by one, and then they will be unable to influence your relationship with God. Perhaps your stature is immature right now and you don’t possess too many truths and, because of the length of time you’ve believed in God or all kinds of other factors, you haven’t understood many truths, but you should grasp one principle: All the things God does, whether they appear on the surface to be good things or bad things, right or wrong, whether they conform to man’s conceptions or not, I should obey them all; I do not have the right to criticize them, I do not have the right to assess them, and I do not have the right to analyze or research into whether they are right or wrong. What is my duty? It is to perform my duty as a created being well, to then practice and satisfy God with the truths I am able to understand, and to not diverge from the right path. I shall understand as much as God allows me to understand; I shall seek those things which God has not enlightened me with and that I should practice; I shall obey and wait if God has not enlightened me with some things which He does not need me to understand, and maybe a day will come when God will allow me to understand them. Just like the event of the Lord Jesus’ crucifixion which we, two thousand years later, basically all understand. Even those who don’t seek very enthusiastically understand what that event was all about. There may now be some great work related to God’s management plan that you are unable to understand, but you must not misunderstand God or deny His existence, or destroy the normal relationship you have with Him because you don’t understand these things—this would be wrong. You should have a kind of attitude, a kind of viewpoint and take a kind of position that says: “As for these things I don’t understand, I shall wait. I shall wait for the day God enlightens me with them, and perhaps when God allows mankind to understand them, then we shall all understand.” When the Lord Jesus left, He said: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (Jhn 16:12). Why could they not bear them? It was because they would have been unable to understand. Like if you spoke to a small child of three or five years old about earning money, supporting a family and making it rich later in life, they would think, “So far away? What are you talking about? How come I don’t understand a word you’re saying?” If you spoke to them about playing, toys or candy, then these are things they would know about. God wants to tell people many things, things they should understand. But because their statures are too immature, or because the processes of God’s work have not yet been entirely revealed to man and they had not yet experienced them, if they knew about these things too early, then they would not understand; even if they heard them, they would take them as doctrine and understand only the literal meanings. They would not know what God is saying, so He doesn’t say them. Is it appropriate for God not to say them? Does this benefit you? (Yes.) Does it interfere with you maturing? It certainly doesn’t. It doesn’t affect you eating, it doesn’t affect you drinking, and even less does it affect your normal seeking; it doesn’t interfere with these things at all. So just relax. Seeking the truth is the most important thing and, in the final analysis, it all comes back to seeking the truth. During the course of God’s work there are some things that mankind should understand—the mysteries of some of the things God does, as well as the wisdom, the wonder and His disposition in the things He does—and man comes to understand these things little by little in the course of their following God. The aspect of knowing God does not stand alone. Knowing God is something you gradually gain through getting along with God, associating with God and being in contact with God, experiencing His words, appreciating His words, experiencing God’s work, experiencing God enlightening and guiding you, and through experiencing God’s sovereignty over you and the arrangements He makes for you. If you didn’t go through these experiences, if you stared at the sky every day with your mouth open, relying on your imagination and saying “I want to see God’s deeds,” then you would never see them. What would you see in the end? “Where is God? Did God make the moon? The sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening. Is this how God rules all things? How come I can’t see it?” In the end, you would only be able to say: “There is the Old Man in the Sky, but where God is I still have no idea.” This knowledge is empty, and at that time your faith would turn into empty words. Someone would ask you: “Do you believe in God?” And you would say, “I believe in God. I have faith.” “What religion are you?” “I’m Christian.” “How come you don’t believe in Buddhism?” “Buddhism is not the right path. Christianity is the right path.” You would be able to say these words, but you would not have gained anything. Why wouldn’t you have gained anything? Because you would not have experienced anything. Everything God has, what God has and is, God’s disposition, God’s sovereignty over and arrangements for mankind, God’s sovereignty over and arrangements for all things, the authenticity and accuracy of the words He expresses and their significance, benefit and value to man, as well as some ways in which God works—His trials, discipline, enlightenment and illumination, comfort, exhortations, and also some special ways in which God leads man—if you haven’t undergone or experienced these things, then your relationship with God will forever be: God? Followed by a line of question marks. What do these question marks represent? Whether it be in terms of God’s identity, position or in terms of His essence, He would forever be a stranger to you. He would not be your family, not your kin; He would forever be like an alien visitor—someone with no connection to you. It would be like you seeing a photo and someone else telling you that the man in the photo is your father, but you have never seen what your dad looks like. You don’t know how tall he is, what his voice or expressions are like or what makes him happy, angry or sad; you don’t know what his habits or hobbies are, what his attitude to his children is, how he would get along with you, what his views of how to conduct oneself in life are like, what his world view is, or the details of his daily life or diet. You would just look at the photo and say: “Dad, I love you, you are my dad and I am your son.” It’s like the relationship between a photo and a real person.
What now is the crux for your belief in God? How can you make your belief in God practical? How can you gain God? You must experience. What is experience? It is that you must have contact with God. How can you have contact with God? Through what can you have contact with God? Through God’s words. There are many ways to apply God’s words. For example, you have to apply God’s words when you encounter an issue and, through prayer and seeking, you see God’s words clearly state that you should do this or do that, state what the principles are, what God’s will is, and what He requires of people. When you know all these things, you will then say, “This is God’s will. I understand a little of His will, and I now comprehend a little about God.” When you encounter a trial, you say, “I’ve encountered such a great trial. What do God’s words say about it? What is the meaning behind God trying people? Why does God have to try people?” God’s words say that God must purify you, that you are corrupt, you are always rebellious, disobedient, you don’t obey God, you always have imaginings and conceptions, and that God must purify you through trials. Is this not what God’s words say? (Yes, it is.) No matter what aspect you experience, or what kind of environments God arranges for you or what method He uses, you must look for the answers in God’s words, look for the basis, and seek for God’s will and for what He requires of you. That is, no matter what issue you encounter, first of all you must think of what God says about it. Don’t always be thinking, “What do I think? What does so-and-so say? What does such-and-such a book suggest? What does that celebrity teach? What would they do if they encountered this issue?” These thoughts are all wrong, they are a dead end, and this is not what a believer should do or the path they should walk.
How can God and man be joined? How can you come to know God? How does God work on man? He uses words to reveal His will, uses words to guide you to the path you should walk, uses words to try you, and He uses words to tell you of all the requirements and criteria He has for you. Understand this, and you have grasped the root of the matter. Unknowingly, you come to understand all aspects of the truth within God’s words: the principles of getting along with others and handling matters, how to treat brothers and sisters, how to approach church work and your duties, how you should experience trials, how to be loyal to God, how to give things up and how to approach the world. All these truths can be found within God’s words, and God has told them all to you. And to what level do you ultimately experience in your belief in God? You say, “I see God within His words.” Some people ask: “Where is this God you believe in?” Those who have had no experience think, “Yes, where is God? God has never appeared to me before. It’s always said that God is in the third heaven, but I haven’t seen Him. I have no idea exactly how big God is, how tall, how big His hands are, how big His feet are, how old He is, how long He sleeps every day, whether or not He can drive a car or fly a plane.” When you have experience, you will say: “None of those things are important. From the first day I believed in God when I began to come into contact with God’s words, up until now having believed in God for more than 20 years, I have seen God’s disposition and His essence within His words.” In layman’s terms, you are saying “I understand Him, and within His words I have seen what His character and nature are like, what He is fond of doing, what His joy, anger, sorrow, and delight are and how He lives. And after I have read God’s words and have these years of experience, one day when God comes amongst us, when He is right next to me, speaks with me, has a conversation with me and has contact with me, I shall be able to verify that this is the God who has expressed these words, and that He is indeed the One that I believe in! Whether He becomes an old man, an old woman, or becomes a small child, so long as the words He speaks are of the same source as these words, then He will be my God, the God who came down from heaven, the One who rules my destiny and all things; it shall be Him.” At that time, would you still need God to become formless air or a cloud floating in the sky that speaks to you? No, you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t have that kind of curiosity. Why is that? You have these years of experience and you are in contact with God. You cannot say you have knowledge of God or are very familiar with Him, but at the very least, through His words, through experiencing His words or through experiencing His work, He is no longer a stranger to you. He is with you, leading your life, dominating every day of your life, dominating your destiny, and He understands your joy, anger, sorrow, and delight so very well; you know His joy, anger, sorrow, and delight too, and you don’t misunderstand Him or complain about Him. He has a place in your heart, and one can even say He sits upon the throne in your heart. Within your heart, He is able to take charge of you, and within your heart He reigns as King. What do I mean by “within your heart He reigns as King”? I mean that, no matter what issue you encounter, you can resolve it with God’s words. It means to have God’s words take charge in your heart, and not take charge yourself. The knowledge and culture that you’ve studied, the books you’ve read, your life experiences and the things you’ve seen—none of these can guide you. God’s words can guide everything of you, and God’s words become your expressions and what you live out every day in real life, only then will you be in possession of the reality of the truth. At that time, if others ask you again: “Do you know God?” you will say: “I have a little knowledge of God. I dare not use words to describe and define how great God is, nor do I dare define His great wisdom. But at least I know that He is hard to fathom; He is so wise, so wonderful, He loves man so much, His love is so great, He is so real, and His disposition is so righteous!” So, is this little bit of knowledge more valuable than those fictitious, illusory conceptions and imaginings that people have? (Yes.) Where are these valuable things gained from? (From experience.) They are gained by experiencing God’s words. That is, after God’s words have provided for you over these years, they take root, they blossom and yield fruits in you, and you live them out. And how do you achieve the result of living out God’s words? (We experience bit by bit through the people, matters and things that God arranges around us.) It comes from experience. That is, during this time you are constantly validating God’s words, authenticating every word God says as being the truth and as being what your life needs. At that time, if someone says: “The God you believe in is not God. He doesn’t exist and you can’t see Him,” what will you say? You will say: “What you say doesn’t count, what they say doesn’t count and what I say doesn’t count. The facts of God’s existence and His domination of all things are what count; these years of my real experiences of God’s words and His work are what count.” This is proof and this is a testimony to God, right? At that point, if someone else says, “Where is God?” how will you respond? (He is in the heart of everyone who believes in God.) God already lives within people’s hearts, but He is also among all things and He is right beside us—this is the existence of God and you cannot deny it; what you experience is more real than what you see. Do you know God upon seeing Him? Suppose God’s spiritual body came amongst man and said: “I am God.” You would jump with fright and say “You’re God? How come I don’t know You? I won’t accept this kind of God.” You would instead be frightened, right? Why would you react that way? Because you don’t know God, you would then have that kind of attitude to Him and have that kind of expression.
What is most important to man? The most important thing is to experience God’s words. The wrong states, the states of being in opposition to God, the rebellious states and the wrong views that people have through experiencing God’s words are all things that must be reversed and you must use the truth to resolve them. In this way, your inner states will gradually get better and better, and furthermore your relationship with God will also get better and better, and you will then be able to perceive even more the existence of God. If you have a bad relationship with God, then you will be unable to perceive God’s existence. Doesn’t this involve some truths? If man’s belief in God is always like living in a vacuum—not coming into contact with anything, not associating with anything, not seeing anything, not knowing anything, staying behind closed doors like the nuns and monks who practice Buddhism or Taoism—then that is not the right path to take. If man knows how to see things and is capable of experiencing them, then they will be able to see God’s deeds in many things. But there are some things that, to the majority of people, are too profound and that cannot be reached. In which case, don’t overstretch yourself and neglect what is right in front of you; make effort with God’s words and learn to compare yourself with His words. What do I mean by “compare yourself with His words”? It is that which is exposed in this passage of God’s words—you must examine yourself to see whether or not you have this state, what state you are in, what these words spoken by God are referring to and which of mankind’s states they are aimed at. Sometimes people listen once to God’s words and the words pass them by unheeded. “What God is saying is not aimed at us. God is talking about them. It’s not about me.” This won’t do, and it shows that God’s words have so far had no effect on you; you haven’t yet eaten them and taken them within yourself. You continue to experience until a day comes when you hear God’s words and say, “The way I thought back then was wrong. These words of God are not talking about other people—they are talking about me.” This is right, and you will have compared yourself against God’s words. Being able to compare yourself against God’s words is just the beginning, and it is just the start of your entry into God’s words. You perhaps still won’t know, however, what exactly the states God talks about are referring to, and you must still go through a seeking phase: What are the truths within these words God says? What is the path He gives you? What does He require of you? There are some detailed issues; you cannot just examine or dissect your superficial states and then stop there. What is the purpose of God dissecting people’s states and making you examine your own states? (It is so that we turn ourselves around and so that we have a path to practice.) That’s right, it is so that you turn yourselves around. God says that this state is wrong, and by living in this state or by having this view you are then capable of defying God; this is being rebellious, God is displeased, it is a corrupt disposition, it pertains to Satan and not to the truth, and you must turn yourselves around. Besides turning yourselves around, you must also understand what God requires. Within His requirements can be found the truth, and you must try to understand God’s will and say, “What does God require in this matter? How must I turn myself around and cast off this kind of state? How must I resolve this state?” This comes down to seeking the truth. It’s not enough for you to compare yourselves against God’s words. After you compare yourselves against God’s words, you merely praise God, saying, “God scrutinizes the innermost heart of man, God is so wise, He understands my states so well, and He knows all about these detailed things of me that I don’t know about!” Do you stop there? This is nowhere near enough and it is not what God requires. What He requires is for you to relinquish that state and dispose of it. It is a corrupt disposition and, after you have disposed of it, you must go on to practice in accordance with the truth. Does a kind of external behavior show that you have practiced in accordance with the truth? No. Your inner state must change. When you practice the truth, when you seek and understand the principles of the truth, your state must be reversed. But to what extent must it be reversed for it to be right? You must relinquish that point of view you used to have, not act on it anymore, know whether it’s right or wrong, know where its mistakes lie, what its faults are, and then dispose of it, and relinquish it. And once you’ve relinquished it, you are empty inside. The moment you relinquish those worldly things or views, you then think, “How come I feel empty inside? I am nothing anymore.” And you are in trouble once again. Straight away, you must seek, “What does God require? What kind of person does God want me to be? I’ve relinquished my previous views, so what kind of views does God want me to have that are correct?” You should then seek for the truth to be practiced in the next stage.
What views God requires people to adopt that are right, what He wants people to possess, what kind of views they possess are right and what kind of views they possess are wrong—there is a process that people must go through before they can understand these things, and they need to seek further. Through further seeking and making further comparisons, people will know where the faults lie in wrong views and what God requires of them. When they make comparisons, they understand what God’s requirements are like, but they are temporarily unable to accept these kinds of requirements from God, saying, “Can this be the truth? It can’t be!” People always say it can’t be and they always run up against a brick wall. Unknowingly, one day they think: “It’s God’s words that are correct. I must accept them!” People have living thoughts, they have corrupt dispositions and ideas, so they always deliberate and analyze whether God’s words are right or wrong. People are not that simple. If they were, things would become much easier. When people encounter an environment, or some others say some absurd things or some absurd views, their heart is swayed, swaying this way and that, until finally a day comes when they accept God’s words, and they realize, “Turns out my fault was right here. Now I understand.” Does understanding mean they are then able to practice the truth? They’re not willing to do this. They think, “And deny myself in this way? I’m a great man, a real man. I have such status in society, am I ready to be convinced right now? So quickly? Isn’t it a little too soon?” No matter what they think in their heart, their rebelliousness always exists, as do their corrupt dispositions. It is not so easy for them to accept the truth, and it is not so simple and straightforward to directly receive it and regard it as the truth to be accepted. They know perfectly well that this is the truth but they still cannot practice it absolutely so quickly. This verifies one thing: Man has the essence of corrupt dispositions, and the essence of Satan, within them. God’s words and all His work are there to resolve this essence within man, to excavate these corrupt things within man bit by bit, resolve them little by little and purify them little by little. In this way, they are continually purified, and man’s views gradually become compatible with God’s views and with the truth. When you become a little compatible with God, then you will not misunderstand God on this aspect and, if there is any area in which you misunderstand God, you should seek the truth to do with that aspect, instead of saying, “This view I have is correct and reasonable. Many people side with me, and that view that God has is….” You don’t dare to say directly that God’s view is wrong, but your meaning would be “This point is at odds with the truth!” People are always squabbling with God in this way, contesting and fighting, fighting and contesting with God. But in the end, if you are someone who accepts and practices the truth, then you will still be convinced before the word of God. This process is the process by which God gains man. When you accept the truth, when you practice it and have accepted it in its entirety, then you will be compatible with God on this aspect and will no longer be quarrelsome or rebellious.
For instance, within an apple there are the seeds for 10 trees. You sprinkle these seeds into the ground and, according to the knowledge that you’ve learned, (perhaps you have studied botany or researched agriculture, for example) you know that from these seeds 10 trees will grow, and you know how much fruit they will bear after a number of years. This is a conclusion drawn according to scientific basis and theory, and you hold fast to that conclusion. When God says, “From 10 seeds, 11 trees shall grow,” you don’t believe it, and you say, “Is that possible? God’s arithmetic isn’t very good. How can 10 seeds grow 11 trees?” In fact, there is a hidden seed that you haven’t seen. On what basis do you hold to your view? You base it on scientific proof and on the knowledge you’ve learned. These things take control of your thinking and you become unable to transcend these limits. You take these things as your criteria and so you do not take God’s words as your criteria—this is the rebelliousness of man. You think: “I have a basis for this view. How can You say that my conclusion is not the truth? What You say is groundless. How can You say that Your view is the truth? You have no basis for that! How many people have proven it? Who has proven it? Who has seen it? Where are the facts?” You repudiate God’s words before having seen the facts. It’s not that you question God’s words, it’s that you immediately say they’re wrong. “God speaks wrongly. Only my view is correct, for my view has been proven. I’m an academic in this field, I’m a professional, so my conclusion should gain approval.” 10 trees can grow from 10 seeds—to you, the number of seeds equal the number of trees. When God says that 11 trees will grow, you don’t believe His words. In the end, the fact is that 11 trees grow, so are you then convinced? (Yes.) Are you completely convinced? How are you convinced? (We look at the fact.) And when you see the fact, you begin to disavow your own knowledge and your own conclusion. Furthermore, a battle commences within your heart, and you think, “How could I be wrong? Can science be wrong? Can even science be mistaken?” There is a process, and during this process people will deliberate and analyze whether God’s words are right or wrong, and will cross-check them, saying, “Which is correct—God’s words or proven science? Which has the greater probability of being correct? Which is more correct?” People still don’t entirely accept the fact. A number of years must go by, and only then are they convinced of the fact and this process of God’s work. Neither God’s words or His actions are groundless. He gives you a process so that you may see this result, and at the same time He allows you to experience and learn from this process. What does this process allow you to gain? (A kind of knowledge of God.) This process allows you to truly affirm the thing God does. He doesn’t ask you to speak groundlessly, “You are God. You are great, noble, wise and wonderful.” He doesn’t ask you to bear witness to Him in this way; He uses facts so that you may experience and see this thing. God will not say to you, “Go away. Saying that 10 trees will grow is wrong. I’ll make you suffer!” He wouldn’t disavow you in that way, nor would He wrangle with you. He takes a fact and uses it to illustrate this matter, so that you may see it with your own eyes. Perhaps God tells you about this matter when you’re 20 years old, but He does not say, “I am right, I am the truth and you have to listen to Me.” God doesn’t say this. He just does this thing, and when you reach 30 years old you see the result. It can take this long. Does God wrangle with you during this time? (No.) Who is it that wrangles? People themselves wrangle with God, saying, “You’re wrong. What You say is unreasonable and is at odds with science. You do things arbitrarily, and the things You do are at odds with reason.” People wrangle with God very easily, and God says not one word. He just continues to work and, 10 years later when you are 30 years old, you discover a fact and you become frightened, saying “It turns out I was wrong.” At the time when you say “I was wrong,” the conclusion of that matter has actually already taken shape, but are you able to accept it? You just accept the phenomenon; in your heart, you don’t know what it’s all about. How many more years do you need to experience it? Perhaps you need to experience it for 10 more years, and use those 10 years to learn about it, to verify that the conclusion about this thing God has done is correct, that God is the truth, that God is right, and that you are wrong. And when you reach 40 years old you are utterly convinced. “Only God is the truth, God really is God, God’s deeds are truly wonderful and truly real! God is so wise!” You disavow yourself. How many years have you been experiencing? (20 years.) And what things has God done in these 20 years? God doesn’t use some formula to tell you the ins and outs of Newton’s Law. He uses a fact to show you some phenomena and, by means of these phenomena and the things that happen around you, He enlightens and guides you to contemplate about these things. After being guided for a few years, you gain a little knowledge, and say, “I am wrong, but am I completely wrong?” So, you go forth and experience some more, and God arranges some more facts for you; when you reach 40 years old, another 10 years have passed, and you acknowledge that you were wrong. This is the way God works, and this is what He does. Through what process do you come to realize that you are wrong and God is right? It is through the process of encountering facts, and you come to realize this under the enlightenment and guidance of God—it is this kind of process. God will not just give you a conclusion and ask you to believe in it without any basis. Is it OK for God to compel you to understand? (Yes.) If God forcibly controlled you and made you understand, you would understand and you would know that God is right in any case. But to turn you into robots is not what God wants. God wants you to understand the truth within it, and this takes time.
Is God’s work practical? His work is so practical! The practicality of God’s work is the opposite of things such as people’s imaginary and vague views. Ponder, therefore, which things within yourself are imaginary, which things are empty, which things are impractical and which things do not take God’s words as their basis. After you have discovered these things, completely disavow them all; this is the right thing to do and is most certainly correct. You understand a little now, right? You have to experience in this way. The God who created all things created so much, and so great is His wisdom that, if you think you can thoroughly experience and understand this matter in a few years, then that is just not possible. Even after a lifetime of experience, you still wouldn’t be able to understand it. So, you must begin with small matters, start by getting a hold on thoughts and ideas, and begin with the small things; your heart must be careful, and you must learn to be quiet, and not be restless. What do I mean by “quiet”? It means to be quiet before God, to retreat into your spirit, to not focus on doing external things or rushing around, and to have your inner spiritual seeking and prayer unaffected by your busy affairs. And gradually, you will gain God’s work. You must pay a price, and expend time, energy and thought before you can gain these things.