1. What are notions and imaginings? What is the root cause of notions and imaginings?
Relevant Words of God:
God Himself is life, and the truth, and His life and truth coexist. Those who are incapable of gaining the truth shall never gain life. Without the guidance, support, and provision of the truth, you shall only gain letters, doctrines, and, above all, death. God’s life is ever-present, and His truth and life coexist. If you cannot find the source of truth, then you will not gain the nourishment of life; if you cannot gain the provision of life, then you will surely have no truth, and so apart from imaginations and notions, the entirety of your body shall be nothing but your flesh—your stench-ridden flesh. Know that the words of books do not count as life, the records of history cannot be feted as the truth, and the regulations of the past cannot serve as an account of words presently spoken by God. Only that which is expressed by God when He comes to earth and lives among man is the truth, life, God’s will, and His current way of working.
Excerpted from “Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
You have believed in God for all these years, and though you understand some truths, inside each of you are your own interpretations, beliefs, and imaginings—and they all contravene and contradict the intentions of God and the truth. These things are people’s notions. Everything that is at odds with the truth belongs to the notions and imaginings of man. So how do the notions of man come about? There are many different causes. Partly it is the dissemination and inculcation of knowledge; so, too, is there the creeping influence of traditional culture and the impact of social trends and certain family teachings. Overall, man has been influenced and indoctrinated by the wicked society of Satan; this is the root cause of his notions.
Excerpted from “Only by Resolving One’s Notions Can One Enter the Right Track of Believing in God (1)” in Records of Christ’s Talks
All those various fallacies that lack a pure understanding of the words of God are religious notions; they are deviant and erroneous understandings. The greatest skill of religious figures is taking the words of God understood in the past and measuring the words of God today against them. If, when serving the God of today, you cling to the things revealed by the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment in the past, then your service will cause disruption, and your practice will be outdated, nothing more than religious ceremony. If you believe that those who serve God must outwardly be humble and patient, among other qualities, and if you put this kind of knowledge into practice today, then such knowledge is a religious notion; such practice has become a hypocritical performance. The phrase “religious notions” refers to things that are outmoded and obsolete (including the understanding of words previously spoken by God and light directly revealed by the Holy Spirit), and if they are put into practice today, then they disrupt God’s work and bring no benefit to man. If people are unable to purge those things from themselves that belong to religious notions, then these things will become a great hindrance to their serving God. People with religious notions have no way of keeping up with the steps of the Holy Spirit’s work—they fall one step behind, then two. This is because these religious notions cause man to become extraordinarily self-righteous and arrogant. God feels no nostalgia for what He said and did in the past; if something is obsolete, He eliminates it. Are you truly unable to let go of your notions? If you cling to the words that God spoke in the past, does this prove that you know the work of God? If you are unable to accept the light of the Holy Spirit today, and instead cling to the light of the past, can this prove that you follow the footsteps of God? Are you still unable to let go of religious notions? If that is the case, then you will become someone who opposes God.
Excerpted from “Only Those Who Know the Work of God Today May Serve God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Because there are always new developments in God’s work, there is work that becomes obsolete and old as new work arises. These different types of work, old and new, are not contradictory, but complementary; each step follows from the last. Because there is new work, the old things must, of course, be eliminated. For example, some of the long-established practices and habitual sayings of man, coupled with man’s many years of experience and teachings, have formed all manner and form of notions in the mind of man. That God has yet fully to reveal His true face and inherent disposition to man, along with the spread, over many years, of traditional theories from ancient times have been yet more propitious to man’s formation of such notions. It may be said that, over the course of man’s belief in God, the influence of various notions has led to the continual formation and evolution of all sorts of notional understandings of God in people, which has caused many religious people who serve God to become His enemies. So, the stronger people’s religious notions are, the more they oppose God, and the more they are the enemies of God. The work of God is always new and never old; it never forms doctrine, instead changing continually and being renewed to a greater or lesser extent. Working in this way is an expression of the inherent disposition of God Himself. It is also the inherent principle of God’s work, and one of the means by which God accomplishes His management. If God did not work in this way, man would not change or be able to know God, and Satan would not be defeated. Thus, in His work, changes continually occur that appear erratic, but which are actually periodic. The way in which man believes in God, however, is quite different. He clings to old, familiar doctrines and systems, and the older they are, the more palatable they are to him. How could the foolish mind of man, a mind that is as intransigent as stone, accept so much unfathomable new work and words of God? Man abhors the God who is always new and never old; he likes only the old God, who is long of tooth, white of hair, and stuck in place. Thus, because God and man each have their own likes, man has become the enemy of God. Many of these contradictions still exist even today, at a time when God has been doing new work for almost six thousand years. They are, then, beyond remedy. Perhaps it is because of the stubbornness of man, or the inviolability of God’s administrative decrees by any man—but those clergymen and women cling still to moldy old books and papers, while God carries on with His uncompleted work of management, as if He had no one by His side. Though these contradictions make enemies of God and man, and are even irresolvable, God pays them no heed, as if they were at once there and not there. Man, however, still sticks by his beliefs and notions, and never lets go of them. Yet one thing is self-evident: Even though man does not deviate from his stance, God’s feet are always moving, and He is always changing His stance according to the environment. In the end, it is man who will be defeated without a fight. God, meanwhile, is the greatest enemy of all His defeated foes, and is also the champion of mankind, defeated and undefeated alike. Who can compete with God and be victorious? Man’s notions seem to come from God because many of them were born in the wake of God’s work. However, God does not forgive man because of this, nor, moreover, does He pour praise on man for producing batch after batch of products “for God” in the wake of His work that are outside of His work. Instead, He is extremely disgusted by man’s notions and old, pious beliefs, and does not even have a mind to acknowledge the date on which these notions first emerged. He does not accept at all that these notions are caused by His work, for the notions of man are spread by man; their source is the thoughts and mind of man—not God, but Satan. God’s intention has always been for His work to be new and alive, not old and dead, and what He has man adhere to varies with the age and period, and is not everlasting and immutable. This is because He is a God who causes man to live and be new, rather than a devil who causes man to die and be old. Do you still not understand this? You have notions about God and are incapable of letting go of them because you are close-minded. It is not because there is too little sense within God’s work, nor because the work of God diverges from human wishes, nor, moreover, is it because God is always negligent in His duties. You cannot let go of your notions because you are too lacking in obedience, and because you have not the slightest likeness of a created being; it is not because God is making things difficult for you. You caused all of this, and it bears no relation at all to God; all suffering and misfortune is created by man. God’s thoughts are always good: He does not wish to cause you to produce notions, but wishes for you to change and be renewed as the ages pass. Yet you do not know what is good for you, and are always either scrutinizing or analyzing. It is not that God is making things difficult for you, but that you have no reverence for God, and your disobedience is too great. A tiny created being, daring to take some trivial part of that which was previously given by God, then turning around and using it to attack God—is this not the disobedience of man? Humans, it is fair to say, are utterly unqualified to express their views before God, and less still are they qualified to parade around their worthless, stinking, rotten, flowery language as they wish—to say nothing of those moldy notions. Are they not even more worthless?
Excerpted from “Only Those Who Know the Work of God Today May Serve God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The work of God is always moving forward, and though the purpose of His work does not change, the method by which He works constantly changes, which means that those who follow God are constantly changing, too. The more work God does, the more thorough man’s knowledge of God is. Corresponding changes occur, too, in man’s disposition in the wake of God’s work. However, it is because the work of God is ever-changing that those who do not know the work of the Holy Spirit and those absurd people who do not know the truth start to resist God. Not ever does the work of God conform to the notions of man, for His work is always new and never old, and never does He repeat old work, but rather forges ahead with work never done before. As God does not repeat His work, and man invariably judges God’s current work by the work He did in the past, it has become exceedingly difficult for God to carry out each stage of work of the new age. Man has far too many difficulties! He is too conservative in his thinking! No one knows the work of God, yet everyone delimits it. When he leaves God, man loses life, truth, and God’s blessings, yet neither does he accept life nor truth, much less the greater blessings God bestows upon mankind. All men wish to gain God, yet are unable to tolerate any changes in God’s work. Those who do not accept God’s new work believe that the work of God is immutable, that it forever remains at a standstill. In their belief, all that is needed to gain eternal salvation from God is to observe the law, and as long as they repent and confess their sins, the will of God will always be satisfied. They are of the opinion that God can only be the God under the law and the God who was nailed to the cross for man; it is their opinion, too, that God should not and cannot exceed the Bible. It is precisely these opinions that have shackled them firmly to the laws of old and nailed them to dead rules. There are even more who believe that whatever the new work of God might be, it has to be substantiated by prophecies, and that in each stage of such work, all those who follow Him with a “true” heart must also be shown revelations; if not, such work could not be the work of God. It is already no easy task for man to come to know God. Taken in addition to man’s absurd heart and his rebellious nature of self-importance and self-conceit, it becomes all the more difficult for him to accept God’s new work. Man neither gives careful consideration to the new work of God, nor accepts it with humility; instead, he adopts an attitude of contempt as he awaits revelations and guidance from God. Is this not the behavior of those who rebel against and resist God? How can such people gain God’s approval?
Excerpted from “How Can Man Who Has Delimited God in His Notions Receive the Revelations of God?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh