2. What notions does man harbor about God and God’s work?
Relevant Words of God:
All men wish to see the true countenance of Jesus, and all desire to be with Him. I do not think that any brother or sister would say that they do not wish to see or to be with Jesus. Before you have seen Jesus—before you have seen the incarnate God—you are likely to entertain all sorts of ideas, for example, about Jesus’ appearance, His way of speaking, His way of life, and so on. But once you have really seen Him, your ideas will swiftly change. Why is this? Do you wish to know? Man’s thinking cannot be overlooked, which is true—but more than that, the essence of Christ does not brook alteration by man. You think Christ an immortal or a sage, but no one considers Him a normal man possessed of divine essence. As such, many of those who yearn day and night to see God are actually enemies of God, and are incompatible with Him. Is this not a mistake on the part of man? Even now you still think that your belief and loyalty are enough to make you worthy of beholding the countenance of Christ, but I exhort you to equip yourselves with more things that are practical! For in the past, present, and future, many of those who come in contact with Christ have failed or will fail; they all play the role of the Pharisees. What is the reason for your failure? It is precisely because there is in your notions a God who is lofty and deserving of admiration. But the truth is not as man wishes. Not only is Christ not lofty, but He is particularly small; not only is He a man, but He is an ordinary man; not only can He not ascend to heaven, but He cannot even move about freely on earth. And this being so, people treat Him as they would an ordinary man; they treat Him casually when they are with Him, and speak to Him heedlessly, all the while still waiting for the coming of the “true Christ.” You take the Christ that has already come for an ordinary man, and His words for those of an ordinary man. For this reason, you have not received anything from Christ, and have instead completely exposed your own ugliness to the light.
Excerpted from “Those Who Are Incompatible With Christ Are Surely Opponents of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Throughout many years of work, you have seen many truths, but do you know what My ears have heard? How many among you are willing to accept the truth? You all believe you are willing to pay the price for the truth, but how many of you have truly suffered for the truth? There is nothing but unrighteousness in your hearts, which makes you think that everyone, no matter who they are, is equally deceitful and crooked—to the point that you even believe that God incarnate could, like a normal person, be without a kind heart or benevolent love. More than that, you believe that a noble character and a merciful, benevolent nature exist only within the God in heaven. You believe that such a saint does not exist, that only darkness and evil reign on earth, while God is something with which people entrust their longing for the good and beautiful, a legendary figure fabricated by them. In your minds, the God in heaven is very upstanding, righteous, and great, worthy of worship and admiration; this God on earth, meanwhile, is but a substitute, and an instrument, of the God in heaven. You believe this God could not be the equal of the God in heaven, much less be mentioned in the same breath as Him. When it comes to the greatness and honor of God, they belong to the glory of the God in heaven, but when it comes to the nature and the corruption of man, they are attributes in which the God on earth has a part. The God in heaven is eternally lofty, while the God on earth is forever insignificant, weak, and incompetent. The God in heaven is not given to emotion, only righteousness, while the God on earth only has selfish motives and is without any fairness or reason. The God in heaven has not the slightest crookedness and is forever faithful, while the God on earth always has a dishonest side. The God in heaven loves man dearly, while the God on earth shows man inadequate care, even neglecting him entirely. This erroneous knowledge has long been kept within your hearts and may also be perpetuated in the future. You regard all deeds of Christ from the standpoint of the unrighteous and evaluate all His work, as well as His identity and essence, from the perspective of the wicked. You have made a grave mistake and done that which has never been done by those coming before you. That is, you serve only the lofty God in heaven with a crown upon His head, and never attend to the God whom you regard as so insignificant that He is invisible to you. Is this not your sin? Is this not a classic example of your offense against the disposition of God? You worship the God in heaven. You adore lofty images and esteem those distinguished for their eloquence. You are gladly commanded by the God that fills your hands with riches, and crave the God who can fulfill your every desire. The only One you do not worship is this God who is not lofty; the only thing you hate is association with this God whom no man can regard highly. The only thing you are unwilling to do is to serve this God who has never given you a single penny, and the only One who is unable to make you yearn for Him is this unlovely God. This kind of God cannot enable you to broaden your horizons, to feel as if you have found a treasure, much less fulfill what you wish. Why, then, do you follow Him? Have you given thought to questions like this? What you do does not merely offend this Christ; more importantly, it offends the God in heaven. This is not, I think, the purpose of your faith in God!
Excerpted from “How to Know the God on Earth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Some people say, “I can’t accept it when Christ says I’m bad. I’d only accept it if the God in heaven said there was something bad about me. The incarnate God has normal humanity; His judgments can often be wrong, and much of what He does is not 100% correct. There are some questions over whether He could be mistaken in His assessment and condemnation of people, or in how He handles and makes arrangements for them. So I’m not afraid what Christ—the God on earth—says about me, for He cannot condemn me or determine my end.” Do such people exist? They certainly do! When I deal with them, they say, “The God in heaven is righteous!” When I handle them, they say, “I believe in God, not some person!” They use these words to rebuff Me. And what are these words? They are a denial of God and Christ. What they mean is, “This is not up to You, but the God of heaven.” In their notions and in their understanding of God, these people will never realize the connection between the incarnate Christ and the God in heaven—what the relationship is between the flesh and the Spirit in heaven. In their eyes, this small person on earth will always be just a person, and no matter how many truths this person expresses, how many sermons He preaches, He is still a human; even if He makes some people complete, and brings them salvation, He will still be on earth, He will still be a person, and incapable of transcending the God in heaven. Thus, these people believe that faith in God must be the faith in the God in heaven; to them, only belief in the God in heaven is the true belief in God. They believe however they wish. They believe in whatever makes them happy, and God is whatever they imagine Him to be. They follow their own imagination when it comes to the incarnate Christ, too: “If this God on earth were a little nicer to me, if He were pleasing to me, then I would respect Him, and love Him. If He isn’t good to me, if He has a problem with me, if He has a bad attitude toward me, and always prunes and deals with me, then He is not my God; I choose to believe in the God in heaven.” People with this attitude are not in the minority. They include you, too, for I have already encountered such people. When all is well, they are pretty nice to Me, and attentive in their service, but as soon as I handle them, they turn against Me. So when they are being good to God, do they really believe that this is God, and Christ? No: What they are eyeing up is the identity and status of God, their every move is nothing more than fawning over the status and identity of God. In their minds, the invisible God in heaven they believe in will always be the true God; no matter how many truths this God on earth expresses, how edifying and beneficial He is to man, the mere fact that He lives amid normal humanity and is of a fleshly body means that, regardless of how they flatter, serve, and respect Him, in their hearts these people still believe that the God in heaven is the only true God. What do you think of this view? It is fair to say that such a view exists deep in many people’s hearts, that it is buried deep in their subconscious. At the same time as accepting the provision of Christ, and all of the sermons preached by Christ and words spoken by Him, they are also studying, questioning, and observing Christ—whilst also looking forward to when the righteous God in heaven comes to pass judgment on all they have done. And why do they wish the God in heaven to pass judgment on them? Because their notions and imaginings give free rein to their desire that the God in heaven—the God of their imagination—shall behave toward them as they wish, whereas the God on earth will not do that; the God on earth only speaks the truth, speaks the words of God, and talks about how to behave toward people and handle them according to principle. They think, “The God in heaven’s love of man is selfless, unconditional, and without limit, whereas as soon as you say or do something and the God on earth finds out, He uses you as a teaching material in His sermons and begins dissecting you—so people must be careful of Him, they must keep themselves hidden from Him, and they can’t let Him know when something’s up.” What do you say, am I not able to dissect the things you try to keep from Me? I do not need to dissect your actions; I dissect your dispositions and your states, and I do not have to rely on those things to speak the truth, give sermons, and make people understand the truth. In the eyes of some nonbelievers, this flesh, this God, is not aware of anything He does not see with His own eyes, even that which involves the truth. Which is to say, He does not know the things people do that are directed by their corrupt essences, and so knows nothing of their corrupt essences. This is what people believe in their notions. Their attitude toward Christ is always one of studying, doubt, and even disbelief. At the same time, they measure Christ using the standards by which normal people are measured, by that which is attainable and understandable to ordinary people.
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
Most people who believe in God regard Him as a bunch of empty air and as something which seems to exist one minute and not the next. Why do I put it like that? Because whenever you encounter a problem, you do not know God’s will. Why do you not know His will? Not just now, but from start to finish, you do not know God’s attitude toward this problem. You cannot fathom it and do not know what God’s attitude is, but have you given it much thought? Have you sought to know it? Have you fellowshiped about it? No! This confirms a fact: The God of your belief has no connection to the God of reality. In your belief in God, you ponder only your own intentions and those of your leaders; you merely give thought to the superficial and doctrinal meaning of God’s words, without truly trying to know or seek God’s will at all. Is this not the case? The essence of this matter is quite terrible! After so many years, I have seen many people who believe in God. What has their belief transformed God into in their minds? Some people believe in God as if He were just a bunch of empty air. These people have no answer to questions of God’s existence, because they can neither feel nor sense either His presence or His absence, let alone see it clearly or understand it. Subconsciously, these people think that God does not exist. Others believe in God as if He were a man. These people think that He is unable to do all of the things that they, too, are unable to do, and that He should think however they think. Their definition of God is “an invisible and untouchable person.” There is also a group of people who believe in God as if He were a puppet; these people believe that God has no emotions. They think God is a clay statue, and that when faced with an issue, God has no attitude, viewpoint, or ideas; they believe He is at humankind’s mercy. People simply believe however they want to believe. If they make Him great, then He is great; if they make Him small, then He is small. When people sin and need God’s mercy, tolerance, and love, they assume God should extend His mercy. These people invent a “God” in their own minds, and then make this “God” fulfill their demands and satisfy all of their desires. No matter when or where, and no matter what such people do, they will adopt this fancy in their treatment of God and in their faith. There are even those who, having aggravated God’s disposition, still believe He can save them, because they assume that God’s love is boundless and His disposition is righteous, and that no matter how much a person offends God, He will not remember any of it. They think that since human faults, human trespasses, and human disobedience are momentary expressions of a person’s disposition, God will give people chances, and be tolerant and patient with them; they believe that God will still love them as before. Thus, they maintain high hopes for attaining salvation. In fact, no matter how people believe in God, as long as they are not pursuing the truth, He will hold a negative attitude toward them. This is because over the course of your faith in God, though you have taken the book of God’s words and seen it as a treasure, and study and read it every day, yet you set the real God aside. You regard Him as mere empty air, or as just a person—and some of you regard Him as no more than a puppet. Why do I put it this way? I do so because the way I see it, whether you are faced with a problem or encounter some circumstance, those things that exist in your subconscious, those things that you give rise to internally, have never had any connection with God’s words or with pursuing the truth. You only know what you yourself are thinking, what your own viewpoint is, and then you force your own ideas and opinions onto God. In your mind they become God’s viewpoints, and you make of these viewpoints standards that you unwaveringly uphold. Over time, proceeding like this takes you farther and farther away from God.
Excerpted from “How to Know God’s Disposition and the Results His Work Shall Achieve” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Until His 6,000-year management plan comes to a close—before He reveals the outcome of each category of man—God’s work on earth will be for the sake of salvation; its purpose is purely to make those who love Him complete—thoroughly so—and to bring them into submission under His dominion. No matter how God saves people, it is all done by making them break away from their old satanic nature; that is, He saves them by having them seek life. If they do not do so, then they will have no way to accept God’s salvation. Salvation is the work of God Himself, and the seeking for life is something that man must take on in order to accept salvation. In the eyes of man, salvation is the love of God, and the love of God cannot be chastisement, judgment, and curses; salvation must contain love, compassion, and, moreover, words of solace, as well as boundless blessings bestowed by God. People believe that when God saves man, He does so by moving them with His blessings and grace, so that they can give their hearts to God. That is to say, His touching man is His saving them. This sort of salvation is done by striking a deal. Only when God grants them a hundredfold will man come to submit before God’s name and strive to do well for Him and bring Him glory. This is not what God intends for mankind. God has come to work on earth in order to save corrupt mankind; there is no falsehood in this. If there were, He would certainly not have come to do His work in person. In the past, His means of salvation involved showing the utmost love and compassion, such that He gave His all to Satan in exchange for the whole of mankind. The present is nothing like the past: The salvation bestowed upon you today occurs at the time of the last days, during the classification of each according to kind; the means of your salvation is not love or compassion, but chastisement and judgment, in order that man may be more thoroughly saved. Thus, all that you receive is chastisement, judgment, and merciless smiting, but know this: In this heartless smiting there is not the slightest punishment. Regardless of how harsh My words might be, what befall you are but a few words that might appear utterly heartless to you, and no matter how angry I might be, what rain upon you are still words of teaching, and I do not mean to harm you or put you to death. Is this not all fact? Know that nowadays, whether it be righteous judgment or heartless refinement and chastisement, everything is for the sake of salvation. Regardless of whether today each is classified according to kind or the categories of man are laid bare, the purpose of all of God’s words and work is to save those who truly love God. Righteous judgment is brought to purify man, and heartless refinement is done to cleanse them; harsh words or chastening are both done to purify and are for the sake of salvation.
Excerpted from “You Should Put Aside the Blessings of Status and Understand God’s Will to Bring Salvation to Man” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
What notions are there within your heart that govern your behavior? When something happens to you that is not to your liking, these notions naturally appear, and make you complain to God, argue and compete with God, and they bring about a rapid transformation in your relationship with God: You suddenly go from feeling you love God and are faithful to Him, and wanting to devote your whole life to Him, as you did at the start, to not wanting to be faithful to God, to not wanting to perform your duty, and you regret your belief in God, you regret having chosen this path, and even complain about being chosen by God. What notions are able to suddenly cause such a major change in your relationship with God? (When God arranges a situation to test me, and I feel there is a chance I might have no outcome, I form notions about God. I feel that as long as I do not forsake God in my faith, He will not abandon me.) That is one kind of notion. Do you often have such notions? What is your understanding of being abandoned by God? Believing that if God leaves you, God does not want you and will not save you, is a kind of notion. So how does such a notion come about? Does it come from your imagination, or does it have a basis? How do you know God gives you no outcome? Did God tell you personally? Such thoughts have been delineated by you, yes? Now you know that this is a notion; the key question is how to solve it. The simplest way is this: Since you know it is a notion, you must put it to one side and seek the truth, and see what God asks of you. When your own notions run contrary to what God asks, and you realize this but still cling to them, then you will have no entry into life; your stature is too poor. Furthermore, people are especially sensitive toward their own end and destination, and toward adjustments of their duty and being replaced in their duty. Some people frequently jump to an erroneous conclusion about such things, thinking that as soon as they are replaced in their duty and they have no status anymore, or God says He does not like or want them anymore, then it’s over for them. This is the conclusion they come to. They believe there is no point in believing in God, and believe that, since their end is set in stone and they are not wanted by God, there is no meaning to living. Others, hearing such thoughts, think them reasonable and dignified—but what kind of mentality is this, actually? It is rebelliousness against God, it is defeatism. What is the essence of their defeatism? It is ignorance of how God treats people. Does God know when people abandon themselves to despair? How does God treat such people? Some people say, “God has paid such a painstaking price for man, He has done much work in every person, and exerted much effort; it is not easy for God to choose and save a person. God will be so hurt if this person abandons themselves to despair, and will hope each day that they can pick themselves up.” This is the meaning on a superficial level, but in fact, it is also a notion of man. God takes a certain attitude toward such people: If you abandon yourself to despair and do not try to move forward, He says you can stay where you are if you want; He will not pressure you. If you say, “I still wish to perform the duty of a created being, to do all I can to practice as God asks, and to satisfy the will of God. I will do everything within my power and capabilities; I will not give up on what God asks of me,” God says that if you are willing to live in this way, then continue following, but you must do as God asks; God’s standards of requirements and principles do not change. What do these words mean? They mean that only people can abandon themselves; God would never abandon someone. For anyone who is able to ultimately attain salvation and behold God, who creates a normal relationship with God, and who can come before God, this is not something that can be achieved after failing or being pruned and dealt with a single time, or after being judged and chastised a single time. Before Peter was made perfect, he was refined hundreds of times. Of those who remain after serving to the very end, there will not be one who has only experienced trials and refinement eight or ten times before making it to the end. Is this not the love of God? This is God’s attitude toward man.
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
How do people’s notions about God’s work come about? Some come from people’s previous comprehension of faith, and some come from their own imaginings about the work of God. For example, people started out imagining God’s work of judgment as a big white throne in the sky, with God upon the throne judging all peoples. Today, everyone knows that such imaginings are unrealistic—such things are impossible. Whatever the case, people have many imaginings about God’s work, management, and treatment of man, and most of these imaginings come from human predilections. Why do I say this? Because people do not want to suffer. They always want to achieve success in their faith in God with ease, accept God’s work, enjoy His grace, receive His blessings, and then enter the kingdom of heaven. How wonderful! The most common and indulgent idea that corrupt mankind has about the work of God is entering the kingdom of heaven sitting upon a palanquin. Moreover, when people encounter the work of God, most of the time they are incapable of understanding it; they do not know the truth it contains, or what God’s aim is in doing this work, and why God behaves toward man thus. For example, I have previously described God’s love using the words “vast” and “immense,” but I think it likely you have never understood just what I meant by these two words. What was My aim in using these two words? It was to get everyone’s attention, so that you would go and reflect on them. Superficially, these words seem almost empty. They do have a certain meaning, but no matter how much thought people give them, all they can come up with is, “Vast—it means as boundless as the sky; it is saying that God’s heart is boundless, there is no limit to His love!” God’s love is not the kind of love that can be imagined by the mind of man. People are incapable of imagining this love, they must not use learning and knowledge to interpret this word, but must use another method to appreciate and experience it. Ultimately, you come to sense truly that the love of God is different to the love spoken of by worldly people, that the true love of God is unlike anything else, unlike the love understood by all mankind. So just what is this love of God? First you must not approach it with the notions and imaginings of man. Take a mother’s love, for example: A mother’s love toward her children is unconditional, it is protective and warm. Right now, does the love of God for man that you feel have the same level of sensation and meaning as a mother’s love? (Yes.) Then this is a problem—it is wrong. You must distinguish God’s love from the love of parents, of a husband, wife, or children, of your kin, from the concern of friends, and come to know the love of God anew. Just what is the love of God? The love of God is without emotion and is unaffected by relationships of blood. It is love pure and simple. So how should people understand the love of God? Why have we come to discuss the love of God? The love of God is embodied in the work of God, so that people acknowledge it, accept it, and experience it, and ultimately realize that this is the love of God, and acknowledge that these are not empty words, nor some form of behavior on the part of God, but the truth. When you accept it as the truth, you are able to recognize this aspect of God’s essence from it. If you treat it as some form of behavior, you will have difficulty recognizing it. What is meant by “behavior”? Take mothers, for example: They give their youth, their blood, their sweat and tears to bring up their children, they give them whatever they want, regardless of whether they have done right or wrong, or what path they take. A mother gives selflessly, never teaching, helping or guiding the child about walking the right path, only indiscriminately caring for, loving and protecting them, to the extent that ultimately, the child cannot tell right from wrong. This is the love of a mother or any kind of love born of the hot blood, emotions, and fleshly relationships of man. The love of God, meanwhile, is exactly the opposite: If God loves you, He expresses this by often chastening and disciplining you, by pruning and dealing with you. This might make things uncomfortable for you, your days may pass amid chastening and discipline, but once you have experienced this, you will discover that you have learned much, that you can have discernment and are wise when it comes to interacting with other people, and also that you have come to understand some truths. If the love of God were like the love of a mother or father, as you imagine it to be, if He were so scrupulous in His care, and invariably indulgent, could you gain these things? You could not. And so, people must approach what is manifested of the love of God in His work from the perspective of the truth, and within this, they must seek the truth. If they do not seek the truth, how could someone who is corrupt conjure, out of thin air, an understanding of what God’s love is, what the aim of His work in man is, and where His thoughtful intentions lie? People would never understand these things. This relates to one part of God’s work, one aspect of God’s essence that people are most likely to misunderstand, and have the most difficulty comprehending and appreciating; it is what people can engage with profoundly, empathetically, and practically. Generally speaking, love means giving people what they like, not giving them something bitter when they want something sweet, or giving something bitter to them in order to treat an illness; in brief, it involves the selfishness, the emotions and hot blood, of man; it involves one aspect of aims and motivations. But no matter what God does in you, even if you misunderstand Him, and even complain about Him in your heart, God shall, with unflagging patience, continue to work in you. What is God’s ultimate aim in acting thus? He uses this method to awaken you, or so that there might come a day when you understand God’s will—but when God sees that outcome, He has actually gained nothing. And why do I say this? Because your all comes from God. God does not need to gain anything. All He needs is for you to properly follow and enter in accordance with what He requires while He performs His work, to ultimately be able to live out truth reality, to live with the likeness of man, and no longer be deceived, misled, and tempted by Satan, to be able to turn your back on Satan, to obey and fear God, so that God gains you, and His great work is done. This is the love of God, and the work of God. Is there this level of meaning to your understanding of God’s love as vast and immense? (No.) Your understanding has not reached that point. Even when someone breaks God’s heart, and others think there is no way God could save them, what is God’s attitude when they reflect on themselves, repent, and put aside the evil in their hands and accept His salvation? God welcomes them just as before; as long as people take the right path, God will not hold them to account. This is the love of God. What notion of man must be remedied here? People must leave behind the various notions they have about how God loves man. Leaving them behind is easy; changing is not. When something actually happens to you, it is not easy to make you put aside your notions and accept this way in which God loves you. This requires people to seek the truth when something happens to them, to actually experience and feel God’s love.
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
Today, you must dissect what notions about God’s work are, and which ones there are, and above all, you must sum up the various imaginings, resistance, and demands you have about the work of God, the sovereignty and arrangements of God, and about the way in which God works—these things stand in the way of your obedience to the orchestrations and arrangements of God, and cause you to misunderstand and resist everything that God has done in you. Such notions are very serious, and worth dissecting. For example, some people say, “God says He doesn’t like me, so maybe He won’t save me.” Is this not a notion? Such notions must be resolved, because these kinds of notions can stop you from moving forward, they can paralyze you, and cause you to give in to despair, and can even make you forsake God. In some churches, some people have been deceived by antichrists and the wicked who cause disruptions. Is this good or bad? Is this the love of God, or is it God toying with people and exposing them? This is not clear to you, yes? God employs all things and all matters in His service to perfect and save those whom He wishes to save; those who truly seek and practice the truth shall ultimately gain the truth, while some who do not seek the truth complain and say, “It isn’t right for God to work like this. Such wrongs I have suffered! I came close to leaving with the antichrists. If this was truly the act of God, how could He make people leave with the antichrists?” That you did not leave is proof of God’s salvation of you; those who did have been exposed and eliminated. So are the disruptions caused by these antichrists and wicked people in the churches a good thing or a bad thing? When they are exposed, you will be able to tell them for what they really are, after which they will be purged from the church and your stature will grow, and when you encounter such people again, you will reject them before they show their true colors. This is a good thing. God works in extraordinary ways, ways that are beyond the imagination of normal people. So why did I use those words to define the work of God? Because corrupt mankind does not understand these things; the truth, the way God works, the wisdom of God’s battle with Satan—people understand none of these things, and the whole of mankind draws a blank. So why do people still have their own ideas? Because they study things, or else have their own predilections, which lead to them having ideas. The Creator working thus is, for the people of today, the first time since the creation of heaven and earth: He acts in plain view of all mankind, openly revealing His management plan, and implementing and putting it into effect among mankind for the first time. Mankind’s perceptions concerning God’s mentality, God’s essence, and God’s way of working are inherently blank; these things are alien to them, and so it is very normal for people to have notions in this area. But being normal does not mean that these notions are right; no matter how normal they are, they should and must be addressed, for no matter how normal these notions are, they are antithetical to and incompatible with the Creator. Ultimately, what should mankind do? People should accept and obey, from which they will achieve change, and gain the truth, and satisfy the requirements of the Creator.
Some people believe that, so long as their aspirations are good and positive and proactive, the Creator should fulfill them, and that they should not be deprived of the right to strive toward a beautiful life. This is a notion. Does the Creator’s fulfillment accord with man’s wishes, with his hopes, with his imaginings? It does not. In what way, then, does the Creator act? Regardless of who you are, what you have planned, how perfect and honorable your imaginings are, or to what extent they match the reality of your life, God does not look at any of these things, nor does He involve Himself with them; rather, things are accomplished, orchestrated, and arranged according to God’s ordained methods and laws. This is God’s righteous disposition. Some people think, “After the countless hardships I’ve experienced in my life, aren’t I entitled to a good life? When I come before the Creator, won’t I have the capital to request and aspire toward a beautiful life and a beautiful destination?” Is this not a human notion? What are such notions and human-engendered ways of thinking to God? They are unreasonable demands. How do such unreasonable demands come about? (People do not know God’s authority.) That people do not know God’s authority is an objective reason; the subjective reason is that they have a rebellious disposition. Is the life the Creator arranges for people one of hardship, or is it happy and carefree? (One of hardship.) The majority of people live lives of hardship, with too many difficulties and too much pain. What is the Creator’s purpose in these arrangements, and what is their significance? In one sense, such arrangements are meant to allow people to experience and know God’s sovereignty, arrangements, and authority; in another sense, His primary purpose is to let people experience what life really is, and thereby to realize that man’s destiny is controlled in God’s hand, and is neither decided by any person nor changed in the wake of changes in people’s subjective will. Whatever the Creator does and whatever sort of life or fate He has arranged for people, He makes them reflect on life and on what man’s destiny really is, and, as they reflect on all these things, He makes them come before God. When God expresses the truth and tells people what all this is, He makes people come before Him, accept what God says, experience what God says, understand what the relationship really is between all God says and all the things people experience in their real lives. He lets people verify the practicality, accuracy, and validity of these truths, after which man gains them and acknowledges that he is controlled in the hand of the Creator, and that his destiny is ruled and arranged by God. Once man has understood all this, he will no longer have any impractical plans for his life, and he will not plan to go against the wishes of the Creator nor what He has ordained and arranged; rather, he will have an increasingly accurate assessment and understanding, or a comprehension and plan, of how his life should be lived and the road he should take.
Excerpted from “Only by Resolving One’s Notions Can One Enter the Right Track of Believing in God (2)” in Records of Christ’s Talks
God made man with free will. Man has a brain, thoughts, and ideas. After being corrupted by Satan, man became immersed in the sounds and sights of this world, and, after being educated by their parents, influenced by their families, and educated by society, many things arise in man’s thoughts—things that are born of man’s heart, which all come forth naturally. How are these things that come forth naturally within man formed? Firstly, a person must have the ability to give thought to problems—this is the foundation one must have to be able to give rise to these things. Then, through environmental influences—such as being educated by one’s family and society—as well as being impelled by one’s own corrupt dispositions and ambitions and desires, these things gradually take shape. How are such formed thoughts and ideas, whether they accord with reality or are hollow, treated by God? Does He condemn them? He does not, nor does He remove such thoughts from people. People have a notion: They imagine that with a gentle touch of God’s great, formless hand, their thinking will be changed. Is this notion not vague, supernatural, and hollow? This is a notion people have of how God works. In the depths of their hearts, people often have fantasies of God’s work and the methods of His work, though they do not give voice to them. People imagine the Creator coming softly next to man and, with a wave of His great hand and a puff of His magical breath, or by thinking a thought, the negative things inside man will disappear in an instant, with the wordless silence of a great wind blowing away a cloud. How does God treat these ideas of man, these things to which man’s mind gives rise? God does not resolve them with supernatural, hollow methods, but by laying out man’s environment. What sort of environment does He lay out? It is not a hollow thing—God does not do anything supernatural, breaking all the laws. Rather, He lays out an environment that compels a person to understand the matter and to reflect unceasingly, after which God makes use of all manner of people, events, and things to light that person’s way, whereupon that person comes to an understanding. God makes them understand these things according to their destiny, by adding a few incidents to the course of their destiny. What are man’s notions in this? Supernatural, hollow, vague, discordant with reality—that is, divorced from reality. Say, for instance, someone is hungry and would like to eat. There are those who would say, “If God were truly at work, all He’d have to do would be to breathe on me and I’d be full, and I’d stay full for a year or two. Wouldn’t that be nice?” Is this not unrealistic? If you told God you were hungry, what would God say? God would tell you to find some food—He would tell you to eat. If you said you had no food and could not cook, what would God do? He would tell you to learn to cook. This is the practical side of God’s work. When you encounter something obscure to you, by no longer giving hollow prayers or relying vaguely and self-assuredly on God, when you no longer consign your hopes to such things, you will then know what it is you should do—you will know your duty, your responsibility, and your obligation.
Excerpted from “Only by Resolving One’s Notions Can One Enter the Right Track of Believing in God (2)” in Records of Christ’s Talks
God speaks with man face-to-face and tells him what he should and should not do, what road he should take, how he should obey God, the principles he should enter in each part of His work. God clearly tells man all these things, yet man often waits still, anticipating that God will tell him what His meaning really is by means other than His words, hoping to be able to attain previously unimaginable results and hoping to witness miracles. Is this not man’s notion? What does God do, in fact? When God uses clear language to tell man how to act, how to live, how to obey Him, and how to experience every manner of event, if man still does not understand, God does nothing more beside laying out an environment, giving man some special enlightenment, or having man undergo some special experiences. That is the end of what God can, should, and is willing to do. There are those who ask, “Doesn’t God want every person to be saved and not want anyone to suffer perdition? If God used such a method to act, how many people would be able to be saved?” In response, God would ask, “How many people heed My words and follow My way?” There are as many as there are—this is God’s view and the method of His work. He does no more. What is man’s notion of this matter? “God takes pity on this mankind; He’s concerned for this mankind and will take responsibility unto the end. If man follows Him unto the end, he’ll inevitably be saved.” God has told you all these truths. If, in the end, you still say you do not understand His will and you do not know how to practice, then these are mutinous words. God should abandon such people. It is absolutely a human notion to describe or illustrate the realness of God’s glory in terms of numbers of people, degree of power, or racial diversity. In the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, how many were there, in total, who were saved and made perfect? That is, who was able to fear God and shun evil in the end? (Job and Peter.) They were the only two. As God sees it, to fear Him and shun evil is, in fact, to meet the standard of knowing Him, of knowing the Creator. People like Abraham and Noah were righteous in God’s eyes, but they were still a level beneath Job and Peter. Of course, God did not do so much work then. He did not provide for people as He does now, nor did He speak so many clear words, nor did He do the work of salvation on such a large scale. He may not have gained many people, but this is not a bad thing. What aspect of the Creator’s disposition can be seen in this? God hopes to gain many people, but if many people cannot, in fact, be gained—if this humanity cannot be gained by God during His work of salvation—then God would rather abandon them and discard them. This is how the Creator sees it. In this regard, what demands or notions does man have of God? “It is You who saves me, so You are responsible unto the end, and You promised me blessings, so You should give them to me and let me gain them.” Within man, there is many a “must”—many demands—and this is one notion among them. Others say, “God does such great work—a six-thousand-year management plan—and, in the end, He only gained two people. What a shame. Weren’t His actions in vain?” Man thinks it ought not to be so, but God is happy to gain even two people. God’s real purpose is not merely to gain those two, but to gain more than that, and if people do not understand, and they all misunderstand and resist God, then God would rather not have them. That is His disposition. Some people say, “That won’t do. Wouldn’t Satan be laughing then?” Satan may be laughing, but is it not God’s vanquished enemy all the same? God has still gained mankind—several among them who can forsake Satan and not suffer its control. God has gained true created beings. Are those who have not been gained by God then taken captive by Satan? You have not been made perfect—do you follow Satan? (No.) It is God’s glory that none of those whom He has not gained follow Satan. Some people say, “If God doesn’t want me, I still won’t follow Satan. Even if it offered me blessings, I wouldn’t take them.” Does God not thus gain glory? People have notions about the number of people God gains or the scale with which He gains them; they believe God should not gain only those few. That man can give rise to such notions is because, in one regard, man cannot fathom the mind of God, the Creator, and cannot understand the sort of person He wants—there is always a distance between man and God; in another regard, to have such notions is a way for man to comfort himself and set himself free so far as his own destiny and future are concerned. Man believes, “God has gained so few people—how glorious it would be for Him to gain us all! If God didn’t discard a single person, but conquered everyone, and everyone was made perfect in the end, and the talk of God’s choosing people didn’t come to naught, nor did His work of management, then wouldn’t Satan be humiliated all the more? Wouldn’t God gain greater glory? Wouldn’t it be strong evidence of Satan’s defeat? Three birds with one stone!” Man does know the score, does he not? That he can say this is partly because he does not know the Creator and partly because he has his own selfish motive: He is worried about his future, so he hitches it to the Creator’s glory, and thus his heart feels at ease. Man has selfish motives, and is there not something of rebelliousness in them? Is there not a demand made of God? There is within it an unvoiced resistance against God that says, “You have chosen us, led us, labored so much on us, bestowed Your life and Your entirety upon us, bestowed Your words and truth upon us, and had us follow You all these years. What a loss it would be if You couldn’t gain us in the end.” Such an excuse is an attempt to blackmail God, to obligate Him to gain man. Therein lie man’s demands, as well as his imaginings and notions: God does such great work, so He must gain however many people. Whence this “must”? It comes from man’s notions and imaginings, his unreasonable demands, and his vainglorious heart, along with some admixture of his hard and ferocious disposition.
Excerpted from “Only by Resolving One’s Notions Can One Enter the Right Track of Believing in God (2)” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Once one believes in God, they have a vague imagining of reverence and esteem for Him. They believe He is almighty, omnipotent, and, since He has chosen a group of people from among this corrupt humanity, He will certainly make them complete. We, therefore, are bound to be blessed, as a matter of certainty. Does such “certainty” not have a mentality of trying one’s luck behind it? To wish to gain God’s approval without pursuing the truth or undergoing God’s judgment and chastisement is the attitude man ought least to hold. Do not adopt a mentality of trying your luck—luck is the great enemy. What sort of mindset is trying one’s luck? What states, thoughts, ideas and notions, attitudes, and views might a person have that show their actions and the pit of their heart to be harboring a luck-based mentality? You can only change when you know these things; if you do not know they still exist within you, how could you change? How could you resolve them? What, then, is a mentality of trying one’s luck? “I believe in God. I’ve left my family and quit my job. No matter what, I’ve suffered and sweated and toiled, and if I follow through to the end, I might become one of the overcomers, one of the saved, one of the blessed, one of the people of God’s kingdom.” This is a mentality of trying one’s luck. Is such not in every person’s heart? The majority of those who leave everything behind and come to God’s house to perform their duty full-time have something of this sort of mentality. Is a mentality of trying one’s luck not a sort of notion? (It is.) Why do I say it is a sort of notion? Because, when you have not understood or comprehended the intention and the attitude the Lord of creation has toward this matter, you just subjectively think good thoughts and subjectively pursue, and that is how you approach it. It is a sort of notion. To the Lord of creation, is such a notion not a kind of blackmail? Is it not an unreasonable demand? It is as if to say, “Since I’ve followed You, and since I’ve left everything behind and come to Your house to perform my duty full-time, I must count as someone who has submitted to the arrangements of the Lord of creation, right? So, can I have a promising future now? My future shouldn’t be obscure—it should be plain to see.” This is a mindset of trying one’s luck. How is such a mindset resolved? In one respect, one must know God’s disposition. Everyone fundamentally understands what I am saying now. “So that’s what God thinks. That’s God’s view and His attitude. So, what should we do?” People should put aside their mentality of trying their luck. To put aside this mentality, is it enough to say, “I’ve put it aside and won’t have such thoughts anymore. I’ll treat my duty seriously, take responsibility, and work harder”? It is not so simple—when one develops a mentality of trying their luck, there emerge in them some thoughts and practices, and, more than that, some dispositions will be revealed. These things should be resolvable. Some say, “If I’ve understood God’s will and attitude, aren’t I rid of the mentality of trying my luck?” What sort of talk is that? It is ignorant of spiritual matters; it is hollow talk. How, then, is this problem resolved? You must consider, “What should I do if God takes everything away from me? Are these things I devote to God and expend for Him given willingly, or are they attempts to barter with Him? It’s not good if I’m attempting to barter with Him. I’ll have to pray and change that.” In addition, as one practices and as one performs their duty, they should understand which truth principles they do not understand, what they do that goes against God’s requirements and His will, what sort of path is the wrong one and the path of disaster, and what sort of path is the one that can meet with God’s approval. In terms of the mindset of trying one’s luck, what else is there? There are people who, having come down with a serious illness, are saved by God and are ill no longer. They think, “All of you believe in God to chase after blessings. I’m different. It was God’s great love that brought me here; He gave me special circumstances and special experiences that led me to believe in Him, so He loves me more than He loves you, and, in the end, I will have a greater chance to survive than you.” They think they have an extraordinary, special relationship with God—that they are different from ordinary people. Because of their special experience, they feel themselves to be extraordinary and uncommon, and they therefore maintain a kind of certainty that they will succeed. They define themselves as assuredly different from others, and are assured of their ability to survive—this, too, is a mentality of trying one’s luck. There are others who have taken on an important duty and whose status is high. They suffer a bit more than others, are pruned and dealt with a bit more than others, keep themselves a bit busier than others, and speak a bit more than others. They think, “I’ve been put in an important position by God and by His house and I am in favor with my brothers and sisters. What an honor this is. Doesn’t this mean I’ll be blessed before others?” This, too, is a mentality of trying one’s luck, and it is a kind of notion.
People say that God is a righteous God, and that as long as man follows Him to the very end, He will surely be impartial toward man, for He is most righteous. If man follows Him to the very end, could He cast man aside? I am impartial toward all men, and judge all men with My righteous disposition, yet there are suitable conditions to the requirements I make of man, and that which I require must be accomplished by all men, regardless of who they are. I care not how your qualifications are, or how long you have held them; I care only whether you walk in My way, and whether or not you love and thirst for the truth. If you lack the truth, and instead bring shame upon My name, and do not act according to My way, merely following without care or concern, then at that time I will strike you down and punish you for your evil, and what will you have to say then? Will you be able to say that God is not righteous? Today, if you have complied with the words I have spoken, then you are the kind of person whom I approve. You say you have always suffered whilst following God, that you have followed Him through thick and thin, and have shared with Him the good times and the bad, but you have not lived out the words spoken by God; you wish only to run about for God and expend yourself for God each day, and have never thought to live out a life of meaning. You also say, “In any case, I believe God is righteous. I have suffered for Him, run around for Him, and devoted myself for Him, and I have worked hard despite not receiving any recognition; He is sure to remember me.” It is true that God is righteous, yet this righteousness is untainted by any impurities: It contains no human will, and it is not tainted by the flesh, or by human transactions. All who are rebellious and in opposition, all who are not in compliance with His way, will be punished; none is forgiven, and none is spared! Some people say, “Today I run around for You; when the end comes, can You give me a little blessing?” So I ask you, “Have you complied with My words?” The righteousness that you speak of is based on a transaction. You think only that I am righteous and impartial toward all men, and that all those who follow Me to the very end are sure to be saved and gain My blessings. There is inner meaning to My words that “all those who follow Me to the very end are sure to be saved”: Those who follow Me to the very end are the ones who will be fully gained by Me, they are those who, after being conquered by Me, seek the truth and are made perfect. What conditions have you achieved? You have only achieved following Me to the very end, but what else? Have you complied with My words? You have accomplished one of My five requirements, yet you have no intention of accomplishing the remaining four. You have simply found the simplest, easiest path, and pursued it with an attitude of just hoping to get lucky. Toward such a person as you My righteous disposition is one of chastisement and judgment, it is one of righteous retribution, and it is the righteous punishment of all evildoers; all those who do not walk in My way will surely be punished, even if they follow to the very end. This is the righteousness of God. When this righteous disposition is expressed in the punishment of man, man will be dumbfounded, and feel regret that, whilst following God, he did not walk in His way. “At that time, I only suffered a little whilst following God, but did not walk in the way of God. What excuses are there? There is no option but to be chastised!” Yet in his mind he is thinking, “Anyway, I have followed to the very end, so even if You chastise me, it can’t be too severe a chastisement, and after exacting this chastisement You will still want me. I know You are righteous, and will not treat me that way forever. After all, I’m not like those who will be wiped out; those who are to be wiped out will receive a heavy chastisement, whereas my chastisement will be lighter.” Righteous disposition is not as you say. It is not the case that those who are good at confessing their sins are dealt with leniently. Righteousness is holiness, and is a disposition that is intolerant of offense by man, and all that is filthy and has not changed is the target of God’s disgust. God’s righteous disposition is not law, but administrative decree: It is administrative decree within the kingdom, and this administrative decree is the righteous punishment of anyone who does not possess the truth and has not changed, and there is no margin for salvation. For when each man is classified according to kind, the good will be rewarded and the evil will be punished. It is when the destination of man will be made clear; it is the time that the work of salvation will come to an end, after which, the work of saving man will no longer be done, and retribution will be brought upon every one of those who commit evil.
Excerpted from “The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment” in The Word Appears in the Flesh