Question 3: We’ve believed in the Lord for so many years, and we’ve maintained His name. We often read the Bible, pray and confess our sins to the Lord; we are humble, patient, loving toward others. We often do charity, donate, and sacrifice everything else to work for the Lord and spread the gospel to witness Him. Are we not practicing the Lord's words and following His way? How can you say we never had any reality of faith in the Lord or are an unbeliever? In the Bible, Paul said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” (2Ti 4:7–8). Therefore, I think that our faith in the Lord will obtain His praise. When the Lord arrives, He will definitely rapture us into the kingdom of heaven.
Answer: Many believers think that as long as they keep the Lord’s name, read the Bible, pray and gather often, are able to sacrifice everything for the Lord and labor for the Lord, then they are true believers. They think that as long as they believe in the Lord this way, they’ll be lifted into the kingdom of heaven when He comes again. Is believing in God as easy as people think? If people believe in God like this, can they really obtain God’s approval? The Pharisees that were denounced and condemned by the Lord Jesus, isn’t that the way they believed in God too? They often prayed and worked hard and even traveled to the ends of the earth to spread the gospel. Then why has their faith failed to gain the Lord's approval and incurred His condemnation and curses instead? People that have read the Bible before understand that although the Pharisees read the Bible well, prayed often, spread God's work, suffered greatly, loved others, and appeared to be devout, true believers on the outside, in reality, God had no place in their hearts; they did not magnify God. In their faith, they did not focus on seeking the truth in God's words or understanding His will, much less practicing His words and following His commandments. They only focused on disseminating knowledge about the Bible and theological theory; they only focused on performing religious ceremonies, following the rules to glorify themselves, establishing themselves to be worshiped by others. They believed in God like that for many years and had no knowledge of God. They definitely did not become obedient and reverent toward God. Therefore, when the Lord Jesus did His work, they did not search for the truth. They only measured the Lord Jesus based on their own conceptions and imaginings. Regardless of how profound the Lord Jesus' preaching was or how much authority and power His work had, they did not search for or study them. They still fanatically resisted and condemned the Lord Jesus, then crucified Him on the cross. They were cursed and punished. Can the faith of the Pharisees be called true faith in God? Did God accept the faith of the Pharisees? Not only did the Lord Jesus not approve them, but He condemned and cursed them, saying, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Mat 23:13–36). The Pharisees only trusted their own conceptions and imaginings; they only believed in the vague God in heaven. They did not believe in the Lord Jesus incarnate who expressed the truth. They were all bored with the truth and hated the truth. They believed in God, but resisted God as well.
Let’s look at today’s religious communities. Many pastors and elders keep the Lord’s name; they pray in the Lord’s name, read the Bible, forsake everything else for Him and labor for Him, but when Almighty God expresses the truth to perform His work of judgment in the last days, they define God’s work based on their own conceptions and imaginings. They think God’s words and work are in the Bible and that anything that exceeds the Bible is heresy. They know clearly Almighty God’s words are the truth; they know those words can conquer men, but they do not search for them or study them. They still continue to spread all kinds of rumors and lies, fanatically slandering, condemning and blaspheming against Almighty God. They stop at nothing to restrict believers from seeking the true way. They even go as far as report those who bear witness to God's work in the last days to the police so they'll be arrested. Tell me, how are these pastors and elders any different from the Pharisees that resisted the Lord Jesus? Aren't they both people that know the true way but resist it anyway? Aren't they both enemies of God that hate the truth? Therefore, we can see that if people believe in the Lord but only keep His name, labor for Him and appear devout, that does not mean they practice the Lord's words or follow the Lord's way. It also does not mean they are true believers that serve the Lord. The fact that they appear devout does not mean they can magnify the Lord in their heart, revere Him or obey Him; it definitely does not mean they understand the truth or know Him. If people believe in the Lord but do not seek the truth, really practice the truth or experience the Lord's words, well, no matter how many years those people believe in the Lord or how they labor for Him, they cannot obtain His praise. This is especially true for pastors and elders in the religious communities. Although they labor for the Lord's work, they still fanatically resist and condemn Almighty God, Christ of the last days. This is enough to prove that they are evil-doers that resist God. They are exposed as antichrists by God's work in the last days. They will definitely incur God's curses and punishment. It's just like the Lord Jesus said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity” (Mat 7:22–23). Almighty God's words in the last days are also extremely clear. Almighty God says, “I do not care how meritorious your hard work is, how impressive your qualifications, how closely you follow Me, how renowned you are, or how much you have improved your attitude; as long as you have not met My demands, you will never be able to win My praise. Write off all those ideas and calculations of yours as soon as possible, and start treating My requirements seriously; otherwise, I will turn everyone to ash in order to bring an end to My work and, at worst turn My years of work and suffering into nothing, for I cannot bring My enemies and those people who reek of evil and have Satan’s appearance into My kingdom or take them into the next age” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Transgressions Will Lead Man to Hell). God’s words are immutable truths. Whether believers can obtain His praise does not depend on how much they work or suffer; it mainly depends on whether they practice God's words or obey Him. However, Paul said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” (2Ti 4:7–8). These words are Paul's own conceptions and imaginings. They are not at all in accordance with God's words or the truth. They are the exact opposite of God's words!
What does it mean to have true faith in God, and how can our faith gain His approval? This question is an essential one. This is directly related to whether our belief in God can earn us salvation and allow us to enter His kingdom! Before, in our faith, we only focused on working for the Lord so that we could enter His kingdom when He returned. Now everyone realizes that this is the wrong path of faith. No one in the religious community knows what true faith in God is or how we should believe in God to receive His approval. No one understands the answers to these questions. Almighty God, Christ of the last days, has revealed all the truths and mysteries concerning faith in God. Almighty God speaks very clearly about the question: What is true faith in God? Almighty God says, “Though many people believe in God, few understand what faith in God means, and what they must do to conform to God’s will. This is because, though people are familiar with the word ‘God’ and phrases such as ‘the work of God,’ they do not know God, and still less do they know His work. No wonder, then, that all those who do not know God are muddled in their belief of Him. People do not take belief in God seriously, and this is entirely because believing in God is too unfamiliar, too strange for them. In this way, they fall short of God’s demands. In other words, if people do not know God, and do not know His work, then they are not fit for God’s use, and still less are they able to satisfy His will. ‘Belief in God’ means believing that there is a God; this is the simplest concept as regards believing in God. What’s more, believing that there is a God is not the same as truly believing in God; rather, it is a kind of simple faith with strong religious overtones. True faith in God means the following: On the basis of the belief that God holds sovereignty over all things, one experiences His words and His work, purges one’s corrupt disposition, satisfies the will of God, and comes to know God. Only a journey of this kind may be called ‘faith in God.’ Yet people often see belief in God as a simple and frivolous matter. People who believe in God in this way have lost what it means to believe in God, and though they may continue to believe until the very end, they shall never gain God’s approval, because they tread upon the wrong path. There are still those today who believe in God according to letters and in hollow doctrine. They do not know that they lack the essence of belief in God, and they cannot receive God’s approval. Still they pray to God for blessings of safety and sufficient grace. Let us stop, quiet our hearts, and ask ourselves: Can it be that believing in God really is the easiest thing on earth? Can it be that believing in God means nothing more than receiving much grace from God? Are people who believe in God without knowing Him or who believe in God and yet oppose Him really able to satisfy the will of God?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Preface).
“You may think that believing in God is about suffering, or doing all manner of things for Him; you might think that the purpose of believing in God is so that your flesh may be at peace, or so that everything in your life runs smoothly, or so that you may be comfortable and at ease in all things. However, none of these are purposes that people should attach to their belief in God. If you believe for these purposes, then your perspective is incorrect, and it is simply impossible for you to be perfected. God’s actions, God’s righteous disposition, His wisdom, His words, and His wondrousness and unfathomableness are all things people ought to understand. Having this understanding, you should use it to rid your heart of all personal demands, hopes, and notions. Only by eliminating these things can you meet the conditions demanded by God, and it is only by doing this that you can have life and satisfy God. The purpose of believing in God is to satisfy Him and to live out the disposition He requires, so that His actions and glory may be manifested through this group of unworthy people. This is the correct perspective for believing in God, and this is also the goal that you should seek. You should have the right viewpoint about believing in God and you should seek to obtain God’s words. You need to eat and drink God’s words and you must be able to live out the truth, and in particular you must be able to see His practical deeds, His wonderful deeds throughout the entire universe, as well as the practical work He does in the flesh. People can, through their practical experiences, appreciate just how God does His work on them and what His will is toward them. The purpose of all of this is to eliminate people’s corrupt satanic disposition. Having cast out all the uncleanliness and unrighteousness inside you, and having cast off your wrong intentions, and having developed true faith in God—only with true faith can you truly love God. You can only genuinely love God on the foundation of your belief in Him. Can you achieve love for God without believing in Him? Since you believe in God, you cannot be muddle-headed about it. Some people become full of vigor as soon as they see that faith in God will bring them blessings, but then lose all energy as soon as they see that they have to suffer refinements. Is that believing in God? Ultimately, you must achieve complete and utter obedience before God in your faith. You believe in God but still have demands of Him, have many religious notions you cannot put down, personal interests you cannot let go of, and still you seek blessings of the flesh and want God to rescue your flesh, to save your soul—these are all behaviors of people who have the wrong perspective. Even though people with religious beliefs have faith in God, they do not seek to change their dispositions and do not pursue knowledge of God, but rather seek only the interests of their flesh. Many among you have faiths that belong in the category of religious convictions; this is not true faith in God. To believe in God, people must possess a heart that is prepared to suffer for Him and the will to give themselves up. Unless people meet these two conditions, their faith in God is not valid, and they will not be able to achieve change in their disposition. Only people who genuinely pursue the truth, seek knowledge of God, and pursue life are those who truly believe in God” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement).
Almighty God has revealed all of the mysteries and truths regarding faith in God. Many people believe in God but still don't know what true faith in God is, nor do they know God or His work. This kind of faith is a muddled faith that will never earn God's praise! Almighty God clearly specifies what true faith is. “True faith in God means the following: On the basis of the belief that God holds sovereignty over all things, one experiences His words and His work, purges one’s corrupt disposition, satisfies the will of God, and comes to know God. Only a journey of this kind may be called ‘faith in God.’” Almighty God speaks so clearly about real faith! People who believe in God actually believe in God's words. That is, practicing His words and experiencing His work. This is the way they'll truly understand the truth and really know God. This is real faith in God. In the religious community, we only talk about how to work and suffer for the Lord; we don't talk about how to practice or experience the Lord's words. Therefore, no matter how many years we believe in God, we will not understand the truth, nor will we know God. If we believe in God like this, how can God acknowledge us! The Lord Jesus said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works?” (Mat 7:22). What did the Lord Jesus say next? “And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity” (Mat 7:23). This shows that we believers in the Lord sacrifice and work for Him according to our own will, we do not practice or experience the Lord's words; not only does this kind of faith not obtain God's approval, it's also condemned by God. Thinking back to my time as a believer within the religious community, I didn’t focus on practicing the Lord's words or experiencing His work; I only repented to Him after I sinned, begging Him for forgiveness. When in trouble, I prayed to the Lord, asking Him for help. I thought as long as I memorized a few Bible passages, kept the words of the Bible and followed the rules, I was believing in the Lord. I thought if I just zealously sacrificed and worked for the Lord, I was believing in the Lord well. I thought I loved the Lord and was loyal to Him. I thought when the Lord returned, I'd definitely enter His kingdom. This continued until I accepted Almighty God's work in the last days and saw what He says, “Many who follow God are only concerned with how to gain blessings or stave off disaster. … Such people only have one simple aim in following God, and that aim is to receive blessings. Such people cannot be bothered to pay heed to anything else that does not directly involve this aim. To them, there is no goal more legitimate than believing in God to receive blessings—it is the very value of their faith. If something does not contribute to this aim, they remain completely unmoved by it. This is the case with most people who believe in God today. Their aim and intention seem legitimate, because as they believe in God, they also expend for God, dedicate themselves to God, and perform their duty. They give up their youth, forsake family and career, and even spend years away from home busying themselves. … In this, we discover a previously unidentified problem: Man’s relationship with God is merely one of naked self-interest. It is a relationship between a receiver and a giver of blessings. To put it plainly, it is akin to the relationship between employee and employer. The employee works only to receive the rewards bestowed by the employer. There is no affection in such a relationship, only transaction. There is no loving or being loved, only charity and mercy. There is no understanding, only suppressed indignation and deception. There is no intimacy, only an uncrossable chasm. Now that things have gotten to this point, who can reverse such a course? And how many people are capable of truly understanding how dire this relationship has become? I believe that when people immerse themselves in the joy of being blessed, none can imagine how embarrassing and unsightly such a relationship with God is” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Man Can Only Be Saved Amidst God’s Management). Almighty God cuts to the point and reveals men's true nature: They believe in Him because they want blessings. They want to make a deal with Him. I have just realized that my motives for my faith were too impure. I was pursuing blessings, grace, rewards and the rapture into the kingdom of heaven. As long as I could enjoy the blessings of the kingdom of heaven, I would bear any suffering and pay any price, but I did not focus on practicing and experiencing the Lord's words; I did not try to get to know God. As a result, my life had nothing to do with the truth contained in God's words. I have believed in the Lord for many years but had not the slightest knowledge of the Lord. I thought my faith could obtain the Lord's praise, and that when He returned, I'd be lifted into the kingdom of heaven. I really was too shameless and ignorant! God was incarnated twice to carry out the work of redeeming and saving humanity. He did this to give the truth to mankind. This will allow them to accept God's words as their life, freeing them from the bondage and control of sin and making them obedient to God. I did not understand God's will; I did not pursue the truth, and I definitely did not pursue knowledge of God. I just singularly pursued grace and rewards. Even if I sacrificed something, that would only be in exchange for the blessings of the kingdom of heaven. How was I believing in God? How was I loving and being faithful to God? Clearly, I was just trying to make a deal with God; I was trying to use Him and trick Him. In the judgment of Almighty God's words, I've finally seen how deeply I've been corrupted by Satan! I was too selfish and crafty! I lacked any semblance of humanity! I was a despicable villain, only looking out for myself. I was not fit to live before God! God is the Creator of all things. I am His creation. It is right and proper for me to believe in God and sacrifice everything for Him. That is my duty. That is my responsibility as a created being. I lacked any reason or conscience. When I did sacrifice anything or suffer at all, it was part of my attempt to make a deal with God; I wanted Him to compensate me; I wanted blessings. This faith of mine, by which I trick God, how can I not incur His hatred and loathing? How can God possibly allow a satanic creature like me to enter His kingdom? This time, I was kneeling before God, praying in repentance. No matter how God deals with me or what my final outcome is, I'll willingly obey God's plan. Even if I just render service to God, I will pursue the truth. I will do my duty as His creation. By experiencing Almighty God's judgments, chastisements, refinements and trials of the word one-after-another, my viewpoint with regard to my faith in Him has changed. I have started to pursue and practice the truth. Gradually, I have started down the right path of faith which can earn salvation. These are all the results of experiencing Almighty God's judgment in the last days! Thank Almighty God for saving me!
After experiencing the judgment and chastisement of Almighty God in the last days, I've finally seen that I have been corrupted far too deeply by Satan; I was too arrogant and completely without reason! On the outside, I looked like I could spread the gospel, do some work, endure suffering and talk about the words of the Bible, memorize a few passages. I thought I knew God and acted arrogantly and all holier-than-thou. Actually, I did not pray to God or search for the truth and principles. I just blindly did whatever according to my own conceptions. This was especially true when it came to my treatment of the Lord's return. I restricted God to the Bible based on my own conceptions and imaginings. I thought that all of God's words and work were in the Bible, and none of His words or work existed outside the Bible. I stubbornly believed that people that believe in the Lord must keep the Bible, and thought, how could anyone that doesn't keep the Bible believe in the Lord? The result was that when Almighty God's work in the last days touched me, I didn't seek or investigate it. I even followed the pastors and elders in denying and judging it. I was arrogant and lost all reason, right before God! My behavior, was that faith in God? No, it was simply evil! How am I any different from the Pharisees that resisted the Lord Jesus?
I saw something that Almighty God has said, “Since you believe in God, you must put faith in all of the words of God and in all of His work. Which is to say, since you believe in God, you must obey Him. If you are unable to do this, then it does not matter whether you believe in God or not. If you have believed in God for many years, and yet have never obeyed Him, and do not accept the entirety of His words, and instead ask that God submit to you and act according to your notions, then you are the most rebellious of all, you are a nonbeliever. How could such people be able to obey the work and words of God that do not conform to the notions of man? Most rebellious of all are those who intentionally defy and resist God. They are the enemies of God, the antichrists” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Those Who Obey God With a True Heart Shall Surely Be Gained by God). “Those who are not cautious when they encounter the new work of the Holy Spirit, who run their mouths off, are quick to judge, who give free rein to their natural instinct to deny the rightness of the Holy Spirit’s work, and who also insult and blaspheme it—are such disrespectful people not ignorant of the Holy Spirit’s work? Are they not, furthermore, people of great arrogance, people who are inherently proud and ungovernable? … Such disrespectful, indulgent people are pretending to believe in God, and the more people are like this, the more liable they are to offend God’s administrative decrees. Do not all those arrogant ones who are innately unbridled, and who have never obeyed anyone, all walk upon this path? Do they not oppose God day after day, God who is always new and never old?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Knowing the Three Stages of God’s Work Is the Path to Knowing God). Every sentence of Almighty God's words was embedded in my heart. His judgment has exposed my nature and essence: I believe in God but resist Him. I felt God's wrath upon me. I felt His righteous and majestic disposition which cannot be offended. I trembled with fear, and couldn't help but kneel to the ground in shame of my own evil deeds. I have believed in the Lord for all these years, so how am I still so arrogant and conceited? Why do I lack any semblance of reverence to God? When God's work was not in line with my conceptions, I judged and denied it at will. I did not search for the truth or obey God at all. Am I not an arrogant person that believes in God, yet still resists Him? My behavior offended God's disposition long ago. If it wasn't for God's mercy and salvation, I would have been sent to hell long ago. How could I have the chance to hear God's voice and accept His judgment and cleansing in the last days? I felt that I really had been saved by God! This time, I hated and cursed myself more than ever before. I resolved that, no matter how God judges, chastises, prunes, deals with, tests or refines me, I will willingly accept it and obey Him. By continually reading Almighty God's words and experiencing His judgment and chastisement, I now understand many truths that I previously did not. Thanks be to God. I am gaining an ever-greater understanding of my own satanic nature of resisting and betraying God. I now also have some true knowledge about God's holy essence and righteous disposition which allows no offense. Unconsciously, I've developed a reverence of God and a thirst for the truth. I keep a much lower profile than I did before. I'm not as arrogant and conceited. When I'm confronted with things, I can consciously deny myself, search for the truth and practice the truth. My life disposition gradually changed. These are all the results of experiencing the judgment and chastisement by God's word. Now I finally understand what true faith in God is. I understand the true value and meaning of faith in God. This is something that believers never achieved during the Age of Grace. During the Age of Grace, the majority of us believers focused on imitating Paul. We worked and suffered for the Lord. We even preferred to suffer in jail rather than deny the Lord's name. Can this kind of faith in God change our life disposition? Can it allow us to really obey God and love Him? In the end, can this faith really allow us to defeat Satan? Can it really satisfy God? God expresses the truth and does His work on men, asking them to practice and experience His words. Why does He do this? He does it to change men's life disposition and save them from the influence of Satan. In the end, it allows men to know Him and obey Him. This is what true faith in God can achieve. But most believers of the Lord think that as long as they sacrifice everything and labor hard for the Lord, they will be after the Lord's heart, and that when He returns they will be raptured into the kingdom of heaven. Consider this, everyone: God does His work on us. Is this so that after we spread His work, suffering in the process, we ask Him, “I've fought the good fight. and finished running down the path. There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness”? Is this what God demands of men? Is this God's will? If this is how we understand faith in God, are we not misunderstanding Him?
Now that we have said all of this, do you understand what true faith in God is? Is it OK to believe in God but not experience His judgment or cleansing in the last days? Can we know God if we believe in Him but do not experience the judgment and chastisement of His word? Can we understand God's will and really obey and worship Him if we believe in Him but do not practice His words or experience His work? Therefore, if we really want to know God and change our dispositions, accepting and experiencing Almighty God's work of judgment in the last days is extremely important! Almighty God says, “If people remain stuck in the Age of Grace, then they shall never be rid of their corrupt disposition, let alone know the inherent disposition of God. If people always live in the midst of an abundance of grace, but do not have the way of life that allows them to know God or to satisfy Him, then they will never truly gain Him in their belief in Him. This type of belief is pitiful indeed. … When you have experienced each step of the work of God incarnate in the Age of Kingdom, you will feel that desires you have had for many years have finally been realized. You will feel that only now have you truly seen God face to face; only now have you gazed upon His countenance, heard His personal utterances, appreciated the wisdom of His work, and truly sensed how real and almighty He is. You will feel that you have gained many things that people in times past had never seen nor possessed. At this time, you will clearly know what it is to believe in God, and what it is to conform to God’s will. Of course, if you cling to views of the past, and reject or deny the fact of the second incarnation of God, then you will remain empty-handed, acquiring nothing, and ultimately you will be pronounced guilty of opposing God. Those who are able to obey the truth and submit to the work of God shall be claimed under the name of the second incarnate God—the Almighty. They will be able to accept God’s personal guidance, gaining more and higher truths, as well as real life” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Preface).
—The movie script of Faith In God