Four Fundamental Lessons Into Which One Must Gain Entry to Obey God’s Work
There are four fundamental lessons into which one must gain entry to obey God’s work. Detailed fellowship on each is provided below:
First, a fundamental lesson into which one must gain entry to obey God’s work is obeying God’s judgment and chastisement. This is the most important lesson for experiencing God’s work, and the key to whether or not someone can gain the truth and knowledge of God is this lesson, so obeying God’s judgment and chastisement is a fundamental lesson for attaining salvation.
First, we need to have a real understanding of the effects which God’s judgment and chastisement can have upon us, why God does the work of judgment and chastisement, and what the work of judgment and chastisement can make us understand, know, and gain. This is the most important thing, and people must understand it. In a world of evil, corrupt humanity has never known what the truth is, what the positive things are, what the negative things are, how man ought to live with meaning, and which path to take in life. Are such things mysteries? Yes. For thousands of years, since mankind was corrupted by Satan, all of humanity has been searching and investigating to understand these mysteries, but they have never found an answer. None of the men of lofty ideals have been able to truly unravel them. None of history’s sages, saints, gentlemen, or scholars have known what it truly is to live or known what the truth is. People of all nations could read all the books under heaven and never find an answer to the question of what the truth is. When God does His work in the last days, through His judgment and chastisement of humanity’s rebelliousness and corruption, He reveals these mysteries, and in God’s work we find revealed what is the truth, what are mysteries, and how man should live. Are these not the effects of experiencing God’s judgment and chastisement? The words of life by which God judges and chastises mankind are composed only of the truth and mysteries, and as we experience God’s work of judgment and chastisement we discover what are positive things, what are negative things, the extent to which mankind has been corrupted, and what people should rely on to live, and we see that all of mankind’s knowledge and life philosophies are absurd, ridiculous, and evil, and that there is no truth or right path among men. So, what does God’s judgment and chastisement bring to us? It brings the light of life, the proper path of life. It brings us the truth, the way, and the life that man must possess. In God’s judgment and chastisement, we can see true light, we can see true life, and we can know how man ought to live with true meaning. That we gain this proves that God’s judgment and chastisement is deeply significant for corrupt humanity to attain salvation. Some may ask, “How can people live with meaning?” Only by living in accordance with God’s will and the Creator’s requirements for man can we live a life of meaning, can we gain God’s approval, and can we receive God’s blessings. When people gain God’s approval and have God’s blessings, they truly feel enjoyment, peace, joy, and comfort, and feel as if they have gained a true destination. This proves that accepting God’s word and living by it is true life, which is the true way people hope to gain. From this, we can see that God’s judgment and chastisement is most meaningful. No matter what God’s words of judgment and chastisement reveal, they tell us a fact: what God hates, what is loathsome to God, what God likes, and of what God approves. These facts are all revealed and verified, and they point out the direction and goals for us in life. So, if you want to seek out true life and seek the truth, you must accept God’s judgment and chastisement. There is no other path. No matter how high a worldly education you receive or what worldly degree you obtain, you will not gain the truth. This is certain. … What does God’s judgment and chastisement bring us? It brings us all the truths corrupt mankind must possess to attain salvation. It brings us the correct path in life and allows us to see the light of human life. It brings us the great and true salvation preordained by God at the creation of the world. It allows us to cease being mankind that has been corrupted by Satan and belongs to it and become true humans truly purified by God who possess the truth and normal humanity. This result is achieved entirely through God’s judgment and chastisement—God’s work in the last days. Without God’s judgment and chastisement, we would not be able to gain the truth, our corruption would remain unresolved, we would never be able to see the light of human life, and we would never gain God’s approval. All the blessings we have today are the results of our experiencing and obeying God’s judgment and chastisement. Now you should clearly understand the significance of experiencing God’s judgment and chastisement.
Today, many are not clear about which of God’s words are words of judgment and chastisement. Some believe that any words that judge and condemn man are words of judgment and chastisement, but is that viewpoint accurate? It is too one-sided, and not accurate at all. It could be said that the essence of judgment and chastisement exists in all of God’s words, and most of God’s words, as long as they expose the essence of a thing or a problem, are words of judgment and chastisement. When God exposes the true state of mankind’s corruption and their corrupt essence, this is judgment and chastisement. When God exposes problems of rebelling against God or resisting God, or when God exposes a mistaken behavior of corrupt humanity, all of these are judgment and chastisement. How, then, should we accept God’s judgment and chastisement? What should be the principles and standards by which we accept God’s judgment and chastisement? This is a very important question. By the standards of man, people think, “If I have committed a definite offense which is named in the words of God, then these are words of judgment and chastisement directed at me, and I accept such words. If what God says in His word does not accord with my state or the problems in me, then it does not judge me, it judges others.” People also believe that only when man commits illegal acts, offenses, or sins against God should they receive judgment and chastisement, and that if man does nothing criminal or sinful, they shouldn’t be judged and chastised by God. This is a mistaken human notion. Can people who hold such mistaken notions submit to God’s judgment and chastisement? This is why, when you ask many believers in God, “How do you accept God’s judgment and chastisement?” they will answer, “Very little of God’s word judges me because I sin very little. Only a small portion of God’s word judges me, so I have only accepted a small portion of it.” If people do not understand the significance of God’s judgment and chastisement, and do not know how to submit to God’s work of judgment and chastisement, they will never gain the approval of God. In God’s work of judgment and chastisement, those who fail to gain entry into it, experience it, or pass through it will never gain God’s approval. This is a fact. Most people have had this experience: When they first begin reading God’s word, they feel very little of God’s word applies to them, that it is directed mostly at others, those who are corrupted too deeply and resist God too much, and that because they are new believers or because they are young and they have done nothing to resist God, they are not the primary targets of God’s judgment and chastisement, almost as if there is no need to accept God’s judgment and chastisement. So they just follow suit in attending the meetings and reading God’s words in the church. Can those who only follow suit in attending meetings and reading God’s word but do not accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words attain salvation? This is why, if you ask those who attend meetings for years yet have very little understanding of the true state of their own corruption and the essence of their nature, “What have you gained from your experience of God’s judgment and chastisement? What knowledge do you have of how God saves man and changes man’s disposition?” they have no answer. Those who believe in God this way cannot attain salvation, but what is the reason for their failure in their belief in God? They have no true understanding of God’s judgment and chastisement, just as when someone who looks healthy on the outside meets a doctor, the doctor says, “There seems to be a problem in you, you should go to the hospital for a checkup,” and he answers, “I’m perfectly healthy, I know my own body, I don’t need a checkup.” Before long, he finds himself in pain, and the doctor gives him a checkup and finds that he has cancer, and he finds himself stupefied. Are man’s feelings reliable? You might be sick even when you don’t feel sick, and even though the instruments at the hospital prove you are sick, you may not feel sick, because some sicknesses provide no sensation, and by the time you feel it, it’s already reached an advanced stage, and there’s no way to save you. Accepting God’s judgment and chastisement is the same. By the time you feel you are wicked, when you can see you have done many evil deeds and committed many sins, and when you feel that you need to accept God’s judgment and chastisement, it’s already too late. By then the sickness is in your bones, and this is a fact. So, many of our brothers and sisters have had this experience: When they first accept God’s work, they feel as though they are good people, that they haven’t sinned much, but after a few years of experience, they realize, “My corruption runs very deep, there is resistance to God in my disposition, I am full of arrogance and self-rightness, I am full of my own preferences, and nothing in me is in accord with the truth.” The more they believe in God and the more they eat and drink of God’s word, the more they feel they lack the likeness of a human, the more deeply they feel they are corrupted, and the more they feel like without God’s judgment and chastisement they would surely die. All who have experienced God’s work for several years have had such an experience. What does this prove? Does it not prove that humans cannot truly know themselves by relying on their own notions and imaginings? Surely now you see the problem clearly. If, for example, someone was to commit adultery, by the standards of man it would require sexual intercourse with the opposite sex to qualify. But what does God’s word say about it? If you commit adultery in your heart, you have committed adultery. Even though you didn’t do the act, there is adultery in your heart, and when you will break the law is only a matter of time and place. As soon as circumstances allow, you will do it. Isn’t that the case? There is sin in your nature, and you have a sinner’s thoughts, ideas, views, and intentions, so you should accept God’s judgment and chastisement, just like treating an illness. Even though you can’t feel the illness, it is within your body, and you must accept the doctor’s treatment to be cured of it. So, what are the principles of accepting the judgment and chastisement of God’s word? You should not base your decision on whether you have committed any acts, but instead on whether these elements exist in your life, your disposition, and your nature, and if they do, you should accept God’s judgment and chastisement as soon as possible so that you can attain salvation. If you wait until you act on your criminality, it will no longer be a matter of judgment and chastisement. The law will sanction you, or you’ll find it too late to turn back. God’s word reveals all the corruptions in man’s nature, and if such things exist in your nature, you should obediently submit. No matter what God says, you must submit, and then as you come to understand the true state of your corruption and your corrupt essence through God’s word, and then accept the truth as your life, and then rebel against the flesh and Satan, you will be able to resolve your corruptions at the root. This is how God saves man, and the only way for man to shed his corruptions and attain salvation. If you truly have some practical understanding of God’s judgment and chastisement, you will see that all the words God speaks and all God’s words of judgment of corrupt humanity are true, correct, practical, and entirely in line. Once you have this understanding, will you still be picky in your acceptance of God’s judgment and chastisement? Will you still rely on your own principles and standards? Will you still act according to your own notions and imaginings? If you read a sentence in God’s word and think, “This line is very serious, it’s meant to judge devils, and it’s not targeted at me,” is that rational? If you think, “I haven’t committed any sins in this respect, and I have no record of such evil deeds, so this aspect of judgment and chastisement doesn’t apply to me,” is it reasonable to say this? Strictly speaking, all the things revealed by God’s words of judgment and chastisement exist in their entirety within every member of corrupt mankind, so people should accept all of them. Is putting it that way understandable? There is no part of God’s words of judgment and chastisement that is inapplicable to you, and that is how you should understand it. So, if there are portions of God’s words unacceptable to you, if you think you haven’t committed any wicked deeds or that God’s words don’t apply to you, and that they therefore are not directed at you, is that a reasonable understanding? Today many people still lack penetration into such things, so they achieve negligible results in their acceptance of God’s judgment and chastisement. They accept very little of God’s judgment and chastisement. They believe that most of God’s words of judgment and chastisement are directed at others and unrelated to themselves because they have committed no wickedness or sins. The fact is, today some of God’s words may seem unrelated to you and may seem not to refer to you, but you may not feel that way about them tomorrow or the day after. The fact is, today you may think God is speaking about someone else, but if you read the same passage of God’s word a year from now, you’ll discover, “Uh oh, I also have this problem, this passage applies to me, and I have to accept this too.” Another two years will pass and you’ll read more of God’s word, and again you’ll realize, “This also applies to me and is directed at me, so I’d better accept this too.” Finally, in ten or twenty years, you’ll think, “All of God’s words are meant to judge and chastise me, and all of God’s words apply to me, so I should accept and submit to all of them.” Once your experience has reached this point, you will have had a true understanding of God’s judgment and chastisement. So, what point has your experience reached today? Do you still believe many of God’s words aren’t meant to judge and chastise you because they aren’t speaking about your doings? Do you have notions like this? Anyone who harbors such notions has not completely and absolutely submitted to God’s work, and they have only partially submitted. Your submission to God’s judgment and chastisement is limited, and your acceptance of it is limited, so the change you achieve is limited. Is this a practical way of putting it? You cannot accept God’s word based on how much corruption in any given aspect you express, and you must accept it based on your internal state. Accepting it only when you express corruption in a certain aspect is a terribly mistaken principle to practice by. When you feel like if conditions allow it, you will act out the evil within you, you should accept God’s word, because this proves that that kind of corruption exists within you. If God reveals someone as a thief, and you say, “I’ve never stolen anything,” but you don’t dare guarantee that you wouldn’t steal from anyone in any situation, the fact that you don’t dare guarantee it signifies that in certain situations and circumstances, you might be a thief. Or, if God reveals mankind’s betraying nature, can you guarantee that your nature isn’t a betraying nature? You might say, “I’ve never betrayed the friends I’ve made, and I’ve never betrayed my parents. I have a conscience.” We can’t be certain of that. What we can say is that if you live by man’s notions and imaginings, and if you live by the standards of man’s conscience, you are still capable of betraying God, which means that man’s imaginings and standards are invalid. How is the betrayal in man’s heart produced? Through satanic philosophy and man’s notions of right and wrong. When you think something is unreasonable, you betray and abandon it; when you find an opinion unacceptable you abandon it and betray it. If you can’t accept something God requires of you, if you think it is wrong, can you not betray and abandon it? Does this not reveal your betrayal? So, those without the truth are capable of betrayal, and if you don’t live by the truth, you are capable of betraying God. If you live by man’s imaginings and notions, and by doctrines, then you are 100% guaranteed to be someone who can betray God. For example, you get along well with someone, and you think, “He is a good person, he is my friend, and I would never do anything to betray my friend.” This is what you think, but one day your friend does something you hate, something that hurts your feelings. Then you feel that your friend is not sincere enough to you and you decide you don’t like this person, and you say, “I don’t accept you, you aren’t my friend anymore.” By making that decision, aren’t you betraying your friend? Yes, you are. What is this betrayal based on? “You treated me badly, so I won’t treat you as a friend.” Isn’t that the reason for the betrayal? If one day you lack penetration into God’s acts when God makes you suffer—judges you, chastises you, prunes you, deals with you, tries you, or refines you, and you may also feel mistreated by God, that God is also not sincere enough to you, and you may say, “I won’t accept it, I won’t obey,” is this not betraying God? If one day you do evil and God chastises you, makes you ill, or makes you suffer and torments you to make you realize your evil deed and repent, but you don’t understand God’s good intentions and think God is harming and abusing you, and so decide not to submit to God’s arrangements, are you not betraying God? This is betraying God. How you should submit to the exposure, judgment, and chastisement of God’s words and the principles by which you practice are key. If you always practice according to your own conditions and principles for acceptance, you submit to God’s work too little, and you betray God too much. If you submit to God’s words unconditionally, if you accept all of God’s words unconditionally, saying “No matter which lines are in accord with my notions and which aren’t, I accept and submit to them all,” you are someone who submits completely to God’s work. If you treat God’s words according to your own conditions, your own standards, and your own imaginings, there will be trouble, because as soon as you do, acts that resist God and betray God will follow. Some people might then raise questions, such as, “In situations like this, how should I submit?” They will think and produce notions, imaginings, human methods and standards, and then the moment they put them into practice, they go against the truth. What should people practice when they have no penetration into things? Pray and seek God’s will with a right heart. If you have a heart that fears God and you are willing to satisfy God, if you act to satisfy Him rather than yourself, if you have no individual ulterior motives and desires and wish only to satisfy God, this is the correct principle. If your heart is right, the things you do will be accepted by God, but if your heart is not right, no matter how good the things you do look on the surface, they are meaningless. Today, can we still rely on our own notions and imaginings as we accept God’s judgment and chastisement? If the judgment and chastisement of one line of God’s word is particularly heavy, can you accept it? In such situations where you lack penetration into and don’t understand the meaning of God’s word, or outwardly it is not accord with your notions and imaginings, how will you handle it? First, do not allow yourself to conceive notions about it, second, do not blindly pass judgment or comment on it, and third, tell yourself, “I admit and believe that God’s word is right, but I don’t understand it. I won’t pass judgment on God’s work, because I’m not qualified to comment on God’s word, as I don’t understand it.” Having this attitude is truly submitting to God. You must have the right attitude of mind and intentions if you want to submit to God. Do not be arrogant or self-right, and do not think of yourself too highly. Do not rely on your own knowledge and theories to judge God’s words, because to do so lacks reason, and to do so is too arrogant and lawless. The dispositions and attitudes man manifests toward God’s word demonstrate man’s satanic nature. So, what is the principle by which you should practice acceptance of the judgment and chastisement of God’s word? The principle should be, “No matter what God says, I will accept it, and I will submit to it, because this is my duty and the sense I ought to possess as a human.” Stand by the principle of, “I will practice and submit to what I understand, and I will seek the truth, pray to God, and fellowship with God regarding what I do not understand,” but the precondition is that you admit God’s word is always the truth and never wrong; if you experience God’s judgment and chastisement like this, you are guaranteed to have no problems, and you are guaranteed to achieve results, understand the truth, and know yourself. If you have the wrong attitude of mind—you always have your own choices, notions, standards, and imaginings and because of your inability to practice God’s word or your lack of understanding of God’s word, you want to forbid God’s word, and you refuse to accept it, put it aside, doubt it, and pass judgment on it, is that not a satanic disposition? So, to submit to God’s work, people must have the correct attitude of mind, and must believe that no matter what God says, it is the truth, believing, “I admit that the parts of God’s word I understand today are the truth. Even if I didn’t admit that they are the truth, they would still be the truth; God’s word is always the truth, and it cannot be evaluated by the standards of whether or not man can accept or admit it.” Consider the words expressed by God in the last days, even though there are not so many among mankind who accept them, they will always be the truth, because all words uttered by God are the truth, and He will corroborate them in time. Ten, twenty, fifty, a hundred, or a thousand years from now, all of humanity will admit and accept God’s words, and this is a fact. Jesus’ crucifixion was God’s redemption, God’s work, and two thousand years later only a portion of humanity has accepted it, at least a third of humanity accepts it, and when a third of humanity accepts it, it means that humanity accepts it, and this is a fact. The words expressed by God and the work completed by God, sooner or later, will be accepted by humanity.
Second, a fundamental lesson into which one must gain entry to obey God’s work is that of accepting pruning and dealing. Pruning and dealing is something that must be accepted by everyone, because without it, there is no way to achieve true knowledge of oneself.
Some say, “In experiencing God’s work, we experience the judgment and chastisement of God’s word which can clearly expose all of mankind’s corruption, so why do we also need to experience pruning and dealing? Is pruning and dealing absolutely necessary?” Our experience proves to us that pruning and dealing are absolutely necessary. This is one of the components of God’s work in the last days. Through experiencing God’s judgment and chastisement, we have gained some true knowledge of our own corrupt essence, and can accept and know anything revealed by God’s word, but there are certain corruptions that we express in our experience of life, that we express in different situations and circumstances, that are problems that our brothers and sisters can see, that our family members can see even more clearly. In these situations, without pruning and dealing, can we ever come to completely know these corruptions? This is why we must accept pruning and dealing to resolve the corruptions we express. When one can come to recognize the corruptions he has expressed in the past through reading God’s word and fully admit them to himself in his heart, this is partial knowledge of himself. But if some of a person’s satanic nature and disposition are expressed against his will, in these situations, he will be unable to resolve them without experiencing pruning and dealing. Consider a leader who, before taking his position and working, knows that speaking letters and doctrines is wrong, knows that acting arbitrarily is wrong, and knows that one ought to obey God, and ought to be loyal to God in performing his duty. He understands this doctrinally, but when the time for practical work comes, he can’t help but speak letters and doctrines, follow rules, constrain people, behave recklessly, and act according to his own wishes, unable to practice truth. After experiencing pruning and dealing from other people, as he has suffered setbacks, he realizes, “All that time I was speaking letters and doctrines. I understood what it means to speak letters and doctrines, but how could I have done that again? Why have I always failed to resolve the problem of speaking letters and doctrines?” Then he discovers a new problem: Without reality, he can only speak letters and doctrines when it comes time to do work, and when practical problems arise, he is likely to act arbitrarily and do things according to his own preferences, and if no one stops, restrains, or limits him, he will still express the various corrupt dispositions within him. After experiencing much more pruning and dealing, when he feels that he can get nowhere and cannot stand without the truth, he will discover that he is naked, poor, and pathetic, that he has nothing. We can achieve a certain amount of knowledge of ourselves through judgment and chastisement, but through experiencing pruning and dealing, our knowledge of our own corrupt essence becomes even deeper. So, accepting pruning and dealing allows us to achieve new results in our knowledge of ourselves and in resolving our corruption, rebelliousness, and resistance. Judgment and chastisement alone is not enough, we also need to be pruned and dealt with. Through the addition of pruning and dealing, our experience of God’s judgment and chastisement is made deeper, our knowledge of ourselves becomes deeper, and we gain true knowledge of God’s words of judgment and chastisement.
Entry into the lesson of accepting pruning and dealing is difficult. Why are most people unwilling to accept pruning and dealing? They would rather accept God’s judgment and chastisement than accept pruning and dealing from man. What problem is this? This is because, among people’s corrupt dispositions, there exist those of arrogance, conceit, and not submitting to anyone, as though “God may judge me, but men may not deal with me.” Don’t people have such notions? People say, “I have nothing to say against God’s word, but if any man wants to deal with me, supervise me, or expose me, I won’t allow that.” It seems that people are helpless against God and they can only submit to Him, so they can hesitantly accept His word, but if any man tries to constrain, prune, or deal with them, they don’t accept that at all. What does such behavior show us? Just how deep is man’s corruption? What disposition is it to not accept any man’s pruning and dealing? How should we understand this problem? God exposes man, saying that man’s nature is arrogant, self-righteous, and submissive to no one, and from His word, people all accept it, admitting they have such dispositions, but when it manifests itself in actual occurrence, what verifies it? Why do abnormal relationships exist between people? There is no man who is not arrogant and self-righteous, and there are none who truly submit to other men. The more knowledge a man obtains, the less he submits. When a man’s knowledge reaches a certain level, for example when someone obtains a doctorate degree, or like some, even two or three doctorate degrees, he becomes foremost among men. Is that not actually the case? Suppose a man holds a doctorate degree, and someone else exposes and deals with him. If the doctorate holder submitted, what problems would this bring about? The doctorate holder would feel disgraced, disrespected, as if he has suffered a grave insult. If such things exist in a man, what disposition does he have? Why can’t he accept the truth? Does being a doctorate holder mean you have the truth? Is “doctorate holder” a byword for possessing the truth? As you have been corrupted by Satan, all your doctorate degrees are earned in vain! Does holding a doctorate mean you haven’t been corrupted by Satan? Does it mean you have attained salvation? Does it mean you are holy? Does it mean you know God? Does it mean you have the truth? It means nothing. It means only that you understand certain points of wisdom and knowledge, that you understand satanic philosophy, and in truth, you are nothing at all. What problems can holding a doctorate degree solve? Does a doctorate holder live better than others? Does he have more humanity than others? So, the more knowledge a man has, the more arrogant he is, the more unreasonable he is, and the more presumptuous and lawless he is. The more knowledge a man has, the more he betrays and resists God; the higher the knowledge a man has, the more difficult it is for him to attain salvation. Is this not a fact? We must see the essence of this problem clearly. We must understand clearly what the pursuit of the truth is, what the pursuit of knowledge is, what one gains from the pursuit of the truth, and the consequences of the pursuit of knowledge. What kind of person would you say most easily attains God’s salvation? Do the poor more easily attain God’s salvation, or do the rich more easily attain God’s salvation? Do those from tyrannical, autocratic nations more easily attain God’s salvation, or do those from free, democratic nations more easily attain God’s salvation? If a man is given too much freedom, what path will he walk? His perversion will become more and more severe. The more free, democratic the nation, and the better the lives of its citizens, what happens to them? They become steeped in materialism. So, when a person possesses no truth, possessing wealth is not necessarily a good thing, and does not mean this person can accept the truth or more easily attain salvation. So, how should we view these matters? How should we evaluate the lowliness or nobleness of mankind? If a man is wealthy, and you look up to him, and if he becomes a deviant because of his wealth, and is without humanity and impossible to get along with, and you still follow him and worship him, are you sensible? If those in poverty have humanity, are real human beings, and possess conscience and reason, are such people unworthy of your association? How should a man’s lowliness or nobleness be defined? It is not decided by a man’s poverty or wealth, but instead his character, dignity, conscience, reason, and insight. Possessing great knowledge does not confer true greatness. No matter how great your knowledge, is it greater than the truth? What greatness is there in your knowledge if you cannot accept the truth? Those who can accept the truth are truly great men, those who cannot are arrogant, despicable, and the lowest of the low. How can we explain “All those who exalt themselves will be humbled by God, and those who humble themselves will be exalted by God”? Those who can accept the truth are noble, and those who cannot are the lowly, the despicable, and the humble. This is the correct view of this issue.
So, how should we practice gaining entry into this fundamental lesson of accepting pruning and dealing? What is the root of people being unable to accept pruning and dealing? Do we need to know it? Then I ask you, what kind of person does not accept pruning and dealing? Those with the most arrogant, self-righteous dispositions, those who submit to no one, those who look down on everyone, and who see themselves as above everyone, as if they are better than everyone, and therefore no one is qualified to prune or deal with them. Is this not a dispositional problem? Someone like this has a bad disposition. If someone prunes or deals with you, and what he says is right, how should you treat it? You should accept it. And how should you treat this person who prunes or deals with you? Some people know when others are right, and hesitantly accept their words, but kick them away, as if to say, “You are beneath me, and the fact that I accept those words of pruning and dealing is more than enough. Who do you think you are?” What kind of disposition is this? Also a satanic disposition. How does a sensible man treat others? We should seek the truth in how he treats others when they criticize him correctly and when they criticize him incorrectly. If someone criticizes him correctly, how does he treat him? He says, “That you can prune and deal with me in this respect proves you are better than me in this respect. I didn’t see the problem, I lack penetration, and I thought what I was doing was right, so the fact that you could see the essence of the problem and expose it proves that you must be better than me in this aspect.” He also admits, “This person is beneficial to me, he does this in a spirit of true love, he helps me to gain real benefit, having this person near me helps my entry into life, and he holds up a mirror to me.” He is endlessly grateful to this person. Look at it this way, and you will understand how to treat this person. If someone prunes and deals with you, what do you practice? Some people refuse to submit, while others are forced by the facts to lower their heads, but in their hearts they hate the one who prunes and deals with them. What does this hatred mean? They have this attitude of mind: “You found evidence of my mistake this time, but just wait, because one day when I see you reveal your corruption, this is how I’ll deal with you, a tooth for a tooth.” Is this not a corrupt disposition? Another type of person thinks, “This time you saw my corruption revealed and exposed it, but you are even worse than me in this respect. You only look for errors in others, but never look at yourself.” Some people have thoughts like this, don’t they? Yet another kind of person thinks, “Today you made me look bad in front of everyone, you made an enemy of me, fine! This is exactly what I’ll do to you in the future.” Even if they don’t say it, they think it in their heart. Is this kind of person someone who truly submits to God’s work? Holding a bias against and enmity toward others is a satanic disposition. How does someone who understands the truth handle being pruned and dealt with by another? He thinks, “I must respect him, no matter if what he says is correct or somewhat incorrect. If even a portion is correct, I must respect him, not attack him, and not hate him in my heart. If I have evil thoughts and ideas in my heart, I must pray to God, and ask God to deal with, prune, and expose me. I must not be tolerant with my satanic disposition, I must not be lenient to it.” If we can be this strict with ourselves, it is good. If someone is truly your brother or sister and he pursues the truth, the fact that he can prune and deal with you makes him your best teacher and most faithful friend. If this person truly understands the truth, he will immediately see whatever corruption you express before him. Isn’t having someone like that by your side worth treasuring? Absolutely. This person is a treasure, and you must keep him by your side and never leave him, because this person is very beneficial for your life growth. If someone deliberately attacks you and picks at your problems with evil intent, but the problems he points out are correct, how will you treat him? Such a person is also a mirror. There can be no doubt that if no one points out our problems, we won’t even realize it if we make a mistake. The more they pick at our problems the better, because this is very helpful to us in having our disposition changed and entering into life. So, if someone deliberately picks at your problems, this is a good thing; this is part of God’s plan to benefit and perfect you, and you should submit to God’s work. If you can treat people in this manner, your attitude of mind is entirely correct. What does this prove? It proves you have the likeness of a human, that you are living out the true likeness of a human. Is this not the true likeness of a human? This is precisely the true likeness of a human, and it is not easy to live out. So, if I see someone publicly pruned and dealt with, if he respectfully submits to and accepts it, and treats the person who prunes and deals with him in the correct way, I admire this kind of person most of all. I say he can be made leader and entrusted with important tasks. I approve of him. If I find this kind of person, I will promote them at the first opportunity. For those who deal with others, if they harbor no villainous intent and have courage, this is also a positive thing to see. They have a sense of righteousness. So those who can deal with others and those who can accept being pruned and dealt with are all good people if they harbor no villainous intents. They all are worthy people, and are those who pursue truth. This is the correct view to take. Consider if, when you are with your family, no one dares to prune or deal with you, what problem does this show? You are too vicious, no one dares to prune or deal with you, your word alone carries weight, and you are already the king in your home. Situations like this are troublesome. If you have normal relationships with people, others do not fear you, and they only respect you. This is ideal. When others respect you, if they discover your problems, they will treat you with love, and they will prune and deal with you, and if they are willing to take responsibility for you, they will also use other methods to raise the issue with you. But if you are too vicious and treacherous to people, no one will dare prune or deal with you. No matter what mistakes you make or evil you do, no one will raise it, no one will make the slightest objection. What problem does this prove exists? This is indeed troublesome, more so than the usual amount of trouble. This proves you are someone who is a tyrant. No one will dare express their opinions, because this kind of person suppresses terribly those with opinions different than his, and he also viciously oppresses ordinary people. People like this are no good. If someone acting as a leader has normal humanity and reason, he will discuss many things with others, especially with his co-workers. He will never make decisions on his own, and he will seek the opinions of others. Especially those with different views and opinions, he can work harmoniously with them. He will never suppress or force others. Do you think such a leader is suitable for God’s use? Why is he suitable for God’s use? Because he has normal humanity, reason, and the principles of practice. He is not self-righteous, arrogant, or conceited, he does not constrain others, has no wish to be a king, and does not wish to hold all power by himself. If he considers that his actions will not be beneficial to others, that they will be oppressive or exclude others, he won’t do it. Someone like that has normal humanity, and is entirely someone who is after God’s heart. For someone who is truly after God’s heart, others have no fear of giving him suggestions or expressing different opinions to him. Why is this? Others know there is love in his heart, know that he is kind at heart and without viciousness, and know he will not harm others, so they do not fear to speak, express, and raise different opinions with him. This is a good sign, isn’t it? Church leadership at all levels should possess this kind of humanity and reason. It would improve the results of their work and benefit people greatly. But if someone makes a habit of getting back at those who prune and deal with him, and often thinks, “You reported my problem to the higher level, fine, I’ll do the same to you! You publicly dealt with me, fine, I’ll publicly deal with you! However you make me look bad, that’s how I’ll make you look bad,” does this kind of person possess any reason? Do they possess any obedience? The principle by which they do things is to act as they wish. They do not follow the principle of obedience to God. Those obedient to God are tolerant, generous, forgiving, and let others off, they do not keep score of others’ misdeeds or remember others’ transgressions, and they look for the good in people, so they can respect others. This is normal humanity. If someone is corrupt and he thinks, “I’ll be good to whoever is good to me, and evil to whoever is evil to me,” this person is vicious, and has abnormal humanity. Seek the truth in all things. If you live out the true likeness of a man and have normal humanity, this is what truly convinces others. If you have a mistaken desire, such as the desire to take revenge or plot against someone, and afterward, through prayer, you feel, “Doing this would be wrong. He did evil to me, but I should not repay him with evil, I should repay evil with kindness and overcome evil with good,” this is normal humanity, and what those who possess the truth should practice.
What should people possess as a precondition for achieving submission to and acceptance of pruning and dealing? You must first understand, “Pruning and dealing are most beneficial to me, and I must find the root of why my life disposition hasn’t changed much.” The reason is that you do not obey God’s work, or your obedience is too limited. You are satisfied merely with accepting the judgment and chastisement of God’s word, but cannot accept being pruned and dealt with. “Being pruned and dealt with hurts my sense of dignity, and it injures my self-respect, it utterly humiliates me, so to protect my self-respect and my dignity, status, and reputation, I oppose it, I reject it. I’ll justify myself and argue my way out of it.” When someone reveals this disposition, when he relies on this kind of nature to respond to being pruned and dealt with, what kind of consequences will he bring down on himself? He will become more arrogant and self-righteous and resist God’s work all the more, and end up being eliminated by the work of the Holy Spirit even as he is proud of himself. God will put him aside for him to reflect and regret, and he will fall into darkness, where he will wail and gnash his teeth. Therefore, when people cannot submit to God’s work, and instead resist God, stubbornly defend their own views, and refuse to accept the truth, the only result they earn is God’s punishment. Many people still lack clarity about whether accepting pruning and dealing is honorable or humiliating. They always think, “This is humiliating, it’s embarrassing.” They think turning the other cheek is humiliating. Such people are too vain. And what is someone who is too vain? Are they not a devil? Are they not deceitful? You should properly handle being pruned and dealt with and call a spade a spade, “If it’s my problem, I admit it. If we both have problems, I can bear the burden all the same; what’s so hard about that?” When people accept being pruned and dealt with, it means that they submit, and their hearts feel enjoyment, peace, and joy. When God is satisfied, we feel joy and enjoyment, but if we upset God, all our dignity will be useless, and we will feel torment in our hearts, won’t we? So, the more we accept pruning and dealing, and the more we admit our transgressions in public and bravely take responsibility for our transgressions, the more we are someone who accepts the truth and obeys God. This is the reality of obeying God and the best evidence of change in our disposition, and saying so is entirely appropriate. Each of us should take a moment to reflect on whether we truly submit to and accept pruning and dealing. If you can master this second fundamental lesson that must be entered into to obey God’s work and be entirely qualified and please God in it, this proves you are truly obedient to God’s work. It also proves that you have achieved some change in your life disposition. There has definitely been some change in it, and no one will be able to deny that. Judgment and chastisement is easy to submit to, but nothing is harder to submit to than pruning and dealing, because it involves our self-respect and sense of dignity. It isn’t easy to master this fundamental lesson and become qualified. Today, those in the church who can accept being pruned and dealt with better than others, publicly admit responsibility, and lay themselves bare in public are the most courageous, and those who pursue the truth most. Those who cannot accept being pruned and dealt with are those without spiritual stature, obedience, or reality, they remain natural-born corrupt devils. This is an entirely appropriate view to take. The lesson of accepting pruning and dealing is the hardest into which to gain entry, and some people have gained some entry into it, but their entry is limited. So, what does it mean to have truly gained entry into this lesson and completely submitted to being pruned and dealt with? It doesn’t mean simply the absence of external opposition to it or hate for those who prune and deal with you; it means submitting to it from the heart, an absence of satanic disposition, and accepting the ones who prune and deal with you from your heart, treating them correctly, and being grateful to them. If someone can do that, don’t you think they’ve achieved change in their life disposition? This is the reality of submission to God, and nothing is more to others convincing than such submission. …
Third, a fundamental lesson into which one must gain entry to obey God’s work is that of experiencing various kinds of trials and refinement. Why does God use all kinds of trials and refinement to perfect man, what specific purpose do trials and refinement serve in the process of God perfecting man, and what is their significance? These are truths we must understand.
If you always lack penetration into the many kinds of trials and refinements, you will use the methods of man to resolve and deal with them, and thus you will lose chances to be perfected by God, and you will learn far fewer lessons, and gain much less of the truth. Many people say that they have lost the chances to be perfected by God because of ignorance. What do they mean by saying so? They mainly mean that they haven’t properly experienced the many kinds of trials and refinement. How are people perfected through trials and refinement? What lessons can people learn from trials and refinement? The first lesson is that trials and refinement are the best way to reveal whether someone has reality. People who understand many doctrines often believe they understand the truth. So what can make them convincingly able to say, “What I understand are doctrines, and I haven’t touched the truth”? This is something people can admit after trials and refinement. An old saying in China goes, “A long road proves a horse’s strength; time proves a man’s heart.” “A long road proves a horse’s strength” is entirely accurate. Experiencing trials and refinement is the “long road,” and the “horse’s strength” is whether someone can bear testimony and stand firm amidst trials and refinement, which is how we know his spiritual stature. If someone can stand firm amidst trials and refinement, if he still has faith, pursues the truth and accepts God’s word, this proves he has spiritual stature, and proves that his faith is true. Some people have only experienced this stage of God’s work for 3-5 years but they constantly yearn for the arrival of the day of God. They constantly wish God’s work would just conclude tomorrow and be over, “I want to receive blessings, I want to enter the kingdom.” Do people like that have true faith? How far down the road can they walk in 3-5 years? How many days is 3-5 years? They have believed in God for just over a thousand days, it isn’t a “long road.” Some people have experienced this stage of God’s work for twenty years and still have faith. Even after twenty years of experience of God’s work in this bitter, harsh, and difficult environment, they don’t give up or turn negative. What does this prove? That they have true faith. How many years have you believed in God? You may say you have faith after only 3-5 years of belief in God, but do you dare call it faith? If your faith can at most last for 7-8 years, or a decade, is that true faith? This is why trials and refinements can perfect man’s faith. How often during trials and refinements do we become discouraged, weak, and even question God’s work? “Is God’s work correct or not? Is this God’s work? If it is, how could something like this happen to me? And given that this happened to me, if I keep going, what will the consequences be? If I really pay with my life, if I pay the price of pain, what will I gain?” It’s hard for people to avoid having such thoughts, but what does that prove? Trials and refinement reveal every deficiency in man. How can someone without the truth not be confused? How can someone without the truth not be negative and retreat? This is why trials and refinement serve the purpose of revealing man. If someone pursues the truth, when he sees that he lacks it, when he discovers he lacks reality, lacks knowledge of God, and lacks faith, how will he react? He will feel like he is facing a great challenge, “I have to eat and drink God’s word and pray to God quickly, or I won’t be able to stand firm.” As he draws near to God, prays to God, and contemplates God’s word, he will gain a little more understanding of God’s work, and he will experience a turn for the better in his faith. The poorer and the more pitiable and lacking someone is revealed to be amidst trials and refinement, if he is someone who pursues truth, the more inspired he will become. Those who pursue the truth fear losing their faith, fear seeing that they lack true spiritual stature, and fear the revelation that they lack the truth. That scares them more than anything. When such a person discovers that he is poor, pitiable, naked, and has nothing, he will quickly pursue the truth, read God’s word, and pray to God. He would rather deprive himself of sleep than not pray thoroughly, and he would rather put everything aside than not seek the truth, because he must solve this problem before he can rest that concerns life and his ability to stand firm in his testimony, the matter of life or death. This is why trials and refinement are meant to perfect those who pursue truth, and reveal and eliminate those who do not.
So, how should we treat trials and refinement? When trials and refinement come upon us, it is the arrival of God’s love and salvation. Though our fleshly bodies have to suffer, we must pay a price, and we even must shed many tears, yet if we are people who pursue truth, we will receive true provision, we will receive the Holy Spirit’s illumination and enlightenment, and we will gain true faith and true knowledge of God. It is a fantastic chance to gain entry into the truth. Without trials and refinement, man lives in contentment, the flesh does not suffer, the heart feels no torment, and the eyes shed no tears, so he gains nothing and receives nothing, he simply spends his days eating and drinking his fill and pleasuring himself. Only trials, refinement, pruning, and dealing provide opportunities for us to grow in life, pursue the truth, and be near to God, and they also provide the best opportunities for us to see our true spiritual stature and know whether we truly possess reality. Trials and refinement hold up a mirror to us. They show us exactly what spiritual stature we have and whether or not we possess the truth. They also spare us the trouble of being told by others or blindly contemplating and judging by ourselves what we are and what spiritual stature we possess, because trials give us the most accurate revelation of ourselves. So, if we can successfully pass through the many kinds of trials and refinements, if through them we can gain and can gradually grow in our faith and have a deeper knowledge of God, unconsciously we will become perfected. If every trial provides a little growth, how much will we grow through ten trials? Or a hundred? The gains will be enormous. At that point we will have been perfected. Is experiencing trials a good thing? For those who pursue the truth it is, but for those who do not love the truth, who hate the truth, it is exposure and elimination. … For those of us who pursue to be perfected through experiencing God’s work, all the suffering we undergo is a good thing, not a bad thing. The more we suffer the better, the more we suffer the more we grow in life. Do you see this fact? Some people don’t want to suffer, but once you’ve suffered much, you’ll understand it’s a good thing. People always pursue fleshly comfort and peace, and they spend their days eating, drinking, and enjoying themselves, but are those God’s blessings? Those are sorrow, and one day these sorrowful things will have consequences. Those consequences will become your retribution, and that will be troublesome. When those sorrows bring down retribution on you, you’ll regret. By the time you say, “All the years I spent eating, drinking, and enjoying myself ruined me,” it will be already too late, and the words will be useless. So, the more you suffer now the better, the more tears you shed the better. These are all good things. One day, the awareness will strike you, “All my suffering brought me such great blessings! It brought such great benefit to my life!” All the torment you undergo will bring you true happiness, and become the root of that happiness. Doesn’t that make the misery you feel after being pruned and dealt with a good thing? Isn’t undergoing the misery of trials and refinement a good thing? If your husband died, wouldn’t that be a good thing? If your wife died, wouldn’t that be a good thing? If your father or mother died, wouldn’t that be a good thing? These would all be good things. These trials would bring you misery and refine your faith. These painful refinements could increase your knowledge of God, allow you to understand God’s work, and have true faith in God. Refinement can produce faith in you, and only the faith produced through refinement can enable you to stand firm. Such faith is true faith, not vague belief. Therefore, to all appearances, some painful trials and refinement that come upon you seem to be disastrous to man, as if God’s curse befell you, but in truth they are blessings to you in your growth in life, in your being perfected, and in your attainment of salvation.
How should people learn lessons when trials and refinement arrive? Amidst refinement, the first thing to do is inspect your faith and see whether you possess the truth and know how to practice the truth to satisfy God, humiliate Satan, and truly bear testimony. This is a fantastic chance to reflect on yourself and gain knowledge of yourself. When trials and refinement come, people will first have notions toward God, and then doubt Him. Once these emerge, is it not a sign of danger? Once these appear, your “true” faith no longer exists, and your meager and poor knowledge of God and the fact that you have nothing are revealed. That you can doubt God proves you have no true knowledge of God, no faith, that you are so pathetic and poor you have nothing and you are destitute. Is this not a revelation of your spiritual stature? Once it is revealed, then look at the strength of your fleshly preferences, look at the acts performed by your fleshly nature and the choices made by you, look at the true corrupt condition of your flesh, look at how your flesh betrays and resists God, and look at whether your fleshly pursuits, preferences, and goals are all things that betray and resist God. So, amidst trials and refinements, you will first come to realize whether or not you possess the truth, and second, you will come to realize the degree to which your flesh has been corrupted. Your fleshly desires, pursuits, and preferences will be completely exposed, and this is when you will see what kind of a person you are and what your spiritual stature is. At this key moment, won’t whether or not you are someone who betrays God and whether you have the reality of obeying God be plainly revealed? Trials and refinement completely expose the true colors of a man, and the most beautiful lies he told and the richest doctrines and knowledge he acquired before, or the pretty words he said and the promises he made before, are all wiped away. He brazenly resists God and pursues satanic things and fleshly ease and comfort. When such trials come, are there not many lessons to be learned? Are there not many truths that we should be equipped with? Are there not many truths that we should practice? Such times are when the most heated battles between God and Satan are fought. They stand on the battlefield fighting over you. Do you stand on God’s side, or on Satan’s side? Will you turn to God, or will you turn back to Satan? This is a critical moment that reveals you, and it could be said that this is also a critical moment in deciding whether you can attain salvation or whether you will be eliminated.
To which things does the lesson of trials and refinement refer? All the things that can make you lose your faith in God, depart from God, and threaten or challenge your belief in God are trials and refinement. People are faced with trials and refinement in their marriages, their work, or their families by serious disruption, obstruction, or disturbances from Satan, or they experience sickness, disasters, unprecedented crises in their lives, or hunger and starvation. These things are all trials and refinement. When these trials and refinement come, what kinds of truths you should pursue and what aspects of the truth you should understand so that you can stand firm, have true faith in God, and ensure that what you do is in accord with God’s will and is to stand firm in your testimony—these are the things into which you should pursue entry. If, for example, your non-believing husband (or wife) dies, what are the truths you should understand? What must you possess to have truth faith? You must possess the ability to say, “No person, event, or thing can stop me from believing in God or following God. Now that my non-believing husband (or wife) is dead, I can forsake everything and follow God.” If your faith in God only grows, this means you have faith. Look at how a person without faith would think: “My husband is dead, so I’d rather die too, because life has no meaning anymore.” Or “My wife is dead, so I’d rather die too. How can I go on living alone? I’d rather die!” They would pray to God, “God, let me die! I want to die with my wife (or husband), I don’t want to live.” Isn’t this the behavior of someone who has lost faith? This is someone who wants to die alongside Satan, who doesn’t want to follow God anymore, who doesn’t want to obtain salvation or to be perfected and gain entry to their true destination. They want to die and go to hell with Satan. Isn’t someone who can have such thoughts someone without faith? So, this becomes their trial and refinement, because it threatens and challenges their faith. All that can make you depart from God or betray God are trials and refinement, including all of Satan’s temptations. Think back and try to recall if you’ve encountered anything capable of making you lose your faith in God, betray God, or deny God. If you have, it proves that this is your lethal weakness. Some say, “I’m afraid of my husband dying; if my husband dies I will lose my faith in God.” Others say, “I’m afraid of my wife dying; if my wife dies I will lose my faith in God.” Are these not their lethal weaknesses? These people’s affection for Satans is too strong, so strong that it can lead them to betray God and be unable to leave Satans. Is this not precisely the problem here? While Satans live, they want to live, and when Satans die, they want to die. They follow Satans, which will be the end of them. There are many kinds of trials and refinement. What refinement do we endure in poverty? Hunger, which puts our survival in danger. What do people without faith think in times like this? “I believe in God, but why doesn’t He give me food to eat? If I pray to God for several days and He doesn’t grant me food, I’ll starve to death. If so, is the God I believe in a true God or a false god?” Some people will think like this. How will someone who has the truth think? How will he pray? He will think man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word spoken from the mouth of God. This is one aspect of entry. The most important thing is that he sees clearly this fact: “God, You gave me life, You caused me to come into this world, so my life and my death are in Your hands. If You want me to die, I will submit without complaint, because Your thinking is best. It is also my only choice. I will choose nothing for myself. To allow me to live was Your gracious will, and if You want me to die, this is all the more Your gracious will, and I should also submit.” If a man can achieve such entry, he has faith indeed. When trials came to Job, all his wealth was taken from him, yet he was able to pray like this, “God gave, and God has taken away. Blessed be the name of God. You granted these things to me, and You can take back what You gave. This is a fact. In the past, I thought You only granted, and that You would never take things away once granted, but now I see that without Your permission, Satan could never have taken them. You must have permitted, and as You permitted, it means You have taken them away, so blessed be Your name. I praised You when You gave, and I praise You when You have taken away. I have no reason not to praise You, because there was Your gracious will in all this, and You allowed all this, so I will praise You no matter what You do.” Job had this understanding and was able to submit to God’s arrangements and orchestrations. Questions of life and death are the same, and man can only submit, praise God, and submit to God’s plan and sovereignty. If you have a family member who is terminally ill and on the brink of death, how will you pray? This is no small trial! This trial will reveal whether you have faith. So how should you pray to ascertain God’s will and prove that you have faith in God? Is there any truth to seek in this? If you do not seek the truth, you will not be able to stand firm, there will be no path for you, and you will fall into darkness. Only by practicing the truth can you see the light, ascertain God’s will, know how to act in accordance with God’s will, and find the correct path. Therefore, when trials come, the first thing we must remember is to go before God and seek the truth. This is the only way to experience trials and be perfected. There is no other path but to seek the truth. Once we have the truth, we will have the way, and we will have testimony. If you fail to gain the truth, but instead rely on man’s methods, you will have been tricked by Satan, you will have betrayed God, and you will have utterly failed. So, if a disaster has fallen upon your family member, and he is on the brink of death, how should you pray? You can pray like this: “God granted me my relative, so if God wants to take him away, I am grateful to God, and I still praise God. What God does is not wrong, God is always my Master and my God.” Is this not submission? But if someone prays like this: “God, You created him, and You granted him to me, so You can’t let him die, because You have that authority. If You let him die, this will bring You no glory,” how is that prayer? What kind of a prayer is this? It’s a prayer that threatens, betrays, and resists God. There’s still another kind of prayer: “God, I beg You to save him. If You don’t save him, I won’t be able to live. If You save him, and don’t let him die, it means You truly love me, otherwise You don’t love me, and people won’t see Your testimony.” Is it right to pray this way? He who prays this way doesn’t know how people should see and treat God’s work so that God can be glorified. He thinks that things in accord with human notions that man can praise and unbelievers can exalt God when seeing—these things are testimony to God and in accordance with God’s will. But isn’t this using human notions in the place of God’s will? He asks God to grant human notions rather than God’s own desires, so this kind of prayer is not an obedient prayer to God. This is a prayer that rebels against God, that makes demands of God according to man’s notions, that asks God to obey and satisfy him. Making such a prayer that carries his own intentions is rebellion against God and not in accordance with God’s will, so if someone behaves this way amidst a trial, if he always makes demands of God like this, then he has not been perfected in the trial. He has completely failed, has not borne testimony and has disappointed God. How can you, when undergoing a trial, bring glory to God and satisfy God? Most importantly, you must learn to ascertain God’s will, but also to obey God, and when you aren’t sure what to do or how to pray, you should submit to God’s arrangements and obey His sovereignty without your personal choices. Do not try to maintain your notions or personal demands. Simply submit to God, and say, “If he dies I will be grateful to God, and if he lives I will also be grateful to God. No matter if he lives or dies I am grateful to God.” If you can achieve this level of knowledge of God and submission to God, you will be standing firm in your testimony, satisfying God, and humiliating Satan. And in the end, what will Satan say to God? It will say, “I never thought this man would truly submit to You. You took his spouse away, and he still thanks You.” That will humiliate Satan, won’t it? What did Satan say when it accused this man? It said, “Although this person has believed in You for years, if You take his spouse away, he will betray You and stop believing in You.” This was the accusation Satan made to God. God said, “He is under your domain, so try it! Take his spouse away, and I’ll see.” And what happened? This person bore the testimony, satisfied God, praised and thanked God, and Satan was utterly humiliated. So, what does it mean to stand firm in one’s testimony? What does it mean to satisfy God? It means to submit completely to God and not make demands of God according to human notions. Someone who submits to God can say, “No matter if I live or die, I will praise God; no matter what God grants to me or takes away, I will exalt God’s name; no matter what God does in this matter, no matter the result, I will believe in God to the end and praise God’s righteousness.” This is a perfect testimony. This is complete victory amidst a trial. What should you practice if you want to stand firm in your testimony and satisfy God amidst trials and refinement? You should seek the truth, and have a heart that submits absolutely to God, and if you cannot understand anything clearly and don’t know what the appropriate thing to do is, simply submitting to God without personal demands is the right thing to do. Now you understand clearly how to experience trials and refinement, right?
Fourth, a fundamental lesson into which one must gain entry to obey God’s work is that of how to reflect on oneself and what kind of truths to be equipped with in real environments, and how one should experience God’s work in real life.
How one should experience God’s work in real life is a fundamental lesson. Without pruning and dealing or trials and refinement, how should we pursue the truth? First, we must understand this fact—there are many people, events, and things in real life which God has arranged in our environments in order to save and change us, environments that were designed based on our corrupt states and which are extremely beneficial to our entry into life and dispositional change, so the lesson of how true believers in God should experience God’s work in real environments is a very urgent one. Many believe in God simply to have the church life, and their home lives and real lives seem to have nothing to do with their belief in God, so when they encounter any people, events, or things in any environment, they never seek the truth or look at problems according to God’s word, which is to say they only believe in God at church, and don’t believe in God at home. Will such people attain salvation? In real environments they don’t learn lessons, which is to say that in real environments they still belong to Satan and rely on Satan to live. They only have the little amount of time they spend in meetings, just a little over ten hours a week, to eat and drink God’s words, contemplate God’s words, pray to God, and believe in God. Aside from those just over ten hours a week, they rely on Satan to live, living a life completely unrelated to belief in God, and pursuing things entirely unrelated to the truth. Accurately speaking, such people are unbelievers. I have seen there are some in the church whose fellowship about things is based on God’s word, and their perspectives seem correct, their view of them seems right, and what they understand seems right, but at home, with their unbelieving relatives, the same people speak in the tone of unbelievers, in the phrasing and perspectives of unbelievers. What problem is this? Do such people accept God’s word and pursue the truth? If someone’s unbelieving relative tells him something, but his brother or sister tells him something different, he will choose to believe his relative. He is closer to his relatives, and blood ties are more important to him than the life relationship he shares with his brothers and sisters. Does such a person belong to God? Or does he belong to Satan? This is why, if someone doesn’t pursue the truth in real life, he lives outside of God’s word. When he reads God’s word in meetings, he is simply going through the motions, which is disguise and deception, a false impression, and the life he leads behind it reveals his true colors. How does someone who pursues the truth practice in his real life? When he encounters any people, events, or things, he can try to ascertain God’s will, see the essence of the matters clearly, and seek the paths of practice according to God’s words. After a period of such experience, his views will begin to change, and he will be able to see clearly whether the people, events, or things around him and the problems he discovered are Satan’s temptations or positive things. He will be able to clearly tell the positive things from the negative things, know what he should pursue and what he should cast aside, and know what kind of path to choose. Someone like this is someone who pursues the truth. Those who do not pursue the truth, in every situation, always choose to act in their own benefit, to benefit their fleshly life, and to gain the most advantage. Can such people ever achieve change in their views on things? Someone who does not pursue the truth in real life can never change his views. There are no principles in the things he pursues and the choices he makes, and they are all based on his fleshly life and interests. Such a person will never attain salvation, and this is a fact. How can we ascertain whether someone pursues the truth? Look at whether he pursues and practices the truth in his life, which is to say whether he is able to seek the truth, gain entry into reality, and live by the truth in his home and fleshly lives. Some husbands are devils and unbelievers who constantly tempt and seduce their wives into following the lifestyle of unbelievers, and their wives listen. Whatever their unbelieving relatives do, however they treat them, whatever they ask them to do, whatever tasks they give them, they obey, and for the sake of a harmonious home and their happiness, they end up following the devil Satan. Do people like this pursue the truth? Then what does someone who pursues truth practice in his home life? He can discern what are positive things and what are negative things. Things in accord with God’s word are positive, and he pursues and practices these things. If something runs contrary to God’s word and is corrupt, immoral, or loathsome to God, he stays away from it, abandons it, and rejects it. Does this kind of person not have principles in life? No matter what he is dealing with, he has principles, and he handles things according to the truth. People like this pursue the truth. When people who pursue the truth have come to understand more of it, when they can practice the truth in all they do, they will have become people obedient to God. If someone lacks the experience and testimony of seeking and practicing the truth in real life, that proves he is not someone who pursues the truth. …
What aspects of entry should we focus on in our real lives? We should focus on how to understand the truth and know our deficiencies, and especially when we encounter something that reveals us, we should focus on how to better know the true condition of our own corruption and our lethal weaknesses. This way, when you discover the depth of your own corruption, when you see yourself resisting and rebelling against God too much, your knowledge can encourage you and push you to pursue the truth. So, when certain environments reveal our corruption, when they reveal things in the essence of our nature, how should we know them? How should we treat them? How should we use these opportunities to reflect on ourselves, see our deficiencies, and clearly see our corrupt true self? If we are clear about the ways, we will know how to pursue the truth and be able to resolve these problems. With those who don’t pursue the truth, no matter what environments they find themselves in and no matter what sort of corruption they express, they do not care about it, and they turn a blind eye to it, ignore it, and are indifferent to it. Will such people ever gain true knowledge of themselves? People like this are people who do not pursue truth. Those who do not pursue the truth are muddle-headed in all things and learn no lessons from anything. As the unbelievers often say, they learn no skills. If you ask them to solve problems, they can never achieve results. Such people have no way to enter more deeply into the experience of life, and despite years of belief in God, their experience is especially shallow. Why is it shallow? It’s not a question of time spent, it’s a question of whether or not they pursue the truth in their life and whether or not they seek the truth in all problems they encounter. If they do not, their experience will never deepen. …
How should we reflect on ourselves and equip ourselves with the truth in real environments? In our real lives, if we pursue the truth, we should practice the truth in several aspects. First, we need to look at the different types of environments that occur in real life. One type is that of worldly trends. How should you seek the truth in the face of worldly trends? Is following worldly trends in accord with the truth? What is your purpose as you seek the truth? Your purpose is to gain penetration into the dark, evil aspects of worldly trends, and then completely forsake the world and forsake Satan. If you lack penetration into them, you may desire not to follow them but still feel affection for them, you may desire to forsake them but be unable to part with them. Without the truth, you will lack the penetration into them, and without the penetration you will be unable to find the correct path for practice, so you must first seek the truth and gain this penetration. Sometimes, the view of worldly trends toward things is constantly changing. Especially in the last days, much of this change occurs as many things once condemned according to mankind’s notions become positive things, some things once seen as wicked are now seen as good, and some things once seen as positive are now seen as evil. What problem does this prove? That worldly trends are now so dark and corrupt mankind so evil that black is starting to be seen as white, evil worshiped, and things pure, good, and beautiful opposed. The more something is seen as positive in God’s eyes, the more worldly trends define it as negative, as wicked, as evil, while things seen as wicked and evil in God’s eyes become positive, benevolent, and good to worldly trends. Are not worldly trends going directly against the word of God? Worldly trends and God’s requirements and will are in fact direct opposites. In this juxtaposition of the right side and the wrong side, on which side should we stand? How should we treat worldly trends? We should seek the truth. If you do not seek the truth, you will have no penetration, but after you seek the truth, a fact will become clear to you: God’s word never changes, the things God sees as positive never become evil, and the things condemned by God never become positive. The truth is eternally the truth, evil is eternally evil, and black can never be twisted into white. There is one truth we see clearly: “Sky and earth will pass away, but God’s word will never pass away, and God’s word is eternally the truth.” We should always view things based on God’s word, always oppose, eternally reject, and forever forsake those things God’s word defines as evil, and eternally pursue, always love, and forever uphold those things God’s word defines as positive and good. This is how true possession of the truth is expressed. This is the way those who have the truth uphold it, and how they hold to God’s word. To hold fast to God’s word is to have testimony. Those who do not hold to God’s word, who are deceived by evil, and who call black white and white black are those who betray God, those without the truth. What should man practice in the face of worldly trends? Man should forever hold fast to God’s word, firmly believe that God’s word will never change, and that the truth will never change. No matter how worldly trends change, they do not represent the truth, and they are always negative and evil. If you see things in this way, it proves you understand a portion of the truth, but the lack of this perspective proves you do not have the truth, that your perspective is that of Satan, and like that of the unbelievers, it has not undergone transformation. The perspective of someone who pursues the truth undergoes transformation. He can hold to God’s word, and he firmly believes that God’s word is the eternally unchanging truth, that while sky and earth may pass away, God’s word will never pass away, and that there is no higher truth than this. Now we are clear on what to practice in the face of worldly trends. There is another environment. How should we face the great red dragon’s oppression and persecution? What lessons should we take from the actions of the great red dragon? There are many lessons to be learned, and many truths to be grasped here. What problems’ essence have you gained penetration into through the oppression and persecution of the great red dragon? What truths have you understood? Can you summarize them? When you are oppressed and persecuted by the great red dragon, if you can discover many mysteries, understand many truths, and come to a truer knowledge of God through how the great red dragon behaves in its reign, and if you can gain penetration into the great red dragon’s evil essence and its despicable, ugly face and truly rebel against the great red dragon, then you have truly gained the truth. If when you are faced with the oppression and persecution of the great red dragon, you discover no truth, gain nothing, and develop no penetration into the great red dragon’s face, then you are not someone who seeks truth, you have nothing, you live with your eyes closed, and you are incapable of discovering anything. If you, through seeking the truth amidst the great red dragon’s oppression and persecution, have come to understand certain truths, discover certain mysteries, and gain penetration into certain true facts, you have not lived in vain, and you have not suffered the great red dragon’s oppression and persecution in vain. What you receive is a treasure; you have gained something, just as you have gained something from believing in God, from God’s word, or from real environments. We must relate what we read in God’s word to reality, because God’s word targets man’s real life, the practical problems man has, the nature and essence of man, and the real environments man lives in. God’s word shouldn’t be read in a vacuum, you must relate what you read in it to practicalities, to reality, to men’s thoughts and nature. Only then can you discover the truth and the real significance of life. God’s word must not be simply read as lines of text without applying it to practicalities and reality. If you do that, you won’t gain the truth. What is “reality”? It is what we face every day, the oppression and persecution of the great red dragon, the reign of Satan, the darkness and evil of the world, mankind’s corruption, the hindrances and disturbances from the many people, events, and things around us, the expressions of the corrupt dispositions of various kinds of people, the torment of illnesses, the trials and refinement brought to man by poverty and wealth, and the disturbance, resistance, rejection, and slander of our children, spouses, and unbelievers. These are all real life environments. So, how should we seek the truth and enter into the truth in real life environments? Resolving problems with the truth is the reality into which we should achieve entry. Some read God’s word, but do not relate it to the practicalities of real life or their own corrupt condition, thoughts, and viewpoints. You cannot gain the truth by reading God’s word like that, and you can only come to understand doctrines. Understanding doctrines alone is useless. It solves no problems. Consider that many people ask these questions, “My emotions are too strong; how should I resolve this? My unbelieving relatives always persecute me; what should I do?” Are these not real problems? How do we resolve these real problems? We must rely on reading God’s word and seeking the truth to solve them. Some say, “I want to pursue the truth and read God’s words, but there are so many words of God. When will I ever finish reading them and understand them? I don’t know which of God’s words to use to resolve the problem facing me right now. It seems like the aid is too slow in coming to be of any help if I read God’s words.” If you can’t solve the problem facing you now, you can deal with it however you like, and you may skip this problem, but as you continue to eat and drink of God’s word, one day you will understand all of it, and it won’t be too late to use God’s word to solve your problem then. Now you see clearly the importance of understanding the truth, right? What is the greatest benefit of genuinely understanding the truth? It allows you to walk the right path, enter onto the right track of belief in God, and become someone who obeys God. Once this foundation, the foundation for being a man, is laid, you won’t ever take the wrong path again, and you are guaranteed to attain salvation. If you lack the truth, today you may participate in church life, and perhaps tomorrow, but the moment your environment changes, the moment you encounter an evildoer or a deceiver, you will take the wrong path again, and you will again board the ship of thieves and follow Satan. In this way, you will depart from the embrace of God and be captured by Satan again. Have such believers in God attained salvation? No, they haven’t, and they can only get halfway there and then throw it all away. Some people have learned to recognize that this is the true way. They can feel that by experiencing God’s work in the last days they can indeed obtain salvation, and through God’s work in the last days, God can indeed grant salvation, change people, and perfect people. They see this clearly, and believe it, but they can’t get on it. What does “they can’t get on it” mean? It means they are unwilling to seek the truth, to pursue the truth, they are uninterested in the truth, and this is their lethal weakness! … Yet another kind of environment involves how to seek the truth in our families, in emotional matters, and in our lives, and how we should use the truth to solve problems of our emotions and life philosophies, so that we can become normal people who do not act according to emotions, and who treat people and get along with others in a principled manner. This is another aspect of reality. If someone possesses much of the truth in real life, and if he can rely on the truth to handle all kinds of people, events, and things, and have a path to practice the truth, isn’t this someone who has completely entered into the reality of the truth? If you have no reality of the truth in your real life, it proves you are an unbeliever, who even after years of belief has not gained the truth.