80. The Principles of Feeling out Potential Gospel Targets
(1) First, it is necessary to ascertain whether a potential gospel target is of good or poor humanity, whether they can accept the truth, and whether an evil spirit is at work in them. After this, establish whether the gospel may be spread to them;
(2) Having confirmed a potential gospel target is good, you must interact with sincerity and find opportunities to fellowship on the truth, thus paving the way for spreading the gospel;
(3) You must understand and perceive the caliber, preferences, vital weaknesses, and notions of a potential gospel target, in order to provide a background for future testimony to them;
(4) If a potential gospel target is found to be too arrogant and self-righteous to accept the truth, yet is gifted at spreading the gospel and is able to render service, you should endeavor to win them over.
Relevant Words of God:
Originally the man made by God was alive, but because of Satan’s corruption man lives amid death and lives under the influence of Satan, and so, in this way, people have become the spiritless dead, they have become enemies who oppose God, they have become the tools of Satan, and they have become the captives of Satan. All the living people created by God have become dead people, and so God has lost His testimony, and He has lost mankind which He created and which is the only thing that has His breath. If God is to take back His testimony and take back those who were made by His own hand but who have been taken captive by Satan, then He must resurrect them so that they become living beings, and He must reclaim them so that they live in His light. The dead are those who have no spirit, those who are numb in the extreme and who oppose God. They are foremost those who do not know God. These people have not the slightest intention of obeying God; they only rebel against Him and oppose Him and have not the slightest loyalty. The living are those whose spirits have been reborn, who know to obey God, and who are loyal to God. They are possessed of the truth, and of testimony, and these people alone are pleasing to God in His house. God saves those who can come to life, who can see God’s salvation, who can be loyal to God and who are willing to seek God. He saves those who believe in God’s incarnation and in His appearance. Some people can come to life, and some people cannot; this depends on whether their nature can be saved or not.
Excerpted from “Are You Someone Who Has Come to Life?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
There are different types of people, and they are differentiated by what sort of spirit they have. Some people have human spirits, and they are the ones whom God predestined for selection. Some do not have human spirits; they are demons who have tricked their way in. They who were not predestined and chosen by God cannot be saved even if they have gotten in, and ultimately, they will be snatched away by demons. Whether people can accept God’s work, and, after they have accepted it, what path they walk and whether they can transform, all depends on the spirit and nature within them. Some people cannot help but go astray; their spirits determine them to be such people, and they cannot change. In some of them, the Holy Spirit does not work, because they do not walk the right path; if, however, they were to make a turnaround, the Holy Spirit could yet work. If they do not, then it will be all over for them. Every kind of situation exists, but whatever the case, God is righteous in His treatment of every person.
Excerpted from “How to Know God’s Righteous Disposition” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
God’s salvation of mankind is a salvation of those who love the truth, a salvation of the part of them with will and resolve, and the part of them that is their yearning for truth and righteousness in their heart. A person’s resolve is the part of them in their heart that yearns for righteousness, goodness, and truth, and is possessed of conscience. God saves this part of people, and through it, He changes their corrupt disposition, so that they may understand and gain the truth, so that their corruption may be cleansed, and their life disposition may be transformed. If you do not have these things within you, you cannot be saved. If, within you, there is no love for the truth or aspiration for righteousness and light; if, whenever you encounter evil, you have neither the will to cast off evil things nor the resolve to suffer hardship; if, moreover, your conscience is numb; if your faculty for receiving truth is also benumbed, and you are unattuned to the truth and to events that arise; and if you are undiscerning in all matters, and unable to handle or resolve things on your own, then there is no way to be saved. Such a person has nothing to recommend them, nothing worth working on. Their conscience is numb, their mind is muddied, and they do not love the truth, nor yearn for righteousness deep in their heart, and, no matter how clearly or transparently God speaks of the truth, they do not respond, as if they were already dead. Are things not over for them? A person with a breath left in them may be saved by artificial respiration, but, if they have already died and their soul has left, artificial respiration will do nothing.
Excerpted from “Confused People Cannot Be Saved” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
In performing the duty to spread the gospel, you must fulfill your responsibility. How do you understand the term “responsibility”? How do you take that responsibility and accurately apply it in real situations? That is your obligation—to pass on your understanding of the gospel and what you have received of it from God to those to whom He wants you to spread it. So, how do you spread it? It is not something you do in your spare time, and it is not spread according to your own feelings or preferences, nor by changing the menu as you feel each guest merits. Rather, it is spread according to God’s requirements and the principles of God’s house—this is to put it broadly. To put it specifically, it is doing all you can to find every opportunity to share what you have received and what you understand with those whom you are meant to share it. What should you do as you undertake this? Fulfill your responsibility, do all you can, and do not hesitate to pay any price. What does it mean to do all you can? It means that even if you have only been spreading the gospel for a short while and do not have much experience, or you are not a great speaker, or you are uneducated, you have no reason or excuse for not gaining people. You must redouble your efforts in this endeavor, understand the circumstances of those with whom you share the gospel, and look for appropriate means to share the gospel with them. For example, look at what gospel targets understand, what their personality is like, whether they are fond of speaking, and whether they like lively conversation. If they do not like lively conversation, you must speak a little softer and more slowly with them; if their level of education is not high, and their ability to understand is lacking, then you need to speak very methodically, slowly and steadily, line by line, bit by bit; if they have some cultural knowledge and like to listen to more scholarly language, but your level of education is insufficient, then you should prepare some scholarly materials, or find someone educated to partner with in your discussions with them. If a gospel target has great knowledge of the Bible but you have not read the Bible a day in your life, what are you going to do? You must equip yourself and search in the Bible specifically for what the gospel target needs, for relevant prophecies in the Old Testament and relevant verses in the New Testament. When you do not have anything to do, you should read, take notes, or memorize verses. Additionally, you must contemplate how religious people understand these verses in the Bible, and how you can get to a point where you can help these people understand them accurately and purely, so that, later, you can connect with these verses and guide them to understand God’s work in the last days. This is what it is to do homework. You must understand what various types of people need, and then, based on those circumstances, do a bit of homework. This is doing all you can and fulfilling your responsibility. Some people might say, “I don’t need to do any of that; all I need to do is read the Bible a few times. I’ll just discuss it how I always do with everyone, and it’s up to them whether or not they believe. If they don’t, then they can’t gain anything, which wouldn’t be my fault, because after all, I’ve fulfilled my responsibility.” Has someone like this fulfilled their responsibility? If you spread the gospel without knowing the gospel target’s educational level, age, personality, interests, and so on, or if you don’t put in any effort or make any real attempt to do homework, then are you really fulfilling your responsibility? This is an attitude of merely muddling through and being irresponsible toward your duties; it is a perfunctory attitude. If you spread the gospel with such an attitude, fail to gain people, and then say it was because they did not understand spiritual matters—if you try to put the responsibility on them and claim you did nothing wrong—then your attitude is an irresponsible one. Such would clearly be a case of your not having done your homework, not having fulfilled your responsibility, and not performing your duties with devotion. However, you still come up with all kinds of excuses to prevaricate and say something to shirk your responsibilities, so what kind of behavior are you exhibiting? This is deception; irresponsibly talking nonsense and defining things indiscriminately are deception; these are acts of deceiving God. God gave you this duty; you should treat every gospel target with love and patience to the best of your abilities, endure any hardship necessary, do your work to the end with a sense of responsibility, and be able to give an account of all your actions to God. This is the attitude with which you should fulfill your duties. If you encounter a gospel target and you say to yourself, “I’m not in the mood. I don’t care how old they are or who they are, it’s not my business. Whether or not they believe isn’t up to me; if the Holy Spirit doesn’t work in them, then no amount of homework done by me can change anything, so I won’t bother putting in the effort. I only understand that much truth about spreading the gospel. They’ll believe if God works in them; they won’t believe if He doesn’t, and that would be unfortunate for them, but it would have nothing to do with me.” What kind of attitude is this? It is an irresponsible, hard-hearted attitude. There are many such people among the gospel-spreading teams. So, at what point can it be said that you have performed your duty adequately? When you do your homework in preparation for more than ninety-five percent of the gospel targets you encounter, and then perform your duty with love, patience, tolerance, and a sense of responsibility, then you have basically done your job adequately. The remaining five percent of gospel targets with special exceptions are not your responsibility. What kinds of exceptions are there? For example, sometimes people die of various causes before you can spread the gospel to them; this is one sort of exception. Another is for people who have recently experienced a change in their family situation, or who have just been married or gotten a promotion. In principle, they may be suitable gospel targets, but it might not be the right time for the gospel to reach them; as such, efforts to spread the gospel to them might have to be put on hold until a better time. What are some other exceptions? One example is that some people have spoken in tongues, and not simply for a few days or a few years, but over the long term, always, everywhere they go. Such people are evil spirits, and you cannot spread the gospel to them. Another type are those who superficially appear to be favorable targets, but then when you ask more specifically about them, you discover they have fornicated with twenty or thirty people. You cannot preach to such people, unless you can use them as service-doers with which to spread the gospel to many more people; in that case, you can. Another kind is someone whose humanity is too wicked, someone who seeks vengeance and harms others if offended. People like this are destined to be expelled, so you cannot preach to them. There are also cases such as minors who want to believe in God, but whose guardians have not allowed it. You cannot spread the gospel to those. You can try to spread it to them again once they come of age and are independent citizens. You might encounter all of these exceptions. If the objective conditions do not allow it, then spreading the gospel to them is not your responsibility.
Excerpted from “Spreading the Gospel Is the Duty to Which All Believers Are Honor-Bound” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Sermon and Fellowship Excerpts for Reference:
God performs the work of the last days by expressing the truth to judge and cleanse people. As such, only those who are of good humanity, who love the truth, and who are able to comprehend God’s words and accept the truth have hope of salvation. Therefore, one must preach to good people with relatively good humanity who admit deep down that there is a God, are able to seek the true way, and can accept the truth, whether or not they are religious types or unbelievers. One must not preach to people who do not meet these conditions. God’s house now stipulates that, when preaching the gospel, people must do so according to the principles of “five preach” and “eight never preach.” No one may violate these principles.
The specifics of the “five preach” principles are as follows:
1. Only preach to people who truly believe that there is a God within their hearts and are willing to seek and investigate the true way.
2. Regardless of a person’s line of work or level of education, they can be preached to as long as they possess relatively good humanity and can accept the truth.
3. No matter what religious group a person previously belonged to—and this includes people who believe in all kinds of superstitions or have even worshiped evil spirits or false gods—they can be preached to as long as they did not professionally manage the religious group and are not possessed by evil spirits, and they are willing to seek and investigate the true way.
4. With regard to famous people in society from various walks of life, they can be preached to as long as they acknowledge that there is a God, can accept the truth, and it is assured that their comprehension is not absurd and that they do not perform all manner of wickedness.
5. With regard to religious leaders, they can be preached to as long as they acknowledge the true way and accept the truth, their reputation is not too bad, they are not wicked, and they are not absurd or unable to understand spiritual matters.
The specifics of the “eight never preach” principles are as follows:
1. Never preach to people who do not believe there is a God and who, in their hearts, reject the idea of God.
2. Never preach to people with extremely poor humanity, who have bad reputations, who are capable of committing all sorts of wicked deeds, and who are evil people.
3. Never preach to people who have been possessed by evil spirits or who have the grave work of evil spirits.
4. Never preach to people who look ferocious, ugly, and strange, and who make you feel uneasy or even horrified.
5. Never preach to people who are evil and promiscuous.
6. Never preach to people with severe disabilities or those who are gravely ill.
7. Never preach to people of extremely low caliber who are of weak intellect and incapable of understanding God’s word the truth.
8. Never preach to people with suspicious behavior, similar to a spy’s or a scout’s.
God’s chosen people must strictly abide by the above “five preach” and “eight never preach” principles. Anyone who preaches to one of the eight types of people who must not be preached to is a person who disrupts and disturbs the gospel work. They will be regarded as someone who makes trouble out of nothing, a person who willfully misbehaves, and they must be given a warning. Such people must be stopped from fulfilling their duty if they do not repent. There can be flexibility in some special circumstances, and one must not adopt a “one rule fits all” approach. For instance, if a person is able to accept the truth but there is a suspicion that they fall into one of the “eight never preach” categories, they can be preached to as long as the following can be guaranteed: One, they are not possessed by demons; two, they are not a wicked person; and three, they are not a spy. If someone who can be preached to has some problems—perhaps they once spoke in tongues, or joined an evil spirit group, etc.—they can still be preached to if it can be guaranteed that they are at the very least able to contribute to spreading the gospel. If that person cannot contribute to spreading the gospel and might even cause damage or disruption, then they must certainly not be preached to. This is a special principle. Additionally, if a disabled person has a good reputation, and if it can be guaranteed that this person has good humanity, can accept the truth, and can contribute to spreading the gospel, then they can also be preached to. If an uncertain situation arises, the recommendations of the majority should be adopted through fellowship. In the past, churches everywhere were all constrained by certain rules in preaching the gospel, such as not preaching to people with birthmarks on their faces, people who have once contracted odd illnesses, people involved in pyramid schemes, people who have vitiligo, people with various kinds of disabilities, people who can see things with their eyes closed, people who have supernatural powers, people who can see strange phenomena, people who always have strange dreams, and so forth. All of this is wrong and absurd, and must be banned. A person can be preached to as long as they believe in their heart that there is a God, they have good humanity, can love the truth, accept the truth, is not a wicked person, is not possessed by demons, and is not someone who obviously has evil spirits working in them. This is the most elementary and simplest principle. Those who still cannot understand or grasp this are muddle-headed people.
Excerpted from Work Arrangements