3. The Principles of Contemplating God’s Words

(1) In reading God’s words, do not focus merely on understanding their literal meaning. One must seek to grasp God’s will and His requirements of man in His words;

(2) God’s words must be read in the context of human states and one’s own problems, for God’s words speak precisely to man’s corruption and deficiencies;

(3) It is necessary for one to stand firm in man’s station and contemplate God’s words from within a mindset of absolute submission to the Creator. Only thus can one gain God’s enlightenment;

(4) It is necessary to believe that God’s words are the truth, and to see clearly that man’s greatest deficiency, in essence, is that he does not have the truth. Only thus can one seek and accept the truth.

Relevant Words of God:

What is the word of God? It is the reality of all positive things; it is the truth, the way, and the life that God bestows on man. God’s words are not doctrines, slogans, or arguments, nor are they some sort of philosophy and learning. Rather, they have to do with man’s life and existence, with his behavior and disposition, with all that man reveals, and with the ideas and opinions that are conceived in man’s heart and exist in his mind. If your contemplation of God’s words is untethered from these things, and if you are untethered from them as you read His words and listen to sermons and fellowship, then what you can understand will be superficial and limited. You must learn how to contemplate God’s words. This is crucial. There are many ways to contemplate God’s words: You may read them silently and pray in your heart, seeking enlightenment and illumination from the Holy Spirit; you may also fellowship and pray-read in the company of those who pursue the truth; and, of course, you may integrate fellowships and sermons into your contemplation to deepen your understanding and appreciation of God’s words. The ways are many and varied. In short, if, in reading God’s words, one wishes to achieve an understanding of them and of the truth, then it is crucial to contemplate and pray-read God’s words. The purpose of pray-reading God’s words is not to be able to recite them, nor is it to commit them to memory; rather, it is to gain an accurate understanding of these words after having pray-read and contemplated them and to know the meaning of these words spoken by God, as well as His intention. It is to find therein the path on which one should practice, and to keep from turning to one’s own way. In addition, it is to be able to discern between all the various sorts of states and types of people revealed in God’s words, to be able to find the accurate path of practice with which to treat each type of person. At the same time, it is to avoid going astray and setting foot on the path that God abhors. Once you learn how to pray-read and how to contemplate God’s words, and do it often, only then can God’s words take root in your heart and become your life.

Excerpted from “For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance (11)” in Records of Christ’s Talks

If you want to do your duty well, then you must first understand the truth and put more of your heart into seeking the truth; a key point in practicing seeking the truth is that you must learn to contemplate God’s words. What is the aim of contemplating God’s words? It is to achieve an understanding of the true meaning of God’s words. And what does this mean, to understand the true meaning of God’s words? It is to seek for and to know what God means when He says these things, what His requirements are and what His will is within these words—it is understanding the reality of the truth. Once you understand the reality of the truth, you will grasp the principles of practice as well as enter into the reality of the truth. In this way, you will unconsciously be enlightened about things you did not previously understand, you will be granted new insights, and you will be enlightened on some things you see and experience so that they slowly become yours, for you to use.

Excerpted from “Only Through Frequent Contemplation of the Truth Can You Have a Way Forward” in Records of Christ’s Talks

If you want to seek the truth, understand the truth and attain the truth, then you must learn to quiet yourself before God, learn to contemplate the truth and contemplate God’s words. Learn to contemplate! When you learn to contemplate, do you need to go through any formality? Are there any rules? Any time restriction? (No.) What about any restriction on place? (No.) So we can say that one can contemplate the truth anytime, anywhere, right? (Right.) Then this is much easier, and you can contemplate the truth anytime, anywhere. That is, you can utilize all that time when you’ve nothing to do and when your heads are empty to contemplate the truth, and cut down on the time you spend thinking of this or that or thinking of useless things in your hearts and use that time to contemplate the truth. In this way, won’t you no longer be wasting most of the time in a day? What do people do when they are wasting their time? They engage in chit chat, or else their heads are empty, they are in a trance, or else their hearts think of useless things, thinking of their families, thinking of the people they used to know and thinking of the shadows of how they were before, thinking of when they used to live a glorious, prosperous life, and thinking of their own futures, thinking of what course the fate of their lives will follow, and thinking how they will be when they get old, thinking “What will become of me when my hair turns grey? Will my face be wrinkled? Will my face be bigger or smaller? What if I lose some of my teeth? Will I be humpbacked? Will I be lame?” Some people will think along more spiritual lines, “Where is the future kingdom? Where exactly is hell? Can I see my classmate who is not a believer?” Is this not boredom? Empty out this time of chit chat and boredom and quiet down, become quiet before God. Why quiet yourselves before God? (To contemplate God’s words.) Contemplate God’s words, pray-read them, examine your own doings at that particular time, bring them before God and ask Him to scrutinize them, and then see whether there are any big issues that you can become aware of or recognize. And if you discover a big issue, a fatal weakness, some part of you that is rebellious, then look up the corresponding words of God and see whether it can be resolved.

What does contemplating God’s words involve? Do you know? What it involves is actually very easy to decide, and it is that spiritual terminology and those spiritual doctrines you often say, and the spiritual principles of practice that you often take to be correct. So you take these things and pray-read, “I am very clear about all these spiritual terms or sayings theoretically and doctrinally, and I understand their literal meanings, so what are they in reality? How should I practice them?” You can contemplate in this way, beginning with these things. When someone believes in God, if they do not learn to contemplate then they will find it very difficult to enter into the truth and understand the truth. When someone isn’t able to achieve a genuine understanding of the truth, are they able to enter the reality of the truth? When someone isn’t able to enter the reality of the truth, are they able to attain the truth? When someone isn’t able to attain the truth, and not able to enter the reality of the truth, are they able to satisfy God’s will? (No.) This is very difficult to achieve. For example, the oft-mentioned “fear God and shun evil.” “What is meant by ‘fear God’? If I say something wrong, is this fearing God or is it not fearing God? Is speaking this way an evil deed or a good deed? Does God remember? Does God condemn it? Which things are evil?” So you must contemplate. “My own heart, mind, intentions, ideas, views, the motivation and origination of my speech and actions, and the various dispositions I reveal—are they considered evil? Which are worthy of God’s praise? Which does God detest? Which are condemned by God?” Is this worth contemplating? “In which matters is man able to easily make big mistakes?” All these are worth contemplating, right? Do you contemplate them, ordinarily? (I very seldom contemplate and spend a lot of time with an empty head, thinking of other things.) How old are you now? You are all twenty-something, not yet 30, right? (Right.) Not yet 30. So how many years has it been since you were able to ponder problems? (Twenty-odd years.) I mean pondering real things, the real things of adults, and having a mature way of thinking. It can’t be twenty-odd years, can it? You are only twenty-something, so for it to be twenty-odd years, could you have been pondering real things at four, five or six years old? (No, back then we weren’t able to ponder real things.) Then count from when you were 17 or 18—how many years is that? (10 years.) (Seven or eight years.) Seven or eight years up to 10 years, right? How much time have you wasted in those 10 years? How much have you thought about things to do with the truth, with believing in God, with life entry, and with fearing God and shunning evil? How many times have you thought about these things? Have they left any impression on you? (God, I think that out of those 10 years, eight have gone to waste.) Eight years have gone to waste, so what were you doing for those two years? Did you do anything of significance during those two years? (I thought of significant things during those two years.) What kind of things are significant to you? Can you give any examples? (Praying to God, and bringing my condition and corruption before God and using the truth to resolve them or dissect them. Figuring it out in this way, only two years in 10 was time where I genuinely experienced some entry. Most of the time I just did things, or thought of things of the flesh or things that had nothing to do with God.) So have you obtained anything in these two years? (Yes.) When you bear fruit in contemplating God’s words or things to do with believing in God or the truth, your life entry will begin, and you will have entered into life. You cannot contemplate right now, so you have no life entry. When someone has life entry, when they can contemplate God’s words and ponder problems, when they are able to contemplate, they will have begun their entry into the truth, and will have begun to enter the reality of the truth.

Excerpted from “Only Through Frequent Contemplation of the Truth Can You Have a Way Forward” in Records of Christ’s Talks

Whichever aspect of the reality of the truth you have heard, if you hold yourself up against it, implement these words in your own life, and incorporate them into your own practice, then you will definitely gain something, and you are bound to change. If you simply stuff these words into your belly and memorize them in your brain, then you will never change. Whilst listening to the sermons, you should ponder thusly: “What sort of state are these words referring to? What aspect of essence are they referring to? In what matters should I apply this aspect of the truth? Whenever I do something related to this aspect of the truth, am I practicing in accordance with it? And when I’m putting it into practice, is my state in keeping with these words? If not, then should I seek, fellowship, or wait?” Do you practice in this manner in your lives? If you do not, then your life is without God and without the truth. You live according to letters and doctrines or according to your own interests, confidence, and enthusiasm. Those who do not possess the truth as reality are those who have no reality, and people who do not have God’s words as their reality are people who have not entered His words.

Excerpted from “The Most Fundamental Practice of Being an Honest Person” in Records of Christ’s Talks

Coming to a genuine understanding of the actual meaning of God’s words is no simple matter. Do not think this way: “I can interpret the literal meaning of God’s words, and everyone says my interpretation is good, and gives me a thumbs-up, so this means I understand God’s words.” That is not the same as understanding God’s words. If you have gained some light from within God’s utterances, and you have gotten a sense of the true meaning of His words; and if you can express the intention behind His words and what effect they will ultimately achieve, then once you have a clear understanding of all of these things, you can be considered to have some level of understanding of God’s words. Thus, understanding God’s words is not all that simple. Just because you can give a flowery explanation of the literal meaning of God’s words does not mean you understand them. No matter how much you can explain their literal meaning, your explanation is still based on human imagination and way of thinking. It is useless! How can you understand God’s words? The key is to seek the truth from within them; only in that way can you truly understand what He says. Whenever God speaks, He certainly does not speak in mere generalities. Each sentence He utters contains details that are certain to be revealed further in God’s words, and they may be expressed differently. Man cannot fathom the ways in which God expresses the truth. God’s utterances are very profound and cannot be fathomed with human way of thinking. People can discover the entire meaning of every aspect of the truth as long as they make an effort; if you do this, then as you experience them, what details remain will be filled in completely as the Holy Spirit enlightens you, thus giving you an understanding of these concrete states.

Excerpted from “How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks

By comparison, Peter’s humanity was about the same as that of the other apostles and his brothers and sisters, but he stood out in his fervent pursuit of the truth; he pondered everything Jesus said in earnest. Jesus asked, “Simon Barjona, do you love Me?” Peter answered honestly, “I only love the Father who is in heaven, yet have not loved the Lord on earth.” Later he understood, thinking, “This is not right; the God on earth is the God in heaven. Is it not the same God both in heaven and on earth? If I only love God in heaven, then my love is not real; I must love God on earth, for only then will my love be real.” Thus, Peter came to understand the true meaning of what Jesus had said by pondering His words. To love God, and for this love to be real, one must love the incarnate God on earth. Loving a vague and invisible God is neither realistic nor practical, whereas loving the practical, visible God is truth. From Jesus’ words, Peter gained the truth and an understanding of God’s will. Clearly, Peter’s belief in God had only been focused on pursuing the truth; ultimately, he achieved a love of the practical God—the God on earth. Peter was especially earnest in his pursuit of the truth. Each time Jesus counseled him, he pondered Jesus’ words in earnest. Perhaps he pondered for months, a year, or even years before the Holy Spirit enlightened him and he understood the meaning of God’s words; in this way, Peter entered the truth, and afterward, his life disposition was transformed and renewed. If a person does not pursue the truth, he will never understand it. You can say the letters and doctrines ten thousand times, but they will still just be letters and doctrines. Some people just say, “Christ is the truth, the way, and the life.” Even if you repeat these words ten thousand times, it will still be useless; you have no understanding of its meaning. Why is it said that Christ is the truth, the way, and the life? Can you articulate the knowledge you have gained about this from experience? Have you entered the reality of the truth, the way, and the life? God has uttered His words so that you can experience them and gain knowledge; merely voicing letters and doctrines is useless. You can only know yourself once you have understood and entered God’s words. If you do not understand God’s words, then you cannot know yourself. You can only discern when you have the truth; without the truth, you cannot discern. You can only fully understand a matter when you have the truth; without the truth, you cannot understand a matter. You can only know yourself when you have the truth; without the truth, you cannot know yourself. Your disposition can only change when you have the truth; without the truth, your disposition cannot change. Only after you have the truth can you serve in accordance with God’s will; without the truth, you cannot serve in accordance with God’s will. Only after you have the truth can you worship God; without the truth, your worship will be nothing more than a performance of religious rites. All of these things hinge on gaining the truth from God’s words.

Excerpted from “How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks

When someone doesn’t make effort with the truth, sooner or later they will fall and they will find it hard to stand firm, for when reality hits, when trials befall, they will not be able to resolve them with one or two sentences of letters and doctrines. Letters and doctrines cannot resolve the difficulties of reality. So, you must understand in perfect clarity all items of the truth, regularly contemplate these matters clearly, understand them all in your heart, know how things stand, and only then will you know what you should do when things happen to you. Are you able to gain these truths, however, if you don’t contemplate these things? If you don’t contemplate these things, then no matter how much you hear of them or how much you can talk about them, your understanding will only ever be a literal understanding, and will not go beyond that. These literal things more often than not will give you a wrong impression, and you will think that your belief in God has already borne fruit and that your stature is greatly matured, because you are enthusiastic and energetic—they give you this wrong impression. And yet once reality hits, you then know that these things cannot ensure smooth sailing through every single trial, nor can they guarantee smooth sailing through every single test. People are often like this when things happen to them, saying: “Oh no, something has happened, what can I do? I must hurry and look for some words of God, check myself against them, and look for any principle that fits. What does this principle fit in with?” You then come to know that you possess too little of the truth and you understand too little of the reality of the truth, right? Only when you come to use it do you know you have too little of it, and when you don’t need to use it you always think you have lots, that you are overflowing with the truth. What is it that you are overflowing with? It is just a fraction of the superficiality of words. This feeling is incorrect, and you are in danger when you think you are overflowing with the truth; it is when you think you are nothing, and you understand very little that you will know how to gain entry. When you are always thinking that you have the truth, that you are filled with it, that you’re good enough, and that you know yourself, that you have love for God and that you can do anything for God—this is a signal of danger. The more you think like this, the more it proves you understand nothing and that you are not in possession of the reality of the truth. Contemplate these words! Learn to contemplate—this is important in the life of every believer in God.

Excerpted from “Only Through Frequent Contemplation of the Truth Can You Have a Way Forward” in Records of Christ’s Talks

Previous: 2. The Principles of Eating and Drinking of God’s Words

Next: 4. The Principles of Regarding God’s Words

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