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, 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 wish to perform your duty well, you must first understand the truth, and try harder to seek the truth. One crucial part of seeking the truth is learning how to ponder the words of God. The purpose of pondering God’s words is to understand the true meaning behind these words: Through seeking, you will come to know the meaning of God’s utterances, what He requires, and what His will in these words is—this is what it means to understand the reality of the truth. Once you understand the reality of the truth, you will be able to grasp the principles of practice, and so, too, will you attain entry into truth reality. In this way and without being aware of it, you will be enlightened in matters that you did not previously understand, you will gain new insights, and they will gradually become your reality.

Excerpted from “The Path Comes From Often Pondering the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks

If you wish to pursue the truth, if you wish to understand and gain the truth, then you must learn how to be quiet before God, how to ponder the truth, and how to ponder God’s words. Are there formalities to follow in order to ponder the truth? Are there any rules? Are there any time limitations? Do you have to do it in a certain place? No—God’s words can be pondered at any time or place. If you spent less time on your usual vacuous thoughts and flights of fancy, and used it to ponder the truth, how much time a day would not be wasted as a result? What do people do when they waste time? They spend all day chatting and gossiping, only doing what interests them, engaging only in frivolities, thinking only of the useless things of times gone by, and imagining what their future will hold, where the future kingdom will be, where hell is—are these not frivolities? If this time is spent on positive things—if you are quiet before God, spend more time pondering God’s words and fellowshiping the truth, reflect upon each of your actions, and hold them up before God for His scrutiny, and then look at whether there are any major issues that you have failed to realize or identify, looking in particular, at those critical areas where you are most rebellious to God, and searching for the corresponding words of God to solve them—then you will gradually enter truth reality.

What does pondering the words of God involve? It involves holding up the so-called spiritual terms and doctrines you so frequently utter, and the spiritual principles of practice you frequently believe to be correct, and pray-reading: “I’m clear about the theory of these spiritual phrases and terminology, I have a good understanding of their literal meaning, but what about their reality? How should I put them into practice?” That is how to ponder the words of God; start from this aspect. If, when they believe in God, people do not know how to ponder His words, they will have great difficulty entering and understanding the truth. If people are incapable of truly understanding the truth, are they able to enter truth reality? If they are unable to enter truth reality, can they gain the truth? If people cannot gain the truth, and cannot enter truth reality, can they satisfy God’s will? It would be very difficult. Take the oft-repeated words of “fear God and shun evil,” for example: You must contemplate these words, and say to yourself, “What is fearing God? If I say something wrong, is this fearing God or not? Is speaking thus doing evil, or doing good? Is it remembered by God? Is it condemned by God? What things are evil? Are my own ideas, motivations, thoughts, views, the impetus and origins behind the things I say and do, the various dispositions I reveal—are these considered evil? Which of them are approved of by God? Which are loathed by God? Which are condemned by God? In which matters is there a high chance of me making a grave mistake?” All of this is worthy of consideration. Do you regularly ponder the truth? How much time have you wasted? How many matters concerning the truth, concerning faith in God, concerning life entry, concerning fearing God and shunning evil, have you given thought to? When your pondering of God’s words or pondering of matters concerning faith in God and the truth bears fruit, you will have attained life entry. You still do not know how to ponder these things today, and you have not attained life entry. When someone has attained life entry, and is able to ponder God’s words, and contemplate issues, they have then begun to enter truth reality.

Excerpted from “The Path Comes From Often Pondering the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks

Whichever aspect of the truth reality 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

If people put no effort into the truth, then sooner or later they will fall, and they will struggle to stand firm. This is because when trials befall them, the solution will not lie in a few letters and doctrines. Letters and doctrines cannot solve real problems! You must have a clear understanding of each truth, regularly mulling them over, so that you understand them in your heart and know them inside out; only then will you know what to do when something happens to you. But can you gain these truths if you do not give them any deliberation? If you do not ponder them, then no matter how many you hear, or how much you can say about them, you will never get beyond their literal meaning. These literal meanings will often give you the illusion that your faith in God has already born fruit, and that your stature is very great, because you have passion and energy—but as soon as something happens to you, you will discover that these literal meanings cannot guarantee that you make it smoothly through each trial or test. People are often confused when something happens to them, thinking, “What should I do about this? I must hurry and search for the words of God and identify the various principles. Which aspect of the truth does this correspond to?” At such times you will realize that you have equipped yourself with too few truths, that you understand too few of the truth realities. People often only discover this when they are in need. When they are not, they always think that they have already equipped themselves with many truths, that they are brimming over with the truth. What do they brim over with? With letters and doctrines, with superficialities. They are wrong to feel that they are brimming over with the truth; when you feel that you are brimming over with the truth, you are in danger. But when you feel that you are nothing, that there is much that you do not understand, you will then be able to contemplate how to enter. If you always think you already possess the truth, that you are brimming over with it, that you have enough, that you know yourself, and love God, and can do everything for God, then this is a sign of danger. The more you think this, the more it proves that you understand nothing, that you are bereft of any truth realities. Think carefully about this. Learn how to ponder the truth; this is a very important part of the life of people who believe in God.

Excerpted from “The Path Comes From Often Pondering the Truth” 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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