36. The Principles of Following Christ
Relevant Words of God:
In the last days, Christ uses a variety of truths to teach man, to expose the essence of man, and to dissect the words and deeds of man. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the essence of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, the words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan, and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth of which man is utterly bereft. Only methods such as these can be called judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced into submission to God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God. What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt substance and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the substance of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him. This work is the work of judgment done by God. If you do not regard these truths as important, if you think of nothing but how to avoid them, or how to find a new way out that does not involve them, then I say you are a grievous sinner. If you have faith in God, yet seek not the truth or the will of God, nor love the way that brings you closer to God, then I say that you are one who is trying to evade judgment, and that you are a puppet and a traitor who flees from the great white throne. God will not spare any of the rebellious who escape from under His eyes. Such men shall receive even more severe punishment. Those who come before God to be judged, and have moreover been purified, shall forever live in the kingdom of God. Of course, this is something that belongs to the future.
Excerpted from “Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Christ of the last days brings life, and brings the enduring and everlasting way of truth. This truth is the path by which man gains life, and it is the only path by which man shall know God and be approved by God. If you do not seek the way of life provided by Christ of the last days, then you shall never gain the approval of Jesus, and shall never be qualified to enter the gate of the kingdom of heaven, for you are both a puppet and prisoner of history. Those who are controlled by regulations, by letters, and shackled by history will never be able to gain life nor gain the perpetual way of life. This is because all they have is turbid water which has been clung to for thousands of years instead of the water of life that flows from the throne. Those who are not supplied with the water of life will forever remain corpses, playthings of Satan, and sons of hell. How, then, can they behold God? If you only try to hold on to the past, only try to keep things as they are by standing still, and do not try to change the status quo and discard history, then will you not always be against God? The steps of God’s work are vast and mighty, like surging waves and rolling thunders—yet you sit passively awaiting destruction, clinging to your folly and doing nothing. In this way, how can you be considered someone who follows the footsteps of the Lamb? How can you justify the God that you hold on to as a God who is always new and never old? And how can the words of your yellowed books carry you across into a new age? How can they lead you to seek the steps of God’s work? And how can they take you up to heaven? What you hold in your hands are letters that can provide but temporary solace, not truths that are capable of giving life. The scriptures you read can only enrich your tongue and are not words of wisdom that can help you know human life, much less the paths that can lead you to perfection. Does this discrepancy not give you cause for reflection? Does it not make you realize the mysteries contained within? Are you capable of delivering yourself to heaven to meet God on your own? Without the coming of God, can you take yourself into heaven to enjoy family happiness with God? Are you still dreaming now? I suggest, then, that you stop dreaming and look at who is working now—look to see who is now carrying out the work of saving man during the last days. If you do not, you shall never gain the truth, and shall never gain life.
Excerpted from “Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Of principal importance in following God is that everything should be according to the words of God today: Whether you are pursuing entry into life or the fulfillment of God’s will, everything should be centered around the words of God today. If what you commune and pursue are not centered around the words of God today, then you are a stranger to the words of God, and totally bereft of the work of the Holy Spirit. What God wants are people who follow His footsteps. No matter how wonderful and pure what you understood before is, God does not want it, and if you are unable to put aside such things, then they will be a tremendous obstacle to your entry in the future. All those who are able to follow the present light of the Holy Spirit are blessed. The people of ages past also followed the footsteps of God, yet they could not follow until today; this is the blessing of the people of the last days. Those who can follow the present work of the Holy Spirit, and who are able to follow the footsteps of God, such that they follow God wherever He leads them—these are people who are blessed by God. Those who do not follow the present work of the Holy Spirit have not entered into the work of God’s words, and no matter how much they work, or how great their suffering, or how much they run about, none of it means anything to God, and He will not commend them. Today, all those who follow the present words of God are in the stream of the Holy Spirit; those who are strangers to the words of God today are outside of the stream of the Holy Spirit, and such people are not commended by God.
Excerpted from “Know God’s Newest Work and Follow His Footsteps” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Regardless of how numerous your notions and imaginings about God’s work are, and regardless of how you previously acted according to your own will and rebelled against God, if you truly pursue the truth, and accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, and accept being pruned and dealt with by God’s words; if, in everything He orchestrates, you are able to follow the way of God, obey God’s words, seek His will, practice in accordance with His words and His will, are able to seek to submit, and can put all your own will, desires, considerations, motivations, and antagonism to God aside—only then are you following God! You say you follow God, but all you do, you do according to your own will. In everything you do, you have your own aims, your own plans; you do not leave it up to God. Is God still your God, then? If God is not your God, then, when you say you follow God, are these not empty words? Are such words not an attempt to fool people? You say you follow God, but all your actions and behaviors, your outlook on life, your values, and the attitude and principles with which you approach and handle matters all come from Satan—you handle all this entirely in accordance with the principles and logic of Satan. So, do you follow God?
… The simplest way to describe belief in God is trusting there is a God, and, on this foundation, following Him, obeying Him, accepting His dominion, orchestrations, and arrangements, listening to His words, living in accordance with His words, doing everything according to His words, being a true created being, and fearing Him and shunning evil; only this is true belief in God. This is what it means to follow God. You say you follow God, but, in your heart, you do not accept God’s words, and you do not accept His dominion, orchestrations, and arrangements. If you always have notions of what God does, and you always misunderstand what He does, and complain about it; if you are always dissatisfied, and you always measure and approach what He does using your own notions and imaginings; if you always have your own understandings—this will cause trouble. You are not experiencing God’s work, and you have no way to follow Him truly. Such is not belief in God.
Excerpted from “Belief in Religion Will Never Lead to Salvation” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Peter followed Jesus for a number of years and saw much in Him that was not in other people. After following Him for a year, Peter was chosen by Jesus from among the twelve disciples. (Of course, Jesus did not speak this aloud, and others were not aware of it at all.) In life, Peter measured himself by everything Jesus did. Most notably, the messages that Jesus preached were etched in his heart. He was utterly dedicated and loyal to Jesus, and he never spoke any grievances against Him. As a result, he became Jesus’ faithful companion everywhere He went. Peter observed Jesus’ teachings, His gentle words, what He took for His food, His clothing, His shelter, and how He traveled. He emulated Jesus in every regard. He was never self-righteous, but cast off all that was outdated, following Jesus’ example in both word and deed. It was then that Peter felt that the heavens and earth and all things were in the hands of the Almighty and that, for this reason, he was without personal choice. Peter also assimilated all that Jesus was and used it as an example. Jesus’ life shows that He was not self-righteous in what He did; instead of bragging about Himself, He moved people with love. Various things showed what Jesus was, and for this reason, Peter emulated everything about Him. Peter’s experiences gave him an increasing sense of the loveliness of Jesus, and he said such things as, “I have searched for the Almighty throughout the universe, and I have seen the wonders of the heavens and earth and all things, and I thus have gained a profound sense of the Almighty’s loveliness. However, I had never had genuine love in my own heart, and I had never seen the loveliness of the Almighty with my own eyes. Today, in the eyes of the Almighty, I have been looked upon with favor by Him, and I have finally felt God’s loveliness. I have finally discovered that it is not just God’s having created all things that makes humanity love Him; in my daily life, I have found His boundless loveliness. How could it possibly be limited to what can be seen right now?” As time passed, much that was lovely also emerged in Peter. He grew very obedient to Jesus, and of course, he also suffered quite a few setbacks. When Jesus took him to preach at various locations, Peter always humbled himself and listened to Jesus’ sermons. He never became arrogant because of his years of following Jesus. After being told by Jesus that the reason He had come was to be crucified so that He could finish His work, Peter often felt anguish in his heart and would weep alone in secret. Nevertheless, that “unfortunate” day finally arrived. After Jesus was arrested, Peter wept alone in his fishing boat and said many prayers for this. But in his heart, he knew that this was the will of God the Father, and that no one was able to change it. He remained anguished and teary-eyed only because of his love. This is a human weakness, of course. Thus, when he learned that Jesus would be nailed to the cross, he asked Jesus, “After You leave, will You return to be among us and watch over us? Will we still be able to see You?” Although these words were very naive and full of human notions, Jesus knew the bitterness of Peter’s suffering, so through His love He was considerate of Peter’s weakness: “Peter, I have loved you. Do you know that? Although there is no reason behind what you say, the Father has promised that after My resurrection, I will appear to people for 40 days. Do you not believe that My Spirit will frequently bestow grace upon you all?” Though Peter felt somewhat comforted by this, he still felt that there was one thing missing, and so, after being resurrected, Jesus appeared to him openly for the first time. In order to prevent Peter from continuing to cling to his notions, however, Jesus declined the lavish meal that Peter had prepared for Him, and disappeared in the blink of an eye. From that moment on, Peter finally had a deeper understanding of the Lord Jesus and loved Him even more. After His resurrection, Jesus frequently appeared to Peter. He appeared to Peter three more times after the forty days were up and He had ascended to heaven. Each appearance was right when the work of the Holy Spirit was about to be completed and new work was about to be begun.
Throughout his life, Peter fished for a living but, more than that, he lived to preach. In his later years, he wrote the first and second epistles of Peter, as well as several letters to the church of Philadelphia of that time. The people of this period were profoundly touched by him. Instead of lecturing people using his own credentials, he provided them with a suitable supply of life. He never forgot Jesus’ teachings before He left, and was inspired by them throughout his life. While following Jesus, he resolved to repay the Lord’s love with his death and to follow His example in all things. Jesus agreed to this, so when Peter was 53 years old (more than 20 years after Jesus’ departure), Jesus appeared to him to help fulfill his aspiration. In the seven years following that, Peter spent his life getting to know himself. One day, at the end of these seven years, he was crucified upside down, thus bringing his extraordinary life to an end.
Excerpted from “On the Life of Peter” of Interpretations of the Mysteries of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh
When you have experienced up to a certain day, you will feel that the more normal God’s incarnation, humanity, all that He has and what He reveals, the greater our salvation, and the more normal they are, the more they are what we need. If God’s incarnation were supernatural, then even though we on earth may have been chosen and saved by God, not one of us would be able to attain full salvation. It is precisely because of God’s humility and hiddenness, because of the normality and practicality of this seemingly unremarkable God, that mankind has the chance of salvation. Because in people there is disobedience and the substance of corrupt satanic dispositions, all kinds of notions, misunderstandings, and antagonism toward God are produced; it is even the case that, as a result of these notions, people often proudly or self-confidently deny this Christ, and deny His normal humanity—this is a big mistake. If you wish to attain full salvation, if you wish to receive God’s salvation, and the judgment and chastisement of God, you must first put aside your various notions and erroneous definitions about Christ and His normal humanity, you must put aside your various insights and opinions about Christ, and you must think of a way to accept all that comes from Him. Only then will the words He speaks and the truths He expresses gradually find entry into your heart and become your life. If you wish to follow Him, you should accept all that is associated with Him; you ought not to stand against Him, using your notions to always misunderstand Him, and you ought not to cling to your own notions and constantly misunderstand and doubt Him, or even resist and oppose Him. With such an attitude, you can only hurt yourself; it is not of the slightest benefit to you.
Excerpted from “Only by Resolving One’s Notions Can One Enter the Right Track of Believing in God (1)” in Records of Christ’s Talks
In your words and behavior are revealed elements of your unbelief in Christ. Unbelief pervades the motives and objectives of all you do. Even the character of your gaze contains the unbelief in Christ. It can be said that minute by minute, each of you harbors the elements of unbelief. This means that, at every moment, you are in danger of betraying Christ, for the blood that runs through your body is infused with unbelief in the incarnate God. Therefore, I say that the footprints you leave on the path of faith in God are not real; as you walk the path of faith in God, you do not plant your feet firmly upon the ground—you are merely going through the motions. You never fully believe the word of Christ and are incapable of immediately putting it into practice. This is the reason you do not have faith in Christ. Always having notions about Him is another reason you do not have faith in Him. Forever being skeptical about the work of Christ, letting the word of Christ fall on deaf ears, having an opinion on whatever work is done by Christ and not being able to correctly understand this work, struggling to put aside your notions no matter what explanation you receive, and so on—these are all the elements of unbelief mingled within your hearts. Though you follow the work of Christ and never fall behind, there is too much rebellion mixed in your hearts. This rebellion is an impurity in your belief in God. Perhaps you do not think this is the case, but if you are incapable of recognizing your intentions from within this, then you are bound to be among those who perish, for God perfects only those who truly believe in Him, not those who are skeptical of Him, and least of all those who reluctantly follow Him despite never having believed that He is God.
Some people do not rejoice in the truth, much less judgment. Instead, they rejoice in power and riches; such people are called power seekers. They search only for those denominations in the world with influence, and they search only for pastors and teachers that come from seminaries. Though they have accepted the way of truth, they are only half-believing; they are incapable of giving all of their hearts and minds, their mouths speak of expending themselves for God, but their eyes are focused on the great pastors and teachers, and they do not spare Christ a second glance. Their hearts are fixated upon fame, fortune, and glory. They think it out of the question that such a meager person could be capable of conquering so many, that one so unremarkable could perfect man. They think it out of the question that these nobodies among the dust and dunghills are the people chosen by God. They believe that if such people were the objects of God’s salvation, then heaven and earth would be turned upside down, and all people would laugh themselves silly. They believe that if God chose such nobodies to be perfected, then those great men would become God Himself. Their perspectives are tainted with unbelief; more than not believing, they are simply preposterous beasts. For they value only status, prestige, and power, and they esteem only large groups and denominations. They have not the slightest regard for those led by Christ; they are simply traitors who have turned their backs on Christ, on truth, and on life.
What you admire is not the humility of Christ, but those false shepherds of prominent standing. You do not adore the loveliness or wisdom of Christ, but those libertines who wallow in the filth of the world. You laugh at the pain of Christ who has no place to lay His head, but you admire those corpses that hunt for offerings and live in debauchery. You are not willing to suffer alongside Christ, but you gladly throw yourself into the arms of those reckless antichrists, though they only supply you with flesh, words, and control. Even now, your heart still turns toward them, toward their reputation, toward their status, toward their influence. And yet you continue to hold an attitude whereby you find the work of Christ hard to swallow and you are unwilling to accept it. This is why I say that you lack the faith to acknowledge Christ. The reason you have followed Him to this day is only because you had no other option. A series of lofty images are forever towering in your heart; you cannot forget their every word and deed, nor their influential words and hands. They are, in your heart, forever supreme and forever heroes. But this is not so for the Christ of today. He is forever insignificant in your heart, and forever undeserving of reverence. For He is far too ordinary, has far too little influence, and is far from lofty.
In any case, I say that all those who do not value the truth are nonbelievers and traitors to the truth. Such men shall never receive the approval of Christ. Have you now identified how much unbelief is within you, and how much betrayal of Christ you have? I exhort you thus: Since you have chosen the way of truth, then you should devote yourself wholeheartedly; do not be ambivalent or half-hearted. You should understand that God does not belong to the world nor any one person, but to all those who truly believe in Him, all those who worship Him, and all those who are devoted and faithful to Him.
Excerpted from “Are You a True Believer in God?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
You long for God to delight in you, yet you are far from God. What is the matter here? You accept only His words, but not His dealing or His pruning, much less are you able to accept His every arrangement, to have complete faith in Him. What, then, is the matter here? In the final analysis, your faith is an empty eggshell, one that could never produce a chick. For your faith has not brought you the truth or given you the life, but has instead given you an illusory sense of sustenance and hope. It is this sense of sustenance and hope that is your aim in believing in God, not the truth and the life. Thus do I say that the course of your faith in God has been none other than trying to curry the favor of God through servility and shamelessness, and can in no way be deemed true faith. How could a chick be born of faith such as this? In other words, what can faith such as this accomplish? The purpose of your faith in God is to use Him to achieve your own aims. Is this not further a fact of your offense against the disposition of God? You believe in the existence of the God in heaven and deny that of the God on earth, yet I do not recognize your views; I commend only those people who keep their feet on the ground and serve the God on earth, but never those who never acknowledge the Christ who is on earth. No matter how loyal such people are to the God in heaven, in the end they will not escape My hand that punishes the wicked. These people are the wicked; they are the evil ones who oppose God and have never gladly obeyed Christ. Of course, their number includes all those who do not know and, further, do not acknowledge Christ. Do you believe that you can act as you please toward Christ as long as you are loyal to the God in heaven? Wrong! Your ignorance of Christ is ignorance of the God in heaven. No matter how loyal you are to the God in heaven, it is merely empty talk and pretense, for the God on earth is not only instrumental in man receiving the truth and more profound knowledge, but more than that is instrumental in the condemnation of man and afterward in seizing the facts to punish the wicked. Have you understood the beneficial and harmful outcomes here? Have you experienced them? I wish for you one day soon to understand this truth: To know God, you must know not only the God in heaven but, even more importantly, the God on earth. Do not get your priorities confused or allow the secondary to supersede the principal. Only in this way can you truly build a good relationship with God, become closer to God, and bring your heart closer to Him. If you have been of the faith for many years and have long associated with Me, yet remain distant from Me, then I say it must be that you often offend the disposition of God, and your end will be very difficult to reckon. If the many years of association with Me have not only failed to change you into a person possessed of humanity and the truth, but, moreover, have ingrained your evil ways into your nature, and you not only have twice as much arrogance as before, but your misunderstandings of Me have also multiplied, such that you come to regard Me as your little sidekick, then I say that your affliction is no longer skin deep but has penetrated to your very bones. All that remains is for you to wait for your funeral arrangements to be made. You need not beseech Me then to be your God, for you have committed a sin deserving of death, an unforgivable sin. Even if I could have mercy on you, the God in heaven will insist on taking your life, for your offense against the disposition of God is no ordinary problem, but one of a very grave nature. When the time comes, do not blame Me for not telling you beforehand. It all comes back to this: When you associate with Christ—the God on earth—as an ordinary person, that is, when you believe that this God is nothing but a person, it is then that you shall perish. This is My only admonishment to you all.
Excerpted from “How to Know the God on Earth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Those who wish to gain life without relying on the truth spoken by Christ are the most ridiculous people on earth, and those who do not accept the way of life brought by Christ are lost in fantasy. And so I say that those who do not accept Christ of the last days shall forever be despised by God. Christ is man’s gateway to the kingdom during the last days, and there are none who can go around Him. None may be perfected by God except through Christ. You believe in God, and so you must accept His words and obey His way. You cannot only think of gaining blessings while being incapable of receiving the truth and incapable of accepting the provision of life. Christ comes during the last days so that all those who truly believe in Him may be provided with life. His work is for the sake of concluding the old age and entering the new one, and His work is the path that must be taken by all those who would enter the new age. If you are incapable of acknowledging Him, and instead condemn, blaspheme, or even persecute Him, then you are bound to burn for eternity and shall never enter the kingdom of God. For this Christ is Himself the expression of the Holy Spirit, the expression of God, the One whom God has entrusted to do His work on earth. And so I say that if you cannot accept all that is done by Christ of the last days, then you blaspheme the Holy Spirit. The retribution to be had by those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit is self-evident to all. I also tell you that if you resist Christ of the last days, if you spurn Christ of the last days, there will be no one else to bear the consequences on your behalf. Furthermore, from this day onward you will not have another chance to gain the approval of God; even if you try to redeem yourself, you will never again behold the face of God. For what you resist is not a man, what you spurn is not some puny being, but Christ. Do you know what the consequences of this will be? You will not have made a small mistake, but committed a heinous crime. And so I advise everyone not to bare your fangs before the truth, or make careless criticisms, for only the truth can bring you life, and nothing except the truth can allow you to be reborn and behold the face of God again.
Excerpted from “Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh