5. The Principles of Knowing God’s Words
(1) When eating and drinking of God’s words, it is necessary to contemplate them in earnest, with a prayerful heart, and to seek the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit. Only thus can one gradually come to understand the truth;
(2) When reading God’s words, it is necessary to seek to understand His will and requirements, as well as the effects He means to achieve in speaking them. This is what it means to have true knowledge of God’s words;
(3) It is necessary to seek out the specificities of each aspect of the truth in God’s words and the entirety of their meaning. Only thus is the truth of God’s words easily understood;
(4) One must focus on putting God’s words into practice, and through practicing and experiencing them, gain the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. Only thus can one understand the essence and true meaning of the truth.
Relevant Words of God:
Knowing God must be achieved through reading and understanding God’s words. Some say: “I haven’t seen God incarnate, so how should I know God?” In fact, God’s words are an expression of His disposition. From God’s words, you can see His love and salvation for humans, as well as His method for saving them…. This is because His words are expressed by God Himself, not written by humans. They have been personally expressed by God; God Himself is expressing His own words and His inner voice. Why are they called words from the heart? It is because they are issued from deep down, and express His disposition, His will, His thoughts, His love for mankind, His salvation of mankind, and His expectations of mankind…. God’s utterances include harsh words, and gentle and considerate words, as well as some revelatory words that are not in line with human wishes. If you look only at the revelatory words, you might feel that God is rather stern. If you look only at the gentle words, you might feel that God is not very authoritative. You therefore should not take them out of context; rather, look at them from every angle. Sometimes God speaks from a gentle and compassionate perspective, and then people see His love for mankind; sometimes He speaks from a very strict perspective, and then people see the disposition of His that will tolerate no offense. Man is deplorably filthy, and is not worthy of seeing God’s face or of coming before Him. That people are now allowed to come before Him is purely by His grace. God’s wisdom can be seen from the way He works and in the significance of His work. People can still see these things in God’s words, even without any direct contact from Him. When someone who genuinely knows God comes into contact with Christ, his encounter with Christ can correspond with his existing knowledge of God; however, when someone who has only a theoretical understanding encounters God, he cannot see the correlation. This aspect of the truth is the most profound of mysteries; it is difficult to fathom. Sum up God’s words on the mystery of the incarnation, look at them from all angles, and then pray together, ponder, and fellowship further on this aspect of the truth. In doing so, you will be able to gain the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and come to understand. Because humans have no chance of having direct contact with God, they must rely on this kind of experience to feel their way through and enter a little bit at a time in order to attain true knowledge of God.
Excerpted from “How to Know God Incarnate” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Before man carries out the word of God, he must know the word of God; that is, he must understand God’s will. Only in this way can God’s word be carried out accurately and in accordance with God’s will. This is something that everyone who seeks the truth must possess, and it is also the process that everyone who tries to know God must undergo. The process of coming to know the word of God is the process of coming to know God and the work of God. So, knowing visions not only refers to knowing the humanity of God incarnate, but also includes knowing the word and the work of God. From the word of God people come to understand God’s will, and from the work of God they come to know God’s disposition and what God is.
Excerpted from “Only Those Who Know God Can Bear Testimony to God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Whether the words spoken by God be plain or profound in outward appearance, they are all truths indispensable to man as he enters into life; they are the fount of living waters that enables man to survive in both spirit and flesh. They provide what man needs to stay alive; the principles and creed for conducting his daily life; the path he must take to salvation, as well as its goal and direction; every truth that he should possess as a created being before God; and every truth about how man obeys and worships God. They are the guarantee that ensures man’s survival, they are man’s daily bread, and they are also the sturdy support that enables man to be strong and stand up. They are rich in the truth reality with which created mankind lives out normal humanity, rich in the truth by which mankind breaks free from corruption and eludes Satan’s snares, rich in the tireless teaching, exhortation, encouragement, and solace that the Creator gives to created humanity. They are the beacon that guides and enlightens men to understand all that is positive, the guarantee which ensures that men will live out and come into possession of all that is righteous and good, the criterion by which all people, events, and objects are measured, and also the navigation marker that leads men toward salvation and the path of light.
Excerpted from “Knowing God Is the Path to Fearing God and Shunning Evil” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
In pursuing life, you must pay attention to two things: first, understanding the truth within God’s words; second, understanding yourself within God’s words. These two things are most fundamental. There is no life or truth outside of God’s words. If you do not seek the truth within God’s words, where, then, can you go to seek it? Where is there truth in the world? All of the world’s books are compiled of the devil Satan’s theories, are they not? They do not contain even one iota of truth! The most important parts of understanding the truth in God’s words are understanding God within His words, understanding human life within His words, and understanding all aspects of the truth within His words, such as the true understanding of oneself and discovering the meaning of human existence within God’s words. All truth is within God’s words. You cannot enter into the truth unless it is done through the words of God. The main outcome you must attain is to know what it is to possess understanding and knowledge of God’s words. With a real understanding of God’s words, you can then understand the truth. This is the most fundamental thing.
Excerpted from “Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
If from God’s words you do not understand God’s will and the intentions behind His utterances, if you do not understand the aims and results that His words intend to achieve, if you do not understand what His words seek to accomplish and perfect in man, if you do not understand these things, then it proves that you do not yet comprehend the truth. Why does God say what He says? Why does He speak in that tone? Why is He so earnest and sincere in every word He speaks? Why does He choose to use certain words? Do you know? If you cannot say for sure, it means you do not understand God’s will or His intentions, you do not understand the context behind His words. If you do not comprehend this, then how can you gain the truth? Gaining the truth means understanding God’s meaning through every word that He says; it means you are able to put God’s words into practice once you have understood them, so that God’s words can be lived out by you and become your reality. Only when you have a thorough understanding of the word of God can you really grasp the truth.
Excerpted from “Only Those With Truth Reality Can Lead” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Coming to a genuine understanding 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. One part is understanding God’s words and seeking their specific content through reading them. Another part is understanding the implications of God’s words through experiencing them and obtaining enlightenment from the Holy Spirit. It is primarily by these two means that a true understanding of God’s words is achieved. If you interpret His words literally, or through the lens of your own thinking or imagination, then your understanding of God’s words is not real no matter how eloquently you can interpret them. You might even take their meaning out of context and misinterpret them, and doing so is even more troublesome. Thus, the truth is primarily obtained by receiving enlightenment from the Holy Spirit through gaining knowledge of God’s words. Understanding the literal meaning of His words, or being able to explain them, does not count as having gained the truth. If you only needed to interpret the literal meaning of His words, then what would be the point of the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment? In that case, you would only need to have a certain level of education, and the uneducated would all be in quite a predicament. God’s work is not something that can be comprehended by the human brain. A true understanding of God’s words relies mainly on having enlightenment from the Holy Spirit; such is the process of gaining the truth.
Excerpted from “How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Why is it said that God’s words are a beacon for people? It is because they are not spoken in vain; they are not some kind of theory or high-sounding words, nor are they some sort of argument. They are there for you to implement, to put into practice. When you encounter problems, and have no idea what to do and lack a path for practice, you think of what requirements are made by God’s words. After mulling His words over, you find a way forward and understand their meaning. Then, you can practice in accordance with His will. By practicing in this way, you gain confirmation, and discover that it brings you spiritual peace and enjoyment; this is edifying for others as well. In the process of putting God’s words into practice, you gain some enlightenment as well as some experience and learning; you are awakened to certain things. You come to realize what God means by saying these words and getting people to do things in a certain way. You locate the relevant principles of practice, and you come to know the origin and significance of God’s utterance of these words. This is understanding the truth. Once you have understood the truth, you will no longer be confused or find it difficult to get involved; you will have a path of practice. What is meant by having a path to put God’s words into practice? It means you comprehend the principles of practice behind them; you understand what states God is referring to, and you know how you should practice. God’s words may look simple to you, but in fact, they tell you how you should live, what you should do when you encounter an issue, and how you should resolve any difficulties you might come across. They are the truth. They can become your path, allowing you to approach issues with wisdom and principles, and have a path of practice. If you have a path to follow in performing your duty or in other matters, and if you have principles in how you handle things and know God’s will, then this shows that you understand the truth and that you understand His words.
Excerpted from “Having a Human Likeness Requires Fulfilling Your Duty Properly With All Your Heart, Mind, and Soul” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Have you discovered the laws of God’s words? Some people say this: “God’s every utterance contains all kinds of content and there is a different meaning to every passage and every sentence, which makes it hard for us to remember and difficult to understand. It is not even possible to summarize the general idea of a paragraph.” God’s word is beyond the reach of those of poor caliber. It is not a novel, nor is it some prose or a work of literature. It is the truth; it is the word that gives life to man. It is not something that can be understood by mulling it over in your mind, nor can its laws be summarized with a bit of extra effort. So no matter what aspect people have a little understanding of or have some sense of its rules, it can only be a one-sided understanding, only skin-deep, just one drop in the ocean, and it is basically incapable of reaching what God originally intended. Any article of God’s words will contain several aspects of the truth. For example, an article talking about the mystery of God’s incarnation will include the significance of the incarnation along with the work the incarnation does. And it will also contain how people should believe in God, and may perhaps also contain how people should understand and love God; it will include many aspects of the truth. If, according to your imagination, the significance of the incarnation contained only a few aspects and could be generalized in a few sentences, what outcome could God’s work on man then be able to achieve? People are made to understand the significance of the incarnation in order to make them understand God. After someone has understood God, they naturally have a heart that reveres God, and this now involves man’s practice. So no aspect of God’s words and no aspect of the truth is as simple as you imagine. If you regard the word of God and the divine language as simple, thinking that any question can be answered with a paragraph of God’s words, then that is not the truth. Every article contains many angles from which God’s words are spoken and there is no way for people to summarize or sum up His words. After you have summed up His words, you think a passage has answered a certain question, but this passage also relates to other questions. Every aspect of the truth contains many things. Why is it said that the truth is life, that it can provide enjoyment to man, that it cannot be experienced in its entirety even over several lifetimes or several hundred years? Say you were to sum up some aspect of the truth or some passage of God’s words, then the passage you summed up has become a formula, a rule and a doctrine, and is not the truth. Why? Because you misled people and brought them into doctrines, made them think, imagine, consider questions, and read that passage in accordance with your doctrines. They would then read it back and forth, seeing only one question and not seeing any other aspect. In the end they would be brought to a place where they cannot experience the truth and cannot experience the word of God, a place where they can only equip themselves with and discuss doctrines and yet lack understanding of God. All they could speak about would be pleasant-sounding and correct doctrines, but there would be no reality within them and they would have no path to walk on. This kind of leading really does grievous harm.
Excerpted from “Without the Truth, One Is Liable to Offend God” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Everyone experiences the truth, but each does so under different circumstances, and everyone gains something different. Yet even if their knowledge were combined, they would still be incapable of fully articulating a single truth. That is how profound the truth is! Why is it said that the things you have gained and your knowledge cannot stand for the truth? You fellowship your knowledge with others, and it only takes two or three days of contemplation before they have fully experienced it. But people can spend a whole lifetime and still not fully experience the truth; even if what each person experienced were combined, the truth would still not be fully experienced. It can therefore be seen that the truth is extraordinarily profound. The truth cannot be fully articulated with words. In the language of man, the truth is the true essence of mankind. Man will never be able to fully experience the truth. Man should live by the truth. One truth can sustain the whole of mankind’s existence for several thousand years.
The truth is the life of God Himself; it represents His disposition, His essence, and everything in Him. If you say that having a bit of experience means possessing the truth, then can you represent God’s disposition? You may have some experience or light regarding a certain aspect or side of a truth, but you cannot supply others with it forever, so this light you have gained is not truth; it is merely a certain point that people can reach. It is simply the proper experience and the proper understanding a person should possess: some actual experience and knowledge of the truth. This light, enlightenment, and experiential understanding can never substitute for the truth; even if all people had completely experienced this truth, and pooled together all of their experiential understanding, it still would not be able to take the place of that one truth. As has been said in the past, “I sum this up with a maxim for the human world: Among men, there is no one who loves Me.” This is a statement of truth; it is the true essence of life. This is the most profound of things; this is an expression of God Himself. You can keep on experiencing it, and if you experience it for three years you will have a superficial understanding of it; if you experience it for seven or eight years you will gain even more understanding of it—but any understanding you gain will never be able to substitute for that one statement of truth. Another person, after experiencing it for a couple of years, might gain a little understanding, and then a slightly more profound understanding after experiencing it for ten years, and then some further understanding after experiencing it for a lifetime—but if you both combine what understanding you have gained, even then—no matter how much understanding, how much experience, how many insights, how much light, or how many examples you both possess—all of that still cannot substitute for that one statement of truth. In other words, the life of man will always be the life of man, and no matter how much your understanding might accord with the truth, God’s intentions, and His requirements, it will never be able to be a substitute for the truth. To say that people have gained the truth means that they possess some reality, that they have gained some understanding of the truth, that they have attained some real entry to God’s words, that they have had some real experience with them, and that they are on the right track in their faith in God. Just one statement from God is enough for a person to experience for an entire lifetime; even if people were to experience it for several lifetimes or even several millennia, they still would not be able to completely and thoroughly experience a single truth. If people have merely understood a few superficial words, yet they claim to have gained the truth, would that not be complete and utter nonsense?
Excerpted from “Do You Know What the Truth Really Is?” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
God’s work and word are meant to cause a change in your disposition; His goal is not merely to make you understand or know His work and word. That is not enough. You are a person who has the ability to comprehend, so you should have no difficulty in understanding the word of God, because most of God’s word is written in human language, and He speaks very plainly. For instance, you are perfectly capable of learning what it is that God wants you to understand and practice; this is something that a normal person who has the faculty of comprehension should be able to do. In particular, the words that God is saying in the present stage are especially clear and transparent, and God is pointing out many things that people have not considered, as well as all manner of human states. His words are all-encompassing, and as clear as the light of a full moon. So now, people understand many issues, but there is still something missing—people putting His word into practice. People must experience all aspects of the truth in detail, and explore and seek it out in greater detail, rather than simply waiting to absorb whatever is made available to them; otherwise they become little more than parasites. They know God’s word, yet do not put it into practice. This kind of person does not love the truth and will ultimately be eliminated. To be like a Peter of the 1990s, this means that each one of you should practice the word of God, have true entry in your experiences and gain even more and even greater enlightenment in your cooperation with God, which will be of ever increasing assistance to your own life. If you have read a lot of God’s word but only understand the meaning of the text and lack direct knowledge of God’s word through your practical experiences, then you will not know God’s word. As far as you are concerned, God’s word is not life, but just lifeless letters. And if you only live in observance of lifeless letters, then you cannot grasp the essence of God’s word, nor will you understand His will. Only when you experience His word in your actual experiences will the spiritual meaning of God’s word open itself to you, and it is only through experience that you can grasp the spiritual meaning of many truths and unlock the mysteries of God’s word. If you do not put it into practice, then no matter how clear His word, all that you have grasped are empty letters and doctrines, which have become religious regulations to you. Is this not what the Pharisees did? If you practice and experience God’s word, it becomes practical to you; if you do not seek to practice it, then God’s word to you is little more than the legend of the third heaven. In fact, the process of believing in God is the process of you experiencing His word as well as being gained by Him, or to put it more clearly, to believe in God is to have the knowledge and understanding of His word and to experience and live out His word; such is the reality behind your belief in God. If you believe in God and hope for eternal life without seeking to practice the word of God as something you have within you, then you are foolish. This would be like going to a feast and only looking at the food and learning the delicious things by heart without actually tasting any of it. Would such a person not be a fool?
The truth that man needs to possess is found in the word of God, and it is a truth that is the most beneficial and helpful to mankind. It is the tonic and sustenance that your body needs, something that helps man restore his normal humanity. It is a truth that man should be equipped with. The more you practice God’s word, the more quickly your life will blossom, and the clearer the truth will become. As you grow in stature, you will see things of the spiritual world more clearly, and the more strength you will have to triumph over Satan. Much of the truth that you do not understand will be made clear when you practice the word of God. Most people are satisfied to merely understand the text of God’s word and focus on equipping themselves with doctrines rather than on deepening their experience in practice, but is that not the way of the Pharisees? So how can the phrase, “The word of God is life” be real for them? A person’s life cannot grow simply by reading God’s word, but only when the word of God is put into practice. If it is your belief that to understand God’s word is all that is needed to have life and stature, then your understanding is warped. Truly understanding God’s word occurs when you practice the truth, and you must understand that “only by practicing the truth can it ever be understood.” Today, after reading the word of God, you can merely say that you know God’s word, but you cannot say that you understand it. Some say that the only way to practice the truth is to understand it first, but this is only partially correct, and is certainly not entirely accurate. Before you have knowledge of a truth, you have not experienced that truth. Feeling that you understand something you hear in a sermon is not truly understanding—this is just taking possession of the literal words of the truth, and it is not the same as understanding the true meaning therein. Just having a superficial knowledge of the truth does not mean that you actually understand it or have knowledge about it; the true meaning of the truth comes from having experienced it. Therefore, only when you experience the truth can you understand it, and only then can you grasp the hidden parts of it. Deepening your experience is the only way to grasp the connotations, and to understand the essence of the truth.
Excerpted from “Once You Understand the Truth, You Should Put It Into Practice” in The Word Appears in the Flesh