Principles of Practice for Church Life
1. Church Meetings Must Always Be for Eating, Drinking and Enjoying God’s Words
All people who accept the judgment and chastisement work of Almighty God should eat, drink, and enjoy all of Almighty God’s words. This is the unalterable duty of God’s created beings, something no one can interfere with. One can only be saved by eating, drinking, and enjoying Almighty God’s words, obeying all of God’s work, and accepting all truths expressed by God. That’s why church life only permits eating, drinking and enjoying God’s words, and prohibits reading texts outside of God’s words. This is the first principle of church life, and it must not be altered by anyone. If any church leader at different levels violates this principle in their work and insists on reading texts outside of God’s words, then they have betrayed God’s will and are someone who resists and forsakes God. Regardless of the local circumstances of the church, meetings must always be for eating, drinking and enjoying God’s words. Eating and drinking the words of Almighty God must always be the heart of meetings at any time. That is, the main focus must be on eating and drinking God’s words that are in The Word Appears in the Flesh. Man’s preachings should only be spare-time reading, and learning hymns at meetings also shouldn’t take up the time of enjoying God’s words. If, during meetings, a person reads the Bible or any texts that analyze the Bible, or other spiritual books, then that is completely deviating from the current work of the Holy Spirit. If someone leads others to fellowship about man’s preachings and communications, that is also betraying God’s will. Anyone in the church has the right to restrict this from happening. The Bible and other spiritual texts of religion are already outdated and should only be regarded as spare-time reading. Bringing them into meetings to read is disrupting God’s work, is resisting and betraying God, and must be strictly restricted. If someone insists on reading the Bible or spiritual texts at meetings, then that proves they resist God and disrupt God’s work, and are surely antichrists. God’s chosen people must reject such a person and remove them. All meetings of Almighty God’s believers must be for eating, drinking and enjoying the words of Almighty God—this is an administrative decree of the church that can’t be changed by anyone.
2. Principles for Selecting Passages of God’s Words for Meetings
Reading God’s words is for understanding the truth and knowing God, and optimal results will not be achieved if this is not done in a principled manner. God’s words are tremendously abundant and contain very many truths, so we must grasp what is fundamental and crucial. The most important thing is to gather the threads of the truth that must be entered into in accordance with God’s requirements of mankind in order for believers to be saved. Only by understanding and entering these truths one by one can we achieve all of God’s requirements of mankind and truly satisfy God’s will. How to read God’s words at meetings is a key issue. If the selected category is not suitable, or is not fundamental or crucial, this will also delay the life growth of God’s chosen people. All churches need to summarize their experiences and learn from them; how to eat and drink God’s words effectively and to make growth in life progress faster depends on the extent to which the church leaders understand God’s will. If they truly bear a burden for the life entry of God’s chosen people, they will surely put in more effort to resolve these issues. If leaders don’t bear a burden, they will act carelessly and perfunctorily. This way, their leadership won’t be able to bring out any good results and will eventually harm the brothers and sisters. Reading God’s words mainly requires having a grasp of the following two aspects:
First, reading God’s words requires paying attention to the truths of knowing God’s work, which are the truths relating to the visions that we used to often talk about. For instance: The question of why God became incarnated to carry out His work concerns the truth relating to the meaning of God’s incarnation; the question of why God incarnated in China to perform this stage of His conquering work is another aspect of the truth; the question of why God judges and chastises people to achieve His aim of saving them is another aspect of the truth; and the question of why what people experience during this stage of God’s work is all suffering and refinement also involves the truths. Apart from these truths, we should also moreover understand the truths about how God perfects people, why God uses the method of conquering mankind to save people, why He uses suffering and refinement to perfect people, and why people must endure a lot of suffering in order to be qualified to enjoy true blessings. Knowing God’s work incorporates so many aspects of the truth. If a person believes in God but does not understand these truths, it will not be easy for them to follow God to the end or produce good testimonies. Most people have not yet established firm foundations, and so must first lay a solid foundation on the truth of vision. This is extremely important for a person to enter onto the right track of believing in God.
Reading God’s words also requires paying attention to the aspect of the truth on life entry and paying special attention to all of God’s words that expose mankind’s corrupt nature. If a person cannot recognize their own corrupt nature, doesn’t know how deeply corrupted they are, and doesn’t understand the reality of their pitiable corruption, then how can they resolve their arrogant and conceited corrupt disposition? How can they live with reason before God? If a person doesn’t truly know themselves, they will never achieve changes in their life disposition. This is why we must pay special attention to reading all of God’s words that expose mankind’s nature. This is a necessity. Only by thoroughly reading God’s words that expose mankind’s corrupt nature can a person truly be conquered and know themselves. Perhaps some people will say: “All of God’s words are important, so we should read the passages one by one in sequence.” I don’t oppose this kind of statement because all of God’s words are the truth and important to people, but the starting point of entry and how to lay foundations is an issue that must be made clear. There is an order of priority in people’s life entry. If a person cannot grasp how to read God’s words in order to understand the truth, they won’t be able to enter reality and meet God’s requirements. Why does God require people to coordinate with His work? Why does He arrange for some people to be leaders? If things were as easy as people think, then there would be no need for leaders and all everybody has to do would be to take a book of God’s words home to read. Some churches might really read the passages one by one in sequence, but I consider this method to not be very appropriate. The results will be even better if we read a selection of God’s words at meetings based on our current needs. Believing in God first requires understanding visions—this is most fundamental. If a person is not clear on the truth of vision, then the foundations of their belief in God won’t be firm and may crumble at any time. Understanding the truth of vision can help to develop true faith, as well as knowledge of oneself—that’s the start to life entry. Furthermore, if a person is not clear on the truth of vision, it will be very easy for them to be passive and weak. This is an undeniable fact. The laying of foundations must begin with understanding the truth of vision, and the achieving of change of life disposition must begin with understanding oneself. Therefore, the first and most important thing to reading God’s words at meetings is to understand the truth of God’s incarnation and know the difference between God’s work and man’s work in order to have certainty about the practical God. This is most fundamental, and only after this should one study the truth of the life entry.
Choosing selections of God’s words for meetings must be based on the actual statures of the majority of brothers and sisters. We must select passages of God’s words that brothers and sisters can reach and are easier for them to understand so that we can achieve good results. The more profound passages of God’s words, which are the passages that the majority of people cannot comprehend, can only be provided for them to read in their spare time. If someone who waters the church comes to lead them in the readings of God’s words, then slightly more profound passages can be selected for eating and drinking. For example, the passage “The Sighing of the Almighty” is not understood by most people, and even higher-caliber people need to read it a few times to just understand a bit of it. This passage of God’s words needs to be experienced and enjoyed over a long period of time to achieve results. Everybody is currently at the newborn baby stage and can’t yet eat solids. That’s why being selective in reading God’s words is very important. Being selective in reading God’s words is predominantly about choosing God’s words in the gospel book. People can enjoy the rest of God’s words in their spare time. Practicing in this way will achieve better results.
3. Principles for Communicating God’s Words at Meetings
Church life requires eating and drinking God’s words. This is something that must never change. Eating and drinking God’s words also requires communicating God’s words. You must fellowship after reading God’s words in order to understand them. Simply reading God’s words without communicating about them certainly won’t do, and communicating about other things after reading God’s words is even more out of the question. Communicating God’s words also has several principles that must be abided by:
Firstly, prior to communicating God’s words, you must contemplate the substance of God’s words, figure out what the words are getting at, understand their true meaning, and try to fathom why God would say such words and what effects they are trying to achieve. Regardless of what He says, God’s intentions and requirements are in His words. This is the main point that must be communicated. God’s chosen people must search for God’s intentions in His every word, and understand what He requires of man and the truths man ought to be equipped with. Communicating in this way is of benefit to both you and others. If you do not carefully contemplate God’s words after reading them and simply brush them off by speaking only of literal meaning, you will never understand the truth. Reading God’s words does not have much meaning if you are merely following forms and procedures.
Secondly, there are many truths contained in God’s words. Each line of God’s words involves many aspects of the truth, which cannot be explained thoroughly through literal meaning. Man cannot take God’s words lightly. If you see them as too simple, that would be too foolish and ignorant. Even the simplest line of God’s words cannot be experienced in its entirety over a lifetime. This is because all that expressed in God’s words is the truth, the reality of positive things, and cannot be fully attained or entered into too deeply by man. One will never be able to understand God’s words if they do not have an obedient attitude. You must therefore fear God and be godly when you communicate God’s words.
Thirdly, you must communicate only as much of God’s words you understand. Do not pretend to understand when you don’t and speak carelessly about letters and doctrines. Only communicate your knowledge and understanding of God’s words. Do not talk about things unrelated to the truth as you are just wasting other people’s time. For everybody’s benefit, it is best for each person to only speak for 5 minutes or so and no more than around 10 minutes. If they cannot finish in one go then split it up into two or three times so that everyone can have the opportunity to speak; one person cannot take up too much time. You can also interrupt those who especially like to talk if they get off topic, so they learn how to be more sensible and respect others. Practicing in this way benefits everybody.
Fourthly, there is another principle for communicating God’s words, and that is, one can communicate about conditions that most people have and problems existing in the church. This type of communication is legitimate, but you must not have intentions of attacking or belittling other people. No matter who you are, if you possess these conditions you should face it properly and humbly accept it. You must not be arrogant and conceited, intolerable to other opinions, or use your position to pressure others, forbidding them to talk or restricting their communication of the truth. The process of communicating the truth is also the process of exposing people’s corrupt nature. Those who genuinely accept the truth will be able to face themselves correctly when it comes to such things and have no difficulties whatsoever. Eating and drinking God’s words will not have much of an effect if you don’t dare to communicate God’s words at meetings or join with the reality because you are scared to offend people or lose face. People who are sincerely willing to accept the truth should join with their conditions and communicate their knowledge of God’s words in a simple and open manner. Only by communicating God’s words in this way is it easy to understand the truth and achieve results. Everyone can communicate about special problems that surface in the church and express their own views, and it must be based on God’s words and they must stand on the side of the truth. Such communication can shame Satan even more and achieve real results. Church leaders, deacons, and all people who pursue the truth must have a grasp of the principles of communicating God’s words and stand by God’s side when things happen. Only by doing so will church life become better and better, and will people be able to break through the dominion of mankind’s philosophies of life and the constraints of the aura of death to achieve a state of release and freedom. If there aren’t people in the church who are of one heart and mind, but are instead all controlled by philosophies of life, have their own petty cleverness and shrewdness, and are unprincipled because they fear offending people, then church life won’t be good and communicating God’s words won’t achieve good results. While eating, drinking, and communicating God’s words, one must also practice forsaking the flesh and practice the truth. Only by eating, drinking, and communicating God’s words in this way can one enter God’s words. If a person only communicates but doesn’t practice, or understands God’s words but doesn’t contemplate how to enter and practice them, then that proves they are not someone who loves the truth. People who love the truth will surely have some growth and change after experiencing church life for a period of time. If a person hasn’t experienced any growth or change after one or two years of church life, then it is sufficient to prove that they are not someone who pursues the truth. Now is the perfect opportunity for mankind to eat and drink God’s words and pursue the truth. We must all make the most of this chance and get church life right. We must strive in these few years to understand the ten aspects of the truth and enter into the reality of God’s words.
All of God’s chosen people should pay attention to understanding the truth and entering into reality, and must not confuse people by talking about religious letters and doctrines. If someone keeps talking about letters and doctrines non-stop and takes up time during meetings, then people in the church should all prevent that person from doing so. If the person is not dissuaded, and continues to cause trouble or show off, then they should be stopped from attending meetings and made to reflect on their actions and conduct. All those who prevent people from reading God’s words, or disrupt people from reading God’s words and communicating the truth at meetings, and all those who like to talk a lot at meetings and take up too much time, are all disruptors who must be restricted. In particular, people whose minds are not clear and don’t have enlightenment from the Holy Spirit, yet still like to talk a lot, must be restricted even more and may be segregated if they remain incorrigible. Talking during meetings should be limited to communicating God’s words and the light revealed by the Holy Spirit. Communication that is off-topic or not of benefit to people—that is, the type of communication despised by most people—must be banned. If a person can’t give up their erroneous way of communication and does not talk about the right topics, then they should not open their mouth. If a particular church does not congregate to eat and drink God’s words and only chats about trivial things when they meet, then such meetings should also be prohibited. Only when everyone has completed a period of self-reflection can meetings be held again. As for people who like to sleep during meetings, they should be stopped from attending unless they can control themselves.
Church life must be strictly managed. There must be close cooperation between several people who pursue the truth and whose understanding is pure in order for there to be good church life. If there are a few people in the church who pursue the truth and work together in eating and drinking God’s words and communicating the truth—and also a few others to maintain the church life—then the church life will achieve results and everyone will benefit from associating with it. This is highly beneficial to the life entry of God’s chosen people. If a church does not have a few people who genuinely pursue the truth, then it will not be able to have a true church life. That’s an undeniable fact.
4. Ways of Church Life and Specific Details
The eating and drinking of God’s words at meetings must be arranged according to the amount of time people have believed in God and the need of the majority of people present:
In their first three months, new believers should focus on eating, drinking the truth concerning the vision of God’s work. They will have true faith once they have much clarity about the truth concerning the vision and are completely certain about God’s work of the last days. Only by building the foundations of the true way can one live a normal church life. That’s a natural law. Once new believers have much clarity about the truth about visions, they can follow church life and eat and drink God’s words in accordance with the work arrangements. Understanding and entering the truths needed for life entry should be emphasized as their purpose for seeking. If people understand and enter the truths needed for life entry, they are on the right track of faith in God.
When learning hymns, all believers must learn hymns from Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs and may not sing hymns written by some individual without the permission of the above. Though the hymns written by some people might be pretty good, such songs may only be sung in private and may not be sung in the church without the permission of the above.
People are free to express themselves when practicing hymns and dancing to give praise to God. Dance freely and avoid choreographed routines. Dancing at meetings should be varied, with everyone dancing in their own style, expressing themselves freely, and in whatever way they enjoy. Don’t feel constrained by others. People will get on the right track as long as they practice continuously.
Meetings can take many forms, from singing hymns and dancing to praying and enjoying God’s words—they can be more flexible. When communicating God’s words, we can also select related hymns to sing, or we can sing hymns and dance to give praise to God after eating and drinking, fellowshiping God’s words. Each church can determine how many meetings it will hold per week. More meetings can be held if people have the time. If conditions permit, mass meetings are also okay. Each church should manage these things on its own, as there won’t be any instructions from the above.
The main principle of church life is to take eating and drinking God’s words seriously, have reverence for God, ponder more the substance of God’s words and the truth and principles of practice in God’s words, learn to seek out God’s will in His words, and accurately grasp God’s intentions. Don’t treat God’s words as rules or accept them as if they were doctrines. The purpose of eating and drinking God’s words is to understand the truth and be able to enter into the reality of God’s words. Only then can one achieve knowledge of God and be perfected. If a person only understands a few doctrines and does little more than follow rules after reading God’s words, then they are an amateur, a person without spiritual understanding. All people who attend meetings must learn to eat and drink God’s words and be able to communicate actual knowledge of the truth. Only then can they be constructive to others and benefit themselves. Those who pursue the truth and have had actual experiences should guide the brothers and sisters at meetings to understand the truth and enter into the reality of God’s words. That’s the key to church life, and getting a good church life starts from this.
October 5, 2003