88. The Principles of Serving God
(1) It is necessary to be possessed of a heart that loves God, to be capable of showing concern for God’s will, and, in all matters, to be able to seek the truth in order to resolve problems, safeguarding the work of God’s house;
(2) It is necessary to be one who loves the truth and who is able to accept God’s judgment and chastisement, as well as being dealt with and pruned by Him, and be able to repent truly and practice the truth;
(3) It is necessary to have a heart that reveres God, and, in all matters, to be capable of self-reflection, amending transgressions and mistakes as soon as they are found, such that one is achieving life growth at all times;
(4) It is necessary to be a fundamentally honest person, honor-bound to take up God’s commissions and to do the work of your allotted vocation well, thus coming to perform your duty satisfactorily.
Relevant Words of God:
How to Serve in Harmony With God’s Will
(A Selected Chapter of God’s Word)
When one believes in God, how, exactly, should one serve Him? What conditions should be fulfilled and what truths should be understood by those who serve God? And where might you be deviating in your service? You should know the answers to all these things. These issues touch upon how you believe in God, and how you walk onto the path led by the Holy Spirit and submit to God’s orchestrations in all things, thus allowing you to understand every step of God’s work in you. When you reach that point, you will appreciate what faith in God is, how to properly believe in God, and what you should do to act in harmony with God’s will. This will make you completely and utterly obedient to God’s work; you will have no complaints and you will not judge, or analyze, much less research God’s work. As such, you will all be capable of obeying God till death, allowing God to steer you and slaughter you like a sheep, so that you can all become the Peters of the 1990s, and can love God to the utmost even upon the cross, without the slightest complaint. Only then will you be able to live as Peters of the 1990s.
Everyone who has resolved to can serve God—but it must be that only those who give every care to God’s will and understand God’s will are qualified and entitled to serve God. I have discovered this among you: Many people believe that as long as they fervently spread the gospel for God, go on the road for God, expend themselves and give things up for God, and so on, then this is serving God. Even more religious people believe that serving God means running around with a Bible in their hands, spreading the gospel of the kingdom of heaven and saving people by making them repent and confess. There are also many religious officials who think that serving God consists of preaching in chapels after pursuing advanced studies and training in the seminary, and teaching people through readings of Bible scriptures. Moreover, there are people in impoverished regions who believe that serving God means healing the sick and casting out demons among their brothers and sisters or praying for them, or serving them. Amongst you, there are many who believe that serving God means eating and drinking the words of God, praying to God every day, as well as visiting and doing work in churches everywhere. There are other brothers and sisters who believe that serving God means never getting married or raising a family and dedicating their entire being to God. Yet few people know what it actually means to serve God. Although there are as many people who serve God as there are stars in the sky, the number of those who can serve directly, and who are able to serve in accordance with God’s will, is paltry—pifflingly small. Why do I say this? I say this because you do not understand the essence of the phrase “service to God,” and you understand so little of how to serve in accordance with God’s will. There is an urgent need for people to understand exactly what sort of service to God can be in harmony with His will.
If you wish to serve in accordance with God’s will, you must first understand what kind of people are pleasing to God, what kind of people are loathed by God, what kind of people are made perfect by God, and what kind of people are qualified to serve God. At the very least, you should be equipped with this knowledge. Moreover, you should know the aims of God’s work, and the work that God shall do in the here and now. After understanding this, and through the guidance of God’s words, you should first have entry, and first receive God’s commission. Once you have had actual experience of God’s words, and when you truly know God’s work, you will be qualified to serve God. And it is when you serve Him that God opens your spiritual eyes and allows you to have a greater understanding of His work and to see it more clearly. When you enter this reality, your experiences will be more profound and real, and all those of you who have had such experiences will be able to walk among the churches and offer provision to your brothers and sisters, so that you can each draw on each other’s strengths to make up for your own deficiencies, and gain richer knowledge in your spirits. Only after achieving this effect will you be able to serve in accordance with God’s will and be made perfect by God in the course of your service.
Those who serve God should be God’s intimates, they should be pleasing to God, and capable of the utmost loyalty to God. Whether you act in private or in public, you are able to gain the joy of God before God, you are able to stand firm before God, and regardless of how other people treat you, you always walk the path you should walk, and give every care to God’s burden. Only people like this are intimates of God. That God’s intimates are able to serve Him directly is because they have been given God’s great commission and God’s burden, they are able to make God’s heart their own, and take God’s burden as their own, and they give no consideration to their future prospects: Even when they have no prospects, and they stand to gain nothing, they will always believe in God with a loving heart. And so, this kind of person is God’s intimate. God’s intimates are also His confidants; only God’s confidants could share His restlessness, and His thoughts, and although their flesh is painful and weak, they are able to endure pain and forsake that which they love to satisfy God. God gives more burdens to such people, and that which God desires to do is borne out in such people’s testimony. Thus, these people are pleasing to God, they are servants of God who are after His own heart, and only people such as this can rule together with God. When you have truly become God’s intimate is precisely when you will rule together with God.
Jesus was able to complete God’s commission—the work of all mankind’s redemption—because He gave every care to God’s will, without making any plans or arrangements for Himself. So, too, was He the intimate of God—God Himself—which is something you all understand very well. (Actually, He was the God Himself who was testified to by God. I mention this here to use the fact of Jesus to illustrate the issue.) He was able to place God’s management plan at the very center, and always prayed to the heavenly Father and sought the will of the heavenly Father. He prayed and said: “God the Father! Accomplish that which is Your will, and act not according to My desires but according to Your plan. Man may be weak, but why should You care for him? How could man be worthy of Your concern, man who is like an ant in Your hand? In My heart, I wish only to accomplish Your will, and I would that You can do what You would do in Me according to Your own desires.” On the road to Jerusalem, Jesus was in agony, as if a knife were being twisted in His heart, yet He had not the slightest intention of going back on His word; always there was a powerful force compelling Him onward to where He would be crucified. Ultimately, He was nailed to the cross and became the likeness of sinful flesh, completing the work of the redemption of mankind. He broke free of the shackles of death and Hades. Before Him, mortality, hell, and Hades lost their power, and were vanquished by Him. He lived for thirty-three years, throughout which He always did His utmost to meet God’s will according to God’s work at the time, never considering His own personal gain or loss, and always thinking of the will of God the Father. Thus, after He was baptized, God said: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Because of His service before God that was in harmony with God’s will, God placed the heavy burden of redeeming all mankind upon His shoulders and made Him accomplish it, and He was qualified and entitled to complete this important task. Throughout His life, He endured immeasurable suffering for God, and He was tempted by Satan countless times, but He was never disheartened. God gave Him such an enormous task because He trusted Him, and loved Him, and thus God personally said: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” At that time, only Jesus could accomplish this commission, and this was one practical aspect of God’s completion of His work of redeeming all mankind in the Age of Grace.
If, like Jesus, you are able to give every care to God’s burden, and turn your back on your flesh, God will entrust His important tasks to you, so that you will meet the conditions required to serve God. Only under such circumstances will you venture to say that you are doing God’s will and completing His commission, and only then will you venture to say you are truly serving God. Compared to Jesus’ example, do you venture to say you are God’s intimate? Do you venture to say that you are doing God’s will? Do you venture to say that you are truly serving God? Today, you do not understand how to serve God, do you venture to say you are God’s intimate? If you say that you serve God, do you not blaspheme against Him? Think about it: Are you serving God, or yourself? You serve Satan, yet you stubbornly say you are serving God—in this, do you not blaspheme against God? Many people behind My back covet the blessing of status, they gorge themselves on food, they love to sleep and give every care to the flesh, always afraid that there is no way out for the flesh. They do not perform their proper function in the church, but freeload off the church, or else they admonish their brothers and sisters with My words, lording themselves over others from positions of authority. These people keep saying they are doing God’s will and always say they are God’s intimates—is this not absurd? If you have the right intentions, but are unable to serve in accordance with God’s will, then you are being foolish; but if your intentions are not right, and you still say you serve God, then you are someone who opposes God, and you ought to be punished by God! I have no sympathy for such people! In the house of God, they freeload, always coveting the comforts of the flesh, and give no consideration to the interests of God. They always seek what is good for them, and they pay no heed to God’s will. They do not accept the scrutiny of God’s Spirit in anything they do. They are always maneuvering and deceiving their brothers and sisters, and being two-faced, like a fox in a vineyard, always stealing grapes and trampling over the vineyard. Could such people be God’s intimates? Are you fit to receive God’s blessings? You take no burden for your life and the church, are you fit to receive God’s commission? Who would dare trust someone like you? When you serve like this, could God dare to entrust you with a greater task? Would this not cause delays to the work?
I say this so that you might know what conditions must be fulfilled in order to serve in harmony with God’s will. If you do not give your heart to God, if you do not give every care to God’s will like Jesus, then you cannot be trusted by God, and will end up being judged by God. Perhaps today, in your service to God, you always harbor the intention of deceiving God and always deal with Him in a perfunctory manner. In short, regardless of anything else, if you cheat God, ruthless judgment will come upon you. You should take advantage of having just entered onto the right track of serving God to first give your heart to God, without divided loyalties. Regardless of whether you are before God, or before other people, your heart should always be turned toward God, and you should be resolved to love God like Jesus did. In this way, God will make you perfect, so that you become a servant of God who is after His heart. If you truly wish to be made perfect by God, and for your service to be in harmony with His will, then you should change your previous views about faith in God, and change the old way you used to serve God, so that more of you is made perfect by God. In this way, God will not abandon you, and, like Peter, you will be at the vanguard of those who love God. If you remain unrepentant, then you will meet the same end as Judas. This should be understood by all who believe in God.
from The Word Appears in the Flesh
Since the beginning of His work throughout the universe, God has predestined many people to serve Him, including those from every walk of life. His purpose is to satisfy His will and bring His work on earth to smooth completion; this is God’s aim in choosing people to serve Him. Every person who serves God must understand His will. This work of His makes God’s wisdom and omnipotence, and the principles of His work on earth, more evident to people. God has actually come to earth to do His work, to engage with people, so that they may know His deeds more clearly. Today you, this group of people, are fortunate to serve the practical God. This is an incalculable blessing for you—truly, you are raised up by God. In selecting a person to serve Him, God always has His own principles. Serving God is by no means, as people imagine, that it is simply a matter of enthusiasm. Today, you see that all who serve before God do so because they have the guidance of God and the work of the Holy Spirit, and because they are people who pursue the truth. These are the minimum conditions for all those who serve God.
Excerpted from “Religious Service Must Be Purged” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Regarding work, man believes that work is to run around for God, preach everywhere, and expend for His sake. Though this belief is correct, it is too one-sided; what God asks of man is not solely to run around for Him; beyond just this, this work is concerned with ministry and provision within the spirit. Many brothers and sisters, even after all these years of experience, have never thought about working for God, because work as conceived by man is incongruous with what God asks. Therefore, man has no interest whatsoever in the matter of work, and this is precisely the reason why the entry of man is also quite one-sided. All of you should begin your entry with working for God, so that you may better undergo every aspect of experience. This is what you should enter into. Work refers not to running around for God, but to whether the life of man and what man lives out are able to give God enjoyment. Work refers to people using their devotion to God and their knowledge of God to testify about God, and also to minister to man. This is man’s responsibility and this is what all man should understand. One could say that your entry is your work, and that you are seeking to enter during the course of working for God. Experiencing God’s work does not merely mean that you know how to eat and drink of His word; more importantly, you must know how to testify about God and be able to serve God and be able to minister to and provide for man. This is work, and it is also your entry; this is what every person should accomplish. There are many who only focus on running around for God and preaching everywhere, yet overlook their individual experience and neglect their entry into the spiritual life. This is what has led those who serve God to become those who resist God. …
One works in order to satisfy the will of God, to bring all those who are after God’s heart before Him, to bring man to God, and to introduce the Holy Spirit’s work and God’s guidance to man, thereby perfecting the fruits of God’s work. Therefore, it is imperative that you are thoroughly clear on the essence of work. As one who is used by God, every man is worthy of working for God, that is, everyone has the opportunity to be used by the Holy Spirit. However, there is one point that you must realize: When man does the work commissioned by God, man has been given the opportunity to be used by God, but what is said and known by man are not entirely the stature of man. All you can do is to better know your own deficiencies during the course of your work, and come into possession of greater enlightenment from the Holy Spirit. In this way, you will be enabled to gain better entry in the course of your work.
Excerpted from “Work and Entry (2)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
In their work, church leaders and workers must pay attention to two things: One is to do their work exactly according to the principles stipulated by the work arrangements, never violating those principles and not basing their work on anything that they might imagine or on any of their own ideas. In everything they do, they should show concern for the work of God’s house, and always put its interests first. Another thing—and this is most crucial—is that in all things, they must focus on following the Holy Spirit’s guidance and do everything in strict keeping with God’s words. If you are still capable of going against the Holy Spirit’s guidance, or if you stubbornly follow your own ideas and do things according to your own imagination, then your actions will constitute a most serious resistance against God. Frequently turning your back on the enlightenment and guidance of the Holy Spirit will only lead to a dead end. If you lose the work of the Holy Spirit, then you will not be able to work; and even if you do somehow manage to work, you will accomplish nothing. These are the two main principles to abide by while working: One is to perform your work in exact accordance with the arrangements from the Above, as well as to act according to the principles that have been set forth by the Above; and the other is to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit within you. Once these two points are grasped, you will not be so liable to make mistakes.
Excerpted from “The Main Principles of Work for Leaders and Workers” in Records of Christ’s Talks
What is the greatest taboo in man’s service of God? Do you know? Some people who serve as leaders always want to try to be different, to be head and shoulders above the rest, and to figure out some new tricks that will make God see just how capable they really are. However, they do not focus on understanding the truth and entering the reality of God’s words; they are always trying to show off. Is this not precisely the revelation of an arrogant nature? Some even say, “If I do this, I’m sure it’ll make God very happy; He’ll really like it. This time I am going to get God to have a look; I’ll give Him a nice surprise.” As a result of this “surprise,” they lose the work of the Holy Spirit and get eliminated by God. Do not just rashly do whatever comes into your mind. How can things be okay if you do not consider the consequences of your actions? When you offend God’s disposition and violate His administrative decrees, and are subsequently eliminated, there will be nothing left for you to say. Regardless of your intent, and whether or not you do it deliberately, if you do not understand God’s disposition or His will, you will easily offend Him and be liable to violate His administrative decrees; this is something against which everyone should be on guard. Once you have seriously violated God’s administrative decrees or offended His disposition, He will give no consideration as to whether you did it intentionally or unintentionally. This is a matter that you need to see clearly. If you cannot understand this issue, then you are bound to cause problems. In serving God, people wish to make great strides, do great things, speak great words, perform great work, hold great meetings, and be great leaders. If you always have such grand ambitions, then you will violate God’s administrative decrees; people who do this will die quickly. If you are not well-behaved, devout, and prudent in your service to God, then sooner or later, you will offend His disposition.
Excerpted from “Without the Truth, One Is Liable to Offend God” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Someone who truly serves God is someone who is after God’s heart, who is fit for use by God, and who is able to let go of religious notions. If you wish for your eating and drinking of the words of God to be effective, then you must let go of your religious notions. If you wish to serve God, then it is even more necessary first to let go of religious notions and obey the words of God in everything. This is what should be possessed by someone who serves God. If you lack this knowledge, then as soon as you serve, you will cause disruption and disturbances, and if you hold on to your notions, then you will inevitably be knocked down by God, never to get up again. Take the present, for example: Many of the utterances and work of today are incompatible with the Bible and with the work previously done by God, and if you have no desire to obey, then you may fall at any time. If you wish to serve in accordance with the will of God, then you must first let go of religious notions and rectify your own views. Much of what will be said will be incompatible with what was said in the past, and if you now lack the will to obey, you will be unable to walk the path that lies ahead. If one of God’s methods of working has taken root inside you and you never let it go, then this method will become your religious notion. If what God is has taken root within you, then you have gained the truth, and if the words and truth of God are capable of becoming your life, you will no longer have notions about God. Those who possess true knowledge of God will have no notions and will not abide by doctrine.
Excerpted from “Only Those Who Know the Work of God Today May Serve God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Many serve God on the strength of their passion but have no understanding of the administrative decrees of God, still less any inkling of the implications of His words. And so, with their good intentions, they often wind up doing things that disrupt God’s management. In serious cases, they are thrown out, deprived of any further chance of following Him, and are cast into hell, all association with God’s house at an end. These people work in the house of God on the strength of their ignorant good intentions, and end by angering God’s disposition. People bring their ways of serving officials and lords to the house of God and try to put them into play, vainly thinking that they can be applied with effortless ease here. Never do they imagine that God has not the disposition of a lamb, but that of a lion. Therefore, those associating with God for the first time are unable to communicate with Him, for the heart of God is unlike that of man. Only after you understand many truths can you continuously come to know God. This knowledge is not made up of words and doctrines but can be used as a treasure by means of which you enter into close confidence with God, and as proof that He delights in you. If you lack the reality of knowledge and are not equipped with the truth, then your passionate service can only bring upon you the loathing and abhorrence of God.
Excerpted from “Three Admonitions” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Serving God is no simple task. Those whose corrupt disposition remains unchanged can never serve God. If your disposition has not been judged and chastised by God’s words, then your disposition still represents Satan, which proves that you serve God out of your own good intentions, that your service is based on your satanic nature. You serve God with your natural character, and according to your personal preferences. What’s more, you always think that the things you are willing to do are what are delightful to God, and that the things you do not wish to do are what are hateful to God; you work entirely according to your own preferences. Can this be called serving God? Ultimately, there will not be the slightest change in your life disposition; instead, your service will make you even more stubborn, thus deeply ingraining your corrupt disposition, and as such, there will be formed within you rules about service to God that are primarily based on your own character, and experiences derived from your service according to your own disposition. These are the experiences and lessons of man. It is man’s philosophy of living in the world. People like this can be classed as Pharisees and religious officials. If they never wake up and repent, then they will surely turn into the false Christs and the antichrists who deceive people in the last days. The false Christs and the antichrists that were spoken of will arise from among such people. If those who serve God follow their own character and act according to their own will, they run the risk of being cast out at any time. Those who apply their many years of experience acquired to serving God in order to win the hearts of others, to lecture them and control them, and to stand on high—and who never repent, never confess their sins, never renounce the benefits of position—these people shall fall before God. They are of the same kind as Paul, presuming upon their seniority and flaunting their qualifications. God will not bring people like this to perfection. Such service interferes with the work of God. People always cling to the old. They cling to the notions of the past, to everything from times gone by. This is a great obstacle to their service. If you cannot throw them off, these things will throttle your whole life. God will not commend you, not in the slightest, not even if you break your legs running or your back with labor, not even if you are martyred in your service of God. Quite the contrary: He will say that you are an evildoer.
Excerpted from “Religious Service Must Be Purged” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
In religion, many people suffer a great deal throughout their lives: They subdue their bodies and bear their cross, and they even continue to suffer and endure when on the very verge of death! Some are still fasting on the morning of their death. All their lives they deny themselves nice food and clothing, focusing only on suffering. They are able to subdue their body and forsake their flesh. Their spirit for enduring suffering is commendable. But their thinking, their notions, their mental attitude, and indeed their old nature, have not been dealt with in the slightest. They lack any true knowledge of themselves. Their mental image of God is that traditional one of an abstract, vague God. Their resolve to suffer for God comes from their zeal and their positive natures. Even though they believe in God, they neither understand Him nor know His will. They merely work and suffer blindly for God. They place no value whatsoever on acting with discernment, care little about how to ensure that their service actually fulfills God’s will, and much less are they aware of how to achieve the knowledge of God. The God they serve is not God in His original image, but a God shrouded in legend, a product of their own imagination, a God they have only heard of, or found in writings. They then use their fertile imaginations and piousness to suffer for God and undertake God’s work that God wants to do. Their service is too inexact, such that practically none of them are truly able to serve in accordance with God’s will. Regardless of how gladly they suffer, their original perspective on service and their mental image of God remain unchanged, because they have not undergone God’s judgment, chastisement, refinement and perfection, and nor has anyone guided them using the truth. Even if they believe in Jesus the Savior, none of them has ever seen the Savior. They only know of Him through legend and hearsay. As a result, their service amounts to no more than serving randomly with eyes closed, like a blind man serving his own father. What, ultimately, can be achieved by such service? And who would approve of it? From beginning to end, their service remains the same throughout; they receive only man-made lessons and base their service only on their naturalness and their own preferences. What reward could this bring? Not even Peter, who saw Jesus, knew how to serve in accordance with God’s will; he only came to know this in the end, in his old age. What does this say about those blind people who have not experienced the slightest bit of being dealt with or of being pruned, and who have had no one guiding them? Is not the service of many among you today like that of these blind people? All those who have not received judgment, not received pruning and dealing, and who have not changed—are they not all incompletely conquered? Of what use are such people? If your thinking, your knowledge of life, and your knowledge of God show no new change and you do not truly gain anything, then you will never achieve anything remarkable in your service!
Excerpted from “The Inside Truth of the Work of Conquest (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Consider how Peter experienced Jesus’ work: In the beginning, he received the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and spoke to Jesus, saying: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Once the Holy Spirit had enlightened him, he gained some insight, and his heart was filled with light. Though he had no deeper understanding of the matter at the time, he sought to understand God, and embarked on the correct track of serving God. Serving God is a most glorious thing, and is also a most dangerous thing, for people are corrupt and rebellious—once they go astray, they resist God. People serve God, not other people. The path Peter walked was the right one, and He whom he served was the Lord Jesus, not a vague God. Paul, however, was different. He did not acknowledge that Jesus was the Christ. He hunted Jesus’ disciples unceasingly. After he witnessed the appearance of great light and was struck down, Paul still did not realize that God was the Lord of all things, nor that the Lord Jesus was God made manifest, nor did he know how man should obey God. He had no normal sense of reason; from beginning to end, he harbored such an arrogant mentality: “However much I give You, You must give me; however great the cost to me, that is what You must reward me in recompense.” His work, from beginning to end, was governed by this sort of thinking, so, in his heart, there was never reverence for God, nor fear of Him. Consider the tone of his words: “I have fought a good fight”—I have fought the fight You made me fight; “I have finished my course”—I have run the road You told me to run; “I have kept the faith”—wasn’t it You who make me keep it? I have kept it, so shouldn’t the glorious crown be reserved for me? Was this not his tone? Of course, he could not speak so bluntly within the epistle. He spoke somewhat euphemistically and cryptically, but these ideas were the impetus of his writing. What happened in the end? He still had to be punished. You must see clearly the choices man should make on the path of serving God, the path of belief in God—see which ways of serving God are those of Paul, which ways of belief are those of Paul, and how one can come to serve God with the piety of Peter. There is a path that created beings should follow in their worship of God; you must choose the right path and aim for the right goal. Do not be muddleheaded, but walk earnestly, on solid ground, with clarity of vision. It is dangerous for you to walk fatuously onward; to do so guarantees that you will one day offend against God’s administrative decrees or voice words of complaint.
Excerpted from “To Serve God One Should Walk the Path of Peter” in Records of Christ’s Talks