70. The Principles of Receiving People Into a Church
(1) None may be accepted into a church without providing a pledge of commitment, written by the applicant themselves, and without their application receiving the consent of the church’s leaders and deacons;
(2) A church must never accept as a new member an evil or a deceitful person, nor people whose appearance has an intimidating, ugly aspect and who are neither dignified nor presentable;
(3) When one who has previously spurned the church in favor of the world wishes to rejoin, they may not be accepted until they have genuinely repented and been vouched for by a number of people;
(4) Those who have been arrested and written the “three statements,” yet are of decent humanity and show remorse, may be readmitted with the consent of a majority of a church’s members;
(5) Should any who has been purged or expelled, yet has repented sincerely and is able to continue winning people by preaching the gospel, apply for reentry, they may be admitted.
Relevant Words of God:
While God’s work of salvation is being done, every single person who can be saved will be saved as far as possible, and none of them discarded, for the purpose of God’s work is to save man. All those who, during the time of God’s salvation of man, are unable to achieve a change in their disposition—as well as all those who are unable to submit to God completely—will become objects for punishment. This stage of work—the work of words—will unlock for people all of the ways and mysteries that they do not understand, so that they can understand the will of God and God’s requirements of them, and so that they can have the prerequisites to put God’s words into practice and achieve changes in their disposition. God uses only words to do His work and does not punish people for being a little rebellious; this is because now is the time of the work of salvation. If anyone who acts rebelliously were punished, then no one would have the opportunity to be saved; everyone would be punished and fall into Hades. The purpose of words that judge man is to allow them to know themselves and submit to God; it is not to punish them with such judgment. During the time of the work of words, many people will expose their rebelliousness and defiance, as well as their disobedience toward the incarnate God. Nevertheless, He will not punish all these people as a result, but instead will only cast aside those who are corrupt to the core and who cannot be saved. He will give their flesh to Satan, and, in a few cases, terminate their flesh. Those remaining will continue to follow and experience being dealt with and pruned. If, while following, these people still are unable to accept being dealt with and pruned, and become more and more degenerate, then they will have lost their chance for salvation. Each person who has submitted to being conquered by words will have ample opportunity for salvation; God’s salvation of each of these people will show His utmost leniency. In other words, they will be shown the utmost tolerance. As long as people turn back from the wrong path, and as long as they can repent, God will give them opportunities to obtain His salvation. When humans first rebel against God, He has no desire to put them to death; rather, He does all He can to save them. If someone really has no room for salvation, then God will cast them aside. The reason God is slow to punish certain people is that He wishes to save everyone who can be saved. He judges, enlightens, and guides people only with words, and does not use a rod to put them to death. Employing words to bring humans salvation is the purpose and significance of the final stage of work.
Excerpted from “You Should Put Aside the Blessings of Status and Understand God’s Will to Bring Salvation to Man” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
In the past, some people have been expelled from the church for doing bad things, and their brothers and sisters have rejected them. After roaming around for a few years, they have now returned. That they did not leave God completely is a good thing; this gives them an opportunity and a hope of being saved. Had they run away and stopped believing, becoming the same as unbelievers, then they would be completely done for. If they can make a turnaround, then there is hope for them yet; this is rare and precious. Regardless of how God acts, and no matter how He treats, hates, or detests people, if there comes a day when they can make a turnaround, then I will take great comfort, for this will mean that they still have that little bit of room for God in their hearts, that they have not completely lost their human reason or their humanity, that they still want to believe in God, and they have at least some intention to acknowledge and return before Him. No matter who leaves God’s house, if they return, and they still hold this family dear, then I will become somewhat sentimentally attached and will take some comfort in it. However, if they never return, I will think it a pity. If they can return and begin to sincerely believe in God, then My heart will especially be filled with gratification. When you walked away, you certainly were being quite negative, and you were in a bad state; if you can come back now, though, it proves you still have faith in God. However, whether or not you can continue forward is an unknown factor, because people change so quickly. In the Age of Grace, Jesus had pity and grace for humans. If one sheep was lost out of a hundred, He would leave the ninety-nine to look for the one. This line does not represent a kind of mechanical method, nor a rule; rather, it shows God’s urgent intention to bring salvation to people, as well as His deep love for them. It is not a way of doing things; it is a kind of disposition, a sort of mentality. Thus, some people leave for six months or a year, or have however many weaknesses or suffer from however many misconceptions, and yet their ability to later wake up to reality, gain knowledge and make a turnaround, and get back on the right track makes Me feel especially comforted and brings Me this little piece of enjoyment. In this world of gaiety and splendor, and in this evil age, being able to stand firm, acknowledge God, and get back on the right track are things that bring quite a bit of comfort and excitement. Take raising children, for example: Whether or not they are filial, how would you feel if they did not acknowledge you, and left home, never to return? Deep down, you would still keep on feeling concerned about them, and you would always wonder, “When will my son return? I’d like to see him. After all, he is my son, and it wasn’t for nothing that I raised him and loved him.” You have always thought this way; you have always longed for that day to come. Everyone feels the same in this regard. People these days are small of stature, but the day will come when they understand God’s will, unless they do not harbor even a shred of desire to believe and do not admit that He is God.
Excerpted from “People Who Make Constant Demands of God Are the Least Reasonable People” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Kin who are not of the faith (your children, your husband or wife, your sisters or your parents, and so on) should not be forced into the church. God’s household is not short of members, and there is no need to make up its numbers with people who have no use. All those who do not believe gladly must not be led into the church. This decree is directed at all people. You should check, monitor, and remind each other of this matter; no one may violate it. Even when kin who are not of the faith do reluctantly enter the church, they must not be issued books nor given a new name; such people are not of God’s household, and their entry into the church must be halted by any means necessary. If trouble is brought upon the church due to the invasion of demons, then you yourself will be expelled or will have restrictions placed upon you. In short, everyone has a responsibility in this matter, though you should not be reckless, nor use it to settle personal scores.
Excerpted from “The Ten Administrative Decrees That Must Be Obeyed by God’s Chosen People in the Age of Kingdom” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Sermon and Fellowship Excerpts for Reference:
The principles for accepting new believers into the church are: As long as they sincerely believe in God, even if they have only a sliver of hope or chance to be saved, they should still be accepted into the church and should never be pushed out. The standard for accepting people into the church should not be too high, because all of mankind has already been so deeply corrupted by Satan, and few have good humanity. If they are not evildoers or muddle-headed people, and if they sincerely believe that Almighty God is the incarnate God, then they should be accepted into the church. Whether they are workers, farmers, or teachers, scientific and technological personnel, or government employees, we must treat them all as equals without any bias. We must especially have extreme patience in guiding those cadres and scientific and technological or educational personnel into God’s words and to understand the truth. Because it is more difficult for such people to enter the truth, our expectations of them must not be overly high or stringent. If we truly have love for these people, then we should get in touch with them frequently and give them our assistance. Even though these people often require longer time than ordinary people do to enter the truth and build up a foundation in their faith in God, once they have actually entered the truth, they all become useful talents. Cultivating talent without paying the price to do so will not work.
As for newcomers being accepted into the church, it is usually sufficient to gain the approval of the church’s leaders and deacons. In special circumstances, the approval of the entire church congregation is required. If some people do not agree with the acceptance of a new believer, then the believer must undergo a probationary period. While they are on probation, the person who introduced them or the one who preached the gospel to them should remain in continuous contact with them, and keep fellowshiping with them. During any interactions, detailed observation should be made of the newcomer. If they are confirmed to be a person who sincerely believes in God, then they may be accepted into the church. The work of accepting people into the church cannot be too extreme; only evildoers and muddle-headed people should be restricted. Most people should be accepted, and only in special cases should further discussion and approval of the church be required.
Accepting people into the church should be carried out carefully. Those evildoers who want to live off of the church, who often commit adultery, or who are extremely arrogant must be prevented from joining the church. There are also those nonbelievers who are just along for the ride and playing around; these must also be prevented from joining the church. Because such people do not love the truth, even if they were to join the church, they still could not remain followers to the end. In the church, these are the sort of people who eventually give up. Furthermore, we must also prevent infiltration in the church from those who come to spy. The church must primarily prevent the following three types of people from joining the church: One type includes those who are so evil, vile, and base that the church absolutely cannot accept them; another type includes spies who wish to infiltrate the church, and whom the church absolutely cannot accept; the last type includes those who do not sincerely believe in God, and even if accepted into the church, these people would all give up sooner or later, so the church must not accept them.
Excerpted from Work Arrangements
The house of God now has a rule: All new believers must write an application to join the church stating that they are doing so under their own volition, and shall never regret doing so, thereby proving that they truly believe in God. After you have written your application, the house of God will use your behavior to evaluate whether you are permitted to join the church. If you do not write an application, the house of God will not urge you to do so, but will merely treat you as one who has yet to make up their mind. Is this not the right thing for the house of God to do? Doing so gives people complete freedom of faith, it puts the choice entirely in their hands, and avoids any sense of coercion. If you truly believe in God, then once you have determined that God has become flesh to personally carry out the salvation of man, you should join the church; only then will you truly be raptured before God, and only then will God recognize you as a member of His house. If you do not join the church, in God’s eyes you are merely a spectator, a nonbeliever; you may be able to make some small effort for the church, but you will remain nothing more than a temporary service-doer. It is accurate to say that all who are unwilling to join the church do not truly believe in God and are not recognized by God.
Excerpted from Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life
Some people are arrested by the great red dragon because of their faith in God. Does this show that they have been revealed and eliminated, or that they have been cleansed and made perfect? There is no “one size fits all” rule here as it depends on what kind of person they are. If they are a demon, someone who does not love the truth, then it shows that they have been revealed and eliminated. If they love the truth, then their arrest is a trial. After they are arrested, some people sign the “three statements” (a statement of repentance, a statement of guarantee, and a statement of severance), and there are those who say that they are then eliminated by God—but the house of God does not believe so. If they love the truth and are of good humanity, God will still give them a chance; this is but a single transgression and a single instance of failing and falling, and they will still be welcomed by the church. For those who lead the great red dragon to arrest other brothers and sisters, it is completely over. They will not be saved by God. This is not merely a problem of them signing the “three statements.” They have joined hands with the great red dragon, they have performed concrete actions which betray God, and it is not weakness, but utter betrayal. Such people are completely finished, and the house of God does not want them, period. For those who sign the “three statements” but do not sell out brothers and sisters or lead the great red dragon to arrest other brothers and sisters, if they are of good humanity and love the truth, then the house of God will give them another chance to repent, and they will still be welcome in the church. If they have never pursued the truth and are of poor humanity—if they are wicked—then they are not wanted by the house of God, and they will have been utterly revealed and eliminated. Such practice is entirely in line with the will of God. When the same thing happens to different people, a distinction must be made: A determination must be made based on people’s nature essence. When it happens to someone who pursues the truth, people view it negatively—but in fact, God’s will is benevolent. He is cleansing them and making them perfect, or else testing and refining them. When the same thing happens to someone who does not love the truth, it means revelation and elimination. Some people say, “I didn’t love the truth before, but when I faced this revelation, I was awakened. I must repent and begin to pursue the truth.” This is acceptable, but God must also look at whether you have changed after a time. If you have truly repented and changed, then for you, your being revealed that time does not mean elimination; it is the final salvation, and this matter has taken a favorable turn. Thus, those who understand the truth are principled in how they treat others, they make distinctions, and they do not blindly condemn or rush to conclusions. Rushing to conclusions can sometimes hinder or harm good people, for some good people do not understand the truth, and are often weak, and require loving support.
Excerpted from Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life
Previously, during great purges by the church, quite a few people were cleared out or expelled. Some among them are certainly people who genuinely believe in God and show signs of repentance, and they still persist in their faith. The church should give these people another chance, and they should be accepted back in. The following situations may be used for reference.
1. For people purged from the church due to not having performed their duties or not having attended gatherings very often, if they show signs of genuine repentance, they may be accepted back into the church.
2. For people who truly believe in God, but who were expelled due to having committed a certain transgression (which is actually not enough to meet the criteria for being expelled), they may be accepted back into the church.
3. For people who were purged due to not having pursued the truth, and due to having been muddle-headed in their faith, if they have a relatively good humanity and are not evil people, and if they are currently showing signs of genuine repentance, they may be accepted back into the church.
4. For people who were expelled from the church due to having poor humanity and due to misbehaving, if they have all along been persevering with their spreading of the gospel and have shown signs of genuine repentance, then they may be accepted back into the church. If such people return to the church, they must be well-behaved; moreover, they will not be permitted to act as leaders.
With regard to people who fall into the aforementioned categories, the church should send someone to gain an understanding of, and verify, their situations. If such people are sincere in their desire to return to the church, then they can be allowed back in, as long as the majority of the congregation agree. If only a minority of the congregation agree, then those prospective returnees should be let go. In the matter of accepting people into the church, the principles are absolutely inviolable. In the past, most expulsions were done for valid reasons; only a minority of them were expelled inappropriately. People such as the latter may be reconsidered and given another chance. If a church takes back in the majority of people that it had expelled or purged, major errors can occur. Each church must grasp these principles well and not deviate from them. A church must act according to the actual circumstances, and deal with people in accordance with the principles. Someone who commits transgressions should not be treated as an evil person, but those who are constantly licentious and never change even after being repeatedly disciplined, those who often steal offerings and are insatiably greedy, those who are always arrogant and conceited, deranged, and frenzied, those who are constantly sowing discord and seek conflict, and those who always struggle for power and are not willing to perform any duties unless they have status—these people are all incorrigible. Evil people will always be evil; they will never truly repent. Thus, no one has the right to bring such people back into the church, and anyone who does so will be expelled by the church along with them. Those who are brought back into the church absolutely must not engage in any disruptive conduct, and they also must get along well with most people. These are the only sorts of people who are well-suited to being brought back into the church. Only those who are beneficial to the church’s work, or are able to render service toward spreading the gospel, may be welcomed back; anyone who is harmful to the church absolutely must not be allowed back in. Leaders and workers of all levels must act in accordance with the principles in this matter so that not a single good person falls through the cracks and not a single bad person is brought back in.
Excerpted from Work Arrangements