23. The Principles of Seeking to Grasp God’s Will
(1) One should use God’s words to seek the truth in His requirements of man. Find a reliable footing, and never let human notions or imaginings guide you;
(2) When one has notions and misunderstandings of God, they should seek the truth to address them, and not be arrogant and self-righteous. Man has no truth, but only corruption;
(3) Seek to understand the truth in matters that pertain to the truth principle, and to the performance of duty, and rectify human notions and imaginings. Only thus can one accurately grasp God’s will;
(4) Amidst trials and refinement, one should pray to God and seek to understand God’s will and requirements. Come to practice the truth, to submit to God, and to stand firm in your testimony.
Relevant Words of God:
Today God judges you, chastises you, and condemns you, but you must know that the point of your condemnation is for you to know yourself. He condemns, curses, judges, and chastises so that you might know yourself, so that your disposition might change, and, moreover, so that you might know your worth, and see that all of God’s actions are righteous and in accordance with His disposition and the requirements of His work, that He works in accordance with His plan for man’s salvation, and that He is the righteous God who loves, saves, judges, and chastises man. If you only know that you are of lowly status, that you are corrupt and disobedient, but do not know that God wishes to make plain His salvation through the judgment and chastisement that He does in you today, then you have no way of gaining experience, much less are you capable of continuing forward. God has not come to kill or destroy, but to judge, curse, chastise, and save. Until His 6,000-year management plan comes to a close—before He reveals the outcome of each category of man—God’s work on earth will be for the sake of salvation; its purpose is purely to make those who love Him complete—thoroughly so—and to bring them into submission under His dominion. No matter how God saves people, it is all done by making them break away from their old satanic nature; that is, He saves them by having them seek life. If they do not do so, then they will have no way to accept God’s salvation. Salvation is the work of God Himself, and the seeking for life is something that man must take on in order to accept salvation. In the eyes of man, salvation is the love of God, and the love of God cannot be chastisement, judgment, and curses; salvation must contain love, compassion, and, moreover, words of solace, as well as boundless blessings bestowed by God. People believe that when God saves man, He does so by moving them with His blessings and grace, so that they can give their hearts to God. That is to say, His touching man is His saving them. This sort of salvation is done by striking a deal. Only when God grants them a hundredfold will man come to submit before God’s name and strive to do well for Him and bring Him glory. This is not what God intends for mankind. God has come to work on earth in order to save corrupt mankind; there is no falsehood in this. If there were, He would certainly not have come to do His work in person. In the past, His means of salvation involved showing the utmost love and compassion, such that He gave His all to Satan in exchange for the whole of mankind. The present is nothing like the past: The salvation bestowed upon you today occurs at the time of the last days, during the classification of each according to kind; the means of your salvation is not love or compassion, but chastisement and judgment, in order that man may be more thoroughly saved. Thus, all that you receive is chastisement, judgment, and merciless smiting, but know this: In this heartless smiting there is not the slightest punishment. Regardless of how harsh My words might be, what befall you are but a few words that might appear utterly heartless to you, and no matter how angry I might be, what rain upon you are still words of teaching, and I do not mean to harm you or put you to death. Is this not all fact? Know that nowadays, whether it be righteous judgment or heartless refinement and chastisement, everything is for the sake of salvation. Regardless of whether today each is classified according to kind or the categories of man are laid bare, the purpose of all of God’s words and work is to save those who truly love God. Righteous judgment is brought to purify man, and heartless refinement is done to cleanse them; harsh words or chastening are both done to purify and are for the sake of salvation.
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
Is your understanding of truth integrated with your own states? In real life, you first have to think of which truths relate to the people, events, and things you have encountered; it is among these truths that you can find God’s will and connect what you have encountered with His will. If you do not know which aspects of the truth relate to the things you have encountered but instead go directly to seek God’s will, this is a blind approach which cannot achieve results. If you want to seek the truth and understand God’s will, first you need to look at what kind of things have happened to you, which aspects of the truth they are related to, and look for the specific truth in the word of God that relates to what you have experienced. Then you look for the path of practice that is right for you in that truth; in this way you can gain an indirect understanding of God’s will. Searching for and practicing the truth is not mechanically applying a doctrine or following a formula. The truth is not formulaic, neither is it a law. It is not dead—it is life itself, it is a living thing, and it is the rule that a created being must follow in life and the rule a human must have in life. This is something that you must, as much as possible, understand through experience. No matter what stage you have arrived at in your experience, you are inseparable from God’s word or the truth, and what you understand of God’s disposition and what you know of what God has and is are all expressed in God’s words; they are inextricably linked with the truth. God’s disposition and what He has and is are, in themselves, the truth; the truth is an authentic manifestation of God’s disposition and what He has and is. It makes what He has and is concrete, and it makes a clear statement of what He has and is; it tells you more straightforwardly what God likes, what He does not like, what He wants you to do and what He does not permit you to do, which people He despises and which people He delights in. Behind the truths that God expresses, people can see His pleasure, anger, sorrow, and happiness, as well as His essence—this is the revealing of His disposition. Aside from knowing what God has and is, and understanding His disposition from His word, what is most important is the need to reach this understanding through practical experience. If a person removes themselves from real life in order to know God, they will not be able to achieve that. Even if there are people who can gain some understanding from the word of God, their understanding is limited to theories and words, and there arises a disparity with what God Himself is really like.
Excerpted from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
No matter what duty you fulfill, you must always seek to grasp God’s will and understand what His requirements are regarding your duty; only then will you be able to handle matters in a principled way. In performing your duty, you absolutely cannot go by your personal preferences, by just doing whatever you would like to do, whatever you would be happy and comfortable doing, or whatever would make you look good. If you forcibly impose your personal preferences on God or practice them as though they were the truth, observing them as if they were the truth principles, then that is not fulfilling your duty, and performing your duty in this way will not be remembered by God. Some people do not understand the truth, and they do not know what it means to fulfill their duties well. They feel that since they have put their heart and effort into it, forsaken their flesh and suffered, then the fulfilling of their duties should be up to standard—but why, then, is God always dissatisfied? Where have these people gone wrong? Their mistake was to not seek out God’s requirements, and instead act according to their own ideas; they treated their own desires, preferences, and selfish motives as the truth, and they treated them as though they were what God loved, as though they were His standards and requirements. They saw what they believed to be correct, good, and beautiful to be the truth; this is wrong. In fact, even though people might sometimes think something is right and that it accords with the truth, that does not necessarily mean that it accords with God’s will. The more people think something is right, the more cautious they should be and the more they should seek the truth to see whether what they are thinking meets God’s requirements. If it happens to run counter to His requirements and counter to His words, then you are wrong to think it is right, it is but a human thought, and it will not necessarily accord with the truth no matter how right you think it is. Your determination of right and wrong must be based solely on God’s words, and no matter how right you think something is, unless there is a basis for it in God’s words, you must discard it. What is duty? It is a commission entrusted by God to people. So how should you fulfill your duty? By acting in accordance with God’s requirements and standards, and by basing your behavior on the truth principles rather than on human subjective desires. In this way, your fulfilling of your duties will be up to standard.
Excerpted from “Only by Seeking the Truth Principles Can One Perform Their Duty Well” in Records of Christ’s Talks
God and man cannot be spoken of on equal terms. His essence and His work are most unfathomable and incomprehensible to man. If God does not personally do His work and speak His words in the world of man, then man would never be able to understand the will of God. And so, even those who have devoted their entire lives to God would not be able to receive His approval. If God does not set to work, then however well man does, it will all be for naught, because God’s thoughts will always be higher than the thoughts of man, and God’s wisdom is beyond man’s comprehension. And so I say that those who claim to “fully understand” God and His work are an inept lot; they are all overweening and ignorant. Man should not define the work of God; moreover, man cannot define the work of God. In the eyes of God, man is as insignificant as an ant; so how can man fathom God’s work? Those who like to spout, “God does not work in this or that way,” or “God is like this or that”—are they not speaking arrogantly? We should all know that man, who is of the flesh, has been corrupted by Satan. Mankind’s very nature is to oppose God. Mankind cannot be on par with God, much less can mankind hope to advise the work of God. As for how God guides man, this is the work of God Himself. It is fitting that man should submit, without professing this or that view, for man is but dust. Since it is our intent to seek God, we should not superimpose our notions onto His work for God’s consideration, still less should we employ our corrupt disposition to its utmost to deliberately oppose the work of God. Would that not make us antichrists? How could such people believe in God? Since we believe that there is a God, and since we wish to satisfy Him and to see Him, we should seek the way of truth, and should look for a way to be compatible with God. We should not stand in stiff-necked opposition to Him. What good could possibly come of such actions?
Excerpted from Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh
No matter what you do, you should first understand why you are doing it, what intention it is that directs you to do this thing, what the significance is in your doing it, what the nature of the matter is, and whether what you are doing is a positive thing or a negative thing. You must have a clear understanding of all these matters; this is quite necessary to be able to act with principle. If you are doing something to fulfill your duty, then you should ponder: How should I do this? How should I fulfill my duty well so that I am not just doing it perfunctorily? You should draw close to God in this matter. Drawing close to God means seeking the truth in this matter, seeking the way to practice, seeking the will of God, and seeking how to satisfy God. This is how to draw close to God in everything you do. It does not involve performing a religious ceremony or an outward action. It is done for the purpose of practicing in accordance with the truth after seeking God’s will. If you always say “Thank God” when you have not done anything, but then when you are doing something, you continue to do it the way you want, then this type of thanks is just an outward action. When fulfilling your duty or working on something, you should always think: How should I fulfill this duty? What is God’s will? It is for you to draw close to God through what you do, and, in doing so, to seek the principles and truth behind your actions as well as God’s will, and not stray from God in anything that you do. Only such a person truly believes in God. These days, whenever people come across things, regardless of what the actual situation is, they think they can do this and that, so they do not have God in their hearts, and they do it according to their own will. Regardless of whether their course of action is suitable or not, or whether it is in accordance with the truth or not, they just stubbornly press on, and act according to their personal intentions. It might usually seem that God is in their hearts, but when they do things, God is not in their hearts. Some people say, “I can’t draw close to God in the things I do. In the past, I was accustomed to performing religious ceremonies, and I tried to draw close to God, but it was to no effect. I could not draw near to Him.” Such people do not have God in their hearts; they only have themselves in their hearts, and they simply cannot put truth into practice in anything they do. Not acting in accordance with truth means doing things according to their own will, and doing things according to their own will means leaving God; that is, they do not have God in their hearts. Human ideas usually look good and right to people, and they appear as though they would not violate the truth very much. People feel that doing things in such a manner would be putting truth into practice; they feel that doing things that way would be submitting to God. Actually, they are not truly seeking God or praying to God about it, and they are not striving to do it well, in accordance with God’s requirements, in order to satisfy His will. They do not possess this true state, nor do they have such a desire. This is the greatest mistake people make in their practice. You believe in God, but you do not keep God in your heart. How is this not a sin? Are you not deceiving yourself? What sort of effects can you reap if you keep believing that way? Moreover, how can the significance of belief be manifested?
When you did a certain thing, God was very dissatisfied. When you were about to do that thing, did you pray to Him? Did you ever ponder, “How would this matter be viewed by God if it were brought before Him? Would He be happy or irritated if He knew about it? Would He detest it?” You did not seek it out, did you? Even if others reminded you, you would still think that the matter was no big deal, and that it did not run against any principles and was not a sin. As a result, this thing you did offended God’s disposition and provoked Him to great anger, even to the point of His despising you. If you had sought and examined, and seen the matter clearly before acting, would you then not have gotten a handle over it? Even though sometimes people are not in a good state, if they solemnly take everything they are planning on doing before God for investigation and seeking, they will not make any major mistakes. When practicing the truth, it is hard for people to avoid making mistakes, but if you know how to do things in accordance with the truth when you do them, yet you do not carry them out in accordance with truth, then the problem is that you have no love for the truth. The disposition of a person without love for the truth will not be changed. If you cannot accurately grasp God’s will, and do not know how to practice, then you should fellowship with others. If no one feels like they can see the matter clearly, then you should carry out the most reasonable solution. However, if you ultimately discover that in carrying it out this way you have made a slight error, then you should quickly correct it, and then God will not count this error as a sin. Because you had the right intentions when putting this matter into practice, and you were practicing in accordance with the truth and simply did not see it clearly, and your actions resulted in some errors, then this was an extenuating circumstance. However, nowadays many people merely rely on their own two hands to work and on their own minds to do this and that, and they seldom give any consideration to these questions: Does practicing this way conform to God’s will? Would God be happy if I did it this way? Would God trust me if I did it this way? Would I be putting the truth into practice if I did it this way? If God hears of this matter, would He be able to say, “You have done this correctly and suitably. Keep it up”? Are you able to carefully examine every matter you encounter? Can you be serious and meticulous about each of them? Or are you able to ponder whether God despises the way you are doing it, how everyone else feels about your methods, and whether you are doing it based on your own will or to satisfy your own desires…? You have to put more thought into it and seek more, and your mistakes will become smaller and smaller. Doing things in this manner will prove that you are a person who genuinely seeks the truth and that you are one who reveres God, because you are doing things in accordance with the direction that the truth requires.
Excerpted from “Seeking God’s Will Is for the Sake of Practicing the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Whatever you do, you must learn to seek and obey the truth in it. So long as you act in accordance with the truth, you are acting correctly. Even if it was a child who proposed it, or the most inconspicuous young brother or young sister, so long as what they say conforms to the truth, then what you are doing will have a good outcome, and it will conform to God’s will. The handling of a matter depends on your impulse and your principles for handling it. If your principles arise from man’s will; if they arise from human thoughts, notions, or imaginings; or if they arise from human emotions and points of view, then your handling of the matter will be wrong, because its source will be wrong. When your views are based on the principles of the truth, and you handle matters in accordance with the truth principles, then you are sure to handle the matter at hand correctly. Sometimes, other people will be unable to accept your handling of the matter at the moment, and, at such times, they may seem to have their own notions, or their hearts will be ill at ease. After a while, however, you will be proven right. Matters that conform to God’s will look better over time; the outcome of matters that do not conform to God’s will, however—matters that accord with man’s will and are man-made—grow worse over time, and will all be proven so. When you act, do not concern yourself with whose way should or should not guide you, and do not make assumptions. First of all, you should seek and pray, and then feel your way forward, and fellowship with everyone together. What is the purpose of fellowship? It enables one to do things in precise accordance with God’s will, and to act in line with God’s will. This is a somewhat grand way of putting it; let us say it enables one to handle affairs in precise accordance with the truth principles—this is somewhat more practical. If you can achieve this, that will do.
Excerpted from “The Path to Resolving a Corrupt Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks
In real life, you must pray whenever anything happens to you. At the very first instance, you must kneel and pray—this is crucial. Prayer demonstrates your attitude toward God in His presence. You would not do it if God were not in your heart. Some people say, “I pray but still God does not enlighten me!” You must not say that. First look at whether your motivations for prayer are right; if you truly seek the truth and often pray to God, then He may well enlighten you in some matter so that you may understand—in a word, God will make you understand. Without the enlightenment of God, you could not understand on your own: You lack the acumen, you do not have the brain for it, and this is unattainable by human intellect. When you do understand, is that understanding born of your own mind? If you are not enlightened by the Holy Spirit, then no one you ask will know what the meaning is of the Spirit’s work or what God means; only when God Himself tells you the meaning will you know. And so, the first thing to do when something happens to you is to pray. Prayer requires probing with a seeking attitude, and expressing your thoughts, opinions, and attitudes—this is what it should involve. Simply going through the motions will have no effect, so do not blame the Holy Spirit for not enlightening you. I have found that in some people’s faith in God, they go on believing, but God is only on their lips. God is not in their hearts, they deny the work of the Spirit, and they deny prayer as well; they merely read the words of God, and nothing more. Can this be called faith in God? They keep on and on believing until God disappears altogether from their faith. In particular, there are those who often handle general affairs, and feel they are so busy and get nothing for all their efforts. This is a case of people not walking the right path in their faith in God. Is it not hard work to take the right way? They fail to take this way even after understanding much doctrine, and are prone to take the downhill path. So when something happens to you, you must spend more time praying and seeking—this is the very least you should do. Learning how to seek the will of God and the intentions of the Holy Spirit is the key. If people who believe in God are incapable of experiencing and practicing thus, then they will gain nothing, and their faith will count for nothing.
Excerpted from “See All Things Through the Eyes of Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Prior to being nailed to the cross, the Lord Jesus offered a prayer. How exactly was it worded? (“If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as You will” “If this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Your will be done” (Mat 26:39, 42).) As members of created humanity, people should all undergo such a process of seeking, because they do not understand God’s will. This is a normal process. However, no matter how you seek, and no matter how long, arduous, or difficult the process of seeking might be, nothing God determined to do from the very beginning has ever changed, nor has He ever decided to change it. People may seek and wait, and God does permit them a process by which to gain understanding, knowledge, and clarity on what is actually true, but He would never alter a single decision. Therefore, you should not feel that things happen to you at random, or that, when you somehow escape disaster and certain death, it is dumb luck and coincidence. It is not. God has a preset plan and specific arrangements for every created being, from the greatest to the smallest, from the macroscopic, down to little, created mankind, and even microorganisms. This is what the Creator has worked. Some people who fall ill say their illness came from the exhaustion of some activity or from having eaten the wrong thing accidentally. Do not look for such reasons; they are all negative and resistant attitudes. You should face with positivity the environments, people, events, and things that God has arranged for you. There is no need to look for objective reasons; rather, you should understand from the positive side exactly what the Creator’s will and attitude are in presenting you with this event, and what attitude you should have as a created being when dealing with it; this is the path you must seek. When a person survives, it is never random, nor is it inevitable; the Creator’s arrangements, intentions, and sovereignty are always there. Nothing is hollow. Do you think God’s words, His will, and the truth are all hollow? They are not! When people have not grasped God’s will, they are prone to certain notions and imaginings, and they feel as if those notions and imaginings are quite right, and must be God’s will. In fact, from God’s perspective, this is not at all the case. People think, “These thoughts of mine are correct; I have a lot of faith, and I revere God. I have submitted; I love Him.” The truth is that God pays no heed at all to these thoughts and actions of yours. When you feel that you are in the right, you actually have not understood the truth at all, nor have you been gaining it. Once you have fathomed all of this, and become cognizant of the fact that, in the final analysis, everything is done by the Creator’s sovereignty, arrangement, and predestination, only then will the effects of all you have faced be truly achieved, only then will you be truly in line with God’s will, and only then will you truly understand it.
Excerpted from “Only by Seeking the Truth Can One Know God’s Deeds” in Records of Christ’s Talks
If a believer’s actions are out of touch with the truth, then he is the same as an unbeliever. This is the type of person who does not have God in his heart, and who leaves God, and such a person is like a hired worker in God’s family who does some odd jobs for his master, receives a little compensation, and then leaves. This is simply not a person who believes in God. Previously, there was mention of what you can do to gain God’s approval. Approval from God is the first thing you should think about and work for; it should be the principle and scope of your practice. The reason you should determine whether what you are doing is in line with the truth is that if it is in line with the truth, then it certainly conforms with God’s will. It is not that you should measure whether the matter is right or wrong, or if it accords with everyone else’s tastes, or if it is in line with your own desires; rather, you should determine whether it is in accordance with the truth, and whether or not it benefits the work and interests of the church. If you give consideration to these things, then you will be more and more in line with God’s will when you do things. If you do not consider these aspects, and merely rely on your own will when doing things, then you are guaranteed to do them incorrectly, because the will of man is not the truth and, of course, is incompatible with God. If you wish to be approved by God, then you must practice according to the truth rather than according to your own will. Some people engage in certain private matters in the name of fulfilling their duties. Their brothers and sisters then see this as inappropriate, and reproach them for it, but these people do not accept the blame. They think that because it was a personal matter that did not involve the church’s work, finances, or people, it therefore does not count as violating the scope of the truth, and God should not interfere in this matter. Some things might seem to you to be private matters that do not involve any principle or truth. However, looking at the thing you did, you were being very selfish in that you gave no consideration to the work of God’s family or how what you did would affect it; you were only considering your own benefit. This already involves the propriety of the saints, as well as issues to do with a person’s humanity. Even though what you were doing did not involve the interests of the church, nor did it involve the truth, engaging in a private matter while claiming to be performing your duty is not in line with the truth. Regardless of what you are doing, how big or small a matter is, and whether you are doing it to fulfill your duty in God’s family or for your own private reasons, you must consider whether what you are doing conforms with God’s will, as well as whether it is something that a person with humanity should do. If you seek the truth like that in everything you do, then you are a person who truly believes in God. If you devoutly treat every matter and every truth in this way, then you will be able to achieve changes in your disposition. Some people think that when they are doing something personal, they can just ignore the truth, do it as they wish, and do it in whatever way makes them happy and in whatever manner is advantageous to them. They do not give the slightest consideration to how it might affect God’s family, nor do they consider whether or not what they are doing befits saintly propriety. Finally, once they are finished with the matter, they grow dark inside and feel uncomfortable, though they do not know why. Is this retribution not deserved? If you do things that are not approved by God, then you have offended God. If someone does not love the truth, and frequently does things based on their own will, then they will frequently offend God. Such people are ordinarily not approved by God in what they do, and if they do not repent, then punishment will not be very far off.
Excerpted from “Seeking God’s Will Is for the Sake of Practicing the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks