105. The Principles of Distinguishing Between the Pursuit of the Truth and Muddled Belief
(1) Determine whether someone focuses on eating and drinking of God’s words and accepting God’s judgment and chastisement, such that it brings them to true repentance and change, or whether one aimlessly follows others and thus idles away their days;
(2) Determine whether someone focuses on gaining an understanding of the truth, performing their duty well, and living out the reality of the truth, or whether they focus on externalities, adherence to rules, and action guided exclusively by notions and imaginings;
(3) Determine whether someone focuses on seeking the truth in all matters and using it to resolve their corruption, or whether they seek comfort and indulge their flesh, and are content simply to understand doctrine;
(4) Determine whether someone focuses on seeking the truth in performing their duty, putting it into practice, and acting according to the principles, or whether they are careless and perfunctory, attempting to deceive God and unrepentant unto death.
Relevant Words of God:
Though many people believe in God, few understand what faith in God means, and what they must do to conform to God’s will. This is because, though people are familiar with the word “God” and phrases such as “the work of God,” they do not know God, and still less do they know His work. No wonder, then, that all those who do not know God are muddled in their belief of Him. People do not take belief in God seriously, and this is entirely because believing in God is too unfamiliar, too strange for them. In this way, they fall short of God’s demands. In other words, if people do not know God, and do not know His work, then they are not fit for God’s use, and still less are they able to satisfy His will. “Belief in God” means believing that there is a God; this is the simplest concept as regards believing in God. What’s more, believing that there is a God is not the same as truly believing in God; rather, it is a kind of simple faith with strong religious overtones. True faith in God means the following: On the basis of the belief that God holds sovereignty over all things, one experiences His words and His work, purges one’s corrupt disposition, satisfies the will of God, and comes to know God. Only a journey of this kind may be called “faith in God.” Yet people often see belief in God as a simple and frivolous matter. People who believe in God in this way have lost what it means to believe in God, and though they may continue to believe until the very end, they shall never gain God’s approval, because they tread upon the wrong path. There are still those today who believe in God according to letters and in hollow doctrine. They do not know that they lack the essence of belief in God, and they cannot receive God’s approval. Still they pray to God for blessings of safety and sufficient grace. Let us stop, quiet our hearts, and ask ourselves: Can it be that believing in God really is the easiest thing on earth? Can it be that believing in God means nothing more than receiving much grace from God? Are people who believe in God without knowing Him or who believe in God and yet oppose Him really able to satisfy the will of God?
Excerpted from Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh
People believe in God chiefly in order to seek life; if you believe in God yet do not seek life or pursue the truth or the knowledge of God, then this is not belief in God! And is it realistic to still seek to enter the kingdom to be king? Achieving true love for God through seeking life—only this is reality; the pursuit and the practice of truth—these are all reality. Reading God’s words, and experiencing these words, you will come to grasp the knowledge of God amid actual experience, and this is what it means to truly pursue.
Excerpted from “The Age of Kingdom Is the Age of Word” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
All of mankind has been corrupted by Satan, and man’s nature is to betray God. However, among all the humans who have been corrupted by Satan, there are some who can submit to God’s work and accept the truth; these are the ones who can obtain the truth and achieve a transformation of disposition. There are also those who do not focus on seeking the truth. They are satisfied with merely understanding doctrines; they hear good doctrine and keep it, and after understanding it, they can perform their duties—to a point. These people do what they are told and have mediocre humanity. They are willing, to a certain extent, to expend, abandon worldliness, and endure suffering. However, they are not earnest with regard to the truth; they believe it is sufficient that they commit no sin, and are unable ever to understand the essence of the truth. If such people can stand firm in the end, then they can also be spared, but they cannot have their dispositions transformed. If you wish to be purified of corruption and undergo a change in your life disposition, then you must have a love for the truth and the ability to accept the truth. What does it mean to accept the truth? Accepting the truth indicates that no matter what sort of corrupt disposition you have, or which of the great red dragon’s poisons are in your nature, you acknowledge it when it is revealed by God’s words, and submit to these words; you accept them unconditionally, without making any excuses or trying to pick and choose, and you come to know yourself based on what He says. This is what it means to accept God’s words. No matter what He says, no matter how much His utterances might pierce your heart, and no matter what words He uses, you can accept them as long as what He says is the truth, and you can acknowledge them as long as they conform to reality. You can submit to God’s words regardless of how deeply you understand them, and you accept and submit to the light that is revealed by the Holy Spirit and fellowshiped by your brothers and sisters. When such a person has pursued the truth to a certain point, he can obtain the truth and achieve a transformation of his disposition.
Excerpted from “How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks
In summary, taking Peter’s path in one’s faith means to walk the path of pursuing the truth, which is also the path of truly getting to know oneself and changing one’s disposition. Only by walking the path of Peter will one be on the path of being perfected by God. One must be clear on how, exactly, to walk Peter’s path, as well as how to put it into practice. First, one must put aside one’s own intentions, improper pursuits, and even family and all things of one’s own flesh. One must be wholeheartedly devoted; that is, one must completely devote oneself to the word of God, focus on eating and drinking of God’s words, concentrate on the search for the truth and the search for God’s intentions in His words, and try to grasp God’s will in everything. This is the most fundamental and vital method of practice. This was what Peter did after seeing Jesus, and it is only by practicing in this way that one can achieve the best results. Wholehearted devotion to the words of God primarily involves seeking the truth, seeking God’s intentions within His words, focusing on grasping the will of God, and understanding and obtaining more truth from God’s words. When reading His words, Peter was not focused on understanding doctrines, much less was he focused on obtaining theological knowledge; instead, he concentrated on comprehending the truth and grasping God’s will, as well as achieving an understanding of His disposition and His loveliness. Peter also attempted to understand the various corrupt states of man from God’s words, as well as man’s corrupt nature and actual shortcoming, thus meeting all aspects of God’s requirements of man in order to satisfy Him. Peter had so many correct practices that abided by the words of God; this was most in line with God’s will, and it was the best way a person could cooperate while experiencing God’s work. When experiencing the hundreds of trials from God, Peter examined himself strictly against every word of God’s judgment of man, every word of God’s revelation of man, and every word of His demands of man, and strived to fathom the meaning of those words. He tried in earnest to ponder and memorize every word that Jesus said to him, and achieved very good results. Through this manner of practicing, he was able to achieve an understanding of himself from God’s words, and he not only came to understand the various corrupt states of man, but also came to understand man’s essence, nature, and various shortcomings. This is what it means to truly understand oneself. From God’s words, Peter not only achieved a true understanding of himself, but from the things expressed in God’s words—God’s righteous disposition, what He has and is, God’s will for His work, His demands of mankind—from these words he came to know God completely. He came to know God’s disposition, and His essence; he came to know and understand what God has and is, as well as God’s loveliness and God’s demands for man. Although God did not speak back then as much as He does today, results in these aspects were nevertheless achieved in Peter. This was a rare and precious thing. Peter went through hundreds of trials, but did not suffer in vain. He not only came to understand himself from the words and the work of God, but he also came to know God. In addition, he particularly focused on God’s requirements of mankind within His words. In whichever aspects man should satisfy God to be in line with God’s will, Peter was able to put forth great effort in these aspects and achieve full clarity; this was extremely beneficial with regard to his own entry. No matter what God spoke of, as long as those words could become his life and they belonged to the truth, Peter was able to carve them into his heart to ponder and appreciate them frequently. After hearing the words of Jesus, he was able to take them to heart, which shows that he was especially focused on God’s words, and he truly achieved results in the end. That is, he was able to freely put the words of God into practice, accurately practice the truth and be in line with God’s will, act entirely in accordance with God’s intention, and give up his own personal opinions and imaginations. In this way, Peter entered into the reality of God’s words.
Excerpted from “How to Walk the Path of Peter” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Anything in Peter’s life that did not satisfy God’s desire made him feel uneasy. If it did not satisfy God’s desire, then he would feel remorseful, and would look for a suitable way by which he could strive to satisfy God’s heart. In even the smallest and most inconsequential aspects of his life, still he required himself to satisfy God’s desire. He was no less exacting when it came to his old disposition, ever rigorous in his requirements of himself to progress deeper into the truth. … In his belief in God, Peter sought to satisfy God in everything, and sought to obey all that came from God. Without the slightest complaint, he was able to accept chastisement and judgment, as well as refinement, tribulation and going without in his life, none of which could alter his love for God. Was this not the ultimate love for God? Was this not the fulfillment of the duty of a creature of God? Whether in chastisement, judgment, or tribulation, you are always capable of achieving obedience unto death, and this is what should be achieved by a creature of God, this is the purity of the love for God. If man can achieve this much, then he is a qualified creature of God, and there is nothing which better satisfies the desire of the Creator. Imagine that you are able to work for God, yet you do not obey God, and are incapable of truly loving God. In this way, not only will you not have fulfilled the duty of a creature of God, but you will also be condemned by God, for you are someone who does not possess the truth, who is incapable of obeying God, and who is disobedient to God. You only care about working for God, and do not care about putting the truth into practice or knowing yourself. You do not understand or know the Creator, and do not obey or love the Creator. You are someone who is innately disobedient to God, and so such people are not beloved by the Creator.
Excerpted from “Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
At present there are many people who believe in a confused manner. You have too much curiosity, too much desire for blessings, and too little aspiration to seek life. People nowadays are full of enthusiasm in their belief in Jesus. Jesus is going to take them back to the heavenly home, so how can they not believe? Some people are believers their entire lives; even after having had faith for forty or fifty years, they still never tire of reading the Bible. This is because they think[a] that no matter what happens, as long as they have faith, they will get into heaven. You have followed God along this path for only a few years, yet already you have faltered; you have lost your endurance, because your desire to gain blessings is too strong. Your walking this true way is governed by your desire to obtain blessings and by your curiosity. You do not have much understanding at all regarding this stage of work. Much of what I am saying today is not directed at those who believe in Jesus, nor am I saying it just to counter their notions. Actually, these notions being exposed are the very ones that exist within you, for you do not understand why the Bible has been put aside, why I say that the work of Jehovah has grown old, or why I say that Jesus’ work has grown old. The fact is that you harbor many notions to which you have not given voice, as well as a lot of views enclosed deep within your hearts, and you just follow the crowd. Do you really think you do not harbor many notions? It is simply that you do not speak of them! Actually, you only follow God perfunctorily, you do not at all come to seek the true way and you have not come with the intention of gaining life. Your attitude is one of simply wanting to see what will happen. Because you have not let go of many of your old notions, there is not one amongst you who has been able to fully offer themselves up. Having arrived at this point, you continue to worry about your own fate, with your thoughts churning day and night, never able to let it go.
Excerpted from “You Must Understand the Work—Do Not Follow in Confusion!” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Some people follow along and pursue with energy, and are willing to practice when God speaks, but when God does not speak, they no longer move forward. People still have not understood God’s will within their hearts and they do not have spontaneous love for God; in the past they followed God because they were forced. Now there are some people who are tired of God’s work. Are such people not in danger? A lot of people exist in a state of just coping. Although they eat and drink God’s words and pray to Him, they do so half-heartedly, and they no longer have the drive that they once had. Most people are not interested in God’s work of refinement and perfection, and indeed it is as if they are constantly without any internal drive. When they are overcome by transgressions, they do not feel indebted to God, nor do they have the awareness to feel remorse. They do not pursue the truth or leave the church, and instead pursue only temporary pleasures. These people are fools, utterly stupid! When the time comes, they will all be cast out, and not a single one will be saved! Do you think that if someone has been saved once they will always be saved? This belief is pure deception! All those who do not pursue entry into life will be chastised. Most people have absolutely no interest in entering into life, in visions, or in putting the truth into practice. They do not pursue entering in, and they certainly do not pursue entering in more deeply. Are they not ruining themselves? Right now, there is a portion of people whose conditions are constantly improving. The more the Holy Spirit works, the more confidence they gain; the more they experience, the more they feel the profound mystery of God’s work. The deeper they enter in, the more they understand. They feel that God’s love is so great, and they feel steady and enlightened within themselves. They have an understanding of God’s work. These are the people in whom the Holy Spirit is working. Some people say: “Although there are no new words from God, I must still seek to go deeper into the truth, I must be earnest about everything in my actual experience and enter into the reality of God’s words.” This kind of person possesses the work of the Holy Spirit. Although God does not show His countenance and is hidden from every single person, and though He does not utter a word and there are times that people experience some internal refinement, yet God has not completely left people. If a person cannot retain the truth that they should carry out, they will not have the work of the Holy Spirit. During the period of refinement, of God not showing Himself, if you do not have confidence but instead cower away, if you do not focus on experiencing His words, then you are fleeing from God’s work. Later, you will be one of those who are cast out. Those who do not seek to enter into the word of God cannot possibly stand as a witness for Him. People who are able to bear witness for God and satisfy His will are all entirely reliant upon their drive to pursue God’s words. The work that God performs in people is primarily to allow them to gain the truth; having you pursue life is for the sake of perfecting you, and this is all to make you suitable for God’s use. All you are pursuing now is hearing mysteries, listening to God’s words, feasting your eyes, and looking around to see if there is some novelty or trend, and thereby satisfying your curiosity. If this is the intention in your heart, then there is no way for you to meet God’s requirements. Those who do not pursue the truth cannot follow until the very end. Right now, it is not that God is not doing something, but rather that people are not cooperating with Him, because they are tired of His work. They only want to hear words that He speaks to bestow blessings, and they are unwilling to hear the words of His judgment and chastisement. What is the reason for this? The reason is that people’s desires to gain blessings have not been fulfilled and they therefore have become negative and weak. It is not that God purposely does not allow people to follow Him, nor is it that He is purposely delivering blows to mankind. People are negative and weak only because their intentions are improper. God is the God that gives man life, and He cannot bring man into death. People’s negativity, weaknesses, and backsliding are all caused by their own doing.
Excerpted from “You Should Maintain Your Devotion to God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
If you have no knowledge of God’s work, you will not know how to cooperate with God. If you do not know the principles of God’s work, and are unaware of how Satan works in man, you will have no path to practice. Zealous pursuit alone will not allow you to achieve the results demanded by God. Such a means of experiencing is akin to that of Lawrence: making no distinctions whatsoever and only focusing on experience, utterly unaware of what Satan’s work is, of what the work of the Holy Spirit is, of what state man is in without the presence of God, and what kind of people God wants to perfect. What principles should be adopted when dealing with different types of people, how to grasp God’s will in the present, how to know God’s disposition, and at which people, circumstances, and age God’s mercy, majesty, and righteousness are directed—he has no discernment in any of these. If people do not have multiple visions as a foundation for their experiences, then life is out of the question, and experience even more so; they can foolishly continue submitting to and enduring everything. Such people are very difficult to make perfect. It can be said that if you have nothing of the visions spoken of above, this is ample proof that you are a cretin, you are like a pillar of salt always standing in Israel. Such people are useless, good for nothing! Some people only ever submit blindly, they always know themselves and always use their own ways of conducting themselves when dealing with new matters, or they use “wisdom” to deal with trivial matters unworthy of mention. Such people are devoid of discernment, and it is as if their nature is to resign themselves to being picked on, and they are always the same; they never change. People like this are fools who lack even the slightest discernment. They never try to take measures appropriate to the circumstances or to different people. Such people do not have experience. I have seen some people who are so bound up in their knowledge of themselves that when confronted with people possessed by the work of evil spirits, they lower their heads and confess their sins, not daring to stand up and condemn them. And when faced with the obvious work of the Holy Spirit, they do not dare to obey. They believe that evil spirits are also in the hands of God, and have not the slightest courage to stand up and resist them. Such people bring shame to God, and are utterly incapable of bearing a heavy burden for Him. Such fools do not make distinctions of any kind. Such a means of experiencing, therefore, should be purged, for it is untenable in the eyes of God.
Excerpted from “On Experience” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Some people put a lot of enthusiasm into their pursuit and yet fail to enter onto the right track. This is because they are too careless and pay no attention to spiritual things. They have no idea how to experience God’s words, and do not know what the work and presence of the Holy Spirit are. Such people are enthusiastic but foolish; they do not pursue life. That is because you lack the slightest bit of knowledge of the Spirit, you know nothing of development in the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work, and you are ignorant of the state within your own spirit. Is the faith of such people not a foolish kind of faith? The pursuit of such people ultimately yields nothing. The key to achieving growth in life in one’s faith in God is knowing what work God does in your experience, beholding the loveliness of God, and understanding the will of God, such that you defer to all of God’s arrangements, have God’s words wrought into you so that they become your life, and thereby satisfy God. If your faith is a foolish faith, if you pay no heed to spiritual matters and to changes in your life disposition, if you exert no effort toward the truth, will you be able to grasp God’s will? If you do not understand what God asks, then you will be incapable of experiencing, and will thus have no path to practice. What you must pay attention to as you experience God’s words is the effect they produce in you, so that you may come to know God from His words. If you only know to read God’s words, but do not know how to experience them, does this not show that you are ignorant of spiritual matters? Right now, most people are incapable of experiencing God’s words, and thus they do not know the work of God. Is this not a failing in their practice? If they carry on like this, at what point will they be capable of experiencing things in their rich fullness and achieving growth in their lives? Does this not amount merely to empty talk? There are many among you who focus on theory, who know nothing of spiritual matters, and yet still wish to be put to great use by God and to be blessed by God. This is totally unrealistic! Thus, you must put an end to this failing, so that you may all enter onto the right track in your spiritual lives, have real experiences, and truly enter into the reality of God’s words.
Excerpted from “How to Enter Into a Normal State” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
All the things that arise each day, big or small, that can shake your resolution, occupy your heart, or restrict your ability to do your duty and your forward progress require diligent treatment; they should be examined carefully and their truth sought. These are all things that happen within the realm of experience. Some people quit their duties when negativity befalls them, and are unable to crawl back to their feet after each setback. All these people are fools who do not love the truth, and they would not gain it with even a lifetime of faith. How could such fools follow to the end? If the same thing happens to you ten times, but you gain nothing from it, then you are a mediocre, useless person. Astute people and those of true caliber who understand spiritual matters are seekers of the truth; should something happen to them ten times, then, in perhaps eight of those cases, they would be able to gain some inspiration, learn some lesson, attain some enlightenment, and make some progress. When things befall a fool ten times—one who does not understand spiritual matters—not once will it benefit their life, not once will it change them, and not once will it cause them to understand their nature, and that’s the end for them. Each time something happens to them, they fall down, and each time they fall down, they need someone else to support them and coax them; without support and coaxing, they cannot rise. If, each time something happens, they are in danger of falling, and if, each time, they are in danger of being degraded, is this not the end for them? Are there any other grounds for such useless people to be saved? God’s salvation of mankind is a salvation of those who love the truth, a salvation of the part of them with will and resolve, and the part of them that is their yearning for truth and righteousness in their heart. A person’s resolve is the part of them in their heart that yearns for righteousness, goodness, and truth, and is possessed of conscience. God saves this part of people, and through it, He changes their corrupt disposition, so that they may understand and gain the truth, so that their corruption may be cleansed, and their life disposition may be transformed. If you do not have these things within you, you cannot be saved. If, within you, there is no love for the truth or aspiration for righteousness and light; if, whenever you encounter evil, you have neither the will to cast off evil things nor the resolve to suffer hardship; if, moreover, your conscience is numb; if your faculty for receiving truth is also benumbed, and you are unattuned to the truth and to events that arise; and if you are undiscerning in all matters, and unable to handle or resolve things on your own, then there is no way to be saved. Such a person has nothing to recommend them, nothing worth working on. Their conscience is numb, their mind is muddied, and they do not love the truth, nor yearn for righteousness deep in their heart, and, no matter how clearly or transparently God speaks of the truth, they do not respond, as if they were already dead. Aren’t things over for them? A person with a breath left in them may be saved by artificial respiration, but, if they have already died and their soul has left, artificial respiration will do nothing. If, whenever you encounter a problem, you shrink from it and try to avoid it, this means you have not borne witness; as such, you can never be saved, and you are completely done for. When an issue befalls you, you must have a cool head and a correct approach, and you must make a choice. You should learn to use the truth to resolve the issue. At normal times, what is the use of understanding some truths? It is not to fill your belly, and it is not merely to give you something to say, nor is it to resolve the problems of others. More importantly, its use is to resolve your own problems, your own difficulties—only after you resolve your own difficulties can you resolve the difficulties of others. Why is it said that Peter is a fruit? Because there are things of worth in him, things worth perfecting; he was resolved to seek the truth and was firm of will; he had reason, was willing to suffer hardship, and loved the truth in his heart, and he did not let go of what came to pass. These are all strong points. If you have none of these strong points, it means trouble. You are incapable of experience and have none, and you cannot resolve the difficulties of others. This is because you do not know how to enter. You are confused when things befall you; you feel distressed, weep, become negative, run away, and, no matter what you do, you are unable to handle them correctly.
Excerpted from “Confused People Cannot Be Saved” in Records of Christ’s Talks
When it comes to your faith in God, in addition to performing your duty properly, what is key is to understand the truth, enter the reality of the truth, and make more effort to enter into life. When something happens to you, do not let it slip past you; when you encounter an issue and have certain thoughts, or manifest certain behaviors, and you feel something is wrong but still cannot say just what is going on, and do not know how to practice in this matter, you must speak up and fellowship it with everyone; if you discover something is a problem, you must fellowship on it. When you fellowship on this, you will unconsciously have fewer and fewer questions and doubts, and will understand more and more truths, and thus your stature will grow without you even being aware of it. You must try harder when it comes to the truth, you must put your heart into it. Some people say, “I have believed in God for several years and understood much doctrine. I now have a foundation. Now, life in our church overseas is good, the brothers and sisters gather to fellowship matters of faith in God all day long, and I am thus nourished without even realizing it—and that’s enough. I don’t need to put effort into solving the problems of my own entry into life, or problems of my own rebelliousness. Each day, I abide by my schedule to pray, eat and drink the words of God, sing hymns, and perform my duty. I do the work I ought to, not one thing less, and ultimately, my life unconsciously grows.” That is what people think who are muddled in their faith. The path of faith in God is the most realistic path of all; those who affect a high-sounding tone but never do anything real will gain nothing. Which people gain something? Those who are down-to-earth. These people are able to grasp certain key things on the path of their faith in God, they are pragmatic, and they are down to earth in everything they do and when they consider everything they do, when they face everything head on, and when they enter every truth. They are not people who affect a high-sounding tone or only focus on doing. Instead, they experience everything that happens to them with their hearts, they put their heart into all they do, after which they gain understanding after each thing that happens. When they have a difference of opinion, or at certain exceptional times, they have a lesson to draw on. This is what someone with heart is, and this is the kind of person that will ultimately gain the truth. People who are absent-minded are ultimately incapable of gaining the truth; they only focus on exerting themselves physically, on doing, on showing themselves off, and will have great difficulty gaining the truth. Reflect on this: Just what kind of person is able to enter the reality of the truth? People who are grounded, people who use their hearts, who have a heart. In one regard, such people focus more on reality, on things that are real; in addition, they are more pragmatic, they love positive things, they love the truth, and they love things that are real. Such people will ultimately be able to understand and gain the truth.
Excerpted from “Entry Into Life Is Most Important to Faith in God” in Records of Christ’s Talks
God is willing to perfect each and every one of you. As it stands now, although most people have already accepted the work of God for a very long time, they have limited themselves to merely basking in the grace of God, and are only willing to allow God to give them a little comfort of the flesh, yet are unwilling to receive more, and higher, revelations. This shows that the heart of man is still always on the outside. Even though the work of man, his service, and his heart of love for God have fewer impurities, as far as his inner essence and his backward thinking are concerned, man still constantly seeks the peace and enjoyment of the flesh, and cares nothing for what the conditions for and purposes of God perfecting man may be. And so, the lives of most people are still vulgar and decadent. Their lives have not changed in the slightest; they simply do not regard faith in God as a matter of importance, it is as if they just have faith for the sake of others, going through the motions and getting by any old how, adrift in a purposeless existence. Few are those who are able to seek to enter into the word of God in all things, gaining more and richer things, becoming people of greater wealth in the house of God today, and receiving more of God’s blessings. If you seek to be perfected by God in all things, and are able to receive what God has promised on earth, if you seek to be enlightened by God in all things and do not let the years slip idly by, this is the ideal path to enter actively. Only thus will you become worthy and eligible to be perfected by God.
Excerpted from “Promises to Those Who Have Been Perfected” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
a. The original text does not contain the phrase “they think.”