One Cannot Be Saved by Believing in Religion or Engaging in Religious Ceremony (Part One)

Most people among you have escaped from religion and accepted God’s work of the last days. You eat and drink of God’s present words daily, attend the marriage feast of the Lamb, and have laid a foundation in the true way. You sincerely expend yourselves for God and have obtained His approval. Now, what knowledge and appreciation do you have regarding the concept of faith in God? How are they different from the understanding of faith in God you had within religion? As of now, do you truly understand what belief in religion and faith in God actually are? Is there a difference between belief in religion and faith in God? Where does the difference lie? Have you gotten to the bottom of these questions? What sort of person is the usual believer in religion? What is their focus? How should belief in religion be defined? Belief in religion is acknowledgment that there is a God, and believers in religion make certain changes to their behavior: They don’t hit or swear at people, they don’t do bad things that harm people, and they don’t commit various crimes or break the law. On Sundays, they go to church. These are believers in religion. This means that behaving well and often attending assembly is proof that someone believes in religion. When someone believes in religion, they acknowledge that there is a God, and they think that to believe in God is to be a good person; as long as they do not sin or do bad things, they’ll be able to go to heaven when they die and will have a good outcome. Their faith gives them sustenance on the spiritual level. As such, belief in religion can also be defined as follows: To believe in religion is to acknowledge, in one’s heart, that there is a God; to believe that they will be able to go to heaven when they die; to have in their heart a spiritual pillar; to change a bit in behavior; and to be a good person. That’s all there is to it. As for whether the God they believe in exists or not, whether He can express the truth, what He asks of them—they have no idea. They infer and imagine all of this based on the teachings of the Bible. This is belief in religion. Belief in religion is primarily the pursuit of behavioral changes and spiritual sustenance. But the path that such people walk—the path of pursuing blessings—has not changed. Their mistaken views, notions and imaginings about faith in God have not changed. The foundation of their existence, and the goals and direction that they pursue in their lives, are based on the ideas and opinions of traditional culture, and have not changed at all. Such is the state of everyone who believes in religion. So, what is faith in God? What is God’s definition of faith in God? (Belief in the sovereignty of God.) It is belief in the existence of God and His sovereignty—that is what’s most fundamental. To believe in God is to heed God’s words, to exist, live, perform one’s duty, and engage in all activities of normal humanity as God’s words require. The implication is that to believe in God is to follow God, to do what God asks, to live as He asks; to believe in God is to follow the way of God. Are the goals and direction of the lives of people who believe in God not completely different from those of people who believe in religion? What does faith in God involve? It involves whether or not people are able to listen to God’s words, accept the truth, cast off corrupt dispositions, drop everything to follow God, and be loyal in their duties. These things have a direct correlation with whether or not they can be saved. You now know the definition of faith in God; how, then, should faith in God be practiced? What does God require of believers in Him? (That they be honest people, and that they pursue the truth, dispositional transformation, and knowledge of God.) What requirements does God have for people’s outward behavior? (He requires that people be devout, not dissolute, and that they live out normal humanity.) People should have the basic decorum of a saint and live out normal humanity. What, then, must one be possessed of to have normal humanity? This relates to many truths that one must practice as a believer. Only in possessing all these truth realities does one have normal humanity. Does someone believe in God if they don’t practice the truth? What are the consequences of not practicing the truth? Just how should people believe in God in order to attain salvation, and submit to and worship God? All these things relate to practicing God’s words and practicing many truths. So, one must believe in God according to God’s words and His requirements, and they must practice according to His requirements; only this is true faith in God. This gets to the root of the matter. Practicing the truth, following the words of God, and living according to God’s words: This is the right way of human life; faith in God relates to the path of human life. Faith in God relates to so many truths, and followers of God must understand these truths. How could they follow God if they did not understand and accept the truth? People who believe in religion do no more than acknowledge that there is a God and trust that there is a God—but they do not understand these truths, nor do they accept them, so people who believe in religion are not followers of God. To believe in religion, it is fine merely to behave well externally, to be restrained and regulations-abiding, and to have spiritual sustenance. If one behaves well and has a pillar and sustenance for their spirit, does their path in life change? (No.) Some people say that belief in religion and faith in God are the same thing. Do those people follow God, then? Do they believe in God according to His requirements? Have they accepted the truth? If someone does none of these things, then they are not believers in God or followers of Him. The most obvious way that belief in religion manifests in someone is a lack of acceptance of God’s present work and the truth He expresses. This is the trait that characterizes believers in religion; they are not followers of God at all. Belief in religion is only a pursuit of behavioral change and spiritual sustenance; it does not involve any truth. Therefore, believers in religion will not be changed in their life disposition, nor will they practice the truth or be able to listen to God’s words and submit to Him. This determines that they will have no true knowledge of God, either. When a person believes in religion, however good their behavior, however firm their acknowledgment of God, and however elevated their theory of faith in Him, they are not a follower of God. Who is it they follow, then? The one they follow is still Satan. What is the basis for what they live out, pursue and yearn for, and practice? What does their existence depend on? Certainly not the truth in God’s words. They continue to live by the corrupt disposition of Satan, conducting themselves according to Satan’s logic and philosophy. Everything they say is lies, without even a bit of truth. Their satanic disposition has not undergone any change, and it is still Satan whom they follow. Their outlook on life, values, way of dealing with the world, and principles of conduct are all revelations of Satan’s nature. Only their outward behavior has slightly changed, but their life’s path, way of existing, and viewpoint on things have not changed at all. If someone is a true believer in God, what may change in them over the course of a few years? (Their outlook on life and values will change.) The very foundation of that person’s existence will change. If the foundation of their existence changes, what will be the basis for their life? (Their life will be based on God’s words and the truth.) So, are you now living every day in accordance with God’s words in your speech and actions? You no longer lie, for instance: Why is that? What is your basis for that? (God’s requirement that one is to be an honest person.) When you stop lying and engaging in deception, it is based on God’s words, the requirement to be an honest person, and the truth. And isn’t the path you’re then walking in life a different one?

Now, to summarize: What is belief in religion? What is faith in God? What are the main differences between the two? To believe in religion is to have conviction in a religion, to follow its regulations, to follow other people and Satan, and to live under the power of Satan. To have faith in God is to accept His words, to accept the truth, to submit to His work, and to perform one’s duty according to the truth principles. That’s what it is to follow God. These are the main differences between belief in religion and faith in God. As you perform your duties in God’s house, some of you accept the truth and change a bit, while others do not accept the truth and do not change. So, can you distinguish between those two sorts of people, those who believe in religion and those who have faith in God? The key is to look at whether a person pursues the truth and what path they choose to walk. If you pursue good behavior, spiritual sustenance, and adherence to regulations, and if you are out for personal gain in your pursuit, without pursuing the truth at all, but only the externalities of a good person, one who is possessed of some good behavior, but not the truth reality—how good can someone like you actually be? Such a person’s corrupt disposition and their nature essence haven’t changed at all. They may speak nicely, but when faced with trials, they cannot stand firm. They may even complain about God and betray Him. These are believers in religion. Those who have faith in God can accept all the truths He expresses. They can reflect and know themselves according to the truth, genuinely repent, and ultimately practice the truth, submit to God, and live by God’s words. When faced with trials and tribulations, they can stand firm, give wonderful testimony, and follow God loyally to the end. These are the true believers in God. This is the difference between those who believe in religion and those who have faith in God.

Are there any among you who believe at heart only in a vague God in heaven, yet always have notions about the incarnate God? If there are truly such people, then they are believers in religion. Believers in religion do not acknowledge the incarnate God in their hearts, and even if they do, they always have notions about Him and are never able to submit. Isn’t that so? Strictly speaking, such people are not believers in God. Although they may claim to believe in God, in reality, they aren’t much different from believers in religion. In their hearts, all they believe in is a vague God; they are abiders in religious notions and regulations. So, with anyone who does not pursue the truth, who focuses only on good behavior and adherence to regulations, who does not practice the truth, and whose disposition does not change in the slightest, what that person is doing is believing in religion. What feature distinguishes those who believe in religion? (They focus only on external practices and appearing to behave well.) What are the principles and basis for their actions? (Satanic philosophies for worldly dealings.) What satanic philosophies for worldly dealings and satanic, corrupt dispositions are there? Crookedness and deceitfulness; being a law unto oneself; arrogance and conceit; having the last word in all things; never searching for the truth or fellowshipping with the brothers and sisters; and when taking action, thinking always of one’s own interests, of one’s own pride, and status—all of this is acting based on a satanic disposition. It is following Satan. If one believes in God but does not heed His words, accept the truth, or submit to His arrangements and orchestrations; if they only exhibit certain good behaviors, but are unable to rebel against the flesh, and relinquish nothing of their pride or interests; if, though by appearances they are performing their duty, they still live by their satanic dispositions, and have not in the least given up or changed their satanic philosophies and modes of existence, how, then, could they possibly believe in God? That is belief in religion. Such people forsake things and expend themselves superficially, but to look at the path they walk and the origin and starting point of everything they do, they don’t base those things on the words of God or the truth; instead, they continue to act according to their own notions and imaginings, their subjective assumptions, and their ambitions and desires. The philosophies and dispositions of Satan still serve as the basis of their existence and actions. In matters where they do not understand the truth, they do not seek it; in matters where they do understand the truth, they do not practice it, honor God as great, or treasure the truth. Though they nominally and verbally believe in and acknowledge God, and though they may appear able to perform a duty and follow God, they are living by their satanic disposition in everything they say and do. The things they say and do are all revelations of a corrupt disposition. You won’t see them practicing or experiencing God’s words, much less manifestation of their seeking and submitting to the truth in all things. In their actions, they consider their own interests first, and fulfill their own desires and intents first. Are these people who follow God? (No.) And can people who do not follow God achieve change in their dispositions? (No.) And if they cannot achieve change in their dispositions, are they not pathetic? They have heard and understood God’s words, but when they do things, their own wishes are just too strong; they are incapable of practicing according to God’s words or according to the truth, much less according to principles. After several years of belief in God, they seem a lot more amenable and a lot more well-mannered. They have a lot of good behaviors, and their spiritual lives seem quite normal. There isn’t any great problem with how they interact with others, and they perform some duties, with some effect—but they have one problem, and it is the most serious of all. Where does this problem lie? In their minds. However many years they have believed, they have not established a normal relationship with God; no matter what they do or what happens to them, the first thing they think is: “What do I want to do; what would be in my interest, and what wouldn’t; what could happen if I did such-and-such”—these are the things they consider first. They give no consideration whatsoever to what sort of practice would glorify God and bear witness to Him, or satisfy God’s intentions, nor do they pray to seek what God’s requirements are and what His words say. They never pay attention to what God’s intentions or requirements are, and how people must practice in order to satisfy God. Though they may sometimes pray before God and fellowship with Him, they are merely talking to themselves, not sincerely seeking the truth. When they pray to God and read His words, they do not relate them to the matters they encounter in real life. So, in the environment arranged by God, how do they treat His sovereignty, arrangements, and orchestrations? When faced with things that do not satisfy their own desires, they avoid them and resist them in their hearts. When faced with things that cause a loss to their interests or prevent their interests’ satisfaction, they try every means to seek a way out, striving to maximize their own benefits and fighting to avoid any losses. They do not seek to satisfy God’s intentions, but only their own desires. Is this faith in God? Do such people have a relationship with God? No, they do not. They live in a base, sordid, intransigent, and ugly manner. Not only do they have no relationship with God, but they also go against God’s sovereignty and arrangements at every turn. They often say, “May God hold sovereignty over and govern everything in my life. I am willing to let God take the throne and reign and rule in my heart. I am willing to submit to God’s arrangements and orchestrations.” However, when the things they are faced with harm their own interests, they cannot submit. Instead of seeking the truth in an environment arranged by God, they seek to turn and escape from that environment. They do not want to submit to God’s arrangements and orchestrations, but to do things according to their own will, only insofar as their interests come to no harm. They completely disregard God’s intentions, caring only about their own interests, their own circumstances, and their own moods and feelings. Is this believing in God? (No.) What is God to them, in their hearts? Isn’t He a kind of legend? Isn’t He a kind of spiritual sustenance? God is an outsider and a stranger to them. When all is well, God is their Sovereign, their everything. But if what God does is not of profit to them, or causes damage to their interests, or to their dignity, causing them to be pruned or putting them through trials and suffering, how will they respond? They will escape, resist, refuse, and even complain. Some people may not say it out loud, but they feel pain, discomfort, and negativity in their hearts. What does it mean to be negative? It means they do not accept the truth in their hearts and are always resistant and rebellious against God. Some people do not accept trials and refinement, thinking that it’s not right of God to do such things. When faced with any of the hardship of arrest and persecution by the great red dragon, some people complain to themselves that God is being unfair to them. What do you think of this mindset? If they can so openly voice their complaints against God when what He does makes them suffer, can He still be the God they believe in? If they are unable to submit, then He is not their God, and they therefore dare to resist Him. They wish that there were another God apart from God, thinking, “Only if He makes real whatever I think and do, exactly according to my preferences—only then would He be God; only that would be His arrangement and orchestration. If God does not go along with my will, always acting contrary to my liking and imaginings, then I cannot submit to Him, and He is not my God. If He is God, He should satisfy people. Because people are the apple of God’s eye, God should do everything to protect and cherish them. How could He let them go through hardships, trials, and setbacks?” Is this not the attitude that most people have toward God in their hearts? This is indeed the case. For most people, when they have no problems, when everything is going smoothly for them, they feel that God is mighty, and righteous, and lovely. When God tests them, prunes them, chastens them, and disciplines them, when He asks them to put aside their own interests, to rebel against the flesh and practice the truth, when God does work on them, and orchestrates and reigns over their fates and their lives, their rebelliousness emerges, and there’s then a division between them and God, creating conflict and a gulf between them and God. At such times, in their hearts, God is not lovely in the least; He is not at all mighty, for what He does does not fulfill their wishes. God makes them sad; He makes them upset; He brings them pain and suffering; He makes them feel ill at ease. They therefore do not submit to God at all, instead rebelling against Him and shunning Him. In doing this, are they practicing the truth? Are they following the way of God? Are they following God? No. No matter how numerous your notions and imaginings about God’s work, and no matter how you previously acted according to your own will and rebelled against God, if you truly pursue the truth, and accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, and being pruned by them; if, in everything He orchestrates, you are able to follow the way of God, heed His words, learn to grasp His intentions, practice in accordance with His words and His desires, and are able to submit by means of seeking; and if you can let go of all your own will, desires, considerations, and intentions, and not be in confrontation with God, then you are following God. You may say you follow God, but if you do everything according to your own will, with your own aims and your own plans, without leaving it up to God, is God still your God, then? No, He’s not. If God is not your God, then, when you say you follow God, are these not empty words? Are such words not an attempt to fool people? You may say you follow God, but if all your actions and deeds, your outlook on life and values, and the attitude and principles with which you approach and handle matters all come from Satan—if you handle all this entirely in accordance with the laws and logic of Satan, are you then a follower of God? (No.) You see, when the Lord Jesus informed His disciples that He would suffer many hardships, be killed, and rise again on the third day, Peter said to the Lord Jesus, “Be it far from You, Lord: this shall not be to You” (Matthew 16:22). How did the Lord Jesus answer Peter? (“Get you behind Me, Satan” (Matthew 16:23).) What was the Lord Jesus’ definition of what Peter did at that time? (The work of Satan.) Why did He say this was the work of Satan? Is Peter Satan? Peter did not understand the significance of the Lord Jesus’ actions, nor did he recognize His identity. Therefore, he became a mouthpiece for Satan, speaking on its behalf, seeking to keep the Lord Jesus from following God’s will. From God’s perspective, Peter became a mouthpiece for Satan. If a person only outwardly appears to have forsaken everything and to have performed their duty, seeming to follow God, yet all their thoughts and all their actions are in accord with the logic and philosophy of Satan, are they truly a follower of God? (No.) They are not, because they constantly rebel against God, do not practice the truth, and do not submit to God. Why do they believe in God, then? What do they truly wish to gain? This defies conception. Are they genuine believers in God? No; to put it a bit more nicely, they are believers in religion. They may claim to have faith in God, but God does not acknowledge them. God will deem them evildoers, and He will not save such people.

Among this evil and corrupt humanity, those believers in religion are people who acknowledge the existence of God, who desire to be good people, to have good behavior, and to avoid doing bad things. They fear retribution if they engage in too much wrongdoing, and that they will go to hell and be punished and doomed forever. They think that being a good person makes for peace, as the saying goes among the nonbelievers: “The good have peaceful lives.” Influenced by such thinking and infected by such currents of thought, they consider their belief in religion to be a good thing; they think themselves better than those who do not believe, who do not even have spiritual sustenance, much less constraints. Those who do not believe do anything they please, and are capable of committing every evil deed in order to achieve their own aims. Such people have no destination to speak of, and their outcome after death will be hell. Those believers in religion also think, “Nonbelievers do not believe in the cycle of life and death or that there’s retribution for doing evil, that those who do will go to hell and be punished. They do not believe that God is sovereign over everything. But we who believe in religion are blessed by God and will attain eternal life after death.” They consider themselves to be noble people, set apart from the rest of mankind as holy people. Although their behaviors and thought patterns may undergo some changes, they just do not accept the truth. This is what it means to believe in religion. How can one transition from believing in religion to believing in God? This is not a simple matter. Those who have only just come to faith in God understand no truths. They only know that believing in religion is good, that it means being a good person. They cannot distinguish at all between believing in religion and believing in God. Therefore, transitioning from believing in religion to believing in God requires going through a phase until some truths are understood, which allows for some discernment. If after five or six years of believing in God, or even seven or eight years, you still live according to your satanic disposition, still following Satan, not accepting the truth at all, failing to practice even the truth you do understand, rejecting God’s work, and refusing to accept His pruning, judgment, and chastisement, as well as His sovereignty and arrangements, then your faith in God has lost meaning and value. The simplest way to describe faith in God is trusting there is a God, and, on this foundation, following Him, submitting to Him, accepting His sovereignty, orchestrations, and arrangements, heeding His words, living in accordance with His words, doing everything according to His words, being a true created being, and fearing Him and shunning evil; only this is true faith in God. This is what it means to follow God. If you say you follow God, but, in your heart, you do not accept God’s words, and maintain a doubtful attitude about them, and you do not accept His sovereignty, orchestrations, and arrangements, and you always have notions and misunderstandings about what He does, and complain about it, always dissatisfied; and if you are always measuring and approaching what He does with your own notions and imaginings; and if you always have your own thoughts and understandings—this will cause trouble. That is not experiencing God’s work, and it is no way to follow Him truly. It is not faith in God.

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