Only by Resolving One's Notions Can One Embark on the Right Track of Belief in God (3) Part One

Today we continue to fellowship about the issue of notions. We’ve previously fellowshipped this issue twice, and today we will fellowship it once more to conclude. Regarding what was fellowshipped before, you should communicate among yourselves afterward, and then ponder and experience these things bit by bit. These topics can’t be fully comprehended in just a day or two; one can only gradually come to understand them by experiencing and feeling them out in life. What you can now bring forth based on memory alone is merely rote learning. Eating and drinking God’s words requires experience; only after undergoing real-life experience for some time can one have genuine understanding and appreciation. People’s notions mainly consist of their notions about God and God’s work. These two types of notions most affect people’s pursuit, the way they view matters, their understanding of and attitude toward God, and even more so the path they walk in believing in God, as well as the direction and objectives they choose for their lives. From our previous two fellowships, can you now define exactly what is meant by notions? Imaginings about belief in God are a type of notion. These imaginings are primarily manifested in some superficial behaviors in people’s speech and conduct, as well as details of their daily life, such as eating, clothing, housing, and transport. This is the most elementary level. Going a step further, there are some imaginings about one’s pursuit in believing in God and the path one walks in doing so, as well as some of people’s demands, imaginings, and misunderstandings involving God’s work. What do these misunderstandings include? Why are they called misunderstandings? When we say misunderstanding, it’s definitely not a proper thought. Rather, it is something that does not coincide with facts, is inconsistent with the truth, and incompatible with and contrary to God’s work and God’s disposition; or something of human will conceived out of people’s notions, imaginings, and knowledge, having nothing whatsoever to do with God Himself or God’s work. When these kinds of notions, imaginings, misunderstandings, and demands arise, it means that people’s notions about God and God’s work have reached their peak. What becomes of the relationship between people and God at this point? (A barrier forms between them.) There is a barrier between people and God; is this a serious issue? (Yes.) When such a barrier is formed, it means people’s notions and imaginings are very severe. When a barrier forms between people and God, it means they are dissatisfied with some of the things God has done, they no longer want to confide in God, treat God as God, or submit to God. They begin to question God’s righteousness and disposition. What manifestations immediately follow this? (Resistance.) If people do not seek the truth, this misunderstanding not only creates a barrier in their hearts but also immediately leads to resistance—resistance to the truth, to God’s words, and to God’s sovereignty. They become dissatisfied with what God has done, saying, “What You’re doing is inappropriate; I neither approve nor agree with it!” The implicit message is, “I can’t submit; this is my choice. I want to voice a dissenting view, I want to voice an opinion that is different from God’s words, from the truth, and from God’s demands.” What kind of behavior is this? (They are clamoring.) Following resistance, clamor and opposition arise; this is an escalation. When one’s corrupt disposition takes charge, a single notion can create a barrier and misunderstandings between them and God. If this is not resolved promptly through seeking the truth, the barrier grows larger, becoming a thick wall. You no longer see God or His true existence, let alone His divine essence. You start to doubt whether the incarnated God is really God, you lose interest in eating and drinking the word of God, and you no longer want to pray to God. In this way, your relationship with God becomes increasingly distant. Why can people exhibit such behaviors? Because they feel that what God has done has hurt their hearts, harmed their dignity, and humiliated their personhood. Is this really the case? (No.) What’s actually going on then? (It’s because people’s desires have not been satisfied, and the situation they’ve encountered has touched upon their own interests.) It is because people have a corrupt disposition; when their extravagant desires are not instantly met, they become resistant to God and extremely dissatisfied that He has worked in a way that does not align with human notions. They do not admit, nor do they accept, that what God is doing is the truth, is God’s love, and is for the purpose of saving people. They develop notions and misunderstandings about what God has done, which means their corrupt disposition is in control. After these barriers arise, what are the manifestations of all kinds of corrupt dispositions that people reveal when they live by notions? They do not seek, wait, or submit, much less do they fear God or repent. They first scrutinize and judge, and then they condemn, and finally comes the resistance. Aren’t these behaviors the exact opposite of positive manifestations like seeking, waiting, submitting, accepting, and repenting? (Yes.) Then these behaviors are all obverse things. They are the revelation of a corrupt disposition; it is their corrupt disposition that is controlling their actions and thoughts, as well as their attitude, intentions, and views toward judging people, events, and things. When people engage in scrutinizing, analyzing, judging, condemning, and becoming resistant, what is the next step they take? (Opposition.) Then comes opposition. What are some manifestations of opposition? (Being negative, giving up one’s duties.) Being negative is one; they slacken at work in a negative way, and give up their duties. What else? (Spreading notions.) (Making judgments.) Making judgments, spreading notions, these are all some manifestations of clamoring against and opposing God. What else? (They may betray God, and betray the true way.) That’s the most serious of all; when someone reaches this point, their devilish nature surfaces completely, utterly denying and betraying God, and at any moment they could turn away from God.

Just now, what were the various manifestations of behaviors that clamor against and oppose God? (Slackening at work in a negative way, giving up one’s duties.) (Judging God.) Judging God and His work. (Then comes spreading notions, and finally, betraying God.) Let’s go into more detail. Is there any complaining involved in spreading notions? (Yes.) Sometimes spreading notions is mixed with complaining, stuff like, “What God does is not righteous,” “I believe in God, not in people,” and “I believe that God is righteous.” These words carry undertones of complaint. Slackening in a negative way, spreading notions, and judging God are all rather serious behaviors, but the most serious is betrayal. These four are quite obvious, quite serious, and are of the nature that directly resists God. What are some specific manifestations within these behaviors that you can think of, have seen, or have even done yourselves? (There’s also incitement; to vent dissatisfaction with God, some incite even more people to oppose Him.) This is a manifestation of spreading notions. Are there those who outwardly appear submissive, but during prayers say, “Let God reveal it; what I am doing is right, all will be revealed in time; I know God is righteous”? These words may sound correct, even confidently justified, but they hide insubordination and dissatisfaction toward God. This is mental opposition, it is negative slackening and negative opposition. Are there other aspects? (In the case of negative slackening, there is also abandoning oneself to despair and throwing up their hands in frustration, believing that this is just how they are, that this is just their nature; they think no one can save them, so if God wants to destroy them, then so be it.) This is a form of silent opposition; their actual state is negative, thinking that God’s actions are incomprehensible and that people cannot truly grasp them, so whatever God wants to do, let Him do it. On the surface, it seems like they have submitted to God’s orchestrations and arrangements, but in actuality, deep down in their hearts, they profoundly resist God’s arrangements, and are especially dissatisfied and insubordinate. They have already acknowledged that this is God’s doing and don’t make any further demands; why then say that this is an oppositional sentiment? Why characterize it this way? In fact, in their consciousness, they don’t want to condemn this matter either, they don’t want to make a determination that says, “What God has done is wrong; I do not accept it. I can submit to other things God has done, but not this. In any case, I will slacken at my work in a negative way because of this.” In their subconscious, their state is not like this, they don’t have this awareness; in their heart, they are just somewhat defiant, dissatisfied, or indignant. Some people might even condemn God’s actions as wrong, but from the depths of their hearts, in terms of their subjective desires, they do not actually want to condemn God in their consciousness, since, after all, what they believe in is God. So why say that this behavior is oppositional, that it is negative slackening, and that it carries elements of negativity? Negativity itself is a form of resistance and opposition, and it has several manifestations. Firstly, when people develop states like giving up in despair and slackening in a negative way, can they be aware in their hearts that these states are wrong? (Yes.) Everyone can be aware of this, except those who have believed for only two or three years and rarely hear sermons; they don’t understand these matters. But as long as one has believed in God for at least three years, frequently hears sermons, and understands the truth, they can have this awareness. When people realize that such states are wrong, what should they do to avoid being oppositional? First, they must seek. Seek what? Seek why God has orchestrated things this way, why such situations have befallen them, what God’s intentions are, and what they should do. These are positive, these are the manifestations people should have. What else? (Accept, submit, and let go of one’s own ideas.) Is it easy to let go of your own ideas? (No.) If you think you’re right, you won’t be able to let go of them. To reach the point of letting go, there are steps involved. So what practices are most appropriate and suitable for this? (Prayer.) If your prayer consists of only a few hollow sentences, and you’re just going through the motions, the problem won’t be solved. You pray, “Oh God, I wish to submit; please arrange and orchestrate my circumstances such that I can submit. If I still cannot submit, then correct me.” Does uttering a few empty sentences like this make your wrong state change? It doesn’t change it at all. You need a method of practice to effect a turnaround. So how can you practice to turn things around? (One should actively seek God’s intentions, internally admit that God is right and they are wrong, and be able to deny themselves.) These are two methods of practice: actively seeking God’s intentions, and internally admitting God is right and oneself is wrong. Both of these methods are quite good, they both say the right things, but one is most practical. Which one is practical? Which is empty talk? (Actively seeking God’s intentions is practical.) Often, God will not directly tell you His intentions. Furthermore, He will not suddenly shine a light of understanding on you. Nor will He lead you to precisely eat and drink the relevant words of God that you should understand. These methods are all too unrealistic for people. So, can this approach of actively seeking God’s intentions be effective for you? An effective method is the best method; it is the most realistic and practical method. An ineffective method, no matter how good it sounds, is theoretical and only stays at the level of words and does not yield results. So which one is practical? (The second one, admitting that God is the truth and oneself is wrong.) Right, admitting your mistakes—this is having reason. Some people say they don’t realize they are wrong. In this case, you should be reasonable and able to let go of and deny yourself. Some people say, “I used to think I was right, and I still think so now. Moreover, many people approve of and agree with me, and I don’t feel any reproach in my heart. Besides, my intention is right, so how can I be wrong?” There are several reasons preventing you from letting go of and denying yourself. What should you do in this case? Regardless of whatever reasons you have for thinking you are right, if this “right” conflicts with God and goes against the truth, then you are simply wrong. No matter how submissive your attitude is, regardless of how you pray to God in your heart, or even if you verbally admit you are wrong but deep down still struggle against God and live in a state of negativity, the essence of this is still opposing God. This proves you still haven’t realized that you are wrong; you do not accept the fact that you are wrong. When people develop misunderstandings and notions about God, they first must acknowledge that God is the truth and that people do not have the truth, and it is certainly they who are mistaken. Is this a kind of formality? (No.) If you only adopt this practice as a formality, superficially, then can you come to know your own mistakes? Never. Coming to know yourself requires several steps. First, you must determine whether your actions are in line with the truth and with principles. Do not look at your intents at first; there are times when your intents are correct but the principles you practice are wrong. Does this kind of situation occur often? (Yes.) Why do I say that your principles of practice are wrong? You may have sought, but perhaps you have no understanding at all of what principles are; perhaps you have not sought at all, and have based your actions solely on your good intentions and enthusiasm, and on your imaginings and experience, and as a result, you have made a mistake. Can you envision that? You cannot anticipate it, and you’ve made a mistake—and have you not then been revealed? If you keep contending with God after being revealed, where does the error in this lie? (It lies in not acknowledging that God is right, and insisting that I am right.) That’s how you erred. Your greatest mistake was not that you did something wrong and violated the principles, thereby causing a loss or other consequences, but that, having done something wrong, you yet persist in your own reasoning, unable to admit your error; you still oppose God based on your notions and imaginings, denying His work and the truths He expressed—this was your greatest and most serious mistake. Why is it said that such a state in a person is one of opposition to God? (Because they don’t acknowledge that what they are doing is wrong.) Whether or not people recognize that everything God does and His sovereignty are right, and what their significance is, if they cannot first recognize that they themselves are wrong, then their state is one of opposition to God. What is to be done to rectify this state? First, one must deny oneself. What we just said about needing to first seek God’s intentions is not so practical for people. Some say, “If it isn’t so practical, then does that mean seeking isn’t necessary? Some things that can be sought and understood don’t need to be sought—I can just skip that step.” Will this do? (No.) Is one who acts in this manner not beyond saving? Such people have distortions in their comprehension. Seeking God’s intentions is a bit distant and cannot be achieved immediately; for a shortcut, it’s more realistic to first let go of oneself, knowing that one’s actions are wrong and not in line with the truth, and then seek the truth principles. These are the steps. They may seem simple, yet putting them into practice presents many difficulties, for humans have corrupt dispositions as well as all manner of imaginings, all manner of demands, and they have desires as well, all of which interfere with people denying themselves and letting go of themselves. These are not easy things to do. We won’t delve deeper into this topic; let’s continue discussing the issue of notions, which we visited in our last two fellowships.

Just now, the main focus of our fellowship was how notions can lead to misunderstandings about God, which in turn form a barrier between people and God, and this barrier leads them to develop resistance to God. What is the nature of this resistance? (Opposition.) It is opposition, rebelliousness. Therefore, when people develop opposition toward God and clamor against Him, this is not something that happens overnight; it has roots. It’s like when a person suddenly discovers they’ve become sick, and that the illness is very serious; they wonder how the condition progressed so quickly. In actuality, the illness was present in the body for a long time and already had roots—it was not contracted on the day it became apparent; rather, that was only the day when they discovered it. What do I mean by saying this? Is the ability to rebel against God, to oppose Him, to clamor against Him something everyone can predict when they first start believing in God? Absolutely not. Is this the initial intention in believing in God of every person who eventually clamors against and opposes Him? Has anyone ever said, “I don’t believe in God for blessings; I just want to clamor against God and be oppositional after seeing Him, so that then I’ll become famous and make a big name for myself, and my life will have been worthwhile”? Has anyone ever had such plans? (No.) No one has ever planned this way, not even the most foolish, stupid, or evil person. People all want to believe in God sincerely, to be good, to listen to God’s words and do whatever God asks of them. Although they cannot achieve absolute submission to God, they can at least meet God’s minimum requirements and satisfy God to the best of their ability. What a good wish that is—how did it end up with them clamoring against and opposing God? People themselves feel unwilling and don’t know how this came about. When it comes to clamoring against and opposing God, they feel bad and upset inside, thinking, “How could people do this? Even if others act this way, I shouldn’t have acted this way!” It’s just like Peter said: “Though all men shall be offended because of You, yet will I never be offended” (Matthew 26:33). The words Peter spoke came from his heart, but his behavior could not live up to his wishes and aspirations. Human weakness is something people themselves cannot anticipate. When some situation actually befalls them, their corruption is exposed. One’s nature essence and corrupt disposition can control and dictate their thoughts and behavior. With a corrupt disposition, various notions can arise, along with different desires and demands, leading to all kinds of rebellious behavior. This directly impacts one’s relationship with God and directly influences one’s life entry and dispositional transformation. These are not people’s intentions when they first set out to believe in God, nor are they what people are willing and hoping to do in their hearts. Such consequences are attributed to people’s notions about God. If these notions are not resolved, one’s prospects, fate, and destination may all become problematic.

To resolve one’s misunderstandings about God, one must resolve their notions about God, about God’s work, about the essence of God, and about the disposition of God. To resolve these notions, one must first understand, know, and recognize them. So what exactly are these notions? This brings us back to the main topic. We must start with some practical examples to address these notions and manifestations of people, making God’s intentions apparent from these instances, allowing people to see, deep within God’s heart, what His disposition and essence are and how He treats people, as well as how people imagine He should treat them, and allowing them to distinguish, clarify, and compare these latter two perspectives, which can lead to an understanding and acceptance of the way God treats and rules over people, and an understanding and acceptance of God’s essence and disposition. Once people have a clear understanding of the way God rules people and of His work, they will no longer conceive notions about God. The barrier between God and them will also disappear, and oppositional or clamoring states directed at God will no longer arise in their hearts. These issues of rebelliousness and resistance against God can be directly resolved through reading God’s words and fellowshipping the truth. No matter which aspect of notions is being addressed, it must begin with reading God’s words and fellowshipping the truth. Everything must be connected with the truth, everything involves the truth. So what are these notions that people have? Let us start by discussing God’s work, using specific examples to make clear the principles behind God’s work, and the principles and methods by which God treats and rules people. An example might touch on the method of God’s work; it may also touch on the method by which God classifies an individual and His determination of their outcome; or it may touch upon God’s disposition and essence. To clarify these points, if we were to speak in an empty way about what God is like, what God has done and how He’s treated people over His six thousand years of work—do you think that would be appropriate? Could you easily receive that? Or if we talked about how, for instance, God has been working for six thousand years, and in the second phase of His work, He operated in Judea; and we discussed how God treated the Jewish people then, and how we can observe God’s disposition from this—would that make it easy to understand? (No.) For instance, if we talked about how God rules this world: how He treats people of various ethnicities, what God thinks, how He demarcates their territories, and why He divides them in different locations—in particular, why some good people are located in less-than-ideal places, while some evil people are in much better places, and what principles God employs in allocating things this way, and saw God’s methods for ruling humankind from this topic—would that make it easy to understand? (No.) Aren’t these topics quite distant from people’s dispositional transformations and life entry in daily life? Aren’t they quite abstract? (Yes.) Why do we say they are distant and abstract? Because in real life, only understanding truths related to visions, such as the details of how God rules and guides humankind, seems a bit far removed from the problems we face in our day-to-day lives, and not particularly relevant. To address real-world problems, we must start from examples that you can hear, see, and feel in your lives, and then broaden your insight from there. Regardless of what stories I tell, or which people and events these stories involve—even if they may relate to things you have done in the past—the ultimate effect these stories have is to help you understand truths related to the topic being discussed today. Every story told serves a purpose, and is related to the value it’s meant to convey and the truth it expresses.

Let us begin our story. This is Case One. A long time ago, a church sent over a bottle of cough syrup, explaining: “God always talks to us and preaches, and sometimes coughs when speaking too much. To make God’s preaching smoother and to reduce coughing, we’re sending some cough syrup.” When the bottle arrived, a man saw it and said: “This is said to be cough syrup, but who knows what it really treats. We can’t just give it to God to drink—it might be harmful. This is medicine; every medicine has some toxins. There could be side effects for drinking it!” Those who heard him thought, “He’s being quite considerate. Well, we can’t give it to God then.” At the time, I didn’t need it, so I thought to keep it for later, and the matter was left at that. But does the story end here? No, the story of this medicine began that day. One day, someone discovered that this same man had been drinking the cough syrup himself, and by the time he was discovered, only half of it remained. What happened next can be easily guessed; he finished it all. That’s the story itself. Ponder what this has to do with the notions that we’re discussing today. First of all, tell Me: Does the story shock you, trigger you? (Yes.) What are your thoughts after hearing it? What triggered you? Generally, those who are triggered will think, “Oh my, this was something offered to God; how could someone drink it?” That’s the first thing that triggers them. The second thing is, “He kept drinking it. I can’t believe he drank it all!” Besides being triggered, what else can you think of? Regarding what this person did—all of these behaviors of his; that is, every single event in this entire story—do you consider what God’s reaction might be? What would God do? What should God do? How should God treat such a person? And isn’t this where human notions start to arise? Let’s put aside the content of what triggered you, and talk about whether this experience of being triggered itself could be of any benefit. In being triggered, people merely feel a certain discomfort in their conscience, but can’t speak clearly about the event in the story. Next, there may arise condemnation and reproach directed at the individual in the story which are rooted in ethics, morals, theological theories, or words and doctrines, but these things are not the truth. If we want to get at the truth, it’s the human notions formed regarding the event itself, or the demands regarding what God should do—these are the issues that need resolving. In this story, the notions and thoughts people have about what God should do in such a situation are crucial. Don’t just focus on your emotional reaction; being triggered by something can’t resolve your rebelliousness. If one day you find something in God’s offerings that you particularly like or need, and you’re very tempted, you could take it for yourself too; in that case you wouldn’t feel triggered at all. Your being triggered now is merely a function of conscience, a result of the moral standards of humanity; it is not a function of the truth. When you can resolve the notions that arise from this situation, you will understand the truth in this situation. You will have resolved any notions and misunderstandings you have toward God in such matters, and in these kinds of situations, you will understand the truth and gain something. So now, think about what kinds of notions people might develop in this situation. Which of these notions might lead you to misunderstand God, to form a barrier between you and Him, or even to oppose Him? This is what we should be fellowshipping. Tell Me, when this event took place, did this man feel any reproach in his conscience? (No.) How can you tell he felt no reproach? (He drank all of the cough syrup.) This is quite easy to analyze, isn’t it? From the first sip to the last, he showed no restraint and didn’t stop. If he had taken a taste and then stopped, that would have counted as feeling self-reproach, because he would have stopped, restrained himself and not continued. But this man didn’t do that; he drank the whole bottle from beginning to end. If there was more, he would have continued drinking. This shows that he felt no reproach whatsoever in his conscience; this is looking at it from a human perspective. Now, how does God view this matter? This is what you should understand. From how God treats this situation, how He evaluates and defines it, you can see God’s disposition, God’s essence, and also discern the principles and methods by which God operates. At the same time, it might reveal some human notions, causing people to say, “So this is God’s attitude toward people; this is how God handles people. I didn’t think this way before.” The fact that you didn’t think this way reveals the barrier between you and God, that you can develop misunderstandings about God, and that you have notions about the way God works and operates in this regard. So, how did God handle it when faced with this situation? The man said, “This is medicine; all medicine has some toxicity. We can’t let God drink it; there might be side effects.” What was the intention, the purpose behind his words? Were these truthful or false words? They were not truthful; they were deceptive, false, and disingenuous. His subsequent actions and what he revealed made it clear what was going on in his heart. Did God do anything about his false words and actions? (No.) How do we know that God didn’t do anything? When he spoke those words, he was not sincere; he was being false. God was just watching from the sidelines, neither performing the positive work of guidance nor the negative work of reproach. Sometimes, people feel reproach in their conscience—that is God at work. Did this man feel reproach at the time? (No.) Not only did he not feel reproached, but he also spoke in a high-sounding manner. God did not reproach him; He was simply watching. Why would God watch? Was He watching to see how the facts would unfold? (No.) Not necessarily. Right when a person faces a situation, before making a choice about what to do or forming any facts, does God understand that person? (Yes.) God understands not just their surface but the inner heart—whether their heart is good or evil, genuine or false, what their true attitude toward God is, whether they have God in their heart, whether they have genuine faith—God has already known these things; He has conclusive evidence, and is ever observing. What did God do after this man said this? First, God did not reproach him; second, God did not enlighten him or make him aware that this was an offering, that humans should not carelessly touch it. Does God need to explicitly tell people to have this awareness? (No.) This awareness should be present in normal humanity. Some may say, “Some people just don’t know. You wouldn’t tell them? Won’t they know if You just tell them? Not knowing exempts one from sin—right now, they don’t know; if they knew, they wouldn’t have made this mistake, right? Wouldn’t this be protecting them?” Did God act this way? (No.) Why didn’t God act this way? On one hand, that man should have known the concept that “this is an offering to God, humans cannot touch it.” On the other, if he didn’t know, why didn’t God tell him? Why didn’t God make him aware to prevent him from doing such a thing and facing such consequences? Wouldn’t telling him better reveal God’s sincerity in saving people? Wouldn’t it better reveal God’s love? So why didn’t God do this? (God wanted to reveal him.) Yes, God wanted to reveal him. When you are faced with situations, it is not by accident that you are faced with them. A certain situation could mean your salvation, or it could mean your destruction. During these times, God is watching, remaining silent, not orchestrating any circumstances to prompt you, nor enlightening you with words like, “You mustn’t do this; the consequences would be unimaginable,” or “Doing it this way lacks reason and humanity.” People have no such awareness. The lack of such awareness is, in one sense, because God didn’t give them any prompting at that moment—God didn’t act. In another sense, if a person does have conscience and possesses some measure of humanity, would God then act upon such a foundation? (Yes.) That’s right. God would bestow such grace upon them. But why did God ignore this particular situation? One reason is that this man lacked conscience and reason, had no dignity, no integrity, and no normal humanity. He did not pursue these things; he did not have God in his heart and was not a true believer in God. So, God wanted to reveal him through this situation. Sometimes God revealing someone is a form of salvation, and sometimes it is not—God intentionally acts this way. If you are someone with conscience and reason, God’s revealing you serves as a trial and a form of salvation. But if you lack conscience and reason, God’s revealing you will mean being eliminated and destroyed. So, looking at it now, what did it mean for God to reveal this man? It meant being eliminated; it was not a blessing but a curse. Some people say: “He made such a big mistake, and it’s quite shameful. From when he started secretly drinking the cough syrup, couldn’t God have arranged some circumstances to get him to stop so that he wouldn’t make this mistake and therefore wouldn’t need to be eliminated?” Is this what God did? (No.) How did God act? (He let the situation take its own course.) God let things take their own course—this is one of His principles. Once he opened the bottle of cough syrup, was there any difference in nature between the first sip he took and the last sip? (No.) Why was there no difference? (He is just that type of person in essence.) This situation thoroughly revealed his humanity, his pursuit, and his faith.

In the Old Testament age, Esau traded his birthright for a bowl of red stew. He was unaware of what was important and valuable: “What’s the big deal about a birthright? If I trade it, it won’t make a difference; I’ll still be alive, won’t I?” This is what he thought in his heart. It might seem that his approach to the problem was rather realistic, but what he lost was God’s blessing, and the consequences of that are unimaginable. Now, in the church, there are many people who do not pursue the truth. They do not take God’s promises and God’s blessings seriously. Is this not the same in nature as forfeiting one’s birthright? Is it not even more serious? Because God’s salvation of people is a one-time opportunity; if someone misses this opportunity, it is all over. There was even one person who was ultimately eliminated just for the sake of a bottle of cough syrup, something he traded for the outcome of being destroyed; this is simply unfathomable! Actually, though, there isn’t anything unfathomable about it. Why do I say that? This event might seem like a minor thing. If such an event occurred among people, it wouldn’t be considered much. Like committing a crime, such as stealing or causing injury to others, at most you’d be punished after death and then be reborn as a human through several cycles of reincarnation. It wouldn’t matter much. But is the situation I’m talking about now as simple as this? (No.) Why do we say it isn’t simple? Why is this situation worth discussing? Let’s start with this bottle of cough syrup. Actually, this bottle of cough syrup was not something of great value, but once it was offered up to God, its essence changed; it became an offering. Some people say, “Offerings are consecrated; offerings do not belong to people; people should not touch offerings.” Saying this is also correct. What is an offering? An offering is something a person devotes to God; no matter what it is, such things are all referred to as offerings. Since they belong to God, they no longer belong to man. Whatever is devoted to God—be it money or material things, and whatever its value—belongs entirely to God, and is not at man’s disposal, nor is it his to use. How might God’s offerings be conceptualized? They belong to God, only He may dispose of them, and, prior to obtaining His approval, none may touch those things or have designs on them. There are those who say, “If God isn’t using something, why aren’t we allowed to use it? If it were to go bad after a while, wouldn’t that be a shame?” No, not even then; this is a principle. Offerings are things that belong to God, not to man; big or small, and whether or not they are valuable, once man has devoted them to God, their essence has changed, regardless of whether God wants them. Once a thing has become an offering, it is among the possessions of the Creator and at His disposal. What does the way one treats offerings involve? It involves one’s attitude toward God. If a person’s attitude toward God is one of impertinence and disdain, and of insouciance, then that person’s attitude toward all the things God owns will certainly be likewise. There are some who say, “Some offerings have no one looking after them. Doesn’t that mean they belong to whoever is in possession of them? Whether or not anyone knows it, it’s ‘finders, keepers’; whoever gets his hands on those things is their owner.” What do you think of that view? Quite clearly, it is incorrect. What is God’s attitude toward offerings? No matter what is offered to God, and whether or not He accepts it, once something has been designated as an offering, any person with further designs on it may wind up “stepping on a landmine.” What does this mean? (It means offending God’s disposition.) That’s right. You all know this concept, but why don’t you recognize the essence of this matter? So, what does this matter tell people? It tells them that God’s disposition brooks no offenses by humans, and that they are not to fiddle with His things. God’s offerings, for instance—if a person were to take them as their own, or to waste and squander them, then they would be liable to offend God’s disposition and be punished. God’s fury has its principles; it is not as people imagine it, with God lashing out at anyone who makes a mistake. Rather, God’s fury is triggered when someone offends God in crucial, important matters. Especially when it comes to treating God’s incarnation and God’s offerings, people must demonstrate caution and have a God-fearing heart; only in this way can they be sure not to offend God’s disposition.

Some people have faith in their belief in God and are able to expend themselves and pay the price, performing well in all aspects except for one. Seeing the abundant resources in God’s house, and knowing that God’s chosen people offer not just money but also food, clothing, and various medicines, among other things, such a person thinks, “God’s chosen people offer so many things to God, and God alone can’t use all of this. Although some are needed for spreading the gospel, it still won’t all be used. How should these items be handled? Perhaps the leaders and workers ought to share in some of it?” He becomes anxious and agitated about this issue, feeling a “burden” inside, and begins to ponder, “Now that I am in charge of these items, I should use some. Otherwise, won’t all these offerings go to waste when the world is obliterated? Distributing them to leaders and workers is fair. Everyone in God’s house is equal; since we have dedicated ourselves to God, then God’s things are also ours, and ours are God’s. It’s not a big deal if I enjoy some of God’s offerings; it’s part of God’s blessing anyway. I might as well just go ahead and use some.” With such thoughts, he becomes tempted. His desires inflate bit by bit and he begins to covet the offerings, starting to take items without feeling any reproach in his heart. He thinks no one will know, and comforts himself by saying, “I’ve expended myself for God; enjoying some offerings isn’t a big deal. Even if God knows, He will forgive me. I’ll just enjoy some now.” As a result, he starts to steal the offerings, offending God’s disposition. On the surface, he finds many excuses for himself, such as, “These things will go bad after a while if they’re not consumed! God alone can’t use all of these, and if they were distributed evenly, there would be too many people and not enough to go around. Why don’t I manage it? Moreover, what if all this money can’t be spent by the end of the world? We should each take on a share, which also reflects God’s love and grace! Although God hasn’t stated this, and there’s no such principle, why not be proactive? This is acting according to principles!” He concocts many high-sounding reasons and then starts taking action. But once he starts, things get out of hand, and there is less and less reproach in his heart. He may even feel that it’s justified, thinking, “If God doesn’t need it, I should use it. This is not a real problem.” This is where things go wrong. What do you think, is this a big deal or not? Is it serious? (Yes.) Why do we say it’s serious? Is this issue worth fellowshipping? (Yes.) What makes it worth fellowshipping? (It involves God’s disposition and also concerns man’s outcome and destination.) The issue is significant, its nature severe. Now, what is it that I should warn you about? Never entertain the idea of taking offerings. Some people say, “That’s not right; offerings made by brothers and sisters are meant for God’s house, for the church. This makes them everyone’s communal property.” Is this statement correct? How does such a statement come about? Out of man’s greed, a theory like this is concocted. What else does this issue involve? There’s something we haven’t yet touched on—what is it? Some think, “God’s house is a big family. To reflect a good family, there should be love and tolerance; everyone should share food, drink, and resources, and all of these things should be distributed equally. For instance, everyone should have clothing, and it should be distributed and enjoyed equally. God does not show favoritism; if someone can’t even afford socks and God has some extra pairs, He should offer them relief. Furthermore, those offerings of God’s come from the brothers and sisters; God already has so much, shouldn’t some be distributed to the poor? Wouldn’t this reflect God’s love?” Do people think like this? Are these not human notions? People forcefully claim God’s property while euphemistically labeling it as God’s grace, God’s blessings, and God’s great love. They always want to evenly divide things with God, wanting to split everything equally, always pushing for egalitarianism. They think this is a symbol of universal unity, of human harmony, and a fulfilling existence, and consider this a state of affairs that ought to be manifested. Are these not human notions? Especially in God’s house, they think nobody should go hungry. If someone is hungry, God should use His offerings for relief; God should not ignore the matter. Isn’t this “should” that people believe a type of notion? Isn’t it a human demand on God? Some people, after believing in God, say, “I’ve believed in God for so many years and have gained nothing; my family is still in poverty. This shouldn’t happen; God should be kind to me, should bless me so that I can better glorify God.” Because your family is poor, you don’t pursue the truth; you hope to change your impoverished conditions through belief in God, and use glorifying God as an excuse to bargain with Him. These are human notions and imaginings; they are man’s extravagant desires. Is believing in God with such motives not a form of bargaining with God? Do those who bargain with God have conscience and reason? Are they people who submit to God? Absolutely not. These people lack conscience and reason, don’t accept the truth, are spurned by God, and are unreasonable people who cannot attain God’s salvation.

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