XVII. One Must Fellowship Clearly How to Discern Between the Reality of the Truth and Bible Knowledge and Doctrine
2. What will the consequence be if one believes in God by relying on the theological knowledge in the Bible?
Bible Verses for Reference:
“This people draws near to me with their mouth, and honors me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mat 15:8-9).
“For the letter kills, but the spirit gives life” (2Co 3:6).
Relevant Words of God:
The more people speak words and doctrines, the further they stray from God, and the more incapable they become of knowing the essence of man, and the more they disobey God, and the further they depart from God’s requirements.
from “Interpretation of the Sixteenth Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Why is it that most people have spent much effort reading God’s words but only have knowledge and cannot say anything about a real path afterward? Do you think that having knowledge amounts to having the truth? Isn’t that a confused point of view? You are able to speak as much knowledge as there is sand on a beach, yet none of it contains any real path. In this, are you not fooling people? Are you not all hat and no cattle? Acting in this way is harmful to people! The higher the theory, the more it is devoid of reality, and the more it is incapable of taking people into reality; the higher the theory, the more it makes you defy and oppose God. Do not treat the most lofty theories like precious treasure; they are pernicious, and serve no use! Maybe some people are able to talk of the most lofty theories—but such theories contain nothing of reality, for these people have not personally experienced them, and thus they have no path to practice. Such people are incapable of taking man onto the right track, and will only lead people astray. Is this not harmful to people? At the very least, you must be able to solve the present troubles and allow people to achieve entry; only this counts as devotion, and only then will you be qualified to work for God. Do not always speak grandiose, fanciful words, and do not bind people and make them obey you with your many unsuitable practices. Doing so will have no effect, and can only increase people’s confusion. Leading people this way will produce many pieces of regulation, which will make people loathe you. This is man’s shortcoming, and it is really insufferable.
from “Focus More on Reality” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
And what is this little bit of knowledge? It is all theory! If you were to present this knowledge before God, it would merely amount to a few pleasantries; you would be paying lip service and saying something evasive to package yourself—yet what is inside you has still not changed. You are full of too many impurities and deceits. Thus, people nowadays have become ever more skillful at resisting God, rebelling against God, and deceiving God. They have gained a little foundation in theories, some theoretical knowledge, and some understanding of certain superficial, external things. And some people, having grasped certain rules, feel even more that they are in possession of capital, believing that such things cannot count as resisting God. The more they find themselves in this state, the more in danger they become. The more man understands the truth, the more thorough a grasp he has of his actual internal conditions, and the more he is able to grow humble and submit; as such, he stops needing to be dealt with and pruned by other people. As you can see, after performing work for a period of time, people have grasped some theories, and then they have learned which theories are needed to handle which states, and come to know under what circumstances they need to use such theories to deal with and prune others, as well as to suppress, deter, and label them. The more man is adept at performing such work, the more arrogant he becomes. What does this prove? People have gone astray, and the path they are treading is not the right path; not a path that seeks the truth. Even though you are doing work and running around while maintaining the church life in the lower levels, everything you do is actually resisting the truth. It all goes against the truth, yet you are clueless! If you take one look at some of the things the new believers are doing, it becomes clear that they are resisting. Some of the things they say are spoken recklessly and without comprehension, they blindly pass judgment on things they do not understand, and they carelessly talk about matters of which they have no knowledge. This is obvious resistance. Once people have grasped some theories, they cannot be conscious of those hidden resistances, hidden deceits, hidden violations of the truth, conflicts, and betrayals. They assume that such things are natural, that this is how they should act, that acting this way is sufficient, and that they are worthy of God. They are satisfied with themselves, and ultimately, they are walking the path that Paul has walked, and are far from Peter’s path. Isn’t that right?
Many among you, after having performed work for some time without being dealt with and without attending gatherings, would be unable to control yourselves in the lower levels. You then would say, “Goodness! Man is really hard to handle. I really can’t get a grasp on my own nature; I know what I am, but at some point I would do such things….” Look at how shamelessly people speak! “At some point I would do such things!” Why would you do such things? You are not equipped with truths in these areas, so it is inevitable that you do such things. Some say: “I know all that God does has meaning. However, when something happens, while I am able to understand it in theory, I am unable to accept it in reality.”[a] Why are you unable to accept it? You never had this truth, you have never come in contact with it, you have never given it any thought, you do not know that it is the truth, and you are unable to understand that this is the truth; as a result, you resist. Therefore, a mere understanding of theory does not equate an understanding of the truth: Theory cannot replace truth. On the contrary, the more theory you understand, the more you will resist. It is like a rubber band which will not break when pulled, yet it also cannot be stretched any further. Now, there are those below who can talk theories better than you, regardless of whether they are new believers or they have believed for a long time. This is the general situation of those at the lower levels. Even the new believers can understand the bit of theory that you talk about, and they can talk about it in outline. “Poor caliber,” “bad humanity,” “bad disposition”; “don’t be negative, look at the time we are in”; “the day of God is almost upon us, yet you still dare to be negative”; “God has already arrived yet you still dare to be negative”; “how arduous is God’s work of salvation, yet you still do not love God”; “God’s will has already been laid out, yet you do not strive to seek, you are not someone who seeks truth”; “humans really do not love the truth”; and so on—these simple phrases that are always on your lips have become catchphrases. Is this not a dangerous condition? I think all of you are at risk. Once the next step of work has begun, and no one pays attention to you, you will all fall by the wayside; if each of you were to lead a region or an area, you would then become a king of the hill.[b] Each region would do things according to your own set of methods. On the surface, you would communicate with each other and consult each other about some problems, but underneath, you would each act according to your own intentions, and after a while you would end up following that path. This is inevitable, because the goal that you are pursuing is wrong and you are heading in the wrong direction. When you believe in God and follow God, if you do not seek the truth, even if I keep talking to you every day, even if you keep on taking daily notes on theories, and even if you keep on memorizing them every day and working on your foundation in theories, if you have never focused on practical aspects and have never entered into them, then all that you do will merely be a waste of time. So many people followed Jesus, yet how many of them stuck with Him? How many understood His will? Did they not all fall by the wayside in the end? How many understood? The more people “understand,” the more confused they become!
from “Theoretical Understanding Can Never Replace an Understanding of the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Your knowledge can only provide for people for a while. As time goes on, if you keep saying the same thing, some people will be able to tell; they’ll say you’re too superficial, too lacking in depth. You’ll have no option but to try and deceive people by speaking doctrines. If you always carry on like this, those below you will follow your methods, steps, and model for believing in God and experiencing, and they’ll put those words and doctrines into practice, and ultimately, as you talk in this way, they’ll use you as an exemplar. You take the lead to speak doctrines, and those below you will learn doctrines from you, and as things progress you will have taken the wrong way. Those below you follow your path, and they all learn from you and follow you, so you feel: “I am powerful now; so many people listen to me, and the world is at my beck and call.” This nature of betrayal within man unconsciously makes you turn God into a mere figurehead, and you yourself then form some denomination, some sect. How do denominations and sects arise? They arise in this way. Look at the leaders of every denomination and sect. They are all arrogant and self-right, and they interpret the Bible out of context and according to their own imagination. They all rely on gifts and erudition to do their work. If they were incapable of preaching anything, would those people follow them? They do, after all, possess some learning, and can speak a little of doctrine, or know how to win over others and how to use some artifices, through which they have brought people before themselves and have deceived them. Nominally, those people believe in God—but in reality they follow their leaders. If they encounter those who preach the true way, some of them would say, “We have to consult him about our belief in God.” See how they require someone’s consent to believe in God; is that not a problem? What have those leaders become, then? Have they not become Pharisees, false shepherds, antichrists, and stumbling blocks to people’s acceptance of the true way?
from “Only the Pursuit of the Truth Is the True Belief in God” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Every day they seek traces of Me in the Bible, and find “suitable” passages at random that they read endlessly, and which they recite as scriptures. They do not know how to be compatible with Me, do not know what it means to be in enmity of Me, and merely read scriptures blindly. They constrain within the Bible a vague God that they have never seen, and are incapable of seeing, and take it out to look at during their spare time. They believe in My existence only within the scope of the Bible. For them, I am the same as the Bible; without the Bible there is no Me, and without Me there is no Bible. They pay no heed to My existence or actions, but instead devote extreme and special attention to each and every word of Scripture, and many of them even believe that I should not do anything I wish to do unless it is foretold by Scripture. They attach too much importance to Scripture. It can be said that they see words and expressions as too important, to the extent that they use verses from the Bible to measure every word I say, and to condemn Me. What they seek is not the way of compatibility with Me, or the way of compatibility with the truth, but the way of compatibility with the words of the Bible, and they believe that anything that does not conform to the Bible is, without exception, not My work. Are such people not the dutiful descendants of the Pharisees? The Jewish Pharisees used the law of Moses to condemn Jesus. They did not seek compatibility with the Jesus of that time, but diligently followed the law to the letter, to the extent that they ultimately nailed the innocent Jesus to the cross, having charged Him with not following the law of the Old Testament and not being the Messiah. What was their essence? Was it not that they didn’t seek the way of compatibility with the truth? They obsessed over each and every word of the Scripture, while paying no heed to My will and the steps and methods of My work. They were not people who sought the truth, but people who rigidly followed the words of Scripture; they were not people who believed in God, but people who believed in the Bible. Essentially, they were watchdogs of the Bible. In order to safeguard the interests of the Bible, and uphold the dignity of the Bible, and protect the reputation of the Bible, they went so far as to nail the merciful Jesus onto the cross. This they did merely for the sake of defending the Bible, and for the sake of maintaining the status of each and every word of the Bible in people’s hearts. So they preferred to forsake their future and the sin offering to condemn Jesus, who did not conform to the doctrine of Scripture, to death. Were they not lackeys to each and every word of Scripture?
And what of people today? Christ has come to release the truth, yet they would rather expel Him from among man in order to gain entry into heaven and receive grace. They would rather completely deny the coming of the truth in order to safeguard the interests of the Bible, and would rather nail the Christ returned to flesh to the cross again in order to ensure the everlasting existence of the Bible. … Man searches for compatibility with words, with the Bible, yet not a single person comes before Me to seek the way of compatibility with the truth. Man looks up to Me in heaven, and devotes particular concern to My existence in heaven, yet no one cares about Me in the flesh, for I who live among man am simply too insignificant. Those who only seek compatibility with the words of the Bible, and who only seek compatibility with a vague God, are a wretched sight to Me. That is because what they worship are dead words, and a God that is capable of giving them untold treasures. What they worship is a God that lays himself at the mercy of man, and which doesn’t exist. What, then, can such people gain from Me? Man is simply too lowly for words. Those who are against Me, who make limitless demands of Me, who have no love of the truth, who are rebellious toward Me—how could they be compatible with Me?
from “You Should Seek the Way of Compatibility With Christ” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Those who only care about the words of the Bible, who are unconcerned about the truth or seeking My footsteps—they are against Me, for they limit Me according to the Bible, and constrain Me within the Bible, and so are blasphemous in the extreme toward Me. How could such people come before Me? They pay no heed to My deeds, or My will, or the truth, but instead obsess over words, words that kill. How could such people be compatible with Me?
from “You Should Seek the Way of Compatibility With Christ” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Know that the words of books do not count as life, the records of history cannot be feted as the truth, and the doctrines of the past cannot serve as an account of words presently spoken by God. Only that which is expressed by God when He comes to earth and lives among man is the truth, life, God’s will, and His current way of working. If you apply the records of words spoken by God during past ages to today, then you are an archaeologist, and the best way of describing you is as an expert on historical heritage. That is because you always believe in traces of the work that God did in times gone by, only believe in the shadow of God left from when He previously worked among man, and only believe in the way that God gave to His followers in former times. You do not believe in the direction of God’s work today, do not believe in the glorious countenance of God today, and do not believe in the way of truth presently expressed by God. And so you are undeniably a daydreamer who is completely out of touch with reality. If now you still cling to words that are incapable of bringing life to man, then you are a hopeless piece of deadwood,[c] for you are too conservative, too intractable, too impervious to reason!
… Those who are controlled by regulations, by letters, and shackled by history will never be able to gain life, and will never be able to gain the perpetual way of life. That is because all they have is turbid water that has lain stagnant for thousands of years, instead of the water of life that flows from the throne. Those who are not supplied with the water of life will forever remain corpses, playthings of Satan, and sons of hell. How, then, can they behold God? If you only try to hold on to the past, only try to keep things as they are by standing still, and do not try to change the status quo and discard history, then will you not always be against God? The steps of God’s work are vast and mighty, like surging waves and rolling thunders—yet you sit and passively await destruction, sticking to your folly and doing nothing. In this way, how can you be considered someone who follows the footsteps of the Lamb? How can you justify the God that you hold on to as a God who is always new and never old? And how can the words of your yellowed books carry you across into a new age? How can they lead you to seek the steps of God’s work? And how can they take you up to heaven? What you hold in your hands is the letters that can provide but temporary solace, not the truths that are capable of giving life. The scriptures you read are that which can only enrich your tongue, not words of wisdom that can help you know human life, much less the ways that can lead you to perfection. Does this discrepancy not give you cause for reflection? Does it not allow you to understand the mysteries contained within?
from “Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
a. The original text omits “in reality.”
b. A Chinese saying, the literal meaning of which is “a bandit that occupies the mountains and declares himself as king.”
c. A piece of deadwood: a Chinese idiom, meaning “beyond help.”