3. The consequences of relying on Biblical knowledge and theological theory in one’s faith
Relevant Words of God:
Man has been corrupted and lives in Satan’s trap. All people live in the flesh, live in selfish desires, and there is not a single one among them who is compatible with Me. There are those who say that they are compatible with Me, but such people all worship vague idols. Although they acknowledge My name as holy, they tread a path that runs contrary to Me, and their words are full of arrogance and self-confidence. This is because, at root, they are all against Me and incompatible with Me. Every day, they seek traces of Me in the Bible and find “suitable” passages at random which they read endlessly and recite as scriptures. They do not know how to be compatible with Me nor what it means to be against Me. They merely read scriptures blindly. Within the Bible, they constrain a vague God that they have never seen, and are incapable of seeing, and take it out to look at at their leisure. They believe in My existence only within the scope of the Bible, and they equate Me with 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. Many more 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—after having charged Him with not following the law of the Old Testament and not being the Messiah—they ultimately nailed the innocent Jesus to the cross. What was their substance? Was it not that they didn’t seek the way of compatibility with the truth? They obsessed over each and every word of Scripture while paying heed neither to My will nor to the steps and methods of My work. They were not people who sought the truth, but people who rigidly clung to words; 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, to uphold the dignity of the Bible, and to protect the reputation of the Bible, they went so far as to nail the merciful Jesus to 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 all 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 this world so that they may 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 they would rather nail the Christ returned to flesh to the cross again in order to ensure the everlasting existence of the Bible. How can man receive My salvation when his heart is so malicious and his nature so antagonistic toward Me? I live among man, yet man does not know of My existence. When I shine My light upon man, he still remains ignorant of My existence. When I unleash My wrath upon man, he denies My existence with even greater vigor. Man searches for compatibility with words and compatibility 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 would lay Himself at the mercy of man—a God who does not 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?
Those who are against Me are those who are not compatible with Me. Such is also the case among those who do not love the truth. Those who rebel against Me are even more against Me and incompatible with Me. I deliver into the hands of the evil one all those who are not compatible with Me, and I relinquish them to the corruption of the evil one, give them free rein to reveal their maleficence, and ultimately hand them over to the evil one to be devoured. I care not how many worship Me, which is to say, I care not how many people believe in Me. All that concerns Me is how many are compatible with Me. That is because all those who are not compatible with Me are evil ones who betray Me; they are My enemies, and I shall not “enshrine” My enemies in My home. Those who are compatible with Me shall forever serve Me in My home, and those who go against Me shall forever suffer My punishment. Those who only care about the words of the Bible and are concerned neither with the truth nor with seeking My footsteps—they are against Me, for they limit Me according to the Bible, 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?
Excerpted from “You Should Seek the Way of Compatibility With Christ” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Christ of the last days brings life, and brings the enduring and everlasting way of truth. This truth is the path by which man gains life, and it is the only path by which man shall know God and be approved by God. If you do not seek the way of life provided by Christ of the last days, then you shall never gain the approval of Jesus, and shall never be qualified to enter the gate of the kingdom of heaven, for you are both a puppet and prisoner of history. Those who are controlled by regulations, by letters, and shackled by history will never be able to gain life nor gain the perpetual way of life. This is because all they have is turbid water which has been clung to 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 passively awaiting destruction, clinging 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 are letters that can provide but temporary solace, not truths that are capable of giving life. The scriptures you read can only enrich your tongue and are not words of wisdom that can help you know human life, much less the paths that can lead you to perfection. Does this discrepancy not give you cause for reflection? Does it not make you realize the mysteries contained within? Are you capable of delivering yourself to heaven to meet God on your own? Without the coming of God, can you take yourself into heaven to enjoy family happiness with God? Are you still dreaming now? I suggest, then, that you stop dreaming and look at who is working now—look to see who is now carrying out the work of saving man during the last days. If you do not, you shall never gain the truth, and shall never gain life.
Excerpted from “Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Do many people not oppose God and obstruct the work of the Holy Spirit because they do not know the varied and diverse work of God, and, furthermore, because they possess but a smidgeon of knowledge and doctrine with which to measure the work of the Holy Spirit? Though the experiences of such people are superficial, they are arrogant and indulgent in nature and they regard the work of the Holy Spirit with contempt, ignore the disciplines of the Holy Spirit and, moreover, use their trivial old arguments to “confirm” the work of the Holy Spirit. They also put on an act, and are wholly convinced of their own learning and erudition, and convinced that they are able to travel across the world. Are such people not those who are despised and rejected by the Holy Spirit, and will they not be eliminated by the new age? Are not those who come before God and openly oppose Him ignorant and under-informed little people, who are merely trying to show how brilliant they are? With but a meager knowledge of the Bible, they try to straddle the world’s “academia”; with but a superficial doctrine to teach people, they try to reverse the work of the Holy Spirit and attempt to make it revolve around their own thought process. Short-sighted as they are, they try to behold in one glance 6,000 years of God’s work. These people do not have any sense worth mentioning! In fact, the greater people’s knowledge of God, the slower they are to judge His work. Furthermore, they only talk a little of their knowledge of God’s work today, but they are not rash in their judgments. The less people know of God, the more arrogant and overconfident they are and the more wantonly they proclaim God’s being—yet they only talk of theory, and offer no real evidence. Such people are of no value whatsoever. Those who see the work of the Holy Spirit as a game are frivolous! Those who are not cautious when they encounter the new work of the Holy Spirit, who run their mouths off, are quick to judge, who give free rein to their natural instinct to deny the rightness of the Holy Spirit’s work, and who also insult and blaspheme it—are such disrespectful people not ignorant of the Holy Spirit’s work? Are they not, furthermore, people of great arrogance, people who are inherently proud and ungovernable? Even if a day comes when such people accept the new work of the Holy Spirit, still God will not tolerate them. Not only do they look down upon those who work for God, but they also blaspheme against God Himself. Such foolhardy people will not be forgiven, either in this age or the age to come, and they shall forever perish in hell! Such disrespectful, indulgent people are pretending to believe in God, and the more people are like this, the more liable they are to offend God’s administrative decrees. Do not all those arrogant ones who are innately unbridled, and who have never obeyed anyone, all walk upon this path? Do they not oppose God day after day, God who is always new and never old?
Excerpted from “Knowing the Three Stages of God’s Work Is the Path to Knowing God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Your knowledge can only provide for people for a certain period of time. As time goes on, if you keep saying the same things, some people will discern that; they’ll say you’re too superficial, too lacking in depth. You’ll have no option but to try and deceive people by preaching on doctrines. If you always carry on like this, those below you will follow your methods, steps, and model of faith and of experiencing and putting into practice those words and doctrines. Ultimately, as you keep on preaching and preaching, they’ll all come to use you as an exemplar. In your leadership of others you speak of doctrines, so those below you will learn doctrines from you, and as things progress you will have taken the wrong path. Those below you will take whatever path you do; they will all learn from you and follow you, so you will feel: “I am powerful now; so many people listen to me, and the church 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 sort of denomination. How do various denominations arise? They arise in this way. Look at the leaders of each denomination—they are all arrogant and self-righteous, and their interpretations of the Bible lack context and are guided by their own imaginings. They all rely on gifts and erudition to do their work. If they could not preach at all, would people follow them? They do, after all, possess some knowledge and can preach on some doctrine, or they know how to win others over and make use of some artifice. They use these to bring people before themselves and deceive them. Nominally, those people believe in God, but in reality, they follow their leaders. When they encounter someone preaching the true way, some of them say, “We have to consult our leader about our faith.” A human is the medium of their faith 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?
Excerpted from “Only to Pursue the Truth Is Truly to Believe in God” in Records of Christ’s Talks
All those in Christianity who study theology, Scripture, and even the history of God’s work—are they true believers? Are they any different from the believers and followers of God that God speaks of? In the eyes of God, do they believe in God? (No.) They study theology, they study God. Is there a difference between them who study God and those who study other things? There is no difference. They are just the same as people who study history, who study philosophy, who study law, who study biology, who study astronomy—they just do not like science, or biology, or any other subjects; they just like theology. These people study God by searching for clues and giveaways in the work of God—and what comes out of their research? Are they able to determine whether God exists? They never will. Are they able to determine the will of God? (No.) Why? Because they live amid words and phrases, they live amid knowledge, they live amid philosophy, they live amid the minds and thoughts of humans. They will never be able to see God, they will never gain the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. What does God define them as? As nonbelievers, as unbelievers. These nonbelievers and unbelievers mingle with the so-called Christian community, acting like people who believe in God, acting like Christians—but do they, in fact, truly worship God? Do they truly obey Him? No. Why? One thing is certain: It is because, in their hearts, they do not believe that God created the world, that He rules all things, that He can become flesh, much less do they believe that God exists. What does this unbelief indicate? Doubt, denial, and even an attitude of hoping the prophecies spoken by God—particularly those about the disasters—do not come true and are not fulfilled. This is the attitude with which they treat belief in God, and it is also the essence and real face of their so-called faith. These people study God because they have an especial interest in the scholarship and knowledge of theology, and are interested in the historical facts of God’s work. They are nothing more than a bunch of intellectuals studying theology. These “intellectuals” do not believe in the existence of God, so what do they do when God comes to work and His words are fulfilled? What is their first reaction when they hear that God has become flesh, and is performing new work? “Impossible!” They condemn whoever preaches the new work of God, and even want to kill them. What is this a manifestation of? Is this not the manifestation of them being bona fide antichrists? They are hostile toward the work of God and the fulfillment of His words, to say nothing of His incarnate flesh: “If You were not incarnated and Your words have not been fulfilled then You are God. If Your words have been fulfilled and You were incarnated, then You are not.” What is the subtext to this? It is that they do not permit the incarnation of God so long as they exist. Is this not a bona fide antichrist? This is a genuine antichrist. Do such assertions exist in the religious community? Such assertions are made very loudly, and also very forcefully: “It’s wrong that God has incarnated, it’s impossible! Any incarnation is a sham!” Some ask, “Have these people been misled?” Absolutely not. They just do not have true faith in God. They do not believe in the existence of God, they do not believe in the incarnation of God, they do not believe in God’s work of creating the world, much less do they believe in God’s work of being crucified and redeeming all mankind. To them, the theology they study is a series of historical events, it is a kind of doctrine or theory.
Excerpted from “For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance (7)” in Records of Christ’s Talks
What was the chief manifestation of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees? They only pored over Scripture and did not seek the truth. When they read God’s words, they did not pray or seek; instead, they studied the words of God, they studied what God said and did, and so turned His words into a kind of theory, into a doctrine that they taught to others. This is what poring over God’s words is. So why did they do that? What was it they pored over? In their eyes, these were not the words of God, they were not the expressions of God, much less were they the truth, but rather a form of scholarship. Such scholarship, in their eyes, should be passed on, it should be spread, and only this would have been spreading the way of God and the gospel. This is what they called “preaching,” and the sermon they preached was theology.
… The Pharisees treated the theology and theory they had mastered as a kind of knowledge, as a tool for condemning people and measuring whether they were right or wrong. They even used it on the Lord Jesus—that was how the Lord Jesus was condemned. Their appraisal of people, and the way they treated them, was never based on their essence, or on whether what they said was right or wrong, much less on the source or provenance of their words. They just condemned and measured people based on unyielding words and doctrines that they had mastered. And so, even though these Pharisees knew that what the Lord Jesus did was not a sin, and did not contravene the law, they still condemned Him, because what the Lord Jesus said appeared to be at odds with the knowledge and scholarship they had mastered and the theological theory they expounded. And the Pharisees just would not loosen their grip on these words and phrases, they clung onto this knowledge and would not let it go. What was the only possible outcome in the end? They would not acknowledge that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah who would come, or that there was truth in what the Lord Jesus said, much less that what the Lord Jesus did was in keeping with the truth. They found some unsubstantiated charges to condemn the Lord Jesus with—but in fact, in their hearts, did they know whether these sins they condemned Him with were valid? They did. So why did they still condemn Him thus? (They did not want to believe that the high and mighty God in their minds could have been the Lord Jesus, this image of an ordinary Son of man.) They did not want to accept this fact. And what was the nature of their refusal to accept this? Was there not something of trying to reason with God in this? What they meant was, “Could God do that? If God were incarnated, He must surely be born of distinguished lineage. What’s more, He must accept the tutelage of scribes and Pharisees, learn this knowledge, and read much Scripture. Only after He possesses this knowledge can He take on the title of ‘incarnation’.” They believed that, firstly, You are not thus qualified, so You are not God; secondly, without this knowledge You cannot do the work of God, much less can You be God; thirdly, You cannot work outside the temple—You are not in the temple now, You are always among the sinners, so the work You do is beyond the scope of God’s work. Where did the basis of their condemnation come from? From Scripture, from the mind of man, and from the theological education they had received. Because they were swollen with notions, imaginings, and knowledge, they believed this knowledge to be right, to be the truth, to be the basis, and at no time could God contravene these things. Did they seek the truth? They did not. What they sought were their own notions and imaginings, and their own experiences, and they tried to use these to define God and determine whether He was right or wrong. What was the ultimate outcome of this? They condemned the work of God and nailed Him to the cross.
Excerpted from “For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance (7)” in Records of Christ’s Talks