Daily Words of God: Entry Into Life | Excerpt 480
Some people say, “Paul did a tremendous amount of work, and he shouldered great burdens for the churches and contributed so much to them. The thirteen epistles of Paul upheld 2,000 years of the Age of Grace, and are second only to the Four Gospels. Who can compare with him? No one can decipher the Revelation of John, whereas Paul’s epistles provide life, and the work that he did was of benefit to the churches. Who else could have achieved such things? And what work did Peter do?” When man measures others, it is according to their contribution. When God measures man, it is according to his nature. Among those who seek life, Paul was someone who did not know his own essence. He was by no means humble or obedient, nor did he know his substance, which was in opposition to God. And so, he was someone who had not undergone detailed experiences, and was someone who did not put the truth into practice. Peter was different. He knew his imperfections, weaknesses, and his corrupt disposition as a creature of God, and so he had a path of practice through which to change his disposition; he was not one of those who only had doctrine but possessed no reality. Those who change are new people who have been saved, they are those who are qualified in pursuing the truth. People who do not change belong to those who are naturally obsolete; they are those who have not been saved, that is, those who have been detested and rejected by God. They will not be commemorated by God no matter how great their work. When you compare this with your own pursuit, whether you are ultimately the same kind of person as Peter or Paul should be self-evident. If there is still no truth in what you seek, and if even today you are still as arrogant and insolent as Paul, and are still as glibly self-aggrandizing as him, then you are without doubt a degenerate who is headed for failure. If you seek the same as Peter, if you seek practices and true changes, and are not arrogant or proud, but seek to perform your duty, then you will be a victorious creature of God. Paul did not know his own substance or corruption, much less did he know his own disobedience. He never mentioned his despicable defiance of Christ, nor was he overly regretful. He only offered a brief explanation, and, deep down in his heart, did not completely submit to God. Though he fell on the road to Damascus, he did not look deep within himself. He was content merely to keep working, and did not consider knowing himself and changing his old disposition to be the most crucial of issues. He was satisfied with merely speaking the truth, with providing to others as a salve for his own conscience, and with no longer persecuting Jesus’ disciples to console himself and forgive himself for his past sins. The goal that he pursued was nothing more than a future crown and transitory work, the goal he pursued was abundant grace. He did not seek sufficient truth, nor did he seek to progress deeper into the truth which he had previously not understood. And so his knowledge of himself can be said to be false, and he did not accept chastisement or judgment. That he was able to work does not mean he possessed a knowledge of his own nature or substance; his focus was on outward practices only. What he strived for, moreover, was not change, but knowledge. His work was completely the result of the appearance of Jesus on the road to Damascus. It was not something he had resolved to do originally, nor was it work that occurred after he had accepted the pruning of his old disposition. No matter how he worked, his old disposition did not change, and so his work did not atone for his past sins but merely played a certain role among the churches of the time. For someone such as this, whose old disposition did not change—that is to say, who did not gain salvation, and was even more without the truth—no matter what he did, he was incapable of becoming one of those accepted by the. He was not someone who was filled with love and reverence for Jesus Christ, nor was he someone who was adept at seeking the truth, much less was he someone who sought the mystery of the incarnation. He was merely someone who was skilled in sophistry, and who would not yield to any who were higher than him or who were possessed of the truth. He envied people or truths that were in contrast to him, or in enmity with him, preferring those gifted people who presented a great image and possessed profound knowledge. He did not like interacting with poor people who sought the true way and cared for nothing but the truth, and instead concerned himself with senior figures from religious organizations who only spoke of doctrines, and were possessed of abundant knowledge. He had no love of the new work of the Holy Spirit, and cared not for the movement of the new work of the Holy Spirit. Instead, he favored those regulations and doctrines that were higher than general truths. In his innate essence and the entirety of what he sought, he does not deserve to be called a Christian who pursued the truth, much less a faithful servant in the house of God, for his hypocrisy was too much, and his disobedience too great. Though he is known as a servant of the Lord Jesus, he was not at all fit to enter the gate of the kingdom of heaven, for his actions from beginning to end cannot be called righteous. He can merely be seen as one who was hypocritical, and did unrighteousness, yet who also worked for Christ. Though he cannot be called evil, he can suitably be called a man who did unrighteousness. He did much work, yet he must not be judged on the quantity of work he did, but only on its quality and substance. Only in this way is it possible to get to the bottom of this matter. He always believed: I am capable of working, I am better than most people; I am considerate of the Lord’s burden as no one else, and no one repents as deeply as I, for the great light shone upon me, and I have seen the great light, and so my repentance is deeper than any other. At the time, this is what he thought within his heart. At the end of his work, Paul said: “I have fought the fight, I have finished my course, and there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” His fight, work, and course were entirely for the sake of the crown of righteousness, and he did not actively forge ahead; though he was not perfunctory in his work, it can be said that his work was merely in order to make up for his mistakes, to make up for the accusations of his conscience. He only hoped to complete his work, finish his course, and fight his fight as soon as possible, so that he could gain his longed-for crown of righteousness all the sooner. What he longed for was not to meet the Lord Jesus with his experiences and true knowledge, but to finish his work as soon as possible, in order that he would receive the rewards that his work had earned him when he met the Lord Jesus. He used his work to comfort himself, and to make a deal in exchange for a future crown. What he sought was not the truth or God, but only the crown. How can such a pursuit be qualified? His motivation, his work, the price he paid, and all of his efforts—his wonderful fantasies pervaded them all, and he worked wholly according to his own desires. In the entirety of his work, there was not the slightest willingness in the price he paid; he was merely engaging in a deal. His efforts were not made willingly in order to perform his duty, but were made willingly in order to achieve the objective of the deal. Is there any worth to such efforts? Who would commend his impure efforts? Who has any interest in such efforts? His work was full of dreams for the future, full of wonderful plans, and contained no path by which to change human disposition. So much of his benevolence was a pretense; his work did not provide life, but was a sham of civility; it was the doing of a deal. How can work such as this lead man to the path of recovering his original duty?