Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks (Part One)
Most people believe in God for the sake of their future destination, or for temporary enjoyment. For those who have not undergone any dealing, belief in God is for the sake of entering into heaven, in order to gain rewards. It is not in order to be made perfect, or to perform the duty of a creature of God. Which is to say that most people do not believe in God in order to fulfill their responsibility, or to complete their duty. Rarely do people believe in God in order to lead meaningful lives, nor are there those who believe that since man is alive, he should love God because it is heaven’s law and earth’s principle to do so, and is the natural vocation of man. In this way, although different people each pursue their own goals, the aim of their pursuit and the motivation behind it are all alike, and, what’s more, for most of them the objects of their worship are much the same. Over the last several thousand years, many believers have died, and many have died and been born again. It is not just one or two people who seek after God, nor even one or two thousand, yet the pursuit of most of these people is for the sake of their own prospects or their glorious hopes for the future. Those who are devoted to Christ are few and far between. Many devout believers have still died ensnared in their own nets, and the number of people who have achieved success, moreover, is pifflingly small. To this day, the reasons why people fail, or the secrets of their success, are still unknown to man. Those who are obsessed with seeking after Christ have still not had their moment of sudden insight, they have not gotten to the bottom of these mysteries, because they simply do not know. Though they make painstaking efforts in their pursuit, the path they walk is the path of failure once walked by their predecessors, and not the one of success. In this way, regardless of how they seek, do they not walk the path that leads to darkness? Is what they gain not bitter fruit? It is hard enough to predict whether the people who emulate those who succeeded in times past will ultimately come to fortune or calamity. How much worse are the odds, then, for the people who seek by following in the footsteps of those who failed? Do they not stand an even greater chance of failure? What value is there to the path they walk? Are they not wasting their time? Irrespective of whether people succeed or fail in their pursuit, there is, in short, a reason why they do so, and it is not the case that their success or failure is determined by seeking however they please.
The most fundamental requirement of man’s belief in God is that he have an honest heart, and that he fully devote himself, and truly obey. What is hardest for man is to provide his whole life in exchange for true belief, through which he can gain the entire truth, and fulfill his duty as a creature of God. This is what is unattainable by those who fail, and is even more unattainable by those who cannot find Christ. Because man is not good at wholly devoting himself to God, because man is not willing to perform his duty to the Creator, because man has seen the truth but avoids it and walks his own path, because man always seeks by following the path of those who have failed, because man always defies Heaven, thus, man always fails, is always taken in by Satan’s trickery, and ensnared in his own net. Because man does not know Christ, because man is not adept at understanding and experiencing the truth, because man is too worshipful of Paul and too covetous of heaven, because man is always demanding that Christ obey him and ordering about God, thus those great figures and those who have experienced the vicissitudes of the world are still mortal, and still die amid God’s chastisement. All I can say of such people is that they die a tragic death, and that the consequence for them—their death—is not without justification. Is their failure not even more intolerable to Heaven? The truth comes from the world of man, yet the truth among man is passed on by Christ. It originates from Christ, that is, from God Himself, and is unattainable by man. Yet Christ provides only the truth; He does not come to decide whether man will be successful in his pursuit of the truth. Thus it follows that success or failure in the truth is all down to man’s pursuit. Man’s success or failure in the truth has never had anything to do with Christ, but is instead determined by his pursuit. Man’s destination and his success or failure cannot be heaped upon the head of God, so that God Himself is made to bear it, because this is not a matter for God Himself, but is directly related to the duty that the creatures of God should perform. Most people do have a little knowledge of the pursuit and destination of Paul and Peter, yet people know nothing more than the outcome for Peter and Paul, and are ignorant of the secret behind Peter’s success, or the deficiencies that led to Paul’s failure. And so, if you are completely incapable of seeing through to the substance of their pursuit, then the pursuit of most of you will still fail, and even if a small number of you will be successful, still they will not be the equal of Peter. If the path of your pursuit is the right one, then you have a hope of success; if the path you tread in pursuit of the truth is the wrong one, then you will forever be incapable of success, and will meet the same end as Paul.
Peter was a man who was made perfect. Only after experiencing chastisement and judgment, and thus gaining a pure love of God, was he fully made perfect; the path he walked was the path of being made perfect. Which is to say that, from the very beginning, the path that Peter walked was the right one, and his motivation for believing in God was the right one, and so he became someone who was made perfect. He trod a new path that man had never walked upon before, whereas the path that Paul had walked upon since the beginning was the path of opposition to Christ, and it was only because the Holy Spirit wished to use him, and to take advantage of his gifts and all his merits, that he worked for Christ for several decades. He was merely someone who was used by the Holy Spirit, and he was not used because Jesus looked favorably upon his humanity, but because of his gifts. He was able to work for Jesus because he was struck down, not because he was happy to do so. He was able to do such work because of the enlightenment and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the work he did by no means represents his pursuit, or his humanity. The work of Paul represents the work of a servant, which is to say that he did the work of an apostle. Peter, though, was different: He also did some work, yet it was not as great as the work of Paul; he worked amid the pursuit of his own entry, and his work was different from the work of Paul. Peter’s work was the performance of the duty of a creature of God. He did not work in the role of an apostle, but during the course of his pursuit of a love of God. The course of Paul’s work also contained his personal pursuit: His pursuit was for the sake of nothing more than his hopes for the future, and his desire for a good destination. He did not accept refinement during his work, nor did he accept pruning and dealing. He believed that as long as the work he did satisfied God’s desire, and all that he did was pleasing to God, then a reward ultimately awaited him. There were no personal experiences in his work—it was all for its own sake, and not carried out amid the pursuit of change. Everything in his work was a transaction, it contained none of the duty or submission of a creature of God. During the course of his work, there occurred no change in Paul’s old disposition. His work was merely of service to others, and was incapable of bringing about changes in his disposition. Paul carried out his work directly, without having been made perfect or dealt with, and he was motivated by reward. Peter was different: He was someone who had undergone pruning, and had undergone dealing and refinement. The aim and motivation of the work of Peter were fundamentally different to those of Paul. Although Peter did not do a large amount of work, his disposition underwent many changes, and what he sought was the truth, and real change. His work was not carried out simply for the sake of the work itself. Although Paul did much work, it was all the work of the Holy Spirit, and even though Paul cooperated in this work, he did not experience it. That Peter did much less work was only because the Holy Spirit did not do that much work through him.
The quantity of their work did not determine whether they were made perfect; the pursuit of one was in order to receive rewards, and that of the other was in order to achieve an ultimate love of God, and fulfill his duty as a creature of God, to the extent that he could live out a lovely image in order to satisfy God’s desire. Externally they were different, and so too were their substances different. You cannot determine who of them was made perfect based on how much work they did. Peter sought to live out the image of one who loves God, to be someone who obeyed God, to be someone who accepted dealing and pruning, and to be someone who fulfilled his duty as a creature of God. He was able to devote himself to God, to put the entirety of himself in the hands of God, and obey Him until death. That was what he resolved to do and, furthermore, that was what he achieved. This is the fundamental reason why finally his end was different to that of Paul. The work that the Holy Spirit did in Peter was to make him perfect, and the work that the Holy Spirit did in Paul was to use him. That is because their natures and their views toward pursuit were not the same. Both had the work of the Holy Spirit. Peter applied this work to himself, and also provided it to others; Paul, meanwhile, only provided the entirety of the work of the Holy Spirit to others, and gained nothing from it himself. In this way, after he had experienced the work of the Holy Spirit for so many years, the changes in Paul were close to non-existent. He still remained almost in his natural state, and was still the Paul of before. It’s merely that after enduring the hardship of many years of work, he had learned how to “work,” and had learned endurance, but his old nature—his highly competitive and mercenary nature—still remained. After working for so many years, he did not know his corrupt disposition, nor had he rid himself of his old disposition, and it was still clearly visible in his work. In him there was merely more work experience, but such little experience alone was incapable of changing him, and could not alter his views about existence or the significance of his pursuit. Though he worked many years for Christ, and never again persecuted the Lord Jesus, in his heart there was no change in his knowledge of God. Which means that he did not work in order to devote himself to God, but was, rather, compelled to work for the sake of his future destination. For, in the beginning, he persecuted Christ, and did not submit to Christ; he was inherently a rebel who deliberately opposed Christ, and someone who had no knowledge of the work of the Holy Spirit. At the conclusion of his work, still he did not know the work of the Holy Spirit, and merely acted of his own accord pursuant to his own nature, without paying the slightest attention to the will of the Holy Spirit. And so his nature was in enmity to Christ and did not obey the truth. Someone like this, who had been forsaken by the work of the Holy Spirit, who did not know the work of the Holy Spirit, and who also opposed Christ—how could such a person be saved? Whether or not man can be saved does not depend on how much work he does, or how much he devotes, but is instead determined by whether or not he knows the work of the Holy Spirit, whether or not he can put the truth into practice, and whether or not his views toward pursuit are in conformity with the truth. Although natural revelations did occur after Peter began to follow Jesus, in nature he was, from the very beginning, someone who was willing to submit to the Holy Spirit and seek after Christ. His obedience of the Holy Spirit was pure: He did not seek fame and fortune, but was instead motivated by obedience to the truth. Though there were three times when Peter denied knowing Christ, and though he tempted the Lord Jesus, such slight human weakness bore no relation to his nature, and did not affect his future pursuit, and cannot sufficiently prove that his temptation was an act of antichrist. Normal human weakness is something shared by all people in the world—do you expect Peter to be any different? Do people not hold certain views about Peter because he made several foolish mistakes? And do people not so adore Paul because of all the work he did, and all the epistles he wrote? How could man be capable of seeing through to the essence of man? Surely those who truly have sense can see something of such insignificance?
Though the many years of painful experiences of Peter are not recorded in the Bible, this does not prove that Peter did not have real experiences, or that Peter was not made perfect. How can the work of God be fully fathomed by man? The records in the Bible were not personally selected by Jesus, but compiled by later generations. In this way, was all that was recorded in the Bible not chosen according to the ideas of man? Moreover, the ends of Peter and Paul are not expressly stated in the epistles, so man judges Peter and Paul according to his own perceptions, and according to his own preferences. And because Paul did so much work, because his “contributions” were so great, he won the trust of the masses. Does not man only concentrate on superficialities? How could man be capable of seeing through to the essence of man? Not to mention, given that Paul has been an object of worship for thousands of years, who would dare to rashly deny his work? Peter was just a fisherman, so how could his contribution be as great as that of Paul? Based on contribution, Paul should have been rewarded before Peter, and he should have been the one who was better qualified to gain God’s approval. Who could have imagined that, in His treatment of Paul, God merely made him work through his gifts, whereas God made Peter perfect. It is by no means the case that the Lord Jesus had made plans for Peter and Paul from the very beginning: They were, rather, made perfect or put to work according to their inherent natures. And so, what people see are merely the outward contributions of man, whereas what God sees is man’s essence, as well as the path that man pursues from the beginning, and the motivation behind man’s pursuit. People measure a man according to their conceptions, and according to their own perceptions, yet the final end of a man is not determined according to his externalities. And so I say that if the path that you take from the beginning is the path of success, and your point of view toward pursuit is the right one from the beginning, then you are like Peter; if the path that you tread is the path of failure, then whatever the price you pay, your end will still be the same as that of Paul. Whatever the case, your destination, and whether you succeed or fail, are both determined by whether the path you seek is the right one or not, rather than your devotion, or the price that you pay. Peter’s and Paul’s substances, and the goals that they pursued, were different; man is incapable of discovering these things, and only God can know them in their entirety. For what God sees is the essence of man, whereas man knows nothing of his own substance. Man is incapable of beholding the substance within man or his actual stature, and thus is incapable of identifying the reasons for the failure and success of Paul and Peter. The reason why most people worship Paul and not Peter is because Paul was used for public work, and man is able to perceive this work, and so people acknowledge the “accomplishments” of Paul. The experiences of Peter, meanwhile, are invisible to man, and that which he sought is unattainable by man, and so man has no interest in Peter.