Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks (Part Two)
Peter was made perfect through experiencing dealing and refinement. He said, “I must satisfy God’s desire at all times. In all that I do I only seek to satisfy God’s desire, and whether I am chastised, or judged, still I am happy to do so.” Peter gave his all to God, and his work, words, and entire life were all for the sake of loving God. He was someone who sought holiness, and the more he experienced, the greater was his love for God deep within his heart. Paul, meanwhile, did only outward work, and though he also worked hard, his labors were for the sake of doing his work properly and thus gaining a reward. Had he known that he would receive no reward, he would have given up his work. What Peter cared about was the true love within his heart, and that which was practical and could be achieved. He did not care about whether he would receive a reward, but about whether his disposition could be changed. Paul cared about working ever harder, he cared about outward work and devotion, and the doctrines not experienced by ordinary people. He cared nothing for changes deep within him and a true love of God. The experiences of Peter were in order to achieve a true love and a true knowledge. His experiences were in order to gain a closer relationship to God, and to have a practical living out. The work of Paul was because of that entrusted to him by Jesus, and in order to obtain the things that he longed for, yet these were unrelated to his knowledge of himself and God. His work was solely for the sake of escaping chastisement and judgment. What Peter sought was pure love, and what Paul sought was the crown of righteousness. Peter experienced many years of the work of the Holy Spirit, and had a practical knowledge of Christ, as well as a profound knowledge of himself. And so, his love of God was pure. Many years of refinement had elevated his knowledge of Jesus and life, and his love was an unconditional love, it was a spontaneous love, and he asked for nothing in return, nor did he hope for any benefits. Paul worked for many years, yet he did not possess a great knowledge of Christ, and his knowledge of himself was also pitiably small. He simply had no love for Christ, and his work and the course that he ran were in order to obtain the final laurel. What he sought was the finest crown, not the purest love. He did not seek actively, but did so passively; he was not performing his duty, but was compelled in his pursuit after having been seized by the work of the Holy Spirit. And so, his pursuit does not prove that he was a qualified creature of God; it was Peter who was a qualified creature of God who performed his duty. Man thinks that all those who make a contribution to God should receive a reward, and that the greater the contribution, the more it is taken for granted that they should receive God’s favor. In essence, man sees such contributions as a transaction, and does not actively seek to perform his duty as a creature of God. For God, the more that people seek a true love of God and complete obedience to God, which also means seeking to perform their duty as a creature of God, the more they are able to gain God’s approval. God’s viewpoint is to demand that man recover his original duty and status. Man is a creature of God, and so man should not overstep himself by making any demands of God, and should do nothing more than perform his duty as a creature of God. The destinations of Paul and Peter were measured according to whether they could perform their duty as creatures of God, and not according to the size of their contribution; their destinations were determined according to that which they sought from the beginning, not according to how much work they did, or other people’s estimation of them. And so, seeking to actively perform one’s duty as a creature of God is the path to success; seeking the path of a true love of God is the most correct path; seeking changes in one’s old disposition, and a pure love of God, is the path to success. Such a path to success is the path of the recovery of the original duty as well as the original appearance of a creature of God. It is the path of recovery, and is also the aim of all of God’s work from beginning to end. If the pursuit of man is tainted with personal extravagant demands and irrational longings, then the effect that is achieved will not be changes in man’s disposition. This is at odds with the work of recovery. It is undoubtedly not work done by the Holy Spirit, and so proves that pursuit of this kind is not approved of by God. What significance has pursuit that is not approved of by God?
The work done by Paul was exhibited before man, but how pure was his love for God, how much was his love for God deep down in his heart—these are unseeable by man. Man can only behold the work that he did, from which man knows that he was surely used by the Holy Spirit, and so man thinks that Paul was better than Peter, that his work was greater, for he was able to provide to the churches. Peter only looked to his personal experiences, and gained but a few people during his occasional work. From him there are but a few little-known epistles, but who knows how great was his love for God deep within his heart? Day in, day out, Paul worked for God: As long as there was work to be done, he did it. He felt that in this way he would be able to gain the crown, and could satisfy God, yet he did not seek ways to change himself through his work. Anything in Peter’s life that did not satisfy God’s desire made him feel uneasy. If it did not satisfy God’s desire, then he would feel remorseful, and would look for a suitable way by which he could strive to satisfy God’s heart. In even the smallest and most inconsequential aspects of his life, still he required himself to satisfy God’s desire. He was no less exacting when it came to his old disposition, ever rigorous in his requirements of himself to progress deeper into the truth. Paul sought only superficial reputation and status. He sought to show off himself before man, and did not seek to make any deeper progress in life entry. What he cared about was doctrine, not reality. Some people say, Paul did so much work for God, why was he not commemorated by God? Peter carried out but a little work for God, and did not make a great contribution to the churches, so why was he made perfect? Peter loved God to a certain point, which was required by God; only such people as this have testimony. And what of Paul? To what degree did Paul love God, do you know? What was Paul’s work for the sake of? And what was Peter’s work for the sake of? Peter did not do much work, but do you know what was deep within his heart? The work of Paul pertains to the provision to the churches, and the support of the churches. What Peter experienced were changes in his life disposition; he experienced a love of God. Now that you know the differences in their substances, you can see who, ultimately, truly believed in God, and who did not truly believe in God. One of them truly loved God, and the other did not truly love God; one underwent changes in his disposition, and the other did not; one was worshiped by people, and was of great image, and the other served humbly, and was not easily noticed by people; one sought holiness, and the other did not, and though he was not impure, he was not possessed of a pure love; one was possessed of true humanity, and the other was not; one was possessed of the sense of a creature of God, and the other was not. Such are the differences in the substances of Paul and Peter. The path that Peter walked is the path of success, which is also the path of achieving the recovery of the normal humanity and duty of a creature of God. Peter represents all those who are successful. The path walked by Paul is the path of failure, and he represents all those who only submit and expend themselves superficially, and do not genuinely love God. Paul represents all those who do not possess the truth. In his belief in God, Peter sought to satisfy God in all that he did, and sought to obey all that came from God. Without the slightest complaint, he was able to accept chastisement and judgment, as well as refinement, tribulation and lack in his life, none of which could alter his love of God. Is this not the ultimate love of God? Is this not the fulfillment of the duty of a creature of God? Chastisement, judgment, tribulation—you are capable of achieving obedience unto death, and this is what should be achieved by a creature of God, this is the purity of the love of God. If man can achieve this much, then he is a qualified creature of God, and there is nothing which better satisfies the desire of the Creator. Imagine that you are able to work for God, yet you do not obey God, and are incapable of truly loving God. In this way, not only will you not have fulfilled the duty of a creature of God, but will also be condemned by God, for you are someone who does not possess the truth, who is incapable of obeying God, and who is disobedient to God. You only care about working for God, and do not care about putting the truth into practice, or knowing yourself. You do not understand or know the Creator, and do not obey or love the Creator. You are someone who is innately disobedient to God, and so such people are not beloved by the Creator.
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 Lord Jesus. 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?
All that Peter sought was after God’s heart. He sought to fulfill God’s desire, and regardless of the suffering and adversity, still he was willing to fulfill God’s desire. There is no greater pursuit by a believer in God. What Paul sought was tainted by his own flesh, by his own conceptions, and by his own plans and schemes. He was by no means a qualified creature of God, was not someone who sought to fulfill God’s desire. Peter sought to submit to God’s orchestrations, and although the work he did was not great, the motivation behind his pursuit and the path that he walked were right; though he was not able to gain many people, he was able to seek the way of truth. Because of this it can be said that he was a qualified creature of God. Today, even if you are not a worker, you should be able to perform the duty of a creature of God, and seek to submit to all of God’s orchestrations. You should be able to obey whatever God says, and experience all manner of tribulations and refinement, and though you are weak, in your heart you should still be able to love God. Those who take responsibility for their own life are willing to perform the duty of a creature of God, and such people’s viewpoint toward pursuit is the right one. These are the people that God needs. If you did much work, and others gained your teachings, but you yourself did not change, and did not bear any testimony, or have any true experience, such that at the end of your life, still none of what you have done bears testimony, then are you someone who has changed? Are you someone who pursues the truth? At the time, the Holy Spirit used you, but when He used you, He used the part of you that could work, and He did not use the part of you that could not work. If you sought to change, then you would gradually be made perfect during the process of being used. Yet the Holy Spirit accepts no responsibility for whether or not you will ultimately be gained, and this depends on the manner of your pursuit. If there are no changes in your personal disposition, then that is because your viewpoint toward pursuit is wrong. If you are granted no reward, then that is your own problem, and because you yourself have not put the truth into practice, and are unable to fulfill God’s desire. And so, nothing is of greater importance than your personal experiences, and nothing is more critical than your personal entry! Some people will end up saying, “I’ve done so much work for You, and though there may not have been celebrated achievements, still I have been diligent in my efforts. Can’t You just let me into heaven to eat the fruit of life?” You must know what kind of people I desire; those who are impure are not permitted to enter into the kingdom, those who are impure are not permitted to besmirch the holy ground. Though you may have done much work, and have worked for many years, in the end if you are still deplorably filthy—it is intolerable to Heaven that you wish to enter My kingdom! From the foundation of the world until today, never have I offered easy access to My kingdom to those who curry favor with Me. This is a heavenly law, and no one can break it! You must seek life. Today, those who will be made perfect are the same kind as Peter: They are those who seek changes in their own disposition, and are willing to bear testimony to God and perform their duty as a creature of God. Only people such as this will be made perfect. If you only look to rewards, and do not seek to change your own life disposition, then all your efforts will be in vain—and this is an unalterable truth!
From the difference in the substances of Peter and Paul you should understand that all those who do not pursue life labor in vain! You believe in God and follow God, and so in your heart you must love God. You must cast aside your corrupt disposition, must seek to fulfill God’s desire, and must perform the duty of a creature of God. Since you believe in and follow God, so you should offer everything to Him, and should not make personal choices or demands, and you should achieve the fulfillment of God’s desire. Since you were created, so you should obey the Lord that created you, for you are inherently without dominion over yourself, and have no ability to control your destiny. Since you are a person that believes in God, so you should seek holiness and change. Since you are a creature of God, so you should adhere to your duty, and keep your place, and must not overstep your duty. This is not to constrain you, or to suppress you through doctrine, but is the path through which you can perform your duty, and can be achieved—and should be achieved—by all those who do righteousness. If you compare the substances of Peter and Paul, then you will know how you should seek. Of the paths walked by Peter and Paul, one is the path of being made perfect, and one is the path of elimination; Peter and Paul represent two different paths. Though each received the work of the Holy Spirit, and each gained the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit, and each accepted that which had been entrusted to them by the Lord Jesus, the fruit borne in each was not the same: One truly bore fruit, and the other did not. From their substances, the work that they did, that which was outwardly expressed by them, and their final ends, you should understand which path you should take, which path you should choose to walk upon. They walked two clearly different paths. Paul and Peter, they were the quintessence of each path, and so from the very start they were held up to typify these two paths. What are the key points of Paul’s experiences, and why did he not make it? What are the key points of Peter’s experiences, and how did he experience being made perfect? If you compare what they each cared about, then you will know what exact kind of person God requires, what the will of God is, what the disposition of God is, what kind of person will ultimately be made perfect, and also what kind of person will not be made perfect, what the disposition is of those who will be made perfect, and what the disposition is of those who will not be made perfect—these issues of substance can be seen in the experiences of Peter and Paul. God created all things, and so He makes all creation come under His dominion, and submit to His dominion; He will command all things, so that all things are in His hands. All creation of God, including animals, plants, mankind, the mountains and rivers, and the lakes—all must come under His dominion. All things in the skies and on the ground must come under His dominion. They cannot have any choice, and must all submit to His orchestrations. This was decreed by God, and is the authority of God. God commands everything, and orders and ranks all things, with each classed according to kind, and allotted their own position, according to God’s will. No matter how great it is, no thing can surpass God, and all things serve the mankind created by God, and no thing dares to disobey God or make any demands of God. And so man, as a creature of God, must also perform the duty of man. Regardless of whether he is the lord or ruler of all things, no matter how high man’s status among all things, still he is but a small human being under the dominion of God, and is no more than an insignificant human being, a creature of God, and he will never be above God. As a creature of God, man should seek to perform the duty of a creature of God, and seek to love God without making other choices, for God is worthy of man’s love. Those who seek to love God should not seek any personal benefits or that which they personally long for; this is the most correct means of pursuit. If what you seek is the truth, what you put into practice is the truth, and what you attain is a change in your disposition, then the path that you tread is the right one. If what you seek is the blessings of the flesh, and what you put into practice is the truth of your own conceptions, and if there is no change in your disposition, and you are not at all obedient to God in the flesh, and you still live in vagueness, then what you seek will surely take you to hell, for the path that you walk is the path of failure. Whether you will be made perfect or eliminated depends on your own pursuit, which is also to say that “success or failure depends on the path that man walks.”