Daily Words of God: Knowing God | Excerpt 119
Five Types of People
I will classify God’s followers into several categories according to their understanding of God and their understanding and experience of His righteous disposition, so that you may know the stage you are in currently, as well as your current stature. In terms of people’s knowledge of God and understanding of His righteous disposition, the different stages and statures which people occupy can generally be separated into five types. This topic is predicated on the basis of knowing the unique God and His righteous disposition. Therefore, as you read the following content, you should carefully attempt to figure out exactly how much understanding and knowledge you have regarding God’s uniqueness and His righteous disposition, and then you should use the result to judge which stage you truly belong in, how large your stature truly is, and which type of person you truly are.
Type One: The Stage of the Infant Wrapped in Swaddling Clothes
What is meant by “an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes”? An infant wrapped in swaddling clothes is an infant who has just come into this world, a newborn. It is when people are at their most immature.
People in this stage essentially possess no awareness or consciousness about matters of belief in God. They are bewildered and ignorant about everything. These people may have believed in God for a long time or perhaps not a very long time at all, but their bewildered and ignorant state and their true stature place them within the stage of the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes. The precise definition of the conditions of an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes is as such: No matter how long this kind of person has believed in God, they will always be muddle-headed, confused and simple-minded; they do not know why they believe in God, nor do they know who God is or who is God. Although they follow God, there is no exact definition of God in their heart, and they cannot determine whether the One they follow is God, let alone whether they truly should believe in God and follow Him. This is the true state of this type of person. These people’s thoughts are clouded and, simply put, their belief is muddled. They always exist in a state of bewilderment and blankness; “muddle-headedness,” “confusion,” and “simple-mindedness” summarize their state. They have never seen nor felt God’s existence, and therefore, talking to them about knowing God is as much use as making them read a book written in hieroglyphics—they will neither understand nor accept it. For them, knowing God is the same as hearing a fantastical tale. While their thoughts may be clouded, they actually firmly believe that knowing God is an utter waste of time and effort. This is the first type of person: the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes.
Type Two: The Stage of the Suckling Infant
Compared to an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, this type of person has made some progress. Regrettably, they still have no understanding of God whatsoever. They still lack a clear understanding of God and insight into God, and they are not very clear as to why they should believe in God, yet in their hearts they have their own purpose and clear ideas. They do not concern themselves with whether it is right to believe in God. The objective and purpose they seek through belief in God is to enjoy His grace, to have joy and peace, to live comfortable lives, to enjoy God’s care and protection, and to live under God’s blessings. They are not concerned with the degree to which they know God; they have no urge to seek an understanding of God, and nor are they concerned with what God is doing or what He wishes to do. They only blindly seek to enjoy His grace and obtain more of His blessings; they seek to gain a hundredfold in the present age, and eternal life in the age to come. Their thoughts, how much they expend themselves, their devotion, as well as their suffering, all share the same objective: to obtain God’s grace and blessings. They have no concern for anything else. This type of person is certain only that God can keep people safe and bestow His grace upon them. One can say that they are not interested in nor very clear about why God wishes to save man or the result God wishes to obtain with His words and work. They have never made any effort to know God’s essence and righteous disposition, nor can they muster the interest to do so. They lack the inclination to pay attention to these things, and nor do they wish to know them. They do not wish to ask about God’s work, God’s requirements of man, God’s will, or anything else related to God, and they too lack the inclination to ask about these things. This is because they believe these matters are unrelated to their enjoyment of God’s grace, and they are only concerned with a God who exists in direct relation to their own interests, and who can bestow grace upon man. They have no interest whatsoever in anything else, and so they cannot enter the reality of the truth, regardless of how many years they have believed in God. Without anyone to frequently water or feed them, it is difficult for them to continue down the path of belief in God. If they cannot enjoy their previous joy and peace or God’s grace, then they are quite liable to walk away. This is the second type of person: the person who exists in the stage of the suckling infant.
Type Three: The Stage of the Weaning Infant, or the Stage of the Young Child
This group of people possesses a certain amount of clear awareness. They are aware that enjoying God’s grace does not mean that they themselves possess true experience, and they are aware that even if they never tire of seeking joy and peace, of seeking grace, or if they are able to bear witness by sharing their experiences of enjoying God’s grace or by praising God for the blessings He has bestowed upon them, these things do not mean that they possess life, nor do they mean that they possess the reality of the truth. Beginning from their consciousness, they cease to entertain wild hopes that they will only be accompanied by God’s grace; rather, as they enjoy God’s grace, they simultaneously wish to do something for God. They are willing to perform their duty, to endure a bit of hardship and fatigue, to engage in some degree of cooperation with God. However, because their pursuit in their belief in God is too adulterated, because the individual intentions and desires they harbor are too strong, because their disposition is too wildly arrogant, it is very difficult for them to satisfy God’s desire or to be loyal to God. Therefore, they frequently cannot realize their individual wishes or honor their promises to God. They often find themselves in contradictory states: They very much wish to satisfy God to the greatest possible degree, yet they use all their might to oppose Him, and they often make vows to God but then quickly break their oaths. Even more often they find themselves in other contradictory states: They sincerely believe in God, yet they deny Him and everything that comes from Him; they anxiously hope that God will enlighten them, lead them, supply them and help them, yet they still seek their own way out. They wish to understand and to know God, yet they are unwilling to draw close to Him. Instead, they always avoid God, and their hearts are closed to Him. While they have a superficial understanding and experience of the literal meaning ofand of the truth, and a superficial concept of God and truth, subconsciously they still cannot confirm or determine whether God is the truth, nor confirm whether God is truly righteous. They also cannot determine the realness of God’s disposition and essence, let alone His true existence. Their belief in God always contains doubts and misunderstandings, and it also contains imaginings and notions. As they enjoy God’s grace, they also reluctantly experience or practice some truths that they consider feasible in order to enrich their belief, to augment their experience in believing in God, to verify their understanding of believing in God, and to satisfy their vanity by walking upon the life path that they themselves established and accomplishing a righteous undertaking for mankind. At the same time, they also do these things in order to satisfy their own desire to gain blessings, which is part of a bet that they make in hopes of receiving greater blessings for humanity, and to accomplish their ambitious aspiration and lifelong desire of not resting until they have obtained God. These people are seldom able to obtain God’s enlightenment, for their desire and their intention to gain blessings are too important to them. They have no desire to give this up, and indeed they could not bear to do so. They fear that without the desire to gain blessings, without the long-cherished ambition of not resting until they have obtained God, they will lose the motivation to believe in God. Therefore, they do not wish to face reality. They do not wish to face God’s words or God’s work. They do not wish to face up to God’s disposition or essence, let alone mention the subject of knowing God. This is because once God, His essence, and His righteous disposition replace their imaginings, their dreams will go up in smoke, and their so-called pure faith and “merits” accumulated through years of painstaking work will vanish and come to nothing. Likewise, their “territory” that they have conquered with their sweat and blood over the years will face collapse. All of this will signify that their many years of hard work and effort have been futile, and that they must begin again from nothing. This is the hardest pain for them to bear in their hearts, and it is the result that they least desire to see, which is why they are always locked in this kind of stalemate, refusing to turn back. This is the third type of person: the person who exists in the stage of the weaning infant.
The three types of people described above—meaning the people who exist in these three stages—do not possess any true belief in God’s identity and status or in His righteous disposition, and nor do they have any clear, accurate recognition or affirmation of these things. Therefore, it is very difficult for these three types of people to enter the reality of the truth, and it is also difficult for them to receive God’s mercy, enlightenment or illumination because the manner in which they believe in God and their mistaken attitude toward God make it impossible for Him to perform work within their hearts. Their doubts, misconceptions and imaginings about God exceed their belief and knowledge of God. These are three types of people who are very much at risk, and they are three very dangerous stages. When one maintains an attitude of doubt toward God, God’s essence, God’s identity, the matter of whether God is the truth and the realness of His existence, and when one cannot be sure of these things, how can one accept everything that comes from God? How can one accept the fact that God is the truth, the way and the life? How can one accept God’s chastisement and judgment? How can one accept God’s salvation? How can this kind of person obtain God’s true guidance and provision? Those who are in these three stages can oppose God, pass judgment on God, blaspheme God or betray God at any time. They can abandon the true way and forsake God at any time. One can say that people in these three stages exist in a critical period, for they have not entered the right track of believing in God.
Type Four: The Stage of the Maturing Child, or Childhood
After a person has been weaned—that is, after they have enjoyed an ample amount of grace—they begin to explore what it means to believe in God, they begin to wish to understand different questions, such as why man lives, how man should live, and why God performs His work upon man. When these unclear thoughts and confused thought patterns emerge within them and exist within them, they continuously receive watering, and they are also able to perform their duty. During this period, they no longer have any doubts as to the truth of God’s existence, and they have an accurate grasp of what it means to believe in God. Upon this foundation they gain a gradual knowledge of God, and they gradually obtain some answers to their unclear thoughts and confused thought patterns as to God’s disposition and essence. In terms of their changes in disposition as well as their knowledge of God, people in this stage begin to embark upon the right track, and they enter a transition period. It is within this stage that people begin to have life. Clear indications of possessing life are the gradual solving of the various questions related to knowing God that people have in their hearts—such as misunderstandings, imaginings, notions, and vague definitions of God—and not only do they come to really believe and recognize the realness of God’s existence, but they also come to possess an accurate definition of God and have the correct place for God in their hearts, and truly following God replaces their vague faith. During this stage, people gradually come to know their misconceptions toward God and their mistaken pursuits and ways of belief. They begin to crave the truth, to crave experiencing God’s judgment, chastening and discipline, and to crave a change in their disposition. They gradually leave behind all sorts of notions and imaginings about God during this stage, and at the same time they change and rectify their incorrect knowledge of God and obtain some correct fundamental knowledge of God. Although a portion of the knowledge possessed by people at this stage is not very specific or accurate, at the very least they gradually begin to abandon their notions, mistaken knowledge, and misunderstandings of God; they no longer maintain their own notions and imaginings about God. They begin to learn how to abandon—to abandon things found among their own notions, things from knowledge, and things from Satan; they begin to be willing to submit to correct and positive things, even to things that come from God’s words and which conform to the truth. They also begin to attempt to experience God’s words, to personally know and carry out His words, to accept His words as the principles for their actions and as the basis for changing their disposition. During this period, people unconsciously accept God’s judgment and chastisement, and unconsciously accept God’s words as their life. While they accept God’s judgment, chastisement, and words, they become increasingly aware and able to sense that the God they believe in within their hearts truly exists. In God’s words, in their experiences and their lives, they increasingly feel that God has always presided over man’s fate and has always led and provided for man. Through their association with God, they gradually confirm God’s existence. Therefore, before they realize it, they have already subconsciously approved of and begun to firmly believe in God’s work, and they have approved of God’s words. Once people approve of God’s words and work, they unceasingly deny themselves, deny their own notions, deny their own knowledge, deny their own imaginings, and at the same time also unceasingly seek what the truth is and what God’s will is. People’s knowledge of God is quite superficial during this period of development—they are even unable to clearly elaborate on this knowledge in words, nor can they express it in terms of specific details—and they only have a perception-based understanding; however, when juxtaposed with the preceding three stages, the immature lives of people in this period have already received watering and the supply of God’s words, and thus have already begun to sprout. Their lives are like a seed buried in the ground; after obtaining moisture and nutrients, it will break through the soil, and its sprouting will represent the birth of a new life. This birth allows one to glimpse the signs of life. When people have life, they grow. Therefore, upon these foundations—gradually making their way onto the right track of believing in God, abandoning their own notions, obtaining God’s guidance—people’s lives will inevitably grow little by little. Upon what basis is this growth measured? It is measured according to the person’s experience with God’s words and their true understanding of God’s righteous disposition. Although they find it very difficult to use their own words to accurately describe their knowledge of God and His essence during this period of growth, this group of people is no longer subjectively willing to pursue pleasure through the enjoyment of God’s grace, or to believe in God in order to pursue their own purpose of obtaining His grace. Instead, they are willing to pursue a life lived by God’s word and to become the subjects of God’s salvation. Moreover, they are confident and ready to accept God’s judgment and chastisement. This is the mark of a person in the stage of growth.
Although people in this stage have some knowledge of God’s righteous disposition, this knowledge is very hazy and indistinct. While they cannot clearly elaborate on these things, they feel they have already gained something internally, for they have obtained some measure of knowledge and understanding of God’s righteous disposition through God’s chastisement and judgment. However, it is all rather superficial, and it is still at an elementary stage. This group of people has a specific point of view with which they treat God’s grace, which is expressed in the changes to the objectives they pursue and the way in which they pursue them. They have already seen in God’s words and work, in all kinds of His requirements of man and in His revelations of man, that if they still do not pursue the truth, if they still do not seek to enter reality, if they still do not seek to satisfy and know God as they experience His words, then they will lose the meaning of believing in God. They see that no matter how much they enjoy God’s grace, they cannot change their disposition, satisfy God or know God, and that if people continuously live under God’s grace then they will never achieve growth, obtain life or be able to receive salvation. In summary, if a person cannot truly experience God’s words and is unable to know God through His words, then they will eternally remain at the stage of an infant and never make a single step forward in the growth of their life. If you forever exist in the stage of an infant, if you never enter the reality of God’s word, if you never have God’s word as your life, if you never possess true belief and knowledge of God, then is there any possibility for you to be made complete by God? Therefore, anyone who enters the reality of God’s word, anyone who accepts God’s word as their life, anyone who begins to accept God’s chastisement and judgment, anyone whose corrupt disposition begins to change, and anyone who has a heart that craves the truth, who has a desire to know God and a desire to accept God’s salvation, these are the people who truly possess life. This is truly the fourth type of person, that of the maturing child, the person in the stage of childhood.
Type Five: The Stage of Life’s Maturation, or the Adult Stage
After experiencing and toddling through the stage of childhood, a stage of growth full of repeated ups and downs, people’s lives become stabilized, their forward paces no longer pause, and nobody is able to obstruct them. Although the path ahead is still rough and rugged, they are no longer weak or fearful, and they no longer fumble ahead or lose their bearings. Their foundations are rooted deep within the real experience of God’s word, and their hearts have been drawn in by God’s dignity and greatness. They crave to follow God’s footsteps, to know God’s essence, to know everything about God.
People in this stage already know clearly who they believe in, and they know clearly why they should believe in God and the meaning of their own lives, and they know clearly that everything God expresses is the truth. In their many years of experience, they realize that without God’s judgment and chastisement, a person will never be able to satisfy or know God and will never truly be able to come before God. Within these people’s hearts is a strong desire to be tried by God, so that they may see God’s righteous disposition while being tried, and to attain a purer love, and at the same time be able to more truly understand and know God. People in this stage have already entirely bid farewell to the infant stage, and the stage of enjoying God’s grace and eating their fill of bread. They no longer place extravagant hopes on making God tolerate and show mercy to them; rather, they are confident to receive and hope for God’s unceasing chastisement and judgment, so as to separate themselves from their corrupt disposition and satisfy God. Their knowledge of God and their pursuits, or the final goals of their pursuits, are all very clear in their hearts. Therefore, people in the adult stage have already completely bid farewell to the stage of vague faith, to the stage in which they rely on grace for salvation, to the stage of immature life that cannot withstand trials, to the stage of haziness, to the stage of fumbling, to the stage of frequently having no path to walk, to the unstable period of alternating between sudden heat and cold, and to the stage where one follows God with one’s eyes covered. People of this type frequently receive God’s enlightenment and illumination, and frequently engage in true association and communication with God. One can say that people living in this stage have already grasped part of God’s will, that they are able to find the principles of the truth in everything they do, and that they know how to satisfy God’s desire. Furthermore, they have also found the path to knowing God and have begun to bear witness to their knowledge of God. During the process of gradual growth, they gain a gradual understanding and knowledge of God’s will: of God’s will in creating humanity, and of God’s will in managing humanity. They also gradually gain understanding and knowledge of God’s righteous disposition in terms of essence. No human notion or imagining can replace this knowledge. While one cannot say that in the fifth stage a person’s life is completely mature or that this person is righteous or complete, this kind of person has nonetheless already taken a step toward the stage of maturity in life and is already able to come before God, to stand face to face with God’s word and with God. Because this kind of person has experienced so much of God’s word, experienced innumerable trials and experienced innumerable instances of discipline, judgment and chastisement from God, their submission to God is not relative but absolute. Their knowledge of God has transformed from subconscious to clear and precise knowledge, from superficial to deep, from blurry and hazy to meticulous and tangible. They have moved on from strenuous fumbling and passive seeking to effortless knowledge and proactive witnessing. It can be said that people in this stage possess the reality of the truth of God’s word, that they have stepped onto a path to perfection like that path Peter walked. This is the fifth type of person, one who lives in a state of maturation—the adult stage.