56. The Principles of Addressing Notions and Imaginings
Relevant Words of God:
God Himself is life, and the truth, and His life and truth coexist. Those who are incapable of gaining the truth shall never gain life. Without the guidance, support, and provision of the truth, you shall only gain letters, doctrines, and, above all, death. God’s life is ever-present, and His truth and life coexist. If you cannot find the source of truth, then you will not gain the nourishment of life; if you cannot gain the provision of life, then you will surely have no truth, and so apart from imaginations and notions, the entirety of your body shall be nothing but your flesh—your stench-ridden flesh. Know that the words of books do not count as life, the records of history cannot be feted as the truth, and the regulations of the past cannot serve as an account of words presently spoken by God. Only that which is expressed by God when He comes to earth and lives among man is the truth, life, God’s will, and His current way of working.
Excerpted from “Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
People’s notions must be resolved using the truth; they cannot be simply put aside with a man-made solution—it is not that easy. People have no commitment to righteous matters, but are liable to cling to notions or heretical and absurd things, which they find hard to put aside. What is the cause of this? It is because they have the corrupt disposition of Satan. Whether people’s notions are large or small, serious or not, if they do not have a corrupt disposition, these notions are easy to solve. Notions, at the end of the day, are just a way of thinking. But because of people’s corrupt dispositions, such as hardness, wickedness and arrogance, notions become a fuse which causes people to resist, misinterpret, and even pass judgment on God. They might not say it, but their behavior shows that they resist and do not accept God’s perspective. Governed by a corrupt disposition, they cling to their notions—this is caused by their disposition. And so, as notions are solved, so too are people’s corrupt dispositions. If people’s corrupt dispositions are solved, then many of their immature, childish thoughts—even the notions that have already taken shape—are not an issue for them; they are just thoughts, and do not affect the performance of your duty, or your obedience to God. Notions and corrupt dispositions are connected. Sometimes a notion exists in your heart, but if it does not infringe upon your immediate interests, you ignore it. Ignoring it, however, does not mean there is not a corrupt disposition behind your notion, and when something happens that is in conflict with your notions, you cling to them with a certain attitude, an attitude dominated by your disposition. This disposition could be hardness, it could be arrogance, and it could be viciousness; you shoot your mouth off to God, saying, “My point of view has been academically ratified many times. People have held such views for thousands of years, so why shouldn’t I? If You are not right, how can You still say it is the truth, and above all else? My perspective is the highest of all mankind!” One notion can lead to you behaving like this, to such bluster. What causes this? It is caused by corrupt dispositions. The relationship between notions and people’s corrupt dispositions is great, and their notions must be resolved. Once people’s notions about faith in God have been addressed, it becomes easy for them to submit to the work arrangements of the house of God, and so they perform their duty more smoothly, they are not side-tracked, they do not meddle or interrupt, and they do not do anything that brings shame upon God.
Excerpted from “Only by Resolving One’s Notions Can One Enter the Right Track of Believing in God (1)” in Records of Christ’s Talks
You have believed in God for all these years, and though you understand some truths, inside each of you are your own interpretations, beliefs, and imaginings—and they all contravene and contradict the intentions of God and the truth. These things are people’s notions. Everything that is at odds with the truth belongs to the notions and imaginings of man. So how do the notions of man come about? There are many different causes. Partly it is the dissemination and inculcation of knowledge; so, too, is there the creeping influence of traditional culture and the impact of social trends and certain family teachings. Overall, man has been indoctrinated by the wicked society of Satan; this is the root cause of his notions.
Excerpted from “Only by Resolving One’s Notions Can One Enter the Right Track of Believing in God (1)” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Because there are always new developments in God’s work, there is work that becomes obsolete and old as new work arises. These different types of work, old and new, are not contradictory, but complementary; each step follows from the last. Because there is new work, the old things must, of course, be eliminated. For example, some of the long-established practices and habitual sayings of man, coupled with man’s many years of experience and teachings, have formed all manner and form of notions in the mind of man. That God has yet fully to reveal His true face and inherent disposition to man, along with the spread, over many years, of traditional theories from ancient times have been yet more propitious to man’s formation of such notions. It may be said that, over the course of man’s belief in God, the influence of various notions has led to the continual formation and evolution of all sorts of notional understandings of God in people, which has caused many religious people who serve God to become His enemies. So, the stronger people’s religious notions are, the more they oppose God, and the more they are the enemies of God. The work of God is always new and never old; it never forms doctrine, instead changing continually and being renewed to a greater or lesser extent. Working in this way is an expression of the inherent disposition of God Himself. It is also the inherent principle of God’s work, and one of the means by which God accomplishes His management. If God did not work in this way, man would not change or be able to know God, and Satan would not be defeated. Thus, in His work, changes continually occur that appear erratic, but which are actually periodic. The way in which man believes in God, however, is quite different. He clings to old, familiar doctrines and systems, and the older they are, the more palatable they are to him. How could the foolish mind of man, a mind that is as intransigent as stone, accept so much unfathomable new work and words of God? Man abhors the God who is always new and never old; he likes only the old God, who is long of tooth, white of hair, and stuck in place. Thus, because God and man each have their own likes, man has become the enemy of God. Many of these contradictions still exist even today, at a time when God has been doing new work for almost six thousand years. They are, then, beyond remedy. Perhaps it is because of the stubbornness of man, or the inviolability of God’s administrative decrees by any man—but those clergymen and women cling still to moldy old books and papers, while God carries on with His uncompleted work of management, as if He had no one by His side. Though these contradictions make enemies of God and man, and are even irresolvable, God pays them no heed, as if they were at once there and not there. Man, however, still sticks by his beliefs and notions, and never lets go of them. Yet one thing is self-evident: Even though man does not deviate from his stance, God’s feet are always moving, and He is always changing His stance according to the environment. In the end, it is man who will be defeated without a fight. God, meanwhile, is the greatest enemy of all His defeated foes, and is also the champion of mankind, defeated and undefeated alike. Who can compete with God and be victorious? Man’s notions seem to come from God because many of them were born in the wake of God’s work. However, God does not forgive man because of this, nor, moreover, does He pour praise on man for producing batch after batch of products “for God” in the wake of His work that are outside of His work. Instead, He is extremely disgusted by man’s notions and old, pious beliefs, and does not even have a mind to acknowledge the date on which these notions first emerged. He does not accept at all that these notions are caused by His work, for the notions of man are spread by man; their source is the thoughts and mind of man—not God, but Satan. God’s intention has always been for His work to be new and alive, not old and dead, and what He has man adhere to varies with the age and period, and is not everlasting and immutable. This is because He is a God who causes man to live and be new, rather than a devil who causes man to die and be old. Do you still not understand this? You have notions about God and are incapable of letting go of them because you are close-minded. It is not because there is too little sense within God’s work, nor because the work of God diverges from human wishes, nor, moreover, is it because God is always negligent in His duties. You cannot let go of your notions because you are too lacking in obedience, and because you have not the slightest likeness of a created being; it is not because God is making things difficult for you. You caused all of this, and it bears no relation at all to God; all suffering and misfortune is created by man. God’s thoughts are always good: He does not wish to cause you to produce notions, but wishes for you to change and be renewed as the ages pass. Yet you do not know what is good for you, and are always either scrutinizing or analyzing. It is not that God is making things difficult for you, but that you have no reverence for God, and your disobedience is too great. A tiny created being, daring to take some trivial part of that which was previously given by God, then turning around and using it to attack God—is this not the disobedience of man? Humans, it is fair to say, are utterly unqualified to express their views before God, and less still are they qualified to parade around their worthless, stinking, rotten, flowery language as they wish—to say nothing of those moldy notions. Are they not even more worthless?
Excerpted from “Only Those Who Know the Work of God Today May Serve God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Know that you oppose God’s work, or use your own notions to measure the work of today, because you do not know the principles of God’s work, and because you do not take the work of the Holy Spirit seriously enough. Your opposition to God and obstruction of the work of the Holy Spirit is caused by your notions and inherent arrogance. It is not because God’s work is wrong, but because you are naturally too disobedient. After finding their belief in God, some people cannot even say with certainty where man came from, yet they dare to make public speeches appraising the rights and wrongs of the Holy Spirit’s work. They even lecture the apostles who have the Holy Spirit’s new work, passing comment and speaking out of turn; their humanity is too low, and there is not the slightest sense in them. Will the day not come when such people are rejected by the work of the Holy Spirit, and burned by the fires of hell? They do not know the work of God, but instead criticize His work, and also try to instruct God how to work. How can such unreasonable people know God? Man comes to know God during the process of seeking and experiencing; it is not through criticizing at whim that man comes to know God through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. The more accurate people’s knowledge of God becomes, the less they oppose Him. In contrast, the less people know of God, the more likely they are to oppose Him. Your notions, your old nature, and your humanity, character and moral outlook are the “capital” with which you resist God, and the more corrupt, degraded and low you become, the more you are the enemy of God. Those who are possessed of strong notions and who have a self-righteous disposition are even more in enmity of God incarnate; such people are the antichrists. If your notions are not rectified, then they will always be against God; you will never be compatible with God, and will always be apart from Him.
Only by putting aside your old notions can you gain new knowledge, yet old knowledge is not necessarily equivalent to old notions. “Notions” refers to the things imagined by man that are at odds with reality. If the old knowledge was already outdated in the old age and stopped man from entering into the new work, then such knowledge is also a notion. If man is able to take the correct approach to such knowledge and can come to know God from several different aspects, combining the old and the new, then the old knowledge becomes an aid to man, and becomes the basis by which man enters the new age. … Man thinks that his notions are right and without error, and he thinks that these notions come from God. Today, when man witnesses the work of God, he lets loose notions that have built up over many years. The imaginings and ideas of the past have become an obstruction to the work of this stage, and it has become difficult for man to let go of such notions and to refute such ideas. The notions toward this step-by-step work of many of those who have followed God until today have become ever more grievous, and these people have gradually formed a stubborn enmity to the God incarnate. The source of this hatred lies in the notions and imaginings of man. The notions and imaginings of man have become the enemy of the work of today, work which is at odds with the notions of man. This has happened precisely because facts do not allow man to give free rein to his imagination, and, moreover, cannot be easily refuted by man, and the notions and imaginings of man do not brook the existence of facts, and, furthermore, because man does not give thought to the correctness and veracity of facts, and merely single-mindedly lets loose his notions and employs his own imagination. This can only be said to be the fault of the notions of man, and cannot be said to be a fault of the work of God. Man may imagine whatever he wishes, but he may not freely dispute any stage of God’s work or any bit of it; the fact of God’s work is inviolable by man.
Excerpted from “Knowing the Three Stages of God’s Work Is the Path to Knowing God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
When God becomes flesh and comes to work among men, all behold Him and hear His words, and all see the deeds that God works from within His body of flesh. At that moment, all man’s notions become foam. As for those who have seen God appearing in the flesh, they shall not be condemned if they willingly obey Him, whereas those who purposefully stand against Him shall be deemed an opponent of God. Such people are antichrists, enemies who willfully stand against God. Those who harbor notions regarding God but are still ready and willing to obey Him will not be condemned. God condemns man on the basis of man’s intentions and actions, never for his thoughts and ideas. If He were to condemn man on the basis of his thoughts and ideas, then not a single person would be able to escape from the wrathful hands of God. Those who willfully stand against the incarnate God shall be punished for their disobedience. With regard to these people that willfully stand against God, their opposition stems from the fact that they harbor notions about God, which leads them in turn into actions that disrupt God’s work. These people intentionally resist and destroy the work of God. They do not merely have notions about God, but they also engage in activities that disrupt His work, and for this reason people of this kind shall be condemned. Those who do not willfully disrupt God’s work shall not be condemned as sinners, because they are able to willingly obey and not engage in activities that cause disruption and disturbance. People like this shall not be condemned. However, when people have experienced God’s work for many years, if they continue to harbor notions about God and remain unable to know the work of the incarnate God, and if, no matter how many years they have experienced His work, they continue to be filled with notions about God and are still unable to come to know Him, then even if they do not engage in disruptive activities, their hearts are nevertheless filled with many notions about God, and even if these notions do not become apparent, people like this are of no help whatsoever to the work of God. They are unable to spread the gospel for God or stand witness to Him. People like this are good-for-nothings and imbeciles. Because they do not know God and are moreover wholly incapable of casting away their notions about Him, they are therefore condemned. It can be said like this: It is normal for novices in the faith to hold notions about God or to know nothing of Him, but for one who has believed in God for many years and experienced a good deal of His work, it would not be normal for such a person to continue to hold notions, and it would be even less normal for someone like this to have no knowledge of God. It is because this is not a normal state that they are condemned. These abnormal people are all garbage; they are the ones who oppose God the most and who have enjoyed the grace of God for nothing. All such people shall be eliminated in the end!
Excerpted from “All People Who Do Not Know God Are People Who Oppose God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
I say all these words to you today so that you may know, so that this knowledge may lead you to a newer, accurate knowledge; I also say these words in order to eradicate the old notions and the old way of knowing in you, so that you may possess new knowledge. If you truly eat and drink My words, then your knowledge will change considerably. As long as you eat and drink God’s words with a heart of obedience, then your perspective will be reversed. As long as you are able to accept the repeated chastisements, your old mentality will gradually change. As long as your old mentality is thoroughly replaced with the new, your practice will also change accordingly. In this way, your service will become increasingly on-target, increasingly able to fulfill God’s will. If you can change your life, your knowledge of human life, and your many notions about God, then your naturalness will gradually diminish. This, and nothing short of this, is the effect when God conquers people, it is the change that occurs in people.
Excerpted from “The Inside Truth of the Work of Conquest (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
People’s notions may have no effect on what they eat or how they sleep, and they may not impact their normal human lives, but they do exist in people’s minds and thoughts, they cling to people like a shadow, following them around all the time. Unless you constantly remove them, they will constantly control your behavior and thinking, they will control your judgment, they will control your knowledge of God, and they will control your relationship with God. People having notions about God is like a wall standing between them and God, one that stops them from seeing the true face of God, that stops them from seeing the true disposition and true substance of God—for people live among their notions, and among their imaginings, and they use their notions to determine whether God is right or wrong, and to measure, condemn, and judge all that God does. What kind of state are people often plunged into by doing this? Can people truly submit to God when they live among their notions? Can they have true faith in God? Even when they do submit a little, it is according to their own notions and imaginings. As soon as someone submits according to their notions and imaginings, it becomes tainted with personal things that are of Satan and the outside world, and that are at odds with the truth. The problem of people’s notions about God is a serious one; it is a major issue between man and God that urgently needs to be resolved. Everyone who comes before God brings notions, they bring all manner of suspicions about God. So, too, can it be said that they bring myriad misunderstandings about God in the face of all that God bestows upon them, in the face of His arrangements and orchestrations. And what kind of relationship with God are they then faced with? People constantly misunderstand God, they are constantly suspicious of God, and they constantly use their own standards to measure whether God is right or wrong, to measure each of His words and works. What is this behavior? They are rebelling against, opposing, condemning, blaspheming against, passing judgment on, competing with—and, in more serious cases, “dueling” with—God. At the most grievous extent, people’s notions render them incapable of accepting the true God Himself, of accepting and obeying the truth, and so they are liable to deny the existence of God and forsake the God they follow. This is a frightening problem.
Excerpted from “Only by Resolving One’s Notions Can One Enter the Right Track of Believing in God (1)” in Records of Christ’s Talks
God’s salvation of man is not just empty words. He expresses all these truths in order to address the things of corrupt mankind that are at odds with the truth—their notions, imaginings, knowledge, philosophies, traditional culture, etc.—and, by dissecting these things, to make man understand what constitutes positive things, what constitutes negative things, which things come from God, which things come from Satan, what the truth is, and what the philosophies and logic of Satan are. When people see these things for what they really are, they will naturally choose to pursue the correct path of life, and they are able to practice the truth, to do as God asks, and discern negative things. This is what God asks of man, and so, too, is it the standard by which He perfects and saves people. Some people say, “Dissect our notions? I have no notions. People who have notions are usually wily old foxes, or else theologians and hypocritical Pharisees. I’m not like that.” What is the problem here? They do not know themselves. No matter what is fellowshiped to them, they are incapable of applying it to themselves. This is ignorance, and they have no understanding of spiritual things. Are you able to think in this way? Today, most people do not think like that. They have heard many sermons, they sense that everyone has these passive, negative corruptions and notions, and that there is nothing shameful in dissecting them; after dissecting them, furthermore, they believe that it will help others develop discernment, and they themselves will grow, and be able to understand the truth more quickly. For this reason they are all able to openly dissect themselves. Well, in that case, what is the aim of dissecting notions? It is to put aside these notions, to address misunderstandings between man and God, and then enable people to focus on what God asks of man, to know how to enter onto the path of salvation, and to know what to do to practice the truth. Ultimately, by continually practicing in this way, the intended effect is achieved: On the one hand, people will come to understand the will of God and become able to submit to God, and on the other, they will have the immunity to reject and resist many negative things, such as wicked notions and imaginings, and things that arise from knowledge. If, when faced with a religious intellectual, a theologian, or a religious pastor or elder, you can see through them as soon as you start to talk with them, and are able to use the truth to refute their myriad notions, imaginings, heresies, and fallacies, then this shows that you are able to identify negative things, that you have understood some truths, that you are possessed of a certain stature, and so are not intimidated by these religious leaders and figures. The knowledge, the learning, and the philosophies they talk about—even all of their ideologies and theories—are untenable, for you have seen through the letters and doctrine, the notions and imaginings, of religion, and the things of religion can deceive you no longer. But you are not there yet. When you encounter these religious fraudsters and Pharisees, or anyone with a little status, you are intimidated; you know what they are saying is wrong, that it consists of notions and imaginings, born of knowledge, but you do not know how to repudiate it, you do not know from where to start dissecting it, or which words to expose these people with. Does this not show that you still have not understood the truth? So you must equip yourselves with the truth and learn to dissect yourselves. When you have understood the truth, you will be able to see through other people, but if you do not understand the truth, you will never see through them. To see through people and things, you must understand the truth; without the truth as your foundation, as your life, you will not be able to deeply penetrate anything.
When people have resolved various notions and imaginings, they have knowledge and experience of God’s words, and at the same time they have also entered the reality of God’s words. In the process of entering the reality of God’s words, the various notions and imaginings that arise in people are resolved, one-by-one, and there is a change in people’s knowledge of God’s work, God’s substance, and the various attitudes God has toward people. How is this change brought about? It is brought about when people put aside their various notions and imaginings, when they put aside the various ideas and perspectives that come from knowledge, philosophy, traditional culture or the outside world, and instead accept the various points of view that come from God and that are connected to the truth. And so, when people accept the words of God as their life, they also enter into the reality of God’s words, and are able to regard and think about questions using the truth, and resolve issues using the truth; these are the changes that resolving notions brings to people’s lives and their existence. When people achieve such changes, their relationship with God becomes one of created beings and Creator. In relationships at this level, there is no competition, no temptation, and very little rebellion; people are much more obedient, understanding, worshipful, faithful, and honest toward God, and they truly fear God. But resolving people’s notions is a very painful process. People must deny themselves, they must put aside their notions, put aside the things they believe to be right, put aside the things that they cling to, put aside the things they have believed to be correct and which they have pursued and longed for their whole lives. This means that people must forsake themselves, must put aside the knowledge, philosophies—even their way of existence—that were learned from the world of Satan, and replace them with another way of living, the foundation and the root of existence of which is the truth. As such, people must endure great suffering. Such suffering may not be physical illness or the hardship and difficulties of daily life, but it may come from a change in all types of views of different things and of mankind in your heart, or it may even come from a change in the various aspects of the knowledge you have of God, which turns upside down your original knowledge and view of the world, human existence, mankind, and even God.