Only by Resolving One’s Notions Can One Embark on the Right Track of Belief in God (1)
You have believed in God for all these years, and though you understand some truths, inside each of your hearts there are your own interpretations, beliefs, and imaginings—and they all completely contravene and contradict the truth and God’s will. What are these things? These things are people’s notions. Even though man has no truth at all, their minds are capable of producing many notions and imaginings, all of which are incompatible with the truth. Everything that is at odds with the truth pertains 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 conditioning of traditional culture, as well as the dissemination and inculcation of knowledge, the impact of social trends and family teachings, and so on. In China—a country that has been ruled by atheism for thousands of years—what understanding and definition of God do people have? Although God is invisible and intangible, He really exists, He can fly here and there through the air, coming and going without a trace, appearing and disappearing suddenly, able to walk through walls, unhindered by any material or space, and with tremendous abilities, totally omnipotent—these are the notions and imaginings people have about God. So, how do people’s imaginings and notions come about? They are predominantly related to the education and conditioning of traditional culture. The teaching of atheism has been around in China for millennia and long ago planted its atheistic seeds in people’s innermost hearts. During this time, Satan and all kinds of evil spirits have performed many signs and wonders among the people in order to deceive and control them. These things spread far and wide among the people, and they have a terrible impact. These evil spirits act recklessly to deceive, fool, and harm people, and so people have developed many notions and imaginings about God. In conclusion, people’s notions and imaginings come entirely from the evil social conditioning and indoctrination of Satan. From ancient times up till today, generation after generation of people have received Satan’s teaching and have received the dissemination and indoctrination of traditional culture and knowledge, and thus have produced all manner of notions and imaginings. Even though these things have not directly impacted people’s work, studies, and normal lives, it is these notions and imaginings which have been a tremendous obstacle to people accepting and submitting to God’s work. Even if people have accepted God’s work, these things still present a great hindrance to their knowing and obeying God, causing them to have very little faith, to often feel negative and weak, and to find it very difficult to stand firm in trials, even after many years spent believing in God. These are the consequences of having notions and imaginings.
Most people believe that belief in God means doing good things and being a good person. For example, they believe that someone is only a believer in God if they give alms to the poor. If someone does lots of good things and is praised by others, they thank God from their heart and say to people, “Don’t thank me. You should thank the God in heaven, for it was He who taught me to do this.” After being complimented by people, they feel so satisfied and soothed, and they believe that faith in God is good, that they are approved of by people and will certainly be approved of by God as well. Where does this feeling of being soothed come from? (Their notions and imaginings.) Is their feeling of being soothed real or false? (False.) But to them it is real, and they feel very grounded, practical, and real, because what they have pursued is this feeling of being soothed. How does this feeling of being soothed come about? This false impression has come about because of their notions, and it is their notions that have caused them to think that this is how belief in God should be, that they should be this kind of person, that they should act in this way, that God will certainly be pleased with them for having done these things, and that they will certainly attain salvation and enter the kingdom of heaven in the end. Where does this “certainly” come from? (From people’s notions.) It’s their notions and imaginings which give them this certainty and this false impression, and which make them feel so comfortable. And how does God actually measure and determine this matter? It is only a kind of good behavior, done in accordance with people’s notions and people’s human goodness. One day, this person does something which goes against principles and they get dealt with, and they then discover that God’s criteria for measuring good people are not as they thought and that God’s words do not say any such thing, and so they feel resistant and think, “Am I not a good person? I’ve been a good person all these years and no one has ever said I wasn’t a good person. Only God says I’m not a good person!” Isn’t there a problem here? How has this problem come about? It has come about because of their notions. What is the main culprit here? (Notions.) The main culprit is people’s notions. People’s notions often cause them to misunderstand God and often make all kinds of demands and judgments about God and have all kinds of criteria for measuring God; they cause people to often use certain incorrect thoughts and views to measure whether things are right or wrong, whether someone is good or bad, and to measure whether someone is loyal to God and has faith in God. What is the root cause of these mistakes? It is people’s notions. People’s notions may have no effect on what they eat or how they sleep, and they may not impact their normal lives, but they do exist in people’s minds and in their thoughts, they cling to people like a shadow, following them around all the time. If you aren’t able to resolve them in time, they will constantly control your thinking, your judgment, your behavior, your knowledge of God, and your relationship with God. Do you see this clearly now? Notions are a major problem. 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 essence of God. Why is this? It’s because 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, judge, and condemn 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? (No, they cannot.) Even when people do submit to God a little, they do so according to their own notions and imaginings. When one relies on their notions and imaginings, it becomes tainted with personal things that are of Satan and the world, and it is 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. Or, it can 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 will become of their relationship with God? 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 work. What is this kind of behavior? (It’s rebelliousness and defiance.) That’s right, it’s people rebelling against, defying, and condemning God, and it’s people judging God, blaspheming against God, and competing with Him, and in severe cases people want to take God to court and engage in a “decisive struggle” against Him. What is the most severe level that people’s notions can reach? It is denying the true God Himself, denying that His words are the truth, and condemning the work of God. When people’s notions reach this level, they naturally deny God, condemn God, blaspheme against God and betray God. They not only deny God’s existence, but they refuse to accept the truth and follow God—isn’t this frightening? (Yes.) This is a frightening problem. Notions can be said to be entirely harmful to people, without a single benefit. That’s why today we fellowship on and dissect what notions are and what notions people harbor—this is so very necessary. What notions will arise in you ordinarily? Which of your thoughts, understandings, judgments, and views pertain to your notions? Isn’t this worth considering? People’s behavior does not pertain to their notions, but the thoughts and views behind that behavior are directly related to their notions. People’s notions do not fall outside the scope of God’s work. One: The various notions people have regarding belief in God. That is, people have different imaginings and definitions of belief in God, what they should gain from their belief in God, and what path they should walk in their belief in God, and so they come to have all manner of notions. Two: People’s notions about the incarnation of God. People have even more imaginings and definitions of the incarnation, and so naturally they come to have many notions—these are interrelated. Three: The notions people have about God’s work. People have various different imaginings and definitions about the truth God expresses, the disposition God reveals, and the way God works, and so they come to have many notions. We can divide these three points up into even more detail, however these three points basically cover all of people’s notions, so let’s fellowship on them one by one.
Now let’s talk about the first point, the various notions people have regarding belief in God. These kinds of notions are somewhat broad in scope. Regardless of whether people are strangers to belief in God or whether they’ve believed in God before, they have lots of notions and imaginings when they first start to believe in God. When they first start reading the Bible, people feel a surge in their hearts, and think, “I’m going to be a good person; I’m going to get into heaven.” Afterward, they come to have all kinds of imaginings and definitions or fixed ideas about belief in God, and they will certainly come to have different notions. For example, people imagine all kinds of things about the kind of person they should be after they start believing in God. Someone says, “After I start believing in God, I’m not going to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, or gamble anymore. I won’t go to those wicked places. I’m going to speak politely to people and wear a smile on my face.” What is this? Is this a notion, or is it the way people should behave? (It’s the way people should behave.) This is an expression of normal humanity, and people should act this way. This is not a notion, nor is it an imagining—this way of thinking is perfectly rational and reasonable. Some elderly brother says, “I’m old and I’ve believed in God all these years. I should set an example to young people in the way I speak and do things. I should not be giggling or acting improperly for my age. I should look dignified and cultured and have the demeanor of a refined gentleman.” So, when he speaks to young people, he’s serious-faced and overflowing with literary words and phrases, and when young people see him they feel uncomfortable and don’t want to go near him. Brothers and sisters dance and praise God at gatherings, and the old brother believes he needs to control the lust in his eyes and looks only at what is appropriate, so he restrains himself from watching but still mutters in his heart, “These young people live so freely; why do I live feeling so aggrieved? Still, it is necessary to feel a little aggrieved when one believes in God, for who has caused me to get so old!” He says he mustn’t watch the dancers, but still he steals glances, clearly keeping up a pretense. How does this pretense come about? How is it he comes to be in this state of embarrassment? It’s because he has an imagining about the behavior and expressions he should have in his belief in God and, dominated by this imagining, his speech and actions become furtive and feigned. For example, when they sing at gatherings, some people clap their hands as they sing, letting themselves go, but this old brother is as numb and dull-witted as a dead person, without any vitality or human likeness at all. He believes that because he is old, he needs to appear as an old man and not act like a child, naïve and making people laugh at him. In short, everything he expresses is just pretense and he just forces himself to pretend like a big shot. Are other people edified when they witness such feigned behavior? (No.) How do you feel when you see this? First, you feel that he’s hypocritical and it makes you feel uncomfortable; second, you feel that he’s false, there is also a feeling of nausea and disgust, and when talking to him, you feel suffocated and constrained, unable to speak freely. If you’re not careful, you get a lecture off of him, saying, “See what you young people have become, you’re so deeply corrupted! You eat well and wear good clothes, eating like we used to do at New Year and other festivals, and you’re still picky and dissatisfied. When we were little, all we had to eat was grain chaff and wild herbs.” He flaunts his seniority and lectures others, and young people avoid him. He doesn’t understand this and even criticizes the young people for not respecting their elders and behaving badly. Aren’t these things he says laden with notions and human will, not in accord with the truth and unable to edify others? All this is small fry, however. What is key is this: Can he understand the truth by acting in this way? (No.) Is this helpful and beneficial to entering the truth reality? (No.) By practicing and conducting himself in this way, living like this day after day, can it allow him to live before God? Has he ever pondered, “Is my understanding of belief in God in line with the truth and with God’s requirements? What is it God requires? What kind of person does God love? Is there any discrepancy between my understanding and what God requires?” He’s certainly never thought about these questions before. If he had then, even if he hadn’t figured out the answers, he wouldn’t be behaving in such a foolish way. What then is the root cause of him acting in this way? (Notions.) And what is the root cause of his coming to have notions? It’s that he has an erroneous understanding of how people who believe in God should behave and express themselves. And how has this erroneous understanding come about? What is its source? There is the conditioning of traditional culture and the teachings given by schoolteachers. For example, young people should respect the old and love children, while elderly people should act their age, and so on. He therefore develops various strange behaviors, sometimes acting strangely and sometimes wearing strange expressions, but in any case, he doesn’t look entirely normal. Whether he acts strangely or wears strange expressions, as long as he doesn’t understand the truth or God’s requirements, and he doesn’t seek the truth, then how he acts will certainly be estranged from the truth. In such a simple matter—just some external behavior—it’s because people have notions rooted inside their hearts that they do these absurd things. When people don’t understand the truth, don’t understand God’s words, and don’t understand God’s will, then they won’t understand what the standards God requires of people are. When elderly people don’t understand the standards God requires of people, they engage in strange behaviors and expressions, and absurd actions; when young people don’t understand the standards required by God, and their belief in God is based on their imaginings and notions, then they too will engage in certain incorrect expressions and behaviors. What incorrect behaviors and expressions do they engage in? For example, some young people see in God’s words that He requires people to live pure and open, fresh and lively, like children, and they think, “We’ll always be infants before God and we’ll never grow up, so we have to walk and talk like children. I now know how to be one of God’s chosen people and a follower of God, and I now understand what it is to be like a child. I used to be deceitful, appearing so sophisticated, numb and dull-witted, but in the future, I have to act fresher and livelier.” Afterward, they observe how young people act in society nowadays and, once they’ve concluded how to act, they begin practicing it among the brothers and sisters, speaking to everyone in a child’s voice, putting pressure on their throats when they speak and speaking in a sweet, childish tone. In their minds, they think that only this kind of voice is a child’s voice, while at the same time they make certain strange gestures which make people feel incredibly awkward and uncomfortable. They haven’t understood what God means by being pure and open, fresh and lively like a child, and all they do is just external behavior—pretense, mimicry, and affectation. The understanding of people like this is deviant and mistaken. What is the biggest issue here? Not only are they incapable of purely understanding the meaning of God’s words, but on the contrary, they mix God’s words up with the behavior, actions, and trends of the unbelievers. Isn’t this a mistake? They don’t come seek before God, they don’t read God’s words, and they don’t seek the truth; instead, they analyze and study things using their own brains, or else they look for a theoretical basis among the unbelievers, in traditional culture, or in scientific knowledge. Isn’t this a mistake? (Yes, it is.) This is the biggest mistake. Where is there any truth in the knowledge of the unbelievers? If you’re looking for a basis for how to conduct yourself, you can only seek the truth in God’s words. In any case, regardless of what level of understanding people can reach, every one of God’s words and every one of His requirements of man are practical and detailed and are absolutely not as simple as they appear in man’s notions and imaginings. God’s requirements of man are not a decoration for their external appearance, they are not simple behaviors, much less are they just a way of doing things, but rather they are the standards God requires of people; they are the principles and standards by which man should conduct themselves and act, and these principles are what people ought to master and possess. If I don’t fellowship clearly on these detailed problems, then people will only understand some doctrine and will find it difficult to enter into the truth reality.
What we just fellowshiped on was the notions and imaginings people have concerning belief in God in terms of their external behavior. What others do you know in terms of external behavior? Speaking of notions, are notions right or wrong? (Wrong.) Are they positive or are they negative? (Negative.) They definitely run contrary to God’s requirements and the truth; they do not accord with the truth. Regardless of whether people imagine them out of thin air or they have some basis, in any case, none of them have anything to do with the truth. So, what is the purpose of fellowshiping on and dissecting these notions? It’s to first make people aware of what notions are and, at the same time as knowing that these are notions, to also allow people to understand what the truth is, before then entering the truth. The purpose of this is to allow people to understand the essence of the truth, which is to genuinely come before God. No matter how reasonable your notions are or how much of a basis they have, they are still notions; they are not the truth, and neither can they replace the truth. If you regard notions as the truth, then the truth will have nothing to do with you, you’ll have nothing to do with belief in God, and your faith will be worthless. No matter how much you work or run about for God, or how great a price you pay for God, what will the final result be if you do all this based on your notions and imaginings? Nothing you do will have anything to do with the truth or with God; God will condemn it and not commend it—these are the beneficial and harmful outcomes. You should now understand just how important resolving one’s notions and imaginings is.
What is the first step in resolving your notions? It is to discern and recognize what a notion is. When God’s house first began to shoot movies, something repugnant happened in the Film Production Team, which is related to people’s notions. I take this matter to dissect it now not to condemn anyone, but to allow you to grow in discernment, so that you remember this matter, and so that you deepen your understanding of notions through this matter and know just how harmful notions are to people. If I don’t talk about this matter then you may think it’s not a big deal. However, after I’ve dissected it, you’ll surely be nodding your heads and agreeing that this is a big deal. When it comes to making movies, there is the question of what color and style of clothing to choose. Some people were particularly conservative, specifically using dull gray and khaki. I was puzzled by this and wondered what it was all about. Why were they choosing these colors of clothing? The all dull gray and khaki colors made the entire scene particularly dark, and when I saw it I felt very uncomfortable. Why didn’t they choose something more colorful? I’d already said that the clothing could be colorful and that the style had to be appropriate and elegant. So why were people placing God’s words and the requirements of God’s house to the backs of their minds and not paying any attention to them, instead choosing dull gray and khaki fabrics to make the clothes? Why were they behaving in this way? Isn’t this worth reflecting on? What was the root cause of this? People didn’t understand the truth, they weren’t listening to what was said, and they weren’t being obedient—the root cause was that people have a nature within them that betrays God. What is this nature? What is this disposition? Most crucially, people don’t love the truth and can refuse to accept the truth, and their hearts are hardened. People say they’re willing to submit to God’s arrangements and willing to seek the truth, but when they do things, they just do them depending on their own preferences to attain their own aims. If it were a matter of your own personal life, then doing everything as you wish wouldn’t be a big deal, as that relates only to your own life entry. However, you’re now performing your duty in the church, and the consequences of acting in that way concern God’s work and the glory of God, and it concerns the reputation of the church; if people act recklessly according to their own will, they will be liable to dishonor God. God’s house doesn’t interfere with how individuals dress—the principle is to look decent and proper, so that others are edified when they see you. However, is it appropriate for someone to propose wearing all dull gray and khaki when shooting a movie? What was the essence of this problem? This was people doing things in reliance on their notions and regarding dull gray and khaki as a sign and a symbol of someone who believes in and follows God. It may be said that they defined these colors as colors that accorded with the truth, with God’s will, and with God’s requirements. This was a mistake. There’s nothing wrong with these colors in themselves, but if people do things based on their notions and make these colors into a kind of symbol, then that’s a problem. This consequence was brought about by people’s notions, and these ideas and practices came about because these notions were in people’s hearts. People treat these notions and imaginings like they were the truth, regarding dull gray and khaki as a symbol for wearing clothes for believers in God, while putting the truth, God’s words, and God’s requirements to one side and excluding them, replacing them with people’s notions and standards—this was the root cause of the problem. Actually, choosing colors and styles of clothing are external things which have nothing to do with the truth, but these absurd things happened because of people’s notions, and they created a certain negative impact, and so the truth was needed to resolve the matter.
In people’s belief in God, no matter what issue they encounter or what problem they come across, their notions constantly arise and they continue to use them. They always live among their notions and are constrained, dominated, and controlled by their notions. This causes people’s thoughts, behavior, ways of living, principles of conduct, life direction and goals, as well as how they treat God’s words and work to all be colored by their notions, and they are not freed and liberated with the truth at all. By believing in God in this way and always clinging to notions, after 10 years or 20 years, all the way up to today, the notions people had in the beginning remain untouched. No one has dissected them, people themselves have never examined them, much less have they ever accepted being pruned and dealt with. People have never handled them in earnest, and so regardless of how long they have believed in God, do they reap results or not? They definitely reap no results. The relationship between man and God is gradually improved through the process of constantly dissecting and understanding notions, and then resolving them—isn’t there a practical side to this? (Yes.) However, if your notions remain constantly at the stage they were when you first started believing in God, then your relationship with God can be said to not have improved at all. When it comes to believing in God, what other notions you rely on to live have you not resolved? Which notions do you always believe to be right, to be things which accord with the truth, and which you believe are not a problem? Which notions can affect your behavior, your pursuit, and your views on belief in God, causing your relationship with God to always be lukewarm and neither close nor distant? You mistakenly believe that you love God very much, that your faith in and loyalty to God have grown, that your determination to suffer has grown, when in fact, to God, you haven’t the slightest truth reality at all. You should all dissect this matter, and each of you will certainly have many notions which you rely on to live that are still present and which you haven’t resolved. This is a very serious problem.
I’ve given three examples of the notions people have concerning belief in God, so are you now more aware of which notions you have concerning belief in God? (Yes.) So then tell Me, what other notions and imaginings can obstruct people from practicing the truth and influence the performance of their duty and their normal relationship with God, that is, notions that can obstruct people from coming before God and that have a direct impact on them knowing God? (Quite a strong notion I have is that I believe if I can perform my duty normally every day, then by believing in God in this way, I can attain salvation.) Believing that you can attain salvation by performing your duty is a notion and an imagining. So, is it important to perform your duty up to standard? Can people who don’t perform their duty up to standard attain salvation? If someone performs their duty recklessly, then this pertains to disrupting and disturbing God’s work. Not only can someone who does this not attain salvation, but they will also be punished. You aren’t able to think of these things, you don’t understand them, and you can’t see them clearly, and yet you still say such things as “As long as I perform my duty, then I can attain salvation and enter the kingdom of heaven.” Is this in line with God’s words? This idea is just wishful thinking; how could you achieve that so easily? Can not accepting the truth be considered as having faith in God? Can someone attain salvation without casting off their corrupt disposition? You have so many things pertaining to notions and imaginings inside you. All manner of imaginings, understandings, and definitions that don’t accord with the truth all pertain to notions. What other notions do you have? (I think the more important the duty I perform and the more achievements which bear witness to God I make, then the more merit I will earn, the more God will commend me, and the greater my blessings will be in the future.) This is also a notion. In short, notions are all imagined and inferred by people out of thin air. Even though they may have some basis, they are not derived from any basis in God’s words or the truth, but rather are ideas based on people’s wishful thinking and produced by the desire to be blessed. When people do things dominated by such a thought, they do all kinds of things, and they pay a great price before finally discovering that they’ve made a mistake and gone against the principles, that things aren’t as they imagined they were, and so they become negative. One day, when they look back and realize that they’ve been following a path relying on their notions and imaginings, so much time has already been wasted, and they want to go back but it’s not possible. What other notions do you have that you haven’t resolved yet? (I think that, since I believe in God and expend myself for God, then God should bless me and give me advantages. When I have an issue and I call on God, I feel like God should open a way for me, and because I believe in God, everything should be smooth sailing. That’s why when I’m performing my duty and I encounter a difficult situation, I misunderstand and resent God, and feel like God shouldn’t let those things happen to me.) Most people have this notion; it is a kind of understanding people have concerning belief in God. People think that one believes in God to gain advantages, and if they don’t gain advantages then this path must be wrong. So, has this notion now been resolved? Have you started to rectify it? When this notion controls your behavior or affects your forward direction, have you sought the truth to resolve it? People often delimit belief in God in their hearts, believing that since they believe in God then everything should be peaceful, or else they think, “I expend myself and perform my duty for God, so God should bless my family, bless my whole family with peace, make it so that I don’t get sick, and so that all my family may be happy. And although I perform my duty, this is God’s work, so God should shoulder all the responsibility for it and arrange everything well and make it so that I don’t encounter any difficulty, danger, or temptation when I’m performing my duty. If anything like this happens, then it’s perhaps not God’s doing.” These are all people’s notions; people are liable to have such notions when they don’t understand God’s work. Do these notions often appear while you’re performing your duty? (Yes.) If you always believe that your notions and imaginings are simply normal and reasonable and that this is how things should be, and you don’t seek the truth to resolve them, then you won’t be able to gain the truth and will have no life entry. To you, the truth will have no value or meaning, and your faith in God will also be meaningless. In their belief in God, if people often eat and drink God’s words, attend gatherings, listen to sermons, and live an especially normal spiritual life, yet they act, conduct themselves, and perform their duties in reliance on their notions, basing everything on their notions, and using their notions to measure the right or wrong of all manner of things, then aren’t people like this living within their notions? No matter how many sermons they listen to or how much they eat and drink God’s words, can people who live within their notions ever change at all? Can their relationship with God ever improve? (No.) So, does God commend this kind of faith? (No.) He certainly doesn’t. That’s why it’s so important to dissect the notions within people.
Most people have no notions when they’ve eaten and drank their fill and everything is well, or when observing traditional religious ceremonies, but when God performs His work and expresses the truth, any number of notions arise. People have no notions when they have yet to perform their duty and only normally attend gatherings, but when God requires them to perform their duty or they encounter difficulties in their duty, then many notions arise. People have no notions when they’re physically comfortable and enjoying life, but when they get sick or encounter adversity, notions naturally arise. For example, before they believe in God, someone’s work and family life are all going smoothly, but after they start believing in God some things happen which they don’t like. Sometimes they’re judged, discriminated against, bullied, and even arrested, tortured, and left with lasting ailments, which makes them feel uneasy and they think, “Why haven’t things gone well during my years of believing in God? I believe in the true God, so why doesn’t God protect me? How can God see me getting beaten by wicked people and trampled upon by devils and not care?” Don’t people form these notions? What’s the reason behind them forming these notions? People believe, “Since I now believe in God, then I belong to Him, and God should take care of me, take care of my food and accommodation, take care of my future and my fate, as well as my personal safety, including my family’s safety, and guarantee that everything will go well for me, that everything will go peacefully and without incident.” And if the facts aren’t as people require and imagine, they think, “Believing in God isn’t as good or as easy as I imagined it was going to be. Turns out that I still have to suffer all this persecution and tribulation and go through many trials in my belief in God—why doesn’t God protect me?” Is this thinking right or wrong? Does it accord with the truth? (No.) So then, doesn’t this thinking show that they’re making unreasonable demands of God? Why don’t people who have such thinking pray to God or seek the truth? God’s good will is naturally behind Him causing people to encounter such things; why don’t people understand God’s will? Why can’t they cooperate with God’s work? God intentionally causes people to encounter such things so that they may seek the truth and gain the truth, and so that they will live in reliance on the truth. However, people don’t seek the truth, instead always taking God’s measure using their own notions and imaginings—this is their problem. This is how you must understand these unpleasant things: No one goes their whole life without suffering. For some people, it has to do with family, for some, with work, for some, with marriage, and for some, with physical illness. Everyone must suffer. Some say, “Why must people suffer? How great it would be to live our whole lives peacefully and happily. Can’t we not suffer?” No—everyone must suffer. Suffering causes every person to experience the myriad sensations of physical life, whether these sensations be positive, negative, active or passive; suffering gives you different feelings and appreciations, which, for you, are all your experiences in life. That is one aspect, and it is in order to make people more experienced. If you can seek the truth and understand God’s will from this, then you will draw ever closer to the standard God requires of you. Another aspect is that it is the responsibility that God gives to man. What responsibility? This is the suffering you should undergo. If you can take on this suffering and bear it, then this is testimony, and not something shameful. When they get sick, some people are afraid that other people will come to know about it; they think that getting sick is something shameful, when in fact it is nothing to be ashamed about. As a normal person, if, amid illness, you are able to submit to God’s arrangements, endure all kinds of suffering, and are still able to perform your duty normally, are able to complete the commissions that God gives you, then is this a good thing or a bad thing? This is a good thing, this is testimony to your obedience to God, this is testimony to you faithfully performing your duty, and it is testimony which shames and triumphs over Satan. And so, any suffering should be accepted and submitted to by every created being and every one of God’s chosen people. This is how you must understand it, and you must learn this lesson and achieve true obedience to God. This is in line with the will of God, and it is God’s intention. This is what God arranges for every created being. God’s putting you in these situations and conditions is equivalent to giving you a responsibility, obligation, and commission, and so you should accept them. Is this not the truth? (It is.) As long as it comes from God, as long as God makes such a demand of you and has this intention for you, then it is the truth. Why is it said to be the truth? This is because if you accept these words as the truth, then you’ll be able to solve your corrupt disposition, your notions and your rebelliousness, so that when you encounter difficulties again you will not go against the will of God or rebel against God, that is, you will be able to practice the truth and submit to God. In this way, you’ll be able to bear testimony which brings shame upon Satan, and you’ll be able to gain the truth and attain salvation. If you go by your own notions and ideas, thinking, “I now believe in God so God should bless me. I should be someone who is blessed,” then how is it that you understand this blessing? The blessing you understand is a lifetime of splendor and prosperity, to have everything you want to eat and drink, to have no illnesses, to be born with everything, to have everything ready for the taking, and to enjoy a rich material life without having to work for it. Moreover, it is to live a peaceful life where everything goes smoothly, living in exceptional comfort without any pain—this is what you think blessing is. But, looking at it now, is that a blessing? That’s not a blessing, that’s a calamity. Walking the path of coveting fleshly comforts will cause you to drift further and further away from God, as well as causing you to sink deeper and deeper into this wicked world, unable to pull yourself free. When the Creator calls upon you, there are many things you’re not willing to give up, and you can’t let go of these fleshly comforts. Even if God gives you a commission and asks you to perform a duty, you treat yourself too preciously: Today you don’t feel well, tomorrow you’re not in a good mood, you miss your parents, you miss your partner, thinking only of fleshly things every day, not performing any duty well but wanting to have more enjoyment than others. You live like a parasite—can you put the truth into practice? Can you bear testimony? No, you can’t. People have so many imaginings concerning belief in God. They imagine that after they come to believe in God, they’ll have wealth and peace all their lives, that their relatives will all benefit along with them, eyes all shining with envy, that they will never be poor, and that they’ll never get sick or encounter any kind of disaster. Such imaginings cause people to have many unreasonable requirements of God. When you come to have unreasonable requirements of God, is your relationship with God normal or abnormal? It’s certainly abnormal. So, do these notions and imaginings cause you to stand on the side of God or in opposition to God? They can only cause you to stand in opposition to God, to contest with and resist God, and even betray and abandon God, and these behaviors become increasingly serious. That is to say, once people have these notions, they are no longer able to maintain a normal relationship with God. When people come to have notions about God, their hearts then produce feelings of rebelliousness and negativity. At times like these, they should seek the truth to resolve these notions. When they understand the truth, when they understand the commission God gives them and the many requirements God has for their belief in Him, once they have understood these things, and can behave and act in accordance with God’s requirements, then in this way, their notions and imaginings will be resolved. Once they come to understand the truth, they will naturally give up their notions, and at that point their relationship with God will become more normal. Resolving notions is equivalent to resolving misunderstandings about God. To say it another way, only when they let go of and resolve their notions will they understand what the truth is and what God’s requirements are.
What other notions are there within your hearts that can influence the performance of your duties? What notions often influence and govern you in your lives? When certain things happen to you that are not to your liking, your notions naturally appear, and then you complain to God, argue and compete with God, and they bring about a rapid transformation in your relationship with God: You go from how you were at the beginning, feeling that you love God so much and that you are very faithful to Him, and wanting to devote your whole life to Him, to suddenly having a change of heart, to not wanting to perform your duty or be faithful to God anymore, and you regret your belief in God, you regret having chosen this path, and even complain about being chosen by God. What other notions are able to suddenly cause a change in your relationship with God? (When God arranges a situation to test me and exposes me, and I feel that I won’t have a good outcome, I form notions about God. I feel that I believe in God and follow God, and that I’ve always done my duty, so as long as I do not forsake God, then He shouldn’t abandon me.) That is one kind of notion. Do you often have such notions? What is your understanding of being abandoned by God? Do you think that if God leaves you, then that means God does not want you and will not save you? This is another kind of notion. So how does such a notion come about? Does it come from your imagination, or does it have a basis? How do you know that God won’t give you a good outcome? Did God tell you personally? Such thoughts are entirely delineated by you. Now you know that this is a notion; the key question is how to solve it. People actually have many notions about faith in God. If you can realize that you have a notion, then you should know that it’s wrong. So, how should these notions be resolved? First, you need to see clearly whether these notions come from knowledge or satanic philosophies, where the fault lies, where the harm lies and, once you’ve seen this clearly, you’ll naturally be able to let the notion go. However, this is not the same as you thoroughly resolving it; you must still seek the truth, see what God’s requirements are and then dissect the notion according to God’s words. When you can clearly discern that the notion is wrong, that it is something absurd, and that it is totally out of line with the truth, that means that you have basically resolved the notion. If you don’t seek the truth, if you don’t compare the notion with God’s words, you won’t be able to clearly discern how the notion is wrong, and so you won’t be able to thoroughly give the notion up; even if you know it is a notion, you still won’t necessarily be able to let it go completely. In such circumstances, when your notions conflict with God’s requirements, and even though you may realize that your notions are wrong, yet your heart still clings to your notions, and you know for sure that your notions are at odds with the truth, yet in your heart you still believe that your notions are tenable, you will then not be someone who understands the truth, and people like you have no life entry and are too lacking in stature. For instance, people are especially sensitive toward their own end and destination, and toward adjustments of their duty and being replaced in their duty. Some people frequently jump to an erroneous conclusion about such things, thinking that as soon as they are replaced in their duty and they have no status anymore, or God says He does not like or want them anymore, then it is over for them. This is the conclusion they come to. They believe, “There’s no point in believing in God, God doesn’t want me, and my outcome is already set, so what’s the point in living anymore?” Others, hearing such thoughts, think them reasonable and dignified—but what kind of thinking is this, actually? It is rebelliousness against God, it is abandoning themselves to despair. Why do they abandon themselves to despair? It is because they don’t understand God’s will, they can’t clearly see how God saves people, and they don’t have true faith in God. Does God know when people abandon themselves to despair? (Yes.) God knows, and so how does He treat such people? People form a kind of notion and say, “God has paid such a painstaking price for man, He has done much work in every person, and exerted much effort; it is not easy for God to choose and save a person. God will be so hurt if a person abandons themselves to despair, and will hope each day that they can pick themselves up.” This is the meaning on a superficial level, but in fact, it is also a notion of man. God takes a certain attitude toward such people: If you abandon yourself to despair and do not try to move forward, He will allow you to choose for yourself; He will not force you to do anything against your will. If you say, “I still wish to perform the duty of a created being, to do all I can to practice as God asks, and to satisfy the will of God. I will use all my gifts and talents, and if I’m not capable of anything, then I’ll learn to submit and be obedient; I will not abandon my duty,” God says, “If you are willing to live in this way, then continue following, but you must do as God asks; the standards required by God and His principles do not change.” What do these words mean? They mean that only people can abandon themselves; God would never abandon someone. For anyone who is able to ultimately attain salvation and behold God, who establishes a normal relationship with God, and who can come before God, this is not something that can be achieved after failing or being pruned and dealt with a single time, or after being judged and chastised a single time. Before Peter was made perfect, he was refined hundreds of times. Of those who remain after rendering service to the very end, there will not be one who has only experienced trials and refinement eight or ten times before making it to the end. Regardless of how many times someone is tested and refined, is this not the love of God? (Yes, it is.) When you can behold the love of God, you can then understand God’s attitude toward man.
When some people read God’s words and see God condemning people in His words, they form notions and feel conflicted. For example, God’s words say that you don’t accept the truth, so God doesn’t like you or accept you, that you are an evildoer, an antichrist, that He gets upset just looking at you and that He doesn’t want you. People read these words and think, “These words are aimed at me. God has determined that He doesn’t want me, and since God has abandoned me, I won’t believe in God anymore either.” There are those who, when reading God’s words, often develop notions and misunderstandings because God reveals people’s corrupt states and says some things condemning people. They become negative and weak, thinking that God’s words were directed at them, that God is giving up on them and won’t save them. They become negative to the point of tears and don’t want to follow God anymore. This is actually a misunderstanding of God. When you do not understand the meaning of God’s words, you should not try to delineate God. You don’t know what kind of person God abandons, or under what circumstances He gives up on people, or under what circumstances He puts people aside; there are principles and contexts to all of this. If you don’t have full insight into these detailed matters, you’ll be very prone to hypersensitivity and you’ll delimit yourself based on one word from God. Isn’t that problematic? When God judges people, what is the chief aspect of them that He condemns? What God judges and reveals are people’s corrupt dispositions and corrupt essences, He condemns their satanic dispositions and satanic natures, He condemns the various manifestations and behaviors of their rebellion and opposition to God, He condemns them for being unable to obey God, for always opposing God, and for always having their own motivations and aims—but such condemnation does not mean that God has abandoned people with satanic dispositions. If this is not clear to you, then you lack comprehension ability, which makes you a bit like people who are mentally ill, always suspicious of everything and misinterpreting God. Such people are devoid of true faith, so how could they follow God to the very end? Hearing a single statement of condemnation from God, you think that, having been condemned by God, people have been abandoned by God, and will no longer be saved, and because of this you become negative, and abandon yourself to despair. This is misinterpreting God. In fact, God has not abandoned people. They have misinterpreted God and abandoned themselves. Nothing is more critical than when people abandon themselves, as fulfilled in the words of the Old Testament: “Fools die for want of wisdom” (Proverbs 10:21). No behavior is more stupid than when people abandon themselves to despair. Sometimes you read God’s words that seem to delineate people; in fact, they are not delineating anyone, but are the expression of God’s will and opinion. These are words of truth and principle, they are not delineating anyone. The words uttered by God during times of anger or rage also represent God’s disposition, these words are the truth, and, moreover, belong to principle. People must understand this. God’s purpose in saying this is to allow people to understand the truth, and to understand the principles; it is absolutely not to delimit anyone. This has nothing to do with people’s ultimate destination and reward, much less are they people’s ultimate punishment. These are merely words spoken to judge and deal with people, they are the result of anger at people not living up to His expectations, and they are spoken in order to wake people up, to prompt them, and they are words from God’s heart. And yet, some people fall down and forsake God because of a single statement of judgment from God. People like this don’t know what’s good for them, they are impervious to reason, they do not accept the truth at all. Some people feel weak for a time and then come before God again, thinking, “This isn’t right, I must continue to follow God and do as God requires. If I don’t follow God or perform my duty well, then my life will be worthless. For the sake of living out a meaningful life, I must follow God.” So, how do they follow God? They must experience God’s work. Only saying one believes in God and not experiencing God’s work is not following God. Previously not faithfully performing one’s duty and being unwilling to accept a little pruning and being dealt with—is this the attitude one should have when accepting God’s work? Not accepting being pruned and dealt with and constantly complaining when one suffers a little—what kind of disposition is this? One should reflect on oneself and see what God requires, and one must do as God requires. If God says you’re not good enough, then you’re not good enough, and you shouldn’t use your notions and imaginings to delimit things or oppose God; you should submit and acknowledge that you are not good enough. Don’t you then have a path of practice? Can someone still leave God when they’re able to practice the truth and obey God? No, they can’t. There are times when you believe God has given up on you—but in fact, God has not given up on you, He just puts you to one side so that you can reflect on yourself. God may find you detestable, and does not wish to heed you, but He has not truly forsaken you. There are those who make an effort to perform their duty in the house of God, but because of their essence and the various things that are manifested in them, God sees that they do not love the truth and do not accept the truth at all, and so God actually forsakes them; they were not truly chosen, but merely gave service for a time. There are some, meanwhile, whom God does His utmost to discipline, chasten, and judge, and even condemn and curse, employing various ways of treating them that are at odds with the notions of man. Some people do not understand God’s will, and think that God is picking on them and being hurtful. They think that there is no dignity to living before God, they do not wish to hurt God any longer and leave the church. They even think there is sense to doing this, and in this way they turn their backs on God—but in fact, God had not forsaken them. Such people have no inkling of the will of God. They are somewhat oversensitive, going so far as to give up on God’s salvation. Do they really have conscience? There are times when God shuns people, and times when He places them to one side for a time so that they may reflect upon themselves, but God has not forsaken them; He is giving them the opportunity to repent. God only truly forsakes the wicked who commit many evil acts, nonbelievers, and antichrists. Some people say, “I feel devoid of the work of the Holy Spirit and long have I been without the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. Has God forsaken me?” This is a misconception. There is also a problem of disposition here: People are overemotional, they always follow their own reasoning, are always willful, and are devoid of rationality—isn’t this a problem of disposition? You say that God has forsaken you, that He will not save you, so has He set your end? God has merely said a few angry words to you. How could you say that He’s given up on you, that He doesn’t want you anymore? There are occasions when you cannot feel the work of the Holy Spirit, but God has not deprived you of the right to read His words, nor has He determined your end, or cut off your path to salvation—so what are you so upset about? You are in a bad state, there is a problem with your motives, there are issues with your thought and viewpoint, your state of mind is twisted—and yet you do not try to fix these things by seeking the truth, instead constantly misinterpreting and blaming God, and pushing the responsibility onto God, and even saying, “God doesn’t want me, so I don’t believe in Him anymore.” Are you not being irrational? Are you not being unreasonable? This kind of person is too overemotional, without any sense at all, impervious to all reason. They are the least likely to accept the truth and will find it very difficult to attain salvation.
Remember these words: Peter was made perfect by being refined hundreds of times. In your notions and imaginings, being refined hundreds of times is to live a spectacular life of untold hardships to follow God, and in the end to be crucified upside down. This isn’t the case; this is just man’s notion. Why do I say this is man’s notion? It’s because people don’t understand what God’s trials are and that every trial is arranged and done by the hand of God; people don’t understand this “hundreds of times,” or why God refined Peter hundreds of times, or how this “hundreds of times” was reached, or what the root cause was—people don’t know these things, instead always relying on their notions and imaginings to understand things, and as a result they misunderstand God. People are unable to understand certain words of God which they have not experienced. In real life, if what God does with every person is to bless them, guide them, and speak calmly to them, then trials would forever be just empty words for people, and nothing more than a word, a definition, a concept. However, God often performs this work on you: now causing you to become sick, now causing you to encounter something unpleasant and become discouraged and weak, now causing you to encounter a difficult situation that you find hard to cope with and you don’t know the right thing to do—what are these things to you? When it comes to all these unpleasant things, all these sicknesses or difficulties or hardships, and even the temptations of Satan, if you can always regard them as trials given to you by God, each one being one trial among hundreds, and you can accept them and seek the truth within them, then your state will undergo a transformation and your relationship with God will improve. However, if when you encounter trials you reject them, constantly try to hide from them, resist them, and oppose them, then this “hundreds of trials” will forever be just empty words to you which will never be fulfilled. For example, someone harbors a bad attitude toward you and, not knowing the reason for this, you feel unhappy. If you live within hotheadedness and within your flesh, then you have an excuse to be unpleasant to them as well—a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye. But if you live before God and you wish to accept being perfected and saved by God, then you should regard all this you encounter as a trial from God and accept it; in truth, this is one of the different ways in which God tests you. By fellowshiping in this way, do you now feel much more liberated and much more relieved in your hearts? If you can practice in accordance with these words, compare your behavior and views with these words, then this will assist you greatly when it comes to submitting to God’s orchestrations and arrangements in your daily lives.
What are the main aspects involved in today’s discussion of people’s notions concerning belief in God? One is the aspect of people’s external behavior, acting as falsely as the Pharisees, acting so refined and genteel; another aspect is that of food, clothing, housing, and travel; another is the aspect of people’s understanding of belief in God, thinking that by believing in God, they must be blessed and given advantages. What was Job’s experience of this aspect? When trials befell Job, he was able to ascertain that they came from God, that he hadn’t done anything wrong and that this was not a punishment from God, but rather this was God testing him and it was Satan tempting him—this was how he understood it. And how did Job’s friends understand it? They believed that this calamity must have befallen Job because he’d done something wrong and offended God. That they could think this way shows that they harbored notions about belief in God. Why was Job’s understanding different from the others? It was because Job had clearly seen what was happening, and so he harbored no notions about it. While God performed His work on Job, Job gained in experience and came to know God’s work, and these notions and ideas of man were no longer to be found in Job. And so, when the hand of God fell upon Job, did he misunderstand? (No.) He didn’t misunderstand and so he didn’t complain; he didn’t misunderstand and so he didn’t rebel; he didn’t misunderstand, and so he was able to truly submit. Isn’t that right? (Yes.) Why is it right? If people say “Amen” to God’s words in their hearts, take God’s words as the reality of positive things, as that which is right, as the standard, as the supreme, and as the principles they should put into practice, then they will submit and not misunderstand. There is always an expression when people form misunderstandings about the words God utters or the deeds God does—what expression is that? (They’re unwilling to accept them.) And what lies behind this unwillingness to accept God’s words and deeds? It is that they have their own ideas, and these ideas contradict and clash with God’s words, and then people form misunderstandings and notions about God, believing that the things God says aren’t necessarily correct. Sometimes, even if people appear to accept them, it’s still just a pretense and is not true acceptance. One must, by seeking the truth, think completely in accordance with God’s words and requirements, and agree with God’s words in one’s heart, and only then can one be compatible with God. If you don’t accept these things in your heart, and you misunderstand and even oppose and resist them, then this shows that there is something inside you. If you can dissect this thing inside you and seek the truth, then your notions can be resolved; if you have a deviant and absurd understanding, if you have no spiritual understanding, or you have no comprehension ability, you simply aren’t capable of comparing your notions to God’s words, are unable to know and dissect them, and you’re not aware when notions arise in you, then your notions will be unresolvable. Some people know perfectly well that they harbor notions about God in their hearts, yet they still say they have none, afraid that if they speak up then they’ll lose face and be looked down on. If someone asks them, “If you haven’t misunderstood God, how come you can’t obey Him?” then they reply, “I don’t know how to practice.” What kind of manifestation is this? If you have no understanding of spiritual matters, if you’re not capable of discernment, and don’t know how to reflect on yourself when you have a problem, then you won’t be able to resolve your notions or your misunderstandings about God. When things happen which aren’t related to your notions, you feel very calm, and it can’t be seen that you have any problem. The moment something happens that touches upon your notions, however, feelings of conflict to God arise in you. How is this conflict manifested? Sometimes you may feel resentful, and as time goes by and this feeling is not resolved, then your misunderstandings about God become even more entrenched and your corrupt disposition swells, and you will begin to vent your notions and judge God. The moment you judge God, then it is no longer a problem of thinking or behavior, but rather is an expression of a satanic disposition. If someone shows a little conflict or disobedience in their behavior out of sheer ignorance, then God does not condemn this; if someone directly conflicts with God from their disposition and conflicts with Him on purpose, then this will cause trouble for them, and they are defying God. When someone defies God on purpose, then this is an offense against God’s disposition. Therefore, when people have notions, they should resolve them; only when they’ve resolved their notions can they resolve the misunderstandings between themselves and God; and only when the misunderstandings between themselves and God are resolved can they truly obey God. Some people say, “I have no notions and the misunderstandings between myself and God have been resolved. I don’t think of anything anymore.” Is this enough? The purpose of resolving notions is not only to resolve notions, but rather it is to practice in accordance with God’s requirements and the truth, to achieve obedience to God and satisfy God. Some people say, “So long as I have no misunderstandings about God, then that’s enough, everything will be fine, and I’ll be safe.” This is not truly putting the truth into practice, nor is it true obedience—the problem has still not been resolved. If the problem really was resolved, then not only would people have no misunderstandings about God, but they would also know what God requires and what His will is in the things that happen to them. They would not only be able to dissect their own notions but would also be able to help those with notions to learn how to seek the truth, to be able to practice the truth and to meet God’s requirements. Wouldn’t they then be in accord with God’s will? The ultimate goal in resolving notions is to understand God’s will and to enter the truth reality—this is key. You say you have not formed any misunderstandings about God, so do you understand the truth? If you do not understand the truth, then even if you have no notions or misunderstandings about God, you’re still not someone who submits to God. Having no misunderstandings does not mean that you understand God, much less does it mean that you are capable of submitting to Him. People have no notions or misunderstandings about God when all is well, but this doesn’t mean that they have no notions or misunderstandings about God at all. When something happens to them which touches upon their personal interests, their notions then naturally arise and they will form misunderstandings about God and even voice complaints. Can people submit to God when they regard their personal interests as so very important? Why is it that when something happens that affects someone’s personal interests, their notions and misunderstandings arise in its wake and they rebel against and defy God? This is how it is with people who have a satanic nature and satanic disposition. When something happens that affects their personal interests, they aren’t able to submit to God anymore, and neither can they submit to God when something happens that is at odds with their own notions and imaginings. People’s notions and misunderstandings about God arise with their situation. If they’re not able to seek and accept the truth, then their notions will never be resolved and their relationship with God will never return to normal. Those who harbor notions but do not seek the truth to resolve them will not be saved by God no matter how many years they have believed in Him.
God’s salvation of man is not just empty words. He expresses all these truths in order to address the various things of corrupt mankind that are at odds with the truth—their notions, imaginings, knowledge, philosophies, traditional culture, etc. By dissecting these things, He allows man to 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 are able to 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, “God dissects man’s notions, but I have no notions. People who have notions are usually wily old foxes, or else theologians and Pharisees. I’m not like that.” What is the problem in being able to say such a thing? They do not know themselves. No matter how the truth is fellowshiped, they don’t apply it to themselves, thinking that they are not like that. This is ignorance, and they have no understanding of spiritual matters. Could you think in this way? Today, most people do not think like that. When one has eaten and drunk many of God’s words and can understand some truths, one is then able to see clearly that everyone possesses the things of notions and imaginings and that everyone possesses corrupt dispositions. There is nothing shameful in dissecting these things; 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. 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. By often practicing in this way, the intended effect is achieved in the end: One aspect is that people will come to understand the will of God and become able to submit to God, while another aspect is that they will have the immunity to reject and resist many negative things, such as wicked notions and imaginings, and things that arise from knowledge. When faced with a religious intellectual, a theologian, or a religious pastor or elder, you can see through them by talking with them, and are able to use the truth to refute their myriad notions, imaginings, heresies, and fallacies. 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 when faced with 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 words and doctrines, the notions and imaginings, of religion, and those things 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? (It does.) So, you must equip yourselves with the truth and, once you have understood the truth, you can then dissect yourselves and you will know how to have discernment of people. When you have understood the truth, you will be able to see other people clearly, but if you do not understand the truth, you will never be able to see them clearly. 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 essence, 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 the imaginings of man, when they put aside the various ideas and perspectives that come from knowledge, philosophy, traditional culture or the world, and instead accept the various points of view that come from God and that are connected to the truth. 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. Once people have resolved their various notions and misunderstandings about God, they can then immediately improve their relationship with God while at the same time pave their road toward life entry. When people achieve such changes, what becomes of their relationship with God? It 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. This is the change brought to people’s lives when they have resolved their notions. If you are able to achieve this kind of change, are you then willing to resolve your notions? (Yes.) 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 persistently seek, 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 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 knowledge and view of the world, human life, mankind, and even God.
We just now fellowshiped on people’s notions concerning belief in God and gave several examples so that you could have a basic concept of this aspect of the truth. Afterward, you may contemplate it again and fellowship on it together, draw inferences, and gradually reflect, understand, and dissect the various notions concerning belief in God, before then resolving them step by step. In short, people have many imaginings and notions about belief in God. For example, whether in terms of people’s lives, marriage, family, or work, the moment some difficulty arises, people form notions about God and then they blame and judge Him, always thinking in their hearts, “Why doesn’t God protect me or bless me?” It’s just like what the unbelievers always say: “Heaven is unfair,” and “Heaven is blind”; but these things do not happen by accident. When life is comfortable and happy, people never say one word of thanks to God and can even deny God and doubt His existence. When disaster comes calling, however, they make God responsible for it, and they begin to judge and blaspheme against God. Some people even think that they no longer need to learn anything or work once they believe in God, that God will prepare everything for them when the time comes, and that if they have any difficulty they can pray to God and entrust the matter to Him and He’ll solve it for them. They believe that if they get sick, God will heal them, that if disaster befalls, God will protect them, that when the day of God arrives, they’ll all change form, and that if God performs signs and wonders, everything will be alright—these are imaginings and notions people have. As for the professional knowledge related to duties people should learn, people should learn it in accordance with what is needed for their duty; this is called pragmatism and dedication to one’s proper task, and one should not just dream and rely on one’s imagination. What God requires people to do is that which people must do, that is the duties people should perform. This absolutely cannot be changed and must be approached conscientiously—this is in accord with the truth and it is the perspective people should have toward their duty. This is not a notion, it is the truth and it is what God requires. There are many times when the things God does are at odds with people’s imaginings. If people can set aside their notions, seek God’s will and seek the truth principles, then they will be able to pass through these things. If you are stubborn and you cling obstinately to your notions, then that is tantamount to you not accepting the truth, not accepting things that are right, and not accepting God’s requirements. If you don’t accept the truth or the things that are right, could you not then be said to be in opposition to God? The truth and positive things come from God. If you don’t accept them and instead cling to your notions, then clearly you are opposed to the truth. We’ll end our fellowship on people’s notions concerning belief in God here. What is left is for you to apply it to yourselves on the basis of these principles and the words we’ve fellowshiped here today. Notions concerning people’s belief in God are the most common and most basic of the three types of notions. The truths related to these notions are not really that profound, and so these notions should be easy to resolve.
Now we’ll fellowship on people’s notions about the incarnation; people have many notions about the incarnation, too. People have lots of imaginings, don’t they, when they haven’t seen God incarnate? For example, they believe the incarnation should understand everything and see everything clearly. In short, they think that God’s incarnate flesh should be exceptionally perfect, that He is too good for the likes of them and unapproachable. When people haven’t met God, these imaginings people have are notions, and they arise according to certain judgments, or the knowledge, religious beliefs, and traditional cultural education people have. Once they have met God, people then form new notions: “So, this is what Christ looks like. This is how He speaks and this is what His personality is like. How can He be different from what I thought? My God isn’t supposed to be like this.” In fact, people have no idea and cannot explain what God is supposed to be like. While people are constantly forming these notions, they are also constantly denying and dealing with themselves, believing that it’s wrong to harbor notions and imaginings, that the things God does are right, but they still can’t understand them. Their notions continually pour out and a battle is waged in their hearts, as they think, “What God does is right; I shouldn’t harbor any notions.” But they’re not able to entirely put aside their notions and they’re still not convinced, and so there is no peace in their hearts. They think, “Is He a human being or God? If He’s God, then He doesn’t look like it, and if He’s a human being, then it wouldn’t be possible for Him to express so many truths.” They get stuck here. They want to find someone else to fellowship with but find it hard to talk about, afraid of being laughed at or that others will say they’re so foolish, devoid of faith, or that their understanding is deviant and absurd, and so all they can do is suppress how they feel. In any case, whether someone has seen God or not, as long as notions and misunderstandings about God form in their hearts, then there is a problem with their understanding. God expresses so many truths and fellowships on these issues very clearly and lucidly so that people can be convinced in heart and by word. When people are still capable of forming notions and misunderstandings in such a situation, then this is not such a simple problem anymore. Some people have notions because they don’t understand spiritual matters; some people have notions because of their deviant and absurd understanding; and some people form notions because they don’t love the truth and don’t understand the truth at all. Whatever the case, as long as people’s beliefs and ideas do not conform with God’s words, God’s work, and God’s essence, and they obstruct people from believing in God, knowing God and submitting to God’s work, or else they cause people to have ideas and perspectives which question, misunderstand, deny, and resist God, then these are all notions, and they all go against the truth.
Next, I’ll use some concrete examples to fellowship to you. There may be many of you who have heard stories about Me. When you first started to believe in God or you found yourself in a certain situation, someone might have told you some tales that made your heart fill with emotion or moved you to tears. For example, someone said that, at New Year one year, everyone else went home to spend New Year there while Christ was walking the streets alone, facing the wind and snow, with no home to go to. After hearing this story, some people became extremely moved and said, “It’s really difficult for God to come and live in the world! Mankind is so corrupt and they all reject God, and that’s why God suffers like this. It seems that what God said is true, that ‘The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head.’ These words have come true. God is so great!” They believe that the greatness of God has arisen from this story, and this is the conclusion they come up with from this story. While you’re being moved to tears after listening to this story, have you ever wondered why people want to listen to stories like this? Why are they moved by such stories? People have a kind of notion about God’s flesh, they have a kind of requirement of His flesh, and they have a kind of standard for measuring His flesh. What is this notion? It’s that if God comes in incarnate flesh, then He should suffer. God said, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head.” If these words had not come true, if the Son of man’s life conditions were not like this, and He’d not suffered in this way, but instead enjoyed happiness, then people wouldn’t admire Him and wouldn’t feel motivated, and then they wouldn’t want to perform their duty and they’d be unwilling to suffer even a little. People believe that God should suffer, and only by suffering can He serve as an example and a model for mankind. They believe that, when God comes into the world, He cannot enjoy great wealth and rank—those things belong to the world. God came into the world specifically to suffer, and only after He’s suffered can He cause mankind to become speechless, and to feel moved by His suffering and admire Him, before then following Him. People harbor this kind of notion about God, which is why they identify with stories like this and find them easy to accept. So, would you like to know whether this story is true? Do you hope that it is true or that it isn’t? Do you find this difficult to answer? If it were true, then people would find it very much in line with their own notions; if it were not true, would that destroy the heroic example in your innermost hearts? Would this have an impact on you? Would it be a blow to you? Actually, it’s not important whether this is true or not. What is important? Dissecting people’s notions. Everyone has a notion and a standard by which to measure God incarnate, His life, His living environment, His quality of life, and His food, clothing, housing, and transportation, and this notion they have is that, now that God has come, He must suffer. In people’s hearts, moreover, Christ must certainly be influential and worthy of worship, admiration, and adoration: He must be able to read extremely fast and never forget anything He’s ever laid eyes on, He must have some exceptional abilities that are beyond the reach of normal people, and He must even be able to perform signs and wonders, which then makes Him worthy of being followed and worthy of the title of “the mighty God.” If people’s notions and imaginings were fulfilled in real life, they would be so energetic and confident in their faith. If the things that really happen are at odds with their notions and imaginings, such as seeing Christ still being pursued by the ruling authorities, people then think, “God still suffers the pain of being pursued—this isn’t the hero and the Savior I imagined!” And they then think that God is not worth believing in. Isn’t this caused by their notions? How do these notions come about? One aspect is that they arise from people’s imaginations, while another aspect is that people are influenced by the images of famous and great people, which causes them to form incorrect definitions of God. People believe that the lives of famous and great people are simple, that for them a toothbrush can last for 20 to 30 years, and a single piece of clothing can be repaired and even worn for a lifetime. Some famous and great people eat without wasting anything, even licking their bowl clean after finishing their meal, and picking up and eating any bits of fallen food, and so people form an extraordinary impression of these great people in their hearts, and they use such impressions to measure God incarnate. If God incarnate does not match their impressions, then they form notions, but if God incarnate exactly matches their impressions, then they don’t form notions. Does it accord with the truth for people to compare Christ to these things? Do the things that famous and great people do accord with the truth? Are their nature essences those of the saints? In fact, these famous and great people are all demons and devil kings, and not one of them has the essence of normal humanity. Even though they may seem to have some merits when using human notions to measure them, in terms of their nature essences and actions, they are all devils and Satan in essence. By taking the image of devils and of Satan to compare with God incarnate, is this not blasphemy against God? Satan and devils are always the best at disguising themselves. Everything they say and do on the outside accords with people’s notions and imaginings, and they only ever say pleasant-sounding things. However, what they plan in their hearts and what they do behind the scenes are all shameful devilish things, and if no one exposes them, then no one can fathom them. Everything that is spoken by Satan and devil kings is hypocrisy and deceit, and some people who understand the truth will be able to see this clearly. Some people are always comparing the image of devils and great people with God incarnate, and when there is no match, they feel uncomfortable, they form notions and they never let them go. Are there many people like this? There are surely many of them. Some people are still concerned about whether the story I recounted just now was true or not. When I first heard about this, I was puzzled that I, the person involved, didn’t know what had supposedly happened to Me. It was a big joke and a big lie. It wasn’t true. In that situation, even though there weren’t many brothers and sisters who had accepted this stage of new work, there were still some people who accepted it when God first began to utter His words. What’s more, they were all believers in Jesus who had come to accept this stage of work. They were all willing to show love and absolutely could never have shut the door in Christ’s face; they certainly could never have done that. At New Year, some people invited Me to their homes. Besides, with that many brothers and sisters, whose home could I have gone to and not been hosted? By saying that, it seemed as if the brothers and sisters were being rebellious and that no one would host Me anywhere. This was an attempt to frame brothers and sisters and spread rumors about them! It was all totally unfounded and was clearly fabricated by certain people with ulterior motives, and yet you still really believed it. How could you still believe this? It was because people have certain notions about the incarnation, and they have these requirements in terms of their feelings, desires, and psychological makeup, and so they’re willing to listen to such stories. Some people took advantage of this chance to fabricate these stories and then did all they could to spread and disseminate them, embellish them, and then make inferences and concoct things. Finally, more and more people came to hear their fabrications and regard these things as true. If I hadn’t clarified this matter, you’d never have been able to distinguish true from false in your lifetime. Do you understand now? This simply never happened.
I’ll tell you some things now so that, through these things, you can understand what notions there are about the incarnation and Christ. When this stage of God’s new work had not long been started, the church needed to write some hymns, and I wrote one too. At that time, God incarnate had already been borne witness to. After they’d read My hymn, some people thought it was great, but there was one person who said something very odd: “How have You written this hymn so quickly? How have You come up with so many words?” Hearing this, I felt very puzzled, and thought, “Does one need words to write a song? Does one have to be knowledgeable? What then does he think all those words I’ve expressed are?” He had a notion, an idea, believing that these words the incarnation was expressing were just words and articles—he didn’t think, nor did he understand, that these words were the truth. He found everything the incarnation did very obscure. Because he didn’t understand the truth, he used the words of the unbelievers to explain them, and people felt uncomfortable and disgusted when they heard this. This person did not understand spiritual matters and there are people like this even now. So, what kind of notions does this matter relate to? This person didn’t deny the incarnation or deny Christ; he used a notion to measure what had happened. He believed that Christ must be knowledgeable and educated and that, when among other people, He must be able to convince them utterly. Even if Christ wasn’t very educated, yet His caliber, talents, and abilities must be better than others, that is, He must be better than other people at certain things or be different from other people in certain ways in order to be worthy of being God and Christ. He believed that Christ could be Christ if He was qualified to be so. He didn’t believe that Christ could be Christ only if He possessed the essence of Christ, and that’s why he said such a thing. What obstacles does this kind of notion pose to people’s belief in God and their life entry? People will use their brains to analyze God’s words and to analyze and study God’s flesh, and they’re always studying Him and thinking, “Is what this person says logical? Does it accord with normal thinking? Is it in line with grammatical rules? Where did He learn this from?” They don’t seek the truth in God’s words, they don’t understand God’s words from the perspective of accepting the truth, and they don’t accept God’s words as the truth. Instead, they use their brains and knowledge to analyze, study, and question. No matter what kind of viewpoints or notions people use to take the measure of this person or approach this person, what is the final result? (They cannot gain the truth.) They certainly cannot gain the truth. There is another aspect which you haven’t understood, and that is that people aren’t able to ascertain whether He is the incarnation or not—isn’t this crucial? (Yes.) Many people ascertain that He is indeed God, that His words are the truth and life and they come from God by listening to the sermons He gives and certain mysteries He reveals. However, if people are always studying God with their notions and never accept His words as the truth, then what is the final result? They will always question this person’s identity and essence and His work, that is, they won’t be able to verify whether this person is human or God, thinking that perhaps this person is a messenger sent by God, or perhaps a prophet, because humans aren’t able to say the things that He says. Some people don’t acknowledge that this person is God, because within them there are many restrictions and fetters and many notions which do not match this flesh. When they don’t match, these people don’t seek the truth but continue to cling to their notions, and so they end up stuck. When you tell such a person as this to make an effort in their faith, they harbor many notions which they can’t let go, and when you tell them to leave, they become fearful that they won’t be blessed. Are there people like this? Are you like this? Even though most of you have confirmed that this person is indeed God incarnate, actually you confirm it only 80 or 90 percent, and there is still 10 or 20 percent of doubt and questioning. It can be said that you have basically confirmed it, while that remaining doubt and questioning are not such urgent issues. The resolution of these notions is within reach, but it can be very troublesome if these notions and questions are not resolved in a timely manner. As far as your notions go, how should I treat you in order for you to be satisfied, for you to think that this is done by God and that this is how God is supposed to treat people? Should I speak softly and then be concerned about you and care about you in every matter? If one day I were to find that some of you have done something absurd, and I give you a good telling off, expose and judge you harshly, and hurt your self-esteem, would you feel that I’m not like God? You believe God to be the gentlest, the most loving, and that God is filled with lovingkindness, so what then can I do in order to be the God of your notions and imaginings? If you still make such demands of God now, then you are without any reason and you really don’t know God.
I’ll tell you another thing about notions concerning the incarnation. Twenty years ago, when I was in China, I wasn’t yet 20 years old and, at that age, people aren’t very experienced and mature in their speech and actions; they speak and act like young people, and this is normal. If they spoke and acted like old people, then that wouldn’t be normal. It’s normal for people in any age group to be like people in that age group. God created mankind and ordained a normal growth pattern for man. Of course, God Himself in the flesh is no exception, and He also lives and experiences life in accordance with this pattern. This pattern came from God, and God will not violate it. Therefore, before God incarnate had reached the age of 20, certain of His behaviors were definitely like those of a young person. For example, when moving house one time, some brothers and sisters left behind some pens and notebooks after moving away. I thought it would be a pity to lose them, and brothers and sisters also needed to take notes, so I packed them up and shared them with a few sisters. Someone then formed a notion and said, “Whoever wants these things can come and get them themselves. You’re acting like a child, sharing them out!” This is what he said. Is this an important matter or a minor matter? If someone were to judge a normal person as acting like a child, then that would be a normal thing to do, it would be a saying, and no one would pay attention or take it seriously; no one would think this saying was a notion or a perspective, either, but would just take it as it is. However, what was his approach in saying this to Me? What was the nature of it? In his notions and imaginings, even though God incarnate hadn’t yet reached 20 years of age, He should still act like an old person, sit solemnly every day with His eyes staring forward, looking like a wise, experienced old person who never tells jokes or chats, and who is particularly steady and composed. The moment I behaved or did anything that ran counter to what an old person might do, such as Me sharing the pens and notebooks out to some sisters, someone would condemn My actions as being like those of a child, not like Christ, and not like the God in their mind, because God incarnate was not supposed to act in any way like a child. Wasn’t that them defining God incarnate? Is this kind of definition a kind of condemnation and judgment, or is it a kind of appreciation and approval? (It’s condemnation and judgment.) Why is it a kind of condemnation? Could it be that by saying God incarnate was like a child, he was denying God? What was wrong with him saying this? What was the central issue of him forming this notion? (He was denying the incarnation’s normal humanity and denying the normality and practicality of God. It’s like what God said just now, that the incarnation is just like created mankind, with a normal growth pattern. That person, however, regarded God as being especially supernatural and so he didn’t understand the incarnation. The nature of this is denial and condemnation of God, and it is blasphemy.) That’s right, his denial was the essence of the problem. Why did he deny God incarnate in this way? It was because he harbored a notion about God incarnate in his heart, thinking, “You’re God, so You cannot reveal Your normal humanity in line with normal aging. You’re not yet 20 but You must be as mature and experienced as a 50-year-old. You’re God, so You should live in violation of the growth pattern of normal humanity. You must be supernatural, You must be different from everyone else, and only then can You be Christ and the God that we have in our minds.” This was the notion he had. And what was the consequence of this notion? Would his notion have been revealed if this thing hadn’t happened? No one knows; it’s just that he was exposed through this matter. If he’d had a notion about this matter, but had thought that people weren’t able to thoroughly understand what God had done, and he hadn’t spoken recklessly, then he would have had space to seek, and this would have been excusable. People don’t understand the truth and there are many things they are not able to thoroughly understand. However, even though people don’t thoroughly understand these things, some people judge and condemn, while others don’t speak recklessly and instead wait and seek the truth—isn’t there a difference in nature here? (Yes.) So, what was the nature of this person’s failure to thoroughly understand? He went immediately to condemnation, and this was a serious problem. Once people form notions, doubt and even condemnation and denial arise in them concerning God incarnate, and this is extremely serious.
I’ve just given three examples of notions about the incarnation. These three examples show certain issues, and you should seek to find what the truth is in them. What’s the first notion? (People delimit the incarnate God using their definitions of great people, believing that God should suffer in order to be a model for mankind.) This is a notion people have. Their notion is that God incarnate should suffer more and set an example, be a model, for mankind. What is the second notion? (People believe that Christ should be knowledgeable and educated, more so than ordinary people, and only then is He Christ.) Many people now still believe that God’s utterances and work come from His knowledge and gifts, or from certain things He has mastered and understood—this is a notion. And what is the third notion? (People believe that Christ is not supposed to have any expressions of normal humanity.) To be more specific, it is that God incarnate is supposed to be supernatural and must be different from everyone else and have supernatural abilities. If Christ was ordinary and normal in every way, people’s faith in God would be weak, and they would doubt God and even deny Him—everyone loves the supernatural God. Is it beneficial to your understanding of the truth for Me to tell you these stories? (Yes.) It should be helpful. You would perhaps think it abstract if I were to fellowship this aspect of the truth to you without any factual basis, and you wouldn’t know what it actually refers to. What I’ve told you, however, are some concrete examples and, upon hearing them, you think them practical and easy to understand, and through these stories you are able to understand some truths. But are you able to learn how to use the truth to measure and approach other things when you encounter them? If you can apply the truth, then that shows you are able to understand spiritual matters and you understand the truth in these stories; if not, then you do not understand spiritual matters and you have not understood the truth in these stories. If in the circumstances of these stories you can discover the truth of them, know what God’s will is, know what you should understand, dissect, and enter into, and what truths you should seek and gain, then you understand spiritual matters; if, when I’ve finished telling these stories, you become very interested in these things and you remember them, but you put the truth to one side, then you do not understand spiritual matters. If you can truly understand the truth of these stories, then I will not have told them in vain. As long as it helps you to understand the truth, I will give some practical examples. No matter what the issue is, I’ll dissect it; as long as it helps you to have understanding and to be able to understand the truth and see things clearly, then I don’t mind telling any number of stories. Actually, I don’t want to tell you these things, and I really don’t want to tell you stories of right and wrong, but if these things help you to enter into the truth, then I’ll tell you them; as long as it helps you to understand the truth, I don’t mind speaking a little more. If you dislike Me chatting on and on, however, then I’ll have no choice but to speak less.
What notions should be resolved from these stories I’ve told you? First you must understand, when it comes to God incarnate, how does God essentially define this flesh’s humanity? He is ordinary and normal and can live among corrupt mankind and engage in all the activities of normal humanity, and He is not of a different kind. He can help, guide, and lead people. Whether it is His normal humanity or His divinity or His personality—regardless of the aspect—He must certainly be able to handle the work He undertakes and the ministry He performs. This is the standard by which God measures Christ and the incarnation; it is a standard for His work, and a standard for His definition. When the Lord Jesus performed His work, His humanity, compared with the incarnation now, possessed some supernatural aspects. He could perform miracles: He could curse the fig tree, rebuke the sea, make the sea and wind calm, heal the sick and cast out demons, and feed five thousand people with five loaves and two fish, and so on. Besides this, however, His normal humanity and basic needs appeared to be so very normal and practical. He wasn’t born 33 and a half years old and was then crucified. He lived to be 33 and a half years old, and He lived every day, every year, one minute and one second at a time, until finally He was crucified and thereby completed the work of redeeming mankind. It was only after living for 33 and a half years in this world that the incarnation completed this work—is this not practical? (It is.) This is practical. As for the stage of work God is performing now, everything He says to you and every truth He communicates is based on your stature, your level of growth in life, and the entire environment arranged by God, and so I contemplate which truths will be most appropriate to communicate to you and which truths I want you to understand. Externally, it appears as though this flesh is pondering these things, when in fact the Spirit of God is acting simultaneously; while this person is coordinating, the Spirit of God is guiding it all. If you look at it this way, you won’t doubt the essence of this flesh or His identity—you will never question these things. The things I do with you and the requirements I have of you can never conflict with the entire management plan of God’s Spirit. They advance together, they move in the same direction, and they support each other. If the Spirit of God didn’t wear this flesh, He wouldn’t be able to speak with you face to face, you wouldn’t be able to hear what He said, and you wouldn’t be able to understand what He requires of you. However, if there was only this flesh and the Spirit of God were not within Him, would this flesh be able to perform any work? He certainly wouldn’t. If God did not become flesh, then no human being would be able to undertake this work. Therefore, this normal flesh has to live every day, every month, and every year, living moment by moment in this way, His humanity ever maturing, His experience ever increasing, while at the same time constantly striving to be able to undertake the work required by God’s management plan. In performing this stage of work, I began to work in the church when I was not yet 20 years old and I came into contact with brothers and sisters. I started to attend gatherings, give fellowships, and walk among the churches, and I came into contact with all kinds of people. From that time till now, I feel that My linguistic ability and My ability to view people and things have been constantly growing. How does this growth in My abilities differ from your circumstances? You have to experience through the words I speak and the truths I fellowship on and, as you experience, you gradually become certain that the words I speak are from God, they are truth, they are right, and they are words that can enable you to achieve dispositional change and attain salvation. As for Me, while you are making progress, I am growing ever deeper. While My understanding of you continues to grow, I am also constantly making the things I want to say be able to supply your needs step by step. Some people say, “You want to supply our needs, to make our statures gradually grow, to enable us to change and progress more and more on the path of salvation, and for our relationship with God to grow ever closer, so how are You going to do that?” You don’t need to worry about this. I never ask for anything, nor do I need to fast or pray, or ask for anything as though praying for rain, so that God quickly gives Me some words to provide to you. I don’t need to do that. Because this flesh is God Himself and He performs this ministry, He therefore expresses the truth to provide for people—this is the difference between God’s incarnate flesh and corrupt mankind. Therefore, I don’t need to make a point of understanding what you need; yet what I want to provide you with and fellowship with you is definitely what you need. You just need to move onward in the wake of My words and work, and your state will begin to improve, and your life will also progress more and more along with it. At the same time, the Spirit of God will, while I’m watering you, perform His work in tandem. In fact, it is the Spirit of God which cooperates with His humanity, and His humanity cooperates with His divinity—They all work simultaneously. I’m here watering you and the Spirit of God is among you, working, enlightening, and illuminating, and then arranging situations and creating conditions for you so that you can enter into various truths. His humanity and divinity work together in this way. So, is there any human being who can achieve this collaboration between the flesh and the Spirit? Absolutely not. Therefore, if you don’t try to know God’s entire management and approach this flesh from this aspect of the truth, you will forever be unable to understand exactly what the essence of this flesh is, what this flesh is all about, and how exactly He performs work. If you can’t understand these things, then you’ll never be certain whether He is a human being or God. If, however, you can see this level clearly or reach this level in your experience and appreciate this level, you will then know that while God’s flesh—Christ—is working on earth, the Holy Spirit is working in tandem and performing the same work, and this is something no one among all of mankind can achieve. And while the Spirit is working, the flesh is working in tandem with the Spirit’s work. They are complementary, consistent, and never in conflict with each other. Some people say, “Sometimes, when I encounter trials, the Holy Spirit enlightens me to learn the lessons. You, however, express other truths. What’s that all about?” There is simply no contradiction or conflict here. Christ expresses the truth gradually and in the appropriate order, while the Holy Spirit leads everyone in their experience to different degrees—there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Christ preaches by giving fellowship on the truth based on the key issues that really exist for God’s chosen people, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit is also based on individual circumstances. There is no contradiction or conflict here. People have different statures at different times and at different stages, whereas all the work God performs is in the truth He expresses, that is, the truth, the way, and the life as spoken about by God. His work doesn’t go beyond this scope—it is all truth. What are the truths the Holy Spirit enlightens you with and the light He allows you to understand based upon? They’re based upon these truths Christ now expresses, that is, the truth, the way, and the life that He now allows you to understand. Some people say, “We don’t need You in this flesh. It’s enough that we have the Holy Spirit to enlighten and guide us. We can have new enlightenment and light just the same without You, we can enter the new age just the same, and we can attain salvation just the same.” Is this a tenable thing to say? (No.) Religious people have believed in Jesus for two thousand years and the Holy Spirit has guided them for two thousand years, and what have they gained? Only the gospel of redemption, and they’ve just enjoyed much grace from God, yet they aren’t able to gain these truths God expresses in the last days. Therefore, if God’s incarnate flesh was not here in the last days expressing so many truths, what would you be able to gain? You would be just like those religious people, gaining great enlightenment from the Holy Spirit and much grace, or else God would choose you and use you and you could be a prophet or an apostle, but if you don’t accept these truths God’s incarnation of the last days expresses, then you will have no way to be made perfect, to enter the kingdom of heaven, or to receive God’s commendation.
You are now able to accept the incarnation, yet you still have certain notions about the essence of the incarnation and are never certain that the incarnation is the practical God. If I were to engage with you now, and you discovered that I don’t understand some things in the outside world either, would you form notions? Some people wouldn’t be able to get over it, and would think, “You don’t understand it either. This isn’t supposed to happen. You’re God incarnate so You should understand everything. There should be nothing You don’t know and nothing You can’t do. Even though You can’t be everywhere at once, You should still know everything!” Isn’t this a notion people have? (Yes.) This is a notion, too. What is the concept behind the incarnation’s normal humanity? It is that there is normal human logic in the way the incarnation thinks—it’s not supernatural, it’s not vague, and it’s not hollow. He can achieve what can be reached with the thinking of normal humanity by studying, though He may not necessarily know more about such things than someone with the relevant expertise, and this is normal. Moreover, He speaks and acts in accordance with the logic and thinking of normal humanity, and not supernaturally. For example, the thinking of normal humanity proceeds step by step, and this is how the incarnation thinks too. Why is His normal humanity like this? Is this reasonable? (Yes.) Why do you say this is reasonable? How many stairs does a normal person take at a time when stepping up them? (One.) One stair with every step; this is the normal way to walk up stairs. If I were to span many stairs in just one step and enter the house immediately, would you be able to do this? (No.) No, you wouldn’t. And if I insisted that you do this, what would you do? Would you be able to achieve this? (No.) No, you wouldn’t. It is based on the needs of those whom the work is aimed at. I fellowship on the truth in this way, taking a topic and a core issue and then doing all I can to speak specifically and completely, telling stories, giving examples, saying things again and again, yet even by speaking in this way there are many people who don’t understand and who miss the point. So if I didn’t speak in such detail and explained everything in a most profound and general way, then you wouldn’t be able to gain or understand anything, and this work would be empty and impractical. You can progress by taking one stair with every step, so I will lead you onward by also taking one stair with every step, and in this way you can keep up with Me. If I were to take four stairs in one step, what would the result be? You would never be able to keep up with Me. If My thinking was advanced and could go forward in leaps and bounds, and you weren’t able to reach it at all, the incarnation would become meaningless. Therefore, no matter how normal and practical this flesh is—He may even seem to not have the capabilities of God’s Spirit—all of this is because of the needs of mankind. Because the people now being supplied by God are people who have been corrupted by Satan, who understand no truth, and who are incapable of understanding the truth, in becoming flesh, He must possess the most basic thinking of normal humanity. What is this most basic thinking? It is that, when He speaks, people with middling caliber and even slightly lacking caliber can understand Him. As long as their thinking is normal, everyone can understand what He says and talks about and understand the truths He preaches, and can then accept the truth. Only in this way can every step of the work God performs and all the words He utters achieve effects and see results. Isn’t this realistic? (Yes.) So, if people cling to notions and won’t let them go, saying, “In the past, some emperors were gifted with extraordinary memories and could read ten lines at a glance. Shouldn’t God be like that? If You don’t possess these gifts, we won’t be able to follow You because You’re too ordinary. It would be great if You looked like a big shot,” what can you see from this? People have been corrupted by Satan to the point where they’re so ignorant as to be beyond remedy. Apart from having some normal human thinking and caliber, and with God choosing them and working on them, people having some heart to follow God and a little conscience and reason—apart from this, they understand nothing. Not only do they not understand any truths, but they don’t even understand what normal humanity is, what corrupt dispositions are, how notions and imaginings arise, how to resolve them, how people should approach God, or at the very least what conscience and reason they should possess, and so on. No matter what easy-to-understand language God uses, people don’t quite understand and only have a superficial understanding. Tell Me, when faced with a group of corrupt people who understand nothing, who are in opposition to God, what kind of essence, what kind of humanity, and what kind of normal human thinking should God incarnate possess in order to be able to lead such people before God? Tell Me, what should God do? Some people say, “Isn’t God all-powerful? Why not show lots of signs and wonders to conquer people?” This is a notion held in most people’s hearts. They don’t question whether corrupt dispositions can be exposed and resolved by showing signs and wonders and by supernatural means. Can the truth be wrought into people by supernatural means? Would this convince Satan? (No.) Your saying “No” now is perhaps a kind of doctrine, but when you have experienced up to a certain day, you will then know just how numb and dull-witted, just how disobedient, just how intransigent, just how wicked people are, and just how much they do not love the truth. When you’ve experienced up to a certain day, you will then understand that God’s incarnate flesh, this flesh of normal humanity, is what is needed by all of mankind. Therefore, if you still have all manner of imaginings and notions, to you this is an irresponsible attitude to have, and to God it is blasphemy; it is to deny and question God’s painstaking intent to save mankind. If you think, “We have knowledge and education and brains. We’ve been born into the last days, and some of us have received higher education in the world and have certain family backgrounds. We’re modern, educated people and we have reason to reject such an exceedingly ordinary and normal Christ whom everyone looks down on; we have reason to form notions about You,” then what kind of problem is this? This is disobedience and not knowing the difference between good and bad! People can resolve their notions once they’ve arisen, but if after they’ve been resolved, people still stubbornly refuse to accept God’s incarnation or the normal humanity side of Christ, then this will cause trouble for them and will prevent them from attaining salvation. When you have experienced up to a certain day, you will understand that the more normal God’s incarnation, His normal humanity, all that He has and what He reveals, the greater our salvation, and the more normal they are, the more they are what we need. If God’s incarnation were supernatural, then not one of those who live on earth would be able to attain salvation. It is precisely because of God’s humility and hiddenness, because of the normality and practicality of this seemingly unremarkable God, that mankind has the chance of salvation. Because in people there is disobedience, satanic corrupt dispositions, and corrupt essence, all kinds of notions, misunderstandings, and conflicts toward God are produced; it is even the case that, as a result of these notions, people often proudly or self-confidently deny this Christ, and deny His normal humanity—this is a big mistake. If you wish to attain salvation, if you wish to receive God’s salvation, and the judgment and chastisement of God, you must first put aside your various notions and imaginings and erroneous definitions about Christ’s normal humanity, you must put aside your various views and opinions about Christ, and you must think of a way to accept all that comes from Him. Only then will the words He speaks and the truths He expresses gradually find entry into your heart and become your life. If you wish to follow Him, you should accept everything about Him; whether His Spirit, His words, or His flesh, you should accept it all. If you have truly accepted Him, then you should not stand in opposition to Him, always misunderstanding Him and being disobedient toward Him in reliance on your notions, much less should you cling to your notions, always doubting Him and even being conflictive and resistant toward Him. This kind of attitude will only harm you and it is of no benefit to you at all. Can you accept what I say? (Yes.) That’s good, so now hurry and seek the truth to resolve your notions. This issue pertains to corrupt dispositions, and if you don’t solve them, then you must die of your corrupt dispositions.
Now, when it comes to the form in which God performs His work in the last days, despite the fact that some people produce certain imaginings and notions about it, these imaginings and notions are largely incapable of obstructing their faith in God, and people will not casually say that they don’t believe in God or deny God. What is this phenomenon? This is the result achieved by God’s words. People have been conquered by God’s words and work, and can basically accept Christ as their God. In this sense, people have basically laid down a foundation on the true way, and they are certain about it and sure about it. When this result is achieved, are people’s misunderstandings about God then resolved? (No, they’re not.) That their misunderstandings are not resolved proves that they still have many imaginings, requirements, and notions about God’s incarnate flesh and about Christ. These notions can guide your thoughts, guide the direction and goals of your pursuit, and they can also frequently influence your state. When the matters you encounter do not touch upon your notions, you are still able to eat and drink God’s words and perform your duty normally. The moment something clashes with your notions, goes beyond your notions, and contradictions arise, how do you resolve this? Do you give free rein to your notions, or do you deal with them, restrain them, and forsake them? Some people have notions when things happen to them, and not only do they not let their notions go, but they also go and spread their notions to others and find opportunities to vent them, so that others come to have notions too. Some people also argue, saying, “You say everything God does is meaningful, but I don’t think this particular occurrence has any meaning.” Is this appropriate to say? (No.) What is the correct path to take? When some people have notions about God, they can realize that their relationship with God isn’t normal, that they have formed misunderstandings about God, and that it will become very dangerous if they don’t resolve them, that they will be likely to conflict with God, question God, and even betray God. They then pray to God and relinquish their notions. First, they deny their own incorrect perspective, then they seek the truth to resolve it. By doing this, they can easily come to submit to God. If someone forms notions, but still believes that they are right, and if they are ultimately unable to completely let go of or resolve their notions, then over time these notions will exert an influence on their life entry. In severe cases, they can even rebel against God and resist Him, and the consequence of this does not bear thinking about. If it is someone who pursues the truth, who already understands some truths and who occasionally forms notions about things, this is not such a big problem, and their notions will not have a great influence on them. Because they have the truth within them, directing their thoughts and behavior, and guiding them in the performance of their duty, their notions will have no impact on them following God. Perhaps one day they will listen to a sermon or some fellowship and they will understand, and their notions will be resolved. Some people form notions about God’s orchestrations and arrangements, and afterward they don’t feel like doing their duties, and they don’t put effort into performing them, they’re always in a negative state, and their hearts harbor conflict, dissatisfaction, and resentment—is this behavior right? Is this an easy thing to resolve? For example, suppose that you think yourself clever, but I say that you are a fool and that you don’t understand spiritual matters. Upon hearing this, you become angry and conflict with it, and you say to yourself in your heart, “No one has ever dared to say I don’t understand spiritual matters. Today is the first time I’ve heard this and I cannot accept it. Could I lead the church if I didn’t understand spiritual matters? Could I do this much work?” A contradiction has arisen, right? What should you do? Is it easy for people to reflect on themselves when this happens to them? What kind of person can reflect on themselves? Someone who accepts the truth and seeks the truth can reflect on themselves. If you are someone who possesses reason, you should first deny yourself when this happens to you; denying oneself means acknowledging that one does not possess the truth. Even if you have some ideas and perspectives, they are not necessarily accurate. Therefore, to practice denying yourself in such circumstances is the correct thing to do, it is not debasing yourself. After you’ve denied yourself, you will feel at peace in your heart, you will be much more well-behaved, and your attitude will be corrected. When you hear God say that you are a fool and that you don’t understand spiritual matters, you should quiet yourself before God and accept His words with a submissive mindset. Even though you don’t yet have any consciousness or understanding of God’s words, and you don’t know whether they are right or not, within your belief you should acknowledge that: “God is truth, so how could God say something wrong?” Even though what God said differs from what you think, you must accept God’s words based on faith; even if you don’t understand them, you must accept them as the truth. Doing this is guaranteed to be correct. If people don’t accept God’s words as the truth when they don’t understand them, that is so lacking in sense, and those people must be shamed in this matter. So, obeying God can never be wrong. This isn’t doctrine, this is practical, and these words come from experience. Then, when you are able to take God’s words as the truth and accept them, you must begin to reflect on yourself. Through performing duty and interacting with others, you will discover that not only do you not understand spiritual matters, you are also incredibly foolish, and have many faults and deficiencies, and you will discover that you have a serious problem. Won’t that mean that you’ll be able to understand and accept what God has said? You must accept these words, first as a rule, a definition, or a concept, and then in real life you must think of a way to compare yourself to His words, and to understand and experience them. After a while doing this, you will come to possess an accurate assessment of yourself. When that happens, will you still have misunderstandings about God? Will you still refuse to accept God’s assessment of you if there is no disagreement between you and God on this matter? (No.) You will be able to accept it and will no longer be disobedient. When you can accept the truth and thoroughly understand these things, you will then be able to take a step forward and make progress. If you don’t accept the truth, then you will always be standing in one place and will not make any progress. Is it important to accept the truth? (Yes, it is.) People must relinquish their notions about God, and they mustn’t harbor any hostility toward or conflict with the things God says—only this is an attitude of accepting the truth. Some people become negative and weak because they are replaced. They don’t want to perform their duties and are always passive and slacking off work. From the outside, it looks as though it’s because they have no status and they cherish status too much, but this is not in fact the case. They feel weak and negative simply because God’s assessment of them, or the assessment the brothers and sisters have of them, doesn’t match with their own assessment of themselves, because it is poorer than how they assess and understand themselves. That’s why they feel unconvinced and aggrieved, and ultimately, they decide to be negative and antagonistic, and to write themselves off as hopeless, thinking, “Didn’t You say that I’m not good enough? Then I’ll show You, I’m not going to do anything at all.” The result of this is that they cause delays to their duties, they offend God, and their own life entry grinds to a halt—this is a significant loss.
Some people say, “I can’t accept it when Christ says I’m bad. I’d accept it if the God in heaven said there was something bad about me. The incarnate God has normal humanity, His judgments can be wrong, and the things He does cannot be 100 percent correct. There are some questions over whether He could be mistaken in His assessment and condemnation of people, or in how He handles and makes arrangements for them. So I’m not afraid of what Christ—the God on earth—says about me, for He cannot condemn me or determine my end.” Do such people exist? They certainly do. When I deal with them, they say, “The God in heaven is righteous!” When I handle them, they say, “I believe in God, not some person!” They use these words to rebuff Me. And what are these words? (They are a denial of God.) That’s right, they are a denial and a betrayal of God. What they mean is, “This is not up to You, but the God of heaven.” In their notions and in their understanding of God, these people will never realize what the relationship is between the incarnate Christ and the God in heaven, that is, what the relationship is between the flesh and the Spirit in heaven. In their eyes, this insignificant person on earth will always be just a person, and no matter how many truths this person expresses, how many sermons He preaches, He is still a human; even if He makes some people complete, and brings them salvation, He will still be on earth, He will still be a person, and incapable of transcending the God in heaven. Thus, these people believe that faith in God must be the faith in the God in heaven; to them, only belief in the God in heaven is the true belief in God. People like this believe however they wish. They believe in whatever way makes them happy, and they imagine God to be whatever they wish Him to be. They follow their own imagination when it comes to the incarnate Christ, too: “If this God on earth were a little nicer to me, if He made sure that things went well for me, then I would respect Him, and love Him. If He isn’t good to me, if He has a problem with me, if He has a bad attitude toward me, and always prunes and deals with me, then He is not my God; I choose to believe in the God in heaven.” People with this attitude are not in the minority. They include you, too, for I have already encountered such people. When all is well, they are pretty nice to Me, and wait on Me attentively, but as soon as I replace them, they turn against Me. So, when they were being good to God, did they really believe that this was God, and Christ? No: What they are eyeing up is the identity and status of God, their every move is nothing more than fawning over the status and identity of God. At all times, they only identify the vague God in heaven as the true God; no matter how many truths this God on earth expresses, or how edifying and beneficial He is to man, the mere fact that He lives in His normal humanity and is of a fleshly body means that He cannot possibly be the God in heaven, and regardless of how these people flatter, serve, and respect this God on earth, in their hearts these people still believe that the God in heaven is the only true God. What do you think of this view? It is fair to say that such a view exists deep in many people’s hearts, that it is buried deep in their subconscious. At the same time as accepting the provision and shepherding of Christ, they are also observing, studying, and questioning Christ—whilst also looking forward to when the righteous God in heaven comes to pass judgment on all they have done. And why do they wish the God in heaven to pass judgment on them? Because they want to go with their preferences, notions and imaginings to give free rein to their desire that the God in heaven—the God of their imagination—shall behave toward them as they wish, whereas the God on earth will not do that; the God on earth only expresses the truth and speaks the truth principles. And they think, “The God in heaven’s love of man is selfless, unconditional, and without limit, whereas as soon as you say or do something wrong and the God on earth finds out, He uses you as a negative example in His sermons and begins dissecting you—so people must be more careful, they must keep themselves more hidden, and they can’t let Him know when something’s up.” Tell Me, am I not able to dissect the things you try to keep from Me? I don’t need to dissect the things you do; I’ll dissect your dispositions and your states. I don’t need to take these things you do as examples; I can still fellowship on the truth and give sermons to solve problems just the same, and I can still enable people to understand the truth. In the hearts of the nonbelievers, they believe that this flesh, this God, cannot know the things which His eyes do not see, much less know anything to do with the spiritual world or the truth. They believe that He can’t even see the things people are capable of doing when they’re being dominated by their corrupt dispositions, and that He can’t possibly totally understand man’s corrupt essence—this is the logic and reasoning of nonbelievers. They are always approaching Christ with a studying, questioning, and even nonbelieving attitude, and they also use the criteria for measuring man as well as the knowledge they understand and the things they imagine to measure Christ. For example, when talking to others, some people believe that other people don’t know what they think in their hearts or what kind of dispositions they have, and they speak to Me in this way too, treating Me in this way just as they would treat an ordinary person, thinking that I know nothing—isn’t this them not knowing God? They lie to other people and other people don’t mind, and they also lie to Me like that, giggling and treating Me as an equal, always wanting to treat Me like their buddy. They believe they can act that way because they’re familiar with Me, and they think that I may not know anything. Is this not a human notion? This is a human notion, this is human ignorance, and within this ignorance there lurks a satanic wicked disposition; it is this wicked disposition that leads people to form notions. Tell Me, do I need to live with someone, and spend every minute observing their thoughts and views, and totally comprehend their background, in order to reveal or see through their nature? (No.) No, I don’t, but you wouldn’t be able to achieve this. Even though you associate with people and live with them every day, you still aren’t able to see through their nature essence. No matter what happens to you, you are only able to see through the surface of things and not their essence. You could only have a little discernment of someone if God were to completely expose them, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see through them even if you associated with them for several years. I can be in contact with someone for a day or two, and they do some things, say some things, and express some views, and then I basically know what kind of person they are. However, there are some people who haven’t done anything yet, who I haven’t interacted with or handled anything with, yet I draw a question mark over them, and the moment they encounter an issue and express some view, their nature essence is revealed right away. Many people say, “Can You see through them as soon as their nature essence is revealed? What do You base this insight on? How come we can’t see through them?” If you don’t understand the truth then you won’t be able to take people’s measure, and you will never have the necessary criteria to do so. If you don’t have those criteria, you won’t be able to see through people. I, however, have those criteria. In one respect, I understand the truth, so I’m more perceptive and quicker when it comes to taking someone’s measure, and in another respect, God’s Spirit is at work. Some people think, “When people have lived in this world for a long time, they are able to see through things and people.” That’s not real insight; what is it they see through? The types of scams that exist in this society, such as political scams, business scams, financial scams, or scams related to pornography. These things can be avoided by people who have experienced and heard about them more. People who’ve undergone and experienced these things less are often deceived, but once they’ve been duped more, they gain experience, and they are able to see through them. This is how they see through things. However, when it comes to man’s corruption, nature, and man’s essence that has been corrupted by Satan, if people don’t possess the truth, then they will never have the wisdom to see through these things, and they will never be able to see through the dispositions that various kinds of people reveal behind a matter, or the source of the problem. If you can’t see through these things, then you won’t know how to handle the matter or the related people, events, and things—you will have no way to handle it and you won’t have the wisdom to handle it. That’s why when you encounter such a matter, you feel very flustered and agitated, and you find it difficult to deal with. If you understand the truth clearly, then you’ll be able to see through people’s corrupt dispositions and the essence of their corrupt dispositions. Through seeing the corrupt dispositions they reveal, you’ll come to know their essence, and then you’ll know what kind of thing they are, what kind of person they are, you’ll know how to guard against them, how to discern them, and you’ll know how to cope with this matter. Isn’t this the source of wisdom? (It is.) So, Christ can see through man and supply man—what is the source of all this? To say it in doctrinal terms, it all comes from the Spirit of God. To say it in more practical terms, it’s because Christ possesses the truth that comes from God. This is how it is. When one day you come to possess the truth reality as your life, you will then have wisdom and you will be able to see through people.
There is another aspect to human notions, and that is the notions people form about God’s work. How do people’s notions about God’s work come about? Some come from people’s previous comprehension of faith, and some come from their own imaginings about the work of God. For example, people used to imagine God’s work of judgment as there being a big white throne in the sky, with God upon the throne judging all peoples. Today, you all know that such imaginings are unrealistic—such things are impossible. Whatever the case, people have many imaginings about God’s work, management, and treatment of man, and most of these imaginings come from human predilections. Why do I say this? Because people do not want to suffer. They always want to follow God to the very end with ease, enjoy ample grace, inherit His blessings, and then enter the kingdom of heaven. What a wonderful thought! The most common and extravagant idea that corrupt mankind has about the work of God is breezing into the kingdom of heaven upon a sedan chair. Moreover, when people encounter the work of God, most of the time they are incapable of understanding it; they do not know the truth it contains, or what God’s aim is in doing this work, and why God behaves toward man thus. For example, I have previously described God’s love using the words “vast” and “immense,” but I think it likely you have never understood just what I meant by these two words. What was My aim in using these two words? It was to get everyone’s attention, so that you would go and reflect on them. Superficially, these words seem empty. They do have a certain meaning, but no matter how much thought people give them, all they can come up with is, “Vast—it means as boundless as the sky; it is saying that God’s heart is boundless, there is no limit to His love for mankind!” God’s love is not the kind of love that can be imagined by the mind of man. People are incapable of imagining this love, they must not use learning and knowledge to interpret this word, but must use another method to appreciate and experience it. Ultimately, you come to sense truly that the love of God is different from the love spoken of by people, that the true love of God is unlike any other kind of love, unlike the love understood by all mankind. So what exactly is this love of God? How should you understand God’s love? First you must not approach it with the notions and imaginings of man. Take a mother’s love, for example: A mother’s love toward her children is unconditional, it is extremely protective and warm. Right now, does the love of God for man that you feel have the same level of sensation and meaning as a mother’s love? (Yes.) Then this is a problem—it is wrong. You must distinguish God’s love from the love of parents, of a husband, wife, or children, of your kin, from the concern of friends, and come to know the love of God anew. Just what is the love of God? The love of God is without emotion and is unaffected by relationships of blood. It is love pure and simple. So how should people understand the love of God? Why have we come to discuss the love of God? The love of God is embodied in the work of God, so that people acknowledge it, accept it, and experience it, and ultimately realize that this is the love of God, and acknowledge that this is the truth, that God’s love is not empty words, nor some form of behavior on the part of God, but the truth. When you accept it as the truth, you will be able to recognize this aspect of God’s essence from it. If you treat it as some form of behavior, you will have difficulty recognizing it. What is meant by “behavior”? Take mothers, for example: They give their youth, their blood, their sweat and tears to bring up their children, and they give them whatever they want. Regardless of whether her child has done right or wrong, or what path they take, a mother gives selflessly, meets her child’s needs, never teaching, helping or guiding her child how to follow the right path, just constantly caring for, loving and protecting them, to the extent that ultimately, the child cannot tell right from wrong. This is the love of a mother or any kind of love born of the flesh, emotions, and fleshly relationships of man. The love of God, meanwhile, is exactly the opposite: If God loves you, He expresses this by often chastening and disciplining you, by pruning and dealing with you. Although your days may pass uncomfortably, amid chastening and discipline, once you have experienced this, you will discover that you have learned much, that you have discernment and are wise when it comes to interacting with other people, and also that you have come to understand some truths. If the love of God were like the love of a mother or father, as you imagine it to be, if He were so scrupulous in His care, and invariably indulgent, could you gain these things? You could not. And so, the love of God people can comprehend is different from the true love of God they can experience in His work; people must approach it according to God’s words and seek the truth in His words in order to know what true love is. If they do not seek the truth, how could someone who is corrupt conjure, out of thin air, an understanding of what God’s love is, what the aim of His work in man is, and where His painstaking intentions lie? People would never understand these things. This is the most likely misunderstanding people have about God’s work, and it is the aspect of God’s essence that people find most difficult to understand. People must experience it profoundly and personally and practically engage with it and appreciate it in order to be able to understand it. Ordinarily, when people say “love” they mean giving someone what they like, not giving them something bitter when they want something sweet, or even if sometimes they are given something bitter, it is in order to treat an illness; in brief, it involves the selfishness, the emotions, and the flesh of man; it involves aims and motivations. But no matter what God does in you, no matter how He judges and chastises you, chastens and disciplines you, or prunes and deals with you, even if you misunderstand Him, and even complain about Him in your heart, God shall, with unflagging patience, continue to work in you. What is God’s ultimate aim in doing this? He uses this method to awaken you, so that one day you can understand God’s will. But when God sees this outcome, what has He gained? He has actually gained nothing. And why do I say this? Because your all comes from God. God does not need to gain anything. All He needs is for people to properly follow and enter in accordance with what He requires while He performs His work, to ultimately be able to live out the truth reality, to live with the likeness of man, and no longer be deceived, beguiled, and tempted by Satan, to be able to turn their backs on Satan, to obey and worship God, and then God is well pleased, and His great work is done. What does God gain? God gains you and you can praise God. But what does your praise mean to God? Would God not be God if you did not praise Him? Would God not be all-powerful if you did not praise Him? Would you not praising God change His essence or His status? (No.) No. This can only be said to be the love and work of God. Is there this meaning to your understanding of God’s love as vast and immense? (No.) Your understanding has not reached that point. Even when someone breaks God’s heart, and others think there is no way God could save them, what is God’s attitude when they reflect on themselves, realize the error of their ways and repent, and put aside the evil in their hands and accept His salvation? God accepts them all the same. As long as people take the right path, God will not hold people’s transgressions to account. This is the love of God. What notion of man is to be remedied here? It is the notion regarding the way God loves. People should leave their various notions and imaginings behind; they must seek the truth and understand the truth in order to be able to let their notions go. It is easy to leave one’s notions behind, but thoroughly changing one’s notions is not easy. If you are to encounter a similar issue in the future and your notion forms again, what kind of problem is that? It would prove that this notion is deeply embedded within you. Even though with some matters you can let notions go by fellowshiping on the truth, with some other matters you will not be able to let them go. It may be easy to let a notion go with one matter, but to get people to utterly resolve their notions is not easy. One must understand many truths before being able to utterly resolve the problem of one’s notions. This requires people to seek the truth in the matters they encounter, practically experience and appreciate God’s love, and it requires God to perform many deeds so that people can know Him. Only when people know God can the problem of their harboring notions and imaginings about God be thoroughly removed.
What you need to analyze now are notions about God’s work and what these notions are, and mainly summarize your various imaginings, conflicts, and requirements about God’s work, God’s sovereignty and arrangements, and the way God works. These things can hinder you from submitting to God’s orchestrations and arrangements and can cause you to misunderstand and feel conflictive toward everything God has done with you. Such notions are very serious and are worth dissecting. For instance, some people read God’s words which judge and condemn people and they form notions and say, “God says He doesn’t love people like me, so perhaps He won’t save me.” Is this not a notion? What will the consequence be of this notion? No matter what corruption you have or what kind of person you are, you know that God doesn’t like people who disobey Him, so why don’t you repent? If you accept the truth, cast off your corruption and completely submit to God, won’t God then like you? Why do you delimit God, saying that He won’t save you? These negative thoughts you have will hinder you from following God and experiencing His work, they will cause you to remain at a standstill and abandon yourself to despair and will even cause you to reject God. Antichrists and wicked people appear in some churches and create disturbances, and in doing so they deceive some people—is this a good thing or a bad thing? Is this God’s love, or is it God playing with people and exposing them? You can’t understand this, can you? God brings all things into His service to perfect and save those He wishes to save, and what those who genuinely seek the truth and practice the truth ultimately gain is the truth. Some who don’t seek the truth, however, complain, saying, “It isn’t right for God to work this way. It causes me to suffer so much! I almost fell in with antichrists. If this really is arranged by God, how can He allow people to fall in with antichrists?” What’s going on here? You not following antichrists proves that you have God’s protection; if you fall in with antichrists, then that is a betrayal of God and God no longer wants you. So, is it a good thing or a bad thing that these antichrists and wicked people cause disturbances in the church? From the outside, it appears to be a bad thing, but when these antichrists and wicked people are exposed, you then grow in discernment, they are cleansed away, and you grow in stature. When you encounter such people again in the future, you will have discernment of them even before they’ve shown their true colors, and you will reject them. This will allow you to learn lessons and be benefited; you will know how to discern antichrists and will no longer be deceived by Satan. So, tell Me, is it not a good thing to have antichrists disturbing and deceiving people? Only when they have experienced to this stage can people see that God has not acted in line with their notions and imaginings, and that God permits the great red dragon to frenziedly create disturbances and permits antichrists to deceive God’s chosen people so that He can use Satan in His service in order to perfect His chosen people, and only then do people understand God’s painstaking intentions. Some people say, “I’ve been deceived by antichrists twice and I still can’t discern them. If a yet more cunning antichrist comes along, I’ll just be deceived again.” Then let it happen again so that you can experience it and learn the lesson—God must do things this way so that He can save mankind from Satan’s influence. Two phrases can be used here to describe the way God works, and they are that the various ways in which God works are extraordinary and beyond the imagination of ordinary people. Why do I define God’s work using these two phrases of “extraordinary” and “beyond the imagination”? It’s because corrupt mankind can’t understand these things and they don’t understand the truth, the way God works, or the wisdom of God in His fight against Satan—all of mankind draws a blank with these things. So how can people still harbor ideas and notions? It’s because they learn a little knowledge, understand some doctrine, and have their own preferences, and so they form certain notions and imaginings. When it comes to matters of the spiritual world and the work God performs, however, they don’t understand these things at all. In the last days, the Creator directly faces all of mankind and utters His words. This is the first time this has ever happened since the creation of the world. That is, He faces all of mankind and openly performs deeds in this way, publicizes His management plan and then implements it and carries it out among mankind—this is the first time this has ever happened. People draw a blank with and are strangers to this realm of God’s thought, God’s essence, and the way God works, therefore it is normal for people to harbor notions about these things, but this does not mean that they accord with the truth. No matter how normal people’s notions are, they still go against the truth, they do not conform with God’s words, and they conflict with God’s will. If these notions are not resolved in a timely manner, then they will be a huge obstruction to people experiencing God’s work and to their own life entry. Therefore, when it comes to human notions, no matter how much they accord with people’s imaginings and ideas, as long as they do not conform with the truth and with God’s words, then they all run contrary to the truth and are in opposition to God, and they are not compatible with God. No matter how in line with people’s imaginings their notions may be, people should always try to discern them; they should absolutely not blindly accept their notions. What should mankind accept? Mankind should accept God’s words, the truth, and all positive things that come from God. As for the things that pertain to Satan, regardless of how good or how in line with their own imaginings people think these things are, they must not accept them, but instead must reject them. Only in this way can people achieve submission to God and meet the Creator’s requirements.
People’s notions can only be resolved through God’s words and by using the truth; they cannot be put aside through preaching doctrine and by giving advice and encouragement—it is not that easy. People have no commitment to righteous matters, but are liable to cling to various notions or wicked, deviant and absurd things, which they find hard to put aside. What is the cause of this? It is because they have corrupt dispositions. Whether people’s notions are large or small, serious or not, if they do not have corrupt dispositions, 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 arrogance, intransigence, and even wickedness, notions become a fuse which causes people to conflict with, misinterpret, and even pass judgment on God. Who can still obey and praise God when they harbor notions about Him? No one. Harboring notions, people are just conflictive toward God, they complain about Him, they judge Him, and they even condemn Him. This is sufficient to show that notions arise from within corrupt dispositions, the appearance of notions is the expression of corrupt dispositions, and all corrupt dispositions that are expressed are rebellious against and resistant to God. Some people say, “I have notions, but I don’t resist God.” This is deceptive talk. Even if they don’t say anything, in their hearts they are still conflictive, and their behavior is conflictive. Can such people still submit to the truth when they’re like this? It’s impossible. Governed by a corrupt disposition, they cling to their notions—this is caused by their corrupt dispositions. 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, and even the things that have already become notions, 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 is in your heart, but it does not direct your actions. When it does not infringe upon your immediate interests, you ignore it. Ignoring it, however, does not mean there is not a corrupt disposition within your notion, and when something happens that is in conflict with your notion, you cling to it with a certain attitude, an attitude dominated by your disposition. This disposition could be intransigence, it could be arrogance, and it could be viciousness; it causes you to shoot your mouth off to God, saying, “My point of view has been academically ratified many times. People have held it for thousands of years, so why can’t I? The things You say that are at odds with human notions are wrong, so how can You still say they are the truth, that they are 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? (Corrupt dispositions.) That’s right, it is caused by corrupt dispositions. There is a direct relationship between notions and people’s corrupt dispositions, 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 more smoothly perform their duty well, they are not taking circuitous paths, they do not disrupt or disturb, and they do not do anything that brings shame upon God. If people’s notions and imaginings are not addressed, it becomes easy for them to do things that cause disruptions and disturbance. In more serious cases, people’s notions can produce in them all manner of conflict to the incarnation of God. Speaking of notions, they are certainly wrong views that are at odds with the truth, they are entirely opposed to the truth, and they can cause all kinds of conflictive feelings to God to arise in people. This conflict makes you question Christ and become unable to accept or obey Him, whilst also affecting your acceptance of the truth and entry into the truth reality. In even more serious cases, people’s various notions about the work of God cause them to deny the work of God, the ways in which God works, and the sovereignty and arrangements of God—in which case they have no hope of salvation whatsoever. No matter which aspect of God people have notions about, behind these notions lurk their corrupt dispositions, which can cause these corrupt dispositions to become worse, giving people even more of a pretext to approach the work of God, God Himself, and the disposition of God using their own corrupt dispositions. And does this not encourage them to resist God with their corrupt dispositions? This is the consequence of notions for man.
Although we’ve previously often talked about human notions, we’ve never fellowshiped systematically and in detail on what aspects and matters people harbor notions about, and the kind of notions they form. By fellowshiping and dissecting point by point in this way today, I’ve given you a clear line to follow so that you know what kind of notions you have, and so you can then have a path to resolve them one by one. If people can resolve these notions one by one, all aspects of the truth will become increasingly clear to them. In this way, their onward path will also become increasingly clear, and the path they walk in their faith in God will become increasingly solid and bright the farther they go.
September 20, 2018