Only by Resolving One’s Notions Can One Embark on the Right Track of Belief in God (2)
Regarding the issue of notions, we fellowshiped last time about three points: The first was notions about belief in God, the second was notions about incarnation, and the third was notions about God’s work. We finished discussing the first two points, and talked about some fairly basic conceptual content with respect to the third point. Regarding the notions concerning this point, or the content concerned with these notions, afterward did you carefully contemplate what other content is concerned with these notions and relates to this truth? No truths are as simple as their literal meaning; they all have their own real meaning contained within, and they are all concerned with people’s life entry, as well as with all aspects of their daily lives and belief in God. So, have you figured out from your daily lives any content regarding this aspect of the truth? When you are listening to fellowships on this aspect of the truth, you can only understand some of it, in a literal sense, and have some discernment of obvious notions. Afterward, through further contemplation, prayer and seeking, and fellowshiping with your brothers and sisters based on your experience, you should be able to gain a somewhat deeper and more real understanding. Looking at these three truths in the literal sense, which one is most concerned with people’s corrupt dispositions, their understanding of God’s disposition, and their actual entry? Which truth is the most in-depth and profound? (The third truth.) The third truth is a little more in-depth. The first was notions about belief in God, and these notions are fairly obvious and superficial things; the second was notions about incarnation, which involve some content that people can see and understand, and that they may come into contact with and reflect on in life; the third was notions about God’s work, which is concerned with people’s corrupt dispositions—this last truth is somewhat more profound. So what exactly are notions about God’s work? What notions do people have about God’s work? How should they understand and deal with these notions, and how should they resolve them? This is the content of today’s fellowship.
When people’s notions about God’s work escalate from their application of reasoning and judgment to their making demands on God, having extravagant desires toward God, conflicting with Him, and making some assessments or judgments about His work, then these notions are no longer just a point of view or a belief, but are also concerned with people’s corrupt dispositions. Once they become concerned with corrupt dispositions, this is enough to cause people to resist God, judge Him, and even betray Him. Hence, it is not a big problem if people’s notions about God go no further than imaginings and speculation. Whereas, if they escalate into a point of view and an attitude toward God’s work, turn into unreasonable demands on God or judgment and condemnation of God, or become filled with ambition, desires, or intentions, then these are no longer ordinary notions. Why do I say they are no longer ordinary notions? Because these notions and thoughts relate to your life entry, and to your understanding of God’s work, and to whether you can accept and obey God’s sovereignty, and to whether you can recognize Him as your Sovereign and as the Lord of creation, and all this has a direct bearing on your standpoint and attitude toward God. Looking at it this way, is it a serious problem for people to have these notions? (Yes.) In order to dissect these notions, if we do it from a theoretical point of view, they may sound a bit abstract, or somewhat far removed from your daily lives. So let us talk some more about various types of people’s living situation, which we can see in daily life or among humankind, or about their destiny, or about their various views and attitudes toward life and toward God’s sovereignty and orchestration, so as to dissect people’s notions and allow them to see how God rules over and orchestrates humankind, and what the actual circumstances of God’s work are. This is a topic that is not so easy to fellowship on. If the fellowshiping is too theoretical, people will feel it is hollow, whereas if it is too concerned with trivial matters or too close to people’s real lives, they will think it is very shallow, and there will be problems of this type. Be that as it may, let us nevertheless fellowship about it in a way that is fairly straightforward and easy to understand, which is still by telling a story. Through the plot and characters of the story, as well as the philosophy of living reflected in the story itself and the phenomena that people see, they can understand some of the ways and methods by which God does His work, as well as the mistaken and absurd views that people have in real life regarding God’s work, His sovereignty and orchestration of everything, or some incorrect things that people cling onto—it is somewhat easier for people to understand when fellowshiping in this way.
So here is the story. There was once a little girl who was born into a not-so-rich family. Ever since she was very young she had a wish: She didn’t ask to be rich or wealthy in life, all she wanted was someone to rely on. Was this wish too extravagant? Was it asking too much? (No.) But unfortunately, her father passed away before she reached adulthood, so in effect she had no one to rely on in life. She had lost the primary person she could rely on in this life, the only person she thought in her young mind that she could depend on. Was her young mind not afflicted with great anguish? For something like this to happen, it must have caused her great anguish. Was there trauma in her heart? There definitely was trauma. How did such trauma come about? It was because, in her young mind, she wasn’t ready yet, saying, “I can be independent, I can provide for myself, I don’t need to rely on my parents anymore.” She was, as they say, yet to spread her wings. In her naive thoughts, she hadn’t got around to thinking what to do about her future or how she would survive without her parents. It was in this situation, before she had become aware of such things, that her father passed away, which meant that her means of support in life was gone, and that times would get even tougher than they already were. You can imagine what her days must have been like after that. She led a difficult life with her mother and young brother, barely making ends meet. But no matter how anguished she was, life still had to go on, so she just stumbled on, keeping her mother and brother company. A few years later she had grown up, and could independently earn some money to provide for her mother and brother’s living expenses, but still they were by no means wealthy in life. All this time, her innermost wish had not changed. She needed someone to rely on, but what kind of person? What exactly was the one she wished to rely on? You describe them to Me. What does “someone to rely on” mean in the simplest terms? It means someone who could give her the means to live, as well as food and clothing, without her needing to go off and eke out a living on her own, or suffer any pain. Someone whom, at the very least, she could lean on whenever things went wrong, someone who had her back, as they say—that was the kind of person she hoped to rely on. Even if they couldn’t help or support her financially in life, then at the very least, whenever something went wrong or whenever she felt anguished, she would have a shoulder to lean on, someone who could help her get through the tough times and ride out the storm—this was what she wished for. Was this too much to ask? Was this wish unrealistic? It wasn’t too much to ask, and it wasn’t an unrealistic wish. Don’t many people also wish for something so simple as this? Very few people can say that they were born without relying on anyone but themselves. Most people living in this world and in a community hope to have a friend, or someone to rely on, and this girl was no exception.
In the blink of an eye she reached marriageable age, and still she wished to find someone she could rely on, someone dependable. That person didn’t need to be particularly wealthy, or to keep her in the lap of luxury, and he didn’t need to be a great conversationalist. He just needed to be there to support her whenever she was most in trouble, or beset by difficulty or illness, even if only to give her a few comforting words and nothing more. Was this a wish that could easily come true? This is uncertain. No one knows whether people’s wishes are what God planned to give them or accomplish in them, or whether ultimately, their wishes are already preordained in their destiny. Therefore, no one knew whether this girl’s wish could come true, and she herself didn’t know either. However, she kept holding onto this wish as she moved toward the next stage in life. At this time, she felt very apprehensive and uneasy, but be that as it may, the day had nevertheless come. She didn’t know if the person she was planning to marry actually was someone she could rely on for the rest of her life, but still she sincerely hoped in her heart: “This person should be someone I can depend on. The past twenty or so years of my life have been hard enough. If I end up with someone who isn’t dependable, the rest of my life will be even harder. Who else would I be able to rely on?” She felt pained, but there was nothing she could do, so she just continued hoping. In order to survive, when people don’t know why they are here in this life and how they should go through life, they grope forward with this kind of wish and unknown hope. When this moment came, she didn’t know what her future would be like. The future was unknown. She continued to move forward. However, many facts often run counter to people’s wishes. For the time being, let us not comment on why God arranges people’s destiny in this way—whether it is God’s intentional arrangement, or whether it is because people’s corruption and ignorance have caused their desires and demands to be diametrically opposed to the destiny God has arranged for them, so that their wishes often cannot come true, and so that things often don’t turn out the way they had hoped—let us not discuss all this for now. First, let’s continue with the story itself.
After the girl got married, she entered the next stage of life, while holding onto her wish. What awaited her at this stage of life? She didn’t know, but she couldn’t avoid it just because she was afraid of the unknown. She had to steel herself and move forward, and she still had to live through each day. At this major turning point in her life, the destiny that God had arranged for her finally arrived—and it was the opposite of what she had longed for. The homely family life that she had longed for, with a simple bed, a small writing desk, a simple, clean room, a husband and children—this simple life she wanted could never come to pass. After she got married, her husband would spend all year away from home due to work, so they had to live apart. What prospects does such a life hold for a woman? That of being bullied and discriminated against. Having to face such a living environment was another blow to her life and destiny. This was something she had never envisioned, and also something she had never wanted to see or face. But now, the facts were completely inconsistent with her wishes and imaginings. That which she didn’t want to see or experience had actually happened to her. Her husband was away at work all year long. She had to be independent, both in life and financially. She had to go out and earn money to pay the bills by herself. She didn’t have anyone to help her in life, and had to rely on herself for everything. In such a living environment, did this woman end up with someone she could rely on, or not at all? (Not at all.) Was her wish fulfilled or dashed after she got married? (It was dashed.) Obviously, in the second important stage of her life, her hope had been dashed once again, and she had no one to rely on. The person she had thought she could rely on in life was not by her side, and couldn’t be relied on at all. The person whom she had considered to be her pillar of strength, her rock, and someone to rely on couldn’t be relied on at all. She had to do everything by herself, and handle and face everything on her own. During her most difficult times, she could only hide in bed and cry under the covers, with no one to share her troubles with. For the sake of her face, competitiveness, and self-esteem, she often projected a formidable exterior, and came across as a strong woman, but deep down she was actually very fragile. She needed support, and longed for someone to rely on, but this wish had not yet come true.
A few years further on and she was moving around with her several young children in tow, renting houses and living a life of no fixed abode. In this way, one of her most basic requirements for life was gradually being eroded away, bit by bit, as the years passed. All she had wanted was to have a small room with a bed, a small writing table, and a stove for cooking on, and for her family to be able to eat around the table, keep a few chickens, and live a simple life. She didn’t expect to be rich or wealthy. As long as life was simple, peaceful, and the family was together, that was enough. However, all she could do now was live a hand-to-mouth existence with her children in tow. Not only did she have no one to rely on, but worse still, she had to become the person whom her own children relied on. She also thought that, since living in this mortal world was so painful, she would maybe find a way to resolve this pain, such as by becoming a Buddhist nun, or finding a place to cultivate her spiritual virtues, away from human society and away from this suffering, without relying on anyone, and without anyone relying on her, because living like this was just too tiring and painful. But what was the one thing that sustained her and kept her going? (Her children.) That’s right. If she didn’t have children, perhaps each day she lived would have been even more painful, but once she had children, she took on responsibilities and became the person they relied on. When her children called out “Mommy,” she felt that the burden on her shoulders was too heavy, that she couldn’t just abdicate her responsibilities like that, and that she couldn’t rely on others, but she could be the one others relied on—this, she thought, could also be regarded as a source of joy in life, an attitude toward life, and a motivation to live. In this way, she endured another ten years or so for the sake of her children. Did the days seem long? (Yes, they did.) Why did they seem long? (Because she lived a hard life, so the days seemed long.) You know from experience, those sound like the words of someone who has been there and done that. The days were hard and torturous, so they seemed extremely long. Everything she experienced was like a kind of torture deep within her heart, so she had to live counting the days, and this kind of life was not easy to go through. Even after the children had grown up, her wish still did not change. She still had this wish deep in her heart: “The children are older and it’s no longer such an effort to take care of them. If my husband could be with us and the family were to be reunited, then our life would be even better.” Her wonderful imagining returned and, just as unbelievers say, it put the wind of hope back in her sails. Whenever she couldn’t sleep at night, she would think such thoughts as: “Now that the children are grown up, if they can get into college, and eventually find a good job and earn money, then life will be easier, and the food, clothing and housing situation will be better than it is now. And if my husband comes back, life will be even better, and I’ll have someone to rely on! The two people that I relied on before failed me, but now I have more people to rely on. Heaven has been pretty good to me! It looks like better days are ahead.” She believed that better days were ahead. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? No one knows. No one knows what a person’s destiny in life is, or what lies ahead. People all stumble through life like this, clinging onto their beautiful wishes.
Ten years passed, her husband transferred to a different job, and the family was finally reunited, which was a good thing. So in the end, could her husband become someone she could rely on? Could he share some of the pain in her life? Because they had never lived together, nor interacted on a deep level, she didn’t know her husband well at all. In the days that followed, she and her husband started learning to live together and gained a deeper understanding of each other. Still her wish did not change. She hoped that this man could become the one she relied on, the one to comfort her and relieve her pain, come what may. However, things still didn’t turn out as she had intended. This husband whom she had never interacted with on a deep level, this man whom she didn’t understand at all, simply couldn’t become the one she relied on. The reason was that the two people’s survival abilities, human qualities, outlooks on life, values, and attitudes toward their children, family, and relatives were completely different. The couple constantly quarreled, and continually bickered with each other over isolated things. This woman hoped deep down that she could keep enduring so that her husband might come to understand her kindness, her patience, and her hardship, and afterward be emotionally touched by her and reconnect with her, but still her wish did not come true. As far as she was concerned, deep down, was her husband someone she could rely on? Could he become someone for her to rely on? (No, he couldn’t.) Whenever she faced difficulties, her husband not only failed to comfort her and ease her pain, but actually increased her pain, making her feel even more disappointed and helpless. At this time, what were her innermost feelings and understanding on life? They were disappointment and pain, which made her question, “Is there really a God? Why is my life so hard? All I want is someone to rely on, is that too much to ask? I only have this one little wish. Why has it still not come true in all the years I’ve lived? My requirements aren’t excessive and I have no ambitions. I just want someone to lean on whenever things go wrong, that’s all. Why can’t even such a small wish be fulfilled?” This situation went on for several years. Obviously, this family’s life was not very harmonious; there were frequent arguments. The children were sad and unhappy, and so were their parents. There was no peace or joy in the family, and each person felt only fear, trepidation, and terror, as well as pain and uneasiness deep in their hearts.
A few years later, things finally turned around and the gospel of the Lord Jesus came to her. She felt that her wish might finally come true. “I don’t need to rely on my father, my husband, or anyone around me,” she thought. “As long as I rely on the Lord Jesus I can be at peace, and have someone to really rely on, and find real peace and happiness, and then life will become less of an ordeal.” After accepting the gospel of the Lord Jesus, this woman became much happier, and of course her life became much more settled. Although her husband’s attitude toward her hadn’t changed, and he was still as harsh as before, ignoring her and showing her no consideration, care or concern, or even patience, gratitude or tolerance, nevertheless, because she had the salvation of the Lord Jesus in her heart, her attitude toward all this changed. She no longer argued or tried to reason with her husband, because she had come to understand that people have nothing to gain from arguing about all these things. Whenever things went awry, she spoke to the Lord Jesus and her heart became much more open. In this way, her family life appeared to become relatively settled. But the good times didn’t last long, and her life took another turn. Once she started believing in the Lord Jesus, she preached the gospel with zeal, embraced church life, and supported her brothers and sisters. However, her husband didn’t approve. He began to persecute her and often chided her by saying things like: “Do you still want to live with me? If you really don’t want to do so, let’s split up!” She had no alternative but to just pray to the Lord and put up with it. Although days like this were difficult and painful, the trauma in her heart was much less than before, and she could also draw some comfort from prayer. Whenever she was distressed, she would pray to the Lord. Her heart thus had someone to rely on and gained temporary fulfillment, and she felt that her life was much better.
Gradually, the children grew up. Because the children had lived with her since childhood and their affection for her was somewhat stronger, this woman felt, “Now that my children have grown up, I no longer need to rely on my husband, I can rely on my children.” To all appearances, it seemed that she had already come to rely on the Lord Jesus and had put her heart, her family, and even her future and prospects in His hands. But in fact, deep down, she still clung onto this wish for the people she could see and who had a relationship with her, and she hoped that this wish would one day come true. Because people cannot see where the Lord Jesus is, they say that the Lord Jesus is beside them and in their hearts, but she thought that God could not be touched or seen, so this made her feel uneasy. She thought it would be enough to just rely on the Lord Jesus to see her through significant events and major issues, but that in real life she would still have to rely on her children. Throughout all this time her wish had not changed, and she had not let go of it. She now believed in the Lord Jesus, but why had this wish still not changed? There are multiple reasons for this. One is that she didn’t understand the truth and didn’t know or understand much about God’s sovereignty and orchestration; this is the objective reason. The subjective reason is that she was a cowardly person. Although she believed in God, after experiencing so much pain, she still had no clear insight about the significance of believing in God, or about people’s destiny, God’s orchestration, and the way in which the Creator works. Which things show that she had no clear insight about these things? First of all, she always pinned her own happiness and her deep-seated yearning for a better life onto others, hoping that her wish could be realized because of others’ assistance or helping hands. Was this a mistaken view about life and destiny? (Yes.) This view was mistaken. As a parent, is it a mistake to pin your hopes onto your children, by hoping that they will be dutiful to you and able to support you when they grow up? It’s not mistaken, and it’s not asking too much. So what is the problem here? She constantly wanted to rely on her children, and to live a happy life by relying on her children, and to spend the rest of her life relying on her children, and to enjoy this-and-that by relying on her children. What was her mistaken view in doing this? Why did she have this idea? What was at the source of this view that she held? People always extravagantly hope for a certain way of life and a certain standard of living. That is to say, even before people come to know how God has preordained their lives or what their destiny is, they have already planned what their standard of living must be, which is that they must be happy, and have peace and joy in their lives, and be rich and wealthy, and have people to help them and rely on—people have already planned their own life path, their life goals, their final destination in life, and everything else. Is there any belief in God within all of this? (No.) No, there isn’t. This woman always had a view on life: If I rely on so-and-so, my life will become more peaceful, happier, and more affluent; if I rely on so-and-so, my life will become more settled, more secure, and more joyful. Is this viewpoint right or wrong? (It’s wrong.) After so many years, she had already reached the stage of believing in the Lord Jesus, but she still hadn’t seen clearly what human life is about. She still had her own intentions and plans, and was calculating her future path and planning her future life. Looking at it now, was this attitude toward life and this kind of planning correct or incorrect? (It was incorrect.) Why? (Because she was pursuing her own ideals and wishes, rather than what God requires of people.) What she was pursuing had nothing to do with God’s preordination. Even before she knew what God was going to do, she first resolved to find someone to rely on. She would rely on this person at this stage and that person at the next stage. In this way, she lost her reliance on God and came to rely solely on people, rather than on God. Given that she constantly had this wish and these plans, did she have God in her heart? (No.) So, in a way, what was the cause of the pain that came from all her struggles? (It was caused by her wish.) That’s absolutely true. So how did her wish come about? (By her not believing in God’s sovereignty or in His orchestration and arrangements.) That’s right. She didn’t understand how people’s destiny comes about, nor did she understand how God’s sovereignty works. This is the root of the problem.
Let us continue the story. When this woman’s children grew up, some got jobs and others settled down and got married, and of course they had to leave their parents and lead independent lives, and couldn’t get together with their parents often. So, what was the next problem this woman faced? Her wish to rely on her children seemed to be on the verge of being shattered yet again. It was another painful tragedy, another blow in her experience of life. Due to all sorts of reasons, her children couldn’t live by her side and keep her company, or often visit her and take care of her. Therefore, her hope that her children could be by her side to be filial to her and take care of her, and her wish to rely on her children so that she could take things easier, and live a more comfortable and happier life—all this was slipping further and further away from her. Thus, her concern, worry, and longing for her children became more and more intense. Was this not another kind of pain? As she grew older and the years weighed on her little by little, her pain became deeper and deeper, as did her longing for her children. Many years passed, and although the people whom this woman relied on at each stage of her life were different, they all left her at the appointed times, completely shattering her wishes or delusions, and leaving her feeling extremely tormented and anguished deep down. What did this bring to her? Did it cause her to reflect on life? Or to reflect on how the Creator arranges people’s destiny? If one takes into account people’s normal thinking, after listening to some sermons and having understood some truths, they should know some things about the Creator, about life, and about people’s destiny. However, due to various reasons, and because of the problem with the protagonist herself in this story, up to this point she still could not comprehend and didn’t have a clue about what she had experienced and encountered at each stage of her life, or what her problem was, and deep in her heart she still longed for someone to rely on. So who exactly should she rely on? It is true that God is the One that people rely on, but God is not just for people to rely on, this is not all He is for. It is more important for people to know how to get along with the Creator, how to know God and submit to Him—it is not just a relationship of relying on and being relied on.
After this woman lost her reliance on her children and by the time she reached old age, she transferred her hopes onto her husband, who became her one last straw to grasp at. She had to rely on him for her basic necessities, and to keep on living. She had to find ways to make her husband live a few more years, so that she could draw some benefit for herself. That was the one she relied on. Having lived for this long, the old woman had a head full of gray hair, a wrinkled face, and almost all of her teeth had fallen out. Although her appearance had changed, what remained the same was that at each stage of her life, she had hit a wall, and despite hitting a wall many times, she had the same constant wish—that of having someone to rely on. Another thing that didn’t change was her delusion about God’s promises to people, as well as some delusions about herself, humankind, and her destiny and prospects. Although deep down, these delusions were becoming more and more fuzzy and distant, perhaps she still held a glimmer of hope deep within her heart: “If, in my remaining years, I am able to live happily with someone I can rely on, or I can see the day when God’s work ends and He is glorified, then this life will not have been in vain.” That was the life of this woman. And that’s the end of the story. What should the title of this story be? (“Who Do I Rely On?”) That’s a pretty good and thought-provoking title.
Returning to the topic of our fellowship, what does this story have to do with people’s notions about God’s work? Which part relates to people’s notions about God’s work? What notions does it relate to? Share your thoughts. (People feel that God should accomplish things according to their expectations and plans. This is the kind of notion that people have.) Within people’s notions, people think that so long as their aspirations are good, positive and proactive, the Creator should grant them, and that they should not be deprived of the right to strive toward a beautiful life. This is a notion. Does the Creator’s fulfillment accord with man’s wishes, with his hopes, with his imaginings? (It does not.) In what way, then, does the Creator act? Regardless of who you are, and regardless of what you have planned, how perfect and honorable your imaginings are, or to what extent they match the reality of your life, God does not look at any of these things, nor does He pay attention to them; rather, things are accomplished, orchestrated, and arranged according to God’s ordained methods and laws. This is God’s righteous disposition. Some people think, “After the countless hardships I’ve experienced in my life, aren’t I entitled to a good life? When I come before the Creator, won’t I be qualified to request and aspire toward a beautiful life and a beautiful destination?” Is this not a human notion? What are such notions and human-engendered thoughts to God? They are unreasonable demands. How do such unreasonable demands come about? (People do not know God’s authority.) This is the objective reason. What is the subjective reason? It is that they have a rebellious disposition, and that they are unwilling to seek the truth or to submit to the Creator’s sovereignty or arrangements. Is the life the Creator arranges for the majority of people one of hardship, or is it happy and carefree? (One of hardship.) The majority of people live lives of hardship, with too many difficulties and too much pain. What is the Creator’s purpose in arranging hardships for people during their whole life? What is the significance of this? In one sense, such arrangements are meant to allow people to experience and know God’s sovereignty, arrangements, and authority; in another sense, His primary purpose is to let people experience what life really is, and thereby to realize that man’s destiny is controlled in God’s hand, and is neither decided by any person nor changed in the wake of changes in people’s subjective will. Whatever the Creator does and whatever sort of life or fate He has arranged for people, He makes them reflect on life and on what man’s destiny really is, and, as they reflect on all these things, He makes them come before God. When God expresses the truth and tells people what all this is, He makes people come before Him, accept what God says, experience what God says, understand what the relationship really is between all God says and all the things people experience in their real lives. He lets people verify the practicality, accuracy, and validity of these truths, after which they gain them and acknowledge that man is controlled in the hand of the Creator, and that man’s destiny is ruled and arranged by God. Once people have understood all this, they will no longer have any impractical plans for their life, and they will not have plans that go against the wishes of the Creator nor what He has ordained and arranged; rather, they will have an increasingly accurate assessment and understanding, or a comprehension and plan, of how their life should be lived and the road they should take. This is the purpose and significance of the many hardships that the Creator arranges in people’s lives.
Returning to the story, after the protagonist experienced many hardships, what was her understanding of why she had suffered hardships and pain in this life, and of why the Creator orchestrated and arranged things this way? Can you see that from the story? Did she gain an understanding of these things? (No.) Why did she not gain it? (Because at every stage of her life, and at every turning point in her life, when her wishes were shattered again and again, she did not reflect or draw a conclusion as to why her lifelong dream could never come true. If she could have reflected and sought the truth, she would have changed. However, she didn’t understand the sovereignty of the Creator, and could only resolutely persist with her dream and hope that one day her destiny would suddenly change, which was impossible. During this process, she was constantly resisting and struggling, hence her immense anguish.) That’s how it was. Because she chose a wrong path, but she didn’t know it. She regarded it as a correct path, as her legitimate pursuit and legitimate wish, and then worked hard, fought, and struggled in that direction. She never doubted whether her wish was realistic or not, nor did she doubt the correctness of it. Instead, she stubbornly pursued this direction, never changing or turning around. What, then, was God’s purpose in giving her so much hardship in life? It was not by accident that God did all this. In any person’s life, God arranges some exceptional experiences and some painful experiences for them. In fact, the Creator is using this method and these facts to tell you not to go on like this, and that this path leads nowhere, and that it is not the path you should take. What do you see in this, intangibly? This is God choosing a path for people, and it is also God’s way of talking to people, and His way of saving people, and of getting people to emerge from their wrong notions and stubborn ways. This is also God’s way of telling you: The path you chose is a quagmire, a pit of fire, a road of no return, and you must not walk down it. If you keep on going this way, you will continue to suffer. This is not the correct path in life, it is not the path you should take, and it is not the path that God has preordained for you. If you are a smart person, then after experiencing hardship, you will reflect: “Why did I experience such hardship? Why did I hit a wall? Is this path not suitable for me? So, what path should I walk and what direction should I take in life?” While you are reflecting, God will give you some inspiration and guidance, or point out the right direction in which you should take your next step. God is constantly guiding you, so that you can more practically and accurately grasp the path ahead which He has planned for you in real life. Did the protagonist in the story I just told you do this? (No, she never reflected.) What kind of disposition did she have? (Intransigence.) Intransigence—this is so troublesome. From when she was a child to when she was a gray-haired old woman, her wish of having someone to rely on never changed. Whether before she had heard God’s gospel and gained insights into how the Creator created the heavens and earth and all things, or when God’s gospel came to her and God told her the truth of all this, her wish never changed from start to finish—this is the most lamentable aspect. People have thoughts and ideas. What was God’s purpose in creating all this for people? It was for people to perceive and comprehend the people, events, things, and environments that God arranges for them. As a normal person possessed of reason and conscience, every created human being will understand the Creator’s intention more or less and to a varying degree of depth when they experience and appreciate with their heart all these things that God has orchestrated. This is one way in which God works that is particularly practical and real. But because people are too arrogant and intransigent, and cannot easily accept the truth, it is difficult for them to grasp the Creator’s will. How is people’s intransigence manifested? No matter what God says or does, people still cling onto their own things. Their mentality is: “I want to plan my life. I have ideas, I have a brain, I’m educated, and I can be in control of my life. I can see the source of everything in my life, and I can completely orchestrate all of this, so I can plan my own happiness, my own future, and my own prospects.” When they hit a wall, they say, “I failed this time, I’ll try again next time.” They believe that this is how people should live, and that if a person doesn’t have a competitive spirit, they will be extremely useless and feeble in life. What is at the root of their persistence? What’s the reason for it? It is because they believe that they must absolutely be a strong person rather than a weak person, and that they must not be beaten down by life, much less be looked down upon by others, and that people should be independent and competitive, and possessed of resolve, and be held in high esteem by others. These dispositions, these ideas, and these thoughts dominate their behavior, so that each time they face the difficulties, predicaments, or pain that God orchestrates for them, they choose the same way as before: that of persisting with their own thoughts, not turning around, and absolutely persisting to the end with whatever they think is good, right, and beneficial for themselves, and being a competitive person. It is precisely this intransigent disposition that leads them to make many ignorant and impractical judgments, and gives rise to many impractical understandings and experiences.
I talked just now about one aspect of people’s dispositions—intransigence. Because of people’s intransigence, when they face the painful circumstances and predicaments that the Creator puts them in, their attitude is not to submit, but rather, to hold fast to whatever benefits them and to not abandon it. How does God deal with such behavior? God’s work is independent of people’s will, so how does God deal with people’s actions like this? God will definitely not say, “You failed this time, so you are doomed. People like you are no good and I don’t want you anymore.” God has not given up on people. He keeps using the same way, arranging different environments and different people, events, and things, so that people can experience the same pain and face the same predicaments. What is the purpose of this? (It makes people come to their senses.) It makes people reflect, come to their senses, and abandon their stubborn views. Time and time again, God uses His own unique methods to converse with humans in this way, and to interact with humans in this way. Ultimately, what is the result that God wants to achieve through this method of working? God guides people by making them go through different predicaments, anguish, and even illnesses and family misfortunes throughout their lives. The purpose of making people experience this suffering is to get them to constantly reflect and understand in their soul, and to verify deep down: “Is this the Creator’s arrangement? How should I walk my future path? Should I change direction? Should I seek the way of truth? Should I change the way I live?” God makes people experience all kinds of pain, tribulations, misfortunes, and predicaments, so that afterward they receive confirmation deep in their hearts that there is a Sovereign who rules over people’s destiny, and that people cannot be willful, arrogant, or stubborn, but must learn to submit—submit to environments, submit to destiny, and submit to everything that happens around them. Before you hear God’s clear words, God uses these ways and facts to make you experience all sorts of environments, people, events, and things, and to make you constantly confirm deep in your heart that people’s destiny is arranged by God, that no person holds sovereignty over it, and that people cannot hold sovereignty over their own destiny. You constantly have this kind of understanding or voice deep in your heart, and you constantly confirm that everything you experience is not caused by any one person, nor does it happen by chance, nor is it caused by objective reasons or circumstances, but it is God who invisibly holds sovereignty over everything. It is not by coincidence that a person meets another person and something happens, or that they encounter an environment that changes their life. It is not by coincidence that a person is afflicted by disease and afterward obtains great blessings. This is God telling each person in this unique way: God holds sovereignty over people’s destiny, God is watching over and guiding people every day, and guiding everyone through each day and throughout their life. In addition to letting people know that He holds sovereignty over the destiny of humankind, over everything to do with people’s lives, over the destination of humankind, and over absolutely everything to do with humankind, what else does God want to accomplish? It is to make some impractical notions, imaginings, and demands that people have toward God the Creator gradually fade, disappear, and be cast off, and then for people to gradually reach the point where they can clearly recognize and understand the ways in which the Creator guides humankind and the ways in which the Creator arranges the destiny of people’s whole life. From these things, people can then see that God has a disposition and that God is vivid and lifelike. He is not a clay statue, nor a robot, nor is He an inanimate creature imagined by people, but rather, He has life and dispositions. In one sense, this makes people understand the ways in which the Creator works and makes people let go of all sorts of notions, imaginings, and some empty reasoning and logic that do not conform to reality. In short, it makes people let go of all empty notions and imaginings regarding God’s work. In another sense, once they let go of these notions and imaginings, people can accept and submit to God’s work and His sovereignty. This is a small result in one sense, but in another sense there is a result that you have not seen, and it is the one that is the biggest and the most profound. What is this result? It is that God uses these ways to tell people that everything He does and accomplishes on people, He does in a particularly practical and real state. Once people understand this, they will cast off some empty and illusory things, actually obey and submit to the Creator’s arrangements, and then actually face everything arranged by the Creator in real life, instead of using some empty theories or religious concepts or theological knowledge to imagine the Creator, or to deal with some things in life. This is the outcome that God wants to see, and what He wants to achieve in people. Therefore, in the first stage, before you hear the Creator’s voice and understand the Creator’s clear words about various truths, the way God works on people is to arrange various environments for you to experience and be exposed to. When you have some confirmation, and when you have some feelings about these things deep in your heart, and are moved by them and comprehend them, God will tell you in clear words what life is about, what God is about, how humans came to be, and what kind of path people should take. In this way, based on the belief that humans come from God and were created by God, and the belief that there is a Sovereign among the heavens and earth and all things, people then take the path of faith in God, and subsequently come to accept God’s judgment and chastisement, and accept God’s salvation and perfection—the effectiveness of this is even better. Now, who are all the people who accept God’s work of the last days? At the very least, they acknowledge the existence of God and believe that the entire universe world is subject to God’s sovereignty. They also believe in destiny and that human life is preordained by God, and furthermore, they believe in the existence of the spiritual world and the existence of heaven and hell, and that people’s destiny is predetermined. From among these people, God has selected His chosen people, who love the truth and who can accept the truth. They can understand God’s voice and accept God’s work. This is one way and one principle by which God works.
We talked just now about how God works on people, and about the ways in which God works. We touched on these things alone, without saying anything about what people’s notions are or what demands people place on God. Let’s fellowship now on the issues in this regard. Since we mentioned in this fellowship that people have some empty and vague ideas and understandings about God’s work, let’s find some examples to prove this, and talk a little bit about both positive and negative examples. On this foundation, won’t people then be able to understand which imaginings are fairly hollow and quite vague, and are notions about God’s work? Starting with the story I told you earlier, the protagonist of the story went through a number of painful experiences in life. After each painful experience, God continued, using His own methods, to arrange and orchestrate her destiny and guide her on the road ahead. Although she didn’t understand, didn’t know, and didn’t reflect, God still did this, just as He had always done. At this stage, did she display some thoughts about this way in which the Creator works? Could those thoughts be said to be a sort of notion? What exactly are these thoughts and this kind of notion? First of all, in terms of the protagonist herself, she had one wish. She didn’t expect to be rich or wealthy in life, she only wanted someone to rely on. Through dissection and analysis, we can see that this wish was wrong. In one sense, it was contrary to the destiny that God orchestrates and arranges for people, and in another sense, it wasn’t practical either. So has God provided a definition or a statement about this wish of hers? According to people’s imaginings, it would be very easy for God to make a person understand a little bit of doctrine, wouldn’t it? If He wanted to make them understand, wouldn’t they just understand? This woman had a desire to have someone to rely on—God could make her not have that desire, or make her change that desire—did God do that? (No.) No, God didn’t do that. Was her desire a sort of notion? Was it supernatural? Was it hollow? It is a natural phenomenon for such thoughts to arise in people. Why do I say that it’s a natural phenomenon? God made man with free will. Man has a brain, thoughts, and ideas. After being corrupted by Satan, man became immersed in the sounds and sights of the world, and, after being educated by parents, conditioned by families, and educated by society, many things arise in man’s thoughts—things that are born of man’s heart, which all come forth naturally. How are these things that come forth naturally within man formed? Firstly, a person must have the ability to give thought to problems—this is the foundation one must have to be able to give rise to these things. Then, through environmental conditioning—such as being educated by one’s family and society—as well as being impelled by one’s own corrupt dispositions and ambitions and desires, these thoughts gradually take shape. When it comes to such formed thoughts and ideas, regardless of whether they accord with reality or are hollow, or however else they may be, we will not pass a verdict on them now. Instead, we will just speak about how God handles thoughts of this kind. Does God condemn them? God does not condemn them. So how does He approach them? He does not remove such thoughts from people. People harbor a notion and imagining, they think that with a gentle touch of God’s great, formless hand, their thinking will be changed. Is this notion not vague, supernatural, and hollow? (It is.) This is a notion people have of how God works. In the depths of their hearts, people often have fantasies of God’s work and the methods of His work, though they do not give voice to them. People imagine the Creator coming softly next to man and, with a wave of His great hand and a puff of breath or with the rotation of a thought, the negative things inside man will disappear in an instant, with the wordless silence of a great wind blowing away a cloud. How does God treat these ideas of man, these things to which man’s mind gives rise? God does not resolve them with supernatural, hollow methods, but by laying out man’s environment. What sort of environment does He lay out? It is not hollow—God does not do anything supernatural, breaking all the laws. Rather, He lays out an environment that compels a person to understand the matter and to reflect unceasingly, after which God makes use of all manner of people, events, and things to light that person’s way, whereupon that person comes to an understanding. God does not change their destiny; He just adds a few incidents to the course of their destiny, thereby enabling them to understand these things. Man’s notions are all supernatural, hollow, vague, discordant with reality—they are divorced from reality. Say, for instance, someone is hungry and would like to eat. There are those who would say, “God is omnipotent, all He’d have to do would be to breathe on me and I’d be full. Do I really need to cook? It would be great if God could perform a little miracle so that I didn’t feel hungry.” Is this not unrealistic? (It is.) If you told God you were hungry, what would God say? God would tell you to find some food and cook it. If you said you had no food and could not cook, what would God do? He would tell you to learn to cook. This is the practical side of God’s work. When you encounter something obscure to you, and you no longer give hollow prayers or rely vaguely on God in a self-assured way, or consign your hopes upon these notions and imaginings you have about God, you will then know what it is you should do—you will know your duty, your responsibility, and your obligation.
I just talked about one aspect, which is that when people don’t understand the environments that God lays out, what does God do? God continues to lay out environments. He does this so that people keep on understanding the Creator’s sovereignty, and understanding what their destiny is through the experience of life, and so that people know deep down that their wishes are distinct from their destiny, and distinct from the Creator’s arrangements. He does it so that people will then learn to gradually let go of their own wishes and submit to everything the Creator orchestrates. This is fairly easy to understand. Another aspect is that when God’s clear words come to people, they form some more notions and imaginings. What notions? “God’s words are the bread of life and the truth. God’s words are God Himself. When I hear God’s words, no matter how stupid I am, I immediately become intelligent. As long as I read more of God’s words, my caliber will improve and my skills will increase.” What are these thoughts that people have? They are their notions. So, is this how God works? (No.) Since these are man’s notions, they are definitely at odds with God’s work and in opposition with it. Herein lies a fact. God speaks with man face-to-face and tells him what he should and should not do, what road he should take, how he should obey God, and the principles he should enter into within the various aspects of the work. God clearly tells man all these things, yet man often still waits and anticipates that God will tell him what His intention really is by means other than His words, hoping to be able to attain previously unimaginable results and hoping to witness miracles. Is this not man’s notion? (It is.) What does God do, in fact? (God lays out practical environments for people to go through and experience God’s words.) What does God do if people still don’t understand His will after He lays out those practical environments for them? (He enlightens and guides people.) What should you do if He doesn’t enlighten and guide you? (Practice according to God’s words and do as God says.) That’s right. From the time that God began His work until the present, how many words has God spoken to people face-to-face? There are so many that even if you spent several years reading them, you still wouldn’t get to the end. But how many words do people gain? If a person gains too few of them, what does that prove? It proves that the person has not put enough effort into God’s words and has not listened to them. There are some who say, “I listened”—but did you take God’s words in? Did you understand them? Did you focus on them? You didn’t focus on them, so God’s words have already flowed right past you. Therefore, when God uses clear language to tell man how to act, how to live, how to obey Him, and how to experience every event, if man still does not understand, God does nothing more beside laying out environments for him, giving man some special enlightenment, or having man undergo some special experiences. That is the end of what God can, should, and is willing to do. There are those who ask, “Doesn’t God want every person to be saved and not want anyone to suffer perdition? If God used such a method to act, how many people would be able to be saved?” In response, God would ask, “How many people heed My words and walk in My way?” There are as many as there are—this is God’s view and the method of His work. God does no more. What is man’s notion of this matter? “God takes pity on this mankind, He’s concerned for this mankind, so He’s got to take responsibility unto the end. If man follows Him unto the end, he’ll inevitably be saved.” Is this notion right or wrong? Does it accord with God’s will? In the Age of Grace, it was normal for people to have these notions, because they did not know God. In the last days, God has told people all these truths, and God has also made clear to them the principles of His work of saving people, so it is very preposterous if people still have these notions in their hearts. God has told you all these truths, so if, in the end, you still say that you don’t understand God’s will and don’t know how to practice, and you still say such rebellious and treacherous words, can such a person be saved by God? There are some who always think, “God does such great work, He should gain more than half of the people in the world, and use a great force of many people with lots of high-class personages to bear witness to God’s glorification. How wonderful that would be!” This is man’s notion. In the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, how many were there, in total, who were saved and made perfect? Who was able to fear God and shun evil in the end? (Job and Peter.) They were the only two. As God sees it, to fear Him and shun evil is, in fact, to meet the standard of knowing Him, of knowing the Creator. People like Abraham and Noah were righteous in God’s eyes, but they were still a level beneath Job and Peter. Of course, God did not do so much work then. He did not provide for people as He does now, nor did He speak so many clear words, nor did He do the work of salvation on such a large scale. He may not have gained many people, but this is still within His preordination. What aspect of the Creator’s disposition can be seen in this? God hopes to gain many people, but if many people cannot, in fact, be gained—if this humanity cannot be gained by God while He does His work of salvation—then God would rather abandon them and discard them. This is the inner voice and view of the Creator. In this regard, what demands or notions does man have of God? “Since You wish to save me, You must be responsible unto the end, and You promised me blessings, so You must give them to me and let me gain them.” Within man, there is many a “must”—many demands—and this is one of his notions. Others say, “God does such great work—a six-thousand-year management plan—if, in the end, He only gains two people, that would be such a shame. Wouldn’t His actions be in vain then?” Man thinks it ought not to be so, but God is happy to gain even two people. God’s real purpose is not merely to gain those two, but to gain more than that, but if people do not wake up and understand, and they all misunderstand and resist God, and are all hopeless and worthless, then God would rather not have them. That is God’s disposition. Some people say, “That won’t do. Wouldn’t Satan be laughing then?” Satan may be laughing, but is it not God’s vanquished enemy all the same? God has still gained mankind—several among them who can forsake Satan and not suffer its control. God has gained true created beings. Are those who have not been gained by God then taken captive by Satan? You have not been made perfect—are you capable of following Satan? (No.) Some people say: “Even if God doesn’t want me, I still won’t follow Satan. Even if it offered me blessings, I wouldn’t take them.” None of those whom God has not gained follow Satan—does God not thus gain glory? People have a notion about the number of people God gains or the scale with which He gains them; they believe God should not gain only those few. That man can give rise to such a notion is because, in one regard, man cannot fathom the mind of God and cannot understand what sort of person He wants to gain—there is always a distance between man and God; in another regard, to have such a notion is a way for man to comfort himself and set himself free so far as his own destiny and future are concerned. Man believes, “God has gained so few people—how glorious it would be for Him to gain us all! If God didn’t discard a single person, but conquered everyone, and everyone was made perfect in the end, and the talk of God’s choosing and saving people didn’t come to naught, nor did His work of management, then wouldn’t Satan be humiliated all the more? Wouldn’t God gain greater glory?” That he can say this is partly because he does not know the Creator and partly because he has his own selfish motive: He is worried about his future, so he hitches it to the Creator’s glory, and thus his heart feels at ease, thinking that he can have his cake and eat it too. In addition, he also feels that “God gaining people and humiliating Satan is strong evidence of Satan’s defeat. It’s killing three birds with one stone!” People are really good at working out how to benefit themselves. This notion is quite clever, isn’t it? People have selfish motives, and is there not something of rebelliousness in these motives? Is there not a demand made of God? There is within it an unvoiced resistance against God that says, “You have chosen us, led us, labored so much on us, bestowed Your life and Your entirety upon us, bestowed Your words and truth upon us, and had us follow You all these years. What a loss it would be if You couldn’t gain us in the end.” Such an excuse is an attempt to blackmail God, to obligate Him to gain them. It’s saying that if God doesn’t gain them, then they won’t be losing out, and that it’s God who will suffer a loss—is this statement correct? Within this, there are both man’s demands, and his imaginings and notions: God does such great work, so He must gain however many people. Where does this “must” come from? It comes from man’s notions and imaginings, his unreasonable demands, and his vanity, along with some admixture of his intransigent and ferocious disposition.
Such notions of man must be fellowshiped on from another perspective. There are some who think, “Since the Creator doesn’t care how many people He gains, and thinks that He will just gain as many people as He gains, since this is the Creator’s attitude, how should we cooperate with Him? Is it okay to just believe casually and not take it so seriously? In any case, God doesn’t take it seriously either, so we don’t need to be so serious in catering to God’s requirements, nor do we need to regard it as our primary occupation, or as our lifelong pursuit. Now that we know God’s thoughts, shouldn’t we change our way of living?” Is this view right or wrong? (It’s wrong.) Since God’s attitude has been made clear to people, and they understand it, they should let go of their notions. After letting go of their notions, what should people do and how should they choose, and how should they understand and deal with this matter so that they have the view and attitude that they ought most to hold? First of all, in terms of their views, people should try to ponder over them. Once one believes in God, they have a vague imagining of reverence and esteem for Him. They think that “God is almighty, omnipotent, and, since He has chosen a group of people from among this corrupt humanity, He will certainly be able to make them complete. We, therefore, are bound to be blessed, as a matter of certainty.” Does such “certainty” not have a mentality of trying one’s luck behind it? To wish to gain blessings and God’s approval without pursuing the truth or undergoing God’s judgment and chastisement is the attitude man ought least to hold. Do not adopt a mentality of trying your luck—luck is the great enemy. What sort of mindset is trying one’s luck? Which of your states, thoughts, ideas, attitudes, notions, and views have a mentality of trying your luck behind them? Can you detect this? If you do detect this and see the existence of a mindset of trying your luck to gain blessings, how should you go about changing it? How should you resolve it? These are practical issues. You must see through the mentality of trying your luck. You must resolve it. If you don’t resolve it, it will be likely to trip you up and you will suffer. So, what things involve a mentality of trying one’s luck? There are some who think, “I believe in God and have even left my family and quit my job. No matter what, even if I haven’t rendered a meritorious service, I’ve worked hard, and even if I haven’t worked hard, I’ve tired myself out, so as long as I follow God to the end, I might become one of the overcomers, one of the saved, one of the blessed, one of the people of God’s kingdom.” This is a mentality of trying one’s luck. Doesn’t everyone have this mentality? At the very least, the majority of those who leave everything behind to follow God and perform their duties full-time have this sort of mentality. Is a mentality of trying one’s luck not a sort of notion? (It is.) Why do I say it is a sort of notion? Because, when you have not understood or comprehended the intention and the attitude the Lord of creation has toward this matter, you just subjectively expect a good outcome and subjectively pursue, and that is how you approach it. It is a sort of notion. To the Lord of creation, is such a notion not a kind of blackmail? Is it not an unreasonable demand? It is as if to say, “Since I’ve followed You, and since I’ve left everything behind and come to God’s house to perform my duty full-time, I must count as someone who has submitted to the arrangements of the Lord of creation, right? So, can I have a promising future now? My future shouldn’t be obscure—it should be plain to see.” This is a mindset of trying one’s luck. How is such a mindset resolved? One must know God’s disposition. Now that I have fellowshiped like this, everyone should fundamentally understand this: “So that’s what God thinks. That’s God’s view and His attitude. So, what should we do?” People should put aside their mentality of trying their luck. To put aside this mentality, is it enough to say, “I’ve put it aside and won’t have such thoughts anymore. I’ll treat my duty seriously, take responsibility, and work harder”? It is not so simple—when one develops a mentality of trying their luck, there emerge in them some thoughts and practices, and, more than that, some dispositions will be revealed. These things should be resolved by seeking the truth. Some say, “If I’ve understood God’s will and attitude, aren’t I rid of the mentality of trying my luck?” What sort of talk is that? It is ignorant of spiritual matters; it is hollow talk. How, then, is this problem resolved? You must consider, “What should I do if God takes everything away from me? Is everything I devote to God and expend for Him given willingly, or are they attempts to barter with Him? If I have an intention to barter with Him, then that’s not good. I’ll have to pray to God and seek the truth to resolve that.” In addition, as you practice and as you perform your duty, you should understand which truth principles you do not understand, what you do that goes against God’s requirements and His will, what sort of path is the wrong one and the path of disaster, and what sort of path is the one that can meet with God’s approval. What other things involve a mindset of trying one’s luck? There are people who, having come down with a serious illness, are saved by God and are ill no longer. They think, “All of you believe in God to chase after blessings. I’m different. It was God’s great love that brought me here; He gave me special circumstances and special experiences that led me to believe in Him, so He loves me more than He loves you, He treats me with particular grace and, in the end, I will have a greater chance to survive than you.” They think they have an extraordinary, special relationship with God—that their relationship with Him is different from those of ordinary people. Because of their special experience, they feel themselves to be extraordinary and uncommon, and they therefore maintain a kind of certainty that they will succeed. They define themselves as assuredly different from others, and are assured of their ability to survive—this, too, is a mentality of trying one’s luck. There are others who have taken on some important work and whose status is high. They suffer a bit more than others, are pruned and dealt with a bit more than others, keep themselves a bit busier than others, and speak a bit more than others. They think, “I’ve been put in an important position by God and by His house and I am in favor with my brothers and sisters. What an honor this is. Doesn’t this mean I’ll be blessed before others?” This, too, is a mentality of trying one’s luck, and it is a kind of notion.
I have just talked about some practical manifestations and states of trying one’s luck. What other states, manifestations, or things that often arise and habitually exist in people’s minds belong to trying one’s luck? Besides those who have special experiences, high status, and who have left everything behind to expend themselves for God full-time, there are also those who are qualified, perform some special duties, and have some special talents—these people all have a mindset of trying their luck. What does “qualified” refer to? For example, some who preach the gospel believe that if they win over 10 people, they will have borne 10 fruits and have a 10 percent chance of being blessed, and that if they bear 50 fruits they will have a 50 percent chance, and if they bear 100 fruits then they will have a 100 percent chance. This is a sort of notion, a kind of bartering, and above all, it is trying one’s luck. If they can measure God’s work while holding onto these notions and this mentality of trying their luck, is this believing in God? What path are they taking? Is there not something wrong with their pursuit? Why do these things arise in them? Why do they hold onto them and refuse to let go? Some say that it is because they don’t know God. Is this right? This is empty talk. So what exactly is the reason? The people who always hold onto such views and attitudes, and who have these notions and are particularly stubborn in clinging onto them—are they seriously putting effort into God’s words? (No.) They always have a perfunctory attitude toward God’s words, that is, the attitude and view of someone who is looking through a haze. They think that in their belief in God, they only need to know how much they have suffered for God and how much of a price they have paid, how much merit they have earned, what special talents they have, how skilled they are, how high their status is, what kind of “moments of companionship in adversity” they have experienced with God, what special experiences they have had, and what special things God has given them, or what grace and blessings He has given to them that are different from what has been given to other people—they think this is enough. No matter how tightly they cling onto these views, they have never reflected on whether these views of theirs are correct, or which of God’s words and which principles of His work these views conflict with, or whether these views have been validated by God, or whether God works this way, or accomplishes things this way. They have never cared about these issues. Up until now, they have only pondered, ruminated, and dreamed in their own minds. So what has the truth become to them? It has become a decoration. Although these people believe in God, their belief has nothing to do with God or with the truth. So what does their belief have to do with? It has only to do with notions, imaginings, and their own desires, as well as their future blessings and destinations. They haven’t put effort into the truth, so they end up with these results.
Through today’s fellowship, now that you have gained some understanding of God’s way of working or God’s views and attitude, can this have some effect and achieve some results when it comes to your pursuit of knowing God, your pursuit of the truth, and your pursuit of life entry? Can it turn your wrong views around, so that you let go of your own notions? (Yes.) What does this require people to do? (To let go of their notions and act according to the standards required by God.) You must understand that since God has made such requirements and determinations, He will definitely bring them to pass. In the end, the fact is that God’s words will not come to naught—they will all be accomplished and fulfilled. If you think that God may not necessarily carry out the things He talks of, this is man’s notion and imagining, and it is also doubting and judging God. There are some who say, “How could God do that? How could He be content with just saving as many people as He saves? Is God’s love not great and infinite? God’s patience is infinite, and God’s tolerance and mercy are also infinite.” They make all kinds of excuses for not pursuing the truth, they leave themselves a convenient way out so that they can tread their own path, and they ignore God’s words and work, and the appearance of the Creator. They know full well in their hearts that it is the truth, and yet they hope that it were not so. There is an element of disbelief in what they do, as well as an element of competing against the Creator, and conflicting with and blackmailing the Creator. What is the purpose of Me saying these words? There are some who say, “This is to give us a wake-up call, to frighten us, or to make us understand that those who wish to back away can just back away, that those who become weak or negative can just stay weak or negative, and that those who wish to live their own lives can just live their own lives. God’s work won’t take very long, and besides, God doesn’t need that many people, so let’s just go our separate ways!” Is this how things are? (No.) No matter what God says, or how He says it, what God makes people understand is His will and what He makes them comprehend is the truth. So what path should people follow? They should walk in God’s way. What should people reflect on and seek to resolve? All notions, imaginings and demands that are antagonistic toward God. These things are all contrary to the truth. You must give up these things, you must dispel these things from your heart, and you must no longer be affected or controlled by them. You must be able to truly come before God and accept the judgment, chastisement, pruning, and dealing of God’s words, you must be cleansed of your corrupt dispositions, and achieve submission to God’s orchestration and arrangements. In addition, you must constantly reflect on the things in yourself that are incompatible with God and contrary to the truth, and reflect on your corrupt dispositions, your incorrect views on various matters, and man’s different notions and imaginings. Once you reflect on and understand these things clearly, and seek the truth to resolve them once and for all, you will have embarked upon the right track of faith in God, and only then will you be able to obey God and submit to His orchestration and arrangements.
We haven’t yet finished dissecting the final part of the story “Who Do I Rely On?” that we just talked about. Once a person starts believing in God, they come before God to pray, seek God’s will, accept God’s enlightenment and illumination, accept God’s guidance, and listen to every word uttered from God’s own mouth. During this period, God uses clear words to tell people His will and everything they need to understand. God does not want you to understand doctrines and words, nor does He want you to learn theology. God does not use these words in order to educate you to be a well-behaved person, or a good person, or someone with aspirations and ambitions—God does not want you to be such a person. God wants to use His words to make you understand where people come from, how they should live, and what kind of way they should follow. However, after hearing these words, people think nothing of them, and still hold fast to their own views, and to their own wishes, and even hold fast to their own principles of comportment. For example, some people say: “I was born wanting to be a good person, and I don’t think I’m too far away from being a good person. I don’t do any bad things, I don’t harm or cheat people or take advantage of them, and I’ve become an even better person since I started believing in God. I always tell the truth, I deal with others in a genuine manner, and I obey God and the church’s arrangements when performing my duty—is that not enough?” Do many people have this kind of thinking? Can believers actually meet God’s requirements by relying on this way of thinking? There are many truths that God requires people to understand, and many lessons to be learned. In particular, truths regarding visions are truths that those who believe in God must possess and things that lay a foundation. If they do not even understand these truths, can they achieve salvation? If they only rely on imaginings and feel good about themselves, and do not pursue the truth, are they still qualified to accept God’s judgment and chastisement or His trials and refinement? Can they obtain God’s cleansing and be made perfect by Him? (No.) They surely cannot. The number of people in the church who do not pursue the truth may be more than half, or even more. When you consider this situation, would you think like this: “God has said so much, but people still don’t understand, so why doesn’t God enlighten these ignorant and foolish people? Why doesn’t God say something more, do some more work, and put more effort into them? Why doesn’t the Holy Spirit move them and discipline them so that these ignorant people are no longer ignorant, and the foolish people are no longer foolish? Why doesn’t God do this?” This is wrong. Has God not said enough? Many people say that God says too much, that He speaks in too much detail, and even that He is too repetitive. So, does anyone know why God must speak this way? It’s because people are too intransigent and rebellious, never accepting God’s words and not putting effort into the truth—God won’t force this kind of people. If people don’t accept God’s words, how does God treat them? God never does anything by force, this is the way He works. God has already said so many words that people can’t even read them all, so how can He force people? Why don’t people understand God’s painstaking intentions? The protagonist in the story, who experienced a lifetime of pain, also read God’s words and listened to His sermons, and even spent all her time performing her duty in the church, but in the end, she didn’t understand who exactly she could rely on, or how her wish came about and whether it could come true or not—there must be a problem in that case. In fact, from God’s point of view this is a very simple problem. You just need to change direction and move toward the direction God has given you and the path God has told you, and believe, accept, submit, and practice in a steadfast manner, without any doubts or misgivings. But people cannot do it. They hold on tightly to their own notions, imaginings and hopes, and the delusions concealed within their hearts. They even regard these things as their last straw to clutch at, or even worse, as the foundation on which they rely for their existence, putting aside God’s words and the direction God has given them and ignoring them. So how does God deal with this? If you do not recognize and accept the good things given to you, God takes them away. What has a person gained once these things are taken away? Nothing. Therefore, deep in her heart, this protagonist no longer knew the answers to the questions, “Is God really the One I can rely on? Who can I actually rely on? Who can I rely on to survive, to gain blessings, and to gain my future destination?” She had already become increasingly confused about these questions. In the end, what was the regret that remained deep in her heart? That she had no one to rely on, no one to trust. How tragic and miserable her life was! She was confused about what the significance of the Creator’s arrangements for people in this life is, she didn’t know. After she had gone through life this way, and had reached old age and still could not understand it all, or come to an accurate conclusion, or come up with an accurate direction and goal in life—when she could not gain any of this, what did God do about it? He drew a line under this person’s life. God had already done all that could have been done. God had arranged environments, enlightened and guided her, and even given her the motivation to carry on living when she was most in pain or when she faced desperate situations. God had enabled her to live to this point with the utmost love and support. And for what purpose? To make her turn herself around. What is the purpose of turning oneself around? To understand that there is no one you can rely on, and that you mustn’t rely on anyone, and that you mustn’t try to create a happy life on your own, and that you mustn’t give rise to any wishes, and that, except for the Creator, no one can orchestrate or wield control over your destiny, not even yourself. What is the choice that you should make? Come before the Creator without any words of complaints or prerequisites, listen to what He says, and follow His way. Whether it be pain or illness, this is all part of human life that must be experienced. When a line is about to be drawn under a person’s life and they don’t understand all of this, what else does God do? He no longer does anything, which also signifies that God has given up on them. Why does God no longer do anything? Because the person has always lived in their own notions, and lived in their own desires and persistence, and they have treated everything God has orchestrated with an intransigent, stubborn attitude, and a self-righteous, competitive attitude. Therefore, when a person’s life is about to end and they have passed step by step through these environments or processes that God has laid down, but their knowledge of the Creator has not changed at all, and they have no understanding whatsoever of the destiny of human life, then it is self-evident what their life amounts to, and the Creator will no longer interfere or do anything. This is the way in which God works.
What notions and imaginings arise in people as a result of God’s way of working? When some people see God casting out others, notions arise in them and they say: “This person has experienced so much pain in their life, doesn’t the Creator take pity on them?” What does taking pity represent? (The giving of grace.) Can the giving of grace determine the person’s destiny? Can it change their destiny? Can it change their views? (No.) Therefore, no matter how many blessings, graces, and material pleasures the Creator bestows on a person, if these things cannot induce or help that person to understand God’s will, or to take the right path in life, and ultimately to take the path that God points out to people, and to understand what all the things that people experience in their life are, then all the work God has done on them will be in vain, and clearly a line will be drawn under the period of life in which that person believed in God. What notions tend to arise in people? “God is tolerant and patient, and His love is powerful and vast. Why can’t He love such a person?” How is God’s love manifested? Does God truly love that person or not? Has God’s love produced any results in that person? When there are no results, how is God’s love manifested? How is God’s disposition manifested? How does God go about His work? In fact, before God does anything, He has already chosen that person, worked on them, and put thought into preordaining their whole life and orchestrating it according to His way. God’s will is behind all of this. Is this not God’s love? (Yes.) This already is God’s love. As that person goes through each process in their life, God shows them mercy and care, protects them, gives them motivation, and lays down some environments, constantly protecting them in completing their mission in this life. During this process, no matter how persistent, stubborn, arrogant, or intransigent they are, God continually helps them to smoothly pass through their life according to God’s way, with the Creator’s love and magnanimity, and God’s responsibility. No matter how many perils and temptations they encounter in their life, or even how many times they feel desperate and want to commit suicide, God guides them through this life according to His way. Without God’s guidance, their life would surely not pass smoothly, because they would be beset by all kinds of enticement, temptation, or peril. So, this is all God’s love. In their notions, people think that God’s love should be free of such pain, tribulations, and such things that are contrary to their feelings. In fact, God is constantly bestowing mercy, grace, and blessings on people in a loving and tolerant way. In the end, He also expresses the truth with great patience and love, so that people understand the truth and gain life. He uses various methods to achieve results, guiding people step by step so that they understand human life and know how to live meaningfully. What is God’s purpose in doing His work this way? Speaking on a shallower level, His purpose is for people to be able to cast off all the pain that befalls them in life, as well as all the pain that they themselves cause; on a more profound level, God’s purpose is to make people live happily, to live out life as normal people, real people, and to live under the Creator’s guidance. However, everyone has freedom. God created free will and the faculty of thought for people. Later, people accepted many things from this world and this society, such as knowledge, traditional culture, social trends, family education, and so on. God has always loathed these things that come from Satan, and exposes them so that people know the absurdity and hypocrisy of these things, and their complete incompatibility with the truth. However, God never isolates people or keeps them away from these satanic things. Instead, He lets people experience them and discern them for what they are, and therein gain correct experiences of life and correct understanding. When the whole process is over and God has done all that He ought to do, people gain as much as they are able to gain. So in this final stage, what notions arise in people? That God has abandoned someone, which makes people feel that God is inconsiderate of their feelings. At which point, people feel that the modicum of warm hope which that person was able to place in God has been shattered, and people feel that this is somewhat cruel. When people feel this sense of cruelty, their notions are also exposed. You want to be a good person and help that person to be saved. Is this useful? That person has believed in God for so many years without pursuing the truth at all and has gained nothing. You want to pity them and help them, but can you supply them with the truth? Can you bestow life on them? You simply cannot do that, so why do you have notions about God? The work that God does is fair and reasonable to everyone. If they personally do not accept the truth and do not submit to God’s work, how can you blame God for not saving them? There are certainly quite a few notions of people here. People harbor so many notions about God’s work, such as: “Since God has done so much, why does He not fully accomplish this last stage? This doesn’t seem to be what God wants to do, nor should it be done by God. Since God has done such great work, He should let all those who believe in Him be saved. Only such an achievement would be the perfect result of God’s work. Why did God cast out this person? This contradicts God’s love and mercy for people, and people are likely to misunderstand it! Why would God do things this way? Isn’t it slightly inconsiderate of people’s feelings?” This is just the way God’s righteous disposition is. This is the righteous disposition of God. Just experience it and one day you will understand.
What we just talked about just now relates to some of people’s notions and imaginings about God’s work. Some of them are people’s imaginings, and some are people’s demands on God, that is to say, people think that God should do this and God should do that. When God’s work does not conform to your notions and conflicts with your demands or imaginings, you will feel upset and sad, and think that “You are not my God, my God would not be like You are.” If God is not your God, then who is your God? When these things are not resolved, people often live within these states and notions, and in their minds they often adopt these notions and demands to measure God’s work, to judge whether they are doing things right or wrong, and to judge the correctness of the path they are taking—this will lead to trouble. You are following a path that has nothing to do with God’s requirements, so even if you apparently follow God and apparently listen to His sermons and His words, will the final result be to attain salvation? No. Therefore, in order to attain salvation through believing in God, it is not the case that by accepting God’s work and entering into church life, you are certain to be one person within God’s management work, and one of those whom God will save and perfect, and that this means you have already been saved, or that you are sure to be saved. This is not the case. This is just human notions and imaginings, and human reasoning and judgment.
You summarize—what are the human notions involved in this story I just told you? Once you’ve summarized them, just read them out. (God, we have summarized four notions: Firstly, people feel that if they have a wish and pursuits that are reasonable and that do not go too far, God should fulfill them. Secondly, people feel that if God has paid such a great price working on them and yet they still don’t understand, God should do some supernatural work to instantly enlighten them and let them know the right path in life, rather than making them suffer so much hardship in life, and making them grope around on their own and personally experience and put themselves through things. Thirdly, people have notions about God’s righteous disposition. They feel that if God has paid such a great price working on them, ultimately there must be an end result, which is that they must be gained by God. Fourthly, behind people’s belief in God there is something of a mentality of trying one’s luck.) Are there any more? Who can tell Me? (Another notion is that since God has been working all these years and has done such a big job, He should gain some more people, and that if He gains only a few people, it is not God’s work.) That’s five notions. Are there any more? (I’ve thought of one, which is that when people have some special experiences, such as being arrested and persecuted, and in the process have some genuine interactions with God and genuine testimony, they regard it as a kind of capital and think that because they have such experiential testimony, they can win God’s approval and so their chances of survival will be higher.) (Also, people think that the greater their work and the more of a price they pay, the more they will win God’s approval and the more likely they are to be saved.) In other words, people think that the chances of them winning God’s approval are based on how much of a price they pay, and that the two must be directly proportional, rather than inversely proportional or unrelated, and that they must be linked—this is a notion. That’s seven. What else? (There is another aspect, which is that people think that if God wants them to understand the truth, He could enlighten them in order to make them understand, and that He shouldn’t test people, deprive them, or make them suffer, because God loves people, and making them suffer is not love.) This is a notion about God’s love. What other notions are there? (People think that it would be better if God gained everyone. Satan would be humiliated and God would also have gained humankind. But in fact, this is a selfish and despicable way for people to think, and it’s for their own sakes.) They have a perfect imagining of the results of God’s work. This is a notion. Besides that selfish and despicable aim of people, they believe that all of this which God does should have a beginning and an end, and that the ending must be perfect, and accord with their desires, and be in line with their imaginings, and in line with their longing for beautiful things. However, when God’s work is finished, the facts are often not in line with people’s imaginings, and the outcome of all this may not be as perfect as people imagine. Of course, people don’t want to see that there won’t be many people remaining when God’s work is finished, just as in the Age of Law, when there were few believers like Job who feared God and shunned evil. People feel that the results of God’s work should not be like this, because God is omnipotent, and this is how they define God’s omnipotence. This definition of God’s omnipotence is itself a notion, a concept of perfectionism imagined by people, and has nothing to do with what God wants to do and the principles by which God does His work. What other notions are there? (When people believe in God, they don’t reflect on the path they are walking, nor how they can cast off corruption and attain salvation. Instead, they think that God is omnipotent and that, if God says He will make people change, they will change.) God tells people how to change, but people don’t put His words into practice, and they do not change themselves, and even constantly want to save themselves trouble and want God to change them. This is a kind of hollow imagining, and a kind of notion. Are there any more? (People think that someone who has suffered a lot and hit a lot of walls in their life should have a good outcome in the end, and that God should not give up on them. In the end, when this person is not gained by God and He wants to give up on them, people will adopt the perspective of a “good person” in looking at all these things that God has done, and feel that God’s actions are too inconsiderate of their feelings and too cruel.) What is the problem here? You only described some matters and some of your perceptual understandings, without mentioning that this is a problem of notions. What is people’s main notion here? People think that God saves a person based on how pitiful they are and how much they have suffered. People think that when God finally decides the person’s outcome, He should show His compassionate heart, and His magnanimity, tolerance, love, and pity, because this person has suffered so much and their life is so pitiful. No matter whether the person understands the truth or not, and no matter how much they obey God, people think that God should not consider those things, but that He should rather consider how pitiful the person is, and consider that they have suffered a lot of pain, and consider that they cling so tenaciously to their dream, and make an exception by allowing them to be saved—this is a notion of people. People have many “shoulds,” and use all these “shoulds” to determine what God should do and to define God’s actions. When the facts reveal that God has not done things this way, discord arises between people and God, and misunderstanding about God arises in people. So, is it only misunderstanding? People’s disobedience also arises out of this. These are the ills and consequences that notions bring to people.
The focus we are discussing is notions. Through the story we just spoke about, people can see that the protagonist used many notions to measure everything that God had orchestrated, and as a result of everything that happened to the protagonist and the way that God treated her, people develop many thoughts and demands on God—all of which are notions. Tell Me, what other notions do people have? (People think that since God has done such a big job, He should gain more people. But God says that if He can only gain a few people, then that is all He will gain, so people feel that God doesn’t like gaining that many people, and so they stop pursuing.) Notions impact people’s pursuit. A correction must be made here. It’s not that God doesn’t like gaining that many people, He does like it. There is a question here. When God ultimately determines people’s outcome, on what basis does God say that He will no longer work on them, and instead give up on them? God has a standard here, which is also a principle and a bottom line. If you have notions about this standard, principle, or bottom line, or cannot see it clearly, some conflicts with or imaginings about God will arise in you. Some people say, “God put so much effort into her and yet she didn’t change and didn’t let go of her wish, but even held fast to it, and didn’t come before God, so God gave up on her.” Is this the main reason He gave up on her? (No.) What, then, was the main reason? At the end of this story, when the protagonist grew old, although her appearance changed, and she aged as the years went by, and the times changed, what remained unchanged was her wish, and these almost blurred delusions of hers. So what made her keep holding onto such a wish? (An intransigent, rebellious disposition.) That’s right, it was the fact that she didn’t love the truth, didn’t pursue the truth, didn’t accept God’s words, and didn’t practice the truth that caused such a result. Her corrupt dispositions of arrogance, intransigence, and stubbornness made her keep holding onto her own wish and ideals, and stopped her from letting go of her ideals. What caused this? It was caused by her corrupt dispositions. So, whenever God sees a person reaching the end of the road, and their disposition is still intransigent, arrogant and stubborn, what does this mean? In the course of God’s work, although this person appears from the outside to be following God and performing their duty, they do not practice and experience God’s words in everything they do, and in essence they do not have life entry at all. So, do people like this truly accept and submit to God’s work? (No.) That’s right. This results in them finally being abandoned by God. They went through their whole life’s path, and although during life they came before God and comprehended that it was the Creator who orchestrated all of this, and that it is the Creator who arranges people’s destiny, during the period in which they followed God and listened to God’s words, their intransigent, arrogant, and stubborn disposition did not change at all, even at the very end, so this result is self-evident. This is God’s final standard—God’s principle—for giving up on someone. No matter what views people have, or what assessments they make about this principle and this standard of God, He will not be influenced by people and He will do whatever He ought to do. If you don’t engage with this person and don’t understand what this person’s innermost essence is and what their disposition is, but only consider their appearance, you will never understand the principle and root of God’s actions, and you will make judgments about God’s actions and His verdict with regard to this person. Let Me ask you, why would God mete out this kind of treatment to such a pitiful person, someone who has experienced all kinds of pain in life, someone who has experienced a lifetime of pain? Why would God give up on them? This result is something that no one wants to see, but it is indeed a fact and it really exists. What is the reason why God treats them like this? If God had worked on such a person for another ten years, would that person change, judging by their pursuit, their disposition, and the path they take? (No.) If He had worked on them for another 50 years and let them live a little longer, would they change? (No.) Why wouldn’t they change? (Their nature essence determines that they are not someone who pursues the truth, so no matter how many more years they believe in God, they will not change.) Who can say it in a more specific way? (The path they are taking is wrong, it’s not the path of pursuing the truth. This means that no matter how many years they believe in God, it will be pointless. Even if they believe in God for 10 or 20 more years, the path they take and the direction of their life will not change.) That’s exactly how it is. They have notions and imaginings inside them. They don’t pursue the truth, or pursue understanding of the truth, or pursue entry into the truth. All they pursue is the appearance of continually following, but the essence remains entirely unchanged. They believe in God for 10 or 20 years without pursuing the truth, or for 30 or 50 years and still don’t pursue the truth, and what they ultimately reveal and live out never changes. This is determined by their nature essence, and this is just the kind of disposition they have. It has never changed, and their notions and imaginings of God have never changed. So, does God have principles for dealing with such a person like that? Very much so. People always pretend to be good people, thinking how tolerant and great they are. But is your tolerance as great as God’s tolerance? Is your love as great as God’s love? (No.) So what is God’s tolerance? How can you tell that God is tolerant and loving? God uses various ways that are beneficial to people to bring them before Him, to get them to listen to His words and understand His words, and to get them to walk through life and practice in the way He requires. But that person doesn’t accept, and holds fast to their own views right to the very end. So does God give up on them during the course of their experience of life? (No.) God does not give up. In every stage of their life, in everything He does for them and everything He requires them to experience, God takes His responsibility seriously right to the very end. What is God’s purpose in taking responsibility right to the very end? To be able to see a good result, to be able to see a result that is satisfactory and agreeable to the person, so that they can enjoy the true happiness they wish for—this is God’s tolerance. But what is the result that God sees in the end? Does God see the result that He wants to see in the end? (No.) He doesn’t see it, there is already no hope in sight. What does it signify when God sees no hope? It means that God no longer has any hope in this person. In the words of humankind, He is despairing. If there is a glimmer of hope, then God will not give up. This is God’s tolerance and God’s love. God actually exerts His tolerance and love on people, rather than just saying hollow words. In the end, what God sees in this person is that their corrupt disposition has not changed, their stubbornness still persists, and their wish remains at the bottom of their heart. Although the person wants to be blessed, when they come before God, they let go of nothing. Instead, they hold on to this paltry wish for their entire lifetime, and cling to it for their entire lifetime, and grasp it tightly for their entire lifetime. On the surface, the person delivers themselves over to God, and delivers their life and all their relatives to God. But what is the reality? They want to be in charge themselves, in charge of the people around them, in charge of their relatives, and in charge of themselves, and additionally they want them to rely on each other—they don’t really deliver all of this over to God at all. No matter which way you look at it, the path which this person takes is not that of walking in God’s way, nor is it that of consciously meeting God’s requirements. They do not take the path of walking in God’s way at all. They have suffered so much and experienced so many extraordinary things in their life, but it still hasn’t made them abandon the beautiful and happy picture of life which they have drawn, nor has it made them reflect in any way. What kind of person is this? People like this are too intransigent. If people don’t pursue the truth and don’t follow the right path in life, then this is the final result. In the end, what God did was already all that He could possibly have done. It has already exceeded people’s imaginings and gone beyond what they can reach. God has given people too much. According to people’s corruption, their disposition, and their attitude toward God, they don’t deserve these things, and don’t deserve these blessings. But does God give up? God does a lot of work before giving up. God unstintingly bestows His love, His mercy, and His grace and blessings on them. But after they have received these things from God, what is their attitude in return? They still avoid Him and stay away from Him, and often inwardly doubt Him, guard against Him, conflict with Him, and give up. Why does the person constantly want to rely on others to create a happy life? They can’t bring themselves to believe in God. They don’t believe that God can lead people onto the right path and make them happy. They always feel that their own path is right. If God could have helped them and led them to fulfill their goals according to the path they have chosen and according to their requirements, they would have accepted and submitted. However, God expresses the truth to make people return to Him, so that they can accept the truth and live out a meaningful life, and this is at odds with the person’s notions. Therefore, they want to go their own way and live their own life. They think that they just have to rely on themselves and on others, and that they can’t achieve their goals by relying on God. Because people don’t understand God’s will and only hold onto their own notions, they stray further and further away from God. Only those who see that God is the truth, the way, and the life, and who see that people are corrupt in the extreme and in need of God’s salvation, and who see that only everything that God does is the truth, and that it is all for the sake of saving humankind from Satan’s influence and bringing humankind to a beautiful destination—only such people can look up to God, rely on Him, follow Him to the end, and never leave Him.
What we just fellowshiped on was God’s attitude toward a person, and also the various ways in which God works among people and on people. If people develop notions about these things, they should often examine, reflect, understand, and then turn themselves around. What is the purpose of turning oneself around? If people realize that these are notions and imaginings, and realize how God actually does things, are they still likely to develop some even more wrong and distorted notions about God? It’s still possible, because people are rebellious and have active thoughts, so they are likely to develop all sorts of different notions about God. One notion gives rise to another, which in turn gives rise to others, and all sorts of notions constantly emerge. At the same time that they are developing notions about God, people are continually misunderstanding Him, as well as reflecting, and then continually understanding the truth, and in this process they gradually come to know God. What is the reason why people cannot achieve knowledge of God? They don’t know what notions are, and don’t recognize the notions within themselves, nor do they reflect on their notions, or ever let go of them. They only focus on holding onto them, and never make the effort to learn or understand how God works, or what the essence of God’s work is. In this way, in addition to people’s corrupt dispositions, yet another thing comes between God and people that also affects people’s salvation. Therefore, while dealing with their own corrupt dispositions, people need to gain a finer and more detailed understanding of what human notions are. What is the purpose of understanding and resolving human notions? Is it to let go of them? It is so that people can enter the truth reality as quickly as possible, understand what exactly it is that God wants people to enter, and understand how God does things. If God did things in the way you imagine, could God’s work on you be effective? No, it couldn’t. For example, there are some things that God never enlightens you about. Instead, He stipulates in explicit terms how to do them, and you just need to go and do them. But you always wait for God to move and enlighten you, and as a result, this waiting delays the work, you don’t fulfill your duty properly, and you end up getting replaced. What caused this? (Notions.) Looking at it now, do people’s notions affect their entry? (Yes.) To what extent do they affect it? At the very least, they affect people’s understanding of the truth and their entry into reality; at worst, they affect people’s correct choices and easily lead them to take the wrong path. People are most likely to misunderstand God when they have notions. For example, God prunes and deals with people, and judges and chastises them entirely in order to achieve positive results, so that people gain a better understanding of themselves and truly repent. However, people think that God is intentionally standing against them, and that He deliberately wants to expose them and cast them out. No matter what God says or does, they always think the worst of Him, and believe that God has no love for them, and that they even treat those who practice the truth as fools. God shows people the right path and allows them to practice the truth and live in the light, but they choose instead to live in the darkness according to satanic philosophies and satanic logic. Thus, the path they are walking is not the path of salvation. If you insist on going against God, are you not straying further and further away from God’s work? As you stray further and further away from the path of salvation, you will be utterly cast out. There is a saying in the Bible: “Fools die for want of wisdom” (Proverbs 10:21). Is death serious? In the context of the last days, dying is not serious, but perishing is serious. Dying doesn’t mean perishing, whereas perishing necessarily means not having an outcome—being dead forever. In the past, it was said that people could die from foolishness. But nowadays, foolishness isn’t a big deal. Who doesn’t do foolish things? Dying isn’t a big deal either, because dying doesn’t necessarily mean perishing. So, why do people perish? People perish because of their stubbornness and obstinacy, which is much more serious than dying from foolishness, because there is no outcome. Why do I say that stubbornness and obstinacy can lead to people perishing? This relates to the issue of the path that people take. What kind of disposition is stubbornness? Intransigence. Having an intransigent disposition is very troublesome. Sometimes people don’t understand and just want to do things this way, whereas sometimes they understand but still want to do things this way, without following God’s requirements. In addition, obstinacy is also a kind of disposition—that is to say, imperviousness to reason—and it involves arrogance and viciousness. If these two dispositions do not change, they may eventually cause a person to perish. Is this a simple matter? Can you apply it to yourself? You should understand what arrogant and vicious dispositions can lead people to do. Everything that people do, no matter who they are, is done in front of God, the Creator, and God will pass verdicts on people according to His righteous disposition. So, for people with arrogant and vicious dispositions, what are the consequences of the things they do? Why could it be said that these are irreversible consequences? You should all understand that, right? Okay then, we will say no more about the notions involved in this story.
Regarding people’s notions of God’s work, can you think whether there are any others that we haven’t talked about? Are the notions you have heard today the only ones people have regarding God’s work? If we talk about judgment and chastisement, trials and refinement, pruning and dealing with, as well as exposing or perfecting people, what content does that relate to? What kind of people does God prune, deal with, judge, and chastise? What kind of people face trials and refinement? In doing these jobs and using these ways to work on people, God has a principle and a scope, which are based on people’s stature, their pursuit, their humanity, and the degree to which they understand the truth—I won’t talk in detail about this today. In summary, God deals with, prunes, and disciplines people, judges and chastises them, and subjects them to trials and refinement—God works on people according to these several steps. The principle of God’s work on people and which step the work is done to are based on a person’s stature. This term “stature” may seem somewhat empty to you all. It is mainly measured based on the degree to which a person understands the truth, whether the relationship between the person and God is normal, and also based on the extent to which the person obeys God. If we make a distinction based on this, have most people now faced judgment, chastisement, trials and refinement? For some people it may be still early for these steps, they can see them but cannot attain them, while for other people, such a sight is somewhat frightening. In short, these ways are the steps that God takes to save people and make them perfect, and God determines these several steps based on accurate definitions of all of a person’s various aspects. None of the work that God does on people is arbitrary. God does His work in a step-by-step and principled manner. He looks at your pursuit and your humanity, as well as your perceptiveness, and the attitude by which you deal with all kinds of people, events, and things in your daily life, and so on. Based on these things, He determines how to work on people and how to guide them. God needs a period of time in which to observe a person. He doesn’t come to a hasty verdict based on one or two things—God is never that rash in each of the things He does on any person. Some people say, “I’m afraid of that way in which God put Job to the test. If ever that actually happened to me, I wouldn’t be able to bear witness for God. What if God really did deprive me of everything like that? What would I do?” Don’t worry, God will never work on you so arbitrarily, you needn’t be afraid. Why needn’t you be afraid? Before being afraid, you must first convince yourself with a fact, and consider your stature. Do you have Job’s faith, Job’s obedience, and Job’s fear of God? Do you have Job’s degree of loyalty and absoluteness in walking in God’s way? Take the measure of these things, and if you have none of them, then you can rest assured that God will not subject you to trials and refinement, because your stature does not measure up and falls far short. People also have some notions and imaginings—as well as suspicion, fright, or avoidance and guardedness—about God’s trials and refinement. Once people have gained a thorough understanding of these things and of how God works, their notions of God’s work will gradually disappear, and they will focus on pursuing the truth and putting effort into God’s words. The purpose of Him saying these words is to achieve this aim. In following God, you must understand how God works and saves people. If you are truly a person who pursues the truth, then go and do things according to God’s requirements. Don’t look at God through colored lenses, and don’t use your own petty mind to fathom the mind of God. You must understand what exactly the principles of God’s work are, what the principles by which God treats people are, to what extent God works on a person, and what God’s standard of measurement is. Once you understand these things, what should you do next? What God wants to see is not that you give up your pursuit of the truth, nor does He want to see the attitude of someone who writes themselves off as a lost cause. He wants to see that once you comprehend all these true facts, you can go and pursue the truth in a more steadfast, bold and assured manner, recognizing clearly that God is a righteous God. When you come to the end of the road, as long as you have reached the standard God has set for you, and you are on the road to salvation, God will not give up on you. As regards people’s notions about judgment and chastisement, trials and refinement, and pruning and dealing, I will talk briefly about these now. There are still a great many detailed aspects, too many to explain clearly in this short talk. It would be necessary to give some examples of how people manifest and reveal these notions in daily life, and it would also be necessary to tell some brief stories and incorporate a few simple characters and plots, so that you could understand or interpret people’s notions through these real-life examples, and so that you could realize that these things are notions that are discordant with reality, and completely at odds with the principles and standards of God. God does not even do that, so why do you keep thinking and speculating blindly? If you constantly live in your own notions and imaginings, you will never, ever follow the path of pursuing the truth according to God’s requirements, and you will always be far away from God’s requirements. If you go on like this, you will have no path to practice and you will always be subject to constraints. Wherever you go, you will hit a wall at every turn, leaving you at a loss as to what to do, and nothing will go smoothly in the slightest. As a result, in the end you will not even be entitled to receive God’s judgment and chastisement. How lamentable that would be!
When it comes to believing in God, no one has been earnest with you before. Now is the time to be earnest, because this is the critical juncture! Time is running out, so don’t treat faith in God as something to play around with. God has resolved to make people complete and to save people, and He wants to complete this work thoroughly. How does He go about doing it thoroughly? By telling people all aspects of the truth, so that they can clearly comprehend it and not go astray. God will discipline you when you go astray. If you often stray onto your own path, God will continue disciplining you until you return to the right path. In the end, if God has done all He can and you still haven’t met God’s requirements, who else is there to blame? You can only blame yourself. At that time, all that is left for people to do is to beat their breasts and cry bitterly. What is the most important thing when it comes to people’s understanding of the truth? They must accept the truth and, after accepting it, be able to seek the truth and link it to their daily life. Only in this way can people gradually achieve a genuine understanding of the truth. When you listen to sermons and gain an understanding of their literal meaning, you think that you understand—this is not really understanding the truth. It is only an understanding of doctrine. Once you understand that when listening, you must link it in real life to your own state and your own entry, so that you can get to know yourself and be able to practice the truth. Only that means you enter into the truth reality. If you don’t practice this way, the truth has nothing to do with you, God’s words have nothing to do with you, and so God has nothing to do with you. If you don’t practice the truth, you will gain nothing!
October 11, 2018